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Avengers #10: Review

Nov 2018
Jason Aaron, David Marquez

Story Name:

The battle for the right to be called Earth's Mightiest

Review & Comments

Rating:
4.5 stars

Avengers #10 Review by (November 18, 2018)
This issue has #10 in the cover box, repeated in the indicia at the back. But the cover also says #700, as does the splash page. Whatever, it's a 64-page special issue.

The postscript pencils+inks/colours teams are:- Ghost Rider & Odin - Frazer Irving. Loki & Wolverine - Adam Kubert/Matthew Wilson. Wasp & Blade - Andrea Sorrentino/Giada Marchisio

The main story is split between David Marquez/Justin Ponsor (as the last 2 issues) and Ed McGuinness/Erick Arciniego. Marquez does the early part and McGuinness takes over for the Avengers/Defenders confrontation and following.

The Defenders Of The Deep confirm last issues identifications and add names for Bloodtide (previously seen, less-mutated, in 2005's New Thunderbolts #1,3,5-6 as part of the Fathom Five group) and King Crab (totally new).

Hydropolis is not the same as previously seen versions:- The undersea city in Hulk (1978) magazine #22. The human/Atlantean city in Namor the Submariner (1990) #46-58.

Most of the chars in this version of Winter Guard have been in earlier versions and/or in even earlier Russian groups Soviet Super-Soldiers, Supreme Soviets or People's Protectorate.
The most recent Winter Guard was assembled in the Darkstar & WG mini-series where DS came back from the dead and reunited with her brother Vanguard who took over the well-used name and uniform of Red Guardian, the Soviet answer to Captain America. Crimson Dynamo and Ursa Major were also in that group. The team made various, usually minor, apps since then until their biggest in the recent Weapon X #20-21. Now they're here and Red Guardian has changed his name back to Vanguard but kept the RG uniform and shield.
Vostok was sometimes a member of an earlier WG with Darkstar & Vanguard but he didn't make it through the DS&WG mini.
Perun was never in the WG but was in the earlier Supreme Soviets and then People's Protectorate.
Chernobog was never in any of the teams, and has only previously appeared in a backup tale in Incredible Hulks #621 and in Thor: God of Thunder #2
This Red Widow may be the char Ava Orlova who channelled electricity through her swords and took the ID Red Widow, but she was never in any of the Soviet teams. She was in 2 novels and 2 comics backup stories.

Thunderbolt Ross has had a very varied Marvel career, but after his sting as Red Hulk he was jailed by the military. However his actions against Hydra during Secret Empire earned him a parole. He now works for the Government as here but is secretly a member of the Power Elite seen in the current Captain America series.

Deadpool supposedly killed Phil Coulson in DP(2016)#31 during Secret Empire. But presumably he didn't.

There have been many versions of the Squadron Supreme (in many alternate timelines) with many members looking identical or very similar. I'll wait to see which if any of them this 1 corresponds to. This group doesn't resemble the 1 seen in its own post-Secret Wars III series which was made up of members from various old teams.

Gorilla Man's origin dates back to Men's Adventures #26 in 1954 where Ken Hale became an immortal gorilla. Many adventures have been retconned into the era before he joined Jimmy Woo's Agents Of Atlas. After the 2011 Fear Itself event the team vanished (apart from a cameo in Fantastic Four #645 in 2015). Since then Gorilla Man made independent apps in various Deadpool comics as part of Mercs For Money. But now he's transferred to the just-invented Agents Of Wakanda.

Loki makes it clear that this is after Infinity Countdown Prime, and therefore so is #1-6 which ended with his capture by the Celestials. The current Avengers appear in Infinity Wars so that must be after their origin in #1-6. Loki is also in Infinity Wars so that must also be after his release here.

Wasp is currently Tony Stark's new girlfriend (TS: Iron Man #4) and working with the other Wasp in the 2nd Unstoppable Wasp series. So now she's added another string to her bow as an Agent Of Wakanda.

Blade was last seen working for Leonardo da Vinci's replacement for SHIELD in Iron Man #600. But nothing more has been heard of that outfit. Maybe next issue we'll learn how he wound up a prisoner of Dracula.





 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #10 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
We open in the last (and secret) Gulag in Siberia with a prisoner Major Mikhail Ursus, the superhero Ursa Major who seems to remain a bear full time now as he drinks cheap vodka. A messenger arrives to tell him the State needs him and he's been pardoned for his crimes. Ursus counters that most of his 'crimes' were missions for the previous State. He wants them expunged from his record - all except the 1 where he killed 5 of his commanding officers. It's not true that he ate them, he just tore them apart with his jaws. But leave the killings in - he's proud of *them*.

Some of his other old Winter Guard comrades are also being recruited. Darkstar and Vanguard are already in and they're trying to persuade Dmitri Bukharin to lead them. He has been offered a cabinet post as Minister Of Superhuman Defence but he'd still prefer to stay resigned. Especially as the team comes with a mysterious imposed member Red Widow, an assassin from the same Red Room training program that produced Black Widow. And he knows what the Government really wants is the armour of the Crimson Dynamo.

Their target this time will be whoever destroyed Russian submarines in the Black Sea. The cover story is that it was Romanian rebels, but we can guess that it was Sub-Mariner and his followers.

Namor and his Defenders Of The Deep are currently raising Hydropolis the undersea research station. King Namor has declared the oceans off-limits to surface-folk. This triggers an alert at Avengers Mountain which is answered by Gorilla-Man who resents the computer calling him the butler (apparently a joke programmed in by Tony Stark). He doesn't quite get to tell us he's an Agent Of Wakanda before he calls in the actual Avengers.

Tony and Ghost Rider are engaged in a car race. GR's magic Hell Charger vs Stark's latest design. They each promise to honour their bets even if they win:- Stark to provide a repulsor-powered wheelchair for Robbie Reyes brother, and GR to pass on a message to Tony's deceased father Howard. They abandon the race to race to the North Pole to answer the summons.

Captain Marvel and Thor are on the ocean bed getting rid of the remains of sunken helicarriers. (They may be cleaning up the sea but I'm sure Subby would still attack them if he found them.) CM crushes debris into a ball. Thor hits that into space with his hammer. Carol Danvers shepherds the result into a collision with the sun. But while they work Carol asks Thor about his relationship with She-Hulk (or just Hulk as they call her these days). Thor denies that they've ever been on a proper date (although things have gotten pretty steamy between them a couple of times in recent issues). It turns out Thor's shy and wants Carol to find out if Jennifer Walters would say yes.

Jennifer herself is in Wakanda undergoing therapy to deal with her Hulk side. When asked what she sees when she closes her eyes she lies and doesn't say she sees glowing red eyes in a menacing green face. To test that she's in control T'Challa takes her to handle an Avengers Press Conference without Hulking out. But she's saved by the Avengers alert.

Meanwhile Captain America is in Washington DC meeting General Thunderbolt Ross. The US Government isn't happy that Cap has made the Wakandan King Black Panther the head of the Avengers, who they always thought of as *their* team. Steve Rogers says the Avengers work for the Earth, not for *any* individual country - not even Wakanda. As Cap leaves to answer the alert, Ross sends for the Agent to put their alternative plan into operation.

The Avengers assemble at Hydropolis to face Sub-Mariner and his team. (A brief résumé of last issue includes the news that Stingray isn't dead just severely Piranha'd.) They want to be allowed to safely evacuate the scientists. But before Namor can agree 2 of his giant Piranhas menace some people and Cap's shield and Thor's hammer take them down. So of course the rest of the Defenders Of The Deep leap to the attack. While Namor and Panther spar, Orka takes on (She-)Hulk while King Crab makes do with Thor and Tiger Shark battles Cap. Echidna, mother of monsters, wraps Iron Man in her tail, Captain Marvel fights the jellyfish tentacles of Manowar whilst trying to talk sense into ex-heroine (and ex-Defender (not of the deep)) Andromeda. Ghost Rider faces Bloodtide who was a little Atlantean girl until surface pollutants mutated her into a Water Witch. And more giant Piranhas chase more people. Panther blinds Sub-Mariner with a flash-bomb and Cap hits him with his flung shield which also takes out Tiger Shark on the rebound.

Then things get more complicated with the arrival of the Winter Guard to arrest Namor. As well as Crimson Dynamo, Darkstar, Red Widow, Ursa Major and Vanguard we see Chernobog, Perun and Vostok. Chernobog and Perun, Slavic Gods of Darkness and the Storm, move in to make the arrest while Panther looks on. (Overlaying the following fight we get Red Widow's report on it to her masters.) Widow herself stays out of the fight to watch Ursa Major 'save' Thor from King Crab. Darkstar deals with Bloodtide leaving Ghost Rider free to zap some zombie sharks. Similarly Crimson Dynamo draws Manowar's attention freeing Captain Marvel to trade blows with Andromeda, and Vanguard bops Echidna just freeing Iron Man. Meanwhile Vostok engages Orka. (Widow's report ends by saying the team isn't ready for action yet but she could whip them into shape if she was allowed to kill 1 or 2 of them as an example.)

Chernobog and Perun's 'arrest' falls apart when they start squabbling until Hulk breaks them apart. At which point the Winter Guard turn on the Avengers:- Ursa Major vs Thor. Cap-alike Vanguard vs the original. Dynamo blasts Hulk to stop her beating up his team's Gods, so Iron Man starts a hand-blast battle with *him*. Android Vostok sings the Soviet anthem as he fights Black Panther. Ghost Rider finds Red Widow in her observation point so she stabs him with an energy(?) blade. Darkstar and Captain Marvel  fight over who gets to save 2 people from the Piranhas until Subby kills his giant fish because they don't follow orders. Then he and the Defenders leave.

The Avengers and Winter Guard pull stern faces at each other until Red Widow says her team's going home. Bukharin tells her off for usurping his authority, but she threatens to detonate his armour. And they go. The Avengers take Hydropolis and its personnel somewhere (Wakanda or Avengers Mountain?). And General Ross welcomes Agent Phil Coulson with the US's new super-team - the Squadron Supreme of America (Doctor Spectrum, Hyperion, Nighthawk, Warrior Woman and Whizzer).


There are then 3 postscripts by different art teams:-

Robbie's brother Gabe Reyes tries out his new repulsor-powered wheelchair. Robbie pops out to the garage where he's suddenly attacked by drunken Odin with his spear Gungnir, who blames him for killing their old ally Starbrand (in Marvel Legacy #1). Robbie survives the stabbing by turning into Ghost Rider. He remembers killing Starbrand but doesn't understand all this talk about them all being allies. And anyway it was self-defence. The insane Starbrand attacked him and GR used the Penance Stare on him (which he didn't know he could do). And suddenly repentant Odin realises it was all *his* fault for burying the Fallen Celestial a million years ago, and thus causing the recent attack by the Final Host of Celestials.

We then skip past Odin explaining about his old gang which included the 1st Ghost Rider and the 1st Starbrand (see our earlier issues). Robbie doesn't believe he was possessed by the Spirit Of Vengeance like other Ghost Riders (but that Penance Stare suggests he may be wrong). And he didn't make a deal with the devil when he became the latest GR. But Odin suggests he *did* make a deal, whether he remembers it or not, and sooner or later the devil will come to collect. Odin doesn't want to go into details of what happened to the 1st GR, but we see a montage of Odin's Avengers and some fearsome foes (including what looks like a gorilla army with an Infinity Stone, and a Deathlok!).

Odin predicts that the Starbrand will pick a new bearer soon. And sometimes its bearers have gone bad, so Ghost Rider may have to kill another 1. Then he asks Robbie to take him for a high-speed drive in the Hell-Charger.

In the far reaches of space Loki is in the clutches of the Celestials (since a flashback in #8). He continues to claim they should thank him for unleashing the Final Host. In the end it rid them of the menace of the Horde and recreated the Avengers in time for the War To End All Realms (that's been escalating in loads of recent Thor issues) and the rise of ... but  he gets cut off by the sudden appearance of Wolverine who says things will be worse than even Loki realises. Loki hasn't forgiven him for stopping him collecting the Infinity Stones (in Infinity Countdown Prime).

Logan says he's here to help Loki escape. He's promised to help the Celestials cure the Final Host of the Horde infection in exchange for Loki, but really he doesn't intend to do it. At this point we realise this is the future Phoenix/Wolverine from Jason Aaron's current Thor series, and he uses his Phoenix power to attack the Space-Gods. and also show us a vision of some of the things in the near future:- Sub-Mariner and his warsharks. Iron Fist fighting Hand ninjas. Punisher looking like an armoured knight with a sword. Man-Thing holding Thor's hammer and Iron Man's helmet. Moon Knight at the head of a horde of mummies. Malekith gloating over a burning Earth. Hyperion and Ursa Major. And scattered through it all many hands bearing the Starbrand. He sends Loki back to Earth with a message for the Avengers that they need to recruit more members.

Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), another Agent Of Wakanda, is invading Dracula's castle in Romania. She was only supposed to be doing reconnaissance for their target, but she's spotted and has to fight off bats and vampires so she decides to go for the rescue. Inside she finds captive Blade and invites him to join the Avengers.


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David Marquez
David Marquez
Justin Ponsor
Ed McGuinness (Cover Penciler)
Ed McGuinness (Cover Inker)
Marte Gracia (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Agent Coulson
Agent Coulson

(Phil Coulson)
Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel

(Carol Danvers)
Loki
Loki

(Loki Laufeyson)
She-Hulk
She-Hulk

(Jennifer Walters)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Thunderbolt Ross
Thunderbolt Ross

(Thaddeus Ross)
Ursa Major
Ursa Major

(Mikhail Uriokovitch Ursus)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)
Wolverine
Wolverine

(James Howlett)

Plus: Andromeda, Bloodtide, Chernobog, Crimson Dynamo (Dmitri Bukharin), Darkstar, Echidna, Gabe Reyes, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), Gorilla-Man, King Crab, Manowar, Orka, Perun (Lord of the Storm), Red Widow, Vanguard, Vostok.