Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #171

Issue Date: 
January 1995
Story Title: 
Recorder (2nd story)

2nd story: Dan Abnett (writer), Brian Williamson (penciler), Michael Worley (inker), Madonna (letterer), Frank Lopez (colorist)

Michael Krager (assistant editor), Richard Ashford (editor), Ralph Macchio (group editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

2nd story:
The Recorder accompanies Force Works to Hong Kong. He recalls how he cancelled the original distress call from Hong Kong, hoping it would make the crisis grow to epic proportions. He analyzes the members of Force Works, and from the Hex-Ship above Hong Kong he examines and records their battle with the Mandarin’s Avatars, while hoping one of Force Works might die in battle.

Full Summary: 

2nd story:
‘Statement: I am the Recorder. A non-cellular life form created to think and record’ the enigmatic Recorder states aboard the Pegasus, Force Works’ Hex-Ship. At the time of this recording, he is with Force Works as the Hex-Ship decelerate from maximum cruise and comes in low across the Harbor of Victoria, also known as Hong Kong City. The Recorder analyses the human geopolitics, which shows him that Hong Kong is an important center of this planet’s economic culture. But he sees that today, the city is on fire. The Recorder states that Force Works have responded to this emergency, as they are, in human vernacular, heroes. ‘This is what they do’ the Recorder tells himself.

Aboard the Hex-Ship are the mighty USAgent, the powerful Scarlet Witch, the heroic Spider-Woma and the alien Century. Spider-Woman announces that they are coming in over the business district. ‘Looks like a war zone down there, people’ she tells her teammates, while the USAgent switches the Hex-Ship to hover mode, bringing it to a stand-still over the burning city. The Recorder reminds himself that he has been in the company of Force Works for some months, and have dedicated his systems to observing their existence and behavior. The Recorder knows that this decision is harmonious with his core programming as a Recorder, for his kind seeks out the noteworthy and the significant across the galaxy, and record such things for posterity.

‘I believe Force Works will provide me with much that is worthy of my attention’ the Recorder tells himself, before recalling that, so far, the cause of this crisis is unknown. The Scarlet Witch views a tactical hologram and announces that there are several apparently super powered individuals on a rampage below them. The Recorder zooms-in on the Scarlet Witch, and states that she is a human mutant with the power to manipulate natural probabilities, and is the team’s field leader. The Recorder decides that she has extensive experience of such matters. The Recorder turns his attention to Century and decides that Chance seems to have brought the alien traveller into the group. The Recorder states that he has not yet made a satisfactory assessment of his nature or motives.

Suddenly, USAgent asks what they are waiting for. ‘Let’s get downstairs and take the fight to them!’ he declares. Spider-Woman agrees and points out that if they don’t move soon, there will not be a building left standing. The Recorder focuses on USAgent and states that he is headstrong, courageous and determined, a soldier and a man of action. The Recorder believes that USAgent’s activities will provide him with the best footage. Turning his attention to Spider-Woman, the Recorder states that she possesses psionically-derived powers that mimic those of a terrestrial arachnid. He adds that he hopes to see these feats in action for his chronicle.

The Scarlet witch opens the outer hatch and tells her team to move. USAgent looks down and sees five creatures below. ‘This is gonna be fun!’ he exclaims. The Recorder notices that USAgent uses ironic euphemisms such as this when facing dangerous situations. The Recorder supposes that it is a self-confidence boosting form of denial, yet, whatever the reason, it fills him with keen anticipation. The Scarlet Witch points at the Recorder and orders him to stay on board the Hex-Ship and out of the way. The Recorder zooms in on the Scarlet Witch and detects no irony in her voice or expression. The Recorder wonders if she is genuinely concerned for his welfare, and seals the hatch once the heroes drop from it. He returns to his observation of the tactical hologram, and sees that on the ground, Force Works engage the creatures almost at once.

The Recorder cross-checks with his archival system and sees that Force Works’ opponents, unbeknownst to him, resemble beings from Chinese mythology. ‘They are clearly potent foes’ the Recorder decides, while finding himself wishing that the fifth member of Force Worsk was here today - but Iron Man disappeared ten hours ago during a clash with an individual known as War Machine. This is troubling for the Recorder, as he had hoped to record him in action, also. The Recorder turns his attention back to the events below and his diligence is rewarded, as USAgent uses his photon shield to protect Spider-Woman from mortal harm.

The Recorder is intrigued by these human expressions of friendship and support, but he is curious as to why USAgent was forced to act, as Spider-Woman’s flank was being tactically defended by Century. The Recorder accesses his memory banks and replays the battle from below, where he sees Century incapacitating one of the villains in a formidable display of power that the Recorder will savor. However, the Recorder notes Century stoops over the villains’ body, as if his attention is drawn by something. ‘Fascinating!’ the Recorder exclaims as without explanation, Century harnesses the teleportation abilities of his staff and vanishes.

The Recorder understands now why it was left to USAgent to safeguard Spider-Woman, however he has become increasingly frustrated now that two of his five subjects have disappeared. He states that the full drama of the incidents he has chosen to record is once again diminished, and adds that he has expended much effort in engineering these incidents for maximum spectacle and jeopardy. He recalls that when the Chaos Computer detected the trauma in this part of the planet, he was the first to learn of it, and erased the data, ensuring the crisis would grow to worthy proportions by the time Force Works became aware of it. ‘Have my rigorous efforts to manufacture true spectacle been for nothing?’ the Recorder wonders.

The Recorder looks back to the display where on the Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman stand between Hong Kong and destruction. He tries to console himself, and recalls that humans often give of their best when the odds, as they call it, are stacked against them. ‘Perhaps I will not be disappointed after all’ he decides. ‘Perhaps I will witness the heroism and drama I crave. Perhaps they will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat’. The Recorder smiles when he wonders if one of them will die. ‘The death of a hero…now that would be something worth the recording…’ he thinks sinisterly….

Characters Involved: 

2nd story:
Century, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent (all Force Works)

Recorder II

Butterfly, Deluge, Foundry, Lich, Q’wake (all Avatars of the Mandarin)

In the Recorder’s memory bank:
Iron Man

Story Notes: 

The other stories in this issue are:
(1st story) War Machine and Century in “POV”
(3rd story) Vengeance in “Identity Crisis”
(4th story) Nick Fury in “Codename, Woflen”

The War Machine and Century story takes place within the pages of War Machine (1st series) #9, chronicling further their trek through China, before they meet up with Su Yin.

2nd story:
This story takes place within the pages of Force Works #6, and ties into the “Hands of the Mandarin” crossover.

This story is narrated by the Recorder and taken from his point of view.

A constant annoyance to Force Works, the Recorder forced himself upon them in Force Works #1.

More about Century’s mysterious departure can be seen in Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #169, Force Works #6 and War Machine (1st series) #9.

The Recorder erased the Chaos Computer’s first announcement about the crisis in Hong Kong in Force Works #5.

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