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Marvel Graphic Novel #17: Review

Jun 1985
David Michelinie, Marc Silvestri

Story Name:

Revenge of the Living Monolith

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Marvel Graphic Novel #17 Review by (September 19, 2013)
Review: Epic adventure features the return of an old villain who becomes a giant monster on a destructive rampage through New York. Often referred to as a team-up of the Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Spider-Man, but that’s a bit misleading; the first third centers on the FF, then the bulk of the story is Cap, Spidey, and Shulkie. A handful of other Avengers appear briefly at the end with only Thor making any sort of contribution to the story. The story itself is interesting, leading us inside the mind of the villain; unfortunately he’s just another megalomaniac with a death in the family, so there isn’t as much to the Living Pharaoh/Monolith as we could have hoped. The other characterization is for Spidey and Cap, the former learning when he’s out of his league (hey, if he could get Mary Jane to marry him, nothing is out of his league!). Cap, on the other hand, is in the comics’ “Super-Soldier who won’t kill” era and so he’s agonizing over being willing to end the life of a giant monster who is slaughtering millions. Yeah, it’s nice to see a hero who considers violence a last resort, but sometimes sensitivity becomes an absurd squeamishness. Silvestri’s art is good, handling facial expressions and mass destruction with equal competence, but it is hurt by muddy printing and color, especially toward the beginning of the piece. The big question is, where were the X-Men in all this?

Comments: Issue includes an essay by David Michelinie on the genesis of the story. Michael Witherby, Brad Joyce, Phil Lord, Keith Williams, Tom Morgan, and Jerry Acerno are listed as background inkers. Bob Sharen, Christie Scheele, Steve Oliff, Mark Bright, Michael Davis, Charles Vess, Paul Becton, Janet Jackson, Petra Scotese, and Paty [Cockrum] are colorists. The Living Pharaoh first appeared in X-MEN (1963) #54-60, becoming the Living Monolith in #56. Eventually the Living Planet returns in the X-Men crossover “The Twelve.” And yes, that is the World Trade Center being destroyed by the villain on the cover.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvel Graphic Novel #17 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Growing up in the suburbs of Cairo, Ahmet Abdol endured much harassment for his desires to be like one of the Pharaohs. As he grew up, his studies in history and genealogy led him to the discovery that he was indeed descended from the ancient rulers of Egypt. As an adult he married his childhood sweetheart Filene and they had a daughter Salome and he took a position as a college professor. Trouble came when he revealed his theory that the ancient Pharaohs were mutants; he was mobbed for his blasphemy. In trying to escape he crashed the car, killing Filene. Enraged at the hostile crowd who refused to help save her, he lashed out, unleashing his own destructive mutant powers. Approached by a cult, he became the Living Pharaoh and sought his destiny as a god on Earth. This led to a conflict with the X-Men and defeat….

Today, Abdol is a convict in prison, his guard being Hassan, his childhood bully. With patience, Abdol has been burning through the electronic shackles that suppressed his power. Now he is free and he summons his followers who rescue him from jail and they take Hassan along as prisoner to witness the triumphs of the Living Pharaoh he had mocked, as he reassembles his cult and prepares to conquer the world….

In New York, a woman is attacked by Egyptians in front of the Baxter Building and is rescued by the Human Torch, who takes her inside to relate her story to the rest of the Fantastic Four. She explains that she is Fayah Sahid, a former follower of Ahmet Abdol, who broke away when she discovered that his plans including brainwashing the world with a mind control device; she escaped and brought a key component of the machine to Reed. It’s all a ruse however: once several aircraft are in position, Fayah activates a device which creates a pyramid-shaped field within the lab which teleports Reed, Sue and, Johnny to the Lair of the Living Pharaoh. They battle the villain’s minions but he absorbs their cosmic power into a weapon which he uses to defeat them. He is then informed that Fayah Sahid has been captured by She-Hulk at the Baxter Building; Abdol is shocked to discover that Fayah is his daughter Salome, who joined his cult under an assumed name. Normally he would press the button which eliminates a failed minion but she is his daughter… The immobile Hassan mocks him as a wimp so in an act of madness he triggers the device which electrocutes Salome and returns to his headquarters where, driven by madness and grief he drains the power of the Fantastic Four and channels it into his own body, growing into the massive Living Monolith. He announces his first act will be one of revenge for his daughter’s death: destroying New York City….

With the Fantastic Four missing, She-Hulk contacts the Avengers and explains the situation to Captain America. But all the other team members are in California visiting their West Coast counterparts so Cap insists on investigating before any plans are made. In need of a scientist, Cap calls in Spider-Man (via Peter Parker at the Daily Bugle). At the Baxter Building, Spidey gets to work and manages to recreate Abdol’s teleportation device. He volunteers to test it and find the Fantastic Four but Cap stops him, insisting that the much stronger She-Hulk be the one to walk into danger. Meanwhile, the Living Monolith has arrived by plane in New York and is going on a rampage through the city as he continues to grow. When word reaches the Baxter Building, the heroes postpone their expedition to find the FF and rush to the disaster scene. Only Shulkie has the strength to cause the giant Pharaoh pain and Cap is busy rescuing bystanders, so Spidey, feeling out of his class, heads back to the Baxter Building and teleports to Abdol’s Cairo headquarters. There, he defeat the guards and discovers the FF hooked into the cosmic ray device. A technician warns him that if the nuclear reactors are shut down, the result will be a holocaust that will devastate the complex and the city above….

In New York, the Living Monolith is suddenly halted by the sight of a school, reminding him of his happier days with Filene. Cap takes the opportunity to remind him that this violence is not solving anything, that he is merely killing others as his own family was slain. Just as the villain is almost convinced, the military arrives and opens fire. Convinced that Cap was merely trying to trick him, the Monolith continues his destruction as he withstands air attacks from the USAF. A damaged electric cable gives Cap an idea: he has She-Hulk press the broken end of the cable against the giant’s ankle just as Con Ed turns the power up all the way. The Living Monolith falls to the ground and does not rise….

Spider-Man then arrives with the three rescued FF members. He explains how he turned up the nuclear reactors so that they burned themselves out, saving Cairo. It is then that they discover the Living Monolith is still growing, at a rate at which he will soon cause Manhattan to sink, due to his increased ability to absorb cosmic energy directly. Cap calls in the rest of the Avengers and they try to find a way to move the giant before he gets much larger. All attempts to raise him fail…just as his army of followers attacks the assembled heroes. The fallen Pharaoh is confused that ordinary citizens are willing to sacrifice their lives to aid the heroes; Cap gives him a talk on how people are much better than the embittered villain gave them credit for. Shocked, he calls on his minions to stop and exerts his strength to aid Thor who tries to pull him into space with the power of Mjolnir. This time it works and the massive megalomaniac is sent out of Earth’s orbit as the hammer returns to the Thunder God.

Epilogue: As the emergency teams deal with the fallout of the attack, Cap worries over how he made the decision to kill the enemy if need be and Spidey has learned a lesson that there are some things he just can’t handle.

Post Epilogue: Floating in space, Ahmet Abdol is pulled into orbit around a distant star. The alien sun causes vegetation to sprout on his body, turning the Living Pharaoh into a Living Planet….


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Marc Silvestri
Geof Isherwood
Marc Silvestri (Cover Penciler)
Geof Isherwood (Cover Inker)
Bob Sharen (Cover Colorist)
Plot: .

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)
She-Hulk
She-Hulk

(Jennifer Walters)
Spider-Man
Spider-Man

(Peter Parker)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Living Pharaoh (Living Monolith), Starfox.