Mighty Week of Marvel #22

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Guardians of the Galaxy #9 sees Blastaar, newly appointed King of the Negative Zone, attempting to invade 42, the otherdimensional prison designed by Reed Richards to hold Earth’s superhuman criminals. On the prisoner’s side: the wheelchair bound former superhero Jack Flag, the Condor, Gorilla Man of the Headmen, Bison, Skeleton Ki and Carrion, amongst others. On Blastaar’s side: the massed hordes of the Negative Zone. In the middle: a naked and defenseless Star Lord. On the whole, Peter Quill is not having a good day!

Meanwhile, on Titan, the benevolent Mentor unexpectedly seemingly murders Drax and Phyla Vell, who have come to him for help in locating Moondragon’s spirit, and the remaining Guardians teleport straight into trouble. And what is up with Starhawk?

Continuity: Jack Flag was a former partner of Captain America, introduced in Captain America #434 (1994).  He was crippled by Bullseye when he was captured by the Thunderbolts for defying the Superhuman Registration Act in Thunderbolts #111 (2007).

The Condor is a renegade member of the Bird People of Sky Island who first appeared in Nova #2 (1976). Dr Arthur Nagan, the second Gorilla Man, first appeared in Mystery Tales #21 (1954; this story was later reprinted in Weird Wonder Tales #7, 1974) and was formally declared a part of the Marvel Universe in the Defenders #21 (1975).
Carrion, the third villain to take the name, was fist seen in Spider-Man: Dead Man’s Hand (1997), in which Dr William Allen was infected by the Carrion virus originally created by the late Miles Warren. Bison debuted in Thunderstrike #13 (1994) and Skeleton Ki in Marvel Comics Presents #125 (1993).

If things are looking grim in space, they’re even worse on Earth where Dark Avengers #1 finds Norman Osborn reforming the Avengers-but these are not the Avengers we know. The names are familiar enough: Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Sentry and Ares.

Though a couple of them are the heroes they seem to be, the man now calling himself Captain Marvel is the unstable extra dimensional formerly called Marvel Boy, this ‘Hawkeye’ is really Bullseye, the new Wolverine is the original’s murderous son, Daken, the woman behind Ms Marvel’s mask is the former Thunderbolt named Moonstone, and that aint Spider-Man, either—it’s a disguised Venom! And their field leader? None other than Norman Osborn himself, now wearing a suit of Iron Man armor and calling himself the Iron Patriot! This will not end well, I fear.

Continuity: The latest Avengers team being disguised super villains echoes the end of Thunderbolts #1 (1997), appropriately enough since three of the new Avengers are former Thunderbolts.  Noh Varr, the new Captain Marvel, debuted in Marvel Boy #1 (2000).

You can’t keep the real Avengers down for long, though, and in Mighty Avengers #21, a new team gathers to fight an old threat. Chaotic magic is cascading across the Earth, and Hercules and Edwin Jarvis, alongside teenage genius Amadeus Cho, must put together a team to stop it—starting with founding member Henry Pym and his robotic aide, Jocasta. Unfortunately, Dr Pym’s recent bereavement hasn’t done his already fragile psyche any favors; he has adopted the name of his late wife, the Wasp, and seems more interested in his researches in the private universe he has created than in saving the world!

Meanwhile, the Hulk, Stature, USAgent and the Vision have also been recruited by another former Avenger: Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, the woman who destroyed the original Avengers! And the foe behind the fury unleashed across the globe? None other than the mad mystic Modred, who has resurrected the demon Chthon in the body of Wanda’s brother, Quicksilver! Oh dear, here we go again…

Continuity: Henry Pym has been both highly unstable and prone to changing identities at a moments notice for years. Originally Ant Man, he had already called himself both Giant Man and Goliath by the time, in Avengers #59 (1968), he had his first breakdown and adopted the name and costume of Yellowjacket. He has since had at least three more schizoid episodes and bounced back and forth between identities several times, so this latest development isn’t entirely unexpected.

Wanda and Pietro Maximoff were first revealed to have been born to be the pawns of Chthon in Avengers #185-187(1979), in which it was also revealed that he had corrupted Modred the Mystic; Modred originally battled Chthon in Marvel Chillers #1-2 (1975).

Thunderbolts #128 picks up a plot thread from Dark Avengers #1, as we learn what use Norman Osborn had for old Iron Man villain The Ghost. In the wake of the massacre at Thunderbolts Mountain, Doc Samson has been attempting to discredit Osborn, but Norman is never without a contingency plan. In this case, having Air Force One attacked by the Green Goblin while he himself is on board in a meeting with the President. But hold on-isn’t Norman the Green Goblin? Plus, the return of Ant Man II and the new Black Widow.

Continuity: the Thunderbolt Mountain massacre and Doc Samson’s battle with Osborn’s flunky Moonstone took place in Thunderbolts #118-121(2008). The Ghost debuted in Iron Man #219 (1987). Yelena Belova, the third Black Widow, first appeared in Inhumans #5 (1999), but was eventually severely injured and disfigured by the supervillain Sauron and subsequently was apparently transformed into a new version of the Super Adaptoid in New Avengers Annual #1 (2006). She resurfaced, as Belova, in Marvel Comics Presents #5 (2008), though it is not entirely clear how she recovered from her earlier injuries.

The X-Men start to unravel the mystery of the ruined mutant city of Tian in Astonishing X-Men #28, but they may soon wish they hadn’t bothered. Someone has been messing around with parallel universes, and their interference has led to the deaths of at least one man and possibly an entire team of Chinese mutants. And it looks like the prime suspect is one of the X-Men’s own-the mutant master of machines, Forge! But before our heroes can deal with that little bombshell, they first have to deal with the horrors that lurk in Tian, and now their powers are failing…

Continuity: Storm lost her powers before, thanks to Forge, in Uncanny X-Men #185 (1984). Forge first appeared in the previous issue, #184.

Emma Frost is amongst the X-Men imperiled in China, but thanks to the magic of Marvel time she’s also out for revenge on her former ally Sebastian Shaw in the pages of Uncanny X-Men Annual #2, which ties into Dark Reign and examines the untold history between the White Queen and Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Over in X-Men: Legacy #220, Charles Xavier and Gambit track the missing Rogue to Maynard’s Plains, the abandoned town in the Australian outback that was once the team’s base of operations. But Danger awaits them there.

In X-Men: Kingbreaker #2, Havok breaks out of jail and the Starjammers get ready to take on the might of the Shi-Ar Empire as Gabriel Summers, the insane Emperor Vulcan, prepares for war. Psylocke takes on Slaymaster, the alternate counterpart of the man who once blinded her, in New Exiles #17. The Sinister Six take on Iron Man and Dr Strange in Dr Doom & the Masters of Evil #1. And in X-Factor #39, Siryn gives birth, and we get the shock ending to end all shock endings. And this one, I’m not going to spoiler. It’s just too stunning.

Continuity: the X-Men originally claimed Maynard Plains from its former owners, the cyborg Reavers, in Uncanny X-Men #229 (1988). Slaymaster-or his Earth 616 counterpart-blinded Betsy Braddock in Captain Britain # 13 (1986).

Panel of the week: Mighty Avengers #21

Hank Pym’s latest codename causes his teammates a few misgivings…

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