Thursday, September 13, 2007

Earth's Mightiest Column: 8 August 2007

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

By Kevin Mahadeo

Posted August 8, 2007 9:20 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 (Steve Rogers), 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 Williams) 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—reveal-ing 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, convinced Marvel Boy to rethink his life, and exiled the Hulk from the Earth.

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


• Captain America lives!… on in our hearts and memories as displayed by Hawkeye, who flashes back to an explanation on where he developed those spectacular fist-to-cuffs skills demonstrated in Japan.
• Cooped up in a hotel room, Luke Cage’s paranoia pushes him over the edge as he takes out his frustration on poor ol’ web-head. The Skrull accusations thicken the air and makes dinner severely awkward as Hawkeye asks the question people have been wondering since Civil War: “Where are the bad guys?”
• Apparently, they’re gathering together at some sort of secret warehouse meeting! Madame Masque, the Crimson Cowl, Jonas Harrow and the Wizard convene under the request of the Owl, who plans on auctioning off one heck of an item—Luther Manning, aka Deathlok!
• However, before bidding can begin John King, cousin to the Hood, arrives to inform the group that permission must be asked if an auction were to occur. Showing his stern disagreement, the Owl fails to wizen up before being gunned down by the Hood.
• Returning to the Sanctum Sanctorum, the New Avengers disassemble for the night in order to clear their heads—deciding to reconvene in 24 hours to formulate some sort of plan. However, even marriages aren’t safe as Luke’s perturbed demeanor causes Jessica Jones to storm out the door.
• Wolverine takes a walk down to his local shakedown house/bar where he is inadvertently directed to the back room. Upon investigating, Logan finds himself face to gun barrel with the Hood!


In a far-distant post-apocalyptic future, Colonel Luther Manning awoke to find himself transformed into the cybernetic Deathlok after sustaining life-threatening injuries. Between toppling corrupt corporations and military regimes, Manning took numerous trips through time and teamed with some of Earth’s Mightest, including the late Captain America. But wait! The last time we saw him, Deathlok was still in his future. What’s he doing here? Can a Skrull impersonate a mandroid? The plot thickens…


While donning his ever-colorful red cape, the Hood remains invisible so long as he holds his breath. So when it comes time to make himself known, he poignantly whispers his comment to Owl, appears mid-air thanks to his gravity boots, blasts the little birdy away and vanishes faster than a couple of speeding bullets. Now that is how you make a first impression!


Sweet Christmas! The threat of the Skrulls is a legitimate reason to question the loyalty of those around you, but is it really necessary to question your wife in such a dickish manner? “You’re not an alcoholic. You love me. You’re a better person. This upsets me.” Can you really blame Jessica for bringing out that embittered, snippy side of her, thought lost in the midst of married life?

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