Well, after the events of last issue things can either go good, or they can go pear-shaped. Which happens now? Read my review of Avengers Undercover #9 and find out.
The comic picks up where it last left off, with the Avengers flying towards Bagalia and into Zemo’s trap. Ax-Bro, on the other hand, just finished his flight as Cullen’s Soul Beast beats him like a drum. Hellstrom tells him to just stay down since he’s just putting them in their place and they were pawns who don’t need to die for this to work. Ax-Bro, however, doesn’t care about living so long as he saves Cullen.
Hazmat and Nico show up to hold off Hellstrom while Ax-Bro manages to snap Cullen out of it, which earns him a kiss he wasn’t expecting. The Avengers show up about now and back the kids while Hellstrom calls in his own backup and soon we have a free-for-all. Or at least it looked that way until Zemo gives the word and Hellstrom teleports the bad guys out and seals the entrance to Bagalia, trapping them inside as Alex then returns to Hell.
Zemo pretty much takes the Helicarrier they bought with them by killing everyone on-board. He then has Deathlocket hack the ship and take control of it. They intend to go even further, but as the comic ends we see that Cammi has escaped her prison and is on-board as well.
Okay, review time.
I’m kinda disappointed with how this ended up. For starters, even though covers always lie, I wanted to see Zemo and Ant-Man at least attempting to go at it. Alex went back to Hell, which he shouldn’t have been in for starters by Canon, and Chase is a vegetable, which leaves Nico as the only Runaway in the story and they’re shilling that she’s leveled up but we didn’t see any of that beyond a single spell and hit-and-run. This was unsatisfying overall, but it is a major part of the plot.
3 out of 5.
We skip ahead three months later in issue #8 of Avengers Undercover. Who’s going native in the arc? Read below to find out!
The comic begins with a couple of panels of the Masters of Evil screwing over SHIELD while Hazmat is working alongside Ax-Bro and Madam Masque to basically get Sabertooth and Mystique’s attention in Madripoor. She’s striking up a deal for them while the kids get to talking about everything and then kissing one another. Well, both lost their lovers so I shouldn’t be surprised they’d hook up, but afterwards Hazmat calls up Hank Pym and apparently set things in motion.
When Hazmat goes to talk to Death Locket about it, who has basically done an evil makeover, she reveals that she’s playing for the other team now. Ax-Bro goes to talk to Cullen about it, but Damien seems to have him under mind-control at this point and sics him on the ax-less Celtic god.
Hazmat tries to tell Death Locket to pull herself together, but she’s having none of it since they’re her friends while she’s some stranger that tried to blow her up. Hazmat then decides to cut her losses and leave, giving shovel-boy a shot in the groin and stealing his magic shovel, before Death Locket tries to stop her. Hazmat pretty quickly takes her down, stating that she never did teach her how to fight.
Nico then wakes up because of all the noise to see Cullen trying to eat Ax-Bro and wonders what he’s doing. Alex, who isn’t wearing a shirt, points out that Damien is controlling him and that Zemo is springing his trap. When she asks what that is, he points out that they were never part of the game, but were bait to lure in the heroes as Zemo watches them arrive while the comic ends.
Okay, review time….
Let’s start with the fact that the art is worse than before. But at least the plot is moving. We see how everyone is acting, with Chase being referenced to being a coma (damn it) and Cammi is still in her cell. Cullen, well we had hints to him being controlled earlier, but Death Locket was somewhat of a shock. Points for that one.
It gets a 4 out of 5.
Okay, time to see who joins the bad guy in Issue #5 of Avengers Undercover!
The issue picks up right after Zemo’s offer to join him and the other villains. Since this is a big decision he decides to wait until breakfast for them to decide whether they are in or out, letting his captains show them around the city. Constrictor takes Chase and Deathlocket, Daimon takes Cullen and Nico, and the rest go with Madame Masque.
Nico and Cullen go to Hell Town, where dark wizards and monsters live in four blocks of Hellstrom Manor. There Cullen shows that Daimon summoned a cage of hellfire to help him release the soul demon bonded with him. While there Daimon tells her to stop beating herself up over trying to kill him because they all understand she was just trying to protect her own and states that she’s wallowing in misery while he’s stopped pretending he’s not a monster.
At Constrictor’s Snake Pit…really, that’s what it’s called? No creativity. Anyway, Chase is having a blast playing Basketball while Excavator explains that he and his friends mostly do simple work, destroying stuff for an hour and then spending the rest of the time doing whatever they want. Deathlocket finds this dumb, but thinks she needs some dumb in her life.
Madame Masque doesn’t take her kids far. She basically tells them that Hazmat, Cammi, and Axbro were natural leaders, which meant they can live like her and get anything they wanted. She doesn’t try very hard to convince them to take the offer since they seem smart enough to realize they’ve been offered the world on a gold plate. The three realize that they’re being played, but the options are limited to join the bad guys or go to jail, but Hazmat states who heroes go nuts all the time and avoid prison (except for Cyclops apparently) so if they did something to make them heroes again they could get away.
Nico, on the other end, gets involved in some Demon MMA and finds it cathartic. Then a demon hits her and she goes nuts on it and beats it senseless with her witch-arm until she snaps out of it and flees. Daimon chases after her and, after she fears she’s become no better than her parents, he resurrects her ex-boyfriend Alex Wilder…who should be wearing all white and be in limbo. I have mixed feelings about this.
They all meet up again, except for Deathlocket being smitten with Excavator and Cullen, who has already gone evil, and the leadership trio tell Chase and Nico their plan about going undercover to get their hero credit back. Obviously they haven’t thought this out well, and Chase complains he never wanted to go down there in the beginning, Cammi tells him they are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and to pick.
At breakfast Zemo gets his answer. They all are in, except Cammi who leaves to go take care of her mother. Zemo says they should respect that her decision was to leave, but she gets taken down by Constrictor as the comic ends.
Okay review time.
So this is where they decided to go Undercover. It’s… going to end badly. Hero or not, the world already sees them as damaged goods so this won’t get them out of jail either way, so this will fail in the end.
Admittedly we could see they were being played, but they really didn’t have a choice. Cammi was offered up for that reason, to show what would have happened otherwise. Still, at least we’ve reached the starting line and I can’t wait to see where it goes, so 5 out of 5.
In the last issue of Avengers Undercover Hazmat claimed revenge for Mettle by frying Arcade to death. This issue deals with the fallout of cold-blooded murder when you don’t have ties to the Avengers despite the name to bank off the movie that was released. This is my review of Avengers Undercover #3.
The story picks up where we left off, with the kids standing over Arcade’s remains. Well, the dust from his bones anyway. Cammi, being savvy enough to realize that Arcade was an ego-maniac and was probably filming their rematch, asks Deathlocket if she managed to get the extra cameras no doubt hidden around. When she states she probably didn’t it was safe to say it was time to go.
Ax-bro asks if Hazmat is alright as they flee and she states she snapped but she’s well enough so they can fight their way out through the corpses and other murder-addicted clients. Cullen doesn’t see why they need to rush, but Cammi states they violated several laws including watching as Hazmat put him down, which counts as pre-meditated murder even if only one of them did it. And Chase is slightly more jerkass-ish, but that character assassination is par the course since Avenger Arena and sadly I’ve gotten used to it.
Needless to say Cammi is right since SHIELD, who couldn’t find Arcade any other time to this point, manages to drop in right when they are about to escape. And suddenly they’re able to take down Cullen when he just went through wiping out their Brazil base and Nico? Come on.
Hours later they’re all in a containment facility where their friends and family are visiting, except for Deathlocket’s anyway. Ax-bro gets a lecture from his old man, Cullen and his sister argue, Stryker and Finesse visit Hazmat, Molly is blaming Nico for all of this to Chase while Karolina is greeting Nico. Where the hell is Victor and Old Lace in this? I get they probably couldn’t sneak the dinosaur on-board, but what’s the grandson of Hank Pym’s excuse for not seeing his ex-girlfriend in lock-up other than trying to get him to flash his Avengers card and give them the option of going to Avengers Academy or prison?
The above panels are mere bubbles while the meat of the dialogue is between Cammi and her mother. Her mother doesn’t blame them, like me she believes Arcade had it coming and is willing to fight tooth and nail to get her out. Cammi doesn’t want her to and just wants her to focus on taking care of herself, but her mother sees Cammi as the only thing in her life worth something and she’s not letting anyone take her away. Truly, the most heart-warming moment in this issue…
Of course then SHIELD proves to be incompetent and Daimon warps them all out in like three seconds flat. There’s the incompetence I remember. The son of Satan escorts them to Tower Zemo, where the more savvy of the kids note all this seemed planned out while Ax-Bro once again asks Hazmat if she’s hanging in there while Nico chats with Daimon on spell-working until they reach the banquet hall.
Zemo is there and basically states they live in a world where the average joe can live how he likes but people with powers need to ether cover it up or play heroes, not for personal gain. Now, I want to say he’s wrong. But technically speaking I can’t, because in almost every superhero story you read someone looking out for themselves with their powers will either be called out on it, turned into a villain, or seem like a selfish jerk.
For example Spider-man let a robber go past him once because he wasn’t a cop and thus not obligated, yet Uncle Ben dies to teach him a ‘lesson’ about with great power and responsibility. Come on, the chances of that happening were slim to none if they didn’t want to push him into being a hero. That’s part of the reason I liked Otto and Kaine more than Peter at present and I hope when they introduce Silk into Amazing Spider-Man.
…Okay, I didn’t mean to but that sounded like a plug…
Anyway, the kids tell him to skip straight to the point. He states he’s not asking them to do evil, but they have potential that can’t be realized in the normal world (again, he has a point) and asks that they join them as the comic ends.
Okay, review time.
First off since when is SHIELD competent enough to have a sorcery division? Even if Zemo somehow set it up, and I’m not doubting it, that seems both bullshit and contrived at best. Don’t they have someone else’s lives to fuck up?
Next, it really seems like they’re trying to push Axbro and Hazmat together with all this concern he’s showing her. I get someone needs to play mediator and councilor, but they could have just as easily have had Deathlocket ask her. Please, please, don’t force it Marvel. If it happens, it happens, but don’t force it until we feel like we’re being strangled with the red string.
Last is the recruitment offer at the end. In my opinion, if the title didn’t spoil the whole premise of the book, I can see Hazmat, Cullen, and Deathlocket agreeing off-hand. Hazmat’s stint in Avengers Academy was because she was a potential villain and she wasn’t all that close to her parents before all this so she has no real strong ties left, Deathlocket was accepted there with ease rather than being in a SHIELD lab and she doesn’t seem to have any family while Cullen’s already made his case.
Ax-bro would probably go to keep an eye on Hazmat and Cullen, but Nico, Chase, and Cammi are not as likely. Nico and Chase rebelled against their parents because they were criminals, but they’ve lost their loved ones and Chase did go somewhat villainous after Gert died. If the solicits about Alex Wilder coming back is true, then him and Gert are incentives to join up.
Cammi is the token good-teammate. She’s obviously going to have to be pushed into it. She and Ax-bro are probably the ones who consider this undercover thing in the first place.
Someone dies tonight in Issue #3 of Avengers Undercover and read my thoughts on it in this review.
Our story begins with Baron Zemo in the company of the Masters of Evil, watching the seven Murderworld survivors come face-to-face with Arcade via magic. He’s confident he knows how this is going to go down. After all, he can see it in their faces how Arcade is the embodiment of their torment, the one who brought out the worst of them and then put it online for the world to see.
He has a point as Arcade tells the people who gathered there to start the festivities and things go to pieces. Hazmat goes blank and has to be saved by Ax-Bro while Cullen explains that Arcade can’t pull the same shit as before because heroes tend to get a little more than pissed off when you force their trainees into his games, so he has a bunch of rich guys pay him for a chance to do their own Murderworld impression. Cammi is not amused because Cullen dragged them into it, but Nico is all for it considering she actually died because of that bastard. And when you consider that she usually inflicted a fate worse than death on people who deserve it like Gert’s parents before she tried playing hero and died for it, you can damn well guess he’s not getting out of this alive.
Chase only now realizes she’s messed up as Arcade pops up to face against him, Ax-Bro, and Cammi while Deathlocket, Cullen, and Nico go on a rampage to shut his system down. They all pretty much admit they’re messed up as they face off against Arcade and Miss Coriander, his hyper-competent assistant, and it goes poorly. Arcade himself feels unhappy despite tossing his three around because now that he’s won he’s not sure where to go from there, while his assistant has her three tied up but didn’t account for Deathlocket’s new upgrades and they turn the tables on him.
Everyone takes a crack at the man, but none of them goes for the kill. He notes this by saying that they’re all heroes and can’t finish the job, but Hazmat disagrees as she copies what he did to Mettle verbatim and then kills him. The story ends with the Masters of Evil cheering and saying things are going just as planned.
Okay, Review Time.
Well, Karma’s a Bitch. It’s telling that even the Masters of Evil found Arcade so distasteful they set him up to be killed to get their hands on seven potential villains in the making. He had it coming.
As for the survivors, we see more of the cracks in their personalities. Maybe Nico and Cammi still had some issues to work out from their last battle, but this is the second time she’s resorted straight to violence in attacking people she knows when it comes to bringing up Arcade and Murderworld. When you consider how much crap she’s been through in her own series and Arena, I honestly thought she was going to be the one to finish him off.
But Hazmat deserved it more. She was always a little spitfire and had been in love, only for it to be ripped away the night after she consummated her love. She broke down in Arena once and was mocked for it by nerds, only to come face-to-face with the one responsible and completely shut down. Whether or not this signifies her turn to the dark side I can’t say, but she got revenge for Mettle.
This issue gets a 4 out of 5.
Avengers Undercover continues where it left off in the second issue and I’m going to give you my biased opinion as I review it.
The issue opens with the group floating above the entrance to Bagalia and Chase having second thoughts. These thoughts are made more vocal as they go down the rabbit hole and into an underground city. When they get spotted by a bunch of D-rank teen villains, naturally, fighting ensues.
During this little skirmish Nico and Chase argue about the fact that he claims to be there because he considers Nico family and needs him, while she claims he came because she made him despite being the “less” broken of the group and not out of loyalty. It hurts me seeing this because after everything they went through in their own series they’ve gone back to not trusting each other. The rest of the group deals with their enemies in short order, with Death Locket finishing things with her gun arm. As they leave, two of the Masters of Evil muse on their skills and decide they want them.
The group traces Cullen to a club and Anachronism breaks in to rescue him, only to come face-to-face with at least a hundred villains. Luckily Cullen diffuses the situation and explains that he isn’t there against his will. He’s there because they accept him for how he is, no shame or fear or pity.
Hazmat drags Anachronism onto the dance floor and tries to comfort him, stating they need to blend in and stay there as long as it takes to bring him back. Chase runs into two hot women who play paper-scissors-rock for him and decides to chat them up, while Nico tries to convince Cullen they should go back and fails since he states that he’s “a cold-blooded weapons expert who hates people and periodically transforms into a ten ton indestructible man-eating soul beast” and he was always going to be a villain.
The son of Satan, Daimon Hellstrom, notes that Nico is trying so hard to turn him because she feels shame for trying to kill him near the end of Arcade’s Murderworld and states no one is forcing him into trouble. So that means he destroy that SHIELD outpost on his own accord, which is equally worrying. Daimon also shows he’s been helping Cullen control his soul beast and he offers to help teach her a thing or two about black magic without following in any footsteps. Even Death Locket is being charmed by Excavator, who I recall Molly Hayes of the Runaways knocked him sensesless during the beginning of their second series.
In the end only Cammi remains untempted by the offering of the villains and drags them all out four hours later, shaming them by stating she didn’t leave her mom home alone to chaperone them and that they’re going home. Needless to say Masque and Constrictor love her spunk when she tears Cullen a new one afterward, but Cullen has Daimon transport them all to where Arcade’s ass is as the comic ends. Vengeance is coming.
Okay, review time.
I loved it, plain and simple. I was expecting the group to go in and get their asses kicked and coerced into joining the villains, but then we see all this chemistry between them and wonder if they might actually fit in better. I mean, let’s face it, you can’t blame the villains for wanting these guys.
Have you seen what they can do? Nico works with black magic, Cullen has a monster form, Death Locket has nanotech that forms weaponry, Hazmat is a poisonous person who learns to make anti-matter in the future, Anachronism is your muscle guy, Cammi is just badass, Chase…well, he’s a good driver and has those gloves I suppose. They were all villains in the making if things took a really bad turn, so it makes sense they fit in.
That being said, I feel that Chase being a flirt is in poor taste considering what happened to Gert and how he damn near committed suicide. Last time I checked he was still grieving. And where the Hell is Old Lace? Not to mention both he and Nico turned against their parents for being villains, so this is a step backwards.
Leaving aside those issues though, I found this to be a perfect issue and give it a solid 5 out of 5.
The sequel to the base-breaking Avengers Arena is now out and I’m here to review it. While I originally only got into the previous series because I was a Runaways fan, I feel compelled to let you know how this Avengers-in-name-only story goes and my thoughts on it as we see the aftermath of Arcade’s Murder-world three months later.
It starts with Hazmat watching a news report on the footage Arcade released from a diner, where three friends are sitting down and talking about their favorites. One of them finds Chase to be a wuss, waiting for Nico to tell him what to do and getting his ass-kicked by little girls, while the other sees him as a loyal hottie. The third, however, proceeds to talk trash about Hazmat’s breakdown and causes her to scare him by using her powers. It turns out after her meltdown she managed to gain control over them.
We then skip over to Chase giving an interview on television, with him apparently being a celebrity and having a book deal about his time during the events of Murder-world since he’s the most outspoken of the entire thing. He states that while the others are fighting it he sees it as pointless and is more focused on getting what he can out of it. While cold, it seems to be his way of adjusting to everything.
It’s then Nico shows up and they have a minor spat on-camera over him breaking his pact. Chase implies that she’s suffered the most from it, with her even missing Molly’s birthday. Considering that she’s the most mothering of the group, of which Karolina, Molly, and Victor are watching from their home, that’s saying something. She grabs Chase and teleports him elsewhere with a spell after that.
Deathlocket, meanwhile, is apparently being seen to by SHIELD technicians. Her cybernetics seemed to be evolving, but she’s not exactly in full control as she materializes a weapon when one man claims to be a fan of hers. She points out that she had to shoot her best friend in the head, she set a kid on fire, and she had to watch Tim die, before storming out to go someplace else.
Cammi, on the other hand, is attending a recovering alcoholics meeting with her mother to give her support. Her mother had it bad, losing three homes and nine jobs, only hitting rock-bottom after seeing what they said on the news about Cammi being forced to participate in Murder-world. While things between them seemed to be better, Cammi tells her she has to leave in order to go somewhere else and apologizes before she does so.
We then go to a recording of Cullen, who apparently got a plasma cannon for his sixth birthday called Brimstone. He then uses it to burn down Arcade’s home. Unfortunately he wasn’t there, much to Cullen’s rage as he smashes the camera. It then skips to Aiden meeting with Cammi and the others at Bloodstone Manor.
He explains that Cullen basically snapped, leaving school one morning only for Aiden to show up at his place three months later. Cullen’s room is lined with information about the Masters of Evil and Arcade, as well as places he might be and so on, showing he’s gone off the deep end. His latest recording three weeks ago show him going to the city of Bagalia to kill Arcade, to which the others are concerned with the exception being Chase (who pretty much is all for him killing Arcade after what he put them through).
Unfortunately, right after Chase jinxes it by saying what could go wrong we see that Cullen’s monster form on a rampage in Brazil and attacking a SHIELD R & D facility. It seems like one of the Masters of Evil, the son of Satan, managed to gain control over him. Without knowing any of this, the group decides to go and check on him, ending the comic.
Okay, review time.
Well, I’ve been waiting for this one and, while not disappointed, I’ve got to say it could have been a bit better. While they gave us a brief look into what the survivors have been up to, I wasn’t nearly satisfied with the brief panel appearance of the rest of the Runaways without Klara. But the biggest issues were Chase and Nico.
Chase came from an abusive home and was so good at hiding it that no one suspected it until it was brought up between him and Nico. Now you have him giving interviews and crap, getting rich off of it. That’s really out of character for him, especially when you consider than after Gert’s death he really matured.
And Nico outright hitting him was overly aggressive for her. Don’t get me wrong, the girl is quick to draw when it comes to the staff, but only when defending her charges. Unless that’s a side-effect of being raised from the dead, which can be counted as justifiable, then it’s out of character for her.
The others were pretty well done, coping in one way or another, although Cullen seems to be the one who suffered the most mental unbalance and completely snapped. What I really want to see is the adults who fucked up and how they’re dealing with this, starting with when Juston’s family finding out about the LMD sent to replace him and how it weighs on Hank Pym combined with Mettle’s death. But I can be patient for the time being…
Anyway, overall it gets a 4 out of 5 and a solid recommendation. I will be following it along.