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1st Story: Howard Mackie (writer), Al Milgrom (penciler), Don Heck & Tom Morgan (inkers), Jack Morelli (letterer), The Dartboard (colorist)
2nd Story: Peter B Gillis (writer), Tomasina Cawthorn Artis (penciler), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Michael Heisler (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist)
Sara Tuchinsky (assistant editor), Gregory Wright (managing editor), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)
Hawkeye puts up with the panic-riddled Orb as they continue to make their way through the harsh desert. With their water running out, they are relieved when they arrive at a small town that seemingly appears out of nowhere. They drink some water, before Hawkeye goes into a hotel to call the West Coast Avengers, however he only gets the answer phone. He turns to see the Orb waving at him, as a biker gang drives up behind him. The Orb reveals that this is the town he was originally making his way to anyway, and that now his gang will kill Hawkeye. Surprisingly, the biker gang open fire – at the Orb, seemingly killing him. Hawkeye dodges bullets that are fired his way, and makes his way out the back of the hotel, where he confronts a lone biker – and discovers the biker is some sort of plant creature. He assumes that the Plantmen's creatures found the Orb's gang and replaced them. The rest of the bikers catch up to Hawkeye who traps most of them in a net, which he then sets ablaze. Two bikers remain, but Hawkeye is exhausted and out of arrows – luckily, Wonder Man and Doctor Pym got the message he left at the West Coast Avengers Compound and come to his rescue, taking out the remaining plant creatures, before Hawkeye collapses.
Starfox is on the planet Rescorla, a world where the odd aliens who live there are obsesse with the economy and sales. After several Rescorlans confront Starfox about the trouble he caused last time he was there, he manipulates one of them into taking him to the Exchange, where sales of forbidden matters takes place. Starfox is looking for companionship and is taken to a series of cages containing various aliens. One female humanoid alien in particular takes Starfox's attention and he tells the Rescorlan he wants to buy her. The Rescorlan doesn't know that Starfox knows this woman – Heater Delight. Starfox double crosses the Rescorlan and flees with Heater. He finds out that Heater got herself into some trouble, which is why she ended up here, before they evade other Rescorlans and escape the Exchange, fleeing Rescorla in Starfox's spaceship.
'We're going to die because of you! Rot out here...in the middle of nowhere!' the criminal called the Orb shouts as he wraps his arms around the neck of Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye and begins to strangle him. 'I'll make sure I watch the sun bleach your bones first, Hawkeye!' the Orb warns the archer, who struggles to gasp for air, before he flips the Orb over his shoulders, 'Not today!' Hawkeye exclaims as the Orb crashes into the sand. 'My rage will not be halted so easily, Archer!' the Orb snaps as he hurls some sand towards Hawkeye, some of which strikes him in his eyes, blinding him. The Orb declares that if it wasn't for Hawkeye's interference, he would have made it to his rendezvous point days ago. 'You had to play the good super hero and chase me across California, wreck my motorcycle, strand us in the desert and almost get my killed by the Plantman and his monsters!' Orb shouts as he kicks Hawkeye, knocking him backwards. Hawkeye struggles to clear his eyes, and knows that he has to block the Orb's attack.
Hawkeye raises his arm, but too high, as the Orb kicks him in the chest. 'You'll never know where the next one is coming from, but they will keep coming until you drop!' the Orb exclaims. Hawkeye turns from the Orb and adjusts his mask, telling himself that he doesn't need to see the Orb to stop him. He calms himself down, attains a center, becomes one with the target, even though tears fall from his eyes, he spins back around and slams his fist into the Orb's deformed face. 'Enough of this garbage, Orb!' Hawkeye declares, adding that it is bad enough he has to fight this giant sand trap to stay alive, he doesn't need to fight him, too. The Orb looks up at Hawkeye as he is told that they will need all their energy to get out of this desert alive. 'Unless you don't want to come with me. You can stay here' Hawkeye suggests. The Orb pleads with Hawkeye not to leave him, as he fears he will die. 'If I could just have a little more water -' Orb begins, so Hawkeye holds his quiver towards Orb and lets the water inside it pour into the Orb's mouth. 'I hate to see a grown man whine' Hawkeye mutters.
'That's it' Hawkeye tells Orb as he pulls the quiver up and places it back on his shoulders. 'Please... I need more!' Orb utters. 'You've had twice as much as me already!' Hawkeye points out. He strides back across the desert and tells Orb that they have to conserve water. 'In case you hadn't noticed, this isn't exactly Malibu Beach!' Hawkeye mutters. Hawkeye adds that if he hadn't thought to fill his quiver with H20 at the last water hole, they would be long dead. 'Who'd have thought the Avengers' top bowman would be playing Gunga Din for this reject from an ugly contest?' Hawkeye thinks to himself, before telling Orb to get moving, as he has a feeling they will be out of this dust bowl soon. 'I hope!' he adds.
Several hours later, the sun beats down as Hawkeye crawls across the sand, with the Orb crawling several feet behind. Hawkeye utters that he can't go on much longer like this – out of water, out of energy and out of time. 'Heck, I'm even out of jokes' Hawkeye mutters, lamenting the possibility that he will never get the chance to rejoin the West Coast Avengers. 'So stupid to quit over one guy' he tells himself, adding that he will never see Mockingbird again, either. 'I'm sure this is fascinating you, Orb, old buddy. Just what you want to hear before you meet your maker -' Hawkeye begins, before a town suddenly materializes ahead of him. 'What the – in the distance. A town'. Hawkeye knows that he can't get his hopes up, as the sun could be frying his gray matter. Hawkeye gets to his feet, reminding himself that a couple of hours ago he thought he saw a jacuzzi and a ten gallon fribble – but this town up ahead doesn't disappear. 'A town?' Orb calls out, before getting up and rushing ahead of Hawkeye, waving his arms about, he exclaims that he has made it, that he is saved. 'Pretty excited for a guy who's about to be turned over to the police' Hawkeye thinks to himself.
Following Orb into the mysterious town, Hawkeye sees that the Orb is moving to a large water fountain in the middle of a street and decides that he can't fault Orb's sense of direction. 'Guess you can lead an Orb to water and make him drink!' Hawkeye jokes, before they both begin to drink from the fountain. Hawkeye decides that the water tastes better than an orange fribble. Hawkeye can't believe their luck stumbling out of the desert and into this town just when they needed it most. He realizes that there doesn't seem to be very many people around, and supposes he better find the local hoosegow and then turn the Orb over to the police. 'Oh, Orb, ol' buddy' Hawkeye calls out, but as he turns, he sees that Orb is missing. Hawkeye wonders where Orb has got to, as he is getting real tired of chasing this guy all over the place. He is too exhausted to worry about Orb right now, and decides that if Orb wants to go back into the desert, he should let him – because right now, Hawkeye wants to find a working phone and a way home.
Shortly, in a hotel lobby, Hawkeye finds a phone and thinks that he will call the West Coast Compound, even if he isn't still their chairman, he us sure someone will come pick him up in a Quinjet – unless their government spy – USAgent – wants the team to conserve fuel! 'Look, guys, this is your erstwhile leader, Hawkeye! I could really use some help -' Hawkeye announces over the phone, before a recorded message informs him that he has reached the West Coast Avengers Compound, but that no one is available to come to the phone, so he should leave a message after the beep. The beep sounds, but Hawkeye finds himself distracted by the Orb, who he sees out the window, waving his arms about. 'What the heck is Orb doing out there? The heat must have turned his brain to mush' Hawkeye thinks to himself, before he hears a loud rumbling sound.
Several bikers appear behind Orb, who warns the Archer that he will pay – pay for every indignity he forced upon him. 'Fool! You led me straight to this town! It was here that I was heading all along! And now you'll pay!' Orb shouts. 'Well, this is hopeful! Maybe you guys could give me a lift to the nearest bus stop?' Hawkeye jokes. 'Kill him!' Orb orders his biker bang, who suddenly raise their guns and aim them towards the hotel window. 'Guess the lift is out, huh?' Hawkeye mutters, while Orb tells Hawkeye to keep joking. 'I could die laughing!' he exclaims, as he bursts into laughter – when suddenly, one of his men opens fire – straight at the Orb, bullets ripping into him, and blasting him to the ground.
Staring out of the hotel window, Hawkeye is shocked, he can't understand why Orb's own men shot him. Hawkeye supposes that even if he could get to Orb without getting shot, there's probably nothing he could do to save him, as he looks pretty dead. Hawkeye holds his hands above his head, grateful that no stray bullets came his way – when suddenly, the biker men move in closer and point their guns at Hawkeye, who quickly ducks to the floor as the bikers open fire. Hawkeye begins to crawl across the ground as shards of glass crash over him, he plans to see if there is a back way out.
Hawkeye finds the back door, and sneaks out of it, where another biker is waiting. Hawkeye decides that his next move isn't going to score him any points in the super heroes hall of fame, but he is outnumbered, low on trick arrows, and these bikers are cold-blooded killers. He supposes that with a helmet like that, the biker is only going to be stunned – but as Hawkeye slams his arrow into the biker's neck – he decapitates him! 'YEOW!' Hawkeye gasps, shocked, before the headless biker biker turns to him, grabs him by his neck and lifts him off the back porch of the hotel, crushing Hawkeye's larynx. The startled Hawkeye grabs a post connecting the porch to the roof above, and uses it to kick free, knocking the headless biker to a pile of rubbish nearby, where a broken plank pierces his body, skewering him through his stomach.
'Something's not right here. Another one of the Plantman's creatures?' Hawkeye wonders, holding up the biker's decapitated head, where he sees a plant creature's head inside the helmet. 'Geez! I can't get away from this guy! This must all be a part of his plan to pass them off as human!' Hawkeye supposes, assuming that Orb's gang must have stumbled onto the plant creatures and been replaced. 'I don't even want to think about what they did to the real gang. Better quit while I'm ahead! Yuck!' Hawkeye exclaims as tosses the head away, before he notices more of the plant biker gang speeding down the street towards them. Hawkeye turns and runs, from the gang, joking that he can't outrun these “Killer Tomatoes” so he has to stop and fight. He readies an arrow and spins around, firing it towards the gang, wanting to make them pay for what they did to the Orb, a net explodes from the arrowhead, and wraps around the plant bikers, causing them to crash together. 'Since I'm out of explosive arrowheads, I'll just have to improvise!' Hawkeye supposes.
'There, all wrapped up like a bunch of carrots!' Hawkeye jokes, before launching a flares arrow straight at the mass of plant bikers, whose crashed motorcycles have spilled gasoline. 'The combination should make for a nice – stir fry!' Hawkeye jokes as the gasoline lights up, and the plant bikers and their bikes are caught up in a fiery explosion. Hawkeye is glad that he has finished up, just in time, as he is now all of arrows. 'And an archer without arrows is like a Thunder God without his ham-' Hawkeye begins, when suddenly, two of the plant bikers race through the flames towards Hawkeye. 'Two more left!' Hawkeye thinks to himself, leaping out of the way. The bikers come to a stop, several feet from Hawkeye, who is exhausted, hungry and his brain is all but cooked from the desert. 'I – I give up' Hawkeye calls out. Like fun I do! I've never given up anything in my entire life!' he declares, grabbing his bow, he plans to use it as a weapon to fight the bikers. 'Come on, you...you...ah heck, I've run out of clever names to call you guys. Let's just do it!' Hawkeye shouts at the plant bikers.
Suddenly, a shadow falls over Hawkeye and he wonders if these guys can fly now – but looking up, he sees a welcome sight: Wonder Man! The hero swoops down and knocks the two remaining plant bikers from their motorcycles, while informing Hawkeye that Doctor Pym will be here with a Quinjet shortly. 'I had them just where I wanted them!' Hawkeye calls out, before turning as the Quinjet descends behind him, he realizes he won't have to hitch back home after all. Doctor hank Pym rushes over to Hawkeye and tells him that he looks terrible. Hank explains that they traced his message and got here as soon as they could. 'No need to rush...' Hawkeye jokes as he collapses in Hank's arms.
Having recovered from his injuries sustained in battle with Super-Nova, the Avenger called Starfox has given up his quest for his evil grandniece, Nebula, and has bid the Earth and his teammates goodbye. His destination is other worlds, and his purpose is to catch up on his life's work – carousing!
Starfox a.k.a. Eros smiles as he strides down a paved path, as cloaked reptile-like aliens watch him. Rescorla is not exactly his idea of a fun planet, and the Rescorlans are big gray brutes who like to dress in shades of gray and, on festive occasions, brownish-gray. But, he has no choice, as he is here on a mission – he knows that Rescorlans are also a race so horribly repressed – some thing to do with an embarrassingly different procreative process- that not only are all matters pertaining to the body taboo subjects, everything is forbidden – everything, that is except commerce. Starfox makes his way through a large sprawling market, and suddenly comes to a stop, putting his hands on his hips, he remembers there is something else the Rescorlans allowed – but for the life of him, can't recalls exactly what that is. 'Die, foul obscenity!' one of the large aliens shouts as they attempt to bring a large mallet down on Starfox, who steps to the side, dodging the weapon which smashes into some sort of computer console. 'Yes. That was it. Violence' Starfox thinks to himself.
Several other cloaked Rescorlans move forward to Starfox, as one of them shouts 'You dare to return to Rescorla after what you did here last time, Eros, Some of Mentor?' The Rescorlan boasts that they will rip out Starfox's lungs for his ghastly transgression. 'Oh, yes. Now I remember. My last visit, you tried to eviscerate me – because I made a remark about the weather' Starfox smiles, rubbing the back of his head. 'He – said the “W” word -!' one of the aliens gasps. 'Obscenity!' another exclaims. 'You are beyond trading with, blasphemer – DIE!' the Rescorlan with the mallet shouts, aiming the weapon at Starfox again, but Starfox steps to one side, and the alien falls forward, missing Starfox. 'But you'll recall this didn't work last time, either' Starfox smiles. 'Foulness! Foulness!' the Rescorlans watching nearby cry out.
Starfox looks down at the fallen alien and asks 'Now, you really don't want to rip my lungs out, do you?' He helps the alien up, 'You want to sell me something!' Starfox declares. He fine-tunes his emotion-affecting abilities for these aliens, as the Rescorlan replies 'Yes – I do!' and starts to lead Starfox down to another part of the market. 'Sorry, folks – business, you know!' Starfox calls out to the other Rescorlans. 'Huh? Business?' one of them mutters, confused. Starfox follows the Rescorlan and thinks to himself that this quality of finding everything obscene has made the Rescorlans much in demand as shock troops, able to be whipped into a frenzy at the billboards, magazines and conversations of the enemy – but has also gained them fame as the most notorious purveyors in the known universe – because they don't make fine distinctions – and the Exchange was where all this went on.
The Rescorlan leads Starfox to a large star-shaped facility with a canvas-like roof. For sale here are forbidden drugs, foods, machines, software and the metabolic partners of all species – but since of course they can't actually refer to those items in name, everything is in code. So what are you looking for, Titanian?' the Rescorlan asks as they make their way through the odd facility, where Rescorlans and other aliens are going about their business. 'Let's see your catalog' Starfox replies, as he looks at the intelli-signs that are beamed to each customer in their own language, since his most recent tongue-of-usage was English, that is apparently what the signs pick up. Starfox examines the categories – foodstuffs, jewels, partners, hygiene equipment and apotheosis machines. Starfox smiles when he sees the partners category. 'And your top of the line, Axel. May I call you Axel?' Starfox asks the Rescorlan. 'No' the Rescorlan replies, before telling Starfox to come with him.
'No, no, no. Axel. What do I look like? Humanoids only!' Starfox exclaims, hands on hips as he stands in front of several clear cages, where prospective alien partners are housed. 'What the mouth, Eros' “Axel” replies, before taking Starfox to another section, where more clear cages housing other, more humanoid, aliens are found. 'Better, but not quite right' Starfox tells “Axel”, who boasts that they have the finest selection in existence. It takes some time, so as not to evoke suspicion, Starfox inspects at length a number of the category, but they all fall short in some significant regard. He can feel the waves of ugly pleasure coming from “Axel”. But, Starfox can also sense the presence of what he had searched so long for – the feeling is getting stronger. 'Now this one looks promising!' Starfox exclaims as he stops at a clear cage where a blonde humanoid female wearing a frilly pink costume is housed. 'Eer – hi there - !' the woman utters as she looks at Starfox. 'She nearly blew it right there' Starfox thinks to himself, while “Axel” tells him that she is their best quality.
Starfox turns to “Axel” and tells him that this one looks like a good value, but that he would have to examine it to make sure. 'Naturally. For a deposit' “Axel” replies. 'Refundable, of course!' Starfox declares. 'Unless damaged. You break it, your bought it' “Axel” tells Starfox. Starfox tells the Rescorlan that that sounds fair to him, and holds up his card. 'You take -' Starfox begins. 'Gold card? Yes' “Axel” responds. 'Don't go off-planet without it' Starfox grins, before the clear cage raises up and the blonde woman steps out. 'Now, if you'll excuse us?' Starfox asks “Axel”, who replies 'Of course' and as he lumbers away, mutters 'Filthy, filthy' under his breath. Starfox looks at the woman and calls her Heater as he tells her that he got her message. Starfox adds that he is glad he found her, and asks her how she ended up here, as last time he left her, she was nicely set up in business for herself.
'It's not easy to talk about it, Eros honey – but, well, there was this guy. Black Roger -' Heater begins. 'Monarch of the Mystery Planet? He did this to you? Why, I'll -' Starfox frowns, but Heater smiles and tells Eros that Black Roger was a gentle being. 'Then what?' Starfox asks. Heater closes her eyes and hangs her head, she explains that Black Roger was persistent, and that his attentions reminded her of Eros himself – but he wanted a hundred-year contract and wouldn't take no for an answer. 'I couldn't think of any other way out, so I...' her voice trails off, before she reveals that she sold herself into slavery to Aaron the Aakon – it seemed like a good idea at the time. 'So say it: “Heater Delight, you're a ditz-brained space cadet”. Say it' Heater asks Starfox, who tells her that he wouldn't say that in a million years. 'Oh, Eros, honey!' Heater smiles.
Starfox then calls out to “Axel” and tells him that this one will do. 'She -' Starfox begins, but “Axel” interrupts him, declaring that he doesn't want to hear about it. “Axel” then turns to Starfox and suggests they talk about price. 'Yes, let's' Starfox smiles, an arm wrapped around Heater. Starfox supposes that he could pay for Heater outright, but he isn't sure his father's credit limit was up to it – besides, the Rescorlans are impossible creatures, and he could feel “Axel's” enthusiasm rising as he started the bidding on some strange contraption. '9500!' “Axel” exclaims. '3000' Starfox tells him. “Axel” suggests 9000, to which Starfox offers 3750. “Axel” then offers 8750, to which Starfox tells him he will give him 4025 and not a credit more. '8475 and not a credit less' “Axel” exclaims. Starfox tells “Axel” that he has never known a haggler as expert as he, to which “Axel” begins to look strange, his eyes widen and his tongue drops out of his mouth. He drops the contraption, and announces that he loves to walk around in the fields when the rain comes down, before asking Starfox what he thinks the chances of the Jukwats winning the Luqbar are. 'Only crunchy style and only skippy! Only skippy!' “Axel” babbles incoherently. Starfox and Heater take this as their cue to skedaddle and make a run for it.
Starfox picks Heater up and carriers her over his shoulder as he runs through the Exchange, pushing past several Rescorlans in the process. 'Blasphemers! Obscenities! They made me – oooooohhh' “Axel” calls out. Starfox is prevented from flying out of the Exchange due to the strange energy field that prevents teleporting or flying. 'Kill him! Put his heart where his liver is!' one of the Rescorlans shouts as several of them give chase. 'Kill!' another shouts. 'Eros, honey, don't look now -' but we've been cut off!' Heater exclaims as they dart past several, before they find themselves surrounded by a dozen Rescorlans. With Heater in his arms, Starfox tells her that it is all under control. And while things look bleak, Starfox had learned a trick when he was on Earth, from the Hulk, who taught him that you could jump as well as fly, given proper strength. 'Oooh, Eros!' Heater gasps as Starfox leaps upwards, tearing through the canvas roof of the Exchange.
Starfox manages a smooth levitation landing next to a small green space ship nearby, one of his father's fastest ships. 'My hero!' Heater utters as she kisses Starfox. They then depart Rescorla in the small space ship, and Starfox jokingly asks Heater what she thinks the chances of the Jukwats winning the Luqbar are this year.
Doctor Pym, Wonder Man (both Avengers West Coast)
“Axel” and other Rescorlans
This series was previously known as Solo Avengers.
Gunga Din was a brave Indian water-carrier from the eponymous poem by Rudyard Kipling.
Hawkeye has been fighting the Orb since Solo Avengers #19.
Hawkeye quit the West Coast Avengers after USAgent was forced on the team in West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #45.
Although the Orb was seemingly killed this issue, he returns in a cameo many years later in Deadline #2.
Hawkeye fought the Plantman in Solo Avengers #20.
Hawkeye calls the plant biker gang “Killer Tomatoes”, referencing the 1978 comedy/horror film “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” directed by John DeBello. He could also be referring to its 1988 sequel, “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” also directed by John DeBello.
The title to this story “I've been in a Desert with an Orb with No Shame” is a play on the lyrics “I've been through the desert on a horse with no name”, from the song “A Horse With No Name” released by the band America in late 1971 / early 1972.
The title of the 2nd story is a play on Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors”.
Starfox was injured by Super-Nova in Avengers (1st series) #301. He briefly appeared in Avengers (1st series) #305 when all Avengers members were gathered, before his appearance this issue.
Starfox next appears in Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #22.
First and only appearance of the Rescorlans and planet Rescorla.
Heater Delight previously appeared in Warlock (1st series) #12 and next appears with Starfox in Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #22.