It’s officially 1990 in the world of this blog’s run through the Avengers and Fantastic Four.  The creative climate at Marvel is as low as the morale.  The comics are suffering.  Many seem to be amateurishly drawn and written by hacks.  Steve Englehart just disowned almost a year’s worth of scripts by using a pseudonym.

Enter: Acts of Vengeance, the first company-wide crossover of the 1990s.

The idea was fairly simple: A bunch of bad guys all team up and switch enemies.  And it wasn’t terrible.  But it could have been so, so sweet.

Hit more for more.

THOR #410

I’m not going to cover every single issue–there were over 60 comics with the “Acts” banner on the cover, and many of them had little to nothing to do with the series.  But it really started in Thor #410.

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Doom and a shadow-y stranger decide to team up.  It should be obvious immediately to everyone who the stranger is, but I won’t spoil it for you.  Even though it really doesn’t matter because most of this Event is just a series of battles.  The identity of the villain never has any bearing on the story, and the “big” bad guys mostly just preen and argue (Kingpin, Doom, Magneto, Red Skull) while minor baddies are broken out of prison and run around all the Marvel comics causing mischief and pretty much getting beat down quickly, easily and handily.

It’s kind of a non-event in that regard.

Avengers Spotlight #26.

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The prison break happens in Avengers Spotlight #26.

PUNISHER

Punisher has one of the best stories in this event.  In Punisher #28 and 29, he takes on Dr. Doom.  But Chuck Dixon does a great job at the dialog between Kingpin and Doom, who are trading enemies…

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He also does a great job at the endgame: We learn that it wasn’t Doom after all, but Kristof–the boy who thinks he is Dr. Doom, but really isn’t–and we see Doom’s love of art as his downfall.  These are both recurring themes from Fantastic Four.

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The worst part of events is that, usually, you have writers writing about new characters and they don’t really stay true to them.  But here, Dixon does a great, great job.

The only odd thing: Punisher also appears in the Moon Knight cross-over issue, and his War Journal title has two “Acts” issues.  I’m not usually a slave to continuity, but how can he possibly be in three different storylines during the same event?  (Similar point for Wolverine, but his relevance to this event is tangential at best.)

CAPTAIN AMERICA #365-367

The last title I’ll look at in this post is Cap.  The event occurred during Mark Gruenwald’s great (and long) run with the character, and the Acts story is actually one of the creepier books I’ve ever read.

Here, Red Skull debates opening the door to join the evil cabal.

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Great art, eh?

But it’s the conclusion that’s the freaky part.

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I don’t know how he got free of that cellar, because it doesn’t appear in the reprints of this event, but man–that’s cold blooded.

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