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Super Reads Dark Reign 67

badguy67.jpgOne comic and a whole lot of past!

Today, we check out The Invincible Iron Man #17 and Blast to the Past with The Avengers #'s 116-118 and The Defenders #'s 9 & 10.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

This would be a quick week but that's not how I roll.  I decided that you'll not only get this week's Iron Man but the entirety of the Avengers/ Defenders War!

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

First, Iron Man!

iim17.jpgThe Invincible Iron Man #17
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca


Last issue, Tony declared that he loved Madam Masque while Pepper vomited in the background.  Pepper started up her Rescue armor while Whitney Frost dreamed of a future for her and Stark.  Black Widow and Maria Hill talked about how crazy Hill is right now.  Norman worked on his Iron Patriot armor and wondered how Madam Masque was doing in Russia.  Whitney put her mask on Tony because they're SOoooo alike.  Pepper used her armor to free her but Madam Masque saw it through the reflection off her mask and it was big old fight time.  Hill flashed back to her recent encounter with the Controller and spazzed out.  It was a battle between Pepper Potts and Madam Masque while Tony suited up in the classic armor and flew off.  Natasha visited a tech dude to figure out how to open up that hard drive Maria Hill brought and that tech dude sold her out as soon as she left.  Finally, Tony Stark headed to... Afghanistan.  Looks like he was heading right back to the beginning.

In this issue, Madame Masque pulls the Rescue armor out of the burning wreck of Stark's Russian lab.  Finding her communicator, she calls Norman Osborn and reports what has occurred.  Tony Stark is still making his way to his final destination in Afghanistan.  Maria Hill is still acting all crazy at Natasha Romanova's place.  Osborn secures the rights to pick up Madame Masque in Russia and calls Colonel Bukharin to gloat.  HAMMER Agent Walsh gets info from Maria Hill's old SHIELD email account, reports it to Ms. Hand and then feels bad for having helped them take down Tony Stark.  Iron Man is shot down in Afghanistan and has to make it to his last repulsor lab on foot.  Maria Hill and the Black Widow get captured by HAMMER Agents before meeting with Captain America.  Masque reports to Norman Osborn and nearly gets strangled to death before Ms. Hand interrupts the HAMMER Director with the news that they just caught Hill.  Finally, HAMMER Agents put the Rescue armor into the Iron Patriot armory but it doesn't look like the suit is empty.

After Pepper and Madame Masque's battle last issue, Stark's Russian Repulsor Lab was left a smoldering crater.  This issue, we find that Masque has survived.  She pulls the Armor suit out of the flames then turns around to find her communicator piece laying in the snow.  She uses it to make contact with Norman Osborn back at Avengers Tower.

Norman isn't pleased to learn that Stark is still alive but he's slightly placated to learn that Madame Masque was able to kill Pepper Potts.  Just a little, however.  Pepper wasn't exactly the target, after all.  Masque mentions that she was able to recover the Rescue armor.  That's a bigger find for someone wearing a retrofitted Iron Man armor.

Tony Stark might have flown away from his Russian lab but he didn't stay airborn for the entire trip.  He's landed in Kazakhstan and is now hitchiking his way into a town for reasons that will reveal themselves in the very next paragraph.
In his current state of mind, he's about to make a nearly fatal blunder.  He's sending email from an internet cafe.  Not remembering how the email trick that he set up with his close friends and allies when he was Director of SHIELD works, he decides to send a message directly to Maria Hill's SHIELD email account FROM the secret email account.  He writes that he's making his way through Kazakhstan on his way to Afghanistan.  He relates the event of last issue where he left Pepper to fight Madame Masque and he doesn't feel good about leaving others to fight his battles... especially Pepper.  He doesn't remember what he was having Maria Hill do for him but he wishes her well.  With that, he drops a huge wad of American twenties and hits the road once more.

Tony makes his way back to his hidden armor and then flies off to complete his trip.  The trip is pretty much automated so he hits up the audio tracks to relearn all he's forgotten about the magical world of Electrical Engineering!  Sounds like an exciting trip.

In New York City, Maria Hill is waking up for a restful night's sleep to the sounds of her blackberry buzzing.  She turns it off and detects motion in the next room.  Maria grabs a knife and enters, seeing a red head at a computer.  Before she's able to do something she'll regret, the red head smashes her elbow into Hill's neck, spins the former Deputy Director of SHIELD around and puts Maria in a choke hold while also disarming her.  Oh, yeah.  Maria's at Natasha Romanova's apartment.  She's also suffering from being the Controller's prisoner and hasn't quite regained her sanity just yet.

Maria gets a scolding and tries to apologize while trying to regain her breath.  This doesn't hold well for tonight's meeting with Captain America.  Black Widow tells Maria to get herself together.  Tonight is important and any screw up will mean HAMMER closing in on them.

Unfortunately, 'Tasha already clued HAMMER in herself last issue.

On HAMMER's beast of a Helicarrier, Norman has called up Colonel Bukharin again.  This time, he's not asking for permission to act within Russia's borders.  He's already brought his Helicarrier in and is willing to give up intel on a terrorist cell ready to purchase fissionable material from an ex-Soviet.  Bukharin has little choice in the matter as stopping A-Bomb trumps helping an old friend. 

Norman hangs up and gives Ms. Hand directions to make up some terrorists for Bukharin to take care of. 
On Bukharin's end, he takes a drink (he's Russian, after all) and toasts to Tony.  He hopes his American friend keeps going and stays out of Osborn's clutches.

It's a short trip for HAMMER's Helicarrier.  They drop some troops on the ground, pick up Masque and her prize, and get back in the air.

We're about to meet a new HAMMER Agent.  His name is Walsh and he works in the Helicarrier in the Data Mining Division.  He's been keeping track of emails being sent to Maria Hill's SHIELD email account and has just gotten the motherload.  Stark's email is specific enough where they will be able to track his with much more ease.  He reports it to his superior who doesn't seem to see the significance.  Walsh is sent to Ms. Hand and, while doing so, looks back on the SHIELD days with a great deal of nostalgia.

Walsh reports in to Hand, telling him that he believes Stark tried to send an email to Maria Hill.  Hand checks the email out and dismisses Walsh.  The HAMMER Agent leaves looking like he just lost his best friend.   A passing HAMMER Agent asks him why he's got the long face and Walsh tells him that he believes he just ratted out Tony Stark.

The Iron Man armor has entered Afghanistan air space.  Tony doesn't realize that just yet since he's fallen asleep listening to The Introduction to Electrical Engineering.  Thank goodness for auto-pilot.  Unfortunately, auto-pilot isn't able to take evasive manuevers when someone on the ground notices the armor streaking across the sky and decides to shoot a rocket at it.  It does flash warnings all over Tony's screen but Stark doesn't wake up

The shock of being hit by the rocket snaps Tony out of his snooze but nothing he does saves him from crashing.  Once on the ground, he orders an emergency evacuation from his now useless armor.  He's so close and now he's gotta walk the rest of the way.

In New York City, Maria and Natasha are getting ready to meet with Captain America.  This is dodgy territory because, if anything smells wrong, Cap will just disappear.  The same goes for these two.  Black Widow makes sure Hill is as right as she can be before making her way down to sweep the location.  Maria does the same and quickly spots the HAMMER surveillance truck.  She freaks a bit and this is caught by the HAMMER Agents inside.  Looks like they're made and they make their move to capture Hill and Romanova.  Too bad they weren't able to get Cap but two super spies down is still a good day's work.  Cap actually shows up to see how bad this all went down but disappears before he's captured himself.

Steve probably would have attempted a rescue... or not.  There are an awful lot of weapons being aimed at the two and it only takes one to kill them before a proper rescue could free them.

Back aboard the Helicarrier, Madame Masque is relating the last issue to Norman.
invincibleironman17.jpg

She omits some parts that make her look bad like the fact that she freaked out and went all crazy love on Tony.  In the end, she mentions that killing Potts and recovering the armor was all well and good but she still failed her primary mission of capturing Tony.  While Masque is talking, Norman is slowly inching up on her and making moves to strangle the lady.

It's never gonna happen, of course.  Victoria Hand interrupts him before he's able to do anything to Masque.  She's got good news:  they've captured Maria Hill.

Elsewhere on the carrier, a group of HAMMER Maintenance workers are loading the Rescue armor into Osborn's onboard armory.  The thing is heavier than it looks.  Maybe... just maybe... there's a person inside.

a116.jpgThe Avengers #116
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Bob Brown


In this story, the Avengers try to score a meeting with Dr. Strange to discuss the fate of the Black Knight but are turned back by Wong and by magic.  Loki gets the feeling that Dormammu won't honor his agreement to return his sight.  The Defenders get the history of the Evil Eye before rushing off to gather up it's six pieces.  Loki sends a warning to his step-brother, Thor, to stop the assembling of the Evil Eye but setting the Defenders up as the villains instead of 'fessing up to his part in the whole affair.  For some reason, the Avengers fall for this and split up to stop the Defenders.  The Silver Surfer flies to Ruruto and eventually figures out that the piece of the Evil Eye is located in the active volcano.  While digging for it, he accidentally triggers an eruption that destroys the Quinjet holding the Scarlet Witch.  Vision easily rescues his love but the incident takes away any doubt in his mind that the Silver Surfer is evil.  The two fight it out but, in the end, Vision chooses to rescue Wanda again while Surfer flies off with his piece of the Eye.

So there are a lot of facepalm moments here.  Prepare yourself!

Last issue, The Avengers journeyed to jolly olde Englande to find out the fate of their wayward member, the Black Knight.  What they learned is that Dr. Strange had put a barrier around Garrett Castle and then made off with the statue form of Dane Whitman.  The Avengers decided to return to the states and discuss the matter with Dr. Strange.  The problem?  Dr. Strange is deep in a meeting with the Defenders making plans to release the Black Knight from his stony prison and isn't in the mood for guests.  The Avengers' first attempt at even knocking on the door of the Sanctum Sanctorum is met by a spell tossing the team far away from the door.  Strange seriously hates uninvited guests.

Their second attempt is slightly more successful.  They actually make it to the door and are able to knock this time.  Strange's servant, Wong, answers and informs them that the Doctor isn't recieving visitors at this time and quickly closes to door.

So, we're onto the third attempt which is all out violence.  Thor smashes down the door.  Mantis easily deals with Wong's martial talents.  The team isn't able to make it to the inner chamber, however, because another enchantment throws them back outside the building.  Before they go, Cap and Wanda get a good look at the stone form of the Black Knight so the Avengers DO know that their ally is inside and a rock.

So, three strikes and Dr. Strange is now officially the bad guy.  That's what happens when you piss off the Avengers.  They don't have anyone who can attempt to cast counterspells at Strange's level but they'll work on that... and return.

In the Dark Dimension, Dormammu is nothing if not happy with how his latest scheme is turning out.  In the last issue of the Defenders (which I excluded because all pertinent information will be discussed in the paragraph), Dr. Strange contacted the Black Knight's soul to see how it was doing with it's body turned to stone.  While the Black Knight sent back a message telling how his current predicament was lonely but that, now, he had some hope, Dormammu was able to alter the return message with the help of Loki so that it included mention that a device called the Evil Eye would be able to free the Black Knight from his rocky tomb.

Loki is more concerned about Dormammu restoring his sight but Dormy isn't willing to do that until the Defenders gather the pieces of the Evil Eye.  Loki is beginning to think he might not have chosen a good ally.

Inside Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, the good Doctor is working another spell to tell everyone present all about the Evil Eye.  As such, we get a history lesson from Fantastic Four #54.  The Evil Eye was wielded by Prestor John of Avalon who was awoken by Johnny Storm and Wyatt Wingfoot.  Johnny stole the device because he believed it would be used to destroy the Great Refuge where his then-girlfriend, Crystal, was being kept.  The Evil Eye was reaching a critical mass and Wyatt was forced to shoot it out of the Human Torch's hands before it exploded.  Once is detonated, it split into six pieces and spread to various locations across the earth.  Osaka, Japan.  Rurutu, French Polynesia.  Fort Wayne, United States.  Los Angeles, United States.  Montery, Mexico.  Sucre, Bolivia.

Six locations for six Defenders.  It looks like everyone is about to take a road trip.  Oh, if you're curious, Hawkeye happens to be one of those Defenders.  He recently got teed off by his teammates on the Avengers and went off to fight evil solo.  Clint's never really been the solo kind of guy (even though he puts off the solo vibe) and got tangled up in the Defenders soon after leaving the Avengers.  He's here to help the Black Knight because Dane was always square with him. 

Most of the other Defenders don't even know why they're here.  We're talking about a team that is actually made up of loners: Dr. Strange, Namor, Silver Surfer, and the Hulk.  They're less a fully defined team and more of a group that gets together when the mission suits their purposes and goals.  This is one of those times.  The final member, Valkyrie, will prove a long term Defender and a pretty good team player.  You need one or two of them around, after all, so she and Clint will do.

While the Defenders split up to go after the various pieced of the Evil Eye, Loki is deciding to betray his ally, Dormammu.  The trickster god has realized that Dormammu will never stop with just conquering Earth.  He'll also destroy Asgard and, even though Loki has no great love for his fellow Asgardians, only he should be given the opportunity to conquer that land.  Even more, Dormammu will never restore his sight so this alliance is useless to him.

He decides he'll need his own champions to take on the Defenders and prevent them from assembling the Evil Eye.  Naturally, he chooses the Avengers.  He WAS responsible for their original formation, after all, and Thor being a current member is even more reason to choose them.  He sends his astral form to the Mansion and has Captain America summon Thor so that he can tell the thunder god all that has transpired.

And, by all, I mean lie about most of it.  This is Loki.  It's what he does.  Loki tells them an altered version of the tale where the Defenders are out to seek they Evil Eye in order to conquer to world for themselves.  Adding credence to this is the fact that the Avengers are made up of sometime villains like Namor, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, and Valkyrie (an earlier Valkyrie fought the Avengers and this one looks a LOT like that one).  The Avengers' recent dealings with Dr. Strange place the wizard in the bad guy column and the way they ended things with Clint Barton lends just a little credence to Hawkeye joining a group of bad guys (the fact that he was originally a bad guy by mistake helps that along).

Now, no one should ever believe anything Loki says even if the evidence lines up in his favor.  He's a master at using the truth in a manipulative manner and using people's misperceptions against them.  This is well known to the Avengers but, despite that fact, they decide to take Loki at his word and head out to stop the Defenders.  Now, sure, stopping the Defenders is a good idea but they're still being tricked by the trickster god.  It just ain't right.  They split up to cover each location.

So let's just get to the first location so we can have Defenders fight Avengers.  The Silver Surfer has already arrived at Ruruto and made several passes over the island, searching for his piece of the Evil Eye.  It takes him far too long to fly down and talk to the natives to find out if they have any information that could lead him in the right direction.  The natives are more interested in worshipping the silver dude than imparting knowledge and the Surfer spends time trying to dissuade this notion before they give Captain Obvious the clue he needs: they call him a volcano god.

Of course!  That smoking volcano he's probably passed over numerous times in his thorough search of the island!  It's probably in there!  Norrin flies up to the top of the volcano with his new worshippers following at their own pace.
avengers116.jpg

While the Silver Surfer begins to search the volcano, the two Avengers assigned to Ruruto arrive in a Quinjet.  It's Scarlet Witch and the Vision.  Vizh isn't convinced that the Defenders are actually evil considering they were given all this information by Loki.  He decides to fly in and talk it out with the Surfer instead of just fighting.  That's the sweet logic that I'd expect from the Vision.

Unfortunately, in the Surfer's attempt to find the Evil Eye, he's accidentally triggered the volcano to erupt.  The explosion shoots magma into the air and some of that hits the Quinjet.  Wanda somehow survived the explosion of her craft but is now dropping from the sky unconscious.  Vision reverses course and rescues her from the fall but then his logical mind twists to a much more emotional state.

Vision is in love with the Scarlet Witch.  Her being put in danger makes him immediately suspect that the Surfer triggered the eruption on purpose so that he could kill Wanda and, possibly, the Vision.  It's not the most logical thought he ever had but, well, he's a lovesick synthezoid.

The Vision engages with the Surfer and there is now no sign that he ever wanted to reason with the alien.  Even though Norrin is imbued with the Power Cosmic, somehow the Vision is able to hold his own.  It could be the love madness.

Down at the base of the volcano, the natives have discovered the unconscious body of the Scarlet Witch and decide that she'd make a perfect sacrifice to appease their new volcano god.  They set her up in the path of the approaching lava and hope that her death will please the Surfer and save their village from destruction.

Meanwhile, up top, the battle has uncovered the piece of the Evil Eye.  Both heroes struggle for it before being launched out of the volcano by another explosion.  Now that the two are in the air, Vision sees that Wanda is in the path of the lava and forgets all about the Eye.  With that, the Surfer is able to retrieve the piece of the Evil Eye and fly back to the Sanctum Sanctorum.  He's got one hell of a story to share with Dr. Strange.

Vision gets to Wanda in time to save her life (again) and then flies over to the wreckage of the Quinjet to see if the radio is still functional.  He's got to get word out to his fellow Avengers.

d9.jpgThe Defenders #9
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Sal Buscema


In this issue, Silver Surfer returns to the Sanctum Sanctorum to tell Dr. Strange about the attack by the Avengers.  Dr. Strange checks out the story and then flies off to get his piece of the Evil Eye while sending out a message to the rest of the Defenders to beware attack by Avengers.  The Vision sends out a call to the Avengers telling them about his encounter with the Surfer.  Over in Mexico, the Valkyrie drops off Hawkeye and then heads off to her own site.  Iron Man also arrives at Mexico and makes his way to the university while Hawkeye gets a good look at him flying in.  Iron Man finds the Evil Eye at the University.  Hawkeye steals it with a grabber arrow.  After a short battle, Hawkeye escapes with the Evil Eye piece while Iron Man rescues some civilians put in harms way by their fight.  Dr. Strange arrives in Indiana after the Black Panther and Mantis have arrived.  He is still able to locate the piece of the Eye before the Avengers but is unable to escape without a confrontation.  The three fight their way onto a local's property and are nearly hit by that local's shotgun blast.  Mantis takes out the local, Dr. Strange casts a spell on the Avengers, and he escapes with the Evil Eye.

Silver Surfer flies into the Sanctum Sanctorum without waiting for Dr. Strange to turn off his mystical defenses.  This freaks the Doc out until he learns who it is.  Apparently, holding a portion of the Evil Eye is enough to break through magic defenses.

Norrin tells Strange that the Avengers are out to stop the Defenders from assembling the Evil Eye.  The Sorceror Supreme is unable to believe that such heroes would place themselves in between the Defenders and saving Black Knight and he uses the Orb of Agamotto to see the truth.  The Orb shows Strange that Loki is lurking through Avengers Mansion and that the Avengers have recently put the criminal, Swordsman, in their roster.  It's enough for Dr. Strange to at least concede that the Avengers are under the power of Loki and admitting people they shouldn't.  He doesn't go much deeper than that because he's on a team with Namor and Hulk.

Surfer intended to retrieve another piece after giving Strange this warning, hoping that the Sorceror Supreme would send it out mystically to the other Defenders.  Stephen intends to send it out to everyone else but tells the Surfer to remain at the Sanctorum so that Strange can leave to get the piece left in Indiana. 

Meanwhile, Vision is sending out a warning on a hastily repaired Quinjet communicator, informing the remaining Avengers that their suspicions of Defender treachery is confirmed... at least to Vision's satisfaction.  The message conveyed, he and Wanda leave the burning wreckage of the Quinjet musing about how similar the Defenders are to the Avengers and how, in other circumstances, they would have made excellent allies.

Valkyrie is about to setdown her flying horse, Aragorn, and her passenger, Hawkeye, at Montery, Mexico.  She's still got to fly off to Bolivia to gather up her own portion of the Evil Eye but, since Hawkeye doesn't fly and has no ride of his own, she gave him a lift.  Upon landing, the sight of the flying horse and the two colorful heroes is enough to spook the locals.
Yep.  I had to resort to the Essentials version for this one.

No sooner do they land than they get a mystical warning from Dr. Strange, warning them about the threat of the Avengers.  You'd think this might cause the two Defenders concern but these two are actually looking forward to the fight.  Before they say good-bye, Hawkeye gives Valkyrie a big kiss only to, soon later, be dodging her Ebony Blade.  Oh, sure, she might be protesting the inappropriate display of affection rather violently but that smile (and the fact that we can read her thought bubbles) betrays the fact that she kinda liked it.  As Valkyrie flies off, Clint thinks about all his failed attempts at relationships and how he should probably get used to being a perpetual bachelor but gives up that thought when he thinks of all the women he hasn't made out with.  It's a mission he'll dedicate the rest of his Marvel career to.

He's also wondering what Avenger he'll be facing but a quick look at the sky solves that question: Iron Man.

Which is only too appropriate.  The two Avengers have a long history together that began when Hawkeye first appeared in Iron Man's comic as a misunderstood villain who was later lovesick over the Soviet spy, Black Widow.  Sure, he betrayed our country to the Communists but he did it for LOVE.  Or LUST.  Probably more lust.  That Hawkeye's a whore.

Iron Man doesn't have the help of any mystic Sorceror Supreme so Tony has to rely on his brain to figure out where the Evil Eye might have ended up.  Fortunately, that mind is more logical than that of the Silver Surfer.  He concludes that the Evil Eye, which would have turned up in the area recently, might have been collected and placed at the local university and makes his way on campus to check that theory.  He locates the device with Professor Martin Figueras who has been studying the Eye since it appeared near the mountains a few years earlier.

Stark examines the piece of the Eye and sees that it fits inside another piece while leaving space for yet a further piece to fit inside it.  No more examination will be possible, though, because Hawkeye has followed Shellhead and uses a grabber arrow to snatch the piece right out of Iron Man's hands.

The battle that follows should be one of the shortest battles in this crossover.  Iron Man outclasses the bow slinger in all but raw cool factor which, actually, is enough to make this battle last, isn't it?  At least the two are able to get some of their feelings toward the other off their chest.  Iron Man was Hawkeye's original sponsor for membership in the Avengers and, right now, Stark is seriously regretting that. 

Hawkeye's quiver of trick arrows DOES prolong the fight and, I'll admit, Tony's not wearing the high tech suits he wears today (or did until recently).  Hawkeye might be outclassed NOW but, back in the day, the fight was slightly more even.  In the end, Clint has to use a little dirty fighting to escape with the Evil Eye fragment.  He fires a magnetized arrow that attracts one of Tony's firing repulsor gauntlets.  His repulsor stike goes wild and hits a nearby building.  While Iron Man flies in to rescue innocent people, Hawkeye grabs the Evil Eye piece and races off into the woods.  How does Barton get back to the Sanctum Sanctorum? 

Maybe he waits for Val to pick him up on her way back home. 

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, Dr. Strange is flying over a field of corn.  He's already using his magic to locate the piece of the Eye.  This means that, even though Mantis and Black Panther of the Avengers have been in the area for quite some time, the Defender has the edge.  His spell lights up the area containing the Evil Eye fragment but the Avengers see the results as well.  With his ability to fly, Stephen Strange is able to close the gap with greater speed and so grabs the prize with time to spare.  Grounded, Strange makes his way to the road on foot.

The Avengers are able to track the sorceror by following the bent stalks of corn Strange left in his wake.  Approaching the road, they see a group of people waiting for a bus to pick them up but no Dr. Strange.  The locals are freaked out to see a black man hanging out in their fields of corn but Mantis is able to calm them down by telling the group that he is an Avenger.  There's no trail leading away from these people and Black Panther is at a loss to explain what happened to the Sorceror Supreme.

Mantis is at less of a loss.  She uses whatever powers she has to sense the vibrations of Dr. Strange.  As the bus pulls up to take the travelers away, Mantis locates Dr. Strange behind his cloaking spell (he was pretending to be an old lady) and kicks Stephen under the bus.  This panics the crowd once again (including Black Panther whose senses aren't that attuned) but Strange's counterattack and escape from under the bus leave no room for doubt.

Again, the Defender takes to the sky which begs the question: why didn't he do that in the first place?  Well, let me tell ya.  Dr. Strange can fly, yes, but so can the Avengers, and much faster, with their Quinjet.  Becoming invisible is out because he'd have to split his concentration between that spell and flying.  Unless Stephen can put these Avengers down or at least stall them, he won't be able to make good on a getaway.  To drive that point home, Black Panther runs up on a tractor, leaps off it, bounds up a grain silo, and leaps from it's roof, catching the good doctor in the air.

Panther keeps the Sorceror Supreme from casting spells by grasping his hands and putting a boot in the doctor's mouth.  Even so, Strange is able to fire off a blast from the Eye of Agamotto.  That gets the Avenger to let the Defender go but also means that T'challa is dropping back to earth.  Stephen Strange isn't here to kill Avengers and so he flies down to grab his foe before the Panther crashes into the ground.  While T'challa is probably grateful for the rescue, he still capitalizes on his position and delivers a kick to Strange's head.

While the battle continues on the ground, the two heroes have attracted the attention of the owner of this here property who doesn't take kindly to strangers.  Instead of shouting at them to leave the premises (which they probably wouldn't do anyway) he decides that it's his land and he's got to defend it from the wierdos and freaks of the world via shotgun.  He's placed signs and that means it's ok to shoot people.

So, yeah, he fires.  Luckily, Steve Englehart has a little Mary Sue with whatever powers he wants to give her.  In the next few panels, we learn that Mantis also has... super speed?  She clears the distance between her and the fighting heroes and knocks them out of harm's way.  Strange and Black Panther are stunned by Mantis' sudden arrival and her even more sudden tackle.  That leaves it up to Mantis to, again, rush across the lawn and smack the shotgun out of the property owner's hands.

Folks.  Next time some super heroes are having a little fight in your front yard, don't try shooting them with a shotgun.  Just call the authorities and then find some cover.  Most battles don't end this cleanly and, if they catch you firing at them, today's modern heroes are gonna do more to you than just smack your gun out of your hand.

Now, even after seeing that Mantis can pretty much do whatever she wants, Dr. Strange decides his best course of action is to engage her in a kung-fu fight.  He's on the ropes in two panels and, with Black Panther moving to enter the fight, Strange realizes that making this a physical fight was the wrong way to go.  He instead casts a spell on the two that stuns them long enough for him to fly off with his bit of the Evil Eye.  I mean, seriously.  It took him that long to just cast a stunning spell.  He actually figured a ninja fight was the way to go before resorting to magic.

But, y'know.  We had to fill up some panels.

Maybe Strange just wanted the exercise.

Regardless, The Defenders now have three pieces of the Evil Eye to the Avengers' zero.  Someone's starting to look bad.

a117.jpgThe Avengers #117
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Bob Brown


In this issue, Dormammu learns that the Avengers are trying to prevent the Defenders from assembling the Evil Eye and isn't pleased one bit about that.  The Swordsman travels to a Nazi castle in Bolivia and gets attacked by the Valkyrie before landing.  Afterward, he's able to gain entry to the Nazi castle where and re-engages in combat with the Valkyrie inside.  Swordman gains the upperhand before being shot in the back by the owner of the castle.  Valkyrie makes sure the Swordsman gets treatment from the authorities before running off with her piece of the Eye.  In Osaka, Japan, we get right to the battle between Cap and Namor over the Evil Eye fragment.  During the scuffle, the Eye piece is recovered by Sunfire who just wants the two foreigners out of his country.  After a small fight between the three, Cap ends up with the piece of the Eye and willingly turns it over to Namor, believing that his former ally is not the true enemy.

Dormy is looking on how the pieces of the eye are assembling and learns that his Defenders are not going unopposed.  The Avengers seem to be countering the Defenders and Dormammu would love to find out why.  He questions his ally, Loki, about this but Loki isn't giving up his part in upsetting Dormammu's carefully laid plans.  After all, Loki is blind and falls back on this as an excuse for not interfering in Dormy's plans.  He tries to get Dormammu to help him regain his sight yet again but Dormammu isn't willing to do so. 

Loki is probably thinking his betraying Dormammu was a good idea.

Over in Bolivia, the Swordsman is flying a Quinjet (with yet another design that makes it look more like the modern version) down to what he theorizes is a Nazi-built German Castle.  Swordsman has usually been a villain fighting against the team up until he and Mantis joined the team to try and make up for past actions.  As he's flying in close to the Nazi castle, he begins thinking about his past and all the regrettable decisions he's made.  Now that he's an Avenger, it's time to try and redeem himself.

Before Swordsman is allowed to land properly, Valkyrie, mounted on her flying horse, fly in close and strike the Quinjet with the Ebony Blade.  Val is certain that the piloting Avenger will be able to make a safe, if difficult, landing and flies off to complete her mission.  Swordsman is able to make good on Valkyrie's expectations and, after a successful landing, makes his way towards the Nazi castle on foot.

The good thing about being an Avenger is that everyone automatically trusts you.  This is Swordsman.  Up until five minutes ago, he was a villain with history in these parts.  Now, he's able to walk up to any old Nazi castle and be allowed access.  Once inside, the current owner explains that Swordsman's theories on the castle were spot on: it WAS built by an escaping Nazi in 1946 who must have really wanted a taste of the old country during his South American exile.  Once that Nazi was captured, the place was put on the market and picked up by it's current owner, an American.  He seems to like the fact that it's out of the way and lonely.

Swordsman questions the castle owner on the possibility of accepting other visitors before his arrival but the American claims no one has been admitted.  While believing the American, Swordsman hears noise from upstairs.  Believing Valkyrie has broken in, he rushes up to see who's intruding.  What he finds is a whole lot of treasure and a Defender rummaging through everything to find the Evil Eye.

Since both our heroes have swords, it's time for some swashbuckling action in the Merry Marvel Manner.  When the Swordsman hears that Valkyrie is fighting with Black Knight's sword, he's that much more angered.  The Avengers are operating under the assumption that the Black Knight has been captured and turned to stone by the Defenders.  Using the former Avenger's weapon is just another insult.
avengers117.jpg

The battle clearly places the Swordsman in the lead when it comes to skill but Valkyrie has all that Norse god strength to fall back on. 

During the fight, Val notices the American castle owner trying to lock a huge door.  Believing that her objective lies behind the door, she rushes the Swordsman with all her might and causes the Avenger to drop to the ground momentarily.  The Defender then drops the battle and runs through the huge door before the American can get it properly locked, finding her prize within.  The Swordsman recovers more quickly than Val thought and pushes his way past the other two to claim the Evil Eye fragment.

It's while trying to make a quick escape that the Swordsman makes a terrible mistake.  He turns his back on the American and ends up shot in the back.  The American was never intending for the Swordsman to leave this Nazi castle alive anyway.  All he was concerned about was keeping his treasure all to himself.

Now, that's all well and good.  You don't want people stealing your treasure, after all.  Even more, Swordsman was running off with a little bit of it so shooting him isn't out of the question.  Admitting to the falling hero that you let him into your house in order to kill him?  Too far.  Swordsman makes sure he isn't the only one falling today and runs the American through with his blade.

Valkyrie examines her foe and finds that, while the Swordsman is seriously injured, the soul still burns.  With proper medical attention, the Swordsman will be back up and running in no time.  Swordsman passes out but even unconscious tries to keep the Evil Eye out of Defender hands.  Val still has trouble prying it out of his fingers.

All of this commotion coupled with the appearance of a flying horse and a mysterious jet causes the Bolivian authorities to rush out to investigate.  They don't even wait for the American to welcome them inside and instead break in.  While Val hides above, the policemen find the body of the American and the injured Swordsman.  She waits until she's certain that the Avenger will get the care he needs and then mounts her flying horse, Aragorn, to begin her flight back to the states.

She might make a quick trip to Mexico to pick up Hawkeye but we'll never know for certain.

In Osaka, Japan, Captain America is finding that the Japanese people aren't that friendly to people dressed up in the American flag.  Sure, you nuke two cities and they never forgive you.  Cap tries to assure them that he isn't here as a representative of the American Government but is instead here on Avengers business trying to prevent a catastrophe.  His words are openly mocked from above.

It seems Namor has already found his fragment of the Evil Eye and has stuck around simply to laugh at his former comrade in arms.  Well, that and he's spoiling for a fight.

Steve accepts and the fight is on.  Cap has a small amount of super-strength at this time so it's not simply peak human strength versus omega level strength.  It's not exactly even, either.  Still, Captain America isn't just about his strength.  He's about tactics and battle-won skill.  Even so, Namor wins the initial confrontation and decides to make his leave, deciding that allying himself with the surface world, even his fellow Defenders, is foolish. 

Cap recovers his bearings and runs after a distracted Namor.  Before the Sub-Mariner is able to dive into the water, Cap throws his mighty shield for the block.  Namor lands right on top of it with all the grace and skill of a goldfish.  The battle plays out in water now, which puts round two in Namor's pocket.

Or... WOULD if not for the intervention of Mutant Nationalist, Sunfire.  He snatches up the Evil Eye and then gives everyone a lecture on interfering in the affairs of another nation.  Sunfire is unwilling to give the Evil Eye fragment to either hero and flies off to the mainland to secure it.  Cap takes this as a win because it keeps it out of the Defenders' hands and continues his fight with Namor who would much rather be chasing Sunfire for the Eye right now.

While the two continue to struggle with the other, they also review why they're actually fighting and notice that there are plotholes in their stories.  Cap learns that the Defenders are actually trying to free the Black Knight and plan to assemble the Evil Eye to do just that.  Namor refuses to discuss any details that don't match up and instead throws Cap back into the ocean so that he can follow Sunfire.  Cap is left to think about why he's actually following a warning delivered by the trickster god, Loki.

The Sub-Mariner catches up to Sunfire and the two begin a very short battle.  This is Namor, after all.  Sunfire is good but he's at least as outclassed as Cap.  During the fight the piece of the Evil Eye is dropped from Sunfire's grasp and into the waiting hands of... Captain America.

Which now gives Cap a choice.  He can fight it out with Namor one more time and try to make his escape before receiving a throttling or he can surrender the piece and get to the bottom of this mystery with his former ally. 

Putting it like that, Captain America really has little choice.  He puts his trust in Namor, hands over the piece of Evil Eye, and the two heroes fly back to New York.

d10.jpgThe Defenders #10
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Sal Buscema


In this issue, Hulk finds the final fragment of the Evil Eye under a fountain in Los Angeles.  This leads to a fight with Thor that will lead to no clear victor and is only ended when a combined force of Avengers and Defenders stop them.  We cut back a few hours to witness how these Avengers and Defenders actually got together in the first place.  Back at the Sanctum Sanctorum, the rest of the Defenders (excluding Hulk and Namor) have gathered the first four sections of the Evil Eye and wait for the final two.  Dr. Strange lowers the magic barrier to admit Namor and finds that Namor has brought guests: the rest of the Avengers excluding Thor.  Everyone compares notes and realizes that they've been fighting over a misunderstanding and then realizing that they've left Thor and Hulk to fight it out in Los Angeles.  They stop Hulk and Thor's fight and then try to figure out who the bad guys are.  They know one of them is Loki but it's only after examining the evidence that they conclude that Dormammu is probably the other.  Before they can react, a servant of Dormammu steals all the pieces of the Evil Eye.  With the Evil Eye in Dormammu's grasp, the world begins altering itself to a new reality as it enters Dormammu's dimension.

There is one last piece of the Evil Eye to find and it's up to Hulk to find it in Los Angeles.  Hulk is pretty ticked off at Doctor Strange for reasons that don't bear getting into (mostly because I don't know what they are <_<).  He likes the Black Knight, though, so he's willing to be a Defender for one last mission if it means saving Dane Whitman from his rocky tomb. 

The Green Goliath scans the area as people scatter at his presence.  The magic spell that located the various Evil Eye fragments led him to Los Angeles and now leads him to the base of a fountain.  Using nothing but his fingers, he tears away concrete and dirt until he uncovers the final piece of the Evil Eye puzzle.
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Before the Hulk can bound his way back to the Sanctum Santorum, he is confronted by the mighty Thor.  These two are arguably the most powerful Marvel characters and their battles have never ended with a conclusive victor.  They aren't going to this time, either, but this will be their longest fight to date.  Their fight tears up a good bit of Los Angeles real estate and gathers quite the crowd (with the kids picking their favorite and rooting for him).  There's even a scene where the Hulk tries to lift Mjolnir and finds that the hammer won't let him.

In the end, the two heroes lock onto the other and struggle to knock the other to the ground.  The two do this for about a half hour and, in the process, I imagine their spectators get bored and leave because they look like they're barely moving.  Again, the battle is destined to have no clear winner.  The Avengers and Defenders arrive on the scene to end the fight and inform Hulk and Thor that there's now a truce between the teams.

So the Avengers and Defenders are allies now, eh?  When did that happen?  Well, let me tell you.  We'll need to cut back one hour ago and swing by the Sanctum Sanctorum where Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, and Hawkeye have brought together four of the six pieces of the Evil Eye.  The pieces are all different sizes and somehow fit inside each other even though their shape suggests that would be impossible.  It's magic, baby.  We don't have to explain it.

While they're discussing this, Dr. Strange senses the presense of Sub-Mariner and lowers the magical defenses to the Sanctum Sanctorum in order to admit the Defender.  It looks like Namor picked up some friends on the way in.  All of the Avengers (besides Thor) have joined Namor.

The Defenders immediately suspect a trap but Namor is able to calm them down by giving them a run down of he and Cap's adventure in Japan and telling everyone that Loki had sent the Avengers after the Defenders after warning them that the Defenders wanted to conquer the universe.  Because of this, Namor and Cap believed a conference between the two teams would be the best idea ever.

Now, this could have gone one of two ways.  The first is that the two teams would resolve their differences peacefully and then team up to fight the common threat.  That's how crossovers usually work eventually but it happens at the end of the story.  If this wasn't the end, it would mean that this conference would lead to a further misunderstanding (maybe Hawkeye starts making out with Mantis and pisses off the Swordsman) and the Sanctum Sanctorum is demolished in the ensuing turmoil.

Fortunately, we're nearing the end of the crossover so Dr. Stange won't have to buy any new real estate.

The Defenders explain that they aren't together in order to conquer the world.  They're together to fight common threats the face the world.  After explaining themselves, they spend the next half hour ironing out their differences with some mixed results.  Vision and Scarlet Witch easily forgive Surfer for accidentally causing a volcano to erupt right on top of them.  Hawkeye is still keeping a chip on his shoulder but admits that the Avengers probably aren't the bad guys of this piece.  The Swordsman nearly reignites the entire thing by getting on Clint's bad side but Iron Man gets everyone to drop the hostility by reminding the two teams that they left Hulk and Thor out in Los Angeles to fight it up while they ended things here.

Dr. Strange orders everyone outside so that he can cast a teleportation spell and deliver them all quickly to the other side of the country.  After that, it was a simple matter to end hostilities between Thor and Hulk (though Hulk looks like he would rather continue fighting than do all this talking).

Now, the heroes just need to determine who this common threat is that they're facing so they can end this crossover.  Thor mentions the first one.  Loki is obviously doing his part in this but doesn't seem to be the main antagonist.  The Asgardian relates how he last defeated his step-brother in Rutland, Vermont, which reminds Dr. Strange and Namor of a villain they faced in the same area: Dormammu.  It looks like they've pegged their "common threat."

Dr. Strange shudders to think about facing the combined forces of Loki and Dormammu.  He instead turns his attention to the Evil Eye fragments and asks Hulk to hand his piece over.  This pisses Hulk off because... well, he's Hulk.  He's meant to be pissed off most of the time.  The Green Goliath smashes the street in his rage, knocking over some innocent bystanders in the process.

While Captain America runs crowd control, Hulk finally turns over his fragment of the Evil Eye.  Dr. Strange lays out the six pieces and then ponders the possibility of assembling the thing right here and now.  Would it be a good idea?  Would it even do what they brought it together to do?

They're not going to find out.  One of Dormammu's servants, Asti, appears, wolfs down each piece of the Evil Eye, and then flies up into the sky.  The heroes who can fly give chase but Asti disappears back to the Dark Dimension before they even have a hope of catching him.

The results are almost immediate.  Dormammu obviously didn't waste any time assembling the various bits of the Evil Eye and enacting his master plan.  He uses the Evil Eye to transfer Earth to his home dimension.  That causes hell on Earth because the Dark Dimension has widely different properties.  People become monsters, the city warps and morphs around them, dogs and cats sleep together.  It's chaos.

Like a good villain, Dormammu appears in the sky overhead to gloat.  He lets everyone know that he has sworn never to invade earth's home dimension.  That just means that, using the Evil Eye, he had to bring earth to him.  They have one hour before that transition is complete.

Back on the streets of Los Angeles, the Defenders and Avengers vow to fight to the bitter end.

a118.jpgThe Avengers #118
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Bob Brown


In this issue, the Avengers and Defenders fight humans turned into beasts on the streets of Los Angeles.  They are helped along the Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, Countess Valentina Allegro de Fontaine and the rest of SHIELD.  While SHIELD deals with monster detainment, the Defenders and Avengers are free to engage the real threat and head off to the Dark Dimension to do just that.  Dormammu learns from the Evil Eye that Loki has betrayed him and locks the trickster god up.  The Watcher appears to watch.  The Avengers and Defenders fight it out with Mindless Ones.  Dormammu removes the Defenders from the playing field with a simple wave of his hand but leaves the Avengers to try a charge.  Many of these are halted by various traps placed in the way by Dormammu but they are able to distract their enemy long enough for Loki to escape his prison and force the Evil Eye out of Dormammu's hand.  The Eye sucks up Dormammu's energy and gives Loki one good blast, returning his sight but driving him mad in the process.  With the Evil Eye freed from either's possession, the Earth returns to normal, the heroes return home, and the Watcher stops watching.

Things are about as bad as they can get at this point.  Earth is being sucked into another dimension and is starting to look pretty nasty for the effort.  The people of Los Angeles (and the rest of the world for that matter) are beginning to change into monsters.  Monsters only desire one thing besides decent internet service and that's to attack those that aren't monsters.  Since the Defenders and Avengers aren't looking that monstrous (don't look at Hulk), they're prime targets.  While the hero teams are defending themselves and making sure not to permanently harm these innocents-turned-to-monsters, Strange casts a spell that will protect them from changing.  It's too bad that the spell isn't powerful enough to change those around them but Strange is trying to save his energies for a confrontation with Dormammu.

The teams decide to split their forces.  Half will stay here and half will go after Dormammu.  Strange isn't happy with this plan because Dormy is hellishly strong and the Evil Eye just amplifies that.  They'll need everyone to have a hope.  Cap counters that these monsters have to be corralled so that they don't do harm to themselves or others.  It's logical but, when you consider the effect is worldwide, insignificant.  The Avengers and Defenders would do better facing off against Dormammu than trying to save some lives in Los Angeles.

SHIELD comes around to help out with that decision.  Nick Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan, and Countessa Valentina Allegro Fontaine jump to the ground with their stun guns to battle the monsters in LA leaving the super heroes to do what they do best: kicking super villain tail feathers.  That solved, Dr. Strange casts his crazy magic and sends the Avengers and Defenders to the Dark Dimension to battle Dormammu properly.  No sooner do our heroes take off than SHIELD has it's first set back.  Countessa Valentina Allegro de Fontaine changes into a monster and Nick is forced to stun her.  Fury is left with the prospect that anyone could change into a monster at any time.  It makes the Defenders/Avengers alliance's mission all the more important.

The hero teams enter the Dark Dimension on a twisty road leading to Dormammy.  Thor recommends the fliers get airborn to cover the gap more quickly but is quickly warned off that idea by Dr. Strange.  This is a magic road.  If you leave the path, even by air, you will face horrors the like you can't even imagine so don't expect them to be drawn on panel.  You also won't get any closer to the target so best to stay on the path, together, and face every threat as it comes.  That settled, the two teams run as quickly as they can down the path with their various weapons drawn.

At the end of that path, Dormammu is getting to love his new Evil Eye trinket.  It gives him near limitless power and it's shaped like a flashlight so it's easy to hold.  Loki, on the other hand, doesn't think this bodes well for him at all.  When Dormammu notices the Avengers and Defenders creeping up the path to engage him in battle, Loki tries one last time to get Dormammu to restore his sight.  Unfortunately for the trickster, he was right not to trust Dormammu.  Dormy never had any intention of restoring Loki's sight and, more over, now knows that it was Loki who sent the Avengers against the Defenders.  That Evil Eye has told him everything.  Dormammu locks Loki up in a mystic cage before noticing a huge shadow falling over him.

It's the Watcher.  He's here to watch.
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Dormammu believes that the Watcher is here to interfere like he usually does but the Watcher assures the elder god that that isn't the case this time.  It turns out that for the first time that I can remember, the Watcher actually doesn't interfere.  Dormammu takes him at his word and decides having an audience while destroying worlds is pretty nifty.  If only Loki had his sight back, there would be two people to watch him.

The Avengers and Defenders are fighting the clock here.  They only had one hour when entering the Dark Dimension and who knows how much time is left to them in this place.  They've just found another problem.  That twisty path they've been following?  It just ended and they aren't at their destination yet.  To make matters even worse, they get ambushed by Mindless Ones.
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Hulk's been spoiling for a fight ever since the Defenders and Avengers made him stop fighting Thor.  It's good to hear that he can whale away on these creatures without fear or being told to hold back.  He's about the only one.  These guys are just distractions from the real target and they don't really have time to fight their way through the Mindless Ones solo.  Dr. Strange orders everyone to combine their powers and drive back the creatures with a concentration of energy.

This drives back the Mindless Ones and returns the path in front of them but time is still the greatest enemy.  They haven't even gotten to Dormammu but Mantis tells everyone that only twenty minutes remain before the earth is all the way in the Dark Dimension.

We cut back to earth to see how every hero is doing.  We get a veritable who's who of Marvel characters circa 1973: the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Inhumans, Luke Cage, Ka-Zar (and Zabu), Ghost Rider, Man-Thing (giant-sized?  U-Decide), Dr. Doom, Dracula, Adam Warlock, and Thanos all fight the various people turned monsters.  You can bet that the more evil of those guys probably isn't worried about the innocent civilian's safety, either.

They make their way the up to a mystical shield just a football field's distance from their enemy and gain some comfort at seeing the Watcher doing his thing.  The Watcher has interfered, meddled, and gotten his hands dirty in the affairs of mortals so many times that our heroes think this will be just like all the rest.  Dormammu sees the joy in the heroes eyes and wonders if the Watcher is just here to watch.  Uatu again assures the villain that he's not here to lift a finger.  This was just the best program on and he decided to sit up close.  Sure, he's rooting for the heroes but he's not gonna get involved.  Honest.

For real this time.

Dormammu believes the Watcher and turns back to the heroes to learn that they've broken through his mystic barrier.  Maybe Uatu is helping by being distracting?  Could be.  All the same, Dormammu doesn't care.  This just gives him a chance to defeat the Defenders with a wave of his hand.  While holding the Evil Eye, that's all he needs to do to knock them back and drop them into unconsciousness.

That leaves the Avengers to fight a mystic battle.  Oh boy.  Not great odds here, huh?  Still, they charge Dormammu with all the courage they can muster.

This is great fun for Dormy.  He fires a blast at the ground beneath the Avengers and turns it into quicksand.  Only Thor, Iron Man, and the Scarlet Witch are able to evade the trap.  For some reason, the Vision is caught up and isn't able to use his phasing powers or his weightlessness to free himself.  Swordsman's quick thinking saves all those trapped by firing heat rays out of his sword and making dry clumps of ground for everyone to hang on to.

Knowing that their fellow Avengers are temporarily safe, Thor, Iron Man, and Wanda continue their charge.  Dormammu lets loose another magic blast that changes the heroes back into their secret identities.  Thor and Iron Man hit the ground hard as Donald Blake and Tony Stark.  This leaves Wanda, who has no secret identity and, as a mutant, is kind of defined by her powers.  Can the Scarlet Witch save the earth all alone?

Wait for it.  Dormammu is merely toying with these heroes and uses another spell to drop glue-like rain down on the final hero standing.  Within moments, Wanda is trapped.

Victory complete?  Nope.  While Dormammu is distracted by the oncoming Avengers, Loki is working on freeing himself.  Remember way back when Loki changed into a snake to sneak by Heimdall (Journey Into Mystery #108)?  He changes shape once again, this time, into a bug, and flies through the mystic bars of his cage.  He's able to follow the sound of Dormammu's gloating voice and sneaks up behind the villain.

While the two gods struggle for possession of the Evil Eye, Wanda is able to force her hands up and cast a hex.  The spell knocks the Evil Eye from Dormammu's hand, sucks in all the living power that comprises Dormy's form, and blasts it back out at Loki.  The upside?  Loki regains his sight.  The downside?  Loki is driven insane. 

With the Evil Eye forced out of Dormammu's grasp, the earth returns to normal.  Humans stagger to their feet, returned to normal but ruining whatever clothes they were wearing.  The heroes don't exactly know what's gone down just yet but they do know that the worst is over.

Back in the Dark Dimension, the heroes gather together once more.  The Watcher greets them and congratulates everyone on one great battle.  It was great to watch.  Uatu warns that Dormammu isn't forever defeated.  He'll find a way back.  His kind always does.  In the meantime, Loki has been driven mad and is no longer a threat to anyone.  For a while, at least.  These things have a way of reversing.

The only thing that confuses Uatu is that the Vision was trapped in quicksand.  That shouldn't have gone down like that.  Vision has no explanation to give.

Dr. Strange picks up the Evil Eye and gets ready to magically return the Avengers and Defenders to earth.  At the same time, he's magically erasing everyone's knowledge of Donald Blake and Tony Stark's identities until they feel like revealing them on their own.  All that's left is for Uatu to muse a bit before disappearing himself.

Which is all well and good but what about the aftermath of all this?  Well, that takes place in the beginning pages of Defenders #11.  I'll sum up for everyone.

Everyone returns to Los Angeles to find a very destroyed landscape.  Nick Fury congratulates everyone on a job well done and is about to talk about the Defenders when Dr. Strange erases Fury's memories of the Defenders.  Strange then uses the Evil Eye to repair all the damage done from this crossover while also erasing the memory of the Defenders from everyone else's minds.  Only the Avengers are allowed to remember and that's to prevent scuffles like this from happening in the future.

The Evil Eye might have had the power to reanimate the Black Knight's rocky body but, instead, the Defenders end up chasing Dane Whitman's soul into the past where Merlin has given it another body to inhabit.  Dane elects to stay in the past where he feels more comfortable instead of returning to his real body.  Hope finding that Evil Eye wasn't too much trouble...

And what of Loki's fate?  That's for Avengers #119 to decide.  The Avengers return to Avengers Mansion with the villain and, since Loki is still denied from Asgard, Thor puts him up at the mansion, trying to make him comfortable.  After a battle in Rutland, Vermont with the Collector, Thor sees the countryside and makes a deal with the Mayor, Tom Fagan, to put up his step-brother in a cabin where the townspeople will look after him.  Thor believe Loki will find whatever peace there is to find when you're missing your mind and it's the closest thing he can imagine to home.

And that's it for this article.  Hope you enjoyed the ride!

Until next time: 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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