Issue(s): Avengers #271
That said, the way she handles him, and his own inability to take orders from her, will result in a major problem for himself and the team. We see Hercules here accepting an invitation to go to a bar to get drunk by a random truck driver after getting chewed out by Janet. (It's possible that this was originally intended to be the Wrecker with next issue's Alpha Flight crossover interrupting that story, but either way we'll see Hercules in a bar again at the beginning of the Masters of Evil's invasion.)
The Wasp is equally in a bad mood after the argument, which is potentially a sign that she's not handling leadership well (i also don't love her argument that the Avengers could have gotten Namor there faster; that seems to be side-stepping the main point). But in addition to Hercules rubbing her the wrong way with his "shouldn't expect a woman to understand such things" type of comments, there's the fact that Namor had just committed to going to court to face the insurance company that is suing him when he headed off alone to try to rescue Marrina. I find that funny because in the early days of Namor's solo series, he would start a quest and then it would go months and months with tangents and detours before finally getting back on track, and it seems like he still has no sense of timing.
Anyway, the Wasp thinks that she's going to get an opportunity to blow off steam when an alarm is triggered at her apartment, but when she flies there she finds that it's just Paladin stopping in for a visit. She then gets an invitation from the police to talk to Rita Demara, the woman that stole Henry Pym's Yellowjacket gear, and she brings Paladin along.
Meanwhile, Captain Marvel is talking to FBI agent Derek Freeman about Moonstone's escape last issue. She finds out that there have been a number of super-villain break-outs recently.
Derek also asks Monica for a date, and she accepts, but puts it off until next week. She then heads back to Avengers Mansion, where Black Knight is waiting to help her understand her powers. The initial trigger for her request to have Dane help her was getting trapped in Kang's darkforce attack, but this issue has him suggesting that, since some forms of energy that she can turn into, like cosmic rays and x-rays, are dangerous to use around people, that she try turning into neutrinos. And he sends her off to the sun to test that out. Dane is also running tests on his own sword after it demonstrated the ability to absorb energy while fighting Moonstone last issue. He notes the conflict between being a scientist and using a magic sword forged from a meteorite and infused with spells by Merlin.
Back at the prison, Rita Demara's lawyers show up and (rightfully!) protest the fact that the Wasp and Paladin are interrogating their client without counsel, but they turn out to be the Grey Gargoyle and Screaming Mimi.
The villains are able to stagger Paladin and the Wasp (although i love the Wasp ankle-tackling Screaming Mimi)...
...and they escape with Rita.
Some coloring mistakes cause a little confusion in following the plot. The first scene is pretty easy to understand even without the figures colored like grey statues...
...but when the Black Knight shows up to join the fight (Hercules is out drinking, Captain America is off playing easy rider, and Captain Marvel is testing her powers out by the sun!), it's a little harder to guess what's going on.
We're supposed to be seeing the Black Knight's sword reverting the Grey Gargoyle to his human form, making it possible for the Knight to knock him out with a punch.
Issue #277 will provide updated panels for us to cut out and tape over these.
Screaming Mimi is defeated off-panel by Paladin.
During the fight, though, Rita/Yellowjacket is contacted by someone over the Gargoyle and Mimi's CB radio, and told that it's more important for her to escape than join the fight.
(The person on the radio could be Baron Zemo but it could also be the Fixer or Moonstone or someone else, and i haven't listed anyone in the Characters Appearing for this.)
Captain Marvel shows up in the aftermath, and also at that time Black Knight, who we've seen has a crush on the Wasp, realizes that she and Paladin are "chummy".
The membership of the Masters of Evil was spoiled for some readers by issue #8 of the deluxe Marvel Handbook (Jul 86 cover date), but that information didn't give too much away, since some of the villains listed, like Grey Gargoyle and Screaming Mimi here, don't play a role in the larger part of the story. Whirlwind, shown here as one of the recent break-outs, also won't play a role in the core story. Which doesn't mean these character aren't important. A cool part of the Masters of Evil storyline is that it spills over into a number of additional books. And the build-up, beginning last issue with Moonstone's rescue and continuing in this issue, heightens the anticipation.
It's interesting that this is the extent of Screaming Mimi's participation in Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil, and yet she will be one of the members of the Thunderbolts years later. Unlike the other original Grapplers, Mimi had powers not directly related to wrestling, and she was a good pick for elevating above her original status. But between this appearance and the debut of the Thunderbolts, she doesn't exactly have a Masters of Evil level showing, appearing mainly as a background villain in some Captain America stories. Luckily Kurt Busiek saw the potential of the character and included her.
Roger Stern did seem interested in ensuring that there would be a decent number of women in the Masters of Evil. In addition to using Mimi, he's invented the new female Yellowjacket, and even has Zemo sacrifice Mimi and the Grey Gargoyle to get her into the group this issue. It will also be the first real use of Titania since Secret Wars (not counting the mass villain scene in Secret Wars II #7), and of course Roger Stern's creation Moonstone will also play a big part.
In addition to building the Masters plotline, this issue does nice work developing the Hercules/Wasp conflicts, the Black Knight/Wasp/Paladin triangle (granted, both of these play into the Masters story), and begins to develop something for Captain Marvel to do outside of costume besides visit her parents.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins not long after the end scene from last issue, with Wasp discovering that Namor has gone off on his own. Hercules has had enough time to gather some grapes. The final page of this issue takes place "several days later" and begins the formal crossover with Alpha Flight. Captain America is on the road "several hundred miles away" during the main part of this story but he's back at Avengers Mansion for the final page.
Crossover: Avengers: Under Siege
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack Knight (Dane Whitman), Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Derek Freeman, Grey Gargoyle, Hercules, Paladin, Songbird (Screaming Mimi), Sub-Mariner, Wasp, Yellowjacket (Rita Demara)
I thought that Pak and Van Lente did a good job of acknowledging that Herc has a mean side- it's just that Amadeus Cho was willfully blind to it, as he was initially unable to acknowledge the Hulk's savagery and Athena's ruthlessness.
Posted by: Michael | January 1, 2014 4:26 PM
Yeah I highly didn't think that you were just going to change all Mimi's entries to "Songbird" just yet ;p...but at least Stern does use her wisely establishing something for the Thunderbolts.
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 1, 2014 5:48 PM
Loved this issue. Stern had a real talent for enjoyable pairings. Wasp, Paladin, and Black Knight versus these three villains. Eclectic, but it worked well.
Stern wrote a very good, competent Wasp, but he wasn't afraid to show her weaknesses as a leader. Hercules attitude is insufferable from a modern mindsight, but he has proven himself and is a very good member of the team who needs his strength. Hectoring him is not the right way to deal with him, and I think any number of other characters would have known better.
is this the first appearance of Paladin's black and purple costume? It is far better looking than the previous monstrosity although it is stylistically similar. Too bad Screaming Mimi didn't use the same tailor.
Posted by: Chris | January 2, 2014 11:18 PM
Chris, yes, this is the first appearance of Paladin's updated costume. Thanks for pointing that out.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 3, 2014 2:33 AM
This was my intro to Paladin- a guy I consider a cool character, but it's probably due more to Stern's great characterization.
This issue also seemed to introduce Paladin's more "trans-atlantic" speech patterns ("Stoning was outlawed in these parts years ago, old boy") that made me initially think he was British (I think he's considered French now, which is fine with me, a high level English speaker with British affectation)
I'm glad to finally have that Black knight/grey gargoyle question answered for me as it always bugged me. As a kid, I drew in a sword in the knight's hand, rather than a punch.
I liked them trapping the wasp in a turned-to-stone wastebin.
Posted by: kveto from prague | January 3, 2014 5:38 AM
I loved the scene with Hercules smashing the grapes. What kind of damage did Dane think Hercules could do with the grapes?
Posted by: clyde | May 26, 2015 4:09 PM
But the Handbook didn't really ruin it - it just heightened anticipation for this event, in a Marvel Age type of way. It really made you look forward to what the hell was going to happen when that band of heavy hitters came crashing in.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 25, 2015 10:23 PM
I love the Thunderbolts ... one of the few non X-titles born in the '90s to survive to the present (although its been on a break recently...but again although it's coming back soon). And the core Thunderbolts of Moonstone, Songbird, Atlas (Goliath) MACH-V (and up) and eventually Radioactive Man are the best. So it's nice to see Moonie and Songbird have good parts in this, one of the best Avengers arcs ever.
Posted by: Jeff | March 13, 2016 10:05 PM
Every reprinting of this issue over the years has featured the corrected coloring from #277.
Posted by: AF | July 11, 2016 4:21 PM
Fun fact, the French edition of this issue kept the coloring mistakes despite being published 3 years later.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | November 22, 2016 4:34 AM
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