EARTH’S MIGHTIEST COLUMN: NOV. 7, 2007
Wizard Universe’s regular rundown of Marvel’s mightiest teams
By Matt Powell
Posted November 7, 2007 2:55 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—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!
• Finally, 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 of the coast of Florida. While the Avengers halt the missile, the Starktech 940 drone secretly launches a shrunken Ares into the mouth of Ultron to implant the virus.
NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI #5
Brian Michael Bendis (W)/Jim Cheung (A)
• 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.
Holy crap! At first glance, you’d think that a word balloon attached to Black Bolt was an editorial error; but that’s how well writer Brian Michael Bendis caught us (and the Illuminati) off guard! What better way to get back at your enemies than to hide in plain sight—and then beat the crap outta them?! Upping the ante, the Skrulls have added copying their victims’ powers to their repertoire, and if the explosion from Black Skrolt is any indication, this invasion is no longer a secret.
WORST. YEAR. EVER.
To shine some logic on the timing of the Skrull invasion, Iron Man gives a 60-second review of the sucky year our heroes have faced, citing: the Avengers’ dissolution, the Civil War, Atlantis’ destruction, Nick Fury’s long absence, and the death of Captain America. Amidst all the drama, you can almost imagine that someone, somewhere, had to say “What else could go wrong?” and bam! Skrulls. Be on the lookout for things to get worse, and if you see Uatu showing up anytime soon, let us know, and we’re hitchin’ the first boat outta this solar system.
In hindsight, maybe barging into the Skrull homeworld “A-Team” style and shoutin’ ultimatums back in New Avengers: Illuminati #1 wasn’t such a good idea. But hey, now’s not the time to say, “I told you so.” With the evidence of Skrullektra’s corpse, Iron Man fills in his former colleagues about the mess they’ve created and the threat it poses to the entire planet. And to add insult to injury, it would appear that the Skrulls aren’t without a sense of irony, since the same person who originally blew up their warship back in issue #1 (Black Bolt) is the same guy they used to initiate their assault on the Illuminati. Coincidence? No.
A SKRULL FOR EVERY HERO
As shown with Black Skrolt, the Skrulls not only have the ability to mimic the powers of Marvel’s heroes, but also the ability to mimic the thought patterns of their victims’ identities. In this issue, we get a glance at two heavy hitters, Skrull-Thor and Skrull-Colossus, who already caught the Illuminati on the ropes after their first battle with Black Skrolt and could only be defeated at the hands of a mini-nuke-exploding Iron Man! If the Skrulls have their sights set on the major players of the Marvel U., don’t be surprised if your favorite hero becomes the next member of the Skrull Kill Krew! We’re looking at you, D-Man!
It's already taken so long for this mini-series to have just the FIVE issues released, I'm hoping this final issue will shake up the status quo and make it worth waiting all this while for.