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Avengers Annual #18: Review

Nov 1989
Michael Higgins, Ron Wilson

Story Name:

Avengers assembled

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Avengers Annual #18 Review by (September 27, 2017)
The membership of the Avengers and Avengers West Coast here is a bit iffy, and in AWC#56 John Byrne will admit that it's all his fault. He's writing both teams at this time, and scripter of this issue Michael Higgins asked him who would be in the teams when the Annuals came out (or when this story was supposed to fit in the regular continuity). Byrne claims he got confused as to where the series would have reached by then. (But judging by the difference from published reality in the covers previewed in WCA#41, maybe he wasn't confused - he just changed his mind.)

The Avengers appear to be Captain America, android Human Torch, Quasar, Sersi, She-Hulk and Thor, and an editorial comment directs us to Av#309 and AWC#50 for an explanation. AWC#50 is where HT was reactivated, but he never joins the main Avengers team. Cap, SHulk and Thor *are* on the team in #309 alongside Gilgamesh and Sub-Mariner. Quasar is a trainee Avenger who doesn't appear in that issue. Gilgamesh leaves the team in #310, but his fellow Eternal Sersi doesn't join until #314. Subby isn't in the issues after #310, and in this crossover storyline he 'dies' and then doesn't rejoin the team.

The Official Index places this Annual between #310 and #311 (but no regular issue mentions this crossover event). Byrne will write a backup tale in AWC#56 to explain what HT and Sersi are doing here. She has come because the Eternals are worried about Atlantis Attacks (the involvement of their old enemies Ghaur and the Deviants?). HT has come to see his old Invader buddies Cap and Namor. And Iron Man arrives with the news that SM is dead.

AWC#52 has a specific lead-in to the AA event with Ghaur and Llyra. Unfortunately Byrne has to admit in AWC#56 that Tigra couldn't possibly have been in this issue because during this period she had reverted to a cat and been miniaturised. (But John drew this cover and even included her *there*.) There are also questions over Hawkeye and Mockingbird's arrival. By this time they were back together running the Great Lakes Avengers, but they arrive here separately - and Clint is with Black Widow which could have been meant to connect to an earlier time when they worked together recently in Solo Avengers #14-16.

We see various chars who have worn the Serpent Crown:-
The mystery armoured figure will be revealed as the not-really-dead Sub-Mariner in Web of Spider-Man An#5, and he wore the Crown in Sub-Mariner #9 after it was exposed from within the Helmet of Power.
Viper/Madame Hydra wore it in Captain America #182 after Warlord Krang got hold of it.
Scarlet Witch wore a version of the Crown in an alternate timeline in Av#147.
Those 2 crowns were merged in Marvel Two-In-One #66 and that's where Thing wore it while teaming up with Scarlet Witch.
That pair were also involved in Marvel Team-Up An#5 where 777 alternate-universe Crowns were merged. That's the version that is recreated in this crossover. And that's where Quasar wore it.

In Av#308-310 the Avengers took injured Eternal Gilgamesh home to Olympia, but 1st they had to help retrieve it from the Negative Zone. They've all been a bit busy since then. Trainee Quasar wasn't in that tale but was in the previous adventure ending in #308 where Gilgamesh was injured. Since then Wendell Vaughan met Man-Thing and Jennifer Kale in Marvel Comics Presents #29/4. After #310 She-Hulk teamed up with ex-boyfriend Wyatt Wingfoot in the SH: Ceremony 2-shot. Then she and Cap tried to rescue Scarlet Witch from an age-old menace in AWC#47-49. Then Shulk had some random adventures in her Sensational #6-9 (including bringing back the cast of US 1). Cap analysed the qualities of Avengers members in the 3rd story in this issue, and then had the AWC#52 backup tale mentioned above. Then She-Hulk (and Wasp) rated the male Avengers as 'hunks' in a backup in AWC An#4, before getting chosen as a Bride of Set in Amazing Spider-Man An#23. Meanwhile Sub-Mariner was still in Avengers Mansion in AWC#50 but In Iron Man An#10 he was off searching for the 'spawn' of his dead wife Marrina and since then has been supposedly dead but reappeared as the mystery armoured guy in Spectacular Spider-Man An#9.

The last AWC issues were #50-52 where the android Human Torch returned and Scarlet Witch and Vision lost their sons when they turned out to be fragments of Mephisto. After that Iron Man did lots of stuff. IM An#10 saw the 'death' of Subby and the start of an AIM/Hydra conflict, and the 2nd tale in that issue saw him walk into a bar where various characters were recounting past meetings with him. Then he and Torch were in the AWC#56 backup where he informed Cap of Namor's death, and IM#246-248 (with a side order of Hulk #361) had the war between AIM and Hydra. The whole team (including Hawkeye and Mockingbird, plus US Agent who's absent here, but without the miniaturised Tigra) got back together in Marvel Super-Heroes v2 #9, and then Wasp was in the AWC An#4 backup with She-Hulk. And Tigra isn't really here.

Invisible Woman and Mr Fantastic were Avengers in #300-303. Thing (nearly) joined the WCA in their #10. The FF's HT has never been an Avenger, but I wouldn't have thought this would really justify leaving him out of this dire situation.

IW and MF left the Avengers soon after Av#303 and returned to the FF in FF#326. In FF#329-333 the whole (5-person including She-Thing) team was replaced by evil clones. Many Avengers were involved in the final issue. After that Cap called together nearly-all active or ex-Avengers (including IW, MF, Thing and most of the WCA) in Av#305 and proposed considering them as 1 big team on call. After MF taught son Franklin about the universe in a Silver Surfer An#2 backup tale, he and IW responded to a call-up in Av#307-308 to fight Lava Men. Then HT, IW and Thing joined She-Hulk in Ceremony #1, and MF had guest shots in Sensational Shulk #6 and Captain Marvel Giant-Size Special. The general roll-call in this issue is another example of the Av#305 system at work.

Black Panther, Black Widow and Captain Marvel were all at the Av#305 meeting. BP stayed for a workout and got caught up in the Lava Man fight in Av#305-308, and then went to visit the other Avengers in AWC#47. Captain Marvel was still recovering from injuries at the meeting and when she joined She-Hulk in Ceremony #1, but then she restarted her super-career in her GS Special. The grey Hulk wasn't at the meeting but turns up her anyway. In between he had the Iron Man crossover in IM#247 and Hulk #361.

Moondragon was also in Av#305 but Rick Jones wasn't. Hulk's original pal was last seen in Hulk #360 visiting Betty (Ross) Banner after she miscarried Bruce Banner's baby. (They don't know Bruce is alive and grey.) Moondragon had been killed off, along with some other chars, at the end of the Defenders series. But she was revived in Solo Avengers #16,18,20.

Most of the characters here will go on to following issues of the crossover:- New Mutants An#5, X-Factor An#4, Web of Spider-Man An#5, AWC An#4, Thor An#14, FF An#22.
Ghaur will be in all of them. Llyra will be in some including the climax, but Attuma quits after WoSM.
The FF(ive) will join Spidey in WoSM where the mystery man shows up again. They will be in the Thor Annual and of course their own, where we finally see that the mystery man is Sub-Mariner.
Lots of Avengers will be in the AWC Annual. Most of those will continue into Thor, and the whole roster (apart from Hulk, Moondragon and Rick Jones) will combine for the FF Annual finale.

Most of the Avengers will pretty immediately get involved in the Acts of Vengeance crossover. Moondragon will go straight from this issue to there in Av Spotlight #27. Orka will also go directly to AoV in AvSpot#26. Meanwhile Hulk will go back to his own #362 but AoV will follow him there for #363.
Others won't be so sprightly. Rick Jones will return in AvSpot#35. This is Lord Arno's last appearance, but Tyrak and U-Man will defend Atlantis (alongside Orka) in Av#319. Krang won't join them but will resurface in Sensational She-Hulk #12. And Viper will slink over to CA#394.

Peter Sanderson the writer of the history of the Crown and Set has used the earlier instalments to weave them into the history of the Earth, creating extra material to link previously revealed fragments.

Previously we have seen Set created as 1 of the Elder Gods who ruled demons on the early Earth. Set's serpent demons included Sligguth and Damballah. But Gaea gave birth to Atum/Demogorge who killed the Elder Gods except for Set and Chthon who escaped to other dimensions. From there Set favoured the dinosaurs while Gaea nurtured the mammals. When Set used power he siphoned from dinosaurs to return temporarily to Earth in the form of a 7-headed serpent his renewed titanic battle with Atum caused the end of the dinosaurs.

The time-travelling entity Sise-Neg created a haven for proto-humanity, and the 1st Host of the Celestials chose them over Set's serpent-men, and mutated them into Deviants, Eternals and a human race capable of developing super-powers. The serpent-men remained enemies of humans such as Kull of the Atlantis. The Deviants of Lemuria conquered most of the human race except Atlantis. As the 2nd Host arrived Kamuu and Zartra destroyed Atlantis rather let it fall to the Lemurians. Meanwhile a human Lemurian Set-worshipping alchemist Atra created the Serpent Crown which the Deviant king Phraug fought him for, and the Deviants fired on the Celestial spaceship. The Celestials responded by causing the Great Cataclysm, a great flood which sank Atlantis and Lemuria (and Ikaris of the Eternals gets to guide Noah's Ark to safety). In the Hyborian Age Set caused the Cobra Crown to be created. Thulsa Doom got hold of it but during a clash with Conan the Crown was rendered useless. Conan also fought the serpent-men.

In ancient Egypt the god Seth passed himself off as Set and took control of that god's worshippers. Later Set found new followers amongst the sub-aquatic Atlanteans who nearly brought Set to Earth, but Neptune stopped them. Then Naga king of the sub-aquatic Lemurians found the Serpent Crown, which turned him and his race into serpent-men. But telepathic rebels stole the Crown and took to Antarctica where they transformed themselves into air-breathers. There they made use of technology built by pre-Cataclysmic Atlanteans who had settled Pangea/the Savage Land. They disguised the Crown by encasing it in a substance which weakened it, and called it the Helmet of Power. Some of them travelled the world giving rise to legends of the Ancients. 1 returned to find that his brother had succumbed to the lure of the Helmet and unleashed the serpent-men curse again. When Set made him kill his brother he came to his senses and destroyed the home of the Ancients.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Annual #18 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
What has happened in the previous Annuals of this crossover event?

Silver Surfer An#2 - Surfer accidentally caused the Deviant Priest-Lord Ghaur to reintegrate from the cloud of gas he was left in at the end of Eternals (1985). Ghaur allied with Lemurian ex-queen Llyra, a long-standing enemy of Sub-Mariner, to bring the demon/god Set back to Earth's dimension, from which he was banished by Dr Strange in Marvel Team-Up Annual #5.

Iron Man An#10 - The pair allied with 2 more of Namor's foes:- Attuma, currently ruler of Atlantis, and Atlantean Krang the Warlord. They planned to reassemble the Serpent Crown (which was disintegrated by a Cosmic Cube in the aforementioned MTU AN#5) to help Set. Iron Man and Sub-Mariner fought Attuma's barbarians and also Hydra, and Namor was apparently killed.

Uncanny X-Men An#13 - Ghaur and Llyra, based on Magneto's old island, hired the Serpent Society to steal 4 magic items for them. This brought the Society into conflict with mage Mr Jip, who caused them to have to fight the X-Men. But they did acquire the objects for Ghaur who gave them to Lemurian alchemists to create the Serpent Crown.

Amazing Spider-Man An#23 - Ghaur and Llyra freed Tyrannus from Abomination's body. Spidey and She-Hulk fought the mindless Abomination, and Ghaur marked She-Hulk as the 1st Bride of Set. Ghaur sent Tyrannus to contact Viper.

Punisher An#2 - Punisher and Moon Knight disrupted Viper's plan to turn people into Serpent-Men.

Spectacular Spider-Man An#9 - Spidey and Cloak&Dagger found Tyrannus also creating Serpent-Men. Ghaur got Tyrannus to mark Dagger as the 2nd Bride of Set, and Tyrannus hypnotised Cloak into stealing the magic Book of Kell, and then captured Spidey. A mystery armoured figure watched proceedings.

Daredevil An#5 - Tyrannus had Spider-Man under his control and intended to free Set for his own purposes using the Book of Kell and sacrificing Viper. Daredevil and Dr Strange stopped him.

Now read on ...

The Lemurian alchemists have recreated the Serpent Crown (more powerful than before and now indestructible), Ghaur and Llyra are now ready to attack the surface world. They contact Attuma who sends out forces led by Lord Arno, Krang, Tyrak and U-Man. He is having doubts about the wisdom of this plan, but at least it won't be *him* who dies on the battlefield. As usual in Marvel comics attacking the world means basically attacking the US, and the 4 forces assault Cape Canveral, Fort Hamilton army base, Langley air force base and Shoreham nuclear plant. The Avengers (Captain America, Quasar, She-Hulk and Thor with a visiting android Human Torch and Sersi) monitor the situation.

On Magneto's island the Serpent Crown exerts its influence which is felt by previous wearers. Evil Viper is energised while good Thing, Quasar and Scarlet Witch are weakened. As is the armoured figure glimpsed in SSM An#9.

Captain America has sent out the call for current and previous Avengers to assemble. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wonder Man of the West Coast team appear. Ex-WCA-er Hawkeye arrives with Black Widow on his sky-cycle. 3 of the Fantastic Four turn up in the Fantasticar (*their* Human Torch has never been an Avenger). Ex-Avengers Black Panther, Captain Marvel and the Gray Hulk have their own individual ways of getting here. Dr. Pym, Mockingbird, Tigra and Wasp arrive late from the West Coast. (Except Tigra can't really be here.)

Cap divides them into 4 squads to tackle an attack site each. Quasar and Thing stay behind because of their illness, but Scarlet Witch claims to be alright. She-Hulk is onboard even though she seems unusually distracted (an effect of the Mark of Set from ASM An#23).

Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman take Black Panther and She-Hulk in the Fantasticar to Shoreham where they will find the army led by Lord Arno (a lackey of Attuma from #154-155 (part of a crossover with Namor and Dr Doom in Super-Villain Team-Up), who won't be seen again after this). Sue Richards makes her team (and the 'car) invisible. They sneak in but then betray their presence by attacking the Atlanteans. She-Hulk is confused and is hit by a blast from Arno. She falls on Sue and they lose their invisibility.

Arno summons his ace-in-the-hole Orka the Killer Whale (originally a lackey of Warlord Krang who got mutated by Dr Dorcas in Sub-Mariner #23 and turned into a giant by the Brand Corporation in our #149 - he's always somebody's weapon). But BP and Shulk take him down, and Arno and his army run away.

Scarlet Witch flies a quinjet to Langley with Hulk, Human Torch, Sersi and Wonder Man to face Tyrak's Atlanteans. Tyrak also débuted as Attuma's lackey in #154-156 but he had a bigger part, not least because Attuma had a device which super-sized him. He continued to work for Attuma in #172 and #278.

The quinjet shoots at the Atlanteans as HT and WM fly out to wreck their gunships directly. Sersi hitches a lift on Hulk's back as he directs his fall through some flying craft, then she transmutes herself into a big rock to do similar. Wanda has landed the jet and uses her hex on enemy craft, but her weakness makes her faint - and Ghaur appears to mark her as the 3rd Bride. Tyrak does his growing thing and stands up to even Hulk and WM, until HT slags his power source. And Sersi gets the Atlanteans to shoot each other by turning half of them into US soldiers.

It's almost an anti-climax when Moondragon pops in with a mind-controlled Rick Jones and in her usual high-handed way uses his latent mental power (see #97 as he ended the Kree-Skrull War) to send the enemy away.

The invaders of Fort Hamilton are led by U-Man. He was invented in the WWII-set Invaders series, but like all Atlanteans he's long-lived so can turn up in the present day here.

Dr Pym took his team on a detour to do some special modifications. They now arrive - Pym and Tigra (who's not really here) in his flying craft called Rover, Hawkeye with Black Widow still on his sky-cycle, and Thor and Wasp travelling by hammer and wing power. Thor does lots of damage until some undepicted weapon blasts him into the water below the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. But U-Man and some of his troop still take the opportunity to escape.

Then Pym takes a tiny gas cannister from 1 of his pockets and enlarges it. He fires the gas at the remaining Atlanteans. Hawkeye adds some special gas arrows, and BW and Wasp fire modified bite and sting. And the army is shrunk to fit in the palm of 1 hand. (See, it didn't matter that Tigra wasn't really here.)

That leaves Captains America and Marvel, Iron Man, Mockingbird and Vision to handle the remaining Atlantean force at Cape Canaveral. After bopping some troops in their individual ways, including shattering breathing helmets, CM, IM and Vision use their rays to heat up the water in the Atlanteans' suits. They flee to the ocean but are followed by the mystery figure. And then a sea monster attacks the troops.

Warlord Krang has been running this show from the safety of his command vessel. But the armoured mystery man finds him, and Krang recognises his voice. (Krang's a really long-time Sub-Mariner villain, dating back to FF An#1 - and in flashbacks to WWII.) The villain is soundly thrashed.

In Atlantis Attuma learns of the failed invasion. He was right to doubt the plan, and thinks Ghaur and Llyra must have had an ulterior motive.

Most of the heroes will reconvene in AWC An#4, but before then Atlantis Attacks will continue in New Mutants An#5, X-Factor An#4 and Web of Spider-Man An#5.

Story 2:- The initiation of Quasar

Script Mark Gruenwald, pencils Mark Bagley, inks Chris Ivy, letters Rick Parker, colours Nel Yomtov, editor Howard Mackie.

The Avengers (Captain America, Gilgamesh, Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic and Thor) and West Coast Avengers (Dr Pym, Hawkeye, Tigra and Wonder Man) hang around with Firelord, Quasar and the FF's Human Torch after their battle against Super-Nova in #301-303. Cap and Hawkeye both ask Quasar to join their teams. Clint Barton defers to Steve Rogers because Wendell Vaughan is New York-based. Quasar agrees to come to Avengers Island later to discuss the job. But as he flies away he wonders how he'll square it with being Protector of the Universe.

At the meeting Steve remembers working with Quasar (as Marvel Man) in CA#228-230 after which Wendell became security chief for Project Pegasus (as Quasar) (see various issues of Marvel Two-In-One). But he hasn't heard of him for a few years since then. Quasar admits that he quit after the Serpent Crown took him over in Marvel Team-Up An#5. Then he flew (takes a long time) to Uranus to investigate where the original Marvel Boy got his Quantum Bands from. But there he learned they were made by the cosmic being Eon and were destined for the Protector of the Universe, which is now *him*. (See Q#2.)

Cap remembers the original Captain Marvel claimed that title too. (Eon gave *him* the job too. But the Nega Bands *he* wore were created by the Kree Supreme Intelligence. However I believe the Nega Bands were based on the Quantum Bands.) Steve thinks being Avenger and Protector are complementary, and Q could benefit from being able to call on the Avengers as Protector. Wendell agrees to try the 6-month trainee period.

He fills in loads of forms, has his background checked and has a physical examination by the team's doctor Keith Kincaid (Jane Foster's husband from Thor's comic). Then he demonstrates his abilities to Cap. He can fly pretty fast using anti-gravity, and create energy projections. He can also use antigrav to lift things, and demonstrates on the whole artificial island.

But then Firelord flies past and thinks Q is attacking the place. The hothead attacks Vaughan and they fight until Cap's shield separates them. When he learns the truth Firelord apologises, but Cap says it gave Q a chance to show of his fighting skills.

Story 3:- Cap's Avengerability analysis

Script Fabian Nicieza, pencils various, inks various, letters Ken Lopez, colours Mike Rockwitz, editor Howard Mackie.

The Avengers communications liaison Peggy Carter and security director Michael O'Brien nag Cap into doing the personnel evaluations of team members he promised. He analyses the strengths and weaknesses of past Avengers, mostly in the order they joined:- Thor, Iron Man, Dr Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, Black Panther, She-Hulk, Wonder Man, Tigra, Black Knight, Falcon and Quasar. We leave him as he prepares to move on to more, starting with Moondragon.

Peggy Carter worked with the French Resistance in WWII, and she had an affair with Cap. Later she was a SHIELD Agent. Her niece is Sharon Carter.

Michael O'Brien débuted in Iron Man #82, investigating the death of his brother Kevin. Tony Stark gave him Kevin's Guardsman armour, and he became head of security at Project PEGASUS.

Carter, O'Brien and Kincaid are part of the Avengers Support Crew recruited by Cap, but I believe they appear as often in Cap's own title as this 1, if not more so.

Story 4:- The saga of the Serpent Crown chapter 8:- Manifest destiny

Script Peter Sanderson, pencils Mark Bagley, inks Keith Williams, letters Jade Moede, colours Marc Siry, editor Mark Gruenwald.

The Watcher continues the history of the Crown and Set. I haven't got room in the synopsis to summarise the earlier instalments so I've done it at the end of my Comments.

After WWI minor telepath Paul Destine researches the telepathic Ancients, finds the ruins of their Antarctic base and the Helmet of Power. (He travelled on the expedition of Leonard McKenzie who would find the sub-sea Atlanteans now living in Antarctic waters and father Sub-Mariner.) Set puts Destine in suspended animation to increase his power. Destine awakens in the late '50s as Destiny and enacts Set's revenge on the Atlanteans by wrecking their city, killing Namor's mother and grandfather-emperor and sending amnesiac Subby to live as a homeless person in New York, until Human Torch restores (some of) his memory in FF#4.

We learned most of the previous paragraph in Iron-Man & SM #1 and SM#1. Then in SM#7 Paul Destine uses the Helmet of Power to try to become President of the USA but it drives him insane and he sort-of commits suicide. (SM gets to take the Helmet to Atlantis for safe-keeping in #8)

Ron Wilson
Mike Gustovich
Marc Siry
John Byrne (Cover Penciler)
John Byrne (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Rick Parker.
Editor: Howard Mackie.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Gray Hulk
Gray Hulk


(Clint Barton)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Wendell Vaughn)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Jennifer Walters)

(Ben Grimm)


Plus: Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Doctor Pym (Henry Pym), Ghaur, Llyra, Lord Arno, Orka, Tyrak, U-Man.

> Avengers Annual: Book info and issue index

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