Thursday, September 13, 2007

Earth's Mightiest Column: 1 August 2007

Wizard Universe’s regular rundown of Marvel’s mightiest teams

By Michael Fitzgerald

Posted August 1, 2007 10:35 AM

By Michael Fitzgerald
Posted August 1, 2007 10:35 AM

(Editor’s note: Beyond the umbrella of ‘The Initiative,’ Earth’s mightiest heroes soldier on to unravel the shadowy threats that menace the Marvel Universe! For regular recaps of post-‘Initiative’ New Avengers, Mighty Avengers and New Avengers: The Illuminati, swing by with each new issue for insight into the costumed conspiracies and superpowered slugfests that break out every time the Avengers assemble!)



• It was a period of Civil War. Though seemingly brought together by fate out of the ashes of the disassembled Avengers team to stop a supervillain breakout at the supermaximum security prison the Raft, the group of heroes known as the New Avengers—Captain America (Reed Richards), Iron Man (Tony Stark), Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Wolverine (Logan/James Howlett), Luke Cage, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), the Sentry (Robert Reynolds) and sometimes Ronin (Maya Lopez, aka Echo)—were torn between Iron Man’s drive to register all superhumans and Captain America’s determination to resist.
• When the dust settled, Captain America was dead and Iron Man triumphant, installed as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. As a result, two separate teams claim the Avengers mantle.
• Duly authorized under the Superhuman Registration Act, the Mighty Avengers consist of Iron Man, the Sentry, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), the Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), the Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), Wonder Man (Simon Reynolds) and god of war Ares.
• On the run from the government—including the Mighty Avengers—the New Avengers comprise Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme), Iron Fist (Danny Rand) and the new Ronin (Clint Barton, formerly known as Hawkeye). They’re supported by Strange’s servant Wong and Cage’s wife Jessica Jones (the one-time hero Jewel and mother of Cage’s child).
• As part of the ‘Initiative’ event, the Mighty Avengers are embroiled in a tense struggle against a new Ultron, who seized control of Tony Stark’s biomechanically enhanced body, transforming it into a female form not unlike the Wasp’s and deploying near-unstoppable new powers against the team—most recently killing the Sentry’s wife Lindy.
• Meanwhile, the New Avengers’ battle to rescue their teammate Echo from the clutches of the powerful ninja cult called the Hand ended abruptly when Echo stabbed the Hand’s leader Elektra to death—revealking that she’s not Greco-American Elektra Natchios at all, but a Skrull impostor. The fact that a member of this shape-shifting alien race—whose long and hostile history with the Earth’s heroes was recently illustrated in New Avengers: Illuminati—could assume control of the deadliest group of assassins known to man left the team wondering: Who else might be a Skrull? And who can they trust?
• Not Spider-Woman, apparently: Whether because she’s secretly a Skrull or just thinks taking Skrullektra’s body to Tony Stark for analysis is the right thing to do despite the objections of her teammates, Jessica Drew takes advantage of the crash of the New Avengers’ jet to zap Wolverine and make off with Skrullektra’s corpse.
• Finally, New Avengers: Illuminati has been depicting untold tales of a clandestine group of heroes known as the Illuminati: Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Professor X (Charles Xavier), Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), Black Bolt (Blackagar Boltagon, King of the Inhumans) and Namor the Sub-Mariner (ruler of Atlantis). Brought together in secret by Stark in the wake of the Kree/Skrull War to quietly protect humanity from major threats, the group played a major behind-the-scenes role in the Marvel Universe before splitting up prior to the Civil War. Among other tasks, they’ve chased off a Skrull fleet, gathered the Infinity Gems, attempted to banish the Beyonder from this universe and exiled the Hulk from the Earth.

Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed (W)/Jim Cheung (A)


• As this issue’s Illuminati meeting begins, Dr. Strange notes that his lover, Clea, has left him. Everyone around the table discusses similar “women problems.”
• Reed mentions that he’s had a disconnection with his wife Sue lately, and off-handedly mentions that she might be seeing Namor. Namor takes issue with this accusation and reminds Reed that he should always cherish his wife and family.
• The Illuminati try to convince Noh-Varr, a young Kree agent codenamed Marvel Boy and bent on conquering Earth but currently imprisoned in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ultra-high security prison the Cube, to become the new heir to the Captain Marvel legacy. They leave Marvel Boy alone to think their offer over.
• In an epilogue, Reed resolves to spend more time with his family and wife.


Normally when a hero doesn’t even remember their scores of team-ups with loveable D-list characters, we’d say Skrull, but this example of poor social skills tends to be par for the course for absent-minded professor Reed Richards.


Being an unmarried millionaire playboy with a suit of armor that makes you one of the world’s greatest superheroes has got to make it hard to get chicks. So when Tony Stark complains that he’d rather be married so he could get the proverbial milk on demand if not for free, mutant psychic Professor X has to inform him of the humor that the mute king (and married guy) of the Inhumans finds in that statement.


Something tells me that if belt buckles with slogans were fashionable under the sea, Namor’s would be all like, “DON’T MESS WITH ATLANTIS.” Seriously, nigh-invulnerable alien invader Marvel Boy probably had it coming and maybe didn’t even feel this, but is this really the best way to make friends, Namor? Someone should probably re-take kindergarten.

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