Avengers 181 was cover dated March 1979 and was on sale in December 1978, sharing the spinner racks with Action Comics #493, Battlestar Galactica #1, DC Comics Presents #7, The Man called Nova #24, Superman Family #194 and Thor #281.
On the matter of heroes was written by David Michelinie and drawn by John Byrne and Gene Day. It opens with Wonderman and Beast at the cinema. Wonderman is still struggling with his role on the team and wonders whether being an Avenger is really what he wants to be doing. They return to Avenger’s Mansion and are attacked by the mansion’s new security systems. After getting inside by destroying the door, they find Scott Lang and Tony Stark installing these new systems. Also present is Henry Peter Gyrich who orders every current Avenger to the conference room. He is going to reinstate the Avengers clearances and priority status, but there will be conditions. Outside, an old man witha thick eastern european accent gets out of a cab outside Avengers Mansion.
The first thing he points out is that there’s too many members. Look at the picture above.. At this point all of them are Avengers, including all but one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. For security reasons, there needs to be a limit of seven, all of which chosen by the US government.
Chosing Iron Man, Vision, Cap, Scarlet Witch, Beast and the Wasp from those present and suprising everyone, especially Hawkeye with the addition of the Falcon. The Falcon is an addition by way of affirmative action, representing minorities in a government affiliated group, it’s not unreasonable, but Falcon has never served as an Avenger, only Cap knows him at all and his inclusion puts Hawkeye off the team, just as he’s come back, which really is only a bad thing to Hawkeye. Iron Man and Quicksilver both start arguing with Gyrich, each quoting different reasons until Quicksilver collapses.
He is taken to the infirmary by Scarlet Witch, Thor and Iron Man. Thor makes excuses and returns in his human guise of Dr Donad Blake. The rest of the team move into different parts of the mansion and wonder about their next moves. Wonderman decides to try acting as a profession, Hawkeye mopes around and the Guardians of the Galaxy decide to return to space and use the Collector’s ship’s systems to return them to the 30th Century, now that Michael the Enemy/Korvac has been defeated. Hercules and the Black Widow fly off in the Champions’ flying car. Moondragon, Ms Marvel and Captain Marvel fly off as do the Guardians whilst Yellowjacket points out that it’s a shame that only Wasp is on the Avengers, till she points out that she has him to come home to and get reacquainted with.
Gyrich tells the remaining team that inside 24 hours, all non-core team members need to be gone. Just then Scarlet Witch collapses just as her brother did. Dr Blake points out that their hearts aren’t beating, but their blood contains the right level of oxygen and their cells are not deteriorating, so whilst they aren’t alive, they aren’t dead either.
As the issue ends, the old man from earlier is seen going into a cheap motel in the bowery. He seems to be talking to the contents of his bag, calling them his children. He takes out two cages from the bag and inside are two animated puppets, looking just like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, with Quicksilver reaching for his sister.
Notes: This story pretty much ends the Guardians of the Galaxy’s association with the Avengers and acts as a sort of epilogue to the Korvac Saga. The reason I love this story so much is little to do with the Guardians, it’s the artist, John Byrne. John Byrne is one of the best comics artists of this era and has worked for Marvel and DC both and as a result has written/drawn most of my favourite comic characters. His run on Avengers West coast got me to fall in love with it. His collaboration with Chris Claremont made the X-Men the comics leviathan it has been since the late 70s and much like Views from the Longbox’s Michael Bailey, John Byrne created MY Superman. I could wax lyrical about how many of Byrne’s comics I love, maybe I will at some point, but that’s the reason I enjoyed this story. The Guardians of the Galaxy stick around the 20th Century a bit longer with another 6 appearances before they leave for their own time and place in the universe.