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Super Reads 162

Written by SuperginraiX on Wednesday, October 19 2011 and posted in Features
Man by Day.All right folks, let's see what we have here.

Today, we check out Fear Itself: The Deep #4, Fear Itself: Hulk Vs. Dracula #2, Journey Into Mystery #628, Avengers Academy #19, New Mutants #31, and Blast to the Past for Marvel Spotlight #2.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

Super Reads 162

Not long now and we'll be looking at Fear Itself through the rear view mirror.  Not yet, though.  Not yet.

Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Heroic Age and beyond?  Check no further than this link right HERE.

One more time under the ocean!

Fear Itself: The Deep #4Fear Itself: The Deep #4
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Pencils: Lee Garbet

In this story:

• Namor and the Defenders prepare for the final battle against Nerkkod and his undersea army.

• The former Attuma brings his soldiers up on land and the battle begins.

• While there are some cool moments in this fight, our heroes don't get close to victory until everyone who has ever been attached to the name Defender and isn't otherwise occupied is summoned into the battle.

• With the army of Nerkkod busy, Namor takes the fight right to the Breaker of Oceans.

• The rest of the Defenders (the part of the team who has been around since the first issue of this mini-series), holds Nerkkod down while Loa uses her powers to destroy his hand.

• The hammer drops to the ground.  The villain is seriously wounded but summons the hammer back, reshapes his lost hand, and teleports away.

• So the main bad guy got away but the Defenders still did a whole lot of good today.  To celebrate, they pose for the camera.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

It's been a good day for the Defenders so far.  Last issue, they got rid of the threat of the Nameless One and his Undying Ones.  New Atlantis was freed from Nerkkod's rule.  Nerkkod's lieutenants, Aradnea, Tigershark, and Tyrak, were defeated and/or killed.  What they still have to do, however, is equally daunting.  Nerkkod's gotta go down.  Hell, that might be more difficult than what they've done.

To begin this issue, we show every member of this hastily assembled Defenders team go through a moment where they were out of their depths.  Dr. Strange recalls when he first cast a magic spell.  Norrin Radd (Silver Surfer) remembers when he stood before Galactus.  Lyra, the Savage She-Hulk, thinks back to her first meeting with the Hulk, her "father."  Loa flashes back to last issue when she killed for the first time.

Which leaves us with Namor the Sub-Mariner.  There are very few times when he's felt fear and now is one of them.  He remembers how this began; how he lost New Atlantis to Nerkkod and was forced into retreat.  It stings.  It's a wound that hasn't healed and it's making him doubt himself.  The Avenging Son is rattled and no one knows when he'll get back to his normal self.

Hopefully, it's soon because the rematch is coming soon.

Nerkkod, the Breaker of Oceans and runner-up in the Octoberfest drinking contest, has come up on shore.  The final battle won't be the retaking of Atlantis.  The former Attuma has a different goal.  It's time to conquer the surface world.  With him is an army of loyal underwater forces.  Battle plans have been moved up after the reconquest of New Atlantis and defeat of Nerkkod's generals by the Defenders but this army is more than ready for this battle.

So the real question is: are the Defenders ready?  They show up before Nerkkod's forces and Namor blusters about the opposition surrendering to the heroes.  This is a last chance sort of thing.  The Breaker of Oceans doesn't see the undersea monarch or his allies as a reasonable threat and the march to shore begins.

From here, it's page after page of fighting.  As usualy, I won't choreograph the battle scenes but there are some cool bits.  Lyra delivers up a Fastball Special with Loa who uses her ability to swim through solid matter to incapacitate the underwater crawler-tank-thing.  Silver Surfer ruins a perfectly good sneak attack on Nerkkod by ANNOUNCING HIMSELF.

Besides that and a few other cool moments, the battle is still beyond our tiny team of Defenders.  The army is overwhelming them and Nerkkod is a force and a half to be reckoned with.  Most Worthies are.

The save comes when reinforcements arrive.  Dr. Strange recast the summoning spell he used in the first issue while the team was in New Atlantis.  This version was even stronger than the first one so it got a whole lot better results.  Anyone who was a Defender or a Secret Defender can potentially be part of this second wave.  We get guys like Daimon Hellstrom, Stingray, Moon Knight, Cloak, Dagger, Blazing Skull, Black Panther, Gargoyle, Hellcat, Cloud, and Devil Slayer.  It's not a full line-up of former Defenders (some of them have other Fear Itself related things going on right now) but it's still a hell of a cavalry.

Nerkkod's army at first thinks this is just an illusion spell but when the second wave of Defenders hits them, they realize that they're fighting flesh and blood... and stone... and gaseous lifeform.  The point is, these are real people.

While we've got a fresh wave of heroes involved in this fight, the underwater army is still a larger force.  When they try to rally, Dr. Strange casts a spell that makes their water masks blacken.  Confusion, blindness, etc.  It's a time-limited spell but it gives everyone a chance to even the odds.  It also gives Namor an opening on the big man himself.

Can I borrow your trident for a minute?

In one moment, Namor gets his mojo back.  That doesn't mean that Nerkkod just falls over and dies, of course.  Attuma is still Worthy'd up and that makes him nigh unbeatable.  Fortunately, Namor doesn't go down easily and just keeps on fighting until his trident is buried inside the Breaker of Oceans.

The rest of the first wave Defenders charge the villain and hold him down long enough for Loa to swim her hand through Nerkkod's arm.  This breaks the hand off and the Worthy drops his hammer.  His arm is disintigrating as he forces the Defenders back.  Even so, Nerkkod is actually hurt.  The Defenders have him actually concerned even after he's summoned his hammer back to him and reformed his missing arm and hand.

Rather than risk full-on defeat, Nerkkod leaves this battle in favor of the ACTUAL final battle over in Fear Itself #7.

Without him here, the fight quickly goes out of his soldiers.  They end up surrendering.  Loa isn't happy that Nerkkod got away but Dr. Strange lists off all the things they were able to accomplish in this mini-series.  Namor follows up with the fact that they put some fear in the Breaker of Oceans.  All in all, they did very good.

Doctor Strange has been feeling pretty nostalgic for the old Defenders this entire mini-series.  With the major threat moving on, he still feels that the Defenders are going to have a place in this fight... or at least the aftermath.

And people, that means a Matt Fraction penned Defenders book with art by Terry Dodson is on the list of aftermath books.  If you liked this series or are just feeling that same bit of nostalgia for the Defenders... or maybe you love Fraction or the Dodsons, chances are you are going to pick up that book. ;)

Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #2Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #2
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Ryan Stegman

In this issue:

• Captain Luna survives her ships crash landing and returns to the combat area to get a visual on the battle.  Nul is breaking the Monster Attack Force a lot quicker than anticipated.

• Dracula agrees to work with Raizo Kodo.  Kodo begins studying all available data on the Hulk and the Forgiven are sent out to slow the Breaker of Worlds down.

• The Forgiven also evacuate civilians from the rampage area.

• When he interrupts Raizo's studying, the Krieger Legate gets his pinky broken.  This amuses Dracula.

• The Forgiven look like they aren't doing well against Nul.

• Raizo Kodo discovers that no military action will make any difference in this fight.  He leaves.

• Dracula prepares for a final charge against the Worthy.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

If you weren't here for the last issue, here's what you missed: Nul, the Breaker of Worlds, landed in Romania and began infringing on the rights of your native bloodsuckers.  Dracula realized that this was a war that he wouldn't be able to avoid and began testing the Worthy to find weaknesses.  So far that hasn't led to anything significant.  The issue closed with the Lord of the Vampires sending out an attack force of various monsters to slow the former Hulk down.

To watch the proceedings, Drac had a vampire film crew on the scene.  They were aboard a VTOL aircraft when Nul smashed them out of the sky.  It looks like all but the leader died in the attack (or the crash).  Captain Luna drags herself out of the wreckage.  After avoiding a hastily thrown monster, Luna gathers up some equipment and regains conact with the Vampire War Room.  From close range, she is able to get a visual on Nul for Dracula.

It looks like the Breaker of Worlds is having the time of his life, destroying monsters with ease.  In the War Room, Dracula and his command crew look for any sign of weakness and find none.  Janus (Dracula's son) tells Lord of the Vampires that the Monster Attack Force has been defeated in twenty-two minutes.  That is well ahead of schedule.

Janus pulls his dad aside and tells Dracula that maybe this is the time to work with Raizo Kodo's exiled sect.  Dracula isn't very happy to do this but this is a desperate times situation.

Raizo Kodo is one of Dracula's greatest rivals and leads a group of Vampires called the Forgiven.  As revealed in X-Men #11, Kodo's vampires live apart from humans and I don't believe they make meals out of people anymore.  Hence: "Forgiven."  Right now, none of that matters.  Raizo and his people are here to band together with their fellow vampires in order to stop a greater threat.

That'd be Nul.  FYI.

Raizo asks for all intel on the Hulk to be brought before him and he begins his own studying of the situation.

Drac isn't really all about healthy relationships.

While Raizo studies up on the Hulk and Hulk related subjects, he suggests that his Forgiven can help stall the Worthy for a while.  Dracula offers only the slightest protest before agreeing.  After all, everything he's thrown up against Nul has been killed or severely injured.  The Forgiven will be no loss to him.

The vampire team is deployed in Pasnic, Romania.  It seems like Nighteyes is the leader when Raizo isn't around so she splits the team up.  Ghost Blade, Quickshot, and Inka work on evacuating the village while Visigoth and Nighteyes take the fight right to Nul.  It doesn't take the former Hulk much time to arrive, bounding right past them into a nearby building.

The vampire evacuation crew is helping people out of the village (Inka uses her best vampire shout to help them along) when the local church goes up in flames.  Even though churches are sort of off-limits territories for the vampire crowd, Quickshot still rushes in to save the priest.  This hurts and leaves him drained but he gets the job done.

Which is more than I can say for Visigoth and Nighteyes.  Both of these two are merely playing a delaying game with the Breaker of Worlds but it's hardly effective.  In fact, Visigoth is bounced all over the place by Nul until he is eventually pounded into the church bell tower.  The tower falls apart and Visigoth is buried in its bits.

Meanwhile, Raizo Kodo is still studying all they know about the Hulk.  The Legate of Krieger Sect doesn't see the point of this since they've already pored over the same information.  Janus gives the Forgiven vampire more than the benefit of the doubt and his feelings aren't shared by the Legate.  After bothering Raizo a bit too much, the Legate finds that his pinky is bent at an odd angle after Kodo snaps it for interrupting his concentration.  The Legate tries to appeal to the Lord of the Vampires but Drac just smiles and tells his war leader to leave Raizo alone.

In Pasnic, the fight against Nul is going badly.  Visigoth is still down and Nighteyes doesn't last much longer than the bruiser.  Before the Worthy can crush the life out of her undead body, he is interrupted by Ghost Blade (the guy throwing stones).  With his abiltity to go intangible, Ghost Blade lasts about five seconds until Nul takes a deep breath and blows him away.

In the Vampire War Room, Dracula and his command team are making final preparations for the last push against the Breaker of Worlds.  The Legate advises that they wait until he can assemble a full army but time is against them.

While they argue about troops, Raizo is STILL looking at the available information on Hulk.  Mostly, he's staring at corkboard with pictures pinned to it.  His face is dripping sweat at this point.  Kodo tears a picture off of the board and gets up.

What he tells Dracula is exactly this: "We have been going about this all wrong.  This battle CAN'T be won by any force we can muster.  There is NO weapon, NO military maneuver, that can defeat the Hulk.  The Legate could gather his forces for a week or a year.  It wouldn't make any difference.  This is beyond OUR capabilities."

And then he leaves.

Dracula lets Raizo go.  They have more important things to deal with right now.  Drac tells the Legate to assemble the troops he has.  It's time to bring big fight to Nul.

In Pasnic, Nul lifts up his hammer in victory over the fallen form of Ghost Blade.

Journey Into Mystery #628Journey Into Mystery #628
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Whilce Portacio

In this issue:

• Final battle stuff is explained as Mephisto's messenger demon seeks out the Tongue of the Serpent on Dark Asgard.

• The Tongue has no time for this demon and dispatches it post haste.  Then, he reads the demon's note aloud. "Dísir."

• Saying that word out loud summons the Dísir to you and then they kill you.  Go ahead.  Try it.

• OK, maybe you have to be Asgardian.  I can't believe you said it out loud.  What if it would have worked?

• Göndul uses her magic to teleport the rest of Loki's infiltration party to Dark Asgard.

• The team makes their way to the Serpent's library, using guile, subterfuge, and the Destroyer to clear a path.

• Once there, they finally activate an alarm and are surrounded by the Serpent's minions.

• While the Dísir and Tyr hold off these guys, Leah and Loki a specific book.  Kid Loki pulls out the shadow of the Twilight Sword, which proves to be a pen.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

It's endgame time.  Things are moving apace and the chess pieces are set into position.  An ancient prophesy is about to be fulfilled.  That prophesy claims that the Odinson will kill the Serpent, walk nine paces, and then fall.  Something to that effect.  Thor is a very willing piece of this puzzle.  Dressed in his father's armor, he prepares to meet his fate.

The Serpent also knows about this prophesy and smiles, possibly because he knows the truth behind it.

Finally, Loki knows it.  If there's one guy who knows how to twist a word or two, it's the god of mischief.  He's also quite fond of his brother and believes that there is another way to stop the Serpent.  To that end, he has assembled a motley crew (not to be confused with Mötley Crüe) to put a spanner in the dark workings of the Serpent.  Here, then, is how that goes down.

Last issue was Mephisto-focused but it DID move this plot along in one significant way.  Mephisto sent a one-word message to the Serpent  via one of his finest messenger demons.  This demon makes its way to the floating fortress of Dark Asgard and announces its presence to the nearest guard.  Since it's from one of the Hells, the demon is brought before the Tongue of the Serpent.

Remembering his last visit to an underworld, the Tongue kills the demon without much of a second thought.  Unfolding the demon's note, the Tongue reads the one word missive.


Someday, I'll never need to say the Dísir's backstory every again and I MIGHT even get out of typing "í's" all over the place.  The Dísir were basically the Valkyries of Bor, Odin's father.  Bor found them munching on the dead and cursed them out of Asgard, never to return and never to feed on any Asgardian who was there or in Hel.  That basically meant that they went hungry until Asgard ended up in Broxton, Oklahoma.  The Dísir lost a pitched battle against the previous version of Loki and were forced into allegiance with the lord of lies.  Because of this, the cannibal handmaidens were used in some further plots by both Loki and Mephisto that led to their deaths.  This meant little except that they were now residents of Hell as well as servants of Mephisto for a limited period of time until Loki reclaimed them.

That's a long story.  An essential part of the Dísir curse is that the handmaidens will be summoned to kill you if you say the name "Dísir" aloud.  The Tongue did just that which means he has just been killed by four handmaidens (Brün, Kára, Göndul and Hlökk).  This has given the Dísir access to Dark Asgard.  The handmaidens swiftly kill the Tongue's retinue.

Once that bit is accomplished, Göndul the Fool casts a spell that lets in the rest of Loki's party.  This includes Leah, the advisor and servant of Hela, Tyr, Hela's general and former god of battle, and the Destroyer, whose occupant remains a mystery.

The Dísir has found that their curse holds true against these ancient Asgardians but that the dark forces of the Serpent can actually hurt them.  That is a rare thing.

Leah maps out their path and the Destroyer leads the way through some Frost Folk.  When Tyr tells Loki that they should just pit the Destroyer against the Serpent, the god of mischief says that the thing's power wouldn't be enough to make a difference in that battle.  The Serpent is too powerful to be faced head on, even for the Destroyer.  It makes you wonder what chances Thor actually has.

The next obstacle in their path is one lone Nazi Mech standing guard.  Kára takes this one out with some viciousness.  The team keeps on going until they run into a whole company of Nazi Mechs that have been held in reserve.

This time, it's Tyr's turn to step up.  Instead of leading with his fist, the former god of battle walks into the room like he owns the place and tells this assembly of Nazis that it's time for them to join the battle.  The Nazi Mech pilots don't even blink.  They just head on out to war.

This leads the party right to the library.  After the Dísir put some arrows in the monster librarians, the group has free run of the library.  It is at this point that Tyr trips an alarm.  That means that this position will be overrun shortly.

Loki sets the Dísir and Tyr to plan their defense while he and Leah take up a search for the item they're looking for.

They left the graphic novel section alone because, um... no knowledge there.

Kid Loki's magpie, Ikol, contains all of the hidden knowledge of the previous Loki but the location of their precious item.  That leaves it up to Leah who begins casting a spell that she is surprised that Loki doesn't already know.  While the spell is being weaved, The library is attacked by Frost Folk and other minions of the Serpent.  The Dísir and Tyr begin defending as best they can.  When it looks like the Dísir leader, Brün, is admiring Tyr too closely, Kára offers the dead god of battle to her boss if they ever get a chance to eat him.  Brün appreciates this.

Tyr runs back to the kids to tell them that time is running out.  It's around then that Leah finds the book they're looking for.  Tyr begs for the shadow of Twilight to be unsheathed, believing it to be a blade.  Loki chuckles.  The shadow of Twilight isn't a sword.  It's a pen.  It looks like Loki is about to do some writing.

Avengers Academy #19Avengers Academy #19
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Tom Raney

In this issue:

• The Infinite Mansion is growing out of Underspace and right up through the Microverse on a collision course with the regular sized universe, courtesy of Greithoth and Skirn.

• Hank Pym wakes up on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, certain that his kids are in trouble.

• The Avengers Academy students come up with a plan to detonate the Mansion before it can solidify on earth.  The plan involves the sacrifice of Finesse, Hazmat, and Mettle but it just might take out two of the Worthies in the process.

• Before Finesse can blow up the Infinite Mansion, Quicksilver takes her place at the controls and tells her to get off this crazy ship.

• Hank Pym rescues Hazmat and Mettle before the Mansion blows up.

• Any hope that the Infinite Mansion explosion would take out the Worthies is shot to hell when Greithoth and Skirn emerge from the explosion, unharmed.

• They don't stick around for another fight, though.  The couple has been summoned up to the final battle in Fear Itself #7.

• As things calm down, Veil yells at everyone and quits the team after a very, very, VERY stressful journey through hell.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

The students of Avengers Academy have had a terrible time during pretty much all of Fear Itself.  First, they were called into Washington D.C. to assist in evacuation efforts in the nation's capital.  Some of them were forced to kill the enemy.  Some did so for revenge after watching people die.  Either way, it was only the beginning of a very bad day.

After Washington D.C. had calmed down, the students returned to the Infinite Mansion for some downtime while the faculty continued the fight against Nazi Mechs and other Serpent threats.  They weren't in downtime very long before two of the Worthies, fresh from a fight against Giant-Man in Dubai, found their way to the Infinite Mansion, cut it off from the real world and terrorized the kids for an issue or two.

Last issue, Greithoth, the former Absorbing Man, found the Pym Particle generator and forced the Infinite Mansion to grow out of Underspace up to the regular universe.  When it stops this growth, the Infinite Mansion was destined to destroy whatever was existing where it materialized.  Since it's pretty large, it could destroy a city.

Earth isn't the first stop on the way up dimensions.  First up is the Microverse.  The Infinite Mansion terrifies the planets below them as it grows beyond this dimension but it otherwise causes no harm.  That's because the Mansion is out of sync with this dimension while it's growing.  That won't be the case when they solidify in their normal dimension.  Since Greithoth is forcing the issue, all they can do right now is brace themselves for the rest of the ride and try to come up with a plan before things get critical.

So, not much for the youthful super-heroes, right?

Skirn (Titania) and Greithoth (Absorbing Man) have done the damage they had hoped to cause.  Now, the two Worthies decide to hunt down the Avengers Academy children so that the former Absorbing Man can show their severed skulls to Hank Pym, next time they meet.

Back on earth, Hank Pym still hasn't regained consciousness since his last run-in with the Breaker of Wills.  Pym remains giant-sized and rests on the deck of the aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, in the Persian Gulf.  The rest of the Avengers Academy faculty are also aboard and while they're concerned for Hank's welfare, they're certain that he's fine and just taking a bit longer to heal.

When Hank DOES regain consciousness, he zips down to normal size swiftly and tells the others that there is a problem with the Infinite Mansion.  They need to jump into action again.  Now.

In the Infinite Mansion, Finesse has come up with a plan based on Hank Pym's contingency plans.  In the event that the Infinite Mansion was forcibly returned to the Earth Dimension, there was a self-destruct function built into it that would detonate the entire facility.  This was supposed to be activated by Jocasta who would just port her consciousness into another body when it went up.  Since Jo isn't here, that means whoever activates the self-destruct is on a one way trip to deadville.

That's right next to Clarksville but a whole lot more morbid.

That's only part of this suicide mission.  The other part is keeping the Worthy occupied long enough for them to be caught up in the explosion and killed as well.  That'll require another sacrifice.  The three injured students wake up in time to volunteer for this mission (well, Reptil does) but there is only one clear choice for it.

Finesse will operate the self-destruct mechanism.  She's the only one who knows the system so it's the logical thing to do.  As for distracting the Worthies, only one of them has even slowed them down.  It's going to have to be Hazmat.

Mettle doesn't take this well at all.  He's the boyfriend, after all.  Jenny agrees with Finesse's assessment, though.  It's got to be her.  When she lists off the reasons, Mettle realizes that it has to be both of them.  There's no changing their minds.  Veil tries to convince them to just send robots after the Worthies but that idea is quickly discounted.  It's going to have to be an actual sacrifice to take down these Breakers of Various Things.

Of course, Finesse's sacrifice doesn't go unrewarded, either.  Reptil approaches her and tells her that this kind of thing is selfless and heroic.  He gives her a kiss and she kisses him right back.

At first you're like "ewwww" and then you're like "I wonder what that'd be like..."

With a few last good-byes, the two groups separate.  Some of them are less willing to go along with this plan than others.  Striker basically has to pull Veil away.

Before they face Greithoth and Skirn, Mettle and Hazmat share a tender moment together and what passes for a kiss.  With that touching moment behind them, they find themselves facing the former Titania and Absorbing Man.  The battle, as they say, is joined.

Before anyone can selflessly sacrifice themselves, Giant-Man tears through the side of the building right in the middle of the Worthy fight.  In the control room, Quicksilver replaces Finesse, claiming that the self-destruct will take three seconds which is more than enough time for a speedster like him to get free.  Pietro tells the others to get clear just as Hank does the same with Hazmat and Mettle.

When all of the students are clear, Quicksilver detonates the Infinite Mansion before it has time to phase into the molecules of Chicago.  Man, that city can't catch a break.  First, it's destroyed in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, then it's overrun by a biological army in Thunderbolts, and now a giant mansion threatens it.  I advise no-one to move to this city.

If you thought for a second that this detonation would take out either of the Worthies, you are incorrect.  They both live to fight for at least one more day.  They've just scared an entire metropolitan area, though, so they've done their job for the Serpent.  Speaking of which, instead of re-engaging the heroes in combat, Skirn and Greithoth feel their dark All-Father calling them to the final battle in Fear Itself #7.  They teleport away , believing that they'll be able to come after Hank Pym and his students at any time in the future.

And that's the end of the fight for Avengers Academy.  Judging by Hank's twisted fingers, he might be on the sidelines during the big finale in Fear Itself #7.  Maybe some of the others show up over there.  I guess we'll see pretty soon.

As far as the kids go, Tigra tells them to get hotel rooms in the city and get a good night's rest.  She's very proud of how they've acted during this crisis.  Greer pays them the high honor of telling the students that they "acted like AVENGERS."

Well, if that's what Avengers have to act like, they can have it.  So says... Veil.  Maddy's had enough of this.  This whole event has been one emotionally traumatizing moment after another and she's not going to go through it anymore.  Tossing down her mask, Veil quits the Avengers Academy.

New Mutants #31New Mutants #31
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: David Lafuente

In this story:

• After being swallowed by Bonegrinder, Danielle Moonstar dreams the creature's dream about the last battle of Aesheim.

• When she wakes up, Moonstar finds herself inside the Draumar's stomach on a sinking island of meat.

• The rest of the New Mutants arrive in Hel and quickly get drawn into the conflict.

• During the fight, one of Hela's ravens tears off Cypher's "X" symbol and brings it to Danielle to prove that her teammates are close by.  This gives her the motivation to fight her way out of Bonegrinder's stomach.

• After Moonstar has burst out of the creature, the New Mutants gather together, making their way back Brightwing and a couple other flying horses.

• The Pegasi take them to Helheim where they will mount their defense of Hel with the help of Hela.

• Except that Hela already looks kinda dead.

The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.

Last issue ended with Danielle Moonstar getting eaten by one of the Draumar, Bonegrinder, while fighting for the dead of Hel.  You might be surprised to learn that she's not dead.  Yet.  What she IS is dreaming.  The dreams are not hers.

This is Bonegrinder's dream and it's actually a glimpse at the very, very, very, very distant past.  This is so far in the past that Bonegrinder doesn't even see himself as he WAS but how he is now.  At one time, Bonegrinder wasn't a monster but a warrior (he probably looked like any other Asgardian).  The Draumar were servants of the Serpent, right below the Worthy in order of importance.

The memory in question was the final day of Aesheim, the Serpent's realm that no longer exists because of this conflict.  It was the only time that Bonegrinder had seen fear in the eyes of the Fear Lord.  The Serpent's defeat was nigh.

In came the armies of Odin.  The Serpents warriors fell.  When Aesheim's fortress was breached, Bonegrinder and the rest of the Draumar fell to Odin himself.  Bonegrinder stayed alive long enough to witness the beginning of the confrontation between the Serpent and Odin but not long enough to see it's conclusion and he was already too far gone to make out any of the words that were said.

The last thing he remembers is Odin striking with the Odinsword and the world exploding.

Danielle Moonstar regains consciousness and is free from Bonegrinder's dream.  She finds herself floating on an island of meat and bone inside the Draumar's immense stomach.

It does make me thirsty for Mountain Dew.  Everything makes me thirsty for Mountain Dew.

The rest of the New Mutants have finally reached Hel after a road trip through Hell.  It took a deal with the devil to get to this place but it looks like they got off light.  All it cost them was a date with Mephisto.  Not all of them.  Magma's going to have to go on that date.  This bothers Sunspot but Amara seems less than concerned.  Soon, they'll have other things to fill up their day than worrying about a future date with the devil.

Hel is under attack and the dead are suffering for it.  Knowing that their missing teammate is probably right in the middle of this battle, the New Mutants run into the thick of things.

One of the dead warns them about the Draumar, claiming that these ancient dead dream creatures are sucking up their souls in this fight.  To put weight behind that claim, the New Mutants watch as a dead Asgardian warrior is sliced open and his soul is sucked right up into one of the Draumar.  Well then, that's different.

As the New Mutants start fighting the Draumar, Danielle tests the "walls" of her prison.  She dips a meaty skull into the stomach acid and brings it back up a dissolved mess.  It looks like she won't be swimming out of this place.  She'd better come up with a plan soon because her island is quickly beings digested.  In fact, a sudden "wave" takes out even more of thing.  Soon, she'll be taking a swim whether she likes it or not.

Outside, the New Mutants fight with the Draumar has revealed to the monsters that they're fighting the living.  They announce that the mutants will serve as a "Bloodgeld" to free them from Hel.  As Cypher explains what "Bloodgeld" means to Warlock (basically, their lives will be used to get them out of Hel... which is sort of self explanatory but there you go), his "X" badge is carried away by one of Hela's ravens.

The Raven brings it right into Bonegrinder's stomach where it hands the "X" over to Moonstar.  Believing her team to be right outside, Danielle takes a leap of faith, jumping off her island.  She slices her way out of Bonegrinder's body, the stomach acid apparently no longer an issue.

Moonstar comes up right out of the Draumar's meaty arm along with a lot of small intestines.  The New Mutants are shocked by her sudden appearance and can only watch as Danielle evades some of the closer Draumar.  As she gives instructions to her friends, Bonegrinder begins to pull himself back together.  The Draumar don't fall easily and they are even harder to keep down.

Danielle's plan is to retreat into Hela's fortress, Helheim, and confer with the ruler of Hel on how to best kill the Draumar completely dead.  Magma buys them some time by opening up a channel of lava between the New Mutants and the Draumar.  Danielle calls Brightwing, her flying horse, down and the pegasus shows up with more flying mounts.  Every New Mutant picks a flying horse and they make their way to Helheim.

But it looks like they're too late.  Hela was taken out of this fight early.  Her body is pierced through by a gigantic spike.

Marvel Spotlight on... Werewolf by Night #2Marvel Spotlight on... Werewolf by Night #2
Plot/ Script: Roy & Jeanie Thomas/ Gerry Conway
Artist: Mike Ploog

In this issue:

• Tony is swallowed up by the Golgothan.  I mean the mud golem.  When he gets out of the thing, it starts sucking out his essence.

• In Paris, the Detroit Steel Squad opens fire on Mokk/Grey Gargoyle, freeing Pepper Potts and Sasha Hammer.  Sasha tries to kill Rescue while everyone else is busy with the Worthy.

• With the help of the dwarves, Iron Man gets his mojo back but it still leaves him spent.

• Pepper gets away from Sasha and tries to take out Mokk.  That doesn't work out well for her as the Worthy tears off her helmet.

• The Detroit Steel Squad flies off, leaving Pepper with no allies against the former Grey Gargoyle.

• Tony turns down a delicious alcoholic beverage.

• Odin arrives to bless some Mighty weapons.  Tony is wearing his and needs to leap into a pool of molten Uru in order to get Mighty.

February 1972! Captain America #146, Avengers #96, Fantastic Four #119, Daredevil #84, and Amazing Spider-Man #105 were on the stands.  In Marvel Spotlight #2, we got the first appearance of Jack Russell.  The Werewolf by Night.

You might be noticing a theme in the early 1970's characters.  The Comic Code had loosened its grip on horror themes and the comic book companies started filling up their books with creatures that went bump in the night.  Characters like Man-Thing made the jump from the black and white magazines to the world of full color.  Vampires like Morbius debuted in Amazing Spider-Man.  Now, it was time for the werewolves to come out to play.

As always, Marvel added their own twist to the legend.

It begins on a dark night in the alleyways around Los Angeles.  The werewolf is already out to play, slowly walking up a street.  A mugger thinks this shadowy figure is easy prey but when he attacks, he quickly finds that the situation has reversed.

It doesn't take long an the assault is over.  The mugger is dead and our werewolf yells in victory.  This attracts the attention of a motorcycle policeman who assesses the scene quickly and opens fire on the retreating werewolf.  A bullet grazes the creature's upper arm as it bounds away.

When the werewolf finally eludes the policeman, it continues racing through Los Angeles looking for freedom.  In its mind, it dreams of forests and hillsides, but all it's getting is more city.

After running a bit longer, Jack Russell wakes up from this dream.  It's a recurring one and with every repetition, it grows more clear.  Noticing an open wound on his upper arm, Jack wonders if it actually WAS a dream.

This is a big day for Jack.  It's his eighteenth birthday and that means everything is about to change forever in ways that he never would have thought possible before this day.  We already know where it's going but let's pretend we're blissfully ignorant for a while longer.

His mother, Laura Russell, has been knocking on Jack's door, telling him that breakfast is ready.  It's a family tradition for everyone to eat a nice breakfast together to start the day.  Jack gets dressed for his big day, making sure to put on his best ascot for the occassion.  Now, let's meet the rest of the family unit.

We have Jack's younger sister, Lissa, and we also have their step-dad, Philip.  There is trouble in paradise because Philip's chaufeur, Grant, is always yelling and berating Laura.  In fact, Jack and Lissa walking right into one such treatment.  Their step-dad does nothing about this and even tells his wife to leave the situation alone.  Jack isn't happy with how his mom is treated by either Grant or Philip and makes his opinion known.  Laura tells her son that she and her husband are fine.  Jack agrees to let this go... for now.

The newly-minted eighteen year old spends the day in Malibu and then drives back home for his birthday party.  Thoughout the evening, Jack is lost in his own thoughts, completely glazing over a conversation he's having with his girlfriend, Terri.  When his mom calls him over to cut some cake, Jack is beyond glazing over and going into a full on attack.  He tears at his shirt, screams aloud, and runs into the night.  Up above, the moon is frickin' gigantic.  And full.

Russell walks past the garage and sees the chauffeur, Grant, doing some late night engine work on the car.  This is unusual in itself but Jack has his own issues to deal with and is more worried about avoiding the big man's attention.  He slips down by the beach, where the transformation begins in earnest.

As his body goes all lycanthropic, Jack still retains some of his consciousness but it's definitely clouded by the beast.  He recalls stories of wild dogs running around western LA and decides to track down the source (if it isn't HIMSELF).  Jack races to a broken down building, smashes through a window and walks right up to a snarling wolf.

All I know is right now, I'm Hungry Like the Wolf.

The werewolf and the wolf start fighting almost immediately.  The wolf definitely feels threatened by the werewolf.  It should.  The fight crashes through another window and then onto a cliff.  Jack flips the wolf over the edge and into the water below.  The werewolf howls in victory.

From then on, Jack's consciousness fades in and out as the werewolf runs Los Angeles.  His step-father finds him passed out on the beach the next morning.  When Lissa joins them, it's pretty easy to tell that they are worried about much more than Jack Russell.

After his step-son is safely inside and warmed up, Philip tells him about the fate of his wife.  Laura went out looking for Jack in the car.  The brakes failed.  She's in critical condition at the hospital.  Jack blames himself.  Philip lets him.

Ah... the seventies.  When doctors made housecalls.  Dr. Allen checks on Jack and then gives him something to sleep the day away.  Before Jack can completely lose consciousness, he overhears his step-dad on the phone with Grant.  There's something about meeting at the warehouse on South Street with money and then Jack drops into a deep sleep.

Russell wakes up at around three o'clock feeling guilty about wasting the day (even though it wasn't his choice).  He runs down to the local hospital to check on his mom but the attendant won't let him see her.  She's in critical and can't see visitors at this time.  Jack won't take no for an answer and sneaks past this guy.  He overhears some people talking about his mom's condition and gets her room location.  From there, it's easy to find Laura Russell.

Laura doesn't have much longer to live and she has a lot to unload on her son.  Here, then, is the secret history of the Werewolf by Night:

Naturally, it starts in Transylvania.  Laura met Baron Gregory Russoff when she was a student on vacation in Europe.  They fell in love, did the marriage thing, and then started having children.  At the time, Laura never suspected that Gregory was a werewolf.  He just locked himself in a tower of their castle for three nights out of the month to "study his books."  Most people wouldn't take that to automatically mean that their husband was a werewolf.  They'd probably just think they married an eccentric.

It wasn't until two years into their marriage when the truth came out.  It was an accident, the result of a storm.  Lightning broke into Gregory's tower and freed the werewolf that he had become.  The local village suffered for it when a carpenter was murdered by the beast.  The townsfolk came to the castle to enlist the help of the baron to catch the murderer but they were only able to find the smashed in room.  Gregory Russoff was thought to be just another victim of the creature.

Only when the villagers hunted down the werewolf and killed it with silver bullets did the truth come out.  Anyone who say Teen Wolf (or Teen Wolf Too) knows how this goes.  Lycanthropy is a heriditary thing in the Marvel Universe so even though Jack was never personally bitten by a werewolf, he's got a curse running through his veins.  Laura was hoping against hope that this wasn't a hereditary thing but it seems that the moment he turned eighteen, Jack became subject to the werewolf curse.

Before his mother breaths her last breath, she makes Jack promise not to hurt her second husband Philip.  He does this and then feels the effect of the full moon once more.  In his bestial form, the werewolf that was Jack Russell watches Laura die and knows exactly who to blame: Grant and Philip.  He remembers Grant working on the family car before Laura took it for a drive.  He remembers the phone call between Philip and Grant early this day.  What he completely forgets is his promise to his mother.

Crashing through the hospital window when a medical intern walks into the room, the Werewolf by Night heads on a mission of revenge.

Jack knows exactly where to find Grant and it's not at the family house.  Philip was supposed to meet Grant for some kind of payoff at a South Street warehouse.  The werewolf runs right to it and finds the chauffeur still waiting for Philip.

When the attack hit him, Grant believes he's been betrayed by Philip and that the goon attacking him is just some guy in a mask.  Even with Jack's increased strength, the chauffeur is a bruiser and quickly gets the advantage in this battle.  It's only after Grant realizes that he's actually fighting a werewolf that he is dragged right into the pit of fear.  Even though he was winning, Grant freaks out and makes a run for it.

The werewolf pursues and Jack's personality blanks what happens next.  What it looks like is a whole lot of killing but we later learn that Jack avoids fatally wounding anyone for his first two years as a werewolf so I'm guessing this is just a savage beat down of epic proportions.

And I kind of gave away the ending here, didn't I?  Grant is down and we don't hear from him for the rest of the issue.  Philip, on the other hand, has just arrived.  This is the man that Jack blames for the death of his mother and he's more than willing to kill Philip for that.

What saves his step-father is the choke in the man's voice when he calls out for Grant, announcing that his wife is dead.  It's this moment where no matter the responsibility Philip holds for Laura's death (and that question is left right up in the air), he still loved his wife.  With the choke in Philip's voice, what is left of Jack in the werewolf also remembers the recent promise to his mother.  He swore not to hurt his step-father and that's the way things are going to have to be.

Philip leaves after it is certain that Grant won't be here to collect the ten thousand dollars.  As he drives away, he hears the haunting howl of the Werewolf by Night.

Jack Russell's Spotlight appearances would last for the next two issues until his tale was broken off into a solo series.  Werewolf By Night would last 43 issues until 1977.  After that, Jack's appearances would be spotty but consistant all the way up to the present.  Russell was given the ability to change to werewolf form at will and maintained complete control unless the full moon was in the sky.  After some time like this, the werewolf began to increase its dominance over Jack and an attempt to cure his condition led to Dr. Michael Morbius taking an interest in the werewolf curse.  The two still remain allies.  One of Morbuis's recent appearances was in the Amazing Spider-Man where he retrieved a blood sample from Spidey that he claimed was going to help him cure Jack Russell of the werewolf condition.  Jack recently showed up in an X-Factor storyline where he becomes the caregiver to Rahne Sinclair's newborn child.  Even more recently, Jack and Morbius show up in the latest Legion of Monsters mini-series that just went on sale.  While the Werewolf by Night isn't exactly your traditional hero, he definitely has his moments.

That, dear Readers, is what we call an ending.  We're ALMOST at the final chapter of Fear Itself so stay tuned as I clear us a path.

Until next time:  Excelsior!

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About the Author - SuperginraiX

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


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