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Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We’ve got Jarvis making a change in someones life for the price of a cup of coffee a day, a return of the second best name in Blaxploitation Supervillainy, and make-overs makeovers MAKEOVERS in… TURBULENCE

So kicking things off, remember a few issues ago when we opened on Jarvis, the Avengers Butler getting a mysterious letter from Costa Verde, fictional South American country briefly conquered by Magneto back in the 60s? Well… we’re finally getting some payoff on that!

And it’s less of a dramatic reveal and more of an “aww, thats nice” thing. Turns out it was a postcard from a child he sponsored who is travelling to New York to continue her schooling. Jarvis is a private butler for one of the wealthiest people in America, and the primary support staff for the worlds most powerful super team, so I assume he’d been giving more than the advertised Cup of Coffee a Day fee.

Anyway, Jarvis has requested the day off so he can meet he sponsored child, l’il Maria De Guadalupe Santiago, at the airport in person.

Also requesting a bit of time off from the Avengers is Thor; as readers of the then-current Thor run know; he’s picked up a side hustle as an Ambulance driver in a brand new not-Donald Blake mortal identity and he needs a bit of personal time to acclimate to having a secret identity again.

Also, Hawkeye read about the Thunderbolts, and them trying to brand themselves as misunderstood heroes instead of the career criminals they had been for decades up to this point and is steamed enough to want to break away from the Avengers to investigate them himself (see the now-classic Not the Heroes who are Most Deserved, Just the Ones Who Are Most Wanted #43, True Believers -Outrageous Octo)

Meanwhile; everyone else on the team got new uniforms courtesy of either Janet Van Dynes fashion company, or Tony Starks military industrial complex.


Vance Astros new look is, honestly pretty solid, and Cap got a new energy shield to replace his triangular one (he likes it, but has a hard time adjusting to it compared to the classic Big Frisbee), Wanda gets a horny and spangly redesign that she says is more appropriate to her Romani heritage (this was the 90s, so she doesn’t phrase it like that, and also I’m not sure how culturally appropriate an outfit that consists solely of a bodice, split skirt and cape is…) and Firestar hates hers as it’s only slightly less naked than Wanda’s.

She later supplements it with a turtleneck and face-mask, but it’s still a real step below her existing jacket, ski-goggles and leotard look. Genuinely like that. She’s also getting kind of sick of Vance Always supporting every decision the Avengers make because of his relentless fanboyism. Vance takes the note but also figured her being upset might have something to do with the fact that he had her endanger her own life by overdoing it with her radiation powers in the last issue.

*Ya think, Vance?!?*

Meanwhile, (and I’m kind of bouncing around a little bit for narrative clarity here), at the airport, Jarvis is watching l’ik Maria’s plane come in from Costa Verde, excited to personally meet the child he’d been sponsoring (legit unsure if that’s how that program works… but this is a comic book with a telekinetic mutant named Vance Astro, so I’m not going to start pulling threads). But unfortunately, Jarvis made the critical mistake of forgetting he lives in Comic Books; and as soon as Maria’s airplane pulls into the terminal it *immediately* explodes and a hoard of guys in futuristic battle armor come out, lead by…


The Silver Claw!

She’s a new character, and we’ll get more on her next issue. As for right now; she has metallic skin and… umm… silver claws.

Jarvis, despite his panic, notices that the armed soldiers are deliberately avoiding shooting any of the civilians, they're just firing blindly into the ceiling, and Silver Claw immediately chastises one of the soldiers who is straying a little too close to actually hitting a person; they're just there to cause a level of chaos and mayhem that would attract some manner of avengeance. Which Jarvis is keen to help with since, well, there's a bunch of guys in future-armor blasting an airport at the command of a feral lady made of metal. That's the kind of thing superheroes are made to deal with.

So he calls the Avengers, and they come a-running (well, most of them, Tony and Thor are busy with their day-jobs) and... they don't do great, as they're immediately hit by a weird ray gun one of the techno-troopers was wielding and, instead of getting... y'know... shot or anything, they find themselves encased in an energy cage, at which point, the actual mastermind of this "Burst into an airport and start shooting the ceiling, and also have a lady made of metal around barking orders" reveals himself, via hologram;



Moses started off as a Spider-Man villain but also went on to fight Luke Cage, the X-Men and... umm... Deathlok; he's effectively Marvels version of Destro from GI Joe; an international arms dealer and developer who is much more concerned with selling high grade experimental weapons than any kind of grander goal. His greatest claim to fame was costing Banshee of the X-Men his powers when he wound up blowing out his own vocal chords trying to shut down an Earthquake machine Moses was planning on levelling Japan with.

He also MIGHT have super-powers, but nobody really knows...

Anyway, the random attack of an airport was really just to draw out some superheroes so that Moses could show off how effective his weapons are against MAJOR threats to help market them on the black-market. A plan that worked pretty well since he captured all of the Avengers in one shot.

Luckily, there's another superhero who happened to be near the airport and showed up shortly after the Avengers got there; Triathalon!

And I was sure I got a screenshot of him, but apparently I did not. But... well... there's a nicer shot of him on the cover than anywhere in the interior, so... there you go. He's another Brand New character who we'll get more details on soon, but he's less of a brand new character than Silver Claw was as he's effectively a new version of a forgotten 50s character, The 3-D Man. Triathalons name is slightly more emblematic of his personality and abilities however, he's a sportsy kind of guy and he's three times as strong and fast as the average person.

Don't really know how that makes him rank alongside, say, Captain America, who is Precisely as Strong and Fast as a Human Can Be.

Anyway, Triathalon runs in and breaks the machine powering the energy cage, freeing the Avengers, leaving them free to resume beating the ever-loving crap out of the soldiers. Which goes MUCH better for them since the issue is nearly over, and especially since Iron Man and Thor have finally arrived.

Most significantly; Wanda flat-out refuses to summon Wonder Man, since she's not really sure if it's his actual ghost she's conjuring, or just her power manifesting as her ex-boyfriend, and if it's the former it's not fair to him (and also kind of... weird) to be summoning him to beat people up on her behalf. And if it's the latter then she's... having a lot of issues to work through.


Also, Cap fights Silver Claw one on one and learns that she's not just an animal-themed lady with claws and metal skin; she's also a shape-shifter who can turn into metal were-animals.

Anyway, Magnums soldiers (the MAGNUM FORCE) realize they're about to get their heads handed to them, so they elect to completely explode the airport and run off while the Avengers busy themselves trying to get everyone out of the building before it can collapse. Surprisingly, Silverclaw also makes it a point to help the rescue efforts.


Once the civilians are safe, amd the Magnum Force is in the wind, Silverclaw confronts the Avengers, armored down, and is... incredibly relieved and thankful they stopped her; she wasn't evil after all; Moses Magnum was forcing her to help him in his attack on the airport by threatening to kill everyone else on the plane; this is also why she was VERY careful to only attack people she was certain she wouldn't be able to hurt during the fight. Furthermore; she's also l'il Maria Santiago herself!

As it turns out, Jarvis only had the one photo of her, and forgot that children age over the course of a decade.

Anyway, back at the Mansion, the Avengers agree to give Silverclaw some free room and board since, well, she and Jarvis have been hitting it off pretty well and there's a free room since Carol moved out. Also she has some pretty cool super-powers and seems like she'd be useful to have around to help Avenging. The Avengers also decide to make taking down Moses Magnum a higher priority since, you know... he's an at-large supervillain who just shot up an airport.

Seems like the kind of thing they should do...

Also they're going to look into this Triathalon guy since he also seems to dislike Moses Magnum and, hey... they got space on the team.


And up in her quarters, Wanda is still mid anguish over how weird and uncomfortable her life has gotten lately, and she winds up accidentally manifesting Wonder Man again, and she decides to do what anyone would in that situation and start a romantic liaison with the spooky ghost of her former lover.

...just as Vision comes into the room, watches them... and then opts to leave.

Which honestly reads more Awkward than Melodramatic.



Power is fleeting, love is eternal
"That was over a decade ago! Before the Avengers were even formed!"

I guess the sliding timeline was in effect by this point.

Oh, and I love the guy staring at Thor just casually carrying a huge pillar after the fight.
One thing I like about Triathalon and Silver Claw is that they feel a bit like throwbacks in comparison to the dominance of characters with nebulous energy manipulation powers during the 90s. Triathalon is a legacy super hero of sorts so he has roots in an older approach to designing super heroes, but Silver Claw just feels like a 70s deep pull even though she's new. (Obviously Busiek already had a lot of experience creating this kind of deliberately retro character from Astro City.)

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
I had to double check to make sure Silverclaw wasn’t an old Heroes for Hire villain; because *boy* does she give Forgotten Bronze Age Villain vibes

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We’ve got an underwhelming backstory, a weird backstory, and a bonkers backstory in.., The Villain Who Fell With Grace to the Earth, which HAS to be one of the most over-wrought titles I've seen outside of a Roy Thomas comic.

Anyway, not counting an in media’s res scuba infiltration of a floating casino, we open in the Avengers Mansion the day after Moses Magnum attacked an airport. And over a hearty breakfast of Froot-loops, new Reserve Avenger Silverclaw recounts her origins;

She’s “the Daughter of the Volcano God” and therefor can turn into metal, anthropomorphic animals.

That’s all she’s giving, and it’s all we’ve got. Don’t know if “Daughter of the Volcano God” is literal or an inherited title or what. Also not sure if the animals she can turn into are specifically those of Costa Verde, but, well… we may learn in the fullness of time.

Anyway, she’s pretty embarrassed at how well the Avengers in particular and Jarvis in particular are treating her (especially given that Jarvis is still sporting a few bandages and a shiner that she herself gave him), but well, if they were going to dismiss everyone who was ever coerced by a super villain into criminal acts, there wouldn’t really be any Avengers left, would there?

Also; everyone notices that Wanda is looking much more relaxed and vibrant today, as compared to every other issue she’s appeared in, after midnight rendezvous with her sparkly ghost boyfriend.

Vision, Wanda’s *other* sparkly ghost ex boyfriend is… trying really hard to convince himself that he’s an emotionless robot like he keeps telling people he is, and that he’s *definitely* not overwrought with emotions after walking in on his ex wife having sex with a ghost (God, I *love* comic books)

Hawkeye is feeling more and more like a third wheel in the team, and realizing that sooner or later he’s going to bristle enough against Cap ordering him around that he’s going to act roughly and is looking for an excuse to leave the team to avoid any unpleasantness.

And Firestar admits to the team what I suspect is common knowledge to readers of New Warriors, but has just been teased in this book; her mutant powers are radioactive in nature and potentially harmful to her the more she uses them; flying and chucking fireballs is fine, but anything more intense puts her life in serious jeopardy. Wanda says she’ll try to help her with that somehow.

And, with all that on the table, we’re off to the main Action part of the comic because Kurt Busiek has a narrative formula that works, dammit, and that’s what part of the story were in!

In this case, it's done because a priority call comes in from the OTHER new character introduced last issue; Triathalon, on the Avengers' private holographic phone-line. Which confuses everyone, because they did not give him that number.


Also; amazing little detail that I love; because Vision is also using the Avengers' hologram emitter to project his body, the panels of Triathalon talking are all shaped like Vision.

Anyway, the reason Tri is calling is because, while the Avengers were sitting around eating cereal and/or recapping their interpersonal problems, he was busy tracking down Moses Magnum to his hideout on board the floating casino/city/luxury cruise Evangeline, and, furthermore, Moses has apparently lost his composure a bit following his loss in the previous issue and has gotten his hands on a giant Earthquake Gun which he is going to use to just devastate the entire Eastern seaboard at the behest of his primary employer; the X-Men villain Apocalypse.

Apocalypse does not appear in this comic, so I won't do a quick recap on him, but his involvement is... weird. Was there a big Apocalypse story going on around this time or something?

Anyway, all that sounds like something that warrants Avenging, so the team (plus Silverclaw) Scubas up and prepares to infiltrate the Evangeline, find Moses, and gentle discourage him from killing people with Earthquakes.

So, the first part of that plan goes off pretty easily (security is surprisingly light on a city-sized Mega Yacht casino), and the rest, unsurprisingly results in a lot of George Perez fight scenes.


Thaaaaat's the stuff.

The team splits up to track down Moses, and Triathalon and Clint wind up paired together, and this lets Tri reveal his own secret origin; which is certainly more detailed than Silverclaws, but still enough that Clint goes "...wha?"; his real name is Delroy Garret Jr.; a former track star and Olympian who won a bunch gold medals. Which would have been fine (good, even), except that it was revealed that he was taking steroids, and the IOC stripped him of all his awards and left him in disgrace (it's noted that he still had a lot of endorsement deals, but he refused them because, y'know... he was in disgrace and everything), and at his emotional low-point he found religion; specifically a weird cult religion called the Triune Collective that taught him how to unlock the full potential of his body and thus triple his speed and strength.

Clint thinks this is a pretty implausible story, but Triathalon IS three times stronger and faster than an Olympic-level athelete, so he can't really refute it.

Then the two of them stumble upon Moses Magnum, strapped in to a giant Earthquake machine, dosing himself with a dangerous level of pure seismographic energy.


I have no idea what a gun that shoots seismographic energy actually does.

Luckily, the rest of the Avengers happen upon the Seismic Cannon room at about the same time, see a raving man glowing with green energy and figure "Oh, there's the guy we gotta punch", and proceed to do that.

Doesn't work great for them, however. With both Thor and Carol off the team, the Avengers have lost their two heaviest hitters, and now that his Seismoplasts are fully juiced up; Moses is VASTLY stronger than he really should be and is able to fight off the entire team all by his lonesome. He winds up having some difficulty when it becomes Wandas turn; however. Her Hex Power has been behaving strangely since fighting Morgan La Fey, and she finally has a handle on how they work; by disrupting other sources of energy; which he can use to severely weaken Moses.

...but she's still vulnerable to people chuckin' stuff at her hear (as that Squardon Supreme annual proved), and she's knocked out when Moses opts to do just that.


...which backfires on him, when Wonder Mans ghost form emerges from her unconscious body and BOY is he ticked off at the guy what just whacked his girlfriend with computer; leading to him just clobbering Moses so hard he lands on a distant island off the Evangline.

When he recovers, Moses starts panicking; not because a furious, super strong ghost made of solid Kirby Krackle just punched him, like, a solid nautical mile and is coming back to beat on him again, and more because he's standing on solid land.

As it turns out, and I have been trying to figure out if this is just a flippin' WILD retcon or something that was referenced anywhere, Moses Magnum wasn't just trying to add Apocalypse to his list of Preferred Customers for his international war profiteering business; he's been a servant of Apocalypse from the get-go (to be fair; having a global arms merchant on his staff IS a pretty Apocalypse-y thing to do), but Moses has had such a long history of failure that Mr. Sabah Nur decided to terminate his employment, and also Moses. And because Apocalypse tends not to understate things, he did this by giving Moses uncontrollable Earthquake powers so that the moment he set foot on solid ground, he'd lose control of them and be immediately killed by the resultant tremors; but so would a sizable chunk of local georgraphy, which is a win-win in Apocalypses' book.

Anyway, this is also why Moses was so fixated on Earthquake bombs; he was constantly trying to siphon off his own Seismic energy so he doesn't shake himself to pieces.

Well, moot point now, as being on the ground was enough to trigger his powers and a massive sinkhole opens up under his feet and sucks him deep within the earth. And since this is the LAST appearance of Moses Magnum, I suppose he dies.

Cap doesn';t really mourn Moses, saying that, sure, the Avengers *absolutely* could have helped save him if they'd known ANY PART of that backstory, but instead fo looking for help, Moses opted to use his health condition to try to murder a vast number of people in order to appease a guy who literally calls himself "Apocalypse" and resume trying to topple human civilization so... screw him.

And back at the base, the team bids farewell to Silverclaw, since she came to New York to attend university, not Avenge things, and figures it's time she get started on that. And they also bid farewell to Hawkeye, as he left a "Later, taters" note on the fridge so he can track down the Thunderbolts and mentor them, figuring that the new kids on the Avengers team more than compensate for the loss of a carny sharp-shooter with a chip on his shoulder.

NEXT TIME: Avengeful Lampoons Family Vacation
The Moses Magnum-Apocalypse connection comes from Classic X-Men. Classic X-Men was a reprint series at the height of the X-Men's popularity that basically reprinted the Claremont run, starting with Giant Size X-Men and going forward from there. This was really useful in a pre-digital age. You could buy today's issue of X-Men, and then also a reprint of an issue from a decade ago that would otherwise be rare and expensive.

But it wasn't just a reprint series. It was also a kind of director's cut that made some changes within the issues and also for a while included both a reprint a new backup story. All the revisions and most of the backup stories were by Claremont, Louise Simonson, or Anne Nocenti, the core authorial and editorial team behind the X-Line at the time, and as a result of that these revisions and new backup stories often created connections between the current issues and those older issues. So, a few months after the Louise Simonson X-Factor issues where Apocalypse emerges as a key villain, there's a reprint of the original Claremont X-Men vs. Moses Magnum story. But two pages were inserted into that story show Moses Magnum getting his powers from Apocalypse, a villain who didn't even exist at the time but who was becoming a big deal when the issue was reprinted.

In this era, there's no big Apocalypse story and there won't be one until The Twelve in 2000, but he's kind of floating in the background being ominous and sometimes Cable has some Apocalypse related business to take care of.
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Power is fleeting, love is eternal
Is it just me, or does the two guys in the casino going "Wh--?" and "Eh--?" look a little like Roger Moore and Sean Connery?


Arm Candy
I'd say it's more than a coincidence, given George Perez's approach to comics.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
The Moses Magnum-Apocalypse connection comes from Classic X-Men. Classic X-Men was a reprint series at the height of the X-Men's popularity that basically reprinted the Claremont run, starting with Giant Size X-Men and going forward from there. This was really useful in a pre-digital age. You could buy today's issue of X-Men, and then also a reprint of an issue from a decade ago that would otherwise be rare and expensive.

But it wasn't just a reprint series. It was also a kind of director's cut that made some changes within the issues and also for a while included both a reprint a new backup story. All the revisions and most of the backup stories were by Claremont, Louise Simonson, or Anne Nocenti, the core authorial and editorial team behind the X-Line at the time, and as a result of that these revisions and new backup stories often created connections between the current issues and those older issues. So, a few months after the Louise Simonson X-Factor issues where Apocalypse emerges as a key villain, there's a reprint of the original Claremont X-Men vs. Moses Magnum story. But two pages were inserted into that story show Moses Magnum getting his powers from Apocalypse, a villain who didn't even exist at the time but who was becoming a big deal when the issue was reprinted.

In this era, there's no big Apocalypse story and there won't be one until The Twelve in 2000, but he's kind of floating in the background being ominous and sometimes Cable has some Apocalypse related business to take care of.
One of the captions mentioned it was in Classic X-Men, but I assumed they meant Classic in the “this happened 20 years ago” sense, not the actual title of a comic.

Given that it’s Kurt Busiek doing the writing; both are equally possivle


Post Reader
But it wasn't just a reprint series. It was also a kind of director's cut that made some changes within the issues and also for a while included both a reprint a new backup story. All the revisions and most of the backup stories were by Claremont, Louise Simonson, or Anne Nocenti, the core authorial and editorial team behind the X-Line at the time, and as a result of that these revisions and new backup stories often created connections between the current issues and those older issues. So, a few months after the Louise Simonson X-Factor issues where Apocalypse emerges as a key villain, there's a reprint of the original Claremont X-Men vs. Moses Magnum story. But two pages were inserted into that story show Moses Magnum getting his powers from Apocalypse, a villain who didn't even exist at the time but who was becoming a big deal when the issue was reprinted.
This is an absolutely crazy thing to do

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We get a celebratory milestone, recaps upon recaps upon recaps, some special guest appearances, and George Perez reminding everyone why they hired him in Pomp and Circumstance.

And we’re kicking things off with the first official Avengers Day Parade, honouring it being one full calendar year since the end of a disaster that nearly ruined the Marvel universe (Heroes Reborn, and I guess also the giant psychic demon that blew up a chunk of New York, but whatever). And this also happens to mark the 35th IRL anniversary of the debut of the Avengers (or “The Tenth or Fifteenth Anniversary” if you’re going off the in-continuity timeline).

Anyway, all that is to say we’ve got a lot of crowd scenes of cheering fans in Avengers cosplay (as you’d expect from George Perez) a lot of enthusiastic nods to Marvel obscurity (as you’d expect from Kurt Busiek, and cameos cameos cameos!

Spider-Man wonders if he should have joined the Avengers, then assumed that The Old Parker Luck would kick in and ruin the team somehow

Daredevil avoids the parade as the crowd is excited enough that it’s overloading his senses, which he explains is why he never joins any teams (except for the ones he does join)

The X-Men are indignant because they started *the very same month* that the Avengers did and the world hates and fears them… except Beast, who has his own float in the Avengers parade

And the FF, are largely ignoring them except Ben who is also livid because the FF were out there first, dammit, and they’re reduced to living in a dockside warehouse instead of a World Famous Baxter Building (see current issues of Fantastic Four or Thunderbolts to learn why, True Believers!)

Also interspersing all these, are there two pages;



You know, because George Perez is gonna George Perez

Attending the parade in person, and generally looking kind of embarrassed by it (except Vance, naturally), are most of the active Avengers! Vision is projecting himself through a camera as he’s still technically a hologram ghost, Hawkeye is off co-starring in Thunderbolts, and Scarlet Witch has gone off to get a consultation on her weird power manifestation and haunted boyfriend problems. More on her in a bit.

Also rejoining the team to make up for Carol losing the position and Clint *kiiiiiiiinda* breaking the law by aiding and abetting known felons, are two other founding members of the team, Janet Van Dyne, The Winsome Wasp, and Hank Pym, Tall Jackass

Now I’m not *certain* if the two of them are going to stick around for a long time (as I said the only things I know about the Busiek run are that Ultron and Kang get prominent roles), but I’m going to hedge my bets and do a quick recap on both, especially since I coincidentally just listened to a podcast about them so it’s all fresh in my mind.

Hank Pym, my least favorite example of both “Shrinky Guy” and “Smarty Pants” in the marvel universe, is an entomologist who wound up discovering a new kind of radioactive particle that let him control his size and strength. And figured “Well, I better fight some F-List Supervillains, huh?” he also got a different costume and code name depending on what he was using Pym Particles for at that moment, as well as his special hat that lets him talk to bugs. Later he was diagnosed with something *like* multiple personality disorder (possibly exacerbated by all the radiation he was blasting himself with) which all the superhero identities were a symptom of. One of those identities is the bee-themed Yellow Jacket, who was a violent lunatic and also smacked his wife. The writer of the issue insists that was just the artists fault and not what he wrote, the artist claims otherwise, so I don’t know who is fudging historical truths here.

He also built the killer robot Ultron, was replaced by a murderous alien spy for years without anyone noticing, and is presently *ludicrously* dead, even by comic book standards.

Janet Van Dyne is a little less complicated but also more bonkers; she was a wealthy socialite and aspiring fashion designer who swore vengeance when her dad was killed in front of her, and who was then discovered to be a Mutant… but her power was “grows wings and bio-electric blasts whenever she’s less than four feet tall”, so it never really came up. When she started hanging out with her future husband/domestic abuser, Hank, and his Pym Particles, she realized she had super powers and figured “Oh Sweet! This isn’t boring at all!” And insisted he start superheroing. Later the two of them helped start the Avengers (she named the team), as well as the on-again-off-again leader and she also designed everyone’s costumes. Later still, the evil Skrull duplicate of Hank exploded her, but she was fine. Presently she’s still a world reknowned fashion designer and only a part time superhero. I suspect she has a rivalry with the X-Men’s costume designer Jumbo Carnation but I think that might just be my headcanon.

She is also perhaps the thirstiest person to ever join the Avengers, a team which has included Starfox, whose superpower is "Induces Horny"

Anyway, they’re in the parade, and while Janet is spotting the same costume she wore back when the team formed (she’s had a *lot* of costumes over the years), Hank is wearing a new one that has elements of all his previous ones *except* Yellowjacket, seeing as how he *really* doesn’t like remembering that phase of his life. He also offers to try to help Firestar with her own problems in the superheroics field (ie; her powers are slowly but surely killing her), and she’s still pretty put out by how Blaise everyone is about the fact that her boyfriends hobby is *assuredly* going to be her death.

Anyway, Scarlet Witch, remember her? And her increasing levels of personal stress because her powers have been *wonky AF* ever since she was kidnapped and used as a living battery by Morgan La Fey, and also she’s haunted by the handsome ghost of an old lover? Well, in case you didn’t we get a crash course on her origins, stretching back to the fact that she was raised by a hyper-evolved cow on the slopes of Mount Wundagore, and also she *MIGHT* be Magnetos biological daughter (this changes on a weekly basis) and then she joined up with the Avengers. And then she had a thing with Simon Williams, and later Vision, and then they both died.

You know, that old saw.

Anyway, more relevantly, she’s relating all this to her old teacher in all things magic, and the pre-eminent witch in the Marvel Universe, Agatha Harkness.

They get along much better in the comics than in the MCU, otherwise, same deal; she's a witch, she's much older than she looks (and she looks old as hell), and has had a checkered past.

Agatha says “yep, knew all that already… but… kind of left out some important details there, yo” (she says it Witchier than that); specifically how, since Mount Wundagore, in addition to talking anthropomorphic cows, is also the home to Chthon; a primordial demonic entity that is the source of all chaos on Earth. And Chrhons influence, as well as her possible genetic heritage, kind of jumbled up her dna *really weird* and instead of Generic Mutant Energy Blasts or Chaos Magic like she would have had if she’d either not been a mutant or not lived under Wundagore, she’d gotten *both*. And her time being captured and used as a living conduit by Morgan means the nature of her powers have started to drift to Magic and away from Science. And that’s GOOD because it gives her powers a real boost in both strength and utility, but BAD because it means Chthons power over the earth is growing and *boy* do you not want any godlike demonic chaos entities waking up. But, well, that's Future-Wandas problem (possibly as recently as 2022-Wandas Problem, I'm going to assume it came up as a going concern in the meanwhile, however).

As for the ghostly appearance of Simon Williamson showing up whenever Wanda needs him, well, that's simple; she ISN'T doing that; that actually IS Simons Ghost, called back to life because of his love for her; straight up Ghost style.


Meanwhile, back at the parade, we get a foreshadowing montage, of Imus Champion being let out of prison because the Avengers wound up destroying all the evidence of him trying to poison millions of people when they... destroyed the means by which he was going to poison millions of people, a mysterious metallic figure complains about their dad, and in what seems to be hell, a horned figure swears vengeance.

We *really* don't have long to wonder about the last of those figures, because as the parade comes to an end, and Cap gets ready to give a speech thanking everyone for throwing him a parade... a giant figure explodes out of the clouds and reveals himself as... THE GRIM REAPER!


The Grim Reaper is... definitely a guy who is MUCH more complicated than he needs to be. For one thing, he is NOT related the the actual cessation of life as a concept (that's Mistress Death), nor is he the avatar of the cessation of life (that's Thanos). He is, instead, a skeleton-themed assassin who works with HYDRA. ...but not Crossbones or Taskmaster, they're DIFFERENT skeleton-themed assassins who work for HYDRA. This is a guy with a big sword for an arm.

More pertinently; he's also the brother of Wonderman, and he has a particular hated of Vision, since Visions brain was built as a replica of his brothers and he thinks that's kind of disrespectful (and also technically makes Ultron his step-dad). Furthermore; he blames the Avengers for his brothers death and consequent enslavement of his ghost.

Grim Reaper is, understandably, KIND OF MAD at a lot of people, and he works out that agression by killing folk with his giant sword-arm. Also, he is presently dead, so this is his vengeful ghost filling the air. But, well, there's a lot of that going around in this run of comics.

Despite being enormous and ghostly, the Grim Reaper has had a particularly bad track record of fighting the Avengers on his own, and even Cap is pretty non-plussed by the fact that he's an enormous ghost; but being a gigantic ghost comes with several perks that ol’ Mr. Grimbly didn’t have access too before; like being able to summon more, better ghosts! Ghosts of other deceased Avengers; Hellcat, Dr. Druid, Swordsman, Captain Marvel, Mockingbird, Thunderstrike and surprisingly, Wonderman (much angrier than in his previous appearances)

Most of them are alive right now, incidentally.

Also this is happening in the last couple pages of the comic so the undead Avengers wind up beating the ever cussin’ mustard out of our lovely heroes.

Well… hmm…

Wonder what all this is about?

NEXT TIME: Fear the Vengeful Dead

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We’ve got some frantic romance, a reverse Cain and Abel and George Perez drawing some heavy metal covers in…. Always an Avenger

Which *does* open with a recap of the previous issue, as one might expect, but it’s specifically a recap of Wanda’s part of the issue; where she learned that her powers was actually the ability to manipulate the universe through Chaos Magick thanks to her association with the dark god Chthon, and not just Mutant Energy Blasts that weird up probability.

I mean… she does that too but that’s only because she didn’t know she was warping reality; it’s kind of like using a nuclear reactor to act like a hand warmer.

Anyway, Agatha Harkness doesn’t have cable, and the radio in Wanda’s car is busted (explicitly the reasons given) so Wanda is completely unaware that the Avengers Day Parade hit a snag when the enormous ghost of The Grim Reaper (again, The Guy, not the psychopomp) appeared, summoned undead versions of former avengers, and beat the current team unconscious.

She learns all this pretty quickly when she takes the secret underground entrance to the Avengers Mansion and finds the interior in shambles, Jarvis the Butler tied up and beaten bloody, and a team of long deceased zombie Avengers standing over his body.

It’s basically The One Gif of Donald Glover With Pizza.

Anyway, she’s ambushed, overwhelmed and knocked out by the Dead Avengers (or the Unliving Legion, as the solicits tell me). But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

As for the Alive Avengers; they’re still unconscious, and captives of the Grim Reaper, who has chained them each to mountains of screaming faces and skulls, like Perez was fulfilling a lifelong dream to draw Mortal Kombat backgrounds.


Reaper has apparently fully embraced his identity as a try hard edgelord, now as he announces exactly what’s going on here to his captive audience; and while I’m hardly short on kudos to give to Kurt Busiek in general, I do have to give props here; dude revamped Grim Reaper; a guy whose primary claim to fame was “Level boss in the Avengers arcade game” and “dopey costume” and gave him a kind of compelling deal here.

As previously established he’s the evil brother of on-again/off-again avenger, and sexually active ghost, Simon Williams; Wonder Man. And he then later turned his hand from General Fraternal Vengeance for blaming the Avengers for killing his brother once into a lifelong career of being a criminal mercenary with a sword-arm. Well, as it turns out, ol’ Erik (for that is his name) internalized a lot of that at a young age courtesy of their abusive father insisting he was terrible. This, in turn convinced young Erik that he must be the Bad Brother and that Simon must be the good one (blocking out that their dad wasn’t *particularly* choosy with his abuse) and while Simon went on to defy his dads expectations by starting his own science conglomerate (and also getting superpowers, tricked into evil, reforming, and dying a whole bunch), Erik just went whole hog on evil since he was confident he was the Bad Brother, but a lot of his crimes were for Simons benefit because he was sure that protecting the Good Brother was the only decent thing he had in his life.

Anyway, when Simon died, Erik lost his mind to thoughts of vengeance, blaming the Avengers (the names a dead giveaway), then Simon came back to life and died a bunch more times, and Erik came to the conclusion that *clearly* the Avengers had a personal vendetta against his brother; something that carried over beyond even Erik’s own death. And *that* became an issue when, because Simon kept resurrecting himself to help Wanda, he wore enough of a hole between earth and the land of the dead, that Erik could bring *himself* back to life, jazzed up with enough raw hate and ambient Hell Magic, that he also had the ability to raise other corpses of people close to the Avengers and fill them with his own rage. And as the people of New York grow in despair and fear at seeing Reaper having beaten down the Avengers with zombie superheroes, his access to dark magic will only increase.

Prior to this he only had a sword-arm to his name so, again… real improvement both for characterization and threat level. Still put him near the bottom of the list for Avengers villains, but… y’know… better than Zodiac.


Anyway, back at the mansion, Wanda largely reaches the same conclusions that Reapers monologues did because her Chaos Magick starts interfering with the force animating the deadvengers; they’re the actual souls of her friends but compelled to be violent and rageful because of an outside influence, and now that disrupting magic is in her skill set she’s able to break them all free of Reapers control; except Simon, she doesn’t do a thing to him, but, magically compelled to violence and full of Hell Rage or no, he can’t bring himself to lift a hand to the woman he loves.

Also; love the scenes in the wrecked mansion; Perez doesn’t draw any backgrounds (and he *loves* drawing backgrounds of wreckage), just the characters on a solid black void; creepy as heck, and really impactful. Good job, GOAT-contender artist George Perez.

Anyway; the Unliving Legion flies back to where Reaper has the active Avengers imprisoned, and they’re still rendered in silhouette and with dark lighting so everyone is still *completely* unsure if this is good news or bad. Which includes me, the reader, as the previous pages were still *kind of* ambiguous regarding their character alignments still.

Luckily, blasting a bunch of shambling undead rage-filled zombie Avengers had NO negative repercussions, and the Dead Avengers break into the Hell Sphere Reaper had built, freed the active team, and immediately started whaling on Reaper.


And y'know, this book hasn't exactly been thin on Perez drawing the hell out of SICKASS tableaus (even the ones with literally no background whatsoever), but HOW BOY, does he go all out here as Reaper returns to his Enormous Kirby Krackle form and releases a huge blast of hellfire that turns all those screaming-skulls into a hoard of demons that the living and dead Avengers team up to battle.


The sight of Iron Man, fighting on despite the fact that half his chest was caved in (read Iron Man to see why, True Believers) and the dead Avengers not even hesitating to help Avenge despite the fact that doing so *literally* killed them finally lets Firestar realize why, exactly Vance is so awestruck by these guys.

Meanwhile, back at the Avengers Mansion, Wanda is stopped from joining the battle herself by Agatha Harkness (she briefly wonders how Agatha got there so quickly, but remembers that she's a witch, so... why both questioning how), who points out that this entire mess got going because Reaper was able to exploit how often Simon was temporarily resurrected, so, in order to ebat him, Wandas going to have to stop letting him be temporarily resurrected...

By using her Chaos Magick, and thinking back on their entire relationship to realize she really does love him, to fully return him to life.

This plan... works.

Robbed of the hole between dimensions that was powering his hell magic, Reaper is returned to just being a guy with a stupid costume and a giant sword for an arm; and a newly for-real alive and pretty justifiably angry Simon immediately turns on his Ionic form, flies to Central park to confront his brother before he can kill any more people in his name; and Simon gives him a pretty severe verbal beat-down that breaks his spirit.

This is followed by Thor giving him a literal beating that breaks his body; sending his soul back to Hell.

Back at the mansion, everyone is very happy to not have been made martyrs for a murder-obsessed revenant, and relieved that they don't have to fight the ghosts of their dear friends anymore, and elated that Simon Wonderman is alive again. Especially Wanda.

And except Vision, who sees Wanda and Simon embracing and thinks "Aww man..."

NEXT TIME: Housing Crisis on Infinite Earths and then... He Who Thrashes in the Night!
Following up further on the earlier "is there a big Apocalypse story going on?" question because I just read relevant issues: About a year after the Moses Magnum Avengers issue, there is a three issue arc of Cable (#66-#68) where members of this Avengers team guest-star in the context of a major Apocalypse-related attack on New York, and that Moses Magnum issue is their answer to Cable's "Wait, have you guys run into Apocalypse before?" question. So the Apocalypse connection kinda sorta ends up building to something, but later in another book. It's all building to an event called The Twelve that is pretty infamously disliked, although I have not read it. But the those Cable issues featuring this Avengers team as guests are excellent, kind of the ideal version of Marvel cross-promotion storytelling. (Feels like a natural thing for everyone to be involved in, everyone is in character, no one feels extra stupid for the sake of unnecessary conflict, the issues build on previous solo Cable continuity rather than grinding things to a halt, but they'd also be accessible to Busiek Avengers readers jumping in with no context.)

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Okay, didn’t think it was going to be relevant nearly as soon as this, but it turns out Busieks Avengers Forever miniseries starts running concurrently with his main Avengers run starting with this issue, and I’ve also very much wanted to read that and also cover it for this thread.

is it a better idea to start alternating between the two books, or put Regular Avengers on hold and cover that exclusively, as I’m lead to understand it’s kind of… complicated
Avengers Forever has important connections to the main run, but it's extremely its own thing in a way that I think would make it more trouble than it's worth to jump back and forth. If you were just passively reading in publication order, it would be no problem. But for writing about them, I'd say it makes the most sense to find a good stopping point (or as close as you can get, given the cliffhangery nature of these things) in the main run and have an Avengers Forever interlude.

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Probably a good idea. I’ll tentatively say I’ll cover Forever after issue 25, as, judging from covers alone, that seems like an acceptable pausing point

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We’ve got a cavalcade of guest stars and nobody wanting to do their jobs in Lords and Leaders!

First a quick recap since I covered the actual previous issue in my Thunderbolts thread; the Avengers travelled to scenic Wyoming, as they found out the Bolts were there and they’re *technically* still wanted by the feds for being a super villain team. But then the Avengers realized the Bolts were actually good guys (mostly) when the two teams teamed up to defeat the giant robot Dominex. Melodrama wise; Iron Man is still recovering from having most of his skeleton pulverized, Firestar got a new costume that regulates her powers so they aren’t harming her anymore, Vision admits that he was making up the whole “I am a robot and therefor have no emotions” thing for Wanda’s benefit and has come to regret walking in on her and Simons non-stop make out sessions, and Simon is charmingly oblivious to all of this because he’s so happy to be alive again.

A lot of stuff for an issue that was 90% Superheroes Punching Each Other and Also a Giant Robot.

Anyhow; that’s not important to how this issue starts; afterall; Vance Astro and Firestar weren’t original character George made up for the team.

Well… Vance is clearly written as an author insert and Firestar came from the Spider-Man cartoons, but more canonically relevant they were part of… The New Warriors!


The New Warriors were Marvels’ Early-Mid 90s version of the “Teen Superheroes Who Won’t Let Any Adults Tell Them What To Do” team. Not quite the most popular version of that particular archetype (arguably not even Marvels most popular take on that idea in the mid-90s), but it has its fans.

From left to right we have;
Speedball- bouncy chatterbox. Basically the teams Spider-Man, but without the angst. Later on he makes up for that by being nothing but angst.

Nova- Green Lantern except blue and gold. I like him *now* thanks to Al Ewing, but back then he was The Team Hothead

Vance Astro- I’ve mentioned him often in this very thread; pay attention

Rage- No idea. I guess he’s very strong and young enough to still be in school

Firestar- I’ve also mentioned her often in this very thread. You need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

Night Thrasher- Batman except Skateboards. I love him.

Not appearing in this issue (owing to some problems in Atlantis) is the teams *other* female member; Namorita. She’s Namors cousin and is generally less volatile than him and is also a blue, sexy fish lady.

Anyway, Vance and Firestar hadn’t hung out with their buddies in a while since they’ve been big time Avengers, and decided to check in on them, just as the New Warriors were in the midst of thwarting a mafia weapons deal. Which they handle easily since Vance and Firestar are used to dealing with magical demigods and alien invaders at this time; a palooka named “Junior” doesn’t really warrant that much emotional stress.

The Warriors allow one of the mafiosos to escape, since they put a tracker on him and figured he’d be heading to where the weapons warehouse were hiding, and so everyone takes five and heads back to their headquarters; a disheveled warehouse. And that was our cold open so, as per Kurt Busieks Marvel Writing Style Guide, that means it’s time to check in with all the characters personal arcs until something comic booky happens.

Firestar, now that she no longer has to fear her radioactive microwave powers is realizing how fun being a superhero is, and it’s really reinvigorated her love of the job.

Vance, spending some time with his old teammates starts to miss them and has second thoughts if he really deserves to be on the A-List Team

Tony is still in the hospital since he got most of his skeleton busted by the Legion of the Unliving

Wanda is trying to reconcile the weird love triangle she’s in, while also coping with the fact that she’s been using her powers wrong since her debut and is trying to figure out how to invoke Chaos Magick with no professional training whatsoever (surely this will not come back to bite her)

Simon learns he’s actually in a love triangle and decides… not to engage with it and let’s Wanda make her own choices there as it doesn’t affect his own feelings and he wants her to be happy, and besides, he's missed a LOT of good books and movies since he'd most recently died.

And Cap is presently showing up in a Deadpool story so he ain’t around.

This last point is relevant when Tony calls an emergency meeting of the team; an emergency *team building staff meeting* because they temporarily don’t have a chairperson and pointless hierarchies like that has been a staple of the Avengers since the Stan and Jack days.

Anyway, Cap is the current leader and chairman of the Avengers and he is off having his own adventure with the regeneration’ degenerate, and Tony is the co-chair and is also *basically* a beanbag chair at the moment so that means that the Avengers don’t actually have a leader right now. And the rest of the team pretty much yells “1-2-3 NOT IT” when Tony points out they need to appoint a secondary co-chair.

Thor is still struggling with having a secret identity as an ambulance driver so he’s out, Wasp is presently busy in a cross-time battle against several time-variants of Kang the Conqueror (well get to that eventually), Hawkeye left the team to run the Thunderbolts, the last time Vision lead the team he went all Skynet-y, Simon isn’t *technically* an Avenger at the moment so much as he’s sleeping on their couch, and Vance and Angelica are waaaay too green to lead the team.

Which leaves…


Meanwhile, across town the New Warriors tracked the mafia goons to their weapon supplier, which is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Marvels go-to guys for Generic Mad Science Arms Deals; A.I.M. The warriors break in and Perez gets to say “OH BOY!” And proceed to do what he does best.


I’d say that the AIM Beekeepers put up much more resistance than the mafiosos did earlier but, well… they *super* don’t. The New Warriors may be C-Listers but the day any given superhero can’t beat a room full of AIM henchman six ways from Sunday is a *rare* sight.

It’s also an opportunity for Kurt to show off his love for obscure trivia as, among the crates of weapons is a box of Antarctic Vibranium; the super rare Chase Figure flavor of Vibranium that immediately dissolves any metal it comes in contact with (this may come up later in this very story)
Anyway, the New Warriors absolutely humiliate the on-site AIM security force, as well as all the mafia gun-runners and successfully beat every single member of their opposition completely unconscious and are just in the middle of their celebratory high-fives when, in true comic book fashion, the wall suddenly explodes and a Boss Monster walks in to the room;


This is The Lord Templar; and he kind of looks like if the bad guy from Rock & Rule got a Masters of the Universe toy. We'll learn more about him in the not too distant future, but for right now, he wants everyone to know he's on a mission of peace, and he is therefor going to confiscate all the advanced futuristic weaponry created by a bunch of mercenary evil scientists to sell to super-criminals so he can use them to ENFORCE peace on the world.

The New Warriors collectively say "Oh... Nah" and flush with their recent victory attack the Templar... only to get absolutely *pasted* for their efforts; Templar just absolutely wrecks them so severely with a single gesture while no-selling everything they bring against him, that Vance has to run off and call for the Avengers for help because this guy will absolutely kill them without backup.

The Avengers get the call, and briefly debate if a New Warriors villain is really in their weight class (the message cuts out before Vance can get to the fact that Templar is clearly not human and absurdly powerful), but decide to help the New Warriors on the ground that the signal was coming from mid-town so it's not like they'd have to waste any gas getting there.

Seriously, this is their rationale.

The Avengers arrive (also busting down a wall, because This Is Comics and Doors are for Chumps), and confront the Templar, who is happy to see them because he was starting to feel kind of awkward beating down a bunch of teenagers with inhuman strength and energy rays, and decides to show off what else he can do;


Namely that he can turn into a half dozen more guys!

The Avatars of Templar, besides strength of numbers, also each have their own unique abilities; ranging form conventional things like extreme speed and strength, to less conventional things like being made of Krackle, gun-fingers and... um... being pointy, and they choose their opponents well as they're able to fight the collected Avengers and New Warriors to a stand-still; when Wanda notices that, while Templar was pretty extravagant and bloviating before; he's gone completely silent and still while the Avatars are out there and fighting, and the Avatars are trying to block anything that approaches him.

Wanda figures that Templar must need to focus all his concentration on keeping the Avatars manifested, so she orders the teams to just hold back the Avatars to give Thor enough of a run-up to bash Templar as hard as he possibly can.

Which, being Thor, is pretty friggin' damn hard.

Now, the unforeseen consequence of this is that Thor bashed Templar straight through that crate of Anti-Vibranium and caused its contents to spill all over the still active and armed weapons; instantly eroding any safety locks they had. Templar sees this and says "Oh frig... *I gotta go*" and scrams while the Avengers and New Warriors get all the unconscious guys and themselves evacuated, and put up some safeguards to keep the impending explosion from blasting a crater the size of New York City into the middle of New York City.

Luckily they do, so no harm no foul.

All of which is enough convince Wanda that maybe she IS Avengers Leader material

Buuuuuut then we get an epilogue;

The Templar returns to his employers, a pair of mysterious armored individuals that his mission was a complete success; his actual goal was to sow distrust and paranoia among the Avengers, which he succeeded at by heavily implying that the government asked him to steal AIM weapons in order to conquer the planet.

And also Vance apparently had enough a crisis by how badly he was beaten by Templar that he was going to surprise Firestar by giving her what she clearly wanted all along; leaving the team and rejoining the New Warriors... only for FIrestar to show up and surprise HIM by saying she loves being an Avenger now and suggesting they move into the Mansion so they can do it full time.

It's like Gift of the Magi, but with Microwave Lasers!

NEXT TIME: The Boys Are Back In Town

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I read Annihilation before, and Nova had one of my favorite moments in comics of that decade in it, so I stand corrected

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We’ve got buds being pals, ethical concerns on date night, Bland Supervillainy and something I’ve always said as a joke being confirmed canon in… Honey I’m Home!

So we open in media’s res with a hulking Armored figure busting up downtown Manhattan, bragging that nothing can stop him. His name is Pagan and… we’ll get to him a little later.


…which we learn via Sergio Aragon’s-style margin panels where Perez says he wants to draw a big exciting action sequence *now* and Busiek says he has to get through all the sub-plot development first.

Y’all, I was *joking* every time I said that they were doing that before.

The *actual* opening to the issue is a big double-page spread of X-Men mainstay, former Avenger, and current Furry Kissinger, Hank McCoy; The Beast!


Hank was one of the founding members of the X-Men, back when his superpowers were “Kind of Gorilla Shaped” and he was the team Smarty Pants, just a lot more free spirited and fun to be around than other Silver Age Geniuses. Then he accidentally made himself furry because of some ill-considered effort to stop some corporate espionage, then he joined the Avengers (X-Men was cancelled at the time) and then rejoined the X-Men where he resumed being a fun, furry super genius.

Then he gradually became a bit more of an asshole when confronted by a few too many attempts at mutant genocide and now he’s basically Krakoas Henry Kissinger, a man who the Watcher came down from the moon and violated his Do Not Interfere vow just in order to personally call him an asshole.

But this is still the late 90s, so he’s still in his Goofy Furball mode, albeit a goofy furball who is actively searching for the cure to a mutant-targeting super-virus. And, more pertinently; he was Simon Williams’ best friend when they were both active Avengers. He apparently took Simons death pretty hard and *hooo boy* is he excited to learn his buddies back.


Seriously, Wanda wasn’t half as excited by this as Hank is.

Hank explains that his current experiments looking for a cure for the Legacy Virus are going to take a few days to be completed so he took some time off to fly to New York and visit his recently resurrected best friend, and immediately invites himself along on Simon and Wanda’s date night.

He’s much less of a third wheel than you’d expect, really. This is 90s Hank, this is his element, and he proceeds to lead the way on a pub crawl across the city (he keeps ordering non-alcoholic drinks and comments that he’s “much too smart to let that stop him”). At their last stop, a jazz bar, Wanda noticed a few things that are kind of odd…

For one thing, Simon relates a story about how much he loves jazz and how his dad always took him to clubs like this when he was younger (Simon and his dad did *not* get along well and it’s hard to reconcile Tiny Simon as being a nerdy jazz-guy, and some of the people he mentions seeing don’t really line up with his apparent age). Furthermore, Wanda also notices the same person has been following them all night, and confronts them only to realize it was The Vision, using holograms to disguise the fact that a guy who looks like a Christmas Tree has been stalking his ex wife and her new boyfriend all over town.

She takes this with a lot more grace than you’d expect and invites him to the table too.

Vision mentions that he and Simon *sure do* share a lot of the same thoughts and opinions about jazz music, and reminds everyone that they do *technically* share a brain (and that Vision also shares a brain with Ultron, who shares a brain with Hank Pym… lots… lots layers to that). Simon also mentions that, while he can’t really remember or explain it, he’s pretty sure he was *kind of* a lunatic asshole for a while leading up to his death (citing examples from the short lived Wonder-Man solo series, as per Tom Brevoort) and is really unsure what to do about all that ethically.

He lives in a world full of Space Phantoms and mind control and Onslaughts and the like; and he’s made of pure ionic energy; so he’s genuinely unsure if he’s culpable for any of the bad things he’s done and doesn’t care that he was legally cleared for it; he still feels guilty and has no idea how to make amends.


My thoughts exactly, George.

Meanwhile, over at… wherever Hank Pym is right now…

Hanks been kind of on-again/off-again with Avenging, partly because it’s his wife that’s into the whole superhero thing and she’s presently engaged with a cross-time battle Royale with several Kangs the Conqueror, so he’s spent most of his time at work at a science lab that’s hired him.

A very mysterious science lab that’s giving him unlimited resources and flexible hours so he can do allllll the research he wants. Which makes his co-workers curious because whoever owns this company is riding them all like dogs to make deadlines. The owner of said company, unseen save for their metallic finger, then has the entire organization transferred so that nobody mentions that to Hank; it’s very important he be undistracted and blissfully ignorant that there’s anything amiss at this lab.

Well surely that’s nothing to be concerned about.


Furthermore, the rest of the Avengers are presently meeting with congress, as apparently The Lord Templar from the previous issue didn’t feel like his point was getting across, so he’s spent the intervening time randomly appearing around the country, trying to steal weapons and screaming loudly that the Government told him to do this. And while nobody in congress ever saw the guy before, the public collectively seems to accept at face value, the words of a mysterious yellow space man in Astro-armor who says he’s got a government job.

And then Cartoon Margin George Perez gets his special wish as the flashback part of the issue has finally caught up with the first page and we’re *off to the races*

Our villain this time, as noted on the first page, and in his every consequent line of dialogue, is an Armored brute named Pagan, and he’s here to *wreck stuff*.

And that’s not an exaggeration, literally every line of dialogue is him either yelling that his name is Pagan, or that nobody can stop him on his mission to destroy things.

The Avengers (plus Beast) were on their date surprisingly close to where Pagan started his stompin’ mad rowdy boy rampage, and the rest of the team wasn’t far behind when they noticed a giant Armored guy punching streets at people and figured they’d best get to Avengin’.

Surprisingly, as (deliberately?) one-note as Pagan is, he is frightfully strong, and seems to be growing in size and strength the longer everyone fights him. Even the winning strategy for just about every Avengers issue so far (everyone holds back the bad guy long enough for Thor to punch the bajeezus out of him) doesn’t work…

Then Pagan sees news footage of Lord Templar being broadcast, and says “Wait, Templar? I *totally* hate that guy!” (He says it more angrily than that) and runs off, digging a hole through solid ground; apparently moving quickly enough and leaving a solid enough tunnel that Vision can't pursue him while intangible.

Then it's several days later, and Cap is kind of sore that a Bland-ass Generic Stompin' Guy Style monster made the entire Avengers team look like chumps and vow to do better, and Pagan, apparently has been popping up all over the country, seemingly at random, with no goals in mind except Wreck Stuff and Shout His Name, and that he Hates Templar.

All of which serves to make the Avengers say "What the hell is up with this storyline?!?!"

And then Beasts mini-vacation is over, so he heads back to the Muir Island Mutant Research Facility so he can resume trying to cure the Legacy Virus, and we close out on George and Kurt again saying they love having Beast on the Avengers and it sure would be nice if Marvel Editorial let them put him on the Team, huh?

NEXT TIME: So What's Up With Pagan and Templar, eh?


Man, what is up with those villains? I've never heard of them. Are they Busiek-style callbacks to some one-time 1970s appearances or just random nobodies that are bad enough to almost stomp the Avengaboys?


Arm Candy

I was going to ask if that included all the porno theatres and strip clubs, but I guess Rudy Guiliani had kicked them all out by then.
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Man, what is up with those villains? I've never heard of them. Are they Busiek-style callbacks to some one-time 1970s appearances or just random nobodies that are bad enough to almost stomp the Avengaboys?

Early hints of the Triune Understanding story that develops throughout this run but that no one has really revisited post-Busiek, so you wouldn't know if if you haven't read this.

The nostalgia cycle does mean that now the time is ripe for someone to bring it back, though. It's old and obscure enough to now be the equivalent of the kind of nostalgic references Bendis and Hickman did for their own Avengers soft reboots (or that Busiek did for his), instead of "why are you just redoing Busiek's run again"?

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To be fair, in any given Kurt Busiek comics, any character you don’t immediately recognize has at least a 70% chance of being a throwback nobody recognizes.

The most recent Marvel by the Month podcast covered the first appearance of Imus Champion, and imagine my surprise that there was one
Oh yeah it's totally understandable to think that, because he both does that and also knows how to evoke that feeling even when he isn't actually doing that. He knows his continuity, but, like with Silverclaw, he creates a lot of characters that feel like they could be deep cuts but aren't. (And then there's Astro City, which is a whole comic book series made up of just that.) Or sometimes it's a kind of mix of both, like with Triathalon, a legacy hero following in the footsteps of a character no one really remembers.