Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #41

Issue Date: 
January 1990
Story Title: 
“Black Shadow! White Shadow!” Part 4: China Beach Head (First Story)

First Story: Marv Wolfman (writer), John Buscema (artist), Phil Felix (letterer), Nel Yomtov (colorist), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Second Story: Michael Higgins (writer), Javier Saltares (penciler), Jose Marzan (inker), Ken Lopez (letterer), Tom Vincent (colorist), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Fourth Story: Scott Lobdell (writer), Dave Cockrum (penciler), Bruce Patterson (inker), Diana Albers (letterer), John Wilcox (colorist), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

First Story:
Logan and his allies from Hong Kong travel by boat to China. Along the way, they are warned of trouble on the Chinese border by harbor patrol. Logan single-handedly kills a shark that he and his new friends eat for breakfast. Over their meal, the others reveal to Logan the personal connections they have to the destructive Black Shadow and how they have each been affected by its path of devastation. They attempted to hunt it down but now find themselves being hunted by it. As the talk, a stampede of wild horses bears down on them with only Logan standing between the equine onslaught and his allies.

Second Story:
The Enchantress continues to seduce and manipulate Wonder Man using her magic. She convinces him to seek revenge on the Avengers who contributed to his downfall and killed their old allies Baron Zemo and Skurge the Executioner. Simon seeks out Iron Man at Stark Enterprises and threatens his reception. Simon is prepared to kill the woman and nearly does before Iron Man intervenes. The two Avengers fight and Iron Man is appalled by Simon’s sudden lack of remorse or concern for life. Wonder Man heavily damages Iron Man’s armor and is moving in for the kill when a uniformed man takes him down with a specialized energy weapon. The man turns out to be the Beast in disguise! He and Iron Man discuss what to do with Wonder Man but then, he suddenly vanishes!

Fourth Story:
While documenting the illegal drug trade in South America, Senator Robert Kelly is captured by the notorious drug lord, Señor Muerte. Muerte’s order to execute Kelly and his men is thwarted by the timely arrival of Mystique and the rest of Freedom Force. Mystique gets Kelly to safety but refuses to help in destroying Muerte’s operations as it is outside their mission parameters. Muerte’s enforcers The Grip prove to be no match for Freedom Force. Avalanche buries Muerte’s funds and fortress under tons of rubble. Mystique lets Muerte live despite her dislike of drug dealers. Señor Muerte vows revenge on Freedom Force.

Full Summary: 

First Story:
A boat carrying Logan and his allies leaves Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong and heads towards China. A short distance into their journey they are stopped by the harbor police and boarded. Logan and Mai greet them and Logan claims they were just out on a late night cruise. Mai tells the officers that they have fishing permits but the police insist on looking around. The officer eyes Patch and asks if he’s a fisherman with obvious skepticism. Logan lights a cigar and replies that he’s a Canadian and this is part of his “Harbors of the World” tour. The police don’t find any weapons and the officers finally tell them to move along. They warn Logan and Mai that there’s some trouble on the Chinese border and to be careful. Patch asks what kind of trouble and the officer avoids his question and simply instructs them not to go any further east. Mai asks “What now?” and Logan replies “We go on.”

A short time later, Hsiao joins Mai and Logan and suggests they get some sleep during the journey. He has managed to keep hidden a cache of explosives. Logan seems unimpressed and tells him not to blow them away or anything. Mai tells Logan that Hsiao is a good man who was there for her when she thought she would die. He asks her if she loves him and she replies “Only as a friend”. She asks Logan is there is anyone he loves but he has fallen asleep. Morning breaks as they near the coastline of China. Patch can hear horses in the distance and they soon see a small band of Chinese cowboys. Mai explains that this part of China is much like the frontier lands of the Old West.

Patch asks her if she’s hungry and she tells him they have rice and fruit. He scoffs and says they obviously don’t have appetites. He heads down for a moment and emerges in his brown Wolverine costume. Mai is surprised and asks what he’s wearing. He says it’s “Something more comfortable… for when I hunt.” He then dives into the water as Mai warns him that there are sharks. He replies that he’s counting on it. Once in the water, Logan pops a claw and slices his arm. The blood quickly draws a shark to him. It takes him mere seconds to kill the medium sized ocean predator. He then heaves it up onto the deck of the ship and says to the others “I know it’s Japanese, but I hope you guys like sushi!”

A while later, the group enjoys the roasted shark. Though they are curious, the others do not inquire about Logan’s history. They simply ask if he’s ever been to China before. Hsiao points out that Ch’un was city-born but he was born in the country. Both were born in China, but are different in so many fundamental ways. They explain that China is filled with these contradictions, mountains and deserts, ancient villages and modern cities. They tell Logan that they have always known they were not equipped for what they must now face but that he gives them hope. Logan disagrees and says that all he’s added is another set of hands.

Ch’un tells Patch that they know he is much more than just that but that they will not pry. He apologizes for philosophizing and shares that he was a teacher before all this. Hsiao continues and tells Logan that the Black Shadow destroyed Ch’un’s school and killed half his students. Hsiao’s farm was destroyed and his grandparents killed. But they have all become stronger as a result of their tragic losses. He urges Mai to share what she has lost as well and that he thinks it will help her.

She begins to cry and when she finally opens up, she tells him that she watched as the Black Shadow killed her husband and consumed her young daughter. Mai falls silent for a long time before she is able to continue her story. Mai had worked with the elderly in a hospital when she met the strange man who would become the Black Shadow. She describes him as cold and dark with an evil about him but the hospital accepted him anyway. Hsiao adds that at first they hunted the Black Shadow but now it hunts them.

Logan stops the story when he senses something in the distance. Mai cannot hear anything but Logan can smell it! He tells them to stay there and races off to confront the approaching danger. He turns past a hill and finds himself facing a stampede of dozens of horses heading right at him!

Second Story:
Wonder Man holds the Enchantress in his arms as they float “somewhere between the sixth and seventh dimension”. He passionately confesses his devotion and love, declaring that she is all that he lives for and “Your will is my will.” She smiles softly and replies “That’s the way I like it!” and coos that here there is no one to bother them or interfere with their plans. She tries to convince Simon that he is all hers now and that his world and friends have turned against him. She tells him that they once had “champions” who shared their cause: Baron Zemo and the Executioner. She tells him that the Avengers killed Zemo and that the Executioner has also been taken from her. She tells him that fate has brought them together in their time of need and together they can know revenge against those who have made them suffer so.

The Enchantress conjures an image of Tony Stark as Iron Man and asks Wonder Man to remember the man who drove him to bankruptcy and accused him of being a criminal. She reminds Simon that she was the one who bailed him out and brought him to Zemo. This led to Simon being bombarded by ionic energies and transformed into Wonder Man and then pressed into joining the Masters of Evil and battling the Avengers.

A short time later, Wonder Man arrives at Stark Enterprises and demands to see Tony Stark, he demands to see Iron Man! The frightened receptionist tries to explain that Mr. Stark is very busy and she has no way to contact Iron Man. Simon tells her that she has a pretty face and that if she wants to keep it that way, she’d better let him see Stark. She stammers that she could lose her job.

Wonder Man picks up a file cabinet and hurls it at her, telling her that she’s going to lose a lot more for not doing as he asked. The woman is petrified and covers her face as she braces for the impact. Iron Man steps in to save the day! He clutches the cabinet with one hand. He tells Simon that he had heard about how he was acting but never imagined that he’d threaten an innocent bystander in a fit of rage.

Wonder Man angrily replies that no one who works for Stark is innocent. Iron Man taunts Simon by saying that he isn’t event worth the time it would take to trash him. Iron Man flies out the window, knowing that Wonder Man will pursue him and that he can move their inevitable clash away from civilians. To Iron Man’s surprise, Wonder Man rips a huge chunk out of the corner of the Stark skyscraper and flings it at the Golden Avenger. Iron Man is now convinced that Simon has gone insane and urges him to think about what he’s doing. Stark uses his repulsor rays to demolish the hunk of building. Simon lands nearby and says to Iron Man that there’s no way he can beat him. Iron Man shoots a beam at Wonder Man and replies “That’s what you say!”

Again, Iron Man tries to convince Wonder Man to talk things out before someone is injured. Simon responds by saying that Iron Man can worry about that and that all he wants is vengeance. He punches through a girder supporting a tower of some sort and it collapses.

Iron Man is again shocked at Wonder Man’s callous disregard for the lives of those around them. He manages to right the tower and uses a heat beam to weld it back in place. Simon flies up to where he is and asks if he’s forgotten about him. Tony replies that he wishes he could and again asks if he has no conscience, especially after he nearly killed the Beast. Simon turns his question around and asks when he started to care what damage he did to anyone. Stark replies that he’s always cared which is more than he can say for Simon.

He blasts Wonder Man with his repulsor rays with little effect. Simon lunges at Iron Man and grabs his arms. Simon again states that all he cares about is killing him. Iron Man asks what he’s going to do “Dance me to death?” But Wonder Man has other ideas. He reaches into the chest plate of Iron Man’s armor and rips it out. Iron Man falls from the sky and lands hard on the concrete below.

At that moment and armed guard rounds the corner and fires a beam at Wonder Man. The uniformed man hopes that his gizmo works. As it hits Wonder Man, he cries out in pain. He loses consciousness and falls to the ground. The uniformed man rushes to Iron Man’s aid and asks if he’s all right. Shell-head replies that he is simply stunned which is more than he can say for his armor. The man says to Iron Man that he fared a whole lot better than he did.

The man then removes a mask to reveal that he is really the Beast! He tells Tony that if it weren’t for the regenerative bodysuit that he and Henry Pym developed, he’d have been a goner. Hank tells Tony that he hopes he can return the favor someday. Stark turns their attention back to their immediate problem: Wonder Man. He says that he hopes they’ll be able to find a way to help him overcome this sudden madness. As the Beast expresses his relief that they finally have him subdued here, Wonder Man disappears! Beast exclaims “Oh my stars and garters! He’s gone!”

Fourth Story:
Senator Robert Kelly is on his knees, his hands bound behind his back. He looks haggard, his clothes are ripped and he clearly hasn’t shaved for several days. He has two aides with him who appear to be in about the same shape. Facing them is a small band of men wielding automatic weapons. They are clearly about to execute their American prisoners.

Their leader, Tamone asks Senator Kelly if he wishes to make a final statement. One of Kelly’s aides begs him to keep it brief so he doesn’t make matters worse. Kelly replies “Don’t expect me to beg, Tamone. As a citizen of the United States of America, I’ll willingly die in defense of my country!”

Tamone walks over to where Kelly is kneeling and kicks him in the gut. He tells Kelly he should have stayed in his “sacred country” rather than come there to take photos for the U.S.’s pathetic “just say no” campaign. Kelly boldly says that it was worth the risk and that America will win the war on drugs! Tamone points his gun at Kelly’s head and tells him that he will have to read of this “victory” from his grave.

Kelly closes his eyes as Tamone gives the command to his men. “Ready…aim…” is as far as Tamone gets before he is stopped by a sinister voice commanding him to stop. It is his employer, Señor Muerte. Muerte is a gaunt, ghost-like figure with pale, wrinkled skin and dark eyes with white pupils. He is dressed in a long, dark shroud. Muerte asks Tamone if he did not give him the order to see to the safety of his guests before he departed. Tamone is shocked and replies that he ordered him to kill them all. Muerte seems surprised to hear this and tells Tamone that he has changed his mind. Muerte orders the men to take Kelly and his aides to the mansion.

The group arrives at a church that has been converted into a fortress. Señor Muerte asks Tamone if that was his idea and Tamone nervously answers “Y-yes, sir.” Muerte then tells his men that he would like to speak to his “guests” in private. Tamone objects and reminds him that he gave them all specific orders that this room was never to be left unguarded.

As Señor Muerte pours himself a glass of win he asks Tamone if he ever said “If you presume to question me… I will kill you.” Tamone replies “Not in so many words” after which he and his men quickly clear the room.

Senator Kelly points at Señor Muerte and accuses him of being behind one of the largest drug pipelines in South America. Muerte tells him to calm down and adds in a decidedly different voice “My tight schedule doesn’t include time for your campaign speeches.

“Señor Muerte” turns around and is revealed to have been Mystique the entire time! Kelly foolishly exclaims “MYSTIQUE!” and she tells him to speak louder as they couldn’t hear him in Dallas. He begins to ask what she’s doing there but Mystique cuts him off and tells them they can discuss it later.

She radios to her teammates Avalanche and the Blob who are on the ground creating a diversion. Avalanche is using his mutant powers to create tremors in the earth. He tells Blob to assure Raven that they will be there on time. She warns them to behave like the “respectable…though reluctant… federal agents that you are.”

Kelly is surprised to hear that Freedom Force is with her and she tells him that not all of them are there, just those needed to rescue him. She then radios to her aerial team, Pyro and Spiral who report that they are on time for the established rendezvous.

Senator Kelly is pleased and tells Mystique that he may have been wrong to oppose their conditional pardon. Together, these five could help him destroy Muerte’s drug empire. Mystique reminds Kelly that they are not the Avengers and their mission is simply to rescue him. She adds that were it up to Freedom Force, they’d have left him and his anti-mutant sentiments to the firing squad.

Kelly tells her to forget about him and think of the villagers that are helpless before Muerte’s power. At that moment, Spiral radios to Mystique that their instruments indicate that they are about to encounter super-powered opposition. Mystique is shocked to hear this as there was no mention of superhuman forces in their briefing. Kelly informs her that that is how Señor Muerte managed to take down his plane and how he maintains control over the region. He employs a team of five superhuman enforcers that he calls “The Grip.”

At that moment, Señor Muerte and his team are approaching the village in a military jeep. His agents each wear a special exo-skeleton that grants them special abilities. They are: Napalm, Vice, Windmill, Uzi and Sprint. As they approach, Señor Muerte urges them to hurry as he can sense that something is wrong. Mystique calls to her ground team (Blob and Avalanche) to make certain they heard the transmission regarding the Grip.

Blob tells Raven to relax as they “head them off at the pass.” The Blob blocks the road with his enormous body and the jeep rams into him, tossing the passengers out. Tamone sees this through his binoculars and is shocked to see Señor Muerte in the jeep with the Grip. He realizes that the Muerte who ordered them to vacate the building must have been an impostor and orders his men to go inside the church and kill everyone they see. One of the men protests but Tamone repeats his order and tells them they’ve been fooled.

When the guards enter the church, they are met by Tamone and are momentarily confused by his appearance since they had just seen him outside. They tell “Tamone” that they just saw him outside and he ordered them to kill everyone inside. “Tamone” replies that they should have listened. Mystique resumes her true form and shoots the guards.

Kelly points out that now she and her team will have to fight Muerte and his crew. She tells him he’d better keep his head down if he intends to live long enough to tell her “I told you so.” Outside, Tamone tells his men to keep firing until they are all dead. Just then, Avalanche arrives and buries them beneath a wave of earth. He makes his way inside and explains being late but is dumb-founded when he sees the enormous stash of cash in plain view. Mystique asks him what’s wrong and Kelly gestures to Señor Muerte’s “illegally gotten gains.” Avalanche grabs a bundle and fingers it covetously. He tells them there must be three million in that crate alone. Mystique tells him to put it down so they can make it to the pick-up point on time.

Nearby, Blob is keeping the Grip busy with very little effort. He takes out Vice, Windmill and Sprint with one blow, mockingly asking if they got their exo-skeletons at Radio Shack. Napalm and Uzi approach him and Napalm asks if he’s stopped laughing because he is about to be burned to death. Blob replies that he just wanted to see the look on their faces when they realize he has a teammate who can control flame. At that precise instant, Pyro envelops them in an explosive burst of fire. Pyro is piloting the chopper and gets hearty thanks from Blob who tells him he’ll meet them at the rendezvous point.

Mystique urges Kelly and his men to get moving and Kelly insistently asks if she intends to deal with Señor Muerte. Raven reminds the senator that she doesn’t answer to him. Avalanche asks once more if they can’t just take a million or two with them and Mystique reminds him that this would be a violation of their parole terms. She points out though that there’s no reason that Muerte should be allowed to enjoy it. She gives Avalanche the order to bury it. Using his mutant powers, Avalanche buries Señor Muerte’s entire compound under a huge mountain of earth.

As Freedom Force boards the copter, Senor Muerte approaches. Mystique approaches him and he vows to rebuild his empire, track her down and kill her. As she gets into the chopper, Raven tells him that she doesn’t like drug dealers because they destroy the lives of humans and mutants alike. She tells Muerte that if he ever does come after them he’d better hope they still work for the good guys. As they rise into the air, the Blob calls out to Señor Muerte and tells him if he’s ever in America to drop dead!

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Ch’un, Hsiao, Mai
Unnamed harbor patrol officers
Unnamed Chinese cowboys

Second Story:
Wonder Man

“Amora Lorelei”/Enchantress

Iron Man
Unnamed receptionist at Stark Enterprises

In Flashbacks:
Baron Zemo, Enchantress, Executioner, Wonder Man (all Masters of Evil)

Fourth Story:
Avalanche, Blob, Destiny, Mystique, Spiral (all Freedom Force)

Senator Robert Kelly
Two unnamed government aides

Señor Muerte
Napalm, Sprint, Uzi, Vice, Windmill (all The Grip)
Tamone and other unnamed agents of Senor Muerte

Story Notes: 

The other feature in the issue is:
3rd Story: Hercules in “All in the Family” Part 3 of 3

First story: 
This story takes place during the period that Wolverine was operating out of Madripoor using his “Patch” alias. He did this 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. This story likely takes place during the first year of his original ongoing series.

Second Story:
The original Baron Zemo who was part of the Masters of Evil was defeated by Earth’s Mightiest in Avengers (1st series) #15.

Skurge the Executioner died in battle in Thor (1st series) #362 as an ally of Thor in his battle against Hela.

Simon Williams was indicted for embezzling funds from his family company, Williams Innovations. Williams Innovations was floundering financially, in large part due to competition from Stark Industries. Williams was bailed out of jail by the Enchantress and transformed into Wonder Man by her ally Baron Zemo in Avengers (1st series) #9. Wonder Man eventually sided with the Avengers against the Masters of Evil and died from the ionic process that gave him his powers. He returned years later in Avengers (1st series) #151. This was the beginning of a cycle of deaths and rebirths that rivals that of Phoenix herself!

The Beast was an active member of the original X-Factor during the time of this appearance.

Fourth Story:
The “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign was a popular part of the “War on Drugs” sponsored by the United States government in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Freedom Force was originally the terrorist organization known as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants until Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #199. In this issue, Mystique offered their services to the United States government in exchange for a conditional pardon.

Half-way through the story, Spiral is replaced by Destiny in the aerial support team with no real explanation… magic, teleportation or artistic error?

Senor Muerte is actually the third Marvel character to adopt this code-name and has no known connection to the previous two. Senor Muerte I (Ramon Garcia) appeared in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #5. His younger brother Phillip assumed the identity in Captain America (1st series) #224.

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: