Friday, March 08, 2019

New Avengers #17 When: May 2006
Why: Brian Michael Bendis How: Mike Deodato Jr

The Story So Far...
When a mysterious energy force from space destroys North Pole, Alaska -- a lone survivor emerges from the burning wreckage. This entity comes to be known as The Collective as it begins a march across Canada, brutally defeating the first line of defense: Alpha Flight!

With The Collective making its way toward the United States; SHIELD Director Maria Hill is forced to reluctantly enlist the aide of Tony Stark and the newest formation of The Avengers!

As The Collective reaches Cleveland, Iron Man is there to greet it with gentle inquiry. For a moment, The Collective stops its path of destruction and attempts to communicate, but the situation quickly escalates when Ms. Marvel arrives -- attacking in response to the distress call put out by the Avengers!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Ms Marvel 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Ms Marvel 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Ms Marvel 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Omega 6 (Generator)
Agility: Ms Marvel 2 (Average)
Fighting: Ms Marvel 4 (Trained)
Energy: Omega 7 (Cosmic Power)
Total: Ms Marvel 29 (Metahuman)

A mutant with the ability to absorb and channel other mutant's powers? That's a road Ms. Marvel has been down before -- and it didn't end well!

The Collective appeared violently and without warning in North Pole, Alaska. At first, it appeared to be a cosmic phenomenon, but in truth it was the consequences of M-Day: the moment Scarlet Witch decimated all but 198 of Earth's population of naturally occurring mutants.

The gestalt energies of thousands of former mutants were absorbed by one of their own: an Alaskan mailman named Michael Pointer. He would eventually be known as would-be hero Weapon Omega, but as The Collective, he was a burning maelstrom of barely controlled energies, unable to articulate as he marched a path of destruction towards Genosha.

Among the energy signatures detected within The Collective were: Magneto, Polaris, Quicksilver, Black Tom Cassidy, Blob, Rictor, Sunfire, and Xorn. Some heavy duty powers, far beyond the basic Tape stats for the later Omega! He seems to have some access to specific abilities, but for the most part he manifest as a bundle of energy, perhaps due to the overriding influence of Xorn.

On the surface, Ms Marvel's ability to channel and redirect energies seems perfectly suited to taking down the awesomely powerful Collective, but there remains many unpredictable unknowns surrounding the conditions of his power.

We've seen Ms Marvel go hand-to-hand with high-level esoteric threats before! She grappled with a Dormammu powered Hood in New Avengers #54, and gave a swift uppercut to an Agamotto possessed Luke Cage in New Avengers #2!

That said: a moment of carelessness also cost her a kayo from the power-borrowing Super-Skrull in Marvel Team-Up #62. We also can't forget that the power-absorbing mutant Rogue handed Ms Marvel one of her most famous defeats, resulting in the permanent absorption of strength and flight.

It's unclear if Michael Pointer can or will steal powers from opponents as The Collective, but if there's any possibility of that being the case, it could pose a serious physical and mental risk to Ms Marvel! Let's find out what happened!

The Tape: The Collective Ranking: Ms Marvel (#67)

What Went Down...
The Avengers are en route to Cleveland when Ms Marvel receives the emergency call from Iron Man. All the heroes are calling in their chips, but only Ms Marvel is available to answer the call. She immediately takes flight!

When the heroine arrives in Ohio, Iron Man is already on the scene standing face-to-face with the swirling energies of The Collective. She has no way of knowing the armored Avenger is on the verge of a peaceful resolution!

Coming in hot like a human missile - Ms Marvel torpedo dives The Collective and takes him skyward with the element of surprise!

Iron Man desperately attempts pursuit to call Ms Marvel off, but she's moving with too much momentum, and the damage is already done! The Collective gains his bearings and unleashes crackling bolts of power!

The discharge succeeds in putting distance between The Collective and his attacker, but Ms Marvel is relatively unscathed!

Ms Marvel's altered physiology can absorb The Collective's energy and channel it right back at the source -- or so she presumes! Without warning: the sky appears to ignite in flame as The Collective unleashes its awesome power!

The blast engulfs Iron Man and the Avengers quinjet, while Ms Marvel is sent hurtling across Lake Erie to crash land in Toledo! When she emerges from the highway impact crater, she discovers a shocking transformation...

... The Collective's energies have restored her to something resembling her Binary powers!

The Hammer...
An unexpected power boost comes as a result of facing The Collective and his awesome energies, but Ms Marvel never the less suffers temporary defeat. If there's such a thing as "failing up" -- this seems like a good way to do it!

It's been a while since I've looked through the "Collective" story. The last time was probably shortly after publication. With the theatrical release of Captain Marvel putting focus firmly on Carol Danvers, it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit her featured return, and those striking Steve McNiven covers!

The McNiven connection isn't insignificant. By the time this issue was published, he would've been working on Civil War: landmark mini-series that really shaped the course for Ms. Marvel, The Avengers, and the entire Marvel Universe!

I'm reminded how valuable Civil War was for sharpening the focus of the New Avengers series. The concept started strong, introducing an unlikely team of heroes responding to a mass prison breakout from The Raft [see; New Avengers #3]. Once the team was actually formed, it seemed to struggle to fully cohere. Civil War split the team, but led to a stellar run into Dark Reign!

The phrase of the day was that Bendis was "JLA-ing the Avengers". There had been many members and iterations of The Avengers to that point, but there was a definite unwritten understanding of what was and wasn't an Avengers flavour.

A top heavy group headlined by Spider-man and Wolverine seemed to fall firmly in the "wasn't" category, and the first year and a half of issues didn't always make a strong case for reconsidering. The hodgepodge nature of the team, and intent to establish something new, meant ideas lent themselves to being thrown at the New Avengers, rather than flowing from mutually organic sources.

Skrull intrigue in the Savage Land wouldn't see payoff until years later in the fairly lackluster Secret Invasion, while tough sells were spun from The Sentry and newly introduced Ronin, offering uneven asides from what I'd now say were weak elements. The series was hugely popular and sometimes tough to get a hold of, which left me dropping in & out with only mixed interest.

By the time of "The Collective", it was getting much easier to buy into the New Avengers as a lineup, but there's a noticeable sense of meandering. It doesn't help that the story ultimately ties back into House of M - a lesser conceptual successor to the Age of Apocalypse that held little to no interest, then and now.

Seeds for Civil War can be seen in these issues, but it's a needlessly repetitive run of battles. The Collective just wasn't a villain interesting enough to warrant so many pages. Repeated swirly battles with Ms Marvel, Iron Man, & Sentry don't satisfy. Killing Alpha Flight in a couple of throwaway panels was lousy.

On the positive, it furthered the restoration of Ms Marvel as a leading force in the Marvel Universe. It brings her back into Iron Man's orbit, putting them on the same page as tensions with SHIELD head toward Civil War. From there, New Avengers gets its much needed focus as the book for Captain America's rebel "Secret Avengers". Civil War also helps launch a new Ms Marvel series [see; Ms. Marvel #6], and a year after appearing on the cover of New Avengers #17, Ms Marvel features on the first issue cover for Mighty Avengers: a series that brought a semblance of the classic Avengers flavor back to regular publication.

If you'd like to revisit this point in history for yourself, you can check out "The Collective" collected in trade format! By using the purchase link provided, you'll help ensure Amazon support the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths!

Follow links throughout this post to discover more from the stories, characters, and battles referenced. Check out the Secret Archive to go on a deeper dive into the multiverse of featured fights indexed by publisher, series, and issue number!

You can also follow Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook to get daily links to featured fights inspired by the topics of the day! Like, retweet, and share to add your battlecry to the chorus!

Winner: The Collective
#323 (new) Omega (Michael Pointer)
#74 (-7) Ms Marvel (Carol Danvers)

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