The Heroic Age officially begins!
Today, we check out Avengers #1, Enter the Heroic Age #1, Age of Heroes #1, The Invincible Iron Man #26, Deadpool #23, Atlas #1, Avengers Assemble, and Blast to the Past for Captain America Comics #1. Enjoy and spread the word!
Oh, hell yeah, it was a HUGE week!
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege? Check no further than this link right HERE .
Let's get right to the return of the Avengers:
The Avengers #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
In this issue:
• Immortus is killed by the Next Avengers!
• Steve Rogers asks everyone to work for him as Avengers.
• Wonder Man decides that it's the Avengers fault that everything bad has happened ever.
• The new team gathers at Avengers Tower and is assigned a handler in Maria Hill.
• Kang the Conqueror crashes the party and the fight o'the month begins!
• Kang pulls out a doomsday device invented by Tony Stark and forces everyone to calm down and listen to him.
• After warning the Avengers about their naughty future children, Kang leaves them to figure their own way into the future.
• While the Avengers work on that, Kang returns to the future Hulk and a Spider-Girl where things turn out to not be all that they seem.
The Avengers are back, baby! In the epic (if not exactly... GOOD) Avengers Disassembled, Brian Michael Bendis tore Earth's Mightiest Heroes apart. While the team has existed in different forms in the last few years, the classic line-up had mostly been retired. Sure, Captain America and Iron Man were still teammates until Civil War pulled them apart but the classic trinity of Thor, Cap, and Iron Man hasn't appeared in an Avengers comics since even BEFORE Avengers Disassembled.
This is a return of not only the Avengers trinity but also our first look at how Steve Rogers will run things as America's new Top Cop. Anyone who thought we'd see the return of SHIELD (like me) is going to be surprised. The former Captain America is laying the future directly in the hands of the Avengers.
And, speaking of the future and the Avengers, that's where we're going right now.
We join Immortus after he's already been beaten down. This is going to take a lot of explaining, isn't it? I didn't include Immortus in that little fact box because he doesn't get a whole lot of panel time in this comic and that monster box is already larger than I'd like it to be. Immortus was once the future iteration of Kang the Conqueror until events in Avengers Forever separated the two into different beings. This means Kang is free of his future of becoming Immortus but Immortus is still sort of future Kang based on his past memories and everything.
While Kang is a time warrior, Immortus is more of a time master. He manipulates the time stream to some unseen purpose. Sometimes, he's seen as a good guy and other times he causes things like the Crossing and blames it on Kang. The guy is complicated.
Soon, he'll be dead. A guy like Immortus isn't a push over. He's got a ton of power and all of it has been wasted in this battle. Still, when a "villain" of Immortus' calibur is about to die, he's going to rant a little. He swears vengeance on his enemies even as they strike him down. The last blast is a lightning bolt. We swing our panel camera around to get a look at his foes and see...
That they're the Next Avengers! Even more explanations! That's why you're here, right? The Next Avengers are appearing in comics for the first time but this isn't their first appearance ever. They're from a cartoon DVD ingeniously titled "Next Avengers" The team includes the son of Captain America and Black Widow (James Rogers), the daughter of Thor (Torunn), the son of Black Panther and Storm (Azari), the son of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne (Henry Pym), and the son of Hawkeye and Mockingbird (Francis Barton). In the DVD, they faced down Ultron in a post-apocalyptic world, defeating him even when their parents couldn't. They were also raised by Tony Stark so maybe they have a reason for being complete dicks. For example: after killing Immortus, they don't even look like they were paying attention to the fight.
OK, back to what passes for the present. The Heroic Age has begun! Steve Rogers is America's Top Cop! It's time to put together his very own team of Avengers!
This isn't a crazy concept. Captain America is a premier Avenger and has led the team for a good portion of it's lifespan. He's put together teams before but has usually done it by committee (with the rest of the Founding Avengers). He put together the first line-up of New Avengers, though, so that might give you an idea of who gets on the main Avenger team (because there WILL be lots of Avengers teams in the Heroic Age).
This being the first Heroic Age Avengers book released, Steve's going to assemble EVERY team right here. He does this while the various heroes are helping repair the damage at Soldier Field. If you've been watching solicitations or looking at any Avengers ads, there aren't any real surprises here.
Except for Wonder Man. Simon Williams fell apart after Secret Invasion. On the Letterman Show, Simon told the world that the Dark Avengers were villains and assassins and that was just what the country deserved. Falling further, he joined up with his brother, the Grim Reaper, in an attempt to kidnap Norman Osborn. This got him locked up at the Raft. Steve used his influence to get Williams pardoned but Wonder Man isn't interested in joining any Avengers team.
Simon thinks that the Avengers are responsible for everything that has gone wrong. Their very existence has caused nothing but trouble ever since the Civil War. Steve grants Wonder Man the Civil War bit, but the Avengers are obviously not responsible for the Skrull Invasion or anything else that's happened since. They've just been trying to fix those things. There's no reasoning with Simon Williams, though. Wonder Man tells Steve that putting the Avengers back together is a bad idea and to turn away from it. Once Rogers walks off, Simon warns that he'll take personal action if the Avengers are put back together but Steve is out of earshot by then.
It's a fair warning, right?
It's time to meet the roster for the Avengers team. They meet together at Avengers Tower so that Steve can butter them up and tell them why they've been chosen for this. If you look up and to your right, you can see that roster listed in the Fact Box but I'll say it again just incase you're having some loading issues: Thor, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America (James Barnes), Spider-Woman, and Iron Man. Steve was hoping Wonder Man would show up and complete the roster (which is a lot of super-heroes as it is) but no such luck.
After this part of the meeting, everyone breaks into smaller groups to have more personal conversations. Spider-Man questions Clint Barton's return to being Hawkeye. Clint answers that this is the proper Avengers and they need a proper Hawkeye. Spider-Woman doesn't think she's worthy to be on the Avengers and gets a pep talk from Wolverine. Bucky Cap has an awkward talk with Thor where the god of thunder wonders who's under the mask.
Most interesting is the conversation between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. These two found themselves on opposite sides during the Civil War (even though Tony doesn't remember it, he knows he'd do it again) so Stark is worried about the two being on the same team. Steve isn't concerned. After all, he won't even be leading this team. That honor goes to Maria Hill. This is something Tony can more than live with.
Now that our team is assembled and everyone's been introduced, it's time for Kang the Conqueror to show up.
Kang has a very dramatic entrance where he swings around his gun and announces that everyone needs to pay attention to him. Unfortunately, Thor takes this as reason enough to attack and this battle quickly leaves the Tower and hits the many rooftops of New York City.
Enter: doomsday device. Kang whips out an incredible egg of destruction which Tony Stark immediately recognizes as some device he designed, wrote down, but never intended to build. Kang forces Iron Man to explain just what this thing does. Apparently, it's a dark matter accelerator that can turn the entire city inside out. This doesn't sound pleasant so it's time to listen to Kang and not force him to activate the egg of evil.
So Kang fills them all in on the future and what the Next Avengers have been up to. Many of the Avengers are very interested in what kind of kids they'll make even if they do turn out to be douches. The Conqueror continues to explain that only the Next Avengers were able to defeat Ultron. They HAVE to exist or the future is over. After Ultron, however, they need to be stopped before THEY destroy the future.
Kang doesn't offer to take them to the future himself or give them the means to travel through time. He knows they'd never accept it... even though they might. No, this is something he knows they need to do for themselves. If they can stop their future children, Kang's vendetta with them will be over. The slate will be wiped clean.
Kang leaves with the cryptic message that they'll know how to travel through time when their last teammate joins them. Then, everyone's favorite Avengers villain exits stage left.
Earth's Mightiest are left with a lot of questions. I mean, do they actually need to look into this? This is the future, after all. It's something that could be dealt with later, right? Thor stands up and says this is something that they'll need to look into. It might involve their kids. They need to help even if it's a wild goose chase.
Tony's already thinking about how to build a time machine. Doom's obviously out. Reed Richards isn't home. Steve tells Maria Hill to make a list on time travelers and any "how to" guides that might be lying around. You might wonder if Norman Osborn recorded Dr. Doom's Time Cube program. It turns out Wolverine might know a guy who can help them out.
Kang arrives somewhere in the future and tells some people off-panel that the Avengers are on their way. We turn and view his allies and find an aged Hulk (probably from the Next Avengers timeline) and a spiky-haired girl who looks like she'll have spider-powers. Hulk announces that the Avengers are going to learn just how smart he is.
Is there another game at work? Time will tell.
And if this story weren't enough, we also get the first chapter in the retelling of Avengers History from the very beginning. This is all text so it might take some time to go through, but it's a nice add-on when you're paying $3.99 for a comic book. I don't know if I'd consider it cannon, but it's the history of the Avengers as told by the Avengers themselves. Kind of cool, really.
Enter the Heroic Age #1
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Artist: Mike McKone
In this story:
• Reptil is a prisoner in a HAMMER base and is being experimented on.
• HAMMER Agents return Reptil to his cell.
• The Dark Reign ends and the lead HAMMER Agent decides to cover his tracks with a lot of deaths.
• Humberto goes dinosaur to break out of his cell and save his life.
• After a desperate escape attempt, Reptil runs into Wasp, Justice, and Tigra and joins the Avengers Academy.
We have not one but two anthology books this week. Enter the Heroic Age shines a spotlight on some new series jumping out with the Heroic Age banner. Age of Heroes, our other anthology, does a little bit of this as well but has some more stories that just supply atmosphere from Marvel's new direction. Also, Age of Heroes is four issues. Enter the Heroic Age is a nice little one shot.
First up is a story leading into Avengers Academy. This tale takes right at the end of the Siege storyline. Things are still under Norman Osborn's control but that'll end before we're done.
In Avengers: The Initiative, Norman Osborn let us know that he was looking to train young, impressionable kids to be his future army. Here, we see one of his victims. Reptil isn't a new character. In fact, he first showed up on the Marvel Super-Hero Squad cartoon before getting his first comic book appearance in his own Avengers: The Initiative one-shot. He's able to turn any part of his body into a dinosaur body part. This is an impressive talent but Osborn obviously thought it wasn't fully realized. He put his scientists to work unlocking his abilities further so that he could change into a variety of dinos at the same time.
Since it's Osborn, the scientist isn't using any type of humane treatment. He's using painful shocks to bring out Reptil's abilities. This may or may not be working.
The HAMMER Agent in charge finally puts a stop to this and Humberto thinks he's off the hook. Instead, he learns that the treatment will continue the next day. The scientist and the HAMMER boss start an argument about this while other SHIELD Agents direct Humberto back to his cell.
Reptil is spent. He'd love to fight off these HAMMER Troops but he can't activate his powers so soon after being disconnected from the torture device. Once tossed into his cell, Lopez decides that something subtle might give him more information and just changes his ears to make them more receptive.
What he hears is both the best and worst news of his short life. The lead HAMMER Agent gets word that Norman Osborn has been arrested by Steve Rogers. He explains this to the HAMMER scientist as he pulls out his firearm. Turns out Lead HAMMER Agent plans on getting out of this jam by destroying the evidence, both the paper trail and the people. He's not stupid. Norman Osborn put him in charge of a number of incredibly illegal operations. When they are revealed, Lead HAMMER Agent is going to face charges. Unless they aren't revealed.
The scientist is killed and Reptil knows that his own turn will be coming shortly. He's worn out from all the torture and isn't trained well enough to defend himself. Even more? He hasn't had a team-up with Spider-Man yet OR kissed a girl. Dying is definitely coming too early. So it's time for Reptil to do his best at escaping.
His surprise attack with dino limbs gets him out of his cell but he's still too spent to do any heavy fighting. These are just delaying tactics to get him a little bit further.
The remote droids pull in to end this fight before it's begun and Reptil shows a surprising amount of talent in his last ditch escape attempt. He's switching dino forms as fast as he can, trying to defeat his captors before dropping himself. He's pretty spent, though, and it catches up to him. When he can no longer use his dino changing ability, Humberto waits for the drones to kill him.
Surprise rescue time! Hank Pym shows up just in time to smash a drone and save the life of a young hero. Justice and Tigra show up as well, and they've brought a Quinjet for transportation. The Avengers are back and they're looking for some kids to train!
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Gabriel Hardman & Giancarlo Caracuzzo
In this story:
• A Kree Sentry attacks Hawaii!
• An old lady tells the story of when it attacked the first time and was defeated by the Agents of Atlas.
• The first time, the Sentry says it will return in 52 years.
• Looks like it did.
• The Agents of Atlas attack!
• 3-D Man watches this on television.
Get ready for the lead in for the brand new Atlas book! It starts right here!
Waikiki, Hawaii is hosting one of it's very own giant robot attacks. While we don't get a clear look at the threat, one old lady recognizes it from a long, long time ago. Her grandson is telling her to run but she's holding her ground. All of this has happened before.
This is a story she's told her grandson before but he never believed it to be true. After all, the story involved a talking gorilla and a robot. She recalls the story for our reading pleasure.
The year was 1958. The Cold War is in full effect and the Space War has just recently begun. Naturally, it's time for a monster to attack Waikiki. Stuck right in the path of this thing is the Grandmother telling this story. Granted, this is fifty-two years ago so she's a lot younger.
This monster is apparently composed of biological matter. It's smashing people and putting heads in it's mouth. Good times.
Right before it's about to kill our narrator, enter the Agents of Atlas! Or... rather, enter whatever the Agents of Atlas called themselves in the fifties... they didn't get the Agents of Atlas name until quite recently. Before that, they were just a group of super-heroes put together by FBI Agent, Jimmy Woo. Gorilla Man scoops up the young lady before any harm can come to her.
The team goes straight to work, but ends the battle by doing what they always do: relying on Venus to make the biological creature drop his defenses and then shooting it with all their various power blasts. M-11 even switches to death ray.
The monster dissolves into it's component parts, leaving the control device unprotected. It seems that this thing is a variation on a Kree Sentry Unit, calling itself the Sentinel. It was left here 80,000 years ago to protect a spaceport somewhere in the Pacific. Unlike other Sentries, this unit creates it's body from whatever is around it and can repair itself the same way. It didn't consider mankind to be a threat until it detected Sputnik's low orbit in 1957. The Sentinel started building it's body up after that and just came together for this attack.
It jumps out of Marvel Boy's hand and zooms off to reconstruct it's body. It even tells the team it'll take about fifty-two years to get itself back together for a counter-attack. M-11 sets it's watch. Jimmy Woo casually says that they'll be back in fifty-two years to defeat it once more.
In the present, the Sentinel is back up and running. This time, it built itself out of non-organic materials so it should be immune to Venus' attack. The old lady and his grandson stand defiantly in front of the towering robot. Grandma has faith that the Agents of Atlas will come and beat this thing and she's not going to give an inch of ground to it.
The Sentry is blasted back from the two innocent civilians. The Agents of Atlas have arrived! Most people would have forgotten all about the Sentry in the last half decade but M-11 doesn't really have that option. Jimmy asks Namora (who wasn't around to fight this robot the first time) if she wants to lead the way. She totally does.
As the Agents finish off their foe, 3-D Man watches this all on television news. Delroy is more surprised to find out that the Agents are real than to see them fighting in Hawaii where he once led the Initiative State team for the better part of an afternoon.
Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Artist: Jamie McElvie
In this story:
• Black Widow is trying to acquire a device for targeted assassinations through some good old fashioned spy work.
• She finds out that the device is actually a girl.
• Natasha takes the girl by making a bit of a scene.
• After a quick clothing change, Black Widow has to recover an escaping Tiny Dancer.
• Which is pretty simple.
• Romanova learns that the SIS Agents that gave her this mission knew she was going after a girl and doesn't bring her in.
• Steve Rogers gets a call.
This story has little to do with the current Black Widow book. It's got a different creative team responsible for it and everything. So, if you want a teaser of what's going on in Black Widow's title, this isn't for you. If you're a completist who wants the whole story on Black Widow's current adventure in her own book, you can also avoid this. It doesn't tie into what's going on in her book. It's just a story about the Black Widow. It's not even bad. The art is ok and the story is interesting enough that I kind of want some follow up but it's one-shot nature makes it pretty unnecessary.
Maybe they'll call back to it in the future of Black Widow's book.
Natasha Romanova is in Moscow. It's her old stomping grounds! She's at the State Kremlin Palace where a ballet is about to begin. Coppéllia. I don't know ballet so all I can tell you is what Black Widow tells us. It's a ballet about a life-size doll. It's something Black Widow remembers dancing when she was a kid but, since that's a memory implant, it just shows that whoever entered that false memory is twisted as hell.
Black Widow isn't here for the show. She's here on business. Natasha's Secret Intelligence Service clients have given her the job of obtaining a "device for targeted assassinations," code-named, Tiny Dancer. The sale of this thing is going on right here. Since she's in Russia, Lina Alekseeva of GRU is here to keep an eye on her.
The seller and his entourage arrive. Sarkis Sakal. It seems he usually doesn't close a deal so personally, but he's extremely proud of this particular transaction.
The buyer shows up. Briefcases are exchanged. Handshakes are made. And one member of Sakal's party changes hands: the girl with blonde bangs and black hair. Black Widow realizes right away that this Tiny Dancer isn't inside the briefcase. It's the girl.
Natasha thinks fast and moves in. She bluffs her way through the guards, claiming that Tiny Dancer (who she calls "Natalia" which is her own real name) is an actual ballet dancer who is very late for her performance. This causes a big commotion that draws local security. Now, it's all up to Tiny Dancer to keep this con going.
After thinking about it for a moment, TD keeps with the cover story, telling security that Natasha is her dance teacher. The two ladies quickly exit the room but are followed by the buyer's muscle. The new girl wonders who her rescuer is but this is no time for introductions. Black Widow just tells her that they're a lot alike.
One of the minions is in close pursuit but is stopped by Lina Alekseeva who has decided to back up Romanova's play. Black Widow just adds it to the list of IOU's she has with the lady.
For now, it's time to change clothes and meet up with the SIS. They get into some more nondescript clothing and leave the State Kremlin Palace. Natasha is giving Tiny Dancer instrucions before the new assassin punches her in the face and makes a run for it.
Seems the latest in surgical killing is tired of following orders. Black Widow is disappointed in the young girl but isn't surprised. It's what she would have done at the same age. 'Tasha throws a bola and wraps up Tiny Dancer's legs.
Black Widow casually walks up on Tiny Dancer, telling the new girl that there's nothing she'll do that will surprise Natasha. They most likely had the same training. We also learn that the teenage assassin knows English.
Tiny Dancer tries to surprise Black Widow by freeing her legs and going in with a kick but Romanova simply counters the move and threatens to break the youngster's leg if she doesn't get with the rescue. Because it's happening either way. This is enough to garner a degree of trust.
The two make their way to the Kremlin Gate where Natasha's contacts await her. She knows it's going to take some work convincing these people that their device is actually a girl but she believes she's working with the good guys so it'll all work out. When she sees the SIS Agents, she also sees that one of them is nonchalantly spinning a pair of handcuffs. Looks like she was the only one involved that didn't know they were looking for a girl.
Since the SIS Agents are a no-go, it looks like she'll have to use the next available back up plan. The two disappear in the crowd and get into 'Tasha's car. It's time to call in America's Top Cop. When regular spy work won't do, it's time to add some super-heroes.
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David Lopez
In this story:
• Hawkeye and Mockingbird take out some random bad guys!
• Chase scene through the streets of New York!
• When it looks like the gun runners are going to escape in a helicopter cage, Mockingbird takes out the van...
• While Hawkeye travels right up to the chopper, putting his wrist bow and arrow set to good use with the pilot!
• Mockingbird puts a tracer on the van.
• Clint asks Bobbie out on a date.
The team behind last year's New Avengers: The Reunion reunite for the return pairing of Hawkeye and Mockingbird! This is actually sort of exciting. You'd have to read up on how I felt about the Reunion mini-series. I can't remember. All I know is more Hawk and Mock sounds like a great idea.
Clint Barton hasn't been back in his Hawkeye uniform for very long but he's feeling great in it. Chasing down bad guys? Going all swashbuckler on them? Hawkeye is in top form. The bad guys, who turn out to be gun runners, are lead on a merry chase as they try to escape the Avenger but, in the end, there was no real chance of that.
Yep. Hawkeye's back, baby. No more Ronin for him. It's all bow and arrow tricks until he gets the inkling to change size or something. So... two or three years, tops.
To help him finish up the fight is his ex-wife, Mockingbird. She's back, too, as of last year's Secret Invasion. The two have been teammates on the New Avengers though the Heroic Age sees them on to different teams. Bobbi is actually more focused on her WCA team (that's World Counter-terrorism Agency) so Avenging is put on the back burner.
The mission isn't done so they're back to work before to much can be said. Mockingbird asks Hawkeye to take over driving duties on her motorcycle as thw two take off after a van full of weapons and it's motorcycle escort. Bobbi overturns the two bikers with her battle staves and now it's just a chase with the van.
Don't let anyone tell you that drawing a chase scene on the comics page is easy work. It's not. I've only seen it done effectively a handful of times. This is one of those. Lopez can handle a high speed driving scene damn well.
There is little time to take down the van. It seems that there's a helicopter flying overhead with a cage suspended below it that's set up to pick up the entire van. That can't be allowed to happen. Bobbi shoots down a billboard that drops down on the back of the van, forcing the van's front tires off the road. Clint drives the motorcycle straight up the billboad and over the top of the van. Mock drops off the cycle and shoots out the tires of the gun van.
I'm not sure what she expected Hawkeye to do but she certainly didn't think he'd jump off the motorcycle and grab onto the vehicle cage dangling below the chopper. Clint explains in captions how he's always been training with whoever could teach him. This maneuver is from his time in the circus when he was learning from a trapeze artist family. He climbs right up to the helicopter pilot room, taking out the co-pilot with ease.
All of this is pretty crazy stuff. The pilot know this. Still he decides that Clint is now a non-threat. After all, he can't shoot him with an arrow. There's no room for his bow. Threat ended even though Barton just took out his co-pilot without any trouble or arrows. No worries, Hawkeye has a mini bow and arrow set on his wrist.
So, yeah, the pilot lands the helicopter and everyone gets arrested that needs to get arrested. Before Hawkeye joins back up with his partner, Mockingbird plants a tracer on the gun van. For some reason, she doesn't want Hawkeye to know about this because she quiets whoever's on her com before Clint gets close enough to hear their conversation.
Clint tells her that he wasn't able to get any info out of the pilot. The same is true of the rest of the gun runners. All they know is someone is buying up a lot of weapons. It'd be nice to know who that person is.
Battle done, Clint gets right to his next round of questions. These are a lot more personal. He wants a date with Bobbi. Tonight. Mockingbird plays the game well, saying she might have plans this evening. Turns out they're to go out with a certain bow slinging Avenger. The two kiss because when you're married nine days after meeting, you do all this stuff in the wrong order.
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Kevin Walker
In this story:
• The next round of super-prisoners is delivered to the Raft!
• Bushwacker tells us all about the new deterents for prison break.
• Norman Osborn is walked out and put on display.
• A guard tells our group of convicts about the T-Bolt program and gets a royal beat down.
• Then we find out that it was Luke Cage in the guard suit. The situation changes.
• Luke Cage finishes his pitch for the Thunderbolts and goes up to talk to Steve Rogers.
People keep coming to the Raft, Ryker's Maximum-Maximum Security Prison. It's the only prison in the country that can handle super-villains so it's getting a lot of use post-Siege. All those bad guys are being rounded up and someone's gotta find the space for them.
Since Electro broke a whole lot of people out of the Raft in the first story arc of New Avengers, there have been some major changes made. While the Prison Guards aren't sporting the Stark-made Guardian Armor that the old Cube prison utilized, they've got the best suits that Abner Jenkins (you may know him better as MACH V) can design. It's made so that prisoners can't personally identify any guard (so they can't attack them if they escape back into the real world). They're also equipped with personalized Shock Gear Tech, so that only that specific guard can use it.
Prisoners are depowered via a bio-energy dampening field and backed up by a implant when needed. The whole place is covered by a shield and if you somehow make it through that, you've still got to swim through a half-mile worth of genetically modified jellyfish that will knock you out with just a passing touch. This place is damn hard to break out of, but that doesn't mean there won't be those trying.
Let's take our main cast of hoods. Ox, the surviving Blood Brother, Corruptor, and Bushwacker. Bushwacker escaped during the Breakout storyline in New Avengers so he's busy pointing out the new improvements in security. Corruptor in particular thinks that there's gotta be a way out and keeps the conversation moving as Bushwacker continues going through everything keeping them in.
The prisoners are heard by their personal Prison Guard Handler who is leading them around the facility during their lunch and break. Ox mentions that this guard is stupid for not being equipped with that Shock Gear to defend himself against such a rowdy group of villains but it doesn't seem to phase the guard one bit.
As the group of super-convicts enjoys their prison gruel, another group of guards marches Norman Osborn out in front of them. Norman freakin' Osborn. Ozzy is confined on sublevel seven all by his lonesome in permanent solitary confinement and there's part of me that thinks this is the very same scene that we saw in Dark Avengers #16. The guards mention that this is a "new prisoner" so maybe this is Norman arriving at his new home. This is probably the last you'll see of good ol' Stormin' Norman for the foreseeable, so wave good-bye to the legend as we move on.
The personal Prison Guard leads them out of the cafeteria and into the yard for some R & R. The group keeps the conversation on escaping. We also see some of the work of that forcefield in action since it's raining out and the courtyard is dry.
The Prison Guard chimes in to tell everyone that the way out of jail is to serve their time but that's not what these super-cons want to hear. They are dealing with some major prison sentences. So the Guard gives them another option. Join the Thunderbolts.
It just so happens that the Thunderbolts are setting up shop right here and joining the new roster will take some time off their prison terms and maybe give them the option to turn their lives around. Grizzly joins the conversation by this point. Since he was a member of the last iteration of Thunderbolts for their last two missions, he's the closest they'll get to an expert on the subject. It was a madhouse. Disorganized and filled with crazy people.
Take the Ghost, for example. He's sitting over by the wall and without his suit on is in a sort of catatonic state. That's what the Thunderbolts do to you. They aren't for these super-criminals.
Just to prove a point, they decide to kick the crap out of this noisy guard. While some of them watch for other guards, the bigger members of this gang start tearing the light armor of the poor guard up. Sure, they know that this will send them straight into solitary but it'll be worth it for the prison cred they'll gain.
Or maybe it won't be worth it at all. It turns out that Luke Cage was inside that suit. No wonder he didn't need the Shock Gear.
The cons immediately change their tune but it's too late. It looks like Luke Cage is going to have to educate some people.
After knocking some heads together, Luke addresses the crowd of super-convicts that have gathered around the excitement. He tells them that the T-Bolts program was almost scrapped. Even Cage didn't care until someone told him that it could do some good. It HAD done some good. There are villains that had turned their lives around just by being Thunderbolts. Hell, if Luke can get one villain to stop killing people and start saving lives, it's gotta be worth it.
Cage tells them how he started out. He's been in jail but turned his life around and started making a positive difference. If any of these people think that's a bad idea, maybe they should stay far away from the T-Bolts.
Speech done, Luke heads into the Thunderbolts building where Steve Rogers is waiting for him. Steve caught that little performance and is impressed. Luke tells Rogers that he was trying to see how things were down there and also to make cons think twice before starting trouble with the Prison Guards. Steve tells Cage that this is exactly why it has to be him in charge of the Thunderbolts. Luke knows how to handle the criminals and maybe turn them around. There's no way they'd respect Captain America going down there with the same routine.
Luke mentions that it's all going to come down to the first team. If they succeed, the program will continue. If they fail miserably... well, let's just see how we do, huh? The panel camera zooms out as the T-Bolts' lightning icon is put into place.
Age of Heroes #1
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Marko Djurdjevic
In this story:
• J. Jonah Jameson prepares some rewrites for his anti-superhero speech.
• JJJ decides to take a walk through New York.
• A flood caused by the fall of Asgard threatens a riverside town.
• The Avengers come to the rescue.
• Jameson watches as New Yorkers cheer for the Avengers and decides that it's not time to preach against them.
• J. Jonah Jameson returns to city hall and has them pull an older speech and modify as a welcome to the brand new, old school Avengers team.
• He has his assistant save the previous speech just in case another opportunity comes up to use it.
Hey look! It's our second anthology book of the week! I know! Exciting! These things are much harder to write than your regular issue so we might as well stop wasting time and get right to it.
J. Jonah Jameson is mayor of New York City. Current readers probably know that but you never know when someone might be out of the loop. Anyway, as mayor, JJJ is preparing a speech in response to the tragedies that have taken place at Soldier Field in Chicago and in Broxton, Oklahoma. While the rest of the country is hit with a brand new sense of optimism with the return of the traditional super-heroes, J. Jonah Jameson is taking a completely different tact.
It should surprise none of us. Jameson hates super-heroes. He hates super-villains. JJJ hates costumes and powers and knowing that Spider-Man is a better person than him (which is something he'll deny to his dying day but it's the underlying reason for everything he does.) So while the nation cheers at the return of Captain America, Jonah prepares to lead the city of New York further down the path of hating super-heroes.
The timing is ripe. With the right words, the public might actually come to the Mayor's way of thinking. This is the same thing they've gotten in JJJ's numerous Daily Bugle editorials, after all, and those have definitely made the Wall-Crawler's life more difficult.
The main points are already laid out but Jonah keeps refining it while he's out for a drive around town. His driver mistakenly believes Jameson is talking to him but is quickly corrected. The Mayor pulls out his file for the lates tragic incidents and we're treated to numerous photos that were taken during the Siege of Asgard. Jonah knows that if it wasn't for the damn costumes, a fine man like Norman Osborn would never have been gripped by madness.
The world will see that it can't trust these heroes that live above them. They'll learn that they need to trust those that live with them. People like J. Jonah Jameson, a fine upstanding citizen. With that, Jameson gets it in his mind to walk the streets and mingle with the commoners.
It's a good idea and it saves him from future embarrassment. He looks out at the people and sees how scared they are. They might not be but this IS JJJ we're talking about. He's been making stuff up in his head since just about his first appearance. Mayor Jameson continues to dictate the words of his speech when he hits Times Square and looks up at that Jumbotron screen to see the latest disaster threatening common Americans.
It appears that the fall of Asgard set off the New Madrid Fault. This doesn't lie in Spain. It's pretty much east of the center of the United States. The tremors have caused some major flooding on the Mississippi, threatening a riverside community with a flash flood that no-one was prepared for.
As the raging waters near the city, the Avengers appear to handle this threat.
It's a good thing they were over in Oklahoma handling clean-up duties. It got them here that much quicker.
JJJ thinks this will just play right into his speech. I mean, who can stand up against mother nature? It's one more sign that the heroes don't belong.
Except they're doing so much good. Thor and Iron Man are breaking down the wave of oncoming water so that it disperses before hitting the city. Spider-Man is webbing up the street to prevent people from getting crushed and drowning. Captain America is directing relief efforts.
Not only that but the people of New York love them. These are the heroes they've been waiting for! The Avengers are back, baby! Even J. Jonah Jameson can only stand against this for so long before he realizes just how poorly his speech will go down. No, the heroes are back and the city loves them for it.
Now, this was all caused because of the Siege of Asgard but it's too hard to spin it back there. The flood isn't a costumed villain and the Avengers are out there saving lives. How do you stand against that and not look like a complete douche?
You don't. J. Jonah Jameson returns to his office and tells his assistant to scrap the speech. It won't play anymore. Instead, they're going to welcome the heroes back to town. JJJ really has no choice.
There's no time to rewrite the entire speech so Jameson has them pull the Memorial Day speech and fix it up for the occasion. As his team scrambles to meet the deadline, Jonah tells his assistant to keep the anti-hero speech on file. Maybe he'll be able to use it at a later date.
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Chris Samnee
In this story:
• Dr. Jericho Drumm takes a fellow doctor out on a date.
• Before he can even order his food, Drumm is summoned to deal with a threat of interdimensional tree people.
• After fending their invasion off, Dr. Voodoo returns to his date very late.
• His date is interrupted again by one last tree creature entering our world.
• Jericho excuses himself again to deal with the last tree thing.
• His date gets very angry and Jericho smooths things over by handing her the flower that adorned the tree man.
In the background of these scenes, you'll notice people holding up signs outside. This isn't a protest. This is a celebration. Even here in New Orleans, people are happy that the Dark Reign is over and that the real heroes are back on top. It lets us know that this is a new age for our heroes and Doctor Voodoo is included. Still...
You know what's hard to do when you're Earth's Sorceror Supreme? Date. Heck, it's hard for Spider-Man to do.
This isn't even Doctor Jericho Drumm's first attempt at dating this girl, Alexis. She had agreed to an earlier date that had ended badly when Jericho was forced to leave and handle more Sorceror Supreme business. He left before paying the check and showed up at her home early in the morning looking to continue the date. So, yeah, this is a last chance thing right here.
And, unfortunately for him, it's in this comic and we aren't just going to sit at a table and watch them eat their delicious meal. No, instead, Jericho's dead brother is going to show up before Dr. Voodoo can even order and ruin this whole evening for him.
Drumm hits the bathroom, annoyed at his brother for interrupting his date. It really couldn't be helped. There's an army of tree people set to enter our dimension and start killing people. This looks like a job for the Sorceror Supreme.
Doctor Voodoo arrives in the tree people's dimension before they can enter ours. Now, he just has to hold them back. Their chanting about destroying all humans doesn't make him think they'll talk this out. It's fight time.
While the battle rages on another plane, Alexis waits patiently for her date to actually return. As time drags on, she finally finishes up her wine and prepares to leave.
Just as Dr. Drumm returns. He tries to explain himself but is interrupted by the waiter and a bit of snark that probably guarantees a lowered tip. Totally worth it.
Jericho starts to order and is yet again interrupted. This time, it's because he just noticed that one of those tree creatures was able to make it through to our dimension and is walking around the restaraunt. It doesn't seem to be inclined to kill humans just yet. First, it's interested in eating its fill of cake.
Dr. Drumm finds himself leaving the table yet again. This time, he follows the little imp into the kitchen where he sends it right back where it came from. Or kills it. It's a little unclear.
What is clear is the fact that Alexis is getting angrier and angrier. She gets up and chases Drumm to the kitchen and demands an explanation. Fortunately, Jericho had the sense to pluck a flower off the little tree monster before sending it away. Since he knows girls are a sucker for flowers, he offers it to her with some lame line about dropping it. In the kitchen. Where most restaurants discourage their patrons from going.
Ah well, it serves as a passable excuse. Jericho sweetens the deal by agreeing to some menial labor at the hospital and the date resumes.
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Leonard Kirk
In this story:
• Steve Rogers honors the heroes of Great Britain in a ceremony in Washington D.C.
• After some conversation, Steve asks Captain Marvel to be an Avenger.
• Seeing that Pete Wisdom is against it, Brian declines the offer.
• Seeing the glare in his team's eyes and realizing that he's making Captain Britain turn down an offer to JOIN THE AVENGERS, Pete gives the ok.
• Peer pressure is awesome.
• Wisdom hopes he hasn't made a terrible decision.
You know what book should never have been cancelled? Captain Britain and MI: 13. That was a great book all the way through. If you didn't read it, you really should have. It would have surprised you with how fun it was.
This two page story is sort of a nice wrap up for that comic. It features the MI: 13 team in Washington D.C. where Steve Rogers is praising the team and Great Britain for being the first nation to fight off the Skrull Invasion as well as complimenting them on how they've embraced their heroes. There was also an awesome adventure where they fought off Count Dracula but that's not mentioned. I recommend picking those issues up, though. Seriously, this was a great book and you probably missed it. X(
Black Knight and his squire/love interest, Faisa Hussein, talk among themselves on the proper way of addressing America's new Top Cop. She is struggling between "Cap" and "Captain." Dane tells her that he just calls him "Steve." Hilarity ensues.
The more important event happening is the recruitment of Captain Britain into the Avengers. After exchanging some pleasantries, Steve offers Brian Braddock a place on one of his Avengers rosters. When Pete Wisdom mentions that plucking people from his roster is kind of bad form, Steve tells him that it wasn't a planned thing but it would be a great little diplomatic move.
But really, this is sort of a faux pas. You invited a group of British heroes to your country for a ceremony and then cherry pick them for their best members. Not only did Steve ask Captain Britain to join up, he also made the offer to the Black Knight. Dane is still thinking it over. Brian wasn't even aware that this was an option.
Pete Wisdom is understandably ticked off. He didn't come to Washington expecting to lose his biggest gun and it's not like Great Britain doesn't have it's own legitimate threats going on right now.
So Captain Britain declines but you can tell he's a bit upset about it. His wife, Meggan, tells Wisdom off for this move (even though it's still sort of a dick move on Steve Rogers' part). After trying to explain his own points to anyone within earshot, even Pete Wisdom realizes what an opportunity this would be for Brian. He tells Steve that Captain Britain will be available but that they'll have to share him somehow. They'll work out the details later. I figure, if Wolverine can be on every team, Captain Britain can be on two. Even if there IS a whole ocean between his teams.
Brian and Steve pose for a photo op while Wisdom hopes that he hasn't done something remarkably stupid.
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ty Templeton
In this story:
• Spider-Man defeats the Griffin!
• After telling the villain that the heroes are back on top, Spider-Man is blamed for everything ever.
• The Griffin claims that Spider-Man is his partner.
• Spidey just can't catch a frickin' break!
You know who's suddenly everywhere? No, not Wolverine. That's been going on since the nineties so don't even pretend that his overexposure is a new thing.
I'm talking about the Griffin. Suddenly, he's the go-to villain for everyone. He appeared in the last few issues of the New Avengers, then got some face time in Siege, showed up as the first foe in Prince of Power, and now is running amuck in New York City. C'mon people! Get this guy in better handcuffs because he is breaking out of custody a lot.
Without his extra super-charged abilities, Spider-Man has no troubles subduing the Griffin. This leads to the obligatory "wait until my guys get me out of jail" speeches.
Spidey reminds the monsterous villain that he doesn't have anyone to fall back on anymore. The Syndicate is over with. Done. Caput. Finito.
We're looking at a brand new day. The Heroic Age, yo! Spider-Man basks in the warming glow of adulation that comes from living large in the Age of Heroes.
Only to find that he's still the exception to the Hero rule. Spidey will never be the accepted hero no matter how many Avengers teams he joins (and, currently, that's two teams). While the Dark Reign showed the heroes just what it was like to be Spider-Man (always beating the bad guys but never coming off well to the public), the Heroic Age doesn't bring Spidey any closer to feeling like the rest of the Avengers.
The people of New York treat him like the scapegoat he is. They blame him for jamming up traffic. They accuse him of being Venom. They throw stuff at him. Even Griffin gets involved, claiming that Spider-Man is his partner.
Ah, New York. The city that will always hate our favorite Wall-Crawler.
And then Griffin probably broke out of Spider-Man's web and went on another rampage in the pages of Young Avengers. You don't know.
The Invincible Iron Man #26
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
In this issue:
• Spymaster buys out an Opto-Atomics company with a nice amount of black mail.
• The Hammer Girls sell decommissioned HAMMER weapons to terrorists after showing them a modified Detroit Steel demo reel.
• Tony Stark gives Maria Hill all the information on his armor and a story of his "glory days."
• In a flashback, Tony Stark fires Carson Wyche during the roll out demonstration of Wyche's latest cell phone.
• In the present, Tony is trying to get Wyche to partner up with Stark Resilient to build a Repulsor powered car.
• Steve Rogers sends Tony's remaining armors back to Stark.
• Justine Hammer hires Spymaster to ruin Tony Stark.
• After Wyche agrees to partner with Stark, Tony scraps his old armors for parts.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE .
This is the kind of issue that I love because it reminds me of all the reasons I love Tony Stark. He's such a remarkable @$$hole. I mean, this issue gives us not one but two stories about how Tony Stark is a complete douche but still gives us enough reasons to like the guy. I mean, unless you're my wife. She thinks Stark is a horrible human being. She's probably right but he's just so cool I let that part go.
Our issue begins with a Spymaster scene. This is the third Spymaster, not the first one who showed up in the Dark Reign: Made Men one-shot last year. This Spymaster hasn't had a lot of panel time yet, but he is responsible for the death of Happy Hogan so he makes up for his newcomer status by getting really personal.
Now, meet Marc. Marc is the son of bakers but decided to go into science geek stuff because he didn't want to work baker's hours. He ended up starting his own business and inventing the field of Opto-Atomics and still getting up and working baker's hours.
As Spymaster adds, this leaves out all the vicious details of Marc's life. Marc isn't the paragon of virtue he'd like you to believe. There are the hookers and gambling. That's just small potatoes. There's also the fudging the numbers so that his accounts add up when they really don't. That is minor. His real crime is having his college roommates assassinated. That's when you cross a line of no return.
With this information, Spymaster has just gotten complete control of Marc's business. Wanna add some insult to that injury? Spymaster makes Marc bow down and uses the tubby guy for a foot rest. It's good to be the king.
Remember that Detroit Steel presentation we went over with the last issue? It's been repurposed and packaged as a healthy reminder to the terrorists that the game has just changed. There are tons of these Detroit Steels ready to roll off the production line and they will make international terrorism much harder. Fortunately for today's terrorist on the go, the Hammer girls have the solution.
Escalate their weapons. It's that simple! Justine Hammer rightly points out that some of these terrorists are using weapons that are thirty to forty years old. Times they have changed. In fact, Justine just bought up all the old HAMMER equipment last issue and is willing to sell it to these terrorists for a hefty profit.
Let's trace this back to where it's going to bite our main character in the butt: HAMMER was using old SHIELD weapons. SHIELD weaponry was created by Tony Stark. If you look at these engines of destruction, they even have the Stark Industries logo stamped on them. Justine and Sasha have just added a few notches on the arms race and it's going to be Tony Stark's fault. In a way. I mean, he'll completely blame himself.
It's finally time to catch up with our hero, Tony Stark. Stark is handing over a jump drive containing all the knowledge available on the Iron Man. This includes a kill switch. All of this is for Steve Rogers' eyes only, but Maria Hill is acting as the highly paid delivery girl. She wonders if Tony is ok with giving Steve all this information. Stark tells her that he isn't happy about it but he understands why.
This leads to an awesome story about Tony Stark back in his alcoholic rager days. There was a party at the Playboy Mansion after Tony was declared Playboy's Man of the Year. It lasted two days and when it was over, Tony woke up in a hotel room in Monte Carlo with three women. The hotel room was annihilated. Tony's passport was sold during his blackout and ended up in the hands of a cocaine smuggler. The story goes dark from here as Tony relates some terrible things he did and said to Pepper Potts and how he got into a fight with Jim Rhodes. He then fired both of them, smashed into Hugh Hefner's mailbox with his car, and stole a motorcycle. All of this is a complete blank to Tony. He doesn't remember a bit of it because he was so smashed.
The point of this story is that Tony Stark does things that he thinks are really cool only to later find out that they were moronic in the extreme. This leads right back into the Civil War. Tony doesn't remember that either, but it's not because he was drunk out of his mind. Instead, it's because he's erased his mind to keep the Super-Human Registration List out of Norman Osborn's hands and was only able to reboot with a back up copy that hadn't been updated since before Civil War.
But it doesn't matter, Tony knows that he was trying to do the most good. He knows that he did the best he could and would do it all over again. Maria Hill looks disappointed at him and leaves. Tony can't believe this because Maria Hill was on his side during Civil War. Hell, she ordered her men to fire on Captain America in the first place. If anyone gets the right to be disappointed in Tony Stark's actions during Civil War, it's NOT Maria Hill.
Are you ready for the next dick move done by Tony Stark? Because it's gonna hit you in an official flashback. Get ready. Go!
It's twelve years ago and Tony is about to roll out a revolusionary new cell phone. This thing can do the work of your computer in the palm of your hands. It's pretty amazing especially for twelve years ago. My first cell phone was eight years ago and it didn't even have a color screen. I'm a cheap bastard, though.
Anyway, it's during this presentation that Tony Stark fires the creator of this cell phone by erasing him from the contact list. Dick Move Complete!
Who knew that in the glorious present, Tony would be asking that very person to help him start his new company. Carson Wyche has agreed to meet with Tony Stark but even he doesn't know how to respond to Tony's offer. Tony asks Carson what he was up to after being fired. Wyche responds that he went on to create electric cars. Tony holds out a flyer and remarks that they are FAST electric cars.
But they still have a problem. Their battery life doesn't last as long as he'd like. That's where Tony Stark comes in. With Stark's Repulsor Tech, the battery issue would be effectively solved. Mr. Stark wants to partner with Mr. Wyche in bringing his Repulsor Tech into the world of automobiles. This will lead to the rest of the industries eventually but Tony thinks that starting with cars is a great idea.
Before Carson Wyche can say yes (or tell Tony off for firing him back in the day), Jim Rhodes opens the door and tells Tony that there's a delivery waiting for him. The three men hit the warehouse to find a big box waiting. Tony has an idea what's inside and switches to Iron Man to open the box in the most impressive way possible. We get a bit more information on this Iron Man armor. It's stored in the hollows of Tony's bones and comes out to play and Stark's command.
After tearing the top off the box, we see that the old Mark 0 armor is inside, still beaten up after it's battle with the Iron Patriot. It's not the only box of armor coming back home today. While most of Tony's Iron Man Armories were destroyed, the remaining suits have been sent back home after Steve Rogers OK'd their return.
Back to Spymaster, he's currently burning down the business he just bought up, either to get rid of the evidence or just for the hell of it. Spymaster probably isn't that concerned. As he's whistling, he sees Justine Hammer's chopper land close by. It seems Justine is looking to hire Spymaster for a job that the man would probably do for very little money: destroy Stark Resilient.
Tony has opened up all his boxes and found nine suits of armor waiting for him. There's the Mark 0, of course. Then there's the Ditko designed suit, the Classic Armor, the Silver Centurion, the New Classic, the second Hulk Buster Armor, and a bunch of suits I can't easily recognize. Check 'em out for yourself below!
Now, the question remains: Does Carson Wyche want to help Tony Stark invent the Repulsor powered automobile or does he want to punch Tony in the face?
Can't he do both?
Well, the good thing about guys like Carson is that they're willing to let something that happened more than a decade ago be left in the past if it means giving his company a future. After all, Carson expected to be out of business in half a year. This might give him the push he needs to stay going and all he's got to do is get back in business with Tony and hope that Stark doesn't do something obnoxious all over again.
Which happens. Give it time.
So, Tony's got a business partner with the know how on making electric cars. Now, he just needs some repulsor tech. It's time to destroy his existing armory and get some spare parts.
Yeah, we'll see how long this lasts before he ends up back in that damn classic armor.
Writer: Daniel Way
Penciler: Carlo Barberi
In this issue:
• The owner of the Poppy Field Nightclub (in Vegas!) insults Deadpool on the news during a super-hero party.
• Wade hits Las Vegas and makes the Nightclub owner destroy his own club.
• The House, Las Vegas' own super-hero, attacks Deadpool and captures him after revealing that he's DP's old sidekick, Weasel.
• Wilson breaks out of captivity and makes a deal with Weasel, getting his own suit of armor in the process.
• Deadpool (as Wildcard) and Weasel fight Grizzly who is in town robbing a casino.
• Wade rockets out of the casino with Grizzly and proposes a little deal.
This is the only issue of this series that has the Heroic Age banner so I was just a little torn on covering it for the duration of the storyline but I figured, hey, it's Deadpool. Everything's better with Deadpool, right?
The Heroic Age is upon us and that means wild crazy Vegas parties! In a certain club, called the Poppy Field Nightclub, it's been declared super-hero night. Everyone is dressing up as their favorite hero and letting everyone know how much they love the return of the classic good guys to their prominent position in the Marvel Universe. All of this is covered by a news station that obviously doesn't have anything better to cover. The nightclub's owner, Lonzo Toutolos, even insults Deadpool while wearing a Captain America costume.
It's too bad that Wade Wilson watches a lot of television. It's time for unnecessary payback.
Wade is still rolling in the money so he can hit Vegas in style. That means a limo. It only takes a phone call to find out where the Poppy Field Nightclub is. Once that's done, he just needs to find a creative way to make it a crater. Part of the plan involves buying an oxygen tank and a pair of sunglasses from an old man for eight thousand dollars.
After a little prep time, Deadpool meets with the Nightclub owner in Lonzo's own office. After Toutolos realizes that it's the real DP, he gets pretty wigged out. Wilson points out the panic button that would call security in to take care of him. If only Lonzo were at the desk instead of Deadpool. Still, Wade is a sport and tells Toutolos that he can hit the panic button if he wants but something terrible will happen if he does.
Lonzo decides apologizing would be the best thing to do. Deadpool says that it's good enough and takes off with a huge smile hidden under his mask.
Of course, as soon as Wade walks out the door, Lonzo hits the panic button, hoping to make Deadpool's life hell all the way to the exit. Unfortunately for Mr. Toutolos, Wilson had enough time to rig the panic button straight to the oxygen tank. It destroys Lonzo's poor nightclub.
Mission accomplished, Wade Wilson puts on his new sunglasses and decides to hit the roulette wheel.
The casino owner tries to figure out what that huge explosion is. He's not willing to call in the police until he knows that's going on. A new problem arrives on the floor as he learns that someone is betting (and winning) big amounts of money. A quick look through the monitors reveals Deadpool making serious bank.
It doesn't take a genious to put those two and two together and realize that Deadpool is responsible for the explosion. In fact, Las Vegas' newest super-hero, the House, is ready to take Wade out right now. The casino owner just asks that they don't fight in his casino so the House moves the fight outside with a fake Bea Arthur contest. Wade takes his winnings and races to the door.
Let the fight begin. The House is a huge suit of armor. It doesn't take long for Wade to realize that whoever's inside KNOWS him. House lifts up his face plate and gives Wilson his secret identity: It's Weasel!
The remaining fight isn't shown but Deadpool is defeated in the end.
We catch back up with Deadpool and Weasel at Weasel's base of operations. Deadpool has been put in Weasel's own version of "The Box." This is a dark room covered with razor sharp objects that makes movement nearly impossible. Long time readers will remember that Deadpool put Weezy in the original version of the Box WAY back during Deadpool #13 from his original ongoing series (it was the second part of The Drowning Man and it was a much darker version of Wade than you're seeing right here). While Weasel and Deadpool eventually made up for that incident, there's obviously some issues still rolling around from it because here we are.
It doesn't take Deadpool more than two pages to get out of that thing and don't look for an explanation from me. Sometimes Wade is so good you don't even get to watch him be incredible. Anyway, Deadpool gives Weasel a little ultimatum. Team-up or I beat you with a hammer.
Weasel chooses the team-up and paints up his spare suit in appropriate Deadpool colors. He also explains how it is. Weez originally came to Las Vegas looking to rob a few casinos but turned against that plan when he realized he could get a piece from every casino if he protected them in a suit of armor. So, when trouble comes knocking and you don't want to involve the authorities, you call in the House and he cleans up your issues. It's a move up on Weasel's part. It's just too bad Deadpool came to ruin his whole setup.
Speaking of more villains that are inexplicably NOT in jail, here's Grizzly. We just saw him in the Raft not three comics ago and here he is out in Las Vegas and back in his traditional Grizzly suit. Max is making a phone call right now to someone we don't know but he's telling them that he just got out of jail. He's in Vegas to make a quick buck to set himself back up and then he's back to doing more super-villainy all over the place.
It's too bad, too. I liked Grizzly's Thunderbolts look better than the bear suit.
We join the fight with Grizzly already in progress. The House takes a good hit or two and it looks like out brand new hero might not have what it takes to win this one solo. So maybe it's a good thing that Deadpool shows up wearing the other House suit. They must have had time to paint it up because it now looks like a roulette wheel. The House introduces his new "sidekick" to the crowd: Wildcard. While Deadpool doesn't like the term sidekick, he doesn't have too much time to complain before the fight with Grizzly continues.
Max knocks both "heroes" down and then starts to bear hug the Wildcard suit. Weasel tries to tell Deadpool to use the repulsor field but Wade hits the wrong button and skyrockets out of the building with Grizzly in tow. Once they're airborn, Max gets the surprise of his life when the Wildcard mask is pulled back to give him a face full of Deadpool.
And it looks like this is all part of Wade's plan. It's time to cut Grizzly in on the deal.
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Gabriel Hardman
In this issue:
• Delroy Garret, the 3-D Man, tracks down the Agents of Atlas!
• He recalls a flashback where he and his girlfriend attend a celebrity party and Garret gets attacked by some bruisers with a wierd red energy surrounding them.
• Delroy goes home and gets attacked by his girlfriend after having a dream about Atlas in the past.
• He learns that the previous 3-D Man team was also attacked and one of them was killed.
• Delroy gets chased by the authorities for a crime he did not commit.
• Winding up in a hotel room, the 3-D Man watches the Agents of Atlas do the hero thing in Waikiki.
• Back in the present, Garret follows the Agents into a secret chamber and meets them after a sudden elevator drop.
Sunny San Francisco. It's where all the cool super-hero teams are hanging out these days. For example: here's the Agents of Atlas! They're walking around, minding their own business and probably using the Uranian's telepathy to mask the fact that no-one wanted to change out of their costumes... and that one of them is a gorilla... and another is a robot.
They've picked up a tail that isn't fooled by whatever whammy they've put on society to hide their presence. It's Delroy Garret! The 3-D Man! He can see right through their disguises with his 3-D eyes. He also saw Avatar in the theaters without glasses. It was amazing.
Something has happened in Delroy's recent past and we're going to spend the rest of this story explaining just what that is. Right now, he's following around the Agents of Atlas while talking on his cell to Hal Chandler, one have of the fifties version of 3-D Man. Hal's not talking back so this whole convo is pretty one-sided. We also get a distinct impression that M-11 is listening into the phone call through his antenna.
Let's begin the flashback. All of this is narrated by Delroy as he tells Hal everything that's happened with him since this little quest began.
Three days ago, Delroy was hanging out with his girlfriend, Sheri, in Los Angeles. This coupling doesn't really seem to be working but Garret doesn't seem to be paying attention to how cold his lady is acting. He's trying to show her the sights of LA and she'd rather just get going to a party so she can make some contacts. Acting. This might be just what Delroy needs now. He's got to do something.
On the way to the party, Garret turns on the radio and remembers that Hal and his brother, Chuck, are supposed to be on a radio show right now. He listens enthusiastically as the Chandler Bros. explain how their powers work and everything, but Sheri just seems disinterested. How this couple lasted this long probably has a lot to do with Delroy not paying attention to how annoying Sheri is and her thinking a super-hero looks good on her arm at parties.
So, the short version on the origin of the original 3-D Man. Chuck Chandler was involved in a test flight when he was abducted by Skrulls (they show up a lot). After escaping from the aliens and blowing up their craft, Chuck was reduced to being a two-dimensional man and was only visible through Hal's special glasses. If Hal focused enough, Chuch would return to this world as the 3-D Man and with three times the power. Since Chuck was removed from reality, he didn't age. Hal did. Now that Chuck is back in the land of the living, he's much younger than his sibling. They've passed on their legacy to Delroy who they think is doing a great job.
All nice words to hear before you enter the lion's den of a celebrity shindig. Delroy meets some of Sheri's Hollywood people and gets offered a job on a super-hero reality television show. He doesn't seem all that interested but doesn't turn down the idea either. They ask him about his costume and any grudges in the super-hero community and get one interesting story from the 3-D Man.
Remember Secret Invasion? Who doesn't? If you were reading Super Reads way back then, you'll remember that we covered 3-D Man's adventures with the Skrull Kill Krew in the pages of Avengers: The Initiative. Delroy was one of the few people who could see through the Skrulls' deception and see them for what they are. He killed a lot of Skrulls during the war. In the end, he killed a Skrull known as Crusader who had switched sides and was working for earth. Delroy didn't know that at the time and was cleared of all charges in the end but there are a lot of super-heroes that want nothing to do with the 3-D Man now.
Heck, even the Skrull Kill Krew didn't want him.
After finishing this tale, Delroy is quickly attacked by three big guys. None of them has a chance of beating Delroy because three bruisers can't beat up the Three Dimensional Man. Garret is just better at this thing.
During the fight, Del notices a wierd red energy surrounding his assailants. This is seen through his special eyes so it's not something anyone else is able to pick up on.
After the fight is over, Sheri is able to capitalize on the attack and get some face time with the reporters. The two return home and eventually go to sleep. Delroy has the wierdest dream about meeting people that we'll recognize as the Agents of Atlas. A look in the mirror during the dream shows that he's the original 3-D Man.
When he wakes up, he finds that his girlfriend is attacking him with a butcher knife. It looks like he woke up just in time. With his special eyes, Garret sees the same red energy signature. He is able to stop her from killing him. Before she passes out, whatever is controlling her speaks through her and tells Delroy that they've found him and the others as well.
While the paramedics pick up Sheri, Delroy gets a call from Peggy Chandler, Hal's wife. It seems there was an attack at their home as well and things didn't go nearly as well as the attacks on Delroy. Chuck is dead. Hal is on life support. Delroy goes over to lend whatever support he can.
This doesn't turn out well, either. Garret heads to the Chandler home to see what he can find but the police stop him from getting close. They aren't just here to stop him. They're here to arrest him. Seems someone put out an APB for Delroy. The 3-D Man disarms the police officer and makes a run for it but he knows that there are few safe places for him to hide.
He winds up in a cheap motel on the edge of LA. He's gotten rid of his cell phone and picked up a beater car to help evade detection. In the motel room, Delroy Garret falls asleep while watching news coverage on himself. It looks like he's wanted for murder. Not good.
His dreams don't help him out. It's the same dream that he had earlier but it starts from right where he ended last time. This time, he's fighting alongside the Agents of Atlas against electric zombies. We'll see more on them in the back story.
Garret wakes up to more TV coverage. This time, he sees the news from the Agents' fight with the Kree Sentry in Hawaii. This is the ending of the story from Enter the Heroic Age except this time Delroy isn't dressed up as 3-D Man. He's actually just waking up from a dream so it's just a t-shirt. I can understand why they put him in costume for the anthology story, though. You wouldn't have recognized him otherwise.
So Delroy starts chasing down the people from his dream, now knowing that they're real people and not just caused by wolfing down too much pizza at the party. In the dream, he recognized San Fransisco so that's where his search begins. It takes several days to track down anything and in that time, his friend Hal recovers just enough to be stable. Hal's still unconscious though. Peggy sets up these phone calls by holding the cell up to Hal's ear and both her and Delroy hope that some of this is getting through. This also explains why Hal isn't talking back during this phone call.
Anyway, Delroy's visit to San Fransisco has finally given some results. He sees the Uranian's flying saucer in the sky even though it's invisible to everyone else. Now, he's found the actual team of adventurers as they're entering a tea house.
3-D Man decides it's time to follow them and get some questions answers. He even decides to do it in costume. Garret chases them into a backroom but the Agents of Atlas don't even turn around to acknowledge him.
When he reaches the back room, they're gone. He looks around the room for hidden doors but doesn't find any before the whole room begins a quick decent.
Once down below, Jimmy Cho finally greets the 3-D Man and welcomes him to the City of Atlas.
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
In this issue:
• The pre-Agents of Atlas stop a grave robbing gig.
• Yellow Claw discusses this with his dragon advisor, Mr. Lao and Yellow Claw decides to send forth his army on Jimmy Woo.
• The pre-Agents of Atlas find themselves facing the living electric dead.
Back in 1958, Yellow Claw had the Atlas Foundation do a lot of crazy things. One of those things was grave robbing. There is a specific reason for that you might be able to figure out if you're listening to the two grave robbers' conversation. It seems that they set up these dead bodies to move on their own.
Jimmy Woo and his team of super-heroes show up and make sure that no other dead bodies are uncovered this night. The two grave robbers are halted in their tracks. One of them turns out to be the groundskeeper so this was an inside job.
Now, they just have to figure out what Yellow Claw needed with all these corpses.
In his secret location, Yellow Claw is given word that Woo and his team have discovered the grave robbing operation. He's surprised. This wasn't something Jimmy Woo was supposed to find. He asks Mr. Lao, the dragon advisor to Atlas, what he thinks should be done. Lao says that the operation is busted anyway. They might as well go out with a bang.
Yellow Claw gives the order to send the "full force" out and then tells his agent to escape.
The air in the cemetary is charged with electricity. Venus's hair is raised like it's hit a major static charge. These scenes are also from Delroy Garret's dreams so there's a connection between this and the main story. A quick look up in the sky shows that this isn't natural. Someone's behind this. But... why?
The pre-Agents of Atlas don't have to wait long. Soon, they are facing an army of the dead. Two electricbolts in the dead people's shoulders creates an electric charge that must animate the bodies.
So the heroes are facing off against a zombie army. How do you stop what is already dead? We'll find out next issue.
Back in their undisclosed location, Mr. Lao wonders if their plan is wise. After all, this kind of thing could spell the end for Jimmy Woo and Yellow Claw has a plan for Woo to replace him as leader of Atlas. Plan Chu states that if his protégé can't fight off an army of zombies then he's not worth leading Atlas.
Avengers Assemble! #1
Head Writers/ Coordinators: Jeff Christiansen & Sean McQuaid
Writers: Rob London, Michael Hoskin, Ronald Byrd, Markus Raymond, Madison Carter, Gabriel Shechter, Kevin Garcia, Mike O'Sullivan, Chris Biggs, & Jacob Rougemont
In this issue:
• This is a straight up Marvel Universe book focusing on the Avengers Universe.
• That's... really it. You probably don't need any more of these bullet points.
• I'm serious. You should stop now.
• OK, really. Stop. You're just embarrassing yourself at this point.
Like the bullet point says, this is a Marvel Universe book that sheds a little light on the Avengers side of the Marvel Universe. It gives us some updates on the last few Avengers squads and has an eclectic mix of past enemies and allies. It's interesting to see the entire history of the Black Knight in this book since it's been a while since any Black Knight has appeared in an Avengers book. Still, once an Avenger, right?
Speaking of the Black Knight, it also has Dane Whitman's alternate dimension evil form, Proctor, listed! That's unexpected.
If you're looking for official info on many of your favorite Avengers, hanger ons, or villains, this is probably where you'll find them. It might even give you a hint on who's showing up in future Avengers issues. ;)
Captain America Comics #1
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Nazi saboteurs join the US Army and blow things up!
• President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sends two top ranking generals with FBI head, J Arthur Grover, to look on as America starts it's super soldier program!
• Steve Rogers becomes America's fighting symbol!
• One of those top ranking generals? A spy. He kills the professor heading the program and the super soldier serum is destroyed at the same time.
• Rogers fights back! The spy is killed in his panic to escape!
• Steve Rogers dons the suit of Captain America and becomes a symbol of the nation. He also becomes a Private in the Army!
• Camp mascot, Bucky Barnes, figures out who Private Rogers really is and gets dragged into the super-hero game!
The date was March, 1941. If I'm correct and publishing works the same way it does now, it means this issue probably came out in January. The United States didn't officially enter the war until December after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Atlas Comics had already chosen their side. Wrapping their hero in the good old red, white, and blue, artist Jack Kirby and writer Joe Simon unveiled their answer to the Nazi threat. Captain America.
Now, it should be obvious that I don't own an original copy of Captain America Comics #1. That would be WAY too much money. Fortunately, there are many legal means to read this Golden Age Classic. It is available in quite a few trade paperbacks and hard cover comics, the latest of which being the Oversized Hardcover of Fallen Son. Since I don't have any extra money, I went straight to Marvel.com and checked out the free preview digital comic available there. Since it's free to read, you may just want to head over there and enjoy the real comic instead of listening to my walkthrough. ;)
War probably seemed inevitable to many people living in the early forties. Lots of people were signing up for the army, preparing for that inevitability. This issue opens up with such a scene and shows just how bad it could go. Not only are patriotic Americans signing up but spies and saboteurs are in their midst, using false identification papers to join up. Once in the military, it's easy for those Nazi sympathizers to blow up munitions factories and stall our war build-up.
The situation is so dire that it leads to a meeting directly with the President, Franklin Delano "New Deal" Roosevelt. The President meets with two top ranking military officers and learns that things are beyond bad. Spies are so prevalent that no secret is safe. The defense effort is grinding to a halt. Roosevelt jokes that maybe it's time to get a comic book character to join the army... someone like the Human Torch.
All jokes aside, FDR has something in mind to help national defense and he believes these two are trustworthy enough to be let in on his little secret. He sends for J Arthur Grover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This is, of course, a stand in for J Edgar Hoover. Grover leads the military men out of the room and directs them to dress in civilian clothes for the next length of their journey.
The New Deal is well underway but we all know from our history books that the United States hadn't fully recovered from the Great Depression at the time they entered World War II. Grover and his companions enter a run down part of town, advancing on an evil-looking curio shop. Inside, an old hag of a lady reaches for her gun but, recognizing Grover, puts it away and leads the three deeper inside the shop than could possibly exist if this wasn't a secret base.
Their journey ends in a heavily guarded science lab where they are just in time to witness the birth of a living legend. They also witness the unmasking of that old hag who turns out to be a beautiful young lady code named X-13. They all sit down in an observation room and await the miracle of comicbook science.
Only now do we finally meet our title character and even then we still aren't given his name. A skinny young man is brought into the lab. The lead scientist, who we will later know as Professor Reinstein, administers a shot of "a strange seething liquid" to a willing patient. Reinstein is, again, a stand in, this time for Albert Einstein but he meets a more violent end than his real life counterpart. Reinstein explains that this volunteer before them was declared unfit for duty. Now, with the help of the serum just injected into his body, the volunteer will become stronger and smarter than ever before. While they watch, the future Captain America alters his form before them until he is rippling with muscles.
Professor Reinstein presents the very first super soldier that he will create for the United States. His serum seems to have been proven successful. The Professor looks up at the volunteer and gives him the name "Captain America" because he will represent the strength of America when he charges into battle.
Unfortunately, spies really are everywhere. One of the military men brought in by J Arthur Gover proves to be less than loyal to his nation. Pulling a gun, our traitor draws his pistol and shoots both the good professor and the serum. Both are now destroyed with the implication that there will be no more super soldiers.
Grover and X-13 grab their own guns and try to apprehend the traitor. The FBI head ends up with a bullet in the chest for the effort. X-13 isn't given the chance for vengeance. That duty is for Captain America. Cap drags the spy right out of the observation room and starts slugging his opponent around the lab. After the beating, the traitorous military man staggers around before falling into some lab equipment. He never successfully escapes this innocent trap. There are live wires buried in the equipment that electrocute the man on the spot. Sure, Cap didn't kill him but no-one regrets the loss of the traitor who took away America's chance for a super army.
After this origin story, Captain America finds himself a costume and a triangle-shaped shield and begins taking down the many spy rings that plague the american military machine. His super-hero name makes it into all the papers.
All of this somehow leads us to the United States Army's Camp Lehigh. It is here where we meet Private Steve Rogers and Camp mascot, Bucky Barnes. Bucky is all excited about the appearances of Captain America and the prospect of meeting the star-spangled hero. Private Rogers muses over this possibility.
It's only a matter of time before Bucky walks into Steve's tent to see the Private is impersonating a Captain.
In the pages of Detective Comics, kid mascots like Robin had become so successful that there was little doubt about Cap winding up with his very own. Bucky puts on his own patriotic costume and gets the very secret moniker of... "Bucky." No one's ever going to add those numbers up and make the connection.
And thus, the adventures of Captain America and Bucky begin.
This story ends with a little ad where you can join Captain America's Sentinels of Liberty for the low, low price of ten cents! That gets you a swanky membership card! Now you can look for subversive elements in society and save us from the threats that lie... within. :)
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Sando and Omar predict destruction right before it happens!
• Steve and Bucky take in a show and try to prevent one of these predicted attacks before it happens!
• Failing that, they attack Sando and his goons!
• Captain America and Bucky are captured and meet the American Spy, Betty Ross!
• Betty reveals the master plan of Sando, who's real name is Von Krantz.
• Cap and Bucky free themselves and make short work of the bad guys.
• The heroes leave before one of them gets accidentally kissed by Ross!
This comic was FILLED with adventure! In Golden Age books like this, we get TONS of stories for that delicious little dime. This comic features four illustrated Captain America tales as well as one written story. There's also an interesting yarn featuring the "son of Thor," Hurricane and a prehistoric serial involving Tuk, the caveboy. For sanity's sake, we'll just be covering the Captain America stories.
War still wasn't declared between the United States and the Axis powers so Cap didn't have much he could do besides taking down spy rings and playing soldier. In this lull, we meet Sando and Omar, one of those curious side shows where a yellow midget, Omar, is forced to predict disasterous events in the near future. This show is such a hit that it gathers quite a crown and even takes up theater space. This is before television really hit the big time and apparently seeing a movie was nothing compared to watching Omar predict death and destruction.
For example, right here, Omar is predicting the destruction of Fort Bix. The crowd is skeptical but all it takes is a nearby radio to tell them all about the terrible event that has just occured at the military fort. While tank manuevers were taking place, the entire fort was leveled in an explosive blast. Stuff like this just makes the act more popular. Now everyone wants to attend to hear what horrors will happen in the nearby future.
Two such people are Private Steve Rogers and his child companion, Bucky Barnes. They've heard the news about this show and Rogers has decided that it deserved further investigation. While they wait patiently in the theater audience, the press is hounding Sando near his dressing room to see if they can find out what the trick to this show is. Sando, in a heavy German accent, explains that they'll have to watch the show to experience the magic.
This time, Omar predicts the collapse of the Hilltown Bridge. Steve and Bucky waste no time in switching to their alter egos and racing off to see about preventing this tragedy. They never make it in time. The Hilltown Bridge is rocked in an explosive attack. Cars plummet into the river below.
Cap and Bucky swing around and return to the theater. They're not in the mood to politely question Sando and his yellow midget pet, Omar, about how they're predicting these attacks. The two heroes have already drawn the conclusion that this little act is BEHIND the attacks. Cap doesn't need proof to back up those claims. He storms the stage and demands answers.
When he hears a woman's scream coming from Sando's dressing room, Captain America socks Sando in the face (to... prevent his escape?) and runs off to save a lady's life. Entering the dressing room, Cap finds himself falling right into Sando's trap. Guns are pulled on him. It looks like this is the end for old Captain America, right? Sure, why not.
Somewhere along the line, Bucky also managed to get himself captured even though it didn't look like Bucky had followed Steve. At any rate, the two heroes are being held down by other members of Sando's sabotage ring. That lady screaming? It's the hot blonde in the red suit. She introduces herself as Betty Ross. She's been investigating Sando and Omar for the government. She's described as "familiar" which means that she MIGHT be the same FBI Agent we met in the earlier adventure. She could have been meant to be the same lady but history will make the two very different characters. Betty Ross will become Golden Girl (not to be confused with Bea Arthur), an eventual side-kick to Captain America. X-13 would later be known as Peggy Carter, who at this point in time is the aunt of Steve's current girlfriend, Sharon Carter. I say "this point in time" because Sharon was once the younger sister of Peggy Carter before too much time passed to make that a possibility. Eventually, even "neice" will seem far-fetched.
ANYWAY, where was I? Oh yeah. Our heroes captured. Beautiful blonde introduced. Now, it's time for Sando to re-enter the scene. Cap clocked him a good one back on the stage and for that, Sando swears some sort of vengeance on the patriotic hero. He also starts the monologue process which is so popular in comics. It turns out his real name isn't "Sando" at all. It's "Von Krantz." He has been behind a number of critical attacks on the nation and it's defenses in a plan to demoralize our country and leave it ripe for invasion. Betty Ross fills in the rest. Von Krantz works for the Gestapo. She's been investigating the "Sando and Omar" act and found that Von Krantz has been using the poor, little Omar to predict these attacks.
Now, you're probably asking yourself, "why in the hell would they have a stage show to predict their own attacks on the nation? Wouldn't that just leave themselves as primary suspects in these terrorist actions?" Of course it would! This is a stupid plan! Don't even try to justify it Super! Just walk away... except, y'know... they did draw up the attention to these attacks with their dog and pony show... it was STILL stupid but they made these actions hard to put on page ten of the paper... OK, that's the only justification I can try for. You can send your No-Prize to me now, Marvel.
Cap has heard enough so he stops playing at being captured. He easily breaks out of the grasp of the two men holding him. Bucky swings his supposed captor over his head. Our heroes are free and it's time to deliver some justice!
The two partners make short work of the Gestapo agents. Von Krantz has one last trick up his sleeve, however. It's a bomb! The kind with a fuse! I love the Golden Age! It doesn't really matter. Bucky easily disarms the Nazi and tosses the bomb out the window where it can blow up some innocent pedestrians. With Von Krantz and his minions beaten, and poor Omar terrified in the corner fear peeing his guts out, Cap leaves Better Ross to mop things up.
Betty doesn't want the patriot to run off and tries to keep him there with the promise of "thanking him for his help." But even the implication that a kiss (or more) is in his future isn't enough to keep Steve in the room. He and Bucky jump out the window and race off into the night. No time for love, Dr. Jones.
In this story:
• Steve wakes up from a fitful sleep and makes sure his boy sidekick is ok!
• He realizes that the sentry's watch has been disturbed and finds a man DEAD!
• Cap comes across men trying to poison the Army's soup!
• The bad guys are captured, the Colonel is happy, Steve and Bucky are winking at each other!
Back in the Golden Age, it was required that any publication like these comic book things had to have an actual, written story inside them. For some reason. I can't exactly remember why. Even right into the Silver Age you'll see written adventures taking place inside some of your comics. That is why the first issue of Captain America Comics has a two page written tale.
I'm not going to go into as much depth on this. It's a standard adventure piece where Steve wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn't really know why he's woken up. After checking on his partner, who sleeps right next to him and that's not creepy OR disturbing, he realizes that the reason he woke up is because the guard pattern changed. He checks outside his tent and finds one of the soldiers on guard duty has been killed.
He changes into his Cap suit and looks around for the reason for this death.
In the mess tent, two mobsters/saboteurs are poisoning the soup. Cap stops them at the last minute. Bucky joins him and the two partners beat the tar out of the criminals. They escape the scene just before the rest of the guards arrive to apprehend the bad guys.
After the mobsters are questioned, they find that Cap and Bucky were involved. The Colonel makes a big deal about this to his men, musing that Captain America could be among them at any time. He notices Steve and Bucky exchanging glances and winks but doesn't question them on it no matter how icky it looks.
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Herr Rathcone plays chess with the lives of military leaders!
• Rathcone's assassination squad kill Admiral Perkins and the body is put on display before a surprised and sickened audience!
• Cap and Bucky take chase and one of the assassins is killed!
• Rathcone's assassination squad sends Herr Strangler to kill General Ellsworth!
• Private Steve Rogers is put on guard duty and finds the dead body of Gen. Ellsworth!
• Rathcone decides to take Captain America and Bucky... ALIVE!
• Bucky is taken without even a struggle!
Captain America charges in and rescues his partner, taking out Herr Rathcone in the process!
• Cap and Bucky take on the rest of the assassins and beat down Rathcone one last time!
Meet Herr Rathcone, the presumed future Führer of the United States. He likes to play chess but his rules are much more like checkers. No matter. He thinks he's some sort of master strategist but don't ask me what his complicated game of chess has to do with the actual plotting. All he really does is plays chess with custom made statues of his enemies and announce to his assassination squad who will be killed next. There's no real planning involved. It's just "kill this dude!" and his team goes to work.
In this instance, Rathcone is announcing the death notice for Admiral Perkins. His trusty assistant, Her Kamelon, assigns the hit to Agents 15 and 3. One of the two wonders why they've never been allowed to see Rathcone. Kamelon covers for his master like the loyal minion he is.
In a lecture hall, Private Steve Rogers and Camp Lehigh mascot, Bucky Barnes, are looking for a seat. This particular lecture is by Admiral Perkin himself. You might wonder why two relatively unimportant people like a Private and a Camp mascot would be attending such a lecture when they're surrounded by higher ranked military men. Bucky's kind of wondering that himself. The short answer is that Steve and Bucky are there because the lecture could be important to their roles as Captain America and... Bucky. Man, that codename sucks.
The curtain is pulled back to reveal... the dead body of Admiral Perkins!
The crowd goes nuts. They want blood. Steve is smart enough to know that whoever pulled this stunt is already out of the building. He and Bucky suit up and start the chase. Miraculously, they actually catch the assassin. Bucky catches up to the man first and fights him. While Bucky uses his fists, the assassin has a knife. The assassin is laughing over this because he believes he'll get two kills in one night.
He's not laughing long. Captain America joins the fight and suddenly the tables are turned. With the assassin in their hands, Cap demands answers. Of course, those answers are going to require a bit of choking but that's all in a days work for the defender of democracy. It's only after the assassin agrees to talk that the second assassin shoots him. Cap lifts up his shield to block any bullets that might hit him but that doesn't spare the life of the captured killer.
The second assassin drives off before Captain America and his partner can catch him. The two return to Camp Lehigh.
Back at Rathcone's secret base, the not-so-future-Führer plots his next victim. This time, it'll be General Ellsworth. This announcement goes out to his men and Kamelon sends out Herr Strangler, Number 13, to do the job.
At Camp Lehigh, Private Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes have returned and are relaxing after their failed attempt to capture an assassin. Steve is smoking his pipe. He pretty much does this whenever he can. His sergeant sees this slacking attitude and sends the private off to guard duty at General Ellsworth's tent. You see where this is going, right?
Steve wonders why General Ellsworth would need a guard. The general is at Camp Lehigh for an inspection and, surrounded by soldiers, Rogers doesn't think he needs a special guard. Unfortunately, he needed one a couple hours sooner. When Private Rogers walks into Ellsworth's tent to report for duty, he finds the General already dead.
The papers pick up on these two deaths and are buzzing with the news come morning. Rathcone is delighted by the headlines. He has his eyes firmly set on ruling the United States and believes that these two deaths are only the beginning steps of his bid for power. In this private moment, he imagines the many tools he will bring against the people of the USA to make them submissive to his rule. Gas. Tanks. Planes. He's the iron fist kind of ruler.
The next step in his... carefully laid out plan... is the deaths of Captain America and Bucky. He's about to send out his orders when he thinks better of them. Instead of outright killing the costumed heroes, he decides to capture them, monologue for a bit, and then have his plans blow up in his face. It's win/ win. To that end, he sends orders to have the patriotic duo brought to him... alive and unspoiled. Herr Kamelon sends out Strangler once more. Strangler decides that if they capture Bucky, Cap is sure to follow on his own.
This is where having your code name be your commonly known nickname probably works against Bucky Barnes. He also shouldn't be wearing his super-hero suit while hanging out in his tent. Whatever the reason, Strangler doesn't even work up a sweat in locating the kid sidekick and convincing him to come alone to Rathcone's secret base. Bucky writes a note to ensure Cap follows. There's... there's a lot of bungling going on in this scene.
Strangler takes off and allows Bucky to make his way to the secret base under his own time table. That means Bucky waits until nightfall before going off to investigate. Bucky is allowed free reign of the facilities and eventually makes his way into Rathcone's private chambers. Once there, Rathcone reveals himself (not that way, pervs) before Bucky is able to ruin his chess game. Rathcone intruduces himself as the future ruler of the United States and invites the youngster to a pleasant game of chess. Bucky declines and tries racing off for some help. Rathcone isn't about to let the kid leave and trips Bucky up with his cane. Bucky tries to attack but is beaten into unconsciousness.
Rathcone now only has to wait for Cap to eventually show up. Perfect plan!
Steve Rogers returns to his tent to find Bucky's letter. Oh, that crazy kid. He's gonna get himself killed someday...
Steve changes into his Captain America suit and races off to Rathcone's hideout. On his way in, he has to fight with Herr Strangler. There's not one moment of that fight where Strangler even stands a chance.
With that smaller battle easily won, Cap enters Rathcone's private chambers. Rathcone is prepared for the hero and has his gun pulled, ready for the kill. Rathcone leads Cap into his chess room where Bucky is tied up and waiting for a rescue. Steve casually talks to his partner and even has a remark or two about Rathcone's little chess set. Oh, look at the cute Captain America piece! I wonder what movements that kind of piece would have?
Guns don't mean much to a guy like Captain America. As soon as he assesses the situation, he literally turns the tables on his presumed captor. That means knocking over the chess table and hitting Rathcone with it. Cap moves in with a haymaker, laying the villain out flat.
The battle isn't done just yet. You see, there's a microphone in this room that has been relaying Rathcone's "detailed plans" to his associates. That means Kamelon and all those other assassins know that their boss has been beaten. They rush the room.
None of these people are a match for Bucky and Captain America. What they do, however, is buy time for Rathcone to wake up and try his hand at escaping. Steve gives chase and ends up getting his in the face with a chair. That hardly even phases the super soldier. He's immediately back on his feet and slugging the criminal in the frickin' mouth.
Once the bad guys are down for the count, Cap and Bucky investigate the secret base further and find it riddled with secret plans and intelligence. There is a lot of military information available here. This could have been a real threat if only Rathcone had just KILLED Cap and Bucky instead of playing with them. Ah well, some people just don't know how to play chess.
Captain America reports the location in to the authorities and then makes tracks with his kid partner. Back at Camp Lehigh, a Major Fields calls him in to a private meeting. Fields reads the frontpage article, which is all about Cap's latest adventure, to the Private. It's not because the Major knows who he IS. It's that the Major wants to show Private Rogers what a real soldier is like.
Writer: Joe Simon
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Private Rogers drives Major Croy back to the Major's home and ties to hang around to protect the Major!
• Croy sends Rogers home and is soon killed by the Red Skull!
• Captain America goes into action without Bucky!
• The Red Skull gives the order to his men: go rob some banks!
• Bucky falls off a roof and is captured by the Red Skull's men!
• Captain America comes to the rescue but loses the Red Skull in the attempt!
• George Maxon comes to Camp Lehigh to watch the test flight of one of his planes only to have it explode in the sky!
• General Manor is killed by the Red Skull!
• Captain America attacks but is defeated by the Skull, leaving Bucky to rescue him!
• The Red Skull is revealed to by George Maxon right before being killed by his own hypodermic needle!
Yeah, if you haven't noticed already, a lot of high military officials get killed off in this comic. We also get our first appearance of the Red Skull! It's not the Red Skull we all know and loathe, however. This is the "first" Red Skull. He had one appearance before dying.
We start off with our first high ranking military victim. This time, it's Major Croy. Private Rogers is Croy's driver for the evening (with Bucky riding shotgun just because the two are nearly inseparable). Major Croy has already gotten a death threat from a certain Red Skull but believes the whole thing to be a hoax. When Steve tries to stick around and protect the Major, the Major laughs off the threat on his life and sends the Private home. Steve leaves but can't shake the feeling that the Major is in deadly danger.
Major Croy sits down to read a book. He must have left a window open because the Red Skull enters the room and quietly sneaks up on his victim. Croy doesn't stand a chance. With his hands around the Major's neck, the Red Skull forces Major Croy to look in his eyes so that he can will the military man to death. This seems to work but the actual mechanism of death will be described later.
Later on, the body of Major Croy is found, police are called in, and Steve Rogers shows up to tell them his story. No one can figure out what killed the good major. All they know is that the look in Croy's eyes is chilling. Someone should shut those eyes.
Outside the window, the Red Skull is still hanging around. When he sees that the police haven't determined a cause of death, he's satisfied and takes off.
Steve (and Bucky) excuse themselves and get dressed for action. You'll notice that in most cases these heroes just race right in on the villain of the piece. There's no explanation for how they found the bad guy or anything. They just show up and start taking names. That's probably their strategy right here. The two get their super suits on and prepare to run into the bad guy. At the last second, Cap decides that Bucky shouldn't be on this particular case. Maybe it's because of all the death but that's nothing Buck hasn't faced in their first few adventures. Still, once in a while, maybe Cap just wants to fight on his own.
It's no good. If Cap won't bring Bucky along, the kid sidekick will just look for the Red Skull on his own.
The Red Skull has a meeting with some of his underlings. He lays out his very simple plan. The Red Skull will keep killing military officials and his gang will rob banks and keep the money flowing in.
It seems that Bucky is having better luck finding the bad guys than Cap. The kid commando races along the rooftops until he comes across the Red Skull's lookout. Unfortunately, luck is not on his side this evening. Bucky leans over too far on the roof and breaks right through the shoddily assembled brick barrier. He falls into the street but lands without serious injury. That lookout has the jump on Mr. Barnes and takes the advantage. The next thing we know, Bucky is being led into the Red Skull's hideout.
Only the Red Skull knows that this kid is Bucky, the kid sidekick of Captain America. When his men learn this fact, they think letting the kid go is preferable to going up against the Sentinel of Liberty. The Red Skull isn't afraid. He decides that they're going to hold the boy hostage and then kill him.
Before any of that can take place, Captain America catches up to his partner. Bucky catches his second wind and helps his friend fight this terror cell. In the commotion, the Red Skull makes his getaway.
The next day, we find Steve Rogers smoking away on his pipe. Joe Quesada would NOT approve. Soon enough, he's called into duty. The men are called to attention as the General introduces them to Mr. George Maxon. Maxon is the head of Maxon Aircraft Corporation and is here for the flight test of his brand new bomber. They watch as the giant plane takes flight, bursts into flames, and crashes to the ground.
Medical teams race to the scene. Maxon laments the loss of his beautiful plane. Private Rogers chews him out for not caring for the lives of the men who probably died aboard the bomber. This isn't the sort of thing that Privates usually do. General Manor tells him to get back at attention. It will be later when Steve investigates this as Captain America.
The General shows Mr. Maxon home personally, assuring the businessman that everything will be done to get to the bottom of this little bit of sabotage. Mr. Maxon expresses just how distressed the day's events have made him feel. He wishes "America's greatest military genius" a good night.
General Manor shows up at home and apologizes to his wife for having such a late day. It's just that they're preparing for this eventual war thing and there's a lot to do. His wife doesn't mind at all. She just hands her husband a package that was delivered earlier and exits, stage left. Manor heads to his study to open this box. Inside is a red skull and a message announcing his death.
General Manor takes this just as seriously as Major Croy. He tosses the note into the fire and has a good laugh at the joke. That red skull is kind of creepy, though...
Immediately, the real Red Skull shows up. Manor pulls his gun but the Red Skull lunges before the pistol can be trained on him. The gun fires uselessly into the distance. Again, he has his hands at the neck of a military leader. Again, he forces the officer to look him in the eye. Again, we end up with a dead man.
This time, the Red Skull doesn't get to run off into the night undetected. The General is married and the sound of Manor's gun going off is enough to attract the attention of his wife. She enters the room with her gun drawn and this time the Red Skull isn't able to avoid it. When she sees her husband fallen, she drops her weapon and races to the dead man's side. When she realizes that General Manor is dead, she rises to attack the Red Skull but her advantage is gone. The Red Skull easily bests her. He declares that he's not going to kill her because she's not important enough.
Captain America flies into the room. Now HERE'S someone important enough to kill.
This is the first battle that gives Captain America any trouble and that's interesting since Cap entered the fight with surprise on his side. Once the Red Skull recovers from Cap's initial barrage he smashes a chair over Cap's head. While this wasn't enough to stop Steve earlier, this time it knocks the patriot out. A KO isn't what the Red Skull was looking for. He crosses the Captain off his list and then tries to revive the super soldier so that Steve can look him in the eyes for the kill.
Cap didn't enter this fight alone. Bucky just held back. When he sees his partner in trouble, Bucky charges in to the rescue. Cap is quick to recover and now the battle is two against one. Captain America delivers an uppercut to the Red Skull's face and shatters the fright mask. Underneath, unsurprisingly, is Mr. Maxon. Not only that, Maxon's secret killing power is out. When he fell to the ground, a hypodermic needle fell out of his costume. It seems that Maxon kills people with a drug coctail and watches the life fade from their eyes.
Maxon isn't done fighting yet. He tries to over power Captain America. His attack is so sudden that it catches Steve Rogers off guard. The needle goes flying. Maxon desperately reaches for it but now finds himself fighting Bucky. During the struggle, George Maxon accidentally falls on his own needle.
Bucky is a bit horrified by this unwitting death. He asks Steve why his partner didn't intervene but Cap doesn't have a clear answer. Instead, they call in the authorities and make theirselves scarce.
The FBI show up soon. The biggest question to be answered is why an industrialist like George Maxon would become a traitor. The answer is still on Maxon's person: a note from the Führer himself promising Maxon a ministry position when Germany conquered the United States.
With all these adventures now thoroughly under their belts, Private Steve Rogers and regiment mascot, Bucky Barnes, relax back at Camp Lehigh. With these two on the job, maybe a few less Generals will be dead in the future.
That was what we call a hard day's work! Hope you had yourself a good time!
Until we meet again: Excelsior!
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