Darkness Reigns

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Winter Wolf

The smell of pine drifted throughout the lodge. It was a three floor monstrosity that one could hardly call a cabin and it was the one thing that Whisper insisted upon. Leaving the doom and gloom of the White House to spend Christmas together alone in the Adirondack Mountains. It was their time, when the three of them could be alone. Her brother and father placated her because the last thing they wanted was an angry reality manipulator, but their house had not felt like a home since the death of Mani. This was simply a time of frivolity that they allowed her.

It seemed that this year was not going to be their year, however. Ten minutes ago, the hairs on the back of her neck had stood on edge, that feeling of foreboding that she got from time to time when things were about to go wrong. It took only two minutes for her to call in to her source in the resistance. They were sending in a specialized team in an attempt to take out Lord's Angel, Heat and Whisper in an attempt to end this once and for all.

As she marched through the house, her silk nightgown billowing around her legs, Olivia caught sight of her brother. He was on top of a woman in the open den, pressing her body against the supple leather couch as he fervently made out with her. "I have no idea how she got here, Nathan, but I swear to god if you burn this one up I'm not cleaning up your mess." The woman whimpered a mix between fear and pleasure before she dove right back into Heat. "Gross."

The seventeen year old Whisper was already a hardened warrior, having dealt her fair share of death and cleaned up more than few of her brother's messes. There was still one person that could always put fear into her heart though, and that was their father. She was doted upon and loved, but at the same time every bit a soldier. It was with trepidation that she entered his private study. "Daddy, there's a problem." He sat behind his enormous mahogany desk, cleaning the sword that had dealt death to the King of Kings himself.

"Handle it, Whisper." He barely looked at her, too engrossed in his own thoughts and machinations. So much for Christmas.

It took her ten minutes to gear up. Full body black leather suit that afforded her protection from bullets, knives and the cold environment and a ceremonial black and red cape clipped on at the shoulders. Across the back was the insignia of the Wolf Pack inlaid over a stylized pair of wings. She was the only person in the world authorized to wear this symbol - anybody else caught sporting it was punished by death.

The cold night air bit the exposed skin of her face, bringing a pink tint to her cheeks almost reminiscent of sunburn. It didn't bother her, simply reminded her that she was alive. "Show me where they are." The words were mouthed, an audible noise barely escaping her lips, but it was enough. In her mind were the locations of the specialized team. Armed to the teeth, specialized training and all here to get the job done. There were fifteen of them and they thought for some reason that they'd be able to approach without anybody knowing and kill them in their sleep. They truly were getting desperate.

Standing on the edge of a canyon leading down to a river, Whisper looked across the thin gap, knowing that they were all making their way through the heavy snow while attempting to mask their trail. Her blood red hair whipped in the wind across her face as she showed no emotion. They were coming for her family in the dead of the night like cowards and on Christmas Eve. There would be no mercy here and certainly no remorse.

Reaching up, she undid the clips attaching the cape to her suit and then unceremoniously shucked off her clothing, leaving them secured in the hollow of a tree. "Wolf." The word left her rosy lips and as soon as it reached the nighttime air, the transformation process had begun. In Olivia Anderson's place stood a small, lithe wolf with rust colored fur and vivid teal eyes, a mirror to her human forms. Using the advanced olfactory senses and nearly unparalleled hunting skills of the wolf, it was a short time before she had tracked down the exact locations of those who were hunting her and her family.

A haunting howl trickled from her jowls as she overheard them. These men had personal gripes against her family. There was going to be no unemotional hit and quick death. They were planning slow, brutal, torturous murders and something even worse for her. Any thought of a quick and painless death for them went out the window in that second and Whisper surrendered herself to the instincts of the wolf. Hunt. Kill. Protect.

Using her laurels to launch her out of the snow, Whisper took down the first man with a quick and brutal bite to the neck, preventing him from screaming and alerting the others to her arrival. His blood spewed from his neck and steamed as it hit the ice cold snow. One down, fourteen more to go. She hunted, maimed and brutalized until there was one more left. The leader. The one who had talked of using her body. She was going to use him as her personal play toy. She'd ripped his weapons from him and now hunted him through the snowy woods.

They played a game of cat and mouse for upwards of two hours, until his stamina was all but gone. He was on his knees, hands planted in the snow and that's when Whisper finally showed herself. The breath exhaling her snout left a trail on the wind. A small, short wolfish yelp drifted out on the night air and within seconds in place of the wolf stood Whisper, buck naked and sheened in sweat.

The eyes of the soldier widened as he looked up at her, fear apparent in his face. “You came for me, you came for my family. You came on Christmas Eve. Did you think there would be no repercussions? Did you think you would escape unscathed? You did, didn’t you? You thought that you and your team were going to be big shots when you got back to base. The heroes who finally stopped the oppression, the saviors who took out the Andersons. That’s not how this works.”

She circled him several times; sizing him up like a predator would its prey. Reaching forward towards him, he winced and she pulled a knife from his boot. “Stay still. You’re not going to move.” With those words spoken, he was as still as a corpse. Whisper pushed him down into the snow and straddled him, having no care at all for propriety. Running the flat of the blade against his face, she leaned down and whispered in his ear. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to give you some Christmas presents and then I’m going to send you back with a message, or at least a message other than yourself. Next person who comes after me or my family doesn’t make it back in one piece like you, mister luck. No, the next person who comes after us will be shipped to various bases of yours in boxes.”

The cuts were small and shallow, but there were plenty of them. Many would scar. He would forever be a walking reminder of what happens when you try and take out the Anderson family. It took twenty minutes of cutting, slicing and threatening before Whisper was satisfied with the outcome. With a single word, she sent him back to whence he came, never to be seen by her again.

Stepping through the front door of their not so humble abode, the first thing that Whisper noticed was the lack of human flesh burning. That was a good thing, one less mess for her to clean up. The black leather/Kevlar mesh of her bodysuit clung to her skin, the dried blood causing it to stick to her in uncomfortable places.

Once again, she entered her father’s study, this time there was something different about her, something colder, as well as the spray of blood that had stained her face. “It’s done. They’re gone and they won’t be returning.”

Lord’s Angel looked at her with remorse, with sadness, the first of either emotion he’d shown in ages. His daughter was no longer a soft, innocent little girl. She was a cold, hardened killer who’d been dealing with burdens not her own for her entire life. Was this the point of no return for her? Only time would tell. “I’ll see you in the morning, Daddy. Merry Christmas.”


Awesome Deal My Shop is Offering for the New 52

If you follow me on twitter at all (@DarkHuntressCV) you know that I absolutely adore my comic ship, Friendly Neighborhood Comics. If you're in the Bellingham, MA area, I seriously suggest going to them. Here's one of the many reasons I love them so much.  
They have this amazing deal going on for the DCnU. If you pick up ever first issue, at the end of the month you get 10% off of anything you buy in the store. In addition to the 10% you get off your purchase if you have a pull list registered with them through ComiXology. BUT it gets better than that. If you pick up an issue of something and you absolutely hated it, if you bring it back to the shop, they will give you a store credit for the price of that issue. 


Yvonne Strahovski Rumored to be Playing Ms. Marvel

There are tons of (completely unfounded) rumors flying rampant on the internet that Yvonne Strahovski (of Chuck fame) will be appearing in The Avengers (possibly in a cameo role) as Ms. Marvel.  
What are your thoughts on this? 

  • Do you think it's actually going to happen?
  • Do you think it's good casting?
  • If it does happen, yay or nay?
  • Regardless of if it happens or not, would you like to see her portray Ms. Marvel at some point in time?


Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction Discuss Shattered Heroes

With Marvel's November solicitations beginning to hit the Internet this week, readers are learning more about the books and characters that will define the marvel Universe after Fear Itself. The company held another Next Big Thing Press Call today to discuss that topic. Participating in the call were Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and writers Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker. 

Right off the bat, Brevoort made sure to clarify just what Marvel is naming the post-Fear Itself branding in November. While "Battle Scars" was the name announced at Comic-Con last month, it's now being referred to as "Shattered Heroes." Like Dark Reign or the Heroic Age, Shattered Heroes is less an event and more of a general story direction uniting various titles. Included under the Shattered Heroes banner are the newly announced Fear Itself#7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 epilogue issues, the biweekly Fear Itself: The Fearless mini-series, the Battle Scars mini-series, and a handful of ongoing Avengers titles including Invincible Iron Man, Captain AmericaThe Mighty ThorThe AvengersAvengers Academy, and Incredible Hulk.  
Speaking about the general premise of Shattered Heroes, Brevoort said, "The general tenor, without getting too specific about the end of Fear Itself, is that Fear Itself was, in every meaningful way, a war. Our characters have come through the crucible of this war with their faith tested and their bodies shattered – weary and tried, but still standing and still moving forward. But they're all going to have to deal with the fallout of the choices they made and the things they had to do in order to succeed and survive and the events that brought them to this point. And a series of new problems and new challenges that will arise in the wake of Fear Itself across the whole of the Marvel Universe." 

Brevoort elaborated that the epilogue issues will focus on Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor individually. Transitioning the characters from the end of Fear Itself back to their respective ongoing series. Fraction said, "It's a chance to do the character stuff that event books, by and large, don't really allow for. It's a chance to narrow the spotlight from the whole of the Marvel Universe. It's just those three guys."  
The two writers spoke more in-depth about their issues. Regarding the Captain America-centric Fear Itself #7.1, Brubaker said, "This is my chance to do what everyone has been complaining I haven't been able to do yet, which is deal with the loss of Bucky in a Cap issue. Obviously I couldn't deal with the end of Fear Itself four months before Fear Itself ended, and I was launching a new Cap #1 at the time. So I wrote this issue a long time ago, actually. This was always the place where I was going to do my sort of aftermath of Fear Itself. He continued, "This is not only the book people have been screaming at me to do for a few months now, but also this is the point where I get to set the stage for the next year of stories in Captain America and secret things can't talk about yet."  
Fraction then discussed Fear Itself #7.2 and 7.3, starring Iron Man and Thor, respectively. "The Thor story is, again, a chance to narrow the spotlight down to Thor and his immediate circle. I was very cautious when putting together Fear Itself, where I didn't want it to feel like one-third action and two-thirds people standing around talking about what it all meant... There's a little bit of the 'morning after' in Fear Itself #7, but not much because it's just the story of the event. Hopefully you'll be left with a desire to learn what's next. In the case of Thor and Iron Man, it's a chance to deal with that immediately in a way that you can't when you've got to account for a lot of people in a wartime situation."  
Fraction continued, "The Thor story is about the immediate effects on Asgard and what comes next for its guardians. In particular, we deal with all the revelations that come out about the truth of things – the shape of their world and what their reality and history are in the wake of the Serpent. With Iron Man, I really enjoyed writing Tony and Odin yelling at each other. It's the two biggest egos in the Marvel Universe getting on the stage and having it out . It's the second half of that, and it deals with Paris and everything Tony has gone through by the end of Fear Itself. It's the ultimate man of science standing toe to toe with the ultimate god, demanding to know how this could happen."  
The discussion turned to the other two Fear Itself spinoffs, Fear Itself: The Fearless and Battle Scars. Brevoort acknowledged the confusion brought about by the rampant title changes and said that The Fearless will deal with "the fallout of Fear Itself and some of the pieces left behind – the Serpent's hammers, the distribution of same, and some of the threats that have been uncovered that have not yet been dealt with. Battle Scars will be about the emergence on the Marvel Universe landscape of a terribly important character whose emergence comes out of the wreckage and ruin of the life-changing and life-shaping events of Fear Itself. [Shattered Heroes] will be a fairly broad marketing initiative that will touch on all corners of the Marvel Universe and carry us forward through the next few months." 

When asked to reveal what characters will be appearing in Battle Scars, Brevoort said, "a wide variety of Marvel characters, mostly on a ground-level scale – Captain America, Taskmaster, Daisy Johnson, some of the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters, a bunch of other mercenary folks." Fraction said, "It's a little bit of a travelogue. There's a lot of people in it that are all of that super-espionage ilk." The story begins with a murder mystery whose effects spiral outward and lead to the emergence of the mystery character teased by Brevoort.  
Thor fans have probably noticed that Thor is conspicuously absent from much of Marvel's post-Fear Itself imagery. The teasers revealed today do nothing to assuage fears that Thor may be dying at the end of Fear Itself as prophesied in issue #4. Even the discussion about Fear Itself #7.3 was vague as to the character's fate. Brevoort said "I think you can take from that whatever you want to take, and probably check out Fear Itself #7.3. Certainly the piece that we show has resonance for Thor. We already released the other teaser that talked about Tanarus, who is the new god of thunder. There's definitely some change coming to the word of Thor and the Asgardians, but I don't know that we can tell you much more at this point." 

Fraction spoke more about the upcoming shift in The Mighty Thor. "It's so played out to hyperbolically explain 'Everything changes forever.' Technically it's a comic book and everything should be changing forever constantly as it comes out monthly. It should be changing all the time, otherwise you're just reading the same thing over and over again. Fear Itself has changed the reality on the ground for the Asgardians and the Avengers. Tanarus is the face of that change."  
Fraction's new Defenders series was also brought up. The series will spin directly out of events in Fear Itself. Brevoort revealed more about this tie, saying, "It's a plot thread that comes out of Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula, which is just about to start. By the end of that there's something that's uncovered, something that's changed, something that happens that leads to the need for a new incarnation of the Defenders to come together. It's just this tiny little thread that gets pulled on the sweater of the Marvel Universe that totally begins to unravel crazily in an orgy of fast-paced ideas and mind-bending concepts and crazy hoohah."  
Fraction followed up by saying, "Hulk needs a favor. That's the launching point that forms out of Hulk vs. Dracula with Hulk needing help – which is never easy for anyone to ask for, let alone him. He goes to the last guys in the marvel Universe he feels he can trust – the last guys in the Marvel U. who owe him something. That's the gang known as the Defenders." He continued, "In the process of cleaning that mess up, the mission statement for the Defenders – i.e.-- what they're defending against – presents itself to them." 

Schism was brought up during the call, and Brevoort discussed the parallel timing of both events. "It's no coincidence that Schism and X-Men: Regenesis is all kind of happening at the same time as Fear Itself going into Shattered Heroes. It's us resetting and realigning the landscape of the Marvel Universe, setting up all the dominoes in the places they are now rather than where they started so that everything is in place and in position for the next thing to come, which is terribly exciting and which you'll have an inkling of by the time you get to the end of Fear Itself #7."  
That's it for now, but we expect to hear plenty more about Shattered Heroes during the rest of the convention season as the finale to Fear Itself draws closer. We'd like to hear you thoughts on Shattered Heroes. Are you excited for what's coming? What are your theories as to the identity of the mysterious new player in Battle Scars? Sound off in the comments section below.