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Avengers West Coast #61

August 1990
Roy Thomas, Paul Ryan

Story Name:

The Immortus imperative

Reviews & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

By Rob on December 5, 2017

The Legion of the Unliving derive from Av#131-132 and Giant-Size Av#3, and a different bunch from Av Annual #16. Hawkeye should remember both of these groups as well as Iron Man, and Dr Pym and Wasp were there for the 2nd incarnation too. On the other hand it's a wonder that they recognise them at all as this team appears to share only 1 member with each of the others - 'Human Torch' from the 1st and Swordsman (plus a different Black Knight) with the 2nd.

John Byrne created this version of the ancestry and origin of Kang in FF#273 in an epilogue to the tale of Nathaniel Richards's move to an alternate timeline. Previously (from FF Annual #2) the theory had been that his ancestor with a time machine was Dr Doom.
In FF#273 the alternate timeline wasn't a divergence from the current Marvel reality. As such it didn't have a past with Marvel superheroes in it, and the exciting past younger Kang viewed was more like Wild West gunfights. Having him watching recordings of the FF here is an uncharacteristic slip by alternate history Guru Roy Thomas.
When Roy revisits this idea in What If vol2 #39 he will reinstate the gunfight that Kang watches. But he will also give Kang a birthname - Nathaniel Richards in honour of his ancestor.

The idea that Kang would become Immortus was invented in the Celestial Madonna story arc in Av#129-135 and Giant-Size Av#2-4.
The idea of multiple Kangs from alternate timelines was manifested in the Once And Future Kang storyline in Av#267-269 (where Immortus caused *his* Kang to kill off all the others) and expanded into the Council Of Cross-Time Kangs stuff in Av#292-297 (don't ask!).

Avengers Forever will perform a major revision of Immortus' history and motives, some of which I'll mention next issue. Immortus says in this issue that he has often lied previously to hide his true schemes, as in when he told Vision he was the WWII Human Torch. AvF will say he was lying *here*, and will reveal how he managed to get Vision and his previous identity the android Torch to coexist in this period.

Assuming they're the real deal, what happens to the Legion members next?
Grim Reaper will become a permanent zombie from our #65-68. He'll lead 2 more LoyU's in Av#353 and Av(1998)#10-11, at the end of which he's cured of his zombieness.
Black Knight is in the LotU in Av#353, if they aren't fakes.
Swordsman  will be in the LotU in Av#10-11, and then in the Dead Avengers team during Chaos War.
Left&Right Winger wake from their comas in Captain America #383 and commit suicide.
Toro will be resurrected in Av/Invaders #12 and the Torch mini-series.
Iron Man 2020 has been pulled out of time and an alternate timeline. He'll continue to make appearances in that timeline, published next in Thor Corps #2 and his own Graphic Novel.
Oort hasn't been seen outside this issue, but he is mentioned in Av Forever #2.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

The trials and tribulations of Scarlet Witch:- Wanda Maximoff lost her husband Vision when the android lost his human personality. She lost her twin 'children' when they turned out to be merely fragments of Mephisto. She was kidnapped and brainwashed to be 1 of the 7 Brides of Set. After all this she retreated into a coma. Her father Magneto brought her out of the coma (or at least was present when she came out of it) but with a new amoral personality. Last issue when the Avengers West Coast and her brother Quicksilver tried to pry her away from Magneto she fell into a trance-like state. Magneto left but Immortus appeared and claimed responsibility for the trance and much else.

The assembled characters are in the AWC Compound. Immortus boasts of being Master of Time as well as ruler of Limbo, and immune to any attack the Avengers can mount. Dr. Pym suggests the team hear him out, and his ex-wife Wasp suggests they listen to *him*. Hotheads U.S. Agent and Hawkeye (current and previous team leaders) aren't inclined to obey. Clint Barton fires off an arrow which bounces harmlessly off Immortus' force field. Iron Man urges caution too, for Wanda's sake. But her speedster brother Pietro ignores his sprained knee (last issue again) and rushes to attack at the same time as US Agent. However Immortus manipulates time to allow him to step out of the way of even super-fast Quicksilver, who then runs into USA.

Immortus suggests the others just let him take Scarlet Witch and leave. She is vital to a plan he's been building for a long time - a plan that will benefit many timelines, especially this 1. Iron Man says they can't do that, while Wasp whispers to the Inhuman dog Lockjaw to teleport Wanda away. (She obviously didn't believe Pietro last issue when he said Lockjaw had already tried that and failed.) So Immortus reminds them that even without the force field he has now erected SW was (last issue) within an extra-temporal shield which stopped the dog or anyone else affecting her.

The time master gestures and Wanda starts to fade away. This galvanises the team into action, and Wanda returns to solidity as Immortus is forced to deal with them. Leaving Lockjaw behind he transports himself and everyone else to Limbo.

But an immaterial image of Immortus remains, observed by someone else.

Once in Limbo Immortus summons some enemies to keep the Avengers busy. Iron Man (still pretending to be a replacement - the 3rd incumbent counting James Rhodes as #2) says he recognises them from the original's description - they are the Legion of the Unliving. And this bunch of dead people have been specifically chosen for individual Avengers. Wasp claims they aren't the real thing, just simulations. (The Marvel Chronology Project agrees, but the Marvel Wiki and comicbookdb.com list them as real.)

Wonder Man, who remembers being 1 of the 1st Legion even though he was in a coma not dead, has to face his brother Eric Williams - Grim Reaper who died in our #2. (He was resurrected as a zombie by Nekra in Vision & Scarlet Witch v2 #12, and she was still toting his corpse around in Web of Spider-Man #46.) Here in Limbo the Reaper's scythe can cut or electrocute Simon Williams which it couldn't in the real world, so WM has to fight back. The struggle continues until Simon's resistance snaps Eric's neck.

Iron Man has his future great nephew Arno Stark - Iron Man 2020, whose armour and weaponry prove superior. But the original man within the current armour won't give in and eventually smashes the cheap copy.

Hawkeye meets the Swordsman, the man who nurtured his archery skill. And who started out a villain but died an Avenger. Clint taunts the Swordsman about using the gadgets Mandarin enhanced his sword with, and Swordsman says Barton would be nothing without the hi-tech arrows Tony Stark provided him as an Avenger. Swordsman easily knocks aside Hawkeye's arrows with the blade of his sword, but the last 1 electrocutes him when he hits it.

For Dr Pym it's Black Knight (Nathan Garrett) 1 of his earliest foes as Giant-Man (in Tales to Astonish #52). Henry Pym enlarges his shrunken Rover craft from 1 of his pockets. When BK blasts that with his power lance HP leaps out using his jet-pack. He reminds his foe that he repented his evil ways as he died. But this has the effect of panicking the Knight as he remembers falling to his death from his horse (in Tales of Suspense (Iron Man) #73). And causing him to repeat the fall.

US Agent's foes are Left-Winger and Right-Winger, erstwhile partners of his who he left in a coma after they killed his parents - like Wonder Man was they're not dead. (USA had been brainwashed to forget about his parents' death. He only recently remembered everything about it in Captain America #320/2-382/2.) They come at him from either side with pointy stalactites (or stalagmites). He trips 1 with his shield, dodges out of the way, and they stab each other to 'death'.

Similarly if it's the android Human Torch Jim Hammond that Wasp gets to fight, then he's currently just deactivated back at AWC Compound. But we learn that it is Torch's young partner Toro here now, and it was also him in the 1st Legion. The android HT was never dead, but Thomas 'Toro' Raymond was killed by Mad Thinker in Sub-Mariner #14. (The identification of Toro here is disputed.) Confused Wasp is about to be killed.

The last member of the Legion is Oort the Living Comet who claims to have fought Quicksilver in the 50th Century, which Pietro knows nothing about. And he easily blasts his foe by pretending to threaten his inert sister.

Meanwhile back in the Compound we learn that the person speaking to the shade of Immortus is Agatha Harkness, Wanda's mentor in witchcraft, and it is her spell which keeps the doppelganger here. She says that she knows as well as he does that Earth's alternate timelines are unravelling, but she's far from sure she trusts him to save them. Miss Harkness invokes the triple-goddess to force the image to tell her Immortus' plan.

1st she's treated to a recap of his origin and pre-Immortus career.  The 30th Century on an alternate Earth was boringly peaceful. Proto-Immortus was fascinated by recordings of the age of heroes, especially the Fantastic Four because Reed Richards' father Nathaniel was *his* ancestor too. Nathaniel Richards had gone to this alternate Earth and married a woman named Cassandra (in FF#273).

Proto-I learned that NR had built a time machine and hidden it. He found it, redesigned its outer casing to be the Sphinx, and went back to Ancient Egypt to rule as Pharaoh Rama-Tut (details from FF#273 again). The FF defeated him (FF#19), and he fled to the future to become Kang the Conqueror. Kang's time-travelling produced multiple versions of himself in different timelines. But eventually 1 of them became Immortus.

Immortus took over the realm of Limbo to study the nature of time. We learned in Thor #282 that he was visited by the 3 beings (here called the Time-Keepers) from the end of time, who appointed him guardian of time between 3000 BC and 4000 AD - the period of Rama-Tut and Kang's activities. He was charged with monitoring time travel in that period, and in particular untangling the mess caused by multiple time-travelling Kangs.

The shade tells Agatha how he has been deleting divergent realities (we see ones from earlier issues plus the timeline in Av#101 where Leonard Tippit caused World war III). He also says his interest in Scarlet Witch is because she is a nexus being who belongs to all possible timelines. Through her he can control and safeguard all realities.

He reveals that all of his previous actions have been designed to bring Wanda under his control. He 1st tried to break up the original Avengers because SW would be easier to manipulate if she didn't join them. He sent the Space Phantom in Av#2 (we learned that SP was his minion in Thor #282), and tried himself in #10. After Wanda became an Avenger he changed tactics. He convinced the Vision that he was really the WWII android Human Torch during the Celestial Madonna affair, which ended with the now securely confident Vision marrying Wanda. This led to the Witch magically conceiving 2 children. All this was so that she could be devastated later by the loss of husband and children, and the trauma would make her vulnerable to his domination.

He goes into more detail:- He it was who influenced Vision to take over the world's computers (for the good of humanity) (Av#241-254), and then prompted the world's security agencies to retaliate by taking the android apart (our #42-45). When he was rebuilt his emotions were lost, including his love for Wanda. Then Immortus claims he made certain she was 1 of those chosen to be a Bride of Set (Atlantis Attacks), to undermine her self-confidence. But he wasn't responsible for her capture by That Which Endures (#47-49), which increased that feeling. But he *was* an influence on Master Pandemonium kidnapping the children (and he presumably knew that Mephisto would come to claim them as parts of himself) (#51-52). And Agatha Harkness explaining how the twins were never real tipped SW over the edge into the hate-filled version of her now. (Magneto's involvement at that point was a minor irrelevance.)
(Note that The Marvel Chronology Project follows author John Byrne's own instructions and has Atlantis Attacks after #52.)

And the Unliving Legion vanish (before Toro can kill Wasp) as Miss Harkness works out what Immortus' aim really is.

Elektra


Roy Thomas
Paul Ryan
Danny Bulanadi
Bob Sharen
Paul Ryan (Cover Penciler)
Paul Ryan (Cover Inker)
Howard Mackie

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hawkeye
Hawkeye
Iron Man
Iron Man
Quicksilver
Quicksilver
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch
Toro
Toro
Wasp
Wasp

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Avengers West Coast, Black Knight (Nathan Garrett), Dr. Pym (Henry Pym), Grim Reaper, Immortus, Iron Man 2020, Left-Winger, Lockjaw, Right-Winger, Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne), U.S. Agent, Wonder Man.