Avengers #315, West Coast Avengers #56, and Marvel Comics Presents #44 (March 1990)

The issue of Avengers covered here continues the story started in the last issue featuring Sersi and Spider-Man, which ended in a rather apocalyptic fashion with the universe blinking out of existence around our small group of heroes. Also this month, we see Captain America connect with his fellow Invader, the original Human Torch, in a back-up tale in West Coast Avengers, and Cap and Thor share a scene from a Wonder Man story serialized in Marvel Comics Presents.

In Avengers #315, our heroes are adjusting to the lack of gravity while Cap tries to figure out what happened, with a little help from a science whiz who gets a refresher course in basic physics.

After reaching the screen, Cap confirms what Spidey saw at the end of the last issue.

Jarvis recalls the events of the last issue to himself, finishing his thought below as we rejoin the group, who are rather pessimistic about the current situation, with Cap taking to reminiscing about struggles past.

When the Living Legend of World War II and the Prince of Asgard are worried, you know things are bad.

After Spidey adjusts the view on the screen—based on his experience with cameras, wink wink—they see another structure floating in the nothingness, the building with a sign that Cap could Google… if the connection hadn’t been lost. (We in the 21st century know your frustration all too well, Cap.)

Cap asks Sersi to probe the building telepathically, apparently forgetting how drained she is after holding their own structure together when the universe blinked out of existence… or perhaps he simply regards her task as just that important.

After Sersi nearly breaks from what she senses, but nonetheless reveals little of value, Cap apologizes… to Spider-Man, who doesn’t share Sersi’s obligation as a newly signed Avenger.

As if things couldn’t worse, Jarvis reports on the depleting oxygen levels in the room, which Cap hadn’t noticed to his “super-efficient bio-system.” (What can’t the super-soldier serum do?)

At least his short bout of defeatism has passed (unless he’s just getting lightheaded).

Our attention turns to PolyDyne, the research laboratory, commandeered by Nebula, which created the energy flux that erased the world. (Large Hadron Collider, you’re off the hook… this time.) Thanks to our other recovered pessimist, the team makes a surprise appearance, and the battle is joined.

Cap and Thor can protect themselves from Nebula, but Cap’s worried about Spidey, who isn’t on the Avengers health plan.

Cap takes advantage of the fact that Nebula is not familiar with Earth slang, especially as it relates to strategy.

Cap discovers the source of the energy flux and suggests Thor try to counter it, to which the Thunder God responds with an inspirational phrase worthy of a poster in your workplace break room.

(Take that, Yoda.)

Before we get too carried away, we should see how the Odinson fares (he who has faced Galactus, Surtur, and the Mangog, not to mention his father).

Cap’s words are very supportive, but he knows this is another sign of dire things to come.

Luckily, one of the scientists tells Spidey there is a way to deactivate the machine creating the flux, but Nebula kills him before he can explain, so Cap enlists another one of the staff to figure it out instead.

Thor would seem the natural choice for this mission, but he’s occupied with Nebula, so it is up to Cap, who is very aware of what he’s signed up for but does not flinch.

Ah, I remember my first MRI too… pretty scary!

When Spider-Man happens to float by, Cap tells him to pull the plug…

…which he does, with significant effort, and everything returns to normal. (It was very dramatic, trust me.)

Cap and Thor congratulate the wallcrawler, casually referencing the consequences if he hadn’t pulled the plug in time, and then Spidey realizes that his having saved the entire universe will not make the morning papers. (“Once a menace, always a menace,” I always say.)

The curtain falls on the first act, but the story continues in the next issue as the team pursues Nebula.

Meanwhile, the back-up story in West Coast Avengers #56 fills in a missing detail from the recent “Atlantis Attacks” crossover: the first meeting of Captain America and the original Human Torch since the early 1940s (before they casually attended a meeting together in Avengers Annual #18 like there was nothing historic about it).

Our short tale begins with Cap becoming aware of a problem, disturbingly aquatic in nature, but that is not the only reason Sersi came to see him this day.

Heeeere’s… Jim!

Cap loses control and expresses emotion, for which he quickly apologizes, blaming his newfound modernity. (Sersi, on the other hand, apologizes for nothing, including finding someone to make Cap jealous.)

She also lets it be known that she is more than familiar with the World War II exploits of the Invaders—as are we, but John Byrne draws them so brilliantly, so I show them below—before the memories become mournful.

Of course, we know that both return much later, but Cap’s and Torch’s pain now is all too real. (Toro died in 1969, though—Cap hadn’t heard? Maybe a senior moment…)

On the bright side, their grief leads Cap to wonder if adopting young sidekicks was ever a good idea (a topic I discuss in reference to the most famous sidekick ever in Batman and Ethics).

Jim argues hey, they had a blast, those spunky kids who both got killed, but Cap is not completely persuaded… so Sersi changes the topic, prompting thoughts of an Invaders reunion, until Iron Man spoils the party.

(He’s not, as we know.)

Finally, in Marvel Comics Presents #44, Cap and Thor come upon a fallen Beast in the grass…

…and Cap suggests calling their doctor, whom I assume is still Keith Kincaid, Odin’s model for Donald Blake and the husband of Jane Foster.

Once again, Cap is reminded of Bucky, due to the Enchantress’s responsibility for the Beast’s condition (and her previous involvement with Baron Zemo, who was responsible for Cap and Bucky’s “death” in 1945 as well as Wonder Man’s origin).

When Cap and Thor find the Enchantress, Cap falls back on his old-fashioned chivalry before he discovers that Wonder Man is under her control.

Both Avengers are defeated and captured, only to be saved by the lead character in the next issue (by the same creative team), from which there is one set of panels that any Thor fan should find disturbing.

Apparently being granted the powers of a god by the Enchantress also makes Simon worthy? (I don’t think so.)


Avengers (vol. 1) #315, March 1990: John Byrne (writer), Paul Ryan (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Christie Scheele (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in Spider-Man: Am I an Avenger? (and eventually in volume 19 of the Avengers Epic Collection).

West Coast Avengers (vol. 2) #56, March 1990, “Reunion”: John Byrne (writer and pencils), Paul Ryan (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Both collected in Avengers West Coast Epic Collection: Darker Than Scarlet

Marvel Comics Presents (vol. 1) #44, March 1990, “Stardust Memories (Part 7) – WIpeout”: Michael Higgins (writer), Javier Saltares (pencils), José Marzan (inks), Tom Vincent (colors), Kenny Lopez (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Not yet collected.

PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #314 (February 1990)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #368 (March 1990)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #316 and Silver Surfer #36 (April 1990)

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