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Super Reads 114

Once again, it's on.

Today, we check out The Thanos Imperative #3, X-Men #2, Daredevil #509, Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1, Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #2, The Invincible Iron Man #29, and Blast to the Past for The X-Men #4.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Super Reads 114
The time has come for another exciting episode of Super Reads.  Everyone buckle your safety belts.

Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege?  Check no further than this link right HERE.

And now:  Space madness.

The Thanos Imperative #3The Thanos Imperative #3
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda

In this issue:

• Interdimensional war claims the life of the Cosmic Abstract, Aegis, Lady of Sorrows.  It might also have taken out Nova who is caught in a psychic backlash.

• In the Cancerverse, Thanos and the Guardians of the Galaxy visit the robot resistance on Titan.

• The exact moment when the Cancerverse timeline diverted from our own is found.  It was the Death of Captain Marvel.

• Cancerverse Scarlet Witch leads a group of Revengers back home to track down an errant anomoly (Thanos).

• Blastaar causes trouble and a fight happens between the defenders of our reality.  It's broken up when Nova reappears and gets everyone back in frickin' line.

• Galactic heavy hitters are selected to make a trip to Lord Mar-Vell's location.

• Drax the Destroyer kills Thanos.  It's all over!

The previous story in this series was covered HERE.

This may be the last big, giant, cosmic level storylines for a while and everything is going down with a bang!  Last issue saw the appearance of the Cancerverse's big Cosmic Abstract, the Galactus Engine (a sick-looking train thing with a demon-Galactus face on its end).  This issue sees even more of this type of things appear as the battle hits a higher plane of combat than we can even fathom.  We also learn that the Galactus Engine is a weaponized Galactus which is probably huge.

It seems that all these Abstracts are just sitting around while the little guys do the actual fighting, but that's not the case.  We just can't perceive the fighting with our stupid mortal eyes.  The effects start spilling over into our range of reality when Aegis, the Lady of Sorrows, detonates with nasty cancer creatures already slithering through her remains.  Nova Prime is far too close when they lose their first Abstract, and before he can recover, he's hit with a blast of psionic energy that Worldmind tells him won't be completely blocked out by his helmet's dampeners.  Yeah, that is probably going to hurt.

So let's not reveal the ultimate fate of Richard Rider for a while, and instead focus on another aspect of this war.  Thanos and the Guardians of the Galaxy have made their way to the Cancerverse proper.  After a fight with the Cancerverse Defenders, they met up with this universe's Vision who took them to the home of the resistance.  Yeah, even in this universe, there are people that are fighting against this cancerous nasty.  By "people" I mean, of course, robots.

This is a world where nothing dies unless Thanos kills it.  Everything is alive... unless it's a machine.  Vision and his robot resistance register as "Life/Death neutral."  They are the only things unaffected by the Many-Angled-Ones and that means they're the only ones able to mount a proper resistance.  We get shots of many of our favorite Marvel U robots.  Jocasta, Machine Man, M-11.  Good times.  Their base of operations is on Titan which just so happens to be the birthplace of Thanos.  Fullcircle'd.

Vision catches everyone up on what we already know.  Death has been killed.  Now we just have to learn how and why.  Thanos takes the lead in this investigation, which really ticks off Drax the Destroyer.  Drax is a dude who was specifically made to kill Thanos.  It's his life mission and the fact that Thanos has again returned from the grave is affecting him greatly.  While Star-Lord tries to calm his teammember down, Thanos finds what went terribly wrong in this reality.

At the same time on Thanos's Sanctuary in the normal universe, Lord Mar-Vell is learning how the Marvel Universe diverged from his own.  It all had to do with the Death of Captain Marvel.

You might remember this story or at least heard about it.  It was released back in the by-gone days of 1984 and details the life and times of Captain Marvel before we quietly put the character to rest.  The original (Well, MARVEL's original) Captain Marvel died of inoperable cancer on the planet Titan, surrounded by the rank and file Marvel heroes of the day.  At the time, death wasn't something that happened every other issue and even though Captain Marvel was a minor character in the MU, his death was a pretty big deal.  It didn't hurt that this was Marvel's first original graphic novel and featured most of the big name heroes of the day.  Hell, even Spider-Man and Hulk showed up to pay their respects.

The fact that his Marvel Universe counterpart just sat down and died of cancer instead of working the problem is unconscionable to Lord Mar-Vell.  It's not how it went down in his native universe, that's for certain.

So, now we get to the big discrepancies.  While it was the "Death" of Captain Marvel that fundamentally changed the Cancerverse, it was building up over some time.  The Many-Angled Ones came to Captain Marvel and whispered a way out of death but it wouldn't have been possible if these same beings hadn't been playing around in the universe for some time, influencing the heroes and turning their minds to their ways.  When Mar-Vell laid on his deathbed, everyone looks like they're supposed to.  It's only after the good Captain turns his greatest allies that things take that big turn for the worst.

Of course, it doesn't stop there.  Captain Marvel is alive once more, but it's the follow-up that matters.  With the Many-Angled Ones backing them up, Mar-Vell and his Revengers find the Avatar of Death and kill him in a ritual called the Necropsy.  The Necropsy caused Death itself to die.  Thanos asks where this took place and learns that it was performed in the stronghold of the Avatar of Death, Sanctuary.  While this is Thanos's abandoned headquarters in the main universe, that doesn't mean the Mad Titan was THIS universe's Avatar of Death.  No-one seems to be making that assumption so we're stay away from it as well.

Back in the Marvel Universe on Sanctuary, the Revengers gather as many anomolies as they can find in their search for this universe's Avatar of Death.  So far, the search goes poorly.  Iron Man has brought back some more potentials but even he doesn't think these are going to be the Death Avatar.

We've actually met some of these anomolies before.  The first one taken was Namorita.  If you haven't been following the Cosmic Books you may be wondering why she's not dead.  Well...  she kind of IS.  This Namorita is a time-displaced anomoly (which is why she's HERE, after all) that Richard Rider just couldn't let go of.  The other one you may recognize is Major Victory, another time-displaced anomoly from the Guardians of the Galaxy of the future.  He's been showing up in the Guardians of the Galaxy book from near the beginning.

They're in the room and that means they hear when Scarlet Witch tells Lord Mar-Vell of the faint anomoly trace from the Cancerverse.  Something faced off against the Defenders before growing dark.  Wanda asks for a team to go back to the Cancerverse and find out what this thing was.  Mar-Vell accepts and the Scarlet Witch leaves with Captain America, Hawkeye, Wasp, and War Machine.  Iron Man is displeased by this whole thing.

Back at the Fault, the defenders of the Marvel Universe are having a little meet and greet to discuss the fate of the known and unknown universe.
It's how we've been gathered together today.

While there is still a lot of bluster in this meeting of the universe's leaders, there's also some aggression right underneath the surface.  Particularly when it comes to King Blastaar.  This dude doesn't know when to keep his trap shut and gets the whole assembly pissed off and on the verge of fighting each other.

It takes the reappearance of Nova Prime, Richard Rider, to get this group back in line.  He shouts at them all for letting petty arguments divide them when the FATE OF EVERYTHING lies in the balance.  When everyone is suitably heeled, he tells them that it's time to get strategic and fight this war with winning in mind.  After all, they aren't gonna do that here at the Fault.  The creatures coming out of the gaping hole in the universe are nigh unkillable which means it's a losing battle from the start.  No, they're going to have to figure out how to turn the tide.

Fortunately, Nova has some thoughts on this and those thoughts are not his own.  Remember that Psychic Wave he fought through in the beginning of this issue?  It turns out that was a planned thing.  Before Aegis died, she sense a gathering of Cancerverse villains at a specific location (Sanctuary if you aren't paying attention).  Richard has noticed that the Revengers have been going about gathering up specific people during this conflict.  While he doesn't know WHY, he knows that it's gotta be important.  Nova proposes a strike team to head off to Sanctuary and maybe win this thing in one go.

It's a great group of cosmic heroes.  Quasar.  Beta Ray Bill.  Gladiator.  Nova Prime.  Silver Surfer.  Ronan.  They walk out of a cool light effect hoping to be poster material.  Richard orders Worldmind to calculate a stargate to Sanctuary and to make it open as close to the starship as possible.  This is gonna be one hell of a surprise attack.  Quasar compliments Rider on Nova's command skills before they light up the skies and make their way to Sanctuary.

On Cancerverse's Titan, Thanos knows what has to be done.  The Necropsy must be turned around.
They're awesome, I swear.
This isn't all worked out right here and now but it's known that they'll have to perform some sort of reverse ritual at the Sanctuary location and that the Avatar of Death must be performing.  They talk about calculating a jump to that location but the time involved is just too long to wait.  Star-Lord asks for the coordinates so that he can think of a better way to get things done.  Now... it all comes down to Drax.

It seems Drax's dissention hasn't gone unnoticed by Thanos and the Mad Titan has had enough.  He confronts the Destroyer and demands that they solve this.  Drax decides to put an end to it with bullets.  Laser bullets.  It's big fight time and no-one can stop it.  Thanos is too powerful to contain now. Drax is also built up to extreme levels for some unknown reason.  At this point, the Guardians would rather turn on Drax than Thanos.  That should say how much they think they need an Avatar of Death.

Even with all of Thanos' power, Drax gets the better of the Mad Titan through some very nice technical doohickeys.  He lights up an anti-matter charge.  As Thanos explodes, the Guardians wonder what they're gonna do now.


X-Men #2X-Men #2
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Paco Medina

In this story:

• Colossus, Wolverine, and Storm chase a Charniputra all around San Francisco.  Blade the Vampire Hunter joins them for a save when they find a Vamp nest.

• Jubilee is tested back at Utopia and talks about her cravings for the night.

• The X-Men learn that Dracula isn't dead.

• Xarus reveals his plans to convert all the mutants to his vampiric ways.

• Jubilee escapes Utopia after knocking out Kavita Rao!

• After learning that there are a hell of a lot of Vamps running around San Fran, Cyke and Emma decide the best thing to do is resurrect Dracula.

• Jubilee gets a bite on the neck by Xarus himself.

The previous story in this series was covered HERE.

Colossus and Wolverine are on a mission to capture a vampire.  Any one will do but they've decided to take a Charniputra Sect Vamp.  These guys are the gargoyle-looking ones with wings that wouldn't be able to walk around with humans unseen even if they could fit into a fedora and trenchcoat.  This guy also has one of those swanky light-bending gadgets so when Piotr punches the beast out the window, the vampire doesn't burst into flames.  This is probably good because they ARE trying to catch a live one.

The Charniputra flies lazily over the roofs of San Fransisco which is a perfect setup for a classic fastball special.  Unfortunately, Colossus isn't all that good at aiming these days (or the Charniputra isn't flying as lazily as they believed and simply flew out of the way) and Logan smashes right into one of those roof water reservoirs.  The point is, the veteran X-Men are having trouble bagging a vampire and the only logical solution is to deliver some lightning on the situation.

Enter Storm.  Ororo doesn't spend a lot of time with her husband in Wakanda anymore and after what I've heard about Doomwar, I can't blame her.  She lights up the Charniputra and sends it to the ground.  It's just up to Wolverine and Colossus to do the retrieval.  This is made more difficult because the vampire wasn't knocked unconscious and has now escaped to the sewers.  Nothing can be easy, can it?

The two X-Men head underground where we know they'll encounter all manner of vampire enemies.  On their way down, Logan grumbles about doing all this running around catching live Vamps when they should be bringing this fight to Dracula.  Piotr mentions that a live sample could help cure Jubilee.  Anyway, there are a lot of questions and having a vampire to examine might answer them.  OK, they're to the bottom now and all they need do is open those two large wooden doors to earn their prize.

And... vamp fight.

It's a nest of Charniputra and they only need one alive.  If only ONE of them had some holy water or a wooden stake.  Sure, Wolverine's claws can do a number of decapitations but they still could have been better prepared for this.  Fortunately, an expert is on the case.

Blade the Vampire Slayer.  He comes in strong with a Vampire Skull bola and finishes things off with his sword.  After clearing the room of trouble, the X-Men compare notes with Blade.  Right now, there's only time to tell the Vampire Hunter that they need one of these beasts alive for study, for Blade to let them know about the light bending amulets, and for the bomb of Dracula's death to be dropped.

Back on Utopia, Jubilee continues to get tested for whatever vampiric condition she's acquired.  It's starting to piss her off but that'll happen when doctors keep on poking you with needles without giving you any indication that a solution to your problem is being reached.  Doctor Nemesis asks her to unload about her feelings and Jubes tells him that she's feels drawn to the night.  When Nemesis tells her to fight it, she says she doesn't really want to.

So things are getting bad and maybe the former mutant should be restrained for her own good but no-one even tries locking a door.  Nemesis just talks to his X-Club colleague, Kavita Rao, about how magic is one of those things that sucks for someone who believes in straight logic.  Nemesis continues on into an X-Men meeting where Cyclops lets everyone know that Dracula is dead.

We switch scenes to join the current Lord of the Vampires, Xarus, who is sitting on his cool Vampire throne in whatever lair he's chosen for the evening.  With him is the leader of the Siren Sect, Alyssa.  One of the many members of the Mythos Sect, Dominic (Not Bradley who've we've already met), enters with a prize: a girl who was hit with the manufactured virus last issue.  She's being dragged around by a leash and is in her underwear.  She's also dinner.

Xarus explains his plans to us which is probably a re-explanation for everyone else in the room.  First, Jubilee will come to him when the virus takes a greater hold.  Then Wolverine will track Jubes down and be turned.  After that, the rest of the mutants will follow or be killed.  With all those powers on their side, the vampires will make a push to rule the world.  It's a perfect plan.  With it explained to all of us, Dominic lets the Lord of Vampires know that Kreiger Sect is almost under control and every other Sect is under Xarus's authority.  With that, Xarus enjoys his meal.

On Utopia, Jubilee makes her play for freedom.  She knocked out Kavita Rao before making her escape in on a jet ski.  Now, she heads out into the night to find... something.  She'll know it when she sees it.  All of this could have been prevented with a good old fashioned cage.

Also on Utopia, Blade fills the X-Men in on the threat that faces them.  A Lord of the Vampires that has brought all the various vampire sects under his rule and they are now making their play at world domination.  Things look bleak and they're about to look worse.  Madison Jeffries has loaded vampire specs into Cerebro to find out how many are in the San Fran area code.  The whole map lights up red.

Jubilee is in San Fransisco right now, pulled to a stately manor by whatever virus is affecting her system.  It draws her right to Xarus who starts his unnesessary speech about how becoming a vampire will make her better all over.  Jubilee doesn't need to hear it.  With the help of the virus, Xarus is preaching to the converted.

The X-Men on Utopia are faced with another invasion scenario.  They have some options here.  Scott could place a call to Steve Rogers, for example, and get the help of the nation's super-heroes.  They could start prepping defenses and maybe collecting holy water; draw everyone to their island and go into defensive until more help arrives.  Instead, they decide to bring Dracula back to life.
Try Harder.

After some arguments, even Wolverine believes this is the best plan they can come up with.  Logan probably could have at least pretended he's on two Avengers rosters but, nah, let's bring back Drac.  Even though Drac might just kill his son and finish up with the plan... yeah... this could end REAL well.

These scenes are cut with Jubilee listening to Xarus babble on about how getting turned into a vampire works.  Seriously.  He just likes to talk and talk and talk.  I can relate.

Cyclops sets his team to retrieving the body of Dracula.  Namor needs to get the head from the Atlantean Sect of vamps.  Storm is in charge of taking the body off the mystic Greek island (which is where both pieces were placed according the events in Heroic Age: The Death of Dracula).

We end with Xarus finally taking a bite into Jubilee's neck.  I hope no Jubilation Lee fans had to see their favorite character getting turned into a vampire.

I mean, there's probably only one but it's gotta hurt.


Daredevil #509Daredevil #509
Writers: Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston
Artist: Roberto De La Torre

In this story:

• Elektra and Master Izo break into Jigoku-Chu Castle in Japan and listen in on a very special conversation between the Snakeroot Clan Leaders and White Tiger.

• White Tiger's Hand ninjas try and fail to assassinate Foggy Nelson and Dakota North before the timely arrival of Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

• There is also an exploding car.

• Izo presumably sacrifices his life to help Elektra escape.  Probably not a permanent death.

• Typhoid Mary joins Matt Murdock even though Daredevil isn't so sure he wants her.

• Cage and Rand join some other heroes as they engage in their super-hero intervention in Shadowland, leaving Foggy and Dakota to hole up in a police safehouse.

• Shadowland explodes.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Jigoku-Chu Castle is the headquarters of the Hand in Japan.  It's also the home of the leaders of the Snakeroot Clan, the group responsible for corrupting the ancient order of freedomfighters and changing them into a ninja death cult.  It is to this fortress that Master Izo and Elektra have entered to learn the secrets of the Snakeroot Clan.  It's a lot easy to break into than it used to be.  At least, that's what Elektra thinks.  She used to rule the Hand and finds security to be downgraded since her time.

The two enter through a sewer portal and sneak up ont he Snakeroot Clan leaders just in time to get the inside scoop on their entire plans.  The leaders are talking to White Tiger through some magical communication device and she's filling them in on the fall of Matt Murdock and his corruption to the Hand.  This works right into the Snakeroot Clan's master plan so they are stoked.  They do note that the scroll to summon Ghost Rider has been stolen from another fortress but they aren't that concerned.  Ghost Rider can't stand up to their god, after all.

When they tell White Tiger to start killing Matt Murdock's friends, she tells them that such matters are already under way.

This all started last issue.  Dakota North and Foggy Nelson were driving away from Shadowland when they were attacked by ninjas.  Their car was overturned.  Foggy is conscious.  Dakota is outmanned.  She warns the ninjas that her friends are powerful but the Hand aren't worried.  Those friends aren't here, after all.  Dakota takes a throwing star to her shoulder but gets a few shots in on one of the ninjas.  Another one moves in for a killing stroke but gets blown away when the overturned car explodes.

More bullets are fired on the remaining ninjas.  The Hand doesn't look like they're keeping their cool during this fight.  Still, they've got numbers on their side.  One is bound to get in a good face kick.  Yep.  There it is.  The Hand is about to cut open Dakota's throat when the cavalry finally shows up.
At least show us your sweet tat.

Iron Fist's hair is longer than it is anywhere else but that's Danny Rand.  Maybe he's wearing a wig.  Anyway, Cage is invulnerable and super-strong.  Iron Fist is a better fighter than any of these guys.  The battle is quick and decisive.

With some random ninjas killed, Cage and Rand look after Foggy and Dakota.  Both survived the fight with only the most minor of injuries but Danny still recomends a doctor visit just to make sure no-one has a concussion.  There's still a larger question of why Hand ninja just tried to kill Matt Murdock's best friend.  Iron Fist and Luke Cage decide that there's only one thing to do.  It's time for a super-hero intervention.

And, yes, most of this issue takes place BEFORE Shadowland #2.  The two New Avengers haven't brought together their friends for their meeting with Daredevil just yet.  Ghost Rider hasn't been summoned (or he's being summoned DURING these scenes-- time is tricky).  Moon Knight may just be getting picked up by the Hand for bashing in his own cab.

In Japan, Elektra and Master Izo make their escape from Jigoku-Chu Castle.  Their flight doesn't go unnoticed.  Even though both are master ninja and stuff, the Hand is employing magic which is hard to hide from.  Arrows buzz past the two and they make their way over a ravine using an fallen tree.  Izo makes the decision to hold off the Hand to secure Elektra's escape.  Nacchios isn't happy about this but she's not given much of a choice.  When the Hand start crossing the tree bridge, Master Izo cuts it in two.  This would be awesome but he's still on the bridge.  After balancing for a moment, he too falls into the ravine and almost certain....

Yeah, we'll see him in an issue or two.

Back in Shadowland, the Hand are about to host a very interesting visitor.  It's Typhoid Mary!  The last time we saw her, she was working with the Initiative Black Squad.  Through their work, she was able to combine her mind back into something workable.  Unfortunately, their last mission in Madripoor split that brain back into fragments and left one angry personality in charge.

When the Hand try to stop her approach, she simply tells them that she's here to talk to Daredevil.  When they reach out to physically stop her, she starts burning people.  This doesn't really look like it's on purpose so much as a blind panic manuever.  Daredevil comes in to stop the fight and talk to his ex.

Man, Matt has some crazy exes.

Typhoid Mary explains her current situation to the Man Without Fear.  It's a bit different than my retelling.  She tells Matt that throught the Initiative program she's been effectively cured of her multiple personality disorder.  His senses pick this out as the truth so maybe something actually stuck that didn't show up on panel.  She wants to work with the Hand to make the world a better place and doesn't see much other choice.  With Osborn out of power and the Initiative shut down, she's out of options.

During this conversation, a random ninja shows up telling Matt that he has other guests.  This is where that Super-hero Intervention from Shadowland #2 shows up.  Matt orders the newcomers to be brought to his throneroom with lots of Hand to watch them.  Typhoid Mary isn't joining him for this audience.  The heroes would have a fit.  She's led to her new room where a Hand ninja is to watch her very closely.

Foggy and Dakota aren't part of the Super-hero Intervention because they aren't super powered.  Well... neither are most of those in the Intervention Squad but let's not split hairs.  For now, Nelson and North are holed up in an NYPD safe house in Hell's Kitchen.  Since they are being attacked by the Hand for unknown reasons, this is the safest place for them to be.  Also, the police aren't welcome in Hell's Kitchen so they don't have a need for it.

While Foggy goes over how he should BE at this meeting with Daredevil, part of Shadowland explodes.  That means the attack from Shadowland #2 is in full effect.


Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1
Writer: Antony Johnston
Penciler: Wellington Alves

In this story:

• The Shroud discovers a murder scene where it looks like the Hand are involved but his gut tells him something else is going on.

• The police break in on a bust and catch the Shroud looming over the body.  Shroud makes a quick getaway using his dark force powers.

• Misty Knight deals with a low level gangster with a chip on his shoulder.

• Silver Sable hunts down Sergey Bulovic for Interpol.

• Misty checks in on the NYPD 12th Precinct to find information on these supposed Hand murders.

• Silver gets into a strip club with the help of her boobs and heads up to Bulovic's office only to find the man already killed with a Hand sign on his head.

• The police make a bust of the place which, y'know, is too convenient for my tastes.  Sable makes her way out of the window.

• The Shroud fights Paladin!

Murder.  It's nothing new for New York but having a pack of ninjas running around makes it a whole other ball game.  Take, for example, Mikey Fortunado's untimely death.  Mikey was a low level mobster who never found his way into jail for any of his atrocities.  His death isn't in Hell's Kitchen but he still bears the mark of the Hand on his face.  Fortunado was also killed with edged weapons.  It looks like a Hand job (yes, laugh at the pun) but something about the scene bothers the Shroud.

The Shroud is another low level character but he has chosen vigilantism as his cause.  He's a lot like Daredevil in the fact that he's blind and street level.  At the same time, he "sees" with the help of his Darkforce powers which puts his abilities on a different level all together.

Something about this crime scene bugs him and he's unwilling to take the murder as simply a Hand hit on a mobster who had previously escaped justice.  He also notices that someone is watching him investigate from across the street but his Darkforce abilities aren't able to get a better reading on the watcher because of the distance.  Before the Shroud can work the crime through, the police show up.

So it looks bad for our vigilante.  Shroud looks guilty of murder and isn't going to stick around long enough to clear his name.  It wouldn't be the first time people thought he was a criminal.  He uses his powers to blind the policemen and flies out the window.  One officer tries shooting him but Shroud is too far away.  The hero thinks to check on his peeping tom but that guy is also gone.  Strange things happening in this neighborhood.

The next day at Knightwing Restorations, Misty Knight is meeting Mikey's brother, Bobby.  Bobby believes his brother was killed by the Hand on Daredevil's orders and demands that Misty do something about it.  He also asks where Misty's partner is and Knight has to do her best to cover for Colleen Wing's absence.  The two aren't really speaking anymore after the Heroes for Hire fiasco.  No-one should be talking after how that went down.

Bobby Fortunado isn't a charmer.  He's kind of a moron.  He wants a message delivered that Daredevil can't get away with killing his brother.  Now, brothers are allowed to go crazy with grief especially one day after the murder went down but Bobby's message would be suicide.  When Misty refuses to work for him, Fortunado makes some vague threats about her unborn baby and Knight is forced to raise her cyborg arm and tell the gangster all about her recent upgrades.  That arm can direct a vibrational force that can break apart Adamantium.  Don't ask.  Just don't get hit by it.

Bobby leaves.  Misty can't believe DD is capable of ordering murders, even with the recent death of Bullseye in her mind. That was one thing.  This is quite another.  The Shroud shows up to confirm that such a thing could have happened.  He tells her about the death of Mikey Fortunado and hints that maybe this is something the private detective should be looking into more closely.

In another plot, Silver Sable is stalking the streets of New York looking for her bounty.  Again, we're not in Shadowland but that feudal castle headquarters features in the background every so often.  You may want a primer on who Silver Sable is.  Here we go.  In a nutshell, Sable is an international bounty hunter from the made up country of Symkaria.  In fact, she is part of the ruling family of that country and her former operations as leader of the Wild Pack (a mercenary group) helped fund the government.  You'll notice she's currently working alone.  It seems the political climate in her home country has made her an illegal alien with no diplomatic immunity.  It's a rough life.

She is looking for one Sergey Bulovic.  To find him, she's looking for a dude named Ten-Spot Tyler.  When she asks a group of thugs hanging around an apartment building, they just see a pretty woman out too late at night with a Russian accent (it's actually Symkarian but you can forgive them for not placing it in a fake country) and decide it's creepy party time.  Fortunately for us all, Silver Sable can kick a lot of @$ and it's all fun to watch.  When the fights done and the thugs are taught a valuable lesson on dealing with the ladies, Sable offers money to the one cowering in the corner.  This is Ten-Spot Tyler.  He's gonna lead her to Silver's bounty.

Sable's not the only character on a mission.  Misty decides to take Shroud up on investigating this case.  First stop, her old Precinct, number 12, to talk up some old friends and get some information on this whole shebang.  She meets up with Lieutenant Rafael Scarfe and the new rookie on the force, Dwyer.  It seems that Fortunado isn't the only Hand murder scene they've been looking into.  In fact, Shadowland is making a lot of work for them all.
Obvious plot is obvious.

And, yes, this is such an obvious plot that I'm really hoping there's a surpising twist that I don't see coming because OF COURSE the police are offing unwelcome people in their neighborhood.  Guys like Fortunado have never seen jail time even though they are obviously gangsters doing dirty deeds.  When a gift horse like the Hand comes rolling into your city, the Police are going to close some cases the easy way and show up to collect the bodies.  They've got a scapegoat that will never tell their case in court.

Some other names that'll probably show up later on are Detective Thomas and Goldman.  We saw all of these guys when they busted in to find the Shroud looming over the dead body of Mikey Fortunado.  These to have been handling some of these Hand murder cases.  At least they're easy to close up so that they can "get on to other cases."  When Misty asks to see the body, Rafe refuses.  This makes sense, of course.  You just don't let civilians go waltzing around your morg even if they're former police officers.

Misty might have argued her way in but she gets a call from her boyfriend about other matters.  They're setting up that Super-hero Intervention that takes place in Shadowland #2 and he wants to know if she's in.  That'd be a yes.  Misty asks if Colleen Wing will be there and there's some uncomfortable talk from Iron Fist about how he didn't know how Misty would feel about that.  Bad blood that no one wants to deal with.  Misty tells Rand to call her former partner and then gets to the important business of picking out a baby name for their unborn kid.

In the Silver Sable plot, Sable is dressed up as a Russian girl brand new to our country.  She's trying to get passage into a Strip Club partly owned by Sergei Bolovic and she decides the easiest way is the front door.  The Bouncer isn't about to let her in but she plays that Russian newcomer card and says she's looking for a job as a dancer.  She says she'll give this guy a private performance and lets the Bouncer get a good look at her rack.  And she's in.

The Bouncer brings her to the backroom where he doesn't even get a show.  He just gets knocked the hell out.  With that business dealt with Silver figures out the most likely place for Bolovic's office and heads on up the stairs.  The guards up top don't even question her story about a new dancer coming in to sign contracts.  They certainly don't search her for a gun.

Sable enters the room with her gun drawn but it's not necessary.  The "Hand" have already made their presence felt and done some assassinating.  They even left their calling card on Bolovic's head.  It looks like Silver's short a bounty which is bad news for her.

Even more bad news hits when the police bust the place.  Right.  They got here too quick for it to be a coincidence.  At least none of the policemen we saw in the 12th Precinct are in this bust.  That would be too spot on.  Anyway, Silver Sable can't afford to go to jail.  She's an illegal immigrant, after all.  She is about to jump out the window when she sees the explosion over at Shadowland.  Stuff is going down that she's not even a part of.  After a good look, she leaps out of the window and on to the street, making good her escape.

The Shroud is busy on his own investigations.  He's decided to keep an eye on Bobby Fortunado and he's realized that someone else is doing the same.  That someone fits the vague description of whoever was watching him outside of Mikey Fortunado's place.  Shroud only has time to turn around before that man fires at him.  The Shroud goes down and the shooter leaps from his perch right to the hero's location.

It's everyone's favorite mercenary, Paladin!  Things're getting interesting!


Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #2Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #2
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Dale Eaglesham

In this story:

• Steve hears Jacob Erskine's last words as bullets fly over their head.

• Steve escapes security by jumping out of the window and breaking his fall with a cheap flag.

• Rogers searches out the Madripoor underground the find who made the hit but finds no information, leading him to believe it was an inside job.

• Steve Rogers asks Sharon Carter to look into the background of Myron Smith, the head of security for Nextin.

• Commander Rogers remember how he lost Cynthia Glass during WWII.

• After trailing Smith and Erskine's wife back to her place, Steve moves in to have a personal talk and kiss with Anita.

• When she runs away, Sharon calls in and lets him know some clues on Myron's identity.  Turns out it's Machinesmith.

• Machinesmith reveals that Anita Erskine is a robot and then blasts away Steve's Super-Soldier Syrum.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Professor Jacob Erskine was fatally wounded last issue but it takes him some time to die in this one.  While he's breathing his last breaths, bullets from the sniper across the street make the scene pretty crazy even though Steve and Jacob have found cover behind a desk.  Jacob tries to lead Rogers in the right direction before he can't speak anymore.  He thinks this is all Myron Smith's doing.  That's the name of his security chief.  Erskine also asks America's Top Cop to keep an eye on his wife, believing she'll be the next target.

With that said, Erskine dies in Steve's arms.

A commotion like this is sure to attract security.  Steve just has enough time to locate where the shooter would be firing from before they arrive to find Rogers right at the scene of a murder.  This is something the former Captain America just doesn't have time for and he exits, stage: window.  No, he hasn't gain the ability to fly and, yes, he's pretty far up.

Rogers grabs onto a flag hanging from a flag pole on his way to the ground.  This breaks his fall a bit but the flag tears right off so he still lands hard in a fountain.  He gets a few stares leaving the scene but no-one tries to stop him.  Just another day in Madripoor.

From the ground, he gets an even better look for the sniper's location and even sees a rifle barrel sticking out of the window.  When Rogers gets upstairs, he sees that the sniper rifle was handled by remote, hooked up to a computer and everything.

He walks back down and sees a big bold man with a beard comforting Erskine's wife, Anita.  This is Myron Smith.  While Steve needs more than just the words of a dead man to convict the head of security for Nextin, at least he has a suspect.

For the next few pages, Steve Rogers is a one man army against the Madripoor underworld.  Since it's Madripoor, it's pretty much all underworld.  He still goes all over the place looking for only on piece of information: who was contracted to kill Jacob Erskine?  After one last pretentious snob of a lowlife, Rogers learns that there was no hit floated to anyone.  That means this was probably an inside job.  Myron's looking more and more like the one who dun it.

Steve changes out of his super-hero suit at one of Wolverine's safehouses and gets a hold of his girlfriend, Sharon Carter.  Sharon is the liason for the Secret Avengers and is the girl Rogers goes to when he needs information on pretty much anything.  He sets her to work digging up information on Myron Smith.  She asks if he might need some back-up on the ground but the living legend claims this is something he has to do on his own.

We get a flashback scene where Steve remembers one of his girlfriends during the second World War.  Cynthia Glass met him when he joined the Super-Soldier Program.  They hit it off after that and when it was learned that she was a Nazi spy, she sacrificed her life to save Captain America.  This is all very interesting but the reason he's remember it is because Anita Erskine is the spitting image of Cynthia Glass.  It's drudging up all these memories.

And you have to wonder WHY she looks like an old lost love from Rogers' past.  If the killer was Myron Smith, he already has the Super-Soldier Syrum.  Why dress someone up as Cynthia?  What's the win, here?  Steve is determined to figure it out and also work out if Smith is actually the killer.  To that end, he trails Myron and Cynthia all over Madripoor until they finally leave the city and take up residence in a beachside house.

Rogers does some recon work but he can't think clearly on this.  His emotions are affecting his judgement.  He really SHOULD have taken Sharon up on that call for back-up but that's not how heroes work, is it?  If it's personal, they run headlong into danger instead of letting a cooler head prevail.

All this means is that Steve runs out to talk with Anita Erskine when he finds her walking the beach at sunset.  Alone.  The two have an awkward conversation made worse by the fact that Anita vaguely knows who he is.  I'm not talking "Hey, you look like Captain America when he publicly revealed his identity on national television and also when he was killed... on national television."  No, this is "I know you but it's like it's from a different life."  All this leads up to a kiss because Steve keeps forgetting he has a girlfriend.

Both of them realize it was a bad idea.  Steve breaks away first but Anita is feeling more out of sorts since she can't place where he knows this big guy.  Her husband just died, too so lots of emotions rolling around in that head.

When she's out of earshot, Sharon gives Steve a call to let him know what she's found out.  What she hasn't done is stuck her tongue down anyone else's throat because that would be poor form.  No, but seriously, she's found that Myron Smith doesn't really exist every record before he joined Nextin has been falsified.  Suddenly, Steve knows who he's dealing with.

Rogers enters the home to fine it unguarded.  He walks into Myron's office and tells him to turn his little doll off.  That's right, Anita Erskine was a robot made to look like Cynthia Glass.  This is compounded by the fact that she believed herself to be real.  Myron Smith removes her face and tears fall down the robot's face.  He just did it because he's got a sick sense of humor.

He's also a robot himself by the name of Machinesmith.
At least fill in your crazy beard or something.

There aren't a lot of recent Machinesmith stories out there.  He showed up in Iron Man during the Crossing and also in Captain America soon after Mark Waid took over the book back in 96.  It looks like he's been in a Thunderbolts story as well as New Warriors since that time.  Machinesmith has that odd look from the image above and is basically unkillable.  He can inhabit various machines, replicate into different bodies, control machanical devices, etc, etc, etc.  Suddenly, the death that started this whole game moving last issue as well as the remote controlled sniper nest start making sense.  Also: "Myron Smith."  It's like hiding in plain sight.

Which is what Machinesmith was doing.  He wasn't hiding.  He was baiting Steve into a trap.  Now, it's sprung.

The doors shut, trapping Rogers in the room.  Steve still thinks this is a physical fight but it isn't.  Multiple beams are fired at Commander Rogers.  They aren't set to kill him.  They're set to deactivate the Super-Soldier Syrum.  Those skin tight clothes look pretty baggy all of a sudden.


The Invincible Iron Man #29The Invincible Iron Man #29
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

In this story:

• Pepper Potts is released from ST. Anthony Medical Center to the welcoming arms of her closest friends... even though Tony and Maria are more interested in fighting each other.

• The Hammer Girls set up their Detroit Steel Wingman program with the beta test done by today's biggest nerds.  We're probably all in the room.

• Pepper is introduced to her new armored suit and takes it for a spin.

• Stark Resilient is set up in their new facilities and start work on their first two RT cars.

• General Babbage chews out James Rhodes at the Pentagon.

• The Stark Resilient Gala begins!  Tony is dressed in a terrible tuxedo.

• Sasha Hammer and her mother show up and Stark leaves with her.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

It was elective surgery so no-one should be worried about Pepper Potts being in St. Anthony Medical Center.  She just wanted an RT Unit installed in her chest and who can blame her?  I would love a glowing battery implanted near my heart.  Well, it's time for her to get out of this hospital and into some more comfortable clothes.  To walk her out of this place are her closest living friends in the world.  Jim Rhodes is there and he's already talking to her and expressing how good it is that she's going to be back to work soon.

Tony Stark is still in the lobby and, for some reason, Maria Hill is also there.  I guess the two bonded during World's Most Wanted and Stark Disassembled.  Right now, she and Tony are fighting.  Why?  Because that's what they do.  I thought they might have been done with this after last issue but... not so much.  They're still ready to rip each other's throats out.  Maria's upset with Tony for basically doing whatever he feels like and Tony is tired of being pushed into a wall by everyone.

And, really, if you're reading the title, you've probably noticed that the Tony Stark that came out of Stark Disassembled is not the same guy that went into it.  It's the subtle edges but this is a Tony Stark more modeled after Robert Downey Jr. portrayal of Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies than after the Marvel Universe Tony Stark.  It's the little things like how this Tony Stark doesn't seem to remember how to talk to the press or, hell, run a frickin' company.  He's running off trying to solve problems without all of the information and seems more on the suicidal course of Iron Man 2 Tony Stark than the man who ran some of the most honest and financially successful businesses in the world.  It all comes down to this Tony blanking out his mind and restoring from a previous save.  Things haven't fallen into place like they should.

And, really, it'll be fun for a while but if the original Tony Stark doesn't surface after a while, I really am not looking forward to scatterbrained-yet-brilliant Tony being in the driver's seat forever.  It works in the movies but it's like watching a train wreck here.  In slow motion.

So, after Hill and Stark finish their argument, they join Rhodey in Pepper's room to welcome her back to the land of non-hospitals.  Pepper's ready to get dressed but she's not talking street clothes.  She wants back in her Rescue suit.

Meanwhile, Justine Hammer is introducing Lt. Johnson to Detroit Steel's Wingman.  Doug has put a lot on the line for the Detroit Steel program and he was wondering if the Hammer girls would really be able to deliver on their end.  These Wingmen look like they'll be able to do the job.  Each is a remote piloted attack drone set to help Detroit Steel complete his objective.  The kicker is who they got to be the pilots.

Recruiting for the beta test is Sasha Hammer who is decked out in a skimpy dress for the pilots' enjoyment.  This beta test is being run by nerds.  You are probably in the crowd.  It seems like this geek crowd KNOWS they are piloting actual military weapons which won't be the case when the beta is over.  The piloting duties are simple.  You download the Wingman app to your cell phone and them take control of your own bird of prey.  Your mission is to take out secondary targets for Detroit Steel.  Basically, clearing the field.  It looks like a game and tastes like a game but the results are very real.  I mean, in the COMIC BOOK world they're real.  Not in our world.  That would just be crazy.

The greatest thing about having it a game is that Hammer doesn't need to pay anyone.  They get pilots for free because it's a game people will play for fun.  Insidious.

Tony and Pepper are heading on over to Pep's new armor but there are other things being handled.  There's mention of an investor party happening in a few days.  A big gala.  Tony is concerned about this because he's suddenly uncomfortable at parties.  Pepper isn't worried.  Her boss is damn good at these kind of affairs and she's certain Stark will rise to the occasion and not take off with the first floozy he meets.

OK, with that said, we can meet the brand new Rescue suit.  It's a lot like the last suit but with some of the brand new Iron Man suit charm.  It even has JARVIS back inside it so it feels like coming home for Pepper Potts. She puts the suit on and takes it out for a ride.  Once around the world.

Tony Stark moves on to other things while his girl friday is out exploring.  His new team of car makers is taking up residence in the Wyche Automotive Facility in Seattle.  This is the brand new home to Stark Resilient.  They check out the factory and Stark demonstrates his eye upgrades.  He can now zoom in on things like a living binocular.  At least he's still brilliant, right?

Carson Wyche, the owner of the facilities and business partner of Tony Stark, welcomes them to the place and gives them a stroll around the factory.  The place has the ability to produce 50 cars a month if it were running at full speed.  Stark tells them they only need to make two.

Weep for Colonel James Rhodes.  He is the unfortunate individual who has to meet with General Babbage and try to give him a way out of what Hammer Industries is trying to do.  Y'see, Stark knows that Justine Hammer and her daughter are up to no good but they aren't really here to help anymore than Tony's original offer.  The Pentagon can use Rhodey as War Machine.  That's... pretty much it.  Stark isn't going to make any weapons.  Since General Babbage was waiting on this meeting JUST to turn down whatever Stark offered, whether Tony would actually relent to making weapons or not, he's got that grumpy look on his face of someone who didn't get to tell Stark off to his face.  Any way you look a it, this is an uncomfortable conversation.

Jim Rhodes leaves the room with slumped shoulders.  Not his best day ever.

He catches up to Tony Stark at the Stark Resilient Gala which is being held at the Space Needle in Seattle.  This is bad news, I guess but Tony is more worried at the fact that he can't remember how to tie a tie.  Rhodey moves in to do the work for his boss as Stark frets over his brain damage not being isolated to forgetting recent events.  Heck, not remembering how to tie a tie could be the tip of the iceberg on things he can't do anymore.  It's something that he should seriously look into but he has a Gala to attend today.  Wyche comes in to see the two uncomfortably close to each other and fumbles through telling them that the thing is started.

Y'know, the word for this issue is: uncomfortable.  It's not really funny stuff.  It's just awkward and we're not done yet.

Tony welcomes his guests and potential investors to his party.
tackytackytackytackytackytackytacky

Yes.  Don't let anyone lie to you.  That tux is tacky.  Someone should have told him to wear something that looked less like a clown suit.  I blame the brain damage.

Pepper and Ms. Arbogast arrive a bit late but they're well received as they walk across the room.  Tony and Pepper get close and try to give the other a kiss but their repulsors won't allow them to get close enough to seal the deal.  Electromagnets, who knew?  Pepper compliments Tony's tux but no one believes it.  After they're done not kissing, Pepper notices the arrival of Justine and Sasha Hammer.  Yeah, they were invited, too.

Tony welcomes them to the Gala, giving Sasha a kiss on the hand even as the Iron Man armor comes out to protect him from her vile touch.  I'm betting that was on instinct.  He compliments her looks and her intelligence and then... he takes off with her.  Yeah, that look of surprise and... well, Salvador didn't nail the look on Pepper's face, actually.  Sometimes, Larroca can draw a good Pepper Potts and sometimes she looks mentally challenged.  This time she looks pretty mentally challenged but we'll pretend that she's feeling betrayed as her guy leaves with another woman.

We catch Tony and Sasha as they get into a sportscar and hit the streets of Seattle.


The X-Men #4The X-Men #4
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• The X-Men engage in Danger Room activities before enjoying delicious birthday cake.

• We meet the Brotherhood of Evil mutants who hardly get along with each other.

• Magneto steals an old ex-convoy ship!  Angel almost discovers him but thinks they're just doing war games in the area.

• Magneto rejoins his Brotherhood and recalls the way he got Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to join him.

• After a telepathic call from Professor X, Magneto and his Evil Mutants conquer the South American nation of Santo Marco.

• The X-Men sneak into the country and attempt to overthrow the new leader.

• The team fights through Magneto's fortress but doesn't actually get anywhere.

• Magneto arms two bombs.  One to take out the X-Men and the other to destroy the entire nation.

• Xavier sacrifices himself to save his X-Men from the first bomb.

• Quicksilver disarms the second one before escaping with the Evil Mutants.

• The Brotherhood escapes while the X-Men tend to Professor X

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was a motley crew of misfits serving their leader, Magneto.  The biggest problem with the team was that two of its members were decidedly NOT evil.  Quicksilver and his twin sister, the Scarlet Witch, may have had no love for humanity but they also didn't mean it any real harm.  They were forced on the team to repay a debt but fought against Magneto whenever they could.  They really couldn't stand the villain and their two teammates grated on their nerves as well.  Toad was a snivelling sychophant while Mastermind was just creepy.  Only the honor of a debt kept them in place before they finally quit to join the Avengers.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  It was March 1964 (or thereabouts).  Fantastic Four #24 was on the stands.  Amazing Spider-Man was hitting it's tenth issue.  Captain America was being revived in Avengers #4.  It was obviously a time for Evil Mutants.

It was also time for some Danger Room training.  This was a staple of the X-Men by this point.  Each issue, the team would face a number of death traps and would usually end the session soaked in water or on fire.  Maybe they were shot with bullets.  That Xavier sure liked his death traps.  Anyway, the victim... um, I mean, the studen to face the Danger Room first was Beast.  Hank McCoy had finally gotten his ten dollar words into his vocabulary at this point but it wasn't atypical to see him talking like a regular teenager.  After avoiding some near death experiences, Beast leaps for a fake rope and plunges into a pool of water.  That's one down.

Iceman is up next.  He gets bashed around the room after his iceslide is broken, avoids a heating grate, and sends a 75 pound weight sliding back towards Beast.  He's beaten by a burst of steam which melts his snow form off and leaves him in a pool of water.  Angel thinks he's up next and clears the danger floor by flying the melted Iceman up into the air and catching Bobby's underwear on a hook on the wall.

It turns out he isn't up next, though, and that was kind of mean.  Prof X orders Marvel Girl to bring the youngest X-Man back down to earth.  Jean's next challenge is perhaps the most deadly of all.  Xavier makes her open a box and remove what's inside.  I turns out to be a birthday cake.  It's celebration time!  The X-Men class is one year old even though they've only had four issues!

As our team of heroes settles in for some cake, another group of mutants is eating their meal as well.  This is the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  Toad!  Quicksilver!  Scarlet Witch!  Mastermind!  It is a rough looking quartet.  They are hardly friends, either.  Toad eats too loudly and gets on Pietro's nerves.  Mastermind flirts too much with Wanda.  Only the two twins get along and you can tell those two don't belong with this group just by their attitudes.  Heck, there's almost a fight to the death that breaks out between Mastermind and Quicksilver but they're held back when Toad mentions their master.  Where is that guy, anyway?

Magneto!  He's actually procuring an ex-convoy ship with deck guns that was about to be sold to the highest bidder.  Magneto has super-powers so he gets to keep the ship.  This is Magneto's second appearance.  For issues 2 & 3, the X-Men actually fought other Evil Mutan

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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About the Author - SuperginraiX


SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.

 


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