Monday, May 21, 2018 • Morning Edition • "Assholes welcome."

Super Reads Dark Reign & Realm of Kings 81

Written by SuperginraiX on Friday, June 25 2010 and posted in Features

Let's do this thing.

Today, we check out Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2, Dark Avengers #12, The Mighty Avengers #32, Dark Wolverine #81, Thunderbolts #139 and Blast to the Past for Fantastic Four #'s 39 & 40. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

Look how close we are to filling that gap between Dark Reign and Siege! We're almost there!

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.

Let's check up on multiple appearances of the Mighty Avengers!

roki2.jpgRealm of Kings: Inhumans #2
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Pablo Raimondi

Last issue, Crystal and Ronan were swearing in the new Consul of Kon-Tarr, when the planet was attacked by Neg-Zone raiders from the Ceded Territories. Gorgon and the New Inhuman Elite arrived and mopped up the invaders. Medusa sent Triton and Ra-Venn on a mission into the Fault to learn the fate of Black Bolt. Medusa explained that she was holding the throne until her son could come of age. Mad Maximus mused about kingship with Ahura and Luna. Ronan and Crystal checked the progress of regrowing the Terrigen Crystals, and were subsequently threatened by feral Alpha Primitives. Devos the Devastator attacked Attilan because of all the war. The Mighty Avengers got their avenge on.

In this issue, the Mighty Avengers begin "helping" the Inhumans defeat Devos the Devastator. Crystal and Ronan are aided by Quicksilver in a battle with Alpha Primitives. Vision locates the Prime Devos unit and Karnak neutralizes him. Quicksilver and Crystal talk about her new husband and why Pietro has come here in the first place. Hank Pym and Medusa discuss matters of state and notice the parallels in their own lives. There's more talking heads as Pietro and Crystal talk about the Inhuman's new role in the universe as their daughter looks on... and Ronan gets a little jealous on the sidelines. Pietro gives Medusa back the Xerogen Crystals recovered in Mighty Avengers #21. We meet Dr. Vere and Lord Zarek (no relation to the Transformer's Lord Zarak: the head of Scorponok) and learn that they were responsible for the Alpha Primitives getting all rebellious with a little help from their Omni-Wave Generator. In the Fault, the Inhuman scouting party has located a sonic wavelength that might possibly belong to their missing king, Black Bolt!

Devos the Devastator has one mission in life: to destroy all war with as much illogical violence as possible. To that end, he has come to the capital city of the Kree/Inhuman Stellar Empire, Attilan, in order to start punishing the victors of the War of Kings. Never mind the fact that the Kree and Inhumans were the defenders during that conflict. Devos doesn't look at the circumstances.

Even though Devos looks formidable, Queen Medusa and her aides could have ended this fight with ease. Unfortunately, the Mighty Avengers have shown up to make this battle more difficult. Hank Pym and his teammates are in the way and preventing planetary defenses from getting the job done. They're just too close to the attackers.

In the more recent issues of Mighty Avengers, Wasp, Hercules, Quicksilver, USAgent, Vision, and Stature have teammed up with the New Avengers and Young Avengers to defeat a former king of the Inhumans whose name and activities have been stricken from Inhuman records. They've shown up to deliver the Unspoken's prize, the Xerogen Crystals, to their proper home. Then Devos attacked and the Avengers did what they usually do when faced with a threat. The attacked right back. This looks great for them because they're a professional squad of Avengers and they're doing their job well. The Inhumans, however, look like they need the help of an earth-based fighting team... which they don't but you know how this stuff gets spun.

When Gorgon and the Inhuman Elite show up, they don't welcome the Avengers with open arms.

In fact, Hercules is confused when Gorgon chews him out instead of thanking him for helping. The Inhumans used to be so happy to receive aid. Now, they've definitely grown more confident with their position in the Kree Stellar Empire. Gorgon strides right past the Prince of Power and starts destroying Devos' robot army. Hercules still doesn't understand why he's being treated the way Gorgon has treated him but he likes the Inhuman's attitude. Onward with glorious fighting!

Deep within Attilan, Crystal and her husband, Ronan the Accuser, face their own threat. Something has agitated the Alpha Primitive slave caste. Ronan tries to move in front of his wife to protect her, but he's married to a former Fantastic Four and Avengers member. Crystal can handle herself and tells Ronan so. Both of them can also be rescued from a new player.

Quicksilver. Get ready for the awkward to begin!

There's a reason Pietro wasn't fighting with the rest of his team, besides the fact that he doesn't really like the rest of his Avengers teammates. He saw the threat and raced off to find his ex-wife. He understands that Crystal can look after herself, but he still does the over-protective bit and defeats all the angry Alpha Primitives in little more than the blink of an eye. When he's done, he remembers hearing Crystal call Ronan "husband." Yeah, this is going to be an awesome conversation.

Hank Pym realizes that the Inhumans don't seem to want them there. Vision confirms. The Inhumans are not the same isolated people that kept hiding from humanity. They've grown into their own and see the Avengers as getting in the way. USAgent remarks that they should just leave and let the Inhumans lose this battle but we already know that wouldn't happen. Karnak shows up with more Inhuman Elite to tell the Avengers just what they interrupted.

The Avengers have gotten in the way of the Inhumans' firing solutions. Out of respect for the adventurers, the Inhumans have decided not to fire with the heroes in their sights and that's led to this battle having to be fought in a more costly manner.

Pym apologizes for interfering and offers to help in any way the Inhumans would like. Karnak and Wasp begin working together on the solution and that leads to Vision locating the prime Devos by scanning the electro-magnetic spectrum. Once they've located the leader, Gorgon and Hercules tear into Devos Prime's cybertank.

Devos blusters on about how the Kree and Inhumans have to pay for their crimes of war until Karnak taps him in the temple and knocks him out. Karnak and Hank Pym are on the same page with what to do next. Wasp uses Devos Prime's control mechanism to shut down the rest of the attackers. As they initiate this plan, Karnak and Hank smirk at each other, lovingly. It's a wierd moment for everyone.

Back in the bowels of Attilan, Pietro has pulled his ex-wife aside to ask her about her marriage. This isn't something Crystal wants to discuss with her ex-husband and the two have a heated conversation before Quicksilver admits that he's being kind of a douche. He came to Attilan to issue a formal apology to the Inhumans and now he's getting into an argument with his ex. Not the best beginnings. Crystal doesn't forgive Pietro yet because there's a lot of bad history between the two. She just asks him to explain everything. From the start.

With the battle won, Hank Pym meets with Queen Medusa to explain the actions of his team. Medusa is less than pleased that the Avengers got involved and since she has an abrasive attitude to start with, this conversation could easily turn south. It doesn't but you can tell Medusa's angry at the actions of the Mighty Avengers. After all, they don't have anything to prove while the Inhumans have everything to prove. She needs to strengthen the foundation of the Inhuman's rule and it needs to be done through Inhuman strength. Not with help from Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Hank understands and moves the conversation along. He offers his condolences at the death of Black Bolt though Medusa hasn't given up hope that her husband lives. Pym then moves on to his ex-wife, the former Wasp, and how she died at the end of the Secret Invasion. In a way, that battle also took Black Bolt. And look! Both Hank and Medusa have taken up the roles of their dead lovers! It's like they're the same person!

Finally, the two leaders move on to the reason the Avengers came here in the first place: Quicksilver needed to mend some bridges.

The next day, Quicksilver and Crystal are having a much more pleasing conversation above ground. Pietro is happy to see the new confidence of the Inhumans. Crystal explains that it was time for her people to shape their own destiny for a change. The speedster offers the hilarious advice of not running before they can walk which sounds great coming from the mouth of Pietro Maximof.

Up on a balcony, Pietro and Crystal's daughter, Luna, looks down at her parents. She's not happy but it's not explained in this book why she isn't pleased to see her mom and dad talking in a friendly manner. For that answer, you'll need to check out Mighty Avengers or just read my walk-through in this very article!

When Quicksilver runs off, Ronan walks up. He asks his wife how everything is going. Crystal gives Ronan the quick version of her conversation with her ex and gives her husband a peck on the cheek for not being too jealous over the event. They begin talking of more important matters involving the rage of the Alpha Primitives and how they should investigate that after the day's ceremonies are over.

On the balcony, Luna is joined by Queen Medusa.

During the ceremony, Pietro returns the Xerogen Crystals to Medusa. His cover story about having been replaced by a Skrull who discredited his name is believed by almost everyone including Crystal. Quicksilver is no longer banished from Attilan which will make visiting his daughter... easier? Maybe. Maybe not.

In the northern radius suburbs of Hala City, Lord Zarek meets in the laboratories of Doctor Vere to talk about how their latest scheme is playing out. It was Doctor Vere's Omni-Wave Generator that caused the Alpha Primitives to rise up and attack Crystal and Ronan. Sure, the two escaped the attack but when the machine builds up to full power, it will cause ALL of the Alpha Primitives to revolt and destroy the Inhuman ruling class. With them out of the way, the older Kree aristocracy will be able to resume control. Oh, it's a brilliant plan that has no chance to succeed!

While all of this is going on back on Hala and Attilan, Triton's crew is entering the Fault. Triton's ship has a liquid inner environment which makes things easy on him, but everyone else has to wear scuba gear at all times. The Fault is a giant rip in space and time, so things inside are crazy. They could spend the rest of their lives exploring a fraction of what the Fault has to offer but they're there for a very specific mission.

They're also off to a very good start. Ra-Venn, the highest ranking Kree on board, has already picked up sonic emissions. After checking the sound waves, she's concluded that it's the voice of Black Bolt.

Is he coming back to life already? That was quick!

da12.jpgDark Avengers #12
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.

In the last issue, Ms. Hand remembered the time she gave Nick Fury a stupid note questioning his tactics and ended up transferred to the middle of nowhere. She faced the threat of the incredible disappearing Dark Avengers and somehow it was related. Stormin' Norman talked it out with the Molecule Man and then faced a fate worse than death. That would be being Spider-Man and having a pregnant Gwen Stacy to deal with. Ms. Hand worked the problem. Molecule Man killed the Sentry. Guess if that lasts or not. Just guess. We visited the rest of the Dark Avengers dealing with their individual nightmares. Victoria Hand showed up at the city limits and surrendered America.

In this issue, Norman is living out his own personal nightmares while Victoria Hand surrenders HAMMER to the Molecule Man in Dinosaur, Colorado. After a lengthy debate where Ms. Hand keeps losing more and more of her clothing, Molecule Man accepts her surrender. He leads Ms. Hand to Norman who is passed out and naked after MM messed with his mind... which is a great thing to do to a crazy person. Sentry puts himself back together first (since that's one of the things he seems to do) and starts the fight all over again. Molecule Man tears Bob apart but, again, that seems to be temporary as the Sentry just keeps coming back. Bob makes his own deal with Owen to let the man go in exchange for returning everything to normal which Molecule Man finally does. The Sentry destroys Molecule Man (or something) and then declares that he can control molecules... which is incredibly scary. Bob flies off, leaving the rest of the Dark Avengers with the fear that they might be facing their very own Disassembled in the future. Back at the Tower, Ms. Hand gets Osborn to agree to a psych evaluation to deal with anything that might have happened when Molecule Man messed with his brain before the former Green Goblin locks himself in his private chambers and collapses into a psychotic fit while Loki stands over him.

Norman Osborn isn't in his right mind. And we all know that his right mind isn't exactly... right. I mean, just look at him. Right now, he's imagining himself being strung up on Spider-Man's web line. His clothes are torn and his Green Goblin costume is showing. Spidey has a big toothy grin added to his mask... sort of like one of those symbiote suits would have but minus the stupid tongue. Ozzy thinks this is impossible because he's Norman Osborn. He keeps saying that over and over even after Spidey drops him and he falls to the streets below.

Of course, this is all happening inside his mind. The real Norman is collapsed, naked, staring off vaguely in the distance. All the time, he chants "I'm Norman Osborn" like a mantra.

On the Main Street of Dinosaur, Colorado, Victoria Hand has surrendered to Molecule Man. Owen Reese, the Molecule Man, can hardly believe this. His self-created friends have varying opinions on the matter. Some think she's lying. Some think she's telling the truth and it's time for Owen to sieze the world. Molecule Man just wants this one town. Reese just wants to be left alone.

Victoria does have some tiny caveats to add to her surrender. As her clothes start disappearing, she says the surrender can't go through unless he releases everyone that has disappeared in this area. There are forty-four missing people that need to show up. There's also the people of this town. Tack on the Avengers and make extra certain to include Norman Osborn and Owen can have the town all to himself.

Molecule Man can hardly remember taking away forty-four people and he and his imaginary friends just stare blankly back at the Deputy Director of HAMMER. Hand is standing uncomfortably in her underwear now but she's asks if the missing people are dead. More blank stares.

Owen still can't believe that HAMMER is surrendering to him. He thinks they're going to attack after he returns everyone. Victoria reminds Molecule Man that no-one has ever been able to kill him so, y'know, lesson learned. They leave him alone with his town and he returns Norman Osborn and the other missing people. If he doesn't act soon, however, this whole area will be hit by an atomic bomb or something. It'll be out of her hands. Owen thinks it over and gets more opinions from his fake people.

We turn now to a basketball court probably located in the local school. There's no game being played since there aren't any people left. Something more important is going on. The Sentry is reassembling. He's angry and his eyes are black.

It looks like Molecule Man has decided to take up Ms. Hand on her surrender. He takes her down to his throne room and returns Norman Osborn. Ozzy is still naked and catatonic. Owen rearranged a few molecules in Ozzy's mind but has put them back where they belong. Now, it's all up to Norman to pull himself back together. Ms. Hand isn't happy about this and tells Reese that the deal is off unless the Director of HAMMER is returned unharmed.

While Molecule Man protests that he's done all he can, the deal is off anyway. The Sentry (with his black eyes) has arrived and starts the fight with a blast of energy that hits Owen. The Molecule Man won't go down easily, though. He flies up to meet the Sentry with explosive energy. On the ground, Victoria tries to wake up her naked leader but REALLY doesn't want to touch him.

Molecule Man takes the Sentry apart in another explosive display. Owen falls lightly back to the ground. The HAMMER Helicarrier sees this action and sends in fighter jets. Below a statue of an elephant (which is neither a dinosaur or a mammoth, thank you very much), Victoria tries to contact the Helicarrier to order this attack to cease but meets only dead air. The lead jet launches a missile but it's dismantled before it can make contact.

By this time, Molecule Man isn't in a trusting mood and is proclaiming how Hand has lied to him.

Norman is finally coming around. He tells Ms. Hand to call off the attack but, since she's already tried that without success, he's no real help. No, this fight is going to be all about the Sentry. Or, more precisely, the Void. Those black eyes aren't standard issue for the Golden Guardian of Good and only come out when the Void is in the driver's seat.

And right now, the Void is back. The Void orders Molecule Man to restore everything to normal. He'd do it himself except he's new to this whole thing. Owen is more than stunned by this point because he's already killed this guy twice with no permanent consequences. The Void tells Reece that, if he does this, he gets to live. Right now, that's as good an offers as Molecule Man's going to get.

The streets are suddenly filled with confused people. Ares returns to normal in that apartment room and finishes swinging his axe in rage. Void asks if everything is back and gets an affirmative from the poor Molecule Man.

The Void tells Owen Reese to go away and we watch as the Molecule Man's body explodes. Now, maybe this is part of Owen leaving but it sure looks like a minor villain lost their life in Dinosaur, Colorado.

Communication with the HAMMER Helicarrier has been restored. Sentry decends and tells a still naked Norman Osborn what he has figured out. Bob claims to have the ability to control the molecules of his world. No-one had figured that out before.

Now, it's not exactly TRUE but crazy Superman is sort of crazy so let him talk. Besides, the Void forms a tiny werewolf in the palm of his hand so something's up.

We also just saw how hard it is to defeat someone that can control molecules and Norman doesn't want a repeat of that with the Sentry. Like usual, Ozzy has to talk Sentry down off his ledge and explain the differences between him and the Molecule Man. Sentry's eyes return to their normal baby blues and we know that the Void has backed off for now and let the Sentry personality return.

Bob sees that Osborn is scared of him. Norman responds that he doesn't want to be. Sentry also figures out that he can't die and that frightens him. Karla Sofen steps up to the plate and offers to give Sentry some counseling. Bob agrees to that and then acts surprised when Dark Ms. Marvel thanks him for saving everyone.

The Sentry flies back home but leaves his fellow teammates freaked out. Ms. Marvel makes the connection with the Scarlet Witch but with the Sentry's powerset... things could turn out so much worse.

Time passes and we return to Avengers Tower. Victoria Hand is making her way down to Osborn's secret lab again and is astonished that she's still denied entry. Norman opens the doors himself and tells his assistant that he doesn't want to be disturbed at the moment. Ms. Hand gets her gameface on and vows to leave if the HAMMER Director doesn't hear her out. Molecule Man just REARRANGED THE MOLECULES OF HIS BRAIN. Something like that needs to be checked out. Norman needs a complete psychological evaluation before he can be allowed to return to duty.

After thinking this over for a moment, Osborn agrees. He tells Victoria to set up all the details. Just not Karla Sofen. She's usually not there to help.

The door shuts again, leaving Ms. Hand to stare for a while and think things over. Inside, Norman looks at a floating display of known heroes and villains.

It doesn't distract him for long. He falls on the floor and claws at his face, wondering why it can't be removed. Someone misses their goblin good looks. Norman strives to regain his composure, calming himself down. He doesn't want anyone to see him like this.

In the chamber, unseen by Osborn but revealed to us is Loki. The god of mischief. He's looming over the fallen form of Norman Osborn with an evil grin on his face.

ma32.jpgThe Mighty Avengers #32
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Khoi Pham

In this issue, the Inhumans welcome Quicksilver back into their company after his exile for stealing the Terrigen Crystals. The Avengers return to the Infinite Mansion and get right back into the Avenging business which pisses Norman Osborn off to no end... and pleases Loki all the more. At Project: Pegasus, Loki helps free the Absorbing Man from custody and uses his influence to make the criminal roam the plant looking for secret stuff. Osborn calls a meeting of the Cabal and finds that only Loki is in attendance. Victoria Hand enters to inform the HAMMER Director about the goings on at Project Pegasus. Back at the Infinite Mansion, USAgent tests out his new shield while Pietro searches the facility for signs of his sister but "Wanda" shows up in the main room to give the Mighty team a mission. While the Scarlet Witch sets up the spell necessary to send everyone out, Hank and Amadeus brain conference and scan the imposter for her mystical signature. This leads both the Dark and Mighty Avengers to show up at Project: Pegasus for the same reasons. As the teams meet, the Absorbing Man finds a Cosmic Cube and powers up. It's team-up time!

OK, this issue starts by telling a little bit of the story between the Inhumans and the Mighty Avengers. You'll find most of it up top in Realm of Kings: Inhumans #2. This is yet another ceremony (or a continuation of the first one) where Quicksilver is being honored and acquitted for his presumed crimes. Pietro ended up pinning all his past actions on that of a skrull that had taken his place. Before you ask, no, a skrull never replaced Quicksilver. He knows that. Hank Pym knows that. Back at the Infinite Mansion, Jarvis knows it as well.

Unfortunately for Pietro, his daughter knows it as well. That's why she was giving him such bitter looks in RoK: Inhumans #2. She knows her dad is lying. She's told Quicksilver that she knows. Her empathic powers giving her the ability to tell when someone is lying. Luna's not telling the rest of her family because she still loves her dad. She just doesn't respect him any more.

And so, Quicksilver gains little from his acquittal. His wife is remarried. His daughter knows he's a fraud. All he has left is the hope that his connection to the Mighty Avengers will lead to a reunion with his sister. So... he really has no hope. Hollow victory is hollow.

The Mighty team prepares to head back to their headquarters which is now as easy as opening a door. Yes. The Infinite Mansion has a door to the Kree Empire. Before they leave, Karnak tells Hank Pym that he's showing a lot less weakness than he usually does. That's because the wonderful Wasp has a whole new confidence and a brand new title. But more on that later. Now, I want you to pay special attention to the flying insect traveling near Hank's shoulder. That, my dear reader, is what's left of Ultron after Annihilation: Conquest. We'll see the Ultron bug flying throughout the rest of this issue as he travels back to the Infinite Mansion with the Mighty Avengers.

The Mighty Avengers return home. They had just finished a team-up with the New, Young, and Resistance variety of Avengers before returning the Xerogen Crystals to the Inhumans. All of the other teams have gone home by now. Vision and Stature were hoping that their teammates in the Young Avengers would stick around. No such luck.

But there's no rest for Earth's Mightiest. Jarvis and Jocasta have been tracking some situations which require their immediate attention. It's time to earn that non-existant paycheck!

In what is a lot like a montage scene for comics, the Mighty Avengers face threats from Zzzax (in New Dehli), Dansen Macabre (in Paris), and Terminus (in Pisa). These add on to the Avengers' earlier victories and make this team look great in the eyes of the public. Their fame has spread so far that the Mighty roster is considered THE Avengers team by most of the world. Only the United States seems to accept Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers as the genuine article.

This is like soccer. Only in the United States would we prefer something like baseball. Yes, I just called baseball evil. I also compared soccer to the Mighty Avengers and, by calling it soccer, have annoyed most of the world. I'm just here to tick you all off.

Now, onward.

America's top cop, Norman Osborn, sees all the affection that Hank Pym's Avengers are getting and it pisses him the hell off. He smashes his double-wide television monitor in his anger. For a god like Loki, this means that Osborn is ripe for his plans. It's time to put the Dark Avengers and the Mighty Avengers into an uncomfortable team-up and see what it does for the sanity of the Director of HAMMER.

For that, Loki needs to set up a controllable situation. He's got the perfect one all worked through. At Project: Pegasus, the criminal, Crusher Creel, is being experimented on. You may know Crusher Creel better by his villain name: the Absorbing Man. He was last seen in the pages of Dark Reign: Lethal Legion in the super-criminal holding facility, the Raft. Creel had joined up with the Lethal Legion in a good old rebellion against the Dark Reign. This had culminated with the kidnapping of Norman Osborn and the unknown betrayal by their leader, Grim Reaper. Since the Absorbing Man isn't a villain that can work in this new world order, he's better served as a living experiment at Project: Pegasus.

Human experimentation is usually frowned upon. In fact, in Dark Reign- The List: The Amazing Spider-Man One-shot, footage of Norman Osborn experimenting on people for his American Son project has soured the public's attitude towards the brillo-haired one. Project: Pegasus, which hasn't reverted to Director Gruenwald's control yet and is still under HAMMER's management, believes that using a criminal of the Absorbing Man's particular level of evil will not give them the same stigma. Creel has a neural scrambler in place to prevent the villain from escaping.

Loki shuts down the power grid and all eight back-ups. The Absorbing Man is no longer in Project: Pegasus control. Creel easily dispatches his handlers and then decides to make his getaway before some hero shows up to capture him again. This is where Loki intervenes yet again. Since Loki is responsible for giving Crusher Creel power in the first place, he has enough mental control over the mortal to turn the villain around and towards Loki's purpose. I just won't mention that this mind control power seems altogether new since Loki and the Absorbing Man ended up fighting in Creel's first story arc.

Things continue to go against Norman Osborn. Ozzy has called together a meeting of his Cabal only to find that no-one has shown up. Namor and the White Queen are already gone. Doom isn't picking up Norman's calls. The Hood is too busy with his own stuff to attend. Osborn is left all alone in his meeting room when Loki finally shows up, apologizing for being late.

Well, at least that's two people.

Norman wants to destroy the Mighty Avengers but that doesn't suit Loki's agenda at all. The god of mischief reminds Norman of who's leading the outfit and how insignificant they are in the long run. Still, they've made Osborn look bad in public. What Norman's Avengers need is a good solid win in front of the cameras. If you think about what the Dark Avengers have done in their own comic, most of it was less than public. Restoring Doom's kingdom? That didn't go out to news groups around the world. Sentry slaughtering undersea terrorists? Only the aftermath was public. Utopia was a public affair but it wasn't the most solid of victories. The Molecule Man mission was away from the public spotlight.

So, Norman needs a major media win.

On cue, Ms. Hand enters the room and sees Osborn talking to the god of mischief. She doesn't even flinch. Hand just tells her boss about the incident in progress at Project: Pegasus. Yes. This will do nicely. Norman has Victoria contact the media and assemble his Avengers.

Have we forgotten who's comic this is? It's the Mighty Avengers, yo! Let's take a look at them in the Infinite Mansion while they enjoy some downtime.

While they're waiting for the next threat to hit, Hank has fashioned a new shield for USAgent. Amadeus and Vision are enjoying a friendly game of chess. Stature and Herc are arm wresting. If Cassie winds, Hercules needs to find a shirt and put it on.

Walker tests out his new shield but finds that it lacks the control of his last shield. Wasp claims that this is because his last shield must have had some defect that USAgent had grown accustomed and is no fault of Earth's Scientist Supreme.

Oh yeah. That's probably a new thing since last we checked up on the Mighty Avengers. Hank was made Scientist Supreme by Eternity and he won't shut up about it. This doesn't mean he's the leader of AIM. This means he's the scientific counterpart of Earth's Sorceror Supreme. It's just as ridiculous as it sounds but can we really complain? Most everything in comics is some level of ridiculous.

While there's a Jocasta in the room, Jo's consciousness isn't in this body. She's actually switching bodies quickly while trying to keep up with Pietro. Quicksilver is racing all over the Infinite Mansion in an attempt to find a trace of his sister. No-one has told Pietro that the Scarlet Witch giving the Mighty Avengers occasional missions isn't the genuine article. Hank knows that it's the only thing keeping the mutant speedster on his team and that makes it priviledged information.

Jocasta informs Quicksilver that her sensors have just picked up the Scarlet Witch back in the main lobby. Pietro starts running back but he's already 1,500 miles away, give or take. While we watch Quicksilver disappear in the distance, we notice that Ultron bug flying up to this Jocasta.

When this Scarlet Witch shows up, no-one is about to trust her, including the Wasp. While the fake Scarlet Witch tries to convince them of the lives that will be lost if they don't act, Hank motions for Amadeus to pick up his Ant-Man helmet. Once it's on, Pym and Cho are able to communicate through their brainwaves. Hank tells Amadeus to analyze the data his glasses have recorded. The Wasp has just tracked this Scarlet Witch's mystical signature. They're going to figure out what's up with this lady. Until then, they have to play along.

Quicksilver arrives just in time to be teleported off with his teammates but not in time to learn anything about the fake Scarlet Witch. This leaves Jarvis, Jocasta, and Amadeus to wonder why Hank hasn't told Pietro what they know about the "Scarlet Witch." They can't think on it long, however. Cho has some data he needs to look through.

At Project: Pegasus, Norman Osborn is meeting with the press as his Avengers strut for the camera. You'll notice that one of the Dark Avengers is absent: Ares. This is probably because they didn't want to get into any of Ares' issues with Hercules during the rest of the story.

Before the Mighty Avengers eventually show up, Norman entertains the press by talking his way around the accusations leveled at him in Dark Reign- The List: The Amazing Spider-Man as well as defending his team's right to call itself Avengers.

OK. Now the Mighty Avengers can show up.

Dark Avengers and Mighty Avengers at the same place? Yeah, the media is loving this. Hank offers to help out however he and his team can. USAgent salutes Iron Patriot. Hercules facepalms at his teammate's zeal for Norman Osborn.

Osborn quietly threatens to arrest the Mighty Avengers but Hank smiles that away. His team is riding on a media high and arresting them wouldn't help Osborn's image. At the same time, Norman is right when he says that the Mighty team has no jurisdiction. The team's mandate gives them no sanction in the United States. Just everywhere else. After some snappy remarks back and forth, our uneasy team-up is underway.

Back at the Infinite Mansion, Cho has hacked into the HAMMER's database and informs the Mighty Avengers that they're here to stop the Absorbing Man. Pym isn't happy about this because he wanted all his resources dedicated to analyzing his data on the fake Scarlet Witch. No worries, Mr. Pym. Amadeus is using his own software to do the hacking.

Inside Project: Pegasus, the Absorbing Man has found something that's going to make him incredibly dangerous. It seems that shattered pieces of a Cosmic Cube are being kept in the facility. Crusher Creel gets his absorbing hands on the Cosmic Cube bits and grows too large for the Project: Pegasus building. This is bad. REAL bad.

That's ok. That's why we have two Avengers teams. Both leaders shout "Avengers Assemble" and Stature shouts "jinx!."

As our teams enter the fight, Hawkeye plans on killing Stature when everyone is distracted.

dw81.jpgDark Wolverine #81
Writers: Daniel Way & Marjorie Liu
Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli

In the last issue, Daken was sent into action. Norman planned his counter-plans for when Daken inevitably went off the rails. The Magnum gang tried to surrender but Dark Wolverine wouldn't let them. Norman ordered the counter-plan into action. The building blew up. Daken lived and was told he would be the hero of this fight just by being there. Mess officially cleaned up. Logan watched the fallout on television. Daken saved a baby. Norman conducted the post-explosion press conference. Daken killed the Interrogator and caused Emmy Doolin to kill herself.

In this special date issue, Daken misses a Dark Avengers meeting and Ms. Marvel goes looking for him. On her way to find the Dark Wolverine, she mentally goes over some of what she's learned about the man while we get an inside look at just how messed up the world around us is. After finding the son of Logan, the two have tea together at a Japanese tea house, and Karla tries to figure out just why they were doing that. Daken relates some history about one of his earlier assassination jobs where he was ordered to kill an old lady and wound up having tea with her. In this version of the story, he walks away without killing her and comes to this place to get tea as good as the tea he shared with the old lady. Karla sees through this lie and learns that Daken killed the hell out of that old lady. She also learns that Daken has been messing with the Dark Avengers the entire time and that he simply comes to this teahouse to be alone. Karla claims to not be afraid of the Dark Wolverine but Daken counters that he doesn't care. That's not what he's about at all.

Daken is cutting out on his Dark Avengers responsibilities and this is ticking off Norman Osborn something fierce. Not that this should surprise anyone. Daken is determined to make Osborn as frustrated as possible if only in his own title. Back at Avengers Tower, Ozzy is asking his Dark Avengers if they know where the son of Wolverine has taken off to. No-one really does though Hawkeye volunteers to go check. Instead, Ms. Marvel gets the task.

In the background of Dark Wolverine, there's been some slight flirting going on between Ms. Marvel and Dark Wolverine. Ms. Marvel is intrigued by the mohawk'd Avenger. She doesn't understand him. She wants to. Most of this is a clinical interest but there's a little bit of attraction going on here. Karla has been tracking the mutant but Daken is pretty hard to get a hold of unless he wants to be found.

While Sofen is flying around the city, random acts are going on in the background. Some of those are typical affairs. A man and woman making out. A young lady feeding an elderly lady. Some others are super disturbing. Spousal abuse. Suicide jumpers. None of this attracts her attention, though. She's all about chasing her target.

Eventually, she catches up to him but rather than turn him back towards Avengers Tower, she changes into civies and has tea with him.

The tea is good. Very good. Ms. Marvel's question is more about WHY he's come here. She can't imagine a man like Daken doing something without a purpose. They get into a philosophical conversation about forming opinions but the final conclusion is that everyone comes to opinionated conclusions whether they like it or not. So Daken tells her a story about someone who didn't.

This story happens when Daken is a young assassin in training. He was sent in to kill a very old lady. That old lady picked up on him before he even got in the door and invited him in for tea. He sits down and tells her that he was sent here to kill her. She says that she's an old lady and will die soon anyway. If he kills her or not, it doesn't matter. He wonders why she isn't afraid but she responds that she doesn't know death so there's no reason to fear it.

With that, he stands up and bows to her before leaving without killing anyone.

Daken explains that he comes to this tea house because it reminds him of the tea he had with the old lady. Ms. Marvel looks into her tea cup with uncertain eyes. She looks up to see a creepy grin on Daken's face. She knows he's lying.

No, the truth of the matter is he killed that old lady with ferocity.

Daken is sad to see that she wouldn't just accept the cover story he had laid out. She had to dig deeper and learn some horrible truth. Now, Karla isn't a good person. She killed her own mom, after all. Still, this tale puts a look of terror on her face. She declares that Daken has been messing with the Dark Avengers this entire time.

Dark Wolverine explains that he came here not only because it had the best tea in the city but he just wanted to be alone. There's no big story here. Now, he's going to have to find a new place to get away from his teammembers.

Ms. Marvel tells the mutant that she's not afraid and she shouldn't be. Her powerset makes her untouchable. She's still scared. Daken doesn't care. He gets up and leaves.

Karla Sofen sits in her chair for a moment longer before getting up. She looked too deep and she wasn't prepared for the answers she received. She leaves the tea shop and watches the son of Wolverine walk away.

Sometimes you just shouldn't look too deep.

tb139.jpgThunderbolts #139
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda

In the last issue, the Ghost riled Mister X up. Ant-Man and Paladin watched The Rockford Files. Scourge shot the television. Mister X teleported to South America and killed guerillas. The Thunderbolts teleported after him to bring him out. Scourge, Mr. X, and Headsman got into a three-way fight. Paladin and Ant-Man saw no need to get involved. The guerillas attacked them. The team bonded by killing soldiers. The Zeus arrived to take them home. Norman suspected the Ghost planned the whole thing. No matter. He had a mission for them and it involved taking down the Agents of Atlas.

In this issue, The T-Bolts meet up with Norman Osborn who gives them a brand new member: Grizzly. Ozzy tells the T-Bolts that he wants the Agents of Atlas wiped completely out of existance for ever daring to cross him. Grizzly gives the team a rundown on just who the Agents are and they head off to Louisiana to confront their target. Ant-Man places charges all over the facility and he and Ghost exit the building just before Scourge blows it up. Ghost is around to get some antidote for the poisons they just blasted into the air. The Agents show up and it's game on. Venus tries to stop them with her powers but they interfere with Scourge's crazy and the T-Bolts leader starts blasting randomly. The T-Bolts still aren't fighting at full strength, so they're all subdued in a couple pages. The Agents of Atlas begin to feel the effects of the poison in the area and Bob shows up to give them some assistance on that end... which is about the time that Scourge slices the Uranian's guts open.

The Thunderbolts have gone over the files of the Agents of Atlas. Ant-Man doesn't think they're prepped for this mission but his leader, Scourge, doesn't like his commander's decisions questions. It looks like they'll be meeting with Ozzy soon, but they probably won't question him to his face.

When they hit the ground and have a meet and greet, Ozzy doesn't have a lot of time to chat anyway. Instead, he hands them their newest member and leaves this plan in their hand. Who's that new member? Maxwell Markham, Grizzly. In the opening pages of Agents of Atlas, Grizzly was the head of an ATF branch after being appointed by HAMMER. He knows the subjects and is revving up to get some revenge.

Once everyone is aboard the Zeus, Grizzly goes over some fine details for this mission. This is after he takes some hazing from your annoyance and mine, Mister X. That dude gets on everyone's nerves.

Max gives quick bios of all the Agents of Atlas. I'll just give names if you haven't been keeping up. Jimmy Woo. Namora. Gorilla-Man. Uranian. M-11. Venus. It's a great group of heroes from the fifties who head up the Atlas Foundation, a criminal organization that they've slowly altered to do good deeds and save lives. They're mission is to attack one of Atlas' unknown operations and then wait for the Agents to arrive. The Zeus flies to Louisiana and we get our mission on.

The Atlas Foundation is a sprawling thing and not all of it's operations were run on the books. This one seems to be developing new bioweapons which would certainly have gotten it shut down if it were more visible. While Ant-Man and the Ghost plant bombs and run recon, the rest of the team sets up ambush positions and does more talking that an operation of this nature should require.

Inside, some Atlas members talk about how caustic the stuff they're working on is and how the antidote is kept in every room just in case they have an accident. Ghost makes sure to grab enough antidote for his team while Ant-Man finishes setting all the bombs.

So the inner team is doing their job just fine. It's just the gabby guys on the outside that mess things up. Because of their talking, everyone except Mister X misses that they were found out. Mr. X killed the first two perimeter guards but more are on their way. The Agents of Atlas are sure to follow. This means the plant needs to blow NOW and they don't give Ant-Man or Ghost much chance to run.

The only thing that saves Ant-Man is the Ghost. He grabs onto the tiniest Thunderbolt and sets them both to intangible. When they get out, O'Grady yells at Scourge for cutting things as close as he had but that's not talk that Scourge wants to hear. Ant-Man gets a backhand for his insubordinate attitude.

After that, Ant-Man gets the antidote for whatever poison has just been delivered into the air. After the rest of the team makes sure that O'Grady isn't going to die from the antidote, they grudgingly accept it. After they're innoculated, the Agents of Atlas show up in their silver saucer.

The T-Bolts still have a plan in place. Paladin is firing a heat ray on Namora to dehydrate the Atlantean. Scourge fires the particle gun at M-11. Mister X uses hollow point rounds to take down the rest of the Agents. The team meets with a certain level of failure when they find that the Agents teleportal beam is protected by shielding.

Their next level of fail arrives when most of the team forgets to put in their ear-pieces in preparation for Venus' sonic assault. Because of this, everyone but Grizzly is enraptured by the siren.

This is where Scourge's crazy becomes an advantage. Sure, he starts seeing beautiful women but those images soon change to the rotting corpses of beautiful women. Scourge fires off his gun wildly and manages to stop Venus from singing, but there was no planning involved. Even now that it's done, Scourge looks terrified.

Namora doesn't allow Scourge to follow up his advantage. She punches Scourge's mask right off revealing Nuke's face and his tattooed American flag in it's place. Namora uproots a tree and swings it fast to knock down Grizzly. She's not done yet. Paladin hits her with the heat beam but she just moves beyond it and punches him down as well.

Mister X does his best to take her out but even his point blank range and hollow point rounds don't make a dent on Namora's face. Mister X dodges the Atlantean's counter attack but his powers can't prepare him for the robot. Soon, Mister X is in M-11's welcoming hands.

Headsman tries to attempt a rescue but his hatred of Mister X probably doesn't help him any. It's only a matter of time before Cleavon is pacified and the battle is nearly over.

I said "nearly." Scourge, Paladin, and Ant-Man are still up and running. Scourge is hearing other voices in his mind question his leader's orders and tell him to just give up. Paladin finds himself in a wrestling hold where he tries to explain why he's working for Norman Osborn (his response is that he's working of someone in "private." Ant-Man just hides in the shadows and prays no-one's noticing his absence.

With the Thunderbolts defeated (besides Scourge), the Agents can on more pressing matters. While the T-Bolts are innoculated from the poisonous chemicals hitting the local airways, the Agents are not. The affects of this thing are starting to show. The Uranian teleports down and gives them the news that they've been poisoned. He has the antidote aboard his ship but they all have to make it there first.

Scourge isn't going to make that easy. He grabs one of Mister X's discarded katanas and slices right through Bob Grayson. The Unranian's guts start spilling out as his teammates run forward to assist him.

ff39.jpgFantastic Four #39
Writers: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this issue, the Fantastic Four are rescued by the USS Seahawk nuclear submarine and find that they no longer have super powers! Reed designs mechanical versions of the FF's amazing powers! Dr. Doom is unhypnotized! Matt Murdock meets with the Fabulous Foursome! Dr. Doom takes over the Baxter Building and starts attacking the FF with Reed's own inventions! Daredevil helps the depowered Fantastic Four survive! The heroes split up and make their way to the Baxter Building in their own ways.

Last issue, the Four survived a nuclear explosion on the high seas (delivered by the Frightful Four) but the blast weakened the team and left them powerless. A while later, they are picked up by the USS Seahawk, one of the Navy's nuclear subs. They're taken below and given medical attention but it looks like all of them have been in one heck of a battle. Heck, Ben Grimm reverted to human form last issue and remains that way even now!

In their dreams, they relive their last battle with the Frightful Four all over again. Even when they finally wake up, the Fantastic Four remain in a melancholy mood. No-one's saying it out loud but it should be obvious to us readers. The Fantastic Four have lost their super powers.

That shouldn't seem like such a bad thing especially where Ben Grimm is concerned but it's been 39 issues. These people have grown accustomed to having super abilities. They've also claimed quite a few enemies who would love to kill them in their less than powered states. When they return to the Baxter Building Reed runs test after test and discovers what they already knew. They're powerless.

Reed isn't letting them go without a fight. He develops suits that artificially simulate the powers of the Invisible Girl and the Human Torch. Richards has made a robot Thing that Ben can use by remote control. Their first uses of these artificial powers isn't promising but with some practice, who knows? The team is determined to use these suits. After all, they would be at the mercy of their enemies right now.

Speaking of enemies with a lack of mercy, let's visit Dr. Doom. In Latveria, the dictator is still revelling in his victory over the Fantastic Four and the death of Reed Richards. This all happened back in FF Annual #2. Reed tricked Doom into believing all of this. We all knew that the good Doctor would break through this mind control eventually and that's what happens on these very pages.

In his court, Doom is being "entertained" by a magician. Being an actual sorceror, these parlor tricks don't actually amuse the dictator one bit. He's about to tell the magician to get out of his castle when the performer decides to close his act with a display of hypnotism. When he tries to use this power on Doom, he finds that the super-villain has already been hypnotized. This causes Doctor Doom to break out of his trance and realize the truth. Damn you, Richards!

Doom takes off from his castle in his space aged ship. Next stop: New York City and revenge!

Legal councillor, Matt Murdock has an appointment with the Fantastic Four but he's not meeting them at the Baxter Building. Instead, this rendezvous is taking place in an old abandoned warehouse like some common super-criminals.

Not only can Matt Murdock sense that something is physically wrong with the FF but he can also tell that they are all stressing out. That feeling doesn't ease up when he learns why he was summoned out here. Mr. Fantastic is preparing for the worst. If the Fantastic Four die, he wants their estate to be taken care of.

This is all punctuated when the attack starts. Dr. Doom has already taken over the Baxter Building while the FF were out. Now, he's using Reed's own inventions to destroy the team. The team's artificial powers don't last for minutes against the first attack. Without these powers, the Fantastic Four are like fish out of water.

So it's fortunate that their lawyer happens to be the swashbucklin' Daredevil! Matt sneaks off and returns quickly as his alter-ego. With Daredevil's help and guidance, the FF survive the first round of Doom's attacks.

Doom decides that privately defeating the Fantastic Four won't do at all. This fight has to be as public as possible. To that end, he uses another one of Reed's inventions to skywrite all about how he is going to crush the FF.

And he's going to try doing it with a reprogrammed Fantasticar. The vehicle rockets in and splits into its four segments, trying hard to crush the costumed adventurers. Again, the team is saved due to the assistance and quick thinking of Daredevil. Unfortunately, they're going to need a new Fantasticar after this is all said and done.

Next up is Reed's Vortex Machine. This thing makes hurricanes. Now, the original use of such a device was to control the weather but, seriously, this thing has mad scientist written all over it. The instantly formed twister is directed right at the warehouse and levels it to the ground. The Fantastic Four and Daredevil barely escape in time.

One out of their cover, the team agrees to split up. They'll all head to the Baxter Building and meet there. Reed Richards knows that Doom is more interested in him that the rest of the Four and banks on them being able to make a clean getaway while he distracts his mortal enemy. To aid in his survival, Daredevil joins Mr. Fantastic. Sue and Johnny head off together while Ben, being the least recognizable of the team without his rocky orange exterior, goes it alone.

Reed is, of course, correct. Doom ignores the others and tries to kill him with the same vortex weapon. Reed and Daredevil throw gas cylinders into the man-made tornadoes and the winds dissipate. Working together, the heroes grow in respect for each other.

At the Baxter Building, Doom wonders why the Fantastic Four haven't gone on the offensive. It looks very much to him like this team of adventurers is running away. It doesn't take an intellect like Doom long to realize that the Fantastic Four are powerless! He realizes that such an event would make them easy to kill but shrugs those thoughts away, deciding to instead prolong their agony. Yes. Doom will play with his prey to increase his cold-hearted amusement.

The next weapon he sends out is a Force Beam Projectile. This flying weapon is easily dispatched by the Man Without Fear. Reed and Daredevil decide to split up. While Reed takes the low road, DD stays above making his appearance nice and flashy in an attempt to distract Doom from the others. This works right away. Doom sends out a Fragment Grenade (which doesn't really have a civilian application) which has Murdock literally on the ropes.

We check in with each member of the FF one last time before this issue ends. Reed strides throught an alley on his way to his headquarters, remarking on his true strength being his mind. Ben Grimm is realizing that his mouth doesn't run quite so fast when he lacks the strength to back up his talk. Sue and Johnny have "commandeered" a taxi cab, believing that Doctor Doom won't notice them in such a common vehicle. In face, they are almost to the Baxter Building.

ff40.jpgFantastic Four #40
Writers: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this issue, Reed and Daredevil haven't parted ways completely just yet; as the Man Without Fear saves Mr. Fantastic's life once again! Reed, Sue, and Johnny meet up and enter the Baxter Building, facing their own security systems as they try to ascend the tower! Daredevil busts into the Baxter Building from above and gives Doom more trouble in order to assist the FF in their attempt to reach the upper levels! Ben joins his teammates! The FF face more troubles getting to the top only to receive more last minutes saves from Matt Murdock! When the Fantastic Four finally reach their headquarters, Reed hits his team with the electronic stimulator which restores their powers. Eventually, Reed restores the powers of the Thing. Ben fights Doom all on his lonesome and wins the fight through sheer strength. Doom stumbles away with the power of diplomatic immunity. Frustrated to be burdened with his rocky hide once more, Ben quits the team.

Daredevil and Mr. Fantastic split up last issue but that doesn't last too long before they've rejoined each other's company. Doom has fired off a flying camera in search of the Fantastic Four and when he locates Reed, he uses the device as a battering ram. DD has the perfect solution to this. He turns his cane into a gun (complete with a sight) and, using his radar senses, blasts the camera to pieces. Now, you might be wondering what the sight was for. Daredevil is blind so it's not like he could use it. I'm gonna take a shot in the dark and say it was just there for appearances. No-one KNOWS DD is blind. No reason to call attention to the fact, right?

With that out of the way, the two split up yet again. Matt takes the high road while Reed stays on the low path. Eventually, Johnny and Sue find Richards and all three complete the trip in their stolen.... AHEM... "commandeered" taxi. When they reach their building, the police force has already surrounded the building. You don't write messages in the sky proclaiming that you'll kill the Fantastic Four without attracting police attention.

The police have been ordered to maintain their position and allow the Fantastic Four first crack at taking down Doctor Doom. That's for the best because even without super powers the Fantastic Four have a better chance at stopping Doom that these guys. No offense to law enforcement. It's just how comics work. Police officers are basically red shirts.

No sooner that the three enter the building than they are fighting their way through their own security systems as manipulated by Doctor Doom. Bolts of electrical force errupt in their path. Reed grabs onto Sue and, knowing the pattern, eludes the power beams. Even while he's doing that, he's also giving Johnny instructions on how to cross the room. Reed is the ultimate multi-tasker.

Even so, the Fantastic Four will never make it to the top of the Baxter Building unless someone... I don't know, maybe Daredevil, infiltrates from above and distracts Doctor Doom. Only with Doom's attention divided do Reed and company have a chance at this. Oh, hey. There's DD now. Doom is not unable to devote his full attention on either front and finds himself fighting off Daredevil whenever he's about to end the lives of the Fantastic Four.

While Doom is distracted, Ben Grimm joins the rest of his team and the four take the elevator up to their headquarters. Doom temporarily fends off Daredevil and sets the elevator to explode and plummet to the bottom of it's shaft. Right before this fate can claim the lives of the Fantastic Four, Reed, Johnny and Ben break down the elevator door and escape a fiery death. They actually did pretty well. Only one flight to go.

Getting up that last set of stairs is going to prove difficult. Doom destroys the staircase before anyone climbs to the next level.

While the FF construct a makeshift ladder out of the broken stairs, Daredevil renews his attack on Victor Von Doom. This time, it's basically a wrestling match. In his armored suit, Doom's strength is definitely the superior of the Man Without Fear. This time, the Fantastic Four have to come to Daredevil's rescue.

Ben Grimm attacks Doctor Doom hand to hand. While the two met briefly in college, Doom doesn't recognize Ben as the Thing. He tosses Daredevil away and focuses his attention on the newcomer.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fantastic has located his electronic stimulator. You might remember that this is the device used in Fantastic Four #37 when the FF team faced Morrat, the Skrull warlord. The stimulator was able to restore their powers back then. It's going to do the same thing now.

OK. I see your hands up. You're wondering why Reed resorted to making artificial powers when he could have just used this gun all along. Well, that's such a glaring plothole that they make sure it's addressed in the issue itself. The electronic stimulator was out of power and needed to be recharged for a few days before Reed could use it again. The artificial powers were always meant to be temporary.

With Reed, Sue, and Johnny repowered, Doom finds this battle a bit harder to win but he's still Doctor Doom and he still has control over Reed's security systems. He activates the floor freezing unit and catches the entire team in it's effect. Soon, everyone will be frozen solid. Reed uses his stretching powers in a last minute effort to turn on a steam vent. He's successful and the room explodes with steam.

Doom retreats to enact his last plans. He's going to blow up the entire block and be done with this Fantastic Four. At the moment, there's not a whole lot the Four can do to stop him, either. Even Daredevil is recovering from the flash freeze followed by the steam bath. Reed has no choice but to turn the electronic stimulator on Ben Grimm. The Thing must return to the fight.

Ben Grimm ain't pleased. He was kind of hoping to retire from being a monster even though his girlfriend seems to like it. But, no, here he is being the Thing yet again. Angry as he is, he walks off to face Doctor Doom all on his own.

Doom has altered some of Reed's power sources and created his own nuclear device. Now, he just needs to get clear and activate the bomb. He'll never get that chance. The Thing is fighting mad and looking for someone to pound. Doctor Doom is more than a natural choice. This fight pits Thing's strength and will against Doom's technology. It begins with Ben punching Doom's forcefield and getting a smoking hand for the effort.

Doom's forcefield loses power but Thing doesn't get a chance to give him another punch before it recharges. The villain uses a hypnosis device hidden in his palm to slow Grimm down long enough to deliver a punch all his own. With Ben laying flat on the ground, Victor plants a gravity increasing device on the hero's back. Thing gets up anyway.

The Latverian dictator isn't done yet but neither is his opponent. His next attack covers Ben Grimm with rocks that keep increasing in size. The Thing is nearly covered in a rocky prison before he rallies his strength and starts smashing his way to freedom. The rocks scatter around the room, causing Doom to duck for cover.

Thing has Victor Von Doom in his hands once again but by now Doom's forcefield has recharged. Ben is knocked across the room. This stuns him for a moment but Grimm still gets back up again. The villain loses all finesse and goes straight to throwing energy blasts around.

These don't stop Ben Grimm. Our rocky hero keeps charging right through the blasts until he again has Doctor Doom in his hands. Ben doesn't waste time. He just starts tearing off all of Doom's tricky machinery, leaving Victor powerless and with injured hands. Reed shows up just in time to stop his friend from killing Doctor Doom.

Doom is still protected by diplomatic immunity so the Fantastic Four have to watch as the villain staggers out of their headquarters. They can only hope that after the defeat he just suffered at the hands of Ben Grimm, Doctor Doom will be too humbled to face them again.

Yeah, I don't believe it either.

Ben demands to knw why he had to fight this one alone. Reed tells him that they were busy getting Daredevil medical attention and then he felt that it was a battle that Ben needed to face alone. If it had looked like Grimm was going to lose, Reed and team would have jumped in and saved him.

That's just not good enough for the Thing. He's angry at having to live life as a monster yet again. He's angry that it's because of Reed that he's back in his rocky form. He's just mad that things went down like this. Ben has had enough.

He decides to quit the Fantastic Four... forever!

Or maybe an issue. We'll see.

That is, as they say, that!

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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