What have a got for you this week? Fights! The firing of an Avenger! Cultural differences! Beast! It's a good time and you will enjoy yourself. It's in your contract.
If you are new to the Super Reads brand experience, here's how this works: I read every Marvel Event comic book (in this case, Avengers vs. X-Men) and then I write a far too detailed, spoiler laden report on what happened within each comic. I give you a nutshell, 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 is what you've always wanted in an internet article but were afraid to ask.
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.
We'll get to the comics in one small moment. First, we need to talk about a couple of things.
They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This was the original theme behind the Dark Phoenix Saga. Witness, if you will, the PhoeniX-Men.
OK, Marvel's billing them as the Phoenix Five but, c'mon. PhoeniX-Men is great.
At the end of AvX #5, the Phoenix was hit by a "Phoenix-Killing" Disrupter Beam, courtesy of Iron Man. This may have injured the Phoenix. Instead of possessing Hope and bringing back the world's mutant population, the Phoenix split its power five ways and charged up the X-Men on the scene. That means Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Magik, and Namor all got the Phoenix treatment.
Since they're splitting the power of the Phoenix five ways, they X-Men aren't as powerful as the Phoenix itself but we're talking infinite (or close to infinite)) power so divide infinity by five and see what you get. Whatever their power levels would chart, it's off the scale... and then off the next scale.
What would YOU do if you had nigh infinite power? I bet you'd think long and hard about changing the world for the better. Get rid of crime. Get rid of violence. You'd probably do some selfish things, too, because you're a human being with nigh infinite powers. It happens. For heroes like the X-Men, you at least start by changing the world.
And, yes, it's gonna end badly. Absolute power. Absolute corruption. These things are gonna happen.
Now we've talked a little bit about the PhoeniX-Men, let's switch it up and talk about Noh-Varr. Noh is your average, everyday interdimensional Kree who has spent the last couple years on the Avengers as the Protector.
This is a far cry from where he started in the Marvel Universe. In his debut, Noh-Varr went by the name Marvel Boy and spent his days going on a super-powered rampage in the spirit of Golden Age Namor. It was a fun romp for the rebellious Kree teenager but he was eventually captured and imprisoned.
Which is not the end of his story. After a quick adventure in Civil War where a mad scientist set a mind controlled Marvel Boy after the Runaways and Young Avengers, Noh found himself back in prison where he wasted no time taking over the place and recreating it as his private Kree getaway. This was ruined by the Skrull invasion when Marvel Boy was forced to get involved in Earth's affairs and assisted in the repelling of the invading Skrulls.
After serving in Norman Osborn's team of Avengers as Captain Marvel, Noh was SHOCKED to learn that his teammates were actually villains. The Kree ran away from the team and found himself hunted by his former allies. Finally re-establishing communication with his home dimension, Noh-Varr was given a new suit of armor and a new mission: protect the Earth. When the dust settled following the Siege of Asgard, Noh-Varr joined up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. THIS time, they were ACTUALLY heroes.
And now: fighting.
AVX VS #3
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines
Editor: Nick Lowe
Click HERE to see Super Read AVX VS #2!
The issue in a nutshell:
Colossus fights Rulk Thing at the Blue Area of the Moon. The fight is ended when the Avatar of Cyttorak pushes Ben Grimm out of the breathable atmosphere and punches the suffocating hero out.
This issue by bullet points:
• Piotr Rasputin fights Red Hulk until being punched over to the Thing.
• Ben Grimm tries to punch Colossus into oblivion. This doesn't work.
• Punching and hitting.
• Thing tries to choke Colossus with a brick. This also doesn't work.
• Piotr pushes Ben out of the Blue Area of the Moon and into the cold non-existant atmosphere of the rest of the Moon.
• While Thing loses his breath, Colossus punches him the hell out.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
OK, peeps, you know the deal. AVX VS is all fights, all the time. No plot. No real continuity. While these fights DO happen in the Avengers vs. X-Men setting, they don't necessarily tie into what we saw happening in Avengers vs. X-Men #5. This is a comic that you kind of need to turn your brain off in order to enjoy. While the best comics out there can seamlessly tell a great story while including some great action scenes, THIS comic isn't THAT great. It skips out on the story and just has the action.
It also has some cute little AvX Fun Fact boxes that sometimes give you factiods on the characters or the Marvel Universe. Other times, they are used for a quick gag. The whole point in this comic is FUN so try not to take this stuff seriously. It's not!
To prove that, the first fight is Ben Grimm versus Piotr Rasputin!
In this corner, we have the X-Men's Colossus! Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin joined the X-Men during Giant-Size X-Men #1 and has continued on as an X-Man to this very day, only taking a few breaks from the team to deal with living an alternate life, betraying the whole team, and that one time he died curing the Legacy Virus. The Russian mutant is able to cover his entire body with organic steel, making him super strong and VERY resilient to damage. Colossus made a terrible deal during the Fear Itself storyline where he got the power of the Juggernaut. While the original Juggernaut, Cain Marko, never seemed to suffer from uncontrollable rage issues, Piotr DOES. Being the Avatar of Cyttorak makes Colossus unstoppable but also makes him on the uncontrollable side of the equation.
In the other corner, we have the New Avengers' Thing! Ben Grimm is an original member of the Fantastic Four, gaining his powers and chiselled good looks from a rogue space flight and a healthy dose of cosmic radiation. One of the first Silver Age Marvel heroes, Thing's attitude is part of the creative inspiration behind Hawkeye and Wolverine's personalities... among others, I'm sure. Since you're not anyone unless you're a member of at LEAST two Marvel super-hero teams, Ben joined up with the part-time Avengers squad, the New Avengers.
The arena: the Blue Area of the Moon. This was the setting for all of the Avengers/X-Men fights in AvX #5 so it's where both of today's battles will take place. The Blue Area is the only zone on the Moon with a breathable atmosphere, though it doesn't extend too far off the Moon's surface so flying is dangerous. It's a good thing none of our combatants gets too far off the ground...
With a creative team like Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, you'd probably expect Colossus to fight the Red Hulk. Hell, if you read Avengers vs. X-Men #5, you would expect that even IF the creative team weren't responsible for Rulk's comic debut. Colossus and the Red Hulk spent most of the action panels in that comic duking it out. To help with that, we start this fight with... Colossus versus Red Hulk!
It doesn't last long. After a whole page of punching, Red Hulk decides he's bored and tosses the X-Man right into the waiting fists of the ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing.
Thing had his own sparring partner in AvX #5. Namor. It looks like those two stopped hitting each other long enough for this fight to happen. Or, like I said earlier, these are just fun fights that don't exactly fit into AvX continuity and I should just enjoy myself. Well, I ENJOY MYSELF BY NITPICKING! :(
Since Colossus lands on his back, Thing does his damndest to make sure the mutant stays there. Grimm lands punch after punch to Rasputin's face, attempting a quick, easy win. Yeah, that's not gonna happen today. Colossus gets to his feet and our fight begins in earnest.
We're dealing with two heavy hitters here so there is a whole lot of punching going on. I'll spare you the blow-by-blow because it would just be me saying stuff like "and then Thing hits Colossus... and then Colossus hits Thing..." over and over. Suffice it to say that both heroes do a lot of hitting and no one has a clear advantage just yet.
Mixing things up, Ben tosses a well aimed rock right into Piotr's mouth, causing Colossus to choke. Grimm isn't able to get any kind of advantage from this, though. By the time Thing charges the X-Man, Colossus has already spit out the rock and is up to his whole "unstoppable" routine.
And this is where the Thing loses the fight. Whatever their strength levels, Colossus get the unlimited advantage of being "unstoppable." Piotr pushes the Avenger right outside of the Blue Area of the Moon. This is where another of Rasputin's advantages comes into play. He doesn't need to breath.
Thing stands his ground and even manages to punch away Piotr's magical Juggernaut helmet. Unfortunately, running out of oxygen is a severe disadvantage. After taking everything Grimm can dish out, Colossus delivers an uppercut that knocks Thing right off the ground.
THE WINNAH: COLOSSUS! (I'm just guessing Piotr drags Thing back into the breathable atmosphere and that Ben Grimm isn't left for dead...)
Writer: Christopher Yost
Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inker: Rachel Dodson
Editor: Nick Lowe
The issue in a nutshell:
Magik fights Black Widow on the Blue Area of the Moon. There's a short trip to Limbo. Magik wins by employing her Soulsword.
This issue by bullet points:
• Black Widow faces off against Magik. Someone says "This is NOT a game!"
• Yeah, that actually happened and is definitely not on a top ten list for most cliched lines ever.
• Magik teleports Black Widow to Limbo but is dragged along for the ride.
• Natasha gets Illyana to teleport them both back by getting the mutant sorceress at gunpoint.
• Magik summons her Soulsword and stabs Black Widow. This forces Natasha Romanova unconscious.
• The Phoenix arrives.
• I'm sad that I don't have access to the Marvel AR app and can't read all the sweet Russian dialogue.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
Fun Fact: Black Widow and Magik are both Russian. That means we get them both spouting off lines in their native language. In the olden days, these lines would have been translated right off the bat so that we could all get in on what the two are saying. Two years ago, the lines would have been translated in sweet little caption boxes so that we could all get in on what the two are saying. In the bold present, the lines are left untranslated and you need to scan them with the Marvel AR app to get in on what the two are saying.
I'm gonna expess my distaste for this. I don't mind the Marvel AR stuff. It's cool! If I had access to the app, I'd be able to get cool stuff like creator commentary, sketches, maybe even a scientist telling my what would happen to Wolverine's body as he's kicked off a Quinjet over the Antarctic. That's great stuff and if you can't access it, you don't really miss out on any of the story. Let me tell ya right now, there are few things more annoying than two people speaking a language you can't understand and not getting a translation of the conversation.
I get that they're probably just taunting each other and that missing out on this dialogue isn't essential to what is basically a fight issue. They aren't revealing any hidden character traits or secret histories... at least I hope they aren't. It's still annoying. Don't make me use an app I can't get to figure out what two of your characters are saying, Marvel! It just makes me frustrated.
Wow. Look! You've already got your official Super Rant out of the way and we're still on the first comic. It's a good day.
In this corner: Illyana Rasputin. Magik is the younger sister of Colossus and has a tricky history. She spent most of her teenage years in the demonic dimension known as Limbo. Because of the way Limbo works, Illyana disappeared as a young girl and reappeared as a teenager with only a little time in between for all of the X-Men to realize that they suck at babysitting. Magik became the ruler of Limbo but demons aren't really that great at the whole loyalty thing. After a number of betrayals and the massive Inferno crossover, Illyana was returned to her life as a little girl and sent straight back to Russia to live with her parents. This happy ending was ruined when little Illyana contracted the Legacy Virus, a mutant disease that eventually led to her death.
Hahahahahaha... death... As with everyone else in comics, Illyana eventually returned to life but only kinda/sorta. Because of the wacky way Limbo works, one or more versions of Illyana were able to walk around independantly of the versions that had already left. Because of that... hey, Illyana's back and stuff... and she also died of the Legacy Virus as a kid. It's confusing. Just go with it. Magik currently serves on Cyclops' Extermination Team and spends the rest of her time in a holding cell because no one trust her. She doesn't even trust herself.
In the other corner: Natasha Romanoff. In the good old days of the Cold War, the Black Widow was one of the Soviet Union's greatest secret agents... except for all those times she lost to Iron Man. Because of her failures to take down the Golden Avenger and Tony Stark, Natasha found herself at war with her own country. This, combined with the love she had found with the archer, Hawkeye, gave her the perfect reason to defect.
In time, the Black Widow became a red-head and even led the Avengers for a while. Not bad for a former Soviet spy.
We're still at the Blue Area of the Moon so you know the battleground. And... FIGHT.
Magik uses her mutant ability to teleport to great effect at the start of this conflict, porting right away from the Black Widow's stinger attack. The follow through could use a little work, though. Illyana ports behind Natasha and is immediately discovered. This leads Romanoff to spout "Do you think this is a GAME?! It is NOT a game!" for some reason. I guess Black Widow doesn't like it when a combatant uses their advantages in a fight.
Anyway, it turns out that Magik totally thinks this is a game. Illyana has seen the future or something so she knows where all of this is leading and that makes her a bit nonplussed about this whole "fighting to the death" thing.
So they've got some philosophical differences.
Magik's next trick is teleporting Natasha into Limbo. Her demons pull Black Widow right in but before she fades out of sight, Natasha is able to drag Illyana in behind her.
Once in Limbo, you'd think Magik would own this fight. This is her home turf. This is where she beat Dr. Strange. Illyana starts out strong, taunting Natasha with the spy's past and telling her that the hellish Limbo is the perfect home for someone like the Black Widow. Corrupted souls and all that.
When the demons start attacking, Natasha pulls two guns out of... well, now that I mention it, I have no idea where the Black Widow was holstering those guns. The panel makes me believe that she's pulling them directly out of her ass. No, if you've got the comic at home, tell me she's not grabbing those guns out of her butt. Someone has a secret super power.
After blaster her way through a bunch of demons, Natasha slams Illyana's face against a nearby wall, preventing the X-Man from casting any magic. A few kicks and punches later and the Avenger has Magik at her mercy. At gunpoint, Black Widow forces Illyana to teleport them both back to the Moon.
Black Widow looks for her next opponent in a way that says "this is NOT a game only when I want to be super serious and definitely not right now when I'm enjoying my victory." Unfortunately, Natasha is counting unhatched chickens. Illyana's not done. Magik conjures up her Soulsword and stabs it right through Black Widow's stomach. Being a magical sword, you're not going to see blood or even a physical wound. The Soulsword merely drops Natasha into unconsciousness.
Only now, over the fallen Black Widow, does Illyana reveal why she treated this fight as a "game." It's because if she had acted like this was serious, she would have killed Natasha instead of just knocking the Avenger out.
In the sky above, the Phoenix Force gets closer. It might have just been hit by Iron Man's Phoenix-Killer Beam because it falls to the Moon in five parts. And look, there's Illyana, waiting for her piece of the Phoenix.
That's probably scarier than Namor having Phoenix powers.
The Avengers #27
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Walter Simonson
Inker: Scott Hanna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Click HERE to see Super Read The Avengers #26!
The issue in a nutshell:
The Space Avengers are plunging into a star and have to save themselves. The Protector delivers a portion of the Phoenix Force to the Supreme Intelligence but betrays the Kree when he learns that they have no intention of helping Earth. The Space Avengers take back the portion of the Phoenix Force and tell the Protector he isn't allowed on Earth anymore.
This issue by bullet points:
• Thor and Ms. Marvel wake up after the Protector's off-panel attack last issue to find their Quinshuttle falling into a star.
• The Protector delivers the Phoenix-Cage to the Kree Supreme Intelligence and learns that the Kree have decided to write off the planet Earth.
• The Beast is able to get the Quinshuttle fired up but isn't able to get enough power to escape the star's gravitational pull. Thor flies out to give the spaceship a push. No, really.
• After engaging the Supreme Intelligence in a debate about saving Earth, the Protector decides to betray the Kree and smashes Supremor's containment vat... or maybe he just lights up a can of whoopass on the Supreme Intelligence. Either way, betrayal!
• The Avengers show up and swat the Protector around a bit before taking the Phoenix-Cage from him and telling him to never come to Earth again.
• Noh-Varr escapes the Kree.
• His Earth girlfriend's crystal gift lights up and she believes the Protector has returned to Earth... but he's nowhere to be found.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
Continuity alert! This story takes place AFTER Secret Avengers tie-in story and BEFORE Avengers vs. X-Men #4. It also takes place directly AFTER Avengers #26. In that issue, the Space Avengers were finally successful in trapping a portion of the Phoenix in their Phoenix-Cage. Before they could celebrate their small victory, the Protector betrayed them, blasting the team on orders from the Supreme Intelligence.
Now you're up to speed. Let's go.
Thor rests peacefully in some green grass. A glowing Sif comes around to tell him to wake the hell up before he dies. Before Thor is fully aware of what's what, Sif ends up in the mouth of the Phoenix.
And... Thor wakes up from that crazy dream. Around him the rest of the Avengers lie unconscious after their mostly off-panel fight with the Protector. Sure, you're thinking, Noh-Varr attacked them but at least he didn't KILL anyone. Well...
After Thor wakes up Ms. Marvel, we learn that the Protector wasn't TOO kind to his former teammates. The Quinshuttle is falling into a star. Let's all hope that Carol can light up its engines and rescue the team before they everyone is lightly roasted.
Meanwhile, the Protector is completing his mission. After betraying his friends and allies, Noh-Varr grabbed the Phoenix-Cage and made a beeline for the Kree's throneworld of Hala. This is where we catch up with him. The Protector announces his presence to the Kree guards only to find them expecting his arrival. One of the Accusers, Sinta, tells Noh that his mission was closely monitored by the Supreme Intelligence. The former Avenger is brought before the Kree ruler and the Phoenix-Cage is successfully delivered.
Supremor goes on about how the Kree will use the P-Cage to control the Phoenix Force and use it for Kree purposes. Basically, the Kree have plans to wield a Cosmic Universal Force. Maybe they plan on using it benevolently... but it sure seems like the Phoenix Force would make a great Weapon of Mass Destruction.
In no way does the Supreme Intelligence's plan deal with the immediate threat of the Phoenix on the planet Earth. Since the Protector's primary mission was to "protect" the Earth, he wonders how the Kree are going to help with that. It turns out they aren't. The Earth is being written off. In fact, the Supreme Intelligence believes that one the Phoenix Force unleashes its powers on the Earth, the cosmic being will be weakened so that the Kree will be able to leash it more easily.
While Noh-Varr thinks that little nugget of information over, let's return to the Space Avengers as they involuntarily decend into that nearby star. It turns out that Ms. Marvel is unable to get the Quinshuttle started. The Beast wakes up and after griping about the Protector's betrayal, tells Carol all about the solor panels on the Quinshuttle and how they can be used to repower the ship. This close to a star, they give the space ship more than enough power to start up.
Unfortunately, they DON'T give the Quinshuttle enough energy to break away from the star. Beast asks for someone to "get out and push" but he's not talking to anyone but Thor. No one else would be able to survive outside the space ship even though War Machine tries to volunteer.
As Thor does his damndest to save the Space Avengers, Beast tries to apologize for... I guess dooming them? I'm not actually sure why Hank is taking so much of the blame here.
Back on Hala, the Protector tries to convince the Supreme Intelligence to save the Earth but Supremor is coming at this problem from an entirely different perspective. To it, the Earth is more of a nuisance than anything else. Earth's very existance has threatened the galaxy and the Kree would be better off without the planet around.
Since words aren't working, Noh-Varr does something he's become pretty good at in the last two issues: betrayal. The Protector attacks the Supreme Intelligence. The rest of the Kree forces aren't quick to react and get a full charge from Noh's Nega-Bands. The Protector recovers the Phoenix-Cage just in time for the Avengers to arrive.
This is not a friendly reunion. Noh-Varr faces an assault by ALL of the Space Avengers. He takes it willingly. When Thor readies a thunder blast, the Protector bows his head and gets ready to take his punishment. Thor turns away instead but you can tell he's still pissed off. Ms. Marvel talks about bringing Noh back to Earth to face a trial but Beast refuses to bring the Protector with them any further.
Hank gets right up in Noh's face and tells the Kree that Earth is off-limits. If he returns to Earth, Beast will get his murder on. The Protector tries to convince the Avengers that he can make up for this but no one is listening. Ms. Marvel gives Noh a super-powered backhand before reitterating Beast's warning. No more Earth, and the Protector is getting off light. Some other Avengers would have killed him.
With that done, the Avengers leave with the Phoenix-Cage. The Protector is still alive but that could change any moment. He just blasted the Supreme Intelligence a couple pages back and that makes Hala a hostile planet. Cinta the Accuser and a good deal of Kree soldiers have rallied and attack.
To make matters worse, the Protector's Nega-Bands are teleported away. A traitor doesn't get to use them.
Noh makes a run for it and evades the Kree. Cinta keeps the Accusers looking for the Protector even though everyone else is already talking about Noh as dead. He leaped off a cliff to escape and even though there's no body, I guess that's enough for most of the Accusers to believe him dead.
Eventually, Noh-Varr gets his hands on a fighter ship and blows a big section of the city up before flying away.
Back on Earth, the Protector's girlfriend, Annie, is in a deep blue funk. Noh said good-bye to her last issue and gave her a small crystal as a gift. She doesn't know what it does but when it lights up, she's certain that the Protector has returned and rushes to the door to greet him.
The hallway's empty. Annie still believes that Noh-Varr will be back.
X-Men Legacy #268
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: David Baldeon
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Click HERE to see Super Read X-Men Legacy #267!
The issue in a nutshell:
Cyclops brings peace to Africa by destroying most of its guns. Frenzy is sent in to keep the peace until the Stepford Cuckoos can arrive and do some mind wiping. While waiting, Frenzy kicks a little ass and is reminded of her terrible childhood.
The issue by bullet points:
• Cyclops destroys most of the weapons in Narobia. Frenzy is air dropped in the keep an eye on things until the Stepford Cuckoos can come in and get rid of all the bad thoughts.
• Frenzy encounters a man beating his wife and delivers an ass kicking.
• The beaten wife guides Frenzy to the militia's base and the mutant has flashbacks of her child abusing father.
• It turns out Cargill's powers activated just in time for her to punch her father right through the chest.
• Johanna beats up some militia soldiers but stops herself from killing them when she sees the startled look on the wife's face.
• When the Stepford Cuckoos arrive, Frenzy tells them to mind wipe the douches but leave anyone who doesn't want it with their memories.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
Here's your first look at what the PhoeniX-Men are doing with their Phoenix powers. They're changing the world and forcing peace on people whether they like it or not. I read this story when it was a Squadron Supreme maxi-series.
This particular story involves the African country of Narobia. Don't look for it on your world map. It's a pretend Marvel nation. It's issues, however, are some that are typical in real world nations. Militia at war with each other. Children being forced into soldiers. Abuse of all shapes and sizes.
Handling the BIG issue is Cyclops. He comes in with his Phoenix powers and depowers the nation. It's just one step in the X-Men's plan to outlaw war. Unfortunately, Cyclops' abilities are like a hammer. It gets the job done but it's not 100% accurate. Some weapons are missed and that means that the problem's going to persist. The X-Men have a solution for that, too. They're sending the Stepford Cuckoos all around the world to get rid of all the bad vibrations and get people to think the right kind of thoughts.
Since there's only three of them and they have a full work schedule going, someone's gotta be sent in to keep people from killing each other until the telepaths arrive. That job falls to Joanna Cargill. You might know her better as Frenzy.
Cargill first appeared WAY back in 1986 in X-Factor #4. She was a bad guy and member of the Alliance of Evil. This group enhanced their mutant powers by using another mutant. It became like a drug and they all got addicted. When X-Factor shut that operation down, Joanna made other bad choices almost all the way up to the present day. She became a member of the Acolytes and fought the X-Men all the way up to the Messiah Complex. Some time after this, she ended up on Utopia and made the move over to the Jean Grey School.
So, long story short: not a hero. Not even CLOSE to a hero. She's one of those mutants who HATES humans and has a track record to prove it. Still, she's the one being dropped on a small African nation to keep the peace until the eventual mind wipe arrives.
Frenzy's not happy with this, either. She wants to make life better for MUTANTS and thinks the Phoenix Five is wasting their time trying to fix the rest of the world. When she lands in Narobia, it's uncertain if she's going to actually do what she's been asked to do...
Until she sees a woman being beaten by her husband right out in the daylight for everyone to see. I'm not saying it's worse to do this out in public. I'm saying it's indicative of this culture when something like that is tolerated when it's so blatant. People are walking around like this is normal.
Say what you will about Cargill, she isn't going to stand for this kind of crap.
The scenes of spousal abuse are accompanied by a flashback of Joanna's childhood. During the course of the issue, we learn that her father was a military man who was very proud of his son who also went on to join the military. Joanna was a different story. She was an accident and not a happy one. Born premature and sickly, Joanna wasn't welcomed by her father and she was beaten for any slight offense.
Frenzy's mother didn't stand up for her and her words of encouragement didn't make anything better.
So when Joanna is standing up for this human lady who has just been beaten down by her husband, it's got a lot to do with her own past. Whatever her motivation, it's pretty damn satisfying to watch her break this @$hole's wrists. He runs off into the jungle to warn his militia buddies about Frenzy's arrival.
Cargill is ready to make chase. She allows the wife to guide her after another flashback reminds her how her dad made her feel useless. The wife is never given a name and we learn early on that the marriage wasn't her idea so I'm gonna stop refering to her as "the wife" and make up a name for her. From here on in, her name is "Lisa."
Lisa's got a history. She was forced to join the militia when she was a kid. After turning thirteen, Lisa was forced into that marriage. She's done things no one should have to do.
So has Frenzy. There came a time when her family got the news that her brother had been killed in the line of duty. That meant her father no longer had a son to carry on his legacy. THAT meant dad got drunk and smashed some things. Joanna went into her brother's room and tried on her brother's beret. A picture on the wall shows us that she and her brother were close so this is probably part of the grieving process.
It won't matter to her father. He finds her with the beret on and decides to beat the crap out of her. "Decides" is probably too strong of a word. I don't think this guy is doing enough thinking to "decide" anything. Whatever. He starts seriously beating up his daughter.
There's a time in every mutant's life when their powers turn on. It usually happens at the onset of puberty. Sometimes it's gradually. The Angel grew wings on his back. Sometimes, it's sudden like when Wolverine popped his claws. Joanna Cargill's powers activated right in the middle of a beating delivered by her father.
And she punched him right through the chest.
It's the silence following this act that catches her mother's attention. Not the beating itself. The abrupt end to the beating. Her mother calls out her name a couple times but Frenzy is already on the run.
Back in the present, Lisa tells Cargill how she was forced to execute her mother. It wasn't because her mother was beating her. It was because the militia forced her to do it.
Like I said: She's done things no one should have to do.
Man, this is just the cheeriest comic ever.
The two get to do a lot of talking on their way to the militia. There's a lot of breaking down walls and climbing unscalable cliffs. It's at this point that you're probably wondering: did the guy with two broken wrists travel this same path? Because it doesn't seem likely. I mean, it's not even like this is a short cut. They arrive near the militia's camp to find Lisa's husband already executed.
Frenzy makes her way into the militia camp and we learn a couple things. First: Cyke missed a LOT of guns. Second: Those guns don't make a lick of difference.
Joanna beats the hell out of the militia soldiers and comes pretty close to killing one of them until she sees the stunned look on Lisa's face. She tosses the militiaman down and waits for the Stepford Cuckoos' arrival.
When the telepaths get to Narobia, Frenzy has a request. She's not against erasing specific memories. She doesn't care what the Stepford Cuckoos do with the militia. She thinks it's a good idea to erase some of the more atrocious memories from the victims. Joanna just doesn't think it's a good idea to do it on a mass scale. It's one of those "if you forget the past you're doomed to repeat it" type of things. The Cuckoos want to talk to Cyclops or Emma Frost before going along with Frenzy's plan but Joanna tells them that she'll take the heat for this one.
Specifically, she says, "Screw them. They're not gods. We can make our own decisions. So can they."
So, y'know, it's not that she's AGAINST mind wiping. She's just establishing her own boundaries.
The Avengers #137
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Editor: Len Wein
The issue in a nutshell:
Following the Celestial Madonna storyline, the Avengers are looking for a few good heroes. After placing a television ad, they get one prospective new Avenger: The Beast! They also get a fight with the Stranger.
The issue by bullet points:
• Thor's on the TV, calling new Avengers to action.
• We back up time a couple days and watch as the Avengers return from their Celestial Madonna storyline.
• Moondragon is offered membership in the Avengers.
• Every past Avenger that can be reached is called up and asked to rejoin the team. Besides Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym, no one bites.
• The call goes out for any OTHER heroes to join up, hence the television ad.
• The Avengers assemble at Yankee Stadium to await any prospective Avengers.
• The only guy to show up is Edward G. Robinson.
• Nah, it's actually the Beast doing his best Edward G. Robinson impression.
• And giving the Avengers an accounting of his Secret Origins, the Beast and his new pals are attacked by the Stranger!
• After almost all of the other Avengers are defeated, it is Hank McCoy who ends up winning the first round in this battle.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
July 1975! The X-Men were finally out of reprints, thanks to the recently released Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). This book introduced a brand new cast of characters and left the status of the original X-Men up for debate. That question wouldn't be answered until August 1975's X-Men #94. At least, it wouldn't be answered for MOST of the X-Men.
It turns out that the Beast had already left the team. He is the only original team member to NOT appear in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Instead, his fate is revealed in THIS issue of the Avengers... and history is made.
But first, we check in on a random married couple as they catch up after a long day doing whatever they were doing. The husband turns on the television and finds Thor shouting at him. It's time for a new team of Avengers to assemble!
Well, that's great and all but maybe we should backtrack a bit to find out how the Avengers got to this point. It all began just a bit after the events of the last issue(s). Steve Englehart had finished his Celestial Madonna storyline. Mantis was married to a Cotati version of the Swordsman. The Scarlet Witch was married to the Vision. The world was left to wonder how the Avengers would top a double wedding super extravaganza.
The remaining Avengers were wondering this as well. The team returned to Avengers Mansion with the Scarlet Witch's mentor, Agatha Harkness in tow. Harkness tells everyone that Wanda won't be a great sorceress but she'll still be pretty good. She then exits the rest of the comic so we can move on with the plot.
Thor does a tally and realizes that they're down four Avengers. Mantis has left. The Swordsman is dead. Wanda and Vision are on their honeymoon. It's time to bolster the Avengers' ranks! Hawkeye does as much naysaying as possible but keeps his lip firmly buttoned when Iron Man nominates Moondragon for membership into Earth's Mightiest. Moondragon accepts but makes certain that they aren't letting her in just because of her passing resemblance to Mantis.
With one new member out of the way, the Avengers start calling around to see if any past Avengers would like to rejoin the club. The Black Panther turns down the offer in the most poetic manner possible. Quicksilver yells at everyone (he's still not happy about the Scarlet Witch marrying the Vision). Captain America is otherwise occupied. The Black Widow is still trying to figure out her relationship with Daredevil. Hercules wants to remain free of commitment.
It's only when they get to Janet Van Dyne that they finally get a nibble. Jan is ready to get back into the heroic spotlight and she agrees to drag her husband, Hank Pym along with her. Yellowjacket has been working with the Defenders since Giant-Size Defenders #4 but that's more of a part-time thing and his commitment is about to come to an end.
That gets our new Avengers count up to three which means they only need to get one new member. It's a perfect time to drop in on Wanda and the Vision as they vacation on Rurutu, French Polynesia and spend most of their time on the beach. Vision is out of his usual green spandex and showing a lot more red skin than we're used to. It's more than HE'S used to as well and he's nowhere near comfortable in just a green speedo.
Wanda's enjoying the view, though, and it's not long before the newlyweds are making out.
So we've caught up on the happy couple. Now, let's check in on the Avengers again. They've got three new members but they really want to get that last one. Well, Iron Man and Thor want one more. Hawkeye is still in contrarian mode. He belives that the Avengers can't get any new team members because of all the other super-hero groups that are popping up. Clint's right in the middle of telling those damn kids to get off his lawn when Wasp and Yellowjacket arrive to help fill up their ranks.
It's been a while since Hank and Janet have been Avengers and the typical initiation ritual is to pick a fight with the new guy and see how they handle a combat situation. That's probably what Hawkeye is cooking up but Hank is wise to this plan.
Since the team is still looking for one more teammate, Yellowjacket suggests that they look for a brand new one instead of asking past members. This upsets Hawkeye and he leaves in a huff. There's one other past member that they can ask. The Black Knight. Sure, Dane Whitman is stuck in the past but that's not trouble to a guy with access to Dr. Doom's Time Platform.
The rest of the team just moves on without their resident cranky archer. It's about now that Thor's Avengers commercial airs on television. What we didn't see was that the commercial tells prospective members to meet at the Yankee Stadium which is undergoing reconstruction and is the perfect staging ground for Avengers candidates.
It's also a great place to get attacked by any of their enemies who happened upon the TV spot.
Regardless, the team assembles at Yankee Stadium and waits to see who's going to show up. Leaping over a wall comes their first prospect. It's dead film star Edward G. Robinson!
Nah. Robinson rips off his face, revealing himself as the Bouncing Beast. Hank McCoy is you really want to know.
When he gives his real name, the Avengers tell him to stop. The team isn't in the business of having it's members reveal their secret identities but Hank doesn't care about secrets any more. In a two page piece, the Beast recounts his history up to this point. The short version is that he was one of the original X-Men, eventually left the team to work at the Brand Corporation, discovered the chemical cause of mutation (or something), injested it for all the wrong reasons, and ended up mutating the mutant.
For a while, Hank tried to pass himself off as the regular mutant Hank McCoy but he mostly got sick of wearing all that extra stuff and decided to just be happy with who he was. He went off in seclusion (probably shortly after his appearance in Captain America #183, watching old movies and working on "finding himself." Now, he's completely comfortable in his own skin and has decided against the whole secret identity business. From now on, he's a mutant, he's furry, and he's proud.
Now that we've got out fourth new Avenger (unofficially for now), it's time to get to the bad guy of the piece. While he doesn't reveal himself until close to the end, but Beast and Thor recognize the voice as the Stranger. In ACTUALITY, it's the Toad doing his best Stranger impersonation but that's just because Steve Englehart can't do anything the easy way.
Floating mines fill the area and "The Stranger" dares them to travel through the mines and hit the deactivation button. Thor, being the strongest and most resilient guy in the lineup, decides to fly right through the mines without even the slightest thought of dodging the explosive devices. He survives the first impact but a second detonation downs the god of thunder.
Iron Man follows in Thor's footsteps, believing that his bootjets will allow him to dodge the mines. Unfortunately, the floating bombs are moving erratically now. The Golden Avenger only gets hit once and is down for the count.
That's the two heavy hitters. Now, it's the weaker heroes time to shine. Wasp shrinks down and begins to fly through floating mine field. She does pretty well but the explosives move too fast for even her to avoid. One explosion and Janet is in serious trouble. Yellowjacket races to her but is knocked unconscious by Moondragon (she was concerned that he would run headfirst into a bomb).
And then there were two. Moondragon suggests that she and the Beast think this problem through but Hank has already done just that. He sees the problem and believes the HE is the only guy who can get through this conundrum. His eyes are sharper. He's fast and agile. Let's see if the Beast can succeed where the rest of the Avengers failed.
Well, whadoyaknow? The loveable bouncing Beast does it! He does it with style, too. After flipping a switch, the bombs soar skyward and out of sight. A quick look around reveals that Thor and Iron Man are all right. It's only the Wasp who is seriously injured. Yellowjacket holds his wife and yells up at the Stranger to "fight like a man!"
The Stranger appears before them but refuses to do physical fighting today. Instead, he gets into a telepathic battle with Moondragon. Everyone's expecting the Stranger to emerge victorious since he's theoretically the strongest telepath in the area. Instead, the Stranger loses his nerve and runs off to fight another time.
And that's the true story of how the X-Man, Beast, joined the Avengers. From this point until he leaves the team, we're treating Hank as an Avenger. That means every time he appears in the X-Men, we get to cover it! Woo!
And the first time for that will be in X-Men #94... but that's a tale for another Super Reads...
For now, we're calling this one good and done.
Until next time: Have a good week!