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Avengers #169: Review

Mar 1978
Marv Wolfman, Sal Buscema

Story Name:

If We Should Fail -- The World Dies Tonight

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Avengers #169 Review by (March 20, 2010)
Fill-in issue interrupting the Korvac story arc.

Avengers #169 Review by (July 1, 2014)
The OI places this issue chronologically between #162 and #163. Presumably Iron Man gives Jason Beere an old chestplate he has lying around. However it's unclear whether Tony Stark needs a chestplate himself to keep his heart going at this time (around #162-163). The question isn't helped by what was going on in Iron Man's own title at the time. Stark requirement to keep the chestplate on permanently has been an on and off thing - in IM#69-70 he found he needed to put it back on again. But analysis of later issues suggests that sometime after that he tried living without it again. Using the OI's chronological sequence I find the following:- Av#150-156 within which IM has a heart problem when his chestplate is damaged. IM#92-94. In #92 he removes the armour when he has to without any problem. In #93 he has the 1st hint of a heart rejection problem. In Av#157-162 he has no problems, including in #161 when the suit is depowered. IM An#4 is quiet on the subject. In Av#169 IM gives JB a chestplate. Av#163-166 show no problems. IM#95-109. #95-97 include more heart problems. In #98 TS starts to build a new armour to support his heart, but meanwhile reverts for a few issues to the really old armour with the pointy-bits over the eyes.

This was a fill-in issue to give George Perez time to catch up. It was possibly an inventory story already lying around. As Marv Wolfman is credited as editor I wondered if it might have been written during his editorial stint in #140-149. But Black Panther wasn't a teammember then. His only appearance was a cameo in #145 (also a fill-in). So it's unlikely. The Official Index adds the regular Archie Goodwin as editor as well. The weak plot of the issue suggests it may indeed have been a hurried addition. Frozen Jason Beere is referred to at the end of the issue as the Eternity Man because of his frozen state. He's mentioned again in IM#115 then forgotten about. I don't think JB's plan makes any sense, unless he attacked the Avengers because he unconsciously wanted to be stopped. He could have just gone on with his life until his death triggered the bombs. And Iron Man didn't have to freeze him immediately - he wasn't going to die straight away. (Although we get conflicting reports on his chances - 1 says 6 months, the other says less than 1 month.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #169 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Black Panther, Captain America and Iron Man are enjoying some down time in Avengers Mansion when a man in green armour attacks them. His weaponry is impressive but he seems only to be using it to get them to fight him. He urges them on to kill him, saying he won't stop until they do. But Iron Man blasts him until he can't stand up..

When they remove the helmet the find industrialist Jason Beere, who claims to be dying - his heart is failing. But when he goes he wants the world to go with him. And then he passes out. Shellhead takes him to the Stark factory in Flushing, Queens, where he hooks him up to 1 of his old chestplates to keep his heart beating.

When Cap and Panther catch up to him, Iron Man tells them that Beere has planted 4 neutron bombs around the world that will explode when his heart stops. He only has months to live. The bombs will be enough to wipe out all life on Earth.

Later we learn this info was found in a diary and notes in Beere's safe, so IM must have gone to get this. But they only know where 3 of the bombs are, not the 4th that will trigger them. But the notes showed that the bombs could be disarmed by fitting them together. They pick 1 bomb each to find, and hope to be able to work out where the 4th is.

Cap flies a quinjet to Peru. He easily locates the bomb in plain sight in a temple pyramid. But he is attacked by native cultists of a bird god who have been paid to guard it. They even seem to expect him. The leader sets harpy eagles on Cap, but he avoids them by kicking a bee nest at them. Then he grabs the bomb and runs.

Panels sample #2

Panther finds his bomb in an Arctic cave, but has to get past a polar bear. He succeeds without harming the creature beyond stunning it.

Panels sample #3

Iron Man has to retrieve his bomb from a Moscow museum. He sneaks in under the radar, but the Soviets too have been alerted to expect him. He battles past guards and security systems to get hold of the bomb. But then he talks his way out, and avoids an international incident, by showing them that it's a very dangerous bomb he's removing from their city.

Panels sample #4

When all 3 Avengers are back in Stark's plant, Iron Man fits the 3 bombs together as Beere's instructions described. He has examined the bombs and confirmed that they have no detonators. He has also figured out what they will do when connected, and so isn't surprised to hear a recorded message from Jason.

Beere's notes had been planted for the Avengers to find. The quest for the 3 bombs was just to distract them from looking for the 4th detonator bomb. He claims that it is now too late to find and disarm that detonator.

But Iron Man has worked out where the 4th bomb is - it's inside Jason Beere, attached to his heart. He checks and finds this is true, but can't figure a way to remove it without setting it off.

However he has a plan. He puts Beere in a cryogenic chamber. The extreme cold will slow his heartbeat down a lot. And the chestplate will keep it going for longer. So now Tony Stark will have years to figure out what to do about the bomb.

Panels sample #5

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Sal Buscema
Dave Hunt
Ken Klaczak
Dave Cockrum (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
Layouts: Sal Buscema. Letterer: John Costanza.
Editor: Marv Wolfman.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Jason Beere.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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