Thursday, September 13, 2007

Earth's Mightiest Column: 11 July 2007

Just found out that "Earth's Mightiest Column" has been a Wizard Universe feature for a couple of months now. Posting here for my (and others') reading pleasure!

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

By Sean T. Collins

Posted July 12, 2007 4:25 PM

(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! Wizard Universe will provide regular recaps of post-‘Initiative’ New Avengers and Mighty Avengers—visit the site 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 seemingly seized control of Tony Stark’s body, transforming it into a female form not unlike the Wasp’s and deploying near-unstoppable new powers against the team.

• Meanwhile, embarking on a dangerous mission to rescue their slain ally Echo from the clutches of the ninja cult and organized crime faction the Hand—who slew her for her efforts to dismantle the Japanese underworld and planned to resurrect her as their servant and assassin—the New Avengers engaged the ninjas and their leader Elektra in combat.

• The battle ended abruptly when the resurrected-then-rescued Echo stabbed Elektra to death—revealing 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?


Brian Michael Bendis (W)/Leinil Francis Yu (A)


• Returning to America aboard one of Iron Fist’s Rand Corporation jets with “Skrullektra’s” body in tow, the New Avengers are beset by pressing and painful questions.

• First, who can they trust? Wolverine runs down the unusual or out-of-character actions each teammate has undertaken in their recent pasts, arguing that any one of them could be a Skrull—even him.

• Second, how far does this go? Cage, who’s long suspected that the horrific events hitting the Earth’s heroes—from Nick Fury’s Secret War to Scarlet Witch’s disassembling of the Avengers to the breakout at the Raft to Quicksilver’s creation of the House of M world to the Civil War between Iron Man and Captain America—are all connected, argues that this is the first step in a Skrull invasion plan. Doubt is cast on everyone and everything from S.H.I.E.L.D to Hydra to the Avengers to the X-Men to Iron Man to the president.

• Third, what to do with Skrullektra’s corpse? Peter Parker wants to take it to the press, but the idea is shot down by the other team members, as is Jessica Drew’s suggestion that they go to “the biggest cop in the world,” Tony Stark.

• Suddenly, the plane powers down and begins heading toward a catastrophic crash. The combined efforts of the heroes barely enable them to survive the nosedive.

• Seeing her opportunity, Spider-Woman—who was thrown clear of the plummeting plane by Wolverine and flew to safety—rummages through the crash site for Skrullektra’s body, zapping Wolverine into unconsciousness when he tries to stop her. The green-eyed (!) heroine strides away with the corpse…


Looks like Wolverine’s adamantium claws can cut to the chase, too. In short order, Logan runs down the reasons why every single New Avenger might be a secret Skrull: Spidey unmasks himself. Echo goes from assassin to crimefighter. Hawkeye comes back from the dead, again. Spider-Woman is, like, a quadruple-agent. Luke Cage and Iron Fist drift apart as Cage assumes control of the Avengers. Strange sits out of the Civil War. And Wolverine himself has his claws in every team in the Marvel U. and now knows his whole history. Paranoid much?


He’s the Master of Mystic Arts who’s battled the evilest entities in creation and thwarted Scarlet Witch’s whacked-out rampage with a few Steve Ditko hand gestures. But when it comes time to stop a plane from crashing, you’re better off calling Randy Quaid’s drunken trailer-trash character from “Independence Day.”


The New Avengers feel the sting of the Spider-Woman when their teammate goes rogue, flashing emerald irises as she swipes Skrullektra’s corpse from the crash site. But is she just a normal human with green eyes who’s taking the body to Tony Stark as she argued for earlier because she thinks that’s the best course of action—or a Skrull herself, trying to conceal the evidence of invasion? U-DECIDE!

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