Iron Man #12, War Machine #4, New Avengers #51, Mighty Avengers #23, Secret Warriors #3, & Agents of Atlas #3

It’s time to look at the last two weeks of books that I read! This week is one book shy as my store sold out of New Avengers: The Reunion #2. I don’t have it on my pull list so I’m a bit out of luck until I find it at another store. In the mean time it isn’t like there aren’t enough books to review, so let’s get right to it!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I tried to be good about not spoiling the books last time, but I didn’t feel like I got into the stories as much as I wanted to so I’m taking a page from the iFanboy podcast and letting you know now I’m talking about the stories and everything inside! If you haven’t read these and don’t want them spoiled – DO NOT READ FURTHER!

Iron Man #12

The first year of the re-re-launch of Iron Man has come to an end with ol’ Shell-Head getting beat on hard by Sub-Mariner. This issue is so clearly a “middle-of-story-arc” issue that when the trade comes out I doubt that they will even need to show the cover between issues, even though the cover featuring Iron Man and Sub-Mariner fighting underwater is a very striking image and would look very nice as a finely framed poster on your wall. Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca keep the hits coming as Tony Stark continues to lobotomize himself to eliminate any vestiges of the “secret identity” list that is still stuck in his brain. This little story element is one that has me a tad concerned. Since Secret Invasion we have seen Tony go from ultimate power, with his Extremis abilities and authority over The Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., to almost zero power, with Extremis stripped from his body along with the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., and now the metaphor is being taken to the extreme with Tony losing his company and, his most important asset, his mind. My concern rises because I remember the days when Tony died every few years. He’d get build up to a point where writers wouldn’t know what to do with him and so he’d be “killed” or have to elaborately fake his death. With this run being so young I’m really hoping that this trend isn’t starting all over again, and if it must does it have to be so soon. Really these are just the expressed fears of a long time reader, and I do have faith that the pay off for this arc will be worth it. I got faith in you Mr. Fraction!

Other fun things in this issue: Pepper testing out the abilities of her new armor, at least until she is arrested by H.A.M.M.E.R. Turns out her suit has no offensive weapons, just defensive and recovery stuff. Osborne even shoots down a commercial 747 just to see if she could catch it. She did. It’s a neat scene. Osborne is a prick.

In Texas, Maria Hill stumbled on the Controller at the Futurepharm. This story is still playing out but I really like where they are taking The Controller. The Controller is an OLD school IM villain. He goes back to Iron Man volume 1 #12 in the 60’s he’s so old! His thing is that he was an angry scientist who’s body got blown up so he build an exo-skeleton to get around. Thing is this exo-skeleton is powered by the energy from PEOPLE’S BRAINS!!!!!!!! Fraction is building him up like the mind-slaves are zombies! It’s actually a pretty tense scene. So Maria is now a slave of The Controller. More next issue.

And, fun armor sighting, the Hydro-Armor is back! As Tony lobotomizes himself his armor choices are regressing too. I’m curious to see where this ends up. I also want to see a Larroca version of the classic armor!

War Machine #4

Speaking of old school Iron Man villains, we got another heavy hitter straight out of Tales of Suspense #76: ULTIMO! More specifically the Ultimo virus, which is contagious. Continuing the story that Greg Pak and Leonardo Manco began in issue #1 Ares and War Machine are facing Ultimo powered prisoners. This whole issue is really just a straight up continuation from the last issue. Through the whole run thus far (I know, all three issues) we have been shown flashbacks to Jim Rhodes in his younger days. This time we saw him as a kid about 7 years old and naturally he knew Glenda Sandoval, the woman he is trying to rescue, when they were kids. Jim’s grandma called her trouble. Turns out she was right. I don’t really know what to say about this issue. It’s a good book, but I feel like this whole arc is really just set-up for the rest of the series. It is nice to see Bethany Cabe back in an Iron Family book. I’m eager to see her really get her place back in the Marvel Universe and maybe even back in the main IM title!!! There’s a new character, ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jake Oh. So far he hasn’t been too integral to what’s going on, but I imagine that he is going to be a permanent part of the WM team. I find myself waiting to see where this book is going to go – but the end scene where the Ultimo infected group burst into an out door market led by Ares, who is also now infected, was a really nice way to get me excited about the next issue.

The New Avengers #51

Bendis and a whole mess of artists come together on this to write a story that is like a really good episode of a TV show. Hard to tell what the A plot and the B plot are because I felt like they were both really strong. We have Doctor Strange looking for the new Sorcerer Supreme and the rest of the team dealing with the fall out from Clint Barton going on national television and calling out Norman Osborn as an asshole. It is nice to see the Young Avengers getting so much cred with the main Avengers titles (I’ll also mention this when I talk about Mighty Avengers). Billy, Wiccan, gets approached by Dr. Strange as a possible new SS. The discussion about why there needs to be a different one and whom it might be, and how much reverence Billy shows Strange, reminds you why Doctor Strange is such a great character. Of course the dreaded Dormmamu, who is the power behind The Hood, wants the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme for himself. I’m excited to see how the character of The Hood continues to grow. I really like how he’s a street level guy who managed to do what no other villain has been able to, unite the Marvel super-villains under his command. His control of the super-villain’s of the Marvel U. has been surprisingly believable and I love the way he gets all demon faced when he attacks Doctor Strange!

The rest of the issue was the New Avengers team doing bureaucratic team stuff, but that is some of what Brian Michael Bendis does best! Seeing the team sitting around a round table – it’s just like the old days but without a big “A” on it – really made it feel like an “Avengers” book. Spider-Man had to reveal his ID to the team or leave. I really thought he was going to leave, but turn the page and, POW!, there’s Peter Parker! That would have been enough but then BMB drops the bomb that Jessica Jones went to high school with Peter and had a huge crush on him! This all leads to some awkwardness only to have it all interrupted by a very injured Doctor Strange falling through the door. Bendis continues to write one hell of a team book and reminding us why he’s been a top writer for as long as he has been.

The Mighty Avengers #23
What a funny little book this is. Dan Slott writes and Koi Pham draws the second part of the introduction of the new Hank Pym led team.
I don’t like it when writers use Iron Man as an asshole just because they need an asshole in their story. Shellhead is an asshole in this story. Pym says at the end of the story that “…the Tony Stark I knew was better than this. Something’s up with him. He seemed… off his game.” That completely and perfectly describes how Iron Man was written in this story. I’m not even sure why he was brought into this story. Based on what’s going on in his own book and since he doesn’t even stay with the team there didn’t seem to be much of a reason to have him here, other than to take the piss out of Pym for a few pages and then almost blow things up before he leaves.
So there’s this chaos god who shows up and possesses blah blah blah. Let’s get down to brass tacks:
-New Mighty Avengers roster.
-Hank Pym, now calling himself The Wasp, is the leader and making a play to fix the years of history.
– The team is Pym, Vision, Stature, USAgent, Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Jocasta & Jarvis.
Hulk was there, but left.
– Iron Man was there, as I mentioned, but left.
Quicksilver was there, kind of, seeing as how his body was possessed by Chthon God of Chaos.
The neat thing about this story, and the only reason that I ended up liking it, was that The Scarlet Witch supposedly put this team together, when, in fact, it was assembled by none other than LOKI IN DISGUISE!!!!!!! Oddly enough Loki was responsible for the formation of the original team so it’s neat to see it all come full circle. Of course Loki also says that she wants to keep control of this team and will probably return in the disguise of Scarlet Witch as the series continues. If it weren’t for this little story bit I would have probably dropped the book.
Oh, as I mentioned in the New Avengers review it’s nice to see the Young Avengers get as much respect as they are right now. Knowing that Vision and Stature are going to be on this new team is pretty cool, although I’m pretty sure that means that there will not be another Young Avengers series any time soon.

Secret Warriors #3
This is a neat little spy story. It’s a very dense book where Hydra is starting to take back it’s power base. Even though there is a LOT of information it really doesn’t feel like there’s a lot going on. There is a big fight scene between the team, which I had to look up here at Wikipedia because I couldn’t remember who they were, and The Gorgon. The Gorgon kicks their ass and Yo-yo loses an arm. The best part was Phobos trying to use his fear ability on The Gorgon only to have The Gorgon not only not cower in fear, but then say he would kill Phobos.
I’m ready to see where this goes, especially since Fury called in Dum Dum Dugan at the end.

Agents of Atlas #3
I like this book. The continuity is a bit much for me to keep up with, but I have a feeling that the flashback stories that we’re seeing played out against the backdrop of the modern day stories are retconning the history a bit to get things in a good spot. In this issue the team continues to play villain as they do their best to get in good enough with Osborn to take him down. Another Iron Man bad guy, Temugin, son of the Mandarin, is a regular player now. Stick with me and I’ll try to explain:
The Atlas Foundation is an evil underground crime syndicate run by an ancient dragon. The Yellow Claw used to run this group. FBI agent Jimmy Woo used to hunt the Yellow Claw back in the 50’s. Now that the Claw is dead, Jimmy and the team have taken over the operation, disguised as bad guys, to use the power of the syndicate to make the world a better place. If you followed the link I left last time, which I’ve also left here again, you might have an idea of how much history, alternate history, and retconning has occurred around these characters. It’s hard to keep up but it makes the reading that much more fun. Also the catch-up page in the front is really good and have been all three issues. This issue concerns Namora and adds to the confusion about when she actually joined the team. I have to do more research. Oh and Captain America shows up at the end, too! Next issue looks good!
Well this one has taken too long to write so I’m going to end this blog by simply saying, “See you tomorrow!”

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