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Appearing in "Night of the Crawlers"

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  • Street punks
    • Lenny
    • Deuce
    • Turk

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Synopsis for "Night of the Crawlers"

The Avengers return home from the encounter with Ultron last issue. Thor, however, has already gone his own way. The team finds Jocasta has been revived in their absence; she regained enough cognition that she was able to talk Jarvis through the process of restoring her to full function. All that’s left to do is locate their still-missing teammates, the Beast and Wonder Man.

In fact, the two heroes in question have found themselves lost in a strange and unfamiliar neighborhood. They encounter a young girl, Juanita Lopez, who is searching for her missing brother, Hugo. Juanita tells them that bizarre creatures known colloquially as “Crawlers” have been prowling the neighborhood at night and she fears they may have kidnapped her brother.

Since the Crawlers are known to pop out of manholes, the Beast and Wonder Man descend into the sewer system. They are quickly surrounded by Crawlers, but a full-on battle with them is halted by Hugo’s sudden appearance. Hugo, it seems, has not been kidnapped but instead lives with them voluntarily.

Hugo explains that an unnamed lab was performing unethical experiments attempting to create anaerobic life forms. When their experiments appeared to be failures, they simply poured their chemical compounds down the drain rather than dispose of the potentially toxic chemicals by legal methods. In the sewers, those chemicals gelled to create the Crawlers. Hugo further explains that he encountered the Crawlers by accident but found them to be friendly and realized they only ascended to the surface in order to gather essentials they needed to survive.

Just then, a gang of street thugs who’ve discovered the Crawlers’ nest ambush them. The Beast and Wonder Man drive them off easily enough, but the frightened Crawlers have scattered. The two heroes insist Hector return to the surface with him. When they take him home, they are surprised that his mother, Mrs. Lopez, knows perfectly well where he’s been but doesn’t seem to care. She treats both he and Juanita as burdens she is saddled with.

As Hank and Simon are again attempting to find their way home, Juanita catches up with them telling them that Hugo ran away again. She’s also overheard members of the street gang plotting to blow up the Crawlers’ nest with dynamite they stole from a construction site.

Once again, the two Avengers - now accompanied by Juanita - seek out Hugo and the Crawlers in the sewers. The street gang however are successful in blowing up the Crawlers’ lair and setting them on fire, wiping them all out. Hugo is so upset he allows himself to be swept away by a flood of tidewater created by the explosion.

Returning to the surface, they find Mrs. Lopez awaiting them. She dismisses Hugo’s death, saying he deserves it. She then slaps Juanita for defying her and orders her home. Simon is about to intervene, but Juanita instead tells them not to rejoice for Hugo, declaring that he is the lucky one for not having to live their life anymore. Juanita and her mother then simply vanish into the early morning mist.

The two heroes at last find a street cop. Upon calling in to his HQ, the cop informs them that there are no reports of an explosion in the nearby sewers, nor has any nearby site reported missing any blasting equipment. The Beast and Wonder Man are left unable to determine whether the night’s adventure really took place at all!

Notes

  • As the Avengers from last issue return home, dialogue relates that they (incredibly!) just left Ultron in his frozen state. Given his already demonstrated ability to recover from total destruction in new forms, there is no reason at all why they should assume he is no longer a threat. Nor does it occur to them that Ultron might have another hypnotically-enthralled sleeper agent ready to reactivate him should he be defeated (which turns out to be exactly the case in his next appearance in "Marvel Two-in-One" #92.)
  • Like his solo adventure in #178, the Beast's adventure with Wonder Man has a "Twilight Zone" feel to it, especially given that it appears they've left normal reality behind for the evening and there is no evidence of their adventure having happened.
  • The story is also likely inspired by longtime urban legends of people (and even creatures) living in the sewers beneath New York City. A 1984 film, C*H*U*D*s, related a similar story of non-human creatures created by illegally dumped toxic chemicals living in the NYC sewers.
  • This issue contains an advert for Hostess Fruit Pies featuring Iron Man Vs. bank robbers.

See Also

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