Issue(s): Avengers #246, Avengers #247, Avengers #248
Storywise, Roger Stern has some fun playing with disparate parts of Marvel continuity. Well, i say Stern, and i consider that a Stern trait, but it's also worth remembering the the editor on this book was Marc Gruenwald, master continuity geek. And it's also worth noting Gruenwald had a hand in introducing both groups of characters used in this story: He wrote the Marvel Two-In-One issues where Maelstrom first appeared, and he helped finish up the run on Thor that brought the Eternals into the Marvel Universe.
We start with Starfox and the Wasp crashing a party that's being thrown by Sersi. She-Hulk also happens to be at the party, having met Sersi at the hairdressers.
The Eternals known as the Delphan Brothers break in, looking for the "witch".
There's a great scene where She-Hulk assumes they're talking about her.
But of course, they're after Sersi, and despite some strong resistance from her and the Avengers...
...she is taken. Starfox and the Wasp are able to follow, but She-Hulk is left behind.
It turns out the attack was just a misunderstanding, sort of. The Eternals are following up on the fact that at the end of Iron Man annual #6, Thena thought they should all leave the Earth for space. They intend to form the Uni-Mind to make the final decision. Sersi was being difficult and didn't want to participate, so the Delphans were sent to "persuade" her.
The Eternals explain their origins (in a way that is a lot easier to follow than the mess in Roy Thomas' Thor saga), and interestingly, Starfox is able to complete some of it. When Zuras and his brother Alars were left in charge of the Eternals after a civil war, Alars volunteer to leave the planet so there'd be no contention for the leadership. The Eternals never knew what happened to him. But Starfox reveals that Alars settled on Saturn's moon Titan, met the last survivor of an ancient race there and married her. He changed his name to Mentor and fathered the Titans, the race of Starfox (and Thanos). Ergo, Starfox is an Eternal, and therefore he's invited to join in the Uni-Mind experience.
By this point, the Vision has tracked down the missing Starfox and the Wasp and sent Captain Marvel to join them. But while Starfox and the Eternals are joined in the Uni-Mind...
...another party attacks, knocking out Captain Marvel and the Wasp.
We learned in his first appearance that his father was a renegade Inhuman. In this issue he reveals that his mother was a Deviant. That's some serious Kirby-cred.
His goal is to absorb the power and knowledge of all the Eternals, but the Vision and the Scarlet Witch show up in time to stop him.
Even when the other Avengers and the Eternals are freed, Maelstrom puts up a good fight due to the fact that he absorbs kinetic energy...
...but through a combination of distance attacks and Starfox's "pleasure power", they're able to weaken him.
I kind of criticized Bill Mantlo for having Starfox rather overtly use his "pleasure power" in Hulk #300, but it seems Starfox is using it more openly at this point. He uses it against the Delphan Brothers in issue #246, right in front of She-Hulk and the Wasp. And in issue #248, it turns out that the Vision is aware of it, and has him use it against Maelstrom in front of the other Avengers.
Of course, as far as they can tell, he's just smiling and making nice-nice, and they already think he's a little weird, so maybe they (other than the Vision) haven't realized what he's actually doing.
Anyway, sensing he's near defeat, Maelstrom calls upon his strange companion Deathurge.
Up until now Deathurge has been standing in a high tower, looking cool (and not at all getting involved in the fight, to Maelstrom's slight confusion).
When Maelstrom calls him, Deathurge throws his shadowy axe, which kills Maelstrom dead. It also passes through Starfox's hand on the way down, causing it to feel deathly cold.
Deathurge then escapes by phasing through the ground faster than Captain Marvel can pursue in her x-ray form. We later see Deathurge reviving a new clone body, like we saw in Two-In-One.
Before Maelstrom's connection with the Uni-Mind was disrupted, he learns some key information that will be vital to his next scheme.
Prior to all of this, we see the Vision meeting with the President (Reagan) to discuss the formation of a new cabinet level position for the Avengers Chairperson. The Scarlet Witch is annoyed and suspicious that Vision isn't very forthcoming with information about any of this, and the fact that he's performing a "man of the people" routine by flying coach and drinking coffee ("The Vision never has a second cup of coffee at home!").
Also, the Wasp gets a call from Hawkeye letting her know that he and Mockingbird have found a new place for the West Coast Avengers' headquarters. It's being built in record time by a group of former Stark employees (now freelance, presumably after the Stane takeover) organized by Bill Foster.
The continuing subplot with Quicksilver has him still dwelling on Magneto's attack on Bova. Quicksilver realizes that despite Magneto's declaration that he'd turned over a new leaf in the Vision & Scarlet Witch mini, he'd done so just after the assault on Bova. Which sort of invalidates that claim. Which is a really good observation and probably a knock on Mantlo's plot. Quicksilver vows to confront his father, which i don't think ever happens. Quicksilver also decides to bring Bova to the Inhumans on the moon for healing.
And here's a key statement that clears up some things for me. When the Vision reviews Thor's report on the Eternals, he only finds one brief reference to the Celestials. "It's as if all evidence of celestial visitation had ceased to be!". Certainly explains why the almost literally Earth-shattering events of Jack Kirby's series don't seem to be remembered by anyone.
There's also a great scene with Captain Marvel revealing her secret identity with her parents.
It's rare for characters to share their IDs with anyone, and it usually leads to all sorts of annoying and unbelievable scenarios when they don't, so it's always nice when they do. And this was handled really well. The shock, the pride, the worrying. All very natural.
Issue #246 was my first issue of the Avengers, and like all of my early Marvel comics it was just this explosion of interesting characters and more importantly hints at the way it was all interconnected. References to Secret Wars and Magneto. She-Hulk showing up, wearing her FF costume. A scene where this guy Hawkeye is setting up another headquarters. Lots of well written character scenes (Wasp's embarrassment at learning she's crashed a party, Monica's scene with her parents, She-Hulk being She-Hulk) but also a great fight at the party with the Delphane Brothers. Issues #247 and #248 were great as well.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place before West Coast Avengers #1. She-Hulk leaves in the middle of this story to participate in Fantastic Four #269-270.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (3): show
Aginar, Ajak, Bill Foster, Captain Marvel, Deathurge, Domo, Frank Rambeau, Hawkeye, Ikaris, Lockjaw, Maelstrom, Makkari, Maria Rambeau, Mockingbird, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Sersi, She-Hulk, Starfox, Thena, Valkin, Vision, Wasp, Zarin
"He never has a second cup of coffee at home!" also refers to an annoying contemporary TV commercial.
I should be clear - that parenthetical "second cup" line was me making a reference to that old commercial (which i know via the movie Airplane!). The Scarlet Witch doesn't really say/think that. I was just noting how close what the Scarlet Witch does think (seen in the screenshot) is to that line.
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