Issue(s): Avengers #350, Avengers #351
Raza and Hepzibah then convince the Starjammers to go to Earth, on the grounds that they should visit Binary. Cyclops and Professor X also happen to be visiting the Avengers with a warning about the Acolytes. Valerie Cooper and Quicksilver are also present, representing X-Factor.
By the way, Hercules has shaved his beard. It's not explicitly said, but i could imagine that in-story the motivation for this is Hercules' romantic interest in Taylor Madison, who he met last issue. But even if that was the idea, i think this was a really dumb decision. Herc goes from being instantly recognizable to becoming Generic Man.
The way Thor talks about Professor X, it makes me consider the fact that he's pretty casual about his "secret identity" when it comes to other superhero teams, and that's potentially a problem when a team's membership is so volatile. Xavier has no way of knowing if he can trust, say, Sersi, and he's probably not even aware that that Thor isn't the original. This could eventually lead to someone accidentally blabbing to the press and shattering the idea that Xavier is just a renowned genetic expert and not a mutant. But i guess Xavier could just mind-wipe everyone if it came to that.
Anyway, Raza gets the Black Knight alone and attacks him.
Raza even goes so far as to take Luna hostage.
Black Knight's heroism in response to that endears him to the disapproving Inhuman nanny Marilla.
Raza stabs him.
The rest of the Avengers come in after that, and then the Starjammers and the X-Men, and they get into a group fight.
The fight eventually settles down and an Inhuman named Galen is brought in to help heal the Black Knight.
Don't get confused, because the Kree that hired the Starjammers is eventually named Galen Kor, and that's who's listed in the Characters Appearing. This is a different Galen that i don't think ever appears again. Sikorsky and Waldo from the Starjammers' ship help Galen save the Black Knight.
Note the change in art between issues. Kevin West has a kind of comedic style that doesn't quite work when there's treachery and deadly injury going on.
The X-Men go home "to see if they can help from that end" (uh, what?) and Ch'od tries to help Raza escape, but some Avengers catch up with them. However, Binary shows up and stops the fight. She speaks to Raza privately and finds out about his family. She decides to lie for him, saying that the medallion they gave him was a Kree mind control device, so he wasn't responsible for his actions.
The Avengers seem to buy it, and Hepzibah's role is never discovered (although the Black Widow suspects when she finds her lingering around the Black Knight's sick bed).
The Starjammers ask Binary to come with them back into space, but she decides to remain on her homeworld and rediscover her roots, starting with a visit to her parents.
In the end we see that Raza is repentant, but not Hepzibah.
I am kind of struggling to explain how this plot takes two issues, and i guess it's because there is a lot of focus on downtime sequences, especially the Black Knight's love triangle with Crystal and Sersi (this scene is from before he is injured, of course).
I do think it's an interesting phenomenon to have the editor of the X-Men writing the Avengers. In a stylistic sense, we see the ongoing longterm subplots in this book, a Claremont trademark that gets even more pronounced under Scott Lobdell, from the Proctor storyline to the love triangle. We also see Harras using the Starjammers, which i've noted before is the sort of thing that Harras has said belongs better in this book than the X-Men anyway. And we see some actual X-Men show up to warn the Avengers about the Acolytes, who will become a plot in this book as well. It does create a more cohesive Marvel universe instead of having the X-characters tucked away into their own little corner. There are also little touches that would actually be of interest to X-Men readers, like Professor X talking to Corsair about how Lilandra hasn't seen Xavier since he's lost the use of his legs again, or Cyclops telling Corsair about "Maddie and Nathan" (we don't hear the details).
I continue to like the Epting/Palmer pairing, although sometimes, like with Hepzibah, i feel like we're getting a generic Palmer face instead of the established character model. I also hate Hercules without his beard, but i'm sure that was a decision the writer made. The guest art on issue #351 is kind of unfortunate.
Issue #350 is double sized and also features a humor story featuring Jarvis and Marilla that, if i were to bother with it, takes place during Infinity War (we see the Avengers rushing off to deal with that). It also reprinted Avengers #53.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is the first story where we see that Hercules's beard is shaved. We don't actually see him shaving it, but from what Thor says about the Black Knight not noticing, it must have happened recently. So this is a kind of dividing line for Avengers appearances in other books.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Widow, Carol Danvers, Ch'od, Corsair, Cr'reee, Crystal, Cyclops, Galen Kor, Hepzibah, Hercules, Jarvis, Keith Kincaid, Lockjaw, Luna, Marilla, Professor X, Quicksilver, Raza Longknife, Sersi, Sikorsky, Thunderstrike, Valerie Cooper, Vision, Waldo
Speak like Yoda I never knew Hepzibah did.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 21, 2016 7:18 PM
Note that Harras is careful to avoid saying exactly what happened with Maddie- this is a pattern during this time period. (And more evidence Inferno was badly done.)
Posted by: Michael | April 21, 2016 8:41 PM
I wish that Carol had rejoined the Avengers at this point. Instead, Harras would give us Deathcry.
Posted by: Steven | April 22, 2016 1:46 AM
Ch'od is supposed to be a thoughtful, philosophical fellow -- smart enough, surely, to realise that even a big amphibian with Spider-Man-level strength shouldn't go hand-to-hand against Hercules and Thor.
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 22, 2016 5:40 AM
Binary would've made a good replacement for Quasar on the team. They sort of lack a (fully) "cosmic" character with him gone. Particularly since most Harras stories will involve either Kree/Shi'ar war aftermath stuff or alternate realities, a character like that would've been welcome.
I've got no problem with Deathcry. I wouldn't ever say she was an exciting or interesting character, but her existence never offended me. I do think it's a shame they immediately treat her like she was the absolute worst thing from the 90s and she literally didn't appear at all for 10 years before finally showing up in Annihilation Conquest just to die. Dead Avengers series made much better use of her (albeit gave her a daft power-up and a hokey "I am now Lifecry" line). I wouldn't mind if she'd been utilized a bit more, she's much better than Mantis at least.
Posted by: AF | April 22, 2016 6:22 AM
And, oh God, the drop in the quality of the art between these 2 issues -- it's like going from Pat Broderick to Joe Brozowski on 'Fury of Firestorm'.
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 22, 2016 11:52 AM
I was pondering whether they had Hercules shave due to the Kevin Sorbo version, but it turns out that's still a couple years away at this point.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 22, 2016 10:19 PM
A few months after these issues came out I mentioned them to Dave Cockrum when he was at a store signing. He agreed that Hepzibah, despite her hatred of the Shi'ar, would never have agreed to murder the Black Knight just to stick it to Lilandra. I give a lot of weight to his opinion on the topic since he was, y'know, the guy who actually created the Starjammers and drew most of their appearances in the 1970s and 80s.
Speaking of appearances... I realize that both Steve Epting and Kevin West are merely following Jim Lee's depiction of Hepzibah from Uncanny X-Men #275-277. But, really, she looks almost nothing like the humanoid skunk that Cockrum designed. I mean, in-story Corsair named her after the skunk Mam'selle Hepzibah from the comic strip Pogo because he couldn't pronounce her real name. She's not supposed to look cat-like, as does here and in Lee's issues of X-Men. Yeah, just leave it to Jim Lee to mess up a classic design. That seems to be one of his favorite things to do.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 22, 2016 11:03 PM
These two issues make me wonder if Harras read the stretch of Uncanny in the 270's and didn't realize the Starjammers were really Skrulls. His characterization of them is just appalling. Actually, almost everything about these two issues is appalling except the art in the first one.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 6, 2016 6:56 AM
Erik, they might have had Herc shave in order to make the Black Knight's newly acquired stubble look more distinctive.
Alternatively, this was around the time when comics were becoming more focused-groups which typically translates into make characters look "younger" ("Herc, you're losing young males. Can you try to get jiggy with something?"). Often that means shaving off wooly beards or going the "five o'clock shadow" route as the Knight.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 6, 2016 9:33 AM
@Erik, Harras didn't just read those Uncanny's, he edited them. So it's particularly egregious if he based his characterization of them on a story he supposedly oversaw.
Same deal with Revanche, he was the editor of UXM when Lady Mandarin happened, how was Fabian Nicieza not having read them even a factor if Harras was actually there, working on those issues? Didn't plots have to be approved by the editor? So much sleeping at the wheel...
I do love me some classic Epting/Palmer art. Epting has grown too much in the direction of photorealism, his older stuff eyes better to me. More dynamic, somehow.
Posted by: PeterA | May 7, 2016 1:52 AM
Considering that Bob Harras seemed to be more or less rubber stamping the issues penciled & co-plotted by Jim Lee, yes, I have no trouble believing that he really didn't pay too much attention to the actual contents of those stories.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 8, 2016 12:45 PM
Is this the first appearance of the Black Knight's leather jacket, the most infamous of Harras' jackets?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | January 30, 2017 7:16 PM
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