Avengers (1st series) #373

Issue Date: 
April 1994
Story Title: 

Bob Harras (writer), Steve Epting (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Kalisz (colorist), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Accused of murder, the furious Sersi is unimpressed. The Black Widow tries to reason with the brash Lieutenant DuBois, but she won’t have it, so Sersi flies away, destroying part of Avengers Mansion as she does, and trapping the others in the rubble. Quicksilver and Crystal are returning from Quicksilver’s doctor appointment in silence, until they arrive at Avengers Mansion, to find the police and rescue workers already in action. Crystal rushes to the Black Knight, who leaves to find Sersi. The other Avengers emerge from the rubble, and after gathering themselves leave to find Sersi and the Black Knight. Crystal goes with her teammates, after harsh words from Quicksilver, who remains at the Mansion to look after their daughter. Jarvis and Crystal’s nanny return to the Mansion, and Jarvis reveals to Quciksilver that Sersi was having dreams of a man that terrified her. The Black Knight finds Sersi atop the Brooklyn Bridge, despondent after the Eternals called her mad, and now the Avengers think she is a killer. The Black Knight struggles as their mind-link grows even stronger. At his base of operations, Proctor is confronted by the golden Jocasta, wanting Proctor to keep up his side of the bargain - that she will get to see this reality’s version of her husband, Simon. Proctor then speaks to Ute the Watcher whom he keeps imprisoned and boasts that he will destroy Sersi and that this world will fall with her, and only then can he be free from the woman who betrayed her, after he killed her variants in other realities. The Watcher just cries, unable to break free. The Avengers locate Sersi and the Black Knight, and a battle begins. Sersi takes them all down, Crystal is, appropriately, the last to fall. But Sersi’s rage is seemingly endless, and after Crystal managed to break the bond between the Black Knight and Sersi before she fell unconscious, Sersi proceeds to create a massive storm that sweeps the city, destroying the Brooklyn Bridge and sending the Avengers to possible doom, just as Lieutenant DuBois arrives on scene. In the aftermath, Sersi has calmed down somewhat, and is approached by Proctor - the man from her dreams!

Full Summary: 

New York City, where inactive Avenger Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff and his estranged wife, active Avenger Crystal of the Inhumans, walk side-by-side down a busy street, pushing their daughter, Crystal, in a stroller. Crystal tells Pietro that Dr Berkowitz was very encouraging. ‘He says you should be fully recovered in just a few weeks’ Crystal points out. ‘Yes. I am…relieved’ Pietro replies. Their words are distant, and polite, but they don’t quite hide the strain between this young married couple, nor does the awkward silence which follows. A silence they both wish they could break, but cannot. They pray for a distraction, and suddenly are granted one, as they notice several citizens rushing ahead of them.

The super heroes watch as police officers drive past with urgency. ‘The Police, Pietro, you don’t think -’ Crystal begins. ‘I don’t know, Crystal. I - GOOD LORD!’ Quicksilver exclaims as they round the corner, to find their home and headquarters, Avengers Mansion, in ruins. ‘The Mansion’s been DESTROYED!’ Quicksilver gasps as they see fire fighters trying to put out the blaze, and police officers assessing the situation. ‘The Avengers! What’s happened to the Avengers?’ Crystal calls out, rushing forward, holding her daughter, she enters the ruins of the Mansion, ‘Pietro - look! It’s Dane!’ Crystal exclaims as she rushes over to Dane Whitman a.k.a. the Black Knight.

One of the fire fighters calls out to Crystal, asking her if she is crazy. ‘The whole building’s unstable - it could come down any minute!’ he tells her. But Crystal ignores him, kneeling down by Dane, she asks him if he is all right, and where the others are. ‘Who did this, Dane? Who attacked the Avengers?’ Crystal asks. ‘SERSI!’ Dane exclaims as he gets to his feet. ‘Sersi? But why?’ Crystal enquires. Luna goes over to her father, while Dane declares that Sersi is in pain, that he can feel it, so confused, Sersi is so confused. ‘Dane, listen to me. You’ve got to tell me what’s happened’ Crystal calls out, but Dane tells her that she doesn’t understand: ‘Can’t you see? I have to help her!’ the Black Knight exclaims, touching Crystal’s face, he suddenly rushes off. ‘Dane, come back!’ Crystal calls out, but Quicksilver suggests that the Black Knight has gone mad. ‘No, Pietro, the bonding!’ Crystal explains. ‘Oh, sweet Agon, the bonding’, when suddenly, there is a mighty rumble.

‘What?’ Crystal calls out, as a slab of the building is lifted up, by Dr Hank Pym a.k.a. Giant Man, his costume tattered. ‘All right, Tasha, bring out guests out - fast!’ Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America exclaims, as he holds his shield up to protect the Black Widow a.k.a. Natasha Romanova as she assists Lieutenant Marta DuBois and Detective Clancy Lee to safety. As Hercules rushes forward to clear a path, Giant Man tells Cap not to worry, as they have things well in hand. Crystal rushes over to her teammates ‘We were afraid -’ she begins, but the Black Widow tells her that they are battered and bruised, but alive. ‘Tell me, have you seen Sersi?’ Natasha asks.

‘No. But the Black Knight just ran off after her like a man possessed’ Quicksilver announces. ‘He’ll be charged, Widow. Aiding and abetting’ Lieutenant DuBois announces. ‘Lieutenant DuBois, please! If you’d listened to me in the first place, the situation may not have become this critical!’ the Black Widow exclaims, annoyed. Crystal remarks that she has never seen Natasha this angry, before asking what happened to Sersi. ‘I have to know’ Crystal pleads. The Black Widow tells Crystal that she is right, and reveals that half an hour ago, Lieutenant Dbois and her partner, Detective Lee, came to the Mansion with a startling claim - that Sersi was responsible for the murder of two policemen.

Flashback, takes place between Avengers (1st series) #372 and #373:
‘Murder? Are you insane? This can’t be! This has to be some sort of sick joke!’ Sersi exclaims, but Lieutenant DuBois tells her that it is no joke, and that they have evidence, not the least of which is Avengers Mansion’s own security tapes showing her letting the two detectives in on the day they vanished. The Black Widow asks Lieutenant DuBois to let the Avengers bring Sersi in for questioning. ‘We’ll help you get to the bottom of this, but you must know, she is highly un-’ Natasha begins, but Lieutenant DuBois frowns and tells the Black Widow that they can do their job without her help.

Sersi is unimpressed, and Detective Lee suggests to Lieutenant DuBois that they should let the Avengers bring Sersi in. ‘I mean, look at her. These guys are the big guns. We may not be able to handle this’ Detective Lee points out. ‘You can trust us, Lieutenant’ Captain America assures the officers, while Detective Lee takes Sersi’s by her elbow. ‘So, you turn on me too, eh, Captain America?’ Sersi asks. Dane tells her to calm down, and not to do this, but energy pours from Sersi’s eyes, ‘Why not, Dane? Look at them - my so-called friends! I see the doubt in their eyes! Their fear. I AM NO KILLER - and you are not my friends!’ Sersi exclaims as he flies upwards, in a surge of fury, her energies causing the Mansion to collapse around her teammates.

‘Say what you want…the lady knows how to make an exit’ Giant Man remarks, still holding up part of the Mansion. Crystal tells her friends that she knows Sersi has been ill lately, but cannot accept that she could kill anyone. Strained, Cap tells Crystal that they can’t be sure. ‘Her illness…too many questions. We need to find Sersi’ he announces. Hercules asks Captain America if he is unwell, but Cap claims that he just needs to catch his breath. Suddenly, a police officer calls out to Lieutenant DuBois, informing her that a report has come in, that the suspect has been spotted downtown. ‘All right! Let’s roll!’ DuBois orders. ‘For pity’s sake, Lieutenant, let us handle this!’ the Black Widow calls out. ‘You’ve only seen a fraction of her power…I beg you, don’t put your men at risk!’ Natasha asks, but DuBois scowls and tells Natasha to forget it. ‘She’s mine!’ DuBois exclaims.

‘Wonderful’ the Black Widow mutters, before telling Giant Man and Hercules to clear a path to the hangar. ‘We have to find Sersi before they do’ she points out. ‘And when we do, fair Natasha? Then what?’ Herc asks. ‘Then we get our answers and end this nightmare once and for all’ the Black Widow tells her friend. Crystal informs Quicksilver that she is going with the others. ‘Stay here and take care of Luna’ she tells him. Frowning, Quicksilver asks Crystal if she is really so desperate to save Sersi, or if it is freedom for the Black Knight that she seeks? Crystal looks at Quicksilver sternly and asks ‘Does it matter, Pietro? Does it really matter?’ as she rushes off after her teammates.

The Brooklyn Bridge, a place where many have come in moments of despair…and loneliness…to gaze at the waters swirling so far below, and at the towers of the city reaching high. Some have found the solace they sought here, others, perhaps have not. But of all the lonely wanderers who have come to this place…none can compare, in their pain, to the desperation of the Eternal known as Sersi. The glamorous Avenger stands on the edge of the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, rain pouring down around her as darkness rolls on over. ‘Sersi! Serse - talk to me, lady! It’s going to be okay!’ Dane Whitman calls out as he climbs up the ropes that hold the bridge up.

‘No, I don’t think so, Dane. the world is against me, don’t you see? First, my family believed me mad. Now the Avengers think me a killer. Tell me, sweet Dane - whom can I trust?’ Sersi enquires, raising a fist to the air, she sends a powerful surge of energy upwards, while shouting ‘I KILLED NO ONE!’, as Dane reaches the top of the bridge, he tells Sersi that he can feel her anger exploding in his head. ‘But can you be sure, lady? You killed Anskar, we all saw that’ he points out. ‘HE DESERVED TO DIE!!!’ Sersi screams. ‘He was a tyrant - a murderer! He killed Astra - or have you forgotten?’ she asks Dane, who clutches his head and drops to his knees in pain. ‘Sersi, please! Ease up - I can’t take much more of this!’ Dane pleads.

Sersi declares that she does not kill innocent men. ‘Do you believe me, my Gann Josin? Do you?’ she asks. ‘Yes’ Dane replies softly. Standing over him, Sersi announces that the Avengers are coming, that she senses it. ‘My false friends and yours as well, Dane. Don’t forget that, my love’ Sersi declares, pointing out that Captain America has doubted Dane’s abilities, and Crystal has toyed with her love, casting him aside the moment her errant husband returned. ‘Yes, they come. And we will stand, and face them…together’ Sersi tells the Black Knight.

Uptown, Edwin Jarvis and the Inhuman nanny called Marilla have returned to Avengers Mansion. ‘Oh, my word’ Jarvis gasps, reminding Marilla that they just stepped out to the market. ‘How could this happen so quickly? The Avengers -’ Jarvis begins, while Quicksilver approaches him, assuring him that the Avengers are unharmed. Marilla takes hold of her young charge, while Quicksilver states that it appears the Avengers had a viper in their midst and explains that the police came to charge Sersi with murder, only she did not take too kindly to that at all. ‘Miss Sersi - murder?’ Jarvis gasps, adding that he knew she was ill and having odd dreams. ‘But I never -’ he begins, before Pietro asks ‘Dreams? What dreams’. Jarvis explains that Sersi was having dreams of a man who hurt people, dreams of a dark figure that terrified her. ‘What man?’ Quicksilver frowns.

‘Proctor!’ a robotic voice calls out in an undisclosed location. A golden robotic female steps into the light, to find Proctor hovering on a platform. ‘I demand to know why you stopped the Gatherers’ attack this afternoon. They had Sersi! They could have destroyed her then and there. Wasn’t that why you brought us to the prime reality, or have you changed the rules?’ she enquires. Proctor tells the golden robot that the actions of the Gatherers were premature. ‘But you will know she will only grow more powerful as the counterparts did on our Earths. If we don’t strike soon’ the robot begins, but Proctor interrupts her, addressing her as Jocasta, he tells her to listen, and that she must learn the art of patience.

Proctor reminds her that he promised Sersi would be stopped, and tells the golden Jocasta that he always keeps his promises. ‘Just as I promised you a meeting with this reality’s version of your long-lost husband’ Proctor points out. ‘Simon -’ the golden Jocasta gasps, while Proctor tells her to leave him and gather his followers, for very soon, within this day, they will make their move. ‘I -’ the golden Jocasta begins, while Proctor tells her to trust him. There is silence as the golden robot leaves, when suddenly, a large figure comes into the light, suspended above Proctor in his laboratory. It is a Watcher, now a tragic, wrecked figure, but one of incredible, ancient power nonetheless. ‘I feel your thoughts, old Watcher. You think I lie to her. That I have lied to them all. But great men have often twisted the truth to do great things’ he points out.

‘You know what I have done to achieve this moment - what crimes I have committed, but there is nothing you can do to stop me’ Proctor exclaims, before telling the old Watcher to have a care, as he can feel his hatred. ‘And I thought such things forbidden by your people’ Proctor adds, before pointing out that the Watcher is weak and wounded. ‘I can exterminate you. After all, you’ve served your purpose. You’ve brought me across the dimensions - unwillingly, yes, to this earth, from which all reality springs’. Proctor reminds the Watcher that it was he, after all, who told him that his own world was but an echo, one of an infinite amount, of this true dimension. ‘And in that revelation, Ute, you gave me hope undreamt of!’ Proctor declares.

Proctor continues, stating that to find once more on other Earths that the woman whom he loved above all others, and who basely betrayed him - Sersi. The old Watcher remains silent as Proctor boasts that across dimension after dimension he has hunted Sersi’s variants down, and made each pay for what she did to him. However, this Sersi is the template for all others, and because of that, she shall suffer the most. ‘I was a hero of my world, did you know that, Watcher? A man others looked up to and admired. Her love destroyed me - and became a hate that will not be quenched until I erase her from all existence!’ Proctor exclaims, adding that he is close, so very close, as his machinations have pushed her into the abyss, into her final madness.

Proctor states that Sersi is hunted now, all but friendless, and that she may even believe herself guilty of the crime she is accused. ‘It doesn’t matter…it will all be over soon…and this world, like others before it, shall be her funeral pyre’ Proctor declares, frowning, before turning and walking away from the old Watcher, announcing that at last he will be free. With Proctor gone, the Watcher is shunted back into the shadows. He is a being who could once make worlds tremble. And now, he just cries.

Meantime, the Avengers Quinjet arrives at the Brooklyn Bridge, and land on the bridge itself. ‘Sersi was last spotted not ten minutes ago - the police have cordoned off the bridge and surrounding area’ one of the Avengers announces. Cap, the Widow, Hercules, Giant Man and Crystal step on to the bridge, ‘Thank Heaven for that, at least’ the Black Widow remarks, relieved no civilians are around to be put in danger, while wondering if perhaps Lieutenant DuBois is not as hard-headed as she first appeared. Hank points out that DuBois has her job to do, when he notices a loud rumbling. ‘Crystal, are you -?’ he asks the elemental, but Crystal exclaims that it isn’t her, and urges everyone to get back.

There is an explosion, and Sersi and the Black Knight make their presence know. Energy glowing from their eyes, looks of fury on their faces. ‘I told you they would come, my Gann Josin’ Sersi exclaims, while Dane sternly warns the Avengers to get back, that no one is taking Sersi - no one. Hank announces that he was afraid of this - the mind-meld is affecting their thought processes, and they have entered a shared psychosis. He calls out to Dane and Sersi, asking them to listen to him as he assures him they are friends and he wants to help. ‘LIAR!’ Sersi shouts, using her powers to knock Giant Man off his feet with a surge of energy, she declares that she is sick of his probing into her head. ‘Do you hear me?’ Sersi exclaims. Crystal rushes over to Hank and discovers that his heart has stopped and he isn’t breathing.

‘Enough of this madness! Woman, I seek not to harm thee, but I will stop thee!’ Hercules exclaims. ‘Will you, oaf? Will you indeed?’ Sersi asks her fellow immortal as she flies over to him and picks him up, taking him high into the air, ‘I think not!’ Sersi exclaims as she punches him hard, before throwing him own onto the bridge, ‘To Hades with you, you piece of Olympian trash!’ Sersi exclaims as Hercules lands hard on the bridge. The Black Knight, meanwhile, slams his energy sword into Cap’s shield and tells him to leave them alone. The Black Widow reminds Dane that he threw Sersi off her control before, and suggests he can do it again. ‘shut up, Natasha!’ Dane snaps as he spins around and punches the Black Widow in the face.

‘Enough of this. Get behind me, my heart - while I show these dear “friends” of ours what I really think of them’ Sersi scowls, before unleashing a powerful surge of energy at the Avengers, knocking them all down, save for Crystal. ‘You. You would be the last one standing’ Sersi remarks, one arm draped over Dane’s shoulder, her other hand surging with energy. Crystal leans over Giant Man’s unmoving body and calls out to Dane, telling him to listen to her, that there is something wrong here, she can feel it. ‘But to prove that, you have to fight her, Dane!’ Crystal exclaims, asking Dane to use his mind meld to calm Sersi down, like he did before. ‘Fight her, Dane - for all our sakes…but most of all, for hers!’ Crystal exclaims.

Dane turns to Sersi, ‘Crys-?’ he calls out. ‘Yes, Dane - Crystal, your friend! Fight it, Dane, fight it!’ Crystal urges him. Dane looks at Sersi and tells her that they cannot do this. ‘NO! Stop it, witch! Leave him alone!’ Sersi screams, energy bursting around her, she fires a blast at Crystal, knocking her backwards. ‘Leave us alone!’ Sersi screams. With the Avengers lying motionless on the bridge, Sersi and the Black Knight stand amongst them, ‘Foolish child - had she - had they all forgotten how powerful I am? Even Zuras himself feared me!’ Sersi exclaims, boasting that with a mere thought she could change the composition of the air around them and set the city aflame. ‘Didn’t they know I could always have destroyed them? But I always kept my power in check - I trusted them! They think me a killer? THEN LET ME PROVE THEM RIGHT!’ Sersi screams as she readies more energy to fire at the Avengers.

‘No…fight her…how? Crys…I…’ Dane utters, looking down at Crystal’s unmoving body, he quickly turns to Sersi, shouting ‘For the love of Heaven, Sersi -’, and he pushes her arm away. ‘Dane? No? NOOOOO’ Sersi shouts, her burst of energy now aimed upwards into the air, away from the Avengers. ‘STOP!’ Dane shouts. Sersi looks at Dane’s eyes, they no longer glow red like hers. ‘No. NO! You’ve destroyed the mind meld! I’ve lost you!’ Sersi exclaims. Dane tells her to listen to him, that something is wrong here, he can feel it. ‘One minute the Gatherers attack - and then boom, you’re accused of murder!’ he points out, adding that it is too easy, that there must be more going on here than they know. He tells Sersi that she needs help.

‘Don’t talk to me of “help”! You’ve betrayed me! Like the others! Because of her! Because of Crystal!’ an enraged Sersi exclaims, taking flight, she tells Dane to die with Crystal, ‘DIE WITH THEM ALL!’ she screams, causing the skies to go dark, and the sea to lift, as Sersi the Eternal has her vengeance, and the first step to Armageddon is taken. The massive rising water crashes down in a powerful wave, over the bridge, destroying it. ‘Oh my God’ Dane utters, while on the dock nearby, ‘Martie!’ Detective Lee calls out to Lieutenant DuBois, who utters that she doesn’t believe it.

And, in the aftermath, when the roiling waters are quieted once more, clarity, of a sort, returns. The sky is still a damp, green color, but Sersi has calmed down, and drops to the ruins of the bridge. ‘Zuras forgive me - no’ Sersi utters. ‘I - I didn’t think - I was so angry - I - what have I done?’ she asks her self. Crouched down on the ruins of the bridge, she asks Zuras what is making her do these things. Suddenly, a hand touches Sersi on the shoulder. ‘Do not weep, woman’ a voice calls out. ‘WHO?’ Sersi gasps, turning around, she is confronted by Proctor! ‘You do not know me, Sersi. But I have come far…and done much…to meet you’ he tells her. Sersi gets to her feet, as Proctor tells her that once, in another time, another place, he knew someone very much like her. ‘But I do know you! My dreams!’ Sersi exclaims. Proctor tells her to hush, and in the ruins of the bridge, he adds that she is not the one he loved, ‘But as I used to say… “‘tis enough ‘twill serve”!’

Characters Involved: 

Black Knight IV, Black Widow, Captain America, Crystal, Giant Man, Hercules, Sersi (all Avengers)
Quicksilver (inactive Avenger)

Luna Maximoff
Edwin Jarvis

Alternate Jocasta, Korg, Proctor, Rik, Sliver, Tarkas (all Gatherers)
Ute the Watcher

Lieutenant Marta DuBois
Detective Clancy Lee

Fire fighters
Police officers

Story Notes: 

The two murdered detectives were let in to Avengers Mansion by Sersi in Avengers (1st series) #363.

The Eternals decided Sersi was mad in Avengers (1st series) #361.
Proctpr’s quote at the end is from Shakespeare’S “Romeo and Juliet”.

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