Issue(s): Avengers #258
It starts with the Avengers still in the snowy wastelands where Pangea used to be.
We learn from Ka-Zar that the destruction went beyond just Pangea: all of the Savage Land is destroyed and most of its residents are dead.
Hercules tries to cheer Ka-Zar up by showing him Terminus' remains. I don't think it works, but it's classic Hercules.
The MCP doesn't give Terminus or his Deviant doppleganger Jorro an appearance for this issue. I've decided to include Jorro; a corpse should count as an appearance, especially in a resurrection-prone comic book universe (I may have to update this when i make it to the Terminus Factor storyline.)
Their Quinjet destroyed, the Avengers are returned home by army plane and take a cab home from the airport. They arrive at the Mansion to find that the government has invaded their headquarters and has dismantled their equipment.
This is in response to the Vision's attempted world take-over. Government liaison Raymond Sikorski is more apologetic about the situation than Gyrich would have been, but he does claim a right to be there.
Before the discussion can get too far, the Avengers receive an alert on a back-up line from the police. They respond, and find Spider-Man finishing up with Firelord.
I am a big fan of the Buscema/Palmer art team and i'll be waxing poetically about it below, but their Spider-Man is a bit off model, eh? Those are some powerful arms; i have no problem believing that guy beat up Firelord. The face is a little funny, too.
It's also worth repeating that this scene came out several months before the Amazing Spider-Man issues that showed the full fight. This was a teaser.
Why, you may ask, does the sequel to the adventure appear before the adventure itself! Well, it's just one of those mighty Marvel time twists, along the order of the original twelve issues of SECRET WARS occurring between two issues of AVENGERS. Our stories don't always occur exactly when or in the order they are published, after all. Thought you'd like to know, folks!
The Avengers bring the unconscious Herald back and he wakes up while the Black Knight is examining him.
He's still out of control, but Hercules sets him straight (i love that comedic jaw-rubbing).
With Firelord more or less in line, the tension resolves. There's a great little scene where Captain America has to restrain himself from stepping on the Wasp's toes as leader.
And that's pretty much it for Earth. Meanwhile, up in space, Nebula's crew arrives at a Skrull armada gathered at a planetoid, protected by a forcefield. Nebula orders Captain Marvel to infiltrate the forcefield as proof of her loyalty. It may have been designed as a suicide mission, but to be fair, the Captain was lying about willingly joining Nebula. CM does manage to get through...
...and the first thing she does is use the Skrull's communications systems to send home a message to the Avengers (which shows a remarkable adaptability to alien super-science technology). Nebula's crew jams the signal, slowing it down, and she also launches an "anti-matter torpedo" through the hole in the forcefield that Captain Marvel created.
So just a really nice "moving things along" issue with tons of character moments and nice scripting. And (poetic waxing alert) nice art. Buscema and Palmer are just great; i really love the casual shots. This scene of the team on their way home from their Pyrrhic (see the issue title) defeat of Terminus does as much for characterization as Stern's writing. The way boisterous Hercules fills up the area, Cap's somber posture, the Wasp's body language, etc. Fantastic.
Here's another cool shot, but of course making Rigellians look cool is a gimmie.
The MCP gives Shanna and Zabu, and Nebula's henchman Skunge, behind-the-scenes appearances for this issue. I've chosen not to include them since they aren't essential to the story, but i wanted to note it just in case one day someone writes an Untold Tales of Skunge miniseries (and i'd be first in line for it).
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is going to be a long one.
First, the basic stuff. This issue starts soon after the end of Avengers #257 and none of the Avengers should appear anywhere else in between. It's not said how long Hercules was carrying the Quinjet across the frozen tundra, but when the army helicopter shows up, Hercules said he would have reached the research base "in another day at most".
This issue ends with an explosion at the planetoid that the Skrull armada and Captain Marvel were on. Next issue opens with Nebula surveying the damage on a view screen. However, Sanctuary II was "six million miles" away from the planetoid when Captain Marvel first left it to approach the planetoid. That's six minutes for someone traveling at lightspeed but presumably somewhat slower for Nebula and her crew. Regardless, Captain Marvel is isolated from the rest of the team; the rest of issue #259 takes place "one week later" and so i've chosen to place issue #259 separate from this entry.
Beyond that, i'm using this entry as a focal point for a number of events.
According to a footnote in Fantastic Four #281, this story takes place concurrently with that issue. I'm taking that to mean that that they were still out in the frozen wastes of the former Savage Land, so it's ok to place FF #280-281 between Avengers #257-258. We know that when the Avengers were leaving for the Savage Land in Avengers #256 (which runs into #257), they learned that the Baxter Building was unreachable (because it was launched into space in FF #278-279). And the Avengers arrive home from the Savage Land trip in this issue.
This means that the Fantastic Four moved into Avengers Mansion while the entire team was off in the Savage Land (we first hear mention that the FF have been crashing at the Avengers' place in FF #280, and at that point it's described as something that's already been happening; we never actually see them move in). That raises the question of who authorized the move. Maybe a call to Hawkeye at the West Coast compound? A previously-agreed-upon contingency plan? Simply a nod from Jarvis? Or just an "I'm sure they wouldn't mind."? It's also worth noting that in FF #280-281 we see no signs of the government invasion that the Avengers discover upon their return, even though we saw the government getting ready to move in during Avengers #256. I guess they got delayed (maybe by seeing the FF show up at the door with suitcases) and didn't actually move in until a little before this arc, while the FF are out dealing with the Hate-Monger.
Now, we know that Spider-Man appears here during Amazing Spider-Man #270. That takes place after Secret Wars II #2, because ASM #268 was a SWII #2 tie-in. So Secret Wars II #2 and the Spider-Man "Gold Building" tie-ins, and Spider-Man #269-270 take place between Avengers #256 and 258. When Spider-Man sees the ruins of the Baxter Building in ASM #270, he says it has been that way for "a few weeks", so the Avengers were apparently on the trail of Terminus (and/or wandering in the Antarctic afterwards) for longer than one would realize. The phrase "Marvel Sliding Timescale" takes on new meaning.
Captain America makes reference to having to get back in front of the drawing board in order to make Steve Rogers' art deadlines. That's vague enough that it could be a reference to his commercial art job or his comic book career, but Captain America quit his commercial art job in Captain America #309 and he didn't get hired by Marvel Comics (*sigh*) until Captain America #311. I've placed this after Cap #311.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBlack Knight (Dane Whitman), Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Firelord, Gunthar, Hercules, Jarvis, Jorro, Ka-Zar, Levan, Nebula, Raymond Sikorski, Spider-Man, Starfox, Wasp
I have to wonder if the destruction of Pangea was a late example of Disposing of a Disposable Character(or in this case, Concept), as the previous Ka-Zar series got cancelled despite excellent work by Jones & Anderson, and the proposed direct-only relaunch never happened.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 23, 2012 7:22 PM
interesting confirmation that Hercules is right-handed. I always figured a god like him and thor to be ambidextreous. (as well as Captain America, I figure the super soldier serum would make him ambidexterous)
Posted by: kveto from prague | July 1, 2012 11:47 AM
Was there a Shooter policy that went beyond disposing of disposable characters and actually tried to strip "genre" elements out of the Marvel Universe? In the space of two years, the vampires are eliminated in Dr. Strange, the Savage Land is destroyed, the Skrulls lose their shapeshifting, and the Morlocks are massacred. All of that is undone a year or two after Shooter leaves. (The Morlocks may not return to full strength, but if the idea was to cull excessively numerous mutants, Genosha completely undid the intended effect.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 2, 2012 2:45 AM
I don't think there was such a Shooter policy. Interesting that three of the four things you mentioned were all done by Roger Stern. In an IMWAN forum, Stern said (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=59361) that eliminating vampires was done to wind up the Tomb of Dracula continuity. So it might have been done as a way to not bring up vampires in a superhero genre, but there isn't any "other genre" reason to eliminate either the Savage Land or Skrull shapeshifting. And as for the Morlocks, it's not like all of them died.
Posted by: Chris | July 2, 2012 9:32 PM
I think the FF going to Avengers mansion would be a mix of a contingency plan and Jarvis having authority to let them in (I guess he would even without a plan already in place, but neither Reed nor the Avengers would leave this possibility out of their plans).
As for the Cap being ambidextrous, even if the serum did not make him one, I guess he would train himself into one, just to be more efficient.
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | June 14, 2013 2:01 PM
In your comment for chronological placement, you wrote "First, the basic stuff. This issue starts soon after the end of Avengers #280 and none of the Avengers should appear anywhere else in between". I believe you meant Fantastic Four #280.
Posted by: CLYDE | December 21, 2013 10:47 PM
I actually meant after the end of Avengers #257. Thanks for pointing it out, Clyde.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 21, 2013 11:20 PM
Why does Firelord call Hercules old friend? Where did they meet before?
Posted by: Martin Dent | April 15, 2014 2:03 PM
Hercules and Thor helped free Firelord from bondage to Galactus after helping fight Ego the Living planet in Thor #225-228.
This is a good opportunity to plug my Character Intersection Search under Advanced Search. You can pick any two characters and see what comics they've both appeared in.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 15, 2014 2:14 PM
Regarding the Spidey vs Firelord battle, DeFalco and Frenz were annoyed that they'd finished the story but Owsley didnt print it for a few months and put in fill-ins instead. I think this issue was probably meant to come out the same month as the climax of the battle, and the "teaser" idea was just something they came up with to explain the delay. It kinda works though.
Posted by: Jonathan | August 25, 2015 3:05 PM
Jonathan, do you have a reference for where DeFalco and/or Frenz specifically mention that Amazing Spider-Man #269-270 had already been completed by the time that this issue of Avengers was published?
Not that I doubt what you are saying, as it certainly confirms what I have suspected ever since I learned about the office politics at the time -- that DeFalco and Frenz were are schedule and that the two Peter David fill-in issues of Amazing Spider-Man #266-267 were actually unnecessary. Without those two fill-in stories, the Spider-Man/Firelord fight would have been published the month before this issue of Avengers.
At the time of publication of this issue, I had never seen a Marvel Comic published that spoiled the end of a major storyline in another Marvel Comic, as had happened with Avengers #258. And given all the creative shake-ups on the Spider-Man books that happened at the exactly same time Priest/Owsley started editing them, it felt like there was a real problem behind the scenes regarding all of the Spidey books.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 26, 2015 5:25 PM
I don't have it to hand, but I'm about 95% sure I got the info about the Firelord delay from Back Issue magazine 35, article about the Hobgoblin, which has both DeFalco + Frenz mentioning a few complaints about Owsley. I'm just guessing it was ready before the Avengers issue though. They complained about fill-ins being put in while the finished issues were left on the shelf. (Less importantly, maybe the Firelord issues were also meant to be Cushing's first appearance, but she appeared in Web first due to the delay?) Though I love Peter David in general and issue 267 in particular, so I don't want to think of a world where that fill-in didn't happen. :-)
Posted by: Jonathan | August 26, 2015 6:51 PM
Jonathan, you are indeed correct. I quickly tracked down my copy of Back Issue #35, where DeFalco does mention that the issues were completed, but that Owsley chose to publish fill-ins instead. I should have remembered that interview. Thanks!
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 26, 2015 7:12 PM
No problem. You've posted some comments and facts on Spider-Man issues that I found really interesting, so I'm glad if I have returned that favour to you.
Posted by: Jonathan | August 27, 2015 2:50 AM
Thanks for the compliment -- and you certainly informed me and spurred some meaningful contemplation.
What I really respect about this site is how each commenter adds something worthwhile here and there -- even when there is healthy disagreement -- that allows me to reflect and learn more about the comics I've read, the comics I have enjoyed, and even the comics that I disliked. Fnord has not just created a helpful reference guide and series of thoughtful reviews, but also has facilitated a remarkable shared discussion that is constantly evolving and that is certainly larger than the sum of its parts -- which takes great skill, insight, and patience to oversee. It's just nice to be part of that discussion.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 28, 2015 1:39 AM
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