Confusion! Mayhem! Fan outrage! This week has it all.
But first, let me break down just what you're getting into. I read a Marvel Event comic book and then I spoil the hell out of it. I'll give you a nutshell of what happened in the comic, flesh it out a little bit more with some bullet points, and then just dive right in with a far too detailed look at how Captain America can take Cyclops in a fight.
So I read the comics and then I write about them. It's something simple and easy that I attempt to make way too complicated.
This ain't my first rodeo. I've been covering Marvel events since Secret Invasion, back when I was a wide-eyed young fanboy with hope for the future. :) You can read about it all in the massive Super Reads section on the site.
Before we get to the comics, you need to know a couple things.
THIS IS NOT JEAN GREY.
THIS is the Phoenix Force in human form. That FORM is Jean Grey and the Phoenix had even convinced itself that it WAS Jean Grey. She wasn't. For reasons I don't feel like getting into again, Jean Grey was sitting in a pod at the bottom of the Hudson River, recuperating from a near death experience. The Phoenix Force had placed her there before assuming Jean's form.
While wearing a Jean Grey suit, the Phoenix did a lot of heroic and admirable things, including fixing the latticework containment surrounding the Neutron Galaxy hidden inside the M'Kraan Crystal, saving all of existance. That's a pretty big win for something that is now touted as the greatest galactic killer this side of Galactus.
And Reed Richards has defended and saved Galactus.
What we all remember Phoenix for, however, is her fall from super-heroics into a living representative of the adage "absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Phoenix had struggled to maintain control of her powers. Shrinking down into a human-like thing with all of Jean Grey's memories had meant suppressing most of its abilities to remain sane. This all came crashing down when the mutant villain known as Mastermind used his illusions to shatter Phoenix's reality. The Phoenix was able to regain control but this was only a brief return to "normalcy" before she lost it entirely.
It was at this point that she ceased to be Phoenix and became the dreaded Dark Phoenix. Blowing up suns (resulting in the death of inhabited planets) and some fights against the X-Men and the Shi'ar Imperial Guard followed. When the dust cleared, Phoenix retained just enough Jean Grey's morality/sanity/red hair to reign in her powers and kill herself.
The real Jean Grey eventually returned, making us all far more confused than we needed to be.
THIS IS ALSO NOT JEAN GREY.
This is Rachel Summers or Rachel Grey depending on which alternative variant of her parents she's happier with that week. Rachel is a hold over from the Days of Future Past storyline. She is an alternate future child of Scott Summers and Jean Grey (possibly the Phoenix). She inherited the power of the Phoenix and used it with the X-Men, Excalibur, and the Starjammers.
Through out her time as a weilder of the Phoenix Force, Rachel kept it all under control. No planets were engulfed by suns. Rachel is living proof that the Phoenix isn't necessarily just a crazy firebird that burns up planets.
Though, as has been explained by an editor or two, Rachel didn't hold the entire power of the Phoenix. She had another sliver; just a small portion of the full potential. It served her well but even in the comics, that power waxed and waned depending on whether the writer wanted to use Phoenix's full potential. It was enough to give Galactus pause, however.
Now, the full force of the Phoenix is on its way to Earth. All bets are that it will choose mutant messiah, Hope Summers, as its next host. Absolute power. Absolute corruption?
Time will tell.
OK, you are suitably prepared. Let's get on with it.
AVX: VS #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert
Editor: Nick Lowe
The story in a nutshell:
Iron Man versus Magneto! Both fighters decide have a race to see who can out-magnetize the other. And then Magneto throws the fight after realizing that the Phoenix Force is the biggest Nazi ever.
This issue by bullet points:
• Iron Man fights Magneto. Stark's armor is magnetic-proof so maybe Magnus drops a Utopia Tower on the Avenger's head.
• Shellhead attacks the Master of Magnetism with... magnets.
• When that fails, Tony borrows some magnetic power from Jupiter.
• When THAT fails, the two just start slugging it out. Magnus borrows Iron Man's idea and starts stealing electro-magnetic energy from the entire universe.
• Or something. I turned my brain off at this point.
• Oh, Magnus sees that the Phoenix is killing worlds on the way to Earth. He throws the fight.
• As Iron Man flies off, Magneto begs him to call in the Scarlet Witch.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
While I will probably end up nitpicking the living snot out of this issue, it really IS a lot of fun. All fights, all the time. These battles kinda sorta take place between the pages of Avengers vs. X-Men #2 but not really. Don't go trying to make them actually fit what's happening in the main book because it isn't going to happen. Just enjoy the fights for what they are and you stand a chance of getting out of this without your nose bleeding.
If anything, there is some pretty art to be had.
I won't be mentioning these after this point but the whole comic contains some fun little AVX Fact File captions that sometimes give you stats on the action and are sometimes used for a quick joke. The big thing here is fun so, really, turn your brain off. While a REALLY good comic can combine fun with logic and maybe even sense, this one can't. Or doesn't. You've been warned.
First up: Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, versus Iron Man, the Golden Avenger!
In this corner, we have Eric Magnus Lehnsherr, Michael Xavier, Max Eisenhart, Magneto, or whatever this guy wants to be called this week. He's the former master of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and a former self-declared "Evil Mutant." Not many people actually revel in calling themselves "evil" but Magneto was just that kind of guy. A former poor man's Dr. Doom, Magneto actually developed a personality of his own under classic X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont. Magnus took on a major personality change from mustache twirling super-villain to morally gray anti-hero. The Master of Magnetism continues to skirt the line between good and evil, siding the world's remaining mutants after Cyclops created the self-governed mutant island of Utopia. Now a member of Uncanny X-Men's Extermination Team (which sounds quite friendly), Magneto fights to safeguard Utopia and the world's remaining mutants while protecting a world that fears and hates him... for a lot of good reasons.
In the other corner, we have Tony Stark, the Iron Man. A founding Avenger, Tony has used a lot of his personal wealth to support the team over the years, giving Earth's Mightiest Heroes his family home to serve as their headquarters and keeping them financed through the charitable organization, the Maria Stark Foundation. Iron Man has had boughts with alcoholism, lost his fortune a couple times, been declared legally dead once or twice, and was once replaced by an alternate teenage version of himself. His most notorious act, however, was siding with the pro-Registration Act forces during Civil War. Siding might be too light a way of saying it. Stark LED them, meaning a lot of bad things happened under his watch. Post Civil War, everyone was allowed to confront Iron Man, rip off his faceplate, and yell at him to their heart's content. Truly, we lived in an enlightened age. Now, he's had his mind rebooted to before Civil War even happened so... I guess he's ok, then. Avengers Assemble.
And now, FIGHT!!!
I know what the a few of you are thinking: The Master of MAGNETISM against an IRON Man? This fight lasts ten seconds and then they need to squeegie up the remains of Tony Stark. Oh, you few people... This is not the first time that Iron Man has faced Magneto and Stark is smart enough to avoid bringing a magnetic suit to this fight. Stark's current suit is composed of "Neurokinetic user-controlled morphologic nanoparticle bundles. A fibrous wetweb of iron and platinum." (This was finally revealed in The Invincible Iron Man #30-- I did my homework!) So, for the first time in a long time, it actually DOES have some iron in it. So does blood. Any amount of iron, Magneto can work with. So instead of wearing his usual suit of fancy armor that is stored in his bones, Tony is wearing ANOTHER suit that looks exactly the same. This one is made up of carbon nanotubes.
I'm sure it works just as well.
Realizing he can't just crush Iron Man's armor with magnetism, Mags reaches out for one of Utopia's towers and drops it on the Avenger's head. This isn't a KO but it does hurt like hell. Magneto gives Shellhead a warning and attempts to return to the battle.
Those discs are actually flying magnets and Iron Man is attempting to create an anti-magnetic field. Because fighting the MASTER OF MAGNETISM with MAGNETS is brilliant. It takes the X-Man (yeah, Magnus is an X-Man now) six seconds to turn that attack back on Tony Stark. This fight isn't going well for Iron Man. It's about this point that Magneto starts comparing him to the German soldiers that were "just following orders" at Auschwitz. It's not a real fight until someone is called a Nazi.
Reaching out with his funky orbiting satellites, Stark somehow... draws in the magnetic powers of Jupiter. I don't know, people. Comics. Again, Iron Man thinks fighting magnetism with more magnetism is the way to go. Unfortunately, the Avenger is a base novice and Magneto has been throwing down with his magnetic abilities since shortly after World War II. The Master of Magnetism reaches out and destroys Stark's satellites. The wreckage is used to create some extra body armor for Magneto.
Magnus decides to steal Tony's idea and begins drawing magnetic strength from all over the universe. This increases Magneto's powers by the second while it looks like Tony is out of ideas and has settled for just duking it out with his fists. By this point, the battle is far above Utopia, at the edges of Earth's breathable atmosphere.
As Iron Man gets a royal magnetic beatdown, Magneto gets a cosmic level psychological smash to the mouth. While drawing all that magnetic power from throughout the universe, Magnus notices a whole planet disappearing, courtesy of the Phoenix. Realizing that there's a bigger genocidal killer than Hitler, the fight simply goes out of the mutant.
This leaves him open to one last punch, delivered from the Golden Avenger. Tony Stark to the mother of all beatings and tells us about how hurt he is. Still, he gets to fly back down to Earth for more hero vs. mutant mayhem. Magneto just floats off in low orbit or something. He's not DEFEATED physically so much as defeated spiritually by the knowledge that maybe there's a force out there that's coming to kill them all.
He whispers to the departing Avenger a plea to get the Scarlet Witch involved.
THE WINNAH: IRON MAN! ONE FOR THE AVENGERS!!!
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Penciler: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Editor: Nick Lowe
The story in a nutshell:
Namor versus the Thing! A water battle! Namor loses! Everyone is sad.
This issue by bullet points:
• Namor punches Ben through the SHIELD Helicarrier.
• When Thing comes back down into the water, Namor is waiting for him.
• After duking it out underwater for a while, Namor is interrupted by a giant monster fish.
• After using the monster fish as a bludgeon, Namor finds himself swatted to the sea floor or something. Thing somehow manages to stay above the creature and pulls out its long fangs.
• Reaching the ocean bottom, Ben pins the Sub-Mariner to the ground with the fangs and then walks up to the surface for more fighting.
• Namor stays pinned for mere seconds but doesn't re-engage the New Avenger.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
Namor versus the Thing! Classic battles at their finest!
In this corner, we have Marvel's first mutant and arguably first hero, Namor the Sub-Mariner. Since his Golden Age beginning, Namor has had an on again, off again rivalry with the surface world. He fought it out with the original Human Torch back during World War II but also found himself allied with the United States during the War. When brought into the Silver Age, Namor became an early enemy of the Fantastic Four, attempting to conquer the team and the surface world time and time again. Eventually, the Sub-Mariner fell into the role of reluctant hero but he has returned to him more antagonistic ways on more than one occasion. Currently, Namor has created an alliance with the world's remaining mutant population. His people have taken up residence below the artificial island and Namor is on Uncanny X-Men's Extermination Team roster. The Sub-Mariner is almost unbeatable in the ocean.
In the other corner, we have the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing, Ben Grimm. Gaining his powers through an unintended dose of cosmic radiation while piloting a stolen rocket with the rest of the Fantastic Four, Grimm became one of the first heroes of the Silver Age and a long-time member of the FF. A scrapper by nature, Ben is also a lot smarter than he lets on. Thing is a member of the part-time Avengers squad, the New Avengers, led by Luke Cage. That gives him a perfect excuse to get involved in the Avengers vs. X-Men shenanigans. On land, Thing is more powerful than Namor. Under water, he's managed to hold his own on a couple occasions.
The fight begins with Ben Grimm's forceful expulsion from the Pacific Ocean. That means Namor gives him a big uppercut and sends Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew soaring through the air. Some of the SHIELD Jetfighters that are flying around the island nearly open fire on Thing before identifying him as an Avenger and letting him keep on rocketing upwards.
Grimm hits the SHIELD Helicarrier and crashes all the way through the airship, causing a LOT of damage in the process. It's OK, the Helicarrier is destined to crash before this thing is over, anyway. After busting through the top of the Helicarrier, Thing finally runs out of momentum and starts him plummet back into the ocean...
Where Namor is waiting for his old sparring partner. Before the Sub-Mariner can get in another hit, Thing is able to get off a haymaker. Both heroes hit the water and plunge into the depths.
At this point, the advantage is all Namor's. Thing can't breath underwater and the Sub-Mariner gets extra added strength when fighting on his home territory. Even so, Thing keeps holding his own. Ben even manages to toss a chest of buried treasure at Subby.
The two trade punches for a couple panels. At one point, Grimm gets a breath of... some kind of air... from a thermal vent. The battle seems to be a standoff but everyone is still pretty sure that Thing is going to lose in the long run because this is a battle underwater involving Namor the Sub-Mariner.
Get ready for an upset.
A giant serpent monster fish thing interrupts the proceedings, probably looking for a quick lunch and unfortunately running into some of the strongest guys in or out of the water. Namor uses the sea serpent as a weapon but it doesn't look like this works out for him. In fact, it looks like that act sends him dropping to the sea floor without much hope of instant recovery. His target, on the other hand, looks to have survived the attack unharmed and now gets the chance to take the sea monster head on.
Ben tears out the fish's oversized fangs. The big monster finally figures out that this meal isn't worth the effort and makes quick getaway.
Thing reaches Sub-Mariner before Namor has recovered from his drop to the ocean floor. At this point, Grimm puts those giant fangs to good use.
This isn't really an END to the fight but it does give Ben the time he needs to exit the ocean and head up to the beach of Utopia. Namor frees himself pretty quickly but doesn't immediately re-engage the Thing in mortal combat. The caption makes it seem like this isn't the last time Thing and Namor will square off in AvX.
THE WINNAH: THE THING! THAT'S TWO FOR THE AVENGERS!
Huh... That's kind of depressing, actually. Two of Cyclops' heavy hitters in the Extermination Team have already faced upsetting "defeats." Not a good beginning for the X-Men...
Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Editor: Nick Lowe
The issue in a nutshell:
We replay over the events of AvX #'s 1 & 2, through the Uncanny X-Men's perspectives. At the end, Cyclops contacts Utopia's PR Agent and they issue harsh accusations towards the Avengers out through the Press Release.
The issue by bullet points:
• Dr. Nemesis gives Cyclops and Emma Frost a read out of Hope's latest Phoenix ignition and its consequences. The big point is someone is going to notice this one and it's time to prepare for EVERYTHING.
• Hope meets with alien artificial intelligence, Unit, who seems to be manipulating the hell out of her. Good times.
• Cyclops shoots Cap directly in the shield one more time as Namor looks on, admiring his mutant boss.
• Colossus and Rulk punch each other at the bottom of the ocean. Piotr loses it and gives in to the loving embrace of Cyttorak.
• Hope burns Wolverine, swats Spider-Man, and escapes Utopia to find the real fight.
• Colossus regains control and allows Red Hulk to knock him out, satisfying Cyttorak's needs while not destroying all of Utopia.
• Upon learning that Hope has left the island, Scott Summers orders the release of his secret weapon: a PRESS RELEASE denouncing the Avengers!
The issue in EXTREME detail:
Uncanny X-Men is the big Team Cyclops book. Its focus is to show Utopia's heavy hitter squad, the Extermination Team, as it keeps the world's remaining mutant population safe (even those who have LEFT Utopia) and saves the rest of the world in the process. From it's outer appearance, it's the the X-Men's big book of villains, teaming up Magneto, Namor, Magik, Danger, and Emma Frost with a Juggernaut enhanced Colossus, Hope Summers, Storm, and Cyclops (who has lately been hitting some darker grays in the morality paint-by-number).
Unlike the New Avengers, Avengers, and Wolverine and the X-Men titles that have previously come out, Uncanny X-Men doesn't focus on any pre-event stuff. It instead tells the tale within a tale. You know. The stuff that happens in between the big stuff happening in Avengers vs. X-Men.
For example, early in Avengers vs. X-Men #1, Hope bursts in a full Phoenix Effect in frustration during a training session with Cyclops. This was the first time most of the Extermination Team had seen this happen and it was also the first time that the power signature was picked up by other people... notably, Tony Stark. Our opening scene in Uncanny shows Dr. Nemesis, the resident science master on Utopia after Beast's departure, telling Scott and Emma that this power explosion was a gigantic signal flare.
The implications are obvious. Besides possibly being picked up by the Phoenix Force (which is already on its way so it probably didn't need another call), other people noticed. Who knows how many people noticed? Cyclops gets ready for anything... which is a lot of things to get ready for.
Besides being one of the few remaining homes for the world's mutant population, the mutant island of Utopia also has its own prison. It's called the X-Brig and is wardened by Danger, the living computer that had once functioned as the X-Men's Danger Room. Most of the prisoners here are mutants but one very special exception is the alien computer super-weapon known as Unit. Introduced in Kieron Gillen's SWORD mini-series, Unit is one of the most dangerous weapons in the galaxy with the ability to talk people into doing anything he wants. And what does he want? Universeal peace through submission and the removal of individual will. Totally crazy. The only thing that kept this from happening was SWORD's subliminal field.
Now, Unit is being held in the X-Brig on request from SWORD's Agent Brand after SWORD's containment facities were destroy. The creature seems to be pacified but it's all a ruse so that he can get a little closer to Hope. Danger has no hold over him and, in fact, is SERVING Unit.
Hope comes to Unit for advice and the machine tells her just what he needs to in order for Hope to jump through his hoops... all the while telling her that she's no one's puppet and that she can do whatever she likes. It's deliciously worded. Even so, Unit is not certain WHAT Hope will end up doing. When the mutant messiah is gone, he tells Danger to take readings of whatever happens.
We jump forward to Captain America's confrontation with Cyclops. We got all the basics in Avengers vs. X-Men so this doesn't include much dialogue. All we need is the posturing.
Instead of dialogue, we get Namor's monologue. The Sub-Marinet tells us exactly why he's siding with the X-Men and it's all because he admires Scott Summers. Namor gives a variety of reasons but most of them would boil down to being anti-establishment and bucking the majority. Sure, the Atlantean Prince is trying to sleep with Emma Frost but that's also because he really respects Cyclops.
Oh, hey, there's Summers shooting Cap in the shield again. Excellent. I'll add it to my collection.
The Helicarrier decloaks, Colossus is magnetically fast ball specialed up to strike the SHIELD airship, Avengers spill out into the ocean, and it's fight time!
Somewhere off panel during Avengers vs. X-Men #2, Colossus and Red Hulk stopped fighting on top of the Helicarrier and moved their fight under the sea. Near the foundation of Utopia, the two bruisers punch and punch and punch. In the background, Namor fights the Thing and Luke Cage floats around.
Piotr Rasputin is a mutant with the power to turn his skin into organic steel. On top of that, his brush with Fear Itself left him with the powers of the Juggernaut, Avatar of Cyttorak. Colossus barely holds himself in check and won't even risk turning back into his more human form, which he considers too weak to hold off Cyttorak's influence. You'll also notice that Piotr has had time to form the Juggernaut's helmet over his head.
That doesn't save him from an eye gouging by the Gamma irradiated Rulk. This causes one big thing to go wrong. Colossus loses control and busts out a crazy organic armor that was never seen on the previous Juggernaut. This is a whole new bag, people, and it's filled with pure rage and unstoppableness.
Meanwhile, Hope has already been dragged off the battlefield and taken out all of her "guards." Here comes the Wolverine in his attempt to make an early end to things. It turns out this is because Hope asked Logan to take kill her if ever she went bad. The Canucklehead is taking her up on that. The problem is, the mutant messiah doesn't think this is all wrong. In fact, her flaming up with Phoenix powers is all right.
So Wolverine has to burn. Spider-Man has to get swatted. Hope has to do what she's been doing most of her life: run. This time, she's not running AWAY, she's running TOWARDS the fight. So that's nice.
In the ocean, a Cyttorak charged Colossus is putting the slaughter on Rulk. I mean, the Red Behemoth doesn't even put up close to a good fight. When they get close enough to the base of Utopia, Red Hulk smiles and gestures to the pillar holding up the island. It would be so simple to tear the thing apart.
Piotr finally regains control and tears off his extra armor. Red Hulk begins smashing. Colossus doesn't even put up a fight. What's important is that Cyttorak gets some blood, even if it's his.
Topside, Illyana tells Cyclops that yet another of his Extermination team has faced defeat. Danger brings more bad news. Hope has left the building and is no longer on Utopia. Cyclops orders the Avengers Protocols activated.
The word goes out as a text message to Kate Kildare, Super-human P.R. Specialist. With the mighty click of a mouse, the ante is officially upped.
It's a press release, denouncing the Avengers for their actions. It avoids any mention of the Phoenix and paints the X-Men in a far prettier light than they deserve but that's the POINT of press releases. The best part is the bit where Cyclops reminds everyone that he warned the world what would happen should they be pushed. The destruction of cities was implies.
Clearly, the X-Men won't be destroying cities. That was just a lot of hot air being thrown around to get people to back the hell off and Cyclops admits it as so. The X-Men remain heroes. But maybe they should rethink that whole Avengers outfit and if it's really for the good of all mankind.
I've got to say, if there's an arena where you can thoroughly trounce Captain America, it's with the media. The man simply does not know how to handle the public.
Your move, Avengers.
Secret Avengers #26
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Renato Guedes
Editor: Tom Brevoort
The issue in a nutshell:
The Space Avengers encounter the Phoenix Force and fail to capture it. The team is forced to land on the Kree Homeworld of Hala to repair their spaceship. Once there, Ms. Marvel and the Protector plot with a recently resurrected Captain Marvel to stop the Avengers and ensure that the Phoenix strikes Hala.
The issue by bullet points:
• Beast and Captain Britain construct a Phoenix Cage to snare the Phoenix Force. Then Brian joins Thor and Valkyrie for a drink.
• A group of Kree use a shard of the M'Kraan Crystal and the Nega Bands in an attempt to summon the Phoenix and return one of their traitorous heroes to life. Three guesses who.
• After confronting the Phoenix Force, the Space Avengers' plan fails, causing injuries to Thor and War Machine. Captain Britain tries to pull out a win but ends up destroying the Phoenix Cage completely.
• Before the heroes are killed by the Phoenix, the cosmic entity is summoned away by the Kree's M'Kraan Crystal lure. The Kree sacrifice their lives as the Phoenix resurrects Captain Mar-Vell.
• The Kree Minister prepares his people for the Phoenix's arrival and... Ascension.
• The Space Avengers secretly land of Hala for repairs. While they are there, the Protector and Ms. Marvel plot to assist the Kree in Ascension. They are joined by Captain Mar-Vell.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
It turns out that not all of the Avengers are trying to oppress the world's remaining mutant population. Some of them are actually trying to stop the Phoenix from reaching Earth. Thor! Ms. Marvel! Beast! The Protector! War Machine! Valkyrie! Vision! Captain Britain! These are the Space Avengers and they are on an impossible mission!
Beast has dreams. Nightmares, really. They involve the Phoenix burning him and the All-New, All-Different X-Men to a crisp during the Dark Phoenix Saga. It's based on some things that actually happened but take a nightmarish turn where no one makes it out alive. He wakes up aboard the Avengers' spacecraft with a start.
Nearby, Brian Braddock, Captain Britain, is still working on the Avengers' deus ex machina device for the occasion: the Phoenix Cage. It's based on readings Hank (McCoy, Beast) took on the Phoenix/Jean Grey that measured it's powers. It SHOULD be able to contain the Phoenix Force. If it doesn't, its readings will still be able to reach Earth and maybe be good on a Plan B.
Beast asks if Rachel Grey ever lost control when using Phoenix powers. Braddock tells Hank that, no, it never happened. He thinks that Rachel was stronger than Jean but, well, different circumstances, and... it wasn't actually Jean Grey. No, really.
As Brian finishes up some last minute details on the Phoenix Cage, Thor and Valkyrie enter the compartment, drunk. They think Brian and Hank are far too uptight and try to peer pressure the two into tying one on. While Hank is immune to this sort of bullying, Brian Braddock was never known for his self-control. He leaves to get drunk with an Asgardian.
On a Kree-Made space station, some Kree zealots prepare for something called Ascension. This involves bringing a Kree traitor back to life to serve his people, the Nega Bands, and a sliver of the M'Kraan Crystal. The M'Kraan Crystal tells us that this involves the Phoenix if all the other clues didn't give that away so they are going to be summoning the Phoenix. The Nega Bands and the "Kree Traitor" line point to one specific Kree super-hero...
If you haven't figured it out, don't worry, we'll get to it.
Before the Space Avengers can reach the Phoenix Force, the cosmic entity burns another inhabited planet to a crisp. This particular planet was the home of a race called the Dre'lnn. The Avengers learn of this and realize that they HAVE to stop the Phoenix in order to save planets.
Thor gives a motivating speech to his comrades in arms. Beast straps the Phoenix Cage to War Machine's back. The device will be powered by James Rhodes' armor. The plan is for Thor to distract the creature until the Phoenix Cage can suck it inside. Once preparations are made, the Phoenix is within range and...
It's time for everything to go wrong.
Thor is unable to hold the Phoenix Forces attention. The entity burns up War Machine with its cosmic flames. Thor is hit straight on. Beast calls a retreat so that they can make another attempt when everything is fixed up.
Captain Britain doesn't listen. He takes the Phoenix Cage and attempts to keep it powered with his own magical energies. Brian has the best of intentions even though he's seriously grandstanding. They just watched a planet die and he's unwilling to retreat just to let it happen again. Unfortunately, Beast's warnings that his powers won't properly power up the Phoenix Cage prove woefully accurate. The device is destroyed.
Escape is no longer an option. The Space Avengers get ready for the cosmic flames that will end their lives.
But that never happens. Before they can die horrible, burning deaths, the Phoenix Force is drawn away by the Kree's M'Kraan Crystal lure. Aboard the Kree's station, the traitor Kree hero is revealed as... Captain Mar-Vell! The Nega Bands are in place. The Phoenix Force is coming. All of the Kree die. While this is horrible, it's all according to their plane. As the station burns up, Captain Mar-Vell is reborn in Phoenix's flames.
From his quarters on Hala, a Kree Minister watches this carnage and rejoices. The Phoenix will now head to Hala and will bring with it the Kree's Ascension. After the station is completely obliterated, this Minister leaves the room to tell the gathered people of Hala about all of this.
In a nice little touch of Serendipity, the Space Avengers end up cloaking their ship to land on Hala to care for their wounded and maybe resupply. While the Protector isn't from THIS Hala (he's from another dimension), he's at least able to give Beast coordinates for a good hiding spot. The Avengers want to go about their business without being bothered by the Kree.
Hank checks in on the wounded Avengers. Vision tells him that Thor is seriously wounded but the Asgardian's soul still burns. It looks like the thunder god is bandaged from head to toe. While James Rhodes is less bandages, the prognosis is so bad that Vision can't say it out loud. He just looks sadder than usual.
And then there's Captain Britain. The worst Brian got was a nose bleed but it cost the Avengers their ace in the hole. The Phoenix Cage is gone. This earns the British Avenger a good, deserved chewing out by Hank McCoy. Captain Britain is a powerhouse and when he can keep his cool, he's definitely top tier. When he can't, it leads to grandstanding failures.
On top of the spaceship, Ms. Marvel and the Protector catch up and enjoy the Kree atmosphere. While Carol Danvers is human, her powers are derived from the Kree so there's an affinity there. After talking about how awesome Hala can be, both of the Avengers start talking about the Kree Ascension and how nothing can get in the way of its procession. Not even the other Avengers.
Yes, Ms. Marvel is the one to actually say this out loud. Weird.
Joining them is the resurrected Captain Mar-Vell. Together, they will make sure that the rest of the Avengers don't interfere with the Ascension.
The New Avengers #25
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Deodato & Will Conrad
Editor: Tom Brevoort
The issue in a nutshell:
Hundreds of years ago, Master Yu Ti, the August Personage in Jade, dreams of the death of K'un Lun and the rising of the red-haired female Iron Fist who will take on the Phoenix. He eventually finds a red-headed girl and has her begin training to become the next Iron Fist. In the present, Lei Kung the Thunderer reads about the Phoenix prophesy and what needs to be done to save the world.
The issue by bullet points:
• Phoenix Dreams involving the death of the Immortal City of K'un Lun happen. They also have a red-haired girl who seems to wield the power of the Iron Fist as well as that of the Phoenix.
• After much deliberating, Master Yu Ti, finds a red headed girl matching his dreams and starts her training to become the next Iron Fist.
• In the present, Lei Kung the Thunderer is allowed to read the Phoenix Prophecy in order to get this information to current Iron Fist, Danny Rand, and save the world.
• Yeah, there's not much to this but there are a lot of pretty pictures.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
In Avengers vs. X-Men #1, we witnessed the Phoenix Force annihilate a planet. Specifically, we watched a child looking over an alien farm turn to his father right before death burned them all up. In this book, we watch as a red haired girl looks out over a modern day, Earth-like farm. She turns to face someone and says "Yu Ti?" in a foreign language... possibly the language of K'un Lun. And then, the world burns in Phoenix flames.
Except that red-haired girl? Turns out she's able to hold her own against the Phoenix Force with a little help from a flaming dragon. Surrounded in flames, the girl is revealed as a host of the Phoenix... and also an Iron Fist.
But this is all a dream, one that happened centuries ago. The dreamer? The ruler of the Immortal City of K'un Lun, Yu Ti. While some of K'un Lun's inhabitants are actual immortals, Yu Ti is not one of them. Yu Ti is an inherited title.
Master Yu Ti has had this same dream many times and each time, it gets clearer. He believes this is prophesy and the prediction is the end of the world. As you can imagine, he obsesses over the details and writes down everything he can remember. That done, he tries to solve this riddled prophecy.
That means he walks around K'un Lun without a guard, unsettling the citizens of the city. They aren't used to their lord and master walking around by himself. Yu Ti wishes he could calm everyone down but he thinks it would be a lie. He believes they are all going to die from an unknown firebird.
Visiting Lei Kung the Thunder's dojo, he asks the martial arts instructor if any red-heads have shown up in the Immortal City. Being a city with mostly Chinese inhabitants, red-heads are... pretty rare. Lei Kung remembers seeing some during his last visit to Earth but none here. Since Yu Ti has no other information, he holds off on a more detailed search of the city.
The August Personage in Jade's next stop is the Scrying Vessel of Bo-Ling. This pool reveals to him what the flaming bird is: the Phoenix Force, a cosmic entity. This surprises no one but it's necessary storytelling. When asked to reveal who the red-head is, the Scrying Vessel does nothing.
Following this is yet another dream of the dragon girl fighting the Phoenix. Again, the red-haired girl stands in the end as both Phoenix and Iron Fist.
Yu Ti wakes up and feels compelled to walk the city unescorted. Lei Kung finds in and tries to get the Master of K'un Lun to take on a bodyguard but Yu Ti refuses. Before the August Personage in Jade can order Lei Kung back to the dojo, he sees a girl with red hair. Further investigation is required.
Approaching the girl's guardian (possibly mother?), Yu Ti strikes up a conversation that is more abrasive than it has to be simply because the guardian doesn't look up to see to whom she's talking. When she does, there are only apologies on her lips.
Yu Ti doesn't mind the rough words. He understands that the guardian was simply trying to look after her kid. It turns out that the red headed girl doesn't speak and has a serious rebellious streak. It's heavily implied that the girl's red hair and white skin is because her guardian slept around while on a visit to Earth but no one outright admits to anything.
No matter, Yu Ti has found a red-haired girl and that's enough. Preparations are made to deliver the girl to the temple. She is going to be trained up as the next Iron Fist, a position that has remained empty for seventy-five years.
In the present, Lei Kung reads out of the current Yu Ti's book, which reveals a prophecy involving the Phoenix, written down by the earlier Yu Ti (I'm surmising based on the evidence in the book). This is big-time important stuff. Lei Kung has to commit it to memory and then pass the information on to the current Iron Fist, Danny Rand. Not getting it correct could lead to the destruction of Earth... and that would destroy K'un Lun.
One illustrated page is shown, revealing a female Iron Fist with long red hair fighting a flaming demon in red robes (possibly the Phoenix?).
Everyone has their own Phoenix agenda.
Fantastic Four Annual #3
Writer: Stan Lee
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Finishes: Dick Ayers
Editor: Stan Lee
The issue in a nutshell:
Dr. Doom is so angry about his nemesis getting married that he invents a device that sends wave upon wave of villain at the Baxter Building in order to ruin the celebration. The day is saved by every super-hero guest star you can think of and a giant baby in a toga not following his people's self-imposed rules.
The issue by bullet points:
• Dr. Doom decides to ruin the wedding between Reed Richards and Sue Storm.
• Every villain winds up attacking the Baxter Building or any hero that comes close to the building.
• The Fantastic Four end up changing out of their wedding clothes and into their hero costumes to help fight off the villains.
• All of this is part of Dr. Doom's plot. The Latverian Dictator invented a device that causes all the bad guys to hate super weddings or something.
• After pages of chaotic fighting, the Watcher shows up, teleports away from the action with Reed in tow, and presents the super-genius with a number of devices that will end the attacks.
• After Reed selects one, Uatu sends Richards back to the fight.
• The device sends all of the villains back to where they were before they decided to mess with the Fantastic Four and friends.
• Weddings happen. Yay!
• Stan Lee and Jack Kirby aren't allowed into the reception hall.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
This issue was originally covered back in Super Reads Siege and Realm of Kings 4 to highlight one of Dr. Doom's many schemes. This time, we focus on yet another meeting between the X-Men and the Avengers. While there's a lot of fighting in this issue about wedded bliss, the mutants and heroes end up on the same side from the beginning.
Did I mention wedded bliss? That's right. This is the big wedding comic, finally uniting Reed Richards and Sue Storm in holy matrimony. Much like their engagement party, Reed and Sue end up inviting a who's who of Marvel's heroes.
But I'm getting well ahead of myself. The comic starts up with Dr. Doom reading about the wedding in the Daily Press newspaper. It drives him insane! RICHARDS!!! Succeeding in life where Doom can't, I guess.
Of course, Victor Von Doom must give a proper wedding gift. How does EVERY VILLAIN sound? Good?
The wedding between Reed and Sue is like the greatest celebrity wedding in the real world. That means the Baxter Building is surrounded by fans, paparazzi, and that weird guy that just continually turns in circles. And that's not even including the guest list of super-heroes, senators, and other famous celebrities. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things and the whole world's attention is focused on it.
That's right. There was once a time when the Fantastic Four was actually a big deal. Go pick up a couple Essentials or get digital copies of the first hundred issues or so and you'll see why. Trust me. Or don't... but they were what was happening in the Marvel Universe on a level that they've never achieved again.
Some Marvel guests begin to arrive, including Tony Stark in an AWESOME top hat. He makes it work. In the crowd of fans, Patsy Walker and Hedy Wolfe (from the Patsy Walker franchise of comic books) make their Marvel Universe debut. Eventually, Patsy becomes Hellcat and joins the super-hero party... but not today.
Today, the first villain makes his appearance and tries to cause trouble. The Puppet Master! The villain attempts to send in a mind controlled guest to cause havoc but the poor pawn doesn't even make it into the door. Nick Fury and the Agents of SHIELD take him out early. Man, with SHIELD acting as body guards, no one's gonna break in.
As the Puppet Master throws in the towel early, he reveals that he's acting as someone ELSE'S puppet. Doom is clearly behind this attack as well as pretty much every other one. While Puppet Master storms off, the Red Ghost and his Super Apes appear and get ready to cause mayhem!
After learning about Puppet Master's attack, Thing runs inside to warn Reed but he doesn't have the heart to ruin his best friend's day. Instead, he runs into Professor Xavier and unloads his burden on the X-Men's secret mentor. As he's talking, the floor smashes open as the Moleman and his minions attack.
Professor X calls in his X-Men and the mutant super-hero team makes short work of the underground army. They force the moloids back into their hole and then Iceman plugs it up with a block of ice. It may be a temporary solution but it'll get them through the wedding... unless, y'know, Moleman ends up drilling up somewhere else...
Meanwhile, Red Ghost and the Super Apes have made their move, attacking both Bride and Groom. Finally, the main cast of the FF gets to go into action! They still don't END this fight, though. Dr. Strange makes his appearance, using a spell to send the Communist and his Super Apes into another dimension.
Thing tells Reed about the other villain attacks and the Fantastic Four's leader tells everyone to keep on their toes for future attacks.
We cut to Dr. Doom as he uses an Emotion Machine to make everyone as pissed as he is about Reed and Sue's nuptuals. Villains around the world and even in other time periods are angry about it and intending to attack. I bet even Hitler is angry but with no time machine, he doesn't show.
It's getting so crazy that fights are happening well away from the Baxter Building. Thor ends up getting blasted by the Super Skrull before the thunder god even gets to the Baxter Building. The Human Torch joins the Avenger to take on the alien menace.
The rest of the Fantastic Four suits up in their super-hero gear to handle the various super-villain attacks, leaving their lawyer, Matt Murdock to tell their guests about this minor schedule shift. Instead, Matt passes the message off to his secretary, Karen Page, and his law partner, Foggy Nelson, in order to skip out and change into his costumed identity... Spider-Man!
I'm just kidding. Daredevil.
DD swings in just in time to stop a platoon of Hydra Agents who have decided to run a suicide mission, attempting to smash a truck loaded with a Vortex Bomb into the Baxter Building. The Man Without Fear fights off the terrorists until they all jump off the truck. Now, all the swashbuckling vigilante needs to do is drive a runaway truck. This would be easy if he wasn't blind.
At this point, the fighting is just sheer chaos. It all makes sense as you read it but I think I'd just confuse you if I tried to choreograph the action. Suffice it to say, a new hero or villain appears in nearly every panel. We get more Avengers, the X-Men re-enter the fight, and just about every villain you could possibly imagine from the Marvel Silver Age except for Magneto, who was off-planet at the time, and Namor, who was starring in his own series so wasn't up for playing the villain again (they give an in-story reason for his absence). Continuity!
With all of that happening, it's obviously time for Attuma and his undersea barbarian horde to lead an attack on the surface. This happens just as Daredevil has reached the waterfront with his Vortex Bomb payload. The truck goes in the water and an invading army is blowed up.
What this issue needs is more Uatu the Watcher. Even though he can only observe and NEVER INTERFERE, the Watcher calls Reed away from this fight to tell him how to end it. This guy follows his own rules less strictly than Captain Kirk obeyed the Prime Directive. The Watcher takes Mr. Fantastic to a lab filled with all sorts of alien inventions but decides that's as far as he should intervene. From here on in, Reed's gonna have to work it out for himself.
It's a good thing Richards is a super-genius. Reed grabs one of the crazy doodads and knows that this weapon will end all the fighting. Uatu teleports the human right back into the fray. Reed activates the device... which turns out to be a time displacer. Used correctly, it'll teleport all the villains back to where they were before they got involved in this fight.
Richards uses it correctly. He's REED RICHARDS. He's only made one mistake ever and that gave him and his family super-powers. So it's almost like a success.
With the fight over, the wedding is able to proceed.
Finally, Sue Storm and Reed Richards tie the knot in the Merry Marvel Manner.
As the reception begins, Nick Fury is informed that two guys are trying to crash the festivities. He goes out to deal with them, personally kicking them out of the building.
As the two party crashers walk into the city, we learn that they are none other than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
And that's another Avengers/X-Men encounter out of the way. It's crazy and I really recommend giving it a read some time if you can get yourself a copy. If modern comic creators could pull off such complicated fight scenes, I would be impressed as hell.
And that, my people, is all I'm writing. I hope you enjoyed yourself. Maybe you even learned something!
Have a good week!