Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Avengers #95. The Kree/Skrull War Part 7. Neal Adams, the Inhumans & the Great Refuge.

Avengers #95, Neal Adams, the Kree/Skrull War featuring Maximus the Mad, Black Bolt and the Inhumans, the Great Refuge
As the Avengers' Kree/Skrull War takes yet another turn, we come to the only episode of the saga that I've ever actually owned in its original form. Appropriately it was a copy with water damage, suffering from both a rippling of pages and rusty staples.

I suppose that was only to be expected considering it co-stars the aquatic Inhuman Triton who's apparently swum all the way to New York, looking to enlist the Fantastic Four in a quest to overthrow Maximus the Mad.

You've guessed it, Maximus has - yet again - seized control of the Great Refuge. Has there ever been a week in which Maximus hasn't seized control of the place? Why don't they just designate Tuesday as, "Maximus Takes Control," Day and have done with it? You do begin to wonder when it's going to occur to the other Inhumans to try and put him in prison sometime instead of just letting him do whatever he wants.

By the sort of coincidence that happens only in comics, when Triton emerges from a randomly chosen manhole, it just happens to be in the back garden of the Avengers who're still fighting the Mandroids from last issue. Leaving aside what an amazing coincidence it is, it doesn't say a lot for the Avengers' security that anyone can gain access to their grounds just by climbing out of a manhole.

The Mandroids disposed of, the Avengers set off for the Great Refuge - that mysterious land that can never decide whether it's in the Himalayas or the Andes - where they make short work of Maximus but fail to stop a Kree soldier from kidnapping Rick Jones. This turn of events leads to the Avengers finishing the issue by standing on top of a mountain and making threats at the sky. I suspect from this that Maximus may not be the only one in this tale who's going a little loopy.

In fact, the most interesting thing about this issue doesn't involve the Avengers at all. It involves Black Bolt as, via a nicely handled flashback, we learn just how Maximus first went mad thanks to Black Bolt having once used his voice to bring down a Kree ship whose crew'd just struck a deal for control of the Earth with a youthful Maximus. Just to make matters worse, in the process of crashing, the ship landed on and killed the boys' parents. I would say it's a rare insight into the mind of Black Bolt but, come to think of it, it's the only insight into the mind of Black Bolt I can ever remember seeing. Herein may be the explanation as to why the Inhumans' Bronze Age adventures never caught on.

On other matters, the Mandroids, who were  built-up last issue as being virtually unstoppable, are surprisingly ineffectual in practice as, thanks to his knowledge as Tony Stark, Iron Man seems to have a million and one ways to take them out any time he wants, making them little more than whipping boys.

To a large degree it's not a story that really advances the overall story in any way, shape or form. You could cut the entire chapter out of the saga and it wouldn't make any difference at all. You suspect that's because this isn't an Avengers tale, it's an Inhumans story. I've never read the Neal Adams Inhumans tales but I'm assuming this issue was designed to tie up loose ends from those and it does it neatly, with Adams producing some of his best and most expressive art of the run.

The one exception to the claim that nothing that happens has any relevance to the rest of the saga is of course the abduction of Rick Jones. But the loss of the Boy Blunder couldn't possibly lead to anything.

Could it?

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