What a trip we've had so far. I mean the sights we've seen. Evil blue dwarfs, laser dodging boobies, heavy metal hair from the future, not to mention all the needlessly complicated subplots. Would you believe we're almost to the point where this story tries to make....well, a point? If you failed to make sense of anything that's happened in previous installments then join the club. We meet on Fridays and you have to bring a snack.
On a semi-serious note; for as much belly aching as I've done about this story line, I've had tremendous amounts of fun with it. Poorly thought out comics are a dime a dozen but this, this is something special. Let's see how much more special it can get.
Force Works #19
Picking up from where we left off, Tony Stark is in this weird timeless area where Kang and Mantis brought him for protection. Cryptic conversation about the oncoming threat abound and nothing of value is shared. Tony has his owners send him back to Force Works HQ where he finds their publicist snooping around his future basement. Somebody feel free to use Future Basement as a band name, just please gimmie some credit. Anywho, Amanda finds Suzi Endo locked up in a cryo freezer despite her being part of the team. Believe it or not this particular plot point actually gets resolved later on. Don't get your hopes up too high, the explanation's still rubbish.
Iron Man is no fan of corporate spies so he decides to add one more corpse to his hit list but not before spitting out a delightful pun.
Next on his agenda is killing Spider-Woman's daughter. Guy's on a roll lately. Cut to Black Widow, U.S. Agent, and War Machine as they race towards Force Works HQ in some nifty battle bus (where'd they get that?). War Machine decides to fly on ahead. Over in Vietnam, Moonraker explains the plot.
|Somehow is one of the more intelligent conversations this story has to offer.|
Turns out, Slade Truman (Moonraker) is actually Gustav Brandt (Libra) a dead villain and father of Mantis. When Gustav died the priests of Pama who live in Vietnam saved his soul and placed it inside of Slade who's really a member of Force Works in a separate time line running parallel with our own. This was all so they could send out a warning of Kang's activities because he was using his time abilities to destroy everything linked with his new consort Mantis, which includes the entire nation of Vietnam. The hidden soul idea worked out so well that even Slade/Gustav didn't realize who he really was and thous he had to return to the hidden version of Vietnam so he could recover his memories and warn everyone that Kang aims to reshape the entire world so he can fight something. Yep. This all makes perfect sense now.
A few more pages of drama and the team's off to rejoin society proper. Oh but first they find Kim. Ya know, the Vietnamese kid who turned into a fully grown bug man. They leave him behind and say they'll come back for him later. Spoiler alert: they don't.
Back at base, Iron Man continues to scheme when Century returns from his space Odyssey. War Machine convinces him to take Rachel to safety while he gets ready to face off with Iron Man.
War Machine #22
This issues kicks off with one of the most straight up ugly panels I've ever seen in a comic as we're treated to a head shot of War Machine. Keep in mind that his current outfit makes him look more like an alien, the results being something that looks like a very angry raisin with a Simon game for a helmet. Behold!
Almost nothing of value happens here as this issue is just two fight scenes and little else. War Machine and Iron Man have a technology based smack down that Stark wins because he's not showing mercy. Plus he gets to drop more of those classic vague hints about a greater threat. At the same time, Century battles Cybermancer which gives us a double dose of ass panels.
After the dust settles everyone regroups and Century teleports a few of them back to Avengers temp mansion while the main team stays to destroy Stark's evil machine in the future basement cause it has something to do with reshaping the planet for Kang's plans. Problem is the security system decides it's time to kill Force Works.
Iron Man #324
We open with a lovely shot of Tony Stark killing another person. Nah, they're just joshing us this time. See he has to rip the head off of his buddy, Machinesmith so he can set to work on repairing him. Isn't that how it works for everybody?
By now you've surely noticed how the Iron Man issues are packed to the gills with insensate whining. This one's no different as Stark attempts to rebuild his robo friend while his ex probes his mind and feels his emotions. Of course she gets all weepy about his inner turmoil and how how tortured he is deep down. they almost have a moment of romance until a small Avengers strike team attacks the Arctic hideout.
Far be it from me to judge the battle plans of earth's mightiest heroes but when going up against a former allies technofortress you may want to send a stronger group than Crystal, Vision, Century, and the new guy from another timeline. As you can guess the battle goes poorly and once again the Avengers run home trailing piss behind them.
On the return trip, Moonraker disappears. Turns out Kang & Mantis somehow managed to nab him mid transport. They chain him up and rip his shirt for the ladies. I'm not gonna lie, that's pretty much the end of Moonraker. Sure he pops up in a couple more issues but he contributes nothing of value and once the Crossing was over his ass was tossed into comic book limbo where he lives to this day. Guess he shares an apartment with Deathhunt 9000.
Force Works #20
Back at Force Works, the team's dealing with that whole killer headquarters issue. As luck would have it the previous fights damaged the holo technology in part of the building making a convenient safe zone. Most of the crew hides out there while Spider-Woamn and War Machine sneak around back in hopes of taking down Cybermancer....yeah she's still an issue. Major props to web lady for responding to laser blasts with a simple ow. Who says that mid battle?
|blogger refuses to display this image correctly, get used to it.|
After stopping the traitor, the team figures out that Stark's weapon is actually in two pieces, their basement and a communications satellite he launched way back in the first issue of this event. I never mentioned it back then as I figured it was just aimless fluff like so much of the Iron Man material. To think this story actually had one plot point fully planed out in advance and it's the least important one!
|I could write an extra article on the hysterics of Spider-Woman.|
War Machine takes on evil satellite duty while the others head off to join the avengers.
Over in Kang's funzo time realm, Slade/Gustav/Moonraker/Libra/Whatever the hell his name is now is on the receiving end of some torture machine. The nameless blonde girl shows up to free him but not before she's discovered by the other assorted baddies. She gets herself and the man of too many names out of there. Meanwhile at Avengers temp Mansion, Hank Pym studies his cocooned wife, Hercules struggles to remember the aforementioned blondie (still?), and the others just bitch aimlessly. That's when the girl and Slade, err Gustav, wait....Slastav! arrive via time bubble. Then we're treated to a few pages of half the cast thinking about how remarkable the girl is. Believe me, she's about to get a whole lot less interesting.
|It happened again.|
Neut (the lil evil guy) pops by to spice things up. Once again we're treated earth's mightiest heroes getting smacked around by a three foot dude in gold undies. This is downright sad by this point as none of them even get in a hit. In the heat of battle, mystery girl has to jump in front of a laser blast meant for Crystal. Finally we get the reveal that she's an older version of Luna. As senseless as it may sound, this is actually really obvious when you're reading the story first hand. It's almost like you develop a bad storytelling sense. How or why Crystal was teamed with Kang is never explained cause, ya know, that requires thought. Neut has no time for sappy death scenes though as he moves in to make another kill, only to be stopped by a mystery blast from, wait for it.
Wasp's back, everybody! And now she's an actual bug lady! Some genius had the idea that making her some gross insect person would boost her popularity. Cause that's what kids are into, right? Body horror? If you think for one moment that there's any emotional fallout from her mutation, you clearly haven't been paying attention. This is The Crossing, people. Shit just happens.
With Neut captured and well on his way to comic book limbo the team tries to figure out a plan for what to do with Iron Man. Turns out Madam Masque has an idea and it's a doozy, but you'll have to wait for another installment to learn what it is.
War Machine #23
Checking in on James, we find him breaking Earth's atmosphere as he heads for Stark's satellite of death. I'd give it the more accurate moniker of satellite of time alteration but death sounds so much better.
Once inside, Rhodes checks the place out, even dispatching a few drones into the smaller corners when he finds a stowaway. Skye; the girl he met in Canada when he got the warware has been waiting for him. She works for some unnamed employer who wanted War Machine to be properly equipped for fighting Iron Man's betrayal. That's about all the details we're given as the conversation is rudely interrupted by another asshole in warware.
Turns out Kang's got his own alien armored goon guarding the joint which means yet another bout of fisticuffs. During the tussle the two armors communicate with each other, revealing their history as weapons of a long dead warrior race that protected the galaxy. I'd say it's not unlike the green lanterns but Marvel already has the Nova corps. No matter; all of this will soon be forgotten. Naturally our hero wins the fight but not without some sacrifice.
Skye was fatally injured during the battle. While dying in War Machine's arms she spouts off a few more details about how he's bonded with the warware until death (not true) and his days are numbered as her master is coming, which I'm pretty sure never happens. Rhodes leaves her in the exploding death machine as he flies back to earth. Elsewhere, his one lady friend is still mysteriously old. Yeah...that's still going on.
We're almost done folks! Prep yourselves for time travel and a new/old teenage hero next time on The Crossing.