Writer Chris Claremont
Penciler Michael Ryan
Inkers Livesay & Kryssing
Letterers AS & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Colors Atomic Paintbrush
Cover Dated November 1999
Inside front Cover is an ad for the first Pokemon movie. Remember when that franchise was good? Even the cartoon up to that point was decent, then it started nose diving and hard. With Ash releasing his Pokemon (like a fool) and the movies getting more and more crazy. I’m pretty sure I jumped out right around the third one. I still say though, if they are going to ever make one game, that you can catch all of them on, I would buy that game immediately. Charge a proper $59.99 and it should balance out at the end.
I’m not sure what made Marvel tap Claremont for this miniseries but I’m glad they did. He gets to write most of the Marvel Universe, though this is 1999 Marvel and this does a fine job of working as a time capsule of which characters were either new or popular at the time.
I had a bit of an argument with someone online a few years ago over if this counts as a Kitty Pryde miniseries or not. She gets her own subplot throughout the series, with varying degree of importance per issue. She isn’t one of those characters who get two panels on one page and never seen again.
What I also like about this, and particularly in this issue, there are a few fights with mutants and one might think with Claremont at the helm, that any mutant would win their match up and he really doesn’t go that direction. Now, does he go in the opposite direction, having mutants almost lose and lose badly? Yes, yes he does. We’ll get to a few examples of that in this issue.
Issue opens with another match, one that was decided by voters on Marvel.com, which I believe was a new website at that point. I believe I voted there who who knows or remembers which bouts were eligible.
Daredevil vs. Deadpool, which was a pairing that we kept getting during the late 90s. Mostly do to Joe Kelly being the writer of both characters. I would have voted for Deadpool in this instance, as I am a big fan of Joe Kelly’s run on Deadpool. That whole volume was good, including Priest’s run and up to and not including Agent X. Kelly’s run on Daredevil, I remember buying and liking for the most part.
Claremont has Deadpool cracking wise and actually having Daredevil making a few jokes. I know after Frank Miller, that Murdock quit being a ‘fun’ character but he’s suppose to be at least, a dry wit.
With all of Deadpool’s chatter, he is the merc-with-a-mouth afterall, he is creating a form of white noise that stops Daredevil from being at his best. At one point, Daredevil believes Deadpool has a baby and in an attempt to catch the baby, falls into a dumpster, the baby turns out is a fake and Deadpool wins.
We then find Wasp, who is colored much darker than she typically is. Wasp is running around in a jungle type environment, as she is being chased by a strange looking alien that is out of focus at the moment. From the cover, and it s revealed a few pages later, that it is the Brood. They have been disguising themselves this entire series from the heroes which the covers have been doing a great job of slowing revealing the mastermind behind this latest Contest. The Brood Queen is trying to figure out who the best heroes are, so that they will make the best host for future Broodlings. It makes perfect sense for a Brood plot.
The Wasp, at this moment, can’t access any of her powers. She gets saved by Beast, who stomps on one of the Brood. Then comes Iron Man, Psylocke (in a weird armor herself – is it a skeleton to one of the fallen Brood?) and Lockdown – who was a character Claremont created for his run on the Fantastic Four.
Iron Man and Lockdown explain the situation and release some nanites that fight the Brood nanites that block the heroes’ powers. They are inside of one of the Acanti, as the Brood are still using that poor race as their starships.
I forget how the heroes of Earth were convinced to participate in this contest but they were promised that the losers will be sent home or to where they were picked up at. Instead, they are being teleported into the would be prison portion of the Acanti.
The next match is barely that. Apparently Black Widow has defeated the entirety of X-Force – which is ridiculous, made worst by having Claremont be the writer. The members we can see are Dani Moonstar, Sunspot and Warpath. Natasha may have been able to defeat them over time, which I have to imagine is what happened behind the scenes but Dani vs. Black Widow is a match I would like to see played out.
To make matters worst, Black Widow goes from this fight to going up against Thor. I wish there was a bracket for this issue or the contest itself as it seems all over the place. Thor can’t believe that he keeps being put up against women, and comely ones at that – which seems to be an odd choice of words for him as he has met all of these ladies in the past and it doesn’t seem like a compliment to me.
So Black Widow turns her widow blasters to full power and Thor no sells the attack and hits her once upside the head and he wins. So what was the point of her single handily taking out X-Force. X-Force was there as they had fought the Slingers in a basketball game. I miss Slingers, such a fun 12 issue series.
Another odd match up, Jean Grey vs. Thing on the Blue Area of the Moon. The captions imply that both have had many victories here. Which is odd as the only ‘victory’ Jean had there was when the Phoenix posing as her killed herself at the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga. Not much of a victory to me. Not sure about Thing’s track record there. I know during AvX, he fought Colossus there and lost.
Jean fakes him out by having a psychic double bulk up and fight him. He goes outside the oxygen filled area of the Blue Area and passed out. That’s one way to have Jean win. One interesting moment is that Thing gets a decent uppercut to Jean, and you usually don’t see much male on female violence. Maybe it is due to her not being really Jean that it was okay to have happened. Like how on cartoons, Wolverine can claw and dearm a guy and then have it be revealed that that man was a cyborg but not having to establish that first.
Then we find Kitty Pryde, being tortured by the Brood Queen. All the heroes have nanites in them, but due to Kitty’s natural state being to be phased – the nanites are working twice as hard to get to her, causing her a lot of pain. This will be the go to example of people pointing out that Kitty’s natural state is to be intangible as that was the case from Fantastic Four vs. X-Men to at this point. Later writers would forget this or it will never come up again. I imagine her natural state is to be tangible now that she is back from space.
Kitty is the only hero who has a real history with the Brood, who also knows that the Brood is here. Beast may have a little experience but not like Kitty’s. The Brood Queen really wants to impregnate Kitty with a broodling as she was denied the chance back in the day.
Then Rogue comes into the room, she is being mentally controlled by the Brood Queen. Then the Queen moves her consciousness into Rogue. Now she has Rogue’s ability to absorb powers – which she can now do to Kitty so that she won’t be in her phasing mode anymore. Not the worst plan.
Before that can take place, we get a quick page fight of Deadpool vs. Hulk! It goes about as well as expected. Deadpool tries to outrun Hulk but gets smashed. Its fun in how quick and how Deadpool knows what is coming.
One of October 1999’s Hot Picks was Uncanny X-Men 375 – X Marks the Corpse! Turns out, Wolverine dies. Turns out, that Wolverine was a Skrull. In Amazing Spider-Man 12 and Peter Parker Spider-Man 12, Venom joins the Sinister Six, which included Kraven, Sandman and Vulture (in a fancy vest). Webspinners 12 has Paul Jenkins and JG Jones. The only pick I didn’t buy was Blade : Vampire Hunter 1.
Back in the Acanti – Hercules, Reed Richards, Spider-Woman (Mattie Franklin) and Daredevil have arrived. Iron Man and Rosetta Stone (yes, that’s her hero name) she is Lockdown’s partner. They are from an alternate Earth or dimension, or something like that. This is where the heroes who have no experience with the Brood or the Acanti, are now informed about who they are. I like the reminder that even the Acanti’s smaller ribs are still hundred miles high. It paints a visual for you that then becomes unimaginable. It is a small miracle that the heroes are even able to locate each other as length wise, the jungle / belly is a thousand miles long.
Iron Man and Rosetta Stone release a probe that should work as a beacon to where most of the heroes are, that also maps the jungle area as well as release positive nanites to restore newly arrived heroes their powers.
Iron Man, being a genius, realizes that there are a lot of heroes present, so the contest must be coming to its conclusion. He also explains to those present what the entire Brood plot has been – to gather the heroes, find the best of the best, plant embryos into those heroes – have a new master race of Brood. Also, the Badoon alien race are helping them as the public face of the content. I am not that familiar with the Badoon besides reading the name in the latest issues of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Iron Man wants to split the loser heroes into two teams, one to keep gathering heroes and the other to start attacking the Brood.
Back to the card!
Spider-Man vs. Domino. Spider-Man notices that Domino must have a power similar to his danger sense and figures he must move faster to out do her power. Which he does and after webbing her, is declared the winner. Which is another insulting win over a mutant by Claremont. I wonder if he was told to make the victories over the mutants, super lame as his sweet revenge for being kicked off the X-Titles back in the day.
Captain America vs. Black Panther. This is an odd one as we get both heroes running commentaries to the fights. Neither one wants to fight the other. Both can tell the other doesn’t want to fight either. Also, both can tell the other is holding back as well as both are distracted. Most likely due to all of those thoughts. It goes on for pages, but it is only two.
Here are two thoughts : Cap – The speed and stillness of the man is incredible. Black Panther – The speed and reactions of the man is incredible.
Oh, and this is during the time when Cap’s shield was broken, so he was using a photonic shield.
Captain America finally realizes that now is the time to attack and wins the fight. Black Panther is super cool about the victory, as neither wanted to do it so it is a hallow victory.
The final fight is between Gambit and Wolverine. Gambit recalls the very first time they fought each other, in the Danger Room as they are now fighting in the Danger Room again. Wolverine claims Gambit’s bo staff can’t really hurt a guy whose bones are unbreakable. Gambit is quick to point out that Wolverine still has flesh and muscles that can be hurt. Which I do enjoy when opponents of Wolverine’s don’t go for the glory shots but think about how flesh tears and that has to hurt, even if it is for the time that it takes to heal.
Wolverine gets the upper hand on Gambit, when Rogue comes out. She stinks of the Brood Queen, so this sends Wolverine into a berserker rage. Gambit takes advantage and empties an entire card deck into Wolverine’s back. Gambit wins.
Rogue declares the contest over, and the winners of future broodlings are – Scarlet Witch (in an outfit only a hussy would wear), Spider-Man, Jean Grey, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Gambit.
I like that there is no need to keep having heroes fight until there is one winner. Six winners makes six future babies and those six offer decent powers. Also, once those six are dead, then the next fights will be easier.
Issue ends with Hawkeye thinking to himself that there must have been a miscount as the system overlooked him, and now he has been in the rafters this entire time. He pulls out an arrow and aims it at Rogue’s heart.
We’ll have to pick this up some other time down the road but don’t worry, Rogue doesn’t die.
I forgot to mention, there are page numbers in this issue. That makes commenting on the issue easier, if I wasn’t so used to not having them.