Welcome back to the greatest AvX column on the internet! Uncanny X-Men #17!, The Avengers #211!
You guys are back just in time for us to finish up the Sinister arc in Uncanny X-Men and to watch as all of the mutants leave the Avengers! It's an exciting time to be alive.
If you're a first time Super Reader, welcome to the insanity! This is what you just walked into: I read every AvX comic and then I break them down. The nutshell gives you a quick, short sentence summary. The bullet points... are probably self explanatory. With the summarizing all done, I go insane and write up a detailed report on just what happened in an issue and try to relate why it's important. I might also go off on any continuity or story incongruities. It's what I do.
This ain't my first rodeo. I've been covering Marvel events since Secret Invasion, back when I was a wide-eyed young fanboy with hope for the future. :) When this site gets everything back in order, you might be able to look at all of this work by checking out the Super Reads section. For now, a quick Google search can reveal a LOT of past work.
Here's some vital information:
Since we've only got the one new issue for this article, we don't have a lot to talk about but I thought I'd give you a run down of the entire Mister Sinister arc in Uncanny X-Men. This arc takes place AFTER the X-Men have been bestowed the power of the Phoenix Force in Avengers vs. X-Men #5 and AFTER Hope has left with the Avengers in Avengers vs. X-Men #6 but BEFORE the team went all crazy about destroying Earth's Mightiest in Avengers vs. X-Men #7. Right now, they're focusing their attention on taking down the guy who told Hope about the Phoenix in the first place.
Thus, the Phoenix Five have headed to Anchorage, Alaska, and dug down deep to where the X-Men villain has built his perfectly cloned society, Sinister London. Every citizen of this community is a clone of Sinister and is capable of housing his consciousness. If the current Mister Sinister is killed or imperiled, he can just move only to the next available body. They also serve as an army when the PhoeniX-Men attack their city.
The Sinister clones aren't the only thing that the X-Men have to worry about. Sinister London also has the "Menagerie." This is composed of combined clones of the Marauders as well as various X-Men clones. If that weren't enough, Mister Sinister built his castle fortress on top of a clone of Krakatoa, the Island that Walked Like a Man.
All of this is enough to take down every PhoeniX-Men except for Cyclops. Scott's defeat is more personal for Sinister and thereforE more personal for Scott. Cyclops encounters a number of Madelyne Prior clones. That would be his first wife and clone of his SECOND wife, Jean Grey. Just that statement is probably emotionally crippling enough to defeat the X-Men leader.
With the Phoenix Five defeated, Mister Sinister is able to use their Phoenix abilities to power his civilization, replacing the Sleeping Celestial that had powered it up until this point. The only thing standing in his way of a perfect victory are the remaining members of the X-Men Extinction team who arrived in Sinister London against Cyclops's orders.
That's all your vitals for this one. Now, read:
Uncanny X-Men #17
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Daniel Acuña & Mike Del Mundo
Art Assist: Dieto Olmos
Editor: Nick Lowe
The issue in a nutshell:
Mister Sinister successfully siphons the Phoenix Force from the Phoenix Five. Then, his whole plan falls apart when the Phoenix Force decides it doesn't want to be a prisoner anymore. The PhoeniX-Men kill Sinister and "all" of his immortality failsafe clones.
This issue by bullet points:
• A pack of Creeds devours the non-Phoenix-powered X-Men; but not really because it was all a psychic trick brought to you by Psylocke.
• Mister Sinister takes the Phoenix powers away from the Phoenix Five and channels it through his five Madelyne Prior clones.
• Unit sends Danger on a fact finding mission. She takes Psylocke along to provide some ninja stealth.
• Magneto and Storm make some noise and attract one of the Madelyne clones' attention. They are promptly defeated.
• Psylocke and Danger are discovered when the Maddy Clone scans Magneto's mind. With their cover blown, Psylocke leaves Danger in order to take Magnus out of the fight with a poison needle to his neck.
• Danger scans Sinister's Phoenix sucking device and Unit learns that it's perfect. He orders Danger to get the hell out of Sinister London.
• Sinister is otherwise engaged with escaping X-Men, giving Emma an opportunity to make telepathic contact with the Phoenix Force. She convinces it to free itself.
• Sinister's plans come crashing down around him as his Madelyne clones start blowing up before he can modify his machine to catch up to the Phoenix.
• The Phoenix Five kill Sinister and the entirety of Sinister London. Is it genocide to kill one man and all of his clones?
This issue in EXTREME detail:
We left off last issue with the PhoeniX-Men captured by Mister Sinister and his Sinister Forces and the un-Phoenix'd X-Men (Storm, Magneto, Danger, and Psylocke) standing on the edges of Sinister London wondering what they should do about it. This issue begins with those X-Men getting torn to shreds by a pack of Creeds (Sinister's many clones of the mutant, Sabretooth).
Before anyone ACTUALLY thinks that the X-Men were eaten, we find out that it was a telepathic ruse courtesy of British-turned-Asian telepath, Psylocke. Betsy Braddock took care of distracting the guards but she doesn't know what they should be doing next.
Since Sinister knows exactly what the Creeds are doing, he informs his Phoenix Five prisoners that their presumed rescuers are dead. Emma demands that he get a move on and kill them already but the villain tells them that murder isn't on today's agenda. He likes an captive audience when he starts his evil monologue. He tells his Madelyne Prior queens that they can sit down now that they've absorbed the Phoenix out of the X-Men (though it seems more like they're channeling the energies from the Phoenix Five since none of them has been de-Phoenixified and they still have that flaming way of talking).
Because he likes to be confusing, Sinister muses on what to do about Magneto and company, letting everyone know that he KNOWS they aren't really dead and that he was only playing around with Cyclops when he said they WERE. He drops a line about "Nimrod" but, again, he's playing with the X-Men and doesn't have a SENTINEL. He just wants the musical composition to be played by his Sinister String Quartet.
Clearly, Mister Sinister isn't worried about the un-Phoenix'd X-Men. To him, everything is well in hand.
After all, he's factored in exactly what the four X-Men will do.
What he HASN'T factored in is the fact that Danger is under the control of presumed X-Men prisoner, Unit. Unit is an alien robot who is trying to bring peace to the universe through tyranny. He's got a little more style than Megatron and a lot less violence. Unit can control someone by merely talking to them... which is a useful skill to have. Through him, Danger is given orders to investigate the machine that stole the Phoenix power from the X-Men.
Danger tells her comrades this plan (leaving out the fact that it was given to her by Unit) and informs them that while as a robot, she's telepathically invisible but lacks stealth skills. It's a good thing they brought along Psylocke. Danger forms up around Betsy like a suit of armor and the duo flies off towards Sinister's castle, leaving Magneto and Storm to keep the Sinister Army's attention.
Their distraction works. Mister Sinister has to interrupt his monologue long enough to order the fourth Madelyne Prior out to assist his soldiers. Since Madelyne Four has the power of the Phoenix on her side, don't expect Ororo and Eric to be able to stand against her for long. These are two VERY powerful mutants but the Phoenix trumps them just like everything else. It's an impressive fight, nonetheless.
When it's over, Magneto's helmet (which prevents psychic attacks) is destroyed and he is left in Madelyne Four's control. That means that Psylocke and Danger's infiltration of Sinister's castle is interrupted because Madelyne knows what they're doing. A telepathically controlled Magnus is sent to destroy his fellow X-Men.
With stealth no longer being all that important, Psylocke leaves Danger to complete the mission without her. Betsy decides the stick around and fight, leaping off of Magneto's thrown metal objects in order to reach the Master of Magnetism and plunge a poisoned needle into his neck. This renders him unconscious.
It's too bad that the same trick won't work on Madelyne Four.
At least it's given Danger all the time she needs to scan Sinister's Phoenix stealing machine. When Unit gets the data, he doesn't come up with any clever plan to defeat this machine. That's because he can't see ANY way of doing that. To his eyes, Sinister is using "perfect" science. Unit's recommendation is to run as fast as possible.
Since Danger is under Unit's control, there's no argument here. She just transforms into a jet, picks up the fallen X-Men and makes a quick escape. Mister Sinister watches this and tries to get some gloating in as his enemies make their getaway.
It's the moment Cyclops and the PhoeniX-Men have been waiting for. While sinister is not paying attention to them, Emma is able to talk telepathically to the Phoenix Force. She just needs to brush past one of the Madelyne clones in order to get a private audience.
It doesn't take her long to convince the Phoenix Force to act. This is, after all, just science. The Phoenix is bigger than that. When Emma asks it what it can do, it responds "Emma Frost, my beloved child. I am the Phoenix. I can do ANYTHING."
And the first bit of "anything" that it does is destroys Madelyne Four. She goes up in a burst of Phoenix Effect. Since Maddy Four was chasing down Danger at the time, this allows her to make a clean escape. Even watching Madelyne Four blow up doesn't change Unit's prognosis. He tells Danger to "keep running."
Mister Sinister sees Madelyne Four explode and heads over to his machines to figure out what's going on. He won't fix things but he does his level best. The rest of his Madelyne clones explode. Our villain knows a defeat when he sees one and orders his people to make a run for it. After all, one of them needs to get out of here so he can continue living after this body has been destroyed.
And make no mistake: THIS body is going to be destroyed. The Phoenix Five are free and they get right back to what they were doing in the first place. Their mission was to destroy this civilization and end Mister Sinister's life once and for all. They explode with a Phoenix Effect, destroying Mister Sinister, and then the Effect expands to wipe out the rest of the city.
So it's a good thing that Danger flew Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke outside of the blast area. It is Storm who asks if Mister Sinister is dead. Cyclops flies close to give his answer. The short answer is, "yes." The long answer is that the Phoenix destroyed any attempt that Sinister's clones made to escape. To Cyclops, that makes the world a better place. It also makes it "THEIRS."
Now, you'll be asking yourself: Is this the last comic I'll ever be reading with Mister Sinister in it? The answer is simple: NO. Of course not. What are you? New to comics? This isn't the first that Mister Sinister has been killed and it's definitely not the first time he's been surprised by his own unexpected demise. If there's one villain you can expect to keep returning, it's Nathaniel Essex.
I just wouldn't expect to see him SOON.
The Avengers #211
Writer: Jim Shooter
Penciler: Gene Colan
Inker: Dan Green
Editor: Jim Salicrup
The issue in a nutshell:
Captain America decides that to cut the team down to six members. Moondragon telepathically manuevers some non-Avengers to audition for the team which leads to a fight. When that is sorted out, all the mutants and robots quit the team and the Avengers is left with its six member roster.
This issue by bullet points:
• Captain America announces that the Avengers roster will be cut down to six members. He then gives the team the rest of the day to worry about losing their jobs before announcing the new official line-up.
• The team splits up and thinks about whether they want to be on the team or not. Most of them decide that they would like to remain.
• When the Avengers meeting is called, a lot of extra heroes show up, claiming to have been summoned by the Avengers.
• Without much of any warning, the newcomers start fighting each other in exhibition matches while announcing their training and abilities. They also mention that they are finding it hard to think.
• Jocasta points out the mastermind behind this whole thing. It's Moondragon and she was using her mental problems to hide herself from the Avengers. It doesn't work on a robot.
• The Avengers don't take kindly to Moondragon's telepathic incursion and after a few setbacks, they manage to fight Moony long enough for her to get annoyed at the team and take off.
• Most of the newcomers leave.
• Tigra and Yellowjacket join the Avengers after Wonder Man, Beast, the Scarlet Witch, and the Vision quit the team.
• The Avengers call a press conference to show off their new, sleeker line-up.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
This issue doesn't ACTUALLY feature any current X-Men but it has three FORMER (and original) X-Men on it so I'm including it just because of that fact. It's rare to see the old team meet up, after all. Let's watch!
In a move that does NOT reflect the modern franchise mentality of the Avengers, current Avengers chairman, Captain America, decides to cut the current team down to a six person squad. He rationalizes that a smaller group will work better together and will make it easier for the artist to draw the book in a timely manner. With a current team comprised of Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Jocasta, Beast, Wonder Man, Vision, and the Scarlet Witch, that's a cut of three members. No one's really happy with the idea of possibly being cut from the roster and Rogers tells the team to take a break so they can process this harsh announcement. They'll meet back up again in the afternoon to figure out who's staying... and who gets thrown on the street corner.
As the team mopes off, Beast decides to lighten the mood by being an asshole. He bounds around like a spoiled kindergartener, stealing Wonder Man's glasses and being a general nuisance in the name of comraderie. You can bet that's going to help his chances of remaining on the team.
As Wonder Man chases Hank McCoy around the Mansion, we move on to some OTHER Avengers and their reaction to Cap's announcement. Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, doesn't seem all that bothered. Her only concern is getting her hair done in a stylish manner in time for the meeting.
Wanda and Vision are taking the news a bit more seriously but their reaction is to take things straight up to the bedroom. Jocasta asks to talk to Vision before he goes up and satisfies his wife. She's a robot living in an organic world and would like some assistance fitting in on the Avengers from another robot. Miffed, Vision informs Jo that he isn't a simple "robot" but a "synthezoid" which is totally a different thing. He's got synthetic organs and everything. Claiming he can't help her fit in while insulting her status as a robot American, Vish flies up to the room he shares with Wanda, leaving Jocasta in even more emotional distress than she'd started with.
Let's leave that uncomforable scene and travel outside where Simon Williams is still chasing Beast, trying to get his sunglasses back so he can cover up those ionic eyes of his. Using his incredible strength and hyper-reflexes, Wonder Man catches Hank, takes back his glasses, and tosses the mutant a mile or so up in the air. McCoy falls back to the ground, terrified about being killed in such an ignominous fashion but he's caught at the last moment by Simon and all's well with the world.
Wonder Man tells Beast that he's voluntarily leaving the team. He's never been that psyched about living the life of a super-hero and it's time to move on with his life. Hank can't imagine that mentality, noting all the perks he gets being on the Avengers. Nothing's going to tear him away from this squad.
The afternoon meeting of the Avengers swiftly approaches and we see the Avengers Trinity (Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor) preparing for the get-together. Tony is catching up on some last minute business. Steve is training in the gym. Don Blake arrives by taxi and changes into Thor, thinking about how ungodly it is to sit in on what amounts to a "performance review." It seems Thor isn't sure he wants to be an Avenger anymore.
The taxi driver that brought Blake to Avengers Mansion pulls away but doesn't get far before he is compelled to leave his vehicle, open the trunk, and put on the costume of the Moon Knight. Yep. that's Steven Grant/Jake Lockley/Marc Spector. He won't be the only random hero making an appearance at Avengers Mansion today.
Moon Knight storms into the Mansion (Jarvis will note that the auto-defenses have been mysteriously turned off) and walks in on the Avengers Meeting, demanding WHY the Avengers have summoned him. Cap, sans cowl, similarly demands what Moon Knight is DOING here. And then...
We get a whole lot of other heroes who have arrived at the Mansion by some mysterious summons. From left to right, we have Hercules, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Angel, Yellowjacket, Dazzler, Tigra, Black Panther, and Iceman. It seems none of them are happy to be here because they all have stuff to do that doesn't involve the Avengers.
Moon Knight figures they're here as part of a membership drive and has no interest joining the team. Iceman thinks the same thing. Bobby Drake has given up the hero life (except for when Xavier summons him to help out) for the life of a college student studying Accounting. Both heroes tell the Avengers they aren't interested and try their best to leave.
Yeah... "try." Instead of leaving, MK and Iceman start fighting each other. Bobby even gives a running commentary of his training, like he's selling himself for membership. It quickly becomes apparent that they are being mind controlled... because they basically say "hey, we're being mind controlled." Moon Knight and Iceman are only allowed a certain degree of autonomy in their actions which means neither of them is fighting to the best of their abilities and skill.
As suddenly as their fight started, it ends. Marc Spector and Bobby Drake drop to the ground, to the confusion of everyone. Well, everyone except Hank Pym. Yellowjacket has figured out what's going on but before he can blurt it out, he's frozen in place. The next exhibition round is about to begin.
This one involves Warren Worthington III, the Angel, and Greer Nelson, Tigra. Just like Moon Knight and Iceman, this fight starts for no apparent reason. Angel is fresh off his stint with the X-Men and starts flying around the room while shouting "LOOK AT ME!" When Tigra looks, she feels the need to feast on birdflesh.
The Avengers decide to just let the fight happen, believing that the two won't ACTUALLY hurt each other. They're more concerned in finding whoever is manipulating the newcomers but Vision reasons that the mastermind is striking from a far off, remote location.
He's wrong. This is the doing of Moondragon and she's actually standing right behind the Avengers, using her telepathy to mask her presence. This works until Jocasta looks in her direction and points her out. That's the advantage of being a robot.
Moondragon explains herself. Kind of. Basically, she felt it necessary to play a hand in forming the new Avengers squad and set up these new members to show off what they could offer the team. She does this because she considers herself a goddess and above all of the lesser beings on the Avengers.
Hearing her speech, Hawkeye decides that it's time he took off. He's got a job, after all, and this little mind controlled meeting has made him late for it. Moondragon grants him leave, believing that Clint needs to be away from the team for a while.
As Hawkeye says, "Baldy, if you're so hot, why couldn't you figure that out without dragging me across town?"
This causes a small exodus as Black Panther and Black Widow join Barton in leaving. They both have their own business to deal with. Natasha has a good job at SHIELD with great benefits and T'challa is the king of Wakanda. So, y'know, stuff to do.
Moondragon allows them to leave and then turns her attention back to the festivites. Some of the Avengers demand that she stop all this nonsense so she does the only sensible thing: she telepathically freezes them in place. With that done, Moony turns her attentions towards Dazzler, demanding that the mutant display her powers.
Allison Blaire turns on her radio and fires up a light display. Dazzler also tells the assembled heroes that she can successfully roller skate. This impresses Moondragon but she sees that Alison is more interested in being a pop star and tells Daz to leave. Blaire thinks about staying to back up the Avengers but Scarlet Witch tells her to leave... and that's exactly what she does.
Wanda tells Moondragon to knock it off because the Avengers are perfectly capable of making their own decisions. Moony laughs at this notion because she can read minds and sees that a lot of the current team is only staying on the roster out of fear of the outside world. She figures it's better to treat them like the children they are.
Iron Man, one of the telepathically frozen Avengers, isn't able to move a muscle but he's still capable of thinking. Fortunately, thought is all that is required to activate his boot jets. He bursts through the ceiling and away from the mansion. Once above the building, Tony feels Moondragon's control over his body fading.
Now, it's time for some countermeasures. Shellhead sets up a field that cancels out Moondragon's telepathy. To protect herself, Moony has to release her control on the Avengers. The team tries to attack right off but is blocked by an energy shield sent down from Moondragon's orbital space ship.
Still, the prolonged fight frustrates Moondragon. Seeing that her divine help is unwanted, she decides to take her leave of the Avengers. Her ship transports her away to more important, cosmic matters.
The Avengers and their unintended guests are free. Thor tells the non-Avenger heroes to take a hike and most of them leave with only a little commentary. Yellowjacket, Tigra, and Hercules stick around.
Greer is kind of hoping that this was ACTUALLY a membership drive. Hercules stays long enough to make friends with Wonder Man by picking a fight with the ionic hero. When that's quickly finished, Herc takes Simon away to introduce him to some Hollywood types.
So that's one current Avenger down. Now, we just gotta get rid of some mutants. Beast, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision tell the group that they're leaving the team. It seems that Moondragon's words affected them and they want to see what the outside world would be like.
Jocasta is also leaving the team but that's because when Captain America counts the current roster, he forgets to count HER. Feeling unwanted, Jo leaps out of a window and out of the Avengers comic book. A page later, we learn that Jocasta was going to become a substitute Avenger who lived in the Mansion and joined the team on adventures when someone wasn't available. This would have definitely helped with her inferiority complex.
With Tigra and Yellowjacket joining the team (Hank tells Cap that his scientific studies aren't yielding any results so he might as well rejoin), Steve Rogers has his six members. The rest of the departing cast quickly exits the book by convenient taxi cab.
Now, all that's needed is a press conference that happens mostly off-panel and for the new line-up to shout Avengers Assemble in the last panel.
Hey, that's exactly what happens. Meet the new Avengers line-up: Tigra, Captain America, Thor, Wasp, Iron Man, and Yellowjacket. "Avengers Assemble!"
And that's all there was. I'll see you kids quite soon with even more Super Reading goodness.
Until next time: Have a good week!