I have Issues (4)

Loki vs. The Avengers
II
(Continued from I have Issues (3)
Please scroll back to I Have Issues (3) if you have not read that one yet. 

Avengers/Defenders
War Part 2
Namor, with all of the Avengers minus Thor meet with the
Defenders minus Hulk to compare notes. A fight is about to break out but Namor
explains that he and Captain America have made a truce. So the Avengers and the
Defenders decide to team up to get to the bottom of this situation. It’s then
they realize, “oh shit!” Two of the most powerful and easily riled members of
our respective groups are not present and thus know of no truce!” (Clearly this
is another example where cell phones are a lifesaver in modern society. An easy
call to Hulk’s green cell phone tucked away in his ripped purple pants would be
like, “you know how you were going to punch Thor really hard, well just chill
out for a few while we make our way there because we have a truce.” ) The
combined members of the two Supergroups stop the fight that everyone wanted to
see and while talking to Thor they realize that he fought Loki in Rutland, Vermont
and then the Defenders realize that they just recently fought Dormammu in
Rutland, Vermont. (I’m certain that Vermont leaves out these facts in their
tourist brochures.) As they are starting to put the clues together, Asti swoops
down and takes all of the Evil Eye pieces back to his master, Dormammu. (Asti
looks like a yellow free floating mask if you’re wondering.) Dormammu now with
the Evil Eye assembled begins to use it to merge his universe with the Marvel
universe. The process of merging the universes makes everything on Earth go
wacky! Humans mutate into demons, the Cubs win a world series, everybody
understands the end of “Lost” black is white, up is down, dogs and cats are
living together, mass hysteria and madness! 
Fourteen of the most powerful beings to ever join forces are ready to
put a hurting on Dormammu and Loki. Did I also mention they are pissed? Yes the
first page has all of them looking really angry and betrayed. Namor even has
two fists up in the air, which as everyone knows when you have been in the pool
too long that’s kind of hard to do. The two teams know they must travel to the
Dark Dimension to tackle Dormammu but they can’t just leave earth defenseless.
As if an answer to their prayers, SHIELD gunships come out of the sky and start
blowing the demons away. Nick Fury tells the Avengers and Defenders that he
will be here to fight off the onslaught. Dormammu is watching the heroes enter
his dimension and Loki again reminds him that he promised to return his vision.
Dormammu replies that he now has the Evil Eye and never had any intention of
ever returning Loki’s sight. Loki cannot believe this, it’s like irony on a cosmic
scale. As the heroes make their way towards Dormammu they are encountering
creatures of all types but manage to take them all down.  Back on Earth we get a page showing the rest
of Earth’s heroes fighting the creatures and even a cool panel with Luke Cage
saying, “Sweet sister! Broadways going crazy all around me—and this was
supposed to be my day off!”(Is it just me or would a young Ron Simmons be the
perfect Luke Cage?) As Doctor Strange attempts to burst Dormammu’s magic
barrier the Defenders are retaliated against with a spell that robs them of
consciousness (Rufee spell?) Now only the Avengers are left to fight and Thor
yells out for the Avengers to assemble. And In a panel that I cannot believe
made it past the comic code authority Iron Man say’s to Scarlet Witch, “we need
to hurry, we can lick each other’s wounds in the locker room after the game!”
(Raise your hand if you think Tony was drunk?) Dormammu takes out the Avengers
with various spells and just as Dormammu is about to declare himself the King
of everything  Loki attacks him from
behind. Momentarily distracted Dormammu doesn’t defend himself against the last
Avenger still standing, Scarlet Witch who uses her probability manipulating
“Hex” power against him. Dormammu who is held together by the sins of evil or
something like that, reverts to energy and shoots into Loki’s mind causing him
to go insane but on the plus side regain his sight. (That Hex power is some
amazing shit because what are the odds that’s how this would have ended?) With
the Evil Eye back in the hands of the heroes, Earth returns back to normal and evil
is once again shown the door.
“Acts of Vengeance”
(w) Too many to name (P) Too many to name
Issues: Damn near all of them at the end of ’89, and
beginning of ‘90
Avengers:  311-313
Avengers West Coast: 53-55
This crossover is one of those that was a better concept
then execution, much like the WWF Invasion storyline.  Loki in disguise forms up what could be called
the Anti-Avengers: Doctor Doom, Red Skull, Magneto, Mandarin, Kingpin and
Wizard. Together they formulate a plan that basically goes like this; the X-Men
have beaten Juggernaut and Magneto on numerous occasions but Thor has never
encountered Juggernaut, and Spiderman has never really faced Magneto. So why
not switch partners and force the heroes to encounter villains they didn’t
already have fifty plans to beat in their back pockets? Of course nowadays
villains and heroes cross over pretty frequently and there is very little in
the way of continuity which is why Spiderman can be in three groups and still
carry his one man crusade against evil in New York and Wolverine can still be
the hardest working mutant in the Marvel universe. Back in the day, the day
being the late 80’s this was not entirely true. Spiderman villains stuck to
fighting Spiderman and Iron Mans rogues continued only bugging the bajeezus out
of exclusively him.  Most characters
would appear only in the comics they were created in.  Comics were for the most part separate
television shows with their own casts. Sure the heroes would crossover but the
villains hardly ever left the confines of their own title. At the time this was
a big deal. I thought it was complete genius and wanted to buy every issue
after I heard about it. I didn’t get into comics until about a year after this
but I would constantly scour the back issue bins of every comic store I came
across. Most of the issues just don’t live up to the hype unfortunately; still
they are kind of neat in the context of the times. 
A few of the more intriguing match ups were
Daredevil #275,276
Daredevil vs. Ultron
Doctor Strange #11 Strange
vs. Hobgoblin
The Punisher # 28-29
Punisher vs. Doctor Doom
Thor # 411,412 Thor
vs. Juggernaut
The Amazing
Spider-Man # 327 Spiderman vs. Magneto
Uncanny X-Men #
256-258 Wolverine vs. Mandarin
After throwing the heroes off with the switcheroo’s Loki
decides it’s time to destroy the Avengers once and for all. He knows he created
them all the way back in issue # 1 and now it is he who will destroy them, but
being that he’s Loki he will get others to do it for him. First he sends out
the Hulk villains the U-Foes but the Avengers defeat them.  Next he gets the Mole-Man (Fantastic Four
villain) and his underground creatures to attack the Avengers, again the
Avengers Triumph. Next the Freedom Force (X-Men villains) battle the Avengers
and again the heroes win, all of this while Loki is watching. Loki, still in
his manservant disguise decides to call a meeting of his Anti-Avengers.
As the disguised Loki enters the inner chamber he finds his evil
assembled team. Red Skull mentions that back in the day anyone making him wait
would have ended up in the camps. Every one of the other villains is appalled
at this showing that Nazi’s in the evil department are in a league of their
own. Loki must calm everyone down. They all agree to cool it until the heroes
are all lying dead at their feet. Mandarin loses patience from waiting around
for the heroes to be defeated and travels to New York to attack the fatigued Avengers.
Doctor Doom is pissed because Mandarin isn’t sticking to the plan. Red Skull
makes a shitty comment about Doom always getting evicted from his own country.
Doom backhands the crimson colored Nazi, Skull pulls a gun out and shoots Doom
into a giant monitor. The voice of reason, Kingpin admonishes the two villains
for not knowing how to effectively use the power they possess. (The Kingpin has
a point; look at all he’s done without any powers.) The Wizard joins the battle
with the Mandarin who is roasting police officers all over New York until the
Avengers arrive to stop him. Captain America, Wonder Man, Black Widow, Vision
and Hellcat answer the call for help but have their hands full with the two
villains. Mandarin is tearing some Avenger ass up until a large mystical hammer
slams him in the chest. Thor has arrived and that is some shit that Mandarin
does not want to tangle with. Leaving Wizard to fend for himself, Mandarin uses
his black out ring to blind everyone and flies away. Wizard is captured and
claims to be the one behind the whole scheme and back in Loki’s chambers all
the bad guys are at it again. They all claim to be the one responsible for this
whole plot just as Loki wished for them too and just as the argument is
ratcheting up Dr. Doom blows up revealing that he was a Doombot all along.
                                                 
Avengers West Coast #55 (1990)
(W) John Byrne (A) John Byrne
At the Avengers headquarters Thor is revealing to his fellow
Avengers teammates that Loki is behind the villains plans to switch partners
and confuse the heroes. Captain America being the tactician and leader is the
first to question if this really is the truth. Thor is positive that his evil
half brother is the one responsible. Wasp mentions that the super duo known as
Cloak and Dagger believed it to be Doctor Doom that was behind the coordinated
attacks. Vision points out that the recently captured villain, The Wizard
informed him that it was a conglomerate of villains led by him. The Wizard
meanwhile is sitting in his cell and using a false thumbnail, opens a portal to
cross from his cell to the meeting room where the villains are located. Here
the Red Skull, the Kingpin, and Mandarin are examining a robotic Doctor Doom
head that has been partially blown up. They are wondering if Doctor Doom was
ever with the group or if it was just one of his robot doubles that had gone
rogue. The Wizard is pissed at Mandarin who retreated during the attack on the
Avengers in issue # 313, once the Avengers started winning. Mandarin retorts
that he should have left when they started losing. (Damn straight, it’s not
like any of these guys isn’t used to losing at this point, retreating should be
as natural as turning on the television for regular people.) The Wizard brags
that he did escape with his cool, though a little icky under the fingernail
portal trick. Loki still in his human lackey disguise goes off on the Wizard for
doing this and the Wizard is appalled that a lackey is threatening him. It’s
then Loki reveals himself as the lackey in disguise. Loki bitchslaps the Wizard
across the room and the Kingpin uses this distraction to leave the premises.
(You don’t get to be a criminal mastermind by sticking around when an evil half
god shows up angry.) Loki has the Red Skull, Mandarin, and The Wizard paralyzed
with some kind of magic. The god of mischief can’t believe that he thought
stupid mortals could ever pull off his great plan. He’s especially mad at The
Wizard for teleporting to where they are meeting because Thor can use his
hammer to trace where he went. (Thor’s hammer is like Green Lanterns ring,
there isn’t much it can’t do.) Loki’s concern is well founded as Thor uses his
hammer to transport himself and a whole slew of Avengers for the showdown.
Avengers roll call! Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wasp, Vision,
Henry Pym, Falcon, and Mockingbird. The Avengers bum-rush Loki who with a wave
of his hands disassembles the very room they were in and reveals that they are
in the magical limbo realm known as the Isle of Silence. The Isle of Silence is
the place where Loki was exiled by Odin during Avengers #1. Loki also reveals
that he has gained control over this place as he orders subterranean creatures
and vines to attack the heroes. Calling forth magical winds, he blows the
Falcon and Wasp away and casts a magic flame to engulf Iron Man. As Captain
America is in the grip of one of the creatures he orders Thor to bring his
brother down before he kills them all. Thor charges and Loki raises a wall of
ice between them.(I love how this issue brings us full circle to the first
issue of the Avengers.) His attention divided Loki’s enchantments over the
other villains wears off and Red Skull, Mandarin, and The Wizard are all freed.
Red Skull is all like, yeah the heroes are on the ropes, let’s kick ass!
Mandarin is like, hells to the no, we got to get our asses out of here! Who’s
to say who’s right in this situation? The Wizard realizes that the dimensional
interface doorway that led to the meeting room is still intact. Wasp tells Cap
that the bad guys are getting away but Cap replies for the Avengers to stay on
point against Loki. The Super Soldier then tosses his shield and shreds the
vines that were squeezing the life out of Mockingbird. Thor shatters the ice
barrier and demands that Loki stand and fight with some kind of honor. Loki
asks, “Dost thou speak of music to one born Deaf?! There is but one lord Loki
serves, and that is Power!” Loki conjures up two giant rock hands to crush
Thor. But before the hands can reach him, Thor slams his hammer into the
ground, splitting the land under Loki’s feet and causing him to fall screaming
in the pit. Thor then grabs onto either side of the ground and closes it up,
burying his brother in the ground. Cap asks if Loki is dead to which Thor
replies that gods can’t die and that Loki is merely imprisoned under a million
tons of earth. Thor reminds them that it was Loki attacking them years ago that
forced the founding members to create the Avengers in the first place. Loki’s
plan was to form his own super group of villains to undo the Avengers but his
actions during this plan only strengthened their resolve.
So with a neat premise followed by a shaky middle this crossover
ends in a cool manner. John Byrne ties the Avengers formation to the end with
lots of nods to that first issue. I especially like that Loki did all of this
from his exiled dimension by just creating a meeting room on his island. There
currently is an Act’s of Vengeance omnibus that is really expensive. I kind of
wish they would just put the essential stories together. This crossover was
bloated as hell and had all kinds of issues that didn’t need to be involved,
but still as I hopefully illustrated in my post was a cool story if you could
wade through the mess. Yes Loki would attack the Avengers again but not to the
level of these stories at least not until The Avenger’s movie.