Rounding that corner.
Today, we check out Namor: The First Mutant #4, Shadowland: Blood on the Street #4, Shadowland: Power Man #4, Invincible Iron Man #32, New Mutants #19, and Blast to the Past for Tales of Suspense #'s 75 & 76. Enjoy and spread the word!
Welcome to another exciting episode of Super Reads! I hope you've used the restroom before this trip because we aren't pulling over until we're through. As usual, a GREAT deal of thanks goes out to bkthomson and sdsichero getting Super Reads going through these financially troubling times!
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Under the sea. Under the sea! Darling there's vampires and they don't glitter UNDER THE SEA!
Namor: The First Mutant #4
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Andres Guinaldo
In this issue:
• We cut back to the past to find how Namor's granddad, Thakorr, was turned by the Aqueos.
• In the present, Namor faces off against Thakorr. To the death.
• Thakorr taunts Namor about the inevitiable vampire conquest of pretty much everything. We squint our eyes so that we can pretend that's even a possibility.
• Before General Jian's army completely fails, Loa and the Logomancer arrive.
• Logomancer casts a spell that causes the power boost strengthening the Aqueos to dissipate.
• Namor takes some long-standing aggression out on his grandfather.
• Husam is turned into an Aqueos.
• Loa's glass air bubble is cracked, but the X-Man survives due to her amulet.
• Abira stabs Thakorr through with a nearby sword. Namor uses the distraction to plant Thakorr on the spell device and drain his blood.
• As the spell takes effect, Husam stabs himself and Husni on a spike.
• The Aqueos are mostly destroyed. Since Thakorr is an undead king, his blood isn't pure enough to destroy all of the underwater vampires.
• Namor re-establishes the Shallow Peace with the remaining Aqueos.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The vampire war against the mutants of San Francisco is reaching its inevitiable conclusion, but the war for the surviving Atlanteans remains unsettled even at this late hour. Atlantis has been knocked down hardcore ever since the end of the Civil War, when the ancient city was destroyed due to events completely unrelated to that mega-event. Now, Namor has gathered most of his people to the spire beneath Utopia but their new home is threatened when the Aqueos, the Atlantean vampires, cancel the Shallow Peace and start killing Atlanteans by the scores.
Namor has a plan that will end the threat of the Aqueos with a spell but one of the vital ingredients is the blood of an Atlantean King. ALL the blood. Luckily, Namor's grandfather, the former Emperor Thakorr, is the current Aqueos Highlord so the Avenging Son might not have to be a living sacrifice.
But how did that happen? Let me tell ya. Between World War II and the Modern Age of Marvel, the Shallow Peace acted up a bit and the Aqueos decided to cull the ancient city of Atlantis. Namor's grandfather, Emperor Thakorr, led his soldiers in the defense of the city but the lines failed. Thakorr was turned into a vampire and was connected to the ageless knowledge of the Aqueos. Atlantis was abandoned until Namor returned and re-united his people.
Thakorr's not a big fan of his grandson and doesn't like that the pink skin is ruling his people. That's ok. The Avenging Son doesn't like his granddad that much either. He has Abira start the spell while he gets busy on getting that last ingredient.
After Namor explains how he knew who Thakorr is (it's all about the Vault of Law being opened by some one other than the Sub-Mariner), the former Emperor of Atlantis tells the current king how the vampires are on the threshold of world conquest. None of us believe that but we'll suspend our disbelief for a moment or three.
The only threat that might actually have some merit is the fate of General Jian's forces invading the Aqueos' home city. The Atlanteans' numbers are dropping. There's no chance to retreat because Namor and Abira need to be defended in order for the whole plan to succeed. Enter: Loa and Logomancer! They arrive in a missile-like Atlantean vehicle to support the Atlantean effort.
Namor had given the X-Man, Loa, a mission to look into some surface documents and discover any secrets she could about the Atlantean vampires. What she found was that the Aqueos draw strength the closer they are to home. That means the Atlanteans are fighting these vampires in a position where the Aqueos couldn't be stronger. This is because those big fat elders that were introduced last issue are sending out magical strength beams. The Logomancer has a spell that will counteract that . All he needs is time to cast it. The Atlanteans set up defensive positions around him.
Thakorr and Namor are going at it with a special kind of rage reserved for completely disfunctional families. Both combatants have a lot of trash talk to throw at the other. The Aqueos Highlord is able to hold off his grandson long enough to swing over and attack Abira, who has been trying to read through the spell this whole time.
The former Emperor looks over the spell and remembers that his own father was the one to order its creation. Before he gets a chance to destroy the scroll, Namor hits Thakorr with a section of the wall. The Avenging Son has the run of the battle for a while but it doesn't last. The Highlord is in a place of strength and uses it to his advantage. He's also got a lot of creepy tentacles that can grow out of his mid section.
Remember Husam? He was the leader of the Tridents who originally helped Namor raid Aqueos territory for the head of Dracula back in issue one. His brother, Husni, was taken in the first issue and turned into an underwater vamp. Now, Husam has been captured by his brother and taken to the Cave of Spines where his eyes were poked by those spines in the ritual that will make him a vampire. When Husam has been turned, he breaks out of his bonds.
The Logomancer's spell is in full effect and now the Aqueos are actually falling. One of the vampires breaks through the Atlantean line and shatters the bubble holding in Loa's precious air. The young X-Man starts drowning. Then, the amulet around her neck starts glowing and the drowning stops. Reinvigorated, Alani uses her powers to swim through the Aqueos, destroying them in her wake.
Namor looks on the ropes but that's the advantage of having Abira along with him. She grabs a sword off the wall and stabs the Highlord straight through. This doesn't kill Thakorr. After all, Namor tore the vampire apart in the first issue and the dude just kept going. Still, it distracts the former Emperor long enough for Namor to get his second wind.
Thakorr's mistake is attacking Abira and forgetting about his super-powered grandson. The Sub-Mariner grasps his ancestor by the head and smashes Thakorr's face into the spell device. Planting a strong foot on the Highlord's cranium, Namor catches the spell scroll in his hand and completes the spell chant. Abira searches the wall of the room for the separation chant that will make this whole plan work. She finds it and fumbles through it.
Now, it just needs that blood. Namor grabs his knife and cuts his grandfather, releasing that precious blood. Spell cast. Those poor unmoving Aqueos elders watch and know the jig is up. One even says a single word in their native tongue.
I believe that word would be loosely translated as "crap."
In the Cave of Spines, Husam may be turned into an underwater vampire but his directive hasn't changed. He spins his brother around and impales them both on one of the spines. You'd think this would end both of their lives but the Aqueos are a whole lot more resilient compared to a normal vampire. Even while they're still stuck through by an underwater stalagmite, those crazy tentacles are already spouting out to repair the damage.
Husni laughs at this attempt to end his life. It's just not that easy to kill him OR Husam now. That's when the spell passes around them and ends both of their lives.
At the same time, the spell spreads around the Aqueos city, destroying every underwater vampire in sight. While it does its work, the Logomancer explains how the whole thing functions. It apparently works by combining salt to the bones of the Aqueos. The separation spell finishes the vampires off by pulling the creatures apart. It'll only work on the Aqueo but it's pretty effective.
But not ENTIRELY effective. As the dying Thakorr explains, his royal blood isn't pure enough to completely seal the deal. If the blood would have been Namor's the spell would have been 100%. If Thakorr were in his grandson's place, he would have done it.
Namor repeats something that Thakorr has used the whole issue: The Sub-Mariner is NOT his grandfather.
Anyway: Crisi Averted! Even the Aqueos elders have been destroyed so even though there may be some underwater vampires remaining, their powers will be significantly limited.
Namor and Abira swim back to the Atlantean soldiers that are still alive outside. He thanks Loa and the Logomancer for their help but tables talk about what's happened to Abira for a later date.
The King of Atlantis descends to the depths of the Aqueos city where he finds the terrified survivors. He's the conqueror so he claims the city as his prize. Namor puts the Shallow Peace back in working order but forbids any raids on Atlantean settlements. If they stay away from the rest of his people, they get to live. It's something that the Aqueos helping out the surface vampires won't be able to do.
Abira has her own little aftermath to look into. She was a Trident with Husam and Husni and possibly had a romantic relationship with Husam. She searches out the two and finds their dead bodies still skewered on the underwater spike.
Namore joins his soldiers once again and tells them that his realm will be rebuilt. He will do this while still getting as much out of his life as he can. For today, however, he and his people will swim back and look at what has just happened. Hopefully, they learned something.
Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #4
Writer: Antony Johnston
Penciler: Wellington Alves
In this story:
• Misty Knight talkes to Lt. Rafael Scarfe in the hospital. Danny Rand shows up to check on his baby momma.
• We also learn that the doctor is Silver Sable in disguise. She has information on who's behind the fake Hand killings.
• Misty sets up the final battleground. The "Hand" show up and assassinate their fake target, walking right into Knight's ambush.
• Oh, yeah. These "Hand" ninjas are actually cops. No-one saw that coming right from the first issue.
• The real Hand show up to exact some revenge on their impersonators. Fight! Fight! Fight!
• After the ninjas are all killed, Rafe gets the drop on Misty. He thinks he has everything worked out until more police officers arrive.
• After everyone else hears the incriminating evidence on these killer cops, Lt. Scarfe tries to buy his freedom through his pregnant hostage.
• Unfortunately, this pregnant woman has a bionic arm so it doesn't work out that well for the guilty police officer.
• The killer cops are brought to justice, courtesy of Misty Knight and company.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
We ended last issue with Misty Knight getting beat up just outside of Hell's Kitchen. This isn't some random attack. This was a message to get off her current case. If anyone knows Misty, they'd know that something like this isn't likely to scare her even if she does wrongly believe herself pregnant. It's just going to make her more determined.
So what is Knight's current case? Pro bono work. It seems that unconvicted criminals all over the city are winding up dead, presumably the work of the Hand. The problem with that theory is that it's outside the Hand's Shadowland territory and the wounds are too sloppy to be the work of a ninja... even the incompetent kind that have been working for the Hand.
After three issues, only one likely candidate has gained any sort of page time so this is less a mystery than us waiting for the heroes to catch up to the plot. It's been a bit... tedious.
At the start of this issue, we look in on our hero, Misty Knight, as she takes her first visitor at Saint Luke's- Roosevelt Hospital, just outside of the Kitchen. It's her former partner, Lieutenant Rafael Scarfe of the NYPD. It looks like all Misty got for her beating was some bumps and bruises. She doesn't know the condition on her baby because the ol' bionic arm makes scanning her difficult.
When they're finally ABLE to scan her (well after this issue is over and done with), they'll find out that she's not really pregnant. The supposed father, Danny Rand, isn't STERILE, but Immortal Weapons don't usually have children. It's a rarity when they do. This little detail was revealed at the start of the series over in I Am An Avenger #1 just so there was no real drama involving her unborn child. Good old continuity.
Speak of the Iron Fist, Danny's led into the room by a doctor (whom we should be paying a little attention to for later). It's all tender reunions for these two. Rand would like his baby momma to take it easy and sit out the rest of the issue, as would the departing Lt. Scarfe, but like we said earlier, that isn't likely. Misty says as much and then identifies the attending doctor as a disguised Silver Sable.
Sable updates Knight on how the whole Mr. Negative connection isn't panning out, handing her a tablet that nails the real suspects right on the head. Iron Fist, who just showed up and hasn't read the last three issues, is SHOCKED. Misty (and us if they would just reveal that it's the police behind this) isn't as surprised. They just need some concrete proof. Knight tells Sable to gather the troops and Ben Urich for good measure. It's time to set a trap.
It would be cool if Iron Fist stayed behind for cleanup but he's due back in the main Shadowland book and in the Shadowland: Power Man mini-series (that one concludes right below this one).
So what's the trap? Silver Sable pays off a dude, Ten-Spot Tyler, and has him spread the word that she's nabbed Marcos Vicello, who's probably some big-time untouchable criminal. Tyler even lets people know where Marcos is being held. For his trouble, Ten-Spot gets a big wad of hundred dollar bills and advice to get out of NYC. If you're wondering where Ten-Spot fits into the, Silver Sable met him in the first issue and kicked the crap out of his crew.
The set up is at the former Symkarian Embassy building owned by Silver Sable. The Hand ninjas landing on the roof move like real ninjas but they really aren't. After breaking into the former embassy, they assassinate a mannequin rigged up with Vicello's voice. The trap has been sprung.
Now that the ninjas have started talking, they're obviously native New Yorkers. Shroud, Misty, and Silver Sable demand they surrender. Instead, they pull guns. It's a short fight. When it's done, Misty unmasks the lead ninja who turns out to be: Lieutenant Rafael Scarfe.
So no real surprises.
The rest of the cops unmask. Rafe starts going into the righteousness of his cause but he loses his whole case when Silver Sable reminds him that he sent thugs to beat up a pregnant lady.
Misty gives the cops an ultimatum: turn themselves in or get turned in. The policemen laugh. Who's going to believe this group of heroes over four policemen? Misty's about to tell them how it would go down when REAL Hand ninjas attack. The real deals are here to clear their good names! With blood!
I think my grandma could fight her way through the Hand but just to make things a bit more on the good guys' side, Misty set Paladin outside with a sniper rifle. Some ninja eventually overtakes his location but attacks a hologram instead of the genuine article. Inside the former embassy, it's basically clean up. Ninjas fall. Misty's team wins.
Well, exept for one little thing...
In the confusion, the cops got rearmed. When the Hand are dusted, Lt. Scarfe pulls his gun on Misty. The police have stripped off their fake ninja outfits. The plan is to hit the streets and call in the cops, putting Misty and company on a wanted list for some trumped up charge or another. Misty tries to explain why that won't work but Rafe isn't willing to listen.
When the bad cops hit the street, they find the place surrounded by police cars. Ben Urich is also present. Rafe still has his gun pointed at Misty's head.
Lt. Scarfe still thinks this is a workable situation. The police are on his side, after all. He'll just tell them that Misty and her friends started this. They'll believe it because HE said it.
To that, Ben Urich plays a tape of Lieutenant Scarfe admitting to the entire thing. It was recorded inside the former embassy building. The whole place was wired up and down just for that purpose. Just so everyone hears, Urich plays it over a loud speaker.
Lieutenant Scarfe has pretty much run out of options but he still has Misty as a hostage and if that's all he has to work with you know he won't be letting her go. Paladin's still up top with a killshot on Scarfe but Knight tells him to stand down. No more killing tonight.
Using her bionic arm, Misty blasts herself and Rafe into the air. Before they land, Shroud and Sable disarm the other killer cops. Misty Knight and Lt. Rafael Scarfe drop onto the hood of a police car. By this point, it's already over. Misty gets rid of some excess aggression by punching the hood with her bionic arm, tearing off some synthetic skin.
Rafe is arrested. Knight muses about the possibility of Scarfe becoming the victim of his own tactics. She walks off, upset that her former partner somehow fell on the wrong side of the law.
And that's that, people. For more on Misty Knight, Paladin, and a cast of guest stars that will entertain the hell out of you, check out Heroes for Hire by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. It's a good time and well worth the price of admission.
Shadowland: Power Man #4
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Mahmud Asrar & Ray-Anthony Height
In this story:
• The new Power Man leaps over Iron Fist and attacks Cottonmouth. Deadly Nightshade tells Victor what his future will be and then leaves.
• She starts a fire on the way out so Danny and Victor have to rescue some crooked cops from certain peril.
• Power Man finds out that his cousin is trapped by the Hand. When Iron Fist tells him about the heroes special Shadowland plans and how Victor could help out and rescue his cousin, Alvarez tells Danny that he doesn't think Daredevil's done anything wrong. The new hero decides to perform a rescue on his own.
• Those Hand summon some super-powered Retainer of the Beast of the Hand.
• Power Man breaks into Shadowland, has a talk with "Those that are always with him," and then makes his way right into his trap.
• The Retainor attacks!
• Power Man channels the chi of the city to defeat the Retainor.
• After Shadowland #5 is done, Iron Fist comes down to the dungeon to catch Sofia and plan with Victor.
• They create a front where it looks like Victor is working for the Rand Foundation. This fools Power Man's mother.
• Training begins!
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Victor Alvares is the brand new Power Man. We went through how his power kind of worked last issue but we've still got a bit of origin to work through. Before we get there, Victor's got to answer what appears to be a very simple question: what side is he on?
Last issue, Deadly Nightshade made Power Man an offer. If he worked for her as a Rival, she's pay all his bills and give him help learning to use his new abilities. It's a pretty sweet gig if you have an evil streak. Iron Fist's counter offer is that HE'LL train him up and focus on the spiritual nature of Victor's powers. So those are the offers on the table. How does he choose? Well, DNS told him all he has to do to pick the side of evil is to kill Iron Fist. We ended last issue with Power Man leaping into the air at Danny Rand... but also maybe towards Cottonmouth, who was standing BEHIND the Avenger.
So, yeah, Power Man attacks Cottonmouth and breaks the pimp's new choppers. He's made his decision and a lot of it has to do with his dad having quit the Rivals and going legit. Deadly Nightshade doesn't try to fight too hard to get Victor to change his mind. In fact, she fully expects him to do that on his own once the world has chewed him up a bit. I'm guessing this is a little "like father, like son" kind of thing. She blasts some lightning around the room to get Victor to let her go and then takes off.
That lightning is uncontrollable stuff and some of it sparks the room ablaze. Power Man races off to pursue DNS. He's stopped by Iron Fist who is doing his best to rescue a bunch of unconscious bad guys. Last issue, PM ran up against a crew of crooked cops. They're down for the count after an off panel fight with Iron Fist and that means they'd be pretty flammable if they remained in the burning building. Danny asks for Victor's help but the new Power Man doesn't agree to help until Iron Fist tells him this is soul destroying stuff the new hero is messing with.
So... Cottonmouth and a group of bad cops are dragged from a building that just exploded. One of the policemen wakes up and mistakes the explosion for Ghost Rider attacking him. This is McManus. He was one of the policemen trapped in Shadowland's dungeon until GR came around to rescue them all at Kingpin's order. McManus still thinks he's being trailed by the Spirit of Vengeance and spills the short version of his tale to Power Man. This isn't too interesting to Victor at the moment but it's about to become a lot more relevant.
The two heroes are right in the middle of Hell's Kitchen which is not a great place to be right now. The neighborhood has exploded in violence as the Beast of the Hand's influence expands. It's a full on riot that confuses Victor. Iron Fist explains the situation, saying that there's negative chi wrapping around the place like a viper.
In the first issue of this mini-series, Power Man faced off against a trio of Hand ninjas but because of the way his power works, the Hand didn't dust when they were defeated. Apparently, the only thing worse than being defeated is to NOT instantly die so the Hand are trying to get revenge on Victor for this. To do that, they've kidnapped Alvarez's cousin, Sofia, and brought her into the empty Shadowland dungeons and hold her as bait for Power Man.
To get this message to our fledgling hero, the somehow take over three rioters and have them give up the info. It's vague and Power Man doesn't know exactly where he needs to go. Thinking he's helping out, Iron Fist tells Victor out the heroes' planned attack on Shadowland happening over in the main Shadowland book. They'll take down Daredevil AND rescue Vic's cousin.
That would be great except that Power Man doesn't think anything Daredevil has done is wrong. Shadowland sits on the site where his father was killed by Bullseye (in Dark Reign: The List- Daredevil #1). The fact that DD killed the man responsible is fine by Victor. All he wants is his cousin out alive and he doesn't need any one's help to do that... except for McManus.
Yep, if McManus escaped the Shadowland dungeons, he probably knows the way back in. Power Man drags the poor amoral policeman into the middle of the riots. Danny tries to follow but it seems like all of these rioters want a piece of him.
Deep inside Shadowland, the three Hand ninjas prepare a proper response to the young Power Man. They've already lost to him and they don't want to do that again. They explain that they weren't allowed to die because PM absorbed their chi during their fight. Then, using ancient Hand magic, the three sacrifice themselves to summon the Retainor of the Beast of the Hand.
If there's one building that anyone can break into, it's Shadowland. It's like that place has no locks. Even though it should be locked up tight, all of the heroes have gained access via underground passageway, Foggy Nelson (FOGGY NELSON) has climbed to an upper window to get inside, and now Power Man breaks through a locked door to gain access to the dungeon. It's like they've hired Stark Industries' 1960's security detail.
Anyway, Victor knocks out the crooked cop and makes his way down a spiral staircase. He's on Shadowland ground now and that means this is the place where his father died. It's a place where a good number of people were killed. Victor can see them all because he absorbed their chi when the condemned building came down. He tells his dad that he never thought his dad was perfect. He just wanted to be a part of Shades' life. Vic also sees the spirit of Javier De Paz, the boy that he got the School of Thunder skills from. He tells them all that he won't ever forget them because they're all part of him now.
A few twists and turns later and he finds the cage holding his cousin, Sofia. It's hanging from the ceiling. Knowing that her cousin just walked right into a trap, Sofia chews Vic out for not bringing some help. Before Sofia can be properly rescued, Power Man is attacked by the Retainor of the Beast.
Victor's got some skills (mostly acquired through his absorbing the chi of others but it's there). What he lacks is training. Hell, that might not even matter against the Retainor. I guess what he really lacks is enough power to win this fight. After getting swatted around the room for a while, Vic sees that not only is HE in severe pain, the chi spirits that he has taken inside him are also hurt. His father is close at hand and is trying to tell him something through hand signals.
Will Power Man get this message before it's too late? Well, yes. It's nearly the last moment, though. The Retainor has him pinned to the ground with one gigantic foot, preparing the final blow to end this fight. It even says something about how the "soul of New York" is going to be destroyed in much the same way.
It's a lightning flash moment. Power Man realizes that he can use more than just the chi from the spirits he's taken. He can CHANNEL the chi of the entire city. Power Man gathers it all up and now he's got the power to really lay into the Retainor. It's a one panel defeat but the punch is devastating.
Iron Fist catches up with Power Man after the main slug-down happens in Shadowland #5. Danny arrives just in time to catch Sofia, who leaps out of her cage and right into the arms of this super-hero. She's instantly enamored.
Power Man vaguely tells Iron Fist what happens, stressing that he knows he'll need some training up to handle the power he's been given. Danny puts the offer out there for School of Thunder training but Victor will only accept if Rand "takes care of his mom."
That doesn't mean financial support, by the way. No, this is more about covering for Vic's secret identity. To do that, Danny sets Victor up in the Rand Foundation as a community organizer. This tricks his mother and gives him time to train with the martial arts master.
Not that this is going to be easy for either of them. Vic's got a chip on his shoulder and thinks that he could take Iron Fist down pretty easily. Their training session quickly becomes a sparring match. No holds barred.
Did you like Power Man? The latest mini is on the stands right now. Power Man & Iron Fist just concluded its five issue run so go out and find it to grab more PM & IF adventures.
The Invincible Iron Man #32
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
In this story:
• It's the Iron Legion versus billions of Wingmen! Iron Man and War Machine take the fight to the Wingmen while Rescue gets all those pasty civilians to safety.
• Detroit Steel arrives and attacks Iron Man.
• Maria Hill calls and clues Tony in on how a cell phone application is controlling the Wingmen. Pimacher already knows this but it's good to have some confirmation.
• The Resilient team has found out that the Wingmen are homing in on Repulsor Batteries. That means the Iron Men and the Resilient Car are in danger.
• War Machine turns off his battery and is no longer a target.
• Pepper turns off her battery which means she has fifteen minutes before she has a heart attack.
• That leaves Tony and the car. Stark tells Team Resilient that they have fourteen minutes to block cell phone transmission into the area.
• Then, he scoots on over to the car and drives it off.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
We're reaching the big old grand finale of Stark Resilient! One issue to go! This issue, the actual battle finally heats up as Detroit Steel's Wingmen attack the Stark Resilient Raceway en masse. There's destruction all over the place and a lot of civilians in imminent danger. All this just because the Hammer Girls don't want Tony to show off his Repulsor Powered Car.
Stark has already switched to the Iron Man suit and is blasting away at the hundreds of Wingmen raining down on his parade. Pepper and Jim are getting suited up to help out their boss. There are people to get out of harm's way but there's also that Repulsor Car that is the only hope for Stark Resilient to get off the ground as a viable company. Since Tony has already been attacked by the Hammer Girls a couple times since forming his new company, it's a safe bet that this is them coming at him with their big guns blazing.
Rhodey hits the Raceway first with Potts following. Iron Man's plan is simple. He and War Machine will start shooting the Wingmen out of the skies while Rescue gets the crowd of spectators out of the stands and a safe distance from the explosions. The three get to work. Tony adds the well-being of the Repulsor Car onto his list of responsiblities.
Detroit Steel isn't all down with that. Lt. Johnson arrives on the scene in his own crazy armored suit and comes straight at Tony Stark. The dude is seriously angry at Iron Man for some reason. Maybe it's just his game face.
There's a lot of trash talk coming out of Johnson and a bit being returned to him. If you're looking for who'd win in a battle between Iron Man and Detroit Steel, that question isn't solved this issue. Tony mentions that it's not a one-on-one fight since those Wingmen are pretty much everywhere. Regardless, Stark's head really isn't in this battle. He's more concerned about the safety of his car and even takes a phone call during the fight.
Up in the skies, War Machine is shooting the Wingmen down with ease. These flying guns aren't being run by combat veterans. They're being manned by video game players, most of whom probably aren't taking this seriously. I've already run down the various reasons why piloting your war planes with unwitting video game players is a stupid idea in previous Super Reads articles and a lot of that comes up on the pages here. It IS a bad idea. In fact, the only thing the Wingmen have going for them is sheer numbers. There are more of them in the sky than Rhodey has bullets. That means there are a LOT of them in the sky.
Interspersed between combat scenes are the poor kids being drawn into this "game" as pilots for the Wingmen. They don't know what's actually going on. They're just happy to play a free game on their cell phones. Once in a while, we'll get a scene where a Wingman is killed from a side attack and the kid piloting the thing calls it a cheap kill. None of these players is team killing but I bet somewhere in the background is a twelve year old shooting his own dudes.
Rescue has gotten all those innocent people out of the Stark Resilient Raceway and joins the fight against the Wingmen. The press isn't so easy to lead out of the stands, though. In fact, this war zone is going to get much higher ratings than the car of the future. Every network is getting live coverage of this attack.
Which makes you wonder: what the hell is Justine Hammer thinking? Some camera is centered right on Detroit Steel attacking Iron Man. You know that's in a few shots. Detroit Steel is the public face behind their asymmetrical national defense program. Add to that the Wingmen are his back-ups in that fight. Nations are buying these products from Hammer Industries and here they are on television attacking Tony Stark and his Repulsor Car. It seems like a stupid play all around with terrible consequences to play out in the future.
For now, best guesses just call this a terrorist attack by oil interests.
The Resilient Team know better. This is Hammer and no one is thinking otherwise.
One person who is tired of being out of the loop is Maria Hill. She's the Avengers Coordinator and is tired of watching Tony Stark go out doing his own thing without at least checking in once in a while. Hill knows all about the attack from the television but would like a little bit more inside information. She calls up Tony and chews him out for all this unauthorized activity. Stark tells her that the attack is happening on his property, that all innocents (besides the press and the debate is still going as to whether they're innocent or not) are out of danger, and there are three Iron Men on the scene working the problem. He's got it covered. Maria isn't going to get much more out of him but she does let him know that there are a hell of a lot of cell phone signals in the area. That's something Tony didn't know even though Pimacher should have given him a heads up on it by now.
During the phone call, Iron Man's battle with Detroit Steel seems to be going south. Johnson is using his chainsaw attachment to cut right into Tony's armor. Once Stark starts paying attention again, the battle starts going his way and the chainsaw damage is quickly repaired. You've gotta love the new Iron Man suit for it's ability to repair damage almost instantly.
Iron Man taunts Detroit Steel for picking a fight with someone who has the experience and means to fight back. Steel's been taking out terrorists with old Stark tech but no one is quite like Iron Man. In mid-trash talk, Iron Man turns his head to see a group of Wingmen approaching from behind him. You can't sneak up on Iron Man anymore because he has eyes everywhere and probably didn't even need to turn his head except to give us the visual that he knew what was coming his way. Stark boot jets out just as the Wingmen slam right into Detroit Steel.
While Team: Iron Man continue to take down the Wingmen, the unpaid help at Stark Resilient are finally piecing together what's going on. Cell phone gamers controlling the Wingmen. They've also picked up the fact that the Wingmen are tracking the three Iron Men by their Repulsor Batteries. They can home in on them. That means the poor car is in danger as well as Tony, Pepper, and Rhodey. Resilient are working on the cell phone thing and should be able to jam transmissions into the area given time.
The Battle isn't going that well for good old War Machine. Jim Rhodes doesn't use Repulsors in combat, opting for a more old school approach. This basically means he uses a gattling gun. When it runs out of bullets... well, that's the ball game. I can't say if it's out of ammunition but War Machine is losing the battle against the Wingmen. He's being tossed around the sky before finally hitting the ground. Hard.
Tony begs Jim to turn off his Repulsor Battery but Rhodey is concerned that without the battery charging his armor he'll be a sitting duck. Still, he trusts his boss. The battery powers down and the Wingmen lose interest in the War Machine. Now it's down to Rescue, a Repulsor powered car, and Iron Man.
Pepper asks her onboard AI, JARVIS, how long she'll last without Repulsor power. The answer is fifteen minutes before she'll have a heart attack. Even though it'll take the Resilient team twenty to twenty-five minutes to block cell signals to the area, Pepper powers down, trusting the team to save her life.
For their part, they start working that much faster.
We're down to two Repulsor signals. Iron Man breaks out of Detroit Steel's grip and swoops in on the Repulsor Car. It's time to drive that thing as fast as he can. The clock is counting down.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
In this story:
• Pepper Potts has shut down her Repulsor Battery and her life is in danger. Of the fifteen minutes it'll take for her body to go into cardiac arrest, Pepper's down to four minutes, sixteen seconds.
• It's dream time! Pepper wakes up in a field of flowers with her dead husband, Happy Hogan.
• Happy keeps trying to convince her that she's dead but Potts isn't buying it.
• Eventually, Hogan reveals that he's actually JARVIS.
• Rescue's onboard AI was trying to convince Pepper to stop being a super-hero because mixing with Tony in those matters is a way to end up dead.
• JARVIS shows her those metal walker things that have been so popular around the Marvel Universe lately. It asks her to question Tony on them when she wakes up.
• Pepper returns to that field of flowers with her husband. She's still got four minutes, sixteen seconds left but time is slipping away.
A funny thing happens when you're minutes away from a heart attack.
If you've read the first part of the story in this very issue, you know that Pepper Potts shut down her Repulsor Battery so that the Wingmen couldn't track her. Because she needs the battery to live, she only has fifteen minutes until she goes into cardiac arrest. Make that four minutes and sixteen seconds. We've lost some time inbetween stories.
Her armor has come to rest near Jim Rhodes, and the guy in the War Machine suit is giving words of encouragement to Pepper. Rhodey isn't in danger of dying with his suit shut down. He doesn't have a Repulsor Battery planted in his chest. He just puts on a suit and does the hero thing.
Pepper tries to answer Jim but suddenly finds herself in a field of flowery flowers on a bright summer day. She thinks she's dreaming. Her dead husband joins her in the field to tell her that's not the case.
Happy Hogan tells his wife that she's dying and this is part of the transition to wherever dead people go. Potts doesn't believe him from the get-go. She's certain that Tony will pull off a win and she'll be fine. Hap keeps on trying to convince her but also moves the conversation on to her and Tony. All the while, Pepper keeps shifting to different scenes from her life. It's not exactly a greatest hits but it IS a bunch of stuff that's happened to her.
During the Dark Reign, Pepper and Tony slept together. Since Stark lost all of his memories between getting the Extremis armor and reloading his brain, he doesn't remember this but she does. When she thinks about it, she finds that while she loves Tony Stark, she's not "in love" with him. That's going to come out some time soon and it'll probably hurt Tony a whole lot.
Happy tells her that it's a good thing she's dying then because it'll avoid a whole lot of uncomfortable situations.
Finally, on Happy's deathbed, Pepper tells him that she doesn't believe she's actually dying at all. In all of her revisited memories, the time is four sixteen. That's not normal for dreams. She also thinks Happy is kind of being a dick which would be wierd if he were her guide to the afterlife. Happy tries one more play, saying that he's just trying to keep her safe from a life of a super-hero and that she might not be dying but her life is still in danger if she keeps dressing up as Rescue.
Potts tells him to stop looking like her dead husband and Happy is revealed to be none other than JARVIS, Rescue's onboard AI! Wierd!
JARVIS has been using this life and death situation to trick Pepper into giving up the super-hero game because there are big things on their way. Being an Iron Man will be a dangerous thing in the very near future. While telling her this, JARV also changes the scene to a desert with those mechanical walker things hanging out in the background.
Pepper asks what those things are. JARVIS tells her to ask Tony when she wakes up. If she remembers. Potts says that she will and then the scene shifts back to the flower field. Pepper lays back on the field as Happy holds her close.
In the real world, very little time has past. Since the clocks didn't move off of 4:16 in her vision, it seems like this all happened in that one moment. Rhodey keeps on shouting words of encouragement at his unconscious friend.
New Mutants #19
Writer: Chad Anderson
In this story:
• Karma reaches out to Face after all of the New Mutants are taken prisoner by the Limbo Kids.
• Sam is forced to watch as some Limbo Kids torture Moonstar.
• Sunspot gets a blue visitor to his body.
• General Ulysses uses the Soulsword to slice off a piece of Pixie's soul.
• The New Mutants start to pull themselves together even though they're still nicely captured.
• Gen. Ulysses orders his team back to Limbo and they take the New Mutants with them.
• Face finally realizes what's happened to him and attacks his fellows. The gives Karma and Magik time to free themselves.
• Illyana admits that she doesn't care what happens to the rest of the New Mutants. She just needed to rescue Xi'an.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The thing about the New Mutants team is that they were meant to die in the battle against General Ulysses and the kids from Limbo. They DID die. Illyana Rasputin came back in time to prevent that. So far, that doesn't look to going her way. The New Mutants are all prisoners of General Ulysses and there's some light torture going on for all of them. The Limbo Kids are NOT nice people.
There are exceptions. For example, there's the one called "Face." The activation of his mutant power blew off the front of his skull and destroyed his eardrums. The entire front of his head is a fireable weapon. This makes him a deadly member of the Limbo Kids team, yes, but the secret is he doesn't actually know what he's doing. He can't see or hear the world. His handler, Trista, beats the crap out of him to make him do anything.
But that doesn't mean he's actually aware of what he's doing. In fact, inside his mind, he still thinks he has the face and wonders why he can't see or hear anything. It's in this mindscape that Xi'an Coy Mahn, Karma, finds the mutant known as Face. She has some trouble communicating with him because it's been SO long since he's heard or spoken a word.
Just as she's starting to get through to him, Trista realizes that she's conscious and has Shauna (another one of the Limbo Kids) knock her out once more. Face still seems to be drawn to the New Mutant but Trista beats him back into submission. Cypher, who's under Trista's verbal command, doesn't seem too bothered with how she's treating Face but that might just be the psychic influence.
The rest of the New Mutants find themselves in worse forms of torture. For example, Sam Guthrie is knee deep in explosives so that any activation of his power will kill everyone. That's not the torture, though. Through a barred window, Sam gets to watch as some Limbo Kids beat the hell out of Danielle Moonstar. This would probably bother Cannonball no matter who they were pummelling but these two recently shared a kiss so Sam is extra pissed and keeps shouting through the bars for the torture to stop. Near him, the Limbo Kid that drinks up emotions is REALLY enjoying the feast Cannonball is giving her.
Sunspot and Magma are in another section of the compound. Magma is still unconscious but Roberto is starting to wake up. Attending him is the Limbo Kid named Bob. Bob is a blue guy who has no intention of torturing these two. His interests are more exploratory in nature. Bob cuts off the tip of his thumb. In moments, this bit of flesh morphs into a smaller version of the Limbo Kid. It can even speak. Dropping it on 'Berto's upper lip, he sends his tiny self on a journey into the mutant.
Who's left? Illyana Rasputin, the ruler of Limbo, and the X-Man, Pixie. These two do NOT like each other... or more to the point, Megan (that's Pixie) doesn't like Illyana. This has to do with the Pixie having to lose a bit of her soul to the demonic mutant. The benefit to Megan was her very own Souldagger and a spell that allows her to teleport. None of those are doing her any good right now.
In fact, it's the Souldagger that puts her in danger.
General Ulysses starts monologuing his master plan to Illyana but I'll need to do the full explanation for you kids playing along at home. When Ulysses and his men were still pretty new to Limbo, they came across an item called the Bloodstone Amulet. This device actually endangered their entire Limbo operation as it caused a demonic invasion of their fort which led to the portal home being shut down from the earth side. Still, Ulysses and his men kept control of the Amulet and started on their path home. It took twenty years and they're all different people than when they left.
The General's soldiers and the Limbo Kids are formidable. Incredibly so. Still, they could never scare off the demons that hounded them every step of the way home. The only thing that terrified the monsters of Limbo was the thought that Ulysses would activate the Bloodstone. So that's what this is about. Turning the Amulet on and putting some fear into the heart of some demons that just wouldn't leave these people alone. To activate the Bloodstone Amulet, they need a piece of soul in gem form. This is where Pixie's Souldagger comes into play.
Illyana doesn't really need to be here for this but they don't know where else to put her. To keep Magik occupied, Doctor Noc has put an Anchor Slug on her to keep her mutant teleporting abilities in check. All they needed was her Soulsword... and maybe the General needed someone to tell his story to.
Ulysses picks up the Soulsword and runs Pixie through. This frees up a Soulgem on Megan's Souldagger and that's the mission folks.
The Limbo Kid known as Scab takes the unconscious Magik back to join Sunspot and Magma. Amara (Magma) is still out cold but 'Berto sees that she's still sucking in air so at least the fiery mutant isn't dead just yet. Sunspot knows that this has all happened before and that Magma didn't survive the last time. Illyana seems to think her fate won't be much different. Still, Roberto needs to know the details on how she died even after Magik tells him that she doesn't love him. Rasputin tells him to "listen carefully" and we switch scenes.
Moonstar is still getting the pain driven straight home and Cannonball is still shouting at the torturers. Danielle tells Sam to STFU because he's giving these people just what they want. They WANT to see his anguish even more than they want to see Danielle scream in pain. She tells Sam that he was a great kiss right before going right back to shouting in agony.
To his credit, Sam shuts up. Instead of getting bent out of shape at Danielle's current situation, he focuses on the fact that she liked kissing him. This royally ticks off the girl drinking in his emotions because she gets NOTHING from good vibrations. The Limbo Kid smashes him against a wall.
General Ulysses has the Soulgem he was looking for but there's still more work to be done. That Bloodstone Amulet needs to be activated and that means returning to Limbo to do the dirty work. Already, the United States Military is converging on their location to retake the military base. Doctor Noc asks if they should send the Limbo Kids to take out the next wave to attack them but Ulysses doesn't see the point in that. They need to return to Limbo now.
The soldier pile into the return vehicles. They're bringing the New Mutants along and it's not for no reason. As Dr. Noc explains it, they'll need the Muties as sacrifices "to the Elders." The Limbo Kids load them up. They even make Cypher help by carrying the VERY injured Moonstar into a cargo vehicle. Danielle asks why Cypher is helping the bad guys and Doug explains that he's being controlled by Trista's voice. It's not the first time he's sided to with the opposition and he says so.
Remember when that Bob guy dropped a little version of himself into Roberto's nose for an exploratory journey? So do I! Bob never got the little bit of himself back. When they're packing up Magma, it's revealed that Shauna is making sure Amara stays sedated and Bob thinks about sending one of his tiny selves into her. That's when Sunspot spits out the tiny Bob that was travelling through his insides. The little Bob is all chewed up and dead. This upsets the blue mutant something fierce. The rest of the Limbo Kids make fun of him for being so emotionally attached to himself.
Karma has gained enough consciousness to try psychically talking to Face again. This might have something to do with General Ulysses' soldiers attempting to remove her robotic leg. Inside face's head, Karma tells her to look at the world through her eyes. He does and gets a good look at what he now looks like. It gets him crying and freaking out.
In one move, Face blasts right through three of the Limbo Soldiers and one Limbo Kid (I believe it's the one that can create jets anywhere on his body). This definitely stops them from tearing off Xi'an's leg. It also leaves Magik unattended. Illyana tears that slug from her chest. Mutant powers back, baby. Pixie is also left behind as the rest of the Limbo army returns to that twisted dimension.
Xi'an gives Face a comforting hug, both in the real world and inside his mind.
Illyana cares little for any of this. She tells Karma that they will all return to Utopia when Megan wakes up. She even has more plans for Xi'an. Karma would rather get right on the New Mutants' trail but Magik doesn't care about them any more. She tells Xi'an that she didn't come back in time to save them.
She came back to save Karma. Only Karma.
Tales of Suspense #75
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencilers: Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
In this story:
• Captain America falls into the sea after destroying the Sleepers.
• In a secret chamber, some disreputable businessmen test out their sample of Inferno-42 and watch a scale model of New York burn. They've already lost the big batch of the compound but have hired Batroc to retrieve it.
• Cap is picked up by a passing freighter and brought back to New York City.
• In his room in Avengers Mansion, Steve Rogers does what he always manages to do, dream of his glory days in WWII.
• To escape his past, Rogers puts on some street clothes and hits the town.
• While walking the streets of NYC, Steve notices a hot girl who he seems to remember... from his past! Naturally, he follows her.
• The lady drops her cylindrical package which is picked up and switched with another cylinder by a passerby. Cap tries to shout thief but the lady tells him to drop it.
• The afformentioned passerby is attacked by Batroc the Leaper! He's here for that cylinder but it's already been passed off to the girl! SHIELD Agents in action!
• Steve and the lady have awkward conversation before Batroc shows up. Rogers slips into an alley... Spider-Man! Wait... I mean Captain America. Yeah...
• Batroc and Cap fight but the cylinder carried by Sharon Carter (that's the lady) has already been activated, unbeknownst to her. As the two fighters decide to team up, Carter slips into a SHIELD safehouse.
March 1966! I'll admit that I haven't introduced many SHIELD Agents in these pages of Super Reads. That's because most of them appear in the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD stories from Strange Tales and those are damn hard to get your hands on because Marvel doesn't want my money and hasn't released them in Essential form... or even a recent trade paperback. Agent 13, however, first appeared in the pages of Tales of Suspense so I have that one covered.
Sharon Carter was a super spy, following in the tradition of her much older sister who saw action beside Captain America in World War II. When Marvel time expanded to the point where it was ridiculous to image Sharon having an older sibling in WWII, that sister became an aunt. It won't be long before she becomes a great aunt. In fact, I'd bet that's how it would go down now but it isn't referenced very much. Unlike many other heroes introduced during the sixties, Agent 13 started her Marvel life on the right side of the law. In fact, she WAS the law: and Agent in good standing with SHIELD. Of course, it being the sixties and she being a woman, it was a while before they showed WHY she was an Agent of SHIELD. More often than not, she played the damsel in distress role to Captain America's knight in shining armor.
And that's how this story will play out. Watch the magic!
Before we get to her, we have to end Cap's last adventure. A typical writing device at the time was the perpetual cliffhanger. One issue lead right into the next and there was a grab at the end that made you really want to check the next comic to see how things played out. Captain America has just finished a titanic battle with the Red Skull's Sleepers. The problem was that there wasn't really a cliffhanger to end that issue. Steve Rogers was simply left parachuting into the ocean with a ship close enough so that we all knew he wouldn't drown.
That didn't stop this tale from beginning with unexpected danger! Cap's parachute is gone and our hero is sent in a freefall to the ocean below! Maybe his chute was burned up with the destruction of the Sleepers. Maybe Stan and Jack just wanted some excitement to start off the story. It could go either way. At least the ship visible at the end of last issue is still floating around.
With Captain America plummeting into the ocean, the only thing we can do is switch scenes to New York City where in an underground facility, unscrupulous men in heavy shadows bear witness to a deadly demonstration. Inside a glass case is a scale model of NYC... you know... if New York was completely rectangular in composition. Anyway, let's pretend it's New York City. From above, a microscopic sample of the compound, Inferno 42 is dropped by tiny parachute into the model city. As it gets closer to its target, the compound begins to glow which is the first sign that it's working. The next sign is the glass case being envoloped in flames. Crazy flames.
Now, imagine that a larger sample were used on the actual, non-rectangular New York City. Calamity! That's what would probably happen next except SHIELD has already confiscated their entire supply of Inferno 42. This would be game over before our adventure has even begun, except they have a plan to get that Inferno 42 back through a special agent. BATROC!
Back on the open seas, Captain America hits the water like an olympic diver. He was still too far up when he started his descent, however, so the sentinel of libery is knocked out from the impact. Luckily, that ship is close enough to notice the red, white, and blue Avenger hitting the water and they send out a boat to rescue him. We don't spend too much time on the ship. The crew hears Captain America's story and then gets him back to the mainland in about an hour's time.
With his adventure over, Steve Rogers is left inside his own head which is a terrible place to be. This isn't the supremely confident Commander Steve Rogers of today. This is the mopey out-of-time, "I've lost everyone I held dear" Steve Rogers from about twenty minutes after being unfrozen by the Avengers. Let's just say he has some issues and more than enough survivor's guilt. He thinks back on how he lost Bucky Barnes and then wonders if Sergeant Duffy ever figured out he was Captain America. Finally, his thoughts turn to romance and he remember his last great love of the war. While she isn't mentioned by name, he's thinking of Peggy Carter.
All of this melancholy isn't good for a body so Steve puts on some civilian gear, hiding his Cap suit underneath, and hits the city streets for a walk around. This doesn't clear his head of the past at all. He sees a girl on his walk that reminds him of Peggy Carter. The resemblance is so uncanny that Rogers ends up following the lady around the city just to keep his eyes on her. We all know that this is Sharon Carter, Agent 13, so I'm going to start calling her that now. Steve doesn't learn who she is for quite a while and I'd have to get pretty creative to keep on calling her "the girl" or "that lady Cap's obsessed with" so that you'd all know who I was talking about.
Sharon "accidentally" runs into another pedestrian and drops the cylindrical container she's been clutching so tightly. The man swoops down and grabs it but instead of handing it back to Agent 13, he does the old switcheroo and hands her the cylinder that HE'S holding. Most people wouldn't have even noticed the switch but most people aren't staring obsessively at Sharon Carter. Steve Rogers sees what just happened and shouts at the retreating man to stop. Sharon begs Rogers to stop shouting, claiming that she got the right container and it's best to drop the whole incident from his mind right away.
The man responsible for switching packages with Agent 13 goes on his merry way for a block or so until he runs afoul of Batroc the Leaper. This is Batroc's first appearance, too. Amazing as it seems, the Frenchman isn't a complete joke at this point. In fact, Batroc is known to be pretty damn competent. He introduces himself to the man holding the other cylinder via his amazing feet. Those in the know should
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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