Issue(s): Avengers #288, Avengers #289, Avengers #290
Machine Man and the Super-Adaptoid, still wearing his Fixer identity, travel to the Texas panhandle where someone has set up a tourist attraction around the Kree Sentry, which has been laying inert in the area since it was last defeated by Captain Mar-vell. I like how the robots completely ignore the tourist attraction proprietor.
They reactivate the Sentry...
...but it doesn't have the ability to fly, so they're forced to travel more slowly as it stomps across the country.
Back on the east coast, the Avengers Mansion is airlifted into place on Hydrobase.
The question of leadership is still in the air.
The Black Knight shows up with word on on the robots (via a newspaper clipping which suggests it's been at least a day), and the leadership issue is furthered as Captain Marvel essentially gets overruled.
Even though i don't like the intended direction, the above is actually a really good scene for the purposes of developing it. A lot of the knocks on Captain Marvel's leadership have been decidedly unsubtle, but having her make a call and then get talked out of it establishes a lack of leadership quality better than having the Black Knight thinking to herself, "Come on, Captain Marvel. What's our battle plan?" during a fight.
Captain Marvel is actually correct that the Super-Adaptoid has managed to hide his trail (pretty impressive considering he's shepherding a giant robot), and when she left she did order the Black Knight and Dr. Druid to do some research on possible additional robot targets, and they have complied.
Captain Marvel calls a meeting and assigns Dr. Druid and Black Knight to investigate TESS-One while Sub-Mariner and She-Hulk check on the Sentinels. She's also contacted the West Coast Avengers to check on Ultron. And she will use her faster-than-light powers to quickly check on all the robots currently marked as destroyed.
Some more strife breaks out during the meeting (and She-Hulk continues to ogle Namor), and Captain Marvel finds herself wishing Captain America would come back and take over.
Since the Avengers don't have official government clearance any more, Dr. Druid uses his mental powers to force the military guards in charge of TESS-One to let him and the Black Knight access it. And he goes beyond Captain Marvel's orders and decides to take the robot back to Avengers headquarters.
They are attacked by the Super-Adaptoid, Machine-Man, and the Kree Sentry on the way home. During the fight, Black Knight worries about cutting himself with his sword because if it draws blood, it would reactivate its curse. That seems like new information to me; it isn't something i remember coming up at all during Roger Stern's run (as Michael notes below, there was of course mention of the curse in Doctor Strange #68, but i thought that Strange had removed it, and then it was again referenced in West Coast Avengers #2 by Steve Englehart, and then Solo Avengers #4, by Roger Stern).
Dr. Druid's mental abilities aren't effective against the Adaptoid.
The robots win the battle, and Machine Man is ordered to dispose of the Avengers.
Before getting knocked out, Dr. Druid sent a mental cry for help to Captain Marvel, but light is faster than the speed of thought, so it has trouble catching up with her as she zips from place to place.
She-Hulk and Sub-Mariner's check-in with the Sentinels isn't shown, which is too bad, because these issues are being published concurrently with Fall of the Mutants, and it would have been interesting to see if the government had the Sentinels on alert with the recent passage of the Mutant Registration Act. All we learn is that the Sentinels are all accounted for. (The idea that the Avengers are aware and seemingly unconcerned that the government is stockpiling anti-mutant robots is potentially scandalous in its own right.)
And then the robots show up at Hydrobase in the Black Knight and Dr. Druid's Quinjet. The Super-Adaptoid has a name for the group. They are called, er, Heavy Metal.
She-Hulk lays the blame on the Quinjet being allowed to land on Captain Marvel.
We also have the continued oddity of Marrina attempting to prove herself and failing.
Of course, no one is doing so well against this team of powerful robots.
Especially after the Adaptoid revives the Awesome Android as well.
Stingray also makes his home on Hydrobase, so he gets involved too.
When Stingray takes out Machine Man, Machine Man claims he's on the side of the good guys.
During the battle, the Super-Adaptoid gets into the Avengers computers and pulls up data on the cosmic cube, including all of its previous significant wielders.
Captain Marvel was away during the battle, but returns in time to get taken out by the Super-Adaptoid without him even having to turn around thanks to the mental powers he absorbed from Mentallo.
Outside, the Avengers have better luck when they get the robots into the water, where Namor and Marrina are stronger.
Stingray and Machine Man show up, and it's confirmed that Machine Man has just been playing along to see what the Adaptoid was up to and in hopes that he might really revive Jocasta. But the Adaptoid never really trusted Machine Man either, and he's able to knock out Stingray (the poor guy was brought into this story just to get beaten down) and subdue X-51. He then summons the cosmic cube, which has been out in space since gaining consciousness. It is no longer calling itself an immature hatchling (as it did in its last appearance in Defenders #150), and it's developed a pretty goofy form for itself along with the goofy name Kubik.
The Super-Adaptoid has been seeking the cosmic cube because it wants the ability to reproduce. Kubik thinks it is making a pitch to form an alliance, but that actually isn't the case. The Adaptoid just wanted Kubik close enough to it so that it could replicate its powers.
Namor, Marrina, and She-Hulk arrive to see the two Kubiks. She-Hulk makes a comment that indicates a possible reversion for the character, as if she has two distinct personalities, something we haven't seen since her early solo series.
But neither the Jennifer Walters side nor the She-Hulk side gets to act. All of the heroes (except the forgotten Stingray) are trapped in cubes.
So that leaves the Adaptoid to battle it out with Kubik. Kubik is zapped away.
The Super-Adaptoid starts replicating, intending to replace every human on earth with an Adaptoid.
Dr. Druid and the Black Knight had been out of the picture, but they are soon captured and brought back to be placed in cubes along with the other Avengers. The Knight wants to know what Captain Marvel's plan is, since she's the leader of the group.
She's got nothing. Derrrrr.
We're just going to have to import a competent leader. So Kubik zaps in Captain America.
Kubik erased memory of its own involvement from Cap's mind so that the Adaptoid won't know about his involvement.
Alright Cap, show some leadership.
My god, that man is a natural leader! Why, his mere presence has inspired Dr. Druid to figure out a way to trick the Super-Adaptoid.
He convinces the Super-Adaptoid that his one flaw is a lack of imagination, and challenges the robot to come up with something unique. He's unable to do it. And then, rattled by that, he engages with Cap directly, and Cap engages in some major psychobabble-fu and somehow manages to convince the Adaptoid to let itself die.
Wow, that is some serious WTF-ery.
Kubik shows up to heap more praise on Cap...
...and then de-power the Adaptoid.
A lot of history in this story, from the Handbook-like look at all the possible robot targets and cosmic cube wielders to the connection between Machine Man and Jocasta (Marvel Two-In-One #92-93) and the history of the cosmic cube and even its special kinship with Captain America annual #7 and the aforementioned Defenders #150). Even having the Super-Adaptoid seeking out the cosmic cube is a neat connection, since they are both AIM creations.
But it definitely drags on a bit, and goes completely off the rails at the end. In terms of the length, i wonder if the idea was to stretch things out while waiting for Walt Simonson to come on board. On the other hand, Roger Stern's previous Olympus storyline was also a tad overlong. So this may always have been the intended length. But i have a feeling that having the sentient Cosmic Cube show up so that the Adaptoid could mimic it and make babies, and certainly having Captain America show up to save the day, were new additions. Plotwise, if you erased all the dialogue and especially all the sniping about Captain Marvel, gave better lines to Marrina, and a few other things, you could have had a much better story, but i still question the use of the cosmic cube in this way and i find the way the Super-Adaptoid was defeated to be incredibly sophomoric.
Issue #288 has a Mark's Remarks column announcing Roger Stern's departure. In Gruenwald's telling, Stern had agreed to a storyline and then once he got into the details he said he couldn't do it without "doing injustices to some of the characters involved. The bottom line was that he didn't want to proceed with the story line that we all discussed" (we all being the writers and editors of Avengers, Captain America, and Thor, although when you think about it, the relevant roles would be the Avengers' editor and Captain America's writer, both of whom were the same person). Gruenwald continues, "I was not interested in doing any injustice to any characters either, but I also believed that the story line could be done without hurting any characters" and also that he didn't want to force a writer to do something he didn't want to, so he fired Stern instead. Gruenwald also says that while he's gotten Stern to write some Solo Avengers stories, "I imagine that we're both a bit gun-shy", so we shouldn't expect to see Stern coming back on a regular basis.
Issue #296 has an editorial comment in the lettercol saying that they got "virtually no negative mail" about issue #290, and they take that as validation that "We guess you did miss Captain America's presence in these pages!".
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's said that it was "weeks ago" that the Adaptoid slipped through the Avengers fingers in the previous two issues. It's said that the West Coast Avengers are confirming the location of Ultron while the East Coasters are checking out the other possible Super-Adaptoid targets; the MCP has their behind-the-scenes appearances happening after West Coast Avengers #30. Steve Rogers has the adamantium shield he got from Tony Stark, which means this has to take place after Captain America #339/Iron Man #227-228 and therefore Captain America #340 which follows the Iron Man issues directly. There's also an unfooted reference to his motorcycle being broken, which happened in #340. The MCP has him here between Captain America #340-341.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
Regarding the blood curse, in Doctor Strange 68, Sir Percy warns Dane not to imbue the Ebony Blade with any further curses. In West Coast Avengers Annual 2, Dane tells Moon Knight that if his sword kills again, it will draw him into situations where it can shed more blood. In any case, Stern himself had Dane face a descendant that was corrupted by the curse in Solo Avengers 4 but it's not clear if that issue was written before or after Stern was fired from Avengers.
Posted by: Michael | May 17, 2014 7:02 PM
I can just hear The Shat talking the Adaptoid to death through Cap's voice. That's some serious WTF-ery indeed.
Firing Roger Stern was the worst move of Gru's career. You can see the book breaking apart right from the start of this arc with Monica being (logically, given that Stern created her) the first Avenger to be dumbed down and eventually written out. Things will improve under Walt Simonson for a very brief time, but for me this was the end of the Avengers until the Busiek/Perez era.
I picked up the final part of this story in real time because Stingray was supposed to be in it ...only to see the dude lying flat on his face throughout the whole issue. Man, what a huge letdown that was! He doesn't even get to stand with the others in that final panel, unlike fellow non-members Machine Man and Marrina.
Posted by: Clutch | May 18, 2014 7:28 AM
It's weird that that one screen simply says "Sleeper" when there were 5 of them.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 18, 2014 11:46 AM
Clutch, I completely agree. After being initially excited about the Fixer/Adaptoid story, by the end I remember thinking that the quality had suddenly declined. I then looked at the credits and saw Stern was no longer the writer!
Posted by: Chris | June 12, 2014 10:24 PM
Fnord12, you listed that Steve quits being Captain America in Captain America #322. Didn't that happen in #332?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 8, 2014 7:53 PM
FNORD - the hyperlink goes to the correct comics. However, the title is incorrect.
Posted by: clyde | July 8, 2014 8:47 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | July 8, 2014 9:14 PM
Why did they decide to leave New York and set up on an artificial tropical island again?
Posted by: Andrew | March 17, 2015 12:31 PM
Not sure if your question is rhetorical, but in case it's not: after the Vision tried to take over the world's computer systems, the Avengers lost their security clearance, and with that the privilege of landing their Quinjets in the city.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 17, 2015 12:36 PM
....and because the Masters of Evil just destroyed Avengers Mansion!
Posted by: Bill | March 17, 2015 1:22 PM
Okay, I didn't know about the Quinjet thing. Still this doesn't seem like the best solution to the problem. What are they going to do if there's an emergency in New York? Swim there? (And that question was rhetorical.)
Posted by: Andrew | March 17, 2015 3:33 PM
Plusses - Good to have Steve Rogers back. I like the current line-up at the start of this, but it's strange not to have a single person from before #200, let alone #100 - the first time I believe this has happened, now that Thor is gone.
Good to see how incredibly strong Namor is that he can actually rip off the head of the Awesome Android.
Good to see Stingray.
Minuses - Crappy to have Stingray dropped so early and then basically ignored for the rest of the storyline.
Clearly the dumbing down of Monica was editorial and didn't flow from the characters at all and it just makes Dane seem like a dick, when he hadn't before this - since I really like him that just irritated me. Druid just is a dick.
Heavy Metal? I remember buying that issue and going "Give me a break."
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 30, 2015 12:18 PM
Also, forgot to mention how much the ending seems like something from the early Silver Age - it reminds me of how the X-Men originally beat the Sentinels by logically convincing them to fly into the sun.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 31, 2015 7:08 AM
Black Knight joined in issue #71. So one member at this team clearly predates not only #200 but #100 as well.
That is easy to forget though, since Dane was away for so long.
Posted by: Ubersicht | December 27, 2016 11:16 AM
I commented on the forum thread but specific to this story, I wanted to point out the absurdity of Monica's self-doubt vis-a-vis leading the team in clean-up operations. Whatever weaknesses we might suppose her to have as a tactical leader compared to Cap, as an experienced cargo ship captain she should be more than capable and fully confident in leading and organizing a clean-up operation. Similar considerations apply to guiding the helicopters relocating the Avengers mansion to hydrobase in Avengers 288. And as a woman of color who managed to not just function but lead in her previous work, she should not be so easy to psych out. No doubt she made it as a Harbor Patrol officer and a cargo ship captain in the face of others doubting and challenging her leadership. That wouldn't be new to her either.
Posted by: Ubersicht | December 27, 2016 12:03 PM
So, Captain America does a Captain Kirk on his replicadaptoid, and Captain Marvel gets thrown under the back of the bus once again. Double raspberry. If the TVA was really worth its salt this story would have been written out of continuity double quick.
Posted by: Holt | November 15, 2017 1:53 PM
Comments are now closed.
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