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Avengers #20: Review

Sep 1999
Kurt Busiek, George Perez

Story Name:

This Evil Unfolding

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #20 Review by (January 20, 2020)
As I mentioned last issue Slorenia previously featured in issues of Force Works and War Machine. The Slorenian chars mentioned here also appeared in those issues. Black Brigade and Ember are presumably really dead because they won't be seen again. The zombie Targoths are probably also all destroyed but AIM create some more in Ms Marvel (2006) #10-11, the same issues where the Doomsday Man from #16-17 resurfaces.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #20 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Captain America, Firestar, Iron Man, Justice (levitating rather than using crutches to cope with his broken leg) and Thor are visiting the Pentagon along with Black Panther. Justice knows that Panther fought alongside the others when Alkhema invaded the Wakandan Design Group plant last issue, but he whispers to Firestar that he doesn't understand why the Avengers have brought him with them given that (in BP(1998)#8) he told them he originally only joined the team to spy on them. Angelica Jones warns Vance Astrovik that T'Challa's enhanced senses meant he would be able to hear him. But Steve Rogers overhears too and T'Challa allows *him* to respond that Black Panther has proven himself an Avenger many times over.

They enter the Situation Room to discuss the situation in Slorenia. The military have much fuller info than the TV news had about Ultron-16's attack on that Baltic country. His hovering robot warcraft demolished the seaports, then airfields, then railways and roads. The Slorene military couldn't stop them. Then Ultron's robot troops slaughtered the soldiers followed by the Slorene's zombie Targoth warriors. Black Brigade and his robot drones fought back but were killed by Ultron himself in his 1st personal appearance. He then put down Ember, the mythical defender of the oppressed Dudak minority. Then Ultron's troops systematically murdered all the civilians in the country. Ultron then sent a message to the world that Slorenia was now the home of his new robotic race - but the rest of the world would soon follow.

The Avengers captured Alkhema last issue and the military now have her caged in an adamantium casing. They want her to tell them what Ultron is planning but she won't speak to them, even though she already said she wanted to spoil his plans. Instead she just emits a continuous ultrasonic hum. UN troops are ready to invade Slorenia but the Avengers will take point. Injured Justice won't be with them but 4 others currently in New Jersey will.

Those 4 (Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wasp and Wonder Man) are at Henry Pym's lab at Nugent Technologies from which Hank was abducted by Ultron's robots in #18. They meet the boss Alice Nugent who Janet Van Dyne remembers as Hank's lab assistant in Iron Man #194 (and maybe #164 of our original series). Dr Nugent explains that she already had her company then but worked with Pym to learn from him. (I'm not sure why Kurt Busiek felt it necessary to invent this.) The robots took lots of equipment from the lab as well, and Vision wonders if they wanted the technology as well as Henry. We are reminded he was working on applying insect communication to broadcasting tech. Simon Williams and Wanda Maximoff are reminded of the scene where robots kidnapped Simon's brother Eric from a sanatorium (#0).

As Wanda and Vision use magic and technology to scan for clues she asks him why he frequents the Café Transia which serves the ethnic cuisine of her homeland (as seen last issue) but Vision fobs her off. (She's picking at the scab which covers their old marriage, which has been freshly irritated by the fact that she's now dating Simon whose brain provided the template for Vision's own.) Then she consoles Jan who's scared of what Ultron might be doing to *her* ex-husband (and *they* have rekindled their relationship in this series).

Wasp is particularly worried for Hank's fragile sanity for which she accepts some of the blame. She reminds Wanda of Henry Pym's history. He had a breakdown when his 1st wife Maria was killed. In the early (Tales To Astonish and initial Avengers issues) days of their own romance when Hank was Ant-Man then Giant-Man Jan was always trying to get him to loosen up and be more romantic. Then when he created Ultron-1 and was hypnotised to forget it that reawoke his mental problems. Later he was affected by an experimental gas and invented a new extrovert personality as Yellowjacket and thought he was someone else (#59). Jan of course knew who he really was but agreed to marry him in that state (#60). When Hank recovered his right mind he *said* he was OK about that. Then Ultron captured him (#161) and induced a 3rd breakdown and sent him against the Avengers as Ant-Man. The fact that it was his wife Wasp who defeated him then must have further increased his insecurities. Eventually (#213) in the middle of a 4th breakdown he hit Jan and got 'court-martialled' from the Avengers, leading to their divorce (#224). In this series they're living together again but the past still haunts Hank.

Suddenly they are attacked by Ultron-1 to Ultron-15 here to capture all 4 of them. Wasp successfully destroys Ultron-1 and suggests she go after the other pre-6 non-adamantium ones while the others take the stronger versions. Vision uses his solar ray while remaining intangible so they can't hurt him, Wonder Man just slams them into each other to damage their insides while Scarlet Witch causes their molecular rearrangers to misbehave until an encephalo-ray knocks her out. Vision is taken out by the same ray, and little Wasp gets suctioned up. Wonder Man holds his own against them all until the giant Ultron-7 (from #127 and Fantastic Four #150) appears and stands on him allowing the others to beat him unconscious. And then they all leave with their captives.

Alice Nugent gets the news to the other Avengers on their way to Slorenia with the UN troops. Justice arrives back at Avengers Mansion and asks Jarvis to help him research everything there is to know about Ultron. And in the catacombs under Slorenia's parliament building Ultron surveys his 6 captives (4 plus Henry Pym and Eric Williams) who he claims are his family (apart from Alkhema and the deceased Jocasta (since our Annual #17)). And he intends to grant them the honour of being the seeds for his new race who will rule the world.

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.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Alkhema, Doctor Spectrum (Alice Nugent), Firestar (Angel Jones), Grim Reaper (Eric Williams), Henry Pym, Justice (Vance Astrovik).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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