Issue(s): Avengers #312
Ok, that's not really the question.
The answer, of course, is that it's thanks to Acts of Vengeance. This group of Avengers, which includes four members recently transported from the West coast team plus the Falcon, are in the sub basement below the park where the Avengers Mansion used to be. In addition to their external problems, there's also the case of the Scarlet Witch, who is not quite with us.
Note the "three hours" in the thought bubble from Pym. Based on the fact that members of Freedom Force appear in this issue, we're going to have to assume that Scarlet Witch had a relapse three hours ago, not that it's been three hours since we saw her first break out of her catatonic episode in Avengers West Coast #53.
Meanwhile, i can now definitively state that Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner is the mysterious facilitator behind Acts of Vengeance.
Notice also the way Magneto is staring at the Red Skull. This turns into a full-blown argument. To his credit, the Wizard is also on the anti-Nazi side of the argument (contrast, if you dare, with Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #8-9).
Magneto was told in Captain America #366 that this was the original Red Skull, and the Skull is certainly not making a secret of it here. But notice that Magneto can't quite bring himself to believe it; he still refers to the Skull as someone that "styles himself" after the original.
The facilitator stops the argument from going further, perhaps with a secret dose of magic.
And here's your hint that the facilitator isn't really Namor or any other mortal.
I did mention Freedom Force, and here they come. It's really just Blob, Avalanche, and Pyro. They say that with "nobody in charge" because Mystique is currently grieving the death of Destiny after the battle with the Reavers, they are now "independents".
And for some reason, they've come to bother the Avengers. To jump ahead just a bit, we will learn that this is not part of the Acts of Vengeance cabal's schemes.
And now to jump back, here's what they say to the Vision when he floats up to greet them.
The Blob throws the first punch immediately after that. So i have no idea why Freedom Force is here.
The Avengers don't have a guess, either. They lament not being able to call and ask the X-Men about it, since they are thought to be dead.
With the Scarlet Witch being not quite right in the head, this isn't exactly the Mightiest configuration of Avengers. One interesting thing to watch is the Vision's interactions with the Blob (i guess the Blob got the memo regarding the Vision being made of spare parts).
Not the outcome i would have expected, but interesting. And it does neutralize the Vision, who is the most powerful member of the team at the moment.
The others fight Avalanche and Pyro.
Pyro is defeated a little too easily. We've seen before that he can control any flames that have already been created. So cutting his flamethrower in and of itself shouldn't be the end of him.
They eventually switch opponents and Pym is able to take care of the Blob, a little more forcefully than he expected.
During the fight, the Scarlet Witch makes a "fellow mutant" comment that gets misinterpreted by the crowd...
...and the remaining two members of Freedom Force manage to sow confusion by claiming that they are federal agents. They even try to get the police to arrest the Avengers. But then Captain America shows up and says that the two are lying. It turns out that the Freedom Force guys really are "free agents" at this point, with no authority.
Pyro and Avalanche manage to escape, helped in part from a rant from the Scarlet Witch that distracts everyone.
The Nebula subplot also moves along this issue.
I find the Ryan/Palmer art to not be working that well. I generally love Palmer, but the inks here are coming in too strong. This book also just feels like it doesn't have its own identity. I know that the idea behind the book at the moment is the rotating membership, but in this case that's translating to four people that we just saw on the West Coast team plus the Falcon. Add to that the fact that there's literally no motivation given for Freedom Force's attack, which is particularly bizarre since it's an Acts of Vengeance issue and we have a ready-made explanation for any villain attack. Still, while this boils down to just being a random fight issue, it's a fun random fight issue, with some interesting moments.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Freedom Force mentions the fact that Mystique is grieving, obviously a reference to the death of Destiny in Uncanny X-Men #255. So this issue has to take place after. The problem is that Wolverine #19 takes place prior to Uncanny X-Men #251-255, and in Wolverine #19-23 we see that the Red Skull is a member of the Acts of Vengeance inner cabal. And the Red Skull doesn't join the cabal until Captain America #365-366, and issue #366 has Henry Pym already on the East coast, so it must take place after Avengers West Coast #53. It's hard to imagine that all of Wolverine #19-23 and Uncanny X-Men #251-255 all take place in the span of "three hours", which is why i speculated above that the Scarlet Witch must have had a relapse. Punisher #29 was meant to take place during this issue, i think, but it shows Thor, Sub-Mariner, and Quasar (on the cover, anyway) fighting Freedom Force, so i guess the Blob must get better and Avalanche and Pyro return some time after this issue.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
OK, who switched Avalanche with ROM?
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 1, 2015 4:41 PM
It seems this is the heel turn for the Freedom Force. Claremont had a way of making villains become heroes but I like the thought of the Freedom Force being reformed heroes not feeling easy in their roles.
Posted by: Ryan | April 1, 2015 9:39 PM
Fnord, you left out the major clue that it's Loki- the "lackey" remarks that Hank and Jan were present "at the genesis of my shame". I remember thinking "It's gotta be Loki! And he's doing this because he's ashamed that he helped create the Avengers!". That line really made it too obvious- did they think we were all 8-year olds?
Posted by: Michael | April 1, 2015 11:11 PM
Pyro may have been giving up a bit too easily there...but he's not the only one whose powers are getting under-estimated there. We've seen Wasp's sting blasts blow holes through brick walls before--Pyro gets hit with *two* blasts from Jan in that panel, and somehow is still conscious and able to run away!
The only explanation I can figure is that she is seriously pulling her punches so that he'll be awake for interrogation...
Posted by: Dermie | April 2, 2015 12:31 AM
Vision tried phasing his arm into Blob in Avengers Annual 10 as well. That time it was painful for Blob, but otherwise had no effect.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 2, 2015 1:01 AM
Fnord, as we'll see later, the crowd was right about Wanda- she HAS become a mutant supremacist.
Posted by: Michael | April 2, 2015 8:01 PM
Note that this is the first meeting between Avalanche, Blob and Pyro since Vision was disassembled. This means that Avengers: Deathtrap the Vault has to take place after this issue.
Posted by: Michael | April 5, 2015 9:14 AM
"The Avengers don't have a guess, either. They lament not being able to call and ask the X-Men about it, since they are thought to be dead."
That line confused me because the Avengers HAVE fought against Freedom Force a number of times before.
"One interesting thing to watch is the Vision's interactions with the Blob (i guess the Blob got the memo regarding the Vision being made of spare parts)."
Given that this was written by John Byrne, who was trying to push his "Vision is walking toaster" theory hard, it isn't to surprising.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | April 5, 2015 10:48 PM
If I'm going to be a big Byrne fan, I also should call him to task.
He deserves the same criticism here that he leveled at Claremont over his use of Doom - don't make out of character changes to characters being primarily used in another book. It's clear that this doesn't gel with what has been going in the X-books, including having Pyro's dialogue about Avalanche's injuries re-written (complete with spelling error). Also, yeah, the Avengers have faced Freedom Force before and should be more aware. Byrne just didn't do the proper research this time. He should have done a better job or used different characters.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 23, 2015 7:52 AM
I love Jan's costume here!
Posted by: Urban Commando | April 22, 2017 4:22 AM
Comments are now closed.
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