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Avengers #266: Review

Apr 1986
Roger Stern, Tom Palmer

Story Name:

“…And the War’s Desolation!”

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #266 Review by (September 15, 2023)
Comments: Title comes from the American National Anthem. Molecule Man is a fan of the short-lived western sitcom F TROOP (1965-67). Jim Shooter is credited for “Additional dialogue.” There is a second letters page titled “Tell It to Mark Gruenwald Page!”

Review: We’ve all heard of anti-heroes but is Molecule Man an anti-villain? He regularly appears in lists of the greatest bad guys but Owen Reese saves the world, though it wasn’t his first choice and not without a lot of pleading and begging from the heroes. But when you have a near-omnipotent baddie like the Beyonder, it helps to have a near-omnipotent opponent on hand and Molecule Man has been waiting his day to shine since FANTASTIC FOUR #20 in 1963. So the entire issue deals with apocalyptic themes and has a happy ending, conveniently setting everything back to the pre-SECRET WARS II status quo so no one need ever think of this again. Unless you’re writing up tie-in comics issues for a website, that is.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #266 Synopsis by T Vernon
Story continued from SECRET WARS 2 #9.

After the death of the Beyonder, the Silver Surfer sweeps low over the jagged chasm of lava where half the Rocky Mountains once stood. Captain Marvel appears before him to ask his help in sealing up the chasm which is causing the entire Earth to be unstable. She catches Surfer (and the readers) up on the climax of the War with the Beyonder. After the Beyonder died, the Earth shook, hurling Avengers around. Black Knight fell toward the magma but Sub-Mariner caught him and, weakening himself, he hurled the Knight to be caught by Hercules. And then Mr. Fantastic reached out an arm and lassoed Subby and drew him away from peril. Wasp then led the Avengers to safer ground. The military is busy keeping the area sealed off and tending to injured civilians. Surfer senses some strange power nearby but decides he was mistaken…

…but the power comes from Molecule Man, lying in shock in a medical tent, his beloved MarshaVolcanaRosenberg at his side….

CM and the Surfer reach the heroes’ encampment where they find the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Reed Richards is taking readings while Human Torch is stabilizing the heat twenty miles down in the chasm. Reed gives Captain America the bad news: they have about six hours left until the Earth breaks up, though he had formerly estimated one hour….

At a loss for what to do, Hercules picks up a huge rock to fill the chasm; She-Hulk questions this but it’s Sub-Mariner ridiculing Herc that shows him the foolishness of his plan. Reed and Cap consult with the Silver Surfer who explains that millions of cubic miles of crust have melted away and he doesn’t know whether his Power Cosmic could replace it. He asks everyone to take cover then exerts all his power to pull the Earth together but he fails, causing another quake. Cap recalls that there is one more person who might help: Molecule Man, whose shielding protected everyone during the final battle with the Beyonder. He also isolated every living thing on Earth in stasis in sub-space. They debate the matter and decide they need Molecule Man; Surfer recalls the energy trace he detected earlier….

At the medical tent, Molecule Man is concerned about the questions he is being asked, so he has Volcana use her heat powers to fill the tent like a hot air balloon and float away. Captain Marvel detects him and appears by his side; Volcana sees an Avenger and tries to blast her but CM vanishes. Monica reports back to Wasp and Silver Surfer, explaining they must get past Volcana to contact Molecule Man. Surfer manipulates the jet stream to blow the balloon over to the Avengers/FF encampment. They try to assure Volcana no harm will come to her man but she doesn’t believe them and unleashes her powers but the group is protected by a force field produced by Invisible Woman. Molecule Man reveals he is the one holding the Earth together, giving them the six hours respite but he fears that exerting more power may kill him. He also tells them that he is able to take Marsha and flee the Earth for a world of their own. It takes some effort but they manage to persuade him to save the Earth. Silver Surfer channels the Power Cosmic into Molecule Man and everything is set right, even restoring all the world’s living creatures from stasis, their memories wiped of the catastrophe. But Owen has lost all his powers, no longer Molecule Man. He asks to be taken back to his Denver home with Marsha and left alone. Hercules and She-Hulk go off together….

Silver Surfer flies Owen and Marsha home where it is revealed that he lied—Molecule Man was able to draw so much on the Surfer’s powers that he retained his own. Surfer confesses he was tempted to remove Owen’s powers but decided to trust him and so pledges to keep his secret, telling him he risked everything yet kept it all….

Tom Palmer
Tom Palmer
Christie Scheele
John Buscema (Cover Penciler)
Tom Palmer (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: John Buscema. Letterer: Jim Novak.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Jim Shooter.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Knight
Black Knight

(Dane Whitman)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Jennifer Walters)
Silver Surfer
Silver Surfer

(Norrin Radd)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Volcana (Marsha Rosenberg).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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