To read Avengerous Tales 2.37, go here!
Was this cover artist incapable of showing dangerous scenes without a damsel in distress? The Scarlet Witch is hardly in this issue, and she’s certainly never in more peril than anyone else. What is this nonsense?
So when we left off, Moondragon, Thor and Immortus had landed themselves in 1873 and promptly met with the business end of several pistols. If anyone here is familiar with Marvel’s Western comics (or the spectacularly ill-advised reimagining of the Rawhide Kid) you’ll probably already know the owners of those pistols.
Lol poor Ringo Kid. There’s really no reason for him to be squished in the back like that—they’re on an open plain. They could all be four abreast if they wanted, but for some reason he’s stuck lurking behind everyone else. Maybe the Two-Gun Kid was embarrassed that they showed up in the same vest.
In the ensuing conversation, Rawhide Kid lets slip a mention of Hawkeye, and our heroes demand that they take them directly to him. Our Western crossover buddies obey immediately (hey, wouldn’t you?) and take them to the seemingly abandoned town of Tombstone, where Hawkeye has been hanging around shirtless because of reasons. “Reasons,” in this case, means Kang, who intercepted him on his way to the 12th century.
LIKE A RECORD BABY
RIGHT ROUND ROUND ROUND
Obviously Hawkeye landed in Tombstone, but something’s weird about it. A giant futuristic building has been constructed beside the town, and the locals are terrified of “the man from Mars.” Sounds like Kang has beat Hawkeye to Tombstone, so our avenging archer decides to investigate.
Shedding his mask and shirt to be inconspicuous—because apparently shirtless men in blue tights are normal in the Marvel universe—Hawkeye remembers reading about Matthew J. Hawk, a Tombstone lawyer who is also Two-Gun Kid, and he goes to him for help in stopping Kang. Two-Gun rounds up his friends to aid the cause, and that about brings us up to speed.
Immortus conveniently informs us all that Kang’s latest plan to take over the 20th century is to take over the 19th century first somehow, thereby wiping the Avengers out of existence before they even get a chance to form (or even be born, for most of them).
Speaking of the Avengers, let’s check in with Cap, Iron Man and the rest back in 1975!
So yeah. Jones, Baxter and the Squadron Supreme have trapped our heroes (and Patsy) in this totally impenetrable cage whipped up by Dr. Spectrum, which also conveniently nullifies Vision’s various powers. Yeah, check back with me in two issues and see if they’re still in there. Then we can call it impenetrable, Doc.
So back in Tombstone, Hawkeye decides that Kang will be after a shipment of uranium coming in on the night train. While our resident cowboys, Hawkeye and Immortus keep watch on horseback from a distance, Thor and Moondragon have donned old Western disguises to blend in on the train... mostly.
I can’t tell if that guy is staring because he thinks they’re weird or hot. Either way, rude.
Before long, a gang of men on horseback attack the train. It ends very, very badly for the desperadoes.
(On a side note when I was grabbing the above wiki link I also found this and I need to go buy an Xbox now holy cow I can't even ahhhhhhh)
So the whole gang is rounded up, and the issue ends with Hawkeye preparing to make them spill the beans about Kang’s master plan.
Well, nerds and nerdlings, we are now exactly halfway through the 1970s—the cover date of the upcoming issue is January 1976. We’ve sure come a long way, haven’t we?
By the start of the next issue, it’s Kid Colt who’s a bit gun-happy, shooting the baddies’ hats and pants even after their boss agreed to talk. Thor tells him to take a chill pill, which doesn’t really go down well.
A mere page later, Hawkeye is telling his cowboy companions that they should stay behind as they raid Kang’s hideout. So apparently, if the Avengers hadn’t shown up, Hawkeye’s Brilliant Plan was to fight the time-traveling man with the deadly future tech by himself. Not that his new friends will let him—the Kids (and Night Rider) all insist on coming along for the ride.
When they arrive at Kang’s headquarters, the doors mysteriously open to welcome them inside. Well that’s not suspicious or anything.
Meanwhile, in the 20th century, the other Avengers are still stuck in Dr. Spectrum’s cage. The only thing that can move through the beams of the cage is Cap’s shield, which gives Mr. Apple Pie an idea—hold the shield up to the bars, let Vision pass through it, and then Vision can use his solar power to destroy the cage from the outside. How does that go?
So while the Avengers run off to find the Squadron and give them a taste of their own medicine, our time-travelers are confronting what Kang refers to as a "mix of 41st century science and a coyote." Just take a second to imagine what you think that would look like, and then immediately forget it, because I can guarantee that whatever mental image you just came up with is so, so wrong.
Fortunately Thor turned himself into Don Blake to sneak up on Kang and then turned back into Thor to literally kick Kang out of his own house. While Thor whales on Mr. the Conquerer, Moondragon saves the Two-Gun Kid from that not-a-coyote. He doesn’t react real well. Actually, he’s been a bit annoyed at Moondragon since the start. I wonder what’s going on with him...
Anyway, Thor manages to withstand everything Kang throws at him, which freaks Kang out so bad that he overloads his own suit and blows himself (and his HQ) to pieces trying to stop him.
I mean, they try to treat it like it’s a big deal—since Kang’s atoms are “spread throughout all time, never again to be rejoined,” Immortus (a.k.a. Future Kang) will never exist either, and he winks out of existence not long after Kang’s demise as Moondragon cries for the death of a god. But, y’know. Comics. It’s a shame that death is such a revolving door in comics. It really sucks the gravitas out of moments like this.
I wish I could show you more of Pérez’s panel layouts here. It’s hard to tell since I’m only showing a few panels per issue, but the layouts have become increasingly fun and dynamic since Pérez took over the book. I can only recommend that you go read the issues for yourselves so you can see how amazing he is... though maybe you should wait until a less unfortunate inker comes onboard. Have you seen his work with Al Rey in the ’98 Avengers series, or with various inkers in New Teen Titans? Mind-blowing.
To read Avengerous Tales 2.39, go here!
Images from Avengers #142 and Avengers #143