Previously: A chain reaction of universes smashing into one another threatens the Avenger’s own version of Earth, and the only way to stop it may be to reassemble the Infinity Gauntlet. Problem is, the keeper of The Mind Gem, Charles Xavier, is dead following the events of AvX, and the location of his gem is unknown. Either the New Avengers reassemble the Gauntlet, or they will have to destroy the Earth that threatens to collide with their own.
Synopsis: Doctor Henry McCoy aka Beast received a letter following Xavier’s death. In it, there is an embedded memory that leads him to the Mind Gem (that was easy). Possessing all the gems, the New Avengers reassemble the Infinity Gauntlet (a feat that does not go unnoticed by Galactus or Thanos) and Captain America attempts to push the other Universe away from our own. He is able to slow the convergence, but when he pushes too hard the Gauntlet and all its stones shatter, lost forever. Now the New Avengers only have one hope to save their Earth, and it means destroying the other entire, populated planet that threatens to smash both worlds.
Steve Rogers aka Captain America fights the decision to build a doomsday device that would destroy the other Earth should another incursion take place, but not one other member of the New Avengers agree. In fact, to prevent his stopping them, Tony Stark has Doctor Strange erase Captain America’s memory so he has no knowledge of the universe-collapsing-apocalypse or what the New Avengers must sacrifice to save their own world.
Judgement: I love it! By far my favorite Avengers title, I love the predicament facing the New Avengers and the polarizing stance Steve Rogers takes as the team’s moral compass. The moral dilemma facing the team is gigantic, the stakes couldn’t be higher, the actions they need to take couldn’t be more extreme, and the fact this team acts in complete secrecy makes it all the more interesting. Capt. is my favorite Marvel hero, so I will mourn his hiatus from NEW AVENGERS, but I look forward to what’s to come. I only hope that one panel means we will be seeing Thanos soon.
THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN # 3: EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG
Previously: Doc Ock is living it up in Peter Parker’s body as the Superior Spider-Man, and only Peter’s ex-girlfriend/crime scene investigator Carlie Cooper suspects a thing. Peter lives on, trapped in his own brain as Otto Octavius pulls the strings, including making good with the Mayor of New York and Spider-Man’s least biggest fan, J. Jonah Jameson. Otto has also had the guts to do what Peter could never do; permanently break up with Mary Jane Watson because his being the Superior Spider-Man puts her constantly at risk.
Synopsis: Convinced he has Web Head at his beck and call, J. Jonah Jameson installs a “Spider-Signal” atop the NYPD police station. Spider-Man arrives, seemingly destroying the beacon, while still managing to play Jameson like a fiddle. Spider-Man is sent to stop the Vulture (whose mini-minions attacked Mary Jane in Issue #2), and Carlie Cooper is assigned to assist him. As her suspicions build, Doc Ock Spidey adjusts his lenses in his mask “to detect the magnetic signature that the Vulture’s wings” emit.
The Superior Spider-Man heads for Vulture’s lair, Doc Ock reminiscing about their early days collaborating in the Sinister Six together. Peter Parker is literally thrown into Doc’s memory, learning he can root around in his nemesis’s mind as the mad scientist controls his body. Doc Ock Spidey tries to offer Vulture a deal, a grand sum of money which is all Vulture claimed to want in their early days; one last score to retire on. Vulture sees it as a trick and sicks his minions on Spider-Man, minions that turn out to be children! As Peter sees Otto’s memories of being beaten by his father, Superior Spider-Man goes ballistic and begins to destroy the Vulture, telling him:
“This is NOT some old conflict you’ve fought a million times… This is something NEW! EVERYTHING you know about me is WRONG! He — I always went easy on you. Fighting an OLD, pathetic senior citizen — with arms that have traded blows with THE HULK!”
Vulture realizes Spidey is for real; Doc Ock does intend to kill him. Evading Spider-Man by flying higher as the “hero” runs out of web fluid, Vulture turns the tables and threatens to break Spidey’s neck or drop him to his death.
But Superior Spider-Man reveals his true plan, blacking out his eyes (the real modifications he made in the lab) while simultaneously blasting the Vulture and himself with the Spider-Signal. Vulture is blinded and Otto uses the chance to drive him into a downward dive, right into the massive spot-light. Burned and cut to pieces, the Vulture is in critical condition, something Carlie Cooper exclaims “the Spider-Man I know would NEVER do something like this. NEVER.”
Peter thinks he’s won a small victory with Cooper’s growing suspicions but Doc Ock convinces her it was necessary, especially as previously the Vulture put her life in danger and this time he was using children. Peter begins to fear he’s lost the only ally he has as Carlie appears to be sold on Otto’s lies.
Judgement: At first, when I saw the Spider-Signal, an obvious ripoff of the Bat Signal, I was enraged. The joke about Spider-Man finding it to be a terrible idea because his villains would know his location was funny, but didn’t warrant this blatant thievery from DC (okay, so both DC and MARVEL copy each other all the time, but this time it seemed personal). The payoff more than made up for my initial negative reaction; I love that Doc Ock Spidey used it as part of his plan to critically wound an old ally/new foe.
I continue to enjoy the developments involving Peter in Otto’s head, now moving from silent observer to memory watcher. It’s fun to see the early days of Spider-Man and the Sinister Six through the villains point-of-view. And Doc Ock has become more relateable with his own troubled childhood and reaction to Vulture using children as minions. I love that Otto wanted to kill Vulture, and may yet kill or mortally wound a nemesis of Spider-Man’s in a future issue.
It doesn’t hurt that SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN is perhaps my favorite comic to take in, beautifully drawn and colored in a style I love.
Rating – MUST READ!
THUNDERBOLTS #4: MASSIVE RESPONSE
Previously: Red Hulk aka Thunderbolt Ross, planned on using a confused Leader as a secret weapon to stop a mad dictator with gamma weapons holding his country Kata Jaya hostage, seeing as how the dictator is actually a puppet to Madman, Leader’s brother. Instead, Punisher executes Leader on sight, just what Deadpool told Red Hulk would happen. Elektra, meanwhile, is a captive of General Awa’s regime.
Synopsis: Ross, furious about the execution of Leader, his secret weapon, leaps off the island of Kata Jaya with Leader’s body, leaving his team on their own. Deadpool and Punisher distract the gamma infused Madman while Agent Venom rescues Elektra. Meanwhile, we learn that the cruel dictator General Awa was made the leader of kata Jaya decades ago by the US government, with the help of a pilot named Thunderbolt Ross. Having lost his allies and control of his nation to Madman, Awa kills himself, allowing Venom to rescue Elektra. Punisher is able to take down Madman with the ole’ mine-strapped-to-the-chest gag, but the issue ends with the foreboding image of Red Hulk pumping Leader full of copious amounts of gamma radiation.
Judgement: I’ve really been enjoying THUNDERBOLTS, but this issue kind of lost me. Just like this week’s AVENGERS, there was too much jumping around in time, too many flashbacks with very little payoff. Everything else was just too simple from the plot to save Elektra to the downfall of General Awa and Madman. Also, while SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN may be my favorite comic artistically, THUNDERBOLTS may be my least favorite. The covers are glorious with their red motif, while the inside is as generic as they come.
I do always enjoy Deadpool, and Punisher’s takedown of Madman, though simple, was pretty badass. And Red Hulk’s attempt to save Leader may prove to produce more interesting stories down the line with much higher stakes.
Rating – DON’T READ.
As usual, this post was much too wordy, and if I continue this column in the coming weeks, I will refine my style and structure to shorten the piece into something easier to consume. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my timely analysis of this week’s Marvel NOW! titles.
More than Nuff’ Said!