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Super Reads 126

Here we go with more fun and excitement!

Today, we check out Namor: The First Mutant #3, Avengers Academy #6, Hawkeye & Mockingbird #6, and Blast to the Past for Fantastic Four #44.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Super Reads 126
They say that it's better late than never.  I totally agree!.  Many 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.

Our adventure begins... under the ocean so blue.

Namor: The First Mutant #3
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artists: Fernando Blanco & Ariel Olivetti

In this issue:

• The Atlanteans take the war to the Aqueos!

• Namor and Abira meet with the Logomancer a day earlier and get a spell that will kill a good percentage of the Aqueos.

• This spell is incomplete, but the last part of it is, conveniently, actually written on the wall of the Aqueos' city.

• Namor shoos Abira away so he can talk about how a vital ingredient to this spell is all of the blood of an Atlantean king.

• Back in the present, Namor breaks open the way into the Aqueos city.

• After being distracted by Husni (Husam's turned brother), the Atlanteans are attacked by the Aqueos.

• Namor and Abira swim to THE TOMB while the rest of the Atlanteans cover them.  Once there, they find the original Aqueos, still alive but unmoving.

• Husam has been captured by Husni who does a hell of a lot of whining before poking out his brother's eyes.

• Namor and Abira start combining ingredients for this spell.  Namor pulls out a dagger, intent to do his part...

• When the Aqueos Highlord shows up.  Hey, it's another Atlantean King: Namor's Grandfather!

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Last issue, Namor the Sub-Mariner orders his centurions assembled so that they could plan an assault of Black Smoker's Trench.  That's pretty much a suicide mission from the get-go so you probably think the King of all Atlantis has some plan once they get there, right?  Oh, heck yeah.

This story starts off with the warriors of Atlantis swimming their way to the den of the Aqueos with determination in their eyes.  All of our main cast members get a close up.  There's Jian, the captain of the Atlantean Guard who seems to be the only Atlantean who doesn't gripe against his king at every opportunity.  Husam and Abira are part of the small army.  Both of these two were introduced in the first issue of this series.  While neither is part of the regular armed forces, every able-bodied fighter is necessary so they just keep showing up.  Finally, Namor gets one panel all to himself.

And then we swing back a day in time and return to New Atlantis to find out why this battle isn't the stupidest idea Namor ever thought up (and let's face it, he's had some doozies in his day).  The Atlantean King and Abira meet up with the Logomancer (half magician, half scientist, all 'mancer).  This guy is an interesting Atlantean because, like Namor, he isn't blue.  I thought the color was compulsory for any Atlantean who wasn't half human but maybe I was wrong.  Or... maybe this guy just cakes on a lot of water-proof makeup.  It could be either one.

But on with the plot:  the Logomancer has a spell that will eliminate the threat of the Aqueos for a good long time by killing nearly all of them.  This isn't a new spell.  The Logomancers have been developing it for over a century.  The Shallow Peace was always a bother and not really a peace.  A chance to end the threat of the underwater vamps is something Atlantis has pursued for quite a while.  The spell is now nearly complete.

The Logomancer also gives us some presumed background history on the Aqueos.  They are more ancient than pretty much everything else under the sea.  The Atlanteans' history itself is a mystery but the thought is that they are humans that returned to the oceans.  The Aqueos were always there.  The original ones may have been some sort of aliens.  This makes them different enough from surface vampires to take a whole different tactic to defeat them.  Hence this spell.

Of course, I mentioned it wasn't done, right?  It isn't.  There's a specific part of the spell that isn't written on the water-proof scroll.  The good part is that the missing part is already completed.  The bad news is it's written on a wall in the Aqueos' city.  The Logomancer explains that all magic books are a copy of a another magic book and that this specific spell (and many others) originated with the Aqueos.  It doesn't really matter.  It just means they need to find this city to complete the incantation.  Namor says that he was in Black Smoker's Trench just a couple issues ago (Issue #1) and he never saw a city.  The Logomancer gives him specific directions in order to find it.  After all, it was pretty dark in there.

Abira spends her time looking over the spell scroll.  She flirted with becoming a Logomancer years ago and she's about to question Namor on one part of the spell when the King sends her away with a message to General Jian.  Abira leaves but she isn't happy about it.  Namor suspects she was about to read the part in the spell where it says it'll need the blood of an Atlantean King to work.  Not just a drop, either.  All of it.

And that's our flashback for the day.  One part I'll mention, because it's just making sure to keep him on your mind: the Logomancer talks about Namor's grandfather and how the man thought Namor was far too impatient.  Part of this is to make sure you know that ALL OF ATLANTIS' PEOPLE ARE JERKS WHO MOCK THEIR KING.  The other part is reminding you that Namor had a Grandfather who was also a jerk.  OK.  We can return to the present now.

Namor and his far-too-small army has arrived at Black Smoker's Trench.  While Namor follows the Logomancer's directions and tries to find a spot where "you can hear the sea roar below... as well as above," Husam begins complaining about how exposed the Atlanteans are in the home of the Aqueos.  Really, it's a wonder they haven't been attacked already.  Jian tries to get the Trident leader to be quiet so that Namor can find the way forward but, as I've said, Atlanteans don't like being told what to do by anybody.  The two almost throw down but Abira holds Husam back and tells him that they'll find his brother which is probably what's really bothering Husam.

The dude hasn't had a good week.  In issue one, he lost both his father and his brother to Aqueos attacks.  His father at least isn't still walking around after being killed.  Husam's brother, Husni, was turned into a water vampire during Namor's raid of Black Smoker's Trench to recover the head of Dracula.  It is, of course, something that rankles the young Atlantean.

Namor finds the spot where the seas roar above and below and uses his... energy trident?  Yeah, we'll go with that.  Namor uses his energy trident to blast the way forward.  The ground erupts and red water spills out of the hole.  The Sub-Mariner claims that this is dangerous bacteria and that they shouldn't breath any of it in.  The entire army goes into the hole without incident.  This entrance opens up to an entire city, much more ancient than even Old Atlantis.  Abira recognizes some of the landmarks.  This is "The Cellar of the Earth" or, in layman's terms, "The First Atlantis."  Gotta collect them all.

No-one attacks.  The city is far too quiet.  Abira voices what we already know.  This is a trap.  There's really no choice, though.  To end this war, they've gotta spring that trap.  Here's the bait now.

Husni appears and begs his brother to help him.  He's got these urges to kill and drink blood and he doesn't want to do those things.  Namor and his men don't FALL for this per se, but the King ends up holding Husam back which gets everyone focusing on the vamp in front of them when they should be keeping an eye out for the others sneaking up behind them.  Namor and his group turn to see the Atlantean army getting slaughtered.  Husni smiles.

The Sub-Mariner rallies his troops and the soldiers get their act together.  These guys are damn good at what they do but they're also heavily outnumbered by a force that is very hard to kill.  Husam loses his own battle against his brother and is carried off.  Abira wants to follow but Namor needs her for his plan to succeed.  These lives aren't important.  It's the mission.  The fate of Atlantis depends on it.

Namor's personal guard covers their swim to The Tomb.  The two leave the soldiers fighting against some pretty vicious Aqueos.  Abira wonders if the warriors will be able to keep the vampires away from them long enough to finish this plan.  Namor repeats something of a theme for this arc that also represents his own resolve: "A warrior will give his life for the mission."  With that, the two reach The Tomb.

<--IMAGE-->

Those Mojo-looking blue things are the original Aqueos that the Logomancer theorized about earlier.  They are ancient beyond imagining, and are pretty much decorations at this point.  They don't move.  They don't talk.  They might blink and move their eyes, but the point is there's no threat.  You'd think it would make sense to pick them off one-by-one just for starting this whole thing but that's not part of the plan.  The plan is to read this scroll and destroy a whole lot of Aqueos with one go.

Elsewhere, Husni has chained up his brother in the Cave of Spines.  This is part of a ritual to turn Husam into a particular type of Aqueos.  Husni was blinded and he intends to do the same to his older and more successful brother.  After talking about how much better Husam was than he and how Husni found a place to belong among the Aqueos, he tears off a spike and draws it ever closer to Husam's eye.

In another part of First Atlantis, Jian leads his troops in a losing effort to maintain ground.  Water.  Whatever you try to maintain when fighting beneath the waves.  Even though they're doing an excellent job, his warriors are falling to an enemy that is just too numerous and hard to kill.  A soldier demands a new strategy to win this fight but Jian knows what this is all about and knows that what they are doing is helping to do just that.  He orders his men to continue as is.  They're here to give Namor time.

The ingredients to the Aqueos killing spell are being gathered.  Namor notices that Abira has a lot of skills in this Logomancy thing and mentions that she could probably get a job in that field and serve the NEXT king of Atlantis quite well.  Abira notices that whole "next king" thing and realizes that Namor doesn't expect to live through this spell.  The Sub-Mariner finally tells her that to make this magic work, it requires the sacrifice of a King and he just happens to be the only one around.

His biggest regret is running the Aqueos Highlord through in the first issue because he's pretty certain that the Highlord was a former king of Atlantis.  Someone had to have opened up that Vault of Law to put Dracula's head inside and Namor would place good money on that person being the Highlord.  The King of Atlantis pulls out a ceremonial dagger and makes a small cut in his chest.  The blood of a king starts flowing into the spell chamber.

It's the ultimate sacrifice to save his people.

But that would make this series even shorter than it'll probably be.  We all know that the Highlord lived and he shows up in record time so that Namor doesn't spill out.  The Aqueos is indeed a former king of Atlantis.  Even though he's much changed, Namor recognizes exactly which former king it is.

The Highlord is Namor's grandfather, King Thakorr!


Avengers Academy #6
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Mike McKone

In this story:

• Humberto Lopez is made class leader of the Avengers Academy student and feels a lot of guilt about all the bad stuff he suspects his team of doing.

• Later on, Reptil meets with Hank Pym and shows him that the amulet that gives him his powers had sunk into his flesh.

• Wasp scans the thing, causing Humberto to both dino out and relive some of the amulet's past... or something.  Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy make an appearance which is keen.

• Hank helps Humberto recover but holds off more tests until a magic specialist can have a look.  He changes the subject and tells Reptil to unload some of his issues on someone.

• 'Berto chooses the girl he's sleeping with, Finesse.  Since she's kind of a walking, talking robot, that doesn't go over well.

• A press meeting is called for Avengers Academy and Speedball makes a walk around the room, talking about how he's trying to make up for the Stamford tragedy.

• Since Robbie Baldwin (Speedball) isn't really talkative on the subject and Hawkeye avoids talking to Wasp about dating Janet Van Dyne, Reptil decides that it's better not to talk about issues and just helps spotlight his teammates to the press.

• Later on, he spies of Finesse and discovers that she's taking lessons from Quicksilver on how Magneto would train her.

• During a class battle with Mentallo, Reptil finally turns his entire body into a velociraptor and loses control.

• This is obviously because he has some issues that he needs to talk through.

• Tigra brings him to Jessica Jones who shares a personal story about how the Purple Man controlled her and how it's better to share this with your loved ones than hold them inside to fester.

• Humberto shares a lot of his personal problems but won't mention what he suspects or knows about his teammates.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

The Avengers Academy series has so far been all about a single narrative by one of the cast members, delving inside their heads a bit so that we learn more about the new kids.  Reptil first had his chance at this with the lead in to Avengers Academy found in Enter the Heroic Age.  It was a short story where he broke out of HAMMER custody in the wake of Siege (we covered in in Super Reads 102).  This issues if his second got at internal narration but the first time in the proper title.  Let's see how it all goes down!

Since every story is better with a flashback, we'll start this issue with one before getting on to the good stuff.  Humberto Lopez is a kid with two of the best paleontologist parents you could hope for.  They're doing what you always wish your parents would have done: teaching him the names of all the dinosaurs.  Humberto is really good at his lessons and his parents dream that he'll follow in their footsteps.  'Berto's got other dreams, though.  He wants to be a super-hero and lifts up his Yellowjacket action figure for emphasis.  Even so, his parents are diligent teachers and keep him on his studies anyway.

In the present, Reptil's parents are... missing.  It's pretty much Humberto's goal to track them down but he knows that he needs to train up a bit before he can do that successfully.  As far as the dream to become a super-hero, that's one he's living.  Since issue one, Reptil has been shooting for the coveted "class-leader" spot.  In this issue, he gets it by unanimous vote from his fellow students.  Hank Pym leads the ceremony announcing Reptil's new responsibilities and to make everyone else feel inadequate, he's grown double-size for the occasion.

Far from being the day of his life, this is a day of complications for the young Avenger-in-training.  All the students know that they are here not because they're the best and brightest but because they're the problem children that might go evil and destroy the world.  Lopez knows this but had a different take on it than some of the others.  He thinks it was a good idea that the instructors kept the information from the kids.  To tell them may have made it a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Hell, the kids know and it looks like they're all taking their own steps down the path to the darkside.

It's this bit that weighs heavily on his mind.  Something's going on between Finesse and Quicksilver.  Reptil has noticed them in the halls and wonders if Pietro is rocking the cradle.  Still, Finesse heads over to his room late at night where the two do a lot more than just kiss so... he's not sure what to make of any of this.

He also knows that Hazmat's powers are a lot more detailed than the instructors are aware.  She frequently uses her abilities to aid in private, unmonitored conversations, after all.  Reptil thinks she might have been behind the "Scared Straight" blackout at the Raft.

All these insecurities about his teammates plague his mind.  The problem is if he tells Hank Pym, they might close down the program and then he'd never be class leader.  It's like his dream job.  He can't ruin that.  Instead of telling what he suspects, he just accepts the job.

These are heroes in training so it's no surprise that we find Humberto talking to Hank later on, asking about why he hasn't been able to change his entire body into a dinosaur.  Pym thinks it has to do with conservation of mass since what makes Lopez change bits of him body into dinosaur parts has to come from somewhere.  Granted, this is magic in nature so it really DOESN'T.  Pym is going by what he knows and has observed and one of the changes when Humberto's head becomes that of a Triceratops is that the rest of his body gets smaller.  That's conservation of mass.  As a size changer, Hank gets around this by grabbing mass from another dimension.  That's a possibility here but the magical nature of Reptil's power could make it unworkable.

To check this theory, Hank asks to see the amulet that gave Humberto his dino-powers.  Well, here's another issue that should have come up earlier.  The amulet has become lodged in his chest.

<--IMAGE-->

Hank pulls out some sort of scanilizer and fires it at the amulet.  This should have no crazy effect on Humberto but, yeah, crazy effect!  Lopez screams and has flashes of dinosaurs in his mind.  Among them is Devil Dinosaur being ridden by Moon Boy.  There's also some furry dude possibly MAKING the amulet.  When Humberto comes back to reality, all he has to say is that the fossilized amulet is ancient.

No.  Duh.

While Reptil wants to keep scanilizing, Hank decides it's too risky and holds off until he can get some magic expert to take a look at the amulet.  Pym then reminds Humberto that there are many dinosaurs that are about human-size that Reptil should be able to change into regardless of the mass problems involved in turning into a T-Rex.  Wasp thinks that the issue might be psychological, remarking that Lopez won't talk about his many frustrations to Tigra (who must be functioning as the class counselor).  Reptil tells Hank that the issues in his past are dealt with and he doesn't need to talk about them anymore but Hank Pym knows better.  Here's a guy who was great at bottling up pretty much everything until it all came out in one moment of incredible stupidity.

Suggesting that he talk to SOMEBODY even if it isn't the Dean of Avengers Academy, Hank sends the young class leader on his merry way.  That night, Humberto is making out with Finesse when he decides that THIS is the girl he should discuss things with.  That's because for all her sociopathic tendencies, he thinks of her as his girlfriend.  When he tells her THIS... it doesn't go well.  She was under no assumption that they were officially going out.  You don't sneak around after hours if you're boyfriend/girlfriend.

With his chance to unload shot, he asks her what she's doing with Pietro Maximoff.  Finesse puts it in the vague terms of "teaching" which to a jealous teenager obviously means they're sleeping together.  She tells Lopez that this will probably be the last time she stops by for a quickie before bed and takes off before late-night bed check.

With the cat out of the bottle and the Avengers Academy officially recognized in the media, Hawkeye arranges a day for the press to soak in the new team.  They meet in the Infinite Mansion the next day and talk to both students and instructors.

One of the more controversial instructors would probably be Robbie Baldwin, the former New Warrior known as Speedball.  A couple of real time years ago, Speedball became the only survivor of the Stamford Incident that led right into the Super-Human Civil War.  It made him a pariah; the one guy to blame the entire deathtoll on just because he survived.  Now, it's been revealed to the press that the reason Nitro (the villain that actually killed everyone-- he actually survived, too) was able to kill such a large amount of people was because he was taking drugs to increase his powers.  The New Warriors didn't have any way of knowing that and some of the pressure is off.  In fact, the public has largely forgiven Speedball of any wrongdoing.

Robbie hasn't forgiven himself, though.  He's not into talking to the press in detail but tells them that he HASN'T forgotten the dead in Stamford and instead of standing here apologizing to the camera, he's going to go out and make a difference.  Humberto is listening in and sees that here's a dude that has some major psychological issues to deal with but isn't talking them out.  Speedball is DOING.  This would be a better message if Robbie Baldwin weren't still cutting himself to get his powers... and "talking it out" didn't mean airing your dirty laundry on national television.

Another great example of not talking about things is Clint Barton, the bashful blue-eyed Hawkeye.  Like I mentioned above, Clint's the one that put this together and that might seem strange to someone who read the recent Captain America issue where Hawkeye chews out the media circus in front of Avengers Tower.  Well, the flip side of that is the Avenger who broke into Avengers Mansion and demanded to be recognized as a hero instead of the villain he had become.  He thinks that if the Academy kids are branded heroes in public, they'll be more likely to stay on the straight path.  Sort of like the original Thunderbolts.

Hank wasn't excited about this press party but it seems to be working out and he comes over to congratulate Clint on a brilliant plan.  Then things get awkward when Pym says how he now gets why Janet Van Dyne cut it off with him for a fling with the archer.  This... is just a wierd conversation on so many levels.  Clint fakes an emergency before the Dean hands him some room keys.  Again, Humberto sees this as a sign that talking about... whatever they were just talking about... is bad.  As a leader, he can just lead.

When the press comes up to him and asks how he feels as the new class leader of Avengers Academy, Humberto slides the conversation over to Striker, talking about how his classmate saved his life in their first public battle with Whirlwind.  Striker goes right into the story like a pro.  Lopez sees that he's building up his team as heroes and that means he's doing his job.

One day later, Reptil misreads a fight between Hazmat and Mettle as them being secretly in love with each other instead of just them arguing about freeing Norman Osborn (maybe).  When he goes into detail about how they'd be perfect for each other, they run in opposite directions, letting Humberto know how completely wrong he is.  Well, he's still learning how to lead his class.

Part of that is still being really jealous and also justifiably concerned about what's going on between Quicksilver and Finesse.  He sneaks in on one of their private sessions and uses super dino-hearing to listen in from a distance.  What he hears might not be an elicit affair but it's not good.  Finesse is actually being taught by Quicksilver but the lesson plan is much more Brotherhood of Evil Mutants than Avengers.  In fact, Quicksilver is trying to teach Finesse hwo Magneto was able to size up his opponents by reading their facial expressions.  It's something Magnus does naturally but Pietro believes that the skill can be taught to the young student.  During the talk, he calls Magneto his father for the first time since training Finesse.  She mentions it and Pietro smiles.  It looks like she might take to Magneto's lesson plan.

The day after Humberto gets that revelation, he finds himself on a field trip with the rest of the Avengers Academy.  They didn't go to the closest museum or anything.  This time, they're taking on what should be a cake-walk villain known as Mentallo.  The last we saw of this guy was in New Avengers Annual #3 when he got James Barnes' home out of Clint Barton's head.  Reptil is using pteranodon wings to fly about the action and gives Hank the recommendation that they all attack at once because it'll overload Mentallo's ability to control them all.  Wasp agrees with the plan and it's done.

Only it doesn't work out so well.  It looks like Mentallo has learned a thing or two about a thing or two.  He commands the entire group to attack each other.  That leaves only Humerto, diving in from the sky.  Mentallo commands Lopez to hit the ground with his face.  Instead, Reptil uses his powers to change his entire body into a velociraptor.  This breaks Mentallo's control but it also keeps Humberto out of control of his own body.  As a velociraptor, he viciously attack the C-rated villain.

Reptil thinks this is the moment he loses his exaulted position as class leader.  Hank Pym, Justice, and Tigra pulling him into a room alone isn't helping that.  They all think that Humberto's problems are psychological in nature and really want the kid to open up.  Lopez remains tight-lipped until Tigra comes up with a plan.

It's a quick ride over to Avengers Mansion where Humberto Lopez meets the wife of Luke Cage: Jessica Jones.  Why Jessica?  It's not because the two have related past experiences.  It's because Jessica was once controlled by the Purple Man.  This dude made her do things she would never have considered doing and, even worse, made her LIKE it.  That was his power of control.  This is all terrible but the reason it relates is because for a long time after, Jones held all of this inside, refusing to talk about it with anyone.  This was more damaging to her than anything and she came to realize that as long as she was bottling it all up, the Purple Man was still winning.  It wasn't until she was able to talk it out that things started getting a little better.  She still has her days but it's better than holding it all in.

Jessica tells Humberto that if he doesn't start dealing with his problems, they are going to BREAK him.  Lopez starts crying and a hug is shared.

This is a breakthrough moment so it's good that it's caught on camera, I guess.  Reptil starts sharing with Jessica, telling her how he was captured.  He thought he was going in to rescue his parents and walked right into a Norman Osborn trap.  The biggest problem he had with this is that he started to believe that his parents might actually be dead for the first time.  Jessica and Hank Pym are watching footage of this breakthrough and it's looking good.  Jones tells Pym that this is just a first step and Reptil needs a lot more therapy, etc, etc until he works through some of this but her impressions are that this is a good kid who will be fine in the long run.

And that's when we get one last look at the footage and hear Jessica's last question and Humberto's final response.  Jones asks how the Avengers Academy is going and Lopez lies, telling her everything is going great.


Hawkeye & Mockingbird #6
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David López

In this story:

• Hawkeye has a scary nightmare and then has an uncomfortable talk with Spider-Woman.

• Mockingbird and Dominic Fortune meet a Nick Fury Skrull in the Savage Land and kill him.

• Leftover Skrull bodies get burnt.

• Clint stares at Crossfire through a one-way mirror.

• Steve Rogers gets Hawkeye out of his funk by forcing him to shoot arrows and giving him a pep talk.

• Mockingbird isn't allowed to see her mother.  She also gets chewed out by her brother.

• Hawkeye rejoins the WCA (World Counterterrorism Agency) and leads the team into the Widowmaker series.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Clint and Bobbi are over after five wonderful issues.  The couple, not the book.  The book... it's done after THIS issue.  I know.  Killed before its time.  Anyway, after dealing with way too many Phantom Riders (and Crossfire) last issue, Barton and Morse came to the conclusion that they just weren't good for each other.  Mockingbird brought out the killer instinct in Hawkeye and Clint made Bobbi feel guilty about not being perfect.  Hawkeye is also not that great of a spy.  He wears a purple uniform to get noticed, not to hide in shadows!

Now, we witness the aftermath of the break up.

Naturally, we start out with a dream.  As I said, Clint gets more violent when he's around his ex-wife.  We all remember how he tore out William Cross's cybernetic eye last issue but it's not the first time Hawkeye's danced the danger line between hero and killer.  Remember when he wanted to kill Norman Osborn?  Remember when he shot an arrow through the Skrull Queen, Veranke's, head?  Yeah, the dude has a violent streak going and he traces it all right back to Bobbi Morse.  Whether that's fair or not is up to debate but it's his nightmare so it's how he feels.  The dream ends with him choosing between targets.  Will he kill Crossfire?  Ozzy?  Veranke?  Mockingbird!?

Barton wakes up freaking out in his bed at Avengers Tower.  He's not going to fall right back asleep so he takes a trip to the fridge for a midnight snack.  He pulls out the milk and spills it on the ground when Jessica Drew surprises him.  It looks like anyone can stay at the Tower so long as their name isn't Spider-Man.  If Peter stayed here, it would lead to Civil War.  Again.

After staring at Spider-Woman's boobs for a little too long, he finally looks her in the eyes and gets a flash image of Veranke with an arrow through her face.  Before Secret Invasion, the Spider-Woman running around the Marvel Universe was actually Queen Veranke wearing Jessica's form.  There are still people who give her funny looks because hers was the face of the Skrull attack.  Clint sort of apologizes for shooting Skrull Jessica Drew through the face but Spider-Woman doesn't bear a grudge for what happened to the damn Skrull.  She knows that what is really on Barton's mind is his recent break-up with Bobbi.  She asks if he wants to talk about it but he doesn't and walks away.

This issue may be about what Clint and Bobbi do after breaking up but it's also a long overdue wrap-up of Skrull Invasion unfinished business.  Besides that scene above between Jessica and Clint, we have Mockingbird and Dominic Fortune swinging around in the Savage Land following a SHIELD automated emergency signal.  The soon meet up with Nick Fury with a Skrull body draped over his shoulder.

Bobbi asks Nick why he's being so visible in the Savage Land instead of fighting that three-way war with Hydra and Leviathan in Secret Warriors.  Fury claims that he's down here cleaning up after the Skrull Invasion and also looking for some abandoned Skrull tech.  Man, this feels like coming home.  Super Reads started way back in 2008 with the Secret Invasion.  Most of the opening arc took place in the Savage Land.  Both the Mighty and New Avengers teams met up in the land that time forgot and got distracted by a Skrull ship that unloaded a number of duplicate Marvel heroes.  No-one could tell who was real on who was a Skrull.

Well, eventually the Avengers figured it out and a whole lot of Skrulls got mowed down.  In fact, Hawkeye thought he had been reunited with Mockingbird only to find out that this version was a Skrull.  He did a lot of killing all by himself.

<--IMAGE-->

You may be wondering why the Skrull bodies aren't decomposing.  Fury tells us that they don't do that.  He's collecting him in the abandoned Skrull base, intending to light them on fire.

Well, this charade has gone on long enough.  Bobbie shoots the fake Nick Fury in the arm.  Green blood.  That's right.  Skrull.  Mockingbird tells the imposter that she spent too much time among the Skrulls to ever be fooled by them again.  She and the alien start trading blows and taunts.  The Skrull goes super-sized and is attacked by Dominic Fortune riding the pteranodon.

Now I wish I would have used that as my issue visual.  I mean, you have to think about WHY he decided to ride a wild, flying reptile into this fight.  That's some logic leaps.  Anyway, Dom gets the job done and the last Savage Land Skrull falls.

Fortune asks why this Skrull decided to draw attention to himself after all this time and Bobbi gives any number of answers.  The writer's answer is that it brings up a lot of unresolved issues Bobbi is carrying around pertaining to the Skrulls.  They also talk a bit about why she and Hawkeye broke up.  Bobbi tells him that flirting is too soon.

Before we switch scenes, the two light fire to the Skrulls.

Next up, an uncomfortable visit to the Raft, the nation's maximum, maximum security prison specializing in holding super-criminals.  One of those super-crooks is Crossfire, freshly detained after last issue's shenanigans.  It's the middle of the and Luke is cranky that Clint woke him up just so the archer could see William Cross.  Cage also tells Barton that while the villain was banged up, there was no permanent injury.  Sure, Clint pulled out his cybernetic eye but that kind of thing can be replaced.

Throughout this scene, Clint Barton says absolutely nothing.  William Cross is brought out into a room with a one way mirror window and immediately leads the conversation.  It's all jokes about losing his eye and Hawkeye turning into Bullseye.  Cheery stuff.  Eventually, the guards lead Crossfire back to his cell.  Cross leaves Hawkeye with ominous words about how he'll be crossing that killing line more and more in the future.  Genie's out of the bottle and all that.  Once you pop, you can't stop.

Now, to be fair, Hawkeye has successfully killed a lot of Skrulls and his share of Hand ninja.  His attack on Crossfire was more vicious that usual but he hasn't really gone over the killing line.  Unless you count Skrulls.  We don't really count those guys.

Back in the Savage Land, Dominic Fortune shuts off the emergency SHIELD signal with his knife.  They've got some time to waste in dino land and Dominic decides to reveal his reasons for joining up with the WCA.  A number of years ago, Fortune found notes on a broken copy of the Super-Soldier Serum.  He has a scientist friend develop the serum based on the notes and then drank it on down.  It kind of worked but in a wierd way.  Dominic ended up looking much younger and had some severe memory loss.  Eventually, the memories came back but other problems with the formula started showing up.  It's gotten to the point where the soldier of fortune is coughing up blood which isn't very good for anyone.

What he did about this was only right and natural.  He tracked down the person who made the notes and joined her team of spies so that she could help him if things went downhill.  He just neglected to tell Bobbi all of this until right now.  Because why ruin a perfect plan?

Morse is angry that Dominic didn't put his motivations on the table to begin with and mentions that the super-soldier formula he took was incredibly flawed.  He's lucky to be alive and she might not be able to do anything about it even if she wants to... and she's not sure she does.

Back at the Raft, Clint is done punishing himself by looking at his handiwork and is ready to leave the facilities for his comfortable bed back at Avengers Tower.  Luke Cage pulls him aside and tells Barton that he can't leave just yet.  The big man would like to have a word.

Hawkeye is led to an archery chamber where Steve Rogers holds a bow for the archer.  Clint tells him that he's not going to talk about his issues but Commander Rogers isn't here for a talk about feelings.  He's here to make Barton shoot some arrows.

The first one goes right to the center of the target because Hawkeye is a pro.  The second one splits the first one because that's how you show how awesome an archer you are despite the fact that this maneuver is pretty much impossible due to how an arrow actually travels through the air.  It's when Steve starts talking about Crossfire that Hawkeye misses the bullseye.

OK, now it's time for Clint to talk about feelings.  He runs through all the reasons he and Bobbi are bad for each other.  Steve doesn't care about any of that.  He's more worried that Clint is off his game.  Rogers mentions some of Hawkeye's more impressive moments and talks about how a human with no super powers is able to stand next to some of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and still manages to look good.  That's the Hawkeye Rogers needs on the Avengers, no wimpy crying boy.  That Hawkeye knew how to get up when he tripped.

Inspired, Clint fires arrow after arrow.  They all hit the middle of the target, splitting the arrow that came before it until the center finally falls out.  Hawkeye's back, baby.  Clint puts on his mask to signify the change.  Steve Rogers tells Barton that the archer can make his own peace in regard to his relationship with Mockingbird but Hawkeye still needs to stay with the WCA.  The organization has the ability to hit hot spots that might be missed by one of the many Avengers teams.  They just need to be watched just in case they cross the line.

Clint doesn't like being a spy on a spy team but Steve has a special reason why rejoining will be a good idea.  It looks like Mockingbird's life is in danger.

Mockingbird returns from the Savage Land and tries to visit her mother at the hospital.  She's not allowed to.  Susan Morse (who's in a coma, by the way) is about to be moved to a more secure, and secret, facility so this is probably the last chance Bobbi will get to see her.  Standing in the way is Mockingbird's brother, Ben.  Since Agent 19 dropped out of their lives and faked her death to become a secret agent super-hero, Ben has a lot of good reasons why he's angry with his sister.  Hell, his mom got shot just for visiting with Bobbi.  All this points to Mockingbird being bad for her family.  Long story short, Bobbi isn't going to get a visit with her mother.

Another night, another waking up prematurely.  This time, it's not because of a nightmare.  It's because Hawkeye sets off the alarms at WCA headquarters.  He got into the building just fine (he's got all the secret codes and they didn't change them after he quit the team).  Clint just set the alarm off to gather the WCA team for a special meeting.  They all wake up angry except for Bobbi who's still in her battle costume so she probably hasn't slept yet.

Hawkeye wishes he didn't have to be here but with the information he got, he kind of has to.  He fires up his projection arrow (which is totally a real thing) and the room lights up with photo after photo.  Two of the most prominent are Black Widow and Mockingbird.  Above their pictures are the word, "TERMINATE."

Dun, dun, DUN!!!

You can follow this action over into the Widowmaker series which takes the place of both Hawk & Mock and Black Widow series.  Super Reads won't be following, mostly because of the lack of any Heroic Age banners on the books and I've got to draw the line somewhere. ;)  Looks interesting, though...


Fantastic Four #44
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• Reed Richards uses his superior brain to make a fully-automatic dish-washer.  Ben is bored.  Johnny heads out for a date.

• The Human Torch's Stingray is attacked by Gorgon!  Medusa hitches a ride with Storm at vacuum gun point.

• Gorgon climbs up the Baxter Building and steals a helicopter, wrecking the rest of the FF's vehicles on the way out.

• Johnny drives Madame Medusa to State University where he tries to stop her.  He fails.  The battle reawakens Dragon Man who takes a liking to the Inhuman.

• Gorgon shows up again.  Dragon Man distracts the big G so that Medusa can escape in Johnny's Stingray.  Dragon Man catches up and takes the car into the air.

• Johnny wakes up and flies back to the Baxter Building.

• The rest of the FF fight Dragon Man and then switch opponents when Gorgon arrives.  Dragon Man doesn't know what side to fight on and just attacks whoever stands in his way.

• Gorgon demands that the Fantastic Four turn Medusa over to him or he'll destroy the city.  Medusa doesn't wait for the heroes to say no and uses the Four as an impromtu battering ram.

• Dragon Man flies off with Sue.  Gorgon grabs Medusa and then tries burying the rest of the Four under an abandoned building.

November 1965!  The comics in this month included the second part of the Power Man story we covered in the last Super Reads, Avengers #22, as well as Sgt. Fury #24, Strange Tales #138, Tales of Suspense #71, Tales to Astonish #73, X-Men #14, and the Fantastic Four's third Annual where Reed and Sue finally tied the knot!  Super Reads covered that blessed event right HERE.

In this fantastic issue of the FF, the rest of the Inhumans start appearing, starting with the siesmic powered Gorgon.  We covered the first appearance of the Inhuman, Medusa in Super Reads 120 (she featured in Fantastic Four #35).  Madame Medusa started her Marvel career as an original member of the Frightful Four and, unbeknownst to us, she was suffering some memory loss of her true origins.  This issue starts the unravelling of the unknown mystery in the Mighty Marvel Manner.

The issue starts out in the middle of the action with Reed Richards crafting a mighty... fully-automated dish-washer.  Can you FEEL the excitement?  I can.  Yes, this is the marriage of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl.  Sue Richards has moved out of the home she shared with her brother, Johnny, and has moved into the Baxter Building with Reed.  They intend to find a house together but the life of super-heroes doesn't usually make time for that.

Which is the opposite of what's going on right now.  Nothing is happening and the more action-oriented members of the Four are getting bored.  Johnny's even taking a little nap.  Ben isn't all about the youngest member of the team not being annoyed by Reed and Sue's antics so he claps his giant mitts together and panics the Human Torch into flaming across the room.  Sue, who is filling right in as the housekeeper for her "temporary" home, shouts at her surprised brother for getting soot all over the place.

To show that the Fantastic Four has matured (slightly), Johnny and Ben don't end up wrecking the place for this.  Instead, the Human Torch takes off to make a date with his girlfriend, Doris Evans.  It's been a while since he's seen his lady and anyway, Johnny needs to get some air.

Instead of taking some of the more high tech modes of transportation available to him, Johnny hits the streets and his Corvette Stingray.  Since Dorrie isn't a big fan of his super-hero life, it's probably the best way to go.  Storm finds that he forgot to lock his doors but figures he was just distracted by the big mistake he made in his life plan.  You see, Johnny held off on going to college because he figured his life would be too busy this year but it's proving to be a lot more empty of action than he was expecting.  Get ready for that to change.

Johnny pulls out of his parking space, and the road explodes as a hoofed foot drops on the tar.  An accomplished driver, the Human Torch keeps the Stingray under control but he doesn't realize that he was just attacked by Gorgon.  Storm actually thinks that the city is being hit by an earthquake.  The truth is revealed when he finds that he's got a stowaway.  Madame Medusa unlocked his car and hid in the back.  It's a strange hiding place for Medusa but sometimes things happen.

The lady is still a villain and believes the Fantastic Four to be her arch enemies but this is a desperate situation.  She pulls a vacuum gun on the Human Torch and tells him that they face... GORGON!

Back at the Baxter Building, Ben is about to take off.  This is too much lovey-dovey for him.  Before Bashful Blue-eyed Ben Grimm can leave, a shockwave hits the Baxter Building, knocking over everyone in the room.  Ben looks outside and sees Gorgon's hoofs walking up the side of the building, causing mini-quakes all the way up.  Reed tries to reach out to the Inhuman but gets his arm struck in the process.

While the Invisible Girl tends to the wounded Mr. Fantastic, the Thing climbs out  in pursuit of Gorgon but isn't able to follow fast enough.  Gorgon takes off in the Fantastic Four's own helicopter.

Meanwhile, Johnny Storm has driven his kidnapper to the grounds of State University.  He's about to recall a battle the Fantastic Four had with the Dragon Man at this very site but Medusa simply doesn't care.  She just wanted to know if the area was safe from a trap or not.  Johnny asks his captor why this Gorgon character is chasing her but Medusa isn't willing to give up any pertinent information.  The Human Torch decides that this is his moment to strike but Madame Medusa's vacuum gun sucks all the oxygen away from the hero.  This prevents Johnny from flaming on and also knocks him out.

The Human Torch was able to get out one fireball before being incapacitated.  This was enough to wake the mechanical Dragon Man from it's slumber.  The beast looks like it's about to attack Medusa but then it takes a good look at her long, luxurious hair and is reminded of another person who has... hair, I guess.  Susan Richards has a much shorter crop of blonde hair but it must still be similar enough to remind the Dragon Man of the Invisible Girl.  Instead of attacking, the robot is suddenly friendly.

This is good because Gorgon has tracked down his quarry and lands his stolen helicopter near Johnny's Stingray.  Quickly, the Inhuman makes his presence known but didn't figure on Medusa brand new defender.  The Dragon Man strikes back with a burst of flame.  Medusa is forgotten as the two lock into combat.  The follically gifted woman uses the opportunity to make her escape in Johnny's car.

After the Dragon Man notices his lady is gone, it loses all interest in battling Gorgon and flies after her.  Johnny's sports car finds itself airborn when the robot catches up with it.  Gorgon finds it incredibly easy to follow the gigantic flying creature in his appropriated whirlybird.

Johnny regains consciousness surrounded by flames caused by the Dragon Man during its short fight with Gorgon.  The fires have recharged the youngest member of the Fantastic Four.  The Human Torch immediately realizes what's gone down and figures this is a fight he can't handle alone.  It's time to bring in the rest of the team.

At the Baxter Building, Ben Grimm is reporting the Fantastic Four's helicopter stolen.  It's definitely not a banner moment in the lives of the FF.  The rest of the Fantastic Four's aerial arsenal has also been knocked out of commission by precisions kicks from Gorgon.  He didn't want anyone following him.

Sue is tending to Reed's injured arm by bandaging it up and putting it in a sling.  This is probably unnecessary since Richards' body is super flexible but Mr. Fantastic lets his wife do it anyway.  When he's properly bandaged, the leader of the Fantastic Four stretches out of the nearest window to get a look at the New York skies.  He's abruptly pulled even further out of the window.

Ben and Sue both try to pull Reed back inside but they just get pulled out as well.  The two are carried up to the roof of a nearby building where they discover Reed unconscious and Dragon Man.  Thing doesn't even wait to ask questions about what's going on.  He just attacks.  Medusa yells at him for these rash actions but since she's a known villain, no-one really cares what she says.

Sue checks on her husband before questioning Medusa on WTF is going on.  The Inhuman finally gives up just a tiny speck of information.  This Gorgon fellow has tracked her from half a world away and shows remarkable determination on capturing her.  Speak his name and here he is.

Gorgon claims to be uninterested in anyone save for Medusa but Sue and Ben both step right in the way to defend the lady even though she's shown nothing but violent tendencies towards them.  This is complicated even further by the Dragon Man who mistakes the Thing's actions for an attack on Medusa, and rushes to keep Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew from doing Gorgon any hurting.  To thank the machine for this, Gorgon slams a hoof on the rooftop, smashing it and sending the giant beast crashing down several levels.

It's a good thing this is a conveniently abandoned building or there'd be trouble, eh?

Gorgon again tells the FF that he has no desire to attack them.  He just wants Medusa.  He's more forthcoming with information and hints that he and the lady are from the same super-powered race that isn't supposed to interact with humanity.  Reed, who's regained consciousness by now, hears this and is so intrigued that he stops Thing from attacking.  I swear, Ben isn't gonna get to fight anyone the way this is going.

Medusa desperately cries to the FF to not listen to Gorgon because of all his power which prevents the Inhuman from revealing any more information.  The Human Torch arrives to stop any further intellectual discourse.  Johnny opens fire on the hoofed man, surrounding Gorgon with a burning ring of fire that burns, burns, burns.  It's a ring of fire.

Gorgon is no amateur in the use of his powers.  He kicks the wall and is able to control the seismic reaction, hurling it towards the Human Torch, crumbling a wall on top of Johnny.  Storm is able to melt the collapsing wall as it comes down on him but it breaks his concentration on the ring of fire.

Thing is finally able to get some clobbering in (yay!) but finds Gorgon to me no lightweight.  Reed, who's lost that sling by this point, races towards Sue and Medusa to get them out of here... because womenfolk shouldn't be in battles like this or something.

Gorgon wins this first round against Thing but Ben Grimm leaps to his feet for another round.  Reed stops them once again so that he can learn what he can from Gorgon.  Instead of revealing anything more about the Inhumans, the hoofed warrior gives them a display of his powers.  With one mighty stomp, Gorgon sends a shock wave down the building and over to the next block where it takes down a series of abandoned buildings.

Like I've said, thank goodness for all those condemned and empty buildings in New York.

This display of power is supposedly only a fraction of Gorgon's power.  If the Fantastic Four doesn't turn Medusa over to him, the entire city will suffer for it.  Now, Reed would never do this even though Madame Medusa has been their enemy since her first appearance.  Still, the red-haired lady doesn't exactly trust her temporary allies and decides to take the decision out of the FF's hands.

<--IMAGE-->

Before the Fantastic Four can be used as a battering ram, the Dragon Man re-enters the battle!  This time, the creature doesn't know what beautiful lady he wants to worship... well, at least for a moment.  Then he remembers that he liked Sue first and grasps the heroine in his gigantic hands before flying off.

Confusion reigns as the rest of the Fantastic Four stops paying attention to Gorgon and focuses on their teammate.  Gorgon uses this chaos to not only take Medusa captive but take the building down on top of our team of adventurer heroes.

And that's this issue!  You'll have to wait until our next Super Reads to see how this cliffhanger ends.

As far as Gorgon goes, he's currently out in space with the rest of the Inhumans, Captain of the Guard and gathering a heroic following among the Kree people.  You can catch up with him in Thanos Imperative.

Short and sweet people!  Yes, this is short and sweet for me. :)

Until next time:  Excelsior!

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX

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About the Author - SuperginraiX


SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.

 


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