Monday, July 16, 2018 • Afternoon Edition • "The comic book industry's inflamed butthole."

Super Reads War of Kings and Dark Reign 53

Written by SuperginraiX on Saturday, July 11 2009 and posted in Features
badguy53.jpgJust in time for Christmas... in July.

Today, we check out Nova #25, Guardians of the Galaxy #14, The New Avengers #53, Avengers: The Initiative #24, The Amazing Spider-Man #595, Ms. Marvel #39, Dark Reign: Elektra #3, Dark Reign: The Hood #1, Wolverine Origins #36, and Blast to the Past with Fantastic Four #16. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


With enough prep time, we'll get right back on track!

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 52 previous articles. It's perfect for all your reading needs.

OK. Straight to War.

n25.jpgNova #25
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Kevin Sharpe

The War of Kings is in full swing. Richard Rider has not only been kicked out of the Nova Corps but has only hours to live. Only the Quantum Force is currently keeping him alive. While Rich is dealing with that, the Nova Corps has joined the war on the side of the Kree (since the Shi'ar are the agressors). The big problems is that these Nova Centurions are not battle experienced and are being pushed into combat that they aren't prepared for and are basically being brainwashed to think that's a good idea. All that and it looks like Worldmind isn't as in control of Ego the Living Planet (the Nova Corps' current headquarters) as he claimed. The two entities have combined after Worldmind went crazy. It's a lot to take in. Three deep breaths and we're on to this issue's action. One. Two. Three...

Richard is still working with the idea that the Worldmind's systems have been corrupted by Ego and that the Worldmind is still in there somewhere trying to get out. It's a nice theory but, the truth of it is that the version of Worldmind that he's been dealing with is totally beyond repair. Or, as Worldmind/Ego keep saying: "There is no Worldmind. There is no Ego. There is only both."

That goes on for a few pages, actually, just so we're certain that the two entities have completely combined.

Many level above this conflict, the Nova Corps System Ops team is still really from the loss of Cohort 86 and their current Nova Prime, Tarcell, from last issue. They were performing a police action, removing Shi'ar forces from a Kree world, when they were forced to surrender to the Imperial Guard under the command of Gladiator. Once Gladiator left the planet with Tarcell, the Dark Imperial Guard, lead by Gladiator's crazy cousin, Strontian, massacred the captured Nova Centurions.

Sys Ops is trying to figure out what to do about this but Worldmind has gone offline, leaving them directionless. With this lack of leadership, Robbie Rider (brother to Richard) and Qubit make up their own orders: Head to Cohort 86's last location and do what they can to make a bad situation better.

Nova Prime Tarcell has problems of his own. He surrendered to the Imperial Guard but was not killed with the rest of his soldiers. He was, instead, escorted to the Imperial Flagship, Hammer II, where he is undergoing interrogation but the Imperial Guardsman, Mentor. Tarcell isn't talking but Mentor already knows the answers anyway. This is all about breaking Tarcell's will. Eventually, Emperor Vulcan enters the interrogation room but doesn't get any better information from Tarcel. Vulcan skips straight to torture.

Richard Rider is still using the Quantum Force to fight Worldmind/Ego but he's losing ground. Luckily, the former wielder of the Quantum Bands, Wendell Vaugn is still around to help Richard us the power. It turns out that Worldmind/Ego is hitting him with more than just physical blows. These blasts also work to destroy your will. Fortunately, the Quantum Bands are designed to deal with just such threats. Richard is directed to create a sanctuary and makes a very yellow version of his childhood bedroom.

The room even has posters of himself on the wall because that's just the way Richard rolls.

Outside the room, Worldmind/Ego is still trying to get in so this is only a temporary reprieve. Wendell and Richard pow wow to figure out their next move. What they know is that the Worldmind became unstable. They surmise that Ego preyed on that instability in order to gain the power and knowledge of Xandar. Richard also remembers that, when he was infected by the transmode virus, Worldmind protected a portion of his mind from infection and wonders if Worldmind was able to do that in this instance to itself. Using the Quantum Bands, he tries to access the parts of Worldmind that remain uninfected by Ego's presence and finds to former (and dead) Nova Centurions have appeared in his room.

Ko-Rel, who was a Centurion for a few brief moments before her death during the Phalanx Invasion of Kree Space, and Rhomann Dey, the Centurion that originally brought Richard into the Nova Corps, represent what is left of sanity in Worldmind. They explain the rest of the story. Worldmind was driven insane while keeping Richard sane when he was wielding the entirety of the Nova Corps' energy. Ego needs to be removed so that Worldmind can repair itself. Worldmind/Ego finally breaks into Richard's barriers and into the representation of his childhood room. It's time to get work done!

Unfortunately, Worldmind/Ego realizes the threat that it faces and summons the Centurions from System Operations to deal with Richard. They're all being mind controlled so it's not like they'll be able to disagree with his orders. Worldmind/Ego continues to chase after Richard.

Richard is making his way to Worldmind's control center but the Centurions are giving good chase and you know he's not going to kill anyone. The combined forces of Centurions halts Rider's advance but that battle isn't won yet. Richard realizes that, even after being infected by Ego, Worldmind has always been trying to help him. Worldmind reformed to Corps in order to take the pressure off of the last Nova Corpsman. This bit stalls Worldmind and the Centurions long enough for Richard to reach the Hub.

He jumps inside and regains his abilities as Nova Prime. He hands the Quantum Bands back to Wendell Vaugn before facing off against Worldmind/Ego for the last time. One quick near-lobotomy later and Worldmind is free from Ego's influence and Ego is removed from the board for a couple centuries.

Richard has his last conversation with the current version of Worldmind. It turns out that this Guide personality is beyond repair and needs to be replaced. The two have been through a lot and it's a touching parting. Worldmind's new Guide personality is based on the Kree, Ko-Rel. She's got a much more abrasive personality and things'll be interesting.

It turns out that Richard is still in danger. He can no longer survive without the Nova Force. On the plus side, it looks like he's in no danger of going mad. The Nova Force is less of a threat to human psyches but play hell on their bodies.

There's still a Nova Prime out there, though. Aboard the Hammer II, Tarcell is ready to pass out after the torture he's just endured at Vulcan's hands. There's help coming his way, though. Garthan Saal, a former Nova Prime that did go insane from holding the Nova Force, has been summoned by Tarcell's screams.

gotg14.jpgGuardians of the Galaxy #14
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Brad Walker

What are the Guardians up to? They're trying to get Black Bolt and Vulcan to sit down and discuss terms so that they can end this war before the galaxy is irreparably harmed. They aren't doing so well at that. The team that tried to meet with Vulcan never ended up meeting and the one Guardian that did, Warlock, just ended up getting into a big space fight.

While Warlock and Emperor Vulcan fight outside the Hammer II (the Shi'ar Imperial Flagship), Mentor leads the Imperial Guard out to help their boss. When Oracle picks up a magic signature, Mentor orders that Magique be brought in. Now, I don't know who Magique is but I'm betting she uses magic. In space! Ah, science fiction and magic. It's like getting chocolate in my peanut butter... or maybe coconut in my swiss cheese (don't try that, by the way).

It turns out that magic isn't that big of an advantage in a battle with Vulcan. He's an energy manipulator and magic is just another form of energy for him. Warlock tries to reason with Vulcan and tell him all about how his war threatens the very fate of the universe but Vulcan isn't one to respond well to reason. Crazy Emperor? You're soaking in it.

Reason's not working that well with Black Bolt, either, and he's relatively sane. Medusa demands that the Guardians leave before things escalate but, well, we're in a comic here. It's only interesting if things escalate. Phyla starts it up by throwing around some easy insults. Bug tries to petition to their more decent sensibilities but ruins it all by ending his pretty speech with a pick up line. Medusa tells Star Lord and his Guardians that she understands their point but that war is hell and tough decisions, like defending themselves against an aggressive super-power, have to be made.

This is when Phyla pulls out her sword. She's gotten a lot more hardcore lately. Also... kind of stupid. Ah well. That's what happens when you're an agent of death, I guess. Gorgon moves in to protect the royal family only to get a sword blast that knocks him and the Kree guards across the room. That's ok. There are a lot of guards and the Guardians are quickly surrounded.

Back at Knowhere, the decapitated Celestial head that, among other things, serves as the Guardians of the Galaxy's headquarters, Cosmo, Mantis, and Moondragon await the return of the two Guardian teams. While they wait, Moondragon asks about Starhawk. She keeps getting the word popping into her head and wonders what it means. Readers of the series will know that Starhawk was a member of the original, future Guardians of the Galaxy team and that the current roster has capture a female future variant with the same name who keeps on saying how the future is threatened by whatever's going on right now. She's a bit vague on what that is but believes the focal point is the current team and, specifically, Major Victory. Victory is also a guy from the original team who arrived here under mysterious and unexplained circumstances. This is all leading somewhere but we still don't know where that somewhere will end up being.

Speaking of ominous circumstances that will bear fruit in future issues, it looks like Vulcan and Adam Warlock's combat is making Warlock blue in the face. That's interesting because a future, evil version of Adam Warlock named Magus happens to have a blue hue. It's amazing how evil the future is. Thankfully, I live in the present. Anyway, Vulcan and Warlock continue to fight all over the place and it's all Adam can do to stay in the fight. Vulcan is hella powerful. He's now joined by the Imperial Guard which makes this battle all the more uneven.

Magique, the spellcaster we learned about earlier, casts a spell on Adam Warlock that he quickly breaks out of with taunts of being a bunch of steps about Magique when it comes to magical ability. To prove the point, Warlock manipulates Magique's energy to recharge himself. This gives him the strength to teleport away but not before Magique is able to place a tracking witch-mark on him. Vulcan's not happy that Warlock got away but is pleased that it's only temporary.

Back with the Inhuman Royal Family, it looks like Crystal has entered the chamber and is unhappy at what she sees. Telling her that Phyla drew a sword on Medusa and blasted Gorgon doesn't calm her down, either. To her, being a host must mean everything. She tries to reason with Medusa but that's becoming harder and harder to do. Medusa's kind of a jerk. Maybe she's not even listening to Black Bolt anymore. Still, she's not going to detain the Guardians. She decides, instead, to simply escort them away and make sure they don't return.

Which is when Phyla draws her sword on Crystal. What. The. Hell. I actually liked Phyla before this issue. I might have been the last one. She's made some moronic plays this issue and this just adds to the list. Her behavior certainly isn't supported by the rest of the team. Star Lord orders her to let Crystal go and, when Phyla tries disputing this, Peter shuts her down. He then calls back to Knowhere for a quick port out of there, making a quick apology to the Royal Family before exiting.

Back at Knowhere, they're getting multiple ports coming in. The first one is Adam Warlock who, again, is looking pretty blue in the face. He quickly fixes that but also notices that he's been witch-marked. Before this can be fully processed, Star Lord's team returns. Peter isn't happy at all about how that all went down but he's surprised to learn that their troubles aren't over just yet. Phyla never did let go of Crystal.

Ugh. Kick her off the frickin' team. It's just not cool any more.

Even Moondragon is upset with Phyla's behavior but they, again won't be able to dwell on it. The Inhumans and Kree have teleported in to rescue Crystal. At the same time, the Imperial Guard have 'ported in for a rematch with Adam Warlock. When it rains, it totally pours.

na53.jpgThe New Avengers #53
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Billy Tan

The New Avengers are hitting New Orleans tracking the new Sorceror Supreme but they've ran into a snag. Clint doesn't know where to land their stolen Quinjet. While he's working on that, Spidey's trying to have a heart to heart with Luke Cage. It turns out that Cage's wife, Jessica Jones, went to school with Peter Parker and had a crush on him. Peter didn't know this at all until recently. He tries to assure Cage that he's never try anything with a married woman... but he's not seeing Iron Fist anymore, right? Luke doesn't find this funny at all but it totally is.

While the Avengers are looking for a parking spot, Dr. Strange's Eye of Agamotto starts floating in the air and displays everyone who could potentially be the next Sorceror Supreme. The Hood is on that list as is Dr. Doom, Spiral, the Scarlet Witch, and the guy who will actually get the top spot on the magic pile. Strange surmises that not only are they seeing the people who could be the next SS but that those people are also seeing the Eye. Before they can process that, the Eye of Agamotto disappears and the Quinjet is attacked by Madame Masque. With a rocket launcher.

Wolverine wants out of the Quinjet so he can go take on the bad girl and, after a short argument, he finds himself dropping from the Avenger's craft and getting shot up by Masque. Spider-Man grabs Logan before the mutant goes squish all over the streets of New Orleans but Wolvie is more concerned about getting to Madame Masque before the Quinjet takes some actual damage.

Masque isn't in immediate Wolverine danger and sets back into hitting the Quinjet with rockets. This next attack is evaded with some help from Strange's magic. Spider-Woman is the next to abandon ship. Since this one can actually fly, she heads straight for her target but Masque is prepared for her. She drops some smoke grenades on her roof and is obscured by it. Spider-Woman is still able to get in a few good hits before losing track of Masque and is nearly shot in the head for the effort. Fortunately, Captain America (James "Bucky" Barnes), is able to prevent any headshots with a timely shield fling. Spider-Woman gets a good bead on Masque and punches her off the roof.

Cap and Ms. Marvel join Spider-Woman on the roof. They've lost sight of Madame Masque and call Wolverine up to help them track her down.

They still haven't landed the Quinjet but seeing Madam Masque here doesn't fill Dr. Strange with confidence. It means that the Hood got here before they did. He may already have the Eye of Agamotto.

We timeslip back five minutes to the Hood's confrontation with Daimon Hellstrom. He's the son of Satan and he isn't happy that someone's pulled guns on him. He's less happy when the Hood fires those guns at him. The bullets never reach Daimon, however. Hellstrom freezes them in the air (with hellfire!). The Hood demands the Eye of Agamotto and the son of Satan demands to speak to the demon powering the Hood. Hellstrom begins to attack when, suddenly, the Eye of Agamotto appears before them both. This matches up with seeing both these two just a few pages earlier looking at the Eye and getting seen by Dr. Strange and the New Avengers.

The Eye quickly disappears from sight but that doesn't mean that the Hood believes Hellstrom doesn't have it. Now, Daimon isn't exactly certain what's going on but he does know that there's a demon possessed individual threatening him. Time to perform an exorcism.

The lightshow battle between the Hood and Hellstrom gets noticed by the still circling Quinjet. Now they at least have an idea of where they should be.

The New Avengers already on the ground are still tracking down Madam Masque.

Cap actually suggests everyone else get guns too. He likes his guns even though I'm pretty certain the pistol he uses in his own title only fires rubber bullets. Anyway, good luck getting Spidey to carry a gun. He's still not happy with the whole "let's steal a Quinjet" thing. Logan notices Madam Masque a few blocks away and Ms. Marvel flies in to stop her.

Hellstrom and the Hood's fight has left Daimon's apartment and hit the streets of New Orleans. The Hood is looking more like Dormammu by the moment but no one's actually put two and two together yet. Hellstrom yells at the bystanders to get clear before rejoining the fight. The Avengers' Quinjet still hasn't landed but it's continuing to spill Avengers. This time, it's Luke Cage who lands on top of what recently was the Hood and is now a flame headed demon (like I said, he's got that Dormammu thing going on now). Dr. Strange is next to float out of the Quinjet leaving only Clint Barton and his ex-wife, Bobbi Morse, inside as Clint continues to look for a proper place to land a super jet.

Taking down Madam Masque is proving very difficult. She's taken a hostage and threatens to shoot unless the New Avengers leave. Ms. Marvel can't actually let that go. Madame Masque starts counting to three. Spidey joins Ms. Marvel and begs Masque to not do this. Before the villain can reach three, Cap shoots her in the head with a sniper rifle. Masque lets out a shot that would have killed her hostage as she falls but Cap's shot wasn't lethal. It was a headshot and Masque protects her face with a metal mask. While the New Avengers wrap up this fight, Spidey sees the streets ahead of them explode in flames.

The magical battle with the Hood/Dormammu is no place for Luke Cage. That doesn't mean he doesn't do his best but his strength isn't what's needed and he is quickly thrown away. Dr. Strange casts a spell to protect Daimon and orders the son of Satan to retreat and protect the Eye. Hellstrom doesn't have the Eye and, once that's pointed out, everyone wonders who's got it. Who is the new Sorceror Supreme?

Why, it's Brother Voodoo. Remember him? He's here with the Eye and now we've got one more guy to catch up to speed.

ati24.jpgAvengers: The Initiative #24
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Artist: Humberto Ramos

Camp Hammond has been shut down. For now, the residents are in limbo. Gauntlet and his family are on their way to a hotel until Sergeant Green can be reassigned. While they're leaving their former home, they're stopped by Mrs. Tranh. She's the wife of the Bengal and is on her last nerve. Bengal was on a mission with the Shadow Initiative when SHIELD was shut down and, now, she's worried that HAMMER doesn't have a clue about them.

We, however, do have a clue. The Shadow Initiative is in Madripoor and, with SHIELD not there to pick them up, the team is stuck. They're also getting attacked by two Madripoor tough guys: Roughhouse and Bloodscream. Constrictor is able to handle Roughhouse after his surprise attack stops being so surprising. That just leaves Bloodscream and, even after Taskmaster has cut off his head, the vampiric villain is still a threat.

Typhoid Mary freaks out and sets Bloodscream on fire. Since Mary's a lot insane, Taskmaster makes calming her down his priority. With that done, he orders Constrictor to release Roughhouse. With SHIELD gone, Taskmaster's decided to switch sides.

Back in the states, Gauntlet is trying to meet with Norman Osborn and meeting the roadblock that isVictoria Hand. Green's able to make enough ruckus to get Norman out of his office to shut him up. Gauntlet quickly asks Osborn about the Shadow Initiative and gives the HAMMER Director a quick run down on what they're up to and why HAMMER needs to look into it. Osborn assures Sergeant Green that the matter is already well taken care of. He then shoos the Sergeant away so he can figure out what the hell the Shadow Initiative is and to actually get it taken care of. He also needs to figure out what to do with Gauntlet.

In Madripoor, Taskmaster's decision to switch sides is being met with skepticism by Hardball and Scorpion. No surprise there. The Shadow Initiative originally came to Madripoor in order to capture Hardball, a former Initiative cadet. Until they can determine the Shadow Initiative's current intentions, they decide to disarm them and put them in cells. As he's being led away, Bengal asks about the fate of Komodo. Komodo is Hardball's former girlfriend and a member of the Initiative that came with the Shadow team for this little op. She was depowered (which, in her case, also means de-legged) and captured last issue. Hardball's not giving any info out on his ex and isn't happy to be asked.

The team is lead to the armory while Taskmaster berates Bengal for asking any questions about Komodo. Typhoid Mary is quickly losing her marbles. Once they get to Hydra's armory, the team flies right into action and takes out the Hydra agents present.

Bengal is happy to learn that they weren't actually about to join Hydra. Green is not his color. Taskmaster sets Constrictor to work on contacting HAMMER while he works on calming Typhoid Mary. Easier said than done, especially when Hydra renews the attack.

The Hydra agents try using SPIN tech darts to negate Typhoid Mary's powers but she's not going out like that. She's already switched personalities and sets the darts and the Hydra agents on fire.

Hardball and Scorpion aren't with the burning Hydra agents. They're actually interogating a depowered Komodo. Hydra is still after the regenerative properties in Komodo's blood. Once they have that, Hardball is going to set her free and warns her about returning. Komodo isn't having any of this and tells Hardball about how his family is being treated since he went to the dark side. The commotion happening with the Shadow Initiative finally gets noticed and it's not a moment too soon for Hardball.

Typhoid Mary has taken out a wall in the Hydra hideout even though Taskmaster warns her it's going to attract attention. Mary's current personality doesn't give a damn. She escapes into the jungles of Madripoor warning the rest of the team on what'll happen if they meet her again.

Constrictor's sent the message to HAMMER but doesn't know when or if they'll actually show up. He's all for collecting those SPIN tech darts and booking. Unfortunately, they've got more Hydra to deal with and, this time, it's the powered members: Hardball, Scorpion, Roughhouse, and Bloodscream. It's three on four but Taskmaster isn't going to try talking his way out. It's big fight time.

In the end, it's actually two on three with Scorpion and Hardball taking a back seat and letting Roughhouse and Bloodscream do all the work. It turns out that Scorpion isn't really that loyal to Hardball and, after watching him, she knows that he isn't either. She's working for someone else (probably Fury-- everyone is working for Fury) and this Hydra base is going down hard. She gives him a warning and a kiss and is off to take this Hydra base down.

Hardball is actually concerned for Komodo but he knows that she's too good for him. He makes a play to disable the SPIN tech darts in the room before finding that his personal supply has been stolen by Scorpion (probably during that kiss). Constrictor's not having the same luck with Roughhouse as he did earlier. Looks like the same moves don't work a second time.

It doesn't matter because the cavalry arrives. Ant-Man! The cool one! He takes out Roughhouse with an inner ear attack before exploding out from inside Bloodscream. HAMMER agents are all over the scene.

Constrictor runs after an escaping Hardball only to learn that the big Hydra man was just leading him to Komodo. Since he's reached her room, he surrenders after explaining why to Constrictor (it has to do with Komodo being better off without him).

It's all over but the aftermath. We learn that HAMMER's response was so quick because they were already in the area and, since the last issue of T-Bolts featured them in Madripoor, I'm gonna guess that's why. Komodo's been repowered. Osborn berates Ant-Man for telling Taskmaster anything about the Thunderbolts. He also brings in Bengal's wife. It's all happy endings, here.

And Hardball? He ends up being the last prisoner in Prison 42 before it's overrun by Blastaar and his Negative Zone army. Wonder what happened to him after that?

Osborn dismisses most of the Shadow Initiative so that they can enjoy their downtime in style. He holds Taskmaster back to ask him a very important question. How would he like to run the Initiative?

asm595.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #595
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Phil Jimenez

Harry Osborn is many things. He's that dude with the terrible hair. He's the best friend of Peter Parker. He's the son of Norman Osborn (who apparently passed him the hair gene). Right now, he's the dude that embarrasses Peter Parker in front of two young women before turning things around and getting Peter their phone numbers. He's that kind of guy and, right now, he's on top of the world. Not because he's actually on top of the world but because he's chosen to live life to the fullest no matter what it deals him.

And life has dealt him a number of blows, lately. On top of his ex-girlfriend turning out to be Menace, a Green Goblin wannabe, he's still estranged from his father after the excellent New Ways to Die story arc. Norman, of course, has risen to the top of Avengers Tower in that time.

Peter's handling Norman's rise to power less gracefully than his best friend. He wants Osborn to fall and do it as hard as possible. Norman no longer knows his secret identity thanks to some magic whammy that probably won't ever be fully explained, but there's a deep personal connection between the two that just won't go away. Norman has screwed with Peter's life way too much and seeing the villain just get rewarded like this is pretty damn frustrating.

Peter brings this to a staff meeting at Frontline. It's a pretty anti-Osborn paper since Ben Urich is the guy that coined the term "Dark Reign" in the Marvel Universe. Urich's been after Osborn since DR began and is currently running around Dark Reign: Hawkeye investigating the situation. Here, however, he's got to play editor. Peter brings to the table everything that Norman has done recently, from having his jail time commuted so that he could run the T-Bolts (a team of criminals) to being promoted to head HAMMER with a blank check to write his own agenda. Hell, Osborn was the frickin' Green Goblin. Why doesn't that bother anyone?

Well, it does. It bothers Ben Urich but none of this is new information and Urich found out first hand just how much people care about Osborn being the Green Goblin. They don't. All that matters is that Osborn killed the Skrull Queen and his Thunderbolts defended Washington D.C. from invasion. They need new proof and a new story to bury Osborn with. Not the same old, same old. Peter sees this as fear but, well, he's wrong. Urich is all about taking down Stormin' Norman. They just need to check and recheck anything they can get on the current Top Cop.

Meeting adjourned, Peter is confronted by another Frontline employee: Norah, a reporter and possible love interest. Noray is one of Joe Kelly's creations, if I'm remember correctly, so she has a very distinct Kelly-voice. She's definitely an Osborn backer but Peter's conviction has her intrigued. Looks like someone's going to actually look into Norman's little empire. Peter's still pretty angry and storms off.

One of the benefits of being in the New Avengers is that Spider-Man gets to hang out with Wolverine. That's good for sales, good for Marvel, and good for you. The two discuss taking Norman Osborn down because that's really all Peter can think about right now. Logan reminds Spidey that they already tried this with a whole lot more backup and failed. What they should be looking at is the long term. Osborn will fall on his own if they just let him. At the same time, though, Wolverine questions Peter on his motives. Is he here to take Norman out of power of off the guy? What's the line here? Even Peter doesn't know. Still, Logan isn't all about the sound advice. He also tells Peter that, when Norman eventually slips up and gives him an opening, take the guy off the board. Forever. Peter understands but is that even in his nature?

Well, the dude made a deal with the devil, right? Who knows? (yes, the current Peter doesn't remember that deal and probably wouldn't repeat the moment-- especially given fan reaction to it happening in the first place)

There are other things going on in the life of Peter Parker. One of those things happened to everyone in New York City: J. Jonah Jameson is now the Mayor. The other thing is a bit more personal but still involves that jolly mayor: Aunt May is engaged to marry J. Jonah Jameson Sr, Mayor Jameson's father. This leads to an awesome scene at Gracie Mansion where Peter and J. Jonah Jamesone get pictures taken and deal with the fact that they may very soon be very related. Harry's on hand to help Peter stay sane and because he likes to see May happy. Jameson Jr. is all about trying to break up this engagement but Peter hasn't seen his aunt this happy in a long time. Also, J. Jonah's dad is pretty awesome. If only Peter hadn't walked in on the two having the sex. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrross.

Anyway, the final dinner guest has arrived so it's time to meet in the dining room for a Star Wars moment. At the head of the table is... Norman Osborn. No one pulls out their blasters or uses their force powers but that's what they'd like to do. Norman smiles at the rest of the room but there's more tension in here than you can cut with a knife. Harry is seething while J. Jonah is gushing all over his prize guest. Aunt May isn't a fan of the big Oz and we learn that neither is the senior Jameson. They excuse themselves from dinner to the dismay of the junior Jameson.

Honestly, Jameson Jr. has history with Ozzy as well. He once took over the Bugle right out from under Jameson. There was also the time when the old building was blown up by the Green Goblin. Jameson just likes to be around powerful people. Norman excuses the two senior citizens but Jameson Sr. doesn't leave before taking a shot at Norman's questionable character and his hiding his actions behind the American Flag. This is just what Peter has wanted to see all friggin' issue. Osborn takes it well and dishes out that Jameson Sr was dishonorably discharged from the military.

So much dirt! What's that about! We'll find out later on. For now, we get straight to the meeting between Harry and his dad. Peter tries to do his bit to protect his best friend from this confrontation but Harry's got to fight his own battles now. Norman relates that his son won't answer his calls, won't open his mail, and just won't have anything to do with him. Osborn showed up here because JJJ told him Harry would be there. Norman offers Harry a place with the Avengers program, promising that he's a new man in a new world.

Harry just laughs. Norman tries to continue but Harry cuts him off. Offer denied. He thanks Mayor Jameson for inviting him and apologizes for the drama. Harry gives Aunt May a kiss on the cheek, gives some sage advice to Peter from earlier in the issue ("life on life's terms"), and departs. Peter knows this isn't over. Norman's a hard man to say no to.

And, wouldn't you know it, later that night, Harry is met at his apartment by an old flame. That's right, Menace is in the house! She's looking a whole lot more female this time around and her horns have grown to full length instead of the Hellboy look she was sporting earlier. Lilly seems to be having trouble keeping in control and Harry tells her that's all about the Goblin Serum in her blood. Menace isn't here to talk about that or to fight. She's here to show Harry something...

Norman Osborn is driving around in his limo while having a holographic conference with Ms. Hand. They're discussing stuff like Clint Barton's PR play in New Avengers but Osborn is more interested in his son. That's good because that's what Spider-Man's interested in as well. Spidey rips off the top of Norman's limo and carries the HAMMER Director off while Victoria calls in the Dark Avengers.

Spider-Man gives Ozzy the beat down the man truly deserves all while threatening him about leaving Harry alone. Osborn isn't one to actually listen to something Spider-Man says. In fact, this is all the more reason to go after his son. Still, Peter's not thinking straight. He's all rage and no thinking. Osborn makes it clear that Spidey's just bought himself a world of pain.

Peter is about to take Logan's advice and kill Norman but that final blow never comes. Osborn's cell rings and Norman answers it while Spidey looks on, stunned. It turns out it's Harry. He's just accepted Norman's offer to join his father at Avengers Tower.

Spider-Man lets go of Norman and walks off while the former Green Goblin laughs maniacally in victory.

Why would Harry ever do such a thing? Because Lilly is pregnant. Working with his father may be the only way to ensure the safety of his child.

mm39.jpgMs. Marvel #39
Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Sana Takeda

In Saudi Arabia, a bunch of dudes are cruising around the desert in their Hummers enjoying the fact that they are awesome and can drive around a desert in their gas guzzling all-terrain vehicles when they suddenly stop and focus on something right about them and out of panel. Turns out it's a flying, glowing purple chick speaking some odd alien language where the same symbols mean completely different things. Maybe it's how she's saying them.

Or it's like in Return of the Jedi where Leia's in disguise as a bounty hunter and only says "yoto yoto kay" and that means whatever C-3PO translates it out as.

Anyway, purple glowing chick is asking for the lokation of something and those Hummer drivers are all about answering her mostly because she's causing their eyes to bleed. Two batches of something. One is on the boat. One is in Atlanta. That's awesomely vague directions but glowing purple chick is satisfied with the answers and melts the Hummer drivers for being so forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Atlanta is getting hit by a meteor. The current Ms. Marvel, Dr Karla Sofen, is on hand to divert it but it still takes out lives. In the voice over, she's talking to the press about what caused a meteor to crash into Atlanta. Turns out A.I.M. was behind it. Karla tells the media that she tried to divert the thing but it was too big to do much about. The reporter in the foreground tells her that she must have still caused it to kill a lot less people and it seems Ms. Marvel's fine with just going with that story.

Sofen has time for just one more question and a familiar cast member gets to ask it. It's former SHIELD Agent Sum! You can tell because of his distinctive facial scarring. Anyway, he asks what the hell happened to the real Ms. Marvel and Karla implies something about Skrulls. With that, she flies off for a chat with Norman Osborn. It takes place in Atlanta via telephone conference with Norman in New York.

What Karla tells Norman about this incident isn't exactly true. It's about the same amount of spin she gave to the public. She was supposed to meet with the Atlanta branch of AIM and broker a deal between them and Osborn. Sofen tells Osborn that she went inside in her civies, being all spy-like, but the truth is she entered as Ms. Marvel and started the fight by taking out a wall. First impressions are very important.

She blasts the receptionist across the room and the rest of the office crew happen to all be armed with space guns. They train on her but the big boss, Reginald Fisher, gets them to not kill her to death.

This is when Ms. Marvel actually delivers Osborn's message. Ozzy wants to reunite the disparate factions of AIM and have them working for him. Fisher just laughs this offer off. He then leads Karla to the lower levels to show her why AIM isn't going to be bargained with.

We also get the 411 on what this branch of AIM was all about. They're accountants. Well, were accountants. They got bored and decided to do more AIM-like stuff in their off time. They were given two MODOC (Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing) to do their job but they took those unites apart, added a little Storyteller (which is, apparently, from an earlier adventure from the Carol Danvers days) and created Storyteller 2.0.

The original Storyteller could create things out of his mind. The current version is actually a bunch of MODOK-like fetuses resting in jars. They're linked together and will create whatever they're told to create. Reggy's team has just told them to imagine a big meteor crashing into New York. That is the Atlanta branch's answer to Osborn's proposal.

Fisher expects Ms. Marvel to go save the day, stop the meteor, and get out of his hair. She doesn't seem that concerned, of course, because she's not actually the hero she's pretending to be. Then, suddenly, she hears voices talking to her. In her head. Asking for help. Fisher doesn't hear them but they are about to have a profound impact on his life.

Now, Karla doesn't tell Osborn about half of this. She never tells him anything about the little MODOC fetuses. She explains that it's all part of some satellite array where they grabbed a meteor out of the asteroid belt, held it up in orbit for half a year, and then sent it crashing down to New York, where Ms. Marvel caught the thing and redirected it to hit AIM's Atlanta base. Norman's not entirely happy that AIM chose to attack him instead of accepting the deal but Ms. Marvel's response is satisfactory. He's actually pleased with how hardcore she was in handling the whole affair.

Elsewhere, on "the boat" in the Pacific, a glowing blue chick (possibly the same person that was glowing purple earlier) is setting the entire place on fire in order to locate another batch of MODOC fetuses. The little baby MODOCs weren't expecting a glowing blue chick. They were expecting Ms. Marvel.

At Avengers Tower, Ms. Marvel has loaded up the Atlanta MODOCs into her walk in closet and told them that the reason she can't tell Norman Osborn they're there is because he would totally abuse them. This, coming from Karla Sofen, is not compelling since she'll do much the same given a chance. The little MODOCs are desperate for her to rescue the others and she says she'll do what she can. She's also calling them "her babies." Someone needs a pet.

Just as Karla closes the walk in closet door, she is covered in flames. It looks like another flying glowing chick, this one in yellow, has appeared. Using the same symbols the purple one used, this one demands the MODOCs. Next issue will be big fight time.

dre3.jpgDark Reign: Elektra #3
Writer: Zeb Wells
Penciler: Clay Mann

Our story begins with a dream sequence/ flashback. In it, the Skrulls are experimenting on Elektra, trying to get her to reveal her "big secret." Elektra slowly fades out of this dream and back into reality. What she finds is Night Nurse looking over her. When Elektra passed out at the offices of Nelson and Murdock, Foggy brought her down to the Night Nurse to get her fixed up.

Natchios is handcuffed to her bed because not doing so would have been a bad idea. Night Nurse tells her that Foggy also brought a suitcase of her things down for her when she woke up. That Foggy. He's considerate.

The problem with being replaced by a Skrull is no one knows when they were talking to you and when they were talking to the Skrull. Night Nurse decides to give Elektra the benefit of the doubt and says that the last time they met was probably the Skrull since that incident wasn't very friendly. WhileNight Nurse is talking, Elektra is busy getting those handcuffs off. It's not like she's going to attack the nurse or anything. She just doesn't like being locked up after being a prisoner for so long.

Elektra is patched up pretty well. She's about as talkative as she's been the past two issues so it's up to Night Nurse to fill in the gaps in conversation. It doesn't take long before this leads into a huge fight scene. No, not with Night Nurse. There are people after Elektra for some offense or another and they have tracked her down. Elektra gives Night Nurse a warning to get on the floor but the Nurse hasn't realized what's about to happen. Elektra ends up throwing a needle at the nurse's leg in order to get her to drop to the ground. It saves her from geting shot up by the arriving mercenary.

The girl that's shooting at Elektra is the same one that we saw last issue. If she's someone we should know, I haven't seen her before or, at least, don't recognize her. She's big into sub-machine guns, though. Also, she's missing her eye. Later on, she'll blame that on Elektra but Elektra recognizes her about as much as I do.

The assassin gives Elektra the line that is to be delivered to her upon finishing the contract: "The stars are safe in the sky." We don't know what that means and neither does Elektra. Elektra launches out two more needles but the assassin blocks them from hitting her face. Then, the assassin decides it would be an awesome idea to stop aiming her two guns at Elektra and kill Night Nurse instead. Amateur mistake. Natchios ends up getting the drop on her before the Night Nurse is actually shot up and kicks our would be assassin out the window.

Night Nurse warns Elektra about moving around in her condition and asks if there's anyone that should be contacted. There isn't. Elektra is all alone. Fortunately, Foggy brought along that suitcase filled with essentials. Things like clothes (Elektra's been fighting in her underwear), sais, and throwing stars. Those type of essentials. While the assassin continues to shoot up at Night Nurse's window, Elektra gears up for the main event.

Meanwhile, at Avengers Tower, Norman Osborn is looking for answers. To that end he's called up two Skrull prisoners who make a lame attempt at hiding under the guise of French tourists. They are zapped by their collars until they revert to Skrull form. It's question time. It seems that Elektra was damn important to the Skrulls. She was the only one experimented on. These two Skrulls happen to be the ones that performed the experiments. Add to that that the Skrull Elektra's body was so important to the Skrulls that her body was taken back by the Skrulls after the invasion began. So... what's up?

After very few threats, one of the Skrulls cracks. He tells Norman that they were searching for the secrets of Elektra's resurrection. Now, we've all been wondering for years why Elektra is running around the Marvel Universe after Bullseye killed her all those years ago. It's never been properly explained. Elektra hid the secret in her mind and the Skrulls were forced to resort to torture techniques to try and retrieve it. As we get back to the big fight, Osborn asks for more details.

Back at the big fight, Elektra uses a sai to distract the assassin girl so that she can burst out of the window without getting all shot up.

Reaching the ground, Elektra only has to dodge bullets for so long before the assassin runs out of bullets. You'd think this would be where Elektra pulls some advantage but, instead, she has to deal with the assassin's partner, Mr. Sniper, while the assassin reloads.

Natchios is able to dodge the sniper fire because she's all ninja and watches the sniper rifle's muzzle flash. Two shots dodged later and the assassin girl has reloaded. Elektra is able to find the time to throw her sai and a throwing star out and disarm her assailant. Since Mr. Sniper is now reloading, Assassin Girl has to try her luck at hand to hand.

Which is not what you want to do with Elektra. Our ninja gains the advantage and moves the fight out of Mr. Sniper's range. She's subdued Assassin Girl and now starts trying to get some answers. Chief question: What the heck does "the stars are safe in the sky" mean? Assassin Girl isn't going to answer but she gives hints about what this is about. It's something about burning a town to the ground. Somehow, the survivors have the money and the drive to take revenge on Elektra.

So, yeah. Probably Skrull. I'd bet good money on it.

Elektra refutes these hints as obviously not her but Assassin Girl has been told to expect that kind of talk. The man financing this whole thing might have his own motivations and inside info. Elektra wants to meet this guy but you know that Assassin Girl isn't just going to lead her to him. Elektra gives her a good kick to the face before getting a little bit into Mr. Sniper's sights. She gets her cheek grazed by a bullet.

Elektra checks her wound before looking right up at the sniper and pointing. Mr. Sniper thinks that's pretty bad ass. That's about the last thought he'll have. Dark Hawkeye drives an arrow into... probably his neck... and takes the sniper rifle for himself. He looks on his target and does a bit of remiscing. Dark Hawkeye is Bullseye: the guy that originally killed Elektra.

th1.jpgDark Reign: The Hood #1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kyle Hotz

We start with a typical stakeout by a mysterious stranger. They're looking on an area where a lot of super villains have been rumored to have turned up. This person is looking for someone specific. The Hood. Before the end of the page, our mysterious stranger has found their target. There's the Hood. I wonder what he's up to...

In Central Park (which I think was renamed "Victory Park" or something after the big Secret Invasion throwdown), John King (one of the Hood's lieutenants and also his cousin) and two of the Wrecking Crew (Wrecker and Thunderball) are up really early to pull a special job. They aren't the only team of villains set up for this job. There's a lot of money up for grabs and the Hood really wants to get at it.

The other two teams are assembled in other areas around New York. Piledriver and Bushwacker are uptown. Griffin and Crossfire are set up by the George Washington Bridge. They're all covering possible routes that might be traveled by their target. So what are they after?

Due to a fun little scandal, the Sultan of Brunei's nephew, Babu Marzouk, is being called home and he's taking all the illegal riches the royal family has gathered back with him. Three trucks are being set out and only one is legit. The others are decoys. Teams set up. Now, they only have to wait for news on which one is real and that team will strike out and get the prize.

We cut to Babu as he's grumpily getting into his limo for the trip to the airport and then out of the United States forever. His attendants have gotten him a parting gift. It's a lady all burka'd up but not in the traditional sense. She's showing a lot of leg. Babu is starting to feel a bit better. Babu has been living a western lifestyle for many years and doesn't need his prostitute to wear a veil. He tells her to take it off and she does... only to replace it with a metal mask. Yep. Madame Masque is getting about as many appearances as Osborn lately but, since this is the Hood's book, it's appropriate. She pulls a gun on the Sultan's nephew and demands to know which truck is the right one to hit.

It turns out to be King's team. The truck rolls up and the Wrecker gets right to work. The truck crashes but the crew inside isn't down for the count. The guards leave the vehicle with their guns blazing but that's not going to do any harm to Wrecker or Thunderball. They're nigh invulnerable. The guards are prepared for this, however. You kind of have to be when you're in New York City. They have a Neural Ion Gun and it does a much better job at stopping the super villains.

Wrecker and Thunderball fall to the ground in agony. They can barely speak. Is this game over for our villainous lot? No, it's just time for the main character to show up and "save the day" with a lot of gun fire. The Hood teleports in with his pistols aimed at the two guards. Shoots them both dead.

Thunderball is a little freaked out by this. The Wrecking Crew aren't exactly upstanding citizens but they aren't used to killing people on a heist. Wrecker's happy for the save, though. Hood explains that it was necessary. These guys wouldn't have stopped. They put the bodies in the back of the truck and drive the thing to their safehouse.

John King sits in the back with the Hood. King is happy with the way this went down and, since most of what they just stole was already illegally gotten, the Sultan of Brunei isn't going to bother the American Government over it. Parker (the Hood) is fine with all that but he's got other concerns. He's a little worried that he's gotten more bloodthirsty since he put on the hood. John doesn't see a problem with it. They're on top of the world. Might as well enjoy the ride. He leaves to the front to tell the Wrecker how to get to the Safehouse.

When King leaves, Parker is confronted by Dormammu who uses one of the dead bodies as a vessel. Dormy tells Parker that he'll always be there to help him out. The Hood, wanting to be certain that he's still the one in charge, isn't happy to learn that he might be being influenced by Dormammu and not just powered up by him. Damn demons! Always making you think that maybe you aren't you anymore. He starts yelling at the body only to have John return and ask if the Hood was calling for him. Parker makes an excuse about making a cell phone call but he's still pointing his gun at the dead guy. King lets it go.

At Safehouse Four, they unload the riches. Chemistro takes care of the bodies. Parker shows off the treasure to his crew and tells them that it's about time they got something out of this criminal life. They've taken their lumps but held together. This is the rewards for criminals playing nice with each other. Still, no touching the loot until they divvy it up. The Syndicate parties.

Two hours later, the party is in full swing but we get one of those moments where some of the more independant thugs start wondering why the Hood is in charge and not them. Guys like the Controller and Dr. Demonicus, for example, are used to leading their own parties, not taking orders. The Hood teleports in to deliver a stern lecture.

He also mentions the benefits of working together. He's setting up Safehouse Three as a tech lab catering to all the scientific types so that they can but their skills to work for the Syndicate. The Hood then takes his leave to go "talk" with Madam Masque. The science guys are happy to recieve this tech stuff and think it's a sign that the Hood will leave the thinking to them.

That just gets John King to laugh. He tells them the difference between them and the Hood. They all started off as scientists and nerds who then got powers and slid into crime. The Hood started off as a criminal who then got powers and became a better criminal. He knows how this all works. This makes sense to the super nerd crowd and they give the alcoholic King booze as a reward for his insight.

Upstairs, the Hood and Madame Masque discuss the job they just pulled with Masque demanding a larger cut because Babu peed on her and not in the R. Kelly sense. That's still gross, R. Kelly. The Hood never gives an actual answer but leads the whole thing into a pick up line. Masque wants the lights dimmed down first. No one sees under the mask. It's one of her things... even though she showed him her real face in New Avengers. This might happen prior to that arc. She takes off her mask, then they both take off their clothes. Stuff happens. Fade to black.

We fade back in as Parker gets home. His real home with his girlfriend, Sara, and baby, Brianna. Sara's sleeping but hasn't been out long. The baby's teething and it's keeping her up. Parker and her get into a small fight about the hours he keeps but she still asks him to get into bed to sleep instead of the couch. Parker has never really told Sara what he does for a living and, while she no longer has any illusions that it's legal, bright, and shiny, she doesn't know that he's a super villain. He tells her that he wants to ride his current job for as long as it lasts because he's setting up his daughter's future. Sara makes sure he knows that she gets that it isn't honest work. She just asks that no one gets hurt while he's bending laws. Parker's asleep by then and can't give her an answer.

We end with the same stakeout we started with. This time we learn that Parker leaves his ride several blocks away from his safehouse before suiting up and flying in. We watch as he starts teleporting in but our mysterious stake out stranger is on to his tricks and switches to thermal. The Hood gets hit before he's teleported inside. Parker crashes through a window and skids across the floor. His attacker quickly join him in the room and starts gloating over her strike.

The Hood's going to have to face off against the brand new White Fang.

wo36.jpgWolverine Origins #36
Writer: Daniel Way
Penciler: Doug Braithwaite

Our comic begins with a scene that might be Daken getting his brand new Muramasa coated claw. It looks like he's looking at his hands and seeing them all decomposed in front of him. The voice over is between someone with purple chat boxes and someone with green. Daken is probably purple. He asks a lot of questions and gets answers like, "you're not supposed to feel" and "You're already dead." Y'know. Pleasant words of comfort. When Daken looks up, he sees that Wolverine is looking over him and is assumed to be the dude giving him this awesome advice.

But maybe that's all a dream. Wolverine wakes up to find himself in the mens bathroom after his fight with Victor knocked him out. Logan struggles to his feet thinking he's lost. Daken and the Tinkerer are beyond his reach and Victor was able to keep him away. He thinks better of that, though. He knows that he won't quit and that Victor's hasn't succeeded yet. Logan will keep coming and coming until it's too late. Logan has Victor's scent and begins tracking the muscle in order to find his son.

Meanwhile, the Tinkerer is getting right to his work. He finds that Daken is very similar to his daddy physiologically. It's the sword that is more interesting. The Muramasa Blade is actually a form of plasma disguising itself as metal. The disguise is so good, however, that coating Daken's claw will work just like bonding adamantium. The Muramasa Blade, however, is a wholy different kind of metal with different properties. It can't come in contact with soft tissue so the Tinkerer has designed adamantium sheaths that will be placed in Daken's forearms. Additionally, the Muramasa blade isn't adamantium. It can be broken and shattered. The shards could be devastating. Tinkerer tells Daken to be careful with his third claws since there's only enough metal to coat one claw on each hand.

Logan's finally tracked down Victor Hudson. By this time, though, he's given in too much to his instincts and goes straight for the rematch. Victor is pretty damn strong and quick. He grabs Logan out of the air and smashes him into a nearby window. There's a police officer on the scene who makes his way in to break up the violence. The locals beg him not to get involved because, well, super powered throw down in progress. A cop's not going to be much use. Being a representative of law and order, the guy's gotta get involved no matter how bad the odds. His shout of "FREEZE!" is just enough to distract Wolverine who's also trying to reign in his out of control instincts so he can get back to tracking down his son. It gives Victor another opening for a haymaker.

Victory's been hurt and stumbles off. The police officer shouts again for Victor to stop but he's not close enough for Wolverine to be his main problem. Logan's still fighting off those dratted instincts and nearly guts the cop before the officer begins crying and talks about having a kid. Logan's got one of those too and runs off to find him.

Logan tracks Tinkerer and his son to a speeding underground train. He drops in on it and begins to board. Victor's aboard as well and it's time for round three... or IS it? Wolverine realizes that Victor isn't guarding Daken. He's guarding Romulus. Romy's the mysterious guy who's been behind all of this from the beginning. So, Logan either fights his way through Victor to get a chance at facing Romulus or he turns around and rushes off to save his son. No real choice, actually. It's family all the time.

Logan struggles his way through the train only to find that he's too late. Wolverine threatens the Tinkerer but gets no response. Daken breaks out of his glass tube with two shiny muramasa coated claws; one on each arm. Their the ones that come up akwardly from below the hand. Wolverine struggles with his son and with not getting struck by those Muramasa claws. He subdues Daken as his son screams out about Romulus being on the train.

Except Romy's not here anymore. Wolverine let him go.

Yep, cut the train in two.

Daken thinks Logan just made a stupid choice and stabs him in the chest before running away. Wolverine realizes that his son isn't going to be saved and that he should have gone for Romulus instead. Still, he's his son. You gotta try, right?

After all, Daken never popped the Muramasa claw on his dad. Wolverine discusses this with his Russian friend, Sergei. With Daken playing Wolverine in the Dark Avengers, it give Logan a chance to move around the board more freely. Still, it's Romulus he wants and Romy's keen on who the real Wolverine is. It doesn't matter, though. Logan's going to take Romulus out. There's nothing stopping him now.

Elsewhere, a prison begins preparing for the arrival of a prisoner that they have no hope of dealing with. Omega Red.

ff16.jpgThe Fantastic Four #16
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: JAck Kirby

This issue starts up with Johnny Storm flying across the sky at night. This causes lots of random things to happen. Some stargazer thinks he's discovered a new comet. An operation is completed once the power goes out at a hospital because of a well placed window. A bunch of crooks are caught when Johnny shines a flaming spotlight on them while flying by. And all he's trying to do is get home. No one's returning his calls. He returns to the Baxter Building to find that the rest of the FF have been shrunk in size and are being threatened by an air duct.

After Johnny saves them, they shoot back up to regular size. They each then embarrassingly admit that they've had their own size changing incidents but thought they'd better keep it to themselves because someone might think they're crazy. Because that's a brilliant move. Reed wishes that he knew how to contact Ant-Man because this is long before Hank Pym goes mad and tries killing people with robots. Pym's also a master and making things small and might be able to help them with their size changing problems.

No worries, Fantastic Four! A little ant has been listening to your conversation and is now transmitting that message back to Hank Pym. Suddenly, Pym has the best spy ring ever. He could get any state secret just be employing ants all over the place. That's scary, considering how crazy the man becomes.

At this point, Hank's nothing if not a consummate good guy who hasn't changed costumes and personalities a million times. He heads right off to help the Fantastic Four after making sure that the Wasp knows not to join him. In Ant-Man's style, he fires himself out of a cannon and then gets picked up by to flying ants who carry him the rest of the way. He shows up at the Baxter Building just as they're about to try getting his phone number from information. Reed quickly puts the little dude under glass so that he can here him at such small size because Ant-Man is nothing if not all about his size gimmick. This is the dude that wouldn't even go to normal size to fire a shotgun to save the city. He had to do it the hard way because he's frickin' Ant-Man.

Reed explains the whole situation to Ant-Man and tells the tiny hero that they need some defense against it and possibly a way to shrink on their own. Pym gives him his shrinking and enlarging syrums so that, if they're shrunk, they can return to normal size on their own and flies off on his ants to see if he can figure something else out. Reed momentarily suspects Ant-Man of shrinking them simply so he could get a guest spot in their comic while Sue finds another dude to crush over. We know that Reed's gonna use that stuff to shrink the Fantastic Four.

Before we get there, however, we need to get to the point in the comic where Ben gets to look human for a page or so. This time, Reed force feeds him a potion while the Thing is doing some house cleaning at Alicia Master's house. It changes him back to human and causes him to drop the piano he was lifting. Next time don't shock people with something like that, Reed! Alicia isn't happy with this because she likes her big rock-hard man and Ben tells Reed to stop trying to turn him back to human and get with the learning how to cure blindness bit. Before scene change, Reed, Ben, and Alicia here a tiny woman's voice telling them to flee for their lives from the evil Doctor Doom.

Johnny gets the same message while showing off to a bunch of teenagers. Sue gets it while sampling perfumes that will make her undetectable to canines. Well, a warning that Doctor Doom is after them delivered by a tiny woman's voice is a good reason to assemble your team. Since it was a tiny voice and, considering their recent size changing problems (and also considering that Doctor Doom shrunk out of existence in their last encounter), the team drinks Pym's shrinking formula and heads to the Micro World for the very first time... only to find it is ruled over by Doom himself!

Ben runs up on Doom only to have the monarch shrink the entire Fantastic Four even further. With them at extremely tiny size, Doctor Doom has a chance to relate to them the brilliant story of his adventures in Micro World. When he first got there, Micro World was a peaceful place. He quickly ingratiated himself with the royal family by building them a handheld telescope. The King gave him the position of court scientist and Doom used that position to build a shrink ray. Shrinking the royal family, he overthrew the government and put himself in charge. From there, he just kept creating things until he was able to shrink the FF and cause shenanigans.

Story told, he orders his men to capture the Four. That proves difficult even at their tiny size because of the super powers they possess. Sue continues to prove herself the weakest link by getting herself captured by Doom. The rest of the team attempt a rescue but that just positions themselves for Doom to hit them all with sleep mist.

They awake in their brand new prison with the royal family, the "King" and Princess Pearla. Pearla's the one that sent the message of warning to the Fantastic Four. Their prison is surrounded by a lake of acid with robotic fish swimming about doing Doom's spy work for the monarch. Johnny is attracted to the Princess right away because he's totally a gold digger. That dude is always attracted to Princesses.

Pearla explains that Doom wants to marry her and has threatened an alliance with a neighboring planet, the Tok, if she doesn't comply. This might be to solidify his hold on the throne because Doom isn't really the type to go all lovey dovey on a female. Pearla goes on the describe the crappy conditions that the FF will be forced to live under if Doom allies with the Tok. The Princess is pretty much in a state of despair but the FF just got here and haven't given up the fight yet.

In the regular world, Ant-Man has returned to the Baxter Building to find that the Four have all taken his shrink serum to the extreme and shrunk down to another world. Ant-Man does the only logical thing and follows them. He gets into a fight with the guards and is soon overwhelmed by them. Ant-Man is brought to Doctor Doom who is happy to have another big world hero to trade off to the Tok. Nice going, Ant-Man.

In the FF's prison, Sue has realized that the walls of the dungeon are resistant to the acid. The FF tear out just enough to make a capsule to hold them and then... somehow break through the wall of the cell into the acid waters outside. They float to the surface while Johnny uses his flames to blind Doom's spy fish.

In Doom's courtyard, Ant-Man is tied up and waiting to be delivered to the arriving Tok. Fortunately, the Fantastic Four have reached the surface and are preparing to rescue our size changing hero. The Invisible Girl sneaks up and unties Hank's bonds. Elsewhere, the rest of the FF are using Doom's throne to get back to "normal" size.

Now, they're prepared to send the Tok back where they came from. Thing grabs a control tower and uses it like a baseball bat to hit the Tok ship back out into space. Ant-Man is free and knocks out the two guards assigned to him. Doom pulls a gun only to have it taken from him by Sue (who gets this save to make up for her being easily captured earlier.) Doom's plans are foiled, so he makes his escape and soon sends himself back up to the larger world to prepare another trap for the FF.

For the Fantastic Four, it's all about mopping up the last of Doom's soldiers and returning the proper family to the throne. Johnny and Pearla do a bit of flirting before Ben reminds everyone that Doom still isn't captured. They're going to have to face him once they get back to the regular-sized world.

And that is, finally, the end! Join us next time for another astonishingly large week of Marvels!

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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