Thursday, December 20, 2007

Earth's Mightiest Column: Dec. 19, 2007

Time for another Earth's Mightiest Column, less than a week before Christmas!

The Sentry’s wrath throws the Mighty Avengers off their game plan

By John Coleman

Posted December 19, 2007 12:20 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 and Mighty Avengers, 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 maximum security prison known as the Raft, the group of heroes known as the New Avengers was torn apart by the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act. The superhero population was divided down the middle when Captain America denounced the act and mounted a resistance, while Iron Man pledged full support for the law.

• When the dust settled, Captain America was dead and Iron Man had been 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 are Iron Man’s handpicked team of heroes. Led by Ms. Marvel and consisting of the Wasp, Wonder Man, Black Widow, the Sentry, Ares, and Iron Man himself, the hastily constructed team has been put to the test by the appearance of a new Ultron.

• On the run from the government (including the Mighty Avengers), the New Avengers are made up of anti-registration heroes that are devoted to Captain America’s ideals. Led by Luke Cage, the team consists of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and the new Ronin (who is actually Clint Barton, the Avenger formerly known as Hawkeye).

• Ultron, created by founding Avenger Hank Pym, seizes control of Tony Stark’s biomechanically enhanced body. Taking a form similar to that of the Wasp (Pym’s ex-wife), the robot uses its new abilities to unleash an electromagnetic pulse that disables all electrical systems in the area.

• Hoping to rescue their teammate Echo from the ninja clan known as the Hand, the New Avengers headed to Japan. There, they battled the Hand, and at the climax of their conflict, learn that the Hand’s leader, the assassin called Elektra, is actually a member of the shape-shifting alien race of Skrulls.

• Torn over the implications of this revelation, the New Avengers are unsure what to do with the Skrull’s body. On their flight back from Japan, Spider-Woman suggests that they bring the body to Tony Stark…that as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., he is the most qualified person to deal with it. The others are opposed to this idea, some even claiming that Stark may be a Skrull himself. As they debate over what to do with the Skrull corpse, their jet is knocked from the sky by an electromagnetic pulse…the same pulse unleashed by Ultron against the Mighty Avengers.

• Crash landing outside of Chicago, most of the team members are unconscious. Only Spider-Woman and Wolverine are awake, and Wolverine realizes that she is going to try and make off with the Skrull. He tries to stop her, but she blasts him into unconsciousness. She then retrieves the Skrull corpse and leaves the scene.

• Meanwhile, Ultron attacks the Mighty Avengers with a horde of Iron Man armors, keeping them busy while “she” infiltrates their headquarters, Avengers Tower. There, she kills the Sentry’s wife, Lindy Reynolds, hoping to keep the troubled hero from being involved in the fight. Of course, this has quite the opposite effect on the Sentry’s fragile mind. He flies into a rage and assaults Ultron with a brutal attack, unleashing much of his uncharted power in the process.

• Hank Pym is called in to help deal with the problem that he created many years ago. Leaving behind his new girlfriend and Avenger reservist, Tigra, Hank arrives to try and come up with a way to stop the seemingly unstoppable Ultron.

• Ares leaves the fight against the Iron Man armors because he feels he has come up with a plan to defeat the robot. He arrives back at the fallen S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and tells Pym and the Black Widow that he knows how to stop Ultron. Ares and Pym come up with the idea to implant a virus directly into Ultron’s system. However, to keep the Avengers busy, Ultron uses its connection to the government systems to launch a nuclear missile off the coast of Florida.

• Ms. Marvel manages to damage the missile, pushing it off course and up into the atmosphere. It detonates and Ms. Marvel’s fate is unknown.

• Pym dons his Ant-Man gear, the identity he had when he helped found the Avengers, and goes out to confront Ultron. While the robot is distracted by the appearance of its “father,” Ares, shrunken to miniature size by Pym’s powers, is fired into its mouth, carrying the virus that they hope will stop Ultron and restore Tony Stark.

• Aboard a flying sled, Ares sails into Ultron’s cybernetic innards, hoping to reach the robot’s core…

Brian Michael Bendis (W)/ Frank Cho (A)

• We start off with a bit of a flashback as Pym and Ares are discussing their plan to get the virus inside Ultron. Black Widow oversees the plan, but she seems to have very little faith in Pym.

• As we watch the shrunken God of War fly into Ultron’s mouth, we hear Pym explaining that inside, Ares will find that Ultron has created defenses for just such an attack. Swarms of spiked “antibodies” rush toward Ares, but he flies on, undaunted.

• Realizing that the Avengers have just launched some kind of attack on it, Ultron reels. Black Widow calls for the Avengers to fall back, knowing that if they harm the robot now, they risk the chance of ruining Ares’ mission. Unfortunately, it’s at this point that the Sentry decides to get back into the fight. He flies into the melee and assaults Ultron in a blind rage, knocking the robot first into, and then through, the Chrysler Building!

• Black Widow realizes that the Sentry’s attack may interrupt Ares and she orders the other Avengers to stop him. Wonder Man tries to reason with Sentry only to be attacked himself. Sentry continues to try and dismantle Ultron, trying to rip its head from its shoulders…


• Ares is about to be overwhelmed by Ultron’s internal defenses as the Sentry continues his assault on his wife’s killer. Luckily, Ms. Marvel returns just in time to deliver a nuclear-charged punch that manages to stun the enraged hero.


• With the Sentry’s unwitting interference stopped, Ares manages to get the virus into Ultron’s core. However, just as he does so, he is swarmed by Ultron’s “antibodies.” Without his flying sled, his escape seems unlikely. He tries to fight his way free, but they are too numerous and he loses his ax in the struggle. It seems that Ares’ first mission as an Avenger will also be his last.

• Ultron’s body begins to change from the effects of the virus, warping and twisting in a mix of metal and flesh. It seems that the virus is working.

• Realizing that Ares won’t make it out, Pym and the Black Widow are at a loss for what to do. Fortunately, Pym isn’t the only founding Avenger around today…the Wasp flies into Ultron’s mouth, racing to rescue her new teammate. Ares is still fighting, despite being totally overwhelmed by Ultron’s defenses.


• As the other Avengers watch on in horror, the Wasp manages to reach Ares and pull him free. At this point, Ultron loses its form and explodes in a golden burst of energy. Pym and the Widow watch silently, hoping for signs that the two shrunken heroes have escaped. Finally, a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative reports that he detects a life sign. Wasp and Ares have managed to make it to safety.

• Pym is relieved to see his estranged ex-wife alive and safe. The S.H.I.E.L.D. operative reports another life sign at ground zero of the blast, falling fast. Ms. Marvel flies up to catch what is presumably the body of Tony Stark.

• Tony wakes up in a hospital bed, surrounded by his teammates and the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards. They fill him in on what happened and let him know that he is okay. When the Wasp explains that Ultron turned him into a girl, Tony has this classic response…


• Tony thanks Pym for saving the day, but Pym only apologizes in return instead of saying “You’re welcome.” He is still plagued by the fact that he unwittingly unleashed Ultron on the world. He walks off as Ms. Marvel and Tony speak in private about the new team. Tony dozes off as Ms. Marvel thinks to herself that he has to stop acting like he is the king of the world.

• The Sentry returns to Avengers Tower, mournful over the loss of his wife…only to find her waiting for him! Inexplicably, she is alive and well. Although overjoyed to see her, he seems disturbed by the fact that the only explanation he can think of is that his touch somehow brought her back to life.

• Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man, having begun to see each other romantically, rendezvous after the battle. There, Wonder Man claims that she can’t let their relationship affect her role as team leader. He explains that he is as powerful as any other member of the team and that she can’t hesitate sending him in to do the dangerous jobs. If she continues to do so, he says, then they’re through.

• Wasp meets up with Hank Pym to tell him he did a good job, but the conversation quickly degenerates into an argument, despite the fact that they both feel strongly for each other.

• Finally, back at the hospital, we see Tony Stark in his bed asleep, as a shady figure creeps in through the window. The visitor wakes him, claiming that they need to talk. It turns out to be Spider-Woman, having defected from the New Avengers and holding the body of the Skrull that had been disguised as Elektra.

No comments: