The heroes of the Marvel Universe are disappearing one-by-one, and Spider-Girl is on the front lines to unravel the mystery. This series unites the second-generation MC2 heroes with the original MU heroes they are based upon, and promises to shake up the MC2 universe by the end of the series.
TWO NIGHTS AGO: Wolverine is running through the forest in New Jersey Pine Barons, bonding with his daughter Wild Thing as he tracks her down. Suddenly, his heightened senses pick up a familiar scent, and he hears a disturbing "RRRRR-SSHLUMPPP" noise that causes him to call out to his daughter. Hearing her father's call, she turns and runs worriedly back to him, only to find a rather large, mysterious hole in the ground that appears to have swallowed the furball.
YESTERDAY AFTERNOON: The two Ladyhawks talk to each other over headsets regarding the hijackers they've just apprehended. One speeds away from the crime scene on a motorcycle as the other leaps across rooftops. They discuss meeting one another for lunch when that menacing "RRRRR-SSHLUMPPP" noise returns, and one of the Ladyhawks cries out, "HOLY--!" and ceases talking. The other Ladyhawk urges her sister to respond, and the scene shifts to show the Ladyhawks' motorcycle overturned next to a similar ominous pit.
The next page offers us a view of the earth from the moon, where the Watcher gives us a long, boring speech about how he sees all, and that events were taking place that would end the age of heroes and begin an "era of darkness". He then wastes two pages telling us of the origins of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, showing their evolution into what now constitutes MC2's Fantastic Five and A-Next. He then warns us of the return of a "great enemy" (probably from the first-generation heroes' era) and tells us that while Wolverine and Ladyhawk have been the first victims, they will not be the last.
At the Avengers Compound, an impressive-looking Captain America leads A-Next in an exercise in their training center. The young members of the team banter back and forth to one another, and as Cap tries to make them understand the point of the exercise, he gets hit by a charge from the training equipment and falls. Mainframe, MC2's Iron Man, shuts the training session down, and the members of A-Next rush to Cap's side to see if he's okay. Cap hesitates, then slowly gets up, says he's fine, and leaves the young Avengers to their training alone.
Steve Rogers, aching from his injury in the training room, looks into the mirror at the many scars marring his aging body and thinks about how his failing physical strength could have endangered the team in a real-life mission. Suddenly, the alarm goes off, and Captain America forgets his worrying and puts his costume back on, picks up his shield and runs to tend to the problem at hand.
Tony Stark stands next to the bed of a comatose Scarlet Witch, whom he visits in the hospital quite frequently. He walks out the door and down the hall, and that damn "RRRRR-SSHLUMPPP" is heard coming from her room. He turns around and rushes back to her room to find the trademark pit where her bed had been (in a hospital, no less...I hope they're on the ground floor, or that would have gotten messy).
Back at the Parker house, May Parker finishes up with the changing of her baby brother Benjy's diaper, and Peter asks her if she's heard anything about the heroes going missing. She tells her father that Uncle Phil had called her regarding the disappearance of one of the Ladyhawks, and that she was going to talk to him later to get the details. Peter tells her to be careful web-slinging so she doesn't get snatched as well, and May makes her way to school.
The Thing is walking down the street carrying groceries when he hears a rumbling sound and the sidewalk cracks beneath his feet. The rest of the Fantastic Five, at their headquarters, see the Thing's Fantastiflare go off in the distance, and realize he's in trouble.
Back at the Avengers Compound, Tony Stark informs them on the video screen of the Scarlet Witch's abduction. The members of A-Next contemplate why not only hard-hitters like the Thing and Wolverine were abducted, but minor-leaguers and even a comatose hero, as well.
Peter Parker and Phil Urich walk down the street discussing Ladyhawk's disappearance. Phil mentions contacting the Buzz, and Peter makes a remark regarding his distaste for Phil's working with "that costumed lunatic," to which Phil replies by reminding Peter that people used to say the same of him. Suddenly, Peter's spider-sense goes off and he pushes Phil out of the way just as a man in spiky metal armor bursts out from under the concrete beneath them. He begins firing a weapon at Peter, and Peter leaps out of the way, only to land wrong on his artificial leg. Peter dodges several more shots and asks his assailant what is going on, and several more armor-clad warriors erupt from the street. The leader informs Peter that they will kill the innocent bystanders in the vicinity if he doesn't cooperate.
May gets a call on her cell-phone at school from Phil and asks him if he's seen her father. Phil explains to her that the armor-clad warriors kidnapped Peter and took him into the pit they had created just like all the other heroes. May runs into a stairwell and puts on her uniform.
Spider-Girl meets up with Phil (now dressed in his Green Goblin garb) at the scene where her father was abducted. The Buzz and the remaining Ladyhawk are also there, and together they venture into the pit to find the missing heroes. After several hours of searching, they run into Captain America and A-Next looking for the Scarlet Witch. Moments later, the Fantastic Five show up looking for the Thing, and everyone compares notes, finding that these tunnel entrances are scattered across the entire city, and that they're all connected. They ponder who would have built the maze of tunnels and for what reason.
The armored warrior emerges from another tunnel with an unconscious, chained-up Peter Parker and reports back to his mysterious master, who tells him to put Peter with the others. He comments on Peter's apparent lack of strength, and says that Peter will serve his purpose anyway..."REVENGE for an unforgivable sin that has forever haunted me!"
To start, I gotta say, this book looks marvelous. I especially appreciated Mark Bagley's cover, as it's about time we saw Bagley take on Spider-Girl's shapely form. The colors were amazing, and I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed Pat Olliffe's pencils...I didn't really like his work on Spider-Girl and was relieved when Ron Frenz took over. However, Olliffe's pencils this issue were dynamic and powerful. I especially liked his page eight training session opening scene with Cap in the middle, running and holding up his shield in a classic Cap-pose. His image of an older, battle-scarred Captain America on page thirteen was also powerful, really getting across the point that this Captain America was not quite the soldier he used to be.
Now, onto the story. I found the Watcher opening to be rather boring and unnecessary. I'm all for making the book accessible to new readers, but did we really have to waste two pages on dynamic poses of super-groups and their origins? The Watcher could have brought new readers up to speed on MC2 by himself and not have wasted so much space.
I like the premise of Captain America getting old and losing his touch. It IS a pretty obvious foreshadowing of something unfortunate happening in issues to come, but it makes sense, as Cap's powers are pretty much just really advanced human physical attributes, and of course they're going to wane as he gets older.
I don't like that Peter criticizes Phil for working with the Buzz, or that he calls the Buzz a "costumed lunatic." Over the years, Peter has found many times over that many costumed characters are not necessarily as unsavory as they appear to be, and he himself has worked with most of them. I understand that Peter is a parent now, and no longer in "the life," and that may change his mindset, but I still believe it was very out of character for Peter Parker to have said that.
Finally..."RRRRR-SSHLUMPPP"? What the hell? What kind of abduction makes an "RRRRR-SSHLUMPPP" noise?
I think this story could turn out to be something interesting, but as it is at the beginning, I'm not impressed. Not much happens this issue aside from heroes getting kidnapped. The meeting of all the heroes in the middle of the tunnels seems kinda forced, and I have a feeling this is going to turn out to be one of those forced team-ups "starring EVERYBODY!" We'll see. Three webs for the art.