(Dec. 2000 - Jan. 2001)
Title: Maximum Security Limited Series
Story: Kurt Busiek
Art: Jerry Ordway
Summary: An interstellar council, led by Shi'ar Majestrix Lilandra Neramani covenes to address growing concerns about the interstellar presence of Earth's superhumans. The Council, joined by the mysterious new race called the Ruul, decide to curtail the impact of Earth on the interstellar stage by turning the solar system into a intergalactic penal colony! Criminals from throughout known space are then transported to the Sol system and sentenced to life on Earth. The Council views this as an ideal solution: alien races can rid themselves of their own criminal element and the influx of alien lifeforms will either wipe out Earth's champions or at the very least, keep them very occupied!!!!
As Earth is overwhelmed by alien activity, the Avengers and other super-heroes respond. At the center of it all is the newly outfitted USAgent, who wastes no time in "recruiting" the Avengers' help. Together, they launch an attack on the floating citadel which appears to be the source of the alien invasion. There, the Avengers are swiftly defeated and come face-to-face with Ronan the Accuser. Ronan explains the Council's decision to quarantine the Earth system and establish a penal colony there. he also informs them that he has been appointed the warden! Warbird questions Ronan's new role, especially given the Kree defeat at the hands of the Shi'ar. Why would he serve those who had conquered his people?
Refusing to be questioned, Ronan transports our heroes home, where they find that things have gone from bad to worse! A bioform containing the sentient planet, Ego has been released on Earth and unless it's stopped, it will consume the planet!
The Earth quickly becomes a battlefield! Alien criminals fight against Earth's champions across the globe. Meanwhile, efforts to contain and stop the spread of the Ego-spore continue to prove fruitless. In his efforts to coordinate these efforts, the USAgent stumbles upon the truth behind the Ruul...that they are not a new race, but Kree!
Using access codes stolen by Warbird, Goliath and the X-Men (See Summary for X-Men Unlimited #29), Earth's heroes take the battle to space and face the Ruul. They learn that the whole situation has been engineered by the Supreme Inteligence who used the Forever Crystal that he obtained during Avengers Forever to re-write the Kree's genetic history. Instead of being at the dead-end of their genetic evolution, the Kree were transformed and imbued with the ability to adapt to any need or environment! They then "re-appeared" as the Ruul and set the Council against Earth to distract their forces so that the Kree might re-assert themselves as a galactic force to be reckoned with. They also released the Ego-spore and proceeded to drain its power and transfer it to Ronan! However, the plans of the Supreme Intelligence did not account for the ingenuity and persistance of Earth's heroes or the wrath of the alien criminals consigned to Earth.
Using plans secured by the X-Man Gambit, the super-scientists of Earth devise a means to re-deposit the Ego entity into a human host. While Earth's heroes battle an Ego-powered Ronan, the super-scientists try in vain to transfer the Ego essence to the Silver Surfer. The Surfer proves unable to contain it but Quasar volunteers. The more adaptive Quantum power proves compatible with the Ego-essence and the power of Ego drains from Ronan, who is easily bested by the remaining heroes of Earth. Quasar leaves for space once again, exiled until another means of releasing Ego safely can be found. The Council, now occupied with a war against the newly rejuvenated Kree, realize their error and remove the alien legions from Earth. Earth begins to rebuild in the aftermath and the USAgent sinks his teeth into his new role.
NOTES: Carol gets very little play in this series, despite her ties to the Kree, Starjammers and Lilandra *sigh*. The story did help to restore the Kree to prominence in galactic affairs and we learned that Carol and the USAgent rub each other the WRONG way!