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Super Reads 166

Namor Brand!It's time to learn important lessons about life and death.

Today, we check out Fear Itself #7.1: Captain America, Fear Itself: The Fearless #2, Avengers Academy #21, and Blast to the Past for Sub-Mariner #'s 50 & 51.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Super Reads 166

Welcome back to the best damn article on the internet.

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

The Fear Itself aftermath keeps on rolling in.  Let's see how Captain America deals with the impressively permanent death of his former partner, Bucky Barnes.

Fear Itself #7.1: Captain AmericaFear Itself #7.1: Captain America
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Butch Guice

In this story:

• Steve Rogers prepares his eulogy for James Buchanan Barnes' funeral at Arlington Cemetery.

• Nick Fury shows up to tell Rogers that Bucky is still alive.

• Steve throws Nick across the room and beats on the grizzled WWII vet until James and Natasha show up and confirm that this wasn't Fury's idea.

• We learn that after the battle in Washington, the medics were able to bring Barnes a little way back from the edge of death.  Fury had a pre-made LMD of James set up to look like a very dead Captain America while the real deal was secreted away to one of his safehouses.

• Once there, Bucky was given Nick's last dose of the Infinity Formula and everyone hoped for the best.  It was Natasha that kept the information from Steve.  This got Rogers back in the fight as Captain America and also gave James a new lease on life.

• Bucky's funeral happens just as planned.

• As everyone is partying it up at the wake at Avengers Mansion, Rogers is saying a real farewell to Barnes as his former partner goes off to hunt down secret Soviet weapons as the Winter Soldier.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

In Fear Itself #3, the then-current Captain America (James Barnes) was brutally killed in the Battle of Washington D.C. by the Herald of the Serpent, Skadi, who was also the Red Skull's daughter, Sin.  James Buchanan Barnes' death shattered Steve Rogers' determination and forced him back into the fight as Captain America.  It left him emotionally compromised while leading the most important battle for the future of the human race.  At several points in the conflict, we saw Captain America at the last shred of his resolve, and at one point, he even admitted that the battle was lost.  A lot of that came from the death of his oldest friend.

I'm building this all up because it was a big fat hairy lie.

On the day of James Barnes' funeral, Steve Rogers is at his home in Brooklyn, working on Bucky's eulogy.  It's emotionally draining work and all that other stuff that makes him a "Shattered Hero."  As he's reading the beta version of the eulogy aloud, Nick Fury shows up to tell him the true story of the life and times of James Barnes.

Let's go back to a place between issue #3 and #4 of Fear Itself.  Bucky's body is being airlifted out of Washington D.C. as paramedics try to save his life.  Black Widow and Nick Fury are both there and neither of them are at all confident that Captain America will pull through this ordeal.  As Natasha cries her eyes out on Nick's shoulder, one of the medics announces that they've resuscitated him to a weak pulse.  If there are any final words to be said, now would be the time.

A pulse is just what Nick needs to save Bucky's life.  He gives the pilot new coordinates.

In the present, Steve knows where Fury's story is going and is justifiably pissed off.  He starts hitting Nick around the room.

DESERVED.

The whole time, Fury is trying to tell Rogers that keeping it a secret from him was never Nick's idea.  He grabs what has to be a replica of Cap's shield (because Steve didn't get his real shield back until two days after Barnes' funeral-- you'll also notice that this one doesn't show a visible crack in the front) and tells Steve to stop hitting him an listen to the whole story.  An unshaven Bucky Barnes and Natasha arrive to confirm that it WASN'T Nick who kept this from America's Top Cop.  Steve Rogers prepares to listen to a bit more of the story.

We move forward to events that happen JUST before Fear Itself #4.  Nick Fury, Natasha Romanova, and a dead Captain America are in the red room that we saw in that issue but no one else has arrived just yet.  Black Widow mentions how impressive the wounds on the Bucky LMD look.  Nick admits that the Barnes Life Model Decoy was made a while back just in case it was needed.  All they needed to do was make it look as dead as the Cap we saw in Fear Itself #3.

He then asks NATASHA if she's sure about HER plan.  Yep, it's all the Black Widow's fault.  Here's why.  James was being held in a Russian Gulag for crimes he committed as the Winter Soldier.  If the world thinks him dead, well, it gets Barnes out of prison and back to fighting the good fight and stuff.  It's a great little do-over.  The bonus of this is that it gets Steve back in the Captain America uniform... though as I've already mentioned, it DOES leave him psychologically scarred during some important battles and hellbent on revenge for Barnes' death.  You know he wouldn't have fallen for Sin's trap in Avengers #16 if he had known that James were still alive.

Before Iron Man and Thor enter the red room in Fear Itself #4, Black Widow and Nick Fury fake some emotional reactions for the sake of the rubes.

Some of these emotions are probably real.  Bucky isn't out of the woods yet.  In fact, he's not even on the trail.  At Nick Fury's Secret Base #008 (The Playground, apparently located on the border of Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq and FAR from the big battles of Fear Itself), medical personel prepare to administer the last dose of Nick Fury's Infinity Formula.  For those out of the know, the Infinity Formula is what keeps Nick Fury relatively young-looking and vigorous from decade to decade.  He's a World War II vet, after all.  He shouldn't have one brown hair on his head.  He shouldn't ever be wearing skin-tight spandex.  The Infinity Formula allows for both.

And, yes, this is similar to what happened over in New Avengers #13 with Mockingbird.  After getting shot in the gut, Bobbi Morse was given a cocktail of the Infinity Formula and the Super-Soldier serum to stay alive.  While this is JUST the Infinity Formula, the plan is the same: inject it in James Barnes and hope he survives the experience.

Two days pass before they know if James is going to survive.  In that time, Black Widow is sent on a few missions, at least by my understanding of the Fear Itself timeline (which is dangerous territory to tread but bear with me).  The first is Fear Itself: Black Widow #1 which is largely a throwaway story where Natasha shows no emotions about the "death" of her boyfriend.  The next is Secret Avengers #15.  This is the issue where Black Widow raids the headquarters of internet tabloid, The Unexpected Truth, because they are claiming to have proof that James Buchanan Barnes is still alive.  This issue is put into a new perspective when you realize that he WAS still alive and that maybe Natasha was paying a visit to make sure that information hadn't leaked.  It would also happen before Barnes woke up, meaning that Natasha was still on edge about the whole thing, hoping that her boyfriend would pull through but having no guarantees.

Of course, he DOES pull through and after asking some basic questions on his situation, he asks where Steve Rogers is.  When he learns that Rogers isn't in the know about his miraculous recovery, he makes sure that Steve is told.  It's also a priority to do it before his own funeral.  Black Widow makes sure that Rogers knows that the delay involved was her doing.  She kept it from Steve because she thought the anger he felt would focus him into beating back the Serpent's forces and she wasn't certain that James was going to live.

Now, it's all out in the open.

Just like in real life!

Except it still ISN'T.  No one is telling the world that Bucky is alive.  Nick Fury tells Steve this is because James shouldn't have the burden of being Captain America and needs to work "in the shadows."  This pisses Rogers off (of course) but there's a logic to it.  Barnes is getting his "remains" inhumed at Arlington Cemetery as a war hero instead of rotting in a Russian Gulag.  The other part of this is that James himself thinks it's a good idea to do some wetworks.  For now.

The funeral is going to go off as expected.  Steve will read the eulogy and everyone will weep and wail.  If you're expecting James to show up and check out the affair, guess again.  It's too cliché to attend your own funeral and if he's spotted, it would defeat the purpose of going underground.

And so a funeral happens.  After the funeral?  The after-party at Avengers Mansion.  This is where we learn that it's a damn good thing that Bucky didn't sneak into his own funeral because some Avengers are paying CLOSE ATTENTION.  Hawkeye, for example, notices that Nick Fury was in a fight earlier and that Steve broke into a smile a few times while reading the eulogy.  While that can be played off as Rogers remembering the good times he spent with James Barnes, it's obviously a sign that Steve has a terrible poker face.  Nick admits to nothing.

Everyone is waiting for Steve to arrive but he has other things going on right now.  Primary on the list: saying good-bye to an old friend.  This time, it's for real.  Bucky is going dark and that means they won't be hanging out in a bar and reminiscing on old times.  James is taking his motorcycle and going on a cross-country journey of self discovery and killing bad guys as the Winter Soldier.  It appears even more of his memories have surfaced that weren't revealed when Steve made him remember everything with the help of a Cosmic Cube.  These have revealed some old Soviet threats that he has to find and neutralize before they become a danger.

Just like that, he drives off into the horizon for adventures in the new ongoing Winter Soldier book.  On-sale next year!

And as a final thought on this "resurrection."  The one big clue that it was coming was laid down prior to Fear Itself in Avengers #6.  In that issue, some future heroes talk about Barnes once the past Avengers have left and hint that he'd be responsible for some big-time bad guy stuff in the future.  While that was a clue from an ever-maleable future, time will tell if those lines bear any fruit.

And that was the first Point issue in the Fear Itself Aftermath triple-header!  I expect Thor's issue to show us how he's not really dead and Iron Man's to reveal that Tony was drinking non-alcoholic beverages the whole time in order for this whole event to have no real repurcussions (besides Paris being completely stoned but I'm sure there's a work around in progress for the City of Lights).


Fear Itself: The Fearless #2Fear Itself: The Fearless #2
Writers: Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction & Chris Yost
Pencilers: Paul Pelletier & Mark Bagley

In this story:

• Outside of Berlin in March 1945, Brunnhilde continues her search for the Thule and finds a laboratory filled with dead Nazis.

• Raizo Kodo is there.  The Nazis were experimenting on Vampires and he intervened.  After a brief fight with the Valkyrie, Raizo explains that this is Vampire business and the base is set to blow.

• In Transylvania, Romania in the present, Val fights Nosferatu on her way to finding Nul's broken hammer.

• Next on her agenda is a visit with Raizo Kodo and the Forgiven.  They've stolen Nul's hammer from Dracula and aren't willing to part with it without another fight.

• Crossbones recovers the hammer of Mokk in Paris after killing a lot of dudes.

• After slicing each other up for a bit, Valkyrie explains that this is Asgardian business and Raizo turns over the hammer remains to her.

• While leaving, Valkyrie runs into the Secret Avengers... then they all run into a pack of Nosferatu.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

The Fearless has two storylines going on that just coincidentally include the same characters or similar story elements.  The first story takes place at the tail end of World War II and has Brunnhilde magically summoned by the Thule and trying to figure out why.  The second story takes place in the present and has Valkyrie (the modern name for Brunnhilde) chasing around the Worthy hammers in the aftermath of Fear Itself.

So your first question might be: Who the hell is Brunnhilde/Valkyrie?  Oh, man, have I attempted to answer that question in the past!  Brunnhilde's backstory is strange and confusing so let's focus on the relevant information.  She is the leader of the Valkyries with a history that possibly stretches back to a time before Midgard (Earth) was Midgard.  In fact, she might very well be from the previous world that was ruled over by Odin's brother, Cul, and known as Aesheim but then we're getting into confusing territory.  Spending hundreds of years mystically trapped by the Asgardian sorceress, the Enchantress, Brunnhilde found herself magically transported to Earth in the last issue along with the rest of the Valkyries.  She told them to go away as she investigated.

Brunnhilde's search leads her to a bunker outside Berlin in March of 1945.  Entering the facility, she discovers scientific materials all over the place.  There's also a lot of blood.  Her investigation is interupted when the Japanese vampire, Raizo Kodo attacks her.

Riazo Kodo is what you would classify as a "good" vampire.  He opposes Dracula, the Lord of Vampires, and currently leads a group of friendly vamps known as the Forgiven.  In this instance, he's acting alone.

After fighting for the better part of a page, Kodo tells Brunnhilde that he believed she was in league with the Thule Society.  After all, she's got that perfect Aryan body going on.  Valkyrie gets a good look at her opponent and finds that death is encircling him.  That's because he's a vampire and is undead.

So why is he here?  The Thule Society was trying to weaponize vampires and that would not work for him.  Raizo killed everyone in the facility, claiming that everything related to vampires falls under his purview.  This isn't a matter of debate.  The place is rigged to blow in two minutes.  Brunnhile is left wondering who the Thules are as we are treated to an massive explosion.

From this opening scene, we switch locales and times.  A poor peasant woman is being chased by a Nosferatu vampire across a Transylvanian forest in the present day.  To the rescue is Valkyrie.  After cutting off the vampire's head, she continues on her own mission: locating missing hammers.

For those who completly skipped the recent Fear Itself event and have been away from the internet for the past year, the big bad guy in Fear Itself, the Serpent, summoned seven hammers from the sky to power his seven big, bad champions into battle.  Those guys were known as the Worthy, and they supplanted the personalities of seven Marvel Characters to gain corporeal form.  One hammer had already been called down and activated to make the grand total of Worthy hammers eight.

Valkyrie has come a long way from her WWII appearance.  Now freed from the Enchantress's prison, she has served as a hero in the world of Man.  Recently, she was a member of Steve Rogers' super-hero spy team, the Secret Avengers.  In the wake of Fear Itself, Val defies orders, unwilling to allow the Worthy hammers to remain in the hands of men.  This puts her at odds with everyone.  She's taken Skadi's hammer from its containment aboard the Secret Avenger's Quincarrier.  Now, she's after the hammer of Nul, Breaker of Worlds.

This hammer was torn apart by the Hulk in Fear Itself: Hulk Vs. Dracula #3 and left in the hands of the Vampire Nation.  This is why Val is trudging through Transylvania.  Don't expect an appearance by Dracula.  This issue belongs to the vampire renegades, the Forgiven, and their leader, Raizo Kodo.

At least they aren't sparkling.

The Forgiven just make a cameo appearance here so you don't really need to know their deal.  It can be easily summed up as "good vampires" and left at that.  The group has done just what they announced at the end of Hulk Vs. Dracula #3.  They've broken into Saint Sebastian and acquired the broken hammer of Nul.  Don't expect them to give it up without a fight.

Let's switch locations once more.  In Paris, France, the city still suffers from the actions of Mokk, Breaker of Faiths.  A good chunk of the city's population was turned into stone and then smashed.  From the dialogue, it looks like the stoning was reversed but it's still unclear whether those broken to pieces were glued back together or if they remain dead.  Either way, their fate isn't our concern at the moment.

We follow Sin's right hand man, Crossbones, around the city.  Since he's an assassin, his path is full of dead bodies, mostly of soldiers who were performing rescue operations.  C-Bones is using a magical device that helps him track down the hammers.  He's leary about using it but Sin and a monsterous voice help him to understand how important it is.  The monsterous voice isn't given an identity but it's most likely the cyborg character we saw in the Fear Itself epilogue leading into this series.  And, for that matter, the cyborg is probably a Thule.

After following the magic gizmo's signals into a subway tunnel, Crossbones finds the hammer of Mokk in the hands of a bunch of stone cultists.  These are a bunch of formerly stoned people who found peace in the transition and want to be turned back to stone.  Their leader somehow got his hands on the hammer and now they hope to return to the blissful state of rock.

Are you realizing that these hammers aren't as secure as Captain America would have had us believe in the last issue?  It looks like the only one that we've seen that was properly contained was the one that Valkyrie stole out of the Quincarrier at the end of issue #1.  I can guess why Mokk's hammer is IN Paris after the Worthy dropped it in Fallen Asgard (I'm guessing the hammer was returned to Paris in order to work some magical spell that would turn the stoned people back to their more fleshy forms) but the fact that it so easily fell into the hands of this nervous looking-civilian?  Who the hell has Steve Rogers assigned to guard these things?  Imbeciles?

So far, Sin has escaped captivity in a matter of days after being captured and one of the weapons of mass destruction used by the Worthy during the Fear Itself event has fallen not into the hands of the enemy, but into the hands of a regular dude.  Note to Commander Rogers: INCREASE YOUR FREAKING SECURITY.  DO IT YESTERDAY.

You can guess how this scene ends.  Crossbones berates all of these people for wanting to return to stone and then slaughters them.  The hammer of Mokk is now in the hands of the bad guys.

We now return to Transylvania where Valkyrie and Raizo Kodo have begun their stand-off.  Sword versus sword!  Samurai versus Valkyrie!  Kodo makes sure that his Forgiven don't jump in on his side.  This fight is less about winning and more about summing up who Brunnhilde is.  Raizo has read about her but that doesn't mean he KNOWS her.  In his mind, fighting is a good way to get to know someone.

What he learns is that Val is kind of clumsy.  She gets cut up pretty easily.  It's a good thing she heals quickly and has super-strength to make up for her lack of skill.  To end the fight, Valkyrie catches Raizo's sword in her hand and tells Kodo that the hammer is Asgardian and that puts it under her purview.  Raizo remembers saying something similar to her back in 1945 and ends the fight (which is impressive because I can't even remember what I had for breakfast yesterday).  The remains of Nul's hammer are Brunnhilde's.  They're collected in a duffel bag.

Before she leaves, Raizo tells her that he might not have the powers of the Valkyrie but he, too can sense things about others.  During the battle, he sensed her "spirit."  He tells her, "You are nearly IMMORTAL... and yet you're CHASING death.  Why is that?"

Brunnhilde doesn't answer him as she leaves.  Walking through the Transylvanian forest, she busies herself by examining her cut hand.  The wound has healed up nicely.

Not too far away, Valkyrie faces the Secret Avengers who have teleported in using the Prince of Orphans' powers.  Black Widow, Ant-Man, and Shang-chi (who is using a katana for some reason) are visible in this scene.  They're former teammates as of last issue so they give her a chance to surrender herself.  Summoning up her mystic blade, Brunnhilde proclaims that surrender isn't an option right now.

The heroes are beset by a horde of Nosferatu.


Avengers Academy #21Avengers Academy #21
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Sean Chen

In this issue:

• Avengers Academy has moved to the Palos Verdes Compound in California and opened it's doors to a  robust new class of students.  Today, Avengers Captain America, Hawkeye, and Luke Cage are visiting.

• The original students are feeling pushed aside.  When they meet with Hank Pym and the Avengers, they argue with the adults about this.

• And that leads to a fight.

• Jocasta settles everyone down, yells at the lot of them and then tells Hank that she'll put together psyche evaluations on the kids that Pym will then ignore.  Hawkeye asks to join the faculty.

• The permanent students sit down and grumble about how that just went down and deal with it in their own ways.  This means that Hazmat tries having sex with Mettle only to get scared off at the last minute, remembering what happened when she last tried to have sex with someone.

• Jocasta heads to the Academy Nerve Center where she plans for the future of the students.

• The original students meet again with Hank Pym and the representing Avengers.  After apologies are sent out and accepted by everyone, two new additions are introduced: Lightspeed and White Tiger.

• Jocasta's absence is registered and Quicksilver races off to get her.  He returns in an instant and tells everyone to get to the Nerve Center where they find...

• ...Jocasta MURDERED!

• Pietro tells everyone that it was an inside job from all the evidence they have already gathered.

• While everyone panics, Reptil is replaced by his older self to begin some secret future mission.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Fear Itself is over and Avengers Academy is in a much different place.  While once residing in an Infinite Mansion located in Underspace (which means a sub-microscopic dimension), it has been moved to sunny California.  The address?  Palos Verdes.  This is the former headquarters of the West Coast Avengers and is pretty ideal for a new campus.

This is not the only change.  The other change is that rather than an Academy dedicated to training six super-powered kids how not to be villains, the Palos Verdes school is full of new students.  We met some of them when they arrived last issue, but now it's time to meet a whole lot more.  On the second and third page spread of this issue, we see Lightspeed, Spider-Girl, Justin Seyfert (from Sentinel), Lyra (Savage She-Hulk), Butterball, Machine Teen, Batwing, Whiz-Kid, White Tiger, Rocket Racer, Ricochet, Power Man, Turbo, and... is that Penance?  It is!  The former Gen X-er is called Hollow, now.

But that's not where this story begins.

It starts with Hank Pym, the wondrous Giant-Man, musing about his regrets.  Last issue, he lost his first student, Veil.  She didn't die.  She just left to do something else after being disillusions by the events of Fear Itself (man, who WASN'T?)  So, he's feeling bad about that.  In fact, he thinks that his visitors (Captain America, Hawkeye, and Luke Cage) are here to accuse him of incompetence.

Instead, they're just here to check out the new accomodations, meet the new students, and figure out what to do with the original students.

Speaking of original students, the five remaining kids aren't exactly mingling with the newcomers.  These kids are actually a tad threatened by the new arrivals.  In fact, after talking it over, their emotions expand into believing that they are being replaced, shoved aside, and waiting to be removed as a failed experiment.

They've actual reasons for believing this.  The chief one is that everyone expects these kids to grow up to be super-villains.  They were seriously messed with by Norman Osborn and were evaluated in the high risk category.  That's why they were receiving the special attention in the first place.  Now that one of them has "fallen," the rest believe that Hank could be over-compensating by filling the school with less villainous students.

The attending adult, Jocasta, tells them that they're all being silly but the kids include her on the list of people that might not be in the know of Hank Pym's plans.  She is, after all, a flight risk herself.  Near the end of Mighty Avengers, she was married to the robotic Avengers villain, Ultron, to bring a temporary truce between it and the Avengers.  While this was mostly symbolic, Jocasta does spend some time in Ultron's dimension, fulfilling her wifely duties.  Now that Ultron has found its way back to Earth (in Avengers #12.1), it's possible he has been using Jocasta to keep track of the Avengers.  The point is, maybe Hank and company no longer trust the robotic Avenger.

Enough of that gossip and speculation.  It's time for the original student body to find out what the Avengers and Hank Pym have in store for them.  Jo brings them to a private meeting.

Things... don't go well.

And put those fake claws away!

Before Hank Pym gets to tell them his plans for their future curriculum, Striker goes off on him.  His rant is basically "spare me your pleasantries, wife-beater!"  Cap rushes to the defense of his friend and things spiral right out of control from there.  The fun part is that it's not Striker that throws the first punch.  It's Mettle.  The big red guy reacts after Luke Cage tells Striker to bring more respect in a conversation with Captain America.

The rest of the kids follow Mettle's lead and the Avengers don't actually do anything to calm the situation down.  It's like everyone is spoiling for a fight and no one wants to be the voice of reason.

So Jocasta decides to do that herself.  She lights up the area with a blast of energy and then scolds everyone (EVERYONE) for acting like children.  Captain America still tries to act all disappointed in the kids' behavior, though.  He tells the students that they were going to get special "one-on-one mentoring" before this hissy fit.  Now, revaluations must be made.  The kids are sent to their rooms and there will be NO DINNER!

No, but they're sent away so that the big boys can talk about what to do now.

With the kids gone, Jocasta continues to yell at Hank for not "paying attention."  She tells him that they're dealing with some emotionally traumatized kids who just had to fight in a real war well before they were prepared to handle it.  She has ideas for making everything better and walks off to write it all up.  She's pretty certain Pym won't listen to her but she'll do her job anyway.

With her gone, Luke Cage questions her loyalty, considering Ultron's possible influence.  Hank doesn't think Jo has anything evil in mind.  She's just kind of ticked that these super-heroes are messing in territory that they aren't prepared to handle.  Teaching kids?  Not something any of these guys is really known for.

But one of the Avengers would like to give it a shot.  Hawkeye likes these kids chops and remembers when he used to hassle Captain America in EVERY ISSUE of Avengers (Kooky Quartet period).  He signs up as a teacher.

How are the kids dealing with what they just did?  Accusing everyone else of being a moron.  Well, not really but Hazmat yells at Striker for starting things confrontationally even though it's her boyfriend who ACTUALLY threw the first punch.  After getting sick of listening to everyone, Hazmat drags Mettle into her own quarters.

For some nookie.

Now, Jenny (that's Hazmat's real name) doesn't have a lot of experience with the sex but what she HAS had legitimately freaks her out.  When she was ready to do the deed with her old boyfriend, her powers kicked in and... well... the mood was lost when he started vomiting uncontrollably.  Her second attempt (right now) doesn't go much better.  Mettle is one of the few people in the world who's unaffected by her powers but she is still haunted by that earlier memory and panics before any body part can be penetrated.

Jenny bolts out but makes sure that Mettle knows exactly why she's freaking.  "It's not you, it's me."  This is something that never solves anything.  Especially when you're dealing with a teenager who looks like the Red Skull mashed with the Hulk.  When Hazmat is gone, he just ends up staring at himself in the mirror and probably develops even further self image issues.

Meanwhile, Jocasta heads to the Nerve Center of Palos Verdes.  She's got a plan that will help everyone.  She's been examining everyone to find out what they NEED.  What will help them.  Now, she just has to act.  As she says "It will be difficult.  There will be PAIN.  But at long last, I believe I've found the answer.  I know how to SAVE them."

After that ominous scene, we switch over to the second meeting of the Avengers with the original students of Avengers Academy.  Mettle apologizes for throwing the first punch.  Captain America tries to empathize with him and throws out his own apology to make things square.  Luke, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be a fan of these kids and that may be because of the little crossover he had with them a while back with the Thunderbolts.  Long story short: some of the kids made a play to kill Norman Osborn while visiting the Raft.  It's a lot more complicated than that but that's the publicly known information.  Everything else was only shared between Osborn and the offending kids..

Hawkeye?  Well, he's joining the book as a teacher.  So that is awesome.

While most of the young heroes we saw earlier are going to be part-time, there are two more cast members that are going to be around on a more permanent basis.  It's time to introduce them to the original students.  The first one up is Lightspeed.  If you aren't in the know (and, honestly, I'm NOT), this is Julie Power of Power Pack fame.  While she has been trying to give up the super-hero life, that hasn't really been working out for her.  She's seen how well her older brother, Alex, has been doing with the Future Foundation and is ready to give something like that a try.  At Avengers Academy, she'll be a teacher's assistant.

Oh, she's also been working with Quicksilver which makes Finesse a bit... jealous?  Surprised, at least.

The second new permanent addition is White Tiger.  This is a brand NEW character who is the sister of the original White Tiger.  She's... intense.  Starting things up on the right foot, she greets Reptil by asking why he doesn't help out the Latino community more.  Good times.

After these two are officially accepted by the kids, Hank Pym remembers that Jocasta was supposed to weigh in on the new curriculum or something.  Quicksilver races off to get her but comes back almost immediately.  Something has gone terribly wrong at the Nerve Center.

Everyone gathers there and finds that Jocasta has been murdered!  It looks like she didn't upload to another body, either.  This is... "permanent."

A crowd of students shows up to gawk.  Luke plays crowd control as the other Avengers do what they can to investigate.  Quicksilver has checked the logs and announces that this had to be an inside job because security was shut off from within.  One of them killed Jocasta.

Now, this might be the most spectacular mystery ever but it's pretty easy money on Jocasta being the murderer.  I called it here.  Someone else probably called it earlier.  Either way, mark it down.  "Jocasta killed Jocasta."

While the investigation goes on, something interesting happens in the crowd.  Reptil starts talking to someone who isn't there... like through a radio.  He also seems to be... someone else.  Time travel?  Involved.  Mind travel?  Also involved.  An older version of Reptil has just entered the younger version's body and is here for a particular purpose.  He tells the people on the other end of the "radio" that this is the moment that the future hinges on.

And on the other end of the line?  That would be the future.  Older versions of our kids appear before a mechanical device.  These guys DON'T look like good guys and old Reptil's attitude would seem to confirm that they aren't on the side of law and order (Striker and Reptil are also sporting evil goatees).  Poor young Reptil is stuck in his older form but that doesn't mean he's walking around with the others.  He's in the cylinder behind the older Academy kids and bewildered as hell.


Sub-Mariner #50Sub-Mariner #50
Writer: Bill Everett
Artist: Bill Everett

In this issue:

• Namor returns to the ocean and quickly acclimates.  While swimming around, he spots a body in the water.  Assuming it's a drowning surface person, the Sub-Mariner goes to the rescue.

• When he starts up CPR, the girl wakes up and thinks Namor is trying to make out with her.  She gives him a punch and escapes into the waves.

• The Sub-Mariner heads south and fights a crab monster in his mom's abandoned kingdom.  This place has been "maintained" by another crab creature, named Salamar.  Except it's not really named anything.  This is a mindless creature being directed by Namor's cousin, Prince Byrrah.

• Namorita makes her official introduction.  Namor fights Byrrah.  Llyra shows up to make the sides even.

• Focusing on Llyra and forgetting all about his cousin, Namor brings the battle right to the murderer of his wife, Dorma.  Nita helps.

• Once Llyra is accidentally killed, Namor and Namorita catch up on old times.

• The forgotten Byrrah points a gun at them.

June 1972!  On the stands?  Fantastic Four #123, Avengers #100, Captain America #150, Iron Man #47, Amazing Spider-Man #109 and Daredevil #88.  In the pages of The Sub-Mariner #50, Namor's younger cousin, Namorita, shows up for the first time ever.

But that's not the only thing going down in this 50th issue.  It also marked the full scale return of Namor's creator, Bill Everett, to writing and art duties!  Everett's plotting is a little high minded for my tastes (Namor's back to his "thees and thous" lingo and can pontificate like no one's business) but the art is pretty frickin' awesome.  Historians will note that this issue was published very near his death (February 27, 1973) so his work on the series is somewhat sporadic.  Sometimes he'll give up scripting duties.  Sometimes art duties are shared.  Other times, a whole fill-in team is necessary.  I'm fairly certain that this would all be related to his health problems.  Anyway, we get some brilliant artwork to go with Everett's final run on his own creation and that's pretty special.

To mark the occasion, Everett throws out a lot of earlier plot points as soon as possible.  The Sub-Mariner has been suffering amnesia for the past few issues and over the course of this adventure, that slowly goes away.  Namor's love interest disappears in the first page of the comic and the Avenging Son returns to the ocean on the next page.

At first, he's surprised that he can breath under water but soon he's swimming like it's totally natural to him.  Namor's underwater exploration leads him into a murky bit of the ocean where he finds a body floating listlessly.  He can tell that there are signs of life and does the noble things here: he brings the body to the surface and tries to resuscitate it.

As he brings the body up, we see that it's a blonde girl.  Beautiful.  Young.  Caucasian.  When Namor tries to give her mouth to mouth, the girl wakes up, thinking that the undersea monarch is attempting a more creepy pursuit.  Stealing a kiss?  Whatever.  She's not about it.  After giving the Sub-Mariner a sock to the face, the girl leaps back into the ocean.  For Namor, it just appears that the lady wants to drown and he leaves her to it.

This tale started in the warm waters off the coast of New Orleans but it doesn't stay there long.  Namor's traditional waters are a lot colder and he heads down south to the Antarctic Ocean.  This feels more like home but our hero still hasn't regained enough of his memories to realize where he is or who he's interacting with.

For example, he's attacked by a mindless crab monster.  This is an easy one.  You attack Namor?  Well, then you get beat up.  After this thing is defeated (easily, by the way), Namor does the whole "take me to your leader" bit only to find he didn't need to.  The boss of the crab monsters reveals itself.

This is Salamar, the Sustainer (an even more crab-like creature) and he claims to be the caretaker of Namor's undersea kingdom.  Since the time of his mother's defeat at the hands of the surface people, Salamar has looked after the territory in anticipation of a ruler like the Sub-Mariner... who would obviously be a puppet ruler directed by the crab creature.

Namor doesn't seem particularly bothered at the thought of being a puppet king but it also appears as though he's still gathering information.  Subby is still being affected by that crazy amnesia and probably wants a lay of the land before choosing sides.  For that, Salamar is pretty accomodating.  The crab creature shows the monarch around.

The first stop is the grave of Namor's cousin, Namora.

Not only are Atlanteans assholes, they're also super-creepy.

Ah... Namora.  Obviously only MOSTLY dead.  Namora is back in the land of the living nowadays and fighting with her teammates in the Agents of Atlas... whenever they show up.  She was originally a late Golden Age creation.  For whatever reason, Everett didn't bring her back to life for this book and instead introduced Namora's daughter.

Salamar mentions that the daughter, Namorita (because this family KNOWS how to brand), has been sent on a mission to find Namor for the purposes of marriage.  If she doesn't marry the Sub-Mariner, Namorita is going to be killed and, hey, now that same thing applies to Namor.

To prove he means business, Salamar shows the Avenging Son the oil-covered remains of Namor's cousin, Byrrah.  This is the punishment for refusing to work with the crab creatures to rebuild this ancient Atlantean Kingdom.

Byrrah's already made a name for himself as one of Namor's enemies but with his amnesia still in effect, Namor can feel nothing but pity for the Atlantean noble.  He moves in to get some vengeance on the crab monsters but is zapped by Salamar and caught in the claws of the crab men.

After another failed attack, Salamar imprisons the undersea monarch in a cage of electricity, telling Sub-Mariner to consider his offer carefully.  Instead, Namor tries to find a way to free himself.

His plan?  Treacherous.  He asks to be released, giving Salamar the false belief that Namor has decided to play nice.  After he's out of his cage, the Sub-Mariner proves to be tricksy.  He swims his way out of Salamar's firing range and tackles the crab beast from above.

At this point, the Sub-Mariner has realized that Salamar isn't actually the brains of this operation.  This creature is just another mindless beast.  Tearing the crab monster open, Namor finds a mechanical device that had been controlling the clawed animal and making it seem that it could talk.  Pulling out the wires reveals the Wizard of Oz to the piece as lights begin to flare in a nearby building.

When Namor approaches the dwelling and confronts the mastermind behind all of this, he finds that it is Byrrah.

Confused?

Let me explain.  That body we saw earlier?  Not really Byrrah.  This is just a crazy, convoluted plot to get Namor under his control.  Don't look for a whole lot of sense to it.  Byrrah's obviously working from a different level of sanity.  The noble isn't sure about Namor's presumed amnesia and he doesn't really care.  All he wants is the Sub-Mariner's obedience and he thinks he has just the thing to get that.

Namora's daughter is his prisoner.  Held by the Crab Men is the girl Namor tried to "save" earlier.  Turns out she's his cousin.  Crazy.  When she stirs and sees the Avenging Son before her, all she can think is that this is the pervert she found making out with her when she woke up.

So, y'know, first impressions have been made.

Upon seeing Namorita, Subby starts getting a bit more of his memories back.  He recalls the past when he and Nita's mother used to party together.  Namor even has vague memories of Namora's daughter.

Byrrah is pretty much the worst hostage taker in the world because Namorita isn't being held by anyone anymore.  When she was brought in, the Crab Men were keeping her company but as soon as she meets Namor, Nita swims free without a struggle.  That means there's nothing stopping the Sub-Mariner from pounding the hell out of Byrrah.

Well, nothing except a further villainous reveal!  Byrrah wasn't working alone!  Coming out of the shadows is someone Namor hates more than pretty much anyone else.

Llyra.

Who's Llyra?  Let me run this one down, briefly.  Not too long ago, Namor was actually in love.  This wasn't just the flirtations he's had with women like Sue Richards.  This was the big "L" word.  Dorma.  The two were engaged to be married but before the wedding took place, Dorma was kidnapped by Llyra.

And then the kidnapper had the audacity to disguise herself as Dorma and marry Namor herself.  Obviously, something like that wouldn't be legally binding but we're dealing with a level of madness that would be hard to match.  When Llyra learned that her fake marriage didn't actually count, she returned to Dorma's prison above the water and exposed her Atlantean captive to a lethal dose of air.

For all those reasons and more, Namor hates Llyra.  A lot.  I imagine you would, too.  Seeing someone like her is such an emotional blow that it break through most of Namor's remaining amnesia.  Like a knife.  The Avenging Son is back, baby.

Byrrah is totally forgotten as Namor hits vengeance city on Llyra.  For whatever reason, Namorita joins in this fight on the Sub-Mariner's side.  I'm guessing she knows a good guy when she sees one despite the whole make-out misunderstanding from earlier.  During the struggle, Nita collides with the villainess and knocks Llyra right into an oil spring.

Llyra sinks into the oil and drowns.  This wasn't what Namorita was intending and she nearly loses her lunch at what just happened.  She has no real need.  Even though this looked like a pretty permanent death, we should all know how rare those are in comics.  Llyra would show up again but would never explain how she escaped drowning in the oil spring.

Finally, Namor and his younger cousin have a chance to talk.  Namorita is an emotional wreck after inadvertently killing Llyra but she reveals that the villainess was most likely responsible for her mother's death so maybe it was ok to accidentally kill her?  For Namor, there's no question about it.  Llyra needed to die and he has no regrets about it.  Not after Dorma.

The two cousins swim off to discover what other mysteries this land holds, totally forgetting that they still haven't beaten Byrrah.  It's most likely his gun that now points at the Sub-Mariner and his cousin.


Sub-Mariner #51Sub-Mariner #51
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Artist: Bill Everett

In this issue:

• Byrrah attacks!  Surprising!

• After some fighting, the green prince is teleported to the alien ship of Brother Royale, leader of the Badoon.  The two have a convoluted plan to steal the world's oil supplies.  After giving Byrrah a force-field weapon, Royale teleports the prince back to Earth.

• Namorita tells Namor her secret hidden origin.

• Byrrah attacks once more but before this fight can get going, he's teleported away again.  This time, Brother Royale tells the Atlantean to stop wasting time getting Namor to submit and kill the Sub-Mariner.

• In the meantime, Namor and Namorita act on things Byrrah said during their last encounter and set charges to blow up the South Polar Oil Reserves.  It is these radioactive infected reserves that has mutated the crab monsters to their current form.

• Once preparations are made, Byrrah attacks for a final time.  Not thinking the green-skinned noble has what it takes to kill Namor, Brother Royale sends down three of his own troopers to kill everyone.

• Betrayed and shot, Byrrah orders the crab monsters to attack the Badoon.  The aliens are defeated easily.  Namor and Namorita drag away the unconscious form of their Atlantean enemy.

• Namorita begs Namor not to finish his fight with Byrrah and the villain is set free to nurse his wounds.

OH YEAH.  Prince Byrrah.  It looks like Namor and Namorita aren't able to forget this guy for long.  The green skinned Atlantean fires his space gun at the two, but this is only a warning shot.  Byrrah seems to think that he needs the Avenging Son and Nita alive for his own purposes.

I'm not one hundred percent certain what Byrrah seeks to gain from keeping his cousin alive but whatever it is, he's REALLY not gonna get it.  As soon as Byrrah fires the warning shot, the Avenging Son shoves Namorita's head down so that she doesn't get hit.  The Sub-Mariner whips around and attacks Byrrah.

It turns out that Byrrah isn't actually a push over.  He starts besting Namor pretty quickly.  Nita intervenes, giving the Avenging Son a chance to catch his breath.  Namor doesn't seem that happy about his two cousins fighting.  Byrrah is thinking in terms of kill or be killed while Namorita is just here to save a life.  The Prince separates the two (by grabbing Namorita by the face and pulling-- yes, that just happened) and returns to the fight.

Again, this doesn't actually go straight to a Namor victory.  The two fighters kick around for a while until one fateful lunge takes the Sub-Mariner right through his opponent.  Someone has spirited Prince Byrrah away.  Well, it looks like this fight is over.  With Byrrah gone, Namor and Namorita return to what they were doing before they were reminded of Byrrah's existance.

So where is Byrrah teleported to and by who?  The "where" is outer space and the "who" is Brother Royale.  Royale is the the leader of the Badoon, a reptilian race of aliens with some far-reaching plans to conquer the earth.  They've allied with Byrrah to fulfill their next objective.  This would be stealing the oil from the world and leaving the Earth helpless against their might.  Byrrah knows the location of the South Polar Oil Reserves that are as yet unknown to the world.  That's pretty much all that the prince has to offer and we'll see WHY the Badoon are interested in this in time.

Giving Byrrah a force-field belt, Brother Royale sends the Atlantean back into action.

While the villains are meeting and plotting, Namor is learning his cousin's secret backstory.  Here's how that worked out: inbetween the Golden Age Namor stories and his appearances in the Silver Age Fantastic Four, the Sub-Mariner was missing in action, playing amnesiac hobo on the surface (turns out Namor spends a lot of time with amnesia).  Also during that time, the cities of Atlantis were destroyed in atomic detonations as the United States tested their new arsenal.  While this didn't harm the people, they were left homeless.  Namora, the mother of Namorita, found refuge in Lemuria.  Namorita was a baby at the time so probably doesn't remember this too well.

While it was Llyra (remember her?) who allowed Namora to remain in Lemuria, the two women got into cat fights over a man, Merro.  It was Merro who ruled Lemuria and while Namora was in love, Llyra just wanted the crown.  This was all solved when Namora turned up poisoned.  To death.

We all know who did this.  Namorita knows who did this.  The fact that Merro dies in the same way soon after his marriage to Llyra, giving her the throne, just kind of confirms the obvious.  There's just no conclusive proof and now that Llyra's in charge, the villain is about as safe as can be.  Namorita grows up in Llyra's court and is privy to some special events after this.

For example, Byrrah shows up and strikes up an alliance with the Queen of Lemuria.  They both plot a future where Lemuria and Atlantis are joined together under their joint rule.  Namorita knows how this would have gone down.  Once Atlantis had been conquered, Llyra would have poisoned Prince Byrrah and taken the whole shebang.  As part of their plot, Nita and her mother's body were moved to the ancient homeland of the Atlantean in the Antarctic.  When the time was right, Llyra ordered Namorita to find Namor, which played out last issue... kind of.  If Namorita had refused, the body of Namora would be destroyed.

This is important because Namora isn't REALLY dead.  At the time, Nita is just worried about the desecration of her mother's body.

With the important bits of her backstory and some plot points from the last issue explained, Namor and Namorita swim on through this ancient city.  Finding the throneroom of Emperor Tha-Korr, Namor takes up the worn down throne and does his characteristic brooding maneuver.  Looking on, Namorita feels the tinges of... romance?

Ew.

The mood is thankfully broken by an eruption of oil.

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

That'll suck the life out of any romantic situation.

After capping the geyser of Texas Tea, Namor and Namorita are confronted once more by Prince Byrrah.  With his forcefield, Byrrah owns this fight but kicking the snot out of his cousin isn't the Atlantean's plan.  Instead, he just wants Namor to agree to serve him and help his alien allies steal the world's oil.  That's just not going to happen.  Before this battle can have a proper conclusion, Byrrah is teleported away once more.

It looks like Brother Royale has been watching and doesn't like how things are going.  The Badoon wants the Prince to end this conflict with his cousin and get on with their plan to steal all the oil from the planet.  Byrrah agrees to kill Namor post haste.

Back on Earth, Namorita leads her cousin to the South Polar Oil Reserve.  On the way, they pass a ship that had one day carried a radioactive payload that has now seeped into the hidden oil supply.  Namor believes this would make this oil useless to the surface people and wonders why the Badoon would want to take this as their first target.

Traveling further, the two find that the radioactive oil has had some other concequences.  Remember those crab monsters?  Not natural.  Byrrah found the atomically enhanced creatures and trained them to obey his commands.

Now that he's been shown the source of the oil, Namor means to destroy it all.  Swimming back to the sunken ship, the Sub-Mariner finds that it still has a full complement of TNT.  Explaining that these explosives are water proof to his younger cousin, Namor takes it all with him.  After setting the charges, Namor uses some underwater pipes to cap the oil springs so that the detonation will be focused on destroying the Oil Reserve.

No sooner are they done than Namorita sees Byrrah, watching them from a distance.  The two heroes give chase, right into the Oil Reserve once more.  After some fighting, the green-skinned prince calls in his reinforcements.  That would be the crab monsters.

Up in orbit, Brother Royale (with cheese) watches this final conflict and doesn't like the odds.  Namor has already shown that the crab monsters can't match him in battle.  This will require some personal involvement on the part of the Brotherhood of the Badoon.  Calling in three ace soldiers, protected by force-fields similar to the one that Byrrah was wearing, Brother Royale orders them to kill everything and everyone in the area.

That means an end of the alliance with Prince Byrrah since the Atlantean is ALSO in the Oil Reserve.  Brother Royale doesn't care.  He was leading Byrrah along the entire time, anyway.  This wasn't ACTUALLY a plot to take away the world's oil supply.  This was a plot to steal this PARTICULAR oil reserve.  The radioactive oil would have been perfect nourishment for the Badoon's eggs.  This was always a plan for survival.

Sure, conquest would have been the ULTIMATE goal but right now, survival was looking pretty good.

Byrrah is struck in the first assault but has enough wits about him to order his crab monsters to switch targets and attack his former allies.  The creatures make short work of the aliens but are now unstoppable since Byrrah isn't concious to give them the order to quit attacking.  Namor grabs his rebellious cousin and escapes with some help from Namorita.  Once they're out of the South Polar Oil Reserve, the Sub-Mariner hits the plunger on the detonator device, destroying the Oil Reserve and unwittingly dooming the poor Badoon eggs.  Since the Badoon are pretty much all evil, it's doubtful that the Avenging Son would care.

Brother Royale flies off in his spaceship to plan anew.  In the ocean, Namor prepares to face his cousin who has just woken up after the recent battle.  Byrrah begs for mercy.  He's weakened from the Badoon attack and knows his odds in yet another conflict.  Namorita petitions for leniency and the Crown Prince of Atlantis relents.

As Prince Byrrah swims off, Namorita believes this act of kindness might soften the villain's heart but Namor holds no such hope.  Guys like Byrrah are just born bad.

You probably know most of Namorita's story or at least her more recent history.  It turned out that Nita wasn't ACTUALLY Namora's daughter (biologically speaking) but was really Namora's clone.  She remained a cast member in Namor's book for the foreseeable future and eventually went to college on the surface, even boarding with Namor's former romantic interest, Betty Dean Prentiss.  Because of her close relationship with Betty, Namorita would adopt the lady's last name.

Eventually, Namorita took a more hard line attitude to crime fighting and teamed up with the New Warriors for most of the nineties.  Towards the end of the comic, Namor's cousin would be altered into a blue-skinned Atlantean, redubbed Kymaera.  Depending on the writer, she would shift back and forth from caucasian to blue skin for the rest of her life.  Many times during this period, Namorita ruled Atlantis since Namor was always off doing things and being declared legally dead.

In the lead up to the Super-Human Civil War, Namorita died alongside several other New Warriors while fighting a group of super-villains that were holed up in Stamford, Connecticut.

That would be the end of it but we're talking comics here!  During a reality and time-altering story in the latest Nova series, a Namorita was pulled from the timeline during a period just after the New Warriors were formed.  At the conclusion of this storyline, Richard Rider (Nova) was unwilling to let Nita go and she was pulled out of the time displacement field and right into the modern Marvel Universe.  While long-term consequences to this were implicated, nothing bad has come from this... yet.

For now, the time-displaced Namorita mourns the death of her boyfriend at the end of The Thanos Imperative and lives in relative obscurity.  Comic Limbo!  At least she'll be available when Marvel decides to bring the New Warriors back together.  Again.

Hey.  Guess what?  That's right!  You've finished yet another Super Reads!  I'm so proud.

Until next time:  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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