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Avengers #208: Review

Jun 1981
Bob Budiansky, Gene Colan

Story Name:

Eve of destruction

Review & Comments

Rating:
3.5 stars

Avengers #208 Review by (July 27, 2015)
The new characters in this 2-part story (Shadow Lord, Berserker and Rachel Palmer) will never be seen again. After this issue Beast cameos in Uncanny X-Men #145. Then he joins with Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Vision (and fellow Avenger Thor) in Fantastic Four #230 to help the FF against the Ebon Seeker (an event which has a prequel in the recently published Operation SIN mini-series). Cap then has 2 single-issue adventures of his own in his #258-259, 1st against Blockbuster, then against Dr Octopus. But Beast and Jarvis cameo in the 2nd. The popular Beast gets another cameo in Dazzler #5, then it's time for #209. I won't be synopsising next issue because none of our main guys are in it. It's a story centred around Beast, with help from Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wonder Man. Hank McCoy has met up with his old girlfriend Vera Cantor. But a Skrull villain poisons her and sends the 4 Avengers to retrieve the fragments of the Resurrection Stone, with which he promises to revive her. But Beast realises the Stone is too dangerous to give to the Skrull, and he destroys it condemning Vera. However Mr Fantastic puts her in suspended animation pending a cure. This will cause him to leave the team in #211 and join the Defenders to get Vera cured. While this is going on Cap fights another Spidey villain Scorpion (with Spider-Man) in Marvel Team-Up #106, and has another 1-issue story in prison in CA#260. Then the gang (including Jarvis and Jocasta but without Wasp) reconvene for Annual #10. Wasp hasn't been in any of these intervening stories and will next be seen in #210.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #208 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue an immortal warrior called the Berserker was revived after being buried in the lava of the Vesuvius eruption for 2000 years. Now his strangely hi-tech armour and weapons allow him to wade through the Italian armed forces.

On a Mediterranean island the Avengers (Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp and Wonder Man plus Jocasta) stand over the dying Shadow Lord. We see a replay of the end of last issue as he gives Rachel Palmer (PR flack on Wonder Man's latest film) his jewelled necklace with the words "the gates ... open ...darkness".

After he dies Rachel explains to the Avengers what Shadow Lord told her of his origin (and for the reader recaps last issue's fight). His ancient people, the Earth Lords who had entombed the Berserker, gave SL all their powers over natural forces. He used this to take their city into the Shadow World, to await alone the return of the Berserker. Sensing this event last issue he brought the city back to Earth. But the Avengers saw him as a threat and attacked. Working out that the city was the source of his power they destroyed it. But this also killed SL. Now it is up to them to stop the Berserker.

The Avengers fashion a tomb for the Shadow Lord before Rachel tells them what she knows of the Berserker (we didn't hear this part of the story last time). He was a caveman who stumbled into a cave with green-glowing walls. The radiation didn't kill him as it had done to others, but made him an immortal superman. Filled with a berserker rage he started by wiping out an enemy tribe, and continued on his warlike way for millennia. As civilisations arose he hired out as a mercenary and aided the rise of empires. (Somehow) alien races heard of him and sought his services. In return they gave him his fabulous armour and weapons with which he returned to Earth.

As we learned last time the Earth Lords worried about what damage he could cause now when he joined the Roman Empire. They used their power over natural forces to try to kill him, and eventually buried him in lava when they caused Mt Vesuvius to erupt. Horrified by the deaths they'd caused when the lava engulfed Pompeii, the Earth Lords gave up their powers, handing them over to the chosen Shadow Lord to guard against the Berserker's return.

The Avengers leave by quinjet as the island sinks into the sea. Rachel sees the evidence of the scoop that would make her journalistic reputation disappear. And now the heroes want her to sit out the upcoming battle. Wonder Man tries to console her by commenting that leaving the film set on Avengers business has probably ruined his already shaky acting career. (In confirmation back at Avengers Mansion Jarvis gets a telegram telling Simon he's fired from the job and his agent has dropped him.) Rachel actually gets consolation by asking Wondy for a date.

But the Avengers don't have time to drop Rachel off because they see the swathe of destruction left by the Berserker, and dive to the attack. The villain is blasting a big hole in the ground with his spear, so Beast and Iron Man knock him into it. This turns out to be another mistake as the immortal warrior returns to the surface with the chariot he was digging for, drawn by 2 mechanical horses.

The chariot spews a flame that isn't hot. But when he surrounds the team with it, it forms a forcefield that encloses them, and starts to consume all the oxygen within. The Golden Avenger's armour protects him, and he ejects 1 of his oxygen cylinders to share amongst his teammates until the fire dies after it's used up all the other oxygen.

In the interim the Berserker abducted Rachel, destroyed a cathedral and uncovered a city that a Roman emperor built for him. He makes her change into the attire of ancient Rome, and recognises the necklace Shadow Lord gave her. Learning that all the Earth Lords are gone the triumphant villain takes the necklace for himself.

Then the Avengers arrive and the fight resumes. During the fight an incident with some keys reminds Wonder Man that Shadow Lord used the words 'gate' and 'open' in his dying gasps as he gave Rachel the necklace. He figures that the 2 large jewels on the necklace might be a key that will reopen the Shadow World where SL lived these 2 millenia. He tries to fit them together but nothing happens. And the Berserker defeats the Avengers 1 by 1.

But just as he is about to crush the tiny Wasp beneath his boot, Wondy revives and engages him in hand-to-hand combat. However Berserker's gauntlets sap Simon's strength, increasing the villain's own. With the last of his might WM breaks free and connects the jewels again. This time a gateway opens, and Berserker is pulled into it. Wasp flies up and blasts the jewels to pieces, ensuring that he won't be able to use them to return.

When it's all over Simon Williams explains that he remembered that the Shadow Lord entered our dimension at sunrise. He guessed from SL's other dying word 'darkness' that the gate could next only be opened at sunset. So he used his acting skills to pretend to be KO'd by the Berserker earlier, and waited for his moment to strike.


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Gene Colan
Dan Green
Roger Slifer
Gene Colan (Cover Penciler)
Bob Wiacek (Cover Inker)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)