Issue(s): Quasar #6
Paul Ryan definitely isn't drawing him with the right level of menace, but the bigger problem is the scripting, which makes Venom sound like a common street thug villain instead of the hissing manic alien creature that's he's been in Spider-Man.
Venom may have been lame, but the rest of this issue is pretty awesome.
Well, actually, this issue does remind me that i hate the fact that Quasar has a day job, but it does make up for it by showing these hilarious scenes of lonely Eon in the closet.
Then Peggy Carter calls Quasar on his wrist-band and asks him if he'll do another job for the Avengers, picking up another Vault escapee. This time it's Klaw. Quasar initially declines, saying he has to finish the presentation he's working on (for the prospect that he already blew off once last issue), but he quickly changes his mind and flies to St. Louis, Missouri to capture Klaw. Quasar finds Klaw performing some petty vandalism on a Wakandan export building.
To be somewhat fair to Klaw, he does imply that he was hoping to draw the Black Panther out into a fight. But he doesn't seem to have anything special prepared, and it doesn't seem like the smartest thing to do right after breaking out of prison. In any event, Quasar has been powered up since the last time he fought Klaw, and he takes care of him with no problem.
Now, i don't have a problem with Quasar easily defeating Venom or Klaw, even though an appearance by those villains would generally be a three-part, or at least entire issue, encounter in a Spider-Man or Black Panther book. But it makes me think about complaints that Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel is "too powerful". I know those complaints came from fans, but writer Mark Gruenwald here, as editor of the Avengers books, was responsible for forcing her off the team (i know it's a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea). Roger Stern wrote an arc for Captain Marvel about a very powerful but inexperienced Avenger eventually learning the ropes and becoming a leader of the team. And in some ways we're doing that all over again with Quasar, but the difference is that Gruenwald (sort of) forced CM off the team while he forced Quasar onto the team and gave him his own book. I know i sound like i have an axe to grind, and maybe i do. I bring it up because this is a fun issue, showing a Mighty Avenger doing what he should be doing: racing around after the Vault break out and picking up stray escapees. But the ease with which he does it does raise some questions about his power levels to me, and that makes me think of Monica.
Anyway, after picking up Klaw, the Living Laser shows up to rescue his "buddy" (to my knowledge, they've never met on panel before).
Quasar has a moderately tougher time with the Laser, but within a page has located the Laser's "specific energy signature" on his Quantum Bands and is almost able to control him. But the Laser zips away in time, flying all the way to the moon at light speed. Quasar follows, using a space warp to teleport there rather than flying at lightspeed himself. On the moon he locates the Blue Area, which he's heard about from the Thing, but he's not aware that the Inhumans are currently living there.
However, the Laser's trail doesn't lead to Attilan. It instead leads to the Watcher's house. The Watcher is busy trying to narrate this month's What If (What If? #9 - "What if the New X-Men had died on their first mission?").
Already in the Watcher's house is the Red Ghost, who is annoyed that all his stealth is going to be ruined by the Living Laser's blundering.
When Quasar gets to the Watcher's door, he contacts Eon and gets the scoop on the Watcher. Eon advises him to leave it alone and let the Watcher take care of the Laser. But Quasar feels that he ought to at least warn the Watcher (he either missed the "near-omnicient" part of Eon's description or just let curiosity get the best of him), so he knocks on the door, which opens for him. When Quasar gets to the Watcher, the Laser zips through the Watcher's monitoring device.
The Watcher says nothing, and then expels both Quasar and the Red Ghost from his house. The Red Ghost, pissed that his plans have gone awry, attacks Quasar.
Quasar isn't sure if the Avengers are even allowed to do anything about the "foreign agitators" like the Red Ghost, but he doesn't have much choice in the matter since the Ghost is attacking. Now, i know what you are thinking and i am in complete agreement with you: where are the Super-Apes?! But even without them, the Red Ghost has the best showing of the villains in this issue. Quasar is unable to locate a frequency on the spectrum to control the Ghost, and the Ghost manages to touch Quasar's quantum bands, which allows him to phase them even after he's let go. But it turns out that phasing the bands doesn't prevent Quasar from being able to activate them. So Quasar plays possum, and when the Red Ghost turns solid to try to take the bands off of Quasar, Quasar knocks him out.
A very fun issue. Venom, Klaw, Living Laser, Red Ghost. A trip to the moon and a visit with the Watcher. The issue is packed but, as long as you don't mind Quasar overpowering these villains, it doesn't feel ultra compressed.
Here is your Quasar science panel from the lettercol for this issue. Clip 'n' save.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Quasar finds Venom in the Rocky Mountains, fifty miles east of the Vault. That suggests that this doesn't take place too long after the breakout in Avengers Spotlight #26. It doesn't necessarily require it, and Quasar #5 has to take place after Avengers #311 and is one of the stories that is concurrent with Avengers Spotlight #27 (and 50 miles ain't nothing), but i've pushed this back in publication time a little bit. A note for myself in case i ever start documenting What If?: this takes place concurrently with the Watcher's appearance in What If? #9 (vol 2.). It's said that Captain America is unable to respond to the Klaw alert because he's in Washington, which may have been meant to refer to Captain America #367, but that actually happens much later in the crossover and it doesn't have to be a specific reference. Thor and She-Hulk are also said to be unavailable.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Ha, I love that the Watcher is actually standing around narrating the What If's :P
Only a short time ago I would've thought that a stupid, fourth-wall breaking joke. However, in a (relatively) recent issue of Mighty Avengers Uatu's wife actually makes a point about his character by invoking "all those hours looking at alternate realities". I really liked that scene, and by extension like that it is, in a weird way, seeded here.
Posted by: Berend | April 6, 2015 5:45 PM
Brian Cronin recently did an appreciation post about this issue and the What If, which continues the tie-in:
Posted by: cullen | April 6, 2015 5:59 PM
Cullen, I'm so glad you put in that link. I had that issue of What If and had no idea it was supposed to be the Living Laser.
To me, this is the excuse for What If to fall into you project, fnord. But, then again, What Ifs haven't been collected and I no longer own any of them and it would just be sweet to see them, even if my two favorite issues (#34 in each run) wouldn't really count.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 18, 2015 12:10 PM
Erik, having just recently purchased a bunch of the old What Ifs, they are relatively cheap and easy to get. I use http://mycomicshop.com.
Posted by: clyde | September 18, 2015 1:58 PM
Living Laser and Klaw were co-bosses in the Captain America and the Avengers arcade game. I thought Laser's "buddy" comment was a sly reference to that, but the game didn't come out until a year after this issue.
Posted by: Joe | April 14, 2016 9:07 PM
The Avengers arcade game seems to be very loosely based on Acts of Vengeance, since some of the villains in it had only fought members of the Avengers as part of the Acts.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 23, 2016 7:41 PM
Comments are now closed.
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