Wednesday, May 27, 2009

1984 - Jack of Hearts

Jack Of Hearts miniseries - #1-4
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: George Freeman



First appearing in Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #22 and then sporatically through the Marvel Universe, this second string character was given a four issue miniseries. In this miniseries, he learns that his new powers are growing uncontrollable and slowly killing him. S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters for Investigation and Law Enforcement Division) places Jack under house arrest in an attempt to study him and prevent his death which may result in a cataclysmic explosion. Marcy Kane, a former lover, is called into to study him since she’s an expert in biophysics.

Mantlo uses good methods to avoid the expository clump of Jack’s origin, by exploring it through Marcy’s perspective as she reads through her notes. Jack learns from Marcy Kane that his mother was actually an alien from the same race as the alien attackers. His mother was an advance scout looking for a world that her people could flee to from their dying sun. Marcy also reveals that she herself is a Contraxian. After another destructive battle, Jack decides to accompany Marcy to her homeworld.

A power struggle erupts on their homeworld of Contraxia where a survivalist faction plans to use Jack of Hearts as a mean of reigniting their dying sun, and not to mention securing a new position of power. Jack is framed and condemned by the Contraxia people who are all manipulated by this survivalist faction. Jack is put aboard a space ship that is targeted at the sun.

There’s a change of conscience in the ranks of the villains which gives Jack an opportunity to escape, but he chooses instead to fulfill the mission and succeeds in bringing the star back to life. His powers, however, have been dramatically increased in scale and leaves Marcy and Contraxia behind to explore his destiny elsewhere in space.



George Freeman’s art style works well depicting Jack of Hearts’ powers and the alien world of Contraxia. Mantlo provides strong characterization through change. A lot of nice plot twists and turns that really help pace the story and bring it to life.

"Bill Mantlo's story limps under fluctuating character motives but George Freeman's all-to-infrequently-seen artwork just manages to save the series."
- The Slings and Arrows Comic Guide

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