Look who's back!
Today, we check out Daredevil #511, Shadowland: Power Man #3, Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #4, New Mutants #18, and Blast to the Past for Journey Into Mystery Annual #1. Enjoy and spread the word!
Shadowland is Shadowland-like, Steve Rogers is Super-Soldier-like, and the New Mutants are... not exactly New-like. Again, thanks go out to sdsichero and bkthomson for getting us back on the road again!
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Let the journey begin! Continue. Whatever.
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Roberto De La Torre
In this issue:
• With the ninjas busy inside Shadowland Fortress, Mayor Jameson sends the police to retake Hell's Kitchen.
• Dakota North takes out a couple rioters and then walks through the stunned mob.
• Detective Alex Kurtz and the police force with him run into Dakota, and she's reminded of Becky Blake, who is wheelchair-bound somewhere in Hell's Kitchen.
• Her building is also on fire, so that's awesome.
• Franklin "Foggy" Nelson has escaped the riot and made his way straight to Shadowland. The place is quiet. Too quiet. Nelson starts climbing.
• Blake starts falling. Down the stairs. The fire escape isn't exactly in a wheel chair accessible place. Fortunately for Becky, Dakota North is here to save her.
• Foggy finally climbs into a window and runs right into White Tiger.
• Del Toro grabs him by the hair and brings Nelson to the big end fight which looks just this side of over.
• She's ready to kill the lawyer (former) but Daredevil wants that pleasure for himself!
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Hell's Kitchen is a powder keg that went off a couple hours ago. The violence in the streets is at a frenzy and no one knows why they're suddenly punching and kicking everyone else. Not only do people have a strange capacity for mindless violence, but this is also a sign that the Beast of the Hand's power is growing. That is the opposite of a good thing.
Mayor J. Jonah Jameson doesn't know about the Beast of the Hand nor would he put much stock in that mystic mumbo jumbo if someone clued him in. All he knows is that an area of his city is going out of control and the ninjas that have claimed Hell's Kitchen have decided not to help. In fact, they've all retreated inside of Shadowland. This gives Jolly JJJ an opportunity to reclaim that little chunk of the NYC without Daredevil's private army interfering. He gives the word and Hell's Kitchen is flooded with police officers in riot gear.
That's pretty much just adding more violence into the mix.
Dakota North and Foggy Nelson were on the way out of Hell's Kitchen when they ran right into this mess. Like trained professionals, they got out on opposite sides of their car and are now separated. North realizes her mistake and stands on top of the vehicle, shouting for Foggy. She gets no response.
You know what happens to cars when they end up in the middle of a crazy mob. Yep, they get turned over. This happens while Dakota is standing on top of the thing and she drops off into the angry crowd. North gets up and moves people away so they don't get crushed under her now overturned motor vehicle.
Dakota North tries to talk some sense into this group but no one wants to listen. One dude even punches her from behind, knocking North to the ground. So that's the way this is gonna be...
Dakota gets back up and slugs her attacker to the ground. When the guy's friend tries some revenge action with a knife, he gets the same treatment. Not much would get these rioters to pause and take notice but that does the trick. The crowd parts to allow her through.
Close by, Detective Alex Kurtz stands on top of a police van, trying to calm the angry residents of Hell's Kitchen and get them to return to their homes. He's surrounded by police in full riot gear but no one can prevent the crowd's response. One guy fire bombs the van. Kurz gets off the vehicle as it bursts into flame.
Dakota North approaches the detective to figure out how all of this happened since she wasn't there to see the riot begin. Det. Kurtz blames everything on the robbery he witnessed with the fake Hand ninjas involved. This went down last issue. That may have been the thing that set the whole neighborhood off. Even if it wasn't, this riot was an inevitability. The mob is poisitively anarchic, attacking everything. The closer to Shadowland, the worst it gets.
Dakota asks if Kurtz saw a pudgy ex-lawyer anywhere in the crowd. It doesn't look like he has. North tells the Detective how Nelson blames himself for the hell going on in the Kitchen... which leads to Kurtz suspecting that Matt Murdock might actually be the Man Without Fear responsible for all of this chaos. Dakota North shrugs this off but suddenly thinks of someone else that might be in trouble: Becky Blake.
When Blake doesn't answer her phone, Dakota gets worried. Over Kurtz's strong protest, the private investigator runs away from the relative safety of the police to check on the handicapped lawyer. Detective Alex Kurtz curses Daredevil for bringing this to Hell's Kitchen.
Becky Blake is stuck in a wheelchair. This is usually no big deal because she's learned to adapt to the not walking thing and live a full and productive life. The riots right outside her window have her on the phone with 9-1-1 but the emergency line is so overloaded with calls that she's been on hold for an hour. That's why she wasn't able to take Dakota's call. No call waiting, I suppose.
It's not until the building starts on fire that the wheelchair becomes a liability. Becky is up quite a few floors and you're supposed to use the stairs if the building starts burning to the ground. Blake takes a look at those stairs and thinks how her situation just plummeted into crap territory.
Foggy Nelson is no longer practicing law in New York City. He's had a terrible recent history and sometimes a dude gets disbarred for standing up to a corrupt judge on the Kingpin's payroll. What Franklin Nelson is, however, is a true friend. He just wants to talk to his best friend. Foggy is certain that he and Matt could work this out if he could just REACH Murdock and talk the Hand Leader out of being so crazy. To this end, Nelson has escaped the murderous crowds and come to the gates of Shadowland. When no one answers the door, he just keeps talking, knowing that Daredevil's sensitive ears can hear his every word.
There's a lot of regrets in his one-man conversation. Everything is out of whack. I mean, THERE'S A MEDIEVAL JAPANESE CASTLE IN THE MIDDLE OF HELL'S KITCHEN. WTF? Foggy wishes they could just go back to the good old days when they were just two of New York's best lawyers and one of them played super-hero in his spare time. To be honest, I'd like that, too.
After saying his piece, Nelson starts walking away.
But that's not going to be how this goes down. Franklin Nelson isn't giving up on Matthew Murdock. The former lawyer walks back to the Shadowland Fortress and starts climbing.
It's actually pretty impressive to see. I mean, this is Foggy Nelson, people!
As Nelson heads up, Blake is on her own trip in the same direction. The fire escape is on a floor above her so she's taking the stairs one step at a time. Becky's actually doing a pretty good job but her luck runs out as the wheels slip up beneath her. She nearly joins her wheelchair on a chaotic ride down the rest of this flight of stairs. Becky catches herself and drags her way up the last few steps.
At least Blake is finally on the floor with a fire exit. The bad news? There's a ladder. Becky Blake curses the building for not being more handicap friendly. Up at the top of the ladder, Dakota North shouts down how Becky picked a building that pretty much HATED wheelchairs. Blake should be smarter than that. Anyway, it's time for both of these two to get out of the burning building.
Do you remember how Shadowland is supposed to be on lock down? In Shadowland #4, it was mentioned that the fortress was completely inaccessible except for that dungeon access point guarded by easily killed Hand ninjas. Well, it looks like that is TOTALLY UNTRUE. I mean, Foggy Nelson just entered the castle through a window. FOGGY NELSON.
The former lawyer had some difficulty reaching the window but he got in. When he drops inside, Nelson falls to the floor in exhaustion. That was a lot of work for him. While the hallway he's in looks clear to the untrained eye, it really isn't. It's guarded by Daredevil's lieutenant, the White Tiger.
Angela Del Toro drags Foggy by the hair into Daredevil's throne room. Now, extra spoiler alert but this part looks like it happens partway through Shadowland #5. The big battle appears done. Both heroes (like Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Ghost Rider) as well as villains (like all those Hand ninjas that should really have dissolved into green dust by now) are strewn all over the place. White Tiger is going to kill Nelson and thought Daredevil would like to witness the death of his former law partner.
From his throne, Daredevil stops his lieutenant. Angela takes this to mean that Matt doesn't want Foggy dead but it's not that at all. The leader of the Hand wants to kill Foggy Nelson himself.
Shadowland: Power Man #3
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Mahmud A. Asrar
In this story:
• Victor has a dream about choosing between two paths. Before the dream is over, he looks behind him and sees "Them that's always WITH you."
• Danny Rand looks through his records to figure out who the new Power Man is. He figures it out that it's the only survivor from the incident that led to Shadowland.
• When Iron Fist takes off to check it out, the Hand enter to give his computer the once over and learn the same info.
• Some corrupt cops meet in Hell's Kitchen. Their boss, Deadly Nightshade, shows up to set up a trap for Power Man.
• Victor gets into a fight with his mom about the virtues of his deceased father. He storms out.
• Iron Fist Shows up soon after. Reina Alvarez tells him everything.
• Power Man runs right into the trap with the corrupt policemen and finds that he has been rendered powerless.
• Deadly Nightshade tells Victor how he got power and then offers him a job.
• The Hand take Victor's cousin hostage.
• Iron Fist arrives and tells Power Man that his powers are spiritually based.
• And now, it's time to choose who he's going to follow.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Victor Alvarez has been given strange and mysterious powers after being the only survivor of the exploding condemned building that kickstarted the Shadowland event. He's also been having strange and mysterious dreams to accompany the powers.
In this one, he's dressed as a knight. A man standing in the middle of a flaming "X" in a field asks him which way he's headed. There's light or there's night. Alvarez can't make the decision so the man suggests that he asks "Them." Victor looks behind him and sees lots of people who look vaguely ghostlike. They're the people who are always with him.
For obvious reasons that we'll get into later.
Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, runs a dojo in Harlem modestly named the School of Thunder. This is where Daniel goes to make a difference in the community. He also volunteers at a soup kitchen.
Power Man was able to pull off moves he could only have learned in K'un L'un or in this dojo. Rand is going through his computer records to see if he recognizes the face he saw the other night but he's already pretty certain that Power Man isn't one of his students.
This is frustrated further by the fact that Danny's best friend seems to know who the new Power Man is, but isn't in the telling mood. Iron Fist is extra interested because someone like Power Man who can absorb chi could be useful in his war with mystical bad guys. He tells Luke this but the former Power Man still keeps his lips sealed.
And so, Daniel Rand uses the information at his disposal to try and ascertain the new PM's identity. He finds one kid who had remarkable talent but is obviously not the new Power Man because he's dead. In fact... he died when that condemned building came down in Hell' sKitchen. That puts Iron Fist in the right direction. After checking his computer for additional information, he races out of the dojo to confirm his suspiciouns.
As soon as he leaves, three Hand ninjas enter. These three are the same ninjas that faced off with Power Man in the first issue. They lost but didn't turn to dust for their failure. Now that Daredevil has permitted killing, they've made it their mission to track down Power Man and have a rematch.
The ninjas head straight for Rand's computer and check what Iron Fist has been using the internet for. After wading through WAY too much goat porn, the ninjas find a picture of Victor Alvarez, the only survivor of the aforementioned condemned building detonation which was officially labeled the "Hell's Kitchen Terror Attack." Even though Victor walked away from the explosion with no damage, they brought him to the hospital to get checked out. The picture shows him there, flanked by his mother, Reina, and his cousin, Sofia. The Hand now knows who Power Man AND his family is.
The police aren't welcome in Hell's Kitchen which is why the next scene is just a little suspect. At Finnegan's Pub, four cops sit down for a drink, still dressed up as policemen even though that would invite a Hand attack since the bar is located inside Hell's Kitchen. One of their partners runs into the bar. This is McManus, and he's just excaped the Shadowland dungeon when Ghost Rider stormed the place and freed everyone. McManus tells his partners this story but they don't believe him. The other policemen think the Hand let him go so they could follow him to more prey. They start beating him up.
If you hadn't guessed, these aren't the most upstanding policemen you'd meet. They are actually holed up in Finnegan's Pub to protect their treasure. Typical story: Bad Cops stealing money from good people.
Before the bad policemen can completely kick the snot out of McManus, Cottonmouth arrives, stopping the fight by biting into the arm of one of them. He's only the herald to the real power. Deadly Nightshade. The police actually bow before her. She's got a use for these guys. They're going to be part of her trap for Power Man.
Back at Victor's temporary home where his mom and him are staying with uncle, aunt, and a mess of cousins, Alvarez gets and email about the corrupt cops and their ill-gotten gains being held at Finnegan's Pub. Victor is still looking beaten up from last issue's battle with the Rivals but the chance of collecting some money for a job well done is too alluring. He grabs his bag and heads for the door.
His mother is waiting for him.
Reina Alvarez is like a super pacifist. She doesn't even believe in fighting for your home. That's cool, I guess, but she holds those ideals over everyone in her life, including her late husband and her son. She believes that Vic is heading out for a rematch with the Rivals. Even though she's wrong, it's not like the truth would get Vic through the door.
The two have a fight that quickly becomes about Voctor's dead father. Shades was a Rival that used to run with Luke Cage back int he day. While Cage went straight, Shades went even more bad, fighting Luke and Iron Fist with the help of another Rival, Comanche. Mostly, they lost. After repeating this pattern far too many times, Shades turned from a life of crime and started to turn his life around. He died in the explosion that brought down the condemned building in Hell's Kitchen. We saw that in the first issue.
Victor believes that his mother ended the relationship with Shades because of her hatred of violence. That's not so. It turns out that even after following a straight and narrow path, Shades was having an office affair. Reina reveals this to her son and the younger Alvarez stands there shocked.
With tears in his eyes and a few more choice words to his mom, Victor storms out. Soon, he's not the only one with tears in their eyes. Reina lets out a cry of frustration and then gets back to the business of being the mother of a rebellious teenage son. She checks out what Victor was doing on the computer.
In the middle of her search, Iron Fist appears behind her with some questions about her kid. As Reina tells Rand what she knows, Victor's cousin, Sofia, listens in.
Power Man arrives at Finnegan's Pub with the urge to relieve some stress with violence. He'll get that violence, but only on the receiving end. The five policemen deliver a savage beating to the new hero-for-hire after Alvarez's powers fail him.
Deadly Nightshade deactivated Power Man's abilities because she's responsible for them. She gave Shade a pair of glasses that fired optic blasts by absorbing bioelectricity. Shades turned over a new leaf before he could pay the glasses off and he never gave them back. DNS hands Victor over to Cottonmouth while she inspects Power Man's sunglasses. They AREN'T what she's looking for. She scans Alvarez and stops Cottonmouth from killing Power Man.
It seems that the sunglasses shattered during the "Hell's Kitchen Terror Attack" and went deep into Victor's flesh. It helped him survive the building's collapse and so much more since then. Knowing she can't get the bits back in any useful condition, Deadly Nightshade does the next best thing: she offers Power Man a job.
Sofia Alvarez might claim to hate her cousin but she's sure going out of her way to get him a warning. Reina gave Iron Fist everything on her son which means Danny Rand is coming Power Man's way. Sofia gives Victor's cell phone a call and leaves a message warning her cousin about all this. It looks like she's trying to make her way into Hell's Kitchen, too. That's not too good of an idea, all things considered.
Sofia doesn't have to actually get inside Hell's Kitchen to run into trouble. Those three Hand ninjas from earlier recognize her from the picture they saw, and capture Sofia straight away. Their plan is to lay a trap inside Shadowland using Sofia as bait. Daredevil wouldn't approve of capturing an innocent but... everyone's guilty of something.
It might just take a little torture to find where the guilt lies.
Working for Deadly Nightshade comes with quite a few potential benefits. It's a steady paycheck. She might be able to help Victor with these dreams he's having. Sure, Cottonmouth isn't happy about it because he's got a score to settle. DNS doesn't care about what Cottonmouth wants. This is her show and the super pimp works for HER.
All Power Man has to do to get gainful, if evil, employment is kill Iron Fist. Danny Rand shows up to make that just a LITTLE easier. He's also defeated all of those corrupt police officers without making too much of a racket.
Daniel Rand believes that Power Man's abilities are spiritually derived and that he is the best person who could train the fledgling super-hero. Deadly Nightshade admits that MIGHT be true but it would also rely on a super-hero keeping his attention on a case long enough to see it through. We've all seen too many cases of this or that plot thread being forgotten about until it blows up in our heroes' faces. Hell, who knows if the next summer blockbuster might claim the life of Iron Fist? Where does that leave Power Man?
Two paths. One light. One night. DNS reactivates Victor's powers. The new hero leaps in the air, still not knowing what path he'll choose. He says in the caption boxes that all there is to do is shut his eyes and choose. It looks like he's heading right for Iron Fist...
But then, Cottonmouth is just a bit further behind the Immortal Weapon of K'un L'un...
Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #4
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
In this story:
• Machinesmith starts the bidding for the Super-Soldier formula in his guise as Myron Smith.
• Steve, Beast, and Anita Erskine plan Machinesmith's downfall.
• After Steve and Anita enter the area, Machinesmith readies himself for Rogers' attack.
• Steve severs Machinesmith's head and dukes it out with all the machinery in the area.
• In the course of the battle, all of the mechanics in the room are destroyed.
• Anita enters to tell Machinesmith that all electronic equipment on the base has been destroyed and all signals in and out of the base have been blocked.
• Machinesmith enters Anita's body before his head is dispatched.
• Once in, Machinesmith is stuck and Anita's body is set to explode. Steve shuts the head off.
• In the aftermath, we learn that Machinesmith wasn't selling the Super-Soldier Serum. This leaves Rogers wondering what just happened.
• Professor Jacob Erskine is still alive and working for the Shadow Council! They're making their own army of Super-Soldiers.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Myron Smith is Machinesmith, the old Captain America villain who can jump from robot to robot at will. He's currently playing security chief for Nextin Pharmaceuticals and more than that, is pretty much running the company. After perfecting the Super-Soldier Serum, Myron has decided to sell it to the hightest bidder, calling in a lot of the United States' enemies for the auction. After running through how awesome this serum is, the floor is opened for bidding.
Closing in on Machinesmith's location is Commander Steve Rogers and Anita Erskine. They are driving through the streets of Madrippor, trying to formulate a plan to take down the mechanical menace. Helping them out on the planning is Henry McCoy, the Beast, who is working with Steve on the Secret Avengers.
Their plan hinges on Anita Erskine. If you've been reading this series, you'll know that Anita is a machine created by Machinesmith to mimic Steve's first girlfriend from WWII, Cynthia Glass. She was created to attract Jacob Erskine and push him into developing thie Super-Soldier Serum and then manipulate the professor into luring Steve Rogers to Madripoor. All of this she did unaware that she was doing any of it. She also didn't know she was a robot. Machinesmith's plan resulted in the death of Professor Jacob Erskine in the first issue's finale.
We'll learn that almost nothing in that last paragraph went down like we think it did but for now that's what Steve, Anita, and Henry believe happened.
Beast gives Anita a run down of his plans but it's a private conversation and we don't get the details just yet. It would ruin the story's climax.
Getting into Nextin's private base is a bit of a chore. Steve hides in the trunk while a security guard tells Anita that no one is allowed inside on orders of security chief, Myron Smith. As Anita is in charge of the company, she demands entry and gets it. When the car disappears around a corner, that guard reaches for a phone, most likely to contact his immediate supervisor.
Anita lets Steve out of the trunk and the two say their good byes. It seems like Beast's plan will end Anita's robotic life but she seems ok with it. When Steve presses her on it, Erskine says she must have been programmed to get really mad. There's a lot of rage in her over her false life.
Myron Smith's auction is still going on as the price starts to climb out of some bidders' range. Smith pauses the auction to answer his phone which alerts him of the intruders on the base. He smiles. Myron tells his guests to back up a bit and maybe duck. Steve Rogers is nearly here and it's time to get his gameface on.
Commander Rogers attacks as soon as Machinesmith reveals himself. As usual, MS keeps switching from one mechanical device to the next and back again. This means Steve is being attacked from all sides and has to perform perfectly to avoid injury.
Rogers uses his energy shield to sever Machinesmith's neck but that's just the beginning of this fight. Anything mechanical in the room comes alive and attacks the former Captain America. Steve spends his time dodging attacks and destroying equipment and machinery. This includes the shell of Myron Smith that also re-forms and enters the fight.
Everything explodes spectacularly until all that's left for Machinesmith is his severed head. When he tries leaving that, he discovers that cell transmissions in the area have been blocked. Satellite is down as well. This is courtesy of Anita Erskine who has used the time to not only set that up but to destroy any other machines on base that Machinesmith could transfer into. Erskine enters the room to tell the bad guy and Steve that it's mission accomplished.
Except it isn't just yet. Machinesmith has one more option and he uses it. Just as Rogers brings his energy shield down on MS's head, the villain transfers his consciousness into...
Machinesmith tears off Anita's face while mocking Commander Rogers for not thinking this plan all the way through. Of course, Steve DID. This was part of that plan. Machinesmith could get INTO Anita's body but he can't get OUT, thanks to some adjustments made by Anita under Beast's direction.
Machinesmith makes a run for it but the plan isn't done yet. Anita Erskine's body is rigged to blow. The eyes start smoking before the whole thing detonates.
Steve picks up the head that is still talking. He turns it off. Before Rogers leaves, he grabs the case of Super-Soldier Serum. It stays out of enemy hands today.
Or... DOES it?
A day passes. Steve is back aboard the Secret Avengers Quincarrier and spends some time remembering his past girlfriend before remembering his current girlfriend works on the Quincarrier with him. Sharon Carter understands what he's going through. Rogers is confronted by pieces of his past all the time. You've just got to let him work through it.
Now back to that Super-Soldier Serum. Beast has analyzed that stuff Steve brought back from his battle in Madripoor and has come to a conclusion: it's not Super-Soldier Serum. It doesn't apear to be much of anything.
It makes Steve wonder what just happened during these past few issues.
The answer really just leads to more questions. It appears this whole mini-series was about getting some blood out of America's Top Cop. It probably didn't even need to be this elaborate except setting up a check up for the Director of National Security and having one of your agents simply get that blood sample at a routine medical test wouldn't make for a very interesting mini-series, would it?
Professor Jacob Erskine didn't need the blood to perfect the Super-Soldier Serum, either. He just needed to check his work and make sure that his formula matched the original. That's right. Professor Erskine is still alive and had already recreated the formula to make perfect soldiers before this mini even started.
You want more? He was doing this for the Shadow Council, the group that remains extra elusive in the pages of the Secret Avengers.
Professor Erskine and Director Thorndrake drive around Detroit discussing all of this and talking about how Machinesmith's part in the final chapter was regrettable but necessary. It made Steve get that heroic win that would hopefully distract him from the truth for a while. Besides, Machinesmith is a hard villain to keep down.
They're actually in Detroit to check out a potential test subject for the Super-Soldier Serum. With nothing but time on their hands, the Shadow Council has gone out of their way to make the recipients of the formula as much like Steve Rogers as possible. Subject Twelve is seventeen years old and has almost an exact duplicate history as the former Captain America, right down to living through poor economic times.
Basically, everything is going according to plan. Thorndrake and Erskine drive off to check on another potential.
Expect some Super-Soldiers in the future.
New Mutants #18
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Leonard Kirk
In this story:
• We return to Limbo in the past to discover that Dr. Noc wasn't talking about the kids being dead but that they had activated, killing some Limbo demons.
• General Ulysses convinces the kids to work for him.
• In the present, the New Mutants realize that these are the Limbo babies.
• They also figure that they'll have to fight them to save Illyana. They're right!
• The battle goes BADLY. One by one, the team falls, out-numbered and out-gunned.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Many, many, MANY years ago, there was a little demonic invasion of New York City that we call Inferno and the residents of Marvel New York call "Goblin Night." One of the demon leaders, N'astirh, tried creating a giant dimensional tear by making a pentagram in the sky, setting specially selected mutants at the points and crosslines to make the magic work. The New Mutants rescues these babies and put a stop to one of N'astirh's many Inferno plans. The mutant babies were turned over to the government and the New Mutants assumed would then be given back to their parents.
It didn't take long for them to realize that wasn't going to happen. During a fight with Freedom Force (Mystique's Brotherhood trying to play it straight and work with the U.S. Government), the New Mutants discovered that the Limbo babies were still in Government possession. They planned to tell the world about this and returned to X-Factor (which was the original X-Men line-up at the time) to tell the grown-ups.
Before they made it to X-Factor, the public mutant team raced off to have a space adventure. The New Mutants soon found THEMSELVES in Asgard fighting a prolonged conflict between Hela and the Eternal Realm. When everyone got back to earth, they all kind of forgot about the Limbo Babies and had extreme adventures with Cable instead.
The Limbo Babies slipped out of the Marvel Universe quietly and mostly unnoticed and returned just like all Marvel infants: as fully grown adults with hardcore attitudes. The past few issues, we've shown how the kids were sent to the Hatchery in Limbo where under the care of General Ulysses and Doctor Noc, they would be trained as weapons for the United States Government. The fact that Limbo time moves faster than normal time helped speed the process from an earth standpoint.
Everything was going all fine and dandy until the base was attacked by Witchfire over an amulet. The Limbo Kids were listed as casualties when Dr. Noc said over the mic: :Killed them all, didn't you... killed them all." The direct gate home was cut off since the base's main assets were dead and fear of another demonic invasion was high. This left only an observation gate open but no way to know where it was located without contact with earth.
Well, it's obvious now that the Limbo babies lived. Moreover, Doctor Noc wasn't talking about them being dead. Quite the opposite. The Limbo Kids' powers activated and the first thing they did was kill every demon in the room. When General Ulysses comes into the Hatcher to get Noc, he expects a bunch of dead kids. This new circumstance gives them some new possibilities.
We catch up with everyone thirty days later, Limbo time. They're still patching up people, including a mutant kid who lost his face and hearing when his power activated. Dr. Noc and his staff are fixing that problem by putting a giant gun where his face should be.
All the while, General Ulysses is giving a speech on how they were all betrayed and have to work together to survive. Ulysses names off who the actual bad guys are and we take our story to the present day.
The New Mutants have just spent the last couple weeks Limbo time fighting their way to the US Government's observation portal to get a sneak attack on General Ulysses and his men. It doesn't work out for them. The team meets an army of mutants they've never heard of. The first to fall to this new army is Illyana.
The Limbo Kids give some pretty good hints at who they are by telling Cannonball's X-Squad that they were handed over to the Government (also known as the Bad Guys) by the New Mutants. The team knows they're facing the Limbo Babies straight away, even the ones that weren't involved in Inferno like Magma who talks like she was there.
The Limbo kids don't hide their plans. They straight up tell the New Mutants that Illyana's going to be taken to Ulysses and will eventually be killed. They pretty much dare the Muties to stop them. Cannonball and his team step up to the plate.
As Sam says, the team is fighting from a place of weakness. The Limbo-Force is an army and their powers are unknown. It also seems like the Limbo Kids have been trained to fight the New Mutants so it's gonna be rough. Cannonball's orders are to choose a target and make sure that one is down before moving on to another target.
The Limbo Kids start picking them off immediately. Karma is the first to fall (well, after Illyana but that was last issue). She won't be the last. The New Mutants fall apart right about HERE, giving up teamwork, which would probably be their biggest strength, for individual combat. It doesn't help that their leader rockets off to rescue Illyana, leaving his team to their own devices.
It also doesn't help that Sam fails to recover Illyana. He cannonballs right into the indestructible, unmoving object girl and bounces off into a wall of machinery. Thankfully, his blast field still makes him invulnerable to damage. Still, his chance of rescuing Rasputin just disappeared. The Darkchilde is taken away.
Sunspot fights the one called Scab with a sword. This creates more scab armor on his opponent which makes the blade useless. Roberto tosses it away and relies on his Sunspot powers.
Dani Moonstar has no powers but she is a Cheyenne warior through and through. Unfortunately, Dani brought a spear to a mutant fight. Her opponent seems to sense emotion but also has cyborg and demon bits grafted to her body. That makes her a heavy hitter and Moonstar is simply out matched.
The only one who's holding her own is Magma which is funny because these kids probably had to deal with fire on a daily basis growing up in Limbo. Amara tries to rescue Karma but there are so many mutant soldiers running around that she has to burn through them first.
Sam is still on the ground in a daze when another opponent greets him. This one can create jet blasts through holes in his body (which he can also create). Cannonball takes of before this Limbo kid can burn him up. Ever the knight, Guthrie tries to rescue Karma after losing Illyana. Xi'an is stuck in some type of goop that makes up another Limbo Kid's body. Sam rockets in, hoping to grab Karma and keep on going out the other end.
It doesn't work that way. The living gelatin seems to negate powrs when you're inside. Cannonball stops blasting as soon as he's broken inside and can't get his power to work to save himself let alone Xi'an. It makes him the next New Mutant to fall.
Cypher doesn't have a power that you'd think that effective in combat situations even though we've SEEN him bring the pain when he used violence as a language. He approaches a Limbo girl who is just watching the fight while holding the leash on the mutant with a biological gun as a face. Doug asks her to surrender but she doesn't. Instead, she tells him to sit down next to her, using mirrored words which Doug explains influence thoughts as they are processed by the brain. He sits down.
That means another New Mutants has lost the battle. We're running out of dudes.
Dani's gone hand-to-hand which isn't a place she wants to be when fighting someone who looks like she has Hulk arms. Her opponent gets Moonstar in a hold and demands that the New Mutant look at her. I think this is just to get the full emotional pleasure when the knock out punch hits.
Roberto watches as Danielle goes down. Maybe it's that distraction that causes Sunspot to lose his fight with Scab. All we know is that Scab sees an opening and uses it for all it's worth, hitting the New Mutant over and over again, relentlessly.
That leaves Magma the last New Mutant standing. Amara vows to take the whole place down with her. The girl sitting with Doug Ramsey starts tapping morse code out to her mutant gun pet. Cypher notes that the morse code she's tapping out indicates a very mean individual. She doesn't care.
The mutant with a gun for a face opens fire. Magma is defeated.
And that the group, folks. They don't call a storyline "The Fall of the New Mutants" for nothing!
Journey Into Mystery Annual #1
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Loki & Thor journey into Jotunheim where they find a group of Storm Giants trying to break into Olympus.
• Thor tries to stop them but ends up falling through the portal.
• After strolling through Olympus for a while, Thor tries crossing a bridge only to find Hercules crossing from the other end.
• Neither is willing to budge for the other and the two end up tearing the area apart in the ensuing battle.
• After enough mayhem has occured, Zeus shows up to stop the two and declares them both winners in stubborness.
• Thor returns to Jotunheim and Zeus closes the portal to Olympus.
• Thor doesn't tell anyone (especially Loki) what just happened, feigning ignorance.
Hercules! It seems that people had wanted to see what would happen if Thor faced off against the mythical Greek demi-god and the response was this story from the first Journey Into Mystery Annual from 1965! Instead of placing it in the modern day Marvel Universe, Stan and Jack fashioned this adventure as an untold tale from Thor's past, making it more like the Tales of Asgard back-up stories that were appearing in Jorney Into Mystery at the time.
Of course, you know me. I couldn't go too far into this before I mentioned that the Greek name for "Hercules" was actually "Herakles." Pretty much every other god of Olympus goes by their Greek name but Herc obviously picked up his more popular Roman one. OK. It's out of my system and I can move on.
Our story begins in Jotunheim, the home of the Frost Giants. A slightly younger Thor and Loki have ridden into the area in search of honor, glory, and loads of nagging. The last part comes from Loki who acts like he was dragged into this excursion. It's probable he came along to ensure his half-brother's death. Since this is a tale from the past, we know that's unlikely.
The two Asgardian Princes find two Storm Giants trying to break through a covered entrance to Olympus. Thor tells us that the Storm Giants were originally from Olympus before they got kicked out and these two look to return to their ancient home to exact some delicious vengeance. That's not something the god of thunder will stand for. He attacks the duo while his half-brother races for cover.
Thor does a pretty good job of fending off the Storm Giants but smashes through the portal to Olympus in the process. The hapless thunder god falls right into the entrance and through the magical passageway to Olympus. The journey breaks rules in time and space and there's no telling how long Thor falls before he ends up in an an known room, lit by torches.
The way out of this room is a maze that Thor walks through off-panel. Finally, Thor observes Olympus for the first time. It's a hell of a lot different than Asgard.
Anyway, Thor hangs out for a while before deciding to seek a way back home. He sees a muscle bound man on the other side of a bridge and strides across to see if the man might give him a clue as to how to return from whence he came.
This is Hercules.
Let's see... two gods with way too much testosterone both crossing a bridge at the same time from opposite ends. This is a recipe for awesome disaster. Herc demands that this stranger step aside and let him pass. Thor forgets all about asking the brute how he can return home and refuses to move. Let the fight begin!
The bridge itself is the first casualty in this combat exercise. This doesn't halt the fight. In fact, it just escalates from this point. Obviously, this is about more than who can cross a bridge first.
The back and forth in this fight between two princes (you can thank me for not breaking into the Spin Doctors song) is like a two person war and both is surprised at the strength and stamina of the other. Thor's hammer is a great advantage that Hercules counters as best he can with his Golden Mace. Mjolnir has a lot more tricks but none of them puts Herc down for the count.
Eventually, the two puts their weapons away and try killing the other the way God intended. Bare-fisted brawl! The fight loses none of its intensity. During the slug fest, Thor gets Hercules' respect. Instead of slaying his foe, he picks up the Pole of Heroes and twists it around the thunder god. Apparently, this Pole can only be bent by the Lion of Olympus.
While it takes much more effort, Thor is able to rally his strength and not only bend the Pole of Heroes but shatter it completely. The two start punching each other again. Hercules keeps trying new strategies. The Prince of Power keeps striking the god of thunder in the same spot, hoping that Thor will crumple over with pain. While Thor does end up dropping to the ground, it's not the end of the battle. Thor uses the terrain to his advantage and pulls the grass itself out from under his powerful opponent.
The Asgardian Prince lunges at the Olympian and receives a face full of exploding rock powder. This temporarily blinds Thor but, again, doesn't stop the fight. The thunder god battles on.
Finally, the fight ends the only way that it could have ended: it's a tie. Zeus finally gets annoyed at all the devastation happening to the Olympian contryside and arrives to separate the two. He tells them both that they are done fighting. Oh, sure, he also lays on the charm and says that it was a grear fight and that both of them were awesome but you can tell that he's pretty damn annoyed.
Still, this is a neighboring prince so it's not like he can just atomize Thor without risking war with Odin. The fact that both Thor and Hercules are bowing to him in reverence probably calms him down quite a bit. Zeus even seems to take a liking to the visiting prince and tells him to get up. Maybe they even share a high five just off-panel.
Both Hercules and Thor shake hands and declare their friendship to each other. They've probably forgotten what they were even fighting over. Hell, Hercules is probably drunk.
It's all over except for the wrap up. Thor is eager to return to Jotunheim and Zeus is more than happy to teleport the thunder god away from Olympus. Thor disappears and then reappears, rising out of the portal in Jotunheim that he fell in to begin his first Olympian adventure. He finds Loki waiting for him.
The thunder god claims that he is already forgetting what just happened to him but he does remember his brother deserting him in the battle with the Storm Giants. Loki puts on a smug expression and claims he was just going for help. In Jotunheim. Who knows who he was looking for.
Suddenly, the rock comes alive and forms up around the open portal to Olympus, burying it once more. Loki doesn't suspect that this is the power of Zeus at work and Thor decides that it's for the best to keep his ambitious half-brother in the dark. His memories of his time in Olympus have NOT faded. He just claimed it to be so that he wouldn't have to explain himself to Loki. Olympus would be better served if the god of mischief remained unaware of how to reach it. The two Asgardian princes ride off.
It didn't take long for Hercules to return, this time in the modern age. In Journey Into Mystery #124, Zeus pretty much kicks Hercules out of Olympus for fighting too much. The Prince of Power is sent to long abandoned earth and starts messing with Thor's world right away. The two's friendship eventually shines through but that wouldn't mean that they wouldn't end up fighting again and again over the years.
Herc even ended up joining the Avengers team, pretty much taking Thor's place on the roster if only for a time. He'd come back to the team many times. Hercules last served on Hank Pym's Mighty Avengers team until he was believed lost at the conclusion of the Battle for New Olympus storyline. He's currently back alive, boosted with all manner of godly powers, and headlining in Chaos War.
That wraps us up once again! We're getting this thing going full speed so hang on for the next exciting installment!
Until then: Excelsior!
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX