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Mighty Avengers, The #21: Review

Jan 2009
Dan Slott, Khoi Pham

Story Name:

Earth's mightiest part 1 of 3: The smartest man in the room

Review & Comments

4 stars

Mighty Avengers, The #21 Review by (June 12, 2017)
This story will last 3 issues and the covers are linked to give 1 large image of the whole team.

#23 will reveal that this isn't really Scarlet Witch. Her real return will be in Avengers: Children's Crusade where the possibility will be raised that the version Beast and Hawkeye met earlier (Endangered Species backups in X-titles and New Avengers #26) was a robot created by Dr Doom.

Mount Wundagore was the site of the High Evolutionary's castle where he uplifted (to use David Brin's term) animals into his New Men or Knights of Wundagore. Bova was an uplifted cow who acted as nursemaid to baby Pietro and Wanda who in the origin accepted at this point were the children of Magda, estranged wife of Magneto.
But Wundagore is also where evil Elder God Chthon was entombed. He wrote Marvel's premier magic book the Darkhold. Scarlet Witch's magical abilities were attributed at this time to her having been born on Wundagore
The twins learned this version of their origin in Av#185-187 when Chthon got Modred the Mystic to provide him with Scarlet Witch as a host. It seems they're trying the same trick with brother Quicksilver now.
It was after this that Bova nursed Modred back to health. He's had lots more adventures since then both as hero and villain, fighting the influence of Chthon.
Bova was last seen in the 1st Quicksilver series where she was a recurring character through to the crossover ending with Heroes for Hire. Pietro worked with the High Evolutionary and his New Men then in Wundagore.
Chthon most recently tried to return to Earth again in Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm.

The Young Avengers are fresh from their Dark Reign series where they faced some less-than-heroic contenders for the group title, and Norman Osborn and some of his Dark Avengers.
Since then NO and the whole of DAv have been in All-New Savage She-Hulk #1-4 where the title character Lyra came from a future ruined by Osborn.
Before both of these the DAv were in Free Comic Book Day 2009: Avengers helping Thor against Ymir and the Twilight Sword. And that's where the New Av were last too.

Hercules took over the Incredible Hulk comic after World War Hulk, with Amadeus Cho in tow, and renamed it Incredible Hercules. After SI they were involved in a war between Atlantis and Amazons in #121-125, which resulted in 1 of those temporary rewrites of reality that Marvel is so fond of. During the SI issues we discovered that Cho's coyote pup Kirby had been replaced by a Skrull. While Herc was having a flashback to his early youth in #126 Cho had his own tale in which he located the real Kirby. But he also met up with his old pal Hulk.
Bruce Banner was voluntarily imprisoned by SHIELD after WWH. The next Hulk series starred the new Red Hulk. But soon Banner was freed to become green Hulk and help fight Rulk. They started to share the book as Greenie hunted Reddie, and before meeting Cho Hulk was temporarily turned into a Wendigo in Hulk #8-9 (don't ask). Hulk and Cho parted, but have immediately been brought back together again in this issue.

Since his fall from grace in SI Iron Man has only appeared (as Tony Stark) last issue at Janet Van Dyne's funeral.
That was also the 1st issue featuring Henry Pym since his return at the end of SI. There he learned what happened to his ex-wife Jan, and also everything that occurred while he was 'away'. Then in Av: Initiative #20 Jocasta helped him come to terms with the loss of the woman on whose brain patterns she was based. The pair were then in SI: Requiem where Pym decided to honour Jan's death by taking over her super-id Wasp.
Edwin Jarvis was a prisoner of the Skrulls alongside Hank Pym. Since their release he's only appeared in Av:I#20 as 1 of a group being given counselling.

Mr Fantastic and Thing are here after the end of the Doom's Master story arc ending partway through Fantastic Four #569 (not including Thing's wedding).

Canada's Omega Flight including US Agent weren't seen in SI. Since Civil War they've had their own mini-series and a strip spanning the whole run of the 2nd Marvel Comics Presents anthology book. But of course US Agent is John Walker who used to be the replacement Captain America back in the late 80's. Sasquatch is the only survivor of the old Alpha Flight who perished fighting the Collective in NAv#16. The current Guardian *was* the Collective. And Arachne is Julia Carpenter who was the 2nd Spider-Woman.

Quicksilver also wasn't involved in SI. He's been doing his own (usually dubious) thing since the end of House of M stripped him of his mutant speed power. He underwent the Inhuman's Terrigenesis without permission and gained the power to time-travel. He began treating other ex-mutants with Terrigenesis to get their powers back, with not very good results. But in X-Factor: The Quick And The Dead his Terrigenesis ran out so he lost his time-power but he regained his speed. And he decided to be a hero again. (Marvel's other habit - restoring the status quo.) Next issue's flashback will show he joined the Knights of Wundagore to help them against Chthon.

Before looking forwards I'll just mention that the backup tale in Av Classic #3 has a very different version of how Pym found out Iron Man is Tony Stark, but set at about the same time as this issue's flashback.

Most of this issue's characters will appear in #22 and/or #23 but some will leave here.
Captain America and Wolverine will be back for #23 before joining the other NAv in the early issues of the 2nd Agents of ATLAS series.
Norman Osborn will also be on hand for #23 but his DAv members will split up. Sentry will also be in Agents of ATLAS (with NO), Moonstone goes to Ms Marvel #37 (again with NO) where Carol Danvers appears to die (and the Moonstone MsM will take over the comic for a few issues). Venom won't reappear until CA#48 where he cameos alongside the rest of the team (including NO).
It's #23 also for Guardian and Sasquatch but Arachne won't be with them.The team will split up after this and she'll appear next in Amazing SM #634 where Kraven's family are coming after Spider-people.
Mr Fantastic will cameo in Guardians Of The Galaxy #10 where he is told that Blastaar has taken over the supervillain prison in the Negative Zone. (We saw the beginning of the assault in Av:I#24.) And then he joins Thing and the rest of the team for Nova #21 where Richard Rider is thrown out of the Nova Corps.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Mighty Avengers, The #21 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Couple Stature and Vision (Jonas) arrive at the ruins of Avengers Mansion answering a summons from Wiccan about a global mystical threat. They land in the garden of statues to fallen Avengers where a new entrant commemorates the Wasp who died at the end of Secret Invasion. But they also find the other Young Avengers (Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Hulkling, Patriot, Speed and Wiccan) turned to stone. Vision notices the petrification is spreading along the ground, and flies Cassie Lang to safety.

But in the air they see Scarlet Witch casting spells. The ex-Avenger who in Avengers Disassembled destroyed the previous Vision and killed Cassie's father Ant-Man/Scott Lang, and who's not been seen (by all but possibly Beast and Hawkeye (Clint Barton)) since she temporarily rewrote reality in House of M. They immediately assume she's responsible for the problem. And the sea of blood that is now inundating New York. Then Wanda magics them away.

Iron Patriot (Norman Osborn) arrives with some of his Dark Avengers:- Ms Marvel (really Moonstone), Sentry and Spider-Man (really Venom/Mac Gargan). He directs the other 3 to help the citizens while he gives an interview to TV reporter Trish Tilby. He wants to assure people that everything will be alright.

But the problems are worldwide. San Francisco is encased in amber. The Atlantic is boiling over Atlantis. There are pillars of fire in Wakanda, a rain of frogs in Alexandria and plague in Milan.

Meanwhile Avengers' butler Edwin Jarvis is driving an old jalopy to find Thor to do something about all this. But as he drives across the southern border of Kansas he finds himself unexpectedly in Texas. Checking his satnav he finds that the state of Oklahoma has been written out of reality. And therefore Asgard, currently located near Broxton in that state, is no longer accessible.

He is hailed by a flying craft containing Hercules and young Amadeus Cho, the 7th smartest brain on the planet. Cho has been studying what he calls the Chaos Cascade and figures a real Avengers team is needed in this crisis. He tracked Jarvis through his GPS because he's the only person who's been in every incarnation of the Avengers. Hercules claims he's the rock upon which the team is based. So Jarvis suggests they go find the 1 man to lead the team.

In Philadelphia some of the New Avengers (Captain America (Bucky Barnes), Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Ronin (Clint Barton), Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Wolverine are battling an invasion of plants. The plants are winning and are killing the heroes. SW appears overhead but says she's too late, Cap is dead. She departs empty-handed ...

... to appear next in Toronto where some of Omega Flight (Arachne, Guardian (Michael Pointer), Sasquatch and U.S. Agent) and the civilian populace are being consumed by a swarm of insects. She grabs USA saying he'll have to do instead.

Stark Aerospace Labs near Cape Canaveral is now surrounded by volcanoes, and Iron Man is digging trenches to hold back lava. But it's not good enough so he orders all staff into the test bunker where they'll be safe. Tony Stark is at a low ebb. His Extremis tech stopped working because of the Skrull virus in Secret Invasion. It seems he's wearing the Extremis armour but he can't control it very well. Osborn has taken over SHIELD and the Avengers. And this is 1 of the few Stark facilities Ezekiel Stane didn't destroy before SI (in IM(2008)#1-6).

Shellhead attaches himself to a system with 2 parallel giant booster rockets. And he gets his staff to launch him into space. Communications are scrambled so he's going up to see the big picture. The Witch arrives after he's gone, disappointed to have missed another of her targets.

Her next destination is Canyon de Chelly in the Arizona desert which is currently and very unusually in the middle of a violent snowstorm. Wanda arrives to find Hulk has been buried under a mass of ice. She's about to give up on him when he bursts free. And she takes him with her.

Cho, Herc and Jarvis have reached Chicago where Jarvis expects to find Henry Pym. Amadeus is confused because he's hacked into Pym's files and they don't mention a base here. Jarvis leads them into a Jan Van Dyne boutique and to a door marked maintenance in the back. An artificial voice declines the Greek demi-god's request for admittance, but Jocasta is overjoyed to let Jarvis in.

Behind the door is an enormous lab space. The female robot explains that Dr Pym has designed what he calls a Pym Pocket, a region of space that's larger on the inside than on the outside. (Cho makes the obvious TARDIS reference.) But Pym isn't so happy for even Jarvis to interrupt his work.

Pym explains his new uniform as belonging to his new super-id Wasp. Cho is introduced as a really smart kid. They butt brains for a while until Amadeus impresses him by working out the still centre of the Chaos Cascade storm. It's in Eastern Europe, and Pym correctly guesses he means the place in Transia called Mount Wundagore.

On a Stark satellite Tony has zeroed in on the same place. He can't contact any other Avengers so he goes back to his double-booster and heads there alone.

We get there 1st and see Modred the Mystic chanting from the Book of Darkhold which is held open by Bova the cow-woman in chains. She pleads with the man she nursed back to health to stop. As he reads the words of the book become etched in letters of fire on his body. He is *becoming* the Darkhold in service of its lord.

We see corpses of many New Men/Knights of Wundagore. And there is someone else who Modred continues to torture, and refers to as a child of Magda - ie 1 of the twins we know as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

Back in Chicago the visitors are trying to persuade Pym to lead an Avengers team. The X-Men are trapped in ambered San Francisco and we see the Fantastic Four (actually only Mr. Fantastic and Thing) trapped in TV transmissions. Thor is unavailable. Nobody has to mention that the original Wasp is dead. And nobody says that Iron Man isn't in a good position. And Hulk doesn't count. So that makes him the only founding member in line for the job. Hank asks Hercules why *he* doesn't do it. Herc responds by suggesting that Pym is *afraid* to lead the team. And Henry agrees.

He explains that it dates back to the early days of the Avengers. When they 1st got together to fight Loki in Av#1 he worried why the strong guys (Hulk, IM and Thor) needed Ant-Man (& Wasp). But it was he who worked out how to defeat Loki in the end, so he figured his role was being the 'smartest man in the room' - and he'd secretly be the team leader. Becoming Giant-Man in #1½ was decisive in defeating Dr Doom. But being GM made him clumsy (we see him in #3 on top of a train being hit by a bridge) and he started to lose confidence. He says that later he was ant-size in Avengers Mansion and happened to see IM unmask as Tony Stark. Suddenly he realised he wasn't even the cleverest guy on the team. After that he had no pretensions about being leader.

But Cho and Herc point out that Stark isn't *that* smart - he did some stupid things while Pym was replaced by a Skrull. He and the other Illuminati exiled Hulk to space (Planet Hulk), and they should have known he would come back to bite them on the butt (World War Hulk). He caused the Civil War that killed Bill Foster and Steve Rogers. Even faithful Jarvis has to add that it was the Illuminati's attack on the Skrull empire and their capture (in the 1st issue of their limited series) that gave the aliens info to launch their Secret Invasion.

Henry finally accepts their election as leader. He says "Toolbot" and a device expands into his hand, which he says contains his top 900 tools miniaturised. (He's improved the tech he used as Dr Pym in West Coast Avengers.) Moreover a smart chip automatically presents him with the right tool for the job. In this case a key which unlocks the exit. Also his Pym Pocket is even more TARDIS-like in that the door will open to wherever in space (and he says time?) he wants to go - in this case Mount Wundagore ...

... and outside they are greeted by Scarlet Witch. Hank immediately asks if *she* is causing the Chaos (she'd done Avengers Disassembled before he was abducted by the Skrulls). She denies it and says she's assembled a team of Avengers for him. But he must summon them. He thinks she means a magic spell, but Jarvis prompts him to shout "Avengers assemble" ...

... and SW makes Hulk, Stature, US Agent and Vision appear.

Up on the mountain Modred detects the force arrayed against him. He has completely absorbed the Darkhold and now summons its master Chthon to occupy the body of Quicksilver.

Khoi Pham
Allen Martinez
Jason Keith
Khoi Pham (Cover Penciler)
Danny Miki (Cover Inker)
Dean White (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Kate Bishop)

(Bruce Banner)

(Teddy Altman)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Iron Patriot
Iron Patriot

(Norman Osborn)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Jocasta Pym)

(Loki Laufeyson)

(Karla Sofen)

(Pietro Maximoff)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)

(Mac Gargan)

(Henry Pym)

(Billy Kaplan)

Plus: Bova Ayrshire (Bova), Chthon, Modred the Mystic, Patriot (Elijah Bradley), Speed (Tommy Shepherd), Stature, Vision (Jonas).

> Mighty Avengers, The: Book info and issue index

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