Saturday, July 2, 2016

Avengerous Tales 2.36 - Avengers #138-#139

To read Avengerous Tales 2.35, go here!

Prescription: Death doesn't tell me very much.  How often am I supposed to take death?  How many deaths can I safely take at one time?  What are the potential side effects of death?  Does death have any contraindications?

I don't think Whirlwind has ever even seen a medical school...

We begin with the Avengers—the old guard and the as-yet-unofficial new members Beast and Moondragon—leaving the hospital, where the Wasp is in critical condition.  Yellowjacket is, understandably, hella pissed, and he leads them all back to Avengers Mansion to begin the hunt for the Stranger.

Oh no we’ll have go another issue without Hawkeye what a shame

Before anyone can think of mounting a rescue mission, the Mansion is rocked by another, much stronger mental blast from the Stranger.  The purpose of this one is to probe everyone’s minds for the Scarlet Witch’s location—which, fortunately for her, none of the Avengers know.  Even more fortunately, Yellowjacket already has a plan.

But what if the Stranger mind-blasts them again from a distant location instead of actually following?  Simple enough: Iron Man, Beast and Yellowjacket will remain behind and rig something up to track the mind-blast to its source, while Thor and Moondragon head on out to not-warn Vision and Wanda.

So Thor and Moondragon head out to an abandoned island in the Florida Keys to await the Stranger’s arrival.  The Stranger shows up right on time.  Well, at least he’s a polite kidnapper.

That depends.  Does anyone happen to have an electronic thumb handy?

Thor and Moondragon kick the Stranger’s barely-clad behind, only to discover that he’s just an illusion.  As you may have guessed earlier, Yellowjacket was right: the Stranger was attacking them remotely, specifically, from a spaceship.  Iron Man, YJ and Beast snag a quinjet and infiltrate Stranger’s ship, only to be attacked by the Stranger himself—the real one this time.

The Beast gets separated from the others, which gives him the chance to shine.  It is his debut as an Avenger, after all.  Gotta let him show us what he can do.  And what he can do is make like Edward G. Robinson again, startling the Stranger into dropping his disguise...

Hey look, it’s that guy the Avengers abandoned in a prison in another dimension.  I wonder if he holds a grudge against them or anything.

We'll get to that later.  Right now, Toad’s only stated motivation was that he didn’t want to play second banana to anybody anymore, so he stole some machines to make himself more powerful.  Yellowjacket overhears all this and tries to beat up Toad, only for Toad to use his machines to make Hank think he’s fighting a giant octopus thing until Iron Man shuts the machine down.

At least, Iron Man assumes the machine was responsible.  Yellowjacket doesn’t seem real sure, and considering his history of ambiguously defined mental health issues, to say nothing of this line on the last page of the issue...

...there might be something else going on here.

Anyway, most of the rest of the comic is taken up by Toad explaining his plan in more detail.  Apparently, the Avengers did NOT abandon him on Arkon’s world, but rather, Toad requested to be left behind so he could use the resources there to build a spaceship and pilot his way back to the planet where the Stranger had imprisoned Magneto and Toad ages ago.  Nice save, Englehart.  A little convoluted (they didn’t have the equipment to build spaceships on Earth?), but nice save.

That planet was the Stranger’s main base, and he had all sorts of fancy equipment there that Toad taught himself how to use, loaded onto his ship and brought back to Earth with the intention of impressing the Scarlet Witch into marrying him.  When he found out she was already married, he changed plans and attacked the Avengers instead.

Dang, Toadie sure is a lot smarter and stronger than we all gave him credit for.  Building a functioning spaceship by himself, hauling giant machines onto it by himself... but Iron Man isn’t impressed and tells him to shut up while he gets them all back to Earth.

So the next issue begins with Yellowjacket threatening to murder Toad unless he cures his wife, as one does, but Toad is a villain not a doctor dammit and the actual doctors are so annoyed about all the shouty superheroes that they kick everyone out of Jan’s sick room.  But that’s the least of Yellowjacket’s problems...

It’s called a door, Moondragon.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Whirlwind—an old enemy of Hank and Jan’s, if you’ll recall—twirls his way past all the Avengers and grabs the comatose Jan, only to be stopped short by Moondragon’s mind blast.  Not a moment too soon either: as soon as he leaves, Hank experiences another burst of pain as a result of the virus still in his system.  The Avengers try to help but he tells them to mind their own beeswax and leaves.

Yes how dare the mentally ill man who’s just been pushed into superheroing against his will by his emotionally abusive wife only for said wife to be attacked not once but twice lose his temper.  WHAT NERVE.

(To be fair, Iron Man admits as much in the next panel.  Well, kinda.  They’re still not acknowledging that Hank has schizophrenia or that Jan’s an amoral brat.  Because they’re stupid.  That’s still a pretty nasty comment from Iron Man, though.)

So while Iron Man and Moondragon head out to go find Hawkeye, Yellowjacket storms out of the hospital and encounters Charles, Jan’s former chauffeur.  You may remember that “Charles” is really the Whirlwind in disguise (especially if you clicked the link above), but Yellowjacket doesn’t know that, even though Charles was apparently fired for trying to steal from Jan.  Hank tells him to buzz off, which Charles does—right back to Jan’s hospital room.  Unfortunately for him, Beast and Thor are still with her, so his dreams of murder will have to wait for another day.

Meanwhile, on a quinjet...

“He told me you like crossdressing.”
“Oh good.  Then you won’t mind if I ask to borrow your eyeshadow?”

Iron Man then hits on her but is very firmly rebuffed.  Unlike creepy stalker Hawkeye, he does know how to take a hint.

When they arrive in Latveria, Moondragon and Iron Man search Doctor Doom’s old castle for any sign of the time machine that Hawkeye was supposed to have used to visit the Black Knight.  But no matter how hard they search, there is no time machine to be found, meaning Hawkeye’s lost in time somewhere.  Or maybe he decided that while he was mucking about in the past he might as well take a shot at killing Hitler.

Whirlwind tries to attack Yellowjacket at his house, only to flee at the sight of one of Hank’s weapons.  It’s a very new weapon, though, so Whirlwind’s utter terror at the sight of it makes no sense... unless, of course, he already knew what it was.

Hank, not being stupid, puts two and two together and puts a plan together.  But first, an interlude with our happy honeymooners, Vision and Scarlet Witch.

Wanda is understandably nervous about announcing their marriage to the world, given the amount of anti-mutant and anti-synthezoid sentiment out there, but of course they can’t hide away on Rurutu forever.

Back in New York, Yellowjacket confronts Charles/Whirlwind, growing and shrinking carelessly as he does everything in his power to bring the man down.  The constant size-changing strains him so badly that the pain returns worse than ever, sending him sprawling to the floor.  Hank is about to meet the nasty end of Whirlwind’s boot when the boisterous Beast bounds to his rescue.

Protip: Always hide your pain, whether physical or emotional.  This will never, ever backfire, especially if you’re a superhero.

So Iron Man came off as a royal prick this issue, but I’m still more concerned by the fact that the Avengers are falling back into their old pattern of needing to rescue Wasp every ten minutes and squabbling over who leads the team.  (Iron Man and Thor had a brief tiff just before the flight to Latveria, mainly because both Thor and Tony were crushing on Moondragon and each wanted to keep her for himself.)

Nostalgia’s all well and good, fellas, but we made progress for a reason—that reason being that it’s annoying for the (formerly only) female superhero to constantly need saving, and that it’s boring to watch the Avengers fight over the same old stuff all the time.

To read Avengerous Tales 2.37, go here!

Images from Avengers #138 and Avengers #139

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