Avengers (1st series) #308

Issue Date: 
October 1989
Story Title: 

John Byrne (writer), Paul Ryan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Christie Scheele & Tom Fine (colorists), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Quasar, Namor and She-Hulk travel from the depths of the ocean in a strange sleek vessel, headed towards Avengers Island with the motionless body of Gilgamesh who they can't work out, because of his Eternal physiology whether he is alive or dead. Captain America wonders about the fate of Avengers Island, which was perched on a column sticking out of the ocean when the Avengers were captured. At that moment, Mr Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and the Avengers West Coast are at Avengers Island, and after preventing the island from toppling from the column, the Invisible Woman uses her power to lower the island back onto the water's surface. With the crisis averted, the Invisible Woman and Mr Fantastic depart, leaving the Avengers West Coast to share some words with Jarvis, before they leave, too. A short moment later, the strange vessel carrying Captain America and the others land on Avengers Island and are reunited with Jarvis. Thor rushes Gilgamesh to the infirmary, while Jarvis watches in awe as ther sleek vessel is revealed to be the Lava Men, who combined their forms to create the aircraft. The Avengers gather in the infirmary, where Thor determines that Gilgamesh is neither alive nor dead. Captain America realizes that the only ones who may be able to help Gilgamesh now are no longer on Earth. Meanwhile, in Greece, an old shepherd finds that his flock are mysteriously vanishing.  He tries to find them, and is pulled through a portal and finds himself in the magnificent city of Olympia – although he incorrectly assumes he is in fabled Olympus, which annoys the Eternal Sprite who brought the old man here. Ikaris arrives and scolds Sprite while apologizing to the old man for this inconvenience. Makkari helps round up the sheep, and Ikaris returns the old man to the hills of Greece, where the old man realizes that no one will believe what has happened to him. Sprite is in hysterics, but is scolded once more by ikaris, who sends him on his way. Ikaris and Makkari recall how most of the Eternals joined the Uni-Mind and departed for space, before meeting with Thena and Phastos. Thena is certain that something is wrong in Olympia, while Ikaris discusses the Eternals' weakened state, thinking the two might have a connection. Thena decides that they should continue to shield Olympia from the outside world while concentrating on this mysterious weakness within. Sprite overhears them and races down into the underground catacombs, where he uncovers a massive, sprawling machine, and plans to teach his family a lesson. Back on Earth, Captain America leads Thor, She-Hulk and Namor to a lavish apartment, where his associate the Eternal known as Sersi resides. Sersi is delighted to see Captain America, but shocked when the Avengers show her the unmoving Gilgamesh. Thor tells Sersi that Gilgamesh fell bravely as a warrior should, to which Sersi tells him it is virtually impossible for an Eternal to “fall” at all. Sersi is confused by Gilgamesh's condition and urges the Avengers to take him to Olympia. When the heroes arrive at the location of Olympia, Sersi provides Captain America with directions on how to enter her home – but they are shocked to discover Olympia has vanished, and only a large scorched crater remains. Elsewhere on Earth, there is a strange explosion in a suburban home belonging to Professor Paul Harker, who emerges from the rubble unscathed.

Full Summary: 

A sleek, golden aircraft suddenly bursts out of the ocean and heads skyward. Within it are seated members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes – Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, Jennifer Walters a.k.a. She-Hulk, Wendell Vaughn a.k.a. Quasar, T'Challa the Black Panther, Namor the Sub-Mariner, the mighty Thor and the lifeless Eternal called Gilgamesh the Forgotten One. She-Hulk asks Cap if he can get any more speed out of this thing, as Gilgamesh is sinking fast. Captain America tells She-Hulk that he would if he could, but that he and the Panther are only superficially in charge of this craft, adding that since their hosts know the urgency of the situation, he thinks they can assume they are giving them their maximum velocity. 'Okay... but I can't find a pulse any more. It's only the fact that he's still warm that makes me think he's not dead yet...' She-Hulk responds as she touches Gilgamesh's wrist. Captain America instructs She-Hulk to keep monitoring Gilgamesh, and points out that at this speed they should make it to New York in a few minutes. 

Cap adds that they can't be absolutely certain Gilgamesh is as badly off as he looks, after all, he is an Eternal, and as the name implies, they are nearly immortal. She-Hulk tells Cap that she knows that, and adds that Eternals are supposed to be in complete conscious control of every atom in their bodies – but that doesn't seem to be helping Gilgamesh here. Cap glances back at She-Hulk and tells her that if she knows any reliable prayers, now would be the time to use them. Cap looks over at T'Challa and tells them that this ship is handling like a dream, and points out that these seats are so comfortable that it is hard to believe they are made of metal. Cap adds that even one of their own Quinjets could not have transported their fallen comrade with so little discomfort. He then compliments T'Challa for this. T'Challa reminds Cap that he merely suggested the configuration, but it was their hosts who created the fact, and without them, they would still be trapped below the Earth's surface.

'Maybe... but since we wouldn't have been there in the first place if they hadn't kidnapped us... their assistance in getting us back to Avengers Island seems the very least they could do' Cap remarks, before he sees New York City, dead ahead. Cap rubs his hands across where the console should be, and remarks that it is a pity they have no real instrumentation on this vessel, as he could use some forward scanners, or even a small communicator, reminding his teammates that they left Avengers Island in a bad way, perched atop a mile high column of Lava Men. 'i'd give a lot to know what's happening there right now' Cap tells the others.

At that moment, Reed and Susan Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, respectively, are in a hovercraft darting about Avengers Island. Susan tells her husband that she doesn't think she can handle too much more of this, to which Reed, who stretches his body out of the hovercraft, tells her that she won't have to, for as he planned, by allowing the rock column to crumble within Susan's coiled invisible force field, they allow the column to continue to bear the greatest amount of the island's weight, while compressing Susan's force field allows the flotation platform to sink slowly back to the river. Indeed, the man-made Avengers Island is slowly lowered back into the water, when eventually, Reed tells Susan that she can let  it go. 'At last!' the Invisible Woman utters. Reed tells her that she did good work, and remarks that he doubts the island has incurred much damage beyond that caused by the original assault.

'That was simply... fantastic!' Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp exclaims as she and her fellow West Coast based Avengers – the android Vision, Doctor Hank Pym, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man, Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra and Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch are standing with the Avengers butler, Edwin Jarvis. 'An appropriate choice of words, Janet, to describe the deeds of members of the Fantastic Four!' the Vision points out, while Wonder Man tells his teammates that you have to hand it to the Fantastic Four – there's nobody in the world quite like them. 'Indeed not' Jarvis agrees, adding that it was a great honor to serve them during the time they stayed at Avengers Mansion a few months back. 'Almost as great an honor as it is for us to have you working for us, Jarvis. You stood by your post when the island was threatened. There's probably not another butler in the world who's had to put up with as much as you have' Hank tells Jarvis, shaking his hand. 'Including giving an eye for us' Wonder Man adds.

An eye-patch over his left eye, Jarvis reveals that his doctors have informed him that the sight in his left eye is already back to eighty percent of normal, and that continued proper care should allow him to entirely eliminate this rather diabolical looking patch within the year. 'And there you go, neatly side-stepping a compliment again. You're one of a kind, Jarvis' Wonder Man calls out as he and the other Avengers West Coast get into their Quinjet, and Pym tells Jarvis to stand clear for launch. 'Goodbye, sirs and ladies...God speed' Jarvis waves as the Avengers depart the island. The Invisible Woman looks over and sees the West Coasters depart for California, to which Reed remarks it was lucky they had not gotten too far when Jarvis sent out his call  for help. The Invisible Woman agrees that Wonder Man's arrival was well timed, and that she couldn't have saved the island without his strength taking the strain at a crucial moment. Reed smiles as he states that the Avengers are a great team, and that he is proud to have called himself one of them, even for a while. At that moment, the sleek golden craft flies towards the island, 'Hey, look! The island's okay! And isn't that a Fantasti-car?' Quasar asks. 'Looks like one' another of the Avengers replies, suggesting that it looks like their reserve members came to their aid.

The vessel then lands on the island, and Jarvis rushes over to the vessel, 'The Avengers! They're back! They're all right.. .or...' he utters as he sees Thor emerge from the vessel, carrying the motionless Gilgamesh. 'We must transport the fallen one to the Mansion's medical facility!' Thor exclaims. 'Gilgamesh! What happened to him? And the rest of you?' Jarvis asks, before querying if anyone else is hurt. Cap tells Jarvis that they are tired, but not too much the worse for wear. She-Hulk tells him that a recap will have to wait until they have taken care of Gil. 'Yes, of course' Jarvis replies, before asking Captain America where the ship came from, as he has never seen anything like it. 'And you're not likely to ever again, Jarv...' Quasar replies. Cap agrees, and remarks that “unique” is a heavily overused word nowadays, but he doesn't think Jarvis would find any vessel as special as this one. 'After all, how many airships have you ever seen...that are actually composed...of the living bodies...of the Lava Men?' Cap asks, as the vessel suddenly begins to change form, splitting into the seven bodies of the golden Lava Men.

'Oh my word! But they don't...' Jarvis utters, surprised. '... look like Lava Men? No. But that's another explanation that will have to wait' Cap remarks, while the witchdoctor Jinku tells Captain America to go and tend to his fallen comrade. 'For my part in his trouble, I am deeply sorry!' Jinku calls out. The Avengers begin to run towards the Mansion, while Jarvis turns to the Lava Men and asks if they would care to wait inside, as he is sure the Avengers would wish to say a proper goodbye once they have taken care of Gilgamesh.

Shortly, in the infirmary, Thor places Gilgamesh on a table, while She-Hulk tells the others that she wishes she had Jarvis's faith in their infallibility, as she doesn't know that Gil can be taken care of. 'If there can be aught that can be done, these instruments shall surely tell us, Jennifer' Thor replies, adding that there is no place of healing in all the world that is so far advanced as this. Thor removes his helmet and reminds the Avengers that he has had occasion to be well trained in the healing arts, admitting that he is puzzled over what to do here. Scanning instruments project readings of Gilgamesh's vitals onto a monitor, and Thor reports that Gilgamesh is not dead, but he neither truly lives, and confesses that this is beyond the scope of his knowledge, broad as that may be. 'But what can we do, then? You said there was nowhere on else on Earth...' Quasar begins. 'On Earth' Cap thinks to himself, looking down at Gilgamesh, he wonders if that is the answer – maybe the only ones who can help Gilgamesh now are no longer truly on Earth.

Elsewhere, an old man wearing a suit and carrying a pole herds some sheep down the side of the lush green hill. 'Come along, my little ones! Come along now!' the shepherd calls out, remarking that there is no time to waste admiring the ruins of his ancestors, splendid though they may be. Several old slabs of rock can be seen around him, as he declares that Heracles might once have walked this hill, and mighty Zeus himself romanced a maiden in the shadow of these trees, but none of that need be of any concern to them – all they need to think of is the closing of the day. Suddenly, to the old man's shock, 'Merciful heavens preserve us!' he gasps, as his sheep begin to vanish before his very eyes 'MY SHEEP!' he cries out. 'They are being devoured alive by some invisible demon!' the old man utters, before realizing that their legs were moving as if they were still running, as if they were passing through a doorway, or a barrier.

The old man places his crook towards the space where the sheep vanished, 'Bones of my ancestors!' he gasps as someone grabs the other end of his crook, and yanks the old shepherd through the portal as well – into a brilliant, exotic landscape. 'HA HA HA HA! The foolishness of humans never ceases to amaze me!' a skinny man in a yellow and green costume exclaims as he dances about. 'What...where...you speak Greek?' the old man utters, looking up at his captor, while the sheep walk nearby. 'You hear Greek, old man?' the skinny man replies. 'I would never speak anything less than the perfect tongue of the Eternals of Olympia!' the skinny man declares. 'Olympus?' the old man gasps. 'NO NO NO! Olympia! Olympia!' the skinny man snaps, throwing the old man's crook onto the ground. 'Must we be forever confused with those pretenders?' the skinny man asks. 'What do you want from me?' the old man asks. 'Please... please… who are you?'

Suddenly, 'Yes, Sprite. Tell us all' another voice calls out, as the skinny Eternal called Sprite turns, wide-eyed, 'Uh-ohh' he mutters, as the handsome Eternal called Ikaris drops down before him.

'Tell us why one who takes such pride in being an Eternal...would also find such delight in the torment of a lesser being?' Ikaris asks. 'I was only engaging in a bit of harmless fun!' Sprite replies. Ikaris points at Sprite and reminds him that he has been cautioned about his notion of “fun” in the past, and reminds him that these humans are by nature frail and easily distressed – he might have caused this man to have a heart attack with his foolishness. The old man looks up at Ikaris and utters 'Please, Sir... where... who...?' to which Ikaris picks up the old man's crook and helps him to his feet, apologizing for the antics of his comrade, who is thousands of Earth years old, but by Eternals standards, is still a boy. 'He did not hurt you?' Ikaris asks. 'No...but my sheep...' the old man replies. 'They are here, good sir. They did not wander far!' the speedster Makkari exclaims as he darts about, collecting the sheep and bringing them to the old man, explaining that with his sheep, it was easy to round them up. Makkari then leads the sheep to the green hills of their more natural abode. 'But...but...this place! This city! How can it stand here undetected?' the old man queries, as he watches Makkari shepherd the sheep back to the green hills.

'Permit us our secrets, friend' Ikaris replies, before walking the old man towards the green hills and suggesting he rejoin his wandering flock. 'Yes... but... but...' the old man begins, to which Ikaris tells him 'No questions' and that they could not give answers that would have any meaning to him. 'We ask only that you keep what you have seen to yourself' Ikaris adds. 'Who would I tell?' the old man replies, remarking that his wife would only say he had been drinking again – or dreaming. The old man turns back to look at Olympia, but only sees green hills behind him. 'Gone! Vanished as though it never was!' he utters. 'Not a sight nor sound of it!' he exclaims, sure that he knows what he saw, though. Suddenly, 'BLA-LA-LA-LA-LA!' Sprite shouts as his face appears in the sky, startling the old man, who begins to run.

'You never stop, do you, small one?' Makkari remarks as Sprite collapses to the ground in a fit of laughter. 'And you never start' Sprite replies, laughing, he tells Makkari that sometimes he thinks he is determined to be as great a stone face as Ikaris. Sprite wipes the tears from his eyes and looks up at the other Eternals, asking what the point of having powers like no one else in all the world, if all they do is sit in Olympia and mope. 'The day was made for laughter, Makkari!' he declares. Ikaris grabs Sprite by his collar and holds him up off the ground: 'And is it you who will teach us all to laugh, Sprite?' he asks. 'You to whom a slippery fruit skin underfoot is the height of comedy? You to whom the power of telekinesis is best applied to the hurling of a pie? Your sense of humor will cost you much some day, Sprite' Ikaris warns the other Eternal. Sprite tells Ikaris that he makes his point, and asks if he can leave before he is robbed of his mirth, as it would seem Ikaris has robbed Makkari of his. 'Go, then. But have a care in the future' Ikaris suggests.

As Sprite walks away, Makkari tells Ikaris that he was hard on  the boy, and that in Sprite's own way, he was right – it does not hurt to smile. Ikaris looks away and replies that he will find the time for that when they are once more safe and secure in their hidden home, and that there is too much amiss in Olympia for him to find much joy in it. They walk side by side, and Makkari agrees, telling Ikaris that he speaks the truth, and remarks that there is a silence in these fabled streets greater than can be accounted for by the absence of their fellow Eternals. 'More than silence. There is a flavor of death on the once sweet breezes. I have tasted it often enough to know it' Ikaris adds as he sand Makkari climb some stairs into one of the magnificent buildings. 'But why, Ikaris?' Makkari enquires, pointing out that there is no disease that vexes them, and that the city stands as it has always stood, shielded from outside influence. Ikaris admits that is true, and tells Makkari that he feels there is a loss deep in the city's heart. 'When the majority of our fellows departed in the Unimind... I fear they took the greater part of the city's soul with them!' Ikaris explains.

Walking through a great hall, Makkari tells Ikaris that there was a time, indeed, when wandering sheep could not have passed the barrier that surrounds them, and wonders if it their ancient home could be dying. 'That is what I hope to learn today, my friend' Ikaris replies as they enter a laboratory where Thena and Phastos are working with some equipment. 'They have much to tell us' Ikaris informs Makkari. 'You tell me everything and nothing, artificer. There is something deeply wrong in Olympia. I feel it in my bones' Thena remarks as she works with the equipment. Phastos confirms that he feels it, too, and reminds Thena that his has long been the task of tending to the great machines that give their city life – and he swears on all he holds precious that there is nothing wrong with them. 'What, then? Are we invaded? Is this some Deviant threat, subtle and insidious as our ancient goes themselves?' Thena wonders. 'I would not say that, Thena' Ikaris calls out. Thena turns to Ikaris and Makkari, and asks if they sense no force directed against them. 'You are the greatest of our warriors. I trust your judgment in this' she adds. Ikaris tells Thena to trust that there is nothing from without that threatens them – the threat, he fears, comes from within.

Thena asks Ikaris to continue, and Ikaris reminds Thena that, as she said, he is a warrior, that his has never been the pleasant path, the softness of Eternal life in Olympia, he has always sought the ways of strength, and he thinks that is what they all must henceforth strive to find. He adds that this city is as one with the Eternals, but they are greatly reduced since the departure of the Unimind. 'Perhaps' Thena responds, telling Ikaris that before she will completely agree with his assessment, she would see the city's defenses bolstered. She suggests that they shield themselves more fully from without, that they may turn their concentration inward, unafraid. Ikaris agrees with this, and asks Phastos what he can do. 'Less than nothing, I should think!' Sprite thinks to himself as he listens from behind a nearby curtain, unseen by the other Eternals. 'Old Phastos has the imagination of the hammer he carries!' Sprite jokes to himself.

Sprite then runs down a tunnel, thinking to himself that if anything is to be done to increase the effectiveness of their protection, it should be done with flair. He climbs down some pipes, admitting that it has never been his dream to plumb the dark depths of Phastos's realm, he knows many ways by which he can get down to Phastos's machines before Phastos himself. Sprite goes wide-eyed as he stands before an enormous building-like machine, grinning, he knows that it is mighty and incomprehensible, but he will teach the other Eternals that the hardest labors can still be done with humor!

Meantime, the Avengers Quinjet pulls up outside a fancy multi-story apartment. Cap tells the others that he is setting the Quinjet on autogyro, as the apartment's terrace might not be strong enough to take its weight. 'You still have not told us to whom this apartment belongs, Captain' Namor remarks as he follows Cap out of the Quinjet and onto the terrace. 'A very special lady, Namor. Perhaps the only one who can help us' Cap responds as he walks towards a large set of glass doors, thinking to himself that he had hoped never to be in this woman's debt ever again. 'You don't need any such grim excuses to come and visit me, Captain...Sersi's home is always open. Especially to you' the glamorous Eternal called Sersi calls out as she steps out onto the terrace, smiling at Captain America. Cap tells Sersi that he wishes this was no more than a simple social call, before motioning to Thor, who is carrying the lifeless Gilgamesh towards them. He tells Sersi that, as she can see, it is not. 'The Forgotten One!' Sersi gasps, before asking what happened to him, as he lies as one who is dead – which is not possible, not for an Eternal.

Sersi beckons the Avengers into her apartment and tells them that she must know what has happened. Thor, Cap, Namor and She-Hulk follow, as Thor tells Sersi to explain all that hath happened in latter days would take more time than the fallen Gilgamesh can likely spare. Thor lays Gilgamesh down on a plus sofa and explains to Sersi that Gilgamesh fell bravely in battle – as a warrior should. 'Spare me such nonsense, Thunder God' Sersi snaps. 'An Eternal cannot “fall” and that's an end to it!' she declares. 'To say such is to dispute the...' Thor begins, before he appears somewhat dizzy. 'Thor!' Cap calls out, asking his old friend if he is all right. Thor assures Captain America that it was a passing weakness, and that he should concern himself with Gilgamesh, not him. Sersi checks Gilgamesh over, and reports that he has no pulse, and nor can she read any activity within his mind. Sersi announces that in all her centuries of life she has never seen an Eternal in such condition. 'There is but one thing we can do... we must take him home to Olympia!'

Soon, the Avengers Quinjet approaches Greece, and Sersi instructs Captain America to bank right, as ahead is the mouth of their valley home. 'The hills of Greece!' Namor exclaims, adding that so close to this countryside, he finds himself missing Hercules. 'I never thought I'd hear you say it, Namor' Cap remarks, adding that it does seem odd to think Hercules is gone, as he was an immortal, after all, like Gilgamesh. 'And more than once mistaken for him' Sersi remarks, before telling Captain America to follow her directions to the letter, and the defenses of Olympia will welcome this as a friendly craft. 'If you say so, Sersi...' Cap replies, but as they approach land, it appears burnt, a huge crater with smoke rising from it scars the land. 'But from the looks of things...there is no Olympia to welcome us!' Cap exclaims.

Meantime, in Creskill, New Jersey, in the suburban home of Professor Paul Harker, energy suddenly swirls around and rips through the home, destroying it in spectacular display. Piles of debris cover the ground, and from one such pile, a figure emerges – Harker himself, who adjusts his glasses and sits up among the ruins, 'Almost...that was almost it!' he exclaims.

Characters Involved: 

Black Panther, Captain America, Gilgamesh, Quasar, She-Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Thor (all Avengers)
Doctor Pym, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)

Ikaris, Makkari, Phastos, Sersi, Sprite, Thena (all Eternals)
Invisible Woman & Mr Fantastic (both Fantastic Four)
Edwin Jarvis

Professor Paul Harker
Jinku and other Lava Men

Story Notes: 

Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman served as Avengers briefly in Avengers (1st series) #298-303.

Jinku next appears in X-Force (1st series) #81.

Captain America met Sersi in Captain America (1st series) #355, requiring her help to make him appear as a teenager. Sersi used her transmutative power on Cap, and proceeded to flirt with him. When Cap's assignment was over, Sersi returned him to his regular appearance, and in return for her assistance demanded that Captain America go on a date with her. They did this in Captain America (1st series) #357, where Cap vowed never to ask Sersi for her help ever again!

The Avengers believe Hercules dead following events of the recent “Evolutionary War” event.

Professor Harker previously appeared in Avengers (1st series) #306.

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