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Avengers #44: Review

Sep 2001
Kurt Busiek, Manuel Garcia

Story Name:

Down Among the Dead Men!

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #44 Review by (September 5, 2020)
Manuel Garcia takes over as penciller. And Andy Kubert gives us the 1st of 2 covers. Albert Deschesne is still helping Richard Starkings do the lettering.

The Sentinels are giant robots originally designed to hunt mutants. The authorities should have learned by now that something always goes wrong when they are unleashed.

Since Maximum Security (including our #35) Val Cooper has been in Thunderbolts #49-50 where the team got fed up with the CSA and disbanded, and USAgent vol 2 where Johnny Walker continued his MaxSec job for the CSA.
After this she'll disappear for a while before moving over to X-stuff starting with Uncanny X-Men #425.

We saw Whirlwind in our #4 and since then he was in TB#26 as part of a gang harassing Mach-1 in prison.
Up next is Spider-Man's Tangled Web #13 as part of another super-villain gang.

That's it for the Deviant leader Dulpus but Glomm makes 1 more cameo app in #52 and maybe in #53.
Presence and Starlight will also be in #52 as the world fights back against Kang.

There's a lull in the Kang Dynasty War between here and next issue.

The 10-strong main team will be busy:-
Captain America & Wasp will be on hand for the 1st issue of Tigra's mini-series.
Iron Man's not in this issue but everybody except Triathlon and recovering Henry Pym will answer Tony Stark's call in IM Annual 2001. And IM will continue into its 2nd tale which is a coda to the Tiberius Stone story arc in his #37-40. Pym as Goliath will join him to study his artificial heart in the 1st half of his #46. And Janet Van Dyne will join him at a charity auction in a tale in Fantastic Four #50.
Goliath will change his super-id again to Yellowjacket in time for Av: The Ultron Imperative GN. Quicksilver and Warbird will only be in 1 panel explaining why they aren't involved. The rest of the main team will be there except Triathlon again. Wonder Man will involve himself too.
I'll cover later pre-#45 stuff in my comments on Av:UI.
Noticeably Triathlon hasn't been in any of these apps. Maybe he's busy investigating the Triune Understanding's spaceship that he found out about in the 2001 Annual. He will be with the team later in CA #46-47 for a belated funeral for Bucky Barnes.

Other chars will go their own way:-
She-Hulk will be in the main story in FF#50 as well as at the charity do in the extra tale. She'll support her cousin as Bruce Banner is cured of a neurological disease in #32 of the current Hulk title, before appearing with lots of other Avengers in TB#57
Black Knight and Kang will appear in the bit of Av:UI that explains what Quicksilver and Warbird are doing.
Jack Of Hearts will be with the team at the funeral in CA #46-47.
Black Widow will return to her ongoing Daredevil stuff in his #21, before joining the multiple guest-stars in TB#57.
TB#57 will be the next stop for Firebird, Hercules, Silverclaw and Stingray.
Steel Guardian will also show up next there.
Meanwhile Scarlet Centurion will content himself to wait for next issue.
This is actually Duane Freman's last appearance. He will die behind the scenes in the attack on Washington in #49.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #44 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue to curry favour with Kang The Conqueror Attuma led the Atlanteans to invade part of Canada. Some Avengers beat them back temporarily and then Stingray was sent to cut their supply lines.

Now he's jumped by a bunch of Atlantean soldiers. He lets some of them get close enough so he can stun them by electrifying his battle-suit. Then he takes the rest out with electro-bolts. He finds what they were guarding - a processing plant which supplies their surface breathing helmets with oxygenated water. Grabbing some power packs from the downed troopers' guns he zaps any more guards, plants the power packs as bombs and retires to a safe distance. Then he reports his success to team leader Scarlet Witch, and joins her, Hercules and Jack Of Hearts in helping Canadian troops deal with the resumed Atlantean invasion.

Another group who heard Kang's call was Deviants who invaded a Chinese Province. Black Widow, She-Hulk, Silverclaw, Vision and Warbird chased them back underground but were surrounded.

Now team leader Warbird wants to try something she's read about in the Avengers files on the Deviants. She challenges their leader to single combat. Dulpus replies that no human can issue such a challenge, especially not a woman. Carol Danvers scornfully suggests he's afraid of human women. So Dulcus accepts the challenge but nominates a champion to fight for him. - a large Deviant named Glomm.

The Avengers are also fighting on a 3rd front, nothing to do with Kang, in the Forbidden Zone radioactive wasteland of Khystym in Siberia. The Presence, exiled to the Zone, has found a way to convert people to radioactive green skeletal beings under his control who he has sent out to infect others. An Avengers team went in to sort it out but Black Knight, Captain America and Quicksilver got converted to the ranks, and only Firebird and Thor were immune.

The duo fight on even though they have to strike their companions. Thor tries to get Cap to shake off the control but to no avail. Cap speaks, but only to declare that they too will join the collective mind that is the Presence. Firebird thinks their friends are dead, and the Thunder God calls down storm and lightning and swears vengeance.

Kang is in his orbiting spaceship Damocles Base, in the shape of an enormous sword, watching videoscreens (1 of which shows Wonder Man fighting Bulldozer somewhere). His son Marcus, Scarlet Centurion, brings in the 1st group of mercenaries who wish to work for them. Kang starts to query their qualifications when the interview is interrupted by the arrival of supervillain Whirlwind. He figures his superpower qualifies him to be a General. Kang's response is to teleport him back to Earth with the message that he doesn't *need* power, what he wants is obedience, ability and discipline.

In China Glomm and Warbird are circling each other warily. WB starts the proceedings in earnest by blasting a hole in her opponent. But he immediately seals the hole, demonstrating his plasticity and declaring that he has no bones or vital organs to be damaged - except 1. Then he engulfs the woman warrior.

In Siberia Firebird and Thor have managed to fly to the centre of the infection and found the Presence and his companion Starlight. Thor strikes down green guardians (1 of whom is probably Steel Guardian of the Russian Winter Guard) with lightning and demands to speak to Presence. The villain doesn't believe this is a real god before him and sends forth his power to transform or kill him. Devout Christian Bonita Juarez hadn't really believed in his godhood either, but now she sees his righteous anger at the death of Steve Rogers. The Thunder God absorbs Presence's power into his hammer Mjolnir so Sergei Krylov sends out more, expecting to overwhelm his foe. When he still doesn't succeed he gets worried and tries to stop the flow, but Thor won't let him and gradually sucks the life out of him.

In China Warbird seems to be losing the battle, but Black Widow won't let the other Avengers intervene. Trapped inside the malleable foe, her ability to absorb energy allows her to sense a source nearby. She reaches out and finds the 1 organ Glomm possesses, a combined brain and heart. She squeezes it and the Deviant collapses. Carol Danvers claims the victory.

Back in Siberia Thor is about to drain the last bit of Presence's power when he is interrupted by Starlight pleading for her lover's life. Tania Belinsky says she shares Sergei's power and she believes she can drain it from the converted people and restore them to life. She didn't share his dream of global unity in a collective mind, but she does share the lethal radiation that exiles them both in the Forbidden Zone. Without him she would be alone. Thor agrees to the deal.

After Starlight has undone the damage, the Russian authorities decide to confine Presence even more than before, and Tania goes with him. The cured survivors, including the Avengers, are weak and will need treatment. Bonita talks to Thor about this being the 2nd time (last issue) she's proven immune to death, and she fears that she may be immortal and so never see heaven. Thor says the burden of immortality is to see friends die while you go on. He has seen men go to Valhalla but it didn't lessen the pain of their deaths.

In China the Deviant army surrender their weapons to their new leader Warbird. Carol reports success to Wasp at Avengers Mansion with Triathlon and Henry Pym. They have to decide what to do with the surrendered Deviant army and Janet Van Dyne thinks she'll contact Black Panther because Wakanda has diplomatic ties with the Deviants in Lemuria. Wasp then calls up Scarlet Witch in Canada, who is pleased to see Hank OK (his 'problem' has just been resolved in our 2001 Annual). The Atlanteans have now completely retreated, and Jan adds another call to her todo list to ask Sub-Mariner what's happening in Atlantis (an editorial comment directs us to the 2001 Defenders series).

Finally Duane Freeman, their government liaison, and Val Cooper of the Commission On Superhuman Activities ring Wasp to ask the Avengers to come to Washington to discuss the Kang situation. And we see a backup plan if the Avengers fail to stop Kang. It's reactivated Sentinels, and Duane doesn't like it.

Manuel Garcia
Bob Layton
Tom Smith
Andy Kubert (Cover Penciler)
Andy Kubert (Cover Inker)
Tom Smith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Jennifer Walters)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Black Knight, Duane Freeman, Firebird, Presence, Scarlet Centurion (Marcus Kang), Silverclaw (Maria de Guadalupe Santiago), Starlight, Stingray (Wakter Newell), Triathlon, Warbird (Carol Danvers), Whirlwind.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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