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Avengers #263: Review

Jan 1986
Roger Stern, Tom Palmer

Story Name:

“What Lurks Below?”

Review & Comments

5 stars

Avengers #263 Review by (August 19, 2023)
Comments: Issue bannered “It begins here! X-Factor.” First appearance of FBI Agent Derek Freeman who will appear in a few more Avengers and Captain America issues. The Avengers previously fought the Enclave in AVENGERS ANNUAL #12; they are next seen in QUASAR #57. Final appearance of the Melter; at this time, Scourge of the Underworld was making cameo appearances in various Marvel titles, killing bad guys until he died in CAPTAIN AMERICA #320. The letters page includes one by future GEEKS OF DOOM contributor T.E. Pouncey.

Review: That last page must have been a big surprise back in the day when heroes dying and/or returning was not an annual event to excite interest. But before that climactic reveal we have a pretty cool issue, detailing the discovery of the mystery cocoon with Adam Warlock as a red herring. The mystery works very well with some character bits added, notably the awkwardness of integrating the Sub-Mariner into the Avengers. And the story continues in FANTASTIC FOUR #286 which will be a milestone in the lives of Jean Grey and the X-Men.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #263 Synopsis by T Vernon
The three members of the Enclave (Maris Morlak, Carlo Zota, Wladyslav Shinski) are in a chartered plane at JFK Airport; they see police and FBI vehicles heading their way and Zota, the pilot, tries to take off. Swerving to miss a 747 causes the plane to crash into Jamaica Bay. FBI Agent Derek Freeman takes control, just as a massive explosion rocks the site of the underwater crash….

The Avengers are clashing with their government liaison, Ray Sikorsky who questions the choice of Namor the Sub-Mariner for the team. Captain America vouches for Namor as the son of an American citizen and a defender of the USA during World War 2; Jan reminds Sikorsky that the National Security Council has no say in Avengers membership and assures him it will be all right. Black Knight is impressed with Jan’s leadership qualities….

Elsewhere in Avengers Mansion, Hercules and Captain Marvel are showing Namor around; he takes a liking to Herc’s room and claims it for his own. Herc objects. CM doesn’t want to break up another fight between the two (as she did last issue) so she turns into light and shoots out of a window. While pondering Namor and his suitability for the team, she sees an explosion in Jamaica Bay and immediately shows up at the site. Agent Freeman tells her that the three Enclave members have been rescued and are being taken to the hospital. A pair of divers sent down to investigate are suddenly hurled out of the water and describe a strange energy source with a voice. CM dives in and identifies the source of the radiation as a large cocoon. She approaches and hears a voice telling her to keep away; the cocoon repels her, forcing her back to human form so Monica must surface as quickly as possible before she drowns….

At his secret hideout, Melter is spying on Avengers Mansion via a secret camera. As he explains his scheme to his henchman Keegan, he discovers the real Keegan locked in a closet. Fake Keegan shoots Melter and says, “Justice is served,” the cry of the Scourge of the Underworld….

The rest of the team arrives at the crash site, Subby exciting some commentary among the onlookers. CM describes the cocoon and Cap recognizes it as something the Enclave has created before and gives her (and the readers) a summary of Him (Adam Warlock) and Her. Defying orders, Namor dives into the water and is almost immediately hurled back out. Wasp scolds him, backed up by Cap and Namor is humbled. Captain Marvel is dispatched to interview the Enclave members at the hospital to see what she can learn. The others don appropriate gear to go down and see the cocoon. The thing shoots out bright yellow lights that even immobilize Hercules along with Cap and Wasp; Black Knight’s Ebony Sword is powerless against it….

At the hospital, a groggy Wladyslav Shinski tells CM that the cocoon wasn’t theirs as they had learned their lesson about messing around with such things; she returns to the group with this report….

The Avengers back off but Hercules pushes ahead, forcing the cocoon backwards and they realize from the amount of silt it was buried in that it cannot have come from the plane but must have been there for years. The cocoon asks to be left alone and blasts Herc. Wasp realizes it has been acting in self-defense and approaches gently, promising to help. The rough outer coating, which turns out to have been an old mattress, is peeled away revealing a smooth metallic capsule. They take it back to the Mansion and try to puzzle out what’s inside. They are called back to the crash site in case there are more surprises underwater. Left alone, the capsule becomes transparent, revealing the sleeping figure of Jean Grey….

Story continues in FANTASTIC FOUR #286.

Tom Palmer
Tom Palmer
Christie Scheele
John Buscema (Cover Penciler)
Tom Palmer (Cover Inker)
Christie Scheele (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: John Buscema. Letterer: Jim Novak.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Jim Shooter.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Knight
Black Knight

(Dane Whitman)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel

(Monica Rambeau)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Enclave, Melter (Bruno Horgan), Scourge (Scourge of the Underworld).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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