Avengers: The Crossing #1: Review

Sep 1995
Terry Kavanagh, Mike Deodato Jr.

Story Name:

The Crossing

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Avengers: The Crossing #1 Review by (April 11, 2011)
When the alternate reality mansion first appeared in #375, the Avengers found its computer/electronics systems to be quite different from their own, but they gradually made it usable over several issues. The extra story in #382 where Black Widow explored a non-functioning mansion was probably set just after #375. It was here that they found the unopenable door in the basement. Behind it they detected a frozen moment of time from the mansion's original reality. It was made clear in this story that the Avengers who owned this mansion weren't a very close analogue of our bunch. Compared with this, Beast claims the mansion is (now) practically identical to the original. Giant-Man says it has changed since it first appeared (but seems to play down how bad it originally was). And Black Widow contradicts the idea that they could detect a frozen moment of time beyond it. This suggests the mansion has adapted. Or been changed by Kang/Immortus. **** But an alternative suggestion is that the writers (or editors) changed the idea behind the door. Bob Harras brought the mansion back. Ben Raab wrote the story that introduced the door. Terry Kavanagh had joined Bob Harras as writer by the time something started tapping behind it. Terry Kavanagh and Dan Abnett were the main writers behind the crossover. Kavanagh was co-writer with Bob Harras of the Avengers issues including the Crossing and Timeslide 1-shots, although they only plotted #393-4 with Ben Raab providing the script. Abnett wrote War Machine, and co-wrote Force Works with Andy Lanning. Kavanagh took over writing Iron Man with the prelude #319 and wrote, or plotted with Abnett writing, the following issues and the Age of Innocence 1-shot. **** This issue is immediately followed by Force Works #16 and Avengers #391.

Is it significant that teenage Luna is wearing a different costume when she appears first to Rita than when she appears to Hercules and tries to warn Marilla? The later costume is the one worn in all subsequent appearances in Avengers, when she is part of the Kang/Mantis gang. (Although her clothes in Iron Man and Force Works are randomly different.) Noticeably the 'Rita' version seems to be fully present, unlike the next 2 appearances. The first Luna is pretty clearly from the alternate future Rita saw, trying to prevent the murder she had witnessed as a child. I suggest that subsequent appearances are by a different Luna, from wherever Kang's forces come. She is exhibiting her ambiguous nature as a member of Kang's team who is actually on the Avengers' side. If the first teenage Luna *is* from the future then the 'he' she is afraid of may well be Iron Man rather than the as-yet-unrevealed Kang. Why is the other teenage Luna insubstantial? When she uses her time-chair she arrives in the flesh. My reading is that it s a combination of the time-chair and an ability of Luna's that makes the crossing possible. Possibly she can't use the time-chair to make her unauthorised warning visits. And her ability alone isn't good enough to make a full crossing. The later teenage Luna is in reality one of Immortus's Space Phantom's. But is that true of the first teenage Luna? If the reality that Yellowjacket skipped through is a real possible outcome of the crossover, then the first Luna is a time traveller from this alternate future.

Since the door arrived with the mansion conjured into existence by Ute the Watcher, was Ute working for Kang? Ute was part of Proctor and the Gatherers, who were mostly alternate reality versions of existing characters. Kang also uses an alternate reality character in his plot, the Cybermancer alternate of Suzi Endo in Force Works. This could mean that the Gatherers were also part of the scheme, including the current Swordsman and his lover Magdalene. But that way lies madness. The whole question of why Kang's forces need the door is rendered moot by the revelation in Avengers Forever that Kang was Immortus and all the other mysterious players on both sides were his Space Phantoms, popping in from Limbo whenever and wherever they wanted. This makes the door just a bit of theatre. However the fact that the door was included in the scenario could imply that Ute, Proctor, Gatherers, Swordsman and Magdalene were all Space Phantoms. Swapping one form of madness for another. A solution to this could be that Kang/Immortus inserted the door before Avengers #382, but after the mansion was recreated by Ute.

Why is the crossover and this issue called 'The Crossing'? Luna refers to Rita has having 'crossed back home' from the 31st Century. But more significantly when Luna appears to Hercules she refers to herself has having made the crossing. Other players will also use this term in other issues to describe getting here from Kang's base. **** A lot of significance is placed on the fact that the basement door is opened in this issue, presumably for the first time. (When I first read this issue I thought the killer of Marilla was an alternate Iron Man who had opened the door from the other side, and that he had also popped through earlier to kill Yellowjacket.) But the door doesn't actually play a major role in the crossover. In subsequent issues only Neut will come through the basement door, in Avengers #391 and Iron Man #322. He doesn't appear to need Iron Man's help to do that. However, possibly Iron Man made the door operable in this issue (although it continues to appear closed, and still resists Avengers' attempts to penetrate it). There are at least 2 other permanent portals, in Stark's Arctic base and a secret sub-basement in Force Works HQ. These have arguably been working long before the one in Avengers mansion. And later (e.g. Avengers #392) teenage Luna uses a time-chair to transport forces through warps a long way from Avengers mansion. Meanwhile in this issue Gilgamesh and the attack squad arrive by undisclosed means, and the attack squad disappear through a warp that doesn't appear to be related to Luna or the door. Tuc certainly got here in Avengers #390 before the door was opened. The door is probably opened only at the end of this issue, after Gilgamesh has made it 'safely' to the Avengers. Perhaps Iron Man only opens the door to let Neut in to kill Gilgamesh in Avengers #391. But if this is so, then what reason is left for the 'bad' Stark to set up the anniversary party.

U.S.Agent is a strange choice to be at the reunion, as he's the only person there who has never been a member of the main Avengers team. The writers obviously believe this, as they give him an excuse. In this issue he claims to be just there to get a lift back West with Iron Man. In Force Works #16 he actually pilots a craft home with Scarlet Witch, and in War Machine #20 he claims he only 'tagged along' to the party 'as chauffeur' for Stark and Wanda. (Was he the designated driver, and didn't drink? Surely that should have been Stark.) **** Captain America and Thor aren't at the reunion because Cap is believed dead as of Captain America #444, and Thor isn't feeling well during the Worldengine story in Thor #391-394. The letter column in Thor #390 suggests the Worldengine story will be connected to the Crossing crossover, but I don't see it. **** The attack squad of bad-guys will be revealed later as part of Kang's growing army of Anachronauts. These are not the original Anachronauts introduced in Fantastic Four Annual #25 in the Citizen Kang crossover. But the original Anachronauts are leaders of the army.

Mockingbird died in Avengers West Coast #100. Why exactly does Hawkeye blame Iron Man for her death? Initially he didn't blame anyone. For instance he has had frequent amicable adventures since then with War Machine, who was present at the death. But in Marvel Comics Presents #161, U.S.Agent reminded Hawkeye that Iron Man let the West Coast team think he was dead (Iron Man #284-290), and never rejoined the team when he 'recovered'. That was all before Avengers West Coast #100. But U.S.Agent suggested that if Iron Man hadn't abandoned the team he might have saved Mockingbird. This argument was a bit dodgy, and in Force Works #8 Hawkeye just claimed not to trust manipulative Stark. But now he specifically blames Iron Man for Mockingbird's death. **** Vision hasn't been seen in the main Avengers title since #383. He lost his emotions when he was dismantled and rebuilt in West Coast Avengers #43-45. He regained them in the first Vision limited series, and resigned from the Avengers to sort himself out. He effectively rejoins here, but in no issue does he ever actually say that he is back. While Vision was gone from the Avengers he attended a few gatherings of heroes such as Nick Fury's funeral in Incredible Hulk #434. However he also made a couple of appearances as part of the Avengers in Avengers Unplugged #1, 2. AU#2 is just a generic adventure with lots of leeway for slotting it in. But AU#1 specifically happens during Captain America #443, where Cap appeared to die, definitely after Avengers #388 and before the current events. We'll either have to assume a friendly visit or two, or that Vision rejoined the Avengers earlier and just didn't appear in the main book. Quicksilver's surprise at seeing him at the party could be because the Scarlet Witch is there, or just because he's not a party animal.

Iron Man obviously kills Yellowjacket to stop her from warning the Avengers. Probably Mantis alerted him about her. I can see how keeping Rita away from the mansion would give her a chance to find someone other than Iron Man to talk to. But I don't see how Rita dying 'caused' the disastrous future. The Crossing plot would have happened anyway. **** It is clear that the time-hopping mystery girl is a teenage Luna, as confirmed in Avengers #394. (There is no mention of her brother Tuc from Avengers #390.) She initially wants to stop the murder of Yellowjacket that she witnessed as a child. Then she moves on to try to stop the rest of the crossover plot in general, and prevent Marilla'a death in particular. **** The 'she' who trained the twins is Mantis. The twins are Malachi and Tobias who will debut in Avengers #392. But Hercules doesn't meet them here or in Avengers #391, while Gilgamesh is dying. **** The original Avengers mansion was destroyed when Masters of Evil IV took it over in #273-277. Avengers relocated to Hydrobase island, but this too was destroyed in #311 during the Acts of Vengeance crossover. Tony Stark then constructed a replacement mansion, which was destroyed by Sersi under the influence of Proctor in #373. At the end of the Proctor storyline in #375 the dying Watcher Ute restored the original mansion. Over the next few issues the Avengers discovered that this mansion was from an alternate timeline, and they uncovered the door in the basement in #382. In #385 an attempt to penetrate the door backfired, but they didn't notice something start tapping from inside. The Avengers believed the door led back to the alternate timeline. But later, especially in Avengers: Timeslide, we find that it is a time portal.

The future Rita sees is presumably the one that would evolve from the Avengers failing to defeat Kang and Mantis in this crossover, with empress Mantis and emperor Kang. (Although from Force Works #22 I could argue that the empress is Cybermancer, and Iron Man the emperor.) Thor is wearing the armour he will use in the battle against Onslaught. Captain America being branded a traitor is the storyline that will start in Captain America #450, which has no connection to the crossover. Rita's last stop off is actually the opening of the Avengers: Timeslide 1-shot, which is nearly the end of the crossover. Wasp has mutated to a new form. However Hawkeye is shown here, when he isn't actually present in that scene (or indeed that whole 1-shot). **** No-one has ever claimed that the Yellowjacket who dies here is a Space Phantom, so we have to accept that she really experienced her time jumps. So what is the future that Yellowjacket saw? It isn't the future Rita knows from her time in the 31st Century. But that's irrelevant because the Guardians of the Galaxy are already known to exist in an alternate future which diverged from the main Marvel reality way back in Marvel Two-In-One #69. The Avengers being hunted by an American empire is the future if Kang's current plot succeeds. The Thor scene could be the 'real' future. Captain America as traitor will actually happen, but Iron Man in that scene is wearing the current armour, not the one the young replacement Iron Man will put together. So this is from a future where the current Iron Man survives, and hence Kang wins. The fact that Hawkeye is in the final scene from Timeslide is probably a mistake, but could be considered as indicating that this is an alternate version of that battle. Of course these scenes may all have been an invention of Immortus, who once created a whole dummy planet Phantus to fool Thor in Thor #281-282. But it would probably be easier for him to divert Rita through a real possible future.

This is part 1 of the Crossing crossover. The main body of the crossover consists of Avengers #391-395, Force Works #16-20, Iron Man #320-325 and War Machine #20-23, plus the 1-shots Avengers: The Crossing and Avengers: Timeslide. It is normally considered to also include 2 prologues (Avengers #390 and Iron Man #319) and an epilogue (1-shot Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man). I have also added the last 2 issues of Force Works (#21-22) as another epilogue. I could with some justification have also included War Machine #18-19 where Rhodey is given the Warwear armour, and Force Works #15 where the secret sub-basement is discovered in Force Works HQ. But then I might equally have had to drag in a couple of earlier issues of Avengers involving the door in the basement of their mansion. **** The 2 prologues obviously precede this issue. In Iron Man #319 Iron Man organised this anniversary gathering for the following day, so that issue comes immediately before this one. The cryptic warnings the Avengers received in Avengers #390 could happen anytime before now. I will describe in Avengers #391 the sequence I think the full crossover should be read in. **** In Avengers #395 I will comment in detail on the crossover as a whole. The Crossing crossover is ostensibly a plot by Kang and Mantis-gone-bad. Iron Man is partially under their control. Tuc, introduced in Avengers #390, is working against them. Teenage Luna whom we meet this issue is officially working for them, but secretly trying to help the Avengers. Avengers Forever later revealed that Kang was actually Immortus, and the other players on both sides were his Space Phantoms. This is why teenage Luna is listed as an enemy. The whole plot was a scam to keep the Avengers occupied until Onslaught arrived. Despite this I will try to unravel the plot as it was presented.

Captain America only appears in a newspaper in an alternate future. Thor only appears in another alternate future scene. So his presence on the cover is misleading.

Comment added later:- Since I first submitted this issue I have added the Force Works #15 and War Machine #18-19 mentioned below as preludes to the crossover. As well as the Warwear and secret sub-basement, these issues also uncover technology from Timely Industries, which is a front for Kang.

The rest of the Comments blocks are in reverse order.





 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: The Crossing #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This is the first official issue of the Crossing crossover, but it continues from preludes in FORCE WORKS #15 and WAR MACHINE #19.

Yellowjacket (Rita DeMara) is travelling back home in time to the late 20th Century, returning from serving with Guardians of the Galaxy in the 31st Century.

But she falls short and sees a future she doesn't recognise, where the US has an (unnamed) Empress, and the last two Avengers alive, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are being hunted. As Hawkeye is killed and Black Widow captured, the Widow sees Yellowjacket and warns her to stay away from Avengers Mansion (when she completes her journey to the past), because 'it' all started when she went there. A mystery girl also recognises Rita from long ago, and swears to stop (another) 'it' from happening.

Then Rita is pulled back into the timestream, and reappears earlier where she sees a different-looking Thor. Another involuntary time-jump backwards brings her to Avengers Mansion and shows her Iron Man and a newspaper that calls Captain America a traitor. The next jump shows a strange-looking Wasp with Century, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Crystal and Jarvis the butler trying to break into Avengers Mansion.

The last jump dumps Yellowjacket outside Avengers Mansion in the present in the early morning. The mystery girl from the future appears to her and warns Rita to leave. She also says "If he finds out I'm here he'll kill me.".

Rita knocks on the door to tell the Avengers all she has seen. She recognises who answers the door as a friend. But this 'friend' already knows what she is going to say, and kills her. Crystal and Quicksilver's little daughter Luna witnesses the murder from her bedroom.

That day many Avengers are gathered at the mansion at the invitation of Tony Stark to celebrate the anniversary of the Avengers' founding. As well as the current roster (Black Widow, Crystal, Deathcry, Giant-Man, Hercules and Quicksilver) along with Jarvis, Luna and her nanny Marilla, there are Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and U.S.Agent representing Force Works, plus Beast, Hawkeye (uninvited, straight from War Machine #19) and Janet Van Dyne, currently retired from being Wasp since she left the West Coast team in AWC#74.

Tony Stark reminisces about his life as a young man in the mansion, before his parents died and he donated it to the Avengers. Tony's first girlfriend, in his reminiscences, is Meredith McCall, who reappeared in his life in Iron Man v1 #28. She will pop up again in the Avengers: Timeslide 1-shot.

When Tony meets Wanda he apologises for the recent friction at Force Works, and they reconcile. He comments on Scarlet Witch's new costume. This is a continuity glitch, as he had already done so in Iron Man #319. But strangely no-one mentions the new costume in Force Works.

The mystery girl appears to Hercules on his way to the party, more insubstantial than when she met Rita. He feels he should recognise her. She plays the cryptic message game. "When the oldest among you is near death" Hercules will meet the twins, who an equally-mysterious 'she' has trained. But because she doesn't fully materialise, Hercules can't remember her intervention. But the girl has transferred some information into his brain, which will play a part in Avengers: Timeslide.

Black Widow and Giant-Man show Wasp the unopenable door in the mansion basement, which was discovered after the mansion was recreated by a Watcher. Black Widow says they can't scan beyond the door. Giant-Man says the mansion computer/electrical systems were 'a bit off' when the mansion first appeared, but now they are fully functional. Beast joins them, saying he has just found a lost baseball card in his old room. As far as he is concerned this is their old mansion returned to them. Black Widow is content that the door is under constant computer surveillance. Giant-Man doesn't mention he thinks he hears a faint tapping from beyond the door.

Luna is distraught over what she witnessed, but won't tell anyone what's wrong.

Jan says she's been in Europe studying to be a chef, but most of the guests are wary of her food.

Half the Avengers start a poker game.

Hawkeye is angry at Stark over the death of his wife Mockingbird.

The basement door disrupts its surveillance.

Vision unexpectedly joins the party. He tells his ex-wife Wanda he has regained his emotions.

The party is disrupted when a bunch of plasma bolt-wielding flying baddies attack a man on a nearby rooftop. The Avengers beat them off (suspiciously easily?), and discover the attackee is ex-Avenger (in Avengers #299-310) Eternal Gilgamesh, unaccountably aged near to death. Hercules now remembers the cryptic warning about 'when the oldest among you is near death', but not who told it to him. It is notable that Iron Man is one of the Avengers who doesn't help in the fight (Deathcry is with little Luna, Jan is with Jarvis in the kitchen).

The insubstantial mystery girl appears again, and fails to open the door to Luna's bedroom, where Marilla and Deathcry are trying to comfort her. Marilla goes to fetch Luna's favourite toy, which for some reason is in the basement near the unopenable door. She sees the door open and a figure in front of it, who kills her. It is Iron Man, and he admits to killing Yellowjacket too.

It is revealed in Avengers #391 that Iron Man incinerated the bodies of Rita and Marilla.

The Crossing continues in FORCE WORKS #16.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:




Mike Deodato Jr.
Deodato Studios
Marie Javins
Mike Deodato Jr. (Cover Penciler)
Mike Deodato Jr. (Cover Inker)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Beast
Beast

(Hank McCoy)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Jarvis
Jarvis

(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)
Watcher
Watcher

(Uatu)

Plus: Anachronauts, Giant-Man (Scott Lang), Space Phantoms, U.S. Agent.

> Avengers: The Crossing: Book info and issue index

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