Today, we check out The Mighty Thor #7, Journey Into Mystery #630, Avengers Academy #20, New Mutants #32, The Incredible Hulk #1, and Blast to the Past for Hero for Hire #1. Enjoy and spread the word!
You thought we were done? Hahahahaha.
Looking to read up on everything from Secret Invasion to Fear Itself and beyond? Check no further than this link right HERE.
And now, the secret, secret history behind Odin and the Serpent.
The Mighty Thor #7
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Pasqual Ferry
In this story:
• At the death of aged Bor, Cul takes over as the new All-Father, telling his younger siblings that he will work with them in his ruling.
• It turns out that's not how it works. While Odin and his two younger brothers try to keep peace and be heroes, Cul and his Worthy spread fear throughout the Nine Worlds.
• The Serpent refuses his help so Odin goes to the World Tree, Yggdrasil, looking for an answer. It costs him his eye.
• And in the future, it will cost him his firstborn son.
• Odin assaults Aesheim, killing every warrior that the Serpent sends against him.
• Cul sends his Worthy away for a future battle. FAR future
• Odin storms Cul's fortess and imprisons his older brother under the ocean.
• That done, he burns Aesheim, kills all of the people, and salts the earth. It will become Midgard and no god will live there.
• All of this was done to delay the prophesy that would cost Odin his unborn son.
From what we know of Bor, the father of Odin was lost in a battle with Frost Giants when a sorceror (a time traveling Loki in disguise) made Bor one with the snow. Before he completely disappeared into snow, Bor begged Odin (who was fighting Frost Giants with his father), to find a magician to free him from this fate. Instead, Odin forgot all about Bor and ruled Asgard in his father's stead, never even attempting to return his father from the snow prison.
Instead, it was Loki who brought back the former ruler of Asgard. In Thor #600, Bor returned but was still ensorcelled by Loki to see Thor as a demon. Since Thor was rocking the Odinforce at the time, Bor took this to mean that the demon had killed his son. Bor wasn't much of a thinker. Grandfather battled grandson and when the dust, smoke, and Odinforce cleared, Bor was finally dead at the hands of Thor. This is some of what we know about Bor, the father of Odin and grandfather of Thor.
So naturally, a Matt Fraction has to countermand all of that and tell a contradictory story in its place.
Instead of dying in Thor #600 in a climactic battle with Thor, Bor died of apparent old age at the dawn of time. Justify that how you will. I understand that the history of the Asgardians has been altered and realtered over time but I wish Fraction wasn't contradicting stories that happened only two and a half years ago. Or maybe instead of rearranging the past, he could work within what we know? Maybe build something new without tearing everything else apart? Just a suggestion, of course.
Anyway, Bor is dead and in his place, the eldest son, Cul will rule. Bor's other sons, Odin, Vili, and Vi are all here and everyone's looking particularly young. Replacing an All-Father is unexplored business but Cul claims that he'll do it with the help of his brothers. They'll work it out together. But first, he "should make [his] presence felt" in the Worlds.
We see what that means in the next scene. We see Odin, Vili, and Vi facing off in heroic fashion against Sleipnir. This is technically impossible. Why? Because Sleipnir is the eight-legged horse that Loki gave birth to. Yes. Loki gave birth to an eight-legged horse. Wanna make something of it?
In fact, Sleipnir is Odin's future steed... probably to rub it in Loki's face that he gave birth to the thing (yes, I know that the actual myth says that Loki gifted Sleipnir to Odin but my version is more hilarious). This version of Sleipnir is a lot more monsterous than it's appeared in the past but it's the same color scheme and given the same name.
Young Odin is dressed up in a suit that calls forward to his son's usual gear and he's also got a lot of youthful arrogance (as opposed to the old man cranky arrogance that he displays nowadays). Leaping on top of Sleipnir's head, Odin starts cutting out eyeballs. Before he's done slaying the eight-legged horse, the future All-Father gets blasted by a bolt of energy and falls from the beast.
Cul has arrived with his retinue of court officials. Things have not turned out like Cul had said. Odin, Vili, and Vi aren't members of Cul's court. They've been pushed aside while Cul runs a reign of terror. To prove his disdain for Odin, he uses his brother as a stepping stool.
It's not only Odin who gets treated like crap. Cul doesn't think much of the people on the planet. The humans are just used as fuel for his fear powers. Sleipnir is used to spread terror. The Worthy run around in Sleipnir's wake, "stilling the PANIC the horse inspires."
Odin offers to help Cul by having he and his brothers join the court council and maybe tempering his wild ways. The Serpent will have none of it. He tells his brothers to go home and leave the ruling for him and the Worthy.
Of course, Odin won't leave this to Cul. He's the guy who actually gives a damn about the mortals and can't stand his older brother making a mess of things like this. He travels to the World Tree, Yggdrasil, to get the answer to his question: "how do I stop my brother?" In order to get wisdom, Odin sacrifices one of his eyes.
Yggdrasil draws him inside itself and he is imbued with knowledge and power. Also: prophesy.
"See now, Odin. Your brother is lost, drowned in an ocean of power and corrupted. The price of treason: blood begets blood. To heal your brother, you will lose your son. To see your path, you must lose an eye..."
Time passes before Odin makes his move. While the future All-Father has been aged, possibly by his trip inside Yggdrasil, Vili and Vi are young men.
While all three brothers show up at Cul's fortress together, it's only Odin that makes the charge. No one can stand against him. The current All-Father loses his army to his brother. Inside of his inner chamber, the Serpent is afraid. This is a new feeling for him and he actually has to ask one of his Worthy, Skadi, what he's feeling.
Cul is about to send the Worthy out to deal with Odin when Skadi tells him that Odin is already coming up the stairs for a final confrontation. We saw a dream version of this in New Mutants #31.
Change of plans. Cul knows that his brother can't kill him. That means that this is just a battle and not the war. When he returns, he will need his Worthy to stand beside him. Casting some serious magic, Cul ties the Worthy to their hammers and sends them into space.
Odin arrives. We already know that Cul can't win. He tells Odin that he can't kill Cul because his brother is already dead. Only the Serpent remains. Nickname'd. More than that, to defeat the Serpent, Odin is going to have to burn a whole world infected with fear. That's a sacrifice that Odin is willing to make, proving that while he's the "good guy" in this scenario, he's not THAT good.
The Serpent is blasted from his tower and soars into the ocean where he will be imprisoned until Skadi frees him in the distant future. After that, Odin kills a world. The Serpent set up his kingdom not in Asgard but on the world of Aesheim. The Serpent's capital is burned to the ground. The land is destroyed. The people are killed. The ground is salted. The memory of Cul is extinguished.
I would bet money that this is where Valkyrie's origin story from Secret Avengers #14 takes place. She was made a Valkyrie in that issue when Odin was set on slaughtering everyone and everything to remove a sickness from the land.
Aesheim would be renamed "Midgard" and would be a place where gods wouldn't live again... until recently.
All of this was done so that Odin could do his best to avoid the World Tree's prophesy that would claim his firstborn son. In a final scene, Odin is shown with a baby Thor. He's scowling but that's what he does.
Journey Into Mystery #630
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Richard Elson
In this story:
• When Heimdall is napping, the Destroyer armor is returned.
• Thor's goats drag Volstagg out of the World Tree.
• Volstagg tells Loki to stay away from him. He then checks up on the other Warriors Three.
• From there, he returns home and tells his kids the story of Fear Itself.
• After the kids are asleep, his wife, Hilde, tells him that he doesn't have to lie to them about these things with his stories but Volstagg doesn't see it the same way. The stories make the kids feel better but they also make HIM feel better.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The Asgardians are stuck back on Midgard, living in Fallen Asgard after only a couple days in Asgard-Space. It's a good thing they didn't unpack. After being so busy with Odin during Fear Itself, Asgard's watchman, Heimdall, takes a 24 hour power nap. This is a thing without precedence since Heimdall is almost always on duty. It gives a certain god of mischief the chance to return the Destroyer armor to the city after his recent adventuring.
Heimdall and his lady friend, Siri, wonder who would steal such a device only to return it but it doesn't take a lot to guess the answer.
Near the World Tree, Kid Loki puts Thor's giant goats, Tooth-Gnasher and Tooth-Grinder, to work dragging something out from inside the World Tree. He promises them apples and other delectables for doing this but all he can offer them right now is hay. Whatever. The goats keep on pulling until a fat man is a space-suit is dragged up onto the land. Volstagg.
And that's mystery solved, people. Just as I expected (and foretold!), Volstagg was powering the Destroyer. I really thought I was wrong when Volstagg showed up with the rest of the Warriors Three and Sif right in the middle of Fear Itself #7, but that was just another continuity glitch that should have been caught by the editors well before it saw print. To help them out, I'm just going to pretend the Volstagg that showed up in FI #7 was another Asgardian that just looked a WHOLE lot like Volstagg the Voluminous.
We go through HOW he went about taking the armor and how his body was hidden inside the World Tree where Heimdall wouldn't see it but that's all backstory at this point. The point is, Volstagg was part of Loki's plan and he knew the truth of what they were going to do.
Their actions led to Thor's sacrifice being worthwhile. Still, it's too much like they allowed Thor to die for Volstagg's tastes. He tells Loki to leave him alone. The god of mischief has too much of a hold over him as a kid.
His first stop is a visit with the other two parts of the Warriors Three. The others greet him and ask him where's he's been and he lies that he was on a special secret mission for Odin. No details will escape his lips but he assures his friends that the mission went off without a hitch.
From here, V heads home to give his family some Volstagg time. This is going to be more difficult and our favorite fat Asgardian has trouble finding the courage to open the door. Girding himself for battle, he plunges inside to find a family that adores him waiting for his return.
After hugs are shared all around, Volstagg asks his wife, Hilde, if the kids have been good enough to deserve a story.
It turns out that they have. Volstagg has them prepare his special story chair which is a ritual all on its own. Storytime seems to be something that these kids LIVE for. When all has been set up, the Voluminuos one begins his tale.
This isn't history. It's story. As such, it bears little resemblance to what has actually been laid down in the event. That's on purpose. V is telling his kids about a very bloody war and he isn't going to go into details about something as depressing as Fear Itself. Instead, he funs it up, makes himself the hero, and generally goofs his way through the whole event.
He beat up the Serpent in the ancient past but that was embarrassing for Odin's brother so Odin changed things around and made everyone forget that Volstagg was the hero. Sin released the Serpent in a time close to the present and that was because she was a stupid Nazi (Volstagg's kids have been taught to hate Nazis). When the Worthy ran around the world, Volstagg couldn't stop them all because he wasn't a good runner. Odin put all of Asgard on the task of building a machine that would kill the Serpent but Volstagg is vague on the details.
So on and so forth. Some things are unavoidable. He can't talk his way out of Thor's death, for example. The kids are Asgardians and they're going to figure that one out. He does comfort one of the little ones that takes this particularly badly. He leaves out his adventures with Loki in favor of just saying that he fought alongside Earth's heroes against the Worthy and was integral to their defeat.
The best change in the story is that after the Serpent was defeated, Volstagg cooked up the remains of the big dragon and ate him up. The reason Odin left was that it was the All-Father's job to take care of Volstagg's mighty Serpent deuce... which could take some time.
One of his older kids asks if they're going to be ok now that it's over and V solemnly tells her that, yes, they are. After that, he gives everyone a piggy back ride. Probably his wife, too.
The rest of the evening goes a lot like this until finally the kids are tuckered out and put to bed. Hilde joins her husband on the balcony to discuss things and stuff. She's wise enough not to ask Volstagg what really happened. You can probably read some of the hurt on V's face and know that it's not something he really wants to talk about. What she DOES say is that he doesn't have to make up these stories for the kids. As she puts it: "you don't need to lie to them."
Different ways of looking at things. The stories are for the kids because Volstagg doesn't want the horrors of the real world breaking them just yet. It's probably like us not letting our kids watch the ten o' clock news or something similar. More important, the stories aren't JUST for the kids. They're for HIM. They make HIM feel better about what has just gone down.
He also makes passing reference to how some kids have to grow up too soon (Kid Loki in a nutshell).
Hilde gives Volstagg a kiss and tells him that he's a good guy and to get in bed. V turns his head, telling Hilde that he'll be a good man TWICE tonight. Boosh.
Avengers Academy #20
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Tom Raney
In this issue:
• The final battle of Fear Itself plays out as the Avengers Academy rests in a Chicago hotel. Justice and Reptil check on Veil but she's not willing to talk aobut her decision to quit the school.
• Giant-Man and Tigra show up at Fallen Asgard after the fight is over, explaining that the Infinite Mansion is gone.
• Everyone hangs out at Avengers Mansion. Maddy makes a call to a mysterious someone asking if an offer is still good.
• After Hazmat tries to convince Veil to stay on at the Academy, Speedball shows up to tell everyone that he's quitting.
• The team chases down more Raft escapees (these ones are the same ones that ran through Stamford in Fear Itself: The Home Front #2). The battle is won not by the heroes but by Jeremy Briggs. Briggs tells Veil that, yes, his offer is still good.
• Most of the others give their opinions on whether she should stay or go. Maddy's already made up her mind.
• Justice meets with her late at night and agrees that leaving is probably the right decision for her. He also confides that he is leaving.
• Speedball and Justice decide to go on a legendary roadtrip all over the world.
• Styker wishes Veil good luck and tells her to stay in contact.
• As Maddy is getting set up at Briggs Chemical in Manhattan, Avengers Academy is moving into the compound in Palos Verdes, California and opening their doors to a lot more students.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
Huh. I thought last issue was the end of this series' Fear Itself tie-ins. Guess I was wrong...
Last issue, Veil quit the team but it's a slow burn for her to actually leave. It's sort of like giving your two week notice at a job. They don't just show you the door and you're expected to fill up the rest of your scheduled shifts. Besides, the world is messed up right now so it gives her more time to figure out what to do after her spur of the moment decision to leave Avengers Academy.
If you're expecting her to change her mind, I'll tell you right now: she's not going to. The decision's been made. The entire cast gives her their opinions over the course of the book but no one convinces her to stay. Some of them support her. Some of them don't.
First, the events of Fear Itself #7 play out on the news, playing in Maddy's hotel room in Chicago. Thor's death is announced and then confirmed. Veil turns off the television. No sooner does she do that than there's a knock at the door. It's Justice (Vance's arm is in a sling so he stayed behind while the rest of the team sped their way to Broxton) and Reptil. They want to know if she's alright. Veil ghosts her way through the door and shows them that, yes, she's fine but they need to leave.
Sometime after the main event is over, Giant-Man and Tigra show up at Fallen Asgard. Hawkeye greets them but tells the two that it's all down to clean-up. Clint has already discarded his Mighty weapon and is back to the normal bow and arrow. Hawkeye is surprised that the two Avengers Academy faculty members didn't make it here sooner with their interdimensional doors. Quicksilver sped across country to get down here quickly but Hank and Greer took their sweet time. Pym explains that the Infinite Mansion and all those sweet interdimensional doors are gone.
The next day, everyone meets up at Avengers Mansion and enjoys some of Luke Cage's unrequested hospitality. War stories are exchanged. Everyone is still on edge. After listening to the Avengers gossip and gripe for a while, Maddy picks up her phone and dials someone up, checking to see if their job offer is still valid. Before she can get an answer, Hazmat corners her for a talk.
Jenny hasn't exactly been the most agreeable person to get along with but she really thinks that Veil should stay with the Academy. Maddy tells Hazmat a bit about her previous life and how sucky it was (and it WAS pretty sucky). She was happy to leave that behind but not for something like this. She feels like a broken person hanging out with even more broken people. Veil talks about killing Nazi-Mech drivers and not feeling bad about it. She doesn't like the road she's going down.
When Jenny asks her what she's going to do, Veil gets a look on her face, making it pretty certain what her plans are. I'll be honest. I missed a few issues of Avengers Academy and I was thinking that she was going to go work for Norman Osborn now that he's free and all. Norman told her that he could cure her and that sounds like a pretty good deal for someone who will go permanently intangible when she reaches her mid-twenties. Instead, it's someone who made his appearance while I was doing other stuff.
Before Jenny and Maddy can get into a thing, Reptil runs in to tell them that Speedball is back. Yay! Robbie Baldwin just got done with his Home Front story and has returned to the Academy... at least the people that were part of it. He tells them all how great it felt helping people and making a difference and feeding off the positive vibes he got from people. He needed that. It's made him stop wanting to hide away from the world.
Which is why he's quiting Avengers Academy.
WHA!? Hank tries to talk him out of it but Vance stops him. Justice sees a friend who has his mojo back and doesn't want anyone to stand in Speedball's way. Robbie tells everyone that he's not taking off RIGHT NOW, anyway. There are a few Raft escapees that he'd like to track down and he'd appreciate the help.
The next day, Avengers Academy is fighting Icemaster, Aftershock and Ember. Speedball uses the time to ask Veil about her decision to leave but, again, nothing that would change her mind about it.
Taking down these three criminals is none of our heroes. It's actually Jeremy Briggs. I guess this guy showed up in Avengers Academy #14.1 and caused some trouble that no one can actually pin on him. He tells Veil that his offer for her to come work for the Briggs Foundation is indeed still good. Six-figure salary.
That gets all sorts of reactions from everyone. Tigra won't discuss it and is pissed at Veil for even considering it. Reptil is convinced that Briggs is a killer. Finesse seems pretty sure that Briggs is a killer but can't prove it. Quicksilver thinks it's good money. Mettle tells her to live her life while she has it.
Hank Pym does a lot of apologizing. Like I've said, Madeline Berry is fading away, slowly. Hank Pym was sure that he could fix the problem but can't. He thinks this is all his fault because Pym's the guy who takes on the weight of the world. They end up moving on to talking about Jeremy Briggs but it looks like Maddy is pretty determined with her decision to leave the team and join Briggs Foundation.
The last one to talk to her about this for the day is Justice. Vance visits her room that night but enters from the window because the door is too much of a barrier if Maddy didn't want to talk. The talk is pretty good. Veil explains to Justice exactly why she has to leave the team and it makes a lot of sense. It's not the same experience that Vance had when he joined the ranks of super-heroes but he can understand things going that way. Vance agrees that she should leave if that's how she feels.
Twisting up his face, Vance reveals that's he's quitting the Academy, too.
The next night, Speedball takes off. Vance meets him on the way out and tells Robbie that the rumors are true. He's also leaving the Academy. The two make plans for an epic roadtrip.
Yes, I want to read that comic. Tell me you don't.
At the same time that Speedball is taking his leave, so is Veil. Maddy is slipping out the side door, though, so no one will make a big deal of this. One person catches her. Styker has become Veil's best friend at the Academy and it's weird that he hasn't given her any advice or whatever since she made the decision to leave the school. He's not going to do it now, either. Instead, Styker tells her to keep in touch even if she's become "a traitor super villain." Maddy gives him a hug.
Inside Avengers Mansion, Hank Pym and Tigra watch Maddy Berry leave. Pym takes it hard. Greer takes it in stride. They were going to lose a student eventually and she's surprised they've still got all the others. Plans are made one where to move the Academy to next. Hank has an idea. Instead of using an interdimensional mansion, maybe it's time to use some place closer to home.
Maddy is set up in a corner office at Briggs Chemical in Manhattan with a pretty sweet expense account and an apartment. Shen Veil asks what she'll be doing, Jeremy responds, "Anything we want."
The new Avengers Academy is set up at the Avengers West Coast Compound in Palos Verdes, California. A Quinjet carries Hank and Greet to the location. Pym is reminded about all the good times he had here but Tigra makes sure he also remembers all the crap that happened while they were on the West Coast Avengers. Hank smiles and tells her that this is what he loves about her. Oooooooh. The "L" word.
The two kiss just in time for Pietro to run up and throw up all over the lawn. No, not really. Quicksilver doesn't appreciate it, though. He's been working on making sure the building is structurally sound even though professionals are going to have to get the building up to spec. It's a pretty big complex for such a small student body.
That's good because they're expanding. Jocasta shows up with the new classmates: Batwing, Justin Seyfert (Sentinel), Lightspeed (Julie Power from Power Pack), Lyra (Savage She-Hulk), Thunderstrike, Butterball, and a new White Tiger. I guess the new class is in session.
New Mutants #32
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artists: David Lafuente & Robbi Rodriguez
In this issue:
• Hela is dead. The Draumar are closing in. All hope is lost. The New Mutants prepare for a final fight.
• As the battle begins, Danielle Moonstar yells at Hela's corpse for getting them involved in all of this. The raven that has been following Moonstar around wriggles it's way into Hela's mouth.
• The Asgardian death goddess wakes up, coughing up feathers. It turns out she put Danielle in charge of her soul until she could figure out a good plan of attack against the Draumar.
• It turns out she's still got nothing but the New Mutants get Asgardian upgrades in the meantime to slow down the forgotten dreams of the Serpent.
• When X-Man realizes that the Draumar are afraid of the unknown. Nate has Hela give them a full blast of his home reality, the Age of Apocalypse.
• The culture shock rips the Draumar apart.
• The battle won, Hela returns the New Mutants to Utopia without any thanks given. Illyana, locked back up in her cell, greets them and asks how Hell was.
The previous comic in this series was covered HERE.
The New Mutants are in Hel. When I say "New Mutants," I'm talking about Danielle Moonstar, Sunspot, Magma, Cypher, X-Man and Warlock. When I say "Hel," I'm talking about the Asgardian land of the dead. Literally.
The Serpent's reach extends all the way down here. He has his Draumar attacking Hela's fortress of Helheim to conquer the whole land for the fear god. The Draumar were once the Serpent's second line warriors after the Worthy but they were killed in battle and as a consequence of Odin covering up that the Serpent ever existed, their deaths were erased from history. Now, they're back in the land of the dead and they are PISSED.
The Draumar plan on conquering Hel and then using the living souls of the New Mutants to gain passage to the living realm to join up with the Serpent once more. The Conquering of Hel is pretty much done since they killed Hela in the first strike. Now, it's just clean-up and collecting the New Mutants.
As the Draumar lumber up to Helheim, the New Mutants enjoy one last moment of quiet. Magma and Cypher talk about her deal to go out on a date with the devil. X-Man uses the time to lament his uselessness. Nate Grey is heavily depowered after his recent run in with Sugar Man. He's not officially a member of the team and he believes it's because of his limited powerset.
Yes. Danielle Moonstar, the leader of this team, is depowered so she'd definitely keep Nate off the roster because of lack of god-like abilities. Sunspot tells him to focus his remaining abilities into a single point to be more effective in battle.
OK, the calm before the storm is over. It's time for there to be some fighting. The Draumar break through the walls of Helheim and it doesn't look like the New Mutants stand one bit of a chance.
In another chamber of Helheim, Hela has been taken from her deadly spike and placed on the ground. Dani and her Raven companion are attending the dead body. Mostly, Moonstar is yelling at Hela for sending her here only to die. The Raven keeps getting closer to Hela's body until it crawls right into her mouth.
And that's when the death goddess wakes up.
The Raven was Hela's soul and was sent away from her body so that it could survive death. It was placed in Dani's care until Hela could think up a plan and rejoin her body. That just happened but that doesn't mean Hela has a plan. In fact, she's still kind of stumped. Since this is kind of the last fight of Hel, she came back. Coughing up feathers, Hela knows that she can at least make this more difficult for the Draumar.
Just like that, the New Mutants get an Asgardian makeover. It's a major upgrade and they actually have the power to fight back against the Draumar, now. Danielle joins the others to assist with the defensive efforts. Cypher speaks correctly when he says that this is only a delaying tactic. Nothing they're doing is going to completely stop the Draumar.
In another part of the fight, X-Man has just realized that the one having the easiest time fighting the Draumar is Warlock. He guesses it's because Warlock's technological form is something that the Draumar can't understand. Tech is beyond them. While they follow the Serpent out of fear, suddenly they're afraid of something else.
Nate tells this to Danielle and then gets Hela to use her goddess powers to transmit his life before the eyes of the Draumar. The servants of the Serpent get a sudden dose of the Age of Apocalypse. All of it.
And it scares them. It's the unknown and they've been dead too long to make any sense of it. Pushed in opposite directions by their fears, the Draumar burst into black feathers and dissipate.
Hela returns the New Mutants to Utopia. She wants them out of her hair so she can mount a proper counterstrike without these guys getting in the way. As Dani says, they don't even get a thanks. When Hela leaves, Illyana Rasputin calls out to them from her X-Brig prison, asking how Hell was.
Oh, consequences, consequences!
The Incredible Hulk #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler/ Pencil Assists: Marc Silvestri / Michael Broussard
In this issue:
• The Hulk kills monsters underground to feed a tribe of Moloids.
• After finally relenting and partying down with the Moloid tribe, the Hulk is attacked by robots from the surface led by an armored man. The armored man is punched away as Hulk deals with the robots.
• When the armored man returns, we learn that it's actually an armored WOMAN. Her name is Amanda Von Doom (no relation) and while she started this with a fight against the Hulk, she's actually here to recruit him for a special mission.
• It appears that Bruce Banner has gone INSANE.
• On the Lord of the Flies island, to Boar-men collect the last of the animals on the island to bring to their "Father."
• When the animals are brought to "Father," they don't satisfy him. Obviously, this is Doctor Robert Bruce Banner. He's trying to recreate the Hulk.
• Or something like that .
Your recent history of the Hulk:
During Fear Itself, the Hulk was turned into Nul, Breaker of Worlds. He smashed things to drive up Fear energy for the Serpent. In Romania, the Hulk broke free from the Serpent's influence long enough to shatter Nul's hammer. That released him from Nul's possession and had other consequences that aren't related to this comic.
In Fear Itself #7, Hulk killed Bruce Banner out of his brain and left the puny human in a desert. Banner was wearing hospital clothes with an saline drip running into his arm. No explanation was given to how Hulk separated himself from Bruce Banner but I took the guess that it might be related to having recently exorcized Nul.
This story begins months after the Fear Itself epilogue. The Hulk has taken to living far underground. A gigantic monster bursts out of a lava throw to threaten the Hulk but we all know this is just a chance for the Green Goliath to show his full strength.
He also shows off his full beard.
After delivering a lethal blow to the lava monster, Hulk puts a hand on the creature's head and helps it through the last moments of life. He drags the beast away.
In a montage, we see Hulk do the same to many other subterranean monsters. Every time he kills a monster, he drags it away. By the last panel, we learn where he's taking these dead creatures.
They're food for a hidden Moloid tribe. The kids leap on the Hulk as he enters the village. It's obvious that they really like the green guy. When the Elder asks what the Hulk has with him this time, the Green Goliath responds in one word: "Food." Right in the middle of the Elder's praise of his "great hunter," the Hulk walks off.
The Elder follows after him once the meal has started cooking. Even though the Hulk has been with them for a while (long enough to grow out his hair and beard, at least), he still doesn't live WITH them.
That's because the Hulk is certain that this won't last and that people will come for him. He's keeping watch. The Elder thinks his tribe too hidden for any to find unless by accident but he thinks that even if people show up looking for the Hulk, it'll happen even if the Hulk isn't on the look out for them. For now, maybe he should head into the village and enjoy a little bit of life.
The big guy relents and joins the villagers while they celebrate. He eats, kids crawl all over him, he thinks to himself that Bruce Banner was holding him back from enjoying life and now he can finally rest. He cracks a smile, thinking this would be a good place to settle down for the rest of his life.
Which is when the spider-robot shows up and tags his I.D.
Giant drill machines boar into the Moloid village. Crazy, insect-like robots demand that Hulk surrender. These robots' leader, an armored man that doesn't look anything like an Iron Man, talks some sass before the big fight begins. Hulk takes the first hit, of course. We don't want to think he's the bad guy. The armored individual takes the second and goes flying.
Hulk goes to town on the insect-like robots as we follow the armored dude, who's armor is shredding apart after Hulk's attack. The robo-units name this guy "Commander Doom" and we all go "hmmmm..."
Commander Doom orders the robots to keep doing their jobs but this is the freakin' Hulk. Robots aren't going to stop him. It was stupid to even try. That's when Commander Doom reappears to talk it out with the Green Goliath. With so much of the armor falling away, we find out that it wasn't an armored dude. It was an armored CHICK! She introduces herself as Amanda Von Doom (no relation) and tells the Hulk that she came in so strong because she wanted the Hulk to take her seriously and... y'know, fights are cool.
Regardless, she's not ACTUALLY here to fight. She's here recruiting Hulk for a special mission. A personal mission. While Hulk keeps telling her to get out before he gets angry (you wouldn't like him when he's angry), she gives him a mean stare and claims that she's not afraid of him.
What she IS afraid of? Dr. Robert Bruce Banner.
Let's change that scene. We've been underground too long. Now, we're on a deserted island and when I say "deserted," I mean almost completely. Every animal has been gathered up. The last of them are being collected right now. Who's collecting? Two Boar-Men. They are obviously created creatures and from their dialoge, it looks like these animals are going to be the next to get mutated.
Now, your GUT is telling you that these Boar-Men (named "26" and "27") were obviously made by Bruce Banner. After the last scene and the set up, you're waiting to see Bruce acting crazy... and you DO. But part of you... a good part of you... is probably hoping that this is actually a High Evolutionary appearance. It has all the ear-marks of one. That part of you will be disappointed.
The Boar-Men keep alluding to the "Father's" worst enemy which is obviously the Hulk. However, when they reach Banner, they find that all the work he's doing is in an attempt to recreate the Hulk.
And if you were hoping that Bruce was gonna give us a crazy grimace, hope no longer! There it is.
Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1
Writers: Archie Goodwin, Roy Thomas, John Romita
Penciler: George Tuska
In this story:
• Carl Lucas is let out of the Box (three days PAST his sentence) at Seagate Prison. After learning about an upcoming prison riot from Shades, Lucas gets into a fight with Shades' gang.
• Carl is brought up to Captain Rackham. When he refuses to give the Captain information on the riot, Lucas is put back in the Box.
• Prison guard, Quirt, beats the crap out of Carl Lucas and is caught by the Warden. Quirt is fired and Captain Rackham is demoted.
• After all of that has ended, Doctor Noah Burstein meets with Lucas about a possible parole opportunity. It just may cost him his life.
• Carl tells Burstein his backstory. It involves a friendship gone wrong, a rivalry over a girl, and heroin planted in Lucas' apartment.
• After a visit by the former captain, Carl decides to take Burstein up on his crazy treatment.
• In the middle of the scientific experiment, Rackham shows up, messing with all the dials like he's Prince Humperdink.
• Carl tears the machine apart and then attacks the prison guard.
• While Doctor Burstein is checking on Rackham, Lucas breaks out of prison, using his newfound super powers.
• During the escape, one of the guards shoots him. Lucas falls into the water and is presumed dead.
• Instead, Carl completes his escape and returns to New York City.
• After inadvertently stopping a robbery, Lucas finds a way to make money without giving away his real identity. He gets a costume and starts marketing himself as Luke Cage.
• This draws the attention of the Syndicate gang... particularly Willis Styker, Lucas' old best friend!
June 1972! With Amazing Spider-Man #109, Fantastic Four #123, Daredevil #88, Avengers #100, Thor #200, and Incredible Hulk #152 on the shelves, it was time for the first apearance of Luke Cage, the Hero for Hire! Cage wasn't the first African-American super-hero but with the possible exception of the Black Panther, he's probably the most high profile and has the distinction of being the first African-American Marvel character to debut in his own title. Capitalizing on the Blaxplotation that was popular at the time, Luke Cage took an interesting take on being a hero. He got paid.
Our story begins inside Seagate Prison, a maximum security prison off the southeastern coast of the United States. This is where we meet a trouble maker prisoner named Carl Lucas. Thoughout the comic, we'll learn that Lucas has a gigantic chip on his should. Carl doesn't work well with anyone he doesn't respect and it takes a hell of a lot to keep his respect.
Right off the bat, we meet a prison guard named Quirt who has made it a mission to break Lucas. That's why the prisoner has spent three extra days in the Box. It hasn't improved Carl's attitude.
Carl's first stop is the yard. It doesn't take long before he has a meeting with one ot the prison gang leaders, Shades (who would become a long time enemy of Luke Cage and is also father to the current Power Man). Seagate is getting a new Warden and Shades would like to celebrate with a prison riot. Having the support of a guy like Carl Lucas would go a long way to getting this party off the ground.
Even some threats (with a knife!) by Shade's partner, Comanche, don't convince Lucas that this is a good idea. He socks the knife-wielder in the face. Indignant, Carl walks away.
Up in the Warden's still vacant office, the prison captain, Rackham, and Quirt watch this exchange. While this is enough to get Lucas back in the Box, Captain Rackham gets the prisoner sent up to the office, first. He thinks that he can get Carl to squeal on Shades and deliver information on this upcoming riot and stop it from happening. This would make the incoming Warden that much more impressed with the captain and things might go more smoothly with the reformer Warden. Lucas is many things but he isn't a rat. He might have no love for Shades and his prison gang but there's probably less love for Rackham and his prison guards, especially Quirt.
After telling the Captain just where he can shove it, Carl Lucas is sent back to the Box. Rackham tells Quirt to break the prisoner and the prison guard heads down to do just that. It's savage. The other unnamed prison guard tries to get Quirt to stop this beating but Quirt just keeps saying how dark it is in the Box and how Lucas is trying to attack him. Clearly, that's not the case. Carl knows that attacking a guard would be a stupid move and stays his hand. The prisoners outside start begging Quirt to stop. Some of the other guards pull him away but he breaks away from them to continue his assault. There's only one man with the power to make sure that happens.
And that would be the new Warden. He shows up unannounced and puts an immediate stop to this brutality. More than that, Quirt is instantly fired. That's all stuff your average man can get behind. The next part... probably not so much. Warden Stuart orders Quirt put in the box with Lucas for ten minutes, announcing that the prison guard is no LONGER a guard. Carl takes out his vengeance as the Warden finds his office.
When Stuart enters his office, he finds Rackham in his chair, feet up, smoking a cigar and drinking. Since Rackham's back is facing the door, he has no clue that his boss has just entered the room and assumes it's Quirt. As such, he implicates himself in the abuse of a prisoner. This gets him immediately downgraded to a normal guard and an ultimatum to clean up his act in one week or face an unemployment line. Rackham, of course, doesn't blame himself. He blames that damn Carl Lucas.
Change is in the air for Seagate Prison and Lucas is a primary recipient of this change. Soon after Warden Stuart takes over, Carl gets a visit from Dr. Noah Burstein. Burstein has a special project on tap for the prison and Lucas is a prime candidate for his mad scientist experiments. After checking over Carl's wounds, Noah leaves.
Later on, we see Lucas in Burstein's office to learn his chilling and haunting backstory. We also learn that he SUCKS at being nice during a parole board hearing.
Anyway, to the back story! Back in the day, Carl Lucas and his best friend, Willis Stryker, committed small crimes all over Harlem. Stryker was the master of knives while Lucas focused on the power of his fists. After doing this for a while, Carl decided to go straight while Stryker kept on rising in the gang hierarchy. The two remained best friends.
Enter the woman. Lucas worked with a lady named Reva and both men tried to court her. With Willis's money and influence, it looked like this friendly rivalry was over before it had begun. Then came a certain encounter with rival gang members from the Syndicate. They met up with Stryker and Reva at a restaurant and waited for the two to sneak out the back door. Willis wasn't prepared for the beating he received at the hands of the rival gang members.
Reva ran down the street and got Carl's help to stop this savage beating. Being Willis's best friend, Lucas didn't even hesitate on kicking a little @$$. Willis was brought to the hospital and the Syndicate members were arrested. Reva realized that life with Stryker would be filled with moments just like this. She decided to end it with him. While Lucas still wasn't on her radar, Stryker blamed his best friend for the break-up and swore revenge. Carl thought something had snapped in his best friend after the Syndicate attack. Whatever the case, the two weren't friends anymore.
And suddenly, Reva was single. One thing led to another and maybe because of Stryker's reaction, the two became a hot item. Marriage was even a possibility. All this ended when cops found two kilos of uncut heroin in his apartment. He was arrested and given a twenty year sentence for being a drug dealer. There's no doubt that Willis Stryker had planted the drugs and gave the police an anonymous tip. Lucas didn't have any other enemies and the Syndicate members he beat up wouldn't have been able to identify him.
That's pretty crappy, but it's what happens next that makes Willis Stryker the big enemy of Carl Lucas. Willis weaseled his way back into Reva's life with talk that he could help Lucas out of prison earlier. She was riding in Stryker's car when the Syndicate caught back up to Willis. He tried to keep Reva inbetween himself and the the Syndicate goons but the other gang members didn't care about hurting the innocent woman to get to Stryker. They shot right through her.
Willis careened off the road but emerged from his car laughing. Reva wasn't so lucky.
Carl Lucas's story is finished. He tells Noah Burstein that his only wish now is to get out of prison and deal some revenge on his former best friend. While this isn't a guy that I wouldn't grant anything but a WHOLE lot of counselling, Dr. Burstein seems to think that Carl is well suited for a chance at parole. Volunteering for his scientific experiments is a good start but there's a real chance that Lucas won't survive the experiments.
This isn't something Carl is willing to consider. The fact that the experiments could help the world doesn't convince him, either. As far as Lucas is concerned, the hell with the world.
Who will change his mind? The former Captain Rackham. Now that his trial week is over, the prison guard visits Lucas's cell and makes certain that the prisoner is looking for revenge, basically replacing Quirt in bullying Lucas. While it's unlikely that Rackham could get away with this with Warden Stuart running the show, Carl still doesn't think his chances are good. At first, he contemplates an escape attempt but everyone knows trying that at Seagate is a death sentence. He might as well try for something with a chance of success.
And so, Carl Lucas volunteers for Dr. Noah Burstein's mad experiments. The purpose behind these experiments is to develop a treatment that will make mankind immune to all diseases. That's right. He isn't trying to build the next super-soldier. He's trying to cure the common cold. Either way, it's morally and ethically dubious territory because the survival rate is hovering around 0%.
Since Carl is healthy, Burstein gives him an injection that infects him with a number of viruses and diseases. This takes some convincing but eventually, the shot IS administered. Lucas is then sealed into a machine that bathes him in chemicals. This is going to be a lengthy process. Burstein tells Carl that the first time he goes through this treatment will be on a low setting until the prisoner gets used to the electrified chemicals. That said, Noah takes off to check the sensor gauges.
In his absence, who should show up but Rackham. The former captain took another prison guard's place to be on the scene. Rackham turns all the dials up and gives Carl Lucas a full dose of Burstein's process. The electrified slurry loads Carl with a hell of a lot of pain.
Rackham's plan is idiotic. No one is going to believe that the prison guard with an obvious grudge against Carl Lucas didn't relieve a guard and kill the prisoner while no one is looking. In fact, it's only a matter of time before Burstein shows up and catches the guard in the act of murder. Well, no one ever said that Rackham was a genious.
Things obviously don't work out the way Rackham was intending, anyway.
After breaking out of the contraption, Lucas gives Rackham a slap across the face. This wouldn't usually do a whole lot against the guard but Carl has gotten some super-strength from his time in the chemical pool. While Noah checks on the prison guard, Lucas grabs a corner of the wall and curses his lot in life.
While doing that, he notices that his fist is able to punch through bricks. That... is a nice talent to have when you're in prison and wanting to escape. Carl breaks right through the wall and runs for the water and freedom. He's immediately chased by other Seagate guards. When they chase him into a corner, Lucas grabs a rock and turns around to face them. One of the guards mistakes Carl's rock for a gun and everyone opens fire. Lucas drops into the water below.
When the prison guards search the beach, they find Carl's shirt was caught on a branch. It's riddled with bullet holes and everyone believes that the prisoner has been killed. All that's missing is a body.
That's because Carl Lucas's skin has become like steel. The bullets bruised his skin but didn't kill him. Lucas waits until nightfall, evading discovering. When everyone has given up the search, he steals a rowboat and makes his way off the island and to the continent.
What follows is a journey from the southern United States back to New York City. This takes time because Carl can't use his own identification, Social Security number or anything. This means he does unrecorded, menial labor for chicken scratch. Eventually, he gets back to NYC but he does this without a penny to his name and without showing off his super-abilities.
Back in the city, Carl makes plans to search down Willis Stryker and get some revenge on but his more immediate concern is getting food in his belly without giving away his real ID. Providence comes in for an answer to his problems. A stick-up robber races out of a restaurant and runs right into the transient Carl Lucas. Unnerved, the criminal shoots Lucas in the chest. That doesn't hurt Carl and he responds by back-handing the bad guy. The restaurant owner is so happy to get his money back that he gives Lucas a free meal and a reward. He also plants an idea in Carl's head.
After a trip to a costume shop and a few other stops around town, Lucas visits Reva's grave. He tells her that he's a new man with a new name. His first name is "Luke," taking his original last name and modifying it. The last name is to remind him of his time in prison: "Cage." With his plans in place, he gets right to his revenge plan, asking the locals all about Willis Stryker and the man's current situation.
An apartment is rented with what's left over of his reward money and his gig for getting more money without a pesky ID are set in motion. He dons a super-hero costume bought from the costume shop. You would probably recognize it for its awesome seventies-ness. Tiara. Giant chain around his waist. Flowing yellow shirt. Skin-tight blue pants. Bracelets. It's a way to act on his super-abilities and get paid.
It could use a mask for concealing his real identity but nobody's perfect.
With his new costume on and fliers made, Luke Cage hits the streets to do a bit of "promotion work." This involves messing up some Syndicate operations and distributing his fliers to the locals.
And that means he's attracting the interest of the Syndicate. This is important because his old best friend has switched over to the Syndicate side. Stryker's even put on his own costume. In a serpent themed suit, Willis Stryker has made a name for himself as Diamondback. He orders his underlings to find out more about this Luke Cage customer. There's a confrontation in their future.
And Luke Cage would have it no other way.
The Hero for Hire would go on to clearing his name with a little help from the champion of K'un L'un, Iron Fist. In the fiftieth issue of Luke Cage's book (retitled "Power Man and Iron Fist), Cage would legally change his name to "Luke Cage," indicating that his time as Carl Lucas was officially done. He would have some pretty fun adventures with Iron Fist before slipping into obsurity. While there were times when he'd be dusted off and showcased in the Marvel Universe (like the nineties "Cage" and "Heroes For Hire" series), Luke Cage wouldn't really get the spotlight back until the 2000's.
Mostly under the pen of Brian Michael Bendis, Luke Cage would find a stable relationship with Jessica Jones, father a child, Danielle, and become a leader of an Avengers squad. His New Avengers group would be the opposition to the pro-Initiative Mighty Avengers team post-Civil War. During the Dark Reign, Cage's New Avengers would stand against the Dark Avengers team and Luke would continue on as a serious enemy to Norman Osborn. During the Heroic Age, Luke Cage bought Avengers Mansion for one dollar (borrowed from Iron Fist). While leading the New Avengers, Cage pulled double duty as Director of the Thunderbolts, giving a new generation of criminals a chance to reform their evil ways and fight the good fight. Luke Cage's star is still shining brightly as we enter whatever the next era or the Marvel Universe.
We can put a fork in this one. Good times!
Until next time: Excelsior!