Today, we check out Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1, The Invincible Iron Man #9, Punisher #1 and then blast to the past for Loki's first appearance in Journey Into Mystery # 85. Enjoy and spread the word!
It's that time again. Today, the Inhumans step up to the intergalactic scene, Norman Osborn and HAMMER begin the hunt for Tony Stark, the Punisher gets a nice little beat down, and Loki tricks Thor!
As always, you can easily check up on past articles of Super Reads. If you're reading this on Bludnet, you'll see a link titled "Super Reads SI" on your left where you can check out what happened in every issue dealing with Secret Invasion & Dark Reign. Our syndicated articles might not be so lucky. For you, click here to catch up or remember back on all 33 previous articles. It's a great way to waste an afternoon.
Now, let's hit the ground running!
Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencilers: Paul Pelletier & Bong Dazo
The question you'll want to ask yourself before picking up SI: WoK is: Did I read Secret Invasion: Inhumans? If the answer is "no," then you'll need this paragraph as a primer. OK, nutshell: Black Bolt was kidnapped and replaced by a New Super Skrull who revealed himself before the onset of the Secret Invasion and was defeated by the Illuminati (this is all in New Avengers: Illuminati #5). Tony Stark returned the body to Medusa and Crystal and informed them that the Skrulls were on the verge of an all out attack, hoping to form an alliance with the Inhumans on the Moon. Medusa declined this alliance and returned to her people to tell them the fate of Black Bolt. Not long after she reported to her people, the Skrulls made a play for the Inhuman moon refuge (Attilan). This lead to the Inhuman royal family heading spaceward in an effort to find and rescue Black Bolt from the Skrulls... if he was still alive at all. Turns out he was. The Skrulls planned on using his powers as a weapon and had developed a ship to utilize them. They'd also captured Black Bolt and Medusa's kid, Ahura who was used to provoke Black Bolt into harnessing his powers. The Inhuman Royal Family ended up making an alliance with the Kree (sealed on the promise of Ronan the Accuser's marriage to Crystal) and, using the Kree's databases, they were able to come up with a plan to find and rescue Black Bolt. The mission was successful and Black Bolt was returned to his people. He promised to co-rule with his brother, Maximus, and lead the Inhumans more agressively against their enemies.
Yeah, it's a big nutshell.
If you've glanced in Secret Invasion's direction, it should be readily apparent that the Skrulls did NOT win. They lost. Big time. Their gods were killed in Hercules and their queen was killed in Secret Invasion #8. All in all, not a good day to be a shape changer. The Skrulls are in full retreat from earth and heading through a nebula in order to escape pursuit. It's a gamble because it endangers the Skrull Armada nearly as much as terran retribution would. Still, it's a smart move on the Skrull's part to play it safe at this point.
You may think Grand Commander N'jke Jeeku, the Skrull in charge, is a bit paranoid. That IS the Skrull way. Still, wait a page or two and you'll think he wasn't paranoid ENOUGH. They soon detect... something... behind them. One of the Skrulls shrugs it off as an imaging artifact brought on by the nebula that they're travelling through seeing as the object has no mass. N'jke is not so convinced. The thing seems to be gaining on them. He orders the alert and sets his ship between the anomaly and the remains of his fleet.
The ship fires to no effect. They are destroyed by a huge shockwave blast of sound that somehow passed through a void of space.
Sixteen hours earlier, Crystal is lamenting that her people, the Inhumans, are living on the moon instead of the earth. They're natives of earth but outcasts. 25,000 years ago, the Kree experimented on her people to turn them into infiltrating weapons. They actually mimic other species abilities so that they can enter different civilizations and conquer them from within. They're not unlike the Skrulls, actually. Still, for those 25,000 years, they have turned away from conquest and chosen to live in isolation. That's about to change.
She encounters the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family on the verge of Black Bolt's decision. Maximus, Black Bolt's brother, muses on how long Black Bolt had been taken from them and what he experienced as a prisoner. As he talks to Crystal, Black Bolt's decision is being revealed. He's heading for the Chamber of Devices: a room where many of Maximus' terrible inventions have been locked up. It's time to use said inventions. The time for peace in the Inhuman world is over. They are going to take an active, pre-emptive stance.
Black Bolt heads for a particular piece of machinery. Maximus gets very excited.
Apparently, it was a device made specifically for Black Bolt. We'll have to wait to find out what it does.
Attilan is ordered to transform into space ship mode as Crystal remains unconvinced that this should be her people's destiny. The Inhumans have no ties to anything anymore. They have been isolated too long. Crystal would rather that they rejoin humanity instead of waging intergalactic war. There's always one hippie in every group. She continues to speak along those lines to all who will hear her as the Attilan-ship begins to pursue their enemies.
Maximus asks Black Bolt to speak his order aloud to begin the attack. With the word "now," Attilan's weapon (a huge blast of sonic energy from the looks of it-- this is that device that got Max all excited) is powered up. This is what hits the Skrull ships. This is what destroys their fleet.
One last Skrull Cruiser tries to make a break from the attack and escape. It ends up running into Shi'ar space. Black Bolt gives the order to continue pursuit. Shi'ar craft come to protect their borders but they are met with the same destruction that befalls the Skrull Cruiser.
Crystal and her sister, Medusa, talk after the slaughter. Crystal wishes that they would now turn away from conquest. They've taken vengeance on the Skrulls. Why continue such an aggressive stance? She's a realist, though. She knows that turning back wouldn't be an easy thing and they can never go back to what they once were. Medusa tells her to grow up and get with the frickin' program. Their next stop is Kree Space and Medusa doesn't make it seem as though it'll be to discuss Crystal and Ronan's wedding.
Ronan the Accuser is current Supremor of the Kree. The Kree have faced some terrible threats in their recent history. They were involved in the Annihilation War and followed that up with being specifically targeted by the Phalanx in their conquest. They are a battered people. Ronan has been following the Inhuman's advances against the Skrulls and sees that they are now turning their attention towards the Kree. The Phalanx left pylons in place that will create a shield around Kree space. These are activated. Ronan also tries to contact his ally, King Blastaar, in the Negative Zone. There is no response.
In the Attilan Throne Room, Karnak, The Inhuman Royal Family's strategist who can see weaknesses in all things, discusses their plans to break through the Phalanx shield. The shield has sub-harmonic weaknesses that can be exploited by the Inhuman teleport teams. War against the Kree upsets Crystal but, on the bright side, at least she won't have to marry Ronan the Accuser.
The Inhumans break through the Phalanx shield as easily as they planned. Sonic charges are set at specific locations along the grid by teleport teams. The shield falls as Maximus cheers. Attilan enters the territory around the Kree Throneworld of Hala. The Kree ships are as successful against it as the Skrulls and Shi'ar. Ronan can't help but notice what a beautiful weapon his ancestors created as the Inhumans destroy his defenses.
They are beautiful weapons, at that. Maximus developed a whole lot of weaponry and defenses that make victory even more assured than it already is. This is stuff like echo-skeleton armor and echo-weapons that use vibranium capacitors to store the whispers of Black Bolt and use it for sonic attacks and nice personal shields.
Ronan is ready to make his last stand when the Inhumans hit his throneroom but he is quickly disarmed. Ronan wishes them to end it quickly but the Inhumans have entirely different plans. They charge that the Inhumans and Kree were to share a mutual destiny to create the most powerful empire in the galaxy. The Kree have turned away from that destiny while the Inhumans now embrace it. We start seeing where this is going when Ronan starts talking about how he never wanted to rule (maybe he just didn't want to be ruled by the Supreme Intelligence, then). He just stepped up when no one else would. He only needs to say one phrase to end this conflict.
Looks like the Kree have a king and that man is Black Bolt.
Meanwhile on Chandilar, capital world of the Shi'ar Imperium, the current Majestrix of the Shi'ar, Vulcan, is winning some sort of combat race to the cheers of spectators. Admiral Ka'ardum brings him news that the Inhumans have destroyed three Shi'ar Warbirds on the Shi'ar border as well as the last remnants of the Skrull Armada. The current Shi'ar government is very expansionist in nature. What the Inhumans have given them is a reason to expand... into Kree territory.
That ought to be fun to watch.
The Invincible Iron Man #9
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
So, Tony Stark has the only known copy of the Superhuman Registration files hidden in his brain. Those files couldn't just be accessed by him unless he used a repulsor-powered terminal station to gain access to them so he DIDN'T have that info at his fingertips. It was just stored in his brain matter which was upgraded to perform that function by the Extremis Procedure and also allowed him full interaction with the Iron Man armor.
The plan is to wipe Tony's brain clean of all this information. Unfortunately, this is an all or nothing gambit. You erase the whole brain or you erase none of it. When it's over, Tony Stark will be brain dead.
He's taking it rather well.
Maria Hill is not. She thinks that Tony is overreacting. Norman Osborn is a slimy little greaseball but will he really take it that far? Stark counters that, yes, he will, and there's more rolling around his brain than just the SRA database. So many state secrets are up there that you wouldn't want to put in the hands of the Green Goblin. Maria pulls her firearm and tells him to just kill himself if he's so certain that it would be the right move to make. But killing himself ISN'T the right move. A bullet might NOT kill him and, even dead, Osborn may be able to access the information stored in his brain. Psychics are no good because it's not stored like typical thoughts would be stored. It's like a hard drive. Wiping the data is the only option.
It sucks because he never knew he'd fail this badly. He didn't save the world. He made it worse just because so much of the defense-tech relied on him. Still, even with the brain death thing, he's got a plan. It's all going to work out. He just needs the three of them to have his back.
Maria is NOT up for this. She's not going to assist Stark in suicide just because Osborn may come after him. She tries leaving but the door out is locked. She needs to answer a bunch of questions before she can leave. Stuff like what her SSN is, her SHIELD passkey string, and if she's sober or not. When all that is typed in, the door opens and Stark is given a huge jolt. Hill just entered her part in wiping Stark's brain. With that, she leaves more pissed off than ever.
Someone else who's pretty pissed off? Norman Osborn. Old Brillo-head has bloodied up his hand in his anger at Stark having NOT turned over the SRA database. Ms. Hand shows up to tell him that the Inspection Crew is ready to see him. He cleans himself up and joins Ms. Hand in the hallway. They haven't been able to find the SRA database anywhere on base and they aren't allowed access to Stark Industries without a lot of legal maneuvering. Osborn isn't concerned on that point. I don't think he's all that concerned about legality.
The Inspection Crew is disassembling a room... probably what's left of Stark's in-house workshop but we'll find out for certain in time. Osborn wants everything reassembled as is in Thunderbolts Mountain for later use. A HAMMER Agent runs in to inform Norman that Maria Hill has been located. Osborn orders her taken down HARD.
Maria Hill's apartment is in Georgetown, Washington DC. She hasn't been there for a long time but, since she's now unemployed, plans to spend a lot more time there. She's gone grocery shopping and is about the settle into a new routine only to find that routine at the end of a gun. HAMMER Agents are already on site ready to take her down. She bolts as her groceries explode around her. She's doing a pretty good job at keeping ahead of her pursuers and even manages to take a gun from one of them. The problem is there are WAY more HAMMER agents here than she can deal with. She ultimately surrenders but still gets beat down by her captors.
On the way back to HAMMER base, the order is given to kill Maria Hill. Lucky for her, she's just regained consciousness. She knocks out the HAMMER soldier that was ready to pop her and then attacks the pilot. This causes their craft to plummet into the ocean. Hill escapes with one thing on her mind. Tony Stark. We all wonder if anyone is following her...
Back at Stark's undisclosed location, Tony has convinced Pepper to enter her part of the code for the brain wipe. Tony explains why he thought it best to make it a three person decision. It's mostly because he was drunk for much of the early eighties. It's best to have a second opinion. Possibly a third.
Pepper enters her part of the code and Stark weathers the shock better this time. With that, Tony waits for his brain to stop working. He's given control of Stark Industries to Pepper Potts but he's also ordered the business shut down. With everything that's happened recently, SI is on it's death bed anyway. Pepper asks what Stark is going to do now and Stark doesn't tell her. It's called "plausible deniability." With that, they kiss very ackwardly (Stark must have already forgotten how) and then hug more naturally.
Director Norman Osborn is starting to destroy Tony Stark. He holds a press conference to tell the world that information has come to light that, not only did Tony Stark and Maria Hill KNOW about the Skrull Invasion beforehand, they tried to make a deal with the aliens for earth's safety. Now, we all know that Tony knew about the Skrull Invasion before hand but we also know he worked to try and prevent it. He didn't try working with them. Maria Hill was not in this loop at all and had no knowledge of the Invasion. At any rate, public opinion has been spun and Stark and Hill are now wanted for questioning. If it goes off anything like Hill's experience, "questioning" has a whole new meaning.
If you are an Iron Man geek, you'll also notice that Stark is working on his Retro Armor.
It's the armored suit he wore after the heroes returned from Heroes Reborn. He originally stopped wearing it because the energy lines in the suit weren't insulated enough and we effecting his ability to heal himself. It wasn't isolated to this suit-- every earlier suit suffered the same problem. It seems he's gone back and fixed the problem (or that it just isn't relevant anymore) but, originally, he dealt with this by developing the Sentient Armor. Different suits:
And now you know.
He's interupted by Maria Hill and nearly blasts her head off with a repulsor. She's pretty banged up but completely with the program now.
Back at Stark Industries, Pepper is signing the forms necessary to end the company. Not happy fun times.
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opena
Yeah, I chose the 50/50 variant cover.
The Punisher picked up a Skrull sniper rifle during his bought of Secret Invasion over in Punisher War Journal #25. He's now using that gun to kill Norman Osborn from 4 miles away. We'll also listen to him tell his revisionist history on the founding of our nation along with other subjects throughout the book. It's just your way of knowing that Frank Castle went to public school.
Anyway, that bullet he fired nearly takes off Norman's head except that it is intercepted at the last minute by the Sentry. Lots of people have asked why the Sentry is working for Osborn. He's featuring in the Dark Avengers and saved his life right here. There are two ways to look at this:
1. The Sentry will follow authority and doesn't like people getting their heads blown off. That works to explain a lot of this but, when you look at his snappy banter throughout this issue and the confidence he's showing, it doesn't seem to answer all the questions.
2. This isn't the Sentry, it's the Void. The Void would fit in better with the Dark Avengers and has a more confident attitude. You'll also note that way back in The Mighty Avengers #14, the Sentry went catatonic and went out into space to be alone while the Void took his place to save Lindy Reynolds atop The Sentry's Watchtower during the Secret Invasion. Since that's the last we saw of either of them, I'd say we're set for this to be the Void looking like the Sentry.
Either way, the Punisher is screwed. Within seconds, the Sentry is at Frank's location and waiting to take him down. Frank does the only thing he can think of.
Strategic withdrawal. He runs away.
Sentry lets him go. This is because he wants to talk. That's another check mark in the "Sentry is Void" category as we all know that villains would rather talk than end lives. They just have to gloat.
Punisher tries several ways to slow down the Sentry but that's just about all he can manage to do. Slow him down. People say this is "holding his own" against a man with the power of a million suns but it's more like a cat playing with his food. Frank definitely gets the worst for this confrontation as he takes way more falls than a guy should take and gets his side sliced open.
After some playing, the Sentry has the Punisher cornered. That's when Punisher tries one last trick. He pulls out a detonator and tells the Sentry that there's a bomb in the basement of Bellevue Hospital and that he'll set it off in five seconds. Instead of separating Frank's hand from his body (point for "Sentry is Good") the Sentry falls for this and races off to get the bomb. By the time Sentry flies back the Punisher's last known location, Frank has run away again.
He heads to his Punisher Van. On a monitor, he sees his next tech headed partner that he'll eventually have to kill who tells him to leave the van immediately and listen to his instructions if he wants to live. Good plan. Sentry takes apart his van as soon as Frank's out of sight. Frank hits the subway while struggling to stay conscious. It's a losing battle, but he ends up at the location of his mysterious saviour before passing out from blood loss.
At the end of this issue is "The Punisher Saga" which chronicles his history fighting super villains and tries REALLY hard to avoid the time when he was a super-natural agent of an angel. They can try to disconnect it from continuity but it's still hilarious.
And now, let's learn all about Loki's first appearance:
Journey Into Mystery #85
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby
Newcomers may not realize that Loki isn't normally a girl. Actually, newcomers may be quite confused by Marvel's Loki. He's a bit different than the world's view on the Norse god. Instead of being Odin's Bloodbrother, Loki is instead Odin's adopted son. This makes him Thor's brother and more relevant to the book.
This was the third adventure of Thor and the first appeance of any other Norse gods or mythological elements. They start pretty full blown, though.
Our tale begins in Asgard which is connected to Earth by the rainbow bridge, Bifrost. Loki has already been defeated at this point. He has been trapped inside a tree until someone comes around and cries about it. No one in Asgard gives a damn about Loki, though, so the odds of someone naturally crying over it is very, very low. Loki has been using his time wisely, though. He's used it to gain some control over his tree prison. When Heimdall (the ever vigilant guard of Bifrost) passes by, Loki sends a leaf from the tree and times it to strike his eye. This causes the eye to tear up and, thus, Loki is freed from the tree.
Loki looks for revenge against the one that captured him: Thor. No one's seen Thor in Asgard for a long time (for undisclosed reasons). Loki searches out Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and locates him on Earth. Thor is entertaining sick children at a hospital.
Loki now knows where to head off to and quickly runs down Bifrost to earth.
Knowing that the clothes he wore in Asgard may cause him to be noticed on Earth, he switches up his attire to something more suitable for a man in the 1960's. He quickly heads to the children's hospital where he just missed the god of thunder. Loki has no choice but to cause some sort of disturbance and hope that Thor shows up instead of Spider-Man. He uses his magic to make a few people appear like photographic negatives.
Doctor Don Blake and Nurse Jane Foster are in a crowd that is witness to this transformation. Blake quickly loses himself in the crowd and transforms into his alternate form of Thor. He approaches the scene and uses his hammer to create anti-matter particles which immediately solve the problem Anti-Matter Particles: They're not just for destroying the known universe any more!
Loki has successfully revealed Thor. He approaches his arch-enemy and greets him. Thor, being more Don Blake than Thor at this point, doesn't recognize Loki until he gets rid of his swanky 1960's suit and returns to his Asgard gear. Jane Foster immediately finds Loki to be awesome but it's a fleeting thought (like Xavier being attracted to Jean Grey... sometimes Marvel history is ACKWARD).
As Thor runs over his Norse Mythology, Loki challenges him to battle. Thor has no choice but to accept. They take the air and, because Loki is leading Thor, Thor is hypnotized by the sun's rays reflecting off his hammer as he rises through the sky. That's hard to explain without images, but Loki hypnotizes Thor and that's all you really need to know. Loki orders Thor to give him Mjolnir but Thor cannot obey because of the Will of Odin (Odin's in charge even if you get hypnotized and his Will is that Myolnir belongs to Thor and you can't have it *n'yah*). Loki then orders Thor the throw it away but the hammer returns to him just like it is supposed to. Man, this is harder than Loki thought!
Finally, Loki creates a duplicate Thor and orders the hypnotized Thor to hand the hammer over to the fake. This works. He orders Thor off to free the animals kept in the park as the doppleganger Thor disipates and Mjolnir falls to the ground. Loki's gaze is set to watching in amusement as a bunch of humans try in vain to lift Mjolnir from the ground. In sixty seconds, Thor is replaces by Dr. Donald Blake who is NOT hypnotized. He returns to his hammer and, in a flash of light that blinds any onlookers, becomes Thor once more.
Loki tries to escape on the backs of a flock of pigeons but Thor quickly overtakes him. Loki lands and loses himself in a crowd of New Yorkers. Thor gives chase and they have adventures in a theater and a subway before Loki is able to bring a Mobilgas pegasus to life. After Loki has a tantrum across the skies, Thor is able to knock him from his mount with a well thrown piece of piping. Loki lands in the Atlantic where his magic powers are useless. Thor can't leave him to die in a Silver Age comic and comes to his rescue.
Before Loki can dry off and regain his powers, Thor takes him to the top of the Empire State Building, ties him to his hammer, and hurls him back to Asgard where the rest of the Norse gods (including Odin) marvel at Thor's triumph. Mjolnir returns to Thor before his minute is up (which would have caused him to revert to his Donald Blake form). Later, Blake has found Jane Foster and the two continue their walk as Jane remarks on the wonder of two gods battling it out in New York City.
And that is the tale of the Loki's first appearance and face-off against the Thor. And we're done for now. Join us next time for some Deadpool action and a run down on War of Kings.
Until then: Who Do YOU Trust?
Posted originally: 2009-01-17 09:25:56