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Dark Reign Kills Super!

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LOLtron
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Dark Reign Kills Super!

Postby LOLtron » Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:47 pm

ImageAnd so does War of Kings. They all have sharp and pointy knives!

Today, we check out Dark Avengers #1, The Mighty Avengers #21, Thunderbolts #128, War Machine #2, Uncanny X-Men Annual #2, Guardians of the Galaxy #9, X-Men: Kingbreaker #2, and then blast to the past for Fantastic Four #5. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!
Image

This was one BIG WEEK of comics so we'll get going as quickly as possible. Suffice to say, the bad guys dress up as good guys again, everyone tries to convince Hank Pym to do something, Obama sells some comics, War Machine loses his legs, Emma plays with Namor, Peter Quill runs around naked, and Vulcan does his best Caligula.

As always, you can easily check up on past articles of Super Reads. If you're reading this on Bludnet, you'll see a link titled "Super Reads SI" on your left where you can check out what happened in every issue dealing with Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and War of Kings (because I obviously have an addiction). Our syndicated articles might not be so lucky. For you, click here to catch up or remember back on all 35 previous articles. Just you wait! I'll probably add more.

OK, the beat's set. Let's keep it in time, people!

ImageDark Avengers #1
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mike Deodato Jr.

What is up with Ms. Marvel's leg in that picture? Is her skeletal structure deformed or something? Who is she, anyway?

This is your chance to find out if you couldn't be bothered to pay the 4 bucks to pick up this issue at the comics shop and have somehow avoided all other internet spoilers. But first...

Morgana Le Fay is kind of ticked off. She gave Dr. Doom the secret of summoning the Mindless Ones for an as yet unnamed reward (back in The Mighty Avengers #11) and Dr. Doom skipped out on repaying her. Now, we know that Doom spent the time after that incarcerated on the Raft after Iron Man and the Mighty Avengers police actioned the hell out of Latveria but Morgana doesn't know that. Actually, that's a terrible excuse. Doom may have been incarcerated but we're dealing with time travel here. He could just as easily have gone back to her once he was free... or does Morgana's decision prevent that? Agh... time travel. You make things so complicated. To complicate things even further, Morgana and Victor were sleeping together. So it's like he took all her pretty things and skipped town if by "pretty things" we mean "Morgana's secret magicks" and by "skipped town" we mean "time traveled outta there."

Well, regardless, Morgana Le Fay goes about locating Doom to find out why he never returned to pay his debt and finds him hanging out with the Dark Illuminati in the scene that every Marvel artist has to draw in their book: the "here's the deal" shot at the end of Secret Invasion where Norman meets his cohorts for the first time. She probably doesn't listen to the conversation to learn that he's been imprisoned and she sure doesn't press rewind on her magic cauldron to see Doom sitting in a cell in the Raft sans faceplate. All she sees is Victor living the high life with his new friends. There's probably going to be a reckoning.

Today, we're being introduced to the new Avengers team (not to be confused with the New Avengers team...). We've got Marvel Boy, the Sentry, Dark Ms. Marvel, Iron Patriot, Ares, Dark Wolverine, Dark Hawkeye, and Dark Spider-Man. But who are these Dark Avengers? Let's go back a week and find out.

One week ago, Norman Osborn was staring at that same Golden Helicarrier that Tony Stark was building in The Mighty Avengers #1. You'll remember that it crashed in Hulk #2. I think most of us made it to at LEAST Hulk #2 but it appears Brian Bendis didn't ;). If you're wondering why Tony Stark's Gold Helicarrier isn't all smashed up, well, Tony obviously rebuilt it just like he's rebuilt his armor time and time again. This is the meeting grounds for Osborn and Ms. Victoria Hand. Ms. Hand has shown up in books like Invincible Iron Man and Mighty Avengers as the internet (including me) has widely speculated who she is. My guess was Elektra because of the name. At this point, it looks like she's a Business Affairs Operative who was highly critical of how Tony Stark and Nick Fury ran SHIELD. That means she's just what Osborn is looking for in a Deputy Director.

We also learn that even Norman Osborn doesn't know what HAMMER stands for yet. He just liked the sound of the name. Ms. Hand is to get right to work on figuring out what HAMMER can actually stand for (I'm going with Humans Are Making Mighty Errors, Really-- we'll see if they go for it!) as well as compiling various lists of various importance. Osborn mentions that Starktech (including that beautiful golden Helicarrier he's been gazing at) is to be scrapped. His tech will replace it because he was a great weapons designer (everyone on Goblin Gliders!). Camp Hammond is also mentioned but we'll leave that thread dangling for whatever happens in Avengers: The Initiative.

Now we just need to find out what happens to the old Deputy Director, Maria Hill. Anyone reading Invincible Iron Man will know where this is going but this is her face to face meeting at Thunderbolts Mountain with Norman Osborn where she's officially fired and gets to tell him off in the process. She knows he'll mess up royally and can't wait to watch. She gives a theatrical bow and takes off.

After she leaves, Bullseye enters the room to find out his place in the new order. Apparently, he did a great job during the Secret Invasion (though he DID end up killing his handlers, that information is known only to Moonstone if I'm paying attention). The new drugs seem to be keeping him more sane. Word to everyone reading: every Thunderbolt is on "new drugs" and they are working very well, thank you. His reward for all his awesome: a place in Avengers Tower.

I'm assuming the Thunderbolts Mountain stuff all happens "six days ago" but there's no chronological key to it. At any rate, five days before the public gets a look at their Dark Avengers, Norman Osborn is at Avengers Tower telling Ms. Marvel how things are. Carol's still in the dark to how the new world works. She missed the memo that Tony Stark lost the Tower when he lost his job as Director of SHIELD. A sticking point has been that he built the Tower before he WAS Director but that's solved right here. The Tower was damaged during World War Hulk and Tony used SHIELD funding to rebuild it. Carol takes all this in and resigns from the Avengers. She believes no one would actually follow the frickin' Green Goblin only to find two people that actually will.

Ares and Sentry. Now we know that Ares has been a villain in the past and doesn't really have that moral compass that many people are born with. He makes sense. Sentry, though? What's that all about? Well, if you've been paying attention (and I have! :D) you'll remember that he was replaced by the Void during Secret Invasion (The Mighty Avengers #14). He may look like the Sentry and walk like the Sentry but, since the Void IS the Sentry, it's all pretty easy to explain. At this point, that's just my theory but the evidence DOES point to it. In the scene, Bob just says that he lives here and Osborn is helping him and then looks away.

Carol leaves in disgust. You can follow her in The New Avengers and see her fight these two in a few short months!

For now, Osborn seems to think he needs a Ms. Marvel so he goes about making one. A trip back to Thunderbolts Mountain and he's found his super heroine: Moonstone. She's not all ready to trade uniforms until she learns that there are many perks to being an Avenger instead of a villain. Actually, she can probably manage both!

While Osborn is hanging out back in T-Bolts Mountain, he makes a trip to another potential but first that potential needs to eat.
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Venom has a hankering for some aliens and it's pretty fortunate that we've got so many war prisoner Skrulls lying around. The Skrull above is led into Venom's holding cell where Mac Gargan makes him change into Spider-Man before devouring him. Venom's always been cool looking but I'll never understand why they decided that him having that tongue hanging out of his mouth all the time was a good look. How does he even talk? Anyway, Osborn's about to change all that. He's got some "new drugs" that'll make him more presentable to the public and allow him to keep his powers. Venom takes the drugs and gets rid of the stupid tongue thing and becomes a sleeker, black-costume Spidey looking dude. That's actually one of the coolest changes in the book!

Four days before Dark Avenger day, Daken (Wolverine's son) meets Norman Osborn, Ares, and Ms. Hand at a pizza place in New Orleans. He's there for a job but he wasn't expecting this. The three are stunned to learn that he's Logan's son but, after the shock passes, he's offered a way to really tick off Daddy Dearest and make some money.

Three days ago, Osborn is meeting with the multi-dimensional Kree warrior, Noh-Vahr. He's sitting in the empty jail that he used to run, The Cube. Noh-Vahr doesn't say much but seems receptive when Osborn offers him a place on the Avengers as Captain Marvel.

Osborn has assembled his team but, as they all lounge around Avengers Tower, he still thinks something is missing. They're making a mess, which is probably why Ms. Hand mentions that they'll need a Jarvis. You can buy those on Ebay, right? Ares brings the right answer, though. They need someone like Captain America or Iron Man. They need a symbol of patriotism and/or a shining knight. Where can you buy one of those?

This revery is interupted by Norman's three o' clock. It seems Tony Stark left some stuff in a vault that Osborn just can't get open and he's called in someone to GET that door open. The Ghost. He's seen better days. I mean, eat a sandwich, dude! The Ghost is an old Iron Man villain who's pretty much all about anarchy. He's got a suit that allows him to pass through solid objects. Osborn has plans for him but those plans obviously don't involve the Avengers (they may involve the Thunderbolts, though).

The Ghost opens the door. Inside is the Iron Man Armory. Those armors have all been destroyed a number of times (the most recent time was in last year's Iron Man: Legacy of Doom mini-series) but they ALWAYS show back up again. It's logical that Stark would destroy them so that they wouldn't fall into the wrong hands (like, say... Osborn's) but it's also very handy to have some extra long johns just in case your current suit becomes a recepticle for Ultron or your operating system won't allow you to pilot it effectively anymore. Tony's recently worn the Classic Armor in Secret Invasion #8 and the Retro Armor in Invincible Iron Man #8. Why he'd leave his Armory in the Tower and not make a move to destroy the suits is beyond me but it's possible that there's an answer coming. At this point, it's just a really convenient way to introduce Iron Patriot, whoever that is.

Dr. Doom was captured by Tony Stark and his Mighty Avengers and has been detained on the Raft throughout the Secret Invasion. After his meeting with Norman Osborn and the Dark Illuminati, he was released and was to be returned to Latveria. He's just getting back now. His escort are Thunderbolts Agents who try their best to reenact some scenes from the Iron Man movie where the guy gets a picture with Tony Stark. Doom is not amused. Their helicopter lands on the ruins of Victor's castle where he is greeted by...

Morgana Le Fay. She attacks him with lightning.

That will have to wait for next issue though. For now, we revisit the scene from earlier where Iron Patriot is introducing the all-new, all-different Avengers team to the public for the first time. It's time to find out who the Iron Patriot is. I've done a lot of guessing and hoping but in the end there was only one real answer.

Norman Osborn is the Iron Patriot. It's almost anti-climactic. :(

Woo! After that Dark Avengers walk through, you're probably looking for something less wordy. I promise nothing!

ImageThe Mighty Avengers #21
Writers: Dan Slott
Penciler: Khoi Pham

Our story begins with Vision 2.0 and Stature of the Young Avengers making their way to the YA Base at the remains of Avengers Mansion. They pass a new statue of Janet Van Dyne as Stature reminisces about what the Wasp meant to her as a female super hero and a size changer. They also talk about music that Vision has probably downloaded illegally.

They have no more time to talk about being teenagers inspired by the Avengers, though, because they have come upon their teammates... and they've been turned to stone! You're immediately thinking the Grey Gargoyle, aren't you? Well, you're probably wrong. The stoned effect is spreading on the ground and our two teenage heroes barely escape. In the air, they discover the Scarlet Witch and that gives them both even more teenage emotions. Vision 1.0 was married AND killed by Wanda. Stature's dad was also a victim of the Scarlet Witch. It begins to rain blood and, before they can process any of this, they are magically sealed away.

That blood rain covers New York City in a flood. Trish Tilby is reporting from a rooftop as the Dark Avengers fly over the city to ruin Iron Patriot's mystery for anyone who didn't read Dark Avengers first. Norman Osborn takes off his helmet and promises Trish's audience that everything is going to be OK.

Jarvis is driving his 1920's era car (Jarvis! You worked for Tony Stark! You should have asked for one of his flying cars!) into Oklahoma only to find that Oklahoma no longer exists. That cuts off Thor and Asgard. You may notice that this magical... thing... seems to be targetting heroes. Not everyone, though. It looks like Hercules and his sidekick, Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest mind on earth for all those that count the smartest minds on earth, are heading to find him. They're looking to assemble some Avengers and think that Jarvis would probably be able to do a better job than they could. Jarvis can think of only one person to lead a group of new Avengers (again, not to be confused with New Avengers).

That man is NOT Captain America. Odds are pretty good that Jarvis wouldn't even know who James Buchanan Barnes was outside of the history books. Besides, it looks like he's leading his ACTUAL New Avengers in fighting a bunch of plants in Philadelphia. They don't live. Each one is overrun with vines as the Scarlet Witch arrives on the scene too late to collect Cap. She teleports out as Ronin (Clint Barton), who's still alive, notices her.

She heads to Toronto to collect USAgent instead. The Agent is watching as Omega Flight is killed before his eyes and isn't very happy to be ported away from his team. He's given little choice.

Meanwhile, Stark Aerospace Labs is surrounded by active volcanoes. Tony Stark is doing his best to halt the flow of lava and save people, but he's barely holding his suit together and second guessing himself. Tony needs to get a better picture to see where this is all coming from. He heads for some Stark Macro Boosters and launches himself into orbit, just missing the Scarlet Witch in the process.

In Arizona, Hulk is being attacked by snow. It's surprisingly effective. Still, once it's frozen solid, he's able to smash it like everything else. That keeps him on the playing field. Scarlet Witch teleports him away.

In Chicago, Jarvis, Herc, and Cho are looking for Hank Pym. Yes, Hank Pym. You'd think that Jarvis would head straight to Tony Stark or... y'know, someone who's a proven Avenger. Even Hank Pym fans would have to admit that he doesn't have a stellar track record and certainly isn't a proven leader. Still, that's where they've ended up. Hank's not seeing people today but Jocasta lets Jarvis in. Hank's not very happy about the interruption.
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Most of this dialogue has to do with Hank proving to Cho that he's smarter than him and at the same time is NOT join them in fighting the current big bad. I mean, he REALLY doesn't want to join and needs much more cajoling than you'd think was necessary considering the comeback that Slott wants to take the character on. Anyway, Cho has traced all this magical destruction thing to Tansia. Specifically Mount Wundagore.

Iron Man's finding this out at the same time. He's trying to call the Avengers but no one's picking up the phone. Stark wonders if that's about him being the man who fumbled during Secret Invasion or if everyone else has been taking off the playing board. He's still around, though, and makes his way to Wundagore.

Which brings us to Mount Wundagore. The guy who's messing with the world is Modred. He's a minor villain connected to the Maximoff family and Merlin. He's using magic to rewrite the Darkhold, a book of dark magic, to resurrect Chthon while Bova cries. It looks like many if not all the New Men have been killed off. Modred has a prisoner and, since there's only one "child of Magda" unaccounted for, it's pretty easy to figure out who it is.

Back in Pym's... Pym Pocket... yes, that's the actual name... Herc, Amadeus, and Cho are still trying to convince Mr. "I'm going to carry on Wasp's legacy" to actually help them. We also see that the FF are stuck on TV (on channel four, of course). Herc finally gets Hank to reveal the reason he's so scared to lead his fellow Avengers into battle and it leads us to another retcon of comic history... because they really needed to retcon in another flaw for Hank Pym.

It turns out that back in the day, Hank thought that what he offered the team was his brilliant mind. He had the weakest powers of all the founding Avengers even when he had added growth to the mix but he was still the smartest guy in the room. There's even a nod to Avengers 1 1/2 issue (thanks for pointing that our, Jack Burton!) that came out in the late nineties where the Avengers fought Dr. Doom. Unfortunately, just when Hank has reconciled the fact that he's the smartest member of the Avengers, he secretly learned before everyone else that Tony Stark was Iron Man and therefore the smartest man in the room by far. Yeah, that's the unnecessary retcon.

So, obviously, Hank can't lead because Tony Stark is awesome. Now, I'm not one to argue that fact. Tony is pretty awesome. Still, he's had a pretty bad day and we've learned that sometimes even geniuses can make terrible mistakes in judgement. Take shooting Hulk into space. Was that brilliant? Heck, Reed Richards was involved in that, too. I'll take issue with Herc and Pym's portrayal of Civil War and how the pro-reg side was responsible for every death because I think the blame is pretty evened out on that one (though Tony took responsibility for his part in it all because he's just that awesome). Secret Invasion, though, was a dark mark for Tony. They mention the Illuminati taking a pre-emptive strike that basically gave the Skrulls the tools to invade in the first place and, of course, Tony's Starktech defenses utterly failed.

And, really, it's a stupid reason to be a punk, Hank, so man up and let's do this thing.

So, finally, Hank agrees to help and introduces us to his new super swiss army knife, Toolbot (for once, it's not Pymbot! It's like progress!). It basically conjures up whatever tool Hank needs for any occasion. This time it's a key that opens a door straight to Transia where our heroes are greeted by the Scarlet Witch. She's collected some heroes for Hank to release. He's just gotta say the magic words. Jarvis tells him to say it loud and say it proud.

"Avengers Assemble!" Our heroes are gathered and ready to get biz done.

Modred has finally finished summoning Chthon. His dark god fills the vessel he has prepared for it. Chthon has taken possession of Quicksilver. Oughta be fun times next issue!

ImageThunderbolts #128
Writers: Andy Diggle
Artist: Roberto De La Torre

Norman Osborn is waiting outside Air Force One in negative six below temperatures without a coat. He's not happy and the person he's been waiting for is taking their sweet time. Ms. Hand asks him if he wants a coat but Osborn shrugs it off because he's hardcore. Finally, a limo pulls up and out comes our hero.

President Barrack Obama!

Osborn and the President talk about the SHIELD replacement, HAMMER, with Osborn saying that it gets the message across. That message being "We're taking no prisoners." The President requests that Osborn joins him during his flight to the GB Summit in Moscow. Norman got appointed during W's last month or so in office and President Obama is seriously concerned for the power that has been bestoyed on the former Green Goblin. Also, someone's accused Osborn of some pretty harsh things and it would be good if Osborn sat down and tried to defend himself.
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They board the plane and we get right to the accuser: Doctor Leonard Samson. He's got some incriminating evidence linking to a past T-Bolts "adventure" where everyone went a little insane. It's going to be an interesting flight.

Six weeks ago, the Black Widow broke into a former SHIELD weapons depot to steal some supplies. Oh, it's not Natasha. This is the second Black Widow: Yelena Belova. She was also turned into the new Super-Adaptiod and fought the New Avengers team back in New Avengers Annual #1. She didn't survive that mission but she's apparently gotten better. Anyway, she's stealing some weapons when she's confronted by a pair of HAMMER guards. She John Woos the hell out of them and then learns that Norman Osborn is there as well. And he's applauding. After a lengthy sales pitch, Norman offers her leadership of his new Thunderbolts team.

Back in the present on Air Force One, Doc Samson is laying down his evidence against Osborn. He's even adding in his psychological assessment for good measure. Osborn greases around his words like a pro, turning them back on him with style. Samson's case stems from an altercation at T-Bolts Mountain where Norman broke down, dressed himself up as Green Goblin, and killed a bunch of CSA Security Staff. Osborn says he's reported on the incident and puts the blame on a psychological attack that manipulated CSA staff's memory of the events. Still, Samson has security camera evidence, possibly delivered to him by Songbird, that clearly shows Osborn doing the Green Goblin thing to two CSA Marshals.

Osborn conjectures that whoever was in the Green Goblin suit could have been anyone... maybe even Samson. Doc Samson was doing his own dirty deeds that day. He brought in a ceramic knife in some treatment he had planned for Penance. Osborn feigns being outraged at Leonard's psychotherapy and continues on with his distorted veiw of events from that day. Still, we're wasting time. Lets get to that awesome video. Osborn touches his cuff link and activates all kinds of shenanigans before the video can be played.

It's time to see the new Thunderbolts get to business. The Raptor escort for Air Force One is shot out of the sky (the pilots are able to eject just like any good episode of GIJoe). Four missiles are heading straight for Air Force One. They detonate before impact, but that's not enough to save the pilot. It turns out Yelena was playing co-pilot and takes out pilot, Andy D, with a stinger. With that, she contacts her team and they all make like the jet has actually been hit, activating smoke decoys on all four engines.

She announces her intention to try landing the plane on the Bering Glacier to the crew and passengers and then releases the irredeemable Ant-Man from her bosom. He was supposed to be in her pocket but, well, we all know Ant-Man. He runs through the corridors to complete whatever his mission is.

The President and his guests are updated on the situation. Samson hands his incriminating DVD off to a Secret Service agent to be placed in the crash-proof safe. He'll never make it there. The Ghost (last seen in Dark Avengers and looking VERY emaciated!) attacks him and takes the disc. Ant-Man gets on with his part of the plan by planting a Gamma Emitter on Doc Samson. Someone's gonna have a Hulk moment...

Osborn's about the release the coup de grâce. After alluding to the fact that Leonard is working with him, we find out just who him is as the compartment is torn open. It's the Green Goblin! Place yer bets on who it is now!

ImageWar Machine #2
Writers: Greg Pak
Artist: Leonardo Manco

In Occupied Aqiria, Lieutenant Oh (no, you haven't missed anything--first appearance) is trying to deliver some medical attention to Parnell Jacobs' wife. Apparently, a man named Harmon has cut off any medical attention due to it being "unauthorized contact with experimental technology." So, this is more complicated than simple search and rescue. Glenda Sandoval has been messed with somehow.

Bethany Cabe is doing her best to get a bug in to see what's going on but she's dealing with some aftermath from Osborn and his HAMMER troops infiltrating her base of operations. The place is on fire and there's blood running down her face. This is Bethany Cabe, though. She's a trooper and is focused on the mission at hand. The bug gets in and they are able to successfully ID Glenda. Parnell tells her that they are going to get her out and then War Machine heads in to do his business.

It's time to meet Davis Harmon. He looks like a punk kid in sunglasses because he's a punk kid in sunglasses. War Machine crashes a drone into his office area and then gives him a call on his cell phone. Rhodes tells Harmon that he's just here for one thing and then he's out. Harmon replies that Rhodes is a traitor. His base provides protection to 10,000 american solders as well as the millions in the Aqirian capital. There will be no standing down.

Harmon fires three super missiles at Rhodey.
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Rhodey's able to gain control over two missiles but the third detonates. It doesn't hurt him too much and he's able to add two super missiles to his arsenal. Parnell gives him a sweet target in some unmanned tank drones and Rhodey fires his new missiles at them. Unfortunately, there's live infantry mixed in with the tanks and Rhodey's still hero enough that he doesn't want to kill unless it's confirmed scum of the earth. Rhodey ends up saving the enemy from his missile strike only to have both of the warheads explode on him at close range.

The explosion knocks off his legs but, since he lost some limbs last issue, that's not really life threatening. He's also cracked his faceplate which may hurt his chances of returning to his orbital stealth space station. Harmon orders his mercenary army to stand strong against him. War Machine makes short work of them all and adds some new tech to his arsenal.

He's now part tank. When someone blows off your legs, maybe it's time to add some treads.

He finally breaks into Eaglestar Internation to rescue Glenda and meets with Lieutenant Jake Oh. He's still trying to give Glenda some medical treatment but there's a snag. The containment cell holding Glenda is set to blow if anyone tries to open it. Rhodey gets Bethany working on overriding the code to get in. It'll take five minutes.

Rhodey gets ready to kill those that were guarding Glenda but Glenda would rather that they were prosecuted for their actions. She wants this to be public so that it can't happen again. Instead of a missile, Jim ends up firing a flash pulse into the building army. It blinds everyone. Davis Harmon takes this for a good sign. He's up against a hero. They don't usually kill people.

Back at Avengers Tower, Osborn is ticked off. He's yelling about handing everything to someone on a silver platter and we have to wonder if he's talking about Harmon or Rhodey at this point. He orders Plan B into effect.

Plan B is the God of War. Ares.

ImageUncanny X-Men Annual #2
Writers: Matt Fraction
Artists: Mitch Breitweiser & Daniel Acuña

Leave it to the guy who captured Namor in The Order #7 to remember to release him here. Sometime in the recent past, Namor is released from a SHIELD Black Box Facility back into the ocean.

Years before that, we're about to get Namor's first meeting with the White Queen. It's a party at the Hellfire Club and everyone's invited so long as they are incredibly rich. The inner circle is looking on but Sebastian Shaw is more interested in finding a White King. He, Selene, and Emma Frost make their way through the crowd and come across Tony Stark doing his best to pick up one of the serving girls. He's pretty smashed which means we're hitting Stark during one of his "off the wagon" phases. Stark moves on to flirt with Emma and ends up pouring some champagne on Norman Osborn in a move of bravado. This leads to a confrontation between the two that'll echo into the confrontation going on in Fraction's Invincible Iron Man title right now (though Stark is MUCH less drunk there).

Shaw ends up booting Osborn from the party and having Selene telepathically send Stark away for a booty call. Shaw's still occupied in filling that slot in his inner circle and realizes that Stark's not the man to fill it.

But maybe Namor is. As the Atlantian Prince enters the club, Shaw falls over himself trying to get on Sub-Mariner's good side but he's more interested in Emma Frost. Namor makes a remark on how there aren't any blondes in Atlantis... except for Namorita and Namora. Maybe some other people with Namor in their names. Namor's willing to listen to Shaw's sales pitch as long as he brings the White Queen in with them.

This brings us back to the Dark Illuminati's first meeting in Secret Invasion #8 because, as I said earlier, every artist has to draw that meeting shot. It's a requirement. We cut to after the meeting is over. Emma hung around after Namor and Doom had their little talk in order to have her own chat with Namor. The Sub-Mariner didn't forget about meeting Emma in the past. He believes he was protecting her. She doesn't need protecting, though. She's the frickin' White Queen. Or was. Namor is now intrigued.

Back in the past, Namor is having his meeting with the Hellfire Club's inner circle. Namor's a mutant. The first mutant at least in publishing terms. Still, the Sub-Mariner hasn't cared about his mutant ancestry since he teamed up with Magneto back in the day. He's lord over the oceans and those cover over two thirds of the earth. He really doesn't care to join this group and leaves with threats.

Shaw is annoyed and angry. He orders Emma to bend Namor's mind to join the inner circle. He makes sure to let Emma knows her place before she's off.

Back in the present, Emma's calling a noticeably frazzled Cyclops. She's preparing for her meeting with Namor. Scott's been kind of cold shouldering her in Uncanny, so he probably deserves some of it back. She cuts him off as he's saying he loves her and then makes her way to her secret rendezvous. Namor decided against the regal look and just went with the super trunks and bracelets.

Back in the past, Emma has decided to throw herself into the ocean with a large weight attached to her leg while telepathically calling for Namor. Namor reaches her before she drowns and takes her off to his palace.

Two weeks later, Shaw is growing impatient. She hasn't called. She hasn't written. It's time to exact some payback for some reason. He grabs a strand of Emma's hair and orders Donald Pierce to send his Sentinels after her.

We find Namor flexing in the mirror after having lots of sex with Emma Frost. They begin talking about their places in the world just long enough to fill time before the Sentinel attack. Namor makes short work of them but not before they've destroyed good chunks of his city. He comes back accusing Frost of bringing these things to his home. Emma didn't bring them but explains that they are mutant hunters there for both of them. Namor's convinced she didn't bring them and the two make plans to retaliate.

In the present, Namor and Emma work out arrangements for their Dark Illuminati deal. Emma will provide psychic protection to Namor. Namor will lend Emma his strength when Norman Osborn eventually turns against the mutants. The deal sealer is Sebastian Shaw's head. Emma is surprised that the deal isn't for sex but Namor's not looking for a prostitute. He'll bed her again but it won't be as a bargaining chip to seal a deal.

Namor's people track where the Sentinels originated from and he and the White Queen make their way to the location. The Sub-Mariner encounters more Sentinels as well as Pierce and Shaw. Shaw and Namor fight it out but Sebastian's powers make a physical assault worthless. The two reach a point where it's time to talk it out. Namor berates Shaw for sending Sentinels against his own kind. Emma joins in. Shaw doesn't really care about it. He wants the world not just mutants (just like a more hairy version of Veruca Salt).

He has Selene wipe Emma's mind of the entire incident. He informs Namor that the telepaths in his employ will keep the Sub-Mariner away from him for the rest of his life. Namor leaves in disgust and anger.

In the present, Emma tells Namor that, after her battle with the Phoenix, she rebuilt her memories from the ground up and these blocked memories were revealed to her then (this battle was recalled in Emma's first appearance blast from the past article in Super Reads Dark Reign). Emma summons Shaw to the Hellfire Club and tells Namor to wait behind a two way mirror to watch.

Shaw arrives. Emma and he reminisce about her joining the inner circle before Emma lops off his head.
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Namor is impressed. He vows to aid mutantkind when the time comes. After a swing and a miss on kissing her, Namor takes his leave. Which allows Emma to lift her illusion. Shaw is not dead. She simply made him believe he was blind and mute and immobile. She made Namor believe that she had cut off Shaw's head. After some idle threats, Emma calls Cyclops up and tells him that they have a new prisoner to add to their brig. Shaw is a captive of the X-Men.

And now, let's move on to some War of Kings action!

ImageGuardians of the Galaxy #9
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencilers: Brad Walker & Carlos Magno

Jack Flag, the man with the patriotic hair and the cool wheelchair, is leader of the defenses on the walls of Prison 42. King Blastaar and his men have been besieging the prison for the last six days. The Warden and guards at the prison bugged out almost immediately and closed the Negative Zone gate behind them. They were nice enough to open the prisoner's cells and turn their powers back on so that they'd have a chance to defend themselves.

In one of the many lulls in the fighting, Blastaar sends in a negotiator. It's Peter Quill, Star-Lord, and he's naked. Jack Flag meets him. After telling Peter how much he hates cosmic stories (you're living one, Jack), he calls a meeting of the guys leading this defense and has someone give our naked negotiator something to wear.

So who's in charge of this thing? We've met Jack Flag, now let's meet the rest. We've got Condor, first. He's a member of an avian race and one of Nova's old villains that only bears a RESEMBLANCE to the Vulture. Next is Gorilla Man. He's a doctor who grafted gorilla bits onto people until the gorillas got revenge on him by grafting his head onto a gorilla. Yeah. The last member of the 42 inmate leaders is Bison who was changed into a minotaur by the Egyptian god, Seth. They have a plan involving Skeleton Ki, a dude that can open locks. Ki is going to open the portal back to the Positive World so that they can all escape.

That's not what Star-Lord wants them to do at all. If they reopen the portal, King Blastaar's army will be able to leave the Negative Zone and attack Earth. Most of the inmates present could give a damn about Earth since Earth didn't seem to care that much about them. That means it's a big fight with Star-Lord versus a lot of angry inmates. Fortunately, Jack Flag has a cool space gun and he's siding with Peter. He stuns the rest of the inmates, excluding Skeleton Ki, and he and Peter go look for a telepath to contact Peter's team. Since Ki didn't participate in the fight, they leave him alone but that will turn out to be a bad decision over all.

Ki waits around for a minute or so and then makes his way to the front gate where he lets in the Negative Zone army.
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On the Saturnian moon of Titan, Quasar and Drax are talking to Mentor about the possible resurrection of Moondragon. Moondragon was Quasar's girlfriend and was killed during Annihilation Conquest. She and Drax have heard word that Moondragon MAY be coming back and so they have headed to Titan to learn whatever they can from Mentor of Moondragon's other resurrections. Mentor has heard no psionic word of any resurrection but conjectures that Moondragon's connection and transformation into a dragon may have been part of such a resurrection plan. Her fate has always been tied to the Dragon of the Moon and that's an evil fate to have. Before the conversation moves any further, Mentor psi-blasts the two and kills them. We'll see if it sticks this time.

On Knowhere, the floating Celestial head on the edge of the universe that also works as the Guardian's headquarters, Major Victory is hanging out with the Guardian's prisoner, Starhawk. Major Victory is trying to recall some of his past memories and is hoping that she is the key. Starhawk seems to be trying to manipulate Victory in some way but not a lot of space is given to delve into this point. Major Victory is called back to HQ to find out if Rocket Raccoon and Groot were able to locate Star-Lord.

In a word, no. They met with the Kree Ambassador but, since Ronan worked hard to make sure that Peter had disappeared without a trace, the Kree are able to deny knowing his location. There's evidence that Hala was Peter's last stop but nothing linking him there now. This is all interupted when Mantis gets a telepathic signal and discovers just where Star-Lord's been hanging out. It's a weak signal and Peter's boosting it by beating the crap out of the telepath on his end.

That telepath is Carrion. Peter is making extra sure that the signal goes through by beating him up extra much.

Now that they know that Peter's in the Neg Zone, they are able to detect his Guardian Passport and find his location. Cosmo, Knowhere's security dog, is able to home in on that signal and beam the Guardians to within four meters of Peter's location.

Which puts them right in the middle of the Negative Zone Army. Woo.

ImageX-Men: Kingbreaker #2
Writer: Chris Yost
Penciler: Dustin Weaver

Vulcan has been working on assembling his criminal Imperial Guard. The new team will consist of an alien symbiote, a member of the Uncreated (who you may remember from Ellis's Starjammers mini from the late nineties), a Pn'zo (with electric arm tentacles), and a Hodinn (looks like a planet destroyer and this one is crazy!). Vulcan makes offers to each of them and then sets up a female Gladiator to lead them all. Oracle isn't happy about any of this but the Imperial Guard is nothing if not completely loyal to whoever is ruling the Shi'ar.

Speaking of completely loyal Imperial Guard members, let's look in on Kallark. You may know him as Gladiator. He is on the asteroid known as "Haven" enjoying a nap when his sleep is interrupted by Lilandra. She's looking for her lost Starjammers and tries to get that information from a reluctant Gladiator. There's some mention that Lilandra and Gladiator had a taudry affair but even that chip won't get her the information she wants. It's lucky she brought a telepath along. Marvel Girl finds that their teammates are on Kr'kn and the two make their escape.

Havok is about to make an escape of his own. As the guards are giving him food, he uses the small amount of cosmic power he's built up to blast the door off. After that, he's got to rely on human power to take out the two guards as they stumble to their feet.

Back on Chandilar, Vulcan meets with his wife prior to a meeting with the remnants of the Galactic Council. He's not really happy to have to explain his actions to anyone but, for his wife's sake, he's at least come to make an appearance.

On one of the Clench worlds, Lilandra's team is having the Starjammer refueled and armed up. She's still got some loyal followers throughout Shi'ar space. While the group is planning out their rescue of the captured Starjammers, they are attacked by the criminal Imperial Guard. Korvus, wielder of the Phoenix Blade, is the first to confront the female Gladiator. Marvel Girl joins him as Lilandra protests her lack of a plan. Unfortunately, Lil is gonna have to deal with the symbiote who's already aboard their ship.
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Lilandra is given the symbiote's weaknesses by Sikorsky, the ship's robotic medic, and acts on them. She floods the creature with electricity but ignores the symbiote's host's pleas for death.

Outside, Marvel Girl and Korvus are quite outnumbered. Unfortunately for everyone, the criminals are not organized and the Hodinn is nuts. He opens his armor and begins to destroy the entire planet.

Back on Chandilar, Vulcan and his wife are meeting with members of the Galactic Council. They are here to find why the Shi'ar have given no aid in reconstruction efforts after the Annihilation and also to find out why the Shi'ar continue to expand. They've even counquered Kree allies. Vulcan's answer is to destroy the attendant Council members with the exception of the Recorder unit from Rigel. He leaves that unit functioning so that it can send a message back to the Council. They are to disband. Any resistance to the Shi'ar will meet with similar consequences. Deathbird is kind of freaked out by this entire display.

On the Clench world, the Hodinn continues to build up power. The X-Men make for the Starjammer as Sikorsky dumps the symbiote off ship. The Starjammer escapes the planet just before it is destroyed. The Criminal Imperial Guard also escapes. They decide against collecting the Hodinn. The Uncreated knows where the Starjammer is headed. Everyone meet on Kr'kn!

Speaking of, back on that little prison planet that could, Havok is rescuing his last prisoner, Polaris. He's already freed Ch'od and Raza. Ch'od is ready to get off planet but Alex has other ideas. They're staying. Gabriel will return and, when he does, they will be there to kill him.

And now... Doom.

ImageFantastic Four #5
Writers: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

Some villains have incredible first appearances. As we've seen with the Green Goblin, some do not. So, what about Doom? U-Decide!

In New York City, Johnny Storm is reading about the Incredible Hulk in his very first comic appearance. Yes! It's an ad within the comic! Awesome! Johnny compares the Thing to Hulk and that leads into a typical FF fight. Reed and Sue break it up but they have new troubles to deal with.

Dr. Doom sends an energy net down over the Baxter Building. Doom contacts the Four and Reed leads us into a quick flashback on Dr. Doom's origin. He was a college student with Reed that seemed to enjoy dabbling in the occult. In one experiment he was trying to contact the Netherworld when his equipment exploded. While he survived, his face was left badly disfigured. He was expelled and traveled to Tibet to continue seeking the occult.

Dr. Doom demands that Sue is brought to him as a hostage. Thing tries to fight back and is electified by the net. Sue decides to go to Doom. She reasons that she'll be able to discover what powers Doom possesses so it's almost like recon. In truth, Sue spent a lot of time as a hostage in the first twenty issuesor so of the Fantastic Four. This was just sort of par for course.

After Sue is taken hostage, Doom demands that the rest of the Four join him on his ship. They comply and Doom takes them aboard. He then flies them all to his local castle fortress. Now, they just have to jump through more of Doom's hoops.

Doom has built a time platform. He demands that Reed, Johnny, and Ben travel to the past and retrieve an object for him. That object is Blackbeard's treasure. Doom promises to return them when they have done their part in the deal and even to release Sue if they fail. Reed believes Doom to be a man of his word and, at least in that way, trustworthy. The three agree to travel into the past.

The Time Platform sends them straight to... Pirate times? Let's see, Blackbeard lived from about 1680 to 1718 so we'll say the very early 1700's. Their first order of business is to procur some pirate-like clothing. Thing does this for them when he steals some previously stolen clothing from two arguing pirates. Thing is thoroughly disguised with a thick beard and eye patch.

The three make their way to a local tavern where they are quickly drugged and added to a local pirate crew. It takes about two minutes for Thing and his comrades to take control of the vessel from the squabbling crew. As soon as the pecking order has been established, the pirate ship is attacked by another pirate ship. Thinking that this may be Blackbeard's ship, Reed, Johnny, and Ben begin ordering the counter attack.

Using their powers, the three heroes easily turn the tide of battle in their favor and, at the end, the pirates declare Thing as their captain and name him Blackbeard. So the treasure they have now is what they were looking for. Reed seeks to thwart whatever plan Doom had and hands the treasure out to the pirate crew. He replaces it with worthless chains and believes they are still honoring the agreement considering that they are bringing Blackbeard's treasure CHEST back with them.

Thing doesn't want to go back, though. He's all caught up in being a pirate and a legend while also being sort of accepted. He orders his crew to capture Reed and Johnny. Thing orders them sent aboard a life boat so that the pirates can make their escape but a local hurricane brings those plans to a close. The three are washed to shore and, fortunately, recover the pirate chest before Doom reactivates the Time Platform and brings them back to the present.

Doom reveals what he believes they've brought back with them. The jewels that were once held within had belonged to Merlin and have magical properties. He's not happy to learn that they actually brought chains back with them and that the actual treasure is now stuck at the bottom of the Atlantic. This leads to a fight where they discover the first of many Doombots.
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That revealed, the real Doctor Doom seals them in their chamber and takes out all the oxygen.

Now it's up to Sue to perform a rescue. She goes invisible and causes the panel in front of Victor to explode. She then runs down to her comrade's prison in order to free them. United, the Fantastic Four make their escape from Doom's fortress castle. Once outside, Torch surrounds the fortress with flames. Doom has equipped himself with a rocket pack, though, and is able to fly away before anyone is able to catch him. Johnny tries but he hasn't mastered his flames yet and has used up too much power to continue pursuit.

So Doom will be back. Again and again. Eventually, he'll even be completely awesome. This time, though? Pirates and time travel.

And we are now done with what is probably the longest edition of Super Reads thus far. Apologies for the lateness but that was a LOT of comics!

Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?
Posted originally: 2009-02-01 16:47:28
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