Sunday, November 23, 2014 • Morning Edition • "Bring your own straight jacket."

Super Reads War of Kings and Dark Reign 62

Written by SuperginraiX on Thursday, October 22 2009 and posted in Features
badguy62.jpgWe're coming around the bend!

Today, we check out War of Kings: Ascension #4, Dark X-Men: The Beginning #2, The New Avengers #55, Dark Reign: Young Avengers #3, Dark Reign: The Goblin Legacy #1, Dark Reign: The Hood #3, Thunderbolts #134, Secret Warriors #6, Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #2, Dark Reign: Hawkeye #4, Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #2, and Blast to the Past with Fantastic Four Annual #1.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

Strap in, this is gonna be one big week!

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

We're wrappin' up a space war.  Let's finish up some Darkhawk.

woka4.jpgWar of Kings: Ascension #4
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Wellington Alves


In our last issue, Chris Powell, AKA: Darkhawk, found himself in Nullspace (basically a big tree holding lots and lots of crystals) running for his life from the Keepers, bat-like creatures that inhabit the area.  While running away from the Keepers, Chris ran into the only other glowing crystal in the place and met up with Commander H'jke Jeeku, the sentient inhabitant of Talon's crystal.  In the Negative Zone, Talon and Razor complete their transaction with King Blastaar.  They gave him the Cosmin Control Rod (with some safeguards put in place) so that Blastaar will attack the Ceded Territories for the Shi'ar.  In Nullspace, we learn that the crystal here contain living sacrifices that allow the Raptors to enter the real world.  While Razor went about assassinating Lilandra Neramani, Chris learned that his rage could give him back control over his Darkhawk form.  He changes form RIGHT after Razor makes the killshot and makes some instant enemies for life.

In this issue, Darkhawk pays for his poor timing as the Starjammers seek some instant revenge.  After making a narrow escape, he is contacted by Talon and is forced back into his Razor form in order to meet his superior in order to stop Vulcan from saving the universe.  Black Bolt is still piloting that T-Bomb straight at the Shi'ar Empire and the explosion is sure to release more Raptor crystals into the universe.  We all learn that Darkhawk is still in the drivers seat and there's a nice battle between the two Raptors that Chris inevitably wins.  H'jke Jeeku is brought back into the real world and sacrifices himself to end the threat of Talon.  Darkhawk flies off to save the world from any Raptor threat.

So that's a nice place to end up.  Right after Chris Powell asserts his authority over the Darkhawk form, he's attacked by none other than Gladiator.  Razor has just assassinated the best chance for a peaceful end to the War of Kings, Lilandra Neramani.  This was the first time in centuries that Gladiator has made his own decisions on anything so we all should have known how that would turn out.  Anyway, Darkhawk is surrounded by people who loved the former Majestrix and they want some blood.  Darkhawk uses every new trick he's learned to get away but is coming up empty on escape.

Of course, his cries of innocence are wasted.  I mean, you can't actually prove that you weren't inhabiting your body at the time it killed someone.  It basically really sucks to be Darkhawk.  Gladiator is about to end things very slowly and very painfully when the Palace Guard Drones come to the rescue.  They've seen this awesome riot taking place and have declared martial law.  The drones' blasts separate Gladiator from his target of revenge and Powell capitalizes on that.  He uses the oldest trick he ever learned: turning back into his human form.  It's not incredibly safe in the war zone but it keeps him from being tagged as a murderer.

It's not over for our luckless hero.  Just as he's getting out of the frying pan, he's contacted by Talon over the Datasong thing.  Talon is surprised to see that the damn human has returned.  No matter, Razor took over once and Talon only has to call him back.  Chris falls over and returns to his Raptor form.  Talon is pleased and calls for Razor to join him with the Imperial Fleet.

Talon has made some alterations to his original plans.  He's decided that the current Shi'ar Majestor is a douche and is unfit to rule.  The Raptor is thinking long term gain instead of short term.  To help the Imperium along, they will need more Raptors.  Fortunately, Black Bolt is about to commit a crime against the galaxy and unleash the T-bomb.  This explosion will undoubtedly release more Raptor amulets from their dark matter hiding places.  There's only one problem with that plan: Vulcan's trying to prevent it from happening.  It's wierd when the bad guy turns out to be the good guy.

Or vice versa.  It turns out that Chris was bluffing.  Razor was never back in charge at all.  Darkhawk gates in and, instead of helping Talon stop Vulcan from saving the universe, gets into a nice little face off with his fellow Raptor.

The two Raptors smash right through one of the Shi'ar craft.  They fight it out for a few pages, reconfiguring their armors a few times just so we remember that there could definitely be a nice robust action figure line in Darkhawk's future (I'd buy 'em). 

Since the two are fighting in a Shi'ar craft, the fight is eventually interupted by a few Imperial Guardsmen and some Shi'ar Elites.  Talon isn't about to share his fight and blasts everyone straight away.  Chris isn't all about killing people and decides to take their fight further into the ship to avoid any collateral damage.  This leads us to the ship's engine room and whatever passes for a Dylithium Crysal Chamber in the Marvel Universe (it's called a Drive Core). 

Talon tackles Darkhawk and orders everyone who wants to live out of the room.  Is this game over for Chris Powell?  No.  Not really.  Powell's been working to infuriate the Raptor specifically to get into this situation.  Darkhawk grabs onto Talon's amulet and forces the Raptor to give up control to Commander H'jke Jeeku.
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Jeeku might have been one of the unseen villains of Secret Invasion but, right here, he's pretty awesome.  He asks very few questions.  Unfortunately, Skrulls aren't the anomalies that humans are and H'jke doesn't have what it takes to keep Talon at bay for long.  He demands that Darkhawk force the amulet from his hand, severing the link between himself and Talon and killing him in the process.  Darkhawk's one of those "hero types" that just isn't going to be known as a killer (even though he'll be wanted in all known space as a killer quite soon).  He refuses.

Jeeku switches tactics.  Instead of demanding someone else end it all, he makes Chris swear to destroy the rest of the Raptor Amulets.  After doing so, he jumps into the Drive Core, killing himself and ending the threat of Talon forever (or for about a month).

Darkhawk is stunned by this move.  Simply stunned!  Who saw it coming besides everyone?  Anyway, the Imperial Guard and Elite Soldiers are massing on him so he's got two choices.  He can either give himself up for what Razor did in his body or he can be true to the promise and get to destroying all those amulets that are sure to appear when the T-Bomb goes off in one short week (I'm sorry, I just gave away the ending to War of Kings.  When I say spoilers, I mean spoilers).

He, of course, stays true to his promise.  There's more chances of an ongoing series or, at least, a mini if he runs out.  Expect to see several Raptors running around the Marvel U in the near future with only one guy able to take them out.

And Nova.

And his Corps.

Probably the Guardians of the Galaxy.

You'd expect guys like Sentry or even Spidey would be good for the job.  I mean, it's what they do.

dxmb2.jpgDark X-Men: The Beginning #2
Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciler: Leonard Kirk


In DA/UXM: Utopia, Simon Trask comes to San Francisco with his Humanity Now! movement to promote Proposition X, a mutant breeding act. Since San Francisco is the home of every mutant ever (outside of, say, X-Factor), this is just a riot waiting to happen and it only takes a few pages for that to start up. Cyclops and Emma Frost meet with the mayor and start working on quelling the riots as the whole thing attracts the attention of America's Top Cop, Norman Osborn. X-Man fights X-Man in the street of San Francisco. The Dark Avengers and HAMMER intervene and things still don't calm down. Emma Frost goes to Norman Osborn and finds out about "The Plan." It's the beginning of the Dark X-Men as Iron Patriot addresses the public with Professor Charles Xavier... while another Professor X is talking to the previously captured Beast in prison.

In Uncanny X-Men #513, Cyclops runs away from the authorities, the Dark Avengers help to clean the streets of San Francisco, Beast chats it up with the real Xavier before being trotted out to the Omega Machine which is being run by Dark Beast from the Age of Apocalypse, Norman Osborn introduces Emma to the Dark X-Men, we all learn that Dark Xavier is Mystique, Namor joins Emma's Dark X-Men team, Simon Trask begins infecting people with a techno-organic virus, Cyclops orders his X-Men to watch a lot of TV, Hellion leads a lot of people who should know better (and some who don't) into a riot/demonstration at Union Square, and the Dark X-Men get to some arresting.

Now, it's time to meet a few of the Dark X-Men and learn more about them and why they joined this particular team.

In this story, Norman Osborn is hired out by a drug dealing dude to stop Cloak and Dagger from burning up his poppy fields.  Cloak and Dagger are right in the middle of that when Iron Patriot hits the ground and tries to recruit them.  It starts with flattery, moves on to some threats, then finishes up with the benefits.  Dagger agrees for both of them and the three teleport away after Norman has destroyed the fields with micro bombs.

Norman Osborn isn't what anyone would call a "good guy."  It's not who he is and it's not what he does.  So when a Colombian drug dealer boss guy calls him in to help with a special problem, you'd think a "good guy" like Norman would fall right in line... except for the fact that the drug dealer boss guy is way too slick and confident that he's got Osborn's number.  No one likes it when you think you have their number.

The problem is our two star characters, Cloak and Dagger.  They have a problem with drugs and are running all over the place destroying crops.  Since it's Columbia, you may think this would be fields of Marijuana or Coca or something.  I'm not even sure if they come in fields.  I'll admit I don't do a lot of studying on drugs and how they're grown.  Instead of the obvious, Cloak and Dagger found one of the few (but apparently growing) poppy fields in the country and decided to torch that instead.  That is an "A" for effort.

While they're doing their biz, around comes the Iron Patriot.  On a normal day, maybe he'd actually do exactly what that drug dude brought him down here to do but, today, Ozzy's hiring X-Men.  Maybe on a normal day, Cloak and Dagger would just book at the first sign of trouble.  Today, they're being recruited and they might actually realize that a guy like Norman Osborn just isn't going to go away. 

So how do you go about recruiting two loners onto a team they probably never want to join ever?  First, you do a little flirting and tell the two heroes just how awesome they are.  Norman does this with the slick style of a consummate businessman.  On his best days, and this is one of them, that's exactly what he is.  On his worst he dresses up in green and throws exploding pumpkins at people while flying on a mechanical broomstick.

That bit done, Norman tells them just what kind of trouble they are in.  This comes a bit after Tyrone (that's Cloak) threatens to send him off to the Dark Dimension through his cape.  This is where Norman also ends up telling them what they're missing.  If Cloak sends Norman off to the Dark Dimension, the former Green Goblin has the resourses and allies to get out quickly.  Cloak and Dagger?  They're all alone.  Norman's also got this cool remote control that he tells them is fashioned to turn them inside out if they make him angry.  That's just what'll get your attention.

Dagger tells him to continue.  Norman gives his speech.  He wants the two as X-Men.  The duo claim to not be mutants but that's no never mind to Norman.  They're outcasts.  If that doesn't make them sort of mutants, then I don't know what does.  Also:  they're kind of mutants.  Don't tell anyone!  What really sells the concept is that Norman likes what they're doing.  War on drugs?  Awesome.  They need to do more of those.  The X-Men could go to lots of trouble spots and, if these two snuck off to destroy some drug fields and took down a few drug lords in the process?  More power to them.  We get some pics of Norman hanging out with Barrack Obama (who doesn't get near as many comic appearances as when he first came to office) and pictures of the two Dark teams Norman's put together.

So, that's the deal.  Are our two heroes in?  Are they ready to get in bed with Norman Osborn and get with his agenda?  Yep.

Dagger wants him to know that it was his threats that swayed them.  It has nothing to do with their agenda being furthered in the process.  Norman doesn't care.  He's got one last gesture to get in their good graces.  He uses that handy remote he'd been holding to destroy the poppy fields.
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So, Iron Patriot hasn't made friends with big illegal drugs today.  The drug dealer boss guy's henchman start blasting away at the three Americans.  Norman asks Cloak for a quick teleport stateside to their new HQ in Alcatraz.  It's time for them to get a good look at their new base.

Writers: Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman
Artist: Michael Lacombe


In this story, Michael Pointer tries to get on with his life as a construction worker only to learn that his lack of control over his mutant powers is about to kill everyone in the area.  Some Mutant Growth Hormone got out and about and now everyone around him is a mutant.  That means his powers are gonna kill them.  A bunch of workers die as Pointer tries to run the hell away as fast as he can.  Confronted with this lack of control, Mike joins Norman's X-Men team.  It's then revealed that the Mutant Growth Hormone was released by Osborn and Dark Beast.  Mwahahaha.

Norman Osborn is hopping all over the place.  This time, his visit is straight to North Pole, Alaska.  They're building a hospital up there and there a specific construction worker Oz is here to meet: Michael Pointer.

Now, you may remember Pointer from the New Avengers story that followed House of M where he gained all the powers lost by every depowered mutant.  He was controlled by the disembodied consciousness of Xorn and wound up killing most of Alpha Flight in a rampage across North America (which pissed off both Morrison and Byrne fans-- a twofer).  Pointer ended up becoming the new Guardian for Omega Flight because there's nothing like rubbing salt in the wound of a Byrne fan.  That obviously didn't last long and Pointer ended up returning home to switch jobs one more time.  Originally a postman, Pointer came back as a construction worker and there's nothing more appropriate for him to be building than a hospital.

While he up on the unfinished building striking a heroic pose, one of his fellow construction workers comes up to give him the message that there's someone below looking for him.  The other guy suddenly feels like crap when he approaches Pointer and, since there's rarely an unintentional scene in comics (even when you want there to be), it's something to keep your mind on.  Of course, his visitor is none other than Norman Osborn.  He's come out to make a compelling offer to the uncontrollable mutant.

The two compare stories about the other and we get another scene of Alpha Flight dying in the snow.  Never forget, Byrne fan.  Never forget.  Pointer doesn't like to be reminded of this moment even if he's here to make some sort of amends for actions he did while being controlled by another entity (it's like a theme this week) and gets ready to use his powers to blast a hole right through Norman.  Osborn calls his bluff and the last mutant powers down.

Norman offers Michael a position on his new X-Men team.  Mike is quick to point out that his power kills other mutants.  That's OK, Norman can work with that.  He's got people that can help the last mutant.  Oh, and about that little problem?  Turns out that there was a HAMMER mission involving the smuggling of Mutant Growth Hormone that got a bit out of control.  The MGH went airborne and... well, this construction site was downwind.  Everyone here is a mutant and you.  Are.  In. Trouble.
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Michael tries to get off the site as fast as he can but things are already coming undone.  He's still not willing to join up with Norman because he's done the joining thing before and it didn't turn out all happy with roses.  He calls up to Chris that he's taking off sick but Chris is already affected by Mike's powers and joins him on the ground... probably snapping a neck in the process.  The landing looks pretty nasty.

Things go from bad to worse as more construction workers drop.  Michael tries to save them but getting into close proximity to anyone doesn't actually do that.  He decides to make a run for it but is stopped in his tracks by Norman.

Turns out there's a school in the direction he's heading that is now full of temporary mutant kids.  Lotta people are gonna die unless Michael just gets out of here.  Preferably in that HAMMER chopper landing behind Osborn.  Pointer finally gives in and boards.  He doesn't want this.  He just wants to be fixed.  Norman promises to do just that.

But do you ever really believe Norman?  I wouldn't. 

Ozzy joins Dark Beast in the front of the helicopter.  DB has an energy shield on and activated so he's not affected by Pointer's powers.  Yeah.  It's that simple to block them out.  The evil McCoy asks how much Mutant Growth Hormone was used below and Norman doesn't care.  It got him what he wanted.  Mike Pointer isn't the hero Osborn wants but the once and future Weapon Omega is exactly the kind of jailer he needs.

Writer: Bob Williams
Penciler: Paco Diazark


In this story, Dark Wolverine fights some generic villains with the help of the Dark Avengers before getting dressed up for a night on the town with Norman Osborn.  Norman offers him a position on his X-Men team before a long awkward pause during the limo ride.  Daken and Osborn debate Daken's sanity while watching an opera before Daken pwns Ozzy in opera trivia.

While Daken, Dark Wolverine to his teammates, gets ready for his date, we relive an earlier fight where he joined in battle with Iron Patriot, Hawkeye, and Venom against a group of robot alien things.  This fight might seem generic and a waste of panel space except it actually performs the function of mirroring the later story.  Daken handles this battle with skill instead of traditional berserker rage.  He blocks and dodges the thing's attack a few times before seeing his opening and cutting it's head off.

Now, let's turn back to Daken in what we tentatively call the present.  Daken is getting all prettied up in a tuxedo for his date.  Who's his date?  Norman Osborn!  He's the tie that binds.

For Norman, this is Daken's job interview which is awkward for a date.  You can get sued for doing that sort of thing.  Anyway, Norman treasures his time with Dark Wolverine.  As Daken says, his role on the Avengers is to be the sane one.  He's not interested in any more jobs from Norman which is when he's offered a  position on the X-Men.

Daken's got nothing.  It's a quiet ride to their destination as the caption-over.  Daken doesn't have a lot of respect for Osborn and the feeling is pretty mutual.  Norman thinks he has Daken's number.  He's Wolverine Jr. and wants to destroy his daddy.  Right?  We even get a full page spread on Norman's imagination where Daken has sliced off his poppa's head and is raging at us through the page.  It's pretty one dimensional which is not really what Daken is.

The limo finally arrives at it's location which is where Daken and Osborn are about to enjoy a little culture.  Norman is a VIVIP (Very Important Very Important Person) so he and Daken get personally escorted to their seats.  Norman is quick to mention that the rest of the filthy rich have to wait in lines and stuff.  Norman's, like, super important and gets brought right to where he wants to go.  It's a special moment.  Daken doesn't care.  Osborn takes this for ignorance.

What they are seeing is an opera:  Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex.  Norman gives his unintelligent guest a cliff notes version of what the opera's about.  Some dude kills his dad to become king.  This is how Norman equates Daken's relationship with his father and Dark Wolverine's mission in general.  There's also some mommy loving that happens but it's not what Norman is here for so he quickly dismisses that bit.  Norman welcomes Daken to his X-Men.

Daken pulls out his claws.

The claws stay out as Daken asks for some clarification on his role in the X-Men.  Norman spares nothing.  Daken's going to be the big, dumb, troubled, berserker.  You know.  Who he is because Norman hasn't been paying attention.  We then start the debate on Daken's sanity while we're given a random picture of Daken in a tube.
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Norman lays out just who he thinks Dark Wolverine is.  He's a guy that hates his daddy while slowly becoming his daddy.  He has identity issues and wants validation and stuff.  He's obviously crazy.  Now he just needs to get in his Wolverine suit and be an X-Men for his boss.

The claws are still out and they're starting to freak Norman out.

Daken is not stupid.  He's quite cultured.  He's even kind of a nerd.  Without going into too much depth because, well, opera trivia isn't gonna get you anywhere, Daken goes deeper into the history of Oedipus Rex, even going so far as to bring up the original writer, Sophocles.  After going into a history of Stravinsky and probably operas, Daken exclaims that Oedipus didn't kill his father to take the throne.  He actually realizes much later in the story that he's killed his father and married his mother and, after learning, stabs his eyes out.  The connotation is that Daken isn't just stumbling through his story without any realization of his role.  His actions are deliberate.  He's not Oedipus, stumbling through his story with no knowledge of who the other players are.  He's frickin' Daken and he's sane.

Also not marrying his mother even if she was alive.

After making some mention of Osborn's crazy Green Goblin activities, Daken leaves the opera so that, maybe, Norman can enjoy his culture, blissfully unaware of what everything's about.  He'll join the Dark X-Men for his own reasons.  Don't you dare assume what they are.

na55.jpgThe New Avengers #55
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Stuart Immonen


Last issue, we saw how Brother Voodoo came to accept his new position as Sorceror Supreme, everyone battled it out with Dormammu when it was revealed that he was the power behind the Hood, Parker Robbins was left powerless after Dormammu was exorcised from him and later accepted a second chance from the hands of Loki, and Clint Barton continued his media war with Norman Osborn.

This issue, we revisit an old battle between the New Avengers and the Syndicate.  We get some of the fallout where the Hood's gang is falling apart around him.  They've acquired the power inhibitor that the New Avengers tried to use on them and decide to do something with it without official approval of the Hood.  They bring it straight to Dr. Harrow who is about to work magic with it.  Spidey has a conversation with Jessica Jones about secret identities and how everything is doomed.  The Syndicate finds itself without a leader and finds a new leader in Jonas Harrow.  The New Avengers debate about how awesome killing is before running off to Times Square in order to face Chemistro.  Because the Syndicate is using a modified version of that power inhibitor they stole in the beginning of the issue, all our heroes get depowered... and sick.

Back in New Avengers #50, we were all tricked into thinking that the New Avengers were going to have a big fight with the Dark Avengers only to have them actually fight the Hood's Syndicate.  The New Avengers were all prepped for the Dark Avengers, too.  They brought along a device that would have negated everyone else's powers while leaving the New Avengers free to fight it out with full powers available.  When the Syndicate showed up, they caught the street team with their pants down.  Ms. Marvel didn't even have a chance to turn on the power inhibitor.

That meant Carol had to improvise a bit.  She had Spider-Woman charge her up to full and then released all that energy at once.  This stunned the Syndicate long enough for our heroes to make with the escaping.

We've seen all that before (New Avengers #50, remember?).  What we didn't see was the fallout for the Hood and his merry men.  They aren't so merry.  They're actually a big bunch of whiners that are sick of letting this particular group of Avengers slip through their fingers.  Besides that, what profit is there killing these heroes?  Are they getting some money for that?  Madame Masque sticks up for her man pretty well.  She's embarrassed to be one of the top fighters on the team.  She doesn't have any powers and she's holding her own with a bunch of dudes that have wrestled Thor.  That should tell you their skill rating.  Super powerful but not team players.  Less trained than you'd think possible.

Madame Masque berates them for not taking her up on her offer to train them.  They quickly switch tracks because no one actually wants to be competent here.  They just want to complain.  The Hood has to step in and defend his leadership position.  He lets them know that he's kept them out of jail, that they just sent the Avengers scrambling, and that he's making them all filthy and rich.  Everyone step in line or they're off the gravy train.  Wrecker walks off in a bit of a huff. 

Before we switch scenes, Chemistro picks up the New Avenger's power inhibitor.  He's interested in it.  Hood isn't.  He knows what it does and had destroyed it during the fight to prevent it's use.  He thinks that's the end of things.  Hood and Masque head off for another ill-fated meeting with the New Avengers where Hood fails to become the next Sorceror Supreme and loses his connection to Dormammu (which happened in our last story arc).  Chemistro still carries that power inhibitor off.

You'd think being Captain America would be "the life."  Living Legend.  Survivor of World War II.  Cool red, white, blue, and black costume and an unbreakable shield.  If you're James Buchanan, you've also got that robot arm which is probably fun at parties.  The other thing he has is house guests.  Since he's decided to host the New Avengers, they've taken up his home as their headquarters.  This would be great if they had a Jarvis running around cleaning up after them.  They don't and they are complete slobs.  James returns from patrolling (or possibly a rare solo mission) to find his house a mess and Logan passed out after fourteen too many beers.  He's not pleased.

But that's a story for another time, we now do some cutting back into the past to see exactly what Chemistro does with that power inhibitor.  He brings it straight away to Dr. Jonas Harrow.  Harrow may seem like a virtual unknown to most of you because he pretty much is.  He's enhanced some pretty impressive Spidey-villains over the years (such as Hammerhead) but he's also responsible for the Kangaroo.  He's remained in the background for his entire carreer so naturally, he's having his day in the sun right now.  He's in the Hood's employ so he's an ideal person to bring a power inhibitor device.  Harrow is a bit pissed because this thing was developed by Tony Stark and is therefore superior to anything he's ever built.  Chemistro believes it's something that is worth reverse engineering and Dr Harrow agrees.  They strike a deal and get to work.

A day has passed since Captain America found Logan drunk in his living room and all the good toilet paper used up.  Spidey has come over for a visit and found Jessica Jones-Cage feeding her daughter.  Jessica just found out that her old high school crush, Peter Parker, is Spider-Man back in issue 51 and thinks it's cool to casually call him Peter.  Now, granted, they are in a private place but Peter's not so happy that she's getting comfortable with that idea.  He'll be swinging around a mall someday and she'll call him Peter and then someone might draw the connection that his first name is Peter, cross reference it to find all the Peters living in New York City, and maybe discover that it's a lot harder to figure out a secret identity than you'd think... unless Spidey keeps appearing in Bendis books in which case he'll just keep losing his mask until everyone knows again by the end of the year.

Bendis can't keep Spidey's mask on to save a baby's life.

Anyway, the secret identity thing is a touchy subject for Peter and he's got good reason even though he can't remember it.  Last time he revealed his secret identity, his 900 year old aunt got shot.  Jessica thinks this is all wierd since they went to school together (even though Peter didn't know she existed).  She promises that his secret is safe with her and her husband.  Spidey is less than convinced since Luke doesn't seem to actually like him that much.  Turns out Luke kind of has a bromance for him and is playing hard to get.  Still, Spidey knows that revealing his secret identity was a BAD IDEA and that people (possibly 2,000 year old aunts) will end up getting hurt.

The Hood had a meeting scheduled with his Syndicate but, because he lost all his powers and ended up with a crispy burnt up body, he's not actually hear to run it.  The Wrecker and his crew are not impressed and let this be known to everyone present.  The Living Laser (who is looking more human than he has in years) is glad these guys are hitting the road.  If they want out, that just means more spoils for everyone else.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out. 

Before they walk, Harrow lets everyone know that they've all been working for Norman Osborn.  The Hood had to have a deal going with America's top cop and Harrow connects a bunch of obvious dots so that even the Wrecker can see that.  This doesn't actually convince the Wrecking Crew to hang around one bit.  They don't want to be working for Ozzy.  Dr Jonas Harrow, however, sees the advantage.  Having an alliance with Norman gives everyone that "get out of jail free" card that the Hood's been able to play on multiple occassions.  Osborn can hang but there's something pretty special about not being able to stay arrested.  With the Hood out of the way, maybe it's time that everyone strikes up the same deal with Ozzy but without Parker Robins included.  Harrow just happens to have a reverse engineered power inhibitor to barter with.

So, the Syndicate meeting went off-tracks without the Hood present.  How does the New Avengers' meeting go with Clint Barton in charge?

Much worse.  Bucky is trying to lay down some house rules for everyone to follow but gets cut off pretty quickly by the lazy slobs that are the New Avengers.  Everyone is much more interested in getting a status update from Doctor Strange and Brother Voodoo.  You'll notice that Wolverine is no longer present since he left the team in Dark Avengers/ Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 in one quick reaction panel.  That panel is disregarded as we're told here that Wolverine left without a word to anyone but Spider-Woman.

Anyway, let's get to the much worse bit.  There's a discussion about Clint's media war with Norman Osborn where Barton apologizes for not discussing it in comittee before going ahead with it.  It turns out that Clint now thinks that the thing to do is to assassinate Norman Osborn.  This gets a stunned stare from everyone in the room but particularly Spider-Man.

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The internet is quick to point out that Clint is NOT a killer.  He doesn't kill and has been against it from the earliest days of the Avengers.  His flip flop here hasn't gone unnoticed and is seen as a sign of Bendis not actually understanding the character.  It's also been seen as a sign that maybe things are much worse in the Marvel Universe than they've been before and, if someone like Hawkeye is considering killing a super powerful Green Goblin, maybe this is a big deal.  It could go either way.  I'll be the first to shout out that murdering Norman Osborn is a terrible idea and solves no problems.  In fact, the repercussions of killing America's top cop could do what the Civil War never could: they could push public opinion so against super heroes that every single one of them could end up hunted down with extreme prejudice.

The debate goes back and forth with Spidey looking like the most sane Avenger in the room.  Peter's not a killer.  Even more than Clint, this has always been rock solid for Aunt May's favorite nephew.  He's also not a stranger to tough times.  He's lived them all his life and kept his moral compass pointing generally in the right direction (there was the time he made a deal with the Marvel devil and that OTHER time where he struck his wife in a fit of madness but the first one was erased from reality and the second one is NEVER mentioned again because it was a stupid idea and should never have happened).  Clint tries to turn it back on Peter and blame him for not killing Osborn when he had a chance.  Obviously, Clint wasn't there when Norman stabbed himself in the chest with his own twisted glider and then came back to tell the tale.  Killing Ozzy isn't easy.  It's like killing Wolverine.  Even so, Peter had another chance close to the end of American Son where he could have sat back and watches as Harry took Norman's life.  Peter stayed true to who he is and was able to talk his best friend out of killing.

So, this is a lot about how Peter has been reacting to the looser morals shown by his teammates.  He's not all that happy about the stolen Quinjet.  He's less happy about the talk about murdering a high ranking American official.  The fact that everyone in the room knows his secret identity?  Not very cool.

Before this debate gets completely out of hand, James learns that something big is going down in Times Square that requires their attention.

Chemistro is on the scene and is just blasting everything in sight.  The New Avengers show up and wonder why this guy is just having what looks to them like a tantrum.  Spider-Woman is the only one to point out that it might be a trap but no one heeds her.  They all just headlong into battle and right into... a trap.  Everyone gets within a certain range and loses their super powers.  Ms. Marvel drops painfully out of the sky.  Spidey crashes right into a bus.  Captain America clutches his robot arm and drops to the ground.  Luke goes into cardiac arrest.  Ronin vomits through his mask.  Spider-Woman checks on Carol before collapsing herself.  Only Mockingbird is left standing because she's the only one who doesn't have any super powers.

Chemistro smiles.  Looks like their power inhibitor works. 

drya3.jpgDark Reign: Young Avengers #3
Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciler: Mark Brooks


Last issue, the Young Avengers fought it out with the Dark Young Avengers, we saw how the Young Avengers eventually tracked down their darker counterparts, Coat of Arms shared her super secret sexy origin that involved Norman Osborn and not getting impregnated by the former Green Goblin (this is a feat for Ozzy), Enchantress uses magic to make sure all her teammates want to try out for the Young Avengers, and we learn that Princess Python is the mother of the Executioner. 

In this issue, it's all about tryouts as each Dark Young Avenger pairs up with their Young Avenger counterpart to take on a Hydra threat in the city.  The Young Avengers judge the new guys and decide to take on Enchantress and Coat of Arms and that's it.  Hawkeye tells everyone about the threats made to her by the Executioner who figured out her secret identity (not difficult when your mask is a pair of goggles).  Executioner tells the Dark Young Avengers that he has an in that will benefit them all before getting a visit from mom... all while Norman Osborn looks on.

Hydra is attacking the city and no one told the Secret Warriors.  That means that someone else will have to handle it and, since every other super hero team must be out of town, that leaves it in the capable hands of the outlaw teenage super heroes, the Young Avengers, and their new recruits, the Dark Young Avengers.  Everyone has paired off with their sparring partners from last issue.  That means Big Zero, the size changer, is taking out helicopters with Stature.

Big Zero is an incredible bigot and anarchist.  This is just fun for her.  Stature trained with the Initiative so this is more a job on her end.  She takes a clinical approach to the whole thing and is amazed at how much Big Zero pisses her off.

In another part of New York, Patriot and Melter are fighting it out with more Hydra Agents.  Well, Patriot is.  Melter is just standing there being a target.  After his freak out incident in the first issue where he melted an old lady, Melter isn't all that in to uses his powers.  Patriot doesn't know about the whole melting people thing and instead is impressed by Melter's restraint.

Enchantress gets to work with Wiccan and Hulkling.  She really wants to be an Avenger but probably doesn't know what that entails.  Enchantress turns the Hydra Agents in their vicinity into frogs with no intention of changing them back.  Wiccan casts his own magic to do so and magics up some rope to tie them up at the same time.  Enchantress explains to the duo that she's actually from Broxton, Oklahoma and woke up with magic powers.  She decided to pretend on being Asgardian and has regretted it since because it means she's got to put on a Shakespeare act everytime she's out.  Despite the whole random magic use, Wiccan and Hulkling really like her. 

Executioner and Hawkeye are off fighting Hydra-bots which is a good thing because, if these were people, Hawkeye would probably have to fight it out with Exey when he started killing people.  This does come up in conversation as does the fact that Executioner views everything as a resource.  He's very skilled at what he does but the murder thing isn't working in his favor.  Not with the Young Avengers.

Speed gets to team up with Coat of Arms.  They have prior history and Speed seems to be crushing pretty heavy on CoA.  It also looks like the two killed some Hydra Agents when they blew up a Hydra Metal Gear.  More important than that, Coat tells us even more about her origin.  When she was out on parole, she found her coat hanging up in an alley with a question spray painted around it: "R Super Heroes Gud?"  It's defined what kind of hero she is.

Vision and Egghead are fighting some Hydra in a jeep.  It's a short fight with violent results.

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During the short fight, Vision learns that Egghead is a douche.  He's another killer who had a lot of hate put into his programming by Big Zero.  Egghead is pretty confrontational when it comes to his programming so Vision stops arguing with him and looks like he's just going to turn the Dark Young Avenger off before the rest of the Young and Dark Young teams show up.  Each team is magicked to their respective headquarters while the Young Avengers decide who to keep and who to toss.

At the ruins of Avengers Mansion, the Young Avengers make some decisions and we get some follow up to the scenes we just witnessed.  Before that, we decide who they want to keep:  Enchantress and Coat of Arms.  That's all that make the cut.

Big Zero doesn't make it because she's a super bigot who doesn't even care if you think that she is or not.  She even does the whole "some of my best friends are Jews" thing without even caring whether she looks sincere.  It's a pretty easy one to not accept.

Vision doesn't just want Big Zero not let on the team, he wants to shut the machine down permanent-like.  They need to track down Egghead's origin and then send him off to that big junkyard in the sky... or probably at earth's molten core.  Wherever evil robots go.

Executioner is another matter.  After the big conflict, he and Hawkeye hung out on a rooftop while he talked shop.  Executioner really wants to be the next Punisher.  He explains how his mom finances him and is behind what he's doing.  He even shows her how he electrocuted stray cats while testing one of his devices.  Kate is less than impressed and uses his real name when telling him so.  That might have been a mistake because Executioner uses her name right back at her.  They go to school together.  Executioner uses this information to try and blackmail his way onto the team.

Wiccan offers to mindwipe the guy but that's not the solution that Hawkeye is looking for.  She's ashamed for not telling Executioner off right then and there.  She believes that this happened because she wanted to be superior to the Punisher wannabe and everyone in the room is now a little guilty for judging the rest of the Dark Young Avengers.  Patriot assures her that they won't let Executioner blackmail his way onto their team.  Hawkeye isn't too concerned about judging these people too harshly.  She's more worried that the Dark team's darkness will rub off on them all.

Back at the Invisible Mansion, the Dark team is learning all about Executioner's blackmail attempt.  He won't tell them Hawkeye's secret ID but wants everyone to know just how in they all are.  Enchantress also lets everyone in on how she fooled Wiccan and Hulkling into believing that she was some chick from Oklahoma instead of a goddess.  Melter asks everyone if maybe they should actually try to be actual Avengers but this gets everyone to laugh except for Coat, who seems to take this very seriously.

Later on, she's doing some painting of Cap punching out Hitler with the word balloon "am I real?" while also working on some chart relating great power and great responsibility when she breaks down a bit.  This might be more that she can put up with.

Elsewhere, Princess Python is visiting her son.  The Executioner.  She's his financer, as mentioned earlier, and is playing a typical mother looking in on her son and how much killing he's done lately.  Executioner doesn't like her being around that much and shoves her away when she's being too clingy.  She asks about Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) and Executioner brushes that line of questioning off.  Well, it turns out that the reason Princess Python is here is because she's set up a fund for her son so that he doesn't have to ask her for money any more.  He just needs to access the fund.  She'll do anything for her kid.

Elsewhere, Norman Osborn watches this scene take place and is astounded that Executioner hasn't figured out that his mom is a super criminal.  He's been watching these people and even dressed up his own men as Hydra for their test (which is probably why the Secret Warriors or Dark Avengers didn't show up anywhere in New York during the fight).  He asks his nameless assistant to let him know which Young Avenger killed during the training excercise.  He's expecting one of them to call him for some reason.  He'd like to know when that happens.

drtgl1.jpgDark Reign: The Goblin Legacy #1
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artist: Mike Mayhew


In this issue, Ms. Hand is looking into Norman Osborn's dark dirty secrets in an attempt to learn how to protect him better.  To that end, she's meeting with Peter Parker.  Peter warns her about how stupid crazy Green Goblin is before slipping into a flashback: Spider-Man #'s 39 and 40.  After those are done, Ms. Hand looks over the rest of her files on Ozzy's dirty secrets.  Norman walks in and isn't impressed by Victoria's initiative.  He burns her physical files and expects Hand to erase any saved ones.  This isn't something he wants anyone investigating.

Ms. Victoria Hand is meeting with Peter Parker.  Why?  Because she's looking for information about Norman Osborn.  It turns out Clint Barton has been revealing Ozzy's secrets in the media and, while Norman's done a pretty good job of covering himself and shut Barton out, Hand doesn't want to be surprised by any of this again.  So, to be proactive, she's going to people who knew Norman before he turned out to be the Green Goblin and map out Ozzy's history.

Peter, being Harry's best friend and Spidey's personal photographer, is on the list.  Pete's only there because Harry made him be here.  He's not Norman's number one fan by any means.  Peter warns Victoria that Norman has his own agenda and that might not match up with his public persona in any way.  At all.  He advises her to watch herself and not to end up in Osborn's wake when the guy does self-destruct.  Before he's allowed to go, Hand asks Parker if he had any clue that Osborn could be the Green Goblin.  Now, Harry didn't know Osborn that well when he learned the secret but that means he's being entirely truthful when he tells her that he had no idea.

As he walks off, he has a flashback to the recolored issues of Spidey #'s 39 and 40.  That means I can copy and paste my original write ups!  Just pretend I added some new colors.

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: John Romita Sr.

In this story, Green Goblin prepares to face Spider-Man, Peter visits the doctor, Harry Osborn gets yelled at by his father, Peter and Harry bond for the first time ever, Spidey gets into a fight with a bunch of crooks and gets hit with a gas bomb that removes his spidey-sense, Green Goblin follows Spidey around town until he learns Spider-Man's secret identity, Spidey gets attacked by GG right outside Aunt May's place, gets himself captured, and learns that Green Goblin is none other than Norman Osborn!  Gasp!

The issue opens with a very Green Goblin ranting about his latest plan to strike against Spider-Man.  Green Goblin had been out of action since the Crime-Master debacle in ASM #'s 26 & 27.  He decides that it's time to come out and get into as much trouble as possible.  He's not after money or power.  He's out to ruin the life of his mortal enemy.  Spider-Man.  They've fought a few times.

Meanwhile, Spidey isn't thinking about the Green Goblin at all.  Peter's got a stuffed up head and is swinging across town to visit the doctor.  After he's gottena  check up from the family physician, that same doc scares the hell out of him by telling an already chronically worried Peter Parker that his Aunt isn't strong and should not be exposed to any form of excitement.  In fact, the slightest breeze could have her life come crashing to an end.  Worry, Parker!  Worry like hell!

As Peter Parker worries his life away, Norman Osborn makes his second appearance in a Marvel Comic.  This time, he's driving his son to his college classes because that must be something fathers did in the sixties.  Harry is all concerned about his dad's feelings and wants to have a personal relationship with the man who gave him life but, as we all know, that's not how Norman rolls.  He's not about those hippy things like emotions and free love.  I mean, yeah, he'll bang every woman in Spidey's cast but that doesn't mean he actually cares about them or anyone else.  It's all Norman, all the time.  He's probably got mirrors everywhere.

Norman chews his son out for being too hippy and drives off to do important things.  Next time, Harry will have to deal with a chauffer.  Harry is a bit hippy and is sad that his dad cares more about important things than him.  He sulks his way to class, ignoring all his friends in the process.  Once in class, he nearly has it out with Peter Parker who is decidedly NOT his friend.  Still, Harry's hippy ways are showing and he quickly apologizes to Peter.  Harry tells Peter all about his dad while Peter shares the story about how he's an orphan and deserves a lot more pity.  In the background, Gwen Stacy thinks of the possibilities of hooking up with Peter Parker while Flash Thompson gains a little respect for his high school punching bag.  Also, a little anger.  Flash is a complicated guy... except he's not really.

Later on, Spidey is out for a swing around town when he encounters a bunch of criminals criming it up on the roof of a building in plain sight of anyone just swinging by.  Peter sets up his automatic camera and goes to work beating the tar out of crime.  It's a nice, long fight scene.  Two pages in, Peter realizes that he's out risking his life when Aunt May is about to die from the toast popping up too fast.  Regret and terror fill his heart which allows the bad guys to rally.  One hood throws a gas bomb at our hero which we learn will remove his spider-sense.  The hoods think that it'll be the advantage they need to take Spider-Man down but it turns out that it's just one step in Green Goblin's complicated plan.

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Spider-Man breaths the gas in deeply but it doesn't stop him from beating up the criminals, wrapping them up for the police, and swinging away.  He's got some film to sell so he doesn't swing far before landing and changing into his Peter Parker clothes.  Since his spider-sense isn't around to warn him of danger, Green Goblin gets a good look at Peter changing identities.  Peter could swear he hears the loud motor of a flying Goblin Glider but, since his spider-sense stays calm, he just believes he's imagining things.  Still, he worries that he might be losing his powers... or at least that spidey-sense.

Entering the Bugle, Peter ties up some loose ends as he makes peace with Ned Leeds.  They'd been long rivals for the heart of Betty Brant but Peter's nearly come to the conclusion that Brant is a crazy girlfriend with deep emotional issues.  Ned can have her.  He makes some serious bank selling the rooftop battle pics to JJJ and then hits the streets once again to return home.

Green Goblin is following him this entire time.  He may know what Spidey looks like outside his costume but that doesn't mean he knows who Spider-Man IS.  In fact, Green Goblin doesn't know Peter Parker.  He ends up following Peter right up to Aunt May's house before dropping out of the sky to confront his mortal enemy.  By this point, he's listened in long enough to at least get Parker's name.

Peter realizes how vulnerable he is and is incredibly surprised to learn that the Goblin figured out his secret identity.  Peter doesn't have his spider-sense and isn't wearing his web shooters.  Green Goblin has him right where he wants him and uses every trick in the book to keep Peter on his toes. 

Peter's got the additional worry that he might make too much noise and put his aunt, who's up waiting for him in the nearest house, into cardiac arrest.  Inside the Forest Hills home, Aunt May worries that Peter might have gotten into some trouble and nearly dies for thinking scary thoughts.  It's a wierd family.

It takes some time but Peter doesn't have any advantage in the battle and comes out the loser.  Green Goblin ties him up and brings him to the Goblin's secret lair.  Once inside, Peter wakes up to find himself tied securely to a chair with a ranting super-villain looming over him.  It's curtains for our favorite wall crawler and, just to reveal last minute secrets, Green Goblin peels back his mask to show Peter who his eventual killer is gonna be.

It's Norman Osborn.  Of course!

Wait, who's Norman Osborn?  You can tell by that brillo hair that he's related to a regular in this comic... he's got a name... OH!  Harry!  That guy who was a big jerk before this issue!  It's probably his dad!  Peter figures this out and is simply shocked.  SHOCKED!

If he were Aunt May, he'd be dying about now.

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: John Romita Sr.

In this comic, Norman shares his tragic origin tale for us as he reveals himself to be a crappy dad, and villainous businessman, a crazy super-villain, and more!  Aunt May worries over Peter and nearly dies as the phone almost rings!  Peter Parker breaks free of his bonds and fights Green Goblin to the death!  OK, not really.  He does bash him about really hard and makes Norman forget that he's the Green Goblin.  That's sort of like death, right?  Aunt May worries herself into a life and death situation but is saved by the family physician!  Peter returns home and gets waited on hand and foot by her Aunt... who is at death's door!  Norman Osborn recovers and establishes a relationship with his hippy son.

Green Goblin is frickin' insane.  You might not have realized that before but it takes a very special individual to fly around town on a Goblin Glider while wearing a goblin suit for no other reason that to fight it out with Spider-Man.  Norman's not in it for money.  He ain't doing this for power.  This is all about kicks.  He just likes fighting Spider-Man.  Sure, he once tried to get New York's gangs to follow him around but he was always more concerned about fighting it out with Peter Parker.  Now, he knows who Peter is.  Fair's fair.  Norman showed Peter who he is.  He believes that he'll kill Peter soon enough that the revelation won't have any lasting consequences.  We all know better.

Peter is tied up and needs some time to free himself.  To that end, he goads Norman into revealing the Secret Origin of the Green Goblin!  It turns out Norman was always a crappy father.  He was more worried about building his business... supposedly for his son's benefit... than actually caring for his kid.  No wonder Harry grew up to be a damn dirty hippy with feelings and everything.  Norman never beat those feeling out of him.  Harry never wanted for anything.  Norman bought him stuff and spent some quality time with his son but it was always like a business for him.  They weren't allowed to actually talk about things and his mind was always elsewhere.  Harry grew up lonely with nothing else to do except develop emotions.

Osborn used to be business partners with Wendell Strom until he found a way to remove his partner from the playing field.  This is why, later on, Strom returned as the Robot Master looking for revenge.  While Strom was in prison, Norman has free reign over the scientist's files.  Being sort of a scientist himself, Norman continues working on the formulas.  After turning down a chance to hang out with his son at school, Norman stayed in his lab making science until one of those experiments exploded in his face.  He ended up in the hospital with inoperable brain damage.  He started off as just a brutal, ruthless businessman.  Now, he was certifiably insane... it's just no one realized that yet.

Harry visited him at the hospital like any caring son would do but Norman was even more bitter to him now.  Any sense of love for his offspring was gone as the Goblin began taking over.  Norman berated his son the entire time.  Once returning home, Ozzy decided the only logical thing to do with his newfound craziness and supposed super strength was to go into the super villain business.  He developed his costume and weapons and went into business.  We cut back to the present.  Norman is through telling his Secret Origin.  He's ready to finish Peter off and, by ready, I mean he's ready to prolong killing Peter until our hero can free himself.  He demands that Spider-Man beg for his life.

While Peter keeps working on those ropes, we make a few cuts to the rest of our cast.  Aunt May has called over her friend, Anna, so that she'll be able to worry about Peter's absence with company over.  She waits by the phone, hoping that it will ring and Peter will tell her that he's just running late but know that, if the phone rings, the shock of hearing an abrupt noise could lay her up for months.  She finally ends up calling up J Jonah Jameson who has no idea where young Parker could be.  He suspects that Peter's out commiting young people shenanigans and plans to write an editorial about how everyone is doing him wrong in some way, shape, or form.  Aunt May continues to worry herself to a very late grave.

Betty Brant is in the midwest (probably Iowa) and is at a railroad station on her way back to New York City.  Brant is probably related to Peter with all the worrying she's doing.  She worries about Spidey.  She worries about getting her job back.  She worries about what seeing Peter and Ned will be like.  She worries that she isn't worrying enough about worrying.  It's tough being Betty Brant. 

Back at Green Goblin's secret lair, Peter has convinced Green Goblin to do more talking while he works one his ropes.  Green Goblin decides that, instead of just describing the next couple scenes, he'll hook himself up to a machine and show the web swinger how there was never a conclusive victory when the Goblin was involved.  This basically amounts to flashbacks to every Goblin appearance where we see that Spidey never really did beat the Goblin.

That's because the Goblin always got away.  Spider-Man constantly ruined the Green Goblin's plans but never captured the super-villain.

It's time to get a conclusive win from somebody.  Green Goblin has known the entire time that Peter was working on his bonds and made no headway.  That's ok.  Norman always planned on freeing the hero so that they could fight it out one last time.  Goblin pulls a lever and Parker is free.  Spider-Man quickly changes into his union gear and the battle is on.

Green Goblin keeps the battle long range for a time.  This is where Osborn has the advantage.  Spidey is able to block most of the stun bombs thrown at him but the battle wears on him.  Peter was already knocked unconscious once this night and he's fighting a cold besides.  Green Goblin is confident of victory and that makes him sloppy.  He closes in to finish the battle and winds up in Peter's range for a good punch or two.

Peter's fighting for not only his life but also for that of his weak, feeble, aunt.  Osborn knows his identity and, if Peter falls, it's possible Norman will track down Aunt May and, well, look at her or something.  Any little shock will kill her.  Spidey's got a good rally to go with and the battle turns to his favor.  Goblin regrets not ending Peter's life when he was tied up to a chair but it's too late to turn that clock back.  Still, this is Osborn's lab and there are lots of weapons available for his use.  Peter's able to dodge them but knows that his luck won't last long unless he ends this thing quickly.

Spider-Man hits Goblin with a flying kick.  The manuever sends Norman Osborn flying backward into some live electrical wires.  The shock takes Osborn out of the fight and also sets the lab on fire.  As all of Norman's secrets go up in smoke, Peter moves in closer to find that Norman Osborn seems to have no knowledge of ever being the Green Goblin.  Suddenly, Osborn just wants to see his son.

Spidey trusts his spider-sense (which must have come back or something) and decides that the threat of the Green Goblin is over forever.  He undresses Osborn and puts him back in his civilian attire.  After burning the Goblin costume, he carries the groggy Osborn out of the fire and into the hands of local fire fighters.

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Believing the career of the Green Goblin to be ended, Spider-Man swings away and rushes to return home to a very worried Aunt May.  He finds that his doctor is making a house call.  It turns out that Aunt May worried herself literally sick.  Dr. Bromwell had to come over and sedate her.  The doctor scolds Peter for not worrying hard enough about the health of his elderly aunt before leaving.

Peter rushes to May's side, making up some excuse about studying too hard and losing track of the time.  This would usually be code for making out with some girl but May knows that Peter doesn't get any play.  She believes Peter was actually studying.  Peter is a little red in the face from all his excersions as Spidey (he was also just at a fire) and May mistakes this for symptoms of a fever.  Even though she almost worried herself into a coma, she orders Peter to lay down as she nurses her completely healthy nephew (ok, he might still have a cold) back to health.  Peter protests but not too hard. 

Elsewhere, Harry Osborn visits his injured father at the hospital.  Norman doesn't remember much of what transpired that night but he promises his son that everything will be awesome from this moment on.

And that ends our flashback.

We catch back up with Ms. Hand later in the day.  She's pretty sure that Peter wasn't telling her something and thinks it might be important.  It was probably the fact that he was Spider-Man but, thanks to a deal with the devil, she won't get that info or realize the truthiness of it unless someone points it out to her that already knows.  She's convinced that someone else would have the same knowledge and reviews his notes to see if she missed anything.

What follows is a compilation on Goblin history.  I'm not going over it all because this story would them be damn long.  What is important are GG's comic appearances that I've already gone over in Super Reads and some that I'll get to before we switch topics.  I hope you all hang around for them!  I hope I hang around for them! :D  If you're really interested in reading through the history of Norman Osborn, you can do it for free over on Wikipedia.  I'll try not to alter the information for you.

After looking over the files, she's surprised to find Norman Osborn looming behind her.  Oz tells her to go home and then realizes that she's looking over some super secret documents.
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Norman doesn't appreciate this digging into his private affairs.  He grabs the papers, throws them in the trash while telling Victoria to delete the files on her computer, and burns the documents.  The burning makes him recall when Spidey carried him out of the burning building in issue #40 while his costume burns.  The memory is buried deep and it seems like he can't fully grasp it.  Maybe he's thinking about Spidey's secret identity which he no longer remembers.  Maybe it's something else.

Nevertheless, he'll figure it out eventually.


drth3.jpgDark Reign: The Hood #3
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kyle Hotz


In our last issue, the Hood let Dormammu take over to defeat White Fang but stopped him short of killing her, John King gave Parker the sobriety talk, the Cabal had a meeting, the Syndicate's current safehouse went up in flames, Parker introduced his girlfriend and daughter to his mentally unstable mother, and Parker met Satana.

In this issue, Force busts members of the Syndicate as they're leaving a bar drunk out of their minds.  Satana has a spiritual meeting with Parker and hires herself onto his staff.  We get a glimpse at Dormammu's past.  White Fang meets the Controller.  Parker has a family moment before getting a call from jail where some of his Syndicate members are sitting after last night's escapades.  He eventually gets around to busting them out but still gets into a fight with the Griffin.  This would be great except Parker isn't wearing his real cloak and has no powers.  Later on, Parker visits his mom to find that she's no longer insane... a gift from Dormammu.  Finally, the Controller decides to fund White Fang's attempts to kill the Hood.

In Harlem, some members of the Syndicate are leaving a local bar.  Among them is Piledriver from the Wrecking Crew, Griffin, Scorcher, and John King.  You know who shouldn't be bar hopping?  John King.  He's an alcoholic.  Shouldn't be drinking but he is.  If you look closely at the panels, you'll also noticed the Controller and two associates walking down the street.  We'll catch up with them later.

For now, our drunk super villains (and John King) are going to get themselves busted by Force.  You might not know who Force is.  He's a former Iron Man villain who redeemed himself way back in the day.  Lately, Force has been playing on the side of the angels at times with Iron Man.  In the Dark Reign, he's helping out the New York PD and picking up very obvious super criminals.  They're pretty drunk right now so it's the easiest fight Force will ever fight.  Unfortunately, he gets a bit of vomit on his leg from a sick Piledriver.  The cops show up soon after to pick all these wastes up.  Not a good day for John King to be picked up drunk.

In Greensich Village, Satana is doing a bit of mystical counseling for the Hood.  Parker tells her that he's kind of possessed by Dormammu through the cloak he's wearing.  Exorcism is out of the question.  Dormy's not a demon.  He's an Elder.  Parker's best bet is Dr. Stange but Robbins isn't all that convinced that he's the answer.  Satana does her best advertisement for the good doctor.  Strange was the Sorceror Supreme that finally banished Dormammu from the real world so that Dormy can only come back through a vessel.

The Hood is that vessel but he has some control over his situation.  Parker gives him whatever power Dormammu can use.  If he allows him, Dormy can enter this plane.  If he doesn't do so, Dormammu has nothing.  Before Parker got the cloak, another group was trying to draw Dormammu through to this plane with a dead body as a host.  It was this creature that Parker shot and "killed" in order to come in possession of the Hood and boots.  This all went according to Dormammu's plan.

Satana tells Parker all about how powerful Dormammu is.  He's from an ancient race called the Faltine who were pretty powerful in their own right.  He and his sister went about gaining more powers and taking over dimension after dimension before he betrayed his sister.  This is a dude who can take over entire dimensions.  This info is enough to make Parker doubt he can take care of Dormy without help.  Satana tells him that he should stop wearing the cloak.  She offers to take it from him but Robbins isn't willing to part with it just yet.  Satana says he should hire her on full time.  This is something Parker takes under advisement.

In Brooklyn, White Fang is trying to build her gear after it go trashed last issue.  She isn't having much luck at all.  Everything is broken beyond her ability and resources to repair.  That means she'll need help... possibly from the Controller.

In Queens, Parker's woman (as opposed to his OTHER woman, Madame Masque) wakes up to find her baby gone.  She rushes around to house only to find that Parker is home taking care of their kid in the living room.  This touching family moment is interupted when John King finally calls up to tell him that they got busted the night before.  This isn't something Parker wants to deal with and so he chews his cousin out, hangs up on King, and decides he'd rather go eat breakfast with his family.

John King tells everyone that their call to the Hood yielded no results.  Before anyone can work out a plan, these guys are taken out of the cell and handed over to HAMMER custody.  One of the local cops mentions that the Shocker was put into HAMMER custody a couple weeks ago only to show up back on the streets.  The HAMMER Agent just replies that it's probably someone else wearing the gear.

While everyone else is getting loaded into the HAMMER paddy wagon, King is directed over to a car where he's surprised to find Parker.  The Hood chews him out for going out drinking.  HAMMER ends up dropping everyone off at the site of their old headquarters and not everyone is happy for the get out of jail free card.  Griffin doesn't appreciate that he was left in jail all day.  People love to whine.  This leads to a fight between the two which you'd think would be more one sided considering that the Hood isn't wearing his hood.  He borrowed the hood from the Crimson Cowl.  Still, Parker ends up shooting down the super villain before ordering the rest to drag the Griffin off to get healed up.

The Hood gets another phone call but, this time, it's good news.  His mom is sane again.  Parker rushes down to St. Martin's Convalescent Home to visit and is totally happy to see his mom talking like a normal person.

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Parker calls in the rest of his family for a quick visit.  Everyone is surprised and happy that Parker's mom is better but there's a little bad news to go with the good:  it's Dormammu who brought back Parker's mom to a semblance of normal.  Parker is still possessed even without the cloak.  Dun.  Dun.  DUN!

The Controller's meeting with White Fang is fruitful for everyone.  He's got White Fang's number down pretty well.  She's not here like the Punisher, taking down all criminals.  She's got a very specific target.  He's willing to work with that.  The Controller has already got a suit ready made for her and also has a line in on the Hood's weakness: he doesn't wear his magic cape when he's around his family.  The Controller has pictures of them.  Dun.  Dun.  DUN.

tb134.jpgThunderbolts #134
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda


Last issue, Yelena Belova, the second Black Widow, had a meeting with Ghost where we learned that she might not be as loyal as she seems, HAMMER Agents started clearing out bums in Cleveland and found themselves up against Songbird, Norman Osborn hired himself another Thunderbolt and named this one Scourge, Ant-Man and Paladin discussed where their loyalties lie, and we learned that Black Widow is secretly working with Nick Fury.

This issue, Songbird has a mini T-Bolt reunion with Abe Jenkins and Norbert Ebersol (MACH IV and Fixer) but ends up leaving without their help.  Mr. X fights Headsman.  Songbird and Abe get done with a long awaited kiss.  The Thunderbolts are off on a mission to intercept Songbird.  Black Widow takes a call from Nick Fury where she tells him that this is the last mission for her and then follows up with a call from Norman Osborn where she's quickly demoted and command is given to Scourge.  Songbird takes down the T-Bolts' ride but nearly takes herself out in the same move.  She crashes to the ground to find Black Widow looming over her.  We get one last surprise when we learn that Black Widow isn't Yelena Belova at all.  She's actually Natasha Romanova.  The first Black Widow.

Abe Jenkins and Norbert Ebersol are kind of retired from the super hero and super villain game.  They've got a government contract to develop weapons for the government and, right now, that means making the next MACH armor.  This one will probably be known as MACH V except never actually called that officially since those Speed Racer lawyers are quick to sue.  Before they can launch the new prototype, they have someone flying their way damn quick.  You can probably guess who it is.

It's Songbird.  She made a quick fly in to try and avoid detection.

In the Thunderbolts' headquarters, The Cube, Mister X is making going through some training excercises while Headsman is looking on.  Headsman isn't a trained fighter.  He's mostly just a bruiser and watching this crazy kung fu is cool to him.  Mr. X tells Headsman all about how he trained under masters before killing them one by one.  Mr. X is pretty snooty about all this stuff.  He's also damn good.  He challenges Headsman to a fight which Cleavon Twain (yeah, that's Headsman's name) is not all about until he's goaded into it by some lame insults on Twain's family.  Of course, the fight is over quickly even with Mr. X only using his feet.  X is about to choke Cleavon to death before Black Widow jumps on the com and ends this fight.

Yelena Belova tells X that this type of thing won't be tolerated.  That's not her main reason for using the com, however.  It's mission time!  Everyone to the Thunderstrike!  It's time to kill a former T-Bolt.

This fight is over but Cleavon isn't ready to admit it.  He throws his knife at Mr. X but it's not going to help him.  X easily catches the knife without even looking and dares Headsman to retrieve it.  Twain isn't rising to the bait but that just means that Mr. X is able to give some threats right back and tell Headsman that he'll return the knife at a later date.  Unexpectedly.

Abe and Norbert are talking it up with Songbird.  She's got Osborn on her tale and is trying to get the band back together.  Osborn took over the Thunderbolt name before he was able to get ahold of the Avengers.  She thinks it's up to them to stop Ozzy.  Abe is down with this but Fixer isn't.  Norbert doesn't see the benefit in taking on Norman Osborn and, after thinking about it, Songbird isn't ready to commit these two to the coming fight.  This is her battle and she doesn't want to ruin their lives by including them.  Abe tells her that she should try getting a hold of Radioactive Man.  Chen has been loaned out to North Korea (which isn't where he's at in Mighty Avengers) so maybe Mel would need to make a trip in that direction.

She takes off after giving her ex a kiss.  Is this a reopening of the Songbird/MACH IV relationship?  We can only hope.  Turns out how Osborn's run ends.

The T-Bolts are flying to intercept Songbird.  On their way, Black Widow gets a call from Nick Fury.  Nick wants Yelena to bring Songbird to him alive which makes this the last mission she'll be able to make in her corrent cover.  Nick asks if she's got any team members that might switch sides but Belova doesn't see them doing that.  Scourge is all about obeying orders.  Paladin is looking at the paycheck.  Everyone else is looking out for themselves.  She has to say goodbye to Fury to take a call from Norman.

Norman's upset that he had to wait to have his call picked up.  Yelena gives the excuse that she was getting ready to address her team and Osborn has an answer for that.  They're no longer her team.  She's being demoted and replaced by Scourge.  Black Widow is benched while Scourge leads the team to capture Songbird.  This means she won't be able to save Songbird's life and bring the former T-Bolt to Nick Fury.  Stuff is falling apart.

Songbird finds her peaceful flight interupted by a barrage of missiles.  Scourge wants Songbird downed so that him and his team can take her out since none of them are fliers.  Well, Headsman is but he's not a master of aerial combat.  Songbird is dodging the missiles pretty well and decides it's time to bring it back to source.  She grabs one of the missiles out of the air and directs it back at the Thunderstrike.  The missile blows off a wing.

Yelena sets the ship to autopilot and ejects.  This leaves the Thunderstrike to crash without anyone at the pilot's seat.  Songbird is also taken out in the explosion and finds herself crashing as well.  When she rises, she finds Black Widow II with a gun to her head.

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Belova isn't here to kill anyone.  She's here to rescue Songbird.  That means gaining some trust.  She decides that, since her cover is blown, it's time to reveal her true identity.  She's been wearing genetic camouflage.  Black Widow takes an injection to her neck that begins changing her back to her base form as...

Natasha Romanova.  The original Black Widow.

Don't even try to figure out how this fits in with Cap Reborn or Invincible Iron Man.

sw6.jpgSecret Warriors #6
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stefano Caselli


Last issue, the Howling Commandos assaulted the Dock, Hydra learned of the operation and planned an intervention, the crap hit the fan as Hydra took down the Howlers, and the Caterpillars showed up to turn the tide back the other way.

This issue, we cut back into the past where Eden joins the team, Daisy get the call to action, and needs to convince Jerry Sledge to go into battle.  With the obligatory flashback out of the way, we go right back to the big battle happening at the Dock with HAMMER versus the Howlers versus Hydra versus the Caterpillars.  Dum Dum and team steal a bunch of helicarriers and give the Howlers/ Caterpillars a distinct tactical advantage.  Viper and Madam Hydra recover a device from Clan Yashida.  Hydra retreats from the Docks.  Fury does some recruiting from HAMMER before everyone flies off in some stolen Helicarriers.  Finally we learn that Fury wasn't responsible for summoning the Caterpillars and that Madam Hydra is Contessa de Alegra Fountaine.

Before the Caterpillars joined the battle at the Dock to turn the tide, Daisy and Druid have returned to Inside Straight with their newest member, Eden.  After introductions are made all around, Daisy rushes in to tell everyone that her doohickey is beeping.  It's some sort of panic button and she's supposed to respond if it ever goes off.  Even though these guys probably aren't ready for this, they need to go back into battle.  First, she needs to convince Jerry  Sledge, Stonewall, to leave Yo-Yo's side and maybe get some payback.  Yo-Yo lost her arms to a confrontation with the Gorgon and this hit Stonewall pretty hard.  Yo-Yo is going to be back.  Guaranteed.  Still, she lost her arms.  It's pretty bad.  Stonewall decides revenge is a good reason to join the fight.

And now, the fight.  Hydra!  HAMMER!  The Howling Commandos!  The Caterpillars!  It's all out battle royal time!

Now, this is the rallying time but that doesn't mean that it's a one sided fight.  The Gorgon isn't going to go down easily and the same goes for the rest of Hydra's top players.  Hellfire ends up eating the Hive's fist on one side of the conflice while Stonewall goes in for one on one combat with the Gorgon.  Gorgon?  Not really that beatable.  Still, Stonewall gains some mass and a nice rocky skin so at least Gorgon's will have to earn this one.  While that's going on, Druid goes to assist Fury to his feet.

Fury makes a call to check on Dum Dum's status which means we cut over to the Helicarrier bridge where the Howlers are taking charge.

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Dum Dum has backdoors into the Helicarrier's command rigs and is able to get the hulks airborn.  This puts Hydra at a pretty big disadvantage as the Helicarriers launch robot drone ships to make Howler victory almost completely assured.

In Tokya, another part of Hydra's plan is unfolding.  Viper and Madam Hydra are having a meeting with Clan Yashida and the Silver Samurai to purchase a box.  There's a lot more to this meeting than that.  It's pretty much an alliance of sorts but the main prize for Hydra is this demon box.  The box contains it's own version of madness and upon opening, it makes the opener crazy and probably has a lot of power within it as well.  Silver Samurai was entrusted to it's protection.  With it in Hydra's protection, Yashida gets their families back.  Silver Samurai was seeing Viper and is angry because he believes that this box was the reason Viper was with him.  She's not denying it.  SS takes out his anger on the table, slicing it in two.

At the Dock, the battle is over.  Hydra retreats even though Gorgon is not at all happy with that option and goes unwillingly.  That's sort of a win but Fury and his men aren't out of the woods yet.  There are still HAMMER Agents in the area and they heavily outnumber the Howlers.

HAMMER Agents surround Fury and Daisy with their rifles pointed.  Their commander tells Fury that he's under arrest.  Fury tells him to put his damn gun away before he gets it back in an uncomfortable place.  That message goes to everyone.  These Agents lower their weapons.  Fury decides that these guys might make good recruits and offers to take all who feel like joining.

The aftermath is all good.  Dum Dum gets to know some of these Caterpillars better.  Everyone is celebrating as many HAMMER Agents swell their ranks.  Daisy checks out Hellfire's wound.  Eden is just happy to be kicking some tail.  Gareb apologizes to Fury over being kind of difficult the last two issues.  Fury isn't even sweating it. 

Nick and Dum Dum have a private conversation where Fury tells Dugan that they'll need lots of stuff to make this work.  Mostly men that are loyal which will need some psi-investigation.  Dum Dum sees this costing some bank which Fury says isn't a problem.  They probably aren't dealing with Nick's money.  So, who's the supplier?  Will we ever learn?

Anyway, Dugan has one month which is more than enough time.

Later on, at the Inside Straight, Nick has a meeting with Daisy.  Turns out he didn't activate that panic button doohickey.  That was someone else and he's not saying who.  He's unapologetic about letting Daisy in.  He doesn't really trust her.  It's not his base state, after all.  He's made to not trust people.  The point is, he WANTS to trust her which is probably the best she's going to get out of him.

As Daisy Johnson leaves the room, Nick gets a call from Contessa.  She asks how he's doing and he doesn't reveal anything.  It's been a Monday.  He asks her how she's been and she tells him she's been up to no good.  A lot of it.  It's just gonna get worse from here on out.

We cut to a scene with her.  She's got that box that Hydra took from Clan Yashida and she's dressed up as Madam Hydra.

Told ya.

drssm2.jpgDark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #2
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencilers: Chris Bachalo with Rob Disalvo


Last issue, Mac Gargan, the Sinister Spider-Man, captured General Wolfram and ate his arm, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson got a visit from Dr. Gunderson and chewed him a new one for suggesting anything about rehabilitating super villains, Gargan took a stripper back to Avengers Tower, Gunderson decided to go ahead without mayoral approval on the Redeemer program, and JJJ came home to find a dead stripper all over his bedroom. 

In this issue, we have some fallout from the dead stripper incident as Mayor JJJ calls in the police.  Venom eats a squirrel before starting a gang war and picking up women.  The Redeemer has a group meeting and we get multiple secret origins on losers we may never see again.  J Jonah Jameson asks Norman Osborn for help and gets himself his very own Spider-Man.

After finding a dead stripper all over, around, and through his bedroom, Mayor J Jonah Jameson did the thing all law abiding citizens do when faced with these type of situations.  He packed his bags and moved to Mexico.

No.  Nonono.  He actually called the cops.  That's what YOU would do, right?  You ARE a law abiding citizen, right?  Sure, I'll give you time to hide your bong.

Anyway, Jameson might want to keep something like this quiet but it's just not gonna happen.  He's a public figure and a dead stripper was found in his bedroom.  That isn't to say that anyone actually thinks he did it.  Police Chief Ricardo Ibanez certainly doesn't.  His men have already found out that this stripper was brought in from the outside and there's a good chance super powers were involved.  That doesn't scream J Jonah unless the dude's using a Spider Slayer.  Jameson doesn't like this type of publicity, however, because it makes him look like he's not in control... which is true but not something Jolly Jonah's going to admit.

Now, most people think that Venom likes to eat brains.  Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't.  The point is, I don't think he's ever actually eaten one.  Never on panel, at least.  Granted, he ate an arm off panel last issue and I'm pretty convinced he actually ATE that.  What he's allowed to eat ON panel, of course, is squirrels.  They're probably delicious.  Gargan thinks so, at least.

This is just a quick snack before his meeting with the Rolling Sevens leader, Red.  Gargan goes by the name of "Kilgore Trout" because he thinks it's clever and is pretty certain these thugs aren't going to realize that the name is actually a character from Kurt Vonnegut's works.  Red doesn't like these meeting, especially when there's no cash involved which is when Mac pulls out a bank card to an account in the Caymans.  A quarter million dollars. 

Where'd he get that kind of change?  He's been selling Iron Men.

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So what's the money for?  Gargan wants the Rolling Sevens to attack the Park Avenue Players because of some wrong he doesn't even try to explain because it doesn't really exist.  He's trying to start a gang war and a quarter million bucks is a good way to get that party started.

A couple hours later, our Sinister Spidey crashes in on some Park Avenue Players and, since he's out of money, decides to attack them and blame it on the Rolling Sevens.  I think that's enough motivation to start that gang war up hardcore on both sides.

As the police take away these particular Players so they can eventually get bail or just get word out to their gang that the Rolling Sevens are gunning for them, Spider-Man takes his own spoils from this adventure: Triplets.  I'm guessing he'll need a snack for later.

Jonah's week isn't getting any better after the stripper incident.  His former paper, the DB, is destroying his image after that fiasco and now he's got to deal with the gang war.  Jameson knows things are bad but doesn't know what to do about it.  Mantell, one of his advisors, has an idea that is guaranteed to be received well by JJJ.

But more on that later.  For now, Dr. Shep Gunderson is heading to group therapy.  His main goal is the redemption of Spider-Man.  Gunderson believes that Spidey is the only evil Avenger in Norman's employ because of some unspecified incident in his past.  Or maybe it's just gas.  The point is, Shep has Gargan's number.  What he does about it is the question on all our minds.

The Redeemer subplot in this mini is by far the weakest element and you actually wish at times that they'd just focus on the rest of the story instead because it's far more interesting.  Still, some of these characters at group therapy are at least good for a laugh.

There's the Hippo who claims to have been evolved by the High Evolutionary and then just abandoned at the zoo.  The humanoid hippo knew that he wasn't likely to get a job so he decided robbing banks would be a better plan.  This led to him running into Spider-Man and getting his leg bitten off.

We then move on to General Wolfram who tells us a bunch of lies just like he did last issue before the Redeemer (that's Dr. Gunderson's secret identity) calls him on it and Wolfram breaks down and cries.  Last issue, Wolfram lost an arm to Venom.

Gunderson tries to get the girl named Eleven to talk about why she wants to redeem Spidey but Eleven absolutely does not.  Spidey bit off her leg and it's revenge that she's seeking.  The Redeemer moves on.

Dementoid is up next and his deal is sort of confusing.  He invented some sort of Dementoid Gel that he used on himself like every mad scientist ever.  That changed him.  It made him green and he grew two arm things out of his back.  His touch drove people insane but did nothing to stop Venom.  Venom chewed off his arms but they're still there and bandaged on the ends.  Maybe he had hands on the ends at one time?  Maybe it doesn't really matter?

Last on our list is the Doctor Manhattan duplicate, Doctor Everything.  DE is completely naked and missing an arm.  This isn't because of some battle with Spidey.  Everything hasn't even met Spider-Man.  He just wanted to fit in, feel pain, get a sunburn to know he's alive.  You know, human stuff.

Gunderson has somehow gotten a hold of some seriously jacked up prosthetics.  They're on loan because the manufacturer believed they were giving them to a magazine writer.  Still, what manufacturer loans out prosthetics with Wolverine claws?  Or whatever spikey things are now on the end of Dementoid's extra arms?  I guess you've gotta get your extra cyborg limbs from somewhere and, in the Marvel Universe, that means going through Cable's junk drawer.

So, how is Jameson going to clean up New York City?  He's going to visit Uncle Osborn up in Avengers Tower.  Mayor Jameson needs a hero to be the face of the crime fighting element in NYC.  He wants Ms. Marvel but that's not ironic enough for Norman.

C'mon, we all know how this goes.  It's his comic, after all.  The face of super-heroes in New York's war on crime is none other than the Sinister Spider-Man.

That means J Jonah Jameson's troubles have just begun.

drh4.jpgDark Reign: Hawkeye #4
Writer: Andy Diggle
Penciler: Tom Raney


Last issue, Bullseye was being haunted by a dude in a Bullseye costume who was doing his dirty deeds (done dirt cheap) before the Avenger was able to do them himself.  Also, the haunting.  Norman Osborn congratulated Lester on a job well done before asking him if he had killed one Senator Irving Grey which Bullseye denied.  Ben Urich was being fed information by a guy going by "Deepthroat" (which is always good for a laugh-- haha Tricky Dick!).  Deepthroat had information that the terror cell Hawkeye missed the shot at killing (thanks to the fake Bullseye beating him to it) was a front organization for the NSA and approved by Senator Irving Grey (now deceased).  Hawkeye fought it out with the faux Bullseye in a chase around New York that ended in a warehouse with the fake Bullseye stabbed in the eye with a shard of glass.  It's not over yet!  Hawkeye was surrounded by lots of other fake Bullseyes all with their weapons trained on him.  Someone's going through a lot of trouble trying to make Lester look crazy(er).

In this issue, Hawkeye kills a lot of fake Bullseyes who all probe pretty incompetent.  He learns that the first fake (with the glass shard in his eye) is a teleporter before being tazed unconscious.  Urich has another meeting with Deepthroat where he learns of a man named "Kingmaker" but not that dude's identity.  Lester finds out the the man behind the attempt at driving him mad(der) is his very own father who has plans to switch minds with his son so that he can enjoy the ravages of youth.  The teleporting Bullseye is revealed to be Solo, a minor hero who usually shows up in Spidey-titles, and also learns that he's been working for the bad guys.  Ben has a meeting with a dude named Spudger and gets on the track of who "Kingmaker" is.  Finally, Bullseye's dad (who happens to BE Kingmaker) makes the mistake of forgetting all about the adamantium laced throughout Bullseye's skeleton as Lester rises from the operating table to take some revenge on his poppa.

Dark Hawkeye surrounded by a bunch of dudes wearing his old costume and pointing automatic weapons at him?  Not as much of a problem as you might think.  We find out that the original faux Bullseye, stabbed in the eye last issue, is still alive as he orders the others to start firing.  That just means that Hawkeye is going to make a whole room of Bullseyes look like schmucks.  He starts kicking some ass as he dances around the room (sometimes on Bullseye heads).  Once he's able to get a hold of a machine gun, it perfect headshots all around for the assassin that never misses.

Before he's able to take out his first duplicate, that particular Bullseye teleports away.  Another Bullseye begs for mercy only to receive a headshot all his own.  Hawkeye has cleared the room of fakers.  He starts to unmask the Bullseye Brigade but doesn't get far before the first duplicate returns and tazes him out.

At the offices of Frontline, Ben Urich is about to get another meeting with Deepthroat.  DT pulls a gun on him in a darkened room and then starts to feed the reporter/publisher more information.  This time, that info relates to the guy who ran the NSA Black Ops Unit: Kingmaker.  It is Kingmaker who is responsible for the death of Senator Irving Gray and for pinning it on Bullseye.  Gray knew the identity of Kingmaker so that's probably why the Senator isn't alive any longer.  Urich asks if Kingmaker has reactivate PTSF (the terrorist organization that has been running around behind the scenes in this book) but Deepthroat has already disappeared.  Maybe he's a teleporter...

Lester is waking up in a secured location to find that he hasn't made a friend of his double.  In fact, it turns out that stabbing out someone's eye might actually make you a worst enemy.  The faux Bullseye is punching Hawkeye in the face and there's nothing Lester can do about it.  This is because faux Bullseye is employing a Motor Nerve Induction Paralysis machine that keeps that keeps Hawkeye from moving any voluntary muscles.  He has no choice but to take this beating until faux Bullseye's superior enters the room and orders him to stop.

This is where we learn a number of things.  The first is that Fake Bullseye is actually Solo.  Who's that?  Solo is a one man war on terror that has made most of his appearances in Spider-Man books.  He's working for a man who turns out to be Hawkeye's dad and who we'll later learn is Kingmaker (he's the bald guy confined to the space age wheelchair with the burnt up skin).  Kingmaker's brought his super doctor along and two sexy super nurses who's purpose we'll learn a little later.  Finally, we learn that Hawkeye plans on killing Solo regardless.  That's probably something that'll happen in issue five.

Kingmaker orders Solo out of the room so that he can have a chat with his kid.

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Kingmaker doesn't want his son dead.  The trying to kill each other bit is a psycho game the two play where they keep one upping each other except it's pretty serious because these guys HATE one another.  The trying to drive Hawkeye crazy thing was just part of a plan to rattle him enough to put him off his game so that he'd fall right into this sort of trap.  All that craziness he put his son through wasn't to drive him crazier.  It was to capture him so that Kingmaker could switch brains with his son and live a life of renewed youth (it's wasted on the young, anyway).

The last time Bullseye tried to kill his father was in a fire.  Kingmaker was saved by Solo.  Solo believed that Kingmaker had information that would help the super hero take down the PTSF terror cell.  Solo's been a pawn of Kingmaker ever since which is funny because this guy is the one actually running PTSF.

So the super doctor and super nurses are here to assist with the brain transfer.  It's a painful procedure because they won't be anasthetizing Lester.  They'll just be doing this while Bullseye can't move a muscle thanks to the Motor Nerve Induction Paralysis gizmo.  Lester seem less than phased with the fact that he's about to lose his body to his daddy.

That's ok.  Solo can be phased enough for everyone.  He's been listening in on this conversation and learned that he's been a dupe of the PTSF leader this entire time.  That makes him just a bit pissed.

Ben Urich is making a meeting with an old contact by the name of Spudger.  Spudger is a paranoid man who gave up a life or relative riches to live in a junkyard under a cell-phone tower.  This tower and location also give him access to any number of networks that you wouldn't want, say, a terrorist to have access to.  Luckily, Spudger isn't a terrorist.  He's ex-SHIELD.  When Urich asks him about Kingmaker of NSA, Spudger is spooked.  He'll tell Urich what he wants to know but he's got to make sure they're more secure first.

Back on the operating table, Bullseye remains incredibly calm.  He advises that doc to get a vibranium scalpel.  His skull is laced with adamantium, after all.  Oh, that adamantium?  It's sort of blocking the paralysis machine.  Perhaps he has the strength to stand afterall.

To the surprise and shock of everyone present, Hawkeye rises from the table.

It's on like Donkey Kong.

drll2.jpgDark Reign: Lethal Legion #2
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Mateus Santolouco


Last issue, lawyer Mr. Livingston arrived at the Raft to meet his clients. During his meeting with Eric Williams, the Grim Reaper, Williams is shived by an Osborn supporter. Livingston then got the story from Tigershark that covers the time from his failure to kill Deadpool to joining the Lethal Legion and right up to the point when the team was joined by the Grim Reaper's brother, Simon Williams. Wonder Man.

In this issue, the Lethal Legion's lawyer, Mr. Livingston, interviews possibly the most famous member of the Legion: the ex-Avenger, Wonder Man.  Wonder Man tells Livingston what led to him joining his brother in the Lethal Legion and more on their plan to capture Norman Osborn.  Absorbing Man is next on the list of clients and recalls their fight against the Dark Avengers and how they were able to capture Osborn.  On his way to his next client, Livingston finds out that Eric Williams is dead.

Mr. Tillis is leading Mr. Livingston to his next client, Simon Williams.  You might know him better as Wonder Man.  We learn that Simon hasn't been taking prison life very well at all.  He doesn't talk and Tillis believes he's given up on himself.  This is a far cry from him being a member in good standing with the Mighty Avengers during the Initiative and during Secret Invasion.  Not that this is a complete surprise.  Williams started his time in the Marvel Universe as a bad guy (even though he redeemed himself at the end of his first appearance) and had been black listed after comments he made on the Dave Letterman show (he called out Norman Osborn and complained about how America deserves him).

Once Livingston meets the ex-Avengers, Williams is quite talkative.  He wants to make sure that he doesn't get a free ride out of prison.  He's guilty as hell and, being the hero that he is, wants to serve his time.  That doesn't mean he wants to keep this all inside any longer, though.  He's ready to tell his story.

After Wonder Man was blacklisted, he had a lot of time to watch television and make a mess of his penthouse apartment.

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It's during this time that he was approached by his brother.  The two aren't exactly on the same side of the law and that means they do their best to fight it out and trash whatever's left of that nice apartment.  After the fight, the brothers hang out and discuss what they have in common.  Eric convinces Simon to work with him on taking down Norman Osborn and, due to Simon's influence, curbs the Lethal Legion's more violent tendancies.  Simon did it to try and take back some of the damage he'd done to his brother over the years.

The plan to kidnap (or "apprehend" in Simon's world) Norman Osborn was put into place and the Lethal Legion was mostly on board.  It's not easy to just start trusting an ex-Avenger but everyone eventually comes around except for Absorbing Man.  He tries duking it out with Simon but is held back by Tigershark and ends up leaving the team for a time.

Livingston believes he's got enough information from Simon.  He is about to take off for his next client when Wonder Man asks about his brother.  Eric was stabbed in the last issue and it's about time we got a status update on him.  Livingston tells Williams that, as far as he knows, the Grim Reaper is still alive.  It's hard to read his face, but I'm pretty sure this is good news for Simon.  They ARE brothers, after all.

Next up is Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man.  While the Legion are technically confined to their cells after the Reaper got shived, this boxing match takes precedence.  It would drive these prisoners crazy if they didn't have a little controlled violence in their lives.  Creel knocks out his opponent and then meets up with his lawyer.

One thing to know about the Absorbing Man?  He knows he's a super villain and doesn't care.  He's got his own rules that he follows and sticks to them.  If that makes him a super villain?  So be it.

So, what was Creel's reason for not hopping on the gravy train that is Dark Reign?  Absorbing Man realized that having the Green Goblin in charge of things was a Bad Idea.  He's got family and didn't want to hear that Norman had gone crazy and blown up their town on a whim.  Sometimes, you find something worth fighting against and this was one of those times.  That's why he eventually came back after quitting the Legion upon Wonder Man joining.

That, and he wanted some payback on the Sentry.

Crusher lays down the assault on Avengers Tower.  The Lethal Legion went for a frontal attack and Norman sent his Avengers to respond.  Iron Patriot remained topside with the Sentry to protect him.  All going according the plan.  Absorbing Man entered the building via the water system and returned to his original form right behind Norman and Bob.

Crusher has tried fighting Sentry before and ended up overloading himself on Sentry's power.  This time, he regulates that power so that he doesn't take enough to overload but just enough where he can, at least temporarily, take out the Sentry.  Osborn realizes the trouble he's in but none of the Dark Avengers get the chance to head up to assist their boss.  Wonder Man flies in super fast and takes Norman out the other way as quick as he could.  Consider Iron Patriot kidnapped and the Dark Avengers don't even know what to do about it.

It's one of the good moment with this gig.  The problem was, they were all sold out.  Livingston says that Absorbing Man quitting the team might make him a suspect but that just makes Crusher angry.  Tillis is quick to order the criminal to back down or suffer some taser.  Crusher responds with a few threats to Tillis but DOES back off.  The Absorbing Man believes that any of them could have been the rat.  Hell, Hyde and Nekra had slept together.  That's a hell of a motive.

This is some info that Livingston never considered.  Tillis has even more.  It turns out the Eric Williams has died.  We cut to Nekra's cell where the Grim Reaper's girl is crying like she already knows.

And now, some Namor action!

ffa1.jpgFantastic Four Annual #1
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby


In this issue, Namor finds his lost Atlantean people and his lost love, Dorma.  The Fantastic Four get into a random spat with each other that convinces them all that it's time for a major vacation.  The decide to take a cruise and mix some business with pleasure:  Reed's heard about the appearance of a sea monster and wants to investigate.  This leads to the FF getting captured by Namor and the Atlanteans.  After learning of the threat posed by the Atlanteans, Namor sends the FF back to warn everyone.  Reed meets with the UN where Namor, in disguise, explains the Atlanteans and his own origin and also gauges that the surface world will never trust him.  He declares war on the surface and it takes no time at all for the Atlanteans to attack New York in force and occupy it.  Reed uses science in a counter attack that evaporates the Atlanteans water tanks.  Frustrated that his plans have been thwarted, Namor flies off to attack the Fantastic Four and ends up kidnapping Sue.  The FF rush off to the rescue while Dorma realizes that Namor's heart isn't completely hers.  The rest of the Four arrive and get into yet another fight with Namor where Namor has the clear advantage.  Dorma gets jealous of Sue and decides to drown the human which leads Namor to the rescue.  While saving Sue's life, Namor loses his Atlanteans' trust and finds himself, once again, alone.

Yeah, it's a big story.  At the time, it was the longest single story told by Stan and Jack and that fact is emblazoned on the first page.  So, let's get this thing started!

After long searching, Namor has found his lost Atlantean people!  This is a day for great rejoicing.  During the celebration, we meet to very important Atlanteans: Dorma and Krang.  Dorma is Namor's Atlantean love interest and is happy to have the Avenging Son back in her life.  Krang is the warlord of Atlantic and would be completely ecstatic about having his Prince back except for the fact that he was engaged to Dorma and loves her quite a bit.  He still seems loyal but his main interest is Dorma.  He's got some ambition, though, and he'll just wait for the right time to regain Dorma's affection and, possibly, the Atlantean crown.

Namor greets Dorma and we know that he loves the Atlantean girl back.  With his kingdom back, it's only a matter of time before the sparks fly between the water and the surface.

Speaking of the surface, it's about time we got to talking about our heroes: the Fantastic Four.  They're about to do what they did ALL THE TIME in early issues: fight for no real reason.  These guys couldn't have a civil conversation.  They were just like the internet.  Like most of their tantrums, this one started between Torch and Thing.  Johnny and Ben fight all over the Baxter Building before Reed finally traps Johnny in an asbestos net and, just a bit later, Ben in his flexible body.  The damage has already been done at this point.  Sue's wardrobe has been ruined! 

Everyone apologizes and Reed tells them that it's the stress of working all the time.  They need a vacation right quick.  Reed, who never stops working, decides that it would be cool to take a cruise where he could spend time investigating the existance of a massive sea creature that's been reported by a couple submarines.  Everyone agrees this is a great idea.  Ben's girlfriend, Alicia Masters, even decides to tag along.  That would make Johnny the odd man out.  It won't be the last time.

During the cruise, Johnny is the one that eventually sees a few sea monsters.  Looks like the pleasure part of this cruise ended pretty early.  Reed and crew leave the ship ina pre-prepared boat to get a closer look at the creatures.  That's not what happens.  While flying over the ocean, Johnny is attacked by a fish that shoots a bubble of gas at him that first makes him tired and then drags him into the sea.  Luckily, the gas bubble gives him breathable air below the ocean surface.  Reed stretches out to grab his junior partner but is quickly trapped himself by a see-through shell.  Yet another fishy attacks Thing and Sue aboard the boat and that's the full set.

The Fantastic Four are now prisoners of Namor the Sub-Mariner and his Atlanteans.  Namor addresses them and shows how easily he can send their cruise ship (with Alicia on board) back towards shore.  Namor had the FF brought to him so that they could deliver a message back to the United Nations.  That message is that Prince Namor claims the oceans as his sovereign territory and doesn't permit any ships or aircraft to cross over them.  It's a defiant gesture that is sure to lead to total war.

The FF are quickly sent back to the surface via sea/space pod.  This pod achieves orbital velocity which makes reentry not as fun as you'd like but it shows just how super advanced the Atlanteans are.  The pod deposits the Four right on top of the Baxter Building.  Namor's threat is serious business, so Reed schedules time in front of the United Nations.

When Reed tries to explain the threat posed by Namor and the Atlanteans, he is interupted by Communist Russia's delegate who doesn't believe in such fish tales.  It's ok, he's brought a scientific expect along to explain all about Atlanteans and how they are science fact: Dr G.W. Falton.  Falton explains that mammals, like the whale, returned to the ocean long ago.  It turns out that ancient cavemen did as well.  Below the ocean's surface, these underwater cavemen developed their own ways of life that somewhat mimicked what was going on on the surface at the time.  He bores us all with details of Homo Mermanus going through the various ages right up into present times.

Centering around Atlantis, the Atlanteans are much more advanced than surface dwellers.  It doesn't make sense but you don't get comic book threats by making sense! 

Falton moves on and retells the origin of Namor.  The Sub-Mariner is the product of both surface and ocean dweller.  His father was Captain Leonard McKenzie of the icebreaker "Oracle."  His mother was Princess Fen of Atlantis.  Fen was sent up top to spy on the Oracle and it's crew and , in the process, learned the language of the surface dwellers.  She and McKenzie fell in love and were married so that they could have a son that wasn't a bastard.  Soon after Namor was concieved, Fen's people attacked the Oracle to rescue their Princess.  Namor's birth produced the first known mutant ever... which means that a team up with Magneto against the X-Men is likely in his future.

Reed fills in the last blanks in the story, retelling how Namor has been an enemy of the surface ever since his home was accidentally H-Bombed by us (woops).  There's no Hallmark card that can possibly fix this problem and Reed urges the UN to prepare for a war against the Sub-Mariner and his people.  After hearing this, Dr. Falton reveals himself as Namor and declares war on the surface.  He escapes back to the ocean to direct the attack which happens almost immediately.

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There isn't even that much of a fight.  The Atlanteans conquer New York in hours with every manner of future vehicle you can imagine (I don't even know why they have flying craft and it's better you don't try to come up with an explanation-- I'd bet John Byrne already did that and you'd hurt his feelings if you made up your own).  

New York is home to LOTS of super heroes.  This is 1963 which means Spider-Man has been swinging around for a while.  The Avengers might not be together just yet, but the heroes that eventually join that team are all around.  Where are Iron Man, Thor, or Ant-Man?  Is everyone out of town?

Yes, they are.  It happens.  A lot.

That leaves this one up to the Fantastic Four.  Namor recognizes them as a threat and his army deals with them the same way any army would.  They encase the Baxter Building in liquid cement.  What?  It's a perfectly brilliant tactic.  OK, not that brilliant, actually.  Really, it's a wonder they took the rest of New York as quickly and effortlessly as they did.

Torch quickly breaks the cement covering the Baxter Building and then makes short work of the Atlantean Air Force swarming the FF headquarters.  Reed's out for prisoners right now, so he sends the Thing out to gather one up.  Ben finds a group of Atlanteans preparing to aim some sort of super gun at the Baxter Building and makes short work of the lot of them.  He gathers up all the unconscious Atlanteans and brings them into the Baxter Building as his prisoners.

These Atlanteans aren't going to reveal anything and water boarding would be useless on them.  All they'll give up is their name, rank, and serial number (which is Captain Crunch).  They don't need to say anything else.  Reed sees that they need water to breath and already has a plan to save the city and make Namor look like a chump.

Namor's rule over New York isn't terrible.  Oh, sure, it's occupied and he won't put up with resistance, breaking curfew, or looking at him funny but, besides the whole dictator thing, it's... well, it's not like he's putting us in camps.  Outside the city, there are soldiers wondering why we don't just nuke Namor.  This is because our military minds aren't stupid.  Nuking New York City is still a no-no.  

Don't worry, free world.  You have Reed Richards to save you.  Reed is putting his plans into motion.  This means developing a crazy device that will have a crazy purpose but will totally make Namor look like a heel.  Richards overworks himself building the device and so operating the machine is left to Sue.

Namor, his Warlord, Krang, and his conquering army are conducting a parade.  Just as the people of New York start thinking that having a prince couldn't be the worst possible future, Sue activates Reed's device.  Namor's army requires a steady supply of water tanks to do battle on the surface.  Reed's device evaporates that water but, lucky for us, doesn't evaporate ALL water or we'd all be dead.  Namor's army is forced to quickly return to the sea or die of suffocation.

It's a win for Reed and the surface.  Go surface!

Now, Namor isn't as happy about all of this.  He rushes to the Baxter Building to take some revenge on the Fantastic Four.  He finds that Reed is still worn out after spending all that effort building his crazy invention.  While Namor bounces Reed around the room, the rest of the Fantastic Four gather around to save their leader and to get some lumps on the Avenging Son.

During the course of the battle, Sue does what she did best back in the day.  She gets herself captured.  Namor rushes off with his prize while the rest of the Four vow to rescue their lost member.

Namor takes his prisoner straight away to his Imperial Craft where he is joined by many Atlanteans.  Dorma and Krang are among them.  The Sub-Mariner tells everyone that one battle doesn't win a war and that things aren't done just yet.  You might wonder why everyone, Atlantean and human, are able to breath on this craft.  It's because the air is moist enough for the Atlanteans while still having enough oxygen in it for Sue to breath.  It's science magic, I tells ya!

Of course, the rest of the Fantastic Four are on their way to intercept this ship with all due speed.  As soon as they're within range, Namor leaves the craft to battle them.  Sue tries to stop him but... well, what the hell, Sue?  This dude just conquered New York City and you still have feelings for him?  You are one messed up chick.

Ben, Johnny and Reed are facing Namor in HIS element now.  Not only does Namor have sea creatures for any occasion, he's also much stronger in water than anywhere else.  Because of this, he's got the advantage almost constantly.  If only Reed were able to invent something for this occasion but one super science device is all he had in him this issue.

Aboard the Imperial Craft, Sue tries begging with Krang to stop this fight.  She cares about both her teammates AND Namor.  Krang knows why.  This female loves the Prince and it's pretty easy to figure out that Namor loves her as well.  This is a bonus for Krang.  If Namor is interested in this girl, then Dorma might settle for him.  

Dorma, on the other hand, isn't in a settling mood.  She's more in a jealous rage.  She decides that drowning Namor's love is the best idea and smashes one of the windows to let the sea come rolling in.  Krang orders his men to repair the window but there's no time.  Once the water has fully entered the craft, Sue swims out the window in a desperate bid to reach the surface.  It's just too bad that her hands are tied up.
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Namor makes a passing glance at his Imperial Craft and sees Sue's peril.  All thought of battle is gone and there is only rescuing the Invisible Girl.  He brings her to the surface but that's not the end to Sue's troubles.  She needs a hospital, like, yesterday.  With the Fantastic Four's craft smashed up during the battle, they don't have anything that'll get their fast enough.

But Namor does.

The Sub-Mariner swims down to his Imperial Craft and empties it of Atlanteans.  Luckily, they repaired the window and flushed out all that excess water.  Dorma is still having a fit of jealousy.  Krang attends his duty and wishes to know why saving the life of an enemy is more important than his duty to his Atlantean subjest.  This is pretty close to full on betrayal, after all.  Namor isn't in the mood and doesn't have time to debate Imperial policy.  He clears the ship and uses it to speed Sue back to the surface and to a hospital.

Of course, he's not carrying the rest of the Fantastic Four with him.  Reed gets to repairing their broken craft and the rest of the team reaches the shore a couple hours later.  They reach the hospital to find that Sue is in stable condition.  But it was CLOSE.

Namor didn't stick around.  He left the hospital and is now walking the city in daze.  He controlled this city hours earlier.  The mob on the street is about to repay him for that when Namor decides to show them that it's not likely.  He brushes them aside pretty damn easily and then returns to the ocean.  He pilots his Imperial Craft to the city that had so recently been filled with his lost people.  It turns out that his betrayal caused his people to abandon him once again.  Namor swims through the ghost city, brooding and alone.

Holy damn, that was a lot of comics!  Let's see if I can get the next one up by Saturday.

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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