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Avengers #244: Review

Jun 1984
Roger Stern, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

“And the Rocket’s Red Glare!”

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #244 Review by (March 3, 2023)
Comments: Cover title: The Mighty Avengers, on issues #241-255. Part one of two parts. Story title is a phrase from “The Star-Spangled Banner,” national anthem of the United States. The Dire Wraiths are the alien villains of the ROM SPACEKNIGHT series, a Marvel tie-in to a line of action figures sold by Parker Brothers. This issue takes place after ROM #54-55. The Rocketeers first appeared in DAREDEVIL #131 (which also introduced Bullseye) and were hosts of Dire Wraiths in ROM #22. Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) is nicknamed “CM” as of this issue; it’s a good thing as the team having Cap A and Cap M was a bit confusing. Pencils by Al Milgrom and Carmine Infantino. The letters page includes one by British comics creator Howard W. Stangroom a/k/a Will Morgan…and one by David Letterman, reacting to issue #239.

Review: Yes, the Dire Wraiths are just a variation on the Skrulls but not enough to ruin an exciting story of alien sabotage and Avengers heroism. This issue sets up the situation and manages to simplify the Rom/Dire Wraiths background; everyone has more to do in the second half of the epic. Even Starfox looks cool for a change.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #244 Synopsis by T Vernon
On Florida’s Banana River not far from the Kennedy Space Center, a small pleasure craft hides the presence of the Avengers on an undercover mission. Captain Marvel reports back from her quick reconnaissance of the area. She and Captain America, piloting the craft go below for a strategy session called by Avengers chairman Vision. Wasp, Scarlet Witch, and Starfox are already in place. Vision explains that the Center has had a run of accidents which may be sabotage by an alien menace called the Dire Wraiths. At this point, an explosion is heard at the Center. The heroes race to the scene to find the test pad’s gantries have been blown up—and then a second explosion topples a huge booster rocket; Captain Marvel, Starfox, and Vision catch the booster to keep it from smashing on the ground and they hurl it into the ocean where it explodes safely. Meanwhile, Cap, Wasp, and Scarlet Witch have overpowered the band of saboteurs, called the Rocketeers. Then an enemy fills the area with the mists of the Dark Nebula, which overcomes the heroes, even Vision but not the Rocketeers who make their getaway. The Avengers’ new leader feels his first mission has been a failure….

At the Los Angeles International Airport, Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse arrive and surprise Bill Foster, sent to meet them but who was expecting Hawkeye and Mockingbird in costume….

The Avengers meet with the Space Center’s commander, General William Bridges, and top scientist Dr. Woodrow Cather; they are briefed on the existence of the Dire Wraiths, how they kill by tongue, feed on their victims’ brains, and then take their places. The majority of Wraiths use a power celled sorcery and recently tried to destroy a SHIELD Helicarrier (ROM #53) while a smaller group use science. Dr. Cather wants his ion-drive project protected but General Bridges favors guarding the Space Shuttles and intends to call in outside troops. Vision becomes emotional and rejects that plan, suggesting the Avengers can handle the mission themselves….

Quicksilver, teleported by Lockjaw, arrives in his home country of Transia and heads to a certain cabin and, to his horror, finds the place has been destroyed….

The Rocketeers, Dire Wraiths in disguise, meet with their mysterious leader who tells them that he did not send the dark mist, suggesting that the “sisterhood” is aware of them. He orders them to continue their mission, giving them wristwatches containing a device that will jam the humans’ detection equipment….

At the base, the Avengers are keeping the entire Center under surveillance. The villains easily slip past the detection devices but not the Vision’s; he can see them plainly. The Avengers go after them and nab them easily. Wanda casts a spell which forces the captive Rocketeers to revert to their true alien forms. Dr. Cather tells the soldiers he has to retrieve some secret tech from the ion-drive rocket but it turns out he is also a Dire Wraith, plotting to use the rocket to escape. When the rocket takes off, the Wraiths tell Cap that the “ion-drive” was a version of their alien star-drive, fabricated from Earth technology, and the red exhaust indicates that the drive is unstable and could explode at any moment. And Wasp, who was guarding the rocket, is trapped aboard….

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Christie Scheele
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jim Novak.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Jim Shooter.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Bill Foster, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Dire Wraiths, Lockjaw.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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