Sunday, July 17, 2016

1984: The Eros Avenger part III: I.S.A.A.C. At This...

By Jef Willemsen (

Eros has settled into his new role as an Avenger trainee, gaining the trust of both the membership and allies like Spider-Man and the FF though we'll never know if he didn't make them like him. Roger Stern then decided to make the Titanian even more invaluable.  

Autumn 1983 through early to mid 1984 was somewhat of an odd period for the Avengers title. Sales were certainly strong, the stories undeniably entertaining and even Al Milgrom's middle of the road art offered an almost comforting quaintness. But the title lacked urgency and worse, a general sense of direction. Roger Stern took his time to set up a new, major storyline that would lead the team through the first Secret Wars already on the horizon as well as instigate the founding of the West Coast Avengers. And it all started with Starfox getting a vision about erm, the Vision.

"Vision, I think I may be able to help you get that data."

Rendered inert after phasing into Annihilus' null-field, the Vision had been stuck inside his lifepod for weeks. The damage to his system was so great that his self-repair algorithms had trouble getting a handle on it. That's when Starfox figured a second opinion was in order. That led to the most expensive long distance call in the mansion's history. Yes, Eros phoned home to request the aid of Titan's Integral Synaptic Anti-Anionic Computer (or I.S.A.A.C. for short.)

"Nothing to be alarmed about! 
I.S.A.A.C. is simply using an attractor beam to assemble the needed apparatus"

The world computer quickly set up a direct-link with the Vision's android mind and teleported in advanced diagnostic equipment. As a result, though his body remained paralyzed, Vision could now project a holographic construct of himself for several miles courtesy of the alien A.I. At first, everyone was overjoyed by this development. But by the end of the issue, it became clear his new status quo had somewhat changed the Vision...

"Wasp, has the Vision ever had... ego problems?"

Turns out his connection to I.S.A.A.C. was influencing Vision in more ways than one. But Starfox and the others didn't have too much time to contemplate the implications. They received a call from Avengers reservist Tigra who needed help in San Francisco dealing with a ghost... Or, more to the point, the ghost of Spider-Woman thatwas haunting a comatose Jessica Drew of all people. Reason enough for Starfox and the others to head west and resolve that dangler from the first Spider-Woman solo series.

And even though he only played a minor part in the story, Eros still got to show much he loves the ladies.

"Uh, I'll just leave you two to get better acquainted."

In a delightful two issue romp, Stern had the Avengers plus guest stars Dr. Strange, Hank Pym, the Shroud and Tigra fight Spider-Woman's old enemy Morgan Le Fay for the life of Jessica Drew. Needless to say, the heroes won the day but it was great to see that by now Roger Stern had turned the Avengers title into Marvel's main stage. These heroes weren't like the FF, the Defenders or the X-Men, who were mostly off in their little corner doing their own thing. No, the Avengers were the hub of all the hubbub.

Stern pulled this off by crafting storylines that flowed organically and embraced continuity. The past was seen as something to build and expand on, not a burden best left ignored. Long before the first Avengers movie turned the team into Marvel's superstars, their diverse membership meant they were the cornerstone of the MU even if they weren't literally Earth's mightiest heroes. 

But getting back to Starfox... Avengers I#242 opens with the team flying home from Frisco and that leaves Eros plenty of time to be frisky. 

"You know, you two were really quite magnificent in our battle with Morgan Le Fey!"

Will you look at that. Their facial expressions and body language alone tell you everything you need to know. Starfox is once again brazenly invading his teammates' personal space, carelessly canoodling away. She-Hulk's just fine with all of Eros' PDA, but look how uncomfortable Wanda is. She-Hulk even notices it, thinking to herself Starfox won't get very far with the Witch because her mind is on Vision back home. 

Once they got back to the mansion, surprise followed surprise. They learned Hawkeye was now married to the vigilante Mockingbird. Then Thor returned after a lengthy absence only for Vision to stun everyone by revealing he's back in his body ánd that learned of a mysterious energy source that could well be a planetary threat. By the end of the issue, I.S.A.A.C.'s advanced sensors pick up a reading in the heart of Central Park where a massive construct had appeared in the Sheep Meadow.

"The question remains... Where have the Avengers been taken. And by whom?"

It's probably no big spoiler that this is how Secret Wars started. All the active Avengers were whisked away, conveniently leaving Avenger in training Starfox behind, as well as reservists Vision and the Scarlet Witch, along with the visiting Mockingbird. Y'know, if the Beyonder was so up to speed about the nuances of the Avengers roster, you'd think he could have figured out some other basics like eating and using the bathroom by the time Secret Wars II rolled around. 

At any rate, the heroes' adventures on Battleworld lasted about a week in Marvel time. Once the disappearance of most of Earth's heroes made the remaining (super) criminals cocky, the Avengers were left to pick up the slack. Vision named himself temporary chairman and granted Eros full membership. Here he is in a scene from Avengers I#243, taking on some bank robbers by using the same mind control powers he still hadn't told the team about.

"You feel much better now, don't you?"

There's nothing wrong with him deciding to use his powers, it's actually the best possible way to deal with a hostage situation. But he really should have been more upfront about them. At any rate, the Avengers return home after a week, a small party is thrown in their honor and a very tired Wasp officially put Vision in charge.  

"Merit had a little something to do with it, old boy!"

Barely allowing the team to catch their collective breath, Vision introduced a few changes to the roster and the Avengers in general. Nothing would be the same anymore after the Secret Wars, not in the least because She-Hulk had joined the Fantastic Four to fill in for the Thing while Thor was too wrapped up in his own adventures to give the team his full attention. Hawkeye and Mockingbird both wanted to join, but the team's charter limited the number of active members to six. That's when Vision got creative...

"I also believe that it's in the best interest of the Avengers to expand...
Which I propose we do by setting up an affiliated team on the West Coast!"

And that's that... After appointing Hawkeye and Mockingbird to go west and set up this new team, the Vision brought up the next big threat: the Dire Wraiths. These imposing sounding alien bodystealers had been a staple in the Rom series since it debuted in 1979. The Galadorian had been fighting the Wraiths for roughly five years before they became a problem for the entire Marvel Universe. The X-Men dealt with Wraiths when they tried to kill the mutant inventor Forge for coming up with a Neutralizer like Rom's. The Avengers were brought in to deal with the Wraiths' efforts to disrupt the American space program by causing freak accidents.

A threat to be sure, but Eros still saw ways to have a good time. Even as the Avengers were covertly approaching Cape Canaveral by boat. Here's Eros stripping down to work on his tan, even inviting the other female members to undress as well.

"Won't you join us?"

... That guy! Look at him happily cuddled up next to Captain Marvel who clearly isn't interested in having him or his muscular arm anywhere close to her. Luckily, the space shuttle exploded, giving them a reason to spring to action and for Eros to put his clothes back on. Over the next two issues, the Avengers discover that the Wraiths were indeed using the space center as a staging ground. Vision, clearly not in his right mind, became closer to Starfox who didn't even notice the changes.

"You have a talent, my friend, for making the deadliest of situations sound appealing!"

Yeah, wonder what talent that is... Next time, Starfox's big secret finally comes out as he learns his true origins in part IV of The Eros Avenger: Eternally Yours!

1 comment:

  1. Starfox would be so politically incorrect nowadays! :p



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