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First Story: Roy & Dann Thomas (writers), Jim Fry (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Diana Albers (letterer), Renee Witterstretter (colorist)
Third Story: Gary Barnum (story), Brad Vancata (penciler & colorist), Jim Saunders (inker), Rick Parker (letterer)
Len Kaminski (assistant editor), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
First Story:The original Human Torch is re-activated once more, before the Avengers West Coast, and Machine Man, are informed by Quicksilver that Hercules needs their help to battle the Termini. Hercules watches as the Termini have transformed themselves into a creature similar to the Terminus, their apparent father. The Avengers West Coast, Machine Man and Quicksilver arrive on scene, and after discussing their options, they set in motion their plan to stop the behemoths battling each other and endangering civilian lives. The plan works, as large lenses are used to trick Terminus and the Termini into thinking the other has gone in an opposing direction. The behemoths soon realize they have been tricked, and battle the Avengers West Coast and their allies, before once again battling each other, until finally Terminus swallows the Termini, transforming himself into the Ultimate Terminus, he takes off. In New York, the Avengers are made aware of the situation and plan to meet up with the Avengers West Coast to take down the Ultimate Terminus!
Third Story:The Atlantean mutants called SURF break into Marine World, intent on setting free the sea creatures, whom they believe are being kept prisoner. However, Firebird was spending a day at Marine World, and quickly alerts her former teammates of the trouble. Dr Hank Pym, Hawkeye and the Wasp soon arrive at Marine World, and Hank shrinks down the whales and puts them in a beaker for their own safety, while Firebird, Hawkeye and the Wasp battle SURF. Hank reminds himself of Firebird’s feelings for him, before the two teams attempt to settle things peacefully. SURF learn that the whales are not being mistreated, though are not happy they perform acts to receive food. SURF depart to the ocean, where the dwindling whale population is at the risk of many dangers.
First Story:‘One more time’ Dr Hank Pym announces inside a laboratory at the Palos Verdes Compound, home of the Avengers West Coast! ‘Ultra-sound scan complete. Activating laser probe - now!’ he declares as he presses a lever down. Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp flutters nearby as she informs Hank that the temperature reading is shooting up like there is no tomorrow. ‘You sure everything’s under control?’ she asks. ‘Actually…no’ Hank replies, admitting that he has never tried using lasers for sensory stimulation before. He adds that there is a first time for everything. Hank remarks that it is getting hot in the lab and hopes that it wont be the last time.
‘Watch out!’ Hank shouts as a bright light fills the lab. The Wasp motions to someone else in the lab and exclaims ‘Hank - look! His hand it’s moving - catching fire!’ The third being in the lab replies ‘And why shouldn’t it - when it belongs to the original Human Torch!’. Bright flares continue to light up the lab, while other members of the Avengers West Coast - Tony “Iron Man” Stark, John “USAgent” Walker, Simon “Wonder Man” Williams and Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, along with their ally the Machine Man, look on. ‘But since we already knew that, fella, how about turning down the heat a notch or two?’ Iron Man asks.
‘Yeah, it doesn’t much faze Iron Man and me, but these other guys are liable to wilt’ Wonder Man exclaims. The original Human Torch apologizes to everyone and shouts ‘Flame - off!’, before asking if anyone can tell him what time it is. ‘Or what day?’ he asks. ‘In act a rough estimate of the year would be greatly appreciated’. Hank informs the Golden Age hero that it has not been that long since the Scarlet Witch’s hex power deactivated him. ‘It’s still 1990’ he reveals. ‘Glad to hear that, Dr Pym. After all, my previous record for downtime is 35 years’ the Human Torch points out, before asking how the Scarlet Witch is doing, anyway.
‘As well as can be expected, under the circumstances’ Clint remarks, before introducing himself to the Human Torch. The Wasp explains that they managed to free the Scarlet Witch from Magneto, and then from a guy called Immortus, while the Human Torch was deactivated. Hank declares that hopefully the Scarlet Witch will be back to normal after a few days rest, and that her brother, Quicksilver, is with her now. ‘That silver-haired mutant? But he fought against us’ the Human Torch points out. USAgent frowns and asks Hank if they are going to have to nursemaid the “golden oldie” for the rest of his android life.
‘Please, USAgent - I’m only trying to understand -’ the Human Torch begins, before Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff races into the lab: ‘AVENGERS!’ he exclaims. ‘Where’s the fire? Or did you hear about the four-alarmed we had in here?’ Clint jokes. ‘This is serious, Archer!’ Quicksilver exclaims, announcing that they have received an Avengers summons from Hercules, south of San Francisco. Pietro declares that Hercules claims to have been battling hordes of metallic beats called Termini, and needs their help. ‘He said Iron Man was familiar with the creatures’ Quicksilver adds, before pointing out that he knows his Avengers status has long since lapsed, but he will go with them, if they will have him.
‘So will I! These Termini killed Peter Spaulding, a human friend of mine!’ Machine Man declares. Iron Man tells Machine Man that they will take all the help they can get. ‘Let’s go, people! I’ll fill you in on the way!’ Iron Man announces. ‘Now you’re talking, Hardhat!’ USAgent exclaims, as the Avengers West Coast and their allies leap into action.
A short time later, their Quinjet streaks across the Californian sky, while the Human Torch flies alongside it. ‘Out of cold storage for two minutes - and we’re off running!’ he tells himself. ‘My new life as an Avenger promises to be anything but dull!’ he adds, while inside the Quinjet, someone asks Quicksilver if he can add anything from Hercules’ account to what Iron Man has told them. Pietro replies that the Termini seem to have coalesced into a single entity more than one hundred and fifty feet high. ‘Oh, and one other thing: a similar colossus is fighting that one - a colossus called Terminus!’ Pietro exclaims, asking the Avengers West Coast if this makes sense to any of them.
At that moment, south of San Francisco, civilians run for their lives as Terminus battles the transformed Termini! ‘By the Medusa’s serpentine locks!’ Hercules booms as the Olympian takes in the battle raging before him. ‘Scarce had the multitude of Termini combined into a single towering behemoth - than a metallic twin to the false Terminus I once fought hath descended from out of the heavens - and now the twain do battle in the heart of San Francisco!’ Hercules exclaims.
Hercules suddenly hears Terminus speak, if that is Terminus, to the Termini. ‘So, wormling - you are the spawn of Terminus - the many who are become the one!’ Terminus exclaims. ‘I have returned from far space, having slain a Thunder God and incorporated his hammer into my own body - to learn which of us shall inherit the vengeful mantle of our long-dead creator race!’ Terminus declares. The Termini’s jagged-toothed mouth snarls in reply: ‘Then you should have stayed hidden behind some darking star. Terminus - “father”! For you have journeyed all this vast distance - only to face obliteration at the hand of your “son”!’ Termini declares, racing towards Terminus with a a strange weapon. ‘Have I? We shall see!’ Terminus replies as his weapon clangs against Termini’s.
‘By my beard the Termini-creature hath broken off its own spine-like tail - to defray the blow his elder’s lance!’ Hercules exclaims. ‘Did their creators design it thus - that it might be used as a weapon?’ he wonders. The Olympian wonders how it is that the Termini who lately did babble like infants have now fused into an entity which trades banter, as well as blows, with Terminus. Suddenly, the Quinjet lands nearby. ‘Ah! The Avengers have come!’ Hercules exclaims, hoping they can take him to some vantage point where he can enter the fray.
‘Wasp! Dr Pym! A thousand thanks for answering my clarion call!’ Hercules exclaims as he rushes towards the Avengers West Coast, where the Wasp tells Hercules that his call surprised them. ‘We figured any menace you and Thor couldn’t whip by yourselves had to be a whopper!’ Hank exclaims, adding that they were wrong: ‘It’s two whoppers!’ Hank jokes, before asking Hercules what is going on here. Iron Man, Wonder Man, Hawkeye, USAgent, the Human Torch, Quicksilver and Machine Man gather around, with Iron Man asking where Thor is. ‘Thought you two came here together’ he adds.
Hercules replies that the Son of Odin has made a miscalculation most tragic, leaving him to fight the various Termini, Thor soared into space in search of the true Terminus. Hercules continues, explaining that Terminus did return, boasting he had slain Thor and “incorporated” his hammer into Terminus’ very being. ‘Thor - dead?’ Hawkeye gasps. Hank points out that the enchantments placed on the Uru hammer should have prevented the alien from even lifting it, let alone absorbing it. ‘Terminus, my friend, is no ordinary foeman’ Hercules exclaims. ‘What’s more, while we stand here jawing - those two 15--foot leviathans are liable to total the City by the Bay!’ Iron Man exclaims as energies slam together.
‘If only Captain America and I stopped the Termini when they were tiny spores - or Machine Man and I when they were the size of animals!’ Iron Man regrets. ‘No use crying over spilled brake fluid, Avenger’ USAgent declares. ‘The Avengers West Coast are here to bring those walking erector sets down to size!’. Someone asks Walker if he has any ideas how they do that, to which USAgent clenches his fists and exclaims that they will think of a way. Machine Man points out that since Hercules and Thor both failed to defeat the enemy, it is doubtless more than brute force is called for. ‘True, Machine Man. Maybe this will help?’ Hank offers, revealing something in his hand.
‘A couple of tiny lenses? You gotta be kidding!’ Hawkeye exclaims. But Hank tells his friend not to forget that when bombarded with Pym Particles, things that were originally huge can become bit-sized and vice-versa. The lenses are increased in size, while someone exclaims ‘I know you didn’t enlarge those things so the Terminus twins could each have a monocle. What gives?’. ‘You’ll see - I hope - when both lenses are in position’. Hank asks Iron Man and Machine Man to place themselves southwest of the Termini construct. Iron Man and the Machine Man grab one side each of one of the lenses and take flight, with Machine Man asking Iron Man what Dr Pym’s plan is. ‘When he’s got one we don’t ask - we just carry it out’ Iron Man replies, adding that it is a good thing they fixed Machine Man up with a new arm.
Hank continues with his instructions, telling Wonder Man and the Human Torch to take the other lens south southeast of Terminus. ‘Nothing I’d rather do, Doc’ Simon replies, while taking flight, asking the Human Torch if he can hold up his side without melting it. The original Human Torch replies that he can, but that following orders mindlessly isn’t #1 on his personal hit parade. ‘Or do they still do “your hit parade”?’ he asks.
Hank, the Wasp, Hawkeye, Walker, Hercules and Quicksilver go into two Quinjets as Hercules exclaims that it will be a joy to fight once more alongside so valiant a mortal assemblage as the Avengers - be they of whatever Coast. The Wasp tells Hercules that this is not going to be a picnic, while USAgent announces that the Government agents who appointed him to watch-dog this team want the two Kong-types wasted. ‘So that’s what we’re gonna do period!…somehow’.
Hank looks out the window and sees that both teams are nearly on their marks, to which Quicksilver tells Hawkeye that the Avengers West Coast were fortunate to find so able a leader as Henry Pym in their moment of need. ‘Yeah, lucky us’ Clint replies, frowning, as he thinks to himself that nobody actually appointed him leader. ‘And after all, I’m the one who founded the West Coast branch. “Forgotten, but not gone” - that’s me!’ Clint thinks to himself, while Hank exclaims ‘There they are - bigger than life and an infinite number of times as ugly!’ while the Quinjet darts around the behemoths.
Nearby, the Machine Man asks Iron Man if he has noticed that even as the two Termini blast at each other, each seeking a vital spot, they have slowly edged southward from San Francisco. ‘Since we hoped they’d move away from areas of greatest population density, maybe we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ Iron Man replies. ‘But yeah, now that you mention it, it almost seems they’ve each moved south according to some pre-conceived unspoken pact, even while trying to kill each other!’ Tony adds.
Nearby, the Human Torch informs Wonder Man that Dr Pym is signalling them. ‘He wants us in position the next time they -’ Simon begins, before there is a blinding light. ‘By Zeus’ beard and my own!’ Hercules exclaims inside the Quinjet. ‘What happened? Even my dark glasses didn’t keep me from being blinded’ the Wasp exclaims. ‘Wait’ll my pupils go back to being bigger than B-B’s and I’ll -’ USAgent begins, before alerting everyone to what Terminus and the Termini are doing: ‘The brothers Kong are both still moving more or less south, but now they’re moving at angles away from each other’. Walker wonders if the behemoths blinded themselves even worse than they did to the Avengers.
In the other Quinjet, Hawkeye asks Hank to clue them in to what he did. ‘Simplicity itself, Hawk’ Pym replies, explaining that the two mirror lenses, among other things, refract light on a huge scale, and since they were activated just as the Termini lost visual contact with each other for a crucial instant amid a burst of light, each now sees his opponent in a place where he isn’t. ‘In short, we’ve got them pursuing light-mirages of each other!’. Hank adds that he couldn’t be positive his ploy would work, but points out they were not having any success the other way.
Quicksilver points out that such a visual deception cannot last long, to which Dr Pym replies ‘No. But at least we’ve separated that pair. And bought a bit of time’. The two Quinjets swoop down towards one opponent each. ‘Now it’s up to the Avengers West Coast to see what we can do with it!’ someone exclaims, while the jagged-toothed Termini screeches ‘Terminus - “father” - where are you? Your “child” wishes to thank you for the gift of life - by destroying you!’.
The Termini sees Terminus up ahead: ‘Ah - there you are! How shall the old generation of killing machines give way to the - new?’ the Termini is puzzled as the trick is revealed. The Termini opens its mouth wide, showing it’s deadly razor-sharp teeth and shrieks: ‘Impertinent specks! You have sought to deceive a stage-four Terminoid with photonic images!’. Holding the lens, the Human Torch exclaims ‘Uh-oh! He must’ve figured it out - and switched on some sixth sense!’. ‘For that, your lives must be extinguished!’ the Termini booms, blasting the lens with energy, the lens shatters and Simon and the Human Torch are knocked backwards. ‘Good thing that lance-blast honed in on the lens - instead of us!’
‘I don’t know about you, Torch - but I got tired real fast of being target practice for this creep!’ Simon exclaims, before flying towards the Termini, and punching it in the jaw. ‘You dislodged a metal molar - but he’s got plenty of them to spare!’ the Human Torch exclaims, throwing some fire bolts he suggests that some heat, like Iron Man said worked against the second-stage Termini up in Seattle, might work. The Human Torch looks perplexed when nothing happens. ‘No go! If this version’s got a weakness, it’s not fire and / or ice, like the first two. But maybe we can dope out what is - while he tries to figure out which of these five Human Torches is the real McCoy!’
With that, four decoy Human Torches appear and fly towards the Termini, who immediately blasts at one of them. ‘Close, big fella - but no cigar!’ the Human Torch exclaims, while Wonder Man congratulates his teammate on a good stall. One of the Quinjets pulls up alongside them, and while the Wasp pilots the high-tech aircraft, USAgent and Hercules stand ready on the craft’s wings. ‘The old-timer’s got guts, but defense won’t win this war, right, Hercules?’ Walker asks. ‘I said right, Hercules?’ Johnny repeats himself when he gets no response.
Hercules’ mind is preoccupied, thinking to himself that “Terminoid” and the real Terminus are so like the false Terminus he faced in Antarctic realms. ‘How was it that I did best that one again?’ Hercules asks himself, as his mind wanders back to that adventure, recalling how he was hurled so that his fists penetrated the behemoth’s armored chin, then he slide down the metal torso, ripping it asunder. ‘And why should not such an assault prevail against yonder spawn of Terminus?’ Hercules shouts, hurling himself towards the Termini - only to be knocked back as his powerful form strikes the behemoth. ‘Whatever the reason - ‘twill not!’ Hercules exclaims, before crashing into the ground below.
‘Hercules is down - and that walking skyscraper doesn’t mean for him to get up again!’ Wonder Man exclaims. ‘Check! This calls for a diversion, while the Olympian escapes’ USAgent exclaims. ‘Better let me handle it’ Simon tells Walker. ‘I may be fighting out of my class - but I’m more in the ballpark than you are!’ Simon exclaims. ‘That must be why they call you “Wonder Man” - I wonder where in blazes you get off - thinking you can tell USAgent what to do?’ Walker declares as he leaps from the Quinjet wing and onto the head of the Termini. This surprises the Human Torch: ‘Wha -? That ersatz Captain America landed right on the Termini’s back!’. Wonder Man replies that he learned some time ago that the USAgent may be something of a blowhard, but he is a brave blowhard.
‘And meanwhile, good ol’ Jan gets to drive the getaway car’ the Wasp thinks to herself, knowing that diversionary tactics are usually her shtick, and with the help of the automatic pilot, it will be again. ‘After all, when you’re up against something the size of the Terminus clan, the difference between a six foot man and a 5’ 4” woman is pretty academic - and being Wasp size, complete with wings might be a downright advantage’ Janet exclaims as she flies from the Quinjet, towards the Termini, where she sees an opening between his metallic “eye” and its socket.
Jan flies inside, only to discover that the Termini seems to be hollow, but seething with some kind of energy. She is unsure of what kind of energy it might be, but knows she will not be able to do any damage in there, so flies back out of the behemoth, where USAgent is currently clinging for his life, thinking to himself that he bit off more than he can chew, this time. ‘All I can do is annoy this guy but clinging to a soft spot he can’t reach’ Johnny tells himself, before realizing that there is nothing much left to cling to - and he suddenly falls to certain doom!
‘You know. I was thinking - maybe they call me Wonder Man because I wonder why a hotshot like you needs to be rescued!’ Simon exclaims as he flies down and grabs Johnny’s hand. ‘I’ve got a perfect comeback for that crack, Williams…’ Johnny replies. ‘Which is?’ Simon asks. ‘I’ll let you know - soon as I get a hundred feet closer to the ground’ USAgent tells him.
The Termini exclaims that it has wasted enough time being led astray by these insignificant human mites. ‘He led me inland - while my parent was lured seaward - but I shall swiftly reach him - and then - and then!’ it shouts.
At that moment, the Terminus discovers also that he has been tricked. ‘By the dead race that created me!’ he exclaims, while Iron Man and the Machine Man fly towards him, alongside the other Quinjet. Hawkeye tells Hank that he thinks they have got about as much mileage out of his “it’s all done with mirrors” trick as they could expect. ‘You and me both, Hawkeye’ Pym replies, telling his friend that they should hop the Monterey Peninsula survives its latest tourist invasion, when suddenly, Quicksilver speeds from the Quinjet down to the ground. Pietro radios back to Pym, pointing out that the Quinjet can take more effective evasive action if its load is lightened.
‘Small loss, Doc! Pietro’s okay if you need somebody to play messenger boy - but as a scrapper, he’s dead weight!’ Hawkeye tells Pym, when suddenly, Terminus blasts the Quinjet with a bolt of energy. ‘Can the evaluations, Archer! We’re hit!’ Hank shouts. ‘We lose more Quinjets this way’ Hank mutters, before both men emerge from the flailing Quinjet on a sky-cycle. ‘Yeah, small wonder Tony Stark went busy a time or two, playing our sugar-daddy’ Hawkeye replies, adding that you cannot exactly replace a Quinjet by buying one off the racks. ‘Hey, speaking of Stark, do you think there’s really somebody else under this new Iron Man’s tin-can trousseau?’ Clint asks.
‘Later, Hawk!’ Hank exclaims, motioning to where some cars are driving into Big Sur. ‘Terminus is liable to step right on them - without so much as seeing them!’ Hank exclaims. ‘Then let’s give him something he can see - one of my patent-pending rocket arrows!’ Hawkeye exclaims as he shoots an arrow towards the Terminus, where it strikes him in the shoulder. ‘Uh - guess it’d take more than a two-pound payload to do him any real damage, huh?’ Hawkeye remarks. Hank tells Clint that he isn’t sure two tonws would have done any, before urging him to veer away from Terminus: ‘Don’t give him a chance to aim his - lance!’ Hank exclaims.
But too late, as Terminus strikes Hank and Clint down. Their sky-cycle crashes to the ground, and the heroes land nearby. Clint asks Hank if he is okay. ‘I don’t feel so -’ Clint begins, before asking Hank what he is looking at - ‘Believe me, Bowman - you do not want to know!’ Quicksilver as he speeds along and grabs both men - before Terminus stands on them! ‘Perhaps I have a few more uses than you have imagined’ Pietro remarks smugly. ‘Okay, you win. I just hope money-bags Stark feels like playing Mr Deep-Pockets for a recent returnee from the Great Lakes Avengers’ Clint mutters.
Hank tells Clint that what counts is that Terminus didn’t crush those motorists. ‘But we’re out of the ball game now. Our only hope now is Iron Man and Machine Man!’. Up in the sky, Iron Man and Machine Man fly towards Terminus who booms ‘A planet whose fate hangs by such frail strands is a planet already doomed!’. Iron Man tells Machine Man that Terminus has a point. ‘My repulsor rays are doing him as much harm as a water pistol!’. Machine Man replies that if Iron Man’s repulsor rays will not stop Terminus, then nothing in his arsenal will. ‘But - do you realize that Terminus words are the closest we have come to knowing either alien’s motives?’ Machine Man asks.
‘If it’s a joint statement you’re looking for - this might be your chance!’ Iron Man exclaims as the Termini approaches them, brushing off the Human Torch’s fireballs like mist. ‘Terminus! Ignore these maggots! I, who once was many, have become the foe who matters!’ Termini booms. ‘True! But our only battle - our ultimate confrontation - is with each other!’ Terminus exclaims, before the behemoths once more engage in battle.
‘This is what I was afraid of - what I was trying to prevent - those two monsters are going at it hammer and tong!’ Dr Pym exclaims. ‘So what’s the problem? Let ‘em waste each other!’ USAgent declares. ‘Don’t you understand? If Terminus journeyed all the way back to Earth to fight his offspring - there’s got to be a reason!’ Hank exclaims. ‘And whatever it is - I’m betting we’re not going to like it’ the Wasp remarks.
Wonder Man sees that the behemoths’ struggle is shaking the ground, causing a nearby mission to collapse and endanger all the people there. ‘Come on! We’ve got to go!’ But the Human Torch tells Wonder Man that there is more at stake here than a few human lives. ‘We’ve got to stay - look for an opening!’ he declares.
Terminus declares that the energy expenditure of the both of them is now at its peak. ‘You have inherited my programming - and thus you know what that means!’ Terminus exclaims. ‘YES!’ Termini declares. ‘Lord, I wish we did - but all we get to do is dodge the Termini’s lance and - huh? Terminus hurled his own lance after junior’s! But why? I thought they were the source of much of their power?’ Wonder Man asks as he and the other Avengers dodge the weapons. ‘They are, Simon. I don’t get it either!’ someone exclaims. ‘It must mean our foes feel they no longer need them!’ someone suggests.
‘Terminus doesn’t need his, that’s fore sure. He’s bout to lower the boom on his son and heir!’ Iron Man exclaims as Terminus stands over his son. ‘Correction - make that on his ex-heir! But he’s not hitting him?’ someone points out as the Termini is broken apart by Terminus’ energy. ‘Then - exactly what is Terminus doing to him?’ Iron Man wonders, unable to make out what is going on thanks to the glare. ‘He’s opening his mouth, Iron Man! Opening it wide - wider still, until - look at the Termini creature! He’s shrunk to only a fraction of his former size - and Terminus is swallowing him!’ someone declares.
‘I don’t get it!’ the Human Torch exclaims. ‘Did demon beget demon - only that the elder might devour the younger?’ Hercules asks. ‘Somehow - there must be more to it than that!’ Machine Man exclaims. ‘Hold it! Something’s happening - Terminus - he’s about to -’ USAgent exclaims as a blinding light surrounds Terminus - before there is a massive explosion, knocking the Avengers West Coast and their allies backwards.
‘Good gravy! That was the mightiest explosion I ever didn’t hear!’ the Human Torch exclaims. Hercules remarks it was like unto the conflagration when Zeus hurled his thunderbolts in the midst of Thypon’s chaos-hordes. ‘But, at least both aliens were destroyed!’ the Wasp exclaims. ‘Were they, Wasp? Then what in the blazes is that!’ USAgent exclaims. ‘Inside the maelstrom created by the blast - something lives - something huge!’ someone exclaims.
A voice booms from the maelstrom: ‘Not “something”, mortal insect - but rather, the fifth - the final - the Ultimate Terminus!’. The new, even bigger, four-armed Terminus stands in before the Avengers, before turning and walking away. ‘I - I can’t believe it!’ Wonder Man exclaims. ‘Believe, it, Simon. That Termini thing must’ve gestated inside Terminus is record time - and in bursting out, it absorbed the full mass of its parent. End result: A six-limbed titan twice as large as either one!’ Iron Man exclaims, to which USAgent declares ‘We we couldn’t stop them! How are we going to put the skids on him…?’
Meanwhile, in New York City, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America stands before the Vision, Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn and Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the She-Hulk and concludes his re-telling of what Iron Man has just told him. ‘According to him, this “stage-5 Terminus stalked off due east’. The Vision points out that they must proceed westward from New York City at once to intercept it. ‘With the sunshine supermen headed this way, we’ll catch it in between us - and squash it like a bug!’ Quasar suggests. ‘After all, forewarned is four-armed, right?’. The Vision replies that this is hardly the time for levity.
The She-Hulk reminds the Vision that Quasar’s job description is “Protector of the Universe”, so she is sure he takes this as seriously as any of them. ‘Maybe joking about it is the way to contemplate a face-off with a 300-foot metal alien without going out of your skull!’ She-Hulk declares, hands-on-hips, before asking where the Terminus-5 will be when they meet up with their Californian teammates. Cap replies that Dr Pym has done the calculations, and points to a map: ‘We should split the difference right about…here!’….
Third Story:At the aquatic environment park called Marine World, the three mutant Atlanteans - Eel, Sharskin and Undertow - collectively known as SURF - are tunnelling beneath Marine World in an attempt to free the captive sea life, returning it to the vast oceans. ‘Dig faster, Sharkskin. We’re almost in place under the park!’ Eel declares. ‘Soon we will bring our fellow sea dwellers back from the captivity which has harmed them!’ Undertow exclaims. Suddenly, one of the tanks holding some whales cracks - and SURF emerges. ‘Flee, surface dwellers! We are SURF, and we are here to liberate our brothers! We wish to harm no one!’ Undertow exclaims, telling his teammates that they must gather the whales together, and with his water control, they can get the whales back to sea.
But sitting amongst the civilians is a rather unique individual - Bonita Juarez, formerly of the Avengers West Coast. ‘So much for my day at the park. Better call in the cavalry’ Bonita tells herself, and after rushing to a payphone, she returns to the tank - as Firebird! Bonita tells herself that she has heard of SURF, and knows they are not really outlaws, as they helped get some “surface dwellers” out of a jam during the Atlantean invasion a while back. ‘I wonder what’s got them so upset?’
Meanwhile, at the Avengers West Coast Compound in Palos Verdes, Dr Hank Pym puts the phone down, and tells himself that he is sure Firebird can prevent too much trouble from happening before the team arrives, as San Diego is not too far by Quinjet. ‘Avengers Assem - ble. Oh. ‘ Hank remarks as Clint “Hawkeye” Barton and Janet van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp appear next to him. ‘No need to shout, Dr Pym. What’s the trouble?’ Clint asks. Moments later, the trio enter the Quinjet hangar, while Clint asks who is scheduled to pilot today. Hank replies that Clint can fly the Quinjet today, as he wants to go over the shrunken equipment that is in his pockets. ‘It pays to be prepared when you’re an Avenger, eh, Wasp?’ Hank remarks. ‘We should know, dear. We helped found the team!’ Jan replies.
Shortly, Clint tells Hank that it is great that he always had the foresight to make sure all the Avengers can fly the Quinjet. ‘But navigation’s another matter. We almost missed the park…except that you can’t miss Firebird’ Hawkeye adds, looking down at the park, he sees Firebird hovering over a pool where SURF are with some whales, he decides that it looks like a standoff.
Seconds later, Hank, Clint and Janet have made it down to the park, where Bonita asks them ‘What kept you?’. ‘We stopped at the mall’ Hawkeye jokes, while Hank asks his friend what the situation is. Firebird replies that she hasn’t been able to do anything but keep SURF detained, as she was afraid of harming the whales. Hank stands near the pool and remarks that at least the crowds have cleared out, and asks his teammates to distract SURF while he saves the whales. ‘I’ll have to get the whales out of this tank to save them’ Hank thinks to himself, deciding that the only way to do that is to reduce their size with his Pym Particles, and gently, so he doesn’t shock their systems. ‘Hey…isn’t a Bonita some kind of fish?’ Cling asks, while wondering ‘Who are these guys, anyway? Renegade Atlanteans? The sons of the Tidy Bowl Man?’. Hank places the two shrunken whales into a small sterile plastic beaker of water which he is thankful he was carrying among his items.
‘Hey! That stings!’ Sharkskin exclaims. ‘That’s why they call me the Wasp!’ Janet exclaims as she blasts Sharkskin. ‘Hold still, will ya? You’re worse than Reed Richards!’ Hawkeye shouts as he fires an arrow at Eel, but he easily dodges it, before boasting that he listens to no air-breather and dives into the pool. ‘Eel, is it? I’m gonna make sushi out of you!’ Hawkeye boasts. ‘Sharkskin can take all the stings you have, little one!’ Sharkskin exclaims, while Undertow sends some water into the air, telling Firebird that he will put out her flames, but Bonita dodges him with ease.
‘Hmmm. I suppose that’s all of them - no. One more’ Hank thinks to himself as he sees another whale. ‘Air-breather! What are you doing to our kindred?’ Undertow asks, before blasting Hank with some water. ‘Almost got - oops!’ Hank thinks to himself, before falling into the pool. ‘I’ll get him!’ Firebird and the Wasp exclaim in unison, before frowning at each other as they both descend to reach Hank. ‘Both Wasp and Firebird rushing to me…Firebird was interested in me at one point - even saved my life. And Wasp - Janet van Dyne - was my wife! Hope this isn’t awkward!’ Hank thinks to himself as Bonita and Jan pull him from the water. ‘Uh…thanks, ladies’ Hank tells them.
‘It may not be honorable to assault a lady from behind, but neither is imprisoning our kindred in these tanks!’ Undertow exclaims as he blasts drenches Firebird in water. ‘And now that your fire’s out…how would you all like to be held in a bubble of air in the depths of the sea?’ Sharkskin asks as he moves towards Dr Pym, the Wasp and Firebird. ‘Yee-ha! Catch of the day - fresh Atlantean in an electro-net!’ Hawkeye exclaims as his arrow fires the net, capturing Sharkskin - but Eel suddenly reaches up out of the water, and pulls Clint into the tank of water.
‘You’re all washed up, air-breather! Surrender our kindred!’ Undertow exclaims as he drenches Firebird once more. But Bonita manages to heat up enough, enabling her to steam off the water. ‘Okay, now I’ll teach you kids some manners!’ Firebird exclaims.
Underwater, Hawkeye holds his breath, thinking to himself ‘This guy’s like a bad date - all arms! I think he needs to lighten up’. Clint reaches for something on his belt, not sure if it will work, he holds the flare arrow tip up, blinding Eel, who releases Clint. Hawkeye thinks that he is in big trouble as he is running out of breath, only for the remaining whale to save him! ‘These whales are friendly!’ Clint exclaims riding on the back of the whale. ’Giddyup! Er, no. what do you say when you’re riding a whale? Nice fishie!’ Hawkeye exclaims.
Undertow blasts his water at Sharkskin, telling him that he cannot maintain his pedestal of water for much longer, so they must rally beneath the surface to plan anew the salvation of their kindred whales. ‘Perhaps a little water will help you regain your strength!’. On the platform, Hank has used his Pym Particles on the last of the whales and puts it in the beaker, telling Firebird to do her stuff. Firebird removes her hand from Hank’s shoulder, before covering the pool with fire. ‘I’ll bring them out. Perhaps then we can discover what the meaning of their attack has been!’ Bonita exclaims as the water temperature is heated just enough to make it uncomfortable.
Moments later, the three members of SURF all leap from the water, screaming, while Bonita collapses on the podium nearby: ‘Too much effort…worn out…’ she exclaims. Clint, Hank and Janet surround SURF: ‘Now that all the fish are out of the water, maybe we can settle this peacefully!’ Hank exclaims. ‘We meant no harm!’ Undertow declares. ‘You’d better just hope you haven’t harmed Bonita’ Clint warns them. ‘We only wish to stop the abuse of our kindred sea dwellers - we mean to take them home!’ Undertow exclaims.
‘Hey, Dr Pym? Got any aspirin? The strain gave me a headache’ Firebird declares, sitting up on the side of the pool. Hank smiles and tells Clint that he thinks Bonita will be fine. Hawkeye aims an arrow at SURF and declares that the whales are gentle creature. ‘You creeps could’ve hurt them!’. Undertow looks confused: ‘You have not harmed them?’ he asks, while Hank holds the beaker full of the shrunken whales. ‘Perhaps our concerns are mutual’ Undertow remarks.
Later, the whales have been returned to their true size and are swimming in the pool with SURF. The Avengers West Coast stand around the tank and Jan points out that since the whales have been restored to their size, they seem to welcome the Atlanteans. ‘I just hope the Atlanteans realize these tanks are for the whales’ protection, not harm’ Hank remarks, adding that they study the whales to better understand them, before asking where Firebird has gone. ‘She went to let the park officials know that the storm is over - and to ask for some aspirin’ Hawkeye replies.
‘If the whales are being kept for protection, why must they suffer the indignity of performing for food?’ Undertow asks, watching one of the whales leap into the air to collect some food. ‘That is an unnatural action for them. Possibly harmful’ Undertow declares. Hank, Clint and Janet all frown, before the members of SURF ride a wave created by Undertow, who tells the Avengers that they leave them to see that the whales in these tanks are cared for properly. ‘We will return to do our part at sea. Farewell!’ he declares, and the Atlanteans return in the same manner which they appeared…
…to the vast oceans where a diminishing population of whales swims free of captivity or the necessity to perform. Yet there are still many dangers…. Such as the whaling ship that approaches a pod of whales, its crew armed with harpoons, ready to kill the majestic creatures….
First Story:Dr Hank Pym, Hawkeye, Human Torch I, Iron Man, USAgent, Wasp, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)
Hercules, Quicksilver (inactive Avengers)
Captain America, Quasar, She-Hulk, Vision II (all Avengers)
Third Story:Dr Hank Pym, Hawkeye, Wasp (all Avengers West Coast)Firebird (inactive member of the Avengers West Coast)
Eel, Sharkskin, Undertow (all SURF)
This annual is part IV of the “Terminus Factor” crossover. It follows Captain America Annual #9, Iron Man Annual #11, Thor Annual #15, and concludes in Avengers Annual #19.
The other stories in this annual are:Second story: “And this is Niteline”Fourth story: “Don’t you Daaare Miss it!”Fifth story: “Honey, I shrunk the hyper-atomic anti-proton cannon!’”
First Story:Revived in Avengers West Coast #50, the original Human Torch was then deactivated in Avengers West Coast #57.
For the details of the Scarlet Witch’s dilemma see West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-46, Avengers West Coast #47-57, 60-62.
Hercules fought the false Terminus in Avengers (1st series) #257.
At this point the Avengers West are not aware Tony is once again Iron Man.
Third Story:Firebird is a largely-overlooked member of the Avengers, who first hung out with the West Coast team during their early days, forming a relatively unexplored relationship with Hank Pym. Firebird spent years in relative obscurity, appearing in back-up stories and minor Avengers appearances until the “Kang Dynasty”, where she was an integral part of the core team, and helped counsel a disturbed Thor. Outside of the Avengers, she first appeared as a member of the short-lived Rangers, and recently starred in “The Beyond!” mini series, where her relationship with Hank Pym was picked up once again. She now serves as a member of a reformed Rangers team under the Initiative banner.
SURF made their debut in New Mutants Annual #5, part of the “Atlantis Attacks” crossover. This story marks their final appearance to date.