Hey, speaking of Rick Jones (yesterday), I never talked about the story that brought him into the fold.Avengers #244-245 fits roughly after Rom #53 (the attack on SHIELD), and has our heroes investigate the possibility of Dire Wraiths infesting the space program. So if you wonder why all those Mars probes went off course, blame the Wraiths. No sooner is the mission explained that the Wraiths blow up the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, and the Avengers assemble off the deck of the Wasp's yacht.
The attack at first seems to come from the Rocketeers, but Rom fans will remember that the Dire Wraiths replaced this villain team way back in Rom #22! But TWIST: The Rocketeers were male Wraiths (or Science Wraiths, if you will) supposedly exterminated by the female Witch Wraiths! Seems like there's a little bit of a masculist movement going on here.
Fearing that the Sisters were closing in, one of the Science Wraith betrays his brothers by stealing the experimental shuttle for himself, a shuttle they were installing a stardrive on.
You heard what butt-ugly just said, the stardrive's unstable and could blow any minute, and as #244 ends, the Wasp is passed out aboard the ship!
In the very next issue, it's the Wasp and Captain Marvel against the Wraith, and you won't believe how hardcore the tiniest Avenger gets.
And we weren't even close to the 90s yet! That's the gun that seemingly killed Captain Marvel a few pages earlier, so I guess the Wasp is justified in going postal. But the Wraith warns her that if the ship doesn't leave the atmosphere soon, its unstable engines will blow it up and rain deadly antimatter on the Earth.
Back on the endangered planet, Captain America goes to visit the captured Wraiths and finds the witches already experimenting on them!
That's some quick infiltration! And now Cap is to become one of them!
Of course, it's Captain America. There ain't no way he's gonna let that happen.
Meanwhile, Vision and Starfox have taken a Quinjet to intercept the shuttle and a battle ensues, one that ends with the Wraith blowing the hatch.
If you're surprised the 2 gram Wasp isn't the first one blown out, you won't be that Captain Marvel survived after all. And she's handy with spacesuit accessories too.
Back on Earth, Cap battles the Wraith sisters alone, but he's got an ace up his sleeve: The Scarlet Witch!
Soon, all the Wraiths have been electrocuted or frozen solid and SHIELD swoops in and tells the Avengers it's not their case anymore. Good move, U.S. governement cuz, you know, the Avengers did so poorly in combatting the threat and Rom doesn't need help or anything. No wait, that's right, they sent him RICK JONES. Cancer-ridden Rick Jones, to be exact. This is before the U.S. had color-coded threat levels.
The Avengers would meet the Wraiths once again in issue #268 when Kang sent them to Limbo. It was a pretty interesting story for continuity fans, since the "timeless dimension" was filled with just about everyone and everything that had ever visited since the 60s, including every Avenger whisked there by the Space Phantom whenever he moved into our dimension. That's Avengers #2, people!
And of course if we're in Limbo, we gotta have Dire Wraith armies. And this being post-Rom #66, that would be ALL OF THEM.
Just another day at the office for Hercules. In the wake of the battle, the Wraiths ask to be ALL killed off.
Living in Limbo really is cruel and unusual punishment. So much for Rom using humane methods. Though we don't see the massacre, it is inferred that Hercules put them down. Humanely.