Monday, December 30, 2013


The Wages of Conquest
Credits:  Mark Bernardo (writer), Joe Bennett (penciler), Joe Pimentel & Tim Dzon (inks), Christie Schelle (colors), Jack Morelli (letters)

The Plot:  After discovering Roxxon Oil’s ties to Dreadknight, the latest ruler of Latveria, Betty Brant is kept captive.  The Latverian government announces that Americans are prohibited from entering the country, leaving Spider-Man with no immediate way to rescue Betty.  Soon, he’s contacted by Silver Sable, who asks Spider-Man to aid the Wild Pack in overthrowing Dreadknight.  He joins the mission, but disobeys orders and leaves on his own to rescue Betty.  While escaping, he encounters Dreadknight and defeats him.  On their way home, Silver Sable informs Spider-Man he won’t be paid because he defied orders.  Later, Roxxon publicly disavows Linden Laswell, the “former” Roxxon employee that helped Dreadknight’s coup in return for Latverian drilling rights.

The Subplots:  None.

Web of Continuity:  
  • I believe this is the first (and perhaps only) appearance of the Byline, a pub downstairs from the Daily Bugle’s offices.  Jonah Jameson has been drinking there since the Bugle’s layoffs began.
  • Dr. Doom is still missing following the events of Onslaught: Marvel Universe, leaving a power vacuum in Latveria.
  • Wild Pack member Battlestar is incorrectly colored Caucasian during his brief appearance.
  • Silver Sable is being hired by the gypsy tribe that Dr. Doom once belonged to.  The story claims the tribe has “pooled their resources” in order to pay Sable’s fee.

I Love the ‘90s:  When Spider-Man discovers the high-tech weapons being smuggled into Latveria, he comments that it would make “Saddam Hussein drool.”  Later, Jonah Jameson tells Peter Parker to get Dr. Kervorkian to finance his trip to Latveria.  

Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  During Linden Laswell’s fight scene with Silver Sable, he remarks that she’s on her knees, “just where I like my women!”

Review:  At the end of the story, Peter points out how annoying it is that Roxxon has gotten away with illegal behavior once again, just a few weeks after the incident in the Savage Land.  Yes, it is annoying, but it’s annoying because so many writers go for that trite ending that has the all-purpose evil corporation magically able to get away with anything.  Just declaring someone "fired" alleviates you of any investigation; that's how it works. And of course Betty doesn’t have any “concrete” evidence to tie Roxxon to any wrongdoing.  How could we not see that coming?  Ignoring the ending, we’re left with a fairly average Unlimited story.  Dreadknight is an unexpected choice for villain, and Bernardo integrates his past with Dr. Doom into the story well, so there is at least a welcome break from the standard Spider-Man rogues gallery.  And if you like Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, Bernardo seems to care enough to get their names right.  There’s also a nice scene between Peter and a dejected Jonah Jameson, who hasn’t seemed to have much of an opinion either way about Betty being a reporter up until this issue.  Mark Bernardo tends to be one of the better writer/editors of this era, so I'm not opposed to more Unlimited stories by him in the future. So, it’s not all bad, but Joe Bennett’s art is stuck in Generic ‘90s Mode this month, and like most Unlimited issues, you get the sense that you’re reading a double-sized inventory issue.

Friday, December 27, 2013



Powerless & Responsibility
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Jason Armstrong (penciler), Ron Boyd (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  DK escapes from Ravencroft, while Spider-Man faces the Vulture.  He manages to web up the Vulture, but not before Vulture severely wounds the new Prowler.  Vulture escapes as Spider-Man takes Prowler to the hospital.  Later, DK emerges in Central Park, demanding to see Spider-Man.  When Spider-Man arrives, DK reveals that he’s using his decomposing powers to kill himself, but he wanted to say goodbye to Spider-Man first.  Vulture suddenly attacks, ending up in DK’s decomposing remains.  DK uses his remaining energy to sap Vulture of his vitality, returning him to an old man.

The Subplots:  Hobie Brown tells Peter that he might be able to walk again in a week.  Aunt Anna is disturbed by the young daughter of the Parkers’ new neighbor.  Billy Walters continues to annoy Peter.  In space, a tiny fragment of the Living Monolith chips off and falls to Earth.

*See _________ For Details:  The Living Monolith has been orbiting Earth since the Revenge of the Living Monolith graphic novel.

I Love the ‘90s:  When Billy looks for Spider-Man in Central Park, Peter sarcastically tells Billy that Spider-Man’s at home in his cave, watching Rosie.

“Huh?” Moment:  For some reason, Dezago has decided that Spider-Man now says "hafta" instead of “have to”…even when’s groggy and trying to maintain consciousness.  And the Vulture uses "hafta" in place of “have to” as well.  Did someone bet Dezago that he couldn’t work “hafta” into this comic ten times?

Review:  In case anyone noticed, I am ignoring the “Flashback” issue for now.  Better to do them all at once, I think, rather than have them continually interrupt the cliffhangers of their respective comics.  This issue finally resolves the Prowler/Vulture story, while also folding in that DK back-up serial into the main storyline.  I still can’t bring myself to care about DK, but thankfully this appears to be his final appearance.  I don’t know if Dezago always intended for DK to be the means of returning Vulture to his original status as a crotchety old man or if it suddenly occurred to him while writing the backup strips, but regardless, I’m not sold.  Based on his appearances in the previous issues, this is not how DK’s powers work.  “Decomposing” doesn’t mean “de-aging,” even if the Vulture regained his youth through artificial means.  This reads as if Dezago (or someone in editorial) just really wanted the original Vulture back and didn’t care too much about the details.  

For what it’s worth, I might be one of the few people who didn’t mind the young Vulture.  Mark Bagley’s redesign was pretty cool, and I liked the idea of the Vulture literally feeding off the life of people in order to maintain his youth.  I wouldn’t keep it as the permanent status quo for the character, but I thought it worked as a temporary revamp.  Plus, the Vulture’s terminal cancer storyline had to end some way in order to have the character back in circulation; having him be cured of cancer and regain his youth seemed like a justifiable way to bring some attention back to the Vulture at the time.

Ignoring the Vulture’s quickie do-over, there’s still some decent Spidey material in here.  We get a nice mixture of the highs and lows of Spider-Man’s life, as he goes from berating himself on one page for inadvertently allowing the Vulture to eviscerate the new Prowler, to learning on the next page that he’s helped to inspire Hobie to walk again.  I like that mix; I think it’s a far more honest view of life than the clich├ęd “Hard Luck Parker” nonsense that just has him living alone in endless misery.  And the art is a pleasant surprise as well, as Jason Armstrong delivers a cartoony style that’s not an abrupt change of pace for the book.  Although he can’t seem to keep Spider-Man’s costume consistent from page to page, bouncing between a Ditko, Romita, and Wieringo style with no rhyme or reason.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013



Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Chase (inks), Joe Andreani (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Peter bluntly tells Billy that he can’t do his job with Billy around, then disappears and reemerges as Spider-Man.  Prowler escapes by jeopardizing the crowd and distracting Spider-Man.  Later, after talking to Hobie, Spider-Man investigates the ER workers who might’ve discerned the original Prowler’s secret identity.  At the apartment of Rick Lawson, Spider-Man finds the Vulture and Prowler locked in another battle.  After webbing up Prowler, Spider-Man succumbs to vertigo, leaving him vulnerable to the Vulture’s attack.

The Subplots:  None.

Web of Continuity:  Spider-Man has been suffering from sporadic bouts of vertigo since his encounter with Morbius in Peter Parker, Spider-Man #77.

I Love the ‘90s:  The letters page advises you to save thirty-two cents on a stamp and send your letters through Marvel’s new email address.

Review:  Oh, this is going through three issues?  (And the story’s getting interrupted next issue for “Flashback” month?)  I don’t think there’s enough of a story here to justify that many chapters, although I suppose the two back-up stories ate up some space Dezago felt he needed.  This issue, Spider-Man discovers the new Prowler’s true identity, and thanks to a bit of synchronous cross-title continuity, also suffers a bout of vertigo that puts him in cliffhanger-worthy danger.  The art’s still great, and Dezago actually is working in some decent jokes now, so it’s not a bad middle chapter, even if the plot seems to be moving a bit too slowly.  I should also point out that Billy Walters, a character I’ve never had strong feelings for, serves his role adequately this issue as an annoying but well-meaning nuisance in Spider-Man’s way.  I can’t tell if he’s intended to be anything more than a Jimmy Olsen stand-in, but I do like the basic idea of Peter having to be a jerk to someone that doesn’t really deserve it.

Brother’s Keeper, Too
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Richard Case (artist), Gregory Wright (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  Spider-Man talks to the irrational DK, relating to him the loss of his own “brother.”  Spider-Man encourages him to move on.  DK comes to his senses and turns himself back in.

The Subplots:  None.

Web of Continuity:  Spider-Man’s “brother” is, of course, Ben Reilly.

*See _________ For Details:  The guards killed by DK now resemble ashes, which reminds Spider-Man of Ben’s death in Peter Parker, Spider-Man #75.

Review:  I can only assume these back-ups existed to buy Mike Wieringo some deadline relief.  As much as I like the work Wieringo’s doing during this arc, I think I would’ve preferred Richard Case continuing the Prowler/Vulture story and just getting the arc done in two issues.  Especially if next month is “Flashback” month, which is only going to drag things out even longer.  Outside of throwing a bone to the still-vocal Ben Reilly fans, I see no real point to these back-ups.  DK is angry, Spider-Man has an Oprah moment and tells him to let go of his anger, and everyone’s back to where they were before this started.  Except for the families of the guards casually killed during DK’s tantrum, of course.  We can’t let them get in the way of the schmaltzy ending, though.  Easily forgettable stuff, unfortunately.

Monday, December 23, 2013



Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Richard Case (inks), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  The Prowler’s costume is stolen from Hobie Brown’s apartment while he is hospitalized.  Spider-Man learns of the incident from Hobie’s wife Mindy while paying him a visit.  That night, the Vulture spots the new Prowler and initiates a fight.  Spider-Man gets involved, and in the confusion, loses both villains.  Later, while on a Daily Bugle assignment, Peter Parker spots the Prowler again at a construction site.

The Subplots:  Peter and MJ fight to keep Aunt Anna away from their dirty laundry, which includes a Spider-Man mask.  Later, Peter meets a new reporter he’s supposed to “break in,” Billy Walters.  Billy’s presence prevents Peter from confronting the new Prowler as Spider-Man at the construction site.

Web of Continuity:  
  • MJ is concerned about the bite Peter received from Morbius earlier in PP:SM #77.  
  • Billy Walters makes his official debut.  Outside of Todd Dezago’s comics, however, you’re not going to be seeing much of him.
  • The Vulture is still in a young man’s body at this stage, after the events of “Lifetheft.”
  • Peter’s story on the Savage Land from the previous arc is bumped to page seventeen of the Daily Bugle.  Jonah refuses to run the Roxxon angle because Peter brought back no evidence.

*See _________ For Details:  Spider-Man first met the Prowler in Amazing Spider-Man #78.  The Prowler was injured and is currently paralyzed due to the Great Game, as seen in Spider-Man Unlimited #14.  And the Vulture has a grudge against the Prowler following the events of the Prowler miniseries, which I did not know even existed.

I Love the ‘90s:  Spider-Man asks Hobie if he’s ever seen ER while visiting him in the hospital.

Review:  So the tangled web of Spidey continuity leads me to believe this arc is the next one chronologically, although says that an Omnibus-sized collection of Spider-Man stories has to take place in-between the main story and this issue’s back-up.  Ugh.  Another instance of Too Much Spidey occurs early in the issue, as MJ is just now reacting to the vampire bite Spider-Man received in Peter Parker, Spider-Man #77.  There’s apparently no way to get that arc to fit after the lengthy Chameleon storyline in Spectacular Spider-Man, so that leaves us with numerous Spider-Man stories where he’s bitten by a vampire but doesn’t care enough to acknowledge it.  This is extremely pedantic, I know, but I think the sloppy continuity of this era does hurt the overall line.  You don’t feel as if you’re reading about the life of Peter Parker, you’re reading a somewhat random collection of events spread out over numerous titles.  It works for the “pick and choose” fan who might buy one Spider-Man book a month, but it’s a shabby way to treat those hardcore readers who love this character so much they feel compelled to follow the entire line.  

Anyway, this begins a multi-part Vulture/Prowler story, and it’s pretty much what you expect from Sensational.  Light-hearted superhero action, pretty art, and the return of a relatively obscure figure from the past.  I’ve always liked the Prowler and didn’t understand why he didn’t get more of a push during the ‘90s (Isn’t he very obviously a Spawn prototype?), so I’m glad to see Dezago and Wieringo haven’t forgotten him.  I won’t claim to have read every Prowler story ever published, but Hobie and Mindy always seemed like classic Marvel characters to me, in the sense that both of them have absolutely normal lives that have nothing to do with supervillains.  At this point in continuity, Hobie Brown is out-of-action, and while I’m sure it’s tempting to just ignore an obscure Spider-Man Unlimited issue from the end of the Clone Saga, the creators actually acknowledge what’s happened before and use it as the impetus for a new story.  The readers still get a fantastic Wieringo rendition of the Prowler’s costume, and Dezago is smart enough to keep Hobie and his wife Mindy around, rather than recycling the design and using it to hype a new character that’s just going to disappear in a few months anyway.  If you like the Prowler, this is a treat, and if you never really paid attention to him, this is a nice introduction.

Brother’s Keeper 2
Credits:  Todd Dezago (writer), Richard Case (artist), Gregory Wright w/GCW (colors), Comicraft (letters)

The Plot:  At Ravencroft, Dr. Kafka informs Spider-Man that DK is reverting to his previous state.  She suspects that he’s using his ability to degenerate objects against himself as a subconscious suicide attempt.  DK grows irrationally angry and escapes his cell.  Spider-Man checks on two guards disintegrated by DK, then realizes that DK is directly behind him.

The Subplots:  None.

Web of Continuity:  Peter Parker has never met DK (alias David Kalen), as he is a villain from the Ben Reilly days.  David and his brother were exposed to toxic waste as punishment for threatening to expose an evil, polluting corporation.  David was mutated into a freak, while his brother died.

Review:  I had never heard of DK before reading this issue, but I’ll take a wild guess and assume he’s a villain created during Todd Dezago’s Spectacular Spider-Man run at the end of the Clone Saga.  Apparently, DK is internet slang for “don’t know” (I’ve honestly never seen anyone use it before), which may or may not have been the inspiration for his lame supervillain name.  Surely there’s more to his name than his civilian identity’s initials, right?  Regardless, Dezago apparently likes the guy enough to use him in the post-Ben days, and I can’t say it’s that great of an idea.  Even though his origin is recapped, DK still comes across as unsympathetic, and Spider-Man is really given nothing to do in the story except remind us that he’s never met this guy before.  The only highlight is Richard Case’s art, which is a nice-looking blend of Mike Wieringo and Ty Templeton.

Friday, December 20, 2013

X-MAN #61 & #62, March-April 2000


Falling Forward
Credits:  Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mike Miller (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Comicraft’s Troy Peteri (letters)

Oh, no.  There really are two more issues of this run.  With a few months to kill, Terry Kavanagh has apparently decided to go high concept and just drop the reader into a story that has X-Man as the prisoner of a group of unnamed aliens.  Even though much of the issue is annoyingly vague, I have to acknowledge that this is more readable than the average issue of X-Man.  Mike Miller’s art is clean and attractive throughout the issue, and Kavanagh thankfully allows X-Man to be more than a brat this time.  Giving him amnesia, a haircut, and an entirely new environment helps.  The specific plot elements don’t add up to anything yet (the aliens apparently want slaves to dig holes for the sake of digging holes, X-Man’s telekinetic powers are now restricted to only direct physical contact, an alien baby is somehow important, a floating entity named Fuzz is helping him escape…), but as the opening chapter of the storyline, that’s forgivable.  

The Dark Side of the Sun
Credits:  Terry Kavanagh (writer), Ben Herrera (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Comicraft’s Troy Peteri (letters)

So, the baby rescued last issue turns out to be the sister of Urch, the alien that seems to control Fuzz and is helping X-Man escape.  (And Urch turns out to be a guh-guh-guh-girl.)  X-Man helps return the baby to Urch’s father, who is a thief kept in another chamber of the prison colony.  Eventually, Urch and X-Man make it to the surface, where X-Man realizes he’s on the Shi’ar homeworld.  This recalls issue #55, which had Shi’ar agents targeting X-Man because of his ties to the M’Kraan Crystal.  (X-Man’s connection to the M’Kraan Crystal goes all the way back to X-Men Omega, in case you’re wondering, although I don’t recall the specifics making a lot of sense.)  

Lilandra appears, eager to throw everyone back into the gulag, until X-Man uses his powers for more than just explosions and mentally shows her the pain the prison colony is inflicting on its inhabitants.  Lilandra has an abrupt change of heart, and X-Man and Urch are set free.  It’s possible the ending was meant to tie in with the “six months later” premise of the “Counter-X” revamp, as X-Man is sent on a tiny rocket ship home, a journey that just might take six months.  Of course, the opening of all of the “Counter-X” books assumed that a lot happened in the six month gap, so that makes X-Man’s time spent becoming a “mutant shaman” even more compressed if you think about just how long his ride home to Earth took.  Therefore, just assume he passed through one of those wormholes the Shi’ar are always using to get here quickly.

For connoisseurs of bad comics, Kavanagh’s final arc is a bit of a disappointment.  Yes, it does feature his trademark introduction of new characters that are poorly fleshed out (such as the mysterious Fuzz, and an alien ally that looks like Sleepwalker referred to as “a Darkle” that we’re supposed to believe will be important later), and there is some dubious plotting, like Lilandra instantly forgetting that X-Man is supposed to represent a severe threat to the entire universe.  Yet, the dialogue is actually tolerable, and the plot moves along at a steady pace.  Heck, even the basic premise of the arc isn’t so bad, and ultimately revealing the Shi’ar as the alien villains is a decent use of past continuity.  And, most surprising of all, X-Man remains a…well, not a good protagonist, but a noticeably-less-annoying one during the arc.  Where’s this guy been for the past five years?  A part of me wanted Kavanagh to go out with his wildest, sloppiest issues yet, but to his credit, he’s actually delivered two of the strongest issues of his run.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

GAMBIT #14 - March 2000


The Sunset Dawn Book 3: Tomorrow Starts Today
Credits:  Fabian Nicieza (writer), Anthony Williams (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), Tom Smith (colors), Comicraft’s Troy Peteri (letters)

Summary:  In 1891, the Thieves Guild finds Ozymandias’ chamber.  Candra enters, thanking the Guild for showing her the way to Apocalypse’s secret library.  She imprisons Ozymandias as the Guild researches the texts of the Old Kingdom.  Meanwhile, Sinister stabilizes Courier’s cellular structure, but is unable to allow him to return to his original male form.  Sinister uses a drilling device to take Gambit and Courier to Ozymandias’ chamber.  There, Sinister defeats Candra, leaving her vulnerable to her fellow Externals, who are angered by her power play.  Sinister removes the knowledge of the Old Kingdom from the Thieves Guild and surgically places it inside Gambit’s brain.  After Sinister disappears, Gambit reveals to Courier that they’re stranded in the past.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Two subplot scenes set up future events in the series.  Rogue is visited by Fontanelle and told to help Gambit’s friends in Latveria, while Archangel receives an assignment from New Son to kill Gambit.
  • According to Ozymandias, the Old Kingdom predates even Apocalypse’s birth.
  • Sinister’s ability to shapeshift and seeming immortality comes from the cell sample Gambit allows him to take from Courier.  He assumes Courier can kill the sample, as he did in Gambit #9, but Courier is unable to repeat the same stunt for unknown reasons.
  • Later on, the idea of Sinister implanting secrets of the Old Kingdom in Gambit’s brain is somehow folded into the mysterious vial (or “bullet” as Nicieza used to call it) from Uncanny X-Men #350.

Review:  You might remember the first hint of Gambit’s time traveling adventure came all the way back in issue #2, when Tante Mattie had a dream/flashback of Gambit saving her as a little girl.  That event never works into this storyline, but Nicieza does throw in a reference to it on the next to last page, assuring us that Gambit will get around to saving Tante Mattie before returning home.  If that leads you to believe that the time travel arc suffered from some last minute rewrites, or never really congealed the way it was supposed to, I can’t argue with you.  For the first two chapters, I think the art was the major hindrance of the storyline, as the late nineteenth century setting and steampunk elements just didn’t translate.  The story had promise, though.  This issue, characters kind of pop up when needed, important plot developments occur with little-to-no explanation, and the event that was originally used to foreshadow this storyline finally occurs (we’re told) off-panel.  

Plus, Gambit’s still stuck in the past, and if memory serves, the resolution of how exactly he returned is botched.  It boils down to “he used his powers in a new way,” which is of course a stretch, but the execution was also hindered by the six month gap that was inserted into all of the X-books in early 2000.  Gambit’s stuck in the past, six month gap, bam!  He’s back.  And he’s leader of the Thieves Guild, so I hope you guys aren’t absolutely sick of those pests yet.  In fairness, Nicieza does use Ozymandias in a smart way this issue, playing off his original characterization as Apocalypse’s slave/librarian.  And, even if her plan goes nowhere, this is one of the few times we’ve ever seen Candra show some ambition and actually do anything.  But as far as Gambit goes, this isn’t a bad place to just say goodbye.  You can always look online if you really want to find out who New Son was, anyway.

Monday, December 16, 2013

WOLVERINE #149 - April 2000

Credits:  Erik Larsen (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Jimmy Palmiotti (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary:  Wolverine, now dealing with the loss of his powers, escapes the rain at Marvel Burger, the fast food restaurant that employs Nova’s alter ego.  Wolverine then searches the area to find the Magneto robot that appeared earlier.  He’s soon abducted by the Reanimator, who has assembled an army of discarded robots.  Nova notices the disturbance nearby and soon recruits the help of the New Warriors.  They learn that the Reanimator is a mutant who can no longer control his robotic creations after losing his powers.  The last of the robots is destroyed and Reanimator is sent to prison.

Continuity Notes:  
  • All mutants have lost their powers following the events of Uncanny X-Men #379.
  • The Reanimator is revealed as the shadowy villain from Wolverine #140.
  • The robots brought to life by the Reanimator are all from existing Marvel continuity, even though there are no footnotes to point you to their first appearances.  One of the robots appears to be the Living Brain from Amazing Spider-Man #8, a “forgotten” robot that actually shows up fairly often if you think about it.

“Huh?” Moment:  The robots are somehow still sentient, even though Reanimator lost his powers weeks ago (and is only now discovering it.)

Review:  Erik Larsen closes out his run, resolving one of his dangling plotlines (one that apparently made its way into Nova as well).  I’m not sure if anyone was too engrossed in the “shadowy figure controlling robots” mystery, as it was the obviously the most pedestrian of the ideas introduced by Larsen during his run.  What we really needed was the true identity of Khyber, because I know that’s been keeping me up nights.  

I recognize that Larsen wanted to tell different Wolverine stories during his stint; to pull him away from the “ninja and super-assassins” (a term Wolverine actually uses this issue on the final page) and towards more traditional Marvel villains.  Theoretically, that’s fine, but I think it led to stories that often felt like generic Bronze Age comics with Wolverine shoehorned in as the protagonist.  This issue is probably the most egregious example.  Wolverine stumbles on to villain, Nova helps, Wolverine beats villain.  The Reanimator is only notable for having a bizarre speech pattern, and I can’t tell what the point is supposed to be.  I think the idea is that he’s just not good at making villainous threats, but I’m not sure.  If the joke doesn’t come across, it’s not a great one.  

The art for the issue is handled by Graham Nolan, who had a brief stint doing random jobs for the X-office during the end of the Bob Harras days.  Nolan’s not flashy, but he serves the story well and I like his interpretation of Wolverine.  Unfortunately, the look of the issue is ruined by the odd coloring choices.  Everything’s too bright, and virtually all of the colors just look flat.  I can only assume that this is the work of the dirt-cheap color separators Marvel used to hire out of Ireland.  Apparently, everyone within Marvel hated their work, but they were the only company that most mainstream Marvel titles were allowed to use.
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