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Avengers Annual #2: Review

Sep 1968
Roy Thomas, Don Heck

Story Name:

.. And Time, The Rushing River

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Avengers Annual #2 Review by (February 15, 2010)
First meeting of Hulk with the Black Panther and Hawkeye. Werner Roth is also a penciler in this issue.


Avengers Annual #2 Review by (November 8, 2011)
There are other questions that can be asked about this issue. The first thing that alerts the Avengers that something is wrong is that the aero-car they flew to Doom's castle isn't there (because they didn't exist to fly it there in this alternate reality). But the first Av Index wonders how come Wasp is there. She should be stuck back in the main timeline. It suggests that Immortus moved her there as part of his machinations revealed in WI#29. It is obvious that Cap hasn't been revived in this timeline. That could mean he really died in WWII. Or just that his body has not been found (because Hulk never left the Avengers and teamed up with Sub-Mariner, which led to Namor finding Cap's frozen body). Iron Man doesn't recognise Hawkeye. He isn't shown among the super-beings captured. Neither is Black Panther. Maybe Black Widow never recruited Hawkeye, and the FF never entered Wakanda. But note WI#29 has Black Panther and Hawkeye (and Black Widow) in the roster of captured super-beings. What happens to Scarlet Centurion after this? Watcher says one version of him went on to become Kang. But it has been suggested not the Kang in #8, who didn't list Centurion as one of his past aliases. Kang is known to have multiple alternates. But another Scarlet Centurion may have slipped sideways in time to become the arch-foe of the Squadron Supreme. I must disagree with Peter's rating here. This issue suffers from the lack of John Buscema's artwork. But the introduction of alternate timelines raises it to at least a 4. The confusion of rationalisations that it sparked off adds to its appeal to me, rather than detracts from it.

A later retelling of the final mission in CA: Sentinel of Liberty #12 matches that in WI#5, with a humanoid but no future Avengers while Cap is unconscious. But crucially it has Cap break free of his bonds without help from a mystery shield. This could be denying the truth of #56. Or it could be read as saying that #56 didn't make any crucial difference. It has been suggested that Marvel history is quite resilient, and resists splitting into multiple realities. Small changes can often merge unnoticed back into the original timeline. Ie Centurion may have arrived at the end of Av#2 in the main Earth-616 reality. The latest (3rd) Avengers Index suggests a possible new wrinkle. Flashbacks in CA v5 #3,4,6 add a scene of torture of Bucky that Cap has supposedly forgotten/suppressed. The recent CA Index places this scene later in the story after Cap and Bucky are tied to the drone. The new Av Index claims that modern Cap's shield freed them before this torture. Possibly sparing modern Cap the sight of the torture is why he didn't remember it until later. This supports the idea that modern Cap's intervention triggered a new reality, but reverses the stance of the original Avengers Index. Now the torture of Bucky is in Earth-616's history, and modern Cap's intervention buds off Centurion's timeline(s).

Note that Earth-689 refers to the timeline throughout this Annual from flashbacks onward. As the Watcher puts it in What If #29 the divergence to timeline Earth-8110 is caused by the new Avengers *not* turning up at the beginning of the story. (Anyone who has read a lot about the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics won't be completely astonished by the idea of something being caused by something else not happening.) But a more logical approach would be to declare the What If #29 version as the timeline started by Centurion at the end of #2, and Immortus splits the Annual #2 timeline off that by bringing in the new Avengers. However this kind of question crops up again elsewhere in this tale. In Grant's version Cap didn't cause any timeline splitting in WWII in #56. But the 1st Avengers Index pointed out that Cap's action in #56, cutting his WWII counterpart's bonds, actually caused the alternate timeline which is the real Marvel Universe. In the version before modern Cap's interference WWII Cap and Bucky remained tied to the drone plane and presumably both died. But since the name Earth-616 defines the chronology that leads to modern Marvel, we actually have the non-appearance of the Avengers in WWII in #56 splitting off a new timeline. To summarise, using the accepted designations, Immortus uses the non-appearance of the Avengers to split a new (unnumbered) timeline from Earth-616 in WWII in #56. The timestorm blows Scarlet Centurion into this alternate, and he causes a divergence to Earth-689 when he appears in #2. Then Immortus starts Earth-8110 by not bringing the new Avengers into Earth-689.

This issue suggests that Centurion's alternate timeline was caused by Cap and the Avengers materialising in WWII in #56. And Centurion claims to have orchestrated everything. He influenced Cap to go back in time to see Bucky's death, and he caused Wasp to accidentally make Cap and the other Avengers tangible in the past, which brought them here. He left Doom's time machine in pieces to give the groups of Avengers something to fight over. He fully expected the new Avengers to use knowledge of their old version to defeat them. And now Centurion can easily defeat the weaker new team, leaving him master of a world without active super-beings. Roy Thomas will half support this idea in What If #4 where he shows other heroes taking over the roles of the missing Cap and Bucky. That story starts with a retelling of #56's version of Cap and Bucky's final WWII mission from WWII Cap's POV, complete with a shield mysteriously freeing them from their bonds. However Roy leaves an open question as to whether this is the real Marvel timeline or an alternate. But later stories such as CA Annual #6 have accepted the Spirit of '76 and Patriot versions of Cap as canonical, and hence Cap's intervention in #56 would be part of the main Marvel timeline. Steven Grant in What If #29 will claim more reasonably that the divergence to the new timeline was actually caused by Centurion appearing to the old Avengers at the end of #2. The incidents in #56 that brought the new Avengers to Centurion's timeline were actually initiated by Immortus to thwart Centurion. (Centurion lied, or more likely Roy Thomas reported things wrongly in #56 - based on the fiction that Marvel events are real and comic writers write what they understand to have happened.) The arrival of the new Avengers in this issue splits off another divergent timeline. In the Centurion timeline where the new Avengers didn't appear (Earth-8110), Centurion persuades the old Avengers to disband, and then he turns up inste

Goliath has a mini-breakdown here, possibly a foreshadowing of his mental problems in #59-60. This issue suggests that capturing Nick Fury and friends would prevent the formation of SHIELD. But it was obvious from the start in Strange Tales #135 that SHIELD existed before Fury was invited to be its director. The Avengers, and the rest of the Marvel universe, have known that know Hulk has a human identity as Bruce Banner since Tales to Astonish #77 The Watcher is an alien who observes the events of the universe. He has a local base on the moon as was seen in his 1st appearance in FF#13. His backup story in Tales of Suspense #53 revealed that he is one of a race of Watchers who watch different parts of the universe. With the introduction of parallel universes here we find that he can also see into these multiple timelines. This facility will be the basis of him being the narrator of the tales of alternate timelines in the What If series. Rama-Tut is a time-traveller from the future introduced in FF#19 in Ancient Egypt. Avengers #8 explained that he returned to the future and took the name Kang but on the way dropped in on the 20th Century where he met Dr Doom in FF Annual #2. The Watcher says that after meeting Doom Tut was side-tracked by a timestorm into this adventure. Tut is a simple time-traveller and doesn't actually exist outside of time and space as he claims (although much later Kang will do so). As Scarlet Centurion he only appears to the old Avengers as a projection, presumably from his timeship.

(Confused younger readers should be aware that 'new Avengers' here doesn't refer to the current New Avengers.) This is the 1st Marvel comic to feature an alternate timeline, and introduces the idea that meddling in the past creates such alternates. When such alternate realities began to proliferate they were given numbers. The main Marvel chronology has been dubbed Earth-616. (The number was later retconned to refer to the publication date of Fantastic Four #1, June 1961 rather than the cover date November.) The alternate reality here has been named Earth-689, based on the cover date September 1968 of this Annual (a typical justification for an Earth number). Captain America deduces that they have returned from WWII to an alternate reality (before the Heredotron confirms it). Why doesn't he just think they have returned to the wrong time? (Maybe he spots the discrepancy in costuming, with Iron Man in his latest armour but Wasp in her earliest headgear. And he assumes Roy Thomas and Don Heck would be better at getting those details right than later writer/artists seem to be :-) . But maybe not because in this issue IM goes straight from his bulky gold armour to the current one, bypassing the version with points over the eyes.)



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Annual #2 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
The Avengers return to the present from their journey to the past (in AVENGERS #56) and realize that no one in the street recognizes them. On arriving at their headquarters they receive an even bigger shock--the original Avengers--Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and Wasp--are already there. Each set of Avengers takes the other for impostors and they fight to a standstill. The modern Avengers escape and seek out the lab where the Herodotron computer is housed. Captain America is hooked up to the computer and he discovers the truth: they are in an alternate time line. Here, after defeating the Space Phantom, the original Avengers were approached by the time travelling Scarlet Centurion who promised they could usher in a paradise on Earth--if they would only get rid of all other superpowered beings. The Avengers set out and defeated all the superheroes and then vanquished all the villains, turning into tyrants in the process. Now the modern Avengers aim to stop them by means of Dr. Doom’s time machine. They battle the originals to recover and assemble the three parts of the machine and call up the Scarlet Centurion. The villain fights against them until Giant-Man shrinks to tamper with the time machine, hurling the Centurion into the void. The Watcher appears to inform the Avengers that they knew the Scarlet Centurion as Kang the Conqueror; Watcher then returns the heroes to their own time stream and erases the memory of these events.

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Don Heck
Vince Colletta
John Buscema (Cover Penciler)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Giant-Man
Giant-Man

(Hank Pym)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)
Watcher
Watcher

(Uatu)

Plus: Goliath (Hank Pym), Scarlet Centurion (Kang).