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“Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol.1 Annual 2” and “Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol.1” issues 39 – 40

Written by Scott Lobdell

Wildstorm Concepts:  WildCATS - Helspont

All-star WesternHelspont’s final tale begins with a little Annual in which the Outlaws are trapped inside a mental vision where they’re children in Christmas. The Outlaws are formed by Red Hood (Jason Todd), Arsenal (Roy Harper) and Starfire (Koriand’r). In reality, all of the vision was caused by a Psion alien who failed his master Helspont, so he was exiled to Earth’s North Pole. He used his vision powers to attract Red Hood and the Outlaws because he knew they were bad boys who would kill him swiftly. Poor Psion had been tortured enough already, he just wanted the sweet release of death. Red Hood agrees and shoots the poor devil, and after that he sends a warning to Helspont – “if you ever come to Earth, I’m going to be waiting here with a bullet with your name on it.” After that, Helspont decides the Outlaws are his business now…

Shortly afterwards, Helspont sets his plan in motion. He uses his agent Blackfire, Starfire’s sister, to kidnap Starfire. After a few weeks of searching, the rest of the Outlaws and their friend Crux track her to a forest, but their ship is promptly destroyed. They meet Rose Wilson, professional assassin, who was also tracking Starfire because she has a price on her head. Their motives may vary, but they all want Starfire, so they start searching together.

As it turns out, Blackfire is not pure evil; she still loves her sister so she sets her free. Problem is, she can’t let Helspont’s know, nor the Citadel alien armies he’s amassing there on Earth.

Starfire meets with the rest, but they stumble upon Helspont. The five antiheroes start attacking all together, but they don’t even hurt him. They’re quickly captured, and Starfire is heart-broken to see her sister work for Helspont, or at least pretend to. Blackfire argues that Helspont is about to conquer everything, so as ruler of her people she’s obliged to side with the ultimate victor. It’s a desperate deal so that her people will remain a relative freedom. Helspont hates Earth, so he’s not about to offer the same deal to them. His daemonite agents failed to take it, so now he’s going to destroy it.

Things look bleak, but fortunately Crux is an expert on alien civilizations. He knows the Citadel’s armors are all wired to each other, so they could take down the entire army just by flipping a switch. The plan is set in motion when Blackfire asks for mercy for her sister, but Helspont disagrees. This pushes Blackfire over the edge, and she reveals her betrayal by attacking Helspont. Angry, Helspont responds by knocking her unconscious! At the same time, the Outlaws fight with the Citadel soldiers until Crux manages to get his hand onto one of their amours. After some work, he’s able to disable the entire army. Helspont is even angrier now – as he prepares to kill Red Hood, he warns them their victory is a hollow one – there’s more armies where that one came from.

And that’s when it happens. By operating one of the giant guns set by the Citadel, Arsenal shoots Helspont on the back and turns him to dust. Helspont is dead, in what is probably THE lowest moment for all of Wildstorm in DC’s New 52.

Soon afterwards, the Outlaws disband, as life sets them in different paths. But this isn’t the final time Red Hood will create a team. Anyhow, that’s a story for a different time.

Next: Suicide Squad Vol.4 issues 21 – 23

 

 

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“Superman Vol.3” issues 27-29

  Written by Scott Lobdell

Wildstorm Concepts:  WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternWhile Superman battles the Parasyte on Earth, Helspont hears reports on Earth in the former crown seat of the Dremo empire homeworld. Sitting on a throne of skulls, last time we saw Helspont he was decided to building an empire big enough to unify the galaxy, and it seems he’s still bent on that. He heads for Earth, but this triggers the proximity alarms of The Outlaws, so team member Starfire heads to meet with Superman. Supes has caught a daemonite hiding inside a gang member, but he doesn’t know it’s an alien. Starfire wants to kill it, but explaining everything to Superman is too much of a hassle and so the two inevitably start fighting. After the alien reveals its true form, Starfire kills it, and she reveals the daemonite’s plan to take over Earth has changed – now they get human volunteers for them to take their bodies. The daemonites have been spreading alien weapons, secretly designed to inject daemonite DNA into anyone who wields them.

Superman is able to track a signal in the guns to a warehouse, where they even more weapons and a daemonite. He says all the planets they have conquered has been with permission of the original inhabitants; that they all agree to become part of the daemonites to become stronger. After this, he self-destructs; it turns out it wasn’t a full planet invasion, just a few select daemonites specifically wanting to attract Superman’s attention. In fact, it was all planned by Helspont using one of his conquered agents – Starfire’s sister, Blackfire! The two sisters will clash in the pages of “Outlaws”, where we’ll meet Helspont’s final fate.

Next: “Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol.1 Annual 2” and “Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol.1” issues 39 – 40, written by Scott Lobdell.

“Justice League of America’s Vibe” issues 6 – 7

Written by Sterling Gates

Wildstorm Concepts: Cybernary

All-star Western.pngThis was a surprise one, a much hidden cameo. Long story short, young superhero Vibe has been locked up by A.R.G.U.S., and his family and friends sneak in to rescue him. Vibe isn’t too happy to have been locked like a lab rat, so he uses his vibrational powers to free all the other special subjects who had been imprisoned – and among all the neat little DC cameos, we see none other than Cybernary! While all the freed subjects start breaking havoc, Vibe’s powers go out of control, given that they are multidimensional in nature, and tap into an alternate dimension, summoning suppervilain Rupture. However, it turns out Rupture is Armando, Vibe’s long lost brother! While those two squabble, we get Cybernary’s few lines of dialogue: “No – you will not put us back in those cages!” when she’s battling some guards, and then “feel… so strange…” when Rupture hits Vibe, launching everybody in the room across dimensions and frying plenty more, too. Alas, this is the last we see of our Wildstorm heroine. Whatever was of her?

Next: “Superman” Vol.3 issues 27 – 29, written by Scott Lobdell.

“Justice League of America” Vol.3 issue 7.3

Written by Tom DeFalco

Wildstorm Concepts: WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star Western.pngThis issue was part of a special month were every title would focus on a villain and expand on them. “Justice League of America” focused on Shadow Thief, and revealed she was closely linked to daemonites. Originally she was a solider in the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency. When she learned their enemies were training suicide bombers, she wanted to launch missiles at them, but her superior officer “lacked the stomach.” So Aviva Metula killed him and launched the missile strike, turning her into a traitor, killing a hundred innocent civilians and sparking an international incident. But there’s no honour among governments when it comes to spies, so even though they were supposed to be allies with Israel, America soon recruited her for A.R.G.U.S. In exchange for moving her mother and younger brother to America, she started working for a man she only knew as “Mr. Q.”, not knowing he was secretly a daemonite.

Everything changed when she was tasked with retrieving a biological weapon. She felt something was wrong, so she sent it to her family for analysis, since they were scientists. The case contained a pathogen and what she presumed to be a protective suit. As soon as her family opened the virus, though, it burned through their safety measures and killed them. Panicking, Aviva put on the suit on the case, which was actually the Shadow suit that brings her her powers. She was now able to teleport through the world by phasing through the “shadow dimension”, though she didn’t know this yet. She just tried fleeing, and subconsciously activated her powers and teleported right next to Mr. Q., her superior. He was angry that Shadow Thief had stolen the technology which was meant to act as an extinction agenda, thinning the human herd before they could spread beyond the planet like a plague of locusts. Terrified, Shadow Thief used her suit’s abilities, shapeshifting her body and turning her arm into a blade like Warblade, slitting the alien’s throat. Since then, the bowed to killing all aliens she could find, which often puts her at odds with alien superheroes like Hawkman. But every time she wears her suit it becomes harder to take it off—she loses more of her humanity, becomes more like the aliens she swore to destroy. But it’s her cross to bear.

Next: “Justice League of America’s Vibe” issues 6 – 7, written by Sterling Gates.

First Contact

This entry covers the entire “First Contact” crossover, including the issues:

Worlds’ Finest Annual 1
Batman/Superman issue 8
Worlds’ Finest issue 20
Batman/Superman issue 9 and
Worlds’ Finest issues 21 – 22, in that order.

Worlds’ Finest written by Paul Levitz, Batman/Superman written by Greg Pak

Wildstorm Concepts:   gamorra-island kaizen-gamorra

All-star Western.pngFirst Contact is the story of the first meeting between Huntress and Power Girl, natives from Earth-2, with Superman and Batman from Earth-1. In their Earth, the girls were the daughters of their Superman and Batman, so this meeting is especially significant for them. Most importantly, perhaps, the whole story involves Gamorra!

It starts off with a prelude showing the past of Earth-2. It is dedicated with the youth of Huntress and Power Girl, who called themselves Robin and Supergirl when they lived in their Earth.

One night the World Government was holding a big summit of nations, so Supergirl thought it was a great opportunity to go out and party. She meets a really cute guy in a bar: Ken Gammora. Yes, Gammora with two M’s. It seems it is spelled like that on this Earth. They hit it up, get some chemistry going on between them and end up kissing. Ken admits he has to leave the following day, though. He’s the son of the leader of Gammora, and they’re going home after the Worldgov conference is over. Supergirl is so touched by the confession that she actually considers revealing her secret identity, but suddenly there’s an explosion in the Worldgov tower. A terrorist attack! While Ken runs to check if his dad is okay, Supergirl suits up and starts playing hero. Clearing off rubble, putting the damage back together, moving fast enough not to be seen clearly. But she isn’t fast enough for Ken.

When he went back to see if Supergirl was where he left her, the room crumbles over him, and Ken is killed. Supergirl is heartbroken. The rest of the issue is dedicated to the search of the person responsible for the explosion; a warrior from Apokolips. But that isn’t relevant for us.

The story continues years later, in Earth-1. The Apokolips warriors from before ended up destroying Earth-2, so Robin and Supergirl had to run to Earth-1. Now they call themselves Huntress and Power Girl. Lately Power Girl has been losing control of her powers, so they go to Superman and Batman to ask for help. Batman calculates Power Girl’s powers are fluctuating towards a city called… New Gammora! (Actually, sometimes it’s written like Gamorra, but I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be Gammora with two M’s.)

Originally the place was Rheelasia, a crime infested dump run by drug dealers and gun smugglers… until a couple of years ago when someone named Kaizen Gammora took over, turning the place into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. But wasn’t Kaizen turned into Regulus in the pages of “Team 7”?! I can think of two explanations for this. 1) After being beaten by the Birds of Prey, Kaizen and Higgins split apart and Kaizen regained his youth. 2) This isn’t Gamorra, but Gammora. Two different people; no relation. None of these explanations is very satisfactory. If Gammora is some new player, why did he name his city “New” Gammora?

Anyway, this is what happened: After Huntress and Power Girl escaped from Earth-2, Apokolips and its legions defeated the rest of the heroes quickly enough. Their brainwashed all of the heroes, turning them evil. But even if that Earth’s Superman had become a soldier for Apokolips, he still missed his daughter. He managed to create a portal to Earth-1, where he made contact with Kaizen and convinced him to help him capture Power Girl. He gifted Kaizen his advanced technology, nanite constructs, which allowed Gammora to grow incredibly fast as a country. Kaizen just had to release his nanites into the air; if they touched a kryptonian he would be able to steal information and energy from them. Soon enough, Power Girl was touched and this is what caused her to lose control of her powers. Using her DNA, Kaizen started creating an army of clones for his army. This is when Batman and Superman step in.

After being told they must go to New Gammora, the girls recognize Kaizen as “Ken”, the guy Power Girl dated back in Earth-2. The group decides to pay the city a visit to investigate. They go under disguises, but their covers get blown fast. At first Kaizen welcomed Power Girl, acting like her powers went out of control inadvertently because of a test his people were running, like it was all a misunderstanding. Kaizen says he just wants to help Power Girl return to her home Earth. At the same time, though, Batman discovers Kaizen has been grafting the kryptonian DNA codes his nanites have been stealing onto humans; building an inhuman army. And it seems the nanites affect any kryptonian, not just Power Girl, so Superman is affected too. And Superman losing control of his powers equals massive destruction. To contain him, they’re left with no choice but to put a kryptonite collar around him.

While Batman and Power Girl battle the army of Gammora, Superman and Huntress have to deal with just having destroyed an entire street. Superman is either powerless with the kryptonite or uncontrollable; he calls his ally Toyman, asking for an emergency delivery of a containment suit. Luckily, Toyman had a prototype ready from an off-planet theme park he was developing a few years back. Superman puts it on so he’s able to repel the nanites. Meanwhile, Kaizen begins using his nanites in the opposite way; draining Power Girl of power. He uses the energy to fuel a portal to Earth-2, opening a gateway for his masters from Apokolips.

At first, opening the gateway lets a huge amount of energy into the room, so powerful it burns out all the nanites. Problem is, not even Superman was powerful enough to do that. As it turns out, the energy comes from Apokolips, and the girls are shocked to see their home planet has been overrun by forces of evil. In fact, they refuse to accept the portal is working right; that can’t be their Earth.

Kaizen is covered by Apokolips’ energy, which gives him powers and strength. He uses all his might to try to throw Power Girl into the portal, but in the end she manages to throw him in instead. While the quartet of heroes takes a breath and discusses if the girls should go through the portal or not, Kaizen comes back. He’s been turned into a giant, made even more powerful by the Superman of Earth-2. Kaizen brings a couple of Parademons, Apokolips’ soldiers, with him. The heroes manage to defeat the bad guys, but Earth-2 Superman speaks to them from the portal, seducing Power Girl to go to him. When she recognizes he’s actually her dad, she agrees to go – but right when she’s about to, Huntress destroys the portal. She just wasn’t convinced that it was their Earth.

While the girls argue, Kaizen ends up in Earth-2. Due to having failed him, Superman condemns him to a lifetime of torture. Anyhow, with its government destroyed, New Gammora is sure to fall into chaos. Superman and Batman decide the most heroic course of action is to get the hell out of there.

The last issue is little more than an epilogue. While the girls lie in the ruins of New Gammora, arguing with each other, they get interrupted by forces of A.R.G.U.S. Apparently the organisation wants to take New Gammora’s technology. That’s not wrong on its own, but they confuse the girls with Gammorans and start attacking them – even bringing in a tank. Power Girl is super powerful, so the girls are just happy to receive these goons to release their tension on. After that, they fly back to the United States. How very bland.

Next: StormWatch Vol.3 issue 0, written by Peter Milligan.

Hawkman: Wanted

This entry covers the entire “Hawkman: Wanted” crossover, in this order:

  • Savage Hawkman issues 13 and 14
  • Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 14
  • Savage Hawkman issues 15 – 16

Plot by Rob Liefeld; Script by Frank Tieri in Hawkman and by Josh Williamson in Deathstroke

Wildstorm concepts:   Pike WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternThis little crossover picks up where we left off in Hawkman, with Hawkman’s ex, Shayera having captured Carter and being about to bring him into her ship. She also holds Carter’s current girlfriend, Emma captive, simply because Carter cares for her. When they’re about to enter the ship, they’re surprised by the sudden appearance of supervillain Xerxes, who wants the NTH metal. Both Shayera’s and his army start fighting for the captive, but Xerxes is a bit more powerful and knocks Shayera out. In the middle of all the chaos, Pike feels things have gotten too messy for him and starts escaping, but Emma sneaks into his ship and holds him at gunpoint. Seems there was more to her than being a damsel in distress! Meanwhile, Carter starts fighting Xerxes and proves the superiority of the NTH metal by beating him once again. In the end, Emma and Carter tie up all of their enemies (Shayera, Pike and Xerxes) and line them up to decide what to do with them. Carter displays his usual intelligence and decides to leave them there, throwing their ships into a lake to keep them stranded. As they fly away, their enemies predictably decide to team up and resume hunting Hawkman. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, et cetera. The adventure continues in “Green Arrow”, but no Wildstorm characters appear in that one, so we can skip it.

The following chapter begins in Seattle, where Hawkman has teamed up with Green Arrow to fight off the Thanagar warriors going after him. He wants to find Shayera to see if she’ll restore the missing gaps in his memory, and perhaps he will be able to use that to prove he didn’t kill Corsair and end this hunt. Man, didn’t Pike say this was about Helspont attacking Thanagar? Did we forget about that? Oh, well. After defeating some winged warriors in a warehouse, our heroes notice they have portals connected to Thanagar with which they bring weaponry into Earth. Clearly there are more Thanagarians on Earth than they thought, and it can’t be all about Hawkman. Interrogating a Thanagarian, he admits they’re using Earth as a neutral ground for their war against the daemonites. Our heroes steal a phone device from the Thanagarians and track its signal to New York; that’s their new objective.

Little do they know, Shayera is staying in Aeria, the royal mobile castle-city of Thanagar, which remains cloaked in Earth’s upper stratosphere. Some soldiers need to report to their emperor… Corsar! It seems he wasn’t killed by Carter after all.

As it turns out, Thanagar’s scientists managed to keep Corsar alive by replacing much of his body with machinery. He opted to remain hidden though, knowing the charges against Hawkman were his best bet at getting Carter caught so that he could extract the NTH metal from him. Even after all this time, he’s still obsessed with the metal.

Corsar is reported that Hawkman hasn’t been captured yet, so he orders to open up a bounty to Earth bounty hunters. Pike is back, baby! But he’s not the only one who wants to take that prize. Hawkman must face Deathstroke first. Slade picks the job because he feels he needs to fix his reputation after he left Deadborn escape, but he won’t kill Hawkman. He only accepted because of the NTH metal involved; Slade’s armour is built of NTH too, and he’s always wondered where it comes from.

Hawkman doesn’t want help, though. The two of them fight for a while until Deathstroke forces Hawkman to tell him everything he knows about the metal. Slade doesn’t learn much beyond learning it’s of alien origin, but that’s enough for him. When he’s about to leave, the two of them are ambushed by Pike and Xerxes’ agents. Deathstroke is mad that Pike doesn’t know who he is, feeling his reputation should have preceded him, so the two mercenaries start fighting it out. Meanwhile, Hawkman handles Xerxes and his men. At some point, Carter decides to stop holding back – if they’re going to keep treating him as a murderer, maybe that’s what he’ll be. He starts slaughtering Xerxes’ forces, together with Slade, and he actually enjoys it. Hawkman embraces that he was built for battle and that it’s only in battle that he’s truly himself.

Once the killing is over, Slade notices a trail of blood left by Pike and Xerxes when they ran off. The heroes go separate ways, as Slade decides to go after the trail and Carter flies away to meet Emma in their safehouse. However, the place has been compromised. Carter enters to find Emma taken hostage by Thanagarian warriors, and Shayera waiting to ambush him. He gets captured, but when Shayera is about to make him board her ship, they receive a surprise visit: Corsar. Shayera is outraged that his brother wouldn’t tell her that he was alive, and now that it’s been proven Carter is innocent of his murder charges he wants to let him go. Corsar won’t have that though. They fly to Aerie, the royal city, which changes locations from Earth’s stratosphere to the sun’s orbit.

None of the experiments to pluck the NTH metal from Carter’s body work; Corsar is driven so mad that he turns against his sister, and starts choking her. When Hawkman tries to help her, he’s stopped by Thraxas, one of the great wise old men of Thanagar which acts as advisor to the emperor. He’s been the mastermind behind Corsar’s descent into madness. He suggests teleporting the NTH metal from Carter’s body directly into Corsar’s, a dangerous experiment which could risk both of their lives. No one in the room dares disagree, though.

When they begin the experiment, they neglected to notice Shayera had sabotaged the machinery, so the whole thing gets interrupted. Having switched to Carter’s side, she helps him and Emma escape. Regrettably, the sabotage also caused the mobile city to lose stability, so it starts falling into the sun. As their doom gets closer, Shayera decides to sacrifice herself and throw Carter and Emma into an escape pod. Our heroes can’t do anything but to watch as Aerie gets consumed by the sun’s flames, while their pod heads to Earth.

So that’s it for this story. Sadly, we never see if Deathstroke finds Pike, but I suppose it’s safe to guess he never did.

Next: “Ravagers” issues 5 – 7, written by Howard Mackie.

“Savage Hawkman” issues 10 – 12 and 0

Plot by Rob Liefeld; dialogue by Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton

Wildstorm Concepts:     Pike WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star WesternWhen Rob Liefeld takes over a book, you can bet Daemonites or Kherubims will soon show up. This story shows us as Hawkman gets chased by a powerful mercenary… none other than Pike!

We start off in the middle of an arc not related to anything Wildstorm but important for later, with villain Xerxes having trapped our hero Hawkman, Carter Hall, throwing him in the middle of some gladiator games to show off the Metal NTH of Hawkman’s armor to potential buyers. This metal is especially rare, coming from Hawkman’s homeworld and being apparently unbreakable. It has recently fused with his very body, allowing him to turn his costume on and off with a thought and to be extra powerful. Hawkman disposes of everyone in the arena with little trouble, and afterward beats up Xerxes too, saving his damsel in distress, Emma. While they fly away, someone among the public isn’t happy… he was hoping he could buy the NTH metal from the gladiator arena, you know, “the civilized way.” Now he’ll resort to hiring the “kherubim mongrel.” Pike is on!

This version of Pike keeps his old backstory of being a crossbreed, presumably born from the Kherubim slaves who fell to Earth from Lobo’s ship. He features something new, though; he’s a joker. He keeps cracking good quips, and he’s overall more entertaining and superior than his old shallow WSU persona, in my opinion. He travels in his Spartan cycle; a Kherubim flying vehicle very much like Lobo’s motorbike. The Spartan has a mind of its own and can speak, using a female voice to constantly flirt with Pike (is the name Spartan coincidental? Hmm). This Pike is also experienced with the Bleed, having traveled it to obtain all kinds of bleeding edge technology.

In any case, Carter decides to visit Rome to see if an old historian reverend can help him shed some light on the origin of his NTH armour, because he’s lost his memories. Reverend Thomas has a bit of a radical reputation, though. Carter shows him some old scrolls depicting ancient arrivals of Thanagarians on Earth – aliens from Thanagar, where Carter comes from. The blasphemous suggestion that the ancient mentions of angels might have been referring to aliens makes something snap in the reverend, who summons a protector for his church: a crazy masked man called Saint Bastion who swears to kill all the blasphemers. Carter wastes no time to suit up into Hawkman.

This situation is silly to the point of being ridiculous, and the following pointless fight ends with the church in flames and both villains knocked out. Our heroes leave flying, leaving the bad guys “to a fate of their own choosing”. Woah, did they just let them get burned to death? Hardcore. Carter and Emma land in a roof and start discussing that they might have been recommended to that crazy reverend on purpose, to lead them into a trap. Pike chooses that moment to make himself know, shooting Carter straight through the chest.

Pike knows the NTH metal provides a healing factor; he’s counting on it. After all, his boss wants Hawkman alive. They start fighting and Pike hops onto his Spartan ship. Still, the vehicle is of no help for Pike, who gets overpowered by Hawkman. Him and Emma tie him up and track one of his devices to his base, a huge spaceship. Defeated, Pike reveals why he was hired: Planet Thanagar is victim of a daemonite attack, so the royal family needs their prince more than ever. That’s right, Hawkman is a prince! Pike had been hired by Hawkman’s Thanagarian lover, from his past life. Pike explains Helspont has moved to attack Thanagar after his stay in Earth, so the Thanagarians need Hawkman’s NTH metal.

Activating a trap within his ship, Pike releases a toxic gas and knocks out our heroes. The moment they stepped inside the ship, a calling beacon was sent out to his boss, who arrives in majestic ships. Hawkman witnesses as his old love steps out from the ships – and all his lost memories come back to him. He remembers how his real name was Katar Hol; how the Daemonites poisoned Thanagar and killed its king, throwing their planet into a state of war. They led their newly elected king, Corsar, crazy from all the pressures. He was Katar’s brother, and he became paranoid and obsessed with finding the legendary NTH metal that could help Thanagar become the most powerful empire in space. When the metal bonded with Katar instead, Corsar lost it and started attacking him; he ended up getting himself killed. When they found Corsar’s body, Katar became a fugitive. As he escaped from the planet, his ship received heavy fire; the damages caused him to crash on Earth and to lose his memories.

So that’s why his old lover, Shayera, has come hunting him. Corsar was her brother. Now begins “Hawkman: Wanted.”

Next: The entire “Hawkman: Wanted” crossover, including “Savage Hawkman” issues #13 – 16 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue #14, written by Rob Liefeld, Frank Tieri and Josh Williamson.