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Super Reads 161

The LIVING VAMPIRE!I'm working my way back to you, babe.

Today, we check out Fear Itself: The Home Front #6, Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #5, Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #4, Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3, Avengers #17, Invincible Iron Man #508, Uncanny X-Men #543, Avengers: The Children's Crusade #7, and Blast to the Past for The Amazing Spider-Man #'s 101 & 102.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!
 
Super Reads 161

Hello and welcome once again to Super Reads.  This is where I read every event book so that you don't have to.  Right now, we're hitting the closing days of Fear Itself.

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

First up, the anthology title.

Fear Itself: The Home Front #6Fear Itself: The Home Front #6
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike Mayhew

In this story:

• Miriam Sharpe broadcasts her show on hope over the internet.  The people of Manhattan watch and maybe it makes a difference.

• In Stamford, Miriam wonders if she's reaching anyone when her office is attacked by the Sisters of Sin.

• In Washington, Speedball finishes up some relief efforts and learns that Sharpe is in the middle of being tortured.  He takes a dimensional door straight to Stamford.

• The Sisters of Sin are broadcasting this torture session over the internet, striking out with fear instead of hope.

• Speedball does his hero thing but doesn't last too long before he joins Miriam and Leonard.

• The Sisters of Sin get ready to kill some people but are interrupted by the good people of Stamford.  These guys are sick of being victims.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Fear Itself is reaching it's end game.  Washington D.C. has been hit hard.  New York has been devastated.  Paris is stoned.  Hong Kong has to deal with the return of the Monkey King.  Things are bad all over the place.

In this troubled climate comes a beacon of hope.  Out of Stamford, Connecticut, Miriam Sharpe is broadcasting a message on the internet telling everyone that they can get through all of this if they pull together.  It's being intercut with scenes of people doing just that.  Right now, it means showing Jocasta robots rescuing people in St. Johns, Newfoundland and Speedball doing the same in Washington D.C.

The fact that it's Miriam Sharpe sending this message is a nice touch.  During the Civil War, Speedball and the New Warriors were trying to apprehend some super-criminals when one of the detonated (it was Nitro and that's kind of his power), destroying several city blocks including a school full of children.  One of those kids was called Damien, the son of Miriam.  It led her on a crusade for more regulation on the United States' expanding super-hero population which in turn led to the Super-Hero Registration Act.  That would be Civil War.

The fact that Sharpe can work with Speedball and is spreading this positive message to the world is proof that she's actually looking out for the best interests of the public and doesn't just act out in retaliation for her son's death.  She's actually one of the cooler surprises in this story.  To add to that well-rounded bit of character, Miriam Sharpe gives back to the community with the charity organization, Damien's Gift.

One of her volunteers, Leonard, is manning the cell phone camera for her right now.  Leonard worked closely with Speedball when Robbie was volunteering for Damien's Gift and has stuck behind Baldwin's good character throughout this series.  When the camera goes off, Miriam uses him as a sounding board, curious as to whether what they're doing is making a lick of difference in the world.  After all, the Earth is pretty messed up right now.  Sure, people are listening but are they LISTENING?

It turns out they ARE listening and that's upsetting the wrong type of people.  People like the Sisters of Sin.  This cadre of evil women overrun Damien's Gift and take Miriam and Leonard prisoner.

In Washington D.C., Robbie Baldwin, better known to you and me as Speedball, is just putting the finishing touches on regaining control of the city with the help of the military and police when he one of the policemen shows him a disturbing internet video.  After watching a goat do some horrible things, he finally sees something ACTUALLY important (this would be video of Miriam and Leonard held prisoner and tortured by the Sisters of Sin).

There's not a moment to lose.  Bobbie tells Jocasta to give him a teleportational door straight to Stamford.  I don't know how this all ties in with what's going on in Avengers Academy but the door opens and he passes through without incident.

Let me tell you a little about the Sisters of Sin.  They are a group of women put together by Sin/Skadi/the Red Skull and used for a lot of random acts of terrorism.  Each one has a specialty.  Their leader, Sister Death, has super strength and stamina.  Sister Agony has some fake claws.  Sister Pleasure can make you happy and easy to control.  Sister Dream warps your perception of reality.  All of them are loyal to Sin and that makes them servants of the Serpent.

Their mission here is to punish those who would try to change the Earth's fate and to do it live so that the world can see what happens to the defiant.  Agony has already carved a game of tic-tac-toe on Sharpe's cheek.  When Leonard protests, Sister Death snaps his arm like a twig.  It's kind of messed up.

They try to force Miriam to admit that there is no hope in the world and Sharpe has a look in her eyes like she believes that.

In comes the cavalry.  That would be Speedball.  Using his Penance powers as wells as his more well known Speedball abilities, he temporarily gains the upper hand and gets the Sisters to let go of their prisoner.  This is good because Sister Pleasure chooses this moment to take control of Speedball.  All that saves him is the rage of a woman who's pretty much had as much of this as she can stand.  Miriam Sharpe takes a chair to Pleasure.

This is no time to celebrate victory.  Agony renews her attack on Miriam while Speedball is grabbed from behind by Death.  She has Robbie in a crushing hold that would be fatal is Speedball didn't use some concentrated power and a damaging backwards headbutt to free himself.  He's gained enough Penance powers to fire off two volleys, one directed at Sister Agony and the second at Death.

This leaves Sister Dream left standing.  She gives both of our heroes a healthy dose of what she calls... Fear.

a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. Synonyms: foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm. Antonyms: courage, security, calm, intrepidity.

Yeah... that's not actually Fear.  Whatever it is, it's effective.  Sharpe and Baldwin are knocked unconscious.  The Sisters of Sin pick them up and put them in front of the camera for a public execution.  There's no hope left.

Until there is.

A shot is fired in the midst of the Sisters of Sin.  When the terrorists look up to see who's responsible, they see the townspeople of Stamford, here to release some pent up rage.  These people have been pushed long enough and now it's time for some payback.

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Alessandro Vitti

In this story:

• The teenage super-heroes stuck out in the middle of the Pacific fight the Samebito, Samurai Shark Men from World War II.

• After fighting through a wave or two of monster Shark Men, the team discusses their next action plan.

• After a rousing speech about them being the future, Amadeus Cho has pretty much pinned himself as the guy who summoned all of these heroes to this mysterious location.

• Even though they're mad at him for it, right now, it's more important that they save the island of Honolulu for Shark Man invasion.

These are the Samebito.  Long ago, they were just normal sharks who decided to worship a long forgotten "dark god."  Giving it all, the fish evolved into a man-like form but kept those jaws and basic "sharkness."  When World War II was going on, the Samebito allied with the Thule Society and fought in the Pacific Theater alongside the Japanese.  Their main adversaries were the Atlanteans.  When the war was over, the Samebito retreated.  And waited.

The wait is over.

Last issue, five unlikely allies found themselves instantly teleported to a ship in the middle of the Pacific.  I say "unlikely" not because I can't see some of these guys working together.  I just can't see ALL of them working together.  Spider-Girl and X-23 have already proven themselves team players.  Amadeus Cho was a member of the Mighty Avengers.  On a good day, Power Man gets along with people and might even work with them.  Thunderstrike is a complete @$hole and doesn't work well with anyone.  That's really where this team falls apart.

Anyway, these five teenage super-heroes find themselves on a strange ship in the middle of nowhere.  The ship is covered in the Serpent's symbols and when it's fully revealed, we see that it is a World War II helicarrier.  It's ancient crew are Samebito.

From that moment on, it's been just fighting covered with more fighting.  The good news is that these heroes seem to be capable of working well with each other.  Sure, no-one wants to get too close to Thunderstrike and he makes sure to alienate everyone else by being a phenomenal douche but there's still some nice teamwork going on.  It's instinctive.  Natural.

And that's a good thing because of all the Shark Men.

Power Man uses his ability to absorb ambient Chi to get the Samebito's backstory.  Amadeus uses his super mind to direct their battle strategy.  Thunderstrike uses his mace to help Cho create a laser grid, taking out most of this wave of Shark Men.  Spider-Girl webs up X-23 and fastball specials her into the remaining samurai Shark Men.  Wolverine's clone does the rest, slicing and dicing her way to victory.

So that was pretty awesome.  Power Man takes the lead, taking them on a path that is less dangerous than everywhere else on this helicarrier but still full of its own dangers.  Spider-Girl trips up some Samebito that attempt to pursue them.

Given a moment's respite, the heroes try to think of what to do next.  They each have family and friends that need them where they WERE (y'know, before being instantly teleported HERE) but no way to get to them.  They consider jumping off the flying ship but X-23 assures them that a leap at this height would be suicide for all of them.

It's only Amadeus who thinks that their place is here.  Whoever brought them here definitely picked them well because they were working like a natural team without any practice sessions.  He tells them all of their destiny to work together as the rest of the heroes pose dramatically, images of their mentors or achetype shown above them.

Just walk away slowly.

2 + 2 = 4.

Yep.  Amadeus is behind their teleportation to this spot.  The other four heroes aren't happy and rightly so.  Cho isn't apologizing but he tries his best to explain.  Wherever they were before, this is a mission worth doing.  If they don't stop this helicarrier, it will "fulfill its final WWII mission."

It will kill everyone in Honolulu.

Writer: Howard Chaykin
Artist: Howard Chaykin

In this story:

• Sooraya Qadir, the mutant known as Dust, rescues some Jews from the ruins of what looks like a church.

• I guess they couldn't work any Buddhist or Hindu references in a one pager.

• Dust and Rockslide lead these Jews out of this wreckage and to some sort of better situation.

I'm going to guess that this one page comic by Howard Chaykin takes place in San Francisco during the attack by Kuurth.  I'm also going to guess that the wrecked building is a church.  It has all the right arched doors for your traditional place of Christian worship but I'll be honest and say I'm not exactly sure.  This is a religion-themed story so I figured it was about a trio of Orthodox Jews seeking refuge in a Christian Church and being rescued by a Muslim mutant.

That Muslim mutant is Sooraya Qadir.  You may know her better as Dust.  She was a mutant created during Grant Morrison's New X-Men run and is probably the most prominent Muslim mutant to date.  She even wears the traditional burqa worn by many Muslim women.

Dust finds these Orthodox Jews in the ruins of the church and leads them to the exit.  This place looks in bad shape so I'm betting it'll collapse soon.  All the while, Dust is thinking how her faith is helping her through these trying times and how the faith of these Jews is doing the same for them.  They might not share religious beliefs but that doesn't mean that they can't respect each other's faith.

Getting closer to the exit, Dust and her companions run into the X-Man, Rockslide and they all make it out in one piece.  The streets outside don't look much better than the inside of the church but I'm guessing there are other rescue workers just off panel.

Writer: Elliott Kalan
Artist: Ty Templeton

In this story:

• An angry mob attacks the Great Lakes Avengers.

• The team escapes by using the Doorman as a portal.

• The Asbestos Man tries to rob a grocery store but is frustrated when the clerk is more worried about his super asbestos suit than the actual robbery.

• Sulking outside, the Asbestos Man runs into a battle with the Great Lakes Avengers.

• Except they don't want to touch him so it's a stand off for hours.

• When the Asbestos Man finally agrees to surrender just so that someone will remember him, the angry mob shows up to tell the GLA that they no longer care enough to fear the super-heroes.

• The Great Lakes Avengers celebrate this... um... victory... with ice cream.

You know that Fear Itself is running amok when it even overtakes the gentle souls in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are protesting in the streets and lighting their torches.  But what could have people so afraid in the land of cheese and... um... mostly cheese?

The Great Lakes Avengers.

Now, this story isn't serious.  It's joke after joke, gag after gag.  Some of it is quite hilarious.  As you all know by reading all 160 previous Super Reads, the worst thing I can do is cover a humor book.  Because I'll try to explain the gags all over the book.  This is akin to telling you why a joke is funny.  Which ruins the joke.

I try to stay away from that and just tell an adventure as straight as possible.  Just let me tells you right now: there was humor here before I totally disregarded it.

The Great Lakes Avengers (or Defenders, Thunderbolts, or whatever other names they've been known as over the years) are a pathetic super-hero team at the best of times.  These are definitely not those times.  Mostly, the citizens of Milwaukee ignore them or find their shenanigans amusing.  Not today.  Today, the team is a blight on society that must be rubbed out of existance.

Big Bertha holds the mob back for as long as possible using her tremendous bulk.  This doesn't last forever.  Soon, the Milwaukee mob overruns the team's headquarters.

After being poked and yelled at by this angry group, Mr. Immortal orders a retreat.  They use the body of Doorman as their exit out of the building since it functions like a teleporting doorway.  Once out of the building, they make a run away from HQ and hide behind a supermarket.

Weird.

Mr. Immortal gives his team a pep talk about how they're going to save the city from the terrible effects of Fear Itself but he can't even remember what name they're currently using so it loses some of its effect.

While he works on that problem, we head inside the local market to watch a super-robbery in progress.  The villain?  The Asbestos Man.

The best comedic villains are the ones that already exist and were at one time taken seriously.  This guy is a former Human Torch villain from WAY back in Strange Tales #111.  In those days, everyone tried defeating Johnny Storm with something that couldn't start of fire.  Asbestos usage was rampant.  By his very name, you can guess that the Asbestos Man uses a LOT of the stuff.  By his oxygen tank, you can probably guess what's happened to him.

The store clerk is freaked out by this man but it's mostly fear of his Super Asbestos-riddled costume than fear of the man.  When he learns this, the Asbestos Man sulks out of the market, complaining that no one takes him seriously.  Even his bocce ball hammer isn't striking fear in the hearts of the innocents.

Finding his on the sidewalk, the Great Lakes Avengers get ready to do great battle with this ultimate super-villain.

Except no one wants to touch him.  Even Mr. Immortal, who dies and then comes back to life, doesn't want to die of cancer.  That would take a long time and be very painful.  The face off lasts until the sun goes down.  Tired of standing, the Asbestos Man walks to the curb and sits down.  The GLA still keeps their distance.

Asbestos Man explains that all he wanted to do was make a name for himself.  He felt like he was being forgotten and wanted a rematch with the Human Torch except Johnny Storm is currently dead.  The Great Lakes Avengers offer to remember him if he'll surrender to them and he gladly takes them up on this.

As the ambulance takes the Asbestos Man off for some medical attention, the Milwaukee mob returns to talk to the Great Lakes team.  They were watching this pathetic super-battle and have decided that they're going to go back to pretending that the team doesn't exist.  It's better for everyone.

Well, that's a successful day, right?  Bad guy "defeated."  Fear is gone from Milwaukee.  This is a banner day for the Great Lakes Avengers.  To celebrate, Doorman asks if they can go get ice cream.  Mr. Immortal responds "We'll get the best ice cream in the world!  This is Wisconsin!"

So we've learned that Wisconsin is more than just filled with cheese lovers.  There are other dairy products as well.

And maybe I shouldn't throw stones as I drink this tall glass of milk...


Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #5Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #5
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Mike Norton

In this issue:

• Cloud 9 tells us her very brief history to begin the issue and then we get right into Las Vegas being devastated in an earthquake after Hardball and Gravity did the super-fight thing last issue.

• Prodigy arrives with some reinforcements and orders Telemetry to fix this problem.  Through science!

• Cloud 9 and Thor Girl try to rescue people in Heavy Hitters Casino but the building collapses on them.

• Telemetry, Firestar, Gravity, and Hardball sink underground to stop the quake.

• Thor Girl holds up the ceiling in the casino but she's running out of gas.

• Right between the Mantle and the Crust, Gravity and Hardball hold hands and use their powers to fix things as best they can.

• After all of the Initiative stops listening to him, Prodigy hits a liquor store for some liquid courage.

• After everyone goes through a moment of internal crisis, Cloud 9 goads Tarene into saving her life, Prodigy pours out his forty for his homies, and the earthquake stops.

• So things are all better again and the mini-series ends with a big group hug.

• Oh, wait.  No.  Not that at all.  This comic ends with Thor Girl giving Prodigy a good slug.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

You know when heroes meet and begin their interaction as a fight?  How it's usually over some misunderstanding or another?  Well, that would be most of last issue.  Gravity and Hardball fought their way all over Las Vegas.  It wasn't over a misunderstanding.  These guys really don't like each other.  Major philosophical differences.

This fight helped spur on an earthquake.  I guess that's what happens when you mix gravitational powers with electromagnetic energy over an already active fault line.

Before we focus in on the trouble happening in Las Vegas, let's catch up on this issue's focus: Cloud 9.  Abigail Boylen can fly on an alien cloud and basically used her ability to have fun until Civil War took all that fun away.  She was strong-armed into registering and served in the first group of Avengers: Initiative recruits.  When her training was done, she was a different person, serving as one of the top marksmen in the Initiative.  Abby gained a cold, distant exterior and was not as interesting a character as she was when things started.

Then along came the Heroic Age.  Given a choice on her future for the first time since Civil War, Cloud 9 tore up her Initiative ID card, abandoned her super-hero uniform and tried very hard to regain her civilian life.  Abigail never wanted to be a hero and was hoping that it would be an easy career to walk away from.

Turns out: not so much.  After a healthy month or two in the world of shirts and pants (as opposed to capes and tights), Fear Itself has pulled Boylen right back into the game.  She tried to stay out but when Thor Girl was imprisoned just because of her Norse connections and hammer, Cloud 9 went into action to save a friend.  This has led the pair to Las Vegas where Tarene (Thor Girl) tried to avert disaster by stopping Gravity and Hardball's fight.  Since that has failed, the duo has moved right into rescue operations.

Their first stop: Heavy Hitters Hotel & Casino.  This is the home base of Hardball's Las Vegas team, the Heavy Hitters.  They aren't at home right now, though.  You probably know that.

At ground zero, things are pretty quiet.  Gravity and Hardball are both unconscious.  Komodo (Hardball's on-again/off-again girlfriend) is wavering between consciousness and unconsciousness.  The only one walking and talking is the Heavy Hitter, Telemetry.  She tries to revive Komodo but doesn't seem too successful.

In comes the cavalry.  The leader of the current iteration of the Initiative, Prodigy, teleports into Las Vegas with as many heroes as he could gather.  With him right now is Firestar who gets to work reviving Gravity and Hardball (I guess with microwave radiation?).  While she does that, Prodigy tells Telemetry that saving Las Vegas rests on her shoulders.

While they discuss the details of that endeavor, we swing around and see the rest of the heroes saving lives in Vegas.  Frog-Man, Ultragirl, Butterball, Batwing, and Supermax have joined efforts to save lives during this earthquake.

Let's catch back up with Cloud 9 and Thor Girl.  Abby flies to the casino's vault where she finds a lot of people running right at her.  This is because the vault is collapsing along with the rest of the building.  Cloud 9 tries to save people but the hotel/casino falls right on top of her, the regular people, and Thor Girl.

Outside, Hardball and Gravity have been woken up and want to head into the wreckage to save whoever they can but Prodigy won't let them.  It's THEIR job to stop this quake from getting any worse.  With Telemetry and Firestar riding shotgun, Roger and Greg descend into a gaping hole in the ground.

Inside the collapsed hotel, Cloud 9 finds herself pinned to the ground.  She freaks out and screams for help that doesn't come.  When that fails, Abby removes her headgear and bursts into tears.  That's when Thor Girl answers her.  Tarene is holding up the ceiling all by herself.  It looks like the ceiling is winning.

Down in the tunnel of doom, Gravity is losing it.  Both he and Hardball are using Telemetry's platform for the descent in order to conserve power but it seems that Greg doesn't do well when someone else is doing the driving.  When some loose rocks start falling on them, it's Hardball that does all the work while Gravity clutches the edge of their ride and hopes that this is done soon.

Eventually, the team gets into position between the crust and the mantle.  Telemetry tells them the bad news.  She's lost communication with the surface.  That means no internet, no GPS, nothing's working.  They're where they need to be but she won't be able to plot a path back to the surface when this is over.  Well, it's too late to worry about that right now.  The mission has to get done.

Just then, a giant rock falls and threatens to pulverize Hardball and Gravity.  While Greg is a deer in headlights, Hardball goes to work, destroying the rock before it can hurt anyone.  From that moment on, Firestar is on rock watch while the others get ready to save what's left of Las Vegas.

On their platform, Hardball and Gravity hold hands and combine their powers to create a massive burst of electro-gravitational force.

Maybe we should just stop talking?

Up above, time is running out for the people trapped in the Heavy Hitters building.  Randoms are screaming and it causes Cloud 9 to scream back.  Tarene tells her to calm down because none of the screaming is helping.  Thor Girl tells Abby about her legacy.  She's supposed to "guide sentient life" but now she's lost most of her powers and is getting weaker by the moment.  Soon, Tarene won't be able to hold up the weight above them all and it'll be all over.

Even further above that, Prodigy is having trouble getting his heroes under control.  The Order head off on their own against his direction and the Scarlet Spider swings off to save lives on his own.  Nothing is coordinated and it's all going wrong.  Prodigy is a boss with no employees.  The stress is getting to him.

This is a bad place to be for a recovering alcoholic.  He sees a liquor store and heads inside.  Ritchie finds the same Demon in a Bottle Whiskey that Tony Stark just drank in the Fear Itself main book.

You can do it in a montage.  We see pictures of Cloud 9 contemplating her lack of a future.  Outside, heroes are still saving lives.  Inside a liquor store, one poor hero thinks of throwing it all away with a drink.  Below the crust, Gravity and Hardball work to save Las Vegas while Firestar blasts any rock falling on them.

And that's enough of that.  After thinking about her death for long enough, Abigail Boylen puts her head gear back on and gives Thor Girl a good, stern dose of tough love.  She's THOR GIRL, dammit.  There's no giving up.  This does the trick.  Tarene's eyes glow and it looks like she might be regaining her full abilities.  Whatever the case, Thor Girl is able to lift away the giant weight threatening to kill them all.

As for other wins, Prodigy pours out his bottle of whiskey, bound and determined not to slip back into full-blown alcoholism.  Heading back outside, Ritchie sees that the earthquake has stopped.  While he isn't able to get a hold of Telemetry, it looks like Las Vegas has seen the worst of Fear Itself.

Give it a moment.

The heroes feel a wave of relief.  Komodo wakes up and gets a visit from Cloud 9.  They hug and briefly catch up.  Before Abby can return to the saving people in the fallen hotel/casino, Prodigy flies in to see what's going on.  Thor Girl comes up to the surface just in time for this confrontation.

Remember when I said that Thor Girl was imprisoned for looking too much like a Worthy?  It was done at the direction of Prodigy.  Tarene went willingly under the promise that Ritchie would release her when things cooled down.  Instead, she found herself tortured for information until Cloud 9 arrived to free her.  All of this happened without Prodigy's approval but he still sent order out for people to look for Thor Girl and bring her back in.

THIS is the misunderstanding I was talking about in the beginning.  Classic.  It doesn't help that Prodigy sucks at explaining himself.  Instead of just telling her what happened, honestly, he decides to tell her about the problems HE'S been facing.  That's something Tarene doesn't want to hear.

Both of them are so riled up that the fight is inevitable.  Thor Girl socks Prodigy in the face with a "HAVE AT THEE!!" battle cry.  Next issue is gonna be fun.


Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #4Fear Itself: Fearsome Four #4
Writer: Brandon Montclare
Artists: Tim Green II, Ray-Anthony Height, Rick Ketcham, & Michael Wm. Kaluta

In this issue:

• This history of the No-Thing... EXPLAINED!

• When the No-Thing refuses to work, Howard the Duck and his Fearsome teammates fight a losing battle against the Man-Thing.

• Eventually, Howard figures out that they need to conquer their own fears in order to use the No-Thing.  That means facing them like physical realities.

• In order, Nighthawk stops spreading fear, Frankenstein's monster gets the will to live, and She-Hulk decides to fight on as a hero even if she's the only one left.

• When everyone has faced down their fears and made them cry, they all return to face Man-Thing with a working No-Thing.

• Which is when Howard the Duck realizes that he doesn't need the No-Thing.  It was their FEAR that caused Man-Thing to get all crazy.  They aren't afraid anymore... so Man-Thing powers down.

• And the day is saved, thanks to the Powerf... Fearsome Four.  Everyone goes about their usual activities after settling the Man-Thing down.

• Which leaves Howard alone in the park.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

When Howard the Duck first appeared in a world he didn't make, it turned out to be in an adventure in the Nexus of all Realities.  In the course of this enterprise, Howard fell off of a platform and disappeared from sight.  I think it was stated at the time that he was permanently lost.  Whatever the case, he was gone a long time.  Especially for him.  Time kept on slipping around him even though none passed in the real world.  After a while of this, our duck hero was seriously thinking not existing would be better.

Instead, he got a visit for Man-Thing.  Finally.  The Guardian of the Nexus of all Realities handed him the No-Thing but didn't actually explain what it was.  The creature really doesn't have the ability to explain that.  Opening a portal to Earth, Howard stepped through to have many more experiences in a world not his own.

The No-Thing's tale is a lot more involved.  It was built by people in the Microverse to ward off the Devourer of Worlds.  Galactus.  It very much reflected another device called the Ultimate Nullifier that had once been used on Earth by the Fantastic Four for the same purpose.  Both were enough to keep Galactus hungry even though the Ultimate Nullifier worked on intelligence and the No-Thing functioned only for the brave.

None of this actually matters because the No-Thing isn't working.

OK, that kind of incorrect.  The No-Thing isn't working because Howard is afraid to use it ON the Man-Thing.  You see, the Man-Thing has the uncontrollable ability to burn anything that knows fear.  It's kind of it's thing.  That means an event like Fear Itself is probably the wrong place for the Man-Thing to BE.  To corral the creature, Howard the Duck and his self-titled Fearsome Four (She-Hulk, Nighthawk, and Frankenstein's Monster) have been tracking the Man-Thing all over Manhattan.  At the end of the journey, they finally had Man-Thing where they wanted it.  All Howard had to do was use the No-Thing on his friend and the danger of burnage would be gone.

Since the thing isn't functioning, that means that the Fearsome Four is going to have to do some punching and hitting instead.  That doesn't do much good.  Man-Thing isn't the kind of creature to be stopped by a little violence.  A blue aura forms around the creature, connecting the heroes to the Man-Thing and potentially making their fears a reality.

This is about the point that Howard realizes what they have to do.  They each have to enter this aura and face their own fears.  He gives them a dramatic speech on what they need to do and then sends them on their way to face down some nightmares.

The first up is Kyle Richmond.  Nighthawk has been in a weird place since this story began.  Instead of being one of the more together heroes, Richmond has been revelling in the fear he's able to cause.  In his own personal nightmare, he realizes that this isn't a good path to be set on because fear breeds fear... and I guess little kids call him names.  The point is, Kyle decides to stop spreading fear and to work on preventing it, instead.

Frankenstein's Monster has a dread of living forever with no purpose.  His own vision has him tied to a stake and set on fire by some angry villagers.  These simple villagers are actually the heroes of the Marvel Universe.  And Strong Guy from X-Factor.  It's only when the Monster learns that his unending life may someday reveal his purpose that he finds the will to live.

She-Hulk's crisis of faith is the biggest issue for her.  Jen Walters always tries to do the right thing but last issue she was cursed for that.  People called her a monster, believing that she would turn against them just like Ben Grimm had done.  In her ordeal, Jen is in a graveyard, surrounded by the gravestones of dead heroes.  She is all that's left in the world to carrying on the fight and she contemplates giving it up for good.

But that sounds like a bad idea.  Instead, she decides to carry on the fight for all who have died before her.  She will make a difference.

Howard the Duck's fear doesn't take him on a special journey because it's the thing that won't let him activate the No-Thing.  He is afraid to end the life one one of the few friends he's got on this mudball.  Man-Thing brought him into this world and over the years, the creature has been a constant.  While it's almost unthinking, Man-Thing is still something that he's rather not let go of.  But if it saves lifes...

The Duck lets go of his fears and gets ready to use the No-Thing.  The rest of the heroes return to support him.

Just hurry up next time.

The sky fills up with all sorts of atrocities against nature but none of them are that scary any more.  Just before Howard uses the device, the Duck realizes that he doesn't have to.

That'll require some more explanation.  Howard turns to his companions and tells them that they were closest to the Man-Thing and it was THEIR fear that was guiding the creature.  Now that they've conquered their fears, the Man-Thing is cut off from it's power source.  Everyone forgets that the creature went on a burning spree before their arrival JUST long enough for this to work.

Man-Thing powers down and the mad adventure is over.

The Fearsome Four doesn't stick together for much longer.  Nighthawk heads home to rest so that he'll be able to roam the streets the next night.  Frankenstein's Monster walks off to track down Psycho-Man.  Jen offers to stay with Howard for a while but the Duck tells her to go finish this Fear Itself event.

That leaves Howard alone with Man-Thing.  The Duck tells the creature to take off because he's worried that the authorities will show up to take the Man-Thing into custody.  The Guardan of the Nexus of Realities teleports away to Chicago to finish off the Thunderbolts story.

And that means Howard is all alone hanging out on the Alice in Wonderland statues in Central Park.


Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simone Bianchi

In this issue:

• Psylocke tricks one of the Purifiers to give her the location and mission of Jonathan Standish.  When it's over with, Fantomex shoots the lug dead.  The citizens don't cheer.  They're too scared.

• So, Standish's plan is to bring the peace that only comes with death to the people of New York City by igniting a bomb that will shut down their brains.  It's being delivered by plane to the area.

• X-Force stops this plane from being shot down by military fighters because it would detonate the bomb and they're too close the NYC to do that.  They use their own craft, EVA, to do this.

• While the rest of the team drops to the ground in their own manner, Archangel flies into the craft and takes the wheel (after killing some people, of course).

• It's too late to land safely so Warren exits the aircraft and gets rid of it's explosive fuel by cutting off the wings.

• The plane crashes but the bomb doesn't go off.  Standish is still alive, too.  He exits the plane and sees a church in front of him.  This is a sign that he's doing the right thing.

• Standish shoots Archangel in the gut and then returns to the plane to set off the bomb.  Deadpool stops him by cutting off Jonathan's hand.

• Dragging Standish back outside, the terrorist gets a dose of Wolverine justice.  That'd be a killin.'

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Last issue, a bunch of Purifier bombers were set loose in the small towns of middle America in an attempt to kill as many people as possible so that their souls would go to Heaven.  This was to save them from being killed by the Serpent or the Worthy and lose their souls completely.  Also: ugh.

With the rest of the super-human population busy or not caring about this plot, it fell to the paramilitary mutant team, X-Force to kill a lot of people and hope that no-one noticed.  They only had one rule: keep one Purifier nutjob alive so that Psylocke could delve into his mind and learn where the leader of this plot (Jonathan Standish) was and take the fight to him.  The problem with this plan is that the bombers kept exploding upon their defeat.  That was made all the worse when Psylocke and Fantomex were caught up in the blast of the one they had cornered.

We meet this Purifier in Heaven where he's going to get his just reward for never, ever even thinking of picking up a Bible and reading a paragraph or two before going on a religiously fueled rampage.  Manning the pearly gates isn't the traditional St. Peter but instead the diabolical Deadpool, complete with angel wings and party toga.  Wade tells this guy that he's ALMOST in heaven but needs to seal the deal before entering.

"Where, exactly, can we find Jonathan Standish and his Purifiers and what are his forthcoming plans?"

The Purifier spills as many beans as he can to get the ultimate reward for genocide.  Boy, is he going to be disappointed.  It turns out that this guy didn't actually kill anyone.  Fantomex disarmed the bomb before it could go off.  Psylocke just made the guy thing that everything was going according to plan to get this delicious intel.  Now, it's time to do what X-Force does best.

Fantomex shoots the Purifier.  The townspeople watch this but they aren't about to throw the man a parade.  To them, all they can see is one super-being killing another and they have no context to tell good guy from bad guy.  Fantomex walks away upset about this.  He's not a monster like the Purifiers but if they all see him as one, what does it really matter?  Psylocke uses her telepathy to make sure none of these people remember seeing the mutants and they're on their way.

So what's the plan, Stan (dish)?  Well, Jonathan has built a large psionic bomb capable of shutting down brains of anyone within its 25-mile detonation radius.  He's even left a farewell message on the internet but no indication of his target.  Wolverine figures it out.  Where would be the best place to detonate this thing if you hated super-heroes and wanted to get as many normal people as possible?

New York, New York, big city of dreams but everything in New York ain't always what it seems.  The Purifiers have chartered a flight on a C-130 airliner and are trying to fly it right into the city.  That's problematic because nothing flies into the NYC without getting a military response.  The military jets have so far been unsuccessful at downing this plane but it's only a matter of time unless some crazy mutants get in the way of their missiles.

And they will.  You don't want the C-130 getting all explodey when it has a psionic bomb inside.  They're way too close to New York at this point and a lot of people would die.  When the jets get a missile lock, Fantomex puts his own ship, Eva, in the missile's path.  Which is painful.

X-Forcers spill out over the sky.  Deadpool and Wolverine will be fine with their healing factors.  It'll be a rough landing but they'll heal.  Archangel can fly.  Fantomex tries to put his craft down safely.  The only one who's in serious danger is Psylocke.  She's got none of this healing factor garbage or wings.

Warren tries to rescue her but Wolverine orders him after the real, dangerous objective.  They don't have time for anything else.  Logan grabs Betsy and tries to cushion her fall with his own indestructible body.

The new X-Men leader, people.

Against all odds and logic, that works.

Meanwhile, Fantomex brings Eva down in a crash he can walk away from.  That's probably the best he could ask for in the circumstances.

This leaves only Archangel with his eye on the prize.  After smashing into the cockpit, Warren takes out the flight crew with a little killing and then tries to land the plane without the psionic bomb wiping out a large chunk of New York's population.  Standish is in the back and thinks about the blasphemy of this "dark angel" killing off normal people.

The plane becomes an unworkable situation when a missile hits its right wing.  At that point, it just becomes a rock in the sky.  To help it not explode on impact, Warren flies out of the plane and cuts off its wings.  Fuel leaks into the air as the wings separate and explode.

The C-130 plane hits the ground but thanks to these efforts, it doesn't explode.  Neither does the psionic bomb.  Luck of all lucks, Jonathan Standish walks away uninjured.

Looking up, Standish sees the ornate St. Patrick's Cathedral.  While this guy probably isn't a Catholic or, you know, ACTUALLY Christian, he sees this church as a sign that his mission is divine.

Archangel cuts Jonathan up to prevent the man from detonating the bomb but all it takes is one well-aimed shot to Warren's gut to take the X-Forcer out of action.  After cursing out the mutant, Standish walks back inside the C-130 and puts his finger right above the detonater.

Enter: Deadpool.  One severed hand later, Wade asks the man "If that bomb going off is God's will... then how come, despite fighter jets shooting missles at it, the impossible plane crash through skyscrapers, the firefight with killer mutants and all... the %$*&#&% thing still HASN'T gone off?"

Standish is dragged outside for a personal talk with Wolverine.  Logan spits out how much better the world would be without guys like Jonathan Standish before lopping off the terrorist's head.

After that, the team admires the church which is some excellent architecture.

Since they're in New York, I'm betting this is where Wolverine rejoins the Avengers and stuff.  Maybe the rest of the team works on covering up their path of destruction.


Avengers #17Avengers #17
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita Jr.

In this story:

• Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, and the Protector return from Brazil to find Avengers Tower in ruins.

• A platoon of Nazi Mechs is blasting the rubble, searching for Heimdall's Observatory.

• Even though he's been advocating caution, as soon as Skadi/Sin shows up, Hawkeye puts an arrow through her neck.

• That doesn't stop her and only begins a big fight.

• After Ms. Marvel is knocked out of the state, the New Avengers show up to help out.

• The Protector gets control of the Iron Man Armory and uses it against Skadi and the Nazi Mechs.

• After that, he takes over the Nazi Mechs and blows them up.

• Skadi uses Heimdall's Observatory to transport away, leaving the Avengers with a wishy washy victory.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

This adventure follows up on Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, and the Protector's South American Adventure.  In Avengers #15, this team faced Nul/Hulk in Brazil.  We saw them again in Ghost Rider #3 as they made their way back to New York after losing their Quinjet in the Nul battle.  Here, they are back in NYC and the first thing they see is that Avengers Tower isn't gracing the skyline.

As with all of the other Avengers and New Avengers Fear Itself issues, this one has the Oral History of the Avengers narration device as its framework.  Throughout the issue, various Avengers will give their thoughts and feelings on Fear Itself, the fall of the Tower, and the rest of the adventure.  When appropriate or enlightening, I'll let you in on what they're saying.  Otherwise, we'll stick to the actual story as much as possible.

The Avengers quartet is ordered to the ruins of Avengers Tower where they find an army of Nazi Mechs shooting up the remains.  As the Avengers recall in the Oral History, the Mechs are searching for Heimdall's Observatory which once rested on the top of the Tower.  The Serpent is trying to reach Asgard and this is the first option to getting there.  While the Observatory was inactive when originally placed on top of the Tower, Odin's rebirth has most likely reactivated it, as already seen in Fear Itself #6 (which happens AFTER this issue, FYI).

Ms. Marvel is ready to just go right down there and mess the Mechs up.  Hawkeye tells her to stand down from that line of thinking.  There's no telling if another hammer wielder is going to show up and after their battle with the Hulk, they have a healthy respect for the Worthy.  The four of them stand on a rooftop and try to formulate a plan of attack.

Then, Skadi shows up.  Sin.  The Red Skull.  The lady who started all of this.

I am ashamed that I almost missed this joke.

Yeah.  Hawkeye doesn't even think.  The arrow is in her neck before he has even realizes what he's doing.  Of course, it only makes Skadi mad.

Ms. Marvel soars into the fight and attempts to at least bide some time for the rest of the team to escape.  It looks a lot like this.

John Romita Jr. pulled out all the stops on these panels.

Carol absorbs what she can of Skadi's attack and sends it right back at the Worthy.  This looks like it might even hurt the Herald of the Serpent but definitely not enough to make a difference.  Skadi gets up and blasts Ms. Marvel straight out of the city.

Hawkeye fires an arrow, The Protector works on reconfiguring his tech, and Spider-Woman swears.  None of them stand a chance against her.

Which is when the New Avengers arrive to even the odds a little.  Daredevil is with them.  It's a big battle.

To make it even bigger, the Protector has been modifying his tech to gain access to the Iron Man Armory in Avengers Tower.  A whole lot of Iron Man suits join the fight.  You know, suits that don't really exist anymore.

Dear Marvel,

Please stop letting every other writer on Iron Man destroy every old suit of armor.  I swear, every armored suit has been destroyed multiple times in the past decade only to be used in cool scenes like these just a year or so later.  If Matt Fraction spends all of World's Most Wanted and Stark Resolute destroying all of his armories and suits, please don't have them suddenly appear in an armory in Avengers Tower a year later.  You know what?  Let's just pretend that the suits never really got destroyed and never 'destroy' them again, ok?  We all know that they'll just reappear when a writer is feeling nostalgic.  Brian Michael Bendis, in particular, needs to use the Classic armor in every event so how about that one just sticks around?  OK?

Good.  I'm glad we understand each other.

-Super.


None of these suits is in very good condition.  They just survived the fall of Avengers Tower for one.  For another, one of them is the old, gray original armor.  The Iron Man armors don't turn the tide or anything.  They just give everyone some more time.

It IS cool seeing the Iron Patriot armor again.  It makes sense that this suit would be stored in the Tower since it wasn't officially handed over to Tony but is based on his tech.  I wonder how long it'll be before someone puts that thing on again...

So the Avengers fight with the aid of the Iron Men but victory still doesn't look within their grasp.  It actually is.  The Protector uses this extra time to work his way into the Nazi Mech armors and makes them all explode.  Now, it's down to Skadi versus everyone else.

This is a hammer wielder.  A Worthy.  Thor-level power at least.  The odds are still against her and she knows it.  Before the Avengers can convince her into surrendering peacefully, Skadi uses Heimdall's Observatory (I guess it was unburied in the fight?) to teleport away from this battle.  She hurls a few threats and omens before leaving.

So it's a victory but the prize stayed out of reach.  Sin got away.  There's frustration all over the team's faces but Luke Cage keeps telling them that it'll work out in the end.  They'll get her.  This will be done and they will win.

And that thought spreads.  Spider-Man tells us in the Oral History segment that this is the moment he felt they had a chance to save the world.  Granted, I think this happens before he left to go look for his Aunt but sometimes you go back and forth about that sort of thing.  In fact, he hangs his head in silence after saying how positive he was feeling, indicating that things might not turn out all rosy with extra sunshine.  Whatever the case, Peter Parker is glad that he joined the Avengers and sees just how important they are to his life and the world.

We end the story with Captain America (still in Oral History mode).  He's uncomfortable with this particular interview and it doesn't take long to suss out why.  Steve stands up and asks that whenever this history is published, that maybe it could be dedicated to his friend and partner, Bucky Barnes.


Invincible Iron Man #508Invincible Iron Man #508
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

In this issue:

• Tony is swallowed up by the Golgothan.  I mean the mud golem.  When he gets out of the thing, it starts sucking out his essence.

• In Paris, the Detroit Steel Squad opens fire on Mokk/Grey Gargoyle, freeing Pepper Potts and Sasha Hammer.  Sasha tries to kill Rescue while everyone else is busy with the Worthy.

• With the help of the dwarves, Iron Man gets his mojo back but it still leaves him spent.

• Pepper gets away from Sasha and tries to take out Mokk.  That doesn't work out well for her as the Worthy tears off her helmet.

• The Detroit Steel Squad flies off, leaving Pepper with no allies against the former Grey Gargoyle.

• Tony turns down a delicious alcoholic beverage.

• Odin arrives to bless some Mighty weapons.  Tony is wearing his and needs to leap into a pool of molten Uru in order to get Mighty.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Tony Stark is not having a good day.  I mean, he's had some crap days in his life but the whole Fear Itself event is probably a new low for him.  Iron Man spent three issues leading up to Fear Itself getting punked by Doctor Octopus.  Since then, it's been a whole lot of loss and a whole lot of running.  He was helpless in fighting Mokk in Paris as the Worthy stoned the whole city.  When going to ask for permission to use Odin's forge, Stark got drunk for the first time in a couple decades.

So getting swallowed up by a giant mud monster is just another things to add to that day.  This thing has been specifically made to kill Tony Stark.  Part of the magic was using his hair and blood samples in its mix.  So it's going after him and it's magic.

For a second or two, Stark contemplates giving up but he knows that he's not really going to do that.  Iron Man is a fighter.  After pulling himself out of the mud monster, Tony armors up and...

...stands there, helpless.  It looks like his repulsors aren't working.  Before his eyes, the golem takes on Iron Man's patented look.  Then, it starts to suck up all of Stark's... everything, I guess.

In Paris, Pepper Potts and Sasha Hammer are still being choked by Mokk, Breaker of Faiths, also known as Grey Gargoyle when not carrying a giant hammer.  Hammer's Detroit Steel Squad return and try to target that giant Worthy instead of the smaller armored characters... which I guess is more difficult than it looks.  Sasha orders them to open fire and Mokk drops them after a hail of gunfire.

As the Detroit Steel Squad keeps firing on the Worthy, Sasha uses the distraction to kill Rescue.  Pepper gets her shields up in time to avoid getting sliced up but this makes it all the more difficult to focus on the bigger picture threat.

Back in Svartalfheim, Tony Stark is wasting away as the golem draws in more and more of his life.

Everyone experiences the downgrade in their own way.

Iron Man's armor is looking thinner and more cloth-like. With one backhand, the golem Iron Man hits Stark right out of the room and into a group of Dwarves.  Tony asks for help and the little guys happily comply.

As the Dwarves go to work, Tony gets back on his feet and charges up a repulsor.  The Dwarves hold the golem in place and Iron Man sucks his mojo back into himself.  Or he blows up the golem and his essence returns to its normal home.  Sometimes comics make it hard to find out what's going on.  The end result is that Tony's armor is back to looking like Iron Man armor and the golem is bits of formless mud on the ground.

In the City of Lights, Sasha is still trying to slash her way through Rescue's sheilds.  While she's doing that, Detroit Steel Squad is not doing so well against the Breaker of Faiths.  One armor loses it's head which isn't that fatal since the Detroit Steel armor isn't form fitting like an Iron Man armor.

Pepper breaks away from Sasha's attacks and re-engages Mokk, cursing the Detroit Steel leader out for not watching her team's backs.

Sasha doesn't like this criticism of her crappy leadership skills and orders her team back home.  They're retreating and leaving Pepper to the Worthy's tender mercy.

To prove how tender that actually is, Mokk rips off the Rescue helmet.  Without the electronic eyes of the armor, Potts is vulnerable to the stoning effect.

In the sky, some Detroit Steels are having second thoughts about abandoning Rescue.  Sasha contacts headquarters and tells them that their mission was completely unsuccessful.  They never found Lt. Doug Johnson III.  They didn't kill everything they saw.  Well, better luck next time.

Pepper Potts keeps her eyes shut as the former Grey Gargoyle stares her down.  Mokk has her by the neck but this doesn't seem to be causing her any problems.  While this guy COULD just break her, the Worthy has a thing about turning people to stone.  Finally, he breaks out his first sentence in English.

"I.  Can wait."

Tony Stark might have his strength, essense, mojo, and gumption back but he's still a wreck.  While the Dwarves handle clean up from this attack (which is ACTUAL clean up- they sweep and shovel the mud golem up), Stark slumps in a chair and thinks of everything he'll do differently when this is all over.

Splitlip, the lead dwarf, tells him that they caught the people responsible for siccing this golem on him.  Smoke Elves, he calls them.  To help Tony through this ordeal, Splitlip offers him a tall mug of beer.

Tony reaches out for the drink but then turns it down.  The lead dwarf doesn't understand anyone that would turn down beer but Tony doesn't have a chance to explain why.  Odin has arrived.

Before we move on to Odin, let's talk about alcoholism and how this works.  Yes, Tony turned down a drink here.  That doesn't mean this story is over.  Turning down one drink doesn't automatically put him back on the wagon.  It just means he turned down one beer.  Considering Matt Fraction knows a thing or two about substance abuse, don't think for a second that this is over.  In fact, I'm guessing this is going to be a long term thing.

OK, on to Odin.  These scenes are right out of Fear Itself #6.  You'll even see Thor in the background, wearing his new armor.  The Mighty weapons are presented to the All-Father and then Tony shows Odin his own armor that'll need the Odin blessing.

As we know, this is a hell of a thing to do.  The Iron Man armor doesn't come off anymore so to receive the Odin-Blessing, Tony will have to dip himself in molten Uru.  When the time comes, Iron Man jumps right into the vat.  Splitlip is impressed.

In the molten Uru vat, we can already see Stark's armor taking its new, Mighty shape.  If you haven't seen the promo images, the Mighty armor has a Destroyer vibe going for it, with lots of spikes.  Tony repeats that when this is over, everything changes.


Uncanny X-Men #543Uncanny X-Men #543
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Greg Land

In this issue:

• Emma walks a little closer towards the comatose Hope.  With a pillow.

• Cyclops meets with Kuurth and his acolyte.  After a blast of crimson lightning, Scott knows that Cyttorak has depowered his avatar.

• Colossus hits the streets of San Francisco and pushes Kuurth back along his path.  When Illyana and Kitty return, Magik explains that pushing Kuurth back is folding up those magic runes that he was making with every step.  There's going to be a big explosion.

• There is no stopping Colossus even though Kuurth is pounding him a LOT.

• Before the rune bomb can reach critical mass, the Serpent summons the Breaker of Stone back to Dark Asgard for the main event in Fear Itself #6 (& mostly 7)

• Namor stops Emma from killing Hope with a princely kiss.  After that, he goes back to his own mini-series.

• When Cyclops and company catch up to Colossus, everyone chews Peter out and Kitty breaks up with him.

• When meeting with the mayor, Scott tells her that she will NOT be betraying the X-Men.  Ever.  It's a major threat.

• Mayor Sadie asks him if he ever even though of accepting the offer and Cyke claims that he didn't.  Then he leaves with Magneto.  Because that strengthens his claim.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Here's the big end game for the Fear Itself arc in Uncanny X-Men!  The players are set up so let's see how they do.

While trying to psionically shut down the former Juggernaut, Emma Frost found herself adrift inside his mind.  Hope Summers was also injured in this attempt but that was more because she had burned herself out by using every nearby X-Men's abilities than telepathic invasion.  As they both rested in the X-Infirmary, Emma was taunted by the Serpent or a minion of the Serpent.  This played up on her fears that Scott still loved Jean more than her.  Since Hope looks a WHOLE lot like Jean Grey, she became the focal point of Frost's delusion.

In a trance-like state, Emma rises from her bed and slowly, slowly walks over to Hope's bed.  She's holding a pillow and murder is her intention.

On the Golden Gate Bridge, Cyclops walks over to Kuurth and his disciple for a talk.  The Breaker of Stone has laid an offer down to the humans and mutants: if one betrays the other, they get to live.  Mayor Sadie gave some military General authorization to wipe out Utopia if everything else failed.  Unfortunately for her, Danger had the Mayor's office bugged.  When Scott Summers learned of this, he called back the mutants to defend the island and came out here to chat.

The disciple does all the talking, telling Cyclops that he is obviously here to betray the humans.  Why shouldn't he?  The Serpent and his minions are more like the mutants than the humans, right?  Cyke remains non-committal through all of this and we're left wondering if he's ACTUALLY going to abandon San Francisco to save the mutant race.

Odds are pretty good that he would do just that but I'm thinking he's smart enough to know that no matter who betrays who, it will NOT stop Kuurth from killing whoever remains.  You don't trust a servant of the Serpent to remain true to their word.

Before Cyclops can do anything that looks like betrayal, Kuurth explodes with red lightning.  This is a clear sign that Cyttorak has taken away the Juggernaut's abilites from the Worthy.  Scott smiles and says that he won't be taking the Breaker of Stone's offer.  One of his plans just worked.

In the Crimson Cosmos, the new avatar of Cyttorak gets ready to become unstoppable.  Magik opens a portal back to San Francisco and Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin walks in.

During the Colossus/ Kuurth fights, we get narration from Piotr and they all point to the fact that his change into the new Juggernaut is more than skin deep.  This is something that has affected his very soul.  He is reveling in his destructive powers.  LOVING them.

You might also notice that surprised look on Scott's face when Colossus emerges from the portal instead of Magik.  He didn't expect Piotr to become the avatar of Cyttorak.  It actually throws Cyclops off balance.

What this does in the fight against Kuurth is immediately apparent.  The Worthy is still a WHOLE lot more powerful that Colossus.  In fact, Piotr is getting his @$ kicked during the whole battle.  Sure, he can give a lot better than he could without Cyttorak's power but the internal narration takes away any doubt about who has the strength in this confrontation.

The thing is, without Cyttorak's blessing, Kuurth is no longer unstoppable.  That power belongs to Colossus now.  No matter what happens to him, Piotr keeps on pushing the former Juggernaut back and increasing speeds.

Magik and Shadowcat join up with Cyclops, Magneto, and Pixie as they watch this fight from the safety of a rooftop.  Kitty is pissed off at Scott and understandably so.  Even though Cyclops didn't intend to offer up Piotr to be Cyttorak's new avatar, he still had plans in place to put another Rasputin in the role.  Even though Kitty isn't friendly with Illyana, you have to imagine that she wouldn't like ANYONE she knows to get the power of the Juggernaut.

Illyana explains what happened to Scott but tells him that they have more important things to worry about.  Pushing Kuurth back along the path he took into the city is also gathering up all that rune writing he was laying down with every footstep.  It's setting off a magic bomb that will go off when they reach the beginning of Kuurth's path.

Kuurth and Colossus are going 600 miles per hour when they reach the beginning of the Worthy's rune trail.  The rune bomb is reaching critical mass.  Before it can explode, the Serpent summons his servant back to Dark Asgard.  You can see Kuurth on the floating island in Fear Itself #6 and you know he'll be a part of the slobber-knocker final battle in Fear Itself #7.

As far as the runic bomb goes... I don't know.  It looks pretty dangerous but they don't talk about it after showing the thing in one panel with Illyana's dialogue saying "Now we must hope we also SURVIVE."  I guess it's a non-issue.  Our story follows Colossus who is still running.

Because he's UNSTOPPABLE!  Haha!

On the mutant isle of Utopia, Emma Frost has finally reaches Hope and is smothering the youngster with a pillow.  To the rescue?  Namor the Sub-Mariner.

I bet you didn't expect that, huh?

Even though Namor is busy with his own things in Fear Itself: The Deep, he takes a break (between issue #3 and #4, I'm guessing) to make sure his current love interest isn't going to kill anyone.  After pulling the telepath off of Hope, he frees her from the Serpent's power with a kiss.

Yes.  A kiss.

At first Emma thinks she's just been kissed by Scott but immediately figures out that's not true.  She tells the Atlantean monarch not to tell anyone about this.  I don't think she's terribly worried about the kiss and claims that the attempted murder doesn't really bother her.  It's the REASON behind it all that would ruin her.  She's got an image to maintain, dammit.  Namor probably agrees.  He's mostly just here to make sure that Cyclops is involved in a tragic love triangle.

And if you notice, he's not wearing his usual X-Man uniform.  You might think he's wearing his more traditional trunks but the heavy shadows make me think he's just walking around naked.  U-Decide.

Cyclops, Illyana, and Kitty finally catch up to Colossus in the middle of nowhere.  Looks like the man finally came to a stop.  Cyclops isn't happy with Piotr for stepping into the role of Juggernaut.  After all, that was supposed to be Magik's job.  Scott figures Illyana has experience with being a dark and scary person and might have been able to handle it.  Piotr doesn't care.  He's the kind of guy who makes these type of sacrifices.

Kitty is up next.

I guess if he gets a new set of clothes, he could get a shave, too.

While she understands why Piotr did this, she still can't understand why he did it for Illyana.  Maybe she's having more issues with Magik than I let on.  In fact, I wonder if Kitty really would have been cool with Illyana getting the power of the Juggernaut.

All this considered, she can't be with someone who is always willing to die.  Pryde wants someone willing to live. RELATIONSHIP OVER!

Which is for the best because they'd get separated anyway post-Schism.

And now, Illyana talks to her brother.  She tries to give her brother some comfort but it's pretty obvious that Piotr's worldview has changed.  He sees the destruction he has just caused and thinks it's the best thing he's ever seen.

All that's left is for Cyclops to have a talk with Mayor Sadie Sinclair.  Outside the offices, we see the protesters have taken off and that everyone loves mutants again.  Scott tells the mayor that the X-Men are helping the authorities quell some riots but everything seems to be settling down nicely.

Now, we get to the meat of the conversation.  Scott knows what she was going to do.  And let's not mince words here, it might have been a last resort plan but it was STILL on the table.  They still would have sacrificed the mutants to "save" themselves.  So much for standing together until the end.

Across the street, Esme (from the Stepford Cuckoos), uses her telepathy to freeze Sadie in place.  Scott tells her just how many people in Utopia could kill her or incapacitate her and no one would ever suspect them.  Now, that's not going to happen right now.  The X-Men like their relationship with the good people of San Francisco.

But they've been pushed just about as far as a people CAN be pushed and that's long done.

As Cyclops leaves, Mayor Sadie asks if HE ever considered the offer.  Scott pauses for a moment, turns, and says "of course not."  After that, the leader of the mutant race leaves with Magneto by his side.

It's open to interpretation whether you believe him or not.


Avengers: The Children's Crusade #7Avengers: The Children's Crusade #7
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Penciler: Jim Cheung

In this issue:

• The Scarlet Witch has just given the first mutant back their powers only to be confronted by a full X-Men team.  Or two.

• The Avengers arrive and everyone starts arguing.

• The Scarlet Witch is willing to turn herself over to the X-Men but everyone starts fighting anyway.  It is crazy.

• When the welfare of her sons are put in jeopardy, the Scarlet Witch puts both X-Men and Avengers asleep before teleporting right to Castle Doom.

• Scarlet Witch and Dr. Doom explain the secret history behind Avengers: Dissasembled.

• Since they don't have any more time, Wanda asks for Doom's help in giving all the mutants back their powers.

• Patriot doesn't trust Dr. Doom and fires an explosive arrow right in the middle of the spell.  This ruins everything.

• It also gives Dr. Doom a whole lot of extra power.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

The Scarlet Witch has a complicated recent history.  During Avengers: Disassembled, it was revealed that Wanda Maximoff went crazy after Janet Van Dyne reminded her that her kids were killed.  That led to a couple deaths of other Avengers and Wanda was left in the care of her father, Magneto.  During House of M, the Avengers and X-Men discussed what to do with the Scarlet Witch.  Death was tossed about.  Concerned about this, Quicksilver manipulated her sister into creating a new world, the House of M.  When that blew up in everyone's faces, Wanda left the mutant population of the planet decimated.  Only a small percentage of mutants retained their powers.

This made the mutants an endangered species and gave them a LARGE chip on their shoulder against the Scarlet Witch.

This why even after giving the first mutant back his powers (Rictor), the X-Men are still ready to kill her.  A lot.  Until she's dead.

Luckily, the X-Men are still standing outside, stewing, when the Avengers arrive.  Magneto is with them.  Tensions are high and no one is helping the situation.

I hear we'll fit right in.

Everyone yells at everyone else.  Cyclops yells at Captain America because this is a mutant issue.  Cap yells at Cyclops because this is an Avengers issue.  Magneto... you know what?  Magneto actually tries to calm everyone down.  The world is a messed up place.  Scott decides to yell at Magnus because he told Magneto to stay away from this entire situation.

Rictor shakes the ground to show everyone what the X-Men could get if they only worked with Wanda.  She could give everyone back their powers.  If she's alive.  Being super reasonable, the Scarlet Witch agrees to turn herself in if they let her do this small bit to help the mutant population.

Quicksilver and Magneto aren't convinced that this is a good idea and are just waiting for the word to help Wanda escape.  the Scarlet Witch tells them to let her go.  Everything is about ready to work out for the best.  Except that isn't interesting enough so instead, Cyclops starts firing his optic blasts.

He is definitely angry about this and the rest of the X-Men are backing him up.  Scott isn't looking for the salvation of the mutant race at this moment.  He's looking for vengence.  It's all anger.  As an excuse, he tells the Avengers that the mutant race isn't THEIRS to decide on.  It's the X-Men who should be running this show.

I'm betting they're also a little angry that X-Title sales are slipping in favor of the Avengers books.  That has got to burn.  Hell, this book has "Avengers" in the title but it also seems to be focusing on the mutant issue, now.

Wanda keeps on trying to get everyone to calm down and is being pretty reasonable.  What sets everything off is merely a conversation between Mags and his daughter where the Scarlet Witch is trying to get his pop to let her go.  Of course, it's Cyclops that fires the first shot but everyone joins in soon after him.

And that leads to chaos.

I get that the X-Men are angry.  I get that.  It just seems odd that they're acting like spoiled brats here.  It's like someone took away their favorite toy and they aren't willing to listen to any rational thoughts.  Since this series has been full of moments like this, I shouldn't be at all surprised but I was really thinking that after some initial hiccups, this thing was on a direct path to greatness.  As they say, two steps forward, three steps back.

Everyone who was inside Avengers Mansion has so far remained out of this fight.  That would be guys like Beast, Hawkeye, Jessica Jones, and the Young Avengers.  I'm betting X-Factor has also stayed on the sidelines.  Wiccan, who is still depowered, tries to jump in and help out, pulling a beaten Captain America out of the battlezone.  Speed joins him.

And then, Emma Frost finds them both.  She uses her psi-powers to get them both agreeable on becoming X-Men.  Which is ten steps too far.  You don't mess with someone's kids.  Scarlet Witch runs through the battle, using her powers to put everyone to sleep on both sides of the fight.  Realizing that she won't be able to help anyone with these teams, she teleports herself and the Young Avengers back into Castle Doom.

For the first time since this story began, every teenager has the same thought.  This is a super-villain team-up.  Even Wiccan thinks it but he hopes he's wrong.  It turns out they all are.  Go figure.

All of this memory building has filled in some holes in Wanda's fractured past.  She has learned that she is the Scarlet Witch which is something she didn't know when she left Castle Doom.  She also remembers most of what led up to Avengers: Disassembled.  Dr. Doom knows the rest.

This is the secret history behind that worst day in Avengers history.

Wanda didn't actually go nuts after Janet Van Dyne told her that she had lost her twins.  Instead, this just made her want to bring them back to life in some way.  Naturally, Wanda went to Dr. Doom to do this.  Sure, he was an evil man bent on conquering the world but that just meant that maybe he would be cool with casting some dark magic with her.

The spell to return Wanda's kids to life didn't go off as planned.  Instead, it imbued her with a whole lot more powers and an extreme case of magic madness.  Only then did she go off on a murder spree at Avengers Mansion.  The madness didn't go away after that incident and neither did the powers.  While she isn't crazy anymore (at least not right NOW), her abilities are amped at the same levels.

With these abilities, she plans on returning the mutant population to it's normal numbers.  Since the Avengers and X-Men refused to play nice, Wanda doesn't have the option of doing this on a case by case basis.  Instead, it's going to be done all in one burst.  All or nothing, baby!  To help out, Dr. Doom is going to be involved in the spell.  To keep him honest, Wiccan is going to be monitoring the dictator.

It turns out that Doom never really took away Billy's powers.  Instead, he just used a spell that would make Wiccan believe anything he said.  Now, that spell is lifted and the big spell begins.

There are those in the group that think this is a monumentally bad idea.  You can guess who's at the forefront of that group.  Patriot has been a constant when pointing out the flaws in everyone else's reasoning.  He's basically been my voice throughout this series.  Eli isn't about to trust DOCTOR DOOM to not pull a fast one in this case.  Even with Wiccan as the enforcer of this situation, this is a terrible idea.  No amount of convincing will convince him otherwise.

The spell begins anyway.  Patriot doesn't stop thinking it to be a bad idea.

It's about time.

Yeah, it's about time for him to do something monumentally stupid.  He grabs Hawkeye's bow and arrow and fires a blast arrow in the midst of all this magic hoo-hah.  It explodes right in Wanda's face, interrupting the spell but not stopping it.

Wiccan uses his own magic to heal his mother.  Eli tries to apologize over and over again.  What he did is pretty much horrible.  All of the Scarlet Witch's extra energy is gone.  She can no longer bring back the mutant race to it's previous levels.  That option is now gone.

While everyone is focusing on Wanda, they forget to watch Doom.  A bright light fills up the background and bits of the dictator's armor starts falling to the ground.  This includes his face mask.

When they all get a good look, they see an unmasked Victor Von Doom in a new white costume.  He tells them that he will fix everything.


The Amazing Spider-Man #101The Amazing Spider-Man #101
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Gil Kane

In this issue:

• Spider-Man grows himself some extra arms.

• After blowing everyone off, Peter gets permission to use Curt Connors' unused house in Southampton.

• He travels there and gets right to work getting rid of his superfluous limbs.

• On a boat off shore, Morbius is being chased for killing a bunch of people including the captain.  He avoids capture until nightfall and then kills the rest of the crew.

• After that, he dives into the water so that he can spend the day sleeping in the belfry of the Connors house.

• When night falls, Morbius heads downstairs and finds Spider-Man hard at work in the basement laboratory.  It's like the perfect meal.

• After a struggle, Spidey is knocked unconsious.  Morbius gets ready to feed.

• Before that can happen, the scientific vampire is interrupted by Dr. Curt Connors.

• When the scientist gets a good look at Spider-Man's assailant, he freaks out and becomes the Lizard.

• Spidey wakes up to find things have gotten a whole lot worse.

October 1971!  Fantastic Four #115, Captain America #142, Incredible Hulk #144, Iron Man #42, and Sgt. Fury #92 were on the stands.  In Amazing Spider-Man #101, Morbius the Living Vampire was introduced to the world.

Due to recent relaxation of Comic's Code rules, Marvel was able to pursue more horror related genres.  That meant vampires and things that go bump in the night were once more allowed in their non-black and white books.  That meant Morbius.

Marvel wasn't about to take the easy way on the introduction of their first vamp.  Morbius might have sucked blood, slept during the day, and had the complexion of your average vampire but his origins were more scientific in nature and his wardrobe was more spandex than a traditional vampire would allow.  As his name suggests, Michael Morbius wasn't like the other blood suckers.  Sure, he had all the characteristics but he wasn't dead and there was always a chance that his little curse could be cured.

But first, we up the monster quotient with a six armed Spider-Man.  Last issue, Peter Parker decided to play mad scientist and drink an experimental formula that was supposed to take away his spider-powers.  Instead, it further mutated his condition, making him more like a spider than ever.  Fortunately, all we see are the extra arms and not the webbing coming out of his butt.

Peter acts like any guy would if he suddenly sprouted two extra sets of arms.  He freaks out.  It doesn't help that these new limbs are difficult to control and they keep touching him.  It also doesn't help that he has a civilian life where the extra hands might get noticeable.  Sure, he can wear an overcoat but at some point, he's either going to have to take that thing off in public or people will think he's up to something else entirely.

So the new, monstrous Peter Parker is just coming to grips with his new unfortunate situation when his best girl, Gwen Stacy, calls him up and asks him out to an R-rated movie.  This is probably like getting to third base in the seventies so it's a big deal.  Still reeling from his four new arms, Peter barely comes up with a passable lie and his stress in the situation leads Gwen to thing he's mad at her.  He tells his girlfriend that he's got to leave town for a while so she won't hear from him for the foreseeable.

Peter hangs up the phone and starts imagining how horrible his life will be before another call gets his attention.  This one is from Daily Bugle Editor-in-Chief, Robbie Robertson.  It seems there's been a bank robbery and they want some pictures taken by their only available staff photographer.  You might know him.  He's called Peter Parker.

Again, Peter has to turn someone down but this time Robbie makes up most of the excuses for him.  It's far too late at night for him to go out and take photos.  Parker repeats the line about leaving town before Robbie lets him go.  Talking to a furious J. Jonah Jameson, Robertson seems more concerned with the well-being of Peter Parker than about getting photographs of a robbery.

Instead of moping around his apartment and waiting for his roommate (Harry Osborn) to find him and his extra arms, Peter actually DOES plan on skipping town.  He remembers that Doctor Curt Connors has a house in Southampton and gives the doc a call for approval to use the place.  Convincing Connors that this is Spider-Man is as simple as Peter telling Curt about his reptilian past (Doctor Connors sometimes moonlights as the Lizard).  For all the help that Spider-Man has given him, the good doctor gladly allows the use of his Southampton home and its basement laboratory.

Peter Parker packs up a few things and then swings out of his apartment.

And right into the building across the street.

It turns out those extra arms really mess with his balance.  His lack of control isn't doing him any favors, either.  The arms just flail around while he's swinging.  Fortunately, this problem doesn't last long term.  He keeps swinging around and learns how to control the arms more and more for the effort.

Next stop: Southampton!

Spider-Man arrives at the boarded-up house after taking a ride on a train, hobo-style (if hobos rode on the top of trains).  This house on the beach looks straight out of a horror movie but Peter knows the owner and convinces himself that the jibblies he's getting are strictly his imagination.  That doesn't explain his spider-sense pounding through his head, though.

Neither does the source.  Usually, the spider-sense warns Peter of impending danger and not things happening on boats a little less than a mile off shore.  If the spider-sense was giving off warnings like this all the time, Peter would be popping a lot more aspirin.  I'm guessing this is a by-product of the formula he took earlier that enhanced his spider-powers.

But anyway, less than a mile off shore, the crew of a particular boat finds themselves living a horror story.  A few crewmen have disappeared over the last few days and last night, their captain was killed.  The only suspect is a man they found in the ocean before this all started.  The crew turns into a violent mob and rushes below deck to exact some vengeance.

Now, normally I'd be against the violent mob taking the law into their own hands.  In fact, when I first read this comic, I figured the man they had fingered for the crime was innocent and that one of the crew was using this as a means to kill a bunch of people for whatever reason someone would need for that sort of thing.  It turns out that in this case, the man they're after is ACTUALLY guilty and considering their eventual fate, I guess I'd go the mob route, too.

The man they are after is Michael Morbius, a particularly ugly man with his white skin, turned up nose, and hideous facial hair.  Since he actually DID kill these men's friends and coworkers, they have every right to perform a citizen's arrest and lock the dude up for the remainder of the voyage.  They probably don't have the right to tackle the man and beat him within an inch of his life but that's how angry mobs work.  It doesn't matter too much because Morbius proves to be surprisingly strong and impressively fast.

After knocking out the nearest crewmembers, Morbius makes a run for it an manages to evade everyone for the remainder of the day.  Part of him wants to turn himself in and receive some of their punishment.  The rest of him thinks that's a terrible idea.

When night falls, Morbius's skin goes even more pale and he replaces his crew clothing for a more form-fitting, super-villain costume.  He then goes around the ship, killing the remaining crew members and sucking their blood.  After this orgy of violence, the pseudo-vampire celebrates his victory by wishing HE were among the dead.  After throwing up, he leaps into the ocean to find his next meal.

We all know where this is going.  Morbius walks up on the shore and finds the Connors house in front of him.  Instead of breaking inside for an immediate fight with Spider-Man, the Living Vampire jumps up to the roof and takes a nap in the belfry.  The sun is already in the sky and that means his powers are waning.  Time for a nap.

Down in the basement, Spider-Man is busy trying to get rid of his extra arms and having no luck with that.  The hours roll on as frustration sets in.  It's a good thing that Peter is working in his full costume and mask because he gets a surprise visitor as the sun sets.  In Morbius's exploration of this house, he's finally found someone to eat.

This is an unexpected attack and Spider-Man's spider-sense gives him no warning at all.  Luckily, he's no novice in the super-villain fight department and he gets right to beating up the bad guy.  The problem with that is that Spidey has underestimated Morbius's ferocity.

I'm not COMPLAINING, mind you.

Morbius doesn't relinquish the advantage and Spider-Man is assaulted by attack after attack until he is knocked unconscious.  The villain swoops down to suck out some precious blood.

But before he can eat his tasty meal, Morbius is interrupted by Curt Connors.  I guess the doctor though he could help Spider-Man out of his handy situation and flew up here from the Everglades.  The confrontation with Morbius is more than his condition will allow, however.

When he gets a good look at the pseudo-vamp, Connors is terrified out of his human form and into something more scaley.  Within moments, the Lizard is out to play.  That doesn't put Spider-Man in any immediate danger, though, because the Lizard wants the Wall-Crawler all to himself.  That means the immediate enemy is Morbius.  The two creatures square off as Spidey regains consciousness.

That's probably not something you'd want to wake up to.


The Amazing Spider-Man #102The Amazing Spider-Man #102
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Gil Kane

In this issue:

• Morbius fights the Lizard and wins.  Before he can suck any blood out of the Lizard, Spider-Man interrupts and forces the Living Vampire to escape.

• The Lizard is affected by whatever Morbius put in his blood stream and is left with Doctor Curt Connors' personality.  He and Spider-Man decide that their cure lies in this enzyme and continue Peter's experiments based on that theory.

• Morbius heads into New York City to get a good day's rest.  When he dreams, we get his origin story.  It involves a vampire bat, a Nobel Prize winning biologist, a rare blood disease, and an experiment in the middle of the Atlantic.

• Spider-Man and Dr. Connors finish their preparations and swing into New York.  Connors finds it hard to maintain control of the Lizard and he swings back and forth between personalities.

• Morbius meets up with Spider-Man and the Lizard in Manhattan.  After a quick fight, the Living Vampire is knocked unconscious and the enzyme he injects from his fangs is extracted.

• Connors mixes up the formula and injects it.  It rapidly turns him back to his full human form.

• Before Spider-Man can take it and lose his extra arms, Morbius breaks free and takes the serum himself.

• After giving chase, Spider-Man's attack again knocks the villain unconscious.  Morbius plunges into a nearby bay.  Spider-Man tries to snag the Living Vampire with a webline but only manages to save the formula before Michael Morbius disappears beneath the surface.

• Taking the serum, Spider-Man gets rid of his extra limbs just as quickly as Connors changed back to his human form.  Parker then laments losing Morbius.

When I'm thinking of the best way to wake up, I'm usually not thinking that it would be to two super-villains fighting over the right to kill me.  That's exactly how Spider-Man wakes up to his unintentional nap.  He's still about eight degrees of groggy so all he can do is watch as Morbius, the Living Vampire, and the Lizard, the Living Lizard, fight to the death.

The villains fight for a couple pages until Morbius shoves the Lizard into some machinery, causing the reptilian bad guy to drop unconscious.  The Living Vampire isn't particular on where he gets his next meal and sinks his teeth into the Lizard.  Spider-Man races to the rescue before Morbius can suck out any blood.

By this point, the fight has gone out of Michael and he takes his leave.  More than that, he flies away.  When Spider-Man lands a flying two-legged kick, he notices that the pseudo-vampire is extemely light.  That combined with the gliding fabric on his costume might get him airborn.  Later on, it's explained as a psionic ability.

Spider-Man is so mystified by Morbius's flight that he almost doesn't notice when the Lizard wakes up.  If it IS the Lizard.  While Morbius wasn't able to suck out any blood, he WAS able to inject something into his intended victim.  This changed the Lizard partially back into Curt Connors.  At first, it's just his consciousness poking through the Lizard's face but in moments, he reverts to a state in between that of the Lizard and his usual human self.

It doesn't last long before Dr. Connors changes back to Lizard form but he retains most of his own consciousness.  Most.  Some of his lines comes straight from the Lizard personality.  Spider-Man makes a note to watch Connors but mostly trusts his friend to help him with his mad science experiment.

It all stems from Morbius.  Whatever concoction he was able to inject into the Lizard might be the answer that changes both Spidey and Dr. Connors back to their normal human self.  If they can only get a sample to mix in with what Spider-Man and Connors have already come up with, they might just stand a chance of losing their monsterous forms.  After they've finished some last minute sciencing the two head back to New York City to look for their Living Vampire.  All this time, Curt Connors swings back and forth between personalities.

And what is Michael Morbius up to at this hour?  Well, he's in Manhattan searching for a place to bunk down for the day.  While Morbius isn't exactly harmed by sunlight, he's certainly not helped by it.  During the daytime, he finds himself weakened and his conscience bothers him a whole lot more.  It's only at night that his powers reach their peak and he can almost forget the terrible atrocities he's committed.

After breaking into a boarded up cellar, the Living Vampire settles down to dream his origin story.

Once, this creature was a man known as Michael Morbius, a Nobel Prize winning Greek biochemist.  He was still as ugly as he is right now but at least he could get a decent tan.  Besides his dashing good looks, Michael also suffered from a degenerative blood disease.  Being a biochemist, he thought the answer to his problems lay in the blood of a vampire bat.  Yes, I'm serious.  He and his lab partner and best friend, Nikos, were experimenting on the problem but time was running our for Morbius.

That meant that he was rushing into experimenting on himself before all of the data had been properly collected.  You know.  Typical mad scientist approach that mimics what Spider-Man had done to himself in issue #100 (he gave himself four more arms-- you haven't missed anything).  He and Nikos were trying to leave alone to conduct this experiment on a boat in the middle of the ocean but Michael's way too hot girlfriend, Martine, decided to come with even though she doesn't know what her ugly boyfriend is up to.

It's a trip through the Mediterranean and then a chartered Yacht sailing from Great Britain out into the Atlantic.  This takes up pretty much ever penny Michael has ever made but he figures it's do or die time.  Besides, it's only money.  He and Nikos set up the equipment while Martine busies herself with other matters.  She's still oblivious to Michael's plans.

When everything is set up, Morbius gets the experiment running properly.  He's wearing two layers of protective equipment when Nikos floods his body with electricity in an attempt to recreate blood cells in Michael's body.  Of course, the vampire bat fits in there somehow as well but it's comic book science so just pretend the puzzle all fits together.

When the experiment is finished, Michael Morbius is a changed man, no longer suffering from a degenerative blood disease.  Instead, he's gained the powers of a vampire.  Nikos helps him out of the first layer of protective clothing but they leave the second set on because it will become Morbius's new costume.  With that done, Nikos helps his friend into a rest area.

The rest doesn't last long.  Morbius emerges and strangles his friend to death.  If he sucks the man's blood, it's left unmentioned.  Whatever the case, Morbius is quick to realize that he is some sort of vampire now.  He thinks about running to his girlfriend and crying on her shoulder but realizes that he's also thinking about killing her.  To escape that terrible fate, Morbius dives off of his yacht, attempting suicide.

He almost goes through with this.  Almost.  When his fate is nearly sealed, instinct takes over and Michael makes a scramble back to the surface.  When he gulps down air again, we find he has changed.  The Morbius that emerges from the water is more monster than man, regretting that he just gave up another meal.  His yacht is too far gone to reach.

There will be other ships.  Morbius is lighter and stronger now so he can remain above water for much longer than a normal person.  Eventually, a ship finds him.  This ship is the same one that carried him to the United States from last issue and it all comes together.

This is a reccurring dream for Morbius.  It doesn't help that he went to bed hungry.  If only he could find a place to deliver some sweet blood...

It looks like there IS a place.  A hobo walks into his resting place, thinking that this would be a nice place to set up shop.  Morbius wakes up and feeds.

Let's switch scenes again.  In a Television News Service call area, the guy manning the phone keeps getting the same screwy calls from people claiming that a hundred armed monster with a tail is swinging through Long Island.  He dismisses this even though he lives in the Marvel Universe.  What he doesn't realize is that these calls are based on fact.

Spider-Man may not have one hundred arms but he IS rocking six of them.  He's also carrying a passenger the Lizard, which accounts for the tail.  The unlikely duo has made their way back to Manhattan but waste the whole day trying to find Morbius with no luck.

Luck is usually not a word you associate with Spider-Man.  That's because bad things keep happening to him.  This time, it's Curt Connors losing control of the Lizard form to its usual occupant.  The Lizard doesn't waste time attacking Spidey, though.  Instead, he just lets go of the Wall-Crawler and plummets to the streets below.  Peter catches the villain with a web just in time for the creature to relinquish control back to Curt Connors.  Stuff is confusing, yo.

Curt tells Spider-Man that this is no way to do things.  He's a danger to Spidey and to the success of this mission.  If the Lizard had decided to attack the Web-Slinger... but that hasn't happened yet.  Spider-Man can't let the Lizard get out of eyesight at any rate.  This is the way it's going to have to be, with Peter keeping one eye out for Morbius and the other on his ally.

Parker's life is all about its ups and downs and having to babysit the Lizard is just one troubling event happening in it.  Witness, if you will, Gwen Stacy.  She's sitting in her apartment, waiting for Peter to give her a sign that he cares.  Last issue, Peter blew off a date with her and told Stacy that he'd be leaving town for a while.  He wasn't very nice about it.  We know that's because he was dealing with four recently formed arms but Gwen just thinks he was being a super dick.

She's tried calling him a few times since then but doesn't get an answer.  Suddenly, she realizes that "out of town" might just mean he was staying in Forest Hills with Aunt May.  When she calls up May, Peter's elderly Aunt tells Gwen that Peter hasn't contacted her in quite a while and if he was going out of town, he would definitely have given May a heads up.

Collapsing into tears, Gwen realizes that May is right.  Peter WOULD have called Aunt May before leaving town, even though he DIDN'T.  Clearly, Peter is avoiding her and never wants to talk to her ever again.

If you think that's bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet.  We get a few scenes of the Daily Bugle and learn that the legendary newspaper is losing money badly.  Papers aren't selling.  Staff is getting paid more.  Advertising is being pulled.  JJJ is going to have to make some hard decisions or his paper will be gone forever.

Man, I'd hate to be a Staff Photographer that just skipped town right about now...

When we catch back up with Morbius, night has fallen.  He is flying low over Manhattan looking for more blood.  Just as he finds some potential victims, Spider-Man and the Lizard find HIM.

They've gotten close.

Spidey and the Lizard have both suffered some unconsciousness in the story so it's now Morbius' turn.  After a short fight, Spider-Man smashes the Living Vampire into a wall, producing the unconscious state.  Parker holds the villain down while Connors retrieves the enzyme sample.  When it's mixed with the rest of their concoction, the color turns blue.  This is what they were hoping for.

Curt takes some of the solution and almost instantly returns to his human form.  The stuff is majorly fast acting.  Before the rest can be passed to Spider-Man, Morbius returns from the land of nod and kicks the Wall-Crawler off of him.  After stealing the serum, the Living Vampire makes a quick getaway through the air, announcing that HE will drink this formula.  Maybe it'll work on him, too.

Before Spider-Man gives chase, Dr. Connors tells him that the vampiric man must be Michael Morbius.  This finally gives them a name to the villain of the piece but doesn't change what has to be done.  Morbius HAS to be stopped and saved, if possible.

It's a fast race across Manhattan before Spider-Man finally gets close enough to web the Living Vampire.  This isn't enough, though.  Morbius pulls Spider-Man off the ground and over the water.  Spider-Man makes his move to stop this ride but ends up directing Morbius right into a low bridge.  Once again, Morbius is knocked unconscious.

Spider-Man manages to land on a dock but the Living Vampire hits the water and is quickly dragged under.  Spider-Man is nearly out of web fluid but makes one attempt to snag Michael Morbius's still visible hand.  Instead, he catches the formula.

I'm guessing Spidey could have jumped in to save the villain but have you SEEN the polluted water around New York?  I haven't but I'm guessing it's pretty nasty if Peter doesn't even make an attempt.  Instead, he laments that he wasn't able to save the poor biochemist and returns to Doctor Connors with the real prize.

The serum.

Back with Dr. Connors, Peter tells the scientist what happened before taking the serum himself.  It acts just as quickly on him as it did the Lizard and our hero is back to his two armed variant.  The two men talk about the inevitability of Morbius's demise but we all know that this isn't the last we'll see of the Living Vampire.

And sure enough, it wasn't.  Michael Morbius returned as both a sympathetic Spider-Man villain and and the hero of his own stories (the black and white Vampire Tales and half of the Adventure into Fear book from #20-31).  When the comic book boom of the nineties was in full effect, Morbius got his own title again which lasted right up until the bubble burst on the industry.

Nowadays, Morbius appears every so often in Spider-Man and you never know if you're going to get the good guy or the bad guy version.  In a world where vampires are still appearing all over pop culture, we're certain to see the Living Vampire again.  I sure would like to see him interact with today's vampire sects.

Well, what do you know?  Another column has reached its conclusion.  I hope you had fun Super Reading and we'll catch you again quite soon.

Until then:  Excelsior!
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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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