|Publication date||December 2000 – January 2001|
"Maximum Security" is a comic book story line and company-wide crossover that ran through a three-issue, self-titled limited series and individual issues of the other titles published by Marvel Comics with a cover date of either December 2000 or January 2001. In it, a multitude of alien civilizations that have previously interacted with Earth join forces to prevent humans from interfering further with galactic affairs. To accomplish this, they designate Earth as a penal colony.
The miniseries and its crossover in the pages of Avengers were written by Kurt Busiek.
Marvel collected half of the story arc in trade paperback on November 24, 2010.
In December 2000, Marvel Comics published Maximum Security: Dangerous Planet, which recapped relevant events and set up the crossover's main plot. All three issues of Maximum Security were published in January 2001. Most other comics from the publisher that month tied into the event, if only marginally.
While not carrying the "Maximum Security" banner, plotlines from the earlier miniseries Avengers Forever (1999) and Avengers Infinity (2000) were concluded in Maximum Security.
Writer Kurt Busiek stated that he wrote the story out of 'self-defense', having been told that Marvel was looking for a big crossover story and that he either had to come up with one, or he'd be participating in someone else's.
His original synopsis was for a story called 'Y2KANG' where when the clock ticked over at midnight of New Year's Eve 1999, it became 1900 again and all the Marvel characters would be turn-of-the-century versions of themselves. However, by the time Marvel stated this was the story they wanted to do, it couldn't be solicited until April 2000 and wouldn't have made any sense.
Busiek's second suggestion was 'Maximum Security', the concept of which was influenced by Australian history and how the British used Australia as a place to dump convicts, too far away from Britain for them to escape and return. Busiek thought it would be fun if the galactic powers that be viewed Earth the same way, dumping their criminals here and not caring about what happened to the natives.
Busiek needed someone to play the 'alien cop' and chose U.S. Agent, saying that he hadn't been used much lately and was inspired by the character. He was influenced by Tommy Lee Jones character from the movie The Fugitive because he was 'a tough, no nonsense Federal Agent who didn't care about your sob stories, just that if you broke the law you were going to jail', considering the characters personality to be 'very USAgent-y.'
Thor, Tigra, Starfox, Quasar, Moondragon, Photon and the Jack of Hearts become the temporary Avengers Infinity squad when they travel into space and encounter a group of cosmic entities called the Infinites. The Infinites planned to rearrange galaxies (destroying all life in those galaxies in the process) in order to improve the flow of their energies. The heroes convinced the Infinites not to destroy the Earth and the other threatened planets. At the end, the unofficial team began to make their way to an intergalactic bar.
Meanwhile, at the Intergalactic Council, the Skrull ambassador files a formal complaint against humans, charging that Professor X and a band of Skrull mutants, known as Cadre K, have been interfering in the extermination of other Skrull mutants. The Council is attacked by Ego the Living Planet, and are rescued by Professor X and Cadre K. A new race, the Ruul, help to miniaturize and imprison Ego. Despite the human assistance, the council sides with the Skrulls and vote to take action against Earth.
Earth's solar system is surrounded by a force field, and Earth is turned into a prison for intergalactic criminals, reasoning that the criminals will keep Earth too occupied to do anything about the wider universe. Ronan the Accuser acts as warden from an orbiting space craft. The Avengers learn the miniaturized Ego was among the aliens condemned to Earth, and that he is expanding and becoming one with the Earth. At the rate it grows, it could possibly assimilate the entire planet Earth within a week.
Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Silver Surfer work to stop Ego from expanding. Meanwhile, Cadre K are trying to convince the Intergalactic Council to reverse its actions, but are resisted by the Skrull Ambassador. On Earth, people are rallying the alien criminals to fight back against Ronan.
Meanwhile, at a S.H.I.E.L.D. base on the moon, the Ruul release their leader, the Supreme Intelligence. At the same time, Cadre K is imprisoned as a result of their interruption of the council meeting.
While the Avengers Infinity group are held by the Shi'ar, the Ruul imprison them under the orders of the Supreme Intelligence. The Supreme Intelligence tells them how he made use of the Destiny Crystal, a device of great power he recently acquired. He used the crystal to accelerate the evolution of the Kree, creating the Ruul, who then manipulated the Council in a plan to get revenge on and destroy the Avengers and Earth. He will then use Ego's power as a weapon to expand the Kree empire.
U.S. Agent persuades the alien prisoners to fight on the side of Earth. He takes command of the Avengers and all the other heroes they can find, and leads an attack on Ronan's Citadel. During the battle, the Avengers Infinity team free themselves and teleport to the Intergalactic Council. Moondragon telepathically explains the true situation to the council members. The Supreme Intelligence appears in front of the council and admits the truth, but claims that it is too late to stop it.
Using information obtained by Gambit, Quasar is able to absorb Ego into his Quantum Bands. Ronan is defeated, and the Supreme Intelligence's plan fails. Quasar decides to leave Earth to avoid the risk of unleashing Ego again. The Council removes the alien criminals from Earth, and decide to take no further action against humans for the time being.
Some of the issues are collected in the Avengers/X-Men: Maximum Security TPB (ISBN 978-0785144991):
The rest of the issues remain uncollected: