Issue(s): Avengers #263
Being very new to comics i wasn't yet all that familiar with the Phoenix saga (aside from some flashbacks in issues of Alpha Flight), so the big reveal at the end of this issue, showing Jean Grey...
...didn't have any special significance. Aside from that end scene, this issue is mostly set-up, so more on all of that in the FF entry.
The issue begins with a classic red herring, showing the Enclave crashing into Jamaica Bay while trying to flee from the police.
That begins a series of explosions coming out of the water, which are initially assumed to be due to one of the Enclave's experiments, especially after Captain Marvel discovers a mattress sized mass covered in barnacles, which is what the cocoons that produced Adam Warlock and Her looked like.
Much of the action this issue is therefore the Avengers (which handily includes the recently added Sub-Mariner) underwater...
...pushing against blobs of colored light as they try to approach the cocoon.
While that is happening, though, Captain Marvel learns from Professor Shinski (the only member of the Enclave that is conscious after the crash), that they would have had nothing to do with the new disturbance in the bay. At the same time, the Wasp notes the fear in the telepathic "voice" of the thing in the cocoon and makes the controversial (to Hercules, anyway) call to back off.
When she tells it that the Avengers are only there to help, it stops resisting and reveals a capsule underneath what it turns out actually was an old mattress covered in barnacles.
I should say that in the following FF issue, the defenses of the pod Jean is in are described as possibly being separate from Jean's own powers, and if you combine that with the end scene from Classic X-Men #43, it's possible that means that the Phoenix Force should get a Character Appearing tag here, although i haven't done so.
The Avengers fighting a mattress for 20 pages may not sound very exciting, but Roger Stern just loads the book with character moments. For example, there's the Wasp's diplomacy (and the Black Knight's crush).
Stern actually gets a lot of mileage out of the Sub-Mariner's joining the team. A nice scene with Namor demanding Hercules' bedroom...
...another scene with Namor not being able to follow orders very well, and getting "humbled" because of it...
...and another humbling when Hercules does better against Jean's telekinesis than him.
In addition to all that, we're introduced to FBI agent Derek Freeman, who will be a recurring character...
...and a Scourge victim. This one is the Melter, making this possibly the highest profile Scourge killing (the guy was an original Master of Evil, ferchrissake!).
There's only so many ways that i can say that i love the Buscema/Palmer art pairing on these issues, but i will note that they do manage to pull off the fight with Jean's telekinesis bubbles in such a way that it never really made me think there was anything wrong with it until i tried to articulate what was happening this issue.
They do give a lot of attention to Captain Marvel this issue, and seem to like drawing her.
I do love Buscema/Palmer faces.
I should also note about the credits that the idea for reviving Jean Grey came from Kurt Busiek. He's given a thanks in the Fantastic Four issue but he's not mentioned here, so i haven't included him.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly in Fantastic Four #286.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
The Melter is one of two Scourge victims I regret, the other being Death Adder. The Melter was rarely used to great effect, but I thought his power could easily be made much more menacing. This being early in my reading, I did not know how significant a character he once was - but Marvel Saga would quickly inform me.
Avengers continues to be a great comic. Since this issue is only to set up Jean Grey's return, it would have been easy for Stern to phone it in - but this is much more than an inventory issue to connect the dots. Great characterization, and many subplots are kept going. Awesome.
Posted by: Chris | October 24, 2013 10:37 PM
This also has Scourge's most obscure victim. the Melter's assistant.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 28, 2013 3:21 PM
Fnord, looks like you didn't have the benefit that I did of having older brothers. Even though we're just about the same age, I was well familiar with the whole Dark Phoenix Saga by this point and to have this issue also be the first issue of Avengers from my "subscription" that my brothers gave me for Christmas sent me through the roof. Jean is back! The Sub-Mariner has joined the Avengers! Dane might soon get some from Jan! It was all good, or at least until after the Olympus saga, when it all went to hell. But these are maybe my favorite two years of Avengers ever, starting right here.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 6, 2015 12:29 PM
This is the best Avengers run of modern times, hand down. I'm also in love with the Buscema/Palmer pairing. I cannot believe they'd get Stern off of this title- this was pure magic. The only (minor) squibble is Black Knight wearing that cape underwater. But it's fantasy, so whatever. I'm just always amused at how comic writers don't "get" underwater and how it would function.
Posted by: Wis | December 11, 2016 1:53 AM
"PHOTONIC light"? Mr. Stern, I wasn't aware there was any other kind!
Posted by: Oliver_C | December 12, 2016 10:08 AM
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