Issue(s): Avengers #332, Avengers #333
We start with a party. Construction has been completed on the new Avengers mansion, and they are having an open ceremony to celebrate, with a combination of super-powered and real world VIP guests. I'm splitting a two page spread in half so that all the guests can be seen:
I wonder who invited Wolverine (but not the other X-Men).
There is a rigorous security system in place for the guests.
Note that there are two comments about the Thing being bigger/heavier. For placement purposes, you could really go either way: it could be an indication that the Thing is now back in his true form (post Fantastic Four #350-353) or it could be that the exo-skeleton that he wore prior to that is bigger and heavier than his real form. The decision will also have implications for Dr. Doom, who is sneaking into the Mansion.
In order to not cause a panic, the word "opportunity" has been chosen to alert the Avengers when there is a problem.
Cap calls the Vision and Sandman to do a sweep of the mansion with him.
Meanwhile, the party goes on. Rage's grandma's cupcakes will (sort of) be important later.
And Iron Man, who wasn't expected at the party, shows up.
When an alarm goes off, he hops over to a computer terminal before his security check is completed.
She-Hulk and Black Widow, observing that, only comment on it as it relates to Iron Man's secret ID. At this point Iron Man is still pretending to not be Tony Stark, but She-Hulk and Black Widow say that since Iron Man is so familiar with the security system, he must be Stark.
While Sandman and the Vision search for Doom, Sandman makes fart jokes.
And then they find Doom.
But Captain America also finds Doom (the possibility that Doom was using robot duplicates was already raised).
And Iron Man turns out to really be (a) Dr. Doom, too.
This story was published three months after Fantastic Four #350, when Doom regained control of Latveria. But he agrees with Namor when Namor says that Doom is currently not a king.
Doom allows the dignitaries and politicians to leave the party. Quasar makes sure that the heroes (including the Owl?!? Ok, it's really Wolverine) don't attack Doom until they hear him out.
Doom claims that two of the Dr. Dooms in the building are really Doombots. Doom says that he's compromised the Avengers' security system, and he's willing to provide the information on how he compromised it in return for a small favor from the Avengers. Doom found out (we saw it in #331) that the Avengers have the ability to travel between dimensions, and Doom wants that ability to rescue his mother. Doom also says that the real Dr. Doom has a neutron bomb wired into his armor, so if anyone attacks him, everyone will die.
Meanwhile, Captain America confirms that the Doom that he is fighting is a Doombot (by bringing the fight into a tank of water and observing that the Doombot doesn't release air bubbles), and the Vision figures out that Doom compromised the security system by sending modular Doombots through an air vent, and then confirms that his and Sandman's Doom is also a bot. So everyone assumes that the third Doom, the one that was disguised as Iron Man, is the real Doom. Except for Rage, because cupcakes.
As Rage points out, Doom never said that the real Doom was in the Mansion, and indeed he's been outside in a limo the whole time. But it's all moot anyway, since the Avengers' ability to travel between dimensions was thanks to Thor's hammer, and Thor isn't around.
Some really weird logic in this story, to the point where i come away from it thinking "It's a good thing that all the strange things that the heroes guessed turned out to be true" instead of "they were very clever". The cupcake scene reminds me that Larry Hama was editor of Crazy magazine; it feels more like "ha ha, here's a strange/funny thing that happened to a serious villain" instead of something that should really happen, especially with such contrived reasoning from Rage. Hama really just didn't seem to be able to handle the villain portions of writing the Avengers. I like his interactions between the characters in the downtime moments, but the main story feels off.
Hama's departure is not announced in these issues, although the next issue blurb does tell us about the upcoming bi-weekly summer storyline that will turn out to be the start of Bob Harras' run.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A huge number of guest appearances, all of which need to fit during breaks in the characters' regular appearances. The MCP list the Hulk as a character appearing, which i think is based solely on this panel (the silhouette behind the Scarlet Witch).
I'm following the MCP in listing it (and like them, have it between Hulk #382-383) but it seems odd for him to be here at this time and we could easily pretend that's just a celebrity guest like Lou Ferrigno or someone.
This should take place before the Sandman quits the Avengers in Amazing Spider-Man #348. Quasar is still wearing his costume from Quasar #18. USAgent's appearance means this probably takes place before Avengers West Coast #69, when he's kicked out (it could also go after Avengers West Coast #74, when he returns, but i prefer it to take place before, because it's confirmed in those issues that Tony Stark is in the Iron Man armor - not that the info necessarily would have made it to She-Hulk and the Black Widow by now).
See above regarding the Thing and Dr. Doom. The comments about the Thing's weight must be a reference to the exoskeleton since Doom acknowledges that he's not king of Latveria at the moment. The MCP seems to disagree and places this after Fantastic Four #350-354, but i am placing it before. Since Dr. Doom is still trying to rescue his mother, this must take place before the Dr. Doom & Dr. Strange: Triumph and Torment graphic novel.
For the other guests (Daredevil, Dr. Strange, the New Warriors, Nick Fury, Wolverine), this just needs to take place during breaks in their regular books.
Thor's absence was probably meant to relate to the events of Thor #431-433, but that's not specifically stated (it's only said that the Avengers haven't been able to reach Thor for "days"). And since beardless Thor appears in Amazing Spider-Man #348, Thor #431-433 must not be happening yet.
According to a footnote, when Dr. Doom is posing as Iron Man, there's a reference to Iron Man #268. I'll assume that Iron Man isn't available at this time due to those issues.
It's also worth noting that at this point it's definitely the case that the Avengers are operating out of a new headquarters, not just the subbasement remnants of the old one. That doesn't mean that the new mansion couldn't have been completed prior to the party, but any appearances after these issues shouldn't show them still using the basement exclusively (it's often vague enough that it doesn't really matter either way).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBlack Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Daredevil, Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, Edna Staples, Fabian Stankowicz, Falcon, Guardsman II (Michael O'Brien), Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Hercules, Hulk, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Jarvis, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Mockingbird, Mr. Fantastic, Namorita, Nick Fury, Nova (Rich Rider), Peggy Carter, Quasar, Quicksilver, Rage, Raymond Sikorski, Sandman, Scarlet Witch, Sersi, She-Hulk, Speedball, Spider-Man, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Tigra, USAgent, Vision, Wasp, Wolverine, Wonder Man
Different strokes. I remember this storyline fondly, and quite enjoy Rage's deduction and Doom's abuse of semantics.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 23, 2015 3:45 PM
I never had a problem with Rage's deduction. He reasoned that Doom would never risk being killed when his mother still needed him to rescue her. Toss in Doom's love of Exact Words and the whole thing makes sense.
Posted by: Michael | September 23, 2015 9:42 PM
"I wonder who invited Wolverine (but not the other X-Men)."
He's Fury's "+1", of course.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 24, 2015 12:16 AM
Did Larry Hama quit or was he fired? If he quit, was it because the Spider-Man office wouldn't allow him to use Spider-Man and Sandman?
Is this Wolverine's first appearance in an issue of Avengers?
I like the UN affiliation and roster structure that Hama gave the team. Too bad Bob Harras would abandon both.
Posted by: Steven | September 24, 2015 9:41 AM
Wolverine previously appeared in Avengers Annual 10.
Posted by: Michael | September 25, 2015 7:55 AM
No problem with the Rage deduction though I did think the Cap deduction was a bit suspect… If I saw no air bubbles coming from Doom while he was underwater I would have thought “Eh, Doom’s a genius, there'll be a full air supply, he could probably fly into space in that armour”. That said I was willing to let that slide as I did find these issues fun enough, while I find the next few years drab and totally unmemorable (I literally can’t remember anything other than the Supreme Intelligence thing). For me these are the last even half-decent Avengers issues for a while.
Posted by: Jonathan | September 25, 2015 8:03 AM
Larry Hama had a good ear for voicing characters. And Herb Trimpe did a creditable job on the pencils.
Doom is ALWAYS a man of his word.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | October 4, 2015 5:33 PM
This was the point, after five solid years of collecting Avengers, I said, meh, if they're doing the bi-weekly thing again, I give up. I was too busy buying back issues all the way back to before #150 to bother to continue with what they were doing. Unlike X-Men, I never did buy another Avengers issue after this and nothing I have seen or heard (e.g. The Crossing) convinces me that I was wrong.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 15, 2015 7:07 AM
If you missed the maxi-series "Avengers Forever" and the entire Busiek/Perex run on the Avengers, you really missed out on some great stuff, Erik! Unfortunately, that's not until 1998 or so...
Posted by: Bill | December 15, 2015 11:31 AM
@Bill - I have read both. I think the Busiek / Perez is solid (especially the art), but it didn't intrigue me enough to think I ever needed to buy it. I have mixed feelings about Avengers Forever - I think parts of it are fascinating and speak to my love of continuity but other parts are kind of a mess. Plus, I am a big fan of Hank Pym, so the series doesn't work as well for me because of that.
I didn't mean to imply that everything from here on is bad. It's just that, unlike two of my other big loves, JLA (the new series post Final Crisis) or X-Men (Whedon's run on Astonishing), there hasn't been anything so good that it actually made me start buying comics again as they came out.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 16, 2015 6:29 AM
Ugh, it's sad the lengths Hama went to to try to promote Rage.
Posted by: kveto | January 2, 2017 12:36 AM
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