Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1985: The Eros Avenger part IV: Eternally Yours!

By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)

By 1985, Starfox' tenure on the team was slowly drawing to a close. But man, did he leave a legacy. Apart from accosting at least two teammates, keeping quiet about his seduction powers he'd also quietly turned the Vision into a power hungry dictator. And then he met the in-laws.

"I don't know about this!" 

Avengers I#247
brought the Avengers to Olympia, the hidden home of the equally elusive Eternals. Created by Jack Kirby back in 1976, these immortal beings and their evolutionary counterparts the Deviants were considered outside Marvel's regular realm of continuity for most of that decade. But by 1980, Roy Thomas had managed to work them into the tapestry of the MU through a lengthy, convoluted storyline in Thor. Most of the Eternals remained hidden, but infamous partygirl Sersi certainly wasn't one of them. Setting herself up as a New York socialite (in)famous for her parties, it only made sense Starfox would run into her.

"Starfox! You don't mean to say we've crashed this party?"

By the early 1990s, Sersi would be an Avenger as well and a mainstay for most of the Harras/Epting run on the book. For now, she was content playing party hostess in knee high boots. The Avengers soon found that Sersi's party was a little wilder than usual. A small army of Olympian troops showed up to abduct the Eternal which led to a fight during which Starfox learned his powers don't always work.

"Easy, my friends! I'm sure you don't want to hurt anyone! Do you?"

Turns out, they did. Sersi was forcibly abducted while the Avengers are caught up in the teleportation effect and wound up in Olympia as well. There, they learned why Sersi had been recalled: the Eternals planned to leave Earth in their collective state, the Uni-Mind. It was one of Kirby's more kooky ideas involving the Eternals merging together into a supremely powerful psychic energy manifestation that looked like a cross between a brain and a bran muffin. While the Avengers were learning more about the Eternals and their origins, Starfox made an important discovery when he realized parts of their history sounded very familiar.

"So, you're an Eternal too! Very interesting!"

Leave it to Roger Stern to connect the dots. Both as a writer and an editor, he's been instrumental in establishing connections between existing properties to bind them together in a sensible, organic way. Along with Mark Gruenwald he helped establish Transia and Mount Wundagore as a hotbed of supernatural shenanigans thanks to the elder god Ch'ton. He was editor of Uncanny X-Men when that book indirectly revealed Magneto was the real father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. So when he retconned that odd colony of outerspace immortals as actual Eternals it made sense too. And Stern would later explained away the rise of Tyrannus, Mole Man and all the creatures on Monster Island. All of that was the result of leftover Deviant technology, as he showed in the thoroughly enjoyable late 1990s Marvel Universe series.

So, Eros is an Eternal... Which was reason enough to invite him to join in the Uni-Mind. Always eager for new experiences, he agreed and pretty soon became one with his brothers and sisters. However, the ritual was sabotaged by Maelstrom, of all people. An Inhuman-Deviant hybrid, he hated the Eternals and desired to claim the power of the Uni-Mind for himself.

"Another few moments and the collective power of the Eternals will be mine."

Y'know, for a bit player villain that had only showed up in a late 70s issue of Marvel Team Up he wasn't doing so bad. Especially when you consider he died during that fight against the Thing. But Roger Stern decided to set Maelstrom up as a powerful villain capable of taking down the Avengers. Sure, he still had the goofy hat and yeah, he was doused in Kirby crackle, but he did manage to hold off Earth's mightiest. That is until the newly arrived Vision told the equally newly reformed Starfox to use that one special gift...

"The only advantage you have over him is through your pleasure power!"

Stunned the Vision knew about his powers, Starfox nonetheless went along with the plan. Guess that between certain death and a fighting chance, the odds of having your enemy become enamored with you is the worst of all evils. So, Eros gave it the ol' college try.

"Giving... up? Y-yes. That does sound nice. I..."

And though his pleasuring smile didn't subdue Maelstrom, it did cause him to call on his ally Deathurge to kill him off. All's well that's ends well, but things weren't thát swell for Starfox. He was wondering just how the Vision knew about his secret. The android revealed that he'd been in contact with I.S.A.A.C., the world computer that runs Eros' home on Titan. The A.I. had told Vision everything, though he promised to keep quiet about it. With the threat of Maelstrom dealt with, most of the Eternals formed the Uni-Mind again, but Eros decided to stay behind.

"But I like to stay free... independent. 
And there's still a lot of the Earth I want to see!"

And so he did, for a few issues more, no one knew about his pleasure powers. Though he didn't refrain from using them when he thought it might work. For instance, in Avengers I#249 when the team dealt with the effects of Malekith the Dark Elf opening the Casket of Ancient Winters in Thor. It led to unseasonable snow in New York and a sizeable, monstrous horde roaming the streets.

"That battle mace must be heavy!
Wouldn't you like to put it down and... have fun?"

Unfortunately, stimulating the pleasure centers of mostly mindless minions who live to kill has very little effect. Luckily, Starfox' part in defeating Malekith was relatively minor. However, by the time Avengers I#250 rolled around, everyone would find out what he could do. Maelstrom had returned from the dead, thawing out clones of his henchmen trio Gronk, Helio and Phobius. Though there was only four of them, it took the combined efforts of the Avengers and their newly established Western wing to take on Maelstrom and his minions. After they captured Helio, the reluctant flunky refused to talk. That's when Vision told Starfox to use his pleasure powers in front of all the others.

"Avengers, beware! Phobius' power has canceled the effects of minnnee!"

In the end, the Avengers realized the only way to defeat Maelstrom was by giving him what he wanted: more power. After cleverly sabotaging his absorption equipment, they poured on the power and caused the villain to grow so large he lost molecular cohesion. A pretty neat way of dealing with a planetary threat. But there were more immediate, personal concerns within the Avengers' ranks.

"It's... Starfox! He's all very charming and gallant, 
but this "pleasure power" just puts me too much 
in mind of Moondragon's mind-warping powers!"

A fair point and one that Stern would address later. But he also made a bit of a boo-boo by having Tigra swoon over Eros, acting like they never met before. They had, 10 issues earlier when Greer called the Avengers because Spider-Woman's ghost was haunting Jessica Drew. Guess he didn't leave much of an impact...

Man, was that really just ten months ago? Fans often tend to complain comics only offer the "illusion of change". But things were really moving back then. In less than a year, the Avengers went through the Secret Wars, lost She-Hulk to the FF, had Vision install himself as chairman, there was the founding of the West Coast Avengers... Sure, in retrospect nothing stuck but then again, what does in life?

Avengers I#250 ends with another coda of sorts. Back when Starfox joined the team, he wasn't too pleased that Monica Rambeau had called herself Captain Marvel, the codename used by his recently deceased best friend Mar-vell. But after watching Monica conquer the crippling fears that Phobius had subjected her to, he wanted to make amends.

"I owe you an apology, Captain!"

Leave it to Starfox to serve up a heartfelt mea culpa while clinking champagne on a mountain top with a beautiful woman. Saying sorry isn't that difficult. But it might be hard. Next time, we'll wrap up Starfox's time with Earth's mightiest when the team takes to space in part V of The Eros Avenger: Nebuh-bye-bye now

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails