Friday, May 25, 2018 • Morning Edition • "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."

Super Reads Siege & Realm of Kings 5

Written by SuperginraiX on Tuesday, April 06 2010 and posted in Features
badguy87.jpgAlright!  Issue 2!  Let's get this started!

Today, we check out Siege #2, Siege: Embedded #2, Nova #34, Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1, and Blast to the Past for Amazing Spider-Man #'s 96-98.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

I am actually amazed at how much I've enjoyed Siege.  I try not to editorialize that kind of thing TOO often but this has been a very fun event so far. 

If this is your first time reading Super Reads, it's been around for a while, now!  We've covered everything from Secret Invasion through Dark Reign as well as War of Kings.  If you're interested in reading all that back story (and who wouldn't be?), check in the "Features" link at the top of the page, look for the "Super Reads" button and click away for DAYS of reading enjoyment.  If that's too many clicks for you, just hit HERE and get there in one shot.

OK, let's drop like into the thick of things.

s2.jpgSiege #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

Last issue, Loki and Norman Osborn's plan to incite an invasion of Asgard got underway as the two used Volstagg and the U-Foes in a successful attempt to recreate a Stamford-like incident by demolishing Soldier Field during a Bears game. Norman actually saw this play out with Loki's help and, while he said this mission is a go, it didn't mean he was completely happy with how he had to go about it. While this incident should have make it easier to engage the Asgardians, Norman didn't receive the usual support from his people, starting with Victoria Hand who, while following his orders, seemed reluctant to do so. Still, Norman was able to convince Ares of the rightness of this cause and the rest of the Avengers were offered full pardons after this mission is completed. While Ares rallied the Initiative troops, President Obama found that he was unable to get Norman on the line to halt the attack. Loki played both sides by giving his half-brother, Balder, a heads up about the imminent attack. Sentry delivered the first shot by taking out Heimdal and cutting off access to the Eternal Realm. More shots came as the Dark Avengers, HAMMER, and the Initiative began their first wave of attacks. In Broxton, Dr. Donald Blake was attending his comatose patient, Tony Stark, as the battle raged a couple miles out of town. Blake ordered Maria Hill to quietly remove Tony from the town, and then rushed out of town so that Thor could join the battle. Before Thor could make any impact on the fight, he was cut off by the Sentry and then downed by the combined forces of Iron Patriot, Dark Ms. Marvel, and the U-Foes. Back in New York, Steve Rogers watched this all on television and was not pleased.

In this issue, Ares fights it out with Balder and learns that he's been totally tricked into fighting this battle.  Thor recieves a quick rescue via a bazooka wielding Maria Hill and a random townie.  Captain America rallies the troops to go to war with Norman Osborn.  Ares attacks Norman and ends up in a losing fight with the Sentry.  Cap's troops leave their Brooklyn hideout and fly off to join the battle after Steve gets his shield back from James Barnes, and gets a very special suitcase from Edwin Jarvis.  Dark Wolverine leads a group of HAMMER soldiers into Broxton to track down Thor and ends up on the recieving end of a lightning bolt.  Osborn is about to send the Sentry in to take down the god of thunder but gets distracted by a very familiar shield coming right for him.

It's a quick issue but action packed.

Last issue, Ares was convinced to go into battle against Asgard on the false notion that the place was currently being ruled by Loki.  It's not.  It's actually being ruled by Balder, who recently found out that he was another son of Odin.  Ares is about to learn the truth and it's going to hit him hard.  In a fight with the actual king of Asgard, Ares is shouting out how foolish the Asgardians are for following Loki.  What are they thinking, anyway?

Balder tries to reason with the Greek god of war but it's not until a wounded Heimdall returns to the battle that everyone's favorite Dark Avenger starts listening to reason.  Heimdall was taken out in the original attack on Asgard by the Sentry in order to prevent Asgard from having foreknowledge of the attack and being prepared for it.  As it is, the Asgardians are scrambling to mount a defense.  Sentry was also used to beat back Balder early on in the battle but the real king of Asgard is much less damaged than Heimdall.  Asgard's sentinel has lost the use of one of his eyes and is resting a lot of his weight on his sword.

One of the supposed truths of Heimdall's existance is that he cannot lie so, when he tells Ares that Balder is the real king of Asgard, the Avenger knows that he's been played.  He looks over the destruction that he helped plan and has only one thought.  He told Norman that he'd take off his head if Osborn lied to him.  Looks like it's time to do that.

Thor is down.  Last issue saw him fall to the combined forces of the Initiative.  Mainly the U-Foes, Dark Ms. Marvel, and Iron Patriot.  Now, Osborn is able to waste time properly arresting the god of thunder for some sort of treason charges.  This is really the last moment in the series where Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, has complete control over the tide of battle so let's let him enjoy it for a moment.

He's pretty smug, after all.  Ozzy's got his camera people recording this and giving everything a pro-Osborn slant.  Still, the reporters on site probably know all the good that Thor has done in his lengthy time around the Marvel Universe.  They're also paid to make this dramatic, so you get that through their narration.  Meanwhile, Norman is issue orders about how he wants Thor to be detained and all that fun stuff when his moment in the sun takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

His armor announces "Incoming" but he doesn't have time to react.

The Iron Patriot gets blasted by a rocket.  On camera.  Maria Hill has entered the battle.

The reporters identify the former Director of SHIELD pretty quickly so the viewing audience at home knows that this is a highly trained combatant.  Still, it's hard to escape the sting that America's Top Cop, wearing state of the art armor, was just blindsided by a rocket coming from a tiny woman in the back of an ancient pick-up truck.  Anyone who's read Invincible Iron Man during the past year has probably gained an affection for Maria Hill that they wouldn't have had if they'd just read, say, Civil War.  Having her here for the big throw down to end all throw downs is very well-deserved.

OK.  Some things that weren't shown between this issue and the last.  Dr. Don Blake ordered Maria Hill to get Tony Stark out of his office and into a secure area immediately.  She must have done that and then decided that losing Thor wasn't something she was willing to do.  She somehow convinced the owner of this very old pick-up truck to drive her into a war zone and help her rescue the god of thunder.  The people of Broxton are good people but they're also either crazy or stupid.  Or both!  OK, they might also be loyal since they've lived peacefully alongside the Asgardians for a while now.

Iron Patriot wasn't the only one caught in the first rocket's explosion.  The U-Foes and Ms. Marvel were also sent reeling.  A second rocket keeps them off their feet for a few more seconds and also clears the area so that her driving companion, Jason, can attempt to rescue Thor.  Since Jason doesn't even know which one Thor is, I'm gonna assume he hasn't lived here long or didn't pay attention when the new neighbors moved in.  You can also erase "loyal" off the reasons why this dude is helping Maria.

Ms. Hill is done with the bazooka and switches to the machine gun.  This weapon is less effective on her opponents but she's mostly keeping them distracted so that Jason can remove Thor from the battle.  Unfortunately, she's being surrounded and she might not even know it.  Luckily, Thor's not as unconscious as we were led to believe.

A swing of his hammer knocks Ms. Marvel and X-Ray off their feet.  Since those were the only Initiative members still standing after the rocket's red glare, it allows Thor to collapse again and for our heroes to escape in that old pick-up truck without any further complications.

While this is happening, Steve Rogers is rallying his troops.  Lately, Steve has stayed away from dressing in his Red, White, and Blue number in favor of an all-black spy suit.  Not today.  Today, Steve puts on the Captain America suit so that this thing can be done properly.  Before we get to all those super heroes that are going to take part in Cap's counter attack, we have to listen to Steve Rogers' speech about truth, justice, and the American Way.  It's actually not that bad of a soundbite.    Good for getting everyone prepped for the battle ahead.  Steve DOES mention that the people assembled today may have fought on different sides during that pesky Civil War thing.  That doesn't matter.  Today, we take down Norman Osborn.  On that, everyone can agree.

OK!  The troops!  We've got our usual offenders.  The New Avengers (Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Ronin, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, and Captain "James Buchanan Barnes" America)are a given.  The Young Avengers (Patriot, Hawkeye, Stature, Vision, Wiccan, Speed, and Hulkling) are more of a surprise but a good one.  Finally, we get the Secret Warriors (Nick Fury, Quake, Phobos, Hellfire, Slingshot, Stonewall, and Eden Fesi).  There are a few people you might have been expecting to see that are conspicously absent, such as Stature and Vision's Mighty Avengers teammates.  Rest assured, we WILL learn their fate.  You'll just need to wait a week or two.

Back in Asgard, Norman has recovered from his fumble against Maria Hill and is pretty pissed off on how that went down.  Flying with him above the city, Ms. Marvel offers to go after the former Director of SHIELD but Osborn has other plans.  He's sending in his Wolverine to sniff Thor and his companions out.  Suddenly, the Iron Patriot receives yet another surprise attack.

Ozzy's armor announces "Incoming" but he doesn't have time to react.

Ares is on him.  This is impressive because we're led to believe that Iron Patriot and Ms. Marvel are flying pretty high.  The god of war grabs onto Norman's head gear and forces a crash landing.  Once on the ground, Ozzy gets chewed out for his deception.  Norman explains that it's something he had to do and something he'd expect Ares to do in his place but, apparently, the god of war draws the line at deceiving others into fighting other gods.  Ares charges at Norman but he'll never be able to fulfill his promise to take off Osborn's head.

Norman, somewhat regretful, calls in the Sentry.  It's time for Ares to die.

Now, Ares is pretty damn powerful.  He's the greek god of war.  He's a master fighter and doesn't worry about a thing like honor getting in the way of his combat style.  Still, he's the second most powerful Dark Avenger and this battle will prove that.  That doesn't mean Ares goes down easily.  He doesn't.  He fights to the bitter end.

This also isn't a battle that Ares expected to fight.  He thought that he and the Sentry were friends.  At least comrades.  They had served together as Avengers longer than the rest of the team and were the only two to stay when Norman Osborn came to power.  Ares quickly learns that the Sentry doesn't care.  Sentry almost looks like he's in a trance but, if you've been following along with Dark Avengers, you pretty much know that this is the Void running the show.  It'll become more apparent as the battle goes on but you've gotta look closely.

It's not just Sentry's glowing evil eyes that give him away.  During the fight, Ares drives his axe into the Sentry's side.  When it's pulled out, no blood comes from the wound.  Only tentacles and raw power.  It only lasts for two panels and by the second one the tenacles are already rapidly going back inside but they ARE there.  Take a look.

After that moment, Sentry ends up knocking Ares into a building, supposedly losing track of the god of war.  Coming down to investigate, he is ambushed by Ares... or Ares at least ATTEMPTS an ambush.  Before he can actually complete his attack, the Sentry is all over him.  For a split moment, you believe that Bob is going to use Ares' own axe to behead the greek god.  Instead, Sentry drops the axe, grabs a hold of the war god with both hands and makes a wish, splitting Ares in two.

It seems that the entire war has stopped to witness this one battle.  We get tons of reactions from everyone and even people like Hawkeye (Bullseye) look shocked.  Keen observers will note that this is exactly how Sentry killed Carnage in New Avengers #3.  Well, he flew the villain up into the atmosphere before tearing Carnage apart but it's the "tearing apart" bit that is repeated here.

Back in Brooklyn, Cap's resistance team has stopped watching the news and is unaware of Ares' side switching or death.  They're actually boarding one of Nick Fury's stolen vehicles, a SHIELD Military Helitransport, and getting ready to kick Norman's butt in.  Before they take off, Steve Rogers gets a few gifts from a few friends.

James "Bucky" Barnes has been Captain America for a while now.  He's inherited the shield and everything.  Steve has refused to take up the mantle again and that means that Bucky's been using the shield even after Cap Reborn.  That ends now, at least until Siege ends.  Bucky gives the shield back to Steve so that he can end this thing right and grabs a gun instead.  Oh, that Bucky Cap.  He loves his weapons.

It's time for a Mighty Avenger to join the fight and make a difference.  Edwin Jarvis has shown up but he's not here to fight the big battles.  He's the butler.  He's here to buttle.  Actually, he's here to give Steve Rogers a suitcase.  It's not actually for Steve so much as it's for Tony Stark.  Someone's going to need an armored suit, after all.  It's going to have to be that damn classic armor.  Not a whole lot of options at the moment.

One Warrior will not be attending this battle.  Phobos.  He's the son of Ares and Nick Fury doesn't want him to be involved.  Alex isn't too happy with this and tries using his god powers on Fury.  They don't work.  Nick Fury isn't afraid of nothin'.  Who knows if the knowledge of Ares' fate would change things?

Our band of heroes hits the skies but the immediate question is: how long's it going to take to fly halfway across the country, anyway?  The answer is: not too long.  This Helitransport has access to a wormhole or something.  It'll get them there in minutes.  As they reach super speeds, Spidey is even able to make an Independence Day joke.  Awesome.

In Broxton, Oklahoma, Dark Wolverine and a team of HAMMER Agents are busy tracking Thor.  Daken has his nose working overtime but isn't having much luck.  The locals aren't helping matters, either.  They actually aren't helping at all.  They sort of like the Asgardians, after all.  When Norman hears that they aren't getting local help, he tells Victoria Hand to have martial law declared on the town.

While Ozzy is having that conversation, Daken picks up Thor's trail.  He rushes ahead of his HAMMER team which leaves him all alone when Thor drops a lightning bolt on top of the Dark Avenger.

Thor is still injured but he's not out of the fight by half.  He shouts his defiance into the air.  This is one god of thunder who isn't going to stop.

So Norman Osborn decides to finish things.  He sends the Sentry off to take Thor and the city of Broxton out. 

One last time this issue, Norman loses control of the situation.  This time, Taskmaster tries to give him a warning before the inevitable happens.

Stormin' Norman's armor announces "Incoming" but he doesn't have time to react.

That shield really does seem like it's taking forever to hit its target.  Maybe Norman did have time to react. ;)

This issue has some follow up text that records a conversation between Nick Fury and the Secret Warriors.  He explains that the Secret Warriors aren't going to be noticed on the battlefield because everyone else is going to be all about the grudge match and no one has a grudge with the Warriors.  Basic battle strategy is discussed and Hellfire makes an ass out of himself.  It's mostly business as usual for the Secretest of Warriors.

You can't wait for the next issue either, can you?

se2.jpgSiege: Embedded #2
Writer: Brian Reed
Penciler: Chris Samnee

Last issue, we got a good look at Marvel's version of Glenn Beck: Todd Keller, who completely supported Norman's agenda. Keller got an exclusive offer from HAMMER to cover Norman Osborn's war against Asgard. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Ben Urich was being sprung from police custody by an old friend, Will Stern. The two snuck down to Soldier Field to get a firsthand look at the destruction before leaving to get a bite to eat. While at a diner, Urich saw Volstagg and rushed outside to make contact. Voltagg was cheered by the site of food and offered his story for more. Keller also got a firsthand look at the destruction but also got HAMMER's editorial of the event. Volstagg ate his fill and took his leave in order to head back to Asgard for judgement. After noticing that the real story was going to be in Broxton and also realizing that only Osborn-friendly news people were going to be invited to that party, Urich and Stern decided it's time for a road trip, picked Volstagg up from the side of the road, and made their way to Broxton, Oklahoma.

In this issue, our trio of travelling companions stop for gas and food in Missouri on their way to Oklahoma.  Volstagg share his theories on the human condition.  Todd Keller have an interview with Iron Patriot and immediately figures out that he's not interviewing Norman Osborn at all but is interviewing an LMD that thinks it's Norman Osborn.  Ben Urich and friends get caught 50 miles outside of Oklahoma City in a traffic jam.  Urich heads outside to interview other drivers.  HAMMER attacks their news van to arrest Volstagg.  Volstagg fights back with the power of awesome.  Ben and Will get arrested but Will fakes a seizure and they escape.

Road trip!  Ben Urich and his old friend, Will Stern, are headed cross country from Chicago, Illinois to Broxton, Missouri.  Unlike Nick Fury, they don't have a flying transport jet that can generate it's own wormholes so they end up taking a van.  According to Google Maps, this is a fourteen-and-a-half hour drive and the midway point is going to be very close to where they are right now: Sullivan, Missouri.

They're gassing up at a Fastt Tripp.  Urich is inside getting the cashier's position on the country and how she feels about Asgardians and is basically getting spoonfed whatever Todd Keller has told her on the TV.  Nevertheless, Ben records the whole conversation and keeps asking her questions. 

Since Volstagg is an Asgardian and is kind of the reason why war is being declared on Asgard, he's not really let out of the van and he's not enjoying this at all.  Will convinces him to stay put for a magazine and pork rinds and Volstagg perks right up.  While Will goes inside to grab that and pay for gas, Ben's interviewee points to her television set where Todd Keller is giving us all the answer to who will save this country: Norman "Green Goblin" Osborn.

Our road trip companions get back on their way shortly after that and conversation gets going.  Will doesn't understand why Ben has to interview people everywhere they stop.  He keeps getting the same speech and it all points back to what Todd Keller is telling people to say and think.  Urich has his own thoughts on why he keeps interviewing people.  Volstagg is intently listening to this back and forth and is curious about who Todd Keller actually is.

Will asks him to name a monster that threatens Asgard.  Volstagg could name a hell of a lot of things that do this but he chooses the Fire Giants.  Stern tells the Asgardian that Todd Keller is a lot like a Fire Giant except that instead of fire, Keller uses "lies and half truth to get people riled up."  Urich is a bit more generous and explains that Keller isn't doing this because he's a straight up villain but because it makes good television.  People obviously love to watch this kind of thing.  They want to hear who is to blame and how simple it would be to fix things.  As long as they're free of any blame, of course.

Volstagg has moved on from talking about Todd Keller and is now thinking about Fire Giants.  You kill them by cutting of their heads because that's where their heart and fire is kept.  It's true of people, too.  Not the head thing.  We keep our hearts mostly in our chests if I remember my anatomy (I do).  Volstagg comments that we keep our fire in our hearts as well.  It is that fire that moves us into action.

OK.  Scene change.  Let's go over to Oklahoma City where the embedded reporters are already on the scene and reporting the HAMMER approved version of events.  Todd Keller is having his show live from Tinker Air Force Base which has been commandeered by HAMMER troops to help in their war against Asgard.  Keller makes sure his audience knows that what is happening in Broxton is not approved by the President of the United States of America.  Osborn is acting alone for the good of the American People.  Think about that.  Osborn is going rogue and is trying to sell that to the citizens of this country through a media battle.

Before the show can go any further, Keller has an unexpected guest: Iron Patriot himself!  Keller asks Norman a few questions and gets some pretty canned answers before cutting to a commercial break.  The studio didn't call for the break.  It was all Keller.  When they ask him why, he responds that he doesn't like being made a fool out of.  This is obviously not Norman Osborn on his show.  Osborn would have had that mask off in two seconds flat just to get his face on the camera.

His handler, Agent Abrams, sighs and takes off Iron Patriot's face plate.  Underneath is just circuits and wire.  The real Osborn is much too busy to show up on television right now.  This is an LMD (or something comparable) that is programmed to believe itself to actually BE Norman Osborn.  Why?

Because it helps the war effort.  Right now, the world thinks that Norman Osborn showed up on Keller's show for an exclusive interview.  Abrams leads Todd Keller around the base and shows off the rest of the embedded journalists.  Each one of these reporters is here because they'll spin the war to make HAMMER and Osborn right.  They're the only ones given access to the war zone.  Even stations that would stand against everything that Osborn is doing are forced to rely on information provided by the embedded journalists on the scene.

Maybe it just sinks in right now.  Maybe Keller's been waiting to say it out loud.  He gets a giddy smile on his face and says, "This is really happening, isn't it?  We're going to invade Asgard."  Abrams makes a slight correction.  HAMMER is invading Asgard.  Keller is telling everyone why it had to be done.

Back to the road trip, our trio has just hit Chandler, Oklahoma.  They aren't far now.  Volstagg is deeply into his magazine and we learn that Will basically picked him up a Cosmo.  Ben asks Will why he got the big V a fashion magazine and Stern replies that it's something to keep Volstagg's mind from thinking about that horrible Chicago tragedy.  It's working.

This is about the time traffic slows down to less than a crawl, Volstagg runs out of munchies, and Ben realizes that the van's radio isn't working.  Volstagg is also answering questions in some Cosmo article and is speaking aloud about his results.  Once he reaches the part where he imagines himself in front of a mirror naked... well, Will tries to get him to stop talking and Ben decides to go on a little walk.

Urich walks up to another car and asks if the driver knows what the deal is.  The driver doesn't look too concerned.  The radio is talking about a check point to get into Oklahoma City.  Nothing to worry about unless you're a subversive or you're worried about gas.  Oklahoma City is still about fifty miles away.  That's a hell of a traffic jam.  As the two are talking, a HAMMER Squadron flies overhead.

And they're heading right for Will and Volstagg in their news van.  HAMMER's sensors confirm the presence of an Asgardian inside and, suddenly, there are HAMMER troops everywhere, surrounding the vehicle.  One of them pulls a gun on Stern and gives him instructions to turn off the van and calmly step outside but it's not something that Will is overly concerned with.  He just turns around and tells Volstagg that these are not the people that he wants to turn himself in to.  That's OK.  Volstagg isn't even thinking about surrendering until he gets to Broxton.  These people are just here to give him something to do in the meantime.

Volstagg exits the van and starts busting heads.  Lots of the HAMMER guys are riding around on their versions of the Goblin Glider and it doesn't take long for the Asgardian to acquire one of those.

During the confusion, Will is able to break out of traffic and start his escape offroad.  While he's doing that, Ben is starting to get an idea of what Volstagg is really capable of.

Will pulls up to pick up Ben.  Ben tries to tell Will what's going on but Stern doesn't need the play by play.  He totally gets what's happening right now: trouble.  Volstagg is in the skies swatting down government officers.  This isn't what Ben was expecting at all.  He was planning on driving down to Broxton and interviewing as many people as he could on the way.  Will, on the other hand, might not have been expecting this but as a television guy, it's what he knows his audience would love.  Big fight scene with a fat man on a Goblin Glider?  I'd watch that.

Volstagg's carnage makes Ben second guess his road trip companion.  Big V is completely capable of making a big mess.  Maybe he's not as sympathetic as Urich wants him to be. 

Soon, that's no longer Ben and Will's concern.  Their half-assed attempt to elude capture is very temporary and it's only a matter of time before they are captured and placed into HAMMER custody.

This has the added benefit of moving them through that checkpoint in Oklahoma City faster than sitting in a traffic jam.  They get there in the back of a HAMMER containment truck.  On the way, they have time to talk.  Ben has never been arrested before last issue where he was detained by police for not being on the approved reporter list in Chicago.  Will was in this less for the righteousness of their cause and more because it was a thing to do.  He's wondering what happened to Volstagg.  Ben is kind of down right now, answering that their Asgard friend is probably better off that these two reporters are right now. 

Seeing how down Ben is, Will offers to fake a seizure so that Urich can run but the Frontline Publisher doesn't see the point since he doesn't know where he'd be going.  Will doesn't see that as a reason for not trying and when the HAMMER team opens the door, he still tries to fake a seizure. 

The HAMMER Agents don't know what this guy is trying to do and stare dumbly at Stern while Ben exits the van.  When Ben explains what's going on, one of the agents runs off for help leaving the other one alone to handle two unarmed reporters.  You'd think that would give him an edge but when he comes in close to check on Will, our favorite cameraman lets the agent in on the gag before kicking him in the face.  Ben steals the keys and the two fumble their way out of their handcuffs.

Will mentions that they're totally not Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid.  That's ok by Ben.  Those two died at the end.  It's not something these reporters want to do.  They get the cuffs off and run off into Tinker Air Force Base.

n34.jpgNova #34
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Mahmud A. Asrar

Last issue, Nova got some time with his ex-girlfriend, Namorita, who is currently dead (it was a miracle of time travel kind of thing). Mr. Fantastic explained the dangers of revealing the future to time travellers before the Sphinx started an attack with more sand minions. The heroes escaped into the pyramid and got zapped with a beam that gave them blissful dreams. Only Darkhawk wasn't affected and had to wake them up. When they came to, they witnessed two Sphinxes attacking each other. It turned out this is a battle between an old, dying Sphinx and his younger self. The cocky, younger Sphinx summoned his own team to do battle with the older Sphinx's champions: our heroes!

In this issue, the old and new Sphinxes pit their champions against each other starting with Moonstone and Nova facing off it Harry S. Truman High School in Long Island.  This moves over to Namorita and Man-Wolf fighting each other in Other Realm.  Mr. Fantastic fights Ulysses Bloodston in Vanaheim.  Black Bolt and Basilisk duke it out in the Blue Area of the Moon.  Old Sphinx finally becomes aware of Darkhawk's presence and has the Raptor take on Gyre.  Champions start finishing their battles until Old Sphinx's forces become the victors.  That means Old Sphinx wins and, as a prize, he has Darkhawk take Young Sphinx's Ka Stone to add to his collection.  That ain't good.

Witness, if you will, a battle between equals.  It doesn't matter that young Sphinx lacks a couple thousand years worth of experience compared to his older and illin' counterpart.  These two are still evenly matched.  Because of this, they're fighting this one out by proxy, having summoned champions to fight in their name.  The winner of the most rounds gets all the marbles.   

In this corner, we have Young Sphinx's team: Moonstone, Man Wolf, Ulysses Bloodstone, Basilisk, and a raptor with a green colored highlight that we'll later learn is known as Gyre.  In the opposite corner, we've got our heroes, Old Sphinx's team: The Man Called Nova, Namorita, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, and Darkhawk.  The heroes aren't actually fighting on Old Sphinx's side because they WANT to but because they really have no choice.  Both Sphinxes are very powerful and can summon these guys as they please.  Sure, the heroes will protest when they're in battle but when someone's trying to clock you one, you probably try to take them out.  It's just good heroing. 

The added reason to engage in combat is because the younger Sphinx wants to steal Old Sphinx's power source, the Ka Stone.  Now, normally, that wouldn't be possible.  Only one Ka Stone can exist in reality at one time.  The only way this meeting of Sphinxes is even possible is because the makeup in the Fault, that big tear in the universe, allows the possibility.  That same reasoning will allow one Sphinx to take both Ka Stones at the same time.  It's something our heroes will try to prevent. 

So let's get on with the fighting, yo!  First up are Moonstone and Nova.  The Sphinxes teleport their champions to Harry S. Truman High School or a reasonable facsimile therof.  This is relevant because it's where Richard Rider went to high school.  It's familiar territory and while that might seem like an advantage, it also makes him sentimental for the terrain.  Since he's a hero, he'll worry about bystanders getting in the way of the action even if they eventually turn out to be made of sand like the people he met from the last issue. 

I'm not saying they're made of sand.  We never get that bit resolved.  This could be reality but my gut is telling me that these two aren't really leaving the Sphinx's magically created world.   

L:ike I mentioned earlier, Nova doesn't really see much need to battle when neither of these two has anything to gain.  Karla isn't so motivated.  It's very possible that the Young Sphinx is employing some sort of mind control on his champions.  It might even have something to do with the fact that every one of Young Sphinx's warriors is powered by a crystal or stone of some sort.  Anyway, because Richard is trying to avoid a fight and also trying to make polite converation, Moonstone gains a clear advantage and capitalizes on it as much as possilble.  We leave this scene with our hero wrapped up in a chain link fence. 

Let's move onto the second battle of the evening.  It's Namorita versus Man-Wolf!  This battle takes place in the Floating Fortress of Arisen Tyre in the Other Realm.  That would mean it's familiar to Man-Wolf, not Namorita.  The two look like they're surrounded by hostiles and Namorita wastes some time clearing the field for her eventual fight with Man-Wolf.  Manny?  Not so much.  He just lunges in with his sword.  What is good about 'Nita taking out some randoms first is that she was able to steal a sword from one of the monsters which means she's ready to actually block Man-Wolf's attacks and counter. 

Namorita is well versed in the art of swordplay so this fight isn't going to be a simple matter for the Man-Wolf to win. 

We've got more battles to start up.  Mr. Fantastic finds himself on Vanaheim with Ulysses Bloodstone.  Reed doesn't want to be used by Sphinx and tries to reason with Bloodstone first.  Again, this just means our hero gets attacked.  It's a common theme in this book.  Reasoning with your apparent enemy doesn't solve your problems.  Only violence will.  Go violence! 

Ulysses uses timed explosive ammunition, banking on the fact that any Richards might be able to dodge his shots but will be caught off-guard by the explosions.  This proves correct.  Reed looks like he's out of the fight in moments.  Ulysses Bloodstone comes in close for the killshot, but is caught napping himself when it turns out that Mr. Fantastic isn't nearly as defeated as he let himself appear to be.  It's a temporary setback for Bloodstone.  Ullyses is still able to clock Reed in the face and regain control of the situation. 

We end this scene with Bloodstone holding a knife to Richards' neck.   

Who's up next?  Black Bolt and Basilisk.  They're fighting in the Blue Area of the Moon.  Of all the fights in this book, this is the one that should have a very clear victor.  There are only a few people who could possibly face Black Bolt and win.  Basilisk isn't one of them.  Still, they're on the ruins of Attilan for a reason.  For Black Bolt, who is from the past, there are no ruins here.  He's less interested in fighting Basilisk and more interested to learn what has happened here.  To that end, he takes to the sky to find some clues.

Basilisk gives chase but Black Bolt easily outpaces his opponent. 

Get ready for some clues for the future.  Black Bolt lands near a broken down monument and begins reading the inscription.  First off, it tells him that in his future, he's going to die.  It even gives him a year: 2009.  This has already happened for us so that's no surprise.  It tells us that he's not going to be found alive anytime soon but that's pretty much expected.

What's new info is the next line, in much smaller print to the BLACKAGAR BOLTAGON line for which this monument is dedicated.  Below that, we learn that the monument is also dedicated to Black Bolt's wife, Medusa, who ruled after him for a short time.

She dies in the Shadow War.

The SHADOW WAR?  What's that?  That's a good question!  It's something coming up, that's for sure.  Marvel is kind of "War" crazy.  We've had the Secret War, Civil War, World War Hulk, the Silent War, and the War of Kings just off the top of my head.  And those are just the most recent wars in the Marvel U.

But I digress.

Black Bolt is probably unphased to learn of his own death.  I could be wrong.  I'm betting he's more moved to learn that his wife, whom he genuinely loves, will die soon after.  Her expiration date isn't listed but you've gotta assume something like that isn't that far off.  Black Bolt's state of mind affects his battle readiness and leaves him unprepared for Basilisk's eventual assault.  The villain turns the Inhuman King to stone and then smashes up the pieces.  That's one win for the Young Sphinx... and a premature death for Black Bolt?

One battle doesn't win the war but Young Sphinx wastes no time gloating about it to his older counterpart.  The older version responds that you shouldn't count chickens before they've hatched and then goes on to mock Young Sphinx for having summoned one too many champions.  Apparently, that's a magical no-no.  Young Sphinx returns that he's summoned his Raptor because Old Sphinx has one champion left as well.  This... was unknown to Old Sphinx, who has thus far not really picked up on the fact that Darkhawk is even here.

Old Sphinx looks at Darkhawk until he finally picks up on the Raptor's presence.  He's a bit confused because he didn't summon this guy.  Never the less, he'll use him.  The two Raptors are teleported to the Fraternity Tree in Null Space.

Once here, Chris notices that there are a few more lit crystals since he was last here.  His opponent, Gyre, is yet another newly reborn Raptor that Powell will need to take down in his quest to end the threat of the Raptors.  Like most scenes in this story, this one also gives away some secrets for the future.  Gyre tells Darkhawk that his amulet was relit on Shard and Chris knows that he sacrificed a Kree Archeologist to do it.  Want some more?  Darkhawk learns that Talon is still around so his defeat at the end of War of Kings: Ascension was short lived.  We've seen Talon over in Imperial Guard so this isn't news to us.  It's just good to see Chris learning that fact.

Finally, Gyre gives up a hint on who the Raptors ACTUALLY serve.  Before, we were lead to believe that the Raptors served the Shi'ar Empire and something called the Great Purpose.  Gyre speaks of creating "new empires" in the "name of our Masters!"  This means that the Shi'ar Empire is only one territory that they have a stake in.  Chris asks who the Raptors serve but he isn't going to get those answers today.  Gyre's spoken enough.  It's time to use his own special power to drive the Raptor out of the Kree Archeologist's body.

That's a win for Old Sphinx as Darkhawk and the archeologist are ported back to join Basilisk and the two Sphinxes.  They continue to watch the remaining matches to see how those battles are going.

Young Sphinx seems sure that Man-Wolf is preparing a killing blow to take down Namorita but we'll never see which way that battle goes.  The rest do their share before that happens.

So let's head over to Mr. Fantastic and Ulysses Bloodstone's fight.  Bloodstone learns that holding a knife to the neck of an elastic man is pretty stupid since Reed is able to stretch himself right out of the way.  Reed throws Ulysses into the air but the monster hunter lands very near his fallen rifle.  This is all according to Reed's plan.  While it looked like Bloodstone had the upper hand and was preparing to cut off Reed's head, Mr. Fantastic was stretching his arms over and altering the timed fuses on those explosive bullets Ulysses is using.  The timers are so short now that the ammo explodes before it's even able to leave the rifle.  Bloodstone is far too close to those explosions and finds himself taken out of the battle by his own tools.  That's another victory for Old Sphinx.

This is actually a Nova book so it's time to check up on our star character.  It's sad that all the cool revelations happen in other people's stories.  That means that Richard hasn't actually learned them.  WE have but what good does it do us except speculation?  Anyway, Rider is being pinned to the ground by Moonstone's control of gravity.

This is a power that is quite similar to Nova's gravimetric wave control.  Usually, the output of such power is measured and released using the Worldmind for calculations but Nova's learned a trick or two that he can use even when access to Worldmind is out of reach.  He fires a compressed grav pulse from a fingertip and hits Moonstone right in the forehead.  It's lights out for her and victory for the Old Sphinx.

With that, everyone is summoned back to the base of the flying sphinx thing.  Well, everyone except Black Bolt who died in his encounter with Basilisk.  This bit of information flies in the face of everything Reed Richards has forgotten about time travel.  I mean, it shouldn't have any impact on temporal events because it would just create an alternate timeline.  Simple as that.  Unfortunately, the multiple worlds view of the Marvel Universe doesn't particularly serve this story so we need to forget that THAT is how this sort of thing is handled in the Marvel Universe and pretend that this is a BIG DEAL.

Our heroes certainly think it's something to be concerned with.

Still, it's not an immediate concern compared to what's going to happen next.  Darkhawk mentions that it might be a good idea to take Young Sphinx's Ka Stone away, pauses in mid-sentence and then rips the stone out of Young Sphinx's head piece. 

It turns out that, now that Old Sphinx has learned of Darkhawk's presence, he finds the Raptor quite easy to control.  It's probably that gem in Darkhawk's chest.

The mind controlled Darkhawk hands the Ka Stone over to the Old Sphinx before anyone can stop him.

You know that thing where are heroes were trying to stop the Sphinx from getting his hands on both Ka Stones?

They failed.  Miserably.

roksoh1.jpgRealm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1
Writer: Scott Reed
Penciler: Miguel Munera

In this issue, Hiro-Kala, the Son of Hulk, and his crew of Sakaar survivors investigate the Fault aboard their stone ship.  Hiro-Kala is teleported away through powers not his own.  On the sub-atomic world of K'ai, we find out that the people tried to summon the Hulk and look to have failed.  We pull out to see a microverse probe leaving the planet and returning to the HMS Endeavor III to join the Microns and tell them all about this attack.  Arcturus Rann and Marionette are fighting and Mari is only convinced to stay when Carl tells her that Psyklop have attacked K'ai.  It takes a bit more convincing to get Arcturus to approve a mission to save the savage planet.  Back on K'ai, the Psyklop are just about to suck the soul out of one of the locals that had worked so hard on summoning the Hulk when the Son of the Hulk teleports in.  His people are tracking his location and following aboard the Stone Ship.  Hiro gets a burst of his worst fears which looks a lot like kissing a girl before he attacks the Psyklop in a rage.  After that's done, he looks around the planet and decides that, instead of punishing this planet, he might as well save it in his own style.  This creates lots of explosions.

I'm going to be completely honest with you all yet again.  I never really cared about the Son of Hulk.  At all.  I've grown to like Skaar over in Incredible Hulk but the Hulk's second and lesser known son, Hiro-Kala... can't say that I care that much.  It's two sons too many, if you ask me.

But you didn't so we need to get this over with.  It's not the easiest read in the world because there is a LOT happening here, and not a lot that would explain it to the uninitiated.  Since I'm part of the uninitiated, I needed to do some research to understand half of what's going on.  I still can't say I care too much. 

OK, that's probably enough build up, let's get this over with!

That Fault is the place to be if you're flying in deep space so, naturally, the survivors of the planet Sakaar were going to show up eventually to get a look at the biggest happening of their lifetimes.  The people of Sakaar have a tendency to fly around in stone ships as we saw in Planet Hulk and World War Hulk.  There was one left to fly off the planet before Galactus devoured the place and it was populated by various people all led by a dude by the name of Hiro-Kala.

Turns out he's the Hulk's son.

Since the other son, Skaar, is kind of responsible for the planet's destruction, Hiro-Kala has made it his priority to find Skaar and suck the Old Power out of him.

Which means you now need to know what the Old Power is.  It's sort of the ultimate energy source that comes from planets like Sakaar.  On earth, Skaar is still able to access the Old Power so it's not limited to Sakaar.  This is good because Hiro-Kala uses the OP to control that stone ship his people are flying.

Other than that, Hiro-Kala avoids using the Old Power in favor of another power.  You may know it as the power of the Hulk.  It affects everyone differently and we haven't seen just what Hiro-Kala is able to do with his version. 

So, yeah.  The Fault.  This is the beginning of our tale but it veers away from this place very quickly.  Hiro-Kala looks on it and seems deeply lost in thought.  So lost, in fact, that his lieutenant, Axeman Bone, begins chiding his leader for ignoring everyone.  The Son of Hulk breaks his meditation to tell Bone that he actually appreciates the levity.  Big decisions will be made shortly.  Big, ominous, mysterious decisions.

And, just like that, Hiro-Kala is teleported away.  The look on his face tells us all that it was an unwilling teleport but Axeman Bone initially believes his boss to have done this on his own, using a part of his new powers that he hasn't explained yet.  It takes his daughter to convince him otherwise.

So, who teleported Hiro-Kala out of his stone ship and why should we care?  I have no clue of the latter but I can answer the former.  It all goes back to an early adventure of the Hulk involving the sub-atomic planet of K'ai.  K'ai was the planet where Hulk achieved a level of happiness that he hadn't anywhere else up to that point in his life.  It was populated by a green-skinned people who accepted him.  One of those people even loved him.  Her name was Jarella.

This isn't her story.

This is the story of her planet and of her unnamed niece.  It would have been much more awesome if I had an actual name to this girl since she takes up a major position in this story, but... well, this isn't exactly a well put together issue.  It doesn't help you along at all and assumes you have all the answers.  Maybe you shouldn't have this many questions. 

Since the story doesn't give her a name yet, I'm gonna call her 'Latoya'.  I know it isn't anywhere near right but I've gotta call her something other than that 'blonde green skinned chick'.

Latoya looks to be in bad shape.  She worked so hard to summon the Hulk to planet K'ai and no Hulk is appearing.  That could be because the Hulk doesn't really EXIST right now.  Bruce Banner can't change into the Green Goliath so, technically, no Hulk.  That's not information that Latoya has, so she spends this time complaining to the dead wizard-dude who showed her how to do this spell.

Yeah, for someone who was really happy on K'ai, the people of the planet sure made an angry looking statue.  You might also notice a certain degree of destruction in that picture.  Clearly, something bad has happened.  Well, duh.  You don't usually summon yourself a Hulk unless you need him for something major.

As the camera pans out, we learn that the village is under attack by a creature known as the Psyklop.  The text over the top of this says that they are actually attacking the entire planet.  That might be above what even the Hulk could manage.  Latoya's not looking that happy for having to spell him here, anyway.

While we continue to pan out to get a view of the planet's horizon, we also notice that this world has been probed.  That probe belongs to Commander Arcturus Rann of the Micronauts because we needed Super to explain even more characters for this comic.

Oh, the Micronauts.  Marvel can't technically call them that because, while they own the characters, they don't own the name.  It was a toyline that Marvel decided to add to their continuity and then lapsed on the license.  When this team calls themselves anything, which is rare, they call themselves the Microns. 

Just to make things even more confusing, the first character we meet isn't even a recognizable member of the Micronauts.  It's a robot/cyborg dude named Carl.  As he mans the computers aboard the HMS Endeavor III, he overhears his teammates, Arcturus and Marionette, arguing.  It seems Marionette has been off-universe and isn't used to not having the comforts of the modern world at her fingertips.  Mostly, she just wants to check her email.  That's not possible in the microverse.  We also learn that Rann is dying and is searching for something that Marionette doubts exists.  The fight escalates to the point that Mari quits the team.

Which is a great beginning, right?  Carl's finished examining the date recieved from that probe and meets Mari before she's left the ship.  He convinces her to stay by mentioning that K'ai has been attacked by the Psyklop.  The two walk back to tell Arcturus about their find only to learn that the Commander already knows all this and is unwilling to commit to the mission at this time.  He brings up a lot of plausible reasons but Marionette isn't buying any of them.  She looks at Rann and asks him, "What-- has HAPPENED to you?"

Arcturus doesn't answer.  He just stares off into the distance and slowly removes his glasses.

Back on K'ai, the Psyklop have cornered Latoya and are about to do whatever Psyklop do to their victims.  Turns out that what they do is feed souls to their dark gods.  Since this is Fault related, it's possible that their "dark gods" are creatures within the Fault where "Life has won" and everything is like a big magic cancer monster. 

Before the Psyklop can manage any soul feeding, that angry statue of the Hulk explodes to reveal...


The Son of Hulk's men are tracking down Hiro-Kala as fast as they can.  They've still got power which means their leader has to be close (since he's the one powering the ship).  They chase him down to the planet K'ai... which you'd think would be harder considering it's sub-atomic in size.  I think we're just supposed to go with it.  Looking above the surface, they see the Psylop's attack ship.  It's huge and evil looking.  Axeman Bone's daughter doesn't like the look of this.

Back on K'ai, Hiro-Kala isn't able to mount a proper defense or offense before being attacked by the Psyklop.  They look into his mind and force out an image of what Hiro-Kala fears.  What they get is a vision of the future where Hiro-Kala ends up kissing a girl that looks a lot like Axeman Bone's daughter.  Man, I wish this book would give up names a bit easier.  There's nothing more awkward than saying "Axeman Bone's daughter" all the time to reference that red-skinned girl.

It turns out that Hiro-Kala doesn't fear the future so much as what he can't accomplish in that future.  What that has to do with kissing a red-skinned girl... I haven't a clue.  Maybe this mini-series will answer that question.  Maybe it'll even try to name some of these characters in the future.  Time will tell.

For now, Hiro-Kala has broken through the Psyklop's mind control and is not blasting heads off alien creatures.  While he's taking care of some ground forces, his stone ship crashes right through the Psyklop's starship.

In the confusion, Latoya is able to escape from Hiro-Kala's presence without getting paid much notice.  She still stays close enough to keep an eye on her savior, however.  Hiro-Kala might have noticed her flee.  He might just not care.  All he knows is that someone here was able to summon him and he's not sure if he wants to kill that someone for their presumptuousness or actually help this planet with it's Psyklop problem.

He might just leave the place to burn except for the fact that he can sense the Old Power close by.  It's not on the planet so much as around it.  Something about the "microscopic spiral path that wraps around the planet."  It makes as much sense as anything else in this comic.  While he's investigating the Old Power's source, he's being surrounded by Psyklop.

He blasts them all with a taste of his New Power.  This power is from his father and it's a destructive blast that these creatures would never have expected.  It seems to be seeking out the Psyklop and leaving anyone else on the streets this night unharmed.

Hiro-kala decides that he'll help this planet.  As the Psyklop's space ship smashes into the ground behind him, the Son of the Hulk decides that he might not have been the hero that this planet asked for but he's definitely the monster for the job.

There.  We're done with that.  It was sort of painful, wasn't it?

asm96.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #96
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Gil Kane

In this issue, Peter comes back from his British adventure without the girl.  Harry Osborn convinces Parker to take a job with his father's chemical company.  Peter goes in for an interview and lands a part-time job.  Spider-Man saves the life of a druggie.  Everyone attends Mary-Jane's first off-off-Broadway acting gig.  Randy Robertson raises Norman Osborn's blood pressure.  Ozzy finds himself drawn to the secret door.  Spidey chases Norman to that same door only to find himself too late.  The Green Goblin is back, baby!

This was my very first Spider-Man comic that I can ever remember reading so it's got some sentimental value attached to it.  It was part of a three issue collected set that I was somehow able to get a hold of.  This comic is the first part of the drug prevention storyline where Marvel had to remove that pesky Comics Code symbol from the Spidey books just to tell kids that drugs were bad.  The seventies were weird.

If you're looking for my personal benchmark for what a Spider-Man tale is all about?  This issue and the next two are it in a nutshell.  This is still what I think of when I read a Spider-Man tale.

Peter Parker just wasted a trip to London.  He went there to get back together with his ex, Gwen Stacy, who wound up in Great Britain after the death of her father and, according to Sins Past, to birth two children fathered by Norman Osborn.  From this point on, we're going to forget Sins Past ever happened because we should all just do that thing and get it over with.  It's a messed up story that makes Gwen's British trip more complicated than it needs to be.

Unfortunately for Peter, his trip to London ended up involving Spider-Man.  Since he believes that Gwen would immediately figure out he IS Spidey if they were both in London at the same time, Peter flies back without visiting his favorite girl.  That makes for one depressed Mr. Parker.

You know who Peter DOESN'T think will connect the dots between himself and his alter ego?  Robbie Robertson.  Peter got some nice shots of his Spidey fights in London and thinks getting some money for them is a great idea.  Robbie looks at the pictures for an uncomfortably long time which makes Parker second-guess his logic on handing them over to a newsman.  In the end, Robbie buys the shots for enough money to cover Peter's trip.  Well, at least it's breaking even!

After Parker has a night of brooding, it's back to the school grind at Empire State University.  One of the things I really like about this era's Peter Parker is that he has people in his life who genuinely like him.  Case in point?  Harry Osborn, Peter's best friend and roommate.  Harry pays all the bills on their apartment but thinks he's getting the better end of the deal with all the free tutoring he gets from Peter.  Say what you will about Brand New Day, bringing Harry back from the dead was a great idea.

Harry is currently dating Mary-Jane Watson.  You might know her.  In this comic, she's having her debut performance in an off-off-Broadway show and Harry's gathering up all his friends to make a party of it.  Peter's broke and doesn't really like freeloading off his best friend so he turns Harry down. 

This leads to talk of Peter's job prospects.  Harry's father, Norman Osborn (you might know him, too) has a long standing job offer available for Peter and Harry decides to take the decision out of Peter's hands and accept the job on his best friend's behalf.

This is a hard situation for Peter to deal with for multiple reasons. 

First, of course, is the fact that Peter's life as Spider-Man tends to get in the way of any regular job opportunities.  TODAY, that's used as WAY too much of a crutch to keep him working for peanuts selling photos to newspaper companies and living like a pauper.  Back then, the idea that Peter Parker might actually be able to get a regular job wasn't out of the realm of possibilities.  Heck, he was able to attend classes and get good grades in school without his Spider-identity getting in the way.  Getting a part-time job should be totally possible.

Second, Norman Osborn tends to become the Green Goblin every so often and, as the Green Goblin, Ozzy is the only super villain who knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker.  While Norman doesn't know who Spidey is when he's not flying around on a Goblin Glider due to some convenient amnesia, there's always that chance that things will snap back in place and Peter's first day on the job could end in a super-villain fight.

Peter decides to swing around town and think this through.  When all's said and done, he decides to take that job.  Spidey swings down to Osborn Industries and, switching to his civies, walks up to be interviewed by Norman Osborn.

Waiting for Norman, he overhears the senior Osborn getting a less-than-routine check-up done by his personal physician.  Norman's been through a lot lately and his mental issues have come to the surface in the past.  The doc is just here to check up on his blood pressure and make sure that Norman doesn't relapse into scary territory.  Norman gets a clean bill of health but is told to lay off any stressful situations... like, y'know, running a company?  That can't be the easiest job in the world but, apparently, it's not the stress that's worrying the doctor.  No, the doc is more worried about Norman's obsession with crime and Spider-Man.

For now, though, Ozzy looks good.  Now, he's just got to get through an interview with Peter Parker.  No stress there, right?

Osborn ends up offering Peter that job but tells Parker that, with him at school, he should submit a schedule so his time at Osborn Industries can work around college classes.  He seems to recognize Peter from something but can't put his finger on it... no matter he'll figure it out eventually.

Remember that theater show the Harry tried to invite Peter to?  Norman does the same but ups the ante.  Instead of just buying a ticket for Peter, he's planning on buying a ticket for everyone who attends.  Peter doesn't have much choice but to take advantage of his new employer's generous offer.

Peter's mood hasn't improved too much after that job offer.  He's not too happy to be treated like a charity case, after all.  He's also still bummed about his current situation with Gwen Stacy.  That'll be a theme for the next few issues so get used to it. Still, he's got a job offer and he got it based on his actual talent.  Steady pay is something he can look forward to.

While walking down the streets of New York City, who should he come across but his dear old Aunt May and her roommate, Mary-Jane's Aunt Anna.  The two are going to a showing of Hair.  Peter doesn't think this is Aunt appropriate material but he's happy to see May out enjoying life and looking healthy.

He leaves the two elderly ladies to their fun and keeps on walking.  Soon enough, he sees some police cars cruising past with their sirens blaring.  It's Spidey-Time!

I told you these were the "drugs are bad" issues, right?  This is the start of your lesson.  Those cop cars were racing to the scene of a potential roof jumper.  Turns out some drug fiend took enough of whatever (betting it's LSD) to believe he could fly.  Now he's on the roof to prove it to the world.  The police are sending people up but they'll never make it in time.  This druggie's gotta jump.

Which is why it's good to have a Spider-Man available.  He swings in a grabs the dude up before we have a very drug-heavy street pizza.  This guy isn't out of the woods yet, though.  Spidey brings him to the ground only to find that the druggie isn't breathing.  A police officer delivers some CPR and gets the man breathing.

Spidey swings away as the cops realize that he's still a wanted super hero.  Not that they're planning on making an arrest.  In their eyes, Spider-Man made good today.  He saved a life.  It's hard for them to arrest a man after that.  Especially a guy with super strength who'd just escape anyway.  This roof jumper, however?  His problems aren't over.  Sure, he's going to live the night but chances are he's a pretty bad addict already.  He'll probably just go back to using.

It's a big problem that comes to focus in Peter's mind and drives all his other issues to the sidelines.  He wishes there were something he could do to help this emerging war on drugs.  He sees the editorials that speak out against drugs but it doesn't seem to be doing much good. 

Before our comic gets too preachy, we switch scenes to Mary-Jane's showtime.  Peter's made it and has even dressed up in his best blue suit for the occasion.  This is better clothes than the stuff he wore to his meeting/interview with Norman earlier in the issue.

Now, Mary-Jane is technically Harry's girl but that's in the very technical sense.  MJ is more of a swinger than anything else and isn't really ready to settle down with one guy exclusively.  Poor Harry isn't paying attention to that noise though.  When Mary-Janes starts flirting with an unresponsive Peter Parker, Harry gets all shades of jealous.

To break up that tension, we'll get even more tension.  Randy Robertson shows up and tells everyone about Spider-Man's big save earlier.  The conversation gets into drugs are bad territory again but Randy is quick to blame people like Norman Osborn for not doing anything to stop it.  Norman claims that he doesn't have any power to stop drug abuse but that's not a good enough answer for Randy.  Ozzy's rich, after all.  He could use some of that money and influence to make a difference.  This whole debate is REALLY stressing Norman out which ISN'T GOOD.

Randy ends up dropping the argument and we all get inside to enjoy whatever show Mary-Jane is performing in.  It looks pretty... far out.  Kind of like there might be some drug abuse involved in it's creation.  Everyone enjoys themselves and, in particular, MJ's performance.

Quick fun fact!  Norman Osborn used to own this building before it was converted into a theater!  That's important because, at intermission, Norman notices a certain door and loses his cool.  Not only that but Peter's Spider-Sense starts chiming when he's focuses on the door.  It ruins both of their night as Norman isn't able to enjoy the rest of the show and Peter spends the whole thing paying more attention to Harry's dad than Mary-Jane.  Huh.  He might not want to let that get out or Gwen will never date him.

After the show, everyone congratulates MJ on a stellar performance.  Harry takes her out to celebrate, but Mary-Jane seems to be more concerned with where Peter is going than hanging out with the younger Osborn.  Peter knows that this relationship is basically doomed but also knows giving Harry a heads-up would do no good.  Huh.  Mary-Jane is bad for Harry Osborn?  Is that a subtle drugs are bad reference?

Peter, of course, is just as curious as Norman is about finding what's behind that special door.  Unfortunately, Peter wastes time putting on his Spider-suit while Norman just has to walk up and open the door.  Already, memories are flooding back into Norman's mind.  He's even got the key for this door in his pocket.

Spider-Man races to catch up to Osborn but it's already too late.  Behind the door is one of the Green Goblin's secret hideouts.  Norman is already suited up in his Goblin gear by the time Peter gets there.

asm97.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #97
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Gil Kane

In this issue, it's Spider-Man versus Green Goblin!  After a lengthy battle, Spidey fakes his death and escapes into the night.  He returns to his apartment and learns that Harry's time with Mary-Jane wasn't all that fun and Harry's also taking a heck of a lot of prescription medication.  The next day, Harry finds an actual dealer who gives him some hard stuff.  While Peter tries to search down the Green Goblin, Mary-Jane gives Harry the old heave-ho.  This leads to an argument between Harry and Peter and Peter and, when Peter leaves to continue his search for Green Goblin, Harry dips into those illegal narcotics.  Harry has a very bad trip, Peter comes home finding him in a bad way, and the Green Goblin shows up at their apartment.

The Goblin is back and is loaded for battle!  This is a bad deal all over the place.  Green Goblin is hard to fight on the best of days but Spidey finds his hands sort of tied since he knows that he's dealing with his best friend's dad who is also dealing with mental issues. 

Green Goblin sees this as fear instead of concern.  Either way, he takes full advantage, dropping off a hallucinogenic bomb and following it up with concussive blasts.  Green Goblin also earns points for being able to predict Peter's attack pattern.  Even with that Spider-Sense, Spider-Man isn't able to dodge all of these attacks. 

Spidey gets the upper hand for a moment by wrapping his legs around Gobby's head but he's still limited in the fact that he's trying to reason with a crazy man.  The Goblin gets Spider-Man to slacken his hold and delivers a sparkler ray for his efforts.

Spider-Man drops in a daze and only through sheer luck is he able to find a ledge.  He hides below it while he regains his bearings and before he can recover the Green Goblin has already flown away, believing his opponent dead.

Peter hits the streets and changes into his civilian clothes again.  He's pretty much lost in his own thoughts at this point.  His ex-girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, had a dad once.  Now that dad is dead no thanks to Spider-Man.  Here's his best friend's father, the one man who knows his secret identity, and he's got to go into battle with the guy.  Is there no father who is safe from Spider-Man's wrath?  Surrounded by images of Gwen, Peter resolves to win this one and stop thinking like a loser.

Peter gets home and gets ready for bed.  Not long after that, Harry comes home from his date with Mary-Jane.  It... didn't go well.  Harry's still smarting from all that flirting MJ was doing with his best friend.  Harry yells at Peter over the whole thing and leaves Peter to defend himself.  Parker isn't interested in Mary-Jane.  Harry knows that. 

This confrontation won't stand.  Harry isn't really all about talking this one out and tables the argument.  Now, he just needs something to take the edge off.  He goes for his cabinet where there are LOTS of prescription drugs inside.  We know that they're prescription or over the counter because Harry meets with his first drug dealer later in the issue.  Right now, he's just taking stuff to help him sleep.  To help him forget.  To help him make it through the day.

And he's not even counting the pills at this point.  It's pretty haphazard.  Harry passes out on his bed in moments leaving Peter to do what he does best.  Worry.

The next day, Mary-Jane meets up with Harry and Peter at ESU and she only has eyes for Aunt May's favorite nephew.  Peter does his best to turn her attention away from himself but MJ isn't buying it.  Harry's had enough of this and gets scarce.  Not scarce enough.

Harry's about to meet his very first drug dealer.  Drug Dealer sees Harry as an easy mark and capitalizes on Osborn's estrangement with his girlfriend.  It doesn't take much to convince the rich boy to accept his first illegal drug.  While telling the drug dealer that this is a one-time thing to get himself through this hard time, that drug dealer thinks differently.

Peter has business of his own to take care of.  He picks up the paper and sees that there's a lot of annonymous crime that happened last night that he can't help but pin on the Green Goblin.  He swings on over to Osborn Industries to find out if Norman has shown up for work.  Learning the Norman's been away for a while, Peter takes off, telling Osborn's receptionist that she doesn't have to bother her boss telling him that Peter was ever here.

It's not known whether Harry's used this time to use those narcotics that he got earlier in the day.  All we know is that he's feeling MUCH better when he meets up with MJ at the end of classes.  He decides to forgive Mary-Jane for her flirting ways but that just pisses MJ off.  Being the free spirit that she is, she cuts ties with Harry.

Harry heads home spoiling for a fight with Peter since this is obviously all Parker's fault.  The argument is hot and then immediately cold.  Harry realizes that it's not really Peter's fault and, again, stops talking about everything.  Peter thinks his friend needs time to himself and takes off.  Harry waits for him to leave and then he DOES take those illegal drugs of unknown origin.

Spider-Man swings around the city looking for any sign of the Green Goblin.  It's the quietest night for super crime ever.

Back at the Osborn/ Parker residence, Harry's trip has taken a turn for the worst.

Peter arrives home and sees that his best friend is not doing well.  Before he's able to dial 9-1-1, guess who shows up?

It's the Green Goblin and the villain is ready for a fight!

asm98.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #97
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Gil Kane

In this issue, Green Goblin has shown up to fight Peter Parker until he catches a good look at his son who is unconscious after a bad drug trip.  That makes the bad guy take off in fear... of remembering.  Peter calls in an ambulance and then hopes that his friend can get through this.  In Jolly Olde Englande, Gwen Stacy thinks about coming home.  Peter gets some revenge the drug dealers that supplied his best friend.  JJJ talks to Robbie Robertson about running a story on Harry Osborn's fall into drug abuse.  Spidey swings around the city and finally finds the Green Goblin.  During the fight, Spider-Man is bathed in a chemical that prevents him from sticking to walls and also runs out of webbing.  Spider-Man fakes the Goblin out, gets the villain caught in a choke hold, and then forces Gobby to fly to his son's hospital bedside.  The shock of seeing Harry in such bad shape causes the Goblin to go unconscious and Peter believes that the danger is over for now.  A job well done, Peter walks home and runs into Gwen Stacy for some special makeout time.

The Green Goblin is here!  It's game over!

But, of course, it's not.  While the Goblin claims to have a new weapon that will lead to Spider-Man's ultimate defeat, he'll never have a chance to actually use it in this confrontation.  He'll have to save it for later.

The Green Goblin does manage to crash through the window and enter the apartment but there's not going to be a fight tonight.  Peter's roommate and best friend, Harry Osborn, is unconscious due to a very bad drug trip and Peter doesn't have time to mess around fighting some dude in green tights. 

Instead, he lifts up Harry's body and gambles that part of Norman Osborn is still inside the Goblin and will prevent any harm befalling Harry or Peter.  The gamble pays off.  The Green Goblin leaves before he's forced to remember that he's actually the big Oz man.

With the threat gone, Peter is able to call in emergency workers and have Harry sent to the hospital.  Peter follows along but there's not much more he can do for his best friend.  His only hope is that this was Harry's first and only trip.  Maybe his best friend isn't an addict yet.  Unfortunately, Harry's got a cabinet of pills that leads us all to believe that there are underlying issues that'll need to be resolved before the younger Osborn gets cleaned up in any permanent way.

Peter isn't able to focus all his misery on his best friend.  Sooner or later, he has to think of his own problems and that leads him back to thoughts of Gwen Stacy.

It's interesting because, over in London, Gwen is thinking of him as well.  She's been staying with her aunt and uncle, Arthur and Nancy Stacy, but it feels like she's running from her problems... and running away from Peter.  She's got a lot of regrets right now and decides to try her best to make them right.

The next day, Peter's attending classes at ESU when he's approached by last issue's drug dealer.  Old Drug Dealer is looking to get some more narcotics to Harry.  Peter sees this as a perfect opportunity to let off some steam and maybe punish some people that had a hand in sending Harry to the hospital.

Drug Dealer's got friends but Peter's only real concern is hitting them too hard and blowing his secret identity.  He's got to fight them as Peter, after all.  Fortunately, these dudes believe that Peter's moves are karate or something so the big secret is totally safe.  Peter tells the drug dealer that he's not allowed to deal here anymore.  Normally, you'd think that kind of warning would have repurcussions for Parker later on.  He didn't have these guys arrested, after all.  They're out there and you'd think they'd have a grudge.  As far as I know, you never see them again.

Harry Osborn's situation is big news.  Rich man's son ends up in the hospital after a bad drug trip?  I think that'd end up in the papers even today... depending on what paper you're reading.  For the Daily Bugle, it's extra important because Norman Osborn is a big supporter of the paper.  JJJ calls Robbie Robertson into his office to talk about the story but what he sounds like he wants to do is pull the thing.

That doesn't sit well with Robbie and JJJ quickly backs down from that idea and gets to talking about how this story will be told.  He likes Robbie's angle (drugs are bad and affect you no matter what your walk of life) and tells his editor in chief to get those presses going.

By this point, we all know that drugs are bad and that you shouldn't do them because they're bad, mmmm'kay?  Let's get to the meat of this piece:  the final showdown with the Green Goblin.  For now, at least.

Spidey goes for a search around the city and eventually comes across the most Green of all Goblins.  This battle is all explosions and action.

The Green Goblin's explosive attacks lead Spider-Man right into a blast of vapor that permeates his suit and soaks into his skin.  He doesn't know it yet but he's just lost the abiltiy to stick to walls.  To compound that, he's also run out of webbing for his web shooters.

He spends the next few moments stumbling down the sides of buildings and scrambling for whatever handholds he can find.

What the Goblin wasn't able to do was rob Spider-Man of his super strength.  Because of that and a very acrobatic nature, Peter is still able to dodge and weave through Gobby's attacks.

The big question is what to do with the Green Goblin.  Things have to end decively because GG could always reveal Peter's identity to the world.  Peter's got an idea and decides to try it out.

Faking a fall off a building, Spidey waits for the Goblin to come check on him and then repeats his move from last issue where he wrapped his legs around Norman's neck.  This time, Peter's not going to ease off.  He's going to keep a tight grip and lead that Goblin all the way to the hospital to have a visit with his son.

The Green Goblin looks in the hospital window and sees the results of Harry's drug trip.  The younger Osborn is unconscious but otherwise looks stable.  It's still enough to provoke an emotional response from the Goblin.  Norman breaks into tears through his mask and looks like he really wants his son to be well again.

After that, Norman slips into unconsciousness.  Peter believes Osborn's madness has passed and returns the Green Goblin to his bed to sleep it off.  It looks like everything is back where it needs to be and that Peter's identity is safe for a little while longer.

Unfortunately, now that everything's gone quiet, Peter has more time to brood over his poor love life.  It's about time for him to catch a break.

Gwen Stacy has returned and has found Peter on the streets on New York.  The two run into each other's arms.  They kiss.

It looks like everything is going to be alright forever!

And that's how you write a Spider-Man story!

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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