Shadow Riders is a four issue comic series published by Marvel in 1993 about a group of bikers that use “hi-tech wizardry” to fight an evil corporation. Emblazoned on the cover is a boast that it’s a “Fantastic 1st issue!” Let’s see how that pans out.
Issue #1: The Screaming Man
Our story starts at the London Docklands on the roof of the Museum of Pagan Antiquities, the cover for some evil (?) organization, MyS-Tech. Cable is out and about checking some high energy readings, when he’s suddenly attacked by a guy on a hover bike (Arnold). They have a quick fight in which Cable wins. As Cable prepares a time portal exit, he asks Arnold about MyS-Tech. “…it’s none of your fraggin’ beeswax!” replies Arnold, pushing Cable into the portal.
We move to a badly drawn couple in a city street…and there’s some slug person with them? A guy on a bike appears, but it’s not Arnold; this guy’s name is Vorin, and he has red eyes and looks angry . Nearby, a weird cyborg guy fights a guy in a nice jacket in broad daylight, causing lots of bystanders to run away, screaming.
The Hulk shows up (!) and starts fighting the cyborg. Vorin tells Rick Jones, the jacket guy, that he should be dead. It seems Vorin’s traveling around recruiting people who have been near death to his cause, whatever that may be.
Here, There, Everywhere
Cable returns to his secret base through his time portal. Arnold follows him through, fights him a little, then escapes through another portal. In a MyS-Tech Central laboratory, a screaming man is hooked up to wires and stuff – the high energy readings Cable got earlier were from this guy.
Meanwhile, in the MyS-Tech Guard rooms, Arnold and some other guys with weapons walk around; Cable (who is here as well) fights a guy with a flamethrower, and someone says “frak.” There’s lots of shooting and fighting, and Vorin shows up to find his next recruit, his new Shadow Rider, in the form of Arnold.
The Shadow Riders’ Base
Vorin takes Arnold to his secret base in northwest England. Here, again we see the badly drawn couple and slug person from earlier. They’re all terribly dressed, except for the slug person. He’s naked.
We learn that Vorin is an immortal and has had Shadow Riders across the centuries (what did they do before motorbikes? Horses?). Vorin places his hands on Arnold and zaps him, giving him “supra-dense skin, expanded musculature and frame” and some “limited psi-powers.”
With Arnold now an official member of the team, the Shadow Riders all gather, prepared to strike MyS-Tech Central. A caption box at the bottom tells us what to look forward to in the next episode. Great, so now the issue’s done? Wait, there’s more?
We return to MyS-Tech Central, just six months ago, where some guys talk about uninteresting stuff. Then we move to Egypt, three days earlier, where a wormhole was found. There’s lots of people here, and lots of fighting, and Vorin is here, and then some robots show up, there’s lots of shooting, then Cable shows up and he’s angry, and there’s more shooting, then some guy dies, and Vorin makes him a Shadow Rider.
“What the frag happened here?!” Cable asks in the last panel. Hell if I know.
This comic exemplifies everything I hate about ’90s comics and the reasons I was turned away from comics in the 90s in the first place: bad art, confusing layouts, and incomprehensible stories. Everything is just EXTREME ’90s, here. Gratuitous violence, too many shoulder pads, and angry, scowling faces. So many people look the same and I had no idea who was who. I kept wondering if maybe I was missing a few pages of the comic. For a first issue, this was a terrible introduction; it’s so bad you can’t even make fun of it.