This one's for Dan:
So today's pic for Back-Issue Spotlight if the day is Marvel Shadows and Light#1.
Basically Marvel was trying their hand at putting out a monthly anthology series like it used to back in the 70's, and as to possibly compete with DC's Showcase anthology series. The fact that by the time Shadows and Light came out, Showcase wasn't being published anymore, should've told Marvel that format wasn't working. Alas Marvel tried out the new series anyways, showcasing 4 well-known Marvel heroes in Wolverine, Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, and Blade the vampire hunter.
Marvel Shadows and Light#1 (Feburary 1997)
The first story is called "The Spoon Job" (and no it's not a prison rape story Karl;)
by John Paul Leon and Alex Leon.
Up until then artist John Paul Leon was mostly known for his work for Milestone Comics' Static, so it's cool to see his early Marvel work here. His dazzling photo-realistic art must've really gotten him noticed, because in two years later he'd be the artist for Jim Krueger and Alex Ross's Earth X series. Yeah, that guy.
In this particular story, a Hydra agent is hired to track down and inject Wolverine with a new type of poison designed to kill people with highly evolved immune systems, like Wolverine.
The guy stalking Wolverine is the very same chemist that created the poisonous compound, and is super curious to see it's effects in real time.
A trap is set and Wolverine gets ambushed, but we all know Wolverine. You put down, but you just can't keep him down. Eventually he tracks down the Hyrda agent through a game of cat and mouse through the New York Subway tunnel. The chemist actually manages to give Wolvie the slip.....or does he?
You'll have to read it to find out the twist ending, put it's nice one that proves time and again, why Wolverine truly is the best at what he does.
The next one features Blade the vampire hunter in a story called "Into The Tomb".
It's by James Felder and an artist some of you should hopefully be familar with, the artist simply known as Ladronn(Jose Ladronn). He's done work on Cable, an Inhumans one-shot, as well as work for Image Comics. He was like the modern, European version of the spirit of Jack Kirby. And then he disappeared.
Anyways, this is a very dark and gritty story revolving around Blade and his quest to hunt down Dracula.
Blade goes straight to the source and the known home of Dracula, Transylvania in hopes of ending him once and for all. What follows is grisley scenes and images of all those who were unfortunate to cross paths with the prince of darkness. Eventually Blade finds one lone villager who's also hunting Dracula, Father Nicolas.
Together they go to Castle Dracula and battle his undead brides.
At the end of the story, we're left with a cliffhanger, wondering if and how Blade gets out of this one.
Don't ask me why there's two titles for this one, as the inside cover says the story's called "Prisoners Of The Red Ghost, and yet the actual title on the first page of said story is called "Trio Of Terror". Weird.
Anyhoo, now you know who one of the main villains is, the Red Ghost. He's a perinnal foe of the FF, when's not doing whatever unemployed Russian monkey trainers with super powers do.
He's joined by the two main badasses of the Negative Zone, Blaastar and Annihulus. Just one of them alone is enough to cause any superhero or team massive headaches, but those two, plus the Red Ghost combined? Shhhhhhit!
So it seems that the Red Ghost has found a way to duplicate Marvel's nega-bands, and has captured Rick to lure him there in a trap. Blaastar and Annihulus both want to come to Earth to conquer it, and those nega-bands are their ticket out of the Negative Zone to do just that.
Cap and Rick play the game of switcharoo back and forth to keep from getting killed, and in the end Cap is forced to sacrifice a sure way out of being bonded to Rick. Of course we all know they do eventually get separated, but once again Captain Marvel's heroism and self-sacrifice for the greater good are put on display here.
The final story is by well-known legend, Michael Golden. He's drawn everything from Batman to ROM, 'Nam to Dr. Strange. And it's here that Mr.Golden once again draws and writes a simple but visually powerful tale with the good doctor in a story called "Strange Reflections".
It's a very quiet, and sparsely-worded story, mostly told in stunning visuals. We're shown a boy watching tv, and being bombarded with various images we all see everyday. This is juxtposed with Dr. Strange fighting for his very life against a demon or something of some sort from another dimension attacking him.
It's bit of social commentary on what we see on the tv, be it the news or entertainment shows, and how reality and fantasy seem to blend into each other more and more. If only this had come out now, I'd be interested to see Golden's take on the reality show craze that's taken over most tv channels nowadays.
Love that last panel.
Gotta' love that Golden art though right?
This anthology series didn't last too long of course. Three issues only I think, but at least Marvel tried, and they even managed to snag some industry legends like Steve Ditko, Michael Golden, and Berni Wrightson to handle art. Not bad.