Astonishing Tales (2nd series) #3

Issue Date: 
June 2009
Story Title: 
Bloodlines (First story)<br>Bobby and Sam in Mojoworld – Civil War (Third story)

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

Third story: Jonathan Hickman (writer/artist), Nick Pitarra (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Michael Horwitz (asst. editor), John Barber & Nicole Boose (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

First story:
The Punisher and Wolverine’s battle with Viper and Kimura comes to a standstill. Tyger Tiger arrives to spirit them away but not before the Punisher unleashes a deadly explosion that seemingly consumes their foes. Kimura saves Viper from the blast and finds a sample of Castle’s blood. Tyger Tiger explains the current power struggles in Madripoor and Viper’s attempts to gain control of the island. Together, they figure out that Kimura is attempting to reprogram the Predator X creatures to hunt non-mutant targets. Little do they know that she has chosen her first target -the Punisher!
Third story:
Sam and Bobby direct their first film with Mojomedia… CIVIL WAR. A hybrid of the Marvel Comics event and the American Civil War, this would-be mega-blockbuster stars a cast of Mojoverse actors dressed as Marvel’s multitude of superhumans. Mojo demands more sex, violence and action for the film but Sam and Bobby remind him they have creative control. During the ensuing argument, Sunspot uses his power which, according to the terms of their contract, gives Mojo temporary authority to change the script. He adds in a HUGE effects-heavy battle seen with Sam and ‘Berto in the middle. Early screenings of the scene predict big profits from fanboys and young adults and Mojo sees the potential for a profitable sequel!

Full Summary: 

First story:
The Punisher tackles Kimura driving them both into the open jaws of Predator X. Castle hopes that this will throw Kimura off balance and that his body armor will protect him. He also suspected that Kimura and Viper might have a means of controlling the mutant-devouring beast. Kimura punches into the roof of Predator X’s mouth and she and the Punisher leap free from its grasp as it collapses. Castle recovers his footing immediately and draws his gun, determined to finish this. He aims it at Kimura who reminds him that his weapons are useless against her. He says that the bullet isn’t meant for her and aims his gun at Viper.
Kimura scoffs and asks why she’d care if Viper lived or died. Punisher points out that if Viper dies, then she doesn’t get paid. Kimura asks how he knows if she hasn’t already been paid. Castle says that most arms dealers have to provide a “show of force” before the sale is finalized. He figures that he and Logan are serving that purpose. Logan says “Big time” as he grabs Kimura from behind a pops a claw next to her neck. He warns her that if she moves, he’ll pop the other two and slit her jugular. She asks him if he really thinks his claws can break her skin. He replies glibly, “Just say the word and we can see for ourselves, doll.”
At that moment, Tyger Tiger arrives on a souped up motorcycle, flanked by two of her people. She demands to know what they done to her city! Logan tells the Punisher to “stay cool” since Tyger and her crew is with him. Tyger corrects him and says that given the situation, he’s with her. He tells her that they can argue semantics later and tells Castle that they’re leaving. The Punisher says “Not before we finish this!” He fires his gun and Kimura calls out “NO!” as she tries to shield Viper from the shot. She deflects several bullets but a few get past her and hit a tank filled with combustibles. It ignites in a fiery explosion and collapses the building atop Viper and Kimura. Wolverine curses and tells Tyger Tiger to get them out of here.
Kimura helps Viper out of the rubble and receives a terse thank you. Kimura makes it clear that she’s only interested in her money and not her gratitude. Viper replies flatly that she only pays for weapons that work, which Predator X clearly doesn’t. She looks down at the destroyed creature with a glare of disappointment and states that though the arrival of the Punisher and Wolverine caught them by surprise, it’s no excuse for failure. Kimura sees something of interest and turns away from Viper. Viper mistakes this for dismissal and warns Kimura that turning her back on Viper comes with serious consequences. Kimura runs her finger across a wall and shows Viper the blood on it. She says that she wasn’t walking away from her and seems to see some value in this sample.
Back at Tyger Tiger’s place, the Punisher is being tended to by Tyger Tiger’s medic. He asks “What the hell is going on here?!?” Logan introduces Tyger Tiger as the de facto ruler of the Madripoor Underground but makes it clear she’s “one of the good guys”. Tyger warns that there won’t be much to rule soon as Madripoor has been in a constant power struggle since Chief Tai’s death. Castle says that he was under the impression that the police were just for show in Madripoor and that the underworld ran things. Logan explains that there was always a balance in Madripoor, in large part due to his partner in the ownership of the Princess Bar, Seraph. Seraph was the real power broker in Madripoor and she kept relative order between the various factions. Tyger adds that when Seraph died, “everything went to hell.” Castle guesses correctly that this is precisely when Viper made a play for power in Madripoor. Tyger’s medic confirms that Viper returned from exile looking for revenge. Tyger Tiger worries that now Viper has her hands on the monstrous Predator X.
Logan crushes his beer can and wonders what good a Predator X will do in Madripoor given that they were created to hunt mutants. Tyger Tiger informs him that her black market sources tell her that it may now be possible to reprogram the Predator X creatures to hunt whoever the buyer selects. The Punisher asks if this is possible and Tyger’s medic responds that it is since these creatures were bred to lock onto specific genetic signatures, all it would require is reprogramming for the new target’s DNA. Castle sees the connection to those Kimura was trying to sell Predator X to in New York and concludes that this would be the perfect weapon for wiping out an entire Mafia bloodline without lifting a finger. Tyger’s doctor says it’s still theoretical but scientifically feasible. Logan suggests that since Castle messed up their original test run, they’ve set up shop here in Madripoor. Tyger Tiger asks the obvious question “What would they test it on?”
In a hidden laboratory, Kimura and Viper smile as they receive an inoculation labeled “Test Subject: Castle, Frank”. Kimura injects the serum into a slumbering Predator X. The creature instantly wakes… a vicious gleam in its hungry eyes.
Third story: Sam and Roberto are sitting in the directors’ chairs on the set of their first film. They introduce themselves to the “audience” and then share the title of their first joint venture as filmmakers… CIVIL WAR! Sam offers the audience a behind the scenes look at the making of a Mojomedia movie from start to finish. ‘Berto adds “In conjunction with Bobby and Sam’s Big Show Pictures”. Sunspot goes on to summarize the plot “… (a) story about brother fighting brother. A battle over the previous sins of a nation and the path it will take going forward.” Sam interrupts and adds that it’s a story of “Northern aggression by Yankee devils” until his Southern rant is interrupted by a subtle signal from Bobby. Sam shrinks back and says sheepishly “You’re going to make me cut that, aren’t you?”
Various Mojoverse actors are dressed as Marvel heroes and villains with the main cast in bizarre hybrids of the heroes’ costumes and Civil War era costumes. Roberto introduces the scene they are filming: Capt. America and Iron Man are both trying to win over the still neutral Spider-Man at a fancy dinner in Washington. Sam adds that times are tense and war is imminent. Bobby asks for a fresh cocktail as Sam cries out “ACTION!”
The various faux heroes are seated around a banquet table eating Happy Meals… except for the Beast who is eating cat food and Venom who is eating… brains. “Cap” breaks into a speech about the coming firestorm and asks who would want to be in control of things when all that came crashing down. “Iron Man” begins to respond but forgets his line and calls out for it.
Sam, scratches his head and recites the line “I’m a futurist…that’s the way my mind works…” etc, etc. Roberto calls for a break in the filming and grabs another drink. “Tony” approaches them to air some concerns. After he makes some obligatory compliments to the script, Sam confesses that he can’t write at all and just ripped some scenes off from other movies. “Tony” complains that he doesn’t think his character would act this way and that how he is portrayed may lead to him being typecast as a bad guy and hurt the financial prospects for his upcoming solo film.
Mojo interrupts their discussion and Roberto assures “Iron Man” that if anything is amiss they’ll fix it in post-production. He hands “Tony” his drink and turns his attention to Mojo and Major Domo. Mojo is irate and demands to know where the sex, violence and action are in this overblown, costly period piece. Roberto handles Mojo’s wrath with ease and leads the corpulent ruler of the Mojoverse to a “great scene” they are filming. The romantic scene is between “Luke Cage” and “Jessica Jones” and is lifted straight from the classic exchange between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind”. Luke declares his love for her, she pulls away and as he pulls her in for a kiss, he echoes the famed lines of Clark Gable. An unseen stagehand places a wig over his head that makes him look just like Rhett Butler. As the two kiss, Sam and Major Domo tear up and ‘Berto hands them each tissues.
Mojo is still livid and demands excitement worthy of a true blockbuster. Roberto reminds him that they have total creative control. Mojo demands spectacular fight scene despite their contractual agreements and then cites a clause that may allow him to force them to do as he demands. Bobby tells him that he’s making that up and Mojo challenges him to prove it. Bobby assumes his Sunspot form and suggests they settle this the old-fashioned way. Sam points out the irony of getting into a fight to avoid adding a fight scene to their film. Mojo smiles broadly and points out that since Sunspot used his powers, he has violated the terms of their agreement. This gives Mojo temporary control allowing him to make script changes. It also negates the powers of the offending party… in this case, Sunspot. Bobby’s powered form disappears and he lands on his backside with an “Ouch!”
Mojo wastes no time and immediately calls for several big FX laden scenes to be added in. He adds that he wants Tom Selleck as Rhett Butler and Roberto replies happily “Nice.” Mojo also commands Major Domo to inquire into getting Meryl Streep to play Mammy. He then orders costumes for Sam and Bobby! A short while later, Mojo declares “ACTION!” on their biggest scene yet! Bobby and Sam are in the middle and Bobby warns “This is gonna hurt, Sammy.” The two young mutants find themselves smack dab in the middle of a battle royale! Hundreds of superhumans clad in blue and grey Civil War era uniforms clash in a tangled melee of action. Mojo sees dollar signs as early test screenings of the dailies show success among “the young adult demo and lonely males aged 26-42 still living at home with their parents”. Major Domo declares it a success and suggests they do this every summer. Mojo squeals with delight “I smell SEQUEL!”

Characters Involved: 

First story:
Predator X
Tyger Tiger
Tyger Tiger’s unnamed assistant
Unnamed scientists aiding Viper

Third story:
Cannonball, Sunspot (both New Mutants)

Major Domo
Mojoverse actors dressed as the following: Abomination, Absorbing Man, Archangel, Ares, Armadillo, Atlas, Arkon, Baron Zemo, Batroc, Battlestar, Beast, Big Bertha, Bishop, Black Cat, Black Panther, Bullseye, Cable, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Captain Ultra, Coldblood, Cybermancer, Cyclops, Daredevil, Deadpool, Doctor Octopus, Doctor Strange, Falcon, Firestar, Giant-Man, Gideon, Green Goblin, Hercules, Howard the Duck, Hulk, Hulkling, Human Torch, Iron Fist, Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Jack-O’Lantern, Jester, Juggernaut, Killer Shrike, King Cobra, Lady Deathstrike, Luke Cage, Machine Man, Mad Dog, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel, Morbius, Nighthawk, Orca, Overmind, Patriot, Phone Ranger, Porcupine, Power Princess, Prodigy, Puck, Puma, Punisher, Queen Veranke, Radioactive Man, Ragnarok (Clor), Red Guardian, Scarecrow, Sentry, Shatterstar, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Stingray, Strong Guy, Swordsman, Taskmaster, Tatterdemalion, Texas Twister, Thing, Thunderball, Titanium Man, Typeface, Venom, Vision, Wasp, Watcher, Wolverine, Yellowjacket

Story Notes: 

This issue features four different heroes in feature stories:

Second story: Iron Man 2020 in “Endless Stolen Sky” – Part 3

Fourth story: Spider-Woman in “Hollywood Bloodsuckers”
The second story starring IRON MAN 2020 is set in the future and features a brief appearance by Warren Worthington IV. His lineage is obvious not only by his name but by his avian mutation which includes feathered wings like his father. His mutation is even more pronounced as he looks like a bald eagle! His head is basically that of a bird complete with beak.
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.
The growing tensions in Madripoor were most recently spotlighted in IRON MAN ANNUAL (4th series) #1. Backed by the forces of Hydra, Viper attempted a return to power in Madripoor. 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. Clearly, things have not gone so smoothly for Tyger Tiger since. This may be due to the fact that Tony Stark has recently been ousted from command of SHIELD and it has been reformed as HAMMER under the leadership of Norman Osborn.
Tyger Tiger references the deaths of Chief Tai who was killed off-panel in WOLVERINE (2nd Series) #98, along with many other Madripoor-based supporting characters. Seraph’s death in battle with Sabretooth was first revealed in WOLVERINE (2nd Series) #126.
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. Apparently, they are back in production.
Kimura is also a product of The Facility and was empowered by them to serve as X-23’s handler. Kimura is virtually indestructible with skin that can resist even X-23’s razor-sharp adamantium claws. [NEW X-MEN #36]
Third story: 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.
Roberto is wearing a Magnum PI shirt. This popular 80s TV series starred Tom Selleck as a Hawaii-based private detective. The show was referenced several times in the original New Mutants series as a favorite of the young mutants at Xavier’s School.
The Civil War movie Sam & Bobby are directing is clearly a spoof of the CIVIL WAR mega-crossover set in the American Civil War and sprinkled with an obvious film reference to the classic film Gone with the Wind. Some lines in this issue are direct quotes from pivotal issues of CIVIL WAR.
The concerns expressed by the actor playing Tony Stark about how viewers may typecast him as a villain were clearly inspired by fan reaction to Iron Man’s role in CIVIL WAR. He was largely viewed as the villain of the series.
Mojo’s greedy desire to cash in on the popularity of the CIVIL WAR film by doing it every summer is also a nod to fan complaints regarding the continual “big event crossovers” that both Marvel and DC comics have been planning for the last several years such as HOUSE OF M, WORLD WAR HULK, CIVIL WAR, SECRET INVASION at Marvel and FINAL CRISIS and BLACKEST NIGHT at DC Comics. These highly successful events have met with complaints of “fan fatigue” and an increasing resentment among some fans who feel they are motivated more by greed than storytelling. Despite fans lament of having to pay too much to get the whole story, Marvel and DC continue to make record profits from these events.

Issue Information: 
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