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Super Reads 104

Written by SuperginraiX on Wednesday, August 11 2010 and posted in Features

It's that time again.

Today, we check out The Thanos Imperative #1, Avengers Prime #1, Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1, Vengeance of the Moon Knight #9, and Blast to the Past for Tales to Astonish #27. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

Thanos? I hear he's Imperative. Hopefully, that's the worse joke you'll get today. I promise nothing.

Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege? Check no further than this link right HERE .

Let's look in on the Cancerverse.

ti1.jpgThe Thanos Imperative #1
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda

In this issue:

• We relive a moment from the Annihilation War with Nova and Star-Lord.

• Rocket Raccoon subdues Thanos by threatening the mad Titan with eternal life.

• The Fault is expanding and destroying the resistance fleet at it's mouth.

• Lord Mar-Vell sends his Revengers after the Avatar of Death and any other anomolies they can find.

• The Revengers attack the Nova Corps Starship and kidnap Namorita.

• Thanos works with the Guardians of the Galaxy and teleports the team and himself into the Cancerverse.

• In the Cancerverse, Thanos collapses and the Guardians meet the Cancerverse Defenders.

The previous comic in this series (The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1) was covered HERE .

After the events of Thanos Imperative, the entire universe is threatened by the Fault and the Cancerverse is at the other end. The leader of the Cancerverse forces has arrived. Lord Mar-Vell, their version of Captain Marvel, is directing this assault from the lead Templeship from the Universal Church of Truth.

Before we get back to that attack, let's head back to the event that kicked Marvel's cosmic titles in high gear: Annihilation. That event brought together some of the cooler space heroes to battle against Annihilus and his army of Neg-Zone bugs. In the middle of that conflict, Peter Quill (Star-Lord) and Richard Rider (Nova) talk to each other in a quiet moment between attacks. The conversation starts to veer in the direction of Abstracts: the living versions of Death, Eternity, Oblivion, Pasta, etc. When cosmic creatures like those get involved, things are messed up. The attack by Annihilus' forces starts once more and our heroes rejoin the fight.

Back in the present, Peter Quill finds himself facing off against one of the Avatars of the Abstract: Thanos. Big T is in love with Death and everything he does in life is to please her. He's also super powerful after his resurrection. When the Fault was ripped open, Thanos found himself free. And angry. Star-Lord is firing his space guns at the mad Titan but they aren't doing much good. Or any good.

Rocket Raccoon to the rescue! Rocket's piloting one of those Aliens-esque mechanized exosuit things. Thanos isn't coherent enough to talk right now but Rocket Raccoon expects that the Titan can understand well enough. He explains that the suit is equipped with a Rampart Arms Phasic Cannon. This is, apparently, bad news. Now, Rocket knows that Thanos would LOVE to be killed so his threat is the opposite. He's going to shoot to wound and then cryogenically freeze the Titan and throw him into a gravity sink. Eternal life could be Thanos'.

The Avatar of Death isn't about that and drops the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The telekenetics mind blasts the mad one and get the mindlock back on Thanos. Now they just need to figure out what caused Thanos to go more crazy than usual.

Gamorra calls Peter up from the monitor room and tells him that something is happening at the Fault but doesn't really understand what's going on. All she knows is something terrible is going on at the gigantic rip in space/time.

Medusa, Queen of the Kree, fills us in on what is going on. Adam Magus blew up a bunch of planets full of converts from the Universal Church of Truth which made the Fault to open wide, while also summoning the beings from the Cancerverse to out universe to party. This has resulted in tentacles spreading everywhere. Medusa's flagship is one good shot away from having these creatures inside their ship. Things are not going well for the home universe.

The Cancerverse is fillled to capacity with life. It's literally expanded to fill the entire universe. With this new opening into the 616 universe, the Cancerverse is erupting violently into our universe.

Aboard Gladiator's ship, the Majestor of the Shi'ar is faring little better than the Kree. His ship is overrun by Cancerverse monsters and tentacles. Kallark gives the order to his Imperial Guard to get busy clearing the ship of trespassers from another universe. We meet the latest in a long line of Smashers (who is destined to be killed yet again before this story is over) and learn that the things from the Cancerverse are extremely hard to kill. It takes multiple "lethal" blows to down one of them. This is not going to be an easy fight.

From a distance, the Silver Surfer sees this space war happening. He may even intervene. Maybe.

Vaughn, the Cancerverse Quasar, and Lord Mar-Vell, the Cancerverse Captain Marvel, are on the Universal Church of Truth Starship, Eternal Sin. Vaughn is giving Mar-Vell a combat update. Mar-Vell is amused at how this universe has rallied to defend itself and how there are deaths happening. Still, his amusement on Death is going to be short. Death still being "alive" is the reason that his home universe is able to expand into this one but it must be destroyed for this plan to continue.

Lord Mar-Vell is upset that Magus hadn't already taken care of Death and now sees that Death has worked her mojo to hide her Avatar from those searching for him. That Avatar will still show up as an anomoly of some type, though. Vaughn has summoned the Revengers (the Avengers team we first met in the Realm of Kings One-Shot) to search for any anomolies and bring them back here. When the Avatar of Death is found, they'll be sacrificed in a special ceremony.

Back on Knowhere, the severed Celestial head that serves as the headquarters of the Guardians of the Galaxy among many other functions, Thanos is under a psychic attack that seems to be brought on by the Fault. While Peter tries to figure out what to do about this, Major Victory is more concerned about the actual threat of the Fault. He figures a team calling itself "Guardians of the Galaxy" need to get involved in doing some guarding.

Star-Lord still claims that they need a plan first. The Cancerverse is a universe where life has won. How do you fight a universe without death? Peter already knows the answer but he pauses long enough for Thanos to say it himself:: You give that universe the Avatar of Death. Thanos.

While everything since Annihilation has been great for the Nova book, it's been terrible for the Nova Corps. Now, the cosmic police force finds it's starship headquarters attacked by the Fault creatures. We're not going to catch up on most of the Nova Corps Probationers (just one panel for Qubit and Irani) but we will look in on Richard Rider's brother, Robbie Rider and Namorita as the fend off an attack of creepy tentacles. Robbie asks the Worldmind for a status on Nova Prime and Quasar and gets an unfavorable response: Worldmind believes them to be dead after the explosion in Ignition.

Of course, they're alive and well and in the room for a quick save. This helps them out for about half a second before the Revengers make their grand entrance. Quasar has dealt with these guys before and shouts his warning to the room right before the Revengers attack in force.

The Cancerverse Avengers are as hard to deal with as everything else coming out of the Fault. They aren't here to kill everyone, though. If you'll remember, the Revengers are on a mission to collect anomolies and there's nothing in the room more anomolous than Namorita. She's from the past and doesn't really belong here. The Cancerverse Giant-Man grabs her and the team leaves Richard Rider and his companions to deal with the mess.

On Knowhere, Thanos is using the Continuum Cortex computers to program teleportation coordinates into the Cancerverse.

Thanos is prepared to go alone but that's not going to happen. Most of the Guardians agree to go along. Major Victory leads the rest of the team off with the Luminals to fight the battle head on at the Fault.

One of my favorite Guardians, Drax, makes sure to be on the team going with Thanos and has dressed for the occasion, putting on a uniform closely resembling his original suit. Thanos, who wishes he was dead like the best Emo ever, thanks Drax for trying his best to kill him on their last big meeting. Drax tells the mad Titan that he'll get it right sooner or later.

The Thanos team (Rocket Raccoon, Gamorra, Thanos, Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Mantis, and Cosmo) take the teleporter directly into the Cancerverse. While the Guardians spead out into defensive positions like the pro team they could be, their special guest star drops to the ground in pain for just entering this universe. This is a whole universe without death. As the Avatar of Death, he's not doing well.

There are more important concerns sprouting up, however. The team meets the Cancerverse version of the Defenders and chances are pretty good they're hostile.

ap1.jpgAvengers Prime #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Alan Davis

In this story:

• The heroes of the Siege work on clean up and fight among themselves.

• Thor calms Steve and Tony down and they take a trip to the broken Watchtower of Heimdall.

• Our heroes get a surprise ride on the rainbow express.

• Iron Man wakes up alone on the plains and gets to work repairing his armor before company arrives.

• Steve wakes up in a forest and walks to a local bar filled with angry dark elves.

• After a lengthy fight scene, Rogers arms himself in dropped dark elf gear that resembles his old Cap suit.

• Thor walks through the ruins of Vanaheim before encountering the Enchantress.

The purpose of Avengers Prime is to tell the story of how the Avengers trinity learns how to not hate each other to death. It's a five issue mini-series starring Steve Rogers, Thor, and Iron Man. Alan Davis on art! You have to be here.

We start out tale after the Siege of Asgard, but it's not apparent if this is our heroes returning after the battle or if this is directly following that event. Some small details say that it's AFTER. Steve is no longer wearing his Captain America suit but he still hasn't adopted his Super-Soldier costume. Clint Barton is no longer dressed up as Ronin and is back in his Hawkeye gear. Some civilians have shown up that wouldn't have been here immediately following the battle. Pepper Potts and Edwin Jarvis to help in relief efforts.

On the other side, the city of Asgard looks in like it have recently fallen so I'd say this could have taken place only hours after the end of Siege and some people have just changed for the occasion.

While Maria Hill directs people and coordinates their next move, Thor, Steve, and Tony stand apart and talk about the fall of Asgard. Steve is all about helping out the Asgardians while Iron Man offers words of encouragement. Tony has lost everything more than once, after all. He tells Thor that this isn't an ending; it's a chance to rebuild everything better than it was before. It's a lot like his armor: it can keep getting better. Steve mentions that he doesn't know if Stark will be wearing armor soon.

The wounds of the Civil War run deep. Iron Man and Steve Rogers took opposite sides during that mess and they still are barely able to talk to each other without getting into a fight. Tony doesn't like Steve thinking that the armor can be taken away from him. Stark believes it's his property, his creation, and HIS. No-one can tell him he can't put it on. Basically, the two switch their stances that they claimed during Civil War.

Which is interesting because Tony doesn't actually remember the Civil War. Except for what he's read, Stark isn't aware of how events played out. He doesn't remember the Secret Invasion or how power was given to Norman Osborn after that conflict. When Steve tells Iron Man that he basically handed the Green Goblin the keys to the world, Tony takes the charges seriously because he doesn't know them to be false. In a sense, they are true. Setting up the Initiative and then failing the world in such a public manner gave Norman Osborn the chance to jump right into the Top Cop seat.

After letting the two Avengers yell at each other for a time, Thor tells them they can leave if that's all they want to do is open old wounds. Thor comes at this from a different angle. SURE, Tony provided the genetic material for a clone to be made of Thor but he was also here to help his people out when they needed him most. What's in the past is the past and this is a present where Thor's human allies and friends united to help defend his realm. Forgiveness all around.

After feeling like dunces for yelling about old stuff, Steve and Tony drop their fight (for now) and get on with helping salvage Asgard.

Thor leads his friends to the one part of Asgard that requires immediate attention. Heimdall's Observatory was the first place hit during the Siege. This cut off Asgard from the eternal realm and was also supposed to make Asgard blind to attack by taking Heimdall out of the fight. Through Loki's plans, Heimdall faced different challenges and missed the Sentry's initial strike on his Observatory. He is still injured and out of commission for now, though.

The bigger problem is what to do with the shattered rainbow bridge. It is a danger to everyone and without Heimdall to direct it's repair, Thor wonders how to handle it. Iron Man tries to scan the bridge to determine an energy reading but this old Classic armor isn't doing him any favors. So, they have a broken portal that leads to... where?

Rogers says that the room should be closed up until Heimdall is well enough to deal with it but Thor feels that that won't be enough. The thunder god is in the middle of explaining their course of action when Iron Man's alarms start sounding. The broken rainbow bridge starts up and takes away our heroes.

As the spiraling rainbow tornado throws Steve, Thor, and Iron Man into a whole new world, Maria Hill, Hawkeye, Sif, Pepper Potts, and Jarvis get thrown around by the magical energy involved. When they recover and get back on their feet, it takes only a short time to figure out what's happened. Even Sif doesn't know where they've ended up. Maria Hill decides it's better to seal off the area for now to prevent future accidents.

Tony Stark wakes up to find his world in darkness. His armor has shut down. He even freaks out that he's been placed inside a coffin for a moment before ripping off his Iron Man helmet and breathing in the fresh air of another world. Iron Man has been dropped in a field just as the sun is going down. He disconnects part of his shoulder attachment and opens the piece up to get at his self-repair kit. He starts working the problem.

Shadowy figures show up behind him. We switch scenes just as he turns to look at them but we don't learn their identities this issue. That shadow doesn't seem friendly, though.

Steve Rogers wakes up in a completely different part of whatever world they've ended up on. It's already night and the reason we know it's another world is because of the double moons in the sky. Rogers walks through a dead forest until he finds a village.

Steve enters what appears to be a tavern and finds it filled with feasting dark elves. They turn and face him as Rogers tries to explain his situation. All he wants to know is where he is. Since these guys appear to be part of Thor's comic book, Steve decides to tell them that he's Thor's ally. As we all know, dark elves aren't exactly friendly with Asgardians. When they learn that this pink thing is friends with Thor, they decide to make him their next meal.

Steve Rogers can fight with the best of them. The best. While this isn't the easiest fight he's faced this week, his victory is hardly in doubt. Still, in the course of the fight, Steve gets his shirt all sliced up. These dark elves have no problems using weapons against an unarmed man. None of this really bothers the former Captain America. What does tick him off is that he still has no idea where he is.

The fight done, Steve loots the bodies and loads himself up with a nice, shiny shield, a sword, a quiver of arrows, and a blue chainmail suit. I'm just guessing that there's a bow for the arrows just out of sight. The blue plate mail and the shield give him the look of Captain America. The sword and arrows don't. Still, when in one of the nine realms...

Since this isn't new territory for Thor, the god of thunder wakes up and knows exactly where he's been dropped: Vanaheim. No-one is here to greet him. He seems to be in some kind of courtyard, but the entire place is empty of its people. Thor calls out to see if everyone has gone to bed early but meets silence.

After talking aloud for a bit longer, something DOES respond but not in a friendly manner. Thor is knocked off his feet by a blast of energy. He looks around and finds no sign of his attacker. Before he can rise, he's blasted down again. And again. And again.

Finally, a voice calls out to him. It's the Enchantress surrounded by monstrous minions. She's seems pleased to have caught the thunder god and mocks Asgard's poor fate. The city is ashes. Odin is dead. Loki has met his end. Now, Thor ends up in her hands. It's a good day to be the Enchantress.

Yeah, ex-girlfriends. What are ya gonna do?

hnm1.jpgHawkeye & Mockingbird #1
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David Lopez

In this story:

• Hawk and Mock chase down gun runners in New York City.

• After catching the bad guys, the driver of the gun truck is shot in the chest by his boss, Crossfire!

• Bobbi and Clint meet the ancestor of Lincoln Slade, Jaime Slade!

• Jaime is possessed by her dick of an ancestor after holding a leaky urn.

• Bobbi chews out the WCA (World Counterterrorism Agency) at their headquarters!

• Clint has Twitchy track down Bobbi's family before joining Steve Rogers for a training session at Avengers Tower.

• Mockingbird and Jaime Slade dream the same dream.

• Clint meets Bobbi's mom who tells him that her daughter's been dead for eight years.

• Crossfire teams up with the new Phantom Rider!

The previous story in this series was covered HERE .

Hawk and Mock! You've gotta love this pairing. While I wasn't too impressed by New Avengers: The Reunion, I'm somehow really excited over this new one even though it has the same creative team. Sometimes I make no sense and that's ok.

This comic was preceded by a short story in Enter the Heroic Age where Clint and Bobbi chased down gun runners in the streets of New York. At the start of this issue, they're doing the exact same thing.

I know! It's like deja vu. There are subtle differences, of course. This time, they're in a CAR and no-one is driving. It's set up for remote operations by Mockingbird's team, the World Counterterrorism Agency (AKA: WCA). This leave both Hawk and Mock both hands free for firing at the bad guys.

The gun runners have also switched up their game a little bit. The lead vehicle with all their gun merchandise inside is a black humvee, with four motorcyclists riding escort. Yeah, that doesn't just shout suspicious, does it?

Just like the earlier short story, this David Lopez handles the chase scene very well so I don't even mind that we just had a chase scene. It gives Hawkeye a moment where he can really go all out with his arrows, too. For example: he's able to launch three Pym Particle arrow loads into the air. When they get high enough, the tips open up and release a payload of quickly re-enlarged arrows that rain hell from the sky. As Clint tells us: "I never miss." This is supposed to explain why none of these arrows hits anyone with a lethal shot but it doesn't explain why so many of these arrows just shatter on the ground. Really, he should have said "I never hit anyone lethally" but that's less dramatic.

I also feel the need to point out the editing that has been done to this particular splash page since we originally got an online teaser of it. In the originally released version, there were several arrows that hit the bikers in a way that death was at their door. In the officially released version, those killer shots are removed. At least it sparked some conversation on the internet.

Not only is the WCA driving Bobbie and Clint's car, they're also redirecting traffic so that the only one getting hurt on this trip are the bad guys. This cordon isn't complete, though. Up ahead, Hawkeye and Mockingbird notice a lone white truck that somehow got through the blockaded area. Their car rams up on the black humvee, forcing the bad guys' back wheels off the ground. Mockingbird leaps from the car to take out the driver of the hummer. Hawkeye also leaves the safety of their vehicle but his mission is to get the white truck out of the way.

Even with Mockingbird driving the hummer, she's not able to get the truck to completely miss the white truck. In glances off the back of the white truck and causes the vehicle to swing around. Hawkeye saves the truck from toppling over with a couple rope arrows and follows up with a net arrow to keep the contents inside.

We're not done just yet. The original driver of the black humvee tries his best to run for the hills but a bola arrow trips him up before he gets very far. Clint is in the middle of questioning the criminal when a laser sight rests on the driver's forehead. Clint tries getting the guy out of the way but the gun runner still takes a shot to the chest. Bobbi grabs a putty arrow and administers first aid while her ex tries to locate the sniper before any more bodies hit the floor.

It's not long before Clint gets the shooter in his sights. It's Crossfire, an old enemy of both Hawkeye and Mockingbird as well as a former member of the Hood's Syndicate. Crossfire gets one more shot off that is blocked by one of Barton's arrows before taking off.

Mockingbird has done all she can to save the driver's life and now the two heroes can only wait until EMT crews arrive to take him to the hospital. It's about time they learn who was in the white truck that they saved. It was Jaime Slade, the daughter of the current Phantom Rider, Hamilton Slade, and decendant of Lincoln Slade. Mockingbird has a lot of bad history with Lincoln Slade. When she ended up in the 1800's, Lincoln Slade caught her and used a potion to make Bobbi think she was in love with him. When that wore off, Morse chased Lincoln up to a cliff top. Only one of them walked back down. The other fell.

While Jaime's father doesn't hold a grudge on Bobbi, it looks like his daughter does. Hamilton was once possessed by his ancestor and sort of haunted Mockingbird for a while but is now free of Lincoln's influence. In fact, Hamilton gets his "Phantom Rider powers" from the ORIGINAL Phantom Rider, Carter Slade, who was Lincoln's more noble brother. Carter is also the ancestor of the Secret Warrior J.T. Slade. It's a big family.

Like I said, Jaime is no fan of Mockingbird or Hawkeye. This incident isn't about to change her opinion. The contents of the white truck are her family's collection of wild, wild west relics that she and her dad had uncovered over the years. They were going to be on display at a museum for their "Mysteries of the American Southwest" exhibit. Unfortunately, this little adventure has damaged a good lot of them. Take, for example, the urn that Jaime is holding. It's leaking out spirit dust that no-one else seems to notice.

Jaime says a curt "good day" to our heroes before turning back to her work. It's then that the spirit dust overtakes her and makes Jaime Slade seem a whole lot more unearthly. It looks like Lincoln Slade rides again!

After learning where the injured driver is being taken to, Clint and Bobbi return to the headquarter of the World Counterterrorism Agency located in Times Square. Mockingbird isn't happy with anyone right now. She didn't like learning that Crossfire was behind all this gun trafficking while in the field and expected that kind of thing to be revealed BEFORE such missions. While she's chewing her team out and giving orders, we get to meet everyone. First up is someone we already know from The Reunion mini-series: Twitchy. Twitch is the WCA senior intelligence guy and is pretty good at his job. Next up is Bangs. She first showed up in a cameo in the last issue of The Reunion. Now we learn that she's the weapons and explosives expert on the team. Rounding out this group is London. Clint doesn't know much about her but she basically fills the "Q" role for the WCA, inventing gadgets that Mockingbird and Hawkeye can use in the field.

There's one more member of the team but he doesn't really play part in the operational headquarters: Dominic Fortune. Dom is kind of a sleeze and is pretty much always flirting with his boss. He also is the one who's given Bobbi all the leads for the gun trafficking. Clint doesn't like him at all. Heck, it doesn't even look like Mockingbird likes him much. He's just really useful to the team.

Clint wants to talk to Bobbi about meeting Jaime Slade but Morse really isn't comfortable going over that right now. She excuses herself and tells Clint that he should get to Avengers Tower. Before Barton leaves, he checks up with Twitchy on a little side project he's running. Twitchy isn't really that comfortable with this little mission but Hawk is determined to get whatever info Twitch is looking for.

It seems that Bobbi is having nightmares. The reintroduction of the Phantom Rider might just tip her off the deep end. Whatever Clint's looking for is supposed to prevent that.

And, with that, Hawkeye is off to Avengers Tower and a training session with the former Captain America.

While they fight, Clint is filling Steve in on what's happening with the WCA and making sure everyone knows how much he hates Dominic Fortune. Mostly, he just hates that Dom thinks he's a boy scout. HIM! That's the same term he'd use against Cap back in the day but Steve never really took offense from it.

In the middle of the fight, Clint gets hit in the back with the real Captain America shield. It looks like the current Cap entered this training session to aid his former partner. Barton accuses Rogers of cheating. Steve smiles and tells Hawkeye that he learned it from the best. Cap gives Clint a hand up and gets a charge from the device that Barton was holding in his hand. Since Barnes' arm is cybernetic, the device messes with that. Hawkeye throws the Avenger into Steve, ending the fight. There's a lot of "boy scout" insults flying around at this point.

Clint tells Steve that he's been working on tracking down Mockingbird's family after getting a call from Twitchy with information on the same. Steve thinks this is something that Clint should talk to Bobbi about while Bucky reminds him that there's probably a good reason why she hasn't mentioned her family. Clint... well, sometimes Hawkeye does something stupid because the thinks he's doing the right thing. This is one of those times. He thinks that bringing Bobbie a family will help her open up. A lot of this probably has to do with the fact that Clint has always WANTED a family but never really had one before joining the Avengers.

Meanwhile, Bobbie Morse dreams the stuff of nightmares. She's reliving the confrontation she had with Lincoln Slade on the top of that cliff. Not only is this a re-enactment of that earlier memory, it's also a reminder that Lincoln is back and is looking for revenge... even though Lincoln really has no basis for vengeance. He had a wierd obsession with Bobbi that resulted in him violating her in way too many ways. Bobbi never even pushed him off the cliff. She just didn't rescue him. That may be bad (and it might not be-- Bobbi certainly had enough reasons for wanting Lincoln dead) but it's hard to justify vengeance over.

The Phantom Rider falls over the cliff once again. Bobbi cries out this time and realizes that she's not the only one shouting. There's someone else on the cliff with her: Jaime Slade. Just as they both recognize the other, Jaime wakes up with a start. She walks over to the phone and makes a call, looking for information on the driver that was shot in front of her.

The next day, Mockingbird meets with Dominic Fortune to discuss the weapons they took off the gun runners. After learning that they aren't traceable, she tells Fortune to start selling them to friendly agents. Her Agency needs the money. She makes sure that Dom knows not to tell Hawkeye any of this.

Secrets! Hawk is doing some secret stuff of his own. He's gone to Rome, Georgia in search of Bobbi's family. It turns out she has a mom and brother in this area. Clint isn't sure this is a good idea because it totally isn't. Steve's right. He should go to Bobbi first. He goes over this all in his head while hovering in his flying bike over the house of Bobbi's mother. The decision is sort of taken out of his hands when that same mom notices his flying bike and calls up to him.

Even now, Hawkeye could claim to be here for another reason but he comes clean and tells Bobbie's mom that he's here to talk about her daughter. Clint gives her the short version of his history with Mockingbird before he learns that Bobbi's mother thinks that her daughter is dead. In fact, Bobbi's been dead for eight years!

In Brooklyn, Crossfire is training hard. Most of this means killing dummies of Mockingbird and Hawkeye. Someone knocks on his door and, thinking that it's someone else, he yells at the person and tells them that unless they have his guns or the location of Hawkeye & Mockingbird that it's best to stay away or be killed. Since it's NOT who he thinks it is, the actual visitor just comes in anyway. It's the new Phantom Rider, Jaime Slade, who is possessed by the spirit of her ancestor, Lincoln Slade. She got Crossfire's location from that driver in the hospital shortly before the criminal died.

It's time for a super-villain team-up!

votmk9.jpgVengeance of the Moon Knight #9
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

In this issue:

• Moon Knight runs into Spider-Man!

• The two heroes fight Sandman in a museum!

• We learn that Sandman is stealing diamonds for the girl he wants to be his daughter.

• Moon Knight and Spidey track Sandman into the stuffed animal exhibit.

• Sandman grows to incredible size and knocks the Moon Hovercraft out of the sky.

• Moon Knight and Spidey swing across town to keep up with the Sandman.

• Frenchie takes a cab. It's hilarious.

• Moon Knight comes up with a plan involving a Spider-Web and a rocket fire from subsonic jet.

• Sandman is dispersed and our team-up is concluded.

• After getting his graffiti on, Moon Knight is recruited by Steve Rogers.

Moon Knight is a comic book character that I wish I loved more than I actually do. I've tried out his various books a number of times but they've never stuck. It's a shame, too because MK has a very cool visual.

We start this issue with a conversation between Moon Knight and his pilot/friend, Frenchie. Frenchie has heard word of an incident in this particular section of town and has flown Marc Spector in to get his hero on. Moon Knight is hanging from a rope ladder out of Frenchie's Mooncraft but isn't seeing anything that requires his brand of justice.

Which is when he runs right into Spider-Man.

The two heroes collide into the side of a building together while they both complain about the other smashing into them. Moon Knight was just minding his own business on the end of a rope ladder, after all. What was up with Spider-Man? Well, it seems Spidey had just ran into the hammering fist of Sandman and was sent flying. Looks like Moon Knight has found his incident and been dragged into a team-up at the same time.

Sandman is robbing a museum and now that he's gotten rid of the wall-crawler, he goes back to work. For a man made up of living sand, breaking and entering is not even a thing. Flint Marko enters the museum pretty easily and finds his prize soon afterward. Flint is here for a giant diamond.

It's time for a flashback explaining why a criminal would ever want to steal a diamond. Not too long ago, Sandman was involved in a story arc in Amazing Spider-Man where he unofficially adopted himself a daughter named Keemi. They were separated after that story because... Sandman's not really her father and even if he was there's little chance he's even get visitation rights. Super-criminal. You don't get to see your kids. Anyway, Marko does go in for a visit which is heartfelt even though you shouldn't be rooting for the bad guy. During their reunion, Sandman decides that his false daughter deserves a big diamond and goes out to steal one.

I'm not saying it makes sense. Marko's a bit nuts right now. Even in the ASM arc, it was made apparent that there were conflicting thoughts going on in the Sandman's head.

Still, stealing is wrong and it'll get you attacked by two vigilantes.

Sandman is one tough customer. I mean, if you don't have a vaccuum nearby that you can suck him up into, you probably aren't going to beat him. Heck, even a little water has been known to take him out but you are still going to find him trouble. Really, Sandman should be pretty unbeatable but he gets taken out in the most ridiculous ways. This time, it's going to take some effort subduing the super-villain.

Flint Marko loses his precious stolen diamond and tries to make a quick getaway. The heroes follow him into the natural history section of this museum and search around the animal exhibits for their sandy foe. Neither of them looks down.

Flint adds a lot of extra sand to his body and explodes out of the exhibit as a giant. Spider-Man and Moon Knight's puny attacks do nothing against the massive Sandman and they are forced into defensive positions.

Frenchie calls in to ask for Marc's location but he won't need to look for long. Sandman erupts from the roof of the museum, takes one look at Frenchie's flying Moon Vehicle and knocks it out of the sky. For a few brief moments, Moon Knight doesn't know if his friend is dead or alive. The moon hovercraft thing hits the side of the building and there's no immediate answer from the comm. Eventually, Frenchie responds and lets Moon Knight know that he was able to eject. Spidey and Moony chase after their foe.

This is made more difficult with the loss of Moon Knight's plane, but it turns out that Marc has developed his own version of web swinging and the two heroes are able to travel throughout the city in much the same fashion.

Sandman isn't even trying to be sneaky. After trying to escape to the subway tunnels beneath New York, Marko is hit by a train and decides to return to the streets. Peter and Marc just have to follow the sounds of sheer panic and they're able to keep tracking Sandman. Still, there's the small matter of not being able to actually fight their enemy effectively that's going to keep this battle from a clear win. Moon Knight has a plan, though. He contacts Frenchie and tells him to meet them at a specific location.

This forces Frenchie to take a cab. While Jean-Paul DuChamp has managed to find the only American cabbie in New York City, he's also found a very annoying cabbie who can't stop talking about stupid stuff while playing stupid music. All of this tries the Frenchman's patience.

Now, it's up to our two heroes to lead Sandman to a trap. This is accomplished by taunting and fighting. Once they have Flint Marko's attention, they just need to escape his sandstorm while keeping the bad guy moving in the right direction. The two get a safe distance ahead of the Sandman and meet up with Frenchie in fron of the USS Intrepid, the museum aircraft carrier stationed on the Hudson River.

Moon Knight gets Spider-Man busy spinning a giant web in front of a subsonic jet. It's got to be super strong for what Marc has planned. The next stage is to get Frenchie to fly that jet right into the web. This isn't something Frenchie exactly qualified to do but Moon Knight isn't taking no for an answer.

The jet hits the net but doesn't break through. Now, they just need to wait for Sandman to get close. Sandman gets on the flight deck of the carrier and is just about ready to deliver some payback on Moon Knight when Marc gives the signal to Frenchie to light 'er up. DuChamp lays on the the burners, spreading Sandman's individual sand particles all over the place. It'll take him some time to reform.

I guess that's a win.

The jet breaks through the web, forcing Frenchie to thread the thing between buildings. Eventually, Jean-Paul has to eject from his second aircraft this night. He lands in Queens where he meets up with the same cabbie yet again.

Peter Parker spends the rest of the night getting sand out of his... everything. Man, there would be bits of sand everywhere. Moon Knight gets to spend HIS night with a beautiful woman.

Sandman puts himself back together on a dirty beach. He looks in a nearby window and sees a real father holding a real daughter. It's rough being a super-villain made of sand.

The next night, Moon Knight is just out doing his rounds when he comes across a graffiti artist. He'd love to beat the hell out of this poor kid in the service of his god but, instead, he lets the kid go. Moon Knight's trying to turn over a new leaf when it comes to fighting crime. Even when he sees a drug dealer pushing product, he doesn't do anything that would be permanently damaging. Marc just outlines the moron in Moonarangs.

That complete, Moon Knight decides it's a lovely night for some graffiti of his own and spray paints "Police this way for dirtbag." I... I don't know what that actually means. It's much less compelling than "Who watches the Watchmen?"

It is with his new, more lenient attitude that Moon Knight finds himself being recruited by Steve Rogers into the Secret Avengers.

tta27.jpgTales to Astonish #27
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• Hank Pym invents a formula for shrinking and growing.

• He recalls that the science community rejected his idea as a waste of time.

• Now, his shrinking formula just needs to be tested on a living subject. Hank volunteers.

• Pym shrinks too fast and isn't able to reach the regrowth serum.

• He ends up outside and then in an ant hill.

• Hank gets caught in ant honey.

• Hank Pym is rescued by one ant and then threatened by another group of ants.

• He lights a fire to ward to other ants away.

• Pym encounters another hostile ant and defeats it with judo.

• Pym's friend ant helps him get up to the windowsill where his enlarging potion rests.

• Hank throws away the remaining shrinking and regrowth serums and tells the scientific community that he failed.

Before the rebirth of the super-hero, Marvel told tons of throwaway tales involving people from all walks of life getting involved in unique and unfortunate sci-fi situations. It was basically the Twilight Zone all the time. Hank Pym's first appearance seems to be one of those stories but, for some reason, they decided to make him into a super-hero later on. Nowhere in his first adventure does it even hint that he'll show up again.

But on to our short story. We begin with Henry Pym inventing a shrinking formula. In his test, he's been able to make a chair shrink before his eyes and then cause it to grow back to normal size with another formula. His experiments have finally yielded results!

Hank thinks back on how his ideas were rejected by the scientific community at large because they lacked practical applications. Pym denied them by going about his experiments anyway. After all, it was the only thing that interested him and he could think of a lot of real world situations where shrinking would be useful. For example: shipping items would be so much easier if they were shrinkable. You could also move huge armies around the world using just one jet... you'd just have to hope that jet didn't crash or you'd lose so many more troops.

Anyway, now that Hank has proven his shrinking formula works, he just needs to test it on a living thing. Instead of hitting the local Lab Rats 'R Us store, Hank decides to save some money and test his shrinking serum on himself. This is a classic scientific no-no because it always goes wrong. ALWAYS. No exceptions.

Hank sprinkles the formula on his arm and finds himself shrinking much more quickly than expected. He doesn't even have time to grab the regrowth serum located conveniently on his window ledge. Before he knows what he's doing, he compounds his problems by leaving the house.

Hank cries for help but his tiny voice is only heard by a nearby group of ants. They scurry on over to his location. Hank makes a run for it and decides to hide in the only area where he's sure to encounter even more ants: an ant hill. Yeah, suddenly, Hank Pym is looking like an idiot. When he shrunk his brain, he must have lost all of his intelligence.

The little moron runs around the ant tunnels for a while until he falls right into a hole. This drops him into a pool of honey which... ants have honey? When did this happen? Have I been reading the wrong text books? Must... reach... next... scene... without... thinking...

Covered in sticky, delicious ant honey, Hank Pym finds that he can't free himself and will eventually sink and die. Before he can do his next monumentally stupid move, one of the ants pulls him out of the honey and places him back on more solid ground. Hank realizes that this ant isn't here to hurt him but still doesn't trust the rest.

Surrounded by ants, Hank looks around to see how he can save himself. What he finds is sort of bizarre. Some ant dragged a match down into the ant hill and then planted it firmly in the ground with the head up. Hank throws a rock at the match and the entire chamber somehow bursts into flames. This holds off the attacking ants so that Hank is able to escape.

Pym climbs up... a rope (don't ask don't ask don't ask) until he finds another hostile ant. This ant quickly overcomes the tiny human but there's still hope. Hank Pym knows judo. No ant can stand up to his martial arts prowess! Pym kicks the ant off the cliff and continues out of the ant hill.

The scientist looks up at his windowsill. There's the regrowth formula. It's just up there, unreachable. Not only that but the ants in his yard REALLY want him dead. Another group of the monsters surrounds him.

With them, however, is the ant that saved his life earlier. How Henry is able to recognize his savior ant is unknown but there it is. Pym wonders if his friend will help him again. Pointing at his window ledge, Hank is able to get the ant to understand that he wants a trip up to his formula. The ant complies and allows the little man to ride it right up to the beaker of regrowth serum.

Hank Pym walks right into the beaker and covers himself in the antidote forumula. He quickly grows to his proper size. After this experience, Henry Pym realizes that shrinking has too many dangers and pours both his formulas down the drain. When he meets up with his scientific peers, he tells them that his shrink formula was a failure and that maybe it's time for him to do something more realistic with his brilliant but stupid brain.

For the rest of his life, the scientist never knowingly stepped on an ant hill because he didn't want to harm his helpful friend, the ant.

Somehow, this story sparked someone's interest and Stan Lee brought Hank back in Tales to Astonish #35, this time as a costumed crime-fighter. Hank may have destroyed his formulas, but he immediately regretted doing so and recreated them "just in case." After his horrific experience in the ant hill, you'd think the last thing Hank would want to do is mimic ants, but something about the experience made him that much more interested in the little creatures. Maybe he just needed to lord his powers over them and rule them like a god for this little adventure. I can buy that.

At any rate, Hank Pym would go on to adopt many costumed identities and became one of the founding Avengers. He's also one of the most messed up heroes in Marvel's roster and that's saying something. It can probably all be traced to this story where he decided to escape a group of ants by going into an ant hill. You can read his continuing adventures in the pages of Avengers Academy where he tries to teach the next generation of Avengers how to be better heroes.

Looks like I'm out of comics for now. See ya soon for another exciting edition of Super Reads!

Until that time: Excelsior!

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About the Author - SuperginraiX

SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.


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