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Super Reads 156

A bunch of wierdos.Let's spice this place up!

Today, we check out Fear Itself: The Home Front #5, Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #3, Fear Itself: Deadpool #3, Avengers #16, Avengers Academy #18, Journey Into Mystery #626, Invincible Iron Man #507, Thunderbolts #162, Uncanny X-Men #542, and Blast to the Past for Avengers #'s 85 & 86.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!
Super Reads 156
Another big week 'o comics so let's get move it, move it.

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

Without further ado...

Fear Itself: The Home Front #5Fear Itself: The Home Front #5
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike Mayhew

In this story:

• Speedball saves himself from a watery death in St. John's Newfoundland.

• After saving a life, Speedball gets contacted by Jocasta.  Jo shows up with all her bodies to perform rescue operations.  The downside to this is that Robbie can't help because his powers would mess with the Jo-bots' sensors.

• Speedball starts making videos of all the people helping each other and sends it to Miriam Sharpe.

• Sharpe watches the video and then gets the ball rolling on making more and sending them out over the internet.

• These inspiring videos are seen by the Sisters of Sin (while they are killing a bunch of people).  They decide to pay Miriam Sharpe a visit and tell her how they feel.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Last issue, Nerrkod destroyed the city of St. John's, Newfoundland despite Speedball's best effort to save the place.  In fact, up until the second panel of this story, we're not really certain if Speedball lived after last issue.

OK, that's a lie.  This is a seven part story and it would be wierd if the hero died in the fourth part.  It's possible but no one actually thought he died.  Right?  Good.  Let's move on.

Now, if you're a super-hero who blames himself for the deaths of a bunch of innocent people (Stamford, Connecticut-- pay attention), then you're going to be even more torn that you stood by helpless as a whole town was flooded.  Now, we all know that Speedball did everything he could but against a Worthy, he couldn't match that level of raw power.  Robbie gave it his best effort which helped stave off disaster for at least an extra fifteen minutes.

Which was just long enough for the people to connect to the internet and spread more Fear as they texted their own deaths.

Speedball sits reaches a rooftop and starts crying because of all the people he couldn't save.  Then, he hears the first of many survivors.  The former New Warrior leaps into action and saves his first life in Newfoundland.  This lady is clinging desperately to a pole sticking out of the water.  Robbie reaches her and then bangs his head against the pole to get the kinetic power to leap to safety.

With that one rescue down, Speedball finally hears from Jocasta.  She's been monitoring the situation and decides to join him in St. John's to help.  When Jo comes to help, she brings all of herself to the party.

What I mean by that is that the Infinite Mansion that is the home for the Avengers Academy houses a LOT of Jocasta bodies.  Jocasta can switch between bodies at will but can only inhabit one at time.  So how are all these extra bodies moving around?  Basic programming.  Jo is looking over them and having them run a simple life saving program.  If they need to perform a complex action, Jocasta can move her consciousness around and get the job done.

While Jocasta and her robot duplicates race around saving people, Speedball is stuck in timeout.  His energy signature would probably mess up the basic programming of the Jocasta-bots.  Robbie's not happy with this but he stays put.  With the day he's having, Baldwin deserves the break even if he doesn't want it.

Speedball's probably the only one thinking about home buying at a time like this.

As he watches the rescue operation, Speedball notices that it's not just Jocasta helping out.  Ordinary people are pitching in any way they can.  They aren't even thinking about it.

If only the world could see this kind of thing.  People helping people in the face of tragedy.  It's what communities do even if they aren't Canadians.  Oh, yeah.  Robbie's got access to the super internet.

In Stamford, Connecticut, Miriam Sharpe is watching all of the destruction happening all over the world.  Mostly New York because that's all we care about, right?

Right.

It looks like the the Serpent's flying fortress is leaving New York City and heading elsewhere.  Heroes are leaving the battlefield and many people speculate that the good guys have given up and gone home.  The reporter thinks this is where they should be, too.

So that's depressing.  Let's get going with the plot.  Miriam gets a message on her computer from Speedball, showing video of rescue efforts in St. John's.  He tells her to make it available to everyone.  Give the people some hope.

Speedball bounces around St. John's getting everyone's stories.  There are some good ones here.  One guy had a boat he wasn't using and decides to get out on it and save lives.  There's the nurse who lost her handicapped mother when the tidal wave hit who is helping others out through her tears.  One guy has a story about how his puppy saved his life and how he's going out trying to save as many dogs as he can.

My favorite story, though, is the guy manning the lighthouse.  He started out looking for Nerkkod's return and ended up pointing out people in the water for rescue workers.  That's what he's focusing on now.  When Speedball asks him if he's afraid, he replies, "Before, maybe, now... what else can he do?  That the thing about Fear.  You're scared 'a what MIGHT HAPPEN.  When it actually does... when they do their worst to you... what's left to be afraid of?  No.  I ain't afraid any more.  I'm MAD."

Back in her office, Miriam Sharpe sees this video and is inspired.  After all, she started this whole story saying that the heroes weren't going to save people.  It was the PEOPLE that would be doing the saving.  Well, here's their chance.  Sharpe gets a hold of the people in Salem, Missouri.  That's the town that got torn through by Kuurth (Juggernaut) in Fear Itself: The Home Front #3.  It's time to send a message to the world.

And that message continues in Stamford where the community has gotten together to help those that need it.  Miriam records this and tells the world (at least the ones that can still get online) that this is what you do during a crisis.  You could go out and loot and try to get whatever you can before it's gone or you can pull together and help each other.  Both those things are going on in the world.

Miriam tells those that are looting and rioting that they don't get any help doing that.  They are alone.  The rest of the world, the ones helping the others, they stand united.

It's a pretty nice thing to hear in a circumstance like this and it's accompanied by the world pulling together and some less positive scenes of looting and stealing.  I'm sure that many people see this and get that message.

Then... there are some other people seeing it.  We'll call them the bad guys.  More specifically, we'll call them the Sisters of Sin.  They're busy killing other people that were watching this on their laptop.  One of them, Sister Death, doesn't like what she sees.  It's time to send a message right back the Miriam Sharpe.

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Alessandro Vitti

In this story:

• X-23, Amadeus Cho, Spider-Girl, Power Man, and Thunderstrike are suddenly teleported to a ship in the middle of the Pacific.

• Thunderstrike picks a fight with everyone.

• Because he's the most unlikeable person you're ever going to meet.

• Mini-fights happen.  Tempers are cooled only to flare up again.

• Power Man tries to absorb some environmental Chi only to get nothing for his efforts but a bad prophesy in a dead language.

• When he says it out loud, the other creatures on board the ship come out and translate.

• They're Japanese Samurai Man-Sharks.  They want to sacrifice these kid heroes to their king.

If you're confused, so are they.  X-23, Amadeus Cho, Spider-Girl, Power Man, and Thunderstrike find themselves on a ship in the middle of the Pacific.  This is a sudden occurrence and none of them knows HOW they got here or WHY they're here.  All I can tell you is that the ship has the mark of the Serpent on it's side.  So it's Fear Itself relevant.

The new Thunderstrike is a complete douche.  Since he falls on the Norse side of things to Amadeus' Olympian preferences, he targets Cho with an unending amount of pure dickery.

Amadeus mostly keeps it together, giving the rest of the heroes a heads up on their location (right in the Pacific Ocean) using his heavily modified Gameboy.  Thunderstrike won't leave him alone, though.  Words are said that can never be unsaid.

Spider-Girl and X-23 stand to the side of the others and talk about how the boys are swinging their metaphorical dicks around.  Which are metaphors, of course.  X-23 proves that she's not really ready for a social situation with her robotic emotions.  She also keeps smelling the air.

Before Thunderstrike and Amadeus Cho come to blows, Power Man (yes, POWER MAN) separates them.  That's something you wouldn't expect since he tends to be a hothead.  What we do expect is that after Thunderstrike starts taunting him, Power Man kicks some T-Strike butt all across the deck.  That's what you get when you mess with Iron Fist's student.

Of course, that makes Power Man the trouble maker.  Spider-Girl webs him up and then does the same to Amadeus.  It's time to figure out what the hell is going on.

Anya (that's Spider-Girl) tells everyone that she was in Midtown handling riots (while Thor fought Angrir and Nul nearby) when she was suddenly whisked away to this ship.  X-23 follows up by mentioning the battle between Kuurth and the X-Men what she would like to get back to.  Unleashing her claws, she tells the others that they aren't the only ones on this ship.  She's been sniffing the air, see.  Something bad is on this thing.

Of course, Thunderstrike picks a fight with the mutant clone of Wolverine.  This dude... I want to punch him in the face for being antagonistic for no good reason.  Maybe I'd understand if I would have read his mini-series but he appearance here doesn't make me want to go seek that out.

One guy who is totally awesome, Amadeus Cho, thinks very hard about that Thunderstrike mace.  Giving it a tap with his own Adamantine Mace, the Prince of Power steps back to watch the fireworks.  Whatever he did, it causes Thunderstrike's mace to drop to the ground, returning the @$hole hero to his human form, Kevin Masterson.

Cho gets a good laugh at Kevin's expense.  The other kid taps his walking stick on Amadeus' head and returns to his antagonistic alter ego.  We're about to hit another fight scene when everyone notices Power Man slumped over in pain.

It seems that Victor Alvarez (that's Power Man) tried using his powers to absorb the ambient Chi in the area and got a negative return on his investment.  That should be impossible because even inanimate objects should have some Chi to spare.  Along with all of this, Victor picked up a message that he couldn't understand.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh totaro samebit wgah'nagl fhtagn."

Just saying those impossible words gets a response from something just off panel.  The ship shakes, too.

Shouldn't... have... skipped... breakfast...

So what do those classy words that Power Man spoke mean?

"In their dread house the warriors of the king of darkness wait dreaming."

So that sounds like they're going to be facing puppy dogs armed with rainbows, right?  Of course.

Instead, they fight Japanese Samurai Man-Sharks!  Party time!

Writer: Howard Chaykin
Artist: Howard Chaykin

In this story:

• Mr. Fear is upset because his Fear Gas is doing nothing when everyone is already about as scared as they can possibly get.

• He's also upset that someone thought he was Dr. Doom.

• I don't know.  I think Doom would be an upgrade.

Here's your one pager for this anthology issue.  It's all about fright-based bad guy, Mr. Fear.  Since there are multiple Mister Fears out there, this one is Alan Fagan, the third official Mister Fear.  While most of the Mister Fears choose Daredevil as their nemesis, Fagan went up against Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends a lot more often, having his first appearance in Marvel Team-Up.

So what's a fear-based bad guy to do when the whole world is scared out of their minds?  Turns out they mope around and feel a complete lack of respect.  His fear gas isn't making anyone more scared than they already are.  It's embarrassing.

He still walks around New York in full costume, TRYING to keep his name out there to no avail.

In his narration, Fagan mentions that someone even mistook him for Doctor Doom.  This is an insult I guess because it means they don't recognize him as Mister Fear.  Still, if you could get away with being Dr. Doom... I'd probably go with that.

Not Alan Fagan, though.  He just sulks his way through his one-page adventure.

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jason Latour

In this story:

• American Eagle takes in a bunch of idiotic drug dealers.

• In a meeting with the Mayor of Bleachville, we learn that both Bleachville and the Navajo Nation have bids in on a wind farm.  Racist things are said.  Tensions build.

• Grafitti shows up around both the town and the reservation indicating that the great spirits are kind of pissed off about things.

• The Bleachville Sheriff is found dead and scalped.

• The police come to arrest the Navajo chief.  And to punch him.  Professionalism isn't on the table, people.

• The Ghosts of America return to wreck havok on the white man.  They lead the Native Americans to Bleachville.

• Which is where American Eagle punches one of them out because they're actually the drug dealers from the beginning of the story.  They were working for the Mayor.  Surprise!

• The communities reconnect at a barbecue.

Welcome to the Navajo Nation.  Or, more correctly, just east of the Navajo Nation.  This is the land of Jason Strongbow, the American Eagle.  It's also a place where drug addiction is rampant and makes it into the Navajo Nation by some moronic drug dealers.

These guys usually don't turn much of a profit because they use probably just as much as they sell.  As they drive into the Nation, one of them sees a Navajo on the road and tries to hit him.  This is American Eagle and running him over would just make him angry.

Instead, he gives the truck a punch, sending it on it's back.  The drug dealers are handed over to the local sheriff, a good man who is unconsciously racist.  You know the type.  They're the ones that don't believe their racist so they think they can say horribly racist things because they don't really mean them?  That kind.  The sheriff tells Jason that the mayor of the local town wants to see him and the Navajo chief and drops some stereotypical Native American slurs in the conversation without really thinking about it.  Strongbow just lets it go because the sheriff isn't trying to be disrespectful.

We move locations to that nearby town, Bleachville.  The mayor meets with Jason and the Navajo chief to discuss the building contract for a wind farm.  It seems that both Bleachville and the reservation have put in bids for it and both areas REALLY need the income.  Mayor Reed hints that there will be more drug dealers coming into the Nation if the chief doesn't pull out from his bid.  He also drops some more racist comments into the convo.

Jason is hoping that his chief will explain the situation rationally but instead, the Navajo Nation chief just gets angry about the racism and leaves.

When the sun goes down, the grafitti starts showing up both on the Rez and in Bleachville.  The message is the same.  The Great Spirits are angry.  This is all happening right in the middle of Fear Itself so you know that tensions are already hightened to the breaking point.  Both communities are right there on the edge.

Which is about the time that the Sheriff is found dead in an alley, surrounded by more angry Native American grafitti.

The Navajo Chief is checking out the internet at his home and seeing how the Fear is spreading throughout the world when a cop shows up to punch him in the face.  This cruel and unusual (and I think illegal) arrest is happening because the Sheriff was scalped.  The Chief is a prime suspect.  I'm betting half the Navajo Nation is also on that suspect list.  The police are naturally upset since the Sheriff was one of them.  The Chief is also upset because the Sheriff, despite his unthinking words, was a good man.

Before the Chief can be taken into custody, the Ghosts of America show up.

My hand looks like it's actually coming right out at you!

And these guys are spoiling for a fight.  When they call for the Navajo to rise up and attack Bleachville, the Chief is the first in line.  They march on the town in silence.

Mayor Reed is leading the defense of Bleachville.  Someone's going to get killed if this isn't stopped.

Which is about when American Eagle slugs one of the Ghosts of America in the face.

Now, I didn't go into specifics after these "spirits" show up but pretty much everything they've been saying is inaccurate.  They've got the Navajo culture all wrong.  They've got their history wrong.  They just didn't put very much thought into this.

These are those idiotic drug dealers from the begining of the story hopped up on Mutant Growth Hormone.  The people of the reservation weren't fooled.  They turn to the police of Bleachville who were but try to go easy on them.  After all, they're trying to keep the peace, here.

When the idiots are threatened, they give up who's behind all of this.  If you're surprised that it's Mayor Reed, then go sit in the corner.  He REALLY wanted that Wind Plant contract so much that he was willing to kill a good man to get it.  The police (who WEREN'T in on any of this) arrest Reed on the spot.

But they don't know how to make this right.  Things have been said.  A Navajo Chief was punched for no good reason.  How do you put something like this behind you?  The Chief has a suggestion.

They have a barbecue.


Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #3Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #3
Writer: Brandon Montclare
Layouts/ Penciler/ Artist: Tom Grummett/ Ray-Anthony Height/ Henry Flint

In this issue:

• The nineties Fantastic Four show up and totally don't save the day.

• After rallying, Howard realizes that the FF are in the thrall of the Psycho-Man.

• Jennifer tries saving lives on Yancy Street but is underappreciated.

• Psycho-Man gets his robotic mitts on the Absolute Annihilator.  It doesn't work.

• When Howard gets the device back, it functions perfectly, wiping the Fantastic Four and Psycho-Man (or robotic equivalent) right out of existance.

• Trying to use the Annihilator on Man-Thing, Howard finds that it, again, doesn't work.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Here's what you missed in the last two issues of the Fearsome Four:

Nothing of any import.

OK, fine.  Howard the Duck lead an impromptu hero team around New York in a search for the Man-Thing who is all hopped up on Fear power.  This group, dubbed the Fearsome Four, is comprised of Nighthawk (who's gone a lot more crazy than usual), She-Hulk (the normal green one we know as Jennifer Walters), and Frankenstein's Monster (who speaks more eloquently than his Universal Studios equivalent).  This put them at odds with the Psycho-Man, a cosmic level terror from the Microverse who is here to harvest the Fear powers from the Man-Thing.  After some fighting between pretty much everyone, the Fantastic Four show up.

And by "Fantastic Four," I mean the short-lived nineties version.  Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, and the Grey Hulk.  They aren't the current versions of our heroes and they are a little off character.

Which doesn't mean that Howard the Duck doesn't try his best to recruit them to his side.  Howard has it in his mind to save the Man-Thing from destruction and manipulation.  Some of his teammates aren't as set on those goals.  This Fantastic Four team isn't going to see eye to eye with the Duck, either.  They see the Man-Thing and just see a threat.

Fight.

The Fantastic Four split off and each take on a different member of the Fearsom Four.  Howard the Duck is quite taken with the name "Fearsome Four," by the way.  He uses it a lot in this book like he's trying to get everyone to commit to the team name.

Like I said: there's something off with the Fantastic Four.  They are saying their most cliched lines while fighting our... I guess we can call them heroes.  What's even more messed up is that it's NIGHTHAWK that turns the tide.  I'm not saying Nighthawk is a useless hero.  He's the first Marvel Batman that I can name off the top of my head.  At the same time, he bests Wolverine and Spider-Man with EASE and follows it up by helping Frankenstein's Monster beat up Ghost Rider.

Frankenstein's Monster is an apologetic fighter.

Really, the only Fantastic Four member that's living up to his rep is the Grey Hulk.  Howard runs over to help Jennifer with that problem.  Jen isn't doing well against this alternate version of her cousin.  He's mashing her into the ground with a vengeance.

You know that Howard isn't a match for the Hulk.  ANY Hulk.  That's why he's hoping for some timely assistance from the Man-Thing.  Yep, that just happened.  Even though the Man-Thing is supposed to be "mindless," it seems it knows it's friends when it sees them.

At least She-Hulk gets a break.

Now that Howard is given a moment to think, he realizes that Psycho-Man is controlling the Fantastic Four through their fear.  All of this is mostly a delaying tactic so that Man-Thing can suck up even more Fear energy.  The Fearsome Four comes back together at about the same time the Fantastic Four does the same.

Round Two.

The rematch between Grey Hulk and She-Hulk goes about the same as Round One except this time Jennifer gets punched all the way to Yancy Street.  When she's there, Jennifer sees some people in danger and goes right into hero mode.  The problem with this is that the people she's rescuing still haven't gotten over the Thing's heel turn.  They see She-Hulk and don't trust her.  Garbage is tossed at her.  Words are said.  In a rage, Jennifer smashes the large vat that she just caught and thinks about going "back where [she] belongs."

Otherwise, the fight is your basic hero on hero action (not a porn).  Psycho-Man keeps on sucking up Fear from Man-Thing.  The Fantastic Four's second charge goes better for them than it does for the Fearsome guys.  Howard the Duck decides that maybe it's time to use that little trinket he's been palming since the first issue.

Except that as soon as he takes it out, the Psycho-Man pulls it away from the Duck.  This is the Absolute Annihilator and it can only be used by someone who "controls his FEAR."  Of course, that kind of guy would be Psycho-Man, right?  The villain calls his allies to him and activates the device.

Except it doesn't work for the Psycho-Man.  It looks like the Microverse villain isn't as in control as he's like to be.  As the Fantastic Four and Psycho-Man recover, She-Hulk drops in on them.  The bad guys scatter with the impact.  The Absolute Annihilator goes flying...

...right into the hands of Howard the Duck.  In his hands, the device works perfectly.  In one blast, the Fantastic Four and Psycho-Man cease to exist.

Now, that was a thing.  Howard never told any of his allies what this device did and they wonder why he didn't use it on the Man-Thing in the first place.  Howard explains that he was trying to save the Man-Thing and didn't plan on killing his friend.  Each of his teammates work on convincing him that this is what Man-Thing would want.  The Duck sees this too.  Even though the Man-Thing doesn't do any talking, the creature has been holding it together, waiting for Howard to use the device on it.

So Howard the Duck fires the Absolute Annihilator on his friend.  Except, again, it does nothing.

That's too bad because Man-Thing is just about ready to blow the lid off of New York City, fire-style.


Fear Itself: Deadpool #3Fear Itself: Deadpool #3
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Penciler: Bong Dazo

In this issue:

• Deadpool learns that his healing factor is negated as long as that hammer is glowing.  After trying a few tricks, Wade gives up and leaves town.

• Werewolves wait on the edge of Cimarron, hoping that the hammer don't hurt 'em.

• Deadpool meets up with Larry and Moe.  Stories are exchanged.  A rematch is planned.

• Round two goes a little better than round one until DP's fangirl gets in the way of the action.  That's when Wade gets beat down yet again.

• Giving up a second time, Deadpool reveals the location of some Confederate gold.  It's in the sheriff's vault.

• It isn't really but this gets Walrus off the streets and into a place where the moon doesn't shine.  It also gives Deadpool access to a shotgun.  The Walrus is defeated.

• But the werewolves have already made off with that gold.

• Deadpool teams up with Larry and Moe to go kick some werewolf @$$.  The ever lovin' blue eyed end!

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Oh, plots.

Here's the deal:  Through a complex series of events, Deadpool found himself in possession of what looked like an ordinary hammer.  Seeing what was going on in the world due to Fear Itself, Wade Wilson thought up a way to either score some loot or at least engage in as much shenanigans as possible.  Blinging out the hammer, he convinced loser villain, the Walrus, that it was one of the Worthy hammers.  The two tormented the town of Cimarron, New Mexico.  After the Walrus had gone on a spree of destruction for a whole day, Deadpool showed up to defeat the villain and collect his reward.

Which is about the time the whole plan goes out the window.  That ordinary hammer?  Not so ordinary.  It is actually a tool for killing werewolves.  When it's in the light of the full moon, it rings, preventing healing factors from working.  That means ANY healing factor.  Wilson takes a hit and won't stop bleeding.

This is why we start out this mission on the magical mystery tour.  DP got hit so hard, it sent him straight up into an acid trip.  Yeah, that happens.

When Wilson gets his mind back to some sort of working order, he finds that Walrus is about to drop that hammer right on his head.  That is a narrowly-avoided fate.  Deadpool realizes that he's not healing and decides to switch to his Avatar of Destruction identity in an attempt to trick the Walrus into stopping his attack and maybe giving up that hammer.

Unfortunately, Walrus recognizes Deadpool's voice.  He pulls of Wade's second mask and the jig is up.

Meanwhile, in an entirely different plot, an army of werewolves gets ready to assault Cimarron.  They're snarling and howling at the moon like proper werewolves should until one of the more astute lupines gets a visual on the feared hammer.  The army decides to wait this one out for a while.

Inside Cimarron, things are NOT going Deadpool's way.  His super fangirl is certain that this is just part of Wade's master plan.  It's also part of that plan to surrender.  Deadpool limps off the battlefield to relative safety, leaving the citizens of Cimarron to the tender mercy of a man who dresses up in a Walrus suit.

It's not a great night to be Deadpool.  It's a worse night for the townspeople.  Considering Wilson brought all of this down on them, we don't feel that bad for him as he mopes his way out of town.

Which is when Larry and Moe come back into the plot.

That moon reminds me of Joe the Volcano.

Larry and Moe are our werewolf hunters.  They first appeared in issue #1, helping Deadpool design security systems for yuppies and even gave him the town of Cimarron as the location of their next job (which turned out to be a werewolf hunting thing instead of a construction thing).  Their truck was destroyed by a special op werewolf in that first issue and Deadpool found the perfectly ordinary hammer in the wreckage.  While I gave them the names "Larry" and "Moe" as shorthand in the first issue, one of them actually IS named Larry.  The other one is still unnamed so I'll keep him as "Moe."

Deadpool warns them about the Walrus attack on Cimarron and then fills the two in on everything that's gone on since they went their separate ways in the first issue.  Larry and Moe are shocked to learn that Deadpool has done all of this with their hammer.  Moe pulls Wilson close and yells at him because of the impending werewolf attack.

DP just got bounced around by that hammer and is reluctant to go back... and then he sees the deadpan look on Larry and Moe's face and figures "what the hell."

Cimarron has been pretty banged up by this point.  In fact, the Walrus has run out of things to smash... until he gets a good look at the cowering citizens all huddled in one building.

Deadpool to the rescue!  The first thing he does is hit the Walrus with a car, to the delight of his fangirl.  From there, it's snappy patter and fighting.  Wade holds his own for a while but his fangirl gets too close, distracting the Merc with a Million Monthlies long enough for the Walrus to sink his fake tusks into Wilson's shoulder.  That's a turning point in Round Two.  The rest of this fight is basically, hammer, hammer, goo goo ga joob.  I bet he's REALLY regretting not bringing any weapons for this fight.

Which is when Deadpool gives up for a second time.  He's had enough of this fight.  It's not working out for him.  He tells the mayor that they can KEEP their Confederate gold (that was going to be his reward).  Walrus hears the word "gold" and his ears perk up.  Wade gives him the 4-1-1 on the gold, saying that it's in the sheriff's station, and then hobbles away for a second time.

This is the second time the Walrus has been in the sheriff's station.  The first time was the night before when he tied up all the lawmen and threw them into a jail cell.  When he enters this time, the Walrus notices that his hammer stops glowing (it's out of the moonlight) but isn't too concerned since Deadpool is gone for good.  He yells at the sheriff for not telling him about the gold but that just perplexes the lawman.

There's no gold in these here parts.  Just a lot of guns.  Enter: The Deadpool.

Round three is all Wade Wilson.  Well, there's a Beatles pun thrown in that's awesome but it's mostly Wade Wilson and his shotgun.  The Walrus goes down, Deadpool grabs the hammer and returns upstairs to stop a werewolf invasion.

Larry and Moe inform DP that the Werewolves won't be coming.  They saw the hammer and decided to no-show.  That'll go on their record.  For Deadpool, this is just another win.

So Deadpool's fangirl is happy because Wade didn't actually cut and run (except he did that first time).  Deadpool's happy because now he gets that Confederate gold reward.  The townspeople are happy because they all get to live.  It's win/win/win!

Except for that Confederate gold thing.  No, the town ACTUALLY had the gold, they just don't have it anymore.  The werewolves didn't stay as far away as we were led to believe.  They just didn't come in all noisy.  The werewolf army stole the gold and left, unnoticed.  We get a panel of Sir Lupos paying out his werewolves with the gold.  It's a wierd sub-plot.

And so: Walrus is picked up by an ambulance and treated for all those shotgun wounds.  Deadpool teams up with Larry and Moe to hunt down werewolves so he can get his gold reward.  Deadpool's fangirl got a chance to meet her hero.  Good times.


Avengers #16Avengers #16
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita Jr.

In this issue:

• Welcome to the moment after James Barnes has been killed but before Steve Rogers puts the Captain America suit back on.

• It's not a good place to be.

• Maria Hill gets word on where Sin is.  Steve and the three Avengers liasons take on the mission.

• Instead of finding Sin, they find Master Man and the Exiles.  Basically, trouble.

• Some Exiles are killed.  Before Commander Rogers can defeat or be defeated by Master Man, the castle they're in tumbles down.

• This is courtesy of Quake.  Daisy Johnson feels terrible for this when she learns that the original Captain America was inside at the time.

• Sin isn't there.  In the closing Oral History, Captain America has an emotional moment for his lost friend.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Now, I know what long time Super Readers are thinking.  They think I'm going to use this issue as another platform to spread my "Where the hell did Commander Rogers go in Fear Itself #3 when he SHOULD have been coordinating the defense of Washington D.C.?"  In fact, I was originally told that THIS issue would solve that mystery.  It doesn't.  As far as my gripe, I'm still hoping to get an answer by the end of this series.  Just keeping the question fresh for all you people. ;)  I won't mention it any more in this article.  You are welcome.

What this story shows is a moment in Steve Rogers' life right between Fear Itself #3 and #4.  James Buchanan Barnes is dead.  Steve is still in his Commander Rogers suit.  He's suffering.  He's also back aboard the Quincarrier.

The issue follows the Oral History of the Avengers that has been used as a narration device for both Avengers and New Avengers throughout Fear Itself.  We get Avengers such as Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Hercules, Spider-Woman and more telling us what's been going on in Fear Itself and how it affects this story.  The basics for that are listed above.

The only other bit that is pretty important is WHO did the killing.  James Barnes was killed by Skadi, the Herald of the Serpent.  She is better known in most super-hero circles as Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull.  Sometimes, she's also called the Red Skull because of that burned mug of hers.  Whatever she's called, she has just hit the Sentinel of Liberty in a very touchy place.

Much of Captain America's post Golden Age adventures have referenced the death of Bucky at the tale end of World War II.  It's one of those defining moments for the character and something he never got over no matter how much time had passed.  James was his partner for years.  You don't walk away from his death undamaged.  When Barnes showed up alive but without an arm and full of memory loss, it didn't negate the guilt of leaving a soldier behind.  Steve has had time to make that as right as possible but I bet it's something that was still bothering him.

And now, Bucky's dead again.  This time, he was wearing a Captain America suit that Steve Rogers had asked him to keep wearing.  That's a whole new level of guilt.  We've Steve deal with this quietly in the pages of Fear Itself but this is the first time we get to see him react in any depth.

Joining the narration cycle is Avengers Liason and Coordinator, Maria Hill.  She tells us that they keep track of some of the bigger world threats, trying to catch leads and handle problems before they rage out of control (that usually doesn't work too well but give them points for trying).  Sin is newer to this list but they've got a small but growing file on her insane activities.  Following Bucky's death, some sources place Skadi at a castle in Helsingborg, Sweden.

I mean, instead of leading the Blitzkrieg in its path to New York City.  Which is where she ACTUALLY is.

Whatever the case, this seems like a plausible lead and Steve Rogers jumps on it.  Since he doesn't want to spook Sin into leaving the safe confines of this castle, he orders no one be taken off the front lines.  Instead, Rogers takes his three Avengers Liasons on some mission impossible action.

...

OK, let's just say that after Washington was done getting pummelled, Skadi disappeared and so it became plausible that she might be vacationing in Sweden for a few hours before the Blitzkrieg hits NYC.  Let's just pretend that part is completely logical.  Let's keep in mind that Steve Rogers is coordinating the defense of the United States from a bunch of Nazi Mechs as well as Fear riots, Worthy, and any other super-villain trying to use this chaos to their advantage.  Let's remember that when Rogers is in the field, someone else has to do that job.  Now, let's think of who that would be.

First on the list is Maria Hill.  Second is Sharon Carter.  Maybe Victoria Hand is up there, too.  The point is, he's just taken his whole command staff with him on a secret mission to Sweden.  Who's minding the ship?  Did they put the war on autopilot?

And I know there are other leaders out there doing their thing.  Prodigy is taking care of the volunteer Initiative.  The various team leaders are taking care of their groups.  That still leaves Rogers and his team trying to keep the big picture in perspective.  This very issue makes a clear point that Commander Rogers, Maria Hill, and Sharon Carter are directing defensive efforts to the best of their ability.  I get that Steve's gonna go on this one whether anyone else likes it or not.  He still should have left Hill or Carter to mind the store.

Regardless, these four individuals get their infiltration on.  They sneak up on the castle and then split into two team (Steve and Sharon & Maria and Victoria).  They both sneak in different directions, leading into...

...a trap.

I just imagine Sharon and Steve are having issues after Avengers Prime.

Like I said earlier, there's no way Sin/Skadi/Red Skull is here.  She's way too busy for a European vacation.  In her place, we find a Master Man as well as the Exiles.  I say "a" Master Man because I'm not sure who this one actually is.  There have been a number of Master Men over the years.  I remember the first Master Man, Willie Lohmer, was killed in Cable #51.  Hill mentions that these guys might be here by time travel.  It could also be a brand new Master Man.  Right now, he's the guy with the gun.

The Exiles are old Red Skull allies.  We saw Iron Hand Hauptmann in the Heroic Age Captain America arc.  The rest haven't shown up for a while.  All of them are dangerous in their own special ways.  You have to respect a group that has an old handicapped man strapped in something called the Murder Chair.

Master Man uses his gigantic gun to blast Steve Rogers, who blocks it with his shield.  Both Rogers and Carter are thrown out the window.  Steve quickly drops the shield to his feet and uses it to deflect some of the impact from the fall.  The two go summersaulting across the roof.  Once they come to a complete stop, Rogers sends Agent 13 to help out Maria Hill and Victoria Hand.  Master Man is HIS.

Meanwhile, Maria and Victoria are being chased down a hallway by the Exiles.  After one of them (Baldini) calls the ladies "wenches," Victoria turns around and shoots another of them in the head (General Ching).  Maria actually respects that.  She shoots the roof which separates them from most of the Exiles.

"Most."

Iron Hand Hauptmann is waiting in front of the two.  When he gets threatening, he's shot in the back by Sharon Carter.  Man, the Exiles are falling like flies.

Back at the Master Man/Steve Rogers fight, Rogers is more than holding his own against a supposedly stronger man.  Through the battle, all Steve wants to know is where Sin is.  He won't get an answer.

Suddenly, the castle starts shaking.  It's an earthquake and I don't even need to look up whether Sweden gets those.  This is a man-made number caused by Agent Daisy Johnson.  Quake.  She takes down the castle and then finds Steve Rogers in the ruins.

Quake is very apologetic.  She took the place down after getting intelligence that Sin was in residence.  Daisy had no idea that Commander Rogers had infiltrated the place.  While no bad guys appear in the rubble, all of the Avengers Liasons are walking around.

It's about now that Steve starts crying out Sin's name.  This dude is hurting.  Sharon tries comforting him as best she can.

We end this issue with Captain America (Steve) telling us that he had walked into a trap.  The only good thing to come out of this was being reintroduced to Daisy Johnson.  She's got potential.  Steve takes off his mask and gets very quiet.  After a moment, Rogers says an apology to Bucky, gets up, and leaves.


Avengers Academy #18Avengers Academy #18
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Andrea DiVito

In this story:

• Greithoth and Skirn break open the Infinite Mansion.  No attack is going to stop them.  Don't even think it is.

• Abby is captured but not killed.  The same thing happens to Humberto.

• Striker comes up a plan.  It's time to play villain.

• Hazmat distracts the former Absorbing Man and Titania with an offering to serve the Serpent while Striker and Finesse rescue their unconscious classmates.

• Hazmat lights up a mini-nuke in the Mansion.

• While separately chasing after Academy members, Greithoth and Skirn run into Hank Pym.  They hurl their hammers at Giant-Man.

• Who is actually a hologram.  The hammers go right through the lightshow and end up hitting the other Worthy.

• While starting the process of growing out of the universe, the students notice that the Worthies are starting up the process for the entire Infinite Mansion.  The whole place it going to grow into the normal universe.  Which is very, very bad.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

The kids of Avengers Academy are in trouble.  For one, they're stuck in the Infinite Mansion after the two Worthies, Greithoth and Skirn (formerly the Absorbing Man and Titania, respectively), break into Underspace (which is where the Infinite Mansion is located) and break the dimensional doohickey that connected all of the doors to Earth.  That leads right into two: they're stuck in a world with Greithoth and Skirn.  Sure, they have a lot of space to run but the Worthies seem to be really good at finding them.

If you think these guys have a chance against the bad guys, you're completely wrong.  These five students are just learning to control their abilities.  Sure, they did ok against the Nazi Mechs but the Academy kids were kept out of the bulk of the fighting and were focusing on Search and Rescue.  Fighting a Worthy is a contest that has just downed Thor in the main series.  None of these kids is Thor level.

So get ready for an issue where nothing our heroes do really phases the Worthy couple.  Hazmat unloads on them and doesn't even slow the two down.  Mettle doesn't even get a chance to attack as he takes Skirn's hammer to his chest and is sent soaring out of the building.  Veil tries entering the Breaker of Men's body in gas form and use it to take control of the Worthy's mind.  We've seen how well that works out in Uncanny X-Men with a trained telepath trying it on Kuurth.  Abby's a novice trying something that is beyond her skillset.  It's an admirable attempt but futile.  For her effort, Veil gets a good look at how Skirn's mind works before screaming and passing out.

The former Titania drags the unconscious form of Veil as she pursues Hazmat.  The Worthy is having a hell of a good time and decides to walk instead of run.

Greithoth is fighting outside the Mansion against Humberto who has taken on the form of a brachiosaurus.  Sauropods might be big but they aren't really the most formidable of dinosaurs.  The Breaker of Wills tosses his hammer through Reptil's neck to end the fight.  Humberto returns to human form and falls to the ground.

This is all seen on monitors in the comms room, where Finesse and Striker are watching the proceedings.  Finesse thinks there's a chance that Reptil is still alive.  Sure, that looked fatal and all but Humberto heals faster in dinosaur form.  She's tackling this with cool, Vulcan-like logic which annoys Striker.  After all, Reptil was kinda, sorta her boyfriend.  Finesse claims she has something called "feelings" but they do her no good in these circumstances.

Hazmat joins them and warns the two that Skirn is heading their way.  Slowly.  Since Jennifer's worried about the fate of Mettle, Finesse shows footage of the Hawaiian dude floating off in the infinite void of Underspace.  Probably still alive.  Still, what can they do against TWO Worthies?

Striker actually has a plan.  Since the world is so worried that they might turn to the Dark Side, maybe that is exactly how they beat the odds, here.

Greithoth and Skirn are taking a break from capturing Avengers Academy students to make out a little.  This is sexy work, after all.  On a nearby statue of Thor, the unconscious students, Veil and Reptil, drape from two fingers.  They're still alive but that's only to prolong the Fear.  Interrupting the Worthy couple's make-out session is Jennifer Takeda.

Hazmat is out of her protective suit (it protects everyone else from her powers) to tell them that she's done being a good guy.  Now, it's time for her to be bad and she's hoping that it'll give her an out on the whole "torture and die" thing.

You guys probably don't have to worry about that.

The Worthy duo consider this.  The Serpent does like having a servant or two around.  As initiation, they demand that Jennifer kill her captured schoolmates.  As they turn around dramatically to indicate Veil and Reptil, the Worthy see Striker and Finesse rescuing them.

They're about to turn on Hazmat but Jennifer sets herself off like a miniature nuke.  The reason the rest of the cast survives this is because Takeda is sucking most of the radiation back into herself.

It's a pretty good distraction, at least.  The heroes get away.  One of the trainer robots rescues Hazmat from the void of space, providing her with her usual suit.  Mettle is getting rescued by another trainer robot.

Everyone gets together just in time for Skirn and Greithoth to renew their attack.  This time, the bad guys are angrier than ever.  They are so mad, in fact, that they allow Striker and Hazmat to lead them individually down separate hallways.  Before both of them shoots up Giant-Man.  Two hammers fly at two holographic Hank Pyms.

Striker and Hazmat duck.  The hammers keep on flying... right towards the other Worthy.  That means Skirn's hammer hits Greithoth and vice versa.  The two villains break out of the Mansion in opposite directions.  At best, this is another short reprieve.

The kids try to do their best with it.  They all meet up in the med lab.  Veil, Mettle, and Reptil and all hooked up to the machines.  Finesse tells them that the only way out of this jam is to use Pym Particles to "grow [their] way out.

As soon as she says it, she notices that Greithoth and Skirn have also realized this.  The Worthies are attacking the Pym Particle Generator.  It's going to grow the entire facility.

Which is 95% bad.  Finesse was just planning on use the Pym Particles on themselves.  The Infinite Mansion is something that should NOT grow into the regular universe because it is vast and expansive.  It's liable to destroy a lot of real estate in the process, killing people all the way.

It's already starting.  The Infinite Mansion has already grown into the Microverse, startling the Kaliklak people (the same species as the former Micronaut, Bug) on a nearby world.  Striker is out of ideas.  No one else seems to have any, either.


Journey Into Mystery #626Journey Into Mystery #626
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Doug Braithwaite

In this issue:

• Balder and his men kill demons in Limbo.

• Loki arrives on the back of a dead Hel-Wolf.  The Hel-Wolf attacks him and is eaten by Surtur.

• After a lot of talking, Loki convinces Surtur to give him the shadow of the Twilight Sword.

• Using the Casket of Odinsleep, Loki returns to Asgard.

• He convinces someone in shadows to help him out.  Together, they steal something quite important from the Asgard armory.

• Back in Newark, Loki's warriors wait for his return with increased impatience.  The fortress of the Serpent floats across the sky.

• Loki returns with the Destroyer.  It's time to destroy Dark Asgard.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Balder is dead.  His companions are dead.  Together, they continue the fight for the future of Asgard.  That means that they ride across Limbo and kill demons so that the Fire Giant, Surtur doesn't gain more power by consuming them.  All in all, it's a pretty good afterlife for a Viking god.

I'm glad you got to see them because they don't serve any other purpose in the story.  Let's move on to Loki's arrival in Limbo.  Last issue, the Dísir killed Kid Loki's Hel-Wolf because Limbo is where demons go when they die (Hel-Wolf was a demon-- it makes perfect sense).  This gives Loki a one way trip into Limbo which looks a lot like all the other Hells and Hels he's been visiting lately.

His first problem: the Hel-Wolf agreed to serve him until death.  Guess who's angry?  Kid Loki ends up running from his former ride as the Hel-Wolf taunts the young god again and again.  Hel-Wolf isn't an ongoing concern for too much longer.  That's because Surtur shows up and eats the creature.

Surtur is bad news.  This is the guy who will eventually bring back the never-ending, annoying cycle of Ragnarok.  You've gotta keep him locked down.  That is the exact opposite of what Kid Loki has planned.

Surtur recognizes Loki at once and doesn't really want to listen to this little godling.  You don't usually trust the lord of lies, after all, even if you think you're playing for the same team.  Eventually, people learn that Loki was never REALLY on their team.  So even though Loki claims to want Surtur released into Asgard, the Fire Giant isn't likely to believe him.

In fact, Surtur makes Kid Loki swear an unbreakable vow.  If you know mischief makers, you know that even when they tell the truth, they're probably twisting it to their own ends.  Loki chooses his words VERY carefully.

"Loki Odinson, of the blood of Laufey, swears to Surtur, on the price of being ash and his very existence... when you emerge from Twilight's shadow, Asgard as of old will be before you."

Surtur thinks hard about this and finally gives Loki what the godling came for.  What is that?  The shadow of Twilight.  That's Surtur's sword.  It's said that wherever the shadow of the Twilight Sword falls, Surtur can break into.  Or something like that.  So if Loki takes the shadow, the Fire Giant can return to the world.  After angling the light JUST right, Surtur provides Loki with a shadow that he can carry around without any troubles.

And, yes, Loki lifts the shadow like a physical thing.  Magic.  Comics.  Awesomesauce.

Kid Loki races away to find his way out of Limbo.  His pet magpie, Ikol, holder of all the knowledge of the former Loki, warns against this strategy but the bird has been doing a lot of that lately with little effect.  "Asgard as of old" isn't the Asgard that Surtur thinks it is.  Ikol thinks tricking the Fire Giant will be bad for the future.  He might very well be right but that doesn't stop our favorite god of mischief.

So how do you get out of Limbo?  First, you've got to be alive.  Second, you have to knock VERY hard so that the dwarf watching over the Casket of Odinsleep hears you.  Yep.  Loki is back in Asgard.  You might shut down the Rainbow Bridge but there are so many ways in and out of Asgard that you have to wonder why it's been invaded so few times in Marvel history.

For the next part of Loki's plan, he'll need an ally.  We don't get a good look at his chosen partner but we get some hints.  Loki tells them not to "blubber."  The kid mentions that his ally has access to what he needs.  It seems that Loki is being extra honest with this person, right down to WHY he's doing what he's doing (because Thor endorsed his vague plan a few issues ago).  I... I don't even have a guess who this is.  I would say Volstagg but that doesn't seem right.  Mystery!

Hours pass.  Suddenly, the armory explodes.  Odin and Heimdall hear this...

Odin just wants to kill a planet.  Is that wrong?

... and race to the armory.  They don't know who broke in but they do know what was stolen.  It is important.

In Newark, Loki's rag tag band of freedom fighters (the Dísir, Kára, Brün, Hlökk, Göndul, as well as non-Dísir, Tyr and Leah) waits for Loki's return.  Expect bickering between pretty much everyone.  Tyr was quiet just long enough to bury the dead body of the Hel-Wolf and then he thanks everyone else for HELPING HIM OUT.

Leah shows up with the plot and announces that Hela is under attack by the ancient, ancient, ANCIENT dead.  Tyr is ready run all the way back to Hel until Leah tells him that THIS story will continue over in New Mutants and they shouldn't worry about it.  Besides, the whole helping Loki thing.

After the Dísir and Tyr fight for a while, they notice the flying fortress of the Serpent flying overhead.  Loki shows up to tell them what this is.  It is Dark Asgard.  "Asgard as of old," anyone?  This is the target.  Together, Loki's forces are going to destroy it.

To help with that, Kid Loki has brought along... the Destroyer.


Invincible Iron Man #507Invincible Iron Man #507
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

In this issue:

• Tony Stark is getting drunk while Dopey is delivering Stark's hair and blood samples to the servants of the Serpent.  Dopey is killed and not just because he's a super-douche.

• Mr. Macken is making a call to an unknown person who might be a loved one or might just be in here to make us think he's Spymaster.

• The Detroit Steel Legion attacks Rescue.

• Who's drunk?

• Tony Stark.  He's drunk.

• The servants of the Serpent create a Golem powered by Tony's hair and blood.  Magic happens!

• After fighting with Rescue for a while, the Detroit Steel Legion fight Mokk, the Breaker of Earth, instead.

• Tony learns that to power up his armor with Uru, he has to immerse it in unbelievably hot liquid Uru.  That's gonna be a difficult because the current armor is stored in his bones.  He's going to have to take a dip.

• Mokk prepares to kill Rescue and Sasha Hammer.  Or something.

• Tony Stark is attacked by a that Golem.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Tony is getting spelunking drunk.  Because that is a good idea.

While that's happening, one crack-addict dwarf is betraying the bejabbers out of Asgard and his comrades.  This dude doesn't get a name but I named him Dopey last time we covered Iron Man.  In the last issue, Dopey proved to be something of an arsehole, attacking Tony after the drunk super-hero accidentally bumped into him.  This was after Dopey was overly aggressive for no good reason.

Dopey's got all of his many reasons for being a princess to Tony laid out in front of him.  There's definitely no friendship to be broken or bonds of brotherhood between them.  Instead, Dopey pretty much directs all of his animosity towards the stupid smart human messing up his workshop.  The Servant of the Serpent could give a damn.  After handing over some of Tony's hair and blood to the Servant, Dopey finds out the ultimate rewards for his actions.

Yeah, he picked the wrong team.  In that way lies madness and death.  Mostly death.

Let's take a quick scan over the world of Fear Itself before resting gently in Seattle at Stark Resilient.  Thor has fallen in New York.  The world sees a new Captain America out on the battlefield but they aren't sure who this one is.  Washington D.C. has been devastated.  No one has seen Iron Man for three days.

And now we're at Stark Resilient.  Mr. Macken is on his cell phone talking to someone.  We're not sure WHO, but he keeps calling them "baby."  Macken tells this person what's been going on, how he can't track Iron Man's repulsor signature, and all he's showing is Pepper in Paris.  Macken is the guy who is usually more comfortable behind his newspaper though we DO know he updates his wikipedia page with vital statistics like his phone number so we know he knows his way around the computer even though he seems to lack a degree of common sense.

All of this is giving us evidence that Spymaster might be posing as Mr. Macken.  It's an ongoing mystery left over from the Stark Resilient story arc.  Resilient has been infiltrated.  Stark knows this.  He just can't figure out WHO in his organization is a fake.  It could be anyone except for himself, Pepper Potts, or Carson Wyche.  Place your bets!

For my money, it's actually Mrs. Arbogast.

Macken ends his phone call because there's a news program focusing on Paris that he'd like to watch.  We shift over to that.  This news crew shouldn't have gotten into Paris.  They snuck by whatever makeshift gates had been put up so that they could get a closer look at the doom inside.  After shuffling around the streets for a bit, the team runs right into the former Grey Gargoyle, Mokk.  Breaker of Earth.

Mokk stones the whole news crew and then shouts into the camera in his rune-like language.  It's a good thing that the stoning effect doesn't work digitally because this is picked up all over the place.

Macken watches this and then calls up Pepper to warn her about the Breaker of Earth running around Paris.  This is relevent because Potts has the Rescue armor on and is trying to help out in the City of Lights.  It's not her primary concern at the moment because she's being attacked by a squad of Detroit Steels.

Last issue, Justine Hammer sent her daughter, Sasha, and a team of green pilots to Paris.  Their mission was to recover the armor of Lt. Doug Johnson III and find out if he's still alive.  As a perk, they were ordered to shoot anything that moves.  It's not exactly an "official" mission but Justine imagines that her military contact, General Babbage, will thank her for helping out.

Since Rescue is definitely moving and is definitely a rival armor platform to the Detroit Steel, Sasha Hammer orders her team to fire on Pepper.  No mercy.  Potts wishes Tony were here to help her out... well, she wished Stark were there to SAVE her but that's harder for me to type.

Meanwhile, Tony is still pretty drunk.

I believe this whole drunken story arc was put together so they could have a panel where Tony makes this face.

He's not proud of his relapse into the bottle but there's a part of him that's ready for another round.  Now, it's time to get back to work.  Stark asks for some coffee but that kind of thing isn't available in the Dwarf armory.

We take a little trip to another part of Svartalfheim where a golem is being built to destroy Tony Stark.  This is the Servants of the Serpent's plan.  They add Tony's hair and blood to the mix and then wait for the golem to come to life.

In Paris, Rescue keeps on trying to talk sense to these Detroit Steel goons but they pretend that Pepper isn't talking English.  Then, Potts realizes that one of the Detroit Steels is Sasha Hammer.  She has some history with the youngest Hammer girl that basically comes down to Sasha's boyfriend, Ezekiel, blowing up a building she was in, killing a lot of her co-workers and causing some near fatal injuries for her.  Suddenly, Rescue goes on the attack.

Pepper takes one of the random Detroit Steels down with some magnetic precision.  His armor falls apart around him which leaves him open to the powers of Mokk.  Oh, yeah, Mokk has entered this battle.  He stones the exposed Detroit Steel pilot who starts crumbling right away.

In a secret place in Svartalfheim, The Golem has been activated.  The creature has glowing bits on his chest and hands which makes him have some similarities with Iron Man.  The creature gets ready to hunt.

Here's the thing with Uru.  The metal has to be heated to star-like intensity and then magicked up by Odin.  Stark's problem with this are twofold.  The biggest issue is that he doesn't know how to summon Odin here to finish the process.  The even bigger issue is that he was planning on coating his amor with Uru but this suit isn't like his previous ones.  He stores it in his bones.  It doesn't come off.  That means he's going to have to take a dip in super-heated Uru and hope he survives.

SNARF.

Back in Paris, Pepper is trying to get her sudden allies to drop off this attack and retreat to safety.  Sasha doesn't listen.  In fact, she probably shouldn't listen.  Someone's gotta hit this Worthy as hard as they can and hope that he falls.  That's kind of the whole deal.  The Detroit Steel legion hits Mokk with everything they have and it actually causes the former Grey Gargoyle to pause for a moment.  There's even some particles flying off of him.

That lasts seven seconds and then the Worthy comes back madder than before.  Mokk focuses on Rescue and Sasha because they are name characters.  The randoms finally decide to retreat.  Grabbing the two women by the neck, the Breaker of Earth gets ready for some killing.

Aaaaaaaaand... we're back in Svartalfheim.  Tony is working on some weapons while kicking himself for being drunk.  He thinks he hears something and reconfigures his ear with Iron Man tech to inspect it closer.  Hearing nothing, he goes back to work.  The room fills with mud while he isn't looking.  It covers Stark and fills up his mouth, oozing back out his nose.

Yeah.  That's not how you want to go out.


Thunderbolts #162Thunderbolts #162
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Valentine De Landro w/ Matthew Southworth

In this issue:

• A biological bomb has gone off in Lake Michigan, unleashing an army of monsters on Chicago.

• Songbird uses her sonic abilities to stop the creatures but they are highly adaptable and eventually fly over the top of the wall of sound.

• Chicago is invaded.

• Thunderbolts Tower teleports in to lend a hand.  The B-Squad leaps into the battle.

• Man-Thing starts to absorb the creatures.  Satana tells Moonstone that this will further Man-Thing's growth into his next stage.

• The Underbolts decide that this is the best time to escape.  Centurius sets up a little display for MACH V to help further the Underbolts' plan.

• Abe sees Fixer's conversation with Baron Zemo and confronts Norbert on it.  They don't have time to fully get into it.

• Man-Thing has grown to gigantic proportions.  He's also on fire.

• The Underbolts draw Fixer into their escape plan.  Satana and Moonstone also seem to join them.

• Giant-Sized Man-Thing explodes in the middle of Chicago.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Last issue, a missile war-head dropped into Lake Michigan, dropping a payload of bio-soldiers with adaptable abilities.  They emerged from the Great Lake and immediately established a beachhead.  Because of Fixer's connections (Baron Zemo), he was able to figure out this plan just before it happened and the Thunderbolts are on the scene because of that.

Still, they've seen better days.  Two issues ago, the team faced off against Kuurth (Juggernaut) and fared pretty badly for the experience.  Abe Jenkins' MACH V armor has been destroyed.  The rest of the team is probably pretty tired.  Well, too bad.  It's time for them to stop an invasion force from destroying Chi Town.

Songbird kicks things off on a large scale, erecting a sonic wall right in the monster army's path.  This sonic wall is formed with her screaming a message to any innocent bystanders in the area: "PLEASE EVACUATE THE WATERFRONT!"  This is repeated over and over and people actually DO get the heck away from this army.

Moonstone picks these guys off from the air but it's a full army and one gunner isn't going to make much of a difference.  Eventually, the monsters dogpile one another until they can climb over the wall.  From there, they sprout little wings under their arms.  Some of them glide down.  Some of them fly.

Others shoot lasers from their mouths while flying.  Whatever the case, the city is officially being invaded.

Moonstone is attacked in the air by a platoon of flying monsters.  Songbird's wall falls, letting the stragglers in the army race on through.  Things are bleak.

Then, the entire Thunderbolts Tower teleports in (thanks to Satana's spell).  This adds some reinforcements in the form of the B-Squad (Centurius, Shocker, Boomerang, Troll, and Mister Hyde) while also letting Fixer fire a giant Tower gun at the bio-army.  Satana also rejoins the Thunderbolts in the defense of Chicago.

We are treated to a couple of pages dedicated to the various Thunderbolts on both squads.  Even Man-Thing gets involved when it sees Moonstone threatened.  The things burn at his touch but they are also being absorbed by the creature.  Karla finds this different but effective.

We also get Satana more than holding her own against the monsters.

They fuel her fire.

Unfortunately, those fires seem to spread all around the place.  Troll, Mr. Hyde, and Shocker are fighting on the edges of the fire.  When the other two start eating the monsters, Shocker decides he's had enough of this.  It's time to make his escape.

Moonstone flies up to Satana and asks her what the hell is up with Man-Thing and his new absorbing abilities.  Satana believes this is part of Man-Thing's path to reaching the next level of its existence.  She tells Karla to keep Man-Thing doing what it's doing.

The fires are really raging by this point.  Centurius tells his Underbolt comrades that it's the perfect time to make their getaway.  Boomerang is reluctant to leave since they're kind of right in the middle of a battle but Centurius tells them that the odds are overwhelming and this is the moment they've been waiting for.  To sweeten the deal even more, he's prepared a little parting gift to keep everyone else busy.

With the Tower on location, Abe is able to run to his room and get an older MACH armor.  He's about ready to rejoin the fight when a monitor springs to life and gives him vital information on one of his teammates.  Last issue, Fixer got a hold of Baron Zemo and learned all about the bio-bomb that had just hit Chicago.  This video details the tail end of their conversation.

Abe confronts Fixer on this but doesn't have time to get into it before flying back into the war zone.  Jenkins has no intentions of turning Norbert in for this.  Abe knows the secret rules on this stuff and though he is now a tried and true hero, he still isn't a stool pidgeon.  Unfortunately, Fixer doesn't know that.

Meanwhile, Man-Thing has turned the tide of this battle by growing to Godzilla proportions.  Not only that, the creature is giving off waves of heat.  More and more of the bio-soldiers are being pulled into Man-Thing as the Thunderbolt's living transport burns.

By the time the Underbolts reach Fixer in the Tower, he's decided to leave the T-Bolts team.  When Boomerang fills him in on their plan to comandeer the Tower, Fixer joins right up instead of retreating.

Outside the Tower, Man-Thing is on fire all over the place.  Satana declares that the creature is about ready to shed it's old form for a new one.  The old body lets out a seed that will, I guess, grow into its new body.  Satana needs to get this to the Man-Thing's habitat inside the Tower.  Moonstone accompanies her.

When they reach the Command Center, Fixer has an offer for the both of them.

We don't get to learn their answer.  Moonstone could have said no.  In fact, it's in her nature to say no.  Karla had a sweet gig going on and while not being in prison would have been a bonus, Centurius and Fixer's plan seems a bit too half-baked for Moonstone to go along with willingly.  Since Norbert has control of her nanites, she really would have had no choice.

Satana might have followed these guys but her main priority was getting that bulb to Man-Thing's Habitat.  Either way, she wasn't leaving.

And either way, the Thunderbolts Tower teleports away from Chicago right after Troll leaps on board.

Right in the middle of the city, the body of Man-Thing explodes.

And that is how the Thunderbolts exit Fear Itself.  If you want to see how this title is doing, go check out issue 163, on stands now.  I hear you don't ACTUALLY learn what happens in Chicago but you do get to follow the T-Bolts as they start a time traveling adventure.


Uncanny X-Men #542Uncanny X-Men #542
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Greg Land

In this issue:

• Cyclops and Avalanche engage Plan 4: creating a giant chasm in front of Kuurth.  The Worthy makes a magic bridge with every step.

• Cyclops and Mayor Sadie confab at the mayor's office and give their support to each other.  Scott stops a would be assassin from killing him.

• Emma Frost is influenced by the Serpent (or similar) to murder Jean Grey lookalike, Hope Summers.

• Magik gives Cyclops a plan to weaken Kuurth.  It involves hitting up Cyttorak's home dimension.

• Colossus and Shadowcat are made her handlers for this interdimensional visit.

• After seeing what the Juggernaut is really doing, Cyttorak takes away his power from Cain Marko.  Magik volunteers to take it up.

• Colossus won't let her.  Piotr makes the sacrifice instead.

• Mayor Sadie agrees to annihilate Utopia as a last, final, everything on the line resort.  Danger reports this to Cyclops.  Scott prepares to have a talk with the Breaker of Stone.

• Piotr Rasputin becomes the new Juggernaut.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Kuurth, Breaker of Stone and X-Box Controllers, continues to slowly walk towards San Francisco.  On the way, he's picked up quite the following of anti-mutant protestors.  These people can't be removed without Kuurth killing them so it impeded the X-Men's ability to attack the Worthy and avoid collateral damage.  Dr. Cecilia Reyes is using her shield to keep the mutant haters safe but it's still precision attacks.

Cyclops has a whole lot of plans to take down the super-charged Juggernaut.  Plan 4 is to use Avalanche to create a giant canyon between Kuurth and San Francisco.  The Worthy doesn't stop his walk.  As soon as Kuurth steps over the edge of the pit, his feet (which leave magical symbols with every step) build a magical bridge.  His followers walk across right behind the Worthy as the Breaker of Stone's acolyte shouts...

"UNSTOPPABLE!"

Cyclops teleports back to the Mayor's office (he's using Pixie as a personal transport) to discuss strategies with the city's mayor, Sadie Sinclair.  The office is surrounded by even more protestors than in the last two issues but Cyke isn't too worked up.  He's got things to deal with.

Scott explains that he's sent one of his operatives to check on their Norse connections (that would be Danielle Moonstar over in the New Mutants) and also working on the magic angle with someone in the know on that front (more on that in a bit).  We cut to Utopia where we see Emma Frost and Hope Summers both unconscious due to events in the last issue.  This should explain why Cyclops is teleporting back and forth instead of using the psychic connection employed last issue.

Scott asks Mayor Sadie if she's taking the Juggernaut's ultimatum seriously.  That would be the whole "If you destroy the mutants, YOU get to live.  On the other hand, if the mutants stop defending the humans, the MUTANTS live."  It's your basic plan of turning your enemies against each other and Sadie isn't falling for it.

That guy with a gun behind Cyclops might.  He shouts anti-mutant epithets but doesn't get a shot off before Cyclops disarms the potential assassin and then beats him into submission.  All of this is done without even using his mutant powers.  Scott has his badass moments.

Last issue, Emma Frost tried using her telepathic abilities, amped up by Cerebra, to shut down Kuurth.  Instead, she learned that Cain Marko no longer suffers from a weakness to telepathy.  She nearly lost her mind and still hasn't woken up.  The Serpent's influence hasn't left her.  It speaks to her fears and makes her remember how much weaker she is compared to the holy Jean Grey.

Emma wakes up but that glossed over look in her eyes makes us all know that she's not in the driver's seat of her own body.

At the X-Brig, Cyclops, Colossus, Danger and Shadowcat talk to their resident magical expert (and current prisoner), Illyana Rasputin.  They show Magik the squiggly language that Kuurth is leaving all over the landscape and ask her for a magical translation.

See?  I can avoid the fact that Magik's hair doesn't look at all like it's supposed to!  I'm awesome.

Illyana explains that the symbols keep repeating the mantra, "Kuurth, Breaker of Stone, hails the Serpent."  This is something that could prove an advantage.  She just needs the freedom to work that advantage.

While Magik sets up her Hail Mary, let's look in on the various plans going down to take out Kuurth.

Plan 7:  Hit Kuurth with a bio blast from the Limbo Kid, Face.  That doesn't work.

Plan 10: Pixie teleports Kuurth to the moon.  That also fails.  The Worthy teleports right back.

Plan 12:  Rogue absorbs the former Juggernaut's energies.  There's just too much energy.

Illyana's mission is Plan 13.  Of course it is.  Even though it's a bad idea, Piotr and Kitty are put in charge of Magik even though they are both emotionally compromised since one is her brother and the other is her former best friend.  Oh well.  At least Shadowcat tries to stay objective.  So what is the plan?  Teleport to the Crimson Cosmos and have a conversation to Juggernaut's other master.

Cyttorak.

I guess Emma's been waiting on the edge of her bed up to this point.  She finally gets up but is still not REALLY in control.  She grabs her pillow and walks over to the still unconscious Hope.

Plan 16:  Suffocate Kuurth with Mercury.  It turns out that the Worthy don't need to breath and Mercury starts to get digested.  She escapes before her life is lost.

Plan 19:  Psylocke tries her psychic knife on for size.  That's not gonna do it.

Plan 24:  Start Kuurth's blood on fire through the power of Adam-X the X-Treme!  That doesn't kill the Worthy and actually makes the Breaker of Stone even more dangerous.  Fires start all over the place.

In the Crimson Cosmos, Cyttorak tells Illyana that he's finally HAPPY with his avatar.  Cain Marko is actually engaging in some wanton destruction, just like he always wanted.  Illyana bursts that bubble by pointing out those magical footsteps and their message.  Marko isn't doing this for Cyttorak but for the SERPENT.

Well, then he's fired.  Cyttorak's going to need a new avatar.  Magik volunteers for the job.  Colossus protests.  Illyana tells her brother that this was always how this was going to go.  Cyclops knew that she would be taking on the power of the Juggernaut.  The information was kept from Piotr and Kitty because they would not have approved.

Plan 33:  Dazzler fires a super-laser at Kuurth with an extra charge from Siryn's sonic scream.

Plan 37:  Rockslide is kinetically charged by Gambit into a bomb.

Plan 42:  Magneto smashes a decommissioned aircraft carrier on the Worthy.  If you can't guess, none of these plans stop the unstoppable one.

In Mayor Sadie's office, a General is asking if he can attack Utopia.  He understands that San Francisco has had a good relationship with these muties but if it comes down to us or them, this guy chooses us.  Sadie gives him the go ahead to plan an invasion but tells him that it's a final, doomsday scenario plan.

Why a military general is asking permission from a city mayor is beyond me.  I don't think mayors make that kind of call, even in a wartime situation.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I haven't read the Constitution lately.  It might be in there.

It's too bad that Mayor Sadie's office has been bugged by Danger.

The former Danger Room reports this to Cyclops.  Scott adjusts some of his maps and chages tactics.  His troops are recalled to Utopia to protect the island from any invasion.  Summers plans to meet with Kuurth to talk about this ultimatum.

In the Crimson Cosmos, Illyana is pulled back from the edge of their platform by Piotr.  If you don't know where this is going, you haven't seen any promotions for the X-Men in the last year and you probably aren't on the internet reading this.  Colossus is going to take on the powers of the Juggernaut.  Because it's what he does.  Now, it's Kitty's time to try and stop him but she's held back by Illyana.

As Piotr says as he armors up, "too late."

So... Colossonaut?  Juggerus?


The Avengers #85The Avengers #85
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema

In this issue:

• Thor swings his hammer to return everyone to Earth after an adventure in Polymachus.  While the Black Knight, Thor, and the Black Panther arrive safely home, the rest of the Avengers take a detour.

• Vision, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch end up on a dying world two weeks into the future.  Fortunately, they're intangible and aren't being hurt by the gigantic sun.

• Through the powers of the Scarlet Witch, they right themselve and return to the present day.  It's only after they enter their mansion that they realize that they are on the wrong Earth.

• They fight with the heroic Nighthawk and then get right into a battle with other members of the Squadron Supreme.

• On the video monitor, the Squadron gets a call from Dr. Spectrum about a missile launch headed for the sun.  A quick guess is made on one dooms this planet.

• And then it's right back to the fight with the Squadron Supreme.

• After the Avengers defeat the Justice League stand-ins, they take Nighthawk and one of the Squadron transports and try to stop the launch of the sun rocket.

• When they're on the way, Nighthawk is convinced that they are legit and decides to help them.

February 1971!  Amazing Spider-Man #93, Fantastic Four #107, Captain America #134, Iron Man #34, Daredevil #73, and Thor #185 were on the stands.  In Avengers #85, the team would finally meet the Squadron Supreme.

The team had already run into the Squadron's evil counterparts, the Squadron Sinister, in Avengers #'s 69 & 70.  The concept is the same here (Marvel Justice League) except instead of being bad guys, this time they line up a lot more like their DC likenesses.  Before Justice League versus Avengers, this was as close as you were going to get to a Avengers/Justice League meeting.

But before we get to the Squadron Supreme, the Avengers have to teleport back to their world from Arkon's home world of Polymachus.  The team spent last issue at war with Arkon and the Enchantress over the fate of sometimes Avenger Black Knight.  Thor swings his hammer which starts up an enchantment that will return everyone to Earth from exactly where they left.

That means that Black Knight ends up back in Merry Olde Englande.  Black Panther and Thor are transported outside of Avengers Mansion.  The rest of the Avengers are presumably returned inside of the Mansion.  A quick search reveals that they are NOT.  Unfortunately, the Panther and Thor don't have time to do a thorough search at this time.

Why?  Because it's Christmas and they have volunteered their time to Toys for Tots.  They meet up with Captain America and are soon joined by Spider-Man.  The heroes start passing out toys to underpriviledged kids, puting on a happy face for the youngsters and trying not to worry to hard about their missing teammates.

And where are the Vision, Goliath, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch?  They are two weeks into the future and intangible.  When they look around, they're kind of glad about this because the world is being burned and melted by an angry sun.

Sometimes, I just sprayed it into the air, laughing!

Pietro gets the date from a paper lying on the ground, FYI.

Scarlet Witch uses her magic hex powers to right what just went wrong and our heroes end up in the present and solid once more.  They check the date at a local newstand to make sure.  The man working the stand doesn't seem to recognize them.  That's weird but they take it in stride and walk back to the Mansion, missing some other subtle clues that they might be on a different world (the President mentioned in the paper is Hubert H. Humphrey instead of Richard Nixon).

It's only when they get inside the Mansion that they really start suspecting something is up.  Avengers Mansion's security doesn't automatically shut down when they enter.  Worst of all, Nighthawk is walking around the place.  The Avengers only know Nighthawk as the villainous member of the Squadron Sinister and they attack the man for breaking into their Mansion.  He attacks THEM for breaking into HIS Mansion.

Super-heroes have too many mansions.

Of course, Nighthawk picks up on their words about fighting him before and knows that he hasn't faced anyone like the Avengers previously.  He's not all that concerned about their crazy stories.  They're still intruders and he knows just what to do when fighting them.

Escape into a secret passageway.

The Avengers pursue him (with the phasing power of Vision used to open the hidden door), realizing that this secret corridor wasn't there last time they were at Avengers Mansion.  The tunnel leads right to their meeting room where they are greeted by a bunch of strangers.

These members of Squadron Supreme don't have counterparts in the Avengers world so our heroes are facing them for the first time.  Meet Lady Lark (based on Black Canary), Hawkeye (Green Arrow), Tom Thumb (...kinda based on the Golden Age Atom but with a technology angle), and American Eagle (Hawkman).  They don't take too kindly to intruders.  As American Eagle says, the Avengers are obviously "Reds- or at least Commie-symps!"

Them's fighting words.

Which is exactly what happens.  We all knew it would.  It's funny because Goliath doesn't take kindly to another archer stealing his name, even if he isn't currently using it.  One of the better moments in this issue, that.

In the middle of the fight, Dr. Spectrum (Green Arrow-- one of the members we've already seen in his Squadron Supreme- alternate universe form) calls up on the one-way radio to tell the team that he and the rest of the team are getting ready to launch Brain-Child One, a rocket set for solar orbit.

It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots.  This rocket probably has something to do with the apocalyptic future that the Avengers just witnessed.  Clearly, the launch has to be stopped.  Now, they just need to get out of this fight to do it.

There won't be any reasoning with the Squadron at this point in time.  The Avengers mop the floor with the heroes of this world and hope to make amends at a later date.  The battle takes a couple pages and highlights the Squadron Supreme's abilities pretty well.  Hawkeye's an archer who uses a crossbow.  Tom Thumb has a flying platform that shoots different things out depending on the occassion.  Lady Lark has a sonic scream.  American Eagle has his wings and his hatred of Communism.  None of it saves them from a beatdown from the headlining heroes.

On there way out, they steal one of the Squadron's airships and Nighthawk (because why not?).  When they are on their way, Nighthawk remembers the Avengers' crazy conversation and decides to work with them, just in case they're actually telling the truth.

Will they be in time to save a world from dying?  Maybe.


The Avengers #86The Avengers #86
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Sal Buscema

In this issue:

• The Avengers fly across country with their new best friend, the good Nighthawk.

• When they get there, the Avengers race on ahead to stop the launch, knowing that they are going to walk right into a misunderstanding... which leads to a fight.

• The battle doesn't last long.  Once Nighthawk parks the car, he clears up any issues and gets everyone to calm down.

• After hearing the origin of this issue's villain, Brain-Child.  They stop the launch, just in case, and decide to pay Brain-Child a visit.

• When they get to Brain-Child's private island, they learn pretty quickly that the kid WAS trying to destroy the Earth.

• The heroes split up and attack Brain-Child's fortress from four different angles.

• After every other team fails, Hyperion and Goliath finally make it to Brain-Child.

• Hyperion is shocked unconscious, so Goliath uses him as a living, unconscious arrow.

• Yes, it's awesome.

• Once he's captured, Brain-Child loses it, reverting to the thoughts of a ten year old.  Or something.  Dr. Spectrum gives him a body to match and the day is saved.

• Iron Man, Black Panther, and Thor return the Avengers to the proper world.  Vision wonders if it's ACTUALLY their world or if they are on a third Earth ths is just a whole lot like their own...

Now, you're probably wondering why Nighthawk doesn't just call up his teammates at the launch site and halt the launch.  Well, that's easily answered.  The launch site is observing radio silence just in case the dirty Communists tried imitating one of the Squadron Supreme's voices and crank called the site.

The team quickly goes through the actions of the last issue.  This takes a couple pages because a lot happened and you had to make sure that new readers weren't completely lost.  Since you can just read up above to get completely lost, I'll move on to the action.

When Nighthawk's ship gets within range, the Avengers leap out of the ship, hoping to get a little extra time to stop the launch while Nighthawk parks the airship.  The Avengers don't even TRY to explain themselves because they KNOW how that would go.  Instead, Quicksilver just leaps right in, attempting to attack Hyperion (the Superman stand-in).  That goes about as well as you would expect it to.

Before these strangers can interrupt the launch, Dr. Spectrum orders Whizzer (hahahahaha... Whizzer...) to launch the rocket.  It's only Scarlet Witch's unpredictable hex powers that stops the launch.

Before this misunderstanding can go any further, Nighthawk shows up and tells everyone to stop fighting.  With his endorsement, the Squadron Supreme decides to halt the launch even though they're pretty sure that nothing aboard the rocket could case the world to burn.

That's because the rocket was built by a scientific genius nicknamed... Brain-Child.

Get ready for an origin story.  Brain-Child is a ten-year-old kid who's parents liked to play with radiation.  The kid was born perfectly normal and then quickly went into abnormal territory.  His head exploded with excess brains and his intelligence increased accordingly.  Before too long had passed, he was building weapons for the military.  After growing sick and tired of grown adults not being able to contain their disgust at the site of his radically mutated head, Brain-Child  decided to live apart from humanity.  He would still make rockets for the United States, provided everyone left him alone.

So, yeah, he sounds like a dude who would never try to destroy the Earth with fire.

The Squadron Supreme decides to pay Brain-Child a visit and ask him if he was maybe trying to kill all life on Earth.  The Avengers join them.

On Brain-Child's private island, the poor, misshapen kid curses his luck.  If only the rocket had been allowed to fire, it would have killed everyone, including himself.  Yep, he's a bit suicidal.  A bit.

In the normal Marvel Universe, Black Panther and Thor have called in Iron Man to help them find and rescue their missing teammates.  So far, they haven't had any luck finding the lost Avengers but they aren't going to give up their search until they do.

Back on the Squadron Supreme world, the Avengers and their new friends have arrived at Brain-Child's isolated sanctuary.

Are you Supreme?  I'm really drawing a blank, here.

Brain-Child doesn't give them much room to doubt his guilt.  He sends out a drone to talk to them and admits the whole crime almost immediately.  The Squadron Supreme and the Avengers are attacked and use their powers to defend themselves.  Dr. Spectrum uses his Power Prism to destroy this drone.  They know it's only the first threat they'll face but now they've got a super-villain to defeat.

Here comes your traditional Justice League split-up.  The two quartets divide their forces into teams of two.  One Avenger, one Squadron Supreme member.  They each approach Brain-Child's fortress from a different side.

Quicksilver and the Whizzer (hahahaha) attack from the... nether-side.  They're find themselves facing bullet-like rocks.  To get these under control, the two speedsters race around in a circle to get a nice tornado going.  This gathers up all the rocks.

In another direction, Nighthawk and the Scarlet Witch enter the fortress and face off against a giant monster.  This thing beats Nighthawk in seconds (not enough prep time) and then uses an eye beam to make Wanda forget what she's doing (which eventually leads to her going crazy ;) ).

Dr. Spectrum and the Vision break into the building only to fight a gigantic one-celled organism.  This thing gets split into two and quickly adapts to everything they throw at them.

Back with Quicksilver and Whizzer, have defeated the rock bullets only to get stuck to a wall.  Well then, that just leaves Goliath and Hyperion.

The two strongest members have held off so that the others could wear down Brain-Child's defenses before they smash their way inside.  It seems that everything hitting the heroes is being produced straight out of the kid's mind.  Even though Brain-Child has been weakened, he still has enough juice to give these two a run for their money.

He hits them both with some electified coils.  Hyperion smashes them but not before they do their worst.  The Squadron Supreme member is out of commission.  Goliath is still conscious but JUST barely.  He suddenly remembers that he's an archer by nature and decides to fire a special kind of arrow at the Brain-Child.

That's right!  The unconscious Hyperion is used as a living arrow.  It's awesome.

Brain-Child is so hurt by this incredible attack that he can't think straight anymore.  He turns into a normal ten year old, at least in brain power (which means all the traps he ensnared everyone in disappear since they were a product of his over-sized mind).  His looks are still messed up.  Dr. Spectrum uses the Power Prism to change all that, giving Brain-Child the body of a normal ten-year-old boy.  It looks like everything has worked out for the best.

And just in time, too.  No sooner is the day saved than the Avengers are drawn back to their home world.  It seems that Iron Man, Black Panther, and Thor finally worked out where their missing comrades were and how to get them back.  They apologize for not finding the missing Avengers sooner but it's unnecessary.  If they had left earlier, a world might have died.

Everyone leaves the room except for Vision and Quicksilver.  Vish is busy brooding... which is pretty much what he does.  Pietro asks him why he's doing it THIS time and gets some philosophy from the synthezoid Avenger.  Sure, they left one Earth for another and then got pulled to THIS Earth... but does that mean they've come HOME or to yet a THIRD world?  And how could they tell the difference?

That's not something any of them can solve.

But, yeah, they're home.

The Squadron Supreme is such an awesome concept that they make quite a few guest appearances over the years.  Usually, it'll start with a misunderstanding because there's nothing better than watching the Justice League fight the Avengers.  In his twelve issue maxi-series, writer Mark Gruenwald had the Squadron unmast and get quite pro-active about their world saving.  When everything was said and done, hero fought hero over philosophical differences (hmmm... that sounds familiar...) and Nighthawk wound up dead.

The team gets revived every so often to this day.  Nighthawk was replaced by a new guy (Neil Richmond), and battles were fought against corrupt corporations and governments.

The concept was given the MAX treatment in a title originally called "Supreme Power" and eventually renamed "Squadron Supreme."  This focused on a different iteration of the team from yet another multiple universe.

I'm sure that if we're given enough time, we'll see the Squadron Supreme again.  Every so often we see various counterparts appear but this version has ducked out for a few years, now.  Still, it's the Marvel Justice League.  You can't keep them on the shelf forever.

And so yet another Super Reads comes to it's inevitable close.  I hope you had fun reading!  We'll be back soon!  Hopefully!

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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