The Avengers vol. 3 (1998) #3 Heroes Return, part 3 of 4 “Fata Morgana”

Last issue: Morgan Le Fey had reformed the world into something more to her liking, mind controlling the Avengers into her personal guard. But the Scarlet Witch, a key component in Morgan’s schemes, imprisoned in the dungeons below her castle, managed to throw a magical monkey wrench in the works. Now a small band of freed Avengers are hiding in the woods, plotting, while a resurrected Wonder Man saves Wanda.

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Our third part of this tale opens with Thor, Hawkeye, and the Wasp in combat with Vance, Quasar, and (the one, true) Captain Marvel (I know someone can tell me which of the half-dozen names Monica was using at this time, but they all suck. She went from A-list to D-list the day they stripped her of her proper title). Uh-oh, has half of Captain America’s team fallen under Morgan’s spell once more? No; it’s a training exercise overseen by Cap in order for the gang to get a better handle on one another’s abilities. Steve calls a halt to the training to critique some of the members. I love the look on Monica’s face:

She looks a little annoyed at being talked down to like a rookie. And poor Vance; he got stuck with the Prince Valiant pageboy haircut. That ‘do doesn’t even look good on women. Hawkeye says they’re playing the part of Robin Hood rather than King Arthur, so he’s wondering when they don monks’ robes and break into the castle to free the others. But Cap’s not used to sneaking around and says it’s just a matter of time before Morgan screws up. And when she does, that’s when they’ll strike. But can Cap really rely on Morgan making a bad play? She seems like such a calm and level headed bad guy…

Whelp, I guess the Deviants of Lemuria are going to have to find a new ambassador. Morgan’s more than a little upset that the Scarlet Witch has been liberated, so now all her well-laid plans are in serious jeopardy. Modred tries to talk her down but she’s having none of it, because nothing else matters as long as Wanda’s in the wind. What’s weird here is Modred calls Morgan “aunt”. I thought Modred was Morgan’s son? This is what happens when your knowledge of Arthurian lore comes solely from watching Excalibur.

Some more research uncovers that—in the Marvel Universe, at least—Morgan and Modred’s (or “Mordred”, depending on how you spell it) mother were both sisters, and different characters, and Modred Mordred slept with Morgan… his aunt. Ew. Morgan orders Moondragon to find Yeoman America and his Merry Band, figuring this must be his doing. Morgan’s image appears in the skies over the woods, threatening bad nastiness for Yeoman America and Company if the Scarlet Witch isn’t returned forthwith. This tells Cap that Morgan is “running scared” and it’s time to strike. But Hawkeye wonders: if they don’t have Wanda and Morgan doesn’t either, then where is she?

Elsewhere, we find Wanda upon the “cold, inhospitable coastline south of Tintagel sitting forlornly beside a campfire. But she’s not alone for long.

It’s Simon, and he’s got wood for Wanda. Oh wait, that’s in a later storyline. Fortunately for me, Wonder Man explains his current state. It turns out he died during the Force Works series. Anybody remember Force Works? I barely do. I do recall the team lineup was used in the animated Iron Man series. Reading the synopsis on Wikipedia, I don’t think the concept was entirely bad; certainly, it sounded cool that the Scarlet Witch was in a leadership position, although apparently only as long as Tony Stark allowed her to be, since he did pretty much whatever he wanted. Simon was disintegrated on their first mission. Damn, Dan Abnett wrote that comic? He’s been around a lot longer than I thought. Simon is reluctant to talk about existing as sentient ionic energy, which might be for the best, because Wanda’s had a long day and needs to sleep. In the morning, she figures she and Simon can come up with a plan to find the other freed Avengers. But she soon realizes she’s talking to herself, because Simon is gone.

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The next day, a group of what looks like monks has arrived at Morgan’s castle, intending to sell clothing at the market. The guard lets the monks in and it turns out to be Captain America’s team. Hawkeye murmurs that the old “monks robes” trick works every time. Cap explains the plan; find the honkin’ big sword and let Thor break Morgan’s hold on it… somehow. That’s a really bad plan. I mean, Thor’s no fool, but he’s not exactly an expert on magic. You know who is? The Scarlet Witch. Darn, if only they had someone on the team who could move at light speed through the woods to find Wanda.

Unfortunately for our heroes, it seems Morgan Le Fey has seen the same movies that Hawkeye did. Or maybe she actually saw the original Monk’s Gambit play out centuries ago. Because Cap and Company are beset by the Queen’s Vengeance.

No lie; this is actually a pretty cool and villainous perversion of the name the Avengers. Wasp takes down Quicksilver first, while Thor runs interference for her. Meanwhile, Vance and Quasar back each other up and Clint and Cap find themselves back to back, beset by former teammates. Thor then goes toe-to-toe with Hercules while Cap finds himself sword-to-sword against Dane Whitman, the Black Knight (who’s looking pretty awesome in his retro armor, by the way). It’s then that Morgan makes an appearance.

Larger than life and twice as tacky. Mordred shows up and tells Morgan they should never have involved the Avengers; they should’ve just kidnapped the Scarlet Witch. Morgan fries his nephew/lover’s brains and explains to his twitching body that there’s no point in victory if no one’s there to witness it. Cap boldly says they’ll never give up, and Morgan responds that the only way to beat her is with magic, and when she remade the world, she made sure she was the only one wielding mystic power. And then Morgan gets a face full of magic blast. She forgot that she gave one other person a magic super charge, to use her to create a bridge between mystic forces:

Yeah, I know I’m using the image twice, but Perez did such great work making Wanda look sexy and badass it’s worth a second, more complete look.

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Morgan scoffs at Wanda’s bold boasts, because she’s got centuries of experience compared to Wanda’s “half remembered lessons in some minor tricks”. Cap cheerleads, telling Wanda she’s an Avenger, and she should show Morgan what that means. Despite the positive waves, Wanda is already on the ropes. But then she feels something, and before you know it, Simon’s back.

Meanwhile, Vance is almost taken down by Moondragon, but Moondragon is taken down by D-Man. It seems that Morgan’s hold on the Avengers is starting to slip, because she has to contend with the Simon/Wanda tag team at the same time. But Simon’s starting to falter, as he’s directly in Morgan’s line of fire. Wanda tries her best to back him up, but it’s not enough. Then Quasar touches her shoulder, offering his will. Then Cap offers. Miraculously, Iron Man is back and he’s on board, as are the others. And soon…

It’s just one awesome team pic after another from George Perez, Prince of Pencilers. Morgan lashes out at the Avengers with green bolts of energy in an attempt to break up the super-powered love-in. Simon tells Wanda to give him the boost, and to pour all the energy into him regardless of the cost. Because hey, he’s been dead before and got better, right? My words, but by this point, I’m sure most heroes in the Marvel Universe and DC Universe probably figure death’s just a weird vacation at this point. But Wanda is reluctant, worrying what will happen to him. But Simon’s come a long way since that uncertain man who had first been manipulated by the likes of the Enchantress. He’s an Avenger, and he’s ready!

Morgan then lands what could be a mortal blow.

Oh that. Is. It! It doesn’t matter what John Byrne did to their relationship; The Vision is still Wanda’s man! Android. Whatever. Wanda unleashes all the power into Simon and he in turn uses it on Morgan.

There’s a horrific explosion, and the Avengers—all of them—find themselves at the ruins of Tintagel in their original state. But Vision’s still torn in half. Sersi attempts to keep what’s left of him together, but she can’t recreate his synthetic parts. Vision weakly notes there’s something in the skies above: a streak of purple energy. Wanda knows it’s Simon, but is that’s all that’s left of him?

Later, Thor, hefting the giant sword of peril, tells the others he’s going to take it back to the sea of eternal night so nobody else can use it for evil. Yeah, somebody else already found the sword; without Asgardians Asguarding it, what’s to stop somebody else stopping by to make off with it, like Dormammu or Nightmare or Mephisto or even… Doctor Druid?

Yeah, no, I’m not buying that one either. Thor flies off into the pages of his own series. Monica says she’ll head to the other quinjets and trigger their autopilots to bring them all there. Oh, so now she remembers she can move at light speed over great distances. Truth be told, as awesome as I find Monica to be, her powers really can be a bit of a handful for any writer to deal with. Hank tells Cap that Sersi’s triage finally got Vision stable, and hopefully they can fix him. This brings us to the end of the issue when the Beast asks:

Next issue: The answer to that question!

Tag: The Avengers vol. 3 (1998) Heroes Return

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