Issue(s): Avengers #311
Ironically, the issue starts off with a demonstration of how the new status quo on the island, with all of the new staff people that have been hired, would have worked.
Note that Peggy Carter is reporting that super heroes from all across the country are finding themselves under attack from villains they've never faced before. Quasar even (incorrectly, i assume) says that Quantum, who he fought in Quasar #4, was one of them, and Peggy agrees.
This conversation is being monitored by Loki (who i should note is nominally in disguise even from us readers), and he goes to talk to two of the villains from the cabal he's organized. Both are hidden from readers by shadow. I doubt it was fooling anyone, although the way the Mandarin changes costumes i suppose not everyone might have recognized him.
Dr. Doom then launches his attack on Hydrobase, in the form of a wave of robots.
Quasar is the only Avenger on the grounds, but the support staff takes up arms as well.
Michael O'Brien apparently no longer has his original Guardsman armor, but Fabian Stankowicz does have a suit.
At the time of my writing this, Peggy Carter just finished starring in her own television show, so it's fun to see her getting to play an action hero role here (although she is getting up there in years at this point even without taking the sliding timescale into account).
O'Brien has to lie to Carter, telling her that the other Avengers have arrived to get her out of the control room as the island is going down.
After overwhelming the island's defenders for a while, the robots suddenly leave. Quasar takes the opportunity to secure the floating island, which is full of holes. Quasar was (barely) able to lift the island entirely in Avengers annual #18; here he doesn't try that and instead goes with a more Green Lantern-y approach.
But it turns out that the robots' attack was a distraction, and some of them managed to plant a time bomb at the Quinjet fuel depot. So a big explosion hastens the island's destruction and it sinks beneath the waves. Quasar is reduced to ensuring that the staff is evacuated safely.
In a subplot featuring the only other Avenger appearing in this book (and not even an active one), Starfox catches up with Nebula and infiltrates her ship to find out what she's been planning.
I believe John Byrne was directly involved in the planning of Acts of Vengeance, but this issue does not feel like a John Byrne issue to me. The issue feels very mechanical and plot driven, like this is something we need to get through more than an interesting or dramatic story in its own right, basically a lot like the stories that were written by Mark Gruenwald or Ralph Macchio in the fill-in periods between the big recent runs on the book. Maybe it's the fact that Quasar is the only Avenger present. And maybe it's a coincidence, but Byrne's name is listed under the Artists in the credits, which is unusual.
In any event, it's definitely an impactful story. I do like that Dr. Doom can claim a sort-of victory against the Avengers. And, with the Avengers Spotlight issue before it, it does a lot to raise the stakes of the Acts of Vengeance event.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This should be Quasar's first appearance after Quasar #4. This occurs pretty early in Acts of Vengeance but really should be considered to be happening concurrently with other books since Peggy Carter is already getting reports of other super-villain attacks.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (19): show
Acts of Vengeance was one of the first sets of comics I ever owned; as a kid, I was pretty dumb and didn't even grasp the magnitude of how many comics were part of this, so I thought it was mostly Avengers and Spider-Man related (in my defense, it seems like most of the plot was Avengers related). I did annoyingly never get the Avengers issue that basically wrapped things up, so I didn't realize Loki was the bad guy.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | March 23, 2015 7:24 PM
Avengers Annual 19 establishes the She-Hulk's battle with Pseudo-Man in She-Hulk 10-11 takes place concurrently with this issue- it's the reason Jen wasn't available to defend Hydrobase.
Posted by: Michael | March 23, 2015 7:57 PM
Michael, regarding Quasar, it's just the normal rolling concurrency. Quasar may be fighting Quantum and then flying home from the West coast, but in the meantime Silver Surfer is doing stuff and She-Hulk is doing stuff and Daredevil is doing stuff, etc. I guess since i have multiple Punisher appearances in between it's a little muddled and i can move Quasar up, but we're going to run into stuff like that with characters staring in multiple books.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 23, 2015 8:46 PM
Byrne's Avengers titles are really the only issues in the entire crossover where some effort is made that each of the bad guys thinks this alliance is their plan, and that Loki is their servant.
It seems in every other title, if the main bad guys are shown, they are talked into the plan by Loki, and it is obvious they are reluctant members. Gruenwald's portrayal of the Red Skull is particularly egregious in this.
That is something that should have been caught and policed by Editorial. It feels like the other Marvel writers don't like this conceit and do everything possible to sandbag it.
As for this issue, it did not have an impact to me. I never liked Hydrobase as home for the Avengers. It certainly did not have time to create any sense of nostalgia or belonging. And coming so soon after the mansion was wrecked, it didn't even have shock value.
Posted by: Chris | March 23, 2015 10:05 PM
Chris, the problem is that Byrne's idea really doesn't make sense. The Red Skull in particular had resolved not to engage in master plans the last time we saw him, the Mandarin had the memory of all his battles with the heroes but the last one with Iron Man erased in his last appearance, this really isn't the Kingpin's type of scheme, etc. Acts of Vengeance is an example of what Byrne criticized McDuffie for doing in She-Hulk: Ceremony- shoehorning characters into a plot they don't belong in.
Posted by: Michael | March 23, 2015 10:36 PM
I think the idea could have easily been made to work. As a hook - having the major Marvel villains team up against the heroes - is pretty fun, and having Loki being the mastermind is a good twist. Minimal effort is needed to make it work. Mandarin can regain his memory. The Skull didn't resolve to not engage in master plans - it was merely to be more subtle in his master plans. Instead of being a ringleader accepted as an "equal", the Kingpin could have been used as an unwitting pawn by the others.
I also question how much of Acts of Vengeance is "Byrne's idea". The name for the crossover had already been established. Byrne came up with the "swap villains" idea. I think everything else was determined by an editorial conference with the writers.
Anyway, once the decision was made to proceed - regardless of whose idea it was - people should have been writing the main plot the same way - not contradicting each other. The difference in how the main villains viewed the conspiracy was very off putting. This is the same whether the idea was good or bad.
Posted by: Chris | March 24, 2015 12:10 AM
One of the questions in the FAQ at Byrne's website is why John Romita, Jr's name appeared before Byrne's in the credits of IRON MAN. Byrne's answer is he always puts the artist's name first because he thinks the artist is more important than the writer.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 24, 2015 12:25 AM
I like the way Byrne wrote Quasar here. He comes across as way more tough and sure of himself then when written by Gruenwald.
Posted by: Urban Commando | April 22, 2017 3:47 AM
Such a shame the Hydrobase/Avengers Island was destroyed so soon after it was established as the new headquarters... yes, it technically happened 30+ issues ago but we never got enough focus on it before it sunk. As Chris said, it didn't really have time to create nostalgia or belonging. This is why I when I hear "Hydrobase" these days I still think of it as Stingray's place from the old Submariner series. There was more of a sense of belonging to something in those issues.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | August 31, 2017 3:43 AM
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