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Super Reads Dark Reign & Realm of Kings 82

Written by SuperginraiX on Friday, July 02 2010 and posted in Features

One last article before the event that is Siege

Today, we check out Guardians of the Galaxy #21, Avengers: The Initiative #31, Free Comic Book Day: Avengers #1, The New Avengers #60, Dark Avengers #3, and Blast to the Past for The Amazing Spider-Man #66. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

This is it. The last week of Dark Reign. It's not that there aren't a few stragglers but this is where everything switches over to Siege.

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.

Before we finish up Dark Reign, let's check in on that Realm of Kings.

gotg21.jpgGuardians of the Galaxy #21
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Brad Walker

Last issue, Moondragon dreamed about what had happened in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy before she rejoined the active duty roster. Rocket Raccoon and Drax the Destroyer explored the Fault and got frickin' creeped out. The Church of Universal Truth ran wild all over the Council meeting on Knowhere and Star-Lord agreed to work with the Luminals while exploring the Fault. Moondragon fell and had a dream about a Warlock Cocoon. The Guardians went out drinking. The Luminals explored the Fault without the Guardians and... brought something back with them.

In this issue, Moondragon and the Luminals are attacked by a lethal entity from the Fault. The Guardians come to the rescue but the ensuing battle leads to that little entity taking up inhabitance inside Moondragon. Moondragon deals with the consequences of that; when the Luminals make their play for the thing and their leader, Cynosure, shackles herself to Moony with biometric cuffs. Drax ends up buying them some time by claiming parental right over Moondragon to the Knowhere Administrative Council but that only ends up giving the Church of Universal Truth a chance at securing Moondragon for their own ends. Drax tries to rescue Heather but gets blasted by the Church Matriarch and forced to relive all the pain he's inflicted on others in a very short period of time. With that, the Church representatives beam out of Knowhere with their prize: a new god to worship and glorify.

The Luminals have brought something nasty back from the Fault and it's taken up residence inside one of their members, Massdriver. This is a temporary resting place at best. Massdriver has already been killed by this entity and it's looking to move on to a new host. Even this close, Heather Douglas (Moondragon to those in the know) can feel the cosmic evil radiating off the thing. She warns the leader of the Luminals, Cynosure, away from Massdriver and tries to contain the monster in a telekenetic shield.

She's doing a pretty good job until her teammates show up. They're here to help but it quickly sinks into a pissing match between Cynosure and Star-Lord. Even though Peter is in the right, this should wait for later because it's just distracting Heather from containing the Fault creature. Making matters worse? The arrival of the followers of the Universal Church of Truth. They seem to think this thing needs to be worshipped.

Since Knowhere has that pesky freedom of religion, these UCT guys think they can barge into any terrible situation and declare it a holy scene to get their way. While the Guardians and Cynosure try to hold them back, they have numbers on their side. They crowd the room, causing Moondragon to lose control of her TK shield. The Fault creature breaks loose and starts killing acolytes.

Followers of the Universal Church of Truth think this is the greatest holy miracle ever. The Fault monster is tearing off their heads and they are praising it. Crazy people. Heather reads the surface thoughts of the collective's minds and finds that the Fault creature meets their criteria for a god. They don't even question this belief even as it's killing them.

The repulsive beast eventually finds it's way back to Cynosure and starts attacking the Luminal. Moondragon doesn't like this lady but doesn't think even she deserves to die. After all, Cynosure reminds Heather of herself. She decides to take the fall instead. Moondragon rushes in and demands that the Fault creature use her as a host instead of Cynosure. The creature accepts.

We cut to debriefing reaction shots of all the Guardians. They are a bit freaked out about Moondragon hosting this creature and there's a lot of blame for the Luminals and the Universal Church of Truth to go around. We cut back to the Knowhere Sickbay where we find Moondragon getting looked over. The Fault creature has been contained in her belly and Heather looks like a super creepy pregnant lady. I mean, if a pregnant lady's belly kept bubbling over with evil. She's using all of her telepathy to keep the beast in her gut dormant so that it doesn't burst through her skin and kill her... and then kill other people. This situation is all very volatile. One wrong move could lead to disastrous consequences.

Moondragon has had a chance to study the creature and so far she's learned that it hails from the cancerverse at the far end of the Fault. The Fault is a great big tear in the fabric of space/time. It's parsecs wide. While many universes are spilling over on the edges, it seems that this cancerverse is what lies on the opposite end. In the cancerverse, life has won. That might seem like a good thing but it isn't. It means death has lost. Everything lives on in a deformed, unnatural way.

Remember those disasterous consequences we were trying to avoid? The Luminals enter the sickbay to see how far they can push things. Cynosure isn't doing the talking because she's apologizing by proxy through one of her teammates, Jarhead. Jarhead explains that Cynosure's people believe apologizing in person is all sorts of wrong so he's been authorized to do it for her. He also demands that the Luminals have a right to interrogate the prisoner. Since the monster is inside one of his teammates, it's doubtful that Star-Lord would OK that. Instead, he starts insulting them.

While Peter argues with the Luminals, Cynosure enters the Isolation Chamber and cuffs herself to Moondragon. Cyn's using biometric cuffs because there's no way to break them off without killing both herself and Moondragon. The leader of the Luminals is looking for some vengeance on the creature who killed her teammate (Massdriver, if you've forgotten already) and she's not taking a "no" for an answer.

This all leads to the Knowhere Administrative Council which never really looks favorably on the Guardians' activities. Chairperson Gorani wants the Fault thing out of Knowhere but that has now become increasingly difficult because of the circumstances. Jarhead, speaking for the Luminals, assures the Council that his team will be able to remove the monster but Rocket Raccoon, speaking for the Guardians, disagrees vehemently. None of this matters, really. Drax the Destroyer, Moondragon's dad, claims parental right to his daughter. The Administrative Council decides to meet in private to think about overriding Drax's right.

All of this buys Heather Douglas a couple hours. All they need to do is figure out how to get this Fault creature out of her and back into the Fault before the Administrative Council calls an overrule. Yeah. This is a great situation to be in. While Star-Lord tries to figure things out, Drax decides to go out and visit his daughter.

What he finds isn't promising. The Universal Church of Truth have made their play at kidnapping Moondragon and her parasitic guest. I mean the Fault creature but they're taking Cynosure as well. The Church has overrun Sickbay and looks to have put their prisoners into stasis for transport. This time it's not just acolytes and followers. There are Cardinals present. The Cardinal isn't happy about being discovered this early in the game and orders Drax's holy death.

Drax isn't called the Destroyer for nothing. He goes to work on these lackeys while calling in the Guardians for back-up. Before they arrive, he stabs a Cardinal in the chest with his two blades. This is awesome because the Cardinals of Universal Truth are hard to beat.

And that's about as awesome as Drax can be for this issue. Next up, he faces the Matriarch herself. She's dressed in a Cardinal suit but takes off her helmet to face the Destroyer. This fight isn't physical and it's already won by the time she takes off the headgear. Drax is under her spell. She forces him to relive every bit of pain he has ever caused in his life. If you're counting, that's a LOT of pain.

Drax crumples to the ground and goes fetal. The Church members ask if they should kill the Guardian but Matriarch says he's broken beyond repair already. No need for overkill.

The Guardians of the Galaxy won't be showing up in time to save Drax or Heather. Or Cynosure but no-one cares about her. The Matriarch orders the prisoners moved into position and then has the teleparture beam transport them all away. It looks like the Universal Church of Truth has a new god to worship.

The rest of the universe has an evil entity that now threatens them all.

ati31.jpgAvengers: The Initiative #31
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Rafa Sandoval

In this comic, Norman Osborn calls Taskmaster up to inform him of an impending inspection and, possibly, a new job offer. Taskmaster is actually partying it up with his people and has to cover for the loud music playing during the phone conversation. After it's all over, he gets down to brass tacks and puts everyone in line for tomorrow's inspection. Norman has to explain to the Hood why putting Taskmaster on the Cabal is a good idea. Taskmaster runs around Camp HAMMER and gets everyone on the same page for the impending inspection. Constrictor deals with Diamondback's double agent status by not turning her in and continuing with what he thinks is a big lie. The Avengers Resistance notices the U-Foes depositing a huge chunk of change into a private account and wonder why that would possibly be happening. Ultragirl confronts Tigra on her extreme techniques at taking down the Hood's thugs, learns what the Hood did to Tigra, and gets talked down to. Taskmaster has a heart-to-heart with Constrictor about accepting a larger position in Osborn's organization. Norman inspects the troops and finds them perfectly well-scripted. Taskmaster tells Osborn what he would like the Initiative to be, Norman likes what he hears and offers the man a position on the Cabal. We replay Taskmaster's short time with the Cabal from the Siege: The Cabal One-shot. Finally, we get the aftermath where a very injured Taskmaster tries to get out of the Cabal and is nearly killed by Osborn.

Those of you not reading Avengers: The Initiative have missed out on some fun times. It's not that the Initiative has done a spectacular job under Taskmaster's leadership, though. Camp HAMMER has been hit pretty hard by various attacks. What Tasky has been able to do is fake it so the base looks better than it actually is. Norman has seen Taskmaster handle things spot-on while his Cabal ally, the Hood, has to wait in the wings due to his criminal status. The Hood's very public defeat by the New Avengers in New Orleans didn't help matters.

The point is, Norman likes what Taskmaster has accomplished at Camp HAMMER and is seriously considering promoting the dude. While relaxing in his ever changing office at Avengers Tower and idly playing with a Batarang (sure, it's actually an old Green Goblin weapon but it looks a LOT like a Batarang), Norman places a call on over to Taskmaster to inform the leader of the Initiative training program that there's a possible promotion in the works. Before going any further with that line of talk, Director Osborn is going to be flying out to Camp HAMMER and inspecting Taskmaster's work.

At 8AM.

Taskmaster asks his boss if that's going to be too early but Norman hasn't been sleeping that much lately so it's no trouble. Well, it might be trouble for someone. Taskmaster hasn't exactly been running a tight ship. In fact, right now, he's in the middle of a party with his troops. It looks like it's been going on for a while with beer spilled and cheese puffs scattered everywhere. When Norman asks about the loud music playing in the background, Taskmaster stabs the stereo system and explains it away as explosions.

Ending the call, Taskmaster addresses his party mates. The big cheese is making a visit VERY early the next morning and that means that things need to get cleaned up fast and everyone has to be on their best behavior. Mamba is excited that the Director of National Security is on his way over but Taskmaster warns the lady to steer clear of Osborn unless she wants to get thrown off a bridge or something. This is srs bzns and if things aren't in tip-top shape, there will be hell to pay.

Back at Avengers Tower, Norman is telling the Hood that Taskmaster will be a new Cabal member and the Hood isn't taking it so well. Norman brings up the dude's track record. Taskmaster has led the Initiative to victories retaking Prison 42 in the Negative Zone as well as being instrumental in defeating Nightmare. The Hood also took part in those missions but the big difference between the two is that Taskmaster doesn't have to hide in the shadows. The Hood had a public defeat in New Orleans, after all. Taskmaster's much better at escaping from incarceration. Add to that the fact that an ally in the Cabal would be more than a good idea. While the Hood and Norman are businessmen at heart, Doom and Loki are different stories altogether. It's only a matter of time before one of them turns on the rest, and it'd be good to have some friends around to help out. Not that Norman exactly needs extra muscle. He has that shadowy creature on his side, after all. Still, stacking the deck in your favor is never a bad idea when dealing with Doom or Loki.

Meanwhile, Taskmaster is quickly trying to cover all his bases over at Camp HAMMER. He visits Penance to see if the former Speedball is doing ok for an inspection and finds the ex-New Warrior playing with his cat, Neils. Tasky tells Robbie that there's an inspection tomorrow and, as a person of interest to Norman, odds are pretty good that Osborn will pay close attention to how the hero is living. Taskmaster also thinks about getting rid of the cat because it's not manly enough. Penance tells Taskmaster in no uncertain terms that getting rid of Neils would be very bad for the future of Camp HAMMER. It's Baldwin's line in the sand, apparently, and I can't blame him. Cats are awesome. Taskmaster says Robbie can keep the cat if he promises to keep quiet when Osborn arrives but Penance knows he's carrying all the cards here and remains non-commital. It's not looking good for Taskmaster.

Speaking of, Taskmaster has more problems than one unruly ex-Thunderbolt. It turns out that Diamondback is a double agent working for the Avengers Resistance. No-one has figured that out yet except her boyfriend, Constrictor, and he's taking it pretty hard. To him, it all makes perfect sense. There's no way Diamondback would be with him when she's gone out with Steve Rogers. Constrictor considers himself close to bottom-rung. Diamondback doesn't have time to tell Constrictor anything before Taskmaster barges in.

Constrictor doesn't give his girl up. Taskmaster tells them both about the upcoming meeting, asks to meet Constrictor later, and leaves, happy that at least these two pose no trouble for him. If he only knew. Diamondback wonders why Constrictor didn't turn her in, and gets the answer that Taskmaster would have killed her if he did. Now, the problem is that both of their lives are in danger. That's fine with Constrictor. He's just happy to spend this time with Diamondback even if she's with him for less than honest reasons.

Of course, Diamondback is probably with him because she likes the guy. It happens.

The Avengers Resistance has more problems than just Diamondback's cover nearly getting blown. Back at their base in California, they welcome back Night Thrasher. This would be great news except for the fact that Night Thrasher might not be as legit as they all think. Donyell was captured a few days ago and, in the time he was away, he was offered a very special deal by Norman Osborn and the Hood: the life of his brother. You see, Donyell isn't the first Night Thrasher. His brother Dwayne has that honor. Dwayne was killed during the Stamford Incident that preceded the Superhuman Civil War. Ozzy and the Hood showed Donyell a genetically cloned body and told the younger Taylor Brother that they have a way of restoring Dwayne's soul to the new body. He just has to go to work for them. Donyell is kind of a jerk so it's very possible he took the Cabal members up on the deal.

All that will be revealed in the future. Right now, Donyell is told that one of the Avengers Resistance's early missions is bearing some fruit. A couple issues back, the team put a tracker in place at a bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. They expected that, eventually, North Carolina's "heroes," the U-Foes would rob the bank blind, but what they're finding is quite the opposite. The U-Foes are, instead, depositing money. Lots of money. More than they actually make in their roles as heroes. It's being funnelled in by some fake corporations and stuff but everything traces back to Norman Osborn. Now... why would Osborn be giving the U-Foes bonuses under the table? That's something that Night Thrasher is more than willing to look into.

While he's doing that, it's about time someone had a chat with Tigra and it looks like Ultragirl is up. Tigra's been engaging in a one-woman war against members of the Initiative, sort of reflecting the torture that the Hood inflicted on her to the Thugs that watched it go down. She's been violent. Very violent. When Ultragirl confronts her on this Tigra shows her the footage of the beatdown Tigra recieved at the hands of the Hood. While it's terrible to watch, it doesn't convince Ultragirl that using the same tactic back at the Hood's thugs is justifiable. Tigra doesn't really care what Ultragirl thinks. She insults the young hero's upbringing and lack of experience and sends Ultragirl away. If Justice doesn't approve of her actions then, fine, but until then, she's going about her business just the same.

I keep forgetting that Tigra is pregnant with the Hank Pym-Skrull baby. She's not showing yet.

Well, if it's gonna take Justice to make Tigra stop her ultraviolent ways, then Ultragirl's just going to have to talk to him. It seems that Vance wants to talk to her as well. Unfortunately, Vance isn't giving Ultragirl much chance at talking. These two used to go out and it looks like Vance wants to renew their relationship. He gives his little speech about life and death and how every moment is now more precious. Then, the two start making out. It's a magical moment.

So, it's been about five minutes since we visited Camp HAMMER so that means it's time for a meeting between Taskmaster and Constrictor. This meeting is actually more personal than business but that doesn't mean these two guys are going to start making out. It means Taskmaster needs some advice and he trusts Constrictor to give it to him. Norman has been hinting at a promotion and Taskmaster doesn't know if it's a good move to take or not. He's done well staying sort-of in the background, avoiding any major falls, basically taking orders from the world conquerors and escaping any major damage. Now, he's got a shot at being a major player and that means major risks. Constrictor's here to give him some premium advice.

Actually, some of this has been on Constrictor's mind as well. What's this game all about? Constictor doesn't tell Tasky to reach for the brass ring. He tells the man that you don't want to live with regrets, but you also don't want to go for something just because it looks impressive. You've got to do this because it's what you want to do. It's a little lame as far as advice goes but it helps decide things for Taskmaster. The two former villains turned super-heroes have a drink before turning in for the night.

The next day, Norman Osborn is led around Camp HAMMER. He inspects the troops, sees the Initiative trainees in combat, checks in on Penance, inspects the Initiative troops, and basically has a boring trip that doesn't lead him into believing Taskmaster is ready for the big leagues. Before he takes his leave, he asks what Taskmaster would do differently if in charge. Tasky decides to go for broke. He lets Osborn know that working with these villains is a bad idea waiting to explode. They aren't here to do good, they're here to get into trouble. What the Initiative needs is younger heroes that can be molded into the whatever fighting force is needed. Sort of like this title when it first started, actually.

Norman likes what he hears and immediately adopts it as his own strategy. It looks like he's found the man he was looking for. Taskmaster is ready for the big-leagues. Taskmaster appreciates that and tells Director Osborn that there are more ideas where that came from. He's entirely missed the point, though. This wasn't a promotion within the Initiative. It was a promotion to the leader's table.

And we all know how well that worked out for Taskmaster. If you don't, just read up above. He was in his first Cabal meeting and, minutes later, he took a blast by a Doom-Bot. Bigger rewards, bigger risks. These sequences all played out in the Siege: The Cabal One-Shot up above, but we get a letter written by Taskmaster to Constrictor instead of the original text. Obviously, Tasky isn't able to tell Constrictor all the details. The Cabal is a total secret, after all. What he does tell Constrictor is that, when you sit at the big table, the fall is a lot harder. It's a warning to not make similar mistakes, really.

Days later, Taskmaster wakes up at a HAMMER hospital with Norman Osborn looming over him. It turns out that the Doom-Bot hit him with a Plasma Wakefield Blast with a little magic mixed in to make it interesting. Taskmaster's suit protected him from the brunt of the attack, but the magic is what did most of the damage. While Tasky looks really bad, it seems like the bandages are mostly precautionary. Better still, Taskmaster should be ready for action within a week. Not that the newest Cabal member feels all that well right now. It seems like the magic attacked him on a spiritual level.

These scenes right here? This is the first time I can remember ever seeing any of Taskmaster's real features. Even in his own mini-series, he used a holographic disguise to alter his appearance. While he's still pretty bandaged up, you actually get to see more of his faces than I've ever seen.

The worst thing Taskmaster could do right now is try to quit the Cabal. That's exactly what he does. He's not quitting the Initiative, but he's learned that sitting with the world players burns deep and wants out while he can still walk away.

Of course, it's WAY too late to walk away. Norman pulls out one of his Goblin Batarangs and slices through Taskmaster's oxygen tank. As the room floods with oxygen, Norman yells at Taskmaster for trying to turn down the gift he gave. There are many insults hurled Taskmaster's way as Norman tells the injured man that there is no backing out. There's a vital mission coming up and Taskmaster is needed. If he doesn't accept, then Norman will ignite his lighter and this room will go up in a blazing inferno. No doubt, Osborn will survive, but odds are very good that Taskmaster will not. It doesn't take a genious to figure out Tasky's next move. He tells the HAMMER Director that his loyalty is assured.

Osborn calms right down. Putting away his lighter, he heads into the hallway to tell a nurse about the oxygen leak.

Taskmaster's letter goes on. He tells Constrictor that there's no going back. This is something he's going to have to see to the end even if the end looks like a drop off the side of a cliff. Taskmaster leaves Constrictor with some sound advice: Enjoy what you've got because, eventually, there'll be a price to be paid for it all.

Behind this text we see Tigra continuing her violent rampage against the Hood's thugs, Constrictor reading this letter while Diamondback watches, Justice and Ultragirl "enjoying a moment" in bed, and Night Thrasher learning exactly why the U-Foes are recieving an anonymous bonus. On that last thing... it's pretty obvious what Night Thrasher does about it is nothing. Looks like he's going for the deal Norman handed him.

Before Norman leaves the room completely, Taskmaster asks him what mission requires his quick return to active duty. Norman lets him know. They're going to attack Asgard. This surprises the hell out of Taskmaster. Oh, sure, it was mentioned during his first meeting with the Cabal but there was no mention that it would require the entire Initiative's help. It's looking like a suicide run might be in Taskmaster's future after all.

fcbda1.jpgFree Comic Book Day 2009 Avengers #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Jim Cheung

In this free issue, it's the end of Spring in New York so... snowstorm! Spider-Man swings around until Thor crashes in front of him. Thor falls unconscious but the threat remains. Ymir the Frost Giant. Spidey calls in the New Avengers. After they discuss the problem and come up with ineffective solutions, the Dark Avengers join the fun. Their solutions are equally useless but they get the Frost Giant's attention. The two Avengers teams are transported to whole new world which is a cross between the Marvel Universe and Ymir's home dimension. Ares figures the only thing that can beat Ymir, besides Thor, is the Sword of Twilight. The Avengers walk and fly to the holding place for the sword, fighting mythological creatures on their way. Ares breaks the seal on the Sword and everyone is transported back to New York City. Ymir has vanished when the threat of the Destiny Sword was realized. The Dark Avengers prepare to fight the New Avengers but Thor intervenes and demands that this not happen. The Dark Avengers take off until another time.

I know! This came out a LONG time ago! I always meant to add it in but never got around to it. Since this is the end of the Dark Reign, I'm guessing this is my last chance to tell the free tale of the Avengers. If you didn't get this issue when it came out in May of 2009, you missed out on a great story and what proves to be a proto-Siege tale. Inside, Brian Michael Bendis handles Asgardian Mythology for what I believe is the first time. Thor shows up. Both of his Avengers teams show up. Jimmy Cheung on art? This has it all. If you missed it the first time, go check out your local Barnes and Noble (or wherever you can find comics) and look for Heroic Age Magazine #1. It might still be on the shelf and you'll find a reprint of this comic inside.

It's May so you wouldn't expect to see a snowstorm in New York City. This isn't something that Spider-Man, swinging in to narrate this issue, had foreseen. It's also not out of the realm of possibility since sudden winter has certainly struck New York a couple times in the past (most recently in Spidey's own mag for a couple issues starting in ASM #555) but it's still something that surprises the young wall-crawler. It's not the only surprise he'll face this day. After some locals accuse Spider-Man of causing this, Peter catches the noise of a coming battle and turns to investigate.

Before he can even spin a web of any size, Spidey is nearly struck by the falling form of the god of thunder. Yeah! Thor! Thor is nearly unconscious but he tells the webslinger that, whatever the threat is, it's powerful enough to defeat him. That's no easy feat. Peter looks to the sky and sees the outline (and the eyes and teeth) of a monster. This doesn't look like a battle Spider-Man could face. Heck, it just took down the Mighty Thor. Spidey, no matter how amazing he is, isn't going to last long.

So it's a good thing he has a team to rely on. Avengers Assemble!

The New Avengers aren't prepared for something like this either. They're more street level than past teams of Avengers. They look at the ice monster and don't really know what to make of it. Fortunately, Clint Barton has fought this guy or someone like it in the past. Avengers #61, to be specific. That makes this guy Ymir the Frost Giant. At the end of that book, the Frost Giant met a Fire Giant (Surtur) and they were pushed out of this dimension. It's doubtful that they'll get the same ending from that issue because Surtur is currently dead and fighting Odin every day of his afterlife.

No-one finds Barton's information helpful even though he has identified the threat and everything. They're kind of jerks. Spider-Man shows up with Thor and the team thanks him for calling them up in the most sarcastic way possible. Man, the New Avengers woke up cranky. Ms. Marvel picks up the still unconscious Thor and flies off to a safe location. This leaves the rest of the team to fight Ymir without their most powerful teammate.

Well, you can't blame them for not trying. Luke Cage throws Wolverine into the snowy enemy with a fastball special. Logan enters one of the Frost Giant's eyes but the damage is superficial at best. All they've managed to do is piss Ymir off.

And that's when the Frost Giant's head explodes.

This has nothing to do with Wolverine. The Sentry has entered the comic and seemingly eliminated the threat. Seemingly. You'll see.

The rest of the Dark Avengers are right behind him. This includes Captain Marvel so this happened before he left the team. Spider-Man's dialogue boxes tell us who everyone is and also mention that Captain Marvel looked like a good guy until he joined this team. All building up to Noh's big return as a good guy.

Norman takes charge and, as a side note, tells the New Avengers that they're under arrest. They'll have more to deal with that a fight with each other, though, because Ymir isn't out of the fight at all. That head that was destroyed? It's not really a head. Ymir is an elemental creature and doesn't really need a humanoid body. He's winter personified. Or something. Ares explains it better than I do and keeps his mysterious voice going throughout.

Ymir reforms his head and notices Ares. This only enrages the Frost Giant. He hits them with a blast of snow, ice, and interdimensional transportation. Our heroes (and our villains) wake up somewhere else.

Venom chooses this moment to get some payback on Spider-Man. This leads to a whole big fight between Dark and New Avenger. Only Norman, Ares, and Sentry stay out of it. This isn't a time to fight. Iron Patriot orders his people to stand down. When they don't respond, he sends Sentry and Ares in to get order back. Venom gets a chewing out for not obeying immediately while Peter Parker is stunned that Ozzy is actually acting this capable.

The teams take a look around as Ares explains that they aren't in New York anymore. They can see a faint outline of their home but it's not reachable. They are inbetween realities in a world created by Ymir. Questions are raised on how to stop the Frost Giant. Ares's answer is to find Thor. Since that's not a possibility, they make the god of war think harder.

Eventually, he decides they need the Twilight Sword. This is where I completely miss the chance to make fun of Twilight and just keep plugging ahead. The Twilight Sword is the sword Surtur forged to begin Ragnarok. Even with the Fire Giant dead, the Sword remains. Since it's a Fire Giant Sword, it will probably do some major damage on a Frost Giant.

Until this quest is over, the two Avengers teams are on an official team-up. Iron Patriot makes sure that his team understands that killing a New Avenger will result in swift punishment. Capital-Variety Punishment.

Ares leads the way to the Twilight Sword using whatever godly powers of direction grab him. The rest follow with the fliers, taking to the skies for some reconaissance. A little while later, they reach the location of the Twilight Sword and find it surrounded by a fortress of ice that shouldn't be there.

Ymir's been redecorating.

Iron Patriot crashes down to earth. Not only is there a fortress, there are also flying frost monkey things defending it. Both Avengers teams get into the swing of this battle while Ares and a small number of others make for the Twilight Sword itself.

The Sword is encased in ice. Luke Cage wonders why Ymir didn't destroy the thing. After all, if you come in possession of the thing that can ruin all your plans, you probably try to make it not be anymore. Ares responds that the Sword can not be unmade. There's no Mount Doom hot enough to get rid of a Fire Giant's sword. Instead, Ymir just made it really hard to lay hands on it. In fact, Ares isn't permitting anyone but himself to touch it.

The god of war might seem humbled in the presence of this sword but now that he's put his mind on wielding it, there's no stopping him. He starts slicing through the icy shield surrounding the weapon. Back in the real world, Ymir feels his shields breaking down and disappears from the New York. The Avengers keep on battling through flying frost monkeys until Ares breaks through and gets his hands on the Sword.

Both teams reappear in New York. The snow is all gone. Ares is holding the giant blade of Surtur.

With the crisis over, it's time to renew the personal fight between Avengers teams. Norman starts reading off an arrest statement, making sure the team knows that they are under arrest for violation of the Super-Powers Information Act. The New Avengers can't believe how quickly things turned but they've been waiting for this fight for a while now.

It's not going to happen today. Thor and Ms. Marvel fly in to call an end to hostilities. Ares returns the Twilight Sword to the god of thunder. Thor looks Iron Patriot in the face and tells Ozzy that this battle won't happen today. They've won a pretty impressive victory and they won't ruin it by making more war in the streets of New York. It looks like Ares is backing Thor's play here, too. These are two gods that are on friendly terms.

Thor flies off and a stare down between Iron Patriot and Captain America begins. In the end, Norman flies off, telling his team to stand down. They aren't taking down the New Avengers today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.

Spider-Man and his team watch him go. Peter knows that Norman Osborn has to go down but that'll keep for later. Right now, his costume is soaked through and is starting to chaff.

na60.jpgThe New Avengers #60
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Stuart Immonen

Last issue, Luke Cage was offered a deal. The New Avengers planned a rescue. All of Cage's friends showed up. Doctors Voodoo and Strange located Luke. The New Avengers attacked Camp HAMMER. The Dark Avengers rushed off to defend the place. Luke Cage was rescued during a prison transfer. Iron Fist smashed up the HAMMER Helicarrier flight deck. The Dark Avengers arrived at Camp HAMMER to find the New Avengers had already left. The New Avengers were hanging out on a nearby mountaintop looking in on the Dark team and waiting for a call that Luke had been rescued. Everyone met up at Luke's hospital bed later on to wish the Avenger well. His heart? It had a device attached to it.

In this thrilling issue, Luke Cage wakes up surrounded by friends only to learn that he has some sort of bomb thing on his heart. Iron Patriot takes a call from the Hood and they discuss their arrangement in vague details. The Wondrous Wasp shows up just before the return of the New Avengers and they all get set to deal with that bomb resting comfortably on Luke Cage's heart. Dr. Strange and Mr. Pym shrink down to do some comic book surgery and the bomb's signal alters when they approached it. Norman Osborn gets the location of his heart bomb (Long Island). While he races off with his Avengers to greet Luke Cage, he has Victoria Hand contact Jonas Harrow to begin the countdown. This changes the bomb's signal yet again. Norman chases that signal down and finds that it's location is very personal: his summer home right on his bed. His house explodes as Luke Cage, the New Avengers, and all their friends celebrate from Avengers Hideout. Surgery is successful and revenge is super sweet. The Hood's Syndicate meets onboard the HAMMER Helicarrier and Parker blows Jonas Harrow's head off. After getting scolded, the Syndicate is told that it needs to operate under different rules now. They officially work for Norman Osborn. Their first mission? Hunt down the New Avengers and friends. Same as the last mission.

Luke has been rescued from HAMMER and thinks things are ready to get back to normal. He tries to get out of bed but his wife tells him he isn't ready just yet. Sure, he might be healing faster than a normal person but he just went through surgury after having a heart attack so maybe he should take some baby steps. Speaking of babies, little Danielle is with grandma. Just FYI.

Luke's friendly rescue service is still by his side. The New Avengers are still traveling cross country after distracting the Dark Avengers with an attack on Camp HAMMER in New Mexico. Luckily, some of Luke's friends have a brain. Doctor Strange figures Norman would have some failsafe just in case Luke escaped his clutches. Strange casts a spell to look inside Cage and they discover that something has been attached to Luke Cage's heart.

No-one knows what it is but they know it's not supposed to be there. Daredevil uses his special ears and detects that there is a signal connected to the thing but Matt can't tell if it's sending, receiving, or both. Jessica wants the thing off immediately but no-one is ready to do something so rash. After all, this little device might be a bomb set to blow if someone gets too close to it. Everyone discusses what this heart thing is but there's no way to be sure. What they need is an expert. Doctor Strange decides to call one in.

Meanwhile, the Dark Avengers are flying back to New York after being diverted to New Mexico. Even though Norman looks like he's in a hurry to return home, they are taking the scenic route. How do I know? Because his armor just told him that they were flying over Duluth, Minnesota. Since they're flying and you'd expect the quickest distance between New Mexico and New York to be a straight line, there's no way they should come anywhere close to Minnesota. Props for including a reference to my home state, though.

While over Duluth, Norman gets a call from Parker Robbins. The Hood has been off the map for a while but has returned with a new power source and the confidence that goes with it. Parker is now packing the Norn Stones which give him whatever powers he wants. Osborn scolds Robbins for losing control of his men. The Hood claims that he was having some power troubles but that they're all over now. He had help from Loki.

Norman is curious as to why the god of mischief would help the Hood but they have more important concerns to deal with right now. Ozzy made a deal with Parker. Now he's made a deal with Dr. Jonas Harrow. These deals seem to run contrary to one another. The Hood asks what they're going to do about this and we cut wide to watch Iron Patriot's flight across the sky.

Enough of that. Let's get back to Luke Cage. That specialist called in by Doctor Strange? Hank Pym. The Wondrous Wasp. Pym's entrance is completely ignored because the leader of the Mighty Avengers forgot to turn up his speakers. When he makes himself known, Hank freaks everyone out by still being ant-sized. He asks where they are but that's a secret for now. It would ruin the surprise.

The Scientist Supreme (ugh) wonders if this is the time for a team-up with the Sorceror Supreme but it seems like that'll have to wait for another day. This isn't the time for magic so much as a good heart surgeon. That's Doctor Strange territory.

Hank's not the only new arrival. The New Avengers have made their grand entrance. Maybe they took the more direct route back from Camp HAMMER or maybe their Quinjet is faster than whatever the Dark Avengers are flying. Maybe both. All they know is that time is running out because Norman Osborn IS in pursuit. They're ready to move out but that can't be done until Luke is properly taken care of. It's time for Doctor Strange to get small with Hank Pym.

Strange closes his eyes while Hank uses his Pym Particles. When the Doctor opens them, he's one a whole new level of tinyness. He and the Wasp fly up Luke's nose and get to work. Strange uses some spells to keep them invisible to Luke's immune system and they're off.

Spider-Man can't miss the opportunity to tell Luke that he has two guys inside him. Sexy.

In no time, our two tiny men are at their destination.

When they approach the device attached to Luke's heart, it changes its signal.

The Dark Avengers are back in New York. Victoria Hand finally gets through to Director Osborn and tells him that they have a read on the signal's location. She's also upset that it's taken this long to get through to Ozzy. She's been trying for a half hour now. Anyway, the signal is originating from Long Island and it's stationary. Iron Patriot orders his Avengers to Long Island and tells Hand to send a message to Jonas Harrow. It's time to "start the cycle."

Back at the heart of the matter, Pym and Strange are preparing to remove the heart device. Just as they start, it changes signals again and starts building up to an explosion. Daredevil tells the room so everyone knows.

Things happen fast from this point in. Doc Strange and Hank Pym continue to work on removing the device. Iron Patriot and his Dark Avengers fly in to Long Island. Ms. Marvel tries to keep Jessica Jones-Cage calm.

When Norman realizes where the Avengers were meeting he tries to get Harrow to disarm the bomb. Harrow cuts into his communications and tells the Director of HAMMER that this bomb doesn't have an off switch. Norman curses. We move inside and find that the Avengers and friends have already taken off but they've left the heart bomb resting comfortably on the bed.

The house they were staying in was Norman Osborn's summer home. It makes a pretty explosion. Norman throws down his helmet and stares angrily at the resultant inferno.

Back at the Avengers Hideout, it's finally time to celebrate. This was actually a nice victory for the New Avengers. They got Luke Cage on the mend. They blew up Norman's summer home. They had the Dark Avengers chase them all over the country and no-one stayed captured. Jessica's mother comes in with Luke and her baby. Everyone else files out so that the Cage family can have some alone time. On the way out the door, Danny Rand tells Luke that this isn't a matter of him owing them all a favor. They went to bat for Luke Cage because they like him.

Jessica's mom... not so much. She chews Luke and Jessica out for living such a dangerous lifestyle. She doesn't want little Danielle put at risk but that's what Luke and Jessica do every day. With that, she leaves. Jessica is angry but Luke tries calming her down again. After all, there's a lot of truth in what grandma was saying.

There's one last bit to clean up before we can head into Siege. What's going on with the Syndicate? Well, they're meeting aboard HAMMER's Helicarrier to discuss just that. They think that Norman will eventually betray them and decide to plan on that eventuality. This is all before Dr. Jonas Harrow even enters the room. Harrow is surprised to see them all. Jonas thought he was here to meet with Osborn. The Syndicate thought they were here to meet with Harrow.

They're all here to meet with the Hood. Harrow is here to meet one of the Hood's new magic bullets.

Parker yells at his team for ruining everything. He starts explaining how his deal with Norman Osborn worked. We all know that Norman had originally asked the Hood to have his crew sign up in the Initiative. We now learn that the Hood said "no" to that. Instead, he and the Syndicate did some favors for Osborn and stayed independant. Now, because of their actions, they are part of the Initiative. They work for Norman Osborn. They didn't before.

They try to pull out of the new deal but Osborn says no backsies. They've made their bed now they have to lie in it. But Norman isn't a terrible boss. He has a very particular mission for the Syndicate. They're going to go after the New Avengers, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Voodoo. They are to hunt these vicious heroes down and kill them until they're dead.

All except Spider-Man. Norman Osborn wants him alive.

daa3.jpgDark Avengers: Ares #3
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Manuel Garcia

In the last issue, Ares and his Shades invaded an old SHIELD base that is supposedly the location of Ares injured son. The base was long abandoned and littered with long dead Hydra and SHIELD agents. Once inside, they learned that they hadn't been moving towards Phobos' location but, instead, Ares' dead son, Kyknos. Kyknos explained how he will be the new god of war when his father is dead and resurrects a bunch of Hydra Agents. Ares and his Shades withdrew until Ares moved in to attack while his men escape.

In this gripping finale, the Shades decide to come to the rescue! Ares is being pulled apart by his horse kids when the Shades start killing them. Kyknos decides to burn his dad alive instead of having the god of war pulled apart. The Shades plan while Kyknos monologues to his daddy. One of the Shades emerges from the dead body of a mare while the rest attack from the entryway. The Shades begin dying but they free Ares before the killing begins. Ares attacks his son. After McGill throws his grenades at Ares and Kyknos, Kyknos tosses away his spear. This gives Ares the advantage in hand to hand fighting. After killing his son, he finds that his Shades have all been killed. Iron Patriot shows up later to chew out his god of war but leaves after seeing the look in Ares' eyes. Sitting on a throne of skulls, Ares has placed the dead around him with coins on their eyes.

Ares has trained four mortals in his ways of war and somehow they've lasted through the first two issues. One of them, Cameron McGill, is our narrator for this story. He won't last until the end so you might wonder who he's talking to or when. It probably doesn't matter. After the events of the past issue, the Shades (that's the name for Ares' military unit) are ready to fly away from this decommissioned Alaskan SHIELD base, leaving Ares behind to face whatever tortures await him.

This isn't something that sits right with any of them even though all that's waiting inside is death. They were taught never to run away and this seems a lot like running. It can't be helped, though. They aren't able to get a signal out for backup. The plan is to fly out of the jamming field and get help, or vengeance, for the god of war. It's a smart move but it's unnecessary.

McGill tells the others that he can set up autopilot for their ship while also programming it to automatically send out a distress signal. They don't have to leave and they'll still eventually get help. That's exactly what Ares would expect from them. It's time to rescue their boss.

Inside the abandoned SHIELD Base, Ares' son, Kyknos, is in the middle of sacrificing his father in order to attain the title of god of war. He's using the Mares of Diomedes (more of Ares' offspring) to tear the god of war apart. Imagine the pain involved when four horses are tied to your limbs and start pulling. You probably wouldn't last as long as Ares.

The Shades' counter attack is welcome relief. They kill two of the Mares before racing away. The other two Mares follow and meet their own end when they hit an explosive tripwire. That's all the horses Kyknos has. He smashes Ares into the ground with the blunt end of his spear until he can think of another way to kill... and eat... his father.

Soon, Kyk decides to just make this easy and burn his dad alive in a fire. In fact, why not add those Mares to the mix for extra flavoring?

The Shades are meeting in the SHIELD Base control room. They've got the cameras working and can now look down at what Kyknos is planning. Now, they just need to come up with a clever or insane combat strategy. They choose insane.

While they set up their insane scheme, Kyknos uses the time to talk some of his own crazy to his pop. Ares is tied up with the sinews of the Mares so there's no chance he'll break out. He's force to listen as his kid babbles on about having really built that temple of skulls for himself back in the day. Even he didn't realize it at the time but that's how going mad is.

Just then, one of the Shades (Travis Nevins) tears out of one of the Mares' bodies and shoots Kyknos point blank. This hurts the god but doesn't do any permanent damage. Kyknos orders his skeletalized Hydra to attack the other horses, believing them to contain the other Shades. When the Hydra get close, the Mares explode.

The other Shades weren't inside because: dead god horse= ew. They instead attack after the horses explode.

Arkady frees Ares while Travis is keeping Kyknos busy. They don't last long. Travis is killed off-panel. Arkady is speared right in the head. The god of war has been freed, though. He sees what his son has been doing and how Kyknos has been acting and is a little appalled. You can imagine what it would take to make the god of war disgusted in his son. Ares doesn't like how sadistic Kyknos is. Sure, war and death is one thing. Kyknos? Whole different level. Without any weapons, Ares attacks his offspring.

This gives Kyknos a clear advantage but will he be able to capitalize on it? This IS Ares, after all.

And Ares has two Shades left that haven't been killed yet. Our narrator, Cameron McGill, runs in to lend a hand, leaving Max Ritter to keep the Spartoi at bay.

But what can McGill do? That gun of his isn't going to make much of a difference on Kyknos' hide. Travis already proved that much. No, there's a better answer and it's the first lesson Ares taught him and his comrades.

Sometime you have to blow up your leader.

McGill tosses his grenade belt at Kyknos and Ares. The explosion separates the two but doesn't really injure either combatant. It's enough to piss off Kyk, though. The would be god of war throws his spear at McGill. The shot rings true and kills the Shade but it also takes away Kyknos' advantage. Now he has to face Ares without the advantage of his spear.

While Cam has been sacrificing his life, Maximillion hasn't fared any better. He ran out of bullets and was overrune by Spartoi. All of the Shades are now dead.

In hand-to-hand combat, Ares proves the victor at the cost of his son's life. Ares apologizes while killing his kid. The deed done, the god of war addresses the Spartoi... and possibly his fallen Shades... and tells them that he should have trained them better.

Twenty-five minutes later, help finally arrives. Iron Patriot finds Ares in the ruins of the Alaskan SHIELD Base. The skulls have been stacked up into a makeshift throne. Norman is annoyed that his god of war went off the grid on an unapproved mission and is even more irritated that they all got killed. This isn't the training he expected. Ares tells the Director of HAMMER to walk away.

Not something most people could get away with. Norman doesn't follow his subordinate's orders very well. Still, after giving his Avenger a long, hard look in the eyes, the Iron Patriot decides that maybe backing off is a good idea.

Ares tells the departing Norman that he did what he was ordered to do. He taught the Shades everything he could.

At the feet of his throne, Kyknos and the Shades lie with coins on their eyes.

asm66.jpgThe Amazing Spider-Man #66
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: John Romita Sr.

In this issue, Mysterio plans his latest attack on Spider-Man! Spidey retrieves his gear from the wreckage atop the Bugle but can't sell his photos to J Jonah Jameson! Myterio "robs" a bank and fails to get Spider-Man to attack him! Gwen Stacy forgives Peter Parker! Capt. George Stacy meets with Robbie Robertson to discuss the mysterious Spider-Man! Norman Osborn is wearing the Goblin suit again! Mysterio calls out Spider-Man on the television! Spider-Man walks right into Mysterio's trap!

It looks like Mysterio has broken out of prison and has yet another master plan to unleash on Spider-Man. Quentin Beck is less about the crime and more about the showmanship. Instead of planning one heck of a hyst, he's directing his attention on Spidey directly. To that end, he's created a small amusement park model and a very special weapon that will give his special effects training a workout.

Beck explains exactly how he broke out of prison but it's not really too important to the story. It just involves raiding the prison pharmacy until he's able to get enough chemicals to effect his getaway. With that done, he set right off to scheme this latest master plan. Now, he just has to enact it.

As usual, Spider-Man doesn't suspect that another one of his villains has escaped through the revolving prison door to threaten him once more. Heck, he's just gotten a handle on the last one doing the same thing (that's the Vulture, FYI). In the aftermath of the Vulture's last battle, Peter finds himself returning to the top of the Daily Bugle to recover some lost items. He finds his civvies and camera in relatively good shape. Sure, his shirt has been torn but it's the camera that is most irreplaceable.

Instead of heading right down and trying to sell some photos, Peter returns home to get a good night's sleep. It won't be easy. Even though he's tired, there's nothing like some old fashioned worry to clog Peter's mind and prevent a good night's sleep. OK, I worry a LOT but I have nothing on ol' Petey here. He worries about his dear Aunt May. He's distressed over Norman Osborn's last plunge into medical care. He has visions of J Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson floating around in his head. Most of all, he really wonders if Gwen Stacy will ever talk to him again.

Even running on as little sleep as he just got, Peter wakes up to find his latest round of battle wounds are already clearing up. It's good to have a proto-healing factor.

One thing Peter is short on (forever) is moolah. It's time to hit the Bugle and see if he can salvage his flagging reputation and sell some pics of the Vulture battle. He has some good photos but he also ended up running out on JJJ to save a kid as Spider-Man. When he gets to the Bugle, he learns that Jonah hasn't forgotten what happened on the roof. Since Jameson had a staff photographer join him on the roof after Peter left, the Bugle publisher doesn't think he needs any of Peter's pictures. JJJ gives Parker a piece of his mind and kicks him out.

Of course, J Jonah Jameson nearly eats his words when he sees the pictures snapped by his staff photographer. This guy could barely keep Vulture's wings in frame. This is embarrassing for the Daily Bugle. A fight happened right outside their window and they weren't able to get one decent picture. Jameson's pride prevents him from calling Peter back up and buying Parker's photographs.

And so, even though Peter's got what the Daily Bugle needs, they aren't able to do business together. Peter still needs a quick source of income and decides it's time to sell his motorbike. Parker hadn't had it very long but isn't able to sell it for even half it's original price. Still, money is money and a down-and-out college student needs some sort of funds. Peter sucks it up and sells his first motorcycle.

While leaving the pawn shop, Peter runs straight into Mysterio.

He doesn't have a chance to switch identities before Mysterio disappears in a cloud of smoke. The local police ask him if he knows where Mysterio disappeared to but Peter answers honestly when he claims to have no idea.

It turns out Mysterio had just made a very public store appearance. The villain wasn't robbing the place, though. He just appeared inside. The manager threw money at Mysterio but the special effects guru just turned it down. He wasn't out for quick cash. Mysterio was trying to lure Spider-Man into a trap.

Peter tries to get away and switch into his Spider-suit but thinks better of the idea. No, he's not giving up crime fighting again. It's just that there's no telling where Mysterio disappeared and Parker decides to leave this one to the police. Heck, it's not like Mysterio even committed a crime. Except for the whole jail-break thing. That might count.

It turns out Mysterio didn't even go very far. After covering himself with smoke, Beck dropped down into a street grating. There, he waited for the eventual appearance of Spider-Man. That must have been disappointing.

Peter is still lamenting the loss of his wheels but those thoughts are about to be pushed entirely out of his mind by two words: Gwen Stacy. Gwen recently found out that Peter Parker wasn't half as much of a douche as she thought he was. She decides to forgive him and our hero has a good moment of happiness.

The two spend the rest of the afternoon together. It's blissful and lovey dovey. You'd probably hate it. Me? I'm a romantic. I do enjoy seeing Peter with Gwen. They seemed to be really good for each other.

While Gwen and Peter enjoy their together time, Gwen's father, George Stacy, meets up with Robbie Robertson for a lunch date. The two are meeting to discuss Spider-Man. Both think Spidey is a good guy and both suspect a hidden connection between Spider-Man and themselves. They just have to figure out what it is. The two compare notes and make plans to get together again.

Bereft of his wheels, Peter Parker ends up taking a bus back to his apartment. By now, he doesn't care. He's in love with a beautiful woman and that's all that matters. When he gets home, he sees Harry about to leave. Parker asks Osborn about his dad but it seems no-one has heard anything from the senior Osborn lately. Harry is beginning to think he'll never see his father again.

That kind of talk totally ruins Peter's high on life vibe. He tells Harry that maybe it's time to check Norman Osborn's factory and the two drive off on an adventure. When they arrive at the chemical plant, they learn that Norman hasn't been there for days. It seems like this trip was a bust.

While they're driving off, we get a good look inside the plant and see Norman Osborn looking down at them. Yeah, he's here but he arrived secretly. This is one of those crazy moments where the Green Goblin personality is sneaking back into control. Osborn has found one of his secret rooms and is dressed back up in Goblin gear. He still doesn't know the true identity of Spider-Man yet but he's certain that the memory will return in time.

It will but not for QUITE a while. In fact, the next time we see Norman, the Goblin is back to being supressed again. This is just a wierd fluke and it shows that there's still potential for the Goblin to return.

Since Peter and Harry are driving around, Parker asks if he can be dropped off in Forest Hills for a visit with his aunt. Harry complies and we find Peter walking up to Aunt May's house shortly. When he gets there, he hears May screaming from inside. Peter wastes no time in smashing in the door (he'll probably blame that on burglars or something later but we don't see him mention it for the rest of the issue).

Peter finds his aged relative in front of the television, freaking out. It seems Mysterio has cut into all broadcasts and is projecting some special effects of what he could do to the city if all his tricks weren't special effects. All of this is an attempt to call out Spider-Man for a personal battle at "the first place they fought."

Aunt May nearly passes unconscious so Peter waits around for Anna Watson before leaving to take care of more important business. No-one puts Peter Parker's favorite aunt in a panic! He changes clothes back into Spider-Man and swings off to the old studio building where he first fought Mysterio.

This is an incredibly stupid plan. Mysterio is a special effects MASTER and Spidey's walking right into his carefully prepared studio. You can imagine how this battle goes. Well, it does have some back and forths and the wall-crawler doesn't go down easy. He still goes down.

The room is covered in smoke which masks Mysterio's location for most of the fight. In fact, Mysterio uses Spider-Man for a punching bag for the first round of this fight. Next up, Mysterio points out his model amusement park just so Spider-Man can get a sense at it's size.

All that is just preparation for Mysterio reaching that secret weapon shown earlier in the issue. Spidey makes one last lunge at his opponent but is held at bay by Mysterio's cape. The villain fires off the super weapon and it hits Spidey dead center even though the web-slinger did his best to dodge the attack.

What happens next is a lot like being killed, but it eventually changes to a feeling of rebirth. When Spider-Man is able to stand, he finds that he's standing right in the middle of the model amusement park. Except, this time, he's in scale with the whole thing. Peter looks up and sees a giant Mysterio looking down at him. That's not good at all.

And thus we end our chronicling of the Dark Reign and prepare for the Siege. Sure, there are a few stragglers but we'll get to them as they come out.

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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