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Avengers #402: Review

Sep 1996
Mark Waid, Tom Palmer

Story Name:

End of the line

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Avengers #402 Review by (July 9, 2019)
Tom Palmer actually painted the cover.

This is the end of the original Avengers series. It's not a particularly fitting end. Not all the current Avengers are present. It's only a side tie-in to the Onslaught event, with the team dealing with 2 minor villains

(Iron Man's last issue is in a similar position. Thor's last issue is at least suitably reflective. Captain America's last story arc wasn't anything to do with Onslaught, and obviously occurs before the Avengers got drawn into the event at the end of their #400.)

My Comments for #401 left us at the end of X-Men #55 with Onslaught triggering the EMP which cut the power in Manhattan.

The heroes gathered in Uncanny XM #336 to rescue Prof X from Onslaught, but discovered that the villain is now stronger without him.
In X-Force #58 that team opted to fight Onslaught rather than staying in a dreamworld, but then weren't seen to do anything.
In Cable #35 Apocalypse, Cable and Invisible Woman unsuccessfully tried to free Franklin Richards from Onslaught.
In Wolverine #105 Logan helped rescue people from burning buildings until he was called to join the assembled heroes.
Hulk lead a team against Onslaught in Hulk #445 but Onslaught gave them a vision of Hulk sacrificing the others to ensure his victory, and they gave up.
The Fantastic Four's allies gathered in FF#416, including Dr Doom.
Thor #502 is his last issue as the Asgardian psychs himself up for the big fight.
In Iron Man #332 (another last issue) IM, Giant-Man and Quicksilver with Black Panther developed the psi-shields while fighting off Sentinels.

And that brings us to this issue.

Post has been working for Onslaught since his 1st appearance in Cable #31. His origin and previous dealings with Cable are explored in #33 and #72.
Holocaust was a character in the Age Of Apocalypse parallel timeline, but he crossed over to Earth-616 in X-Men Prime. He's been working for Onslaught since X-Man #15.
This is their last app in the Onslaught event. But both will separately reappear in  later X-titles.

We're nearly at the climax of the Onslaught event.

In X-Men #56 Onslaught absorbs X-Man. The heroes follow de-powered Prof X in a final assault.

Then the final attack occurs in Onslaught: Marvel Universe.
Hulk and Bruce Banner are separated.
Most of the Avengers (Captain America, Crystal, Giant-Man, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Wasp) plus the FF, Black Panther, Bruce Banner, Dr Doom, Falcon and Sub-Mariner sacrifice themselves to stop Onslaught.
Franklin Richards and X-Man are rescued from the remains of Onslaught.
And the sacrificial heroes wind up in a new Heroes Reborn universe, later revealed to be created by Franklin.

The X-mutants including Avenger Quicksilver are prevented from joining sacrifice because mutant energy strengthens Onslaught. But this doesn't quite hold water. Scarlet Witch was believed to be a mutant too (except later it turns out she isn't, and neither is Pietro). Falcon was thought to be a mutant then, but now isn't (possibly to explain what happens here). However Sub-Mariner *wasn't* thought to be a mutant then but now is.

Black Widow alone of the current Avengers isn't in the final battle. She remains on Marvel-Earth to try to build another Avengers team. Meanwhile Quicksilver stays with the X-Men. And the Banner-less Hulk continues in Hulk's mag.

When everyone returns from Heroes Reborn in Heroes Return, Wasp will have her normal body back. And even more amazingly Iron Man will be the (dead) adult Tony Stark rather than the current Teen Tony. We can thank Franklin for that too.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #402 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
It's the middle of Onslaught's attack on Manhattan, and an EMP has killed power all over the city. A subway train is stuck between stations until Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Wasp arrive to help them. Wasp flies ahead to check the way is clear. Thor's hammer provides power to the 3rd rail, and his muscles get the train moving. (Cap and ScW just hitch a ride.) When they approach a station Thor switches ends to bring the train to a halt. Wasp's bionic blast opens the train's doors, and then Cap and Wanda Maximoff lead an orderly rush to the surface ... where things are hardly better.

The Avengers split up. Thor and Wasp fly down civilians trapped in a Roosevelt Island Tramway cable car. Cap and the Witch free people trapped in a lift(?). But they can't stop the rising panic. Black Widow is surrounded by people begging for help, until the other Avengers extricate her. But then she goes her own way and our 4 go theirs. (We learn that Crystal, Hawkeye and Vision are with Hulk and others in his #445 making a frontal assault on Onslaught, while Giant-Man, Iron Man and Quicksilver are developing psi-shielding in IM#332 to protect the heroes from Onslaught's psionic force.)

Even Steve Rogers seems to have lost hope.

Then GM, IM and Pietro Maximoff join them with the promised psionic shield devices. But they are attacked by Holocaust and a cloaked Post, sent by Onslaught to confiscate the shields. There follows a game of pass the parcel as the team try to keep the shields out of the villains' hands. Cap still seems mired in despair but he's just thinking. He throws his shield at Post, hitting the button that turns his cloaking device on. The shield then rebounds to hit Holocaust, drawing his attention. Holocaust fires at Cap but hits the invisible Post, bringing him down. Then everyone piles on Holocaust until he's defeated.

The civilian crowd goes wild with hope, but an image of Onslaught tells the Avengers they haven't really won anything. The team don the psi-shields and head off to attack him.

Tom Palmer
Tom Palmer
John Kalisz
Tom Palmer (Cover Penciler)
Tom Palmer (Cover Inker)
Tom Palmer (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Mike Deodato Jr.. Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Hank Pym)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Holocaust, Onslaught, Post.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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