Avengers #345 and Iron Man #278 (March 1992)

We continue the “Operation: Galactic Storm” storyline with the month’s installments of Avengers and Iron Man. (Thor #445, the last comic in the rotation this month, does not feature Captain America at all, which is simply incomprehensible.) With these two issues we see some more significant disagreements between Cap and the rest of his teammates (not just Tony) regarding how far they’ll go in this conflict between the Kree and the Shi’ar, which only build throughout the storyline.

In Avengers #345, Cap and Black Widow compare notes with Hawkeye, focusing on the danger to the sun of this latest intergalactic skirmish.

Having decided (in Wonder Man #7) to summon all the Avengers for a joint meeting, Cap thinks back to earlier days of smaller teams (maybe even a Kooky Quartet or two), to which Natasha responds with a tease, similar to her comments in issue #343, that suggest she knows Cap much better than she should (given that they haven’t worked together that much at this point in time).

Meanwhile, the four Avengers who grace the cover of this issue encounter Shi’ar vessels in space, and after a brief battle they confront the invaders, with Sersi making a promise that will reverberate throughout this storyline…

…starting on the next page, at the big meeting, when Cap finds out about it and blows his top.

I show the entire two-page spread above because I lived for this type of image when I was a kid, but it’s hard to read, so let’s zoom in (a little) on the important parts of the exchange. Sersi fights back, arguing that her behavior was necessary, justified, and perhaps the way of the future for the team, while Quasar was more uncomfortable with it but happy with the results, and the new Thor, Eric Masterson, thought she was kidding. Cap responds by asking if they were, in fact, kidding (although I’m sure he’s afraid of the answer he might get).

Before anyone can answer, though, Hank Pym chimes in with further news he thinks will make things better, but Cap is upset about that too—and he hardly feels better when Janet says it was Tony’s idea! He summarizes his impression of the dangerous path the Avengers seem to be taking: being willing to compromise principles too easily for the sake of expediency. (How hard must Tony be rolling his eyes under his helmet right now?)

Black Widow steers the discussion back to practical matters, which Cap appreciates, and after apologizing to Hank for his anger (but hopefully not his point), he suggests bringing the Kree and Shi’ar to the table…

…while walking a fine line between being a mediator in the dispute and getting involved in it.

Cap splits the larger Avengers assemblage into three smaller teams, starting with the one assigned to confront the Kree.

Cap acknowledges Sersi’s petulant comment in passing and continues with the Shi’ar unit, followed by the members remaining on Earth as protectors…

…which draws a reaction from Hawkeye that reminds us of when he was left off the new roster of the team in issue #181 (right down to the panel layout). He storms off, only to run into Hank Pym, who reminds him of what a big guy he can be (and was, during the Kree-Skrull War, although it nearly got him killed).

When Clint returns to the fold, Cap is the last to notice, but seems more exasperated than upset—that reaction belongs to USAgent, for whom I am sure we all sympathize dearly.

The two space-bound teams head out on their respective missions, and in Iron Man #278, Cap’s team emerges from a wormhole next to an enormous Kree spacecraft. Iron Man helpfully backs Cap up on his plan to just waltz right in, while Clint is the voice of caution—what in the world’s going on?

After R2-D2 unlocks the hatch, the rebels sneak in to the Imperial Cruiser, with Han being snarky as ever.

Heh, MS-DOS… that takes me back. (C prompt forever!)

Tony gets a jab in too, just so we don’t think he and Cap are BFFs now.

Our heroes find the ship strangely empty and silent, so Tony interfaces with the ship’s computers again to get more information… but while Cap tries to calm down his teammates, the “information” comes to them.

These are not the droids they’re looking for, though. (OK, I’ll stop now.)

During the battle, Cap gives his colleagues some advice that I assume means that their foes are out for blood, not money, glory, or world conquest, and possibly that they’re willing to die for their cause, which makes them more formidable—logic that could also be used justify the harsher measures some of his teammates are leaning toward.

Also, the “Shi’ar” soldiers disintegrate when defeated, which removes one standard option in battle, as Cap notes.

As the second wave hits, Iron Man returns and, having learned of Kree reinforcements, rushes off to confront them himself, which perturbs Cap no end.

While Cap and the others finish off the latest batch of enemy forces, Tony isn’t faring too well against the armored Kree soldier Shatterax outside the ship, and was forced to make a quick decision…

…with which he surprises his teammates when he emerges, held captive by Shatterax.

Cap is very disappointed in you, Tony… and don’t think citing a “judgment call” is going to give you an automatic pass, because Thor has played that card too often lately and Cap has had enough!

Check out Captain America #399 to see which trash compactor our heroes get tossed in. (I guess I wasn’t done after all!)


Avengers (vol. 1) #345, March 1992: Bob Harras (writer), Steve Epting (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks and colors), Bill Oakley (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Avengers Epic Collection: Operation Galactic Storm.

Iron Man (vol. 1) #278, March 1992: Len Kaminski (writer), Paul Ryan (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Mike Rockwitz (colors), Michael Heisler (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: Iron Man Epic Collection: War Machine and Avengers Epic Collection: Operation Galactic Storm.

PREVIOUS ISSUES: Avengers #343-344, Thor #444, and Wonder Man #5 (January-February 1992)

ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #398, West Coast Avengers #80, Quasar #32, and Wonder Man #7 (March 1992)

NEXT ISSUES: Avengers #346 and Iron Man #279 (April 1992)

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