Avengers (1st series) #322

Issue Date: 
September 1990
Story Title: 
The Crossing Line, part 4: Bombs Away! (First story)

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

Brief Description: 

(First Story)
The hostile Atlanteans arrive in Newfoundland, and make their way towards the Waterwind and the area where Guardian is leading the evacuation of civilians, aided by Shaman, Quasar, Crimson Dynamo, Perun, Sersi, Fantasma and Diamond Lil. Puck soon arrives on scene with the crew of the Waterwind which he helped free. Guardian leads Quasar, Perun and Crimson Dynamo into battle against the Atlanteans, while Shaman, Sersi, Fantasma and Diamond Lil concentrate on teleporting the civilians away, although it is a slow process as Shaman can only teleport so many, however they are aided by the fact that Fantasma has masked their appearance from the Atlanteans. Quasar tussles with Tyrak, while Crimson Dynamo confronts Meranino and Perun tussles with Orka, though he is aided, and just in time, by Box. Puck soon enters the fray, dealing with some warriors, while Crimson Dynamo tries to dehydrate Meranino, and Quasar finally lets loose against the abusive Tyrak. Inside the Waterwind, Captain America and Red Guardian try to talk Prokvitch out of starting World War III, but Prokvitch believes it is the only way to change the suffering in the world. Red Guardian soon reveals that he and Prokvitch have connections, while the Vision and Vostok work on assessing the best way to disconnect Prokvitch and Strokov from the nuclear warhead console. Strokov wants to release the nuclear warheads as soon as possible, and his wish comes true, albeit not by intent, as the Vision and Vostok disconnect him and Prokvitch, thus releasing the fail-safe - and suddenly the nuclear bombs explode….

Full Summary: 

First Story:
St. John’s, a small town in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, is not accustomed to being the center of worldwide attention. Nor is it prepared to be known throughout history as the place where World War III began. But, with the skulking presence of the last vestiges of the Atlantean armed forced involving themselves in this nuclear showdown - St. John’s might not have a choice! Six hours, thirteen minutes and counting….

Suddenly, Meranino, Tyrak and Orka, flanked by their Atlantean followers, rise from the ocean, ‘For glory, honor and revenge! Atlanteans, attack!’ Tyrak shouts forcefully, as they make their way to land. Months ago, the undersea realm of Atlantis waged a war against the surface world. It is a war that they lost. Since then though, a few remaining soldiers, commanded by Tyrak, Meranino and Orka, have awaited the return of their people who fled during their city’s destruction.

When the British nuclear sub, Waterwind, was commandeered by the Soviet terrorists calling themselves the Peace Corpse, it strayed into Atlantean sovereign waters. The Avengers and People’s Protectorate were able to precent the Atlanteans from causing a catastrophic accident - and it appears they’re going to have to do it again!

‘Oh, not them again!’ exclaims Quasar (Wendell Vaughn) from his position on the shore, where he and the other assembled heroes are helping evacuate the civilians. The Russian God, Perun, asks what it is exactly that causes these creatures to seek out such constant abuse at their hands. ‘Perhaps it is something in the water they drink?’ his teammate the Crimson Dynamo (Dimitri Burkharrin) suggests. Guardian (Heather McNeil Hudson) the leader of Alpha Flight tells her teammates, the Avengers and People’s Protectorate not to take this lightly, pointing out that there are thousands of civilians to protect. Shaman (Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen), Sersi, Diamond Lil (Lillian Crawley) and Fantasma are also helping in the evacuations.

Below, on the deck of the docked submarine, Puck (Eugene Milton Judd) has just evacuated the crew of the Waterwind. ‘Figures, eh? Just when we free the British sailors, take back the sub and eliminate one threat - we gotta start all over again!’ Judd remarks that this is the perfect time for him to quote Hamlet: “Let the foils be brought the gentlemen willing, and the kind hold his purpose, I will win for him if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits!”.

Heather, Quasar, Perun and Crimson Dynamo are all airborne as they fly towards the approaching Atlanteans. ‘Let us smite the foul creatures!’ Perun exclaims. ‘I’ll settle for keeping them from the Waterwind and her nuclear payload!’ Heather informs Perun, before turning to Quasar, who understands what she wants, and tells her not to worry about it, and addressing her as “Ma’am” he flies down towards Tyrak, while Dynamo remarks that Quasar is awfully polite for an American.

‘I thought we’d already danced this number, Tyrak!’ Quasar exclaims as he encases Tyrak in a quantum-energy net, reminding the villain that he was able to handle him with his light powers when they first fought, and that was under water. ‘I don’t want to hurt you, sir. So I suggest that you don’t fight back, or my net will tighten’ Quasar remarks, while Perun drops down besides Orka. ‘You wish to pit your puny surface might against that of Orka?’ the oversized Atlantean asks. ‘Aye, blubber-laden one!’ Perun replies in a Godly manner. Orka replies that he is tired of talk, and lunges at Perun, who replies that he is offended by Orka’s breath. Calling him a bulbous buffoon, Perun orders Orka to be silent and accept the punishment which is at hand.

Crimson Dynamo and Guardian fly above Meranino and several other warriors, and Dynamo remarks that a combination of electromagnetic impulses should scramble the Atlantean’s vehicle systems, which it does. Heather also uses her abilities against the vehicles, adding that it will also keep the Atlanteans away from the Waterwind and the civilians on the hilltop.

The sultry Sersi informs Shaman that the others seem to have the situation with the Atlanteans under control, but points out that they still need to remove the civilians of this far burgh from the immediate area. Shaman agrees, but points out that it may be a time-consuming process. Twoyoungmen adds that the teleportation spells obtainable from his mystical pouch can transport no more than ten or so at a time. Fantasma tells Shaman not to worry, as she can manipulate the bio-fields of everyone, masking their presence from the Atlantean’s senses, which will allow them freer access of movement.

Sersi adds that while Fantasma does that, she can use her molecular abilities to telekinetically move the innocents from harms way, and begins doing that, while Shaman begins teleporting other civilians to Port au Port Bay on the far side of the Island.

Below, Tyrak breaks the quantum net, boasting that Quasar’s feeble bands of light cannot stay his righteous wrath of anger. Quasar flies past, informing Tyrak that he was taking it easy on him. ‘Do not seek to mock me, surface man!’ Tyrak replies angrily, before exclaiming that his people have suffered too many indignities at the hands of the surface world - pollution, manipulations, unwarranted destructions time and time again. ‘No more!’ he shouts angrily, punching Quasar hard in the face.

Heather swoops down to the Waterwind to blast Judd’s attackers, while the Waterwind crew are still making their escape. Heather tells Judd that Quasar is in trouble, but knows she cannot leave her un-powerful teammate unprotected. But Judd tells Heather not to worry about him, ‘I’m the new and improved version remember?’ he asks, referring to recent events that have happened to him.

Crimson Dynamo soars over to Meranino, and remarks that he must be one of the older Atlanteans, before asking if he doesn’t realize the futility of his actions. ‘Better to die fighting than to cower in fear!’ Meranino snaps back, before both men engage in a fist fight. Dynamo replies that it is better by far to live and fight constructively for the lives of ones people, and grabs Meranino’s fists. The Atlantean shouts in pain at this, and asks Dynamo if he is generating heat from his armor. Dynamo replies that he is doing it to dehydrate Meranino and put him out of commission as painlessly as possible.

Orka slams his powerful fist down on one of the Atlantean vessels, cracking it in half, he and Perun begin to fall. ‘You imbecilic, quivering bag of flesh - you’re knocking us into the water!’ Perun shouts. Orka replies that he is not as dumb as he looks, and points out that he fights underwater far better than Perun. As the men begin battling underwater, Perun admits to himself that Orka is right, as he can only hold his breath for about an hour or so, and decides that he best end this quickly.

Box (Madison Jeffries), who entered the water earlier, swims towards Perun, thinking to himself that he has been so busy working on trying to stop the torpedo launch that he didn’t even see the Atlanteans approach. Jeffries sees Orka wrap his large hand around Perun’s neck and decides that the Russian God needs some help to get out of this mess. Orka punches Perun aside, not seeing Box approach from behind. Jeffries admits that grabbing an opponent from behind may not make the super hero highlight films, but combined with a good electrical jolt, it will get the job done, which is all that counts in war!

Jeffries extends the Box armor’s hands, and zaps Orka, who begins to float unconsciously in the water. Jeffries has to quickly phase out of the Box armor, as he used up every bit of power he had to knock Orka out, meaning the armor is useless now, nothing but dead weight. Seeing Perun swim towards him with his hand outstretched, Jeffries is pleased that then notion of one helping hand deserves another is not lost on him.

Perun swiftly rises to the surface, carrying both Jeffries and the unconscious Orka with him, while Jeffries reminds himself that he still has his mutant powers to transmute metal, but admits he would rather have the armor if this fight keeps on going. Breaking the water and gasping for air, Perun asks Jeffries if he is well, to which the long-serving Alphan replies that he is just a little out of breath. Perun thanks Jeffries for his help, before informing him that he will hit him very hard later on for interfering in the only decent fray he has had in months. ‘Fair ‘nuff’ Jeffries replies nonchalantly.

Meanwhile, inside the Waterwind, four hours, twenty minutes and counting…. ‘Why are you doing this, Illyich Prokvitch?’ Red Guardian (Josef Petkus) asks the leader of the Peace Corpse, strapped into the nuclear vessel. ‘Motives would appear to be moot at this point’ Red Guardian’s odd teammate, Vostok points out while he fiddles with the controls. The leader of the Avengers, Captain America (Steve Rogers) tells Vostok that if they are better able to understand why these men have taken the actions they have, then they have a better chance of stopping this madness.

Prokvitch calls Red Guardian a weak-willed Glasnost lover. ‘You and your entire band of media mongrels are merely a new form of an old propaganda!’ he exclaims, when suddenly, Red Guardian rips off his mask, ‘No, Illyich! Look at me and say the same things!’ the handsome hero exclaims. ‘Josef? Josef Petkus?’ Prokvitch asks, confused. ‘You know this puppet of Perestroika?’ asks Strokov, the other member of the Peace Corpse plugged in to the nuclear vessel.

‘Oh he knows me very well! He was my father’s best friend!’ Red Guardian replies, also revealing that Prokvitch was his sponsor for the Komsomal and his military and academy instructor! ‘Tell me now that I am not the product of what you have made me!’ Josef asks. ’And I am the product of what the world has made me!’ Prokvitch snaps back angrily, ’I am a soldier, Josef, a warrior!’ Prokvitch declares that the only way left for mother Russia is to unite the nations of this world in a mutual goal - war!

Captain America asks the General to listen to what it is he is saying, but Strokov tells Prokvitch not to talk to them, as they merely seek to temper their mettle. Prokvitch tells Strokov to shut up, before informing Captain America that he respects him as an honorable soldier, before pointing out that he can surely see the decline of the status of the world today. ’Do you suggest my country continue its policies of economic reform when people do not have food to eat?’ he asks.

‘In your own land, the dividing line between the - how do you say - the haves and the nots is widening!’ Prokvitch points out. Captain America asks him how he believes triggering a nuclear confrontation - or even a conventional war - could solve the ills that he has defined. ‘A war time economy is a good economy, Captain - one need only look at historical precedent to see that the only way to solve this world is -’ Prokvitch begins, when suddenly, ‘Get away from wires, robots!’ Strokov angrily shouts at the Vision and Vostok.

Strokov tells Prokvitch to look at what they are doing while he prattles away his ideology. ‘We must act now!’ he snaps, while the Vision informs Strokov that he and Vostok are synthezoids, not robots as he claims. Josef asks Prokvitch if he truly believes that he can generate world prosperity through global decimation, to which the older man replies that he believes there is no choice left but to try.

‘Stop look at controls!’ Strokov shouts at the Vision and Vostok, who are still examining the situation. Strokov informs them that if he or Illyich are injured or die, then the bombs will explode, or if they make a mistake at the controls, then the bombs will explode too. Josef asks Prokvitch about his wife and children. ‘What about my mother and sister?’ he adds. ‘What happens to them?’ Prokvitch tells Josef to not try and distract him any further.

The Vision informs Captain America that he believes they can disconnect Prokvitch and Strokov’s cybernetic link to the nuclear arsenal given time. Cap asks if the ink is that thorough that they can detonate the payload with the speed of thought. Vostok replies that it would appear so, but that they have to be given the proper commands in order to do so. Cap declares that they will have to take a chance - pick the right moment to sever the link fast enough so that Strokov and Prokvitch do not know what is happening.

Meanwhile, outside on the high ground, Judd, along with the Waterwind crew, have arrived where Shaman is still busy teleporting the civilians away. Judd asks his friend how far away he is sending them, to which Twoyoungmen replies that he is sending them far away enough to protect them from the Atlanteans, but not nearly far away enough to protect them should the bombs explode. Twoyoungmen tells Judd that he is getting tired, as they have been working for hours, but they still need more time.

Judd motions to where Heather and the others are still fighting the Atlanteans and points out that they have been at it for quite a while too, and could use a little help, before telling Michael to keep at it, Judd cartwheels towards the dock, calling out to Heather asking her to give him some room, he bounces towards several of the warriors and smacks into them hard, ‘Let’s put these fish on ice!’ Judd jokes. Two hours, seven minutes and counting….

Heather fires some electromagnetic blasts and thanks Judd for the assistance, admitting that they are all tiring fast. Judd continues to bash the Atlanteans and remarks that his compact body is nearly indestructible now, so fatigue is not a problem for him. Nearby, Perun calls out to Jeffries, pointing out that Quasar is in trouble, as Tyrak lunges for Wendell, asking him where his boasts and bravados are now. Wendell blocks the attack with a quantum force field and replies that he was never boasting, before telling Tyrak that he can continue to pound on his force field all he wants now.

Perun exclaims that it would seem the lad is in need of a God’s help, and flies towards him, while Madison remarks ‘That would be you, right?’. ‘HO fish-man!’ Perun bellows, before blasting Tyrak with a bolt of lightning, then swooping down, ‘The battle comes to you!’ he shouts, grabbing Tyrak and pushing him over.

Heather asks Puck to keep an eye on Madison for her as she takes flight to do reconnaissance, with Puck asking ‘Jeffries? Thought you didn’t care about him anymore?’ Heather replies that she doesn’t - in that way - but that he is still an Alphan. Heather sees Dynamo, still with Meranino, and asks him how he is doing. Dimitri replies that he has been holding Meranino for almost three hours. ‘Do you realize what Atlanteans smell like when they sweat?’ he asks. ‘I’ll pass’ Heather replies, before asking Dynamo if he is running low on power and if he has enough juice to knock Meranino out. Dimitri replies that he is not sure, which is what makes this so interesting.

Heather swoops down and picks Meranino up out of Dynamo’s grasp, telling him that, if he doesn’t mind, she will take the risk factor out of his hands. High above Dynamo, Heather remarks that she will take Meranino far away from the battle, to which Dynamo wonders what she is going to do - throw him? Suddenly, Heather and Meranino vanish, ‘Bozhe moi! She didn’t blow herself up, did she?’ Dynamo asks, shocked. ‘No, she’s Canadian. They’re too normal to be crazy’ he realizes.

‘That’s it!’ an annoyed Quasar exclaims. ‘It’s time the Avengers showed a little of what they can do!’ he declares as he flies over to where Tyrak has gained the upper hand against Perun. Quasar explains to Tyrak that he has been holding back out of sympathy for the Atlantean’s’ plight, and respect for his own principles. ‘But you haven’t appreciated one and ridiculed the other!’ the young Avenger exclaims as he bombards Tyrak with quantum beams, then uses his powerful abilities to create an enormous quantum fist, ‘So the kid gloves are off!’ he exclaims as he uses the fist to smash Tyrak over the dock, where he lands hard on the wooden boards.

Crimson Dynamo, Puck, Jeffries and Quasar surround Tyrak, and Dynamo asks the Atlantean if they can put a stop to this now. ‘Yes - we can - once and for all! But it will have to be due to my death - or yours!’ the defensive Atlantean snaps back furiously.

Back inside the Waterwind - fifteen minutes and counting…. Red Guardian asks Prokvitch to think of his daughter, ‘What about the family she hopes to have? What chance has your unborn grandchild in the world you seek to create?’ Josef asks. Strokov thinks to himself that the super humans have been working Prokvitch for hours, and knows that his resolve is weakening. ‘He is not strong enough to carry on the out the task - but I am!’ Strokov tells himself, before noticing the Vision and wonders what he is doing.

Ten minutes and counting…. ‘Now!’ exclaims the Vision as he taps something into one of the consoles. Captain America and Red Guardian smack their shields into Prokvitch and Strokov, while the Vision and Vostok begin pulling out all the relays, Vostok telling the Vision to make sure that they are all disconnected.

Four minutes and counting….Prokvitch props himself up off the floor, asking the heroes what it is they have done. ‘By severing the ties you have automatically activated the fail-safe!’ he announces. ‘Fail-safe?’ Cap asks quietly. ‘So you mean that…’ Josef begins, his voice trailing off….

Ten seconds and counting….Then, a massive nuclear explosion, in an array of deadly colors and blinding lights rips through Newfoundland….

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
Atlantean Warriors

General Major Illyich Prokvitch

Crew of the Waterwind
Civilians of Newfoundland

Story Notes: 

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

First story:
On the first page, which has headshots for all the members of the Avengers, Alpha Flight and People’s Protectorate, Guardian III’s hair and visor are miscolored white, and Diamond Lil’s hair is miscolored black.

The war that Atlantis raged with the surface world was of course the uber-saga that took place in the “Atlantis Attacks” Annuals.

Puck’s comment about being new and improved refers to events that took place in Alpha Flight (1st series) #87-90.

Heather and Madison broke up after a fairly long relationship - they were even engaged - when Diamond Lil returned during the “Sorcerer Affair”. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #70-86]

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