Twists! Turns! The Wolverine! What more could an AvX reader ask for?
If you are new to the wonder that is Super Reads, here's how this works: I read a Marvel Event comic book (in this case, Avengers vs. X-Men) and then I write it all down, spoiling the hell out of it. I 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 everyone in comics is a moron. It's magical.
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.
You may have heard that the Phoenix is coming. That's because the PHOENIX IS COMING! In this case, we're talking about the cosmic firebird that sometimes likes to be hosted by mutant redheads. What you need to know is that everyone talking about the Phoenix in the comics is giving an overly simplified version of events that doesn't accurately reflect that story of the Phoenix.
For one thing, the Phoenix that dressed up as Jean Grey up until the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga? That wasn't ACTUALLY Jean Grey. It was really the cosmic entity itself dressed up in a human suit, experiencing life through mortal eyes but with all of the real Jean Grey's memories and personality. It gets confusing because it was not originally MEANT to not be Jean. When the story was written, that was Jean. She died.
But you know how everyone returns from the dead in comics? That's how the original story got its major retcon. In order for Jean Grey to be brought back to life, she had to be completely disconnected from the actions of the Phoenix, particularly the part where the creature went evil, super-nova'd a sun and burned an inhabited planet to a cinder. In comics, this is easily done! Jean Grey was found in a pod at the bottom of Jamaica Bay near the JFK Airport and it was explained that the Phoenix Force had taken her form and identity in-between panels of Uncanny X-Men #101. The Phoenix itself believed it was Jean Grey so it all fit together perfectly.
And it's all Kurt Busiek's fault! :P
This even also rewrites the Phoenix's whole purpose... or maybe it just isn't giving us an accurate look at what the cosmic bird is all about. From the first page of AvX #1, the Phoenix is doing it's best "Galactus on a binge" impersonation, destroying planet after planet on it's way to Earth. Sure, it's leaving new life (or something) in its wake but the Phoenix has never been so murderous before. I mean, it looks like it's specifically killing planets which is NOT what even the Dark Phoenix did. Killing a planet was just one of the unintended consequences for blowing up a sun.
So while I'm enjoying the hell out of this event, some of the details continue to bug me. It's like the platoon of writers responsible for the event didn't even research anything. They just saw a concept that would make for a cool event and then rewrote it to suit their needs. And maybe they never read the original X-Factor series. Or check wikipedia. Or care.
But hey, we get Cap smashing mutants in the face with his mighty shield!
Avengers vs. X-Men #4
Writers: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman
Script: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Scott Hanna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Click HERE to see Super Read Avengers vs. X-Men #3!
The issue in a nutshell:
Hope recruits Wolverine to help her get to the Moon and kill her if the Phoenix makes her evil. Logan calls up Captain America the first chance he gets and tells Steve Hope's plan (which is telepathically overheard by Emma Frost. Everyone meets on the Moon just in time for the Phoenix Force's arrival.
This issue by bullet points:
• Wolverine wears a dead polar bear across Antarctica, following a trail of frozen beer. At the end of the trail is Hope Summers.
• The Space Avengers lose their fight against the Phoenix. Thor alone keeps on fighting and watches as the Phoenix Force detonates a planet.
• Even though Logan is set on killing the mutant messiah, he kinda sorta agrees to help her get to the moon. He flies their jet while Hope takes a nap.
• Emma Frost takes telepathic control over Toad to access the Jean Grey School Cerebra. After giving us a rundown on a bunch of random Avengers/ X-Men fights, she focuses in on Captain America in the Savage Land.
• Steve Rogers is fighting Gambit while talking to Tony on his headset. Stark is making a Phoenix-Killer.
• Wolverine and Hope infiltrate AIM Worldworks to steal a spaceship.
• Everyone meets on the Moon for a "final battle" situation. Wolverine called in the Avengers. Emma got the details from Captain America's brain.
• Before anyone can throw a punch, Thor crashlands nearby. The Phoenix Force is here.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
OK, let's get this out of the way before we go any further: Polar Bears don't live in Antarctica. They are northern hemisphere animals. PENGUINS live in Antarctica and other southern hemisphere locales. It's a super common mistake made by pretty much every writer in existance (Gary Larson even made the "mistake" in The Far Side but that was to get out a joke and I'm pretty sure he knew what he was doing). In this particular case, FIVE writers never even batted an eyelash at it. NUMEROUS editors. It's a little sad and it's been covered to death by internet fansites ever since this issue came out.
Regardless, Wolverine is trudging around Antarctica using a dead polar bear carcass to stay slightly warmer than freezing. Logan is stomping through the snow and ice, following a trail of deposited beer cans. They're frozen but it's the thought that counts. At the end of this trail of beers is Hope Summers, standing right next to a nice warm jet. She's been dropping the liquid refreshment to the X-Avenger so that they could meet up here and chat.
So, obviously, the first thing she dropped was the polar bear. It all makes perfect sense.
You know what would have even made more sense? Hope flying down and just talking to Logan. I guess the frozen beer was to calm the psychotic mutant so that he wouldn't immediately try to kill her? I don't know. It seems extra convoluted for no reason, especially since the first thing Logan does (after dropping all the frozen beer cans) is pop his claws in order to kill the mutant messiah.
In Deep Space on the inner rim of the Eridanian System, the Space Avengers float, defeated by the Phoenix Force. The only Avenger still fighting is Thor, god of thunder and disco dancing. He says thee nay.
After tossing his hammer at the cosmic firebird, Thor watches as the Phoenix Force zips away to a nearby planet. In moments, the planet explodes. Thor looks shocked. SHOCKED!
Let's go back to Antarctica to witness Wolverine killing a teenage girl. No, not really. Even though Logan got booted out of a Quinjet for insisting that lethal force was the only way to deal with Hope, the newest potential host for the Phoenix has a way to calm even the most savage of beasts. It's call cold (but NOT frozen) beer. She explains that her fake ID came from Wolverine's own school, issued by Kid Omega.
But let's get down to business. Hope goes over her plan. First, she's going to become the new host of the Phoenix. Next, she's gonna revitalize the mutant race. After that, I'm sure we'll see a number of rebooted books, ended books, and... well, you know how these events end. Why is she here to pick up Wolverine? She's concerned that she MIGHT be wrong about how this is going down and wants Logan around to kill her if the Phoenix proves too influential.
Logan finishes his beer, asks a bunch of questions and remains as non-committal as possible. Hope lets him fly the jet while she takes a nap. She hasn't slept in a long time and nearly crashed this ship on the way to Antarctica. I'm sure she gives Logan more direction than is written but for instruction, she simply says "We're gonna need a bigger ship."
Cyclops and Emma Frost are hanging out at an abandoned Hellfire Club Safe House after sending all of their troops into the field to find Hope. If you'll remember, last issue Hope used a device to scramble her mutant signature, sending both Avengers and X-Men to key locations around the globe on the wildest of all goose chases. As I mentioned at the time, the scrambler wouldn't have been very good if one of those signatures was ACTUALLY her. It's good. Hope is obviously not at any of these spots but that doesn't mean that the Avengers and X-Men haven't sent teams out to each one to look around and... well, they fight. Pointlessly.
Everyone likes a good fight!
But back to Cyclops and Emma. They are NOT out on in the field because Cyclops is big picturing this thing. To that end, Emma telepathically uses loyal Jean Grey School Custodial Engineer, Toad, to access the school's Cerebra and get a look at each of these fights.
Um... none of this matters, by the way. As I said, Hope's not here. Avengers are fighting X-Men just for the fun of it. These aren't incredibly choreographed fights, either. It's just like a snapshot of what's going on and then we more on to the next snapshot until we get to something in the comic that is actually relevant. Some of these battles are revealed in more detail (which may or may not conflict with the fights we see here) in one tie-in comic or another.
In Wakanda, Black Widow, Quicksilver, Iron Fist, and the Black Panther fight Danger, Magma, Storm, Dr. Nemesis, and Rachel Summers.
In Tabula Rasa (located in Montana), Luke Cage and the Thing fight Namor, Hepzibah, and Sunspot (for more on this, see Uncanny X-Men #12, below!).
In Latveria, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Mockingbird fight Colossus, Domino, and Dazzler (for the Spidey/ Colossus fight, see AVX VS #2, below!).
At Wundagore Mountain, Rulk, Hawkeye, and Dr. Strange fight Magneto, Iceman, Angel, and Psylocke.
In the Savage Land, Captain America, and Giant-Man fight X-Man, Warpath, Gambit, and Magik (for the Captain America/Gambit fight, see AVX VS #2, below... or just check out how it ends by reading on).
Not finding Hope in any of these places, Emma decides to keep paying attention to Captain America to see if she can learn anything from America's Top Cop. Rogers kicks the snot out of Warpath and then gets the priveledge of fighting Remy Lebieu. The good Captain is multitasking, fighting mutants while also talking to Iron Man through his headset. Tony Stark is still back at Avengers Tower, constructing a Phoenix-Killer device. Tony tries to explain HOW he's doing this using as much techno-babble as possible and I'm not even going to try to paraphrase it. Smart man make space firebird killer. Grah.
In the middle of the talk, Cap makes Gambit taste his shield.
That's three issues and three shield smashes. Who's gonna get it next issue?
After defeating Gambit, Cap gets a call on the other line. He orders his Avengers to fall back. They don't need to look for the mutant messiah any longer. Rogers knows where to find her.
And because of Emma's telepathic link, so do the X-Men.
If you were to look for Hope right now, you'd find her at AIM Worldworks, one of the many headquarters of Advanced Idea Mechanics. She and Wolverine are killing a whole lot of scientists wearing beekeeper costumes until only one AIM Scientist is left standing and unspoiled. This guy is VERY happy to help the two mutants in exchange for not having his flesh pierced with claws or bullets.
Hope and Wolverine have just acquired a spaceship! They launch the thing and fly it directly to the Moon. It's a nine hour trip.
Their specific destination is the Blue Area of the Moon. If you are unfamiliar with the Marvel Universe, the Blue Area of the Moon is a popular destination because it's the only place on the Moon with a breathable atmosphere. Hope and Wolverine exit the spaceship. The mutant messiah can sense that the Phoenix is ALMOST here.
And then: DOUBLE CROSS!
Remember when Hope took that nap? Wolverine used the time to send his good friend Captain America a message. I guess Logan gave up on the idea of killing Hope and decided to stick to Cap's plan: get Hope off Earth. That was also Hope's plan so I guess everyone was on the same page. Go team.
The X-Men (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Namor, and Magik) arrive and just for fun, Cyclops announces their arrival by shooting Logan in the head. EVERYONE should do that. :D
Before everyone can fight for the right to... um, watch Hope absorb the Phoenix Force? I guess that's what they're gonna do... well, before they can do that, Thor crash lands nearby. The Thing rushes over to see if the thunder god is ok and Thor just points at the sky.
Hope lights on fire (cosmically) and announces that the Phoenix is here. Just in case that wasn't good enough for everyone, the Phoenix Force lights up the sky above them.
AVX VS #2
Writer: Steve McNiven
Penciler: Steve NcNiven
Inker: John Dell
Editor: Nick Lowe
Click HERE to see Super Read AVX VS #1!
The issue in a nutshell:
Gambit takes on Captain America in the Savage Land. Remy loses after Steve Rogers starts paying attention. No-one is hit in the head with a shield.
The issue by bullet points:
• Gambit fights Captain America as Rogers talks to Tony Stark on his cellular telephone.
• After kinetically charging Captain America's scale mail armor, Remy thinks he's defeated a Super-Soldier.
• Instead, he's just made Cap angry and focused.
• Gambit, he does lose this fight.
• Cap gets the call from Wolverine.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
In the Avengers corner: Captain America! America Top Cop and hero of World War II, Steve Rogers is pretty much impossible to beat in hand-to-hand combat unless maybe you're a ninja... and even then odds are in Cap's favor. The super-soldier formula gives him peak human strength. He's a tactical genius. Honestly, when he's not weighed down with too much responsibilities, Steve Rogers is the god of winning.
In the X-Men corner, Gambit! Remy Lebieu is a New Orleans orphan raised as heir apparent of the Thieves Guild. His mutant power is the ability to kinetically charge any non-organic object. Gambit is one of the best X-Men when it comes to armed combat. The guy is pretty damn great. A product of the nineties, Remy is hated by fanboys who fear and hate anything that came out of that decade. Writers seem to have forgotten how to write him because he is a LOT more deep than you'd think.
So we already know how this one's gonna end because we watched it happen in Avengers vs. X-Men #4. Gambit loses and I have no problem with that. Cap is clearly the superior fighter here even though Remy is no slouch in the combat department. The only thing that even makes this thing last as many pages as it does is the fact that Steve Rogers is trying to hold a conversation with Tony Stark the whole time.
You might have thought you caught the entire fight in AvX #4... and you'd be right! Still, let's see what happens when the artistic genious, Steve McNiven, blows the fight up into half of a comic.
Here's the fun stuff: Cap throws his shield. Gambit catches it, charges it up, and sends it back at the super-soldier. The reason the shield doesn't blow up is because of its unique construction of vibranium steel. Also: it's indestructible.
Steve leaps over the explosion and charges Remy, breaking the thief's staff and throwing the mutant up against a tree.
And here comes the next fun part: Gambit charges up Cap's scale mail, surprising the Avengers leader with an explosion that he just can't leap over. As the pink smoke clears up a bit, Gambit thinks he's just won this fight but... not so much.
Steve decides to stop talking to Tony long enough to defeat Gambit. Facing a focused Captain America, Gambit doesn't stand a chance. With Lebieu knocked out, Cap has the time to check his OTHER phone. I swear, this guy has too many communication devices. This one is Wolverine, calling to tell him where to find Hope. Captain America orders the Avengers to pull back... and then asks if someone can get him his spare Cap suit.
The WINNAH: Captain America! Duh. Three wins for the Avengers.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Editor: Nick Lowe
The issue in a nutshell:
After fighting some Doombots, Spider-Man fights Colossus. After Daredevil confirms that Hope isn't in Latveria, Spidey runs away.
The issue by bullet points:
• In Latveria, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Daredevil, and Mockingbird finish up a fight with a bunch of Doombots.
• Some X-Men arrive and the Avengers split up to fight them individually.
• Spider-Man gets to fight Colossus.
• After getting tossed around like a ragdoll, Spidey gets up and declares that he'll NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER!!!
• Daredevil arrives, tells Spider-Man that Hope isn't in Latveria and the Wall-Crawler gives up. I mean... he leaves.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
In the Avengers Corner: The Amazing Spider-Man! After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gained all sorts of wacky Spider-Man powers. After learning about power and responsibility, the Web-Spinner decided to fight all manner of super-villains and to work at the Daily Bugle as much as possible. Currently, Spider-Man is a member of the New Avengers team, they're the part-time Avengers that work under Luke Cage.
In the X-Men Corner: Colossus! Piotr Rasputin can change his skin into organic steel, making him super-strong and super-resilient to damage. As a result of the X-Men tying into Fear Itself, Colossus was also imbued with the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, becoming the Avatar of Cyttorak. Basically, he's the new Juggernaut. Double the power. His Juggernaut abilities are proving to be harder to keep under wraps than they were for Cain Marko.
The setting? Latveria. You may know it better as the home of Dr. Doom. Usually, the Avengers can only enter the country for U.N. Sanctioned Peacekeeping Operations and the like. In this case, the Avengers are playing fast and loose with their mandate, showing up probably with the excuse that they are in hot pursuit of a mutant fugitive or something. It won't matter. Doom isn't a friendly host.
The Avengers team, comprised of Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Daredevil, and Mockingbird, have already defeated numerous Doombots before we even make the scene. No sooner is one battle done than another begins. The X-Men are here!
The Avengers split up. Daredevil races off to look for Hope. Spider-Woman squares off with Dazzler. Mockingbird takes on Domino.
Spider-Man faces the Unstoppable Colossus.
So much history! Spider-Man's fights against the original Juggernaut are always good entertainment. The skinny? Spider-Man couldn't beat Juggy but fighting the unbeatable opponent showed you some of Spidey's character that didn't come out in many other situations. The Web-Slinger just wouldn't stand aside and let Juggernaut do his thing. Power meets Responsibility and awesome comics were the result.
Colossus is power on a whole different level. Not only does Piotr have Juggernaut's strength, he has his original strength. If that all stacks, you're dealing with someone that Spider-Man couldn't hope to stop. And that's what we get to watch. No matter what Peter Parker does, Colossus is seriously unstoppable. Spidey gets tossed around like a rag doll.
You know what else gets tossed around? Broken Doombots. It seems like they were contracted out to the lowest bidder because they EXPLODE when they hit things. The Friendly Neighborhood yadda yadda tries to return one of those Doombots to sender but Colossus gives the robot a punch and the explosion seems to be directed AWAY from Piotr and right into Spidey.
Here it comes people. It's that moment in the fight where a clearly overmatched Spider-Man gets up from his latest fall and announces that he won't give up! He won't surrender! Spider-Man is unstoppable because he has to be!
Before Colossus can hit Spider-Man some more, Daredevil shows up and tells Peter that Hope is NOT in Latveria. OK, cool. The two heroes swing away to fight someone a little less unstoppable.
The WINNAH: Colossus! That's one victory for the X-Men! Finally!!!
Uncanny X-Men #12
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Editor: Nick Lowe
Click HERE to see Super Read Uncanny X-Men #11!
The issue in a nutshell:
Namor, Hepzibah, and Sunspot are sent to Tabula Rasa to find Hope. Instead, they find a big fight with Luke Cage, Thing, and She-Hulk. Namor and Thing's rematch makes the locals think the two are getting ready to mate.
The issue by bullet points:
• Cyclops sends the X-Men out to find Hope.
• The Tabula Rasa team is comrised of Namor, Hepzibah, and Sunspot.
• Namor and Hepzibah decide to have sex after all the fighting.
• Luke Cage crashes his Quinjet in Tabula Rasa after something slimy flies into the jet intake.
• Oh. Someone forgot that She-Hulk is also on stake out duty at the Jean Grey School.
• We're all surprised when the X-Men attack the Avengers! I know! Shocking.
• Namor handily beats Luke Cage and then starts up against Thing for a little rematch action.
• The fight is interrupted when a local scientist thing tells Namor and Thing that it wants to watch their mating ritual to its conclusion.
• Magik arrives to collect Namor (but leaves Hepzibah and Sunspot). There's a battle on the Moon that requires the Sub-Mariner's attention.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
This issue starts BEFORE AvX #4 but AFTER AvX #3. The X-Men have all gathered at an undisclosed location and are set to find Hope. Cyclops gives a pretty good motivational speech (the world's against us but the world is ALWAYS against us-- hey, I liked it) and then opens the floor to questioning. When Storm asks about the kids who've been captured, Scott tells her that the X-Kids ARE in custody but are at least SAFE. If they don't STAY safe, that'll be something the Avengers will also have to answer for.
With that said, it's time to tell everyone where they're going to look for Hope.
Some of the team load outs are slightly altered from what we saw in AvX #4. For example, Team Wundagore still includes Magneto and Psylocke but is missing Iceman and Angel and has ADDED Boom Boom.
What we're interested in is the Tabula Rasa team. That's the one that is made up of Namor the Sub-Mariner, Sunspot, and Hepzibah. It's an unlikely team-up of characters. You've got Namor, the classic anti-hero with roots back to the Golden Age. You have the New Mutant, Sunspot. And then you have the former Starjammer and resident alien, Hepzibah. She used to date Scott Summers' father, Corsair, for a reference.
And now, she's very interested in some sexual action with the king of Atlantis. Namor, being NAMOR, is interested. That's because he's a man-whore. A regal man-whore, but a man-whore nonetheless. Roberto Dacosta watches the two make plans for the after-battle and just smiles. He claims to have a rep all his own but I'm pretty sure Roberto's rep is all about getting turned down by anyone he's interested in. Maybe I missed something.
While Magik teleports this team to Tabula Rasa, let me take some time to tell you a little bit about the place. Tabula Rasa is a pretty new locale in the Marvel Universe. It's the product of an Uncanny X-Force storyline where Archangel, freaked out on evil Apocalypse juice, wiped out all life in a particular area of Montana and then allowed Dark Beast to build up new lifeforms in the area using super-evolution and speeding up time in that particular zone. The result was sentient life unlike anything else on the planet.
We check in on one particular sentient creature who seems to be some sort of scientist-guardian. This guy detects the presence of outsiders and leaps in to investigate.
These outsiders aren't the X-Men. It's actually the Avengers. Luke Cage crashed his Quinjet into Tabula Rasa when one poor flying thing flew right into the Quinjet's engine intake.
Here again, we get a slightly altered Avengers crew than the one listed in AvX #4. Instead of just being Luke and Thing, we also have powerhouse She-Hulk added to the mix. This flies right into the fact that she's on stakeout duty RIGHT NOW at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning. I'm assuming that's why she wasn't included in the main book but you gotta wonder why she's here when X-Men Legacy and Uncanny share the SAME EDITOR.
Anyway, the Avengers travel on foot to where Hope's mutant signature is apparently coming from and then head right into a foreboding cave. No-one thinks this is a good idea, particularly the scientist-guardian local who is following their movements.
In another part of Tabula Rasa, the X-Men are contacting their allies in the region. These are some of the aquatic creatures living in the lake. Namor has formed an alliance with the creatures' queen... and bedded her, too. Man-whore. Hepzibah is super-excited to be the next lady to have sex with the Sub-Mariner.
Meanwhile, the Avengers have NOT found Hope.
Working together, the team of heroes defeates the disgusting centipede monster only to find that it's only one of many creatures that they'll be fighting in this crazy land. As they squash bugs, the X-Men take a safer route through Tabula Rasa and eventually find the heroes.
Namor and Sunspot fly into combat but Hepzibah sticks around long enough to ask the Queen what Namor is like in bed. Kinky.
Namor gets a couple rematches here. The first one is with Luke Cage. The Sub-Mariner repays Cage's surprise attack in AvX #2 with a surprise attack all his own. Cage is tossed into a nearby pool of water.
Somehow, Hepzibah shows up ahead of Sunspot, shooting her two pistols at the Thing and setting Grimm up for Dacosta's sneak attack from the other direction. It doesn't work. Ben Grimm figures out what's going on and delivers the mother of all punches on Sunspot.
Underwater, Namor's fight with Luke Cage continues. Even though Cage is outmatched, the Avenger keeps on fighting to the end... of consciousness.
On the surface, She-Hulk has beaten up Hepzibah. Before Sunspot can get some revenge, Thing drops a tree on the New Mutant. It's all down to Namor.
To take down She-Hulk, the Sub-Mariner beats her up with Luke Cage's unconscious form. And now, it's Thing versus Namor. Round Two.
Round One showed up in AVX VS #1. Thing won. Kind of. It was a lame victory. Don't expect this to be any more conclusive. EXPECT it to be emotionally charged. These two have issues.
And while they engage in Clobberin' Time, that scientist-guardian guy observes from a distance. He can't imagine why these two are slugging it out with such gusto... such emotion...
And then he figures it out. It's just so obvious. When he gets too close, he just has to tell them what they are doing.
Namor and Thing are clearly getting ready to mate. And this scientist-guardian guy wants to watch.
Is anyone going to make the obvious "Greg Land is perfect to draw this since his art is all copied from pornos" joke? Just me? I'm OK with that.
As both Thing and Namor are stunned into silence, Magik shows up to collect the Sub-Mariner. Hope has been located. Namor happily leaves this awkward situation. Hepzibah and Sunspot are left to their fate.
In the abandoned Hellfire Club Safe House, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Namor, and Magik are gathered. They're headed to the Moon. This is where the Phoenix sacrificed it's mortal life (as Jean Grey) back at the conclusion of the Dark Phoenix Saga (Uncanny X-Men #137). So the place has a history with the Phoenix and it's tragic. Cyclops tells the team that THIS time, they're going to get it RIGHT.
We'll see about that. We're only a third of the way through this event.
The Avengers #26
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Walter Simonson
Inker: Scott Hanna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Click HERE to see Super Read The Avengers #25!
The issue in a nutshell:
After the Space Avengers fail to capture the Phoenix in the Phoenix Cage, the Protector analyzes all the data on the attempt and figures out that they can do it with the help of Thor's hammer. After capturing a small bit of the Phoenix Force in the PC, the Protector betrays the Avengers because he has to deliver the essense to the Kree.
The issue by bullet points:
• Captain America assembles some Avengers for a suicide mission in space. The mission? Stop the Phoenix Force before it's on Earth's doorstep.
• Noh-Varr says good-bye to his Earth girlfriend.
• The Space Avengers fail but no one dies.
• The Protector looks over the data from their mission and realizes that Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, is capable of sucking up Phoenix energy.
• Thor makes another attempt and capturing the Phoenix Force in the Phoenix Cage.
• It turns out the device isn't supposed to capture the whole thing but only a portion of the Phoenix Force's power. This leads to success.
• Before anyone can celebrate, the Protector grabs the Phoenix Cage and announces that he's going to bring it to the Kree Homeworld. He looks sad about it.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
Since the first issue of Avengers vs. X-Men, there's been a team of Avengers out in outer space trying to prevent the Phoenix Force from reaching Earth. No one really thought this team would succeed and AvX #4 proves that they DON'T. Still, they have a story to tell and most of it is going to be revealed in the Secret Avengers tie-in issues to AvX.
And after the Secret Avengers story, the tale will continue in this comic. So, y'know, extra spoilers since only one Secret Avengers issue has come out so far.
But to make things even more confusing? This comic also catches up with the team BEFORE they leave Earth. So it takes place all over the timeline. Here are your Space Avengers: Vision, Captain Britain, Valkyrie, Thor, the Protector, War Machine, Ms. Marvel, and Beast. Their impossible mission? To stop the Phoenix from reaching Earth. Cap tells them straight up that their mission is suicidal by its very nature but like good heroes, they all step right up to the plate.
The team gets a bit of free time before going off to die so they can tie up any loose ends in their lives. For the Protector, that means visiting his Earth girlfriend, Annie. The two first met back during the Dark Reign in the first and only Dark Avengers Annual. It was magic. He meets up with his girl in the city and flies her up to a rooftop to say his good-byes.
Noh-Varr tells Annie that his latest adventure is most likely a suicide mission off planet and that his odds of returning to Earth are getting lower all the time. Still, he promises that if he has the option, he'll come back to her. It's about as good an offer as Annie's going to get from him. Before departing, Noh gives Annie a tiny crystal, promising to explain it if he returns to her.
With that done, he puts on his super-suit, gives her a kiss and while still kissing her, turns into stars. If I could pull off that trick, I'd do it ALL THE TIME. It would be awesome.
We catch up with the Space Avengers as they are leaving Earth on the way to their destinies. Everyone rides inside the space ready Quinjet except Thor.
OK, the preparation stuff is done. This is where you can insert the Secret Avengers issues. Yes, all of them. When they come out.
THE SPACE AVENGERS FAIL! FAIL!!!
Yeah, we already knew that because was saw them all floating in space over in AvX #4. This is apparently an early time when they all floated in space after being defeated by the Phoenix Force. I guess they do that a lot.
If you're wondering what their plans were and you haven't read Secret Avengers, then here's the skinny: the team was trying to catch the Phoenix Force in a Phoenix Cage. It's a device designed and built by Hank McCoy (Beast) and Brian Braddock (Captain Britain) that looks like a techno-backpack. In the first outing, it was worn by War Machine but the Phoenix got wise to it's impending capture and broke loose. Captain Britain tried using the P-Cage next but his magical energy proved an incompatible power source for the Cage.
We'll see what else happens to the team and their attempt at stopping the Phoenix Force over in those issues of Secret Avengers. For now, we just get to know that they have NOT captured the Phoenix Force but they also haven't died. No, not even War Machine who looked pretty bad in Secret Avengers #26.
After sending a message to Earth to tell everyone how unsuccessful they've been, the team... sulks.
After landing the Quinjet on a remote planet, Noh-Varr looks over everything they did to figure out why the Phoenix Cage wasn't successful. What he learns is that Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, is actually capable of absorbing the Phoenix's energy. What's more, it's BETTER at it than the Phoenix Cage. With some slight modifications to the P-Cage, Thor is ready to try one more time to capture the Phoenix.
The thunder god attempts this alone. It's a huge cosmic battle with lots of space flames and hammer throws. When it's over, the Phoenix Cage is filled to capacity.
Now, here's where I think we all might have been confused. When you send a team up into space to stop the Phoenix Force and they're equipped with a device called the "Phoenix Cage," I guess I just expect them to fit the entire cosmic entity inside the thing. I guess that's incorrect. They've only gathered up a sample of the Phoenix to bring back to Earth to have analyzed so that a proper defense/offense can be made.
The good news is that after taking damage, the Phoenix Force flies off so the Avengers don't have to deal with an enraged cosmic firebird.
When Thor is brought back into the Quinjet, everyone finally has some hope that everything is going to be ok. The Phoenix Cage holds the key to destroying the Phoenix Force and now they just have to fly home so that the Avengers Super-Scientists can save the day using Super-Science!
There's one small problem. This is where the Protector shows his true allegiance to the Kree Supreme Intelligence. Last issue, the Supreme Intelligence order Noh to collect some Phoenix stuff for the Kree. Even though this is an inter-dimensional Supreme Intelligence, I guess it has plans for the Phoenix Force. The Protector reluctantly announces his orders and then pulls a gun on his teammates.
At least he doesn't look happy at his betrayal.
Avengers Academy #30
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Cory Hamscher
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Click HERE to see Super Read Avengers Academy #29!
The issue in a nutshell:
Everyone at Avengers Academy chooses sides on whether or not it's right to hold a bunch of mutant children in protective custody. Sebastian Shaw beats up all of the grown-ups and then meets the kids on the beach. His intentions are murky but he just might be planning on killing all of Emma Frost's students.
The issue by bullet points:
• The Avengers Academy students with mutant powers (and Hazmat) meet to discuss whether they should stand with the Utopia kids or support the Avengers. They're leaning mutie, except for Hazmat and X-23.
• Tigra, Hercules, and Madison Jeffries make plans to recapture Sebastian Shaw.
• Hazmat and X-23 keep talking about what the right course of action is in the Avengers/X-Men war.
• Shaw defeats Jeffries.
• Finesse explains why Hope is either the savior of mutantkind or the destroyer of worlds.
• Shaw defeats Hercules.
• The Utopia Kids try leaving Avengers Academy and have to face off against the Academy students except for the ones that side with their fellow mutants.
• Oh, someone also decided that Sentinel was a good thing to keep on the campus.
• Shaw defeats Tigra.
• X-23 chooses to stand with the Utopia kids and gets the Sentinel to leave.
• Sebastian Shaw shows up on the beach to confront all of the kids.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
Not every mutant in the world calls either Utopia or the Jean Grey School home. Some of them hang out in X-Factor. Some others are actually students at Avengers Academy. This is why Whiz Kid, Ricochet, X-23, and Hazmat are meeting in the Student Lounge. Whiz Kid has called them together for the purpose of mutant solidarity with their fellow captured mutants.
Before you run off to wikipedia to check on whether Hazmat is a mutant or not, I'll tell you. She's not. She's here because she's Japanese and Whiz Kid is relating the Utopia kids' situation to the Japanese Internment Camps circa World War II. There are obvious differences. The Utopia kids aren't being kept in quite as harsh conditions and they're all underage and technically in protective custody.
Still, a cage is still a cage even if they do get cable television and internet access. They get those in prison, too, after all. Hazmat isn't convinced by this argument. You know who ELSE isn't convinced? X-23.
And to be honest? Me. I mean, yeah, I get it. These kids shouldn't be locked up just because of where they chose to live or because they're all mutants. If this was a PERMANENT situation, I'd be all up in arms about it. But the fact is that their legal guardians are kind of on the opposite side of the government sanctioned heroes. Whether you are on the X-Men's side or the Avengers, that statement is still true. When parents get arrested, the kids go through this kind of transition. It's crappy but hopefully other family members are found who can care for the minors. It just takes time.
And with THIS MANY kids, I don't really see many other options.
We're dealing with mostly teenagers here, though, so I GET their frustration. It's understandable and natural. They don't have to like it. They SHOULDN'T like it. But that doesn't make it morally wrong. It just makes it a crappy situation for everyone involved.
Meanwhile, the adults are busy leaving the kids to their own self-destructive devices so that they can deal with a bigger problem. It wasn't only children that were brought to Avengers Academy. The Avengers also brought along Madison Jeffries and Dr. Kavita Rao to chaperone the mutant kids. Oh, and a recently mindwiped Sebastian Shaw.
In his day, Shaw was one of the greatest threats the X-Men could face. He was rich and without any real loyalties to mutantkind. He was only loyal to himself and maybe the Hellfire Club. Shaw's memories and personality were scrubbed clean by Emma Frost and he was let loose in China. After about ten seconds, Hope found him and brought the former villain back to Utopia. No one was very happy about this but Cyclops pretty much let Hope do whatever she wanted.
After getting a write up on all of Shaw's previous misdeeds, Hope decided to share all of this information with the amnesiac Shaw. So he knows what he did and who he was but doesn't REMEMBER it.
When Sebastian was brought the Avengers Academy, he agreed to be locked up but spent most of the evening gathering up enough strength to escape his cell. Now, Tigra, Hercules, and Madison Jeffries are making plans to hunt down the mutant because he's SEBASTIAN SHAW. At worst, he might take revenge against Emma Frost wiping his mind by killing all of her students.
Kavita Rao agrees to coordinate everyone from the control room. The rest split up to stop the dangerous mutant, making sure to tell NONE of the kids what's going on. Recipe for delicious disaster.
Out on the school grounds, Hazmat meets up with X-23. They talk briefly about the Avengers/X-Men situation and we quickly learn that X-23 doesn't know what to think about the whole thing. It baffles her. They look on as Mettle ground surfs with a little help from Loa and Hazmat wishes she could figure things out as quickly as her boyfriend. She talks about how she freaked out on Mettle when the two made a botched attempt at sex. It's because Hazmat's powers leaped into existance when she was with her last boyfriend. It's tramatic but Mettle thinks it's because of how he looks.
Down in the Lower storm drains, Madison Jeffries faces Sebastian Shaw. Madison is all armored up and thinks he's prepared for this fight but it turns out he's totally not. Jeffries thinks that Shaw can only absorb kinetic energy but that isn't so. Sebastian can absorb ANY energy but finds it easier with the kinetic variety. It's a short fight and Madison loses.
X-23's adventure to form an opinion on Avengers vs. X-Men leads her to Finesse for information on the cause of this war. Finesse gives the confusing backstory on Hope. This is everything about her being the mutant messiah, destined to either restart the mutant race or destroy the whole planet. Finesse even brings up Bishop and how his timeline was the result of Hope doing the destruction thing.
In the end, there's no conclusive proof on what the outcome will be with Hope or the Phoenix but Finesse's look at the Phoenix's past has her leaning more on the Avengers' philosophy in this matter. None of this REALLY matters in this situation, though, because X-23's problem is one of loyalty rather than what's going on with the Phoenix. X-23 expresses her disatisfaction in the current situation with the Utopia kids being held in protective custody and being denied any choice in the matter.
Still, she hasn't decided what to do about it yet. This is too bad because the situation is coming to a head. On the beach, the X-Kids are squaring off against the Avengers Kids.
In Sub-basement Two, Sebastian Shaw encounters the Mighty Hercules. Herc uses his Olympian tricks, like his Shield of Perseus which turns whoever looks at it to stone, but Shaw is smart enough to look away when the shield is uncovered. When Hercules swings the Sword of Peleus through Sebastian's gut, it turns out that Shaw is able to absorb the magic power from the sword. So nothing Hercules has brought to this fight is working and we already know Herc's strength isn't gonna do it. Our Greek hero is defeated.
On the beach, the kids are all set to duke it out. Some of the Utopia kids want to leave under the pretense of getting some food in town. That's not allowed and the Avengers students are trying to stop them from leaving. When Whiz Kid, Ricochet and Hollow (or Penance) show up, they complicate matters by siding with their fellow mutants. Mutant Powah!
When Crosta leaps for the water to rejoin his Atlantean people, he is caught by a Sentinel.
Yes. A Sentinel. Remember Juston Seyfert and his junkyard Sentinel? Yeah, they're guarding the perimeter. At the sight of a Sentinel, it's not only the mutants that freak out.
Meanwhile, Tigra is busy with a confrontation of her own. She's all that's standing in Sebastian Shaw's way.
While she puts up a valiant fight and I guess comes the closest to bringing down the mutant, Greer is finally defeated.
Everyone is throwing stuff at the Sentinel and Reptil (the guy who put the Sentinel on the perimeter) is reminded that SENTINELS CAPTURE AND KILL MUTANTS. It's kind of important.
X-23 finally makes her choice in this very important matter. She claws her way up to Juston's Sentinel cockpit and slices her way inside. She tells Juston that she's not here to hurt him but he needs to get his Sentinel out of here. Like, yesterday.
Hazmat is hurt that X-23 has chosen the X-Men's side after all of her time with the Avengers Academy. The clone of Wolverine explains that she is standing for free will.
Which is Sebastian Shaw's cue to show up on the beach. He's got a wicked grin on his mug and is happy to see all of the kids together.
Amazing Adventures Featuring the Beast #12
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Tom Sutton
Inker: Mike Ploog
Editor: Stan Lee
The issue in a nutshell:
Hank McCoy gets used to being much more hairy than usual. Tony Stark visits McCoy's lab at Brand Corporation. Beast fights Iron Man over a girl.
The issue by bullet points:
• The Beast avoids capture by Brand guards and then avoids a telepathic call from Professor Xavier.
• After raiding a library and a costume shop, Hank makes himself a Hank McCoy suit so he can pass as himself.
• When finally arriving at his private lab at Brand Corporation, Hank McCoy gets a surprise visit from Tony Stark and Marianne Rodgers.
• After Marianne gets some bad vibes from McCoy's lab assistant/ girlfriend, Linda Donaldson, Tony decides to visit the Brand Corporation as Iron Man for some reason.
• After work, McCoy returns to his new Beast form and has an encounter with Iron Man. Realizing that Stark must have sent the Golden Avenger to check on Linda, Beast attacks Shellhead!
• Iron Man wins the first round but Beast comes back for round two without any sense of self-control.
• Hank runs off after believing that he killed Iron Man but Shellhead's defeat was just an image planted in Beast's head.
• By Mastermind, the new leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
The issue in EXTREME detail:
Explanations: in the previous issue of Amazing Adventures, former X-Man, Hank McCoy, started a new job in a think tank at Brand Corporation, looking for the cause of all mutation. After finding it, Hank found an excuse to use himself as a test subject and ended up mutating his own mutation. This left him a dark grey furred monster. Worse, the change became irreversable.
Welcome to life after the X-Men. This was a wierd time when the regular X-Men book was stuck in reprints after having been cancelled for a couple months. Beast's solo adventures in Amazing Adventures was just one of the attempts to keep the X-Men in the public consciousness and TRY to pave the way for the X-Men book to get out of reprint-mode. The stories leaned closer to horror than heroic and it didn't work. It would still be a couple years before the X-Men book would be relaunched with new stories and a mostly new team. For now, the eighteen X-Men fans would have to wait.
Our book begins with Beast running away from guards at Brand Corporation. Hank is still nowhere near used to his new monsterous look and doesn't know what to do about it. His life at Brand Corporation is in jeopardy as is his relationship with Linda Donaldson, his lab assistant and girlfriend (who is also totally evil).
After going on a melancholy rant detailing his predicament, Hank gets a telepathic call from Marvel Girl (Jean Grey). She's trying to check on her friend but is getting interference. Professor X gives it a try and is able to make a connection with Hank. Beast thinks about asking the Professor for help but his ego gets in the way and he ends up yelling at the X-Men's mentor. Back at the X-Mansion, Jean thinks it's time to go out in public and check on Hank but the Professor forbids it. The world is too hostile to mutants right now to risk letting the rest of the X-Men.
The Beast still needs to find a way to appear in public without causing a panic. To do this, he hits the public library (which is closed at this time of night). He "borrows" a bunch of books on make-up and then leaps over to a costume shop to... "acquire" the materials he'll need to pull off his charade.
Hank is building himself a Hank McCoy costume. He studies his own features and builds a pretty accurate representation of his former face. Some more latex is used to craft some human looking hands and then comes the most challenging part of all: a harness to hold his body in an upright position. The harness is a struggle to get in place but it does its job effectively. With all his preparations in place, Hank sleeps the rest of the night in peace.
In the morning, he puts everything back on and makes his way to the Brand Corporation. Walking around the offices, Hank hears gossip about the monsterous Beast running around the building and it probably puts him more on edge than usual. He ends up yelling at anyone who comes into his lab and demands no visitors.
Well, that's too bad because a VIP is in the building. Tony Stark and his girlfriend, Marianne Rodgers, are visiting. Stark is trying to figure out what he should be doing with his company and I guess is trying to steal ideas from the competition. Hank tries to get rid of Tony but is interrupted by his lab assistant/girlfriend, Linda Donaldson. Linda isn't showing up to assist in the lab, she's actually here to take Hank to lunch.
Like I've said before, Linda is EVIL. Cacklingly so. She is with Hank to... I guess she's trying to steal anything McCoy comes up with. She muses over switching over to Tony Stark but instead just allows Hank to continue on with entertaining this VIP guest and goes to eat lunch alone.
Marianne is a telepath and can sense the evil emmanating off of Donaldson. She's also very blunt and announces aloud that Linda is evil. Tony tries to play this off as Marianne being jealous of him flirting with the lab assistant but Hank isn't fooled. He shouts at everyone and then rushes out to have a decent meal with his girl.
Tony DOES take his own girlfriend's premonitions seriously and decides to pay the lab a visit later on. As Iron Man. I don't know how that'll help but when has reason gotten in the way of an Avenger/ X-Men throwdown?
Hank joining Linda for lunch turns out to be as awkward as possible. She can't kiss him because he's wearing a VERY lifelike rubber mask that is STILL a rubber mask.
After work, McCoy burns off some steam by leaping around without all of his Hank McCoy gear on as the furry Beast that we'll all learn to know and love. While bounding around Brand Corporation, Beast runs right into Iron Man.
To Tony's credit, he doesn't immediately assume that Beast is a bad guy because of appearances. Shellhead tries talking to the grey monster. The problem is Hank isn't really in the talkative mood. He remembers Tony's visit earlier and KNOWS that Iron Man has been sent to check on Marianne Rodger's hunch. With his girl in Iron Man's spotlights, it's up to the Beast to defend Linda Donaldson's honor.
So it's a big fight.
The new Beast has lots of new abilities. His strength and agility are seriously amped up. He has a healing factor before it was the popular mutant thing to do (this was only temporary and wore off in just a couple issues). It doesn't matter. Iron Man had a tendency to show up in other people's books and then KICK THE STAR'S ASS. It happened more than once. After Tony stops treating the Beast with kid gloves, Hank goes down.
This fight has attracted the attention of the Brand guards as well as Linda Donaldson. When she sees Iron Man, Linda tells the guards that the hero must be here on some heroic mission or another. Tony concludes that Donaldson is one of the good guys and that his girlfriend's senses were wrong.
Distracted by the guards, Iron Man is not even close to ready for ROUND TWO! Beast attack in an unthinking rage and will NOT let up. Even when the guards open fire on the monster, Hank just shrugs off the bullets and heals up.
Iron Man can't recover and just gets tossed around the room by the grey furred mutant. At one point, Shellhead begs for the Beast to stop but Hank is just in a rage.
When the fight is over, the Golden Avenger is dead.
Coming to his senses, Hank realizes what he's just done. Shouting about losing control and killing Iron Man, the Beast leaps away, the guards still shooting at him as he disappears.
This whole scene is a complete shock to Iron Man and the other humans who witnessed it. In REALITY, Beast stopped mid-rage before bounding off with talk of killing Iron Man. It never really happened. Linda asks if Iron Man is going to pursue the monster but Tony decides against it. He's not convinced that Hank was the bad guy in this confrontation and realizes that his presence isn't exactly calming to the Beast, after all.
So what was up with that image of Beast killing Iron Man? Oh, what indeed. That was planted in Hank's head by Mastermind. To my knowledge, this is the first time Mastermind's illusions were ever projected directly inside the victim's head but it would become VERY common in later issues of X-Men when Mastermind used this ability to corrupt the Phoenix into joining the Hellfire Club. For now, Mastermind was looking to recruit a new mutant into his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (with Blob and Unus being the other members). Mastermind doesn't realize that he's trying to bring an X-Man into the fold.
That's it for this issue. There's a follow up to the Iron Man fight in Amazing Adventures #14 where Beast swings over the Stark Industries to make nice with Iron Man. So Hank DOES learn to gain some control over his newborn temper. It just takes him some time to get it fully controlled.
And we are done! Woo! That one was longer than usual!
Until next time: Have a good week!
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