Week 3: The Asleepening.
We're back with some more summary/commentary on recent comics! This week we take on a few from DC, one little blurb from Marvel, and the winner of last week's poll! That's right, you didn't think this poll on best Avengers book was for nothing, did you? You overwhelming picked Secret Avengers as the best book from the Avengers line one arc in. In honor of that, we kick off this week's column with a recap of the whole first arc of Secret Avengers.SPOILERS AHOY!
Secret Avengers #1-4: The scene starts with a mixture of the mundane and the absurd, which sets the tone for the entire book. Valkyrie and Black Widow pose as floozies to get into the room of a Roxxon Senior VP, and Valkyrie takes her sword out of the heavenly realm, where it was residing with her flying horse. See what I mean? Captain Amer-er Steve Rogers, Super Soldier comes to their aid, and the 3 of them abscond with a mysterious box, which Beast tells us is not holding what it should be. Steve and Sharon Carter overtly talk about this new covert team, then get it on when one of them should be flying the plane!
Meanwhile at Roxxon, Ant-Man and Moon Knight are breaking in. Ant-Man flies through grates and keyholes while they have a leisurely chat about what it is to be an Avenger. The gradual introduction of the team continues with War Machine, James Rhodes, as they discover the artifact may be martian in origin. Going into space means adding a cosmic character to the mix, and Nova comes into play, exploring Mars. He finds another crown like that in the case, but which looks more like the Serpent Crown they were expecting. Back on Earth, Nick Fury reveals himself as a member of the dragon-y Shadow Council, knocking out Sharon and standing over her menacingly.
Sharon wakes up angry, and goes after the Blur (Smallville crossover?), tracking the tentacle crown. As they explore on Mars, Steve and Moon Knight find some skeletons and Martian art, which Steve immediately recognizes and understands, as most men-out-of-time-who-were-recently-kinda-dead would. The Avengers tussle with some more Shadow Council, with the final two killing each other for their failure.
Everyone splits into pairs to investigate Mars when Steve and Beast find Nova's helmet, and a large armored man with claws straight out of 1994. Nova, complete with Serpent Crown, moves to attack Black Widow, Valkyrie, and Moon Knight.
And we're in August 1865. And we're told a story of three cowboys seeing a fourth disappear.
Ant-Man is twisting through some kind of vortex, and 90s-Man is beating up Steve Rogers. Valkyrie reports in that Widow and Knight are down, and she gets smacked like a bug by Serpent-Nova, who then gifts Mars with oxygen; no word on whether he also included Nitrogen, Argon, Carbon Dioxide, Neon, helium, Methane, Krypton, Hydrogen, Nitrous Oxide, Carbon Monoxide, Xenon, Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Iodine, or if it's just pure oxygen and the whole planet is going to go up the moment some metal strikes a stone. War Machine flies to meet them with his rocket-boots, so presumably Serpent-Nova knew what he was doing after all. Ant-Man winds up in Texas at the headquarters of the Shadow Council, where the apparently 160 year old cowboy and Nick Fury, himself quite spry for his age, have a chat about things being out of control back on Mars.
Turns out, according to 90s-Man, Mars is the doorway to the jail that holds The Abyss. Not the 90s X-Men villain who may or may not be related to Nightcrawler, but the being that existed even before the Celestials and Galactus. 90s-Man, whose name is actually Archon, was built by the Watchers to fight the Darkest Child, but gets his semi-robotic ass handed to him by Serpent-Nova with one punch.
So, Steve Rogers does what any man-out-of-time-who-was-recently-kind-of-dead would do and puts on Richard Rider's helmet, using Worldmind to transfer the Nova force into him. Steve Rogers-Nova vs Serepent-Nova begins, and we cut back to Earth, where Ant-Man is readying to take on suicide bombers from the Shadow Council.
Back on Mars, the team fights Cthulu (hey, it's an ages-old tentacle monster with some form of telepathy, what do you want me to call it?) while Steve and Rich duke it out. Ant-Man comes through, setting off the suicide bombers mid-stream in the vortex (Nothing like killing 4 guys on your first ever Avengers mission!), which in turn blows up both facilities on Mars and in Texas. Steve rips the crown off Rich's head, and everything is hunky-dory again, as 90s-Man takes the crown to hide it. Well, hunky-dory for everyone but the other hapless Shadow agents, who died instantly when the power of the crown was cut. Nova takes off back into space, prompting Steve and Sharon to say they need a different cosmic hero. May I suggest Rocket Raccoon? Sharon has other news in store, revealing that Nick Fury is in with the Dragon-Emblem Uniform people (snappy name, Sharon)! Of course, we've known that for awhile, so that last panel has a bit less impact, but Steve Rogers sure looks surprised!
In an epilogue issue, #5, we learn that it's not Nick Fury, but MAX FURY, the most angry soldier ever, who is with the Shadow Council. Max Fury was an experimental synthizoid kidnapped by Zodiac and driven insane with the knowledge that he isn't Nick Fury. Then someone gave him the name Max Fury just so the whole Shadow Council could chuckle every single time they talk about him.
Justice Society of America #45: The JSA tries to pick up after the mess of last issue. Energy-being Alan Scott continues to have physical symptoms; I’m not sure that I understand how that happened or when that was retconned, but I’m just going to go with it at this point. Actually, at a certain point, I think that many writers that come onto books hope that all readers “ just go with it”. Then again, I’ve been asked to just go with it so many times in the past few weeks (from Ice’s top-down retcon to Arthur Jr. maybe being stabbed to Arthur Jr. maybe being stabbed in the ‘90s instead of the ‘70s which means that Arthur Jr. would have been alive through like three other Aquaman series and mini-series and specials not to mention Aquaman’s stint with JL Detroit during which his dissolved marriage was a big plot point . . . aw, f@$% it. They don’t care; why should we?). At any rate, we see some flashbacks (no pun intended) to a disagreement that Jay and Alan had during WW2 that involved whether or not to kill a genetically engineered super-powered infant. If Barry Allen had been present, you know there would have been no debate, because JMS’s “Brave and the Bold” told us that Barry Allen had no problem killing anyone while visiting the ‘40s.
Justice League: Generation Lost #14: Captain Atom gets blown to the future. There he meets the 471st version of a future analogue-loaded JLA fighting to prevent the total destruction of a devastated Earth that apparently almost no other people inhabit. Seriously, it must be exhausting to heroes trying to remember all of the various possible futures that they must prevent because someone now did something stupid/evil/tragic. Why doesn’t anyone ever visit a future where all of the heroes are happily retired? “Kingdom Come” even had something of an upbeat ending until “The Kingdom”. I like the idea of Captain Atom absorbing too much energy, exploding, and then landing at the Wayne family barbecue for Damian’s high school graduation.
Captain Atom: Where am I?
Damian: Who’s this prick? He ruined my potato salad.
Bruce: It’s Captain Atom, son. He obviously absorbed too much energy in the past, exploded, and landed here.
Captain Atom: Bruce?! Oh my God . . . what’s the Crisis?
Selina Wayne: What crisis? Damian’s graduating from high school.
Captain Atom: Whu . . . huh?
Damian: Dad made me go to public school to learn humility. Dick.
Dick Grayson: What? Oh, sorry, nevermind. Hey, Babs, it’s Captain Atom.
Barbara Grayson: Nice to see you, Captain. Are you okay?
Captain Atom: I’m fine, Ms. Gordon. Thanks.
Barbara Grayson: It’s Grayson now.
Captain Atom: Oh hey, congratulations! I always knew you two would get together.
Kori Grayson: What’s that supposed to mean?
Captain Atom: Starfire? What . . . what do you mean?
Barbara Grayson: Dick converted a few years ago. Kori, Helena and I are all sister wives. We have a reality show!
Captain Atom: That sounds like Dick’s . . .
Damian: Dream come true?
Captain Atom: Pretty much. Where’s Tim?
Damian: He and Steph are late picking up Cassandra from the airport.
Captain Atom: Traffic?
Damian: Nope. We forgot about her.
Captain Atom: Oh. So, there’s no big Crisis?
Bruce: No, Nate. Six years ago, the Joker and Luthor called a big meeting of all of the super-villains, then surprised them by killing them all. Realizing that they’d screwed up and couldn’t trust each other, they both went for their guns at the same time. Krypto found them all a week later when they started to smell bad. With all of the villains dead and more Batmen active than there are McDonald’s, we all retired.
Captain Atom: Something has to be wrong! Where’s Clark?!
Bruce: Clark, Lois and the kids are at Disney. Hal and the Lanterns are on third shift this week watching all of the cosmic villains that are prisoners in the Inescapable Singularity that they built near Oa. The Allens and The Wests are camping. The Halls are on Thanagar. Arthur and Mera are back in Atlantis.
Captain Atom: What about Ollie?
Bruce: Ollie and Dinah took the family on a cruise when school got out.
Captain Atom: Family?
Bruce: After the Second Blackest Night, Lian came back as a White Lantern. She fixed Roy’s arm. He married Donna , Connor married Mia, Ollie and Dinah got back together, and Sin moved back in with the family.
Captain Atom: SECOND Blackest Night? Who else came back?
Bruce: Pretty much everybody. Ted and Michael have a sitcom. Arthur Jr.’s in Junior High. Garth, Dolphin and Cerdian are in Orlando; Garth’s the director at Sea World.
Captain Atom: This . . . this is all . . . too good to be true!
Bruce: Probably. Want some steak?
Uncanny X-Force #2: You have to love that they can get a whole new series out changing two tiny fundamentals about the original series. Example: the first X-Force of the recent crop of X-books was a covert squad of killing machines sanctioned by Cyclops but kept secret from everybody. The current X-Force is a covert squad of killing machines that used to be sanctioned by Cyclops but is now kept secret from everybody, including Cyclops. Also, this one says “Uncanny” in it. Yeah, there are different characters, but they all have sorta the same role, right? Psylocke/X23, Deadpool/Warpath, Archangel/Rahne, Fantomex/Domino, Wolverine/Wolverine, sorta? It’s kinda like a new version of old band that still has one original member so that they can use the name. Like The Yardbirds or Guns ‘N’ Roses. At the end of the day, though, the main difference? Fantomex and Deadpool? Pretty funny. Also, Apocalypse proves creepy, even as a child. Maybe especially as a child.
Batwoman #0: The many-times-announced and long-awaited ongoing series is finally here! Well, kinda. The phenomenon of a #0 issue is a strange one, serving as an introduction to a character before an ongoing series actually launches, so this still isn't really the launch. The pseudo-launch has Batwoman and Kate Kane being observed by one Bruce Wayne as he tries to figure out how she'll fit into his new Bat-empire. He pulls some "if it was anyone but Batman this would be some creepy voyeur sh*t" reconnaissance and figures out that they are in fact one in the same. In the meantime, Batwoman kicks people in the face and goes out dancing.What should we cover next week? Sound off!