Captain America (1st series) #399

Issue Date: 
April 1992
Story Title: 
First Story: Operation Galactic Storm part 8, Twenty Million Light Years From Earth

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (penciler), Danny Bulandi (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Christie Sceele (colorist), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)
Captain America, Iron Man, Sersi, Goliath, Hercules, Crystal and the Black Knight arrive on Hala as prisoners of the Kree. Captain America is angry at Iron Man for surrendering on behalf of the Avengers without discussing it with him first. Cap takes in the magnitude of the Avengers' situation, and of Hala. Ronan the Accuser arrives and takes command of the Avengers, sending Shatterax away. When Accusers arrive to guard the Avengers, Sersi uses this moment to transform the Avengers' appearances into Accusers, and, revealing she knows Kree, speaks to Ronan as if they were Accusers who were transported in, and that the Avengers teleported out. Acting as Accusers, the Avengers join in the search, and hole up in a restroom, while the Avengers are labelled as public enemies across the Kree Empire. Meanwhile, Korath, Shatterax and Ultimus come together, and meet Supremor, who tells them that with their help, the Supreme Intelligence will rule the Kree Empire once again. Iron Man then gives Sersi a lecture for transforming his armor, and he continues to act rudely towards Captain America. Iron Man decides that he will go off on his own to do some reconnaissance, but eventually agrees to let a shrunken-down Goliath go with him. Disguised as Kree civilians now, the Avengers walk through Hala, and notice large hover-billboards, which advertise them as criminals. When Crystal creates a distraction, Sersi levitates them all up to the hover-billboard, but they are soon attacked by Korath, who takes out the powerhouse Sersi first, followed by Crystal, leaving the Avengers without their two most powerful members. Captain America tackles Korath and they battle mid-air, with Cap eventually disabling Korath's jet-boots, causing Korath to plummet to the city below, while Cap manages to get safely back onto the hover-billboard, where he tells the Black Knight that they have to find Iron Man before he goes off half-cocked.

Full Summary: 

1st story
Hala, homeworld of the star-spanning Kree Empire, where a Kree starship has landed, and from it, march seven of Earth's Mightiest Heroes – the Avengers. They have their arms behind their heads, and look very unhappy. 'Hands atop your heads, Avengers!' the Kree warrior, Shatterax, calls out as several Kree guards aim their weapons at the Avengers. Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers leads the way, and he asks Tony “Iron Man” Stark if he still thinks it is a good idea to surrender to the Kree. 'Now instead of a squadron of soldiers against us, we have a whole planet!' 'Hey, it did the trick, didn't it? It got s to the right world all in one piece' Iron Man mutters. 'Yes, but with our Quinjet confiscated, we don't even have a way to -' Cap begins, before one of the Kree soldiers shouts at him: 'You in the front – no talking!' Behind the Star-Spangled and armored Avengers are: Sersi, Hercules, Crystal, Black Knight and Hawkeye – in his Goliath form.

Cap looks around the industrial looking city around him and thinks: 'My God, look at the size of this place! The architecture is so... imposing. If this is just the spaceport, what must the inner cities look like here?' he wonders, deciding that he can't rubberneck too much, or the others will know how awestruck he is by this, and Cap knows that it wouldn't help their situation any to shake the others' confidence in him. Cap reminds himself that he is the leader of this little fact-finding expedition after all, even if Iron Man seems to have difficulty dealing with that. Cap wonders if perhaps Iron Man did the right thing surrendering, as apparently this planet has incredible defense systems. 'Our souped-up Quinjet may never have made it through' Cap realizes, wishing that Iron Man could have consulted with him first so they could have planned what they were going to do once they got here. Cap recalls that their Kree captor wouldn't even listen when he attempted to explain that their only reason for coming here was to speak to his Emperor, whoever that may be. 'That means we're going to have to find a means of escape' Cap decides.

Suddenly, on a platform overlooking where the Avengers are being held, figures march towards Shatterax, and one of them shouts: 'You – Shatterax!' Cap looks up and sees the figure on the parapet, and realizes that he recognizes him. Cap tries to get Iron Man's attention: 'Up there – the person approaching Shatterax – isn't that Ronan the Accuser?' Cap asks. 'I haven't -' Iron Man starts to reply, until one of the Kree soldiers shouts 'Terran! Utter another word and I'll shoot!' Shatterax turns to Ronan and calls out his name. 'Obvously. And you are?' Ronan asks. 'Special Agent Shatterax. Exo-weapons division' the armored warrior replies. Ronan informs Shatterax that he can relinquish custody of the prisoners to him. 'Now that they are on home soil, this has become a civil matter, not a military one. You are dismissed!' But Shatterax isn't happy about this:? 'If it's all the same to you, Accuser, my battalion and I will remain until -' Shatterax begins, but Ronan cuts him off: 'Are you insinuating that the Prime Accuser of the entire empire is incapable of handling Earth-scum such as -' , to which Shatterax backs off, 'no, Sir! I... I'll leave at once' he announces, while glancing at his soldiers, below, and ordering them to return to the ship and prepare for take-off, as the Accusers have jurisdiction.

Several other Accusers move towards the Avengers as Ronan instructs them to restrain the prisoners. Cap realizes the Accusers have some form of manacles, and knows that if the Avengers don't make their move now, it may be too late. Cap knows that Sersi is behind him, and hopes that she is watching for his hand-signals. 'Plan 5-2-1, Sersi' Cap thinks to himself, as Sersi smiles, and an instant later, the seven Avengers find themselves transformed – disguised as Kree Accusers! 'Eh -? My raiment -!' Hercules thinks to himself, while Cap's thoughts are more excited: 'Yes! Way to go, lady!' The transformation took place under a blinding light.

'What is that brilliant light?' Ronan asks, before calling out to Shatterax, asking him what has happened to the Earthscum. 'They teleported away – exchanged places with us!' the disguised Sersi responds. This surprises Cap, who recognizes Sersi's voice, and is confused as to how she knows the Kree language, and wonders if it is by telepathy. 'Search the area!' Ronan booms, and on cue, the Avengers, posing as Accusers, rush away, while the real Accusers begin their search, too.

Soon, at the Accusers' Municipal Headquarters, Ronan appears on a monitor and informs all Accusers level two and above that seven escaped terran criminals in their midst, that they are armed, genetically enhanced and dangerous. Ronan declares that all officers will assist in the search and apprehension, and that all due force is sanctioned. Ronan announces that the perpetrators' descriptions will be beamed to all datacombs, and reminds his Accusers that the terrans must be apprehended at all costs. The Accusers then depart the ir headquarters on sky-cycles to assist in the search.

Ten minutes from the city space port, the Accuser-disguised Avengers rush into an area filled with civilian Kree, as Crystal tells Sersi that the disguises are great, and points out that the crowds are parting when they see them coming. 'The Accusers must really be feared by the general populace' Sersi replies. 'The Gestapo is more like it!' someone declares, to which someone else confesses to Cap that they weren't even aware there were any other Accusers apart from Ronan. 'Everyone keep your eyes open for a place where we can confer in private' someone suggests. Sersi notices a door with a symbol on it, and tells Cap that unless she is is bad at comparative anthropology, she would bet those doors lead to comfort facilities. She adds that she wonders which are the men’s and which are the women’s. 'We'll see' Cap replies, before the seven disguised Avengers march into one of the restrooms, 'OUT!' Cap shouts to the surprised men inside, realizing that they may not understand his word, but that his meaning is pretty clear.

When the room has been emptied, Cap instructs Hercules to guard the door, and for Clint, Dane and Crystal to scour the place for bug devices. Suddenly, 'Sersi, change me back...NOW!' Iron Man demands. Sersi looks to Cap for guidance, and Cap frowns, before giving her permission to change Iron Man back. 'Voila' Sersi mutters as she uses her transmutation to revert Iron Man's armor back to its regular form. 'Let me tell you something, lady – don't you ever touch my armor again!' Iron Man snaps. 'Do I make myself clear?' he asks. 'What? I was just -' Sersi begins, before Iron Man interrupts her, warning Sersi that if her infernal sorcery has messed up so much as a single microchip... his voice trails off, before the annoyed Sersi informs Iron Man that it is not sorcery, but molecular transmutation, and that in time, everything snaps back to its original configuration. 'If I can reconstitute living organisms, your inorganic circuitry are child's play' Sersi declares. Iron Man turns away from her, and tells her that, all the same, he is doing a complete systems check. One of the others informs Cap that the room seems clear, so Cap tells everyone to listen up, and reports that their objective is to find the heads of state here so they can tell them they would be wise to get their space warp-hole out of Earth's solar system.

Cap tells the others that he assumes they are in the capital city, but points out that there is still a lot of area to cover, and suggests that they exchange these disguises for something a little less conspicuous. 'No more disguises for me. I don't want my armor messed with anymore' Iron Man declares. 'But you'll be compromising the rest of us' Cap points out, so Iron Man offers to travel alone and fly reconnaissance. Cap puts a hand on Iron Man's shoulder and tells him that it is not a good idea for them to split up. 'We're on a hostile world, we have no maps, and if anyone were to get lost -' Cap begins, to which Iron Man points out that they have their communicards. 'Look, Iron Man, as field leader, I insist we -' Cap begins, to which Iron Man brushes Cap's hand off his shoulder: 'I'm a founding member of the Avengers, Captain. The only one here. I figure that gives me the right to supersede your authority over my actions' Iron Man declares, announcing that he will fly reconnaissance and let them know what he finds.

As Iron Man starts to leave, Goliath asks him to wait a second while he talks something over with Cap. Hercules watches Iron Man and thinks to himself that this dissension in their ranks bodes ill. Iron Man waits as Goliath asks Cap if he can go with Iron Man and keep an eye on him. 'Go' Cap tells Clint, who asks Sersi to be so kind. Sersi waves a finger, and returns Goliath to his regular appearance. Clint starts to follow Iron Man, telling him to wait up, and that the West Coasters have to look out for each other. He adds that he brought with him a few capsules of Pym's reducing gas, so he can ride on Iron Man's back ant-sized.

At that moment, some five kilometers beneath Hala's surface, at the site of a subterranean power station abandoned several hundred solar cycles ago, a figure flies through the darkened area, and looking below, near some large plant machinery, sees two who he believes are the one he seeks. He thinks to himself that if they are not, then he will quit this dismal sphere, ignore the voice that entices him with knowledge of his ancient beginnings, and wander the starlanes once more. 'Who goes there?' one of the figures below, Shatterax, asks as the new arrival drops down towards him. 'I do. I, Ultimus!' the Kree warrior declares, before asking the other two who they are. Shatterax introduces himself as the first of a new breed of Kree techno-warrior. The other warrior introduces himself as Korath the Pursuer, prototype of the cybernetic soldier the shortsighted current regime has refused to fund. Ultimus tells them that neither of them sound like the one who summoned him here. 'They are not. I summoned you!' a voice calls out as a large figure emerges from the shadows. The large green being with tentacles waving behind him introduces himself as Supremor, corporal host of the matchless intellect that once ruled the Kree Empire. 'And with your help shall rule again!' Supremor exclaims.

Above, Sersi has transformed herself, Cap, Crystal, the Black Knight and Hercules into Kree civilians. As they examine their surroundings, walking through the Kree city, the Black Knight points out that it looks like the mighty Kree capital city has a seamy underbelly. 'Looks that way' Cap agrees, remarking that every level they have descended, the working conditions have become worse. Crystal tells her teammates that she is reminded of the way the Alpha Primitives used to live in the subcity beneath Attilan. 'There can surely be no grimmer a place than here, fair Crystal' Hercules remarks. The Black Knight points upwards to a large billboard-type device floating over the city, displaying images of Captain America. 'Hey, check that out, Cap! Looks like you're the man of the hour!' the Black Knight remarks. 'The Kree version of a wanted poster, Dane' Cap replies. Iron Man pulls out his communicard when it starts to beep, and wonders if Iron Man is in trouble. Iron Man reports that he and Hawk have located the central government building, but the problem is it is difficult to give directions. 'If you can get enough altitude, you'll see it' Iron Man remarks, explaining that it has a spire with a sphere that has a ring around it, like Saturn. Cap asks Iron Man not to go in, to wait until they get there. 'I'll give you an hour. At that time we're going in, with or without you. Iron Man out' the abrupt Avenger replies.

Cap turns to Sersi and tells her that they are going to need transportation – something that flies. Sersi suggests that wanted poster blimp, but Cap asks how they can get up there. Sersi points out that she can levitate them all if they join hands. 'But we'd be seen!' Cap declares. Crystal offers to create a distraction. 'Watch!' she exclaims as she uses her elemental power to create a geyser that erupts in the busy area nearby. Kree civilians gather around to watch the geyser. The Avengers link hands, and Sersi levitates them towards the floating billboard wanted poster. 'Hang tight, Hercules – we're almost there!' Sersi calls out as Hercules holds her hand. 'Milady, I shall cling to thy fair hand as thy raiment clings to your exquisite form!' Hercules replies. Sersi tells him that she appreciates the thought, 'But not now' she declares. The Black Knight looks over to the geyser and decides that it is a much greater spectacle than they are, and before long, the five Avengers land on the floating wanted poster, which now depicts Crystal. Sersi tells the others that there appears to be a cockpit beneath the hovercraft, and takes them there.

And, Sersi has a hand on the pilot's face. 'Congratulations, pilot. You've just been hijacked by the most wanted people on all Hala!' she tells him, while Cap notices the building Iron Man was talking about, and instructs Sersi to have the pilot take them there. Dane looks out the window and informs Cap that there is an unidentified bogey coming up behind them – that it looks like a guy with bootjets. Indeed, it is Korath, who thinks to himself that Supremor would have them assist the all-but-ineffectual Accusers in their search for the Earth fugitives, as he claims the Supreme Intelligence would like to assimilate their intellects. Korath boasts that pinpointing anomalous brain patterns is child's play for one endowed with cyberpsionic scanners. He thinks that at the very least this should provide him with an opportunity to see how well his arsenal performs in a combat situation. With that, Korath butsts into the cockpit, and scanning the Avengers, he detects that Sersi is the most powerful of the group, so decides to incapacitate her first. He slams her with a weapon, and Sersi falls backwards, unconscious, her disguises protecting the other Avengers fails, and their true forms are revealed.

'Offworlders! You have eluded the Accusers withh your feeble disguises but not Korath the Pursuer!' Korath boasts as he strikes Crystal, taking her out next. The Black Knight realizes that having reverted to their uniforms, means he has his photon sword back, but it's too late to help Crystal. 'Craven jackal! Attacking our womenfolk!' Hercules shouts as he and the Black Knight push Korath out of the cockpit, 'When I get my hands on thee!' Hercules calls out, but the Black Knight tells him to be careful, as those sticks of his stunned an Eternal. 'Your females were the only ones with true power among you. You males scan as mere strong men or athletes!' Korath declares, while Cap leaps out the other side of the floating billboard in an attempt to try and surprise Korath. 'One of you has fled!' Korath declares, floating around the other side of the craft, 'It is he I will pursue first, lest he escape and I do not have the full set of out-worlders to turn over to Supremor'. But Korath gets a surprise when Cap flips backwards and his feet connect with the Pursuer. 'Gotcha!' Cap exclaims.

Cap runs along the top of the billboard as Korath tells him that if that was the best he can do, then he would do well to flee. 'That didn't stagger him as much as I'd hoped. I hate it when these guys wear full body armor' Cap thinks to himself, realizing that Korath's major offensive weapons appear to be those two stun-rods, so they are the first things to go. Cap's shield slams into Korath's arm and he drops one of the stun rods. 'That'll teach him to tail-gate me!' Cap thinks to himself. The Beta-Baton, as Korath calls it, plummets downwards, 'That annoys me!' Korath tells Cap, who, while Korath's attention is focussed on the fallen weapon, leaps at Korath, even If that means taking it to the sky. The impact of Cap leaping at Korath pushes Korath off balance, and they start to tumble downwards through the air.

Cap knows that he has to cling on with his legs, stay with Korath, but he can't tell if Korath is flying badly to shake him, or if his weight is throwing Korath off. Cap tries to keep an eye on Korath's baton, he wants to wrest it out of Korath's hand. Korath tells Cap that he is a suicidal manaic. 'I could survive a fall from this height – you could not'. 'Thanks for the safety tip, mister!' Cap replies as he slams his shield into Korath's face. They tumble through the air again, the coupel of back-hands to Korath's helmet seem to have rattled him. Cap tries to force Korath's baton to touch his bootjet – 'Pama!' Korath calls out when the baton strikes his bootjet, causing them to go off balance again. 'It worked! It killed his right jet!' Cap thinks to himself, as he manages to grab the baton, and pushes it against the other bootjet. 'You stupid oaf – you did that deliberately! Now – we fall!' Korath shouts, wide-eyed.

Korath starts to free-fall, as does Cap, who knows that he beat Korath, but that unless he catches a lucky air current, he is going to miss the dirigible. Cap looks over to the floating billboard and sees the Black Knight on top of the screen, waving frantically at him, as if he thinks Cap doesn't know where to land. 'My God, I don't think Cap's gonna make it!' Dane thinks to himself, knowing that there must be something he can do. 'Blast, he'll probably only miss by a hair!' Dane tells himself, before realizing that he can detach the screen from its moorings, it will stick out just far enough. The screen falls down, creating extra space on the platform, and with Cap putting his shield under him to absorb the impact, he lands on the screen an instant later. 'Thanks for the assist, Avenger' Cap tells Dane as they shake hands. 'Whew! You scared me out of a year's growth, Cap!' Dane tells his friend. Cap doubts that they have seen the last of Korath, and tells Dane that they have to make it to the rendezvous point before Iron Man goes off half-cocked....

Characters Involved: 

Black Knight IV, Captain America, Crystal, Hercules (all Avengers)
Goliath II / Hawkeye, Iron Man (both Avengers West Coast)
Sersi (inactive Avenger)

Ronan the Accuser
Korath the Pursuer, Shatterax, Supremor, Ultimus
Kree soldiers
Kree civilians

Story Notes: 

This issue contains a 2nd story featuring Diamondback and Crossbones called “Cross to Bear.”

first story:
Iron Man surrendered on behalf of the Avengers in Iron Man (1st series) #278.


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