Here's the way I remember it. The first time I encountered the work of Arthur Adams was the illustration of Snap dragon he did for the cover of Marvel Fanfare #13, but he really came to my attention in the letters page of #15, in which a fan wrote to complain about how Adams signed his name to that cover ("Adams"), which he refered to as a “low-down, cheap way of trying to see Marvel Fanfare.” He goes on to say, “Even if his last name is Adams, he should also sign his first name to avoid confusion for this cover was obviously not done by the great Neal Adams." Editor Al Milgrom pointed out the logical fallacy inherent in the fan's complaint: “If the cover was ‘obviously not done by the great Neal Adams’ where does the confusion lie?”
The very next time I remember encountering Adams' work was the Longshot mini-series, shortly thereafter. Other than that Fanfare cover, the artist was unknown to me, as was the writer, Ann Nocenti, so I gave it a pass. Then Adams was assigned to draw New Mutants Special Edition #1 and X-Men Annual #9 and I became a fan of his work. Then he was assigned to draw X-Men Annual #10 in which Longshot joined the ranks of Marvel's merry mutants. In 1989, the Longshot limited series was collected in tpb (not nearly as common a thing as it is today), so I figured I'd better buy it.
I bought the tpb in 1989... and then sat on it for 32 years without reading it! In 2021 the entire limited series was included in Marvel Masterworks X-Men v13 so I then had it duplicated! I quickly culled the tpb from my shelf, but I still haven't read the original limited series. That situation is about to change.
ISSUE #1: The story begins in medias res as the main character is being pursued on foot by a group of beast men. Some sort of portal appears and he ducks into it, emerging in New York City, where he, an amnesiac, immediately runs afoul of the police. Now he is being chased by the police as well as the beast men. He soon meets a survivalist named Eliot and a woman named Hester who dog has been killed and her baby kidnapped. His powers seem to be luck-based, but only work when his motives are pure. Eliot dubs him "Longshot." He also meets a furry little beast named Magog, who is the son of the leader of the beast men, Gog. Magog befriends Longshot but is not to be trusted. Allied with Magog is Spiral, a six-armed woman with some sort of reality-warping powers. Longshot rescues Hester's baby, but then leaves them and Eliot behind and goes off with Magog.
ISSUE #2: Longshot blunders upon an outdoor movie shoot where he meets stuntwoman Ricochet Rita and the director, Hitch. Hitch strives for realism by insisting that all the stunts are real with no safety devices. He ends up hiring Longshot as the stunt double for the male lead. During a jetpack scene, he flashes back to apparently being a movie stunt double in his own dimension (or wherever it is he comes from). He has patchy memories of being a movie star, a warrior and a slave. That night, Rita kisses him and runs in fear (assuming he's an alien) when she discovers his skin is like leather. Meanwhile, Magog, whom Longshot calls "Pup", is transforming into a much more fearsome creature. The beast men attack, but Pup drives them off.
The next day Longshot is injured on the set, perhaps mortally, presumably because his motive (earning money) isn't pure. Hitch, afraid of being sued, insists on driving Longshot to the hospital by himself. On the way he dumps Longshot's body in the river to drown.
ISSUE #3: This issue begins with with a father of four who has had a bad day. (He particularly dislikes brushing his teeth for some reason.) He pulls out a gun, shoots his TV set and heads to a nearby bridge to commit suicide. He jumps off, lands on Longshot and pulls him to shore. While Longshot recovers, the man tries to hang himself. Longshot throws a knife and cuts the rope, but the man goes around the rest of the story with a noose around his neck. I think he's supposed to be a comic/tragic figure, but nothing about his is very funny and whatever "humor" may be intended falls flat.
They go off to steal some industrial diamonds from Con Ed (Longshot's motives are "pure" because he thinks he's helping "the little guy") but end up causing a blackout instead. The man has second thoughts about keeping the stolen diamonds and suggests that Longshot give them to the people of Manhattan who were affected by the blackout. The beast men are also there after the diamonds, which Spiral can use to open a gate to get them home. they all make it back except for Pup, who has by this time grow quite huge. During the course of the story, the man's teeth are knocked out, which makes him happy because he won't have to brush them anymore.
Back in the other dimension, two big, fat blobby creatures have some sort of parasitic relationship with their slaves.
Not only does this issue's "humor" fall flat, but the plot itself is not without holes.
ISSUE #4: Longshot is having trouble returning the diamonds (i.e., giving them away) because no one thinks they're real, except a group of kids loosely on Hal Roach's "Little Rascals" (one looks like Alfalfa Switzer and is named Alfi, one is Darla and another Butch), who promptly trade the diamonds for a handgun. Spider-Man and She-Hulk both see Longshot on the news (surveillance footage from the Con Ed break-in) and both encounter him for some gratuitous action scenes.
Mojo, the leader of the spineless race shown last issue is introduced, as well as his majordomo, Major Domo. Spiral "dances" Mojo and herself into our dimension in pursuit of Longshot.
Longshot's eye glows when he "focuses his spirit through purification of the motive" (whatever that means) and "the luck will follow."
Ricochet Rita is reintroduced. She has a Doberman Pinscher named Saxaphone and a bird named Wifferdill, but still no last name. Mojo and Spiral appear in her apartment in hope of forcing her to lead them to Longshot. Mojo's people previously knew nothing of Earth, an entire planet populated by people who look just like their genetically manipulated slave race.
Longshot finds the kids with their illegal handgun. Touching it elicits mental images of the crimes it has been used to commit, plus it frees up his memories of being a slave and having his mind wiped. They soon encounter Pup, who draws magic to him like a magnet the longer he stays on Earth, now fully "bloated with power." They prepare to fight.
ISSUE #5: the fight gets under way when suddenly it is interrupted by a rams-headed demon named Quark purporting to be Longshot's friend. An underlying theme of Longshot's character arc up to this point is that he leaves messes for others to clean up. True to character, he walks off, leaving the outmatched Quark to battle Pup by himself. Meanwhile, Mojo and Spiral are trying to get information out of Rita. In Greenwich Village, all of this mystical energy comes to the attention of Dr. Strange.
While all this is going on, Longshot taps some of his hidden memories. At some point in the past, he found his way to Arize, the genetic engineer who created the slave race. He built within certain of his creations certain powers and the ability to rebel. Once he remembers this, he runs to Rita's house (which takes him the rest of the day). He gets there to find Rita gone and Dr. Strange investigating. Returning to the scene of Quark's battle with Pup, Longshot now fights and defeats Pup. Then Quark arrives. Longshot, Quark and Dr. Strange gird themselves for final battle against Mojo.
Next: The double-size conclusion.
ISSUE #6: Mojo and Spiral set about turning a church into a place to worship Mojo. Meanwhile, Longshot finds "Ride-Rocket Wild Ricochet Rita" (who has gained a couple of nicknames but still no surname). She is is pretty bad shape due to her ordeal in #5; he finds her engaged in a constant, silent scream. Dr. Strange takes her to his Sanctum Sanctorum to see if her mind can be saved, while Longshot and Quark follow the path of decay leading to Mojo's church. Last issue we learned that Longshot has a lover and children he doesn't remember; this issue hints of a previous relationship with Spiral.
Back in Greenwich Village, Dr. Strange and Wong manage to restore Rita's mind.
As Longshot and Quark prepare for a final assault, Longshot flashes back to his origins again. This whole mini-series is an obvious allegory of the nature of Man vs. Beast and Man's capacity for freewill. I probably would have liked that angle more when I was in my 20s than I do today, pushing 60, simply because it is so obvious. Mojo is forced into a dimensional portal where he would be lost, except Spiral follows him. Dr. Strange shows up with a fully-recovered Rita just in time for her to join Longshot and Quark as they return to their home dimension to free it from Mojo and his race.
When Longshot next appears, he will be folded into the X-Men, where he's a square peg in a round hole at best. In the late '80s, Claremont had a thing about characters who didn't quite fit the mutant mold but used them anyway (Warlock in New Mutants would be another example). I was still reading X-Men at the time (albeit for not much longer), and I didn't feel Claremont did an adequate job of introducing Longshot to someone (i.e., me) who hadn't read the limited series. I do think if I had read it first I would have appreciated X-Men Annual #10 more than I did, but not by much.
So, was this story worth the 37 year wait? Not really, no. As I mentioned, I probably would have liked it more had I read it in 1985. So why read it now? Well, this week Ann Nocenti is going to return to Longshot in a story I've heard is to be set between the limited series and X-Men Annual #10 and I was considering buying it.
With one more day before the release of the continuity implant, I thought I'd take time to read...
X-MEN ANNUAL #10:
This story closely follows the events of New Mutants Annual #2, which featured Mojo and Spiral but not Longshot. X-Men Annual #10 does a better job of introducing new readers to Mojoworld et al than New Mutants Annual #2, but not by much. New Mutants Annual #2 gave Betsy Braddock bionic eyes (a gift from Mojo), and X-Men Annual #10 reveals Mojo is using them to spy on the X-Men and secretly record his "movies." Longshot is reintroduced, again as an amnesiac, with no mention of Ricochet Rita or Quark. I'm not going to spend a lot of time rehashing the plot because that's not what this discussion is about. Longshot ultimately plays only a small part in the story. It ends with Mojo "leaving" Longshot with the X-Men in order to "infuriate Spiral" and to "teach her a lesson." If tomorrow's retcon (actual "retroactive continuity") takes place between Longshot #6 and X-Men Annual #10, it had better explain why Kitty and Wolverine don't remember Longshot when they "encounter him for the first time."
Okay, just read pages 1-3 of X-Men #205 and pages 12 & 22 (plus a few panels of pages 15 & 19) of #209, all featuring Spiral. She also showed up as a member of Freedom Force in #206. Longshot #6 was cover-dated FEB '86 and X-Men #205 MAY '86, so I don't think I'm missing anything between those two appearances. She's running "The Body Shop" (later "Shoppe") in #205, but I have no idea how or why she came to leave Mojo, or run the Body Shop(pe) or join Freedom Force. At least X-Men Annual #10 was drawn by Arthur Adams. Ann Nocenti was the editor of this run of X-Men, so I assume the decisions behind the direction the characters she created were hers.
NOTE: Longshot has two hearts and three fingers on each hand.
"Longshot #6 was cover-dated FEB '86 and X-Men #205 MAY '86, so I don't think I'm missing anything between those two appearances."
Spiral also appeared in X-Men #199, concurrently with Longshot #3. I've also been reading about the character online. Ugh. Let me just say, if I didn't read it it didn't happen.
At the time of Assistant Editors' Month Ann Nocenti was the assistant editor on Incredible Hulk. The gimmick in the event's issue - #291 - was a framing sequence where Bruce Banner/the Hulk turns up at the Marvel offices and interacts with Nocenti. Supermegamonkey notes there's a note on the wall in her office that says "Long Shot", indicting the character was already in the works. Ricochet Rita as drawn by Arthur Adams looks like Nocenti as depicted by Sal Buscema and Gerry Talaoc in that Incredible Hulk issue.
I read Longshot #6 when it came out, and liked it. Mojo was amusing, I was interested in the characters, I liked its imaginativeness, Adams's art was an instant hit with me. When I read #1, more recently but something over ten years ago, I found it a wordy chore to get through.
I've never had a clue how Spiral could have ended up with Freedom Force. I liked Uncanny X-Men #199, though.
There's a bit in Uncanny X-Men #224 where Havok and Longshot have been to see a movie called Raiders of the Lost Temple. Longshot says "There was a stuntman in the movie with the same name as me! And a girl who has the neatest name ever: ...Ricochet Rita!" I don't know if this connected to something elsewhere.
I remember that issue of Incredible Hulk very well, and I see the resemblance between Ann Nocenti and Ricochet Rita nor that you point it out.
X-MEN LEGENDS #3: I had high hopes for this story because it was written by the character's original writer and because it takes place immediately after his debut series. Most of the development I read about online yesterday was grafted on by other writers, so I had hoped X-Men Legends #3-4 would present a truer vision of Nocenti's original intent. I don't think that's the case, though. For one thing, the story is chock full of anachronisms (five by my count) such as "Mojo emojis." The appearance of Wolverine and Kitty Pryde has yet to be accounted for. I liked Javier Pia's art, but if I were editor I would have hired an artist whose style is closer to Arthur Adams' (Todd Nauck, maybe). According to the credits, Adams did a variant cover, but I didn't see it; I probably would have bought that one if I had.
Having just read the original Longshot limited series (for the first time) on Monday, the story is still pretty fresh in my mind. Issue #6 ended with Ricochet Rita and Quark joining Longshot in his battle against Mojo, but those characters aren't even mentioned here. I am about as disappointed as I can be be in the continuation of a story I was wholly unfamiliar with a week ago.
X-MEN LEGENDS #4: Disappointing, but "in for a penny..." Longshot is a character I managed to ignore for 35 years but, placing this story immediately after the limited series which introduced him and having the story told by the original writer (not that one) gave rise to certain expectations. The cover blurb says, "Light! Camera! Tragedy!" and, knowing what I know now about Ricochet Rita and Spiral and the direction her/their character development took fully led me to expect a textbook definition of tragedy. Wolverine and Kitty served no real purpose, and Kitty in particular was written more like today's version than the version from 35 years ago.
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