Avengers annual #20
Issue(s): Avengers annual #20
Anyway, for whatever reason, i've always loved the idea of the various underground races in the Marvel universe going to war with each other. We've seen the idea multiple times already, and it's never been executed all that well, and that's really the case for this one too, but i still like the idea. I think part of the reason that they've been a little unsatisfying is that all of the underground leaders are, broadly speaking, villains (the Mole Man has been treated the most sympathetically). And that, by necessity, Marvel heroes have to get involved, and that in the end means that we don't get to see a drawn out examination of the characters and strategies of the various groups. It winds up being either a backdrop for a story about the heroes, or a case of the heroes actually having to stop the war (or it becomes a proxy for the Winter Olympics). I guess i'm looking for some kind of Lord of the Rings style epic with minimal involvement from super-heroes, which i grant is unrealistic (although something like that sure would have spiced up Super-Villain Team-Up for a few issues).
Anyway, this iteration of the Subterranean Wars adds a few new players to the mix, namely the Deviants and Grotesk. We start with a group of Moloids, Tyrannoids, and Lava Men bursting out of the street on Broadway. Sersi and Hercules are nearby, having gone to a Broadway show, so they are the first to respond. But the other Avengers show up soon enough.
The Black Widow's costume remains white for this entire issue. Hercules gets his costume back without explanation, although it changes from green to brown depending on the panel. We can assume Sersi created it for him, even though she didn't do so in the first scan above (not enough time?), and maybe what she created is a little unstable, hence the color changes.
The Avengers are able to drive the Subterraneans back into the ground, and the Avengers follow.
They observe that the creatures are more panicked than anything...
...and the Mole Man, Tyrannus, and Grotesk show up to confirm that the breaching of the surface world was not actually an attack.
Amazingly, Rage immediately gets in Grotesk's face and launches a verbal assault.
I guess his name is Rage, but based on his criticism of the Avengers in his earliest appearances, you'd think he'd be the last guy to attack people based on looks.
Anyway, things settle down and an explanation is given. Grotesk claims to have given up his goal of destroying humanity in vengeance for wiping out his people with nuclear tests. He became the leader of a group of Lava Men because his people once ruled their ancestors. These were some of the "few" Lava Men that did not get turned to gold after Avengers #307, although judging by this story there are a heck of a lot of them. He was content ruling his Lava Men until he was attacked by a new breed of Deviant Mutates. He then joined up with the Mole Man and Tyrannus, who have also been attacked by Deviants. It's said that a lot of the technology that the Mole Man and Tyrannus have been using over the years was really created and then abandoned by the Deviants, and now the Deviants are taking it back. And it's said that there is a new leader in Lemuria. Kro has abdicated the throne and, after a civil war, a new leader named Brutus is in charge. He "commands the new breed of Mutates".
The Avengers debate whether or not to believe the Subterranean leaders.
They ultimately agree to an alliance, with the Subterranean leaders promising to forswear attacks on the surface world if the Avengers help.
Cap and the Black Widow go back to the surface world to recruit more Avengers, and the rest stay with the Mole Man and company. We see an old woman observing Cap and the Widow as they leave.
That's Kala, and we see her again at the end of this story, making her way to Iron Man on the West Coast.
Also note that "stand and wait" line, which is from from John Milton's On His Blindness, is very popular around this time and keeps popping up in various books.
Two notes while the Avengers are traveling with the Subterranean leaders. Mole Man comments on making She-Hulk his queen, foreshadowing She-Hulk #32-33. And Tyrannus tells Hercules that he's hiding his face because he's gotten old now that his access to the Fountain of Youth has been cut off. We'll see in the Hulk annual that that's just a matter of perception.
Anyway, the group are soon attacked by Brutus and the Deviants.
It's worth really looking at the distinction between "Deviants" and "Mutates" in this story. If this was your first encounter with the Deviants, you could be forgiven for thinking that Deviants are green mostly humanoid looking guys, whereas mutates are random monsters. That's even pretty much said by Hercules.
The "Mutates" here are all synthetic creations of the Deviants.
In truth, the whole point of Deviants is that each one of them is unique and most are pretty weird looking. That isn't to say that the Deviants couldn't also have started creating a new breed of synthetic Mutates, and that's what we'll go with, but the fact that the three official Deviants all look nearly identical still seems wrong. And as we'll see, this whole story hinges on Deviants being very distinct from Mutates.
She-Hulk and the Vision are captured by the Deviants and held hostage, forcing the others to surrender.
And that's where this chapter ends. But while you might think that the fact that there are four more parts to this story means that the Avengers will soon get free or that Cap and the Widow will get to the surface to call in more heroes to help, the truth is that the Avengers (but not Mole Man, Tyrannus, or Grotesk, who aren't caught) remain in storage until the final part; even Cap and the Widow get waylaid off panel immediately after parting with the group. So the middle 3 parts of this story focus on other characters getting involved in minor aspects of the plot and then we return to what is effectively part two of the story started here in chapter 5. So as i mentioned above, this Subterranean War is less of a plot in and of itself and more of a backdrop for adventures for various heroes.
Still, it's a simple kind of big dumb fun that one expects from the Annual events at this point, and like i said, i do have a soft spot for this scenario.
This issue also has a nice history piece by Peter Sanderson covering all of the Subterranean races. One thing we learn is that Grotesk's people were created by the Deviants (by genetically experimenting on human slaves), and that Grotesk's people later began worshipping the demon Cha'Sa'Dra, who turned them into Lava Men. We learn that the little yellow guys that work for the Mole Men and Tyrannus (the Moloids and Tyrannoids, respectively) were also created by the Deviants, with years of interbreeding eventually causing them to lose intelligence and strength and, for "most" of them, the ability to speak. It's also said that Sir Percy, the medieval Black Knight (Sir Percy), once fought Tyrannus, and it was after that that Merlin banished him to Subterranea, where he took control over the Tyrannoids.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Hercules is said to be serving in Thor's stead in this issue, although it's not said why. Quasar is wearing the Quasar #18 version of his costume, but the Hulk portion of this event takes place in a post Infinity Gauntlet status quo. That would be a conundrum except that Quasar also wore the wrong costume all through Infinity Gauntlet and eventually provides an explanation for it, so we can use that same explanation here. Sandman's appearance is another instance (after Captain America #386) where he's back on the team after quitting in Amazing Spider-Man #348, which is explained by the events of the back-up in this year's Spider-Man annuals. This is part one of the Subterranean Wars; part two takes place in Hulk annual #17. Two back-up stories from this issue are covered in a separate entry.
Crossover: Subterranean Wars
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Was it explained how Tyrannus survived being eaten by a demon in Atlantis Attacks?
Posted by: Bob | October 16, 2015 5:48 PM
No, it's not explained.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 16, 2015 6:01 PM
"By the by... my name is Brutus."
Ugh, terrible, inelegant dialogue. This is very lazy writing. Passable in the sixties and seventies, but by the nineties, the expectations are little bit higher.
Posted by: Chris | October 16, 2015 9:34 PM
Rage doesn't launch an attack on anyone--unless you're counting a verbal assault. All he did was say Grotesk is ugly (and come on, his name IS "Grotesk", after all), and then Grotesk threw the first punch.
Posted by: Dermie | October 16, 2015 11:34 PM
@Dermie, i've clarified my line about Rage's "attack", but i still think Rage is being very aggressive. He's not making cracks from the back of the group. It looks like he's walking towards Grotesk, hurling insults and spoiling for a fight.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 17, 2015 11:09 AM
I agree Rage is being aggressive--but, as you noted before, it goes along with his name. And with the fact that he is a pre-teen kid. Impulse control isn't necessarily his strong suit.
Posted by: Dermie | October 17, 2015 4:30 PM
If you look closely in Infinity Gauntlet #2 (or maybe it was #3?), you can see the Avengers had tried to call Sandman - among other reservists shown on their monitors - so, it seems off-panel they must've explained properly to Sandman the situation.
Posted by: Scott | December 4, 2015 3:36 PM
Maybe since Paul Ryan was doing the idea he should have done the penciling, because he's at least competent (more than that actually, but competency is a big step up from this dreck).
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 15, 2016 8:59 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|