Avengers (3rd series) #7

Issue Date: 
August 1998
Story Title: 
Live Kree or Die! - part 4: The court martial of Carol Danvers

Kurt Busiek (writer), George Perez (penciler), Al Vey (inker), Tom Smith (colors), The Usual Suspects (letters), Tom Breevoort (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Warbird receives a court martial at the hands of her fellow Avengers, the proceedings being chaired by Thor. Iron Man, Captain America and Quicksilver provide evidence against her relating to her alcoholism, her lack of professionalism and her inability to follow Avengers procedures. Before a verdict is forthcoming, the Vision receives a call from the Moon saying the Lunatic Legion is still a threat. They scramble for the Space Quinjet as Cap asks Vision to contact the reserves, Justice and Firestar. Warbird quits the team before she is pushed, much to Wanda’s dismay. Heading into space, Cap pilots them past a barrage of enemy fire and they land safely on the Moon where a group of soldiers immediately attacks them. As the battle progresses, the Avenger’s foes begin to disappear and Iron Man concludes that they are being converted into energy. They finally fight their way through to find the omni-wave projector ready to fire at the Earth. Meanwhile, Carol thinks about her prospects and they look bleak. She figures if she joins the fight, they’ll beg her to rejoin them and sets off for the Moon under her own steam. However at one point the air gets to thin and Warbird falls back to Earth, desperate for a drink. Galen Kor tells the Avengers they are too late to prevent the launch of the omni-wave projector but Thor opens a portal to shove the weapon into. Unfortunately, Galen Kor attacks him and as they fight, the portal begins to shrink. Justice proposes that Firestar use her microwave energy to juice up the portal and despite her reservations regarding her health, she manages to increase the portal’s size which allows Justice to telekinetically shove the weapon through it, just as Galen Kor is converted into energy, the last of the Kree to do so. With the Earth saved, S.H.I.E.L.D and Starcore personnel arrive to look after the Supreme Intelligence, who sabotaged its own people and send the call to Avengers mansion. The Intelligence was not interested in a reborn Kree race in their old image, he rather wants them to genetically develop further. Carol meanwhile sits in a bar, looking at a drink and considers her future.

Full Summary: 

In the mysterious blue area of the Moon, the Supreme Intelligence is not best pleased. It destroyed its own empire by triggering a nega-bomb in the heart of Kree space to help jump start his people’s evolution and came to Earth to wait out the incubation period and study humanity as it did so. Unfortunately, it was ‘rescued’ by Admiral Galen-Kor’s troops, the Lunatic Legion who seek revenge on Earth. They wish to turn all humanity into genetic duplicates of the dead-end Kree. The Supreme Intelligence has tried to thwart them but they are a resilient bunch and have proven infuriatingly resourceful.

Admiral Kor kneels down before his leader and raises the universal weapon above his head. He regrets to inform the Intelligence of another failure. Though they did escape with the data and the power they needed, he says, the Avengers have destroyed the power-pod and no replacement can be secured. However, they will atone and achieve victory in his name. They will sacrifice their lives, their very essences to fuel the omni-wave broadcast, and a new Kree empire will be reborn. He stands up and departs, adding that they go to their deaths with love for the intelligence on their lips and he will have new subjects soon. As he leaves, the Supreme Intelligence frowns. No, it is not pleased at all.

Back on Earth, an all too familiar court martial is taking place at Avengers mansion. Warbird cuts a lonely figure as she approaches a table where her fellow Avengers are assembled, along with the visiting Quicksilver. The Avengers present are Captain America, Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Thor, with the Vision’s presence coming courtesy of his holographic projector. They are all in costume as befitting a court martial. Cap declares the tribunal open and names those present before asking Warbird to step forward. He tells her that serious charges have been brought against her regarding her fitness as an Avenger and they must be answered. Iron Man whispers in Cap’s ear, asking if they have to do this so formally as he knows what she is going through but he replies that she left them no choice. She’s refused to deal with this any other way and for her sake, and the team’s, they have to act.

Cap says to everyone that he would normally be presiding over proceedings but as he is giving testimony, he hands the chair over to Thor. Therefore Thor takes the lead and tells Warbird that although everyone present knows her to be a true warrior, she faces grave charges; that alcoholism has made her derelict in her duties and a danger to herself and her fellow Avengers. He adds that if this is true then she should let her comrades aid her and help her triumph over it. Carol grimaces and Thor gets the message, continuing to ask that the testimony be handled in chronological order, beginning with Iron Man.

Thor asks Iron Man why he had expressed his reluctance to return Warbird to active status recently. Iron Man hesitates to speak against her, feeling a little guilty that he is partly responsible for things getting this far. He mentions that he found Warbird having a drink at the mansion and she’d made an excuse, pretending she hadn’t been drinking which made him suspect she may have a problem.

Carol exclaims “What! You mean you were against me from the start, poisoning the others against me…” Thor cuts her off mid-sentence telling her it isn’t her time to speak. He asks Iron Man why he had withdrawn his objection to allow Warbird to join and he replies that it was because he didn’t know for sure, and it wouldn’t have been fair to voice his concerns on such flimsy evidence.

Thor accepts his response and tells Captain America that he is up next. He says he should have noticed before. Warbird had obviously lost a great deal of power but he though she was just choosing to limit herself for training purposes and she was still formidable at a lower level. However, when during the battle with the Squadron Supreme, he ordered Warbird to help out against Hyperion and Power Princess, she needed all the force she could muster but still didn’t tap into the power she commanded when she was Binary. As team chairman, Cap needed to be able to depend on his team-mates’ abilities but she wouldn’t even discuss it.

The testimony goes on as Carol now listens impassively. Iron Man again offers some evidence against her. He had tried talking to Carol about her problem but she denied anything was wrong. During a meeting at Powersource, Inc. which he attended as Tony Stark, Warbird crashed in and, obviously under the influence of alcohol, threatened him. To her credit though, the Kree’s presence at Powersource wouldn’t have been uncovered if not for her. Captain America then offered a recollection of when Warbird called him down to Cape Canaveral. When he’d arrived there he discovered she had lied about calling the other Avengers. The Kree’s Lunatic Legion had been performing experiments on humans and they stopped them, but Warbird had disobeyed orders and was captured by the escaping Kree.

Quicksilver then explains how he had the Inhuman dog, Lockjaw teleport a rescue squad to the Moon. They discovered the true Kree purpose; to convert Earth’s populous into genetic duplicates of the Kree as punishment for their part in shattering their empire. To that end they were scanning Warbird’s unique Kree/human genes. They freed her but she managed to get stinking drunk and almost got them all killed, injuring Lockjaw in the process. Everyone is seated around the table as the standing Quicksilver continues to say that Warbird’s behavior was unprofessional, incompetent and far, far below the standards expected of an Avenger. He is about to explain how when he was in charge of the Inhumans’ militia, he would never have tolerated such behavior before Thor interrupts him and asks him to keep silent, as he is an inactive Avenger and here merely to give evidence, not to judge on who has long-since earned honor rather than scorn.

Thor then asks Carol that now she has heard the evidence against her, has she anything to say in her defense? Carol is at the end of her tether. She launches an attack on the proceedings, saying she has made a few mistakes, granted, but she’s done pretty well, all told. She was the one who exposed the Corrupter after all, she was the one who found the Kree and also the one who blew up their power unit. She admits that maybe she shouldn’t have hidden her power loss, but she’d already lost her past, her family and her friends. Now she’d lost the stars too she didn’t want to lose her Avengers membership as well. Warbird states that now they want to label her an alcoholic because she likes to take a drink now and then; try to throw her off the team. It’s not just a crock, she adds, it’s an outrage and if it wasn’t for her everyone would be speaking Kreevian right now. Her team-mates look at her, surprised at her vitriol and Thor asks if that is her defense. He had hoped it wouldn’t come down this but he asks everyone to offer their vote.

Captain America says she has been a great Avenger in the past and he’s sorry it’s come to this but he votes for her to be demoted to inactive status until she’s capable of serving once more. Iron Man tells Warbird that she doesn’t just take a drink now and then and until she can admit that, he votes with Cap. The Vision, attending as a hologram points out that many Avengers have left under a cloud and returned later, stronger for having faced their problems. He hopes she will be amongst them but votes for demotion. Hawkeye is next. He says he is all for second chances as he’s needed plenty himself but he was there on the Moon watching her weaving around and firing blind. He suggest that maybe Doc Samson could be brought in but unless she’s willing to go there is only one answer.

Finally, the Scarlet Witch is asked for her vote. She doesn’t know what to say as when Carol first joined the Avengers they became friends and when she left them, the way she left them broke her heart. She begs Carol as a friend who loves her to get some help, if not through them then on her own. She knows she can beat this thing if only she’d try. She is about to vote along with the others but Vision spares her the agony of making her decision by interrupting them with a communication which has come from the Moon. It seems the Lunatic Legion are still a threat.

With time-given professionalism, the Avengers quickly get out of their seats and follow their leader’s directions as Cap tells Iron Man to prep the space Quinjet and the Vision to prepare a briefing file for all members. He wants everyone else in the hangar bay and ready within ten minutes. He turns to Quicksilver and asks him to remain with them for a while as he is the Avengers who is most familiar with the Blue area of the Moon. Cap then asks Vision to contact Justice and Firestar as he can’t accompany them in his current state as they’ll need all the firepower they can muster, including the reserves.

Warbird isn’t wishing to be left out, despite the court martial hearing and tells Cap she is familiar with the battleground and he doesn’t need the youngsters. Cap offers a stern refusal and Warbird turns away from him and says that she’ll save them the trouble of finishing their kangaroo court’s vote and effective immediately, she quits the team. As they depart, Hawkeye asks Cap if he had to be so brutal but he replies that he must safeguard the team and the lives they defend. He did what he had to do. Wanda looks back at her friend Carol as she leaves.

Minutes later, Wanda peers out of the window with a tear in her eye as Carol leaves in her civvies, her USAF sports bag packed. Wanda thinks about how she’s leaving them for the second time and she can’t help but feel this is terribly wrong. They had failed her the last time and now it feels like they are failing her again. As she sits on the windowsill feeling a little emotional, Wonder Man appears. She hadn’t summoned him but he seems to appear when she is in need of a little emotional support, though he doesn’t know why or how he is back amongst the living. As she becomes conscious of her own breathing, her ex-husband, the Vision appears and tells her that he is monitoring the hangar computers and the Quinjet will be ready in moments. He also wished Wonder Man good afternoon. As Wanda is a little flustered about their current situation, Wonder Man disappears and she walks through the Vision’s holographic form and heads for the hangar.

Shortly, the Space Quinjet is heading through the Earth’s atmosphere and towards the Moon. Justice is excited to be rocketing into space as an Avenger and Firestar says that he’s been in space before with the New Warriors but Vance thinks this is different. Pietro sits with his sister and asks if she is all right as she seems troubled. She replies that she’d rather not talk about it. The Quinjet goes silent after that exchange as the team concentrates on matters in hand. Before too long Cap tells them that they are approaching the blue area of the Moon and they should brace themselves as they need to take evasive action. As the Quinjet weaves through a barrage of missiles, Cap pilots it closer to their destination until they are below the field of fire. He lands it with expertise but Iron Man asks if he can go and retrieve his stomach which he lost in the third Immelman. Cap replies that there’s no time because if what he sees outside is any indication, the barrage delayed them enough for the Kree to reach battle stations.

He orders the Avengers out and to defend themselves against their Kree assailants. Several gun wielding soldiers rush the team as Thor, Firestar, Justice and Iron Man take flight while the other four go on foot. Cap goes to ask the Scarlet Witch to summon Wonder Man but she’s already conjuring him up, but likes it less each time she does so as Wonder Man isn’t simply a weapon, he’s a man and she’s got to find out why she can summon him; how she and Simon are linked. Wonder Man appears and immediately takes out three soldiers as Cap cheers him on.

Elsewhere in the Blue area, Dylon Cir watches events outside on a monitor whilst Admiral Galen Kor concentrates on what seems like an energy converter. Dylon Cir tells Galen Kor that the Avengers have landed and they’re not here to surrender. Kona Lor asks him if he thinks that Kree soldiers can’t handle mere Earthers but Galen Kor tells them, “At ease children. The Avengers can handle Kree troops, Kona Lor, they always have in the past, but it does not matter. Put the Supreme Intelligence on the display screen.” She does as she is told and the image of the giant green face appears on the screen. Galen Kor hails his leader and tells him the moment of sacrifice is almost upon them. Their troops fall before the Avengers but they are only delaying them until their plans have passed the point of no return. He dedicates their deaths to his cause and shouts, “All hail.” The Supreme Intelligence doesn’t say a word.

Back on Earth, Carol looks at the Moon and thinks about the others fighting a battle she should be a part of. She thinks about how she’s come a long way; from air force intelligence, NASA security, Woman magazine editor and super hero. All she has now is no life and no prospects. She thinks it is because she drinks but then rationalizes that no, it wasn’t her, it was them and their priggish, hypocritical double standards. Thor drinks mead doesn’t he? Hawkeye drinks beer! Carol decides that she isn’t going to take this lying down, flying off as her costume changes. She thinks that when the dust settles they’ll beg her to come back and she can tell them where to stick their crummy team. She heads straight for the Moon at full speed.

Roughly a quarter of a million miles away, Cap smashes a soldier in the face with his badge-shaped shield telling his Avengers to show them that Earth doesn’t tolerate invaders of any kind. Iron Man unleashes blasts from his gloves, helping out Justice who is using his telekinesis to hurl his foes around. The Avengers are in fantastic action mode as they hammer their way through the Kree defenses. As Thor creates shock waves which topples men and machinery, Wonder Man and Firestar take the high road whilst Quicksilver tears through the area smashing enemies left and right. He is simply a blur and his opponents don’t see him until it’s way too late. Firestar says they’re doing okay but there are a lot of them but Pietro replies that it makes no difference if there are a dozen or a thousand. They stand between them and Earth and the Avengers will not be moved.

Justice is intoxicated with fighting alongside the Avengers and is gleeful at his latest telekinetic blast which took out five soldiers. Angelica tells him to keep score later as they are in the middle of a battle here and takes out a soldier behind him with a microwave pulse. As Cap pushes an opponent into the wall he shouts for his team to keep up the pressure and break through in order to stop the super weapon. His foe tells him he will fail, for though they fall, their sacrifice brings about victory. As he speaks, he disintegrates much to Cap’s surprise and the Scarlet Witch mentions that she’s seen that effect before, or something like it. It was around Captain Marvel when he created an omni-wave projector.

The same thing happens to Thor’s foes as well as everyone else’s and Iron Man deduces that they’re not just vanishing; they’re being converted to energy. He asks why and Quicksilver replies that he wasn’t there when they rescued Warbird. This must be connected to their omni-wave projector and he knows where it is, telling them to follow him. All the Avengers charge as one.

Far away, Warbird is still heading towards the Moon. The air is getting thin but she forges ahead, drawing on her internal reserves, closing off her need to breathe. She is sweating and tears begin to fill her eyes as the Moon gets closer and closer.

On the Moon, facing the colorful Earth far away, the omni-wave projector is aimed in its direction. It is a large piece of machinery, several times the height of a human and is bristling with the energy derived from the unfortunate Kree soldiers. It was created originally as a means of communication but was capable of being converted into a terrible engine of destruction. In this form, modified using the Terrigen Mists and programmed with a variant code of Warbird’s genetic code, it can mutate all of humanity, turning them into neo-Kree, mental slaves of the Supreme Intelligence. Those it doesn’t mutate will die horribly - if the Avengers allow it to be fired.

As they encircle the machine, Admiral Galen Kor’s face appears on a television monitor nearby and tells the Avengers they are too late, the omni-wave countdown has begun and at this stage, nobody can stop it. Thor begins to offer him a reply but Wanda notices Pietro is missing. He had taken the lead and bolted through a gap in the building and she looks down to see him, lying on the ground with a serious-looking hip wound. Hawkeye is on the ball and leaps at Wanda, knocking her out of reach from a blast which misses them by inches. They have snipers. Talla Ron and one of the bald twins have the higher ground and ambush the Avengers in a crossfire. Wonder Man uses his ionic body to take the brunt of the bald twin’s blast as Justice telekinetically defends Talla Ron’s attack. Cap says they don’t have time for this and asks Iron Man if he can shut down the projector. He replies that he can try, but he can’t guarantee success and while destroying the ground beneath another soldier, adds that without a few hours to study it, tampering with it could turn the thing off, but just as easily set it off.

Cap knows his team-mates well and says that if they can’t shut it off then perhaps Thor could use that hammer of his and whip up a dimensional portal. Thor replies, “If thou dost desire it Captain, then it shall be done.” He twirls Mjolnir and a dimensional portal indeed begins to open. However, the Kree continue to vanish and Galen Kor appears brandishing the universal weapon which takes out Thor with a mighty blow. He is the last of the Kree to remain alive as someone has to remain alive to ensure the success of their plan. As Wanda cradles her brother, Hawkeye looks up at the portal and realizes that it can’t remain open without Thor. Wonder Man and Iron Man try to get Galen Kor off Thor but using the universal weapon he creates a cone of invulnerability which prevents them from reaching him.

Meanwhile, the strain of trying to reach the Moon has finally taken its toll on Warbird and she suddenly comes to a grinding halt, her power depleted and she convulses as she begins to fall back to Earth.

On the Moon, Iron Man says that Thor’s portal is dwindling fast and Wanda attempts to hex her way through the energy-wall that Galen Kor has erected but fails. Cap thinks that Iron Man will have to try whatever he can think of but Justice intervenes, volunteering Firestar to save the day, saying her microwave powers can juice up the portal and fix everything. He reminds her that she once powered up a stargate before and this can’t be all that different. Firestar has reservations as when she uses that kind of power, it has a detrimental effect on her body. Hawkeye says there is no time as the thing’s going to go off any second. Cap says it’s her decision and Firestar fixes Vance with an angry stare an says, “Damn you Vance, blast you.” She knows her duty and rockets towards the portal, focusing her microwave energies which boil up through every cell in her body. As it reaches its peak, she releases it.

Inside the cone of invulnerability, Thor is overpowering his Kree foe and tells him to admit that his weapon is no match for the might of Mjolnir but he replies that he’s beaten, but he’ll never admit defeat. He too then converts to energy to aid the weapon and the shield fades away. With the portal now open just enough, Justice uses his telekinetic power to guide the machine through the portal, sweating as he give it one more push. As the weapon enters it, a huge explosion is seen as far away as Earth as the portal absorbs the energy and releases it harmlessly elsewhere.

Far below, in an alleyway on Earth, Warbird crawls along the ground, having failed in her quest to help the Avengers. She is unharmed due to her incredible body but as a tear drips from her eye, she says, “I need a drink.”

Sometime later, agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Xenobiology Division, backed by scientists from Starcore arrive on the Moon to take charge of the site. The operation will cost the Earth billions but after Earth’s narrow escape, no-one balks. Doctor Lind tells Iron Man that he has wanted to study the blue area for years but they’ve never been able to justify the cost. Iron Man replies that it is justified now, unless he wants to leave the Supreme Intelligence there by himself or figure out how to get him to Earth. Wanda glances an interested eye at Firestar and Justice as Vance apologizes for being a jerk. He says that she saved the Earth and that’s got to count for something. Firestar’s body language is very negative and she replies that she guesses it had to be done.

Meanwhile, Captain America goes for an audience with the Supreme Intelligence. It asks if it can do anything for him. “A question,” replies Cap, “Your men are dead and their scheme thwarted. But they wouldn’t have been except for the message we got warning us. That message came from the Moon, from here. What I want to know is, who sent it, and why?” The Supreme Intelligence replies, “And how should I know Captain? After all, it makes no sense for it to be me. Why should I sabotage my own people?” Cap departs, saying he wouldn’t put it past him and perhaps one day, he’ll understand. Left alone, the Supreme Intelligence is pleased. It has everything it needs; a support staff to maintain its circuitry, the finest minds on the planet Earth with whom to converse with and study, and centuries to pass with plenty to occupy it’s attention. Yes, it’s pleased, why wouldn’t it be.

Back on Earth, at the Safety Chute inn, Carol Danvers watches the television which reports on the Avengers’ latest success. She rests her chin on her hand and fingers a glass of booze. She thinks, they didn’t need her, didn’t need her at all. A guy at the bar says she’s been sitting there looking at that drink for three hours now. Is she going to drink it or what. “I don’t know Mitch, “ she replies, “I don’t know.”

Characters Involved: 

Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Warbird (all Avengers)
Firestar, Justice (both reserve Avengers)
Wonder Man

The Supreme intelligence
The bald twins, Dylon Cir, Admiral Galen Kor Lt. Kona Lor, First Officer Talla Ron (all Lunatic Legion)
Kree soldiers

S.H.I.E.L.D Xenobiology Division staff
Starcore scientists, including Dr. Lind
Safety Chute barman
Mitch, a customer

In flashbacks:
Iron Man, Warbird (both Avengers)
Hyperion (Squadron Supreme)

Admiral Galen Kor (Lunatic Legion)
Kree soldiers
Victoria Snow

Story Notes: 

This issue is the last chapter in the four-part crossover called Live Kree or Die.

Prior to Warbird’s court martial, there have only been three such events in the past. Hank Pym resigned in disgrace in Avengers (1st series) #213, Iron Man left in Iron Man (1st series) #229 after his actions during the Armor Wars and in Marc Spector: Moon Knight #50, Moon Knight resigned before a decision was made after charges of vigilantism.

Iron Man found Warbird drinking, but pretending not to in Avengers (3rd series) #4. The Avengers fought the Squadron Supreme in Avengers (3rd series) #5-6 and also in their 1998 Annual. Warbird threatened Tony Stark in Iron Man (3rd series) #7 and called Captain America to Cape Canaveral in Captain America (3rd series) #8. Lockjaw was injured in Quicksilver #10.

The Corrupter was exposed in Avengers (3rd series) #6.

Doc Samson is a psychiatrist specializing in superhuman psychology. He was often seen in the Hulk’s title but also has been treating others in the past, including X-Factor.

Wonder Man has been appearing since Avengers (3rd series) #2

The Space Quinjet was already prepped for use. Hawkeye was shown doing just that in Quicksilver #10.

The Immelmann turn is a simple yet very effective maneuver and the name is derived from the move’s inventor, Max Immelmann, a WWI German pilot who devised the method.

Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) created an omni-wave projector way back in Avengers (1st series) #96. Mar-Vell was a Kree soldier who unfortunately died of cancer. His son is Genis-Vell.

Firestar previously powered up a stargate in New Warriors (1st series) #41 during the ‘Starlost’ storyline.

Iron Man called the Supreme Intelligence ‘him’ though it is really an ‘it.’

The television at the end is displaying a camera shot of the Avengers, the same shot as the closing page from Avengers (3rd series) #4, so apparently the news broadcast is using material they recorded during the Avengers press conference.

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