Today, we check out The New Avengers #49, Avengers: The Initiative #21, Ms. Marvel #35, and then blast to the past for Amazing Spider-Man #17. Enjoy and spread the word!
This is a small week RIGHT before another HUGE week. Yes. Next week: ALLCAPS! But this week: Norman gets cheated, The Initiative join an event four years too late, Carol gets ready to "graciously" hand over her title, and Betty Brant does her obsessive girlfriend thing.
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, and War of Kings (because I obviously have an addiction). Our syndicated articles might not be so lucky. For you, click here to catch up or remember back on all 36 previous articles. It's perfect for all your reading needs.
And it's on.
The New Avengers #49
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Billy Tan
Last issue, Luke Cage sold his soul to the Goblin in order to find and rescue his daughter from a vicious Skrull pretending to be a butler somewhere in New York City. Will it be worth it? Let's find out.
Our story begins when Norman, Cage, a decidedly Black Spider-Man looking Venom, and Bullseye empty out of a helicopter onto the Raft. The Raft is Ryker's Maximum-Maximum Security Installation and it's being used by HAMMER to hold any captured Skrulls that aren't being fed to Venom in Dark Avengers. Skrulls aren't a talkative lot. They might not know the language or maybe they just don't like mammals that much.
However, you get a lot of information when you put two in a room together and have one watch Venom eat the other one. The Skrulls don't know exactly where Jarvis-Skrull is or WHO Jarvis-Skrull is but they are aware of a place Skrulls would head to to get off planet. It's the safehouse we got a view of in New Avengers #45. It may have been the scene for other Skrull meetings we've seen throughout the books but the page specifically references NA #45.
It's only a matter of time before Jarvis-Skrull shows up there and, luckily, he still has baby Danielle Cage with him. He meets a very angry but controlled Luke Cage at the site. After some failed attempts at bartering the passage for his fellow Skrulls' safe release, he is able to bargain for his own life. Cage takes the unmoving wrap of blankets from Jarvis-Skrull's hands and finds a peacefully sleeping baby inside who wakes and smiles when she sees him. It's actually a pretty cool moment and Danielle doesn't even look like a creepy baby anymore.
Bullseye ends up killing the Skrull butler with a sniper rifle after the exchange has been made. Cage may have promised not to kill Jarvis but no one else made the same deal.
The next day at Avengers Tower, Jessica Jones is overjoyed to have her kid back. Osborn says the baby has been checked out by a SHIELD doctor (probably right before he collected his last paycheck) and is healthy but stinky. Jessica makes sure that she's not being forced onto the Dark Avengers team before she, Luke, and their baby head to their apartment. When they are there, they waste only moments on congratulations and then work on what to do next. Luke basically signed on with Norman for his baby's safe return. He makes a speech about doing what's right for his child. With that, he tells Jess to make her phone call and he heads back upstairs to talk to his new boss.
Norman is talking to Ms. Hand about D-Man. Apparently, D-Man wants to meet. Norman isn't amused. Bullseye is chomping down on his bowl of Cheerios and everyone hopes that Venom has already eaten. Cage shows them both the really cool crowbar he got from The Wrecker after New Avengers #8. He gives them a REAL GOOD LOOK. Bullseye just gets a throat punch but Venom gets a crowbar straight to the face. Now it's all on Norman Osborn and his Deputy Director.
Osborn watches as Ms. Marvel flies escort for Jessica Jones and her daughter's escape. While he's claiming Luke is a liar and a man of dishonor, Luke is telling him just why he would never join a murdering piece of scum like him. Still, he helped him rescue his daughter, so he gets to keep his head. With that business finished up, Luke uses the crowbar to smash through a window (which Secret Invasion Frontline has shown us to be VERY strong stuff) and then jumps out of it to ground floor.
Norman's probably not going to let that slide.
When everyone shows up at Cap's place, they all get used to the idea of having Danielle back. You'll also notice that Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, is still hanging out even though he quit the team last issue. Most important bits in this scene are Cage talking about father stuff with Logan (on why Cage didn't kill Osborn), and James Barnes actually processing the fact that he's going to have a baby at his place all the time now (which will probably cut down on his macking time with Black Widow... why isn't she on this team, again? Too many members?).
Clint Barton is actually paying attention to the nice HDTV that covers most of one wall. Its picture quality has those lines on it that you wouldn't think you'd get from a high quality HDTV but that's not why Barton is so pissed off. They're showing the debut of the Dark Avengers team. It's basically Norman making a mockery of the Avengers good name by using brand names with his own players underneath. It gets the current Ronin ticked off.
Clint decides that, instead of waiting for the Dark Avengers to pull whatever evil deed they have planned, they should just take them down. They're the real Avengers (unless it's the Mighty team... it could be them, too) and it's time to show these fakes what's what.
Are you ready for next issue's all out Dark Avengers rumble? I am too. :)
Avengers: The Initiative #21
Writers: Christos N. Gage
Artist: Humberto Ramos
This issue begins with the Initiative Senior Staff clearly defying military protocal by giving control of the Initiative to Gauntlet. He's a Staff Sergeant. I'm pretty sure Hellcat, Tigra, Stingray, and Gargoyle don't have actual military ranks but I'll also bet money that they have some sort of equivalent system. Basically, everyone else bails out for various reasons and gives Gauntlet authority. He doesn't like it one bit (probably because he would also recognize that it goes against military protocal) but he is better than the alternative.
The alternative would be Baron Von Blitzschlag. He's most likely the highest ranking official still at Camp Hammond but he's also a Nazi. You don't usually give Nazis control of things unless you want whole groups of people wiped out of existence or space travel. Even then, I wouldn't recommend it.
Blitzschlag is just waking up from his nappy time to discover that Criti Nol, the Skrull that replaced Hank Pym the entire time that Camp Hammond was up and running, left him a little failsafe to deal with. That failsafe goes by the name of Ragnarok... or if you're on the internet, Clor. Raggy was the super robot clone thing put together by Reed Richards and Criti Nol using hair samples from Thor obtained by Tony Stark. In his first outing, Ragnarok ended up killing Bill Foster in one of the Civil War skirmishes. He was never that stable and he's not about to start now.
The Shadow Initiative is on it's way to Madripoor. Taskmaster is talking to Mutant Zero about the secret fact that she's actually Typhoid Mary only to learn that it's not so secret. The Shadow Initiative team found up back during Secret Invasion when they were trying to free the camp from Skrull control. She's pretty open about showing her ID to Komodo. Komodo's not part of Shadow Initiative but is along on this mission as a deal for her knowledge on their intended target: her ex-boyfriend, ex-Initiative, Hydra cell leader: Hardball.
We get a little more reveal as to why Typhoid Mary is hanging out with the good guys. It's basically a deal to join all the disparate aspects of her personality so that she can live a more normal life. It has it's good days and bad days. With that, the Shadow Initiative makes their paradrop onto Madripoor. They'll probably show up again next issue.
Back at Camp Hammond, Diamondback is handing out diplomas as work assignments to the latest graduates. Guys like Prodigy and Sunstreak actually got held back, though. They aren't too happy about that. Prodigy storms off... mostly likely to get rip roaring drunk. In the barracks, Batwing (who just graduated to the Shadow Initiative) is surprised to learn that Gorilla Girl is getting out. She asked to be put in the reserves and that request was granted. She's heading home before she becomes a statistic.
Blitzy is trying to tell Ragnarok that he's not actually Thor. He was made. In a lab. Ragnarok will have none of it. After forcibly retreiving his hammer, he makes to leave to do his own will. That's not really in the plans for the Initiative, so Baron Blitzschlag uses his shutdown codes... to no effect. Well, it really makes Ragnarok mad, so that's something, I guess.
In the Admin. Building, Ultra Girl is being told to get out of Ms. Marvel's clothes right now and that's not a come-on line. Since Ms. Marvel's costume and codename rights are owned by the Avengers (for charity reasons), Norman Osborn has the rights to the look. He's got his own Ms. Marvel showing up in Dark Avengers and three Ms. Marvels is obviously confusing. In the same conversation, it's revealed that Counter Force (Justice's group... basically the New Warriors) is now a wanted group. Yeah, Tony let them go about their business but it's a new day with a new boss. It's Osborn's way or no way.
Trauma is seeing Thor Girl. It's not a date. She's one of the recently returned heroes from the Skrull Invasion and has come to Trauma for therapy because it makes Trauma incredibly uncomfortable. The Skrull version of Thor Girl had a thing for Trauma. Before this scene gets TOO awkward, Thor Girl is thrown into battle with Ragnarok.
Seriously. The teeth just keep getting bigger from this point on.
It's not mentioned whether Blitzschlag survived his encounter with Rags or not but, given his energy powers and his ability to have survived everything up to this point, and off screen death just wouldn't become our resident Nazi.
The battle between Thor-looking people is intense but Ragnarok soon overpowers his opponent. Before he can deliver a killing blow, Gauntlet and the rest of the Senior Staff (whether they announced leaving or not) show up to even the odds. They don't stay long. Trauma sends them off to clear the civilians from the area as he becomes what Ragnarok most fears. Another fake Thor.
Actually, he looks like the current Thor. This is probably as close as we'll get to a Ragnarok/Thor diety-off, so enjoy it! Trauma has Raggy on the ropes for a moment or two until our clone-robot-thingie realizes that he's facing a Thor that can't throw his hammer because it's a part of him. That means it probably isn't the real Thor at all and is just another trick! With that, Ragnarok beats Trauma down hard.
Gorilla Girl was on her way out when this battle started but, when she saw the lighting, she realized that she just couldn't leave the base yet. She's making her way back in when the battle actually comes her way. She defends Trauma's body from a killing blow before being outclassed by Ragnarok herself.
She'll need her own saviors now. Looks like Counter Force (with Night Thrasher) to the rescue!
Ms. Marvel #35
Writers: Brian Reed
Penciler: Patrick Olliffe
Our issue opens in the past as the REAL Captain Marvel rescues a space shuttle and puts it down on I95 with a little help from Ms. Marvel. It's supposed to show that Captain Marvel isn't just a super hero. He's... a god? An ideal?
Well, to the Church of Hala, he's obviously a god or, at least, an inspirational standard to worship in some way while wearing red and blue robes with a star symbol on them. Now, with Noh-Varr taking up the name of Captain Marvel, there are some cult members that just don't know what to do. This is so different than when Monica Rambeau or Genis-Vell were using the name!
In Maryland, Michael Rossi is giving Carol a run-down on her new identity. Her new name is Catherine Donovan and she's a magazine writer with an extensive background. This is all going down as Rick Mason sifts through all the information that Carol got on Osborn from the Essential. It's every bit of info you'd ever want but it's not listed in any real categorical way. It'll require some structure before they can make sense of it.
What they're currently looking for is information on something called "The Ascension." Osborn found it and gave it to a dude named Ghazi Rashid so that Rashid could attack Ms. Marvel after she quit the Avengers team. Ascension was never perfected but it was supposed to create super powers. It usually killed. Sometimes, it made people crazy.
While our cast is musing about this, they all learn about the mass suicide of the Church of Hala, Charleston Branch. Carol's too connected to the Marvel legacy to just let that go. She also sees Noh-Varr in a crowd shot on the television. She runs to the scene.
On TV, audio footage is played from the meeting that indicates that the cult killed themselves because they felt abandoned by the real Captain Marvel and believed that the new one was totally evil. They had also joined a cult. Y'know, there's not really a need to find a reason why crazy people kill themselves. They real question to ask is why are crazy people so crazy?
Carol makes it to the site and decides she needs to actually see the crime scene. Since she can't run around as Ms. Marvel, she instead flirts with a police officer until he lets her walk in.
Carol doesn't stay long. The sight is too disturbing. She runs out and hides in an alley to recover. That's when she sees Noh-Varr. The two have an unhealthy exchange as Carol loses it and smacks the kid up for daring to utter the name "Mar-Vell." This leads to Noh-Varr choking her and revealing that Norman Osborn doesn't know he's here. Carol goes in for another punch only to be blocked and subdued again.
Noh-Varr then tells Carol about the death of the fake Captain Marvel. He tells her that the Skrull Marvel died in his arms after taking out a Skrull cruiser and begging Noh-Varr to protect the earth. He then leaves after telling her that he never attacked her once but that she tried to twice. Apparently, choking isn't an attack for a Kree.
Carol returns to the rest of the cast to find that Mason has found how Osborn delivered the Ascension to Rashid.
We then join Rashid and one of his acquaintences in Pakistan. Rashid's trying to convince his... friend... to work with him. His friend will have none of it. So what if Norman Osborn handed him Ascension? There's too much to risk just to bring down Ms. Marvel in some petty vengeance scheme. Disappointed in getting no support, Rashid opens his briefcase and the area explodes.
Rashid walks away unharmed. Sure, he'll probably need to buy some new clothes but otherwise he's untouched.
The Amazing Spider-Man #17
Writers: Stan Lee
Penciler: Steve Ditko
A couple issues ago, Spider-Man faced his most challenging foes yet. Movie executives.
But he apparently thinks the challenge was fighting the Green Goblin. He probably forgot that he also fought the Enforcers and, more importantly, the Hulk on the same day. Still, his thoughts are set on the Green Goblin because that's what this issue is about. I guess I can allow Peter to have some idle thoughts... this time.
While Peter is thinking about the Green Goblin, the Goblin is also thinking about Peter or at least his alter-ego. Gobby's come up with a bunch of new tricks including a much less phalic ride: the Goblin Glider. That thing'll kill him one day, but it won't be permanent. After testing out his new equipment, Green Goblin changes to his secret identity and goes for a walk.
Back at Midtown High, Flash is meeting with all the cool kids to tell them he's forming a Spider-Man Fan Club. Everyone seems pretty into it which is fascinating to Peter Parker. Granted, Flash and Peter aren't anything like friends so his joining isn't even really an option. This ticks off Liz Allen, who has a thing for geeks, and she makes plans to get Peter into the club whether Flash wants him there or not.
Continuing Spidey's luck with the movie crowd, Peter mistakes some on location movie filming for an actual crime and scrubs a few hour's work for the film crew by trying to capture the "criminals." This, of course, helps his public image immensely. J. Jonah Jameson is laughing about it when Peter gets to the Bugle. He's gonna milk the incident for all it's worth in his famous editorials and is in great spirits. Peter's not there for work this time, just there to pick up Betty Brant, so he doesn't have to put up with J.J.J. for very long.
While walking Betty home, Peter encounters Flash and Liz. He tries his best to avoid them because Betty is an OBSESSIVE GIRLFRIEND with self-esteem issues. Seriously. Peter could give her the world and she'd fret about him possibly liking Liz Allen. Anyway, Liz's father has been roped into the Fan Club and is allowing the club to use the Avenue Diner Club for the meetings. They've even put out an ad in the paper to draw Spider-Man himself to the first meeting. Liz uses her time wisely and makes sure to invite Peter to attend while also getting a few insults in on Betty Brant.
Peter Parker's Spider Sense picks up Green Goblin walking in the rush of people around them but, since he's never seen Gobby in civilian ID, he doesn't actually know what the warning is for. It's enough to unnerve him, though. He continues to walk Betty home but, because he plans to attend the Spidey Fan Club meeting as Spider-Man, doesn't invite Betty to the meeting. Betty will spend the night crying about it in typical Betty Brant fashion.
Peter spends some time hopelessly searching for whatever set off his Spider Sense. Just as he's given up searching and changed back into his civies, he witnesses the Human Torch capturing a mugger. The mugger is also the last person Peter saw before giving up his search. He hangs around the scene as Johnny Storm signs autographs and takes in his adoring fans. He even gets an unwanted autograph for himself and immediately tries trading it off to a kid. Later that night, Peter frames it and puts it above his best but that scene was cut for space.
The next day, Jameson reads his own paper to find that someone has placed an ad for the Spidey Fan Club in it. He's intrigued. Apparently, having a Forest Hills fan club could lead to a level of popularity only achieved by the Beatles and J.J.J. is determined to somehow quell this mania before it actually starts. He tells Betty to call Peter up so that he'll have a photographer on the scene. Betty calls but she waits until she knows Peter's out... and Betty is probably obsessed enough to have charts on her wall detailing Peter's entire day plan.
At Peter's home, Aunt May is trying to hook Peter up with Mary Jane Watson. While our hero protests that he's got a girlfriend who would just freak if she knew that there was yet another girl to add to the equation, May obviously wants Peter to start swinging and attend key parties. That's what young people do, right? Anyway, M.J. has a bad cold so there won't be any swinging tonight. Peter runs off before May gets him into more trouble with Betty Brant.
In the Grand Ballroom of the Avenue Club, Flash is thanking Liz's father (calling him Mr. Brant... gonna assume that was a mental lapse) for use of the club. It's going to be quite the evening. Spidey's gonna show up... and so is a certain Goblin...
There's quite a turnout for the first meeting. Johnny Storm even shows up with a date. He's promised to not upstage Spider-Man but we'll see how long he can actually keep that promise. JJJ is angry that Peter hasn't shown up but that's just going according to Betty desperate plan to not have Peter Parker and Liz Allen in the same room together unless it's a classroom. They may just spontaneously start making out! Betty knows what's what.
If Spidey can do one thing, he can play a room. Since his first act with powers was to try to become a professional wrestler, it's probably effected his showmanship. Even when Gobby breaks Spidey's web with an exploding frog, Peter's excellent agility makes it look like it's all part of the act. When the fight properly starts, Spidey is able to play the whole thing like it's just part of the show for quite a while. Only Johnny Storm sees that this fight is serious business but he's made a promise not to flame on and he's trying really hard to keep it.
This fight gives us our first Pumpkin Bombs, too. Green Goblin's still firing sparkles from his fingertips but we're starting to see the classic villain emerge.
During the fight, Spidey hears Liz idly mention that Peter Parker never seems to be around when Spider-Man shows up. She makes her own excuse up in her head about him possibly being in the crowded room somewhere where she can't see him but Peter immediately tries to think of a way that he can skip out on the fight for a few moments to make a civilian appearance.
While Spider-Man tries to set Goblin up for a temporary retreat, Johnny Storm notices really stupid criminals trying to rob the place right outside one of the vaulted windows. They've even got their guns out because that will certainly help them rob the cashier's safe. Johnny finally flames on and scares off the criminals before joining the fight against Green Goblin.
Peter uses this time to quickly switch identities and make an appearance in front of Liz. His hair's all messed up, so Liz works on straightening it out just as Betty Brant gets a look at both of them together. Still, there's no time for spontaneous make out sessions. Peter's got to get back to that super villain battle.
By the time Spider-Man rejoins the fight, the crowd has started to figure out that this might actually be real. Torch is probably less of a showman than Peter is. Still, this is wrap-up time. Spider-Man is nearly ready to finish Green Goblin off when he overhears a telephone conversation that changes everything. Turns out that Aunt May had another heart attack and is calling for Peter at the hospital.
There's really no thinking about this. Spider-Man leaves the fight and rushes across town to be by his Aunt's side.
Torch is left to finish up the battle but, by this point, Green Goblin's heart isn't in it anymore. He's got a specific crazy grudge against Spider-Man, not Johnny Storm. He basically gets bored and escapes.
No one wants to be in the Spider-Man Fan Club after that appearance. Spidey is left with only one dedicated fan: Flash Thompson. Betty is left in tears because of the obsessive girlfriend thing. Johnny is left wondering why Spider-Man would just bail on him like that. J. Jonah Jameson is left with so many happy thoughts. Seeing Spidey run away like that is like Christmas for Jameson. Aunt May is left in the hospital. She keeps trying to escape but those constant heart attacks keep bringing her back in.
That's that for today. We've got another big article coming up, so keep your eyes peeled!
Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?
Posted originally: 2009-02-11 17:35:23