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Avengers Annual #2000: Review

May 2000
Kurt Busiek, Norm Breyfogle

Story Name:

The cat came back

Review & Comments

Rating:
4.5 stars

Avengers Annual #2000 Review by (April 17, 2020)
The pencilling and inking for Chapter 2 is by Richard Howell.

The All-New It's Amazing TV show with Mac Sanders and Diane Cummings previously appeared in Avengers v3 #0 and the Avengers Two: Wonder Man & Beast mini-series.

Patsy Walker's real comics ran from backup tales in Miss America magazine in 1944 to the end of the Patsy And Hedy comic in 1967. Her own headline comic ran continuously from 1945 to 1965, from Timely though Atlas to Marvel eras, even when the super-hero comics were all discontinued.
As well as Patsy Walker and Patsy and Hedy comics there was Patsy And Her Pals and a single issue of A Date With Patsy.
As well as having strips in Miss America and Teen Comics she also showed up in other teen comics and even a 1948 Captain America story.
Hedy Wolfe, 1 of Patsy's regular cast and co-star of Patsy & Hedy, also had 1 issue of her own title.
And even schoolteacher Miss Bliss got 4 issues.
For most of the run Patsy was portrayed as a High School girl, but in 1964 she graduated and moved into the young romance field.
I believe Patsy's stable of comics was kept very separate from the comics centred around Millie The Model. She only guest-starred once in Millie The Model in 1961. (But Millie had a couple of backup tales in Patsy's comics, and did cameo or guest-star a few times.)
This issue suggests there was merchandise and a TV Show. But I think that's updating her life to a more modern era, and the real comics didn't spin off into anything like that.

Patsy Walker's 1st app in a Marvel era super-hero comic was at Reed and Sue's wedding in Fantastic Four Annual #3 before the end of her own comics, and her Amazing Adventures and Avengers apps were only a few years after the end. So it was natural to assume then that her comics in our universe were *her* adventures in the 616 universe in the same way that Avengers comics are about the Avengers. She wasn't old enough then to have been a teenager in 1944, but since she was in High School in the comics from 1944 to 1964 there must have been some sort of sliding timescale going on.
However Defenders #89 changed all that when it said that Patsy's comics existed in the 616 universe and were written by her mother. Ma started writing a teenage future for her much younger daughter, and kept writing it as Patsy grew into it. This sort of solved the problem of the long High School career, but not 20 years of it!
The idea of  Patsy's life being written into comics persisted, but the official Sliding Timescale system must now have totally divorced Patsy from the 40's and even the 50's. Especially as this issue says she isn't yet 25 years old (even allowing for the fact that years in Hell probably don't count).
The Marvel Fandom Wiki reads Def#89 as suggesting that from a certain point Patsy's comics stopped being her mother's fantasy and became 'our' comics about the 'real' her. They have the 1st 'real' app as the guest-app in Millie The Model #103 (July 1961) (on Patsy's own page, but there are at least 2 other opinions mentioned elsewhere). The Marvel Chronology Project agrees with the idea but dates the transition later to Patsy Walker #114 (April 1964) (Buzz Baxter proposes) and Patsy & Hedy #95 (August 1964) (their graduation) which the MCP intertwines with PW#115 (June 1964) (Buzz joins the Army). Ie the High School stuff is out and the post-HS is in.

Hedy Wolfe's only app since the wedding of Patsy & Buzz (in flashbacks) is a tale in Marvel Fanfare #59 where Patsy and husband Daimon Hellstrom visit her home town.
Tom Hale and Nancy Brown were regular chars in PW's comics and showed up in MF#59.
Mickey Walker and John Wolfe wre regular chars.
Miss Bliss started as a Junior School teacher in Meet Miss Bliss #1-4, which didn't involve any PW chars, then moved to be a regular PW char.
Donald Grant and Mary Meeke were chars in Meet Miss Bliss, and Periwinkle Potter was the Junior School Principal there. They didn
Rod could be the PW char the MCP calls Rodney J "Ron" Robbins but the MFW calls Ronnie Robbins. But he's unlikely to be the unfriendly Rodney char in MF#59.
I can't find anyone to match Specs and Susan.

Captain America was last in his #31 as mentioned in the synopsis. From here he will guest-star in Spider-Woman (Mattie Franklin) #15 before returning to his own series for #32 where he'll recall a WWII mission with the Howling Commandos.

Since her last app in this title (#1-4) Moondragon has become a regular in the 2000 Captain Marvel series featuring Genis-Vell in the role. She's here in between #7 (guest-starring Comet Man) and #8-10 (vs the Skrull Intelligentsia).

Hawkeye and Songbird are here on loan from the Thunderbolts between their #40-41 (vs Sandman in Symkaria) and #42-44 (an upcoming crossover with the our team),

There have been several previous (non-magical) versions of the Sons Of The Serpent, but their generic costumes suggest they may really have been the same group just with separate leaders. The 1st 3 groups were in original Avengers #32-33 and #73-74 and Defenders #22-25. Their 4th leader was 1 of the versions of Hatemonger featuring in Av#341-342 plus the War Machine tales in Av West Coast #100 and Marvel Comics Presents #155. Along the way they made generic apps in Av Annual #19 (a backupstory) and the 1994 Captain Marvel(Monica Rambeau) 1-shot.
Chapter 4's title "To smash a serpent" was the title of their 2nd app Av#33.
Their next app will be in the Last Defenders mini-series.

A Son Of The Serpent chants "Ka nama kaa lajerama" (slightly misspelt) here. This comes from Robert E Howard's King Kull story The Shadow Kingdom where he fought Serpent Men. The phrase has been used before in Marvel comics. Originally it was something that Serpent-Men couldn't say, and so could be used to prove you were a real human being. So it's not strange that the Sons Of The Serpent can say it, but it is peculiar that they would use it in a ceremony invoking serpents.

Salem's Seven appeared in 3 Fantastic Four issues but then died in Vision & Scarlet Witch v2 #3 (and were seen as spirits in #5). Vakume's spirit also showed up in Marvel UK's Hell's Angel #2-4. ScW and Moondragon detect that they are mindless pawns here, brought back to 'life' by Daboia.
They will be brought back to real life in 4#25-27.

Russell Daboia basically only appears in this issue, but hew will cameo along with lots of other demons in Journey Into Mystery #627.

In her 1st 3-issue mini-series Hellcat will discover that Mayor Nicholas is Nick Scratch (son and enemy of the Fantastic Four's Agatha Harkness and father of Salem's Seven, last seen in FF#223). They will get involved in a war involving Dormammu, Mephisto, Hellstrom and other Hell-lords.

Iron Man and Scarlet Witch are the only current Avengers in this issue. They are both here fresh from the Magneto: Dark Seduction mini-series. Before that SW helped get Hellcat back from Hell in the Thunderbolts Annual, which followed after our issue #30 for both Avengers.
Scarlet Witch won't have any more apps before our #31, but the Golden Avenger be busy:- He'll bookend his own Bad Blood miniseries, #0.5, #26-32 and Annual 2000 with apps in Black Panther #19 and a Deadpool #44/BP#23 crossover, and also New Warriors #9 in the middle.





 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Annual #2000 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Like Annuals of old this story is divided into Chapters. But unlike most of the old-time annuals this only contains 1 new story and no reprints.

Chapter 1: ... and we're back.

The All-New It's Amazing TV show returns from a commercial break and hosts Mac Sanders and Diane Cummings introduce their next guest Patsy Walker, who in her less than 25 years has been a pop-culture icon, a super-hero and a corpse. She's here to promote her autobiography Gidget Goes To Hell. They run through her life and ask her to comment.

1st she was the star of a line of comics that her mother wrote about her and her young friends and other people in Centerville. Patsy explains away the fact that the comics were about real people by telling them that her mother cut all the people into the deal, promising them a lucrative income from merchandising and media rights.

After the comics were over Patsy married her High-School sweetheart Buzz Baxter. Buzz's role as Army liaison to Brand Corporation led her to meet Henry McCoy and learn that he was the newly-furry Beast (Amazing Adventures #13-15). She got divorced and parlayed that knowledge into an introduction to the Avengers (in their #139-141) and donned the Cat's old uniform as Hellcat (#144). They offered her membership (#151) but instead she left to be trained by Moondragon.

She didn't return to take the Avengers up on their offer but rather joined the Defenders (from their #44). During her long run with that team she met Daimon Hellstrom, and they married and resigned (#125). But that marriage also foundered (in the Hellstorm: Prince Of Lies series). Daimon's demonic nature as son of Satan took over and Patsy went mad. In an asylum she was helped to commit suicide by Deathurge.

She spent time in Hell but was recently rescued from there by Hawkeye and the Thunderbolts (in their 2000 Annual, but Hawkeye was *actually* trying to bring back his wife Mockingbird). Since then she's been writing her book and trying to get her life back into order, including possibly going to college.

The Show now has a surprise for Patsy in the shape of her old friend Hedy Wolfe. It turns out that she's become head of what was Patsy Walker Properties Inc (the company set up by Mrs Walker to manage the PW brand) which is now Patsy-Hedy Entertainment. And Patsy is invited to come see what's been done to Centerville where there'll be a gala in her honour.

Chapter 2: Our town

When they get there Patsy is astonished to see that the whole town has been turned into an amusement park. But Hedy says that actually a lot of the place has been retained as an old-fashioned small town where people come for nostalgia holidays. As they drive around in a studio cart Hedy enthuses over the place and ignores Patsy's mixed reactions.

A lot of the old shops are still there from the High School days (of the comics). But Krautmann's Sodas is now run by their friends Tom 'Tubs' Hale and his wife Nan. Then Patsy is reunited by her young brother Mickey. And Hedy's dad shows up along with schoolteacher Miss Bliss and a guy called Rod. She's introduced to new Mayor Nicholas and Resort Manager Russell Daboia. Mickey and Nan join Patsy and Hedy on the rest of the tour. Many of the chars have their own named amusement rides.

Later Patsy pleads exhaustion and goes to her old house with Mickey. She doesn't really like being merchandised again, and she didn't take to Daboia. And she senses something is wrong. When she goes for a stroll Mickey isn't happy that she wants to be alone. Which she isn't for long as old friends Specs and Susan find her. And they are joined by teacher Donald Grant and school nurse Mary Meeke, who are now a married couple.

A crowd forms and suddenly Patsy sees them as demons. Not knowing whether it was real she excuses herself and flees, She thinks to herself that her high heels aren't meant for running, and she'd do better in her Hellcat costume ... and suddenly she's wearing it. Stunned she stops running, and the crowd engulf her again, including School Principal Mr Potter. Hellcat leaps free and acrobatically escapes to the church roof. From there she senses demonic presence in the whole town. She'll need to call in help.

Chapter 3: Enter: the Avengers

At Avengers Mansion Captain America, Iron Man and Scarlet Witch are having a workout in the Combat Simulation Room. Cap and IM can't get through the defences but Wanda Maximoff uses her Chaos Magic to fire some ball bearings to hit the off-switch. Cap quit the team in #25 but has dropped in to update their files with his recent clashes with Hatemonger (CA#25-27) and Count Nefaria (CA#28-31).

Suddenly they get a mental summons from Moondragon telling them that Hellcat needs their help and telling them to meet her in Centerville in an hour. Despite MD's usual arrogant demeanour the 3 rush off in a quinjet to help their friend Patsy. Heather Douglas joins them and says Patsy's Avengers Communicard couldn't get through some interference but MD sensed her distress and contacted her telepathically to find out what was up. The Golden Avenger bridles at her tone but Moonie points out that even as an inactive Avenger she still has the right call on them for help. And when she found only 3 of them at the Mansion she called in some backup. Hawkeye arrives on his 'atomic steed'. He's brought fellow Thunderbolt Songbird along to get to know the Avengers, but can't exactly say why. (An editorial note says it's probably because he's got suppressed memories from the Avengers Forever series of Melissa Gold being a future Avenger.)

They land in the town square to be greeted by Patsy Walker, Hedy Wolfe, Mayor Nicholas and others. Patsy tells them everything's fine, Heather must have sensed a nightmare she had. But Scarlet Witch sends a hex which drives 2 serpentine demons from Patsy and Hedy. Moondragon levitates them and the team to a hill outside town where Patsy explains what happened, including being captured and possessed. She manifests her costume again and uses her new 'demon-sight' to locate the biggest concentration of demon activity at the serpent-shaped roller-coaster. They leave Hedy bewailing the fact that she let demons take over her town, and they return to town.

They find a trapdoor leading under the roller-coaster and within they observe a mystic ritual performed by the Sons Of The Serpent, whose several previous incarnations were white supremacist hate groups with no magical leanings. They are watched by a group of hooded figures with an obvious leader. They have 7 sleeping tourists whose astral bodies hover above them. 1 Son helpfully comments to another that they will bind serpent-demons to the astral bodies and send the people back home to infect others. (And they also reveal that the whole plot still has their usual racist motive.)

Then a Son runs in to warn the others that the Avengers are here, and our team attacks ...

Chapter 4: To smash a serpent

... smashing though an observation window. The Serpents' hooded leader orders his followers to respond with their Serpent Staff weapons. Then he reveals himself to be Russell Daboia. But when the Sons start to fall before the Avengers he turns into a large Serpent Man and unleashes his secret weapon. The other hooded watchers turn out to be Salem's Seven.

Vakume removes the air from Hawkeye's lungs. Hydron's water blasts keep Moondragon from concentrating her mental power. Thornn attacks Iron Man with explosive spines. Reptilla tries to entangle Captain America with her serpentine limbs. Gazelle dropkicks Songbird. And Brutacus menaces Hellcat. But she judo throws him into Vakume and Hydron. Freed Hawkeye KO's Gazelle with a blunt arrow. Meanwhile Cap and IM just deal with their own foes on their own. But then the 7th foe Vertigo makes those 2 dizzy. And Thornn sends his darts to menace Scarlet Witch. Hydron takes down Songbird and Vakume has MD spinning in a whirlwind.

Hedy has followed the Avengers and sees the Serpent-Man boss doing a villain rant saying that as Daboia he duped the Sons Of The Serpent. He doesn't care about their racist plans, His whole purpose is to spread the serpent-demon taint.

Hawkeye and Hellcat are mobbed by Sons as well as Gazelle and Reptilla, but they break free. Clint Barton tags Thornn with an exploding arrow while Patsy karate chops Vertigo. This frees Cap and Shellhead to lay into the Sons and Brutacus. Songbird wallops Vakume with a solid-sound mallet freeing Moondragon. Someone shouts "Avengers assemble" and they take the fight to the foe.

Daboia is now worried that he might lose everything he has set up, and his master will punish him. So he makes another move. He lights a brazier and invokes Set within a pentagram. Smoke issues from the brazier and forms snakes which attack our heroes. When they fight back the foe is only smoke, but when the snakes attack they are solid. Despite everything they try the Avengers are losing. But Hedy creeps in behind the Serpent-Daboia and strains heroically as she tips the cauldron over. The burning coals partially erase the pentagram, and a mystic short-circuit takes Daboia and the Salem's Seven away. The Sons Of The Serpent take 1 look at the Avengers and surrender.

Epilogue: Shadows linger

Scarlet Witch reckons that with Daboia gone all the possessed folks will be freed. The Sons are arrested. The heroes all go home but Patsy decides to stay in town. She could attend Centerville University. But she also has new powers. And she was only freed from Hell because of a power struggle between Mephisto and her ex-husband the Son Of Satan, so she figures she may just be a pawn in someone's game. On top of that Daboia's master may still have plans for Centerville.

And we see Mayor Nicholas twirling his villainous moustache.



Norm Breyfogle
Norm Breyfogle
Tom Smith
Carlos Pacheco (Cover Penciler)
Jesus Merino (Cover Inker)
Tom Smith (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Hellcat
Hellcat

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

Plus: Defenders, Diane Cummings, Hedy Wolfe, Moondragon, Nick Scratch, Salem's Seven, Songbird.

> Avengers Annual: Book info and issue index

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