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Avengers #215: Review

Jan 1982
Jim Shooter, Alan Weiss

Story Name:

All the ways of power

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #215 Review by (September 28, 2015)
The price goes up to $0.60 this issue. Alan Weiss takes over the pencilling from Bob Hall for this 2-parter, but Dan Green keeps on inking. The initial Silver Surfer and Galactus story was of course in the classic Fantastic Four #48-50, and we learned his origin in the 1st issue of his own 1st series. Since then he has often been a member of the Defenders, and his last appearance before this was in Def#98-101, along with some Avengers, wrapping up a storyline involving various Marvel demons. Molecule Man's related history keeps contradicting what went before. In FF#20 MM was defeated because he couldn't affect organic molecules. This ended with the Watcher taking Owen Reece away but leaving the wand behind. Marvel Two-In-One #1 said Watcher sent powerless Reece *with* the wand to a dimension where time ran faster. Reece died of old age, but his grown son recreated the original accident to become a new Molecule Man but without the organic molecule limitation, took the wand and came to Earth in the Everglades where he met Man-Thing. At the end of that he dropped the wand and died of accelerated aging. A kid wandered off with the wand. Iron Man Annual #3 treated the 2 Molecule Men as the same person, and said that he transferred his consciousness to the wand as he died. MM took over a kid and gave her his powers. Then he transferred to a snake, then Iron Man. But Man-Thing got involved again and took the wand away. #7 of the original Official History will try to sort out the confusion by saying that MM's 'son' was actually a construct of his molecular powers, and MM transferred his own essence into the wand as he died in the other dimension.

Succeeding apps didn't change things. FF#187-188 had Klaw picking the wand up after Man Thing dropped it, and helping MM take over a random body. The duo attacked the FF, and MM took over Reed Richards. But his powers backfired when he tried to affect the unstable molecules of the FF's costumes, and the wand fell into a smokestack. Micronauts #23 had the wand dumped in a New Jersey landfill where MM took over a hobo, but that ended with it abandoned here in the NJ marshes. Now the Molecule Man essence in the wand recreates his original body. As he says here Owen Reece's wand was never necessary. The atomic accident gave *him* the molecule power, but he originally transferred it to the wand. Now he's taken it back. But he says he still can't affect organic molecules - despite the fact that his 'son' was able to. In Secret Wars he'll discover this was just a mental block. Ann Nocenti appears as a secretary at the ad agency where Steve Rogers is looking for work. She was recently a colourist in What If #2, the humble beginning of much bigger things. She mentions her boss Mr Carosella - the real Rob Carosella was currently colouring Ghost Rider.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #215 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Tigra goes to the bank to cash her weekly Avengers 'expenses' cheque. Her furry body in her bikini costume causes a stir and some inappropriate touching. A bank guard tells her it's her own fault because of the way she's dressed. Despite being offended she decides to spend some of the money on fashionable clothes. Later in a bar she still gets the attention of most of the male patrons. 1 of them is offensive so she deals with him and leaves in a huff.

On the subway she sits next to someone she thinks is a wino. A guy 'entertains' the passengers with his percussion for money, but another guy gets annoyed and breaks his drumsticks in half. Tigra gets annoyed too and shoves the 2nd guy out of the train at the next stop, and gives the drummer a lot of money. Abandoning her new clothes she exits the station.

She doesn't notice that the wino followed her off the train. Now he abandons his clothes too, to stand revealed as the Silver Surfer. His board answers his call and they soar off into the sky.

Now Surfer senses a source of power in the New Jersey marshes, where he finds a wand. It is alive and tries to take Norrin Radd over but can't penetrate his cosmic coating. Then Surfer throws the wand away. But he sees the stick generate the body of the Molecule Man. They swap origins.

Norrin Radd and his love Shalla Bal lived on the planet Zenn-La when the planet-eater Galactus came to call. To save his planet Norrin offered to become a herald for the Big G, and Galactus turned him into the Surfer of the Spaceways. (Later it will be made clear that Norrin Radd intended to lead Galactus only to uninhabited worlds, but his master tampered with his mind to change this.) When Galactus wanted to consume Earth, the Fantastic Four convinced Surfer to rebel. They repulsed the planet-devourer, but as punishment Galactus imprisoned SS on Earth (with a barrier which doesn't affect anyone else).

In FF#20 Owen Reece was transformed into Molecule Man by an atomic accident. He got a scarred face and the ability to control molecules using a wand. After his defeat by the FF his body was destroyed and he transferred his consciousness into the wand. The wand took over various people until it wound up here. Now by a supreme effort of will he's recreated his original body.

The Silver Surfer's tale has given Reece an idea. His control over molecules includes absorbing them. He's failed before because he's been thinking too small - he too can eat planets, starting with the Earth. He'll out-Galactus Galactus!

Surfer is understandably appalled, and starts a battle of power cosmic vs molecular control. Molecule Man drowns him in soil, which normally wouldn't stop SS for more than an instant. But (and here's the science bit) MM stops all molecular movement in the soil (ie reduces its temperature to absolute zero), which sucks all the energy out of Surfer.

Owen leaves Norrin to die. But the Surfer's board wasn't buried in the soil, and it flies off to the Baxter Building for help. The Fantastic Four aren't home but Iron Man intercepts it, and the board let him take it to Avengers Mansion.

The Golden Avenger calls in the (depleted) rest of the team. Freelance artist Steve Rogers misses a job interview to answer the call as Captain America. Don Blake abandons ordering breakfast to change to Thor. Tigra is living in the Mansion.

Greer Nelson daringly mounts the board and tells it to take her to its leader, narrowly missing Jarvis on the way out. The others follow, and Thor soon frees Surfer who then brings them up to date on the situation. SS leads the Avengers to Molecule Man's current location, following his distinctive energy trail, with Tigra again hitching a ride on his board.

That location turns out to be a dome of solidified air molecules covering half of Western New Jersey. Tigra stands aside as the 4 males fail to make a dent in it. Then IM, SS and Thor concentrate their joint efforts on 1 area and make a small hole big enough for the cat-person to slip through. She says she's just going scouting while they work on enlarging the hole. But she really wants a chance to make up for her weak performance against Ghost Rider last issue.

But her sneaking doesn't do her any good as Molecule Man detects her and causes tentacles to grow out of the floor and restrain her. But she starts talking to him, saying she wants to get to know him. Flattered by the unusual-for-him attentions of a pretty woman, he lets her go and begins by relating how his parents never loved him .....

Meanwhile the men have got through the dome wall and are fighting their way through a barrage of boulders. When they finally get into Molecule Man's castle he's just got to the part where the kids at school all made fun of him, though he angrily rejects the term 'nerd'.

But it turns out Reece has just been toying with the Avengers - he knew Tigra was only playing for time. Now he causes Cap's shield, Iron Man's armour, Surfer's board and Thor's hammer to disintegrate into free molecules. Even the strange constituents of board, hammer and shield only caused him slight pause.

More tentacles from the walls grab all but Cap, who manages to dodge and seize MM's wand. But Owen reveals that he doesn't need that anymore. When the wand recreated his body, its power was also transferred to that body. And Reece's mind causes Cap to get grabbed too.

Later Reece explains to a free Tigra that he originally willed the power into the wand because he just liked the idea of a magic wand. Now he has the 4 males paralysed and lying in a giant press he has conjured up. He threatens to kill Tigra too, unless she meant it earlier when she said she might like him if she got to know him. Greer begs him not to kill her. Owen agrees to that, but causes the press to slam shut on  her comrades.

Alan Weiss
Dan Green
Christie Scheele
Alan Weiss (Cover Penciler)
Alan Weiss (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider

(Johnny Blaze)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer

(Norrin Radd)


> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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