It's the one-hundredth Super Reads!
Today, we check out Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #4 and Blast to the Past for The Amazing Spider-Man #121. Enjoy and spread the word!
Woo! 100 articles! I'd like to thank the Academy and the Mental Hospital where I will soon be residing.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege? Check no further than this link right HERE .
Because of the collectible nature of this event, we're switching things up just a bit. Let me know if you like these changes or you think they are the lamest thing ever. I may even listen!
Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #4
Writer: Scott Reed
Penciler: Miguel Munera
In this issue:
• Arcturus Rann is possessed by the Enigma Force and attacks Hiro-Kala.
• The Enigma Force explains that it's a continuity reboot device, which Rann then activates.
• Hiro-Kala uses Jentorra's misplaced magic in an attempt to teleport out of the Microverse.
• The Microns return to the Endeavor but Jentorra is left behind.
Reality reboots in the Microverse.
• Hiro-Kala snaps Lilha's neck and escapes.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE .
One way to celebrate your 100 articles would be to find your favorite comics and do walk throughs of them. I decided to read a stinker instead. Son of Hulk isn't a character I care for in any way. The Micronauts were cool but the team has been pretty well gutted at this point. This story is more complicated than it needs to be and the actual writing doesn't do you any favors. The art, while mostly standard, has moments of brilliance. Just one or two but they're the highlights of the issue so you take what you can get.
Last issue, Jentorra unleashed the Enigma Force Nullifier and tried to use it to kill Hiro-Kala. That didn't exactly work out for her. Now, the Son of Hulk watches as the Enigma Force Nullifier's energies swirl around him before taking off. Hiro-Kala explains that the Nullifier is going out to search for someone who can destroy him. Jentorra has been knocked down and is a bit bruised by this point but it looks like Hiro doesn't think her a threat. No-one is punishing her.
Carl and Mari leave Axeman Bone with his damaged rock sled and fly to Arcturus' last location. Marionette and Carl have learned that the people that came to K'ai and defeated the Cyclop infestation are no better than the Cyclop. In fact, they may be a whole lot worse. Mari is still ticked off at Arcturus for the way he's handled this mission. Arcturus is dying, after all, and seems much more interested in trying to save his own life than worrying about the fate of the K'aitans. He nearly didn't agree to this mission.
The Enigma Force Nullifier blazes past them. It's heading straight for their defacto leader, Arcturus Rann. This... doesn't please Mari at all.
At least Rann is awake when he's hit by the Enigma Force (or Enigma Force Nullifier-- the terms are used interchangeably throughout this issue). This is a chance for Arcturus to get out all his frustrations. He's near death because of his exposure to the Enigma Force. He thinks his years of service to this power shouldn't end in his death. It's unfair. The entire time, the Enigma Force tries to tell him that the Enigma Force Nullifier isn't what he thinks it is, but the Commander isn't really listening.
So this force enters his body and forces him to listen. At the same time, it forces Rann to act, striking down Hiro-Kala with a punch that shatters the Son of Hulk's jaw. This sudden attack gives Jentorra hope. Since there's no panel showing Rann running/flying/etc. to Hiro-Kala's location, this maneuver seems to have happened with absolutely no warning.
Meanwhile, the cosmic power starts telling him what the purpose of the Enigma Force Nullifier actually is. Sure, it can cure Arcturus from long-term exposure to the Enigma Force but that's not what it was made to do. It was actually created to prevent something just like this. Hiro-Kala's existance in the Microverse threatens everything. The Nullifier is able to reboot reality so that Hiro doesn't exist. Commander Rann has two options. He can either cure himself and become a god or he can use the Nullifier for it's true purpose and reboot the Microverse.
It turns out smashing Hiro's jaw is a temporary thing. The Son of Hulk reforms it and slowly gets back to his feet. Still, this is a battle that clearly favors Arcturus. Hiro-Kala doesn't get one good attack in.
From a distance, Lihla watches this conflict but she's more concerned with her own teenage issues. She's in love with Hiro but he doesn't love her back. This... is a GOOD thing. Hiro-Kala's Hulk powers are activated by love and they are so strong that they will destroy the universe. Lihla knows all this. She's even seen the future and knows that it will be Hiro's love for HER that dooms everything. Since she's a teenage girl, she can't help to stay by the Son of Hulk's side and wait for that event to happen. Even as the rest of Axeman Bone's warriors are leaving, Lihla stays behind to be with Hiro.
The Enigma Force continues telling Arcturs what Hiro's ultimate plans are. The Son of Hulk has already poisoned Galactus with concentrated Old Power. When Hiro-Kala will activate these energies, releasing all the power that Galactus has been storing across the galaxy. This explosion will destroy worlds containing Old Power energy. The Microverse will be destroyed. If Rann uses the Nulifier to become a god, he won't even care that the Microverse is gone.
But there's no real choice for a man like Arcturus Rann. He could be a god but he'd rather be a hero. He might not even exist in the rebooted Microverse. It's a chance he'll take. He unleashes the Nullifier and his features immediately become those of an old man. It doesn't prevent him one last uppercut. It hits the Son of Hulk and shatters Hiro's body.
Marionette and Carl arrive. Mari's attitude has changed. She knows that Arcturus was looking for the Nullifier to prevent his death and now she really wishes that he had used it that way. She holds the aging man close and apologizes.
And now it's time for Jentorra to do something stupid. She doesn't know that Rann has already won the fight. Jentorra uses her magic to teleport Hiro-Kala out of the Microverse. This would ruin all the work Arcturus has done and he tries to make her stop the spell but it's too late. Hiro has put himself back together and fights the spell.
He's also realized that he was brought to K'ar through Jentorra's powers.
Jentorra and Hiro struggle for mastery over the teleportation spell. Hiro-Kala gets a page of internal monologue where he rants about the dangers of the Old Power and how similar he is to Arcturus Rann. He decides that he'll use the teleportation spell to take what he needs from the Microverse and leave the rest behind. The Son of Hulk turns towards Lihla and tells her that he's sorry.
The K'ai ships have launched as the Nullifier wave begins to overtake the planet.. Commander Rann raises the Endeavor from it's ocean parking place and orders the ship to retrieve him and his teammates. Jentorra loses control of her spell and falls to the ground.
The Son of Hulk knows he's lost and decides to take his ball and go home. In this case, the "ball" is the entire planet of K'ai. He combines his New Power with the teleportation spell and surrounds the planet with his energy.
The Endeavor surrounds the Microns in a teleporter ball but it leaves Jentorra behind. Commander Rann tries to get the ship to expand the field but it's too late. They've already pulled out of range. All this and she never told the Microns her name. Don't feel bad, Arcturus. It took us three issues to get that bit of information.
The Son of Hulk is busy trying to pull the planet out of the Nullifier wave.
The last thing Hiro-Kala wants is for Lihla to look at him, especially with what he has planned.
Jentorra lists her various titles for her inner monologue while trying to cast another spell. This one seems to be a spell of protection.
The planet K'ai skids off the Nullifier wave, breaking off bits of the planet. The rest of the sphere teleport way before the wave can crash over it.
With the planet safely in the normal universe, Lihla races over to her love only to get caught in a choke hold. She can no longer be allowed to live. Hiro-Kala breaks her neck. Looks like the prophesy has ended.
Inside the Microverse, no-one realizes that the whole place has been rebooted. Arcturus explains that they were affected as well so they wouldn't actually know what had been changed. The fact that he's alive and well appears to be one change that they've overlooked. Bits of the planet K'ai hang at the edge of the Microverse right where the Fault begins. Commander Rann sends out a probe to see if there's anyone still alive on any of these planetoids but it's probably too late to find anything. It's already been four weeks since reality rebooted.
The big question is: what do they do next? Rann asks Marionette her opinion. She thinks the most important thing to do would be to add some more team members. Rann fills in the blanks for their second objective. Then, they go after Hiro-Kala.
We pull outside the ship and take a good look at one of those planetoids. It looks like Jentorra survived and was separated on a rock that separated from the rest of her planet. On the same asteroid but on a different side, one of the Cyclop is also lurking. Below all this, the probe searches for signs of life.
The Amazing Spider-Man #121
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciler: Gil Kane
In this issue:
• Peter Parker tries to visit Harry Osborn, but is kicked out by Norman, along with Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane.
• Norman, overcome by burdens from all sides, relapses into the Green Goblin.
• Peter catches a cold from his trip to Canada.
• Green Goblin kidnaps Gwen Stacy.
• Spider-Man comes to the rescue but isn't able to save Gwen's life.
This is the moment that many see as the beginning of the Bronze Age. Stan Lee moved on from his writing duties and handed off his babies to a new generation of writers. Stan had even given the Editor's reigns over to Roy Thomas. Many of these new guys had grown up reading the Silver Age Marvel books. Gerry Conway had been reading Amazing from the first issue. He was pretty well-versed in the way of the spider.
Spider-Man is a hero shaped by the tragedies that have gone into his life more than his victories. His entire destiny was created when he let a burglar go whom eventually killed his uncle. Peter was always worried that another person close to him would die because he didn't take his powers seriously enough. It's this element and many others that led to the death of his first and, arguably, greatest love.
Not that Peter's life is bereft of other tragedies. Harry Osborn has just gone back off the deep end and started using again. His last trip went really bad. Harry finds himself lost to schizophrenia and pretty much confined to a bed in his father's home. Norman Osborn is trying to keep Harry's condition out of the papers so he's refusing to have his son brought to a hospital for proper care. Right now, it's up to his personal physician to keep Harry stable.
Spider-Man listens in from outside his best friend's room as the doctor explains Harry's condition to Gwen Stacy and Mary-Jane. Part of him probably doesn't even want to go in the room and face this again but who said the life of a super-hero was easy? Peter changes into his street clothes and enters the house.
He's stopped by Norman Osborn. Old Normy has decided that his son wouldn't be in his current predicament if Harry had chosen better friends. He also might think that Harry's friends are also drug users. Maybe they allowed this to happen. They might have MADE Harry use drugs in some revenge scheme against the senior Osborn. The reasons for Norman's attitude are endless.
Peter, of course, worries that the Green Goblin might be making a comeback. This time, Peter's concern will turn out to be true.
Gwen and Mary-Jane meet Peter in the hallway and also receive Ozzy's wrath. The three are kicked out of the Osborn residence. Everyone feels bad about leaving Harry alone when he needs them most but they have no choice. They also wonder why someone like Harry who gets everything he wants would ever turn to drugs. It's a hard question to answer but they try to explain that it's all about what's going on with Norman and his company. Apparently, it's too much for Harry to handle.
His dad isn't that stable, either. Norman obviously has his own mental issues to deal with. These are compounded by troubles with his stocks. His company is failing. Osborn learns that his stocks are down again shortly before his son enters the room. Harry tries to convince his father that he's fine but that myth is quickly exposed when the younger Osborn collapses on the floor. Norman helps him back to bed and calls his doctor up once more.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker has switched to his Spider-Man suit for a quick swing over to the Daily Bugle. On the journey, he realizes that he's caught one hell of a cold during his time in Canada. At the Daily Bugle, Peter starts hacking up a lung during his conversation with Robbie Robertson. When J Jonah Jameson sees him, Peter is quickly sent home. At least Peter got those pictures from his Canada trip delivered before being kicked out.
Peter continues to get worse and decides to get home as quickly as possible. He switches back to Spidey and starts the trip back home.
The doctor has again stabilized Harry's condition. He advises getting Harry to a hospital but it's still in Norman's hands. Once his doctor has left, Norman finds himself hounded by his own personal demons.
SPIDER-MAN! He's plotting against him! He's always been trying to bring him down! Ozzy sees a vision of Spidey and lunges at the apparition. As the ghostly form passes through his body, memories explode in his brain. He remembers it all. The Green Goblin is back.
He just needs to dress the part. Slipping away, Norman heads to a secret lab to get into his best greens. Now, it's off to deliver some payback on that worthless Peter Parker.
Except, when he gets to Peter's apartment, he finds Gwen Stacy instead.
Spidey's finding that swinging across town is a more dangerous proposition when you're fighting the flu. When he makes it to his home, he heads for the window instead of climbing to the roof to make the switcheroo first. He just hopes that Gwen isn't waiting by his window for his return.
And then, of course, he really wishes that she was there because the reality isn't good at all. Gwen has been taken and all that's left is her purse. There's also a jack 'o lantern. Peter puts the two together and knows exactly what's happened. The Green Goblin is back and knows his secret identity again.
Spidey swings out the window but doesn't know where to go. It's not like the Green Goblin gave him any clues in the apartment. He decides to follow his spider-sense and is lead to the George Washington Bridge.
If you were wondering why Spider-Man spends so much time dealing with this bridge during the eighties and nineties, it's because of this story right here. Peter associates this place with the death of Gwen Stacy. So do the writers and editors. Whenever you see this bridge in a Spidey comic, Gwen is going to be mentioned or the whole event is going to echo.
Peter's off his game. We already saw that when he was swinging home and nearly fell off a building. That flu is hitting him HARD. Still, there's no doubt in his mind that he'll be able to rescue his girlfriend and stop the Goblin without too much trouble. Even when he realizes that his attacks are weaker than normal, he has no negative thoughts in his mind.
For Gwen's part, she's already blissfully unconscious. Her last memories won't be about a fight on the top of the George Washington Bridge. They might be about getting abducted by the Green Goblin or maybe it's her worries about Harry. I guess anyway you look at it, Gwen's last moments of consciousness were troubled.
Spider-Man's giving this one his all but his head is spinning. There's no telling how long he'll be able to keep this fight up. Peter decides that he'll cut his losses. He can rescue Gwen now and worry about the Goblin at a later date. He snags Gobby in for one last punch before retreiving his girl.
While it looks like an impressive blow, Peter knows that it was much weaker than it should be. The Green Goblin is already recovering when Spidey reaches the top of the bridge.
In fact, Goblin gets to Gwen first. Instead of attacking Spider-Man, Green Goblin knocks Gwen off the bridge and watches the results.
Spider-Man catches Gwen with a webline. It snags around her leg. The sudden stop in mid-air causes Gwen's spine to snap. Spidey pulls her up but she's already dead, her head hanging lifeless.
Peter doesn't know that when he's lifting her up. He thinks he's saved her like the hero's supposed to. When he finally gets her to the top, he can't believe she's gone.
The Green Goblin actually tries to take away Spider-Man's guilt by telling him that there was no way a body could fall that fast and live. It was the fall that killed her before the webbing ever wrapped around her leg.
Now, that's been proven false in many issues. Spider-Man's webbing didn't have enough elasticity to prevent Gwen from snapping her neck. In later occasions when Spider-Man is saving someone from a fall like this (and it's happened more than you'd think), Spidey hits a body with multiple weblines (retooled to be more flexible) in order to prevent just one part of the body from taking the full strain. It's a lesson learned but it doesn't bring Gwen back.
Next issue, Spider-Man will begin blaming himself for Gwen's death. In this issue, he knows right where to place the blame. It's the Green Goblin's fault. Norman Osborn is going to have to die.
Wow. That was a lot harder to read through than I thought it would be. It's one of the saddest Spider-Man stories you'll ever read. Highly recommended.
I hope you enjoyed our first one hundred articles! Stick around for one hundred more. Maybe. If you're lucky. :)
Until next time: Excelsior!
Now, enjoy this look back over the first one hundred articles with this wall of article icons!