With this collection, pretty much all of Roger Stern’s fantastic “Avengers” run is now out in trade paperback for fans to enjoy. This pick up from the “Absolute Vision” arcs as the Vision and Scarlet Witch leave the team, Hercules rejoins and Wasp becomes chairwoman again. The team face problems with the government threatening to revoke their standing after the Vision’s actions but ignore it to face off against the monstrous Terminus in an attack that ravages the Savage Land. Then, a crossover with Stern’s own “Amazing Spider-Man” as after Spidey’s great fight with Firelord, Hercules forces his cosmic ally to make up for the damage he caused. During this, a subplot has had Captain Marvel in space, dragged into a job by a team of mercenaries led by Thanos’ granddaughter, Nebula. The Avengers go to help her and soon discover that, after the destruction of their home world by Galactus, the Skrulls are in civil war and have to pick a side to help them out. This leads into a fun two-part crossover with the Fantastic Four annuals, both drawn by John Byrne that link up wonderfully well. The big finale has a conflict with Nebula that also involves the arrival of the Beyonder for some “Secret War II” crossover.
Aided by John Buscema’s terrific art, Stern does wonders with the team. Starfox has to face his dark side with the revelation of his relation to Thanos as he tangles with Nebula and the battle with Terminus is a harrowing affair with the destruction (for a time) of the Savage Land. The Skrull section is fun, notably when they meet up with some Skrulls who have based their planet on 1940’s Earth, their leader a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca.” The crossover with the FF is terrific work by Byrne, each annual using the same art for some sections and it makes wonderful sense read back to back. And you get the conflicts with the government as the Avengers have to face the problems of doing their job properly. While the Beyonder bits are an intrusion, it works for a good finale that reminds you why Stern’s run is still so popular as one of the best ever and the Avengers at their finest.