Thursday, November 15, 2007

Earth's Mightiest Column: Nov. 14, 2007

Time for another Earth's Mightiest Column!

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

By Matt Powell

Posted November 14, 2007 4:00 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! )



• 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—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 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!
New Avengers: Illuminati has been depicting untold tales of a clandestine group of heroes known as the Illuminati: Iron Man, Doctor 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.
• Capitalizing on the disarray facing Marvel’s heroes following the Civil War and the Initiative, the new Kingpin-in-training—the Hood—gets organized and rounds up virtually every villain who broke out of the Raft back in New Avengers #1. Promising his newfound allies more money than they can imagine, the Hood pledges to hit heroes where it hurts—particularly their families—if any cape comes near his new operation. To prove his dedication to his new world order, the Hood physically and psychologically takes out Tigra and sets his sights to earn big while the heroes are occupied with a symbiote infestation.
• While the Mighty Avengers continue their metallic melee with the horde of Iron Man armors unleashed upon them by Ultron, Ares leaves the battle to travel to the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier and reveals his plan to take down Ultron. After a brief meeting of the minds, Ares and Hank agree to implant a virus directly into Ultron’s system. However, to keep the Avengers busy, Ultron hacks into government systems, causing the launch of a nuclear missile off the Florida coast. While the Avengers halt the missile, the Starktech 940 drone secretly launches a shrunken Ares into the mouth of Ultron to implant the virus.
• Disturbed by recent events (and a body bag dropped on his doorstep), Iron Man calls an Illuminati meeting to address the corpse of Skrullektra and threat of a Skrull invasion, which is the result of their past attack. As the group tries to rationalize how to approach this threat, Black Bolt is revealed to be a Skrull spy who immediately attacks the stunned heroes. In the fight against…umm, Black Skrolt, the Illuminati seemingly kill him, only to be surprise-attacked by Skrulls mimicking the powers of Thor and Colossus. To end the battle quickly, Iron Man creates a huge explosion that appears to have destroyed the Skrull attackers. Fueled by distrust and betrayal in light of the current situation, the team disbands again, leaving Iron Man to lament the Skrull invasion.

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


• Luke Cage gives the play-by-play to his lady, Jessica Drew, on how his teammates were infected with Venom symbiotes (along with millions of others in NYC) and attacked him.
• Brutally assaulted by his infected allies, Cage awoke uninfected (thanks to his unbreakable skin) and to the face of Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man of the Mighty Avengers.
• Teaming up with the pro-registration Avengers, Cage took it to the streets to halt the threat while Iron Man sped away to find a cure for the plague.
• At the climax of the battle, Tony Stark comes through and spontaneously transforms all the affected heroes and bystanders back to human form.
• After everyone is returned to normal, both Avengers teams remain behind for damage control and to assist the disoriented citizens.
• Tensions rise as Cage continues his talk with Jessica, as they are both worried about who could be a Skrull in disguise and the secret invasion going on.
• At Avengers Tower, the Mighty Avengers team learns that Dr. Doom was behind the symbiote bomb that infected NYC, and make preparations to depart to Latveria to confront Doom.
• Meanwhile, to get some long-overdue answers, Wolverine confronts Jessica Drew as she showers to interrogate her on her actions leading up to her quitting the team.
• Following all the leads they can, Cage, his Avengers, and a host of Marvel heroes find themselves at the Hood’s doorstep ready to throw down with Hood’s new organization.


As if Skrulls weren’t enough to worry about already! The Avengers (and practically all of NYC) play host to a horde of symbiotes in full-on tongue-waving, drool-drippin’ fashion! You can save your mind power on wondering, “What if the New Avengers were taken over by symbiotes?” as Leinil Yu awesomely illustrates the plague. As amazed as we were by the sight of Venoms and Carnages everywhere, we can’t help but wonder how cool this would look in a video game. Marvel Universe: Ultimate Carnage has a nice ring to it, right Marvel (nudge nudge)? We’re just saying…


The Fantastic Four’s professor of chaos is in full D-bag form with this move. The Doc took a backseat in Civil War, but obviously he was biding his time to capitalize in the launch of his “symbiote bomb” dropping smack-dab in the heart of NYC. However, justice is swift, as Iron Man quickly gathers all the evidence he needs to launch a full-scale assault on Latveria, Avengers-style, to introduce some gunmetal to Doom’s iron face.


As much as Wolverine likes to get down-and-dirty, in this issue ol’ Logan’s ready to get squeaky clean with Jessica Drew in the shower. Hold your thoughts folks, because Logan’s all business and keeps his claws out to get the truth from Jessie on what her deal is. When a scantily clad Black Widow enters the room, Wolvie does what any guy caught in a compromising position with two women would do: hastily leave the room! But when you’re about 80 stories up, jumpin’ out the window’s all ya got. “The best there is,” indeed!


…and doesn’t it feel so good to not see our heroes trading punches with each other? When Luke Cage said he needed backup, we didn’t think the God of Thunder, let alone the Silver Surfer, would be on his Rolodex. But hey, you can’t blame a guy for aiming high. It’s like Malone said in “The Untouchables”: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun…” Hope you’re wearing a diaper, Hood.

Venom symbiotes infecting the superhuman population in New York City! 'Tis a dream come true for fans of Marvel Comics in the early 90s when Venom was an uber hot property.

And yet another shot of the uber sexy Spider-woman nude in the pages of New Avengers. With strategically placed "endowments" covering up her naughty bits. But hey, nudity is nudity, even covered up. Man does Bendis like those shots of Spider-woman...he keeps writing them in!

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