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Avengers #16: Review

May 1999
Jerry Ordway, Jerry Ordway

Story Name:

Mistaken Identity

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #16 Review by (January 7, 2020)
Jerry Ordway is the guest writer/penciller for this 3-issue story arc.

As I mentioned last issue there's a long gap after #15 which doesn't fit with the Wrecking Crew teleporting from last issue to the beginning of this 1. Maybe it's the tachyon blast that they are hit with in this issue that causes a time-jump, because tachyons sort-of suggest time-travel. More prosaically the opening scen could happen much earlier, and the Crew take a while to get from New York (where their boss's base is) to New Orleans. And also maybe their scene last issue happened later, some days after the Avengers were notified of their escape from jail.
But none of this explains why Ultron waits until (#0 and) #19 to implement his plan from last issue.

The boss villain really is after Ms Marvel but because he's been 'switched off' for years he doesn't know she's gone through name/power/costume changes to Binary and then Warbird in the meantime.
Meanwhile Wrecker has mixed up Ms Marvel and Captain Marvel because they've both been Avengers, not at the same time. And CM has changed her name to Photon because The original CM's son Genis-Vell has staked his claim to his father's title.

Next issue we'll learn that the robot villain is the Doomsday Man, an old foe of Carol Danvers as Ms Marvel.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #16 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue the Wrecking Crew were teleported away from their successful bank robbery. It's the armoured being who we understand freed them from jail and boosted their flagging powers. He subdues them with a tachyon blast and says now it's time for them to do the job he freed them for. He gives them a locator which will make it easier for him to bring them back when they've captured Ms Marvel. Wrecker says he remembers her being in the Avengers and thinks he knows where they can find her. Their benefactor says he's been inactive for years and his 'memory modules' have only just come back on-line, which clues us into him probably being a robot. Wrecker doesn't like being teleported but Thunderball has enough sense to warn him not to antagonise the boss who could take their power away as easily as he granted it. They compromise on being ported out to the street and doing the rest of the search under their own steam.

Next we see them arriving in New Orleans during Mardi Gras in a probably-stolen car. Thunderball reminds them and us how their Asgardian powers faded (Journey Into Mystery #505) and Arnim Zola gave them the ability to power up from alternate sources (before Thunderbolts #1 - Zola 'fessed up in TB#4). Now they're going to use those powers to rob a bank to draw Ms Marvel's attention.

When we turn our focus to Monica Rambeau in her fishing boat with her dad we get our 1st suspicion that Wrecker is after the wrong superheroine with Marvel in her name. She remembers a freak accident giving her the power to turn into electromagnetic energy and donning a costume as the 2nd Captain Marvel in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 which led to her joining and then leading the Avengers. Nowadays there's another CM so she's changed her codename to Photon. She hears a news report about supervillains calling out Captain Marvel (the reporter obviously 'translates' what he hears) and so she zaps off to deal with them.

The Avengers are having 1 of their regular meetings and the rotating chairmanship has passed to newbie Justice for the 1st time, and he blows it. Afterwards Firestar and Edwin Jarvis try to calm him down. The more experienced Avengers get together and agree to cut him some slack. After all he's working with his long-time idols. Firestar did better last issue because it didn't mean so much to her.

Then Dane Whitman (ex-Avenger Black Knight) drops in out of uniform. He reminds them that (in Heroes For Hire #2) he was named the next incarnation of King Arthur by the Lady Of The Lake who gave him new armour and weapons plus a talisman and magic word (Avalon) to transform into the Black Knight. (The team presumably know this since they've met him since then in at least #1-4 and Ant-Man's Big Christmas.) But he's at a loose end since the HFH disbanded (when their series ended while he was off training the Knights Of Wundagore).

But they are interrupted when Photon zaps in and collapses exhausted into her physical form. She tells them about the Wrecking Crew and they all take a quinjet and head off to New Orleans. Dane asks Monica how the Crew were able to hurt her so much - she'd fared well against them during the big Masters Of Evil attack (#273-277). She says whenever she blasted them it seemed to make them stronger. And then she realises this means she's given them more power to do more damage, and she zaps off out of the quinjet.

Captain America formulates a plan on the way. Given what Photon said he wants the energy-slingers Firestar, Justice, Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man to concentrate on helping bystanders while the others tackle the foes.

The Crew spot Photon returning and Wrecker demolishes a wall onto the Mardi Gras crowd to get her attention. But Justice has flown ahead and uses his TK to stop the wall fragments from falling. Then the other flying Avengers show up and Cap and SW fight their way through the panicked crowd. The villains scatter into hiding.

Cap follows Wrecker into somebody's home and forces him outside where he runs into Thor. That pair renew their grudge match until the Thunder God throws Wrecker into a lamppost and the villain uses the power cables to boost his energy. Meanwhile Thunderball ambushes Iron Man  with his ball and chain, Bulldozer charges at Wanda who is rescuing injured civilians but super-dense Vision blocks his attack, and Piledriver fights Black Knight. But when Justice tries to help in that scrap he accidentally TK-throws the foe into Firestar and gets KO'd by BK's blade. Bulldozer then thunders towards the Knight holding Justice but Photon stops him with a zap. Monica then turns solid to examine Justice's wound, Dane turns to parry another Bulldozer charge with his shield, and Piledriver sucker punches  Photon from behind and carries her off.

The bad guys all converge on 1 spot and Thunderball triggers the locator which should  take them and their captive back to their benefactor. But remember that the boss villain actually wants Ms Marvel (Carol Danvers who is now Warbird) and the confused Crew have got Photon who used to be Captain Marvel instead. The big bad remotely detects that the captured female has no trace of the Kree genetics that MsM would have.

For some not yet explained reason the robot is running out of time so it abandons the Wrecking Crew and risks detection to locate Ms Marvel itself. It drains the city's power grid to power a detector that will latch on to the Kree energy Carol got from the Psyche-Magnitron (in original Captain Marvel #18). We learn that the robot is in the basement of the AIM building destroyed in #13, where apparently AIM had been keeping it in storage. So this is New York.

As it happens Carol Danvers is in the city to see a publisher about a novel she's writing. She runs into Janet Van Dyne who tries to be friendly but Carol snubs her after the way she was 'thrown out' of the Avengers for a drink problem which she still denies (#7). But then Danvers is teleported away.

Satisfied that it has the right target the robot decides to get rid of its incompetent underlings. The Wrecking Crew think they're being teleported back to base but the Witch senses that they are instead being disintegrated. She casts a hex to save them but they vanish. And they were still carrying Photon. And Wanda senses that they've left this universe.

Jerry Ordway
Al Gordon
Tom Smith
Jerry Ordway (Cover Penciler)
Jerry Ordway (Cover Inker)
Tom Smith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Knight
Black Knight

(Dane Whitman)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Doomsday Man, Firestar (Angel Jones), Justice (Vance Astrovik), Photon (Monica Rambeau), Warbird (Carol Danvers).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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