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Glenn Herdling (writer), Geof Isherwood (penciler), Al Milgrom & Kevin Yates (inkers), Chris Matthys (colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
The Avengers receive a priority alert from Deviant Lemuria, and with the West Coast team disbanded, it's up to them to investigate. Captain America, Sersi, Hercules, Crystal, Giant Man and the Black Knight go to investigate, and once they locate an entrance into the underground realm, they are attacked by a priest called Karygmax and his followers, who place brain mines on the Avengers, capturing them. Karygmax decides that Sersi, Cap, Hercules and Crystal are the perfect specimens for his plan, while Giant Man and Black Knight can be taken to the arena. The Young God called Varau is also under Karygmax's control, and he forces her to prepare the Avengers for sacrifice – during this time Sersi is able to escape through the entrance way, although not after her right arm is blown off. Sersi flies to the Pentagon, where she knows that the Deviant Kro has been working to try and integrate Deviants into society. After she creates a new arm for herself, Sersi tells Kro that she needs his help, so he tells her about the Delta Network, which includes Deviants who are trying to make life better for themselves and others, and begins to assemble them. Back in Lemuria, Dragona prevents a Deviant couple from sacrificing their child, and agrees to join Kro's crusade. Enigmo is another Deviant who is involved in a wrestling match, and after being disqualified, he too agrees to join Kro's group. Karkas and Ransak are involved in the making of a movie, but when Sersi shows up, they agree to help her. Kro's own children, Deb and Don Ritter are at the University of San Diego. When Deb is attacked by another student, Don comes to her rescue, and they form the being known as Tzabaoth. Their father arrives, and requests that they join his mission. In Lima, Peru, a young boy called Tupac becomes the host for the being known as Toro Rojo, who saves Tupac's parents from some bandits who want to torch their farm to grown cocaine. Sersi, Kro and all of Delta Force arrive, and Toro Rojo joins them. But when the group arrives in Lemuria and joins up with Dragona, Sersi finds her teammates and Vaura trapped in some sort of pentagram. Sersi is then captured with the brain mine, and Ghaur appears, revealing that he has been resurrected, and will now form a Uni-Mind that will enable him to take over the world!
Like a fiery comet, it streaks across the twilight. Its target is the national defense complex known as the Pentagon. Undetected by even the most intricate surveillance systems that this fortress has to offer – the comet seemingly passes through its upper levels, causing no damage whatsoever. The subterranean level, however, is less fortunate, and as the form of a woman can be seen inside the flaming energy, this is clearly no ordinary comet. 'By the Fourth Host -!' shouts the Deviant called Kro, who dodges the debris that falls towards him. He looks down to the floor and sees the powerful Eternal called Sersi, a member of the Avengers. 'SERSI!' he shouts, before noticing that her right arm is missing. Sersi looks up at Kro and grabs him by his collar, pulling him in closer to her, surprising Kro. Sersi wearily tells Kro that the Avengers need his help. Kro asks Sersi to tell him what happened, so Sersi begins her tale:
Flashback:It was a routine day, where Dr Henry Pym a.k.a. Giant Man, the android called the Vision and Natasha Romanoff the Black Widow were trying to repair the damage wrought by the Genoshans. Black Widow asks Giant Man if he thinks he can being the World Computer back on-line, to which Giant Man, tinkering with some equipment, tells her that they will see as soon as he makes this connection. The large computer screen suddenly flickers to life, 'Not a moment too soon, it would appear' the Vision points out, noting that they are receiving a priority alert from the South Pacific. The Vision suggests that they assemble the others.
Shortly Widow, Vision and Giant Man meet with their teammates Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, Sersi, Crystal, Hercules and Dane Whitman the Black Knight. The Black Widow reports that the signal seems to be emanating from Deviant Lemuria, and while that would normally be the West Coast team's jurisdiction, they have been officially disbanded, so this falls on this team's shoulders. 'Swell. Who's idea was it to disband them, anyway?' Black Knight mutters, surprising Captain America. The Black Widow looks unimpressed and declares that what's done is done. She adds that she and the Vision are needed to oversee the West Coast team's shutdown operations, so the rest of the team will continue on to the South Pacific.
Soon, the Avengers Quinjet streaks across the Pacific Ocean, 'Orkney Islands dead ahead!' one of the team calls out. 'Closing in on Lemuria' another adds, as the Quinjet dives into the ocean, deeper and deeper, coming to a stop just over the ocean floor, where a hatch is buried into the seabed. Hercules uses his incredible strength to open the hatch, and Sersi swims through first. Cap, Crystal, Giant Man and the Black Knight are wearing wet suits with breathing devices, and Giant Man exclaims 'Magnificent! Ruins from some ancient civilization!' to which Sersi explain that they mark the entrance to the Deviants' subterranean city, before thanking Hercules for opening the hatch. Once everyone is in the hatch, they swim through a tunnel, and Giant Man sees a shaft of light above, he assumes it is a portal into Lemuria – and he is correct, as the Avengers find themselves moments later standing in the underground city of the Deviants – Lemuria. Cap examines his surroundings and tells the Avengers that it appears quiet, but to stay on their toes. 'The Deviants have a reputation for treachery!' Sersi declares as she takes to the air.
Cap, Crystal, Hank and Dane start to remove their wet suits, revealing their costumes underneath, as Sersi starts to use her powers on them, explaining that she will change their appearances to resemble the grotesque race that dwells within this dismal place. But before she can get any further, Hercules tells Sersi that the Prince of Power need not resort to subterfuge. But before Sersi can argue with Hercules, a voice calls out 'Don't fret, Olympus-spawn! Sersi's magic cannot save you from...Brother Karygmax and his Deviant Horde!' a Deviant exclaims as he and several other monstrous Deviants appear. Karygmax orders the Deviants forward, and instructs them, his loyal followers, to slay the Avengers!
A fight ensues, as Cap tells the Avengers to hit the Deviants hard, but not to forget that they are the trespassers here. Hercules throws one overhead, while Giant Man battles a large Deviant, and Crystal knocks her opponent back with a blast of wind. Cap leaps over one Deviant and kicks another in the face, while the Black Knight readies his Ebony Blade and exclaims 'Oh, please, Cap – they're obviously up to something' and jokes that he has received warmer welcomes from a den of startled rattlesnakes. 'Dane, your belligerence will only -' Cap begins, before a strange metal device is placed over his head. 'No! They're employing brain mines! We must -' Sersi calls out, but too late, as one of the strange devices is placed on her head, and then on Dane's. 'Too late, my fair Eternal! You of all people should have remembered the will-sapping properties of brain mines!' Karygmax remarks, before congratulating the Avengers on being lured like flies into their carefully spun web!
With all of the Avengers captured, Karygmax examines them, deciding that he has reaped quite a harvest, what with Crystal, the elemental Inhuman, Captain America, the epitome of perfection in the human species, the Greek God Hercules, and the lovely Sersi – one of the most powerful Eternals. He instructs some Deviant guards to take the other two into the arena, and remarks that only one other individual plays a role in his immediate plans – Varua, the spiritual guide of the Young Gods. Suddenly, Varua appears in a burst of flames from a well nearby. Her hair is as long as her body, and she wears a golden bathing suit, as well as brain mine strapped to her head. 'Yes... Lord... Karygmax...' she calls out, clearly under Karygmax's control. Two Deviants approach Varua, 'Your dagger, m'lady...' one of them utters, handing her a small knife. '... and your chalice' the other tells her as he hands her the chalice.
Varua takes the knife and approaches the Avengers as Karygmax instructs her to take the enchanted dagger and collect the blood of these most powerful terrestrial specimens. 'Blood that will be used as a sacrifice for the resurrection of -' Karygmax begins, but he is interrupted by Sersi, who suddenly frees herself from the brain mine, 'NO!' she screams as the blade is drawn to her face, but before Varua can cut her, Sersi takes flight, angrily telling the priest, Karygmax that his memory is faulty, as she overcame his brain mines once before, and has done so again! 'Once I rescue my fellow Avengers, we shall overcome you, as well!' Sersi boasts. 'The dispersatron – quickly, you fool!' Karygmax shouts at one of his guards, snatching a strange weapon from her. The priest remarks that the only way to slay an Eternal is to completely disintegrate its molecules – he opens fire at the fleeing Sersi, and she screams as the energy blast strikes her right arm. 'Duh, I think ya only got her arm' one of the Deviants remarks, as Karygmax declares that it will suffice for now. Sersi plummets towards the portal, plunging into cold water, which revives her somewhat, although she is barely able to stay conscious.
Present:Sersi clutches her right shoulder, and tells Kro that the West Coast Avengers weren't available because they have been disbanded, and her own Eternals mistrust her, because they believe she suffers from the Mahd W'yry. She tells him that she heard whispers he was involved in a government sponsored project that would integrate Deviant outcasts into society. Kro asks Sersi if she has recovered enough to attend to her arm. 'Yes. Of course' Sersi replies as she uses her powers to reconstruct her right arm. 'Very well. Allow me to access the Delta Network' Kro remarks as he puts his hand to a panel, and explains that this program lists members of his race who are seeking a better life for themselves and other Deviants. The image of a winged female Deviant appears on a computer monitor. Kro calls her Erishkigel and remarks that it appears she is missing in action. 'Good. That one is too wild and unpredictable' Sersi remarks as she runs her left hand across her newly-formed arm. Kro agrees, and informs Sersi that Erishkigel's sister, Dragona, has taken on her role as savior of Lemuira.
At that moment, back in Lemuria, a male Deviant stands on the edge of a lava pit and holds his infant up over the pit. The infant screams, while the male Deviant’s mate is on her knees, several feet back from the pit. 'No – Tobias!' she calls out. Tobias tells his mate that he is sorry, but their child has been cursed a mutate. 'Before the priesthood learns of our sins – we must consign it to the flame pit!' Tobia declares as he tosses the strange-looking infant with a very large tail into the pit. He infant screams harder, while his mother cries 'NOOOOO!' - but before the infant can land in the flames, Dragona swoops down and grabs the child, announcing that she will allow no harm to befall it. Dragona declares that their species can no longer afford to destroy the unfortunates cursed by their genetic instability.
Dragona hovers before Tobias and asks him why he would continue to propagate the stereotype that the outside world would believe of them – that they are a race of monsters, incapable of love or emotion. 'My baby -' the female Deviant utters, before Dragona declares that the baby will be taken to a man who will provide him with a good, loving home. 'Remember, it is one's acts that make one a monster, not one's appearance!' Dragona exclaims as she flies off with the baby. Shortly, she returns to her aerie, holding the baby, Kro appears on a communicator. Dragona tells him she was just speaking of him. Kro informs her that he will be arriving soon to govern affairs that have transpired in his absence, and that he needs an insider for the job. 'As always, I am yours, Warlord' Dragona tells him.
Another image appears on Kro's computer, of a human-looking Deviant who Kro tells Sersi would be ideal to rescue her friends in the arena.
In a different sort of arena, that younger Deviant is engaged in a wrestling match, as an announcer declares that the UCWF broadcast comes from the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where they are in the midst of the World Championship Match, and the reigning champ, Anabolicus has challenger Enigmo in a beautiful arm-drag take-down! As Anabolicus holds Enigmo upside down the referee tells him to let go of his tights. 'Yeah, dude – yer giving me a wedgie!' Enigmo exclaims. 'I'll wedge my foot up both of yer -' Anabolicus threatens Enigmo and the referee, swatting the referee out of the way after dropping Enigmo. Anabolicus then grabs Enigmo by his throat as Enigmo asks 'Wouldn't you have yo use both feet then?
Suddenly, Anabolicus looks confused, as he wrings Enigmo's neck, Enigmo's head literally pops off, and his body shrinks down. His head then drops onto his shrunken body and asks 'Whatsamatter, dude? I thought you just wanted to get a head in the world?' before Enigmo grabs Anabolicus by his foot and tells hi mto take a load off. 'Ref! Ref! Illegal use of super-powers! Didn't you see -?' Anabolicus' manager shouts, before Enigmo throws Anabolicus out of the wrestling ring, right at his manager. 'You're stooge kicked the ref out, you dope!' Enigmo shouts at the manager, as his body returns to its muscular, regular size. 'This must be a World Championship first – both contestants disqualified!' Enigmo jokes, when suddenly, someone asks him if he would like to play a game that has no rules. Enigmo looks down beside the ring and sees Kro. He asks Kro what he is doing here, and Kro hands him a towel, telling him to towel off and he will tell him all about it.
Back in Kro's office beneath the Pentagon, an image of someone called Blackwulf appears on Kro's monitor. Sersi asks Kro who that is, but Kro tells her he is someone much too unstable for their purposes. He flicks to another set of images, of Karkas and Ransak the Reject, and remarks that they will suffice quite nicely, given their experience in the arena. He adds that they have taken up residence in California, and that he hopes all is well with them.
'No! I've lost control of him! He -' Ransak calls out as the red-skinned monster-like Karkas knocks him back across a large warehouse. 'Fear not my faithful partner! The beast shall fall before the mighty blade of Kingo!' a warrior calls out as he drops down towards Ransak, swords at the ready, he tells Karkas that his rampage of terror is over. 'Feel the flash of cold steel as it severs your innards!' he exclaims as he attacks Karkas, and knocks him through the air, where he lands several feet away. 'The beast is slain!' Kingo declares, holding his blades up in the air triumphantly, boasting that, once again, his indomitable might has triumphed over the forces of evil. 'CUT' a voice calls out and the film crew carry on with their responsibilities, while Ransak and the actor playing Kingo help Karkas up.
'Is that a wrap? I'm starved' Karkas remarks, to which Ransak tells his friend that he is always thinking with his stomach. The director rushes over to them and declares 'Spectacular!' while telling Kingo that he doesn't know wher he finds such realistic looking costumes. 'You hear that, Karkas? He loved you!' Kingo remarks, telling Ransak that he was pretty good, too. “Pretty g-” Ransak begins, annoyed, but Karkas holds him back, 'Why, if I had the chance to shove that sword up his arrogant Eternal -' Ransak begins, while Kingo walks away, removing his helmet. 'I hope you don't feel that way about all us Eternals, Ransak' Sersi calls out as she leans against a crate. 'Sersi? What are -' Ransak begins, to which Sersi tells the two of them to join her and find out.
Back in his office, Kro decides that the Delta Network has accessed enough beings of pure physical strength, and looking at an image of Metabo, decides that he will keep for a future mission. Kro thinks that if they are dealing with the entity that he anticipates, then this strike force will require a member with cosmic aptitude. He looks at two human-looking images on his screen – Donald and Deborah Ritter – and remarks that he is reluctant to place them in danger.
The University of San Diego, where siblings Donald and Deborah Ritter are standing on a path on a sunny day, with Donald's friend Shannon. Donald tells his sister to join him and Shannon at the party. 'Yeah, Deb – it'll be like, wow! Y'know!' Shannon exclaims. Deb tells them that she is sorry, but she has to study for this exam. 'Come Monday, I'm gonna be like, wow – y'know?' she replies, before telling Don that she has seen his grades this semester and that he should join her in the library. 'Ouch' Don replies, before suggesting to his sister that she go learn what she has to, while he pursues a different sort of knowledge. 'You're unreal, you know that?' Deb tells her brother as she walks up the stairs to the library. She tells Don to go have fun, but not to get into too much trouble. As she enters the library, Deb is noticed by a thuggish student who is smoking outside. He recognizes her from his development psych class and follows her into the library, wondering if she might like his help with her Freudian slips.
'Like, yer twin sister and you are totally different, y'know' Shannon remarks to Don, who tells her that they share more traits than she might expect. At that moment inside the library, Deborah is about to sit down at a table when the thuggish student walks over to her. 'Oh, were you just sitting here? I'll move and -' Deb begins, to which the student tells her that she isn't going anywhere, and calls her a tease. Outside, Don and Shannon begin kissing, as Don remarks 'She'll never share my fondness for you...', while Deb finds herself faced with a switchblade, which the thuggish students puts to her face, and tells her that since the library is so empty, they are going to have a little party. 'No! Get away! Get!' Deb shouts, when suddenly, outside, 'Away!' Don exclaims, shoving the surprised Shannon back through the air, while Deb suddenly kisses the thug, '... but she'll never share my fondness for you...' she remarks, surprising the thug.
Shannon has fallen to the ground, and Don tells her that he is sorry, explaining that he felt some sort of violent emotion 'Totally un-cool!' Shannon tells him, before Don shouts 'Debbie!' and turns and rushes to the library. At that moment: 'Don't try that reverse psychology crud with me!' the thug declares as he slaps Deb, knocking her across the library. 'And don't try crying for help either, or I'll -' he warns her, as Don suddenly arrives, 'DEBBIE!' he screams. 'Get your paws off her, you piece of -' Don calls out, but before he can react, the thug slices Don across his chest with the switchblade. 'Shaddup, punk! Three's a crowd – no matter how ya slice it!' the thug snarls. Don falls towards Debbie, who sees that he is bleeding. Don coughs, and tells Debbie that they must merge, to save his life – becoming one being, body and soul – in the guise of Tzabaoth!
The two suddenly merge into one being, a strange-looking creature with four arms, two mouths and four eyes – a bizarre concoction of the two siblings melded together. 'Foolish human! Before I rip out your throat, know that you have earned the wrath of one conceived by an Eternal and a Deviant!' Tzabaoth informs the thug, lifting the thug overhead, the thug pleads for his life, when suddenly, a voice calls out 'And upon whose traits would you blame such savagery?' as Tzabaoth looks down and gasps 'Father!?' as they see Kro standing before them. Kro tells his children to come with him and put their power to greater use.
Meanwhile, in the village of Pachamac, a squatter community outside Lima, Peru, a boy is playing with a small red bull totem, and a woman tells a man called Huascar that she is concerned about young Tupac and his obsession with the red bull totem. The boy, Tupac, holds the bull and utters 'No, Toro, you are too dangerous to come out and play!' as Huascar tells the woman that before he gave him that idol, Tupac never spoke to a soul, and that it is the only thing that has been able to break through his autism. Suddenly, they hear a loud noise – and notice Banditos driving towards their village. One of the bandits sets fire to fields of maize in the village, and shouts 'Listen up, redskins – first we're gonna destroy your previous maize fields – then we're gonna finish the job that Pizarro started long ago!' the driver of the car speeds towards Huascar and the woman. Huascar is knocked into the air by the car, and calls out to the woman, Mara, as one of the bandits leaps at her, 'First, let's have a little fun with Pocahontas' he exclaims.
'Kid! We gotta trade places!' a voice calls out from the totem. 'But – but -' Tupac utters, before putting the totem around his neck, and exclaiming 'Okay, Toro – if you promise to save my family!' to which the voice responds 'Don't worry – I'll make those punks sorry they ever messed with the little playmate of...Red Bull!' as Tupac vanishes, and Toro Rojo, calling himself “Red Bull” appears in his place. The mighty, hooved being stands his ground as the bandits drive towards him 'Aren't you boys a little old for cow-tipping?' Red Bull asks. One of the bandits utters something in Spanish, while the other tells him 'Whatever it is – ram it!' as he holds Mara down in the back seat of the car. 'You've got it all wrong, amigos. I'm the one doing the ramming!' Red Bull points out as the car slams into him, knocking everyone from the destroyed vehicle. 'Mommy! Save my Mommy!' the voice of Tupac can be heared saying. 'Yeah, yeah' Red Bull replies as he catches Mara
One of the bandits holds a bottle with a flaming rag attached to it, 'Stupid bull! We need this land to grow our cocaine – but since these squatters won't sell out, we will take it by force!' he shouts. Red Bull places Mara safely on the ground, while petrol starts to leak from the destroyed car, and it trickles down towards Red Bull, and carries on towards the bandit. Red Bull tells the bandit that he doesn't care, to which the bandit suggests that he might care when he lights this Molotov. 'Light this!' Red Bull retorts as he scratches one of his hooves against a rock that is in the middle of the petrol stream – creating a spark that lights up the petrol, which blazes towards the bandit, who screams No! No! Heroes don't kill!' but Red Bull simply replies 'Kid, I'm not your hero'. 'It's that very attitude which trapped you within a child's subconscious!' a voice calls out. Red Bull looks over and sees Kro and Sersi, along with Ransak, Karkas, Enigmo and Tzabaoth, standing nearby. 'KRO!' Red Bull gasps. Kro tells Red Bull that if he expects him to help him, then he better change his attitude. Kro informs Red Bull that the Delta Force needs his incredible strength, and asks if he is willing to help them. 'Si – okay' Red Bull confirms.
Soon, over the South Pacific, inside a jet, Kro tells Delta Force that they will depressurize in the air for those of them who are susceptible to the ocean's depths, and that way, they will avoid any delays on their sojourn into Lemuria. Soon after that, Sersi and the Deviants have made it into Lemuria with minimum of trouble. 'Now what?' Ransak asks. Kro reports that they will rendezvous with their point person, who should be here any moment. As if on cue, Dragona descends from above, greeting Warlord Kro. 'And you, fair Dragona. What have you to report?' Kro asks. Dragona reveals that two of the Avengers are awaiting combat in the colosseum, while the others are bound to the sacrificial altar, oblations in some ceremony of the priest lords. Kro decides that they are not too late then, and instructs Karkas, Ransa, Enigmo and Toro to use their proficient gladiatorial experience to rescue the pair in the arena. The quartet rush off, and Karkas remarks that he dreads returning to the place of their shame. Ransak points out that this time, they return as free men – not as slaves. Enigmo remarks that he has been looking forward to a rematch with some of his old opponents, while Red Bull asks them all to shut up.
Dragona tells Kro, Sersi and Tzabaoth to follow her as she flies under a bridge, while Kro begs the Fourth Host that his worst fears are unwarranted. 'Tell me, Kro – what do you suspect the Deviants have planned for – the Avengers?' Sersi gasps as she and the others reach an altar, where they see Cap, Crystal, Hercules and Vaura floating in some incomplete pentagram array. Cap is able to warn Sersi to leave this place: 'Don't you understand? He wanted you to come back – and bring these others with you!' Cap calls out. Suddenly, a figure emerges from the shadows, 'Who -?' Sersi asks as the figure throws a brain mine onto her head, and declares 'The good Captain is, of course, referring to me, Eternal. And his estimation is quite correct – your freedom was ever an illusion – you were never completely autonomous from the brain mine's control!' he explains. Kro looks on in horror, as the mysterious figure asks him if he is speechless. 'Did you think me incapable of devising such a coup?' the figure asks, before stepping into the light, identifying himself as Ghaur!
Sersi is placed into the pentagram and Ghaur reveals that the blood Sersi shed when she lost her arm provided sufficient ectoplasm to summon him back to this earthly plane. Ghaur boasts that he now possesses the most powerful agents of Earth's genealogy, and his pentagram is complete. Ghaur then warns Kro that he and his hybrid offspring will merge with them into a powerful Uni-Mind from which he will draw incredible energy – and this world will fall before the voracious appetite of Lord Ghaur!
Black Knight IV, Black Widow, Captain America, Crystal, Giant Man, Hercules, Sersi, Vision (all Avengers)
KroDragona, Enigmo, Karkas, Ransak, Toro Rojo, Tzabaoth (all Delta Force)
Tobias, his wife and childVarious DeviantsAnabolicusRefereeWrestling fansFilm crewShannonThugStudentsTupacHuascar & MaraBandits
as computer image only:Blackwulf, Erishkigel, Metabo
Avengers HQ was damaged by the Genoshans in Avengers (1st series) #369.
The Avengers West Coast branch was disbanded in the classic Avengers West Coast #102, by a vote which mainly consisted of members of the East Coast team voting to shut the West Coast team down.
Erishkigel is missing as of Quasar #50.
Dragona's only other appearance prior to this issue was in Thor (1st series) #286.
First appearance of Enigmo.
Cameo appearance of the character Blackwulf who appears only as an image on Kro's monitor and will make his first full appearance in Thunderstrike #6.
Karkas and Ransak most recently appeared in Eternals: The Herod Factor #1.
Metabo appear briefly on Kro's monitor. He has only previously appeared in Thor (1st series) #286 and has not appeared since.
Donald and Deborah Ritter are the children of Kro and the Eternal Thena. They have only previously appeared in Eternals: The Herod Factor #1.
Toro Rojo has previously appeared in Thor (1st series) #290.
Ghaur was last seen and defeated during the classic “Atlantis Attacks” crossover.