Avengers (1st series) #320

Issue Date: 
August 1990
Story Title: 
The Crossing Line, part 2: Underlying Currents (First story)

First story: Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Paul Ryan (Penciler), Tom Palmer (Inker), Morelli (Letterer), Renee Winterstaetter (Colorist), Howard Mackie (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)
Under water and near Atlantis, the Avengers and the People’s Protectorate decide to set their differences aside and concentrate on the more immediate matter - the angry Atlanteans. So, they engage Orka, Meranino, Tyrak and their army in battle. The battle rages on, both teams somewhat impressed with the other while Stingray breaks into the Waterwind, discovers the imprisoned crew, and attempts to contact Captain America with the information that the crew gave him - that the Peace Corpse want to go to New York. However, Strokov, of the Peace Corpse, learns Stingray’s plan. The Peace Corpse take the damaged Waterwind to Newfoundland, and the submarine surfaces in a populated costal community Stingray contacts Captain America and informs him where they are, before being cut off. By this time, the Atlanteans have retreated as the three commanding officers have been taken out, and the Avengers and People’s Protectorate have returned to their respective vessels, and follow the Waterwind. Landing in Newfoundland, they witness the Peace Corpse, with the crew of the Waterwind as prisoners, demand that they be able to repair the Waterwind here. Captain America tells them they can, provided the hostages are freed and nuclear capabilities disarmed. The Peace Corpse don’t agree, and shoot Stingray, right before Alpha Flight arrives on the scene, with Guardian declaring that as this is Canadian land, she is now in charge of the situation.

Full Summary: 

First Story:

Deep in the Atlantic Ocean, ‘For the eternal undersea realm of Atlantis - we defend our sovereign land until death - ours or yours!’ shouts the Atlantean warrior Tyrak, flanked by Orka, Meranino and other warriors of Atlantis, while the apparent intruders flounder nearby - the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (Captain America, the Vision, Sersi, Quasar and Stingray), and the People’s Protectorate: the Soviets own national team (Red Guardian, Crimson Dynamo, Perun, Fantasma and Vostok).

‘Uhm, comrades…’ whispers the Crimson Dynamo. ‘Now we’re comrades, Dynamo?’ the handsome Quasar asks, reminding Crimson Dynamo that a moment ago they were fighting over a stolen submarine. The android Vision remarks that it appears they need to put their differences aside for the moment, as it would be in their best interest to prevent the Atlantean army from attacking the Waterwind vessel as expediently as possible. Vision’s Russian counterpart, Vostok monotonously replies that the Vision’s declaration would be the most judicious course of action.

However, Perun, an apparent God, has other ideas, and as he notes to himself that as he is rapidly running out of breath, he thinks the merriment should commence, and smacks Tyrak’s underwater vehicle over. ‘Always the first to battle, Perun?’ Crimson Dynamo remarks as he blasts Meranino’s vehicle, and asks if perhaps, occasionally, they might not prefer conversation to devastation. ‘Especially considering these beings may be justified in defending their land?’ Dynamo adds.

Orka lunges at the Vision, only to discover his large form passes right through the ghostly android. The Vision explains that he has complete control over the density of his synthetic body, before plunging his intangible hand into Orka’s chest and remarks ‘Unfortunately for you, the situation is not reciprocal! By partially solidifying myself around your heart I can render you unconscious!’ However, the Vision’s plan doesn’t go according to plan, and the android quickly pulls away. ‘Maybe Orka’s heart is safe inside Orka’s fat, eh, robot?’ the large Atlantean replies.

The Vision corrects Orka, replying that he is not a robot, but a synthezoid, before admitting that Orka’s point is accurate. Vostok punches a warrior while noting that the Vision requires assistance, and turns to one of the underwater scooter-like-vehicles, exclaiming that he can use his abilities to manipulate machinery to aid the Vision, while Orka watches, bemused at how Vostok is waving his hands about at the “sea-scout” as it is called, then finds the vehicle transformed, and wrapped around him.

The Vision replies that there is a scientific explanation, and informs him that Vostok is an amalgamation of human, alien and computer technology, and can control all forms of machinery. The Vision remarks that, now Vostok has used his powers to useful effect, it is his turn, and the Vision swims quickly towards Orka, and much to Orka’s surprise, dives straight into him then solidifies his form, causing Orka to scream, before being rendered unconscious. The Vision floats out of him as Orka’s motionless body falls to the sea-floor, and the Vision remarks that, as he suspected, his arm was not long enough to reach Orka’s heart, but his body clearly was. The Vision swims over to Vostok and remarks that their two teams function more efficiently as allies, than opponents, to which Vostok suggests they work together to deter the Atlanteans, and apprehend the Waterwind.

‘Oh, it is so pleasant to see you boys kissing and making up!’ the Eternal known as Sersi exclaims as she swims in front of several Atlanteans, remarking that she will use her powers of matter transmutation to continue the loving feeling. And as the Atlanteans fire their weapons, they are shocked to see flowers burst from the guns.

Inside the Avenger’s Quinjet, Captain America radios to the Red Guardian, who is inside the Soviet’s vessel, and asks him to pull his people back away from the Waterwind, as the battle is placing the Waterwind in too great a risk.

Meranino grabs a weapon and decides that the surface dwellers are too formidable, and admits that he doesn’t want to strike a foe in a dishonorable manner, but that their sheer strength of force and the threat they pose to his homeland leaves him with little choice. He aims his weapon at Sersi and Quasar who are busy with more Atlantean foes. ‘More friendly faces to your left!’ Sersi tells her teammate. ‘I see them!’ Quasar replies, unaware that Meranino is behind them. Perun however has seen Meranino ‘The base coward seeks to attack my allies from behind!’ he thinks to himself, and tosses his axe towards Meranino, hoping that ales will be raised in his honor once this day is over, as the axe smacks into Meranino’s weapon.

Inside the Waterwind, the Soviet terrorists who call themselves the Peace Corpse, reel from a misfired concussion blast. Fifteen hours, thirty seven minutes and counting…. General Major Illyich Prokvitch, leader of the Peace Corpse, calls out to Voroshilov, asking for a damage report. The young officer replies that he is still trying to understand the monitors, and reminds Prokvitch that he is here because of his knowledge on international politics, before exclaiming that there is no core damage and the reactor is stable.

Mendev recommends that they evacuate the area as soon as possible, to which Strokov exclaims ‘No, we do not flee! We are soldiers!’. But Allanson, the Peace Corpse’s liaison inside the Waterwind exclaims ‘And they’re bloody super-humans and crazy fish men, right!?’ Prokvitch remarks that Allanson is right, and declares that they will accomplish nothing by engaging the so-called heroes in battle. Voroshilov announces that the radar is indicating the flighting is moving away from them, while Mendev reports that they have some major systems faults, adding that they need time to berth and effect repairs. Prokvitch tells Mendev to plot a course for the nearest costal region. ‘Our only hope of successfully implementing out plan lies in out ability to effectively threaten the United States - and we cannot do that in a damaged vessel!’.

Back in the Quinjet, Captain America informs his Russian counterpart that the Waterwind is listing to starboard as it has sustained damages. The Red Guardian suggests that it might be best to allow the Waterwind to escape, while the People’s Protectorate and Avengers continue the altercation with the Atlanteans. Captain America replies that it may get those in the Waterwind out of the war zone, but wonders how long it will be before one side suffers a serious casualty.

‘For our lost honor!’ cries one of the warriors. ‘For Atlantis!’ shouts another, while Quasar mutters ‘For crying out loud! This is getting ridiculous!’ The Vision agrees, and as the underwater battle continues to rage, remarks that the fruitless fighting deters them from the real reasons they are here. Stingray takes one of the Atlantean warriors spears and thinks to himself that the Vision is right. He recalls how he was stunned after the Atlanteans initial volley while he was trying to sneak aboard the submarine.

Stingray swiftly glides through the water, back towards the Waterwind, deciding it is time to return to the Avengers’ original plan, especially since he has the best chance of succeeding. The oceanographer adds that, quite frankly, he is repulsed by the idea of fighting a group of people who are simply protecting their war-ravaged land.

Gliding alongside the Waterwind, Stingray believes he should be able to get in through the aft torpedo tube without being detected. ‘Of course, once I get in, I have no idea what I’m going to do! I’m an oceanographer, not a super hero!’. Stingray manages to get into the torpedo tube, and in a moment, emerges into the torpedo bay, dripping some water on the floor while thinking that he could stayed at O.M.I.T. when Captain America called. ‘Told him I had a hangnail or something…but now - If there’s a problem under the ocean waves, they call Namor. If he’s too busy to answer - they call me. And noble, caring, altruistic dunce that I am, I always say yes’. ‘Phew…glad I got that out of my system!’ Stingray thinks to himself, before telling himself that it is time to find a way down the sub.

In the control room, Voroshilov informs Prokvitch that they are close to a land mass, though with this radar, he cannot be sure. Mendev informs Prokvitch that all of their electrical systems are defaulting, so he believes they should surface now, as they may be left vulnerable for a while, but they have no choice. Prokvitch agrees, and orders the submarine to be taken to the surface. Moments later, at fifteen hours, thirty seven minutes and counting, the submarine rises near a small costal settlement.

Onboard, Stingray notices the rising feeling and supposes that they have surfaced, wondering if either the terrorists have reached their destination, or if the ship is more damaged than he thought. He hasn’t found the crew complement yet, but knows he will need to find them to commandeer the vessel. As if on cue, Stingray enters a chamber and discovers the true crew of the Waterwind. He tells them not to be alarmed and introduces himself as being with the Avengers.

Lieutenant Ryan steps forward and asks if they have surfaced, to which Stingray replies that they have, as the terrorists need to repair it. Stingray adds that now is the best chance they have to stop them, and Lt. Ryan informs Stingray that the terrorists had wanted to go to New York, and remarks that he doesn’t think they are near there yet, as the closest land mass was Newfoundland. Stingray leads the way out of the chamber, followed by the crew, and exclaims that they need to get this information to the Avengers, unaware that one of the Peace Corpse is standing nearby, ‘Yes, American…I will make certain you do that…ensuring a deadly conclusion to this conflict!’ he thinks to himself.

Back in the water, Quasar blasts Meranino while the battle rages on around him, he doesn’t recall ever being involved in such a furious battle. He believes that he is even starting to tire out - mentally, not physically, and wonders what would happen if he accidentally kills an Atlantean because he is exhausted.

As the Atlanteans begin to shove their spears against the Soviet’s craft, the handsome Red Guardian urgently radios to Captain America, informing him of the situation. Cap replies that he understands, but that he isn’t sure what they can do. The same thing begins to happen to the Quinjet and the screen begins to crack, while Cap explains to the Red Guardian that most of the Quinjet’s defenses are long-range or work under water. He suggests that they may have to initiate a strategic retreat.

Just in time, Quasar swims towards the Quinjet and unleashes his powers on the attacking warriors, exclaiming that he isn’t so tired so that he cannot see them trying to sneak in through the windows, he then collects them in a quantum-net and swims away with them, remarking that most of his team and the Soviets are questioning the need for this fight, he would never have let them drown Captain America! Red Guardian radios to Captain America, ‘You’re comrade’s assist does not do good for my - never mind’ he mutters as Quasar drags those in the net past Red Guardian’s attackers, knocking them from the vessel.

One of the Atlanteans attacks Perun, ‘You will have to run out of oxygen soon, surface dweller!’ he exclaims, while Perun admits to himself that the “blue toad” as he calls him, is correct, before grabbing his axe, and turns it towards the Atlantean ‘Allow me to unleash the lightning of the Gods and we’ll see who runs out of breath!’ Perun thinks to himself as he strikes his opponent.

Suddenly, the Atlanteans begin to swim away, returning to their city of Atlantis. The Avengers and People’s Protectorate watch as their foes go, and Vostok remarks that it would seem with the main leaders downed, the others could not sustain a counterattack. ‘And not a moment too soon’ Perun thinks to himself, when Red Guardian radios to his team, ordering them back to the vessel, as their mission is far from over. ‘The boy is always pushing himself - and us!’ Crimson Dynamo mutters as he, Perun and Vostok swim back to their vessel.

Moments later, Perun gasps for air as they swim up into the vessel. The God remarks that the air is not the crisp, clean air of the Carpathians, but that it is sweet nonetheless. Red Guardian and Fantasma turn to their teammates and Red Guardian congratulates them, remarking that they have done well. ‘One does not do well in war. One survives’ Crimson Dynamo replies.

The sultry Sersi turns to Quasar and remarks that he looks a little pallid. ‘Has the brutish fighting affected you?’ she asks. ‘Not as much as the fact that the oxygen supply inside my light sheath is dwindling’ Quasar replies. As the duo swim towards the opening in the Quinjet, Sersi offers to temporarily turn Quasar’s lungs into gills like she did to herself. ‘Uhm…I’ll pass…thank you…uhm…for the thought’ Quasar replies. ‘Yeughh!’ he thinks to himself.

Within moments, Quasar emerges in the Quinjet. ‘Good to see you’re all right’ Cap remarks, before telling them all as the others emerge that they performed admirably. Quasar thanks Cap and asks if they are going after the Atlanteans together. Red Guardian, with Fantasma sitting behind him, over the comm-link tells the Avengers to go after the Atlanteans while he and his team pursue their traitorous countrymen, as they have no interest in the Atlanteans.

Captain America replies that, as much as he hates to allow the Atlanteans to escape, the Waterwind is of greater importance. While Sersi wrings out her hair, Cap tells Red Guardian that they all want the same thing, so they can work together. The Vision informs Cap that he has searched the area for Stingray but has been unable to locate him. Sersi remarks that the last time she saw Stingray he was fighting alongside the rest of them, to which Cap declares that he was afraid of this, as Stingray is not trained - suddenly, a call comes in over the communicator, it’s Stingray!

Cap asks Stingray where he is, to which Stingray replies that he is aboard the Waterwind, and that they have surfaced off the coast of Newfoundland. He adds that he is not sure where exactly, but that there are berthing and repaid facilities, which narrows it down to the bays of Trinity, Placentia or Conception. Stingray reveals that he has freed the British sailors, and is about to explain what they are going to do, when suddenly the transmission cuts out.

Captain America asks the People’s Protectorate if they heard that transmission, to which the Red Guardian replies that Stingray must be in danger, so now is the time to strike at the terrorists. Captain America replies that they have surfaced in a populated area, so points out that they must assume the Waterwind’s nuclear arsenal is still operational. Red Guardian replies that he understands Cap’s fears and sympathizes with the predicament of a captured ally, but adds that it is even more means that the terrorists must be stopped immediately. ‘Let’s do it then - together - efficiently - but cautiously!’ Captain America exclaims, before both vessel’s rise from the ocean.

Meanwhile, in Conception Bay, St. John’s, Newfoundland, a rustic island in Canada’s newest and poorest province. Before today, the Island’s biggest claims to fame were its fishing industry, its accents, and its vital functions during World War II. After today, it will be known as the site of the World’s worst nuclear detonation!

Seventeen hours, three minutes and counting… ‘You fool! What were you thinking?’ asks Prokvitch as he punches Strokov on the top of the submarine, with Stingray and the British crew held prisoner. Prokvitch reminds Strokov that all he had to do was feed the hostages, but instead he allowed them to escape and contact the American heroes. ‘Why?’ he asks, while Stingray thinks to himself that it would appear there is a little dissension among the terrorists, which he knows could come in handy later on.

Strokov tends to his punched face while replying that, now, Prokvitch has no choice but to execute their plan. ‘You doubt my commitment? Do you?’ Prokvitch asks angrily, while aiming a loaded gun at Strokov. Suddenly though, he is alerted to the Quinjet and the People’s Protectorate’s vessel landing nearby on a cliffside.

The heroes emerge from their vessels and Vostok announces that the Canadian armed-forces are on full alert. Captain America asks Sersi if she thinks she could stop the terrorists from here if she had to. ‘Transmute them into flies or something?’ he suggests. Sersi replies that the distance is too great for that, and adds that if she had the slightest inkling of the mechanical fundamentals involved in the creation of that size vessel, she would have stopped the submarine long ago.

Suddenly, Prokvitch addresses the heroes via a mega-phone, remarking that he is the leader of the Peace Corpse, he demands access to this island’s maritime facilities. Captain America shouts back that they cannot negotiate until the hostages are freed and the nuclear weapons disarmed. Prokvitch replies that he will execute one hostage every five minutes until his demands are met - starting with their comrade Stingray!

Vostok informs Captain America that the terrorists cannot launch their nuclear complement from a surface position, adding that if they were to execute the hostages they would be in a defenceless position in approximately five hours. ‘Are you suggesting we allow them to kill over one hundred men?’ Captain America asks angrily. The Vision suggests that the terrorist must also realize that the hostages are the only things preventing them from being attacked, as logic would dictate type they, being heroes, would spare the hostages at all costs.

Captain America tells the Vision that he is right, and turns back to the Peace Corpse, announcing that they will not accept their demands as they have been currently proposed. ‘Very well then’. Prokvitch replies, before firing at Stingray - who falls to the ground. ‘You have five minutes to change your minds!’ Prokvitch bellows.

‘No! They killed Stingray!’ Quasar shouts, while Cap pulls him back. The Red Guardian declares that the time for talk is over, and remarks that acceptable loss of life must be expected, and the terrorists stopped. Suddenly, a voice from behind the two teams exclaims ‘I don’t think so, folks!’ Everyone turns to see who has arrived on scene. ‘Who?’ asks Crimson Dynamo. ‘Interesting’ remarks the Vision.

Standing before the other heroes are five of Canada’s premiere super team - Guardian, Shaman, Puck, Box and Diamond Lil - and Guardian, one of the most powerful people in all of Canada, declares that no citizens and no property will be placed in jeopardy without her say so. ‘In case you’ve forgotten, you’re on Canadian soil, which means jurisdiction of this little mess passes on to…Alpha Flight!’

Characters Involved: 

First story:
Captain America, Quasar, Sersi, Stingray, Vision (all Avengers)

Box IV, Diamond Lil, Guardian III, Puck, Shaman (all Alpha Flight)

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 Waterwind
General Major Illyich Prokvitch
Mendev, Strokov, Voroshilov and others of the Peace Corpse

Story Notes: 

This issue features a back-up story featuring the “Avengers Crew” written by Mark Gruenwald.

First story:
Stingray tried to break into the Waterwind in Avengers (1st series) #319, but a shockwave sent through the water prevented him from doing so, and swept him back to the battle.

Alpha Flight’s appearance here would seem to take place after between Alpha Flight (1st series) #90 and #91.

Oddly, Diamond Lil is depicted wearing civilian clothing and the diamond mask around her eyes, while she actually donned a new costume (actually just a lot of black leather) in Alpha Flight (1st series) #87, which does not include the eye-piece.

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