Saturday, May 26, 2018 • Midnight Edition • "Hope you survive the experience!"

Super Reads War of Kings and Dark Reign 44

Written by SuperginraiX on Thursday, April 09 2009 and posted in Features


The storm of comics has hit!.

Today, we check out X-Men: Kingbreaker #4, War of Kings: Darkhawk #2, Nova #23, New Avengers #51, Mighty Avengers #23, Thunderbolts #130, War Machine #4, Ms. Marvel #37, Incredible Hercules #127, Dark Reign: Elektra #1, and Blast to the Past with New Mutants #'s 15-17. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Oi. So many comics...

As always, you can easily check up on past articles of Super Reads. If you're reading this on The Outhouse, you'll see a link titled "Super Reads" under the "Features" button on the top of the page. Click on it and 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). If my directions are confusing, click here to catch up or remember back on all 43 previous articles. It's perfect for all your reading needs.

And away we go.

xmkb4.jpgX-Men: Kingbreaker #4
Writer: Chris Yost
Pencilers: Dustin Weaver w/ Paco Diaz

This issue takes place before War of Kings #1 and describes how most of the Starjammers excape from the Shi'ar prison on Kr'kn. Yes, you heard me. Most.

Remember when Vulcan killed the Galactic Council envoy back in Kingbreaker #2? So do the remnants of the Galactic Council. They have made their way to Kree space in order to show footage (Vulcan let the Recorder unit survive in order to bring the message back) to Ronan the Accuser. Ronan watches it... and then orders it be played again.

There is one member of the Starjammers flying around Kr'kn that didn't head planetside. She is Rachel Summers, or Marvel Girl by moniker. She's flying interference for the Shi'ar ships in orbit and, because of that, she's the first to greet the mad Hodinn as he re-enters the battle. Rachel engages the Dark Imperial but is caught in the Shi'ar warships' counterattack. The salvo sends her and the Hodinn crashing to the planet.

It takes a LONG time for someone to actually fall from orbit to ground, so we'll fill up that time by catching up on the battle between the Starjammers and the Imperial Guard down on Kr'kn. It takes little time at all for Gladiator to single Havok out and subdue him. Vulcan's asked for his brother's head and Gladiator is ready to deliver just that when he's distracted by a sight he thought he'd never see. His cousin. This distracts him and he immediately changes targets and takes out his own family instead of his emperor's.

With Havok given a reprieve, Vulcan orders his Guard to attack the Starjammers. Raza, infected by the Dark Imperial Symbiote, is suddenly on the other side and fighting his friends. Vulcan decides to take out his older brothers personally and, honestly, Alex doesn't have the much left to make much of a fight. Under water as he is, he has no connection to a cosmic power source and, therefore, his mutant powers are gone. He also managed to drop his rifle when he was tackled by Gladiator. Only the timely intervention of his girlfriend, Lorna Dane (Polaris), saves him a second time.

This still wouldn't give most people a chance to crash from orbit, but these are super powers and they're moving super fast. Rachel and the mad Hodinn make a pin point crash landing right into the prison. That, is not a good thing for nearly anyone. For one, the prison is underwater and a crash like that tends to crack through the protective shell keeping all the water out. Lorna is quickly diverted from the battle to keep the ceiling from collapsing on everyone. The second bad thing is it just let a mad Hodinn in. This guy has already destroyed an entire planet (or an entire system depending on how you read issue 2) and he seems to want to do that again. The one guy that this benefits is Havok. It turns out that the Hodinn is basically a sentient star and that means he can power Havok up. Alex takes it all, leaving the Hodinn suddenly powerless. The Imperial Guard kill him before any recharge can be made.

Havok, now on overcharge, is suddenly a threat to his little brother.

The Starjammers rally around Lilandra and the battle goes back and forth once more.

In another section of the Kr'kn prison, Gladiator and his cousin (not Supergirl) are still duking it out. This is probably the only real reason that the Starjammers have a chance because, with two Strontians on his side, Vulcan should easily hold the day. The two definitely have issues to deal with but it's not gonna be settled today. Deathbird interupts the battle and orders Gladiator to back down. The emperor pardoned his cousin and it's time to start serving your emperor. Gladiator, forever loyal to the throne, heads back to the battle.

Before he gets there, his emperor is getting owned by Havok. I mean seriously owned. Unfortunately, the Starjammers are going to have a few set backs happen all in a row. Polaris is starting to lose her hold on the ceiling and begs Rachel for a little Phoenix Force backup. Rachel is about to lend a hand when, suddenly, the Phoenix Force is taken from her. It's also taken from Korvus's Phoenix Blade. The hound scars that Rachel hides with Phoenix powers etch across her face and she stumbles to the ground. Korvus is having trouble lifting a now depowered Phoenix Blade. It's a big sword.

So, you may be wondering, what the hell? Blame Marvel. They keep wanting to bring back Jean Grey. She's apparently scheduled to reappear again in Uncanny X-Men. She'll need all the Phoenix Force she can get, apparently.

The Pn'zo takes advantage of the two's weakness and strikes out at Rachel. This motivates Korvus to pick up his damn sword and do some killin'. Lilandra decides the battle is moments from completely turning on the Starjammers and shouts at Havok to retreat. This issue is all about family issues, though, so it wouldn't be right if Lilandra didn't confront her own family before it ended. Deathbird claws a big chunk out of her sister's cheek and the two debate politics for a while. Deathbird makes a flying lunge at Lilandra only to end up shishkabobbed on a makeshift spear. Yeah, Lilandra can actually fight her own battles!

This causes a huge emotional reaction from Deathbird's husband, Vulcan. The Emperor tries to get to Deathbird's side but Havok gives chase. Vulcan vows revenge on everyone, Alex is about to end his brother's life, Lorna's about to lose the ceiling, and Lilandra ports every Starjammer back to their ship. Unfortunately, Raza is left behind. His being captured by the Symbiote messed with the system identifying him. There's no time to go back, though. They are immediately a target of Shi'ar Warbirds and jet away.

Deathbird isn't dead. She's hooked up to lots of medical doohickeys (and we all cheer that she isn't in a bacta tank) as the doctors tell Emperor Vulcan that his wife's spinal chord was too severely damaged. She also hasn't woken up yet. Vulcan doesn't even have time to attend to his injured spouse, though. The Shi'ar are engaged in multiple wars and they require his leadership. With a little pressing, Vulcan gives orders out to everyone.

Admiral Ka'ardum and Gladiator's cousin are to return to the front and see to the empire's expansion. The Imperial Guard will remain with Vulcan. They will see to revenge. They will hunt the Starjammers wherever they go.

Aboard the Starjammer, Lilandra and her team assess their situation. Raza is lost but they will hopefully rescue him. Rachel has lost the Phoenix Force but still has her mutant powers of telepathy and telekenesis. Havok's ticked off about not being able to finish his brother off but Lilandra's plan is to have him survive to see her regain the throne. Now, it's time for them to race off to War of Kings #1.

We end the issue with Ronan the Accuser. He's seen what Vulcan did to the Galactic Council's envoy and heard the threats that were made to the rest of the universe. His men have given him word that Shi'ar Warbirds are scouting the Kree perimeter. He takes all this and, kneeling, begins to relate it to his new monarch, Black Bolt of the Inhumans.

dh2.jpgWar of Kings: Darkhawk #2
Writers: C.B. Cebulski, Dan Abnett, & Andy Lanning
Artists: Harvey Tolibao & Paolo Pantalena

Chris Powell's house just exploded. He was just confronted by another Darkhawk which, concidering he thought he was the only one, is pretty surprising. Still, his family takes precedence. He grabs them all from the wreckage and flies them all out of the remains of the burning building. He yells at Mickey Musashi (the former hero, Turbo) to call 911.

The other Darkhawk, calling himself Talon, advises that the two of them excape the area. They're putting everyone in danger. Apparently, what destroyed the house is a Hunter Drone and it's after him and, now, Chris as well. Chris isn't about to listen because, well, he's got anger issues and doesn't know how comic books work. Unfortunately, the Hunter Drone isn't giving them time to figure this all out. It attacks and goes for the confused one first.

It's big time battle time but Talon keeps dropping exposition and that's the important thing. The Hunter Drone is out to destroy the Fraternity of Raptors which Chris joined when he started using the Darkhawk Amulet. After taking a heavy blast by the HD, Darkhawk reconfigures his form to a much more crazy looking suit of armor. He's in Strike Suit Mode. It's one of multiple configurations that Raptors can take on. Talon and Darkhawk combine forces as both Raptors take on Strike Suit Mode and unleash lots and lots of artillery at the Hunter Drone.

I don't know where all those missiles COME from, but I'm glad I'm not footing the bill.

Once the big bad monster alien killer is destroyed, the two Raptors land.

Talon keeps calling Darkhawk "Designate Powell" because Chris is still considered a Raptor in training. Obviously, Darkhawk doesn't really know as much about being Darkhawk as he could have. In fact, he's having trouble switching out of Strike Mode. When Mickey interrupts him, he is able to simply turn off the armor completely but isn't quite sure how he accomplished that. Talon believes that the two should start running right away before more trouble starts but Chris is more worried about his family and certainly hasn't decided to trust this guy just yet. He and Mickey rush off to look after his family.

Chris's brothers fair pretty well. They got a little banged up but are already running around being kids. His mom is seen in a hospital and is in a coma.

This leads to what I see as a pointless fight between Mickey and Chris just because Chris is counting and trying to calm down. I'm sorry, Mickey, is my trying to calm down upsetting you? Women. Anyway, Mickey chooses this time to blame Chris and his armor for everything that's ever gone wrong in his life. She demands he get rid of the amulet but, y'know, it's bonded to him so he can't. This rather stupid fight (probably, most fights are) is interrupted by Talon which leads to ANOTHER rather stupid fight.

Talon lays down more exposition during this fight. It's what he does. He and Chris are all that's left of the Fraternity of Raptors. Talon is here to teach Darkhawk about how to use the armor. It wasn't designed to be used by humans and that's basically why it leads to fits of anger and will eventually lead to full on madness. With that, Talon gives Darkhawk a glimpse of the future and past all at once. We see Lilandra, Blackbolt, Ka'ardum, Vulcan, and three Raptors flying with an assortment of warships. Apparently, this is what the armor is giving Chris internally ALL THE TIME. Chris has tried to get rid of it or explain it away but it's always there. Madness, I tells ya. Talon can fix things, apparently.

Later on, Chris attends another meeting of the superhero support group. He's tries to explain that the armor he's wearing is damaging his mind and that's what's been causing all his troubles and lead to many of their's. He's going off to learn how to deal with it, but he needs someone to look after his family. Mickey agrees to do so. The two embrace and Chris tells her he'll come back for her.

With that, it's another meeting with Talon. Talon continues to give lessons on the Fraternity of Raptors. If you're like me, you're still trying to find out if the Raptors are meant for good or evil. Apparently, they are about advancing culture but also controlling it's advance. The coming war is enough reason to believe that things are out of control but I'm still suspicious. That's just how I am I guess.

Especially when you consider that Talon's first stop in regaining some universal leverage is to head to the Negative Zone. That's usually not where you go for happy fun times. How do they get there? The armors simply teleport straight away. And with that, Talon and Darkhawk's journey goes into War of Kings: Ascension.

But the issue goes on to reprint Darkhawk #2!

Writer: Danny Fingeroth
Artist: Mike Manley

After his first appearance smash debut, Darkhawk wastes no time taking the fight straight up to the bad guy of his choice. In this case, it's Phillipe Bazin. He's a crime boss with tendrils going throughout the city. Chris's father was apparently taking bribes from Bazin while his mom refused the same deal. That puts Bazin in Darkhawk's sites. The new superhero quickly slices through Phillipe's thugs while still learning more about his armor (like that it can generate a shield). Bazin tries bribing Darkhawk and even claims to have knowledge about the armor's power. It's not a tact that'll work on Chris but it doesn't make him falter for a moment.

Darkhawk throws the criminal out the window only to use his grabber claw catch him. Chris throws around some threats and then returns Bazin to his office. Quickly after that engagement, Hobgoblin flies in for round two. Fight!

Darkhawk makes some nice moves straight out of the gate but is soon overcome by the more experienced fighter. Chris uses a Darkforce Blast to separate himself from the demonically possessed Hobgoblin and watches the villain fly off. He takes some time to try answering a nearby news copter's questions before getting another surprise attack by Hobby.

Darkhawk is hurt pretty badly in the latest tango and makes for another escape. You'll notice that he's bleeding green fluid/blood. He lands in a back alley and soon changes back to his normal form and learns that, now human, he's unhurt. The Hobgoblin flies down and asks directions on where his fight ran off to. Chris makes some stuff up on the fly and almost references the Flash TV show that was on at the time before Hobgoblin rushes away. Chris walks home believing that his super hero carreer is already over. His alternate form was pretty hurt, after all.

When Chris gets home, he's given babysitter duty over his kid brothers as his mom heads off to work on prosecuting Bazin. She's an assistant District Attorney. Chris's brothers are fighting about whether or not their father was a dirty cop or not when Hobgoblin buzzes the house. The villain is on his way to the condemned amusement park across the street. That's where Chris found the Darkhawk Amulet and where Hobby's looking for Darkhawk. This spooks the twins out, as well it should. Chris is ready to rejoin the fight even knowing what happened to his Darkhawk body when he sees Spider-Man trailing Hobgoblin. Maybe Chris can sit this one out?

Spidey and Hobgoblin tango in the skies but their battle puts some locals in jeopardy. Even though Chris might not be able to fight above, he can still help out below. He rushes the scene to rescue people. After accomplishing that, he notices that Hobgoblin's gained the upper hand in the battle and is forced to do something about it. Transforming into Darkhawk, he is surprised to see that the armor isn't even dented.

Spider-Man's out of the fight temporarily, so Darkhawk has to hold his own for a while. Hobgoblin goes right for the amulet only to get a flung away and thrown into a pile of girders. Unfortunately, the villain sends a girder flying straight for Chris's house. Chris is left dealing with that while Spidey rejoins the fight and clotheslines Hobgoblin.

Chris is able to stop the girder from smashing anything greater than a left over brick wall and rejoins the fight against Hobgoblin just in time to show us that he might not actually have Spidey's moral compass. He threatens to break Hobby's wrists, possibly his neck before taking a spark blast to the face. The Goblin makes his escape and leaves Spidey to question whether or not Darkhawk is a hero or not.

Spidey swings off leaving Darkhawk questioning what kind of hero he wants to be.

n23.jpgNova #23
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Andrea Divito

It's been a while since we've caught up with Nova so a quick recap to Nova events. While Rick Rider was sleeping, the Worldmind had been working on re-assembling the Nova Corps. This got kicked into high gear once Worldmind returned and was separated from Richard. A lot of humans were selected to join the ranks of centurions including Rick's brother, Robbie.

Richard had some misgivings about this whole deal and it lead to the Worldmind questioning his sanity (since holding the entire Nova Force inside him for so long usually leaves the host pretty crazy) and Richard was kicked out of the Corps. Richard had some tests done at Project PEGASUS to learn that he wasn't crazy at all which meant that it was very possible that Worldmind was. It was quickly learned that Worldmind was subliminally controlling the Nova Corps and that there was very little Richard could do about it.

In a final revelation, Richard learns that, while he didn't go mad, holding the Nova Force did serious physical damage to his body. He has 48 hours to live.

So, how's Richard gonna spend those days? Hanging out in his brother's room at Project PEGASUS and playing with Robbie's Nova doll. Robbie was Richard's biggest fan and the room is littered with Nova posters and stuff. With Richard is Wendell Vaugn, Quasar. Wendell hasn't given up on Richard yet and is desperate for Richard to do something. Richard, on the other hand, seems to want to leave the world peacefully. Project PEGASUS is working on it and that means to world's best and brightest are on the job... except for Mr. Fantastic and Tony Stark. Hank Pym if you're desperate. I mean, REALLY desperate. You'd have to do a lot of convincing and Richard only has whatever remains of his 48 hours.

Quasar isn't giving up that easily and is dead set on helping his friend, when he's suddenly called over to guest star in Guardians of the Galaxy #12 (which isn't really a War of Kings tie-in and, since this is a huge week as is, I'm not going over).

If anything, that actually puts Richard to action. He tries calling up Dr. Necker only to get her answering machine. He's out on the field at Project PEGASUS at this time to find that he's walked into a thundertorm with some of the craziest weather he's seen on earth.

In earth orbit, Nu-Xandar is preparing for war. Nu-Xandar is the headquarters of the Nova Corps and is made from Ego the Living Planet. Worldmind is giving updates on galactic conditions to the Nova Corps. The War has officially begun at this point. The Galactic Council has been dissolved. Vulcan's been up to some bad stuff.

Robbie Rider is excited to be a Nova Centurion. It's been his dream come true even though Worldmind has been supressing his ability to make all his own decisions. He's hoping to get some combat experience in the coming battles.

Worldmind has been prepping Nu-Xandar for departure to the war zone. This is what has been messing with the atmospheric conditions on earth. With a clear warning to his Novas, Worldmind activates a stargate and Nu-Xandar is on the way to the front.

Back on earth, Richard Rider is getting a taste of Dark Reign.

They've secured Project PEGASUS and there've been some changes. For one, Richard Rider isn't really authorized to be on the premises. He's nearly arrested before Dr. Necker vouches for him, calls him her boyfriend and says he was slowed down helping her move by the rain. It looks like Necker is out of a job. She turns over her swipecard, the two load up the rest of her stuff, and they leave Project PEGASUS.

Obviously, no one is working on saving the life of one Richard Rider. Necker gives Richard the basics of Dark Reign as they drive out into the rain.

While heading through the stargate, some changes are coming to the Nova Corps. The first one is that a new Nova Prime has been selected. Malik Tarcel, a Shi'ar, has got the top job. Also, deployment orders have dropped. Everyone's learning what they're up to during the War of Kings but we're really only concerned with Robbie. He's got System Operations which is strategy. He's got a desk job when he was hoping for combat. He's not one bit happy about it, either. Still, Worldmind knows he won't disobey.

I mean, he can't.

One person happy to hear that Robbie isn't serving on the frontlines would be his brother, Richard. Richard believes that Robbie lacks that one thing that would make him effective as a super hero. Robbie just isn't arrogant enough. Richard thinks Robbie's gonna get in some major trouble.

Necker still has some ideas on how to save Richard's life but... they're complicated. Way complicated. After being lowered into a secret base under a run down drive-in theater, Rider learns just how complicated. Turns out Dr. Necker is a member of AIM. Advanced Ideas Mechanics. Science Terrorists. No, Richard won't be accepting any help she offers. The price is too high.

Instead, Necker hands him Quasar's Quantum Flask. She was planning to hand it over to AIM as sort of an apology for getting fired from PEGASUS. Richard takes the flask, the two get a nice kissing in the rain shot, and Richard throws the flask out into the parking area, supposedly smashing it. Richard's got less than two days to live. He can't guarantee that it wouldn't end up in AIM's hands after that.

Just then, Quasar returns from Guardians of the Galaxy with gifts of his own. He recovered the Quantum Bands. He gives them to Richard and, after some hesitation, Richard puts the bands on to become...

The brand new Quasar!? Well, that's what the cover told us. ;)

na51.jpgThe New Avengers #51
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencilers: Billy Tan & Chris Bachalo

President Barrack Obama is obviously the Comic Character of 2009 but he's actually got some stiff competition. Coming up strong is The Hood. Parker Robbins was introduced way back in the lazy days of 2002 but it was Brian Bendis taking an interest in the character post-Civil War that really got the comic public to notice the Hood. His inclusion in Norman Osborn's Dark Illuminati group (I know, it's the Cabal--it'll take time as I really like "Dark Illuminati") didn't hurt matters.

In recent Secret Invasion tie-in issues of New Avengers (specifically, #46), we learned that the Hood's powers come from Dormammu, a fallen extra-dimensional being with a demon-like background. Dormy's got big plans for the Hood but they remain mostly unrevealed. As our issue opens, it seems that Parker is coming out the worst from this arrangement which is pretty logical. Still, Dormammu is promising great things if only Robbins would pay more attention and do what he's required to do. Apparently, he's supposed to locate Dr. Strange but can only do so when Strange uses his powers. He's got to be quick, though, because the Hood isn't the only one looking to become the next Sorcerer Supreme and claim all of Strange's goodies.

Meanwhile, we have fall out over last issue. Wait, what happened last issue? Oh, Clint Barton, the ever lovin' blue eyed Ronin, went on national television and told everyone the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes. More simply, he said that giving Norman Osborn the keys to the national security top spot was insanely stupid. In this issue, Ms. Marvel is watching the news to witness how that's playing out. Honestly, it's not even the top story. It got booted down a notch when Wonder Man went on Leno and had an emotional breakdown, saying the the nation is getting what it deserves and God is dead and he's STILL wearing that porno jacket no matter what you think and his daddy never loved him and everyone thinks Vision is more interesting and... yeah, it was probably awesome. Carol takes this pretty hard because she slept with him right before the Secret Invasion began.

Now, you may be asking yourself, how the heck does Carol's appearance here fit in with what I've been reading in Ms. Marvel? I'll answer. Why are you reading Ms. Marvel?

Nah, just kidding. Even I have somehow enjoyed the last few issues of her solo book. In Ms. Marvel, Carol apparently served throughout Secret Invasion, helped with cleanup, and then found a dark room where she could just lay down and hope to die, seeing as her powers became incredibly painful to use. The MAY still seem like "cleanup" duty but it just keeps going on. Seeing as how Bendis and Reed (the writer of Ms Marvel) are friends, we all hope that this will all fit together but it could honestly be a big continuity glitch. You know I hate those.

But enough. Let's get back to the story. Clint gets a chewing out. He never cleared going to the press and calling out Norman Osborn with the rest of the team and, if he had, they wouldn't have let him. Still, there's no telling Clint what to do. He's knows it was the right move. Now, they just have to wait for Osborn and his cronies to mess up. The will mess up. Right?

The next day in New Jersey, we watch as the Young Avengers' Wiccan uses his magic to stop a high speed car chase with a lightning bolt. Very quickly, he's congratulated and graded by the former Sorceror Supreme, Dr. Strange. Wiccan, being a complete super-hero geek, thinks this is the best thing since he met the Avengers. Dr. Strange isn't here just for pleasantries, though. He's here on a mission. A mission that includes breakfast.

And, yes, he's the former Sorceror Supreme. He stepped down after going over the line in World War Hulk and probably New Avengers, too. The point is, he doesn't think he's worthy, so he stepped down. Now, he's trying to figure out who the new Sorceror Supreme will be. He's going down a list and was hoping that Wiccan was it. Honestly, there aren't that many GOOD mages out there. You'd think it was a short list but there's a few more likely candidates on that cover that could fit the bill.

Right now, Stephen is just hoping that it's not Dr. Doom. Doom's pretty skilled and has time travel to boot. Strange is hoping that Doom's corrupted nature removes his chance of being SS, but, hey, we're living in Dark Reign. What are the odds it's actually a good guy?

Anyway, whoever it is, they'll still want to get a hold of Dr. Strange because he's got all those magic goodies that make being Sorceror Supreme that much more fun.

Apparently, the new SS isn't Wiccan but that doesn't mean that it was a wasted trip. Strange offers to help train the young sorceror and Billy is pretty excited about learning more from a master. That'll have to wait for later, though. Right now, the Hood has found his prey. He's looking awfully demonic about that, too.

The New Avengers are having a team meeting. There's the matter of selecting a team leader because, since Cap left the group, they really haven't officially had a boss. They all just assumed that Cage was calling the shots. It's actually surprising to Luke that everyone thought of him as the top guy and he certainly doesn't want the responsibility in an official manner. After going around the room of former leaders, Clint takes the top spot. Second in command goes to Carol which just raises further continuity questions considering what happened in her own book this week.

Clint's first act as official team leader is to tell Spider-Man to either unmask or boot. This takes up several pages. Because of One More Day, no one knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. His identity is hidden from EVERYONE who used to know. That includes Norman Osborn, Mary-Jane, and all his friends in real life or the super-hero community. Also the general public who had found out during the early days of the Civil War. You'd think Peter wouldn't just pull the mask back off easily and, honestly, he very nearly walks away. But this is a Bendis book.

This brings up a revelation that didn't come up last time Peter unmasked. Jessica Jones knows him. They went to school together and she had a huge crush on him back in junior high. This all goes over awkwardly all around especially with her husband getting just a bit jealous and Peter barely knowing who she was. Jessica ends up leaving upset. Peter, of course, tells the group that this is important and that no one can tell anyone else but you know that Wolverine is already texting his ID to the X-Men. Once the cat's out of the bag, it's frickin' OUT. Unless Dr. Strange undoes this entire scene by the end of the arc which is highly likely.

The meeting is interrupted by a loud crash coming from the next room and everyone runs in to investigate. They find an injured Dr. Strange, drooling on the wood floor, spewing out magic glitter, and begging for help.

ma23.jpgThe Mighty Avengers #23
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Khoi Pham

Because of the magic super mega event happening in Mighty Avengers, Asgard has been blanked out of existence. Well, not THAT out of existence but enough so that the Asgardians first believe that it is the world that has ceased existing. Loki seems especially frustrated considering he/she has been trapped in multiple ways before as punishment for being a dirtbag. Thor actually shows little hope that the rest of the world will survive anything that could banish Asgard.

And with leaders like Hank Pym around, who can blame him? It's a good thing that Iron Man has shown up and taken over. Granted, at this point, Iron Man's record isn't much better. Still, Stark's got a pair of brass ones on him and is certainly a more capable leader than wishy-washy-watch-how-smart-I-am Hank Pym. The two exchange verbal barbs before Iron Man just takes over anyway. He orders the chains shackling up Bova (cow lady) to be removed and used on Modred along with a mouth gag, figuring that the iron will help weaken his magical powers and the gag will prevent any casting.

Bova reveals that the real bad guy is Chthon and that he's taken Quicksilver's body, trapping the mutant speedster in the Darkhold book. Pietro writes out in the book that Bova's telling the truth. Herc is able to guess why Chthon thought this was the best time to strike. During Secret Invasion, Demogorge was killed as a member of Hercules' God Squad. Demo was apparently the only Elder God that kepts Chthon in check.

Fortunately, defeating Chthon will cause everything to snap back to normal. It's just beating an Elder God isn't exactly easy.

Amadeus Cho calls in with more bad news. Theres a "tidal wave of tentacles" bearing down on Wundagore. It'll be on them all shortly. Tony Stark confirms this with satellite footage. It's time to get busy.

Stark chooses two Avengers, Hercules and USAgent. Pym whines that they'd switch leaders this quickly but the two point out that there are more important things than his friggin' ego right now. There's a world to save and Hank keeps dragging his feet. So, Iron Man and his Captain America and Thor replacements head off on their mission while the rest of the assembled watches Hank sulk.

So, while Chthon returns to Wundagore, Iron Man and his Avengers start chipping away at the Elder God's power source: Wundagore Mountain itself. This starts to weaken Chthon so he calls in his tentacle army and makes his way towards the mountain. Pym and the remaining Avengers have joined Amadeus, Jarvis, and Jocasta and are watching Chthon, wondering if they should intervene or not.

When Amadeus learns of Tony's plan, he freaks. Wundagore Mountain is full of uranium! Destroying it would cause the entire area to go up in a nice explosion. Hank is certain that Tony would never do anything like that but is informed that, while Tony was top cop, he had a contingency plan in place to transport Manhattan to the Negative Zone when Hulk took it over. They don't tell him that Manhattan was mostly evacuated of everyone besides those hailing Hulk as their hero, his alien army, and an assortment of heroes or that it was Tony's job to make hard decisions like that. Right now, it's more important that it give Hank motivation to act.

I'd also argue with Amadeus's nuclear theory but a mountain of uranium is a LOT and it's explosive qualities are entirely possible depending on what kind of uranium it is. I'm also not that great with nuclear physics so I'll just bow out on that. :)

So Hank Pym finally leads his Avengers into action only to be quickly stopped by Chthon before he even gets the battle cry out. Luckily, this group of Avengers includes the Green Goliath. The Scarlet Witch's astral form appears and taunts Banner into changing into the Hulk. Suddenly, it's an actual battle. While Hulk does his thing, Hank tries to use Chthon's belief-based powers against him by redirecting them but just hearing Hank try to calm the world down causes people to panic even more. No one believes in Hank Pym.

Since Chthon is now super charged (thanks, Hank) he's got more than enough power to stop Iron Man and his Avengers from destroying Mount Wundagore. This quickly accomplished, he returns his attention to the remaining Avengers for the endgame. But don't worry, people, Hank Pym has a plan and it won't suck as much as all his other plans. He won't even build a killer robot this time.

Yes, it might look ridiculous but he's gonna save the world with his Ant-Man helmet. Just watch.

Chthon tries to cast more magic but he's suddenly talking pure gibberish. Using the Ant-Man helmet, Pym is able to scramble the language center of Chthon's host's brain. Not being able to speak the magic words, Chthon only has his mutant speed to play with and the other Avengers are quick to make sure he isn't able to capitalize on that.

We're not done yet, though. Modred has worked himself out of his gag and uses his magic to draw Chthon's essence out of Quicksilver's body and into his own. Hank works to adjust his helmet for Modred but Amadeus has another idea. He grabs the Darkhold and throws it to Vision, asking the Young Avenger to read it as fast as he can. That empties the Darkhold and downloads Pietro into the Vision (because the Vision needs more brainwaves). While Chthon stands triumphant as Modred, it is a short victory. He's quickly drawn back into the empty book where he belongs.

Hank, having a brain imprinter standard in his mini-lab, puts Pietro back where he should be. The world has snapped back to it's proper place as well. Tony Stark? He's off to be the World's Most Wanted over in his own title. Besides, Hank actually won the day. Tony still isn't all that convinced that Hank'll be a good Avengers leader and I'm pretty sure he's not happy about him being the new Wasp, either. He leaves Pym with three words of advice.

Don't screw up.

Because it's a long fall down, man. A long fall.

Hank tells the Avengers that he's forming up his own team and that there came a day like no other... y'know usual stuff. Hulk obviously isn't hanging around long term but he's always fun for an arc or two. Pietro also has his own path to walk but, seeing his sister, Wanda, teleport everyone back to where they started from, he suddenly REALLY wants to be an Avenger again.

Aftermath is aftermathlike. USAgent leaves Omega Flight to join the Mighty Avengers. Vision and Stature wrestle with the news that Billy and Tommy's possible/maybe mother is back (and I still think that makes entirely no sense but, hey, "chaos magic"). The entire world thanks Hank Pym for actually saving the day and we all watch as Norman Osborn admits that he had nothing to do with saving the world.

Asgard is also back where it belongs. While the other Asgardians celebrate, Loki steps back to see what she has done. Loki has removed another god of chaos from the board. A new team of Avengers has been formed. All it took was a few spells and an illusion to make her look just like the Scarlet Witch. This time, she's going to maintain control over her Avengers.

tb130.jpgThunderbolts #130
Writer: Andy Diggle
Penciler: Bong Dazo

Deadpool has infiltrated Avengers Tower to take out Norman Osborn only to find that Osborn's not there. He's at the Oscorp Building, monitoring the whole thing. No worries, though. He left a greeting party.

The Thunderbolts.

The Headsman is first up because, when you fight someone as a team, teamwork is the last thing to think about. Anyway, one on one is NOT the way to fight the Merc with a Mouth. It's actually a good way to get to relearn a bit about Headsman, though, because he's had very few comic appearances. After some witty banter, DP gets the better of the Headsman and only the timely intervention of the Ghost's intangibility powers saves him from a grenade-caused explosive end.

The T-Bolts finally attack enmass but the resultant destruction just clears a path of escape for Wade Wilson.

It's not EXACTLY apparent yet, but the T-Bolts are leading Deadpool around. Right now, they're leading him right into a science division of some sort. Still, I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now, the Thunderbolts' leader, Black Widow (Yelena Belova, not Natasha Romanoff) continues to press the Merc by releasing a barrage of Ant-Man.

Ant-Man does his sting thing, causing Wade to crash into some expensive science equipment before flying off-panel. This gives Wade a chance to grab a vital scientific doohickey and question a loitering scientific dude about it. It turns out it's an experimental short-range teleporter and, before Deadpool can learn anything else, he dons the device.

Belova demands Wade put the device down but, since we know he won't do that, she lobs a grenade his way. The explosion sends him out the window where he teleports seconds before hitting the ground.

To Black Widow, that's a big "Mission Accomplished." That still means success, right? OK, just checking. I've seen it used otherwise before and I just wanted to make sure.

Deadpools making his temporary headquarters in a smelting plant located in Jersey. He's on the line with a mysterious friend, trying to recruit him into helping him take down Norman Osborn. The mysterious friend freaks out when he learns they're talking about teaching Osborn a lesson and especially about transmitting it back and forth where someone might pick it up. Wade says he can use the teleporter to port right to the location and take care of that... unless the mysterious friend is having too much fun "playin' good guy..." Honestly? I have no clue who this is and I really want to make a guess. I'd guess a Dark Avenger ("playin' good guy") but their location is Connecticut. Huh.

The T-Bolts are tracking Deadpool with a tracer planted by Ant-Man in a previous scene. They are enroute and getting chewed out by Osborn at the same time. Yes, they were supposed to let Deadpool escape so they could track him and find out what he has told Nick Fury about Osborn's operation but they caused a lot more property damage than Osborn would have liked. The plan is to have Ghost investigate Wilson's communications rig and, once it's emptied out, kill Deadpool with death. A lot of death. Wade doesn't die easily and even when he does it doesn't tend to last long.

Once Osborn signs off, there's some discussion on how much a jerk he is but Black Widow quiets that kind of talk. Respect for your commanding officer is important. With that, the mission is on like Donkey Kong.

Everyone takes their positions and preps for the op. Black Widow brings the heavy gear. Her rifle is loaded with anti-cancer bullets. They kill cancer, which is the only thing keeping Wade's healing factor in check (as the healing factor is also the only thing keeping the cancer in check-deadlock). Yes, they've made curing cancer into a biological weapon with... only one target. Your tax dollars at work!

Inside Deadpool's headquarters, he's loading up with every weapon he can possibly carry. This is big time. He's also still discussing stuff like "how to kill a Skrull-Queen" with our mysterious friend. The friend picks up the incoming trouble before DP does. His base suddenly collapses around him.

The T-Bolts enter en masse. Still, Wade's not talking this time. Ant-Man has no warning when he's suddenly spritzed with Bug Gone. It effects his systems and removes him from battle. Deadpool's katana passes through Ghost with no effect but his sonic emitter has different, and deadly, results. That's two down.

Paladin and Headsman are able to avoid KO by sonics. Deadpool quickly dodges and weaves his way close to Paladin and scores a nice kick to his face. We'll never learn exactly how Deadpool dealt with Headsman the second time but, considering how quickly he beat him the first, we'll assume it was similar.

Black Widow is monitoring all this from her sniper position as she learns that Deadpool's tracer just went dead. As much as the Avengers Tower situation was a set up by the T-Bolts, this whole battle was a trap set up by Deadpool. Before Yelena knows what's what, Wade has a gun to her head. It's game over.

Except, Wade's one weakness is the ladies. He sees her without her spidey goggles on and it's love at first sight. I think Wade might have lost his advantage...

wm4.jpgWar Machine #4
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Leonardo Manco

Y'know, I've already done a lot of comics so far this week and, surprisingly, had no flashback sequences yet. So, naturally, my streak ends here.

I've no real problem with flashback sequences. They're solid storytelling devices but way too overused. Sometimes, you'll find a flashback sequence interrupted by yet ANOTHER flashback sequence. Things get out of control and there are other storytelling techniques that might better be used to tell a story. I'm happy I made it this far, honestly. :)

So, yeah, we get a scene straight out of Jim Rhodes' childhood when he first met Glenda Sandoval. She was killing ants with a magnifying glass. Before Jim can join in, his mother pulls him away by his ear amd tells him to stop playing with the trash. Yeah, Jim's mom loved Glenda.

Nowadays, Glenda's infected by an Ultimo contangion. Yes. Someone made a biological weapon out of Ultimo. Probably right after they made one out of curing cancer. The Marvel Universe is messed up.

Glenda's not alone, either. Ares just opened up a whole room filled with Ultimo contaminated people. Lieutenant Oh, Ares, and Rhodey (along with assorted cannon fodder) are in big, big trouble. Ares doesn't care, he gets to fire his guns with reckless abandon. It's a good day to be the god of war.

Back on Rhodey's stealth satellite, Glenda's husband, Parnell just wants Rhodey to stick with the mission. Grab Glenda and get the hell out of there like planned! Bethany Cabe, speaking from the War Machine R & D Facility mentions that's not really the plan now that she's infected with Ultimo. Taking her out wouldn't make her less a killing machine.

Soon, it's not even an issue. Ares has downed every Ultimo infected person and Lieutenant Oh isn't able to save Glenda. War Machine immediately takes his frustrations out on the god of war. Ares, of course, just doesn't understand this dude. Are you a killer or not, Rhodey? You're really messing with Ares' head.

Rhodey must have some sort of idea that this isn't actually over yet because he asks Bethany to get a hold of Suzi Endo for him. Endo's not really talking to Jim because of the whole killing thing but Ultimo is just too enticing.

Suzi is in Hong Kong. She takes the call but she's hardly civil. Rhodey sends her all the data he and the flyspies have collected on the Ultimo Virus. He wants to know if it's still contagious on death and if there's any other stuff to worry about. He then tells Ares what his deal is. The Ultimo contaminated people, particularly Glenda, are innocents. Jim reiterates how he spent three days collecting all the data he could about the scum bags populating the earth and, unlike a normal person, his machine parts make it so he can never forget. He has to do something about it so that means killing killers.

Ares figures it's storytime and tells his own story about how he faced the Aloadai giants alone when they threatened Olympus. That didn't go well. He was captured and placed inside a brazen urn for a year and a month until one of the Olympians, Hermes, finally got around to rescuing him. Unfortunately, he wasn't that grateful and punished Hermes for taking so long. Ares then shares his philosophy. There's no just reason to kill. There's just killing. Sometimes, the reason makes you a hero, sometimes a monster.

Today, it's hero. Maybe tomorrow they'll be calling you something else.

Before the end of his little speech, it's learned that killing Ultimo infected innocents is NOT as simple as applying liberal machine gun artillery. The Ultimo people rise up and attack the soldiers that so recently were trying to save their lives. Looks like War Machine and Ares need to return to battle.

War Machine runs straight to the rescue of Lieutenant Oh only to learn that he's the last uninfected normal guy still running around. The rest of his team succumbed to the Ultimo infection themselves and Suzi is quick to announce that the infection is spread through touch. Endo tells Rhodes there's only one option. Burn 'em all down to cinder. Rhodey protests because he's not here to kill innocents and that's what these guys still ARE. Glenda's the one to point out that, just because you're innocent, doesn't mean you can't be dangerous.

Bethany and Suzi finally convince him it's the only option he has. He unleases a firestorm (not the DC character) and, filled with remorse and at a breaking point, he blacks out.

Kinda. Apparently, his cybernetic bits prevent him from fully blacking out. He continues talking to Bethany. Rhodey is ready to rejoin the human race but he's about to get some bad news. Remember that break-in HAMMER pulled back in the first issue? All they stole was the cloned body. Jim is gonna have to wait a bit while they grow another one.

On the ground, Lieutenant Oh is prepping Jim's body for transport. War Machine has been pushed just as far as he can go. Bethany tells him that they'll put him in stasis until a new body is ready for him because being War Machine is killing him. Not even softly anymore.

Jim awakes with a start and he's definitely not ready for sleeping again. He's a lot more interested in locating Ares.

In the capital city of Aqiria, a US Senator is appearing on camera to show us how safe it is to walk on the streets of an occupied city. Never mind the body armor and squadron of military escorts. It's totally safe... until an Ultimo infected Ares and his equally infected followers show up. Is that Glenda? How many times was she killed this issue? Well, at least Jim might get a chance to actually rescue her then.

mm37.jpgMs. Marvel #37
Writer: Brian Reed
Penciler: Patrick Olliffe

So, yeah. Known terrorist, Ghazi Rashid, is all powered up with the help of Ascension. Carol's still got power but using it is killing her and causing a lot of pain. She's just learned that her partner and ex-lover, Michael Rossi, was a CIA Agent known as Vitamin who they both were "hunting" way back in the day. The only one Carol can really trust right now is Rick Mason and they started off as enemies.

In short, suddenly Ms. Marvel is actually fun to read. It must be time for Carol to die.

So, we start our issue with Ghazi's revalation that Rossi was Vitamin. Carol is stunned. From his sniper position, Rossi's a little stunned himself. Ghazi wasn't supposed to have that information. Mason's still running to Rashid and Danver's position but he's getting all this through their feed. He questions Rossi on it but gets no answer.

Carol is ready for a nice drag down, though. Long time readers of Marvel Comics will know that, back in the day, Carol's powers and memories were stolen by Rogue who later joined the X-Men and had to deal with Carol's personality taking over for quite a while. Carol's memories were restored to her by Professor Xavier but her emotional attachment to them never returned. Because of this, she felt much more comfortable hanging out with the Starjammers as Binary than staying on earth with people that were, essentially, strangers.

Rashid has just changed that for her. Her captivity and torture at his hands is the only memory from the past that has any emotional weight. She's pissed off and decides to confront him in full super-hero glory. Looks like she's gonna die in her Ms. Marvel suit.

The fight takes to the air and we quickly learn that Rashid can fly. He can fly! Pixie dust not included.

Rick Mason finally makes the scene but, at this point, there's not a whole lot he can do. Super powered battle going on and all he brought was a handgun? Oops.

Carol's learning she can't fair much better. She's hitting him with all she has and it's just not making a dent. The big problem is that, while Rashid's attacks aren't really doing much better on her, her own powers are causing her some serious pain. Suddenly, she flairs up in a very Binary-like way. She's suddenly on overcharge and it's making the pain that much worse.

She pulls in her powers as much as she can and unleashes quite a bit of it in one last attempt to take Ghazi Rashid down. She ends up burning her opponent quite badly and leaving a nice burnt-out hand print on his face but even that doesn't kill him. It looks like it's enough to make him pass out, though.

With that, we get right down to the last moments with Carol. Mason runs as close to her as he's able and the two get some final words in. Mason promises to deal with Michael Rossi but, right now, he really just wants to help Carol. Again, he's not really equipped to do that. Carol realizes that it's probably not a good idea to explode in a populated area and tries to reach the upper atmosphere before she goes.

It's a nice big explosion, isn't it?

Mason, watches for a while but he's got more important things to do. He runs to Rossi's last known position but makes sure to announce on the com that he's coming. Michael finally uses the line to talk back to him and inform him that, yes, everything went according to plan... even Mason running up to Rossi's sniper position. There's explosives to greet him when he gets there and the timer is already down to two seconds.

Down at ground level, Rashid is waking up and he's not happy with being so burned. He watches the rooftop explosion as Mason apparently buys it before getting a nice punch to the face to knock him back unconcious. Rossi isn't ready for Rashid to be awake right now.

Three days later, Rossi is still waiting for his money to arrive for this job. He's about to get sorely disappointed. He's talking the matter over with Norman Osborn on an internet feed when Osborn informs him that he's not ever getting paid. Rick Mason WILL however give him his reward for major jerkholeness.

Wait, Rick Mason? Didn't he just die two pages ago? Turns out he's one of the many offspring of the Tinkerer and had some gadget on hand to save his life in the event of a close range explosion. No other explanation is given. Rick's the guy with the gun and, since we're not dealing with a major super-powered battle, it is actually useful. Mason gets some last minute confessions with Rossi before Osborn asks to get the execution going.

Mason fires multiple shots in Rossi's dead form just to make sure the job's done. With that, Osborn informs Rick that his father has been released from prison and his criminal record has been wiped clean. It's always better to barter with Osborn instead of asking for money. Still, Mason isn't smart enough to just let the matter go. He blames Norman as mush as Rossi for Carol's death and makes sure to tell the former Green Goblin of his intentions to destroy the man.

Still, Norman's not all that worried. He's in Avengers Tower and decides to go tell Karla Sofen the good news. She's the only Ms. Marvel left standing. Looks like someone's just got herself a book deal.

ih127.jpgThe Incredible Hercules #127
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Dietrich Smith

With so many relaunches, The New Warriors have a lot of former members. One member that was part of the late nineties/ early double zeros incarnation was Aegis. He is a champion of Athena and wears a mystical breastplate, the Aegis, that protects him from all harm.

Aegis showed up in Civil War anti-reg. While it was seen that he finally registered in Avengers: The Initiative, his dialogue here makes it apparent that he actually didn't. Don't be confused. It's just bad continuity. It doesn't actually effect the plot.

Aegis still patrols his home neighborhood in the Lincoln Housing Project, Brooklyn and keeps the neighborhood as clean as he can. Unfortunately, he's about to be the first casualty of a war between gods. He arrives home to find the greek god, Huntsman, waiting. While Aegis can protect himself through his breastplate, Huntsman works WITH that power, strengthening the breastplate's protection until it cuts off Aegis' ability to breath. Aegis is forced to lower it's protection but, instead of allowing Huntsman to take his life, he opts for jumping out the window, trusting that Athena will save him from death. Unfortunately, the rules have changed.

The next day, Athena, Hercules, and Amadeus Cho are in a greek diner in Manhattan waiting for a meeting with their rivals. Athena's a little upset that Herc and Cho have joined up with the Mighty Avengers but it's their free time. Herc believes that this adventure was just the thing to lift Amadeus's spirits after his failed romantic runaround with the new leader of the Amazons, Delphyne Gorgon (and, yes, she's a gorgon). Cho's not exactly thrilled that Herc keeps bringing that up. But now, it's time for a meeting.

Hera shows up and she's brought Typhon with her. Typhon is a snake-legged monster who SHOULD be serving out a life/death sentence in Tartarus but was freed by Pluto to join up with Hera. Hercules isn't all that happy about this and makes to attack before being warned by the satyr diner owner, Silenius, that this is a sanctuary and to move to violence will cause retribution by the Furies (not the Furries).

Herc calms himself and the meeting between Hera and Athena begins. Athena has lost her controlling interest in the Olympus Group and she's been booted from the Board of Directors. Hera is, as always, a vengeful goddess. She's angry that Athena called a Council of Godheads without consulting her. Remember the Council? It occurred back during Secret Invasion in the Hercules book and led to Herc leading the God Squad against the Skrull gods.

Athena claims that she wasn't given time to clear her actions since timing was of the essence. That answer isn't good enough for Hera and she smashes a table and demands her due. With that, she's about to get a mythology lesson from Amadeus Cho.

Cho relates just why you shouldn't mess with Athena. It's also the origin of said goddess. I'll relate it here for the three people that don't know it. Zeus was told by the Fates that his child with the Titaness, Metis, would surpass him so he did what his father and grandfather did when given similar prophesy. He ate Metis. Good plan right? It worked so well before. Anyway, Zeus gets a headache and, in order to relieve it, Hephaestos cracks his skull open. Athena launches out fully armored and fully grown and becomes the goddess of war and wisdom. So, just like his daddy, Zeus couldn't prevent a prophesy from fulfilling itself. Athena was born and is supposed to surpass her father.

So maybe Hera should just, y'know, back off a bit.

Not really Hera's style, though, this backing off thing. She still demands that Athena bow before her but THAT is not Athena's style. With that, Hera and Typhon take their leave with threats handed out to all. Hera also lets Athena know that one of her champions might have already fallen. Just FYI.

Athena knows immediately who she's talking about and our three heroes rush off to find out the Fate of the former New Warrior. That leaves the diner with quite a bit of damage and Silenius alone to effect repairs.

On Wall Street, Norman Osborn arrives to christen this book with the Dark Reign banner and thus help to increase it's sales for the next few months. He's also here to hear a business proposal delivered by Hera Panhellenios. Hera is offering premium rates on something called Continuum®. Now, even though Osborn has Ares, god of war, on his team of Avengers, he's not at all convinced that these people are from mythology. They're all just loons with power to him, and he certainly understands loons with power. Still, he'll give her seven minutes to sell him on this Continuum® thing.

And, of course, she fails to do so. Osborn's not happy with whatever Continuum® is and is even less happy to learn it's already being rolled out. Hera belittles Osborn's position because, well, she's Hera, but the big problem is Osborn is far more powerful than Hera believes and she's not half as powerful as she thinks. Or maybe I'm wrong. The point is, threats are made on both sides and words are said that you can never take back. With that, Osborn leaves.

And Hera gets ready to keep on rolling out Continuum®.

Athena, Hercules, and Amadeus Cho are tracking Aegis while Hercules tells Cho just who Aegis is (which I already did above, so there). Their trail leads to an abandoned warehouse that is obviously a trap. The warehouse is owned by Excello: the company that sponsored the internet game show that Amadeus won shortly before his parents were killed. Athena relates that Excello is owned by the Olympus Group.

So, this being a trap, Herc decides to spring it as is Hercules' mission in life. The three find Aegis' body and Athena says good-bye to one of her champions right before the big god confrontation begins. Athena armors up as Hera and the Olympus Group arrive. The Olympus Group is composed of Pluto, Hunstman, Typhon, and Delphyne... Delphyne being the most awkward member considering her past relationship with Amadeus.

Athena uses up some time in insulting Hera before Hercules rushes into... oh wait. It's the Dark Avengers. Looks like Norman's not here to pick sides. He's just here to stop the entire thing.

dre1.jpgDark Reign: Elektra #1
Writer: Zeb Wells
Penciler: Clay Mann

At the end of Secret Invasion, all those people that had been kidnapped and replaced were rescued by Iron Man. SHIELD took over from there to process those coming out of the ship and give everyone mandatory examinations. One of those on the ship was Elektra. She was probably most in need of a good examination but wasn't willing to submit to one. She tries to escape SHIELD custody only to be quickly pursued.

In her current condition, she is actually subdued even though she makes it messy for the SHIELD agents that pursued her. Still, before she's euthenized with extreme prejudice, her life is saved by Tony Stark. Today's not a day for killing humans. It's a day for killing Skrulls. What Elektra needs is immediate medical attention and Iron Man orders that it happen.

Unfortunately, the aftermath of Secret Invasion causes a lot of changes. Originally, SHIELD doctors set out to just that. The doctor in charge is simply trying to make Elektra better but she's been injected with some pretty crappy Skrull stuff that is messing around with diagnostics. The healing devices don't even seem to be working and it's only when Elektra is given time to meditate that she's able to effect and healing of her own. Still, changes they are a comin' and the complete shutdown of SHIELD is here. The benevolent doctor is given the boot as HAMMER overuns his position and Elektra is put into the hands of Norman Osborn.

The new doctor is much less nice. Sadistic might be the best term. She's there to make Elektra as uncomfortable as possible and make sure that there will be none of this meditating or healing. Pain is also applied. Elektra is interrogated to learn everything she knows about the Skrulls, what they did to her, and why. She's not talking. At all.

Osborn meets with her new doctor and makes sure that Hawkeye (y'know, Bullseye, the guy who killed her a while back) isn't allowed any visitation. He lets the doctor know that her mandate is to find out everything she can about what the Skrulls did to her before Elektra is able to overcome the treatments. Go to and do.

Months pass. Our sadistic doctor is bringing in a new assistant to the project. We get some background on the differences between SHIELD and HAMMER (such as their happiness at promoting sadists) before the new assistant is introduced to his new work area.

Good morning Elektra! How's the torture coming? Elektra is hooked up to a very messed up harness that keeps her body in an uncomfortable position at all times. She's also plugged into a number of monitoring stations and we've got surrounding monitors all around the room that transmit her thoughts through pictures. Now, for example, she's thinking a whole lot about killing the "good" doctor and escaping. It's a common scenario and the doctor uses her command glove to turn off the monitors before watching Elektra kill her.

If you're paying attention, the command gloves worn by the doctor and her assistant pretty much controls everything in the room. That'll be important very soon... like right now.

It turns out that the assistant isn't who the sadist doctor things he is. He's actually a mercenary known to the world as Paladin. Yeah, the current Thunderbolt. He quickly hacks into the system and corrupts the network. The doctor tries to sound the alarm with her glove but is taken out by a stun gun. Paladin then uses her glove to wake up Elektra.

Elektra wakes up to find Paladin looming over her. Paly's all about talking and we learn that he's pretty upset that Elektra killed the General, an old army friend of his. He turns on her thought monitors and gets a replay of his friend's death. Paladin loses control and strikes her in the face, loosening a tooth.

Still, Paladin is here for assassination to the tune of eighty-two million dollars. It's enough to make him risk his job in the T-Bolts. All he has to do is provide proof of the kill and get her reaction to when he says a certain phrase: "The stars are safe in the sky." What that does is bring up the whole battle scene between her and her Skrull counterpart.

This is all leading up to a very botched job, of course. Paladin activates his command glove but, before he's able to give it an order, Elektra spits that broken tooth down his throat, causing him to choke. She fills in the order for him. "Release prisoner."

It's the only words she's going to speak this issue, so cherish them and the remarkable turn around they entail.

Still, choking, Paladin tries to turn this back around, firing his weapon at the ninja. Elektra is able to block the shots with a conveniuently located metal rod. She then uses it as a spear to take down her assailant.

Making her way to the torture equipment, she grabs a dagger and disconnects most of the wires hooking her up to the monitors. They still display her last thoughts though, and those thoughts lead to Paladin's death. He'll want to prevent that if at all possible and hands over his command glove so he can keep breathing.

The sadistic doctor wakes up just in time to beg for her life. Elektra actually doesn't kill her. She just cuts off her red scarf.

She whispers a command into the command glove that we aren't able to understand and that the doctor really wants to know. We're only given a small panel to find out that the prisoner's harness is grabbing the sadistic doctor and securing her. We can only imagine by the screams that they're starting straight up with the uncomfortable body posturing.

By this point, HAMMER agents are on the way to prevent Elektra's escape. She's just about ready to face them. Taking the doctor's scarf, she wraps it around her forehead. It's game time.

nm15.jpgNew Mutants #15
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema

Now, you might know that this story actually begins over in Uncanny X-Men #180. I'd go over that, too but have you seen the size of this article? I'm just lucky if you're still reading. Short version is that Kitty Pryde and Doug Ramsey are on their way to the Massachusetts Academy. Kitty's banking on the fact that Emma Frost is in a coma and on the X-Men monitoring the situation to keep them safe from the Hellfire Club. The problem is that Emma's not in a coma anymore and the X-Men are soon drawn into the Secret War (the first one). Suddenly, she and Doug aren't safe any longer.

This issue begins with Illyana Rasputin casting a magic spell in order to look in on her friend Kitty. Her astral form glides quickly to the Massachusetts Academy to find Kitty dressed in a strange uniform and trapped in a chair before the White Queen. She's apparently being slowly brainwashed by the White Queen into joining the Hellfire Club. Her powers are shut down so there's no escape from that chair. Emma quickly burns down every one of Kitty's hopes. The X-Men haven't arrived and Doug doesn't even remember that they were abducted. Right now, he's living out a romantic night with Kitty that, of course, really isn't happening. She then threatens Kitty's parents. It's the full game, right here.

It's around this point that Kitty notices Illyana's astral form and lets out an excalmation. This causes Emma to see Illyana as well and the White Queen blasts her with psychic power.

Back at the X-Mansion, Illyana screams, waking up the New Mutants. They rush to her room to find it filled with demons. They're all coming out of Illyana and they need to be rounded up. Most everyone runs around to do just that as Danielle Moonstar sticks around to deal with Illyana.

Being novices, the New Mutants have their troubles with these demons but, for the most part, they beasts dissolve with a touch. The only one that has any real trouble ahead of her is Moonstar.

While the demons vaporize with a touch, there's a lot more of them in this room and they sting. Moonstar uses her power to draw out the demons' fear only to learn that it is Illyana herself that most frightens the monsters. Illyana collects the stunned form of the Cheyenne and lays her on the bed. The rest of the New Mutants are done with their chase and it's just about time for a team meeting.

Illyana explains that she's a sorceress and she was caught in the middle of a spell. She then relates just how big of trouble Kitty Pryde is in. The New Mutants knows they are no match for the Hellfire Club and, since the X-Men seem pretty unavailable, they try calling the Fantastic Four and the Avengers to help them out. They're all wrapped up in Secret War, though, so it looks like we're back to square one.

After a good deal of back and forth, the kids agree to attempt a rescue. With a severe lack of transportation, the kids are forced to collect up their money are make their way to the bus stop. That's right. They're bussing it to Massachusetts. Good times.

The bus trip is a good time to plan out what they're going to do when they get to the Academy and that's exactly what Danielle is doing. Cannonball is basically checking up on everyone and checking on how they're doing. Bobby and Amara are simply enjoying the sights. Illyana is sequestered off being the demon princess that she is. Rahne, being a one trick pony back then, is worried that she's a demon and evil. That was pretty much what she did. Every issue. Over and over. It totally didn't get old.

Finally, they reach their location and break into the Massachusetts Academy from below. It's times like this that having a fire and earth elemental works to your advantage. The team quickly runs to where Illyana last saw Kitty only to discover that the Kitty currently in the room is a holographic illusion.

The White Queen was ready for them and Kitty is apparently already in her power!

nm16.jpgNew Mutants #16
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema

That's right! Trap! Hellfire men rush the location but Cannonball is ready for them. He gives Amara a silent command and Magma fires up her mutant powers, releasing a low level earthquake as well as a blinding burst of light. The quake causes a power black out and, by the time the emergency back-ups are activated, the New Mutants have escaped. The White Queen orders them captured and returns to her brainwashing of Kitty Pryde.

Emma claims that she's already won the battle for Kitty Pryde but Shadowcat continues to deny it. We're given a good look at what motivates our future X-Man. Emma wants to control the world. She figures controlling mutants, super-powered commodities, is a good power play. So, the more mutants under her roof, the better. Gotta catch 'em all.

Elsewhere, the New Mutants are planning their next move. They decide splitting up will give them the best chances of success and are also able to take down to Hellfire women and steal some costumes. Illyana and Moonstar dress up in those and our teams are on their way. Sam and Amara take the lower route, relying on Amara's ability to move the two through the earth. They are able to reach the main generators and cause a more permanent black out.

Emma is impressed by this display. Still, she doesn't believe they've won yet by any stretch of the term.

With the black out, kids drain out of their dorm rooms to find out what's going on. Sam and Amara try to lose themselves in the crowd while Sam tries not to seem TOO interested in his fellow student. Unfortunately, it's really hard to hide in a crowd when you're wearing bright yellow spandex. They are quickly sighted from above by a flyer.

Illyana and Danielle, wearing their Hellfire uniforms, do a better job at blending in with the rest of the Hellfire underlings. Still, something is tracking them from the ceiling.

Still, the first to actually meet the enemy is the team of Bobby and Rahne. They quickly run into Thunderbird and his fist. Yep. It's Emma's version of the New Mutants: The Hellions. Rahne is able to to surprise Thunderbird and gain the upperhand, but there's another Hellion on the scene to even things up. Roulette gives Rahne a spot of bad luck, burying her under a book case. Sunspot goes for the rescue but even more bad luck causes him to hurt his back while lifting the book case from his werewolf teammate. That's two down.

When Rahne is attacked by a rogue book case, her psychic rapport with Danielle causes her to feel the pain. As such, her and Illyana are caught completely off guard when attacked by Catseye and Tarot. Tarot's power is to bring cards to life and she sends a Devil straight for the Cheyenne.

So far, Sam and Amara have been able to stay safe and even make it all the way to Doug Ramsey's room before encountering Empath. His power is to control people's emotions which he quickly uses to make the New Mutants love him. The battle's almost over before it's begun but Doug interrupts things and breaks Empath's concentration. Sam doesn't appreciate having his emotions messed with and decks the Hellion. Before he can KO his sparring partner, the last Hellion makes the scene and takes Cannonball outside. Meet Jetstream who's mutant power is... um...

Emma's a little annoyed that her students aren't able to keep the damage to a minimum, but they're young. They'll learn in time. Or they'll be like the X-Men and just make more and more damage every battle. Probably the latter.

Empath recovers and uses his powers to make Amara really angry at Cannonball. She can't hurt him while he's blasting but she sure can hurt Jetstream. Cannonball hesitates only a moment before rescuing the Hellion from a fatal crash. Amara is able to score another hit soon after, though, and Cannonball crashes to the ground with his passenger. Empath is distracted and releases his hold on Amara right before Cannonball flies up from underground to score another hit and incapacitate another Hellion. That's right. They just beat their attackers. Unfortunately, Emma's there for clean up. She entices Cannonball with visions of Amara if only she were from Kentucky. Amara sees her mother. Both are captured as Doug is returned to his room to forget the whole incident.

The only New Mutants left standing are Illyana and Moonstar. Danielle is fighting a losing battle against the devil while Illyana is being manhandled by the cat-like Catseye. The first to recover is Rasputin. She summons her soul sword and strikes, causing the Hellion to release her. She then slashes the Devil which explodes. Tarot summons a riding foe which unbalances the New Mutant. Emma again shows up to end things but Illyana is able to teleport with Danielle before they're taken prisoner.

nm17.jpgNew Mutants #17
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Tom Mandrake

Jetstream isn't happy that Empath got him shot out of the sky. He tries taking it out on the mutant only to have his emotions controlled. The Hellions, unlike the New Mutants, don't really like each other. They're not here for the same reasons. They're hear to be conquerors, not heroes. As such, they are going to fight a whole lot more and be teammates a whole lot less.

Luckily, they have the White Queen to reign them in. She stops the fighting and begins the lesson. They sit around and discuss the previous mission and how it should have been handled.

Meanwhile, most of the New Mutants are prisoners of the White Queen. Instead of a dark cell, they're being kepts in a large dorm room. More comfortable, yes, but still a prison. Kitty attends to relieving the pain of Bobby's back while they talk over just what she's gone through. Emma shows up in astral form in order to, basically, gloat over her victory and tell everyone just how much Kitty is brainwashed even though the X-Man doesn't look it at all.

Illyana and Danielle ported out prior to capture and that landed them in Limbo. Moonstar's the first to wake up but she has no clue what's going on. She defends the body of Illyana from some local demons before S'ym shows up and takes them back to Illyana's palatial estate.

Illyana wakes up to find herself dressed as a princess and Danielle as her barbarian champion. Sometimes Claremont is... wierd. After banishing S'ym with a quick portal, Illyana uses a spell to heal herself and make Dani question if this is GOOD magic or EVIL magic. Illyana's a walking conundrum. They two then port back to earth to rescue their friends.

Unfortunately, they miss the right date and teleport a year into the future. That means they find everyone happily brainwashed.

Before they can port back to try again, Emma Frost is on the scene, trying to capture them. The two just barely make it out alive once more but their second attempt is more on the money. This time, no Emma Frost comes looking for them and they can just be thankful for that.

The two make their way to their companions after trying to contact the X-Men and getting no response. After waking Rahne and Sam up, they are discovered by the Hellions. Game over.

Only not so much. The Hellions aren't happy that the New Mutants are being forced to stay. They think everyone should have a choice so they propose a contest. If the New Mutants win, they can leave. If they lose, they HAVE to stay and they have to like it. The two sides choose their champions and then it's off to the Hellion's version of the Danger Room, The Combat Room, for a face off.

The New Mutants have chosen Cannonball (who really has little control over his abilities) while the Hellions went with Jetstream. It's probably this way so that the battle can have some air time and give the two a rematch but I would've chosen Kitty or Amara, who have much better control over their powers and, of course, Kitty's X-Men training. Still, it's a fun little battle and, in the end, Sam comes through with a pretty solid win. Still, Jetstream never does admit defeat. He's interrupted by the returning Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw.

The White Queen declares the contest null and void since she never sanctioned it. The New Mutants then attack the Hellfire leaders as the Hellions wonder what exactly to do. The New Mutants, of course, don't stand a chance to beat Frost and Shaw but they don't actually have to. They just need to escape. Kitty uses her powers to cause the Combat Room to go all screwy and, in the resultant confusion, the New Mutants teleport away with a little help from Hellion, Catseye, who still decides against joining them.

The New Mutants are finally home and free. There's still the matter of collecting Doug Ramsey but at least they got out alive and well. They just recognize that, while they could hold their own against the Hellions, attacking Shaw and Frost left them at a distinct disadvantage. They still have a lot to learn.

And that was WAY TOO MANY COMICS. Join us next time when I pretty much buy every Marvel comic for your pleasure. :P

Until then: Who Do YOU Trust?

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About the Author - SuperginraiX

SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.


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