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A Day Unlike Any Other; Let’s Read… Kurt Busieks Avengers!

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Hi! I’m Octo! And when I start a thread like that, you know it’s going to be a big undertaking!

If you asked me point blank, I’d admit that the Avengers isn’t my favourite superhero team. Heck, they’re not even my favourite superhero team created by Marvel in the 1960s in response to The Justice League. I like the team just fine, but it’s always been the bronze medal finalist in my heart in terms of Marvel team books

However… Kurt Busiek is also very close to the top of the heap in terms of being my favorite comics writer, likewise, George Perez is one of the finest artists to ever work in the Laser Soap Opera genre, and the two of them worked together on a pretty healthy sized run of Avengers, that transformed the book from “Where we put the guys who ain’t Spider-man or X-Men” to one of the cornerstones of the Marvel universe.

And despite that pedigree, I’ve read, like… two issues of it, so I’m going in basically blind here.

The Busiek Run kicked off shortly after the… truly misguided attempt by Marvel to reinvigorate their poorly selling, long running books by giving full creative control to all of them to Rob Liefeld, and then immediately and drastically backpedaling when it became clear that nobody asked them to do that, and for a good reason.

In Universe, it follows some time after the battle against Onslaught, where all the Avengers and FF were seemingly killed after being enveloped by a mysterious energy released as Onslaught died. They were actually all kicked into bespoke reboot universes where they loved rich full lives… for about a year when some nonsense involving Dr. Doom and Thor wound up popping everyone back. With the Avengers separating since, clearly the other superheroes of New York proved themselves capable of doing all the heavy lifting in the meantime.

You can read all about it in Heroes Reborn: The Complete Epic, but… you shouldn’t bother. “The Avengers ain’t been around in a minute” is the important bit of backstory here.

And now; on the the front story! Once I read the first issue! Later tonight!
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
detail.jpg


mcu-phase4.gif


Dee-doo-dee-doo
Doo-dee-doo
DEE DOO DEE DOO
Dee-doody DEE
BEE
BEE BEE BEE BEE
BUM BEEBOODA-DUM

We’re kicking things off with a bang in the double sized first issue; the aptly named And There Came a Day!

Well, it’s one of those deals where every act change has a title, but that’s the most accurate one for the kick off to a new Avengers run. You could also call it Once an Avenger or Avengers Assemble or even To Face a Foe, if you want.

Anyway, we kick things off with a cold-open that partly exists to let George Perez show off why, exactly, he's one of the best damn comic artists to ever live; as we're shown several former Avengers (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Crystal, of the Inhumans) are out on a lunch date, complaining about the ludicrous amount of paper-work one has to put up with when a giant psionic demon boots you out of the universe, and then you suddenly reappear one year later like nothing ever happened.

There's forms for that kind of thing, apparently.

Anyway, their pleasant lunch is interrupted by a hoard of furious air-borne trolls.

As is the lunch of damn near every B-and-lower tier superhero who has ever shown even a passive interest in Avenging anything;

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Everyone from Black Panther down to D-Man gets attacked by monsters largely out of Norse mythology, all across the planet, simultaneously. And the monsters all disappear at the same time. nd more to the point, even if there was a group of people around, the monsters all specifically only attacked former Avengers. The entire New Warriors team showed up, and were largely ignored except for the one guy who Captain America on his speed-dial.

Anyway, the mosnters all disappear, leaving a sizable chunk of Earths superhero population to go "Whu?"

...

And we cut to Avengers Mansion, the present home base of the Avengers, where four of the original members of the team (Captain America, Iron Man, Wasp and Giant Man). We also get an info-dump in the form of a news report getting everyone up to speed on why, exactly, the Avengers haven't been aorund (Heroes Reborn happened, and then Thor and Dr. Doom said "Oh... nah", and then Heroes Reborn immediately stopped having happened).

The News Report also mentions that, yes, technically, The Hulk was a founding Avenger, but he also immediately quit the team, since it was a group that was formed in order to beat him up, specifically, and he didn't see that as being a healthy environment for him, emotionally.

Anyway, the OG Avengers are sitting around, enjoying a nice cup of tea, provided by Tonys butler, Jarvis, as they try to work out why everyone with an Avengers membership *except* them, was attacked by monsters out of Norse Mythology, and also being kind of bitter that nobody else thought to do any Avenging while they were all away; it's not like every superhero was zapped away by Onslaught.

To be fair, the Thunderbolts were definitely doing a lot of Avenging. You can read the other thread I made to see how well they did.

Anyway; Janet mentions that since all the monsters were from Asgard, Thors missing, and this is the start of a new Avengers run, this situation is probably Lokis fault. And, honestly, pretty compelling argument; especially when a disheveled Thor crashes in through a window screaming that the Earth is in danger.

image.png


Janet also managed to sneak in a Midgard* [*Earth] joke, which I always appreciate.

Thor doesn't really elaborate on what, exactly, the danger threatening Earth is, but the Avengers give him some Mutton and Mead (the implication being that the Avengers Mansion fridge always has mutton and mead on hand for when Thor is a day) and after he's calmed down a bit, he mentions that yes, the world is in peril, and it's the kind of peril that requires a lot more than 5 of Earths Mightiest Heroes...

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They need ALL of them.

Cap BCCs the entire Avengers company when he calls for an Avengers Assemble, and brings in every (living) person who has ever Avenged, or thought that Venging might be a viable career path, which I honestly think was Busiek daring Perez to draw this page and make it coherent.

And of course he could. He didn't even need to draw everyone fighting a gigantic robot made of outer space in the middle or anything; this was a warm-up for him.

Anyway, once every Avenger who could viable show up has (the Fantastic Four admit that most of their number HAVE been on the team at one point, but they've got their own comic to worry about, and Hulk left an angry voicemail asking to be taking off their calling list and that he has no interest in any crossovers), Thor finally explains why the world is doomed.

After Thor fought with Dr. Doom in order to end the Heroes Reborn timeline, each Hero who had required rebirthing found themselves back where they started from; and in Thors case, that meant the Eternal Palace of Asgard. Which, normally, would have been fine, because, you know... that's his house. But in this case, his reception wasn't as warm as it could have been, since Asgard, apparently, was completely destroyed, and empty of any life; from God to Monster, and the Bifrost Bridge that connected Asgard to the rest of the universe was shattered.

All of which would have been pretty bad on its own, but one thing made it significantly worse;

image.png


The Twilight Sword, the most apocalyptically dangerous weapon ever created, forged by melting down an entire galaxy for raw materials, is missing. The raw magic that runs through the Twilight Sword is so powerful that unsheathing it would immediately destroy and replace the entire universe. It's also the size of a large apartment building

So... umm... definitely something that's thankfully easy to keep track of.

Also bad, but less bad is that the Norn Stones, Asgardian gems that can grant some pretty intense magic powers (like the Infinity Stones, but... lesser) have also gone missing, but Thor knows how to track them; they've been scattered around Earth, and the magic that powers them also opened up a pathway to Earth that also attracted everyone who at least a C+ in Magical Evil to the planet; which is why so many Avengers suddely got attacked by monsters.

It doesn't quite explain why only Avengers were attacked, but, I'm sure there's a solid explanation forthcoming.

Anyway, Thor and Cap come up with a plan, and it's a pretty simple one; split the (greatly expanded) Avengers into five teams; send each team after one of the scattered Norn Stones, and collect them to try to work out where the Twilight Sword went. Probably to Loki... this all really feels like a Loki kind of plan. It's also a pretty basic, GI Joe plot, really...

image.png


Justice is new to Major Superhero Teams and doesn't quite know how to handle himself, immediately ingratiating himself to me.

Anyway, the Avengers do their plan, each group heading to the far corners of the Earth in pursuit of the Norn Stones (Captain Americas team, including Quasar, Crystal, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Hercules and... umm... D-Man) but hit some unexpected snags. For one thing... a sudden tornado made of red lightning over Britain that requires the combined super-strength of Quasar and elemental control of Crystal to defuse.

Also, they just... find the Twilight Sword, which is presently just stuck into the ground outside Tintagel Castle.

Huh... kind of... thought that whole Norn Stone thing was going to need to get resolved first.

The team tries to speed-run this comicbook arc by grabbing the Sword immediately, but find it defended by a hoard of rock-monsters that abduct Wanda before she can react, and the actual villain of this storyline.

It's Loki, right?

It's definitely Loki...

This is a story about a new Avengers team coming together, armies of monsters from Norse myth, Thor's really concerned and stuff from Thor comics is the main focus, who else could it be but Loki.

You name me ONE OTHER incredibly ostentatious mythological arch-mage who wears a lot of gold and green and hates the Avengers just as much as they love theatricality.

image.png


Ah... well... okay... yes... that'd do it.

Morgan La Fey, as Quasar helpfully explained in that image I just linked, is... umm... the one from Arthurian Myth; she was basically the evil version of Merlin, wanted her weiner-kid, Mordred, to take over Avalon, but was thwarted. Basically the same deal here, except that she never really stopped trying, even after 1400 years of steady failures, and even though she's already a dominating warlord in one of the magical Otherworlds attached to Britain.

Britain, in the Marvel Universe, is basically built on the magical equivalent of a freeway turnpike; lots of Magical Demi-Planes are attached to it.

Morgan explains what her plan is and it's... pretty involved, I'll give her that. that she recently learned that the Celtic Magick she wields is, in fact, surprisingly similar to Asgardian Magic; not a 1:1 match, but close enough that she can do some real damaging things that really shouldn't have been possible otherwise; like summon beings from the Nine Realms, steal artifacts like the Norn Stones and Twilight Sword or shatter the Bifrost. The only thing she COULDN'T do, even with the Norn Stones boosting her power, was actually draw forth the Twilight Sword and rebuild the universe in her image; that requires ACTUAL Asgardian Magic to pull off. So she puts together a straightforward, 6-point plan;

1. She summoned armies of monsters to attack random former Avengers
2. This would inspire an enormous Avengers team to be assembled
3. She would then DIVIDE this enormous Avengers team by making some obvious macguffins to hunt down
4. She would personally show up, along with her weener-kid Mordred, to whichever team happened to have The Scarlet Witch in it
5. She would capture and torture Wanda until she released her Chaos Magic, because Celtic Magic + Chaos Magic = Asgard Magic
6. She would use Asgardian Magic, boosted by the Norn Stones, to draw the Twilight Sword and turn the Earth into a Medieval Fantasy Kingdom.

So she does (Quicksilver does get a chance to beat up Mordred a bunch trying to save his sister, at least), and Cap doesn't even have time to stop to think "Aw crap" before Morgan draws the sword, rewrites history and FINALLY takes over the Earth.

Man... he just got out of a rebooted universe.

NEXT TIME: The Knights Who Say "Fe"
 
Kurt Busiek's anecdotes about Perez on this run are really funny. Basically all of them are some variation on, "I knew I was asking a lot, so I tried to at least make this part simple and wrote this as a zoom in on one character, and then Perez asked me if he could instead draw a million characters."

(This particular page was planned as a spread because that was the whole gimmick of the first issue, that it would feature every Avenger ever, consciously linking itself to the past as opposed to Heroes Reborn's misguided break from continuity, but in general that was the dynamic on their run.)

edit:

Here's some of Busiek's memories about this:


 
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Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
I recall hearing that Perez wanted to do Avengers because he wanted to prove to everyone he could do a team book with lots of spectacle in it.

This being after Teen Titans, CoIE and Infinite Gauntlet
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
This book opens with a full page image of four people getting attacked by dozens of distinct winged goblins amidst a field of explosively shattering glass, with every shard of glass and strand of hair on each of their heads being individually hand drawn, and George felt like he had to prove himself.

MAN!
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
clean.jpg

Okay, once again; starting off by heaping praise on George Perez; *look at that cover*; not only do we get dozens of characters crammed into a single image, they’re all completely redesigned and still Immediately recognizable.

Well, Thor and Iron Man are basically the same, I guess…

Anyway, we’ve got people being sick of alternate realities, Kurt deciding to rename every character, and Mordred channeling Scott Evil in this… The Call

Last time, as you no doubt recall (and this story really assumes you recall it), the evil sorceress Morgan La Fey (from… history? Oral tradition?) finally succeeded at doing something she’d been trying to do for 1400 years and conquered England, and by extension the world, by exploiting standard superhero crisis response behaviour and kidnapping the Scarlet Witch to use her Chaos Magic, as well as the stolen Twilight Sword of Asgard, to give Morgan enough of a power boost to reshape the universe according to her own will.

Now that i think about it, it was basically Hans Grubers plan from Die Hard, just with more Nornstones and fewer exploding helicopters.

Anyway, an indeterminate length of time has passed since then, and the world is indeed a 1400-year-old sorceresses idea of perfection; an Anglo-centric medieval fantasy kingdom. Though I guess if Morgan is Celtic it shouldn't really look so much like Britain... and we open on a couple of drunken louts who are on their way to being kicked out of a bar and make a real societal nuisance of themselves by accosting a couple of women... when those women turn around and reveal they have bright green and red skin, respectively, and are also belting out enough radiation to make sure these guys entire family trees are about to shrivel up; and you might think that they are, in fact, She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel (or Binary, or Warbird, or whatever she was calling herself at the time) of the Avengers.

And you'd be wrong because they're The Jade Giantess and Lady Marvel, and this is a world without any Avengers; this is a world with The Queens Knights of Vengeance (definitely a good band name); and they're not alone;

image.png


Do not know who "Sir Fulminator" is, it's possible that this is the one single instance of the script calling for a character and George not penciling him in.

Anyway, just the sight of the Queens Vengeance is enough to make the jackasses reconsider their terrible decision before they pursue them any farther, and instead they should focus on their other hobby; discretely furnishing a rebel army who opposes Morgan La Fey so... good for everybody, really. And Thor Donor the Mighty decides to head back to Morgans fortress; Tintagel Castle because somethings been bugging him lately.

At Morgans fortress, we meet the sorceress and her Stupid Weener-Kid Nephew Mordred briefly recapping the previous issue, for the benefit of any readers who missed that one and is likely very confused, and Mordred, perhaps wisely, points out that while, yes, Morgans plan to conquer the world and rewrite history worked, so, y'know, good job there, everything she's done since then has been incredibly shortsighted, even by the standards of someone who has over a solid millennium of constant failure to live down to. So maybe she should have used some of that reality-warping semi-omnipotence to, like... kill the Avengers instead of just changing their names and outfits and calling it a day. Also maybe she shouldn't have conjured a rebel army to oppose her just so she'd have something to do. Morgan didn't get where she is by listening to her little stupid weener-nephew, even when he raises some good points, and tells him instead to quit whining, she's doing important work; sitting on a chaise-lounge drinking wine.

That's when Thor wanders in to the throne room and asks Morgan, point-blank why, exactly, he, a Norse God of Thunder, is currently subservient to a sorceress from Midgard*, because he definitely knows that he is, but really can't think of why that's the case. Luckily, Thor readily accepts her explanation of "Because I have this sick-ass castle" (she says it slightly fancier than that) and Mordred uses it as further evidence that, yeah, Morgan La Fey is... tremendously bad at being an evil overlord.

Meanwhile, down int he depths of the Castle Dungeon... that's where Scarlet Witch currently is, still being constantly tortured and being drained of her Chaos Magick in order to give Morgan enough razzle-dazzle to keep her domain functioning properly. Which sucks for her, yes, but, as the narration points out... Chaos Magic, as per its name, is pretty hard to predict, and Morgan la Fey, for all her centuries of life, never really bothered studying it, let alone to the degree that Wanda has. So while she can't stop Morgan from siphoning it out of her, she is also able to add a little extra to it, such as a cry for help to any Avengers who might not be completely on board with being a brutal enforcer of a magical God-Queens will.

Completely unsurprisingly; it's Yeoman America who first realizes "Wait a second, I'm not a Yeoman, I'm a Captain!" (oddly, it's not the "America" part that got renamed in Morgans world) and furthermore, bowing to monarchs is completely outside of his wheelhouse and Morgans control over him immediately breaks. And, as his first action after that is to seek out the OTHER prominent Avenger who hates taking orders;

image.png


So realizing that by confronting other Avengers with a strong sense of association with the Avengers, Hawkeye and Cap track down the rest of the Queens Vengeance and tries to similarly break Morgans control over them; to mixed success.

Hawkeye has some degree of success, convincing Monica Rambeau (I legit forget what name she was using at the time), Wasp and Quasar of their true identities and turning them against Morgan. Steve tries to convince Tony... and fails because Tony is currently one of the most powerful men in all the kingdom and has his choice of Comely Wenches at his Beck and Call and everyone is deferring to his expertise because how could ANYONE question Iron Mans judgement and that's... basically how he lives his life anyway so he refuses to acknowledge that anything is amiss.

So, naturally, negotiations dovetail after that, and Tony calls in the rest of the Knights of Vengeance to deal with the rebel element in their midst, which Steve takes as an opportunity to give a proper Captain America Speech to everyone, to convince them all of how great it is to Avenge but not be Vengeful (that's the gist) and is starts to work on almost everyone, especially Vance Astro (alias Justice, but that name isn't nearly as cool as Vance Astro), which Hawkeye notes is pretty unusual, because Vance is the only guy here who has NEVER been an Avenger, he was just a tagalong with one other F-Lister.

Hmm...

Anyway, any potential insurgencies Cap may have been planning falls apart because one of the holdouts is Namor and NOBODY TELLS NAMOR WHAT TO DO! Even when he's being told not to let other people tell him what to do, and if anyone is going to be determining which Imperious is Rex, it's the Imperious Rex!

God damn it, Namor. This is why you aren't invited to more teams.

Anyway, this breaks up the flow of Caps speech and a fight between the Avengers on Caps side, and the Queens Vengeance on Morgans, and, as expected, George Perez just completely fills a page with The Most Stuff Possible;

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Regrettably, Spider-Woman wasn't prominent in any of the pages; she got my favorite redesign by far.

Anyway, despite Thor showing up and dramatically declaring that he definitely remembers not liking Morgan La Fey very much at all now, Caps side of the conflict is vastly out numbered and out-gunned and has to beat a retreat, and as powerful as Thor is, he can't take on Morgan as she's cooking with borderline omnipotent gas, so they have to all retreat and regroup. Which Morgan takes as a clear victory for Team Evil.

But, unbeknownst to her; or anyone else, Wanda is still using her magic to call for herlp to anyone who could get the lead out and free her from her torture dungeon...

And someone pretty close to Wanda just heard it...

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Her long deceased ex-Boyfriend, who also shares a brain with her ex-husband, Wonder Man!

NEXT TIME: It's a Wonderful life


(*Earth)
 

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Do not know who "Sir Fulminator" is, it's possible that this is the one single instance of the script calling for a character and George not penciling him in.

That's Miguel Santos/The Living Lightning/Lightning, and he's there! Look in the top-left, behind Sersi. I think because Thor is at the front of the pack he's easy to overlook as maybe being some rule of cool Thor lightning added for atmosphere, but there's a guy in that lightning!

(He'll have a dozen-ish appearances over the course of the run, which is why I remember him. I did not know who he was before reading this after wanting more Busiek due to reading Astro City...)
 
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