Warrior #4 cover, art by Steve Dillon

Warrior #4 - "The Yesterday Gambit"
Quality Communications

Story: Alan Moore
Art: Steve Dillon (p. 1-2 & 9-10), Paul Neary (p. 3-5), Alan Davis (p. 6-8).

Having started as it meant to go on, falling massively behind schedule after just three issues, 'Marvelman' needed a fill-in issue. The rest of Warrior wasn't doing much better, and so #4 was promoted as a Summer Special to relaunch the book (it was rather typical that the cover boasted "9 Super-Action Warriors" and managed just eight, even counting the Warpsmith guest appearance in 'Marvelman'. Big Ben , featured on the cover, was among the absentees). So, with Garry Leach still drawing Chapter 4 of 'A Dream of Flying', Alan Moore wrote a one-off glimpse into the future of Marvelman.

And what a glimpse... The action actually takes place during the rough events of Miracleman #15, not due out for six years, as the Warpsmith (later revealed as Aza Chorn, though he's only referred to as Warpsmith throughout - the Warpsmith strip wouldn't appear until Warrior #9) and Marvelman travel to the latter's underground fortress, Silence, to gather energy in the battle against Kid Marvelman. Just this solid confirmation of Moore's planning is breathtaking, as is the amount he gives away - the previous instalment of Marvelman had only just revealed that Bates was a villain, let alone anything else.

Of course, this is probably part of why the story was never reprinted by Eclipse... Not only does "The Yesterday Gambit" give a lot away, little details clash. It's difficult to mesh the last couple of pages, where KM catches up with the duo, directly with anything that happened in "Nemesis", while the use of codenames for Chorn and Huey Moon (presumably who 'Firedrake' refers to) feels odd - the whole tone of the thing is different, due to Moore's evolution as a writer. And yet the odd thing was the way Moore seemed to try and fit this in later on... Miracleman vaguely remembers meeting Chorn in Miracleman #12, while a couple of key points used in "The Yesterday Gambit" emerge in 'Olympus' (the construction of Silence, the discovery of [a] Firedrake) despite having no real purpose in the later story (there's a more continuity-conscious reference in Miracleman #15, when "The Yesterday Gambit" is shown as one of the possibly mythical quests for power tried by Chorn and Miracleman).

My best guess would be that this had to do with Dez Skinn's stillborn Challenger Force project. The rough plan when Warrior started was that many of the stories shared a universe, and characters would be used in a super-team (Challenger Force) in the comic - including Marvelman, Warpsmith, Big Ben and Speedmaster (created by Skinn to promote Hornby's Scalextric toy line in 1981 - read his very odd one-off appearance here ). I'd guess Firedrake was another character intended for this team, and it was meant to be Challenger Force, rather than the pantheon gathered by Miracleman, who faced KM in London during Moore's initial plans. Shame copyright problems interfered, really, as Speedmaster or Big Ben versus Kid Miracleman would have been hilarious.

The story itself is interesting, if a little by the numbers, as the future Marvelman travels back and meets himself first before the Marvelman Family's fateful encounter with the Dragonslayer satellite, and secondly just after his own revival in "A Dream of Flying". This are alright in a superhuman fight sort of way, though the framing pages in Silence is much more interesting, albeit largely for curiosity purposes. The art is a little more variable. I've never been a big fan of Steve Dillon, and his work here just seems wooden, especially when compared with John Totleben's fluid, detailed, nightmarish later interpretation of the fight. Paul stuff is just horrid, all distorted and angular, and not in a good way. Alan Davis of course provides more solid fare, though it's still got a little way to go, being more akin to the slightly frazzled earlier Captain Britain material.

In summary, there's really not a lot going for "The Yesterday Gambit" than trivial value. It's a little too dull (and weird) to stand as a story on its' own merit, and doesn't gel enough to fit in with the narrative of Miracleman. One for curious fans only.