Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #24

Issue Date: 
July 1989
Story Title: 
<BR>The Retribution Affair - part 8: Retribution and Resurrection (1st story)<BR>“Pharaoh’s Legacy Part 1: Change of Heart” (4th 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)

Fourth Story: Howard Mackie (writer), Rich Buckler and Joe Rubinstein (artists), Bill Oakley (letterer), Andy Yanchus (colorist), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

First story: Master Mold and Conscience struggle for control but the former seems to be stronger and orders the death spore release countdown to start. Trying to rid himself of his alter ego's influence, Master Mold rips parts of the station apart, accidentally creating a fire. Callisto passes out due to her infection with the Retribution Virus, but Cyclops finds it within himself to battle Master Mold, hoping to be enough of a distraction for Conscience to succeed in overriding the countdown. With a series of optic beams, he manages to severely damage the robot, but eventually he succumbs to the effects of the virus too and falls down unconscious. Just when everything seems lost, Banshee flies in, his sonic powers fully restored, and destroys Master Mold. It seems that, even under hypnosis, Moira MacTaggert had been subconsciously fighting Master Mold, for she left notes about its cure in the stations computer files. Due to his systems being in overdrive killing the virus, Banshee got his powers back, at least temporary, and Moira applies the cure to Cyclops and Callisto as well. Still facing the problem of the damaged ship carrying tons of the Virus, Conscience decides to act like a hero and offers to take the base into orbit for it to self-destruct, having in the end become a better man than Stephen Lang ever was. While Sean takes everyone to Muir Island, the ship with Conscience, Master Mold’s remains and the virus aboard, safely explodes in open space.

Fourth Story:

Alex Summers, Havok, is on vacation from the X-Men and is driving through the Australian Outback when he runs across a redhead in a broken down car. He offers to lend a hand when suddenly mercenaries on small skycraft swoop down and fire on them. Alex realizes that he has no choice and uses his plasma blasts to shoot one of the crafts out of the sky. The girl has passed out in the excitement, so Alex tries to lure them away in his jeep because they want him, not her. However, he doesn’t realize the mercenaries have him right where they want him. One of the planes drops some kind of goo at Alex. Amazingly, the girl comes to and jumps, knocking the both of them out of the way at the last second before Alex’s jeep is slimed. Alex shoots down another aircraft and the rest flee, but not before one blows up the girl’s car, causing Alex and the girl to have to walk through the Outback. Alex introduces himself and the girl says her name is Leila O’Toole. She explains that she is an archeologist running away from an Egyptian cult that still worships pharaohs. Unbeknownst to her, the cult still performed human sacrifices and, when it came time for one, she found it to be too much to handle. She ran and those men were mercenaries hired to retrieve her. Later, the sun has gone down and they hear a noise coming from the brush. Leila figures it is just a kangaroo but, unfortunately, it is a net trap and the two of them get caught in it! Some of the mercs from earlier walk up and one asks the others whether they should shoot them or skin them alive first.

Full Summary: 

First story:

Mere moments ago, the android entity called Conscience merged his artificial intelligence with that of his creator, Master Mold, in order to override the giant robot and stop it from releasing the deadly Retribution Virus, a disease so deadly that it has the potential of destroying all human life. However, Master Mold is a formidable enemy who is not easily thwarted and, declaring that Conscience will be destroyed, it sends an electric discharge through the ship's systems that they are both connected with. The entire base is shaken and Cyclops and Callisto, Conscience’s allies, are having troubles to keep standing.

Master Mold calls Conscience a traitor for trying to take over its brain and seeking to remove its creation's influence. Master Mold rips apart the cables and wires that connect it to the control panels in the wall, unwittingly causing some short-circuits and a fire. Despite these efforts, Conscience's voice is still in Master Mold's head, pleading with the giant robot to see its error and refrain from killing many humans along the way. Instead, Conscience offers for Master Mold to get in touch with his emotional side and floods its mind with many emotional images.

Master Mold doesn't agree, though, still convinced that mutantkind must be destroyed at any cost. Conscience knows better and says that the Retribution Virus is too unstable, which is their own fault for they jumped into it too fast. Maybe, he theorizes, they hated too much, maybe Stephen Lang was wrong and maybe even mutants don't deserve to die that way. Master Mold tells Conscience to shut up, saying that he made him too soft, but there is nothing stopping it now. With that, Master Mold orders the base's systems to engage the countdown for spore release, t-minus ten minutes.

Across the room, Callisto is holding her shoulder in pain. She tells Scott that it's the virus and that she can't fight anymore. All their hope of stopping Master Mold is with Cyclops now. Seeing his friend pass out, Scott gets angry and fires an optic beam at Master Mold, announcing that he managed to defeat the robot in the past and that he can do so again. While shooting another beam, Scott asks Conscience, still connected to the control panel, to stop the countdown, but the android says that he can't do miracles and Master Mold's influence is too strong -as it seems they'll all go down with the ship.

Cyclops is not willing to admit defeat and releases yet another optic beam at the giant robot, who finally decides to fight back, smashing his fist to the ground where the mutant is standing. Cyclops quickly leaps out of the way, seeking cover behind some debris from where he initiates another optic beam attack, hitting the robot in the knee. Master Mold rips out a piece of the floor, earning him a snappy remark from conscience that it is ruining their decor. Temporarily distracted, as Master Mold wants to answer his alter ego, Cyclops severs one of the robot’s hands with an intense blast, before firing another beam towards a wall, from where it ricochets off and hits Master Mold's left half of its face.

Trying to cover the damage with his equally incapacitated left arm, Master Mold uses his right hand to release a plasma burst at Scott's location. Once more the mutant manages to avoid being hit, though with the fires consuming more and more of the room, he finds his escape routes limited. Standing directly before the giant opponent, Scott says that he was trained to fight evil, and that his life is nothing compared to obliterating blind bigotry like Master Molds. That said, he firs an optic beam straight upward, towards the robot's face and shoulder area.

The robot can't help but be impressed. It thinks it impossible that, despite his body being ravaged by the Retribution Virus's effects, he still fights on. Conscience speaks in its mind again, explaining that this is what humans call courage, or righteous anger ... it's remarkably human. Master Mold mocks his alter ego, asking him whether he finds that endearing, before noting that Cyclops suddenly stopped his assault.

Indeed, Cyclops’ optic beam fizzles out and his entire body shivers. Scott yells that he can't die, not now, but his body betrays him. He falls to the ground once more, passing out. Conscience comments that Scott's passing out is getting monotonous by now, but Master Mold tells him to shut up - as it is finally over. He proceeds towards the unconscious Cyclops when, suddenly, a loud wailing sound is heard. The giant robot turns, wondering from where the noise is coming, and once more finds something it considered impossible and is not prepared for.

Carried by his own sonic emission, Sean Cassidy, also known as Banshee, flies in. Dropping off Moira MacTaggert in an area not yet consumed by the fire and carrying little Mary Campbell on his back, Sean says that the Banshee is back with a vengeance and out to finish the job that Cyclops started. Indeed, with his sonic scream he causes the already severely damaged robot to fall apart. He then heads back to Moira, who is already tending to Scott and Callisto, asking how they are. Injecting them some liquid, Moira says that this booster shot should hold both of them together until they get both of them to her lab.

As he starts to come around, Scott asks how he can still be alive. Moira explains that, apparently, she had been fighting Master Mold all along, on a subconscious level. Even hypnotized, the robot couldn't make her create such a thing as the Retribution Virus without her knowing how to cure it. She had stored the answer in the ship's computers, with Master Mold never suspecting that she had been destroying his plan from within the whole time. At least, Moira says, she is able to live with herself again. And an unexpected side effect, it turned out, is an at least temporary return of Sean's powers with his systems being in overdrive, killing the virus.

Seam says that the return of his powers, and for how long it will last, is of little importance right now, with the ship still being full of the Retribution Virus. As such, they can't simply leave. At this point, Conscience interrupts, telling the heroes not to worry, for he will take care of that. Scott wonders why, as with his mind being Stephen Lang's his hatred should know no bounds. Conscience answers that his mind is only based on that of Stephen Lang, but he was built to appreciate the wonders of mankind - art, music, literature, etc. He loves what man can be at his beast and, as it seems in the end, he bettered himself. "Isn't that what being human is about?" Conscience asks, before telling the heroes to leave.

As Sean departs from the ship, carrying Cyclops, Callisto, Moira and Mary, Conscience wonders out loud that he had never thought he'd be siding with mutants. Perhaps it would have been nice to learn more, but there is no time left. Conscience orders the ship to go into orbit and to begin the auto-destruct program.

On the windswept shore of Muir Island, five people look up in awe, when, for a brief moment, a brilliant flash illuminates the night sky before it fades in the growing light of the sunrise.

Fourth Story:

Alex Summers, the X-Man known as Havok, is driving his jeep across a dirt road in the Australian Outback on a much-needed vacation. He comes upon a voluptuous redhead, whose car has broken down, and offers to help her out. She says only a bullet could help her rental out at this point but says he can drive her into town.

Suddenly, the woman yells for Alex to look out and he quickly turns to see some airships coming at him. They resemble a Cadillac with wings and the men in them open fire. Alex pushes the woman to safety and they take cover behind her broken down car. He silently wonders why these guys are after him, since the X-Men are supposed to be believed dead.

The redhead is panicking because they’re trapped, but Alex tells her that he’ll handle it. Realizing he has no choice, Alex uses his power: the ability to fire superheated plasma beams. He successfully blows one airship out of the sky with his first shot! Alex then turns to tell his female companion that the enemies should be slowed down a little now, but finds that she has passed out from the shock and excitement.

In the sky, one of the men laments the loss of his teammate, Ling, in the sled that was shot down and the man beside him fires, saying Alex will regret his actions. Alex ducks behind the car again to avoid the incoming crossfire from several airships before returning fire in his own unique way. He realizes that they are trying to get in a position where they can outflank him and this proves they are professionals.

Alex decides that he needs to lead them away from the girl, since it is he that they want. He makes a run for his jeep and hops in, taking note that his plan seems to be working so far. Above, one man tells the pilot of his aircraft that Alex is in position and that he knows what to do. The pilot calls this man Brendan and acknowledges his order.

Below, Alex is struggling to get his jeep started when he is unexpectedly tackled out of the driver’s seat by the woman he rescued! He is puzzled until he looks up to see the skycraft from before dropping some kind of goop on his jeep. Alex asks the woman how she knew that was going to happen and she says that she didn’t; she just saw them and her thoughts raced.

Brendan is mad about the plan being botched by “the little witch.” The pilot tells him not to worry because, if they don’t make her pay, the Tracker will. He never finishes his threat, because Alex fires a two-handed blast that explodes their craft and sends them flying. Alex keeps firing and thinks that he should get the girl to cover.

Surprisingly, the skycraft shoots the girl’s rental car, blowing it up, and then flies off into the distance with the other craft. Alex tells her that they should have enough time to get back to town before the bad guys regroup. She points out that this won’t be so simple because both their vehicles are destroyed. He calmly says they’ll just have to walk.

The girl asks him how he can be so cool at a time like this and about his powers. He replies by telling her his name and insisting that there’s no time for an autobiography. Alex says they need to get to go a long way to get to the next town and it’s getting dark. He says his powers are no big deal and begins to call the girl by name when he realizes that he doesn’t know it. She says she is Leila O’Toole.

Alex asks Leila why she was in the Outback all alone, but Leila says that question is totally sexist and that he’s just trying to avoid talking about what he did back there. She says it made her feel tingly inside and she’d like to know how he did it. Alex tells her that he won’t talk about it right now; he’s not much of a talker at all. Leila says that she is and that she needs to tell her story to someone after being on the run so long.

She explains that she was in Egypt last year doing archeology work. An acquaintance got her involved in a cult that still worshiped the pharaohs and she did it as an educational experience. Leila learned that, every year the cult made a sacrifice to their god, but was horrified when she found out it was a human sacrifice. Leila recounts how a young woman was thrown on a stone slab before the cultists, all dressed in ancient Egyptian garb. The priest raises his knife before her and Leila screams and runs.

She has been running ever since. The cult doesn’t let anyone leave and she explains that those men were mercenaries, hired by the cult to bring her back. Alex is surprised that they were after her and she asks him why. He tells her not to worry about it when they suddenly hear a sound from a nearby bush. It’s dark now so they can’t see all that well in the dim light.

Leila dismisses the sound as a kangaroo and Alex agrees with her, but says they need to move faster and be careful in the darkness. He doesn’t get to say anything else because the two suddenly find a net tossed over them. Headlights from a nearby jeep bathes the two captives in light and some armed mercs step forward. One of them asks the others if they should shoot them now or skin them first.

Characters Involved: 

First story:



Moira MacTaggert


Mary Campbell

Master Mold


Fourth Story:


Leila O’Toole



Leila O’Toole

Pharoah cult members

Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:

2nd story: Black Panther “Panther’s Quest“ – part 12 of 25

3rd story: a stand alone story starring Shamrock

Fourth 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.

First story summary written by: Peter Luzifer

Fourth story summary written by: Android 247

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