We’re another week closer to the release of Avengers: Infinity War, which means that it’s time to regale you all with another insane story of one of Thanos the Mad Titan’s numerous defeats. When we last saw Thanos he was being outsmarted by a random child in the pages of an all-ages comic while Spider-Man and Hellcat watched on. And today we’ll be talking about a story that’s in a similar tone as “The Cat and the Cosmic Cube,” but one that features an even stranger group of heroes. That’s right. I’m talking about the Pet Avengers. And folks, if you aren’t familiar with the Pet Avengers, I have very good news for you. See, in 2009 a group of creators including Chris Eliopoulos, Ig Guara, and Chris Sotomayor noticed that there sure were a bunch of animal sidekicks in the Marvel Universe. So, logically, they created a mini-series called Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers that told the tale of the formation of a group of animal Avengers who go on a quest to find the missing Infinity Gems before they can fall into the hands of Thanos. It’s pretty clearly a kid-friendly series, but one that was shockingly deep on continuity, pulling some shockingly deep cut characters in to the roster of this team. And it serves up yet another humiliating defeat to Thanos, which is why we’re all here.
The story begins with Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four arriving in the Inhuman city of Attilan, hidden away on the Moon. He’s there because his calculations have shown that the Infinity Gems have appeared on and around Earth, and one of them seems to be near Attilan. Black Bolt and Medusa promise to help Reed find the missing Gem, but it turns out they’re too late. Because as they’re talking we see the Inhuman’s massive teleporting bulldog Lockjaw wandering around the Moon, coming across the blue Mind Gem. Lockjaw can feel the power of the Mind Gem, and puts it in his mouth for safe keeping, letting the awesome power of the Gem expand his mind and knowledge. He attempts to bring the Gem back to Reed Richards, but no one seems interested in him or what he’s discovered, so he follows their instructions and goes away. But, thanks to the power of the Mind Gem, Lockjaw understands the need to locate the remaining Gems, and decides to find other creatures like himself to track down and contain the mystical Gems. So, he teleports down to Earth, in Central Park specifically, and finds his first ally.
That’s right, folks. It’s time to talk about Throg. Now, I’ve been talking about ridiculous Marvel stories for about two and a half years, and the self-restraint it’s taken to not discuss Throg yet has been Herculean. And now that the seal has been broken, I’m sure we’ll get to the Throg story soon enough. But, that story isn’t quite necessary, because this is technically a different thing. The original Throg was a story about Thor who got turned into a frog, and still was able to use the power of Mjolnir. This is much weirder. See, this Throg was one of the frogs that helped Thor during that story. But he wasn’t really a frog. Apparently he was a human named Simon Walterson who was cursed by a witch and turned into a frog. He then met Thor, saw Thor turn into a frog Thor, and was then left with a minuscule chunk of Mjolnir, which he was able to wield and become Throg, defender of all frogs of Central Park. I just love comics so much, folks.
Throg is a little confused about the appearance of this massive dog, but when he touches the Mind Gem he gains a mental link with Lockjaw, and learns about what’s going on with the Gems, and why he should help out Lockjaw. Plus, he can talk, which makes this process much easier to understand. Throg is a little hesitant to join up with Lockjaw, since he doesn’t see himself as a good enough hero for such an important task, but Lackjaw is able to intimate that if he’s worthy enough to hold a tiny Mjolnir he’s worthy enough to find the Infinity Gems. Throg and Lockjaw them begin teleporting around the world, picking up the rest of their team. They stop by the Xavier School and get Kitty Pryde’s pet dragon Lockheed, then swing over to Brooklyn to get Falcon’s falcon Redwing, and a cat called Hairball who has the same powers as the New Warrior Speedball. And, when picking up Hairball they end up encountering a yappy dog named Ms. Lion, which may be the deepest pull the whole series made. He’s Aunt May’s dog from the 80’s cartoon Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. And, despite not having any powers and being quite annoying, they let Ms. Lion join the team.
With the team assembled they then move onto the more important part of their quest, actually finding the Gems. But, luckily, the Gems want to be together, so Lockjaw is able to sense the location of the other Gems. Lockjaw then teleports the gang to the location of the next stone, which ends up being in the middle of the Savage Land. We’ve already discussed the Savage Land, but to reiterate it’s an alien nature preserve in Antarctica that’s full of dinosaurs. But, the Pets don’t seem to realize where they are, and begin searching for the Gem. Which they find pretty quickly. It’s the orange Time Gem, and they give it Lockheed to take care of.
However, once they find the Time Gem they run into a bit of a problem. Namely, an angry Tyrannosaurus Rex. They quickly start panicking, but before they have to figure out how to take care of a T-Rex, they’re saved by the final member of their team. Zabu, the saber-tooth tiger of Ka-Zar, Lord of the Jungle! Zabu has a lot of clout in the Savage Land, and is able to assert dominance on the T-Rex until it backs down. Lockjaw and the gang then tell Zabu about their quest, and he agrees to lend his help in their noble pursuit. The Pets then begin to look for the next Gem, and eventually realize that it’s also in the Savage Land, but in the past. So, they have Lockheed activate the Time Gem and send themselves backwards in time. But, when they get there they find another T-Rex waiting for them. But not just any T-Rex. They found Devil Dinosaur.
Devil Dinosaur is an immensely powerful T-Rex that bops around the Marvel Universe, and he’s usually something of a hero. However, the Pet Avengers have traveled far enough back in time that Devil Dinosaur is still an unruly monster, and one that won’t listen to the authority of Zabu. So, the Pet Avengers decide to make a hasty retreat and flee deeper into the Savage Land, doing their best to escape the fury of Devil Dinosaur. They all realize that they’re now trapped back in time in an incredibly hostile world, and they aren’t going to be able to escape until they’ve found the Infinity Gem that’s decided to take up residence in the past.
And, to make matters worse, while they’re fleeing from Devil Dinosaur Throg notices where the next Gem is. It’s delicately placed in the middle of a clutch of eggs, that appears to be what Devil Dinosaur is specifically guarding. So, they’re going to have to sneak past an enormous superpowered T-Rex. Luckily, they have a plan. They’re going to send Ms. Lion out to distract Devil, and when he decides to eat the irritating little dog Lockheed and Redwing swoop in to attack. And, shortly thereafter Throg and Hairball join in. But, they aren’t trying to defeat Devil, they’re just trying to get him to chase them a bit so that Lockjaw can teleport in and grab the Gem. They just need to be quiet.
Way to go, Ms. Lion! His exclamation is able to draw the attention of Devil Dinosaur, who then begins chasing after the two dogs. Lockjaw is able to teleport Ms. Lion and himself out of the way, and the rest of the Pet Avengers begin fleeing. Lockjaw is able to toss the Gem, the purple Space Gem, up to Redwing, and they continue to run away, looking for Zabu so that Lockheed can reactivate the Time Gem and get them out of the past. They have some trouble all getting close enough to each other to touch and use the Time Gem, but eventually, after reaching a cliff and being unable to go any further, they finally catch up with on another and are able to quickly travel through time, escaping Devil Dinosaur.
Unfortunately, in their hate, they misuse the Time and Space Gems, and end up arriving in their right time, but hovering above the ocean. The Pets plummet down into the ocean, and after hitting the water they all end up blacking out. And, when they come to, they realize that they’ve been saved by a group of sea turtles who work for Namor the Sub-Mariner. They’ve used some sea-magic to surround each of the Pets with bubbles that allow them to breathe, and they agree to aid the Pets in their quest. Because, even though their surrounds are less than ideal, they came to the right place. Now that they’ve all been around the Gems they can feel the pull of nearby Gems, and realize that there’s actually two nearby. So, the Pets go along with the turtles, homing in on the location of the two Gems. And, as you can probably guess, the Gems are in a pretty inhospitable place.
Oh, look! It’s Giganto, the massive whale-like monster that lives at the bottom of the ocean and is frequently used by Namor to attack the pesky land-dwellers of Earth. The turtles want to part of Giganto, and quickly flee, leaving the Pet’s to survive on their own. They realize that they’re pretty outclassed at this point, and do their best to quietly follow the turtles to safety. Unfortunately, Hairball had been having a bit of a claustrophobic panic attack, and it finally reached the point where he couldn’t take it anymore, and started screaming about all the water. And, this scream is enough to wake Giganto up, who moves surprisingly quickly, and is able to swallow the Pet’s in one bite.
The Pets then find themselves inside Giganto’s gullet, living out their Pinocchio fantasies. They’re all a little worried about this, and Hairball ends up venting his anger by attacking Ms. Lion, who has been getting on his nerves this entire journey. Ms. Lion runs away, and ends up locating the yellow Reality Gem and the green Soul Gem just sitting in Giganto’s mouth. They pass out the Gems, giving Reality to Zabu and Soul to Hairball. Which only leaves the red Power Gem left. Luckily, Lockjaw has a good feeling about where it’s located. Unluckily, he feels like he’s running out of strength, and only have one good teleport left in him before a rest was needed. So, they all grab a hold of Lockjaw, and he teleports them to the location of the final Gem.
Yep. The Power Gem is at the White House. Where specifically? Why, attached to the collar of Bo, the dog that belonged to the Obama family of course! The Pet’s don’t know this though, and they find a more pressing problem to deal with before they track down the Gem. That final teleport wiped Lockjaw out, and he’s now fast asleep. They realize they can’t abandon each other, so the other Pets begin rolling a massive bulldog around, breaking into the White House so they can track down the final Gem. This proves difficult, but Throg ends up getting an idea, and has them all stuff into a package that can be delivered into the White House kitchen.
Once they’re inside the White House, they begin making their way through the building, dragging Lockjaw along with them. And, while doing so, they end up coming across Bo, who comes to investigate what’s going on. They quickly realize that the Power Gem was attached to his collar and try to grab him. But, Bo isn’t interested in letting a strange little frog steal his collar, and runs off through the White House. The Pets chase after Bo, and eventually end up outside, where they find that someone else has already caught up to Bo.
The Mad Titan has finally arrived! Thanos has apparently been looking for the Infinity Gems this whole time, and has finally tracked them down to the White House, where the Pet Avengers have so helpfully assembled them for him. He pulls the Power Gem out of Bo’s collar, and begins mocking the Pets, laughing at the very idea that a bunch of mere animals have been acquiring the Gems, and makes it clear that he has no problem slaying them and taking the Gems from them. Which shouldn’t be too terribly hard, since the one Gem that he does have is the Power Gem, which will give him a massive amount of strength and energy.
The Pets aren’t sure how to handle this situation, which is made even more complicated by the fact that Thanos can’t understand any of them. Throg is convinced they can take him though, since they have five Infinity Gems of their own, and says they need to think fast and come up with a bit of strategy. Unfortunately, Hairball has no interest in patience or strategy, and leaps right at Thanos, figuring a direct assault makes the most sense. But, he’s clearly going to be destroyed, and even though Hairball has been verbally and physically abusive towards him the entire time, Ms. Lion decides to push Hairball out of the way right as Thanos uses the Power Gem to unleash a torrent of deadly energy.
Every one of the Pets are horrified at the sudden and brutal death of Ms. Lion. Especially Hairball. He becomes instantly repentant, and runs up to Ms. Lion’s limp form. But, luckily, Hairball is the current wielder of the Soul Gem, which has the ability to manipulate the souls of the living and the dead, and without entirely being aware of what he’s doing, Hairball uses the Gem to bring Ms. Lion back to life. Because of course he did, this is a children’s comic, they’re not going to let Aunt May’s dog be brutally killed by Thanos in front of the White House!
The Pets are in awe at the power that the Gems are truly capable of, and Thanos begins mocking them. He makes a grandstanding speech, telling them that the Gems can give their users complete control of the universe, and that it’s his destiny to wield them all and become like unto a god. You know, like he always does. He promises that he’s going to defeat the Pets, take their Gems, and become the most powerful being in the universe, at which point he’ll then destroy all of the universe’s civilizations. He offers the Pets to just give up and hand over the Gems peacefully.
The Pets then begin assaulting Thanos, using their unique abilities and Gems to attack the Mad Titan. Throg wails on him with his hammer and lightning, Zabu slashes him with his talons, Hairball fires his force balls at him, Lockheed breathes his fire, and Redwing caries Ms Lion off to safety. But, while their direct assault does surprise Thanos a bit, they just aren’t strong enough to defeat him. He eventually gets his bearings and is able to use the Power Gem to attack them, taking down Zabu, Hairball, Lockheed, and Redwing. So, things aren’t going well. Throg desperately asks Lockjaw to do something, and Lockjaw seems to realize that they’ve been placed in an impossible position.
He considers attacking Thanos, but realizes that that he would never be able to defeat him. Thanos gloats a bit, and tells Lockjaw that he’ll happily kill the rest of the Pet Avengers unless Lockjaw stands down and gives him the Gems. Lockjaw thinks about it, and ends up giving in. Even though Throg is horrified, Lockjaw begins picking up the fallen Infinity Gems, clearly intending to hand them over to the Mad Titan. Throg even starts yelling at him, putting Bo’s collar on Lockjaw to symbolize him being a coward. Throg sticks the Gems onto the collar, and pushes Lockjaw forward. Which is when their trap is sprung.
Yeah, Lockjaw has tried to pull one over on Thanos. He uses the combined might of his five Gems to unleash a torrent of energy on Thanos, knocking him to the ground. But, Thanos has a lot of experience wielding the Gems, and is able to survive the attack. And, to make matters worse, Thanos explains that the Power Gem is able to control the other Gems, so the longer this fight goes on the more likely it’ll be that Thanos will be able to take control of Lockjaw’s Gems and win the battle. Which means that Lockjaw is going to have to do something to keep Thanos on his toes.
So, when they get close enough to each other, Lockjaw uses his Inhuman ability to begin teleporting Thanos and himself all over the planet, trying to throw Thanos off his game. And it kind of works. Thanos isn’t able to gain control of the Gems, but he’s also not tiring. So, Lockjaw decides to do something a little extreme. He lunges at Thanos, getting the Power Gem close enough so that he could control them all, and he uses that essentially omnipotent power in tandem with his own teleportation abilities in order to send Thanos into another dimension, trapping him there so he can never return. Lockjaw then comes back to the White House to meet with his friends. They celebrate over the destruction of Thanos, and decide to go their separate ways, but only after Lockjaw uses the Mind Gem to create a mental link so that the Pets will always be in contact with each other, and will be able to reunite if the need is ever found. Lockjaw then returns to Attilan with the Gems and gives them to Reed Richards for safe keeping.
This story is so wonderfully silly, and I love it. Yeah, I dove back into another all-ages story to find a particularly ridiculous tale of Thanos’ numerous defeats. But it’s just so fun. It’s also incredibly how insanely deep into Marvel Comics this mini-series gets. I did some research, and apparently this story technically takes place in a different universe from the normal continuity. Specifically Earth – 97161 if you need to know that. But I think that that’s just done in order to explain away the fact that Thanos was beaten up by a bunch of Pets because of his trademark hubris. But, despite that, this book is cast with some incredibly deep-cut characters, all of whom are an absolute delight. Throg isn’t a very common character, but then this story throw out Ms. Lion, possibly one of the most confounding references they possibly could. Hell, this story even brings up the real life dog of the Obamas, letting Bo become an honorary Pet Avenger. It’s just all so ridiculous, but in the exact way that I love. It’s about a group of friends getting together to do the right thing, no matter what. They’re incredibly outclassed, but they don’t give up. They have a duty to do the right thing, and they pull it off. Because they’re heroes! And Thanos is incredibly bad at what he does.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers was written by Chris Eliopoulos, penciled by Ig Guara, colored by Chris Sotomayor, and lettered by Nate Piekos, 2009.
Categories: Marvel Madness