Collects Avengers vol.3 issues 1-11, Avengers Annual 1998; Iron Man (1998) #7; Captain America (1998) #8; Quicksilver #10
Publisher: Marvel
Publication date: 2011

Almost a year of Busiek’s Avengers! It’s very hard to top this.

The first four issues were collected in the Morgan Conquest . They gather up almost every Avenger ever to battle Morgan la Fay and eventually to form the new team which has internal conflict from the start.

In issue 5, “Accusation Most foul”, a couple of other classic elements returns: the Squadron Supreme and public suspicion. The issue starts with a training sequence where Warbird refuses to use her Binary powers and still doesn’t tell Cap that she doesn’t have them anymore. Meanwhile Tony is helping Vision repair his synthetic body which was wounded in issue 3. While his body is being repaired, Vision is a hologram and so confined to the Mansion, and also creepily spying on his fellow Avengers. Downtown, Hawkeye is helping Wanda to shop and they discuss how Wanda is able to summon Wonder Man who is thought to be dead. Wanda is a bit uncomfortable with her fluctuating powers. Then the team is called to help with a crashed airplane. The plane is slowly sinking into the sea and the Avengers start to help the rescue efforts. Cap and Hawkeye are arguing when the Squadron Supreme appears and accuses the Avengers of being impostors. Interestingly, the media picks up on this and is speculating if it could be true that the real Avengers are still dead. Of course, a fight ensues.

The issue has several hints about things to come. The issue starts with Jarvis picking up the mail and a letter from Costa Verde is mentioned. Thor is bringing in the Cask of Ancient Winters. Wanda is worried about her powers and summons Wonder Man again. Cap also notices how rusty the team is working together and Carol is still not telling about her powers.

The issue has a lot of humor. Hawkeye is making his cracks which refer to classic events, such as the Squadron Supreme being mind controlled again and when Freeman says that the Avengers have to clear up their name or they would be arrested, Hawkeye says: “Again? But that trick never works.” Loved it.

In the next issue, “Earth’s Mightiest Frauds?” the Avengers decide, after some bickering, to travel to Project: Pegasus where the Squadron lives and investigate things. Cap and Hawkeye talk briefly about Hawk eye’s frustrations about not being the leader. They shake hands but Clint still has his reservations. Meanwhile, Wanda and Carol commiserate about the situation. This could have been a great time for them to talk about the troubles they’ve had with their powers but no. The team heads to Project: Pegasus and searches the Squadron’s living quarters for any clue. This is, of course, the worst possible moment for the Squadron to return. Another fight breaks out. During the fight, Wanda again wonders about her changing powers: she can somehow tap into magic even though she’s had only a small about to training in it. After the fight, Cap and Carol quarrel. Again.

Like in the previous issue, there are great small moments in this issue too: the Vision explaining how the publics suspicious response is logical with Skrulls and other impersonators running around. The Cap/Hawkeye and Carol/Wanda moments mentioned above. Carol also gets the Avengers into the Project in a great way.

The Squadron storyline concludes in the Annual, which I don’t have.

The next issue is the final part in a four part cross-over, Live Kree or Die. I don’t have the other issues but there’s a good summary. The Kree Lunatic Legion wants to change all of humanity into Kree. To do that, they’ve stolen a prototype power generator and they’ve captured Warbird whose human/Kree genetic mix they’ve used to fire up the generator. Warbird was apparently drunk which allowed the Kree to capture her. She managed to escape though. However, the Kree Supreme Intelligence doesn’t seem happy with the Legion’s plans.

The Court Martial of Carol Danvers, issue 7, starts with the court martial where the active Avengers, plus Quicksilver, accuse Carol of alcoholism, reckless behavior, and deliberately not telling them about her power level decrease. Carol quits. The Avengers get a message that the Lunatic Legion is on the Blue side of the Moon and preparing to use their weapon. The active Avengers, Quicksilver, Justice, and Firebird race to the space Quinjet and to the Moon.

A huge battle ensues on the Moon. However, the Kree are only delaying the Avengers while they power up their weapon.

Wanda worries about Carol and thinks about the friendship. Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen them interact differently than with any other Avengers and the rest of the team don’t seem broken up about her leaving. This time Wanda summons Simon (briefly) by just thinking about him and later has doubts about summoning him just for battle. Justice is really excited about fighting alongside the Avengers and we find out about Angel’s health problems. When she uses her powers on a high level, she risks radiation poisoning. Meanwhile, Carol tries to fly to the Moon under her own power and fails.

This is a fine wrap-up issue for the story line and also for Carol’s story line, for now. I didn’t like that she left the Avengers but it was great that she had a, well, gender-neural story line.

Next we have two stories that take up two issues. In issue 8, Turbulence, Moses Magnum is the threat and we’re introduced to two new characters. Jarvis is on the airport meeting a young girl from Costa Verde whom he’s been sponsoring for years. Unfortunately, that’s the same day when armed men and a shape shifting woman, called Silverclaw, terrorize the airport. However, Jarvis manages to call the Avengers for help. Cap, the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Justice, and Firestar answer the call. They are imprisoned but get help from a new hero, Triathlon. When Magnum and his goons escape, Triathlon hides on their airplane.

Again, we’re treated with small character moments. Angel and Vance get their new costumes and Angel is less than thrilled about how revealing her costume is. Cap also gets a new energy shield and Wanda get a new gypsy type costume (although I’m not convinced that wearing a full length skirt into battle is very smart). I liked Vance’s new costume although I’m not thrilled about it. However, I liked Angel’s previous costume and wasn’t convinced she really needed a new one. But I really liked her attitude towards the new one and how she modified it.

Wanda is still thinking hard about her changing powers and wants to get some answers about why they are changing and why she’s able to summon Simon. During the battle, both Wanda and Clint follow Cap’s orders but they aren’t happy about it. After all, both have been team leaders before. The issue ends with Wanda again summoning Simon and apparently having sex with him. In the finest soap opera tradition, Vision is just then sneaking into in her room. I actually thought his skulking around to be pretty creepy and unbecoming for an Avenger.

Silverclaw turns out to be a victim of blackmail. She’s really quite a sweet girl and the Avengers don’t press charges.

In the next issue, The Villain Who Fell from Grace with the Earth, the Avengers get a call for help from Triathlon. Magnum and his goons are on a floating resort and planning something really big. The Avengers agree to help. Some of them swim to the big ship and others infiltrate it by pretending to be paying guests. Triathlon and Hawkeye team up and we hear Triathlon’s origin story. Again, Wanda is reluctant to summon Simon just for battle and she uses her changed powers to block Magnum’s energies. The mystery around Simon deepens; when Wanda is knocked unconscious, Simon returns to pummel her attacker. (And is anyone still in the dark about why this is happening? ;))

The issue ends with somewhat bleaker note. Wanda is determined to get answers, even if she has to leave the Avengers to do it and Hawkeye leaves with just a note on the door.

Great, small moments: Hawkeye continues to keep an eye out for Justice and Firestar, and he’s over all in a teacher mode which is a far cry from the rebellious ex-criminal he used to be. The issue starts with a breakfast scene where Silverclaw again apologies to Jarvis about her attack last issue. On the continuing soap opera side, Jarvis comments on how lovely Wanda looks and Vision is distracted by watching Wanda. You’d think he would have learned by now to say something before it’s too late?

Next issue, “Pom and Pageantry” starts with NY celebrating Avengers day. There’s a parade where Cap, Justice, Firestar, Vision, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and Giant Man ride on a float with the city council and two commentators walk us through Avengers history: members, villains, and the dead. Meanwhile, Wanda returns to her old mentor, Agatha Harkness, and asks her for help. Agatha has some explanations and revelations about Wanda’s powers and her ability to summon Simon. Then, the Grim Reaper attacks the Avengers and with him are the dead members, including Simon. The Reaper has twisted them into hating the Avengers and so the battle is joined. The Reaper makes a force field around the team and the other heroes rush in to try to break it.

I liked this issue a lot. On a reread, I wasn’t thrilled about the Wanda/Vision/Simon thing, especially when I remember how it (wasn’t) resolved. However, here we finally get answers to Wanda’s situation which was great.

This is also a celebration issue of Avengers’ history which isn’t really friendly to new readers. Every Avengers ever is shown again either in the montage pages or in balloons and costumes the people are wearing. I giggled at the Jarvis balloon! Considering how much misery and mistrust has been directed at the team over the years, they more than deserve a bit of celebration. We also get to see glimpses of Spider-Man and Daredevil as they swing by, and the X-Men and the Hulk follow the parade on TV which was a nice touch. For some reason I also really enjoyed the two commentators, the Stunt Master and Chili Storm. It was really endearing to see the spectators dressed up as the various heroes. Once again, the panels are full of details. I’m amazed at how well Perez does that.

Initially, I was happy that Wanda’s powers were expanded from the smallish, and rather ill-defined, probability hexes to chaos magic which can have power over all of nature. As it turned out, the writers apparently considered her too powerful. And that might be true in the comic book world where no-one dies permanently and all superpowers are non-lethal to begin with. Also, this makes her backstory even more convoluted which isn’t a good thing.

Issue 11 “… Always an Avenger!” starts with Wanda returning to the Mansion mulling over Harkness’ explanation. According to her, Wanda is able to summon Simon because he loves her more than life and is his anchor to the land of the living. In order to bring him permanently back, “all” she has to do love him back. Wanda isn’t convinced (and if she doesn’t love him, that’s pretty much impossible to do, anyway…). However, the dead Avengers assault her in the mansion and take her captive. Meanwhile, other NY heroes are trying to get inside the force field where the Grim Reaper is torturing the Avengers with his monologue about days past and how he has been wronged and this is his revenge. Over at the mansion, Wanda uses her powers to rekindle the former Avengers’ true selves.

Simon’s problems come to a head in this issue and that’s another long storyline resolved, for now. This being a continuing comic, nobody is happy in the long run. 🙂 The Grim Reaper and Wonder Man issue was handled nicely, with the twisted family feeling they have going on. Wanda also acknowledges that the Vision and Simon’ personalities are very similar, since they are based on the same brain patterns.

Over all, this as a very good collection with more (if minor) character development and power changes than is usual in a long-running comic. In fact, it reminds me a bit of Claremont’s long X-Men run which I really enjoyed, except that the Avengers don’t really change as much; rather they have difficulty taking up old roles. Clint and Wanda have both been team leaders and they chafe a little under Cap’s command. Some of the characters obviously have their own comics so they can’t really change but even the characters who don’t have, change only a little. Overall, there wasn’t a life threatening danger for them, rather the issues feel like light adventure (again, not a complaint, but an observation – not every issue can have a life threatening danger! Well, unless you are an X-Man under Claremont. 🙂 ). All of the characters are established ones and there’s no serious threat of them dying, although they can leave the team, of course, and the Vision has been under repairs for most of the arch.

Overall I really liked all the nods to the team and character histories. While the team had a fixed roster there where new and old characters coming and going which is part of the charm of the team book like Avengers. (Bendis, take note: this is the way to introduce new team member candidates – not just declaring them new members.) Another classic, if somewhat frustrating aspect for me, is the changing mood of the public. One issue they are adoring Avengers as their heroes and in the next issue they suspect that the Avengers are impostors. Ah, the changing human mood! Bickering! Cap and Hawkeye at odds! Wonder Man coming back from the dead was another treat to old fans.

Can’t wait for the Ultron issues in the next collection!

Issue 11 also provides conclusions to many long-running mysteries so it’s a good issue to end the collection.