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Avengers #20: Review

Dec 2011
Brian Michael Bendis, Daniel Acuna

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #20 Review by (March 14, 2012)
Osborn mentions the Avengers destroying former Avengers who opposed them. This is probably a reference to Wonder Man's opposition, culminating in him leading his team of Revengers against them in the recent Annual #1. This issue ties the ends of #18 and #19 much more closely than I have indicated, leaving no room for the events of #19, and a miraculously short time for Madame Hydra to be freed from her octopus. Osborn has rebuilt his Dark Avengers in New Avengers starting in #18. Superia is his version of Ms Marvel. They both leave this series for a few issues to concentrate on the battle there. Madame Hydra will continue the fight against the current Avengers team. Iron Man returns from a flying visit to NAv#19 in this issue, where Madame Hydra still had her headgear. Spider-Woman mentions that Hawkeye used to live in Thunderbolts Mountain. This was when he was leader of the Thunderbolts. The Hulk/Spider-Men and the ant-size and giant-size/Visiony agents, and the takeover of Iron Man's armour, are all presumably due to Washington's knowledge of super-hero secrets.

Madame Hydra was also originally a Cap villainess in CA#110-113. But she quickly ditched her Hydra role in favour of killing the original Viper and taking his codename and place as head of the Serpent Squad in CA#180. Her career since then was mainly as a freelance terrorist, matched against many heroes but frequently returning to Cap. During this period she was sometimes still referred to as Madame Hydra, but I don't believe she was ever a part of Hydra. In fact she sometimes worked against it. Her last non-Hydra roles were in X-territory, simultaneously as a member of the Hellfire Club, ruler of Madripoor and Wolverine's wife! Somewhere along the line (at least by New Avengers (2005) #11) she was back leading Hydra, from Madripoor until deposed as its ruler in Invincible Iron Man (2007) #1. This brings us to Secret Warriors where she was killed and reborn with the octopoid headpiece. MODOK is another recurring foe of Cap, and others, debuting in Tales of Suspense #93. He is an organism created by AIM to serve them as a supercomputer, but which instead ruled them. Over time he has been deposed several times, and regained his throne. He has also been killed several times, and then been restored. During one of his down times he was replaced by a female version MODAM. He is currently a member of the villain group Intelligencia.

This is part 3 of the Avengers' Shattered Heroes arc against Norman Osborn and friends. Last issue I wondered if Captain America was actually a team member, rather than just overseeing the whole franchise as he was in the previous incarnation. There are several clues that he will take a more active part now, and not just in the current storyline. He has his headshot alongside the others on the splash page, which he didn't have before last issue. Maria Hill used to be his liaison. She is still present this issue, but has lost her splash page spot. Also Cap gives the orders here, although Iron Man appeared to be the team leader last issue. But Cap does outrank Iron Man in the Avengers' current organisation. Superia had a history as one of Cap's enemies beginning in CA#387. Her identity as scientist Dr Deirdre Wentworth surfaced in CA#431. She presumably had Osborn's backing when she reappeared as HAMMER's leader while he was in jail.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #20 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue picks up from the end of #18 rather than #19, with renegade SHIELD scientist Carolina Washington at AIM HQ putting her case before the triumvirate of Norman Osborn, Madame Hydra and Superia, leading a combination of AIM, Hand, HAMMER and Hydra, under the overall name of HAMMER.

Osborn suggests that Washington and Dr Wentworth (ie Superia) might be able to rid Madame Hydra of the octopoid headpiece that is keeping her alive.

Then the issue syncs with the end of #19, as Osborn crashes the Avengers' press conference announcing their new lineup. He expands on his remarks then, claiming that the Avengers are power-mad dictators who destroy anyone who gets in their way. He says the Avengers illegally deposed him from his former position of power, and he's been illegally detained without trial since then. But now HAMMER is ready to fight for the freedom of the nation.

Iron Man detects that Osborn is a hologram, and Red Hulk destroys the projector before Stark can track the source. But Osborn's words have prompted lots of awkward questions from the media.

Back at AIM HQ Madame Hydra is free from her headpiece. And she and Osborn prepare for the expected Avengers attack.

The Avengers are discussing what to do. Hawkeye points out that Osborn is right in that he was being held without trial. And he has previously proven to be a formidable adversary. Iron Man arrives from a fight between the New Avengers and Osborn's Dark Avengers with the news that Osborn is using AIM tech.

Captain America splits the team up. He details Quake to track down who planted the holographic projector. Hawkeye and Spider-Woman check out Thunderbolts Mountain. Iron Man and Protector tackle known AIM bases. Red Hulk and Storm search OsCorp Industries. Cap, Vision and SHIELD agent Maria Hill will take a quinjet to investigate Osborn's known accomplices.

Hawkeye continues to flirt with Spider-Woman. At the seemingly-deserted Thunderbolts Mountain they are attacked by Hydra agents turned into grey Hulks. But Hulks who can cling to walls like Spider-Man!

At OsCorp Red Hulk and Storm are brought down by ant-sized HAMMER agents who fly into their ears and mouths.

Iron Man and Protector are at one of MODOK's bases in Philadelphia. Iron Man is suddenly taken over and attacks Protector. There is a large explosion.

Cap has lost contact with the rest of the Avengers. The quinjet he shares with Maria Hill and Vision is attacked by a giant-sized HAMMER agent. The fact that the giant is in mid-air and looks ghost-like makes me think he's got Vision's powers as well.

Daniel Acuna
Daniel Acuna
Daniel Acuna
Daniel Acuna (Cover Penciler)
Daniel Acuna (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Red Hulk
Red Hulk

(Thunderbolt Ross)

(Peter Parker)

(Jessica Drew)

(Ororo Munroe)

Plus: Carolina Washington, H.A.M.M.E.R., Protector (Noh-Varr), Quake (Daisy Johnson), Superia (Deidre Wentworth).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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