This book features, Marvel Z-lister, the Jack of Hearts taking on on the Hulk in a spectacular battle. I really liked this story as a kid because it was a normal-sized guy taking on a wrecking machine like the Hulk.
In the eyes of Stephen Lang, the Phalanx is his last ditch effort for humans to defend themselves from mutantkind. All while selling it’s soul and threatening mankind itself. He sees humanity as so threatened by mutants he seeks to link up each of them to overpower them once and for all. The only sacrifice would be our individuality, making man slave to the new techno-overlord. The totalitarian overtones are pretty apparent and you could see the idea of giving up freedom for protection is common theme today, maybe more than in 1994.
This is 80s X-Men at their best. There’s relationship drama, Cyclops has ditched his wife for his his first love, Jean. His brother takes the scorned wife’s side and falls for her. But then you get the out-of-this world twist that she’s trying to sacrifice their son to a demon just to get back at Cyclops. All the wild sci-fi soap opera that Claremont-era X-Men stories were known for are here.
This was an interesting glimpse into how comics handled the cold war. The Soviet Super Soldiers were not portrayed as bad guys but as heroes (except Dynamo, who’s just a jerk) doing what they think as best for the state. This is probably reflective of the time books featuring communists in the 50s and 60s would be much more judgmental of ‘commies” than we would be in the 80s as the cold war was starting to wind down.
This book takes place in the early days of Spider-Man’s career, but unlike Ultimate Spider-Man, this took place in the 616-universe, the main Marvel Universe. There are references to the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko books but I don’t remember feeling like I had to find 35-year-old comics to follow them.