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John Byrne (writer), Paul Ryan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Christie Scheele & Marc Siry (colorists), David Wohl (assistant editor), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
Captain America summons every available Avenger to Avengers Island, where he sets about re-organizing the Avengers so that all inactive members, and both the East and West Coast branches of the team will simply be known as the Avengers, available to assist when they are can. The three members of the Fantastic Four, as well as the Beast, appreciate the offer, but do point out that they are mostly busy with their other own respective team at present. Some resentment from Tigra towards Hellcat surfaces, while Captain Marvel announces that although she is relatively powerless, she is happy to be called on when necessary. Hawkeye makes a fuss, and talk about his new team, not wanting to be with the Avengers until he gets the respect he deserves, but Mockingbird shuts him up. As this meeting comes to an end, Jinku of the Lava Men raises a set of faceless Lava Men from the depths. Most of the Avengers depart Avengers Island, leaving Captain America, Thor, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Quasar and Gilgamesh to engage in a training session, when ends with a strange rumbling. Cap and Black Panther go to investigate and learn that Avengers Island has been raised high into the air by a rock formation, which has risen out of the sea. All six Avengers go outside, to find the faceless Lava Men swarming the island. The Avengers battle the Lava Men, but despite their best efforts are overwhelmed. The Lava Men surround the heroes and transform into a wave of lava, which spreads over the Avengers, trapping them inside a solid ball – which them rolls over the edge of the sky-high Avengers Island!
Avengers Island, headquarters of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, seemingly currently abandoned. One lone figure skulks through the sprawling, high-tech complex. He is Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, and he enters a communications meeting room, shrouded in darkness. He walks over to a computer station and switches on a button, before stating 'Now hear this – AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!' Before Captain America, twenty-five of the world's greatest heroes have arrived. Thor, Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch, Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, the android Vision, Sam Wilson the Falcon, Patsy “Hellcat” Walker, Dr Henry McCoy a.k.a. The Beast, Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Heather Douglas a.k.a. Moondragon, Dr Hank Pym, Bonita “Firebird” Juarez, Greer Grant Nelson a.k.a. Tigra, Jennifer Walters a.k.a. She-Hulk, Bobbi Morse-Barton a.k.a. Mockingbird, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. The Black Widow, Monica Rambeau a.k.a. Captain Marvel, Wendell “Quasar” Vaughan, Giglamesh the Forgotten One, T'Challa the Black Panther, Janet van Dyne a.k.a. The Wasp, Starfox and three of the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue Storm a.k.a. Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, and the de-powered Ben Grimm.
Captain America stands on the table so that everyone can see him and begins: 'Before I start, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you for answering my summons. I know a lot of you had to come a long way to New York and Avengers Island...and I hope, after I've said my piece, you won't feel as if you've had a wasted journey' Thor is the first to speak up and announces that he, for one, is sure they shall not, and asks Captain America to say on. Cap thanks Thor, and states that, in a nutshell, at one time of another each and every one in this room has been an Avenger, some for a long time, and some for only a short time, and that as Chairman of the East Coast Branch of this team, what he wants to propose to everyone is this – a permanent consolidation of all members. 'The Avengers are the Avengers. Not two teams. Not three. Not one'. Cap adds that everyone who has ever been an Avenger will always be an Avenger, a member of a pool of super-powered individuals whose abilities add up to an unstoppable force for good.
Reed Richards declares that Cap's reasoning is precisely that which led to the formation of the Fantastic Four. 'And even though Sue and I are now back with the FF...' Reed begins, to which Sue concludes 'We'll be delighted to come when you need us, Cap. We could do no less!' Ben Grimm speaks up, 'Same here, hero. I don't know how much use an old test pilot will ever be to this team – but I was a member of the West Coast Avengers when I was still the Thing... and if you need me, all you gotta do is holler'. Hanging from the ceiling, the Beast adds 'Indubitably duplicated here, Cap'. He explains that although his primary loyalties these days lie with his fellow mutants in X-Factor, if Mrs McCoy's little boy, Hank, can ever be of service, they have but to whistle. Cap thanks the Beast, before turning to the others and asking 'How about the rest of you?'
Standing between Quasar and Gilgamesh, Hellcat speaks up, pointing out that it has been a while since she has really been in harness, but that if they ever need her, she says the same as the Beast and as the FF. 'I'll be there' she reports. 'Don't think the man was talking to you, sweetcakes' a voice calls out. It is Tigra, who holds her tail and asks 'Why would any team need a two-bit imitation when they've got the genuine article?' 'What?' Hellcat gasps. 'Just what is that supposed to mean?' Tigra replies that she would have thought it was obvious, even to Hellcat. 'I was the first to wear the Cat costume, when I was still human... I know there's nothing you can do in that outfit that I can't do a hundred times better!' 'Why, you miserable...' Hellcat begins, lunging towards Tigra, asking 'Wannna test that one on one, you...' but Gilgamesh holds her back, and Quasar and the Sub-Mariner restrain Tigra who lurches forward. 'Patsy! Greer! As you were!' Captain America commands. Tigra tells Cap to keep out of this, and declares that it is between her and the new kid. 'No, it is not' Cap points out, standing between both women he reminds them that they are Avengers and that any disagreements between them will be settled as Avengers, with dual order and dignity. 'Not with some senseless... er... cat fight!' he declares, before ordering them both to back away. 'All right... since you asked me to, Cap' Hellcat complies, turning away, while Tigra declares that this isn't over, as there is something important to be settled here.
Monica Rambeau, out of costume, steps forward and remarks that if that is all over, she supposes she will follow Ben Grimm's footsteps and say that she will be happy to offer any assistance she can, although she points out she is still recovering from the draining of power that forced her to resign as Avengers Chairman, so she doesn't know how much use she can really be. Firebird stands nearby, while Captain America puts his hands on Monica's shoulders and tells her that her spirit alone makes her an invaluable asset. He adds that he is very glad to hear she says she still wants to be one of the team. 'And speaking of teams...' Hawkeye begins, arms folded he frowns and announces that he sort of has his own team going since he quit as the West Coast Chairman. 'So as far as I'm concerned, this whole sheebang can just go whistle until you've all learned to show me some of the respect I've earned!' he declares. 'I don't believe it!' Hawkeye's estranged wife, Mockingbird, utters. She points a finger at Hawkeye and exclaims 'This is why you answered Captain America's call? So you could get on your high horse and play prima donna?' Mockingbird tells Hawkeye to listen to her and reminds him that she is an Avenger, he is an Avenger, and they are going to stay Avengers. 'Got that, mister?' she adds.
Captain America addresses everyone and tells them that this isn't quite the unanimous mandate he was hoping for, but he supposes it will have to do. 'Aye! Avengers we be, each and every one!' Thor agrees, and all of the Avengers raise a hand into the air, 'So say we all!' they exclaim in unison. 'And to paraphrase my famous cousin... I pity the fool who tries to mess with us!' She-Hulk grins.
Elsewhere, steam rises from boiling lava, as several of the Lava Men are gathered around a cauldron, one of them states that the ancient magicks grow weaker by the second, that darkness closes – the final darkness. 'Upon my actions here must hang the fate of all my race!' one of the Lava Men declares, raising his arms up, he looks into the smoldering cauldron and calls out to the gods of the Netherworld, 'Hear the voice of Jinku as it echoes in the Vault of Making!' he exclaims. He reclines backwards, 'See how I have summoned forth the last dregs of the ancient power. See how I have shaped the vestige of the spirit of Cha'Sha'Dra!' He adds that though their creator is lost to them, and their people have but vanished, enough of the power remains – enough of the force that brought them forth in the dim, distant dreamtime of the world. Energy crackles across the lava, and geysers burst forth, as figures start to rise from the lava. 'Enough to bring us forth once more!' Jinku cries. 'Enough to crush the surface-dwellers who destroyed our people, who shattered our tomorrows!'
Back at Avengers Island, many of the Avengers have departed or are starting to leave. 'Fare thee well, my friends! Remember well this day. Methinks tis one which history will surely not as glorious!' Thor boasts. 'We'll see, Thunder God. We'll see' Mister Fantastic remarks as he and Susan get into the Fantasti-Car. Cap bids goodbye to the Sub-Mariner and tells him that he is glad they will be fighting side by side again. The Sub-Mariner takes to the air and declares that he awaits the call of battle as they both did half a century ago. Hawkeye mutters that he just needs a lift back to Milwaukee. 'Then we'll see...' he adds as he gets into the aircraft that the Scarlet Witch and Vision are traveling in. 'Oh, Clint, don't spoil the moment' Wanda tells her friend. Remaining on the shore of Avengers Island are Cap, She-Hulk, Quasar and the Black Panther. Cap turns to the Black Panther and asks him if he will be racing back to Wakanda now, but T'Challa replies that he is not going right away, adding that it has been too long since the Black Panther stood with the Avengers, and he thinks he shall bide a while. Cap is happy with that, and points out that with She-Hulk, Thor, Gilgamesh and Quasar remaining here on the Island for now, he thinks they are ready for anything that may be thrown at them.
'Say... where is Thor? He was here a second ago' Quasar remarks. Cap explains that Gilgamesh said something earlier about wanting to get into a workout in the training room, and that he sort of phrased it as a challenge to Thor. She-Hulk agrees, and remarks that Thor has probably gone off to face him. She remarks to Cap that Gilgamesh must be seeing himself as something of a fifth wheel now that Thor is back. 'He shouldn't' Cap replies, admitting that it is true Gilgamesh and Thor tend to duplicate each other in the power department, they can never have too many heavy hitters like them. As they head back into the complex, they do not notice the water around Avengers Island starts to bubble and steam rises around it. Cap suggests that perhaps they should get in there and join them, just to make sure they don't wreck the place.
And soon, Cap, She-Hulk, Quasar and Gilgamesh have entered the training room where Giglamesh and Thor are. 'You are swift, Captain. But not swift enough for one who has the powers of an Eternal' Gilgamesh boasts as he fires beams from his eyes, which Captain America dodges the blasts, grabbing hold of a ring hanging from above, he swings back and replies 'Lesson number one for any would-be super hero, Gilgamesh...you don't talk a good fight. You do it!' Cap then tosses his shield towards Gilgamesh, who catches it, and declares that he shall remember that, if it ever becomes an issue. 'Beard of my father!' Thor gasps. 'He hath seized Captain America's mighty shield. That fabled disk is not for handling, even by the likes of such as he!' Thor exclaims, throwing his hammer, he calls out to Gilgamesh: 'Ho, Gilgamesh. Thy challenge was to me, not Captain America!' The Black Panther then leaps into the air, 'A good throw, Odinson!' he remarks, before informing Gilgamesh that he shall relieve him of the shield, and snatches the shield from the Eternal, while Thor's hammer strikes Gilgamesh's foot, 'Panther! Your speed is like none I've seen outside my own immortal race!' Gilgamesh exclaims.
The Black Panther somersaults towards the ground, remarking that there are many who are faster, while the She-Hulk points out that sometimes you don't need to be fast, as long as you are in the right place, as the Black Panther lands in her arms. Gilgamesh comments that this is amazing, for even those who have never met before work together as perfectly as one of Argos's machines. 'Still, perhaps you have outsmarted yourself, Thunder God. Your hammer is now mine to -' Gilgamesh boasts as he tries to pick Mjolnir up off the ground, but struggles, while Thor steps forward and tells Gilgamesh that sacred Mjolnir is not his. He explains that the enchantment placed upon it by his father makes his hamer return to his hand, and his alone, once it is thrown. Mjolnir lifts up off the ground and propels itself through the air, where Thor snatches it into his hand once more, adding that he can quickly throw it again. 'Maybe so, Thor... but you have to see your target to hit it!' Quasar points out as he flies up behind Thor and blasts his hand with a burst of quantum energy, causing Mjolnir to fall from Thor's hand, and Mjolnir is propelled towards She-Hulk and the Black Panther. 'Oh, no! Quasar used his light blast to make Thor's throw go wild! What's he playing at?' She-Hulk asks. 'The same game we all play, She-Hulk... though I fear this verges on more than a game' the Panther replies. She-Hulk pushes him to one side, and boasts that she thinks she can handle this one, snatching Cap's shield out of the Panther's grasp as she pushes him aside.
She-Hulk raises the shield just in time, as the hammer strikes against it, forcing She-Hulk to the ground, while Cap steps back out of harm's way. 'Wow! The force of the impact knocked me over. Even though Cap's shield absrobs all force directed against it. That's some mallet you sling, Thor' She-Hulk comments. Quasar goes over to She-Hulk and apologizes, explaining that he just got caught up in the excitement. 'That's the kind of carelessness that could get someone killed in a real hazard situation, Quasar' Cap points out. He puts a hand on Quasar's shoulder and remarks that he may be a trained SHIELD agent, but that he is new to the Avengers. He asks Quasar to join him later as he would be happy to run him through a few drills to sharpen his combat sense. Quasar looks ashamed and thanks Cap, assuring him that he appreciates it. She-Hulk tells Cap to go easy on Quasar, pointing out that they were all young once, and adds that he has cute dimples. 'She-Hulk...' Quasar mutters, before Edwin Jarvis enters, holding a tray of refreshments he announces that from the absence of violence he assumes the current training session is done, and asks if anyone would care for some tea and biscuits. 'That sounds delightful' the Black Panther remarks as he bounds over to Jarvis, telling him that, as ever, his timing is impeccable. Jarvis thanks T'Challa and adds that he thought they might all be ready for a break, when suddenly, there is a rumbling noise.
'Oh, my!' Gasps Jarvis as he is knocked to the floor, dropping his tray of drinks, while the Avengers fall over, too. 'What in the name of...?' Cap begins, as he and the Black Panther manage to exit the training room, they rush down a corridor, Cap points out that it felt like an impact, as if something was hitting the island. 'Indeed' the Black Panther agrees, adding that it is a less than subtle reminder that this is not, in fact, an island, but a floating platform. 'Whatever it was...it was strong enough too have caused visible damage even in the reinforced structure of...' Cap begins, as they rush past some cracks that have formed down the wall in the corridor. His voice trails off as they approach a window: 'The view through that window...where in blazes is Manhattan?' Cap asks, shocked, while the Panther asks Cap if he feels the subtle tremor through the ground around them. 'It's not Manhattan that has vanished...it's Avengers Island that has lifted!' the Panther declares, adding that something is forcing the whole structuure high into the air. Indeed, Avengers Island now rests high above the waters, bubbling with heat, as lava bursts up the side of the rockface that has risen out of the ocean, holding Avengers Island up high, while faceless Lava Men climb the side of the cliff to reach Avengers Island.
'Lifted? But who this side of Galactus has the power to...' the She-Hulk asks as she and the male Avengers rush outside, ready for action. 'There's your answer, She-Hulk!' Cap exclaims as the Lava Men have reached the top of the cliff and clamber towards the heroes. 'Lava Men! There's swarming up onto the island!' Cap exclaims, assuming them to be behind the Avengers' present situation. 'Lava Men?' Quasar asks, blasting one with a quantum beam. 'Aye, young one!' Thor confirms as he swings his hammer, remarking that the Lava Men were some of the first foes of the Avengers. Cap tosses his shield at one of them and remarks that these are different. 'Look at them, Asgardian! They're faceless. Their movements stiff, robotic...they can't be real Lava Men!' Cap remarks, but Quasar exclaims 'Hey, they'll do, Cap! They're shrugging off my bolts like nothing!' but Thor announces that Quasar's power does indeed affect them, while Cap points out that they reform as quickly as they are smashed.
'And that's just the beginning of our problems! I can't begin to get near 'em! Their heat is too intense even for me!' She-Hulk informs everyone as she starts to pick up a large rock, while Gilgamesh rips a palm tree from the ground and tells She-Hulk to strike from a distance. He points out that they both have the power to turn the least thing into a lethal weapon and swings the palm tree, shattering the approaching Lava Man. 'Behold! They are shattered into a hundred... pieces... judgement! Each piece has a life of its own!' Gilgamesh gasps, shocked as the small fragments of the shattered Lava Man reform into many small Lava Men. 'Not life, Gilly! I wouldn't do this if they were alive!' She-Hulk announces as she drops the large flat rock on the Lava Men, squashing them. She-Hulk rubs her hands together and asks the Eternal if he is feeling a little safer. Gilgamesh tells She-Hulk not to make sport of him, and boasts that she has seen but a tiny fraction of his immortal might.
'Then a fraction more would be appreciated, Gilgamesh! It does little good against these things to talk!' the Black Panther calls out, leaping towards one of the Lava Men, while Thor's hammer can be seen smashing into another of the faceless foes. Quasar swoops down towards the Black Panther and announces that he has an idea. 'See how many of them you can lure to the edge!' he calls out. 'That should be no difficulty whatsoever, Quasar' the Black Panther responds, and as he rushes to the edge, he remarks that the Lava Men are like the warrior ants of his native Wakanda. 'They turn en masse to follow anything that lives, and might fall prey to them' he adds, and as several of them stand near the edge of the towering island, the Black Panther flips backwards over them, 'If I have guessed correctly your intent...the time is ripe for me to absent myself...' the Black Panther surmises as he lands safely on the other side of the Lava Men. '...so I can blow 'em all back where they came from!' Quasar declares as he blasts the Lava Men off the edge of the sky-high island.
'An excellent maneuver, Quasar... and one that Thor might duplicate!' the God of Thunder calls out, swings his hammer around and around, he creates a sufficient gale that pushes the soulless creatures backwards off the island. 'Good work, Thor... but not quite good enough!' Cap exclaims as he and Thor fight near each other. 'Aye, Captain! I see what thou dost mean!' Thor declares, remarking that for every lava creature that they expel, a dozen appear to take its place, and although they battle mightily, they are scarcely holding their own. She-Hulk suggests to Gilgamesh that they see what happens when the pool their resources, and together they pick up the large flat boulder, flicking two tons of sand on top of the approaching Lava Men. Quasar flies through the air, carrying the Black Panther across a swarm of Lava Men, and tells the Black Panther that he doesn't like the look of this. 'We're losing!' he exclaims. The Black Panther tells Quasar to never say it, for although the Lava Men outnumber them by ten thousand to one. 'Well, excuse my doom and gloom, Panther...but that's not much of an exaggeration! They've got the others completely surrounded!' Quasar points out as he and the Black Panther arrive back at where Thor, Cap, She-Hulk and Gilgamesh are barely holding the Lava Men back.
The Black Panther tells Quasar that they must fight from within, and instructs him to set them down within the fiery ring. 'Okay... but it doesn't sound like the best idea to me!' Quasar remarks as he sets down inside the ring, alongside the other Avengers. 'Nor me...but the only hope we have now is to mass the full might of all available Avengers in one combined front!' the Black Panther explains. Cap tells T'Challa that it is a good strategy, especially in a losing situation. 'Cap! You're giving up...?' Quasar asks, confused. 'Not quite, son... acknowledging the odds are impossible isn't the same as surrendering' Cap explains, while more Lava Men start to rise up the side of the towering island. 'Aye, stripling!' Thor declares, smashing his opponents with his hammer, he remarks that oftimes a losing battle only makes a warrior fight the harder – and sometimes that can turn the tide. 'Speaking of tides...aren't these guys getting kinda soft on us....kinda wet?' She-Hulk asks, as the six heroes fight tightly together, the Lava Men in a large mass around them. 'They are! They let for their human forms! They flow into a single lava wall!' the Black Panther exclaims, while Thor points out that the wall is rising aboveb the. 'Quick! All of you that can fly! Grab onto someone and get clear!' Cap commands, but She-Hulk tells him that she doesn't think there is time.
'The lava...' Thor begins as it rises over the heroes. '..it's closing...' the Panther remarks. '...around us!' She-Hulk exclaims, while Quasar points out that it has sealed tight. 'We're trapped!' someone shouts as the large lava ball has totally encased the heroes. 'Trapped maybe, but not dead. And while we live, we fight on!' Cap tells the others, and they start banging, blasting and punching at the sides of the lava ball that they are trapped in. 'But fight what? These walls seal themselves as fast as the lava men reformed!' Quasar points out. 'And the heat! It's like being inside a blast furnace' the She-Hulk adds. Suddenly, the ball starts to roll, and the Avengers are tossed about inside the lava ball. 'Do tthey mean to cook us alive? The wall doth sear wherever it doth touch!' Thor exclaims. Cap asks if anyone can tell which way they are rolling, to which the Panther remarks that he did not get a fix on which location he was facing before the lava sealed around them. 'Hey, does it really matter?' She-Hulk asks. Cap tells her that it does, and clutching at his throat, he points out that in addition to being roasted alive, unless he missed his guess, they are rolling toward the edge of the island. 'And if we... go... over... it's a long, long drop to the ocean – and I don't know if we can survive it!'
With that, the lava ball rolls to the edge of the cliff – and falls right over, towards the boiling, bubbling water below....
Beast, Ben Grimm, Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel II, Falcon, Firebird, Gilgamesh, Dr Hank Pym, Hawkeye, Hellcat, Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic, Mockingbird, Moondragon, Quasar, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Starfox, Sub-Mariner, Thor, Tigra, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers)
Jinku and other Lava Men
Although the Avengers, Avengers West Coast and the available inactive Avengers are consolidated into one team, simply the Avengers, with this issue, the Avengers and Avengers West Coast still operate as two separate teams. Several of the Avengers seen this issue are active on various assignments shortly after (such as Opperation: Galactic Storm and Acts of Vengeance) but a set roster of Avengers is later put in place in Avengers (1st series) #329, and many inactive or reserve Avengers are not seen as part of the Avengers again until the Heroes Return, Avengers (3rd series) #1.
Avengers who served as part of the team up to this issue but are not present for various reasons include: Iron Man, Hulk, Rick Jones, Quicksilver, Swordsman, Hercules, Black Knight, Mantis, the Guardians fo the Galaxy, Whizzer, Two-Gun Kid, Ms Marvel, Jocasta, Captain Marvel I, Iron Man II, Doctor Druid, Moon Knight, Marrina, Demolition Man, USAgent.
The Thing briefly served with the West Coast Avengers in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #9.
Hellcat hasn't been too active lately as she went into semi-retirement following her wedding to Hellstrom in New Defenders #125, after serving with the Defenders since Defenders (1st series) #44.
Tigra originally wore the Cat costume as seen in Claws of the Cat #1, before mutating into her current feline form in Giant-Sized Creatures #1. Patsy Walker discovered the Cat costume while attending an investigation with the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #144.
Captain Marvel II lost her powers in Avengers (1st series) #291-293 and resigned from the team in #294.
Hawkeye refers to having a new team, which is the Great Lakes Avengers, whom he and Mockingbird met in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #46. The Great Lakes Avengers never reached an official status with the Avengers team.