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Force Works #19: Review

Jan 1996
Dan Abnett, Hector Oliveira

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Story Name:

Time Out of Mind

Review & Comments

3 stars

Force Works #19 Review by (April 26, 2012)
These Comment blocks are in reverse order.

This issue establishes that the 'zone' where Vietnam has been taken to isn't the same place as Kang's base (Chronopolis). I guess Kang chooses to build his army on Earth because of our known propensity for producing superbeings. We are never told what happens to the mutated Kim, or indeed the rest of Kang's Anachronaut army. Next in this crossover:- Iron Man vs War Machine in War Machine #22.

Moonraker's story is relatively easy to explain once you accept the Avengers Forever retcon that he is one of Immortus's Space Phantom's. It's all a lie, and Immortus presumably used the Forever Crystal to change Marvel reality without spinning off an alternate reality when he inserted Moonraker into it and took Vietnam away. Including changing everyone's memories, or even the actual past itself. (See my comments on Avengers Forever #3 for the 'rules' on changing the past, and various issues of Avengers Forever for Immortus flaunting them.) Explaining it in terms of the supposed actions of Kang and the Priests of Pama is not so easy. Kang's intention to spirit the whole of Earth away, and in the process gain an army, seems at odds with Moonraker's other claim that removing Vietnam was part of deleting Mantis's past. Not to mention I'm unconvinced why Mantis wants her past deleted. Also, Kang hasn't previously exhibited such a power. On the other hand I could explain that last bit. The Forever Crystal could do it (it seems to be able to do anything). And before Immortus got his hands on it, it was the power source for Kang's Chronopolis, as explained in Avengers Forever #3. So maybe Kang has learned how to tap some of that power. But that doesn't explain how the Priests of Pama could rescue Brandt's spirit and hide it within Slade Truman/Moonraker in another reality. The Priests haven't previously been shown to have mystical powers that would enable them to do any of this. Their friends the Cotati might be able to help them manage it, but I doubt it. And no-one seems to care what happened to the original Slade Truman's spirit. We also don't have an explanation of how the Priests could insert Moonraker into Marvel reality without causing a divergent reality. They don't have access to the Forever Crystal.

Iron Man asks Kang for a temportal to Force Works HQ. This sounds like a request for Luna to give him a lift. But it could also be a request for a permanent portal to be established to the secret basement. Such a portal will be found there in #21. But I can't believe there wasn't one set up already. Especially as Century and U.S.Agent found the secret basement had no entrance in #15. (Except that this is contradicted by Amanda reaching it by elevator last issue, and Force Works members having easy access to it in subsequent issues.) It will turn out that Cybermancer replaced Suzi Endo between Iron Man #321 and Force Works #17. Now we know where Suzi went. This also confirms that Stark knew what was happening. I don't know why they've hijacked the term Siege Perilous from Arthurian mythology. It isn't the Siege Perilous gateway that the X-Men vanished through in Uncanny X-Men #251. Nor is it the circle of standing stones of the same name where Captain Britain got his powers in Marvel UK's Captain Britain #1.

This part of the Crossing crossover follows directly from Avengers #393. The only personal vengeance Mantis has indulged so far is the kidnap of the Cotati Swordsman in Avengers #392. Why does Kang say she used Iron Man for this? And how did that use reveal Iron Man's perfidy to the Avengers? The only way I can construe this is to deduce that Iron Man's activation of the door in the Avengers basement in Avengers: The Crossing was necessary for the kidnapping, but wasn't sanctified by Kang. Maybe the activated door was necessary for teenage Luna to bring Malachi and Tobias to capture the Cotati Swordsman for Mantis. Previously she had only transported herself. (Remember also that Tuc said in Avengers #392 that the kidnapping wasn't supposed to happen.) It was to keep the active door secret that Stark killed Marilla in The Crossing and framed Hawkeye in Force Works #17, which led to the Avengers learning the truth in Avengers #393 about Tony's murder of Rita DeMara in The Crossing. (Note that Stark didn't kill Rita to protect the door, but to prevent her giving the Avengers vague warnings of the imminent future.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Force Works #19 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This part of the Crossing crossover continues from AVENGERS #393.

Malachi and Tobias and the girl who controls the time portal have brought Iron Man to the citadel of Kang and Mantis, as seen in Avengers #393. Iron Man remembers the things he did in blackouts controlled by Kang and Mantis. The two halves of his mind have combined, and the dark side is dominant. But he still feels guilt, especially over his latest crime where he thinks he killed Janet Van Dyne while fully conscious.

The girl, who still hasn't been revealed as a teenage version of Crystal and Quicksilver's child Luna, won't meet Tony's eyes because she expects he knows she is a traitor. She has been paying temporal visits to various Avengers, trying to warn them all the while she has been ostensibly working for Kang.

I don't think Kang realises that Stark feels remorse. I suspect he believes they have switched Tony permanently to his blackout persona. When Luna appeared to Stark in Iron Man #322 she said she was trying to awaken him to what he was doing. Possibly the survival of his good side was her intention. But now she is worried because his bad side will remember her visits.

Tobias says they had to retrieve Stark because his cover was blown. Kang blames Mantis for this, for using Iron Man for personal vengeance. But it seems to me Kang sent for Stark because he wanted him for the task he now sets him.

Kang says the (still unrevealed) enemy is at the gates earlier than expected, and so Stark must go to Force Works HQ immediately and complete the job Kang designed him for.

The only people left in Force Works HQ are Amanda Chaney, Cybermancer, and Spider-Woman's daughter Rachel. Amanda has found a hidden sub-basement with a separate computer system from the future. Iron Man arrives via temporal portal and attacks her because she's seen too much. She flees into another part of the basement where she finds some freezer units. One of them contains Suzi Endo, who is supposed to be Cybermancer. Iron Man kills Amanda, but Rachel overhears through Amanda's communicator.

Iron Man orders the computer to start enacting program Siege Perilous.

Black Widow, U.S.Agent and War Machine get an update from Hawkeye on the events of Iron Man #323 and Avengers #393. That Iron Man is confirmed as the killer of Marilla and Rita DeMara, and that he blasted Jan before escaping. We saw the other end of Hawkeye's call in Avengers #393.

The trio are heading for Force Works HQ in a road vehicle salvaged from the wreck of their Hex ship in War Machine #21. Jim Rhodes uses his alien Warwear armour, gained in War Machine #18, to fly ahead. The armour springs into existence on mental command.

Iron Man and Cybermancer are searching for Rachel when Century returns. Century has been away discovering his extraterrestrial origins in the Century: Distant Suns 1-shot, gone since #15 before the crossover started. Jim Rhodes finds Rachel. Century stops Iron Man shooting the unarmed pair, KO's Cybermancer, and teleports Rachel to safety. Rhodey dons the Warwear and faces Iron Man.

Meanwhile, in the temple of Agaphaur in the displaced Vietnam, Scarlet Witch and Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) are trying to come to terms with Moonraker's claim that he is actually Gustav Brandt, the supposedly dead Libra of the villainous Zodiac. Julia is especially upset as she and Moonraker were lovers. Scarlet Witch sends her to look for Force Works' technician Fisher Todd.

Gustav claims that he really did die. However the Priests of Pama, based in this temple, saved his spirit because he was the father of Mantis, the Celestial Madonna.

He says that Kang has removed Vietnam as part of eradicating all trace of Mantis's past, including the Priests of Pama and the Cotati. The Priests foresaw this, and hid Libra in an alternate reality in Slade Truman, who as Moonraker *was* a member of Force Works and lover of Spider-Woman in that reality. They then transferred him across to the main Marvel reality to warn the Avengers. Dragging Moonraker's history with him. Gustav's memories would only surface when he came to Agaphaur.

Moonraker claims that Kang intends to take over the whole planet as he has stolen Vietnam, by shifting it into this other reality. Because he is 'scared of something'.

Spider-Woman and Fisher Todd arrive with the boy Kim that Fisher rescued last issue, who has mutated into a powerful winged being. Gustav tells them that some humans are given powers when they enter this realm, and Kang is recruiting them for his Anachronaut army. He also says that the Anachronauts they fought last issue were 'sent into this zone to hunt for recruits'. And he can use their technology to get Force Works home.

The Crossing continues in WAR MACHINE (1994) #22.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Hector Oliveira
Rey Garcia
Joe Rosas
Letterer: Jack Morelli.
Editor: Nel Yomtov.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
U.S. Agent
U.S. Agent

(John Walker)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Amanda Chaney, Apocryphus, Century, Fisher Todd, Luna, Moonraker, Neut, Rachel Carpenter, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Suzi Endo.

> Force Works: Book info and issue index

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