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Marvels Project, The #2: Review

Nov 2009
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Marvels Project, The #2 Review by (March 15, 2011)
In Timely's early Angel appearances we see almost nothing of his private life, a fairly common approach those days. The same is true in Marvels Project after #1. His real name wasn't mentioned until MMC#6 (there spelt Halloway). He doesn't appear to have a job - MMC#17 says he *used to be* a doctor years ago. In his first appearance, in Timely's first comic Marvel Comics #1, it seems that he had been operating as Angel for a long time already. He was well known, and operated on an international scale. Despite his use of Two-Gun Kid's domino mask throughout Marvels Project, the Timely version didn't wear a mask (and was immediately recognised in MMC#6 by someone who knew him). MMH (contemporaneous with MP) fudges these issues by saying he initially wore a mask for a short while, and gave up his medical practice to be the Angel. (Everything points to him being independently wealthy.) Halloway doesn't use the Kid's guns until near the end of this series, and he doesn't use guns in the Timely originals. Marvels Project doesn't mention 2 of Angel's trademarks, casting the shadow of an angel and causing felons to feel a chill breeze (maybe he leaves the window open when he breaks into their lair?). **** The dates used in this series correspond reasonably well with the dates on the relevant Timely comics. Last issue was set in late 1939, around HT's origin in Marvel Comics #1 October 1939. This issue in early 1940 features the debuts of heroes from DMC#1 and 2, Jan and Feb 40, and ends with HT applying to the police from MMC#7 May 40. HT meeting Johnson is a bit out from MMC#2 Dec 39. And I have already mentioned the problems with Angel's career, supposedly starting well before MC#1.

The Angel presented here is a fairly normal human, just more athletic than most. The Timely version mostly fits this description, but the athleticism goes beyond Daredevil levels and possibly heads towards Captain America, e.g. leaping off not-very-tall buildings. One text story in Marvel Mystery Comics #2 puts him more in the Hulk class:- leaping to the top of a building and then to a bomber, and punching through the plane's metal skin. But this is probably an anomaly by a different writer from the usual. Last issue we also saw a hint of an unusual education. He was the son of a prison warder. His origin in MMC#20 has the precocious boy educated in the prison by private tutors rather than just devouring the prison library as claimed last time. It also says he learned much about criminals from talking to the inmates. The origin of his nickname by preventing an execution is also different in the original. Here the teenager proved the man's innocence with his legal skills. In MMC#20 he discovered the man's innocence then stooped the execution by disrupting the power. The origin also says this was a long time ago, and Halloway is much older than he looks. Marvel Mystery Handbook says he was born in the late 1870's, and messing with the power lines caused a mutation which slowed his aging (and maybe enhanced his abilities?).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvels Project, The #2 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue moves into early 1940 as the Human Torch is still on the loose and Thomas Holloway dons Two-Gun Kid's mask and a cape and costume to fight crime.

In Frankfurt in February Hans Bruder at Project Nietzsche, the German superpowers project, is continuing the study of Private John Steele, a superhuman the Germans captured at the end of WWI and kept in suspended animation. Steele was a Timely hero from 1940, appearing only once in Daring Mystery Comics #1. Marvels Project and Marvel Mystery Handbook claim the WWI soldier had superhuman strength and durability from an unknown source. (To me he appears in his one story to be just another man who succeeded against great odds because he was on the side of right.) I would have thought Steele's body would have had some input into Abraham Erskine's super-soldier process, but this issue claims it didn't.

Erskine is off to report progress to Himmler near the border with Luxembourg. Lt Sawyer and the Sky Devils (behind the scenes) drop Nick Fury and Red Hargrove across the border in Germany to intercept Erskine's transportation and extract him, as he requested last issue. This is the only thing in this issue related to the US government's project to direct the development of superbeings. The Sky Devils replaced Steele in DMC#2 (and continued in #4,5). They were an American, a Frenchman and an Englishman flying for the British before the US joined the war. (And in this issue of MP, before France has been conquered.)

Halloway stops a carful of crooks fleeing from the police. When the press photographer/reporter corners him he says to call him the Angel. This was a name the inmates of the prison his father was warden of gave him as a youth, after he saved an innocent man from execution.

Other mystery men crop up in the succeeding weeks, including Fiery Mask, Phantom Bullet, Mister E and Monako the mystic detective. These were also short-lived in DMC. Phantom Bullet and Mister E's only outings were in #2. Monako appeared in #1,4,5,6. Fiery Mask was in #1,5,6 plus Human Torch #2. None of these characters' cameos are taken specifically from any Timely issues. At least Fiery Mask and Mister E were resurrected in the Twelve limited series. This issue explains why Phantom Bullet didn't last long. Angel sees him discovered dead by the police. Halloway attends the funeral of the Bullet's secret identity Allan Lewis, who turns out to be the reporter who interviewed him earlier. Angel vows to avenge him.

Human Torch is hiding in a barn practising control of his flame when he stops some mobsters from executing an undercover cop. Later Torch offers to join the police force, posing as a normal human. HT did join the police in MMC#7 under his alias Jim Hammond. He was helped in this by his undercover cop friend Pete Johnson. Possibly this is the man HT saves in this issue, although their meeting is very different from the original in MMC#2.

Nazi Major Kerfoot is in New York as Prof Hamilton lying in wait for Erskine. He kills a cleaning woman when she uncovers his secret. Kerfoot is only previously referred to in Captain America #155. I can't find his alias Hamilton anywhere in Marvel.

Steve Epting
Steve Epting
Dave Stewart
Steve Epting (Cover Penciler)
Steve Epting (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

Plus: Angel (Tom Halloway), John Steele, Nazis.

> Marvels Project, The: Book info and issue index

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