The adventure continues!
Today, we check out Shadowland: Ghost Rider #1, Thunderbolts #148, Shadowland: Power Man #2, Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3, Heroic Age: One Month To Live #3, Heroic Age: Super Heroes #1, New Mutants #17, and Blast to the Past for Avengers #9. Enjoy and spread the word!
More Shadowland. Some Heroic Age titles. Profit. It's all inside. Except for the profit thing.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Heaven gets involved in Shadowland in...
Shadowland: Ghost Rider #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Clayton Crain
In this issue:
• Kingpin orders Ghost Rider to Japan to take out the heart of the Hand.
• On his way to the far east, GR yells at God for not lifting this curse from him.
• The Hand are prepared for the Spirit of Vengeance's arrival but he comes through the door in his human form. Also: drunk.
• Guess who gets captured?
• After some TORTURE, the Snakeroot Clan leaders kill Johnny Blaze.
• Blaze keeps the Ghost Rider from taking over and actually dies.
• Except that's not the actual plan. Once he's in heaven, God orders him back down to earth and Ghost Rider calls in a favor.
• In comes the army of Heaven. The angels mop of the fortress.
• Blaze asks for his bike and takes off.
Remember that scene in Shadowland #3 where Ghost Rider is zipping up the side of Fisk's skyscraper building? This whole book starts right at that point. The Kingpin has used Ghost Rider to free the prisoners held by the Hand at a time when such a move would have made a paranoid Daredevil think his buddies in the super-hero community were responsible. All of this is possible because Kingpin had his latest lackey, Lady Bullseye, break into a Hand temple/ fortress/ three bedroom apartment to steal a magical enchantment that puts Ghost Rider in the caster's power. The Spirit of Vengeance isn't happy about this. At all.
GR enters the room with bravado but after puting on a show of power and anger, he finds he can't actually hurt Kingpin. This is because the caster of the spell has complete control over the Ghost Rider. So, it sucks for Johnny Blaze and the man wants free of this terrible spell so he can act some personal vengeance out on Wilson Fisk.
Now, Kingpin isn't an idiot. He knows that Ghost Rider isn't taking kindly to being treated like some sort of minion. Hell, it's not like Blaze isn't wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Once this spell goes away, Fisk is right in that radar. Right now, however, there's an enticing target to eliminate. It's the group that apparently put this ancient spell together as well as manipulated everything going on in Hell's Kitchen with Daredevil. It's that pesky Snakeroot Clan. Someone's gotta eliminate them.
And so, Ghost Rider starts driving to Japan. Most people might charter a flight or something but we all know how that flaming motorcycle works. He just rides it straight across the ocean. At times, he's flying over the waves. All the way, Johnny Blaze is thinking how messed up his situation is. He just fought a successful war in Heaven and now he's shackled to a new master on earth. He takes a moment to stop on top of a poor whale and shout up at the sky about how sad his life is.
In Japan, the three leaders of the Snakeroot Clan, Makoto, Yutaka, and Takashi, already know that someone has summoned a powerful demon to fight them but they don't know who's done this or what's actually coming. All they know is that it involves Hand magic and that it isn't Daredevil. They remain unafraid even if this is some major mojo coming their way.
When the dude finally gets to the door of the Hand fortress, they find they have little to worry about.
Ghost Rider enters the room in his puny human form. He's also drunk. Now, like I say in the hilarious image, you've got to wonder about Hand defenses. Sure, people break into Daredevil's Shadowland fort all the time but at least the Hand look like they're TRYING to defend the territory. This is a drunk man who doesn't look like he'd stand up well in a fight and he walked right in. To prove how messed up he is, Blaze throws up in the first vase he sees.
Johnny thinks this is a losing battle. Hand magic summoned him to aid Kingpin and that means he can't hurt the Hand, right? Does that makes sense? No? We just saw him free a whole underground prison from Hand ninjas and have no trouble fighting them? Well.... let's just say Johnny doesn't like being controlled so he's not going to fight this battle. The Hand easily take him prisoner.
After getting swatted around for a while, Blaze wakes up to his first and only torture session. The leaders of the Snakeroot Clan decide to do this personally. They demand to know who sent him but Johnny's not going to let anything go. It's not that he feels loyalty to the Kingpin. He just doesn't want to play this game anymore. He tells them that they won't get anything out of him so they might as well put him out of his mystery. The leaders of Snakeroot comply.
For a moment, Ghost Rider tries to take over to save his human host's life... or however their bond works these days. It looks like Johnny is in the driver's seat in both forms nowadays so it makes it easy for Blaze to deny the transformation and die. God, or someone acting a lot like Him, isn't so easy to deny. A voice from on high tells Johnny that he won't be dying at this time. Blaze knew that part was coming and he changes to Ghost Rider form to tell God that he'll go back but he wants some back-up.
The leaders of the Snakeroot Clan are still trying to work out who sent the Ghost Rider when everything starts crashing down around them. They go out of their torture room to figure out what's going on while Ghost Rider climbs out of whatever pit he's fallen into after getting killed.
The Hand are being attacked by an army of angels. The leaders of Snakeroot finally have a look of terror on their faces as their ninjas fall. Ghost Rider walks out behind them to tell the trio all about how the swords of Heaven act a lot like a Penance Stare. He then tells the angels to focus their attacks on the Snakeroot Leaders. This is a one-time deal but it's satisfying for Johnny Blaze so I guess it works. One of the Snakeroot guys points out that he's doing exactle what he was ordered to do but Johnny doesn't care. These guys seem to deserve it.
Ghost Rider asks for his bike and the poor Snakeroot Leader points it out to him. Good times. The Ghost Rider drives away from the ancient fortress, leaving the army of angels to mop things up. The incident has freed him from the Hand's magic so there's no telling what he'll do next. It could get crazy.
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Declan Shalvey
In this story:
• The Thunderbolt program is in danger of ending all because Luke Cage can't keep steady hours.
• He's actually dealing with that whole Shadowland thing and fighting off fake Iron Fists.
• An old friends shows up to tell Luke that her son has been taken to yet another underground prison filled with super Hand ninjas.
• The T-Bolts are forced to eat with the regular inmates at the Raft. Hilarity ensues.
• Cage calls in the Thunderbolts for a special, unapproved mission to free some prisoners. Then he takes off.
• The Thunderbolts head underground and run into tons of Hand ninjas. They can combine into more powerful ninjas.
• After a big fight, the Fixer and Songbird are knocked out and/ or sliced through.
• The Thunderbolts are left without handlers.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
If there is a key to success, it's joining in on every crossover in an attempt to boost sales as much as possible. The Thunderbolts have not gone one issue without one banner or another gracing the top of their comic since the Dark Reign began. This month's entry is Shadowland. It makes sense. Luke Cage is heavily involved in the event so it stands to reason one of the teams he leads would get involved. Since the New Avengers is in the middle of a magic event, it falls to the Thunderbolts to fight ninjas.
Remember when I said Luke was heavily involved in Shadowland? You should because it was only a couple sentences ago. It seems his Shadowland appearances have caused him to not show up for work at the Raft. The program is kind of dependent on him putting in some hours and with him being absent, the entire T-Bolts operation is put in limbo. If Cage doesn't show up soon, it might be over with. What that means right now is that the Thunderbolts can't hang out in their fancy headquarters and have to eat with the general population.
Luke doesn't seem all that interesting in going to work today. One of his long-time aquaintainces just went off the deep end and it's something that needs to be dealt with. Instead of calling in sick for work, Luke calls up his wife to let Jessica in on what's going down on the streets of Hell's Kitchen. This is very logical but you'd hope he'd have time to make two calls. After telling the wife what dangers he's facing this week, he sees Iron Fist hanging out in a tree and cuts his call short.
He told Danny that he needed some free time to make some phone calls but Iron Fist is all business, trying to figure out what their next move is going to be. Luke sees right through all of this and hits the fake Immortal Weapon with a trash can. Yeah, it was a Hand ninja is disguise. The attitude gave it away that this wasn't the genuine article. Since Hand ninja's fall so easily, this battle doesn't take long.
It also had an audience. A lady from Harlem, Lacy Kimbro, was watching the fight with her good eye and berates Luke for not hanging out in the old neighborhood anymore even though both Danny and himself volunteer their time at a local soup kitchen and even have an office in the area. Something tells my Kimbro's the one not paying attention to Harlem. Anyway, Lacy's not just here to nag. She's been looking for Luke to get the former Hero for Hire to rescue her son.
Kimbro's son, Darris, is a police officer who patrolled Hell's Kitchen. He's one of many who got taken by the Hand. Since this takes place AFTER the super-hero intervention, that means it also takes place after Ghost Rider's jail break. That means there's ANOTHER Hand prison. Kimbro is a fountain of information on the place. It's not run by regular Hand but by dead and raised Hand that would prefer if you called them the Underhand. Kimbro's kid learned about this prison and tried to do his own jailbreaking. The effort failed and Lacy hasn't heard from her son since. With this message delivered, Lacy Kimbro packs up her gear and heads home.
The Raft is a maximum maximum security prison which is the only prison in the nation capable of incarcerating super-powered criminals. These criminals are the baddest of the bad, too. Songbird and Moonstone sit down in the general population cafeteria with the rest of the women and just get snarked on. You have to wonder WHY SONGBIRD IS EATING WITH THE PRISONERS. Do the guards have to eat down there, too? We know Melissa isn't IN JAIL. We also know I can type in ALL CAPS for EMPHASIS. There's no reason why Songbird is even eating with these people, especially after last issue's prison riot. These are the girls who tried to take her down a few pegs. No way she would be down there.
It all sets up a scene with Gunna, though. The Troll girl helped Songbird stop the riots in the women's quarters last issue. This has made the girl popular but not in a good way. They watch Gunna eat like a savage and keep the mocking coming until the Troll/ Asgardian tells them that she's used to eating people. That'll stop any conversation.
The men aren't faring much better. Ghost, Juggernaut, and Crossbones have to put up with the same treatment as the women. Not much important happens in these scenes except that it looks like the T-Bolts are sticking together and following Crossbones instead of looking up to the example set by Luke Cage. This isn't how things were supposed to go which means it was obvious that they would go this way. Juggernaut destracts a guard so that Crossbones can choke another con who was getting a little too lippy.
Oh! There's another development that shouldn't escape your notice. Crossbones was maybe kind of exposed to a deadly Terrigen Mist/ Plutonium combination last issue. All the medical tests came back telling him he was clean but there's some evidence to the contrary in these scenes. CB has a nasty rash on his hand that is most likely a result of his exposure. Time... will tell.
Everyone's called back to T-Bolts HQ by the Fixer (who definitely wasn't going to eat in Gen Pop). Their next mission is right over in Hell's Kitchen so the Man-Thing doesn't have to teleport them too far. They meet up with Luke right after porting and their boss explains things as they walk. I don't really need to go over it again since it's pretty much what Lacy Kimbro told Luke a couple pages ago. The Thunderbolts are to take down an underground fortress filled with ninjas that are already dead. Oh, and Fixer is in charge because Luke has more important business to take care of. In a private moment, Fixer asks how legit this mission is and learns that it's not an approved activity. Luke is using the Thunderbolts as an off-the-grid group. We'll see how well that works out.
Since we're dealing with the already dead, lethal force is fine. The Hand are now on the approved kill list if they weren't already. The Thunderbolts know that this mission is on the black ops side but it means travelling outside of prison to kill people so who's complaining? Moonstone? That's what she does. Ghost does as well but that's because he sees conspiracy wherever he goes. This one is mild in comparison to some of the others running through his brain. He just goes along with it after saying his peace.
The team heads underground and begins tracking a number of life signatures. They run right into about a zillion rats and think they've been on a wild chase for geese until Ghost tells them that the rats AREN'T what he was tracking. Swords start flying as the Underhand reveal themselves. Fixer lights up the chamber and an army of ninjas stands revealed.
There's no strategy in the Thunderbolts' defense. Fixer isn't a trained leader and Songbird doesn't even try to step on his toes. It's pretty much every T-Bolt for themselves. When Crossbones sees that the Man-Thing's touch burns the Underhand the same it would do to anyone else knowing fear, he is inspired and starts unloading a flamethrower into his enemies. It leads to a small victory but the battle is far from over. Some of the Underhand leap into each other, creating a super powerful ninja (probably). This gestalt ninja is strong enough to even kick Jugs off his feet.
Fixer finally starts doing some actual leading right before being run through by a pair of swords. Songbird sees this and tries to reach her friend. She doesn't make it before being knocked out by another swarm of ninjas. Moonstone watches both of her handlers fall. She gets a look in her eye that shows she's not all that interested in saving either of them. She'd rather take advantage of the situation.
Shadowland: Power Man #2
Writers: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Mahmud Asrar
In this story:
• Victor Alvarez fights with his dad in a flashback scene. They're in that condemned builting for Dark Reign- The List: Daredevil so we get to watch as it expodes once more.
• In the relative present, Victor's mom finds out that her son isn't actually asleep in his bed.
• Instead, Alvarez is dressing up as Power Man and doing the Hero for Hire bit. This led to a confrontation with Iron Fist and Luke Cage.
• A drug dealer notices the three heroes fighting and calls up someone who would be interested in the fight. That person calls up the Rivals.
• It's a crazy battle on the rooftops as the three heroes fight off some fifth string bad guys.
• After the fight, the new Power Man apologizes for breaking into fight mode and Luke realizes WHO Victor is. It's an old friend's kid.
• Daredevil lifts his ban on killing. Some ninjas decide it's time to deal with Power Man.
• Victor's cousin helps him into their apartment and also helps him with a cover story.
• Power Man's origin is apparently tied to Deadly Nightshade.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The road to the fall of Daredevil all started in Dark Reign- The List: Daredevil when Bullseye sent a condemned building to the ground. The problems was the building was filled with protesters. They all died in the detonation except for one guy who ended up with super powers. That young man is Victor Alvarez.
We cut back to that building before it gets all explody for a conversation between Victor and his father. His dad is telling him that once they save this building from being demolished, Victor is going to stay here with his mother. It looks like Victor's parents' relationship has eroded just as his father has gotten his life together. This is because even though the elder Alvarez has given up the bad life, he still sees battles that need fighting. Like saving this building, for example. His wife thinks all fighting is wrong and it leads to one argument after another and... well, they just can't resolve their differences. Of course, the teenager in the room finds this hard to accept and his last words to his father are insults on his strength and character.
Then the building explodes, ensuring that they are words Victor will never be able to take back.
In the first panel in this sequence, a pair of goggles is featured. This will give you a clue on WHO Victor's dad is but we'll get to it soon enough.
In the present, Victor's mom tries to have a meanful conversation with her son after bedtime and learns that his bed is stuffed with toys. I think someone just got double grounded.
On the streets of Spanish Harlem, a drug dealer is dealing his drugs to a moron white dude who thinks he's street. Wu Tang, yo. The kid changes his tune when Luke Cage drops off a rooftop right on his shiny car. Something like this could happen anywhere considering the places Luke ends up as an Avenger but there's little time given in identifying just what black guy fell on the car. The kid and his girlfriend run off to find a way out of this neighborhood.
From the roof, the brand new Power Man taunts the old Power Man, making sure to use Luke's birth name of "Carl" in every sentence. It's another guy telling Luke Cage how the former Hero for Hire abandoned the street for a mansion and a white wife. The jab at Cage's wife is below the belt and Victor doesn't actually finish the line. Maybe he thinks better of what he's saying or maybe Luke just doesn't let him finish. All we know is what got out of Alvarez's mouth was enough to piss Cage off.
So much so that Luke leaps right back up on the rooftop. Iron Fist is still up topside but is finding that his best martial arts moves are being blocked with ease. Throughout this fight, we learn that Power Man can someone emulate abilities and even seems to pick up on experiences. It's not certain how it's done but during his fight with Iron Fist, he gets visions of K'un L'un, the dragon Shou Lou, and Lei Kung the Thunderer.
On the street below, the drug dealer didn't bug out like the white kids. He looks up and recognizes Power Man from Victor's adventure in Purgatory last issue. The drug dealer has a tattoo for the Rivals gang on the back of his neck. After seeing PM, he makes a quick call to someone known as "DNS." DNS turns out to be a lady who is very interested in taking down this young punk. She calls in a "Flashbomb," calling in some old Luke Cage villains (Cheshire, Mr. Fish, Comanche, Chemistro, Spear, and Cockroach Hamilton) to deal with Power Man and company. None of these guys are "A" material but someone thinks they're competent enough for the job.
The fight on the rooftop is still going down. Iron Fist decides to take off the kids gloves but it doesn't do him much good. Power Man absorbs his delicious Chi and knocks him and Luke Cage across the roof. Ths move makes Power Man shaky on his feet but it's effective in putting some distance between him and his opponents. This is when the Rivals show up.
Power Man fights this crew on his own but doesn't do as well as he was against Luke and Danny. The Rivals are much better at this teamwork thing than you'd think. Cockroach shoots Victor at point blank range with a shotgun (he calls it Josh which is hilarious) but Alvarez's powers keep him from turning into swiss cheese. After a comedic battle with Mr. Fish, Power Man is pinned to the wall by Spear just in time for Iron Fist and Luke Cage to take over.
These guys are old hat for the former Heroes for Hire. This is funny because Power Man was holding his own against the two but couldn't stand up to the Rivals. Now, Iron Fist and Luke start mopping the floor like it's old home week. Eventually, Comanche gets in a good shot on Luke but Iron Fist is still there to back up his partner. During the small amount of downtime between Iron Fist's save, Comanche is able to relate how their former gang member/ friend, Shades, quit the crime scene and went legit as a community organizer. This lead to Shades' death. This is important.
After Danny decks Comanche, both he and Luke are stuck in place by Chemistro who is arguably the best of the Rivals because he's had actual appearances in other books. Power Man has recovered by now and gets to save the two Avengers from a slow death by a C-lister. Luke and Danny are still trapped in ice cages so there's no return to the fighting between themselves and Victor. This gives Vic a chance to apologize for almost talking smack about Luke's wife. That WAS a line he shouldn't have crossed.
Still, he's Power Man for a reason. He wants to "make things right." Luke gets a good look at Alvarez and finally figures out why Vic knows him. Power Man is the son of Shades. Iron Fist doesn't know this yet and he tries to get the new Power Man to come in for training. That's... not gonna happen. Victor doesn't even realize what he's doing with his powers but he doesn't want anyone's help. The two heroes break out of their icy cages as the new hero leaps away. Luke isn't interested in following now that he knows who's using his old moniker. There's some super-hero interventioning to do. They need to get over to Shadowland #'s 2 & 3, STAT!
And that's when we cut to the scene in Shadowland #3 where the battle in Shadowland is raging between the Hand and the heroes. Daredevil lifts his ban on killing. This is important because three Hand ninjas have some personal matters to attend and this'll help them out. Last issue, Power Man defeated this trio in Purgatory but unlike previous fights with the Hand, these three didn't disintegrate. Now that they can kill in New York, they decide that vengeance sounds pretty good.
The battle with the Rivals was a whole lot more damaging to Victor than he let on last night. When morning hits, Vic hasn't been able to get inside and a good look at him shows that he's seriously hurt. When his cousin, Sofia, passes by him, he enlists her help to get him inside and, hopefully, past his mom. Sofia isn't very friendly to Vic but she's family so she helps anyway. Besides, if Victor gets into too much trouble or his identity as the new Power Man is revealed, he might have to stick around longer and if there's one thing she wants, it's her cousin out of her home.
Somehow, the two get into the apartment without Vic's mom seeing them. Alvarez is able to get his costume off and starts washing up in the bathroom. With the suit off, the damage Victor took is a whole lot more apparent. He looks like he just went ten rounds in a boxing ring. Of death! Bruises on bruises is what I'm saying.
When his mom finds him in the bathroom looking just this side of death, you can tell she's not happy. She shouldn't be. Sofia is quicker on her feet than Victor and tells her aunt that Vic survived an attack by the Rivals (this part is true). They wanted him to join up because his dad was a member and when Alvarez refused, they took it out on him (this part isn't so true). It's convincing enough that Victor's mom believes her and forgets all about him staying out all night and skips straight to the hugging.
At Riker's Island, Big Ben Donovan has been working on getting whatever Rivals he can out of jail. When he's done, he meets a limo outside to report back to his boss, DNS. He tells her who's out and who's in and then gets to reporting on the new Power Man and how his powers work (as much as he could glean from the Rivals, at least). This convinces DNS that Power Man is using stolen gear that belongs to HER. It seems whatever it is that powers Power Man was stolen by Victor's father.
To end the issue, we find out who DNS is. It's Deadly Nightshade. I think I last saw her in the pages of Black Panther. Cool villain. :)
Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #3
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
In this story:
• Steve remembers how he used to get beaten up as a kid back in the Depression.
• In the presence, Machinesmith taunts a non-super-soldier'd Steve Rogers while explaining his master plan.
• Steve gets knocked out and finds himself in a cell.
• A group up super-thugs enter to kill him but Steve is still the best trained soldier ever and kicks some serious tail feathers.
• Rogers activates Anita Erskine and she reactivates the super-soldier serum in his body.
• More fighting super-thugs.
• Anita and Steve team up to take down the Machinesmith,
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Steve Rogers wasn't always the paragon of the human form that he is today. Back before he recieved the super-soldier serum, Steve was a skinny little runt who was declared unfit for military duty. He grew up sickly during the depression. It made him an easy target for the other kids. Times were tough. Kids were brutal. A young Rogers got kicked around a lot.
Now, he finds himself in a similar situation. Well, he's being threatened by a bully after losing his super-soldier powers. The Machinesmith has a masterplan that involves mass producing the super-soldier serum for pretty much anyone who can pay for it and he needed Steve here to complete his tests.
It's a pretty standard plan and you've probably figured it out already but here it is in a nutshell: Machinesmith pretended to be security chief Myron Smith and made a special robot, Anita, with the looks and some personality/memory traits of one of Steve's WWII girlfriends, Cynthia Glass (who was also a Nazi spy but that's not important right now), to have Jacob Erskine fall in love with and marry. Anita convinced Jacob to change his last name to his maternal grandfather's last name, Erskine, to attract the attention of Steve Rogers. Jacob was trying to develop the super-soldier serum into a cure for cancer. Machinesmith, who was pull all the strings for this scheme, had less altruistic motives.
He's particularly pleased with how Anita turned out. Not only did she put Steve off his game, it was also torture for HER because she didn't realize she was a robot.
So, the proto-super-soldier serum has been injected into a number of Machinesmith's human lackeys so they all look like steroided out musclemen. Steve looks the exact opposite. The dude is positively scrawny. Machinesmith keeps the taunting up for a bit before getting annoyed at Steve's protestations of selling the SS Serum. The robot asks his thugs to knock America's Top Cop out. They happily comply.
Rogers wakes up in a cell. He tries to get a hold of Sharon on his ear piece but it's not working. With a guy like Machinesmith behind all of this, it's not a surprise. While he waits for the evil robot to return, Steve gets in some excersize and then sits and waits. Machinesmith shows up in holographic form which makes Steve wonder if the egomaniac is actually SCARED of him. It looks like it just means Machinesmith is gone. The Super-Soldier Serum has been recreated. That means there's no need to keep Steve around any longer. MS's crew of steroid thugs enters to deliver some death and the hologram disappears.
The lackeys lead Steve down the hallway. Rogers knows that when this trip is over they're going to shoot him with the shotgun that one of them is carrying. He has no intention of letting this go that way. He remembers how he got beat up as a kid and we find out what he got out of that experience. Apparently, it was a sense of justice. Steve might not be a super-soldier at the moment but he's still the best trained soldier ever produced by the United States. His mind didn't go away, just his peak human strength and reflexes. Rogers slips out of his shirt and starts kicking some major @$.
It's fun watching these musclebound morons get punked. It's a violent exchange. Steve gets a hold of the shotgun and fires it at one of the dude's legs. After that, he basically uses it as a bat. The second guy lasts a bit longer but Rogers knocks him to the ground with a fire extinguisher and then drops the thing on the super-thug's head. Don't worry, though. It didn't kill anyone. It probably just gave the criminal a headache and a nap.
Steve Rogers leaves the hallway and gets back into the clothes he came here in. After getting properly dressed, he finds the deactivated Anita Erskine robot and puts her face back on. This turns the robot back on. This doesn't seem like the best idea ever. Machinesmith has a knack for entering whatever computer device he wants to. This is a robot HE created. Sure, she seems sympathetic enough but you'd think Machinesmith would have failsafes against using his own tech against him. Maybe this is the case or maybe Steve knows what he's doing.
Time will tell.
Anita is still coming to terms with the fact that she's not human. She's not... real. Steve doesn't really have time to get her through that. There's a villain preparing to sell the super-soldier serum to the worst kind of people and he needs Anita's help to stop this. She knows where the super-soldier tests happened. All she has to do is access the memories. A moment later, Anita is leading Steve to the lab.
According to Anita, Steve still has the super-soldier serum in his veins. Machinesmith has just denied him access to their special powers. With a blast of vita rays, Steve gets his strength back. That's good because more super-thugs are converging on their position.
While there are more of them this time, Steve has the added advantage of being back to full strength. He's also got his energy shield. His anger shows through the fight. He doesn't just take them down; he beats the crap out of them. When the violence is finished, he sees Anita looking at him with a horrified expression. He tells her that sometimes you gotta punch a dude in the face until he stops moving and if she had any of Cynthia Glass in her, she'd understand. It's uncertain if she actually DOES have Cynthia's MEMORIES but she reluctantly follows Steve.
They drive away from the Erskine facility and head for Madripoor. Steve doesn't really know where they're going. He's hoping Anita will tell him where Machinesmith would most likely try selling the super-soldier serum. She thinks for a bit and then recalls a Nextin base. It has an airstrip. Sounds like a good place to start. Steve asks if she's going to come with him and see this through. She looks upset by the question but then decides that she's going.
Heroic Age: One Month To Live #3
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Shane White
In this story:
• The Fantastic Four take Dennis to space!
• It's a mission to stop Ego the Living Planet from destroying the universe.
• The Fantastic Four make Dennis a permanent member of their team, complete with a costume change. And then, another one.
• The Fantastic Four start their mission. Thing and Torch start attacking things on the surface of Ego while Dennis uses his powers to squeeze all of Ego's excess mass out.
• Dennis learns that Ego is suffering from some alien attack (which they call some form of cancer).
• Sykes extracts the cancer and Ego leaves after thanking Dennis for the impromptu surgery.
• Reed finds out some more bad news but doesn't reveal it this issue.
• Kelly blows up at Abbey. Wolverine arrives with his claws out.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Dennis Sykes was just an ordinary dude working a horrible job until a run in with some moronic gang members left him with a stomach full of toxic waste. This gave him super powers but it also accelerated his cancer which he didn't even know he had up until then. Now, Dennis has one month to live (give or take) and a lot of things on his to-do list.
It's possible that saving the universe wasn't really on that list but that's one he's going to check off this issue. After his family learned about his cancer last issue, the FF showed up with a mission tailor made for a matter/ energy manipulator. They scooped him up and headed for the center of the galaxy.
Reed does the explaining because it's sort of his job. Ego the Living Planet is flying around the galaxy core, consuming stars and growing larger at an exponential rate. This won't do because he'll threaten all known life in the galaxy within a week. Fortunately, Reed has.... a plan. It involves Dennis using one of Mr. Fantastic's devices to direct his powers in a specific way.
Before they reach their destination, Ben talks to Dennis about what's going on back on earth. How is his family taking the news? Sykes says they're handling it like troopers but his tone of word balloon gives away that things are definitely not going down well. How could they?
That'll have to wait for later, though, because they are now flying towards Ego. Ben puts them into orbit and Reed directs everyone to the landing pod before Sue pulls him back. They've got a ceremony to complete first. If there's one thing you have to love about Reed Richards is that most of his inventions involve funny hats whether they need it or not. He puts on one of these funny hat inventions and aims a gun at Dennis. The gun alters his costume, making it a replica of the Fantastic Four's uniforms. Dennis has now become a permanent member of the FF!
Of course, everyone knows that Dennis has a definite expiration date but it's the thought that counts. Sykes is pretty cool with all of this except for the uniform thing. His suit had a lot of sentimental value because it was his dad's old army uniform. Reed apologizes and uses the costume rearranger to alter Dennis's clothes once more. This doesn't get Dennis his dad's clothes back but it DOES change the suit into something similar to what he was previously wearing only now it has a super-hero edge. Since Dennis was just talking about how important the helmet was to him, you'd think he'd be mad not to get it back in proper condition but he is actually happy with how the new suit turned out.
Now, they just need to come up with a codename. Dennis had chosen "Matter" last issue but Spider-Man wasn't a big fan of that. Sykes doesn't even mention it when the FF start throwing out new names. It's Sue that comes up with "Flux." And that's what Dennis goes with.
Formalities and welcomes into the world of super-heroes is over and it's time to stop the end of the Galaxy. While Mr. Fantastic stays aboard the main ship, the rest of the team boards the landing pod and crashes on the surface of Ego. Torch and Thing start hitting the planet. This brings Ego's attention on them, leaving Flux open to perform his part of the plan.
Dennis reaches out to Ego with a lot of help from Reed and his machines. Sykes' job is to reshape Ego and make the Living Planet expel all that built up star power. Dennis is making progress on this front but notices that Ego is in a hell of a lot of pain. This doesn't stop the plan but Reed has to keep talking Flux through it. This keeps going but the pain's source is pointed out to Dennis before the process is complete.
Back on earth, Kelly, Dennis's adopted daughter/ niece, wakes up to a crash. She leaves her room to find out what's going on and sees that Abbey, Dennis's wife, has dropped a glass of water (or something with glass and water in it's makeup) after reading a letter. Abbey races out of the room but Kelly is curious enough that she walks through the broken glass (barefoot) to read the letter herself. There are actually a couple letters. The first one is from First Empire Bank and basically tells them that they're house is going into foreclosure if they don't start paying their mortgage. The second one is from Dr. Alvin Williamson. It looks like Dennis went in for a second opinion and, yeah, the big C is eating him away. The doctor doesn't really recommend any treatment because it's just too late for anything to be effective. There's also the matter of his insurance being cancelled. That's another healthy bill.
Have I mentioned how hard some of this is to read? It's really depressing stuff in places.
Back in the Galaxy Core, Dennis tells Reed that the pain he's sensing from Ego isn't because of all the energy their forcing the Living Planet to expel. Well, some of it is but there's another problem. Reed finally realizes why Ego's devouring all these stars in the first place. There's some thing inside Ego that is acting like a cancer. Flux should be able to find that foreign matter and take it right out of Ego. With a little coaching and probably some luck, Dennis is able to extract the alien life form. Cancer. Whatever this thing is.
Up in the ship, Reed isn't just monitoring Ego. He's also looking at Dennis's readings. Something doesn't look good. Richards gets a concerned look on his face. On Ego, Dennis drops to the ground again. Mr. Fantastic tells the team to return to the big ship. As they head back, a normal sized Ego flies up to the landing pod, looks through the window, and thanks Dennis Sykes for what he's done this day.
When the FF and Dennis re-enter the big ship, Dennis still looks shaken from his adventure. Reed tells him to sit down and get himself back together. Mr. Fantastic is about to tell him some more bad news but Thing tells him it'll wait for later. This is a time for celebrating. This isn't because Ben actually REALIZED that Reed came bearing bad tidings. Ben just feels like saving the galaxy should be rewarded with less talking and maybe some more cheering. Flux is of the same mind. He just used his powers to save the GALAXY. That's frickin' huge. If he can do something like this, isn't there a chance that he can beat cancer? As he tells the Fantastic Four all of this, we see Reed turn away with his eyes closed. Bad news, it is a'comin.'
But not this issue. We skip back to earth for a final scene with Abbey and Kelly. It looks like no one's going back to bed after reading those letters. The two sit down on the outside porch for a conversation about the future. Abbey tries to tell Kelly that they need to start dealing with Dennis's eventual passing. They can't stress him out about anything. They need to make him happy and comfortable for the duration.
Kelly... she has some issues. She's the daughter of Dennis's sister, after all. That means she's already lost one set of parents and is about to lose one more. You know that's got to be one of the hardest things a kid can ever deal with. She tells Abbey that she doesn't even really LIKE Dennis but at least he's family. When he's gone, she'll be stuck with Abbey who's not even really related to her. It's harsh words because sometimes kids say things not knowing how much they'll hurt the reciever. Hell, adults do it, too. After that outburst, Kelly retreats into the house.
Abbey's already dealing with a lot. Kelly's outburst hurts. She thinks about what she'll have to handle soon. Her husband is dying. Her adopted daughter hates her.
Wolverine is on her porch with his claws unsheathed.
Heroic Age: Super Heroes #1
Writers: Michael Hoskin, Chad Anderson, Anthony Flamini, Rob London, Sean McQuaid, Kevin Garcia, Markus Raymond, Gabriel Schecter, David Wiltfong, Peter Sanderson, Stuart Vandal, & Madison Carter
Artists: A whole bunch of talent
In this story:
• Steve Rogers enters the spirit realm to talk to Sayge, the spirit of truth.
• He asks Sayge what makes a hero.
• Yes, that's what the opening page says. I'm not making this up. Steve Rogers uses a mystic spirit guide, Black Crow, to talk with some guy about what makes a hero. It's that ridiculous.
• Remember when Norman Osborn used Quasimodo for the same thing? That was a lot more logical.
• Maybe they should have just said Steve Rogers rated the entire Marvel hero line and not made up some messed up story to justify it.
• OK, I'm done ranting.
Steve has just become America's Top Cop and he doesn't know if he's comfortable in that role. To figure out if he's the man for the job, he seeks out Black Crow. With Black Crow's help, Steve enters the Dreamscape and has a conversation with Sayge, the spirit of truth. They talk about the traits that make up a hero.
Steve gets a look at Sayge's face and finds it to be perfect and stuff and it opens his consciousness to see things he hadn't seen before. He comes out of the Dreamscape with his mind expanded but an hour later he can already see this hightened state is receeding. He starts writing down his thoughts and feelings on his fellow heroes before he loses his buzz.
Ah, hell. I didn't even get that Steve just dropped a WHOLE lot of peyote for his spirit journey. This whole page makes a lot more sense when you figure that in.
Anyway, the rest of the issue is like a who's who of Marvel "heroes." I put up the parenthesis because guys like Punisher are on this list and Frank Castle is NO HERO. It's an interesting read on how Steve thinks about all his fellow heroes, especially the mutants. They don't come off very well. Rogers is wary of Cyclops and has lost most of his respect for Charles Xavier. Even with the heroes working closely together these days, there are already cracks forming. It'll be interesting if any of this has some payoff in the future.
You also have to remember Steve wrote most of this under the influence of drugs. Odds are he'll read it in the morning and wonder why the hell he thought this all made sense the night before.
New Mutants #17
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Leonard Kirk
In this issue:
• Sam and Danielle kiss just to see if they're good at it.
• Illyana goes all Darkchilde and teleports the team to Limbo (and Warlock to Utopia)
• Once in Limbo, Sam and team pretty much follow Illyana's lead and start travelling towards their next lead in the rescue of Pixie.
• In the real world (or the Marvel approximation), General Ulysses and his Limbo Babies (all grown up) have destroyed the regular US Army.
• In Limbo, Illyana and her posse have entered a fortress to question Witchfire. The rival gives Illyana all the info she knows because she doesn't think it'll end well for the Darkchilde.
• In normal space, Pixie uses her halucinogenic pixie dust to make her captors see things that aren't there. It causes a little bit of chaos but not enough.
• The New Mutants travel to the Observation Gate. It takes time. Time is wierd in Limbo.
• When they appear on the other side of the gate, Illyana faces off against the Limbo kids and loses.
• It looks like the New Mutants are next.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The New Mutants are trying to get their heads back in the game after the fun that was Second Coming. For Sam, that means a party in the Texas Badlands with beer. When everyone is suitably drunk, Sam and Danielle get the brilliant idea to kiss each other to find out if they're any good at it. So that's why they kiss. It might mean something when they sober up or it might just be something they did when they were hammered.
Now back to the plot. Illyana senses an attack (on Pixie) and summons her Soulsword. She reverts to a more demon-like form complete with that sweet Darkchilde armor.
Now this might require some major backstory and I simply don't have it all. What I know is that this version of Illyana came back from the future after some disaster hit the X-Men. She tried making herself a visible target for whoever was going to bring about the end of things but those guys skipped her completely and went for Pixie instead. This gives the team little time to react to this and they're drunk so that hurts matters even further. Sam wants to get a message to the X-Men so Illyana teleports Warlock to Utopia. They'll have to travel through Limbo to make up on lost time and Rasputin doesn't want the techno-organic inside her realm. Without asking, Illyana teleports the rest of the team to her home away from home.
Limbo! If there's anywhere that I'm more sick of it's... well, it's probably the Savage Land but Limbo has been appearing a lot lately so it's annoying that we're back here again. Even the characters are sick of the place. With good reason. No-one is very friendly here, including Illyana who doesn't seem to be respecting Sam's authority. Illyana finally explains things to the team. Her "enemies" are going to take the soul gem out of the Pixie's Souldagger and use it to complete the Bloodstone Amulet (which is the amulet we saw last issue). This is bad, I guess. Magik tells them that they would only have an hour to save the world if they had stayed on earth. In Limbo, time moves all crazy so they have a few weeks to get things done.
Sam wonders if some of this could have been avoided if only Illyana were more up front with them and isn't really willing to follow her until she tells them that the way this all played out originally led to all their deaths. If they follow Illyana, they might do things differently this time around. It's not that motivating but what choice does the team have? They follow the Darkchilde.
On earth, General Ulysses has just shown General Combest that the Limbo kids that were supposedly killed a long time ago never actually died. That mystery is left unexplained for now. Combest isn't going to tell anyone, either. He is dead. So's everyone else on this military base that isn't working for Ulysses. The Limbo mutants are good. REAL good. The battle took half a minute. Scary good.
In Limbo, two weeks have passed as Ilyana and the New Mutants have travelled to another one of Rasputin's bases. This one has a prisoner that should prove particularly useful. It's Witchfire, the woman who devastated General Ulysses' Hatchery Base in Limbo last issue (in a flashback, natch). She's captured by Illyana's loyal demons now and is pretty talkative. It's not that Witchfire is loyal to Illyana. It's that she thinks this is the way to get rid of Magik and elliminate a rival. Illyana orders he demons to do some torture because that's how she rolls in Limbo.
Since it's been two weeks, the New Mutant crew is starting to look a little rough around the edges. Limbo isn't known for it's sunshine and puppy dogs. It's a dangerous place and you can tell these young adults have already seen their fare share of combat. The uniforms are torn. Wounds are bandaged. They aren't drunk anymore. It's terrible.
On earth, two weeks has NOT passed because time flows differently in the demony realms. Here, it's only been a few minutes. Maybe ten. General Ulysses has had Pixie brought into what Dr. Noc is using for a lab and they are working on extracting the soulgem from Pixie's Souldagger. It appears that removing the soulgem from the dagger will remove Pixie's actual SOUL. We all know what that means. She won't be able to get the automatic doors to open for her at the local convenience store.
Pixie is an X-Man, though, so it's not like she's not looking for any opening to escape the clutches of the big bad army dude holding her. She flutters her wings and releases her hallucinogenic pixie dust on the room. Everyone starts seeing things. Ulysses sees a leprechaun but realizes the illusion and doesn't react to it. The soldier holding Pixie sees bees. Not expecting a dangerous attack by lethal bees and fearing that he might have just accidentally walked into a terrible DC Event book, the soldier starts opening fire at his invisible targets.
Another two weeks has passed in Limbo and our heroes have lost even more of their uniforms to the deadly beasts of the land. The New Mutants have found the Hatchery, long since abandoned. Cypher checks out the computer systems and gets the background details on the place. He details most of the stuff we learned last issue. Main portal closed. Observational portal out in the middle of nowhere. The team sets it's destination on the second portal.
Back on the crazy little planet we call earth, General Ulysses is calming the soldier freaking out because of hallucinogenic bees by beating the tar out of him while a hallucinogenic leprechaun compliments the violence. The General gets a call that the Observational Gate is opening again. Out come the New Mutants.
Ulysses wasn't expecting that but he's a leader who thinks quickly on his feet. The Limbo kids are called in to play.
I need an official name for these guys, by the way. These were the babies who were used to open the portal to Limbo in the Inferno event way back in the day. The reason they aren't babies anymore is because they spent their childhoods in Limbo. This gives Ulysses and small army of mutant kids who seem to be extremely loyal to him for some reason. The just need a name so I don't have to call them the "Limbo kids" or other not-so-fitting things. The soldier who spent the last decade or so in Limbo call the "the babies" but that's not any more fitting since they AREN'T babies.
What they are is efficient. They took out a whole batallion of soldiers off-panel in half a minute. Do you think Sam's team of X-Men could do that? Maybe that should tell you who's side is stacked with power at the moment. The Limbo kids and Illyana bluster at each other for a bit before the Darkchilde begins her attack.
And is trounced. The Limbo kid named Toko takes a hit from the Soulsword and gets no damage. Illyana is too slow to react to this and the sword is taken from her. The leader of the group takes it from here, putting on his helmet and just kicking Illyana around for a full page.
Well, that was embarrassing for Magik. As the Limbo mutants get closer, we wonder how this'll look for the remaining New Mutants.
The Avengers #9
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Don Heck
In this story:
• Captain America has a psychotic episode where he starts seeing an image of Baron Zemo in the mansion.
• Zemo and his Masters of Evil pals escape the wierd dimension they're in.
• The Enchantress posts bail for Simon Williams.
• Williams is brought to Zemo's Amazon base and given superpowers so that he can join the Avengers and betray them from within.
• The newly christened Wonder Man needs to take a weekly antidote or die. That's how you get loyalty.
• After a scripted battle, Wonder Man is welcomed into the ranks of the Avengers.
• Except Cap doesn't believe his tale so the Enchantress uses her magic to gloss things over and get the Avengers to start looking for their own cure for Simon's condition.
• Williams brings Wasp to the Amazon base and she's captured.
• Wonder Man calls in the rest of the Avengers. It's all part of the plan.
• After a prolonged battle, all of the Avengers are defeated.
• Wonder Man decides it's the best time to switch sides ever. So that's what he does.
• The Masters of Evil escape. Wonder Man dies.
October 1964! Along with great comics like Amazing Spider-Man #17, Fantastic Four #31, Daredevil #4, and Sgt. Fury #11, Avengers #9 hit the stands with a sensational new hero appearing prominently on the front page. Of course, the story within showed that our new hero might not be the most heroic guy in the world... at least at first. In the end, Simon Williams went above and beyond what was expected of him.
That's not the only first that this issue gives us. It was also the first Avengers issue not pencilled by Jack Kirby. Instead, Don Heck, who you may know better from all those Iron Man issues I've covered, took on the penciling chores. Kirby wasn't done with the Avengers yet and returned sporadically for a few more issues but this was the first time someone else got the shot at penciling the book.
Silver Age Captain America has never been the most stable super-hero in Marvel's lineup. He's got some issues and most of them relate to the supposed death of his World War II partner moments before Steve was frozen in a block of ice for a couple decades. That means the death is still fresh in Rogers' mind even though it happened a long, long time ago (with the sliding scale of Marvel comics, it's now have a century ago but at the time it was only about twenty years. This might have contributed to Cap's going temporarily insane at the start of this issue.
Or it could be that he was taking peyote again. Either way.
The fact is, Cap sees a giant Baron Zemo and attacks it with his shield. It's not actually there. This isn't some trick on Zemo's part to convince the Avengers that Cap is going insane. It's all in Captain America's head. His big CRAZY head. The Avengers subdue their timelost teammate but don't sign him straight up for a psychological examination. I mean, they're all a little crazy, right? That blond one thinks he's the actual god of thunder. Hahahaha. Ha?
Anyway, Zemo isn't in the right reality at the moment. He and his two Masters of Evil allies, the Enchantress and the Executioner (both hailing from Asgard), were teleported to another dimension at the conclusion of Avengers #7. They've remained there all this time even though the Enchantress has the power to take them home. It seems she was too busy posing to remember she could just conjure up a spell and get their plot back on track. So... now they are in Baron Zemo's Amazon base where he's hidden since the end of the second World War. A new plan begins.
A week later, we hit the courtroom where Simon Williams is in court for embezzling money. He's guilty. No, really, Simon Williams embezzled money in an attempt to save his company after losing most of his business to Stark Industries. Over the years, the blame for this crime has gone back and forth between Simon and his more evil brother but I think the pendelum still swings in the "Simon did it" category. If it doesn't, it will soon so just pretend he's actually guilty and we'll move on. Bail is set for the fallen businessman and it's extravagant. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at things, the Enchantress is here to pay.
The two Asgardians lead Simon out of the courthouse with an offer: how would Williams like to get some revenge on Tony Stark by taking Iron Man down? Simon never agrees on panel but the next we see him is in South America in Zemo's lab.
In between that the last scene and the one in the Amazon, we get a look into what the Avengers do in their downtime. In the latest issues of Tales of Suspense, Tony Stark has actually been declared dead while Iron Man runs the company in Stark's place. Happy and Pepper are distrustful. Don Blake decides to go see if he has any patients that need some doctor attention. Soon, he won't even remember he's a doctor for months at a time so this is a rare moment. Hank and Jan "playfully nag" each other about their night's activities. Cap broods with the best of them about the death of Bucky.
OK. We can hit the Amazon now. Simon is alread laying down on a lab table waiting for Zemo to make him into a super-powered titan. The energies rain down on Williams and his body grows larger and stronger while the Enchantress and Executioner watch. To finish things up, Baron Zemo bombards Simon with concentrated ionic rays, increasing his strength to an unheard of degree. Simon rises from the table and gets shot by the Executioner to prove how invulnerable he is.
Zemo gives Simon a terrible looking costume, thus dooming the newly christened Wonder Man to one horrible suit after another for most of his career. They all head out to test Wonder Man's powers out even more and we see the newly powered man take down the Executioner. That means he's pretty strong. Enchantress wonders if Simon is TOO strong but Zemo's not worried. He's installed a failsafe. If Wonder Man doesn't recieve a weekly antidote, he'll die. Simon isn't very happy to learn this but it's too late to turn back now.
You'd think that Baron Zemo would just use his newly strengthened Masters of Evil to defeat the Avengers in a straight up fight but that's not how a Zemo works. Instead, he plans on having Wonder Man join the Avengers and eventually betray them. To that end, he and the Asgardian Masters rob a bank in New York because that's something they'd normally do. The Avengers respond to the robbery and Wonder Man shows up to help them win the day. Zemo and company escape before the Avengers can capture them.
Wonder Man tries telling them Zemo's cover story about being captured by Baron Zemo in South America and then given super-powers in one of Zemo's experiments. When Simon claims he was able to escape, Captain America calls BS on the story because he doesn't think the Nazi would have allowed any chance for Wonder Man to escape. Since the Masters of Evil are looking in on this scene, the Enchantress uses her magic to make the Avengers believe Wonder Man's story. She sweetens the deal by revealing to the Avengers that Wonder Man is dying and needs an antidote to his condition.
The Avengers all use their own talents in an attempt to cure Wonder Man but everything is coming up negative at the moment. Yes, even Rick Jones' Teen Brigade stealing medical books for the team. Iron Man tries to assure Wonder Man that a cure WILL be found but Simon's mind is still bent on revenge. Since the Avengers are looking at this from every angle they can think of, you have to wonder if Zemo actually HAS an antidote. He really only needs Wonder Man for this one mission and it's not like he's even pulled out the antidote to show it off. I bet there was no antidote and Zemo just expected Simon to do his job and die.
Wonder Man flies down to South America with the Wasp. The Masters of Evil take her prisoner and Simon calls up the Avengers to come on down south for a rescue. At this point, only Janet knows that Wonder Man is a traitor. The Avengers all pick up the message on their own since this team is pretty informal. They don't even have Quinjets yet which means everyone has to get to the Amazon in their own ways.
Iron Man arrives first and faces off against his deadliest enemy: a super-magnet. It's kind of embarrassing but at least he doesn't sing folk songs. Captain America shows up soon after and starts slinging that shield of his around. When Thor shows up, Wonder Man shows what side he's on and traps the god of thunder under a large boulder. Thor would normally be able to break out but he dropped his hammer before falling into the trap and that means he's reverted
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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