This continues the Gauntlet origin stories with Mysterio
In Hollywood, at the home of Academy Illusionists, Quentin Beck is telling his mentor, Ray Bradhaus, that he is convinced the various superheroes are all frauds. They may dress up to convince the public but that their powers are simply illusions. As they are talking, Bradhaus refuses to tell Beck how he created some of his famous illusions – and Beck releases the green gas synonymous with Mysterio, while putting on the costume.
To himself, Beck recalls how he has been blacklisted by Hollywood after an accident, or perhaps not, involving a famous actor. Beck descends into Bradhaus’ basement / dungeon and looks to examine the various traps and illusions. He wants to find something that will allow him to impersonate Spider-Man in New York to drive up the reward, then capture him for the money.
He specifically wants the secret to Bradhaus’ “wall gag”, which involves a big red realistic demon. He eventually triggers it, then spears it before escaping, delighted he has beaten it and ready to take on Spider-Man.
As Ray comes to, Doctor Strange is there. He says he has dispelled the demon and Bradhaus admits he should have told Beck the truth the whole time – that the demon was real and not an illusion.
Fred Van Lente’s story here is a lot better than the last issue and actually adds something to the character. For instance, if Beck had known the illusion he admired so much was actually reality, would he have ever gone down the full Mysterio path?
There are the type of questions these extra stories are surely supposed to pose. If not, why have they been expensively created? Barry Kitson’s art is, as ever, terrific. The illusions are bright and bold – as you would expect from a Mysterio story – and the artist really brings old the story itself.
In a very hit-and-miss relaunch, this issue is definitely a hit.