Hey look! It's another Super Reads!
Today, we check out Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #2, Shadowland: Moon Knight #2, Avengers #5, Secret Avengers #5, Avengers Academy #4, Heroic Age: One Month To Live #4, Uncanny X-Men #528, and Blast to the Past for Fantastic Four #36. Enjoy and spread the word!
After a little holiday break, we're back with more of everything.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Siege and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
We return to check on Colleen Wing,
Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #2
Writer: Jason Henderson
Artist: Ivan Rodriguez
In this issue:
• Wing and her new pals in the Nail rescue some slaves from a truck.
• Returning to Shadowland, Colleen gets some advice from Daredevil about keeping it cool.
• Second try freeing slaves from Touch of Heaven Massage Parlor. This time, more successful.
• Also more explodey.
• The guy behind all these women slaves is councilman Steven Shake, who was mentioned last issue and is Colleen's friend, Tig's new boss.
• Shake is taken down and in the process, everyone in his office is taken in as well.
• When Colleen finds out, she attempts a rescue but is caught in the act by her own team. She gets her neck cut open.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Last issue, Colleen Wing agreed to lead a team of female ninjas known as the Nail for the Hand. The Nail was an ancient sect of female assassins that broke up a while back. Their last leader was Colleen's mother, which is more information than Ms.Wing has known about her mom. Since the group is based on heredity, Colleen is now the new leader. She took the job to learn more about her mother.
The group is an eclectic collection of female assassins and Colleen introduces us to them while the do their thing. Their "thing," in this case, is rescuing some female slaves from the back of a semi truck on the Palisades Parkway. Don't worry, those girls get rescued. We just want to meet the crew that did it.
First on our list is Makro. This was the girl who had the whole Ms. Octopus thing going on last issue. Apparently, she's been stuck in a lab most of her life and enjoys the chance to cut loose. Yuki's next. She specializes in hypnotism and incapacitation. Moving right along, we've got Cherry Blossom. She's the Tokyo girl who refuses to speak english and does everything with a bounce in her step. Finally, there's Black Lotus. BL has actually made a few appearances before. While none of them have actually BEEN with Colleen (that I know about), Wing claims to have had run-ins with the female ninja. Black Lotus is the Hawkeye of the group except more lethal. She's constantly challenging Colleen's authority and killing people when she gets an opening.
And that's the team.
Keep in mind that while the Nail is made up of ninjas and assassins, Colleen is neither of those things. She's been trained as a samurai and lives by that code. It'll make working with the Nail fun and exciting because they don't share her worldview. I mean, it's there in the back of some panels and definitely comes up when she's dealing with Black Lotus. It's a three issue mini-series so this theme doesn't get thoroughly explored.
So, girls about to be sold into slavery saved and the Nail heads back to Shadowland. Colleens heads upstairs for a debriefing with Matt Murdock, Daredevil. She remarks that the place looks like it's been through a fight. This probably isn't the fight she participated in over in Shadowland #2 & 3. This is probably another fight. Like I've said before, Shadowland gets broken into a lot. A LOT. Not a lot of interest really happens in this conversation. Colleen whines about not picking her own team and DD answers that the team isn't picked-- these are people that have a hereditary right to be on the team. Matt's more concerned about Colleen's lingering doubts about working with the Hand. He tells her to let those doubts go and let him handle it. He asks her what the Nail's next mission is and Wing tells Murdock that she's going to try the massage parlor again.
Remember the massage parlor? Last issue, Colleen tried to free some more sex slaves with some help from the police and learned that the police were actually protecting this place. It was a humbling experience for her. This time: no police. It's just her team and a lot of @$ kicking. Colleen describes the teamwork employed by the Nail to be "clockwork" which is impressive since this is only their second mission together. This time, everything goes much better than Colleen's first attempt. The only thing that doesn't go off as planned is Black Lotus blowing the whole place up as they're leaving.
Which means that when the team gets back to Shadowland, Colleen has a shouting match with Black Lotus for not respecting her authority. White Tiger interrupts the argument to deliver good news: the driver of the semi from the start of the issue has identified the ringleader of the whole slave empire. It's none other than Councilman Steven Shake!
Does that surprise you? Are you trying to remember who Councilman Shake is? Let me remind you. Councilman Shake was mentioned last issue as a guy who was so tough on crime that he protected his own vending machines with a baseball bat. He recently employed Colleen's friend, Tig, as an office assistant. He looks a hell of a lot like Tony Stark. Wing wishes she had a moment to process this information but her team is ready to roll on this. Majority shouldn't rule but it looks like Colleen lets the Nail off on their third mission.
On the way to apprehend Shake, it's learned that the slave ring leader is aware of his own danger and is attempting to get the hell out of New York City. The Nail track his limo down regardless. Before they break into full action mode, Wing leaves a message for Tig to go home. Shake is going down and she's concerned anyone associated with him will take the fall as well.
And now: full on action mode. Colleen and Makro stop the limo only to find Shake isn't inside and that this was a decoy. After some angry looks from Makro, the driver tells them that Councilman Shake is in the van ahead of them. The chase continues.
Shake has no hope of escaping. Even with Black Lotus making up her own rules, the Nail does it's job very well. The Councilman is taken alive.
In his offices, Tig is just getting the message from Colleen when the place is swarmed by Hand ninja. Yep. Wing was right to worry.
At Shadowland, Colleen is unaware that her friend has been apprehended with the rest of Shake's staff. She's meeting with Daredevil about the whole ordeal and he's not about to offer up that information.
Instead, he shows her letters from the women being sold into slavery about how they yearned for freedom. It means Colleen has been doing the right thing which is just what she needs to hear right now. All those doubts that she's had about working with the Hand seem so... unreasonable. It's all good, yo.
That feeling will last about five seconds. Wing returns to the Nail section of Shadowland and finds Cherry Blossom using Tig's laptop to access information about Councilman Shake's illegal dealings. This is being done by checking Tig's generic Facebook profile, Trueface. Hopefully, Cherry doesn't find that Colleen and Tig are Trueface friends because... well, it's pretty likely that looking at Tig's profile would show some connection to Colleen. The samurai doesn't even think about that, though. She wants to know what happened to the person who owns this laptop.
Shadowland's dungeon facilities were cleaned out in Shadowland #3 which means there's plenty of room for more people now. Colleen heads on down to the prison level and looks around until she finds Tig. Tig, of course, doesn't know anything. She was on the job for like, an hour. That's not enough time to get involved in the big, corrupt stuff. Well, it IS but Tig's not the kind of person to do such a thing. Colleen can't just let her friend out, though. There are prison breaking schemes to make.
Early the next morning, Colleen starts slicing her way through Hand ninja guards. It's a good thing that these guys burst into smoke and dust at the slightest threat of death because that means no-one can raise an alarm. Wing makes her way into the prison facilities with ease and even opens up Tig's cell before things get all screwy. Before Colleen knows what's going on, her neck is slit open.
That's not Tig. That's not Tig at all. It's Black Lotus. It looks like the Nail has a new leader after their last one went and tried to do something heroic.
Shadowland: Moon Knight #2
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Penciler: Bong Dazo
In this story:
• A lot of stuff that never actually happened happens. Let your brain melt over the continuity inconsistancies!
• Moon Knight and Ghost Rider contribute to the super-hero intervention fight in Shadowland.
• DD almost kills MK but is stopped by Konshu who still has something to lord over the Beast.
• Konshu tells Marc about a weapon that can defeat the Beast of the Hand and offers it to Moon Knight IF Spector will start killing for his god again.
• Marc returns home and finds his fiance in big trouble after losing a fight with Shadow Knight. The fate of their unborn child is unrevealed but heavily hinted.
• Marc agrees to kill for Konshu again but then takes it back when Frenchie finds Shadow Knight's location.
• The two avatars of Konshu meet and start fighting until it's revealed that Shadow Knight is Marc's younger brother!
• No-one is surprised. Except Moon Knight for some reason.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
I don't know what to tell you. Maybe the fight we start this issue off with is actually a battle inside the mind of Marc Spector instead of an actual fight. That makes more sense, actually, because this issue shows Moon Knight and Ghost Rider directly involved in the fight in Shadowland #3. This didn't happen. MK remained below in the dungeons, getting his white hood on and only came up after the fight was over so he could spy on DD. Ghost Rider took off right after freeing everyone. They never fought alongside Luke Cage and Spider-Man.
Now, this really could be a dream sequence of some kind. That would make more sense but you've got to be wondering when he'd be dreaming it. This has to happen some time during or after Shadowland #3. Maybe time will tell us when he gets a chance to sleep. Anyway, in the fight that never happened, Moon Knight puts on a white cape and tries to join the battle. It's just that there are so many other heroes here that he keeps on losing his targets to someone else. Eventually, some Hand ninjas find their faces meeting his fists and the battle is on.
When the inevitable battle between himself and Daredevil goes down, Marc finds that he shares a lot in common with the leader of the Hand. There's a lot of rage boiling in the two, for example. MK is completely outmatched, of course. This is the Daredevil that fought Iron Fist AND Shang-Chi and caused the two to run away from the fight. Moon Knight may be Marvel's answer to Batman but he's not going to pull out his anti-Daredevil spray and defeat the possessed vigilante. Marc gets one good punch in before the battle goes psychic.
Daredevil is filling Moon Knight with pure evil when Konshu shows up to save his avatar. Whatever is stirring inside Daredevil recognizes the Egyptian god and lets Moon Knight go. Marc gets back on his feet and gets an image in his head of Daredevil enthroned and surrounded by a WHOLE lot of dead ninjas. Spector realizes that this isn't the same good ol' Daredevil and that leaving right now would be a good idea. He tells Ghost Rider who completely ignores him and then moves on to Iron Fist. Since Danny figured this out on his own in Shadowland, this is either a very loosely translated redepiction of Shadowland #3 or, as previously stated, it's a dream sequence. Since Moon Knight moves right on over to have a private chat with Konshu right after telling Iron Fist to withdraw, dream sequence is looking better and better as an explanation for why this doesn't fit in with anything from Shadowland.
Konshu explains that Matt Murdock is being controlled by the Beast of the Hand and tells Marc that his own powers aren't even close to matching the Beast's. Spector wonders why the Beast listened to Konshu which leads to the one advantage the Egyptian god has over the Beast. There's a weapon and it can actually kill the Beast.
What follows is a lengthy retelling of the history of this weapon which I'm pretty much going to skip. All you need to know is that the weapon was forged in ancient Egypt as a method for revenge against a corrupt pharoah and that it's glass made from the best sand Egypt had to offer. It was never used but eventually found it's way into being the top of Konshu's staff. The Egyptian god knows where the weapon is located and hints that his OTHER avatar, Shadow Knight, is also looking for it. Konshu would tell Marc where it is but that means Moon Knight's got to get back to the killing. Spector's not willing to do that and the conversation is over.
Marc finds his beaten up cab (he trashed it last issue and also in Shadowland #2) and drives home. He finds the place a wreck and Marlene beaten to a pulp. If you remember last issue at all, you'll remember that Shadow Knight paid the place a visit and starting beating up a pregnant lady. It was predictable and not at all cool. Marc calls 911 and hints that Marlene lost the baby during the beating. Nothing is said outright, though.
You want a flashback? We get a flashback! This takes place some time in Marc's past before he left the military. He's talking to his brother on the phone. Little Randall has just joined up for the military himself and is getting some pointers from his big brother. Spector's on leave right now and having some fun in the boxing ring. Who shows up? Daddy. Elias Spector is a rabbi and NOT happy with the lives his sons have chosen for themselves. It's obviously all Marc's fault and Elias yells at his son before turning and leaving. Then, the heart attack.
We leave our flashback to find Marc and Frenchie by Marlene's side at the hospital. She's in terrible shape but demands that Marc go home and get some rest. He's been there two days nonstop and she wants him to take care of himself. While Marc is gone, Frenchie will be there to mind the store.
Spector's not getting any sleep tonight. Vengeance, maybe, but not sleep. He talks to Konshu again but he's not interested in finding the crescent moon weapon so much as locating Konshu's other avatar. When the Egyptian god asks if Spector is willing to kill again, Marc agrees. His butler, Samuels, enters at this point and tells Marc that Shadow Knight has been found in Spanish Harlem. Spector takes back his previous statement. There's no killing for his god just yet.
Man, Shadow Knight has a thing for beating up women, doesn't he? Moon Knight finds him in the middle of doing more of that and rams his personal glider straight for the villainous avatar of Konshu. It makes a big explosion but both vigilantes survive the blast. Moon Knight just wants this win a whole lot more and you really can't blame him. If some d-bag had broken into your home and beaten your fiance within an inch of her life, chances are you'd be in the same frame of mind. Moon Knight just has the skills, training, and toys to act on those thoughts of vengeance.
During the fight, though, Marc gets an inkling that he knows his opponent. Shadow Knight gets up and tears the bandages off his face, confirming Moon Knight's suspicions. It's Randall Spector.
Yeah, we all figured that, right?
The Avengers #5
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
In this story:
• Time vomits up all over New York and the Avengers try to control the crazy.
• In the FUTURE, Tony Stark wakes up after losing access to his armor and has a chat with his future self 'bout stopping this time slushy from ever happening. This is actually more about telling Tony about what events are actually happening in his future than giving the Stark a plan to stop time from not making any more sense.
• Kang is also there and kind of explains how his crazy trip to the present came about and why he wasn't 100% honest. It's because he's insane. In the membrane.
• Time loops back around again.
• We replay events from Avengers #3 but the Avengers who took a trip to the future know how this plays out and speed things along.
• This time, the time machine takes them to the future BEFORE Kang brings anyone back. They have a talk with Ultron.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
While New Avengers has the Avengers being attacked by light demons from another dimension, Avengers has time going kerblooey all over New York. The end result is the same: Spider-Man is in WAY over his head. Cavemen attacking Dinosaurs who just got done eating Civil War soldiers. Stuff like that. And who is Thor trying to deal with? Galactus. It's just one of those days.
In a situation like this, it's hard to tell what difference you're supposed to be making. Who are the good guys? Who do you hit? Guys like Hawkeye don't really know what to do. Time just crapped all over New York City and nothing makes sense any more. Thor leaves the team with this mandate: help others. That's about all they can do.
In the FUTURE, Tony Stark wakes up to find his connection to his armor is severed. There's good reason for this. Ultron is a master of technology and would use Tony's suit against him. It's what Ultron does and no firewalls or other protection would have spared Iron Man. As old Tony says, "Ultron is smarter than us." Those are sobering words for any Tony Stark to hear.
There's not a whole lot of time so it's amazing how much they use talking about nothing in particular. Wolverine suggests they show Tony that they have Kang the Conqueror here. Some little bits start falling together in this story from this point on. Up until now, we've been led to believe that the bad guy in this story would be guys like Ulton, the Maestro, and the Next Avengers. That's what Kang had us believe when he showed up to face down the Avengers in Avengers #1. It's also what the limited bits of story we've seen of those three have shown. What's fun about this is that it all makes sense by the end of the story. We still don't trust Tony and the Hulk but we're starting to remember that we should and that believing anything Kang has said was never a good idea.
Hulk demands to know what game Kang was playing in the present when he told the Avengers that their kids were a big problem that needed to be dealt with. Kang just goes off on a rant about saying what needed to be said to get the Avengers here. The Conqueror also removes his helmet which has a certain spiritual significance to it which will also be revealed in time.
Anyway, this is just more time wasted when they need to start working on the problem at hand. To that end, old Tony shows our Tony his map of time. If you've read any Booster Gold or 52, you'll know where this idea has come from. This is basically a blueprint of what's going to happen in the Marvel Universe in the coming year or so and a bunch of hints toward long term plans. Shadowland is on there. The Chaos War shows up. Other fun bits are the return of Iron Lad (who is a young Kang the Conqueror, by the way), "Academy Traitor!," "Yesterday's X-Men," and the fact that "Steve's vision" takes place right before the Ultron War. Steve's vision is what Rogers saw in Captain America Reborn before returning to our timeline for good. It's images of War of the Worlds walkers that start killing things. Those walkers have shown up in other places too, notably in the Stark Disassembled arc of Invincible Iron Man so it speaks to a long-term story that hopefully we'll see play out.
Anyway, the map of the future brings up a lot of questions but doesn't really lay out any answers. You'd think that someone who lived through all of this would have less question marks on the paper and more "this is what happens" messages but that wouldn't make future storylines interesting, would it? No, it wouldn't. If that map showed us that Wolverine died during the Chaos War, where would the drama be? I mean, I know where the cheering would be but what about that drama?
None of this is helping solve the current crisis, though. It just maps out the problem. Kang kept bringing super-powered being from various times to this moment in order to fight Ultron. This is Kang so he's not the type to kill Ultron at a weak moment. This was about destroying the robot when it was the most difficult. It's proved impossible but Kang kept on trying again and again and again until time just snapped.
It's left the future version of the Avengers stuck in a time loop. They keep reliving the same day over again like Groundhog Day. While they talk, time starts to loop back around again.
In the present, Galactus eyebeams Thor out of the sky. In the FUTURE, old Tony points out on the map where young Tony has to go. Kang yells loudly that the plan will fail. Before things break up all together, old Tony reveals that he doesn't know who the Protector is. Noh-Varr wasn't around in his reality. Things are different from how they were. Interesting. Time breaks up and we see the Hulk's raging face. This is the same face we saw peaking out when the Avengers tried to look into the future. Another mystery is solved.
So what happens to our heroes when time folds in on themselves? They're sent back to Avengers #3 when they fought a time displaced Apocalypse and his Horsemen. The only ones who know they've already done this are the Avengers that went into the future. The rest think this is the first time through. It makes some conversations fun.
Iron Man assures Maria Hill that Apoc and company will drop back into the time stream in a few moments so the fight is pretty much useless. Maria doesn't understand what's going on but Tony assures her all will be explained when it's all sussed out. For now, Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and the Protector have to rebuild that time machine and return to the future to fix everything.
The second time rebuilding the time machine is a lot more quiet than the first. This doesn't go unnoticed. Wolverine and Captain America realize how freaked out they are but these are all manly men and they won't break down and cry. They just need some quiet time.
The time machine is activated once more but they don't go to the same point in time as before. That would be redundant. The future Tony Stark kept pointing at a specific moment on his time chart so it's a good bet that our heroes are heading to that point.
Noh makes sure that Tony has shut down his armor before they get to far. Iron Man is nervous as things start to go down. A voice starts demanding answers from out of an energy glow and Tony gives what answers he can. They aren't here for a fight. They're here for a favor.
Before them is Ultron at the height of his power.
Secret Avengers #5
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: David Aja, Michael Lark, & Stefano Gaudiano
In this story:
• Nick Fury runs from SHIELD five years ago and is captured by... Nick Fury.
• In the present, Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter question Nick Fury on the second Nick Fury running around with the Shadow Council.
• Nick relates the story about how one of his LMD's was given consciousness and stuff by his brother Jake more than a decade back.
• When Zodiac fell apart, the LMD Nick Fury was put in SHIELD custody but couldn't deal with the fact that he wasn't the real deal so he kept escaping.
• When he was on a walk about, the LMD Fury took down Hydra and AIM terror cells like a good little soldier.
• When confronted by the real Nick Fury, the LMD finally came to terms with being a fake and resigned itself to a fate of being dismantled.
• Nick thought the LMD was destroyed but it looks like that isn't the case.
• We cut back into the past to find another member of the Shadow Council, John Steele, freeing the LMD and giving him a name (Max). The LMD is replaced on death row by a non-sentient LMD.
• In the present, Max Fury is putting together information on the Secret Avengers for John Steele.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Let's start our comic five years in the past. Nick Fury is walking around some foreign city (probably Paris but I'm not going to stake my life on that) and minding his own business when he's suddenly attacked by all manner of SHIELD agents. We get a look inside his head and find out that he doesn't know why SHIELD is after him and would love to clear his name. All of this happens during a nice chase through the city. After the super-spy eludes capture, he thinks it safe enough to return to wherever he's calling home... which is where everything falls apart for him.
Nick Fury is taken out by Nick Fury! Dum-Dum is also there but it's another Fury who makes the capture.
So we know that this story is going to focus on who the Nick Fury is that's been appearing in the last four issues working for the Shadow Council. We already know it's not the REAL Nick Fury but it's seems a bit more complicated than just being an LMD. Let's find out the Secret Origin of the Fake Nick Fury! Woo!
In the present, Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter meet up with the real Nick Fury in order to uncover the myster of this doppleganger. Nick gets a good look at a picture of his evil counterpart but doesn't immediately have an explanation. A second look at the picture gives him a pretty good idea, though. Let's begin story time with Nicky.
About a decade ago, Nick's evil brother, Jake (AKA Scorpio), used the Zodiac Key to being a Nick Fury LMD to life in ways that aren't usually possible. This LMD Nick Fury was given sentience... life... and thought he was the real Nick Fury. He also wasn't a normal LMD to begin with. The newly sentient LMD Fury was a synthezoid like Vision. The Zodiac Key isn't actually something easy to explain so when it gave the LMD life, it broke the robot Fury. When the Defenders took the Zodiac down and Scorpio killed himself, the LMD couldn't accept the fact that he wasn't the real Nick Fury.
This began a typical pattern when the SHIELD science division tried to convince LMD Fury that he wasn't real while studying the synthetic man and this highly trained soldier and spy would inevitably escape. Again and again. This went on for about five years. The funny thing is when the LMD broke out, it did just what Nick Fury would do: he took down Hydra and AIM cells and saved the free world a couple times for good measure.
Eventually, someone thought it would be a good idea to have Nick Fury brought in to recapture his twin. That's what went down in Paris at the start of this issue. The thought was that the LMD would finally come to terms with not being the genuine article if confronted by the real deal.
It looks like it stuck this time but the question of what to DO with the fake Fury is tragic. Unfortunately, the LMD knows too much to be allowed to live so plans are made to burn the synthetic man in cleansing fire. It even seems like the LMD Fury is resigned to his fate.
Nick Fury finishes up the story by telling Steve and Sharon that he was there when his sentient robot twin was incinerated. New evidences makes it look like someone pulled a switch somewhere along the line. Steve asks if Nick recognizes the Shadow Council uniform but Fury comes up blank on that one.
Steve is upset with Nick and the super-spy wonders what he did wrong. Well, it turns out some of Rogers' best friends are synthetic people and the super-soldier doesn't take kindly to Nick just killing someone because they don't classify as "real." Fury defends his actions by reminding the new Top Cop that the LMD Fury was full of WAY too many national secrets to be allowed to run free and there was little chance to keep the synthetic super-spy locked away. Steve realizes that's probably the reason the LMD was rescued from a fiery fate.
Sharon and Steve take off in the flying car as Nick Fury swears in a PC manner.
OK, let's move back five years again to see what happened. One guy in a Shadow Council costume breaks into the SHIELD Helicarrier and getting through any security like a pro. He reaches where LMD Fury is being stored and reactivates the synthetic man. Fury wakes up cranky. He doesn't seem to want to be rescued since they always catch him. The Shadow Council guy tells him this time will be different. They've put another synthetic Fury in his place to be burned up so no one will be looking for the sentient version. Nick recognizes his rescuer from World War II but we'll have to wait a page or two before this guy is revealed. It's not Aloysius Thorndrake. This is a field agent.
The Shadow Council member makes LMD Fury an offer: help him and his organization save the world. It's what Nick Fury does. Still, someone else is using the Nick Fury name so maybe the LMD should take a new name... like Max.
"Max Fury." That's kind of a pun.
One more time back to the present. At the Shadow Council Headquarters, Max Fury is compiling all the information he can on Steve Rogers' Secret Avengers. He and his savior from the last flashback talk about how dangerous a secret team of Avengers could be to their plans even though... the Secret Avengers are a poorly kept secret. The savior is revealed to be John Steele, recently seen in Ed Brubaker's Marvel's Project.
The two talk about keeping an eye on the Secret Avengers and killing them if it comes to it.
Avengers Academy #4
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Mike McKone
In this story:
• We get the origin behind Mettle which is very sad and tragic and involves Norman Freaking Osborn tearing off his skin to reveal a red metal interior.
• Veil, Hazmat, and Mettle confront Norman Osborn in the Raft but they don't kill him.
• Instead, they let him live because Norman promises that he can cure their slight problems and excel them to greatness given time.
• With the power coming back on, Norman dismisses the students.
• Hank and Pietro arrive and question Norman but the former Green Goblin doesn't know where the kids went off to.
• They end up right in the middle of the prison break happening in Thunderbolts #147.
• After getting into some trouble, they're rescued by the Avengers Academy teaching staff.
• Luke Cage chews them out for being dumb@$es.
• The three don't admit that Hazmat caused the power outage or what happened in their conversation with Osborn.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
"The last good day."
That's what Mettle calls his last day wearing a human face. He's from Hawaii and loved to surf. Kenny was super mellow and he still has a lot of that going on. When another surfer smashed right into his face, things go black. When he wakes up, it's to find that the skin on his face has peeled away, revealing a red metal skull underneath. He's rushed to the continental states where "experts" can help him out.
Those experts are under Norman Osborn's control and they aren't trying to rebuild his damaged face. No, Norman has other plans. He wants that metal to cover the whole body. Needless to say, this isn't what Kenny wanted.
And now, we return to the Scared Straight crossover already in progress. The other title involved in the story, Thunderbolts, has already moved over to the Shadowland event which leaves Avengers Academy to finish things up. To catch you up if you missed the first two parts, Hazmat used her powers to create an EMP wave that cut off power to the Raft, the Maximum Security Federal Penitentiary used to hold every super-powered bad guy in the United States. With chaos happening around them, Veil, Hazmat, and Mettle were free to journey on down to Norman Osborn's cell and maybe get their kill on.
Veil wasn't here for a killing. She was just here to find out if Ozzy knew how to cure them. Mettle and Hazmat have other ideas but Norman isn't even a little scared of these three. He's actually proud of them for what they've done today. Even while Mettle holds him by the neck Norman is talking about how awesome these guys are. Hell, they're perfect just as they are but if they really need to be "cured" he can handle that, too.
They don't actually believe him because Norman isn't one of the super minds of the Marvel Universe. Hank Pym IS and there's not a cure coming in the near future for any of them. Ozzy tells them that he's not limited by morals which makes scientific achievement that much easier. Hell, all you've gotta do is swallow the dangerous poison that makes you into an insane monster and your scientific genius is guaranteed!
The last argument for what Norman is saying is that the former Top Cop is trying to get the kids to free him. That's not the case. In fact, it's far too late for that. The power is coming back on and security is going to make their way here sooner rather than later. Besides, Norman believes he's innocent of any crime and will walk out of here as soon as the next political regime change deems it necessary. For now, he'll wait and get his fill of prison food. When he gets out, the kids will get what they need.
Back in Thunderbolts Headquarters, Luke and the Juggernaut leave to try to control the riots that are sparking all over the prison. The Avengers Academy staff and students are left to cool their heels and wonder why three of their number took off during the black out. Tigra has a theory about where they'd have gone and Hank is on the same track. He shrinks down and has Quicksilver run him down to Norman Osborn's cell.
When the two get there, the students are already gone and Norman isn't able to provide them with any information on their whereabouts. It's clear that they were here because Mettle tore his cell door right off it's hinges. Even though Norman isn't attempting any kind of escape, Wasp leaves Pietro to guard the man. Norman makes it clear that this isn't necessary but I guess I wouldn't listen to the guy either.
Veil, Hazmat, and Mettle didn't kill Osborn and they still aren't sure why. Viel knows why SHE didn't do it. It's because that's not why she had gone down there in the first place. Hazmat and Mettle are a bit more conflicted. They don't have a lot of time to analyze their delicate teenage emotions, though. They've run right into that prison riot. Their teachers are fightings some prisoners right in front of them so they exit stage right to let the Avengers do their thing.
The next room over is quiet. So quiet, in fact, that Mettle freaks out when Juggernaut taps him on the shoulder.
Right. For once, something doesn't stop the Juggernaut. Since Kain is severely depowered (just like everytime he tries playing hero), it seems like everyone and their grandmother can stop him. Mettle can't so some laws of nature still hold true.
As soon as they're calmed down from Juggernaut's sudden appearance, the kids come face to face with Man-Thing. Oh. So that's where he got off to in Thunderbolts #147. I guess Jugs is actually after that guy here and some dangling plot threads are actually followed up on. Silly me. :)
Everything that knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing so this room is no longer safe for a bunch of scared teenagers. Juggernaut starts corralling the Man-Thing while the kids leave the room.
They don't exactly run into a safe zone. These riots are out of control and they're all this trio's fault. When Grizzly decides to take a little of his aggression out on Hazmat, she threatens to give the prisoner cancer. Grizzly backs off but there are a lot of less reasonable prisoners in the room. Eventually, the Avengers Academy Staff show up and start taking names.
Post battle shows that Tigra still has some anger issues though she blames it on fighting a rat-based enemy. Justice notices that Speedball is bleeding but doesn't realize it's because his teammate is cutting himself.
Most important, Luke Cage yells at the three Avengers Academy trainees for running off in the middle of an emergency. Hazmat tries to defend their actions by saying that Norman has done a hell of a lot of damage to them but Luke Cage just lists off all of Ozzy's personal offenses against the former Hero for Hire and no-one's list can compete. Spider-Man isn't in the room.
No-one admits to being the cause behind the power outage. They all stand firm on that point. For Mettle, it's the point he realizes that he's no longer the happy-go-lucky guy anymore. He's keeping secrets and wishing people dead. Hank takes them all at their word and while he tells them that there's some major punishment coming, he's proud that they didn't kill the former Green Goblin. It shows their character.
Again, he doesn't know the conversation that went on between Ozzy and the kids so maybe he wouldn't be saying all this if the truth were out there.
The Avengers Academy return home with Pym promising to return to fix the Raft's security and locate the cause of this power outage. Mettle remembers his last good day and decides that it's destroying him with the way things were. He's drowning and is reaching for any type of salvation.
Heroic Age: One Month To Live #4
Writer: John Ostrander
Penciler: Graham Nolan
In this story:
• Wolverine rescues Kelly from some stupid thugs who want to keep kids from playing on a playground. Nice territory, morons.
• Reed tells Dennis the bad news: his powers are accelerating his death.
• Abbey and Kelly show up at the Baxter Building and things don't go super well.
• Reed tracks down a cure to Cancer but they have to head to the Savage Land quickly to get it. Somehow, Kelly gets to come with.
• In the Savage Land, they meet up with Ka-Zar and Zabu and then with a bunch of mercenaries who are after the same thing they are.
• Kelly is injured during the fight and Dennis uses the life saving flower on her instead of himself.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Cancer is a hard, hard subject to cover because it is scary as hell. There's little in life that is more terrifying that cancer and the fact that it can happen to anyone in so many different ways makes it that much more poignant. The fact that Dennis Syke's cancer is super-powered and killing him quicker than normal doesn't remove the real world implications very much. Maybe Dennis's super powers do or the super-hero crowd he hangs around with but it's still a story of a man dealing with cancer and the world he's going to leave behind.
One person he's leaving behind is his adopted daughter/ niece, Kelly. Kelly has already lost one set of parents, her father to cancer and her mother to a car accident. She's been having trouble accepting her new parents but losing her only blood relative with such a small warning is really effecting her even though she's putting on the tough kid act.
Kelly's on a playground late at night and, apparently, that's a no-no. Did you know that gangsters claim playgrounds as their territory and keep little kids from playing on the equipment after dark? I'm not denying that it happens in real life but, seriously, it's like taking candy from babies. Not cool, thugs. Not cool at all.
Fortunately, Kelly's got a guardian X-Man looking out for her. Wolverine has been called in (by Spider-Man) to keep an eye of the Sykes family after Hammerhead and the Inner Demons tried killing them two issues back. He pops some claws and lays down some threats and the gang bangers run away peeing themselves. It's good to be Wolverine. Kelly keeps her tough kid act going but Wolverine still insists that she come with him to the Baxter Building.
Reed got some pretty bad news last issue while Dennis was busy saving the universe from Ego the Living Planet. Whenever Dennis uses his abilities, they suck out more of his life. That's the way this cancer works. Reed apologizes because, had he known earlier, Dennis would never have been selected for the space mission. That would have been too bad because Sykes really had fun saving all life everywhere. Still, it's given Dennis only a week left.
Abbey runs into the room and gives her husband a huge hug. Mr. Fantastic has already told her what's going on. When Dennis tries to apologize for wasting his time out in space, Abbey freaks on him and says she wanted some time with him before the end and he didn't leave her any. She runs out, upset. While this was in bad form, it's hard to blame her. She just got dropped the bad news that her husband had a month to live and now that time has been severely cut. You're probably allowed to vent from that even though it wastes even more precious time with your loved one.
Kelly's reaction is a bit more angry. She tells Mr. Fantastic that he's worthless for not being able to cure her uncle. Then, she storms out. Dennis tries to make up for Kelly's attitude by explaining her backstory to Reed but there's little reason. Richards isn't holding a grudge for the emotions of a grieving family. It's also not like Reed has given up hope. He's looking into a cure even now.
Kelly's storm off makes her nearly run right into the room occupied by Abbey and Sue Richards. Abbey feels pretty bad about her reaction earlier but Sue tells her that honest emotion is a good thing. She has a right to be upset because this is a legitimately crappy thing happening to someone she loves. It should remind her how precious life is. Death could come at any time to any of us and it's important to enjoy the time we have.
Wolverine sneaks up behind Kelly and gets her to stop eavesdropping. Once again, he's been sent to gather up the family of Dennis Sykes for an important announcement by Reed Richards.
This time it's not bad news. There's a flower that blooms only in the Savage Land called the Resurrection Lily that has the ability to heal Dennis of his cancer. The problem is it only blooms for a day and Dennis needs to be nearby when it's plucked or it's restorative powers will be useless. One has just bloomed so they need to get going.
Dennis is weak at this point and just wants to lie back and die but Abbey won't let him. He needs to fight with every last ounce of strength. With a wife like that, he has no choice but to get out of that bed, get hooked up to some stimulants, and take a trip to the Savage Land. He only agrees to go if Abbey accompanies him.
After laying on a mondo-guilt trip, Kelly is also invited along. Wolverine, who's leading this expedition, claims he'll be looking out for the munchkin.
The Savage Land is a wild and ferocious place and Dennis isn't the only one trying to get their hands on the Resurrection Lily. Timely Pharmaceuticals has also been made aware of this plant and has sent in a team to pick the Lily and bring it back in so that it can be used to make life saving drugs for humanity and profit. These are the bad guys but they don't have to be just yet. It's their actions later on that ensure that they are complete douche nozzles. Right now, they could just be a drug company trying to make some better medicine. They may not even realize that the curative properties of the Lily only last for a few moments after it's picked so bringing it to a lab would prove pretty useless.
Anyway, mercenary team is shooting it's way into the Savage Land to get the Resurrection Lily. Ka-Zar and Zabu watch this but don't interfere because there are a lot of mercs with some big guns.
Wolverine flies one of the FF's jets into the Savage Land and the Sykes exit the craft with the Avenger/ X-Man. They all meet up with Ka-Zar and Zabu. Ka-Zar tells them that they've got to get moving but it's too late. The Timely Pharmaceuticals mercenary team has found them and they aren't willing to just take the group alive. No, they decide to skip straight to the killing. It's a big old throwdown in the Savage Land!
This is pretty much Wolverine, Ka-Zar, and Zabu versus mercs. Dennis shouldn't be using his powers and his family aren't fighters. After a couple pages of fighting and some useless dialogue between Ka-Zar and the lead merc who seem to have history, Dennis finds that his daughter (or niece depending on your semantics in the matter) has been shot in the crossfire. Making matters worse? Abbey is being used as a hostage by one of the smarmier of Timely guys.
If there's a time to use the powers that will kill you, there's not a better one than to protect your family. Dennis uses his matter changing ability to freeze the mercs in their tracks. This apparently isn't a killing blow but the bad guys don't look like they'll be walking out of the Savage Land any time soon.
The Lily is plucked but Dennis doesn't use it on himself even though he's on the verge of passing out for the strain of using his abilities. No, Kelly needs it more and he uses his chance at a cure to save his daughter/ niece from gunshot wounds. Kelly hates this but this is what fathers do.
Kelly bursts into tears because it's her fault that Dennis is going to die from super-cancer now. In fact, it's Wolverine's fault for agreeing to take her and then not properly "looking after her." Anyway, Dennis blames neither of them. He tries to ease his daughter's guilt by saying he's happy that this is the way things are turning out. He's at peace. He saved his family.
Uncanny X-Men #528
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Whilce Portacio
In this story:
• Idie Okonkwo freezes and burns things in Nigeria.
• Storm and Hope show up to help her and run into some militia men who have other ideas.
• Bobby Drake hires Kate Kildare as the X-Men's public relations officer.
• Emma Frost worries that her secret about Sebastian Shaw will reveal itself.
• Namor deals with rebellious military personnel.
• Kitty Pryde finds out Emma's secret (the Shaw one).
• Dazzler and Northstar play super-hero in San Francisco.
• Hope fixes Idie's powers.
• She fights her way out of the church she's holed up in and sends the militia into full retreat.
• Kitty tells Emma to let her help the White Queen with the Sebastian Shaw issue.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
You may think that the only thing happening in Nigeria are really poor email scams but that's probably not really the case. Take, for example, Idie Okonkwo. She's one of those five lights that have appeared around the world with messed up powers. Her's are the ability to freeze and burn things depending on what color her eyes change. There's little control over her powers right now and they seem to cause her pain.
Because of that, she's come to her local church to pray and say a lot of Hail Mary's but she doesn't think anyone's listening upstairs.
If that weren't enough to deal with, there's an army of guerrillas that have rained down on her small village. After sending in a couple soldiers to kill the new mutant, the guerrillas have decided to maintain a safe distance and have their boss yell at Idie through a loudspeaker. Oh, they've also managed to kill everyone else in the village including Okonkwo's family.
To the rescue is Storm. Ororo is Queen of Wakanda and still a member in good standing to the X-Men. With her is Hope because the young mutant is the only one who's able to fix any problems with the five lights' mutant powers. While Storm has the power to take out all of these guerrillas, she instead scares the hell out of them and then enters the building, knowing full well that the militia will get over their fear and come back for more. These guys just killed the entire village and you can bet it's not the first one. Maybe Ororo should have made them a priority and had Hope enter to take care of mutant matters.
Regardless, the threat of the geurrillas will come back later. For now, Hope and Storm meet with Idie and try to get the girl to trust them.
Back over in Los Angeles, original X-Man, Bobby Drake finally gets something to do with himself. Iceman is wearing a suit and acting as a representative of the X-Men while looking to hire Kate Kildare as the X-Men's new Public Relations manager. This isn't the first time Kildare has done this kind of work before. She handled PR work for Matt Fraction's Order book that debuted after Civil War. That team fell apart because of all the secrets they kept from Kate (her words) so if she's going to do her job effectively, Kate'll need full disclosure.
Oh, so many secrets. Instead of blurting out that he's gay (oh the internet-- you want every X-Man to be gay), Bobby tells Kildare that Magneto's hanging out on Utopia. That's not gonna be an issue, right? Because we can start talking about X-Force if it is. Kate's eyes grow large and she makes sure that Bobby knows that overtime is part of the deal. There's probably going to be a lot of that.
Speaking of secrets, Emma Frost is keeping a big one. Namor the Sub-Mariner agreed to ally with the X-Men after Emma Frost killed Sebastian Shaw before his eyes in Uncanny X-Men Annual #2. The problem is Shaw never actually died. Emma just made Namor THINK she had killed the former Black King. Instead, Sebastian Shaw is being held in the prison complex deep within Utopia. If Namor figured out Sebastian was still among the living, things would go south quickly.
Frost is having nightmares about Sebastian Shaw (featuring such players as Madelyne Pryor, Fantomex, and Empath). She wakes up and needs to head down to the prison to check on Shaw. Maybe it's time to actually kill the Black King.
Under Utopia, Namor holds court. Today, some of his top military officials are advocating war against any Atlanteans who aren't living under Utopia. It's... stupid... and Namor makes sure that the soldier saying such moronic things, Subcommander Selachi, realizes this. When Selachi starts questioning Namor's commitment to the Atlanteans over the surface people, he gets tackled by the king.
Of course, this doesn't go over well with Selachi or his commander, Krang. They let Namor go after this chiding but they both are not loyal enough to support Namor when actual trouble comes for their king.
Back in Nigeria, Storm and Hope enter the church to talk with Idie. Okonkwo doesn't have control of her fire and ice powers and tells the X-Men to keep their distance. When Idie's powers rage out of control, Storm uses her own in an attempt to keep them under control. Hope keeps begging to be allowed close enough to touch Idie and fix things but it looks like the new mutant is in a suicidal state at the moment and just wants it over.
We return to Utopia where Emma is playing interpreter between Piotr Rasputin and Kitty Pryde. Kitty was recently returned to the X-Men after riding in a giant bullet for a couple months. The problem is that Shadowcat is stuck intangible and can't interact with the world in any way. Talking is out the window until Kitty can relearn how to become solid. Even regular telepathy has failed. Fortunately, Emma's not a "regular" telepath. The former White Queen is a lot more powerful than most telepaths so she can actually keep a conversation going between Colossus and Shadowcat.
The interaction isn't airtight. Emma's got other stuff on her mind and the conversation between the two isn't actually interesting to her. Because of this, Kitty picks up on Emma's problem with Sebastian Shaw. Shadowcat lets Frost know that she knows. Emma tells Piotr to hit the road while the to get some girl talk going.
In San Francisco, Northstar and Dazzler stop Nekra and Frenzy from destroying some art show at the Museum of Modern Art. I think this is just here to show that the X-Men are heroes again and the people of San Francisco love them. Otherwise, it's just Northstar and Dazzler getting an appearance.
Let's hit Africa again to resolve Idie's problem. The new mutant is going through the "I'm a monster" phase of discovering you're a mutant. Hope assures Okonkwo that they aren't terrible beasts (except for the mutants that, y'know, ARE monsters) and eventually gets in close enough to reach out and touch someone. That'd be Idie. There's a big flash of light and someone's powers are stabilized. Idie Okonkwo now has control over her fire and ice powers.
It's just in time for the guerrillas to regain their courage and start shouting back at the church. They still aren't ready to attack Storm but they'll get there in time. That's why Ororo leads Idie out of the building to face her attacks.
And it only totally looks like the X-Man is using the new kid as a human shield. Storm tries to use her big girl voice to keep the soldiers at bay but one of them gets up the gumption to start firing. Okonkwo uses her new abilities to burn the bullet in mid air. Next up, Idie destroys the geurrilla's vehicles. The militia takes off as fires burst all around them.
This is all bitter sweet because, again, the soldiers just killed everyone else in this small village and they're escaping. Sometimes it's hard to actually save the world. Storm welcomes Idie into the wonderful world of being a mutant. It's not all peaches and candy but I think Okonkwo knows that already.
Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde are having that private conversation on Utopia. Kitty isn't going to let Emma go ahead and kill Sebastian Shaw. She'll tell everyone about Frost's deception if it comes to that. Still, that's not what this talk is about. Kitty actually wants to help Emma make her Shaw problem go away.
Fantastic Four #36
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby
In this story:
• Reed and Sue announce their engagement to the ever lovin' blue eyed world.
• Sandman and Paste Pot Pete team up with the Wizard and Madame Medusa to form the Frightful Four!
• The current heroes of the Marvel Universe gather for an engagement party in the Baxter Building.
• When they leave, the Frightful Four strike and take down three of the Fantastic Four. Only Johnny is left because he's not there at the time.
• Alicia Masters fires of the Fantastic Four signal right before she's also captured. She's sent up in the air with the rest of the Four using an anti-grav device.
• The Human Torch arrives and takes down the Wizard and forces the villain to fly up and rescue his teammates.
• The rest of the Frightful Four steal the Fantastic Four's pogo jet and an aerial battle begins!
• When the ships land, a second battle goes more in the good guys' favor.
• The Wizard blows up his ship and the bad guys escape in the confusion.
March 1965! Along with Fantastic Four #36, Avengers #14, Amazing Spider-Man #22, X-Men #10, Journey Into Mystery #114, Tales of Suspense #63, and Sgt. Fury #16 hit the stands.
If you've noticed a pattern of me telling stories about villains that would eventually become heroes, good for you. The fun thing about the early days of Marvel Comics is that Stan Lee was experimenting with what separated the heroes from the villains. His heroes usually had feet of clay and were really only heroic because of one circumstance or another. Likewise, many of his villains were just that one step away from being good guys. It made the bad guys more sympathetic and sometimes the reader would end up hoping things turned out well for the bad guy. Heck, even Stan started wishing the best for some of his villains which is why some of them took a turn to the light side and became the second team of Avengers.
At the same time, you had holdover bad guys that had little redeemable characteristics. Some people are just supposed to be bad guys.
Madame Medusa is one of those villains that eventually ended up as a good guy but kept that massive chip on her shoulder that remains to this day. It makes her random switches to being a villain believable.
But we're not there just yet. First, the world needs to get over Reed and Sue being engaged. Last issue, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl finally made it official and started planning for a wedding. Since then, word has gotten out. The Fantastic Four is a very public super-hero team so the paparazzi are everywhere and eating up every bit of information they can get about the upcoming nuptials. Reed and Sue seems to be enjoying the attention as well.
Since this is the sixties, the press eventually leaves and they probably don't start going through the Fantastic Four's garbage on the way out. Before they're all the way out the door, a package is delivered to Reed and Sue to congratulate them on their happy engagement. It looks like a bomb and the press clear out even quicker. They aren't there to find out that it's actually an explosive burst of flower power. Not cool, whoever sent that gift. Not cool.
We'll leave the heroes to recover from that surprise and join Sandman and Paste Pot Pete as they wait for the rest of their party to arrive on a pier. The two get into a fight over who's in charge of who before the Wizard arrives and asserts his own authority over the others.
I probably don't need to explain why the Wizard is still alive to you because you never even know his last appearance left him in danger of floating away from earth courtesy of his anti-grav device. Well, I'll do it anyway! In Strange Tales #118, the Wizard schemed against the Human Torch and the rest of the Fantastic Four and even impersonated the flaming teenager for a while before Johnny got the better of the bad guy. Wizard tried making an escape by flying off into the atmosphere (using that anti-gravity device). The Human Torch's flame was starting to weaken because Storm could only use his powers for a certain amount of time way back when. When the Wizard's device wouldn't turn off, Johnny was just as helpless as the Wizard as he watched the villain fly off into the sky.
It would look pretty bleak for the Wizard unless you realize that there are about a million and one ways that someone could get a Silver Age character out of such a situation. We're just lucky he didn't meet up with aliens. No, this is pretty simple. The Sandman and Paste Pot Pete broke out of jail, stole a jet, and then found the Wizard floating helplessly into the upper atmosphere. As a reward, the Wizard declares himself leader of this motley crew. Their first team-up will be taking down the Fantastic Four! All they need is one more member and the Wizard takes off to find her.
All that was a flashback so the three meeting up now is AFTER the Wizard found their fourth. FIRST, though, he has to tell them a flashback about how he tracked down their fourth member to a small Mediterranean Isle where the lady was being tracked down by local police for being a nuisance. This is our first encounter with Madame Medusa and her hair of doom. There will be answers in ANOTHER Super Reads about WHY Medusa's hanging out all alone and harassing locals. For now, let's just go with the "memory loss."
Medusa isn't meeting with the Sandman and Paste Pot Pete but the Wizard assures the other two that he brought her back with him. They're going to meet her right now. The Wizard even plans on getting dressed up in some new duds for their new team.
We return to the Baxter Building basically so we remember who's book this is. Reed and Ben are opening up engagement presents. Sue is handling wedding plans. Johnny is learning how to make multicolored flames using chemical sprays.
Sandman and Paste Pot Pete watch the resulting fireworks set off by the Human Torch and are just angry. How
Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX
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