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Review: Mighty Avengers #12 (Ewing and Land)

The Mighty Avengers keeps on trucking with good solid stories and character-driven adventures, and one hopes the freshly announced relaunch as Captain America and the Mighty Avengers will not take this book out of the mold into which it has put itself: simply the best of the franchise now on the stands!

With writer Al Ewing continuing at the helm, I won’t worry. Yet.

As to Mighty Avengers #12, as a son my sympathies are certainly with Luke Cage as we learn the whys and wherefores of his father’s distance all these years … especially since we see that Dad was a bit of adventurer himself, hobnobbing with Blade, Blue Marvel, etc etc. And the most unusual thing about the situation between Luke and his father is that the explanation is so believable, so logical. Yet like Luke, we are thrown for a loop! At least I was.

The Deathwalkers as villains are truly enjoyable given their difference from most of the “fighting shadows” stories we find in many modern comics. There is definitely a retro feel to this issue – and to this book – and that is a good thing, believe me.

And BEAR!!!

For those who dislike Greg Land’s art, it is beyond my understanding. The action is crisp and clear, not murky and covered with patches of purple, and the facial expressions could not be better unless one could resurrect the late Gene Colan. Land’s panel arrangements in action and in quiet moments carry Ewing’s story well.

I have worries about this book – or its relaunch – going forward. But right here, right now, this is the best Avengers title for your hard-earned bucks.

‘Nuff said!

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Review: Mighty Avengers #11 (Ewing and Land)

Readers of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers series and the 1990s Cage series get rewarded when the old school, continuity-minded Al Ewing brings us Mighty Avengers #11 and the secret of Luke Cage’s father.

There is a certain art to continuing an ongoing comic today with its own identity and plots (and subplots, remember those!) while the emphasis is on the big, the overall and the “event.” This has ruined many a beautiful book for Marvel and DC, and to save his X-Factor Peter David refused to even participate in most, to his book’s improvement and continuation.

But this volume of Mighty Avengers was born as part of an event and has actually had more issues connected with events than not. This time around, the book is part of the ongoing Original Sin event, and Ewing dances expertly through the dangers of tie-in hell with his customary ease, actually using the events of the Watcher’s death to accentuate and further his own story ideas.  Simply amazing!

This issue, we learn of the 1970s Mighty Avengers run by Luke’s dad and listing Blue Marvel, Blade and Kaluu in its number. The big bad are the Deathwalkers, whose storyline has been beautifully back-burnered in Mighty since issue #1.

Those with patience now reap the reward without having to go through the often drier issues of Jonathan Hickman’s own long-term writings. Ewing, like Rick Remender, is slowly bringing back Mighty Marvel (if allowed to).

Greg Land, it goes without saying, has never been better and brings life to Ewing’s script. His flashbacks are wonderful as are Blade’s torture scenes, but the real meat is the sit-down between Cages Sr. and Jr.

Again: simply amazing.

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Review: Mighty Avengers #9 (Ewing and Land)

Al Ewing has me riveted.

I was not much for the “Diverse Avengers” for diversity’s sake when this title was first announced. Too divisive, to PC for my taste.

Boy, has Ewing showed me (and all of the rest of fandom) how to do it! First step, ignore the races, creeds, religions, genders and treat these characters in the Mighty Marvel Manner (ie, as people). And that has been the key to this brief but very impressive addition to the Avengers franchise. The Mighty Avengers are people, individuals working as a team.

We have two bases of operations in Mighty Avengers #9:

A: On the island of Dr. Positron (in reality the son of Blue Marvel), we have a great history of this wonderful character who has finally found a writer to do something with him. Added to that is narration from Adam that is so heart-rending it has to be read to be felt.

B: At the safe house of Ronin, he adds fuel to the long-standing plot thread of the Deadwalkers in very mysterious, mystical form. I appreciate how this plot has been on front and back burners and is developing like Stan and Roy used to do it in the Silver Age. And Ewing’s use of continuity continues to impress, as we mention yet another plot device from before most readers (not me, but most) were born. Rama Tut, cool!

Welcome back to the book, artist Greg Land! Your vivid action scenes, facial expressions and panel arrangements bring Al’s script to life and you certainly help in establishing these characters as individuals. What Land’s art helps Ewing’s script do to the She-Hulk this issue …! I just hope this does not creep back to hurt Jen. With Ewing, you never know.

All in all, this is the one Avengers book I am most satisfied with and support fully. A permanent place on my pull list has just recently been awarded. Fun!

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Review: Mighty Avengers #8 (Ewing)

A brilliant extended “Roy Thomas story” by Al Ewing continues in Mighty Avengers #8 as we join Blue Marvel on one of his mysterious, globa James Bond-ish advemtures. And boy, does this one have unexpected concequences.

While we have fun with Adam, Monica and Shulkie in the old school superhero world of Blue Marvel, the important meat of the issue is Ava Ayala and her possession by the Tiger God.

Power Man 2.0 is concerned about his lady love and cannot understand why his fellow assemblers seem to be ignoring Ava for other world-shattering matters. I must say Ewing utilizes Marvel reality beautifully (another Rick Remender) by having the team trying to contact everyone from Wiccan (natch!) to Clea. (I did not even know Clea was back on Earth?)

And it beggars in the back of my mind that there is a character, a team member not present who has been talking via dimensional intercom to evil sorcerers (Kaluu) which makes me wonder if Ronin is not Blade as “leaked” but perhaps … Brother/Doctor Voodoo?

No mystic guest appearance here, though, and the book is all the better for that as Ava herself combats her inner demon (Tiger God). How that turns out will amaze you and make you stand up and cheer. (Honest!)

The Bond adventure quickly goes from Silver Age cornball (fun) to serious, though, as an unseen element enters in the villain’s camp (and not the one I expected when reading issue #6 again before buying this mag). The price involved is also a shocker for Blue Marvel fans.

Al Ewing is quickly making a new type of Avengers book: Classic Marvel NOW. It is also becoming my favorite Avengers book in my dwindling pull list.

While I do miss Greg Land and his bold approach to these fresh characters under Luke’s leadership, Valerio Schiti is doing a wonderful job and there are no complaints whatsoever. Action goes fast and furious (best displayed here in the fun and thrilling first Blue Marvel sequence) and drama is heavy (some great talking heads here). If Land does not return, Schiti is fun … er, fine with me.

I cannot wait for next issue, a feeling I do not have with many other books these days. 

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Review: Mighty Avengers #7 (Ewing)

One of the best issues in a book that is quickly making its way up the Avengers franchise quality corner on my pull list.

Mighty Avengers #7 follows up on a long-ago plot thread when Gideon Mace murdered the parents of the White Tiger. We get some great insight into the character of Aya Ayala here as well as that of her Tiger God. And there is no doubt about it, this is one powerful god indeed. And herein, he is on the hunt.

Back at Mighty Avengers HQ, writer Al Ewing’s “Roy Thomas issue” continues as we get reactions from the Avengers Assembled, especially the leadership – and later in the book, the sheer power — of Monica Rambeau. I am sure Power Man 2.0 will be studying on his shattered heart as the Tiger sums up Aya’s feelings for him in no uncertain terms. Equally, Falcon’s concern and relationship with Luke Cage are nice to see, especially after Luke made that Captain America faux pax a few issues ago.

Of surprise was the swiftness with which the Tiger God took out the Living Weapon, Iron Fist. While not a member of the team, it was good to see Danny in action here … and very natural, a feeling that permeates this book.

Scribe Ewing even brings us some threads from the “Inhumanity” tie-in issues here, and we are apparently going to see more and more of Cortex.

A solo character issue which features multiple Avengers team members, a simple story with complex connections to the past, and the fantastic art of Valerio Schiti.

Perhaps the best Avengers story, and book, to come down the pike yet. Fun read.

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Review: Mighty Avengers #6 (Ewing)

It’s the Roy Thomas issue, wherein the Mighty Avengers settle down, decide exactly who and what this team is and will be and, if we are good readers, the writer (in this case, Al Ewing) will let us in on some secrets on the personal side of these heroes.

All that and more occurs in this very traditional issue of Mighty Avengers, and it is both fun and informative, not usually two adjectives you see together for a comic. Ewing has us by the hooks from the very beginning with the wonderfully funny yet soulful discussion between Jessica and the Blue Marvel involving his worldwide responsibilities as a superhero, the things missing in his life (wife, absentee daughter, eating, sleeping … you get the drift) and how you can raise kids on Marvel-Earth.

From there, we explore an interesting framing sequence which eventually involves the Falcon AND Alfred Hitchcock, just marvelously paced and written. The kicker? It leads to the nitty-gritty on White Tiger, who like Blue Marvel also seems to have trouble sleeping.

Danny Rand, the Immortal White Fist, provides some of the comedy this issue along with namesake Danielle. And it’s nice that Ewing picks up on the events of Avengers Arena through White Tiger; using history only makes a story stronger, new readers or not. That is my opinion and I am sticking with it.

As de facto leader, it was nice to see Monica (along with Jen) helping Power Man 2.0 train. The secret? As I said above: knowing your history.

The coup de grace is when the packing (Luke and Jessica have a new Brooklyn apartment) is done, the beers come out and we find out some possibly familial secrets about Luke and Adam Brashear. Cannot wait to see how this goes and if it ties into a wonderful New Avengers piece Brian Bendis once wrote as Cage visited his estranged papa.

And best of all? No Superior Spidey to be found! And this was NOT part of ANY “event.”

Best issue yet of a young, promising series!

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Review: Mighty Avengers #5 (Ewing and Land)

The book that has spent its entire life as part of one event on another continues on, with Luke Cage and Doc Ock in Spidey clothing battling for leadership of the Mighty Avengers.

Al Ewing as a writer has the right touch for this book, with a healthy dose of seriousness but mostly light-hearted humor. It was wonderful to see Jessica, demonstrating her awesome power, and little Danielle, whose babysitter is apparently a taxi driver these days. (Where’s Squirrel Girl?)

The real mystery lies in the fallen city if Attilan in the Hudson River. We seem to have two select groups of villains, one of the Roxxon/corporate persuasion and one of the supernatural variety, after something in the fallen city. I hope Black Bolt was able to get his cabinets cleaned up before departing.

Apparently the new Ronin knows what’s going on, and is of the supernatural persuasion himself, having had secret conversations with Kaluu. It will be interesting to see who that is behind the mask.

The best part of the entire issue is when Luke’s lawyer arrives with an awesome THUD  in the middle of New York Cityand negotiates a peace of sorts between Luke and the Superior One. I hope to see Jen Walters in upcoming issues.

Despite its life as a side to event books, I’m on board with this team of Avengers. Come on, even without Bendis, we can’t do without a team of Avengers led by Luke Cage!

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Review: Mighty Avengers #4 (Ewing and Land)

It’s issue #4 of the new Mighty Avengers, and right away (and much to my delight), writer Al Ewing is doing what I call his “Roy Thomas issue.” That is, the members of this new team, which some are still calling “Heroes for Hire” although no “hire” now takes place, are forming what type of team they will be, headquarters (Gem Theatre in Harlem), financial support, team and field leaders, etc. etc. etc.

We also see the return of Ronin. Whoever this new former “Spider Hero” (no hyphen) is, I do not think we will be finding out for sometime. Seems to be something perhaps mystic about the character; could it possibly be Brother/Doctor Voodoo?

Thus far, I am really digging how this team is coming together and where Ewing has it headed. I guess She-Hulk enters the foray next issue and, diversity aspect aside, the heroes on this team really seem to be gelling (with the possible exception of Superior Spidey).

Speaking of the webbed Doc Ock, he seems to be on the way to becoming a villain in his own team mag. This is obviously no way to deal with leadership squabbles on a team he knows so little about. Imagine Hawkeye or Quicksilver doing this to Cap during their squabbles way back when! Guess it will be up to Shulkie?

While I would not call this a true “Inhumanity” tie-in, the exploration of the crashed city of Attilan is intriguing. We seem to have more than one mystery going on here. Hmm …

While this book has spent its entire history thus far being a “tie in” with two events, it is in itself a very entertaining vehicle and, despite some of my dislike for Bendis’ writing on New Avengers, it does seem to be odd without Luke Cage leading a team of Avengers.  And these are fine ones!

And Baby Cage!

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COVER SHOOT: The Top 5 Comic Book Covers For 11/6/2013

COVER SHOOT

By: Chris “DOC” Bushley

 

This weekly feature will take a look at THE most visually compelling comic book covers on the market today. Whether they be rare variant editions or just your standard fare, these are the top 5 covers that stand out amidst the bevy of books released each week. They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”  but these covers are worth more than that! No matter the storylines behind them, these covers compel you to at least check them out, which can be worth exponentially more than just words to the companies that publish them! Enjoy!

 

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1. Mighty Avengers #3 (Variant Edition) (Marvel): We have all seen album (What’s an album?) cover art depict scenes and characters from pop culture, well, now it’s Marvel’s turn! Salvador Larroca does a fantastic job rendering the cover of the latest Eminem release with a little something extra! The Invincible Iron Man is chillin’ with Marshal Matthews at the ol’ homestead and fans are loving this ridiculously cool idea! I wonder if they’re going for some Shawarma next!

 

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2. Cyberforce #7 (Variant Edition) (Image): Marc Silvestri is creating some exquisite covers these past few weeks and I am loving it! His highly detailed sketch covers is some of the best work I have seen him put out in the past few years. The immense attention to detail, the subtlety of shadow and the crispness of his lines proves that this co-founder of Image Comics is still at the top of his game. Who says you need color to enhance your art?!

 

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3. Batman: Black and White #3 (DC): This hauntingly simple, yet compositionally perfect cover from Olly Moss will be hard to pass up at the local comic shop. The lack of color draws the eye away from everything else on the racks, but the cavernous silhouette of the Batman will make you pick it up just to add to your collection of museum worthy covers. It is bold and striking, everything you should expect in a Batman cover! Perfect!

 

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4. Shadowman #12 (Variant Edition) (Valiant):  Shadowman is getting a complete makeover this month and this amazing cover by renowned artist Kekai Kotaki, is just the thing to kick it off! This beautifully painted work of art depicts Jack Boniface cutting a swath through the Deadside. Usually rendered in dark forms and colors, Kotaki’s choice of vibrant blues and striking whites gives it a fresh, clean and yet, eerie feeling that has never been seen before. Utterly fantastic!

 

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5. Spawn #237 (Image): Todd McFarlane may not do a lot of art these days, nor is he fandom’s favorite creator but when he brings something new to the table — he blows us away! This “Dia de los Muertes” style cover is stunning within itself, but as you look deeper into the image it s full of beautiful, intriquette details. The subtle lines and the inverted double image through  the bridge of the nose are stunning and the use of the vibrant purple background makes the image truly pop off of the page!
 

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Might Avengers #2 Preview (Infinity)

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Writer: Al Ewing

Art: Greg Land and Jay Leisten

Price: $3.99

In Stores: October 3, 2013

Description:

INFINITY TIE-IN! new ongoing series!

• Proxima Midnight is killing New York City one block at a time…

• Luke Cage’s ad-hoc Avengers might not be able to stop her…

• And the one hero who can is at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

• Think it can’t get worse? It can always get worse.

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Exclusive: Al Ewing talks Mighty Avengers: diversity, Infinity and the return of — Baby Cage!

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The main Avengers team has left for the stars to join others in battling the threat of the Builders. So who is left to defend the Earth when Thanos’ troops come a’callin’?

Yep, the de facto leader of the former New Avengers, Luke Cage, is back in action in Marvel Comics’ Mighty Avengers, arriving in stores next month. And the former Power Man will be leading a very different, and should we say very diverse, group of Assemblers.

To learn what part these brave heroes play in Infinity and if we will ever see Baby Cage again, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer spoke exclusively to writer Al Ewing.

Cosmic Book News: Al, is Mighty Avengers something you pitched or was it already a part of the great Infinity plan?

Al Ewing: It was already part of the plan for Infinity. Tom Brevoort asked me if I wanted to do something with this team, and asked me to come up with a pitch based around his idea of the Mighty Avengers being the people who defended Earth from Thanos while the other Avengers were off in space. I felt like there was a niche to be filled in terms of helping people at ground level – away from the epic cosmic forces or the top-secret above-government missions. Essentially following a more traditional superhero model of just helping people in the community who needed it. That’s roughly what I pitched, and after a bit of tinkering, it ended up in a form everybody was happy with and here we are.

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CBN: You have a great bit of diversity on this new team. Is this something we should be looking for more from Marvel in the future?

Al Ewing: I think it’s something we should be looking for from everybody in the future, to be honest, in every medium and genre.

CBN: Any favorites among the new team? Any characters you are worried about scripting?

Al Ewing: Ronin is fun. Blue Marvel’s a fascinating character as well, and I enjoy writing Monica. I’m not really worried about writing anyone, to be honest — if any worry is creeping in, it’s that I won’t have room to include characters who really should be included but aren’t on the team, like Jess and Danny. I really don’t want to sideline those guys, but at the same time it’s not The Luke Cage Show — there are other people on the team who need the spotlight more. So it’s just a case of making sure there’s more than enough panel time to go around.

CBN: Exactly how will the Mighty Avengers be involved in Infinity?

Al Ewing: Thanos‘ Lieutenants are in NYC — it being the home city of the Avengers — looking to find a certain secret something for Thanos. As part of this job, they’re going to kill everything they find, in a number of nasty ways, and the only thing standing between them and that goal are the Mighty Avengers.

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CBN: When Thanos & Co. have departed (assuming they do), is it too early to look into the near future of Luke Cage’s team? Will they even stay together?

Al Ewing: There will be shake-ups. There will be new members. Coming out of Infinity, Luke has an idea of what the Avengers should be, and essentially sets up his own version — not to compete with Tony’s Avengers World, but to work in the places he maybe feels are too low on the radar for such an epic-scale team to see properly. That leads the new team into some epic confrontations of their own, but the focus is always on helping people who need it.

CBN: Al, will we be seeing any of Baby Cage in these pages?

Al Ewing: Oh, I hope so! In fact, if too long goes by without a glimpse of Danielle, I’ll actively shoehorn her in. She’ll be about eighteen months by now, if I’ve got my Marvel Time right, so judging by my painstaking research into friends’ babies she’ll be toddling about a lot, giving people inquisitive stares and watching Baby Jake. Do they have Baby Jake in the U.S.?

CBN: Superior Spidey is one of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers. How does he wind up with Cage?

Al Ewing: What with the Spider-bots and Spiderlings, and Spidey’s cameras everywhere, you can’t sneeze in New York without Spider-Man coming along to have a go at you. So it makes sense that he’d be one of those first on the scene when the Thanos forces attack NYC. From there, he’s not going to sit back and watch while a new superteam sets up shop in “his” city — he’s going to want to be a part of it, maybe even run it. Whether Luke puts up with that nonsense is another matter.

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CBN: Blue Marvel is a character who has been screaming for some kind of treatment. But he is very powerful and on a first-name basis with the Watcher. How does he fit in here?

Al Ewing: In terms of his power levels — he’s very powerful, but he’s not way out in front of other people on the team. I’d say Monica is probably more powerful in terms of what she can do, and then you have people like Vic who haven’t really found their top end yet. As to how he fits in — he’s on the team because he believes in what Luke is doing and what his aims are, and, like Luke, he has strong reservations about Tony’s approach. That said, he’s not going to agree with Luke about everything — he’s of a different generation, with a very different outlook, and they’re definitely going to clash when it comes to things like their individual pasts.

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CBN: What does Greg Land bring to the table? Why is his art right for this book?

Al Ewing: Greg’s got a very solid style, a kind of glam realism that works nicely with this book — he really sells the impacts and the fight scenes. It’s important that this book hits the ground running and really dazzles, and Greg’s art helps to achieve that. Working Marvel-style with him means he’s able to bring his own storytelling sensibility in, which hopefully makes for a more organic experience. I think it does.

CBN: Al, any projects current or future you would like to mention?

Al Ewing: There are some future projects I just can’t talk about yet, but September is a good month for me — there’s Mighty Avengers coming out, an Avengers Assemble issue that’s going to be fantastic, and Damnation Station coming back to 2000AD after a long time away. Meanwhile, I’m working on Mars Attacks Judge Dredd for IDW, and doing a meaty Dredd arc for the Judge Dredd Megazine, in which we get the long-delayed final face-off between Dredd, Deller and The Organisation. And my new novel, The Fictional Man, is still available in bookshops and online.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Al Ewing for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Marvel’s own James Viscardi who helped make this interview possible.

“Mighty Avengers” #1 hits shelves September 11th!

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Mighty Avengers #1 Preview (Infinity)

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Writer: Al Ewing

Art: Greg Land

Price: $3.99

In Stores: September 2013

Description:

• The Avengers are light-years away in space, contending with the Builders! Thanos’ marauders ransack the Earth, doing as they please! Who will stand in defense of mankind?

• Luke Cage! The Superior Spider-Man! Spectrum! The White Tiger! Power Man! And a mysterious figure in an ill-fitting Spider-Man Halloween costume! These unlikely heroes must assemble when no one else can—against the unrelenting attack of Proxima Midnight!

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New Mighty Avengers Announced From Al Ewing & Greg Land

Marvel finished off their week long promotion with the announcement of a new Mighty Avengers book.

Making up the team are Luke Cage, Superior Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Blue Marvel, the younger Power Man, White Tiger, Monica Rambeau as Spectrum, Falcon, and new version of Ronin.

The series will be written by Al Ewing and drawn by Greg Land.

It’s no coincidence that the team is mostly black as Tom Brevoort let it be known (via CBR) the idea started brewing during Black History Month.

Brevoort said it was “no accident” that this team is very diverse in its makeup saying that he’s used to fielding questions about Marvel doing a team of “Black Avengers” or any other group with a minority focus. He said that he’d always felt the concept was fake and forced, but “The reality is that he people who are interested in these characters and want to see heroes that reflect them have a genuine point. We first started conceptualizing this book in February around Black History Month, so there was a lot of talk around that.” He said particularly a huge inspiration for the book was the late writer Dwayne McDuffie. Brevoort said he wanted to make a book that McDuffie would have made in terms of there being at least 50% non-white, non-male characters. And as it turns out, the final balance is more than 50%. Brevoort promised the series didn’t mean that more diverse characters won’t show up in other titles, but this series needed that as an anchor thanks to the guiding presence of Luke Cage.

Mighty Avengers #1 hits in September.

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