Sunday, April 22, 2018 • Evening Edition • "We put the "O" in OCD."

Super Reads War of Kings and Dark Reign 54

Written by SuperginraiX on Thursday, July 16 2009 and posted in Features
badguy54.jpgLet's get this thing rolling..

Today, we check out War of Kings #4, Dark Avengers #5, The Mighty Avengers #25, New Avengers: The Reunion #4, Agents of Atlas #6, Black Panther #5, The Amazing Spider-Man #596, and Blast to the Past with The Amazing Spider-Man #37. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!


Catching up is hard to do.

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

How's that War going?

wok4.jpgWar of Kings #4
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Paul Pelletier

That's exactly what Vulcan is finding out. Admiral Ka'ardum is telling him that the Empire is probably stretching it's resources too thin and maybe it's time to pull back the war effort a little bit. It's not time to just halt everything butyou can only expand so far before you extend your resources beyond capacity. Vulcan isn't really taking that very well because stopping isn't something he does well. While this conversation is happening, Vulcan's attendant is trying to beg his emperor to seek higher ground. This is all taking place in a ground assault ship in the middle action.

Ka'ardum brings up a possible cease fire in the war with the Kree. It's the Kree conflict that's taking most of the Shi'ar resources. Vulcan won't even entertain that thought but the conversation is over. A Sonic Sentry has breached the hull of their ship and has begun to strike with echos of the voice of the Kree King, Black Bolt. Ka'ardum calls for the Imperial Guard but there's hardly any time for them to react. Vulcan nearly involves himself before Talon destroys the Sentry with an energy blast.

You know who Talon is, right? If you've read Darkhawk or Ascension, you know that Talon is another Raptor (Darkhawk belongs to the "Order of the Raptors") with a blue visor and crystal. Raptors are pretty evil and we're finally going to learn why they are involved in this war... at least by the end of the book.

Ronan the Accuser is getting better after the attack from the first issue. All this time, his wife, Crystal, has remained by his side and the two are sort of bonding.

On a Kree beach, Ronan admits how impressed he is by the Inhumans. They have stalled the Shi'ar advance when they should logically be crushed by now. Crystal finds it only right to mention that it's only partly due to the Kree's Inhuman leadership. As mentioned earlier, the Shi'ar are heavily overextended. Ronan also mentions that the Kree are fighting a lot harder than they usually would. During the Kree-Shi'ar War, Hala was nega-bombed.

The two newlyweds begin to talk about the concept of marriage and how the Shi'ar gods, Sharra and Ky'thri, embody a certain principle of marriage. Shotgun marriages. It is this way that the Shi'ar deal with the universe: forcibly marrying themselves to other cultures. That's not how Crystal or Ronan view their marriage. Crystal wants an honest marriage so she informs Ronan of the fact that the Kree Uplift program isn't working. The Kree continue to be a dead end on the evolutionary path. Crystal wants that program to work and be given a higher priority.

Ronan is on the same page when it comes to the Uplift Program. He's got other issues though. He wonders why the Inhumans haven't taken advantage of any of their victories to press forward against the Shi'ar. Crystal answers that the Inhumans have a plan in place that will, hopefully, end the war with minimal loss of life for the Kree and any advance they would have made would have cost more lives than Black Bolt would have prefered. Ronan wonders what will happen if this plan fails. Crystal says there is another plan but she doesn't know what it actually is. She just knows it will be huge and probably costly.

On the Shi'ar capital world of Chandilar, Black Bolt's plan to end this war quickly is going into effect. Gladiator, fresh from joining Lilandra, is leading his Majestrix into the High Council Chambers after meeting a Lilandra supporter, Councillor D'bek. The High Council is currently in session for the purpose of returning Lilandra to the throne even though the Chancellor, Araki, isn't aware that that's it's purpose. Araki believes that the High Council has been assembled to further the war effort.

Araki is even now arguing for furthering the war effort as Councillors debate against him. They bring up that going against the Kree has also brought them into war with Ravenous and his Negative Zone bugs. As the argument continues, Lilandra enters the chambers. Araki's guards attempt to capture her but she's well defended by Gladiator and the Starjammers. Araki cries "coup" but Lilandra makes sure everyone knows that this is, in fact, a return to the true ruler of the Shi'ar. The High Council is already swayed to her side and it looks like Vulcan has been replaced.

Or... is he? Vulcan is learning about these goings on from Talon. We learn that Talon and the Fraternity of Raptors are actually assembled for the purpose of serving the Shi'ar Imperium. They've obviously been gone a long time but, now that they're back, they will serve Vulcan and help him take the Empire to the next level. It's the one with the turquoise sky and the asteroids fall twice as fast.

Talon tells Vulcan of the current threats to his rule. Lilandra about to sieze power again. The Kree/Inhuman Empire is not going down easily. Revolt all over the empire. Ravenous. There's lots of stuff working against Vulcan and he's not happy to be told about it all. Talon informs the Emperor that he's made an alliance with Blastaar from the Negative Zone. They'll take Ravenous off the board.

When Vulcan learns of Lilandra, he feels completely betrayed. He should have gotten that information already but it seems like news from Chandilar has been sabotaged. Vulcan lashes out in anger at some nearby rubble but Talon tells the Majestor that it's already taken care of.

Chandilar is rioting. While the High Council has accepted Lilandra's leadership, the public is very divided. With these riots going down, Lilandra takes a walk to the Temple of Sharra and Ky'thri. She needs to renew her oath before the High Council and Chiefs of Staff can claim her as the rightful ruler of the Shi'ar. She's surrounded by the Starjammers and Gladiator but it's still a dangerous walk. Araki has come along and is pointing out what he says are errors in her judgement. These riots dishearten Lilandra and, moreover, they surprise Gladiator. He didn't think a regime change would cause this reaction with the Shi'ar. It never had the last twenty times the Shi'ar Empire switched hands.

It's about to be more than just riots. The Shi'ar Death Commandos show up to stop Lilandra and start things off by running Councillor D'bek through with a super spear. The Death Commandos were originally seen when they killed every member of Jean Grey's family. You can imagine why Rachel Summers (I think she actually goes by "Grey" now) doesn't like them. At all. She breaks rank and goes for the kill. This is chaos Lilandra doesn't need. Araki didn't summon the Death Commandos but that doesn't mean he isn't happy to see them.

Rachel is reigned in while Gladiator begins to deal with the Commandos on his own. He's pretty successful but every battle takes time that he doesn't have. Lilandra is being lead to the temple by the Starjammers but they aren't taking her through a group of protesters any more. They are now heading through a panicked crowd of thousands that are just trying to escape the combat area.

Closer to the temple, it's still pretty much a group of protestors but they are violent and still need to be kept back. Lilandra is being protected by only Rachel and Korvus (the Shi'ar capable of wielding the Phoenix Blade even though that Blade is now depowered). To make matters worse, there's a shooter in the crowd.

The first set of shots hit bystanders and give away the shooter's position. Rachel tries to telekinetically stop the gunmen but is only able to affect the crowd around him. The shooter gets off another blast before revealing himself as the Raptor, Razor (Who is actually the body of Darkhawk with the Raptor memories controlling it). With that Razor ports out. Mission accomplished.

Rachel turns back to find that Razor's last shot rang true. Lilandra has been shot dead.

Norman Osborn has a story to sell.

da5.jpgDark Avengers #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.

Remember in The New Avengers #50 when Clint Barton went on national television and denounced Norman Osborn's Avengers team as criminals and stuff? Norman's finally getting a chance for rebuttal. They've chosen an incredibly dark back drop for this Norman's interview but, hey, this is the Dark Avengers book. It needs that cool mood lighting. The interview is, of course, completely scripted. It begins with some basic "getting to know you" questions which are interesting in themselves. "Flavor of the month." "The will of the people." "Give the country what it deserves." Stuff like that.

Ozzy begins talking about some of the amazing people he's met and we flash back to six hours prior when his Avengers were returning from Latveria only to find the Sentry hovering outside Avengers Tower. This is cause for concern because the Sentry died in their battle with Morgana Le Fey and here he is looking ominous and super. Osborn puts on his Iron Patriot armor and goes outside to have a chat with his superman.

Sentry remembers dying but isn't sure how he returned. Norman wants to talk to Bob, not the Sentry. He also keeps telling Sentry that there is no Void. This is Bob's new mantra. It's all about making sure that this super powerful schizophrenic doesn't go crazy and kill half of New York. The Dark Avengers look on as this whole thing nearly tumbles out of control. Sentry remembers dying and questions whether he's in heaven or hell.

Osborn removes his helmet and repeats the "There is no Void" mantra with Sentry until Bob sees Lindy looking up at the pair. Iron Patriot and the Sentry fly down to visit while the Dark Avengers begin to realize just how much trouble they could be in if Sentry goes nuts on them.

Which leads us back to the interview and the meat of the whole story. Clint Barton's accusations. They show a clip of Clint's attack and, since it was the New Avengers, he gets a cheery blue backdrop compared to Norman's dreary black. Clint reminded the public that Norman was once the Green Goblin and made indications that his Avengers are criminals and assassins. Clint would know. He used to date Karla Sofen, the Dark Avengers' Ms. Marvel.

Back at the interview, Norman admits to being the Green Goblin. This is easy for him to do because it's a publicly known fact. Norman isn't denying it. He says he's simply trying to put that dark part of his life behind him and wonders why the former Hawkeye would try to keep bringing it up. Ozzy tells the viewing audience that he was chemically imbalanced and taken advantage of by others. Those days are behind Osborn, however. He says he sought help and recieved it. He's a better man. Cured.

After he was cured, other people wore the mask. Osborn says that most of what people think of when they think "Green Goblin" wasn't actually him. It was mutants and Spider-Man (yes, he said mutants and Spidey). He brings up an incident where he had a fake Goblin attack him and his family but he leaves out the part where he set that up. Norman brings up Nobel Prize-Winning doctors in his defense and, of course, the fact that the President trusted him enough for this burden.

We cut back five hours to the Dark Avengers. It's time for Venom and Bullseye to take their medication so they don't go insane and kill everyone. Mac Gargan (that's the current Venom/Sinister Spidey) tells Ms. Hand that Bullseye threatened to kill him at the end of the Latveria incident. Bullseye tells him to grow up but, if you'll remember, Norman ordered no infighting. This would be infighting. Bullseye yells back that Gargan bit his shoulder and attacked the team which was because Morgana had taken him over. This leads to Ares getting the team back in line.

At the end of his speach, Ares swats Bullseye to the ground. Bullseye comes back up with his usual threats but the god of war only responds with the fact that he didn't hit the assassin. He slapped him. If he had hit Bullseye, ol' Lester would be broken. Bullseye looks around the room before taking his meds with a smile. When everyone looks away, he scowls and probably plots some type of revenge against the team. Just you wait. Bullseye is going to try killing them all sometime in the future.

Back at the interview, Norman is taking apart the former Hawkeye. Back when Barton started out, he was cast in the role of reluctant villain and got his chance at redemption when he joined the Avengers. Norman brings up that Clint was offered a place on the Initiative (he was but it was more of a threat to step in line). Ozzy claims to not know why Barton turned it down but that there's no love for the former Green Goblin in the current Ronin's heart. Maybe it's what's been happening lately. Cap's dead. Iron Man's fallen. Thor... well, Thor's still out there, right? Osborn thinks it might have been about Clint's heroes falling while Norman and his lot have risen up.

The big turn aroun is when Norman claims that Clint's public statements are a cry for help. Osborn would totally help him out if only he'd come to him. Since he won't, Norman is duty bound to bring the Avenger in so he won't hurt himself or others. After that, Norman thumps his bible and claims this is all the Lord's work. On Osborn, that doesn't seem any bit sincere but that's because this is all spin.

Now, we're cutting to three hours ago when Ares returned home. He can't find his kid anywhere and wonders what Alex has been up to lately. He did have a kid, right? Ares isn't much of a dad. The Truancy Notice is more proof of that. Someone's not going to school.

At the interview, Norman is not about to tell the world who the Dark Avengers are. They don't need to know. Honestly, did we know who the original Avengers were? Identities are secret for a reason. Norman doesn't pull that card, though. He pulls the military card. We don't know who they are, individually. We just know they are he to protect us. That should be enough. Osborn refutes any idea that his team is made up of murderers and assassins.

An unknown amount of time ago, Nohr-Var gets an unexpected booty call from Karla Sofen. He's not turning it down. He walks into Dark Ms. Marvel's room as Bullseye looks on.

In Los Angeles, people are getting sprayed with water from an unknown source and they aren't at all happy about it. Soon after that, cars start exploding. After that, people. Los Angeles is getting attacked by an army of Atlanteans... Pacificans? Water people.

After Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel have sex, Nohr Vahr is just a little startled to learn that that is how humans do the deed. Karla decides to turn on the TV and watch Norman's interview. She wants to see how Ozzy sells his super villain filled Avengers to the public. This looks like it startles Captain Marvel even more that the whole human sex thing. He honestly didn't know that most of his team was filled with murderers and villains. He was just trying to do good.

As Karla is laughing at Osborn's interview, it's pulled for the more important new about Los Angeles. Norman gets a good look from the news studios and then runs straight to his cell phone. It's time to get his Avengers together, though he's not really keen on saying, "Avengers Assemble."

ma25.jpgThe Mighty Avengers #25
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Stephen Segovia

We begin with a flashback to happier times. Times when Goliath, Dr. Bill Foster, was still alive and Hank Pym was Yellowjacket and much less of a dick. Bill invented a Dimensional Wave Inducer that makes travel through time and space simple, easy, and efficient. The two scientists are interupted by Jan who is waiting to talk to Hank about important stuff upstairs. Hank tells her he'll just be another minute and Jan walks back upstairs. Once she's gone, Hank tells Bill to fire the Dimensional Wave Inducer up. They're gonna go exploring and leave Jan for much, much later. OK, Hank was already a dick.

Back in the relative present, Hank Pym's Mighty Avengers have a problem and it involves getting their base reanchored to reality. To avoid HAMMER infiltration, Jocasta unhooked Hank Pym's lab from the it's anchor in a Chicago mall last issue and the team only has a limited amount of time to fix that problem or all of Hank's hard work will be lost to time and space.

While Hank works out how to save his lab, USAgent and Quicksilver have a job to perform for the Global Reaction Agency. They need to go to Tibet but the only door on that side of the world is to China. They'll have to hoof it from there. Quicksilver is getting more than a little upset about being on this team. He only signed on so that he could be closer to his sister, the Scarlet Witch, but she hasn't appeared since he hooked up. Well, she actually hasn't appeared at all. Loki's doing an impersonation of Wanda Maximoff but no one knows that yet. Except us. Keep it secret, 'kay?

By the time USAgent and Quicksilver's mission is done with, the door in China will probably be gone as well so they'll need to make their own way back.

Stature asks if she and the Vision can go find the Young Avengers. They still have some important information to tell the team and they'd like to get back to that. The door to Avengers Mansion is long gone, however. Stature is upset about this but her hissy fit is interupted by Hank Pym's much larger and crazier hissy fit (#1). He's upset that he might lose his lab and all that he and Bill Foster worked for. He's pretty pissed at Jocasta for keeping it out of the hands of HAMMER and stuff. Hercules (HERCULES of all people) steps in and calms the good mad doctor down and gets Pym on the path of saving his own lab instead of having a mental breakdown and blaming all his problems on Jan's robot duplicate.

Momentarily calmed down, Hank Pym makes a call to Reed Richards. Reed doesn't have a lot of time to talk since he's got stuff going on with his kids that need his attention. That's ok. All Pym needs is Bill Foster's Dimensional Wave Inducer which is currently in Ben's possession. Bill left it to the Thing on his death since the Skrull Yellowjacket ended up siding against him in the Civil War. Reed's not about to give it back, either. Richards doesn't like that crazy look in Pym's eye and doesn't think that giving him the device is a good idea. No one even blames him because it's Hank Pym: poster boy for super hero insanity.

Reed brings up Ultron and Salvation One (that's the robot that Hank built that attacked the Avengers and only he could defeat--well, he and Jan who actually ended up doing it). Hank brings up the Thor clone/cyborg that Reed helped build that actually killed Bill Foster. This nerd fight is just escalating out of control. Pym also mentions how he just saved the world while Reed and family was trapped in a television set (in Slott's first arc on Mighty). Also, Bill's invention was based on Pym Particles. It was based on Pym's discovery. Reed counters that he knows more about Pym particles than Hank does. We are now in the middle of Hank's second hissy fit.

Reed hangs up as Johnny laughs like crazy. Hank seriously said, "It's on bitch." He's totally a calm, rational grown up. Ben and Sue are pretty upset with Reed because he wasn't acting any more grown up than Pym was. Meanwhile, Hank is planning to break into the Baxter Building and steal the Dimensional Wave Inducer.

While lots of super villains do that on a regular basis, it's not as simple for super heroes. The Baxter Building goes into complete lock down on a molecular level upon any breach. When that happens, the only way in or out is to enter and exit at the same time as one of the Fantastic Four comes in or out because security is tied to DNA-encoded security keys on their uniforms. A key part of Hank's plan involves getting the FF to use their pogo plane and also a strategic use of image inducers keyed into Skrull signatures. Reed developed a very sensitive Skrull detection device that has only one design flaw. It assumes you don't want to be seen as a Skrull. Even the androids are to be outfitted with the image inducers to supplement their own holographic systems. Pym needs to design quite a few of these babies for his "army."

In China, USAgent and Quicksilver are getting set for their mission. Unfortunately, they're in the wrong country. They need to be in Tibet and they're about half a day away at the fastest form of travel. Sure, Pietro could run the distance easily but that still leaves USAgent in China. Before they decide what to do about that, USAgent detects they're being watched and that watcher goes straight for the attack. It's not a real attack, though. They have just met Ban-Luck, their Asian contact for whatever mission they're on. Even they aren't certain what that is. Ban-Luck gives them some details. Apparently, the Inhumans are about to make a deal with Communist China. An alliance even. Quicksilver is now the Global Reaction Agency's Inhuman expert.

That ought to be interesting considering his history with them and the fact that they're fighting a huge War of Kings on sale now!

Vision, Stature, and pretty much the rest of us wonder why the Mighty Avengers are about to go to war against the Fantastic Four when they could simply go to them and talk this out. Jocasta has the answer to that question: Salvation Two. It's a remarkable feat in machine craftsmanship that can only exist in PymSpace (Hank should stop naming things) and the name Salvation Two isn't near frightening enough to make this a bad idea. That's enough to convince Vision but Stature isn't going to just change her mind because she saw some pretty machinery.

Amadeus Cho might be able to convince her. He actually starts the conversation by saying she could leave the team once they were in New York and return to the Young Avengers. It's an idea. Cassie's not ok with taking on the Fantastic Four. They're family for her since her dad was a member for a while. Amadeus really isn't here to convince Cassie one way or the other, however. He's here to talk to her about the fact that he's wearing the Ant-Man helmet a lot lately. He wants to be sure that Cassie is ok with that since her dad wore the suit for longer than Hank ever did. Amadeus is a step up from the current Ant-Man so she's ok with it.

Hank Pym's done crafting image inducers but he's still a bit concerned about going up against Marvel's biggest brain. Amadeus enters and assures Hank that there's two smart people against Reed's one. It's in the bag unless, y'know, Reed's smarter than both of them. Herc is getting bored of this waiting and wants to get to the punching and kicking part of the plan. Hank hands him his image inducer and has him go to it.

Ben Grimm is hanging about on Yancy Street at his youth center when one of the kids tells him there is something he needs to see outside. Grimm's expecting a typical prank (this is Yancy Street) but it turns out to be the "4" signal in the air and the FF pogo plane firing out of the Baxter Building. Ben runs back to headquarters only to be confronted by the Red Hulk. Well, it's actually Hercules wearing an image inducer but don't tell the Thing that. It'd ruin the whole plan.

natr4.jpgNew Avengers: The Reunion #4
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David López

It turns out this has all been a part of an elaborate sales pitch. AIM's current Scientist Supreme, Monica Rappaccini, kidnapped a number of top scientists and is about to detonate a dirty bomb in order to get Mockingbird's attention. Even after possibly killing Clint Barton and knowing that Mockingbird came here to STOP the dirty bomb from going off and killing a great number of people in Europe, Rappaccini still thinks she has a chance of bringing Mockingbird over to the dark side.

That's because it's easier to lead AIM when you're insane. It's true!

That all being said, Monica is more than able to handle herself in a fight. She's got a personal teleporter and everything. When Bobbi Morse makes this a fight scene, the Scientist Supreme defends herself with ease until Bobbi uses physics to her advantage and ricochets a shot off to where Rappaccini will probably teleport. Mockingbird makes the shot and temporarily incapacitates the head of AIM. While Mockingbird takes down two of AIM's hired muscle, Rappaccini regains consciousness and teleports away. The Scientist Supreme will have to wait, however. Bobbi hears cries for help and runs off to find where they're coming from.

Who they aren't coming from is Clint Barton, the current Ronin of New Avengers and Bobbi's ex-husband. Obviously, Ronin didn't get killed in the attack last issue. He did fall down a big pit though. Waking up, he gets to his feet calling Bobbi's name. No response. Clint lights up his watch and sees bomb charges lining the ceiling of the cavern he finds himself in. He cuts the wires as he goes, following the tunnel until he finds an access to the streets above.

Mockingbird has rescued the captured scientists including her former teacher, Dr. Miner. She directs them out of the building while she tries to find the dirty bomb. Before she can go looking, a ball of fire lights up the room and sets off the sprinklers. She yells at the scientists to begin running. Before too long, she meets up with Clint who has grabbed their gear. Bobbi is very happy that her ex is alive and well but they aren't even close to out of the woods. While the scientists escape, Hawk and Mock prepare to take on the hired thugs.

Bobbi's coat is lined with arrows because she's all nostalgic for the days of Hawkeye. We all are, lady. It's big fight scene time. While the fight goes on, we learn that Clint traced the little bombs to the big bomb and, while he cut the cords, the big guy was already heating up to explode. He set off the sprinkers to keep it temporarily cool but it's not going to last. They need a permanent solution. Bobbi brought along a liquid nitrogen arrow so that's their best bet.

The reason for the bomb heating up is that Rappaccini is on scene setting it off manually. Clint takes a shot at her teleportation belt and shorts the whole thing out while Monica tries to teleport away. The Scientist Supreme is still able to port out but it's painful and who knows where she'll end up? Ms. Marvel? Probably in that comic.

Now, Mockingbird and Ronin just need to take out the rest of AIM's thuggish army. That's all done off panel to save room for a final showdown with the dirty bomb. It's already primed to blow and Clint doesn't trust that the liquid nitrogen arrow will stop it. He's got another plan which involves the nitro arrow, the boron from the sprinklers, and a shockwave catalyst. Suddenly, the carny sounds like a dude that aced chemisty. That might be a surprise but Clint's always been pretty tech savvy. He's made his own trick arrows his whole carreer and, hanging out with the likes of Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and his ex-wife, he's picked up a thing or two. They fire their combination chemistry super attack off and...

Save the continent.

The big climax is done but, since this is a final issue, we need some major aftermath. The scientists are all excited about the heterodiamond that our dynamic duo created to contain the explosion. AIM's flunkies are being sent back to the United States but, with Osborn all in charge and stuff, they probably won't be locked up long. Clint and Bobbi are ready for their own trip back to the States and Bobbi gives her ex something to read on their trip. It's her dossier. They're also not heading to New York. It's LA time. It's time to close some doors.

The two end up at the former West Coast Avengerss Compound. The place has seen better days. It was never reconstructed after the last few battles at the place (I think the last one involved a Kree attack, actually). Clint mentions that they can get the place fixed back up but this isn't a place for beginnings. This is about endings. Closing chapters in Mockingbird's life.

Bobbi is leaving all this behind and trying to move forward but she also wants to leave Clint Barton behind with it. She's obviously not been looking at her own hints. She's been dressing him up as Hawkeye and storing arrows specifically for his use. She wants him in her team, she just isn't conscious of it. Clint lets her know her own heart and she realizes that he's right. They can't go backward but they certainly go forward and see if they're right for each other. With that, we get the big kiss in the sunset scene.

So it looks like Mockingbird and Ronin are dating. They promise to not get married in nine days.

Nine days later, Mockingbird has her WCA team assembled for a mission in Eastern Europe. Ronin is along for this operation. Bobbi goes over the specifics. Before they jump out of their helicopter, Clint asks her out on a date post-mission. He's certainly got timing. Morse says yes and they get to their mission.

I give 'em eight months. :P

aoa6.jpgAgents of Atlas #6
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Gabriel Hardman

Derek Khanata is having some troubles. He was one of the SHIELD Agents let go when the department was disbanded and reformed as HAMMER. He can't find a job. No government agency is returning his calls any more. His kids are worried but they're ok if they have to move back home to Wakanda. Derek gives them a hug and tells them that he has affected their lives with too much change. Something will come up.

Our Agents of Atlas are preparing for a new mission. They've pretty much given up affecting Norman Osborn directly and, after their confrontation with the New Avengers, have cut current ties have decided to look into that Cabal Norman's in with some of the big bads in the world. One of the Cabal members has been identified as Namor, cousin of Namora. It's time for adventures under the sea.

Namora gives us all a briefing on the current comings and goings of her cousin. Namor blew up Atlantis when he felt it was threatened by SHIELD occupation. Namor puts himself at the forefront of any conflict in order to spare his people the repurcussions of war. What Namor actually blew up was the Atlantean's most recognizable city. The kingdom still remains. Namor's current location is the Pacific where he is meeting with the Atlantean elders.

As Bob pilots his saucer into the ocean, Namora begins talking about Namor's involvement in World War II. It was a time when both she and the Sub-Mariner embraced their human halves. It's something both struggle with to this day.

The Saucer reaches a magma wall and passes through. Bob makes the top of the ship see-through so they can enjoy the lava passing around them. Ken (Gorilla-Man) makes a joke about Temujin (Jimmy Woo's replacement should anything go wrong) salivating when imagining Jimmy killed by lava. They pass through to the other side to see an incredible underwater city: Oceanus. They head for it while great ocean creatures swim alongside them. The conversation turns away from Namor and towards their dragon "friend," Mr. Lao. We learn that Mr. Lao is, in fact, an evolved dinosaur. Jimmy begins talking about Mr. Lao's secret agenda but is interrupted by Oceanus' welcoming comittee.

Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

Once Namor learns that this is the group that saved Namora from eternal sleep, Namor decides it's about time they met. Everyone introduces themselves (well, Ken makes a joke but Jimmy does the propers for the Gorilla-Man). Namor asks about the criminal activities of the Atlas Foundation but declines explanation until they have all dined. Jimmy telepathically asks Bob if he is doing some telepathic searching on the Avenging Son and, yes, the Uranian is doing just that.

Remember Derek Kanata? He's still looking for a job and has ended up in Chinatown during a parade. One of the paraders hands him a ticket for a free lunch which he graciously accepts. He looks at the ticket and sees that it's not just for a lunch. It's addressed to him specifically, proclaiming an offer. The parader is long gone and Kanata doesn't know what to make of this mysterious offer.

The Agents of Atlas are dining with Namor and a family friend, Tulem, the Royal Minister of Science. He's telling everyone tales of Namora as a youth and embarrassing the hell out of her in the process. The meal is... interesting. I guess you'd expect that from sea dwellers living with long-thought extinct sea creatures. Bob loves it all, of course.

Tulem begins talking science to Bob while Namor and his cousin begin getting reacquainted. Namor wants to know when Jimmy will let Namora return to the sea and her people and Jimmy lets him know that Namora does what she wants. Jimmy doesn't force her to stay. Namora and Namor get into the beginnings of an argument about how he never came to look for her and it was the Agents that finally rescued her from almost certain peril. While arguement escalates into talk of what influence Namora would have if she stayed, Bob is continuing his probe on Namor's mind and trying to find out more about Norman Osborn's Cabal.

Namor is incredibly single minded, however. Namora makes it real simple by bringing up the Cabal in her verbal battle with the Sub-Mariner. Jimmy was trying to keep their knowledge secret but Bob tells him that Namor would never betray them to Osborn. This gives Namor the hint that he's being mind probed, which is probably not something you ever want to do. The Avenging Son attacks only to find himself facing a giant evil fish.

It doesn't take Namor long to realize that he's fighting an illusion. The Sub-Mariner begins spinning, creating an underwater whirlpool. M-11 fires his laser eyes at the King of Atlantis, which summons the imperial guards. It's big, crazy fight time as the Agents situation gets progressively worse. It's up to Venus to end this fight before it gets more out of control. Only Ken is able to get his ear plugs in before the Siren starts singing.

Jimmy thinks of his lost love, Suwan, Bob tries making out with an anemone, and Namora... she starts making out with her cousin.

It's ok, though! They aren't really related! Namora's dad was adopted into the royal family and, with their human parentage, they're probably less related to eachother than any other Atlantean. It's ok and not gross at all unless you realize that they still call each other cousin. They both have wanted to kiss each other for a long time but there are regrets for old loves long gone. Tulem chides them on being foolish. Their old loves are long gone. They are still there. Make the most of it and stop thinking of yourselves as related because "eeeeeew."

Time passes and Namora and Namor are getting closer. Jimmy worries that the Sea Queen will stay behind when they return to the surface. Discussion goes around about Namora commuting. Hey, if Wolverine can show up in fourteen different books in one month, Namora can commute and still only get in one book. Namora calls up the team in the saucer and asks if they're ready for a tour of the Plato Crevice with Tulem and our team gets ready for some exploring.

As vacations go, this is a pretty good one. Namor and Namora make a cute, if slighty icky, couple. Tulem is full of wisdom and knowledge and, while Jimmy is upset that he might lose Namora as a team member, Tulem makes sure to tell the Agents the advantages they'll gain by letting her go.

They head into the Plato Crevice to find life all around them. The Atlanteans have truly found an impressive place to rebuilt their kingdom and, possibly, have a new royal family to rule them. Namora takes in the beauty around her and is more committed to spreading it to the rest of the world.

bp5.jpgBlack Panther #5
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Penciler: Ken Lashley

Everyone knows that Morlun is a crappy, crappy villain. He's all impossible to defeat and no one likes him or cares about him in any way. Why he was resurrected, I'll never know. What I do know is that Wakanda just launched a scorched earth attack on him that he will, of course, walk away from. It's all building him up as the guy that's going to have to face off against the brand new Black Panther.

In... Limbo or something, Storm fights a living representation of Death for the life of her husband, T'challa. While Death is pretty full of the gloating, Storm isn't known as a goddess for nothing. She strikes Death and his army with lightning and rescues her husband forever... or at least for a moment or two.

Some day, we'll actually see who the all-new, all-female Black Panther is. Maybe before the end of the issue. Shurri, T'challa's sister just went to meet the panther god and become the next BP but the panther god rejected her because she didn't know how to humble herself and started believing her own hype. Now, in most cases, that would lead to her death but the panther god spared her for some reason. She wakes up and tells the Wakandans present all about how she failed. They all wonder why she's still alive and she thinks it's probably so that she can live with some shame in her life instead of thinking about how awesome she is. While we switch scenes, Shurri learns about Morlun and how nothing is stopping the lame villain from just walking right into Wakanda proper.

In the afterlife, T'challa and Ororo celebrate a victory over death. That victory isn't as happy as you might think. Storm keeps telling T'challa that he can return to life now but T'challa notices that she isn't including both of them in that statement.

Shurri is getting a heads up on just how destructive Morlun can be and exactly how unstoppable he is. She asks why Storm hasn't joined the battle only to learn that Storm is trying to save the life of T'challa using arcane magick.

Meanwhile, T'challa's learning all about those arcane magicks that will return him to the land of the living only to leave Storm here. A life for a life. Considering T'challa probably wasn't going to die anyway, it's a pretty weak deal but it's one that Ororo has fully accepted. T'challa has not and is ready to find another way. Death is ready to help him out.

T'challa's not listening to whatever Death is peddling and crushes Death's skull to get him to shut up. It's not that easy. Death's army of skeletons rises to continue the conversation.

In the Wakanda War Room, S'yan is still kind of pissed that the Queen Mother removed Ororo from his arsenal the way she did. Zawavari, the guy responsible for sending Storm to take T'challa's place in death, finds this whole thing hilarious. The Wakandans are relying too much on science and not enough on magic. They're killing themselves because they're trying to kill a totem vampire with bullets when they need to proverbial wooden stake. Zawavari looks at Shurri and asks her if she wonders why the panther god didn't kill her. Could she be here for a higher purpose? It needs to be a combination of science and technology.

Everyone tells Zawavari to shut his pie hole except for Shurri. She finally knows what she has to do. She asks Zuri to guard her while she makes preparations to kill Morlun.

Kill that dude completely dead this time, Shurri.

Shurri's preparations go a long way to put her into the Black Panther costume whether the panther god is happy about that or not. While Zuri and his city friend get killed off outside her door, she's putting on a more tribal version of the Black Panther suit. It's the one you've seen on the covers of every issue of the new Black Panther series but have yet to see inside the book until now.

Morlun makes his way to the comatose body of T'challa only to find a spear stabbing through his abdomen. It merely causes him to turn around to face Shurri as the Black Panther.

asm596.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #596
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Paulo Siqueira

Harry Osborn has joined the Avengers.

Well, he's joined the P.R. department but, since he's the son of Norman Osborn, that leads to big press conferences just based on his hiring and a photo op with his dad and the Sinister Spider-Man (with the rest of the Dark Avengers hanging out in the back ground).

Peter doesn't take this well because he's over protective of his best friend and genuinely worried about Harry. Parker doesn't know about Harry's ex being pregnant or that this whole thing is for Harry to infiltrate Avengers Tower to help the unborn child not come out looking like a goblin. All he knows is that his best friend is going into a pit of vipers. Harry's not volunteering this info, either. They both have secrets, huh?

After Peter expresses his concerns and the two get over the fact that Peter brought up Harry's drug abuse problem (which isn't a current problem but you gotta keep an eye on that stuff), Harry tells Parker that he's a good friend but that he has to trust him. Harry isn't any happier about this situation that Peter is but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Peter goes swinging as Spider-Man and tries to forget the fact that his best friend just joined up with his worst enemy. Sure, it's his dad and all but it isn't easy to let go. Lost in his own thoughts, Spidey nearly swings right past a burning building before realizing it and swinging back to help people.

The next day, Norman leads Harry around Avengers Tower and gets him oriented. Norman tells his son that he won't know everything going on with HAMMER or the Avengers but, once there's adequate trust, he will be. Harry's also informed that he'll need to move into the tower as he's considered "essential personel." Harry asks about Lilly and Norman tells him that she isn't essential personel and doesn't want anything to do with him any more.

Harry isn't the only one getting oriented. It looks like Norah, the intrepid Frontline reporter, is doing her own investigating and has signed on as a tour guide for Avengers Tower. She's flirting with a guy who is allowed on secure levels because that's where she wants to get.

Elsewhere, Peter is helping his aunt and her fiance pick out wedding clothes. May doesn't exactly know what to say about Harry Osborn. She loves the kid and hates his dad but you can't go interfering in family matters. May makes her decision on wedding outfits and walks off, giving Peter the advice to trust his friend to ask for help when he needs it.

That leaves Peter and J Jonah Jameson Sr. alone together to talk. Last issue, Norman called Jay a military deserter and he wants to explain that to Peter. It was true. Jay got a dishonorable discharge from the army for going AWOL. Here's how it went down. Jay was about to go off to Korea and his girl was pregnant with J Jonah Jameson Jr. There were complications with the pregnancy and the army wasn't willing to let Jay go off and be with his wife. Jay went anyway and got to see his son being born. His wife died soon after and we all know that J. Jonah Jr. was raised by Jay's brother but the details of those stories will wait for another time.

Peter thanks Jay for explaining this whole thing even though it didn't have to be explained. Jay gives Peter some more advice before leaving: "Always do what your gut tells you is right. Forever is a hell of a long time to live with a mistake." Now, if your gut leads you into a mistake, you're on your own.

Back at Avengers Tower orientation, Harry is about to be inoculated against any crazy viruses he might pick up from the Dark Avengers. Harry is a recovering drug addict and doesn't want this inoculation to interfere with his sobriety. Norman tries to assure him but Harry isn't at all convinced. In the end, however, this is about the greater good. Harry rolls up his sleeve after Norman says something about forgiving him for everything and hoping that, someday, Harry will be able to do the same.

Elsewhere, Lilly is watching this on a computer monitor and seems genuinely happy to see Harry in the building.

Peter still doesn't know if he should interfere with his best friend's life or not. He's sitting in a cemetary talking to a grave stone trying to work out what he should do but, obviously, the grave stone ain't talking back. He's actually at Gwen's plot which is touching and morbid at the very same time. All your good friends are dead ones.

Later on that day, Peter decides that, if he does anything, he can be there for his friend. He orders some coffee up and heads over to Avengers Tower in order to meet Harry. Norah greets him outside the building to show him her security pass and tell him that she's working undercover in the Tower. She was inspired by Peter's outburst at Frontline and decided to come on over and do her thing. Peter isn't happy about that. What if Norah gets caught? She could get in real trouble and he'd be partly to blame.

Peter tries to make her leave but she's not about that kind of macho crap and storms off. Before Peter can follow her and try to explain himself, he hears shouts that some Avengers are leaving the tower. It's Hawkeye and Spider-Man. The Sinister Spidey. According to one guy in the crowd, the real Spidey. Peter doesn't like that one bit.

Even later on, the Sinister Spider-Man is picking up a hooker. Not for the sex. He's hungry and wants a light snack. Hawkeye came around to make sure that nothing goes wrong and is guarding the perimeter and killing rats with quarters. Before Mac Gargan can devour his hooker meal, Spider-Man (the actual real one) swoops in and does his saving bit.

You might be wondering why Hawkeye doesn't come in shooting arrows when Mac starts screaming for help? It probably has something to do with the invisible force field set up over the area. You'll also notice that contraption on Spidey's back. It's a brown noise generator and it's putting the hurt on ol' Venom. Spider-Man quickly thrashes Gargan and shoves him in a containment box.

If this invisible forcefield wasn't too much of a giveaway, maybe Sue Richards showing up will be. She was here to make sure Hawkeye never got clued in on this little confrontation, to take Venom off and maybe get him lost in another dimension for a few weeks, and to deliver a sexy new black costume for the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. It'll help him look like Venom for his little infiltration and Reed has loaded it with some extras just in case the worse happens.

And, yeah, that's not ominous at all.

In Avengers Tower, Harry is doing his best hero impression. He uses a cell phone-like device to short out the camera looking in on his bedroom and then gets to work. It looks like he has a suitcase full of gadgets to aid him in his attempt to rescue Lily.

Hawkeye and Spider-Man return to the tower and everyone is fooled into believing that Peter is their Spider-Man. The mask is able to make with the mouth and tongue deal and give him the look of having a symbiote instead of just a costume. The only one that might not be fooled is Daken. That's Wolverine's son and his sense of smell is just about as good as daddy's. He sniffs out Spidey and tells him that he's got blood on him. Keep and eye out for that.

The Dark Avengers have been called to a special meeting with Norman. He's about to tell them the inside scoop on his plans for his own son. It's called "American Son" and we'll learn all about it next issue.

Now, it's time for Norman Osborn's first actual appearance!

asm37.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #37
Writer: Steve Ditko & Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

That's right! Norman Osborn's first appearance is nowhere near Green Goblin's first appearance (which was issue 14). In fact, Norman appeared in the comic after his son had already joined the cast. Let's tune in and see how this all goes down.

You'll notice that the villain of this comic isn't the Green Goblin. It's the Robot Master. Who's the Robot Master? Why, that would be Professor Stromm. We open this issue with the good Prof being released from jail after serving a ten-year sentence. Stromm is met outside the prison by a man who he met inside the joint years ago who has prepared everything he'll need for his revenge outside.

Watching this scene is our old friend, Frederick Foswell. Fozzy was Professor Stromm's old cellmate and knows all about Stromm's plans for revenge. Frederick wonders if the Professor is as committed to carrying them out as he was when he was inside the big house. Being a reporter, Foswell follows Stromm's car into town.

Watching Foswell is another former prisonmate. He pegs Foswell for a stoolie and prepares to gun the reporter down. He's stopped by the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. That's what he's here for, folks. Spidey asks the criminal what the heck is going on and the dude spills his guts on what he knows about Stromm... which isn't much. Spidey decides to tail the Professor using the criminal's car. Since Spidey isn't much of a driver, the criminal is doing that for him and, just to make certain the thug doesn't try anything, Spider-Man webs him to the seat.

Unfortunately, the guy is driving a stolen car and it attracts police attention pretty quickly. Spider-Man swings out before the police pull his captured thug over. He has once again lost his trail on Foswell. He decides to swing on over to the Daily Bugle and see if he can gather any clues.

Peter's not the only one looking for Frederick. JJJ is also trying to find the reporter. He asks around the office and then sees if Fozzy has called in with his replacement secretary of the week. She's about this close to quitting because no one can actually put up with Jameson like Betty Brant could. Peter shows up and remembers that Jameson owes him money for the last photos he sold him. Jamesone blames it all on his secretary and the fact that Peter is partly responsible for Brant quitting.

Soon, Frederick Foswell shows up and starts letting lots of the plot go. His ex-cellmate, Professor Stromm is out of prison and looking for revenge on the person who sent him there. JJJ calls him into his office to go over any other details and, while he's in there, Peter plants a spider-tracer in Foswell's hat before taking off.

Professor Stromm has arrived at his secret location and finds all the mechanical equipment he'll need to get his revenge. We aren't let in on just who cheated Stromm out of his inventions or sent him to jail but we do know that we'll learn very soon.

The next day finds Peter Parker attending Empire State University and totally hitting it off with Gwen Stacy.

You'll notice that Gwen has a lot more fire in her here than she'll show when Jazzy John Romita gets a hold of her. There's a lot of talk about how Gwen's personality got softer as she was primed to become Peter's perfect girl. I guess Peter's perfect girl can't have any rough edges to her. I would actually love to see Peter go out with this version of Gwen. She's a firecracker.

Peter's attitude to Gwen isn't exactly nice. Gwen is so upset she actually tries slapping our hero but her palm is easily blocked. Flash Thompson comes to Gwen's defense but Peter isn't able to actually fight Flash. His super powers might make him do something he'd later regret. Peter shrugs off Flash's taunts and walks away. Gwen notices that Peter doesn't seem one bit scared, however. In fact, once Peter's gone, Gwen actually comes to Peter's defense when Flash and Harry Osborn start with the insults.

Elsewhere, Stromm starts looking a lot more like a Robot Master. He's got his fancy headgear and even a robot to control. The bot looks a lot like an alien octopus but it's still something that will so just what Stromm orders it to do. Stromm sends it out on a mission of industrial sabotage on the object of his revenge. It encounters a guard but the man's bullets don't do the thing any harm and the guard quickly runs out. The robot then destroys the laboratory that it is in.

The burning lab draws quite a bit of attention including that of a certain wall crawler. Spidey goes in to investigate and to try and rescue anyone trapped inside. All he finds is the Robot Master's robot and he fares just about as well as the guard. The robot gets wraps around him until Spidey rolls into the flames in a desperate gamble to disrupt the robot's circuitry before burning up himself. His move pays off and he escapes the building just before it collapses.

Stromm isn't upset about losing his first robot. I imagine he was always planning on losing it in the fire. The Robot Master has a second, better robot built to replace the first and this one is equiped with an energy blast weapon.

We finally get a look at Norman Osborn for the first time. It turns out that the object of Stromm's revenge is none other than Harry Osborn's dad and the later revealed Green Goblin. As he and his son inspect the wreckage of his lab, we learn that Osborn cheated Professor Stromm out of his own inventions and then got the man put in jail when Stromm laid some pressure on Osborn. Norman isn't about to let Harry learn any of this but it's interesting to see the man defend Spider-Man to his son. Harry thinks that Spider-Man was behind all of this but Norman knows better and says so. He's also quick to tell his kid to shut the hell up. The dude never changes.

J. Jonah Jameson comes to offer his support to a fellow club member and also to try and bury Spider-Man in the process. Norman, again, makes sure that Spider-Man isn't blamed for the incident. However, mentioning J. Jonah Jameson's club is interesting and leads to me thinking the might not actually be Norman's first appearance. There's an unnamed brillo-headed man in many of Jameson's club appearances that could quite possibly be J. Jonah Jameson before he made an actual named appearance.

We leave the once and future Goblins to follow Spider-Man as he tries unsuccessfully to tail Frederick Foswell. Foswell has switched over to his Patch identity to see if he can get a bead on Stromm's location. Spidey decides to follow Patch around since he can't find Foswell. I think Spider-Man just likes to follow people. Patch finally gets a lead on Stromm and decides to check into it before alerting the authorities.

Spidey tails Patch right to Stromm's hideout where Patch is quickly cornered by Stromm's muscle. While Patch is led inside, Robot Master's new killer robot is lead outside to perform his required tasks. Spider-Man can't just leave Patch in Stromm's hands and follows him inside while planting a spider-tracer on the robot. Once inside, Peter comes to Patch's defense and both of them wind up in a sealed off room. Spidey leaps up to a ventilation shaft and finds a way out for himself and also notes that Patch isn't in immediate danger and now has a gun to defend himself with. It's time to go hunt killer robots.

Stromm's robot has smashed right into Norman Osborn's office and, since Stromm can talk through this one, begins gloating about the revenge it's going to get. Spidey follows his spider-tracer and interupts the robot before any killing can take place. Man, Spidey. If you had been just a few minutes later you would have saved yourself from so much future agony.

But now that he's here, Spidey's gotta do what Spidey's gotta do. Peter's about as successful with this robot as he was the first one he faced which means that he'll beat it eventually but it won't be easy. Norman isn't very happy for the save, either. He would rather Spider-Man just minded his own business and even hopes that the robot finishes him off. Spidey's becoming too dangerous. Spidey noticed that Norman wasn't happy to see him as well. In fact, during the battle, Spider-Man races past Norman only to have Osborn hit him while his back is turned.

Norman leaves the unconscious Spider-Man to the robot's mercy. Fortunately for our hero, Stromm believes that Spider-Man is already dead from the gases floating around the lab and has his robot trash the laboratory and leave. Spidey wakes up and races to Stromm's hideout, getting there just in time to follow the robot inside and get the drop on it.

One of the robot's stray blasts opens up the room that Patch was trapped in. Foswell is able to get the drop on Stromm's goon while Spider-Man disarms the Robot Master (who was using the head of his last robot as a blaster). Captured, Stromm begins to reveal all his dirty secrets about Norman Osborn but is about to be cut off by someone with a rifle in a high window. Spider-Man's spider-sense starts going bananas and, seeing the glint of the rifle, he shoves Professor Stromm out of the way.

Peter races to the window to catch the rifleman while Stromm has a heart attack and dies below. When Spider-Man reaches the window, there's no trace of the gunman. Patch informs him that Stromm is dead and Peter bugs out before the police arrive? Guilty conscience? Probably.

Later on, JJJ shows up at Norman Osborn's residence to tell him the good news. Stromm had a vendetta going against Norman but it's all ok now that the man is dead. Norman feigns ignorance on the entire matter but is glad it's over. Privately, he holds the rifle that he intended to kill Stromm with and makes a note that Spider-Man has interfered in his business one too many times. He'll likely get dealt with very soon.

Peter's got his own problems right now, though. He was certain someone was going to shoot Stromm but no one should have been quick enough to escape that window perch in the time it took him to get up there. Could his spider-sense be leaving him? All this and he's completely ignoring a group of peers going bowling. They call him over to join him but Peter walks away without hearing them, lost in his own thoughts. That's how you make friends, kids.

And that's all we've got for now. There's plenty more where that came from, though so join us soon!

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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