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Super Reads Siege & Realm of Kings 4

Written by SuperginraiX on Wednesday, March 17 2010 and posted in Features
badguy86.jpgMore Siege tie-ins coming your way!

Today, we check out New Avengers #61, Avengers: The Initiative #32, Siege: Storming Asgard- Heroes & Villains #1, Dark Reign: Hawkeye #5, Guardians of the Galaxy #22, and Blast to the Past for Fantastic Four Annual #3.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

If this is your first time reading Super Reads, it's been around for a while, now!  We've covered everything from Secret Invasion through Dark Reign as well as War of Kings.  If you're interested in reading all that back story (and who wouldn't be?), check in the "Features" link at the top of the page, look for the "Super Reads" button and click away for DAYS of reading enjoyment.  If that's too many clicks for you, just hit HERE and get there in one shot.

Let's get right to the action

na61.jpgThe New Avengers #61
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen & Daniel Acuña


Last issue, Luke Cage woke up surrounded by friends only to learn that he had some sort of bomb thing on his heart.  Iron Patriot took a call from the Hood and they discussed their arrangement in vague details.  The Wondrous Wasp showed up just before the return of the New Avengers and they all got set to deal with that bomb resting comfortably on Luke Cage's heart.  Dr. Strange and Mr. Pym shrank down to do some comic book surgery and the bomb's signal altered when they approached it.  Norman Osborn got the location of his heart bomb (Long Island). While he raced off with his Avengers to greet Luke Cage, he had Victoria Hand contact Jonas Harrow to begin the countdown.  This changed the bomb's signal once again.  Norman chased the bomb's signal down and found that it's location is very personal: It's located at his summer home right on his bed.  His house exploded as Luke Cage, the New Avengers and all their friends celebrated from Avengers Hideout.  Surgery was successful and revenge was super sweet.  The Hood's Syndicate met onboard the HAMMER Helicarrier and Parker blew Jonas Harrow's head off.  After getting scolded, the Syndicate was told that it needs to operate under different rules now.  They officially worked for Norman Osborn.  Their first mission?  Hunt down the New Avengers and friends.  Same as the last mission.

In this issue, the Hood powered up his people for their mission to seek out the New Avengers and gave them an added bonus: they can now track the New Avengers through their powers.  Steve and Bucky surveyed the sight of their last base which also happened to be Steve Rogers' home.  It's rubble now and guarded by HAMMER agents.  The two heroes are attacked by the Living Laser and the Corruptor (who puts Bucky under mind control).  Spider-Man and Woman are keeping an eye on Avengers Tower while discussing the Dark Reign, why it sucks, and how it'll all blow up in Ozzy's face.  Steve raids his own home and beats up a few federal agents while recovering his old energy shield.  Mandrill and the Griffon locate Spider-Man and Spider-Woman and get their fight on.  Bucky Cap is forced to shoot at Steve while the Corruptor gets pictures.  The bullet does some crazy ricocheting around the room after bouncing off Roger's shield and hits the Corruptor in the neck.  The Living Laser decides to stop messing around and just start killing.  Griffin is throwing Spider-Man all over the place while his partner, Mandrill, is fighting Spider-Woman.  Jessica Drew becomes the victim of another mind control ploy on the part of the Mandrill and is ordered to blast Peter Parker out of the sky.  With that done, Mandrill's next demand is the location of the rest of the Avengers.


Hey look.  It's the Syndicate.  Again.  They never get old. 

Because of Loki, Parker Robbins is back to being powered up courtesy of the Norn Stones.  Thanks to Jonas Harrow, he also had to deal with a little bit of unrest in his ranks.  He's taken care of Harrow but the fallout from the Syndicate's actions will still need to be dealt with.  Because of their foul-ups, they are officially part of Osborn's Syndicate now.  They've gotta work for the former Green Goblin in an official capacity.  A lot of that is Avengers: The Initiative territory but the rest happens right here.  Norman has ordered the Syndicate to track down and kill the New Avengers and their allies.

Which is pretty much what they've been trying to do ever since Civil War ended.

To make things just slightly different than the last four times the Syndicate went after the New Avengers, this time Parker is powering everyone up even more with his Norn Stones.  The Hood also grants them one added ability: they can now track other people with powers.  Like the New Avengers.  It's hunting time.

Steve Roger's home is in ruins.  This is because he left it in the hands of James "Bucky" Barnes who also started dressing up as Captain America.  When the New Avengers found themselves still on the outs followings Secret Invasion, Bucky Cap let them crash at Steve's house because they were Steve's Avengers team.  It wouldn't be the first New Avengers base to get exploded and... it probably won't be the last.  It's kind of a theme with this team and since there's going to be a New Avengers book post-Siege, we'll see more Avengers bases blow up.  Just you wait.

Steve's just recently returned from the dead to find that the world is even more messed up than when he left.  The heroes are on the outs and the villains are running the show.  Also: his house is rubble and being guarded by HAMMER Agents.  He's a little bit pissed off at that but he's hiding it well.  At least the Avengers weren't in it when the Dark Avengers blew the thing up, right?  Rogers and Barnes are taking a look at the action on the ground as HAMMER Agents try recovering any Captain America artifacts they can.

Enter: The Living Laser.

He's decided to track down two Avengers that don't really have powers.  OK, Bucky's got the cyborg arm and Steve has the super-soldier serum running through his veins.  Still, you'd think they'd get a better signal on Luke Cage or Ms. Marvel.

Laser blasts the building that the two Caps are standing on and the battle is joined.  Bucky starts firing his gun but that's not really going to do more than annoy the Laser.  Down below, HAMMER Agents notice what's happening above their heads.  It's hard to miss the Living Laser's light show.  Steve must have been knocked all the way down to ground level because the next we see him, he's dodging bullets in the rubble of his former home.  The HAMMER Agents don't exactly know who's running around among them because Steve isn't wearing his offical uniform.  He's all black combat suit now days.

Bucky isn't giving up on the gun thing.  He's still firing it at the dude made of lasers.  When LL tells him how useless those bullets are, Cap follows it up with a shield throw.  It's just as effective. 

While that attack fails miserably, the Corruptor's attack is totally successful.  It seems like no Syndicate member is out alone tonight so the Laser's partnering up with Jackson Day.  The Corruptor manages to touch Cap's skin which means that Bucky is now under his command.  Since the Hood charged up the Corruptor's powers, there's very little chance that the Avenger will be able to resist.  Corruptor explains all this to Bucky and then makes him kiss his gun.  This probably isn't very hygenic.

Peter and Jessica are not on a date.  They're doing recon work.  The Spider-People are keeping an eye on the activities going on at Avengers Tower while keeping a nice safe distance from the area.  There are a lot of airships showing up around the Tower.  Since this is happening right before Siege, Jessica isn't wrong when she surmises that something is seriously going on over there.

The conversation turns in Spidey's direction and why the dude isn't more angry about how his worst enemy and all around crazy person is running the free world.  Obviously, Spider-Woman hasn't read American Son.  Peter is furious.  He hates that Norman Osborn isn't in JAIL let alone that he's Director of HAMMER.  What he's come to realize though is that this current situation can't last.  It's going to end because Norman can't keep up the act much longer.  Sure, he can't rush in and kill Osborn.  He CAN help hurry Ozzy's downfall by keeping the finger pointing in the villain's direction.  Most important: Osborn's going to do a lot of crazy stuff that just can't be covered up.  Norman's going to provide the rope to hang himself with.  Just give him time.

This kind of crazy talk makes Spider-Woman check her watch.  Not because she's bored.  Jessica's watch is an alien detector.  She just checked to see if Spidey was a Skrull.  Peter notices that.  Jessica explains the whole Agent of SWORD bit to Spider-Man and tries to sell us all on the idea of her ongoing series.  We'll see how effective that is.  ;)

Back at Steve's burnt-out husk of a home, the former Captain America is still being pursued by HAMMER Agents who haven't figured out who this is.  They just know something is going down and they don't have all the information on it just yet.  Rogers is a much better soldier than these guys which means they really don't stand a chance against him.  He subdues two Agents with relative ease and then starts searching the rubble for something to fight super villains with.  Steve sees the ammunition cabinet and rejects it.  He's not about to pick up a gun.  He's looking for something else.

As he's pushing the cabinet aside, Rogers is confronted by another HAMMER Agent which is, again, easily taken care of.  Steve keeps digging in the rubble until he finds something he can work with: his old energy shield from Mark Waid's second run on the book!  I love this shield!  Steve finds it just in time to deflect some bullets.
newavengers61.jpg

Those bullets weren't coming from HAMMER Agents.  Those HAMMER dudes actually seem pretty shy about firing their guns after their original panic.  These bullets were coming from a mind controlled Bucky Cap.

The Living Laser and the Corruptor aren't the only Syndicate members hunting Avengers tonight.  Mandrill and the Griffon are out looking as well.  Mandrill has some deluded notion that bagging himself a New Avenger will get him a spot on the Dark Avengers roster.  Griffon?  He's having second thoughts about working for the Hood.  He's not really a team guy.  After talking like this for a page, Mandrill suddenly picks up energy signatures on Spider-Man and Spider-Woman.  Griffon?  Not so much.  Maybe those Norn Storns aren't as effective as Loki let on.

Back in Manhattan, Jessica and Peter's conversation is getting more and more awkward for the two.  They got into the "are we on a date?" territory and it went downhill from there.  At this point, they might actually be happy to get into a fight with some Syndicate losers.  Unfortunately, those two losers are powered up like never before.

In Brooklyn, Bucky has his gun pointed pretty close to Steve's head.  While the two Captain Americas talk it out, the Corruptor and the Living Laser watch this go down.  Laser just wants to end it quick because prolonging things is a sure way for them to go horribly, horribly wrong.  Corruptor is old school, though.  He wants to savor this moment.  Steve tries to convince James that he can beat this mind control schtick but the influence is damn strong. 

Since the place is crawling with HAMMER Agents, another squad shows up on the scene.  Again, they aren't going to shoot first and ask questions never, these guys are good, old government agents.  They give the official warning, hands on your head, yadda yadda yadda.  Laser shoots them all dead.  If he can just kill the Caps, he'll at least take care of some extras.

Corruptor has spent the time getting out his camera and setting up the scene.  He orders Barnes to fire and Bucky Cap has no choice but to comply.

Steve lifts his energy shield just in time to not get shot in the face.  At this point, the projectile becomes a magic bullet.  It bounces off the energy shield, hits Cap's shield, bounces off a ceiling girder, takes out the Corruptor's camera (which also causes an electric shock), and then hits the Corruptor in the neck as the villain topples over.

Rogers throws Barnes across the room for some reason.  Maybe he's hoping this will shock his friend out of mind control.  I'm not an expert at the Corruptor's powers and don't know that if taking the villain out of the fight will free a victim of his influence.  Hitting the wall seems to have helped but both Caps don't have a chance to escape before the Laser decides it's time to end this thing permanent-like.

One more scene change and we're done for this comic.  Back in Manhattan, the Spiders are not doing well agains the Griffon and Mandrill.  Griffon is throwing Spidey all over the place.  Mandrill has Spider-Woman by the neck.  That power upgrade is working pretty well for these two.  While Peter is being dealt with, Mandrill lets Spider-Woman in on one of his less known powers: he can control women.  Yeah, it's that kind of issue.

Mind control all around.

Mandrill orders Spider-Woman to kill Spider-Man and Jessica fires off a bio-electric blast to do just that.  Spider-Man drops like a rock to the street below, possibly unconscious.  That's one down.  Now, before Mandrill orders Spider-Woman to kill herself, he orders her to tell him just where the other Avengers are hiding out.

ati32.jpgAvengers: The Initiative #32
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Mahmud Asrar


Last issue, Norman Osborn called Taskmaster up to inform him of an impending inspection and, possibly, a new job offer. Taskmaster was actually partying it up with his people and had to cover for the loud music playing during the phone conversation. After that's all over, he got down to brass tacks and put everyone in line for tomorrow's inspection. Norman had to explain to the Hood why putting Taskmaster on the Cabal was a good idea. Taskmaster ran around Camp HAMMER and got everyone on the same page for the impending inspection. Constrictor dealt with Diamondback's double agent status by not turning her in and continuing with what he thought was a big lie. The Avengers Resistance noticed the U-Foes depositing a huge chunk of change into a private account and wondered why that would possibly be happening. Ultragirl confronted Tigra on her extreme techniques taking down the Hood's thugs, learned what the Hood did to Tigra, and got talked down to. Taskmaster had a heart-to-heart with Constrictor about accepting a larger position in Osborn's organization. Norman inspected the troops and finds them perfectly well-scripted. Taskmaster told Osborn what he would like the Initiative to be, Norman liked what he heard and offered the man a position on the Cabal. We replayed Taskmaster's short time with the Cabal from the Siege: The Cabal One-shot. Finally, we got the aftermath where a very injured Taskmaster tried to get out of the Cabal and was nearly killed by Osborn.

In this issue, Taskmaster gives us the quick version of his Secret Origin leading right up to recent events before giving us a look at just what he's up to RIGHT NOW: staring down an angry thunder god.  We cut back a few hours to watch the various Initiative and Dark Avenger members aboard the HAMMER Helicarrier flying to Oklahoma for the big throwdown with Asgard.  Diamond Back and Constrictor have a little talk about what they should do during the battle and about their relationship.    Constrictor switches partners and has a heart to heart with Taskmaster next.  We cut right to the Siege of Asgard as Taskmaster finds himself way over his head before watching one of the Initiative members get killed off after panicking.  After that, it's all business.  At Avengers Resistance HQ, the Resistance members are boldly watching the Siege on the bold television set.  They know that the whole event was staged to bring about the Siege and decide to break into Camp HAMMER to get as much evidence on Ozzy as they possibly can.  Our Initiative Members watch as Thor enters the battle and is quickly knocked away by the Sentry.  Osborn orders all the heavy hitters down front to finish the Asgardian off but Taskmaster and Diamondback join in as well for their own reasons.  They're right there to get their picture on television looming over Thor's unconscious form.


Taskmaster.  One of the most awesome super villains ever.  No.  Seriously.  He's pretty great.  The secret to his success?  It sure isn't his George Pérez design.  Pérez doesn't do good designs, after all.  No, Taskmaster is awesome because he's rarely shown to be the chump.  He's mostly win unless fighting it out with Deadpool or something. 

The secret to that success?  Taskmaster has photoelectric reflexes.  That means that if he sees it, he can do it.  Perfectly.  Every time.  You'd think that would mean that he'd still need to keep physically fit in order to pull of moves like Captain America but, according to his brief Secret Origin and history listed in the opening pages of this very comic, Taskmaster didn't do any excercising if he could help it.  He just watches the best guy do something and emulates it perfectly.

When it came to choosing a career path, Taskmaster found the world of professional sports too boring for him and turned to the world of super heroes and villains instead.  Finding various reasons for never wanting to be a hero or villain, Taskmaster decided to train henchmen for other bad guys.  He got paid a finders fee to the various super villains for his trained lackeys and also got paid by those same lackeys for the training he gave them.  It was win/win.

Best of all?  Since Taskmaster has an actual talent for training people, on the few times he WAS captured by the authorities, he was able to make a deal with them for the training of this person or that person.  That's how he ended up in the Initiative in the first place. 

When Norman Osborn came to powers, Taskmaster was put in charge of Camp HAMMER and has been training bad guys to act like good guys ever since.  It's been a pretty sweet gig all over. 

Well, until he found himself staring at Thor, god of thunder.  The good life may be done.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  Yes, Taskmaster faces off against Thor and we even get teased to that after Tasky's self-told origin.  Right after that moment, however, we cut back a few hours in time to the HAMMER Helicarrier which is, even now, enroute to Broxton, Oklahoma and a battle with destiny.  Or Asgardians.  I get those two mixed up sometimes. 

The Helicarrier is loaded up with Dark Avengers and Initiative members because this mission is going to take everything Norman Osborn has.  Taskmaster gave Constrictor a vague warning about what they were going to face, but this whole thing is beyond Constrictor's wildest doomsday scenarios.  Fighting gods.  Lots of them.  He's also a little pissed off that Taskmaster sent him a letter.  In the mail.  C'mon, Tasky!  Join the digital age!

Most of the Initiative are talking about facing down with the Asgardians but their talk actually calms them down more than anything else.  Thor, after all, is an exception among the Asgardians.  He's super powerful and has that mystic hammer.  Most Asgardians are powered up compared to normal people but are more on Spider-Man's level.  This means it won't be a cakewalk but it won't be like fighting a city of Thors either.

That doesn't actually make Constrictor feel much better.  He's being a very over protective boyfriend to Diamondback and keeps giving her advice on how to survive this whole ordeal.  It's pretty demeaning, actually.  Still, he knows she's a double agent and hasn't turned her in.  He's got that crazy love look in his eyes.  Diamondback tells Constrictor that she hasn't been able to contact the Resistance but she still needs to go with the Initiative.  Sieging Asgard is too important an event to be sidelined during. 

Taskmaster has let the two lovers chat for long enough.  Now, HE wants to do some chatting and pulls Constrictor away to do so.  He and Constrictor have bonded for some reason in the last few issues of Initiative.  Taskmaster gives Constrictor the advice that they should both go against their nature.  The two are too level headed.  Too down to earth.  The winners out there lose big but their wins are equally big.  Taskmaster believes the new secret to success is to get a little nuts.  Hell, go a lot nuts.  You might as well. 

Now, we can cut right ahead to the action already in progress.  We aren't to the moment that Taskmaster is facing down a Thor locomotive just yet.  Right now, we're just in Siege mode as the Initiative attacks the Asgardians inside their own walls.  It's damn bloody.  Taskmaster is in the middle of a panic attack.  He sees the Asgardians (like Sif, for example) and gets a reminder in his head that he sent a bunch of loser villains off to die in the retaking of the Negative Zone prison, 42.  In this battle, Tasky sees himself as the cannon fodder.

Just then, he's sees another Initiative member panic and start running.  The dude is almost immediately shot down.  That's enough to remind Taskmaster that he isn't a loser.  He's the frickin' Taskmaster and he's here to kick some tail feathers.  He jumps right back into battle and starts taking down enemies.

And now we'll take a break from Siege and join the Avengers Resistance at their headquarters.  You might think that they'd be ready to jump to the defense of Asgard or at least check into what other heroes are doing about this and joining up.  Instead, they're watching it on TV.  Yeah.  TV.  Why are heroes watching so much television when they should be out doing something?  Haven't they seen those Shrek PSAs about getting outside and verbing?  It's embarrassing.

The news is still showing TV footage of the Soldier Field massacre.  It happened last night and the Avengers Resistance is just hearing about it now.  I'll be fair: this comic reads like a bad Pulp Fiction movie in how it keeps jumping backwards and forwards in time.  This particular moment has a specific caption marking it "Earlier."  So... it happens before Siege but after Volstagg did his dirty biz in Chicago.

The U-Foes are on TV making sure that everyone knows exactly who was responsible for this event: Asgard.  I'm pretty certain that the U-Foes were intended to slink back into the night and not get caught being involved in this event but that's not how it's going down in A:TI.  The U-Foes were there and they're on television to prove it.  Honestly?  It might make the Soldier Field Massacre less ambiguous in who's actually responsible but it makes more sense now that we saw the U-Foes participating in the Siege of Asgard on the ground and up front and center.  If Soldier Field were a secret op, the U-Foes would have been better to just disappear for a while.  Making their involvement public solidifies their later appearances.  At least to me.  I'm probably over-thinking it. <_<

With the U-Foes coming out and admitting they were there, it doesn't take a rocket scientest to figure out that Soldier Field was exactly why Norman was paying the U-Foes extra money.  Night Thrasher had apparently figured it out a bit earlier but he informed the rest of the Resistance too late to make a difference... possibly on purpose?  No matter, Thrasher will have plenty of other chances to betray his friends.  For now, the Resistance is pretty certain that Osborn was trying to recreate a Stamford-like event.  That hits home extra hard since many key members of the Resistance are former New Warriors and the Stamford Massacre involved quite a few New Warriors.

Justice sets people in motion.  Ultragirl is sent to gather up other Resistance members.  Tigra runs off to contact all those rebellious Avengers units and see what the plan is on aiding Asgard.  Night Thrasher collects all the data that the Resistance has built up against Osborn during Dark Reign.  Justice wants it emailed out to each and every news network in the world.  This will do a lot to bury Norman Osborn but the former Green Goblin is a master manipulator of the media and could still spin things back his way.  That means that they're going to have to bury Ozzy much harder than by just using emails.

They're going to have to raid Camp HAMMER and get as much dirty evidence as they can find.

Probably make more sense raiding Avengers Tower but... well, whatever.

Back in Asgard, Taskmaster is still in true form.  Constrictor and Diamondback watch on and are pretty damn impressed.  Constrictor is STILL being an over protective boyfriend and it's really starting to tick Diamondback off.
avengerstheinitiative32.jpg

Constrictor tells his girlfriend to hide while she's trying to contact her Avenger allies.  Again, this is not how to win Diamondback's heart.  Not by a longshot.

Just then, in the skies, Thor enters the battle.  Our three Initiative members mark this is their own special way: Diamondback looks on with awe, Constrictor looks afraid, and Taskmaster has a skull mask which totally hides his reaction.

When Sentry swiftly knocks Thor away from Asgard, Taskmaster sees it as a sign that the day is theirs.  Norman calls all his heavy-hitting super soldiers in to finish Thor off.  While Taskmaster isn't anywhere near that power class, he still jumps on his jet sled just to be a part of Thor's fall.  Skitting off, he tells Constrictor to stay in Asgard and look after Diamondback.

Diamondback, however, isn't one to just stay where she's told.  She's also jumped on a sky sled in order to reach the thunder god.  Diamondback isn't going out to join in the battle, though.  She's planning on making a save on Thor's behalf.  Unfortunately, she chickens out when she sees the powers arrayed against the founding Avenger.  She doesn't really have the power to face these guys on equal terms and hesitates in her decision for far too long.

Taskmaster is way outclassed here but, with the help of the power hitters, he still gets to look good as he makes a swipe at Thor with his shield.  Norman Osborn himself ends the fight by dropping the thunder god to the ground for the KO.

Diamondback and Taskmaster were both there.  They both see themselves as somewhat responsible for the fall of Thor but the two are on different ends of the emotional spectrum about how they feel about that.

ssahav1.jpgSiege: Storming Asgard- Heroes & Villains #1
Writers: John Rhett Thomas, Jess Harrold, & Dugan Trodglen
Artist: Various


Hey, look at that cover!  It's a Greg Land masterpiece!  I bet if you look somewhere on the internet, someone has mapped out every photo reference that Land traced to make that thing.  Oh!  Bonus points: The male looking Loki front and center?  Land originally drew him as his female variant.  No one gave him the memo that Loki returned to the testosterone side.

This issue is actually one of those Marvel Universe-type books focusing on who's who in the Siege event.  Since Siege is the wrap-up for Dark Reign, it features every member of the Cabal whether in good standing or not.  It goes on to give us a view on the major Asgardians, Frontline, the Hood's Syndicate, Dark Avengers, New Avengers, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Wasp... and ends with a one-page entry for the rest of the Mighty Avengers roster.  It seems one of these Avengers teams is of very minor importance to the goings on of Siege.  I wonder which one that is...

The book is written up to seem like some HAMMER Agents are filing a report on these guys to Norman Osborn.  The problem with that is that the rank and file of HAMMER have no clue that Norman is running the Cabal.  Hell, even Hand and the Dark Avengers should be unaware of that.  This book makes it seem like it's common knowledge.  So don't expect this to be cannon.  Heck, don't expect Hand's personal assessments to mean a damn thing in Siege.  Odds are pretty likely that they were written by people that either didn't have common knowledge on how Siege was going to actually turn out or at least are pretending that they don't have a clue how this will play. 

Basically, don't expect any hints in the text on how the plot of Siege will go down.  That's all basically fan fiction.  If you want a look at the major players of Siege and you don't mind that it's written from some fake HAMMER Agent's perspective, then this book will offer you some entertainment.  If you'd rather just get your information without it looking like fan fiction, try Wikipedia.  They might even be more accurate. ;)

 

drh5.jpgDark Reign: Hawkeye #5
Writers: Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston
Penciler: Andres Guinaldo


Last issue, Hawkeye killed a lot of fake Bullseyes who all proved pretty incompetent. He learned that the first fake (with the glass shard in his eye) is a teleporter before being tazed unconscious. Urich had another meeting with Deepthroat where he learned of a man named "Kingmaker" but not that dude's identity. Lester found out that the man behind the attempt at driving him mad(der) is his very own father, planning to switch minds with his son so that he could enjoy the ravages of youth. The teleporting Bullseye was revealed to be Solo, a minor hero who usually shows up in Spidey-titles, and also learns that he'd been working for the bad guys. Ben had a meeting with a dude named Spudger and got on the track of who "Kingmaker" was. Finally, Bullseye's dad (who happens to BE Kingmaker) made the mistake of forgetting all about the adamantium laced throughout Bullseye's skeleton as Lester rose from the operating table to take some revenge on his poppa.

In this issue, Bullseye starts killing people on his way to murder daddy.  Even though Solo knows that Kingmaker had been deceiving him the entire time, he still teleports in and saves the man.  Ben Urich gets more information from Spudger about Kingmaker, Bullseye, the NSA, and why international intrigue isn't actually that intriguing.  Deepthroat gives Urich another phone call and decides that it's time to stop being cryptic and actually give some information.  Ben just has to meet him in two hours.  Kingmaker loads himself into his personal VTOL jet while Solo gets ready to get into a fight he can't possibly win.  After beating up Solo (but missing the killshot thanks to the magic of teleportation), Lester follows his father around in a Quinjet.  He ends up smashing his jet into his dad's jet, making sure to eject before impact.  Kingmaker isn't so lucky.  He goes down with his craft.  On the ground, Bullseye makes sure his father is dead, watching the man burn alive at the crash site.  Ben meets up with Deepthroat only to find that someone has killed his contact before arrival.  Urich would probably be killed as well but Kingmaker is dead and unable to confirm the kill order.  Ben runs off and decides that this line of questioning might need to be shelved until new evidence is provided.


I remember back in the day buying X-Men Vs. the Avengers.  It was a four issue mini-series where the Avengers go after Magneto and the X-Men defend him and... that's not really the point I was going for.  The point is the first three issues were written by Roger Stern and penciled by Marc Silvestri.  The fourth and final issue was written by Jim Shooter & Tom DeFalco and penciled by Keith Pollard.  The fourth issue was a satisfying conclusion, I guess, but it was still finished off by a completely different creative team for some reason.

This issues is a lot like that, actually.  It's also phenomenally late.  Maybe Andy Diggle and Tom Raney forgot they were working on it.  Oh, sure.  Diggle is listed with a writing credit but a brand new guy is also credited.  I'm just throwing this out as a Wild Guess, but I'm betting it's Diggle's original plot with Antony Johnston providing scripts over the top.  Guinaldo is pretty capable but I really wish Tom Raney would have been able to finish up this mini.  I guess they really needed him on Black Widow: Deadly Origin.

But you people aren't here to read a review about the creative team.  You're here to find out what happens in this book.  Let's find out!

After last issue, good ol' Bullseye is fighting mad.  It might be his base state of being, but, right now, he's got a pretty good reason.  His dad was trying to kill him and steal his body.  Lester was stuck to a table and everything.  Unfortunately for Bullseye's dad, the Kingmaker, everyone forgot about Lester's adamantium skull.  That messed with all of Kingmaker's medical inhibitor equipment.

So the Dark Avenger is rising from the table and everyone else is freaking out.  Since Kingmaker is a cripple these days, there's no real sport in killing the man (oh, Bullseye will totally do it but there's just no rush).  Instead, he kills the Doctor and the two nurses before enjoying himself with big poppa.

This gives Kingmaker time to reach the intercom and call up his good friend Solo.  Solo learned last issue that he'd been set-up by Kingmaker to unwittingly serve the man's terrorist agenda.  Since Solo is very anti-terrorist, it's not something that sits well with him.  When Kingmaker calls him up for help he refuses on this basis alone.  Kingmaker makes an excuse that the lies were told for Bullseye's benefit... not Solo's.  It's clear that Solo doesn't believe Kingmaker but the teleporter does agree to help out if only to get the information he needs to take out more terrorist cells.

Solo 'ports down just in time to save Kingmakers life and frustrate Bullseye by grabbing the Dark Avenger's killing syringe right out of the air on his 'port in.   Solo doesn't want the villain to die until certain information changes hands.  Kingmaker isn't a fool.  He's not giving up anything unless he's rescued from his current predicament.  Solo does the teleport thing again just in time to avoid another fatal projectile delivered by Hawkeye.

There was a subplot going on that just BARELY related to the main story.  Ben Urich, publisher of Frontline, has been investigating connections between the NSA, Kingmaker, and Bullseye.  He's been led on a chase by the mysterious "Deepthroat" and that trail has led him to Newark New Jersey to a former contact: Spudger.  Spudge has some very uninteresting information to give out relating to Kingmaker's fall from NSA grace and his placement in an underground prison with Bullseye.  No one is talking about WHY Kingmaker was in an underground prison or how the crippled man was able to escape but this whole thing is all spies and stuff.  Kingmaker is no longer working for the NSA at this point in time but has still apparently reactivated the Peace Through Sufficient Firepower terror cell and is kind of messing with Bullseye for some reason.  It's a wierd case all around but it's interesting enough to Ben Urich that the reporter wants to continue his investigation.

Spudger?  Not so much.  He just wants to be left alone.  He tells Ben that this is his last assist.  Ever.  Leave him alone.

So Ben takes off with even more questions than he started with and not a lot of evidence or hard fact to base a story on.  It's all chasing windmills at this point.  It's not much later that he gets a call from Deepthroat.  After being all mysterious about the evidence for the last four issues, DT is all about meeting and revealing all now.  Apparently, he has a very good reason for making Urich jump through these hoops.  All will be revealed in two very short hours.

Meanwhile, Kingmaker, Solo, and that PTSF terror cell are making an escape from whatever secret base they're in right now.  The base is primed for self destruct in an attempt to make Bullseye a whole lot deader.  Yes, that's totally going to work. 

Solo again tries to get that terrorist information out of Kingmaker but the old codger isn't ready to give up his ace in the hole.  If he revealed that info, Solo would have no reason to keep him alive and Kingy knows it.  Instead, Kingmaker promises to reveal the information later.  If Solo survives.  At the back up location.  Kingmaker loads himself into his VTOL jet and takes off to apparent safety, leaving Solo ten minutes to try to kill Bullseye.  If Kingy is lucky, the two will take each other out. 

Bullseye knows all about that self-destruct timer and is trying to find his own way out of this base.  He sees his Quinjet resting comfortably on the launchpad and decides that it would be pretty ideal.  Before he has the chance, Solo sneaks up behind him and points a gun to the dude's head.  Poor Solo.  He should have just fired the thing instead of giving Hawkeye a warning.

Now, we all know that there's no way Solo is going to win this fight.  What we DON'T know is if he's going to SURVIVE this fight.  Hawkeye is damn good and this is HIS book.  Last issue, Lester even told Solo that there would be assassination in his future coming in the general Bullseye direction.  As far as Bullseye's concerned, Solo's days are numbered.

The fight is fun, though.  Solo kicks Hawkeye into a batch of PTSF soldiers and the Dark Avenger kills most of them, throwing a bunch of screws right into their foreheads.  He also uses a witty pun during the attack so it might have been the pun that does most of the damage.  The remaining PTSF guys don't find this at all worth it and make a run for it.  Heck, it's best to get out of this base before the inevitable explosion.

That means it's back to a Hawkeye versus Solo face-down.  After a couple teleport tricks, Lester figures out Solo's pattern.  He fires two shots in Solo's direction and, as always, the counter-terrorism operative teleports out of the way.  That's ok because it works right into Bullseye's plan.  The bullets ricochet off the walls andend up striking right where Solo reappears.  Turns out Solo has a tendency to teleport behind people.  It's a good strategy until someone with Hawkeye's aim figures it out.

Wait.  Two comics in one week with ricocheting bullets?  I call shenanigans.

Bullseye tries getting a killshot off but Solo teleports away before that happens.  Looks like Solo will live to fight another day.  Bullseye now has another problem on his hands.  This base will self-destruct in 20 seconds.  That's not a lot of time to make it to a Quinjet.

But it's enough.  Hawkeye makes his big escape and then starts tracking his dad's location.  The Quinjet is pretty much the fastest thing in the sky so it covers the distance between it's current location and Kingmaker's pretty quickly.

Bullseye does a very close fly-by to freak his dad out but the maneuver puts him in position for a target lock.  Kingmaker fires a missile at the Quinjet and Lester needs to do some fancy flying not only to avoid getting hit, but also lead the heat-seeker right back to sender.  Kingmaker deploys some countermeasures to get rid of that threat and then taunts his son on the radio for a little bit.

The Quinjet, after all, has no offensive weaponry.  You'd think Osborn would have changed that but he's not all that big on Quinjets anyway.  He's more about just taking the HAMMER Helicarrier instead of messing with smaller craft.  That thing is LOADED with armaments.

Kingmaker has forgotten one little thing.
drhawkeye5.jpg

Everything is a weapon to Bullseye.  Including the Quinjet.  He's preparing to fly that thing right up Kingmaker's nose.  It's an awesome explosion.  Lester, of course, ejected at the last minute.  Kingmaker wasn't so lucky.  It's possible that, because of his handicap, Kingmaker just didn't have an ejection seat.  It's also possible that Kingmaker just didn't react fast enough.

Regardless of the reason, Bullseye's dad plummets to the ground in the remains of his craft.  On the ground, that thing begins to start a nice little fire.  Hawkeye shows up soon after the crash.  Kingmaker is still in the flaming cockpit, burning alive.  His pleas for help fall on deaf ears.  Lester isn't here to do any rescuing.  He's here to watch his dad burn and make sure that this time it's the end.

We view the next scene throught the scope of a sniper rifle.  Ben Urich is showing up in Central Park for his rendezvous with Deepthroat.  This is for the promised reveal of everything we ever wanted to know about the NSA, Bullseye, and the Kingmaker.  Deepthroat is already sitting on a park bench waiting for Urich

Yeah, he's not gonna get anything.  This story is a dead end and I mean DEAD.  Deepthroat isn't alive, having already been shot through the head before Urich even arrived.  Ben discovers this and quickly makes his getaway.  The important bit here?  The sniper was keeping his gun ready to take out Urich as well.  All he was waiting for was the kill order to be confirmed by Kingmaker.  Lucky for Ben, Kingmaker is already dead and the kill order is never confirmed.

While Ben is racing away from the crime scene, he gets a call from Robbie Robertson, his editor-in-chief at Frontline.  Robbie's got some news about Norman Osborn showing up and threatening to close the paper down but it's a side note by this point.  What really matters is that story Ben's working on.  How's that going, anyway?  Ben tells Robbie that it's a no where story.  His main contact is gone and the evidence he's gathered so far is super thin.  It's probably time to drop this thing and work on something that actually shows some merit. 

Ben was freaked out by what just happened, but I'm pretty sure he dropped the story because there wasn't much of one to tell.  It was just a bunch of conspiracy theories with little-to-no evidence that could back up anything.  The one guy that could provide more evidence?  Dead.  

Bullseye is enjoying his little fire late in the day when he finally gets a call from Norman Osborn regarding his location.  Lester answers the call asks for a pick-up.  When Osborn asks him what he's been up to, Bullseye responds that it was a "family emergency" and is all cleared up now.  We get a good look at his dad's still-burning skull– bullseye already carved into the it's forehead.

And that, dear readers, is probably the last Dark Reign title.  It's possible we'll still have some stragglers, but we're all ready to move into Siege territory now and, soon, it'll be Heroic Age time.  See ya, Dark Reign.  You were pretty awesome, actually.

gotg22.jpgGuardians of the Galaxy #22
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Brad Walker


Last issue, Moondragon and the Luminals were attacked by a lethal entity from the Fault.  The Guardians came to the rescue but the ensuing battle led to that little entity taking up inhabitance inside Moondragon.  Moondragon is dealing with the consequences of that, when the Luminals made their play for the thing and their leader, Cynosure, shackled herself to Moony with biometric cuffs.  Drax ended up buying them some time by claiming parental right over Moondragon to the Knowhere Administrative Council but that only ended up giving the Church of Universal Truth a chance at securing Moondragon for their own ends.  Drax tried to rescue Heather but got blasted by the Church Matriarch and forced to relive all the pain he's inflicted on others in a very short period of time.  With that, the Church representatives beamed out of Knowhere with their prize: a new god to worship and glorify.

In this issue, the Matriarch of the Church of Universal Truth does a little gloating and posturing over Moondragon and recieves some threats in return.  Star-Lord teleports in for a rescue attempt and brings the entire Knowhere station with him for back-up.  Cardinal Raker goes one on one with Drax the Destroyer.  Moondragon has a vision of her dead girlfriend, Phyla, who offers her some words of encouragement.  Everone who has ever been a Luminal joins the rescue attempt.  Cardinal Raker is killed by Drax.  Moondragon is successfully rescued and, back on Knowhere, they are able to separate her from that evil monster life creature.  The Guardians have a meeting with the Knowhere Administrative Council and avoid getting kicked off station with some help from the Luminals.  Groot throws the small slice of baby evil back into the Fault.  Heather has a talk with her father and the two make plans to search out the fate of Phyla.  The Matriarch of the Church of Universal Truth is apologizing to her master about failing to deliver baby evil into the world and we learn that Magus isn't dead and neither are the other presumed dead members of the Guardians!


The Church of Universal Truth has some weird ideas about what lies inside the Fault.  They believe that within lies the keys to salvation or something.  As such, they believe that whatever Moondragon is hiding in her belly must be pure, concentrated awesome.  They are totally and completely wrong.  What is actually inside Moondragon is a cancerous monster from a universe where life has won.  It turns out that life winning makes people that much more violent and evil.  Who knew?

Take the Matriarch of the Church.  Shes arranged for Moondragon to be collected from Knowhere and brought to this very planet to force the Guardian into giving birth to the most evil god baby ever.  She's pretty happy with herself and makes sure to bless the occasion and everyone involved, including Heather (that's Moondragon).

Moondragon is in no mood to be talked down to by some self righteous, intolerant, religious leader.  She also feels no need to hold back her true feelings.  After all, the birth of this creature will lead straight up into her death.  I figure that gives her some clarity that others might lack.  Heather tells the Matriarch that, as a mind reader, she can tell just what's bugging the Church leader.  The Matriarch is actually furious that Moondragon finds herself shackled to the Luminal leader, Cynosure.  It's a complication she could do without.  Furthermore, the forced birth is being powered by the faith energy of the entire planet.  When the evil messiah is brought into this world, the planet's faith energy will be all used up and nine billion people will die.  Finally, she knows that the Matriarch forced Drax, Heather's father, to relive every act of pain he'd delivered in his entire life in one short burst.  For that act alone, Heather plans on making the Matriarch die a lot.

The Matriarch has heard enough from this cosmic Madonna and the ceremony begins.

So... birth is gonna happen.  Moondragon tries to get Cynosure to release the bio-shackle and make her way to safety but the leader of the Luminals sees the crowd and knows her odds for escape are pretty much zero.  Cynosure is confident that her Luminal team is on it's way as she speaks and that rescue is at hand.

Rescue IS at hand but it's not the Luminals who enter the fray first.  It's Star-Lord.  He teleports right to the altar and he's got two guns for the occasion. 

Now, before we call Star-Lord a crazy man for teleporting into the middle of a nine billion hostiles with only two guns to his name, we have to back this up fifteen minutes to an earlier event.  It's Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon casing the crowd and coming up with a cunning plan.  Peter is coming up empty and believes this entire thing looks pretty hopeless.  No worries!  Rocket Raccoon has a little trick up his sleeve.

OK, back to the relative present.  Star-Lord is still flashing his guns and is ready to reveal the coup de grace.  It's Knowhere, the giant severed head of a Celestial that serves as the Guardians' headquarters on the edge of time and space.  It's appeared about the planet in an awesome display of power.  Rocket is in the driver's seat.  Knowhere eye beams the surface of the planet just so we get even more explosions for our money.

The chaos goes a long way to shake up the people of this planet.  The Guardians of the Galaxy teleport in to help take out the stragglers.
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By the way, this is just awesome after awesome.  Flying Knowhere in?  Awesome.  Guardians joining the fight?  Awesome.  Next up?  Well, after the Guardians show us how they do business by beating down some Truthers, a supposedly defeated Guardian steps up to the plate.  Drax the Destroyer takes the fight right to the Matriarch and Cardinal Raker.  

Now, last issue, Drax got a full blast of every bit of pain he had ever inflicted.  This was supposed to take him out pretty permanently but it obviously didn't.  It seems that that quick blast of super pain actually made Drax feel more human than he has in a long time.  

While Drax fights it out with Cardinal Raker, Cynosure decides that she now has a chance at getting out of this alive and disconnects those biometric shackles and joins in the fight.  She's actually covering Star-Lord and Moondragon's backs as they make their hasty retreat.  

This doesn't mean the battle is won.  Not by a long shot.  Moondragon is still just barely holding in the Fault entity and there are plenty of Truthers to get out of the way before this battle is concluded.  Moondragon almost loses control but suddenly has a vision of Phyla.  That would be her girlfriend, Martyr, who also happens to be dead at this time.  Weird, huh?  Phyla offers Heather some words of comfort that get her through this latest contraction.

Another wave of Truthers is on their way to offer support to the Church forces.  Don't worry, the Guardians have that mapped out as well.  To counter the reinforcements, Star-Lord has Rocket Raccoon call in the Guardians' second wave.

It's the Luminals.  Every Luminal.  Ever.  They're all here to lend a hand and rescue their leader, Cynosure.

Cardinal Raker and Drax's battle has gone on long enough.  It's about time that one of those Cardinals fell and Drax is here to make that a reality.  He stabs a knife right into Raker's head.  With that battle out of the way, Drax says hi to his kid and we wrap things up on this rescue.  Mission Accomplished.

Which doesn't mean we're done.  We've got lots of aftermath to deal with.  

First up: How did they manage to get Knowhere out without having a fight with the Knowhere Administrative Council?  Easy!  In it's first appearance back in Nova #9, we saw that Cosmo, the Soviet Dog who was in charge of Security at the time, could hide the population of Knowhere in a tesseract storage crystal when things went south.  Peter ended up doing the same with everyone in Knowhere.  It kept them safe and let the Guardians steal Knowhere without a fight.  Rocket Raccoon did the flying and brought the Celestial head right back to the edge of the universe at the end of the rescue.

This didn't go unnoticed.  Knowhere's Administrative Council  is all set to boot the Guardians off of the station for this whole situation.  Surprisingly, Cynosure threatens to remove the Luminals if the Guardians are thrown out.  The Luminals don't usually get along with the Guardians so it's all weird seeing the two teams support each other.  It shocks the hell out of Gorani, the Council's Chairperson.  I'm betting this period of goodwill won't last long but, while it does, they might as well enjoy the unity.

You night also be wondering about that demon monster Fault god that was being held inside Moondragon.  Obviously, it didn't blast out of her body and kill everyone it saw.  Away from the super faith energy of the Church of Universal Truth, Moondragon was able to prevent a premature birth and get the entity under control.  With that out of the way, Heather has extracted the Monster Entity more safely and gotten it in containment.  All that's left is getting rid of the damn thing.  Groot provides that answer for that.  He grabs the containment vessel holding the Entity and throws it back into the Fault where it can go back to it's Cancer-verse.

Moondragon is happy to be rid of the thing.  It seriously icked her out and she wants it as far away from her universe as it can possibly get.  

Heather shares her vision of Phyla with Drax, telling her dad that she saw Martyr at just the right time.  It turns out that this wasn't the first time Moondragon sensed the dead Guardians.  Ever since they died, she's been having psionic flashes of them.  She thought it was just stress and grief but it's time to look into it and find out what's actually going on.  Drax agrees to help her out.  Heck, he went on a mission with Phyla to rescue Moondragon from the clutches of death.  No reason to not do the same for Phyla.

Sacrosanct.  It's the homeworld for the Church of Universal Truth.  It's where the Matriarch and her inner circle have come to apologize for losing that evil baby god entity and for losing Cardinal Raker.  She promises quick retribution on the Guardians.  You might wonder who the Matriarch would answer to since she seemed to be the one in the driver's seat of the Church up to this point.  It turns out it's...

Magus.

Yep, he's still alive.  He's banking on that being a key advantage in battle against the Guardians and the rest of the Universe.

And, yes, behind Magus are the other presumed dead Guardians: Martyr, Cosmo, Major Victory, Mantis, and Gamorra.  They're being held in some sort of stasis but I'd bet you money that they're alive and well inside!

Go buy this book!  I swear it's all win.


 

ffa3.jpgFantastic Four Annual #3
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby


In this issue, Dr. Doom reads a paper!  He learns that his worst enemy is getting married and plans super evil revenge by influencing the emotions of the Marvel Universe bad guys to make it a wedding party no one will ever forget!  What follows is page upon page of guest stars galore as Marvel's top heroes and villains show up to pay their respects in the Mighty Marvel Manner!  That would involve lots of fighting, by the way.  Finally, the Watcher shows up to completely interfere with everything, bringing Reed to Uatu's home and letting him take a device that will solve everything.  The device is able to teleport everyone back to the point in time before they were influenced by Dr. Doom's emotion beam and leaves them with no memory of this battle.  While Uatu's device returns home, Marvel's heroes gather themselves together and get ready to witness the wedding of the century.  Stan and Jack try to get inside for the festivities but are turned back by Nick Fury.

Doctor Doom doesn't want his mortal enemy to be happy.  When he finds out that Reed Richards is about to marry the girl of his dreams, Sue Storm, it puts him into a rage that just can't be solved by tearing up a newspaper.  No, Doom is gonna solve this Doom-style. 

Doom surmises that the only way to defeat the Fantastic Four in the most permanent way possible is to attack them with sheer force of numbers.  To that end, he uses his Emotion Charger to make most of the baddies in the Marvel Universe REALLY want to crash Sue and Reed's wedding.

With his plan enacted, Victor Von Doom settles back to watch a marathon of The Greatest American Hero or something.  The point is, after setting this in motion, Doom only makes one more appearance in this issue and that's only for one tiny panel mid-adventure.

So let's see how his little plan works out for him, shall we?

When heroes get married in the Marvel Universe, they invite EVERYONE.  That means this annual is a great showcase for what was important in the Marvel Universe circa 1965.  Hey look!  It's Tony Stark in a top hat with a random girl on his arm!  If you're wondering about that top hat and how he can get away with it, he can't.  Ben Grimm totally makes fun of him for wearing it.  Stark rolls with the insult pretty well.

Soon after, our first super villain makes an attempt at the entrance to the Baxter Building.  It's... the Puppet Master!  He's controlling another man in a top hat in an attempt to shake hands with the Thing and load the hero up with enough poison to do Grimm in for good.  Ben almost falls right into the trap, too.  It's only the timely intervention of SHIELD that saves him.  SHIELD's using a device to scan brainwaves and it showed that this top hatted individual was under someone else's control.

His plan ruined, Puppet Master makes a quick getaway.  As he disappears down an alley, the Red Ghost and his Super Apes show up to start their own plan of attack.

More on that later.  For now, we join the Thing who is now inside the Baxter Building and fretting over either telling Reed that there might be more attempts to ruin his wedding or just letting the Fantastic Four's leader figure it out on his own.  He sees Professor Charles Xavier and decides to ask the Prof. for his advice. 

Before Xavier can provide any insight on Ben's problem, another one comes up.  It's the Mole Man and his Moloid army.  They drill right up for under the building and attack Ben right away.  This gives Xavier time to summon his X-Men to him.  Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, and Iceman quickly show up and duke it out with Mole Man and his army.

The X-Men push the underground forces back into their hole and Iceman covers it up with a thick layer of ice that keeps pushing the Moloids back down.  Ben decides that he's really got to go tell Reed now but, before he can do that, he hears screams coming from Sue's room.

Sue and Alicia are surrounded by Red Ghost's Super Apes.  This is a battle that Thing can't win alone.  Soon, the rest of the FF are also on the scene.  Now, it looks suspiciously like Sue is playing damsel in distress in this scene.  That's because she is.  They'd done a lot of good things taking Sue out of that role by amping her powers and putting a few wins under her belt but it looks like she's right back into her traditional female role.  I blame the wedding dress.

You could also argue that she's put up her invisible forcefield for Alicia's benefit, making sure that the only non-powered person in the room is protected.  That's a possibility.

The rest of the Four aren't able to get this battle under control on her own.  Luckily, they've got a guest star who can show them up.  Dr. Strange uses his magicky goodness to send Red Ghost and his Super Apes to another dimension.  That'll keep them out of the Four's hair for a while.

While the Fantastic Four try to figure out what to do, Dr. Doom switches the channel (during a commercial break, I'm sure) to check on the progress of his plan.  Looks like things are working out just fine for Doom.  Back to that television marathon.

We get a look at a lot of Supervillains that find themselves affected by Dr. Doom's Emotion Charger.  We've got Mandarin, Black Knight (the evil one), Kang (who's affected even though he's in the future), The Thinker, and the Grey Gargoyle.

And that's not all!  Thor is on his way to the Baxter Building when he's spots an alien vessel crossing the sky over the city.  Inside is the Super Skrull who, once he sees the god of thunder, starts blasting away.  Thor falls from the sky but quickly recovers and returns fire, destroying the Super Skrull's craft.

That battle isn't over yet.  The Fantastic Four see the firefight in the sky and Johnny heads off to investigate.  While the Human Torch is gone, Reed and Sue hold each other close and rue the day they decided to have a huge ceremony.  The two should have just eloped. 

But, now, they've got business to attend to.  They see their lawyer, Matt Murdock, in the hallway and tell him to make an announcement to the wedding guests that the ceremony might be delayed until the super villains are taken care of. 

Matt passes the job off to Foggy Nelson and Karen Paige.  He makes an excuse to get away and then changes into Daredevil just in time to intervene in a Hydra attack. 

Hydra has loaded up a huge bomb onto the back of a truck and are pretty much looking to ram the thing into the side of the Baxter Building.  Their target isn't the Four, however.  They're going straight for Nick Fury and SHIELD who are providing security for the wedding.  And they're doing a bang-up job, too.

Daredevil knocks the Hydra Agents off the truck and then slips into the driver's seat before he remembers that he's blind.  It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Avengers Assemble!  Iron Man, Cap, and Quicksilver join the fight and take on Cobra, Executioner, and the Enchantress.  Mr. Hyde is also set to enter the fight but a shackle arrow fired by Hawkeye temporarily prevents this. 

Clint follows up the shackle arrow by trying to take the Enchantress out of the fight but the Asgardian witch casts a quick spell that sends a safe dropping right on the Avenger.  Fortunately, Spider-Man is around to web up the safe and save Hawkeye's life.

Spidey swings off and soon after Hyde frees himself from the shackle arrow.  That means the Avengers still have their hands full.

Daredevil is still trying to control that bomb truck and the villains aren't making it easy.  The Black Knight is firing blasts into the truck cab trying to ruin DD's concentration.  Angel shows up to distract the Black Knight.  It might have worked, too, except that the Mandarin gives the X-Man a blast from his nerve-ray ring and causes Warren to plummet from the sky. 

Since this happens in every other issue of the X-Men (sometimes twice an issue!) this is old hat.  The X-Men probably have a move name for this, too.  Beast jumps into the air to catch his dropping comrade while Iceman creates an ice slide to catch both his teammates.

Unfortunately, that act puts a hell of a lot of attention on Bobby Drake.  When he comes back down to earth, he's attacked by LOTS of bad guys: Electro, Mandarin, the Unicorn, the Melter, and the Beetle.  Lucky for Iceman, Cyclops shows up for the rescue, firing his concussive blast right at the firing enemies.  The blasts all hit each other, creating a backlash of power than knocks Scott off his feet.

By this point, the battle goes straight to full on chaos.
fantasticfourannual3.jpg

Iron Man takes on the Thinker and his Android but the Thinker must not have calculated his decimals to their proper place because Stark beats the Android pretty easily.

At about this time, Attuma and his undersea warriors break the surface of the water to deliver an attack on the surface, probably heading right to Reed and Sue's wedding.  They're not going to make it there.  At this time, Daredevil has driven his cargo to the waterfront and drops the bomb and truck right into the Hudson.  It his Attuma's army and ends that threat for now.

There are still a lot of villains to go and it looks pretty hopeless for our heroes.  Fortunately, Hulk and Namor aren't among the bad guys.  There are various reasons given for this but, since Doom's beam could reach the FUTURE... I'm just thinking whatever reason given will seem pretty weak.

Just then, the Watcher shows up to do no interfering at all.  He's not here to save anyone's butts.  No siree.  "Just here to watch," says the Watcher.

Nah, I'm just kidding.  Uatu really has no choice but to completely interfere.  He teleports himself and Reed Richards back to his own private laboratory.  Inside, there are LOTS of things that interest Reed but there's only one thing that can end the battle in front of the Baxter Building definitively.  Uatu, of course, can't interfere with humans so he can't just tell Reed which one to grab.  Instead, he just keeps glancing over at it and hopes Richards will take a hint.

OK, he's probably not really doing that but he's still interfering just by bringing Reed here to give him a weapon to end this thing.  Making sure to let Reed work a bit doesn't mean you aren't interfering, Uatu.

Reed finds something that just might do the trick and is transported back to that fight.  Activating the device, he explains to all of us that it's a Sub-Atronic Time Displacer.  What will it do?  It'll transport all these bad guys to their immediate past and leave them with no memory of what they've just done.  That done, Reed collapses from the exertion of activating Uatu's crazy machine and the device teleports back to Uatu's lab.

Reed knows that only Doom would have the knowledge to assemble these villains.  It's a good thing Uatu showed up to "not interfere."  Because of the nature of the Time Displacer, even Doom doesn't remember this plan.

The battle is now out of the way which gives us just enough time left over for Reed and Sue to tie the knot.  And there are panels to spare!  After that first married kiss is over, the wedding attendants head straight over to the reception.

Unfortunately, not everyone that shows up at the reception has an invitation.  Two people are giving Gabe an exceptionally hard time so Gabe ends up bringing Nick Fury into it.  The two crashers are pretty insistant that they should be allowed inside but their arguments fall on deaf ears when Fury arrives.  He just shows them the door and then kicks the two through it.

The two crashers are pretty upset for being kicked out.  After all, they're super important!  They pretty much brought Reed and Sue together in the first place!

That's right, it's Stan and Jack!  They were pretty much the only people NOT invited to this wedding.

And that's all we've got!

Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?

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About the Author - SuperginraiX


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

 


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