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Avengers #148: Review

Jun 1976
Steve Englehart, George Perez

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Story Name:

20,000 Leagues under Justice

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #148 Review by (April 2, 2014)
The 2 fights this issue are labelled the Battle of the Century parts II and III. This makes the fight with Vision and Wanda in the 2nd half of last issue the uncredited part I of the Battle. These 2 issues mimic a typical JLA 'crisis' with the opposing teams splitting into groups to fight (or team up). A backup story in Web of Spider-Man Annual #5 will create a back-story for the Serpent Crown's takeover of the Squadron's America, and will invent a membership for Rockefeller's cartel. They all have counterparts on Marvel Earth but only 3 had already appeared in comics at this time:- Gregory Gideon (from Fantastic Four #34 and #134-137), Leland Owlsley (the Owl) and Cornelius Van Lunt (Taurus of Zodiac). We'll later meet Sebastian Shaw of the Hellfire Club and Tony Stark's rivals Justin Hammer and Obadiah Stane. I already mentioned in #141 some possible reasons why Nighthawk is currently absent from the Squadron. WoSM An#5 adds another - he was undercover as Kyle Richmond in the cartel. It also gives a better explanation of how the US was saved form the Serpent Cartel after the Avengers took the Serpent Crown away. Iron Man says Dr Spectrum should remember his defeat in IM#64, but that was the Sinister Dr Spectrum. Wasp and Yellowjacket have been in hospital since #141 and were also seen there in Black Goliath #1. They'll pay a visit to the Avengers in the out-of-sequence #146, and return properly in #150. The Squadron will appear next in Thor #280 and then Defenders #111-115 where Nighthawk rejoins. Then they'll graduate to their own 12-issue series and Graphic Novel. Other appearances will follow but they won't show up here again until Av(1998)#5.

The Official Index credits this cover to Rich Buckler. Some online sites agree but others say it's by Jack Kirby and Mike Esposito. I say if it's Buckler he's doing a very good Kirby impersonation - I'm going with Jack. At last we have a cover that calls the Squadron Supreme rather than Sinister. After last issue's 'Crisis on Other-Earth' we continue the Justice League of America/Crisis on ... theme. The new title is '20,000 Leagues under Justice'. The splash page is in the style of JLA 'crisis' issues, with the teams listed down each side. It is also presented as if it was the Squadron Supreme's book, not the Avengers. I already mentioned the JLA parallel when the Squadron Sinister were introduced in #70:- Dr Spectrum/Green Lantern, Hyperion/Superman, Nighthawk/Batman and Whizzer/Flash. When we met the good Squadron Supreme version in #85 some more characters were added:- Cap'n Hawk(then American Eagle)/Hawkman, Golden Archer(then Hawkeye)/Green Arrow, Lady Lark/Black Canary and Tom Thumb/Atom. Now we've also got Amphibion/Aquaman. There are some other similarities between Squadron and League at that time. Both have a satellite HQ. Golden Archer and Lady Lark are an item. Cap'n Hawk and Tom Thumb are regular partners, as are Dr Spectrum and Whizzer. And Dr Spectrum and Golden Archer are the ones to doubt the system.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #148 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In the Squadron Supreme's satellite HQ Rocket Central Dr Spectrum and Whizzer are with Amphibion, Cap'n Hawk and Tom Thumb when Golden Archer, Hyperion and Lady Lark join them after failing to apprehend Scarlet Witch and Vision. Which also means the Avengers still have the mysterious Serpent Crown that this parallel Earth's President Rockefeller puts so much store in.

Cap'n Hawk has spotted the other Avengers on a viewscreen and the fresh Squaddies decide to go after them, leaving the losers to man the fort (or in this case the satellite).

Meanwhile Rockefeller tries to keep control of the business cartel that the Crown has helped rise to run this version of the USA. They query why the Avengers were even allowed on this world. Their leader replies that the heroes were a danger to the Serpent Crown's foothold on the Avengers' Earth, Hugh Jones of Roxxon Oil. So they were sent here for the Squadron to deal with, where the Crown is well-established.

Meanwhile the Avengers are looking for the missing Vision and Witch. They split up into 2 subteams, and Captain America and Iron Man leave Beast and Hellcat.

Patsy Walker is eager to prove herself as a new superheroine. But she only just manages to avoid Cap'n Hawk's mace as he slams into the ground where she stood. Beast gives him a gymnastic kick to the jaw, but is in turn attacked by a blast from Tom Thumb's flying platform. Amphibion pops up out of a manhole and tries to persuade Hellcat to surrender, but she uses her agility to trick him into diving through a plate glass shop window.

Amphibion's out of the game, but Tom Thumb sticks Patsy to the ground with a jet of paste. Then he aims his jets at them, that keep his support flying. But Hellcat sends a claw-line to hook onto the hovering module. Beast grabs the line and brings Tom's machine crashing to the ground. After that he soon KO's the diminutive superguy. That just leaves Cap'n Hawk who flies back with a sword. Now it's Hank McCoy's turn to trick his opponent into crashing a window.

We now have a brief interlude back on the main Marvel Earth where Moondragon asks Thor why he spends his time with the inferior other Avengers.

Then it's time for part III of the battle. Cap and Iron Man are attacked by Dr Spectrum and Whizzer. The speedster knocks both heroes off their feet. Spectrum then keeps IM busy with constructs of his Power Prism while Whizzer uses his super-speed to batter Cap.

But Steve Rogers fights back. He hurls his shield at Whizzer who vibrates to let it pass through him. But of course he gets taken out when it loops back to hit him from behind, as Cap had planned all along. Dr Spectrum has Iron Man in the grip of a giant hand. But the fate of his friend makes Spectrum's concentration waver briefly, and Tony Stark manages to get a hand free to switch on his ultraviolet beam which does for the Squaddie as it defeated the villainous Marvel-Earth Dr Spectrum in IM#64.

Then Beast and Hellcat arrive, bringing Scarlet Witch, Vision and the Serpent Crown with them. They are going to take the Crown away with them, but Vision says they must do something to free this world from the residual effects of its dominance.

In a 2nd interlude Wasp and Yellowjacket are told their injuries (#137-140) are healed and they can leave hospital. Janet Pym wants to return to the Avengers but husband Hank isn't sure.

The Squadron meet with President Rockefeller at the White House. He surprises them by admitting that he and his cartel are running the country for their own benefit, and that the heroes (and by extension the people) just let them do it. He doesn't get very far before he's exposed as Beast in 1 of his disguises.

Beast escapes to join the Avengers in another room where there is a stargate, I mean portal to Marvel Earth. The team pass though.

But the seed of doubt has been sown. Dr Spectrum and Golden Archer think Beast may be right. Hyperion is still loyal to the President, but the rest of the Squadron side with the radicals.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

George Perez
Sam Grainger
Hugh Paley
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Mike Esposito (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Marv Wolfman.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Amphibion, Buzz Baxter, Cap'n Hawk, Dr. Spectrum (Squadron Supreme), Golden Archer, Hugh Jones, Hyperion (Squadron Supreme), Lady Lark, Tom Thumb, Whizzer (Squadron Supreme).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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