Avengers #352-354 (1992): Fear the Reaper!

Look at the double-wide splash page…

It’s the return of the 6-fingered hand from The Defenders!

Wait.  Wait.  One…Two…Three…No it isn’t.  This is just a giant hand with eyes and a vampire mouth. Too bad. This is what the 6-finger hand looked like:

Marvel Daily Art on Twitter: "With Patsy Walker saved, Gargoyle ...

I miss that kind of wild silliness.

In Avengers #352, Grim Reaper (Wonder Man’s brother) is back, and now he’s a demon.  So he brings a bunch of demons with him to attack The Avengers.

Grimmy blames The Avengers for killing him, but it was actually the West Coast Avengers who did it—and they’re not here.  Wonder Man, specifically, is not here.  But Vision is, and they’re kind of related at least, since his brain patterns are linked to Simon Williams’.  

In point of fact, the WCA didn’t even kill him—Grim Reaper tripped and knocked himself down a chasm in Vision and Scarlet Witch #2, which was the last issue of a WCA/V&SW crossover story.

Back to #352: The basic story is The Avengers fighting their way through another dimension that is basically a demon-filled hellscape with skeletons, zombies, a haunted house (seriously!) and a new version of the Legion of the Unliving.

I referenced The Defenders earlier in this post, and one of the returned/reanimated is Nebulon.

Who gets turned into a pig!

There are a lot of good reasons to love these issues!

Now, of course none of these are the “real” characters represented—they are demonic zombie manifestations who answer to Grim Reaper.  But it’s a very cool way to have that character’s name finally match his power set.  Ostensibly, to now, he’s been called Reaper because he has a giant knife hand that kind of looks like the classic sickle held by Death.

All of the characters represented are in fact dead—and most died in issues of The Avengers (or at least died facing members of the team).  All except for Baron Zemo, who was recently revealed to have never died and his soul now occupies a woman’s body.  So there’s a bit of a problem here.  Also, there are no editor’s continuity notes reminding us of who the characters are and what issues they died in.  Marvel doesn’t really do that stuff in the 1990s.  I miss it.

Anyway, remember how Grim Reaper actually wasn’t killed, but rather he killed himself?  Vision remembers.  And it’s a bit anticlimactic that the whole story is resolved in three panels where he reminds Grim Reaper of the truth.

And with that, Reaper’s zombies turn on him, beat the snot out of him, and feed him to that giant hand from the splash page to the first issue of this story.


Fun fact: Throughout, there are multiple references to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies, including demons yelling “Swallow Your Soul” and story titles like “Son of Darkness” and “Dead by Dawn.”

hercules vs zombies

Since there have been Evil Dead comics, I’m tagging this as a crossover.

Furthering the references to scary movies, the characters even do a Scream-like self-conscious homage to horror movie tropes.

This is a fill-in story–and it’s really good! It’s a lot of fun and does a nice job tying to Avengers’ history without impacting the ongoing plotlines of the regular creative team.

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