Panic! Chaos! Destruction! We also have some comics.
Today, we check out Fear Itself #2, Fear Itself: The Home Front #2, Fear Itself: Spider-Man #1 and Blast to the Past for Avengers #'s 57 & 58. Enjoy and spread the word!
This is the second month of Fear Itself and the tie-ins still haven't deluged. Yet.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Blitzkrieg, USA! Blitzkrieg!
Fear Itself #2
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
In this issue:
• The Aesir return to Asgard space. Odin rebuilds their world. Thor gets some chains. Warnings about the Serpent are dropped by the All-Father.
• One of those hammers drops on the Raft, interrupting the Juggernaut's training session. Cain Marko picks it up and becomes Kuurth, Breaker of Stone. Then he smashes the prison.
• Another hammer hits Paris, where the Grey Gargoyle is hanging out.
• Steve Rogers sends the Avengers around the world to help safeguard people.
• Reed Richards calls in to tell Commander Rogers that a hammer has struck Yancy Street.
• Robert Bruce Banner and his significant other, Betty Ross, are vacationing in Brazil when a fourth hammer falls out of the sky. Banner becomes the Hulk but when he picks up the hammer, he becomes Nul, Breaker of Worlds.
• In South Africa, the fifth hammer falls in a diamond mine run by the Absorbing Man and Titania. After Creel fails at picking it up, Titania grabs it and becomes Skirn, Breaker of Men.
• She tells Crusher that his hammer has landed north of here and then silences him so she can listen to her All-Father.
• "The Serpent" gives his pantheon orders to rape and pillage, kill and destroy, and rock and roll. Skadi and her neo-Nazis pile into some Nazi mechs for an attack on... WASHINGTON DC!!!
• Attuma is shown breaking the Pacific Pipeline with his new hammer as Nerkkod, Breakers of Oceans!
• Commander Rogers attempts to bring the Avengers together to defend the US Capital, but they're all busy with their own tie-in issues.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
As we saw last issue, the gods of Asgard have taken a hike from earth and are returning to their ancient home. The very cool thing about this is that Odin, empowered by the Odinsource, forms land with every step he takes. When he's done an entire planet will exist, but we'll leave the scene before that happens. This isn't going to be like old Asgard because Odin doesn't have the time for niceties. The Asgardians are preparing for war and things are going to be on the utilitarian side until things are done.
Odin is pretty much running scared. Hogun and Volstagg, dragging Thor after last issue's battle, mention that this all is like running away. Thor gets to his feet and says pretty much the same. The gods left earth to burn in order to save themselves. It's not like the Asgardians and it's definitely not like Odin. If it were up to Thor, they'd head straight back to earth and put their lot in with the mortals.
That's enough of that kind of talk. Odin creates some guards to drag the god of thunder off in chains. As Thor is taken away, he shouts out about how far the Asgardians have fallen in the last ten minutes. It looks like Kid Loki is listening.
With Thor out of the way, Odin addresses his people, telling them that he doesn't have time to explain the whole plot to them because it would ruin it for the readers. All they need to know is that this has happened before and he was around to survive it. It won't be easy. Even though they ran off, they're going to be fighting soon and their enemy will be using the earth as its power source.
It also sounds like Odin means to destroy the earth itself.
Let's cut over to New York City right out on the East River where the Maximum Maximum Security Prison, the Raft, rests. This is the home of the Thunderbolts Program. After some recent problems, the T-Bolts have had some new security measures enforced. One of those is individual training sessions for eight minutes at a time. Juggernaut is just about done with his but is trying to convince his handlers to give him a couple more minutes.
And then a hammer crashes into the training area.
Cain Marko isn't as strong as he once was because his power provider, Cyttorak, is fickle with the super strength. He still has enough invulnerability to have survived the hammer crash even though it's done a number on the building. When he sees the hammer, it seems to call out to him. One touch and the world around the Juggernaut explodes. An empty word balloon gives the impression that sound just ceases to exist.
When the light dies down, Juggernaut raises his hammer to the sky. He's wearing a new costume with lots of light piping and a wierd symbol on his front. The caption on the side calls him "Kuurth, Breaker of Stone" which doesn't match up to any Norse god that I could find. "Kuurth" isn't speaking English anymore. It's some ancient runes that haven't been accurately translated just yet. One thing is for sure. Cain Marko has left the building. Kuurth is running the show.
He brings his new hammer down and rips the Raft wide open.
The news starts kicking up at this point. For the rest of the issue, we're given some news blurbs about all the things that people fear throughout the world. The also report about some more of these hammers hitting the ground all over the world. We see one dropping in Paris, France. In the foreground, the Grey Gargoyle watches the impact from the outside of a gothic cathedral.
The Avengers (both New and "adjectiveless") are all assembled in an undisclosed location... possibly Broxton since the last we saw them was at the party in fallen Asgard. Monitors all around them display a world falling apart around them. Commander Steve Rogers isn't too concerned yet. Disaster troubleshooting is what the Avengers do. Since there are multiple impact sites across the globe, Steve splits up his forces and sends them out to handle the chaos. They don't know what's going on yet, but this is where the Avengers get some answers.
Before the Avengers can disassemble, Reed Richards gives Steve a video call, telling him about a hammer impact in the middle of New York City. Mr. Fantastic and the rest of the Future Foundation are there to investigate but Reed wanted Ben Grimm, who's hanging with the New Avengers, know where the hammer dropped down. It happened on Yancy Street.
I couldn't tell you what is going on in the Hulk books but it seems like they're handing out Gamma powers to anyone. For example, the relatively new Red She-Hulk is Bruce Banner's previously dead wife Betty Ross. While that means they aren't legally married anymore (unless they had another ceremony while I wasn't paying attention which is really possible), it looks like they're in Brazil to rekindle their relationship and discuss their current predicament. Betty is happy to have super powers and thinks it's a great big game. Bruce has been running almost since the moment he became the green goliath so his perspective is much different.
When another hammer hits the ground nearby, Betty thinks this is another grand adventure and the two of them hulk up and check out the impact crater. Hulk hears noises coming from the hammer, enticing him forward.
Again, we're treated to a blast of light and negative sound as the Hulk gets the powers of Nul, Breakers of Worlds.
Hulk doesn't have control of things but he is able to get a warning out to Betty before going on a rampage. Red She-Hulk takes off in a run.
Another hammer has touched down in South Africa, in the center of a diamond mine. Also present are the Absorbing Man and Titania. They run this mine. Crusher Creel has tried to lift up the hammer but has found it to be just like Thor's. It's only intended for the one who is "worthy." Creel absorbs the properties of the hammer and gets a crazy wierd vibe from the thing.
Titania has another reaction because this hammer is meant for her. She hears the sound of "music and crying babies." That just begs her to touch the thing. When the light and anti-sound clears up, Titania is replaced by the giganti Skirn, Breaker of Men. She tells Creel that his hammer is north of this location and that she's sharing her body with something. The Absorbing Man has a lot of questions but Skirn doesn't have time for them. Her master is talking.
The evil All-Father, who hasn't been named in the comic itself, but was referred to as the "Serpent" at the beginning of the book and in all the solicitations, talks to all of his "children." He speaks back to how they were all sent away, probably by Odin and the ancient Aesir. All that's changed now. The evil pantheon is back and they're going to watch this world burn.
On the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, Attuma has found another hammer, and has assumed the persona of Nerkkod, Breaker of Oceans. He's using his hammer to destroy the Pacific Pipeline.
While the Serpent gives his super-powered kids their war instructions, we cut to Asgard for a panel to watch weapon construction. Then to the streets of New York City, where the Raft prisoners have escaped and trash the streets ahead of Kuurth (Juggernaut). In Brazil, Red She-Hulk rescues children one step ahead of Nul (Hulk).
One thing that needs to be mentioned is that the Serpent KNOWS that the Asgardians are preparing for them. While Odin seems to be making the same plans as were made to defeat these evil gods the first time around, it's doubtful the same thing will work. It's hard to defeat people the same way twice. The only difference is that Odin might destroy the whole earth this time. So... the Avengers probably don't want either of these two factions to win.
The Serpent is preparing to send out Skadi (Sin/Red Skull) with a host of her inherited warriors to destroy the capital of the United States. It's one of his directives to destoy the capitals of the world. It's a good thing that the Red Skull had a lot of Nazi mech suits that never got used. Sin uses one to lead this neo-Nazi movement. This might make NO sense but that's because you don't know how awesome it is to pilot a mech suit. Even if you have Thor-level power.
The army is teleported to Washington D.C. with a mission to kill everything. Terror is the name of the game here. The Capital Dome is an early structural casualty.
It's been a while since we've seen Washington D.C. as a target. The last time I can think of was during Secret Invasion. The city was defended by Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts. This time, no one is prepared.
Commander Steve Rogers calls the Avengers to fend off a Nazi attack on Washington but his troops are too spread out. There's no SHIELD to assist. The heroes aren't answering his calls.
Well then. That sucks.
Fear Itself: The Home Front #2
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike Mayhew
In this issue:
• It's a mini-riot in Stamford, as a crowd tries attacking Speedball, but only manages to beat up themselves.
• Robbie Baldwin leaps away, turning into his civilian form just in time to get picked up by Leonard.
• With the entire neighborhood searching for him, Speedball hides inside the Damien's Gift building, hidden by Leonard Walls and Miriam Sharpe. She explains that she's doing this because he's invulnerable and only her friends and neighbors would get hurt.
• When escapees from the Raft tear through town, Miriam allows Speedball to confront them and save lives. That doesn't work out incredibly well but the criminals leave after the fight.
• The citizens of Stamford take the unconscious body of Robbie Baldwin and try suffocating him.
• Miriam Sharpe to the rescue!
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The town of Stamford, Connecticut has been through some hard times. At the beginning of the Super-human Civil War, Stamford was the explosion that ignited a nationwide demand for super-human registration when the super-criminal, Nitro, detonated within the town's borders during a fight with the New Warriors, killing over six hundred people. The New Warriors, who had gone all reality TV star at that point, all died save for Speedball. Robert Baldwin became a living symbol for just how bad unregistered heroes could be.
Later on it was learned that Nitro's explosive talents had been upgraded using Mutant Growth Hormone and that he wouldn't have been able to kill that many people without it. The New Warriors had no way of knowing that the villain was super-charged and most of the nation decided that Speedball wasn't at fault for the death toll. This is a forgiveness that Robbie Baldwin hasn't given himself just yet.
Neither have the good citizens of Stamford. Having discovered that Speedball was volunteering at the local Damien's Gift, the residents of Stamford have started converging on the location, giving the hero a good beating for his community service.
None of this is hurting Speedball because he just redirects kinetic energy. One guy tries hitting him with a crowbar only to find the blow bounces off the super-hero and hits another attacking citizen. It's also stong enough that it makes Speedball shoot up into the air, little bubbles of light marking his path through the sky. Robbie knows that the Stamford people will find him with these obvious indicators, so hits the ground in his civilian clothes in an attempt to avoid any future confrontations.
This works for about one second. A car pulls up. Inside is Robbie's volunteer boss, Leonard Walls. Leonard tells him to get inside the car.
Miram Sharpe lost her son, Damien, to Nitro's explosive antics in Stamford. It led her to champion the Super-Human Registration Act. She's very upset that the act has been repealed but has focused her efforts on her volunteer organization, Damien's Gift (and trying to figure out why the hell anyone would name their child "Damien.") When she found out that Speedball was volunteering under an assumed name, she confronted him but is surprised how things so quickly got out of control. Even now, neighbors are trying to get into her offices, thinking that Robbie Baldwin might have backtracked. One guy tries bringing in a shotgun.
Miram sends this guy home (after taking away his shotgun) and tries to explain how wrong it was to attack Speedball and to break the front window of her building but something had gotten into the population that she can't entirely understand. Mrs. Sharpe walks back into her office where we find that Robbie did indeed backtrack, aided by Leonard. Baldwin tries to thank Miriam for her assistance but she tells him to stuff it. She's not doing this for him. She's doing this because attacking Speedball just means OTHERS are going to get hurt as the blows bounce off the nigh invulnerable super-hero.
Miriam Sharpe understands anger but what she's witnessing from her friends and neighbors is FEAR ITSELF. Over the coming weeks, it'll make the warped prism of Wanda look like some party favor, as the people of the Marvel Universe use their fears to justify actions that are so twisted from reality that it makes a riot look controlled and reasonable. This is just the beginning of that and it makes the people of Stamford, who are already angry enough to kill Speedball, so scared that their city will be targeted again that they have no choice than to lash out at the young hero.
To bring that point home, Leonard turns on the television to show us that the Raft is all fire and smoke. The super-criminals that were once held inside have escaped for Breakout 2: The Wrath of Kuurth. They ask if Robbie knew about any of this but Speedball tells them he's been in Stamford all day, volunteering his time.
Miram tells them that fear is everywhere and starts listing off all the real world reasons that people have to be afraid to leave their homes in broad daylight. Robbie asks why Miriam is holding it together so well and she tells him that her son dying is pretty much the worst thing that could ever happen and all of this is minor in that perspective. Baldwin turns away, ashamed.
Even though Speedball isn't causing havoc on the streets, that doesn't mean Stamford has escaped more destruction. With the Raft leaking prisoners, some of them are bound to make their way into this story. Enter: The Living Laser, Whirlwind, Icemaster, Aftershock, and Ember. You probably recognize Living Laser and Whirlwind because they're seriously old school villains. If you don't, Living Laser is a LIVING LASER and Whirlwind is a mutant WHIRLWIND who used to be Wasp's driver. Icemaster is basically an evil Iceman. Aftershock and Ember were Bastards of Evil, appearing in the first Young Allies storyline covered in Super Reads a while back. They have lightning and fire powers respectively and also false memory implants. Good times.
These super-criminals tear up the streets on their way through town. Some of them have stolen a Raft air cruiser to attack from a comfortable altitude. They aren't sticking around but are still causing a scene and lives are in danger.
Speedball suits up and is ready to launch into battle against these criminals. Miriam Sharpe blocks the door. She remembers the last time Robbie played hero in Stamford and isn't ready for a repeat performance. Besides, if they wait it out, these criminals will leave their town far behind. Speedball asks how many will die while they wait and you can guess what happens next. Miriam lets him go.
Speedball is outnumbered and the fight goes against him almost straight up. Living Laser's attack doesn't deflect like a kinetic blast, and actually damages the hero. This activates Robbie's Penance powers and he gives the criminals a blast of blue lightning. It's the last time he'll have an advantage. The villains all attack together and our hero is basically a rag doll that spouts out a bunch of glowing balls as he gets pummeled.
After a while, the bad guys get bored and leave. They know how hard Speedball is to kill and they don't want to stay in one place very long. While Baldwin didn't win this fight, he did get them to focus on HIM instead of the rest of the population so I guess... mission accomplished?
Most of the crowd forming around Speedball wouldn't take that view. They think the guy just endangered their lives all the more by sticking his neck out. One guy tries reasoning with them but it's no use. The lead douche-nozzle (you can tell by his upturned hair and douchey beard) decides that the only thing they can do is take the law into their own hands because if they don't, Speedball will just go back to living in a mansion and laughing at them.
He might be our prerequisite douche but he's a smart little turd. He makes sure no one hits Speedball because that would do them no good. There's only one way to end Speedball's life and that's to suffocate him. As some others hold the hero, lead douche puts a plastic bag on Robbie's head. The guy who tried to talk reason texts Leonard to tell him what's going on.
Speedball wakes up to find himself in the middle of dying and he doesn't know if he should even try to live. Robbie truly does blame himself for all the dead in Stamford and it's a weight that sometimes drags him down. This is one of those times.
It's a good thing one person in this town doesn't want her neighbors to become murderers. Miriam Sharpe has taken the shotgun she took off her friend earlier and has come down here to save a life. Even if it IS the life of the man partially responsible for her son's death.
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Elia Bonetti
In this issue:
• The Agents of Atlas head to the Thule Society's old castle in Germany for some reason.
• After fighting their way past some Nazi bots, their guide gets shot in the chest and dies. Jimmy Woo finds a map to the castle hidden on the dead man's chest.
• They use the ridiculous map to explore the complex.
• Jimmy and M-11 find a hidden chamber filled with dead Atlanteans. Before they can burn all the evidence, Namora and the others show up.
Before I go any further, I've gotta tell you all that I loved the Agents of Atlas. It was a fun book and it's missed. This... this isn't the Agents of Atlas. It's not fun. It's not even that logically assembled. I honestly don't understand why anything in this book is happening.
Well, I understand Jimmy's perspective. It's all "warped prism of Fear Itself." Jimmy is basically living out all his Red Scare fears in the modern age and keeps being tempted into going back to the past in his specially designed fifties room. WHY he's following a skin head to a Thule Castle that has been abandoned for almost sixty years is where the story takes a drastic turn into WTF. I'm in good company here. None of the other members of the Agents of Atlas understand why they're doing this either. That's because it doesn't make sense and you've got to wonder why the skinhead even mentioned this castle except to further the plot.
Regardless, the Agents of Atlas are heading to the place that kicked off Fear Itself. In Fear Itself: Book of the Skull, the Red Skull had his Thule sorcerors summon up a weapon of mass destruction to aid in the German war effort. What they got was an immovable hammer so it didn't help them all that much. When the Agents of Atlas hunted down a particularly violent sect of racists, they found a decendent of the Thules that summoned this hammer. When they questioned him, they learned about this castle and Jimmy thought investigating it was the most important thing they could do.
The skinhead also told Jimmy Woo that there were Thule plants in the Atlas Foundation. This has freaked Jimmy the hell out even though it really shouldn't. The Atlas Foundation was basically an evil organization before it fell into Jimmy Woo's hands so there are no doubt evil elements still in the organization. I mean, their main advisor is an evil dragon. This isn't a group that the Agents completely trust because that would be foolish. Still, it has its purposes and most of the people in the organization will serve whoever's in charge. Right now, that's Jimmy Woo.
So... logic gaps that I guess could be covered up by the pervading fear that is the foundation behind all of the Fear Itself books. It still reads like bad storytelling, though.
Oh, Namora and Jimmy are hooking up, too. They're hiding it from the rest of the team but they're clumsy about it.
Anyway, the Agents arrive at the Thule castle and decide to question the racist one more time. When that yields only racism, Jimmy has the Uranian try another mind probe. While the racist is protected by some magic enchantments, Bob Grayson does pick up something about snakes. He then picks up a connection between the Thule Society and the Atlas Foundation but tells Jimmy that it might be a plant. Paranoid as Woo is, he overreacts and tries to shut down his entire organization. Ken Hale, the Gorilla Man, stops him from doing something monumentally stupid. He can always shut down his evil organization later on.
For now, the Agents have work to do. The team infiltrates the castle with their skinhead guide in tow. Suddenly, the skinhead's confident demeanor is gone and he's almost peeing his pants. This might have something to do with the Nazi robots that appear and start opening fire on the team.
Everybody fights giant robots except for Namora and Venus who would rather talk about how Jimmy stops freaking out about everything when he's in the middle of battle.
In the fight, the racist is shot. It's a fatal chest wound. Jimmy asks one last time for information before the neo-Nazi dies but doesn't get anything. Well, taking off the racist's shirt does reveal another sweet tattoo. This one was hidden under a layer of skin that was somehow burned off when the racist was shot. Don't ask. It'll hurt your brain.
You want more brain hurting? This tattoo, which is like a spiked wheel, is apparently a map to the castle which doesn't look all that wheel shaped. The neo-Nazi was given that tattoo very early in life, I guess just in case he needed to die leading a team of adventurers into the Thule castle. I'm gonna go take some Tylenol. X(
OK. Let's just pretend that all made sense and go with it. The Agents of Atlas split up and search the castle for whatever they're searching the castle for. Namora, Gorilla Man, and the Uranian head off in one direction and the two males start arguing about Jimmy's latest leadership decisions. Even though they both agree the boss is a little off his rocker, Ken Hale doesn't think they should mutiny just yet. After all, Ken owes Jimmy for making him feel like a human being again after getting turned into a gorilla.
These three hear a wall coming down in the distance and that's because M-11 and Jimmy have found a section of the building that has been walled off. M-11 breaks through to find... this.
The fact that Atlanteans died here is well known. Back in WWII, Namor, Cap, and Bucky found sacrifices on the roof and gave them a proper burial by burning the bodies. These dead corpses are also Atlantean but they weren't killed as sacrificed. They were killed to make the Thule Book of Sorcery that was recovered by Sin in Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull. Each page was made from Atlantean skin. That would take quite a few Atlanteans, especially if someone made a mistake on a page and it needed to be rewritten. Not only do we see bodies, we also see discarded pages.
Jimmy's first thought after revulsion is that they need to burn these bodies before his girlfriend, Namora, sees them. His next thought is to examine the pages for any clues to what the Red Skull was doing here sixty years ago.
All this time, Namora is racing to the chamber, hoping that Jimmy is alright. All she heard was the noise of a wall collapsing and doesn't know that it wasn't another Nazi-bot causing it. In her fear, Namora's mental barriers collapse and the Uranian knows that she's been hooking up with Jimmy. Bob tells Ken this only to learn that Gorilla Man had already figured that out.
Anyway, Namora reaches the room before Jimmy or M-11 have had a chance to tidy it up so she sees all the dead bodies of her kinspeople.
OK, that's the issue but does anyone else wonder what happened to Venus? She was here for a panel or two, I swear.
Writer: Howard Chaykin
Artist: Howard Chaykin
In this issue:
• The Raft burns, courtesy of Kuurth, Breaker of Stuff.
• The Purple Man makes his escape but is more concerned about being called the Purple Man.
• Oh, he's also wondering why he doesn't get a pretty new hammer.
This is a one-pager by the formerly great Howard Chaykin so we don't get too much of a story. This focuses on one particular super-criminal and his escape from the Raft.
Zebediah Killgrave is the Purple Man. He has the ability to control others and has used this ability for many sick purposes in the past. He, Jessica Jones-Cage, and Luke Cage have a particularly vivid history together. All that is nice background but has nothing at all to do with this story.
No, this is a simple tale of one man escaping from a Maximum Maximum Security Prison after it's broken in half by a super-powered Juggernaut going by the new, godly name, Kuurth. The Purple Man sees the super powered monstrocity going about his work, sowing fear and property damage but that's just confirming how he's gotten this far.
The Raft has never been unescapable but new security measures have made the river itself a danger. According to recent Thunderbolts issues, there are dangers in the water like genetically altered jellyfish that zap escaping prisoners who try to swim across the river. These don't seem to be particularly effective since Purple Man is just making a swim for it.
On his way out, he thinks about his super-villain name, "Purple Man," and internally monologues about how he doesn't like it even though it's a pretty good identifier. No, he'd rather be known by his birth name. "Killgrave" does have a nice, evil sound to it, after all.
As he swims away, he also wonders why Juggernaut got a power hammer and not him.
Writer: Corinna Bechko
Artist: Lelio Bonaccorso
In this issue:
• Liz Allen and her son, Normie, take the train back to the suburbs after a visit with Harry Osborn.
• Fear Itself happens. This includes Tiger Shark attacking people right outside a train terminal.
• There's a rush for the train but the conductor drives off before anyone can get inside. Two people are dangling from the door and manage to pull themselves in after the fact.
• Normie takes up the role as hostage and Liz has to talk one of these two down from crazy fear and also save the other one's life.
Liz Allen has had a rough life. Her half-brother is the sometimes villain known as the Molten Man. Her ex-husband is Harry Osborn. Her son is Norman Osborn's grandson. With that kind of family, I dare you to try sleeping the night. I mean, you never know when your ex is going to show up looking for pain medication.
Still, Liz has to give Harry some visitation rights with their son and today is one of those days. Instead of Harry coming out to the 'burbs to visit them, this visit took Liz and lil' Normie into the big city. We don't catch up with Liz and Normie until after the trip is nearly over. She's taking her kid back home on the train.
This is when Fear Itself kicks into some sort of gear. The Raft has already spilled it's contents all over New York. The resident criminal of this story is Tiger Shark. The super-villain is tossing around SWAT trucks and freaking people out at a nearby bank.
When the train pulls in at the terminal, there are panicked people desperate to board. The conductor sees the near riots and barely stops. A few people clutch at the doors but the train pulls away before anyone can properly board.
This isn't Liz's stop but that doesn't stop Normie from skipping off towards the exit even after his mom calls him back. Kids. This leaves him in the perfect position to become a hostage. Two potential passengers are still holding onto the closing doors and they uses Normie's arm as an anchor to pull themselves inside.
Now, apparently, the two guys that just got on the train are brothers. They don't say that but Liz says they are and I'm guessing the writer just forgot that she hadn't established that before Liz says it. Otherwise, Liz just assumed and wasn't corrected because the two dudes are freaking out too badly.
They're story is that they headed on down to the bank to take out their money since they heard a rumor that it was the late 1920's and it was the in thing to do. Then there was a riot and Tiger Shark made everything worse. Long story short, one of the two is bleeding to death. The one that isn't is holding a blade to Normie's head and demanding that Liz make the train bring them to a hospital. This is made only less ridiculous given that the train has stopped moving completely at this point.
Liz Allen tells the crazy man who has her son hostage that she's a nurse and can help his "brother" but first he needs to let her son go because that's not cool, man. The man is relentless in the need for a hospital and won't comply but Liz makes him aware that the bleeding man won't make it to the hospital unless someone treats his wound. It's a tense moment but the dude finally puts down the knife.
Instead of kicking the freaked out man in the face for daring to endanger the life of her son, Liz does the honorable thing and saves the other guy's life. All the time, Normie is clinging on to her like she's a life preserver.
Liz does good work and saves the man's life. They all sit uncomfortably close to eachother as emergency teams start getting passengers off the train.
Fear Itself: Spider-Man #1
Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Mike McKone
In this issue:
• We witness a couple people going through their own fear and losing their battle with it. Over this storyline, these guys will keep appearing as subplots until they finally interact with Spider-Man. We also see rats and immediately think of the Spidey villain associated with those creatures.
• A driver runs into the front of a taxi cab but when the taxi driver confronts him it's all terrorist this and murderer that. A crowd quickly becomes a lynch mob. Spider-Man swoops in and saves the day.
• Up on a rooftop, Peter tries calling his Aunt May but cell phones are down all over. The taxi driver tells Spider-Man how he deals with fear.
• Spider-Man spends the rest of the issue saving as many lives as possible, even after the cops start firing on him.
• The Daily Bugle hits the streets to cover the story.
• The Wall-Crawler runs out of web fluid but manages to save a suicide jumper. They both fall but Peter is able to slow them down enough that the landing isn't fatal.
• Rats attack Spider-Man. Hey! It's Vermin!
We're about to follow Spider-Man through the first day of Fear Itself. You'll notice that he was with the Avengers in Fear Itself #2 but I guess when Steve sent everyone off on their missions, Peter Parker wound up on the street to save lives. This is only a three issue mini-series so it gives Spider-Man plenty of time to do his own thing before rejoining the main cast in Fear Itself.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, we have to introduce our cast of extras. Meet:
Robert Christansen! He's the CFO of Roxxon Oil. Since we know Roxxon is inherently evil, we don't even need any explanation on why he's freaking out with suicidal tendencies but we get them anyway. It's because of the company's financials.
Now meet Karen Anderson! She's enormously pregnant and "knows" that she'll die in child birth. She needs her husband to be here for the baby but he's got some fears of his own. They mostly involve her cheating on him and the baby not being his. He packs up a duffel bag and walks out of the relationship.
Finally, meet John Russel. Like many Americans, he owns a house that he can no longer afford. He's jobless and out of money. John's only behind one mortgage payment but he sees no sign of relief in sight for him or his family so he decides to do the only logical thing and defend his property with bullets.
The final panel on the first page is that of a rat. Ominous, isn't it?
And this is just six hours into Fear Itself. Things are going to get a lot worse.
Contrary to popular opinion, not all taxi cabs in New York City are driven by foreigners but the one driven by Naveed Moshtaghi would seem to fit the bill. It doesn't. Naveed is a second generation Iranian who grew up in Brooklyn. Still, his fear is very easy to guess. He's just waiting for the world to look at him and blame him for every terrorist attack ever committed. In the atmosphere of Fear Itself, that kind of fear is begging to be reciprocated.
Naveed's taxi gets hit by another car. He gets out, kind of angry, to figure out what's going on but the other guy doesn't take any of the responsibility. In fact, it would have to be Moshtaghi's fault. I mean, look at him. He's so foreign. An obvious terrorist.
It doesn't take long for the people nearby to gather around this man and start beating him senseless. It's a damn good thing this is a Spider-Man comic. Our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler swings in for the save, picking up Naveed and depositing him on a rooftop away from the immediate violence.
Peter Parker has fears of his own. Most of these revolve around the safety of his aunt. Spidey tries to give her a call but his cell phone won't connect. Naveed, still nearby, tells a despairing web-slinger that all cell phones are down.
Spider-Man sees that Naveed isn't succumbing to the fear like everyone else and that's despite the fact that he was just nearly beaten up by your average New York mob. Mashotaghi explains that he's used to his own fears. The way he gets through them is thinking about his family and being there for them. It inspires Spider-Man to continue. As he swings away, Peter tells Naveed to get to his family.
Time passes. In the eleventh hour of Fear Itself, Robert smashes his skyscraper window open with his desk chair. He's called his wife telling her good-bye.
Karen Anderson goes into early labor. With her husband gone and cell phone service out, this is a terrible time for it.
John Russel waits for invaders to take his house away.
More rats scamper their way through New York City.
Spider-Man has stayed busy the whole time, going from one crisis to the next with no breaks. If he was getting overtime pay, he'd be making out like a bandit but he's the kind of super-hero that doesn't bet a weekly check for his heroics. Heck, the minute he joined the Avengers, they took away the payment plan. Good old Parker luck.
Normally, Spider-Man is a walking Comedy Central routine with all the jokes and wisecracks he puts out there but he's a different dude here. The fear has effected him so badly that his usual antics don't come into play. He's all about saving lives and saves the snappy banter for less serious-minded events.
In hour fourteen, things get even worse. At the offices of the Daily Bugle, their video feed of the BBC goes down. Cells are still down. The reporters here are all dealing with the fear in their own way but since they're reporters, they mostly stay focused on the job.
Oh, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson also makes an appearance. He had a satellite phone brought to Robbie Robertson just to tell Robbie that this is all on Spider-Man's head. Good use of your time, JJJ.
Everyone at the Daily Bugle gets into their jobs. They'll all be covering Fear Itself because it's the only game in town. It's not like the Yankees will be playing.
Eventually, some dude gets so scared that the police are going to come after him that he decides to ram his white van into a police precinct. Spider-Man webs up the front of the vehicle so that it doesn't slam all the way through the building but it still makes a remarkable dent to the exterior. The wall-crawler pulls the driver from the van right before the whole truck detonates behind him.
Now, even though Spider-Man was just here saving lives and was clearly not driving that van, the police have their own fears. It's that quick of a turn around, folks. That guy in the webs is guilty of trying to blow up a police station. Knowing that he won't be able to reason with these guys (and also knowing that they're well armed), Spider-Man swings off with bullets whizzing all around him.
We're at the twenty hour mark. Robert still hasn't got enough fear to jump out of a perfectly good building. Karen walks the streets, trying to get to the hospital since chaos has halted all forms of public transportation. John has started opening fire on anyone walking by his home. Rats continue to gather.
Peter has finally made his way to Aunt May's apartment but the news he gets there is fairly ambiguous. Aunt May isn't there but her cell phone IS. She could be anywhere right now. It's not like they compare plans anymore. As far as Peter knows, his aunt is on vacation somewhere. It's not terribly comforting because Fear Itself is happening everywhere.
Spidey checks his supplies. He's pretty low on web fluid. He has more but he'll be saving lives all the way back to his back-up supply. He's finally overcome by the situation and internally wishes someone would save HIM.
He's still the hero, though, and that means pushing on even in extreme situations. For example, in the twenty-third hour of the fear, Spider-Man finally catches up to one of our extras. It's the Roxxon CFO, Robert Christanson, still swaying from the window of his office. Spider-Man tries to talk the man down from the ledge but when he's distracted by one of those pesky rats, Robert finally leaps.
Spidey's out of web fluid so he can't just snag his decending objective. That means he'll have to fall faster than Robert, catch him, and then save both of their lives. The first part works out just fine. Spidey's an excellent faller. The second part takes a little more work. Using one of his stickier-than-normal hands, Spider-Man reaches out and stops their fall by clinging to the side of the building. This hurts like hell but at least they're both alive.
Before Robert can scramble to safety (because there's nothing like a plummet off a roof to make you realize how much you want to live), the part of the building that was holding them both up gives away and they continue their fall. They're still a hell of a ways up but Robert's fall is broken by hitting some trashbags. Spider-Man... hits the front window of a parked car with his head.
So Robert is saved even though he's still Roxxon's CFO. Swinging around New York City while Spidey's unconscious, we see that Karen Anderson has stopped walking. Those contractions are getting worse. John Russel is still defending his home. There's someone coming in the door and he's ready to kill them. There's no doubt in my mind that he's about to shoot his wife in his fear.
And the rats... they're everywhere.
Spider-Man wakes up and tries to get moving again. Fortunately, Peter's got accelerated healing abilities so landing face first on a car from a great height is something he can walk away from. It's just not easy. Pete's a guy on a mission, though, so he's giving it his all. Except those rats find him VERY interesting and they all get closer for a first hand inspection. Spider-Man is surrounded by rodents, covered by rats. They start to take nibbles.
Behind Spider-Man, Vermin makes his appearance.
The Avengers #57
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
In this story:
• The Vision flies across the rainfilled sky until he finds the apartment of Janet Van Dyne. When Hank Pym leaves for some seductive science experiments, Vish attacks!
• Wasp escapes with the courage of an Avenger but the Vision just keeps following her. Just when he's about to kill her, he gets a gigantic headache and stops.
• Goliath gets a signal from Jan and climbs up to her room at giant-size. They've got a new mystery to solve.
• Hawkeye meets with his girlfriend, Black Widow. They're arguing when Clint is called back to the Mansion.
• Black Panther fights crime in the rainstorm until he's also called back to the Mansion.
• When everyone is assembled, they investigate the Vision and then get attacked by him.
• Vish stops fighting them and starts brooding. Then, remembering that he was built by Ultron-5, Vision offers to take the team to Ultron-Five's secret base.
• This is all according the Ultron-5's plan and as soon as the Avengers arrive, Ultron-5 separates Hank from the group and has another robot attack the giant Avenger.
• The rest of the team is trapped in one of those crushing rooms. Vision leaves them to confront Ultron-Five.
• After Vision defeats his master, he frees the Avengers and we call this issue done.
October 1968! We've already mentioned a couple books on the shelves for this month because it's the same month that saw the first appearance of Lorna Dane in X-Men #49. It also saw the release of Thor #157, Silver Surfer #2, The Sub-Mariner #6, Daredevil #45, and Sgt. Fury #59. We're not worried about the ever-expanding Marvel line, though. We're concerned with the Vision.
The synthezoid Vision wasn't the first Marvel/Atlas character to be named "Vision." During the Golden Age, a more supernatural version of the character ran around with the moniker. Roy Thomas wanted to bring back the Golden Age character but his Editor in Chief, Stan Lee, had him bring back an android. The new Vision was still haunting but as a synthetic human being brought a whole new science fiction feel for the character. In time, it was revealed that the Vision's body was that of the original Human Torch which gave him another connection to the Golden Age. This gets more confusing later on when the real original Human Torch showed up and Vision's body became an alternate universe VERSION of the Human Torch but... continuity gets confusing sometimes.
Vision makes his debut in the soaking rain and shows us one of his abilities, flight, in the process. His destination is the penthouse apartment of Janet Van Dyne, known to us as the Wasp. Janet's long time boyfriend, Hank Pym, is just about to leave even though Jan would rather he stuck around and enjoyed the rainy night from the comfort of her bedroom. There's nothing for it, though. Pym is a dedicated scientist and he's got his priorities.
As soon as he steps out of the room, Vision steps in. Janet hears the patio door opening and turns to face her attacker, never believing she'd see such a horrible..."Vision--!" That's right. Wasp just gave Vish his name. The Wasp flies through a key hole to escape but Vision phases through the wall and continues the pursuit. When the synthezoid activates his heat vision, it looks like it's all over for our favorite socialite.
Except there's no killing blow coming. The Vision reels back in pain as his head bursts with agony. Jan uses the free moment to call back Hank on his secret decoder belt.
The Avenger known as Goliath (that's Hank) panics like you wouldn't believe. Hank shoots up to his full height and climbs up the side of Jan's building like a second rate King Kong. He breaks through Jan's patio window in his play to reach Jan in time but there was no need to hurry. Vision has already passed out from his overblown headache.
Janet chides Hank for the mess he's made but it's mostly her being mad at him for leaving earlier. She's gained her composure from the initial encounter with the Vision and has her head back on pretty straight. She still has him pay for that window.
While Hank and Jan are a couple that nominally works, Clint and Natasha are on the way to splitsville. Basically everytime they hang out, it always ends in a fight of one type or another. This time, it's about the Black Widow riding once again. Natasha has decided to rejoin SHIELD since Hawkeye doesn't have time for her. They bicker about it for a bit and then Clint gets a call to Assemble and shelves this conversation. Yeah... there's a reason these two didn't go the distance.
The king of Wakanda probably has better things to do than stroll around rainy New York late at night. Hell, he probably has more important things to do than be an Avenger. That's just it for T'challa. He knows that he's making the world a safer place by being an Avenger but he doesn't feel satisfied.
To end his melancholy, someone decides to use the heavy downpour to commit some crime in the neighborhood. Too bad the Black Panther is here to stop them. It's a swift battle and T'challa ends up winning, of course. The police show up pretty quickly and cart off the criminals. Some kid in the crowd talks about how awesome it would be to have Black Panther doing this kind of thing all the time. The King of Wakanda thinks heavily on this and then sees that his communicator has been buzzing for the last half hour and gets to assembling.
Back at Avengers Mansion, Hank has hooked the unmoving Vision up to his best sensor equipment and has discovered that the man is fully synthetic. A "synthezoid." It's something Hank has been working on until he suddenly wasn't.
While the Avengers are talking about this, Vision revives and starts attacking the entire team. The synthezoid puts up a good fight against the entire team, showing off how he can alter his density for different results, but he doesn't really have the heart to battle them. Before there's a conclusive victor, Vision drops into a chair to brood.
He was created to destroy the Avengers but he would rather work WITH the heroes than stand against them. If only he could recall his own creation more clearly. Concentrating, Vision gets a hidden memory of his creator, the villainous robot known as Ultron! The Avengers don't know much about this robot and their searches for it have come up empty. That's all about to change. The Vision can bring them right to the robot's hideout. Even though trust is thin between the synthezoid and the Avengers, they decided to take him up on his offer.
Using a pre-Quinjet airship, the Avengers quickly fly to Ultron-Five's secret lair, being admitted because the Vision was programmed into the security system. All of this is going according to Ultron-5's plans. He programed the Vision to destroy the Avengers but if the synthezoid failed, the Vision would bring the Avengers right here to be dealt with. Now, it's time to handle the heroes as the robot sees fit.
A trap is sprung and Hank Pym finds himself falling into another chamber. Once he hits the floor, a robot servant is activated. It's a short fight. Goliath is defeated with ease.
The rest of the Avengers don't get this personal treatment which should already tell us something about Ultron-Five's origins. The team is trapped in a room and the walls are getting closer and closer. Realizing that he can do nothing for his allies here, Vision phases through the wall and walks right into a confrontation with Ultron-5.
Vision would like his super secret origin story but Ultron-Five isn't too keen on giving the future Avenger the help he needs. Instead, the robot decides to destroy his synthetic creation and after temporarily incapacitating the Vision, Ultron-5 carries his "son" to a vat of energy. After revealing that his only weakness are the two electrodes on the sides of his head, Ultron-Five drops Vision right in the vat. Thinking quickly, the synthezoid drops to almost zero density and escapes the death trap.
Ultron-5 makes a lunge for his traitorous servant and passes right through the Vision. The robotic villain keeps on going, strikes a wall, and breaks both electrodes on his head. Ultron-Five has been destroyed.
With Ultron's death, the robot carrying Goliath collapses, inert. The walls set to crush the rest of the Avengers stop as well. It looks like Ultron-Five was doing a lot of the thinking for this entire complex. The team hears how Vision destroyed the murderous robot and then gets a good look at the villain's remains. All that's missing is the head which no doubt ceased to exist when the electrodes were broken. Right?
Not so much. The head of Ultron-Five is found by an inner city youth who uses it like a ball until he gets bored, snaps both electrodes and tosses the evil head away for more treasure. The poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley is mixed into these panels to highlight the end of this would be world conqueror.
It's obviously not the last time we'll hear from the infamous Ultron but it seems final enough for now.
The Avengers #58
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
In this story:
• Avengers Assemble! The founding Avengers join the current roster to discuss admitting the Vision!
• The problem is they don't really know the origins of their synthetic friend. Vision tries opening more locked memories and ends up unlocking his "birth" memories with Ultron-5.
• Goliath remembers his own experiments in developing a solar-powered synthezoid but doesn't remember why he abandoned it. The team takes a quick trip out to the suburbs to find Hank's old lab abandoned.
• Hooking himself up to his electronic memory bank machine, Hank remembers that it was HE who created Ultron-1 and was almost immediately betrayed by his own creation.
• Ultron-One forced him to close up this lab through some kind of mind control.
• They also find that the memory tapes of the long dead Wonder Man are missing. Some loose logic connects the Vision to Wonder Man and they realize that Vish's personality is based on Wonder Man's memories.
• With that mystery out of the way, the Avengers welcome the Vision into the fold. Vision takes his leave of the others to go into another room and cry.
So we've had the "final tale" of Ultron-5 but the Avengers don't know what the robot's motivations are. They've got a new ally in the Vision but they don't know how such a synthetic human came to be. All shall be revealed in this titanic issue!
Since this issue is short on actual good guy/bad guy combat, Roy Thomas brought in some missing Avengers to make it a party. Black Panther enters Avengers Mansion to find Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man hanging out with the current roster of Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye. In their midst: the Vision. He's the reason for the gathering. The team would like to offer him membership but what they know of his origin is kind of shaky and they'd like to know more before staking their lives on his good behavior.
To check out the Vision's powers, Cap does what he used to do with his Kooky Quartet all the time: he picks a fight. Hawkeye, who's figured this all out, is the only one to sit back and watch a master at work. Everyone else wonders if they should stop this fight. Goliath tries but Captain America ducks the giant Avenger and makes a lunge right at Vision. Vish goes intangible and the World War II hero passes right through. Iron Man and Thor enter the battle in turn and it's only when Thor faces off against the Vision that the synthezoid is put on the ropes. Yep. There's some power in the new guy. No doubt about that.
But there's still the mystery of the Vision's origin. Since the Vision himself doesn't know his own past, he sits down and broods some more.
The Avengers decide that it's time to officially call this meeting together and we get a nice splashpage of everyone who's done some Avengering in the past. This includes everyone in attendance as well as Black Widow, Hulk, Hercules, and Spider-Man.
It's back to the business at hand, though. Who is the Vision and what does he do? They muse about probing his mind and Vision decides that he could try once more to look into his own locked memories. This time, he pushes past whatever barriers there are and gets a good look at his own "birth." This doesn't go back so far as to see where his body came from but it does show Ultron-5 activating him for the first time.
The Vision isn't given a name by his creator. In fact, Ultron-5 thinks of the synthezoid as an inferior and unworthy of a name. Such is the will of Ultron that while the Vision questions his master, he can't bring himself to rebel just yet.
This just reminds the team that they hadn't actually worked out all of Ultron-Five's backstory, either. Hank Pym knows that the robot was solar-powered, much like the robot HE was working on. Hawkeye asks Goliath what ever became of that experiment but Pym can't actually remember. Another mystery! The Avengers team takes a Thor assisted flight to Hank Pym's suburban laboratory.
Which is all shut down tight, to the surprise of all. When they get inside, Hank still can't figure out what happened, like his memory of the place has a few holes in it. To close those holes, he has Jan hook him up to the electronic memory bank machine and instantly relives the last days of this lab.
As long-time Marvel readers probably know, Hank Pym created the first Ultron. It was a very simple artificial intelligence that was probably derived from his study of the Dragon Man. He hadn't even turned the machine on yet. Ultron-1 started up all by itself and went from an infant speech pattern to that of an adult in seconds. In those same seconds, Ultron went all Oedipal and tried to kill it's creator. Hank survived but made a boneheaded play at growing to super size only to hit his head on the ceiling.
Goliath still fights back with the best of them. The problem is that even at this early stage, Ultron-1 is hard to destroy. Hank gives it his Sunday best but still ends up in this uncomfortable position.
After besting his daddy in a fight, Ultron hypnotizes Hank Pym, making him close up this lab without a second though. With that done, Ultron-1 escapes the suburban lab of Hank Pym and builds himself into the criminal robot mastermind, Ultron-5. Jan and her driver (secretly Whirlwind), find Goliath in the wreckage later. Hank declares that he's shutting this place down.
Somehow, this memory had faded from his mind which shouldn't surprise us since Hank is about to go completely crazy in exactly one issue. Yep, Hank's about to become Yellowjacket for the first time!
But not in this story. No, this is all about Avengers housecleaning. They've figured out the Secret Origin of Ultron and that's set to haunt Hank Pym for the rest of his life. Now, they've got to finish Vision's story.
A quick search of the lab reveals that there's something missing: Wonder Man's memory tape! You remember Wonder Man's first and only appearance thus far in Avengers #9, right? Well, I Super Read it back in Super Reads 119. The short version is that Wonder Man was Simon Williams, a failed businessman who tried to get revenge on Tony Stark by joining the Masters of Evil, getting super-powers, and bluffing his way onto the Avengers team. The problem was that Simon wasn't really that bad of a guy and when push came to shove, he sacrificed himself to save the Avengers from Baron Zemo and the rest of the Masters of Evil. We learn right here that Wonder Man was still SLIGHTLY alive and there was time to record his memories on a tape. Probably an eight track. The Avengers are crazy.
It doesn't take a genius to figure this next part out. Even though it's a logical leap, everyone in the room knows that the Vision has Wonder Man's brain patterns. That's why he couldn't destroy the Avengers. At his heart, Vision is as good a man as Simon Williams. Heck, he's starting with a clean slate so he's probaby a better man! All of our mysteries are solved for the day so the Avengers can now return home.
Knowing the Vision's origins clears up any doubt on if he can be an Avenger. As soon as they return home, Hank Pym offers Vish a spot on Earth's Mightiest. Vision is still confused because he thinks of himself as less than human but it doesn't bother the rest of the team. Many of the Avengers have been slightly to the side of human. They're all about quality of character. Knowing this, Vision takes his leave of the team and walks into another room.
Many members of the team are still chilled by the Vision's emotionless speech pattern and they don't think Vision actually understands the weight of everything that just went down. Hank Pym gets it, though. Just because the Vision doesn't do a lot to indicate his emotions verbally, he knows that the synthezoid is in the other room crying. We get a look in and, yep. Vision's in tears. It's been an emotional day.
The Vision has been one of the biggest mainstays on the Avengers roster over the years. He eventually fell in love with and married Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. They had two kids that turned out to be subliminally created by Wanda. The Vision lost all of his memories and was restarted from scratch in the late eighties. That lasted about seven of our years before classic Vision returned and served with the Avengers all the way up to his death in Avengers: Disassembled. The current Vision running around the Marvel Universe is based on the original synthezoid but was built out of the Young Avenger, Iron Lad's armor and brain patterns. This makes him a different person all together.
Comics being how they are, it's probably only a matter of time before we get the original synthezoid back up and running once more. For now, he's taking a little break.
Well, that sounds like as good a time as any to call this one done! I hope you had fun.
Until next time: Excelsior!
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX