The Outhouse: The Greatest Comic Book Website - For All Your Comics and Entertainment News, Reviews, and Other Insanity

Super Reads 160

Didn't we already do the Valkyrie?

We're winding this thing down!

Today, we check out Fear Itself #6, Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #1, Fear Itself: The Monkey King #1, The New Avengers #16, Journey Into Mystery #627, Alpha Flight #4, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #523, Ghost Rider #3, and Blast to the Past for The Incredible Hulk #142.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Super Reads 160
Fear Itself reaches it's penultimate issue and Super Reads is here for you!

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

Let's get right to the main event.

Fear Itself #6Fear Itself #6
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Stuart Immonen

In this story:

• The Avengers carry the fallen Thor off the battlefield.  They take him to Heimdall's Obserbatory for a quick teleport back to Asgard.  Luke Cage's Avengers stay in New York to keep on top of things.

• In Asgard, Steve Rogers chews out Odin.  The All-Father takes his son and teleports the Avengers back to fallen Asgard on Earth.

• Dark Asgard makes it's way to Broxton.  The Serpent admits that he might die in this final confrontation but this really isn't about him.  It's about leaving a legacy for his daughter, Skadi.

• Spider-Man seeks out Aunt May and gets inspired to return to the fight.

• Odin has a heart-to-heart with his son and gives him the armor worn the last time Odin fought the Serpent.  Thor also gets the Odinsword.

• Tony Stark brings his dwarf-made weapons to dip them in Uru and get Odin's blessing.  Tony's wearing his armor because he really needs a dip in molten Uru.

• Captain America gives the Avengers instructions and then takes a walk...

• ...to Broxton in order to recruit some civilians to defend against the floating Dark Asgard.

• They have hunting rifles.  It looks like most of the Broxton militia take a run for it.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Last issue, Thor passed out after attempting to hammer Nul (Hulk) to the moon.  This book begins with the Avengers (Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Steve Rogers, Luke Cage, and the Protector) carrying the thunder god to the ruins of Avengers Tower.  Thor is pretty injured and believes that his hope lies in his father, Odin, healing him.

A building like Avengers Tower makes a big mess when it falls down.  As the Avengers carry the fallen hero to Heimdall's Observatory, Rogers realizes that what they're doing doesn't look good to the public.  The Avengers are going to look like they're abandoning New York.  To help alleviate that, Luke Cage and the New Avengers hang back to coordinate defense efforts in New York.

Continuity, people!

Now, I could go and complain about Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, and Red Hulk appearing here when last issue shows Danny Rand in China, Dr. Strange is playing around in Fear Itself: The Deep, and Rulk is supposed to "never return" to the Avengers after Angrir (Thing) punted him out of New York.  Instead, let me try for the No-Prize.  This issue probably takes place AFTER Fear Itself: The Deep.  Strange has since gone to China to pick up Iron Fist just like he planned to in Iron Man 2.0 #7.  Both have returned to New York City just in time to help out the rest of the New Avengers.

As far as the Red Hulk goes, I'm just throwing up my hands.

Now, let's talk about Heimdall's Observatory for a moment.  At the end of Siege, the non-functioning Observatory was placed atop Avengers Tower as a symbol of the alliance between Asgard and mankind.  The fall of the Tower symbolizes a LOT of things but one of them is how the relationship between the gods and man is pretty well broken.  That'll happen when the darker aspects of Asgard decide to make Earth their snack and all Odin can think to do is burn the world to a cinder in response.  The Observatory, on the other hand, ISN'T broken anymore.  This probably has more to do with the return of Odin to the land of the living than any continuity errors on the part of Matt Fraction and the editorial team.

Man, I'm just No-Prizing it up today!

While Luke Cage tries to figure out the logistics of evacuating New York, we move right on to Asgard.  Heimdall is listing off the troops and units that have been assembled to leave Earth a smoldering husk.  As they are lined up, named, and numbered, Odin claims it won't be enough.

And in come the Avengers.

Since the first issue, both Thor and Iron Man have had their chance to shew out the Asgardian All-Father.  That's for good reason since all of this can be laid right at the feet of Odin.  In this issue, Steve Rogers gets his chance to yell at Thor's Dad, too.  This completes the Avengers Trinity collection.

After getting in his jabs, Rogers looks over the Asgardian forces set to destroy his planet.  He looks at the All-Father and says "You're gonna need more guys."

Odin doesn't have time to debate morality with this human so he collects his son and sends the Avengers back to Earth.  Earlier in this event, Odin was the crankiest dude ever.  Now, he just seems tired.  The All-Father picks up his son, taking Thor to his chambers for healing.

Steve Rogers and the Avengers end up in Fallen Asgard just outside of Broxton, Oklahoma.  Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is still located here and that's important because Odin keeps talking about how he won't attack Earth until "the shadow of the Serpent falls across the World Tree."

Hawkeye pulls Steve aside to see how the World War II vet is taking this.  The answer: not well.  Captain America has had a LOT of loss very recently, from the death of James Buchanan Barnes to Washington D.C. and New York City being devastated.  As Steve says: "I don't LOSE WELL."  Rogers walks off alone, talking about evacuating the planet... which just doesn't seem realistic from his perspective.

We cut to the Serpent and Skadi (Sin... or the Red Skull) on his flying fortress, Dark Asgard (because we need as many Asgards as possible in this story).  I don't think I've mentioned before how Dark Asgard floating over New York brings back fun memories from when Thor first became Lord of Asgard and brought his city to Midgard, floating over New York City.  Now, I have.

There is a prophesy.  It states that the son of Odin will kill the Serpent, take a number of steps, and die.  Skadi is concerned because she's already lost one father and this one seems to like her more than the Red Skull.  The Serpent tells her that he MIGHT die but that isn't important.  What really matters is that Skadi keeps things going after he's gone.  He claims that all he's done has been for her benefit.

Last issue, Spider-Man asked Steve Rogers if he could be excused from the battle to spend the end times with his friends and loved ones and maybe have his own, superior event with Spider-Island.  The problem with that is that he doesn't know WHERE his loved one (meaning Aunt May) is.  Peter spent a lot of time in Fear Itself: Spider-Man unsuccessfully trying to find his aunt.  This time, he runs into her after only a few swings around the city.  When Spider-Man hits the ground, he's surrounded by people that want his help but their pleas fade into the background as Spidey talks to his Aunt.

You can probably guess how this conversation is going to go.  Aunt May asks how her nephew, Peter Parker, is doing.  Spider-Man tells her that Parker is okay and gets a relieved look from May.  After that, she gives Spider-Man a "Power and Responsibility" pep talk (ugh, yes-- she actually says the whole "power and responsibility" line like a living cliché), motivating the Web-Slinger to return to the fight.

Back in Asgard, Odin is healing his son as best he can but there are wounds that just won't go away.  The two talk about how Asgard goes through it's "cycles and refrains" and also how this affects individual gods.

The talk moves to the connections between Odin and the Serpent.  The All-Father tells Thor that he and his brother are both the same age but the Serpent always represented older, more primal things.  The Serpent's realm is called Aesheim, or it WAS before Odin destroyed the place with the conclusion of their ancient, ancient war.  We might have first seen a bit of this conflict in Secret Avengers #14 with Valkyrie's origin.

During this war, Odin wore armor that would dull the Serpent's influence over him.  This suit is turned over to his son who is bound and determined to fulfill the earlier mentioned prophesy and end the Serpent's life.  This, by the way, is fated to end in his own death.  This conversation is a nice reflection to the previous scene between father/daughter combo, the Serpent and Skadi.  Odin would rather burn the entire Earth than lose his son, much like the Serpent is prepared to die for his daughter to rise.

Thor suits up as Odin explains that the Serpent was the true All-Father but HAD to be deposed because of the Serpent's very nature.  His final gift to his son is the Odinsword.  Also called the Ragnarok.  It apparently lives up to it's name.

From there, Odin and Thor teleport to Svartalfheim to check on Tony Stark's Mighty project.  Stark (still with the cracked chest repulsor) shows up with the seven weapons he and the dwarves created to battle the Serpent and the Worthy.  The final step is to plunge these weapons into molten Uru to receive Odin's blessing.  This sucks for Tony because he's wearing his weapon, the Iron Man armor, and it can't come off.

That means Iron Man has to jump into molten Uru.  It's a good thing he's probably drunk.

Before Stark takes his leap of faith, Odin asks Thor one last time to turn from this dangerous, prophetic path.

What kind of question is that?

With Thor's answer, Iron Man and the Mighty weapons are dropped in the vat.

In Fallen Asgard, Steve Rogers is preparing the Avengers for a final defense of this territory.  They know that the Serpent's floating fortress is on its way and this'll be the climactic battle of the war.  After giving his spiel, Captain America walks away from this battle ground.

Hawkeye stops him and asks what the hell Steve is doing.  Clint also asks where the rest of the Avengers Trinity is.  Cap tells Hawkeye that everything will come together in the final, bang-up issue so there's no real worries with that.  As for where Captain America is going?  He's out "to man the line."

Since Fear Itself began, the people of Broxton have gotten militant, barricading the road in and out of town to keep other threats away.  They've already turned away Thor and were shown manning their posts when Iron Man flew nearby a couple issues ago.

Captain America is a different matter.  Finally wearing his cowl, Cap recruits the townspeople to his war.  He tells everyone that they don't HAVE to stick around for the main event) and we see the floating fortress approaching in the background, indicating that it's not long off) but if they leave, he'd like to keep their guns.

For this last fight, the Serpent has summoned his remaining Worthy (Kuurth, Mokk, Merkkod, Greithoth, and Skirn-- I'm guessing Nul's fate will be revealed in Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula).  They're hitting this fight at full power.

Down on the ground, Captain America grits his teeth and gets ready for war.  It looks like the Broxton Militia has scattered and is running back towards town.  No matter.  Cap has a hunting rifle and knows how to use it.


Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #1Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #1
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Ryan Stegman

In this issue:

• The Hulk falls back to the Earth from his orbital journey.  He lands in Romania.

• When Nul meets up with some vampires who would like to remain OUT of his ramaping path, he smashes them anyway.

• Dracula has intel gathered on the former Hulk.

• While they're thinking up a better idea, the vampire nation keeps Nul occupied with a Charniputra attack.  The Breaker of Worlds kills them all and foolws up by taking down the vampire spotters.

• Raizo Kodo and his group, the Forgiven, show up to lend a hand.  Instead, they get locked up.

• Dracula sends a Wendigo out to slow Nul down.

• As the Worthy is swatting away the Wendigo, other monsters are dropped on him.

And here's where Nul, the Breaker of Worlds, also known as the Incredible Hulk, went after getting shot into space in Fear Itself #5.  Well, after surviving re-entry, Nul touched down in the hills of Romania.  After pulling himself out of his crator, the former Hulk restarts his rampage.

Romania sets things up nicely int he heart of vampire territory.  When Nul storms his way through the Carpathian Foothills, he kills everything in hi path.  This includes the vampires.  Regardless, the vampires try to meet with him and get the Worthy to maybe move AROUND their territory.

OK.  Before we go any further, I've got to give you all a refresher course on today's vampire on the go.  The Marvel Vampires are divided into several sects.  The two most militant vampire sects are the Krieger and Klaw sects.  The techie vampires are called Mystikos.  The demon looking ones are the Nosferatu.  The ones with wings?  Charniputra.  There are a number of other sects but those are the big ones in this story.

You'll notice that these vampires are having no trouble with sunlight.  That's because they've developed a medalion that bends the dangerous bits of sunlight around their bodies.

Last, but certainly not least, the various sects are ruled by Dracula, the Lord of the Vampires.

This meeting party is led by a Noferatu with a Mystikos following his lead.  The Nosferatu greets the rampaging Nul and tells him that everything's cool, they would just rather he left them alone.  The small army of vamps behind him suggest that the alternative would be full of gun play.

You can guess the answer to that.  It looks like this.

We don't even have the bases set up yet!

And then the Breaker of Worlds kills the rest of the vampires.  This is all witnessed from above by Captain Luna and her Krieger minions (running the cameras).  They are fliming and reporting this incident back to the War Room in Castle Dracula so that the vampire leaders get an idea of what this Worthy can accomplish.

Chief among the vampires is Dracula.  If you haven't seen the Lord of the Vampires lately, you might be surprised by his look.  Today's Drac sports white hair pulled back into a pretentious ponytail and sleek black and red armor.  His son, Janus (the guy with spiked hair and a goatee), is Dracula's attendant, giving the vampire Lord all the pertinent information on the Hulk and expanding to talk about Fear Itself in broad terms.  The final important guy in this room is the Krieger Legate, who has leadership over the vampire armies.

The Legate claims that an army of forty-five thousand can be assembled in a day.  In two hours, he can put together eight thousand.  Drac mentions that they may not HAVE a day.  From there, Janus fills Dracula in on Fear Itself.  Maybe you've heard of it.  When the Legate and Janus start trying to solve the world event, the Lord of the Vampires pulls them back to the issue at hand: a super-charged Hulk ravaging the countryside.

While the vampires work on a solution to the Hulk problem, they send in two waves of Charniputra.  These guys are basically cannon fodder but they keep Nul busy.  Meanwhile, Captain Luna and her film crew have taken to the air to record another massacre.

When the Charniputra are killed, the Breaker of Worlds notices the vampires' eye in the sky and throws some well aimed stones into one of the VTOL's engines.  Captain Luna's craft plummets, taking away Dracula's eyes on the scene.

Back in the War Room, the Lord of the Vampires is getting more confirmation that the Hulk is even more powerful than usual.  After this stunning revelation, he and his command crew gets a surprise visit from an old rival.

The room goes dark as his Krieger guards get kicked into submission.  When the lights come on, Dracula smiles as Raizo Kodo makes his appearance.

Raizo Kodo should be familiar to long time Super Readers.  He showed up in X-Men #11 in Professor X's 1950's Africa flashback.  Kodo is the closest thing you're going to get to a good vampire.  Janus (who has good tendencies) is shocked at Raizo's appearance and almost has a rush of what looks like idol worship before running into one of Raizo Kodo's companions.

That's right.  Kodo brought friends.  Meet: The Forgiven.  More vampire good guys.  Raizo hinted of their existence in X-Men #11 but this is their first out and out appearance.  From left to right we have Quickshot (a Korean vamp), Inka (a hooded girl), Visigoth (big bruiser), Sanjay (light blonde hair and loose scarf), and Nighteyes (black lady with the staff).  Place your bets on which one will be dying by issue #3!

Raizo is here to set aside old differences and fight alongside his fellow vampires against a common foe.  Dracula?  He's not about to do that just yet.  The Lord of the Vampires orders the Forgiven thrown into the dungeon.  For a moment, we think this is going to end in a fight but Kodo didn't enter Castle Dracula to kill vampires.

The next scene, we see the Forgiven in the dungeon playing coin games.  Visigoth is sick and tired of all this sitting on his hands and displays that they are in jail of their own will when he breaks down the door to ask the guard for some coins.

Raizo tells Sanjay to explain.  The dungeon is just the first step in many rounds of negotiation.  Eventually, the other vampires will accept their help.  Its just going to be a tiresome process for a vampire of Visigoth's patience.

In a higher level of the castle, Dracula is having a private conversation with his son.

And after that, Religious Medalions so I can finally wear that awesome cross necklace I picked up at the mall.

Janus would like Dracula to reconsider his stance on the Forgiven but that's not an approved topic of conversation.  Right now, their focus is on the former Hulk.  Dracula might not have figured out how to stop the Worthy but he's still putting obstacles in Nul's path.

Next up is an airdrop delivering one of the Wendigoes to the Breaker of Worlds.  It's just a prelude.  The sky is filled with more jets, all of them dropping similar payloads.

As Nul smashes the Wendigo, he faces a literal army of monsters with even more on the way.


Fear Itself: The Monkey King #1Fear Itself: The Monkey King #1
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Juan Doe

In this issue:

• We get a story about how the Monkey King couldn't leap out of Buddha's palm.

• In the present, the current Monkey King beats up some thugs in Hong Kong.

• Fifteen years ago, the Monkey King gets tricked by a criminal named Lion into trapping himself in a cave that holds the original Monkey King's staff.

• Lion goes on to control the crime network in Hong Kong while the Monkey King meets his namesake and is sentenced to the Eighth City forever.

• This lasts until a giant hammer breaks open the door.  After that, the Monkey King is free to get some revenge on Lion.

• Hey, he also gets to beat up some assassin girls.

• The Monkey King confronts Lion and flies the man up to the same cave where he was originally trapped.

• Tossing Lion inside, the Monkey King declares his awesomeness and will fight to make the country a better place just in case he ever has to meet Buddha.

Fear Itself may be in full effect.  There might even be a banner on the front of this comic telling you that this is a Fear Itself tie-in.

It's not.

What it is is a continuation of the Monkey King's story from Iron Man 2.0 #7 which was much more closely related to Fear Itself.  Kinda.  In that story, Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, leaves the Eighth City of Hell to journey out in the regular world even though he seemed to be enjoying his time in Hell.  This book is what happens after he gets to Hong Kong.

But first, a story about Buddha.

I'm not going to say I'm an expert on Buddha stories but I'll do my best to talk my way through this one.  It turns out the original Monkey King had a massive ego on his shoulders.  To cure him of it, the great and powerful Buddha wagered that the Monkey King wouldn't be able to leap out of Buddha's hand before it closed.  The Monkey King took one giant leap and found himself standing next to five pillars.  When he went back to Buddha to brag about his win, Buddha told him to go back and check those pillars out.

You get where this is going.  Those pillars were actually Buddha's fingers because the Monkey King hadn't actually jumped out of Buddha's hand.  They closed around the Monkey King and proved a point to us all about humility.

This isn't the story about THAT Monkey King but he DOES make an appearance.  The current Monkey King is a different dude but he has all of the memories and abilities as the original.

The next scene in the book takes place in Hong Kong in that fascinating era of "NOW."  It features the all-new, all-different Sun Wukong fighting Hong Kong gangsters.  When these guys drop, two other gangster rush in, thinking they stand a chance.  They don't.  When the Monkey King shows up magically behind them, the two realize their odds and run away as fast as they can.

This gives the Monkey King a chance to turn into a giant tree frog and begin scaling a skyscraper.

From this point on, we zip back and forth between the past and the present for no good reason except "that's what you're supposed to do in a comic book, right?"  Instead of giving you fine people chronal whiplash from all of the time changes, I'm just going to tell the story as chronologically as possible.  That means we go back fifteen years into the past and follow events right up to this tree frog moment.

And so... fifteen years into the past.  Hong Kong.  A card game.  Sitting at the table is the man who even back then called himself the Monkey King.  He is the Kingpin of Hong Kong and does all sorts of nasty things with his power but still has enough morality to keep some of the seedier elements under control.  Basically, the Monkey King is a thief who directs other thieves.

One of the guys at this table isn't working for the Monkey King.  He calls himself "Lion."  The Monkey King confronts this guy for working outside his network system and gets a little bit on the violent side when dealing with the unauthorized criminal.

Lion is quick to entice the Monkey King with a gift.  True to his nature, the Monkey King calms right down to get his just reward.

This leads Lion and the Monkey King to the Wudangshan Mountains where Lion has located the cave where the original Monkey King is buried.  Inside is the rod of the Monkey King and untold riches.  All the current Monkey King has to do is get through all the traps.  Lion easily tricks the Monkey King into daring the traps and before you know it, the staff is right before the skilled thief.

Which is about the time that Lion flips a switch and shuts the entrance, trapping the Monkey King inside.  This is... this is a lot of work to go through just to kill a man and take his empire but we saw how well Lion fared against the Monkey King.  Maybe this was the only way he could do it.

Inside the cave, the Monkey King grabs his new staff before facing the wrath of the original Monkey King.

For a little extra money, we can have Kuurth run through Hong Kong. It doesn't make sense but apparently the editors aren't too concerned about that sort of thing.

The original dude is impressed that someone actually got his staff but can't really abide someone stealing his stuff.  He gives the Monkey King a chance to be weighed on some heavy morality scales.  If he is evil, he'll be sent to the Eighth City for some eternal torment.  If he's essentially good, the staff and freedom is his reward.

Well, we all know how that went.  All the same, the new Monkey King retained the original Monkey King's staff and even got the original's memories and abilities in the bargain.  In fact, Sun Wukong had the time of his life in Hell after learning the lay of the land.  Sure, he learned that he had been a terrible human being and has decided to make up for that now that he's freed but otherwise it was a vacation where he never grew older.

One Fear Itself intervention later (described in Iron Man 2.0 #'s 5-7) and the Monkey King is back to reality.

He's also back to being a tree frog scaling the side of a skyscraper.  When he reaches his floor, the Monkey King jumps into a particular office and faces down a bunch of assassin women.  This fight is mostly off-panel but Sun Wukong beats up these women without even trying and while noting how awesome he is.  Chivalry is dead, people.  That happens when a woman comes at you with a bloody chainsaw.

Now, the Monkey King gets a chance to confront his replacement as Hong Kong kingpin.  Lion.  The man is much grayer than he used to be.  During this little chat, Lion pretty much says that he got the real evil stuff going in Hong Kong.  You know.  The stuff that the Monkey King was keeping out.  As Sun Wukong says, "I did bad stuff-- not like you.  You're a freakin' monster.  But I lived my life... POORLY, and I was punished for it."

After tossing Lion around for a while (at one point becoming an ACTUAL lion), the Monkey King changes into a bird and takes the crime lord for a flight over the city.  Below, the work of the demons let out of the Eighth City is shown.  Fires are raging across the city.  Wukong has decided that his mission will be to put these demons back where they belong and taking down Lion's criminal empire.  It'll be a busy week, right?

Now that the Monkey King is out of the Eighth City, he wants to make sure he doesn't end up back there.  That means being a good person and eating all his peas and carrots at meal time.  It also means cleaning up the messes out there in Hong Kong.  And Lion?  Well, there's no reason he can't enjoy a little justified revenge, right?

The Monkey King flies right up to the cave where he was trapped all those years ago.  This time, it'll be Lion who is trapped inside and dropped into the Eighth City.  Sun Wukong would have killed him in his previous life but that's not his new MO.  In the Eighth City, Lion won't even age.

Sure.  Eternal Torment.  Is that so high a price to pay?

After the cave closes behind Lion, the Monkey King poses dramatically as declares his mission to be the best super-hero he can be so that the next time he meets Buddha, they'll be cool.


The New Avengers #16The New Avengers #16
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato

In this issue:

• The Avengers talk about how no one is worthy of being an Avenger because they are all horrible human beings.

• We close the book and move on to something more worthwhile.

• I mean... um... we watch as Daredevil confronts the Nazi Mech menace.

• After fighting a couple Nazi Mechs, DD learns that they are massing on Avengers Mansion to finish off the Avengers HQ set.

• Still inside the Mansion with Danielle Cage is the super-powered nanny, Squirrel Girl.  Suddenly, the attack outside is redirected at a new target.

• When the gun fire stops, we learn that it was Daredevil inside a Nazi Mech taking down all of the bad guys.

• The fight isn't over yet, though.  Daredevil locates the Mansion's Panic Room and gets Squirrel Girl and the baby inside.

• After Fear Itself is over with, Daredevil gets membership into Luke Cage's Avengers team as his reward.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

It turns out that the Avengers like checking out the internet to see what angry fanboys think about them and the Avengers line-up.  The guy starting the the Oral History of the Avengers narration that serves as a framing sequence for both Avengers and New Avengers as they run through the Fear Itself event is Hawkeye and he's learned that the internet is fully of whiny human beings that have to complain about everything.  I know!  I'm surprised, too.

We're not going to stick with Hawkeye for the whole narration.  The previous Fear Itself issues of New Avengers have stuck with just the one narrator but for this final Fear Itself tie-in, they're going all out.  We get Wolverine, Spider-Man, the Protector, Dr. Strange, Luke Cage, Iron Man, Spider-Woman, Squirrel Girl, Jessica Jones, and one very special, final narrator.  We'll get to him later.

What all of them seem to get from the internet is that no one should be an Avenger.  Each one lists why everyone else shouldn't be on the team.  You probably don't have to guess they're reasons.  After all, you're on the internet.  "A crazy ninja mutant (Wolverine)."  "A public menace (Spider-Man)."  "An alien from outer space (the Protector)." "A wizard (Doctor Strange)." "A convicted criminal (Luke Cage)." "A rich, drunk guy (Iron Man)." "An ex-Hydra Agent (Spider-Woman)." "A circus boy with a criminal record (Hawkeye)."

So, there's some valid reasons for not accepting these guys on your premiere super-hero team... though I'm not sure about the alien and the wizard thing being anywhere near valid.  Well, anyway, you get the picture.  The internet hates every single one of the Avengers both in the real world and in the Marvel Universe.  So, y'know, similarities.

All of this is leading up to one of the least likely Marvel heroes being offered membership to the team and I'm not talking about D-Man.  He's already been and gone.

This is the story of how Daredevil saved the life of a baby during Fear Itself.  Matt Murdock is leaping around the city when his radar sense picks up the Blitzkrieg reaching New York City.  He starts out tackling the closest Nazi Mech as it's opening fire at the civilians all around him.  This one falls relatively easily.

The thing is it's not the individual firepower.  It's the overall numbers.  There are a LOT of them.

When confronting the this army of Nazi Mechs, Daredevil leaps around all over the place.  The Nazis fire blindly all over the place but mostly end up hitting each other.  Daredevil finishes off this wave with one of their own gattling guns.

It's cool if I shoot Nazis even though I usually have a thing against killing, right?

Right after this fight, Avengers Tower falls.  Murdock is shocked by this.  Soon after the fall of the Tower, DD overhears one of the Nazis talking about taking down Avengers Mansion next.  The Mansion isn't being attacked by one of the Worthy.  Instead, a LOT of Nazi Mechs are sieging the place.

Inside Avengers Mansion, Squirrel Girl is holding Danielle Cage (Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' baby) as bullets fly all around her.  The Mansion is supposed to be going into lockdown but it looks like that is proving ineffective against this many Nazi Mechs.

With a quickness, the bullets stop whizzing through the Mansion.  They're still blasting away outside but nothing is coming inside.  When Squirrel Girl takes a look out of one of the broken windows, she sees only one Mech still standing.  This one shot up all the other ones in what must have been a very confusing bit of combat.

And, yeah, it was piloted by a blind man with radar senses.

Daredevil shoults to Squirrel Girl to get as far away from the front door as possible and then blasts it in with the Mech.  This fight definitely isn't over with.  Murdock leads Squirrel Girl and the baby into the kitchen and uses his abilities to find the Super-Panic Room.  You'd think this would be something that Squirrel Girl would know about considering how many times she's probably going to be in it.

After that, we slip and slide our way to the other end of Fear Itself.  Things have calmed down considerably.  In Hell's Kitchen, Matt Murdock does some lawyering behind his desk at Nelson & Murdock when he picks up the presence of some friends on the roof.

Donning his DD suit, Matt leaps up and greets Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and their baby, Danielle.  It looks like the Cage family is accounted for.  Questions on how Fear Itself ends aren't really given so don't look for any clues here.

Luke and Jessica are so happy that the Man Without Fear saved their kid that they've come to give the blind lawyer a present.  It's an Avengers ID card.

Like I said before: Daredevil is one of the more unlikely Avengers and the even MORE unlikely ones have already joined the team.  Regardless, Matt isn't convinced that this is a good idea.  After the whole Shadowland thing, he doesn't feel he's got as many friends in the super-hero community.

Turns out there's nothing like rescuing a baby to change a few opinions.  Besides, this isn't Steve Rogers' Avengers.  This is Luke's team and he can invite anyone he damn well pleases.

We end this issue with the same Oral History narrative device that started things off.  This time, instead of telling us why these guys shouldn't be Avengers, the heroes are telling us why they ARE.  "Selfless samurai warrior (Wolverine)." "Misunderstood hero who never gives up (Spider-Man)." "Cunning military mind from another culture (the Protector)." "True master and protector of the mystic arts (Doctor Strange)." "An unbreakable urban warrior (Luke Cage)." "A futurist (Yeah, that's all Iron Man has going for him)." "Best secret agent in the world (Black Wi... um... Spider-Woman)." "Best marksman on the planet (Hawkeye)."

Closing things off is the newest Avenger, Daredevil. "A swashbuckling ninja who can't say no to a friend."

Journey Into Mystery #627Journey Into Mystery #627
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Richard Elson

In this story:

• Mephisto visits a bar at closing time and tells the bartender about the day he's been having.

• It starts at the Infinite Embassy, a hangout for gods, demonds, and supernatural creatures of all shapes and sizes.  Mephisto gleans a bit of information from the "people" here about the godheads' plan.

• At the Devil's Advocacy, Mephisto doesn't learn much but does reveal some of what he has already learned.

• Meeting privately with Nightmare, Mephisto advises the dream lord to wait this battle out.

• After sharing this story with the bartender, the Lord of Lies offers his server a deal to live forever.

• He takes it... and becomes ink for Mephisto's writing.  The Marvel Devil writes a one word letter to the Serpent and has a secret message sent to Asgard, telling them what Kid Loki has been up to.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Is is interlude time, people!

While we had a good Kid Loki story going on, we're taking a short break from that to show what's been going on in the life of the Lord of Lies, Mephisto.

The story is baesed off of some urban legend saying that at the end of the day, the Devil visits a different bar and tells the bartender a story.  When he's done, the bartender gets a reward.  It's left vague enough that the reward might not be all that great.

As the issue states, the urban legend isn't true but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen every so often.  So it goes that Mephisto, the closest thing you get to the Marvel Devil, visits a bar right in the middle of Fear Itself.

It's closing time but the bartender knows what's up.  As Mephisto complains about a lack of pretzels, the bartender settles in for storytime.

We begin with basic discussion of Fear Itself for those who haven't been paying attention for the last few months or just started the title with this issue.  If you've made it this far into my column, I'm guessing you have an idea of what's going on.  Fear taking over the world.  Major Asgardian Fear God returning to assert his authority.  Impending doom coming from Odin.  Good times all around!

After that, Mephisto moves right on to how his day has gone.  This leads us right to the Infinite Embassy.  This is a place built by the Living Tribunal to play host to all the cosmic goings on.  The big rule is no fighting or you'll tick the Living Tribunal off and he's a guy with enough power to keep everyone else in line.  So it's good for pretty much every supernatural entity and some powerful magic users.

This is where the council of the godheads meets to discuss the whole Fear Itself thing.  Mephisto isn't allowed in the meeting.  Devil.  Not a godhead.  Still, he gleans information from other people in the know.  What he learns is that the other godly sects are leaving this one to the Asgardians.  The only ones that really disputed this were the Olympians and that's because they've made Earth their home and the Asgardians' plans are burn the planet to a crisp.  They still agreed to let this one go either than face the wrath of the rest of the godly orders.

From the Infinite Embassy, we head to the lower planes to the Devil's Advocacy.  This is where all of the higher level demons gather around the empty throne of Satan and do their devilish things.  Mephisto tells the bartender that while a lot of demons CLAIM to be the real Satan, none of them would dare sit in Satan's throne.  The rest of the demons will tear them apart.  The Lord of Lies claims to never have ever called himself Satan but he's sort of the Lord of Lies so let's just move on.

Mephisto doesn't get much new information here.  Cyttorak rages on about the Serpent, which has a lot to do with his avatar being coopted by the fear god (Gillen's other Fear Itself book, Uncanny X-Men has this story).  Dormammu is still trapped in his dimension (which isn't EXACTLY true-- see Fear Itself issues of Iron Man 2.0 to watch as he possesses Iron Fist).  Surtur's underlings are in attendance which is pretty much all Mephisto needs to know that the fire giant is making a comeback VERY soon (Surtur appeared last issue which heavily hinted he'd be appearing in the middle of Dark Asgard before this story is over).

Besides that, Mephisto reveals more information to these demons than he gains.  Since we just mentioned his findings a few paragraphs ago, we can move on.

Next on the Marvel Devil's agenda is a meeting with dream lord, Nightmare.  Since Nightmare draws his strength from people's terror while in the midst of bad dreams, you'd think this would be his time to shine.  Not so much.  It turns out that the Serpent is sucking up all the Fear and leaving nothing for the other minor fear lords.  Nightmare is stuck between the idea of attacking the Serpent or begging him for table scraps.

Mephisto advises neither action.  He thinks that the best Nightmare could do is stay well out of it and risk being destroyed for lack of fear energy.  Anything else would most likely lead to his certain destruction so stay on the sidelines and maybe live.  Honestly?  That's pretty good advice.  I'm trying to work out the lie in it but maybe Mephisto was really doing Nightmare a solid.

That would lead us right up to the end of Mephisto's day and him showing up at this particular bar to tell this particular bartender all about it.  In truth,  it's been trying on the Lord of Lies but he's not too bent out of shape over things.

I'm surprised at how much this guy is appearing during Fear Itself.

Finished with his drink, Mephisto turns to go.  He mentions that all of his schemes are going to pull him WAY ahead in the business of evil and even says that he's going to have a date with a South American lady (Magma from New Mutants) when Fear Itself is all over with.  The bartender stops him and inquires about a certain tip that should have been delivered according to the story.  Well then, let's see how a Devil can screw a guy.

Does living forever sound like a good thing?  With the caveat that there will be no pain or bartending involved, the poor, stupid bartender agrees.  Mephisto smiles.

The bartender joins the Lord of Lies in Hell where he is ground up and made into ink while still alive.  Don't worry!  His pain centers have been turned off so he's not feeling any of this.  With this bloody ink, Mephisto writes a one word letter to the Serpent, claiming that through the written word, the bartender would indeed live forever.  He also says that it was the lack of pretzels that sealed the man's fate.

Handing this letter off to one of his messenger demons, Mephisto tells the creature to deliver another blood letter to "whoever rules Asgard when this is all over."  This letter won't be delivered DIRECTLY but it WILL make it's way to the proper recipient.  What does this one say?

"Loki Laufeyson has freed Surtur from Limbo."

Oh, betrayal most foul.  I can't say I didn't see it coming.  This is, after all, Mephisto.  He sits back and waits to see what his old conspiror will do.


Alpha Flight #4Alpha Flight #4
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Dale Eaglesham

In this issue:

• Canada keeps doing crazy evil things like having a political prison labor camp.

• Guardian gets rid of his Canadian flag look in favor of exposed circuits and stuff.  Alpha Flight prepares to cross the border in the USA.

• Northstar tracks down where he believes his boyfriend is being held.  To get through to Kyle, Jean-Paul is going to need the rest of Alpha Flight.

• He catches up with them ten miles into US territory.  Alpha Flight teleports right back into Canada to the political prison labor camp.

• There are also what look like aliens.

• To win the fight, Guardian recruits the political prisoners who have been loaded into primitive versions of the Guardian armor.  Mac also puts the maple leaf back on, courtesy of Marrina.

• With this battle won, Alpha Flight and their new allies race off, forming a revolutionary army.

• Kyle Jinadu is healed by the Unity process and declares his loyalty to the real leader behind the Unity Party.  The Master of the World.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

If you've been reading the latest Alpha Flight book, then you know what we're getting into here.  The Canadian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Gary Cody, has declared martial law.  This leads to the imprisonment without warrant of a number of people who the state considers troublemakers.  The Canadian super-team, Alpha Flight, was rounded up for a process called "Unity."  Honestly, it's amazing how quickly Canada turned into 1984.

Alpha Flight has escaped their noose and are on their way to the United States so they can recruit Wolverine and one or more of his various super-teams for help overthrowing the Canadian government.  On their way, they've already hit a few issues.  Northstar has left the team to go searching for his boyfriend who WE know was arrested on the operating table after being attacked by a Box Unit meant for Jean-Paul.  Aurora had a fight with her own personality over going through the Unity process and ended up losing that battle (if that's possible).  She returned to the team but we all know she's just waiting for the moment to betray them all.  Finally, there's Walter Langkowski.  Last issue, we learned that he might be suffering from cognitive degeneration and can no longer change into his Sasquatch form.

Before we get back to Alpha Flight, let's start this story in Saskatchewan.  The reporter from the first issue, Alice Hu, is being brought to a special camp for undesirables.  Once there, Hu is forced into a helmet and harness suit to strip the area of it's resources for government purposes.

So, prison work camp.  Probably not the most legal thing that the Canadian Government could be doing.

In Ontario, James MacDonald Hudson and Walter Langkowski stand on a platform overlooking Niagara Falls.  Marrina is in the background.  At this point in the game, Mac is so ashamed of his country that he's done wearing the Canadian flag on his costume.  He's stripped the suit of it's maple leaf and drops discarded material over the falls.

Canada has closed it's borders to prevent a flood of refugees to race to the Canada side of North America to escape the ravages of Fear Itself.  At the same time, it looks like the United States is still allowing Canadians to cross the border with relative ease.  If you look around, no one's even trying to get INTO Canada.

To make things more interesting, the Canadian Border Patrol are on the look out for Alpha Flight.  This is pretty much worthless because Shaman is using a simple cloaking spell to keep them disguised.  The team gets across every inspection with ease.

This includes Marrina separating from the team to take a swim while no one is looking.  She rejoins the team and gets chewed out by Aurora.  This leads into talk about Northstar separating from the team to find his boyfriend, Kyle.  Aurora dreams of the day when her twin brother will give up this lifestyle, settle down with a woman and start having children.  Marrina almost laughs out loud at this thought.

Let's check up on Jean-Paul right now.  He flies back to the apartment that he shares with his boyfriend and finds the place trashed.  Quicker than you can blink, the mutant speeds over to the local police station and picks up some one of the peace officers for some special questioning.  The policeman is talking to a friend about a hockey player named "Arune Singh."  This is a name I read a lot and it's not because I'm a hockey fan.  Arune Singh is Marvel's Manager of Sales Communication so you see his name a lot when you're handling press releases.

Northstar carries this policeman into the sky and demands to know where Kyle Jinadu is.  After dropping the poor guy once and then suspending the man by his tearing sleeve, the policeman finally tells Jean-Paul everything he knows.  It's not much.  Kyle was taken by people from the Unity Party.  He also talks about a prison labor camp in Northern Saskatchewan.  Maybe this is where Kyle has wound up.

Now, we head to a family home outside of Ottowa.  This is where the daughter of Vindicator and Guardian, Claire Hudson, is living with her legal guardians, David and Yvette MacNeil.  Vindicator is the only member of Alpha Flight that has stayed loyal to the government (meaning she betrayed the team) and her reward for that is her daughter.  That's why the house is being surrounded by government agents.

David can't understand why they're here.  After all, he voted for the new Prime Minister and would never support Guardian's betrayal.  He's totally misread the situation.  Heather breaks in through the upper levels of the building and demands her daughter back.  If they don't hand her over, she's going to kill them.

Instead of doing what Vindicator tells them to do, David huddles near his family and starts shouting at Heather.  This has... consequences.

Can I take a little more off the top?

The peace officers that have surrounded the building already have Vindicator's cover story written up to explain these deaths.  Heather Hudson scoops up her crying child and flies back to Department H.

Once there, she opens up the doors holding Alpha Strike.  Director Brown tries to stop her because the Alpha Strike team isn't exactly kid-friendly.  Hudson disregards him and brings Claire in to meet her team of monsters.  There's more crying.  Of course there is.

Alpha Flight is ten miles into the United States when Snowbird and Shaman both get rushes of pain.  The Serpent's attack on New York and other areas has increased his power in the world and those sensitive to that sort of thing are getting the backlash.  Shaman turns on the mystic television set and shows the rest of the team pictures of a devastated New York.  Mac asks to see Wolverine.  Instead of splitting the screen into four different viewers to cover everything Logan is doing, it just shows the one Wolverine.

Guardian tells Wolverine that they're coming to help but this is just like a television and the X-Man/ Avenger/ X-Forcer/ Pet Avenger can't hear him.  Shaman asks Mac what he meant since they crossed the border to GET help, not GIVE help.  The leader of Alpha Flight believes that the SOURCE of the Fear has to be removed before the people of Canada can REALLY be helped.

Northstar flies in from Saskatchewan at this moment saying that he needs their help back across the border.  Now.

Shaman uses his magic to transport the team back into Canada.  That was the most pointless roadtrip ever.  Michael Twoyoungmen explains that he would have teleported them OUT of Canada but he didn't use this magic then because it was too easy to track.  That means that the bad guys are probably informed of their activities now and they'll be overrun if they don't move fast.

Looking at the scene, we see prisoners of the state using those harness suits shown earlier to mine the natural resources in the area.  James Hudson is the designer of these suits but he never expected them to be used like THIS.  Even so, he wonders why this would require the whole team.  There are only twelve guards on the scene, something Northstar should have been able to handle with ease.

Well, it turns out the guards are only the first difficulty.  It's the alien ship and its crew that is the real concern.  Something like that actually DOES require the whole team and a whole lot more.  Puck also makes sure that everyone remembers that he had already pinned this whole thing on aliens last issue.

Alpha Flight attacks.  Northstar takes out the human guards but the alien ones are another matter.  Guys like Puck, Marrina, and the depowered Sasquatch aren't making even a dent in these things.  Guardian will have to improvise.

He approaches the nearest prisoner who just happens to be Alice Hu from earlier.  She's a mess.  Mac has to tell her that the armor she's wearing is the perfect weapon to use against these forces.  After some shouting about how they "actually might CARE about [their] COUNTRY enough to FIGHT for it," Marrina shows up to give Guardian back his Maple Leaf outer costume.  She fished it out of the water while everyone else was worried about getting across the border.  Donning his traditional colors, Guardian leads his new army to victory against these alien things.

When they've won the field, everyone has an opinion on what to do next.  The Parliament opposition leader thinks they should take this directly to the government but those who have been on the outside know how useless that'll be.  Nope, the only option is to start a revolution.

As they fly away, Northstar expresses his frustration in not being able to find his boyfriend.  Mac assured Jean-Paul that when they take the country back, they'll find Kyle Jinadu.

We can find out what's happened to him right now.  It appears that Kyle was taken to the an undisclosed facility in the middle of critical surgery.  At this base, Jinadu was taken apart piece by piece and then put back together in perfect Unity.  Long time readers can probably figure out who's the mastermind behind the Unity Party before they turn the page.  It's someone who was taken apart and reassembled in much the same way.

It is the Master of the World, long-time Alpha Flight villain.  Surrounding him are the other members of Alpha Strike.  The Purple Woman, Citadel, Ranark the Ravager, and a Wendigo.  While Vindicator isn't in the room, her daughter is being held by the Wendigo.  Kyle is the next willing member of the team.

Their first target?  Northstar.


Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #523Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #523
Writer: David Liss
Artist: Francesco Francavilla

In this issue:

• Black Panther retakes the Police Station because he's the Black Panther and he's awesome.

• He also fights the American Panther and beat him up.  This happens three more times in this comic so get used to it.

• The Hate-Monger escapes and incites more people to do hatefilled things.

• Black Panther shows up to stop the villain and begins a low-tech exorcism.

• After numerous interuptions, including a short round two with the American Panther, T'challa exorcizes the Hitler clone.

• Which leads right into round three with the American Panther to show that even when there's no mind control involved, the battle belongs to Black Panther.

• Everyone who needs to be arrested is arrested but the American Panther's clothes disappear.  I've had days like that.

• T'challa breaks a bunch of federal laws to get Foggy Nelson off the hook for falsifying immigration documents.

• Juliann Chambliss, the former owner at the Devil's Diner, gets a job cleaning toilets.

• The new American Panther puts on his costume for the first time.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

The Hate-Monger was originally the clone of Hitler (well, I think ORIGINALLY originally, it was ACTUALLY Hitler but keep on going) who had the power to bring out all the hate in other and rule over them.  The monster eventually lost his corporeal form and was sent off in deep space where he couldn't harm anyone.  Hitching a ride back to the states on Angrir's hammer, the Hate-Monger found a home in the body of a man who followed his evil path: Josh Glenn.

Since this was in the middle of Fear Itself, emotions were already right on the edge.  It didn't take much for the Hate-Monger to stir up the people of Hell's Kitchen and take full advantage of the chaos swarming all around them.  He set up a mind controlled police officer as his heroic symbol, the American Panther, and took over the police station to further his goals of conquering all of New York.  This would then be used as a staging ground to rule all of the United States and so on and so forth.

Since it's Hell's Kitchen, the local hero had to get involved.  In this case, that hero isn't the swashbuckling Daredevil.  It's the former king of Wakanda, the Black Panther.  Hate-Monger's hatefilled mob confronted T'challa in his civilian identity as Mr. Okonkwo and forced him out of his own diner.  They also implicated Okonkwo and Foggy Nelson in immigration fraud... which is totally true.  The two spent the night in jail before getting bailed out by lawyer, Becky Blake.

Since then, the Black Panther has begun his master plan of fighting back.  That meant infiltrating the police station and getting himself captured.  It also meant that his employee and accomplice, Sofija, also needed to be taken prisoner.  The controlled policemen are just about to shoot these to troublemakers in the back when the Black Panther's bomb destroys the power generator.  The place goes black.

A device on Sofija's collar emits a noise that unlocks handcuffs.  She tosses T'challa some night vision glasses and our hero goes to work on the policemen.  It's only when the Black Panther tries hitting the Hate-Monger that he meets some resistance in the form of the American Panther.

While the two Panthers punch each other, Sofija uses a tranq gun agains the cops.  One almost has the drop on her but she recovers nicely and gives the dude a beatdown.

As far as the Panther fight?  American Panther is outmatched in almost every way.  Black Panther tells the guy that there was never a moment where this bully had a chance to beat him and last issue's fight only ended like it did because that's how T'challa had planned it.  As the American Panther falls, the Hate-Monger flees.  After taking down one last cop with a tranq dart, Sofija asks what the Black Panther is going to do about that.

The obvious answer is: track him.

I got this stuff all over me, too.  The only answer is to burn it off!

Once again, Hate-Monger has the crowd in the palm of his hands, ready to burn down a local refugee center for having the gall to not already be on fire.  Just as someone steps up to light up the joint, Black Panther pulls him back and makes his way to the stage.  Someone tries to hit him with a baseball bat from behind but that guy ends up on the ground with a broken arm.  The Wakandan hero isn't messing around.

The Hate-Monger still feels unbeatable.  This isn't his body, after all, and he can control it even if it's dead.  T'challa's plans aren't so brutal.  This is going to be a low-tech exorcism.  The first step is planting some diodes on Hate-Monger's forehead.  After this is done, the Panther is pulled into the crowd by some irrate rioters.  To his rescue come some local citizens who have been helped by the Black Panther in recent days.  They'll keep these guys occupied while T'challa does his thing.

Luckily, those wires are connected to the Hate-Monger by glue or something because the villain hasn't been able to remove them just yet.  BP gives the Hate-Monger is punch to the face while he connects the wires to his exorcism device.  RIGHT before he hits the master button, the American Panther shows up to stop him.

T'challa takes the American Panther down with one good, swift kick and then gets back to his exorcism device.  One little press of a button and the Hate-Monger is no longer an issue.  All of the hate he spread to the crowd quickly fades away.

That doesn't mean it's over.  Even though it was shown that the American Panther was being controlled by the Hate-Monger, the guy still pulls out his guns and tries to kill T'challa.  I guess we needed one more fight between these two.  Once more, the Black Panther easily bests the Panther dressed up in the American Flag.  T'challa kicks him into the crowd and the man is quickly pulled under.

Up on stage, Josh Glenn admits that he felt like he was doing everything while possessed and he had a definite streak of Hate-Monger worship going there.  Regardless, he's arrested and a judge will have to sort out the whole possession thing.

Other police officers arrest the American Panther but by the time they retrieve him from the crowd, his swanky costume is gone.

That very night, Black Panther pays a visit to the FBI building.  Yes, he breaks in.  Yes, he deletes government files.  This is more illegal activity to cover up his previous illegal activity.  All of this is done to keep Foggy Nelson out of jail for helping him break immigration laws.

Two days after that, Julian Chambliss, the former owner of the Devil's Diner (which is T'challa's diner, now) shows up at the place as they workers are fixing the place up.  He's one of the few people that followed the Hate-Monger without the creature manipulating him.  Still, he admits that maybe Mr. Okonkwo had a point about this place not being HIS anymore.  The problem is, this place still FEELS like his and he would like to do something to help out.  Basically, he'd like a job.  Sofija puts him to work cleaning toilets because that's the kind of girl she is.

Someone's got to have the American Panther suit.  Even though we don't learn who this guy is, we do see him suiting up for the first time.  He took it because it felt like it was HIS.  Wait'll the world gets a load of him.


Ghost Rider #3Ghost Rider #3
Writer: Rob Williams
Penciler: Brian Ching

In this issue:

• Johnny Blaze, the former Ghost Rider, is nearly killed by the new one but is saved by the Seeker, a zombie who gave the new female Ghost Rider her powers in the first place.

• Adam uses the Ghost Rider to create an anti-sin bomb, annihilating all sin and other motivation from the entire country of Nicaragua.

• Which pleases the Serpent.

• And freaks out the three Avengers passing through South America at the time (Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Woman-- I don't know where the Protector is but he should be here, too).

• The only living man to survive this bomb is Johnny Blaze who was saved by the Seeker yet again.

• Ghost Rider and Adam invade Cape Canaveral to take a ride on the Space Shuttle.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Johnny Blaze was the Ghost Rider.  Now, he's not.  He got a deal to get rid of his curse (from a dude named Adam) and he took it.  The new Ghost Rider is Alejandra and, man, does she have some issues to get through.  Raised inside a Nicaraguan temple her whole life, Alejandra has been trained to think that everyone should be burned because of their sin.  Last issue, Mephisto convinced Johnny Blaze that the new Ghost Rider could use his perspective on the world and transported him nearby the temple for a confrontation.  Alejandra saw the sin rippling off the former Ghost Rider and decided that it was his turn to be punished.

Which brings us up to now, now.

Blaze is getting tossed around the place when one of his glances freezes on the new Ghost Rider's flaming breasts.  This ticks her off all the more and Alejandra forms a wicked looking blade with her all purpose tool.  Before this blade can take off Johnny's head, it's stopped by the most likely source available.

The Seeker is a zombie who was summoned up with the task of bequeathing the power of the Spirit of Vengeance on the most worthy of Adam's disciples.  That turned out to be Alejandra.  When it turned out that the new Ghost Rider would be punishing the relatively innocent, the Seeker didn't take this well and has been trying to stop this atrocity ever since.

It doesn't hurt that he's kind of a Ghost Rider fanboy.

The Seeker takes the blade through his hand and threatens to weaken this Ghost Rider if she doesn't step in line right now.  The Spirit of Vengeance's powers wasn't meant for EVERYONE.  It was supposed to punish the worst offenders.  Johnny Blaze is no saint but he probably doesn't need to die.

Taking issue with the Seeker's take on things is the enigmatic Adam.  He claims that he is the original Adam (or at least heavily hints at this being the case) and grabs the Ghost Rider by the head.  His intentions are to show the former Ghost Rider some tricks that Blaze could have done all the time if he had thought about them.

The new Ghost Rider unleashes a plague of locusts as Adam quotes from Revelation.  That's not the end of this.  An explosion knocks Johnny Blaze back and a gigantic hellish motorcycle appears near Adam and his disciple.

The whole temple is coming apart and this is the part where Johnny and his new zombie friend run away as fast as they can.

The Seeker totally geeks out when Johnny offers him a ride out of this hellhole.  Unfortunately, the zombie stops taking everything seriously at the same time.  A rock takes off his right arm and he doesn't even seem that concerned.  On the back of Blaze's bike, he regains some of his composure but still squeals in delight during part of the ride.

Just so you notice, Johnny picks up his discarded shotgun on the way out of the temple.

Our hero makes it out just in time.  The whole temple explodes with light.  The disciples of Adam are all linked by a mystic chain which connects right back to the Ghost Rider.

It's just what I wanted!  Who told you?

And this is just the start.  The area of influence continues to expand.

It's a good thing that Johnny Blaze is a master motorcycle driver because he's got to dodge so many rocks and sudden cliff edges on the way out that it's not even funny.  He doesn't drive far enough when a village appears before him.  The people are all freaking out but they won't take to the hills when Blaze pleads with them.

As everything goes white, Johnny Blaze says aloud, "I wish I were still the Ghost Rider."

The Seeker thinks it's about time.  Too bad there's nothing he can do about that particular problem.

Just to keep this thing connected with Fear Itself, we flash over to the Serpent's fortress.  He's sensed the power flooding out from Nicaragua and it makes him very happy.  He tells Skadi that someone is doing their work for them south of the border.

Speaking of tying in to things, there are three Avengers still in South America when this goes down.  Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Woman are driving their way back to New York City after their battle with Nul, Breaker of Worlds, in Avengers #15.  I'm guessing the Protector is JUST off panel.  They catch this explosion of light and Ms. Marvel moves in to investigate.  What she sees is something that hit the entire country and shocks the hell out of her.

Let's view things closer to the ground.  When all of the mystic smoke clears, Johnny Blaze and the Seeker are still walking and talking next to the same village.  The people are walking as well... just not talking.  In fact, they won't talk ever again.  Remember when Mephisto showed Blaze a "world without sin?"  This is the same thing but it's happening live in living color.  These people didn't just lose their ability to sin, they've basically lost their ability to do ANYTHING but go through the motions of life.

This was the fate that Johnny Blaze would have shared except he was protected by the Seeker.  The zombie can negate Ghost Rider's power and thought that the former curse holder could still be part of the solution.  Blaze isn't so sure.  After all, this whole thing can be laid at his feet.  He gave up the curse.  He allowed it to be used by a being like Adam.  The Seeker is pretty sure that Johnny will rise to the occasion.

Ghost Rider and Adam next show up at Cape Canaveral where Alejandra spreads her sinless world to the local guards.  It's time to do the anti-sin bomb on the whole world.  For that, they're going to need a sci-fi space shuttle.


The Incredible Hulk #142The Incredible Hulk #142
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Herb Trimpe

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.

August 1971!  On the stands: Avengers #91, Fantastic Four #113, Daredevil #79, Amazing Spider-Man #99, Captain America #140, and Thor #191. In Incredible Hulk #142, the final part in the convoluted history of the Valkyrie was playing out.

Last issue, Hulk fought Doc Samson for the first time.  This issue, he's swimming up to the Statue of Liberty.  I don't think last issue has much of a reason for WHY but we all know that the Hulk, more than anything, wants to be left alone.  He just wants to do it in areas where everyone will bother him because he also wants to smash things.  He's complicated, people.

So the Hulk climbs up the side of the statue and takes a little snooze on Lady Liberty's shoulder.  Don't expect him to change back to Bruce Banner at this time.  That would be WAY too hilarious.  No, Hulk drops asleep and stays big, mean, and green.

When the morning guard sees the green behemoth snoozing on the Statue, they don't know what to do.  If they wake him up, he's liable to tear the national monument apart in his rage.  Everyone decides to be VERY quiet.  The newspapers buzz about it, nevertheless.

And this is why the Hulk comes to the attention of the Parrington household.  They get their copy of the Daily Bugle and read all about this poor, misunderstood creature who is seen by everyone else as a public menace.  Reggie and Malicia Parrington decide that THIS is the cause they've been waiting for.

You see, the Parrington's are socialites.  They'll give money to any cause out there and have gone to other charity events held by their fellow socialites.  They, however, can't host the SAME charity party.  They need to find something new to support for their own party and the Hulk fits their bill.  When their daughter, Samantha, tells them that they COULD be supporting Women's Lib, the two parents say that they've already been to that support party and nothing would be more embarrassing that repeating a cause.

While the Parrington family makes their way to the Statue of Liberty, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross and Major Glenn Talbot fly up to the Hulk in a helicopter to... you know what?  At this point, I think Ross just wants the Hulk to punch him out of the sky.  There's no weapons on that chopper and you KNOW that all the General is doing is aggravating the big guy.  Basically, they either have a death wish or a contract to appear in every issue regardless of the plot.  Here they are.  Now, let's stop paying attention to them for the rest of the issue.

Being super rich, the Parringtons buy their way through the barricade around Liberty Island and approach the single guard on the island, intent on paying him off as well.  When this doesn't work, Samantha uses her self defense training to knock the guard off the island.  The trio quickly climbs to the top of the statue and try to convince the Hulk to come with them.

The Hulk isn't a trusting guy and nothing Reggie says is going to make him go with these guys.  What he IS a sucker for is a pretty face.  When Samantha explains that his parents can set up some private land for the Hulk to live on and be left alone, the Hulk believes her and joins the Parrington family on a trip back to Manhattan.

In New York, the press swarm around the family that tamed the savage beast.  Reggie Parrington tells a version of the story that takes out his daughter's involvement and paints himself as the hero of the day.  This is all about publicity for himself and his... cause and he doesn't think Samantha will mind.  Completely wrong there, Reggie.  Sam has a fit and tells her dad that while she COULD change the Hulk's mind about going with the Parringtons, that would endanger innocent lives.  Instead, she storms off to come up with an alternate plan.

The socialites' party goes off without a hitch even though Hulk keeps on demanding to see the girl who convinced him of this plan in the first place.  I'm sure this party is full of topical 1970's humor and references.  It even includes a cameo of the guy who inspired the story, Tom Wolfe.  The story is Radical Chic.

So where's Samantha been?  She's been rallying her Women's Lib friends to protest her parents' party.  The gather outside the building and do their best to disrupt the party but nothing on the inside makes us believe that this is doing much of anything.  At least it upsets the two parents.

It also calls attention to someone who CAN make this issue interesting.  The Enchantress is still looking for some revenge on the Hulk for things that happened way back in issue #101.  To do that, she remembers her Valkyrie persona and bestows those abilities on Samantha Parrington.  Unlike the previous time Enchantress used these abilities, Samantha won't be at half power.  That means she might be able to stand against the Hulk.

Parrington is rattled when the spell hits her and wanders off, unnoticed by the rest of the protestors.  When she reaches the Empire State Building, Sam feels compelled to shout "VALHALLA!" at the top of her lungs.  She's struck by lightning and changed into the Valkyrie.

Back at the socialite party, Reginald and Malicia take pledges to get the Hulk his own land somewhere.  When the "hat" comes back around, it's gathered one hundred thousand dollars.  That's probably enough for a nice piece of land in 1970.  When they present the money to the Hulk, it's meaningless to him.  The Hulk feels betrayed by these people.

Before he gets into full-on smash mode, the Valkyrie gets to it for him.  She breaks right inside, shouting Women's Lib epithets.  Of course, she's way over the top on this but that's part of the Valkyrie's charm, right?

Right?

Well, anyway you look at it, this party is ruined.  The Hulk tries keeping with his chivalry (yes, the Hulk is chivalrous) of not attacking a woman but that doesn't mean he can't INDIRECTLY attack her.

You know what?  I'll take that money I turned down earlier, too.  Just in case.

The fight leaves the party and hits the streets below.  Since Hulk still isn't into this fight, he decides it's time to leap away.  The Valkyrie stops him by apologizing for the initial attack.  She's seen the error of her ways and wants a handshake or a hug to end this whole ordeal on a good note.  Hulk walks in and...

FOOLED YOU!

I can't believe you fell for that, man!  What's with you?  The reason why evil will always triumph over good is because good is dumb.

Val gets Hulk in a choke hold and the big guy is unconscious before he knows what hit him.  She drags the gamma powered monster up to the top of the Empire State Building and then throws him to the streets below.  This is done as the Enchantress warns her that the spell is running out.

No sooner does the Hulk leave her hands than the Valkyrie regrets what she's done.  She leaps on down to the streets to see if the Hulk is alright and is relieved to find him hale and hearty.  And ANGRY!

Val moves in to resume her attack but at that moment, the spell comes to an end.  By some wierd magical fluke, the spell also reverts Hulk to his Bruce Banner form.  The two mortals have no idea what was just going on.  Samantha doesn't remember her time as Valkyrie and Bruce Banner can't remember his recent Hulk adventures.  After exchanging some awkward conversation, they walk off in other directions.

On her own, Samantha wonders what just happened... and wonders if it'll happen again.

Samantha Parrington would have a long wait.  In fact, it wasn't until the 2001 version of the Defenders that she would show up again as the Valkyrie.  She served on the Defenders for the rest of its run and on into the Order mini-series that followed.  When the Super-Human Registration Act  went into effect, Samantha was one of the heroes shown at Camp Hammond, learning the ropes in an official capacity.

While she's still around, Parrington isn't the Valkyrie serving with the Secret Avengers.  She's officially in Comic Limbo.  Some day, we'll probably see her again.  Hopefully, it's not as cannon fodder for an event.

So, people, that is that.  Thanks for Reading and I hope to give you even more to read quite soon!

Until then:  Excelsior!

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX

Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:


~OR~

Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook

We get it. You don't feel like signing up for an Outhouse account, even though it's FREE and EASY! That's okay. You can comment with your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail account below and still interact with the greatest comic book community on the internet! But if you change your mind, sign up for an Outhouse account by clicking here.
Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters are not welcome here. Thanks!
Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:

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.

 


More articles from SuperginraiX