Or – “For The Love Of Pie, SOMEBODY Do SOMETHING!!”

AV11.jpg

It’s been a little more than two months since we saw the last issue of Mighty Avengers, and, I admit it, I whined about the last issue. Indeed, I’ve whined about the last three issues, with their glacial plot development, tons of cheesecake shots and still almost no hints as to what in the Aitch-Ee-Double-Hockey-Sticks is going on. Finally, we have some developments on the explanatory front, but is it enough to overcome seventy-odd pages of standing around saying one thing while thinking another?

Previously, on Mighty Avengers: Your guess is about as good as mine, actually. Okay, even I admit that’s a cheap shot. Director Stark of SHIELD convinced his good friend Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) to spearhead a new version of an old idea: a new Avengers Av.jpgteam. Recruiting a team heavy on power, but short on acuity, she assembled Ares, The Sentry, Wonder Man, The Wasp, The Black Widow, as well as herself and Iron Man, but minutes after their assembly (quite literally, as the caption on the page where they recruit Ares says “45 Minutes Ago”) they find the weather going absolutely bat$#!+ insane. The team was stunned to see Iron Man physically transformed into a buck-naked woman who is a dead ringer for The Wasp. When they realize that they’re dealing with a deadly Naked Ultron, she systematically takes them out, including dropping the Helicarrier on The Sentry. Black Widow takes command of SHIELD, and sends her agents to retrieve Henry Pym (totally cock-blocking him with Tigra as well.) As they try to come up with a plan, they’re stunned to see the old gray Iron Man armor fly up and announce that it’s Tony Stark’s last will and testament. Naked Ultron takes the time to tap into all the satellite networks in the world, broadcasting her words to every television and radio reciever in the world. “Hello, organic children of the planet Earth… I am the Ultron interface… I was created to replace you. And I wanted to take this moment to say goodbye.”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

“I love you. Goodbye.” It’s a good speech, actually, and I like the way this scene plays out. As for the Avengers, they find themselves talking to an empty Iron Man suit. “I am the Starktech 9. In the event of Tony Stark’s termination, I am an artificial intelligence that was created to assist either SHIELD or the Avengers with the crisis at hand.” As I said before, if it’s actually sent to help, why is it the jankety old ’67 Plymouth version of the Iron Man armor, and not the shiny new glow-in-the-dark almost sentient armor with the Baron Underbheit faceplate and the stripper thigh boots? The question is moot, actually, as Ares of Olympus deals with the armor the same way he does with anything and everything, including the slow kid at the McDonald’s drive-through: with swift and blinding violence.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Ms. Marvel, for about the tenth time in one afternoon, has to physically restrain her team berzerker (and you have to wonder when SOMEBODY is going to question whether this idiot is Avengers material.) He swears that this is just a Trojan horse from Ultron, but Carol isn’t sure. They butt heads for a few seconds, when the SHIELD strikeforce returns with Henry Pym, formerly known as Ant-Man I, Giant Man I, Goliath I, Doctor Pym, and currently running with The Initiative as Yellowjacket. Henry is, like Iron Man, a founding Avenger, and he has confirmation of the identity of the thing shaped like a steel-plated Homer Simpson.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Because he’s just that damn good, Ares. Once again, the thought balloons don’t do Carol Danvers any favors, making her seem two-faced, vindictive, and just bitchy. The thought balloon experiment is one that I think can be marked off as a noble failure, as this usage of them is even more distracting than the days when they did all the expositionary dialogue for the heroes. Pym explains that Ultron was created to think, to learn, and Carol asks how it learned to control the weather. The Starktech 9 whirrs back to life, and responds “Artificial intelligence Ultron has taken control of the Sular experiment.” Tony Stark named an experiment after the Enterprise’s Vulcan doctor? Turns out that Iron Man has created an artificial satellite network to control the weather. With a thought balloon that curses Stark, Ms. Marvel sends her powerhouses into orbit. Wonder Man and Sentry make quick work of the Tony’s years of work and money.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

…but I want to know, how did they know WHICH ones to thrash? Nobody gave them any more directive than “Sic ’em.” Perhaps they have some sort of radio units that allow them to communicate, even in space? And wasn’t Wonder Man needing a flight assist in issue #1? Now he’s operating in hard vacuum, even though his belt has historically featured JETS rather than rockets. (Jet engines tend to require air intake to function, something notably lacking in space.) Maybe Tony upgraded his flight mechanisms while we weren’t looking. The Black Widow asks if somebody can track down Reed Richards for the assist, and Doctor Pym remarks that he doesn’t really need the help. *cheery 70’s game show music swells in the background* “Hey, kids, what time is it?? It’s time for yet another round of… CRAP! ON! YELLOWJACKET!!!”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

A bisected and obsolete Iron Man armor gets more respect than our poor Doc Pym. Sorry about the lower-than-usual quality in the images, by the way. Working from a PDF rather than my normal flatbed scanner… They’re actually much quicker to clean up in Photoshop (less straightening) but I can’t quite clean up the image to our normal Major Spoilers standards. Bygones… Wondy and Sentry return, and Simon remarks that Iron Man is going to be mightily torqued when he sees the bill for all this damage. “Tony is DEAD,” thinks Sentry, but it should be noted that Bob is much less familiar with the comic-book death than Simon, who has shuffled off this mortal coil no fewer than three times in my memory. As the weather returns to normal, Ms. Marvel rallies her troops for the second phase of her plan…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Not content to just take out the power grid, Naked Ultron sets off an electromagnetic pulse, fouling the engines of everything in the air save the helicarrier itself. Ms. Marvel, Sentry and Wonder Man again go on the defensive, snatching crippled aircraft out of harm’s way, while the more technically minded Avengers (and Ares) try to piece together the Starktech 9. By consulting with the machine, the Wasp realizes that Naked Ultron is just repeating the weather patterns that had already occurred, and so they presume that her Plan B will be an existing one, as she exhibits no originality. “Iron Man” tells them that there was an unauthorized entry report just before the EMP went off, and they try to track it, but Naked Ultron has already made her way to her next destination…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Okay. We can establish CLEARLY that this takes place prior to World War Hulk, as the Tower is still standing, but what possible plan could N.U. have? Lindy awakes, and Naked Ultron shushes her, cooing that “This is Plan B.” Sentry heads for the tower at Mach Eleventy-Seven. Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man struggle to keep up with the frightened Bob, who screams out his tormentors name. “ULTRON!!!”

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Oh… crud. But, hey, there’s my fave-rave Iron Man armor, the Mark VII ‘Silver Centurion’ suit. That thing has some class, not like this current overlappy red and gold thing. Of course, I remember at least three stories where ALL of these armors were destroyed, meaning that Tony keeps rebuilding them (for old times’ sake, maybe?) Carol points out that remotely controlling all the armors is a recent trick of Tony’s so they don’t have much to worry about, but Naked Ultron remarks that combat doesn’t really fulfill her drive for power. “But in this case, I need to stall you, while I put Lindy out of her misery.” Sentry remembers his full powerset, and blows past the armors, crashing into his quarters with Earth-shattering force…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Those tendrils cannot be a good sign. I think we’re seeing Ultron’s evil plan, and I suspect it involved taking over Yellow Superman’s brain. While Sentry grives and possibly gets assimilated, Ares arrives on the scene and goes full-scale medieval on the flying knights, ripping them up like toilet paper in a hailstorm, and entertainingly tearing one in half and killing another with its boot-jets. Suddenly, as he finishes with the killstorm, he stops, examines the situation, and goes all Richard Dreyfuss “These potatoes MEAN something!” Looking at the Wasp, he says decisively, “I know how to stop her.” I hope he does, and that he can execute his plan quickly, because at a missile site in Lithuania, SOMETHING is knocking on the door, looking for a way in…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Dun dun DAAAAH! She’s looking for nuclear access codes in the former Soviet Union… I’ve got it! She’s reenacting ‘War Games’ with Matthew Broderick! “Shall… we… play… a… GAME?” I honestly have no idea what this plan is all about, but there were a couple of interesting moments, (none of which quite hit “Hell, Yeah” status) and the seeming murder of Lindy was somewhat unexpected. Superhero wives have a very limited lifespan, after all, as most comics creators tend to prefer their heroes single and freewheeling. Frank’s art, normally the strongest part of the issues, felt a little more “cartoony” than usual, and his Iron Legion suits seemed a lot smoother and more rounded than most of them looked in their original incarnations.

Still, even if I found the art to be occaisonally unsuited, it’s still well-done, and Brian Bendis’ script is finally going somewhere, though it’s not entirely clear where. There are some holes in the narrative (such as Wonder Man’s flight question, and at what point this story is taking place) but there’s some nice moments here as well. Honestly, I like Bendis, but I keep wondering if John Q. Schmucko walked in the door with this precise story and pacing and pitched it, what would the response be? When I signed up for Mighty Avengers, I expected that I might see some “decompressed” storytelling, but this is more than just compressed, this is less decompressed than atomized tale-spinning. I will say that I like #4 better than #3, but there’s still a gap between what the story says and what the art show in some places, as well as some general bitterness overlapping from the last couple of issues. It probably shouldn’t affect my reading experience, but it does, rating this issue a much-improved 2.5 out of 5 stars.

25stars.jpg

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

World on Fire Arc Continues in Red Sonja #27

Next post

Marvel Sneak Peek: Sub-Mariner #3

14 Comments

  1. Mark I.
    July 25, 2007 at 11:39 am — Reply

    What, Ultron couldn’t bother with a refrigerator?

  2. Josh
    July 25, 2007 at 12:31 pm — Reply

    I can’t say I’m enjoying the snarkiness that permeates Mighty Avengers. All the thought balloons do is show us how much of a witch Carol is. And, they’re distracting.

    I know it’s been sad before somewhere, but Pym is the Rodney Dangerfield of Superheroes. It needs to stop, it was put to bed years ago.

  3. davek
    July 25, 2007 at 1:21 pm — Reply

    Dave’s Prediction:
    Ares will suggest Mutual Assured Destruction – It’s the Avengers who are actually doing the launch code hacking, in order to threaten Ultron with the ultimatum that they will destroy EVERYTHING if the program doesn’t back down. Because the program’s intent is to populate across the Earth, there will be no Earth to populate and thus, it will not be serving its programming.

    Something like that. You know the tune, sing along.

  4. Sanlear
    July 25, 2007 at 1:47 pm — Reply

    I’m reminded of an old sketch from Saturday Night Live where someone would say something, and then think something totally different, until the simple-minded Joe Montana appeared to announce he was going upstairs to, uh, take things in hand, so to speak. Ares is Joe Montana.

  5. Brent F.
    July 25, 2007 at 3:07 pm — Reply

    Great, so now the Sentry not only has an excuse for being mopey, he has an excuse for being even more mopey than usual.

  6. Brother129
    July 25, 2007 at 8:50 pm — Reply

    I guess Naked Ultron’s EMP attack better explains why Danny Rand’s plane went down in New Avengers…

    This issue is easily the strongest so far…but the problems with the first three detract from it. I agree…I’m still more annoyed than interested. Personally, killing spouses and family members leaves a bad taste in my mouth if it serves no real purpose. Guess we’ll have to wait and see, I mean, the Sentry already IS a nutjob…

  7. July 25, 2007 at 10:12 pm — Reply

    The only reason this title is on my pull list is because it has “Avengers” in the title. I could really care less about this story. I know its been eluded to before, but has anyone established when this is taking place? To me this title seems to not acknowledge WWH … but I am simple. Can anyone help me out with this?

  8. July 26, 2007 at 8:04 am — Reply

    To me this title seems to not acknowledge WWH … but I am simple. Can anyone help me out with this?

    This takes place immediately (like a matter of minutes) after the formation of the Mighty Avengers, right after the Civil War. The four issues so far seem to have covered a span of maybe three hours, and the solicits indicate that there’s four more issues to go. This title has been late, so we may still be reading this “first adventure” well into next years crossover, too…

  9. July 26, 2007 at 8:05 am — Reply

    I guess Naked Ultron’s EMP attack better explains why Danny Rand’s plane went down in New Avengers…

    It’s an interesting theory, and he DID say that there was “something going on” with the weather in New York…

  10. July 26, 2007 at 8:07 am — Reply

    I know it’s been sad before somewhere, but Pym is the Rodney Dangerfield of Superheroes.

    It’s been said here, repeatedly. I think the Marvel writing staff, having grown up on the comics of the late 70’s and early 80’s, have imprinted on that one Shooter story and decided that they need to punish Hank for hitting Jan 25 years ago…

  11. Rowan
    July 26, 2007 at 10:29 am — Reply

    I don’t know if the Sentry is gonna be Mopey , or more like really mad for the rest of this story line and then you know he will be mopey or maybe he will be all mad forever and the void will take over

  12. Mark I.
    July 26, 2007 at 10:29 am — Reply

    Marvel’s been punishing Peter Parker for like 50 years, why not Hank Pym, right?

  13. Steven R. Stahl
    July 26, 2007 at 10:49 am — Reply

    Your review could serve as a substitute for the comic. Some weak points not noted:

    Apparently retcons have become so routine as to be accepted without comment. Stark’s weather control satellites didn’t exist before MA #5, as far as I know. Note that the weather alteration began in MA #1, before Stark was transformed, but for some strange (?) reason, Stark didn’t think of his own satellites. He suspected the Mole Man. So, the weather control plot point is out of sync with other plot points, and out of sync with Stark himself. Or did Bendis modify the plot for MA #5 after doing MA #4?

    There’s absolutely no reason to think that Lithuania’s military computers are networked in a fashion that would enable an outsider to gain control over the missiles–no reason to think that the actual controllers are networked in *any* fashion. The plot point was a product of technological ignorance.

    One would think that a reader should feel emotional about the (presumed) death of Lindy, but there’s no reason to. There was no characterization. She was used as a plot device to destabilize the Sentry’s mind, and nothing more.

    SRS

  14. July 26, 2007 at 11:11 am — Reply

    Y’know, since this story started like SIX months ago, I had forgotten about that… The satellite question is a good one, and just another reason to wonder what the hell is going on with this story. The Mighty Avengers are essentially in limbo in the present time until this interminable storyline ends, unable to reference this story without giving away plot points.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section