Some time ago, Nathaniel Richards flees from the 30th century to seek help from turning into Kang the Conqueror from the Avengers. Arriving at the destroyed Avengers Mansion, he finds that they have disassembled after a crisis involving the Scarlet Witch. Reprogramming his 30th century tech with the remnants of the android Vision, he dons the mantle of Iron Lad and brings together a group of super-powered teens with ties to the Avengers legacy. They kick ass through all the major Marvel events (Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, Siege) as the Young Avengers. The team includes grandson of the first Captain America,the daughter of the second Ant-Man, an ass-kicking ex-socialite, a troublesome speedster, the half-Skrull half-Kree son of Captain Marvel, and his boyfriend Wiccan who is believed to be the son of the Scarlet Witch.
When Wiccan's powers begin to mirror the dangerous levels of the Scarlet Witch, the Avengers decide to intervene and quarantine him. His team breaks him out and set out on a quest to find the Scarlet Witch, joined by her father Magneto and brother Quicksilver. Their journey takes them to Latveria where Doctor Doom has kept her and plans to marry her. Once Wanda regains her memory, she sets to right the wrongs she's done by restoring the powers of all the thousands of mutants she depowered. The Avengers (joined by the X-Men) arrive to contain the Scarlet Witch and Wiccan. In an effort to restore the powers of the depowered mutants before they can be stopped, Wiccan and Scarlet Witch join in a spell that is interrupted by Patriot's shield. In the interruption, all the pure power sent out by Scarlet Witch and Wiccan are transferred to Doom. Now all the teams must fight to keep Doom from remaking the world in his image. They are successful, but not without cost...
Just a heads up: this review is full of spoilers and bias. The issue opens with the close of the battle. Stature is dead after brawling with Doom when she thinks he's (re)killed her father. In an argument over the ethics of returning to the timestream to save Stature, Iron Lad kills the Vision and returns to timejumping, more bitter than ever, the seeds of becoming Kang the Conqueror deeply planted. The fate of the Scarlet Witch hangs in the balance, with Cyclops of the X-Men looking for justice and restitution. With the ultimate blame of the corruption of Scarlet Witch's power falling on Doom, the Avengers and X-Men retreat, leaving Wanda to pick up the pieces of her life and some ominous foreshadowing for AvX.
With two of their team members dead and their founder raging through the timestream, the Young Avengers are left to question their place in the world. Feeling guilty that he caused the transfer of power to Doom, which incited the battle that killed Stature, Patriot decides to hang up his shield and move to Arizona. (Hawkeye) Kate feels that since her best friend is dead and she has superpowers or real ties to the Avengers, she should hang up her bow as well. Much too everyone's surprise, Wiccan is ready to call it quits also. With the heart of the team not willing to move on, the Young Avengers disassemble.
Time passes. The ex-heroes watches on the sidelines as Manhattan gets infested with spider people, Sentinels are deployed for a world-wide mutant crackdown and the Human Torch returns to life. All the while, Billy (Wiccan) mopes. His boyfriend Teddy (Hulkling) and tries to shake him out of it. The resulting page has to be seen to believe. Probably the most romantic thing I've ever seen in a comic. Ever. Totally teared up. (To see this moment full size, right click the image below in Safari or Chrome and "open in new tab")
And the end? Well, let's just say you have to buy it to see what's in store for my favorite team. The end could possibly a huge beginning for a lot of them separately. It is a story that I've felt very passionate about over the last couple of years and while a fitting epilogue to one of the best teams ever written, it is very bittersweet. I am very sad to see my favorite team end and am very thankful for Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung for giving us years of this great story.
After many attempts at holding a day job, Peter Parker has finally found employment at Horizon Labs, where he is one of seven geniuses working on projects whenever they want. This gives him time to be a part of the Avengers, New Avengers and Future Foundation (FF) replacing Johnny Storm (Human Torch) upon his death in the Negative Zone that disolved the Fantastic Four. EXCEPTJohnny is back! (If you want the expanded science of how, click here) and with all the adventuring Spidey and Torch have had in the weeks after Johnny's return, they have yet to find time for a bromantic getaway.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #680
Written by Dan Slott & Christopher Yost
Pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli, cover by Humberto Ramos
The minds at Horizon Labs are monitoring the progress of a new space station which includes (hizzoner) J. Jonah Jameson's son John (John). Things go awry and when communication is abruptly cut off, Peter Parker hightails it over to the Baxter Building to borrow a Fantastic Four rocket and investigate on his own. Hoping to find (one of the greatest living minds) Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) he instead finds his (superhero) best friend Johnny Storm, rocking out in his undies a la Risky Business (to a viral pop song I thought I'd finally gotten out of my head) with 700 hours of reality TV on the background. Reluctantly recruiting Johnny for an awesomely bromantic road trip rescue mission, hijinks, ass-kicking, and hilarity ensues. This has got to be the single best issue I've read so far this year. Period. I have loved almost everything that Dan Slott has done with his run of ASM, but partnered with writer Christopher Yost, this issue is the perfect balance of plot, adventure and comedy. They have completely captured the playful competition and fraternal bromoeroticism of the Peter/Johnny relationship and built on it in a way no writer yet has. You really see why they're a perfect fit. Johnny's cool confidence comes off as arrogance if it isn't bounced off of Spidey's hapless quips. And Spidey's quips are just plain quippier with Johnny as the straight-man-in-on-the-joke. Throw in some exceptionally awesome geek references (at one point, in a one breath recap of what Johnny's missed on TV since he's been dead, Spidey kills it with the last line "...and they're STILL on Hershell's farm!") and you've got an issue that transcends classic and nouveau. The subtle nuances where they sneak in "I missed you while you/I was dead" between laughs just develops their relationship further and I'm very excited to see where it goes. Great job all around!
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. Also on this week's pull-list are Ultimate X-Men #8 and New Avengers #22. If you'd like to run into him on new book Wednesday, you will find him engaged in some awesome counter banter with Eric, Ralph and Caitlin at Chicago Comics. Other great Chicago shops to get your books are Challengers, Third Coast, and Evil Squirrel. If you want any other book/shop recommendations, leave a comment below or tweet away.
circuit party (noun) A large, gay dance party. Since each circuit party occurs on a specific weekend and in a specific city once a year, and there are many parties on "the circuit", travel and planning are required. Travelling from party to party becomes part of a circuit boy's lifestyle of travel, networking and partying.
comic con (noun) a convention featuring comic books, games, arts, movies, and various pop culture. Since each con occurs on a specific weekend and in a specific city once a year, and there are many cons on throughout the year, travel and planning are required. Travelling from con to con becomes part of a geek's lifestyle of travel, networking and partying.
Once upon a time, when I was a young gay boy, I'd secretly buy my stash of Out Magazine and the Advocate and try to find a correlation to my identity in their glossy pages. That's where I first learned of circuit parties: huge dance-a-ramas filled with hot guys letting loose and just being themselves. And I thought "One day, I will be able to go to one of these and be myself and feel at home with other gays like me." Not too far from the hidden gay rag stash of pubescent Danny B. was my (not so)secret stash of comic books. Between pages of red-blue spandex awesomeness were ads for video games, Magic the Gathering cards and comic cons. Comic cons: huge geek-a-ramas filled with nerds letting loose and just being themselves. And I thought "One day, I will be able to go to one of these and be myself and feel at home with other geeks like me."
So while I've never in my adult life experienced the hedonistic sexiness of a circuit party, I've been to plenty of raves in my (misspent) youth and can infer that circuit parties are just older versions of that. But I've gone to my fair share of comic book conventions. And while both are filled with frenetic fervor of a group of people who've been waiting most of the year to congregate with like-minded people, the collective "we are not alone" feeling is probably the unifying sentiment for both. The biggest pro that cons have over circuit parties, is that instead of trying to buddy up to celeb DJ's and tweaked out go-go boys, you'll most likely be able to have a conversation, get a pic taken, autograph signed or attend a panel with your favorite actors/actresses, comic book writers, artists, and editors.
So while you wait the year away for the next White Party, why don't you join me and check out some of these upcoming cons:
Chicago's premiere convention spanning the latest and greatest from the worlds of comic books, video games, anime, movies, and TV. McCormick Place, April 13-15.
NYCC - New York Comic Con The East Coast's biggest and most popular comic con. A lot of great insider knowledge for the next year comes out of this con since a lot of the major players attend. Javits Center, October 11-14.
The mecca. The mothership. The ridiculously hard to get tix to but will die trying in order to join the 60,000 other geeks making their pilgrimage to the mother land. Seriously, why is it so hard to get tix? And why would I do anything to get one?
San Diego Convention Center, July 12-15.
These are just the ones I'll be attending. There are tons all around the country, possibly closer to you. Check out this website, an invaluable resource in finding cons all over the world.
As added incentive, here are some especially gay moments of cons past.
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. He plans his personal days and vacation days off of work strategically to be able to do his geek tour around the country. As an added bonus for getting this far, check out his album of personal favorite geek moments. For more info, visit his website.
Valentine's Day is here and whether you celebrate it in all of it's chocolatey-rosey goodness or pooh-pooh it as another Hallmark holiday, I think we can all agree that love and romance are pretty frickin' sweet. So in keeping with the spirit of the day, here are my top 5 romantic geek moments.
5. Kevin Keller Gets Married
2012 opened up with a pretty monumental wedding in geekdom as Riverdale's first openly gay resident Kevin Keller marries his sweetheart Clay Walker. They met while serving in the Middle East, Kevin getting injured in the line of duty and Clay nursing him back to health. Amidst the debates about DOMA and gay marriage happening in the real world, Kevin and Clay get to serve their country proudly and get married surrounded by friends, family and love. Pretty frickin' awesome.
4. Billy and Teddy...
Alright, anyone who reads my geek musings knows how much I love the relationship between Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulkling. I could seriously fill a top 10 of their best moments (hmmm...) but for the most romantic, I pick this one. A quiet conversation where they debate on superhero stuff, plan their first trip together, and almost say the "L" word (the other "L" word, Scott.)
My favorite thing about their relationship is that it focuses on these intimate tender moments, rather than hot and heavy crazy passionate ones. Those moments are the best.
It's kinda like the way Shelter stands out amidst all the "just enough dialogue to excuse getting naked and screwing without being porn" gay movies they always show on Logo. When they're not showing RuPaul's Drag Race. But I digress.
3. Apollo and Midnighter get married
How awesome is it that there's two gay marriages on this top 5? Hopefully America will take a hint from comic books and make it legal already, eh? Being among the first gay characters in mainstream comics, these bad-ass ass-kickers are known for getting justice using extreme measures. Imagine Superman and Batman as the protagonists of a Quentin Tarantino movie circa the 90's and you've got this couple. They definitely show their softer side to each other and eventually tie the knot during their tenure on The Authority.
2. Spike Loves Buffy
Way before Sookie Stackhouse was holding hands with bloodsuckers in Bon Temps and a certain lame sparkling vampire took interest in an equally lame expersionless teenage girl, Buffy Summers had the market on teen girl/vamp love. After a torrid affair to spark any sort of feeling in her numb post-reincarnation depression, Buffy rejects her soulless vamp booty-call Spike after he essentially tries to rape her. Much different from her first dark-and-broody-vamp-with-a-soul love, Spike is a bad boy through and through. A savage hedonistic killer who only fights alongside her to fill his hunger for violence. So the fact that he responds to Buffy's rejection by seeking a way to regain his own soul to prove that he truly loves her speaks volumes to his quest for redemption. The final season deals with all the fallout and consequences of him regaining his soul, but his final moments in the penultimate battle (well at least until Angel Season 5) prove beautiful, romantic and tragic all at once.
1. The Upside Down Spidey Kiss
Boy meets girl. Boy is too shy to say I love you. Boy dons red and blue spandex and uses his new spider abilities to save girl. Boy gets sweet reward. Epically romantic. Nuff said.
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. For the record, he is neither Team Angel or Team Spike but Team Riley. For the most passionate (albeit not too romantic) moment in geek history, click here. He is currently trying to level up to earn the power of love and working on his webcrawling skills to be able to give a special someone an upside down Spidey kiss someday. For more info visit his website.
Happy Black History Month true believers! I personally love heritage months: yes, one's heritage should be celebrated everyday, but focusing on it for a particular month is greatly empowering. On that note, I'd like to share with you who I think are the coolest black superheros of all time.
Grandson of first (and black) Captain America, Isaiah Bradley, Eli grew up wishing he could be a hero like his grandfather. Despite the general public's disbelief in Isaiah's hero status, Eli stood up to defend his grandfather's legacy. When approached by Iron Lad to form the next generation of Avengers, he jumped at the opportunity, despite not inheriting his grandfather's Super-Soldier abilities. The controversial methods he used to obtain such powers and the redemption that he gained in rising to be the natural born leader of the Young Avengers speak to the true American spirit from which he gained his name.
Mainstream comics' first African-American superhero. Getting his start defending an island nation from former Nazis under the tutelage of Captain America himself, Sam Wilson was born out of Stan Lee's desire to accurately represent an African-American hero born out of the Civil Rights movement.
3. Misty Knight
Originally inspired by blaxpoitation icon Pam Grier, Misty Knight is a cybernetically enhanced detective with ass-kicking kung fu mojo. She has teamed up with some of the best over her years in comics, including the Iron Fist, the X-Men and Spider-Man. She now runs "Heroes for Hire", a street level agency that hires out supes between missions.
Pretend there was a machine that could erase Halle Berry's portrayal of the Kenyan born goddess out of your mind. Much better. Storm was part of the second wave of international X-Men and the first woman to lead the team. An arbiter of wisdom, morality, and taste, she is currently the Queen of Wakanda. And from her punk rock mohawk to her form fitting, skimpy black leather outfits, I'm sure she's been an inspiration to many drag queens.
1. Luke Cake
Luke Cage may have started off as a bit of a jive talking stereotype, with his poofy afro and ex-con status. But in the years since his 1972 debut, he has proved himself to be a tough leader who doesn't take any shit. Luke Cage's unbreakable skin serves as metaphor for his tale of redemption. No matter how much life throws at him, he still ready to kick some ass.
Danny Bernardo is GoPride's official geekologist. He is anticipating a lot of backlash for having Patriot on the list instead of Black Panther. He instead urges you to read about his #6 top black hero, Prodigy. For more info, visit his website.