At any rate, Shadowhawk? Not gay! Mob guys did it!!
1963 was all at once a loving pastiche of silver-age Marvel and an ongoing narrative starting with 1963:Mystery Incorporated through the final issue, 1963:The Tomorrow Syndicate. That issue followed the Tomorrow Syndicate (who bore a striking resemblance to the Avengers) on a trans-dimensional journey through Alternity in search of the missing Mystery Incorporated (think Fantastic Four). They sail through an infinite maze of possible realities, including glimpses of pretty much every significant independent comic of the era with glimpses of Cerebus, Mister Monster, the Flaming Carrot, etc... At the end, The Syndicate reach a darker, grimmer Earth than their own, one where the air is thicker, the light more harsh. One that feels fundamentally wrong to them. Then Youngblood's Shaft is revealed to be the mysterious kidnapper that they were pursuing. They've crossed over to the Image universe:
If you were unsure whether or not a two-fisted superhero comic packed with alternate timelines, magic computer voices, time travel, outlandish super-freaks, and teleportation was the best place to have a thoughtful examination of one of the most tragic and devastating illnesses of our time, you’re about to be convinced fo shizzle.
The fight ends when Shadowhawk keels over and must pause to take his medicine:
So Fury calls in the Tomorrow Syndicate to see if Thor stand-in Horus can help:
Haven’t we all wanted to travel through time and space with our magic computer chum and punch history in the face with our clawed talons? Oh yes we have. Now at this point, you might think that the best course would be to capture and restrain the AIDS infected guy, right? I mean, if you stopped him, you might still be able to quarantine him and stop the disease, right? Sorry, baby, that’s not Shadowhawk’s style. To re-iterate: totally flipping the fuck out Is Shadowhawk's style:
Turn aroundTurn aroundTurn around, you stupid bastards!!! Turn around right now and you can still stop…
SIGH. Never mind. The heroes of two eras eschew pursuit to deal with more important matters. There’s still a whole entire dead horse to be beaten, after all:
Huh. AIDS must not be that bad. I’ve seen WAY scarier monsters in comics.
So in the end, Shadowhawk takes his leave, and everyone is sad because they couldn’t do more.
Keep in mind, AIDS was a huge big deal at the time. It was in all the papers, and a real hot topic. Not that its been cured since, or anything; we’ve just been distracted by other craziness since. This is America, after all, where we don’t ever solve our problems, we just forget about them until its time for them to be the crisis du jour again.
This story would have been perfectly acceptable had it been about Shadowhawk’s quest for the MacGuffin serum, the cause of his fatal case of Virus X. Framing it as the Secret Origin of AIDS, however, made this one of the worst of the many terrible comics I own. If there had been an internet back then, I’m pretty sure it would have imploded when this issue was released, but as it is, I don’t recall any controversy over this at all.
Anyway, they're not the same time line. Well, I don’t think Mr. Valentino got the memo, because Shadowhawk #14 acts as if this was truly the origin of the AIDS outbreak in Shadowhawk’s (ie: "the real") world, but Comrade Cockroach only introduced AIDS to his (1963 Universe) timeline, and not to the Image Universe proper, rendering the whole stupid story a moot point!
Ecch. Now my head hurts. Bad Comic!
1963 is copyright Alan Moore, Rick Veitch and Stephen R. Bissette.
The Hypernaut, The Fury and N-Man are copyright and trademark Stephen R. Bissette.