Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #36

Issue Date: 
December 1989
Story Title: 
Having a Wild Weekend, part 6: Keep the Fire Burning (first story)

First story: Michael Higgins (writer), Erik Larsen (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Tim Harkins (letterer), Tom Vincent (colorist), Bill Sienkiewicz (cover artist), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First Story:
Rachel Summers finds herself in a never-ending fire, when she is confronted by a possible-future version of Shadowcat - Kate Pryde from Rachel’s timeline. Kate blames Rachel for her death when she escaped into the past, but Rachel believes someone is trying to desecrate Kate’s memory, when the future Kitty disappears, Rachel finds herself trapped in a room of darkness - until “Dark Phoenix” appears, harassing Rachel, and challenging her to a “light-saber” fight. “Dark Phoenix” also disappears, and Rachel is then confronted by a bird called Tweedie, who starts a death process on Rachel - until the rest of Excalibur arrive, with the reprogrammed cat Rochester that fought Kitty, now programmed to attack Tweedie, it swallows him whole. Rachel returns to normal, and Rochester explodes. Meanwhile, Captain Britain continues to watch himself travel down the yellow brick road, this time coming in contact with a very talkative lion.

Full Summary: 

First Story:
Rachel “Phoenix” Summers, girl from the future and founding member of Britain’s greatest super group, Excalibur, wonders what she has gotten herself into, for she finds herself in a place where there is nothing but flames as far as the eye can see. Everything looks the same no matter which way she turns. However, seeing something in the distance, Rachel realizes she may have been a little hasty, as she can see something in the distance that looks just like she does! Rachel jokes that she knows a girl is supposed to look her best, but she prefers to leave the mirrors at home.

Rachel supposes that whatever this other-self is, is just a reflection of what is currently happening to her. Suddenly, the “reflection” bursts into flames, decaying before Rachel’s very eyes. Rachel remarks that it is horrible, that it is like someone wanted her to witness her own death - and a rather gruesome one at that too. Suddenly, another figure approaches Rachel and asks her why she shouldn’t die in such a terrible fashion - is it any less than she deserves?

Rachel is shocked when she sees Kate Pryde standing before her. Rachel thinks that it is impossible, for it is the way Kitty will look in the future, the world that Rachel comes from. An angry Kate asks Rachel why she should suffer any less than she did, when she left her to be slaughtered, fleeing into the past seeking safety only for herself. ‘No! You’re lying!’ exclaims Rachel, claiming that it is not how it happened, not at all.

Rachel lunges out with her fist, and smashes some glass. She finds Kate Pryde gone, along with her wretched lies, while wondering how her enemy can defile Kate’s memory like that, what sort of twisted creature could even conceive of such a cruel deception? Walking past where the glass was, Rachel is relieved that there is now a way out of here - until the glass reforms, trapping Rachel in complete darkness.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s free teammates - Meggan, Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner and the real Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde - phase into the room where Kitty had a battle with Rochester the cat. Kitty motions to the large cat, now sleeping after she reprogrammed him. Meggan exclaims that he looks to cute to have caused any trouble for Shadowcat, but Kitty tells Meggan that Rochester is not the “pussy cat” that he seems to be - at least not yet.

Kurt asks Kitty what she means, so the girl-genius explains that she is going to program a new personality for the cat and put him to work for them. She remarks that although she has located the others, she hasn’t been able physically break through to wherever they are. Kitty hopes that they will be able to get around that by using some of the constructs that belong to this mad, mad world.

Elsewhere, Captain Britain continues along the yellow brick road, when he comes across a lion. ‘What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?’ asks the lion, before asking if it is something more, ‘Perhaps you haven’t got the courage to speak?’ Brian Braddock tells himself that he is definitely losing his mind, while really, Brian is strapped to a machine and watching himself on his journey along the yellow brick road.

Back at Rachel’s predicament, Rachel uses the “Phoenix effect” to shed some light on her dark situation, but as she does so, she hears a vaguely familiar laugh. ‘Foolish child!’ cackles a ominous voice, and a frightened Rachel realizes she has just been confronted by her mother…Dark Phoenix! But as the most powerful being in the universe comes into view, this facsimile Jean Grey exclaims ‘You have no mother, neonate!’ before boasting that she is far beyond Rachel’s primitive concepts, ‘All that is…I am’.

The Dark Phoenix claims that she was born with the first fire and shall remain until the last celestial spark is extinguished. She boasts that the power which is hers transcends the fragile concepts Rachel can summon, and as she flies towards Rachel she exclaims that she knows the Dark Side as well as the light.

Suddenly, the appearance of “Dark Phoenix” changes, she now sports a strange black mask, cape, gloves and boots and carries an odd sword. ‘Your powers are weak, old man’ “Dark Phoenix” says to Rachel, who replies that she isn’t an old man, before muttering that it is the wrong character, as she is wearing a white outfit and also carrying a sword. Rachel grits her teeth, exclaiming that necessity is the mother of invention, so she needs to see what the light-saber can do, and strikes “Dark Phoenix”, and as she thinks to herself ‘Just like in the movie’, “Dark Phoenix vanishes, the black costume falls to the ground.

A blinding light appears before Rachel, who exclaims that this didn’t happen next, and supposes that this is the part where “Dark Phoenix” becomes even more powerful than she can possibly imagine, not that she can see a thing. However, a large yellow-bird wearing a suit ‘Pooooor Phoenix-Bird! Is this better? Nothing that lives is not touched by a part of me. Come to Tweedie!’
Tweedie explains to Rachel that he will help her shed her mortal shell, to which Rachel asks him if he thinks that she will crack like an egg, to which the bird replies that he had something more dramatic in mind, telling Rachel that death is the certainty - the end to all burdens, all responsibilities - life the greatest of unknowns. As Rachel decays rapidly, Tweedie remarks that each day, every moment, contains risk, safety and perhaps peace can only be found in the grave.

‘I may be salvation or damnation!’ states Tweedie, before asking Rachel if she can guess which now is his heart’s desire. Suddenly, Rochester barges into the room, ‘Can you guess what I desire, bird-brain?’ the cat lisps, with Kitty, Meggan and Kurt riding his back. Kitty remarks that she has a feeling this is not going to be pretty and suggests they get off this fur-ball. As the trio drop to the ground, Kurt asks Kitty if she has something against fur, ‘Sorry, it slipped’ Kitty replies, before exclaiming ‘Oh…yuck!’ as Rochester clamps his teeth down on Tweedie.

The trio gather around Rachel, and Kitty tells her friend that this takes care of her problem - she thinks. Meggan asks the deformed Rachel if she is all right, to which Rachel mutters that she has felt better, ‘Yeah, you’ve looked better too!’ Kitty adds. Suddenly, Rochester begins to make odd noises, and as Rachel returns to her normal appearance, she asks what is happening. Kurt suggests that whatever it is they do not want to be a part of it, and the four heroes begin to run, only to be bombarded by the exploding metallic Rochester.

Shadowcat manages to get everyone to clasp hands so she can phase them out of danger. Surrounded by metal debris, Meggan tells Rachel that she looks wonderful, but upon realizing what she just said, she stammers, searching for a quick come-back, until Kurt comes to her rescue, assuring Meggan that Rachel knows what she means. Kitty asks Rachel if she is feeling okay, to which the uppity red-head replies ‘Never better’. Kitty declares that in that case, they have work to do, before declaring that she has a plan….

Characters Involved: 

First story:
Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)


“Dark Phoenix”
“Kate Pryde”

The Cowardly Lion

Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:
2nd story: Black Panther “Panther‘s Quest“ – part 24 of 25
3rd story: A splendid Hellcat story “Encounter in the Alley of Death”

First story:
This story takes place between Excalibur (1st series) #8 and #9.

The future Kitty Pryde - Kate Pryde - comes from Rachel’s timeline, the Days of Future Past, first seen in Uncanny X-Men #141-142.

Shadowcat fought Rochester the cat, who is a parody of Sylvester from the Loony Tunes, in Marvel Comics Presents #32.

The Yellow Brick Road and the Cowardly Lion are taken from the classic book and film by L. Frank Baum, “The Wizard of Oz”. In the film, Bert Lahr played the Cowardly Lion.

“Dark Phoenix” as Darth Vader, Rachel as Luke Skywalker, the Dark Side and Light-Saber’s are all taken from George Lucas’ “Star Wars” universe.

Tweedie is a parody of cute Loony Tunes character Tweety, companion of Granny and nemesis of Sylvester the Cat.

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