Issue(s): Avengers #360, Avengers #361
On the Gatherers front, the Vision gets kidnapped by them. We see in flashback that he was lured by the shape-changing Gatherer, Tabula Rasa, into thinking he was meeting with Laura Lipton.
Once captured, he gets body swapped with a Vision from an alternate timeline (another Gatherer). You can see that the long time goal here is to get the Vision into something closer to his original costume. I'm happy to see that the alternate Vision wears shoes, at least.
Once he's in our Vision's body, the Gatherer version is sent to infiltrate the Avengers, nominally to kill the Swordsman before his memories return, although he takes his time getting to that.
Regarding Sersi, she continues to worry that she's insane, and talks about her actions in the last arc (where she killed Arkon's evil advisor) as if it was a bad dream to her. We see the police closing in on the deaths of the victims that we saw in earlier issues; they've found Reed Richards' unstable molecules at the scene of the crime, which (they say) is only available to "a small group o' heroes" (i guess villains' costumes have a different make-up).
Sersi later has a freakout and attacks the other Avengers (that's Arkon's dinosaur Karia in the background; not sure why it's still around).
The fake Vision shows up to help knock Sersi out.
And then Captain America shows up, acting all pompous.
The next issue has Ikaris, Sprite, and a third unnamed Eternal (probably meant to be Ajax, but he's dead) show up to claim that Sersi is suffering from "the secret curse of the Eternals" which is called the "Mahd W'yry", which literally means that an Eternal becomes weary of their eternal life and goes mad. Regular contact with your local Uni-Mind is suppose to stave off the W'yry. But Sersi's mingling with a foreign Uni-Mind during the Collection Obsession may have accelerated the curse. Sersi doesn't buy the idea of a curse.
On top of that, she's made the Black Knight her "Gann Josin", without really explaining to him what it means.
It turns out that they are now mentally bonded, with the idea that he can help stabilize her. Crystal, of course, is not happy about that.
We also learn during this story that the reason Proctor has the Gatherers killing off the Avengers in all timelines is because he's trying to wipe out all instances of Sersi, who was his "wife", and to not belabor things, he later says that he was her Gann Josin. So that's your big honking clue about Proctor's identity. The main challenge is staying awake long enough to get to it. Dane even winds up with red eyes like Proctor has.
Despite what he's been forced into, the Black Knight tells Crystal that it's her that he loves. Both Sersi and the fake Vision witness their subsequent kiss.
In other news, Crystal has a new costume.
Issue #360 is the first of four issues where, to "celebrate" the 30th anniversary of the Avengers, we will have to endure a hologram cover every third month. It comes with the usual bullshit back-up feature.
I really like the Epting/Palmer art - Palmer being a big part of it. But storywise it's juuuust sooooo slooooow. Nothing really happens in these issues. It's just a big angsty soap opera with never-before-mentioned mystical mumbo jumbo regarding the Eternals. I guess i don't really like what's been going on with Sersi. She should be adding some fun to this book with her carefree spirit, not going mad and killing people or falling in love with a doofus like the Black Knight. I really find the Black Knight being in the middle of a love triangle to be odd, i guess because i met him when he was the guy pining away for the Wasp, who never even noticed him. Now he's got Crystal and Sersi fighting over him. And Sersi should be the type that shrugs her shoulders if someone isn't interested in her and moves on to someone who is willing to be more fun. As for Proctor & the Gambles, i'm predisposed to disliking alternate universe stuff to begin with, but the bigger issue is how they've been lurking pretty much as the only bad guys in this series (and just wait until the next arc). They're not actually doing anything; they're just around, and it's boring.
Now if you will forgive me, i must go lie down, for i am W'yry.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 175,025. Single issue closest to filing date = 149,500.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Crystal and Quicksilver's attempt at reconciliation in X-Factor #89-90. The next arc begins the day after this one. And since that arc features the return of Henry Pym as Giant-Man, it should take place after Avengers West Coast annual #8.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showArex, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Widow, Captain America, Crystal, Hercules, Ikaris, Karia, Magdalene, Proctor, Sersi, Sloth, Sprite, Swordsman (Gatherers), Tabula Rasa, Vision, Vision (Gatherers)
Isn't the third Eternal just Ajak, who maybe washed his outfit with too much bleach?
I already mentioned in an earlier review that I was shocked to discover how far behind the Dutch translations of the Avengers were. Issue 355 came out in februari 1995 here! But I just looked up some more old comics of mine, and now I realize they were also very out of sync: Infinity Crusade and the Spidey tie-ins for that came out in 1993! I only got into comics in 1998, so all the earlier stuff I own I collected as back issues, and thus I never really realized this until I noticed this site covering quite a lot of the Gatherer's saga before getting to the Crusade!
Posted by: Berend | October 4, 2016 3:24 PM
Maybe he was intended to be Ajak, but he's not named in this story, and he'll later be called Arex. Ajak is technically dead, per Eternals: The Herod Factor #1.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 4, 2016 3:31 PM
Starting with these issues, the letters pages had scenes from comics appearing as a "background" for the letters. It didn't go over very well. One letter complained "Will you stop with the unreadable letters pages before we all go blind?"
Posted by: Michael | October 4, 2016 7:44 PM
I also think that the other Eternal was supposed to be Ajak... although I don't understand why he's green?
Re: Dane's eyes. Yes, they are become like Proctor's but... they also make him look more like Gambit. Soon, Dane's will also modify his costume to feature metal boots...
Anyway, I still contend that the Gatherers / Proctor storyline was good!
Posted by: Piotr W | October 4, 2016 7:45 PM
Since I did not read these in real time, I find it surprising how important the Black Knight as a character is in these past few issues. It seems Stern's run and this really helped make him seem more like a real Avenger (for example the originals, Hawkeye and the twins, Wonder Man and Vision) instead of one of those characters who is around for some issues and then disappears.
I am not impressed with the quality of these issues, but I do like that.
Posted by: Chris | October 5, 2016 2:30 AM
@Chris - the two Avengers run I read first/the most, as a kid getting into comics, were this one and the Stern one. I thus assumed that Black Knight was one of the lynchpins of the Avengers, on par with Cap or Hawkeye or Iron Man, and was shocked when I eventually got my hands on other AVENGERS issues and realized he's barely appeared as an Avenger outside of those two runs.
Still dig this run - it's pure soap opera, yeah, but that's what got me into comics. And I'd argue that the problem with a more carefree Sersi is that "carefree" doesn't really have much dramatic weight. If she doesn't care about anything, then there's no stakes. Which is fine when she was just a one-off guest-star type, but once Harras decided to make her a regular (for better or worse), her character needed to change at least a little to function in an ongoing setting.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | October 5, 2016 9:24 AM
I think we're far enough along here to point out a weird parallel between Harras's Avengers and DeFalco's Fantastic Four runs, beyond trying to retell the Dark Phoenix saga with Sersi and the Invisible Woman. Proctor and the soon-to-appear Dark Raider are alternate universe heroes who suffer personal tragedy and react by throwing what are essentially multi-universal hissy fits, serial killing completely innocent alternate versions of the people they knew, inarguably making a bad situation worse. There's a grandeur to the scope of these stories that is completely undercut by ridiculously flimsy motivations of the villains.
Posted by: Andrew | October 5, 2016 9:32 AM
These were my first issues ever of the main Avengers title at age 13... I had been reading AWC for about a year, mainly because the lineup had Avengers I knew in it -- Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye, Iron Man. I knew who Hercules and Black Widow and Black Knight were though, and I figured I'd give the main book a try. Although even at 13 I knew with the jackets Harras was trying way too hard to make Avengers into the X-Men. I still preferred AWC until it was cancelled.
Posted by: Jeff | October 5, 2016 9:45 AM
As for why all the girls luurve the Black Knight, well, it's gotta be the mullet. Look at that beautiful thing.
Posted by: kveto | October 5, 2016 2:19 PM
Yeah, msny of the Avengers sites I visired in the late 90s accused Harras of trying to create a "proto-Gambit" via the Black Knight. Note the changes:
Also why is putting Vision on shoes important? (Or any kinds of clothes for that matter since though the whole point of the Vision was that he was a "glorified toaster"?)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 5, 2016 5:11 PM
@Andrew- to be fair, in Proctor's case, it's suggested that the Curse is encouraging him to kill as many people as possible.
Posted by: Michael | October 5, 2016 8:24 PM
Proctor and the Gambles?!?
Epting and Palmer saved this entire storyline.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | October 6, 2016 12:00 AM
@Andrew - I had not noticed the similarities between Proctor and the Dark Raider before. Good point.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 6, 2016 12:23 PM
It's not on a "par" with the Sue Storm Slut Suit (with convenient cutouts!) but Crystal's new costume here really pushed my "okay, that's TOO far" button. I mean, the ultra-visible white accents are over her breasts and pubic area? Gee, Steve, I already knew where they were, you didn't have to draw me a road map. Sheesh. I would have settled for the low-cut top and a color change, if you somehow were being pushed to kill off the Kirby version.
Cap's high-handedness is because the most-prominent members of this group (Dane, Sersi, Herc, the Vision) were all part of the "let's kill him!" posse that went futilely after the Supreme Intelligence on Hala, back in #350. Since Cap considers that an ethical low point for the team, he's not going to be all "Bros!" the minute he shows up. (Of course Swordsman II didn't get a vote and Crystal would have been completely on Cap's side, and at least Natasha was willing to listen in Cap #401, but overall this group feels very un-Avenger-like, from Cap's p.o.v. Not sure if he knows about the murders that Sersi is suspected in, but if so…)
Posted by: Dan Spector | January 18, 2018 11:01 AM
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