Marvel Comics (May, 1999)
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Mark Bagley (also cover)
INKER: Scott Hana (also cover)
WRITER: Joe Casey
ARTIST: Leonardo Manco
COLORIST: Joe Rosas
LETTERING: Saida Temofonte
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
As the Thunderbolts take over the Masters’ now unnecessary headquarters and DAs around the country struggle to find space for 25 supervillains, the story shifts to what MACH-1 is doing during his own prison stay. He’s in Seagate Prison, where some other supervillains are currently incarcerated and he’s just trying to make it through his sentence, having received a lighter sentence in exchange for turning himself in. But Justin Hammer wants to help a few criminals escape and Abe’s one of them. They plan is use the imprisoned Rhino to open an escape, but he decides to just trash the place To what I’m sure is their surprise, Abe instead helps end the escape attempt and riot. This gets the attentions of a few government people who also still think he’s a villain and have plans of their own for him.
What they got right: Abe is probably the most on board with becoming a hero now (except for maybe Jolt) and this story explores that impulse. While Moonstone last issue struggled with the idea of whether or not to join the Masters there isn’t any real hesitation on Abe’s part to do the right thing and be a hero. There’s also a part where he tries to figure out if his dreams of being a hero is them looking up at him or him looking down on them, and later decides it’s the former.
What they got wrong: I’m not a fan of the art. It’s a personal more than critical opinion but there’s a little too much shadow detail for my liking. I know what they were going for was to make it feel like a prison or showcase how down MACH-1 is feeling right now, but I think they overdid it. Also, Abe has a ponytail long enough to reach his butt and two earrings, and I’m not sure either would be allowed or at least a good idea in prison.
Recommendation: For a guest writer (I don’t know if this was a fill-in or if he pitched a story that Busiek was willing to move aside for with this issue) we got a pretty good story that matches up with continuity. It’s worth a read.