EARTH’S MIGHTIEST COLUMN: OCT. 10, 2007
Wizard Universe’s regular rundown of Marvel’s mightiest teams
By Matt Powell
Posted October 10, 2007 2:10 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! 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 (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 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 #35
Brian Michael Bendis (W)/Leinil Yu (A)
• Beginning with a flashback, Jigsaw—looking to make a quick buck—breaks into a pharmaceutical warehouse to shakedown the night watchman for a key to the safe.
• However, the heist goes awry when Tigra intercepts the robbery, but is hounded by the local police and shot after as if she were a criminal herself.
• Escaping during the blaze of gunfire, Jigsaw goes home emotionally defeated, but finds a mysterious note persuading him to attend a secret meeting.
• The meeting is called by the Hood, who has assembled many of the villains who have escaped from the Raft to unite them as an organized underground to make money and watch each other’s backs for protection. As a promise the Hood reveals he plans to hit heroes where they’re most vulnerable—their families—if anyone gets in their way.
• To prove his point and persuade any potential dissenters, the Hood brutally attacks Tigra in her home and calls her mother as proof he’ll kill her and Tigra if the heroine attacks his men—all while Jigsaw records the torture as evidence.
• Present day reveals the Hood’s utilization of Deathlok to rob a bank, stealing over $12.7 million in the process.
• Catching up on current events, the Hood and company learn the Avengers are caught in battle with an infestation of symbiotes in NYC. Ever the opportunist, the Hood looks at this event as a grand opportunity.
Holy crap! Tigra just got pistol-whipped! The Hood’s got no time to waste in his new regime, and to prove he can hit heroes where it hurts, the new “Kingpin” went straight to Tigra’s doorstep and laid down a brutal beating with more teeth and blood flying than fur. We don’t know what hurts worse: Tigra’s body from the beating and gunshot wound, her mind from the menacing realization that her mom’s life is on the line, or her spirit from being videotaped and left for dead like an alley cat. Either way, this kitty’s been spayed.
THE HOOD'S HOODS
Parker Robbins has assembled a gaggle of costumed cohorts to usher in his new world order. Most of the villains are fugitives from the Raft prison, and to key you in on who’s who, here’s a list of some of the Hood’s new hoods:
Centurius The Answer
Chemistro The Armadillo
Crossfire The Blood Brothers
Cutthroat The Brothers Grimm
Deathwatch The Constrictor
Dr. Demonicus The Controller
Foolkiller The Corrupter
Graviton The Crusader
Grey Gargoyle The Griffin
Hydro Man The Living Laser
Jigsaw The U-Foes
Mandrill The Wrecking Crew
Mentallo Tiger Shark
Mister Fear Typhoid Mary
Mister Hyde Vermin
Purple Man Rampage
HOW MUCH DOES CRIME PAY…?
Apparently, $12.7 million and change. We might as well start calling the Hood “Robin,” because he sure knows how to take from the rich and give to the…well, undeserving.
DEATHLOK: GUN FOR HIRE
When you’re lookin’ to rob the oldest and largest partnership bank in the United States, you need some heavy artillery. To get the big gun, the Hood’s gang of diabolical geniuses reprogrammed a reluctant Deathlok to provide the firepower for their heist. Sadly, the man-machine was destroyed during the robbery, but not before bringing the thieves’ bank accounts into the six-figure range.