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Avengers #391: Review

Oct 1995
Bob Harras, Mike Deodato Jr.

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Story Name:

Shadows of the Past

Review & Comments

3 stars

Avengers #391 Review by (April 11, 2012)
These Comment blocks are in reverse order.

The epilogue Age of Innocence starts pretty quickly after Av#395, but probably includes an indefinite amount of elapsed time. On that basis FW#21-22 probably happens during that period.

The major linked set is Av#392 to Av#395. Av#392 claims to be the day after The Crossing. Also Vision answers Swordsman's call for help from Av#391. But FW#17 implies that the discovery in Av#392 of Marilla and Yellowjacket's murder has only just happened. I have chosen (in line with all the lists) to lump Av#392 with FW#17. This allows more time for Stark to arrange to seal off the mansion, and combines his 2 visits in Av#392 and IM#321. (Of course it means his promise this issue to come to New York immediately may not have been honoured.) It also allows Luna's message in IM#320 to be a warning of Malachi and Tobias's arrival in Av#392. Unfortunately it means I have to separate the Swordsman part of Av#391 from the rest of the issue and delay it to just before Av#392 (as the other lists implicitly do). I will also take the opportunity to move Wasp's financial discovery in Av#391 nearer to IM#322, where she confronts Stark about it. IM#321 says The Crossing happened the previous week. Iron Man is at Avengers mansion in Av#392 and IM#321. In IM#321 Stark sets up a meeting with Force Works for the following day, which happens in FW#17. At this point I have to ignore a caption comment in FW#17, and a statement in FW#18, that Moonraker's arrival in FW#16 was 'only yesterday'. The sequence of the issues from FW#17 to IM#323 can be determined by the activities of Hawkeye. No other characters' chronologies contradict it. Iron Man continues the trail from IM#323 to WM#22. At this point the sequence splits into 2 legs. Force Works and War Machine go down FW#20 and WM#23. Avengers and Iron Man take IM#324, Av#394, Avengers: Timeslide, IM#325 and Av#395. The only constraint between the 2 is that the FW/WM leg has to finish before Av#395.

The prologue in Avengers #390 can occur any time before the main action. In Iron Man #319 Tony Stark arranges the gathering in The Crossing. He says this is to be the next day, but we have to leave room for Force Works #15 and War Machine #18-19. FW#15 has to be after IM#319 because IM#319 includes Century, and he leaves for space in FW#15. WM#18-19 include Hawkeye, who is on his way to the gathering. FW#15 could happen simultaneously with WM#18-19. The issues all also contain elements which are setups for the crossover. The first linked set of issues is Avengers: The Crossing, Force Works #16 and Avengers #391. In FW#16 Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and U.S.Agent fly back to L.A. from the party. In Av#391 Gilgamesh dies later in the night of the party, and the Avengers contact Iron Man. IM#320 stands alone, and says The Crossing happened earlier in the week.

I have put the Crossing issues in the following order (with some overlap between issues):- Av#390/IM#319/FW#15/WM#18+WM#19/Av:The_Crossing+FW#16+Av#391/IM#320/Av#392+IM#321+FW#17+WM#20+IM#322+FW#18+WM#21+IM#323+Av#393+FW#19+WM#22+IM#324+FW#20+Av#394+Av:Timeslide+WM#23+IM#325+Av#395/Age_of_Innocence:The_Rebirth_of_Iron Man/FW#21+FW#22. My order disagrees with some others I can find (the description in the Official Index to the Marvel Universe #9, the Marvel Database at and Eric J. Moreels list within I have departed further from the publication order of comics. I have based my order on comments inside the issues and the logical connection between events. I have ignored statements in the 'next issue' boxes, and the order of appearances specified in the Official Index to the Marvel Universe, because these seem to adhere too slavishly to publication order. As usual, at some points I had to make decisions to resolve conflicting information.

Mantis supposedly hates the Avengers for being involved in the Celestial Madonna story, which eventually wound up in West Coast Avengers #39 with the Cotati keeping her son the Celestial Messiah from her. She particularly hates Vision and Scarlet Witch because Vision chose Scarlet Witch over her, in the lead-up to their marriage in Giant-Size Avengers #4. The 'elder' is a Priest of Pama, who are based in the temple of Agaphaur and are intimately connected with the history of Mantis. But like Tuc he is really another of Immortus's Space Phantoms. In Iron Man #320 we will see that the temple has vanished. This issue doesn't lead directly into #392, for reasons explained in below. Instead the next issue of the crossover is Iron Man #320. I have included all the Crossing crossover issues in the Iron Man database. Iron Man is pivotal to the crossover, and does appear in nearly all the issues, even if only in flashback. He isn't in Avengers #390 & #394, Force Works #22 and War Machine #18, #19 and #23, and only appears as holograms in Force Works #20 and #21, but I have included them for completeness.

It seems generally accepted that Neut isn't a Space Phantom. But I find a problem with this, similar to the above. He claims to have served Kang for a long time, and in Iron Man #322 to have trained Iron Man in combat (in the periods when Stark was under Kang/Mantis's control). If 'Kang' and 'Mantis' claim to be married, and to have 2 grown (Space Phantom) sons, then to fool Neut (and others of Kang's retinue he knew) they would have to have carried out the deception for years. (Although they could have artificially aged the twins.) It is easier to assume that Neut is a Space Phantom, as I suggested for Gilgamesh. All the years of training are just implanted memories. This doesn't work for Iron Man's training. But the retcon in Avengers Forever ignores this, and says that Iron Man has only been corrupted since the Galactic Storm crossover, rather than since before Iron Man #52 as suggested in Iron Man #321.

This issue follows immediately from Avengers: The Crossing. Who has Gilgamesh trained? 'He' the lord is Kang, 'she' the lady is Mantis. Mantis was already a martial artist, and Kang presumably learned all the arts of war long ago. Most likely he trained their sons Malachi and Tobias, and Kang's Anachronauts. Which clashes with the statement in Avengers: The Crossing that 'she' (Mantis) trained the twins. The replacement of Kang, etc by Immortus and Space Phantoms as described in Avengers Forever raises a problem with Gilgamesh. Why should Immortus employ him to train disguised Space Phantoms. And more importantly how long did this training take? Admittedly Avengers Forever #8 tells us that Immortus had his Phantoms 'hypnotised' to live their roles. But surely he doesn't need to have them live through a large amount of previous life to be trained in. This suggests to me the possibility that this Gilgamesh is a Phantom too. It sidesteps the unanswered question of why an extremely long-lived Eternal should be dying of old age. It also means the real Gilgamesh doesn't die here, freeing him up for future use.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #391 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This part of the Crossing crossover continues from FORCE WORKS #16.

The guests have all gone home after the party in Avengers: The Crossing. The current Avengers (Black Widow, Crystal, Deathcry, Giant-Man, Hercules, Quicksilver and Vision) are trying unsuccessfully to cure near-immortal Eternal Gilgamesh, dying of old age. He apologises to them for training a mysterious 'him' and his family.

They can't find Marilla, Inhuman nanny to Crystal and Quicksilver's daughter Luna. Vision finds some traces of a body that has been completely incinerated. Giant-Man finds Marilla's DNA in there, but also the DNA of Yellowjacket (Rita DeMara), both of whom were secretly murdered by Iron Man in the Crossing 1-shot.

A being called Neut finishes off Gilgamesh. Before dying, Gilgamesh tells Crystal that 'she' and her sons hate the Avengers. Neut claims to work for the family and their lord and lady. He indicates that Vision and Scarlet Witch are particularly hated. Neut then vanishes through the door in the Avengers basement that has been resisting Avengers' attempts to open it since Avengers #382.

Tony Stark promises to return immediately to help from Los Angeles, where he went in Force Works #16. Luna is worried about the 'bad man'. Crystal thinks she means Neut, but Luna means Stark because she saw Iron Man kill Yellowjacket. The Avengers temporarily abandon their mansion.

Meanwhile Swordsman (Philip Javert) has met Tuc again in the woods near Tony Stark's country house, where he popped up last issue with other cryptic comments. This time he is with an 'elder', who tells Swordsman to ask the Avengers "Who mourns for Agaphaur?"

Meanwhile, also, Janet Van Dyne's lawyer tells her who is behind her recent financial problems. But we don't find out until Iron Man #322 that it is Tony Stark.

The Crossing continues in IRON MAN #320.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Mike Deodato Jr.
Tom Palmer
Tom Palmer
Mike Deodato Jr. (Cover Penciler)
Mike Deodato Jr. (Cover Inker)
Plot: . Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Ralph Macchio.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Pietro Maximoff)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Deathcry (Sharra Neramani), Giant-Man (Scott Lang), Luna, Magdalene, Neut, Swordsman (Philip Javert), Tuc.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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