Marvel Comics Presents #1

 Marvel Comics presents started in 1988 as a way to showcase characters and talent that the wider comics world weren't familiar with. The idea was to have an X-Men story that would get people to buy the book (this was during the height of the X-Men popularity boom) and then have other stories featuring characters that had either faded in popularity or had never gained it in the first place.

The first story in issue #1 featured Wolverine, because putting Wolverine on your cover at the time was like printing money. We see Wolverine for the first time in Madripoor, a place that would become a big part of his lore. He is going to a bar to ask about someone named Tiger. The man he plans to talk to is getting a beat down by some local thugs. Wolverine makes quick work of them. The man he rescued shows little gratitude though, as he and the others in the bar pull guns as soon as Wolverine says who sent him there. Short but just enough to whet your appetite. I'll admit I wasn't part of the X-Men craze of the period, but I'm actually looking forward to digging into some of the Wolverine mythology in this series, where a lot of his back story was actually played out.

Man-Thing is one of Marvel's weirdest characters. I'm not surprised it never really caught on, but I keep hoping it will. Sort of an answer to DC's Swamp Thing, but much more bizarre. Man-Thing has empathic abilities, to the point that the feelings of others cause it pain. So when it feels someone in pain coming toward it, it needs to end that pain. The man coming his way is not really a man anymore, he has turned into a man shaped mass of exposed tissue. Man-Thing puts him and itself out of their misery by smashing his head. Then two men show up hunting the man . They talk about the man being part of an experiment, and mention an implant. Man-Thing follows them back to a cabin, where they talk to a general. After the general leaves, the two go inside where we see a pentagram on the wall and crates full of cocaine. Another creature like the one Man-Thing killed comes at the men. Lured by all of the emotion happening, Man-Thing also comes out. When it makes contact with the creature, it feels pain. They fall into the water and continue their struggle while the two men make good their getaway. Finally the creature is flung ashore and Man-Thing rises victorious from the swamp. So much stuff in 8 short pages of story.  As much as I enjoyed the tease of the Wolverine story, I have to say I'm much more looking forward to reading more of this one.

Master of Kung Fu didn't have nearly as much meat on it's bones as Man-Thing, or even Wolverine. Shang Chi returns to Hong Kong and is attacked by a group of assassins dressed as fishermen. He sees a man in a suit watching him kick their collective ass and chases him. The man leads him to a pond where a woman named Leiko is swimming. He dives in with her and they kiss. When they emerge others are there, including a man named Tarr. I never read Master of Kung Fu, and I get the feeling this would all make more sense and be more meaningful if I had. Reading out of context this way just left me a little disinterested. It doesn't mean it won't end up being a good story, and I realize that Shang Chi is at a disadvantage to Wolverine and Man-Thing, both of whom I have read before. Besides, I know there's a movie coming, so it's past time I familiarized myself with the character.

The last story is the only one that isn't to be continued. It has the Silver Surfer facing off against a parasite that feeds on fear. The Surfer doesn't know the creature is inside him, causing him to face his greatest fears so that it can feed off him. He is first trapped back on Earth, then put in restraints, and finally made mortal again. But each time the Surfer defeats his fear, and in doing so finally defats the parasite itself. Not permanently though, as it heads to Earth in search of easier prey. This really felt like a Green Lantern story that had been repurposed. It was even titled Fear itself. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't one of the better Surfer stories I've read. Of course, there's only so much you can do in 8 pages.


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