Issue(s): Quasar #7
Sad but true: i picked up The Terminus Factor, the 1990 Avengers annual event, from the quarter bins at a convention at one point and then i threw them out when i found out that Roger Stern's Terminus story was retconned. Then i bought them again later for this project. That says all sorts of things about me as a person, but the ironic part is that it really should have been this issue that i threw out the first time, because this is where the retcon actually happens (and it was implied even earlier, in Uncanny X-Men annual #12). I am happy to report that when i bought this issue for my project, i didn't buy two copies so that i had one to throw away.
This issue begins with the empty suit of Terminus armor in the Savage Land (it had been piloted by Garokk), and shows Terminus' staff getting activated and sinking beneath the Earth. Meanwhile, Quasar is in the closet, talking to Eon and wondering if he likes him.
Eon tells Quasar about an alien presence that has been intriguing him lately, because it keeps blinking out of existence. So Quasar decides to track it down, and finds Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is particularly jerky, not at all interested in stopping to talk to Quasar. It's worth remembering that the last substantial meeting the two had was in Marvel Team-Up #113, and the two did not hit it off. You might think that Spider-Man would be happy to have Quasar analyze the new powers that have been causing him concern lately, but Spidey would also be unaware that Quasar's powers and responsibilities have changed. And we've seen that the powers themselves, or maybe the stress of having them, have caused him to lash out in his own book a few times. So his attitude here makes sense.
Quasar, however, is pretty pushy too, and winds up getting a punch for it.
Spidey then feels guilty about it, so he follows Quasar's trajectory out to the river, where Quasar has landed in a garbage barge. When Spider-Man arrives, Quasar puts him in a light-vice.
But Spider-Man breaks out of that, and then lifts the entire barge to show Quasar that he means business before flying off asking to be left alone. Feeling dejected, Quasar goes home to brush his teeth with glue while wearing a hernia belt, brushing off his father at the same time that he complains that his father doesn't spend any time with him.
The next day, Quasar goes to make his sales presentation to IDIC, but during the presentation he detects the presence of Terminus arising in the mid-Atlantic. So he blows off his presentation (for the second time now) to go find the source of his readings.
While he's observing Terminus, he's getting information from Eon, but Terminus opens up his energy lance, blasting Quasar into space. Quasar survives by leeching off the lance's energy into his own forcefield, and then he analyzes the lance's energy signature and tries to lock into it. But it turns out that he can only leech the energy from the lance while it's in use, so he's unable to shut down Terminus remotely. He therefore contacts Peggy Carter and asks her to send him Thor. Thor turns out to be unavailable, and Quasar declines when Peggy offers Captain America. He instead sends out the spider-signal.
While he's waiting for Spider-Man to respond, Eon gives Quasar the information on Terminus. And here comes the retcon. It turns out that after Mr. Fantastic hammered Terminus into the center of the Earth, Terminus began clawing his way out and wound up in the workshop of a Deviant named Jorro the Weapons Maker.
It just so happens, i guess, that Jorro's face happened to look a lot like Terminus', and Terminus had Jorro create a duplicate set of his armor and go onto the surface for the events in Roger Stern's Avengers. We don't know why Jorro agreed to this (or if he was coerced) and all we learn about why he gave Jorro, and latter Garrok, copies of his armor is because he wanted to judge the Avengers' mettle and, ultimately, to make Mr. Fantastic his herald.
Which is an awesomely funny idea, but doesn't explain anything. I suspect by "Herald" he means like the slave that Terminus brought with him to Earth in his first Fantastic Four appearance. It's funny; i knew that John Byrne created Terminus to be a "cosmic scumbag" version of Galactus, but i never thought of that alien as his herald. I'll also note that the original "herald" looked a lot like the little we see of Jorro in flashback here (i've already wondered about the similarity between that alien and the body of what was supposed to be Terminus in the Stern appearance).
When Spider-Man shows up, he reluctantly agrees to help, even though he says "150 foot space aliens are way out of my league" despite his new, little understood powers.
Quasar's plan for Terminus is basically just to toss him off the planet.
Spider-Man is only moderately higher up than he was when he rescued the Hulk after punching him into orbit, but i guess being able to look back on the Earth is a pretty big deal.
A little prematurely, in my opinion, Quasar tells Spider-Man that he'll take it from here, and Spider-Man flies home (in a web-glider, naturally).
Then, to make sure Terminus can't come back to Earth, he tries to get Terminus' lance away from him. He's not able to slice the lance with his laser, so he tries grabbing it and quantum jumping away. The process is painful, and Quasar only winds up with the "business end" of the lance, and also winds up near the orbit of Neptune instead of out in deep space like he intended. But he tosses the lance bit into Neptune and then warps back to Earth to confirm that Terminus is still floating helplessly away, although Quasar, probably anticipating the upcoming Terminus Factor event, says that we shouldn't count on him being gone forever.
And that's how it ends. I guess Quasar just gives up trying to analyze Spider-Man's cosmic powers. You'd think working together might have softened Spidey's attitude, and if Quasar could convince him that he really could figure out what was going on, it would really be in Spider-Man's interest to let him.
There's some fun stuff here, although Mark Gruenwald's scripting is just terrible. I do like seeing the cosmic powered Spider-Man teaming up with Quasar, and Spider-Man's attitude at least in the beginning has some grounding in history and current events. But this issue once again illustrates how dumb Quasar's day job is. He doesn't need it, he can't manage it, and it constantly interferes with his job as an Avenger and as the guy who is supposed to be looking for the alien that is hunting Eon. It's very Silver Age-y for him to even be trying to keep a job. He's an Avenger, a former SHIELD agent, and his dad knows his secret identity. So he's got plenty of ways to provide for himself. The subplots with him working on his presentation or giving his presentation, and constantly getting interrupted - they don't add any human drama; they're just agonizing.
And of course there's the Terminus retcon. Nothing in this story justifies it, and Gruenwald does not get a good story out of reversing it. I know that Spider-Man has the Captain Universe powers right now, and so he should be able to defeat Terminus, but Terminus barely even does anything in this story. Perhaps if Gruenwald had spent more than three panels delving into what was going on with Jorro it might have been more justified, but of course the real idea here is just to reverse the death that we saw in Avengers and set things up for Terminus Factor. I don't have anything against retcons, but retconning a good story for a bad one is a capital offense.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A couple of long term notes, probably all easily dismissed as topical. Quasar says that he's been working with Eon for "months". And Spider-Man says that he's had his cosmic powers for "weeks". The MCP has Spider-Man's appearance here between Web of Spider-Man #61 and Amazing Spider-Man #329, placing this during Acts of Vengeance.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showCaptain Universe (Uni-Power), Eon, Gilbert Vaughn, Kenjiro Tanaka, Peggy Carter, Quasar, Shintaro Kuramoto, Spider-Man, Terminus
Love the review. Hate the retcon and a big 'UGH' at the reminder of The Terminus Factor coming up.
Posted by: Robert | April 7, 2015 4:16 PM
I hope that you found those Terminus Factor issues in another quarter bin - what a dog that series was.
I liked the Quasar series overall, but I wish that we learned a new space factoid each issue. The Roche Limit was a nice one.
Paul Ryan was an awesome penciler, and I prefer Manley's newest style a la Bruce Timm (as of Black Panther #s 9-10).
Posted by: Vin the Comic Guy | April 7, 2015 8:16 PM
I don't see why this HAS to go during Acts of Vengeance. Amazing Spider-Man 329 features Loki seeking revenge for his defeat in Acts of Vengeance but it doesn't necessarily have to happen immediately after Acts of Vengeance. Amazing 329 features Loki using a spell to compel the Tri-Sentinel to destroy New York but Thor 414 takes place a few hours after the end of Acts of Vengeance and features Loki in the guise of a mortal crimelord- it's weird if both plots are running simultaneously.
Posted by: Michael | April 7, 2015 8:57 PM
"Hernia belt"--ha! But yeah, someone really hiked Wendell's tighty-whities up a fair bit between panels there...they looked normal on the previous page.
Posted by: Dermie | April 7, 2015 11:28 PM
Thanks, Michael. I was thinking of ASM #329 as an AoV issue, ergo if this takes place prior to that, it's during AoV. But i guess just because it has the AoV Aftermath tag, it doesn't have to take place immediately after.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 8, 2015 7:41 AM
I've been waiting months to raise this criticism and I don't think it IS coming from a place of opinion (even though I do love Quasar and hate Claremont) but you lumber this issue with almost all of the blame for ruining Terminus; yet you don't even mention it as a consideration - or even acknowledge it - in the Claremont X-Men annual which is responsible for the retcons and actually causing all these problems for Terminus. It was Claremont who made Terminus not Terminus in both his and the Stern story, it was Claremont who made Terminus "just an armor" that Garokk and someone else used, it was Claremont who undid the decimation of the Savage Land and it was Claremont who made this issue have to happen. Gruenwald didn't really retcon anything here, he introduced Jorro but only because Claremont had already stupidly said it wasn't the real Terminus in the Stern story. Claremont flippantly did all these retcons and this is Gruenwald taking the time to actually try and explain those undefined retcons he'd threw at us without any explanations or continuity in mind.
Terminus Factor on the other hand... yeah, feel free to tear into that. But this is not responsible for ruining Terminus. The greatest crime here is Gruenwald taking the time to go with Claremont's bad retcons instead of tossing them out as nonsense.
Posted by: AF | September 2, 2017 5:57 AM
Unless i'm misremembering something, Claremont just opened up ambiguity allowing for a standard super-villain return, like Doom swapping himself out for a Doombot at the last minute. It's Gruenwald who made the retcon that went all the way to the beginning of Stern's story.
For example, i think it would have been very easy to say that Terminus had another slave creature like the one in his debut, and he stuck it in the armor and escaped rather than waste time facing the Avengers. It wasn't necessary to say that the Terminus that appeared in the entirety of the Stern story wasn't the real one. And introducing a Deviant into the equation is weird and random.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 2, 2017 12:06 PM
In Marvel Age 64, Claremont said "The suspicion is planted that the real Terminus is still down in the Earth's core and he's sending up catspaws to test whoever's on the surface". So yeah, Claremont intended that Terminus was a fake in the Avengers story. You could argue that's not definitively stated in the X-Men Annual but I read the interview before the Annual and came to that conclusion.
Posted by: Michael | September 2, 2017 12:56 PM
But a Deviant wearing "the armor" is ultimately no less absurd than what Claremont presented first with some random irrelevant character from the Savage Land wearing "the armor".
The revelations here are the result of being backed into a corner. Claremont didn't "suggest" or leave it open to debate, he outright stated it was not the real Terminus in the entirety of the Stern story. When Garokk asks if he was the one who destroyed the Savage Land, High Evolutionary and Havok reassure him that it wasn't him, it was "the last guy" who wore the armor and how that last guy wasn't the real Terminus either. I'm not saying anything here is good, as I said it'd have been for the better to just throw out Claremont's revelations, but the stuff here is genuinely attempting some damage control on the actual source of the retcons that came before this issue.
Terminus Factor definitely sucks more though.
Posted by: AF | September 2, 2017 1:09 PM
I hope the business end of this nearly invulnerable lance disintegrated in Neptune's atmosphere because for what we know there could be innocent Neptunians not expecting to be crushed by something like that.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | October 9, 2017 2:11 PM
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