Tuesday, March 13, 2007

AVENGERS ANNUAL #19 Marvel Comics, 1990

I loves me the Terminus.
An alien ravager of worlds encased in a giant suit of armor, Terminus is a classic “big monster” bad guy who has tussled with the Avengers and The X-Men. There is no such thing as too many giant monsters in my opinion, so I’m a big fan. I’d like to see a Thunderdome-style cage match between Terminus and Red Ronin where they just hack the living bejeezus out of each other with giant chainsaws and polearms. Two giant monsters enter – one giant monster leaves! Do you hear me, Marvel? Make it happen!
Despite my affection for Terminus, I do not loves me The Terminus Factor, the four-part storyline that ran through Marvel’s Avengers annuals during the summer of 1990. The stories themselves were pedestrian and, as was often the case with annual books, the level of quality suffers in comparison to the regular monthly books. The annuals of that era were always written and drawn by somebody other than the regular creative team (in this case writer Roy Thomas and artist Herb Trimpe), which made for a jarring reading experience, and the page count was padded with lame back-up filler stories.
In a nutshell, the Terminus Factor features an ever-growing, ever-evolving Terminus monster who starts out small and fights Iron Man, gets bigger and fights Thor, then two Terminus monsters fight with the West Coast Avengers, and then a frickin’ HUGE Terminus tries to wipe out St. Louis and The Avengers. Don’t ask me to explain, I haven’t the will.
Our story begins with the combined might of the West Coast Avengers, the Great Lakes Avengers (yeesh), and the Regular Non-Sucky Avengers confronting a massive four armed Terminus who is floating above St. Louis.
Are we sure that’s St. Louis, Missouri? Looks more like Brownsville, Texas to me.


The combined Avengers Army takes the fight to the new Super Terminus, but that bastard is tough. Plus, he’s got this crazy energy lance thing that has some sort of psychedelic powers – it makes giant screaming blue heads appear over Earth’s cities. Trippy.

While the earthbound Avengers are getting their asses handed to them by Terminus, our homeboy Thor is lost in space without his magic hammer. It’s not a dignified situation for the God of Thunder, who falls victim to the gravitational pull of “yon planetoid” in a sequence that still cracks me up to this day:


Since this is a Roy Thomas script, everyone explains what is happening to them in real time. Thor has the presence of mind to describe to himself his situation right before he face plants into an asteroid. I’m going to try that next time I’m in a car accident: “That car--! Pulling out in front of me! Going faster - faster!! There’s no way to stop, no way to avoid it – looks like I’m going to --" SMASH!

Thor pulls himself together and realizes that since this planetoid has an atmosphere, he can speak – and if he can speak, that means he can SING! The guy’s got a song in his heart that he just has to let out! Actually, Thor starts chanting an ancient Norse rune spell in the planetoid’s thin atmosphere, and his magical sea shanty carries across the airless void of space to planet earth. Don’t ask – it’s Nordic magic, it doesn’t have to make sense.

The God of Thunder has such a lovely singing voice that Terminus blasts off into space, drawn into the cosmos by Thor’s siren song. It’s kind of like those cartoons where Bugs Bunny smells something cooking and follows the scent in a trance.

Once out in space, the Avengers blow up Terminus or turn him into a black hole or something and Thor gets his hammer back and everybody returns safely to Earth and it's high fives all around. The end.

Like I said, not the most gripping yarn.

Avengers Annual #19 gets points for giant monster action, Roy Thomas’s overwritten script, and Thor singing, but loses points for an uninspired plot, the Great Lakes Avengers, and twenty-odd pages of terrible back-up stories.

I was curious about Thor’s beautiful song, however, so I ran it through an online Ancient Norse/English dictionary. Turns out that Scandanavians of all eras are big fans of the super-group ABBA.
Question: What other music could lure a rampaging giant monster into space?

Answer: The Cher song Believe would have worked equally well.
"Do you beli-eeeve in life after love?"

47 comments:

Graig said...

"Since this is a Roy Thomas script, everyone explains what is happening to them in real time."

Wow, sounds like Roy Thomas also scripted Schwarzenegger's audio commentary on Total Recall...

Jer said...

"Terminus is a classic “big monster” bad guy who has tussled with the Avengers and The X-Men."

And the Fantastic Four - home of the Giant Monsters Destroying the Planet. In fact, Terminus first appeared in the John Byrne run of Fantastic Four. I always thought that story was kind of a let-down for some reason, despite having the cool visual of Terminus carving "I claim this planet" into the US before he landed.

The Terminus Factor, though, was terrible. Young Jer bought all of those annuals that year - not just the Terminus ones but all of the other ones too. If only I had a time machine and a rolled-up newspaper to go smack some sense into my younger self...

ghostman said...

Look at that picture again of Terminus straddling St. Louis like a mighty colossus, and tell me that he wasn't ripping off Stilt-Man.

What a craptacular story. It's amazing how I read Thor comics for all those years and yet somehow missed the part about him being "Thor, God of Thunder. And Singing, I guess."

Michael Hanretty said...

Maybe it's just me, but that second scan looks like it got lost on its way to an issue of Astro Boy.

Which is pretty rad.

taggart6 said...

"Are we sure that’s St. Louis, Missouri? Looks more like Brownsville, Texas to me."

Dave mentions Brownsville, TX in an entry!

The internet explodes.

(Brownsville, TX Born and raised...in the playground where I spent most of my days...)

sterg said...

I think I own this and have no recollection of this annual (thankfully, it seems), but I must ask:
Why the hate for the GLA?
I always had a soft spot for those wacky Byrne creations. Plus, the newer Slott mini and one-shot were gold, I tells ya. Gold!

David Campbell said...

Yeah, now that I think about it, Squirrel Girl was pretty cool.

For some reason I really hate the original Byrne version of the GLA. They just seem so unfunny to me.

Vincent Dacak said...

"Thou art the dancing queen..."

Man, more ABBA songs need to be covered in old English.

Anonymous said...

It is so sweet that you're updating frequently now. This has been one of my favorite sites on the web since I discovered it. Yay for you.

That said, I will murder you in your sleep for getting that stupid Cher song stuck in my head. GOD. HATE YOU...

Brad Curran said...

"Dave mentions Brownsville, TX in an entry!

The internet explodes.

(Brownsville, TX Born and raised...in the playground where I spent most of my days...)"

I live about 45 minutes away from Brwonsville. Which makes me wonder if Dave's actually been there, or if it was just the first city that's nothing like St. Louis to pop in to his head. It also makes me realize that there's a total lack of giant monster action in South Texas.

t-k-o said...

"Since this is a Roy Thomas script, everyone explains what is happening to them in real time."

This is a cool blog, and even though I have so much work to do, it would seem that I cannot stop reading it. I hope that I don't get caught reading this on the boss's dime or I might get fir...

taggart6 said...

"It also makes me realize that there's a total lack of giant monster action in South Texas."

FYI, Vanilla Ice did a concert there 4 years ago so I guess that kinda counts.

David Campbell said...

The Brownsville thing was a lame joke because in the panel of Terminus floating over St Louis, the city is colored brown.

I was really reaching for that one, huh?

philip said...

Avengers Annual #19 gets points for giant monster action, Roy Thomas’s overwritten script, and Thor singing

Dave, you make it sound like so much fun I'm almost sorry I missed it. Almost. Although a lot of current comics could use a strong dose of weird-ass crap (not weird ass-crap) to make them more fun.

Songino said...

Funny; I thought there was a river in St. Louis. A big one, even. My mistake.

Oh, and St. Louis isn't really that brown. EAST St. Louis, however, is another matter entirely.

Murray said...

My favourite Terminus moment was the Justice League smacking him down (while the Avengers did good duty against Starro). His Marvel appearances never rattled my dinner bowl.

monica said...

SQUIRREL GIRL!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Look at that picture again of Terminus straddling St. Louis like a mighty colossus, and tell me that he wasn't ripping off Stilt-Man.

Or Stilt Man and Dr Octopus had one ugly baby...

Mike Haseloff said...

Oh, man! The Terminus Factor had it all!

Not only was it all about evolving Terminus from an amaeoba to giant space-faring monster -- BUT it also featured the Great Lakes Avengers AND IRON MAN going NUTSO and fighting CAPTAIN AMERICA!!!


Aye! Tis truly a worthy X-over, indeed!

CBrown said...

I love Red Ronin, but Terminus would totally kick his ass in a cage match.

Christopher said...

Terminus looks like the Anti-Monitor to me.

Honestly, I think he'd fit in with the Justice League better then Starro would with the Avengers. Starro just seems so... simple compared to the Cosmic bastards that usually attack marvel guys.

He needs a spaceship the size of Jupiter and a giant suit of armor with all kinds of piping and circles and stuff.

No matter how omnipotent you are, you can still do better with a bunch of metal plates strapped to you.

Anonymous said...

That's the year I skipped the Marvel annuals...they looked way too stupid. The only one I bought was the New Warriors, 'cuz I love me some New Warriors.

Anybody remember when the X-Men threw down with Terminus in the Savage Land? Rogue and Havok busted the dome off of Terminus's head and it turned out Garokk the Petrified Man was inside, powering the thing? And the X-Men fought Terminus alongside a giant flying space wolf that had a starship strapped to its back?

Good times.

Stephen said...

Red Ronin! The best big red robot everyhwere...and featured in the first Avengers comic I ever read (#199).

Anonymous said...

Verily, I cannot think of something more relevant than the 1990 Avengers Annual. Dave, are you sure you're not just continuing relevent content week?

Word verification: rzhfiag, which, as we all know, was Thor's disastrously annoying yet catchy one hit wonder.

Matt T. said...

Since this is a Roy Thomas script, everyone explains what is happening to them in real time. Thor has the presence of mind to describe to himself his situation right before he face plants into an asteroid. I’m going to try that next time I’m in a car accident:

I do that now, and I just figured it was yet another sign that Elwood Dobbs had nothing on me. Helps pass the time at work. It makes me feel a lot better to know other people do the same thing, you have no idea.

Now, if I could just find another person who occasionally argued with country songs from the '60s my day would be complete.

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chad sexington said...

If only Thor could sing a song that would draw all spam posts--and the spammers who sent them--into outer space. I'd worship that motherfucker in a heartbeat.

Mike Haseloff said...

B...b... but... What am I supposed to do about the MEDIUM stacks?!

Brad Curran said...

"The Brownsville thing was a lame joke because in the panel of Terminus floating over St Louis, the city is colored brown.

I was really reaching for that one, huh?"

You were, but I'm disappointed that I somehow completely missed that. And also that you don't have an amsusing Brownsville anecdote. I'm not sure which one is bumming me out more.

kate said...

Best Onion headline ever: "Cher now vaguely audible in all parts of the country."

God I hated that song.

Matt Bird said...

Um, look at that cover. How man elbows does Thor have on his right arm? That's really, really terribly drawn. That make me want to cry.

Mike Haseloff said...

Wow, Kate. Do you also hate pie, books and America? Yeesh!
(I LIKED IT!)

Mr A. P. Salmond, esq. said...

Wow, sounds like Roy Thomas also scripted Schwarzenegger's audio commentary on Total Recall...

Or Conan the Barbarian - "I'm gedding on da horse."

As for big guys beating on each other, my personal fave was always the Silver Surfer issue (#18?) where Galactus threw down in a fistfight with the In-Betweener. The cover had one punching the other back onto a moon or such.

Sleestak said...

You forgot the backup singers.

Erich said...

I had to get in on that "Thor's Greatest Hits" action...

String Quintet in C major said...

Hahaha Dave, that's genius. Camping up an already hilarious pair of panels with Abba and Cher. Do you think that Thor chooses the curtains for his teammates' rooms, over at Avengers mansion?

And shouldn't it be "Dost thou believe in life after love?"

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