Today, we check out Secret Invasion Aftermath: Beta Ray Bill- The Green of Eden #1, Punisher #4, and Blast to the Past with Fantastic Four #' 10. Enjoy and spread the word!
Marvel Comics gives me less books to read this week and, instead of playing catch-up, I relax and enjoy myself. I blame fanboys. Not for any real reason. I'm just trying to use some unused Outhouse "key words." I could also say "comic book forum" or "science fiction" but let's not get crazy!
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 46 previous articles. It's perfect for all your reading needs.
And now... Beta Ray Bill.
Secret Invasion Aftermath: Beta Ray Bill- The Secret of Eden #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Dan Brereton
That's probably the longest title I've ever typed out for Super Reads. World Record!
When last we saw Beta Ray Bill, he was leaving Earth to find out why he was so easily abducted by the Skrulls or some such over in Secret Invasion: Thor. It turns out that he didn't get very far in that quest but it did give him a reason to not appear in Thor's comic. His horsehead freaks out Hogun.
We catch up with Bill as he's saving a starbase from a robotic space octopus. Or something. Really, it's just a vehicle to get him to the next part of the book but it is good to see his starship, Scuttlebutt, back in the story and helping out. The Starbase is run by the robotic leftovers of an unknown origin who call themselves "The Remnants." The Space Octopus was actually created by the Remnants through the manipulations of a dude calling himself Voidian. The Remnants are going to send Vodian to one of the civilizations he's wanted on but, since they are incredibly liberal robots, they are sending him only to the civilization where he would get the best and most lenient treatment.
Bill is astounded that this experience hasn't taught them to be more wary of strangers and more vindictive in their treatment of Voidian but the Remnants are forever optimists and probably aren't programmed to be anything else. They've been around for a long, long time and everything has worked out this far.
But that's neither here nor there. The Remnants, while fascinating, aren't the focus of this book. The monks approaching Bill are. They need help. Beta Ray Bill takes them back to Scuttlebutt to hear their plea.
These monks may look all furry and noseless but, through reading those caption boxes, you can easily tell that they're all Skrulls. They're also not completely evil, though. They've discovered another religion but haven't figured out just who they're worshipping yet. For now, they've decided on Bill. The problem is, they don't think revealing themselves as Skrulls at this point and time would be the best course. Bill just got through with an invasion of Skrulls and, before that, was being tortured by the same guys. He probably doesn't like Skrulls that much (as always, it's like liking a Nazi-- impossible!).
They do need his help, however. They're being hunted down by other Skrulls for heresy. They only tell Bill a basic back story of all this and even tell him that it is their "brethren" that are after them. You'd think that the first Skrull he takes down would give the monks away... probably a good time to just be honest. Anyway, since the monks have become non-violent after the Secret Invasion, they need someone else to protect them. Enter: The Bill.
They arrive at the asteroid monastery of the Skrull monks and take a shuttle in since Scuttlebutt is too large to get very close. No sooner do they enter the monastery than monks start getting hit by sniper fire (possibly while covering Bill as he was lit up like a very red christmas tree with all the sniper lazers on him). Horseface flies up to the sniper and, after giving the Skrull a chance to surrender, is forced to kill him.
Just as promised, Bill quickly learns that his monk friends are all Skrulls. To make up for witholding this vital bit of information, they show Beta Ray Bill what their completed monastery will look like.
They also share with him that they aren't just Skrulls. They're Godkillers. Those were the Super Skrulls launched at Asgard that were super enhanced. They totally lost and, with that loss, they just couldn't follow their own god. They needed a new one and liked what they saw in Beta Ray Bill. Unfortunately, not every Godkiller decided to lose their religion. Some chose to remain faithful to the gods killed by the God Squad over in Hercules' book. It is these Godkillers that have been attacking the Beta Ray Bill worshippers.
Bill doesn't have time to tell them to stop worshipping him. He's got to defend the monks from more Godkillers. Throwing Stormbreaker (his version of Thor's hammer), Bill shatters the holgram machine and everyone runs for cover in a nearby cavern.
Now, horseface has a chance to talk. "STOP WORSHIPPING ME." I guess that would freak me out too. I'd have to tell people to stop after the second or third shipment of offerings. Maybe the fourth. Is there a way to keep offering money coming without being officially worshipped? Anyway, Bill explains that the Asgardians are gods but not in any real, worshipping way. They're just powerful dudes that have a defeatist worldview that inevitably leads them to multiple Ragnarok events. Bill's the same way except he's just powered up by an Asgardian weapon and carrying around the guilt of being the last of his kind. Thanks, Galactus.
Bill's actually pretty atheistic these days. His worldview is wrapped around the phrase "Let us make good."
Outside the cavern that so cleverly conceals Bill and his monk friends, the Godkillers come to the conclusion that they can't win without an edge. They activate another Super Skrull God killer. This one isn't like the one that Thor and Bill faced in Secret Invasion: Thor. This one is basically dead walking but SHOULD do the job before keeling over.
There's a philosophical debate raging in Bill's cavern that basically runs into the "why is the near extinct Skrull race trying to kill itself?" This whole deal is interupted by the Warriors Three Super Skrull. This is the failed Super Skrull activated just last paragraph! It is one ugly looking mutha and I'm pretty sure it's not gonna win. It's not even sufficient for military use but these are desperate times. When you're trying to accelerate the death of your race, you've gotta break some rules.
Bill takes on the Warriors Three-in-one while the Godkillers fight against their brethren. Fortunately, Bill can multitask and ends up saving some lives with fighting for his. The Super Skrull only has the upper hand for mere moments before Beta Ray Bill deals it a near fatal blow; knocking it into a glowing machine and watching it light up with electricity. Still, Bill is unable to execute the Super Skrull when given the chance. These are some of the last Skrulls left anywhere. The monks work to save the Super Skrull's life and, again, Bill just doesn't understand. Are they killing each other or not?
In the end, the monks realize that Beta Ray Bill, while completely awesome and giving good advice, is not the god they're looking for. So they keep looking and name Bill as their first prophet. With that, they wish Bill well and send him on his way. Bill decides to go back to Earth.
The monks decide to listen to Bill. They go out to make some good happen and end up right where we all began: saving the Remnants from another robotic space octopus created by Voidian after he escaped their hold. This time, instead of Bill being their champion, the Super Skrull or the Warriors Three (now named S'kaan and, also, S'kann depending on the panel). Oh, those wacky robotic space octopi...
Writer: Rick Remender
Penciler: Jerome Opeña
If you're wondering how Punisher survived the firing squad from last issue, you're reading the wrong comic book. They're isn't a daring escape featured in the opening pages of this comic. We just get the aftermath. He totally survived and absolutely killed every one of the fake cops. How? Magic. Probably.
Except we never, ever mention that one time when Frank was given angelic powers and fought evil with holy sub-machine guns. He also had glowly angelic symbols on his forehead. You can't ever talk about that because it never happened.
Except it did and it was the best train wreck ever.
So, since this comic doesn't explain how he survived after surrendering to the firing squad, I'm going with angel powers. Remender can rebuttal if he wants. ;)
For now, Frank is doing what Pun does best. Killing people. Possibly bad guys. It happens. The firing squad team was Bravo. Charlie Team has come looking for them. They find Big Pun with a knife. If you're the Punisher, you know the Marvel Universe usually rolls over for you, so a knife is more than you really need. After all: Angel Powers. I guess it was too much to ask that we got one more issue of Frank getting his @$$ handed to him.
The leader of this whole op is freaking out a bit. He's lost contact with Bravo and now Charlie isn't responding. Now Frank is making jokes on his com. It's like the end of days. Punisher is funny? What the hell.
Frank, of course, is still not doing great. He did get beat to hell last issue and only through the use of his off panel angelic powers was he able to even make it this far. He contacts Henry, his tech support guy, and gives him a code that will make things go much better.
In another part of this comic, Millie the Model is working as a host to a high class whore house. Well, her name is Millie. I'm connecting dots, here. Anyway, this is basically that Wal*Mart of Evil(er) that was mentioned last issue. It serves all your evil needs. The Hood has made this his current base.
Have you noticed just how cranky the Hood is in this comic compared to his other appearances? I'm not saying he's not being evil over in The New Avengers, I'm just saying he's not shooting people's hands in that comic just because he's not making enough money. This Hood is by far more pissy than that Hood in New Avengers. He's also less likeable. It could be because Frank Castle is giving him more trouble than expected. Hood obviously forgot that the Marvel Universe rolls over for the Punisher. Even in guest appearances, the Punisher will kill you if you look at him funny.
Still, Henry is a walking dead man. You can't work with Frank and live. That means that, even if Frank kills you, you can kill Henry first. Hood's own computer expert locates Henry and Hood sends Grizzly to deal with him... even though Grizzly was last seen as a member of the ATF over in Agents of Atlas. This would be a downgrade.
Back in the kill zone, another group of fake SWAT guys is hunting the Punisher.
One guy mistakes a mouse for Frank but it's ok. He won't live long enough to regret the mistake. Punisher makes the scene and throws some smoke grenades around while... telling jokes. Seriously. Someone replaced my Frank Castle with John McClane while I wasn't looking. It actually works better than any other Punisher I've read. Just doesn't seem like the Pun I know and dislike. Don't make me enjoy the Punisher, Remender! X(
In the smoke cover, things go nuts. Hangings, friendly fire, back stabbing. All the while, our boy Frank Castle is untouchable. He's even talking about Lynrd Skynrd songs. It's messed up. The team leader, being the only one left alive, makes a mad dash to the helicopter on the roof only to find out that he's got a bomb on him. It even has the Punisher symbol for full marketing effect. Anyway, helicopter go boom. Explosive bits probably kill innocent bystanders below. It's all off panel.
So, remember Grizzly going off to kill Frank's tech guy, Henry? Turns out he was sent to a false location. That location just exploded. RIP, Grizzly. You should never have picked a fight with Steven Colbert.
Henry stitches Frank back together as best he can and tells Frank that the hacker has most likely tracked him to a name. That means Henry is wanted by the Super Mob. Frank tells him that none of this was his fault and that Henry helped him through some tough times back there. They unloaded their armory into a U-Move van, anyway, so no loss in HQ-territory.
Even better news? Hank hacked the hacker. He followed the hacker's trail back home and found out just where the Hood is hiding out. He gives the lowdown on the new big bad. Basics have already been laid out but, to add to that, the Hood is not the Kingpin. The Hood gets down and dirty and can fight his own battles. He also has way more super villains on his side than the Kingpin ever did. And demon powers. It's big time. Frank reminds Henry that the Hood is just a crazy man and only one crazy man can be as awesome as the Punisher.
With that, Frank dresses up in a bunch of super hero/villain gear (including an Ant-Man helmet for some reason) all painted down in Punisher symbols and prepares to get to work.
It's time to meet our "mysterious hacker." Just as I thought, it's Microchip. Hood returned him from the dead somehow and, while Micro would rather be dead, he's also like to see his boy again. To have his son resurrected is his reward for having Frank Castle killed. The Hood does his threatening routine that he's been doing throughout this comic but we know he's not punishing Microchip. Micro's necessary to his plans. In fact, the latest bit of that involves having Frank's hacker locate the Hood's hacker. That's right. Punisher is walking into a trap. Let's see how that goes.
Fantastic Four #10
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby
The Fantastic Four were once more crazy than any other comic team. I mean, just check this out.
The issue opens in a normal fashion. Reed's pointing a huge machine at Sue in an attempt to figure out how she actually turns invisible. Everything goes to straight madness from there. Reed, Sue, and Johnny see the FF Emergency Flare lit up outside their window and know that the Thing needs them somewhere in New York City. They rush to the door only to find that the nuclear locking mechanism is malfunctioning and they're all stuck inside.
That's right. NUCLEAR LOCKING DOORS. That malfunction.
Johnny decides to burn their way out but, in a tricky display of comic book logic, burning through a nuclear door would kill them all. It's a good thing Dr. Doom doesn't find this door. It could end their feud very quickly. Anyway, Reed stops the teenager and decides to do things his way. He slips his hand under the door and stretches it up a couple floors where he plans on getting the Fantasti-Car and flying it down to a window and then just having everyone jump right in.
OK, two things.
1) If you can stretch your hand under the nuclear locking door, you can probably stretch the rest of your body under it as well. Reed's just trying to impress Sue.
2) If you have an open window, odds are pretty good that the Human Torch can fly out of it and just retrieve the car. Or leave you all to rot because you invented a malfunctioning nuclear door.
In the end, Reed makes a wrong turn with his stretchy hand and ends up in the pogo-plane room before stretching to his limit and giving up. Johnny invents cold flaming on in order to burn through the nuclear locks without detonating them. The three are now free to cause destruction as they find the Thing.
And I'm not even lying. The Torch buzzes the crowd as he flies over them while on fire. Reed is attacked by a mob of admirers and ends up stretching through them. Best of all, Sue goes invisible to escape a "fan," runs out in traffic, and turns visible right before a car is ready to run her down. The driver freaks out and, while avoiding her, runs right into a fire hydrant. Luckily, a nearby officer saw the whole thing and knows none of this is the driver's fault. It's all Sue Storm's but she's already fled the scene of the crime. We're not even on page four yet.
The three FFers finally reach Alicia Master's home where the Thing was hanging out to find that there wasn't an emergency at all. The Thing just wanted to show them that Alicia was able to make statues of all the FF's villains. He wanted to show them so hard that he decided against the telephone and went straight for the flare gun. This is Fantastic Four mentality. To be honest, they ARE nice statues and are even more impressive when you remember that Alicia is blind.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are across town making comics. The King has come up with a terrible villain concept called "Falseface." It's a dude in one of those glasses/nose/mustache combos. That's his whole deal. Stan's trying to be sympathetic to this stupid creation by telling Kirby that "it's great" but not Fantastic Four great. What they really need is Dr. Doom to return but, last we saw him, he was riding an asteroid off into outer space never to be seen again. Well, until now. Doom arrives at the HQ of Marvel Comics but isn't in the mood to explain why he running around on earth instead of flying the space super highway. Doom then removes his mask so that all three of them can remark on how hideously ugly his face is. Even Doom can't look at himself.
Why would Dr. Doom show up at Marvel Comics? To have them lure Mr. Fantastic into a trap. He even kills a poor defenseless ashtray to make his point. The two comic creators quickly call up the FF to make arrangements. Cowards!
Reed has already delivered the latest FF story to Lee and Kirby and doesn't really know why they need him but he dresses in his stretchable civvies and runs down to Madison Avenue. He runs right into Doom's trap and is taken out by a sleep gas gun. Doom then demands that The Man and The King call the Fantastic Four again and tell them that Dr. Doom has kidnapped Reed Richards. He even gives them an address that he can be reached at. This isn't a stunning moment of courage by Stan Lee or Jack Kirby. This is them probably thinking that there next comic is being written right in front of them.
Doom wakes Reed up at his secret lair in order to tell him how he got back to Earth. It turns out that, not long after he and his asteroid left Earth to unwittingly explore the galaxy, he was picked up by an alien race known as the Ovoids. They're a bunch of dudes with egg shaped heads. They're also so civilized that they don't percieve any threat from Doom even after the villain pulls a gun on them. They show him around their ship and even reveal to him the secrets of switching bodies. When they're about to die, the enter a newly manufactured body so that they stay alive forever. With that plot point delivered, Doom is returned to Earth and ready to commit as much crime as he can.
To that end, he's kidnapped Reed Richards and quickly switches brains with him. Now, Reed is Doom and Doom is Reed! In Reed's body, Doom believes he is more than a match for Reed in Doom's body so the two fight to prove it. The Fantastic Four show up soon and the fight can only go one way. As is there usual tactic, the Fantastic Four imagine how they're gonna torture "Doom" now that he's captured but "Reed" has his own ideas. He leads them to the lower levels where they find an unbreakable plexi-glass prison. Reed is dropped inside and left until they can figure out a more permanent holding solution.
Thing is a little concerned about how much air is trapped inside the cage but Doom assures them that there is plenty... only there isn't. Doom has no intention of returning to his old body and has decided to suffocate Reed. He informs his former colleague of all of this before taking his leave to cause chaos for the remaining Fantastic Three.
Later on, mini animals are running amok at the Baxter Building.
You'll notice that the paper Thing is reading actually tells where these little guys came from. They were stolen from a zoo. When Doom returns, the three confront him on that only for him to give them the greatest bit of bait any super team has ever fallen for. Doom has invented a shrinking ray in an attempt to increase the FF's powers. Think about it!
The whole thing involves dinosaurs that had too small of brains for their bodies but, if they had been smaller and had the same size of brains, they obviously would have been wearing space suits and colonizing outer space by now. That's Doom's plan. He wants to shrink down the FF and then grow them back up to somehow give them increased abilities. Now, this is ridiculous but, by comic book logic, not as cracked as you think it would be. It's still false, though the Fantastic Three can't wait to step in front of the shrinking ray and squabble about who will be first to gain increased powers. Doom is enjoying their idiocy too much, however, and tells them that he's not ready just yet. They'll have to come back in a few hours.
Doom's actual plan is to simply shrink them down and not stop. He also wants to blow up that nuclear locking door on his way out.
Reed is still trying to escape from the plexi-glass trap. It turns out that he's able to make chips in the plexi-glass but isn't able to make it through. Reed ends up using the oxygen tanks in order to create an explosion large enough to free himself. The new Doom then heads over to Alicia Master's place because, well, she's blind right? She'll never know just how hideous he is and mind suss out that he isn't really Doom. Unfortunately, Alicia's got a visitor, Sue Storm, who quickly knocks Reed out. That armor isn't good for ANYTHING.
Johnny and Ben are called in but neither can find it in themselves to finish Reed off. It might be because he keeps saying he's Reed but I'm more willing to bet it's because neither of the two are killers. It just isn't in their nature. Instead, they decide to take him back to Doom to decide what to do.
Doom is astonished that Reed managed to escape but maybe that's for the best. Now Reed can watch his family shrunk down to nothing. Doom tells the others to stand in front of the shrinking ray and they are only to quick to do so. Still, Reed's cries of warning DO end up making them suspicious. Johnny sets up a test in another illlogical use of his powers that I'm just not gonna get into. The point is, suddenly there is an illusion of a stick of dynamite in the middle of the room. Reed, being Reed, jumps on top of it. Doom, being-- a coward?-- slithers up a pipe to escape. The thing quickly catches him and the deception is over.
Doom quickly switches back to the body that isn't being held by the Thing but he's still surrounded. Luckily, his armor has weapons on it that Reed never discovered. Like this handy finger gun. He fires it at Reed but misses, hitting the shrinking ray controls instead. You can only imagine who was set up to be fired upon. Doom shrinks right out of existance while the Fantastic Four watches.
The team high fives right off panel and then go to cause more trouble in New York City.
That's all I've got for now but I'll be back soon enough with one huge week of comics! B)
Until then: Who Do YOU Trust?