Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Canuck who saved Strikeforce Morituri!

Superheroes die all the time.  Leave it to a Canadian to prevent superheroes who are meant to die from doing that very thing (even if it was quite accidental). ;-)

If you're not familiar with Marvel's Strikeforce Morituri series from the late 80's, you may want to look into it.  The concept was terrific.  Set in a future in which the Earth is under attack from an alien race known as The Horde, ordinary people could sign up for something called the Morituri Process which gave them super abilities with a nasty catch; They would invariably die from the procedure within a year (kind of like being the leader of Alpha Flight).

And the original writer, Peter B. Gillis, didn't mess around about this. There was no "loophole" out of it on his watch. What made the book particularly interesting was watching the characters deal with the sudden fame, the power, bureaucracy and the inevitable fate (their own and that of their teammates) of being Morituri.

Until this big dude came along.

Well, Revenge...And writer James D. Hudnall.  Hudnall's first story, in issue #21, is told from the perspective of a Paidean (the name of the World Government) soldier being interrogated about his experience as a Horde prisoner over the course of the previous year.  He was rescued by the Moritury team of the time, then coerced into "volunteering" for the program himself.  He didn't dig it.

That logo on Edwards' chest is the Hordian symbol for revenge.

Following his exposure to the Morituri process, Edwards developed the ability to turn matter into energy (in addition to the standard package of increased strength, speed, endurance, etc.).  He took to it rather quickly, as seen in the following page from #26.

There's probably no need to finish that sentence...

It seems that Edwards caught a virus while being held prisoner on the Horde ship, and that this virus was able offset the fatal Morituri effect. As a result, the characters were no longer "guaranteed" to die within a year.

Said otherwise, Hudnall pretty much took over the book and destroyed the concept that set it apart from the others starting in his very first issue.  Kind of a baffling move, really.

The series was cancelled after 31 issues, though a 5-part mini series called Electric Undertow was released shortly after.  It took place 10 years after the conclusion of the regular series and featured the members of the Morituri team that remained at the end of #31, Revenge included.

The 36-issues-in-total Strikeforce Morituri material was reprinted in its entirety over three volumes by Marvel Comics in 2012.

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