One more time around the bend!
Today, we check out Shadowland #2, Shadowland: Bullseye #1, Avengers Prime #2, Captain America #608, Hawkeye & Mockingbird #3, Vengeance of the Moon Knight #10, Secret Warriors #18, Young Allies #3, and Blast to the Past for Tales of Suspense #46. Enjoy and spread the word!
Yes, that's a lot of comics. We should get started!
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege? Check no further than this link right HERE.
Our first stop is a Japanese feudal castle.
Writer: Andy Diggle
Penciler: Billy Tan
In this issue:
• Marc Spector smashes up his own cab so that Hand ninjas take him prisoner.
• Kingpin tells Luke Cage and Danny Rand that Daredevil is dangerous and will have to be stopped. KINGPIN.
• Matt Murdock makes plans to fortify Shadowland and expand his sphere of influence.
• Kingpin summons Ghost Rider to stop the Hand.
• Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and friends stage a super-hero intervention for Daredevil.
• Ghost Rider frees the Hand prisoners.
• Daredevil overreacts and blames his super-hero friends for helping. He orders his ninjas to attack.
The previous story in this series was covered HERE.
Bullseye is dead, killed by Daredevil. The image has made the media run already and people that shouldn't know this are now in the know. Hell's Kitchen is ruled by Daredevil and his Hand ninja army. The police aren't welcome. Lawbreakers are unwelcome. It's Matt Murdock's way or...
Death? Life imprisonment? That's the question. You see, there are reports that people are disappearing. Not just criminals, mind you. Policemen. Where are they going? That's a mystery that needs to be solved. It's why Moon Knight has taken an interest in the goings on of Hell's Kitchen. In the guise of Jake Lockley, he's driven his taxi cab into Shadowland territory. Once there, he swallows some tools he'll need later and proceeds to smash up his ride.
It doesn't take long to attract the Hand. Spector is still holding the bat when he tells them to bring it.
Moon Knight isn't the only super-hero taking an interest in Daredevil's activities. Danny Rand and Luke Cage were present when their friend killed Bullseye. They're now hanging out in Danny Rand's soup kitchen where they're discussing matters. No-one misses Bullseye. The guy was scum. Still, does anything justify a vigilante taking a life? It's one of those lines that most super-hero vigilantes don't cross. Danny does his best devil's advocate but even he is disturbed by how things have gone south. Shadowland is more crime free than it's probably ever been but that hasn't improved attitudes. In fact, it's made things worse.
People are scared. It's making people edgy. Right in the soup kitchen, a fight breaks out. Luke tries to put a halt to it and one of the brawlers turns on him. The knife breaks on his steel hard skin and Cage cleans up this minor disturbance. Still, you can tell things are getting stressed.
It's not about to improve in this soup kitchen. The Kingpin shows up and the building clears. Luke Cage and Danny Rand are left with Wilson Fisk and his latest assistant, Lady Bullseye. Fisk claims to be out of the mob business and doing things legitimately these days but no-one believes him. What they do believe is that Shadowland isn't benefitting anyone. It might have worked as a temporary measure to regain control of a specific area of New York when the Dark Reign came to a close, but now it's hurting the community as much as it's hurting the crime scene.
Luke and Danny still don't know why the Kingpin has come to them. It's because Wilson Fisk is trying to enlist their help in taking Matt Murdock down.
Inside the Shadowland fortress, Daredevil is brooding... at least it looks like he is. Black Tarantula approaches his boss and tells him that killing Bullseye was a good move. Matt tells Tarantula that this isn't brooding. DD doesn't feel bad for killing the pyschotic assassin. In fact, Murdock doesn't feel anything. The discussion moves on to future plans. Shadowland needs more enforcers. The Hand are good but they die very easily. What Daredevil needs are super-powered followers.
Black Tarantula wonders... WHY. Hell's Kitchen is maintained. They don't really need any more people on the streets. Matt explains that his operation is about to expand and there will be resistance to that. This causes Tarantula's eyes to shoot open. He was under the impression that this was all finite. This was an extreme push for short term success before turning things back over to the actual authorities. Seems like that plan has changed. The Man Without Fear doesn't like his decisions questioned and chides his lieutenant for his questioning attitude. Now is the time to recruit new super-powered followers. If they don't want to join, they're the enemy.
It seems that Kingpin wasn't able to gain the support of Luke or Danny because the next time we see him he's going it alone. The next step in his plan is to cast a magic spell. To that end, he had Lady Bullseye steal a spell scroll from the Hand and prepared things on this end for a little hocus pocus. This spell will supposedly summon a beast that even the Hand, a ninja death cult, fear. You'd think that would be a bad idea but Fisk is certain that he'll be able to control it. When the incantation is finished, it takes a few moments for Vengeful Spirit to enter to room and ask Wilson Fisk what's up.
It's time for a super-hero intervention! Luke Cage and Iron Fist have gathered up their friends, Misty Knight, Shang-Chi, and Colleen Wing, to pay Daredevil a visit and tell him he just went too far. Unfortunately, DD's other lieutenant, White Tiger, isn't willing to let them in until they agree to join up with the Hand. When they get inside, they make sure Matt knows they weren't for serious before getting into the big boy talk.
What follows is a morality argument between Daredevil and some of his former allies. At this point, nothing the good guys say is going to convince the Lord of the Hand that what he's doing is a step or three over the line. It doesn't help that they're talking to a lawyer who has a way of making the truth up as he goes along. After a lengthy conversation where Luke and friends try to convince the Man Without Fear that he's the new big bad, Spider-Man shows up to tell Matt that:
1. His rooftop sentries aren't very good at their jobs.
2. Black Costumes lead to dark places. Sometimes symbiotes.
It's time to find out what the Hand is doing with all these cops and robbers they're capturing. Welcome to the Shadowland Dungeon! Marc Spector is in a cell right next to some members of the SWAT team. After hearing what the policemen have to say about their living conditions, Marc vomits up that little package he swallowed earlier. Lockpicks.
After opening the door to his cell, Spector tries to get a look around the place before breaking out the members of the law but the policemen are impatient and want let out NOW. Before that commotion can summon every Hand guard in the dungeon, we're treated to an even bigger incident. Ghost Rider's here. Yeah, if you didn't get my "subtle hints" from earlier, the Kingpin summoned GR to take out the Hand. That lead the Spirit of Vengeance to these cells to make a jailbreak all his own. The Hand start their defense of the dungeon but this is Ghost Rider. Pretty much everyone else in this comic is below his league.
The jailbreak doesn't go without notice on the upper levels. Only the details do. That means Daredevil is free to interpret events as he sees fit. He chooses the route of extreme paranoia instead of common sense and blames his "friends" for everything. They were obviously distracting him while others attempted to free the people below. The heroes try to talk some sense into their friend but it's obviously too late for that.
Matt leaps into the air and orders his Hand ninjas to take the heroes out. Alive, dead, either way.
Big fight scene!
Shadowland: Bullseye #1
Writer: John Layman
Penciler: Sean Chen
In this story:
• It's a funeral for Bullseye and everyone's crying.
• That's because most of them are forced to be here by a bunch of criminals out to make a statement. That includes Ben Urich and the Priest.
• One of the funeral goers attempts to escape and gets three throwing stars in his back. Denny Deaver, who can see dead people like Bullseye, tells Urich that the man is still alive.
• We flashback to the lead up to this scene, including the Hell Riders abducting Ben Urich and Denny agreeing to go along with everything.
• Toro steals Bullseye's body from the morgue and then evades detection from the Shroud. Urich drops a clue while no-one's looking.
• Daredevil himself picks up the clue and leads the Hand into battle to save some lives.
• Denny Deaver kills the man who was ninja starred earlier, grabs an Uzi, and probably goes out in a fizzle of glory.
How do you do a one-shot about someone who just died? Make it a funeral issue!
Bullseye was killed by Daredevil in the pages of Shadowland #1. Most people in the Marvel Universe would care less about that happening since Lester was a sociopath who killed for the hell of it. Somehow, our story begins with hearwarming funeral where a group of perfectly normal people are laying the body of the assassin to rest with tears in their eyes. Even the priest is losing his composure during this touching...
Wait a minute. Like I said, this is BULLSEYE. Sure, he was an Avenger for five minutes but that doesn't mean people would actually attend this funeral. Hell, who's funding this thing? Who are these people? What the heck is...
Ah. These people are forced to be here. The tears are because they're hostaged, not because they dearly miss good ol' Bullseye. One of the hostages finally has enough of this mockery and declares Bullseye the fink he is before making a run for it. The guy doesn't get far before getting three throwing stars in his back.
A bald guy with a white beard named J.D. 'Asphalt John' McCready tells the priest to continue and also informs the reporter on the scene, Ben Urich, that he'd do well to omit that little outburst. It's hard to continue with a man bleeding his life out on the grass but the ceremony staggers along.
A man taps Ben on the shoulder and tells him that he sees Bullseye again and that the assassin is telling him that the ninja starred man is still alive. This is Denny Deaver. He apparently sees dead people. Because he can see Lester, so can we. Bullseye is going on about how sloppy the man throwing those stars was. Denny tells Urich a version of this and also seems to very much want to help.
To understand how this all happened, we have to tell this story in random flashbacks that tell the story out of order because there is seriously no other way to tell a story except in stuttering bits that defy chronology. Our next scene shows Ben Urich being abducted from his home by some of these thugs so that he can report on the funeral of the century but it's far from the earliest moment in the story.
In fact, after seeing Ben get taken hostage, we skip back even further to when a biker gang learned that their hero, Bullseye, was dead. More than that, they learned that the mayor of New York City wasn't planning on wasting a penny on burying the assassin. Stuff like that isn't right. McCready makes a speech about how people can't do a dishonest day's work and how it's time to take back Hell's Kitchen from the Hand with a gesture of evil solidarity. It looks like every person in the bar feels the same way, even those that aren't part of the biker gang. In fact, the assassin, Toro Suzuki, a mob enforcer named Emmett Jax, and even Denny Deaver are all in this bar. They're all about giving Bullseye the funeral he deserves. Deaver actually steps up after Ghost Bullseye prompts him into it.
We move forward to the first meeting between Ben and Denny so it's after Urich was taken prisoner. Denny explains that he can see the dead and thinks that if he helps Bullseye, it'll all stop. McCready shouts at them to be silent but Urich explains that he needs to talk to these people in order to tell the story.
Which leads to him getting the backstory on the biker gang, the Hell Riders. In a nutshell, Bullseye was playing pool in the Riders' bar in the past when a rival biker gang tried to storm the place. The assassin made short work of the rival gang which gained him the loyalty of the Hell Riders 4-Ever. Ghost Bullseye tells Deaver that he just wanted to kill some people and flipped a coin to figure out which side he'd take. Denny clutches his head and tries to stop himself from hearing Lester's ghostly voice.
At their next stop, Emmett Jax enters a cathedral to get them a priest. He comes back with an unwilling one but the man of the cloth is all tied up and doesn't really have a choice in the matter. Emmett has another quick stop to make. Jax figures it'd be a good idea to invite his old boss and they stop by the Fisk building. While Emmett is upstairs talking to the big man, Urich relates that Jax fought Daredevil with Bullseye and thought the psycho was a good guy to have in a fight. When the enforcer comes back down, he tells everyone that his former boss has total amnesia on the subject and doesn't know who Jax or Bullseye is. Yeah, the Kingpin would say stuff like that.
The crazy bus hits the County Morgue next. Toro Suzuki takes Ben with him as he raids the place because he wants the reporter to see his sweet ninja moves. Urich explains to us that Toro and Bullseye once had the same hit assigned to both of them. Suzuki ran into some trouble with the Punisher that didn't prove fatal. Bullseye completed the hit. That's an interesting way to gain some loyalty. Toro breaks into the morgue and takes down the policemen inside with ease. The assassin carries out the body of Bullseye but the two pause outside the building until a patrolling hero, the Shroud, passes through the area. It looks like Suzuki is cool with taking down the police but not so sure about eliminating a vigilante.
Suzuki explains that the heroes are making sure to pass by the morgue now that the Hand is in town. The peaks Urich's interest and he makes sure to leave a little souvenir here for any hero to discover.
The rest is all busy work. Flowers are stolen. Funeral-goers are kidnapped. Traffic is diverted. It leads us right up to the present again so that we can finish this story in the next five pages.
McCready checks Urich's notes to make sure the reporter is doing his job. Turns out he isn't. The notebook is blank. In the voiceover, Urich tells us that his other notebook was left at the morgue... though that doesn't explain why he didn't just fill this one up with more notes. He's still doing his story, damn it! Anyway, Daredevil himself found the notebook and shows up with the might of the Hand for some quick hostage rescuing.
Urich's voiceover continues as he tells us how brutal the Hand go about their work. The Hell's Riders are defeated. Toro and Emmett are taken down by Daredevil. The criminals are rounded up and taken to the Shadowland dungeons. Murdock tells his Hand servants that the villains don't need to be handled nicely. Not once does he face Ben Urich. That leaves the publisher of Front Line talking to White Tiger instead. He notes that his good friend Denny Deaver isn't here anymore. It's time for some bad news.
White Tiger tells Urich that Deaver is criminally insane. He hears voices in his head, yes, but those voices pretty much tell him the same thing. Kill. Kill. Kill some more.
When that one funeral goer got three throwing stars in his back, Deaver expressed a desire to help but he wasn't intending on helping the wounded man. No, he was planning on helping Bullseye by killing the poor old guy. We cut back to just a few moments earlier when Deaver did just that as everyone else was distracted by the invading ninja army. You think someone would have caught this little guy killing a defenseless wounded man but not so much.
Denny then grabbed an uzi off an unconscious biker and left the area with Ghost Bullseye leading the way. White Tiger isn't too concerned. The police already have Deaver cornered just outside of Shadowland territory. It won't be long now before the crazy man is in custody.
A SWAT team has Denny surrounded but Ghost Bullseye is egging the insanity on. That little voice in Deaver's head is telling him to jump out and start firing. Nothing can possibly go wrong with this plan. We leave Denny to his fate as he leaves his cover. The vision of Bullseye is smirking.
Avengers Prime #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Alan Davis
In this story:
• Thor fights the Enchantress and her minions.
• Iron Man is captured by trolls.
• Steve Rogers enters a village of Dark Elves looking for help.
• After fighting off a group of elven warriors, Steve meets a woman that keeps looking like Wanda Maximoff.
• Tony Stark is brought to Fafnir.
• The Dark Elf girl heals Steve's wounds as the former Captain America tells her all about his feelings.
• Everyone learns that having Asgard on Earth messes things up for the rest of the Nine Realms.
• Thor finds out that the new ruler of the Nine Realms is Hela.
• Lightning hits the air. Tony tries to use it in a bid for freedom.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The Avengers Trinity of Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America have been accidentally thrown through a broken dimensional gate located in Heimdall's Watchtower. They've each arrived at differing locations in the Nine Realms and none of them knows if the others have survived. Thor finds himself in Vanaheim. Steve Rogers winds up in Svartalfheim. Iron Man dropped into a land filled with Trolls. The names of those realms don't matter too much so don't feel compelled to try and figure them out or remember them. Something very screwy is happening and the individual names of the realms isn't necessary.
Last issue ended with the Enchantress looming over Thor and we follow up on that right away. These two have been lovers a number of times which means you'd THINK Thor would value her just a little more than he does here. Eh. Exes, right? What are ya gonna do? Enchantress blames Thor for something big that went down in the Nine Realms in his absence but the god of thunder isn't willing to give her accusations any merit.
Which is ok by Amora. She's more interested in taking down the Odinson than talking it out. She casts a spell that surrounds Thor with monsters. Even though she's seen this guy in action, the Enchantress still thinks this has a chance at stopping the Avenger. Not so much. Thor starts breaking through the monsters and continues heading down towards an astonished villainess.
The Enchantress casts a few more spells to halt Thor's advance and decides to continue telling Thor just how messed up he's made things. Thor realizes that something is messed up and finally asks where they are. This IS Vanaheim, right? Amora just points at him accusingly and tells him that they are where he put them.
Wherever Tony Stark ended up is... Tony Stark. He's surrrounded by what are probably Trolls, which doesn't help me out because Trolls don't have a realm of their own. Stark hasn't had any time to get his armor up and running again and he's apparently never really looked into the political setting of Asgard because he thinks telling these Trolls that he's an ally to Lord Thor will give him some advantage. It totally doesn't. They don't immediately bash his head in, though, so it's not like they're that angry with Thor. He's just not a friend. Tony tries to pass himself off as a mage with a light trick but these aren't country trolls. They've been to the city and seen the bright lights. Metaphorically. Mostly, they just aren't in the mood to be tricked by the soft pink creature giving them a million dollar smile.
Iron Man takes being a prisoner well because even in these cases he's trying to maintain a level of control. Stark asks where he is and gets a few philosophical answers that don't help him out at all. Tony tries the Lord Thor card one last time and gets whacked in the back of the head. Turns out they DO hate the thunder god.
Steve Rogers finds himself roaming the land of Svartalfheim. You can tell because it's filled with Dark Elves. Last issue, he made the mistake of using the Lord Thor card, too, but he's a better fighter than Tony and was able to battle his way out of the mess he started. In so doing, he ended up well armed. Rogers walks into a Dark Elf village and tries to find out what's going on. He's attacked yet again.
These Dark Elves are well armed and not as drunk as the ones he fought last issue. One of their swords pierces the chain mail on his right shoulder and cuts into his flesh. Otherwise, the Dark Elves get the worst end of the deal and retreat. Steve tries again to enlist some help and finds a lady that looks a lot like Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, who's willing to lend him a hand. She offers to fix up his arm but Rogers isn't in a trusting mood at the moment and shrugs off the call for assistance. Her skin flashes back to blue and we see a pointed ear as she tells the former Captain America that not every Dark Elf is against him. Steve gives her a hopeful smile.
While Steve Rogers' situation looks like it's improving, Tony Stark's misery is just beginning. The Trolls bring him to a camp where an old man named Fafnir is sitting near a fire, surrounded by his Troll army. They present Iron Man to the man as a gift but Fafnir seems mostly uninterested until he learns that Stark is an ally of Thor. Oh, that Lord Thor card is nothin' but trouble. Fafnir alters his form to a gigantic dragon. He has history with the god of thunder, none of it good.
Back in Svartalfheim, Steve is... making friends and baring his soul.
Actually, the Dark Elf is healing his wounds and he's telling her about Wanda Maximoff and how he wants to make nice with Tony Stark but his man thoughts are getting in the way. It's hard to forget that the two faced down in the Civil War. I know the internet largely blames Tony for Steve's "death" but I'd bet good money that Rogers doesn't. We learn that the reason Steve is so free with information is because the Dark Elf has empathic powers. She's not using them for evil... per se... but it's quite possible Steve is under her spell.
The explanation for where our three heroes are is intercut in scenes between the three as their Nine Realms hosts fill them in on what's happened now that Asgard is on Earth. It turns out that with Asgard not where Asgard should BE... things are falling apart. The Nine Realms are overlapping. It's always dark. The rivers and lakes are blood. Good and evil are getting mixed together in a slurry. It's all Thor's fault for putting Asgard where it ought not be.
And if you're counting at home, that means Loki's plans to put Asgard back in place makes him out to be even more the hero. Odd, huh?
Things keep moving between scenes so I'll just give you the cliff notes of what's going on in each of them. Fafnir plans on killing Tony for being an ally of Thor as some small retribution for what Thor caused. The Enchantress is still throwing down accusations at Thor. Steve Rogers is making out with his Dark Elf healer. Don't tell Sharon. It'd get awkward. What happens in the Nine Realms stays in the Nine Realms, right?
Tony is feeling the end of a hot poker even as Thor learns that the big bad isn't even the Enchantress. There's another Asgardian diety who saw the gap left by the lack of Asgard and moved in to take over everything. It's Hela. She's turned the Nine Realms to her own will and is backed by an army of the dead.
If you've read up on Hela's recent problems in Thor's book or even during Siege, you might be killing yourself with the lack of continuity here. Hela is without a Hel which is why she worked with Loki to find a Hel of her own in Mephisto's realm. That she controls the remains of the Nine Realms here doesn't make any sense. She could make her Hel here and not have to do any bartering. What's more, this land would be free of the Dísir since the Valkyries of Bor are not permitted in the Nine Realms. My good internet friend, GHERU, wishes me to wait until the story concludes so that I'll see how it fits into the rich tapestry of Thor titles but I don't think I have to wait to announce that this isn't right. It contradicts Siege continuity. Depending on how the story ENDS, it could work with what's happening in Thor's book since this story happens RIGHT after Siege and before anything happening in the Heroic Age but it's things like Siege: Loki #1 and New Mutants #11 that make Hela's appearance here so glaringly out of place.
Which, y'know, could still work in the story. This could be NOT the real Hela. We've still got a number of issues left to figure out what's really going on and there could be more cliffhangers and reveals to come. RU, I will indeed wait and see. Now that I have it out of my system. There might be more complaining in the future, though. We'll see.
Thor wastes no time facing Hela in battle and the sky bursts forth with lightning.
It's this explosion that gets the attention of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. It curtails Rogers' make-out session but it also offers Stark a way out. He announces that the lightning is the arrival of Thor and they should stop torturing him and gets the hell out of here before Thor comes along and sees what they've done.
Captain America #608
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Butch Guice
In this story:
• Cap & Black Widow fight the new female Beetle.
• When she's defeated, they bring her to the Raft and put her in the care of Luke Cage.
• Under interrogation, she doesn't give up her boss but the Beetle does let them know that it's Bucky they're after and not Captain America.
• James Barnes' secret identity is revealed to the media as well as his time spent as the Winter Soldier.
• Falcon checks out of the hospital to catch up with James before he does something stupid.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Remember that bartender from two issues ago who drugged James Barnes? When he and the Black Widow go looking for her, they find out that she's the brand new Beetle. After that, she starts firing a bazooka at the heroes. It's gonna be one of those kind of battles. The ones with big explosions.
The new Beetle is doing this super-villain thing for the first time and is kind of power tripping and enjoying the hell out of the fun. She might be facing to battle hardened heroes but she has them at a disadvantage since Cap didn't bring any of his tricks of the trade. That means no shield and no gun. It's a good thing he brought along that costume because his civvies get lost pretty quickly. A quick look over at Black Widow shows that she's still got her stingers so at least one of these heroes is ready for action.
Also tripping up the fight are the innocent bystanders who don't know well enough to get out of the way. You know the type. These are the guys that bring their video cameras out to film horrible car accidents and then post the results on the internet or sell them to a news station. Right here, they just make themselves targets that Cap has to busy himself rescuing. While James is doing that little thing, Natasha drops the hammer on the Beetle. After a few stingers, Nat throws the new villain at Barnes who hits the woman with an uppercut.
This is where I make mention that hitting women is wrong unless they're dressed in full combat armor and trying to kill you. Then it's ok but you'll still probably face a lawsuit. Welcome to the real world.
Beetle isn't out of the game yet. She gets back to her feet, fires off a few Beetle Blasts TM, and takes to the skies. The blasts hit Natasha but leave Cap free to chase the super-villain, leap off an overturned car, and catch the new Beetle before she can speed out of sight. The two smash into a nearby building where Cap takes the Beetle out of the fight with a cyborg punch to her facemask.
You know where super-villains end up? The Raft. We cut to the next day as James and Natasha prepared to interrogate the Beetle who still doesn't have a proper name. I will name her Lisa. Before Cap and the Black Widow can question Lisa, they talk it out with Luke Cage, head of the Thunderbolts program and stationed at the Raft. It looks like he's in charge of this particular prisoner but that really shouldn't be his thing. Maybe he's just filling in. Either way, he leaves the two heroes to do their thing and returns to his job, meeting the Fixer on the way.
You may recall that the Fixer is working with Baron Zemo to take Bucky down a peg or two. It looks like he just got off sick leave and is a little out of sorts when he learns that the new Beetle has been captured.
Inside the interrogation room, Lisa doesn't seem to be all that cooperative. No matter what happens, she doesn't give them any information about who she's working for. What she does tell them is that she knows who Captain America is. That dude is totally Bucky, the WWII sidekick of the original Captain America who is supposed to be quite dead right now. When questioned further, she reveals that she DIDN'T recognize James until someone told her who he was but it's easy to figure that out if you see him without the mask and compare his looks to old time photos.
The Beetle also tells them that her boss isn't done by half. Things will get worse before they get any better. Lisa then starts laughing maniacally, but it seems very forced.
Before the questioning is finished, Fixer gives Zemo a quick call to update him on the goings on at the Raft. Zemo isn't as concerned as Norbert is. In fact, he doesn't care. Nothing the Beetle tells Captain America will give him any leverage for what the Baron has already unleashed.
On their way back to the mainland, James and Natasha discuss what this all means. They now know that the attacks against Barnes aren't aimed specifically at Captain America as much as they are Bucky. This also means that it's someone who KNOWS he's Bucky Barnes. That's a larger list than James would like it to be but, as we discussed last issue, James takes his mask off far too often for someone concerned about concealing his identity. If guys like Norman Osborn know who he is, word could leak all over the place.
Black Widow figures it out as they motorcycle through New York. It's Baron Zemo. All of the clues fit right into place. Iron Hand Hauptmann represents ancient Nazis just like Helmut's father. The original Beetle was a member of Zemo's Thunderbolts team. Just the fact that this is a targeting of Bucky Barnes is kind of a family tradition, isn't it? James brings up that the younger Zemo is supposed to be a good guy now but we all know how arrogant Baron Zemo is. It's no small step to see him pulling off something like this.
Talk of that will have to be tabled until later because James and Natasha just became surrounded by reporters. Someone leaked the identity of Captain America to the media and they're here to get the inside scoop. More damning is the fact that James Barnes used to be the Soviet super-agent, the Winter Soldier. Special training footage has also been given to the media to confirm that little nugget of information.
We cut to the news where a reporter is telling us all about how James Buchanan Barnes is the new Captain America and how he used to be the Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier part is the real problem since this means that Bucky spent some time killing Americans and friends of America. Now, he's wearing the symbol of America. Some people are going to be angry about that. Without all the facts, some people should be.
So the secret identity of the new Captain America is all out there for everyone to chew on. It'll probably bring some big bads knocking right on James' door in the future. For now, it's just sinking in how much this will affect him.
In the hospital room of Sam Wilson, the Falcon, he and Steve are watching the reports on the room television. Sam decides it's time to get out of his bed and find Captain America before James makes his situation worse.
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Filipe Andrade
In this story:
• Nomad takes down some racist homophobic gang, and is saved by Steve Rogers.
• Steve takes Rikki to a diner and tells her that he is her Captain America.
• Reunited and it feels so good!
The back story of this comic is pretty by the book. It's a story about a group of racist, homophobes who brutalized a gay couple but did it so methodically that they wouldn't have been traced unless they blabbed about their exploits in front of the open ears of Rikki Barnes, Nomad. One of the victims just died and that makes Nomad all the more vengeful because a murder has been committed. She's also learned that this hate crime was just a one-off before they did something even more heinous.
So not only is Nomad getting some payback for two victims who didn't deserve a beating, she's also trying to learn what large scale plans these guys have. The only problem with that is they aren't talking. The one guy that does start talking doesn't give her anything important. He knows that she's not the killing type so he'll just take his beating and get on with business. The gang member is also distracting her while his buddy sets up an excellent "shoot 'em in the back of the head" manuever.
This would be the ever lovin' end of Nomad if someone wasn't tracking her. This person saves Rikki from some unnecessary head ventilation before getting her attention. It's Steve Rogers, the former Captain America and America's current Top Cop!
Continuity is a funny thing. As I've mentioned before, this version of Rikki Barnes is from a second Heroes Reborn world created by Franklin Richards after the first one was destroyed. Or something. Any more information would require me to actually read Onslaught Reborn by Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld and that's not a sacrifice I'm willing to make at this time for you, my dear reader. The first Rikki Barnes which interacted with Steve Rogers is on Counter-Earth, the dispositioned world of Heroes Reborn that rotates on the other side of the sun from Marvel Earth. Regardless of that fact, Steve claims to be Rikki's Captain America.
Now, there are several explanations. The most continuity based one is that Steve just THINKS Rikki is from the same world he lived on during Heroes Reborn. The more likely one is that we're forgetting all about the Counter-Earth Bucky and pretending that the Onslaught Reborn world was the same as the Heroes Reborn one. Stuff Rikki says here and in Young Allies suggests that everything the first Rikki Barnes did happened to THIS version. It's all very confusing for those that pay attention to these things and I'll admit I never read all of Rikki's appearances so it's possible some of this was resolved.
I could be making a mountain out of a molehill. I've done that before and I'll do it again.
The revelation that Steve is HER Steve hits Rikki like a sack of bricks. Rikki has been confessing to Steve Rogers that when she met up with her brother's counterpart on this earth, bad things happened. Rogers died soon after she came to this world. Bad stuff after more bad stuff. Steve's tried to convince her that this is just a bunch of coincidences but Rikki may or may not believe him. When he drops the "I am your Captain America" bomb, she tells him to get out of his seat.
Steve tries to apologize for whatever he just did that was wrong but he has no need. Rikki just wants to give him the biggest hug ever. It's a pretty cool moment because it's showing that Nomad has some connection here. Maybe she doesn't have to live on the streets anymore, even!
Steve tells her a lot of this, too. It also looks like he wants her to give up being Nomad. We'll see how that goes... next issue.
Hawkeye & Mockingbird #3
Writer: Jim McCann
Penciler: David López
In this story:
• Mockingbird's mom is taken to the hospital in critical condition.
• Fights are had. Vengeance is decided upon.
• Mockingbird, Hawkeye, and Dominic Fortune move onto to infiltrate one of Crossfire's holdings.
• The team breaks in and starts arguing about tactics.
• Dominic and Hawkeye are mind controlled by the Death THROWs. Mock is held in place by a magic bullet.
• Dom and Clint shoot eachother with their respective weapons.
• The place blows up.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
There's so much blame to go around it isn't even funny. Last issue, Crossfire shot Susan Morse, Mockingbird's mother. Susan wouldn't have been in danger if Hawkeye hadn't brought her on one of his dates with Mockingbird and showing her that her daughter was still alive. At the same time, Bobbi should have tried to keep a mask on more often and maybe trusted her husband with the secret that her mother was still alive somewhere. There are a lot of trust issues going on here and only one or two can be explained away by Bobbi being an ex-spy. Still, the main culprit in all of this is the villain, Crossfire, who actually did the shooting. We'll place a lot of the blame on him and some more on Hawkeye while casting a sideways glance at Mockingbird for poorly-kept secrets while we walk out the door.
While Susan is wheeled out of the hotel room by the emergency teams, Hawkeye finds the building that Crossfire did the shooting from by firing an arrow on the same path, through the window. When the arrow his the room, Clint tells Twitchy to track Crossfire's location from that point. Bobbi is busy trying to see how her mother is doing. Fortunately for Susan, Crossfire missed a kill shot but she still remains in critical condition. That fact that Susan is still alive is the only thing keeping Clint in a little bit of our good favor even though I can completely understand Bobbi tearing his head off and throwing it in a gutter.
The problem with that scenario is that some crazy Man-Thing would just collect the pieces and then we'd have to deal with Hawkenstein for a year. Why let good body parts go to waste?
Clint is allowed to comfort Bobbie for a moment before Mockingbird gets all serious and starts looking for some payback. She is NOT happy with Clint and makes that very clear even as Barton follows her around like a puppy. This is one messed up relationship from the word "go," by the way.
Back at WCA headquarters, plans are put in place to track Crossfire's base using the information they've gleaned so far. Bobbi and Clint argue about who's fault it was that Mockingbird's mom got shot and then meet Dominic Fortune down in the armory. This is a new room for Hawkeye. He never really thought too hard about what the WCA has been doing with the weapons they've confiscated. Now, he knows. Mockingbird fills him in on the details and it's hard to really dispute her reasoning. If she's selling it to other friendly agencies (like the Howling Commandos PVC, for example) then it's only helping the good guys. Clint sucks in his misplaced sense of right and wrong and joins Dom and Mock on the mission.
The three take their helicopter right over to what they believe is Crossfire's base of operations. They do a great job taking out the guards using non-lethal weapons. Then it looks like Mockingbird is about to take things too far and slice one of the guards through. Hawkeye intervenes and hits the guard with a tranq dart. The two get into an argument about how killing is bad and people who do it are bad while another guard sneaks up and tries to shoot Clint. Dom takes care of that one with his handy gun and that draws him right into the argument.
These people need to learn to focus on the op and worry about their emotions later. Dominic and Hawkeye are at each other's throats until Mockingbird separates the two. It turns out Fortune is using non-lethal rounds so no-one is getting killed today.
Everyone heads on to the next chamber where they meet a whole squad of those DeathTHROW things we first saw last issue. Mock thinks they're listening devices but a quick call back to the support team reveals that they're much more than that even though no-one knows WHAT. The team learns very quickly that the DeathTHROWs are violent. It's another fight through wave after wave of robot menaces which means everyone gets to cut loose a little bit more. Including Clint who pulls out two short blades to get the job done. The display gains him the respect of Dominic Fortune so at least there's that.
As the trio continue on, Mockingbird gets a vision of the new Phantom Rider and tries to stop the two men from going further, knowing there's a trap coming. It's too late. It turns out that the last surprise of the DeathTHROWS is their ability to control minds. Hawkeye and Dom are stuck in their control. Mockingbird realizes that she can still move but isn't able to capitalize on that.
It's all according to Crossfire and Phantom Rider's plans. Mock fires off some guns but the bullets never reach their target. Phantom Rider stops in the air and then uses another magic whammy to knock Bobbi across the room. A ghost bullet hits Mockingbird but this bullet isn't meant to kill her. It just immobilizes her so she can watch helplessly while Hawk and Dom kill each other.
Bobbi also learns that Lincoln Slade is active inside Jamie Slade's body and that the two are apparently working together to kill Bobbi Morse. That Lincoln knows how to hold a grudge.
Now we just wait as Hawkeye and Dominic Fortune try not to shoot each other. Clint actually does fire first and his arrow lodges itself into Dom's chest close to right arm. Dom fires soon after and the two drop to the ground. The villains don't give Mockingbird a lot of time to mourn. Crossfire activates the self destruct device which starts the building exploding from the outside in. Crossfire and Phantom Rider leave before the first level detonates.
Inside, Hawkeye tries to get Mockingbird to break out of her paralyzed state. It doesn't look like that gets very far. Clint decides to tell Bobbi that he loves her before things go blammo.
Outside the building, the Phantom Rider and Crossfire do one of those movie-like walk aways with the building exploding in the background.
And everybody dies.
OK, I'm kidding. We'll find out in the next issue how the heroes survive certain death.
Vengeance of the Moon Knight #10
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
In this story:
• Moon Knight parachutes with the rest of the Secret Avengers to the Quincarrier.
• The Secret Avengers learn that a dude named Captain Barracuda is doing some piracy and killing hostages.
• The Secret Avengers to the frickin' rescue! Moon Knight wears black!
• After some controlled violence, Moon Knight and Valkyrie rescue the hostages.
• Captain Barracuda decides to blow the Horn of Proteus and summon some sea creatures to do his bidding.
• Moon Knight gets everyone to gather in one area and then cuts it free from the ship, getting it carried away by Valkyrie's horse.
• The Secret Avengers bond by walking away from the panel. They're too good for us.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
OK, first things first: oops. This issue should have been covered about a month ago. It's not that I didn't have the comic. I totally did. I just didn't have it written in my spreadsheet so I didn't know what week it had come out in. This is the danger of being a couple months behind the regular comics flow. You have a LOT of comics just sitting there waiting for you to walk through them.
Since Moon Knight appeared in this week's issue of Shadowland, I was pretty sure the last issue of Vengeance had to have already come out so I did some checking and realized my goof. It happens. I forgive me. I just don't know if I'll be able to live with me.
The interesting thing about the last issue of Vengeance is that it leads right into Moon Knights association with the Secret Avengers. I can't say for certain if this is the actual first Secret Avenger mission but it seems by their interactions that they are still adjusting to each other. Moon Knight in particular is finding it difficult to get used to a team setting and his teammates don't trust the routinely crazy guy.
We start with what looks like the beginning of a mission but it's actually the team getting paradropped into their flying headquarters which is called the Quincarrier inside this comic. I like that name so I'm going to use it a lot. You'd think there'd be an easier way to get on board their base of operations. We've seen smaller craft fly into it already and we're only a few months into the Heroic Age. This might actually have been one of those team bonding rituals. I think Valkyrie cheated by flying down on her pegasus.
Once on the Quincarrier, Sharon Carter gives them the lowdown on their actual mission. It looks like piracy mixed with terrorism. A group called the Black Mast and their leader, Captain Barracuda, have stolen an oil tanker. Not only that but every attempt to retake the ship has lead to one of the tanker's crewmembers being killed as a warning. Nine are dead so far. Seventeen are left alive.
So the Secret Avengers plan on retaking the tanker and making sure no-one else dies. It'll be a bit more complicated than landing on the tanker and incapacitating Black Mast. It seems Norman Osborn had a rummage sale after closing down Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and Captain Barracuda wound up with the Glove of Asteria. This gauntlet creates a blast of air moving near light speed. Anything in it's path is obliterated. Anything even NEAR it's path is still pretty much killed. They don't know what other surprises Barracuda might have in store but the Glove of Asteria may be all he needs.
Some time later, the Secret Avengers land on the tanker and start taking care of business. For the occasion, Moon Knight wears black so that he can move more stealthily.
It's a departure. Part of Spector's whole deal is that the enemy can see him coming but can't do a lick to stop him. Now that he's part of a team, though, he plays by a different rule book and this one is all about saving lives and taking down bad guys. He's a little pissed that his team player attitude isn't shared by Valkyrie who flies in on her flying white horse. That beast is a whole lot more visible than the Moon Knight usually is.
Things go well at first. While Barracuda is using the Glove of Asteria, it doesn't seem to be helping much and actually does more damage to his own men than to the Secret Avengers. The Avengers just work better as a team than the pirates which really should surprise no-one but is still nice to see this early in the game.
Things change when Captain Barracuda orders the death of the hostages in retaliation. That means the Avengers have to split up and deal with multiple tasks. War Machine tells Moon Knight to get below and save lives while the rest of the team mops up on deck. Marc Spector gets to work. While he makes his way below, Ant-Man stops Barracuda by shrinking down and grabbing his uvula. This makes the latest blast from the Glove of Asteria go wild and kill even more of Barracuda's crew. I guess it's ok if Ant-Man causes death through a bad guy.
Moon Knight make his way below deck and starts killing the men guarding the hostages. None of these guys is quick to kill the original crew though so either Barracuda's message didn't make it's way below or they're taking their sweet time. Moon Knight gets here before anyone needs to answer that question.
After knocking some heads together, Moon Knight draws his bow and arrow and waits for his move. The guy in front of him is holding a sword so the threat isn't immediate. The poor pirate/terrorist looks to scared to face down the hero so Marc just interprets a stray "glp" as enough to warrant action. He arrow flies right at the swordsman but it's not actually aimed at him. It splits on the sword and strikes the two guys surrounding the hostages with guns, making sure no-one will be firing any bullets into any hostages today.
Valkyrie and her pegasus crash through the wall to take the swordsman out of commission and the day is saved.
Except not really. Things are about to get a lot worse. Remember back in Fantastic Four #4 when Namor blew on the Horn of Proteus to summon Giganto the monster whale? You can read about it right HERE. The Horn was lost after that but it looks like Captain Barracuda has found it. He's not exactly sane so this seems the perfect moment for endgame tactics to him. Barracuda blows his Horn and summons all manner of sea creatures.
With these kind of beasts threatening them, it looks like lethal actions are back on the menu. The Secret Avengers try to turn back the waves of sea monsters but it's a losing battle and someone's going to have to think of something better. Since it's Moon Knight's book, it'll have to be him.
MK gathers up his team and the hostages and starts breaking off the section of ship from the rest of the vessel. Water starts bursting up quickly. He drops a line right through the chunk of metal, grabs it firmly and then firest another line up to Valkyrie's flying steed. The pegasus pulls them all into the air and away from the sea monsters. While the good guys get away, Captain Barracuda disappears beneath the waves.
So... NOW the day is saved. Moon Knight gets the voiceover as he realizes that the team did a good job and they DID it as a team. The Secret Avengers walk away from the last panel together.
Secret Warriors #18
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Alessandro Vitti
In this story:
• The UN Security Council learns that the Howling Commandos are mostly dead.
• A week and a half ago, the Howling Commandos and Fury's Black Caterpillar team destroyed Hydra's Hell's Heaven base in China.
• Two weeks ago, the Howling Commandos had their reunion with special guest star, Steve Rogers. They tell old war stories.
• A week and a half ago, the helicarrier was returning from it's mission destroying Hell's Heaven when it was attacked by a squadron of Hydra airships.
• One of the ships goes down. The other stays to back up the first.
• The Gorgon is seen leading the Hydra assault.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Last issue we learned that most of the Howling Commandos PMC were dead but we're still learning how that happened. To start off, let me tell you that I'm going to try my best to let you know when different events are happening because this story is told as out of order as possible with scenes from different times cut and pasted together instead of linear storytelling. This is one of the few times that it's done moderately well so I'll forgive it. Still, you might want to get out your chart to figure out when what is happening.
TODAY. The United Nations Security Council is meeting with Dum-Dum Dugan and Jasper Sitwell, the only two 100% alive Howling Commandos. The Security Council wasn't aware that the Howlers had been killed. Jasper tells them that it's probably because China took the fallen helicarriers and probably didn't want to tell them since they're military secrets and it didn't help the Chinese Ambassador's story of innocence if his nation was involved in stealing what the Howling Commandos had rightfully stolen.
When the Security Council asks if the carriers were down during the battle for Hell's Heaven, Sitwell tells them that it happened after that fight.
A WEEK AND A HALF AGO. We're right in the thick of the Howling Commandos' battle for Hell's Heaven, the secret Hydra base located in China. While Nick Fury isn't here, his team of Black Caterpillars lead by Alexander Pierce. The Black team is a lot more violent than our usual team so there's a lot of blood in the fight. While taking down the Hydra base is a priority, there are other things inside that NEED to be shut down. Gabe Jones and Dum-Dum join the Black Team and teleport down into the depths of this base. Once they're there, they find a breeding ground for the Hive where victims are infected by his parasites and become unwilling followers of Hydra.
This is where the team sets up their detonator before they port out. Once everyone's clear, Hell's Heaven is blown up.
TWO WEEKS AGO. The Howling Commando's reunion is in full swing as they recount the last time they teamed up with Captain America. It was one of those moments when the Commandos and Cap both found themselves recent prisoners of the Germans. None of them could speak German except Dino and he was knocked out and not present. The Nazi leader was shouting something at Captain America as the German soldiers had their guns aimed at the Americans.
After the Nazi commander is done shouting, he stands there waiting for Steve Rogers to respond and it becomes apparent that Captain America isn't fluent in German. So, he clears his throat and then says, "No. I don't like sauerkraut. Not one bit." With that, he decks the Nazi commander.
With that, the surviving Howling Commandos at the reunion laugh at the story. Sharon takes it one step further though when she finds out the story is true. She asks what happened next. The table goes silent before someone says that they killed the rest of the Nazis.
Nick Fury brings it back up tempo when he reminds everyone that this was the last mission they had with Captain America and that the super-soldier disappeared soon after that. He's happy that Captain America returned decades later because it seemed like a hole was missing in the roster of the Howling Commandos. He raises his glass and toasts "the one man" which is a call back to Captain America's speech last issue right before they stormed the beaches of Normandy.
A WEEK AND A HALF AGO. The mission to destroy Heaven's Hell is done and now everyone is packing up and going home until Nick Fury calls them to action again. Before he takes
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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