Slingers #5

Background

Ricochet and Hornet finally were able to confront their traitorous team mate, Prodigy, who was surveying the Grande Royale Hotel. He defeated them both quickly, tossing Ricochet over the edge of the roof and throwing Hornet through a window. Ricochet was rescued midfall by Dusk, whom he had thought was dead. (That's because she was.) When Prodigy approached Hornet, he was told that he wasn't very smart and he didn't even know where his mentor was hiding. Their conversation ended when a group of Maggia goons attacked with tommy guns.

Dan Lyons, meanwhile, was attending the grand opening of the Grande Royale Hotel with an agenda in mind. He had once been the Black Marvel and had failed to save lives at the original Grande Royale Hotel. He wandered the building, placing bombs in various places. If he had failed as a hero the first time, he could do it this time.

Prodigy defeated the Maggia goons and learned that something was going on in the basement. He smashed his way through the floors until he arrived, and found a Maggia boss in a secret train tunnel. His mentor, the Black Marvel, was still nowhere to be seen. At the top of the hotel, Ricochet reintroduced Hornet to Dusk. At that moment, Black Marvel set off the bombs around the building.

Story 'Goodbye to the Golden Age'

  Slingers #5
Summary: Peter Parker appearance
Editor: Ruben Diaz
Writer: Joseph Harris
Pencils: Chris Cross
Inker: Rob Stull
Articles: Aunt May Parker (BTS)

In the basement, Prodigy is demanding answers from the Maggia. He didn't get many, as the boss told him he'd be stupid to build a hotel just to burn it down. At that moment, the ceiling began to rumble and crack. He heard the popping and snapping of fire above them and the sounds of people screaming. Meanwhile, the Black Marvel wasn't getting the response from the people in danger that he had expected. They ran past him in panic, not caring about his dramatic monologue.

Elsewhere, Hornet is flying Ricochet to safety as the floor collapsed under them and Ricochet says he doesn't need another fall or to be caught the same way. Dusk retorts the he doesn't know what a good fall is and he replies, "Hey...it speaks." Hornet reminds them that the building may collapse but Ricochet promises he wont leave until he gets answers. The floor collapses at that point and Dusk went to save them again.

Black Marvel's plan continues to fall apart, as people shove him out of the way and he has a heart attack. As he lays on the ground, he still demands that they love him and that they must know fear.

As Hornet and Ricochet fell, they were caught by Dusk. At that time, they felt like they were falling in a dark void, couldn't see Cassie or hear each other properly. Suddenly they felt a pull and were back on solid ground, much to Ricochet's gratitude. In the basement, the Maggia boss was taunting Prodigy into saving the civilians in the building and letting him go. Deciding to be a hero, he jumped back through the hole in the ceiling.

Hornet and Ricochet had been teleported to a burning dining room inside the hotel and were faced by the Black Marvel, who seemed very healthy and comfortable. Ricochet told him to stay away and Marvel said he couldn't possibly get closer. He had taken them from nothing and made them into heroes...and they liked it. He could see that they enjoyed the danger, the thrill and the adoration. Ricochet told him he was crazy, to look around at the burning building. Black Marvel told him that he should be grateful, considering that he gave him a mask to cover his....deformities. Hornet stepped in and told Ricochet not to listen, to which Black Marvel was surprised to hear him speak up. He had thought that he was dead but obviously Prodigy had been wrong. He was glad that they were all alive and well.

Prodigy arrived and said that some of them were not very well at all. Dusk added that some of them weren't even alive. Ricochet told Prodigy that Black Marvel had used all of them, he set them up so that he could be a hero. Standing with Black Marvel, Prodigy nervously told him that he didn't know what he was talking about. Also, he didn't know who was under the black cape but warned her to stay away. The previous Dusk had died quickly. She was well aware and reminded them that there were still people in the building.

Prodigy began to say that people needed help but Black Marvel told him that he had given him everything and could take it all away. Black Marvel put his hand on Prodigy's shoulder, but Prodigy shoved it away. Hornet left to save a hotel employee trapped in an elevator but accidentally caused a backdraft for the fire when he opened the doors to the elevator shaft. Outside the hotel, the two cops that had been investigating Cassie's death in the alley showed up in time to see something that looked like her appear outside with civilians from the building. They took the rescued people away and wanted to talk to Dusk, who immediately teleported back inside. Back the elevator shaft, Dusk tells Hornet that she isn't feeling well and needs to leave.

The sick and staggering Black Marvel is wandering through the halls of the hotel, regretting that he would never been seen as a hero. That's when he found Johnny's girlfriend, Kathy, chocking on smoke on the floor. When he grabbed her, she saw nothing but a terrifying man with glowing yellow eyes, which turned into a skull filled with yellow light. Ricochet arrived and tossed his disks at the figure, saying this was his resignation.

Dusk was weak and barely able to stand, and needed Hornet to fly her to safety, saying that she felt like she did right after she died. Hornet just needed to help the employee in the elevator before they could leave. The cable to the elevator snapped and it began to fall but the employee was saved by Hornet. Cassie, however, had found a bomb on the bottom of the elevator, which immediately blew up. Al three fell down the shaft but the elevator cab was prevented from crushing them...by Prodigy. He didn't know how long he could hold it up, and the whole building was collapsing. He told Hornet to take his cape and wrap it around the employee to keep him safe.

Outside, Ricochet was helping Kathy out the front door and asked if she was ok. She said she was fine and called him Johnny. He stammered and asked what she said. She replied, "I said...I'm fine. Thanks to you." Johnny said it must have been the hair that gave him away. He knew he should have covered it. He asked the Black Marvel what he thought, as he looked down at the old man he had dragged out of the building.

Inside, Prodigy was still holding onto the elevator car and holding up the building. Cassie showed up and he told her that she wasn't cut out for this sort of thing. She said none of them were. She was too weak to teleport both of them. She left and the burning building collapsed onto Prodigy. He had never felt stronger or more alive.

In Queens, Peter was in Aunt May's attic sorting out more junk that he was going to take to his new apartment. He wanted to check on a trunk which held the costumes he had worn months prior. He had left them up there after they weren't needed and knew that some people were still fans of them. He hoped to know why.

General Comments

Yes, Prodigy is a sociopath. Yes, he sold out his team mates for the benefit of a narcissistic old man with delusions of grandeur. I just like his internal conflict. He hates his team and is out for himself but he does honestly want to do the right thing. He's just too easily manipulated by Dan Lyons.

I had thought I had heard of the Black Marvel before, many years ago. I looked the character up and he was created in 1939 and first appeared in Mystic Comics #5, published by Marvel. I liked that he was a hero that went bas. That isn't all that unique in comic books, heroes and villains do switch back and forth. It's just that he was contemporary to Captain America, and was of that mold that heroes were purely good and noble. After so many years of inactivity and probably living a mundane life, Lyons became obsessed with his glory days. He was a bad guy that was barely a bad guy. I liked that, it fleshed him out from what had been (I'm assuming) a pretty two dimensional portrayal. The mystery of what is going on with the Black Marvel in the hotel is interesting. Why is he a dying old man one moment and a supernatural terror the next? We'll see.

I'm glad to see Dusk finally get some more action. Her abilities are still very much a mystery to everyone, including herself. She's dead but can still get tired and only teleport one person. I did have to question why she kept rescuing her team mates just to put them in one unsafe place or another. I did wonder how Dan Lyons was able to place a bomb under an elevator car and why it went off so late compared to the others.

Ricochet is still the emotionally immature one. While the building is burning and floors are collapsing, he wants to stand around and get answers about what Dusk is. Not the time or place, Johnny. It was good to see him chewing out Prodigy and Black Marvel and to see him react to being told he had a "deformity." Was Black Marvel just taunting him on being a mutant, or has his mutation caused him to have atypical anatomy? Questions, questions.

Hornet kinda got screwed. He didn't get a lot to do, except stand up to Black Marvel and then save the hotel employee. His mechanical wings are still functional when the story calls for it.

Kathy figured out her boyfriend's secret, which was good. (I'm glad she isn't Betty Brant.) I smirked that it was his hair that gave him away. Frosted tips in your hair wasn't such an odd thing in 1999 but it was enough. It was much odder to see that he was still following that trend in 2017 in Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #8.

Overall Rating

I approve all around. The story keeps moving forward, with interesting little plot points dropped in every issue. Just figure out what is going on with Hornet's wings.