Iron Man (1st series) #278

Issue Date: 
March 1992
Story Title: 
Operation Galactic Storm part 6, Decisions in a Vacuum

Len Kaminski (writer), Paul Ryan (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Michael Heisler (letterer), Mike Rockwitz (colorist), Nelson Yomtov (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Captain America, Iron Man, Sersi, Goliath, Hercules, Crystal and the Black Knight arrive in Kree space, and discover a large space station, which they board. They find the space station empty, but are unaware the system has detected their arrival, and identified them as a threat from Earth, and sent a signal to the Kree homeworld, Hala. The Supreme Intelligence is pleased that the Avengers are in Kree space, and plans to use them as pawns in his larger, mysterious plan. He orders the Kree soldier, Shatterax, be prepared and sent to the space station to capture the Avengers. Back on the space station, Iron Man finds a control panel which he attempts to connect to the space station. The others soon find themselves busy battling Shi'ar commandos. They are surprised when the Shi'ar commandos disintegrate when they are thrown against walls, and even when Sersi turns them into frogs. Iron Man successfully integrates his armor into the station controls, but eventually receives a transmission from Hala, of a Kree warning him and the others to surrender and be taken into custody for transport to Hala, otherwise, they will face summary judgment and execution. Iron Man leaves the controls, and as the Avengers battle the remaining Shi'ar, he flies past them, explaining that he is going to deal with the new arrivals. He finds Shatterax inspecting the Avengers' Quinjet, and they battle for some time, resulting in Iron Man's armor being so badly damaged that he has only one option – to surrender, and does so on behalf of the Avengers. The other Avengers finish battling the Shi'ar, and are none too happy when Iron Man and a squadron of Kree soldiers find them, and they are taken into custody, with Cap and Iron Man entering a debate, and Iron Man telling him they can discuss it later – if they survive.

Full Summary: 

Microseconds ago, this Avengers Quinjet hurtled through a Stargate found by the alien Shi'ar in Earth's solar system. Having slipped between the fabric of Space-Time, it emerges from N-space, hundreds of light years away, on the outer fringes of the space-faring Kree Empire. Inside are seven of Earth's Mightiest Heroes – Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, currently in his Goliath guise, of the Avengers West Coast branch. Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, Hercules, Crystal and Dane Whitman the Black Knight of the Avengers East Coast team, and the Eternal Sersi. 'Good Lord...some kind of enormous space station!' Cap gasps as he pilots the Quinjet and stares up at the massive space station that sprawls before them. Cap tells everyone to hang on, and reports that he is going to try and dock. Goliath asks Cap if that is such a good idea, and whether they should wait for an invite or something. Cap turns back to the others and reminds them that they are here to make contact with the Kree Empire, to try and stop this mad war before it's too late. 'Does anybody think we're going to get a better opportunity to do that?' he asks. Iron Man tells Clint that he is with Cap on this one, and Sersi announces that she is, too. 'It's settled, then. We're going in' Cap announces as he pilots the Quinjet closer to the massive space complex, and lands successfully. Cap instructs Clint to activate the magnetic lockdown points. 'Gotcha, Capster!' Clint replies.

Within moments, the Avengers are walking on the outside of the space station, wearing breathing masks for those who require them. They approach some sort of circular gateway, and one of them points out that it looks like they have found the airlock. 'Great. Now all we've got to do is figure out how to say “open sesame” in Kree' someone remarks. 'Leave that to me' Iron Man declares as he connects his armor to a nearby control panel, and overrides the security system. 'Got it!' Iron Man exclaims as the airlock opens. Cap tells everyone to stay sharp and reminds them that they are on unknown territory here. 'No kidding, Sherlock' Clint jokes. Iron Man tells Clint to get serious, and points out that they have probably activated the onboard security systems by now. Indeed, a scanner has picked up the Avengers, and searches the Kree database for a match as to who they are. 'Wow, big crowd tonight' the Black Knight remarks as they walk through empty corridors. Hercules announces that he thinks that this palace is deserted, to which Crystal suggests that it could be fully automated. Cap tells the others that he has been on battle-fields that felt like this – after a battle was lost and the fallen had been carried away. 'Thanks for that cheery thought, Cap' Iron Man mutters. 'Merely an observation' Cap replies, telling Iron Man that there is no need to get snappish. 'Snappish? Who's snappish?' Iron Man retorts.

The station is indeed monitoring the Avengers, and finally matches them, and classifies them as an omega threat level. The station then sends a signal to the homeworld authorities.

There, on Hala, homeworld of the Kree, within the capital of their empire, and residence of their most terrifying creation – the monstrosity known as the Supreme Intelligence. The hideous creature sees the Avengers on a monitor linked to the space station, and declares that once again these gnats from Earth have dared enter Kree territory. 'Excellent!' he exclaims, deciding that they shall make splendid pawns in the next phase of his plan. The Supreme Intelligence tells himself that, firstly, the Avengers must be brought to Hala in a fashion that will not reveal his subversion of the security network to his political adversaries, and thankfully, he knows that there are many agents who remain loyal to the true ruler of the Kree.

The Supreme Intelligence contacts a doctor called Kev-Lar, who appears on a monitor, in some sort of lab, where other Kree scientists are busy working around someone laid out on a table. 'What is your command, Supreme One?' Kev-Lar enquires. The Supreme Intelligence orders Kev-Lar to bring Shatterax on-line. Kev-Lar turns to the table, and explains that agent Shatterax is currently undergoing extensive repairs and refitting. 'How soon do you require his services?' Kev-Lar enquires. 'Immediately!' the Supreme Intelligence booms. Kev-Lar informs the Supreme Intelligence that this unit can be brought up full capacity by 1400 hours, but that suuch haste will shorten his life span by as much as 20 years. 'Make it so!' the Supreme Intelligence orders. 'As you wish' Kev-Lar responds. Returning to the monitor depicting the Avengers lurking about the space station, the Supreme Intelligence decides that this is satisfying, as everything is proceeding according to plan.

Back within the facility, the Black Knight tells his teammates that it is strange that a facility of this size should be uninhabited. 'There's something we're not seeing' he decides, as the Avengers don't see several figures in the shadow with Shi'ar appearances watching them. Cap tells the Black Knight that he has been thinking the same thing himself. 'I wonder if -' Cap begins, before noticing Iron Man put his hand to a wall. Iron Man reports that his sensors are detecting a major power flux behind the bulkhead. 'It could be...' Iron Man begins, before telling the others to hold on, as he slams his hand through the wall and declares that he will get a closer look. Cap and the Black Knight peer into the bulkhead behind Iron Man, who confirms that it is a primary systems nexus. 'Just what I was hoping for' Iron Man remarks, as he climbs inside it and announces that, from here, he can access the entire station's computer network, assuming, of course, that he can crack their security codes. Iron Man tells the others to get comfortable, as this could take a while, as he connects to the network.

The minutes crawl by, as the Avengers continue to wait while Iron Man works. 'Verily, 'tis time for some righteous smiting!' Hercules suggests. Crystal asks him to have a little patience. 'Don't hold your breath, Crystal. If Herc hasn't learned anything...' the Black Knight begins. 'That's enough, Dane. This is no time to argue amongst ourselves' Cap declares. He is about to say something else, when a surprised Goliath calls out to the Avengers. 'We are under attack!' the equally surprised Sersi exclaims, as Shi'ar warriors rush towards them, firing their weapons at the Avengers. 'Death to the outworlders!' one of the Shi'ar shouts. 'Ah, this doth be more like it!' Hercules exclaims as he prepares himself for battle. 'Shi'ar commandos!' Crystal gasps. 'What are they doing here?' the Black Knight wonders, readying his sword. Goliath increases his size, while Cap tells the Black Knight that there is no time for that now, 'We've got to buy Iron Man time to finish!' Cap exclaims. The Avengers engage the Shi'ar warriors in battle. 'Ho, ye alien scoundrels! Taste the might of the Lion of Olympus!' Hercules declares, throwing two of them into the air. 'Well, at least Hercules is happy now...' the Black Knight remarks, as his sword cuts through one of the commando's weapons. 'Good work, Avengers! Don't give them a chance to – disintegrate?' the surprised Cap calls out as two of the soldiers slam into a wall, and do just that.

Meanwhile, in the access shaft, a battle of another kind begins. A clash of parameters and protocols, of security codes and connectivity. Iron Man taps into his circuitry, which is connected to the ship. 'Easy, easy... let the system think I'm just another sensor grid at first...then switch over-trick it into classifying me as part of self-diagnostic...' Iron Man thinks to himself, as he starts to map the system architecture, then runs a code through the station.

Back in the corridor, 'Cap, incoming!' Goliath warns Cap, who tells everyone to look alive, as these are professional soldiers, not super-villains that they are up against. 'Have at thee, space varlet!' Hercules exclaims as he punches one of the Shi'ar commandos. Goliath has broken a large wall panel off, and uses it to push a few of the Shi'ar backwards. He calls out to Crystal and tells her to give them a warm reception. 'Done!' Crystal replies, as she surrounds the Shi'ar commandos in fire.

In the wallspace where Iron Man is still working away, the armored Avenger has managed to run a software language translator, and establishes a communications protocol. He is pleased that the ship thinks he is now part of the local network, as that means he has access. 'So much for the easy part!' Tony tells himself.

'Hang on a sec, Sersi – I'm almost through with this one!' the Black Knight calls out to Sersi as he slices one of the Shi'ar commandos' weapons with his sword. 'I have the situation well under control, Sir Knight' Sersi replies as she is confronted by two of the commandos. 'Now, let me see – chickens? Or maybe hamsters? That's the problem with molecular transformations – so many choices!' Sersi exclaims, before deciding that when it doubt, frogs is the answer. But as she uses her transmutative power on the commandos, they are indeed transformed into frogs – then they dissolve. 'Gracious! That shouldn't have happened!' Sersi gasps.

Back in the tunnel, Iron Man appends the security programming and loads new threat definition parameters, which define him as just another harmless, authorized user. 'Okay, time to crack this baby... here goes nothing...3...2...1...jackpot!' Iron Man tells himself as he finally accesses the Kree Imperal Militia Communications Network main menu.

The Avengers start to regroup, and Crystal tells Cap that she thinks something very strange is going on here. 'Our attackers seem to have a terrible habit of losing molecular cohesion when incapacitated' Sersi points out. 'So much for questioning prisoners' Cap remarks, while Hercules stands over a pile of dissolved Shi'ar commandos and declares that he had not finished smiting them. 'What now?' the Black Knight asks Captain America, who informs the team that they hold this position, because he doubts that was the complete force. 'Listen!' the Black Knight calls out as he hears something – indeed, another squad of Shi'ar commandos rush towards the Avengers. 'Oh, swell!' mutters Goliath. Hercules asks his friend why he complains, as there is more than enough of them for all. 'Charge!' one of the commandos shouts.

Iron Man is required to enter a password, and he enters “Changeling” into the computer. The password is accepted, and he gains full access to the systems. He starts to scan all bandwiths, and searches for military transmissions. Various images glash before him of Kree militaty personnel, before he receives an incoming transmission which overrides his search, and a Kree military officer appears via the communications system: 'Attention, intruders on outpost 5IK/Sigman. You are ordered by the authority of the Kree Empire to cease hostilities' the officer announces, warning that enforcement agents are currently en route to their position, where upon arrival, the intruders will surrender themselves into custody for detainment and transport to Hala for judgment. The officer states that resistance will result in summary judgment – and execution. 'This warning will not be repeated' the officer declares, before the transmission ends. 'Not good. Not good at all' Iron Man thinks to himself.

The Avengers are still battling the Shi'ar commandos as Iron Man leaves the space in the wall and joins them in the corridor. The Black Knight is using his sword against his opponent, while Sersi fires a blast of energy from her eyes at her opponent. 'Iron Man – what's our status?' Captain America calls out when he sees the armored Avenger. Iron Man reports that they have access to the Kree network, but that they also have company. 'Could you be a little more specific?' Cap asks. 'No time. You finish mopping up here -' Iron Man declares as he starts to make his way down another corridor. 'Wait! We've fgot to assess the strategic -' Cap begins, kicking one of the Shi'ar who attacks him, but Iron Man ignores him and simply announces that he will take care of their new arrivals, as he rounds another corner. 'Iron Man! Blast!' Captain America calls out. 'That arrogant, grandstanding – I hate it when he does that!' Cap mutters.

At that moment, a Kree transport beam flashes through the void... converting its transmission from coherent patterns of energy into matter upon arrival at its termination point. In other words – Shatterax has arrived! The armored Kree warrior hovers over the space station and contacts Hala command and control, reporting that action against the alien intrusion on outpost 5IK/Sigma is now in progress. Shatterax locates the Avengers' Quinjet and flies down towards it. Examining the Quinjet, he confirms that the identification of the threat force is terran in origin. His sensors detect no life signs within the vessel, when, suddenly, 'That's close enough!' Iron Man calls out. Hovering over Shatterax, he instructs him to move away from the vehicle. Shatterax reports to command that he is engaging the hostile designate “Iron Man” and fires a blast of energy at the armored Avenger, who is knocked backwards. Someone from the command decides that the charged particle beam appears effective against the threat, while another informs Shatterax that the target is escaping oupost gravity field.

Shatterax reports that he has lost sensor lock on his target, so starts to alter his strategy to defensive, but as he does so, Iron Man re-appears, and blasts Shatterax with a surge of energy. 'Guess you people don't get “Star Trek” this far out in the boondocks...otherwise you'd be better prepared for combatants using holographic cloaking devices!' Iron Man declares as he re-appears in front of Shatterax, who reports that the target appears to utilize electromagnetic sheath energy, and so he alters his sensor parameters to compensate, and reacquires sensor contact with the target. 'Moving to engage' Shatterax announces as he flies forward and latches on to Iron Man. Searing pain flares throughout the body of the fragile man inside the metal shell. His ruined nervous system is maintained only by the sophisticated life-support system within his armor, which starts to fail under the strain of battle.

Shatterax's tactical analysis indicates the target threat potential as maximum, and declares that annihilation of the target now to be considered an acceptable option. He starts to initiate a power buildup necessary for a shaped anti-neutron wave barrage. He continues to hold on to Iron Man, as his anti-particile generator comes on line. Shatterax states that his energetic inductors are at 98% capacity, and engages his weapon discharge, when sends energy cursing from Shatterax at Iron Man, knocking the armored Avenger through open space. Iron Man's internal stabilizers struggle to halt his uncontrolled trajectory, while a layer of material similar to that used on the fuselage of NASA's space shuttle radiates the unimaginable heat of the blast into the void. 'This situation is getting out of control!' Iron Man thinks to himself. He realizes that he may be in over his head here, and looks at his sensors to see how bad it is. He calls up the medical status, which indicates he is at critical status point. 'About like I expected. I feared that this space armor would be more than my system could take'. Deciding he may as well have all the bad news, he switches his sensors to tactical, which inform him that the hostile target is closing in on him again. 'Iron Man to Avengers, over' the armored hero calls out over the communicator, but gets no response. 'Repeat, Iron Man to Avengers. We have a code red situation here, folks' Iron Man announces, before realizing that his signals must not be penetrating the station's hull.

Iron Man turns around and notices several Kree ships zooming towards him. 'Here come the reinforcements' Iron Man thinks, deciding that there is no time to discuss this with the others. His sensors give him a list of probable options of survival based on applicable combat situations, with surrender being the most favorable. 'It's p to me. I'm either going to save us, or get us all killed. I wish I knew which' Iron Man thinks to himself, before opening hailing frequencies on all channels. 'Attention, Kree forces. This is Iron Man, representing the Earth force called Avengers...' he begins.

Back inside, the other Avengers look around, and find themselves without any further Shi'ar commandos to battle. 'Well done, people. Time to regroup and assess the situation' Cap tells his team. 'Iron Man said something about -' Cap begins, before the Black Knight alerts him to a nearby bulkhead that is being opened from the other side. Cap instructs everyone to get into combat positions, as it may be another assault force. 'Haven't they learned yet?' asks Goliath, before telling the others to wait. 'It looks like – no – it couldn't be!' Goliath exclaims, as the bulkhead opens, and Iron Man, in shackles, appears. Shatterax is behind him, followed by a large squad of Kree soldiers. 'Intruders! You are hereby under arrest for violating Kree territories and facilities. Lay down your weapons!' Shatterax tells them. 'Do as the man says, people. On behalf of the Avengers, I have officially conceded our surrender to the Kree Empire!' Iron Man announces.

Moments later, the other Avengers stand with their hands behind their heads, before they are marched down a corridor. 'Blast you. How could you bypass procedure like that?' Captain America asks. 'It was a judgment call' Iron Man explains. 'You should have consulted me' Captain America tells him, to which Iron Man points out that if he had waited, they might all be vapor by now. He adds that there will be plenty of time to argue about this later, before the Kree soldiers close in around the surrendered Avengers, and Iron Man mutters 'Assuming we survive...'.

Characters Involved: 

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

Supreme Intelligence

Doctor Kev-Lar
Kree scientists

Written By: