Operation: Galactic Storm
|"Operation: Galactic Storm"|
|Publication date||March – May 1992|
|Main character(s)||The Avengers|
|Volume 1||ISBN 0-7851-2044-0|
|Volume 2||ISBN 0-7851-2045-9|
"Operation: Galactic Storm" is a 19-part comic book crossover storyline which ran through Marvel Comics' Avengers related titles - Avengers, Avengers West Coast, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wonder Man, and Quasar - between March and May 1992.
The storyline, which involves the Avengers intervening in an intergalactic war between the alien Kree and Shi'ar empires, is notable for reigniting the longstanding antagonism between Captain America and Iron Man and its impact upon the status quo for Marvel's alien empires, with the Shi'ar annexing the Kree Empire.
The title of the storyline is an allusion to Operation: Desert Storm, the Pentagon's operational title for the 1991 Gulf War, which had been recently resolved when the idea for "Operation: Galactic Storm" was conceived. Although the phrase is featured in the storyline (it is the name the Avengers give to their own deployment) the plot bears no real relation to the Gulf conflict and was apparently not intended to have any overt parallels with it, save the obvious fact that "Operation: Galactic Storm" also involved a major conflict.
In fact, the crossover was in many ways a sequel to a previous Avengers story - the 1971/1972 "Kree-Skrull War". Like the previous story, "Operation: Galactic Storm" features the Avengers getting caught in the middle of a cosmic war waged between two alien empires - this time the Kree and the Shi'ar (rather than the Kree/Skrull conflict featured in its predecessor) - because that war endangers the safety of the planet Earth.
Mark Gruenwald has discussed the origins of the storyline  as a Quasar story which was expanded when he (then Marvel's executive editor and writer of Captain America and Quasar), Bob Harras (at the time the Avengers writer and the X-Men line's editor), and Fabian Nicieza (then editor of Wonder Man and a writer of numerous non-Avengers books) were looking for an appropriate plot for a proposed Avengers crossover.
Harras's role was instrumental in approving the story. As the X-Men editor he could authorize the extensive use of the Shi'ar, a race which until then had rarely appeared outside of the X-Men titles where they had made their debut.
The three creators mapped out the proposed storyline, which was further expanded at an "Avengers summit" when all the writers and editors whose series were involved in the crossover gathered together to further refine the plot.
Creators who contributed to the storyline included writers Gruenwald, Harras, Tom DeFalco, Gerard Jones, Len Kaminski, and Roy Thomas (who wrote the original Kree-Skrull War storyline); pencillers Greg Capullo, Steve Epting, Ron Frenz, Jeff Johnson, Rik Levins, Pat Olliffe, David Ross, and Paul Ryan; and editors Nicieza, Ralph Macchio, Nel Yomtov, and Kelly Corvese.
The storyline was tightly plotted so that each issue was supposed to carry the story forward in some way. Each character's characterization was kept largely consistent with their portrayals from their ongoing titles and long developing themes and storylines (such as the strained relationship between Captain America and Iron Man following the "Armor Wars", the Avengers strict "no killing" rule, the Kree's genetic problems, etc.) were updated and further developed.
The war reaches Earth
The plot begins in Captain America #398 (March 1992) with the kidnapping of Rick Jones by Shi'ar agents intent on recovering Kree artifacts to aid them in the construction of a superweapon. In the course of rescuing Jones, Captain America discovers that a conflict has begun between the alien Kree and Shi'ar empires.
In Quasar #32 (March 1992) Captain America's fellow Avenger Quasar discovers that the use of a nearby stargate by the warring factions is destabilizing Earth's sun. The Avengers gather and resolve to intervene in the conflict to try to ensure the safety of their solar system either by bringing about a truce or by diverting the two empires from using the nearby stargate.
The Avengers assemble
In Avengers #345 (March 1992) a gathering of over twenty Avengers is divided into three teams to deal with the threat. One of the teams stays on the Earth to protect the planet for the duration of the conflict, while the other two are sent to the Shi'ar and Kree homeworlds via the Stargate to try to negotiate with the two empire's leaders.
The "Earth team" is led by the Wasp and includes the Falcon, Henry Pym, Gilgamesh, Mockingbird, She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, and U.S. Agent. Quasar, Her and Binary also remain in the Solar System to guard the stargates.
In the story, U.S. Agent is originally assigned to the "Kree Team" and Hawkeye to the "Earth Team", but Clint Barton (Hawkeye's real identity) perceives this as a slight and is given some Pym Particles by Hank Pym so that he might increase his superhuman abilities (and thus qualify for inclusion on the "Kree Team") by re-assuming his Goliath identity.
This is one of the story's few overt references to the original "Kree-Skrull War" storyline, as Barton appears as Goliath in that storyline as well (something which Barton and Pym comment on in the story).
The Kree-Shi'ar War
The Kree and Shi'ar Avengers teams go on to encounter the various factions (including their own super-powered teams, Starforce and the Imperial Guard, respectively) and are largely unsuccessful in engaging them in negotiations. Captain America's team are repeatedly captured and imprisoned by the Kree authorities while Captain Marvel's team engages in a number of short battles with various Shi'ar forces.
During the course of these encounters it is revealed that the Sh'iar has managed to create a massive super weapon—the "Nega-Bomb"— using Kree artifacts including the original Captain Marvel's Nega-Bands which has been stolen from the dead hero's tomb. This bomb is capable of devastating an area equivalent to that of the Kree Empire (which is supposedly located throughout the Large Magellanic Cloud).
Also during the conflict, the Kree's military leaders are assassinated by the Shi'ar agent Deathbird, the Supreme Intelligence regains (temporary) control of the Kree forces, and Skrull agents are revealed to be surreptitiously manipulating the court of the Shi'ar Majestrix Lilandra into escalating the conflict.
Eventually, Captain Marvel's Avengers delegation manages to convince Lilandra to try to begin peace negotiations with the Kree. However, by this point, the Nega-Bomb has been stolen by Skrull agents and her efforts to recall the weapon fail.
Despite the presence of Avengers members Wonder Man and the Vision in the Nega-Bomb's massive interior, the device is successfully detonated in Wonder Man #9 (May 1992). The Kree Empire is devastated by its effects, with billions dying instantaneously.
In Avengers #347 (May 1992) the various Avengers (all of whom manage to survive the bomb's effects; the Vision turned intangible, Wonder Man's ionic body absorbed the released energy, Sersi turned the rest of the Kree team into inanimate matter, and the Shi'ar team hadn't arrived on the scene yet) gather on Hala, the Kree homeworld, and discover that most of the events of the war- up to and including the Nega-Bomb's detonation- have been manipulated and engineered by the Kree Supreme Intelligence. This creature, an amalgam of the consciousness of thousands of generations of Kree military leaders, calculated that the bomb's radioactive effects would serve to jumpstart the Kree race's evolution which had previously been thought stalled.
Horrified by this revelation, and faced with the problem with what to do now with the captured Supreme Intelligence, a group of Avengers decides that the Supreme Intelligence should be killed for its act of genocide.
Disagreeing with this idea completely, Captain America holds a vote, and when a majority of Avengers agree that killing the Intelligence is not appropriate, he orders that no Avenger should kill the creature. Iron Man refuses to follow this order (invoking his seniority as a founding member), and he and the other dissenting Avengers- Black Knight, Hercules, Sersi, Thor, Vision, and Wonder Man attempt to terminate the creature, apparently succeeding.
A Shi'ar delegation then appears and announces that they will annex the devastated Kree Empire, with Lilandra's sister Deathbird becoming viceroy of the Kree territories. The Avengers return to Earth divided and disillusioned by the events of the storyline, and the consciousness of the Supreme Intelligence is shown to have survived and escaped to a waiting spaceship manned by Skrulls.
Aftermath of the war
The immediate aftermath of the storyline is explored in the Captain America and Quasar titles. Captain America #401 (June 1992) examines the effects of the conflict on Captain America, such as his disappointment in those teammates who disobeyed his orders and in the Avengers group as a whole.
Quasar #35 and #36 (June - July 1992) explores the larger repercussions of the storyline: the effect on the wider cosmos of the Nega-Bomb explosion and the sudden death of billions of lifeforms and the collapse of a major space empire.
Other comics which tie directly into the events of "Operation Galactic Storm" include Silver Surfer (vol. 2) #79 (April 1993) which features the return of two Kree characters, Doctor Minerva and Captain Atlas, who are thought to have died at the conclusion of "Operation: Galactic Storm"; and X-Men Unlimited #05 (June 1994) which features the Shi'ar's formal ceremonies of the annexation of the Kree Empire into the Shi'ar empire, likewise Avengers Forever #8 (July 1997), features how the events of the crossover may lead (and led at least in one timeline) the Avengers to become a paramilitary group that controls a vast and repressive interstellar empire, Iron Man's actions at the time having been provoked by Immortus to create a crucial schism in the team that would prevent them from following this path.
In a more general sense, the implications and repercussions of the events depicted in the crossover have had a wide and continuing effect on many stories set in the Marvel Universe, most especially stories featuring the Kree, Shi'ar, and Skrull as the events of the crossover changed the status quo of each of those races to varying degrees.
Many subsequent Avengers storylines feature attempts by surviving Kree to exact revenge on the Avengers team for their supposed role in the Nega-Bomb's detonation, more specifically Avengers #364-366 and the 1998 four-part Avengers crossover Live Kree or Die!. The former, would introduce Deathcry to the Avengers; a Shi'ar rebel who would be part of a secret movement that sought to help the Kree who were suffering under Shi'ar rule. Deathcry would ultimately leave the Avengers in Avengers #389, in order to help fight alongside the Kree.
The crossover event "Maximum Security" and its prequel, "Avengers Forever" would ultimately restore the Kree Empire to its former glory. Using the Time Crystal acquired in "Avengers Forever", the Supreme Intelligence would rapidly evolve the Kree to a new monstrous form known as the Ruul. Pretending to be a newly discovered species, the Ruul would reveal themselves to be the Kree. After manipulating the Galactic Council, a coalition of the universe's oldest planetary ruling powers, into turning Earth into a prison planet for alien criminals and briefly merging a spore of Ego the Living Planet with humanities world, so as to turn Ego into a weapon for the Kree and eliminating the Terran threat to their plans. Revealing their true identities, the Kree launched a galaxy-wide invasion of all of the major rival empires, reclaiming much of their lost territories and establishing a new Kree empire. However, Earth's mightiest heroes would be able to liberate Earth and free it from Ego, denying them a major weapon.
The original crossover:
- Part 1: Captain America #398 (March 1992)
- Part 2: Avengers West Coast #80 (March 1992)
- Part 3: Quasar #32 (March 1992)
- Part 4: Wonder Man #7 (March 1992)
- Part 5: Avengers #345 (March 1992)
- Part 6: Iron Man #278 (March 1992)
- Part 7: Thor #445 (March 1992)
- Part 8: Captain America #399 (April 1992)
- Part 9: Avengers West Coast #81 (April 1992)
- Part 10: Quasar #33 (April 1992)
- Part 11: Wonder Man #8 (April 1992)
- Part 12: Avengers #346 (April 1992)
- Part 13: Iron Man #279 (April 1992)
- Part 14: Thor #446 (April 1992)
- Part 15: Captain America #400 (May 1992)
- Part 16: Avengers West Coast #82 (May 1992)
- Part 17: Quasar #34 (May 1992)
- Part 18: Wonder Man #9 (May 1992)
- Part 19: Avengers #347 (May 1992)
- Aftermaths: Captain America #401 (June 1992)
- Quasar #35 (June 1992)
- Quasar #36 (July, 1992)
Post Quasar #36 tie-ins:
- Wonder Man #10 (June 1992)
- Avengers West Coast #83 (June, 1992)
- Silver Surfer (vol. 2) #79 (April, 1993)
- What if? #55 (November, 1993)
- What if? #56 (December, 1993)
- X-Men Unlimited #05 (June, 1994)
- Avengers Forever #8 (July, 1999)
The storyline has been collected into two trade paperbacks:
- Avengers: Galactic Storm:
- Volume 1 (collects Captain America #398-399, Avengers West Coast #80-81, Quasar #32-33, Wonder Man #7-8, Avengers #345-346, Iron Man #278, and Thor #445, 280 pages, March 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2044-0)
- Volume 2 (collects Iron Man #279, Thor #446, Captain America #400-401, Avengers West Coast #82, Quasar #34-35, Wonder Man #9, Avengers #347, and What If? #55-56, 288 pages, December 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2045-9)
Issues #55 and 56 in the second volume of What If ask "What If the Avengers Lost Operation: Galactic Storm."
In other media
- The twenty-fourth episode of Season 2 of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is named "Operation Galactic Storm".
- In 1995, an arcade game called Avengers in Galactic Storm was published by Data East Corporation in the arcades in Japan and the USA. The game is loosely based on the crossover but features only four playable Avengers, with four others available as helper characters.
- "10 Years!". UncannyXmen.Net. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
- "ABC3 - TV Program - The Avengers (Series 2) Operation Galactic Storm". ABC3. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Avengers Assemble! page on Operation: Galactic Storm with issue by issue synopses
- The Grand Comics Database
- Operation: Galactic Storm at the Comic Book DB
- Gruenwald, Mark (May, 1993). Mark's Remarks. In Marvel Age #24. New York: Marvel Comics.(Michael Hoskin's online transcription)
- Operation: Galactic Storm, Silver Soapbox, Comics Bulletin
- The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
- Avengers In Galactic Storm - Videogame
- Operation: Galactic Storm, Silver Soapbox, Comics Bulletin,
- Avengers: Galactic Storm Volume 1 review and Volume 2, Comics Bulletin