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Appearing in "Better Red Than Ronin!"

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Synopsis for "Better Red Than Ronin!"

Story continued from the previous issue…

Dawn finds two somewhat inebriated off-duty Avengers - the Beast and Wonder Man specifically - wandering down Manhattan's West Side following a disastrous double date. They are stunned to see a giant red robot, Red Ronin, wading through the waters of the Hudson River. Before they can react, they are immediately snapped up by grappling cords and hoisted into an overhead quinjet in which the rest of the Avengers are assembled, even reserve member Yellowjacket. Captain America quickly explains to the two what Red Ronin is, a robot capable of fighting Godzilla.

The giant robot strides up into the Bronx and careens through a refuse facility by the Harlem River, much to the shock and terror of its manager. Inside Red Ronin’s command center (located within the head), is Dr. Earl Cowan, the mentally unbalanced scientist who repaired the damaged robot for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries but then stole it from them. Cowan uses a cybernetic helmet to control Ronin’s movements. He remarks to himself that he must be careful operating it, for he doesn’t want to hurt anyone - yet.

Just then, the Avengers attack. Iron-Man, Vision, Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Captain America (using a sky-cycle) attack at the head while the Beast, Wonder Man and Jocasta land the quinjet and attack at ground level. The Vision attempts to intangibly penetrate the robot but is repelled by a proton field.

On the ground, the Beast discovers an entryway inside located in the robot’s heel. Wonder Man punches it open but is knocked out by its security system. Jocasta’s eye beams knock out the system, allowing her and the Beast to enter it. They are forced to leave the unconscious Wonder Man, unfortunately.

The battle is joined by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Behemoth - a special heli-carrier developed specifically to challenge Godzilla - which is being commanded by none other than Nick Fury himself. Fury tells the heroes that Ronin is being operated by Dr. Cowan from the head.

Yellowjacket and the Wasp fly into the head via Ronin’s “eyes” (which are apparently open windows??) The Pyms confront Dr. Cowan, who rants and raves to them of his belief in a “great fear” that is paralyzing the world and how by attacking Russia and instigating WWIII, he will unite the world in a great cause and thereby “kill” the fear. The Wasp is appalled by this plan, but Cowan manages to overpower them with an exhaust system capable of dispelling tear gas. The tiny heroes are expelled from the interior.

Meanwhile, in South New Jersey, Ms. Marvel is still a patient in the hospital and is being visited by the Scarlet Witch. Literally overnight, Ms. Marvel has gone from being inexplicably three months pregnant to SIX months pregnant! Ms. Marvel insists there isn’t even a father. Wanda assures her they will figure it out back at Avengers Mansion. In a moment of despair, Ms. Marvel confides to Wanda her secret identity of Carol Danvers and admits she is afraid and feels helpless. Wanda promises to help her.

In Yonkers, NY, a father and son are barbecuing in a suburban backyard when they see Ronin plod by. Dr. Cowan intends to march Ronin to a less densely populated area before firing up the rocket boosters and flying off to attack Russia. However, the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. attack him again. With their frontal assaults appearing to be useless, Iron-Man devises a risky new plan to put into motion.

Red Ronin marches into Long Island sound. Cap launches a decoy attack, unaware that Dr. Cowan is now so frustrated that he activates a “DESTROY” command within Ronin’s command circuitry. At that moment, just as Ronin has entered the water, Iron-Man links himself up with the Behemoth ship and focuses its entire output into a single burst of energy. Ronin is overpowered and brought down… for about five seconds. The robot then simply gets up and begins marching again. This time, however, Dr. Cowan is unconscious and the circuitry in Ronin’s command center is locked into the “DESTROY” command.

Epilogue: In Cross-Technological Enterprises’ Long Island facility, new security chief Hawkeye is playing poker with the on-duty guards when a perimeter alarm goes off. Going to investigate, Hawkeye can’t find anything suspicious moving about the two giant red columns that… giant red columns??? Hawkeye stares upward and sees Red Ronin towering over him.

Story continued into the next issue.

Notes

  • Possible error in geography: The issue begins with Beast and Wonder Man looking across the Hudson River towards New Jersey. If that then is their location, then Red Ronin appears to be trekking South towards downtown Manhattan and Liberty Island in his first appearance on page 2. But the very next panel states that he is heading UP-town, toward the Bronx. (In fact, even given Red Ronin being a skyscraper-sized automaton, he seems to plow through upper NYC VERY quickly.)
  • The junkyard manager is watching "Sanford and Son", a late 1970s sitcom set in a junkyard. (It's debatable, but perhaps this reference can be considered apocryphal due to the sliding timescale of the Marvel Universe, since "Sanford and Son" is by now rarely shown in reruns on TV anymore.)
  • Dr. Cowan's reminiscences however, including specifically referencing his parents building a bomb shelter in the 1950s and race riots in the 1960s, definitely should be considered apocryphal due to the sliding timescale of the Marvel Universe.
  • While S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries are both much larger organizations than the Avengers, they are apparently as lax with security measures as Agent Gyrich believed the Avengers had been. Given how clearly disturbed Dr. Cowan is in this issue, it seems unfathomable that he would ever have been put in charge of such a potentially dangerous project as repairing Red Ronin by either organization. And NOBODY in either agency reviewed any of the new systems he was installing - particularly a "DESTROY" command - and questioned them??
  • Inconsistency with last issue: All through this issue, Dr. Cowan has Red Ronin trek across the Greater New York City area on "foot" because he doesn't want to risk hurting pedestrians by firing off the flight rockets. But in last issue, when he first stole Red Ronin from Stark Labs, he was depicted using those very rockets to fly away. Why did he then land Red Ronin in such a densely populated area such as NYC if he didn't want to hurt anyone? Why didn't he simply fly off directly to Russia from Stark Labs?
  • The subplot concerning Ms. Marvel is part of the infamous "Child Is Father To..." storyline in Avengers #200. Curiously, just two issues before the character will be dumped from the team's roster, Ms. Marvel finally gets some of the decent character-building work she'd been lacking throughout her initial tenure as an Avenger.
  • Wonder Man is seen saving Cindy Knutz during Red Ronin's trek across the city in Tales of the Marvels - Wonder Years #1.
  • This issue contains an advert for Hostess Fruit Pies featuring Hulk Vs. The Roller Disco Devils.

Trivia

  • On the splash page, the Beast and Wonder Man are singing the mid-60s hit "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits.

See Also

Footnotes



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