Now's a good a time to catch up as any I suppose, since Wizard Universe dedicated an entire article to it. Gets me up to speed!
EARTH'S MIGHTIEST COLUMN: SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
Wizard Universe’s regular rundown of Marvel’s mightiest teams
By Kevin Mahadeo
Posted September 12, 2007 10:45 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!)
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
PREVIOUSLY IN THE ‘AVENGERS’ TITLES:
• 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—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.
• Tempers rise and paranoia spreads like a disease, causing the New Avengers to almost disassemble! As the team takes a much-needed break from one another, Wolverine comes face-to-gun barrel with the criminal underground’s newest head honcho—the Hood!
• 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.
NEW AVENGERS #34
Brian Michael Bendis (W)/Leinil Yu (A)
• Continuing one second after last issue’s cliffhanger, Wolverine gets holey as the Hood blasts him (and little Wolvie) away! In the ensuing battle the Hood freaks and lets out his inner demon, who promptly tosses aside our clawed hero and makes his escape.
• Grabbing a bottle o’ booze, the battered Logan takes some time to regroup and…regrow.
• Back at the Sanctum Sanctorum, Night Nurse “tends” to Doctor Strange’s emotional wounds, Echo gets an eyeful of Hawkeye, and Jessica Jones and Luke Cage finally reveal the name of baby Danielle—much to the delight and honor of long-time friend Iron Fist.
• Desiring to put an end to the issues of mistrust amongst the team, Doc Strange conjures a spell designed to publicly reveal one’s inner self, which in the process exposes Jessica Jones’ deniable desire to once again be a caped-crusader, Spidey’s longing for his wonder years and Hawkeye’s aspiration to be…Captain America?!
• Wolverine’s entrance to the psychoanalytic party heralds the reassembly of the New Avengers and a much-needed break from the rampant paranoia infesting the minds of our heroes.
• However, evil never takes breaks! It’s a fact that becomes apparent as Logan fills the team in on the return of formerly small-time supervillain the Hood and his plan to launch a reprogrammed Deathlok into Avengers Tower! This leaves the New Avengers with an interesting dilemma: how do they warn Tony Stark’s band of government heroes without being arrested?
• Deciding to “do good guy s---,” the team confronts the problem head on and teleports into Manhattan. But instead of finding Deathlok, the team is horrified to discover the city being overrun by Venom symbiotes!
• To make matters worse, as the team rushes into battle, a piece of venomous black goo latches onto the arm of Echo!
HARDCORE, ANYTHING GOES MATCH-UP
Known for his rough-and-tough, berserker-rage fighting style, Wolverine tends to jump claw-first into any battle no matter the odds. There’s almost no question about the size of Logan’s fortitude, but when you leap onto someone with your legs spread and they’re holding a gun, that fortitude becomes a very large and easy target, as the Hood clearly demonstrates. Talk about your all-time low blows! There ought to be rules when two guys duke it out about those kinds of shots, but when immeasurable healing factors come into play, I guess anything truly does go since, as Wolverine says, “it’ll grow back.” Regardless, that scene definitely adds an element of cringe-worthy brutality to this jaw-dropping encounter.
RELEASING THE DEMON INSIDE
Small-time crock Parker Robbins really lucked out when he encountered the mystic ritual leading to the acquisition of his handy-dandy red Hood and levitation boots. However, power comes with a price, which becomes evident when Robbins demons out during his fight with Wolverine. Previously, the Hood’s eyes would turn red if he lost control of himself while donning the cape and boots, but this is the first time we see a full-out demon form—a form that resembles the Nistanti creature originally possessing the Hood’s items of criminal endeavor.
FREUD’S FIELD DAY
Doctor Strange’s earlier spell of unveiling inner motivations get kicked up a notch this issue by exposing how the New Avengers see themselves—leading to a number of hilarious and discomforting moments. Luke Cage reminiscing about his olden days in a tiara and bright silk shirt brings a smile to long-time fans, while Petey’s nerdy, younger self spins a tighter web of tragedy around the life of the consistently troubled hero. However, Hawkeye easily claims the “How Do You Respond To This” prize of the year as his longing to live up to the standards of Captain America reminds readers of the profound affect the Star-Spangled Avenger’s life and death had on the denizens of the Marvel U.
‘SYMBIOTES. LOTS AND LOTS OF SYMBIOTES.’
Venom meets ‘28 Days Later.’ ’Nuff said.
Wahoo! Venom! Lots of Venom!