Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #70

Issue Date: 
February 1991
Story Title: 
<BR>One into Three won't go (4th story)

Fourth story: Robert Campanella (writer), Larry Alexander (penciler), Allen Milgrom, Jack Abel (inkers), Agustin Mas (letters), Marcus McLaurin (colors), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Fourth story: While on a diplomatic tour in the United States, Darkstar is reunited with her former teammate, the Black Widow. This reunion is televised and seen by the powerful Russian super-villain, the Presence, who wants both women for himself and sends his current consort, Starlight, to bring them to him. Starlight fights Darkstar, who happens to be the Presence’s daughter and Black Widow until they subdue her and together they bring her around and out of the Presence’s thrall. Starlight returns to the Presence without Darkstar or the Black Widow in the hope that her love will be enough to make him see the error of his villainous ways while hoping too that he will one day treat her with respect.

Full Summary: 

Fourth story:

Midtown Manhattan, where Laynia Petrovna, a.k.a. the beautiful Russian super-heroine known as Darkstar has been giving a press conference as part of her official diplomatic tour. However, as Larry Kane reports, Darkstar’s speech has been interrupted by…the Black Widow who swings down to the stairs where Laynia is standing. Larry Kane reports that until recently it would have seemed that Darkstar and the Black Widow would not be permitted to freely associate, as the Black Widow defected from Russia to the United States. While Darkstar, even though she was a former member of an U.S. super team, the Champions, is currently a member of the Soviet Super Soldiers.

Meanwhile, in the frozen mountains of Siberia, this event is being watched by Sergei Krylov, a man who accidentally irradiated himself during a nuclear experiment and has now become the radiation powered Presence. The Presence watches the monitor intently until Larry Kane reports that the two women are leaving together, and he turns it off. The Presence gets up from his chair and declares that he must have Darkstar and the Black Widow, turning to his companion, Dr. Tania Belinsky, formerly the third Russian hero to hold the code-name Red Guardian. She now goes by the code-name Starlight after she was experimented on and transformed into a being like the Presence. Presence states cruelly that he has for too long contended only with the possession of Starlight. Tania begins to cry, hiding her tears so that the Presence does not see.

The Presence proclaims that he is the ultimate Russian man – but takes that back, boasting now that he is a god, and believes that it is fitting that as a superior being he should have any and all of the very best ‘Soviet womanhood has to offer’. He believes he should, and sends Starlight to go and collect the Black Widow and Darkstar – his own daughter.

Back in Manhattan, after a long day, Natasha invites Laynia back to her apartment, and relaxing, Laynia admits that it has been far too long since she has eaten food solely for its taste! Listening to a record by Sting, the lyrics go '‘I hope the Russians love their children too” and Laynia tells Natasha that ‘this “Sting” as you call him weaves a very haunting melody’, before mentioning that she thinks it will bring a smile to the face of their aging ex-mentor, Alexei Bruskin, when she tells him how Natasha risked being shot be the KGB to inquire about his health.

As Darkstar looks through a photo album, Natasha points to a photo and admits that she can hardly believe it was her, though a very different person she was back then, for then it was also a very different Russia, and one that the Black Widow could no longer love. Darkstar looks at Natasha almost sympathetically and says to her ‘Some of us, comrade, still love mother Russia, we remain true to her…and seek to change her for the good, from inside’. Natasha just looks back at Laynia, perhaps with some admiration.

Suddenly, a window is smashed open and Starlight flies through, some debris hits Darkstar’s KGB bodyguard on the head and knocks him out as Starlight, in Russian, orders Laynia and the Black Widow to ‘stand fast!’. Hovering in mid-flight she tells the other women that they know they will have been granted the boundless joy of joining with her in the service of their master, the Presence. Darkstar thinks to herself that something is amiss when Starlight calls him “master”, and the Black Widow, unaware of Starlight’s name change, calls her Red Guardian and states sarcastically that she would hate to appear less than grateful for receiving this “honor”, but that she and Darkstar are not “joining” with anyone.

Black Widow dodges a blast from Starlight, who tells Natasha that she has no desire to harm her – anymore than is absolutely necessary. Natasha thinks to herself that they should be thankful for small favors and Darkstar joins the fray, using the Darkforce – an intense extradimensional form of energy that she commands - to bind Starlight. Laynia thinks that that move should stop the madness until Starlight shoots power from her eyes, and Laynia manages to get a shield up just in time to protect herself from the radiation.

Tania breaks the Darkforce binding by cutting it away with her power, again shot from the eyes, and tells Laynia and Natasha to ‘Witness what can be achieved when you have been in…the Presence!’ Black Widow dodges more of Tania’s radiation beams, thinking to herself that the fight is going nowhere ‘way too fast’ and a fire starts when Starlight’s reckless blasting hits the bookshelf. Darkstar uses the Darkforce to extinguish the flames, adding that they need to move the fight outside, she asks Laynia to get them out of here.

Flying from the apartment, while holding Black Widow in a Darkforce “seat” Laynia declares that she does not understand any of this. Natasha admits that she doesn’t either, but thinks they should leave those questions for later, as the Red Guardian seems totally within the power of the Presence. She wonders what would happen if they were to isolate Tania from that power, and the super-heroines set up a trap on a rooftop.

Starlight catches up to Natasha and Laynia and takes the bait – until Laynia snares her in a Darkforce rope as Tania boasts that this will prove only to be a distraction – until Darkstar swings the rope, hard, and smashes Starlight against a brick panel of the roof.

With Tania stunned, Natasha goes to her, and asks Laynia to encase the two of them in the Darkforce Dimension. The two women are transported to the Darkforce Dimension, where the all- encompassing properties of the Darkforce cause a momentary “short circuit” in the power of the Presence.

Black Widow touches Tania and tells her that she knows what she is doing is not what she wants to do. Tania offers no response and Natasha slaps her, telling her that she knows she is in there, Natasha tells Starlight not to relinquish control of her own mind – or her heart. Starlight lets out a mighty scream.

Later, Starlight regains consciousness and Laynia greets her, asking if she is herself again. Black Widow says that she hopes she is, for she does not think she could take another episode in that dimension. Starlight holds her head and wearily asks where she is before Natasha asks her for some answers to some obvious questions. Darkstar steps forward and agrees, asking Tania if Sergei is so insane to send his mate to retrieve her, his very own daughter, to be his … her words trail off.

Tania informs Laynia that her father is very ill, and she admits that even though he hurts her deeply, she knows that it is not truly he who does so. Taking to the air, Starlight begs Laynia and the Black Widow to not interfere and to allow her to return to the Presence, and through her love for him, she hopes to return him to her. Darkstar and the Black Widow do not try to stop Starlight, and wave as she departs, ready for a most challenging feat.

Characters Involved: 

Fourth story:

Darkstar / Laynia Petrovna

Black Widow / Natasha Romanov

Starlight / Dr. Tania Belinsky

The Presence / Sergei Krylov

Larry Kane a reporter

Darkstar’s KGB escorts

Crowds of civilians

Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:

1st story: Wolverine / Ghost Rider "Acts of Vengeance" – part 7 of 8 (to be summarized at a later point)

2nd story: Shanna “Bush of Ghosts“ – part 3 of 10

3rd story: Daredevil “Redemption Song“ – part 2 of 4

Fourth story:

This story takes place after the events of Quasar #19-24, involving Starlight and the Presence.

Darkstar's appearance prior to this issue was in X-Men vs. Avengers #1-3. She next appears in Captain America (1st series) #352-353.

Darkstar and the Black Widow both served together on the Champions. Black Widow was a founding member, while Darkstar joined later. [Champions #1, 11] Both served until the team’s disbanding. [Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man (first series) #17]

Starlight was once a member of the Defenders [Defenders #35-#44] her transformation into her current state of mind occurred later in the series where she met the Presence. Following this issue, aside from one small appearance, she is not seen until the “Kang Dynasty” of Avengers third series, where she is once more back to the strongminded person she was, however she remains with the Presence to this day. [Avengers (third series) #43, 44, 53]

Alexei Bruskin was an ex Russian KGB chief known as the Commissar and former mentor to both Darkstar and the Black Widow.

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