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Jim Shooter (writer), George Perez (penciler), Pablo Marcos (inker), Phil Rache (colorist), Joe Rosen (letterer), Archie Goodwin (editor)
The Avengers are alerted by a call from Nick Fury from the SHIELD orbital station, which is currently endangered by a giant space station that has appeared out of nowhere, close to it.
The Avengers gather, among them Thor who wonders why he has been called out of the timestream several times. They are waiting for their leader Iron Man, who in his secret identity as Tony Stark is currently aboard the SHIELD station. He eventually arrives at Avengers Mansion as Iron Man and is berated by Captain America for his tardiness. The Avengers travel to the SHIELD station and then enter the mysterious space station, which has a breathable atmosphere, and search it. After a misunderstanding, they learn that the station belongs to the Guardians of the Galaxy, heroes of the 31st Century, who Thor has recently met. Thor and the Guardians describe how they fought the mad powerful Korvac. After Thor left, Korvac fled into this time. The Guardians speculate that, since their leader Vance Astro lives in this era as a child, Korvac plans to kill him and so prevent the formation of the Guardians in the future. The Avengers promise to help them. In a swanky New York hotel, Janet van Dyne has her first fashion show. During the show, guest Kyle Richmond notices a stone faced man. However, the show is attacked by a group of villains led by the Porcupine. Wasp, Yellowjacket and Nighthawk quickly engage and defeat the villains. They do not notice how the strange man makes a silent offer to one of the models, Carina Walters, which she accepts. Still unnoticed, he teleports the two of them away.
As the Avengers’ priority communication alarm sounds off at Avengers Mansion, Beast is the first to bounce toward the main communication center, still wet from his bath and dripping onto a protesting Scarlet Witch and Captain America. Still, Beast is not the first to arrive. The Vision was first by phasing though the walls.
The message is by Nick Fury hailing them form SHIELD’s orbiting space station and disrupted by heavy static. Why the static? Beast wonders and is ordered to listen. Fury tells them to switch their main screen over to the Avengers’ satellite recorder and focus on this space station.
After some more interference, the image changes. They can see the space station but no stars behind it. Vision orders Beast to change the range control and Beast adjusts the image to its widest angle, so they can get a distant overall view. “Oh my stars and garters!” is the Beast’s understandable reaction, for the station is dwarfed by a huge vessel behind it. Even Vision admits he has never seen so huge a construct.
Fury explains that it came out of nowhere, popped up in their orbit. They figure in a couple of hours it’s gonna whack into them and crush them. They may need some high-powered help. Cap promises they’ll be there in minutes and orders Vision to send out the call.
On the station, a man behind Fury apologizes; he hates to desert him at a time like this but he has some urgent business back on Earth. He was gonna evacuate him anyway… by force, if necessary, is Nick Fury’s gruff reply. He ain’t gonna let Tony Stark, SHIELD’s number one electronics consultant, go down with this tub. He’s taking him to the shuttle personally.
While they walk, Fury complains he should have known something would come along to trash this joint again after they reoccupied and rebuilt it. The blamed budget committee is gonna hit the ceiling! But he won’t be a pessimist. Stark’s bodyguard Iron Man ought to be here soon with his Avengers buddies. He figures this is right up their alley. Stark silently hopes the shuttle is fast. It is and soon he is en route back to Earth.
Meanwhile, in a midtown dinner, two men having lunch are drawing everyone’s looks or to be more precise, one man and one god, Wonder Man and Thor.
Wonder Man summarizes that Thor believes some mysterious force transported him here to help the Avengers fight Graviton, Ultron and Nefaria. Sorcery perhaps, Thor muses, for he was far away, wrapped up in his own affairs. Even now by his reckoning he should be elsewhere and yet he is here on Earth, as if he had been displaced through time.
Simon Williams admits he cannot help Thor with that but perhaps Thor can give him some advice. Sometimes he feels like he is not man enough to be a superman. He cannot finish his thoughts as their beeper go off, meaning the Avengers are calling them.
As they fly toward Avengers Mansion, Thor muses that perhaps this mission is the reason he did not vanish after Nefaria was subdued, unlike the other two instances. Spooky, Simon admits.
They land and find their teammates in the hangar, waiting for Iron Man. Eventually, they decide they cannot afford to wait any longer. Captain America angrily announces that “rustpot” is going to hear about this. However, at that moment, Iron Man flies in and apologizes for his lateness.
Cap gets in his face. A hundred men might die up there and… Then shut up and get into the ship! Iron Man snaps back. They take off and minutes later arrive at the space station.
The Avengers get into space suits as Fury briefs them. That thing is only half a mile away. They need to get it away or destroy it. Vision points out that he will have no trouble entering the construct but what about his teammates? Fury explains they have a brand new Stark computer aboard that has located an opening in the construct. Probably an airlock. They are pointed at it now. They got fifteen minutes. He wishes them good luck, and the Avengers enter space.
They enter the airlock easily, to find the air inside is breathable to them, making them wonder if the crew are human. Cap order the team to split up to do recon. The pairs and the single Beast go their separate ways.
Thor tells his partner Iron Man to buck up and that Captain America did not mean to usurp his leadership role. Iron Man agrees that he would have given the same order, but thinks to himself it is no secret what Cap thinks of his leadership. He suspects the resentment is growing. And they cannot afford that.
Beast climbs through several tunnels. Just when he is convinced there is nobody there, a hand grabs him from above and lifts him. The hand belongs to a stout, tall man. A teenage girl with fire hair calls the man ‘Chunky’ and wonders what it is. Charley 27 replies to the girl called Nikki that he figures it is a sort of space monkey. Insulted, Beast frees himself with an acrobatic move. He refuses to be slandered by an extraterrestrial facsimile of Hoss Cartwright!
Nikki draws her blaster. Beast uses his acrobatics to get away and stay out of her firing range but realizes the young woman’s immense skills and reflexes. Beast jumps at Charley but bounces right off his chest, as Jovians are eleven times more massive than ordinary humans.
Before Nikki and Beast can go at it again, they are separated by blast, courtesy of Starhawk. He and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy – Vance Astro, Martinex and Yondu – are standing on a balustrade. Sternly, Starhawk orders for the fighting to cease. He is not evil – accept the word of one who knows. Astro muses, Beast looks familiar. Martinex asks Yondu to put his bow down while Yondu points out there is still anger in their foe’s eyes.
Indeed, the spitting-mad Beast jumps to attack, only to get his foot caught in the sling of the flying Mjolnir and be taken to Thor, who is standing there with the rest of the Avengers. Iron Man quickly explains those people are friends. Thor continues they are the Guardians of the Galaxy and heroes in their own era. Cap lectures Beast he should have recognized them. Cap met them once and recorded their appearances in their archives. Wonder Man lamely points out that Beast has been studying the files but probably isn’t that far yet.
Vance Astro finally recognizes them as his boyhood heroes from over 1000 years ago.
After some explanations, Martinex assures them their tiny space station is in no danger. The Guardians’ meteor deflectors will keep it at a safe distance.
Cap introduces Iron Man as their current chairman to Starhawk. Charlie-27 apologizes to Beast and Nikki flirtingly asks Thor what he’s been doing with himself.
Things now become clearer to the Avengers. Thor had also gone into the future and met the Guardians but hadn’t yet entered the adventure into their files. It began when Thor was pulled into the 31st century by a time probe ray meant to steal artifacts from their era. This evil was the work of Korvac, the mad machine man.
Thor’s narration:By foul machinations, the villain cast Thor adrift in the trackless void where the Guardians discovered his unconscious form only moments before death. Together then they invaded Korvac’s Wonderworld, a twisted paradise, the cornerstone of the bloodied empire Korvac planned.
Present:The Guardians add to the narration. While the others fought Korvac’s minions, Starhawk and Thor besieged Korvac’s citadel. At long last, they were victorious but Korvac slipped through their grasp.
Charlie-27 continues. After Starhawk sent Thor back to his own time with Korvac’s timeray they went after Korvac. Almost caught him too, but he did a fadeout seconds before they crashed into his lair.
Martinex adds that Korvac couldn’t cover his tracks completely. Hence they found traces leading them to this era, where Korvac has fled. This is a very significant era for Earth and the galaxy. Dangerous to tamper with.
Yondu believes that doesn’t interest Korvac. He has felt the evil that drives him. He would stop at nothing!
Nikki narrates how Martinex managed to move this space station through time. They fear Korvac’s plan is a doozie.
Vance Astro explains that right now he is living in the present as a boy. Eventually, he will grow up to be Major Vance Astro, whose body will be preserved in formfitting foil, so that 1000 years from now he can help found the Guardians. They fear that Korvac might try to kill his younger self. Iron Man continues that train of thought. In essence, Korvac would be creating an alternate future where he will rule unhindered, as the Guardians never come to be.
The Scarlet Witch asks how can they stop this. Vance replies Marty has some ideas, but they can’t involve Vance. He knows from experience he can’t get too close to his younger self. This would mess with the timestream.
Soon, Iron Man reports to an ill-tempered Fury that everything is under control.
Meanwhile on Park Avenue in the Crystal Ballroom of one of the fanciest hotels, there is a fashion show by up and coming designer Janet van Dyne (aka the Wasp). On the stage, Jan jokingly greets her husband Hank Pym (aka Yellowjacket) in the audience.
Also in the audience is Kyle Richmond aka the Defender called Nighthawk, who silently admires Jan’s talent as the show starts. He also is curious about an unusually formally dressed man who has been sitting like a statue since before Kyle came in.
Janet announces her next model, a statuesque, beautiful blonde named Carina Walters, modelling a jumpsuit. Kyle notices that the stone-faced man seems smitten by Carina but meanly thinks he isn’t her type. That moment, the Porcupine and his henchmen burst into the room and demand the guests’ jewelry and wallets. However, they didn’t count on Yellowjacket and the Wasp’s presence and the two heroes immediately shrink and attack.
While the other guests panic and run, the stone-faced blond man remains calm.
Wasp is busy fighting one goon, not noticing the other one behind her. Luckily, Nighthawk lends a hand. Wasp thanks him and suggests he take out the last goon while she helps her husband take on the Porcupine.
The last goon is more afraid of getting a murder rap than of Nighthawk. His hesitation finishes him, making it easy for Nighthawk to take him out. Nighthawk leaves the models behind to assist Wasp and Yellowjacket.
Carina Walters notices that the silent man has stepped up to her. He doesn’t speak with words but does communicate an offer as he proffers his hand. With wide-eyed wonder, Carina accepts totally. She takes his hand. In the midst of the battle, unseen, the two disappear.
With the battle over, the heroes wonder where Carina has got to. And Nighthawk makes a lame joke that Jan’s fashion show has much more zing than usual.
Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man Yellowjacket (All Avengers)Charlie-27, Martinex, Nikki, Starhawk, Vance Astro, Yondu (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Nick Fury, director of SHIELDNighthawk (Defender)
Korvac / MichaelCarina Walters
Fury is referring to events from X-Men (1st series) #98-100. The station was occupied by Stephen Lang and the X-Men damaged it to rescue their friends.
The team fought Gravitron, Ultron and Nefaria in issues #159, 160, 162.
Thor’s adventure with the Guardians occurred in Thor Annual #6.
Hoss Cartwright is the oldest, somewhat massive son of the Cartwright Clan in the Western TV show Bonanza.