THE TERMINUS FACTOR: 1990 ANNUALS CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, THOR, WEST COAST AVENGERS, AVENGERS


Marvel knew it was hard to get people to pay extra for an extra big issue of a comic that didn’t tie into continuity, and that wasn’t invested with some kind of special writer or artist, so every since 1988, they’ve been making their annuals free-standing “events.”  This time, the event brings back the John Byrne creation Terminus, a giant alien who came to destroy the Celestials, who were deeply buried on Earth.  He does this through infection, but he was killed by the Avengers a few years ago.

The interesting concept, depicted above, is that in each annual, Terminus evolves bigger and bigger until he faces all the heroes, collectively, in a giant conclusion.

Each annual shows you the evolution again, with a different “you are here” picture like the one at the top of this post.

Other than the concept, though, there’s little that distinguishes this long-form story.  Terminus’ virus takes over various lifeforms, like a bear (there’s a nice little battle featuring Machine Man)…


…and even Tony Stark.  The Machine Man sub-story also brings back Madame Menace from the Machine Man solo comic, which is kind of neat.  I always thought he was a character that deserved better—he really doesn’t shine until Warren Ellis’ brilliant NextWAVE comic.

But the whole thing feels rushed and sloppy.  And the art makes the characters look stupid a lot of the time.

Notable, I guess, is that this is also the first story to feature both Machine Man and Monica Rambeau, who will be teammates in NextWAVE.

There’s also a feeble attempt at humor using the Great Lakes Avengers.  And the use of The Avengers’ B-list catchphrase…

…I wonder why they went with “Avengers Attack” instead of “Assemble”?  Certainly bringing both coasts and the Midwest together warranted an assemblage?

I also wonder how Marvel editorial made its decisions about who it was okay to kill.  The story ends when the team throws Terminus up into space where, without any life to feed on, he devolves and dies.  This is definitely a killing—and a purposeful one at that. And Terminus really wasn’t doing anything different than what Galactus always does.  Yet they wouldn’t kill Galactus, and killed Terminus without a second thought.

It’s explainable because it was Reed Richards who intervened to save Galactus, and he’s not here, but Captain America repeatedly has also shown unwillingness to kill.

Anyway, Terminus is terminated again by the end of this saga.

Creators:
Creators: Roy and Dann Thomas (scripts), Jim Valentino (Cap Annual #9), Tom Morgan (Iron Man Annual #11), Herb Trimpe (Thor Annual #15), James Fry (WCA Annual #5)
Grade: C

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