It's time for intergalactic war to begin! It's also time that bringing on the villains CONTINUES!
Today, we check out War of Kings #1, New Avengers: The Reunion #1, Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1, Secret Warriors #2, Agents of Atlas #2, Black Panther #2, Deadpool #8, and then blast to the past for Marvel Comics #1. Enjoy and spread the word!
The War of Kings is taking front and center position. Be ready for awesome. B)
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 40 previous articles. It's perfect for all your reading needs.
And interstellar war in three... two... one!
War of Kings #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
This issue takes place AFTER X-Men: Kingbreaker #4. This is important to know because Kingbreaker's final issue hasn't hit shelves yet. What it spoils from Kingbreaker is pretty much what we all knew would happen: The Starjammers escape from Kr'kn relatively intact. I say "relatively" because there's a missing space pirate. If you're paying attention, you'll remember that Kingbreaker #3 ended with Raza being infected by the Symbiote member of the Dark Imperial Guard after killing it's host. I don't know if he's living or dead but he's certainly not aboard the Starjammer ship. It's a shame. He's a cool character and one of two remaining of the original 'Jammers. We're down to Ch'od, now. Hepzibah is on earth.
The Starjammers are running like mad trying to make it to Kree-space while being pursued by the Shi'ar superdestroyer, Divine Principles of Immolation. Kree-space is protected by a Phalanx created shield. This is good because, if the Starjammers are allowed inside, they will be safe from pursuit. It's bad because, if the Starjammers are NOT allowed inside, the speed their craft is going will cause it to smash against the shield and be destroyed. Havok's requests for entry are being ignored but there's another Starjammer that may be able to persuade the Kree to open up their shields.
Polaris. She's the daughter of Magneto and that makes her the sister of Quicksilver, making her the sister-in-law to the Inhuman, Crystal, who just so happens to be marrying Ronan the Accuser in order to cement the rule of the Inhuman ruler, Black Bolt, over the Kree. Polaris requests admitance in order to attend the wedding and the Kree Frontier Guard open the shield just wide enough to permit the entry of the Starjammer craft. That's good news for the Starjammers but bad news for the Divine Principles of Immolation. The craft is much larger than the space pirates ship and smashes against the shield.
Narrating this entire affair is Crystal and we cut ahead to her preparations for the upcoming wedding. She's being attended by several Inhuman (or possibly alien) youth as they get her bridal gown in order. It's not white. She's got a kid, Luna, from her marriage to Quicksilver. No, this dress is in her own colors and has the same patterns that grace her normal clothes. Polaris and Luna are also in the room
It should be noted that Polaris was never very close the Pietro, Crystal's exhusband and Lorna's brother. In fact, when the two were both on the government sponsored team, X-Factor, they were unaware that they we siblings. Polaris hasn't been shown to be any closer to Crystal but here she is, playing with her niece and acting like the two have been on good terms for years. Maybe those scenes were behind the scenes and never made it into the comics. They could be best friends that played raquet ball on the weekends. Polaris keeps questioning Crystal on her intentions to marry Ronan the Accuser. I mean, seriously? Who marries Ronan the Accuser?
Crystal does. Their marriage is political in nature. She's royalty and it's a way of combining houses and legitimizing Black Bolt's rule over the Kree. No one's under any illusions that this marriage is anything other than political.
Well, except maybe Ronan. He's been hanging out in the garden outside Crystal's quarters picking flowers for her. He over hears Crystal's speech about how their marriage is only political maneuvering and, even though they have never really courted one another, Ronan throws down his boquet of flowers and leaves. He probably goes off to listen to some emo rock or whatever the Kree equivalent would be.
But we've got bigger political matters to deal with than the marriage of a Kree to an Inhuman. One of the Starjammers is Lilandra, former Majestrix to the Shi'ar Empire and is currently an outcast, social pariah, and wanted dead or alive by the Shi'ar Imperium. She's begging the ruler of the Kree, Black Bolt, for asylum. This would put them in direct opposition to the Shi'ar but Lilandra points out that that's probably going to happen anyway. The Shi'ar, ruled by Vulcan, will make a play for the Kree Empire. In fact, they've already got a reason. In Secret Invasion: War of Kings, Black Bolt destroyed a group of Shi'ar warships in his pursuit of the remaining Skrull invasion fleet that was trying to escape from earth. Vulcan's already got his eyes on the Empire. It's only a matter of time.
In the Shi'ar Flagship, Hammer II, the emperor of the Shi'ar, Vulcan, is inspecting his Imperial Guard with the Guard's captain, Gladiator. Vulcan is the youngest brother in the Summers clan. Cyclops and Havok are his more sane siblings. Vulcan killed his own father, Corsair. Now, he's ruling the Shi'ar Empire into war against pretty much everyone. He's winning, so the Shi'ar love him. Vulcan quickly gets bored of troop inspection and asks if everything is ready for their invasion. It sure is. Vulcan is going to give the Kree a wedding present they won't believe.
Gladiator is our other narrator to this issue and he's uneasy in his role of unquestionably serving the ruler of the Shi'ar. He's served D'Ken, Lilandra, Deathbird, and Vulcan. Three of those four are pretty nuts but Gladiator has served regardless. This battle is no different.
The Kree/ Inhuman wedding is to take place according to Kree tradition. Kree nobility get married on big frozen blocks of ice that are carved into a really beautiful palace. As the wedding guests arrive, Kree Sentries keep watch on the proceedings.
One big hitch in any Shi'ar invasion plans is that Kree-Space is still protected by shields. That is easily remedied by a suicide bomber. The Imperial Guard has sent a shapeshifter to the wedding ceremonies dressed up as an Aakonian guest. He's not all that interested in the wedding, though, and makes his way to a Babel Spire in Hala's principle city. The Babel Spires were what the Phalanx used to power the shield and the Kree use them for the same purpose. Our shapeshifter is confronted by two Kree guards who try to lead him away to the ceremonies. The fake delegate has other ideas. He switches to his true form (he's not a Skrull, he's a Chameleoid) and blows himself and the Spire up.
The explosion is seen as far away as the wedding ceremony, though it may be close to said ceremony. The proceeding look to be nearly wrapped up with the priest just about to announce the happy couple married, too. The sudden light show ends all that. Everyone is wondering what is happening. Rachel gets a psi blast indicating a troop teleportation and then we're off to a huge battle scene that Lilandra can't believe Vulcan would even attempt.
The Imperial Guard are making a personal attack on the rulers of the Kree Empire. Other Kree forces are attacking outworlds and colony planets. Admiral Ka'ardum is relating the progress to his emperor. One invasion commander has requested the use of Nega-Bombs. Vulcan asks Ka'ardum's position on the use of the device and the Admiral answers that the weapon is the greatest abomination that the Shi'ar have ever divised. Vulcan agrees and gives permission to use a great many of them.
What Vulcan really wants to know, though, is how his Imperial Guard is doing at the wedding. Pretty good, actually. While there is incredible power located in the glacial palace, they are taken by surprise. Gladiator's forces make quick work of the Kree Sentries before their combat systems can be engaged in counter measures. Their very arrival seems to split the glacier in half and kill some of the delegates attending.
Havok is simply taken aback. He can't believe that his brother could do something like this. Attacking during a wedding? Heinous. Polaris orders Lockjaw to teleport her niece away from the battle.
The Imperial Guard attack without mercy but the defending Inhumans and Kree do the same. Imperial Guard members are lost but they are still commanding the battlefield. While some defenders take the enemy head on, they are also concerned about getting wedding guests to safety. It splits their numbers. Karnak and some of the echo armored warriors are able to make dents in the Imperial Guard, though. The battle has casualties on both sides.
The main event would be Black Bolt versus Gladiator. There's no real telling who would win such a fight since Gladiator's powers are derived from his faith in himself while Black Bolt is no slouch either. Would Black Bolt's shout be able to destroy Gladiator? Would the planet survive? We'll never know... or, at least, we won't find out today. This isn't really Black Bolt vs. Gladiator but Black Bolt vs. the Imperial Guard. Another Guard member, White Noise, is able to hit Blackagar with a Cone of Silence which temporarily stuns the monarch. Gladiator follows this up with a coupe de grace and smashes Black Bolt into the palace; destroying a good deal of the structure in the process.
Gorgon tries to move in and defend his king, but the Imperial Guard member, Pulsar, blasts off one of his legs.
Elsewhere on the battlefield, Ch'od is trying to escort Lilandra to safety. Unfortunately, she is a very wanted lady and Ch'od is only one guy. While he is dealing with one attack, Lilandra faces another. The Guard member, Mentor, knocks the former monarch unconscious while another Guard member, Voyager, openeds a jump-door to transport the her away. Ch'od reaches the door just in time to lose much of his right arm as it closes.
Ronan has moved in to defend his new wife. Unfortunately, this puts him in the path of numerous Imperial Guard members. They attack him from every direction. Finally, believe their mission accomplished, Gladiator orders his Guard to withdraw.
The Inhumans have already vowed to never be victims again. This attack has made them just that. Lilandra has been captured. Crystal attends an unmoving Ronan. Medusa and Black Bolt have been beaten but not killed or hospitalized. Medusa says the words for her husband and king. There will be blood.
New Avengers: The Reunion #1
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David López
Mockingbird was replaced by a Skrull WAY before everyone else was replaced by Skrulls. We never knew it because she died way back in West Coast Avengers #100 and, even though her dead body has reanimated on occasion and her spirit has talked to the Avengers, we're being told over and over that this isn't really a Skrull because we're done with Skrulls. Totally. This is the real deal. Don't question it.
Carol is a bit unhinged now, though. Contrary to her appearance over in New Avengers, this is her dealing with a world that has passed her by. Her husband is no longer her husband, SHIELD is gone, and her place in the world is uncertain. She's also learned things while a captive that she needs to deal with.
What better way to deal with some issues than breaking into a hospital and faking a patient's cardiac arrest? While the hospital staff deals with that, Mockingbird steals some doctor clothes and... wait for it... plays a little doctor. You'll notice that, in the mirror, her reflection is awfully Skrullish. She's not a Skrull, though. No sir or ma'am.
Mockingbird swipes another doctor's ID badge but that badge doesn't have the clearance for the door she wants to use. Before she can try swiping it again, she is grabbed by...
Ronin. Clint Barton. The ex. He had some help finding her after she disappeared. Mock is a bit angry because she told Clint not to follow her. Clint didn't know that she would take off after saying that. She also needed to return her mask. It didn't fit.
Who helped him find her? Captain America. James "Bucky" Barnes. Clint and James bicker back and forth. Both were pretty close to Steve Rodgers except in different time periods. Clint even got offered the Cap job before Bucky took it (because Clint gets first dibs when there's an identity vacancy). They nearly come to blows before Cap's tracking system locates Mockingbird. Turns out the flying car Bobbi's using was one of Barnes'. James asks Clint if they know WHEN Bobbi was abducted and the truth is we DON'T. They keep telling themselves that this is the real Mockingbird but, even if it is, that doesn't mean it's the same person she was when she was taken. Cap knows a thing or two about that sort of thing. Clint takes him seriously about that and even compliments him on his Cap-like demeanor.
Back in the present, Bobbi and Clint are still running around a hospital in doctor gear. Mockingbird tells Clint to leave her alone but he's not really listening. He shows her how to properly break into a restricted area by using a common ordinary cell phone (and wrecking Bobbi's cell in the process). They walk down what should be a closed hospital wing only to come across a doctor in a hazmat suit. What's going on here?
It turns out that Bobbi can speak spanish which comes as a surprise to her former husband. She's got some sort of cover going here but, unfortunately, Clint doesn't. His involvement causes whatever plan Mockingbird had to go awry. Alarms are sounded and everyone scatters. Our hazmat doctor doesn't scatter fast enough, though, and gets a syringe to the thoat courtesy of Mockingbird. Bobbi gives the doctor an ultimatum. She'll give him the antidote to the poison she just injected him with if he tells her where he sent "the compound."
Aljafería. With that, Bobbi silences that horrible alarm. She and Clint get into their super hero clothes. They're about to get attacked by AIM: Advanced Idea Mechanics.
The battle is just fun stuff where you learn how attuned the two former lovers are to each other's actions. They both make saves when the other person doesn't see what might hit them.
Bobbi has one of her Skrullish flashbacks and Clint has to save her but, after that, she's all business. They escape by using one of Ronin's old explosive tipped arrowheads modified to use on Mockingbird's bo staff. Dropping down onto Cap's waiting flying car, they make their way to Mockingbird's safehouse.
That safehouse is full of weapons. Lots of weapons. Clint questions her on if she's a sleeper agent and she claims she's not and she's also not working for the Skrulls. She's not working for anyone but that doesn't mean that she's not getting some help. But SHIELD's gone? What's going on with her?
It turns out that the Skrull's original plan was to just let us kill each other. They had infiltrated everything and saw just how fragile our peace was. There was plot after plot held by one group to kill everything. Once Annihilation killed off their homeworlds, they had to take an active hand in getting a new home.
The Skrulls are beat but the threats they were monitoring aren't. Mockingbird and other captured SHIELD agents have that information and are now actively trying to defuse those threats. Clint tries to get her to let the Avengers help but Bobbi doesn't want them involved at all.
More to the point, she has 48 hours to get Zaragoza, Spain. That "compound" mentioned earlier is a very dirty bomb that AIM is going to use to kill some of the greatest scientific minds of our time (I wonder if Tony Stark and Reed Richards plan to attend). Bobbi wants to take out this threat alone.
Clint's not about to let that happen. He grabs a bow from the wall and fires a net arrow at his ex-wife. He's bringing in his team and makes a call to Captain America. Mockingbird is not amused.
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Sean Chen
The Baxter Building was pretty demolished at the end of Secret Invasion. It turns out the Skrulls REALLY don't like the Fantastic Four. Still, everyone lived. You can replace things but, in the Marvel Universe, it takes a few years for people to come back.
The other big impact from Secret Invasion: the Skrulls used a clone of Reed Richards to find a way to remain undetected when shape-shifting. Reed only discovered this moments before being attacked by Criti Nol, the Skrull Yellowjacket. He failed to keep earth safe from a Skrull Invasion. More than that: even after the heroes rallied, Norman Osborn was still able to weasel in and be the hero which catapulted the villain to a position of power undreamed of before.
So, we're dealing with the FF on the verge of moving back into a repaired Baxter Building while Reed is trying to figure out how to make everything right.
The issue opens with Reed building something with the help of more HERBIEs than anyone ever wanted to see. Reed's narrating over many scenes throughout the issue about how everything went wrong, how Reed failed so utterly, and that every problem has a solution if you're willing to look for it.
Next, we cut over to Franklin and Valeria, the children of Reed and Sue, on their way to returning to the Baxter Building. Franklin is... dressed up as a cowboy. Valeria is now up to the current series' version where she's super smart and no longer hiding it from her family. She says just what we're thinking: "why the hell are you dressed up as a cowboy?" Franklin's response is actually pretty on target: "Last week, half of our building got destroyed, mom was replaced by aliens and we got sucked into the negative zone... this is totally the wild west!" So, Franklin may have lost it but he's got a point. The world's gone nuts, you may as well dress for the part. Alicia Masters, the two's escort and baby sitter, just worries about Franklin sporting revolvers. We can all collectively roll our eyes to that way of thinking.
Back at the Baxter Building, we join two of the four, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, as they do their best to not really do much of anything unless you count getting drunk. Johnny's lamenting about the loss of his little black book while Ben's arm chair quarterbacking the Doombots' moving efforts. Doombots? Reed repurposed a whole lot of them to be house servants and they're doing the job of moving in the Fantastic Four's new furniture.
Sue Richards isn't happy to find Johnny and Ben just sitting around drinking while the Doombots do all the work. She wanted everything in place when her kids arrived and, at this point, she's only been able to get their rooms finished. Johnny mentions the logistical impossibilities of furnishing five floors of furniture in two hours even WITH superpowers (and flame powers probably don't help when moving furniture). While the three are talking, the Doombots are disappearing.
The three follow the last Doombot to find that they've all been called to help Reed. Sue's not happy about this. Reed had a list of things to accomplish but he never even got through programming the home security systems (and that's gonna hurt them in a few pages). What he got struck with was inspiration. He decided to build a "Bridge." He's made a lot of decisions lately that should have lead to a better, safer, more awesome world and it turns out that it hasn't. The Bridge is meant to help correct that.
Reed will stand on the Bridge and be able to view several multiple realities. He'll keep on looking until he finds the solution to their first problems and how to get the world back on the right track. Now, here's where things will go wrong: The Bridge has it's own power supply but Reed's worried about some spill over issues. The Bridge provides a protective field to prevent that but, if that isn't enough, the Baxter Building provides another. He's going to go inside the Bridge and check things out and he's going to do it very soon.
Outside the Baxter Building, HAMMER forces arrive. They've been ordered to shut down the Fantastic Four pending a Directorate review. The FF has been suspended from the Initiative Program. The FF aren't going to be happy being shut down, so this is a combat unit. HAMMER rushes the building.
Meanwhile, Reed's getting suited up for his "trip" through the Bridge.
Since the Bridge views not only multiple realities but also views those realities at different time periods, how long Reed will be gone is up for grabs. He could seem to be gone for mere moments or it could be much longer. Sue's not all hip to this scene but Thing knows that there's no dissuading Reed when he's in one of his moods. Might as well just go with it. Reed assures his wife that he will come back and he's off into infinity and beyond. The remaining family members still have a building to furnish.
Hammer smashes into the Baxter Building's lobby in an unnecessary show of force. They pull guns on the FF's robot receptionist and start going about their plan.
Sue, Ben, and Johhny see HAMMER raiding their building from their monitors. The three take the elevator down to quickly take care of this threat before Franklin and Valeria arrive. HAMMER cuts the power before the elevator gets close to the lobby. That... will cause some interesting problems. Remember, while the Bridge is internally powered, the Baxter Building was providing a back up protection field to deal with any chronal/multiple reality spill over. Reed's only slightly aware of the problem and goes about his work but his kids, arriving at the Building, get to see a lightshow surrounding their home's top floors.
Emergency lights come on in the stopped elevator. Sue thinks they stopped around the 50th floor. That's a long way to go, but they've got a flyer, Human Torch, to fly interference until Ben and Sue can join him downstairs. The Thing cracks open the elevator doors and the three head...
...into the prehistoric age? There are Celestials, flying androgynous men, dinosaurs, animal men, and a few humans hanging about. I guess it COULD be the Savage Land, but I'm betting it's not OUR Savage Land...
Secret Warriors #2
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Had enough of the Skrulls? Well, too bad!
During Secret Invasion, Baron Von Strucker faced his own challengers. While holed up in the Hydra underwater complex, Ichor, he watched news on the surface as the Skrulls invaded the planet. His own men confirmed Skrull attacks on four continents. Von Strucker is amazed that his own operations have continued with no infiltration. His men tell him that there has been no sign at all of Skrull infestation and believe it's a lucky sign for the future of Hydra.
Von Strucker is not fooled at all. He knows these men to be Skrulls. The Hydra agents assume their true form and then allow the Baron to monologue a bit. Von Strucker used to be all about genetic cleansing and the future of the Aryan race. Hitler was quite an influence on him. That was a long time ago, though. Now he doesn't care if he rules over one race or many races. He simply wishes to rule. Killing Skrulls, though? It's like killing Nazis and, since he's an ex-Nazi, it's all he's got going for him. So our battle begins.
The conclusion is never really in doubt. We're done with Skrulls in the present so having Hydra remain under Skrull control is not an option. Stucker makes short work of his former agents and the questions the last one to find out how many have infiltrated his facilities. Apparently, they've done a thorough job. Strucker kills the remaining Skrull and activates the self destruct sequence for Ichor. He escapes as 15,000 Hydra agents, many possibly Skrulls, are killed.
We now cut to the end of last issue and our follow up. Nick Fury has just revealed to Daisy Johnson that SHIELD was always a Hydra front even when he was in charge of it. It was secretly controlled by Hydra the whole time. The conflict between SHIELD and Hydra was always a lie. What does that mean? What are the repercussions? Was Fury just playing spy to a hidden director?
Well, Daisy works out a bit of it. If Hydra was secretly pulling SHIELD's strings, SHIELD would be able to take out any threats to Hydra. Hydra would be able to keep an eye on the superhuman community through SHIELD. SHIELD would be able to gather data and national secrets that Hydra would then have access to. This is serious long term thinking going down. It requires Fury and his troops to fight this fight in a different way.
We cut back to the past, specifically to right after Nick Fury blew up The Carousel in Chicago (as shown in the last issue). This issue, we get the reaction from Baron Von Strucker who has left the destroyed underwater base, Ichor for the New Zealand Hydra base, Gehenna. He's listening in on how Hydra recruitment is going. Apparently, those joining from Habitat for Humanity, the Peace Corps, and Greenpeace are incredible. They've got 6,212 fully trained agents ready to go. Hydra has also been able to recover well with the eyes of the world pointing at the United States. Unfortunately, Nick Fury's been able to figure out what's been going on after all this time. Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker takes it well. Nick's eyes have been opened. He finally knows what's going on. Von Strucker prepares for some guests to arrive. Things are going to get... louder... very soon.
Back in the present, the Secret Warriors are getting something to eat at a Chinese restaurant in New York. Daisy shows up after her meeting with Fury. Hellfire tries to get her to sit next to him but she chooses a seat next to Stonewall instead (he's trying to start up some good lovin' and getting turned down). She starts eating some moo goo gai pan and tells the team that, after the meal, they need to head back to work for the bad news. Y'know how you get your fortune with every meal, usually delivered inside a cookie? We get that same deal here, delivered by Phobos instead of a cookie message.
So what does he have to say? Druid is going to be a hero. A real hero. Slingshot is going to get hurt but Stonewall will be there to take care of her. Stonewall's going to find out who he is. Daisy is going to be one of the greats. Maybe. It's going to suck getting there, though. Hellfire? He's going to die. He takes it pretty well. Hellfire takes a drink from his beer and says, "Here's to burnin' out bein' better than fading away."
Now, remember, Phobos is the god of fear. This may all come to pass but it might also be twisted to freak everyone out. We'll find out together. :)
Back to our flashbacks: Viper is shown two weeks ago in Japan. She's having relations with the Silver Samurai but there's more important things to be doing. She wakes up having recieved a summons from Hydra. She dresses and leaves a note for Samurai. Viper joins several other Hydra leaders at Gehenna. We have Kraken, Madame Hydra, The Hive, and Baron Von Strucker, waiting for a final leader.
Back at The Cocoon, the Secret Warriors are learning the terrible Hydra/SHIELD connection. Nick warns them all that they need to be perfect in everything because recon ops like their last one could cost lives. Fury orders intelligence work and a volunteer to infiltrate Hydra... I'm betting Hellfire. Who's taking?
Back on flashback territory, we're quickly approaching the present. Hydra has attacked the Hand on the Island of Shikoku in the Resurrection Temple. Reaching the inner chamber, Von Strucker is making a deal with the Resurrection Priests of the temple. They demand his head for the resurrection they're about to perform. Von Strucker accepts the bargain but does not reveal who they'll be bringing back to life. The priests won't live to collect, anyway.
As they perform their rituals, they are consumed by the one that they are bringing back. He rises in front of the Hydra inner circle as they clothe and arm him. The Gorgon is back. Hail Hydra.
Agents of Atlas #2
Writer: Jeff Parker
Pencilers: Carlo Pagulayan & Gabriel Hardman
We've got two different stories going on here that don't seem to be directly related at this point. For simplicity's sake, we'll tell them chronologically instead of the way they're set up in here where they keep cutting back and forth between time periods. Let's start with their 1950's adventure.
In 1958, FBI agent Jimmy Woo and his team have been brought to Edwards Air Force Base to deal with a special problem. Every day, a MiG appears above the base, races around for a while, and then disappears. It's entrance and exit are accompanied by a sonic boom. It appears randomly so the base hasn't been able to shoot it down. Jimmy thinks they'll be able to figure it out for Major Garland and sends up Marvel Boy to give the jet a closer look.
Marvel Boy catches up after a little chase only to find that the pilot is a skeleton. That freaks Bob out but we're able to look closer at the cockpit. The skeletal pilot has drawn a symbol on the cockpit glass: a circle, a triangle, and another circle connected with a line. Also, the ID number of the jet is "616." That might not really be important but it IS the identification number for the Marvel Universe in the Multiverse so it's a nice piece of trivia.
Before anything else can occur, the jet sonic booms away; leaving the sky with one lonely super hero left with nothing but questions.
Major Garland adds the skeletal pilot to the general wierdness of the teleporting MiG and gives Agent Woo all the data they have relevant to the Ghost Jet. Before the team can leave, they are confronted by Cary "Kit" Dekum. He's part of the United States' fledgling space program and he'd really like a ride in the Silver Bullet rocket.
Kit is enjoying his flight in the Silver Bullet. Gorilla-Man almost gets Marvel Boy to make a joke about Uranus which is pretty funny. Bob tells Kit that he's been trying to give the space program some pointers on rocketry but has ran into roadblocks. Apparently, the US wants to go it alone... well, with help from Germans, but otherwise alone. Kit looks around the cabin only to run into Venus. Instant affection, which is sort of Venus' deal.
The rocket lands at Chabot Observatory outside of San Francisco. The team then gets into their car to drive into town. Jimmy finds an orchid waiting on the hood of the car and knows that his lady love has been around looking for him. He takes Venus' suggestion for food and they all drive off to Piers.
Piers is great because they barely give a talking gorilla a second glance. Bob's deduced the next appearance of the MiG. Kit and Gorilla-Man have a little chat about piloting before some beatniks give Marvel Boy a hard time for drinking milk. Square! Jimmy tries to explain it but then he sees Suwan in the corner and makes for a private visit.
Kit wonders where Jimmy went and Venus does her best to explain that Jimmy's just getting friendly with the daughter of a communist overlord, Yellow Claw. This leads to some Red Scare talk from Kit but it's all interrupted when they see Bob trying to get seriously drunk. Kit won't be distracted that easily, though. He's gonna go check on Jimmy but everyone is further distracted by the guy with no skin.
He's looking for "her" but we have no clue who that is. The skinless monster punches Venus in the face and his touch burns. Kit goes to the defense and gets burned delivering a haymaker. Gorilla-Man joins the fight but Bob has drunk himself under the table at this point and is useless. Just to make things even more complicated, a platoon of armed men, each wearing a red star on their chest, break into Piers demanding they "turn over the woman." Are they looking for Suwan?
All right! Now we're on to the present!
The Agents of Atlas have a deal with Norman Osborn to provide various deals for his forces. This time, it's a weapons transaction. They're waiting to make a big impression and have their saucer cloaked while the ATF arrives for their meeting at Edwards Air Force Base. That's a connection to the flashback storyline.
The ATF has replaced Man Mountain with Max Markham, Grizzly, last seen fighting Steven Colbert and Spider-Man a few months ago our time. While the Agents are waiting for Bob to deliver their weapon, Mr. Lao, their dragon friend, pops on their screens to inform them how unnecessary it is for James Woo to run missions on the field instead of staying in the Hidden City. Because Woo keeps leaving the City, Lao has appointed a second, Temugin, to take over if Jimmy is killed. Temugin has arrived in the Hidden City and awaits an audience. Jimmy gives a few orders regarding Temugin's care and then disconnects the call.
Jimmy's growing impatient waiting for Bob, so he sends Venus into Bob's inner chambers to check up on the former Marvel Boy. Bob does his work in the buff and doesn't seem to mind that Venus came looking. Osborn has made sure that Venus isn't at the meeting so that she can't influence the observational powers of his men. It's hard to stay mad at Venus, after all.
The "frequency cannon" is nearly prepared. It's show time.
The silver saucer suddenly appears above the ATF. Grizzly tries to keep his people in line. Gorilla-Man, M-11, and Namora decend down to make the sales pitch. The frequency cannon produces a directable EM pulse that is impossible to stop with earth-made defenses. Grizzly was expecting something that could take down enhanced humans to which Gorilla-Man mentions that some super powered people use armored suits. It's time for a demonstration. Gorilla-Man fires it at one of the ATF's helicopters.
Namora rescues the helicopter but Grizzly is ticked off at the stunt. He orders another chopper to fire a missile at the Agents' saucer. Gorilla-Man fires the frequency cannon at the missile, rendering it useless. Thus concludes our weapons demonstration.
The cannon's usefullness is easy to see and Grizzly accepts it... before wondering if it'd work on M-11. Namora makes certain that line of thought is never followed up on as she begins to kick Grizzly's @$$ all over the desert. She follows up by smashing a helicopter into him. Everyone tries to calm Namora down and Venus makes a point to talk to her about this later. Namora tosses the helicopter away and returns to the saucer. Gorilla-Man continues on with the sale.
Later on, the team celebrates inside the saucer. Namora is ashamed of her actions, though. She doesn't want to talk about it, either, so don't ask! Just then, the party is crashed by an unexpected visitor.
Temugin, the son of the Mandarin. The team attacks the invader but Temy works well to defend himself. Finally, Jimmy orders everyone to stand down. Temugin listens.
How did Temugin get aboard? Turns out his father taught him how to teleport when Temugin returned the rings to him. Temugin seems to be here to berate Woo for his command decisions and to question his loyalty to the Atlas Foundation. Everyone wants to bring up how Woo threw away a chance to control the Sentry and Temy's no exception.
Before Temugin can continue scolding the Agents of Atlas for their lack of leadership, he's attacked by a mechanical squid with Iron Man's head. Bob Grayson has returned from his inner chambers and assaults Temy with one of his fears. He warns him never to enter his saucer without permission ever again. Temugin acquiesces.
Unfortunately, it's not Temugin's impudence that bother's Jimmy Woo, Khan of the Atlas Foundation. It's the fact that Temugin is correct.
Black Panther #2
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Penciler: Ken Lashley
Last issue, I made the prediction that one of Black Panther's bodyguards, the Dora Milaje, would betray him this issue. I was wrong. It's actually a much more cut and dry battle.
Still, let's begin after that battle. T'challa is in critical condition. He may not live to see the morning. The royal family has a lot of tough decisions to make and the most important of those is making sure that Wakanda has a Black Panther. Ororo is Queen and acting ruler of Wakanda until, and IF, T'challa recovers but a new Black Panther must be chosen. The decision is Storm's.
But first, Ororo does her best being monarch. She's got some serious leadership experience so she steps up to the plate well. No one knows who T'challa was meeting with so they can't know who attacked him or why. The investigation is continuing, though. They'll try to find out as best they can. Storm orders Wakanda's borders fortified. Finally, she puts out an official report on her husband's condition. It's not revealing 100% of the King's condition but it should be enough to quell any fears the nation might have. Now, it's time to pick a Panther.
Ororo doesn't choose herself like the Queen Mother had predicted. She chooses T'challa's sister, Shuri. The Queen Mother doesn't like that one bit but it WAS Storm's decision. Shuri makes ready to meet the Panther God.
We flashback three hours to T'challa's fight with Dr. Doom. It's the Black Panther and his two Dora Milaje vs. Doom and his army of robot enforcers. It's a fierce battle where the Panther takes a back seat to his body guards. One takes on Doom directly while the second tries to get a protesting T'challa to safety. Unfortunately, Doom has a LOT of robot enforcers.
In the present, Storm defends her decision to the Queen Mother. Shuri has been given the same training as her older brother and has all the skills to be a fine Black Panther. Storm actually berates the Queen Mother on second guessing her daughter.
Back to our flashback: the Dora Milaje are using their jet's weapons to even the odds a bit. Soon, the autopilot features are disabled from within. At the same time, it's revealed that the Doom that one of the Dora Milaje is engaging is in actuality a Doombot. The real Dr. Doom is on T'challa's ride. T'challa takes a full blast from Doom's gauntlet. Before Victor Von Doom can follow through, he's hit by an artillery shell from the first Dora Milaje. The second loads the injured King into the jet while the first engages the real Doom.
Doom quickly gains the advantage in battle but the Dora Milaje decides to end it her own way. With explosions. Doom isn't harmed, but the castle is rubble and T'challa's super-sonic jet is damaged in the escape. The remaining Dora Milaje sets the jet to autopilot with the destination of home and then sets to attending her King.
In the present, Storm is visiting her husband who is still in the Star Wars Bacta Tank. She, obviously, doesn't want to lose her love. She's pretty certain that, under normal circumstances, T'challa would overcome all odds. This is something else, though. The Queen Mother presents Ororo with a possible way to bring back T'challa from the brink of death. Storm vows to take it even if it means making a deal with Mephisto. She hears that's all the rage and is all ready for her Brand New Day.
At the far side of the African continent, another sect that worships animal gods has sensed that the Panther God's avatar has fallen. They believe it is time to unleash their own avatar: the lion.
Writer: Daniel Way
Penciler: Paco Medina
Deadpool does his best to explain to the audience just why he's going after Norman Osborn. So will I. In the first three issues of Deadpool, Wade Wilson infiltrated the Skrull army in order to steal biological data on how to kill the Skrull Queen. He did this for Nick Fury but, when he tried to send this info to the super spy, it was intercepted by an unknown source. Norman Osborn. Because Wade didn't send the info to Fury, he didn't get paid and has spent the last few issues trying to make some money. He's also been attacked by Tigershark on Osborn's behalf. Norman doesn't want it known that it's because of Deadpool that he got the kill shot on the Skrull Queen.
Well, after the tussle with Tigershark, Wade knows all this stuff and thinks that Osborn owes him some money. It's time to collect.
Deadpool arms up and heads straight for Avengers Tower. Yes, it's that sort of plan. Since the building is closed for remodeling, Wade makes his own door and is face to face with the usual doorman: an Iron Man suit we first saw in Secret Invasion: Frontline. It's not the actual greeter but it IS impressive and essential to the plot.
The real greeter is a killer robot that Norman Osborn is talking through. The two banter back and forth before Wade throws down some smoke grenades. Osborn feigns surprise and alarm before tracking him through his heat signature and opening fire. Deadpool falls but gets right back up. Again and again.
Now, Wade has a healing factor so that'd happen eventually but it usually takes a little time to get in gear. This bit is breaking the rules and Norman wants to know how that's happening. His fans clear away the smoke to reveal... an Iron Man suit missing it's chest piece. Deadpool has a new accessory.
Actually, he has a number of new accessories including a grappling gun that we'll find out more on next issue. This issue, he's just using it to get to the top floor faster. Not fast enough, of course. The Iron Man chest piece is weighing him down so he decides to use the time to make Norman Osborn jokes. Osborn's listening in and has no clue what's going on or who he's talking to (Deadpool has a lot of inner voices).
While we all wait for Osborn's secondary defenses to come into play, Deadpool treats us to a crazy hallucination where he has his own Jack and the Beanstalk moment. The giant is played by Norman Osborn and we quickly get off track. DP accuses the giant of lying and stealing from him and demands golden beans for his trouble. The giant throws him the beans but also gets mechanical bats in the deal.
The mechanical bats turn out to be gliders and part of the Tower defenses. The beans turn out to be pumpkin bombs.
It doesn't take long for Wade to get on top of a glider defender and, after deciding NOT to destroy it, does his best Green Goblin impersonation. The glider automatically avoids the fire given off by other gliders. Deadpool rides the thing to the top of the tower. Once he gets to the top, he plants a bomb and ignites his ride that has, of course, turned on him.
And that's how Deadpool got to the top of Avengers Tower.
One slight obstacle remains:
OK. Two. It turns out that Norman's not at the top of Avengers Tower. He's watching the whole thing from a safe distance. To be continued in Thunderbolts! It's a crossover within an event! Double word score!
And now, the Golden Age first appearance of Namor the Sub-Mariner!
Marvel Comics #1
Writer: Bill Everett
Artist: Bill Everett
Last time we checked in with Namor, we showed everyone his Silver Age first appearance. This time, we're heading further back to give a look at his Golden Age appearance as one of the first Marvel super-heroes (though the company wasn't known as "Marvel" at the time).
Our story begins with the salvage ship, the SS Recovery. They're sending divers down looking for treasure in an old sunken vessel but the divers are returning with a troubling story. It looks like the safe down below has already been emptied but whoever took the contents hasn't been gone long. A knife found on a nearby desk hasn't even been given time to rust.
The captain knows that no other salvage ship has been in the area for the last three years so that knife should be well rusted by now. He sends two divers down to see if they can find any other evidence on who could have taken the treasure.
The two divers settle on the ocean floor and find that someone has been to the ship in their absence. A side hatch on the downed vessel has been opened. Once inside the ship, they find and even odder sight: a man swimming around. At these pressures, that should be impossible without protective gear but there he is. The divers give chase but are unable to catch up to the swimmer.
Now, it should be obvious to all that this swimmer is the Sub-Mariner. What'll surprise modern comic readers is what happens next.
Namor mistakes the two divers for robots. He notices the series of tubes connecting them to the surface and cuts through them all. The divers respond quickly and seal off their suits to keep the air they have within but they'll have to face off against the Sub-Mariner before escaping to the surface. Namor quickly stabs one with his knife and crushes the helmet of the other, killing both divers.
The captain has lost contact with the divers with their lines being severed and sends down a third diver to find out what's going on. The third diver sees the dead bodies and wastes no time returning to the surface. Namor watches this "robot" return to his ship and follows him.
The surviving diver quickly tells the captain about what he saw below the water and the SS Recovery tries to run from the area. The Captain also orders a report sent to the Coast Guard.
Below the water, Namor is not allowing the ship the opportunity to escape. He jams the ship's rudder and stops the starboard propeller with his incredible strength. The Sub-Mariner then aids the ship in reaching land by pushing it into a coastal reef. Smashing ashore, the Recovery is split in two.
After his battle, Namor grabs his two prizes, the divers, and returns home to the grotto of the underwater king. Atlantians from this issue are little like the ones of today. They have the blue tinged skin but they are very inhuman looking. Namor greets the king, who has blonde hair a whisker-like mustache and saucer-like eyes on his tiny head. He presents his prizes to the king who demands that their head encasements are removed. The Sub-Mariner is horrified to find that the two divers WERE earth-men.
His mother is elated. The dead divers' bodies are to be made into statues and presented in the royal chamber as examples of Atlantean might (though "Atlantean" is my word-- they were simply an under water civilization at the time). Namor is stunned. He knows his father was an earth-man and thought they were all great people. His mother, Fen, has a different story to tell.
Back in 1920, their underwater civilization made it's home in the deep waters of the south pole. Exploration ships soon came to look at the area and their base of operations was located right above the aquatic capital city. The capital was bombarded by explosions from the exploring ships conducting scientific experiments.
One such ship, the Oracle, was commanded by Commander Leonard McKenzie. Fen, who looked most like the earth-men, was sent to spy on the surface creatures. She was found on the Oracle and, though there was a language barrier, she and McKenzie became fast friends. With time, she learned some of the earth-men's language but was unable to remain on the surface for more that five hours at a time. It appears that the crew of the Oracle were aware that she returned to the ocean waters but could never understand how she didn't freeze to death.
In time, Fen and Commander McKenzie fell in love and were married according to surface custom but, even then, Fen was secretly providing her people with intelligence. That intelligence wasn't positive, though. She told the king that the earth-men were too powerful. Even as the underwater people prepared for a counter attack, a huge explosion sent from above devastated their numbers to near extinction. The survivors were forced to abandon their ancestral home for safer waters.
Now, twenty years have passed and Fen tells her son that it is his destiny to lead his people in revenge of the earth-men. Fen tells him to use planning and care when facing his enemy.
Striking a heroic pose, Namor the Sub-Mariner prepares to do battle with the surface men.
And we are done for now! Next week will be a much smaller affair and I thank Marvel for that!
Until then: Who Do YOU Trust?
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