AVALANCHE: Page 2 of 2

Publication Date: 12th Jul 2019
Written By: Mesmerizer.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.


With Mystique later presumed deceased and several other members already dead or missing, the five remaining Freedom Force members (Blob, Avalanche, Pyro, Super Sabre and Crimson Commando) traveled to Kuwait City, in what proved to be the final mission of Freedom Force. Their mission was to locate and obtain a German scientist. Throughout the mission, Avalanche uncharacteristically demonstrated capacity for rational thinking and even empathy. After the team killed some guards without thinking twice about it, he wondered whether they should have tried to apprehend and interrogate them. The mission soon went awry when Super Sabre was killed in action and Crimson Commando was gravely wounded. Injured himself, Avalanche nevertheless found the strength to fight back against their attackers, the mercenary team Desert Sword. When Commando, barely able to talk, begged him for help, asking not to be left behind, Avalanche hesitated for a split second, before carrying his teammate on his back. They were both carried away to safety by a US military helicopter. [The Killing Stroke crossover]

Avalanche and the now cybernetically enhanced Crimson Commando continued working for the government, specifically for Project: Wideawake. They later reunited with Blob and Pyro, now members of a new Brotherhood incarnation, at Empyrean's island base in the Big Pine Keys. Pyro had contracted the Legacy Virus and his Brotherhood teammates were hoping that his good friend Avalanche could offer him emotional support. Avalanche apologized to him for leaving him behind in Kuwait. However, Pyro was soon disappointed to find out that Avalanche and Commando had actually been sent in the island as spies for Project: Wideawake. [X-Men Annual #2]

The two later crossed paths with a new incarnation of X-Factor, which was ironically a government-sponsored hero team meant to replace the now-defunct Freedom Force. [X-Factor (1st series) #102] Around that time, Mystique resurfaced, alive and well. Intent on taking revenge for Destiny’s death by going after her murderer, Legion, she used one of her aliases to secure a travel visa for a certain ‘Jon Bloom’ – none other than Avalanche. Havok and Strong Guy were dispatched to a warehouse in Alexandria, Virginia, which Avalanche used for his secret activities. The two heroes were intent on interrogating him, but Avalanche was able to escape them.

Avalanche travelled to Tel Aviv, where he was to rendezvous with Mystique. When they met, Avalanche burst out, expressing his disillusionment and indignation with how his life had turned out. Most of his former teammates were dead; his closest friend among the Freedom Force, Pyro, was dying from the Legacy Virus. He recalled how he once thought they would be able to do something with their lives and have the world served on a plate. But now, it was all falling apart, his own life essentially reduced to being a pet of the government. Just then, X-Factor and Val Cooper showed up, having tracked down Avalanche’s movements. X-Factor wanted to bring Avalanche and Mystique in for breaking their agreement with the US government. Fed up with Val’s sanctimonious attitude, Avalanche lashed out and triggered a tidal wave against the team, before being taken into custody. [X-Factor (1st series) #108-109]

Avalanche soon escaped from prison for the umpteenth time and returned to his old life of crime, reuniting with Pyro and other Brotherhood members. They were all later involved in a plan that was hinted to be yet another assassination attempt of Robert Kelly. On one occasion, Pyro’s powers went out of control, due to his Legacy Virus infection. As they fought the X-Men, Pyro expressed resistance to go forward with his team’s plan. However, before he could say more, he was swallowed through the Earth, apparently thanks to Avalanche’s powers, which removed Pyro and himself from the premises. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #338]

Avalanche remained by Pyro’s side, supporting him through his battle with the virus. The two criminals were later part of a squad of mutants who became associates of Exodus and the Acolytes, with Exodus promising them the cure to the virus in exchange for tracking down the location of the High Evolutionary. During a fight between Exodus’ team and the Knights of Wundagore, the High Evolutionary’s team, Avalanche came close to being killed by one of the knights, Lord Anon, were it not for a fellow Knight who asked for mercy. Avalanche and Pyro went after the High Evolutionary, seeking the Isotope E that the latter carried, mistakenly believing this to be a cure to the virus. In yet another moving testament to his close friendship with Pyro, Avalanche promised the Australian mutant that he wouldn’t let him down and they would obtain the cure. However, he overestimated his skills and the two mutants and the rest of Exodus’ gang were left empty-handed in the end. [Quicksilver #6-9]

The old dream of assassinating the outspoken mutant hater Senator Robert Kelly was revived when Kelly campaigned for the presidency and in his first speech emphasized that mutants must finally be dealt with. In response, Mystique reassembled the Brotherhood, including several of the veteran members, namely Avalanche and Blob. The team invaded Faneuil Hall in Boston, where Kelly was about to begin delivering a speech, and fought with the X-Men. During the battle, Avalanche expressed his incredulity that the X-Men still protected Kelly, considering he would put all mutants in concentration camps if he were ever elected. Ultimately, the Brotherhood was defeated and Kelly’s life was saved thanks to the unexpected intervention of one-time Brotherhood member, Pyro. Having exerted the last vestiges of his strength, the dying Pyro implored Kelly to end all this hatred and fear. Pyro then succumbed; the tragic irony of it all was that Avalanche was incapacitated nearby and missed being by his best friend’s side as he passed. [Dream’s End crossover]

With Pyro dead and Kelly assassinated shortly afterwards anyway, Avalanche needed a new purpose in life. He and Blob were among those enlisted by Banshee in his newly launched X-Corps, a paramilitary group that policed mutants worldwide. Avalanche and the other recruited criminals were offered full immunity and money in exchange for joining up, and naturally they had little choice in the matter. Occasionally, Avalanche still recalled his old villainous ways and Banshee advised him to stop thinking like a criminal. Unfortunately for Banshee, Mystique resurfaced and usurped the leadership of X-Corps, inciting them to massive violence as a way of making a statement to the world. At Mystique’s behest, Avalanche gained worldwide notoriety when he destroyed the Eiffel Tower with his powers. He and the other villains were then defeated by the X-Men. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #401-406]

Following a brief encounter with Weapon X agents and an even briefer solo battle against Wolfsbane, who singlehandedly bested him, Avalanche next resurfaced as a member of yet another incarnation of the Brotherhood, this time led by Exodus. During the team’s attack on the X-Mansion, Avalanche didn’t prove to be in peak form and was incapacitated a couple of times, earning the scorn of his teammate, Mammomax. When he came to, Avalanche bragged he was one of the toughest villains on the face of the planet only to be put down immediately by Northstar again. [Weapon X (2nd series) #4, New Mutants (2nd series) #9, X-Men (2nd series) #161-164]

Finally fed up after a lifetime of crime, defeats, humiliations and arrests, Avalanche decided to turn a new page and live a lawful life. He moved to San Francisco, adopted the alias ‘Nick’ and set up a bar called ‘Nick’s’, which became rather popular. Even though he was one of the mutants who retained their powers post-M-Day, Nikolaos wasn’t interested in using them as a criminal anymore. One day, much to his trepidation, he found out the X-Men were also setting up their headquarters in ‘Frisco. Rather predictably, that same day, he was bullied by the X-Men who were already waiting for him to come back to his apartment. Despite his insistent claims that he was now leading a clean life, the X-Men trashed his apartment and warned him to stay out of the game. [X-Men: Manifest Destiny #5]

Sometime later, Avalanche was one of the mutants who joined the protests against a proposed ballot initiative limiting mutants’ reproduction rights. Ares, a member of Norman Osborn’s Avengers squad, was sent to quell the protesters. Avalanche put up a decent fight but was quickly incapacitated. Later, he and some other mutant protesters regrouped in Avalanche’s bar and tried to figure out their next move. Having a lifetime of firsthand experience as a criminal, Avalanche warned them to avoid falling into the trap of acting as criminals in front of the camera: exactly what Osborn would want them to do. They all then went to Union Square, in violation of the newly enforced curfew, and, talking to the cameras, defied Osborn’s Avengers to come and arrest them. The Avengers indeed came and Daken, now carrying Wolverine’s mantle, almost killed Avalanche. Though this particular battle ended in defeat, the mutants ultimately emerged victorious. [Utopia crossover]

With the remaining mutant population now finding a shelter on the island of Utopia, off the coast of San Francisco, Avalanche and other mutants were almost compelled to follow suit. Avalanche, however, expressed his concern that Utopia was as much a prison as it was a sanctuary for them. [X-Men: Legacy Annual #1] Despite his misgivings, Avalanche defended his fellow mutants when necessary, as when he fought a Nimrod unit in the tunnels of San Francisco [Second Coming crossover] or when he helped the X-Men against a rampaging Juggernaut. [Fear Itself crossover] Still, Avalanche maintained his bar business in downtown San Francisco and had to admit there were several benefits in being associated with Utopia, which is why he turned down Wolverine’s offer to join the Jean Grey School that Logan planned to found in Westchester. [X-Men: Regenesis #1] After a brief relapse into crime as a member of Purple Man’s Villains for Hire, [Villains for Hire #1-4] Avalanche met an untimely, abrupt end when he was captured by Red Skull’s S-Men and was lobotomized. Now brainwashed, Avalanche made a terrorist attack, which served to re-ignite the public’s fear of mutants and then committed suicide by jumping to his death. Interestingly enough, one of the S-Men was his heretofore unrevealed daughter, Dancing Water, who wanted her father to pay for his crimes. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #1-2]

A second Avalanche, bearing the mantle and costume of the original one but apparently unconnected to him later joined a new incarnation of the Brotherhood led by Mesmero. [X-Men: Gold #1-2]

Avalanche has left a dubious legacy: neither the antihero nor the ambitious villain, he did seem to soften over the years, compared to his earlier, bloodthirsty appearances. What remained constant over the years was his staunch belief in mutant rights, his allegiance to his fellow mutants and, above all, his loyalty to his friends, particularly the late Pyro.