To read Avengerous Tales 2.40, go here!
Cover by Jack Kirby! COVER BY JACK KIRBY! COVER BY JACK KIRBY!!!
Also, bless both these cover artists for not putting the nose on Iron Man’s mask. I don’t know if they forgot it or just straight-up refused to do it, but either way, I’m sure we’re all grateful.
We start with Lady Lark, Hyperion and Golden Archer reporting back to the Squadron’s satellite HQ (hmmm, could this be a gentle poke at DC’s Justice League’s headquarters, I wonder?) to say that they still haven’t gotten the Serpent Crown back. But that’s okay—Captain Hawk, like all good birds of prey, is keeping an eye on them.
Meanwhile, President Rockefeller holds a meeting with all the others whom the crown once possessed.
So the Avengers still don’t know where Vision and Scarlet Witch have got to, so they decide to split up—Iron Man and Cap in one direction, Beast and Hellcat in the other. Almost immediately, the latter two bump into Tom Thumb, Captain Hawk, and this charmer named Amphibian.
But let’s not forget about Thor and Moondragon! As they are flying back to Avengers Mansion, she asks him why he’s an Avenger. Thor is confused by the question and even moreso by her motive for asking it.
So while Dr. Spectrum beats up Iron Man, Whizzer runs literal circles around Cap and even tries to give him a big speech about how the Squadron is just as patriotic as Captain America is. That, uh, doesn’t go well. Nobody out-patriots Captain America, dangit!
And, with Spectrum distracted by Whizzer’s sudden and very painful defeat, Iron Man turns the tables and knocks Spectrum out too. Just as they finish up this so-called “battle of the century” (no, that’s really what the comic labels it as), the rest of the Avengers—including Vision and the Scarlet Witch, and the Serpent Crown of course—arrive to regroup and come up with a plan to save this alternate Earth from the crown’s power.
Meanwhile, back on the Avengers’ Earth, Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne have just been released from the hospital. They discuss what they want to do with their lives now, and by discuss I mean Janet wants to rejoin the Avengers and yells at Hank for not being sure he wants the same.
Why is she saying that she’ll go superheroing alone like that’s a threat? They’re married, not joined at the hip. They’re allowed to have separate pursuits and interests. I can understand Jan being disappointed or a little upset at the prospect of not being able to fight crime with the man she (supposedly) loves, especially since they’ve been doing it for so long, but she should know better than anyone how rough Hank’s had it throughout his superhero career—the constant size-changing difficulties, the struggles with mental illness, creating Ultron. Who can blame the guy for wanting to leave that behind and live the quiet life of a scientist? Why is Jan being such a jerk about it?
Anyway, more on that next time. The Squadron Supreme heads to the White House to assure President Rockefeller that they’ll continue to work on getting his crown back. Rockefeller, however, starts spewing nonsense about how big businessmen and politicians are horrible and corrupt and are willing to lie through their teeth to get the power they crave. Clearly the only way a politician would admit that is if he’s not really a politician but rather an imposter who tied up the real politician and left him in a closet.
While Wanda holds off the Squadron, the others activate the counterpart to their own (or rather, Doom’s) time machine, which was hidden in the White House (how convenient). They escape, and the Squadron Supreme very nearly gives chase, but most of the Squadron has come to their senses and realize Rockefeller’s/Beast’s spiel was 100% accurate, and they elect to let the Avengers go in favor of rethinking their own life choices. No word on whether they untie Rockefeller or not.
Well it wasn’t quite the battle of the century, but there was plenty of action and banter, even if the Squadron realized the error of their ways pretty fast. Maybe they already suspected they were in the wrong and were just looking for an excuse to turn against the government.
In the next issue, Thor and Moondragon return to the Mansion first and encounter a worried Jarvis, who hasn’t heard from the others in ages. (Kinda hard to leave a voicemail from another universe.) Although Thor is still pissed at Moondragon’s claim that she and he are better than the other Avengers, he lets her accompany him to Long Island, the missing Avengers’ last known location.
And just what has become of the other Avengers? They’re hosting a garden party. What do you think they’re doing?
Jones is about to have them all murdered horribly when Thor and Moondragon arrive. Jones decides to have them murdered horribly as well and sends his secret weapon, who turns out to be “Orka, the Human Killer Whale,” after the last heroes standing. Which might be intimidating except, a, his name is Orka the Human Killer Whale, and b, he looks like this.
Despite the doofy name and costume, Orka has really thick blubbery skin, which largely protects him from Mjolnir. Moondragon fairs better with her mental blast... for about ten seconds, and then it’s up to Thor once again.
Meanwhile, Jones and Baxter have the others chained up to a Roxxon invention called the electro-incinerogram, which is designed to fry people so hard they don’t even leave ashes. Jeez, just call it the Deathtron 5000 or something why don’t you? It’s much shorter and gets the point across much better.
Instead of killing everyone right away, however, Jones decides to wait until Orka has killed Thor and Moondragon. Because clearly that’s an inevitability with no chance of not coming to pass. But first, here, have an out-of-context panel!
So Thor defeats Orka in a big showy display of rainstorms and lightning strikes with zero help from Moondragon, who was actually awake for most of the time but pretended not to be so Thor could discover that he really is better than everyone else. She seems sensible, risking everyone’s lives like that just to prove some dumbass point. CLEARLY she is the superior one here. Are you beginning to see why I really don’t like Moondragon? And if you’re thinking this all leads to some character development with her realizing she shouldn’t be such a snob... no. No it does not.
While this is going on, Hellcat breaks loose of the Deathtron 5000 and beats up her ex-husband Buzz. While I personally have little emotional connection to these characters, I’m kind of wondering how fans of the original Patsy Walker comic felt about all this. See, Patsy started out as more of an Archie-esque character who starred in her own teen humor comic, so turning Buzz into a bad guy seems like the equivalent of making Betty Cooper a sniper for some enemy government (though given the recent trend in Archie, they’ll probably be doing that within a year or two).
So Hellcat threatens Buzz until he releases all the Avengers, and we get a brief epilogue where Thor explains why it took so long for him to cream Orka...
Or maybe someone else...?
To read Avengerous Tales 2.42, go here!
Images from Avengers #148 and Avengers #149