Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #23

Issue Date: 
July 1989
Story Title: 
<BR>The Retribution Affair - part 7: Mind your Conscience (1st story)

First story: Bob Harras (writer), Ron Lim (penciler), Jeff Albrecht (inker), Agustin Mas (letters), Andy Yanchus (colors), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First story: Cyclops utilizes his last strength and manages to fire an optic beam, causing master Mold to drop him. The robot leaves him for dead and goes though with his plan to merge with the base’s computer systems and launch the death spores. Though somewhat damaged, Conscience is still functional and he gets Cyclops to come around. The discuss their strategy and, learning that Master Mold represents Stephen Lang’s rational mind and Conscience his emotional side, Scott comes up with the idea to merge the two. Callisto helps them reaching the control panel needed for Conscience to interface, though when they run into an army of Servitors its again Scott’s optic beam that clears the way. Conscience plugs into the system and tries to override Master Mold’s core, which doesn’t like the second presence in its mind and warns Conscience about them all being destroyed. Elsewhere in the base, Moira MacTaggert makes a startling discovery while going through the Retribution Virus research data. Looking at the virus-ridden body of her lover, Sean Cassidy, held in a stasis tube, she thinks that she has only one chance to try something out.

Full Summary: 

First story:

It is said that in times of utmost distress and hopelessness, a man may reach deep within himself and discover unexpected reserves of strength. This is indeed one of those times, as Scott Summers, dying from a heinous disease that may soon wipe out all of humanity, finds himself caught in Master Mold’s grip struggling to get free. Scott summons forth his birthright, his unique mutant power and unleashes his optic beam with a fury born of angry desperation – straight in Master Mold’s face.

Holding its damaged right facial half with one hand, the giant robot throws away Scott’s limp body, cursing at him and calling him a fool for thinking he would be able to stop Master Mold at this stage. Scott Summers falls down right next to the scorched remains of Conscience, another one who crossed the robot at a bad time. Slightly disturbed that Scott’s power returned, as Moira MacTaggert said it would fade once the disease advanced, Master Mold turns to the base’s computer system to proceed with the plan of launching the Death Spores.

Against Master Mold’s belief, Conscience is not fully deactivated. Lying on the ground, he shoves himself closer to the unconscious Scott Summers and checks whether he is still breathing.

Maser Mold, meanwhile, is directly interfacing with the base’s systems. Several cables and wires emerge from the robots fingertips, connecting with the control panels, for Master Mold wants to leave nothing to chance. Now controlling every aspect of the vessel, it activates the final countdown for the death spores to be released.

Behind him, Conscience kneels over Scott, still unsure whether the “mutant swine” is alive or dead. Scott comes around and pushes away Conscience’s hand, telling him that he doesn’t die that easily but, apparently, neither does Conscience. The cyborg says that he was built to last, like everything that Master Molds creates; if anyone should know it should be him. Scott recalls that he is right, for both Conscience and Master Mold are based on the same brain engrams – those of Stephen Lang. However, he notes, they are so different.

Conscience explains that while Master Mold is based on Lang’s rational mind and, therefore, a tactician and problem-solver. He himself was programmed with Lang’s emotional side: love, hate and memories. Scott continues that this is why Conscience sees the Retribution Virus as the disaster, while the giant robot still views it as an acceptable means to reach the desired end. Conscience confirms it, calling his alter ego “a bit limited.” Scott wonders, though, as both of them are machines that were programmed and can be reprogrammed, wouldn’t it be possible to merge their programmings as they stem from the same source? And, if that were the case, could Conscience’s views dominate? Conscience understands that Cyclops is asking him to infiltrate Master Mold’s programming like a worm, or actually like a virus. Scott confirms it, saying it’s kind of ironic.

Elsewhere in the ship, Moira MacTaggert is still working in the genetics lab. She has run into some problem, as for some reason the records on the creation of the Retribution Virus don’t seem to make sense. Sure, she was hypnotized when she made the notes but the entry on white blood cells is odd. Suddenly, though, Moira gets an idea.

In the Death spore chamber, Cyclops and Conscience are joined by Callisto, whom Scott is glad to see okay. She tells the two that if they are going to stop Master Mold they better do it now, for, as soon as it has merged with all systems of the ship, Moira will be discovered in the lab and any chance for a cure will be gone. And, she adds, if there is the slimmest chance, then she wants to live. Conscience again teases the former Morlock leader, telling her that, if she wasn’t a mutie, he’d kiss her, earning him yet another “Shut up.” Callisto tells him that he might still, despite both of them for being mutants, but he should hurry to save his beloved humanity. Conscience answers that he would like to get started; unfortunately there is a “little problem.”

He refers to the small army of Servitors, which have just entered the room. Scott becomes angry again; they have come too far to fail now. Again utilizing his inner strength, Scott unleashes a powerful optic beam that dissolves them all. Conscience comments the display of power with his usual jokes, getting on Callisto’s nerves again, though he also reminds himself not to get the mutants angry again if this is what happens. Their opponents destroyed, Cyclops tells Conscience to get to business.

Working in the lab, Moira confirms her earlier suspicion and, best of all, neither Master Mold nor Conscience ever suspected what she has discovered. Looking at her lover, Sean Cassidy, held in a stasis tube before her, Moira says that she doesn’t have a choice, as there is too much at stake but she prays he’ll live to forgive her.

Conscience walks to the wall of control panels that Master Mold has connected with. He tells Scott that he is asking a lot of him, giving up his individuality, and he asks himself why he is going through with it. After all, nobility wasn’t one of Stephen Lang’s best traits. Having reached the wall, Conscience says, “Oh, conflict - to plug in or not to plug in.” Then he enters the ship's systems the same way that Master Mold has, by directly connecting with the equipment. The experience is a big rush for him and he finds Master Mold’s brain to be rather big – he even feels a bit sorry for having to stop the robot’s absurd plan.

Sensing the second presence, Master Mold yells for Conscience to get out of its systems before he destroys them all.

Characters Involved: 

First story:



Moira MacTaggert


Master Mold



Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:

2nd story: Black Panther “Panther’s Quest“ – part 11 of 25

3rd story: a stand alone story featuring the Falcon

4th story: a stand alone story about the Wheels of Wolfpack

Issue Information: 

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