Today, we check out Secret Warriors #8, Thunderbolts #136, Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #4, Dark Reign: The Hood #5, Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #3, and Blast to the Past for The Uncanny X-Men #'s 281-283. Enjoy and spread the word!
Alright. It's time to end of few Dark Reign mini-series and continue a pseudo crossover/ brief meeting.
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Let's check out that pseudo crossover thing:
Secret Warriors #8
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Allesandro Vitti
Last issue, the Caterpillars robbed a bank funded by Hydra. This caused Baron Von Strucker to contract out his hit on Fury to Norman Osborn. Back at Fury's secret base, Inside Straight, Nick gave the Caterpillars the night off and as little of their heist money as possible. Alex told Fury that "it's time", and Nick told Quake that he'll be gone for a while, and ordered the Caterpillars to go dark. Later on, Alex gave an ominous warning to JT about stealing money from Nick Fury before they recieved a scrambled message from Black Widow. They decided to answer it themselves. In Toronto, Nick met up with John Garrett for a special mission. Four hours later In New York City, Black Widow and Songbird joined up with Nick Fury for what they hoped was an extraction. Instead, they got the Thunderbolts.
In this issue, Nick Fury is beat up by Hawkeye, gets a lecture from Norman Osborn, and then gets shot in the head three times. The body falls to the ground, opens up, and out comes Ares' son, Phobos. The REAL Nick Fury is on stakeout with John Garrett and the two discuss this very important mission in vague details. Eden and JT are watching for signs of Phobos from a building across the street from Yankee Stadium when things start exploding. The two steal themselves some HAMMER uniforms and get the drop on Ares and Hawkeye and Norman Osborn has a little chat with Alexander. Ozzy gets a blast of fear power before all three Caterpillars escape with a little help from Ares. In Inside Straight, Daisy gets a look at Yo-Yo's new robot hands before all the alarms start going off. Alex, JT, and Eden are on their way back inside with a platoon of HAMMER Agents in their way.
This issue follows up on events from Thunderbolts #135. At the end of that issue, Norman Osborn shot Nick Fury right in the head three times. We're going to rewind to right before that incident and relive the event with a slightly different perspective.
Before Nick got shot in the head, he got beat to hell by Hawkeye while HAMMER Agents held the super spy back. While that's going on, Black Widow and Songbird are led away by the T-Bolts. Their fate will be revealed in that comic. Here, we're going to see what's going on with Mr. Fury. After his beating, Norman Osborn begins pontificating all about "how the world is." This is a little hilarious because Nick Fury has been around a lot longer and probably has the most set in stone world view out of any Marvel Character.
The crux of this whole world view is a secret that he reveals only to Nick Fury.
In a whisper, Normans says, "The bad guys always win."
Nick responds back, "You better not miss."
And then, three bullets in the head.
Nick Fury falls to the ground. Ares isn't too happy about that. Nick was his only lead on the wherabouts of his son and he had a deal with Norman about not killing the super spy until the location of Alexander was found (if I were to guess when Dark Avengers #9 happens in relation to this issue, I'd say AFTER). Norman tells his god of war that he'll do everything in his power to help Ares locate his kid but sometimes you just gotta kill World War II veterans.
Except no senior citizens were killed in this issue. The Nick Fury LMD that Ozzy shot in the head starts unfolding to reveal it's pilot: Alexander. Ares's son, the god of fear, Phobos.
So, where's the actual Nick Fury? We're gonna go with the dude hanging out in Alexandria, Virginia. I guess this guy could turn out to be an LMD, too.
Nick's on stakeout right now with an old acquaintance, John Garrett. Garrett is, like, ninety percent robot. The two of them are looking into the dealings of a Mr. Seth Waters. While you might have heard of Garrett from his earlier appearances in Elektra: Assassin and Daredevil, you probably don't know Seth Waters. He's made one previous appearance in Cable #60 which means Hickman has REALLY been doing his homework. Waters is a minor league former SHIELD Agent who got a job with the Department of the Treasury after SHIELD was disbanded. Mostly because his wife had connections.
So what does this have to do with Nick Fury? What horrible secrets does Seth Waters hold that might change the nature of the game? You'll have to wait a bit longer to find that out. For now, Fury is bickering about cream cheese on his bagel and getting chewed out by Garrett for not actually eating bagels in the first place. After that, Nick tells John that the cyborg spy has a meeting with Seth Waters in the afternoon. Nick wants to know if Waters is Hydra. Garrett doesn't think this is about Hydra at all and asks if this is "the OLDER thing."
Yeah. It's probably that.
Let's head back to New York City and right to Yankee Stadium. Word to the outsider: Yankee Stadium is host to one of Nick Fury's secret bases: #20. Home Run. It was the meeting ground for the Black Widow, Songbird, and that fake LMD Nick Fury. We're not going to head inside to get that father/son meeting you're looking for just yet. Right now, we're going to stay outside and get a look at Phobos' back up.
Eden Fesi and Hellfire. JT was with Alex when they intercepted that coded message from Black Widow last issue. Looks like they pulled in Eden for this mission. They're on watch duty on the roof across the street from Yankee Stadium. Eden seems worried but they don't know that things inside have gone horribly wrong. Hellfire tells Eden to calm down and just wait for Phobos to come out with the two girls. It's not like they're going to see much out here on the roof.
Which is when the side of the stadium explodes and the place starts swarming with HAMMER Agents on modified goblin gliders.
Someone has to come up with a plan and... it's gonna be JT. They steal two HAMMER Agents' uniforms, reenact a scene from Star Wars, and then get to the rescue. Our two Caterpillars get the drop on a few HAMMER Agents before putting their guns to the heads of Ares and Hawkeye. Odds are pretty good that those guns won't do them much good but Phobos is about to provide them with a distraction all his own.
Ares has let on that this kid is his son. Norman finally gets that thought in his head and realizes that all three of these kids are part of Nick Fury's group. Ozzy kneels down and offers the youngest Secret Warrior some toys for a little information on Nick Fury. Alex isn't about to give up his boss and this conversation quickly goes down hill.
Yeah, that's a little fear power being used right there. Alex has a little prophecy mixed in with his power set and he reveals that, if Norman pursues the Secret Warriors, the former Green Goblin will fall from grace that much sooner. Just the way he's talking to Norman Osborn is filling his dad with pride.
Remember how useless I'd say those guns would be? They totally are. Hawkeye basically just has to turn around to disarm Eden. Only Ares is able to hold off the Dark Avenger from ending a few peoples' lives. It turns out that the god of war is proud of his son and is allowing the three to escape. He also tells them that he will be on their trail with a vengence. They have one minute.
The recovering Norman Osborn is... pretty pissed off. He's angry at what he went through and even more angry that his god of war let them go. Now, they're gonna have to die.
While those three are running for their lives, let's head inside the Inside Straight, Nick Fury Secret Base #17 and current residence to his Secret Warriors. Daisy and Sebastian (Quake and Druid) are heading into the infirmary to check up on their teammate, Yo-Yo (Slingshot). Slingshot got her arms cut off a few issues ago by the Gorgon and has just now been outfitted with her very own robot arms. She's still getting used to them with her other teammate, Jerry (Stonewall).
Yo-Yo is ready to get back on the field and start doing some work. After a bit of arguing, Daisy relents but only after Yo-Yo gets one last physical to make sure everything is copacetic. They're not really going to get the chance to do one more physical.
Alarms start blaring. Their three teammates are re-entering the base and they are being hotly pursued by Iron Patriot, Ares, Hawkeye, and a platoon of HAMMER Agents.
Fury being Fury, he's programmed the base to self-destruct if it's been discovered by hostiles. Our team has five minutes to get out of there before everything gets explody.
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artists: Pop Mahn & Carlos Rodriguez
Last issue, Natasha and Melissa continued their escape from the T-Bolts but were quickly beset by Mister X. Mister X did his whole unbeatable shtick until he ate Songbird's sonic blast and dropped. The rest of the Thunderbolts weren't close enough to give aid as Scourge had ordered them to maintain their position and had only sent out Ant-Man on an unspecified mission. Mister X wasn't all about following that order and neither was Ghost. The ethereal villain located Black Widow and Songbird and called everyone to his position. He just neglected to tell his teammates that he'd set up false GPS coordinates very far away from his actual position. He'd given the two heroes a nice headstart. Natasha had time to contact Nick Fury, setting up a meeting with him three days later at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, they had been tailed by Ant-Man. They met up with Fury seconds before the Thunderbolts attacked them. The three were captured and knocked unconscious. Later, they woke up to Norman Osborn's smiling face. Norman wanted Captain America's location from Natasha. He showed her evidence that the entire time she was playing Yelena Belova for Fury, she was actually working for Norman DISGUISED as Nick Fury. While Black Widow was to be taken alive, Songbird was to be beheaded. Nick Fury.... ah, Nicky. Norman shot him in the head three times.
In this issue, Headsman gets ready to behead Songbird while Mister X forces Black Widow to watch. What actually happens is that Headsman strikes Scourge in the abdomen with his axe and we all learn that Scourge's a cyborg. The T-Bolts choose sides and start fighting among themselves as Natasha and Melissa escape. Scourge is finally taken down by Paladin but no one is capable of besting Mister X until Ghost shows up and phases through his brain. The "good" T-Bolts plan on running away until Ghost convinces them to stay on and alter Scourge and Mister X's memories so that they don't know about this betrayal. Songbird and Black Widow continue their escape, stealing an armored truck from HAMMER and making it to the Washington Bridge before getting blown off the road by an attacking helicopter. MACH... V... comes in for the rescue while the Fixer takes care of that pursuing chopper. In the aftermath, Norman Osborn has a word with the new commander of the Thunderbolts and we find out that Scourge is actually Nuke. Finally, we get an image of Norman Osborn musing about bringing back the REAL Yelena Belova.
This issue takes place at about the same time as Secret Warriors #8. Songbird is still gonna get an axe through her head while Black Widow is still going to be taken alive. Which is interesting because this is the THIRD instance where Black Widow has been captured by Norman Osborn during Dark Reign. The first time was over in Captain America: Reborn #2. The second was in The Invincible Iron Man #17. This is number three right here. Natasha Romanova: easy to capture, hard to keep.
They're still in Nick Fury's secret base underneath Yankee Stadium, Homerun, but they've left Norman Osborn, Ares, Hawkeye, and the platoon of HAMMER Agents to deliver Black Widow over to HAMMER's Interrogators and to cut off Songbird's head and have it custom delivered back to Norman Osborn. Scourge figures the man to cut off heads is probably the guy calling himself "Headsman" who holds onto that big axe. Mister X decides that forcing Natasha to watch is super awesome.
Not everyone is very happy about this plan. Headsman, for one, isn't really down with cutting off Songbird's head. Paladin is even less pleased. He's worked for the good guys and has his own sense of honor. Killing in cold blood like this isn't honorable at all. Paladin tries to get Ant-Man to back him up since the two seem to have bonded in their time as T-Bolts but O'Grady doesn't want to make any waves. Scourge isn't moved by anything Pally says and repeats his order to execute the prisoner.
Headsman decides to go for broke. Mister X, who can read the surface of people's minds, sees where this is going and decides to let it pay off.
Instead of chopping Melissa Gold's head off, Headsman swerves at the last minute and strikes Scourge right in the stomach. The blow would kill a normal man but it turns out that whoever's wearing the Scourge moniker isn't normal at all. He's a cyborg.
The battle begins: Headsman and Paladin vs. Scourge and Mister X. Paladin frees Black Widow early in the battle but he's not going to get back up from her. She and Melissa just start running even though Songbird feels really bad about it.
Mister X keeps being the snotty bastard he always is, pinning Paladin to the wall with his sword and then thinking he's all bad @$$. Headsman keeps his advantage with that axe of his, cutting off one of Scourge's hands before Scourge actually starts fighting back. At that point, Headsman is swatted around pretty easily.
Before Scourge can kill Headsman with his own axe, Paladin unloads his weapon into Scourge's back. That takes Scourge out of the fight but we're left with Paladin still pinned to the wall with an empty gun and Headsman unarmed and still recovering from the beating he just recieved from Scourge. And look at Mister X. He's all smug and taking his time figuring out how he'll deal with this. Oh, there's going to be killing. That's all Mister X is certain about.
He takes Paladin's gun away but isn't all that concerned with ending the merc's life. X is more interested in killing Headsman. Headsman, for his part, rises to his feet and gets ready to face his end like a man.
Except we all know this isn't the end. I'm not saying Headsman's got a lot of years ahead of him but he's not dying today. The thing is, he knows something Mister X doesn't and that little thing is a gamechanger for this battle. Mister X doesnt' think so. His low level telepathy allows him to predict and counter any attack. There's nothing Headsman has that could change that.
Except, it turns out, Ghost is unreadable while being intangible. He returns to the battle just in time to zap Mister X unconscious. Yes. That was satisfying.
Ghost helps Paladin get unpinned by phasing his teammate through the sword. It looks like the "good" Thunderbolts have won this one but, in victory, they've ruined their sweet gig. They're going to have to go on the run after this. Norman will never forgive them. It's Ghost who convinces them to stay.
The blast he hit Mister X with is an electro-convulsive shock. Not only did it take X out of the fight in a very satisfying way but it also erased his short term memory. That means Mister X doesn't remember that half the team betrayed the other half. After similarly shocking Scourge, there's no one around who could give them away.
Well, except for Ant-Man. You might have noticed that he was conspicuously absent during the fight. He was actually hiding in a vent. O'Grady never DID take a side and now he wonders what HE should do.
Melissa Gold and Natasha Romanova aren't out of the woods just yet. They've escaped the Thunderbolts but they are still in an area swarming with HAMMER Agents. They emerge from a manhole and decide that the best way out of this is to make a LOT of noise.
Which is why stealing a HAMMER armored car sounds like a great idea. They break through HAMMER's defensive perimeter and on to the streets of New York City.
Unfortunately, being loud also means getting a lot of notice. A HAMMER helicopter trails them and fires a missile right at the armored car just as it's passing over the George Washington Bridge. No, not the former SHIELD Agent. The actual bridge... though the current Marvel Character, GW Bridge, is probably wide enough to drive an armored car over...
The car takes the hit and smashes through the outer railing of the bridge. The car dangles precariously as the HAMMER Chopper sets up it's next shot. They are complete sitting ducks.
Which is when Songbird tells Black Widow to jump out of the car. This would normally not be the thing to do. You don't dive off the George Washington and expect to live to tell the tale. Still, staying inside the car is certain death. The two jump moments before the car explodes above them.
Fortunately, Mel's got friends who can help them out of this jam.
That's right! MACH V! You won't hear that name in the actual comic because... well, Marvel would probably get sued by the Speed Racer people. Still, this is the fifth version of the MACH armor. You won't see it for long so enjoy the look.
There's still that helicopter to deal with and MACH V has his hands full at the moment. It's a good thing that the Fixer decided to help out as well. The helicopter shuts down in mid air and crashes into the bridge. That poor bridge. I'm wondering how many innocent drivers and passengers died during this mission.
Later on, Melissa, Natasha, Abe and Fixer meet up in a secret location. Thanks are given but Abe figures he did what he had to do. It's the Fixer who should really be thanked because it was that guy that took some convincing to help out.
Natasha is grateful for the help but needs to get moving on. Osborn is still in power, after all, and she's got to make sure that Nick Fury's sacrifice was worth it.
Oh yeah, that's right. These two never learned that the Nick Fury they met up with was just an LMD with a Secret Warrior inside. Fixer fills them in on the details and Black Widow smiles. Fury isn't dead. Looks like things aren't as bad as they seemed.
Scourge's first mission as T-Bolts leader could have gone better. Norman chews him out in Avengers Tower for losing both Black Widow and Songbird. Of course, these two don't know how they ACTUALLY lost the two super heroines but the cover story doesn't paint a prettier picture than the truth. Scourge is more concerned about the code name he's using. It's not who he is, after all. Norman asks if he wants to serve his country and Scourge, removing his mask, replies in the affirmative.
And we get a good look at Scourge. It turns out he's actually a villain named Nuke. You might remember him from his stints over in Daredevil or, more recently, Wolverine: Origins. Either way, Nuke's a messed up individual who you probably don't put in charge of your black ops team unless you're crazy. Norman is, so there ya go.
But maybe, just maybe, Scourge isn't the right person to lead the Thunderbolts. Maybe Scourge will have to take a demotion and serve under...
The REAL Yelena Belova: Black Widow III!
That's right, Norman has the real deal sealed up in one of those glass tubes used for sci fi purposes. He removes the glass and we wait for Belova to revive.
We're gonna wait a LONG time. This is Andy Diggle's last issue of the Thunderbolts and this thread isn't actually picked up on by the new writer. Heck, there are a lot of things that don't exactly carry over. I'm still hoping that the original team members that appeared in this issue show up again someday...
Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #4
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencilers: Chris Bachalo w/ Rob Disalvo
Last issue, the gang war between the Rolling Sevens and the Park Avenue Players heated up because Mac Gargan, the Sinister Spider-Man, was working the angles to make sure it kept escalating. Mac left a partially-digested rabid squirrel as a gift for Dexter Bennet. J Jonah Jameson expressed his hatred for Dark Spidey and the fact that the gang war had been getting worse instead of better since Gargan got on the job. Jameson yelled at him, and pretty much had him ready to leave before Police Chief Ibanez begged him to investigate a particular case where the perps were demanding an audience with Spider-Man. Spidey got into a fight with the Redeemer and his entourage, easily besting them and eating a couple more limbs in the process. As the Redeemer plotted his vengeance for losing his arms and legs, Mayor Jameson got photographic proof that Gargan was working to escalate the gang violence.
This issue, we flashback to find out why the Sinister Spider-Man has a poodle in his eye and corndogs in his torso while being attacked by Dementoid, Bullseye, and Daken. Mayor Jameson shows Norman Osborn some incriminating photos of Venom meeting with gang members. Mac Gargan meets the contestants in the Miss Big Apple Contest and... probably eats them. The Redeemer and his cohorts hit the Big Apple Fest and have a meeting with the leaders of the Rolling Sevens and the Park Avenue Players and not only get the gangs to truce eachother but also let them know that they were being played by Spider-Man. J Jonah Jameson finds the clothing from his dearly departed Miss Big Apple Contestants and has NO CLUE what could have happened to them. Venom poses for a crowd and upstages JJJ before getting into a fight with Bullseye and Daken. Bullseye is the guy throwing poodles and corndogs. The super villains are joined by the two rival gangs and, then, Dementoid. Spider-Man gets the upperhand on everyone and the fight is over by the time Jameson starts firing a shotgun. Redeemer admits that he sent two gangs after Spider-Man and that gets him arrested. Mac confronts Norman Osborn and enjoys a day on the streets with some ladies he'll most likely eat later on.
Hey, look! It's massive craziness! One of the things Brian Reed told us during the Outhouse Podcast interview was that he loved working with Chris Bachalo because the dude could draw any craziness Reed put on paper. It became a challenge for him to try and find something that Bachalo would find trouble drawing. This explains why we begin this issue with the Sinister Spider-Man freaking out. He's got a poodle in one eye, corndogs stabbed into his body wherever there's room, Bullseye and Daken are attacking him. Dementoid is joining in. Gang members are firing bullets. It's mass hysteria.
And we all wanna know how it got that way, right?
Of course you do.
Let's move things back a few hours and lead up to that crazy moment from the first splashpage. Last issue, JJJ get his hands on some photos that implicated that Spider-Man has been working with two rival New York gangs who have made the streets of the city pretty unsafe. The jolly mayor of NYC decides to bring these photos straight to the man in charge: Norman Osborn, savior of the free world and a snappy dresser to boot. Norman assures JJJ that his Spider-Man must be innocent of these charges but he'll ask him and take him at his word. Osborn trusts Spider-Man implicitly, after all.
Jonah doesn't like how that went down and leaves in a huff. Norman makes a call to two of his Dark Avengers, Hawkeye and Wolverine, and asks that they bring their super villain suits up with them. He then calls up Ms. Hand and asks for a list of replacement Spider-Men. Looks like trust only goes so far.
And, yes, at the bottom of the page you see our star, the Sinister Spidey, webbing his way through the city carrying a trio of young ladies with him.
A little while later, we see Mac Gargan (that's Spider-Man AKA Venom just in case you're just tuning in) lounging around in one of the tents surrounded by pretty girls. They all think he's judging the Miss Big Apple Contest and, since they're contestants, they're trying to make a good impression. Gargan asks them to show him their talent.
And then he eats them. Don't believe me? Turn the page. It's subtle and is filled in later but behind the actual panels is Venom at his most savage.
The Dark Spidey isn't the only cast member that's showed up for the Big Apple Festival. The Redeemer, General Wolfram, and Dementoid have also shown up. They're all missing a limb with the Redeemer suffering the most. He's lost all four of his limbs. That doesn't mean his mission has changed. He still wants to... "help" Spider-Man. His definition of help is not all that helpful, though.
Redeemer is here to meet up with the leaders of the two rival gangs in New York: the Rolling Sevens and the Park Avenue Players. Redeemer has sent both gangs evidence on how they were played by Spider-Man and both sides are happy to accept a truce. After all, all this fighting is bad for business. That done, they decide that this kind of festival is too good to waste. They get in line for the Tilt-A-Whirl.
The Tilt-A-Whirl is awesome, by the way. You should never ignore it for more flashy rides.
This whole festival is J Jonah Jameson's idea but things just aren't going as he planned them. Where are those girls that were supposed to be competing in the Miss Big Apple Contest? All Jonah can find are their clothes... or to be more precise, their underwear. It seems like the musical entertainment is also a no-show. It's like someone's trying to ruin this for him.
Wonder who that could be...
JJJ goes up on stage to warm up the crowd and finds that he's not who they want to see at all. When Spider-Man shows up, the crowd goes wild. Gargan even ends up with panties being thrown up on stage. It's good to be Spidey!
In the back of the crowd, Bullseye and Daken are getting ready for their part of the show. Daken's "supervillain costume" is apparently a pair of jeans. Bullseye is more super villainy in his costume but decides that, instead of his normal weapons, he's going to throw a poodle.
Now, readers of Dark Wolverine might be wondering why these two seem to be getting along so well. Daken has been playing some major headgames with Bullseye over the course of that comic and the two being so chummy in this one seems to be a massive error. There are a few explanations that might work.
1. Maybe taking out Venom is something they both can agree on.
2. Maybe they're just being professionals.
3. Maybe this takes place BEFORE Daken's manipulations. You'll see that Daken doesn't have that coated third claw yet which means this issue takes place before the Dark Reign issues of Wolverine: Origins. That puts it back quite a bit in time.
4. Maybe it doesn't matter too much and we should just go with it.
Anyway, Bullseye throws that dog and it hits Mac right in his left eye. Daken follows that up with some up-close-and-personal claw work. The leaders of the Rolling Sevens and the Park Avenue Players see this fight and notice that Spider-Man is a key player. Since they're sort of mad at the Dark Avenger right now, they decide it's time for payback.
Up on stage, Bullseye tells Mac that they were sent in to kill him. This mission is totally authorized by Norman Osborn. Venom throws his teammate off the stage and into a corn dog stand. That just gives the assassin more unusual items to throw.
And, yeah, the crowd doesn't seem to be aware that this is anything less than a stage show.
Dementoid? He sees what's going on and decides that it's a party he just has to be a part of. Redeemer isn't so happy. He doesn't want Spider-Man killed, he wants Spidey HELPED in his own sick, twisted way.
And that leads us right up to that splash page at the start of the issue.
This is the moment where Mac Gargan decides he's been pushed far enough and, turning around, starts kicking some tail feathers. Guns are eaten. Daken is thrown into a nearby building. Gang members are beaten up. So's Dementoid. Bullseye is knocked out.
Mayor J Jonah Jameson is the one to end this fight with a blast of a shotgun.
Chief Ibanez looks around and sees that Spider-Man not only captured the assassin known as Bullseye but also ended up taking down the leaders of the Rolling Sevens and the Park Avenue Players. With some help from JJJ. He raises both of their hands in the air and announces that they are both heroes.
The crowd goes wild.
As you can imagine, Jolly Jonah forgets all about those photos of Spider-Man and gets sucked up in the adulation of the audience.
One guy isn't sucking up that adulation: The Redeemer. Sometime during the battle, he was left to lie on the ground without anyone to help him around. Things definitely didn't go his way and he's not very happy about it.
Venom finally removes that poodle from his eye (it's still alive, too) and walk over to listen to the Redeemer rant. Redeemer starts shouting that Sinister Spider-Man isn't a hero but Gargan points to the cheering crowd for an alternative opinion. Chief Ibanez walks up just in time to hear Redeemer unload his master plan on the two of them. It includes a confession that he sent the leaders of the two rival gangs here to deal with Spider-Man. It looks like the Redeemer's going to find himself in jail.
Chief Ibanez shakes Spider-Man's hand. This is the kind of super hero the city needs, after all.
A couple days later, Venom is hanging out in Avengers Tower when he gets a talk from Norman Osborn. Ozzy tells Gargan that Daken and Bullseye are back. You knew that Bullseye wouldn't be resting in jail for long. Mac asks Norman why he sicced the two Dark Avengers on him and Ozzy responds that Venom was causing far more trouble than he should have been. Spider-Man tells the former Green Goblin that he's learned his lesson.
Next time he starts eating someone, he's going to finish them off.
For now, he has a date. Yeah, it's three girls again. It's good to be Spider-Man.
I bet he eats the girls. :)
Dark Reign: The Hood #5
Writer: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Kyle Hotz
Last issue, the Hood's super gang discussed their trust issue before engaging in a super heist for super technology. Parker had another family moment as White Fang watched him from across the street. Creepy. Parker showed his family their new house in Forest Hills before seeing Dormammu in the mirror and deciding he needed to figure this demon thing out and soon. He got to his super hideout to find that Satanna had already moved in with the help of some mind-controlled flunkies. He discussed his current situation with Satanna, while we cut away to Brooklyn where White Fang was meeting with Parker's family. Hood told his crew that their next target was Force, who needed some cutting down after the super hero jailed a few of his crew the other day. They put together a plan and we cut to later on when Force and the NYPD were doing their best to apprehend the Shocker. The Hood and his Syndicate showed up and even the odds until White Fang appeared and showed Parker a hologram of his girl and his daughter. It just got real.
In this issue, White Fang keeps smashing the Hood around the battlefield while showing him pictures of his family. Force has the rest of the Hood's gang well in hand before the Controller arrives with reinforcements. Parker is saved because of a passing airliner picking White Fang up off the ground and taking her for a little ride on the wind currents. Everyone cuts out. Hood steals a police car to go check on his family and eventually finds them at their new place in Forest Hills. Force meets White Fang and they capture the one Syndicate member everyone else forgot about: Scorcher. The Hood goes to visit his mom and finds that she's back to being full time crazy again. He then has an angry conversation with his cousin, John King and kicks the dude out of his SUV. Dormammu speaks to him through his baby daughter which makes him shake her around. That gets him kicked out of his new home permanently. The Hood picks up the Scorcher and learns that Force has called him out. He accepts the challenge.The Controller burns up his demon possessed cloak but Parker just ends up recreating it out of the flames. Hood easily bests Force and then makes a deal with White Fang so that she never bothers his family ever again. Controller is dealt with. John King is sent to Florida. The Hood is left all alone.
Newark Airport probably isn't the most ideal place to have a super powered throwdown but you do what you gotta do. Right now, the Hood has to panic. White Fang is super charged. He's not wearing his actual cloak. His opponent keeps showing him pictures of his family. It's not a great day to be Parker Robins.
Their fight ends up on a runway which will be important a bit later. Right now, she's getting a lot of her chest just by smacking him around and yelling at him.
The Hood's crew is back up and ready for action but Force rallies a lot faster. He's able to renew his attack and keep the bad guys pinned down. They won't be able to aid their boss out and that means the Hood's on his own.
White Fang continues to kick the crap out of the Hood. She's happy to find out he has a family. Killing Parker would have been too quick. Killing his family at a time and place of her own choosing... that's where it's at. She taunts Parker with this but it's nothing that the Hood doesn't think about all the time.
The police are taking the Hood's Syndicate into custody. They don't know who came out to assist them but the Force has already taken a fancy to her. The battle, however, isn't over yet.
Force has been holding Piledriver in check with his forceblasts. That's about to change. The Controller has shown up and he's brought reinforcements with him. Thunderball swings his wrecking ball around and knocks Force out. The superhero got the better part of the deal than his fellow officer whose head explodes. Brains everywhere.
Back at the White Fang/Hood fight, we're going to learn what overconfidence gets you. Since we know that White Fang isn't going to do any killing today, we know that the Hood is going to walk away. White Fang isn't done talking down to him yet, though, so she completely misses the airliner taking off behind her. She's picked up by the wind and thrown quite a ways a way. The Hood was hugging the ground and is spared.
The Controller wants to take these cops back with him to experiment on but John King protests. That's not part of the rules. Police officers aren't to be killed or captured. Controller believes that the Hood is off the playing field and is about to take them anyway when Parker shows up. He tells them all to meet back at Base Three and then takes off in a police car. Controller uses the opportunity to undermine the Hood's leadership as they all drive off.
Force struggles back to consciousness. This fight's lost. Obviously. His helmet's pretty badly dented from Thunderball's attack, too. White Fang shows up to help him to his feet. She apologizes for not being more help but there's no real need. Force and the police haven't been able to do much better. She's also located the weakest link to the Syndicate. Their leader. That's something they can use.
They find one member of the Syndicate that wasn't able to make a getaway. Scorcher. It's time to make him a messenger.
Parker races home only to find it empty. That's a panic moment right there. He calls his girlfriend's cell phone to learn that Sara and Bree are spending the night at their new place in Forest Hills. Crisis averted. For now.
Things are less rosy later on when Parker visits his mother. She's back to being out of her mind again. It's a sad moment in the life of the Hood. On his way out of the sanitarium, he meets up with his cousin, John King. They've got some talking to do.
John King is an alcoholic. He keeps saying that he's cleaned up his act but he's still drinking and, when he's drunk, he reveals more than he should... like who Parker's family is, for example. Where they can be located.
Which is when he realizes that he's driving to his new place. He kicks John out of the car so that King doesn't know where his family is staying. Better safe than sorry.
Parker finds his family adjusting nicely to their new home. He's lost in his own thoughts when Dormammu starts speaking to him again. This time, he's using Parker's kid, Bree, to do the talking but only Parker can see this. That means that Sara is going to freak out when she finds her boyfriend holding up their baby and shaking it saying stuff like,"You GET OUT OF HER!!! GET OUT!!!"
Needless to say, Parker gets kicked out of his brand new home. Odds are pretty good that he's not going back.
He drives back and picks up John on the way to Base Three. They're going to take a little detour first. King just got a call from the Scorcher.
At Base Three, there's a lot of talk going on.
Most of it is actually centered on how good a leader the Hood is. It's a common concern that is followed up on in most Syndicate issues of New Avengers.
The Hood shows up with the Scorcher in tow. Scorch is messed up in a bad way. Force did this to send a message. The other part of the message is for the Hood to meet him for a one on one fight with everybody else showing up to watch. Force's thought is that, if he beats the big boss, the rest of the gang shatters. House of cards stuff. The Hood feels like he has no choice but to go and ask John King to get his bag.
Of course, the Hood's gang all shows up. They aren't going to miss something like this. Force has his own backup but they all agree that no one else gets involved unless someone else gets involved. With that, Parker asks John to open the bag and hand him his cloak.
It's not in John's bag. It turns out that the Controller has it. Before everyone, the Controller sets it on fire. He wants to see what the Hood can come up with on his own. The Hood's gang isn't all that impressed by the Controller's actions. Neither is the Hood.
Parker approaches the Controller in a rage. His eyes and mouth light up. He grabs the Controller by the neck and tosses him at Force. Flames whip around him, creating a cloak.
White Fang steps up to defend her new man but the Hood knows exactly how to deal with this. He grabs Force and goes for the deal. If White Fang gives up her vendetta against him, he'll let Force live. Time's a wastin'.
The Police consider mounting a rescue attempt but realize just how outnumbered they are and decide against it. White Fang comes to the same conclusion and agrees. Man, she fell for Force damn quickly. The Hood hands Force back over to White Fang and tells her that if she pursues him again, he'll take out his rage on Force.
Now, it's time to deal with that one bad apple in his gang: Controller. There's no killing happening here. Parker decides that Controller is to valuable alive. He just needs to be reigned in. Wizard attaches a slave disc to the hapless villain and the Hood now has a perfect subordinate.
The Police team almost decides to try this fight anyway but, this time, White Fang stops them. They DID have a deal, after all.
The Hood tells his crew to go into hiding for a day or two and then report back to base three. Satanna shows up to tell us what we already knew: It wasn't the cloak anymore. The power was inside him. He's already possessed by Dormammu. The Hood still decides that keeping Satanna on is a good business decision.
And with the full time hiring of Satanna, he needs to let someone go: John King. There's no way out of this. King needs to go away for a while for what he almost did to the Syndicate.
In Key Largo, Florida, John King enjoys his semi-retirement. He's certainly not getting anymore sober, that's for sure. As he explains to another criminal in hiding, sending King away was probably harder on Parker than it was on John. John King was the only guy who Parker could completely confide in because he already knew it all. Now, Parker has no one.
To bring that point home, we see the Hood looking in the window on the lives of his ex-girlfriend and their kid. Looks like he's not going home.
Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #3
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Last issue, the Lethal Legion's lawyer, Mr. Livingston, interviewed possibly the most famous member of the Legion: the ex-Avenger, Wonder Man. Wonder Man told Livingston what led to him joining his brother in the Lethal Legion and more on their plan to capture Norman Osborn. Absorbing Man was next on the list of clients and recalls their fight against the Dark Avengers and how they were able to capture Osborn. On his way to his next client, Livingston found out that Eric Williams, the Grim Reaper, was dead.
In this issue, Mr. Livingston meets up with Mr. Hyde and learns that Hyde and Nekra had a thing going on for a bit. Hyde also tells him that, after the Legion kidnapped Norman Osborn, he tried to beat the crap out of Ozzy only to be stopped by Grim Reaper. Nekra tells the next part of the story, about how Wonder Man and Grim Reaper both started beating the snot out of Mr. Hyde before they learned that Norman Osborn had escaped. Grey Gargoyle, the only one that wasn't around for this whole thing, lets Livingston in on why he wasn't there. He was trying to sell the Lethal Legion out to the Dark Avengers for his own spot on the team. Livingston returns to the chopper to get back on the mainland and meets up with Norman Osborn. He tells Osborn what he's learned and then gets offered up as a sacrifice to allow the Reaper to live another day. It turns out it was the Grim Reaper himself who betrayed the team. Now, he's headed to Europe to build up Norman Osborn's power base, leaving the rest of the Lethal Legion to rot away in prison.
Mr. Hyde is in the hole. It's an actual hole and he's in it because he's a monster. Just this morning he caused so much trouble that it's a wonder the guards haven't "accidentally" killed him. Mr. Livingston (I presume) is here to get Mr. Hyde's story but I don't think anyone in the room has any illusion that Mr. Hyde is going free. This man is an actual animal. He relishes that aspect of himself.
What he doesn't relish is people calling him Calvin Zabo. That's his real name but not his NAME name.
You might remember seeing Hyde working with the Hood's gang to take down Punisher. That's not actually a continuity glitch we need to worry about. This guy is pretty frickin' insane. It would be surprising if he DIDN'T leave the Syndicate to do something like this. Just for the kicks. He's also got certain history with Norman and would totally want to see the former Green Goblin go down.
Now, the Lethal Legion wasn't a perfect fit for Mr. Hyde. He ruffled everyone's feathers. The fact that he and Nekra had a fling didn't exactly make him best friends with Grim Reaper.
But let's move up to after Norman Osborn was captured by the Lethal Legion. They had Wonder Man guarding the man but Hyde took Simon out pretty easily just to get to Ozzy for some payback. Hyde gets one good punch in before the Grim Reaper interrupts him.
So Mr. Livingston has been listening to Hyde's story and it gets to the interesting part. No, not the beating Hyde was about to recieve at the hands of the Grim Reaper. No, the fact that while this was going on, the first one on the scene was Nekra. She may have been the one to release Norman while everything was in chaos.
Livingston gets a step or two too close to the "hole" and Hyde reaches up and grabs his leg. The guards rush in for the rescue and load Hyde up with gas and electricity but it barely phases the monster. Hyde laughs and laughs as Livingston moves on to the next client.
Nekra. She listens to what Livingston has been able to gather so far and doesn't like what Hyde had to say. Granted, most of it is true. They two did sleep together once but it was during a time when she wasn't seeing the Reaper. The part that isn't true is the part where Hyde thought that Nekra was the one to release Norman Osborn.
That wasn't the case at all. She entered the scene just in time to watch Grim Reaper start kicking the crap out of Hyde. She was also standing by to watch Simon come to and join his brother in beating the hell out of Mr. Hyde. She was about to stop this when Crusher Creel and Tigershark showed up and held her back. Everyone else was only too happy to have the Grim Reaper and Wonder Man try and teach Mr. Hyde a lesson.
Except this is the same monster that Norman Osborn fed a grenade. No lesson is going to stick.
The first person to realize that Norman is gone is Hyde and, again, the monster goes insane with laughter. Everyone knows what's going to happen next. Dark Avengers everywhere.
What Livingston wonders is why Nekra stayed with Grim Reaper. They're relationship was certainly strained and the revelation about her night with Mr. Hyde didn't help matters. You aren't really supposed to understand it. She and Eric Williams were NOT GOOD for each other but they were still in love. Or something. She was even responsible for bringing him back to life. They used voodoo but not Brother Voodoo. Part of the enchantment was that the Grim Reaper had to kill one person a day.
She was his first sacrifice. She didn't care. She still loved him.
Sometimes love is bad for you, y'know?
As Livingston leaves Nekra, he realizes that one member of the Lethal Legion is unaccounted for when Norman Osborn went free.
Grey Gargoyle. Paul Pierre Duval.
Duval fancies himself one of those gentlemen villains. The type of guy who might be a bad guy but doesn't think that should stop him from having class and good taste. He's also an artist.
He's actually pretty happy to be in solitary confinement because he doesn't relate well with the other prisoners. They don't have his sense of culture.
Livingston tells him that everyone has confirmed that the Grey Gargoyle wasn't on the scene when Norman was freed. Duval gets a big grin on his face and asks for immunity. Why? Because he knows who the Dark Avengers really are.
His story was all about how the Grey Gargoyle REALLY wanted to betray the Lethal Legion but never got a chance.
While Mr. Hyde was getting beaten to a pulp by Wonder Man and Grim Reaper, Paul Pierre Duval was meeting with Karla Sofen at a classy restaurant. These two have history with each other... mostly because Grey Gargoyle is just one of the many people that Moonstone has went to bed with. Just the once, though. Duval's creepy obsession with her was kind of a turnoff.
The Grey Gargoyle reveals that he's got it all figured out. Sofen is obviously Ms. Marvel. She might be able to fool most people but not the guy who's been stalking her. He knows her too well. So what does he want for this information to not go public? The Grey Gargoyle wants on the team... preferably as Thor.
But his threats are serious enough. Sofen asks him who he believes the other Dark Avengers are and he whispers them into her ear. Karla is satisfied with the answers and tells him that they have a deal.
Unfortunately, by the time he returns to his headquarters, Norman has already been freed and the Dark Avengers have already taken out his teammates. It was only a matter of time before they got him too.
Livingston asks who Duval thought the other Avengers were and it turns out that Grey Gargoyle was WAY off. Hawkeye was Boomerang? Flying Tiger as Wolverine? The Eel as Captain Marvel? Batroc the Leaper as Spider-Man? Yeah... not even close. Livingston leaves, telling Duval that he'll talk to the DA about getting Grey Gargoyle immunity but we all know how that's gonna go.
Now it's time for Norman Osborn to show up. What? Oh yeah, Livingston was actually working for Norman. Who didn't see that coming?
The two meet on the helipad to discuss what Livingston has been able to find out. Norman is pleased. Livingston's report shows that the Lethal Legion has no clue what actually went down and it doesn't seem like they ever will. Moreover, he knows that the identity of his Avengers is secure. Livingston tells Osborn that Duval is close but our next visitor has a plan to take care of that.
It turns out that head of security, Mr. Tillis, who has been seen on and off throughout the mini-series, was also working for Norman. He lets Osborn know that the Grey Gargoyle will probably find himself strangled in the shower during the next week. This is more than is necessary. Osborn doesn't mind Duval's ravings. They make the idea that the Dark Avengers are actually villains more preposterous.
Mr. Tillis is also bringing Norman the body of Eric Williams. He's also the first to guess that the real man to betray the Lethal Legion was none other than the Grim Reaper.
Why? To add legitimacy to his Avengers. Grim Reaper was charged to assemble a group of bastards so evil that the public would have no choice but to cheer when the "good guy" Avengers took them down. The plan worked quite well.
Livingston doesn't really understand why Osborn needed to see Eric Williams' body. This loose end was taken care of and documented. Well.... it turns out that Ozzy isn't here to see a dead body so much as he is here to make sure that body doesn't stay dead.
Remember when Nekra told us all that she used voodoo to reanimate Eric Williams and that he needed to kill once every day to stay alive? He just needs another sacrifice. Livingston makes a perfect option and another loose end is tied up. Mr. Tillis loads Livingston's body up in Eric Williams' body bag. At this point, it's just another body and won't rouse any suspicion. As Tillis walks back to the Raft, Osborn tells Grim Reaper that the Raft's head of security will meet his end in a staged prison riot. No loose ends.
Grim Reaper would worry that he's another loose end except, well, just recently revived. No, he's more valuable to Norman in his current state. Everyone believes him dead, after all. It gives the Grim Reaper a certain freedom. He'll head to Europe and build a powerbase for Norman over there. Man, you'd think with the time Norman had spent in Europe he'd already have that powerbase.
To close things up, Eric has a few regrets in this. He wishes that he didn't have to leave Nekra and his brother rotting in prison but Norman counters that they were necessary parts in the whole deception. Their inclusion makes the Grim Reaper's betrayal all the more unthinkable. And Simon? Norman can show the world just what was wrong with the previous Avengers just by pointing at the one that went bad.
But still, right? It's Simon Williams. His death was the reason Eric became a super villain in the first place. Granted, he was always a criminal but his brother's death pushed him into the vengeance game and into all that entailed. Still, Norman has studied Eric Williams. Above all else, he'll do what benefits him the most. If that means betraying all he holds dear... so be it.
So be it.
The Uncanny X-Men #281
Writers: Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, & John Byrne
Penciler: Whilce Portacio
In this issue, the Reavers get attacked and killed by Sentinels! The X-Men ally themselves with the Hellfire Club! Shinobi Shaw and Trvor Fitzroy talk about how awesome it is being an Upstart! The X-Men fight the Hellions and then team up to fight Fitzroy! Donald Pierce runs away from Sentinels and has Gateway teleport him to whoever is masterminding the attack against him! That leads him to Trevor Fitzroy with his battle with the X-Men and Hellions already in progress! Emma Frost "dies!" Jean Grey "dies!" Senator Kelly is angry!
The Reavers! They're those guys that really, really hate Wolverine. The original three got into a losing fight with Logan during the Dark Phoenix Saga and had to be rebuilt as cyborgs. They were eventually joined by a number of other cyborgs and led by the Hellfire Club's cyborg White Bishop, Donald Pierce. They've been headquartered in their base in the Australian Outback since they nearly killed Wolverine. It's been pretty quiet lately but that just means that some of the Reavers are on edge and getting twitchy. The rest are drinking. It's what you do in Australia.
The assault by Sentinels takes most of them by complete surprise. It's not like they'd be able to do much good, anyway. These Sentinels are very hard to kill. Their attack kills most of the Reavers before they even know what hit them. The rest begin to fight a losing battle for survival.
And now... the X-Men! This book takes place after the Muir Island Saga but it also takes place after the first storyline in the brand new X-Men title. This was Chris Claremont's swan song for his 17 consecutive years on the X-Men books and it featured the original X-Men (lately of X-Factor) joining up with some X-Men favorites from the past few years to form two X-squads. The Uncanny book would feature the Gold team while the adjectiveless book featured the Blue.
To be honest, the adjectiveless book got the better deal. Most of the Blue team were fan favorites that would eventually feature in the nineties cartoon show. Only Storm and Jean Grey would get that honor from the Gold team. Personally, my favorite Gold team member was Archangel, by this point, people forgot just how cool Archangel's uniform was and usually drew him without that cowl on. It would only be a matter of time before they put him back in a more "Angel" looking costume. That would begin the slippery slope of returning his feathery wings. Sometimes Marvel doesn't know what a good thing they had going.
Oh! You might also notice that Storm has a LOT more hair than she did over in the Muir Isle Saga. She went from a pixie cut to hair flowing down to her butt. Yes, time has passed but not THAT much time. My guess? Ororo's sporting extensions. I don't know where they got that much white hair but we're dealing with the Marvel Universe. There's a lot of white haired people running around. Hell, it might be Aunt May's for all I know.
Also on the Gold team with Storm, Jean Grey, and Archangel are Iceman and Colossus. Now that we've got that lengthy X-Men intro out of the way, let's get to the story.
The X-Men are all dressed up in their sunday finest and hanging out in New York City's Hellfire Club. It turns out that the White Queen has called them up and asked for a truce. This is because the Hellfire Club finds itself under attack. Sebastian Shaw was "killed" over in X-Factor by his own son, Shinobi. Magneto was "killed" in X-Men by Fabian Cortez. You'll notice that none of these deaths stuck. At this point, though, they were a big deal. Enough to call in the X-Men for a truce in order to deal with the threat. The X-Men, being X-Men, answered the call.
Which doesn't mean that things are all peachy between the Hellions and the X-Men. There's some animosity, here. This is kind of sad when you consider that the Hellions aren't X-Men villains. They were New Mutant rivals. Nowhere near X-Men level. That'll explain their fate, actually.
After a little waiting, the White Queen opens her doors for a meeting and we find that she's been attacked by a random girl in futuristic armor. Emma's come out the victor and is ready to get some answers from her attacker.
Elswhere in New York, the two Upstarts are meeting. Shinobi Shaw, current leader of the Upstarts, is greeting the guy who will become their newest member, Trevor Fitzroy. Shinobi is also being pampered by a large number of men and women in swimwear and it's probably best not to ask any more questions about that.
Fitzroy makes no secrets about his goals. He's here to join the Upstarts and to lead them. Shinobi is all for the first part of that. More people to kill the Hellfire Club? No worries. Leading, however, is where the young Shaw takes exception. Still, he's nothing if not generous. Shinobi offers Trevor some Sentinels only to learn that Fitzroy already has Sentinels. Fitzy's Sentinels are smaller and of a different design than Shinobi's but they'll prove to be more effective.
Shinobi believes that Fitzroy's attack on the Reavers isn't helping the man rise through the ranks of Upstarts. Afterall, they're only Reavers. They aren't very high up the Hellfire Club heirarchy. That's ok, Fitzroy's ultimate plan is to kill Emma Frost. He leaves after making it perfectly clear to Shinobi that HE WANTS TO LEAD THE UPSTARTS. Dude isn't subtle. Shinobi, to his credit, doesn't just shout out his intentions or thoughts. Instead, he THINKS them. He sees Fitzroy's obvious hatred of Emma Frost to be the man's weak spot. It might be something to capitalize on later.
It WON'T be... but it fills up panel space, right?
In the Hellfire Club, the X-Men decide that they will not support torture and try to save that little assassin from such a fate. This leads them into direct conflict with Emma Frost's Hellions. Again, these aren't odds that will overcome the X-Men but, since the Gold team came here to help instead of to fight, they're not exactly thrilled to be attacking their presumed allies.
Which is why Jean Grey uses her telepathic abilities to end this fight before someone (the Hellions) get hurt. With everyone calmed down again, Emma starts going into why this truce is absolutely vital. After all, if the Hellfire Club falls, won't the X-Men certainly follow?
Turns out they won't and Storm is quick to point out that flaw in the argument. Still, the X-Men are here to help regardless so they might as well find out what they can learn from Emma's failed assassin.
Which doesn't work out so well. The first Hellion, Jetstream, is killed when Trevor Fitzroy teleports in to rescue his captured pawn and also start his attempt at killing Emma Frost. Alas, we'll always miss Jetstream. His mutant power was that he had a jetpack or something.
Back in Australia, the Reavers' battle with Trevor's Sentinels has gone badly for them. Only Pierce himself is still alive from the Reavers proper and he escapes deeper into their headquarters to find more cyborgs to help him. Finding Cylla and Lady Deathstrike, Pierce leaves them to fight the Sentinels while he continues his escape.
Deathstrike doesn't know exactly what's going on but does her best at destroying one of these Sentinels anyway. She slices off an arm. The Sentinel notices the damage, grabs a bunch of random lab equipment, and reforms the limb from the parts. That's right! They can repair themselves.
Since Deathstrike proved so ineffective against the Sentinels, she is stuck in their path, dumbstruck by her inability to stop them. It's Cylla who gets Deathstrike to safety while the Sentinels return to their primary mission of killing Donald Pierce.
The White Bishop is still able to get out of the complex without getting killed and runs on over to the resident teleporter, Gateway. Gateway is an aborigine who doesn't speak all that often, usually used for his ability to teleport people wherever they want to go. It's a handy skill as long as the mutant isn't deep in a trance. It takes Pierce a lot of shaking to wake the aborigine up but, once that's accomplished, Gateway goes right to work.
Donald Pierce asks to be teleported right to the person responsible for this attack because they'll never see it coming. He rushes right through the gate but three Sentinels are able to pass through with him before Gateway is able to close it again. The rest of the Sentinels quickly lose interest now that Pierce is gone and fly back to headquarters.
Back at the Hellfire Club, the Hellions are about to have casualty number two: Beef. He's pretty new to the group and was basically the oversized muscle. Fitzroy backhands him through several buildings and leaves him for dead.
Emma decides enough is enough and tries to telepathically stop Trevor but Fitzroy's suit protects him from such an attack. Fitzy decides to use his battle suit to go invisible, leading Storm to guess that Trevor Fitzroy's battle suit has the powers of the Super Skrull. This may or may not be true. Whatever the case, when the X-Men actually enter the fight, they have Trevor on the ropes rather quickly. Sure, he can take on the Hellions but fully-trained mutants are another story.
The odds are about to get better for the Upstart. Donald Pierce teleports in and those three Sentinels are following right behind him. Pierce puts the Sentinel attacks together with the Hellfire Club and accuses the White Queen of the attempt on his life. After all, Gateway was supposed to teleport him to the person responsible and here's Emma Frost. Soon, it won't matter that much to Pierce because those emerging Sentinels kill him pretty quickly.
The same Sentinel that stabs him through the head also attacks the White Queen. She falls to the attack and the Hellion known as Empath declares her dead. DEAD! Oh no! I can't believe they killed Emma Frost!
Oh, wait, she's alive again. So is Donald Pierce. Apparently, you can't kill members of the Hellfire Club. Unless it's Harry Leland. Then, kill away.
With giants like the Sentinels, this battle quickly spills over into the streets of New York. Colossus is smashed into the pavement by a Sentinel and that focuses most of the X-Men to his aid. That leaves two other wide open for attacks.
The first one is the Hellion, Tarot. She's been flustered in this battle and has dropped all her cards. She is only able to pick up the one nearest and tries to manifest a protector from it. She doesn't have the time. The Sentinels anticipate her attack and counter it before it's fully formed. Tarot is killed almost immediately.
The second is Jean Grey. She's next up in the Sentinel's attack and is finding her telekinesis to be inadequate to the task of taking one down. Two Sentinels attack together and force the X-Man off her feet. They move in for the kill and Jean knows she won't be able to stop them. So she tries something desperate without telling us much more.
When the smoke clears, the Sentinels confirm that Jean Grey is dead.
This makes Trevor pretty happy. All in all, it's a good day to be Fitzroy. He's killed Donald Pierce and Jean Grey while capturing a motionless Emma Frost for killing later. He decides that's good enough and withdraws.
On the street below, the X-Men gather around their fallen. The street itself is a mess. The carnage ripped right through the place. With such destruction, it's probably pretty easy to see Senator Robert Kelly showing up to yell at the X-Men. Senator Kelly is a patron of the Hellfire Club so it's possible he was in the area.
He starts yelling at the X-Men for committing this level of violence in a populated area. The bystanders tell him to cut that out. After all, they've lost one of their own this day.
Jean Grey is dead. Forever.
Or at least an issue.
The Uncanny X-Men #282
Writers: Whilce Portacio & John Byrne
Penciler: Whilce Portacio
In this issue, Charles Xavier and Forge play... CHESS! The X-Men return to the X-Mansion with a dead girl and a Sentinel head! Trevor Fitzroy shows up at Shinobi Shaw's place with the head and shoulders of the late Donald Pierce and an unconscious Emma Frost! He's here for Shaw's ring and he's willing to get a little dirty to get it! Forge tracks Fitzroy's headquarters with that Sentinel head! Fitzroy's teleportation portal backfires! Trevor gets a warning from one of his Sentinels that there's an aircraft approaching but ignores it in favor of sucking up the life energy of the Hellions! Fitzy summons up three people through a portal and we learn that a trip through is one way! Jean Grey is in Emma Frost's body! The X-Men attack! Trevor sucks up the rest of the Hellions' life energies and makes a huge portal, bringing lots of people through... including Bishop and the XSC!
And nothing will ever be the same again!
You know who would win in a chess match between Professor Charles Xavier and the mutant machinist known as Forge? Charles Xavier. Yes, even if Forge had secretly activated a device that dampened Charles' psychic abilities and gave him a splitting headache. When Professor X reveals that he knew all along that Forge was blocking his powers, they both laugh (even though it isn't that funny) and talk about an eventual rematch.
Which is when the X-Men Gold team shows up with a Sentinel head and the body of Jean Grey. Storm uses some sort of power to float the Sentinel head over to Forge. It's blue. Blue Lightning? I don't know. Ororo's powers really shouldn't work that way but it doesn't seem that really matters this issue. I'm just gonna call it a concentrated wind burst or something. It sure does look like telekinesis.
While Forge is excited to see that Sentinel head, Professor X is more concerned with the lifeless body of Jean Grey. He can't believe she's dead because he would have felt her death. Maybe he forgot that Forge was blocking his powers for the last hour. Even so, he finds that the body lacks any brainwave functions. Xavier searches further into the dead mind of Marvel Girl and discovers that her psyche survives... it's just displaced.
The part that always bugs me about this issue is that everyone is saying Jean Grey is dead. Her body is dead. The X-Men have seen dead bodies and they'd know a dead one from a living one. The Sentinels hit the body of Jean Grey hard enough to kill her body and Jean Grey's mind only survived by escaping her body and finding another to inhabit. But still... that body is dead. By the end of this arc, they'll put Jean's psyche back into her dead body. I'm just going to bet the creative staff didn't think this one all the way through. As a No-Prize: as soon as they learned that Jean Grey's soul was in another body, the X-Men hooked her body up to some fancy Shi'ar equipment that is always just off-panel and it fixed it up as good as new. There, now you can all sleep at night knowing that Jean Grey didn't go back into a zombie body.
Trevor Fitzroy has been a busy boy between last issue and this one. While the X-Men mourned the loss of their dead friend and teammate, he gathered up all the Hellions, took Emma Frost, and escaped. It turns out that, even though Empath thought the White Queen to be dead, she was just unconscious.
Trevor didn't go far. He headed to another part of New York City and woke up his fellow Upstart Shinobi Shaw just to show him all that he had done.
First off, he's killed Donald Pierce and brings in the very upper portion of Pierce's body as proof. The cyborg sparks and leaks all over the place. Shinobi's going to have to get new sheets for his bed.
Second, he's captured the White Queen alive, even though he was claiming that this night would bring her death. I guess captured is good enough in Fitzroy's book and live bodies further his overall plans more than dead ones so it makes sense. As the scene continues, the White Queen wakes up and, through her thought bubbles we learn that she's actually Jean Grey. I believe the theory here is that last issue's attack dropped Emma Frost into a coma, which basically left the body free for Jean to take over.
That's two Hellfire Club members to Shinobi's one. That makes Fitzroy the leader of the Upstarts, right? Well, Shinobi isn't convinced. He gets ready to defend himself but, as Trevor points out, he's got a group of Sentinels with him that have just bested the X-Men this very night. Shaw isn't going to pose much of a threat. Trevor's even brought along a very sharp knife to cut off Shinobi's ring (which is a token of his leadership). We pull back to outside the building as Shinobi loses this battle... and a finger... and screams into the night.
OK. Two things. Shinobi gets that finger re-attached soon after but he's never able to flip someone the bird like he was before it was cut off. Also: Shinobi's powers are the ability to alter the density of his body and include INTANGIBILITY. Why's he going to stay solid long enough to get his finger cut off? C'mon, editors! Do your job!
Back at the X-Mansion, Forge is sucking as much information out of that captured Sentinel head as he possibly can. What he's learned is that the Sentinel's base (and, most likely, Trevor Fitzroy's) is located in an iceberg (STRAIGHT AHEAD!) somewhere in the Arctic Circle. With Forge's help, the X-Men should be able to locate the iceberg with enough searching. Storm isn't all that happy to be bringing Forge with but, with Jean's life on the line, she doesn't object. The same goes for Professor X. He's coming in order to assist with the location of Jean through Cerebro and to get her back in her right body before what she's done becomes permanent.
Since we know the relative location of Trevor Fitzroy's secret base, let's head up there and pay a visit. Fitzroy has a nice little army already assembled to do his bidding including a little attendant by the name of Bantam. Bantam's job is to monitor Fitzroy's power output and keep track of his portals. This gets a bit complicated but the gist is that Trevor doesn't have a full understanding of his powers and, instead of training in their uses, has taken the easy way out and given that job to other people. We'll learn what his actual powers are in time but, since we've started talking about them, we might as well finish.
Trevor Fitzroy drains the life energies out of people in order to open teleportation portals. These portals can transfer people through time and space. He's got to open a portal on each side, though. That means that there are people that have entered one side through one of his portals that are still waiting for him to open a way out for them. Since Trevor doesn't have complete control over his powers, sometimes improperly powered teleportals open. People try to come through but the results aren't very good.
For example, Trevor's walking through his base when one of these portals opens. Two people try to come through but before they can accomplish this, they're fused together into one mass of pain. Since they aren't long for this world, Trevor absorbs both of their life forces for later use. The whole incident is blamed on Bantam but the small minion knows that the true fault lies in his master's reckless use of his powers.
The X-Men have taken their Blackbird into the Arctic Circle and are now flying around trying to find out which one of these icebergs contains a secret base. Forge picks up some crazy psychic energies ahead of them but Charles is not able to find anything with Cerebro. There's some sort of telepathic block going on. Prof X tells everyone that he believes Jean Grey to be inhabiting the White Queen's body. One of the only ways that could happen is if Emma herself were dead, but Charles never picked up the death of such a high level telepath. Again, Forge was using a device to block Xavier's powers. We all know that wasn't the reason but it's amazing that it's not mentioned since, at the time, I think the plan was actually to kill the White Queen.
But, since she turns up as alive as every other dead Hellfire Club member, it's a moot point.
Back inside Trevor's secret base, one of his Sentinels is warning that there's an unknown aircraft in the area. While this might be something that could require further investigation (y'know, send out a Sentinel or something), Fitzroy is more interested in sucking up life energy and tells the Sentinel to keep tracking it and let him know if it's worth paying attention to.
If you look around the room, you'll notice a LOT of Hellions. Like, more Hellions than we've actually met. They're all shackled to the ground and helpless. There are a few Hellions who aren't in this room. Empath, for example, wasn't picked up with the rest last issue. Magma and Thunderbird had already left the group. The Hellion known as Tarot, unfortunately, gets two deaths in this story arc. Yeah, that's right! Last issue, Tarot was killed in the Sentinel attack on the Hellfire Club. In this issue, she's up front and center and is the very first Hellion to get her life energy sucked out.
Now, this is explainable. Trevor might not have actually known most of the Hellion's names and, instead, guessed. Fitzroy wasn't even fully trained in his own powers and he certainly didn't have a Sentinel's extensive knowledge on known mutants. Since the only indication that this girl is Tarot is the fact that Trevor says that name as he's killing her, it could very well be Roulette. It's best not to get too worked up over this since of all the original Hellions, Tarot shows up back alive the most.
With the energy he just sucked out of the female Hellion, Fitzroy opens one of those nice portals and gets a few new recruits for his army. These are actually mutants criminals from the future who Fitzroy helped free in order to gain their services. One of these trio of criminals decides that there's nothing holding him to that deal and makes a show of force to indicate his independance. Fitzroy doesn't argue or fight with this dude. He just says, "you got me," and allows the mutant to pass back through the portal, giving him the impression that the other end had shifted away from the prison and he's be deposited in a different location.
Fitzroy's totally lying. Those portals are one way trips. To attempt to go back leads to a painful death.
All of this has been watched by Jean Grey. All of it. She saw Fitzroy drain the life out of Tarot, open the portal releasing three mutant criminals, and then send one back through to his painful death. Maybe she hadn't enough strength to act before. She certainly has the strength now. She escapes her captors using telekinesis (which somehow she has even though Emma Frost DOESN'T and... this issue's giving me more of a headache than it should...
Trevor's as freaked out about this display of powers as we are but he responds quickly and decisively. He orders his men to attack. He'll figure out why the hell Emma's using telekinesis when she's dead.
When Jean is attacked, the psychic backlash hits Xavier head on. The X-Men now know exactly where their missing X-Man is and fly quickly to the rescue. Inside the not-so-secret base, Trevor feels his base being attacked and wonders what's going to hit him next. He's already having trouble handling one mutant. Anything else could change this game completely.
OK. I'll give you the crazy telekinesis where there should be none. I'll even grant you that the spark of energy on Emma Frost's forehead indicates her telepathic abilities that she might be using against someone off panel. I have no clue WHY her hands are sparking with energy. It's times like this you just throw up your hands and wish you weren't paying such close attention. Casual readers wouldn't even catch this crap. Ignorance? It's bliss.
Finally, the X-Men arrive so that we don't have to deal with these troubling issues and can just enjoy some pages of pure ACTION! Action! Action! They recover Jean-in-Emma's body quickly and explain that her real body is aboard the Blackbird in cryo storage. I'm assuming they fixed it up in the off panel Shi'ar super healing machine first. Either way, it's here so she'll need to get back in it soon.
Trevor Fitzroy isn't happy that his... well-laid plans... have gone up in flames. If only... if only he had paid attention when his Sentinels warned him about the unidentified aircraft. Even his servant, Bantam, gets a moment to remind Fitzy of his own failings before the green-haired bastard puts poor Bantam in his place. Fitzroy decides to rely on his future Sentinels and sends them out to destroy the X-Men.
These are those unbeatable Sentinels that when you cut off an arm they can grab any nearby technology to fashion a new one. They went around last issue killing lots of people and even gave the X-Men a hard time.
In this issue, the X-Men thrash right through them with no problems. Fitzroy's not the only one surprised by that.
There's only one last play that Trevor Fitzroy can make. He decides to devour the life energies of every captured Hellion in order to open the mother of all teleportals. If you had any favorite Hellions that weren't Empath, Thunderbird, or Magma, they just died in horrible pain.
Out of the portal comes pretty much every mutant that Fitzroy had ever sent through a teleportational portal. It's a veritable army of mutant criminals. Against these guys, the X-Men could very possibly lose.
Or... y'know, not so much. While the numbers are against them, the X-Men seem quite capable of dishing out a good deal of damage against these criminals. It might not be an easy fight but the X-Men seem confident in their eventual success.
Fitzroy, on the other hand, is certain the outcome will favor him. So much so that he has a very cheesy grin on his face when his latest plan goes off the rails. Behind him the massively large teleportal is still open and out of it comes an assortment of energy blasts. And then...
Bishop, Randall, and Malcolm.
They take immediate control over the situation and Trevor Fitzroy finds Bishop has him by the neck.
The Uncanny X-Men #283
Writers: Whilce Portacio & John Byrne
Penciler: Whilce Portacio
In this issue, Bishop and the XSC start capturing mutant criminals until they learn that there's no way home again. Then, they start a killing sweep! All the bad guys activate image inducers to look like Fitzroy to give their boss a chance to escape! The X-Men try to save lives by stopping Bishop! Fitzroy is captured by the Upstarts! Bishop notices the X-Men and almost believes them to be real until he sees Archangel! Storm stops playing around and knocks the XSC off their feet, pulling Bishop's own gun on him! Xavier returns Jean Grey to her proper body! Shinobi Shaw regains leadership of the Upstarts by decree of the Gamesmaster! The Arctic Base starts blowing up and the X-Men are separated from Bishop and his crew! Storm vows to learn more about Bishop! Selene plots her plotting plots with the Gamesmaster!
Xavier's School Enforcers have just emerged from Fitzroy's teleportal and they're already cleaning house. It seems that these criminal mutants just don't have much left in them. This is strictly a retrieval mission and Bishop wants his team, Malcolm and Randall, to start grabbing prisoners and returning them through the portal. The first guy Bish want to send through is Trevor Fitzroy but the villain knows what'll happen and begs them to send someone else through first.
Randall tries to send through his prisoner and watches as the portal tears his take apart. There is no going back.
Of course, we already knew that. So did Fitzroy. Bishop and his team just learned and it forces the three to do something that they don't really want to do. You see, they know that they're in the past. They know how important it is to protect the timestream. If these mutant criminals start playing around, they might make the future a very bad place to be. I mean... well, it's pretty bad already what with the mutant camps and all the apocalyptic future stuff happening in Days of Future Past but STILL! Preservation of the timeline!
Because of that, Bishop and his team are force to switch to lethal options. Since Bishop announces his intentions in a loud voice, no-one around isn't aware of just what the XSC plan to do. The mutant criminals are terrified and try to flee. Storm sees just how frightened everyone is and splits up her team so that they don't make easy targets.
Some of the criminals have other ideas. They seem blindly loyal to Trevor Fitzroy and activate their image inducers to rush to his defense. Now, instead of having just one Fitzroy, everyone looks like him. In the confusion, the real Fitzroy is able to slip out of Bishop's grasp and make his escape. Bishop takes on three fake Fitzroys at once, suffering an eyeblast to the gut in the process. This is basically just so we get a look at what power set Bishop has. We now know that he's able to convert energy into a biokinetic blast delivered through his hands but, back then, he was able to absorb various energy attacks and then fire back the same power in the same way. That means that since he was struck by an eye blast, he's gonna have eye blasts which he uses to attack and kill more criminals.
You can imagine how well this goes over with the X-Men. It's one thing to announce your intention to kill a bunch of people. It's another thing to actually go through with it. Colossus is close by at the time and attacks Bishop directly, smashing the time traveler up against a wall and declaring that this is NOT the way X-Men do things. This is the first time Bishop actually gets a good look at some of these people and realizes that he's seeing X-Men. Or... IS he?
Bishop's confusion is most beneficial to Trevor Fitzroy. Fitzy hasn't completely made his getaway just yet. Instead, he's hanging about and watching from what he believes to be a safe distance. It's not safe enough. There are new players on the field that aren't noticed by anyone else. These soldiers drop in, quiclky wrap power neutralizing gear onto Fitzroy, and then zip back up to their ship. Before they leave, they namedrop their boss. It's Shinobi Shaw.
Bishop is stunned. His heroes are hanging out around him. There's Storm being all Storm-like. Over there is Iceman! Look at the icicle go! Oh! Look at that one! It's... Angel? Wait, why does Angel have blue skin? What are those metal wings all about? This is not what Bishop was expecting at all! It's like bad fanfic and he's gotta put an end to it before it turns into slashfic.
His dreams that these are actually the X-Men are thoroughly shattered simply because Archangel didn't meet up to expectations. Oh, also the image inducer thing from earlier. That puts a little crimp on what you might think is real. Malcolm hands him a restraining cuff and he easily places it on Colossus. This switches Piotr back to human instantaneously, and also knocks the wind out of him. To Bishop, this is further proof that these aren't the real deals. The REAL Colossus wouldn't be so easily captured. Rasputin tries reasoning with the time traveler. Bishop hasn't heard about the REAL X-Men. He's been raised on the LEGEND of the X-Men.
Still, that's not going to sway Bishop. Colossus is a fake and he'll die like the rest of these criminals.
Storm realizes the danger Piotr is in and has the X-Men focus their attacks on Bishop who is clearly the major threat here. Iceman complies but not without muttering under his breath about how Cyclops would have come to that conclusion a long time ago. The two X-Men attack Bishop together and Bish has only a small bit of trouble absorbing both their powers at the same time.
The X-Men's focused attack leaves the other two XSC members free to assist their leader and Iceman soon finds himself on a broken ice slide. Archangel rescues Bobby and then fires off a barrage of feather blades to paralyze their enemies. The blades never strike their targets. The XSC eliminate the threat with gunfire.
Storm isn't even trying to convince Bishop that they're the real X-Men. She sees the XSC officer wearing X-Men colors and the X-Men badge but acting very un-X-Men-like. She sends a concentrated wind blast out to knock all of the XSC off their feet and then swoops in to take control of the situation. She grabs Bishop's gun and points it right at the time traveler. Ororo's not handling Bish with kid gloves, that's for certain.
Overhead, Professor Xavier is preparing for a very delicate operation. He's going to take Jean Grey's mind out of Emma Frost's body and place it back in her real body. It's a challenging procedure that will be extremely painful for Jean. There's a lot of hints in this section about another telepath being involved and that Jean could never switch bodies under normal circumstances but this all amounts to nothing in the long run anyway. Let's just say that after a challenging few moments, Charles Xavier is able to put Jean back where she belongs and everything worked out for the best.
Once this is done, Forge finally picks up Shinobi's retreating ship on his radar. He asks if they should pursue but with the X-Men still below, Xavier tells Forge to hold his position. There will be time to deal with Trevor Fitzroy at a later date.
Shinobi Shaw will be dealing with Fitzy right now. Surrounded by fellow Upstarts that you'll never see again, Shinobi informs Trevor that leadership of the Upstarts is still Shaw's. He takes back his ring and puts it on his re-attached finger. Fitzroy demands an official ruling by the Gamesmaster and Shinobi is happy to comply since he's already asked the question and gotten a favorable answer. Looks like Trevor Fitzroy has lost this round.
Shinobi isn't done yet. He tells Trevor that his team wasn't just sent to capture Fitzroy. They also charged his base to explode. Activating the timer, he proposes a toast to the death of the X-Men Gold team. Fitzroy is quickly forgotten even though he rants about getting revenge and taking his rightful place as their leader. His day is pretty much done and he hasn't even been born yet. Sad.
Down below, Storm is trying to get some answers from Bishop. She realizes that this man is a time traveler but what kind of future does he come from? Bishop answers her questions but his answers are simple. He's not actually revealing much. Just then, the base starts to detonate.
The XSC goes one way while the X-Men go another. There's a little gunplay on the part of Randall but everyone escapes alive and well. Now, Bishop, Malcolm, and Randall have to deal with living in the past.
Storm isn't happy about letting Bishop out of her sight. She only leaves because Colossus and Iceman will die in the explosion without her help. Piotr is still wearing that power inhibitor which seems to have knocked more than just the wind out of him.
Once aboard the Blackbird, Colossus gets a quick examination care of Forge and learns that he just needs rest. With her team out of immediate danger, Storm makes it her mission to learn more about Bishop. After all, their future may depend upon it.
Elsewhere, we get our first view of the Gamesmaster. He's a bald man with a lot of wierd tech attached to his clothes. He even has one of those tech band things around his head like Lobot had in Empire Strikes Back. He's the arbiter in the game of the Upstarts but he's not the mastermind behind their game. That honor belongs to Selene, the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club.
Selene seems pleased with herself. The Upstarts don't actually get the true reason behind their exploits. They don't know what the end goal actually is. All this is well known by Selene. But that's a story for another time.
And that wraps up another fun filled column of Super Reads. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed making it!
Until the next good time: Who Do YOU Trust?
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