We're back with one large week of fun and excitement.
Today, we check out Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #1, Shadowland: Power Man #1, The New Avengers #3, Secret Avengers #4, Avengers Academy #3, Thunderbolts #147, Age of Heroes #4, Atlas #4, Uncanny X-Men #527, New Mutants #16 and Blast to the Past for Daredevil #1. Enjoy and spread the word!
Welcome to Super Reads Iron Fist and Luke Cage, where nearly every title has an appearance or something to do with Iron Fist and Luke Cage. It was a fun week.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege? Check no further than this link right HERE.
First up, Colleen Wing flies solo dealing with Shadowland.
Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #1
Writer: Jason Henderson
Artist: Ivan Rodriguez
In this issue:
• Colleen Wing tries to break a bunch of foreign women out of a prostitution/enslavement thing but is stopped by the police.
• She returns home frustrated and lets one of her neighbors into the apartment: Tig.
• Tig just got a job as an office assistant in Councilman Shake's office. She's celebrating with yogurt.
• That night, Hand ninjas break into Colleen's apartment and send her a message hinting at information on her mother.
• Wing heads off to Shadowland to meet with Daredevil and meets up with her old partner, Misty Knight. They argue a lot.
• After fighting the Hand for a while, White Tiger leads Colleen to Matt Murdock.
• Matt tells her a bit of the Secret Origin of her mother and then offers her a position leading a Hand strike team called The Nail.
You've just picked up a solo title for Colleen Wing under the auspicious title "Daughters of the Shadow." Congratulations! Now, you might want to know who Colleen actually IS.
Here's your primer. Colleen Wing is the former partner of Misty Knight. Together, they formed the investigative duo behind Knightwing Restorations. Colleen first appeared in the pages of Marvel Premiere when Iron Fist was soloing the book. She later met Misty and even later than that they all hooked up with Luke Cage to help clear his name of some false charges. Misty and Colleen worked together for a long time before finally getting their first real spotlight in Daughters of the Dragon. That led to the wholly unremarkable ongoing, Heroes for Hire; where Misty and Colleen were joined by some questionable characters tracking down unregistered villains during and after the Civil War. You'll remember that Luke Cage and Iron Fist were on the other side during that conflict. I only made if a few issues into the series but apparently it was so bad that it caused Colleen and Misty to break up. They've worked together since, usually helping out Iron Fist, but they are no longer on friendly terms.
It's also of note that Colleen considers herself a SAMURAI. Not a ninja. Her granddad trained her as a samurai and even though she's inherited some of Iron Fist's fighting moves (he's also not a ninja), she still follows some version of the samurai code. You know. The one that makes you dress in a skin tight, white jumpsuit and sneakers.
This issue takes place after the events of Shadowland #2. Since that issue ended in a cliffhanger, that means it also takes place after some events from Shadowland #3. We find Colleen working alone once more. Wing is busy raiding a massage parlor known as "Touch of Heaven." She finds the name cynical because she hates massages or something. Anyway, the massage parlor is just a front for something far more insidious. Whoever owns Touch of Heaven is using it to bring in Japanese women under false pretenses (maybe they've promised them a husband) and then holding their passports. The women are kept in prison-like conditions and used as slaves. Colleen, who has decided that everything she does from now on can't be morally ambiguous, has broken into the complex, sliced up a few guards, and is now ready to break these women out.
She claims to have worked out a deal with the police but in reality she just gave them a phone call and expects them to be available as back-up. Colleen tells the ladies to race out of the building to a coffee shop on the corner. There, she expects the police to be waiting to help out. She's expecting a whole lot without checking things out first. It's gonna cost her.
As the women race off to presumed freedom, Wing makes her way to the prettier part of the building where she hopes to find the captured passports and some more incriminating evidence. What she actually finds are those police officers she called up for back-up. They're here to lead her out of the building. Since Colleen isn't the type to slice up the authorities, she complies.
When she's outside, she watches as the girls are led right back inside the building. Yes. The police see all this and just load the women back into their prison. You'd think they'd at least check some ID's or something but these cops are damn useless. They claim their hands are tied but this all has the look of suspicious and it's something a good detective would see and at least start an investigation instead of just contributing. Hell, the police KNOW that there's some wrong stuff happening and they just aren't interested in intervening except to help get the sword carrying vigilante out of the building.
Hell, even that part I can agree with since vigilantism is illegal but when they get her outside the building they just let her walk. It seems whoever the mysterious owner of the massage parlor is, they aren't pressing charges. They just wanted her out of the building with a warning. It's all just super frustrating. No wonder the Marvel Universe has super-powered vigilantes. The cops don't do anything but stand in the way... or in Shadowland: Blood on the Street, kill whoever they want. It's a vicious pattern.
Colleen is as frustrated as you, dear reader, and when that happens, she goes home and runs the treadmill. This makes her the only person on the planet that actually uses that treadmill they own. She has the television on, letting the three readers who picked this up accidentally with no idea what Shadowland is in on the big to-do. Since we already know that Shadowland is the Japanese feudal castle set up in Hell's Kitchen and that Daredevil and the Hand have taken over the area, I'll skip this minor detailing. What's more important is that Colleen has a phone call from one of her neighbors. This one locked herself out of her apartment which is apparently typical behavior.
Meet Tig. She's the scatterbrained neighbor of Ms. Wing. Tig just got a job so she's celebrating the only way a bunch of girls can: yogurt binge! This lady is now the brand new office assistant for Councilman Shake. Colleen recognizes the name because Shake is a tough-on-crime guy who used to protect his vending machines with a baseball bat. Now, we all know where this is going. You can't call a politician tough-on-crime in the Marvel Universe unless they're corrupt. It's one of the tell-tale signs. Though we also know that he held a bat while guarding his soda machines, that just means he liked beating the snot out of people. Give it time, people. Shake is probably not a nice guy and we haven't even met him yet.
After eating her fill of yogurt and listening to Tig's excitement over this new job opportunity, Colleen heads back to her place to rest. She wakes up at 2AM to rustling in her apartment. Ninja! She races around trying to catch them but all she can find is the stuff they disturb before the Hand are out the window. She knows that they must have left something, unless they were ninja stalkers so she cranks up the heat in her bathroom until the room is steaming and reads the message left for her on the mirror.
"Your hands don't have to be tied. Your mother's weren't."
Wing doesn't know thing one about her mother which peaks her curiousity. She mulls over this message while watching the news. It's amazing how much new information is on the news at 2 AM. They even have a segment devoted to her massage parlor raid gone wrong but at least they don't identify her. That done, it's time to make a trip over the Shadowland.
She takes her time walking to Hell's Kitchen. She doesn't want to appear too anxious for information. It seems this neighborhood doesn't do a lot of sleeping because her ex-partner, Misty Knight, is up and waiting for her on the way.
These two have a lot to talk about.
They aren't going to work out their differences tonight.
Knight tells Colleen that Shroud saw the Hand leaving her apartment. Even though Blood on the Streets isn't a typical team-up book, Misty claims to be working with Shroud on a case to bring down Daredevil. This... isn't what I see happening in the book but, y'know, different writers and all. After warnings that going to Shadowland is a bad idea and not learning WHY Colleen is going there, the two part company.
This has fouled Colleen's mood so much that she decides not to try the front door. Even though she's invited, she climbs up the side of the building and starts fighting ninjas. The Hand aren't alive like you or me (or at least me-- you could be a zombie for all I know) so they have an interesting way of dying when they're defeated even through normally non-lethal means. They disintegrate. Colleen's using her samurai sword so she's not trying for non-lethal. This is as lethal as they come.
After killing her fill of ninjas, the White Tiger stops the fight and invites Wing inside. Colleen notes that this White Tiger is a generational hero. Her uncle was the last White Tiger and she inherited the position. That's an important little mental note for where this story is going.
Daredevil is surprised to see Ms. Wing so soon after leaving the message, proving that Colleen didn't walk slow enough or argue with Misty long enough. He offers her some plum wine before getting down to business. Colleen is vocal on her lack of trust in the Man Without Fear but that doesn't stop Matt from opening up a file and reading what's inside to her.
The nitty and the gritty: Colleen's mother, Azumi Ozawa, was trained by Colleen's grandpop in the ways of the samurai. Unlike Colleen's grandfather who used his skills for the government, Azumi joined the Hand for unknown reasons. There, she revived and lead the Nail: a team of five women super-assassins. Apparently you have to be of an ancient Hand bloodline to join the group, on top of being highly skilled. The group did well for a time before "enemies of the Hand" brought each member of the Nail down one by one.
Enemies of the Hand are USUALLY good guys, just FYI.
DD is still going over notes but he invites Colleen to join the Hand and lead a brand new Nail team. He gestures and we meet her four teammates. They all look like formidable opponents and we'll learn more about them when I cover the next issue.
Shadowland: Power Man #1
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Mahmud Asrar
In this story:
• We relive the scene from Dark Reign- The List: Daredevil where Bullseye blew up the city block full of people but this time we find a survivor.
• That survivor, Victor Hernan Alvarez, starts going by Power Man and rescues a brand new prostitute from the Hand and Cottonmouth. This is a paying gig. The girl's parents are worried sick over her disappearance.
• Power Man heads home, dressing up as a pizza delivery boy on the way. It doesn't fool his mom for a minute and she demands to know where he's been.
• Danny Rand gets Shang Chi to join them for their super-hero intervention and then faces down some Hand ninja who want to stop the new Power Man.
• Luke Cage recruits Spider-Man and then continues his phone conversation with Iron Fist, learning that the new Power Man has a Craig's List ad.
• Victor checks his page and finds that he's got another paying customer.
• It turns out that the paying customer was set up by Luke Cage and Iron Fist so that they could get a meet and greet with the newbie.
• Power Man punches Luke Cage in the face.
Power Man has been three people over the years of the Marvel Universe. The first dude to wear the name was Erik Josten, whom you may better know as Atlas, formerly of the Thunderbolts. The second guy was Luke Cage. Now, we meet the third Power Man: Victor Hernan Alvarez. We aren't sure how the new kid got the powers. All we know is that it MAY be related to the incident in Dark Reign- The List: Daredevil. Remember when Bullseye took down that city block in Hell's Kitchen where protestors were demonstrating inside a condemned building? One guy walked out of that devastation and he was glowing at the time.
We skip a few weeks after that incident and change locations to a part of New York known as Purgatory. With Hell's Kitchen pretty much a no-crime area unless you're a complete moron (and, yes, many criminals are), Purgatory is a go-to place for items that would usually be purchased illegally in Daredevil's stomping grounds. For example, the sharptoothed criminal Cottonmouth is pimping his teenage prostitutes. One of these girls is named Luann and she's getting a lot of attention from one particular creep. She also looks uncomfortable with her new lot in life.
Purgatory is outside of Hell's Kitchen so it didn't have to worry about sudden ninja attack until right about now. Daredevil has plans to push his little empire outward until all of New York falls under his "protection." Suddenly, Purgatory is within the Hand's boundaries and ninjas are on the scene. The Hand make everyone scatter as fast as possible but not everyone can clear out quickly. Luann doesn't move fast enough and the Hand are on her in moments. You'd think someone like her would fall under the victims list and not be in danger but.... not so much. The Hand find that prostitutes are partly to be blamed for prostitution and decide to cut off her pretty face.
So it's a good thing that the Hand aren't the only ones looking at Purgatory this evening. The brand new Power Man is also around and he's ready to deliver a little justice to the streets. I can't really tell you what Power Man's power set is but it involves a lot of glowing and butt kicking. The Hand can't stand up to him. At one point in the fight, he uses a signature move that one of the Hand recognizes but we'll cover that later. Right now, Power Man kicks some @$ and rescues Luann from ninjas and a life of prostitution. Cottonmouth tries to protest and also claim that he's never harmed one of his ladies but none of us believe that, least of all Power Man. After a punch to Cottonmouth's mouth of sharp teeth (most of which shatter), Power Man leaves with Luann.
Now, remember up above where I said that Hand ninjas disintigrate when defeated in a fight? These three didn't do that. They are as surprised as we are and they decide to look into who this newcomer is.
Power Man delivers Luann to her parents who have been looking for her for two months. These people aren't even from around here. They're from Asheville and now it's a trip straight back there and they'll probably never speak of their visit to the big city ever again. Before they leave, they pay Power Man for his help. Our hero leaves, racing across the rooftop for his home.
Once he gets close, he switches into the gear of a pizza delivery boy and heads on up to his apartment. At this point, we find he's from a large family but not all of it is immediate. Remember how Power Man was found glowing and naked in the rubble of an apartment complex exploding? Well, that was where his family left. His mother wasn't home at the time and the two have moved in with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. It's a crowded scene but not so much that he can race off without being noticed by his mother. She's been waiting for him.
OK, first off, we get his real name during the shouting. Power Man is Victor Hernan Alvarez. The language spoken around the home is Spanish with English mixed in so we all know what's going on. My Spanish is rusty, but they're originally talking about Bullseye being killed by the double D. After Victor's mom notices him, the conversation switches over to what he's doing with all his time. When he points out his pizza delivery suit, his mother claims to have called down to his job and learns that Vic quit three weeks past. Since he's still pulling in money (more, in fact, than he'd make moving pizzas), Victor's mother has serious concerns that he's joined a gang despite his protests. It's what his father had done and she doesn't want her son following in his dad's footsteps. When the new Power Man talks casually about his father being dead, his mom sends him off to his room. Someone just got grounded for being insubordinate.
The world is composed of Chi and if you give Shang-Chi enough time, he'll talk your ear off about it and get all poetic while doing so. Right now, Shang is a guest instructor at Danny Rand's School of Thunder Dojo. This is for multiple reasons. The first is that Danny has guests come in and talk to his students, but more importantly, Iron Fist is bringing Shang-Chi in on their super-hero intervention thing that happens in Shadowland #2. Shang is easy to convince and is more concerned with the three ninjas that have shown up outside the dojo. Rand tells him not to worry and that they were spotted on arrival. Shang-Chi leaves so that Iron Fist can deal with his guest.
Everyone knows that three ninjas can't defeat Iron Fist even if they bring along Hulk Hogan. Heck, even the ninjas know. They're here to deliver a warning. One of them saw the new Power Man deliver an Iron Fist signature move, the Screaming Eagle Slap, which marks him as one of Rand's students. They procure a photo but Rand can't place the face and claims that the kid has nothing to do with him. Regardless, the warning stands. In fact, if Iron Fist doesn't join the Hand as Daredevil demands, he'll be killed as well. Somehow, Danny doesn't really take that seriously. He's more concerned about this new Power Man and what that means. It's time to place a call in to the Lukest of Cages.
Luke's doing some recruiting of his own, bringing in Spider-Man for the DD Intervention. After Peter Parker agrees to go, Luke focuses on Rand's call. There's a new Power Man in town and he's on Craig's List.
Speaking of, Victor has snuck out of his room later that night and is checking on the internet to see if he's got more paying work. It looks like there's someone in Spanish Harlem who needs the kind of help that pays. Power Man to the rescue!
The job doesn't matter too much because it's a set-up. Iron Fist and Luke Cage convinced one of the volunteers at the soup kitchen to pretend that some corrupt cops raided his place. It's all to get the new Power Man out and it's something the new guy should be aware of. His enemies could set him up just as easily. When the store owner asks why Power Man charges money for his services, Alvarez responds with "Like the man said: you do something well-- never do it for free."
Vic heads outside and right into Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
Danny wants to know what this kid is all about and how he knows moves taught only by him and the masters in K'un L'un. Luke just wants to shut down the guy stealing his bit. Power Man.... Victor wants to punch Luke Cage in the face.
So that's what he does.
The New Avengers #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
In this story:
• Victoria Hand has a fit over her lot in life until the sky opens up and rains down evil.
• Iron Fist finds himself on another plane of existance with two chatty but non-visible entities.
• The New Avengers start fighting other-dimensional invaders while the mages cut out to solve the problem from a less busy location.
• Jessica Jones flies back to the Mansion to get her baby out of harm's way and gets attacked by demon invaders. Victoria Hand saves her with a big gun.
• Danny learns that the only reason he's still walking about on this other plane is because of his cool tattoo.
• Then he learns that this whole thing is Doctor Strange's fault and caused by the Ancient One.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Have you ever had a complete mental breakdown while driving your car? You know, shouting fits as you imagine yelling at everyone that's pissed you off recently and you give them a piece of your mind while remaining in the safety of your vehicle? Ms. Victoria Hand is having one of those moments x10. She went from being Deputy Director of HAMMER to almost being charged with treason to liason to the New Avengers. You'd think that would be a good save but the New Avengers hate her. For good reason. It's like the worst job ever and she worked with Norman Osborn.
She's just resolved to show these Avengers what kind of world they should be living in when she notices the sky opening up in a very evil way. That can't be good.
This all happened when an otherly dimensional being possessed Iron Fist and transported to his otherly dimension. It wasn't taking Danny Rand so much as what was in his hand: The Eye of Agamotto. Apparently, losing the Eye forfeits the Universe. The only saving grace is that Rand is still alive and holding the Eye which means part of these otherly dimensional beings' plan hasn't gone off as well as they expected.
Iron Fist was supposed to burn up in this universe like everyone else from his plane of reality. The Eye of Agamotto should be theirs but it's not. Danny soaks in this information but he's not exactly sure what's going on. He just hopes this isn't the afterlife because it kind of sucks.
The New Avengers watch as the sky rips open and inter-dimensional demons of unknown origin spit out into Central Park. Side note: Hawkeye has disappeared. Even though he showed up in the first two issues, he's not present anymore. He probably saw this threat and decided to hang out with the other Avengers team. They have a skyscraper headquarters and a time-travel storyline going on. That may be preferable.
Doctor Voo Doo, Doctor Strange, and "Doctor" Hellstrom can't place these new demons but it's decided that this isn't the place to fight them. They must return to Voo Doo's Sanctum Sanctorum and work the problem. The New Avengers stick around to hold whatever line they're drawing in the sand today. Jessica Jones-Cage flies back to the Avengers Mansion to get Danielle Cage out of the warzone and... into New Jersey. Which is like another warzone entirely.
Wolverine mentions that the Cages should get a nanny but probably not THE Nanny because she's totally evil. Maybe Squirrel Girl is looking for employment but that isn't revealed just yet.
Nothing completely relevant happens while the Avengers fight the demons but the dialogue is awesome. Not only do you get Peter Parker and Ben Grimm berating Carol Danvers for not seeing Ghostbusters but you get the Thing trying to come up with a brand new battle cry while Spidey tells him that just isn't going to fly. It is, after all, Clobbering Time.
The real character building moment is when Jessica lands at the Mansion and finds herself surrounded by light demons. She's out of practice and isn't actually doing that great. When Victoria Hand shows up with her insanely large gun, it's a welcome save.
Jessica rushes into the Mansion to save her baby. Hand keeps blasting light demons.
In New Orleans, the Magic Squad is pouring over ancient texts, looking for what this is all about. It's a big deal, after all. This is no minor threat to their reality. This is someone who could possess Dr. Strange. The Eye of Agamotto is gone. Voo Doo bows his heads and announces his complete failure as the Sorceror Supreme. Maybe he should try out for Scientist Supreme. The requirements seem MUCH lower.
They also learn that the spirit of Jericho Drumm's brother has been taken. Bad mojo. Hellstrom asks aloud who could do all of this and is met with silence. Eventually, Strange responds with an "I don't know." But... he MIGHT know... he might at that.
Back in whatever other-worldly realm is occupied by Danny Rand, it looks like the boss of this realm is finally realizing why Iron Fist isn't a crispy critter. It's because Rand is a spiritual warrior from K'un L'un protected by the symbol of the dragon Shou-Lou burned into his chest. It's good to be an Immortal Weapon. The voice demands the Eye of Agamotto but promises to let Iron Fist live. Danny takes this and everything else he's learned here and says "No."
Rand imagines that if these two could take the Eye from him they would have done that by now. They haven't. He tells them to send him home or they'll be dealing with a world of hurt, probably dished out by Dr. Strange. Those were the wrong words to say.
Something starts swiping at Iron Fist. Danny loses bits and pieces of his costume. This guy is pissed off at the mention of Dr. Strange and gets even more riled up when Rand throws his honor into question. Strange did him wrong, that's for certain.
Stepping out of the light, the boss of this plane is revealed to be the Ancient One. Dr. Strange's old teacher!
Secret Avengers #4
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
In this story:
• Sharon Carter loses her tracking signature on the Shadow Council but Ant-Man shows up inside their base to give her a hand.
• There are a group of suicide squad nuke soldiers heading through the gate to Mars.
• Steve Rogers puts on Nova's helmet and gets super powered.
• It's Nova Rogers versus Thorned Crown Rider!
• Director Thorndrake leaves Shadow Council Citadel with the Tangled Crown, leaving Agent Fury in charge.
• Ant-Man shoots the nuke squad before they reach Mars. The explosion destroys the Shadow Council Citadel.
• Steve takes the Thorned Crown off of Richard Rider and the battle is over.
• The Thorned Crown is handed over to Archon and our heroes head on home.
• Satellite footage reveals a Nick Fury in the wreckage of Shadow Council Citadel.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The Shadow Council stole what I like to call the 'Tangled Crown' from the Secret Avengers' Quincarrier way back in the first issue. Since Sharon Carter woke up, she's been tracking them down, but the trail has just ran cold and she's running out of ideas. She's about to get a brand new lead. Ant-Man just showed up in Texas. He's supposed to be on Mars.
Not that Ant-Man knows what's going on either. He just entered a wierd portal by accident and nearly lost his lunch travelling back to earth. He's remained at ant-size so far to avoid detection and what he's learned is disturbing. The Shadow Council is readying a nuke squad for a trip to Mars to cover all of their tracks.
On Mars, the rest of the Secret Avengers still need to stop a Thorned Crown possessed Nova before they uncover some dark force that could destroy the entire universe. Steve's got a plan for that but it's not a sure thing. The plan is to put on Nova's helmet and take on a bulk of the Nova Force power, denying Richard access to those abilities and also making himself a powerful enough to maybe face down the Thorned Crown. Maybe. There's a lot of 'ifs' in this situation. For example, it's not like absorbing a bulk of the Nova Force is a good thing. It usually causes madness. Richard Rider is the exception to that, but that's only because he's had experience with it and has the help of World-Mind. Steve will just have World-Mind.
All of this is unnecessary drama. Steve is confident he'll be able to handle the power and it never becomes an issue. It's just something that Nova readers KNOW is a big deal. Now, non-readers know that as well.
Down at the dig site, possessed members of the Shadow Council have come across an eerie tentacle creature but Thorned Crown Nova demands they keep digging. The time is now. The place is here. Steve puts on the Nova helmet and Richard Rider drops from the sky. Power taken.
Steve's Nova suit is pretty basic, but instead of the traditional the sun symbols of a Centurion, Rogers has three stars. He flies down to take on the Thorned Crown wearing Nova. The rest of the team tries to stop the the diggers. Since the possessed Shadow Council members are being attacked by the glowing red tentacles, they're mostly going after that same tentacle monster who is the actual threat.
In Texas, Director Aloysius Thorndrake is preparing to leave the Shadow Council Citadel with the Tangled Crown. He's a little sentimental about the devastation that will ruin Mars since "we were BORN there, in most of the ways that matter..." Remember that scene last issue with Aloysius and his company of Confederate soldiers chasing a spy across the Texas Badlands? Looks like the Vanishing Point, the portal that leads to Mars, was located there and they took a trip to the lifeless planet... which seems to not have been as lifeless as you'd believe. He leaves Agent Fury in charge and takes off in a copter to meet "the others."
Inside the Citadel, Ant-Man is getting a pep talk from Sharon Carter through their radio connection. She's telling him to stop those nuke soldiers before they destroy the surface of Mars and all of his teammates. O'Grady is not the courageous sort but he has his moments. He's having more all of the time. Ant-Man flies into the Vanishing Point portal to play hero.
Mars is just a big battle scene with no clear victor in sight. Steve's new powers don't seem to match up well against the Thorned Crown Nova but he keeps rocketing back into the fight. The tentacle monster isn't really effected by most of the Secret Avengers' attacks but the Avengers are definitely feeling the tentacled one's powers. Only when the damaged Archon enters the fight is there any sense that the tentacle monster can be driven back. He rescues War Machine and then directs his attacks on the glowing tentacles.
Ant-Man travels through the portal but handles it much better the second time through. He starts feeling the exit on the other end and knows it's time to act. O'Grady turns around and gives the closest nuke troop a blast from his stingers. This starts a chain reaction through their ranks and they all blow up real good. They were planning on doing that anyway so it's better inside the Vanishing Point than on Mars. Ant-Man keeps flying out of the building after he exits the portal. The explosion inside the teleportal is taking down this end of the tunnel through time space. Ant-Man makes it out as the building detonates behind him.
The Shadow Council Citadel isn't saved the effect. The Vanishing Point is falling apart and this building is coming down as well.
Things start happening quickly from this point out. War Machine notices the Mars gate going up in a mushroom cloud. The Thorned Crown recognizes that the Vanishing Point has dropped. The digging rig collapses on top of the tentacle monster. Everything's going right for the good guys. When the possessed Nova drops to the ground in pain, Commander Rogers capitalizes on that and tears the Crown off Richard's head. Rider is back in his own mind. The day is saved, thanks to Ant-Man.
But it could go another way from here. Steve has the Thorned Crown in his hands and it's a persuasive thing. He looks at it and seems to be in it's thrall. Archon approaches and talks Rogers out of putting the thing on and starting the whole process over again. The former Captain America hands over the device and Archon claims that he'll send it off to where the Dark One's followers will never find it.
The oxygen that had enriched the planet's surface at the commands of the possessed Richard Rider is already starting to leave. Beast examines the fallen Nova Prime and says that Rider will be fine. His followers are not so lucky. The Shadow Council troops are like puppets with their strings cut. Without the Thorned Crown around to control them, they fall to the ground lifeless.
Ant-Man joins the party and tells them of what he's been up to but no-one believes him. It'll take a call to earth to confirm his actions this day. Everyone starts packing up for the return trip. Nova regains consciousness and talks it up with Steve who seems to have forgotten that he's still got Nova's powers. Richard sheepishly asks for his helmet back.
Nova's been out of the cosmic loop for a day or two and trouble starts adding up when you're policing all of known space. He's informed of a new emergency as soon as he puts his helmet back on and is off on an adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy before anyone even has a chance to say good-bye. Steve is thinking he might need a cosmic level hero with more time on their hands. Sharon suggests Archon but that's a negative. That guy took the Thorned Crown and was off to some remote area of the galaxy as well.
A cosmic hero will have to be recruited later. Sharon's got news. She was able to get some visual on Ant-Man's earth location by using some spy satellites. What Carter found is a whole lot of rubble and one man standing in the wreckage: a man that looks a hell of a lot like Nick Fury.
Avengers Academy #3
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Mike McKone
In this story:
• Hazmat's Secret Origin is told, where she got her powers while making out with her boyfriend. These powers were then expanded through the torturous methods of Norman Osborn.
• The kids learn about their visit to the Raft where they will be Scared Straight. This is also the name of our crossover.
• Hazmat decides that the trip to the Raft will be the perfect time to get revenge on Norman Osborn.
• The team has guest instructors as Iron Fist and Valkyrie make appearances.
• Veil is recruited into Hazmat's plans. Mettle asks to be let in.
• Speedball cuts himself because he's still relying on his altered powerset.
• The Avengers Academy arrives at the Raft and greet Luke Cage.
• After meeting some Thunderbolts, Hazmat fires off an EMP burst, disabling the Raft's power and allowing H and her gang to search out Ozzy.
• Norman greets them and says how proud he is that they've learned this much so fast. Hazmat responds with threats.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Welcome to Avengers Academy's first crossover thing! If you only enjoy T-Bolts or Avengers Academy, you don't really need to get both books in order to enjoy the other but they do cross over into each other enough that reading them together is probably more enjoyable. If you're not into that sort of thing, no worries. That's why you have me looking out for you.
Hazmat wasn't always toxic to the touch. At one time, Jenny was just your typical brilliant high school student with upper middle class parent. All that changed when she was ready to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Greg. They didn't even get that far before the trouble began. She was still fully clothed and they were just kissing though the intention was there. Greg started getting a tickle in his throat. This didn't stop them. When Greg passed into a coma, that sort of ruined the mood.
A trip to the ER later and the doctors discovered that she was toxic to everyone around her. Jenny's parents were lead out and tested for their own mild ailments and the teenager was put into quarantine. Hailing from San Francisco, Hazmat couldn't even claim to be one of the growing mutant population because, regardless of how things looked, she tested negative for the mutant gene. Instead, her parent blamed some incident at their company, Roxxon, had caused this. It makes sense. Roxxon has a legacy for this kind of thing.
Enter: Norman Osborn. Ozzy made Jenny promises he never intended to keep. He told her that he could cure her condition and get her living a normal life but instead he had his scientists make her condition that much worse. All of this makes her very angry. It also makes her pesimistic when guys like Hank Pym tell her that they'll find a cure for her condition. It's a carrot they've dangled in front of her before with no success.
We move to the present where the students of Avengers Academy go through one of their many training sessions. Finesse also makes good on kissing Reptil in front of everyone so they're square on that end. This causes mixed reactions with the other students but Hazmat's opinion is clear. She thinks Finesse lacks so much passion that the kiss actually drew emotion out of the room to make up for it. Mettle just thinks she's a bit jealous because she's stuck in a suit without human contact which might be a little too close to the mark. A fight breaks out between the two but Justice breaks it up before things get serious.
Vance has come with news about the upcoming week. The first biggie is that they'll have several guest instructors throughout the week leading up to Friday's field trip to the Raft, the Superhuman Detention Facility that hosts the Thunderbolt Program. Reptil thinks this is a sign that the faculty is beginning to trust them, but it's not. It's Scared Straight: a program where they take troubled teenagers into prison and they learn the penalty for their future wrong-doing before they commit any crimes. I don't remember having it at our school but I was never really that troubled. What we did have was a visit from a prisoner in sixth grade but it was the whole grade that attended. Maybe they thought we were all troubled. Funny story: the prisoner's tale of prison life wasn't all that terrible. Cable television, three square meals, and visits outside. Sounds pretty stable. Their Just Say No to Tobacco program was more effective with the guy coming in with a breathing hole in his neck. That'll keep you of cigarettes for life, yo.
The first guest instructor for the week is Iron Fist who teaches everyone how spirtuality will help them become better fighters. He also takes Finesse down for the count which is actually pretty awesome since we've been led to believe the girl is unbeatable. While Danny Rand takes the class to school, Hazmat learns that the Raft is home to Norman Osborn. This is... something she can work with. Suddenly, she's happier than she's been in a while. She even apologizes to Mettle for their earlier confrontation.
Meanwhile, Iron Fist does this.
Iron Fist's visit made an impression. Reptil and Mettle especially enjoyed the martial arts demonstration and have begun imitating Rand in their off-time. Next up is Valkyrie who is only meeting with the girls. Tigra believes this will help the ladies excel at typical male activities, but no-one actually told Val what to teach. She's giving them mead and telling them that they should give up on men altogether in favor of abstinance or... power tools. Tigra stops this instruction at this point and chews the Secret Avenger out for going off the rails.
While Greer yells at the Asgardian, Jenny gets a private talk in to Veil. Both of them were experimented on by Norman Osborn which means they could work together on her plan to meet Ozzy at the Raft. Hazmat tells Veil that she wants to learn how to cure her condition from the former Top Cop, but we all know this is about more than that.
On Friday, everyone gets ready to board their Quinjet and fly off to the Raft. Before they load up, Mettle pulls Hazmat aside and asks to be let in on her plan. Osborn tortured him too, and it would be good to be human again. That makes it a trio.
Speedball is holding them up so Justice goes to see what's taking Bobby so long. Vance tells his friend that there's no reason that Bobby has to go on this trip but Speedball thinks it's something he has to do. He's gotta face down the prison in order to get over his own time inside and move that much further away from his time as Penance. Justice leaves, giving Speedball a moment of privacy before the trip. When Astrovik is gone, Bobby Baldwin picks up his Penance helmet, rolls down his sleeve and cuts himself. It's not the first time. Bobby's arm is riddled with cuts.
This is because his power set is still that of Penance's and that means it relies on pain to make it work.
The Quinjet arrives at the Raft and the passengers load off to meet Luke Cage for their visit. It's raining because that's all it does at the Raft. The students are lead right through the prison and get a rundown on all the security measures that ensure that no-one will ever escape from the Raft again. I mean, until that makes a good story or we can figure out how Grizzly showed up in Deadpool when he's still a prisoner of the Raft. Cage also goes into details on how the Thunderbolt Program is being used to reform some of the most hardcore prisoners.
A few of the current T-Bolts are led out to tell the kids how bad crime is. Ghost is the first, but his lesson is basically a big dip in paranoia which is where the villain lives. Cage drags him out of the room as the students just stand there shocked.
Juggernaut is more inline with what he's supposed to be saying. Kain is a strange guy because he's one of the biggest bad guys in the X-Men lineup, but has spent most of the past decade trying to play hero. While the kids get a lesson on how prison is bad and crime is terrible, Hank Pym and his faculty have a meeting with Moonstone to learn if the students will make a good team. Why anyone even tries trusting Karla's opinion these days is beyond me. She's always trying to pull strings. Sofen makes comments that the new kids will make a great new Masters of Evil and reminds everyone that Speedball is using Penance powers before being led away.
Hazmat's plan is about to start. She drops an EMP wave on everything which knocks out the power in the building and the Raft. While everyone is scrambling to get back-up generators online and keep Juggernaut from escaping (which Marko doesn't try to do), Jenny and her cohorts smash out of the room and work their way to Norman Osborn's location. Finesse, Reptil, and Striker are left alone. It's interesting that they didn't take Reptil. He was tortured on Osborn's orders as well.
I guess he's too much the hero. Maybe.
After getting some information from Crossbones on Ozzy's location, they head down to Norman's private level where the former Green Goblin doesn't even seem that surprised to see them. He even knows that it was Hazmat that cut the power with an EMP, which no-one else knows she can do yet. He just knew she'd get there with training and motivation.
Pretense is dropped. Jenny tells Norman that they're there to kill him.
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kev Walker
In this story:
• The Thunderbolts finish their mission in New Guinea, killing lots of hopelessly mutated SHIELD and UN officials.
• The team gets back and is all checked out for contagions. The results come back clean which surprises Crossbones since he thought he got infected.
• We move ahead to after the EMP cut the power.
• Warden Walker went to secure some unrestrained prisoners and gets threatened.
• Songbird tries holding a bunch of female prisoners back.
• Man-Thing leaves his own cell.
• Juggernaut finds two prisoners beating up a guard.
• Luke Cage finds the Purple Man controlling a bunch of prisoners.
• Everyone kicks a little @$$.
• The students of Avengers Academy are chewed out for going after Norman Osborn.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The second part of the Scared Straight crossover! Are you excited? Me neither! Still, this issue is a little packet of awesome. I think you'll enjoy it.
Last issue, the Thunderbolts found themselves in New Guinea and up to their ears in mutated monsters who used to be SHIELD and UN officials. Better yet, their skin burned to the touch which put most of the Thunderbolts out of action. All that's left are Crossbones, his giant gattling gun, Man-Thing, and a Ghost-controlled MACH V. It's time to get your kill on.
Crossbones just has fun mowing down monsters without a care. Ghost is a little more apologetic for his actions but gets the job done. Man-Thing spends it's time rescuing Moonstone and carrying the lady out of the trouble. Juggernaut wakes up from his unintended nap and joins in, smashing the monsters with large rocks.
This leaves just one monster left. Crossbones gets in close so he can shoot the thing right in the head. He does this with glee in his eyes but his good mood is about to go sour when he slips on blood (or guts) and drops right into the Terrigen Crystal pit. He's hoping he didn't breath too deeply.
The Thunderbolts leave the cave. Juggernaut is ordered to bring the entrance down so that no other unfortunate soul gets inside and mutated beyond all recognition. With that, the team transports right to the infirmary so that they can get checked out.
The results come back contagion-free which comes as a shock to Crossbones. He was certain he got something in there. So are we because you don't include a scene like that and NOT have it lead somewhere. Give it time, peeps. Give it time.
Abe Jenkins is alright but will need a lot of rest before he is ready to return to active duty. The incident is wrapped up with forced showers for everyone. Moonstone is happy that Ghost is included in that since the dude reeks. You can almost smell him through the comic. No, not really.
Luke is out of the infirmary just in time to greet the Avengers Academy out in the rain. We get a quick version Hazmat setting off an EMP and then we're right to the aftermath. The Raft is on emergency protocols. John Walker, Warden of the facility, gets a quick run down on the situation from the Fixer and decides that his best action would be to corral prisoners who aren't in their cells. He knows that his guards are now without any offensive weapons since their tech guns were also shorted by the EMP. Walker comes across a group of prisoners after they've beaten up a guard or two. They look at him as easy prey. After all, the former USAgent is missing a hand and a leg.
Luke and Juggernaut leave T-Bolts Tower on a search for the missing Avengers Academy kids. Before they leave, Fixer gets the Thunderbolts Com system running so at least they can talk to each other. With those fancy comm units, they learn that Songbird is having troubles of her own. It looks like the women's quarters have gone crazy. Moonstone is in her cell enjoying the show, claiming that she can't help behind her bars even though she could easily break out. Right next door, the Troll girl bends out of her own cell.
The Man-Thing's quarters are many levels below but they weren't immune to the EMP. One of the Raft workers was down there when it went off and, unfortunately, he had opened Man-Thing's vault to check on the atmosphere. Man-Thing used to opportunity to go on a walkabout, burning the poor guy on the way out his door.
Juggernaut's search for the missing teenagers leads him into a few other prisoners torturing a guard. Kain does his best tough guy bit trying to get the two criminals to stand down but they'd rather get their fun in before the power goes back up and everything returns to normal. Juggy gets them to think about escape instead. This gets them to drop the guard and follow Marko on their way out the door.
Luke's search is equally fruitless but at least Fixer has gotten his special gear working. That means he can open up doors all over the facility again. This gets him into a sealed section whers all manner of trouble is happening. The Purple Man is in this area and has used his powers to get every other prisoner in his thrall. Luke closes the door behind him and prepares for a fight.
Things start happening very quickly at this point. John Walker leaps out of his chair and kicks the crap out of every prisoner who thought he wasn't going to be a threat. Songbird's defenses are nearly broken through when Troll Girl comes to the rescue. Luke Cage plows through a whole lot of prisoners, shouting that his name is Power Man. All of this is damn cool.
Walker gets the prisoners to back away and return to their cells. Someone gathers up his wheelchair so he can stop hopping around.
Moonstone eventually breaks out of her cell so that it looks like she was involved in assisting Melissa but Songbird knows the score. Gunna, the Troll Girl, saved her when no-one else would.
And then there's Luke Cage. He's made it through all of the Purple Man's mind-controlled prisoners but facing the man himself might prove more of a problem. Purple Man has personal history with Luke and his family. They are NOT on good terms. This is why Luke has nanites in his body specifically designed to keep out the influence of his purple nemesis.
Elsewhere, Juggernaut has broken through the outer wall. The two thugs he was leading jump right out the hole and skip to the beach. They jump in the water, right into the genetically altered jellyfish defenses. Since he already had experience with those, Kain Marko doesn't follow. He just wanted these guys to stop beating up guards. Or something. When Luke calls him to round up Man-Thing, he's all on it.
Don't expect to see the scene in this book where Man-Thing is brought back. It's not here.
After some quick aftermath action where the two jellyfish victims are gathered and the students of the Avengers Academy are chewed out for trying to go after Norman Osborn (which will give you some 'no duh' spoilers for the next issue of Avengers Academy), we move on to John Walker who counts this as a success. Sure, the power went out but no-one escaped. The Raft's rep just went up under his watch.
Age of Heroes #4
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Penciler: Shawn Moll
In this issue:
• We try to remember how Doomwar ended and recall that it was very bad for Wakanda.
• Oh yeah! All that Vibranium that powers the country and makes them a technological wonder is useless. That sucks for them.
• It looks like the King is also out of country because... well, it's a great time to leave the country in the hands of his younger sister.
• That sister, Shuri, is also the Black Panther, so it's fighting AIM off one minute and then meeting with disgruntled tribe elders the next.
• One of those tribal elders, G'tuga, decides it's a fine time to challenge the throne according to ancient custom. Shuri accepts.
• She starts off very poorly, then kicks G'tuga's @$.
• Dynamic pose.
The previous Age of Heroes comic was covered HERE.
Guess what? With all the Marvel books I read, you'd think I'd have picked up Doomwar but, no, not really. It didn't look like a sound investment of my time and it look like fan reaction to the story has been in agreement with me. In a very small nutshell, Doom is beaten but the cost is all of the Vibranium in Wakanda which I imagine is still there but inert. Or something. This is all King T'Challa's doing, so, in a stunning move of leadership, he cuts out of the country. Maybe it's because he's to blame for causing the collapse of his country's fundamental source of economic and technological prosperity and was kicked out, but the dialogue here doesn't support that. He's just gone and his sister is ruling in his place.
Which makes T'Challa the best King ever. Even if he was exiled, someone like T'Challa would find a way to help out his nation from without or, rather, snuck his way back in to at least help fight off the hordes of vultures that see a dying nation that can be plundered. Wakanda is in a bad way, after all. It's time to step up.
Instead, Princess Shuri is in charge of the nation and has the mantle of the Black Panther as well. This means that she's currently facing off against Advanced Idea Mechanics. This group of scientific terrorists is looking to take this country or at least kill themselves a Black Panther. It's more likely than it used to be. Shuri doesn't have that swanky Vibranium mesh armor anymore. She's basically just wearing one in a long line of spandex suits which are getting ruined every day in fights with groups like AIM. After a short scuffle, AIM is sent packing.
Most of this story is told through internal monologue boxes from Shuri's perspective. She lets us know that both T'Challa and Storm are out of the country and she's in charge. She also mentions that she's a tabloid superstar with tons of terrible moments to her credit. Princess Shuri changes out of her battle gear and into her royal garments. Her Dora Milage bodyguard, M'yra, tells her that some of this fighting should have left this fight to the Wakandan Security Force but that's not how a Black Panther does things, is it?
On the way to her limo, the press swarms around her trying to get some rumors confirmed or denied. They get neither. Shuri attends the new Tribal Parliament.
This is a new way for the Wakandan people to yell at her for everything that she is or isn't doing. It. Is. Awesome. The Princess tries to calm them and assure the group that their concerns are being addressed but that's not enough for everyone. G'tuga, for example, is sick and tired of his temporary monarch being known from her old tabloid appearances.
Is this a challenge to authorities according to ancient tribal law? It totally is. Fight time!
Shuri's on her last BP suit and she's facing a mountain-sized man in battle. She assures M'yra that this will go swimmingly. After all, she fought Namor. When Shuri leaves, M'yra silently whispers, "you LOST to Namor."
The fight doesn't start off well. Shuri gets pushed all over the place and her last suit gets torn. When the Princess falls, G'tuga advises her to stay down. She doesn't.
This next bit doesn't start off well, either. Shuri gets pinned to the ground in a choke hold. G'tuga tries to get in a punch on his downed opponent. Black Panther catches the punch before it can land. The Princess turns things around, striking G'tuga again and again until G'tuga is knocked out. It looks like she gets to stay as ruler and Black Panther for a while longer. She's also resolved to protect and save her country from all threats.
All of this is continued in Klaws of the Panther. Enjoy it if you have to!
Writer: Elliot Kalan
Artist: Brendan McCarthy
In this issue:
• Auckaneck has a crappy son but an interested granddaughter.
• He tells her the story about how he found Captain America buried in a chunk of ice and how his people worshipped the WWII hero.
• This also includes a part where he asks Cap to kill his rival for a girl's affections. Cap doesn't say anything because he's frozen but his eyes look upset.
• On a fishing expedition, Auckaneck's rival tries killing HIM so it's all fair game to try and kill back. The rival falls in the ocean.
• Knowing that Cap would disapprove of just letting a man die, Auck jumps into the water to save his rival but ends up in equal trouble.
• Suddenly, Namor shows up to save them both. When they get back to land, Auckaneck wins the heart of the girl he likes.
• Later on, Namor comes back and throws Cap's frozen body back into the ocean to be recovered by the Avengers.
Way back during Avengers #4, Namor took an ice god away from some worshiping eskimos. That "ice god" turned out to be Captain America. This is the story of one of his worshipers, Auckaneck.
Auckaneck lives in Fairbanks, Alaska now. His son, Cikuq (who prefers Chris) is an angry man with a daughter. He drops off his kid, Tiffany, so that he can go out on a date where he is certain to score. Before taking off, he has to listen to Auckaneck talk about the resurrection of his god. That's right, this is a bit after Steve Rogers made his dynamic return in Siege (not Captain America Reborn-- most people didn't know he was back until later). This just ticks Cikuq off because he's embarrassed about pretty much all his heritage. I can't blame him for being a bit ashamed about the Cap thing. Worshiping a man frozen in a block of ice is just a little face-palmy. If that man is dressed in red, white, and blue spandex, things start going straight downhill. The fact that his dad is STILL worshiping after knowing the truth is about the bottom of the barrel on shame.
But we don't care about that. Cikuq is a dick to both his dad and his daughter so we hate him and hope he never scores again. See ya, Cikuq.
As soon as her dad is out of sight, Tiffany asks her grandfather to tell her all about his god and how that went down. Well, let him tell ya.
MANY years ago, when Aukaneck was a much younger man, he found the frozen body of Captain America in a chunk of ice and brought it back to his village. He wasn't the only one on his fishing boat. Also on board was Tikaani. Tikaani is also a complete dick and spends most of his time putting Auck down. For everything. Dude's got a problem.
When Cap's body is brought back to the village, the tribal elder/medicine man/old crazy person names him an ice god who lives inside a chunk of ice because he finds it very comfortable. The people figure this is as good a god as any. After all, they are in the middle of a famine of sorts and are ready to pray to anyone. When everyone decides to worship the frozen super-soldier, Tikaani figures it's time to take credit for finding the guy. He tells Sura who's pretty much the hottest eskimo girl in the village. Auckaneck watches this but doesn't dispute Tikaani's claim. He's just disappointed that Tik is getting points with the girl he likes.
The cult of Steve Rogers is a big hit and soon the village is catching fish left and right. Then left again. Again to your right. Yeah, it's a lot of fish. Auckaneck decides that this ice god might be able to grant his prayers, too.
Just a quick note because I am a continuity whore: When we see Captain America through the block of ice, it's a blonde guy wearing the rest of the Cap suit. This isn't exactly accurate. When the Avengers thawed out the World War II hero, Steve was wearing the remains of an army uniform. I'd also bet money his eyes were closed but they are open in a disappointed glare in this story.
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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