Marvel Adventures Avengers #26

Background

Iron Man and Wolverine aren't around this issue, but that's okay, because it seems that Ant-Man has joined the Avengers on a permanent basis! He should be a big help against this month's foe: Galactus.

Story 'Paradigm Shift'

  Marvel Adventures Avengers #26
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Writer: Jeff Parker
Pencils: Ig Guara
Inker: Sandro Ribeiro
Lettering: Dave Sharpe

The Avengers arrive in India to avert an alien invasion. As it turns out, though, the aliens aren't invading, they've come seeking help. Galactus is coming to devour their world, and they have sought aid from Earth, the one planet known to have escaped his appetite. It seems that Galactus visisted Earth months previously, but the Fantastic Four—with a little help from the Watcher—bribed Galactus with "the Ultimate Nullifier," and the world-devourer agreed to leave Earth alone. So it isn't clear that the Avengers will be able to help the aliens, as Earth no longer has anything Galactus might want. It isn't even clear that the Avengers want to help, as the aliens, despite their plight, hold Earth in contempt and are insufferably rude.

Cap feels differently, though. After a semi-rousing speech ("That really wasn't one of his better ones," observes Storm) the Avengers board their deep-space Quinjet and travel to the doomed world of Baston-Kar. They arrive just before Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer, do. Majestically unconcerned with the Avengers, Galactus begins to assemble his world-digesting machines. The Avengers try to fight, but it seems hopeless: the machines repair themselves as fast as Giant-Girl and the Hulk can damage them, and Spidey, Storm, and Cap can't hurt the Surfer. The most they can do is reflect one of the Surfer's bolts into Galactus' face: this irritates the world-devourer enough that he intervenes, paralyzing all of the Avengers except Spider-Man.

Wait, is someone missing? Indeed: while the fight distracted everyone, Ant-Man and a band of Baston-Karian ants sneaked aboard Galactus' vessel and stole the Ultimate Nullifier! Galactus is unfazed, though. The Nullifier, he explains, "would end life as you understand it for light years [sic] around. An alternative you cannot enact is no threat at all."

Spider-Man thinks about this... and then turns on the Nullifier.

This is unexpected. (And, seen on the page, is hilarious too.)

"Why did you press that? You could have annihilated the universe!" snaps Storm.

"Maybe if it were called the Ultimate Annihilator, but it's not," replies Spidey. Goodness, Spider-Man, you staked an awful lot on the subtle distinctions between 'annihilation' and 'nullification'. But the gamble pays off: turns out that the Nullifier nullifies probability, making it so that size and power don't matter, so that everything has an equal likelihood of affecting everything else.

I'm not sure I understand that, but let's roll with it. With the playing field leveled, the Avengers have a fair chance at beating Galactus at any activity. Thus they challenge him to compete for the privilege of eating Baston-Kar, and he, with an ego as large as the rest of him, deigns to accept. He is "the universe's highest life form," so he's confident of success.

Storm proposes a game of chess. "I knew we were going to be used as pieces," grumbles Ant-Man.

Giant-Girl replies, "I'm a queen."

Heh.

Thanks to a blunder by Hulk, the game is stalemated, so the two sides switch to baseball. The Surfer is an easy out—pop flies are no problem when your outfielder can grow as tall as a skyscraper—but Galactus, who's that tall already, poses more of a problem. Ant-Man tries a tricky pitch which physics, math, and philosophy nerds will find hilarious, but only succeeds in making the game unplayable. They try Texas Hold-'Em next, but despite the Surfer's unfamiliarity with the rules (he seems to think he's playing blackjack), the Hulk just can't refrain from blurting out what cards his teammates have. So that game ends without resolution as well.

Spidey can't concentrate on an empty stomach, but as soon as he utters the words "I'm hungry," the competitors find themselves in a restaurant, where the Surfer, in the guise of a headwaiter, offers Galactus his choice of entrée. The Avengers try to change the scenario to something else, but the Surfer tips them the wink: he's used the unfamiliar context to persuade Galactus to devour an uninhabited world, which proves to be unexpectedly delicious. It seems that there was never any need for the Eater of Worlds to eat life-bearing planets, it was just his habit, which he'd never broken before.

"How about that?" asks Cap. "He was just so set in his ways that it was hard for him to change."

Spider-Man, turning off the Nullifier, isn't surprised: "well, he is the oldest man in the universe."

Everything goes back to normal, including the Baston-Karians, who are utterly ungrateful for the Avengers' efforts. "Why are you still here? You are finished saving our world, are you not?"

General Comments

Another fun one. There's a chuckle on every page. While the Ultimate Nullifier is the most transparent plot device I've ever seen, any plot device that allows Ant-Man to throw a pitch to Galactus-- while working in a joke that relies on a working knowledge of pre-Socratic Greek philosophy-- is a winner in my book.

Overall Rating

Jeff Parker hits out out the park yet again. If you're not reading this book, you should be.