The two issues of Avengers covered in this post finish up the storyline introducing Rage and involving the Tetrarchs of Entropy (which would make an awesome name for a death metal band) that began in issue #327. Captain America has a more active role in the first part, stepping back to supervise in the second, but to make up the difference we also have some minor appearances in West Coast Avengers and Web of Spider-Man.
Avengers #330 picks up where the last issue left off: The frontline Avengers are trapped in another dimension (the same one as in issues #327-328) with their only escape plan (the one they used before) taken away.
Vision comes through with an ingenious plan to free Mjolnir, which Cap explains to him after it succeeds before questioning whether he should risk his life to do it again to free Sersi…
…but Vision proves his heroism by paraphrasing Spock’s monologue from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (Not quite, but close enough.)
For some reason, though, Sersi’s prison shatters before She-Hulk even takes a whack at it, and the Tetrarchs of Entropy appear before them, praising our heroes for their ability to work together and willingness to sacrifice for each other… but Cap dismisses this, choosing instead to assert moral absolutes, however appropriate, before leading the team in an attack. (Gee, you write an entire book arguing that allegations of Cap’s simplistic black-and-white moral thinking are wrong and then he goes and says stuff like this!)
Well, the charge was impressive nonetheless. (Go team!)
The Tetrarchs split the team and transport each “half” to a different location to have them fight creepy monsters (and Skrulls)… but Cap characteristically refuses to treat them poorly just because they are creepy monsters (and even Skrulls), and reaches out to them, only to be attacked. (“This doesn’t refute my point,” he says through the choking.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Legion of Substitute Avengers is making plans of their own, but their new initiates need to be initiated first, including providing their secret identity (if they choose) in a secure process, starting with the Tony Stark Avengers Initiation Video.
I assume this deters most applicants. (Tony’s video can’t be as good as this, though.)
Back in the Dimension of Exile, the two mini-teams of Avengers continue to fight their respective gruesome foes, until Cap and Thor recognize some patented dance moves…
…and Cap figures out that the two groups of Avengers are actually fighting each other, each side seeing the other as creepy monsters (and Skrulls). Once they break the illusion, they connect with the Tetrarchs about their common foe, Ngh (the head creepy monster who broke out of the Dimension of Exile into the Avengers’ dimension in the last issue, only to head to Rage’s grandmother’s house, where he summons Rage, a storyline which dominates most of the next issue).
When the first-string Avengers return to their dimension, courtesy of the Tetrarchs, they’re still not quite sure what’s going on, and Thor sees through their pseudo-philosophical gobbledygook. (I hope no one sees through mine!)
In Avengers #331, Rage takes Black Widow, Vision, She-Hulk, and Quasar to Granny Staples’ house to confront Ngh and his monster squad, while Thor and Sersi return to the Dimension of Exile to look for something to use against Ngh. Cap is supervising from Avengers Headquarters and reaching out to the superhero community for answers…
…and gets a response from Doctor Strange, who unfortunately has never heard of the Tetrarchs of Entropy.
Oh no… they’re philosophers?!
In the end, Thor and Sersi find something—or someone—who confronts Ngh, and together (literally) they defeat the Tetrarchs. But it appears there are still philosophers at large, if the exchange below is any sign.
True, rationality is a tool that can be used for good and evil, but is all too often equated with good itself, or else (like above) used to excuse deviations from it by justifying ends themselves.
After Quasar flings the Tetrarchs into the Dimension of Exile, Cap conveniently forgets the earlier part of the story when Sersi and Mjolnir were trapped and Vision had to risk his life to free them.
And now that Ngh and his monster minions are gone, Granny Staples has a talk with her beloved Elvin… I think she and Cap would get along wonderfully.
At the end of the issue, Thor gives an interview to the press, mentioning Plan D (as seen as issue #327), which a certain someone finds intriguing.
We’ll get to that in due course (in the next two issues)… in the meantime, in West Coast Avengers #69, that team is having their own membership meeting, following the new charter adopted in Avengers #329, and it starts with a message from Cap, letting his friends in on the East Coast team’s new line-up.
Hawkeye takes the opportunity to taunt USAgent, who assumes he’s got a place on the new team due to his government assignment… but USAgent forgets that the Avengers are no affiliated with the United States government. Cap is sorry to help break the news…
…but Clint is anything but sorry to hear it.
Finally, in Web of Spider-Man #75, New York City is hit by a massive blizzard, which even the God of Thunder cannot order away, while Cap coordinates efforts with the Fantastic Four. (This is not the most exciting part of this comic, luckily.)
In Web of Spider-Man #76, Cap continues liaising, focusing the Avengers on helping civilians on the ground… and above it when necessary.
I guess Doctor Strange feels bad about not helping above, so he just stopped answering the phone… and when the Thing pulls Reed away, we’ll take the opportunity to bow out with Cap.
Both collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: The Crossing Line.
West Coast Avengers (vol. 2) #69, April 1991: Roy Thomas and Dann Thomas (writers), Paul Ryan (pencils), Danny Bulanadi (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: West Coast Avengers: Along Came a Spider-Woman
Web of Spider-Man (vol. 1) #75 (April 1991): Tony Isabella (writer), Alex Saviuk (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Rick Parker (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Web of Spider-Man (vol. 1) #76 (May 1991): Tony Isabella (writer), Alex Saviuk (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Bob Sharen (colors), Rick Parker (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Not yet collected.
PREVIOUS ISSUE: Avengers #329 (February 1991)