Issue(s): Avengers #329, Avengers #330, Avengers #331
To start with, the Avengers deal with the fact that their charter with the US government has been revoked (in the previous arc) by going up a level and getting a new charter from the United Nations.
Second, a new line-up is chosen: Thor, Sersi, Vision, Quasar, Black Widow, and She-Hulk, with Captain America as chairbeing (in deference to the fact that the Avengers aren't necessarily human, although i would argue that you don't have to be human to be a person).
That's a fairly unsurprising line-up (but not a bad one) but the really interesting part is the group selected for the new concept of on-call reservists, which includes Spider-Man...
...and also probationary members Rage and Sandman.
Our first hint that Rage is younger than he seems comes in to play when Cap assumes that Rage's grandmother is deceased.
One thing to note about the line-up choice is that the West Coast team are included in the meeting and the voting to determine who the reservists will be. But it seems too convenient that none of the West Coasters are chosen for the teams here, and we'll see in Avengers West Coast #69 that their branch will hold a second set of votes to determine who will be on that team. And of course they won't be able to vote for anyone that's already been picked for the East Coast teams, so it's like they're getting the leftovers. Except that people like Wonder Man and Iron Man can hardly be considered leftovers. In any event, this might have been a good time to re-examine the East and West Coast division altogether. If they're a UN sponsored group now, it doesn't really make sense that the split between the team would be between two locations in the same country. Or, it could make sense (the US is a big country and positioning groups on opposite ends of it positions them fairly well for access to the rest of the world) but i'd like to have seen it discussed in some way, if even to just say "Well, that's where our compounds are currently located so we'll stick with that for now". Without it being addressed at all it feels like it's just assumed that the teams should continue to operate that way because those are the books that are being published.
It would also be interesting to see a discussion of maybe tying in the Avengers with SHIELD, which is also a UN organization.
The new line-up announcement is broken up by protesters, including a (white) radical who calls Rage an Uncle Tom. The protesters are unhappy about the institutional violence that the Avengers supposedly perpetrate. Rage responds that change comes from within.
The interaction between Rage and the protester isn't all that substantial (or coherent). I think a more interesting angle might have come from protesters that were Black Helicopter anti-UN types, upset that the Avengers are no longer working for the US and maybe seeing the consolidation of SHIELD and the Avengers under the UN as some kind of New World Order conspiracy. As it stands, it's more about giving Rage an opportunity to explain why he's joining the team after some of the objections that he raised in his debut.
As for the villains, it's a follow-up of last arc's story, where the demonlike Ngh came to Earth along with his pixie Xa (and no, i'm not constipated; those are their actual names).
Ngh oddly forms an alliance with L.D.50, the loquacious gang leader that Rage encountered in the previous arc. Larry Hama (former editor of Crazy magazine) shows his humorous side with Ngh trying to talk "street" while L.D.50 speaks more eloquently.
But the real threat isn't them directly, it is a group of even weirder entities that come looking for them.
The core Avengers team get teleported to another dimension as punishment for letting Ngh escape. So we go from the very grounded details of the UN charter and Rage's politics to a WTF extra-dimensional bizarro adventure.
When the Avengers manage to release Thor's hammer and free Sersi, the "Tetrarchs" return and split up the group, sending half to a dimension that is said to be full of rotting meat but which looks identical to where they already were.
And each group is covered up with an illusion, so that when they find the other half they wind up fighting each other.
Captain America eventually recognizes the others by their body language and calls off the fight.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sandman and Rage are put through a background check. Since the Avengers are expected to have secret identities, the checks are anonymous, with a computer designed by Tony Stark running the check, giving a yay or nay, and then deleting all the data before anyone else sees it. During Rage's check, we see that Rage was born in 1977, and a photo that looks like an adolescent. With Marvel's sliding timescale these things are always tricky, but it seems clear that Rage was meant to be 14 at this time. However, age isn't something that the automated scan is checking for, so Rage is cleared.
Rage and Sandman are both given their Avengers ID cards, which have a lot of new functionality built into them.
When Rage calls his grandma he finds out that she's been taken hostage by Ngh. Meanwhile, the Avengers negotiate a truce with the Tetrarchs and are returned to Earth.
Ngh thought that holding Rage's grandma would give him leverage over Rage, but Rage doesn't play that game and he brings the Avengers with him to his grandma's house.
We see that Ngh has demonically enhanced L.D.50 and his gang.
So a fight breaks out. Interestingly, though, even though there's an active threat to deal with, not every Avenger is sent out into the field. Captain America remains behind to monitor the events.
And he's contacted Dr. Strange, who has researched the Tetrarchs and says that they aren't the gods that they claim to be.
Thor and Sersi, meanwhile, have gone back to the Dimension of Exile that Ngh came from, and they free some people from a rock.
They bring them back to the scene of the battle, and the old woman turns out to be the other half of Ngh. She's the good half, he's the evil half.
The creatures that Ngh was hanging out with turn out to have also been warped. We see a Kree, a Skrull, and a guy that looks like Krang. The one that looked a little like Fin Fang Foom seems to have stayed the same, though.
They wind up getting recruited by L.D.50, who has been returned to normal.
And the Tetrarchs are sent to the Dimension of Exile and the merged Ngh flies off into space.
An end scene shows Dr. Doom being intrigued by a discussion between Thor and a reporter about his ability to teleport to other dimensions. That's set-up for next arc.
This started off interesting but i could just feel my blood sugar dropping with each panel of floating golden pyramids and generic devil demons. It feels like all of Larry Hama's creative energy after the charter/membership scenes went to Rage, and i'm interested in Rage, but the threat provided for the Avengers to fight (which, don't forget, also occupied the previous arc of Hama's run) was pretty uninspired.
In the lettercol for issue #329, a long letter makes the observation that the team has been in constant fight mode for a long long time now. That's in a good part due to the fact that the book keeps changing hands. But Larry Hama seems to be addressing that by devoting a good portion of issue #329 to the membership process, and he'll also have the Avengers throwing a party for their new building's opening ceremony in the next arc. These things aren't quite the same as, say, Wonder Man and the Beast going out for a night on the town, but it does allow for more human interactions than what we've been getting lately.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 207,516. Single issue closest to filing date = 187,900.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The meeting of the Avengers had been going on for "two days" prior to the start of issue #329. At that meeting we have a full contingent of East and West coast Avengers, plus reservists. And Dr. Strange appears in issue #331. So this needs to take place during a break in a lot of characters' other books. Quasar is wearing the costume he got in Quasar #18. Thor is beardless and therefore still merged with Eric Masterson. Sandman should appear here after his appearance with Silver Sable and the Outlaws in Excalibur #36. The West Coast Avengers have their own mini-team selection, explicitly after the events here, in Avengers West Coast #69. There is no shot of Namor's feet and he's never shown flying, so we can assume this takes place while his ankles are wingless.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Note that Hercules is back on Earth without explanation this story.
Posted by: Michael | September 11, 2015 11:06 PM
That is probably a good example of the reasons why they ended up cancelling WCA. IIRC the last issue had an editorial piece mentioning unspecified editorial coordination problems as one of the reasons.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 12, 2015 1:41 AM
I remember that big announcement on the cover with Cap shouting Ï'd like to announce a NEW TEAM of AVENGERS." Then we get the exact team that had been operating for the previous issues. and considering how often their lineup changes, would this really be a media event?
And "substitute reserve avenger"is the lamest title you can have.
and all of the cosmic lameo stuff. Ugh. or should I say "Ngh"?
Posted by: kveto | September 12, 2015 1:55 AM
Perhaps for AWC they could have taken a cue from DC's Justice League Europe?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 12, 2015 6:17 AM
Hama's GI joe was one of the first books I followed monthly, and it still holds up, despite being a toy adaption.
But he was a really bad fit for the Avengers. Straight superheroics just aren't his specialty.
Though I prefer his plodding efforts to the downright offensive offerings from Harras that came next.
It's a long road to Busiek from here.
Posted by: Bob | September 12, 2015 1:07 PM
I loved Hama's G.I. Joe, although it too had obvious issues (NINJAS!). What I liked about it was the bits of "realism" (well, as real as you could get)--the characters, even the anonymous mooks, all had an unique voice and there were usually some dry witticisms thrown into the mix--I wonder if he would have done better with an Avengers comic more in the model of the 80s Justice League (the more comedic version), where the superheroes were more ripe for character interactions.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | September 12, 2015 1:22 PM
@Michael, unless i'm missing something, there doesn't seem to be any problem with this arc vs. Avengers West Coast #69 as long as we assume AWC doesn't have to take place directly after this. Time enough for USAgent and Tigra to hang around in New York to be around for the HQ opening ceremony, and for Mockingbird to return to the Great Lakes Avengers for a while, maybe to wrap things up with them.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 12, 2015 2:15 PM
I like the new UN affiliation and the new two-tiered rosters for both teams. Too bad Bob Harras ignored this arrangement. Black Widow, who has barely been an Avenger up to this point, becomes a regular at this point. The character would have her profile raised by this and go on to become chairman. Now she is in movies and is considered one of the greatest Avengers.
Posted by: Steven | September 12, 2015 2:53 PM
Given that Hama started his run by bringing up how the Avengers line up is not ethnically diverse enough, he certainly fails to deliver by not including the Falcon and Captain Marvel in the active line-up. I suspect the lack of ethnic diversity was a real concern for Hama, but having those characters on the team, interacting with Rage on a regular basis over the course of a year or two could have led to some real interesting stories and would have done much to address those problems. Placing the Falcon and Captain Marvel as reserve members certainly perpetuates the very problem Hama was concerned about, though. This was one of the reasons why I stopped reading the series at this time.
Then again, as I have mentioned elsewhere, also drawing upon Thor, Black Widow, and Sersi's cultural background could have added to the storytelling potential.
Do love the Ryan/Palmer art duo, though.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 13, 2015 5:01 PM
Sandman, Spider-Man and Rage should never have been Avengers under any circumstances. This is when I stopped reading the book.
Posted by: A.Lloyd | November 19, 2015 8:58 PM
I knew this was the beginning of the end for me, after years of collecting Avengers. I loved the membership idea - I was okay with the teams they chose. But this was at least the fourth time in less than 25 issues that the team had disappeared into another dimension (against Nebula, in the hospital, against the Soviets and Alpha Flight, this issue) and it was just getting to be too ridiculous. It would be fine if the extra-dimensional threats were interesting, but they just weren't and they kept taking up multiple issues.
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 21, 2015 12:55 PM
Am I the only one who can never look at Rage without thinking of the legendary Mexican wrestler El Santo?
Posted by: Oliver_C | December 16, 2015 6:27 AM
I still say the funniest thing about this time was the West Coast team was treated as a joke in-universe, but who was on the West Coast team for the most part -- Iron Man, Hank and Jan, Hawkeye, Wanda, Wonder Man and Quicksilver -- you know, MOST OF THE MAIN AVENGERS. I never really understood the "lesser" distinction when the WCA lineup were the main Avengers for YEARS.
Posted by: Jeff | February 28, 2016 1:57 PM
I guess Hama's run wasn't technically just another 6-issue bi-monthly stunt…but it sure felt like it. No flow, with yet another extra-dimensional set of baddies. As much as Harras gets flak for the "X-ification" of the team, he gave them a stable line up (nearly 20 issues of Widow/Knight/Sersi/Herc/Crystal/Vision and that's it, period!) and while Proctor requires alternate timelines, things don't get actively silly until the Flossing. And stories only took however long they needed to take, not this "let's make a TPB" drek.
And how Spidey is a reservist when it's been a whopping 11 issues since he and Cap agreed that he really didn't have an interest in going into space at the drop of a hat, so thanks-but-no-thanks, I haven't a clue. Sigh.
And word to Jeff's point about how the WCA are treated as secondary when they've got pretty much every core Avenger except Thor and Cap…
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 26, 2016 5:12 AM
The "X-ification" thing has more to do with the tone of the team's adventures under Harras, where the Avengers were suddenly a band of embattled and bunkered, beset by mysterious foes with long-range plans they couldn't understand and caught in an ongoing guerilla war with the Kree. Villains aren't definitively taken down and captured, but rather have one plan thwarted (sometimes not even fully) while continuing to pursue their long-range goals. It's rather far from the concept of the Avengers as the big guns you call in when a world-shaking threat shows up.
It's probably unfair to drop that on Harras, however; most comics were going through something similar, both at Marvel and DC. But it does seem inspired by the .
That said, Harras brings in some fairly X-Men-like team dynamics. Dane and Sersi's "gann josin" bond and Sersi slowly going mad aren't a million miles away from Jean and Scott's "psychic rapport" and Jean's turn to Dark Phoenix, for example.
More broadly, every single issue of Harras's run, with the exception of a one-off Arkon story, involves either the Gatherers, Exodus and the Acolytes, or the Shi'ar. This only ends witht he Crossing, when Terry Kavanagh comes aboard as co-plotter.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 26, 2016 8:14 AM
Sorry, the incomplete sentence above should read "seem inspired by the success of the X-Men."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 26, 2016 8:15 AM
The Dimension of Exile seen in this story is supposed to be the same one Thor used to defeat the original Masters of Evil back in Avengers #16.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 13, 2017 6:00 AM
Thanks Omar. Added a reference.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 16, 2017 11:23 AM
Comments are now closed.
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