Marvel Fanfare (1st series) #32

Issue Date: 
May 1987
Story Title: 
<BR>(1st story) Is This the Way the World Ends?<BR>(2nd story) Rosie

(1st story) J.M. DeMatteis (writer/co-plotter), Kerry Gammill (penciler/co-plotter), Dennis Janke (inker), Diana Albers (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist), Al Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)
(2nd story) Roger McKenzie (writer), Paul Smith (artist), Jim Novak (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Allen Milgrom (editor)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)

Drugged and captured by the Yellow Claw, Captain America has been brought to the Claw’s secret base in upstate New York where he's thrown into the dungeon. Also captured is the hapless and terrified young Frog-Man. While pondering what to do with the “ludicrous boy,” Yellow Claw goes over his recent past and reveals his plot to destroy New York City. Meanwhile, Frog-Man's father, Vinny, finally succeeds in contacting Spider-Man, whom he asks to help search for Eugene. Spider-Man agrees but, hearing that Captain America is already involved and is not enough, Spider-Man thinks they'll need some help. Elsewhere, Captain America regains consciousness in a dungeon cell and experiences the unsettling disorienting effects of the drug. However, an old man sharing his cell seems to be able to clear the effects of the drugs from Captain America's mind. The old man explains what Yellow Claw's plan is and returns Captain America's shield to him. Inexplicably, when Captain America smashes the cell door, he turns back to discover the cell behind him empty. Meanwhile, Frog-Man awakens from being drugged somewhere outside and is suddenly attacked by giant frogs, the size of bears. Though it turns out they're only being affectionate, Eugene is emboldened and vows to become a real hero. Later, two hundred thousand people have gathered to hear the words of "Sri Ananda," an ancient wise man whom the Yellow Claw has been impersonating to gather followers. He dons a helmet which begins to absorb the energy of their belief. Suddenly, a disguised Captain America throws off his robe to unmask the Yellow Claw but the audience is already enthralled. Yellow Claw attacks him with the power of the helmet but suddenly Frog-Man and his giant frogs arrive. Unseen behind Frog-Man, Spider-Man also arrives with the Human Torch, Angel, Beast & Iceman to help break up the party. Yellow Claw desperately turns to put his original plan into action but Captain America ultimately finds the strength to smash the helmet. Though defeated, Yellow Claw manages to escape with a hidden jet pack. The crisis passes, as Hop Sung and the rest of the henchmen are arrested when the federal authorities arrive, while Frog-Man is reunited with his father. That evening, Steve Rogers reads the newspaper and discovers that there was a real Sri Ananda who hadn't been seen since 1939. The photo next to the article is of the old man who helped him in the dungeon.

(2nd story)

Scarlet Witch and the Vision are taking an evening stroll together in New York and stop to get a rose from a homeless woman they know only as Rosie. However, after they leave, Rosie is knifed by "the Skid-Row Slasher." Later, when he and the Scarlet Witch visit her grave, the Vision decides to find her killer himself. He first approaches NYPD’s Captain Mathias, who is sympathetic but overworked, and then Ben Urich, who had written about Rosie’s death in his Night Beat column. Ben takes the Vision to see Gerty, another homeless woman at Grand Central Station, unaware that they are being followed. Upon learning that Gerty too knew very little about Rosie, not even her real name, the Vision & Ben leave the platform wondering what to do next. However, when they hear Gerty scream a few moments later, they return and spot the Slasher trying to stab her. Ben yells and the Slasher jumps down onto the tracks, running into the tunnel. Vision pursues but an oncoming train hits the Slasher and all Vision can do is phase through the train as it screeches to a stop. Afterwards, Vision returns to the grave site with Ben and uses his eye beams to engrave "Rosie" on her headstone with an image of a rose beneath it and lay a bundle of roses on the grave.

Full Summary: 

(1st story)

Yellow Claw arrives at his hidden, underground base in upstate New York in a silent flying craft. He orders Hop Sung and his minions to take Captain America to the cellblock below to “commune with the rats for a time.” He admonishes the drugged, unconscious hero for interfering with his plans. Hop Sung asks what they should do with Frog-Man and Yellow Claw replies he’ll deal with him after he’s had a moment to refresh himself. Frog-Man tells him to take his time, he’s in no rush. Yellow Claw orders a minion take Captain America’s shield to his lab to be analyzed.

Soon after, Hop Sung brings Frog-Man before the Yellow Claw and Frog-Man nervously jokes that he can come back tomorrow if Yellow Claw is busy. Much to Frog-Man’s dismay, Hop Sung asks if Yellow Claw will kill Frog-Man now. But Yellow Claw replies, “No. First I will see what lurks beneath this ludicrous mask!” and quips dryly, “Ah! An equally-ludicrous boy!” when he removes it. He demands to know what Frog-Man’s connection with Captain America is and how he managed to infiltrate his organization.

Tears begin pouring down Eugene’s face as he confesses that he barely knows Captain America, that he stumbled into everything completely by accident, and that he’s not even a real super hero, “just a jerk who likes to pretend he’s one!” Terrified, he begs the Yellow Claw to please believe him and that he won’t tell anybody about him and just let him go home. On his knees and sobbing, he says he doesn’t want to die. The Yellow Claw’s eyes bore into poor Eugene’s until he tosses the Frog-Man mask at Eugene and, seemingly bored, takes a sip from a goblet. “He speaks the truth.” Yellow Claw states.

Then Yellow Claw turns and begins to explain what an honor fate has bestowed upon Eugene. How he “stands in the presence of one who -- through his mastery of mysticism and mind-control -- has lived for over 150 years!” Therefore he is the only one alive fit to rule the Earth. Fate has honored Frog-Man but mocked the Yellow Claw, as his plans for world domination have been thwarted.

He relates how Captain America and the Avengers, though inferior in battle, managed to prevent his victory. When his ship crashed into the sea, the Avengers didn’t think he could have survived but he managed to survive by pure force of his unyielding will. He explains how he dragged his broken body to his nearby island base. There, the Yellow Claw used his “sorcerous secrets,” which have kept him alive all this time, to restore himself back to “the peak of power.” And while he was recuperating he planned...

Instead of forcing humanity to its knees, Yellow Claw decided “to let them kneel before me voluntarily.” So he assumed the identity of a legendary eastern holy man, the Bhagwan Sri Ananda, who hadn’t been seen for fifty years. Using his insight into human nature and skill at mass manipulation, he gathered worshipers from all over the world. With the promise of “inner peace,” the gullible people accepted his pack of lies. A few minor prophecies, carefully fulfilled by his minions, drew even more followers.

His latest prophecy was for New York to be destroyed by earthquake and tsunami and, with the scientific genius of his loyal lackey Hop Sung, he developed a mind-amplification device capable of unleashing the limitless, untapped power of the human psyche! The next day, tens of thousands of his followers will meditate and pray to him and with the device he will gather those energies to move the earth to bring down New York City! Yellow Claw raises his goblet in a toast to his vision as he proclaims his plans from his throne to the trembling, terrified Frog-Man.

Meanwhile, in lower Manhattan, a father waits... and wonders... and worries... Spider-Man drops down suddenly from a lamp post behind Vinny and comments that he looks like a man with a problem. Luckily, he’s good at problem solving! Vinny is startled and growls “What the heck took you so long, you stupid--” before apologizing. Spider-Man asks if it’s Eugene. When Vinny asks how he knows, Spider-Man replies that he’s heard Vinny was looking for him and that usually means his son has gotten himself into some kind of trouble.

Spider-Man remembers the first time he ran into Eugene as Frog-Man and has lost count of how many times he’d “boinged” into Spider-Man’s life. He tells Vinnie he hoped he’d heard the last of Frog-Man for awhile.

Vinny is really worried and thinks Eugene is in it really deep this time, because Captain America is mixed up in it too. Spider-Man comments dryly that it’s nice that he’s not the only super-hero whose life Frog-Man is ruining! Vinny exclaims that this time it’s serious. He doesn’t know where Eugene is and he’s really scared. Spider-Man decides to help, much to Vinnie’s relief but says that, if Captain America can’t handle it, they might need some help. And he knows just who to call. Vinnie apologetically lists his son’s flaws: “pushy, obnoxious, over-bearing, and thick-headed -- but he’s got his good points!” Spider-Man replies, “I thought those WERE his good points!”

Back in upstate New York, Captain America slowly returns to consciousness, experiencing nausea, headaches and hallucinations. He struggles to focus, asking, “Who’s... there...?” as a figure advances towards him. He wonders if it’s a monster or a man and tries to defend himself. However, instead of violence, there is a gentle laying on of hands. A soft, comforting whisper. And a slow refocusing of eyes, mind and heart.

Captain America asks the kind-faced old asian gentleman “Where am I?” and “WHO ARE you?” The old man informs him that he’s in the compound of the Yellow Claw and that he is a friend. Captain America asks how the old man cleared his head of the effects of the drugs so completely. The old man replies that Captain America did it; he only helped him focus the incredible energies of Cap’s own mind. He tells Captain America that Cap has a very vibrant soul which is why he must “stop this madness!” Captain America asks if he knows Yellow Claw’s plan. The old man replies, “I do.”

After the tale is told, Captain America exclaims that he has to get out of the cell. The old man pulls Cap’s shield out of the shadows behind him and asks if it will be of any help. “My shield!!” Cap exclaims. The old man suggests he use it wisely, gives him his blessing then Cap smashes the door down. When Cap looks back into the cell, he’s surprised to find it empty and wonders if the old man wasn’t part of his drug-induced hallucinations. “I’m coming, Claw!” he thinks as he races through the torch-lit dungeon.

Meanwhile, above ground and several miles south, Frog-Man wakes to find himself outside. The last thing he remembers is Hop Sung coming at him with a needle. He wonders why they let him go and realizes they probably thought he wasn’t much of a threat. Feeling really dejected and foolish, he’s startled when a metal door creeks open nearby, revealing a dark cave. He barely makes out something big and ugly moving inside when he’s surprised by a deep resonant “Ribit!” Suddenly giant, bear-sized frogs leap out of the cave towards him.

“Holy moly!” he exclaims, “Giant frogs!?!?” Using the springs on his feet to leap away from their attack, he realizes Yellow Claw must have a sick sense of humor to create monster frogs just to kill him. Bouncing off another frog, he frantically tries to escape, realizing they were experts at it compared to him. Suddenly, he crashes head first into a frog which jumped up to block him. Helpless on his back, the giant frogs begin to lick him and, as he thinks he’s about to die, Eugene realizes that it tickles. They aren’t trying to eat him, they actually like him! Believing it to be a miracle he gives thanks to the heavens and vows to become a real hero and not just a joke.

At dawn, two hundred thousand followers of the false Bhagwan “Sri Ananda” have gathered from all over the nation and across the world to hear his words. The fawning Hop Sung sounds a gong and the disguised Yellow Claw rises up through the stage, a giant screen behind him projecting his image to the vast crowd. They cheer as he sits on a broad throne and a robed henchman places a massive, crown-like helmet on his head. He directs the crowd to begin a meditation, “Let your love be centered upon me... let your hearts and minds be focused upon me!” Two round gems begin to glow on the helmet as he directs the people to give all their hopes, their dreams and their fears to him so he can “change the world!”

Suddenly, Captain America throws off his robe disguise and rips off Yellow Claw’s latex mask, revealing his true face. He grabs a microphone and yells that it’s all a lie, but he is too late. The crowd is in a trance, and the Yellow Claw exclaims that his mind-amplification device has done its work. “They are MINE!” and in only a few moments the energies he’s drained from their “willing psyches” will wipe out Manhattan Island. But first, he will use those energies to destroy Captain America.

A massive claw of pure mental energy surges out of the helmet. Cap dodges and it becomes a fist, smashing the ground just as he leaps out of the way. He barely deflects the fist again with his shield but it moves at the speed of thought and Cap is soon trapped in its giant grasp.

As Yellow Claw is about to crush Cap, Hop Sung apologizes for interrupting but he’s spotted something very strange. Frog-Man has arrived with “the charge of the frog brigade!” Yellow Claw exclaims, “Why you insolent little--” and orders his minions to stop him. Frog-Man thinks he’s probably going to get himself killed but if he can help Cap, it’s worth it. He notices the henchmen look like they’re scared of him but he’s unaware that Spider-Man has arrived with the Human Torch, along with Angel, Beast & Iceman. “Maybe I really do strike terror into the hearts of evil-doers!” Frog-Man thinks to himself.

“No! This can’t be! Not now!” Yellow Claw exclaims, which makes Frog-Man think it’s him the Claw’s afraid of, but he gets the feeling he’s missing something. He is because, behind him, the other heroes are really giving the villains a good thrashing.

Yellow Claw smashes Captain America onto the stage with the mental claw, realizing he must act quickly. He turns to unleash the power of the device but is distracted by the giant frog riding Frog-Man leaping towards him. “You again?!?!” he exclaims. Frog-Man says, “Yeah!” and taunts, “What’re you gonna DO about it?” “This!” Yellow Claw replies and smashes him out of the air with his mental energies. “Oh.” Frog-Man says, “Uh-oh!” He’s going down... and out.

Yellow Claw turns and proclaims, “And now, Manhattan Island--” but unnoticed, behind him, Captain America reaches for his shield. “Lives!!” interrupts Cap as, with the last of his strength, he hurls his shield at Yellow Claw’s crown and the device is shattered. Yellow Claw exclaims in horror that without the helmet... Captain America finishes his sentence, informing him that he’s out of a job!

With the helmet destroyed, the crowd is no longer enthralled and is now angry. Captain America tells him not to try anything but the Yellow Claw replies that he will do nothing, “except -- escape!” as a hidden jet pack pops through his jacket and he rockets away. Hop Sung begs his master not to leave him behind but Captain America grabs the obsequious toady and tells him the Claw’s gone “and so are you!”

Later, after state and federal authorities have mopped up, Captain America thanks Eugene for distracting the Claw at that crucial moment so he could recover and smash the device. He asks Eugene if he’s all right and Gene replies that he thought for a while that he was winning the battle alone until he noticed Spider-Man and the other heroes. He sounds so down that Spider-Man tells him to look on the bright side, “We couldn't have done it without you!” This perks Frog-Man back up and he proclaims he probably could have trounced the villains if he had a little more time.

He’s surprised by Vinnie pulling his frog mask off, who asks him what he means by that. Eugene sheepishly asks his dad if he’s gonna kill him now or wait until they get home. Vinnie pulls his son into a hug and tells him he’s proud that Eugene managed to sneak into the Claw’s communications center to get a message out to the feds. Cap even tells Eugene that maybe someday he’ll become a full-fledged hero. “Whaddaya mean someday?!” Frog-Man proclaims as he re-dons his mask and launches into a heroic speech. Spider-Man and the rest of the heroes cringe and look dismayed. Human Torch asks Beast why they’d let Spider-Man talk them into this rescue mission. Beast replies resignedly that it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Around midnight in Avengers Mansion, Steve Rogers reads about the real Sri Ananda in a newspaper article, which says he hasn’t been seen since 1939. A photograph published next to the article is the only one ever taken of him. To Steve’s shock, it’s the wise, kindly old man from the cell. Steve muses in wonder that perhaps there are still miracles in the world, after all.

(2nd story)

Vision & the Scarlet Witch are strolling down a street in Manhattan. They approach an old homeless woman selling flowers from her cart. Scarlet Witch greets her, saying, “Good evening, Rosie. This old street corner wouldn’t be the same without you.” Rosie informs them she saved the prettiest flower for “Miss Wanda, just like always.”

After they leave, Rosie hails a man in a dark trench coat, asking if he wants a rose to warm the night. He replies that blood is red and warm, and stabs her repeatedly with an ice pick.

In Ben Urich’s Night Beat column, the day after her burial, Ben writes of Rosie’s death. He muses that no one knew if that was her real name and that no one bothered to take the time to find out. The “Skid-Row Slasher” intended to make a name for himself. It’s strange how people remember the murderers but quickly forget their victims. Sadly, no one will remember Rosie, a nameless street person. Someone with no mourners and tragically, no flowers for her grave.

Vision and Scarlet Witch visit the grave. It’s raining and bleak. Vision is troubled that she died alone, without friends, without even a name. Scarlet Witch sympathizes but Vision states that while she is a mutant, she’s still human while he is synthetic, “A cold, uncaring machine.” She passionately refutes that. He is the man she loves, who loves her. Vision rises into the air and asks, who loved Rosie? He knows the pain of loneliness, comparing it to a death, of sorts. Wanda replies sadly to herself, “...or worse...” She gazes sadly down at the single rose in her hand.

Vision has gone to the NYPD 28th Precinct to talk to Captain Mathias about the Skid-Row Slasher. “Five murders in less than two months. Better believe I want ‘im.” Mathias is having trouble with the Coke machine and thumps it. “Blasted machine!” Vision phases through it and frees the stuck can for him. Mathias realizes Vision might have thought his outburst was directed at him. “Uh... I didn’t mean...” “No offence taken” Vision replies.

Mathias tells him the investigation is ongoing and they’re doing what they can. He’s interrupted by a plainclothes officer who informs him of a hostage situation with 2 officers down. “It never ends.” his Captain replies. Vision responds that it did “for one nameless old lady” and that they owe her more than an unmarked grave, as he phases through the window.

Vision visits Ben Urich at the Daily Bugle. Ben asks for a light and Vision uses his eye beams to ignite Ben’s cigarette. Momentarily taken aback, Urich quickly regains his composure. He thinks of someone who might know the truth about Rosie. “Her name’s Gerty.” Vision asks where he can find her and Urich replies that he can’t, without help. They take a taxi to Grand Central Station.

Vision wonders why Urich’s brought them there. He replies that she’s got no place else. Urich spots a policeman he knows. Officer Ryan wonders what Urich is up to with such “high-powered” company. “Pursuit of the all-mighty story, Ryan.” he replies and asks if he’s seen Gerty. Ryan tells him he had to “run ‘er outta here” a little while ago and says “She probably hit the rails.” Vision asks Urich what Ryan meant. “The subway. Some of the cars are even heated.” Urich informs him.

They fail to notice they are being followed by the Skid-Row Slasher as they search the platforms. Urich spots Gerty and tells her that waiting for a train could take forever. She tells him she’s got nothin’ but time. He asks if she’s heard about Rosie, if she knows Rosie’s story, what Rosie’s real name was. Gerty says “Rosie’s all I ever knew. Just plain Rosie.” Urich tells her to take care and she says she’ll do her best. Vision asks, “What now, Ben?” as they climb the steps up from the platform and Urich says, “I wish I knew. Looks like we’ve reached a dead end.”

Gerty’s scream stops them short and they dash back to spot her trying to defend herself from the Slasher. Urich shouts “It’s him! The Slasher!” and the Slasher jumps off the platform, onto the rails, and runs into the subway tunnel. Urich asks if Gerty’s OK and she retorts furiously, “He tried to cut me! Little weasel-eyed punk tried to cut me!”

The Slasher glances behind and spots the Vision flying after him. He turns back only to discover the train bearing down on him. The screech of breaks fills the air but it’s too late and the Slasher is hit by the train. The Vision can only phase and allow the train to pass through him.

Vision & Urich visit the unmarked grave where Rosie is buried. Ben says sadly that at least the Slasher won’t kill again, won’t claim another nameless victim. Vision responds, “She had a name, Ben. The only one that ever really mattered,” and uses his eye beams to engrave “Rosie” on the headstone and the image of a rose below it. They leave a bundle of roses on the grave.

Characters Involved: 

(1st story)

Captain America

Frog-Man (Eugene)

Yellow Claw (also disguised as "Bhagwan Sri Ananda")

Hop Sung


Vinny (Eugene's father)


Human Torch

Angel, Beast, Iceman (as the "X-terminators" aka X-Factor)

Sri Ananda (or possibly his spirit)

Two hundred thousand followers of "Bhagwan Sri Ananda"

State and Federal Authorities

Giant frogs

(2nd story)

Vision & Scarlet Witch

Ben Urich

The Skid-Row Slasher

Captain Mathias of the NYPD 38th Precinct

A plain clothes officer and other police officers of the 38th Precinct

Officer Ryan



various residents of New York

Story Notes: 

(1st story)

This is the second part of a story which began in Marvel Fanfare (1st series) #31.

While Yellow Claw is musing over his recent past, a footnote tells us those events took place in Avengers (1st series) #206. However, this is incorrect, as the Claw actually appeared in #204-205.

A footnote tells us that Spider-Man first encountered Eugene as Frog-Man in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #121 and a number of times after that. Human Torch also appeared in Marvel Team-Up #121. Angel, Beast & Iceman had encountered Frog-Man while they were in the Defenders (1st series) #131, much to their chagrin.

Vinny was briefly the costumed criminal “Leap-Frog” which is where his son Eugene got the costume.

Spider-Man encountered Angel, Beast & Iceman (along with Cyclops & Marvel Girl) for the first time in their "X-terminators" costumes in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #282. Iceman gives him a contact number there in case Spider-Man ever needs them. That issue takes place after the widely broadcast events in X-Factor (1st series) #7.

Since Angel's wings are perfectly fine here, this must take place before the Mutant Massacre where his wings were destroyed by the Marauders. [X-Factor (1st series) #9-11] The only spot this can fit for X-Factor is immediately after Amazing Spider-Man #282 and during X-Factor (1st series) #8.

(2nd story)

Vision & Scarlet Witch probably appear here sometime around their appearance in West Coast Avengers Annual #1.

Issue Information: 
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