Thunderbolts: Avengers Forever

Detail from Avengers Forever 2

"Avengers Forever" (1998/12/01)
"Destiny Made Manifest" Avengers Forever 1 (December 1998)
"Now is the Time for All Good Men..." Avengers Forever 2 (January 1999)
"The City at the Heart of Forever" Avengers Forever 3 (February 1999)
"Running Out of Time!" Avengers Forever 4 (March 1999)
"Past Imperfect...Future Tense!" Avengers Forever 5 (April 1999)
"In the Meantime...In Between Times..." Avengers Forever 6 (May 1999)
"Into a Limbo...Large and Broad" Avengers Forever 7 (June 1999)
"The Secret History of the Avengers" Avengers Forever 8 (July 1999)
"Break: Reflections of the Conqueror" Avengers Forever 9 (August 1999)
"Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow..." Avengers Forever 10 (October 1999)
"The Destiny War!" Avengers Forever 11 (November 1999)
"Avengers Assemble!" Avengers Forever 12 (February 2000)

Reader Rating: Above Average; Thunderbolts Interest: Medium

Summary: Rick Jones’ ability to draw on the "Destiny Force" makes him the macguffin in a time-spanning struggle between Kang, Immortus and the Time Keepers. A team of Avengers is formed, consisting of past incarnations of Captain America, Hawkeye and Henry Pym (as Yellowjacket); future incarnations of Captain Marvel (Genis) and Songbird; and the current-day Wasp and Henry Pym (as Giant-Man). The Avengers try to defend Rick while they untangle theirs and Kang’s convoluted histories.

In the finale, the future Genis saves Rick's life by merging life forces but, returning to the present, it is the current-time Genis who finds himself merged.

The current day segment includes cameos from Firestar, Iron Man, Justice, and Scarlet Witch. Time travel scenarios feature Tempus; Mourning Prey; Hawkeye's gunslinging pals from the 1873 (Kid Colt, Night Rider, Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid, Two-Gun Kid); the 1950's Avengers (Gorilla-Man, Human Robot, Marvel Boy, 3-D Man, Venus); a potential future Avengers (the Black Panther, the Crimson Dynamo, Jocasta, Killraven,Thundra). MACH-1 appears in a one-panel fantasy sequence, and someone identified in the notes as "Moonstone" appears, although she does not look much like Karla.

Continuity: Hawkeye is drawn from 1972; specifically, from within the flashback sequence within "Whatever Gods There Be!" (1972/04/01) that takes place just after "The Kree-Skrull War" (1971/06/01). Songbird is drawn from "the early 21st century," where she is an Avenger (!) and a friend of the Wasp.

Genis intersects with the story at two points: The Captain Marvel of a potential future (a few years after Songbird's) is an Avenger and, he explains, "with" Melissa. He merges his life force with Rick's, a fact that an uphappy present-day Genis discovers in the epilogue.

Liner notes claim that "the villainous Goliath" appears in the cluttered final installment, but I have not been able to spot him.

Comments: This long, long story has slick production values and a once-in-a-lifetime combination of Avengers. After a kick-ass beginning the tale derails itself with issue-long revisionist histories of the Avengers and Kang. The finale is slow in coming and, as the stakes escalate and more and more Avengers are drawn into the battle, the heroes become irrelevant in what is ultimately a shoot-out between Kang and the Time Keepers. As always, you’ve got to give Busiek credit for nerve: there is no hint that this is a "potential" future; the series promises that Songbird will become an Avenger.

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This page was revised on April 22, 2001

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