These three issues of Avengers show Captain America and his teammates trying to save their fallen comrade Gilgamesh, so they seek out those in the best position to help: his fellow Eternals. But where are they? And what does it have to do with the Negative Zone and Blastaar, , both Fantastic Four concepts, seen on the covers above? And speaking of the FF, we also have an Avengers appearance in their book, although it dates from before Avengers #305 (as we shall see).
Issue #308 begins with the Avengers leaving their subterranean battle (shown in the last issue), but in a very strange golden aircraft, courtesy of the more “enlightened” members of the Lava Men they recently fought—it is shown later that the craft is actually made of said Lava Men—but Cap is not inclined to be as grateful as T’Challa, regarding their “gift” more as a debt repaid.
Cap reminds Panther (and the reader) that Avengers Island was still held high in the air by more, traditional rocky Lava Men… which two former Avengers were dealing in when we last saw them.
As we saw earlier, Sue saved the Avengers’ island headquarters with a forcefield wedge, maintaining it despite tremendous strain until the West Coast Avengers could arrive to help. Now her same power allows the island to gradually lower into the bay as the Tower of Lava Men slowly erodes.
(It makes you wonder who really deserves to have “Fantastic” in their name, hmm Reed?)
Unfortunately Sue and Reed are already on their way home when the Avengers land on the newly restored island, and after Thor uses the medical knowledge of Donald Blake to examine Gilgamesh but comes up short, Cap suggests seeking out an Eternal… and he just happens to know one better than he would like.
Sersi barely has time to get her flirt on before she sees Gilgamesh (also known to the Eternals as the Forgotten One) and realizes the gravity of their situation.
Sersi insists they consult the rest of the Eternals in their Greek home of Olympia (not to be confused with Mount Olympus), but when they arrive, there is nothing but a steaming pit in its place. As issue #309 opens with the Avengers staring into the hole, Cap is sympathetic and supportive, but Sersi goes full drama queen (and she “doth moan”).
Sersi’s reaction is not feigned, though, as she explains to the Avengers what has happened, which leads Cap and She-Hulk to play “tough police detective who just wants answers” and “kind doctor whose crime victim patient needs to rest first.”
Thor coyly admits he knows where the Eternals have gone, because Asgard resides there too (as of Thor #404): the Negative Zone. The God of Thunder uses Mjolnir to open a portal to the strange dimension, where Sersi is able to guide them to Olympia, which is apparently deserted. The team splits into search parties, with Cap paired with his old friend Namor, both of whom are reminded of the aftermath of World War II. (And Cap saves his darkest comment for an acrobatic flip.)
“But at least this abysmal mission gives us a chance to hang,” says Namor, and they think back to their old team the Invaders, especially in light of recent revelations about the original Human Torch.
(Wait until they read West Coast Avengers #50, published this month and also written by John Byrne.)
Cap and Namor are soon attacked—”blasted,” you could say—by an unseen assailant who does the same to other Avengers, and at the end of the issue is revealed to be Blastaar, resident and occasional ruler in the Negative Zone.
In issue #310, Namor comes to and clears the rubble covering him and Cap, complimenting him in a way reserved for him alone… and when Cap reveals he heard every word, Namor does not even flinch, comfortable in his sincerity and his friendship.
Namor rushes off to fight Blastarr, despite Cap’s reservations and advice to be rational.
“Oh, that Namor,” Cap says to himself as he remembers his friend’s legendary temper and impetuousness before engaging in baseless speculation about his origins.
After finding and reviving She-Hulk, Cap and she join Thor and Namor in battle, but Cap sees the rest fall—including Namor being Namor, as noted below—leaving the Sentinel of Liberty alone to face Blastarr…
…and Cap is defiant as ever, despite facing overwhelming odds. (The shield helps, though.)
Cap is surprised that his foe actually knows how to fight—I could say Blastarr’s also a “fightarr,” but that would be stupid. He does have a strange way of returning a compliment, though.
Cap prepares for the deluge, but is saved at the last moment by an Asgardian weapon, although not the one he might have been expecting.
Hey, it’s the Warriors Three, sent by Odin to help his son. (They were in the neighborhood, after all.)
Blastarr flees, but is attacked by “wisps of energy” (in Cap’s words), which slowly transform into the missing Eternals, who survived Blastarr’s… blasts… thank to their Eternalness, as explained by Sersi.
Ironically, this entire affair seems to helped bring Gilgamesh back as well. Thena and Cap conclude with a joint expression of unity…
…with Cap later suggesting that another Eternal might take Gilgamesh’s place on the Avengers, which Sersi does in issue #314.
Meanwhile, the next issue of Avengers starts the title’s participation in the “Acts of Vengeance” crossover, and focuses on Quasar. Despite Cap’s appearance on that issue’s cover, he shows up next in the book itself in issue #312, which we discuss in the next Avengers post.
Finally, in Fantastic Four #333 (which takes place before Avengers #305, for reasons that will soon become clear), the Avengers would like a word with the stars of the book.
Known to the readers of the book at the time, although not the Avengers, is that the Fantastic Four currently operating in New York City are actually clones of the originals, created by the maverick Watcher Aron in issue #328 to replace the originals, but without the real team’s virtuous character traits. Therefore, they act a little… differently, as seen below when they confront Cap and the gang.
As you see, Cap tries to reason with them, appealing to their long friendship, which means nothing to the Fantastic Clones.
Doctor Strange can tell that the Four—actually Five, with Sharon Ventura, but no matter—are not their true selves, and he manages to rule out magic…
…but it takes Cap to nail what’s really going on (somehow).
Needless to say, the situation is resolved and the real Fantastic Four are restored—in time for the Avengers reunion in issue #305—but their public reputation is destroyed. This is the Marvel Universe, though, where all is forgiven awfully quickly, as long as your name is not Spider-Man. (Just remember when the Red Skull extorted Cap into turning traitor in Tales of Suspense #88-91, followed by a collective “no problem, Cap, all’s good.”)
But little Franklin Richards is not so sure, so he pays a visit to the issue’s writer, “John Harkness,” who is at a loss about what to do.
This is a not-so-subtle inside joke, as “John Harkness” is an alias for Steve Englehart, who refused to put his name on this “evil clones” story due to editorial interference. (See Englehart’s own account of this debacle, which stops short of this issue for some reason.)
Not yet collected (but should eventually be included in volume 19 of the Avengers Epic Collection).
Not yet collected (but also, by coincidence, should eventually be included in volume 19 of the Fantastic Four Epic Collection).
PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #305-307 (July-September 1989)
ALSO THESE MONTHS: Captain America #359-360 (October-November 1989), Avengers Annual #18, West Coast Avengers Annual #4, Thor Annual #14, and Fantastic Four Annual #22 (October-November 1989), Captain America #361-362 (November 1989), West Coast Avengers #49 (November 1989), Captain America #363 (November 1989), and Amazing Spider-Man #323-325 (November 1989)