Post by Marvel Boy on Dec 20, 2015 12:14:13 GMT -5
Marvel is shifting gears somewhat next year when we will see a group-line crossover event throughout the Avengers group of titles (as well as a similar event in the X-line). Entitled Standoff, the event focuses on the mysterious community of Pleasant Hill, where the various teams of Avengers are drawn and where secrets about their allies will be exposed. It's also meant to be part of the 75th celebration anniversary of Captain America (which occurs next year).
Post by Marvel Boy on Feb 21, 2016 18:57:25 GMT -5
Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1...
...I really can't say too much about the opening solo to this event without spoiling it. Suffice to say, the Pleasant Hill community is one with a dark secret engineered by Maria Hill and SHIELD (via the possible usage of Cosmic Cube fragments). That secret may about to be undone as some of the residents learn the truth of their real identities. Maybe it's because I avoided previews and spoilers and such before this, but kudos to the creators, the last page has a reveal that is a really good twist, I did not see that coming at all.
.......I'm giving you the choice to opt out of this if you don't want spoilers.... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LAST CHANCE! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alright then!
As with the opening solo shot, Bucky is investigating a secretive SHIELD program that purported to use fragments of various Cosmic Cubes to rearrange reality into a more orderly form. With the help of a mysterious hacker known as The Whisperer, FalconCap helped to expose this program to the public. As the head of the Civilian Oversight committee for SHIELD, Steve watched as Maria Hill, as part of an apology public tour, destroyed the fragments.
Except she didn't.
She simply changed the focus of the program from large scale to small scale.
This is where Pleasant Hill comes into play. Pleasant Hill was set up as the idyllic perfect American hometown, with good neighbors, vibrant shops and streets, and NO CRIME. It's also a prison for some of the worst super-villains around.
Y'see, the various Cube fragments did something unexpected but natural for the fragements, they merged, forming a new consciousness. However, because the fragments came from different Cubes that were used for differing purposes, the new consciousness was divided. It assumed a form most representative of it's confused state, that of a small girl which SHIELD later named Kubik.
When a recently captured super-villain is brought before Kubik, she 'sees' the inherent goodness inside all people and reasserts that goodness within the villain, altering their nature and identity. The newly reformed villain is then given a new life and identity in Pleasant Hill, a solution that Hill sees as beneficial to all.
But things begin coming undone when an accident involving the Fixer (of the Thunderbolts) restores his previous memories. He then begins a clandestine operation in restoring the memories of the other townspeople. He hits the jackpot with the newest inmate who turns out be Baron Zemo!
Meanwhile, The Whisperer and Bucky both realize that Hill never shut down the secret program. They don't know what she's doing, but they know where she's doing it. Steve Rogers has been chasing after Bucky, who in learning these secrets has attacked several SHIELD bases. Afraid of why Bucky is doing what's he doing, Steve eventually meets up with Bucky, who explains his theory about the program.
FalconCap learns of the secret too when the Whisperer wants to meet him in person to tell him. Sam is surprised to learn the Whisperer is actually Rick Jones! Both men turn Steve and Sam onto Pleasant Hill.
Sam calls in his Avengers team on his way to investigate the town. Forcing the issue, Hill takes Steve to Pleasant Hill, showing him all the work they've accomplished. Naturally, Steve thinks this is an abomination, worse forcing a little girl into being their unwitting cosmic weapon. But Steve's arrival in town gives Zemo and his forces (which now includes other former Thunderbolts Moonstone and the Trapster) the opportunity to escape. Nitro blows up City Hall (with Hill and Steve inside) as the villains start to riot. Steve calls in the Unity Squad and Zemo and his gang enter the shattered remains of City Hall.....
I'm not the biggest Hill fan, but I like her sass and attitude here as she tells Steve about the town. It's as if she's pleased to have been caught doing something that she feels the Director of SHIELD should be doing. Of course, she thinks all will be fine and it literally blows up in her face.
This would seemingly be one of the causes behind the upcoming revival of the original Thunderbolts line-up. It's great seeing Rick Jones again and the reasoning behind his newly acquired hacking skills (and how that ties all the way back to how he helped found the Avengers) was a nice touch.
So far, this event is turning out to be better than I first thought.
Post by humanbelly on Mar 10, 2016 14:18:47 GMT -5
I meant to touch base with you on this earlier, Marv--
Given the fact that I don't intend to start buying comics again, that the MU is forever lost to me, that I'm disaffected, yadda-yadda-yadda. . . I do have to say that this is the first arc I've heard you summarize (which you do a fine job of, btw) that felt very nearly "right" to me in terms of the scale or scope that I've always liked best. Or at least that echoes as being "my old" Marvel, y'know? It's not a huge multi-versal, reality-overwriting, 250-interlocking-part mega/ultra event-- but a respectably hefty story based on existing and on-going situations and characters. It is of the Marvel Universe, it isn't defining the Marvel Universe.
In fact, from your description, the one element that makes me roll my eyes and shake my head is the (IMO) truly unnecessary intrusion of "Cosmic" elements in the form of the Cosmic Cube and Kubik. Is there just a standing rule that every story has to have an obligatory COSMIC aspect to it-- or else whatever readers remain won't pick up the book? It seems like it's just a deus ex machina trick to magically get the plot where the writer wants it. But honestly, I'd much more easily accept (and prefer) an explanation grounded in goofy comic book science (Squadron Supreme's mind-fixing chair/process, say), than yet another solution that relies on believing in forces Beyond The Understanding of Mere Mortals, razza-razza-razza. . .
That aside, though-- I do like the ethical questions alongside the whole buncha interesting characters involved that you've described.
Standoff Omega #1....... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .....finds our two teams (the Unity Squad and Tony's Avengers) still trapped within Pleasant Hill. The fragments of the Cosmic Cube, the little girl Kubik, had done the same thing to our heroes that she did for all the villains imprisoned there, altered their memories and rewriting their lives into something else more normal.
In their individual titles tie-ins, we see how our heroes overcame this new diversion. Rogue, with her training and experience was the first to realize what was wrong and managed to help cure some of the others. With their memories restored but not their inherent powers, they were planning their next move when they were attacked by the revolting prisoners. Unable to truly fight back, some of them were being killed when Kubik, scared and upset over why they would be resistant to what she saw as a good change, arrived on-scene.
With help from Deadpool no less, Kubik learns the error of what's she done at the behest of SHIELD. She then reverts (and in some instances, restores) our heroes back to their true selves and flees. Our heroes repel the villains when they hear the rallying call of a newly revitalized Steve Rogers.
For it seems that in Kubik's change to Steve, she revitalized him (and frankly, now resembles Chris Evans a tad more too). With Sam and Bucky in tow, Steve rallies both groups together to rescue the hostages that Baron Zemo still holds and put down this criminal revolt and town.
Meanwhile, Zemo has had Kraven the Hunter tracking down Kubik, seeking to imprison her and use her power to his own end. Kraven succeeds, using the ploy of a birthday party no less in helping trap her. (Seriously, I never thought I would ever see Kraven wearing a birthday party hat). Bringing her back to Town Hall, Zemo attempts to revert her back into her true form of the a Cube.
With deft use of their abilities, the Avengers manage to rescue all the hostages from Zemo before launching their assault against the villains. Things appear to be going good when Graviton creates a massive shield to protect Zemo's inner core group as the transformation of Kubik is almost complete. Despairing of Zemo having access to such power, the Avengers feel they are incapable of breaking through Graviton's shield in time. The situation looks hopeless.
Meanwhile, SHIELD agent Avril Kincaid is searching through the public library of Pleasant Hill for an item that she's heard is being stored there (For it seems, SHIELD has also been using the town as a storehouse for some dangerous and powerful weapons & items as well). She encounters the head librarian who is willing to help her locate this item. She's shocked to realize that she doesn't know the true identity of the librarian. The librarian admits to her that as far as he knows, he's the only willing citizen of the town, having agreed to getting a new life from Maria Hill. He wanted to retire to a quiet life to reflect on his life and actions. As he retrieves this item, the librarian turns to Avril, revealing himself as Wendell Vaughn...and what he's holding for her are the Quantum Bands.
Things look even bleaker for the Avengers when a new hero arrives on scene that no one recognizes, it's Avril as the new Quasar. Still untested, she uses the Bands to luckily break through Graviton's shield. Our heroes renew their assault in time to see that Kubik has reasserted herself. Angry and distraught over how she's been manipulated, she teleports Zemo away. The rest of the remaining villains, seeing that the day is lost, make a run for it only to be caught up in SHIELD's heavy reinforcements.
The villains have been recaptured, Pleasant Hill has been closed yet Kubik has disappeared. But she hasn't gone far. The original members of the Thunderbolts have piqued her interest and she helped them to elude SHIELD recapture. Then, she approaches Bucky about helping them and herself to be better people.
Meanwhile, Steve and Sam agree to share the name of Captain America. Steve tracks down Rick Jones for he has a job for him. The World Security Council meet with Maria Hill over this whole fiasco. While she contends that this wasn't as bad as it could have been, the Council disagrees and basically put on a leash on her authority and power. She argues that this isn't the time for such tactics as they are unaware of the real dangers starting to emerge.
Switch to a scene somewhere in middle America as Sin and Crossbones discuss the future with the Red Skull who now seeks to rebuild a new HYDRA as a homegrown terrorist organization.
Throughout this, we hear Avril's inner monologue about the joy and wonder of seeing and working with the Avengers, the world's greatest heroes. She warns though that this time of cooperation and joy is just the calm before the storm as Civil War II is about to start and new lines will be drawn between our heroes....