Aug 29, 2018

Comics Aimed at Specific Audiences And Why That’s Good

“I didn’t feel invited in.” “I would have liked them to explain cultural terms.” I’ve encountered a lot of that lately from white men, with both Arigon Starr’s Super Indian and Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones’ America. Mostly, after I or some third party brought up the comic. And in most cases, I think it is acceptable and non-bigoted. To paraphrase, as a response, Dr Frank N Furter’s, “I didn’t make him for you!” Every comic has a target audience, a hypothetical most-likely-reader. Super Indian and America are not aimed first at white men. Neither is actively firewalling white guys, barring them from functional entry, but their hypothetical needs as an audience don’t come first.

Comics Aimed at Specific Audiences
And Why That’s Good
Travis Hedge Coke

If an audience is used to being prized above all others, not having that service can feel like a fence, like a rejection. Unless the field is near-unilaterally walled against a demographic, however, it’s not. When the door pulls open, people who pull to open may get in quicker, easier, but people who push to open, will and can eventually also get in. Three second difference. Still a door.

Technoskin, a giant robot Indian, is not going to be introduced in Super Indian with a “footnote: ‘skin’ means Native American,” because it is understood that the primary audience understands the reference.

Why the university, in America, is Sotomayor University, or what an Indigenous Studies department is, may not warrant a footnote or explanatory dialogue. People, in the story, and in the principle audience, know.


There is an early issue of X-Men vol 2, that makes reference to “brass,” in the sense of, “the man is all brass,” that as a 6th grade kid, I significantly misunderstood. Nobody I knew used the phrase, I’d never been educated on the phrase. But, that is the tail end of Chris Claremont’s decades-long run on X-Men comics, and I was not his target audience. I was not the target, not the bread and butter. Even when Native characters showed up, or characters my age, I was not the target audience. Dani Moonstar was not written or drawn for a young Native audience in New Mutants or other X-titles. Not under Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, not later, by Matt Fraction and Greg Land.

“Warrior of the Cheyenne" is appended to Dani the way, “powerful beams shoot from his eyes" is, to Cyclops, or, “controls weather,” to Storm. Nobody says, “white warrior,” of Psylocke, with her “focused totality of… psychic powers” pink telepathy knife that grows out of her hand. “Warrior of the Polish Americans” is applicable, logically, to any Polish-descent American X-Man, but you’ll never see it, if not satirically, because a white American audience is assumed. You have to prove that Dani isn’t white and American, you have to prove that Wolverine isn’t American.

A lot of the time, when Dani is pointed to as a model minority character that people of all demographics could enjoy — when any character is — it isn’t because they were fairer or better handled, but because they were being directed at the white male audience, the audience who, in anglophone comics and anglophone cultures, largely assume all entertainment is aimed at them or in some way incompetent or possessing an “agenda.”

Other demographics do it, too. There are levels of self-absorption in all walks, all types. But, with other groups, it tends to be, so to speak, a minority of the minority. The majority of those audiences know they are not going to be served first, that some of the work may be on them, even in terms of slang or famous figures.

Different anglophone cultures and subcultures do not share the same touchstones. They do not need to, and no one culture/subculture’s are more real or central than any others’. Women have communities that are not predicated on men. Black women in America have different communities, and thereby a different dialect of reading, a different lens to look through, than black women from England.

The touchstones included in a comic reveal the primary, the most important audience. If the touchstone for “tough black man” is Jim Brown, at least someone’s age is showing, the author and/or the primary audience. Jim Brown is not a twelve year-old’s point of reference in 2018. “Stone butch,” “lala,” and, “yuri,” are near-synonymous terms in the right circumstances, but are neither interchangeable, nor targeted to the same primary audience.

Someone opened and email to me, earlier, with, “My lala sister,” and as an interpersonal exchange, it makes sense, and hey, I’ll take it. But, if you open a comic that way, you’re addressing a more clear-cut and anticipatory primary audience. If you put that scene in a comic, without further elaboration, even to an audience who understands the reference, it is going to seem odd. Odd in the way Dani Moonstone’s continual label, self-selected and by omniscient narrator, as a “Cheyenne warrior,” to the expense of all else, reads weird to a Native audience. No matter how comfortable a white woman or a Chicano man may be, being called any variant of n*****, to an outside audience, questions, generally, will arise.


I think, in America, the deployment of a character actually named “Goodhair,” and written off as “Becky,” by the title character, is a misstep, mainly because she’s actually right in her concerns, and the narrative backs that up. But, I also recognize that it does not matter if I think it is a misstep, because I and my interpretation of the narrative are not the authors’ primary concern. I am not their first, their primary audience. The reference is not for me.

And, at least, I suppose, I get the reference. So, I’m already more in than I was when someone said Gambit was “brass,” and I thought it meant he could turn into metal like Colossus.

Either way, they can afford to lose me for one scene, if not financially, then ethically and aesthetically. Yes, America was canceled after twelve issues, but I wouldn’t doubt it was only ever contracted and scheduled for twelve issues. Most of the “cancelations” today are not due to low sales or lack of positive reception, but because they have enough to collect and keep in print in perpetuity.

Super Indian can afford to not target the largest potential demographic first, because, honestly, they are both unlikely to ever go all in on the property and the largest potential demographic simply is not as important as the one the comic is actually aimed at. We, the Native community, especially the Native comics community, need Super Indian. We need its satire, its casual soap; we lack options and it’s good.

The second bus to come along is usually just as good as the first, but you have to wait. Sometimes, to get on the first bus, people will only ever travel in the cheap seats, or they stand the entire trip, and try not to stumble too often. They might sit on the edge of step or perch on a luggage rack. Rather than limiting the field or blocking readers, having a field that comprises myriad target audiences, instead of a uniform, even one mistakenly assumed to be “universal” target, broadens the entire field, serves more people, deepens and enlivens our pool of resources. And, in having at least one comic talk directly to a person, to them first, encourages them to try more comics, and also to more readily recommend them to people they think that comic will also engage.

Three buses go along that explicitly don’t want you, or feel intimidating enough you don’t step on, it may seem like the fourth will only be the same. People get tired. When audiences tire, they dissipate. A white, American, heterosexual, male-IDing audience, for anglophone comics, will never dissipate. There will always be buses. There will be fleets and the ads on the sides of them will target, too. That’s acceptable. Everyone else needs a bus, too, and we don’t all need the same rickety, fourth one in line. America and Super Indian are comics that feel like the first bus in the line has pulled up, opened its doors, and even turned on a welcome sign.

They don’t even check your ticket.

Aug 25, 2018

The Ultimate Spin: A Lookback at Ultimate Spider-Man

Late last year it was announced that Brian Michael Bendis signed an exclusive contract to DC Comics, ending his almost-two-decade relationship with Marvel Comics. As many of you know, Brian Michael Bendis was the writer of Ultimate Spider-Man from the beginning until its last issue. It happens to be my all-time favorite series.

The Ultimate Spin: A Lookback at Ultimate Spider-Man
Out of Nowhere!
by Migs Acabado


In the summer of 2001, I bought Peter Parker: Spider-Man #30 and in the subscription page I noticed that there were four new comic books with an unfamiliar adjective. All of them were branded as Ultimate books. Being a big Spider-Man fan, I became very curious with Ultimate Spider-Man. However I wasn’t able to grab a copy until a year later, since I was in my final year in grade school and I still couldn't afford to follow any ongoing comic book due to my limited budget.



In mid-2002, I managed to purchase a copy of Wizard Magazine. Then from there, I was able to learn the details of this new title. I noticed that my favorite Spider-Man artist, Mark Bagley, was drawing the series so it was already a must-have for me. I was unfamiliar with the writer. Who is this Brian Michael Bendis?  At the time, he was also the writer of Daredevil, which I couldn't have cared less about back then, and the obscure book Alias, which starred the then-obscure Jessica Jones (his own creation).

Luck finally came to me around Christmastime, when I was able to buy my first Ultimate Spider-Man comic book. It was issue number 30, the third part of the Spider-impostor story arc where Spidey got shot in the arm. I was blown away with what I read. This Bendis guy can really write a good story. I began collecting Ultimate Spider-Man.

Ultimate Spider-Man was the modern reimagining of Spider-man. The Peter Parker here is younger and somewhat different from his regular Marvel Universe (Earth 616) counterpart. It was also set in a modern environment where Uncle Ben was a former hippie, Gwen Stacy is a punk rock chick, and Mary Jane is a brainy pretty girl. The stories are also different from the regular Marvel Universe. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley did 111 consecutive issues together, making them the longest-running creative team in Marvel history. Stuart Immonen succeeded Bagley, followed by David Lafuente, then by Sara Pichelli.

Just when I thought the book was getting stagnant, Mark Bagley came back for the Death of Spider-Man story arc, in which Peter died and Bendis and Pichelli introduced Miles Morales. an Afro-Hispanic teen who was also bitten by one of Norman Osborn’s genetically altered spiders. This re-ignited my interest for this book, and Bendis even managed to get the Earth 616 Peter Parker and Miles Morales to team up in the Spider-Men mini-series. In Secret Wars, they incorporated Miles to the regular Marvel Universe.

I have a lot of good memories with the series. My favorite stories include the darker, more character-driven Clone Saga, Learning Curve where he fought the Kingpin for the first time, and Spidey’s hookup with Kitty Pryde, just to name a few. Brian Michael Bendis did a good way in writing the characters. They made them relatable. In my teenage years, I couldn’t help but to compare my life with Peter’s. There was a time when some of the things that he encountered also happened to me. (Most of them were girl problems.)

Through the good times and even the bad ones, Ultimate Spider-Man was always there. This book helped me deal with some sad moments in my life. It was my source of happiness when I got culture-shocked in my freshman year in college and during heartbreaks in high school. The Death of Spider-Man and Miles’ introduction came out during a very difficult time in my life. I was struggling with my first job and was losing some friends. This book became my escape to those problems.

When I learned that Brian was leaving, it felt like a longtime friend leaving our hometown for good. The friend that you are used to see every month will never come back and things will never be the same again. But as they say, creators come and go, but good stories live forever. Ultimate Spider-Man is the comic book series that I have followed religiously the longest and I loved every memory that I have with it. Just like a friend who’s going away, the memories that you have spent together will always live within your heart.

Aug 20, 2018

X-Men Grand Design: When One Panel Brings You Down

Before the release of Grand Design, we were seeing preview images, some released by the author, and thank you, Ed Piskor. Honestly, thank you. The issues we had so far are fun, I love this concept, and it’s like a funnier, terser Marvel Saga. Thank you. (He’s not reading this.) Thank you.

When One Panel Brings You Down
Travis Hedge Coke

And, there is this set that he posted himself, online, cool single panel introductions each of the new X-Men: Storm, Nightcrawler… Each shows something unique about the character and has some punchy sentences explaining them.

“Africa. She brought crop-bearing rains to her neighbors. They worship her like a god.”

Africa is not a country.


“Russia. The immense strength of his metallic form is a big help on the family farm,” and there’s Colossus, painting a picture and filling out a t-shirt. Cool. I know this guy now.


I read Storm’s, okeh, things she did. His, things he’s done. She looks cool in hers. He’s actively doing something in his.

And, there’s Thunderbird. Thunderbird is the one who’s going to die. And, stay dead.

So, do we presage that with coded prose? Is the focus on his military career? What he does for a living?

Fingers crossed. Don’t be wrestling a buffalo. Fingers crossed. Don’t be wrestling a buffalo.

He’s not wrestling a buffalo!

He’s standing with his brother in some very green, green place with mountains. And, above him, the text reads: “USA. Strong as an ox. Fast as a horse. Stubborn as a mule.”



Wolverine is a “crown jewel.” Colossus is a “big help.” Storm is worshiped as a goddess.



Thunderbird is a handful of generic animal comparisons.

And, be real, in the comic, in Grand Design, Thunderbird has a minimal presence in a handful of pages, then he dies and is never brought up again.


Aug 13, 2018

Infinity to Secret War: Jonathan Hickman's Epic Avengers Story, III

Jonathan Hickman first gained notoriety in the comic book world as the creator of the Image series The Nightly News.  Marvel brought him in to collaborate with Brian Michael Bendis on the excellent Secret Warriors comic, and it didn’t take long for Hickman to take over as the sole writer.  As the writer of the Fantastic Four, Hickman developed an ambitious long-form style of writing, full of complex big ideas.  This style would be used to even greater effect when he was handed the Avengers franchise in late 2012.  Hickman took over as the writer of the Avengers and New Avengers series, beginning an epic three-year long storyline that would eventually culminate in the massive crossover event Secret Wars.

Infinity to Secret War: Jonathan Hickman's Epic Avengers Story
Part Three
Ben Smith

The Illuminati watch as a noble team of heroes (analogues of the Justice League) successfully avert three incursions.  However, their worst fears are realized when this universe is on a collision course with their own.  The two teams, out of ideas on how to stop the incursion, fight to save their respective universe.  Dr. Strange uses the darkest magic to defeat the heroes, clearing the way for the Illuminati to use their antimatter bomb.



Yet, none of the Illuminati can actually follow through and destroy an entire planet, even if it means their own destruction.  As they wait for the end, Namor grabs the remote detonator, and activates it, destroying the opposing Earth.

Black Panther is livid, and has to be prevented from killing Namor on the spot, but the hostilities are interrupted by the notification that another incursion will occur in just three hours from now.



The heroes make their final rounds, not willing to build another bomb, and resigned to their ultimate fate.  As the final moments tick down, and arrive, and then time passes after without any consequence, the heroes of the Illuminati are left to wonder what happened.

What happened was that Namor, frustrated by the inaction of the heroes, re-forms a new version of the Cabal, full of individuals that won’t hesitate to do the dirty work of killing others to save themselves.

EIGHT MONTHS LATER

The story continues after an eight month time jump into the future.  Both Avengers and New Avengers now have a banner across the top of their covers, “In 8 Months… Time Runs Out.”  The entire world now knows about the death of the multiverse, and has fully sanctioned the actions Thanos and the Cabal are taking to save their universe.  Because of this, the world granted them the use of Wakanda as a base of operations.

The Marvel heroes are now divided into factions.  Most of the scientists have joined the Illuminati.  Captain America and a few of his most devoted friends have joined S.H.I.E.L.D. in an effort to find and prosecute the Illuminati.  The remaining Avengers not wanting to be involved with either side have joined Sunspot, who purchased A.I.M. and is now using their scientific might for good.

A.I.M. sends an assault team into the multiverse in an attempt to discover the true cause of the incursions.  This team consists of (the Unworthy) Thor, Hyperion, Abyss, Nightmask, Star Brand, and a group of Ex Nihili.



Namor makes a plea to Dr. Doom to help him corral the out-of-control Cabal, but he is busy investigating the incursions himself with (and this is where I get really interested) the Molecule Man, one of my favorite obscure villains.



The three disparate Avengers factions eventually come back together to try and maroon the Cabal on an Earth about to be destroyed by an incursion, at which time Black Panther takes an extra bit of (he thinks) revenge against Namor by trapping him with them.

However, Namor and the Cabal are saved when a second incursion happens at the same time, so they are able to save themselves by escaping to this third universe, where they are greeted by the Ultimate Reed Richards, aka The Maker.  This Reed had successfully saved the Ultimate universe over thirty times, all by himself.



Meanwhile, A.I.M.’s multiverse assault team has encountered the home base of the Black Priests.  They fight, but the conflict ends when the leader of the Priests reveals himself, Doctor Strange.  Doctor Strange explains that he and the Priests are merely caught in the middle of a conflict between the Ivory Kings and Rabum Alal.  The Priests kill worlds during the incursion in the hopes that if enough worlds are destroyed, the multiverse will heal itself, like “triage surgeons.”

Inspired by Valeria Richards’ suggestion that they need to stop trying to win, and start figuring out how not to lose, Black Panther and Reed Richards create a “lifeboat,” that will survive the destruction of the multiverse, and begin hashing out who will get to board it.

Yellowjacket (Hank Pym) finally returns from his covert mission into the Multiverse with the stunning identity of the Ivory Kings.  It turns out they are Beyonders, godlike beings from outside of the Multiverse bent on its destruction.  They’ve been busy killing all the Celestials and omnipotent beings across all the galaxies, finishing with the Living Tribunal, and now they’re ready to finish off the Multiverse.  (Molecule Man, Beyonders, this is right in the wheelhouse of my 8-year-old self.)


Dr. Strange and the Black Priests find the Library of Worlds, where they are shocked to learn that Rabum Alal is Dr. Doom.  (Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars, baby!)



The Multiversal assault team actually succeed in killing two Beyonders, with only Hyperion and Thor barely surviving that monumental clash.  They soon find out how hopeless things are, when a dozen Beyonders appear soon after.  They rush headlong into battle, and to their deaths.



After all the incursions, only two universes remain.  The Ultimate Universe, and the 616.  With the end drawing near, Captain America has only one goal before everything goes white, to beat the hell out of his old friend Tony Stark.  The battle is brutal and petty, and continues up until the universe goes white.

Before the white event, Dr. Doom explains to Doctor Strange exactly what is happening.  All beings are different in each universe across the Multiverse, except the Molecule Man.  The Beyonders created the Molecule Man to be a universal bomb that when they detonated, he would simultaneously destroy every universe across the Multiverse.



The Molecule Man and Dr. Doom traveled back in time to the origin of a Molecule Man on a separate Earth, and killed him.  Dr. Doom then spent the next 25 years trying to kill every Molecule Man in every universe, in an attempt to destroy the Beyonders weapon against the Multiverse.  Eventually, the death of a Molecule Man started the incursions.



Along the way, Doom inspired disciples to assist him in this task, the Black Swans.

The Beyonders created the Mapmakers to mark the movements of the Swans, seed sacrifice worlds, and chart each universe where a Molecule Man was destroyed.

Eventually, a faction of the Black Swans lost faith in him, and unwittingly began assisting the Beyonders in their goal by destroying Earths at each incursion point.  One of these Black Swans is the one that was held captive by the Illuminati.

With only two worlds remaining, Dr. Doom executes his final endgame.  He had worried that when the Beyonders found out about him traveling back in time, they would simply do the same and stop him, but Doom discovered the one weakness of the Beyonders is that they’re linear.

So, Dr. Doom and Doctor Strange travel to face the Beyonders atop a weaponized time machine, and when he throws it at them, all of reality goes white.

Thus begins Secret Wars, the true spiritual sequel to one of the most important mini-series of my young reading life, Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars.  Because of that series, Molecule Man, Dr. Doom, and Beyonders will never fail to inspire the utmost joy in me as a fan.  If you’re new to all this, and the idea of multiversal bombs and weaponized time machines don’t excite you, then comics really are not for you, and that’s okay.

However, if it does, then Secret Wars is truly one of the most ambitious comic events ever created.  Most of the regular Marvel publishing line was suspended for the duration of the event, and every significant storyline in the history of Marvel was revived in the ancillary tie-in issues.  Secret Wars was as grand in scope as it was in a publishing initiative, and while it wasn’t perfect, it was highly enjoyable.

But like I said, I’m the exact kind of fan this storyline was devised to appeal to.  I still think it’s well worth checking out for yourself. 

Aug 6, 2018

Infinity to Secret War: Jonathan Hickman's Epic Avengers Story, II

Jonathan Hickman first gained notoriety in the comic book world as the creator of the Image series The Nightly News.  Marvel brought him in to collaborate with Brian Michael Bendis on the excellent Secret Warriors comic, and it didn’t take long for Hickman to take over as the sole writer.  As the writer of the Fantastic Four, Hickman developed an ambitious long-form style of writing, full of complex big ideas.  This style would be used to even greater effect when he was handed the Avengers franchise in late 2012.  Hickman took over as the writer of the Avengers and New Avengers series, beginning an epic three-year long storyline that would eventually culminate in the massive crossover event Secret Wars.

Infinity to Secret War: Jonathan Hickman's Epic Avengers Story
Part Two
Ben Smith

In New Avengers, the Illuminati use Reed’s Bridge machine to observe other incursions as they happen, and eventually find out they can witness past events on a limited basis. Black Panther and Namor continue their uneasy partnership, a blood feud continuing on from the Avengers vs X-Men event, where Namor used the Phoenix power to devastate Wakanda. Elsewhere, Dr. Strange barters with his very soul to gain the kind of power it would take to move planets.

As the Illuminati watch more incursions, they begin to learn more about the various factions involved in the Multiversal events.

THE BLACK SWANS


The Black Swans are the disciples of Rabum Alal (the true identity of whom is very exciting). The Black Swans operate out of the Library of Worlds, a place that exists between universes. The purpose of the Black Swans has not been revealed as of yet in the story, so stay tuned. A group of Black Swans rebelled against Rabum Alal, destroying Earths during incursions as an offering to him, and to buy more time for other universes.

THE MAPMAKERS

Mapmakers were created by the Ivory Kings to chart worlds and mark the movements of the Black Swans. They travel the Multiverse through the incursions, stripping each Earth of all usable materials. Their occupation is marked by blue skies, instead of the usual red that signifies an incursion event. The Sidera Maris are their bridge builders, and are used to hold each incursion zone. What exactly they are charting is something that is revealed later, and involves one of my favorite obscure Marvel characters.



BLACK PRIESTS


The Black Priests destroy intrusive Earths during incursions, with the hopes that destroying enough could stabilize the Multiverse. They are not truly alive, but are instead “animated things that feign life.” Their leader is — wait for it — another surprising twist in the storyline, but seems pretty obvious in hindsight.

IVORY KINGS




The aforementioned creators of the Mapmakers, in direct opposition with Rabum Alal. The reveal of who and what the Ivory Kings really are is a moment that hits me right in the core of my longtime Marvel fandom. It builds directly off of a crucial storyline from my childhood, a comic that played a major part in my lifelong love of the Marvel Universe.

Over in the core Avengers title, many things are happening, and to be completely honest, I find them much less compelling than the incursion story happening in New Avengers. I’m going to do my best to explain what happens, because it is quite complicated in parts, but feel free to skip Avengers #24 - 34, because they do not have my recommendation.

Franklin Richards sends Tony Stark’s granddaughter backwards in time, to help them deal with a rogue planet that has been removed from it’s orbit and fired like a giant bullet towards the Earth. Instead of destroying the weaponized planet, she helps them to build a machine that will phase it into alignment with the Earth, creating a massive source of power that Stark can draw from to use in the coming months.

We learn later on that this planet was purposefully shot backwards through time by the Avengers from 5000 years in the future, a time when the Avengers consists of billions of universal superbeings. More on that in a minute.

A.I.M. is doing what they do, experimenting with the multiversal rifts that have been happening. They successful create a bridge between the 616 universe and one that is in the midst of an incursion, pulling that world’s Avengers over, only this team of Avengers is very much evil. The real Avengers end up battling the evil Avengers, until A.I.M. corrects their mistake and sends the evil Avengers off into an entirely new dimension where they can be happy, maiming and subjugating to their heart’s content. After successfully creating a door between universes, A.I.M. creates a new group of Adaptoids to send out into the multiverse to explore. However, the Adaptoids, well, they adapt past their programming, and end up meeting with and becoming Mapmakers.

Ultimately, the primary result of this story is that Bruce Banner absorbs enough clues between A.I.M. and Stark’s actions as of late to determine that Stark has reformed the Illuminati, and that the multiverse is indeed dying. As a result, Banner joins the Illuminati.


Captain America finally remembers the incursion events, and how the Illuminati wiped his mind after he accidentally destroyed the Infinity Stones. He grabs a group of the Avengers to confront Stark, and just as things are getting physical, the time stone reappears and throws them all into the future. First it’s 48 years ahead, then 5045, then 51,028, and so on. 5,000 years ahead is when they meet Franklin Richards, and he explains to them about the rogue planet, and he also explains to Cap that the Illuminati will fail. They will fail because the task is impossible, but also because they will be opposed by him.



Captain America is the only one that reaches the end of the line, as each jump sends more and more of his Avengers back to the present day, while he continues on. At the end of time he finds Iron-Lad, Kang, and Immortus waiting for him. They explain to him that they are all stuck in a temporal loop, and this journey has all happened before. Last time, they claim they told Captain America to go back and convince Stark to find a better way to combat the incursions, and it still failed. This time, they plan to have him help them destroy worlds to live. But all this journey through time has taught Steve, is to remember who he is. He fights to save people, he fights against monsters, and he doesn’t kill for the greater good.



Captain America tells Kang to shove it, and then returns to the present day, where the Avengers (minus Stark) are waiting for him. He knows what he has to do, and he declares their former friends in the Illuminati to be the worst enemies they know.



Most of those events and ideas sound much better in summary than they were to actually read. Not that they were terrible comics at all, but I remember reading the comics when they were coming out every month and it felt very much like they were stalling, and it still does. The main points to take away from this stretch if you decide to skip these comics, is that A.I.M. is up to no good, Bruce Banner has joined the Illuminati, and Captain America is more convinced than ever that the Illuminati must be stopped.

Next week, the countdown to “Time Runs Out."

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