Friday, September 30, 2016

New Avengers #2 When: September 2010
Why: Brian Michael Bendis How: Stuart Immonen

The Story So Far...
For years the Avengers were torn apart by philosophical differences that erupted in Civil War. A secret invasion by Skrulls exposed holes in the new regime, allowing Norman Osborn to replace SHIELD as the corrupt Director of HAMMER! His tyranny went unnoticed until finally a siege on Asgard exposed the true evil!

With Osborn ousted in disgrace, Captain America is a natural choice to assume responsibility for SHIELD and a holistic approach to the superhero community. Thus, a new heroic age begins for The Avengers!

Having bought The Avengers mansion for $1 at the behest of Tony Stark, all seems well for Luke Cage and his new, fully authorized Avengers team! At least, until Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom crash the housewarming in search of The Eye of Agamotto that's spontaneously appeared in Cage's hands!

Magic is afoot as strange forces manipulate The Avengers in a grand design they have no way of knowing about. Now they'll have to fight each other if they're to keep the universe safe long enough for Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Voodoo to do something about it!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Thing 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Dr. Strange 5 (Professor)
Speed: Iron Fist 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting: Iron Fist 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Agamotto 7 (Cosmic)

The Avengers are: Thing, Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Wolverine, Mockingbird, Spider-man & Hawkeye.

Under ordinary circumstances, this incarnation of The Avengers would look to Luke Cage as their fearless leader. Alas, circumstances have it that he's been possessed by an agent of the mystic entity Agamatto!

Agamotto is a founding entity of the paths of magic, spawned from the elder goddess Oshtur. He is perhaps best known for his creation of powerful mystic artefacts: The Eye of Agamatto and The Orb of Agamotto. Both are frequently called upon in the arsenal of Earth's Sorcerer Supreme - Dr. Stephen Strange!

At the time of this episode, Dr. Strange has relinquished his post as Sorcerer Supreme, surrendering the mantle to Brother Voodoo. Voodoo was in command of The Eye of Agamotto, but saw fit to transport it to Luke Cage and The Avengers when he was attacked by two possessed agents of Agamotto: Daimon Hellstrom and Dr. Strange himself!

Along with their possessed teammate, The Avengers will have to contend with Hellstrom & Strange! Cage has grown to approximately thirty-feet tall and is showing signs of his already impressive strength being augmented. We saw Cage get the better of his teammates when they were infected with alien symbiotes [New Avengers #36]. Bad news all around!

Fortunately, the group have just added two high-level powerhouses to their ranks: Thing and Ms. Marvel! Both have the durability to pick up the defensive slack for the rest of the team. They also have the power to fight back!

The rest of the team aren't especially well suited to facing off against the magic of Dr. Strange and Son of Satan, but they have been in situations like this before. The group fought off The Hood (augmented by Dormammu) in New Avengers #54, albeit with the help of Strange and Hellstrom.

It's the numbers of The Avengers against the chaos and uncertainty of Agamotto's magic! That's spells a recipe for uncertainty if there ever was one! Let's dispense with the incantations and find out how it all went down!

The Math: Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Chaos erupts in Avengers Mansion as the heroes are confronted with the sudden appearance of The Eye of Agamotto and hostile Dr. Strange & Son of Satan! The team scrambles to reorient themselves, unsure of the exact nature or intent of the magical threat that has also transformed their leader into an angry giant!

Wolverine tells The Thing to grab The Eye of Agamotto and make a run for it, choosing the team's newest recruit for his phenomenal strength and rocky hide! He makes a grab for it, but is sent hurtling out of Avengers mansion with a blow from his gigantic magically charged friend!

Jessica Jones unloads care of her and Cage's daughter to the arms of Spider-man, who makes a run for the stairs to get the baby out of danger!

Meanwhile; Iron Fist launches a fly kick in Daimon Hellstrom's direction, Ms. Marvel hovers over a toppled Luke Cage, and Wolverine pounds on Dr. Strange's chest with a fist full of adamantium! All of their efforts are temporary measures in an effort to keep the possessed heroes from the mystic talisman!

Hellstrom clobbers Iron Fist, Luke Cage tugs at Ms. Marvel's hair, and Strange wrestles with Wolverine -- each in a mad dash for The Eye!

Retired heroine Jessica Jones reaches into her untapped super-human reservoir to launch herself at her possessed husband! The super-human uppercut knocks him backward and launches The Eye of Agamotto into the air!

Wolverine catches the magic artefact and hurls it out the window as far as he can! Ensuring the possessed mystics cannot take chase, he rushes them with a calculated thrust of his claws! The unbreakable metal slices into their chests!

Outside the mansion, The Eye lands in the middle of a picnic in a nearby park! The giant-size Cage, Thing and Ms. Marvel take chase - prompting a terrified citizen to throw it into the air!

Ms. Marvel's aerial abilities allow her to snatch the amulet just as Cage and Thing are making a grab for it. The development gives Thing a chance to even the score with a haymaker that sends Cage flying!

Jessica Jones arrives on the scene to leap on her husband once he's landed. She desperately tries to reach the man she loves, but his words don't match his actions - an uppercut that sends the former Jewel flying through the air!

When the possessing entity fails to convince Thing and Iron Fist that it is the voice of their friend Luke Cage, the creature issues an ultimatum: Give him The Eye of Agamotto and he will return Cage. Ms. Marvel counters with an ultimatum of her own: leave Cage or she'll smash The Eye into a million pieces!

The spirit lunges at Ms. Marvel with Cage's gigantic arms outstretched, incidentally launching Thing and Hawkeye into the air. Marvel effortlessly avoids the attack and returns fire with a super-charged hit of her own!

Even though the possessed Cage eats a hard shot, he's still able to wrap a giant hand around Ms. Marvel! She loses her grip on The Eye, but Iron Fist makes the running play with Thing taking chase in the distance!

Sick of the demonic possession - Iron Fist turns and thrusts his mystically charged weapon-hand into Cage's gigantic chest!

Cage goes down hard and Thing jumps on top of him to make sure he stays down with a massive right cross! Jessica Jones and Ms. Marvel hover in support.

The recovered and healed Dr. Strange & Daimon Hellstrom follow Wolverine urgently to the battlefield! They arrive as Doctor Voodoo teleports onto the scene and the possessing demon leaves Luke Cage's body, transferring to the victorious Iron Fist! A revoltin' development as the fight comes to an end!

The Hammer...
Delivering a knock-out blow to a giant possessed Luke Cage probably made Iron Fist an attractive host for Agamotto! He disappears into the other realm of the Vishanti with the hero's body, just as Doctor Voodoo enters the scene -- the story to be continued!

It's an added detail that doesn't impact our result: The Avengers victorious against their possessed comrades!

The victory is shared with Wolverine, Thing, Ms. Marvel and Jessica Jones, who all contributed to the win in a pro-active manner. Mockingbird stopped to film the possession on somebody's phone, which I'm sure has tactical value. Hawkeye was there, but doing his best Where's Wally throughout. I genuinely wonder if Stuart Immonen forgot all about him while drawing the issue. It's almost comical when he appears floating in mid-air in the latter third of the issue. Spidey was on baby duty and generally loafed about, as well.

The line-up reflects a blended group mostly made from the street-level Secret Avengers who formed after Civil War. Ms. Marvel is the biggest trade from the more traditional "Mighty" Avengers. Thing was the most surprising addition, despite a similarly brief stint in the late 80s launch of West Coast Avengers.

We talked about the idea of "JLA-ing" the Avengers in our last entry, concluding that the original 2005 New Avengers line-up didn't really go there.

By the time this second volume was launched in 2010, there was much more credence to the idea of a non-traditional, all-star line-up of disparate pre-established acts. Spider-man, Thing, Wolverine, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Dr. Strange (who eventually made his stay permanent) are a very JLA arrangement.

Much like the JLA; the successful Avengers began to expand beyond their core team formulas. The "Heroic Age" relaunch maintained a brand-traditional Mighty Avengers, while also installing a third "Secret Avengers" title in the oddball hodgepodge mould of The Defenders.

In the years that followed The Heroic Age, the lines between Avengers groups would blur further. Famous hold-outs like Daredevil would join the team. Even the X-Men, who had a few unique ties through heroes like Beast and Quicksilver, would finally be more aggressively blended through the Uncanny Avengers!

The net result is what opponents of Avengers Disassembled and the original New Avengers were afraid of all along: The demise of identity and a tradition.

Thanks to the success of Marvel's blockbuster film franchises, "Avengers" has become synonymous with the company. Almost interchangeable with Marvel itself. Yet, ironically enough, it's the movies that have to date best represented the traditional flavour of The Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Vision, Hulk and so on.

In comics: It's now a lot easier to name characters who haven't been part of the monstrous Avengers uber brand. It's a muddying of the waters that's affecting many of Marvel's mainstay brands, extending to the dilution of individual characters who now share their identity with multiple alternate characters [see; Hero of the Week: Dr. Doom].

The traffic hasn't been exclusively one-way, though. Earlier this year, Marvel relaunched Power Man & Iron Fist for a new age, restoring the Heroes For Hire to their iconic buddy team roots away from The Avengers! The result is one of the more exciting, upbeat offerings reinvigorating the classics while also revamping them!

Luke Cage is also part of a reinvention of the Marvel identity on screen! September 30th marks the official launch of a thirteen episode live-action Netflix series! Mike Colter stars as the man with bulletproof skin, who we've been celebrating all throughout September on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

This celebration helped Luke Cage break into the Comic Book Fight Club Top 10 [see; Cage #3] at the expense of perennial favourite The Thing! The ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing fell to #11 as a result of Cage reaching #9 -- an unplanned result that made today's pre-scheduled feature fight all the more interesting!

Fans of the rankings will be excited to know Thing's shared victory returns him to the Top 10 just two weeks after he fell out! The defeat isn't enough to disrupt Luke Cage's spot at #9, though. Instead, it's Daredevil who will be shunted down from #10 to #11! Keep scrolling to the bottom of this update to see where all the characters finished in the ranks!

If you'd like to get the full experience of today's feature fight, use the Amazon link provided to purchase the collected edition! Doing so helps keep the wars infinite!

You can find more spotlights on Luke Cage, The Avengers and the individual characters by following character links, or diving into the Secret Issue Index! There you can browse battles by series, issue and publisher!

Stay tuned to Hero of the Week for a final spotlight on Luke Cage! Then be here in October as things start to get a little spooky for Halloween!

Winners: Iron Fist, Wolverine, Thing, Ms. Marvel & Jessica Jones
#4 (+2) Wolverine
#10 (+1) Thing
#30 (+10) Iron Fist
#76 (+53) Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
#92 (+197) Jessica Jones
#2 (--) Spider-man [+1 Assist]
#120 (-2) Hawkeye [+1 Assist]
#407 (+79) Mockingbird [+1 Assist]
#9 (--) Luke Cage
#65 (-2) Dr. Strange
#101 (-12) Son of Satan (Daimon Hellstrom)
#807 (new) Agamotto

No comments: