Or – “Wanna See My New Favorite Comic Book?”

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One of the marks of a really good comic book in today’s ‘Event-Driven’ industry (at least for me) is whether you’re tripped up by the question of “Where does this take place?” World War Hulk is a good example… The stories in Incredible Hulk are taking place between panels of the WWH limited series, but both stories are so well-crafted that I don’t worry about it. This book was written BEFORE the events of Civil War, obviously, but has been adjusted to take place AFTER the Stark Era, creating the possibility of those questions, but I’m having such fun with it that I don’t even care what’s up with Mandarin II.

Previously, on Super-Villain Team Up: MODOK’s 11: MODOK assembled s crack team of operatives (Armadillo, Chameleon, Deadly Nightshade, The Living Laser, 111.jpgMentallo, The Puma, Rocket Racer & The Spot) to break into the time-displaced headquarters of a futuristic braintrust called the Infinicide and steal the Hypernova, a powersource of nigh-infinite voltage. Unfortunately, there is no honor among thieves, and Chameleon sold his invitation to Monica Rappacini, headmistress of AIM, who sent an Ultra-Adaptoid (much like the Super-Adaptoid, only with 20% more Retsin) in Chammy’s place. She set Mentallo on fire, and by the time the mission started, they were already down a man. Rocket Racer provided transport, and the group made their way in, found the Hypernova, passed it off to Spot to deliver to MODOK… and promptly got stabbed innaback. Spot delivered the device to the second Mandarin, but was paid for his duplicity by being trapped in the darkforce dimension by Mandy. Worse than that, their actions caused the Infinicide’s headquarters to blow up… We join our story moments before last issue ended, checking in on Rocker Racer, manning the escape vehicle and making a phone call. “Ma! Guess what? I met a gi-gi-girl!”

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Heh. The stuttering is interesting, and Bob’s probably my favorite character of this mix, historically. Suddenly, the massive explosion on the plains occurs, and R.R. watches smoke rising out of a massive crater. “Ma? Gotta go.” Heh. (And isn’t Bob’s mom in a coma?) Rocker Racer heads to his vehicle to check in on his teammates, and in the midst of the wreckage, we find the one rule of the Marvel Universe still applies: nobody dies forever, and the ones that do, don’t die easy.

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I like these AIM guys. It’s even more awesome if you imagine them speaking in the voices of Agent 21 and 24, The Monarch’s henchmen from ‘The Venture Brothers.’ Monica interrupts their congratulations by reporting a strange rumbling or grinding noise, and the ground suddenly bursts open. “Yo, eses!” calls the Armadillo, digging himself and Nightshade free of their tunnel. “Little help?” Suddenly, two blasts annihilate the giant hunk of rock in his hands, and everyone turns to see… THE BIG WHEEL!

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Y’know, I almost feel bad for the Infinicide, for about a minute and a half, there. “Chameleon” asks how they’ll know this Mandarin when they see him, and Nightshade points out the window at the 1000 foot mechanical dragon. “I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and guess that’s probably him.” Heh. Living Laser flies out of the Big Wheel to reconnoiter (“I feel cramped in here, and I have no corporeal body.” Heh…) only to find an interior dressed in early-Chinese decor, and the younger Mandarin bowing to a picture of his father. “Look what I have brought you, father!” Young Mandy is going to use the power source to juice the Makluan starship that initially provided his dad with the ten rings of power and use it to rule the world. Given that the Makluans are 100 foot tall dragon creatures (Fin Fang Foom is one of their number) I suspect that this might be a good plan, at least for world domination. Laser prepares to kill him, but suddenly, Young Mandenstein leaps to attack him. “You brain-dead? You can’t ‘Hong Kong Fooey’ a guy made out of energ–” His words are cut off as Mandarin successfully lands a kick.

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Note that at this point, L’il Mandarin has the rings of power, proving that this HAS to take place before recent events in the Iron Man series. Honestly, just go with it, it’s a cool enough series to keep that from really mattering. Hearing the beatdown through their communicators, the remaining members of the 11 decide to play cowboy and save their lost partner (mostly because of Puma’s insistence that Laser saved his life, and he owes him a debt of honor.) Nightshade steps up to the plate and makes an egress…

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“It’s glandular.” HA! That… is… AWESOME. They climb aboard the dragon-ship (and headed for the SKIIIIIES, singing COME SAIL AWAAY… Nevermind. Bygones) and get there just in time to see the Laser being crushed by one of Young Mandy’s finger trinkets. Puma once again insists that he has to help, to save the former Arthur Parks, and Nightshade puts a hand on his shoulder. “You could’ve chosen a more convenient time to suddenly get morals, Puma.” Thomas Fireheart suddenly has a satori, and replies “Better to die in defense of one’s people than live as a pawn… discarded. Forgotten, once your usefulness is expired!” His anger seems to trigger a Bruce Banner moment for him.

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And Nightshade’s werewolf serum becomes integral to the plot. Between that, The Big Wheel, and remembering that Living Laser worked for the first Mandarin, I think writer Fred Van Lente has outed himself as another comic ephemera geek. Hail, fellow, and well met! While Fireheart confronts Son Of Mandarin, The Ultra Adaptoid/Monica Rapaccini decides to forget that noise and heads straight for the Hypernova…

…which is gone.

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Et tu, Racer? Once again, we have the oddball runaround trick, and yet another layer of deception in the plot, and Monica’s Adaptoid grows wings and Thing-fists, taking off in pursuit of the Racer. I enjoy the heck out of that… I also enjoy how Puma gets in his shots on the Mandarin, actually making the punk bleed a bit before getting frozen in a block of ice from the freeze-ring. “Pride of an entire people, eh?” remarks the L’il Mandarin about Puma. “If I were in your position, I would be concerned about how my sudden disintegration will reflect on them.” Before he can move, Nightshade gets his attention.

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Mexican standoff time. “Drop him or die!” cries the Mandarin, and Nightshade stays mostly calm. “Let my guys go first.” Armadillo, still piloting the Big Wheel, sees the Racer whiz by on his board, and can’t figure out why he’s flying away, only to be more confused when Chameleon flies by (using powers Chameleon doesn’t have) shooting at Rocket. Suddenly, missiles impact the dragon-ship, rocking everyone off their feet, causing Mandarin to fall down, and (sadly for L’il Mandy) freeing Puma.

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Oh, my… THAT’S hardcore, right there. I think we know how the rings get OFF Son Of Mandarin now, though how they get where they’re going is still up in the air. Armadillo veers off, barely missing a drop into a canyon, while the dragon-ship lists a bit, before crashing into a mountainside. Wanna know a secret? That is Mandarin’s RIGHT hand. The pinky ring on his right hand, historically, has been the Black Light beam. The Black Light beam is what imprisoned the Spot. The Spot is a teleporter. Is this line of reasoning making any sense to you yet? Just my thoughts, mind you… As for Rocket Racer, he once again calls his mama for help…

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Ladies and gentlemen? Derek Khanata of SHIELD. Which means that next issue might have, joy of joys, full-scale warfare between the guys in the blue jumpsuits and the guys in yellow-beekeeper hats! Way cool…

Okay, here’s the drill: I cannot find fault with this issue. From the flirting between Nightshade and Racer (which I think she doesn’t take nearly as seriously as he seems to) to the Laser’s response to being attacked, to the continuity touches, to the return of Thomas Fireheart’s principles, this was an excellent issue. Francis Portela’s art is wonderful, with little quirks here and there (like Racer’s helmet, Puma’s kittycat nose, and Nightshade’s slinky movements) that I love dearly, as well as a flair for technology that borders on brilliance. This is the issue that really pulls all the threads together, and answers a few of the questions that many of us were asking (Puma’s behavior, Rocket Racer’s return to crime, at least a little bit of the Mandarin issues) and frankly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Super-Villain Team Up: MODOK’s 11 earns a completely deserved 5 out of 5 stars, and makes me wish that we had an extra half-star or so to chuck in there, just on the sheer fun-factor alone…

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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.

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13 Comments

  1. Mark I.
    October 3, 2007 at 1:23 pm — Reply

    Wow, this is a good series. And not a single “major” player for miles around.

    “MINIONS!!! (They like that better than ‘Hench-men.’)”

  2. Juan, the Ninja Charro
    October 3, 2007 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    I love the concept, a title basedon a team of bad guys, but, the name MODOK’s 1? Please, why Marvel could name them NEw Masters of Evil, Mighty Legion or something like that? Change the name, and I ll give it 6 stars.

  3. Ben
    October 3, 2007 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    How can you give a Marvel issue 5 out of 5 stars without Wolverine in it?

  4. October 3, 2007 at 2:31 pm — Reply

    I love it when a Comic gets so well-written that it outgrows its title. Did MODOK even make a cameo in this one?

  5. Mark I.
    October 3, 2007 at 3:11 pm — Reply

    If the Orange County Liberation Front shows up for the big final dust-up…things will REALLY get interesting.

    The title “Modok’s 11” is part of the comedy, Juan! And a “Juan the Ninja Charro” should get that! :)

  6. Brother129
    October 3, 2007 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    Now, this would actually make for an interesting ongoing series, with interchangeable villains. Marvel’s answer to the Suicide Squad. Nevermind, they’d find a way to ruin a good thing…

  7. Maximus Rift
    October 3, 2007 at 8:51 pm — Reply

    You Know? If MODOK actually planned all this, it would make the whole series even better.

  8. October 4, 2007 at 1:05 am — Reply

    How can you give a Marvel issue 5 out of 5 stars without Wolverine in it?

    Ummm… ‘Kay.

  9. October 4, 2007 at 1:06 am — Reply

    I love it when a Comic gets so well-written that it outgrows its title. Did MODOK even make a cameo in this one?

    MODOK’s sole appearance was in the telepathic congress with Nightshade…

  10. October 4, 2007 at 1:39 am — Reply

    “Hey, we were just following orders! You can’t yell at us for following orders!”

    “Yeah, or KILL us for following orders!”

  11. October 4, 2007 at 9:03 am — Reply

    You Know? If MODOK actually planned all this, it would make the whole series even better

    Well, ask yourself this… Why WOULD a telepathic creature have to hire ANOTHER telepath? Why would a man who FLIES AROUND IN A HOVERCHAIR need the services of Rocket Racer for transport purposes?

    This series takes it’s title and it’s idiom from ‘Ocean’s 11,’ and both of those movies were full of twists, surprises and double-crosses… Hmm….

  12. Mark I.
    October 4, 2007 at 11:07 am — Reply

    So…MODOK ends up with Julia Roberts? And if Mentallo (I presume he’ll be back for the climax,) was Matt Damon, who’s Brad Pitt? Deadly Nightshade?

    Between Puma ripping Mandarito’s hand off and American Eagle seriously f’n up 1/3 of the Thunderbolts, pretty good year for Marvel’s American Indians, eh?

  13. October 4, 2007 at 11:43 am — Reply

    I’d forgotten Thomas was a Native American. Good call…

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