|MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE No. 43, September 1978|
In many ways “The Day The World Winds Down” is a fairly typical example of storytelling “in the mighty Marvel manner” of the Late Seventies. For not only does this seventeen-page periodical start with a lengthy montage as to the origin of the issue’s super-villain, Victorius, “a humble researcher toiling to recreate the Super-soldier serum that made… Captain America”. But its narrative then predominantly consists of little more than the title’s main protagonists battling it out with their opponents, before the adventure is actually resolved more through the use of the heroes’ brains than brawn.
Indeed in something of a role reversal it is actually Captain America who somewhat bizarrely reverts to simply duking it out with the “reborn” Victor Conrad. Whilst it’s left to Ben Grimm, now ‘just’ a normal being once again, that gets to reason with Jude, the Entropic Man and convince him that the arguably benign monster’s “coming was ill-timed” as Mankind doesn’t want to give up its existence yet; “I know life ain’t a picnic -- But it’s still the best game in town!”
Despite following this well-tested formula for ‘success’ however, Ralph Macchio’s writing is disappointingly still even more contrived than usual for a “Marvel Comics” publication of this era and it genuinely feels that the New Yorker’s storyline was purely manufactured simply to have Steve Rogers engage in a fist-fight with a second-rate replica of himself. Why else, having seized control of the Cosmic Cube and already used its formidable power to “reform the remains of Yagzan” back from the dead, would Victorius then leave the device unattended, disrobe down to his ‘combat costume’ and tackle the Golden Age legend single-handedly?
Captain America also behaves entirely out of character throughout this issue, first clumsily silencing the Thing because he supposedly wants to hear the former AIM scientist’s backstory, and then later setting aside his shield due to “the First Avenger” apparently believing that “It’s time for a little lesson in unarmed combat techniques” to be given to one who wields the Cosmic Cube. Even the inclusion of the Man-Thing would appear to have been an afterthought, with the “empathic, humanoid creature” simply doing nothing within the adventure than shamble up to where Conrad left AIM’s miraculous invention and touch it. Hardly action enough to warrant top billing upon the cover of “Marvel Two-In-One”…
Fortunately such weaknesses to this tale of “Death in the Everglades” are easily forgotten courtesy of some early artwork by the Eagle Award-winning John Byrne. The British-born American illustrator’s pencilling of “Wing-Head” whilst he punches and kicks Victorius throughout the swamp is as dynamically drawn as any bibliophile could want. Though dishearteningly it would appear that printing deadlines got the better of the Englishman as some of the panels suggest a ‘friendly’ hand helped out on the final finished product.
|Writer: Ralph Macchio, Artists: John Byrne and Friends, and Colorist: Phil Rachelson|