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Avengers #34: Review

Aug 2014
Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Francis Yu

Story Name:

The last Avenger

Review & Comments

Rating:
4.5 stars

Avengers #34 Review by (September 6, 2014)
The overgrown pyramids/Immortus statue future seen here is the same as in Hickman's SHIELD (2010) #5, and the hole in the side of the pyramid is created in #6. The 1st go-round that the 3 Kang's mention is presumably the 1 that old Hawkeye remembered in #30 - the time-trip that Captain America had come back and told him about, and the events after the return. that Hawkeye blamed Tony Stark for all the subsequent deaths, and the suffering of those who survived. That Hawkeye did 2 things to ensure a better result this time round. 1 was his whispered advice to Cap. The other was to get Stark to return early this time, in time to stop the bad from happening. But when Iron Man does get home to New Avengers he doesn't do much. The Illuminati decide via their own consciences not to destroy 2 inhabited Earths - except Sub-Mariner does it for them.

However there are problems with the 3 beings in this issue being the same person at different stages in the same personal timeline. Iron Lad is not the version of a Nathaniel Richards (not Reed's dad) that grew up to be the original Kang. Kang himself ensured this when he went back and saved his young self from a knife attack as related in YA#2, and then showed him his original future. YA#6 suggested that Nate would forget his YA career, and so evolve into Kang as normal. But later apps of Iron Lad have him remembering everything, and a cameo at the end of the YA Special has him as a young man in Kang's uniform, whereas original Nathaniel didn't *start* on the time-travel career that would result in Kang until he was middle-aged. Turning to the Kang/Immortus link - this was severed in Av Forever. However the few subsequent appearances of Immortus (during Av(2010)#1-6 and the Uncanny Avengers Ragnarok Now/Planet X sequence) have him still opposing Kang. He also seems to remember being Kang. In fact a remark by him in UAv#23 may shed some light on the matter. He says he doesn't remember *this* Kang's actions, suggesting he doesn't remember actions of Kang (and any alternates split off) after AvF.

I'm promoting Iron Lad to a member of the Iron Man family like James Rhodes so I can justifiably include this issue in the IM Library (and postdate his promotion to cover last issue too). (The cover montage seems to agree with me.) So who *is* Iron Lad? He's the teenager who would grow up to be Kang, but he rebelled against his future. He donned an armour inspired by that of Iron Man, and came back in time to found the Young Avengers. He killed Kang but that created a worse reality. So he fatalistically put things right by leaving the YA (in YA#6) to become Kang. Various Avengers stories, beginning with Giant-Size Avengers #3, established that Immortus is a future version of Kang. After multiple alternate timeline Kangs were revealed, Av#269 explained that Immortus was the future of just 1 of them - with the memories of them all.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #34 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Previously page has the usual (lately) opening from New Avengers where Captain America and the rest of the Illuminati used the Infinity Gems to stop 1 of the incursions. But the Gems were destroyed except the Time Gem which disappeared. The Illuminati then threw Cap off the team because he wouldn't go along with the extreme planetocidal methods they proposed, and Dr Strange wiped the memories from his mind. Then it progresses to recent issues of this series, where Cap remembered (possibly due to Original Sin #3) and confronted Iron Man about it. But the Time Gem reappeared and took various Avengers jumping through the future. The other Avengers, starting with IM, were returned to the present at various stages, leaving only Cap at the end. At 1 stop 5,000 years ahead Cap met adult Franklin Richards who warned him that the Illuminati would fail to solve the incursions problem for 2 reasons:- because it was impossible, and because Cap opposed them. At 50,000 years ahead Cap expected himself to be returned home, but he was rescued from Fractured Temporal Space by an iron-clad figure.

Steve Rogers at 1st obviously thinks it's Tony Stark (as I did last issue). But the figure unmasks, and the youth within claims to be Kang. Cap immediately realises it's Iron Lad.

His saviour tells Steve that his time-jaunt is ended - this is the end of time. We see a landscape of overgrown pyramids and a Sphinx-like statue of Immortus.

IL also claims that the whole journey was kicked off by Cap destroying the Time Gem (at the same time as the other Gems). He confirms that it was significant that they were 'greeted' by versions of the Avengers at each stop on the way. And now he'll take Cap to meet the last Avenger.

They enter through a hole in the side of a pyramid, where they find (adult) Kang and Immortus. Iron Lad says the last Avenger is the 3 of them. (They can qualify as a single Avenger because they are (sort-of) the same person at 3 different stages of life.) They have been united against an imminent Event (presumably the death of the multiverse brought forward by the incursions in New Avengers).

Steve of course refuses to trust Kang, or even Immortus, but Iron Lad asks Cap to trust him. Then they each hold out a (symbolic?) piece of plant life (a seed, a flower, a dead plant) and ask Rogers to hold out his own hand - where the Time Gem materialises.

The 3 time-travellers blast the Gem, which becomes encased in a glowing column. Kang explains they have trapped it in a stasis prism of no-time, where it can no longer function. They've stopped it from taking him through time again.

IL refreshes Steve's mind (and ours) about the incursions of parallel Earths from 1 timeline into another that are killing universes and shortening the life of the multiverse. He says that Earth, the Illuminati and Cap are inextricably involved with it all. At Steve's protest IL assures him that he and the Illuminati are not responsible for starting the problem (although from NAv#2 we know that an Earth was involved).

No, it's the ending of the problem where they're important. And the 3 have been trying to steer that ending to their satisfaction. They have been through this situation once already, and they sent Cap back to convince the 'monster' Tony Stark to find better solutions to the incursions than destroying other Earths. But all the Illuminati's attempts failed. Now the Kang's realise that it's better to let the Illuminati do what they want - so they're going to keep Cap here.

Then we see a rehash of the argument that Steve had with the Illuminati. Cap doesn't believe in sacrificing 1 person for the sake of many (or 1 Earth for the sake of 2 universes). He believes in saving people 1 at a time, and never giving up hope. Kang says that the real universe presents problems that can't be solved that way. Iron Lad says that such individualistic morality has been replaced in time by a collective 1 (as seen in the societies in the last few issues).

Steve Rogers will have none of this. He hurls his shield at Immortus, who calmly teleports out of the way. But Cap's just done 1 of his standard tricks, as the shield rebounds off a couple of walls and cuts through the stasis trap holding the Time Gem. Which reappears in his hand and takes him back to Fractured Temporal Space, where he fragments away (the usual method of returning to the present).

In the middle of the above discussion Steve remembered what the older Hawkeye whispered to him in #30 (which we of course didn't hear). Clint predicted the 2 options that Steve would be told about - do nothing or help the monster Tony Stark find better ways. But he suggested a 3rd course - kill (or at least 'take out') the monster. And this is what Cap intends to do now.

Back in the present in Avengers Tower Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hyperion, Starbrand and Thor are waiting for his return. They came back in the order they left the future, but only minutes apart. It's been 5 hours since then and they're about to give up when Cap pops in.

He uses the Avengers' equipment to call in as many Avengers (and other heroes?) as he can. They're going to hunt the Illuminati down.


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Leinil Francis Yu
Gerry Alanguilan
Matt Milla
Leinil Francis Yu (Cover Penciler)
Leinil Francis Yu (Cover Inker)
Sunny Gho (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Wil Moss.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Kang
Kang

(Kang the Conqueror)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)

Plus: Hyperion, Immortus, Iron Lad, Starbrand (Kevin Conner).