Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #13

Issue Date: 
February 1989
Story Title: 
“God’s Country Part IV:

First Story:
Ann Nocenti (writer), Rick Leonardi (penciller), P. Craig Russell (inker), Ken Lopez (letterer), Mike Rockwitz (colorist), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

First Story:

The neighbors gather outside the house, noting that Bruce is boarding up all the windows. They gossip a bit and talk about how Grampa has taken to living in an old car. Grampa, meanwhile, is sitting in the car and talks about how he doesn’t care that they are gossiping about him and how he’s going to live in his old memories instead of fighting. Bruce wants to bring Grampa inside and asks Roxanne to convince him, but she is starting to get worse and babbling about their next picnic. Peter points out that the phones are dead and that they should retreat to a hotel, but Bruce replies that he can’t afford a hotel, because he is an out-of-work veteran with no money. The two of them begin arguing about human rights in America and abroad, until Peter says both countries have let their people down. He takes Zackery’s hand to stop the boy’s violent playing and says they must stop the fighting for the sake of the boy’s generation. It is night now and the Cold Warriors show up and fire at the house. Bruce shoots at them with his rifle while Colossus runs outside in his armored form to confront them directly. He knocks one out and encounters a woman with bionic arms. She begs him to hit her and pretend to take her prisoner so she can talk to the family, but Colossus says he can’t. Inside, Roxanne comes to her senses a bit and begs Bruce not to kill anyone and asks if the neighbors heard anything. Farther away, the neighbors decide not to call the police because it would end the excitement.

Full Summary: 

First Story:

Night. The family’s neighbors have gathered along the fence outside their property. They see that something strange is going on and comment on how boarding up windows isn’t very neighborly, as well as noticing Bruce carrying an armload of guns.

A white-haired woman says to an old man that she saw Roxanne with coils of rope. The old man tells a blonde woman that Roxanne had coils of rope around her hands. The blonde woman says “No!” in disbelief and how she believes Bruce is a sweetheart, yet turns around and tells another woman how she saw Roxanne in the garden last week with welts on her wrists. The first woman then pipes in, saying Roxanne’s face does look kind of bruised.

They then start talking about Roxanne’s “incident” and bring up how Bruce always looks at her funny, expecting another one. Then one of them asks who the big guy with the accent is and someone guesses that he’s a war buddy. Someone adds a bit more to this rumor and postulates that Bruce had some shady dealings with foreigners during Vietnam. Someone else points out that Bruce has been funny in the head and bitter since the war. They then turn their attention to an old car in the yard and talk about how Grampa is an old coot for living in there, remembering the good old days, and expecting a happy ending.

Inside this old car are tons of memorabilia. There are models of bi-planes, an old banjo and countless pictures of old movie stars taped to the windows and roof. Amidst all this sits Grampa himself, laughing at the “gossip-mongers” as he calls them and wishing he knew what they were saying about him. He looks down on the gossipers as eating up gossip as if it were a tasty food and looking down on others in jealousy with their ears getting bigger every year. Grampa decides he will really give them something to talk about since this “memory car” is going to be his new home. He’s going to stay there with Ingrid, Gable, Betty and Flynn; out of the firing line and the Cold War that’s brewing here at home.

Inside the house, Bruce yells that Grampa is embarrassing him because he’s acting like a kid in a clubhouse. He asks Roxanne to get Grampa inside before he gets killed, but she can’t do much outside of babble about going on another picnic. Peter appears behind Bruce and tells him the phones are dead. He wants the family to check into a hotel for the duration of this fight, but Bruce tells him to shut up about it. Peter starts to argue, but Bruce cuts him off and explains that he is an out-of-work veteran who has no money for his wife’s health care or even for his son not to have to share a room with Grampa. He can’t check into a hotel with no money! During all this, Zackery is sitting on the floor, playing violently with his toy soldiers while the pistol he had been wielding is on the floor beside him.

Peter tells Bruce not to complain to him, but to the country Bruce loves so much. He says the USA champions human rights and considers itself a shining beacon in a despicable world so they should. Peter wants to know if this country considers a job, a home and health care part of these precious human rights. Bruce says that in America there is free speech and a freedom to choose religion, unlike “Communist--.” Peter cuts him off abruptly and points out that America offers wonderful rights but both systems have flaws. He says Russia’s health care and education suffer in quality but at least they’re considered basic rights. To him, the homeless and unemployed on American streets represent human right violations as bad as religious persecution.

Bruce won’t have any of this and says the homeless need to clean up and get a job because his country protects the higher rights. Peter is getting angrier and says this talk of “higher rights” is just rhetoric used to justify America’s international policies that back wars which violate every human right. Bruce says America backs freedom fighters that battle for democracy just like their founding fathers did.

Peter looks down to Zackery’s violent playing and tells Bruce that they need to stop arguing. He says his only point is that the media of both countries spread lies and propaganda that keep all the people pitted against one another; that both countries have let their people down. Peter gently takes the boy’s toy soldier from him and holds his hand in friendship. He says both democracy and communism have strengths but both fall short of what they promise. Peter wants the fighting to stop before it’s too late for Zackery’s generation.

Outside, the full moon hangs high and the silhouettes of guns become visible along the fence outside the house. The Cold Warriors are here at last and open fire on the house. Bullets whiz through the boarded window, but Peter turns into Colossus and shields young Zackery with his metallic body while Bruce pulls his wife to the floor alongside him. Bruce returns fire with his rifle through the opening between two of the boards on window and Colossus says he’s going outside.

The X-Man moves outside and two of the Cold Warriors open fire on him, but the bullets harmlessly bounce off. Behind him, Jocko approaches with his claws extended alongside a woman with bionic arms. Jocko says this is round two and starts cutting Colossus. He tells the woman, whom he calls “Number Six,” to break Colossus. Number Six acknowledges this and grabs hold of Colossus’ right arm. This does neither of them much good since Colossus is easily able to backhand Jocko with left arm and then use his superior strength to flip Number Six over his head, slamming her into the ground.

He has his hand around her throat and is about to punch her again when Number Six whispers to him that she wants to be taken prisoner to talk to the family inside the house. She wants him to hit her. Number Six notices Colossus hesitating and asks him what he’s waiting for. Colossus just replies that he can’t do it.

Inside, Roxanne comes to her senses a little and tells Bruce to try not to kill anybody. She wonders if the neighbors heard any of this. They have because they are all gathered around the fence talking about the shot they heard. The gossipy neighbors decide not to call the police because that would end the excitement.

Characters Involved: 

First Story:


Bruce, Grampa, Roxanne, Zackery (the family)

The family’s neighbors (unnamed)

The Cold Warriors (Jocko, Number Six, unnamed others)

Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:

2nd story: Black Panther, “Panther’s Quest (part 1 of 25).

3rd story: Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, “Reed’s on the rood and we can’t get him down.”

4th story: Shanna the She-Devil, “A Tooth for a Tooth.”
First story:

This issue takes place while the X-Men pretended to be dead and lived in an abandoned town in the Australian Outback, between Uncanny X-Men #227 and Uncanny X-Men #250.

It is assumed the situation at the end of last issue, Zackery holding Colossus up at gunpoint, was resolved between the end of that issue and the beginning of this one, as Zackery is seen playing with toys with the gun beside him and looking angry about a possible reprimand that happened off-panel. It may have been an editorial decision since comics had more censorship in regards to portraying children with guns and drugs during the time this story was written.

The movie stars that Grampa mentions are Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund in Casablanca), Clark Gable (Rhett Butler in Gone with The Wind), Betty Grable (The Gay Divorcee) and Errol Flynn (Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood…as well as being one of Nightcrawler’s favorite actors!)

Issue Information: 

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