Friday, October 8, 2010
Project Pegasus: Gettin' Settled... and Surprised!
Marvel Two-in-One 53 (July 1979)
"The Inner War!"
Mark Gruenwald/Ralph Macchio-John Byrne/Joe Sinnott
Doug: As the Bronze Age Babies approach 18 months of spreading comics love to the masses, we are still discussing/prioritizing/anticipating several key 1970's-'80's storylines. One such tale that has come up several times in our board meetings is Project Pegasus, a lengthy arc that was foreshadowed in Marvel Two-in-One 42-43 and then got rolling (big time) from #53 through #58. And what a creative team -- you have only to look at and admire the roll call at the top, and then later factor in a fella named George Perez... Wow. I'll be reading from the recently-released Marvel Premier Hardcover, The Thing: Project Pegasus.
Karen: I'm also using that hardcover for these reviews, even though I have the original issues. However, I loved this story and read it so many times, those old comics are pretty worn out. It was nice to be able to get this collection so I don't have to mangle my back issues any more!
Doug: MTIO 53 teams Ben with Quasar, aka Wendell Vaughn. But as the story begins, the Thing is flying a Pogo Plane to Project Pegasus where he will begin a short tour as a member of the security team. Upon landing, he's scanned, fumigated, and scanned some more. And just when he's about to be introduced to the Security Chief... who shows up but the Crusader, who the FF had fought in their own mag (issues 164-165). A major tussle ensues, with Ben coming out on the short end against... Quasar? Young Wendell Vaughn officially introduces himself, and then relates a short synopsis of the origin of Bob Grayson, the former Marvel Boy, and how Vaughn came into possession of the quantum bands.
Karen: The Thing is one of my favorite Marvel characters. In the hands of good writers, writers who understand him, he is able to project not only humor but also considerable warmth and depth of emotion. I felt like the characterization of Ben in these issues was spot-on. Ben's mission to Pegasus also has a very personal aspect, which we'll get to shortly.
Doug: I agree with you about the Thing. He's a character, along with Spider-Man and maybe Captain America, who when (as you said) handled correctly can always provide an entertaining story.
Doug: As Quasar shows Ben around, they come across a scientist named Lightner, whom Ben had met in an earlier issue. Lightner gives a cold shoulder, and then steals away and uses a communication device to contact his boss -- who gives off a quite sinister air. Perhaps it's the fact that he says to initiate Project Berserker when he learns that Ben is present at Pegasus.
Doug: We next get an interlude where Thundra, of all people, is shown striding along the streets of Manhattan's seedier side. Of course she gets into a scrap, but what comes out of it is interesting -- she gets offered a contract to wrestle professionally. An African-American "little person" named Herkimer J. Ogelthorpe tells her that she will make them both a small fortune.
Karen: Thundra always made Ben's life so much more interesting. Her 'act first, think later' personality led to many an adventure. Of course her odd romantic impulses towards Ben were fun too.
Doug: Back to Pegasus, Quasar continues the tour, past some super-baddies who are imprisoned. Of note is the cell holding Nuklo, who we've covered on the blog a couple of times in the past. But the destination that most interests Ben is the cell of Wundarr, his former sidekick. Wundarr, after being used to tap the energies of the cosmic cube has fallen into a coma. His incredible powers insulate him from the outside world by dampening all energy within close proximity -- even Ben's strength.
Karen: There's the heart of our story: poor Wundarr, Ben's 'little' buddy, lying comatose on a slab (it didn't look very comfortable did it?). Ben feels terrible about it. Pegasus security was so tight he never could find out how Wundarr was doing, so he managed to get a stint on the security team so he could check up on him.
Doug: Your "little" buddy comment made me think of the Skipper and Gilligan! And I guess in a way that's not far from the relationship Ben had with Wundarr!
Karen: Wundarr was a Steve Gerber parody of Superman: he did the whole "strange visitor from another world" routine with him. Even though Wundarr looked like a young man, mentally, he had not developed past about 8 years of age or so, which made for some odd situations. I do like the arc he takes in this story; I just wish he'd continued to have more of a presence in the Marvel Universe.
Doug: Ben is shown his quarters, where he decides to settle in after a long day. But, we see Lightner apparently up to no good, ambushing a couple of guards while a shadowy figure infiltrates the compound. As Ben decides to get up and go for a walk, who waits around the next corner, ready for action -- but Deathlok!!