Avengers Inc #1: Review

Sep 2023
Al Ewing, Leonard Kirk

Story Name:

Case Number: 001 The Man Who Wasn't There

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers Inc #1 Review by (September 15, 2023)
We've already seen in their latest series that the Jarvis Lounge is the base for the current version of the Avengers (since their previous HQ, the dead Celestial called Avengers Mountain, went walkabout at the end of the previous series). Now Jan's voiceover tells us that her money built the Lounge. Only the top floor is Avengers HQ. Below that is a bar for costumed heroes to hang out. (Well the villains have long had the Bar With No Name.)

It's been a while since Wasp was a regular Avenger but she pops up very regularly. Most recently she teamed up with Sub-Mariner in Avengers Unlimited Infinity Comic #39-42, and with the other Wasp (Nadia) in the Wasp mini-series where she finally got revenge on the Creature From Kosmos for the death of her father way back in her debut in Tales To Astonish #44.

Whirlwind was an early foe of Ant-Man & Wasp as Human Top in TTA#50. He was 1 of their few repeat foes and he followed them into the Avengers as Whirlwind in their #46, successfully posing as Charles Matthews and getting a job as Jan's chauffeur. It was in that role that he developed a 'crush' on her during Ant-Man's run in Marvel Feature.

Anaconda 1st appeared as 1 of Sidewinder's Serpent Squad of snake-powered villains in Marvel 2-In-1 #64-66. As the Serpent Society they featured heavily in 80's-90's Captain America. Her latest app was Av(2018)#55 where Mephisto had corrupted the Society.

Johnny Horton was transformed into the Griffin by the Secret Empire in Amazing Adventures (Beast) #15. He's had a spotty career, often as part of a larger group of villains. Eg in his last app in MODOK: Head Games #2 and before that several issues incarcerated with Captain America in the Myrmidon prison.

Icemaster is a minor villain who was part of the Masters Of Evil in Thunderbolts #24-25. His last app was in a group in another prison in Gambit (2012) #17.

Piledriver has been 1 of the Wrecker's Wrecking Crew since Defenders #17-19. His career with them last reached Amazing Spider-Man (2022) #31.

Quicksand debuted in Thor #392. This female version of Sandman was last seen in X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #13-17 where she'd been somewhat reformed by Juggernaut in his (2020) #5 as part of his Unstoppables group.

Scourge Of The Underworld 1st showed up in Iron Man #194 killing Enforcer. His assassinations of minor supervillains with the statement "Justice is served" took place in multiple titles, but more in Captain America than anywhere else. It took a while before it became clear that it wasn't always the same person but an organised group.

Victor Shade has similar powers to the android Vision who also sometimes uses that alias, but the 'scientific' basis for them is different. And I believe the pair will meet next issue.

Henry Pym is supposed to be dead. He merged with Ultron in the Avengers: Rage Of Ultron graphic novel. Ultron banished him to Soul World in Infinity Countdown Prime, and Hank's soul got consumed in IC#5. It is generally considered that A:ROU was the 1st comic after the 616 universe got restarted after Secret Wars. So it shouldn't be possible to have him resurrected by the rebuild as some other chars have been.

Eric O'Grady is supposed to be dead too since Secret Avengers (2010) #22. He was at that point replaced by an LMD who became known as Black Ant. He's still around so maybe it's him.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Inc #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In the Raft prison Whirlwind (David Cannon) is minding his own business in his cell when someone calls him by both names and shoots him in the forehead, adding "Justice is served".

Next day Janet Van Dyne (Wasp) comes to view the body of her long-time foe, and 5 other inmates who were killed the same way at the same time. The security guard who accompanies her sheds no tears over them even though Cannon wasn't charged with a capital crime and was only in jail awaiting trial.

Later she hosts Mayor Luke Cage in the Jarvis Lounge. We learn that the other victims are Anaconda, Griffin, Icemaster, Piledriver and Quicksand. 3 of them were also only in pretrial detention. There have been no autopsies yet but surveillance shows nothing while the words "Justice is served" are heard in all cases. As Edwin Jarvis serves coffee they wonder if that catchphrase indicates the Scourge Of The Underworld organisation is back in action. Luke reminds Jan that the previous Mayor Kingpin instituted a ban on costumed vigilantes in New York, which is still in place because of public opinion. He posits that someone might think the same should apply to the bad guys.

But Mayor Cage is angry that this someone is applying the unsanctioned death penalty to criminals who didn't deserve it. He reminds Jan that as former leaders of the Avengers they both know that the team was created to fight for anyone who suffers injustice. (And her voiceover has already reminded us that she *named* the Avengers.) She knows that he's right but she's still reluctant to take the 'case'. She asks him if it's a job for his Thunderbolts. But he replies that they are only allowed to respond to large-scale public emergencies. The rules say that the best he can do in this case is appoint a special investigator. Wasp is wavering but says that she's *not* a hero for hire (as Cage used to be). Luke counters that she *may* want to take payment when she hears that it's a no-costume job (public opinion again). Giving in at last she tells Jarvis to open Wardrobe Zero - containing civilian clothes she used to wear that were made from unstable molecules that would shrink/grow with her and allow her wings to unfurl. Shocked Jarvis warns her that they're months out of fashion.

Suitably attired she goes to visit the Warden of the Raft. Whirlwind was in prison because he attacked her in her 2023 mini-series. The Warden thinks he may have been killed by the WHISPER organisation that forced him to attack her. Jan thinks it's possible but doesn't fit with the other 5 victims. She leans more towards the Scourge theory. He points out that not only was the killer able to enter locked cells invisible he would have to use super-speed to commit all 6 crimes moments apart. He asks Ms Van Dyne who could do all that. Jan says she needs to look at the bodies.

Back in the morgue the bodies haven't even had autopsies. The guard says that they aren't equipped to work on non-humans (strange since they're a prison for superchars, and some of the vics are reasonably human). The release papers have already been signed for her to take them away if she wants. But instead Wasp shrinks down to closely examine Cannon's bullet hole. She comments that a bullet wound is normally burned and bloody but this 1 is clean-cut (and we notice that it's diamond-shaped). The guard asks if that means it was a special cold gun. Neither of *them* notice Quicksand's sand-based body oozing out of her 'coffin' while Jan wonders what kind of movement wouldn't trigger an alarm.

Now she suggests that she should take up the offer of taking Davey Cannon's body home to look at the bullet inside him. The guard suggest they just dig the bullet out of the pile of sand that was Quicksand. That triggers another thought for Jan - what kind of bullet would kill QS? She also finally notices that 1 large patch of blood on the floor is strangely square. And now there seem to be eyes looking out of it. But meanwhile the guard has noticed Quicksand's empty clothes ...

... and the villainess attacks the guard (but not from the pool of blood) who's not wearing special sand-proof armour. Until little flying Wasp attracts her attention with a bioelectric sting. QS wants to know what's going on and thinks she's in a lab being experimented on, which clues Jan in that this wasn't an elaborate jailbreak scheme. Icemaster has also 'recovered' and deduces it's a morgue as he traps the heroine in a block of ice. 3 of the others are also awake. Piledriver realises this means they've been dead, which explains his headache. Anaconda finds the hole in her forehead, which stings. The giant beast Griffin just roars his anger ...

... and they all want answers from Wasp who doesn't have any as she breaks free of the ice. She notes that Whirlwind *hasn't* woken up, and we see his bullethole blazing red. But she has to try to persuade the others to calm down so they can all figure things out together. However Griffin is more interested in escaping from jail. The others agree but the 1st step is too kill the Avenger. (And we notice that all the bulletholes we can see are diamond-shaped.) Jan realises she needs a miracle ...

... which happens when Cannon wakes up and calls them off. Everyone notices that his eyes are as red as his head-diamond. And Jan can tell that his bearing is different too. Piledriver thinks that Dave just wants personal revenge on Wasp. But the man denies being named Dave, and says he just doesn't like 5 bullies ganging up on 1 person. So when Brian Calusky tries to land a piledriver blow 'Dave' responds - by phasing his hand into his opponent's chest, shocking him unconscious. The man says that when he awoke he just knew that he could alter the speed of his molecules to change his density.

Jan seizes the moment to launch a counterattack. She Wasp-stings Icemaster to goad him into firing an ice-blast which she dodges to let it hit Quicksand, quick-freezing her. Then she goes human-size to karate-chop the ice covering his neck, hitting a pressure point. But Anaconda wraps 'Dave' in her serpent arms (and he's not yet learned how to change the density of the rest of his body). The dangerous Griffin threatens Jan so she shrinks to flying-size again and stings Anaconda's arm making it relax enough to let 'Dave' stick out a now diamond-hard arm to punch hurtling Griffin painfully on the nose. Anaconda lets go in surprise.

At that point loads of guards rush in. They subdue Griffin with tranquilizer darts and manacle the other villains, accusing them of attempted escape over Icemaster's protest that they were shot in the head. Jan tries to tell them that Cannon saved her life. A guard points out that he's obsessed with her, but 'Dave' says he doesn't know her. And he doesn't know the face he sees reflected in the guard's visor either. And we see that there's only 1 thing he does remember - a man with shaggy hair and beard operating on him and saying that neither of them will remember this. Now he asks the guards why they aren't concerned that 6 inmates were killed and resurrected. He finds it intriguing (as does Jan). And he insists his name's not Cannon but Vic Shade, a name that Wasp recognises.

She immediately goes to the Warden and points out that he's already signed an order releasing David Cannon's body into her care for her investigation. She now demands that 'body' which now calls itself Vic Shade for the same reason. And she's prepared to call in markers with the Mayor to get her way. The Warden reluctantly agrees with conditions. A tracking bracelet, 24-hour supervision, daily reports to himself and he *doesn't* get the Whirlwind costume. That last condition is no problem at all for Jan.

The next panel shows them both with Jarvis and Mayor Cage in the Jarvis Lounge. In return for his backing her she's had to promise Luke to be available for any further costumed murder cases. Which is also fine because it gives the new Avengers Incorporated team of herself and Vic Shade something to do while they're digging into the existing mystery. And in fact Avengers Inc will be open for any superhero mysteries, based here in the Lounge.

The final scene flashes back some hours to an abandoned subway station which houses a lab where 2 men are working in front of a giant mechanical ant but discussing the present events. The old man says he's just cancelled the latest batch who will wake up in the morgue with no memory of what's happened. He regrets using Whirlwind for the required super-speedster - he shouldn't have used someone with a direct connection, and he doesn't want Janet involved. The other guy seems to be Eric O'Grady in his Ant-Man costume, probably the LMD Black Ant. And the old guy from Vic Shade's memory is Dr Henry Pym in *his* original Ant-Man costume.

Leonard Kirk
Leonard Kirk
Alex Sinclair
Daniel Acuna (Cover Penciler)
Daniel Acuna (Cover Inker)
Daniel Acuna (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Edwin Jarvis)
Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Anaconda, Avengers Incorporated, Black Ant (Eric O'Grady LMD), Griffin, Henry Pym, Icemaster, Quicksand, Vic Shade, Whirlwind (David Cannon).

> Avengers Inc: Book info and issue index

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