Say what you will about the 1990s, they knew how to end a giant crossover schmageggi with a bang!  Jump in and see them sow the seeds of the superhero Civil War, as your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Avengers #347 awaits!

avengers347coverAVENGERS #347
Writer: Bob Harras
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Gina Going
Letterer: Bill Oakley/Michael Higgins
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.75
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously in Fantastic Four: Part 19 Of 19 — After endless aggression by the Kree empire, the Shi’Ar (led by Majestrix Lilandra, whose long-time love interest is Professor X of the X-Men) sought out a way to bring their blue-skinned rivals down.  Capturing Rick Jones, they attempt to assemble a super-weapon using the remaining dregs of power left behind by the Kree Supreme Intelligence during the previous Kree/Skrull War.  In so doing, they also nearly destabilize Earth’s sun, bringing The Mighty Avengers into their interstellar conflict.  Stealing the Nega-Bands from the tomb of Captain Marvel, the Shi’Ar construct a massive Nega-Bomb, powered in part by Rick’s stolen mental energies.  The Avengers break into several teams in the hopes of stopping the bomb, with The Vision and Wonder Man working feverishly to disarm it, lest it devastate the entire Kree empire.

Sadly, they fail, and the Nega-Bomb detonates…


The scale of destruction is almost unthinkable, as entire planets full of Kree subjects (many of them not even aware that the conflict was taking place) find their homes ravaged and/or exploded by the blast.  The Shi’Ar fleet scans the blast-radius, and declares victory in the Kree/Shi’Ar War.


Meanwhile, protected by his Quantum force fields, the Avenger Quasar finds himself the pallbearer for an entire squad of his teammates who were tasked with protecting Hala, the Kree home world.  It’s a pretty gruesome discovery, and even though his friends survived with their bodies intact, they show no signs of life…


Here’s an important thing about reading comics: You don’t have to believe that Iron Man, Hercules and the others are actually dead for this scene to be meaningful.  Quasar believes they are, and his grief is powerful as he gathers them within a quantum field for burial.  Rendezvousing with another Avengers team, this one tasked with the Shi’Ar side of the conflict, Quasar stores the bodies for later funeral-type services.

But Starfox finds their completely inert forms to be puzzlingly familiar…


In the manner of a particular cartoon space hero, the Avengers miraculously escaped unharmed!  (It’s good to have some Eternals on your team.)  Even more amazing, Wonder Man and The Vision are extracted from the epicenter of the Nega-Bomb explosion, damaged but alive thanks to intangibility and/or energy absorption power.  This leaves only team leader Captain America, last seen on the Kree homeworld, unaccounted for.  Having been sent to Hala as the new occupational leader, Shi’Ar operative Deathbird digs him out of the rubble…


Back on Chandilar, the Shi’Ar throneworld, news of the victory makes its way back to Lilandra.  Given that her people have finally prevailed against a seemingly unstoppable enemy force, you might expect her to react in triumph, but the Majestrix is well aware of the terrible price of her “win.”


This is remarkably nuanced stuff, especially given the era in which this comic came out, the time of the claws and the neck-snapping and the glaaayven!  Kudos especially to Steve Epting, who manages to wring real emotion out of the face of a pupilless alien bird-woman that really sells her regret over ordering the attack.  Of course, Lilandra’s guilt is unwarranted, as it turns out the might Kree Supreme Intelligence implanted the idea for the weapon in her mind, and pushed the Shi’Ar to use it on his very own people!


The previous Kree incursions proved that they were an evolutionary “dead-end”, with no ability to mutate further and create an army of superhumans like the deadly Terrans.  So, in order to kickstart a little super-Kree action, he manipulated his enemies into attacked withe the energies that would force mutations, at the cost of BILLIONS of imperial lives.  Even the murderous Deathbird is appalled by such a cold-blooded gambit, which should tell you all you need to know.  Fearing the worst about their leader, The Avengers cross the void to Hala themselves, only to find a devastated ruin.  The sight is shocking, even for experienced heroes such as these…


Even the immortal Hercules is shaken by the carnage, and this is a being who has lived through countless bloody conflicts.  The team is quickly confronted by Captain At-Lass and Doctor Minerva, two Kree who exist solely to wear Captain Marvel’s old costumes have a bone to pick with The Avengers, whom they see as having sided with The Shi’Ar.  A devastated At-Lass attacks the Avengers in the hopes that they will kill him like his home, but the battle is ceased by a familiar commanding voice…


Deathbird sneers at Atlas’ grief, revealing the truth that Atlas’ own leader orchestrated the murder of his people.  He doesn’t believe, but Captain America remembers Doctor Minerva’s speechifying about strengthening the Kree, and has put two and two together…


Minerva admits the truth, and Atlas rages out of control, setting his uniform to self-destruct, immolating both himself and Minerva in the blast.  Before he dies, he begs the Avengers to live up to their name and avenge his people by executing the Supreme Intelligence…


An argument breaks out among the team, with questions of whether it’s right to kill, whether the Intelligence gave up those rights, and whether it is even a living being at all, given that he/it is a partly artificial psionic agglomeration of minds.  Iron Man ends the debate with a repulsor blast, declaring himself the only founding Avenger present (Continuity fans know that Thor is currently the human Eric Masterson, with the Son of Asgard AWOL in the death-dimension) and stating unequivocally that he is going to destroy the “soulless piece of hardware.”


It is interesting to note one thing about the squad that chooses to kill the Intelligence: Nearly all of them are compromised at this time.  Iron Man is later revealed to have been under the influence of Kang, going insane and trying to destroy the team; Sersi is infected with madness that she spreads to her main squeeze, The Black Knight; Wonder Man is under the influence of a strange power-fluctuation; The Vision is incomplete, having been disassembled and reassembled by the government; Thor is just a regular Joe and Hercules is only a couple of years out from traumatic head injury.  I don’t know if they intended to do this, but it’s nonetheless interesting to note.  As Team Murder sweeps into action, they find they Supreme Intelligence to be well defended by both mental projections and mechanical means, but make their way to his/its brain…


Faced with the reality that the Supreme Intelligence may be alive, Thor reconsiders his position.  The Black Knight, on the other hand, veteran of The Crusades and probably mind-altered by his immortal sorceress lady friend, has no such qualms…


The story takes great pains to describe the dying screams of the Kree mind-gestalt, and the Avengers flee back to their teammates.  Iron Man and Captain America have a brief, terse interaction that implies their friendship is once again heavily strained and/or over, and Lilandra arrives with her fleet.  Naming Deathbird (!!) the new ruler of Hala and the Kree empire, she agrees to cease using the stargate that would destroy Earth’s sun, thanking the Avengers for their assistance.  Captain America is somewhat less than impressed…


“…things will NEVER be the same.”  Thus were sowed the seeds of twenty-plus years of Captain America/Iron Man conflict, from the formation of Force Works to The Crossing and more.  This story had significant fallout for nearly everyone involved, but little to none of it is still relevant 25 years down the line.  What is relevant is the idea that some of these heroes chose not to kill, insisting that it was unthinkable, marking this story as clearly no longer part of today’s canon.  Avengers #347 is an interesting issue, raising moral questions rather than focusing entirely on action, and I do like the fact that this crossover uses the characters that make sense, rather than shoe-horning in everyone in the modern style, leaving no room for important bits of story and forcing you to buy six more books to have it make sense, earning a not-at-all-bad 3 out of 5 stars overall.

I do kinda miss the days when there were heroes who could make the argument against killing on a moral level…



A well-executed (you should excuse the expression) crossover climax that uses the characters well and raises tough questions, but somehow feels almost quaint today...

User Rating: 3.65 ( 2 votes)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


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