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Comic Book / Avengers Standoff

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Not so pleasant...

Avengers Standoff is a 2016 Bat Family Crossover published by Marvel Comics, told across the Avengers line of comics in the All-New, All-Different Marvel universe.

Pleasant Hill seems like an idyllic community on the surface, but when a deadly secret comes to light, even the combined might of estranged allies Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson —the Captains America of past and present— can't keep it contained.

Announced at New York Comic Con 2015, this crossover launched with an alpha issue written by Nick Spencer (Astonishing Ant-Man, Captain America: Sam Wilson). The main plot was told through the following titles:

  • Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1
  • Avengers Standoff — Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1
  • Captain America: Sam Wilson #7
  • Captain America: Sam Wilson #8
  • Avengers Standoff — Assault on Pleasant Hill Omega #1

While the following issues also tied into the story:

As with other crossover events, Standoff will result in two notable changes to the Marvel Universe status quo: Steve Rogers' youth will be restored and he'll return to the Captain America mantle (alongside Sam Wilson), while a new Thunderbolts team —led by the Winter Soldier— will emerge.

Though similar in concept, Marvel has claimed Avengers Standoff is completely unrelated to Civil War II, which was set to launch immediately after this story concludes.

Avengers Standoff provides examples of the following:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Heavily implied with Uncanny Avengers #7 with the Masters of Evil taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. and Pleasant Hill.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Jim is heavily implied to be Bucky Barnes but turns out to be Baron Zemo.
    • Same goes with Jim's mysterious benefactor, who is implied to be Tony Stark, but turns out to be The Fixer.
  • Bat Family Crossover: For the Captain America line; bringing Steve and his Avengers Unity Squad, Sam and his ANAD Avengers, and Bucky all under one event for the first time in years.
  • Big Bad: Two of them: Maria Hill and Baron Zemo, though Zemo becomes the true Big Bad after he frees all the villains and run havoc on Pleasant Hill.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Avengers are no longer at each other's throats, Steve Rogers is back in action and sharing the name Captain America with Sam Wilson, Pleasant Hill is shut down, Maria Hill is punished for her actions, a new Quasar is being trained and Rick Jones is recruited by Steve Rogers for more altruistic manners. However, Avengers Island has been lost to S.H.I.E.L.D., Kobik is on the run with Bucky and the old members of the Thunderbolts, Baron Zemo and Erik Selvig are MIA and the Red Skull is on the move. Oh, and the rejuvenated Steve now believes himself to be a secret HYDRA agent.
  • Book Ends: Outside of Avengers Standoff Alpha and Omega, there's the Call-Back to the teenage Tony.
  • Call-Back: The introduction page reprints a set of panels from Captain America: Sam Wilson #1 with Maria Hill disproving the things that were leaked, the actions setting off Sam Wilson's change in attitude. She was lying through her teeth and it proves that Sam had every right to be completely distrustful.
    • When listing off the theories Sam had heard about The Whisperer's true identity, he mentions that one of the most recent ones gaining traction was that it was a Teenage Tony Stark; a call-back to the alternate version of the character fused with the mainline Tony after Onslaught.
  • Came Back Strong: The Hulk's Extremis cure for Rick Jones' A-Bomb from pre-Secret Wars (2015) turned out to make him smarter, leading him to become the hacker known as Whisperer.
  • Canon Immigrant: Dr. Erik Selvig makes his main universe comic book debut in "Welcome to Pleasant Hill".
  • Characterization Marches On: Kraven's successful plan to capture Kobik by setting up a little girl's birthday party complete with pointy pink party hats suggests that his current role in the Marvel Universe is to be a villainous example of someone who is lighthearted and goofy yet surprisingly effective. It probably helps that he's been running into Squirrel Girl regularly since the "All New, All Different" reboot.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Towards the event's end, Kobik warps reality to restore Steve Rogers to physical and mental perfection... rewriting his memories so that he believes he was a Hydra sleeper agent in the process, due to her having been indoctrinated by the Red Skull into thinking Hydra are good.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Rick Jones, able to fight back against trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agents using U.S. Agent's shield and the Ringmaster's hat. When those are confiscated from him, he falls back on a stash of gear he swiped from Taskmaster.
  • Cruel Mercy: Zemo shoots three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents dead and leaves two in bomb vests, considering mercy compared to being brainwashed in Pleasant Hill.
  • Debate and Switch: Whether or not Pleasant Hill is an ethical thing to do or solves the dual problem of the Cardboard Prison and Joker Immunity is barely addressed. Both Rogers' and Hill's arguments are rendered moot when the inmates regain their original identities and assault the prison.
  • Defector from Decadence: On learning of what's happened to The Whisperer, Hawkeye makes it clear he's fed up with S.H.I.E.L.D's morally compromised actions, and quits.
  • Depending on the Writer: No one writer seems to write Kobik the same. The Kobik who showed up in the beginning as well as the Captain America: Sam Wilson entry comes off as playful yet frightened, yet the Kobik who appears in the Uncanny Avengers, All-New, All-Different Avengers and Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. comes off as a Creepy Child who wants everyone to "play" The Thunderbolts book that spun off this event ends up combining the two interpretations of Kobik.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: The repowered Steve nearly takes off Whiplash's head when he punches him. He sheepishly admits he forgot how strong he could be.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Orrgo, part of the Howling Commandos, who was turned into a Pomeranian. However, it turns out that Orrgo was framed for his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The Howling Commandos entry of the storyline has the team being able to take down Kobik, but she throws a tantrum and sends the team away, leaving the heroics now to the Avengers.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Zemo considers being brainwashed in Pleasant Hill to be this, likening it to torture. The reactions of the villains when they're freed suggests they concur.
  • Funny Background Event: While Zemo makes a grandiose speech to his followers about his plans using the hostages as leverage, Quicksilver, Vision and Brother Voodoo covertly rescue them.
  • Fly Or Die: Rogue invokes this on both Johnny Storm and Kamala Khan, setting Johnny on fire and taking Kamala airborne.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Sam opens his role in the event by bringing down The Green Skull, a lunatic environmentalist who believes the only way to stop the damage to the environment is to destroy the human race.
  • Goo-Goo-Godlike: Kobik is a cosmic cube with godlike power with the body and mind of a small child.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: after the event, Captain America: Steve Rogers showed that the Red Skull ordered Selvig to pitch the idea of Pleasant Hill to Maria Hill causing him to be the true mastermind behind the event.
  • Hated by All: Ever since he took a stand against S.H.I.E.L.D. and Maria Hill's plans, Sam's been dragged through the mud by the media as a traitor. He can't even bring in The Green Skull without a crowd gathering to demand he turn in his shield.
  • He's Back!:
    • This story will end with the return of Steve Rogers' youth, allowing him to be Captain America alongside Sam Wilson. This is marred by the fact it's actually the debut of the HYDRAified Captain America with the real Steve's return not happening until later.
    • Welcome to Pleasant Hill brings back Baron Zemo and the Fixer, the latter instrumental in bringing the former back.
    • Avengers: Standoff Alpha brings back Rick Jones, revealed to be the whistleblower
    • Avengers: Standoff Omega brings back the original Quasar.
  • Legion of Doom: Zemo's reformed Masters of Evil, including the likes of Atlas, Moonstone, Fixer, Tiger Shark and Trapster.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Essentially what Kobik does to you - suppresses all of your former memories and draws out a "good you".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kobik causes Selvig and Zemo to be teleported to the Himalayas while the World Security Council all but strip Maria Hill of her position as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for her screw-ups in Pleasant Hill.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: All-New All-Different has Sam Wilson's Avengers fighting the Unity Squad.
    • Iron Man actually lampshades this trope and tries to immediately makes sure they make peace with Unity Squad as soon as they land. It probably would've worked if Maria Hill hadn't prematurely attacked the Unity Squad.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: This event seems to exclude some of the titles in the extended Avengers line — A-Force, The Ultimates, and Squadron Supreme won't be tying into this story. This is because they are in storylines of their own that doesn't allow them to break away to participate.
  • Me's a Crowd: There are two Maria Hills. It's assumed that the Maria Hill rescued by the Unity Squad is the real one and the Maria Hill that's recruited the ANAD Avengers is a fake. Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 reveals they're both fake - the real one was still in Pleasant Hill.
  • Mysterious Waif: A child with black hair, large black eyes and speaks in a purple word bubble. Maria Hill wants her monitored at all times and Zemo wants her period. Assault of Pleasant Hill Alpha reveals that she's the Cosmic Cube fragments given life.
  • Mythology Gag: The big reveal of Zemo and the Fixer as the main characters in "Welcome to Pleasant Hill" has a lot of similarities to the famous twist ending of Thunderbolts Volume 1 #1, up to and including being drawn by the same artist.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The only reason the Trapster is part of Zemo's team is because the Fixer needed a guinea pig.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kobik finally realizes that turning people into her Cosmic Plaything is a bad thing by reading Deadpool's mind.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: S.H.I.E.L.D. provides a fake identity to Fixer in Pleasant Hill as a garage mechanic, which eventually leads to him subconsciously coming up with new devices including one that breaks the illusion of what Pleasant Hill really is.
  • No Kill like Overkill: The first New Avengers tie-in issue has Quake and Agent Simmon's reaction to White Tiger, Pod and Power Man breaking into the S.H.I.E.L.D. Battlecarrier, where their first act is to not try and knock out and disable the two youths, but for Quake to start an earthquake inside Pod, with the intent of destroying her internal organs.
  • Oh, Crap!: Crossbones gleefully beats up Old Man Rogers as the latter attempts to protect Kobik from him. He quickly changes his tune when Kobik restores Cap to full health and power.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe, Tony's time as a teenager, so much that Thor and Vision have to remind Tony that he said never to mention that again.
  • The Reveal: Welcome to Pleasant Hill ends with a two-fer:
    • Pleasant Hill is actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility run by Maria Hill for the purpose of brainwashing super-villains into peaceful members of society.
    • "Jim", whom the reader is led to believe is an amnesiac Bucky Barnes is actually an amnesiac Baron Zemo.
    • The person who made the leaks about the project (a.k.a. the Whisperer from Captain America: Sam Wilson) is revealed to be Rick Jones.
    • A priest who helps out Steve Rogers in getting Maria Hill help in Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 is revealed to be the Red Skull.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: As thanks for helping them out, Deadpool tosses the Wrecker out of the Unity Squad's helicopter and tells him to keep searching for the Red Skull.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Rick Jones' real superpower isn't his amazing hacking skills or collection of super-gadgets, but the fact that his Christmas card list includes pretty much every major superhero on the planet.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • The Wrecker is leading the charge in trying to get away from Pleasant Hill after it all goes to hell.
    • Rick Jones bails on A.I.M. because one operative went a little crazy on the maniacal laughter. Sunspot's not happy about losing him.
  • Sequel Hook: Bucky reunites with Kobik, who brings along her "friends" in the former members of the Thunderbolts, the new Quasar is shown being trained by the original and the Red Skull is planning something devious.
  • Shout-Out: There's a groundskeeper in Pleasant Hill named "Willie." Maria even chides Steve for not getting the reference.
    • Thunderbolts artist Jon Malin drew a sing that says "Shell Beach" on the Thudnerbolt's tie-in issue.
  • Spotting the Thread: How Rogue is able to escape being under Kobik's influence. Some wonderful training by Xavier helped out with that.
    • Also, Thor gets asked if she's OK fighting without her hammer, and she says she still feels the power of the Thunder God. But she should've lost said power if she was separated from Mjolnir. This causes them to realise that Mjolnir, Nova's helmet, Cable's techno-organic arm, and their costumes (which the group previously thought SHIELD had stashed away somewhere) aren't missing - just as Deadpool gets through to Kobik, who restores everybody to normal.
  • Start of Darkness: In the US government's eyes, the Avengers Idea Mechanics getting involved by retrieving Rick Jones from the SHIELD Battlecarrier is this. To the point where they decide to unleash the American Kaiju on them.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Pleasant Hill is said to be this. It's a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility to hold super villains to turn them into peaceful members of society.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Kobik's powers. She's able to take out both the All-New, All-Different Avengers and the Unity Squad without blinking and is able to send away the Howling Commandos after they defeat her.
  • Superdickery: After the All-New All-Different Avengers crash the Quinjet they keep trying to explain that it's all a misunderstanding the Unity Squad remains aggressive and irrationalnote .
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: A group of SHIELD agents shirk their monitoring duties to watch football on the screens instead, resulting in them not noticing Bucky launching an attack until it's too late.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Maria Hill tells Steve that, after everyone was all rounded up, she wanted to put herself in Pleasant Hill, meaning she knew what she was doing was wrong and wanted to atone for it.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The central conflict of this story involves rivaling factions to work together, i.e. both Captains America, and the different Avengers teams.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Deadpool tears into Tony after he starts questioning why he's an Avenger, tired of everyone else questioning him.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The heroes realize that since Kobik is little more than a scared child, they need someone to talk to her, calm her down, and offer guidance. Mass "Oh, Crap!" ensues when the first person to reach her is Deadpool. However, his unique combination of humor and tragedy seem to be just what she needs.
  • True Companions: Both Steve and Sam apologize for their actions and patch up their friendship with Steve reassuring Sam that just because he's repowered doesn't mean that Sam's no longer Captain America. Steve also apologizes to Bucky for not keeping in touch more.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha splits the plot in twain. Captain America, All-New, All-Different and Uncanny Avengers titles deal with the storming of the town while New Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. deal with Rick Jones and trying to keep Pleasant Hill a secret long enough to get it shut down. Howling Commandos and Illuminati deal with two characters trapped in the town.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Maria Hill. Trying to reform supervillains into peaceful members of society and trying to find a solution to the Cardboard Prison problem is nice and all, but capturing them and brainwashing them into this? Not so much. However, this gets a little more worrying with Uncanny Avengers #7 when Maria Hill tells Rogue that she has a place for them in there as well - she's not going after supervillains, she's willing to toss superheroes as well, even reformed ones.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Steve Rogers is really furious about knowing Maria Hill lied and kept Pleasant Hill running.
    • Agent Coulson isn't happy, either, stating specifically that if Pleasant Hill got out, it would destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. forever.
    • Basically everyone is pissed off about Pleasant Hill, most especially the villains. One was willing to quit villainy and took solace in the belief of some public comeuppance, but after hearing there was a press conference for the rejuvenated Steve Rogers he attempted to assassinate him. He calls out Sam on not appearing to do anything either after publicly declaring himself more proactive.
    • The World Security Council also tear her a new one, especially for losing Kobik.
  • You Are in Command Now: Sunspot kicks Squirrel Girl, Wiccan, Hulkling and Tippy Toe into the desert when they want to talk to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of trying to break out Rick Jones. They think they they've been booted from the team, only to have Sunspot tell them that, because of what they're planning to do, they're now the New Avengers.