Astonishing Tales (2nd series) #1

Issue Date: 
April 2009
Story Title: 
Madripoor Mix-Up (1st story)<br>Bobby and Sam in Mojoworld (4th story)

First story: C.B. Cebulski (writer), Kenneth Rocafort (penciler), IroBot (colorist), Troy Peteri (letterer), Michael Horwitz (asst. editor), John Barber (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher) Art by Top Cow Productions -- Special Thanks to Top Cow’s Rob Levin

Fourth story: Jonathan Hickman (writer/artist), Nick Pitarra (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Michael Horwitz (asst. editor), John Barber (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

First story:

The Punisher is on the hunt and it leads him to Madripoor. There he is intercepted by Wolverine, a common fixture in the seedier parts of town. Logan and the Punisher are attacked by Hydra agents, which they dispatch easily enough. But the force behind the attack is none other than Wolvie’s ex-wife, Viper who now reigns as Madame Hydra! She hasn’t come alone and after taunting Logan, she unveils her latest weapon… Predator X!
Fourth story:

Roberto DaCosta and Sam Guthrie are enjoying a much-needed vacation in Rio and discussing their plans for the future. Roberto has recently dabbled in film production and invites Sam to be a part of it. This draws the attention of Spiral and Mojo, who are in need of new talent in film production due to a strike that has halted all film production in Mojoworld. The ever-practical Cannonball is suspicious of Mojo’s proposal to sign the two to make a movie in Mojoworld but the carefree Sunspot thinks it might be fun! The two sign on and their adventure in Mojoworld begins!

Full Summary: 

First story:

Frank Castle, better known in some circles as The Punisher, is having a drink at the Princess Bar in the heart of Madripoor. He thinks to himself that he hates hunting animals because you never know where the chase will lead you. Places like this dive bar in a “cesspool of a country” like Madripoor. It was here that the trail of his target went cold. Castle knows that when that happens, the best thing to do is sit and wait in the hopes that you can pick up the scent again.
Wolverine enters and says “Been a while, Castle” to which the Punisher replies “Usually better off that way, Logan.” Wolverine agrees since most of the time their paths cross someone gets hurt. He pops a claw and uses it to slice the top off a beer bottle as he joins Castle at the bar. Castle smiles and says that it “Won’t be any different this time, either.” The two toasts and Logan says “Here’s to one of us making it out alive.” They drink to it. Castle surmises that Logan has heard why he is there. Logan replies dryly “’Fraid so, Frank. Why’s it gotta be all roads with you lead to trouble?” The Punisher replies that that’s almost funny coming from him. Logan suggest that they take it outside since the Princess Bar has seen more than it’s fair share of trouble over the years and he’d rather not get the people there involved. Castle agrees since he prefers to work out in the open.
The pair makes their way outside and takes stances facing each other about forty feet apart. The Punisher asks if this is how it’s going to go down and Logan replies that this is how they do things in Lowtown. The Punisher opens his trench coat to reveal his small stash of weapons. He removes and cocks a rifle as Logan pops his claws. From out of nowhere, a dozen or so Hydra agents with swords descend upon them. Punisher notes that they’re unusually quiet for Hydra agents who are usually prone to villainous declarations when they attack. Logan urges him to “Enjoy the silence” and Punisher says “No thanks” as he fires his gun, filling the air with the noisy rattle of semi-automatic weapon fire. Wolverine dives into a pair of Hydra agents with his claws. The battle rages for a few brief moments as Logan and Frank take down their attackers with practiced precision.
As the last Hydra agent falls, Castle admits that this isn’t what he was expecting. Logan tells him not to take his finger too far from the trigger as the “best is yet to come.” He turns and yells out “You know I can smell you, Viper! So why not just save us the suspense and get your ass out here, doll.” Madame Hydra AKA Viper emerges and says sarcastically “Still the charmer, I see… You said the same thing on our wedding night, Logan.” Logan replies that he doesn’t recall a lot of talking that night. He does remember a lot of “screaming and moaning”. Viper glares and replies acidly “More like grunting and groaning…” She finishes with a threat “If it’s screaming you and your friend have come looking for… allow me to oblige! She cracks her whip and a gigantic silver creature emerges from behind her: Predator X! She warns Logan that this time, she’s not the partner he’ll be playing with. The punisher thinks to himself that this is why he hates hunting animals… because once they’ve sensed they’re being stalked, they can easily go from the hunted to the hunter!
Fourth story:

Sam Guthrie and Roberto DaCosta are vacationing at the DaCosta compound in Rio De Janeiro. Sam thanks ‘Berto for inviting him down and Bobby happily points out that his friend couldn’t handle the grind of being an X-Man and needed a break. Sam starts to protest but Roberto stops him and suggests that they not dwell on it. He reminds Sam that they’re there to enjoy themselves and he aims to make sure they have some fun. He also points out that Sam is kind of looking pale and could use some sun. ‘Berto puts an arm around his best friend who asks if they have fruity drinks with umbrellas. ‘Berto assures him that it’s Carnival in Rio and they have everything! “Watch out for girls with big hands” he adds.
As Roberto shows Sam around, he asks if the place is new. ‘Berto says that it is and that he bought it off a movie producer and he bought it up along with several other assets using money he inherited from his father and various X-Corp real estate holdings. Among his purchases were a film production facility and equipment, a cable affiliate and a small theater chain. He nonchalantly asks Sam if he wants in on the deal. Sam is a bit taken aback and asks what they’d do. ‘Berto replies “Whatever we want” in a cocky tone and adds that he just made a low-budget action film that was kind of fun. A young woman brings Sam a drink (complete with umbrella) as Bobby confirms that they’d be acting as movie producers.
Their casual conversation is interrupted by the transformation of the waitress into the dimension-hopping villainess Spiral! She proclaims “Perfect! Just what I was looking for!” They two young mutants cry out her name in unison as she weaves her magic to transport them both to… MOJOWORLD! Their bodies contort and compress in a cartoonish fashion before reforming and arriving in Mojoworld in a most undignified manner. They dust themselves off and are immediately greeted by the lord of Mojoworld... none other than Mojo himself! He welcomes them with open arms and declares “We have business to discuss!” His loyal assistant Major Domo explains in his overly effusive, legalese manner that by “business” Mojo means signing contracts that bind them to do his bidding for the profit of Mojomedia. Sunspot and Cannonball assume fighting stances as they face off against Mojo. The corpulent villain assures them that he doesn’t want to fight and is looking to make a deal with them.
Sam and ‘Berto ask what kind of deal and Mojo instructs Major Domo to explain. Domo explains that the denizens of Mojoworld are addicted to their programming and Mojomedia has enjoyed unparalleled success. But they overextended themselves and can no longer meet their commitments to their writers and producers. As a result, they’ve gone on strike. Or as Mojo himself admits “They’ve developed spines!” Sam asks what that has to do with them. Domo explains that they had delegated their entire production to these crews and now they were without new programming for the masses! Mojo cuts to the chase and explains that they are there to replace them! Domo adds admiringly “We all just love your work and we think you’re perfect for the job.” Mojo leads them to a gigantic broadcast tower. Sam points out that he isn’t sure how they’ll do that since he doesn’t know how to write. Domo verifies that Sam’s file does note that he is a product of the Kentucky public school system. Sam takes offense at this remark. ‘Berto asks why Mojo would think they’d ever agree to do this to which Mojo replies “Because I’m asking nicely.” He guarantees that he’ll make it worth their while.
Sam asks what will happen if they don’t agree. Mojo replies bluntly that he will have no alternative but to televise their deaths in an arena filled with Warwolves. He readily admits that it isn’t much but he has to produce something. Major Domo explains that they are barely breaking even when you factor in his salary, Spiral’s retainer and the costs of teleportation. Mojo is perplexed and admits that he has no choice. Sam ignites his mutant power and prepares to defend them but Sunspot points out that they really don’t have anything else to do. Sam is shocked that his friend actually wants to do this. ‘Berto says “Why not… it’ll be fun” and adds that they can always bust out later if they need to. Sam points out that he was enjoying Rio and their plans to have drinks and work on their tans. But ‘Berto convinces him to give it a go, to Mojo extreme delight! The blobby mogul puts his arms around the two mutants and shouts “Let’s make some movies!!” Major Domo breaks into the legal conditions of this arrangement which are ignored by the others. Same looks across Mojo’s enormous jaundiced belly and says “Can’t believe I let you talk me into this.” Roberto simply smiles and says “Big smile, Sam. Big smile.”

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Predator X
Hydra agents
Unnamed citizens of Madripoor

Fourth story:

Cannonball, Sunspot (both former New Mutants)


Major Domo
Unnamed protesters in Mojoworld

Story Notes: 

This issue features four different heroes in feature stories:

Second story: Iron Man 2020 in “Endless Stolen Sky” – Part 1

Third story: Iron Man in “Making an Appearance”
The second story starring IRON MAN 2020 is set in the future and features a mutant news reporter named Edna Trilby. Her name and light blue fur suggests that she is the alternate future daughter of Henry McCoy AKA the Beast and TV reporter Trish Tilby. The two have had an on-again/off-again relationship for some years. Besides the physical resemblance to the X-Men’s Beast, Edna is also the name of Hank McCoy’s mother. It’s likely she was named after her grandmother. The added “R” in Edna’s last name is clearly an editorial oversight.
First story:

Wolverine and the Punisher have teamed up and clashed on numerous occasions, including three different limited series and several guest appearances in each other’s titles. The two share a grudging respect for each other’s abilities despite the personal friction between them.
Wolverine is the part owner of the Princess Bar. It has appeared in numerous storylines, especially in the original WOLVERINE ongoing series. It has been the site of many brawls, political coups and full-on battles and has been rebuilt and repaired many times. Among the great tragedies befalling the Princess Bar was the murder of Logan’s three closest friends in Madripoor, Archie Corrigan, O’Donnell and Rose Wu as shown in WOLVERINE (2nd Series) #98.
Viper has had a long history with Wolverine, much of it centered on her ambition to gain dominance over Madripoor. She black-mailed him into marrying her in WOLVERINE (2nd series) #125 as part of a scheme to solidify her control of Madripoor. Their marriage of convenience was consummated but she later granted him a divorce in exchange for saving her life as shown in WOLVERINE (2nd series) #169.
Backed by the forces of Hydra, Viper recently attempted a return to power in Madripoor as shown in IRON MAN ANNUAL (4th series) #1. Her efforts were opposed clandestinely by Iron Man as Director of SHIELD with help from Tyger Tiger. After defeating Viper’s forces, Tyger Tiger was installed as ruler of Madripoor with Tony Stark’s blessings.
Predator X was a creature created by the nefarious Facility to hunt and feast upon mutant DNA as shown in the pages of NEW X-MEN #34. The Facility infused the creature with biological samples from the young mutant called Mercury, granting it a super-tough, silvery hide. Originally, there were three such creatures but two were killed in NEW X-MEN #36. The final Predator X was destroyed by Wolverine in X-MEN (2nd series) #207 after playing a pivotal role in the MESSIAH COMPLEX storyline. Where this Predator X originated has yet to be revealed.
Fourth story:

Sam and Roberto have been best friends since they were members of the original New Mutants team together as teenagers.
The art in the initial scenes set in Rio De Janeiro are very reminiscent of the artwork by Bill Sienkiewicz which defined the early NEW MUTANTS run.
Roberto’s father Emmanuel DaCosta was murdered by Gideon in NEW MUTANTS (1st series) #98. Roberto inherited both his father’s fortune and his complicated relationship with the Hellfire Club.
Roberto was the head of the X-Corporation’s Los Angeles branch and apparently provided some of the funding for the X-Corp property assets there. The primary LA office of the X-Corp was destroyed in X-TREME X-MEN #45. In the wake of M-Day, the X-Corporation was dissolved. Roberto has apparently recouped the funds he had poured into this venture.
As members of the New Mutants, Sam and Roberto have fought Mojo and Spiral on several occasions. Their most notable encounters occurred in UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #10 and NEW MUTANTS ANNUAL #2.

Issue Information: 
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