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Avengers #12: Review

Jan 1999
Kurt Busiek, George Perez

Story Name:

Old entanglements

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #12 Review by (November 19, 2019)
This is a double-sized (1 year) anniversary issue.

Bob Wiacek helps ink it again.

The Thunderbolts started their series when the Avengers disappeared at the end of the Onslaught event. Under Baron Zemo they were villains pretending to be heroes. But when teenage real heroine Jolt joined them in #4 they had to maintain their cover even in their base. By the time the Avengers returned from Heroes Reborn most of the team had got to quite like being heroes. So when Zemo outed them in #10-12 all but Techno/Fixer helped the Avengers defeat him. The 'heroes' went on the run until in #20-21 Hawkeye got the blessing of the Commission On Superhuman Activities to lead them towards redemption, and he was seen with them on the news. In #22 Hercules destroyed their little HQ so that's why they're seeking a new 1 here. And their Wizard #0 ended with the Avengers taking note of the publicity and Clint Barton's involvement.

Hawkeye wasn't in the Iron Man/Captain America 1998 Annual, but in there IM made everyone in the world (who knew) forget that he is Tony Stark. But at the end he regretted that decision and started telling his friends the secret and confessing what he'd done to them. Hawkeye will have been on that list.

Abner Jenkins as Beetle murdered a scientist in Deadly Foes Of Spider-Man #3. He agreed with Hawkeye in TB#22 to turn himself in to serve time for it.
Mach-1's suit has been malfunctioning since they split from Zemo and he no longer has access to repair facilities.

Hawkeye's atomic steed used to be ridden by the Avenger Black Knight, but the Avengers had it only because Beast found it on Mount Wundergore in #187. These atomic steeds were used by High Evolutionary's Knights Of Wundagore.

Tony Stark in his 'hospital' bed places this tale within Iron Man #11 where he's being looked after by Dr Jane Foster in his Seattle home after injuries incurred fighting Mandarin in his #10. Before next issue he will be cured in IM#13.

Vision got his emotions back in Avengers Spotlight #40 memories but along with someone else's brain patterns memories. However his 1st solo mini-series revealed that he was also gradually getting his original Simon Williams brain patterns back, presumably along with his old memories.

This potential base is obviously gone but the Thunderbolts will get a new home in their next issue #23 in Mount Charteris, the original home of the X-Men enemies Factor Three. But before then Hawkeye will cameo with the rest of the Avengers in the Ant-Man's Big Christmas 1-shot.

Firebird will be back in #27.

Captain America won't be in next issue because he'll be busy in the Dead Reckoning arc in Deadpool #23-25. But before that in his own #13 Steve Rogers will get political while his shield is recovered from the ocean but disintegrates.
Iron Man as mentioned above will return to his #11-13 but he'll still be inactive in our #13 while he develops a new armour that won't kill him. Henry Pym will consult on his predicament in IM#12.
Meanwhile Firestar and Justice (alongside other New Warriors) with Vision and many others will pop in to Wolverine #134 before next issue. And Wonder Man gets timejacked in Avengers Forever #11.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #12 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Kurt Busiek's favourite news anchor is here again to report on the Thunderbolts, the heroes who were exposed as Masters Of Evil in disguise but then turned against their leader. Most of them have since been seen battling a robot Hulk (their #16), Graviton (#17) and new Masters Of Evil (#18-20). And now Hawkeye has been seen rescuing 2 of them from imminent arrest (#21).

The Avengers are worried about this, wondering if Clint Barton is acting under his free will. The T-Bolts mind-controlled the Avengers before (in TB#11-12, but that was Baron Zemo). No-one's heard from Hawk since Iron Man contacted him (just after the IM/Captain America 1998 Annual), and the locator chip on his Avengers communicard has been switched off. Wanda Maximoff points out that 'Bolts helped our team defeat Zemo in TB#12.

Henry Pym interrupts to call them down to his lab where he introduces them to the repaired Vision (who's been reduced to a hologram since Morgan Le Fay cut him in half in #3). Vizh accepts their congratulations but merely points out that it is good timing with the team missing the power of Thor (not a regular since #8) and Iron Man (severely injured since his #10 before our #10). Wonder Man (just back from the dead last issue) is overjoyed to get his brother back (they consider themselves that because V's brain patterns are based on those of Simon Williams), and suggests that they and Wanda go out on the town to catch up. But then Simon realises Vizh might find it awkward because he and Wanda are now an item but V and Wanda used to be married. Vision brushes it off but Wanda can tell something is off.

Justice follows Captain America to the combat simulation room to confess his worries about screwing up now he's joined the team of his idols. Cap says it's only natural until he gets used to them as teammates not celebrities. Steve Rogers' reminiscence about his nerves when meeting FDR for the 1st time doesn't help. Vance Astrovik is glad when the combat program starts.

Hank takes Firestar off to discuss her health concerns about using her microwave power. A scan confirms what his previous tests had suggested. Most mutants are immune to their own powers but Angelica Jones' immunity hasn't kicked in. He's designed a bio-circuitry suit to be worn under her costume which will counter the microwave effects on her cells until her immunity builds up. He reckons she won't have to wear it for more than 6 months. Angel is delirious because she thought she had a life sentence. Now she's glad Vance persuaded her to join the Avengers with him.

Simon is now enthusing about the 3 of them going to see a Broadway show. He nips off to look up what's on that any of his old Hollywood friends are in. Wanda tries to probe Vision's real feelings but he continues to insist that his feelings for her were wiped out when he was rebuilt from scratch (way back in West Coast Avengers #45). He says Simon obviously makes her as happy as she was on the beaches of Rurutu. But Wanda detects emotion in the way he refers to their honeymoon island.

An alarm interrupts everyone and Henry Pym tells them that the computers have located Hawkeye. Jarvis is away visiting his ward Lupe at Empire State U so Hank will stay behind on monitor duty.  The others rush to a quinjet and Cap says he recognises the location in the Arizona mountains as the site of a WCA battle (when Hawkeye was in charge) with a computer called Dominus.

Hawkeye has brought the Thunderbolts to Dominus' old base which he suggests they could use as their new home (after Hercules (in their #22) smashed the cabin they were using as their temporary HQ). At 1st sight it's just a very deep metal-lined hole in the ground, but Clint says behind this central core there must be more.

Nobody on the team has heard of Dominus so Barton rehearses the history:- The original X-Men #9,20-21 featured an alien villain Lucifer, an Arcane (or Quist), who was sent to Earth to mind-control us. He failed so his bosses banished him to a nameless dimension, but from which he was able to take over humans - 1 in Iron Man #20 and 2 more in Captain America & Falcon #177-178 (in 1 of those periods when Steve Rogers had quit). The Hawkeye-led West Coast Avengers got involved in their #17,21,24 when the computer Dominus which Lucifer left-behind carried on with the program. It usually worked by taking over a human, but physically the super-computer occupied this now-empty shaft, and when the WCA defeated it Dominus turned out to be a spaceship which took off for deep space leaving the hole behind.

Because Lucifer lived here and Dominus had some super-powered minions Clint figures there must be living accommodations in the base, and comms and other equipment too. So he blasts a hole in the wall with an arrow and suggests the others find ways in to other parts of the complex. They should investigate and report their findings. Moonstone phases into the base, as usual looking for ways to turn the situation to her own advantage. Atlas rips a hole in the wall while looking out for a trap. Mach-1 blasts open *his* hole determined to seize the promised redemption, while Songbird isn't so sure she trusts Hawkeye yet as she uses a sonic wrecking ball. Jolt uses her hyperkinetic punch to give *her* a way in as she tells herself Hawkeye must be right because he's an Avenger.

They do indeed find plentiful quarters and equipment, all surprisingly in perfect condition. The power is on and there's even food in freezers. Hawkeye's confidence is boosted, but Songbird doesn't like being confined and makes a dash for the open shaft ...

... where she finds the Avengers in attendance. Cap tells her to surrender and take them to Hawkeye. Melissa Gold thinks Barton led them into a trap and hits them with solid sound before radioing the situation to her team. But then Vision takes her out with his intangible arm through the body trick.

Giant-size Atlas bursts up through the ground while Moonstone zaps Vision. Wonder Man challenges his 'ionic imitator'. (Erik Josten was given (in #21 of the original run) the same ionic powers as Simon Williams, and then in Iron Man Annual #7 he added the power to grow using Pym Particles.) WM socks him in the jaw but is then deflected away by a sonic shield from recovered Songbird. The battle continues with Mach-1 and Jolt joining in. Cap is astonished by their foes' Avengers-level teamwork.

Scarlet Witch keeps out of the conflict as the others trade blows and insults. She can't sense any mind-control like with the Squadron Supreme in #6. But neither can she detect any evil intentions from their opponents, who after all *did* help stop Baron Zemo in their #11-12. She decides a hex to shoot water up from an underground river will douse everyone's ardour for fighting. But an arrow from Hawkeye distracts her attention (he didn't know what she was planning). He tells her he's OK and he was only waiting to see how his new team did against his old 1. But now he and Wanda go break up the fun.

The fighting stops but there's still a lot of simmering anger which insensitive Clint Barton doesn't notice as he explains how the Thunderbolts want to reform and he's leading them towards redemption. He reminds Cap how he took in criminals Clint, Wanda and her brother Quicksilver in original #16 and trained them. Steve Rogers reminds him that *they* weren't hardened criminals and murderers like this lot. Clint fires back that the only murderer is Mach-1 and he's agreed to turn himself in for justice. Everyone's now calmed down, and Wonder Man and Moonstone even share a joking bet that Hawkeye will keep arguing even though Cap's already conceded.

But then the peace and love is interrupted by a real foe emerging from the ground even larger than Atlas. Moonstone saves falling Wanda as the robotic newcomer announces himself as Dominex. It claims to have lain dormant since Dominus left but now their battle has woken it up. Because Earth successfully repulsed takeover by Dominus and the Arcane it must now be destroyed! And Dominex puts all the heroes to sleep with somni-rays so they can't interfere.

Later Captain America is awoken by local heroine Firebird, who was with the WCA when they fought Dominus and now came here because heard about Dominex on the news. The other Avengers wake up to find the whole metal base gone, and also the Thunderbolts. (Dominex obviously created his body out of the base.) Firebird tells them the giant robot has been marching west towards the Pacific and the T-Bolts are chasing it. Cap summons their quinjet to go after them.

Meanwhile the US Air Force is attacking Dominex with little effect. They pull back when Hawkeye arrives on his 'atomic steed', thinking that he's a herald of the Avengers' big guns who will handle it. But the 'Bolts don't fare any better because the robot is protected by an energy-field. We learn that Jolt's enhanced metabolism protected her form the somni-rays and she woke the rest of her team. Hawkeye then decided *not* to wake the Avengers so his team could prove their capability - which he's now beginning to regret.

But Clint pulls himself together and wonders if the robot is vulnerable from the *inside*. He tells Moonstone to phase in and see if she can let the others in too. Karla Sofen's not too happy about playing lone hero but she obeys. And soon the team see a hatchway blown out and they dive in. But Dominex closes the hole with his energy field behind them.

The robot foe tells them he won't bother with somni-rays again because they obviously didn't work, but they can't stop him from his task. He's heading to the Murray fracture zone in the Pacific Ocean where he intends to explode with such force that he'll unleash tidal waves and a 'nuclear' winter that will destroy all life.

On the way to join the fight the Avengers contact Henry Pym back in the New York Mansion and Tony Stark in his hospital bed in Seattle and bring them up to speed. Bonita Juarez exchanges greetings with Hank - they got close when Firebird was with the WCA. Wanda chooses the lull to ask Vision outright if he has all his old memories and emotions back. And she suspects that it's not just a side-effect of Heroes Reborn. Vizh admits that he's had them for a long time and he lied to her about it for her own good. He believed that their marriage had put her through too much trauma, including discovering that their 'children' were magic fictions. And now she has Simon who will be good for her.

It's saved by the bell time again as the quinjet is closing on Dominex. Firebird, Firestar, Justice, Vision and Wonder Man fly out to attack but they have as little effect as the T-Bolts did. Even Vision can't phase through the energy shield which has a varying frequency, and its vibrations are affecting circuits in Vizh and the jet. (I wonder if Dominex upgraded it since Moonstone succeeded in breaking in?) The only result is some turbulence inside where the 'Bolts are smashing stuff - but the robot keeps self-repairing.

They spot the quinjet outside and Hawkeye gets in touch via Avengers communicard with Cap and Wanda still inside the vehicle to tell them the robot's plan and ask for ideas. Firebird chimes in on the shared frequency and suggests Dominus would have some way of shutting Dominex down. This gives Clint an idea. He gets Moonstone to use her morphing costume to imitate Dominus possessing a female human. She tries claiming that the Arcane still want to rule Earth so they don't want it destroyed. This confuses the robot but at least it makes him pause.

Pym and Stark ask for data about the interior of the robot. Hawkeye gets Mach-1 to use his armour to scan the insides and transmit the results. Abner Jenkins reminds Barton that his suit has been malfunctioning lately and also the energy field is making their comms spotty so the data might not get through well enough. Indeed the transmission does get garbled until Vision remote-links to the quinjet's computer and enhances the reception. But the vibratory energy field is now starting to shake his internals apart. He hangs on and at last the scientist's get a clear view of the robot's insides.

The robot turns out to be arranged basically as the base was, and they spot what they think is the command module. Destroy that and Dominex shuts down. But they have a moment of doubt about passing this info back to the Thunderbolts because they *could* use the command module to take control of the robot and threaten the world themselves. But it's their only chance so the Avengers tell the T-Bolts where to go. The 2nd team do a combined assault and destroy the module. And Dominex falls over inert.

Later Cap says the Thunderbolts are still officially on the wanted list, but the Avengers will let them go. However if they put a foot wrong the A-team will take them down, including Hawkeye. Clint says they can *try*! But to absolve the Avengers from any blame if it *does* go wrong he breaks his communicard and hands the pieces to Cap. Justice can't believe someone would quit the Avengers to work with villains! Firestar sympathetically remembers being on the wrong side herself (when she was 1 of the Hellions working for Emma Frost in her Hellfire Club days).

George Perez
Al Vey
Tom Smith
George Perez (Cover Penciler)
George Perez (Cover Inker)
Tom Smith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Karla Sofen)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

Plus: Atlas, Firebird, Firestar (Angel Jones), Henry Pym, Jolt, Justice (Vance Astrovik), Mach-1 (Abner Jenkins), Songbird.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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