Big comics, big week, big fun.
Today, we check out Namor: The First Mutant #1, X-Men: Curse of the Mutants- Storm & Gambit #1, X-Men: Curse of the Mutants- Blade #1, Shadowland: Moon Knight #1, The Avengers #4, Fantastic Four #582, Captain America #609, Thor #613, Heroic Age: Prince of Power #4, Secret Warriors #19, X-Men Legacy #239 and Blast to the Past for Tales of Suspense #52. Enjoy and spread the word!
Vampires, ninjas, and spy games! Oh my.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Let's start with the return of the one who started it all.
Namor: The First Mutant #1
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
In this issue:
• Namor heads under the sea to talk with the Oudvrou and learn as much as he can about the Aqueos, the underwater vamps. He leaves slightly pissed off.
• Since this is Namor's usual state, no-one pays attention anymore.
• The Sub-Mariner swims over to the ruins of Atlantis to find it raided by the Aqueos. The Trident are recruited to help in his mission.
• Everyone complains a lot.
• The Atlantean King and his company swim into Aqueos territory and get brutalized by vampire fish and marine life before meeting the real threat.
• Namor fights the leader of the Aqueos who probably has some royal blood in him.
• The Sub-Mariner leaves with the head of Dracula.
• The Aqueos officially declares war on the Atlanteans because slaughter the remaining soldiers in the former capital city didn't count.
It's arguable, of course, to declare the first Marvel character. Namor, the Human Torch, and the Angel all appeared in the very first issue of Marvel Comics. Namor has a little lead because his Marvel Comics appearance is actually a reprint of the his unreleased adventure from Motion Picture Funnies Weekly (created by the company Funnies Inc. where Bill Everett and many other creators broke into the industry) which was intended to be a giveaway at movie theaters if I'm not mistaken. When Timely (Marvel) was looking to enter the world of comics, they approached Funnies Inc. and got their creators to load up their books with several of these characters. Namor got a second chance at a first impression and the rest is history. So, technically all released at once, but one had a little bit of extra history.
Namor had a successful comic book career throughout the forties but fizzled out at the end of the decade. A second try in the fifties faded away after only a handful of appearances, though Namor's book lasted longer than The Human Torch and Captain America books released at the same time, possibly due to the fact that Hollywood types were interested in making the Sub-Mariner into a television property that never actually materialized. It wasn't until Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revitalized Marvel super-hero comics in the sixties that Namor would get yet another chance to shine. He returned as a villain with a noble bearing that made him just sympathetic enough to be likeable.
Namor has had some success with solo runs since his reinvention into the Silver Age but none of them have stood the test of time. Well, it looks like this is Namor's next shot at the big time with a launch focusing on his connection to the X-Men team and focusing on his status as Marvel's first published mutant character. It's even launching out of the Curse of the Mutants storyline that is reigning over a chunk of the X-Universe at the moment. Namor's first mission? Find the head of Dracula, taken by the Atlantean Vampires during The Death of Dracula #1.
His first stop is a visit to the Oudvrou. This is a lady hermit who is the only known Atlantean to survive an attack by the Aqueos, the underwater vampires. She's lost an eye and maybe gone a bit mad but she's the only known authority on the Aqueos that Namor knows of so she's called into action.
It's worth noting that the Oudvrou doesn't seem to respect her king that much. Get used to that attitude. The Atlanteans are all major dicks and none of them think Namor is worth a damn. There are those that are probably loyal and content under Namor's reign but they don't appear in this book. If they do, they die quickly. Namor's people are like him: stubborn bastards who think they know everything and that everyone else is wrong. Granted, with the recent troubles faced by the Atlanteans, maybe they have good reason not to have faith in their liege. Atlantis is in ruins courtesy of the Sub-Mariner's son. Namor has allied himself with surface dwellers and, worse, he's allied himself with reject surface dwellers that even other topside people hate and despise: X-Men.
And then there's his latest mission to retrieve the head of Dracula for the surface people. Like the Atlantean king should be an errand boy for others! It's disrespectful. Nothing's going to change their minds about that. Oudvrou tells Namor all this in the opening and it'll cement the rest of the Atlantean's feelings on him from this point on. The old hermit goes into some detail about the Vampires as well. There's something called a "shallow peace" that exists between the vamps and the Atlanteans. This means that the vamps can eat when they want and the Atlanteans won't do a damn thing about it or they'll eat some more. This shouldn't sit well with the king of Atlantis because it's like being a servant.
After putting up with this abuse for long enough, Namor loses his cool and demands to know the location of the Aqueos. It's actually a record on how long he could KEEP his cool.
Namor swims on to the ruins of Atlantis. He will need warriors for this mission and he left most of his people back beneath Utopia. Fortunately, there are Atlanteans stationed at the ruins under the command of General Kadar. Unfortunately, they're all dead. The Aqueos have already been here and killed. General Kadar lives but only for a few minutes longer. With him are members of a group called the Tridents. The leader of the Trident is Kadar's son, Husan. Another son, Husni also serves with the Tridents. General Kadar dies after telling Namor what the Aqueos came here for.
All they took was a box called the Vault of Law. More on that later. For now, Namor honors the dead before recruiting the Tridents to his hunt.
The Tridents don't seem to be a fighting force. Husan was on his way to being an Atlantean officer but that was put on hold when Atlantic fell. Husni is mentioned as someone not prepared for war. That means they could be hunters or farmers for all we know. We also know that they aren't quick to follow Namor for much the same reasons that the Oudvrou voiced. Namor points at all the dead Atlanteans, INCLUDING HUSAN AND HUSNI'S DEAD FATHER, to try and get these people to actually follow him after the Aqueos.
Seriously, these are stubborn people that don't even know a good reason for vengeance.
Namor and his improv army head deeper and deeper into the ocean. On their way, Husan asks his king what the Vault of Law is. Namor responds that it is a storage device that can only be opened by a "true ruler of Atlantis."
The sea continues to darken as the Sub-Mariner explains what the Oudvrou told him about the Aqueos' home. "Beneath the ocean floor." The Tridents start losing their confidence recalling the legends and ghost stories told about the underwater vamps. Namor tells them to stop psyching themselves out and get ready to fight it out with their worst nightmares like warriors.
They soon reach the Black Smoker's Trench. The area is filled with volcanoes that fill the air with dark matter. They probably do a good job of heating things up, too. Namor tells his team to fan out but Husan tells the Tridents to stay with a partner... which is good strategy when dealing with vampires. The Sub-Mariner swims off alone.
The fish down here are odd-looking and don't seem to be listening to Namor's mental commands. It turns out that many of them are vampiric. Namor faces down a vampire squid and narrowly avoids vampire tentacle rape by this not being that kind of comic. The Tridents face off against their own vampiric marine-life opponents. After tearing off a few squid tentacles, the Avenging Son notices a volcano that isn't spewing out ash. Something inside is beckoning to his royal blood.
Taking a team of Tridents (Husan, Husni, and a female who's gotten several lines), the Sub-Mariner swims towards their new destination. In no time, Husni has been separated from the rest. Namor calls the other two into defensive positions until they hear Husni's voice from a distance. The three start swimming toward the sound but they won't make it in time. Husni tells them that he saw something shiny and swam toward it instead of telling everyone else what he had seen. Rookie mistake. It'll cost him. The three never find his body. They just hear the screams of terror.
Husni was on the right track, though. Namor and the Tridents might not have found Husni's body but they HAVE found the Vault of Law. Since Namor is king, he can open the thing up. Inside is the severed head of Dracula.
Which should raise some questions. If only royal blood can open up the Vault of Law, who put the head inside? It certainly wasn't Namor. And then, why go through the trouble? This seems to be set up to draw Namor here but that would have happened anyway, right? Maybe it was just insurance. Regardless, the Sub-Mariner has his prize. Now, it's time to face the guards.
The Aqueos are everywhere. They swarm around the Tridents and their king. Namor orders a full retreat which, again, meets with complaints on Husan's part. I'm sure Husan would love to stick around and get some vengeance for the death of his father and brother but this isn't the time or place. This is a slaughter and they've been led right into it. Namor realizes this and knows that it's time to get tactical and get while the getting's good.
Which is easier said than done. The Aqueos Highlord makes his appearance and starts a personal battle with Namor. The Highlord seems to bear a personal grudge against the King of Atlantis and something about him seems familiar to the Avenging Son. Something that'll have to be solved later because retreat is still the order of business.
Husan hands Namor a trident and the Sub-Mariner runs the Aqueos Highlord through with the weapon. The vamp smiles and says Namor's traditional battle cry, "Imperius Rex," before dropping down further into Black Smoker's Trench.
Namor, Husan, and the female swim away but the rest of the Tridents aren't so lucky. They're devoured by vampire fish. The Sub-Mariner tells other two about the Tridents' noble sacrifice but the lady doesn't believe it. The Tridents died so that Namor could help the surface world. Even though the Aqueos started this by killing the defenders of Atlantis and stealing a royal artifact. Atlanteans.
Vampires are notoriously hard to kill. The Aqueos Highlord's severed body parts are retrieved by his people (and their pets) and reassembled. He immediately speaks to his followers and tells them that Namor has done the one thing no Atlantean has the right to do: he's fought back. Apparently, this violates the Shallow Peace. There will be war now, and no Atlantean is safe no matter where they hide, under the sea or above it.
X-Men: Curse of the Mutants- Storm & Gambit #1
Writer: Chuck Kim
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
In this story:
• Gambit and Storm fly to the secret Greek isle where Dracula's body is being held. They survive with a little telepathic help from someone Storm believes to be Dracula.
• Flashback to Cyclops going over mission parameters with the two.
• Back in the now, the two X-Men break into the underground chambers with some telepathic presence leading them on.
• Vampires attack! They are saved by Janus, the first born son of Dracula who's been the one giving them help.
• The three team-up but Storm is quickly separated from the others during another vamp attack that takes out the floor.
• Storm finds the room generating the shield surrounding the island and starts chopping off vampire heads.
• Inside, she finds a bunch of vampires connected to living humans. The vamps are generating the mystical shield while in a trance. They need the food.
• Gambit and Janus find the headless body of Dracula. Then, they find the vampires guarding it.
• Big fight scene!
• Storm makes a morally awkward decision to kill everyone in the room with a lightning bolt because she's out of time and out of other options.
• The X-Men teleport in and it's all about the clean up.
Namor's recovered the severed head of Dracula. Now, it's time to get the body back. For this mission, Storm and Gambit make their way alone to the ancient Greek island we first saw in The Death of Dracula #1. In the catacombs, Dracula's body has been laid to rest.
Mystical shields protect the island from people just teleporting in. Our X-Men duo have taken an X-Jet the whole way in. Once they pass through the invisible barrier, Storm feels the corruption of the environment all around her. It's dark magic. The two talk about how awesome they are for a panel or two before Storm gets a telepathic warning to get out of the jet. It seems that Remy hears this as well but he's probably reacting to Ororo since he claims to have heard nothing later on.
The X-Men leave the vehicle just in time. The thing is taken apart by Charniputras as it glides toward the island. Storm and Gambit hover in the air, waiting for the coast to clear. It is then that Ororo sees a figure on the ground and uses her command of the winds to move them towards the spot.
By now, Gambit's wondering what's going on since he hasn't heard any voices in his head. Storm explains that the voice that warned them to get out of the jet belonged to the man she had just seen on this section of the beach. He's gone now but Storm thinks it's the former Lord of the Vampires. Dracula. Who's dead. Gambit reminds Ororo of all of this but when you've seen as much stuff in your life as the Queen of Wakanda, you start thinking that maybe dead vampires can talk to you. I know! It's crazy.
For the three people that aren't buying the main X-Men book but accidentally found this in their pull pile (I'm guessing you'd either have to enjoy Chris Bachalo's art or be a closet Gambit fan), we swing back eight hours to get some back story for this one-shot. They've already learned from Blade that Dracula's body is resting comfortably on a hidden Grecian island in the Mediterranean Sea but they don't have any intel on the place. Their last attempt to learn anything failed.
Let me tell you about that. It looks like a team of X-Men went out in the field so that Emma could mind read some vamps to learn anything she could about the island. The problems started when Dazzler's light powers became ineffective at dusting the vampires. She can generate UV blasts that should have done the same deal as the sun but the Vamp Medallions block out these attacks as easily as the warp the Sun's vamp killing rays around the wearer. To save Dazzler's life, Northstar staked all of the vampires at super speed. Emma didn't have time to read any minds. So the former White Queen is pissed and also has tan lines. These are terrible.
Any other attempts at gaining info on the island have also led nowhere. Blade's the authority on vampires and he knew nothing about it until recently. Dr. Strange and Dr. Voodoo are equally in the dark. That means that Gambit and Storm are heading off into the dark without a map or a flashlight. At least they know the general location of vampire isle but that's about it. Scott asks if they'd like more people on this mission but Ororo is happy with it just being the two thieves. It's a tailor-made mission for the two. Storm is also hoping for some help from her one-time connection to Dracula.
The Queen of Wakanda keeps on having to clarify what that connection represents. It wasn't some romantic thing. It was an attack. There is no happy memories in it for Storm and there shouldn't be. The fact that she's going along with this mission should show just how important it is to the future survival of the mutant race.
Back in the present, Storm and Gambit make their way to the interior of the island. Gambit doesn't know what's going on with Storm but he trusts her with his life and that's enough. They find a cave leading down into the catacombs. Ororo feels a presence from it and they head on down. Gambit asks about Storm's claustrophobia which should be a huge issue right now but Ororo says Xavier has been helping her out with therapy so she's dealing. As they decend, someone enters the cave behind them.
The trip to Drac's body is not straight forward. The cave twists and turns as time keeps passing. What seems like hours later, Storm and Gambit are still travelling down into the depths of the island. Storm is using her powers to keep their smell out of the noses of any passing vamps. This simple effort is taxing her. The environment on this island is working against Ororo.
And it's not something that'll work forever. The duo is attacked by a number of vampires from various sects. When Storm uses her lightning, it is just as hard to manipulate as the winds. It goes wild, leaving the X-Man open for attack. This is why it's good to bring along your friendly neighborhood Gambit. He breaks free from his attacker, grabs his wooden staff and plunges it into the back of Ororo's opponent. It's only a temporary relief.
This is, after all, and island of vampires so once the fight starts, it starts filling up with lots of enemies. A charniputra nearly bites off Remy's head until Storm slices its head in two. This causes a lull in the fighting but not the end of vampire shenanigans. A nosferatu decides that fighting isn't worth it and tries to make a getaway only to be stopped by another vampire.
Janus, the first born son of Dracula that we last saw in The Death of Dracula one-shot. He steps on the nosferatu's hand and introduces himself to Storm and Gambit. It turns out that he's been the one that's been telepathically communicating with Ororo. I guess this is because he's the son of Dracula and like father, like son? Sure, why not. After Storm corrects him on his take on her and Drac's relationship, Janus explains that he's here to restore his father to power but can't do it alone. Once everyone agrees to work together, they interrogate the nosferatu for the location of Dracula's body.
The team travels further into the tunnels. Janus explains what the significance of this island is to the vampires.
When Atlantis fell under the sea, the remaining vampires gathered here. The place was made from magic which is why Storm is having trouble with her abilities. After talking about the location, Janus reveals that he's a natural-born vampire who never spent any time as a human. As such, he's only been around regular people when he was looking for a snack. That's a great partner for ya.
As Janus explains that he's not looking for a meal, a group of vampires attack, shattering the floor beneath Storm and causing he and the vampires to drop even further into the depths of the island. Storm survives the fall and starts killing whatever vampires who have the nerve to try and rise to their feet. She uses her telepathic link with Janus to tell the other two to continue on to Dracula's body. It's more important than her recovery and maybe she can do something down here.
Heck, it looks like she just found the room where the mystical shield protecting the island is being generated. Storm slices up the guards and makes walks inside. What she finds is... creepy. There are a bunch of meditating vampires connected by tubes to living human beings suspended from the ceiling. Worse, one of the humans is still conscious.
Meanwhile, Gambit and Janus have located the body of Dracula with no trouble at all. We've seen this before. Namor found Dracula's head just fine and then the trouble happened after he had his mitts on it. Same thing here. The two find the body and then are surrounded by a vampire army. It doesn't look good.
Further below, Storm assesses the situation before telepathically contacting Janus to get his point of view. The son of Dracula tells her that she's found a Mother Bond. The vampires are in a trance that generates the mystic shield and are using the blood of living people like an IV to keep them alive. This makes it easy to kill the meditating vampires because they're defenseless but killing them will pretty much kill their human food supply at the same time. Time is running out for everyone. Gambit and Janus are fighting a losing battle and Storm will be next on the agenda.
It's a crap decision that has to be made soon. We get some fight scenes and see that Gambit is getting tossed around like a rubber ball. Janus is getting dogpiled. Below, tears form in Storm's eyes as she realizes what she has to do. She just REALLY doesn't want to do it. After an apology for what she has to do, the room fills with lightning.
The shield is down. That means the X-Men can teleport in. Storm gets contact with Cyclops and the cavalry arrives before Gambit or Janus get killed.
So the X-Men get a good win under their belt. Gambit is the only one that isn't really contributing but that's because he's focused on a particular target: the lady vamp who tossed him across the room. Once he closes in, it's a good swing of his staff to her head. Maybe there's a dusting after that.
It's clean up all over the place. Northstar and Dazzler do this battle better than their previous outing. Northstar strips the Vampire Medalions off of a group of vampires and lets Dazzler go to work with the UV blasts. Dust everywhere.
As the X-Men teleport out with the body of Dracula, Gambit meets the returning Storm. He tells Ororo that Janus bugged out as soon as he knew Storm was ok. He can tell something is troubling Storm and lets her get it out. She has done a lot of things during her time as an X-Man. She's killed but it's always been bad guys for what she believes are justifiable reasons. This is the first time she had to kill innocent people for "the greater good." Gambit tries to give her some comforting words but Storm is more worried that next time that line has to be crossed will it break her?
X-Men: Curse of the Mutants- Blade #1
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Tim Green
In this story:
• Blade discovers that vampire killers are being killed by vampires but doesn't realize that the attacks are happening during the day.
• Looking into why this is happening, he learns that Dracula has been killed by the second son, Xarus.
• Continuing his amateur detective stint, he Blade meets other vamp slayers, Claudia Belles and Dolly.
• An Anchorite vampire tells Blade that his sect was wiped out by the Claw sect but doesn't get to live long enough to tell them where Xarus is hiding.
• After a little digging, the location is tracked down. It's Phoenix, AZ. The remaining vampire killers meet and prepare a final attack.
• This probably would have worked except the vampires don't dust by daylight anymore.
• The battle kills the rest of the slayers except for Blade who escapes with information that the X-Men are next on Xarus's to-do list.
This particular tale is probably the least most important Curse of the Mutants tie-in yet. It doesnt' give us any new information and actually just repeats beats that happened better in other books. If you're a big fan of Blade, by all means, get this tie-in. If not, you aren't missing much of anything.
Except for the end of the vampire slayers. In some universes, only one is born into each generation until it sounds really cool to have an army of girls fighting the undead in your last season and then your cast explodes like no tomorrow. In the Marvel Universe, vampire slayers aren't called by some otherly mystical force and don't have a destiny to die young though it probably happens more often than not. No, these are just humans that fight vampires and try to kill them before they get killed. Blade is one of them and probably one of the few that actually has some super powers to draw from.
Blade is, after all, part vampire. You've seen the movies so you probably have the crib notes just fine and nothing more needs to be said. Blade's got the fangs and strength but he can also walk out in the daylight and think of people as more than a tasty snack. It makes him a good guy and a great vampire killer.
Unfortunately, the rules of the hunt just changed and no-one bothered to tell the slayers. Vampires can now brave the daylight which means sleeping in a well lit-room is no escape. Three days ago in Calcutta, this is how one such vampire slayer met his end.
He's not alone. Blade has tracked the deaths of several slayers but even he is missing the WHEN of the attacks. He just isn't thinking about the rules changing so the daytime attacks isn't even registering. In London, he starts his search to find out what vampire sect is stepping up and killing his fellow slayers.
The trail leads him to other information that interests him. He learns that Dracula has been killed but he doesn't know who did the deed. He also finds out that it's not just vampire slayers that are being killed. There are other vampire sects getting slaughtered as well. After getting intel on a soon-to-occur sect massacre in Brazil, Blade takes a plane in to see the sights. People stare as the heavily armed black man walks the streets of São Paolo.
The secret bunker where the attack was to take place is empty. Well, MOSTLY empty. A fellow vamp killer named Claudia Belles is here as well. These two start off all aggressive but share information. Blade already has a clearer picture than Claudia does so he fills in a lot of blanks. All of this is information we already know. The both wonder what happened to the massacre but a quick ride up to the roof reveals all. The vamps were dusted in the sunlight. Again, they miss that a vampire killing another vampire in the sunlight doesn't make sense. What they don't miss is a sigil from the Anchorite sect. Anchorites are the hippy vampires who like to stay where they are so it doesn't make sense that any would be here.
This clue still needs to be followed up on so the two take another flight to Scotland to Anchorite territory. They find more dusted remains of the Anchorites and the gender-neutral vampire slayer, Dolly, interrogating the last of the vampires. Dolly can't talk so you'd wonder how this questioning is working out. Not well for the Anchorite, to be honest.
The last remaining Anchorite vampire spills his guts yet again to Blade and the slayers learn that it was Drac's second son, Xarus, who killed the Lord of the Vampires and united the rest of the vampire sects under his banner. This is all about cleaning house. Killing slayers and rebel factions. The Anchorite asks to be brought with to help avenge his sect for information on where Xarus is hanging his hat but that's not something any of the slayers are comfortable with so they just stake the vamp's head off and find out the info themselves. Blade sees how big the problem is, though, and calls in whatever slayers are left on the map.
The trail leads to Phoenix, Arizona. To Blade, this doesn't make sense. Vampires don't like sunlight and there is a lot of it just hanging out in the air here. Sure, you can hide indoors but one tiny peephole could kill your entire vampire family. That sun is a powerful thing. Blade still doesn't connect the dots.
More vampire slayers join Blade's growing army. It's not a huge number but we do meet Tripp and Texter, two former partners who had a falling out twenty odd years ago and are only meeting now because it's Blade. Also: it's serious. When all's said and done, twelve vampire slayers meet up to put an end to Xarus's reign.
The plan is simple. Xarus and his posse are holed up in an unused military airfield. They leave at night and come back before morning. While the vampires are gone, the slayers set up charges that'll expose the vamp's base to delicious sunlight goodness. Then it's just clean-up.
We already know the fundamental flaw in the plan but it still hasn't hit any of the slayers. The group prepares for the the battle ahead. There's some chatter between characters. Tripp and Texter talk on other sides of a bench but don't really make up. Claudia does her best to apologize for her earlier behavior but Blade is too busy thinking about the battle ahead. The rest are just random heads or mute so we don't focus on them much.
At daybreak, the plan starts off just as expected. Of course, everything goes wrong after that. The vamps come to the surface but walk out in sunlight like it ain't no thing. Xarus himself thanks the slayers for coming together like this. It makes his job of killing them all so much easier. Blade gives them a pep talk and the battle begins.
It is not pretty. All those fun slayers you just met? All of them die. Tripp and Texter are the first named slayers to meet their end but not the first to fall. Texter is eaten first and Tripp is next to go. Dolly is torn apart and finally lets out a terrifying scream at their death. Claudia is just getting bitten on the neck when Blade puts a stake through her head just so she doesn't rise again as a vampire.
Which leaves just Blade. Surrounded, Blade is approached by Xarus who announces that every vampire is a daywalker now. Blade's not one of a kind anymore. He also drops clues on what his next target will be. Mutants. Blade doesn't pick up on this right away but he'll get there. Right now, he's focusing on getting out of this fight in one piece.
Blade isn't easy to take down. He's been killing vampires for a long time now and knows how to do it well. This is Krieger and Claw sects, though. The best of the best. Sure, he can fight his way through some of them but it's a veritable army. The best option is to board a jet and make a run for it.
The plane is overrun by vamps immediately but that's fine. Blade didn't expect to take it where he needs to go. In fact, he leaps out just before it crashes into a mountain. Now, he has time to piece together what he learned.
Xarus's next target are the mutants. It makes sense. It'll give him an army of vampires with super abilities. Blade heads across country, steals a bike, and drives the rest of the way to San Francisco. Now, all he has to do is wait for the vampires to show up.
The rest of the story happens in the pages of X-Men. Blade showed up in issue #2 and passed on all this information. If you're a fan, check him out there next. Or first, if you already picked up the issue. Good times.
Shadowland: Moon Knight #1
Writer: Greg Hurwitz
Penciler: Bong Dazo
In this story:
• Marc Spector buys back his house.
• Moon Knight tells us how good his life is while taking down thugs and stuff.
• Daredevil sends the Profiler after Moon Knight.
• Konshu nags Moon Knight.
• The Profiler finds the next Avatar of Konshu. He'll call himself Shadow Knight.
• Marlene is preggers.
• Commander Rogers sends Moon Knight in to Shadowland to have an inside man.
• Spector smashes his own cab and gets attacked by Hand ninjas.
• Shadow Knight attacks Marlene in her home.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Moon Knight has had quite the time as a super-hero. Currently, he's trying to be less crazy and it seems to be working out for him. Latest on his list for non-crazy things to do is buy back his mansion. Another family was just about ready to move in but Marc Spector (or whatever he goes by now) beat them to the punch, paying out more cash that the mansion is actually worth.
Yes, that's right. Life is good for good old Moon Knight. He's facing down the scum of the city and having the time of his life. His pilot and friend, Frenchie, is with him and they quibble and nag each other with style. Heck, MK is even on an Avengers roster. It's the life to live if you're a super-hero. Sure, this is serious business and he's gotta keep his "A" game coming but when you're on top, you're on top.
Also: there's no where to go but down. It's like a law or something, especially in the hero game.
Shadowland has been constructed in Hell's Kitchen and with it, the law of the ninja has rested over the place. To this feudal Japanese castle has been summoned the Profiler. Daredevil needs him for a job and the Profiler is hoping for a steady gig. All he needs to know is who and what. He expects DD to haggle and try to convince him that this is all for the greater good but it doesn't happen. Murdock just tells the Profiler that he wants Moon Knight. When Profiler asks "for what?" Daredevil just grimaces.
Moon Knight goes on to live his perfect life, jumping out of his Moon Coptor after a night well done. He lands in the pool and follows the underwater tunnel right to his private jacuzzi. He finds his girl, Marlene, waiting for him. They get right to work of their own. After some lovemaking that puts Marlene to sleep, Marc puts on a robe and takes a walk around his mansion. Life is good.
Spector walks down and finds the cloth covering... Konshu? It might be Konshu or it might be something else. Anyway, it spoils the mood because Konshu appears before him and nags on Spector for not giving him enough blood sacrifices. The Egyptian god shows him the shattered bits of his life. Marc Spector is dead even though I keep using the name for the character because... well, otherwise it gets complicated. Jake Lockley is still that New York cabbie with his ear to the ground. Steven Grant is the rich money bags with the mansion. And then there's Moon Knight. Ya gotta love being the Avatar of Konshu even if your god is mad at you for not getting enough violence in. Despite this trip down his split personality lifestyle, Marc thinks he's got it made.
The Profiler has been in Moon Knight's head before and thinks he knows just what will rattle the hero. It's thoughts like these that lead him to Egypt. Moon Knight believes he has been chosen by Konshu as the god's living avatar. It's a special feeling for the hero that the Profiler has decided to take away from Spector. It's time to pick someone ELSE to fill that position. The Profiler walks the streets looking for that someone and it doesn't take him long to find a prospective candidate.
Back in New York, Marc Spector dreams more dreams from his god. This time, it's visions of his past. Marc was always about playing war and other violent games with his younger brother. It's what they did. Spector also had a potbelly which is just wierd for a kid. Don't let your kids drink beer!
Of course, Marc's dad would have kept the alcohol far away from his pot-bellied son. Daddy was a rabbi and didn't approve of these war games. Growing up, Marc tried to play things his father's way but, well, dude liked to start trouble too much. Spector was also damn good at beating people up. He'd start the fight but make sure to finish it. It still got him in trouble at school.
All of this made his father's approval of him drop and Marc got out as soon as he graduated. He joined the Marines and the rest is history. Well, the whole thing is history but you get the point. Konshu's using all of this in an attempt to tell his avatar that his home is with his god and nothing else will make him happy. It's enough to unnerve Marc and he spends the rest of the early morning staring at his Moon Knight costume, listening to Konshu nag at him and eventually going near fetal and crying. All the while, Marlene is looking for him, trying all his names but getting no response.
Back in Egypt, some dude has a gun in his mouth. The Profiler's knock ruins the suicide attempt and it also gives this man a new lease on life. Profiler proceeds to tell this suicidal dude every detail of his life. Everything from the parental issues all the way down to joing the Marines to find acceptance. This led to a wife and kid and a whole lot of killing in the line of duty. Everything was rosy until he developed super powers.
The Profiler conjectures that the powers could have been from the uranium tipped bullets but whatever it was, it caused him to shoot concussive blasts out of his eyes. He went to the military hospital complaining of headaches and ended up accidentally blasting someone. Since no-one was willing to admit that the dude had powers caused by their equipment, someone got a dishonorable discharge and their life fell apart after that. The suicidal dude just sulked as his life fell apart. His daughter cried a lot and his wife decided she had better places to be. So, he left and ended up in Egypt with a gun in his mouth.
The Profiler said everything right and tells him he knows it all because he's the servent of Konshu and is here to offer Mr. Suicide a position as the sole Avatar thereof. It's a sweet gig and this guy laps it right up. His first assignment is a fight with the old avatar.
We move ahead a bit to New York and hookers. The new Avatar of Konshu is walking the street in a ragged costume. When the prostitutes tell him to get lost, he blasts them down to pulp with his eye beams. With their blood, he leaves a message for Moon Knight.
"You are finished
"I am the
Moon Knight doesn't know anything about this just yet but he will. Right now, he's enjoying his sweet life with his lady love. Marc thought Marlene would be mad about the silent treatment that morning but she planned a romantic thingamajig on the... oh crap she just fell off the ledge!
Nah, she just fell on a flying Moon Coptor where Frenchie has made a fine meal for them. She teases that she was planning on proposing but doesn't know what aspect of Moon Knight's personality she'd actually walk the aisle with. No, instead, she just got pregnant with his kid. Marc gives her a hug. Life keeps getting better!
The new Shadow Knight has been leaving calling cards all over, taunting Moon Knight into action and, of course, killing people in the process. In his Jake Lockley guise, Moon Knight drives to his favorite diner to get the word on the new Avatar on Konshu. On the way, he gets a talk with the big man himself.
Konshu keeps the nag on and says that he WILL choose a new avatar and take all of Moon Knight's power away if things don't turn around real soon. With that, Jake drives the rest of the way to Gina's Diner.
Crawley is hanging out as usual and gives Jake some good information, narrowing down the area covered by Shadow Knight. It's all happening in Spanish Harlem. Now, it's just up to Moon Knight to nab himself a fake avatar of his god.
Which might happen a bit later but not tonight. Tonight, Jake is going to take a fare that will change his itinerary. Commander Steve Rogers has a job for him. There's this whole Shadowland thing going on and Steve thinks it would be super sweet to have a guy on the inside, say... in the secret dungeon or something... who can act when the time comes. This all happens in Shadowland #2 if you want to place it in context.
Later that night, Marc readies his lockpicks wrapped in a condom for swallowing and says good-bye to Marlene. She thinks this is hella risky but it's the kind of stuff Moon Knight does. He tries to comfort her. After all, he's on top of the world! Nothin's gonna bring him down.
Famous words, there.
So, events from Shadowland #2 start playing out as Jake Lockley smashes up his cab and is approached by Hand ninja. He fights them off to make things look good but is eventually dragged away, mission going according to plan the whole time.
Marlene is the one who should be worried. Shadow Knight has found where Moon Knight lives and starts kicking the crap out of her. Now, I know what you're saying. This is the lame "I have a baby but I'll be beaten up until I miscarry so we don't have to deal with a baby" tragic thing that happens all the time in comics. No, really, this kind of thing happens far too much and it's kind of sickening. You should be saying that right now.
Granted, it's possible she didn't have a miscarriage and just got beaten up but that's not exactly much better now, is it?
The Avengers #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
In this story:
• Iron Man and company arrive in the future... right in the middle of a crazy time war with Ultron.
• Speaking of crazy: Killraven and Devil Dinosaur! Devil Dino gets blown up. Crazy!
• The martians attack! Thor gets his thunder god on!
• New York goes insane with random time fights from everywhere.
• Captain America almost shoots Kang but is stopped by Wolverine and Iron Man.
• The future team is captured by the Next Avengers.
• Wolverine meets the Maestro and gets a big hug.
• Iron Man meets future Iron Man and is held back while future Tony approaches him with a scary looking tool thing.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Time travel. It's always confusing. This story skips right past trying to make sense of it and just gets right to how messed up it can go. Watch as we hit eighty miles per hour of insanity!
The time travelling team of Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and the Protector) have gotten to the future but have ended up in a cave in Central Park. When Tony lights up his unibeam, the team gets a good look around and prepare to get to work. Tony gives them some advice before they head out into the wild future yonder:
1. Things are gonna be wierd. More than that, they're going to be bad. About as bad as they can get.
2. Don't panic.
3. Always bring a towel.
That last one might be from a different book. So might the second one.
When the team looks out the mouth of the cave, the crazy begins. It's Ultron fighting Kang the Conqueror with a cast of various heroes and villains fighting below. Time has gone nuts.
In what passes for the present, Killraven and Devil Dinosaur are meeting the Avengers. Killraven remembers Spider-Man from a previous adventure. Peter kind of remembers Killraven but their team-up took place nearer to Killraven's present than to Spideys (repeat: time travel stories are messed up). While Killraven tries to explain his apocalyptic future to everyone and how he started jumping to various time periods randomly, Devil Dinosaur gets hit by a martian blast and explodes.
Yes, that just happened.
All of this barely matters because the adventure isn't in the past. It's all about as relevant as Apocalypse and his Horsemen time travelling back the previous issue. Still, it's pretty crazy stuff. Suddenly, New York City is beset by alien invaders on giant walker things. These are the martians from the future but those walkers are showing up in multiple titles (usually in time travel or fever dream stories) and there's some discussion going on about how irrelevant seeing them really IS.
Killraven is advocating a retreat but that's not how Thor does his thing. The god of thunder swings into the air and starts smashing walkers. The rest of the team DOES retreat into a nearby deli. Killraven isn't as up to speed as the Avengers are. He still thinks this story is about him instead of how time has been fractured. There's a whole story about how the martians have learned to warp reality but that's just because future man doesn't know he's in an Avengers book. No worries. This is where things REALLY start to freak out.
Hawkeye and Spider-Woman look out the window to see that martian walkers are no longer a going concern. Now it's just chaos as the Gangs of New York movie happens right out on the streets. Hawkeye wants to get out there and do some heroing but the rest don't even know where that would begin. I mean, who do you help? Who do you fight? What's the right answer when martian walkers have appeared and gangs from one hundred fifty years ago are battling it out on your streets?
By this point, Thor has dealt the walkers a mighty defeat but the vehicles have fallen all over the place and probably created more damage in the crash than their laser beams were causing (except we all still miss Devil Dinosaur). With the walkers out of the way, it's time to blow this sucker out of the park with madness.
The SHIELD Helicarrier! Galactus! The Watchtower back on Avengers Tower! Biplanes! Dinosaurs! Monsters of every kind! Time is exploding and there's nothing this team can do to stop it!
Which is why the rest of the Avengers are in the future. Captain America thinks the way to end this right now is by killing the Kang fighting Ultron but that's not really a sound argument. They're guessing that Kang fighting Ultron with so many various character combinations over and over again is what brought this all about and, well, that's already happened. Still, it takes Wolverine and Iron Man to stop Cap from killing the Time Conqueror. Actually, Iron Man and Captain America aren't even done arguing by the time they're attacked by the Next Avengers.
You remember them, right? The kids of some of the more iconic Avengers who had their own made for DVD (and Blu-Ray, probably) movie? They appeared for a panel or two in the first issue and Kang tried convincing the present team of Avengers that their kids were having trouble in the future? Yeah, those Next Avengers. The kids walk all over each and every one of the modern roster. Hell, Iron Man loses because Pym's kid flies into his EYE which shouldn't even be possible because he no longer has eye slits to see out of.
When the Avengers are down, the Next Avengers talk about what they just did. They don't seem all that happy about it but it's what the Maestro wanted so that's how it had to go down.
Wolverine wakes up first and unleashes his claws to face whatever took him down. He finds a happy old Hulk waiting to put him in a bear hug. Yes, a happy Hulk. I don't know why you'd think that a contradiction. The Maestro seems genuinely happy to see Wolverine and surprised that Iron Man picked Logan for this time mission. It turns out that it was Bruce Banner's alter ego that sent Kang back in time to get present day Iron Man to the future. They knew Tony would be along but they didn't know who else would tag along.
Which gets us all saying... "HUH!?"
I mean, Hulk was built up to be a bad guy in all this. He certainly looks like trouble in Avengers #1 and when he screamed in rage through the time viewer in issue #2. That he's all jovial here is confusing. So is the death of Immortus. Why did that happen again? There are a lot of unanswered questions and this issue isn't going to make you feel great about these future versions of Marvel's Finest. The Next Avengers apologize for their harsh treatment of the time travellers and Iron Man questions future Hulk on his decision to send Kang back to summon them. It seems Kang went a little off-script but at least it's working out. One last surprise is the appearance of future Iron Man.
This shouldn't surprise people that saw the Next Avengers movie. Tony featured heavily in that. What is a little different is that armored suit. That is... bulky.
After the surprise of seeing his future self wears off a bit, Iron Man finds himself being held down by the Hulk. Future Iron Man fires a repulsor shield to keep the rest of the Avengers away and then a wicked looking bottle opener appears out of his suit of armor. Maestro tears off present day Iron Man's face mask (which used to happen every issue right after Civil War), and future Tony moves in to do some surgery.
Yeah, the future is a bit creepy. Also: bulky.
Fantastic Four #582
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Neil Edwards
In this story:
• We learn how the evil Nathaniel Richards killed off the rest of the Nathaniel Richardses.
• Saying Richardses is wierd.
• Past Reed, Ben, and Doom help good Nathaniel Richards fight evil Nathaniel Richards.
• Everyone gets headaches.
• Reed burns off evil dad's hand but takes a sucker punch after evil Pop convinces him to lower his guard.
• Doom beats down evil Nathaniel and then kills the bad guy with good Nathaniel's blessing.
• Everyone goes back to their own time and Reed says good-bye to his father. Again.
• Sue talks with her future daughter. Val is cryptic because that's the only way to tell someone the future.
• Future Franklin kicks his grandfather out of his pocket reality because Reed needs a father.
• Frankling and Val are in the pocket reality together but don't know if they'll be able to make it to the future or something. They end up jumping.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Remember how I said time travel makes everything crazy? Avengers handled it by embracing the insanity. Fantastic Four? They handle it by confusing everyone. We've got future versions of our characters interacting with past versions of our characters as alternative versions of characters make other appearances and your brain literally EXPLODES. All at the same time. In multiple realities.
So don't plan on this making any sense because it doesn't.
Let's fill you in on the big picture and work our way down. There are billions of realities and because of some happening over in SHIELD, every reality's Nathaniel Richards (the deadbeat dad of Mr. Fantastic) got pulled into the same reality. This would have been terrible enough except then Immortus showed up. He's a cosmic time keeper or something so his mission should probably have been to put every Nathaniel back where they belonged. That would have been too much work, though, so he decided killing them all would be easier. THEN, instead of doing that, he made a deal with them that if THEY killed each other, the one left standing at the end would be allowed to live. It's like a really lame version of the Highlander.
So Nathaniel Richards turned on Nathaniel Richards. Except for one guy. He didn't want to kill himself a billion times for a chance at survival so he ducked out. Where did he go? No-one knows. All we do know is that every other Nathaniel Richards has met their end except for him and one other who just happens to be the most evil Nathaniel Richards ever. The other one is so evil that after strangling the life out of another Nathaniel Richards, he steals all their stuff. We even see him killing another Nathaniel Richards that has shown up in past issues of Fantastic Four (the slightly cyborg one).
You'd think this would lead us to the present but it doesn't. Instead of the "good" Nathaniel Richards going to the present day Fantastic Four for help, this guy goes to Reed from the past (the college years) and claims to be doing it just to say good-bye. More likely he's here because it's a unique time when Reed and Victor Von Doom are on speaking terms. That means good Nathaniel gets the help of his son, an armored Ben Grimm, and a pre-Dr. Doom Victor Von Doom. They head to the future to fight a life and death battle with the other last Nathaniel Richards.
So, that's your confusing right there. I've explained it as well as I can. We're not done.
The battle between good Nathaniel and bad Nathaniel gets off to a fun start as bad daddy tosses armored past Ben around the room and then summons his army of Anachronauts to fight good Nathaniel's back-up. Good Nate tries to get his kid and friends away but Reed's not leaving and neither are Ben or Victor. The battle goes back and forth but... do we really care? These are past versions of our characters so we know the Anachronauts aren't going to off them. Let's just skip to the part where Victor uses his mind control helmet on evil Nathaniel.
This stops the evil dad for a moment but evil Nate eventually hits a switch on his suit and gains movement. Doom is knocked back. Ben tries another forward assault and his suit is shredded by the bad guy. Reed sees his roommate fall and blows off his evil dad's hand with his gun. Evil dad begs for help and Reed hesitates, leaving an opening for evil Nathaniel to punch his alternate reality kid across the facility.
This leaves good Nathaniel at evil Nathaniel's mercy which is not a good place to be. Fortunately, Doom has recovered and decks evil Nathaniel into a stupor. Doom expects good Nathaniel to end this now but good Nathaniel has never killed anyone and isn't about to start now. Instead, he steps out of Doom's way and lets the super-villain do the dirty deed. Victor does a bit of ranting at this point about how he saved the day and that they should all be grateful for knowing him.
With the future day saved and Nathaniel's life free, everyone returns to the past. Reed and his dad have one last heartfelt moment before Nathaniel departs to meet his obligations.
OK, with that past adventure out of the way, we can safely head into the present for a meeting between Sue Richards and a future version of her daughter. Yes, the time travel refuses to end.
So, let's get what we know about this scenario done. Valeria Richards is all grown up. She hangs out in the terminal space left over from the destruction of the Marvel timeline and whatever reality will take over after that. This is sort of like Galactus's deal where he's the only survivor from the previous universe. It looks like Franklin, Valeria, and good Nathaniel all end up in the terminal space. They each have a part to fill that will maybe make things better. Franklin has already been back to the relative present where he gave present Val a clue about how to help the future ("All hope lies in Doom") and also gave young Franklin back his powers. Nathaniel is making sure he's the only Nathaniel left. Val is visiting with her mom.
Nathaniel returns to that terminal space to tell Franklin about the success of his mission. Frank's been busy building a forest in the nowheresville so at least we have some pretty scenery. When Nathaniel tells Franklin that he's the last Nathaniel, Frank kicks him off the space. Nathaniel grasps onto the edge of reality and demands to know why his grandson is doing this.
Things start overlapping something fierce at this point so I'm just going to tell one part and then the other. Let's start with Val because it's really a weak point in the story. Val basically came back to offer words of encouragement to her mom about the times ahead. Things are going to go bad. REALLY bad. Val won't go into it because it's best to be cryptic when you're trying to change the future. Actually, that might be true. If people know too much about what's going to happen, they might try to change things that shouldn't be changed and miss the important things. Maybe Val is actually trying to keep her redirection of the future focused.
If so, she's still giving crappy hints. Something bad will happen. We know from the upcoming storyline that one FF member is supposed to die (and don't get me started on that because you all know how I hate it when they kill a character off) so maybe she's talking about aftermath from that. Sue is ticked off at her daughter because she thinks Ms. Smarty pants is pulling a Reed manuever. You know, thinking they've figured it all out and not explaining it to anyone else. Just going with it. That's not the case. This is actually Franklin's plan.
Well, Val has run out of time and has to return to the terminal space between universes and await the end. She hasn't even really given Sue much to go on, either. She leaves with just a little bit more cryptic. Basically, when the terrible thing happens, Sue needs to hold it together and carry on. Hold the line? Maybe. We'll see. With that, Val returns to terminal space.
Now, we can move on to why Franklin just kicked his grandpop off of what's left of reality. Well, he's not trying to kill Nathaniel. Instead, he's trying to give his dad a dad. You know Reed Richards? How he'll never be father of the year because he barely remembers his son exists? Franklin wants that guy to have a father because it is what is wrong with Mr. Fantastic. Frank theorizes that every Reed Richards grew up without a dad and that made them broken in a way. It looks like Reed now has a chance to actually know his dad. Franklin won't let that just pass. He kicks Nathaniel off of reality and then allows his grandfather to access a time travel portal. It's a blind jump but Franklin has faith that Nathaniel will find his way home.
So good luck with that.
With that all out of the way, we can get to where Val returns to the terminal space to join her brother in the end of everything. It looks like things are collapsing faster than they expected. They still need to hold it for another two hundred fifty years and it's falling apart much quicker than that. They compare notes while they wait for the end and Val laughs when she learns that Franklin kicked Nathaniel in the face. It is sort of awesome.
In the end, they decide to make a jump for it. They're going to die either way so they either hold some changes forward (or whatever they're doing-- this is where I really don't understand so you'll have to forgive me for ACTUALLY getting confused) or let it all go. The two brace for the jump and Val tells her brother that he's her favorite super-hero. Franklin responds that his is still the Human Torch. The terminal space collapses.
Captain America #609
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Butch Guice
In this issue:
• Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson search for James Barnes after Zemo leaves a message for the former Bucky to "meet him where he was born."
• This leads everyone to Camp Lehigh, Virginia but Steve, Sam, and Natasha are slowed down by an attack by Iron Hand Hauptmann.
• Captain America arrives at Camp Lehigh and soaks in all the good memories.
• Fight with
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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