Marvel Knights 20th #6
The heroes do as heroes do and ascend the tower to reach the machine, guarded by a "golden dragon." They hack their way through Kingpin and his flunkies, setting aside their differences, only to discover an awful truth-- not only did the heroes do all of this on purpose but they did it with the best intentions.
The Golden Dragon is revealed to be The Sentry, who has rebuffed and mind-wiped these five heroes before (that's Matt, Frank, T'Challa, Elektra, and the Ghost of Karen Page) multiple times. Each time, the heroes discover a vision of a terrible future event circumvented by the erasure of superheroes (and villains) and turn away to return to their new lives. Only this time, they brought a Hulk, who proceeds to buy them enough time to reclaim their lives, flawed as they may be. Karen helps show Matt how to the use the device and the memories of the world are restored.
Marvel Knights 20th was a breathtaking tribute to the Marvel Knights imprint. Centering itself on a number of the beloved creations that came from that line, Cates manages to capture the essence of what made those stories so critically acclaimed in the first place. Each Marvel Knights series was marked in its treatment of the ethics of superheroing; this premise is not unfamiliar territory in the history of comics but I would be hard pressed to find an example from one of the Big 2 in which the premise was as concentrated as was in the pages of Punisher, Black Panther, Daredevil, Hulk, et. al.
Cates manages to take an absurd premise (a godlike machine capable of rewriting the entire world’s memories) and turn it into a beautiful commentary on comics fandom. In light of this 20th anniversary, Cates and company remind us of the fragility of comics narrative amidst the endless soft and hard reboots, premature cancellations and aborted story-lines. Its easy to read a new series starting at #1 (in most cases) and forget all of the hard work that came before that helped forge the path for the series to exist. In a sense, Reed Richard’s strange machine exists in a very real way, allowing us to forget entire pantheons, but Cates, perhaps along with the Ghost of Karen Page, manages to reset the machine and remind of us with this series.
A beautiful conclusion to a wonderful mini-series. Marvel Knights 20th is the series you didn't remember you wanted.
Marvel Knights 20th #6: If This is a Fairy Tale…
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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