Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #74

Issue Date: 
April 1991
Story Title: 
<BR>Weapon X - chapter three (1st story)<BR>Constrictor - The Freebie (3rd story)<BR>Iceman/Torch - Absolute Zero (4th story)

(First story) Barry Windsor-Smith (writer, penciler and co-letterer), Jim Novak (co-letterer), Barry Windsor-Smith (front cover), Sam Keith (back cover), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

(Third story) Scott Lobdell (writer), Scott McDaniels (penciler), Randy Emberlin (inker), Todd Klein (letterer), Brad Vancata (colorist)

(Fourth story) Dan Mishkin (writer), Joe Staton (penciler), Dan Adkins (inker), Jim Massara (letterer), Mark Guggenheim (colorist)

Brief Description: 

(First story)

Logan is unconscious as he is experimented upon. The Professor wonders why his superiors failed to inform him that Logan appears to be a mutant with some kind of superhuman power to regenerate damaged tissue. He is annoyed that his staff might think he lacks control. He wonders what else he doesn’t know about Experiment X. Carol Hines monitors a leakage at Logan’s wrists, but everything seems normal. Later, a lab technician monitors Logan, and he informs the Professor that their subject has spikes coming out of his wrists. There’s blood everywhere. The Professor at first asks him not to go and help Logan, however after ensuring that Logan cannot escape, he asks the technician to enter the room. By the time Dr. Cornelius and his security staff arrive, the technician is on the floor underneath Logan, seemingly dead. The Professor who is monitoring events from afar smiles. He is impressed with what he sees.

(Third story)

Frank Schlicting, otherwise known as the Constrictor, is hunting a man named McAvey who killed his mother and sister when he was a child. He has been haunted by the memories of the abuse the man dished out ever since, and he wants his revenge. He tracks him down to a club called The Nightmare and proceeds to beat the tar out of the man. He reveals his true identity to him, and tells McAvey that he has been scared of the shadows his entire life but nothing was there. As he lets the man go, he warns him that he doesn’t get to be so lucky.

(Fourth story)

A villain known as Firebomb has captured Alicia Masters and has strapped her to a bomb that is set to kill her along with half of Manhattan. The Human Torch and Iceman arrive at the building with only ten seconds to go. After making their way through a variety of defensive measures, they both reach the bomb with three seconds remaining. Johnny wants to melt it, but Iceman points to some sensors that will trigger if he does that. Instead, he cools the bomb to absolute zero, with Johnny’s help which immobilizes it.

Full Summary: 

(First story)

The Professor is speaking with his superior as he watches Logan on the monitor. They have a safe line. No one can hear their conversation. He assures his superior that Logan will survive the procedure, but asks why he wasn’t informed that Logan was a mutant. This information has come as quite a surprise to him. This Logan has some form of super-human regenerative power to regenerate damaged tissue. He could be just about immortal, and it wasn’t deemed fit to inform him about this? The Professor is quite perturbed.

The Professor explains that he was in the lab with ‘that backwater’ Cornelius and his staff, when this girl, practically a typist, discovers the truth about Logan by pushing a few buttons on her blasted computer. All this makes him look like he doesn’t know anything! He has had to leave the operating room in case they ask him any questions about it. He felt like a fool. His superior placates him, but the Professor asks if there’s anything else he doesn’t know about Experiment X.

Meanwhile, tests continue on Logan’s body. Now out of the tank, his body really looks like it’s been through the mill. Cornelius asks his technician to keep an eye on him. Although his readings are steady, Carol Hines informs Cornelius that the channels may be sufficient, but there’s an excess drain at the flexor brevis-minima digiti section. Cornelius asks her to speak in plain language. “Hand and wrist, sir. Sorry,” she replies.

One of the technicians informs Cornelius that the patient has woken up. The doctor asks how he looks. “Cow flop,” replies the technician. Logan isn’t moving, but just keeps staring. Cornelius asks to be informed if anything happens. Later, when Logan is back in the tank and submerged in the red fluid, Cornelius thinks he might need some advice on this. He asks if anyone knows where the Professor is. No one does, so he asks for him to be paged. The technician informs Cornelius that Logan has moved. He just leaned forward a little. Cornelius assures the technician that he doesn’t need to be informed every time the patient shifts weight.

Later, as Logan becomes agitated once again, the Professor calls Cornelius and asks what all the fuss is about. He asks the Professor where he is, but he replies by asking what he wants. Cornelius tells him they have a problem and asks if he could return to the operating room. The Professor replies that he’s busy, and asks what the problem is. Cornelius explains about the leakage at the hand and wrist. They’re unable to stop it.

The Professor ponders the information for a moment, and then tells Cornelius that it’s all part of his program. “Do you think I don’t know what I’m doing?” he asks. Cornelius says of course not, and returns to his technician, asking what his status is. The technician tells him he’s fine. He’s just staring at his hand. “Hand?” queries Cornelius. The technician says he’s just staring at the wires on his hands. Cornelius feels he should come over, and asks him to try calling the Professor to have him meet him there.

Once Cornelius sets off, the technician calls the Professor and introduces himself as being the status-tech worker at lab two. Before he can ask him to meet Dr. Cornelius, he notices something is clearly wrong with Logan. He begins to panic as blood begins to spurt from Logan’s wrists. He’s not trained for this, and is clearly aghast at what is happening before him. The Professor tells him to patch him into his monitors. He wants to see this.

The technician asks if he should go in and help him, but the Professor tells him not yet. The feed appears on the Professor’s screen. The technician feels he must be in terrible pain, and the Professor thinks he’s right. “You said you’re all alone in lab two, did you, status?” He replies that he is, and that he’s not trained for this. “God!! He’s got spikes coming out of him!” he cries. As Logan, no longer in the tank, writhes around, three claws emerge from each wrist. There is blood everywhere.

The Professor asks him if he has access to the patient’s booth. He does. The Professor tells him he must go in and help the man, but be sure to close the security door after he enters… just to be safe.

Dr. Cornelius is also on his way to the lab. He grabs a couple of security guards on the way. One asks if there’s anything wrong, but Cornelius isn’t sure. He just wants them to stick close to him. He asks what the lab worker’s name is. One of the guards thinks his name is Cal or Cole or something. The other guard informs Cornelius that he’s new; just today. “New?” queries the doctor. He knows the technician shouldn’t even be in this section.

He opens the door he to the lab’s observation booth and is horrified at the site laid out before him. Inside the lab, the technician lies dead as a naked Logan stands over him, all six claws extended and with cables still attached to his body. Cornelius wonders what’s happened to his patient. He’s murdered the boy and is covered with blood. “Those knives from his hands… he looks like a mad animal!”

Watching calmly from his office is the Professor. He listens to the doctor and the two guards through his computer feed as they discuss grabbing the guns and blowing Logan away. The doctor feels it’s too late for that. The Professor switches off the transmission and brings his hand to his chin. “Magnificent.”

(Third story)

(Frank’s memories)

A torch shines into a small cloakroom and its beam finds a small boy cowering there, frightened for his life. Luckily, the torch belongs to a police officer, and he informs his boss, Captain Stacy, that he’s found him. He tells George that he’s not great with kids, so Stacy assures him that the trouble is now over. Frank leaps from the cloakroom and gives the captain a hug. He asks about his sister Amy. The captain apologizes, but informs him they were too late for her.

Another officer has a gangly guy with long red hair in handcuffs and he asks what he should do with ‘this!’ Stacy tells him to read the guy his rights and book him: two counts of murder for the death of his common-law wife and her daughter, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. The guy erupts in a fit of anger and says hey have nothing on him. He warns Frankie not to say anything, or so help him… he’ll kill him.

Frankie offers a hidden smile, and then transforms himself into the Constrictor. He whips his adamantium, coil at the much larger man and shoots his body full of electricity. The man screams, as Captain Stacy begs him not to do this.

Only, it didn’t happen that way.


Frank is outside a club called The Nightmare. It’s evening and there’s plenty of rain. If it wasn’t for the mental scars of that night, he’d insist it was a lifetime ago, before the adamantium coils and before an abused and frightened kid became a high-priced assassin. Since then, Frank Schlicting has become the Constrictor.

He uses his coils to make his way to ground level and is warned by a man to stay away from an expensive looking car. Frank shoots his right coil through the window and smashes the hood with his left coil. The guy opens fire, but finds himself thrust through the window of the club for his trouble. The customers immediately begin to panic as the Constrictor enters the club. “McAvey!” he screams. As he makes his way through the club in search of his target, Frank is plagued by nightmares of his past, and he recalls the trial.

(in Frank’s memories)

He is asked to tell the court what he saw that night. He was prepared to tell the truth but, looking at McAvey, the murderer of his mother and sister, he remembers his words. “Nothing. You saw nothing!” Tears run down Frank’s cheeks, as he stares at the killer. His older self appears in his daydream and orders little Frank to tell them… tell them what he did to him and his sister. The older Frank says he’s going to get away, and tears well in his own eyes as he pleads with little Frankie. It doesn’t work. Little Frankie tells the court he saw nothing. Due to a lack of evidence, the court finds the defendant innocent of all charges. “Nooooo!” screams Frank.


“Nooooo!” he screams, as a light is shone in his eyes. People wonder who he’s talking to. He looks so sad; sad or crazy. McAvey asks if he’s looking for him, and he shoots twice at Frank’s armored chest. Frank responds by smashing the light with his coil and using the other to hurl McAvey around like a rag doll. He tells McAvey that coming back to New York was dumb. He should have stayed underground after the trial.

Frank works him over, as McAvey insists the trail is ancient history. He asks the Constrictor who he is and what he wants. Frank grabs him by the throat and replies that he wants his life back. He wants his sister and mother to be alive. He wants the childhood that McAvey took from him.

McAvey realizes who it is. Frank removes his mask and reveals his true identity. McAvey pleads with Frank not to kill him. He is thrown to the ground as Frank informs him that he’ll probably kill him, but not today. He wraps the coils around his throat and says he spent his entire life looking under his bed, afraid of the shadows. But, the shadows were empty. There was nothing to fear but the fear he created. Now it’s his turn. Yes he will kill him, but not today. He leaves McAvey in a crumpled heap on the floor and leaves. He reminds McAvey to check under the bed and to look into the shadows. The difference between him and McAvey is that he’ll be there.

(Fourth story)

There are ten seconds remaining until a bomb detonates. When it goes off, Alicia Masters will be going with it. The Human Torch quickly melts through a wall and gains access to the building, as Iceman makes his own way inside at a different location. The Torch flies through the complex. He’s got to find Alicia. Firebomb said she’d be dead by noon. Iceman knows that he must reach the Torch before he blows it, but there are only seconds left.

As the Torch flies, fire-retardant foam shot from ceiling mounted dispensers track his flames, turning the flam off on his left hand, so he quickly flames off completely. He then creates duplicates of himself from flame to attract the foam and allow him to continue. Iceman reckons this is the last time he goes for brunch at Johnny and Alicia Storm’s. He hadn’t even finished his pickled herring when Firebomb coldcocked them and kidnapped Alicia. His message said she would get blown up along with half of Manhattan.

Suddenly, he is grabbed by several mechanical arms, but by extending an ice wall around him, he manages to push the arms past their full extension until they snap. He wonders if he did the right thing when allowing Johnny to go off alone to rescue his wife. Johnny next faces a couple of security guards placed there by Firebomb. They are armed, but Johnny turns the guns to slag. With seven seconds left until detonation, things are getting tense.

With only seven seconds remaining, Iceman uses his ice slide to whiz through the building and avoid wall-mounted cannons, but he soon comes across another obstacle. The Torch, meanwhile, threatens the guards, but they are too scared to talk. He lets them go, as Iceman tackles a giant lens designed to melt him down. He ices up a wall and pours the cold on, making the wall increasingly brittle.

Johnny finally discovers Alicia who is strapped to the bomb. The timer ticks away beside her. As he prepares to melt the bomb’s trigger, Iceman crashes through the wall as it falls apart and he calls for Johnny to stop. He points to the ceiling where Johnny notices heat sensors, which must be primed to set off the explosion if he cooks the trigger. This means that Iceman must try and bring the temperature down far enough in time.

With less than three seconds left, he starts a rapid cooling. Johnny informs him that he can absorb flame and heat too. If he keeps pulling the ambient heat away from Bobby, he can chill it down faster. Iceman says it’s got to be all the way down, down to where all molecular motion, including the bomb’s chemical reaction, stops. They’ll blow for sure unless he can reach absolute zero! They pour on the cold, and successfully freeze the bomb’s mechanism. The clock never reaches nought, and Alicia is safe, giving her husband a big hug…

Characters Involved: 

(First Story)


The Professor

Lab technician

Dr. Abraham B. Cornelius

Two security guards

(on monitor)


(Third story)

The Constrictor/Frank Schlicting




The Nightmare customers and staff

(in Frank’s memories)

Captain George Stacy

Police Officers

Frank Schlicting

McAvey and his lawyer

(Fourth story)


Human Torch

Two guards

Alicia Masters / Lyja Lazerfist

Story Notes: 

The other feature in the issue is:

2nd story: Shanna, “The Bush of Ghosts part 7 of 10.

Fourth story:

The Human Torch is a member of the Fantastic Four. He married Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four (1st series) #300, not knowing that she was actually a shape shifting Skrull named Lyja. It is Lyja who appears in this issue.

Each page of this story is cut in half, with Iceman’s actions being shown in one half and the Torches in the other. They join together at the end when the heroes meet.

Issue Information: 
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