Saturday, July 30, 2016

Avengerous Tales 2.40 - Avengers #146-#147

To read Avengerous Tales 2.39, go here!
Just a reminder—the previous issue was created by Tony Isabella, Scott Edelman and Don Heck rather than the usual creative team of Steve Englehart and George Pérez.  In this first issue, we also get an art assist from Keith Pollard before returning to our regular folks.

So we start with the Avengers (and Cap’s partner the Falcon—but don’t get excited, he does absolutely nothing) waiting for news of their friend’s condition.

P.S. They haven’t found Cap’s attacker because the Assassin assassinated him too.  So determined is the Assassin to leave no trace that he murders all of his henchmen once they’ve finished their jobs—or once they’ve screwed up, like the guys at the hospital did by letting Hawkeye see them.  You’d think word of this would have gotten around by now and people would stop wanting to work for this guy.
Speaking of the Assassin, he’s got a hit squad squatting on a rooftop across the street from the Avengers, just waiting for the signal to attack.

Back at the hospital, Dr. Donald Blake (a.k.a. Thor) is performing an operation on the good captain.  Apparently Mr. Fantastic came up with a theory that the gun Cap was shot with infused him with radiation that’s slowly killing him, so now Blake has to put some “counter-radiation capsules” inside Cap to stop their effects.  As much as I don’t particularly like Reed Richards, the man knows his radiation, so I’m willing to bet he’s right on the money here.

And outside the operating theater...

I can’t decide if I want to comment on how Iron Man looks like he’s about to kiss the LMD or on how Iron Man seriously needs to stop making copies of Thor you have a problem, man, get help.

A friendly nurse brings Iron Man and Hawkeye some coffee... which of course is drugged, leaving them vulnerable when a bunch of the Assassin’s lackeys come charging down the hall.  Or maybe the hospital’s coffee really is that bad.

The Vision—who, while capable of drinking, didn’t feel like coffee at the time and is therefore not drugged—valiantly defends his teammates from the assault, but there are simply too many baddies for one synthezoid and two half-asleep humans to handle.

Meanwhile, two other flunkies have taken aim at “Thor” with unexpected results.

Now all that needs to happen is for Iron Man to pop out and say “Smile!  You’re on Candid Camera!

The Assassin finally shows up himself and examines Thor’s body.  Apparently he’s the only non-idiot here because he can actually tell the difference between a robot and a person.  He’s also figured out that Don Blake and Thor are the same person—not like that’s hard—and opens the door to the operating room just enough to aim his gun at Blake’s back.  The only thing that stops him from shooting is... an arrow?

Basically, the hospital coffee was so nasty that Hawkeye threw it up before it could do any real harm.  Iron Man pretends the same thing happened to him, but in reality, the poison was supposed to kill him by destroying his heart.  However, waaaaay back in Avengers #69, Tony’s faulty real heart was replaced by a stronger synthetic one, so he just felt dizzy for a while but is now fine.

Infuriated, the Assassin takes aim at Hawkeye, only to be hilariously defeated when Don Blake opens the door of the operating theater and sends him sprawling.  Even worse (for the Assassin), Captain America will make a full recovery.  He tries to retrieve his weapon, but the Avengers knock it away and Iron Man helpfully destroys half his costume to make sure he’s got no more hidden weapons.  Is this a new Avengers battle tactic?  Strip the bad guys?

The crazy mass murderer has a point.

Also, Iron Man’s plan to ensure the Assassin had no more weapons didn’t even work, because she pulls a smoke bomb from out of nowhere and escapes.  She runs outside and tells her remaining lackeys to get ready to fire, but they don’t recognize the Assassin without the hood (even though she’s still got the rest of the outfit on) and shoot her instead.

So the Assassin—turns out her name is Maria—is dead, fourteen of her henchmen die of poisoning before Pym and Blake discover an antidote for the poison she infected them with, and the man who hired the Assassin on behalf of all those unnamed villains in the first place is actually her father, who also shoots his (understandably pissed off) son Angelo before taking his own life.

Well that sure happened!

The Assassin was a pretty underwhelming villain.  I guess she amassed an impressive number of henchmen, but we never get to see her do much, except get smacked in the fanny by a door.  I think the real problem here is the fact that these were replacement issues rather than a fully thought-out storyline.  There is just so much crammed in here—this story really needed more room in order to work.  Props to Isabella and Edelman for giving it their all, but maybe they should have given it a little less than that.

Okay!  We’re finally going back to the main plot.  Quick recap: Roxxon and its subsidiary Brand Corp. hired former heroes the Squadron Supreme to take on the Avengers, Patsy Walker became Hellcat just in time for Roxxon CEO Hugh Jones to zap everyone to the Squadron's home universe, and the Two-Gun Kid wants to go back to the future.  Go!

Good thing, too, or else you’d be dead.

The Avengers and the Squadron go at it for a while, but then the army shows up.  As Hyperion helpfully points out, things have changed on the Squadron’s planet since the Avengers last visited.  The Squadron actually works with the army now, keeping things all lawful and orderly (for given definitions of the words).  And look who’s their commander in chief!

Future presidents of this world include Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and Ted Cruz.  Also, nice hat, pal.

Actually, there’s a story behind that hat.  It’s the Serpent Crown, an ancient evil relic from the lost civilization of Lemuria (populated entirely by lemurs, I assume) that takes over the mind of anyone who puts it on.  There’s a similar relic on the Avengers’ Earth, so Cap recognizes it as bad news the second he lays eyes on it.

The Vision turns intangible and snatches the crown off Rockefeller’s head, throwing it to the Scarlet Witch for safekeeping.  Rockefeller orders everyone to stand down lest they destroy the crown, and the Avengers walk away.

But the crown is a bit more powerful than they thought: as with the crystal skulls in that one Indiana Jones movie we never talk about, all the crowns are connected and in communication with each other, as are all the people who have ever worn it.  As such, Rockefeller gets in touch with our Earth’s Hugh Jones, who was once kidnapped by the Serpent Society and forced to wear the crown way back in Captain America #181.

Jones had managed to get rid of the police by convincing them some missile tests just went awry, and now he’s free to mentally chat with Rockefeller.  Meanwhile, Wanda tries to figure out more about the crown without actually putting it on.  She learns that just about everyone of importance on this world has worn the crown at some point.

Uh, guys?

But let’s not forget about Thor, Moondragon, Hawkeye and the Two-Gun Kid, who have just returned from 19th century Arizona to 20th century Arizona.  Hawkeye decides to stay out there with Two-Gun and show him how to live in the present/future.

Wow, Hawkeye, thanks for reminding me one last time why I will not miss you at all.  Rule #1 for the Future, Two-Gun: don’t be a racist jerkweed.

Back with the others, Vision notices Scarlet Witch lagging and tries to take the crown before she completely loses it.  Too little too late, though—Wanda calls him an “unfeeling computer” and runs away to take the crown back to President Rockefeller.  She runs right into Hyperion, Lady Lark and the Golden Archer.  This ticks off the Vision, who, while Wanda tries to fight off the crown’s power, goes toe-to-toe with the three Squaddies.

The Vision mostly holds his own, but three against one is a little much, even for him.  Fortunately, he’s not alone—Wanda KO’s Lady Lark before she can take him down.

You get zero dollars if you guessed it was the power of love that saved them.  Sappy?  Yes.  But kind of nice too that Wanda’s love for the Vision helped her overcome the Serpent Crown’s control.  This time, when the Vision says he will carry it for her, she lets him.  N’awwww.  Also: phew!

To read Avengerous Tales 2.41, go here!

Images from Avengers #146 and Avengers #147

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