Secret Avengers (1st series) #26

Issue Date: 
June 2012
Story Title: 

Rick Remender (writer), Renato Guedes (artist), Bettie Breitweiser & Matthew Wilson (color art), Chris Eliopoulous (letterer), Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Laura Martin (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Several Avengers have headed into space to try and prevent the Phoenix Force from coming to Earth. Meanwhile, several Kree scientists in a strange space station prepare to bring the Phoenix Force to them in order to revive Mar-Vell from death. The Avengers have created a Phoenix Cage in order to try and trap the Phoenix Force, and it’s up to War Machine to activate this whilst Thor distracts the bird. They head out to intercept it, but it doesn’t take long for the cage to fail and for War Machine, Thor and several others to fall before the mighty Phoenix. However, Captain Britain tries to activate the cage using his own powers, but this fails too and they prepare to die. Fortunately, the Phoenix hears the Kree’s call and heads their way, sparing the Avengers. The Phoenix flies right through the Kree space station, blowing it up as it does so. However, in doing this, Captain Mar-Vell is brought back from death and he heads to Hala, where the Avengers have gone to recuperate. There, he finds Ms. Marvel and the Protector, who are both in agreement with Mar-Vell. To ensure the Phoenix comes to Hala, they must kill the Avengers.

Full Summary: 

(Hank’s dream)
Hank dreams about Dark Phoenix and how she ravaged the X-Men many years ago. He watches helplessly as the Phoenix consumes Jean’s soul, leaving only a shell with Jean’s face. Behind those once familiar eyes lives power incarnate; a cosmic demon intent on ending their world. The fate of the universe is in its hands. But, he remembers Jean taking her own life, stopping the Phoenix. If she hadn’t done that, they would never have seen the bird’s true purpose. They would have seen fire.

Hank wakes with a start. As Brian Braddock puts the finishing touches to a new gadget, Hank explains that his subconscious keeps regurgitating bad memories whenever he attempts dreaming. Brian replies that he’s given up on sleep and mentions that he’s made some strong tea. Hank pours himself a cup. He asks whether Rachel Summers ever lost control when she controlled the Phoenix. Brian replies no, but adds that Rachel grew up in hell. She’s more resilient than her mother. Hank says that Jean was dreadfully strong and that first encounter with Dark Phoenix may well save them now. The mnemonic scrambler he placed on Jean’s head gave him enough information to develop the Phoenix Cage that Brian’s finishing off. Once inside the cage, he adds, the infinity coils will loop the energy, holding the Phoenix within. It’s one of a kind so they only get one shot.

Brian asks if it will be strong enough to hold it and Hank says that he’s fairly certain it will. Either way, it will transmit a stream of crucial unknowns back to Tony Stark on Earth, giving the other Avengers information with which to form a backup plan. Brian understands. If they can’t stop the Phoenix, at least they can be a black box recorder.

Thor then appears carrying a large flagon of beer. Valkyrie follows close behind giggling. Thor tells her that it is as she said. They are awake with worry. Valkyrie replies that she served with Beast for years as a Defender and Avenger. He prefers to fret. Hank sips his tea and replies sarcastically that he was under the assumption this was a dire situation. Thor replies that it is, so dire that a drink is required. If they are about to die, why spend their final moments vexed? Brian mentions that they’ve completed the cage that their plan hinges on, so Thor suggests they celebrate. Brian says he’d rather not. He can be a spectacular arse when he drinks.

Thor tells him that his anxiety is causing him concern. Nerves and fear will not help him find his confidence. Brian asks what will. Thor holds up the beer and Brian takes a swig. “Drink,” says Thor. “I’ll risk arising your ire.” Hank slaps his forehead. “Booze to build confidence,” he sighs. “If Earth is still around in a few weeks we’ll have to film a P.S.A.”

Aboard a huge spherical space station with long extended rods stretching outwards from the center, reside several Kree beings. A body lies under a white sheet nearby. One of them tells another that the sliver of the M’Kraan Crystal he is holding is older than all recorded time. Inside it exists the White Hot Room… home to the Phoenix. A doorway to the room can be opened with even a sliver of the Crystal. Once magnified by the omniwave created by their craft, their ceremony will commence. The door will open; a beacon drawing their cosmic destiny to them. A traitorous warrior will atone for turning away from Hala and he will serve his people, coaxing them forward to their bright tomorrow and using his great power to show the Kree people that a grand destiny awaits within the tender clasp of the Phoenix. One of the beings hands the other a small box. He opens it to reveal a pair of golden nega bands.

Elsewhere, en route to the Avengers’ ship, Vision, War Machine, the Protector and Ms. Marvel watch a large screen with some particularly harrowing footage of a race called the Dre’lnn. Their planet is destroyed as the Phoenix passes by; a planet of people who, for a million years, have served as ambassadors of peace. Three hours ago, they ceased to exist. The Avengers are shocked and Noh-Varr says he’ll alert Thor.

Soon, they are gathered at the ship and Thor gives a speech. He tells them he’s spent much of his life fighting beside them to hold back some nefarious thing or other. They are strong in a place where the weak are in danger so they stand to push back for those who cannot. He tells them that the Phoenix is on a path towards Earth; their homes, their families, their futures. It falls on them to stop it. To stand against his unstoppable force… he cannot say if they will live beyond this for. He knows only one thing with certainty. The Avengers will assemble and they will try. Hank places the cage onto War Machine’s back securely as they prepare to leave the craft.

The Avengers then leap into the black void of space with Thor at the front heading right into the path of the approaching Phoenix. Hank reminds War Machine that the cage will only work in close proximity. James asks if he’s willing to bet his ass that his armor can withstand it. Hank replies that he does, providing Thor can hold the bird’s focus. Thor accelerates towards the Phoenix and replies that he will not fail.

As he approaches the Phoenix, he begins to twirl his mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Electricity sparks in a conical shape towards the bird which pulls back momentarily. Brian asks James to go now whilst Thor is holding it. War Machine quips that if this doesn’t work he’s gonna have Valkyrie drag his ghost as back to smack Hank. He replies that fortunately that isn’t how her power works. James opens up the cage and energy flows towards the chaos bringer. Unfortunately, Thor tells him that the bird is riled and he cannot hold it any longer. The Phoenix spews flame from its mouth and War Machine is caught in the blast. He screams as his armor is compromised and he starts to burn up. Vision asks him to divert all power to cooling and pulls him away from immediate danger. He tells Beast that James’ armor is too damaged to power the Phoenix Cage. Hank asks everyone to pull back. They’ll have to try again later.

Captain Britain has other ideas. He grabs the cage and says he’s going in, but Hank informs him that it was calibrated for War Machine’s power supply. They don’t know how it will react to a magic-based energy source. Valkyrie pulls Thor away from the Phoenix and tells Hank that he is badly injured. Valkyrie, Vision, Ms. Marvel, Thor and War Machine are caught by a second blast from the bird leaving Cap even more adamant to succeed. He ignores Hank’s warning and flies towards danger, opening up the cage once again. The cage begins to attack the Phoenix, but Hank tells him that he isn’t generating enough power to maintain the cage’s integrity. He must disconnect before it’s too late.

Unfortunately, his warning is too late and Captain Britain falls. Valkyrie says the deathglow surrounds them. Their bid is cast. They tried, but they have failed. Thor replies weakly that they didn’t fail. They stood tall against the terrible storm and he dies proudly by their sides.

The Kree activate the ship’s Crystal amplification and open the doorway. The rods extending from their ship crackle with power and the Phoenix senses it. It turns towards their ship, much to the relief and wonder of the Avengers who are saved a fiery death. On board the Kree ship, the sheet is removed and the body is revealed to be that of Captain Mar-Vell. He is dressed in a green and white costume and the nega bands are now on his wrists.

Outside, the Phoenix approaches. Mar-Vell, though asleep, is asked to begin his chants. Three other Kree pray towards him and their leader watches the bird approach on a screen. “Come, terrible seraph,” he says. “The Kree call you. We will be reborn in your grace. This is not a mission of your choosing. We are tools of cosmic will. Our desire is the desire of all. We are instructed by the universe to light the way to your rightful goal… ushering you forward.

The Phoenix flies past the ship, enveloping it in its fiery body and energies surround Mar-Vell’s body. The ship then explodes in a massive fireball and the leader, watching from afar, is told by an assistant that everyone has gathered. He steps out onto a balcony overlooking a crowd of blue Kree faces. He informs them that they can rejoice. The hour of ascension is upon them. The Phoenix comes to Hala!

Back on the Avengers’ craft, they decide that visiting Hala is their only option. They have wounded to care for and they must conserve power. Ms. Marvel informs Hank that the Kree will react with hostility, but he replies that they have stealth shields so they won’t detect them. He asks Noh-Varr if he could persuade the locals to aid them. He replies that he is from another dimension and there is no one on this Hala that knows him. But, it is still his home. At the very least, he can show them a good place to hide.

Hank enters the medlab and asks Vision where they stand. He replies that Thor will recover from his injuries. They are severe but then he is a god. “And what of James?” asks Hank. Vision simply responds with a look that all but says things aren’t looking good. Hank asks Brian how he is. Did he sustain any injuries while propelling himself headlong into the Phoenix Force, strapped into the only device capable of potentially containing it. Brian replies that he wasn’t there. He would have made the same call.

Hank replies that he wouldn’t because it was stupid. He was wondering when they’d see the classic Brian Braddock emerge from the perfect hero he’s been trying to sell. Vision tries to calm Hank down, but he carries on belittling Brian, asking if he’s ever wondered why he’s never played a role in the bigger picture. Has he ever wondered why he, one of the most powerful humans in the universe, is seldom called upon to help? It’s because of this! It’s because, while they’ve always needed his strength, they can do without a hot-reactor who thinks he knows better than everyone else. And now, he adds, his arrogance has doomed them all!

The Protector and Ms. Marvel sit atop their ship chatting. Noh-Varr explains that when he was a boy he would watch the suns of Rav’el set and dream of leaving Hala to see the other worlds in his galaxy and beyond. Carol replies that he can safely check off ‘travel’ from his to-do list. Noh-Varr says it feels better to be home than he imagined. His chest swells with Kree pride and his heart pounds strong on Hala’s soil. His ancestry… the dead on this planet, are dreaming. He can hear them. It reminds him that the humans killed everyone he loved. “They called us here. Called us home,” he adds.

Carol says she also knows this… that they were called to help in the ascension. Noh-Varr says she must also know that the Phoenix is coming there too. She must know what to do to honor the energies of the world that surge through them. Carol replies yes. Noh-Varr asks her to speak it aloud so he knows they are both discussing the same thing. Carol tells him that they must ensure nothing stops the Phoenix by any means. Mar-Vell then appears, awake following the destruction of the Kree ship and says that he’s glad to hear her say that, because if they are to succeed he will need their help. If they are to succeed they must kill the Avengers!

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Captain Britain, Ms. Marvel, Protector, Thor, Valkyrie, Vision, War Machine (all Avenger)

Kree scientists and their minister
Kree people

The Phoenix

(in flashback)
The Phoenix

The Dre’lnn

(in Hank’s dream)
Beast, Colossus, Dark Phoenix (Jean Grey), Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Charles Xavier

Story Notes: 

Rachel Summers and Captain Britain were in Excalibur together.
Hank built the mnemonic scrambler in X-Men (1st series) #136 which Nightcrawler managed to place on her head.
A P.S.A. is a Public Service Announcement.
Mar-Vell developed cancer after a battle with Nitro and later died in the graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel, back in 1982.

Written By: