Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The Avengers: Kang, Masters of Evil, Olympus, and the great Roger Stern superhero period
Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.
• The members of this period are notable as experienced super heroes, rather than new ones, and overall older adults. The New York setting Stern used so well in his first two years rarely appears, as the team’s adventures happen mostly in exotic settings, like Limbo, outside time and space; Hydrobase, their new off-shore head quarters in the Atlantic Ocean; and Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods.
Hercules (expansion, space, super-hero period)
*5. Black Knight (transition, Vision/ space period)
Submariner (superhero period)
6. Doctor Druid
Thor, * She-Hulk
A great on-going writer not only develops his characters across the length of his series, but continues consequences from previous storylines, so as to develop the team’s story over time. In this case, the Vision’s breach of national security (see “Ultimate Vision” posts---Loquacious Lue) has lead to a fight for the Avenger’s security clearance. They lose their permit to launch their two Quinjet crafts (the team’s shuttles) out of Manhattan, and so the Wasp goes shopping for real estate. The offer: an artificial island, built for scientific research, owned via international salvage laws now by Dr. Walter Newell, the sometime-costumed hero Stingray.
Along with this new ally, they discover the exiled Submariner, recently dethroned Prince Namor, content to gather seafood for dinners with the Newells and brooding on the beach. This doesn’t sit well with Hercules, who starts a fight just to shake him up. He’s one of the few strong enough to get away with calling him “Prince No More” and tossing him around a bit; it’s his smart aleck way of being good natured and cheering up the Sub-Mariner. Then, he proposes his new sparring partner for membership. Namor, a halfbreed Atlantean royal whose father was a ship captain, has a checkered history: he invaded NYC from Atlantis in those early Fantastic Four stories and often uneasy with the surface world’s pollution and reckless commerce, but he’s also stood as one of Earth’s Mightiest Defenders.
Stern remembers Marvel’s First Mutant was an Allied hero of World War II, and for the first time I know since their clash over the Evil Eye during Englehart’s run, his team work with Captain America is referenced. In a soul-searching conversation on the beach where Cap reveals to Namor for the first time that the Savage Submariner accidentally returned the Star Spangled Avenger to the world from suspended animation, leading to the team finding Cap. The two men strike up their old friendship, which predates the modern Marvel Age, and Cap vouches for the hot tempered ex-monarch’s bid for a new life.
When word gets out gradually, the public is divided, with protesters on both sides of the issue. The Wasp regrets not having a proper press conference to ease his transition, but the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. No pepper spray’s required: Namor proves himself rescuing a helicopter damaged by Moonstone, who’s stirring up the protesters in disguise. No, the interesting bit is the two “security officers” who lead Moonstone away are actually recruiting her for the Masters of Evil! For his trouble, Namor is successfully served a summons, regarding a billions of dollars lawsuit for damages incurred by his previous invasions.
In between, the Beyonder ends his time on Earth, and nearly ends the Earth, save for the efforts of the Molecule Man and the Silver Surfer. The Avengers also get caught in Limbo, the shifting, nebulous place outside of time, with its own eerie progression, and hordes of Dire Wraiths exiled there by Rom, Spaceknight! It’s part of Kang the Conqueror’s plans to eliminate his other divergent selves spawned by his time travels. Captain Marvel observes Captain America’s steadying influence on the Sub Mariner, who she finds very difficult to trust. Hercules also begins to take serious issue with the Wasp, having never in three thousand years obeyed a woman before. Black Knight, beginning to crush on Janet secretly, notes her ability to get Hercules to be constructive, but wonders if the time will come when he won’t be bothered to listen.
They need all the team unity they can manage. Baron Zemo, son of the original Nazi Baron Zemo, wants to destroy Captain America for killing his father (who died from his own attack in early issues of AVENGERS) and his team as well. To this end, he’s assembling the biggest Masters of Evil yet, manipulating their dissension and their base desires to keep as many as seventeen super-villains in line. The story of the Siege of Avengers Mansion is worth a post in itself; that’s where I first bought the title, towards the end of 1986. It’s the definitive Roger Stern Avengers story arc!
NEXT: SIEGE OF AVENGERS MANSION!!!!
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