John Byrne ends his run the same way he ended on Fantastic Four several years ago and his West Coast Avengers book a few weeks ago: He has been intensely plotting lots of threads, his scripts run out, and someone else finishes it all off.
The story starts with Byrne on both plots and scripts. Byrne is thankfully un-doing the move to put the team on Hydrobase, and we see them actively engaged in reconstruction of their old mansion. Cap’s playing architect/foreman, Thor is carrying stuff…Guys, you know that you’re responsible for protecting the world and you can pay someone with actual expertise to do this stuff, right?
While carrying some of the debris away to a garbage dump, Thor goes all black-and-white and drops his pile. The wreckage hurtles towards a schoolyard, and Spider-Man happens to be nearby and saves the day.
The cause of Thor getting struck by whatever-that-was is Nebula. She’s on Earth now, and Starfox is after her.
So here we go with the main event. Nebula has a machine that teleports The Avengers and the entire Mansion sub-basement into a white void. Nebula is there, too, so it’s time for a fight as the heroes destroy the machine and get phased back to Earth, and they begin a space-chase of Nebula and her army. After several more fight scenes, the heroes win and the adventure is seemingly over. And Spider-Man was so helpful, they invite him to join the team.
This is the second time he joined the team, and both times will be short-lived.
That looks like a standard “end of the story” panel, with the heroes all posing and congratulating each other in a group panel. But…
Turns out The Stranger is the actual big bad of this adventure. Nebula stole his “Infinity Union.”
It’s a device that is so powerful it can destroy the universe. But you probably already figured that out. So now the team has to destroy the device and save everyone and everything, which, of course, they do. Along the way, Nicieza takes over for Byrne and tries to write a Jim Starlin kind of “supreme power” story, but it falls flat. Nicieza’s a talented writer—he came in at the end to clean up quickly when Byrne was fired/stormed off (depending on who you believe).
And by the end of the arc, Cap fires Spidey.
Cap’s kind of a jerk. He treats Spider-Man like he’s a collectible action figure, not a person with real feelings. And we all know how sensitive Peter Parker is.
Creators: John Byrne (scripts #314-316; plot #317), Fabian Nicieza (script #317-318)
Paul Ryan (art)
Grade: B- beginning to a C- ending.