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First story: Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Richard Levins (Penciler), Christopher Ivy (Inker), Bill Oakley (Letterer), Renee Winterstaetter (Colorist), Howard Mackie (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)
(1st story) A Soviet terrorist faction known as the Peace Corpse take over the British nuclear submarine, the Waterwind. With Excalibur and the Weird Happenings Organization unavailable, the British Prime Minister asks the United States for help, so the President contacts the Avengers - Captain America, Sersi, Quasar and the Vision. With the Sub-Mariner unavailable, they contact Stingray and ask for his help also. While the Peace Corpse makes themselves at home aboard the Waterwind, they are soon confronted by Russia’s super team, the People’s Protectorate - Red Guardian, Crimson Dynamo, Perun, Fantasma and Vostok, who order the Peace Corpse to stand down. Stingray meets up with the Avengers and is granted membership to reduce the risk of this becoming an international incident, but as the Avengers arrive at the location of the Waterwind, it does become an international incident when they and the People’s Protectorate engage in under water battle, despite being present for the same reasons. However, things take a turn for the worse when Tyrak, Orka and Meranino of Atlantis show up with an army in tow, as the battle rages close to their land, and they are not happy about that at all.
The Atlantic Ocean, where two hundred and fifty kilometers from the coast of Iceland, the Royal Navy submarine, Waterwind, is foundering. Twenty seven hours and counting. ‘Ballast tanks are blown, Admiral!’ someone shouts. ‘Emergency power now!’ the Admiral orders. ‘Aye, sir, switching to diesel generators!’ comes the hurried reply.
Inside one of the control rooms, sparks begin to fly from the equipment, knocking things over and causing small fires. ‘Tactical’s down!’, ‘Actives down!’ someone shouts. ‘Passive is down, sir’ someone informs the Admiral while someone else uses an extinguisher on a small fire, and someone else calls for more extinguishers. Admiral Ricket makes an urgent plea: ‘Communications - contact command central! Code alert delta-mar-six!’ he exclaims. ‘Tell them we’re coming up and it doesn’t look like we’re going back down again!’.
As the submarine rises from the ocean though, a helicopter hovers high above it, and some men drop down from it and onto the submarine. ‘Fast and tight!’ one of the men exclaims in Russian. ‘Avoid shooting once we are inside,’ he adds while in the submarine, the panic continues, ‘Need air!’ ‘Mayday! Mayday!’. Suddenly, two men emerge, only to be shot by the new arrivals. The intruders then enter the submarine. ‘That’s two down!’ the one called Strokov remarks, until he is reminded that they are not here to kill one hundred and forty men. ‘No, we are here to kill one hundred and forty million’ Strokov replies as they begin firing at more of the submarine crew.
‘Or save the same amount, comrade’ one of them remarks, before someone declares that the control center is ahead, and orders the anesthetic canisters to be put in the air vents. ‘Do not move!’ someone orders as they enter the control center. ‘What is the meaning of this?’ one of the crew asks. Suddenly, one of the intruders takes off his mask and introduces himself as General Major Illyich Prokvitch and informs the Admiral that his vessel has been secured by the Peace Corpse. Prokvitch then turns to one of the Waterwind’s crew, Allanson, and thanks him for his assistance.
The Admiral turns to Allanson, ‘You helped them?’ he asks, before realizing that of course he must have, for the only way so many systems could have malfunctioned at once is through sabotage. ‘But why?’ he asks. Prokvitch answers that, declaring that they are here to save the world. ‘And how do you propose to do that?’ the Admiral asks while pressing a button on a console behind his back. ‘Through great sacrifice, sir…beginning with your own!’ Prokvitch replies as he shoots the Admiral at close range in the stomach. Prokvitch remarks that the Admiral has alerted the Royal Navy, so it will be only a matter of hours before they are located. ‘I had hoped to do this cleanly…quietly…but it appears such hopes are quite dashed!’.
Meanwhile, Twenty six hours and counting, at Parliament Building in London. ‘Madame Prime Minister, we can have the RAF scrambled and on here in less than an hour’ someone exclaims. The Prime Minister replies that she would not seek to act so rashly, and asks if the terrorists have made any demands yet. ‘No Madame…’ someone replies, while someone else points out that they are in possession of one of only five nuclear-powered resolution class submarines in the fleet. The Prime Minister asks one of her officials what the vessel’s complement and armament is.
‘Thirteen officers, one hundred and thirty ratings, sixteen Polaris, SLBM’s chevaline warheads’ he replies. ‘I see’ the Prime Minister remarks, before asking If there is any hope of alerting their own super human resources - the W.H.O. or Excalibur? ‘Not appropriate. Not available’ someone replies, before someone else suggests that the super human route may be their best chance. ‘Standard military engagement could prove disastrous’ someone else agrees. The Prime Minister replies that she sees no alternative then, and asks her officials to alter Washington and the United Nations. ‘Tell them we need help. Tell them the Waterwind has been compromised!’.
Meanwhile, in New York, more specifically, the Avengers Mansion, home to Earth’s Mightiest heroes, who have gathered for a meeting. Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America announces that firstly, the Mansion’s reconstruction is progressing steadily, and adds that Starfox’s recuperation is going well too, before asking if there is anything else the team needs to be updated on. Wendell Vaughn a.k.a. Quasar announces that he recently erected an energy screen around Earth which will alert him to any extraterrestrial intrusions. Wendell adds that he will keep the Avengers database fully informed of such events.
The Eternal Sersi announces that she had a simply marvelous party at her loft. ‘Does that count, Captain, dear?’ she smirks. The ghostly android Vision replies that he sincerely doubts Sersi’s social activities can in any way be construed as appropriate Avengers business. ‘Be that as it may, it’s been quiet enough the last few weeks that maybe we -’ Captain America remarks, when he is interrupted by an incoming call from Peggy Carter, one of the Avengers support staff, who informs him that they have a red line call incoming. Cap thanks Peggy and asks her to put it through.
A new image appears on the monitor, that of the United States President. Cap greets him, and the President replies that it is good to see him, before remarking that it looks like they may need the Avengers help. ‘You only have to ask, sir’ Cap replies. ‘I knew this country could count on you!’ the President declares, before explaining that it seems their friends in Great Britain have lost a nuclear submarine. ‘How does one lose such a thing?’ Sersi asks, to which the President replies that things are sketchy on that front, and all they know is that the Avengers have been granted clearance by the United Nations to take the sub down using any means possible. ‘Keep me informed of your progress’ the President asks, before his image is replaced by that of Peggy again.
Peggy informs Cap that she has already tried to contact Namor, but has got no response. Quasar points out that they may need more muscle to haul in a loaded sub, and asks about Thor. Peggy begins checking, before replying that there is no answer. Cap orders his team to head for the hangar, and asks Peggy to try one more person - Walter Newell, who is now at the Groton Laboratories in Connecticut. ‘Stingray? Is it wise to involve a non-Avenger in such a potentially delicate matter?’ Quasar asks.
As the Quinjet with the four Avengers takes to the skies, the Vision points out that, without Namor available, they are going to need someone who has underwater capabilities and experience. Captain America adds that Stingray fit’s the bill, and has worked with the Avengers before. Cap radios to Peggy, asking her to inform Dr. Newell that their ETA is ten minutes and to apologize for their brusqueness, but that the situation demands immediate action. Cap also asks Peggy to transmit all information they have on the missing submarine to the Quinjet’s computers. ‘I’m on it Cap, Carter out’ Peggy replies.
Quasar expresses to Cap his concerns, remarking that he is worried as international terrorism is not usually the Avengers stock in trade. Cap agrees and adds that the alarming lack of information doesn’t sit well with him.
Back at the Atlantic Ocean, the Waterwind is operational again. The vessel’s ballast tanks have been cleared of the nitrogen crystals used in the sabotage and all electrical systems are nominal. Computers are back online - most of the vessel’s problems involved lots of flashy show and little substance. Twenty three hours, forty minutes and counting. Allanson is showing Prokvitch and Kuryestan around the vessel and they arrive in the missile room. Allanson informs Prokvitch that they are packing Polaris A3’s and have six torpedo tubes. ‘They’d be daft to mess with us now, eh?’ he asks.
‘They would be daft not to’ Prokvitch remarks, before turning to Kuryestan and asking him if he can operate this system. Kuryestan replies that he thinks he can, but that by-passing the launch sequences may be difficult, yet workable. ‘Good, proceed then’ Prokvitch replies, when suddenly Mendev appears on a monitor behind him, announcing that an incoming vessel is attempting to contact them. Prokvitch replies that he is on his way, and turns to Kuryestan asking him to work quickly, as they may have need of these missiles sooner than expected.
Prokvitch arrives in the control room and Strokov exclaims that they have acquisition, before asking if he should prepare retaliatory measures. Prokvitch tells Strokov to relax, and asks Mendev for a status report. Mendev replies that, what Strokov said may have been a little churlish, but that it was accurate. He reveals that the craft is approaching at forty knots and is approximately twenty meters in length. A young member of the Peace Corpse called Voroshilov announces that he keeps losing them on the sonar. Prokvitch asks him why, to which Voroshilov replies ‘Either I am completely incompetent or their stealth systems are better than out detection capabilities’.
‘Rest assured, I’d opt for the latter’ someone remarks, before someone else announces that the point may be moot - as the new vessel is hailing them! Suddenly, five people appear on the monitor - ‘Unidentified terrorists! We are the People’s Protectorate! And in the name of the Soviet Socialist Republics…you are hereby requested to surrender immediately or be blown out of the water!’ exclaims the Red Guardian!
Above the ocean’s surface, the Avengers Quinjet continues its search for the renegade submarine. Twenty two hours and counting. ‘Anything yet, Vision?’ Captain America asks his long-time teammate. ‘Not as yet’ the Vision replies, before announcing that he has plotted a project path for the Waterwind based on their last known location, so he believes they should be very close to target acquisition.
Dr. Walter Newell, in his Stingray costume, assures Captain America that the Quinjet’s systems are more advanced than the Waterwind. ‘They won’t even know we’re coming!’. Cap replies ‘That’s the idea’ before telling Walter that his briefing on the resolution class submarines has helped also, and thanks him for coming on such short notice.
The Vision announces that the radar imaging has identified two crafts, and Cap orders Quasar to take them down. As the Quinjet plunges into the ocean, the Vision reveals that cavitation on the smaller craft is virtually negligible, but the signature on the larger most definitely marks it as the Waterwind. ‘Well, there’s only one way to find out who’s in the second vessel…’ Cap remarks, when suddenly Quasar announces that they have them straight ahead, before pointing out that it looks like there are people outside the second craft.
The Vision reports that the Waterwind has opened launch tubes - and has now fired torpedos! Outside the small craft, the Crimson Dynamo unleashes a blast, exclaiming that he and Perun will handle the closest torpedo, and calls out to Vostok, while Perun unleashes a blast from his axe. Vostok replies that he is quite capable of rendering the second torpedo inoperable, and uses his abilities to make it fall apart. ‘So I see, my friend’ Crimson Dynamo remarks.
Captain America frowns and informs his teammates that the people in the water are the Supreme Soviets, whom he has run into once before. He remarks that he is not sure they can be trusted here, and suggests they stop them from aggravating the situation any further.
Vision, Quasar, Sersi and Stingray exit the Quinjet, all able to breathe under water, and the Vision informs them that the information they have on the Supreme Soviets is minimal. ‘No matter what, they’re a poor man’s version of us!’ Quasar exclaims, to which the Vision replies that, nevertheless, Perun remains their strongest member as he can channel bioelectricity through his axe. The Vision adds that Sputnik is a synthezoid like himself who can manipulate all forms of machinery, and that Crimson Dynamo’s armor is on par with Iron Man’s.
Sersi swims towards Perun, ‘Who is this beefy specimen?’ she exclaims, impressed. Assuming it is Perun, she uses her formidable abilities to transform the water around him into a plastic alloy prison, trapping him in a small cube. The Vision approaches Sputnik and tells him that the Avengers are here under the auspices of the United Nations. ‘I am called Vostok now’ the other android corrects the Vision, before explaining that the terrorists responsible for this predicament are Soviet citizens and therefore, this is the responsibility of the Soviet government. Vostok begins to use his powers on the Vision and apologizes for doing so, justifying his actions by declaring ‘We must not be deterred!’.
Quasar addresses the Crimson Dynamo as “Sir” as he thrashes about in a photon net that Wendell traps him in and asks him not to fight back or else he will have to tighten it. ‘Uhm…you don’t speak English by any chance, do you?’ Wendell asks, when suddenly the Crimson Dynamo break free, ‘Politeness from an American? Will wonders never cease!?’ he exclaims, before firing at Quasar, who blocks his blast.
Stingray swims swiftly towards the Waterwind and thinks to himself that he is not much use when heavyweights like Quasar and the Crimson Dynamo fight each other, not that he is complaining, as it is all a little wasteful for his tastes. Walter decides that he can make himself useful by finding a way onto the Waterwind and disabling the launch capabilities.
Inside the vessel belonging to the People’s Protectorate, the sultry Fantasma - formerly known as Fantasia - informs the Red Guardian that there is anger everywhere. ‘Of course there is!’ Red Guardian replies. ‘We are engaged in a battle to determine who will then battle a nuclear submarine!’. Fantasma tells the Red Guardian that, although he is leader of the group, he would do best to respect her intuition. Red Guardian apologizes and assures Fantasma that he does respect her, before asking if she can explain her bio-readings any further. ‘Only that we are approaching something we…shouldn’t…we must stop!’ Fantasma replies.
Suddenly, Red Guardian appears on a monitor in the Quinjet, introducing himself as of the People’s Protectorate. Captain America is surprised at the name change of the team but decides that it is better than the previous name, calling themselves after a governing body in a time of political turmoil. Captain America responds to the Red Guardian’s hail by suggesting they stop this fruitless fighting right now. Fantasma agrees, and tells Red Guardian that they are only making worse by continuing.
Red Guardian asks Captain America to please understand that Soviet personnel are involved in aggressive action, so they feel that to allay global fears, the People’s Protectorate must stop them. Cap replies that he can appreciate that, but that they are recklessly allowing the Waterwind the opportunity to accomplish the very goals both teams want to prevent. ‘But it was you who attacked us!’ Red Guardian exclaims. A pained Fantasma clutches her head and tells Red Guardian that it is too late. ‘We have come too close…and they are angry!’ she exclaims. ‘They feel they have been violated again…and they want us to pay for it!’ she gasps. A concerned Red Guardian asks Fantasma who she is talking about, while Captain America can be heard on the monitor asking what all the yelling is about.
Meanwhile, Stingray reaches the Waterwind and tells himself that he has to find a way inside, hoping that the launch tubes are still open. ‘Then just take out an unknown number of hostile, armed terrorists and deactivate any nuclear warheads that may just be lying around waiting to detonate…no wonder I let this costume collect dust in my closet!’ he thinks to himself. Suddenly, Walter hears a shrill noise and knows that he has heard it before. However, before he can react, a blast knocks him and he is swept away in the current.
The Avengers and People’s Protectorate who are in the water also see the explosion and Sersi asks what could have caused it. ’I believe, Madame, that the operative term should have been - who caused that explosion!’ and everyone turns to see several armed warriors, some swimming, some riding water-vehicles, one of them shouts ‘In the name of the last remaining people of the city of Atlantis - by proclamation of Tyrak, Meranno and Orka - senior officers in the great Atlantean army - we demand you leave our sovereign land - or DIE!!’.
Twenty one hours, thirty three minutes and counting….
First story: Captain America, Quasar, Sersi, Stingray, Vision (all Avengers)
Crimson Dynamo V, Fantasma, Perun, Red Guardian III, Vostok (all People’s Protectorate)
Meranino, Orka, Tyrak (all Atlantean army)Other Atlantean soldiers
Admiral Ricket, Lt. Ryan and other crew of the WaterwindGeneral Major Illyich ProkvitchAllansonMendev, Strokov, Voroshilov and others of the Peace Corpse
This issue features a back-up story featuring the “Avengers Crew” written by Mark Gruenwald.
First story:At the time of this story Excalibur was caught up in the Cross Time Caper.
Quasar erected the shield around Earth in Quasar #12.
This marks the first appearance of the Supreme Soviets as the People’s Protectorate. Their only appearance as a team prior to this issue was in Captain America (1st series) #352-353. Along with the team name change, Fantasma was previously known as Fantasia and Vostok was previously known as Sputnik.
Stingray’s status as an Avenger has often been the cause of much debate. He is granted Avengers membership on this mission solely to avoid an international incident, yet he rarely associated with them again until Avengers (3rd series), firstly in the “Once an Avenger” storyline, then joining the team again during the “Kang Dynasty”. However, prior to his joining the team in this storyline, he associated with the Avengers when they had headquarters at his Hydrobase.