Howdy once again, true believers. It's time to have your beliefs shattered in an orgy of poorly plotted hijinks. Catching up real quick, Iron Man has committed multiple homicide for no discernible reason, wasp is bankrupt, and war machine resembles a dollar store version of Spawn. After taking far too long to get everything in swing, this event's primed to do some real damage. And boy does it ever. From character assassination, disappearances, and more lose ends than you can count. Let's get on with it.
Iron Man #322
Turns out Tony Stark still has a case of the Mondays. And what better place for a sad guy than his parents headstone? While paying his respect a pretty blonde girl emerges from outta nowhere. Yes this is the same lady who appeared to Tony during a previous blackout, the one that also gave Hercules a message he still can't remember because....reasons. After mistaking her for his mother, the girl replies “I'm not who you prayed for, but I am who you need.” Call me crazy but if some fine bit of lady shows up and says I need her, I'm inclined to agree. Old Tony though just has another blackout.
|Well hello, mysterious graveyard stranger.|
We get a brief aside to War Machine, Hawkeye, and Agent hiding out in an olde hanger, slamming back tall boys. Totally the thing to do when running from murder charges.
Tony comes back to reality to find himself in the apartment of Bethany Cabe (the redhead in blue tights from last time). Problem is she's nowhere to be found and her place shows signs of a struggle. Worried that he may have done something horrible in his blank state, Tony calls out her name in true soap opera fashion and begins to search for her.
I'm gonna give you all a big spoiler here. There is no answer to this mystery in the entirety of this event. The writers simple removed Bethany from the situation without having an answer for what the hell happened to her. I've gone ahead and started reading the Iron Man and Avengers issues after this mess and she shows back up with zero mention of this incident. With the Onslaught event coming hot on the heels of this mess she eventually got lost in the shuffle and ended up in comic book limbo. Apparently she was a pretty major player in this book for years and one of the big loves of Tony's life and with just a few bits of awful writing she got misplaced and forgotten for years. Like I said earlier, this comic is starting to do some damage now.
Over at his arctic base, the crazy psychic ex-girlfriend and madam masque are supposed to hang out and wait for him while Machinesmith keeps em company. As luck would have it; Stark had a mini-skirt and moonboots just waiting around for his former flame.
Iron Man returns to Avengers Mansion thinking that it's his only lead to Beth's whereabouts. That lil evil blue guy (Neut) emerges from the magic basement door and a fight breaks out during which Stark utters a fantastically lame attempt at a catch phrase!
|More catchy than "Captain America, in your pants!"|
Tony barely survives the encounter....aw hell, more spoilers. It's revealed within the next few issues that Neut and Tony are working for the same villains so there is in fact zero reason for this fight to take place. I swear the writers must have had a small list of necessary outcomes for the storyline but no guideposts for how to get there cause it seems like they had no idea what the fuck they were doing.
After the tussle, Tony visits Janet's place which the Avengers are using as a temporary base. Upon his arrival, she reveals that he's the one who bankrupted her. He has no clue what she's talking about but it doesn't take him ling to stagger off like a sad puppy. Once again; there is no reason for this additional piece of story. There is never a reason given for why he would bankrupt his old friend. It benefits the villains in no way but that's it. She's broke, he's responsible. My god this issue is terrible ain't it? Well it's over on the next page when Hawkeye gives Black Widow a secret call for her to come out and meet in the desert.
This issue begins with Tony, Hank and the Vision supervising a lock down of the Mansion. There's a bit where they find some piece of equipment that Tony pockets since it's damning evidence. As far as I recall, nothing comes of this. Getting used to that line yet?
Over at the country house, Swordsman decides to check up on his previous dream and finds the sylvan glen where he now encounters a plant person that looks like his predecessor. I guess there is some legitimate link to past continuity here and guess what? This book takes no time to explain any of it. This Cotati creature gives some of the usual vague dialogue that makes this book such a joy before some time travelers ambush the joint. Two of them are new villains who I'd love to show off except my dear camera refused to focus on their awfulness. With them is that recurring blonde girl. This time in a vajayjay centric new outfit.
|Behold a time traveling crotch.|
Back at The Wasp's joint some of the other Avengers are having another Bakini day when Crystal and Quicksilver finally figure out that there daughter may have witnessed something during the murders (Ya think?) and it only took them half the event to figure out.
Elsewhere Tony Stark has himself another black-out session followed by a good cry. Won't you be happy when he finally stops doing that?
Back in the forest, Vision helps Swordsman and the plant dude. Tuc (the fortune telling forest boy) also wants to help out but a mystery hand stops him and offers vague words of wisdom to stop him. I only mention this cause I'm fairly sure this mystery person is never mentioned again (slaps head in disbelief). Anywho; the boys are beaten and plant dude is taken to a tacky alternate realm where one of the masterminds of this whole endeavor is revealed as former Avenger, Mantis.
What's that you say? Who's Mantis? I guess she's some kinda specially bred kung-fu girl who's destined to give birth to space Jesus. In truth she comes across as a character that writers turn into whatever they need at the moment. In this case, a traitorous wench. And the plant guy/swordsman is her ex-husband so she's got a beef with him. Such was the damage dealt to Mantis by this story that another writer decided years later that this wasn't actually her but some kind of shadow person who thought they were her. Confused? Bad writing will do that to ya.
|You can tell she's evil because she doesn't believe in bras.|
Force Works #18
Stranded in the mystery land known as Vietnam (if you recall it vanished from the map and peoples memories) the core Force Works members work their way through the jungle in search of answers. As you might expect, bad guys are watching (and posturing) in the trees.
Back at base Amanda Chaney (the teams manager/publicist) and Cybermancer argue since there's nothing else to do. Spider-Woman's daughter, Rachel pipes in that she knows where and what Vietnam is. She even remarks “Course no one ever asks me anything!” I love this girl! Put her in charge. She's more clued in than any of the adults. Once in her room she finds that any mention of Vietnam has been wiped from her books causing her to make a plea for Amanda to realize all the weird stuff that's been going on lately. Moving objects, missing countries, oh and that new guy on the team. Amanda tries to calm her down before finally noticing that she has no real memories of Moonraker. Seriously, put the kid in charge!
In Vietnam, the gang locates the temple of Agaphaur which cause Moonraker to have another episode and babble about his name not really being Slade. Everyone shares in some dramatics before we cut back to base where Amanda discovers a secret sub-basement to Force Works HQ. Yep.....another basement. Oh and this one has technology from a company that Tony Stark forms in the future. 2009 to be exact.
Remember that Vietnamese kid, Kim? No? I don't blame you. Well he's a captive of the group that attacks the team at the temple. Oh and he turns into an adult bug man for shits and giggles. In the midst of fighting, Moonraker recovers both his sanity and memory. He declares himself to be Gustav Brandt whom priests disguised and slipped past the villains as a warning that both time and the world are coming to an end. Well duh.
|Stand back while I explain the plot!|
War Machine #21
Black Widow is hanging out with Agent, Hawkeye, and War Machine in the old desert bunker. Not a whole lot is going on though we do got some stuff that resembles character development for once. There's also a small bit about morning coffee that I Mention simply because eating & drinking is all these people seem to be good at. Then this big blonde boob named Deathhunt 9000 shows up, presumably under Stark's command.
|Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the 90's?|
Commence an almost issue long fight scene that does little to progress the story other than showing off more of War Machine's fancy new suit. Oh there's also this bizarre piece of art where Black Widow's boob dodges a laser blast.
|What is going on here?|
The fight ends without much meaning since these bad guys don't show up again (continues slapping head) and Hawkeye tears off with the plane to get even with Stark.
In the subplot portion, one of Jame's lady friends gets real old real quick. Don't worry. I'm sure it'll all work out just fine.
Iron Man #323
This issue gets in gear as Hawkeye attacks Iron Man while standing atop the jet he stole. How exactly he pulls this off is a mystery to me but the results are delightful. Their fight doesn't last long before Tony makes a peace offering as he believes that neither of them are guilty and the entire team is getting screwed over. Both of them return to Janet's place to see if they can work out what's going on. Ya know what that means, cool drinks! Doesn't anyone fight crime around here?
|The world is in danger! I need a refreshing tonic!|
Over in subplot town, Madam Masque and the Marianne (actually remembered her name for once) are hanging out in the bunker kitchen with Machinesmith. Over the course of several scenes, Masque reveals herself to be Bethany Cabe. Really? No, not really. She switches places with the ex, takes out Machinesmith, then wonders off into the arctic wild without any pants. Solid plan.
The Avengers decide to use Hank Pym's memory scanning device (doesn't everybody have one of those?) to look at Tony's Memories only to find zero evidence of the murders. After some discussion, they try it out on Luna and at finally catch up with the audience. The ensuing conversation goes something like this
Avengers: “Tony, how could you?
Iron Man: “I'm about to choke a bitch.”
Over in that ugly sub-dimension where Mantis does whatever it is evil chicks do, her husband, the actual villain of the piece finally makes himself known. It's Kang the conqueror, a character with such a messed up story that I don't even dare to try and figure it out. I know he does lots of time travel stuff to the point that he even comes into conflict with past and future versions of himself. Dude's kind of a mess. Yet again my camera was resistant to snap a pic of the baddie but I actually pulled one off so yall can bare witness to this big purple turd.
|You can tell he's evil because he's top-heavy.|
Most of this issue is the fight between Stark and the Avengers. Each of them takes turns asking him to talk/hug it out only to be met with a repulsor ray to the face or get punched though a wall. Tony takes a cheap shot at Hercules (who mind you is currently mortal) only to have Janet pull a classic secret service dive in front of her buddy.
Giant man is understandably upset and nearly crushes Tony like a bug. Wouldn't that have been a nice quick ending to this farce? Tony is retrieved by the villains through a time portal. Hank rushes his former wife to the basement where he recreates the experiment that granted her wasp powers in an attempt to save her life. This results in her being cocooned. Meanwhile, Tuc the fairy lad shows up and kidnaps Luna for her own protection which gives me an excuse for this installments obligatory ass shot.
|If it's the crossing, there's gotta be ass.|
Finally; a jet crashes into the backyard. Madam Masque calmly steps out of the burning wreckage to inform the Avengers that Tony Stark must be stopped. It's a little late for that honey.
Come back for part 4 when I answer the burning question, “does any of this ever make sense?” No....never.