AVENGERS #89-92 (June 1971 – Sept. 1971):
Here we are at the beginning of one of the most notable and influential Marvel story arcs of the 1970s… The Kree-Skrull War! It’s a story so-far-reaching that it’s going to be a major component of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie. In 1971, though, readers didn’t know what they were signing on for. Even writer Roy Thomas didn’t know what he was signing on for and admitted afte the fact that he had no master plan in writing it. “The Kree-Skrull War” also bucked form in that it was told over a staggering eight issues in an era when most storylines got no more than three. Does it hold up almost fifty years later? Does it ramble incomprehensibly? Stay tuned, Marvel Mavens, as we dig in and find out!
The saga begins with what appears to be a standard superhero tale wherein Captain Marvel (a.k.a the Kree known as Mar-Vell) escapes from the Negative Zone and, in doing so, accidentally unleashes…
The Avengers send Annihilus back from whence he came, but while they’re distracted Mar-Vell flees the scene in the Avengers’ Quinjet and tries to make it to Florida where he plans to head to the Kree Galaxy, presumably in a stolen rocket, which at optimal 1970 rocket speed will get him there in… 43,630,000,000 years. This is a bad plan.
Discovering that Mar-Vell is overflowing with Negative Zone radiation, which, left unchecked, could set off a chain-reaction that would destroy the Earth, the Avengers catch up with him, incapacitate him, abduct him and take him to an “under-staffed hospital” (!) where a doctor does an experimental procedure to suck out the radiation (!!!).
SUCCESS! But at that same moment, back in the Kree Galaxy, Ronan the Accuser, newly escaped from his banishment, has returned to usurp power from the Kree Supreme Intelligence and activates a Kree Sentry on Earth. Why?
Well, that seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it, doctor?
[smdh] You idiot.
Anyway, the Avengers fight Sentry 459 for a few pages until it gets a new set of orders: abduct Mar-Vell, but DON’T kill the others. The Kree duo teleports out and as the Avengers prepare to follow (though they’re not sure how), they have a visitor.
YAYYYYYYY, CAROL’S HERE! Non-superpowered at this point, but still. Also, is everyone excited about the Captain Marvel movie? YOU SHOULD BE. But I’m getting ahead of myself (and Marvel continuity)…
On the way back to the Avengers Mansion, Rick Jones catches the team up on Kree/Earth history, as well as how Mar-Vell’s girlfriend got fridged after he renounced the Kree.
While they were gone, Goliath left a message for the rest of the team, explaining how Hank (a.k.a. Yellowjacket) and Janet (a.k.a. The Wasp) went to investigate some trouble in Alaska and he followed. The Avengers leave immediately to provide backup for their teammates, knocking Jarvis over on their way without so much as an apology or even an acknowledgment (what a bunch of assholes).
Meanwhile, in Alaska, Goliath has found Janet and she relays the news that Hank has gone missing. Hank had been sent to study the effect of oil-drilling on Alaska’s wildlife and the two of them had discovered a jungle on the edge of the Arctic Circle with a strange structure rising out of the centre of it. The two of them jumped on the back of a giant dragonfly and as they got closer Hank thought he knew what was going on below, so he punched Janet in the face.
That’s his wife, by the way. He just knocked her out cold. PUNCHED HER UNCONSCIOUS.
I would like, at this point, to remind everyone that while Hank Pym is a notorious spousal abuser in the Marvel Universe, the incident that would make everyone say, “UHHH, WTF?!?!” doesn’t happen until Avengers #213—ten years down the line. No one batted an eyelash about this, though.
So, Jan woke up strapped to the back of the dragonfly as Hank flew off toward the jungle. The dragonfly deposited her back at the boat and she called the rest of the Avengers for help (after escaping her insect bondage).
Having listened to her story, Goliath attempts to gaslight her and then TAKES OFF WITHOUT HER.
The Avengers: motherfuckers, every last one of them.
Goliath gets taken out by Ronan after fighting a cat-ape creature right before the rest of the Avengers show up. Now under Sentry 459’s control, Goliath fights his teammates while in the strange tower (actually a Kree citadel) Ronan gloats to Mar-Vell about his master plan just like a good villain. He’s going to force the entire planet to revert to a pre-Ice Age era because:
And Ronan’s final irony is that Hank, now reverted into a bestial caveman form, is now advancing on Jan’s prone body, wooden club held high.
Cool. Because getting beaten by her husband once in an issue wasn’t enough.
BUT WAIT. The Caveman Hank stops before striking the killing blow…
…apparently so he can abduct and rape her.
Another reminder that this is one of the most-beloved of Marvel’s 1970s stories.
Sentry 459 beats the hell out of The Vision, Goliath, and The Scarlet Witch and takes them back into the Kree citadel, leaving Quicksilver and Rick Jones to figure out how to save the day.
Lamenting their fate, The Vision and The Scarlet Witch are about to do some hardcore mouth-kissing…
…but The Vision stops himself because “I’m an android—a mere copy of a living being—a thing of plastoid flesh—and synthetic blood!” Dang, he sure has some self-hate issues.
[FUN FACT: This is the beginning of the romance between the Vision and the Scarlet Witch—a relationship which is so important in the Marvel Universe it got two different limited series in the 1980s. BONUS FUN FACT: Avengers #91 is the first issue to feature the Vision’s trademark rectangular word balloons with the rounded corners.]
Ronan is about to devolve The Scarlet Witch into an amoeba (because he’s a dick), but before he can follow through on that plan Quicksilver stops him and Rick destroys the citadel’s central control panel. Ronan prepares to destroy them out of spite when an urgent message from the Kree Galaxy is broadcast into the room.
Ronan teleports out, Sentry 459 blows up, the Arctic starts to freeze over again, the Kree citadel sinks below the ice, Hank quits the Avengers (to focus on science) and Jan quits the team out of solidarity with her abusive husband.
Back at the mansion, the team takes a well-deserved break. While she heads out for a walk to escape the pretension and sexism of her colleagues, Wanda (The Scarlet Witch) is barreled into by Jarvis and she makes a huge stink out of it.
Like, DO NONE OF YOU REMEMBER LAST ISSUE WHEN YOU KNOCKED OVER JARVIS WITHOUT SO MUCH AS A WORD?! I realize he’s your butler, but he’s not a piece of trash. You’re heroes—try to show a little respect to the guy who picks up after you.
Anyhoo, the Arctic scientists who got reverted into cavemen blabbed to the press about the Kree’s invasion plans, despite being sworn to secrecy by the Avengers (because the Avengers knew the world would freak out if they discovered what happened) and an Alien Activities Commission was quickly established by the White House (bearing not a little similarity to both the House Un-American Activities Committee and Joseph McCarthy).
Mar-Vell offers to turn himself in so as to deflect suspicion away from the Avengers, but the Vision has a counter-argument.
Just then, Carol Danvers crashes a helicopter into the roof of the Mansion and suggests that Mar-Vell should spend some time laying low at her friends’ farm in upstate New York. As the two of them escape the Mansion in a Quinjet, Nick Fury (surveilling the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes from above in S.H.I.E.L.D. jets) pursues but his squadron leaves a gap in their formation for the Quinjet to escape through. When asked why Fury let them get away, he says this:
“Boy, comics were better back in the good old days,” shouts the peanut gallery. “Y’know, before they started putting politics in them.” Uh-huh. Okay.
The Avengers are given a summons to appear at a public hearing the next day to investigate whether aliens are infiltrating America and if so, are they being helped and by whom? Suddenly, Rick remembers a dream he had the night before:
Somehow he knows it’s not just a dream (and certainly not just a weird tentacle dream about his best friend), and flees the courtroom to try and find them. The hearings are adjourned for the day and the Avengers return home to discover that a mob of protesters made their way into the Mansion and trashed the place. (Jarvis had turned off all of the Mansion’s defenses, you see, so that none of the rioters would be hurt.)
But as bad as that was, it’s nothing compared to the original Avengers showing up to lay down the law:
Wow. What a bunch of a**holes.
AD OF THE WEEK:
“What hours of imaginative play and fun as you and your friends… release nuclear missiles and torpedoes!”
NEXT TIME: You wear a disguise to take on human guise, but you’re not a man, you’re a serpent cult.