Today, we check out War of Kings #2, New Avengers: The Reunion #2, Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2, Secret Warriors #3, Agents of Atlas #3, The Invincible Iron Man #12, Black Panther #3, and Blast to the Past with Journey Into Mystery # 91. Enjoy and spread the word!
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 44 previous articles. It's perfect for all your reading needs.
Let's break it down to the illest beats.
War of Kings #2
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
There's just nothing like intergalactic conflict to get the blood pumping! Well, unless you're Gladiator, Praetor of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. To him, this is just a job and he's not really all that into it. He's served under a variety a Shi'ar rulers, including the Mad Emperor D'ken, his sister Lilandra, their sister Deathbird, and, now, Vulcan. The list is full of more bad guys than good guys.
Vulcan has allowed his admirals full use of their ultimate weapon, the Nega-bomb, and is happy to see Kree fringeworlds go up in blazing infernos. Gladiator's feelings on this are hidden. Whether he enjoys or reviles this is unknown, even with him narrating this part of the story. It COULD be read like he disapproves or it could be him just believing this is a job and a service. Odds are pretty good he's not entirely happy with his part in this destruction, though. Right now, his job is delivering one of the former rulers of the Shi'ar Empire, Lilandra Neramani, to the current guy.
Vulcan does his best evil villain impersonation as he gloats before the fallen ruler. He wants her to stay in his presence as he and his bridge crew watch the Kree worlds burn. Then, there will be a royal execution. Good times! Again, this all seems to have some effect on Gladiator as he is witness to these events. He and Lilandra had some sort of relations somewhere down the line. If it was shown on panel, I've completely missed it or forgotten it but it was mentioned back in X-Men: Kingbreaker #3 so it's probably relevant.
On Hala, things are falling apart. While Medusa informs the Kree of the state of war that exists between the Kree and Shi'ar, riots are breaking out all over the place. You've got to remember that Black Bolt is new to the throne and not fully accepted. The Shi'ar attacks are blamed entirely on him and his Inhumans.
In Royal Council, Karnak is explaining just that to his family. Gorgon, just having had his leg mended up by healers after last issue's incident, is angry and just wants to get this war going so he can teach the infernal Shi'ar a lesson. This is easily agreed upon after the wedding fiasco from last issue. Heads must roll. Still, a war isn't what the Inhumans wanted. It interrupts their long term plans for the Kree. Karnak proposes quick action and decisive victory either by quickly bringing the Shi'ar to terms or inflicting heavy losses on their opponent so that it will take them a long time to recover.
Triton laughs how this is all sounding just like what the humans do. "A war to end all wars" type of thing. Still, in order to get that type of war, they need to rally the Kree. Unfortunately, their biggest supporter, Ronan, is still heavily injured and unable to help.
Speaking of, Crystal and Polaris are watching over Ronan right now. Crystal hasn't even changed out of her wedding clothes. Ronan is just this side of alive and his new wife is watching over him despite the fact that the wedding was a political maneuver. While her narrating captions clearly want us to believe she has no feeling for her new husband, Crystal's manners indicate otherwise. Lorna and the Starjammers are preparing to go rescue Lilandra and Lorna's trying to convince Crystal to join them but Ronan has other ideas.
He slowly speaks that, for the Kree, he gave up his power to Black Bolt. He believes that the Inhumans are the hope of the Kree people and their best chance at a future. He tells his wife to help not make him out to be a fool for doing so.
And with that, Lorna and Crystal are rushed out of the room so that the Accuser can get some rest. On the way back to her transport, Crystal encounters some victims of the recent Shi'ar attacks in the over crowded public wards. They haven't been well taken care of yet and there are a LOT of them. This is an area where Crystal shines, though. She visits with them and offers them comfort and support. More than that, her mastery of the elements is able to find water pipes and force them to the surface for use in these wards. Lorna, being much more politically minded than her sister-in-law, is quick to get cameras on her as she helps the commoners and brings them hope that, only together with the Inhumans, do they have a hope for a bright future that Vulcan and his Shi'ar are trying to take away.
The Inhuman Royal Family thinks this is nothing more than a political manuever when, of course, it was Cys's natural reaction to the situation. While they meet with Maximus in the Chamber of Devices, they are talking over all these occurences while continuing to discuss battle strategy. The Starjammer's mission to rescue Lilandra has been approved. This will be coordinated with a counter-strike movement and the Royal Family is here to check on Maximus' progress with some brand new echo-weapons. He's making Black Bolt powered Sentries called Chorus Sentries.
And, it's counter-attack time! The Chorus Sentries are launched from Kree Ships like missiles and the encounters are swift and fierce. Like the Echo-armor, the Chorus Sentries are charged up by echoes of Black Bolt's voice. They can also unleash it on their foes. It's a devastating attack.
Elsewhere, the Starjammer is engaging the Shi'ar Ionclad, Domination Through Superior Firepower. By "engaging," I mean "being a target for." The Starjammers are led by Havok, the brother of Cyclops and, as it turns out, Emperor Vulcan of the Shi'ar Empire. Crystal's narration makes it seem that she's surprised that one man can be so good while the other is decidedly not so much. She obviously hasn't been paying attention to Black Bolt and Maximus and their ongoing feud. You'll also notice that Ch'od, who lost an arm at the wedding ceremony, has a new hand but it's not fully grown yet.
Anyway, the Starjammer being chased by the Domination Through Superior Firepower is all part of the plan. After taking some damage, the Starjammer is moved with the powers of Polaris to the underside of the Ionclad. The Shi'ar react by making sure that any Inhuman teleportation trick won't work.
They should have been more worried about Havok. He exits through the Starjammer's top hatch and blasts through the ship's hull with a plasma blast, disabling the ship's gravity generators and making a nice entry hole for Triton and his Inhuman strike team to enter. The team is made up of many aquatically enabled Inhumans and they've been practicing for this type of zero gravity mission. They quickly make it to the bridge where Triton kills the captain personally with an echo-rifle. The Inhuman strike team then go to work, locating Lilandra Neramani and relaying the information back to the Starjammer before they are locked out of the Shi'ar Naval Datasphere.
Meanwhile, Admiral Ka'ardum has the unfortunate task of telling Emperor Vulcan that the Chorus Sentries have destroyed the Second Battlegroup. Sixty-five ships. Gone. This does NOT please the Shi'ar Emperor. He has a tantrum and begins blasting up the bridge of the Hammer II while vowing to kill every last Kree and Inhuman.
First, though, it's really time for that Royal Execution. He commands Gladiator to hold the former Majestrix of the Shi'ar as he makes his mind up to kill her here and now.
Makes you wonder if the Starjammers will make it in time...
New Avengers: The Reunion #2
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David López
So we ended our last issue with Clint Barton using a net arrow on his ex-wife, Mockingbird, and then calling in Captain America and the New Avengers to take care of the dirty bomb in Zaragoza, Spain. Well, we begin this issue as Ronin starts collecting some supplies for the upcoming mission and Bobbi shooting her way out of the net trap.
This quickly escalates into a showdown between the two as they re-live Barton's Hawkeye days and discuss the merits of A Christmas Story. Man, I hated that movie. I know, I know. I'm in the minority. I'm OK with that.
The fight quickly works it's way into a pitch black while the two continue talking about Clint using nunchuks (which turn into a nice bo staff) in honor of Bobbi. Finally, Clint subdues Bobbi and talks about how he now understands why she allowed the Phantom Rider to die back in West Coast Avengers #23. Clint's done a lot of things himself in the preceding years such as kills lots of Skrulls after he was tricked into believing one of them was Mockingbird. He also was ready to kill the Scarlet Witch after being killed and brought back by her once or twice. They slept with each other instead.
He apologizes for his initial reaction to finding out she had basically killed someone by not saving them. Bobbi's response is to shoot three mannequin heads to prove that it could just as easily have been him getting shot.
So, the two agree to work together but, unlike over in New Avengers, Mockingbird is calling the shots. Ronin's the outsider suddenly getting involved and this is her operation. She avoids any talk about their relationship and gets straight to work; calling her man "Twitchy" and setting up the details for their operation in Zaragoza. They take a private jet from Danny "Iron Fist" Rand and they are on their way to europe.
Mockingbird's new group is called the WCA. World Counterterrorism Agency. It's filled with abducted SHIELD agents that have nothing to come back to. It gives them something to do but it's still a new agency and it's still setting up resources. They're still building everything.
On the jet, the two discuss their upcoming mission and Bobbi is, again, avoiding any relationship talk despite Clint REALLY wanting to talk about it. He's an emotional guy. So, Clint gets his cover as a worker in Rand's Science Division. Bobbi's also studying what she's missed while she's been away and has Clint's file with her. She hasn't finished reading it but has checked over some of the women. She's questioning him on Moonstone when they hit some turbulance. It's been a while since Bobbi's been on a plane. In fact the last time she was one a plane was to head back to the west coast to see Clint about divorcing him.
This leads to our flashback. When Mockingbird got to LA, she called Tigra (they were working together back then) to tell her she'd arrived and that she knew what she was gonna do. It's at this time that the Skrulls are seen tracking her down. We cut ahead a bit to see Clint calling Tigra and telling her that Mockingbird has died. Obviously, that dead Mockingbird was a Skrull. Aaand... back to the plane.
Now, they're both avoiding any talk of relationship. Turns out bringing up divorce is an instant conversation killer.
Once in Zaragoza, Clint learns his cover name is Dr. Rogers and gets a kick out of that. He also learns that he'll have a translator in his ear so he'll be able to understand whatever's being said. When they reach their rooms, it's time for Mockingbird to lay down their plan of attack. She sets a hologram up that turns the room into one large imaging center and Twitchy is giving them the low down.
Their target building is known as Aljaferia. It's a government building that is currently hosting a gathering of key scientific leaders from throughout the world. AIM's plan is to release the dirty bomb at the site but that's not the half of it. Not only will it kill said scientific leaders, it'll also be introduced into the River Ebro which'll send it straight into the Miditerranean. It'll infect the entire region and kill lots and lots of people. In charge of the AIM is a piece of work named Monica Rappaccini, AIM's current Scientist Supreme. She's made herself immune to biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. That means that when the bomb goes off, she'll be just fine. She also doesn't cover her mouth when she sneezes. Twitchy wishes Mock good luck with her ex and is cut off.
With that, Bobbi kicks Clint out of her room so that they can both get a few hours sleep before hunting down the bomb. They've both been up for more than two days. Shoulda napped on the plane, honestly. Clint playfully protests but is still lead out. Once he's gone, Mockingbird acts like a battle has just concluded and heads for the showers to wash up that dirty feeling you get when you're around Clint Barton for too long.
In the shower, we get flashbacks galore. We see the two love birds on their honeymoon (they had known each other for about nine days before marrying). We see them during a fight involving the death of the Phantom Rider where she quits the team and Hawkeye angrily accepts. We see her returning to the West Coast Compound wanting to talk and Hawkeye blowing her off for a battle with Ultron. Finally, we see her abducted by Skrulls and replaced. It's not the most awesome shower flashback scene ever.
After the two get a few hours shuteye, Clint barges into Bobbi's room pretty damn angry about her choice of his wardrobe. It's purple and blue. Those would be Hawkeye colors. She tells him she'll order up something a little more black and white but it's not enough for Ronin. He wants to know what is up with them. She's all cold shoulder to him whenever they're alone together and he doesn't understand why. He thought they were cool. She never went through with the divorce and they were happy together again. Why doesn't she...
Bobbi came back to get the divorce. She was then abducted. The Skrull had other ideas. Looks like they're exes in every sense of the word and not just the technical sense.
Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Sean Chen
Franklin and Valeria Richards are facing off against Agents of HAMMER and we still don't know what that stands for. While Franklin holds them off with orange tipped toy revolvers, Valeria is making something from the fragments and scraps of debris surrounding them..
The HAMMER agents don't really take Franklin seriously because, well, he's dressed up as a cowboy and is pointing toy guns at them. They DO however take the wicked space gun Val is holding with a little more weight. In the end, instead of taking them into custody, they simply deliver the cease and desist order and make a run for the door. Turns out the space gun is actually a communications device which, much like many of Reed's inventions, has taken on a gun shape for no real reason. He also likes helmets.
While they're trying to figure out why none of their family has shown up yet, we cut to why three of them haven't. They're stuck in an alternate dimension fighting dinosaurs, monsters, and a Celestial. As explained last issue, it's because HAMMER shut down the power to their building. The Baxter Building was supplying extra buffers for Reed's current time/space experiment to prevent any spill over. With that extra buffer removed, the rest of the family is traveling to alternate dimensions. Franklin and Val find the cut power supply and they make to fix it.
Inside the Bridge, Reed's window into other timelines, Mr. Fantastic is trying to find out why everything has gone terribly wrong. He starts with the point that he believes things started down the path of destruction. Civil War and the Superhuman Registration Act. Is there any way that that could have gone better?
Back in the lobby, Val is wondering if fixing the power won't make things worse. Franklin's no help at all because he doesn't want to get blamed for anything. In the end, Val decides to be the superhero and fix the power just as Reed activates the Bridge's visualizer.
This pulls Sue, Johnny, and Ben out of their current predicament but has an unforseen side effect.
The computer has analyzed the various timelines and has given Reed a bunch of numbers to crunch. 12,435,018 timelines enacted the SRA at about the same time as the 616 Universe (that's the Marvel U). Of those, 3,008,296 resulted in a Civil War. Of THOSE, 418 resulted in peace. With that, Reed puts on a funny helmet to load those 418 into his brain. See? He likes helmets.
It's time for Reed to start looking through multiple realities. Sue, Johnny, and Ben, however, are stuck in just one reality and it's one based on a more medieval time period.
It also pits hero versus hero much like the Civil War but this time, Captain America (in knight gear) and most other anti-reg heroes are on the side of Queen Susan while the pro-reg side is led by Tony Stark and is championing freedom from tyranny.
Reed's going through alternate realities pretty quickly. One reality has Cap and an Iron Woman getting hitched while Reed is able to introduce the SRA and Fifty State Initiative in relative calm. In another, Reed is able to give Super powers to any who want them. In yet another, Reed takes away the super powers of all. Another met with success because Steve Rogers wasn't found until after it had been implemented and Tony Stark was busy getting his drink on. The common thread that Reed is finding is that the program is successful when he acts without Tony and Pym or they are removed early on. This is a path to Doom, obviously, but Reed needs to learn more.
While he's adjusting the variables, Queen Sue and her royal family are suddenly whisked out of that time variable and placed into another. This one looks more piratey and there are two Things on panel. The one in the background seems to be noticing that this isn't exactly right.
Secret Warriors #3
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stefano Caselli
So, we've learned that SHIELD is an arm of Hydra. We've learned that Hydra has a plan in place. What that plan is... we're not so sure about. Last issue, Hydra resurrected the Gorgon. It's looking really bad.
This issue opens with a debriefing of our Secret Warrior team. They're getting the low down on the leaders of Hydra. Everyone knows Baron Strucker and Viper. They've got a well documented history with Hydra. Less known is the current Madame Hydra (who lead an assault on the HAMMER occupied SHIELD base, The Torch), The Hive (who lead a raid on the SHIELD weapons factory, Baraccuda), or Kraken (who they know nothing at all about except rumor). There's only two significant SHIELD bases left: The Dock and Red Worm. The Dock is heavily fortified by HAMMER agents. Red Worm is less protected and is a psi-agent processing and quarantine facility. The mission is to make sure it isn't raided by Hydra.
While Quake runs the debrief, Nick gets an encoded message on his iPhony.
JT, being the rabble rouser in the bunch, wonders if the team will cut out when they meet opposition or if they'll be allowed to duke it out with Hydra. This leads to a confrontation with Nick Fury. They exchange words and mean glances but there's no duke out coming. Yet. Wait for it later on. I'm betting it goes down a lot like that Justice League issue where Batman decks Guy Gardner. Nick sends his team off on their mission as he goes to do something more important.
Looks like someone's got a date with Contessa Allegra de Fontaine.
Nick waits at the Tamaya Resort in New Mexico. And he waits. And then there's more waiting. Finally Contessa Allegra de Fontaine arrives looking pretty damn good in her dress. There's some small talk exchanged before guns are pulled. Yes, it's that kind of restaurant. Who's Contessa Allegra de Fontaine working for, anyway? Would she look good in that suit Madam Hydra's wearing? Would she? Probably. We all know SOME of the higher ups at SHIELD are gonna turn out to be Hydra, after all.
Contessa Allegra de Fontaine's answers are vague but they apparently satisfy Fury. She's not working for Fury anymore. She stops aiming her weapon and redirects the question back at Fury. What's he doing now that he isn't the number one super spy? Nick doesn't outright answer but he does put his gun away. They start eating but Contessa (Allegra de Fontaine) cuts right to the chase and asks Fury why he called. He goes over everything in small talk type detail. He's not working for anyone anymore. No country, no employer, Agent of Nothing, and while he was working for SHIELD it was all something else entirely. Still, what he's doing now is the most important thing he's ever done. When he's finished, he's wondering if she'll wait for him.
She says she will even though it'll never end for Nick Fury. I mean, he's been doing this since World War II. If he hasn't slowed down by now what are the odds it's in his future? Contessa mentions that he'll never save the world forever. Everything changes and paradigms keep shifting. Nick could change with it. But that's not what Fury thinks at all. He's just plugging away same as always.
At Red Worm, the Secret Warriors arrive a little too late. Hydra's already exiting the facility with the psi-agents. Kraken and the Gorgon are with them. Unfortunately, a few psi-agents were revived too quickly and their psi-talents were damaged. The Gorgon begins to kill them. Daisy ID's the Gorgon and realizes just how f'd they'll be when they engage. Still, not a lot of choice. It's go time.
Hydra's retrieved the psi-agents and really have no reason to stick around for a fight. Kraken makes ready to space-shift out but the Gorgon opts to stay behind. He begins fighting the Druid and Hellfire and it's not a pretty thing. Slingshot runs in for back up and things get even less pretty.
Casualties are never that good. They've already failed in retrieving the psi-agents and now they're getting smacked around by the Gorgon. It's time to cut and run. Quake signals a retreat and uses her powers to blast the Gorgon away from the field of combat. Phobos isn't ready to run, though. He tries using his fear powers on the Gorgon and learns that they don't effect him. He leaves as the Gorgon talks about eventually killing him.
Fury and de Fontaine's dinner is reaching it's end. Before it's over Contessa definitely has more to say. Fury left. Secret War happened and Fury cut and run. Everything went to hell after that. She tries to close up with a "next time" bit but is interrupted by Fury's iPhony going off. He's learning about Slingshot. She finishes with "Next time you should bring flowers." which is probably not what she was going to say and Fury's out.
Fury directs the Secret Warriors to another one of his secret bases that's a bit more close than the base on the east coast since they're currently in California. That base is called Inside Straight and there are some crazy robot headed deals waiting for them when they arrive. Phobos brings up that pulling a Professor X and putting kids in combat situations probably isn't a great idea. Think of the children.
Also, Phobos predicted that Slingshot would be hurt. Bad. Last issue. Look at that.
Yo-Yo's stabilized and Fury benches the team. They're going to need a new caterpillar and a lot more training before they hit the field again. Hydra isn't their problem for now. It's back on Fury to find a new solution.
He get a hold of an old SHIELD friend. He's got a good old fashioned bastard mission for some people that can handle good old fashioned bastard missions. He's talking to Dum-Dum Dugan. Dugan's probably got some people that could do that job for him. Howling Commandos here we come!
Agents of Atlas #3
Writer: Jeff Parker
Pencilers: Gabriel Hardman & Clayton Henry
Just like last time, we're gonna split this up between past adventure and present adventure, starting with the past story and the moving on up.
Back in 1958, the pre-Agents of Atlas are getting attacked by guys in black suits, red stars on their chests, and cool red goggles. They're looking for "her" and they're probably talking about Suwan, the Yellow Claw's niece and love interest to Jimmy Woo. Marvel Boy drank himself under the table and only has time time to contact a certain Human Robot before passing out. That leaves it up to Ken Hale, the Gorilla-Man, to run interference while Kit Dekum (the fledgling astronaut from last issue) gets Venus out of the restaurant. Ken's running to the back of the kitchen while warning everyone of the danger of staying inside during the firefight.
Outside, Woo is making out with Suwan in car when he gets word that there's a battle he's missing. He drives up on the restaurant and gets a sit rep from Kit. Venus is out since she got burned. Jimmy enters the building, gun blasting. Unfortunately, he and Ken are taken out by gas grenades. Is this game over for our heroes?
Nah, it just means they need to be saved by someone who doesn't breathe. M-11 enters the scene and kills all the bad guys because killing is awesome. After congratulating the killer robot, they notice that the only thing not turned to dust were the red triangles that made up part of the stars on the bad guys' chests. They pick them up for later analysis and then head out to get their last team member, Marvel Boy, who's learning a valuable lesson about drinking and peer pressure (kids, never let beatniks pressure you into drinking. They're beatniks and shouldn't be encouraged). By the time they all get outside, Suwan is gone. Jimmy calls the incident in to the FBI as everyone else heads to bed.
The next day, Venus has been healed up by Marvel Boy's miraculous healing goo. It's... probably best we don't know what it's made of. Her wounds were a radiation burn but there's no radiation left in her system. Kit is making a call to Edwards Air Force Base to tell them about Bob's prediction for the ghost MiG's (story point from last issue that'll probably show up again next issue) next appearance. No sooner does he put the phone down than they get a call from Suwan. She's being tracked but asks about the triangles before being abducted.
Bob makes Jimmy stay on the line so that M-11 can track the call. She called right outside the Presidio Cemetery. Marvel Boy rushes to the scene with the rest of the team following as quickly as they can by car. Suwan is already gone when he gets there.
It's Venus who notices that, when looking through the red triangles, you can see a portal in the cemetary. It looks like Suwan was dragged through the portal. Before the others can come up with a decent plan, M-11 rushes right in. Venus hands out the red triangles and the rest of the team heads in after their robot teammate.
What they find is... odd. It's a red world with a lot of skeletons. There's a bunch of skeletons of knights and one of a huge wyrm. This story doesn't really answer anything, it's just here to ask more questions!
And now, the present story.
It's time for Venus to have that talk with Namora that she said she'd have last issue. Y'see, Namora freaked out when Grizzly threatened M-11 with a gun that disabled all electronics. Venus knows why and is about to deal with it. Bob finds Namora in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (not the exact middle-- a little to the left) with the super-tanker she requested from the Atlas Foundation and Venus jumps out to pay her a visit. She's humming on her way down so that Namora doesn't attack her. She IS Namor's cousin, after all. They're known for their misunderstandings.
Namora's draining a sunken WWII warship of it's diesel. She's doing this with pretty much every ship she finds. The next one is a munitions ship full of still live mines. She lifts this one up to the super-tanker waiting on the surface, demanding that Venus stay away from it. If it went up, it'd kill them both. She doesn't listen and rides the ship up to the super-tanker.
That just pisses Namora off. She yells and Venus and blows up a mine in her hands just to show what a threat they are. Venus begs her to return to the ocean to heal from the detonation and then goes on to explain that she understands what Namora's going through. Namora came back just as her daughter, Namorita, was killed at Stamford.
Namora takes Venus on a little visit down into the ocean. There's something she wants to show her teammate. Down on the ocean floor, Namora had a statue built for her daughter. Instead of being in the Atlantic, Namora considers the Pacific more their home. She returns to the statue to think sometimes. It turns out she really misses her daughter and is carrying around a lot of guilt over not being there to prepare Namorita and protect the New Warrior from Nitro. Venus is there for her as she breaks down by her daughter's statue.
On the Lower Hudson River, a meeting is about to take place on another Atlas Foundation ship. In attendance are Ken Hale, Bob Grayson, M-11, and Temugin, Jimmy Woo's replacement should anything happen to him. Suddenly, Norman Osborn and the Sentry appear on the ship. Temugin is a little TOO surprised by this appearance.
Since no one really likes Temy, no one goes after him. This is all business and it's time to show Osborn the facilities. The factory inside the tanker is in full swing but Norman is more wondering where Jimmy Woo is. Turns out he's pretending to be a worker but that's not something Osborn needs to know. Once Osborn is satisfied, he and the Sentry take their leave and Jimmy is able to come out of hiding.
The real mission here was for Bob to scan Osborn's mind and learn whatever he could. What he found was, well, Norman's not right in the head. That goes without saying. He links Woo and Hale up telepathically and gives them a glimpse. Pictures of a cackling Green Goblin and a dead Gwen Stacy precede a look at more current developments. Yes, they get a look at the Cabal but are only able to recognize Dr. Doom and Namor. Bob also scanned the Sentry but learned even less and actually had to retreat from the psi-scan before he lost himself in the... void of Sentry's mind. Yes, I said it. I'm not giving up this theory yet.
While Bob goes to recover in his flying saucer, Woo and the rest board a helicopter and fly into New York City. Jimmy notices Temugin swimming back to the ship but they make no move to rescue him. They've got a mission in NYC. They're going to hire some thugs around the metro to do some bogus errands so that the name "Atlas" keeps it's relevancy and hype among the bad guys controlling the world.
Before they can get to that, they're knocked out of the sky by an unknown attack. M-11 is able to save them from a drop into the river with an arm rescue but they still need to find out where the attack came from.
They hear someone telling them to "just look up." It's Captain America. He's here to take Atlas down. Well, someone's already believing the hype!
The Invincible Iron Man #12
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
We begin this issue with an earthquake. Not something that superheroes usually deal with but, luckily, Pepper Potts isn't a usual super. She's also on scene wearing her Pink Ranger Armor and that's a must to get involve in this sort of thing. She's racing about and saving lives all over the Cascade Mountains. It's what her suit was made to do. It has no offensive weaponry. None. Even the boot jets run cool. Pepper's having the time of her life.
Of course, all this life saving in an Iron Man suit is bound to get some attention by HAMMER, since they're actively searching for Iron Man. When Norman Osborn learns of it, he does what any capable top cop of the free world would do. He shoots a commercial airliner down just to see how she handles it.
When Potts sees that plane coming towards her... well, that's a big task. Still, her online computer friend, JARVIS, is there to encourage her and help her out.
Last issue, Tony Stark was blasted into the ocean by War Machine. He made his way to the Red Sea and an underwater armory. He's fixing up a suit more adept at underwater travel, a newer version of the Hydro Armor. He's also slowly losing it. Remember when he started the sequence to have his mind erased? It's taking effect. He nearly misses Namor and his warriors entering the facility but is able to throw on his armor just in time.
Our final cast member is hanging out at Futurepharm in Austin, Texas. Maria Hill was sent to this facility to locate a certain harddrive and deliver it's contents to Captain America. What she found here, though, was something even more concerning. The Controller looks like he's sucking people dry of their life forces. That's something the former SHIELD Director (later on Sub-Director) isn't going to stand for. She decides to shut off the power at it's source but hits a little snag. Hill accidentally walks in front of a motion detector. The Controller immediately ends some of his loyal subjects after her.
So, Pepper Potts has to catch a large commercial airliner. This is something that the suit can do but it still looks like a huge task for someone new to the game. Pepper is very new to this. It's her first day. Still, she asks herself WWTD (that "T" is for Tony, FYI) and gets ready to perform a miracle. She catches the plane. Now, she just has to land it.
Tony probably doesn't ask himself WWTD. He already knows. Right now, at least. Later on, his brain will be gone and all he's be able to ask is "boboalasulsdksid." That's a hard thing to answer, by the way. For now, though, he's gotta escape from Namor and a small group of Atlanteans. He's able to make some good escape time before Namor throws a spear and damages his armor. With the underwater base quickly flooding and his armor now not airtight, Tony's got some terrible limits to how far he can escape.
He's able to take out his Atlantean hangers on with some back missile artillery and slow them down more by cutting out the floor beneath them. Now, it's down to Namor. He's not going to be taken down by the back missiles. Odds are that even the repulsor blasts and the uni-beam aren't going to stop him but that doesn't mean you don't try. Namor smashes Iron Man against the side of the base. Right on a window. Hull breach. Not too long now, Tony.
Maria Hill has problems of her own. She's being surrounded by living zombies, courtesy of the Controller. Hill isn't about to open fire on innocents, so she lifted up by them and crowd surfed back to the master of these facilities. Once in the Controller's grasp, it's a simple matter of hooking her up to a control disc and... game over for Maria Hill.
Elsewhere, Potts is landing a plane. It's not a beautiful landing but it's as safe as she can make it as drops the jet into a small stream near rescue workers. She sticks around for the rescue effort and is telling the cops (and, unknowingly the press) how everything went down before HAMMER agents show up to arrest her. She's new at this so, instead of booking, she turns herself in. That's two down.
Will Tony be the third? He's taking a hell of a pounding by Namor. Now, if this were a land fight, there might be a chance, even in this old armor, of Iron Man besting Namor. In the water? In his element. None. Not even a ghost of one. If Stark isn't able to get away from the Sub-Mariner, it's one last game over.
So it's time to change to game.
Tony aims not at Namor but at the pipes above his foe. Hitting them, he unleashes terrible pollution into Namor's prescious ocean. This enrages Namor but the madder the Sub-Mariner gets, the more unfocused he gets. Namor is momentarily stunned and Iron Man uses whatever advantage he can get. He gets the drop on Namor and forces him into the polluted water. That's enough to knock out his foe for as long as Tony needs to grab his Deep Sea Suit, set charges to blow up the armory, and make a getaway.
Namor reports all this back to Norman and the HAMMER Director takes it surprisingly well. Tony did get beat down pretty well and Pepper's in custody, too. It's a good day when you look at it like that. Now, though, someone else'll have to take out Tony. The next member of the Cabal, The Hood, is set up to the task. Still, what's the benefit? Osborn offers a bounty for Tony Stark's head? A billion euros for the man or woman who takes down Iron Man.
Yeah! We're gonna get some super villain action! That's kinda rare in an Iron Man book these days.
Black Panther #3
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Penciler: Ken Lashley
The Black Panther, King T'challa, is nearly on his deathbed so it's no surprise that he is now dreaming of crossing over to the other side. Or is it a dream? Is this the end of T'challa? He sees a vision of a Dora Milaje that preceded him in death as his guide to the afterlife.
His family isn't ready for him to take that journey, though. They have come to Zawavari, a practitioner of the old ways. He's a mad looking old coot and not someone that T'challa would ever be comfortable in dealing with. But, right here and now, T'challa is in no position to stop his mother and his wife. When asked what his aid will cost, Zawavari simply smiles a mad little smile and says this one's on the house. Sure it is.
It turns out that T'challa is currently in Limbo. He can't get out without a guide and, in this circumstance, that'll be Storm. She'll head in after him and lead him back to the world of the living. Don't expect the Panther God to help out, either. Gods apparently get angry when people try to cheat death. They must be incredibly pissed at the whole of the Marvel Universe, then. It's been a century or so since Z performed this ritual, so he's rusty on the details. Suffice to say, it's not very safe and there's a chance we'll lose Storm in the process.
This title currently lacks a Black Panther, so Shuri is working on taking up the mantle. To do so, she has to face a lot of challenges on her way to meet the Panther God. Her current challenge is climbing up a steep mountain. She's kind of cocky about the entire thing. Her mockery of the whole process causes her to lose her grasp on some rubble and she tumbles down the cliff side a ways before getting her grip back. For a point, she's humbled, but then it's back to cocky and away she goes!
On the far side of the African continent (I'm guessing... West? Maybe East? Far away from Wakanda at least?), someone had the bright idea to bring back the Morlun. He's a Spider-Man villain who's last claim to fame was The Other. No one except maybe Reginald Hudlin wanted to see him again. So, there he is, stealing the life forces of those bringing him back to life. They have something that'll quench his thirst for life even more.
Back in Wakanda, Zawavari has whispered secret stuff to Storm that we aren't allowed to hear. It's the "catch" in this situation. Even after hearing about whatever bad thing makes this whole deal undesirable, Ororo still chooses to go through with the ritual.
Back on the Panther God quest, Shuri has succeeded in climbing a mountain.
What she finds on top is a green valley where panthers guard the heart-shaped herb that gives the Black Panther his powers. Shuri, cocky as ever, is all ready to drop in and grab some power.
Back to Morlun. He's learned of his next meal (big guess who he's aiming for) and devoured the life forces of the rest of those that were responsible for his revival. Serves them right, honestly. It's like whoever brings back Teen Tony. They deserve to have their life forces devoured... unless it's me. No one devour my life force! Anyway, with that meal finished, Morlun's on his way to eventually cause trouble for Black Panther and Wakanda.
In Limbo, T'challa isn't ready to accept that he's dead. The Dora Milaje presents a good case, though. I mean, look around. This isn't earth you're floating through. Thoughts of vengeance and threats to his family and nation still concern him, though. It's just not a good time for him to die. But that never stops the dying, does it? The Dora Milaje leads him on to his "reward."
Storm is just about ready to hit Limbo to bring him back, too. While the ritual is performed, she is supposed to be thinking about the love she has for T'challa. Images flow around her of the love they shared.
On the Panther God quest, Shuri is tip toeing through the panthers. So far so good. As soon as she reaches the heart-shaped herb, however, the panthers wake up from their nap and start pouncing. One takes her off the edge of a cliff and jar the heart-shaped herb out of her hand but she is able to grabs some cross vines and save herself while recovering the herb before it falls out of her reach. All threats taken care of, she gets ready to eat the herb and meet her god.
We're almost done bouncing from character to character, honest. We're back with T'challa as he heads for the warmth of the light with his guide at his side. Once the light hits him, though, he looks into the eyes of the Dora Milaje to find skulls for pupils. The Dora Milaje turns into a horribly image of death before T'challa and suddenly that light at the end of the tunnel doesn't seem half as awesome.
And now, blast to the past time with Thor and Loki!
Journey Into Mystery #91
Writers: Stan Lee & Larry Liever
Artist: Joe Sinnott
Odin is up in Asgard looking at Thor's stuff. One thing in particular: Thor's Belt of Strength. It would increase the thunder god's powers if worn but, so far, hasn't been needed. I wonder if today's the day...
Back on earth, Thor returns from one adventure to find another one beginning. There's a bank that's lifted off the ground and it's freaking out the people inside and outside the structure. Thor is able to start bringing the building back down only to hae it suddenly teleported away. To add to the confusion, the people from inside the bank reappear moments later but no one has any memory of anything that happened after being teleported. Thor changed back to Dr. Donald Blake and asks quick medical questions that would have seemed odd coming from Thor... except asking everyone "Do you all have headaches or head injuries?" doesn't really seem like it needed a physical change.
So, this wasn't some incident where everyone received a bash to the head and got T.V. amnesia. This was supernatural. You'd never guess with the levitating and teleporting building. Blake changes back to Thor and flies off to a mountain top in order to place a direct call to his daddy in Asgard. He asks if Loki's escaped again from Asgard's inadequate prison system but the All Father tells him that, surprise, this time Loki is stuck in Asgard. No, really. He's still up here relaxing and making the Asgard equivalent of license plates. Well, he's relaxing at least.
Meanwhile, more levitating and teleporting crimes are happening around the city. In Asgard, Loki is laughing his tail off. It turns out that he actually is in Asgard but that doesn't mean he isn't responsible. It just means he's responsible by proxy. To find out what the deal is, we'll have to do a flashback.
A few days ago, Dr. Blake and his nurse/ romantic interest, Jane Foster, were heading back from a house call to find someone had set up a carnival and that there was a mind reader performing. Sandu the Great. He's your typical mind reading type with a jeweled turban and crazy eyes. He's reading people's minds and giving them their social security numbers and other identity theft information. He even embarrasses the good doctor by telling him he's in love with someone with the initials J.F. Jane is all excited to learn this but the Doc plays it off as a mistake.
Loki, who's always stalking his brother, sees this evil looking mind reader and sees only opportunity.
Loki seems to have picked an ideal candidate because, as soon as he notices he has a lot more power, he telepathically pick pockets the richest man in the crowd. Carnies. You just can't trust them. After that, things just escalate. The bank heist, for example went off just as we saw except, once teleported away, the bank security tried shooting Sandu only for the mental wonder to stop the forward momentum of the bullets and then do his best movie Magneto impersonation and telekinetically point the gun at guard. Still, there's a comics code in place. Instead of shooting that thing, he merely teleports everyone back to their starting points and simultaneously erases their memories of everything that happened after their original teleport. Sandu's not ready to reveal himself just yet.
Things continue to get bigger and more daring from there. Buildings disappear. Trains go missing. Paintings and other valuables vanish. Thor keeps looking for the missing buildings but, after they've been looted, Sandu teleports them to the moon. It's a good dumping ground.
It's about time Sandu revealed himself to the world and he does this with the characteristic style of a carnie. He steals a palace from... probably India... and teleports it back to the United States. He then announces that his next crime will happen in New York City and levitates himself to the city. Now, the United States isn't going to just let this happen and so they send in jet fighters to shoot Sandu out of the sky. Sandu simply reverses their fire and the planes shoot themselves out of the sky (with the two pilots ejecting before getting killed, of course).
In Asgard, Loki is enjoying this entire bit of mischief. He knows it's only a matter of time before Sandu faces his brother and is pretty confident that that will end in Thor's defeat.
Sandu's announced crime in New York City is to levitate the United Nations building and demand that they make him ruler of the world. Now, it might be interesting to know that the UN doesn't actually have that power and that Sandu might want to read up his national politics. Still there are some representatives inside that are willing to play along if it'll get Sandu to drop them back to earth instead of sending them to orbit.
Fortunately, Thor arrives and challenges the mental villain to a battle. Sandu sets down the United Nations building and we get right to the fight. Much like Loki predicted, Sandu is able to use his mental powers to overcome Thor. Thor falls from the sky unconscious and, upon landing, Sandu wraps him in chains and buries him beneath a building. Yep, Thor just got owned. Possibly even pwned.
It's not over just yet, though. Thor is still able to call up daddy and get that Belt of Strength that was pointed out in the beginning of the comic. Odin has his Valkyries deliver it to Thor and the thunder god is able to break his chains off and use Mjolnir to tunnel his way out of his premature burial.
It's time for a rematch with Sandu and, this time, Thor's wearing his Belt of Strength. Loki decides to give his vassal a little help and mentally tells him Thor's weakness. Get him away from his hammer! Sandu does this by taunting Thor to throw it and then teleporting out of the way at the last moment. The hammer misses and, just to up the ante a bit, Sandu teleport himself and Mjolnir to another dimension. Thor isn't able to get his hammer back and, in sixty seconds, will revert to his mortal guise of Dr. Don Blake.
It looks like a second victory for Sandu until the carnie over plays his hand. He's so confident that his powers will allow him to wield Mjolnir that he focuses them all on doing just that. Loki tries to mentally tell him to stop; that it's impossible for Sandu to lift the hammer but it's too late. Sandu's brain snaps from the stress and all his mental powers leave him.
That snaps everything back into place, including returning Sandu and the hammer to the right dimension so that Thor can grab it before his minute time limit has expired. Without his mental powers to back him up, Sandu is just a regular dude and the police are able to wrap this up and put a bow on it. As I said, everything goes back to it's state before Sandu had super mental powers so the bank is back on earth and the money is returned to where it belongs. Everything is back to normal.
Thor returns his Belt of Strength to Odin. Loki rants about the defeat of his evil vassal. All is right in the world of Asgard and Earth.
Woo! Another week done! I've got some catching up to do here, so it's quite possible you'll see a few more Super Reads in the coming days. Maybe even that Deadpool comic. ;)
Until then: Who Do YOU Trust?
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