Avengers (3rd series) #10

Issue Date: 
November 1998
Story Title: 
Pomp & Pageantry

Kurt Busiek (writer), George Perez (penciler), Al Vey (inker), Tom Smith (colorist), Rich ‘n’ Comicraft’s Dave (letterers), Greg Schigiel (assistant editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Megan McLaren, the Stunt Master and Chili Storm host the celebrations around the Avengers parade, which is to honor one year since the Avengers returned to New York after being believed dead. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Giant Man, Justice, Firestar and Vision (via holographic transfer) are all present for the parade, and even though they have their own issues going on, put on a big smile for their adoring fans. The hosts of the parade also give a brief overview of Avengers’ history. The parade is watched by many other super beings - the X-Men, who comment on Beast, the Fantastic Four, Hulk - who contemplates his brief time with them, Hawkeye who recently quit the Avengers, and also some villains - Imus Champion and Ultron who swear revenge. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Witch meets with her former mentor, Agatha Harkness, and learns the real truth about her powers - and after another run-down of her origin, the shocking revelation that all she has to do to bring Wonder Man back to life is return his love. Captain America and the other Avengers go to honor those Avengers who have died, which is when they are confronted by the Grim Reaper - who animates the corpses of Hellcat, Mockingbird, Thunderstrike, Captain Marvel, Doctor Druid and the original Swordsman, along with Wonder Man, and they confront the current Avengers. The Avengers have trouble fighting their long-dead friends, and the Grim Reaper traps them all in Central Park, until, finally, the dead Avengers take down the living Avengers….

Full Summary: 

Fifth Avenue, busier than ever, alive with festivity, a parade is well underway. Balloons fill the sky, dancers dance along beside a myriad of musicians, while a float, the main attraction, carries a very special group of people. Countless citizens and tourists line the pavement, and here to catch the action is well-known reporter Megan McLaren for Channel 5, who begins by telling viewers that New Yorkers have a reputation for being sour and cynical, but not today. ‘And the reason why is simple! It’s Avengers Day!’. Megan declares that the city is so glad to have its heroes back after losing them for months, and that this years anniversary of the team’s founding is being celebrated with an Avengers day parade.

With the festivities carrying on behind her, Megan turns to some of the fans, watching and waiting with anticipation. ‘I came all the way from Duluth for this! Just the chance to see them - any of them - Cap, Iron Man - heck, even Deathcry would be fine!’. An African American man holds his son, dressed in a Black Panther costume up on his shoulder and tells Megan that he wants his son to see that there are heroes in the world, something to aspire to. ‘I’d be happier, of course if I could show him the Panther, Photon or Falcon…’. Megan returns to the camera and declares that whether watches are hoping to see any Avenger, or their particular favourites, everyone is definitely excited. ‘And with that, let’s go to the reviewing stand, and our hosts…’.

‘Hi folks! I’m the Stunt-Master - and with me is Chili Storm, former supermodel and long-time star of TV’s “Secret Hospital”!’ exclaims the yellow-and-blue clad host. ‘Hey! Not that long-time!’ Chili exclaims. Reading from electronic cue-cards, the Stunt-Master apologizes to Chili and exclaims that it seems that every year she is nominated for a Daytime Emmy - ‘And, well, how many times has it been?’ he asks. ‘Ten! And no, I haven’t won one yet!’ Chili replies, before remarking that the Stunt-Man is all over the place with his cycle shows and cable re-runs of his old series. ‘Hey, not that old!’ jokes the Stunt-Master, before adding that since Chili mentions it, the Stunt-Master Cycle Extravaganza is coming to the meadowlands - ‘Whoa! Sorry Stunt - I don’t mean to interrupt, but if you’ll look to the left - here they come!’ Chili exclaims.

Thirty-five years ago, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers brought us the first issue of the mighty Avengers - and began a rich and storied tradition of heroic adventure. Today, that tradition continues as we mark the occasion with a little…POMP & PAGENATRY.

Indeed, eight powerful individuals stand on the float, a large A in center of it - Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, Thor, Dr. Hank Pym a.k.a. Giant-Man, Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp, the Vision, Vance Astrovik a.k.a. Justice and Angelica Jones a.k.a. Firestar, who comprise almost the entire roster of the current Avengers. ‘AVENGERS RULE!’ someone in the crowd screams. Balloons resembling the Hulk, the Black Panther and even Jarvis are towed behind the float, while Police officers stand at the barriers, keeping the crazed civilians off the street and out of the way of the parade.

The Stunt-Master remarks that the City Council in front of the float sure look happy, while up above the celebrations, swinging about the high-rise buildings is none-other than Spider-Man a.k.a. Peter Parker, gazing down at the parade, he wishes that he could be down there, since he was a member for a little while. ‘But with the Parker luck, some-thing would go horribly wrong and we’d end up being tarred and feathered by the crowd! So have a happy, guys - you’ve earned it!’ Spider-Man thinks to himself as he swings away.

Captain America smiles and waves as he speaks through his teeth to Iron Man, remarking that this is a little uncomfortable after all the “Capmania” he lived through recently and the trouble it caused. Steve asks Tony if he should even be here considering his injuries. Iron Man replies that he will be fine, after all it is just a parade. He adds that with all the world has been through recently, he doesn’t know that this parade isn’t more for them than the Avengers.

Giant-Man asks the Vision how the projector is working out, to which the Vision replies that it is functioning well, allowing his holographic form to leave the mansion while his body continues its self-repair. The Vision points out that Hank has changed his costume to a variant of his Goliath design, just as his previous one echoed his Ant-Man garb. ‘But you never use elements from your Yellowjacket design…’ the Vision remarks. Hank continues to wave and smile as he explains the reason - that he was mentally ill when he “created” Yellowjacket, and it was in that suit that he hit Jan. ‘Struck my own wife…’. Hank points out that although Janet may have forgiven him for that, he hasn’t forgiven himself. ‘Yellowjacket’s dead - and I want him to stay buried!’.

The Wasp turns to Firestar and Justice and points out that they are full Avengers now, so she asks them how they like it. ‘It’s amazing, Wasp…I mean, Jan!’ Vance replies nervously, waving his hands up in the air he exclaims that he is proud to have been one of the New Warriors, and thinks the team accomplished a lot of good. ‘but this is so - so - ‘ Jan interrupts, ‘Overstated, maybe?’ she asks. ‘What about you, Firestar?’. Angelica smiles sheepishly and replies that she supposes it is fine.

Giant Man informs Firestar that the Scarlet Witch told him about her little problem - how her power endangers her health at high levels, and offers to run some tests and see what he can do for her. ‘I - I - yes, I’d like that!’ Angelica replies. Hank tells her that they will start in a day or two. Firestar thinks to herself ‘My “little” problem’? quoting Hank. ‘Maybe to him - but to me it’s been terrifying! If the Avengers can fix it…’. Thor, the mighty God of Thunder stands solemnly, thinking to himself that the mortals do applaud most fulsomely, and notes that, once, he would have accepted it as his due, but, today, he walks among the mortals as Jake Olsen, and it is most unlike his earlier human guise, and most unsettling. ‘Much hath changed since the Avengers began…’.

As if on-cue, the Stunt-Master reports that it was the menace of the self-styled “God of Evil”, Loki who brought the Avengers together, years ago, which is when Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Wasp and Ant-Man first came together, and stayed together, even when that battle was complete. Video archive footage of the Original Avengers battling Loki is shown, while Chili Storm announces it was only weeks after that Captain America, the famed hero of World War II, was revived and joined the noble band.

Footage of Captain America with his side-kick Rick Jones is shown with Thor, Iron Man, Wasp and Giant-Man, before Chili explains that Cap is thought by many to be the last of the Original Avengers, making the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Hawkeye, tyro heroes under Cap’s command after the other founders left, the first major roster change for the group. Footage of Captain America and his fellow “Kooky Quartet” are shown.

But by no means the last roster change! Stunt-Master announces that, over the years, the Avengers have counted among their number heroes from all walks of life - from “the girl-next-door” types, to monarchs of other lands - stalwarts from the future and out of space. ‘And through it all, the team has truly earned the sobriquet of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”!’. Chili Storm informs the audience that almost all of the team’s founding members are here, including Giant-Man and the Wasp, who have just become the team’s latest Reserve Members.

Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute in Westchester, home of the Uncanny X-Men, the mutant heroes are watching the parade on television. ‘Give me a break! The X-Men debuted around the same time as the Avengers - but do we get a fuss over out anniversary?!’ asks Shadowcat to her teammates Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Gambit and Marrow. Colossus replies that it is what they do that matters, not how the press treats them, adding that the Avengers and the X-Men both have much to be proud of. ‘Besides, who cares? We’re not in competition with them, are we?’ Marrow asks. ‘Oh?’ Shadowcat mutters, pointing to the screen, where a fan is holing up a poster with the Beast on it, which reads Born to be an Avenger! Wolverine frowns, ‘Forget it, Bub. He’s ours’.

Back at the celebration, the Stunt-Master reports that not all of the founding members have been so lucky, as the Incredible Hulk, recently pardoned for his destructive acts by the government, is once again hunted and hounded.

At that moment, Dr. Bruce Banner watches several TV screen which show an image of his other self, the Hulk, and thinks to himself that if the Hulk did one good thing in his misbegotten existence it would have to be the Avengers. ‘But I can’t linger - I’ve got a chance to find out who killed my wife - and I’ve got to follow up on it!’ Bruce tells himself.

Chili Storm adds that even current members are absent today, announcing that she has received a report that Hawkeye, long one of the team’s mainstays, has left the roster on a special mission.

‘Huh? Someone mention my name?’ Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton exclaims as he sits in a waiting room, where a woman is watching the celebrations on TV. A door opens and a man tells Hawkeye that the Commission will see him now. ‘Well all right. Took long enough!’ Clint exclaims as he gets up.

The Stunt-Master reports that there has been no word on why Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch is not present, nor what the status of Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man is, the long-thought-dead Avenger who has been sighted with the team recently.

The Scarlet Witch, one of the most powerful mutants in existence, and long-serving Avenger arrives at Whisper Hill. As she climbs the winding stairs to the sprawling mansion she recalls reading that the entire estate was destroyed - twice - but here is stands in perfect shape, and looking as if not a single board has been replaced since it was built over two hundred years ago. Wanda tells herself that she shouldn’t be surprised, not when she has seen Whisper Hill’s owner burned at the stake before her very eyes, only to return months later in perfect health and without explanation. ‘I suppose I should get used to things like that - but I don’t think I’ll ever take anything for granted where Agatha Harkness is concerned’.

Pressing the doorbell on the verandah, Wanda reminds herself that Agatha is the one who tutored her when she first began to study true magic. ‘And I hope she’s home today - because I desperately her help!’ Suddenly the door swings open by herself, and entering, Wanda sees Ebony, Agatha’s black cat, run past her and over to a figure standing in the hallway. ‘Ah - you are home!’ Wanda exclaims, looking up at her former mentor. A stern Agatha strokes Ebony’s head and tells Wanda that she looks good. ‘More attuned to nature, I think’ Agatha remarks, before declaring ‘But it is your powers you have come to me about, is it not?’.

‘What? How did you -?’ Wanda exclaims, as Agatha reveals that she has been expecting Wanda’s visit, although not for some years. ‘But the nature of it shines out from you like a beacon. Something has happened to you - changed you. Tell me, child!’ the old witch exclaims. Wanda explains that it happened recently, ‘Or at least I think it did’

(Shown with flashback illustrations to events over the last few issues)
Wanda tells Agatha that it began when Morgan Le Fay battled the Avengers. ‘She kidnapped me, and suffused me with her magical energies - to use me as a bridge between her magic and the reality-shaping power of the Asgardian Twilight Sword’. Wanda explains that after Le Fay was done with her, the power stayed within her, and she was able to use it to send out a call to reassemble the Avengers - and even after Morgan’s defeat the power remained, explaining that she was able to sense the distortion of the Squadron Supreme’s natures when they were controlled by the Corrupter, and to tap into the power of the Earth itself to block the seismic power of Moses Magnum.

Solemnly, Wanda tells Agatha that all of that has been transitory, moments that have come and gone. ‘The strangest thing I’ve been dealing with, all though this - is the ability to bring Simon Williams - Wonder Man - back from the dead!’. Wanda reminds Agatha that Simon died months ago in battle with the alien Kree, but somehow, when she made that mystical call from Morgan’s dungeon, she managed to reach him somehow, and bring him back. ‘He said he was waiting between life and death’. But, when she asked him what let him hang on like that for so long, he told her it wasn’t important. ‘He couldn’t - or wouldn’t - say why’.

Wanda tells Agatha that once they made it back to Avengers Mansion, Tony Stark and Hank Pym ran a battery of tests on her, looking for a reason - but they were unable to find out how she could summon Wonder Man either. ‘Still, I could - and the more I’ve summoned him, the more disturbing its grown. First he’d only appear when I called for him - but then he began to appear if I subconsciously wished he were there - and most recently he even manifested when I was unconscious - utterly unable to call him!’.

‘They actually tried to find a scientific answer? How…mortal’ Agatha remarks. ‘Well, they -’ Wanda begins in defense of her friends, but Agatha tells her that it is a good thing she has come here, and assures her that Morgan’s magicks are no longer within, but they have caused Wanda’s own power to mature before its time. The old witch tells Wanda that unless she learns to understand it, and subsume it within her, the results could be disastrous. ‘Already the boundaries between realms grow dangerously thin…!’.

Back at the celebrations, Chili Storm remarks ‘And then there are the villains! The Avengers have gone up against a virtual who’s who of the most powerful and dangerous beings the universe has to offer - but none of them have been able to put the Avengers down for the count!’. Stunt-Master tells the audience that, instead, those foes have ended up in prison, fled into hiding, or possibly reside in some realm unimaginable to the human mind….

In prison, Imus Champion is watching the celebrations on prison. ‘Imus? Mister Champion? Sir, are you listening to me?’ his lawyer asks him, announcing that their motion to dismiss goes well, as most of the evidence self-destructed before it was catalogued. ‘And as for the Avengers’ direct statements, we’re arguing that -’ the lawyer is interrupted by Imus who mutters ‘Petty matters, best left to petty minds. I challenged the Avengers - and they defeated me. I must train, must prepare. And next time…’.

In an unknown location, a mechanical being watches the proceedings, and exclaims ‘So, dear “Father” - you celebrate, and bask in the adulation of the masses. Enjoy it while you can, my flawed progenitor - for the time of the human’s is coming to an end - and my time is dawning!’.

While, elsewhere, unimaginable to the human mind, a familiar figure carrying a scythe watches the proceedings from his realm, ‘Soon, my most hated enemies. Soon…’ he thinks to himself.

Back on Earth, Daredevil sits on a ledge of a building, his enhanced senses pick up the smell of sweat and thousands of accelerated heartbeats. ‘This crowd - they really love the Avengers!’. Daredevil wonders what it would like to be a member, to have that kind of approval. ‘They asked once - but I was right to turn them down’ he thinks, as a balloon with the face of the Black Widow, a close associate of his, floats by. Daredevil tells himself that having a group around him would overwhelm his senses, swamp him with impressions. ‘So it’s best that Daredevil swings alone - but I still sometimes wonder…’ he admits as he swings away.

Chili Storm reports that the Avengers don’t just fight villains, and exclaims that their greatest triumph may be the former foes who have become Avengers themselves and fought on the side of justice - including Wonder Man, the Black Widow, the Swordsman, the Living Lightning and more!

Meanwhile, back at Whisper Hill, Agatha remarks that the time has come, perhaps too soon, but that cannot be helped. ‘You must learn the true nature of your birth!’. Surprised, Wanda replies that she already knows - ‘Silence, you know the pieces, but not the pattern!’ Agatha exclaims.

(Narrated by Agatha Harkness, various flashback illustrations)
‘For instance, you were born a mutant with your twin Pietro, born on Wundagore Mountain, midwifed by an evolved cow - and the mountain itself shone the night you were born’. Agatha reminds Wanda that, as she learned years later, the light was a manifestation of the chaos-demon, Chthon, trapped in the depths of the mountain, imbuing Wanda with magickal potential, that Chthon thought he might use her as a host through which to one day escape his imprisonment.

As Agatha points out, Wanda grew up ignorant of all this, and also her true parentage, living as the child of the gypsy Django Maximoff. Agatha reminds Wanda that she and Pietro were torn by circumstance from their adoptive father and cast into the world on their own, where they came to learn how humans can fear and hate - ‘Even a half-grown mutant, whose only crime was the lack of control over her terrible power‘.

‘You were saved that day, by your biological father, though neither of you knew of your blood relationship at the time - MAGNETO, the Mutant Master of Magnetism!’. Agatha reveals to Wanda something she doesn’t know - that if now for Chthon, she would have been merely an energy-wielding mutant, like her father. ‘Instead, though, you were linked to Chthon’s power - to the volatile chaos-magick that lies at his essence’. Agatha declares that it was this energy, this mystic energy, that Wanda wielded first as Magneto’s vassal, then as an Avenger.

‘And though you wielded it in as a completely unschooled manner, even barely-directed Chthonic magick is no small thing: probability-ruptures, temporal shifts, sudden gusts of physical force - your “hexes” brought disasters on your foes’. Agatha concludes by telling Wanda that, when she encountered her, she tried to train her, to teach her an affinity for her natural abilities so that she would be better prepared when this time came.

(Present / Reality)
Wanda, who has been listening intently, picks up Ebony and asks Agatha if what she is saying is that she was wielding Chthonic magick all along - essentially hurling “chaos-grenades” which were influenced only be her subconscious thoughts, and remarks that recently she has begun to tap more deeply into the power, and when she concentrates, she can direct it more consciously. Agatha replies that “chaos-grenade” Is an inelegant metaphor, but in essence, is correct. ‘Chaos magick is wild magick. Nature magick - but she who is attuned to it can guide it, and shape it to her will’.

Agatha remarks that such shaping will take time and conscious effort, so Wanda’s “chaos-grenades” will still serve her in battle. ‘But you can control your power, child. You can - and you’ll have to!’ Agatha tells Wanda with great certainty.

Meanwhile, at Four Freedoms Plaza, home to the Fantastic Four, the Thing is mocking the celebrations: ‘Yak yak yak yak - who’d’a thought there was this much hot air in all of Manhattan?!’ he exclaims. ‘But go ahead, folks - make all the flashy show and noise you like - just so you don’t forget who was here first - namely the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing and his buddies in the Fantastic Four!’.

Chili Storm tells the viewers that the procession has come to a very solemn part of the festivities, where the Avengers are going to pay tribute to those of their number who have fallen. ‘Heroes who have given their lives forb the cause of justice - such as the Swordsman, Mockingbird, Gilgamesh and more’. The Stunt-Master announces that they are going back to Megan McLaren in Central Park for direct coverage of the ceremony.

With the Avengers, the Mayor and other officials on the stage behind her, Megan thanks the Stunt-Master before remarking that the parade has come to a halt here in Central Park where the Mayor is greeting the Avengers, preparatory to dedicating a plaque in the names of all the deceased Avengers - replicating the statue that once honored those heroes thought lost in the Onslaught disaster, but have since returned. Captain America takes to the podium and thanks the Mayor and the other officials, as well as the people of New York. ‘You do us great honor!’ he tells them, before declaring that it is not the living they come to honor, instead it is - ‘Huh? That - that light!?!’ Cap gasps as a blinding blue light appears.

At Four Freedoms Plaza the Thing, watching still, spurts his drink out, and calls out to his teammates, ‘Come quick - and take a look at this!’.

‘ENOUGH!’ bellows the Grim Reaper a.k.a. Eric Williams, as a large astral projection of himself appears over the celebrations, his scythe, attached to his right hand swings around, and green energy flows from it. ‘No more platitudes! No more self-serving, empty tributes to those you’ve murdered! Murdered and Forgotten!’ he shouts.

The crowd begins pointing and running away, while the Grim Reaper exclaims that for too long have they killed - callously and cruelly. ‘Too long! It’s time for your past to catch up to you - for you to pay the price!’. Captain America orders his team to fan out, to protect the Mayor and encourage evacuation, while telling the Grim Reaper that this doesn’t have to be a battle, and reminds him that they have beaten him every other time they have faced in the past. ‘If you’ve got a problem, the Avengers always stand ready to help - even you!’.

The Grim Reaper just scoffs at Cap’s offer of help. ‘Your “help”! Worse than nothing, Avengers!’ he exclaims, before remarking that he has no attention of fighting the Avengers himself. ‘Meet your accusers, killers…’ he begins as his scythe fires seven streams of green energy down to the ground. ‘Those bolts!’ ‘He’s attacking!’ ‘RUN!’ ‘He’ll kill -’ ‘Wait! Look - look!’ ‘Where the bolts are hitting!’ cry the various people in the crowd.

‘Meet your executioners!’ exclaims the Grim Reaper, as six figures rise from the ground…’Captain Marvel!…Doctor Druid…Hellcat…Mockingbird…Swordsman…Thunderstrike!’ A look of horror spreads across Captain America’s face, and the Wasp exclaims ‘They - they’re all…’ her voice trails off, while Captain America points out that there were seven bolts of energy. Indeed, the Grim Reaper exclaims ‘And one who you thought had returned to you - who you used as a weapon and gave not a moment’s more thought to…Wonder Man!’. Simon Williams stands in front of the other dead Avengers and exclaims ‘All right, Avengers - let’s get this party started!’.

At Whisper Hill, the Scarlet Witch remarks that Agatha has told her a lot - shown her something she would never have guessed. ‘But that’s not really why I came’ she exclaims, before revealing that she was hoping Agatha could help her understand what is going on with Simon, why she can bring him back, and how she can do it permanently. ‘Really…?’ Agatha replies.

Back at Central Park, the Grim Reaper laughs wickedly as he watches the deceased Avengers battle the current line-up. ‘You failed us, Iron Man! You failed us all!’ Mar-Vell shouts at Iron Man as their energies battle each other. Stark tells Mar-Vell to stop fighting, reminding him they were friends. Tony thinks to himself that this makes no sense, as the Grim Reaper was Wonder Man’s brother, and he was always obsessed with Simon or himself. ‘We care about these folks, but why would he - and why isn’t he dead himself? Lord, I hate magic!’.

Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat leaps at Firestar, kicking her over as she exclaims ‘So, you must be the latest little ingénue - eh, red? Well, let me warn you: THE AVENGERS DON’T TAKE VERY GOOD CARE OF THEIR INGENUES!’. Giant-Man asks Simon if they can talk about this, but Simon punches Hank in the face, telling him that the time for talk is past. ‘The time for talk was when we were alive!’. Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse-Barton tosses one of her battle staves against a rubbish bin and it bounces up, smacking Justice in the face as she tells him that he is hesitating. ‘What’s the matter - can’t fight a fellow Avenger? That’ll cost you!’.

The Wasp tries to fly away from Doctor Druid as the sorcerer grabs exclaims that he should have been leader. ‘I’d never have let you die - unavenged!’. Janet tells Druid to stay back, as she doesn’t want to hurt him. Thor and Thunderstrike clash, their weapons clanging together as Thor tells Eric Masterton that he is a better man than this, reminding him that he earned a place in Valhalla, even though he refused it. ‘Why dost thou serve a villain now?’ he asks. Enraged, Thunderstrike replies ‘I took your place, Thor! YOUR place! You should have died - not me!’.

Captain America blocks the Swordsman’s attack with his shield as Jacques Duquesne tells him not to lie to him. ‘You wanted a sacrificial lamb - it’s the only reason you let me in! I was cannon fodder - never accepted as a real Avenger!’. Captain America assures the Swordsman that his allegation is not true, while Cap tells himself that this is the first Swordsman all right. ‘I’d hoped it was a trick - but the Reaper’s brought back our honored dead! Our fallen! We can’t fight them!’.

The Vision confronts the Grim Reaper, asking him to explain his self. ‘What is it you seek here? You hated the Avengers for your brother’s death - and hated me for having Simon’s brain patterns as part of my synthesis mind - but you put that behind you - before you died!’ the Vision recaps. ‘Before we all died, wouldn’t you say? Simon’s a ghost, I’m something worse, and you - you’re nothing more than a jumped-up multi-media display these days, aren’t you?’ the Grim Reaper exclaims, motioning to the projector that allows the Vision to be present here. ‘What is it you seek here?’ the Vision asks, ignoring the Grim Reaper’s comment. ‘Oh, SHUT UP!’ Eric replies as he shatters the projector with an energy bolt, causing the Vision to vanish. ‘That’s better!’ the Grim Reaper exclaims, before announcing that what he wants can wait.

Back amongst the fighting Avengers, ‘HURT me?’ Druid asks as he blasts the Wasp with a psychic energy beam. ‘You couldn’t hurt me on your best day, van Dyne!’ he exclaims, before remarking that now that his psycho-kinetic blast has felled the Wasp, it is time to demolish the rest of the team, and he blasts Justice, who was hovering over Mockingbird. ‘Thanks, Druid!’ Bobbi exclaims, while Captain Marvel fires another blast at Iron Man, knocking the armored Avenger backwards. ‘you’re slow, Iron Man - and sluggish! But you’ll find no mercy here!’. Tony, weak from his injuries, cannot concentrate.

‘You’re through, goldilocks!’ Thunderstrike shouts at Thor, throwing his weapon at him, it lands on Thor’s chest as Eric knows that Thor’s warrior’s code will not let him fight all-out against a friend. ‘But I’ve got no reason to hold back, Giant-Man - none at all!’ Wonder Man exclaims as he continues to punch Hank hard in the face. Firestar begins blasting her microwave energies at Hellcat, but Patsy dodges them with graceful ease, ‘Nice shot, kid!’ she tells Angelica. ‘But I was shooting the curl at Malibu on Summer vacations while you were still in diapers! You can’t touch me!’.

Captain America is backed up against a tree by the Swordsman, ‘They’re hurting us - badly - we’ve got to get past them - get to the Reaper, somehow, or we’re…’ his voice trails off.

Video footage shows Captain Marvel taking down Firestar, while the Stunt-Master reports that the battle is going badly for the Avengers, and explains that their reception is being interfered with. At Central Park, Megan McLaren reports that some sort of energy bubble or dome has sprung up around the South end of the Park, and it is keeping her and all the civilians out, pushing them back, while the Avengers are inside. Panic is all around her as the civilians don’t know what to do. Megan announces that she will try to keep covering the events as long as she can, but that it is getting harder to see what is - she is cut off as there is some sort of power surge.

Television screens around the country go fuzzy with static, and Chili Storm calls out to Megan, ‘Megan! Are you there? Can you hear me!?’ she asks. The Stunt-Master suddenly alerts Chili to the wall of energy - heading straight towards them….

‘You’re laughing, Agatha, but why?’ Wanda asks Agatha. The old witch puts her hands to Wanda’s face and apologizes, remarking that it never occurred to her that she would ask such a simple question. ‘How could you not know how you bring Simon to life?’ Agatha asks, smiling as she declares that Wanda is Simon’s anchor to the living world because he loves her more than life itself. ‘And that love has kept him from passing on’. Agatha tells Wanda that all she has to do to rescue him, to bring Simon back permanently, is to return that love. Shocked, a wide-eyed Wanda replies ‘You mean all I have to do - is love him back?’

While at that very moment, Wonder Man stands over the unmoving bodies of the Avengers, Hellcat, Mockingbird and the others stand on the horizon, and Wonder Man shouts ‘At last - at last - the Avengers have FALLEN!’.

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Firestar, Iron Man, Justice, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision (all Avengers)
Giant-Man & Wasp (Reserve Avengers)
Hawkeye (Inactive Avenger)
Bruce Banner / Hulk, Spider-Man (Former Avengers)
Captain Marvel, Doctor Druid, Hellcat, Mockingbird, Swordsman, Thunderstrike, Wonder Man (all Deceased Avengers)

Agatha Harkness

Colossus, Gambit, Marrow, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic, Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Megan McLaren (Reporter)
Chili Storm & Stunt-Master (hosts of the Avengers Parade)

Grim Reaper
Imus Champion

People in the Avengers Parade
People watching the Avengers Parade
Camera Crews and Reporters
Police Officers
City Councilors

Staff at the Commission Office
Imus Champion’s lawyer
Mayor and other officials

In Illustrative Image:
Beast, Black Knight IV, Black Panther, Black Widow, Crystal, Darkhawk, Dr. Druid, Falcon, Firebird, Firestar, Gilgamesh, Hellcat, Hercules, Human Torch I, Justice, Living Lightning, Mantis, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Moondragon, Ms. Marvel, Photon, Quasar, She-Hulk, Sersi, Spider-Woman II, Starfox, Stingray, Sub-Mariner, Swordsman, Thunderstrike, Tigra, USAgent, Vision, War Machine, Wonder Man (all Avengers)
Captain Marvel I, Deathcry, Demolition Man, Guardians of the Galaxy (Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Matrinex, Nikki, Starhawk, Yondu), Jocasta, Rick Jones, Magdalene, Marrina, Masque II, Swordsman II, Two-Gun Kid, Whizzer, Yellowjacket II (all Honorary Avengers)
Invisible Woman, Machine Man, Mister Fantastic, Rage, Sandman, Spider-Man, Thing (all former Avengers, resigned or removed from roster)
Aragon (Black Knight IV’s horse)

In Illustrative Image:
Ares, Arkon, Attuma, Baron Zemo I, Baron Zemo II, Black Knight II, Cactus, Circus of Crime (The Clown, Princess Python, Ringmaster, Strongman),Count Nefaria, Dormammu, Dr. Doom, Egghead, Enchantress, Executioner, Grandmaster, Graviton, Grim Reaper, High Evolutionary, Immortus Imus Champion, Kang, Klaw, Korvac, Lava Man, The Living Laser, Loki, Magneto, Man Ape, Mandrarin, Master Pandemonium, The Melter, Modred, Molecule Man, Morgan le Fay, Orca, Power Man (Josten), Proctor, Radioactive Man, Red Guardian I, Red Ronin, The Serpent Crown, Space Phantom, Super-Adaptoid, Supreme Intelligence, Swordsman I, Taskmaster, Terminus, Thanos, Ultrana, Ultron, Whirlwind, Wonder Man, The Zodiac I, The Zodiac II (LMDs)

In Flashback images:
Ant-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp (all Original Avengers)
Captain America, Giant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp (all Founding Avengers)
Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch (all First Generation Avengers)
Rick Jones (Captain America’s side-kick)

In Scarlet Witch’s Recent Flashback:
Giant Man, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man (all Avengers)
Arcanna / Moonglow II, Doctor Spectrum, Haywire, Hyperion, Power Princess, Shape, Skylark, Whizzer (all Squadron Supreme)
Moses Mangum

Re-Telling Origin of Scarlet Witch Flashback:
Scarlet Witch at various times in her life
Quicksilver at various times in his life
Django & Marya Maximoff (Wanda’s adoptive parents)
Angry Villagers
Mastermind & Toad (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)
Agatha Harkness & Ebony

Story Notes: 

The Avengers and several other heroes were thought dead while battling Onslaught, in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. They returned to Earth in Heroes Reborn: The Return #1-4.

Megan McLaren is a reporter created by Kurt Busiek, whom appeared in several issues of Busiek’s Avengers and Thunderbolts runs.

The Stunt-Master is a little-known character who first appeared in Daredevil (1st series) #58, and among other Daredevil appearances, appeared frequently in Ghost Rider (2nd series).

First appearance of Chili Storm, who has only appeared in this arc.

Spider-Man joined the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #316, quitting in #318, although he often affiliated himself with them until Avengers (3rd series) #1, when he was removed from the roster.

The “Capmania” that Captain America suffered took place in Captain America (3rd series) #5-7, while Iron Man’s injuries are the result of events that occurred in Iron Man (3rd series) #8-10.

The Vision was damaged in Avengers (3rd series) #3, and since then has only appeared while his body was being repaired.

Hank Pym, as Yellowjacket, struck the Wasp in Avengers (1st series) #212. Although he mentions that he will not wear the Yellowjacket costume again, he later returns to it during Busiek’s run, and continues to wear it even to this day.

Justice and Firestar are both founding, and long-serving members of the New Warriors, who became involved in the “Once an Avenger…” saga [Avengers (3rd series) #1-2], and were offered Reserve Status membership in Avengers (3rd series) #4, before becoming full members of the team in Avengers (3rd series) #9.

Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Ant-Man and Hulk battled Loki in the uber-classic Avengers (1st series) #1. When Captain America was found in Avengers (1st series) #4, he was retro-actively made a founding member of the team and the Hulk officially removed from the roster. The next, famous, change took place in Avengers (1st series) #16, with Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joining the team. Of those, Captain America and the Scarlet Witch have served longer than any other Avenger, both leading the team at various points.

Rivaling the X-Men in number of members, the Avengers line-up has been pretty much constantly changing. Arguably, the most significant members, and those who have served for extended periods of time, since the first line-up change would include: the Vision, Hercules, the Black Widow, Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel, Beast, Photon, She-Hulk, the Black Knight, USAgent and Sersi.

Although he is most recognized as an X-Man, the Beast did spend an extended period of time with the Avengers - he began hanging out with them in Avengers (3rd series) #137, and officially joined the team in Avengers (1st series) #151, remaining with the team until #211. He then joined the Defenders, remaining with them for almost fifty issues, until their disbanding, where upon he founded the Original X-Factor with his fellow Original X-Men. [Defenders (1st series) #103-152, X-Factor (1st series) #1].

Hawkeye is meeting with the Commission on Superhuman Activity, as seen in Thunderbolts #20-21.

Wonder Man died in Force Works #1, and the Scarlet Witch has been able to conjure him since Avengers (3rd series) #2.

Agatha Harkness, one of the most powerful natural magicians in the Marvel Universe, was burned alive by her own grandchildren, Salem’s Seven, in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #3, retuning without explanation in Avengers West Coast #51.

The Scarlet Witch was kidnapped was kidnapped by Morgan Le Fay in Avengers (3rd series) #1.

The Scarlet Witch detected the manipulation of the Squadron Supreme in Avengers (3rd series) #6.

The Scarlet Witch blocked Moses Mangum’s power in Avengers (3rd series) #9.

Notably absent from the montage of villains are various members of the Masters of Evil, the Wrecking Crew, the Night Shift (who fought the Avengers West Coast on many occasions), and the Lethal Legion.

Special thanks to Binaryan for identifying the following characters on the villains montage page: Ares, Grandmaster, Imus Champion, Korvac, Lava Man, Living Laser, Melter, Modred, Molecule Man, Radioactive Man, Proctor, Serpent Crown, Super-Adaptoid, Ultrana.

Imus Champion was defeated by the Avengers and Squadron Supreme in Avengers (3rd series) #5-6. He gets his revenge in Avengers / Squadron Supreme 1998 Annual, but is again defeated by the Mightiest Heroes of two Earths.

The mechanical being in hiding is of course Ultron, who returns to plague his “Father”, Giant-Man, and the other Avengers in Avengers (3rd series) #19-22.

Daredevil isn’t the only hero who declined membership in the Avengers: Archangel, Iceman, Dazzler, the Shroud, Silver Surfer, Jewel, Black Cat, Songbird and Doc Samson have all turned down offers to join.

For years the Scarlet Witch fought alongside or against Magneto, both unaware of their true relationship until the classic Vision & Scarlet Witch (1st series) #4.

The Grim Reaper last appeared in Wonder Man (2nd series) #25.

As at the time of this issues printing, the Avengers that were deceased consisted of: Dr. Druid, Gilgamesh, Hellcat, Mockingbird, Swordsman, Thunderstrike, Wonder Man, Captain Marvel I, Jocasta, Marrina, Two-Gun Kid, Whizzer, Yellowjacket II.

Avengers that die following this issue include: Ant-Man II, Hawkeye, Jack-of-Hearts and the Vision.

Avengers that have since been resurrected include: Hawkeye, Hellcat, Jocasta, Marrina and Wonder Man.

It should probably be clarified that the deceased Avengers seen this issue are NOT buried in Central Park.

Captain Marvel a.k.a. Mar-Vell, the Kree warrior died of cancer in Marvel Graphic Novel #1: The Death of Captain Marvel. He was then posthumously made an Honorary Avenger.

Doctor Anthony Ludgate Druid was one of the more unconventional members of the Avengers as well as being one of the members whose tenure was rather short. Years later he was killed. [Druid #4]

Hellcat a.k.a. Patsy Walker Baxter Hellstrom only spent a little time with the Avengers, but during that time became close to most of the then current roster, before she joined the Defenders, remaining there for years as one of the core members. When she retired from the Defenders with her second husband, Hellstorm, she later became immensely depressed and committed suicide in Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #14, though her voice was heard on a radio transmission in #15, vowing to return, which eventually she did in Thunderbolts Annual #1

Barbara “Bobbi” Morse Barton, better known as Mockingbird the wife of Hawkeye, was killed by Mephisto, sacrificing herself so Hawkeye would live. [Avengers West Coast #100]

The Original Swordsman, Jacques Duquesne, died while saving his beloved Mantis in battle. [Giant-Sized Avengers #2]. His reanimated form would later marry Mantis.

Thunderstrike a.k.a. Eric Masterton sacrificed his life after being possessed by the Bloodaxe in Thunderstrike #24.

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