Saturday, December 22, 2012

Life Is A State Of Mind*

*from the quotations of Ben Rand, Being There (1979)

Things looked pretty grim for the Grim Reaper the last time we checked in on him, didn't they? I mean, you can't get much grimmer than being impaled on a stalagmite after plummeting to your death. But from his final words in that story, at least we can hopefully conclude that Eric Williams came to terms with his brother Simon's existence, as well as the unique bond that Simon shares with the Vision.

But about that "plummeting to his death" part--he did, honest. But don't try telling that to Nekra, Eric's lover and a disciple of the Black Talon. Discovering Eric's body in the cavern and retreating with it, she wasn't about to let something like death keep from her the only thing she was capable of loving:

Nekra also reanimated the corpse of the man that the Reaper had intended to take Simon's place--Brady Kent, a paid assassin for the Boston mob who apparently was assassinated himself after slipping up on a job. The Reaper's original plan (to sift through the thoughts of the Vision and Wonder Man and then transfer their essence to Kent's mind) had been abandoned; but Nekra needed manpower to take revenge against the Vision, who at this point in time was attending to Wanda while she prepared to give birth.

Neither Kent nor the Reaper were typical shuffling zombies, though, thanks to Nekra's skills which went even beyond the Black Talon's:

Of course, the Reaper was ignorant of his own reanimation at the hands of Nekra. Unfortunately, he'd also forgotten the epiphany he'd experienced regarding Wonder Man and the Vision prior to his suicide, and so still despised each of them for the same reasons. So he and his scythe, along with Kent and his proficiency with firearms, were enough for Nekra to begin her plans of revenge.

In the meantime, Wanda was going into labor at the hospital, with the Vision by her side. On their way to see her were Wonder Man (now dressed in his Christmas-like costume) and a somewhat-reformed Magneto. The story then goes back and forth, between the drama of Wanda's delivery and the fight in the street below between Nekra's group and Wonder Man and Magneto. And when Simon spots a bullet hole in the Reaper's back (from a prior altercation that night--what, stalagmites don't leave any holes?), he realizes why his brother is again walking amongst the living:

And Simon and Eric do the one thing that Nekra doesn't want, for fear of the Reaper learning the truth about his current state--they start to talk:

When Magneto succeeds in taking control of the Reaper's scythe and demonstrating to him with a jab of the tip that his body indeed contains no blood, the Reaper has another epiphany of sorts--this one concerning Nekra:

With her power to hate the only thing maintaining the Reaper's semblance of life, Nekra's loving embrace with him proves to be fatal to Eric, and he collapses. I've no idea why Kent stays up and fighting--though not for long, as Wonder Man and Magneto subdue him easily enough. Then the two go to share the Vison's and Wanda's joy, with the Grim Reaper finally on his way to a bona fide grave.

Which should finally, finally bring this saga of the Grim Reaper's mad revenge to a close, right? How much blood can Marvel expect to squeeze from this stone, anyway?

Come, now. This sneak peek from our next encounter with the Reaper should answer that easily enough:

(Okay, it's probably extremely unlikely that the police wouldn't have removed and taken into custody the Reaper's scythe attachment prior to his being carted off to the mortician.  And Simon surely wouldn't have wanted his brother laid to his final rest in his villain costume.  Let's just say the Reaper rising from the grave renders those points moot, hmm?)

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