Today, we check out Avengers: The Initiative #19, The Mighty Avengers #20, Dark Reign: New Nation #1, The Invincible Iron Man #8, and then blast to the past for X-Men #'s 89 & 90 and Uncanny X-Men #370. Still some crazy Skrull action mixed in with some crazy Green Goblin action!
Again, Secret Invasion is over... long live Secret Invasion! The SI books this week equal up to the Dark Reign books. We're still blasting through conclusions and epilogues in our quest to get to the new status quo of the Marvel Universe. Also: no War Machine this week. Looks like that book has been pushed back a couple weeks.
As always, you can easily check up on past articles of Super Reads. Off to your left, you'll see a link titled "Super Reads SI" where you can check out what happened in every issue dealing with Secret Invasion. Looking for a lazier way? You can also check here to catch up or remember back. All 30 past articles are there for you to read and enjoy.
And now... let's put an ending to some Secret Invading...
Avengers: The Initiative #19
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Harvey Tolibao & Bong Dazo
The Skrull's Doomsday Plan: If the Skrulls lose their final battle for earth, they'll make sure that we lose the planet, too. Every Initiative Base is equipped with a tower that connects to the Negative Zone. The Skrulls can use three towers to send a good chunk of the planet into the Negative Zone, destabilizing Earth's orbit and making the planet uninhabitable. The Initiative and Kill Krew is working to quickly destroy these towers by sending their speedsters back to blow up all secured Initiative bases while the rest split up into teams to quicly tackle the remaining six bases.
This comic is a race to the finish and not everyone will survive for the after party.
Back at Camp Hammond (Skrull Central Command), the Skrull Dum-Dum Dugan and his team are tracking the progress of earth's heroes. Dugan is explaining just how the Negative Zone doomsday device was brought about. Back during World War Hulk, Tony Stark entrusted a version of it to Dugan's care. Dugan was to use the device to send Manhattan to the Negative Zone if Hulk's plans were allowed to continue. This all happened in Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #20 and suddenly that issue has more relevance than being the filler issue it first appeared to be. The tech was installed at all the Initiative towers by the Skrull Yellowjacket, Criti Nol.
Upon seeing that the Initiative has split into six groups to take down the six unsecured towers, Dugan commands that their forces focus specifically on 3-D Man since he has the ability to see Skrulls.
We quickly cut to those six unsecured towers to see Tigra, Cloud 9, and Ryder fight a Skrull Razorback in Arkansas... Prima Donna, Hardball, Moonstomp, and Vox fighting the Skrull Frog-Man in Kentucky... The Great Lakes Initiative, Gravity, and Catwalk taking on a Skrull Grasshopper in Wisconsin... while Komodo, Riot, Jennifer Kale, and the Aquarian battle a Skrull Conquistador in Florida.
Jocasta and Dice have worse luck in Washington. It seems that the message of goodwill on the Skrull's part has born fruit as our heroes are blocked from taking action against a Skrull Skyhawk by dirty hippies. The Washington tower is brought online.
In Texas, the Skrull imposter is revealed to be Red Wolf's animal companion, Lobo. The Rangers (Shooting Star, Texas Twister, Phantom Rider, Living Laser, Firebird, and Red Wolf) join with 3-D Man and Ant-Man to beat him down. Unfortunately, once they DO defeat him, they have to face an unruly crowd of Texans. Don't mess with Texas, indeed. To up the fun factor, there are Skrulls in the crowd helping to increase the mayhem. This would be no problem, since 3-D Man could reveal them to be what they are... until he takes a brick to the glasses and loses that power! No other real side effects, though. Delroy's skull is three times as thick as a peak human's.
In Central Park, New York City, we get yet another scene featuring the huge battle between the humans and Skrulls. This time, it's from Crusader's perspective. He's a Skrull himself but he's chosen to fight on the humans' side. He REALLY should have told his companions all of this but so far it hasn't impeded him in any way. Even with Reed Richard's Skrull Detector on the scene, he hasn't been revealed for what he is.
Whiz Kid has just blown up her own headquarters in Philadelphia. She gets a chance to talk it out with Spinner as the two speedsters head to their next targets. Spinner has a dial-a-power deal going on and is unused to super-speed. She's handling it like a champ, though. Next stop: Hawaii!
Back in Texas, 3-D Man is still trying to figure out what to do without his Skrull-seeing glasses. He's contacted the original 3-D Man, Chuck Chandler, at the New Mexico Initiative Base. Chuck tells him that the glasses merely focused the ability. The power was inside him all along! So, Delroy focuses and then starts blasting Skrulls. This freaks out the Texas mob, but only until they find that those hit were Skrulls. At that point, they're the most reasonable mob ever.
3-D Man asks for a pick up from Devil-Slayer but that's gonna be hard since he collapsed last issue (most likely dead). Chuck relates that the Washington tower has been activated and Jocasta has fallen off the grid. Still, 3-D Man gets the idea that he may be able to use the Negative Zone Portals again to teleport... but not yet. We've got more issue to read before that becomes relevant.
Back in Central Park, the day has been won (much like in Secret Invasion #8). The captured humans are spilling out of their prison ship (liberated by Iron Man). You can even see She-Thing if you're looking closely enough. But this moment isn't about retelling the events of SI #8. This moment is all about watching the Skrull Yellowjacket get up and run back to Camp Hammond. Looks like he has super-speed. Heck, everyone has that these days. Crusader watches him leave and grants himself super-speed in order to follow (see what I mean?).
Spinner is on her way to Hawaii when her speed gives out. She's made it to the Initiative Tower, but it's been reoccupied with Skrull soldiers. There's only one thing to do. Spinner sets the explosives and hopes that she's dialed up invulnerability this time around.
She doesn't. Flight.
The explosives go off but don't destroy the tower. One still breathing Skrull activates it before dying. That's two towers up.
This is a good thing for the Skrulls. Dugan supplies that the third tower can be Camp Hammond itself. Which is when Criti Nol, the Skrull Yellowjacket, shows up and tells them all the good news.
The command is given. Doomsday is a step away. Crusader shows up to make sure that step isn't taken. He gives Criti Nol a nice punch to the face. Yellowjacket tries going intangible but Crusader cuts off his power with his Freedom Ring. Crusader's still outnumbered, though. Dugan and his Skrulls take aim only to find that the odds have evened up. 3-D Man has ported in through the Initiative Jump Gates with reinforcements.
Skrulls have weapons galore, though. Dugan throws a gas bomb at Initiative members. It's lethal to humans but ineffective on Skrulls. It quickly takes down Shooting Star. Whiz Kid uses her super speed to contain the gas but is, herself, killed by it. 3-D Man doesn't take it well and the fight is rejoined.
The fight between Criti Nol and Crusader is reaching it's conclusion. It looks like Criti Nol has gained the upperhand. He knocks Crusader out of proximity and is again able to use his powers. He then waits for the gas to affect Crusader like it has the other humans exposed to it.
Crusader, being a Skrull, isn't harmed by the gas at all and quickly rallies. He defeats Criti Nol just as 3-D man takes down Dugan. With their leaders defeated, the remaining Skrulls surrender... granted, surrendering to the Skrull Kill Krew leads to mixed results.
The Initiative heroes go in to congratulate Crusader and he receives their praise graciously before getting shot in the head by 3-D Man. Well, we all knew it was gonna happen eventually. Is that the end, though? Crusader, even after being shot in the head, is only MOSTLY dead. He has enough time to wish for a different ending... and since he's still wearing the Freedom Ring... his body disappears in an explosion of light.
The Mighty Avengers #20
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Lee Weeks, Jim Cheung, & Carlo Pagulayan
Mighty Avengers has taken a side seat on Secret Invasion tie-ins, so this issue is sort of like making up for that deficiency. But first, let's rewrite a little history...
Remember back in Avengers #4 when the Avengers rescued a frozen Captain America and within three panels he was up and running about with the strength to tackle Giant Man, Iron Man and Thor in his rage and remorse? Well, it turns out a lot happened in those intervening panels that... well, they don't exactly fit well into given continuity, okay?
In the "new" continuity, it looks like Cap didn't revive on the Avenger's submarine, aided by the super soldier serum flowing through his veins and eventually leading to the Avengers being turned to stone after leaving the sub by that Asparagus Alien. Now, it looks like they brought him to an unknown medical-type area where Hank Pym is examining a still unconscious Cap. Don't ask me about the Asparagus Alien. Just know that his planet is eventually destroyed by Dark Phoenix whether his first appearance really happened or not. Heck, maybe this is still the submarine and everyone else is JUST off panel. Sometimes I hate retcons...
Anyway, this new scene, besides just interfering with Marvel continuity, is set up to show the love that once existed between Janet van Dyne and Hank Pym. It's also set up to show that Pym's situation is much like Cap's now: he's been displaced in time. Not by fifty years, but a lot's happened in the intervening time and one of those things is that his former lover is dead. The scene ends with Jan promising to wait for Hank if he were ever frozen. Hank promises the same.
We next show up at the planning for Janet's funeral. Hank, Ms. Marvel, and Wonder Man are meeting with Mr. Funeral Guy to plan the details but it's obvious that Janet's death and his lack of knowledge on how it went down has put Hank in a daze. He's still the first to mention the lack of a body... and we all know what that probably means. We're still kept in the moment enough that her eventual resurrection isn't outright mentioned (like Martian Manhunter's funeral was handled in Final Crisis... damn you DC!! Thanks for taking any emotional connection out of J'onn's death). Back to scene: this is all too much for Hank to take. Y'know, even on his best days, he wasn't all that emotionally stable. He and Ms. Marvel take their leave.
On their way to their limo, Hank is innundated by the damn, dirty paparazzi. Along with Spider-Woman, Hank was the face of the Skrulls to the public so he's a hot topic for pretty much every news outlet. Carol Danvers shouts at them all and they get in the limo for some relative peace.
Hank demands that Carol stop treating him with kid gloves and give him the low-down on what's happened in his absence. Carol tells him about House of M and the Decimation of mutant-kind. That's followed by a recounting of the Super-Human Civil War and the formation of the Mighty Avengers team (where Wasp was a member). Captain America's death is retold. Carol goes over the event in World War Hulk. Finally, Hank learns all about the Secret Invasion, his doppleganger's place in it, and the death of Janet Van Dyne.
Hank recalls Jan's declaration of waiting if he were frozen in time. He recalls his last failure at reestablishing his relationship with her before he was abducted. Overcome with emotion, he breaks down and cries.
The day of the funeral soon comes. The audience is filled with mourners. Some, we all recognize. There's the Mighty Avengers team, Fantastic Four members, someone that looks like Charles Xavier and Maria Hill. When it comes time for anyone to stand up and say a few words, Hank Pym rises from his seat and Carol worries about what is to come.
Hank's not really up on chatting through any pleasant memories or inspiring moments he shared with Janet. He's all about placing blame. On Mr. Tony Stark, third row. He blames him for Cap's death. He blames him for Janet's death. Tony sits there and takes it. Finally, when Hank has lost the drive to continue, Thor shows up behind him.
Thor has already played the blame game with Tony (see SI #8!) and speaks words congratulatory to Janet's character. Upon finishing, he flies away with Hank Pym, leaving Tony to sit in silence, blaming himself.
The funeral after party is one of even more fun and excitement. Clint Barton, Carol Danvers, and Bobbi Morse leave the church as Clint makes a comment about Hank's antics and Carol defends him. Clint's got other targets, though. It looks like Norman Osborn is hanging out with Hillary Clinton (Bill's right behind her... and if you're looking closely, you'll see President Elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in a preceding panel). Clint is about to cause a scene just like Hank did but at least he's outside the church with less eyes pointing at him. He accuses Mr. Osborn of being the Green Goblin (yeah, it's publicly known). Osborn asks who the hell he is. Instead of looking confused and trying to remember his current codename (it's Ronan!), he gives his real name and the fact that he's an Avenger. Osborn tells Clint that he's here out of respect for the fallen and tells him to register in the next day or deal with the consequences. Clint doesn't take it well and uses some profanity on his leaving. Carol tries to assert some control and drags Clint away.
Norman and his new evil assistant, Ms. Hand (Hand? Elektra?) watches Tony Stark leave as Maria Hill glares back at the two. Ms. Hand makes a snarky remark that'll probably apply equally to Osborn in a year or so ("How the mighty have fallen"... which considering the title of this comic may have a double meaning) and we end scene.
Finally, we cut to Avengers Tower. Nice view of New York, by the way. Norman Osborn stands alone in front of a large picture of old Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye) as he takes in the view. Everything's going his way... for now.
Dark Reign: New Nation #1
Congratulations! You just bought a preview issue! For $3.99! I'm not saying it isn't a worthwhile preview issue, I'm just saying you'll see most of these self-same pages reprinted in their prospective comics... or maybe these are preview pages that WON'T see release in their prospective comics. We'll find out in time. We've also seen a few of these pages already in Secret Invasion: Dark Reign last week but even those pages are expanded upon. So let's get this party started!
Secret Warriors: Declaration
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis & Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stefano Caselli
During World War II, the Howling Commandos prepare to storm the beaches of Normandy as a shadowed speaker inspires them with a pretty good speech.
Today, a bald headed man sits in a coffee house as TVs replay footage of Norman Osborn being named Director of National Security. Norman promises a full scale investigation into the failures in defense during Secret Invasion. The bald man listens to his waiter (they have waiters in coffee houses?) ask if he'd like a latte or a macchiato. The bald man answer that he'd like coffee and not your prissy, delicious new age beverages.
WWII: Our shadowed speaker is obviously Captain America.
Today: Our bald man is entering a cab as WAY too many people have TVs everywhere. The cashier has one right by his register (the password for the register is "eagleeye") and even the cab has one... sort of like the ones you get for kids so they don't bother you while driving. The bald man demands that the cabby simply drive aimlessly.
WWII: The landing boats hit the beaches of Normandy.
Today: Our bald man listens to Norman continue on his speech about new values and priorities before demanding that the cabby stop.
WWII: Captain America inspires the Howlers to believe that one man can make a difference.
Today: The bald man turns off his image inducer revealing: Nick Fury.
WWII: Cap's inspiring inspirational speach (that's inspirational) ends as he runs up the beach. Sergeant Fury shouts at his commandos to follow him.
Today: Fury's obviously remembering how much better people from the 40's were to people of today (and if there weren't actual super heroes running around the Marvel present, he'd have a stronger case... also, Fury's kind of a shady guy himself). He looks on a large statue of Captain America. Fury talks about how this is Cap's deal. He's a little embarrassed that he's found himself in the situation he's in.
But, as the scene changes, it's better to do something about it than to stand idly by and watch it happen. So, he's got his mission and he's got his soldiers. It's time to change the world.
Agents of Atlas: The Heist
Writer: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Carlo Pagulayan
Fort Knox, Kentucky! It's where the gold is!
It's also on high alert as the soldiers therein prepare for an impending attack by the Agents of Atlas. It seems they sent word that they'd be by later that day to pick up all the gold as it is rightfully theirs anyway.
The alotted time comes and the brass begin to breath easy. Of course, that's about the time Venus shows up and uses her charms on the soldiers. They immediately drop their weapons and follow her. The top brass aren't done yet, though. They call in remote control tanks to avoid a second occurence of their troops surrendering. Atlas's second wave takes on the tanks: Namora and M-11.
Once they break through the outer wall, Bob Grayson activates a hyper magnetic field to disarm the troops inside.
With that business done, Grayson, James Woo, and Gorilla Man lower from their flying saucer. Woo does his best super-villain impersonation. After Gorilla Man shocks the soldiers, Woo explains how little effect stealing all this gold will have on the economy. I mean, it's already in tatters right? One more thing can't hurt too much?
A local General shows up on scene to tell them how stupid their plan is. I mean, they don't have enough space on their saucer to haul all this gold and it'll certainly slow them down. That slowness will simply get them shot down. Or... WILL it? Grayson has altered the atomic structure of the gold to make it float. In this way, it won't slow them up at all and is easily transportable.
Woo and the General argue semantics (is this an act of treason or an act of war?) and the Agents of Atlas are on their way.
Flying away, they intercept a transmission by the big, head honcho and new Director of National Security: Norman Osborn (who will now appear in every book in the same frequency as Iron Man did post-Civil War). Apparently, this bullion was going to be used to fund a weapons system developed in Japan without approval by Congress. So they stole it so it couldn't be used illegally. Two wrongs = right?
Anyway, with the villains in authority, the heroes will have to act the villain. It's time Spider-Man started stealing stuff and killing old uncles!
War Machine: Crossing the Line
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Leonardo Manco
Well, we might not get a full issue of War Machine this week but this is a pretty good consolation.
When we last left War Machine, he had been given an off-the-radar satellite home (also a Transformer) to help deal with the Skrull threat. He was helping to clean up hot spots thoughout the world with the assistance of Suzi Endo. Well, the Invasion is over but Jim Rhodes doesn't look like he's going back to the Initiative.
Anton Aubuisson and Roxxon are having a meeting with leaders from the Anunquit Tribe. They are not willing to let Roxxon build their oil pipeline through their territories. Aubuisson handles the news with slimy grace. He's unable to bribe these men so it leaves him only one slimy option.
Sick his mutated polar bears on them.
Meanwhile, Jim Rhodes has been plugged in too long. He's been uploading info for three days, possibly without any nourishment for his human bits. It looks as if his armor has been upgraded, too. He's readying a mission to attack polar bears. Endo is concerned.
Rhodey tells her it's the difference between being a scientist-turned-super-hero and a soldier-turned-super-hero. No one remind him that it didn't exactly go down that way and that he was a soldier-turned-personal-pilot-turned-super-hero-turned-business-partner-turned-executive-turned-super-hero-turned-salvage-company-owner-turned-executive-again-turned-Sentinel-pilot-turned-super-hero. *gasp*
But I guess a Sentinel pilot is a soldier so TECHNICALLY he's correct.
At any rate, he tells Suzi that this can be her last job and takes off for his assignment. Suzi hangs on anyway and even reprograms his armor so that he is unable to kill humans with it for a twenty-four hour period. She's made Rhodey's job a bit more difficult than it could be.
Rhodey lands to find the Western Anunquit Tribes being slaughtered by mutant polar bears. His sensors show that the polar bears have been bio-enhanced with Ultimo technology and adamantium. They're being controlled by Aubuisson by the use of a Sakaarian Imperial Army Control Staff. He's also being warned by Endo that Aubuisson is a diplomat sanctioned by Canada, the US, and even the Anunquit themselves (though as the issue led off, only a specific group of Anunquit). He is untouchable.
Now, Rhodes and Aubuisson have history. Apparently they were both fighting against the Sin-Congese at the same time and, while Aubuisson's past is not laid out for us all to see, one image shows him surrounded by flames. He burned down villages and it's implied that Rhodey was aware of this but, because he was under orders, didn't do anything about it. So this is time to make ammends for past errors.
Aubuisson is listening in on Endo's conversation with Rhodey. All the better to stand there and gloat like a super villain and blame all the Anunquit's woes on those crazy mutant polar bears.
Instead of trying to fire on Aubuisson in a gesture in futility, Rhodey destroys part of the Roxxon pipeline. Anton Aubuisson continues gloating that this is a minor setback at best before he notices that, not only is part of the pipeline destroyed, his control staff has taken a hit too. The Ultimo powered bears now have a new target.
War Machine heads back to his HQ. He tries to convince Suzi Endo that he was doing the right things for the right reasons but Suzi's taking him up on his previous offer. She's heading home. Apparently, Jim Rhodes is not really that pleasant to be around at the moment.
Skrull Kill Krew: Breakfast in America
Writer: Adam Felber
Penciler: Paulo Siqueira
Have you had enough of secret invading to last a lifetime?
Then this next series is for you!
It all begins with Ryder from the Skrull Kill Krew killing a cow. On death, the cow turns back into it's normal Skrully form (because, more often than not, that's what cows do in the Marvel Universe). The farmer is not happy because he believes that Ryder killed the cow and changed it into an alien to boot. I'll give you a hint: these are NOT smart people. They probably didn't even notice the Secret Invasion happening so less-than-secretly.
The first farmer is joined by one equally as stupid. This is complicated by the fact that the first farmer seems to have stockpiled a LOT of Skrull Cows. They all go on the attack as Ryder tries to mow them down. The two farmers cheer as their prize cows put Ryder down hard. Unfortunately for them, it's not as good as they originally think.
But they're still blissfully unaware of their own impending demise. Luckily, Ryder isn't as down as you'd think he is and he continues to kills Skrull cows until only the leader is left. Boss cow explains that they were "awakened" but incompletely. They weren't able to join the main Skrull force because they were sort of stuck. Before he takes down 'ol Sukey, he is warned that there are a hell of a lot of Skrulls that still need to die.
While the two farmers debate the whys and wherefores involved with having guns for hands, Ryder drives off on his motorcycle... and he's kinda hungry from firing all those bullets from his hands.
New Avengers: The Reunion: Suspicion
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David López
Clint Barton is just happy that his ex-wife, Bobbi Morse, is back alive. Bobbi, though, isn't adjusting that well to having been gone for so long.
They spar with each other as they compare resurrection stories. She never really died. Clint was brought back through magic. Bobbi misses the West Coast Avengers compound... and, when we get glimpses into her worldview, we see that what she sees are alien landscapes with everything layered over in red.
It's disconcerting and she's not sharing that yet. Especially if it means she may be just another Skrull copy of Mockingbird. Turns out Clint doesn't take kindly to anyone impersonating his former wife. Still, he grabbed onto the second chance that it was her pretty damn quickly. I don't even think he blinked. It'd be just like them Skrulls to plant a few imposters among the prisoners just to mess with the heroes some more.
Clint describes the funeral. Bobbi sees green blood on her fingers. She feels like a ghost. Clint obviously wants to renew their relationship as is but it ain't that easy for Mockingbird. When pressed on the subject, she bolts, leaving Clint Barton alone on a rooftop.
Next we see Bobbi, she's analyzing her own blood. She's obviously not wholely convinced she is who she thinks she is. The tests seem to confirm she IS, but then what's up with her red haze vision? She uploads the files and then trashes the Skrull computer. Clint enters with a joke. Bobbi perceives a threat and throws a stave at him. He easily catches it and makes another quip. It's always a quip with you, isn't it, Hawkeye? He finally gets around to asking why the Skrull computer is trashed but Bobbie just feeds him a few lines instead of telling him the truth.
Clint wants her to accept that they are both the real deal. She says that BIOLOGICALLY they are, but that's it. They're different people now, aren't they? Clint's had a few ladies since Mockingbird died. That's gotta be just a little ackward. Plus, what is UP with the red vision and seeing Clint in his Hawkeye suit? Or seeing the WCA Compound? Something isn't right. She needs to get her head straight and it has to be WITHOUT Clint following her around. She hands him her mask and walks out.
Next scene, Mockingbird is leaving the shower. She makes a phone call that sounds like a former SHIELD line. She has information. Want it? Come and get it. Is someone joining HAMMER? Hmmm...
The Invincible Iron Man #8
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
This is not only a crappy day to be Iron Man. It's a crappy day to be Maria Hill, Deputy Director of SHIELD. With SHIELD itself defunct, she finds that she was NOT deemed essential enough to stay on. She tries to leave the premises with dignity and grace but it turns out that a few former SHIELD agents that HAVE been allowed to remain with the new outfit are enjoying every minute of her walk of shame. She finally can't help but make a parting remark before heading out the door.
So, what's the new outfit replacing SHIELD? HAMMER. It's not even that subtle, is it? No clue what it stand for yet but the symbol is fairly Communist in nature. Maybe Osborn is a secret Communist?
Stark isn't fired yet, though. He's still running around in his Extremis Armor trying to help with the clean up. No one is that happy to see him. He shows up at the HAMMER Shipbreaking Facility to help in any way he can. They cold shoulder him, but tell him to do some heavy lifting. This seems to be all Tony is able to do right now anyway, so he happily sets to it. Unfortunately, he is in a much worse way than he imagined. His Extremis abilities are gone, for the most part. He no longer has access to the interface necessary to pilot the suit. He's still version 2.0, but the Extremis connections to the suit are gone.
The strain of lifting debris finally causes the suit to fail. He and his load fall into the ocean. Once he surfaces, he receives the full ire of the HAMMER foreman at the facility. He throws stuff, he threatens to have him arrested, and he tells him to get the hell away from them all. Stark swims away in defeat.
Now, I love Salvador Larroca art for the most part. It's probably why I'm so upset at his version of Tony and Pepper. Tony always looks better with a goatee. ALWAYS. I thought the movie would have proved that point. Besides that, there's a real inconsistancy to the look. Pepper is also inconsistant but spends a lot of time being uglier than she is normally portrayed. Too much upper lip and a bulging nose. But I digress.
Tony meets up with Pepper after his swim. His attitude is much improved. Pepper is mulling over the fact that she's now a cyborg. It seems all of Tony's aquaintances end up being cyborgs, huh? In the first story arc of this book, Pepper ended up being injured and only saved when Tony embedded a Rand repulsomagnet into her chest (very similar in look to the ARC reactor from the Iron Man movie). Stark is ready to give her another upgrade and she's tells him to go ahead. This latest upgrade is putting her on the bleeding edge of technology. She's basically the bionic woman. It's just in time, too, because he won't be able to use the lab facilities for much longer.
Pepper asks if Tony is turning her into his dream girl and Tony plays it off by showing her his current dream girls. Pepper's a lot insulted by this which brings her a quick moment of truth on Stark's part. "Oh, come on, Pepper. You know you were always my dream girl."
The two are too silent to continue for quite a while. Pepper finally changes the subject to his last day on the job. Which leads to a scene change to that very thing.
Norman Osborn does his best Cobra Commander imitation ("Sssstark...") and dismisses Ms. Hand from the room. I still think she's Elektra (possibly the Baroness), but I guess we'll see. Norman doesn't turn around. He keeps staring out the window for the most part. The tension in the room is THICK. Tony keeps his cool much better than Osborn does. That should be obvious. Norman even goes so far as to call Stark a traitor but Tony's able to keep in cool. Osborn makes inquiries about the Superhuman Registration Database. Tony reminds him that it isn't information that he can just access willy-nilly. He needs warrants and probable cause to get into it.
They get into an arguement about calling Norman Osborn "Commander." He's totally going the Cobra Commander route, I'm telling you. At any rate, Stark warns him about over stepping his authority and then takes off before he actually loses his very stylish cool.
We get to see the invasive means that are brought about when you are fired from SHIELD. It's intense. That's spy organizations for you, though. Tony Stark and Maria Hill leave HAMMER Headquarters together.
For our resident futurist, the actual future is now completely uncertain. I think he actually finds that refreshing.
Later, Osborn is still staring out his window at the view. This is apparently the biggest part of his job because it's what we see him doing in every book so far. His staring time is interupted by Ms. Hand. The Superhuman Registration Database is ready to roll. Stark dismisses her and sits down at his computer. Time to break the law!
Spider-Man: No results found. Ms. Marvel: No result found. Ronin, Daredevil, nothing. When he looks through the entire file, all he finds is an entry for Iron Man.
Turns out he's Tony Stark.
And with that, he's activated a virus that screws up every HAMMER computer. Nothing life threatening, just enough to annoy. This actually amuses Norman. It's a game now, so he's ready to play.
In an abandoned facility, Tony Stark, Maria Hill, and Pepper Potts discuss the future. Tony explains how evil Osborn really is. How they actually have a mustache twirling villain in charge of National Security. Hill thinks about that Database with dread. Tony explains that Norman Osborn doesn't have access to it and very soon he'll delete the only copy. He even tells them about his childish prank that he played on the HAMMER computer network. It would only activate when Osborn illegally opened the fake database.
The real problem lies in WHERE the database actually lies. It's in Tony Stark's head... so that means that he could illegally access it at any time... huh. Also, how do you delete your own memories? Finally, when all this comes out? What happens? War. Then, possibly death. Hope you survive the experience!
Next, we've got another Skrull Blast from the Past showing the X-Men travelling through time and revisiting the Death of the Skrull Throneworld. I didn't think we'd return to a Skrull story this week but with the finale to the Secret Invasion story in Avengers: The Initiative dropping, it seemed like we'd need one more to make things right. This is certainly not the last week with a Secret Invasion title in it but the rest are mainly epilogue tales. After this, we'll bring on some bad guys!
Writer: Alan Davis & Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Alan Davis
Nightcrawler is freaking the heck out. After the X-Men's last adventure (really, don't ask or I'll have to use words like "Ejulp" and "Oktid"), the X-Men were transported to what looks a lot like New York City... if New York City had multiple moons. Kurt was sent out to recon the area but, after a short time of that, he got a major case of the jibblies. Knowing that the only cure for the jibblies is running around a dark and scary graveyard, Nightcrawler locates the nearest one and breaths in a sigh of relief. There's nothing more calming than a dark and scary graveyard. The view is a bit messed up, though. Instead of seeing night terrors, Kurt sees alien cities in the distance. One looks like a Shi'ar city. Oh, and there's the long dead Thunderbird. That's sort of freaky, right?
Well, it kind of is. Nightcrawler teleports out in a panic to join Shadowcat on the roof of some building nearly a mile away. He relates the story to Kitty while constantly twitching and looking over his shoulder. Kurt may have a drug addiction he's never mentioned. I'm certain the retcon is in the making as we speak.
Meanwhile, Storm and Logan are preparing to raid a hospital for medical supplies. I'm not judging. When they were in their last adventure (don't make me talk about it!), Marrow got injured and they need to get something to help her heal. While breaking and entering, they get a team-up with your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man... only he's not acting much like himself. He claims to be a villain and offers to help them out on their little villainous venture. Logan and Ororo decline the offer and Spidey's away to commit acts of terrorism.
Back at the X-Men's makeshift base, Gambit is getting more impatient to get on with healing Marrow. It's sort of his fault that she's injured in the first place (plus, the whole "leading the Marauders to the Morlock Tunnels" thing). Xavier is NOT putting the rush on the healing, though.
In another part of New York, the X-Men are battling it out with the Avengers until Vision trips on an invisible Nightcrawler. OK, they haven't worked all the kinks out in replicating Nightcrawler's teleportation and instead he just goes invisible in a flash of light before walking to his "teleport area" and reappearing. Confused? So are Shadowcat and the REAL Nightcrawler. While the two teams debate continuing the fight or rescheduling, Shadowcat uses the time to take the place of THIS team's Kitty Pryde. She rejoins her "teammates" just in time for them to return to their "base."
Granted, they're complaining about not having a real base. They only know about the X-Men from what appears in the papers so they have a lot of holes in their information. She and her "team" enter a room to see various heroes and villains sitting in front of monitors. Maybe our Kitty Pryde just got in over her head...
Nightcrawler returns to Professor X with the fake Kitty Pryde. Xavier has trouble scanning her because she's protected by psi-shields. In fact, all the fake heroes and villains are and it's interfering with his ability to use his powers. Gambit tries to persuade him to continue helping Marrow but Prof X has found a new shiny to play with. Remy decides to take matters into his own hands.
Kitty Pryde walks as calmly as she can through the infiltrator base. Once she's made sure that no one is looking at her, she books through the wall and into relative safety. She quickly finds that she's not alone. Thunderbird, Captain Marvel, and Adam Warlock attack her.
She manages to fend off Thunderbird and escape Captain Marvel but Adam Warlock grabs her with the power of his gemstone.
Wolverine and Storm are returning from the hospital with their medical supplies when they are beset upon by the Human Torch. Storm's counter attack manages to short circuit the fake Torch's power suit and he flies off shouting about the fairness of it all. It looks as though the Torch wasn't patrolling alone as the Thing comes up quickly from behind. He gets a good shot in on Storm before Wolverine takes him off the ledge of the building they had been on.
Our captured Kitty Pryde has to confront her captors. They want to know how she had tracked them. Obviously, she hadn't but they don't believe that answer. The fake Captain Marvel tries to appeal to a kinship between them and her. In short order, she learns that they are dealing with...
Skrulls. Professor X found out too after continuing to psi-scan their own prisoner. Colossus is the first to notice that they are on a moon to the Skrull's Throneworld. Now, you may be wondering to yourself "how can the X-Men team of 1999 be on a moon to a planet that Galactus devoured back in the eighties?"
Well, self, not only were they teleported to the wrong spatial location, they were also transported to the wrong temporal one. They are on a Skrull moon that will soon be no more when Galactus DOES come... and he's on his way right now.
To add complications to matters, Gambit has taken Marrow in order to find a way to heal her.
The Uncanny X-Men #370
Writer: Alan Davis & Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Remy doesn't make it too far before he's involved in an incident with a bunch of Skrull Avengers. He's able to take out Hawkeye and Captain America before the scene opens but that just leaves him facing Thor. Important item: while they LOOK like our heroes and have facsimilated POWERS of our heroes, they DON'T have the experience or talent in the use of those powers yet. That's why this is a training moon. Gambit is able to get some distance between him and the false, false god before taking him down with some kinetically charged cards. After that, it's a simple matter to gather up Marrow and steal the fake Avengers' fake Quinjet and take off for the wild blue, leaving his opponents wondering what the heck that was all about.
Still freaking out (this really seems to be his thing during this arc... I'm almost certain he's suffering from some lack of drugs deal-- just wait for that retcon people!) is Nightcrawler. Wolverine and Storm just barely managed to survive their fight with the fake Thing and Wolverine's taking no chances that he's just encountered a fake Kurt Wagner as a follow up prize. Kurt zips through their recent history, thus proving that he's the real deal, and then updates Logan on what they know. They're in the past on a Skrull moon and the Throneworld it orbits will be eaten by Galactus pretty soon. Got it? Good.
Colossus and Xavier are busy following Gambit and Marrow. They follow a trail to a hospital where Gambit made a nice mess during his battle with the false Avengers. The thief and the Morlock aren't there, though. Also not there, apparently, is everyone else. The hospital looks crowded but it's really not. Everyone in view is actually a solid-light hologram except for one lowly janitor charged with cleaning up the mess caused by Gambit and the Skrull Avengers. The janitor pays them no mind, believing them to be a part of the program even after they are joined by Nightcrawler and Storm.
Xavier believes he has surmised Gambit's destination. He has found that, although the people within are false, the hospital itself is quite real and complete. It has medical supplies and working medical equipment. With that being the case, the medical facilities in a Shi'ar clinic would be far superior. Gambit must be bringing Marrow to the Shi'ar city that Nightcrawler glimpsed earlier. With that sorted for the time being, Professor X makes a note about eventually finding Gambit and Marrow. For now, he's got a people to save from Galactus.
Kitty Pryde is still held captive by doubles of Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock, and Thunderbird. The three are paranoid and with good reason. They break on down what this place is all about. It's a training moon with several sector cities; each city comprising a different people. In those cities, Skrulls are training for eventual infiltration. They've been given artificial powers and have been locked into their infiltration forms to escape obvious detection. Heck, they'd even stay in them on death. The problem is these three are mimicking heroes that are currently dead. They are useless to the Skrulls' plans and are to be terminated on sight. They still believe that Kitty's a Skrull (despite her protests) and, when Xavier starts transmitting warnings about the imminent arrival of Galactus, they believe it to be a clever trap to capture them.
The rest of the Skrulls believe much the reverse. Instead of taking the threat seriously, they believe the afforementioned trio is setting a trap for THEM. Ah Skrulls... their natural state is suspicion and distrust. They track the transmission to the NYC sector and order their local infiltration units to intercept.
Wolverine uses this opportunity to distract his doppleganger and steal the classy brown and orange suit it's wearing. This would have helped him more easily infiltrate the mutant area to find Kitty if only he hadn't been caught on camera doing it.
Gambit has parked his false Quinjet at a Shi'ar spaceport. He finds something akin to a taxi, loads Marrow inside and makes for the nearest clinic.
Meanwhile, the NYC infiltration teams have found their targets and they are mutants. This battle heads in the same direction as Remy's did in the beginning. The X-Men steal the fake FF's Pogo-Plane, Nightcrawler teleports Xavier onto it (Prof X was transmitting his warning to the very last moment), and the team is off. Xavier orders them to make for the highest possible altitude so that he can try sending a warning the Throneworld itself. Unfortunately, their message isn't to arrive. A perimeter patrol craft discovers them and forces them to land back on the training moon.
Gambit has reached the Shi'ar clinic and has, with a small amount of trouble, located a medic. He orders the doctor to heal Marrow.
Wolverine is still looking for Kitty. Unfortunately, he was caught stealing his classy Brown and Orange suit off an imposter Logan. Before finding Shadowcat, he's gonna have to take down a few more dopplegangers.
The Pogo-Plane crashes back on the training moon near the Shi'ar sector. That's good news for the X-Men within since that was where they wanted to go. They believe they have deceived their pursuers into thinking the crash killed them but that's just not how the Skrull mind works. They don't trust anything or anyone. Soon, the team is attacked by the Skrull versions of the Imperial Guard and the Starjammers.
Yeah, colors. I haven't mentioned them but they are not spot on to say the least. Someone could really have benefitted from looking up some copy on what these characters' colors should have actually been. In fact, in the opening scenes of this book, we're given a fleshy colored Beast (instead of his usual blue) and a Scarlet Witch with the wrong hair color. The Imperial Guard and Starjammers are all equally bad. Now, one could say that these poor colors are based on faulty info on the Skrull's part and that would work really well if only the colorist on X-Men had followed Liquid!'s example. As it stands, Gloria Vasquez and Marie Javins actually checked to see what these guys' colors should be so it just stands out all the more. But I digress...
At the Shi'ar Clinic (or reasonable facsimile thereof) Gambit watches his doctor pal carefully set the computers to heal. Unfortunately, the doc is shot in the back by some defending Skrulls. Gambit doesn't know if the healing process was entered successfully or not and he really can't do anything about it except defend Marrow until whatever results happen.
While the rest of the X-Men take on their Shi'ar world attackers, they are able to look in the sky at a little bit of history. Nova (Frankie Raye) is destroying the Skrull Armada that defends Throneworld. Galactus is here. The Skrulls didn't listen and didn't trust. There's no time to lament, though. Xavier has one last, desperate gamble up his sleeves: He's gonna try to confront Galactus personally.
Writer: Alan Davis & Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Alan Davis
Can one man alter history? Xavier is damn sure gonna try. Even as Galactus approaches the Skrull Throneworld, the Skrull command still believes it to be a trick of some sort and continue to focus their attentions on the mutants in their midst. Professor Xavier, though, is not thinking of the threat of Skrulls. He's thinking of their safety. While his students battle the fake Imperial Guard and Starjammers, Professor X projects his mind towards Galactus in one final attempt to save the Skrull people.
His thoughts reach Galactus, but the answer is not going to save the Skrulls. Galactus knows that Xavier is out of his own time and is not destined to die here. Xavier isn't done yet. He projects the feelings of all the Skrulls into the mind of Galactus hoping that he will be moved to mercy.
We'll have to wait to see how ineffectual that move was for later on. For now, Wolverine's got Skrull imposters to deal with. Unfortunately, he's overpowered by numbers. To his advantage, he's not fighting alone for long. It looks like Shadowcat was finally able to reach her former captors. They easily subdue their kin. After everyone's down, Kitty and Logan are able to talk through what's happening. They need to get to the rest of the X-Men. That means getting to the Shi'ar sector. That means transportation is needed. THAT means, they're gonna have to trust some Skrulls.
At the Shi'ar Medical Clinic, Gambit is defending Marrow from Skrulls while she (hopefully) heals in a med-pod. That doesn't exactly play to Remy's strengths. He's fine when he's able to move around and attack at his leisure but to defend a stationary target against incredible numbers means he can't move too far away. He's nearly beaten before he gets some assistance from a healed up Marrow.
Galactus is not moved to mercy. Like pretty much everyone in the universe, the big G knows that the Skrulls are untrustworthy world conquerors that would kill you as soon as look at you. Besides, this is what should be. He's already done this, he'll do it again. Xavier continues trying to persuade Galactus to spare the Skrulls but his pleas fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately, Prof X has overstayed his welcome and doesn't have the strength to return to his body.
Wolverine, Shadowcat, and their three Skrull companions have made it to the space port on this training moon. There's only one ship left and it's being defended by some heavily armed Skrulls. They are mowing down anyone getting near it. "Captain Marvel" reaches one of the attacking defenders in order to yell at him for killing fellow Skrulls. One of the other Skrulls opens fire on them both which causes the power pack on the first attacker to overload and explode.
Marrow is all better now. Better than better, even. Her bone growth is completely under control. She was able to fire small needle-like bones at the Skrulls attacking Remy. Marrow is pretty happy at this development. The two make their way to their teammates.
Xavier is dying but is still more concerned with the Skrulls than his own life. Galactus feels the opposite. Leaving Xavier with the advice that basically what will be will be, he sends Xavier's astral form back to his body.
The explosion in the space port killed lots of Skrulls, including the false Captain Marvel. It injured Adam Warlock. Shadowcat phased herself and Wolverine just in time to avoid getting hurt. The ship appears undamaged. When pressed to come with them, Warlock and Thunderbird refuse. They are now able to rejoin their people if only in death. Before they leave, Warlock implants the ability to operate the Skrull ship into Shadowcat's mind.
Xavier rejoins his body in defeat. At least the battle between his X-Men and the fake Shi'ar is over. Everyone is too wrapped up in watching Throneworld be destroyed. Xavier is too wrapped up in not being able to save the Skrulls. Gambit and Marrow join the party before they are all rescued by Wolverine and Shadowcat. The X-Men fly out as Throneworld and it's moon collapse and die.
Later on, the X-Men still have to deal with getting home and to their proper time. Shadowcat plots a course that will return them to earth just after they had left for their unmentionable adventure in another dimension. While on this journey, they will all be put into suspended animation. Basically, they blink and they are home. It's just done.
Unfortunately, it's not done perfectly. They actually return BEFORE they had left: right in the middle of the Magneto War. They have another chance to set things right and Xavier doesn't have the heart to tell them that they won't be able to change things.
Before they are even able to try, their ship is hit by an electro-magnetic shockwave. Our heroes just aren't having a good day. :( This all leads to more Skrull shenanigans. Maybe we'll have time to tell the story later. If not, it was definitely a fun ride!
And with that, we may say good night to our last Skrull story. Maybe. Next time, we'll certainly be taking the Blast from the Pasts in a different, non-Skrully direction. It just feels good to revisit the Galactus/ Throneworld arc from the X-Men's perspective as a nice swan song to Secret Invasion. We'll be kicking Dark Reign into high gear with our next feature article and if everything works out right (stars aligning, chickens sacrificed) we should catch up and have another article in just a few days' time! Until then, I leave you with a wall 'o Skrulls:
Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?
Posted originally: 2008-12-29 16:36:52