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Super Reads 152

Wait.  Who?So many comics, this will make your eyes bleed.  BLEED.

Today, we check out Fear Itself: The Home Front #4, Fear Itself: FF #1, Fear Itself: Deadpool #2, Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #2, Avengers #15, Avengers Academy #16, Invincible Iron Man #506, Iron Man 2.0 #7, Uncanny X-Men #541, Hulk #37, Herc #5, and Blast to the Past for Fantastic Four #99.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!
Super Reads 152
Hunker down, heroes.  It's going to be a long article.

Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond?  Check no further than this link right HERE.

And now, let us begin.

Fear Itself: The Home Front #4Fear Itself: The Home Front #4
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike Mayhew

In this story:

• Nerkkod attacks St. John's, Newfoundland.  It's in Canada.

• Speedball shows up and forces the Worthy out into the ocean.

• Robbie hands out those special Subspace communication devices.  Everyone starts spreading hope on the internet.  For about five seconds.

• Then, Nerkkod returns.  The fight doesn't go well for Speedball during round two.

• The Breaker of Oceans buries the city under a wave of water.

• That spreads even more fear.  Speedball's fate is up in the air.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

So, some continuity housekeeping first.  Nerkkod, Breaker of Oceans and snappy dresser, was last seen in Alpha Flight #1.  In that comic, Guardian teleported the Worthy across the continent to Cape Race, Newfoundland.  That was great for the city of Vancouver but not so hot for St. John's.  The city gets hit and with Alpha Flight having their own troubles in their series, that leaves no one capable of stopping the powerful Worthy.

Unless you count Speedball.  Do we count him?

Fresh from a battle with Kuurth in Salem, Missouri, Bobbie Baldwin already knows what it's like to fight an unstoppable weapon of mass destruction.  While he as able to mostly save the town, the former Juggernaut still turned around and sent an earthquake smashing through the place before picking up the pace again.  How will St. John's fare with the former New Warrior's help?

Well, it starts off better than you'd ever expect.  The Worthy formerly known as Attuma hurls his hammer at Speedball.  Baldwin uses his mastery of kinetic energy to stop the hammer and then redirect it with even more speed back to its source.  With a little luck, in strikes Nerkkod and sends the Worthy a good mile or two back into the ocean.  With that move, Speedball is out of gas.

Which makes sense for the day he's been having.  Last issue, Kuurth made his ears bleed.

The police and civilians come out to congratulate the hero even though Baldwin tells them that he doesn't know how long it'll take the Worthy to return.  Still, it's a victory and the world needs to know about it.  Why?  Because the world could use a win.  It's been having a really bad day.

Baldwin passes out a bunch of those communication devices that Jocasta made so that everyone in the area can access the internet and check their facebook accounts.  Oh!  They also need to spread the word that the Worthy CAN be stopped.

Except they can't.  At least, they don't stop for long.  Nerkkod is back in MOMENTS.  This is horrible news.  Speedball doesn't have anything left to even pretend that he's a match for the Worthy.  Still, like a hero, he's right back in action.

And losing.  The Breaker of Oceans swats him around with his hammer and then tosses him through a brick wall.  None of this does permanent damage because Bobbie is pretty near invulnerable to kinetic damage.  At the same time, Baldwin is weak and the pounding he's receiving can't be good for a body.

Worst of all of this is that it's going out live to the world through the magic of Jocasta's communication devices.  One lonely messages the world, letting them know how badly things are going.  To cap it all off, Nerkkod sends a wall of water to crush the city.

Also: the impending doom.  Eh?

Speedball recovers with just enough time to attempt a rescue of that lone messenger who is busy saying his good-byes on his phone.  We won't learn if either survive until next issue.

Until then, we watch as St. John's, Newfoundland is obliterated by a gigantic wave.  It is devastating and the crackling lightning probably isn't helping.  With the city taught a lesson, Nerkkod leaves to spread more fear.

So that didn't work out well for anyone but the Worthy.  St. Johns is flooded and broken and it was sent out live to the world.  That means that people everywhere add that to the many things that terrify them and feed the Serpent even more.  We get scenes of some of those people, including Miriam Sharpe and a dude loading up his gun.

In the final panel, we see Jocasta at the Infinite Mansion, trying to get Speedball on the line.  So far, no luck.

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Elia Bonetti

In this story:

• After the traditional Atlantean funeral, Jimmy shows up to tell the team that the Thule Castle is set to blow up.

• Everyone runs out of the castle.  Against all odds, they all live.

• M-11 tells Namora and Gorilla-Man that the data kept in the castle was mostly recorded by him.

• Jimmy Woo casually talks to his team, checks out what's happening in the world, and heads on over to his 1958 room so he doesn't have to deal with the crazy.

• M-11 shows the team that Jimmy had a chance to find out what the Red Skull was up to but instead deleted it, fearing that the intel would be too much for one man.

• Namora finds this super-heroic.

• Super is happy that this story has reached its completely illogical conclusion and keeps Peter Milligan on the list of writers he doesn't make it a point to follow.

No, seriously.  This was one messed up story from begining to end.  I've mentioned many an issue I've had with the Agents story so I won't rehash any old material here.  I'll just give you a whole lot more material for a proper send off.

Here's the story so far with as little editorializing as possible:  Jimmy Woo and the Agents of Atlas captured a particularly violent skinhead who for no reason at all told them about a German Thule Castle where the Red Skull worked some mojo back in World War II.  Obviously, Woo needed to know what the Skull was up to so he and his team headed straight for the Castle.  Once there, Jimmy split with his team and with the help of M-11, discovered the bodies of some very dead Atlanteans, whose skin was used to make the Book of the Skull and some discarded pages were stacked up in the same room.  M-11 began scanning and Jimmy tripped a booby trap.  The rest of the Agents showed up to fight the Nazi robot that was summoned by this booby trap.  Namora (who is sleeping with Jimmy) is shocked to see her dead kinsman and demands that Jimmy leave so that she can have a funeral for the Atlanteans.  This involves burning the undersea people's corpses which is totally a tradition.  Jimmy is pretty sure he's ruined everything but M-11 says he's already scanned most of the pages and just needs to translate them to figure out what Red Skull's half-century old plan was.

And we are off.

While the rest of the Agents of Atlas are burning Atlantean bodies in a sacred ceremony that defies logic, Jimmy Woo has a decision to make.  We'll get to that later.  Right now, Woo is interupting the ceremony at the tail end.  At first, he asks if Namora hates him.  She responds that she doesn't but that their little romantic escapade is over.  It was barely a thing to begin with.  Namora waxes poetic about it for a bit.

Oh, by the way, the whole Thule Castle is going to come down so maybe we should start escaping before we all die horribly.

Woo tells everyone that M-11 told him this twenty minutes ago but he wanted to respect the ancient traditions of Namora's people so he waited until WAY too late to tell them.  After getting justifiably chewed out for not putting any priority on telling them, the team races back into the tower to run a gauntlet to escape.

Couple things.  The first is that they're on top of a Thule tower and the team probably has enough flight-capable members to escape WITHOUT re-entering the castle.  Gorilla-Man could probably start climbing down.  I'm not certain if the Uranian CAN fly now but it used to be in his repertoire.  Regardless, point two: Bob can control his flying saucer remotely.  All he'd have to do is fly the thing over to the tower and no one has to fly OR run through a quickly collapsing castle.

But, you know, whatever.  We'll do it the stupid way.

While we see the other Agents in the background, the focus of this run is mostly on Namora and Woo.  Namora notices that Jimmy's attitude has changed from the wimpy guy who was afraid to tell everyone that the castle was going boom to that of an action hero.  This happened the last time they dropped into a combat situation but I'm going to blame it all on Fear Itself.  And the writer.

At one point in the mad run, Woo is knocked into a pit by a Nazi Robot.  He's ready to let everything go right up until the moment when Namora saves his life.  Because she can fly.  You might have forgotten that.  He fires off a few flirtatious lines before everyone continues their run to the exit.  For some reason, Venus is singing but I think the melody she's using is supposed to keep everyone motivated on running.

So the Agents escape the Thule Castle and don't die.  Jimmy thinks to himself how terrible this decade is and then remembers that the fifties weren't a cake walk, either.  Namora is just glad that they escaped and that all information about what the Red Skull was doing was lost.  M-11 tells her that it wasn't ALL lost.  He's got some files.

The Atlantean worries what Jimmy will do with this information.  Because knowing things is incredibly dangerous or something... especially when it's old plans from a villainous world conqueror type that might come back and bite everyone, like, right now.

The Uranian tells everyone that Fear Itself is in full effect.  While Jimmy had just decided to play everything cool from now on, this has just spoiled his mellow.  Screw it.  He's heading to his room dedicated to 1958.  Since the previous comics have said that going to this room would drive him mad, I guess he's chosen madness.  Or comfortable, familiar surroundings.  Either way.

Outside, the Thule Castle continues blowing up.  Inside, Gorilla-Man and Namora argue about Jimmy's sanity.  To find out just how crazy their leader has become, they need to learn what he knows.  After some convincing, M-11 replays a scene from the recent past.

FLASHBACK!  The rest of the Agents are still burning Atlanteans.  Jimmy Woo has just been informed that M-11 had the discarded Book of the Skull pages mostly scanned.  So... should he start translating them?  Suddenly, Jimmy Woo isn't so certain that's a good idea.  I mean, what if this knowledge isn't something that one man can handle?  What if there really is a spy within his organization?  It looks like the Fear has gotten the better of Jimmy.  He orders M-11 to delete all of the information.

This is just fine by Namora.

Atlantean heroism is apparently different from regular heroism.

There is so much wrong about this that I'm just going to let that panel say it for me.

In the 1958 room, Jimmy Woo has just finished an episode of "I Dig Daisy."  So he likes the comforts of a past that seems more familiar to him than the world outside?  I don't see anything wrong with that.

We finally end this REALLY bad Fear Itself tie-in story.  If you actually liked it when you read it, I'm sorry for all the snark.  Well, kind of sorry.  It really did deserve it, though.

Writer: Howard Chaykin
Artist: Howard Chaykin

In this story:

• We meet Kida, an Atlantean warrior whose family are longtime defenders of imperial power.

• Except now Nerkkod is in charge.

• So he debates whether his loyalty belongs to Namor or if it's just changed over to the former Attuma.

And that is pretty much it, really.  This is "Kida of Kida," so it's a family name that gets passed around a lot.  If you've read Fear Itself: The Deep #1, you'll know that New Atlantis was destroyed by Nerkkod, Breaker of Oceans.  Kida's one of the warriors still swimming when the conflict ends and it leaves him with a deep philosophical question.

He's loyal to the crown which usually means he follows Namor.  Except while he wasn't looking, that crown has just switched heads.  The former Attuma is now in charge.

So the question:  Is he still loyal to Namor or does he follow the super-powerful engine of destruction?  The one pager doesn't give us any real answers to the question.  I guess it just comes down to what kind of man Kida is.

Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Penciler: M. C. Wyman

In this story:

• Blue Marvel returns from a scientific exploration of the Neutral Zone to find his underwater home of Kadesh broken open and a Chinese submarine stuck in the ruins.

• Returning the sub to the surface, he learns that the world is freaking out because of some of the experiments he's working on.  They're blaming each other.

• Captain Degraffenreid, on board the the American Destroyer, DOES put the blame on Blue Marvel and calls him a coward to boot.

• Whatever, the super-hero has better things to do.

• One of his experiments is going to blow up and only he can stop it... unless he's distracted by the rampaging sea monster.

• After giving the beast a punch, the Blue Marvel teleports a the dangerous section of Kadesh into the Neutral Zone.  Everyone's saved.

• After it's all said and done, the Blue Marvel talks to Captain Degraffenreid.  It turns out one of Degraffenreid's ancestors served in the same platoon as Blue Marvel back in Korea.

Adam Brashear is the Blue Marvel, one of those retconned Superman-type characters that are so unwieldly in the Marvel Universe.  That means we get to figure out what this one is up to during the events of Fear Itself.

It turns out he was over in a side dimension that he dubbed the Neutral Zone, where positive and anti-matter live in harmony.  Blue Marvel has brought back some samples to see if he can replicate the conditions in his underwater headquarters of Kadesh.  When he gets back home, he's in for a surprise.

Kadesh is broken wide open and there's a Chinese submarine stuck in the wreckage.  This disrupts some sensitive experiments that Adam's been working on, endangering all life in the immediate area.  Actually, it's a ten mile area so not EXACTLY immediate.

Blue Marvel brings the sub back up to the surface to find that there are more problems where that came from.  He lands on the nearby America warship and gets the word from Captain Degraffenreid that China and the United States are squaring off because of whatever Blue Marvel was doing underwater.  It's an international incident.

As soon as I remember who I am, I'll let you know.

When Blue Marvel explains about his dangerous undersea experiments in international waters, Degraffenreid accuses him of being a coward and unable to handle this emergency on his own.  Adam doesn't try to argue.  There's ten miles of ocean to save.

Under the sea, the Blue Marvel finds himself facing more than an experiment gone wild.  It seems that his underwater headquarters was smashed open by a sea serpent.  If I'm correct, this is the one remaining sea dragon that was once guarding the Serpent's Pacific jail cell before Skadi broke him out.  Adam wastes a few panels fighting the sea creature before going back to get rid of his devastating anti-matter experiment.

In the end, Blue Marvel sends the entire segment of his base containing the experiment into the Neutral Zone.  Once there, it detonates but doesn't hurt anyone since it's in an uninhabited part of the Zone.

The world backs down from another World War.  Now, they just have to deal with Fear Itself.

Blue Marvel talks to Captain Degraffenreid after hostilities have died down.  The Captain apologizes for being a @$hole earlier.  Adam, recognizing the name, asks if Degraffenreid is related to Sgt. Jake Degraffenreid.  It turns out that Jake is the Captain's grandfather.

Adam tells the Captain that he was in the same Korean War platoon as Jake Degraffenreid.  This leads into a story about how Brashear was captured by enemy combatants after getting the rest of his platoon to safety.  Adam spent time in a P.O.W. camp for that.  "Coward" indeed.

Blue Marvel flies off, telling the Captain that he's not too bothered by public opinion.  It's the work that matters.  There's also something to be said about not giving in to one's own Fears.


Fear Itself: FF #1Fear Itself: FF #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciler: Tom Grummett

In this story:

• Angrir, Breaker of Souls, smashes his way through New York City as Fear grips the world!

• Reed and Sue Richards stop saving lives and decide it's time to stop Ben Grimm.  And save him.

• Instead, they get mopped around the New York streets for a couple pages.  Sue almost chokes Angrir into submission but loses concentration when Reed is threatened.

• Alicia Masters learns that Ben is destroying things and races off to save the day.

• Dragon Man attacks Angrir and is nearly torn apart before Alicia arrives.

• Alicia doesn't reach Ben Grimm.  She almost gets killed, though.

• Sue arrives and begs to save Alicia's life.  The former Ben Grimm lets her, believing it'll spread even more fear.

• Sue performs some CPR on Alicia.  Ms. Masters tells the Invisible Woman that she sensed great Fear in the Thing.

One-Shot!  Future Foundation!  What could be better?

Well, Jonathan Hickman could have been involved.  Instead, we get Cullen Bunn.  Tom Grummett is serviceable, though.  Let's just see how this works.

The quick and dirty details:  In Fear Itself #3, Ben Grimm picked up his hammer and became Angrir, Breaker of Souls, immediately decimating Yancy Street in the process.  This issue picks up just a bit after his debut and probably before he shows up in Fear Itself: Spider-Man.  In fact, you can kind of see how this could lead right into Spider-Man.  Vaguely.  Maybe you need to squint.

Either way, the news has gotten a hold of the news that the Thing is now rocking the powers of evil and they amp it up in intensity.  Maybe this is just the natural progression of the Thing's mutating form.  Maybe this is a virus.  Maybe this should scare you even more than one of the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe becoming the vessel to an ancient evil.  That sort of thing.

We also see that in this issue only, Thing's parasitic companions talk to him, whispering doubt and fear into his ears.  You won't get that in any of his other appearances but it seems like they're talking JUST to him.  Possibly right into his head instead of out loud.  No one else seems to hear them.

While Angrir smashes stuff and almost brings the news 'copter that's following him down out of the sky, Reed and Sue Richards are saving lives in his wake.  I don't think any of us thought they would be killed off when the former Thing smashed up Yancy Street but if you were worried, here you go.  When they finally get a chance to think, Reed decides that it's time to go after their friend and stop him.  Sue takes it a step further.  She can't lose another family member after Johnny's "death."  They have to save Ben Grimm.

Meanwhile, Angrir is walking around the city, being tempted and tormented by his parasitic companions.  It's interesting to note that Ben must be SO good that these extra tormenters are needed for Angrir to maintain control.  They're highly effective.  When the former Thing sees the Future Foundation airship in the sky, he launches his hammer right through the thing.

Both of the remaining members of the FF find their way to the ground safely.  Sue tries to use an invisible forcefield stop Angrir's hammer from returning to sender but the barrier is shattered with relative ease.  This gives the Invisible Woman a nosebleed.

Mr. Fantastic takes over from here, trying to talk the Breaker of Souls out of killing everyone on the planet.  Angrir has some accusatory words for his former friend, mostly about how many inventions that Reed has probably developed to kill the Thing over the years.  Mostly, the Worthy just kicks the crap out of Reed Richards.  This is some pretty harsh stuff even for an elastic man.

Sue recovers and takes over.  This is good because Mr. Fantastic is out for the issue.  Even though she really wants to save Ben Grimm, she's also very serious about stopping the Worthy no matter what.  Surrounding Angrir in a forcefield, the Invisible Woman shoves a bubble inside the Breaker of Soul's throat, threatening to choke him unless he turns over his hammer.

No such luck.  A pocket of flame bursts out between Sue and Reed, thoroughly distracting the Invisible Woman in the process.  Angrir talks about how he actually thought Sue was serious before walking away.  The Invisible Woman cares for her unconscious husband.  For now.

Angrir returns to breaking stuff as we switch scenes to the apartment of Alicia Masters.  Alicia is the blind sculptor who is best known for being Ben's first girlfriend after he got all rocky.  While it's been a while since they've been that close, Alicia still has a close relationship with the Thing.

For a blind lady, Alicia has a very nice looking television set.  I'm guessing it's for entertaining guests but she has it on during the crisis so she can listen to what's happening around the world.  I guess a radio tuned to NPR would be just as good but that's not what she's using.  When Alicia learns that's going on with her ex, she races out to save Ben's life.

OK.  Now we're back to Angrir, still roaming the streets of New York.

They have needs.  And demands.

Before Alicia can get to some monster saving, Dragon Man shows up to try his hand in stopping the Worthy.  This Dragon Man is actually a robot.  We've shown some of his encounters with the Fantastic Four in past Super Reads.  I believe we even showed when he got a super brain.  If not, the super brain is a newish development from later issues of the Fantastic Four series.  While the current version of Dragon Man doesn't really like to get his violence on, "desperate times" and all that.

Even though Dragon Man's flames fly freely, they don't seem to do much against the Worthy.  Angrir gets the upper hand and nearly tears Dragon Man apart from the jaws.

And that's when Alicia arrives.  This wouldn't be the first time Alicia Masters has "tamed the savage beast," as it were.  You could argue that Ben Grimm was her first success story.  If you don't count him, she's still responsible for getting through to the Silver Surfer and was the only one who the newly created Adam Warlock would talk to.  She's got a history of this sort of thing.

But it's not gonna work this time.  Maybe it's the slug things talking into his ears but he's not having any of Alicia's crap today.  Angrir swats her like a fly and them drops his hammer on the Thing's ex-girlfriend.

We're not having any deaths of a named character this issue, though.  Sue Richards has protected Alicia Masters with an invisible forcefield.  Unlike her earlier barrier, this one holds fast.  Sue begs that Ben let her save Alicia.  While the slugs would love for Angrir to kill them both, he believes that the living spread fear a lot better than the dead.  This might be a little of Ben Grimm showing through.  Angrir, Breaker of Souls, leaves Sue with a warning to stay out of his way.

Alicia's further gone than you'd expect.  That hit she took caused her to stop breathing.  The Invisible Woman performs some CPR (or at least some chest compressions which... look a little high in my opinion-- I don't think Sue has taken any recent first aid classes).  Alicia Masters lives but Ben Grimm is gone forever... or so it appears.  All that's left is Angrir.

Alicia tells Sue that she could hear something in the voice of the former Ben Grimm.  Something that felt a lot like Fear.


Fear Itself: Deadpool #2Fear Itself: Deadpool #2
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Penciler: Bong Dazo

In this issue:

• The Walrus terrorizes the town of Cimarron, New Mexico.  It's all part of Deadpool's master plan.

• Larry and Moe head to Cimarron, upset that they lost their hammer.

• After being scared witless last night, the people of Cimarron complain to the mayor.  With no other options available, he calls in the Militiamen.

• They blow up real good when Deadpool uses up the last of his dynamite.

• With that done, Deadpool tells the Walrus that his mission is complete.  The hammer is fully charged.  Wade takes off.

• A werewolf council meets to see if it's safe to attack Cimarron.  They're waiting for the full moon but they already look pretty furry.

• Deadpool shows up on a stolen horse to save the town from the Walrus.  In return, they agree to give him their Confederate gold.

• When it turns out that the Walrus's hammer DOES have powers under the full moon, this easy victory is taken from the Merc with a Mouth.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Wade Wilson is Deadpool, everyone's favorite Merc with a Mouth.  Sometimes, that wacky character has completely useless adventures just for the hell of it.  This is one of those.

Don't get me wrong.  After a subpar first issue, Christopher Hastings, writer and artist of the brilliant webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, manages to deliver a much better second chapter here.  It's just not essential reading and doesn't add anything to the whole Fear Itself story.  There's also a bunch of stuff that happens simply to further the plot and doesn't happen for any logical reason.  You'll see.

Last issue, Deadpool took a hammer out of some construction worker's van after a furry special ops dude put a rocket in the vehicle.  He blinged it out and then bequeathed it on the Walrus.  He's an actual super-villain, never you mind.  The purpose for this will become clear in this very issue.  But first, they've got to head to Cimarron, New Mexico.

So that's where we're at when this issue begins.  Well, actually, we're in bed when things start rolling.  Some dude wearing one of those night hats straight out of the late 1800's wakes up to a loud noise and then rolls over to spoon his wife.  Only it's not his wife.  She's tied up next to the bed.  It's the Walrus.

So, yeah, that happened.  The man races to the phone as the Walrus smashes his bed.  He dials up 9-1-1 but instead of talking to emergency responders, he speaks to Deadpool.  Wade tells him that it's all fine.  The Walrus will kill him tomorrow.

It should be noted that Wade Wilson is dressed up as the Spectre of Mass Destruction which looks a lot like witch clothing and a Scream mask.  All this fear that the Walrus is spreading is supposed to be charging up that blinged out hammer.  DP has a plan to hit every fifth house in one night, spreading fear and chaos wherever the Walrus goes.

Of course, Wade has rules.  The next house has children in it.  He tells the Walrus that stuff can be smashed but to otherwise leave the kids alone.  You don't hurt children.  DP modifies the rules when he sees that the girl's room is totally decked out in Deadpool paraphernalia.  Clearly, this room must remain a shrine.

The Walrus isn't too happy about this.  He likes to smash things and this is giving him more rules than he likes.

The next room over is filled with Cable merchandise.

The two have a complicated relationship.

Deadpool tells the Walrus to go to town on that one.  Cable parts fly everywhere.

While the Walrus does his terrorizing, Deadpool checks out his map of the town.  He's drawn a gigantic "X" in the middle of a street and put a bunch of people on top of it.  Don't worry.  There's a method to this madness.

Last issue, we met Larry and Moe, two construction workers whose van got blown up by a furry.  It's from that van that Deadpool found the hammer that Walrus is using.  It's also from Larry and Moe that DP got the idea to come to Cimarron.  It was where those two were heading.  It's also worth mentioning that I gave them the names "Larry" and "Moe" last issue because they didn't get ACTUAL names.  While they head across country, we learn that one of their names is ACTUALLY Larry.  Go me.

The two are still heading to Cimarron to complete their mission even though they no longer have the weapon that would have made this a lot easier.  They even tried phoning Cimarron and warning them about the upcoming danger but phone lines are down.  Larry and Moe still have to go even though it means almost certain doom.  After all, they're werewolf hunters.  It's what they do.

The next day sees the good citizens of Cimarron flocking around their mayor, demanding action.  This Walrus needs to GO.  Some people wonder if he's connected to the Fear Itself thing happening all over the world.  Others wonder why the local Sheriff's office is empty of law enforcement.  The Mayor can't answer those questions but what he can do is sic the local Militiamen on this Walrus.

The Walrus is running down the street when he meets up with the Militiamen.  They aren't super-heroes.  These guys are an actual militia.  Their guns are NOT for hunting purposes.  The Militiamen chase the Walrus down the street until he's standing RIGHT on top of an "X."

Deadpool appears, still wearing that Spectre of Mass Destruction costume.  He asks the Walrus if he sees the "X" and then congratulates the Walrus for fulfilling his mission.  The villain drops his hammer on the "X" and the last of Deadpool's bargain explosives ignite.

It looks like that takes care of the Militiamen (permanently?) and it leaves the townspeople scratching their heads on what to do next.  Deadpool tells the Walrus that the villain is ready and then teleports away.

Somewhere else, the Society for the Advancement of Lycanthropic Kind meets.  Werewolves, people.  While the light of the full moon usually brings out a person's wolf-like qualities, it's been shown that some werewolves can learn to control their transformations completely.  I'm guessing that's what we're seeing in this room.  The leader of the group, Sir Lupos, asks about the hammer but the device escapes all form of detection.  They simply don't know where it is and they won't until it hits the light of the full moon.

That would be this evening, by the way.  The werewolves don't know if it's safe to attack Cimarron just yet.

If you're looking into the big questions like why would a bunch of werewolves want to attack a specific town, don't bother.  You aren't getting that answer.  All we know is that they aren't hiding their plans because werewolf hunters like Larry and Moe know well in advance that there's an attack planned.  You might also be wondering why the werewolves are waiting for the full moon if they can transform themselves at will.  I got nothin' people.  I'm betting that the full moon strengthens their powers and healing abilities but otherwise it's a gigantic, baffling mystery.

Here's the end to one mystery, though.  Your question is: why is Deadpool tricking the Walrus into believing he has one of the Worthy's hammers?  The answer?  So he can con the people of Cimarron out of their money.  Deadpool strolls into town on the back of a stolen horse, claiming that he's a simple walrus hunter.

His number one fan is in the crowd (you'll remember her from her Deadpool covered room earlier in this comic).  She is eXtremely eXcited to see her hero and tells the mayor to hire Deadpool to save the day.  Even though the town is poor, they have a safe full of Confederate Gold.  That'll do for a reward.

DP's #1 fan gives him a pep talk and then gets downright creepy.  When you're a Deadpool fan in a world where Deadpool actually exists, I guess you'd HAVE to be a little bit wrong in the head.

After that, we're off.  The Walrus was waiting for a hero to arrive and starts things off by giving Wade a nice hit in the chest.  This knocks Wilson of his horse and takes the Merc with a Mouth a minute to recover.  Walrus gives him that time.  We watch a beautiful sunset.

After some quick healing, Deadpool takes over this fight.  The Walrus is strong.  REALLY strong.  Wade still has his number.  To make things more interesting, you'll see that DP isn't wearing any weapons.  He figures that this one is going to be so easy that he won't need them.  Wade also figures the crowd deserves a show after all the terror they've witnessed.  Deadpool has to earn his money.

Elsewhere, Sir Lupos gets a call from the furry special operations dude from last issue.  He tells Lupos that while Larry and Moe are on their way to Cimarron, they don't have the special hammer.  It's safe to attack the town.

Back in Cimarron, Deadpool is dragging the Walrus out of a broken building so that he can beat the villain even more when the light of the Full Moon shines down on the blinged out hammer.  The glued on jewels fly off.  The weapon begins to glow.  Ancient words appear on the handle.

Walrus takes a swing at Wade's head.  Our... um... "hero" goes down.

Back at Sir Lupo's mansion/ fortress, the rest of the werewolves are still concerned that the Militiamen will be a problem.  Lupos assures them that the militia isn't using silver bullets and any other wound is something they can heal.  It's only the hammer that would have caused a problem because its "cursed ringing" interferes with their healing abilites.

Uh oh.  Deadpool has healing abilities!


Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #2Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #2
Writers: Brandon Montclare
Artists: Simon Bisley, Ryan Bodenheim, Ray-Anthony Height, & Don Ho

In this issue:

• Howard the Duck, She-Hulk, Nighthawk, and Frankenstein's Monster all succumb to the reality altering properties of the Nexus of all Realities as controlled by the Man-Thing.

• And then everything pops back to normal as soon as Man-Thing moves on.

• Frankensein's Monster tries to slink away but Howard pulls him back in.

• We get an abbreviated origin story from Frankie.

• This also shows that the Monster has been captured and manipulated by another being who wants to find Man-Thing.

• When the "team" catches up to their quarry, they find the Man-Thing facing off against the Psycho-Man.  PM is also the same dude who sent Frankie after the Man-Thing.

• Psycho-Man is focusing on fear, which makes fighting him during Fear Itself a chore.  This is compounded by Nighthawk ticking Man-Thing off.

• The Fantastic Four show up to mess with everything.

• This Fantastic Four is comprised of Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, and the Grey Hulk.  FYI.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Man-Thing is running amok through New York.  This is never actually a good thing but when you're dealing with an event called "Fear Itself" and a dude with the tagline "whosoever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing..." you know it's a recipe for... well, it's a recipe for a four issue mini-series starring 1978 Presidential hopeful, Howard the Duck.  Howard is joined by She-Hulk because Jennifer Walters has nothing better to do.  Later on, the duo runs into Nighthawk, Marvel's Batman, who is just this side of sane and Frankenstein's Monster, who is an issue all unto himself.  Together, they are the Fearsome Four.  Howard even uses the term IN the comic even though this group is hardly what I'd call a team.

Just as the foursome encounters the Man-Thing, reality starts going crazy around them.  She-Hulk starts looking a lot like her green cousin, the normal Hulk.  Howard turns into a dinosaur.  Nighthawk changes into a Hawkman, ripping off an entirely different DC character.  Frankenstein's Monster becomes even more freakish looking.  What's worse, the alterations aren't just skin deep.  The four start going nuts.

So what is going on?  Man-Thing is usually known as the guardian of the Nexus of All Realities.  This is how a duck ended up on a world he never made.  With even more freaky energy ripping through its body, Man-Thing is drawing people INTO the Nexus and we're seeing the effect.

Howard the Dinosaur tries to get everyone to attack the Man-Thing but most of them were already doing that.  Since reality itself is being warped around the monster, fighting Man-Thing is a difficult thing and the four wind up hitting each other more than their target.  It's only when Man-Thing shuffles away from them that reality snaps back to its usual patterns.  Everyone tries to get over being back in their own skin after that acid trip of an adventure.

For a second, Howard freaks out, thinking he misplaced his thingamadoodle.  This is the mechanical device that we saw him focusing on last issue.  When he finds it, Nighthawk asks him what it's for but, much like last issue, Howard's not telling.  "It's... IMPORTANT.  But it's also a LONG story."  We've heard that before.  I'm betting three panels, tops.

While everyone's distracted, Frankenstein's Monster tries to sneak away.  Howard's not having any of that.  He's quite sympathetic to the Monster and thinks it's best if they all remain together.  What's more fun is now that Frankenstein's Monster is calmed down, he actually speaks pretty well.  Perhaps it's a bit on the dated side but here's a man who knows how to use pronouns and even a prepositional phrase!  None of that "FIRE BAD" stuff your typical Frankenstein's Monster gets into.

While our Fearsome Four continue to track down the Man-Thing, the Monster gives us a lesson of his history.  It starts off where you'd expect it.  1816, Lake Geneva.  Dr. Frankenstein.  An Igor.  Electricity.  Life.  That sort of thing.

NUANCE!

And after we get through Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, we move right into strict Marvel Territory.  The Monster continues to be hounded by villagers.  Sometimes he allies himself with the wrong people (Dracula) but it never works out.  There's even an odd battle against the Silver Surfer (I can't place this, by the way--it's not Silver Surfer #7, which is Frankenstein's Monster's first Marvel appearance because the Monster only appears in flashback).

In time, the Monster was captured by a powerful being and examined in detail.  Frankenstein's Monster was forced to feel Hate, Doubt, and Fear while being subjected to various tests.  All of this was to help in the brainwashing of the Monster so that he'd serve a particular purpose.  Frankenstein's Monster was sent to find the Man-Thing.  There are other monsters also given this task but it was the Monster who becomes our seeker.

And seek he does!  Before the events of last issue, Frankenstein's Monster FOUND the Man-Thing and the two fought it out.  The big issue was that the Monster was being manipulated by Fear which meant he definitely burned at the touch of the Man-Thing.  The two were separated and that's about the time the rest of the group found Frankenstein's Monster.  So we're caught up.

Howard thinks it a good thing that Frankie has joined them but notes that it means another player has desires for the Man-Thing.  That's JUST what they need.

The team catches up with Man-Thing in Washington Square Park.  They aren't the only ones.  Man-Thing is facing off against the Psycho-Man!

Backstory!  Psycho-Man is a cosmic-level bad guy who lives on the microscopic level.  That means he's usually hanging out in the Microverse.  His talents include emotional manipulation (which explains what he did to Frankenstein's Monster during the brainwashing sessions) and he usually fights people using robotic bodies.  That's the case right now.  It was the Psycho-Man that sent Frankenstein's monster after the Man-Thing.

Since this is Fear Itself, Psycho-Man has decided that tapping into the emotion of Fear will yield the best results and he focuses on it instead of any other emotion.  Since this guy is one of the heavy hitting bad guys, it's probably not good to make a frontal attack.

Nighthawk does it anyway.

Actually, Nighthawk is attacking everyone.  I know that they're trying to bring in Man-Thing regardless of the consequences but moments after the Man-Thing saves their life from Psycho-Man's all-consuming attack, Nighthawk tries to kick the creature.  Howard is not amused.  Suddenly, the foursome is fighting a two front battle.

That's what happens when you're working with a loose cannon.

In the middle of this stand-off, in come the Fantastic Four.  No, not Reed Richards and company.  This is the short-lived nineties version of the team.  Ghost Rider!  Spider-Man!  Wolverine!  Gray Hulk!

C'mon.  You didn't see that coming.


Avengers #15Avengers #15
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Chris Bachalo

In this story:

• More of the Oral History of the Avengers.  This time, the focus is on Spider-Woman.

• And the setting of our adventure is Brazil.  The Protector, Spider-Woman, and Ms. Marvel head on down to deal with the situation.  The sitch turns out to be a Worthy powered up Hulk.

• We've seen this play out in lots of titles.  No matter how powerful your heroes, they get beat down by the Worthy.  Imagine you're dealing with one that started out as the Hulk.  It's that bad.

• The Protector is taken out in the first ten seconds.  Spider-Woman starts fist fighting the super-powered Hulk.

• Before Nul can completely eviscerate Jessica, Hawkeye shows up for the save.

• Spider-Woman keeps on fighting.  The Worthy destroys Hawkeye's Quinjet.

• The Protector is back in the fight for another few seconds.

• Spider-Woman loads a bunch of children onto a truck and races out of the battle zone while Ms. Marvel fights the mega-Hulk.

• Everyone hides in a building until Nul gets bored and leaves.  Jessica Drew gives Hawkeye a kiss.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

We begin this issue of Avengers like the last two: It's Oral History of the Avengers time!  This time the focus is put on Spider-Woman.  Jessica Drew has been an Avenger since right after Secret Invasion.  Before that, the Spider-Woman on the team was actually a Skrull Queen named Veranke.  Living up to the legend set by a Skrull is the least of her worries.  Jessica was born into a Hydra family and raised to be a terrorist.  Instead, she became a hero... one with many, many issues brought on because of her upbringing.

So even though she's served on the Avengers for a while now, she doesn't actually feel like she should BE an Avenger.  Ms. Marvel keeps up the talk about how Jessica needs to be on the team to stabilize her but pretty much everyone agrees that Spider-Woman has what it takes to be an Avenger.  Even so, Jessica's looking for that moment.

You know, that Moment?  That defining bit where everyone can point at and say, "that's an Avenger!"  Spider-Woman doesn't think she's had that Moment yet.  She's waiting for it.

Over the course of the issue, other Avengers will chime in and say that the Moment doesn't actually exist and that Jessica isn't just looking for her defining Avengers moment, she wants something to happen that will forgive her for her Hydra upbringing as well as making up for what her parents did before her.  She's got issues.  Let's see how her Moment goes.

Our story truly begins in Brazil.  That's because that's where the Hulk is.  After picking up his hammer, the big green guy became the Worthy known as Nul, Breaker of Worlds.  In Fear Itself #3, he chased after... you know what?  I don't know if Betty Ross would be Bruce Banner's ex or his wife.  Whatever the case, the two were trying to work out their issues in the wilds of Brazil.  Oh, Betty can turn into a Red She-Hulk, too.  That's new.  So is her being alive.  Anyway, Nul is smashing everything in sight and keeping his path firmly planted on the Red She-Hulk.

That's when the Avengers arrive.  By "Avengers," I mean the Protector, Spider-Woman, and Ms. Marvel.  In Fear Itself #3, that's where we left things.  Now, we'll see what happens AFTER Fear Itself #3 moved on...

I'm assuming Red She-Hulk kept on moving in front of the fight, rescuing who she could on the way, because we don't see her again.  What we do see is Nul swinging his hammer and immediately taking the Protector out of the fight.  This also scatters Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman.  For whatever reason, Carol isn't able to quickly rejoin the fight which means it's up to Jessica to face off against the former Hulk alone.

She's a trooper, I'll give her that.  There are facts to be faced.  This is the Hulk but STRONGER.  The Worthy are NOT that defeatable.  They are pretty much unstoppable forces of nature.  Spider-Woman doesn't really have a chance to take on Nul anymore than Red Hulk stood a chance against Angrir (Thing) last issue.  These stories are more about how a team faces defeat than how they win against unwinnable odds.

So for her part, Spider-Woman goes out swinging.  Fortunately for her, death isn't in her immediate future.  Up on the Quinjet is a fourth Avenger, Hawkeye.  He fires a couple blast arrows, buying Jessica some time to get away.  Instead, Spider-Woman gets back on her feet and gets right back into the fight.

That, people, is heroic.  She did it without even thinking about it.

The Spider-Woman/ Hawkeye combo keeps the Breaker of Worlds on his toes for a bit but it doesn't last.  Nul finally fires his hammer up at the Quinjet, taking away Hawkeye's aerial advantage.  Ms. Marvel flies in, saving Clint's life.  This just leaves Spider-Woman in the danger zone.

Before Nul can stomp his big feet on the Avenger, the Protector rejoins the fight.  With his space guns, he actually knocks the Worthy down.  For one shining moment, the team thinks they have a chance to win this fight.

And then that moment is over.  Noh-Varr gets knocked back down by former Hulk's hammer.  Jessica tries to carry the Protector out of the battle while Ms. Marvel finally takes the fight to the Worthy.

And this is where things get interesting.  Spider-Woman enters what she thinks is an abandoned building and finds it filled with children.  They need to get out of here before they are violently killed by the super-powered Hulk.  Jessica loads them all into a truck and starts driving.

Don't make me stop this thing!  No, seriously.  Don't make me stop.

Carol and Clint keep bringing the fight to Nul but it's a losing game they're playing.  Hawkeye leaps into Spider-Woman's truck.  Ms. Marvel carries Nul high above the city (by the hammer) and then drops the Worthy onto a gas truck.  It's a big fiery explosion but Nul walks away from it with little actual damage done.

Still, it bought the Avengers time to hide in a building with the kids.  Nul looks around for someone to hit but finds no one available.  Now, it's just a question of whether he keeps on destroying this city or if he leaves.

With a cry of rage, Nul, Breaker of Worlds, leaps away.  This city, at least, is safe.

And that's about the time when Jessica kisses Clint as a thank you for saving her life.  It's a long kiss.

In the Oral History, everyone counts this as the moment when Spider-Woman had her Moment.  She stood up to a super powerful version of the Hulk and saved a school full of kids.  That's a good day for an Avenger.  Sure, they didn't beat the bad guy but as I've been saying, that's pretty much impossible.

The team says that things kept getting worse after this which means the next three issues of Fear Itself (and Avengers tie-ins) ought to be interesting.  Commander Steve Rogers says that the Avengers would need to step up their game before Fear Itself is through.


Avengers Academy #16Avengers Academy #16
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Tom Raney

In this issue:

• Giant-Man, Justice, and Quicksilver fight Greithoth and Skirn in Dubai.

• The former Absorbing Man is acting a lot less "former" in Hank Pym's presence.  It's concerning Skirn.

• Be that as it may, Greithoth is killing lots of people in his battle with Giant-Man.

• Hank creates a giant dimensional door and sucks Greithoth inside.  Before he goes all the way through, he hammer bumps Skirn, causing massive destruction.

• Giant-Man passes out in the water.

• In Washington D.C., the Avengers students keep on saving lives.

• Veil rescues a little girl who wants the hero to rescue her mom.

• After struggling to free the mother, Veil watches as a Nazi mech guns the lady down right in front of the little girl.

• Veil takes vengeance on the Nazi, asphyxiating the pilot.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Big trouble in Dubai!  Blitzkreig USA in Washington D.C.!  It's a hell of a day to be part of Avengers Academy.  Coordinating with Commander Steve Rogers and later on Maria Hill (after Rogers abandons his post-- check Fear Itself #3, it totally happened), Hank Pym and the rest of the Avengers Academy faculty and students have been positioned at several Fear Itself hot spots.  Last issue, the faculty (minus Speedball and Tigra) recaptured escaped Raft prisoners while the students assisted in rescue efforts in Washington D.C.  After Hank was done gathering up prisoners, Hill sent him and his team to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to deal with the double threat of Greithoth, Breaker of Wills, and Skirn, Breaker of Men.  You might know those two better by their former names, Absorbing Man and Titania, respectively.

To Hank Pym, currently rocking the Giant-Man look, defeating the two Worthy is just a means to an end.  He wants to get to his students so that he can do whatever it takes to protect them.  What he doesn't know is just how powerful the Worthy are.  It's the same old story we're getting all over the place.  No one can REALLY defeat a Worthy.  Dubai has two Worthies running loose.  That doesn't spell "easy win."

Hank learns that lesson soon enough as he faces off against the new and improved Absorbing Man.  Justice and Quicksilver get the job of fighting Skirn.  No one's pulling off a win.

Skirn swats Justice and Quicksilver around and we learn that the Worthy don't need to breath (which makes Sue's tactics in Fear Itself: FF #1 where she's trying to choke Angrir even more useless than they appeared).  Even though the Breaker of Men is living up to her title, she's concerned about her own man.  Greithoth hasn't been acting like himself since this fight with Hank Pym started.

Which is to say that the Absorbing Man's own personality is taking over.  Justice says that this probably has something to do with how Pym humiliated the Absorbing Man in their last encounter (Avengers Academy #7) which only frustrates Skirn more.  The Worthy aren't supposed to be ruled by Fear.  They CONTROL it.

Even so, Crusher Creel is an intelligence that he previously lacked.  Greithoth might not be in the driver's seat but his own skills in battle are Crusher's to command.  At one point in the fight, the Worthy weighs Hank down with his hammer.  While Giant-Man shrinks away, the hammer keeps on going until it hits the ground.  This sends shockwaves through this part of the city, killing thousands of people.

It's about that point that Giant-Man takes this fight seriously.  Before, it was just a fight he needed to get through in order to get to his students.  He even declared that out loud.  Now, it's something he needs to do smarter so that more lives aren't lost needlessly.

Seeing that Quicksilver has already emptied out a particular skyscraper, Hank tears off the top section and props in on two other buildings.  He's creating a door.  When Greithoth rushes him, Pym tells Jocasta to create a dimensional gateway.  This sucks the Worthy through to someplace much colder.

Before the former Absorbing Man is pulled all the way through, he holds out his hammer and drops the line to Skirn, "Baby... give me some sugar."  This is the part where the Breaker of Men realizes that her life partner still has that special magic.  The two bump hammers.

And the city explodes.

The whole area is knocked down.  The dimensional door is broken.  The only good news is that both of the Worthies went through before it collapsed.

With the crisis over (and massive amounts of clean-up ahead for the city), all Hank Pym can think about it getting to his students.  His body, on the other hand, is ready to pass out.  It does just that, dropping the giant into the nearby ocean in the process.  Hank's mouth is JUST above water.

That's your Giant-Man adventure for the day.  Now, it's time to join the Avengers Academy students as they continue to save lives in Washington D.C.  Most of the kids are just going to be seen in that first panel as they shunt evacuees through dimensional doors to presumedly safer areas.  The rest of this story belongs to Madelyne Berry.  You know her better as Veil.

It all starts out when Maddy sees a poor little girl who isn't paying attention to the brick wall crumbling near her.

There's gotta be a slightly burnt one eyed teddy bear around here somewhere.  I mean, look at that destruction.  It's compulsory.

Veil saves the kid's life and then tries to reunite the girl with her family.  That's easier said than done.  It turns out the little girl's mom is still trapped in a fallen building.  While Maddy thinks that the lady is probably dead, she agrees to try and save the mother's life.

This is where Berry's powers work well.  She can change into a gas form which means that searching a broken down building is ideal for her.  Against hope, the mother is still alive.  She's even free to move around.  All she really needs is to be woken up.  Transforming her finger to smelling salts, Maddy wakes up the woman.  Mom seems to have a few broken ribs but at least she can move.

The next two pages detail their escape from the collapsed building.  It's rough going but together, they make it out just as the entryway falls in on itself.  The mother rejoins her child and we get a tiny happy ending in a wave of dispair.

Oh, wait.  This is Fear Itself.  There will be no happiness today.  The woman is reunited with her daughter just in time to get shot by a Nazi Mech.

Veil takes swift retribution on the Nazi pilot, entering the Mech in gas form and then changing her body into one deadly gas or another.  The result is a dead Nazi.  While no one will grieve for the racist killer, it is still something good heroes typically avoid and I guess we'll see what it does to Veil long-term.

The other person we should worry about is that poor surviving daughter.  She just watched her mom get slain in front of her.  That is probably the worst thing you can imagine happening and there it was.  Rescue crews show up and take the girl away after Maddy fills them in on what just happened.  She leaves out the fact that she just killed a Nazi but it isn't really vital to the rescue people.  They probably wouldn't care.  They might even give her a high five since they've been dealing with evil Nazi Mechs all day.

As they take the girl away, Maddy Berry chokes out an apology for not saving her mom.  Then she falls to her knees in grief near the dead mother's body.

OK, folks.  This is the halfway mark.  If you've been reading this thing all the way through, this is the point where you should take a break, maybe a walk around the block.  If you experience any vision troubles such as whiteout, blurriness, or a red haze, please consult an eye care professional immediately.

This would also be a good time to bookmark the article and make sure that any of your toddlers haven't accidentally graduated high school while you've been reading.

All right, intermission done.  Let's move on to the drunken disaster that is Tony Stark.


Invincible Iron Man #506Invincible Iron Man #506
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

In this issue:

• Tony Stark summons Odin at the World Tree by getting completely sloshed.

• Odin brings him to Svartalfheim to make super weapons.

• We meet a bunch of dwarves that we've never seen before who like swearing in a different dialect and make the text fudgeing hard to read.

• When the cursed dwarves figure out that Tony was sent here by Odin, they decide to help him make some awesome weapons.

• At Stark Resilient HQ in Seattle, the Resilient crew looks at all the bad stuff happening all over the world.  Mostly Paris, though, because that's where Iron Man was last issue.

• Justine Hammer isn't getting through to General Babbage and is out of touch on Blitzkrieg USA hitting an American town near you.

• Pepper Potts suits up as Rescue and after much internal debate, flies off to Paris.

• The Detroit Steel Corps, led by Sasha Hammer, also fly off to Paris.  They believe they have sanction to kill anything in sight.  Because they say so.

• You know you're the bad guy when you think killing everything is the right option.

• Tony Stark tells the rest of the Dwarves his plan.  One of them is all pooping pissy about it.

• Rescue and the Detroit Steel Corps arrive in Paris.  One of the Detroit Steels tries to kill a cat.  He doesn't.

• Tony punches out a Dwarf who totally deserves it.  After that, it's dadgum drinkin' time.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

In Fear Itself #4, Tony Stark summoned up Odin at the World Tree known as Yggdrasil just outside of Broxton Oklahoma.  To do this, he made a sacrifice.  His sobriety.  The bottle of merlot that Justine Hammer gave him to congratulate Stark Resilient on scoring the contract to rebuild Asgard.  A lot has happened since the Asgard contract fell through because of Fear Itself.

This scene will play out in greater depth back in Fear Itself #5 (because I apparenly know the future).  For now, we just get to the good stuff.  Tony Stark can make some awesome weapons when he puts his mind on killing.  All he needs is the means.  Magic would also be nice.

Before we get too far into this, I want to stress that Iron Man isn't looking for something that'll win the war.  Things are so depressing right now that everyone is just trying to lose LESS.  These super weapons will only give them a chance to sting back.

For whatever reason, Odin transports Tony Stark to the land of Svartalfheim.  This is the land of Dwarves and in particular, this is the forge where Mjolnir was made.  Don't expect to see Dwarven mainstays like Eitri.  This is something completely different.  In fact, it's a continuity clustersmurf.

You see, Svartalfheim isn't really the land of the Dwarves.  It's the home of the Dark Elves.  Dudes like Malekith and Wormwood.  Dwarves typically live in Nidavellir.  More than that?  There are two different origin stories for Mjolnir.  Neither take place in Svartalfheim and both have Eitri as the Dwarf who made the Uru hammer.  So we've just added a brand new origin and mixed up our Nine Realms in the process.  This is extra stupid when you consider that Matt Fraction is also writing Thor and should know his stuff better than me.

But let's move on.  Quickly, before I think about it more.  PANTS.

After teleporting Iron Man to the Dwarven forge, Odin is off.  He leaves Stark the typical warning: "You have until the shadow of the Serpent falls across the World Tree."

Tony is left alone until the boss of these Dwarves notices him and demands to know what the FLICK a human is doing in his workshop.  This is Splitlip and he's the boss around this dang! place.  He also adds these ancient dialect curse words very liberally in his speech.  That means he's a working Dwarf just trying to get by.

I don't mind telling you it's off-putting, too.  Yes, I know.  I'm putting those same atrocious curse words into this article because darn, it's addicting.  These Dwarves, to a one all use them a lot stinking more.  You'll start getting pulled out of the story because you're trying to figure out which word the Dwarves intended on using.  Or maybe that's just me.  I'm kind of a brilliant human being.

After Splitlip learns that this human is here because of Odin and is here to make some magical weapons of mass destruction, he leads Tony deep into his blasted forge.  Calling together the rest of the Dwarves, Splitlip gives them a quick rundown of why Stark is here and they all get ready to do some hard work.

That's enough swearing for now.  Let's move on to Seattle, Washington, home of Stark Resilient.  These guys are sitting around their headquarters while the rest of the world falls apart.  Tim Cababa doesn't believe Mr. Pimacher when his boyfriend tells him that the world is in a handbasket and heading straight to hell.  Mrs. Arbogast confirms it and mentions that Iron Man was in Paris when it was stoned by Mock, Breaker of Earth.  They hook it up on the video monitors and get live feed to everything that's going wrong with the world.

The whole crew watches as a camera team enters Paris to get a closer look at what has happened to the City of Lights.  They are shocked... moreso when Mokk makes a personal appearance and turns the news team into stone.

They aren't the only ones that are just learning what's going on in the world.  The CEO of Hammer Industries, Justine Hammer, sent her man, Lt. Doug Johnson, into Paris where he was stoned and crushed last issue.  That's probably why she's having trouble getting a hold of him now.  Then again, Hammer is having equal trouble getting a call through to her government contact, General Babbage.  Something big must be going on in the world.  She orders up some feeds on what's happening in Washington D.C.

Oh, she's on some wicked looking airship, too.

Washington D.C. happens to be on fire.  The Capital Dome has been smashed in.  Washington Monument is gone.  In Seattle, Pepper Potts has gotten into her Rescue armor but now she can't make up her mind if she wants to join in on relief efforts.  Carson Wyche walks into her room and tries to talk her out of going out there.  This reminds me that Wyche was fired from Stark Industries because he and Pepper were becoming flirtatious.  Maybe he's the replacement Happy Hogan?  We'll leave that in the air for now.

One thing Carson does with his trying to get her to stay out of the Fear Itself event, he basically gets her motivated to go out and save people.  Pepper tells him that the heroes of the world are doing all they can and it's not enough.  She's NEEDED out there even if she's terrified.

Over at Hammer Industries, Sasha Hammer is suited up in a Detroit Steel armor all her own.  Sasha is an interesting case.  She's the granddaughter of longtime Stark business rival, Justin Hammer.  She's also the daughter of the Mandarin.  Does it make sense?  Sometimes, you read a comic and notice that the coincidences are WAY over the top.  To make things even more fun, she's dating Ezekiel, the son of another Stark business rival, Obadiah Stane.  It's literally a small world.

Talking to her mother, Justine Hammer, Sasha is given the orders to go into Paris and recover the Detroit Steel armor and possibly Lt. Johnson if he's still alive.  This isn't an officially sanctioned mission but the elder Hammer left a message for General Babbage about it so it's probably cool.

Sasha won't be going in alone.  There's a whole squad of Detroit Steels to back her up.  Sasha gives them their orders.  Recover the suit.  Maybe save Johnson.  Kill anything else that moves.

Meanwhile, in Svartalfheim, Tony is telling the frickin' Dwarves what they're going to be doing.

Tell me more.

Standard stuff.  Building super weapons.  Suggestions are welcome.  Limited time table.  No-win scenario.  The Dwarves look bored.  They just want to get to slagging work.

One Dwarf is especially stroppy.  He doesn't like this irritating human.  He doesn't like mighty Odin.  He might need to listen to Tony Stark but that doesn't mean he has to bloody like it.  This guy needs a name because he'll be important later on.  I will call him "Dopey."  Dopey seems to not get along with anyone but that might just be a Dwarf thing.

Rescue has arrived in Paris.  She looks around from the Eifel Tower (because how do you know if you're in Paris if you don't show the Eifel Tower?  It's like London without Big Ben) but gets no life readings, only more statues.  Pepper's onboard computer, JARVIS, picks up movement in the distance, though.  That's a good place to start.

Odds are likely that JARVIS has just picked up the Detroit Steel Corps.  They are also patrolling Paris, looking for their lost member.  The comic gives us some individual names for the various Detroit Steels but I'm just going to think of them as more cannon fodder until Fear Itself is over with.  There is, of course, the one guy who is reluctant to kill anything that moves and the other guy who is twitchy.  I think I'd probably be the twitchy guy.  I mean, you're in a city of stone corpses.  That's freak out territory.  I'd probably start shooting anything that moves, too.

Cats move, right?  Well this one does.  The twitchy guy opens fire and doesn't stop shooting until Sasha uses her whip fingers to slice the gun in two.  Even so, the cat survives.  Sometimes, you've gotta actually aim at your target.

We'll see if Rescue is as lucky.  She is landing right next to the guys that have orders to kill anyone who isn't Lieutenant Johnson.  All of this is watched by Mokk, the former Grey Gargoyle.  The lucky black cat has crawled up on his shoulder.

I guess he has a soft spot for kitties.

You might have forgotten this but Tony Stark is completely drunk off his mind right now.  He downed a whole bottle of merlot, probably on an empty stomach.  While his body has been altered so that it actually filters out alcohol, continuity only matters if your writer cares about it.  I always thought that alcohol filtration thing was a cheat, anyway.  We can just pretend that's one of the things he lost when Extremis went haywire.  No-Prize'd!

Because he's drunk, Tony accidentally runs into some Dwarves, making then drop their glowing metal (probably Uru?).  One of the Dwarves is Dopey and he doesn't take kindly to the clumsy human even IF Stark is trying to apologize.  So Dopey punches Tony in the face.

Well, that's enough of that.  Tony alters his Iron Man armor so make a metal boxing glove on his right hand and then punches this smug little peepee right back.  After teaching Dopey a lesson, Iron Man is pulled off the Dwarf by Splitlip.  It looks like Tony just earned some respect in the Dwarven forge.

And after such an awesome victory, Tony deserves a reward.  Splitlip drags him off to the break room so they can get drunk.  MORE drunk.  Splitlip explains that they need their alcohol levels high for the job ahead.  Even though Stark knows better than to go back for seconds, he takes up his cup and parties with the seven Dwarves.


Iron Man 2.0 #7Iron Man 2.0 #7
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Ariel Olivetti & Carmine Di Giandomenico

In this issue:

• In his astral form, Dr. Strange reviews footage from Washington D.C. and sees that John Aman was teleported to Beijing just like the rest of the Ultimate Weapons.  So was War Machine though the reasons for that remain unclear.

• War Machine and the Immortal Weapons wake up from the beating they received at the hands of Greithoth, Breaker of Wills.

• James Rhodes hates this magic stuff.  He also hates being a guest star in his own comic.

• Speaking of guest stars, that's Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.  No one knows who he is.  After telling Iron Fist that there is great evil inside the Avenger, Sun Wukong leaps away to retrieve his valuables.

• The Immortal Weapons pray that the City of Hell closes it's gates.  Rhodey takes five.

• Some evil force takes control of Iron Fist.  This interupts the invocation and cuts the other Immortal Weapons off from the sources of their power.

• Hey!  That means War Machine is suddenly important again!  Rhodey takes on the possessed Iron Fist and with a little magical assistance from Dr. Strange, knocks Danny Rand the hell out.

• With the Immortal Weapon of K'un L'un unconscious, the gates of Hell close, saving the city of Beijing from further destruction.

• Dr. Strange theorizes that higher powers were involved in settling this matter.  Regardless, Iron Fist has been taken over by AGAMOTTO!

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Most likely, Dr. Strange is physically in Fear Itself: The Deep.  Maybe he's taken a couple seconds out of that book to send his astral form to his Sanctum Sanctorum so that he and his manservant, Wong, can review the City of Hell situation in Beijing.  This involves looking over video footage of the battle in Washington D.C..  That's where the Prince of Orphans (John Aman) and War Machine got sucked into a teleporting vortex and ended up in China.

Aman is easy to figure out.  He's an Immortal Weapon and all of them get summoned in the case of the eighth city exploding.  War Machine, however, is an anomoly.  Jim Rhodes isn't an Immortal Weapon.  There's nothing that should have sucked him into this adventure.  Knowing what Dr. Strange knows, that will prove advantageous.

Last issue, the Absorbing Man picked up his hammer (which is what broke open the gates of Hell to begin with) and powered up as the Worthy, Greithoth, Breaker of Wills.  The results were explosive.  Everyone got knocked out.  Greithoth and Skirn (Titania) didn't stick around to kill anyone because they needed to make a quick trip over to the United Arab Emirates to break more things.  That's why all of our heroes wake up in relatively good condition.

After briefly going over the events of last issue, they meet Sun Wukong.  We first met this guy two issues ago.  He's the Monkey King and he is one of the occupants of the City of Hell.  Everything he sees?  His.  That's why Sun Wukong is so ticked off that Greithoth made off with his hammer.

No one here recognizes the Monkey King.  This sort of ticks Sun Wukong off but he doesn't have time to teach these guys a lesson.  Besides, he knows good guys when he sees them.  The only one giving off bad vibes is Iron Fist.  After telling Danny all about the hidden evil lying withing him, the Monkey King leaps off to recover his stolen hammer.

Yes, there's a Fear Itself tie-in coming that should deal with the Monkey King's further adventures.  Stay tuned!

James Rhodes is feeling pretty out of his depth.  The big sucking vortex in the sky unleashing demons on Beijing might have something to do with that.  It also might be because he's pretty useless in this situation.  The Immortal Weapons are running the show in his own comic.  All they have to do is beseech the ruler of Hell to close the gates and this will all be over.  Being a student of how this usually works out in comics, Rhodey will believe it when he sees it.

The Immortal Weapons kneel and begin their prayers to the ruler of Hell.  It's a standard invocation thing but it SHOULD work.  "Should" being the word in question.  You remember that great evil that Dr. Strange hinted at last issue and the Monkey King outright mentioned in this one?  That takes over Iron Fist.  This evil force doesn't want the gates of Hell closed.

So the request is interrupted.  With violence!

This isn't just about a mind controlled Iron Fist fighting his way through the other Immortal Weapons.  Whatever has taken control of Danny Rand has also cut the others off from accessing their own mystic city abilities.  The Prince of Orphans can't mist up.  The others are equally impaired.  It's worth mentioning that Iron Fist doesn't use his OWN power during this fight, either.

Immortal Weapons fall.  Suddenly, War Machine is relevant to the plot once more!

Soon.

Jim Rhodes has full access to his abilities but that doesn't mean that this is going to be an easy fight.  We've seen martial artists taking down Iron Man before (ugh, I had to remember that) so victory isn't assured just because War Machine has better weaponry.  Mostly, Jim's weakness is that he doesn't actually want to hurt Danny Rand.

In the end, Iron Fist forces War Machine to respond with deadly force.  What happens is... different.  Instead of shooting bullets, Rhodey's wrist gun fires magic.  Whatever it is subdues Iron Fist but leaves Jim and the Immortal Weapons with even more questions.  Why did the armor just shoot magic?  What the hell happened to Danny?  Who was that Monkey King dude?

On the plus side, the gates of Hell close now that Rand is unconscious.  The city is out of immediate danger.

Back in New York at Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, we get a couple answers to our earlier questions.  Strange co-opted Rhodey's gun and made it fire spells.  Danny Rand was being influenced by a demon after his visit to a higher reality in The New Avengers v2 #2-4 (that's where he got his snappy white costume variant).  The Monkey King isn't mentioned because we already know who he is and some idea of where he came from.  Oh, and the Immortal Weapons didn't really care who he was.

Strange believes that whatever sent War Machine to Beijing was a higher power trying to counter the evil influence on Iron Fist.  Even Dr. Strange was being used for that purpose.  It saved the day, though, so it's best not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Be that as it may, it definitely has "Magical Cold War" written all over it.  That's my phrase.  You can use it.

As soon as all this crazy is over with, Stephen Strange makes a note that he'll have to visit China in his actual body so that he can help Iron Fist.  Danny Rand is still being influenced by the demon and it's not just a garden variety customer.

It's Agamotto.


Uncanny X-Men #541Uncanny X-Men #541
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Greg Land

In this issue:

• Mayor of San Francisco, Sadie Sinclair, is brought into a telepathic conference call to discuss combat plans with Cyclops.

• Emma tries to telepathically move protesters out of the battle area but Kuurth just starts hurting them.  Cyke adds Cecilia Reyes to the battle roster.

• The X-Men try to take off the former Juggernaut's helmet.  It's not easy and involves a lot of X-Men coordinating together.

• To finish everything off, Hope gathers up the powers of a hell of a lot of X-Men and finally rips off Kuurth's helmet.

• Emma tries to shut down the Worthy telepathically but it shatters her mind instead.

• That leaves Cyclops and Mayor Sadie inside a telepathic conference call without the host.

• Kuurth's Acolyte gives the two a visit and delivers an ultimatum: If the humans destroy the mutants, they're saved.  If the mutants abandoned the humans, they're saved.  With that done, Kuurth lowers his telepathic boot and ends the call.

• Mayor Sinclair and Cyclops return to their usual bodies and the Breaker of Stone continues his walk into San Francisco.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Cain Marko is the step-brother of Charles Xavier who went AWOL during one military conflict or another (originally the Korean War) and was then imbued with the power of the demon, Cyttorak.  With that power, Marko became the unstoppable Juggernaut and usually lived up to that description in actions.  Some times, Marko chose to be a good guy, even joining the X-Men and Excalibur for a while.  Lately, he was running with the Thunderbolts as a super-hero convict.

All that has changed with Fear Itself.  Now, the Juggernaut has been upgraded even further, given a super-charged hammer by the Serpent, and has become the vessel for Kuurth, Breaker of Stone.  With his new powers, the Worthy has rampaged across the United States on a path leading right up to the X-Men's current home.  San Francisco.

Or, to be more accurate, the island just off the coast of San Francisco, Utopia.  This is where most of the world's remaining mutants call home.

Ending his run across the US, Kuurth has decided to stroll the rest of the way into the city.  This causes even more fear but has the added benefit of earning him a posse.  Egged on by his new acolyte (the dude with the red serpent tattoo on his face), the Breaker of Stone has spread a message all about the destruction of the mutants.  Since there are those that still hate the endangered species, protesters flock around the former Juggernaut.  This makes it harder for the good guys to attack the bad guy without the morons getting injured or killed in the crossfire.  So many moral implications!

For the X-Men, this is called "Wednesday."

Of course, it's not just Utopia that is in Kuurth's path.  It's also the city of San Francisco.  The Mayor of the city, Sadie Sinclair, is basically on damage control now, trying to make the public think that the X-Men and her office are coordinating defense efforts when in actuality, she's having a hard time getting Scott Summers, the leader of the X-Men, to return her phone calls.  Frustration abounds.

After cursing Cyclops' name a couple time, the phone finally rings.  Summers is finally getting back to her.

The call is actually just a prelude to their conversation.  When you want to truly coordinate efforts, there's nothing like telepathy.  Mayor Sadie is plunged into the telepathic conference call so that Cyclops and Emma Frost can discuss things in "person."  Emma's the lady on the throne dressed as a sexy cowgirl.  That woman loves her fetishes.

I could blame Greg Land for that but, really, Emma's usual costume is lingerie.  She would totally dress as a sexy cowgirl.

First things first, Scott explains who the Juggernaut usually is and what his usual M.O. is.  We just went over that above so we can move on.  The next topic is "How to Defeat the Juggernaut 101."  While Cain Marko is typically unstoppable, he has a weakness to telepathy.  All you need to do is bust off his helmet and things will calm right down.

I mean, "usually."  We're dealing with a Worthy enhanced Juggernaut so the normal rules are out the window.  I've also mentioned how we aren't going to see any Worthies defeated at this point, right?  Good.  Because I'd hate for you to get your hopes up this early in the story arc.

The next big problem is Kuurth's posse.  No one wants to kill or hurt these guys just because they've made the stupid decision to follow the Breaker of Stone into the city (and their hatred of mutants).  That's fine.  Cyclops has that planned out.  Emma Frost is hooked up to Cerebra and using the enhanced mentally abilities, she's able to move the protesters out of collateral damage range.

Well, maybe out of the X-Men's attack range but not out of Kuurth's.  As soon as the Worthy notices the people wandering off, he knows it's because of a psychic invasion.  The former Juggernaut smashes his hammer, scattering protesters all around the highway and toppling cars.  His acolyte explains that psychic attacks will not be tolerated.  Any attempt to telepathically remove the protesters will result in their deaths.

Well, that's just swanky.  Scott adds Cecilia Reyes to his combat crew.  She'll be able to use her forcefield to protect the protesters and if any of them get injured, she's a doctor.

OK, that's enough prep time.  It's time to see how this goes down.  Cyclops starts things off all personal-like by slugging out Kuurth's acolyte and then hitting the Worthy with a concusive blast.  Colossus gets phased up behind the former Juggernaut by Kitty and does his best to pry the head gear off Marko.  He's tossed backwards and caught by Iceman who then freezes Kuurth's helmet to absolute zero.  Colossus follows that up by giving the Worthy a punch to the face.

The results?  One crack.

No worries, the fight isn't done yet.  Kuurth punches Colossus right at the Orbit billboard (product placement, people!) as Magneto is called into the fight.  Magnus twists Kuurth's helmet into an odd shape.  The Worthy tosses the hammer.  Mags is unable to stop it with his magnetism.  Only Kitty Pryde's timely intervention prevents the Master of Magnetism from getting injured.

That's the end of Plan 1.  It didn't go well but at least they all learned that the helmet CAN be cracked.  When Mayor Sadie mentions that they'll be moving on the Plan "B" now (via telepathic conference call, still in progress), Cyclops tells her that it's actually Plan "2" because he has way more than twenty-six plans.

Next up, Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Dazzler move in for delaying tactics until Hope can get into position.

Along with Hope, Scott has all of the younger mutants brought into San Francisco.  They aren't going into combat.  They're kids and Summers would prefer they didn't get involved unless they have to.  There's also the risk that too many mutants attacking at once will amp up the risk of one of their own getting injured or killed.  Scott thinks that's what Kuurth is waiting for.  The Worthy could have killed them if he had wanted to.

No, the young mutants are being brought to the mainland so that Hope can access their powers.  That's sort of what she does.  Hope can take everyone's powers and use them together.  As Cyclops says, she won't last long with all that power running through her but they'll get her out of there once she's done.

With that, Hope takes in every one of the surrounding mutants' powers and charges the Breaker of Stone.  This time, Kuurth's helmet is torn off.  Marko's face is revealrd.  Hope passes out.  Emma takes over.

Or... she doesn't.  As we all figured before this went down, the Worthy is NOT weak against telepathic attack.  When Emma Frost tries to shut him down through Cerebra, she gets lost in his mind.  In the telepathic conference call, her form shatters with Cyclops and Mayor Sinclair still inside the mindscape.

Kuurth's acolyte joins them, delivering a new ultimatum.  It's either one race or the other.  If the humans turn on the mutants, San Francisco gets to live.  If the mutants return to Utopia and leave the humans to their fate, the mutants get to live.  Basically, if one group turns on the other, they get to live.  We can all guess how that would ACTUALLY turn out (the Worthy would still pick off whoever was left).

With the message delivered, the acolyte ends the conference call with a special message straight from his master.

So the question is: is Kuurth's boot ACTUALLY about their heads?  These panels are wierd.

The former Juggernaut's boot falls and the call is over.  Cyclops finds himself back on the battlefield streets of San Francisco.  Sadie Sinclair is back in her office.

The Breaker of Stone continues to walk towards the City, leaving those strange magical letters with every footfall.  Hope is passed out on the street but no one has come to pick her up.

Emma, connected to Cerebra back on Utopia, is still lost in Kuurth's mind.


Hulk #37Hulk #37
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Elena Casagrande

In this issue:

• MODOK gives us his recent history and what he's up to these days.

• Mockingbird gets patched up by Jarvis in Avengers Tower during Fear Itself.  Hawkeye joins her.

• As the two discuss battle tactics and stuff, Red Hulk shows up at Avengers Tower as the one Big Gun assigned to the city of New York.

• Angrir comes strolling up the street on his way to the ultimate confrontation with Rulk and Avengers Tower.

• MODOK considers his options and then sees his creation facing off against the super-charged, evil Thing.

• Avengers Tower falls.

• Zero/One sends Black Fog out to put an end to Red Hulk once and for all.

• MODOK decides to make a personal appearance when he sees that Rulk is going to be killed.

It has been a LONG time since Super Reads checked in on an issue of Hulk.  Hulk #13 in Super Reads War of Kings and Dark Reign 63, to be precise.  A lot has changed since that issue.  For one thing, Red Hulk didn't even appear in Hulk #13.  That issue focused on a depowered Bruce Banner and an A-Bombed up Rick Jones.  That means that Red Hulk has gotten very little face time in any Super Reads until he started showing up in Fear Itself.  Wierd, huh?

So let's start with the very basics and move on from there.  The Red Hulk is General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross.  He was consumed by his hatred of the Hulk and a desire to get his mostly dead daughter back to life to such a degree that he agreed to let some unscrupulous people make him into a Hulk to fix all of his problems.  As we all know, solutions like that just lead to MORE problems.  Still, Red Hulk has done all right.  Becoming an Avenger?  You've got to be doing something right.

As far as powerset and appearance goes, Rulk is red.  That's a no brainer.  He also has glowing yellow blood.  That's a little bit wierder.  His power levels are about the same as the normal Hulk but this one doesn't get stronger as he gets madder.  Instead, Red Hulk radiates heat.  The final big ingredient that sets the Red guy apart from his Green counterpart is an ability to absorb energy from his opponents.  This was supposedly taken away by Bruce Banner but MODOK tells us in this story that it's such an essential part of the Red Hulk that it can't be taken away.

It's this ability to absorb energy that has allowed the Red Hulk to do things that would have been impossible for pretty much anyone else.  Rulk punched the Watcher because he could absorb the Watcher's power.  It's a handy ability with only one real side effect.  If Ross continues to use it, he will lose the ability to turn back into human form.  It turns out that's an actual concern so Red Hulk tries to avoid using it.

We begin our issue with a history lesson on MODOK, the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing.  This is MODOK 2.0 and he's got a different objective than the previous version.  MODOK 1.0 was George Tartleton, an AIM scientist forced into an experiment against his will, resulting in the creation of he Mental Organism.  This version of MODOK led AIM and was instrumental in giving General Thunderbolt Ross his Hulk-like appearance.  Bruce Banner used his super science to change MODOK back into his human form.  This activated a number of failsafes, assembling a cloned body into the brand new MODOK.

This newer MODOK has a different mission than his past incarnation.  While he thinks that world conquest might be in his future, he doesn't feel it's a necessity.  In fact, he could very well go the route of the hero if he so desired.  The sky is the limit.  For now, he's just focusing on one person: Red Hulk.

MODOK has had some recent run ins with the Red Hulk and has set his gigantic brain on examining his quarry and learning how Thunderbolt Ross thinks.  To assist him, MODOK has an entire team of 700 series Life Model Decoys.  Of course, the first thing they single out is Rulk's very own LMD, "Annie."  This Life Model Decoy is from the 900 series and is advanced to the point where Rulk considers her more of an equal than a servant.  That's very interesting to MODOK.

Analyzing the last battle, MODOK notices a cloaked figure in his data.  While he doesn't know what this means, it's another part of the mystery that he will focus his mind on.  For now, he monitors the Red Hulk as Ross returns to Avengers Tower.

Let's head on over there before the General arrives.  Fear Itself is in full effect but the Blitzkrieg hasn't hit the city just yet.  So far, the Avengers have only had to deal with out of control rioting.  For an example of that, check out Fear Itself: Spider-Man.  For one reason or another, the New Avenger, Mockingbird has come to Avengers Tower for a little patching up at the hands of Avengers butler, Edwin Jarvis.  Hawkeye also shows up but I think he just needs some aspirin.

Reconciling these appearances with events in New Avengers #14 and Avengers #15 is... difficult.  Mockingbird probably works out better than Hawkeye.  Clint should be flying to Brazil to deal with the OTHER Hulk by this point (as per Fear Itself #3).  It's mainly a timeline issue since we know that Avengers Tower is going to fall soon after Blitzkrieg USA hits NYC (which happens in a couple tie-in issues prior to Fear Itself #4) and that Hawkeye would have been sent out with the other Avengers to deal with hammer touchdown points as of Fear Itself #2.  Someone could probably No-Prize this one away.  Me?  I'm just going to identify the problem for others to solve.

The two Avengers discuss the problems hitting New York and how Washington D.C. is getting bombarded by Nazi Mechs.  It's only a matter of time before that force strikes the NYC.  While it's understandable that Commander Rogers would be pulling in some strong fightings to deal with Washington D.C., Clint and Bobbi think that one of the heavy hitters should have been stationed in the Avengers' hometown.

And that's when Red Hulk makes his first appearance in his own comic.

Check out that look.

Ross explains that he probably isn't welcome in Washington so Rogers let him stick around New York to keep an eye on the place.  It doesn't take long for some major trouble to happen that could use the delicate touch of a Red Hulk.  A building topples.  Ross leaps down to give it his attention.

Figuring trouble is coming this way, Bobbie Morse tells Jarvis to evacuate the Tower.  It's possible that the butler listens to her and that only a few people (including Jarvis) need to be lifeboated away in Starktech Personel Forcefields.  It's also possible that Jarv doesn't listen to a word she says.  Either way, the butler doesn't abandon his post.

As far as Hawk and Mock go, they look at a video screen showing the Worthy version of Ben Grimm.  Then, they look to the sky and see the Blitzkrieg USA invasion force heading into the city.  It's officially on.

Below New York City, MODOK's LMDs go about figuring out what's going on.  MODOK fills in the details that he knows.  Nazi Mechs led by the daughter of the Red Skull, Sin, are entering the city, killing people and destroying property.  MODOK fully believes that the heroes will pull this one into the win category and opts for a wait and see approach.

Then one of his monitors gets a good look at what's happened to the Thing and the Mental Organism rethinks his earlier assessment.

As far as the Rulk/ Angrir fight, it plays out a lot like it did in Avengers #14.  We just get some fast forward details of the scuffle because it's not ACTUALLY the focus of this comic.  We've already seen this fight, after all.  The end result is the same.

MODOK's watching the fight an this is the point where he wonders why Thunderbolt Ross isn't using his energy absorption ability.  If Red Hulk took away Angrir's power, the fight would be won.  Easily.  If Rulk can knock out the Watcher, he can probably manage Angrir.  Probably.  The only answer is that Thaddeus Ross has come to value his humanity and won't give it up even if he's going to die in this battle.

Above the city, another Red Hulk threat lies in wait.  The woman with the circles running through her body is Zero/One.  Her history is revealed in more detail next issue.  For now, all you need to know is that the cloaked figure MODOK discovered earlier in the issue was one of her underlings, Black Fog, and that their mission is to kill the Red Hulk.  Zero/One is taken aback when Avengers Tower comes crashing down but something like this can still aid her mission.  She sends out Black Fog to end Thunderbolt Ross's life.

Now that MODOK knows what he's looking for, his sensors detect Black Fog's arrival on the scene even while the assassin is in stealth mode.  He makes an educated guess that Black Fog isn't actually in league with the Nazi Mechs.  Either way, it looks like this is the time when he'll need to enter the field for a personal visit.

When his LMDs ask why, he tells them, "I was there at the CREATION of the Red Hulk.  And I will be there at his END."

We leave this story with Red Hulk still buried in the ruins of Avengers Tower.  Before he gets back on his feet, there's a small opening where a cloaked Black Fog might be able to end Ross's life.  WILL THAT HAPPEN?

No.  Avengers #14 clearly shows Rulk getting up and re-engaging Angrir.  Find out why Black Fog misses his chance next issue!


Herc #5Herc #5
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Neil Edwards

In this issue:

• Hercules' worshipers won't stop worshiping at him.  For our purposes, they catch us up on the story.

• Herc is attacked by flying demon cops.  Griffin's wings are started on fire.

• After landing, Hercules faces off against Goblin Men.  An unlikely rescue comes from Man-Bull and Basilisk.

• The four of them end up in the subway when Basilisk is attacked by some nasty creature.  The Goblin Men continue their attack.  Our cast gets on the train.

• Which is a giant insect.

• After praying to Zeus, Hercules gets a visit from Hermes who is here to return Herc to Olympus.  The Lion of Olympus will be restored to godhood but will also be prohibited from returning to earth.  Herc declines.

• To Coney Island!

• Rhea is dragged to join Hercules' worshipers.  The others are all geeks.

• Seeing that there's no way to get close to Kyknos through open combat, Herc is changed to stone and dragged in by Basilisk and Man-Bull.  The villains claim to have joined the other side.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Hercules is not the god he used to be.  After Chaos War, the Lion of Olympus came back depowered.  He's still a muscle-bound guy, of course, so the adventuring continues.  It's just that he's not immortal and he's using mythological gadgets like the Shield of Perseus a lot more than just his brute strength.

His Fear Itself issues have been crazy.  The resurrected son of Ares, Kyknos, has been leading a Punisher-like group called the Warhawks.  They bully the streets in a desire to be in a constant state of war.  Adding to that is the Greek Witch-Goddess, Hecate, who has twisted Brooklyn with her magic.  In this warped reality, the two are trying to bring Ares back to life.

Fear Itself doesn't help matters since most of the people are insane with Fear.  Hercules took a garden shears in the back (from a little girl!) when he tried to maintain the peace last issue.  After a healing nap, he wakes up to find things much worse.  Yeah, this is the first he sees of Hecate's handiwork.

And through all of this, his three robed worshipers won't leave him alone.  They keep praying to him.  This is basically like you constantly calling your friends cell phone except Herc can't just block your calls and never talk to you again.  He has to hear all of these prayers.

The worshipers are a handy device to catch us up on the story thus-far, though.  We just did that in the first few paragraphs here.  That means it's time to move on.

Hercules gets on Griffin and decides it's time to take this battle straight to Kyknos.  In Herc #2, the Kingpin told him that the Warhawks keep their base on Coney Island.  That's the destination, then.

The problem with bringing the fight straight to Kyknos is that there's a lot of ground to be covered to get to Coney Island and every foot of it is extra dangerous on account of Hecate's spell.  People are demons.  Animals are monsters.  Gentle police officers on horseback have become demons on dragon mounts.  Herc can't actually kill these guys (it's kind of against his code) but that doesn't mean he can't kill their mounts.  In the middle of doing that, one of the dragons breaths some flames and hits the Griffin.

Herc and his own mount glide down to street level.  Once on the ground, Hercules works on putting out the fire.  It looks like Griffin's wings are no good for flying anymore.  That means it's hoofing it for the time being.

The next threat to come up are Goblin Men.  These guys used to be human so, again, no lethal force.

Before the Lion of Olympus can get his fight on, Man-Bull and Basilisk show up to bail him out.  Herc uses his shield to turn the Goblin creatures to stone and everyone gets a second to talk before the next terrible threat emerges.

Both Man-Bull and Basilisk have been in this comic since they broke out of the Raft in issue #3.  The villains tried to get out of Brooklyn when all the crazy started.  They decided that maybe sticking close to someone who understood all this magical mumbo jumbo would be a good idea.  When they saw Hercules and Griffin coming in for a landing, they made their way to him.

And now the crazy starts back up again with Basilisk being pulled into the subway station by a tentacle monster.  Basil even gets eaten before Herc gets down there for a quick save.  It's still one thing right after another.  The Goblin Men that were so recently stoned reappear even though they should technically still be stone.  It looks like Hecate's magic is messing a lot of things.

To escape all of this, Hercules and his allies board the next subway.

Which is a monster centipede.

At least it's on time.

This may be a creepy form of transportation but at least it's free of any more random attacks.  It actually gives the quartet a chance to think, talk, and trade ideas.  Basilisk's first thought is that they could maybe call in some Avengers to assist.  That idea dies as soon as the insect exits the tunnel and they get a good look at the New York skyline.  While what's happening in Brooklyn is unique, there's trouble all over the place.  Everyone is otherwise busy.  Brooklyn is up to these four.

We get an image of Thor fighting Angrir and Nul in Manhattan.  That places this comic at the end of Fear Itself #4/ beginning of Fear Itself #5, timeline-wise.

As more dragons close in on the centipede train, Man-Bull suggests that praying might be a good idea right about now.  With some irritation, Hercules agrees.  It's time to swallow some pride and pray to Zeus.

The answer comes quickly.  The sky opens up and lightning takes the dragons out of the equation.  Hercules expects to see Zeus himself come out of the decending whirlwind but instead he gets a messenger.  Hermes.

It's not exactly good news.  Hermes fills Hercules in on what Fear Itself is all about.  The Son of Zeus is ready to charge in with his fellow Olympians to teach this upstart uncle of Thor a lesson.  That's obviously not going to happen because it would be too awesome.  Zeus is taking a page from Odin's book and recalling his gods from earth.  Olympus is staying out of this one.  Hermes is here to bring Herc back to Olympus.

Now, as a mortal, Hercules isn't bound by Zeus' will.  That's why this message comes with a special offer: return to Olympus and get your godhood back.  That's not good enough for the hero.  If he gets his godly powers, he can help out earth much more readily but he won't be ALLOWED to do that.  Hercules declines the offer and throws his lot in with the rest of humanity.  Hermes is sad to hear it but says that Thor made a similar decision in defying Odin.

So Herc is in good company.

It's too bad that company isn't here right now because Hercules could use the back-up.  When Hermes leaves, the centipede train has gotten them to Coney Island.

MCU Park is the location for all the Warhawk activities and boy, they ARE activities... killing, fighting, "all versus all."  This is a place where constant warfare is the ideal.  Kyknos makes no secret that everyone will be sacrificed to return his father, Ares, to life.  Everyone seems fine with that.  The recently arrived Hercules believes there's something influencing the people, here.  Probably Hecate.

Our hero can't figure out a good way to infiltrate this place that utilizes his fighting skills.  Killing these people is out of the question but even if it wasn't, the odds aren't in their favor.  They'll need another plan... something where Man-Bull and Basilisk can be true to their natures...

While Herc formulates his plan (yes, Hercules!), we check in on some other Herc cast members.  Rhea, for example.  She's one of Hercules' new companions and has been helping him out as he re-establishes himself as the hero of Brooklyn.  She's not convinced that Hercules is an actual GOD but she knows that he's a hero.  Her belief system is about to be rocked.  Herc has talked about his worshipers invading his dreams but Rhea has just thought this was some of his eccentricities.  Now, she learns he wasn't just blowing smoke.

The girl in the Ares priestess gear is Helene.  We've seen her before.  She's the daughter of George Panayatou, the man who owns the restaurant where Hercules bartends.  She's also a Warhawk.  Rhea gets dragged through the crowd by Helene and thrown in with the rest of Hercules' followers.

The other followers are his worshipers.  They are geeks.  Rhea isn't pleased.

And now the crowd parts to admit some newcomers.  These guys claim that THEY should be given a place of honor in the resurrection of Ares.  Why?

Because they've just delivered a stoned Hercules to Kyknos.

Yes, it's Griffin, Man-Bull, and Basilisk.  Stay tuned!


Fantastic Four #99Fantastic Four #99
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this issue:

• The Fantastic Four start after their youngest member.  It seems Johnny Storm finally decided to go look for his girlfriend, Crystal.

• The Human Torch flies across the world to reach Attilan.  When it starts to rain, Johnny sets down in a cave.

• The rest of the FF fly after the Torch but get caught in a meteor shower.  It's never easy to do ANYTHING when you're a super-hero.

• Johnny is confronted by an Abominable Snowman.  When he uses his powers, the Snowman thinks that this is a fellow Inhuman.  When Storm doesn't relent his attack, Yeti runs off to warn the rest of Attilan.

• The Human Torch burns into Attilan and causes a fit.  When he demands an audience with Black Bolt, the Inhumans part and let him into the royal court.

• Since Crystal won't explain herself, the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family attack Johnny, trying to make him leave.

• That's not usually how things work.

• Reed repairs his ship and the rest of the Fantastic Four get on their way.

• In the royal court, Crystal gets into an argument with the Torch and uses her considerable powers on him.  Johnny flies away, heartbroken and determined to punish the entire Inhuman race.

• Reed stops him and Sue calms her brother down.

• It is learned that Crystal is here to help keep Black Bolt alive until Gorgon returns with a strength potion.  With some pressure added by the Thing, Johnny and Crystal make up.  For now.

June 1970!  Avengers #77, Iron Man #26, Captain America #126, Amazing Spider-Man #85, Daredevil #65, and Sgt. Fury #79 take the stands.  In Fantastic Four #99, a VERY minor hero makes his first, almost insignificant appearance.  Yeti.

Who's Yeti?

You might be wondering that if you never read Marvel: The Lost Generation.  This series details the heroes and villains that appeared between the Marvel/Atlas Golden Age and the modern era.  Yeti was one of those heroes.

So let's get right to the issue.  Don't blink!  You might miss a first appearance.

In Fantastic Four #95, Johnny Storm's girlfriend, Crystal, was taken back to the Inhuman City of Attilan by Medusa.  It was sudden and no real explanation was given at the time.  If you are Johnny Storm, then something like that will bother you.  It's taken him a while, but he finally gets it into his mind to fly off to Attilan and get his girl back.  Since he doesn't want to involve the rest of the team, Storm leaves a note and takes off alone.

This messes up everyone's plans.  Reed knows he can't leave Johnny alone Storm's own devices.  More than that, he would have helped the Human Torch if only the kid had asked.  Even though Thing and Alicia were planning a skiing trip and Reed and Sue were going to spend the day with their baby, the Fantastic Four will need to fly to Attilan instead.

Something tells me Reed isn't too broken up about not spending the day with Franklin.

The Human Torch has quite the head start on his teammates.  We see him flying through France (the Eifel Tower is a dead give-away) and continuing on behind the Iron Curtain.  He encounters NATO jet fighters and Soviet missiles on the way.  Nothing takes him down.

Until he flies into a simple storm.

We know that rain doesn't usually do much to the Human Torch.  He can keep his flame burning under normal conditions.  At this point, though, he's already been flying for quite a while.  Odds are he could use a break.

Johnny drops into a cave and waits for the rain to subside.  It's not letting up so he builds a fire and tries to take a nap.  It doesn't work so well.  He can't get Crystal out of his mind long enough for some shut-eye.

And then the Abominable Snowman pays him a visit.  That'll wake you up.  If you're wondering, this is Yeti's first appearance.

At the Baxter Building, the rest of the FF take off in their flying saucer and plot a course for Attilan.  Johnny might have a head start on them but with this high tech air vehicle, they'll cover the distance in no time.  I mean, they WOULD if the flying saucer didn't fly right into a meteor shower.

Reed's pretty sure his ship will survive the shower right up until the point where a gigantic flaming rock hits them straight on.

While our heroes go in for an emergency landing, we return to the rest of our adventure, already in progress.  Johnny doesn't take kindly to the Abominable Snowman waking him up and starts up with the fire show.  Yeti sees that Torch has powers and believes that he's a fellow Inhuman.  When his calls of brotherhood go unanswered, the Abominable one runs off to the entrance to Attilan to warn the rest of the city.

So it looks like Johnny was almost there when the rainstorm brought him in.  Unfortunately, he doesn't get the chance to follow Yeti into Attilan.  The Abominable Snowman is quick enough on the draw to lock up the gates after he goes through.

Not that this STOPS the Torch.  Johnny flames up and burns through the door.  Once inside Attilan, Storm starts breaking stuff.

Legitimate concerns.

Naturally, the Inhumans attack the Human Torch.  I mean, they have a right to defend their city.  No matter for Johnny, though.  He breaks through every defense.  When a platoon of soldiers finally surrounds him, Johnny Storm simply demands to see Black Bolt.

And they grant his request.

Here's a lesson for all of you Attilan troublemakers: When you're almost caught, tell them you want to see the King.  They'll let you through and won't even follow you in as guards.  You might even be able to mess with Black Bolt.

I mean, if he wasn't one of the more powerful dudes in the Marvel Universe and usually surrounded by the rest of the Royal Family.  The gang's almost all here.  Medusa, Triton, Karnak, Crystal, and Lockjaw.  The only one absent is Gorgon.  More on WHY later.

The Torch is here for his girlfriend but Crystal just yells at him for coming.  She's not giving a lengthy explanation why she's remaining here so Johnny just assumes his girlfriend is being held against her will.

Are you ready for the fight?  Good.  Triton, Medusa, and Karnak all attack Johnny.  They're within their rights, of course.  Even though it would be simple to just explain the situation and everyone is being purposely close-lipped on things for no good reason, you don't just go into a royal court and start throwing out threats.  It's lucky for Johnny that the Inhumans pull their punches for Crystal's sake.

Somewhere nearby but probably not near enough, the rest of the Fantastic Four has landed their flying saucer.  Reed has just finished repairs while Sue and Ben chat up the locals.  To get the ship off the ground, Ben is going to have to toss it since they'd need a proper launch pad otherwise.  The Thing does this and is then grabbed off the ground by Reed.  They are officially on their way.

Back in Attilan, the rest of the Royal Family has backed off so that Johnny and Crystal can talk.  Again, no one is saying WHY Crys is remaining in Attilan and that's too bad because it's a legitimate reason and would calm things down immediately.  No, instead, the two young lovers get into a stupid fight that results in Crystal unloading both barrels of her elemental powers on Johnny.

This hurts more than her piercing words.  Convinced that Crystal never loved him, Johnny flames on and takes off even though now it seems the Inhumans are finally willing to explain the situation.  Nah.  Now it's not really the time.  Scorned, the Human Torch flies off to take out his hurt feelings on all of the Inhumans by trapping them in Attilan with a giant fireball.

Before he can light up the flame completely, the rest of the FF arrives.  Reed uses an invention to absorb the raging teenager's fire.  Sue uses her older sister powers to talk Johnny out of being a villain.

Now, it's time to FINALLY learn why Crystal won't leave Attilan.  It turns out that Black Bolt injured himself in a scientific experiment and Crystal's powers were needed to keep the King alive until a more permanent means was delivered.  Gorgon is here right now with that cure: a strength potion.

So now that everything is explained, Crystal is still angry at Johnny for going all crazy in the head over his girlfriend leaving him without any explanation.  I mean, how dare he.  Thing pulls the two together and gets them to make up.  As Crystal and Johnny kiss, Thing thinks that he might still be able to make that ski trip.

So, the Yeti... This is that guy's first and chronologically speaking, last appearance.  It's possible that Yeti's appearance in X-Men: The Hidden Years takes place after this but either way you slice it, every other appearance of Yeti is a retcon and a flashback.  I'm betting Stan and Jack didn't have any further plans to use the character.  I think Jack Kirby just though it would be cool to add the Abominable Snowman into the Marvel Universe and no one gave it a second thought until Marvel: The Lost Generation.  That's when Roger Stern and John Byrne filled in all those missing years between the Golden Age and the sliding Modern Era.  Yeti became a member of the super-hero team, Frontline.  While he was later duped into serving the Skrulls, he still thought he was doing the heroic thing.

There's about a five percent chance that someone will remember Yeti.  Maybe lower.  Anyway, this gave me an excuse to Super Read one of the last Stan Lee/ Jack Kirby issues of Fantastic Four and I took it.  Jack Kirby would leave the book with Fantastic Four #102 (some of his unused pencils would be modified for FF #108).  Stan Lee would take off with issue #115 (scripted by Archie Goodwin), return with Fantastic Four #120, and leave again at FF #125.  This is end of an era stuff.  Maybe we'll come back to these issues later on if I can come up with a good reason.  For now, we call it a day.

And it's about time!  This thing was GIGANTIC.  Now that we're done, I hope you all step away from your computer.  Hug your loved ones.  Enjoy the sunshine.

And come back for the next, much shorter Super Reads. ;)

Until then:  Excelsior!

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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About the Author - SuperginraiX


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

 


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