Universe X #4

Background

Set several decades in the future, Earth X told the story of a world where everyone has become an Inhuman and how a child named The Skull controls the masses of super powered beings for his own amusement. Unbeknownst to him, or anyone else save the watcher Uatu, this is all a part of a grand plan created by the Celestials to use the beings of Earth as protectors for the Celestial egg hidden deep beneath the surface. Rejecting the Watcher's plans for him, Machine Man works with Reed Richards to thwart the Celestial plan and Reed attempts to reverse the mutation of humanity by building several torches designed to rid the atmosphere of the Terrigen Mists.

Isaac Christians has been chronicling the prophesies of Kyle Richmond. Viewing the past, present, and future, the two work to record the events transpiring three years after the lighting of the first Human Torch which so far include the resurrection of the Invisible Woman and the journey of Captain America and the newly reborn Captain Mar-Vell to collect various artefacts of the Marvel Universe.

A group of individuals known as the Tong of Creel has assembled to collect the pieces of Absorbing Man (Crusher Creel) in order to rebuild the villain who had been shattered by Vision several years ago. Belasco has also been inadvertently awakened by Captain America and sent back in time from his prison in limbo.

Story Details

  Universe X #4
Summary: Peter Parker & Venom (May) Cameo
Editor: Mike Marts
Co-Plot/Cover: Alex Ross
Writer: Jim Krueger
Pencils: Doug Braithwaite
Inker: Bill Reinhold

The recap focuses on the Asgardians' first appearance on Earth as formless aliens. They're revealed to be shaped by a man named Odin, a Norse storyteller. The formless aliens were influenced by his will to become Asgard itself and all of its inhabitants. More than Odin's will sustained the illusion, the faith in the supernatural of the people of Earth also maintained that the aliens would believe in their respective roles. However, with faith in myths diminishing in the 20th century, Odin sends Thor to Earth as a champion to battle his brother Loki. The Avengers are formed shortly afterwards and villains created through Norse myths such as Absorbing Man maintain a level of belief in the supernatural.

Isaac receives a note from a man known only as Mr. Church, the book binder living below him. Apparently he is supplying him with Isaac's prophesies to remove the stony form he has been cursed with.

Captain America and Mar-Vell arrive in Japan to help Sunfire and his soldiers fight off the Tong of Creel and to collect the Orb of Agamotto. The Tong is repelled, but Johnny Blaze is killed in the attack. While in Sunfire's palace, Cap asks Reed about the death of the Avengers. Reed tells him the story of their last battle against Absorbing Man who had recently absorbed the knowledge of Ultron. Using his new intelligence to recall any matter he had previously absorbed he kills Hank Pym, Quicksilver, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Wasp. Vision phased into him to implant a computer virus and as Absorbing Man turned to stone to stop the spread of the virus, Vision shatters his body. The pieces of his body were scattered with various protectors to ensure he would never be able to reform. Before leaving, Cap and Mar-Vell learn that Dr. Strange's body was transported to Japan by Wong. Mar-Vell also notices a bird unchanged by the Terrigen Mists. As ever, Loki and Death follow the two towards their own ends.

In New York, Peter Parker and the NYPD thwart the church of Immortus as they attempt to extinguish the Human Torch. As Immortus flees, he is captured when he is unable to summon a portal to limbo.

Loki talks to Surtur and tells him the truth of his existence. He also tells him that even though he doesn't have to cause Ragnarok, it doesn't mean he shouldn't.

Cap and Mar-Vell travel to a Hyrda base to find that Rick Jones has been taken into their group. The lone Nega band he still wears no longer holds any trace of the Cosmic Consciousness present in the other objects Mar-Vell searches for. He suggests they leave, but Cap refuses to watch his friends stay within the clutches of Hyrda. Cap uses the weapon he received from a Space Knight in limbo in a battle against the possessed bodies of his fallen friends. The weapon sends their bodies to limbo, and when Cap turns it on the figure of Death itself, which still stalks them, it's destroyed. Cap vows to never allow Death to take another person again.

General Comments

Another solid issue moving at the usual fast pace. The art remains crisp and sharp and the writing is mostly entertaining. It was rather nice to be given a greater perspective on Mar-Vell's quest, and have the death of the Avengers is explained. Where a long conflict looked to be established with Immortus, the antagonists are recast with his apparent defeat.

As Captain America begins to unravel, the perspective of Death is reshaped in a more personified form. Rather than the entropic threat it is made out to be by Uatu, Death is taking her more familiar personified form. Though it's difficult to imagine Cap's words as much more than an enraged threat that takes no heed of reality, it's also important to remember that Death in the Marvel Universe was usually presented in the shape of a living being. Even though being fired upon had no effect on her, it is conceivable that Cap could bring about her defeat. If there's anyone in the Marvel Universe with the will to do it, it's him.

The question of Loki's role is also interesting. His motivations remain a mystery, but at the very least, he appears to wish the freedom of his fellow formless aliens who had been shaped by Odin. He's one of the few beings in the story whose will can be thought of as his own, no longer tethered to the role given to him by Odin or to some grand Celestial plan. However, his actions are still in reaction to those around him, so can his will truly be considered free?

Overall Rating

Things seem to be speeding up and more of the mystery is revealed. The next issue will hopefully maintain the pace.