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Avengers #76: Review

Feb 2004
Geoff Johns, Steve Sadowski

Story Name:

Full house

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #76 Review by (March 19, 2021)
This is rather a disquieting ending. Jack Of Hearts is praised as an Avenger for acting as judge, jury and executioner for the bad guy. What happened to the Avengers' no-killing rule?

Jack is dead, but he's been brought back to life before (by Moondragon in Quasar #27). Scarlet Witch will 'resurrect' him temporarily during Avengers Disassembled. After that he'll be seen in the afterlife in Incredible Hercules #129. But the zero energy will re-manifest him to help fight the Zombie version of the Squadron Supreme in the Marvel Zombies Supreme miniseries. And that series will leave him still alive.

Cassie Lang will appear in #83 before her dad dies in Avengers Disassembled and she becomes Stature in the Young Avengers.

Black Panther won't be in another issue of this title until the renumbered #500. But he'll share guest apps with other Avengers several times before next issue, see below. So I'll treat him like Thor and Warbird as an occasional associate.

Wasp and Yellowjacket will return from their Las Vegas vacation (#71) for some guest apps before our next issue.
Captain America, Hawkeye and Wasp will be the only Avengers in #77.
Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk and YJ will join them in #78.
Ant-Man won't appear until #81.
Falcon and Vision will be in #82, with a visit from Warbird.
#77-81 are the Lionheart Of Avalon story arc. #82 is the start of Once An Invader.

There are lots of apps before then.
(Cap and IM have issue of their own series, SH starts a series of her own as does Hawkeye.)
In IM#73 (with Cap) Tony Stark is asked to become Secretary Of Defence (to replace Red Skull from the Red Zone arc). This issue overlaps with his apps in Crimson Dynamo #4-5.
IM#74-78 continue the Best Defence arc and end with him taking the job. (Cap, SW and Vis plus BP and WB cameo in #75)
IM then shows up for the end of the Crimson Dynamo mini-series in #6.
Cap, Falcon and Vis plus BP and Warbird have another cameo in IM#79 as Stark is sworn in to the office.
IM#80-82 continue the Deep End arc in Iraq and #83 is a standalone. Meanwhile Cap is also in Iraq in CA Theatre Of War: To Soldier On, and his (2002)#26 overlaps with flashbacks in Nick Fury's Secret War.
Cap and Wasp meet WB in her Homeland Security role in a flashback in Av/Thunderbolts #1 to recruit imprisoned Mach-3, some weeks before the main action.
Wasp and SH star in Av Fairy Tales #4.
Cap, IM, SW, Vis and Wasp will appear in SH(2004)#1 wherein Jennifer Walters gets a new lawyering job.
Cap meets an alternate timeline version of Isaiah Bradley in CA4#27-28 (IM guest-stars in #27).
IM#84-85 are bannered as a Prologue to Avengers Disassembled. IM fights another of Howard Stark's Arsenal robots with AM, Falc, Wasp and Vis plus BP and WB from Homeland Security.
In SH(2004)#2-4 Jen Walters gets on with her lawyering life, with SW and Wasp to wish her well in #2.
SW attends her father Magneto's funeral in UX#442-443. SH has a totally separate side-role in #442.
Cap, Hawk, IM, SW, Vis and Wasp are in Av/TB#1. IM is in disguise as Cobalt Man.
Cap pops in at the end of Runaways #17 to ask if they have a license for their Leapfrog vehicle.
Cap, Hawk, IM, SW, Vis, Wasp and YJ are in Av/TB#2-6 (with WB in #6). IM mainly appears in disguise as Cobalt Man.
Cap plus Thor cameo in X-Treme X-Men #46, the end of the series.
Most of the current Avengers plus BP and Thor are in various issues of X-Statix #21-26, which also finishes off the series. It's their version of the old Avengers/Defenders War scenario.
AM, Hawk, IM, SH plus Thor cameo at a soldier's memorial service in CATOW: America The Beautiful.
Cap and IM cameo in Bullseye: Perfect Game #2. Then IM cameos in Pulse #3.
Hawkeye gets his own 2003 series and #1-6 include lots of flashbacks to his youthful time with Swordsman, Trickshot and his brother Barney.
Finally Cap, Hawk, SW and Vis are in 1 of the flashbacks in GLA #1.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #76 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue the Avengers found the missing berserk She-Hulk and Jack Of Hearts restored her to her non-berserk state. But the whole berserk thing only happened because Jack's alien physiology has been messing with Shulk's gamma radiation. So now they both can't stay as Avengers.

But before we get to that we find Ant-Man's daughter Cassie Lang confronting 2 boys torturing ants. She frightens them into stopping by telling them what a swarm of fire ants could do to them. When they've gone a man calls to her and asks for help to find his daughter Jessica Cooley because her mother has been in a car accident. Cassie wants to consult a teacher, but Mr Cooley doesn't want to do that. In the last panel we see her abandoned skipping rope.

In Avengers Embassy sub-basement Jack Hart has half an hour before he's due back in the Zero Room that stops him from violently exploding. Upstairs the rest of the team are discussing the JOH/She-Hulk situation. Newly-rejoined (last issue) Avenger Hawkeye thinks the answer's obvious, and he summarises Jack's situation for us. He has to spend 14 hours a day in the Zero Room. And he slowly depletes Shulk's store of gamma radiation which either turns her back to Jennifer Walters or into Savage She-Hulk. So he says the man's got to go. But Jen says the man can't help it, and they're not going to chuck him out without a discussion. So she forcibly puts Clint Barton in his place. Clint says he likes it when she's aggressive.

Captain America believes the only option is for 1 of the pair to leave the team. Black Panther thinks the decision should be Jennifer's as a long-standing Avenger. Iron Man agrees but offers Stark Labs to continue looking for a cure for him. BP offers Wakandan help with that. (This pair have gone from sniping enemies to best buds.) Clint thought Jack was safe in space, but Cap says he's evolved beyond that state. Vision butts in to say that Jack should have a say in his fate, and his ex-wife Scarlet Witch concurs. However Ant-Man agrees with Hawkeye that the answer's obvious - Jack must go. (But then Scott Lang and Jack Hart have been at odds ever since they met.) Falcon is on Jack's side, but Scott goes on to say that temperamental Jack just isn't a team player.

Jack has been listening to at least the end of this conversation and makes his presence known. Cap tells him he'd still be an Avenger but it would be best if for now he went into the care of IM and BP until they can cure the problem. Jen assures him that they know he didn't deliberately hurt her. But Scott can't contain his anger at Jack. So Jack leaves for some last fresh air before the Zero Room, and gives them permission to ship him to Stark Enterprises. But Steve Rogers suggests that Scott should take this last chance to patch things up between them.

Ant-Man follows JOH up onto the roof. But before they can talk Scott gets a call from his ex-wife Peggy Burdick to say that their daughter's been kidnapped. He shrinks and flies off on the back of 1 of a swarm of flying ants. Jack checks his countdown timer and elects to follow him.

Peggy is with her new husband Blake Burdick, an off-duty patrolman. The cops have the kidnapper surrounded in an abandoned building. Jack Of Hearts arrives and is told that the villain is Charles Cooley who murdered his own daughter Jessica. Inside a boarded up apartment Cooley has Cassie and a gun. He says this is where Jessica ... died. He didn't want her to grow up and lose her innocence. And he doesn't want that for Cassie either, and points his gun at her.

But Cassie's eyes light up when she sees ants all over the walls and knows help has arrived. Ant-Man grows explosively and socks the man in the jaw. Then Scott turns to check on Cassie but Cooley shoots him in the shoulder from behind. AM sends a swarm of bees to sting him. Cooley drops the gun and begs to be taken to hospital because he's allergic. But Scott picks up the gun and presses it to the man's forehead.

Then JOH smashes in through a wall and hits Cooley with an energy-blast. He tells Scott to drop the gun. Scott tells him to mind his own business but Jack says Scott really doesn't want his daughter to see him kill someone. Scott turns and sees Cassie cowering in fear again. They run into each other's arms and Jack says he'd better get back to the Zero Room.

However Cooley gets the gun again and makes another attempt to 'protect' Cassie's innocence. But Jack melts the gun and grabs Cooley. Scott reminds him that his time's nearly up, but Jack replies that he's finally realised what Scott has been trying to tell him in previous issues. It's not about *him* being a *hero* it's about making the world a safer place. Cooley killed his own daughter and now this Avenger is going to do some avenging. And he flies off with the bad guy.

Jack Of Hearts takes Charles Cooley out into space as his timer counts down to zero. Cooley is probably dead already before Scott and Cassie see an explosion in the sky. Cassie asks her dad who was that masked man, and Scott replies "An Avenger". Strangely we then see Jack's body orbiting Saturn and breaking up into bits to add to the rings.

Steve Sadowski
Andrew Currie
Chris Sotomayor
Jae Lee (Cover Penciler)
Jae Lee (Cover Inker)
Jose Villarrubia (Cover Colorist)

Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Scott Lang)
Black Panther
Black Panther

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Jennifer Walters)

Plus: Blake Burdick, Cassie Lang, Peggy Burdick (Peggy Lang).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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