These are the Inferno tie-in issues, which come at a time when there is unprecedented internal turmoil, between moving from Avengers Mansion to the remote Hydrobase, Dr. Druid trying to unseat the ineffectual leadership hitherto provided by Captain Marvel, and the team basically breaking up.
The Captain, who is still not an Avenger and still not Captain America at the time of this story, works alongside The New Mutants fighting nanny and orphan maker (above), demons and animated inanimate objects. Simultaneously, we see The Eternals revving up to help stop the Inferno events as well.
We also see Orphan-Maker kidnap Franklin Richards to be one of the Inferno Babies. He’s not a baby, but we’ve seen them also kidnap Wiz Kid in the pages of X-Terminators, so N’Astirh’s demons have a precedent for being unclear on the concept.
Then, Reed and Susan Richards team up with The Captain and an Eternal named Gilgamesh to save Franklin.
So far, this is much more of a Captain story than an Avengers one. Franklin ends up being in the hands of N’Astirh, who basically uses him as a power battery to pump up the volume of the magical New York City disasters.
Walt Simonson has been building to a big war of the Kangs story, and we get it in #300. I wonder if he was forced to do the Inferno tie-in aspect, because it’s not necessary. One of the Kangs decides to jump back into the timestream during Inferno because he figures the chaos will keep the heroes occupied while he takes over the world. And for time-travel reasons I don’t understand, he also has to make sure that The Avengers, who broke up during the last arc, re-form.
To ensure this happens, Kang brings out The Growing Man as a threat. You’d think with Inferno going on there was already enough of a threat, but Growing Man is Avengers-specific.
And indeed Inferno does bring Cap, Reed and Sue, and Thor together, along with Black Knight who is still a statue from recent events in Thor. And one of the Eternals joins in as well—a character they decide to call Gilgamesh, who was sent by the Eternals’ leadership to make sure Inferno didn’t destroy Earth. Together, they fight Growing Man, who, at the direction of Kang, brings them to N’astirh, and it all comes together. The spell gets broken, Franklin is saved, the demons dissolve, and the new team takes down Growing Man.
And we get the new line-up, which is very, very strange: The Captain, Reed and Sue, Gilgamesh, and Thor.
Yeah, Walt seems to be going for the weirdest lineup possible: Reed, Sue, Cap, Thor, and a dude named Gilgamesh who used to be an Eternal named “Forgotten One” and, soon after joining the Avengers, would actually be forgotten completely.
It’s funny, because Walt quit the book immediately after this issue. So basically he created this lineup just to screw the guys who followed him.
Oh, and there’s a back-up feature telling the origin of the Avengers from Loki’s point of view. It’s pretty fun.
This is one of the top 5 Walt Simonson comics of all time.