AVENGERS. “And There Came Another Day…”

There are some interesting threads on this forum, already covering issues of Marvel’s early series – ‘re-reading’’ of the Avengers and Journey into Mystery/Thor and so on and there was quite a good issue by issue thread on the Invaders around too, until it caught up with the present.
What is more rarely discussed are the later periods when these series were in full flow and while perhaps less iconic still number among them some classics…

I therefore present to you an issue by issue critique/discussion forum for one of these mainstay Marvel titles.
Not beginning at the very debut – as others have that covered well – but (and I hope I don’t step on anyone’s creative toes here!) – I would like to pick up the Avengers title after a watershed/bookend issue provided an opportune point at which to begin …
Issue #100 featured all Avengers to that point together in one tale and everything that goes before it is pretty well easily contained by then. The next issue launches the title into its second century of publishing and its next phase of greatness…

What has gone before…?
And so there came a Day…

The formation of the team.
The Hulk leaving. Captain America’s return. The Original members giving way to Cap’s kooky Quartet.
Goliath and Wasp returning. Hercules coming and going. The creation of Ultron. The arrival of the Vision.
Yellow jacket Hawkeye as Goliath II and then back again. The Squadron Sinister/Supreme. The Kree-Skrull War and of course…the Lady Liberators!
(I’m sure you’ll have your own highlights!)

And so there came ANOTHER Day…

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AVENGERS  #101 (07/72)

Plot – Harlan Ellison  Script- Roy Thomas

Art – Rich Buckler & Dan Adkins

Cover Art – Rich Buckler & Frank Giacoia

“Five Dooms To Save Tomorrow!” 

We are firmly in the era of Marvel covers having the action in a box within the cover which was eventually discarded (too restrictive for the art perhaps) but it worked better when the borders were dark as here.

Rick Buckler’s art took over from the last few issues (including that anniversary 100th) by Barry Windsor Smith and he is allowed to draw the cover here too.

Was Buckler instructed to try to make his art look like the incredibly popular Neal Adams at this point because clearly he is trying very hard to achieve that.  I like this cover, despite the bare rear of the antagonist in the main eye-line!

Just take a look at the hands here, was Buckler perfecting his technique or what? Every finger of every character is differently and dramatically posed. I also applaud the drama in the figures of the Vision and Quicksilver here, a quality cover.

Note also the crossed armed figure of the Vision at the top left, this replaced the roll-call box at issue #93 and becomes a mainstay of the cover design for a very long time reinforcing how important the android was to this era of the team.

As for the team, we have Thor, Iron Man and Captain America (as per the cover masthead announcements) together with the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Hawkeye. Only 7 active Avengers - ah those were the days…

Much is made of the story being ‘based on an original story 1964 by Harlan Ellison” and “used by permission”.

Ellison even gets a cover credit.

I’m not really sure of the draw of Ellison at this point but I don’t really see that much of an original spin/plot in this story that needed to be inspired by anyone. ?

The story begins well enough with a dramatic televised chess match between human grand master and computer, ‘policed’ by the Avengers.

The Grand master is murdered by poisoned pawn or something and the Avengers shout a lot and get Thor/Don Blake to try to save him but he’s left in, “a coma…from which he may never recover!” – We’re not told if he does recover…I always presumed he died which kind of takes the glow off the final victory.

Anyway, the Vision works out (because he’s a computer/android/know-it-all) there was a murderer behind the scenes and we meet/fight Leonard Tippet (yes, a deliberately ‘everyman’ name) who glows yellow, defeats the Vision but is felled by one blow from his ‘idol’ Captain America.

We suddenly get a shift in the story as we join Tippet two days previously as he wakes from a dream to be confronted by the otherworldly Watcher .

(pause to remember the backdrop of Original Sin and sigh…)

The Watcher tells Tippet that he must kill five people who in some unavoidable future will produce children that will ultimately destroy the earth.

Tippet is given amazing powers and sent out to do his duty.

With this info now to hand we travel the world with the Avengers, trying to prevent Tippet from what they see as pointless murders.

They individually fail and Tippet collapses, his powers low.

The Watcher then reveals that Tippet truly  had his own power and was the threat to the planet, the Watcher had conned him into setting himself against the Avengers so that his powers would be drained in their battle and at that point only the Watcher would be able to trap Tippet and hide him away…to save the world.

Having heard all that, Tippet pleads with the Avengers to let him go and achieve something by his sacrifice.

Thus ends this bittersweet tale. 

Um...okay…but if Tippet was such a reasonable guy why wasn’t he asked if he’d go quietly before he killed 5 people?

Couldn’t the Watcher have just clued the Avengers in a bit earlier and saved those five lives? 

It’s a plot full of holes…sorry Harlan! 

Art wise it’s a triumph and I both love the appearance of the Watcher (old-style fatty – not later fat-head!) but still find it hard to stomach Hawkeye’s Grecian look. 

Oh, at the opening chess games a member of the audience comments about the Vision…”He’s an android isn’t he? In a war between men and machines, I wonder which side he’d be on!?” – does Bendis claim this as the earliest reference to his ‘Age of Ultron’?? 

Done in one, this is a healthy pause beat in the Avengers narrative…and an excellent place to begin this thread.

 

Any comments anyone…? 

Please…Come Back soon…you won’t believe who else does…!

This is not one of my favorite issues. A while back I had considered posting about “The Avengers’ Red-Headed Step-Children” (issues #178-180, 202-210, etc.) and #101 would have been one of them. I believe Roy Thomas wrote something about how this non-Avengers Harlan Ellison short story came to be adapted in the Marvel Masterworks edition which collected it. I haven’t read the original, but I hope it reads better than the adaptation.

Buckler is something of an artistic chameleon. He does a pretty mean Kirby, too (my favorite of his styles when he’s not working in his own). Under-rated in my book. Regarding the Watcher, going back to FF #13, I’d say the “fat head” is old style; “fatty” came later (FF #48).

Sorry about that Jeff, I do get confused with Uatu as I first encountered him in the FF's Galactus epic and always think of that as his '1st appearance' when of course it was nothing of the sort.

Thankyou for the explanation regarding deletion of posts - as I have taken it and hope the right stuff survives!.

Also - I am in total agreement regarding your 'Red-Headed Step-Children' - it'll be a while before I get to them though...!

Thanks for joining in.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

This is not one of my favorite issues. A while back I had considered posting about “The Avengers’ Red-Headed Step-Children” (issues #178-180, 202-210, etc.) and #101 would have been one of them. I believe Roy Thomas wrote something about how this non-Avengers Harlan Ellison short story came to be adapted in the Marvel Masterworks edition which collected it. I haven’t read the original, but I hope it reads better than the adaptation.

Buckler is something of an artistic chameleon. He does a pretty mean Kirby, too (my favorite of his styles when he’s not working in his own). Under-rated in my book. Regarding the Watcher, going back to FF #13, I’d say the “fat head” is old style; “fatty” came later (FF #48).

It's amazing how many times the Watcher did more than just watch. Did he ever warn all those worlds that Galactus ate? He seems to favor Earth for some reason, not unlike the bit about Hal Jordan being the greatest Green Lantern. Somehow the writers injected a little subconscious "human racial superiority" into the stories.

Roy Thomas on Avengers #101:

Avengers #101 was an offbeat little number that probably should’ve been expeanded to two issues.

“A few years earlier, in 1968, the 7th issue of seminal comics fanzine Comic Art, published by Don and Maggie Thompson, had printed a several page synopsis called ‘Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow’ that eminent science-fiction writer (and comics fan) Harlan Ellison had written starring the DC hero Hawkman and had submitted to that character’s editor, Julius Schwartz. Julie had felt the tale a bit too sophisticated for DC readers; so, with Harlan’s blessing, the Thompson’s had changed the names of Hawkman and Hawkgirl to the very transparent ‘Falcon and Greywing,’ a lone illustration had made the identity of the originally intended hero all the more obvious, and it had been printed in their limited-circulation zine instead.

“I had liked the story when I read it there — I’m sure Julie had, as well, since he was a science fiction fan, whatever his professional judgment on its suitability for a DC comic — and I decided to show that my esteemed friend and colleague Julie had been — well, not wrong, exactly, but at least vulnerable to second-guessing. I contacted Harlan (whose plot introducing Jarella, princess of a sub-atomic world, a year earlier, had become the basis of Avengers #88 and The Incredible Hulk #140)…a pittance of money changed hands…and ‘Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow!” became a Marvel adventure starring the Avengers. I like to think it worked at least equally well this way, since our group contained several heroes who could divvy up the various time missions, instead of DC’s Feathered Furies having to work themselves ragged.

“Artist Barry Smith had moved on after Avengers #100 — while just prior to him I’d been blessed to work with super-talents Neal Adams and John Buscema. And my luck held, because relative newcomer Rich Buckler was available to become the new regular Avengers penciler. Rich had already proven himself capable of adapting his style to meet the needs of particular features. If you needed Kirby, he did Kirby…and in the future he would occasionally be criticized, I think unfairly, for doing it all too well. In this case, I didn’t need any one style…but I’m sure Rich knew that something approaching the draftsmanship of the Buscema and Adams issues was called for. And he delivered, ably abetted by the inking of Dapper Dan Adkins.

“I especially liked the story’s starting off at a chess tournament, at which Soviet grandmaster Sporadnik is a last-minute replacement for the meteoric Bobby Fischer. I was no chess fanatic, but I did (and do) love the game, and had played once or twice at the studio of a Russian grandmaster when I’d lived in Greenwich Village. Also during my early days in New York, I’d spent a few hours watching a live chess U.S. championship tournament held at a Manhattan hotel, where my idol Sammy Reshevsky was one of the attractions.

“There was only one slight false start, which is documented by the existence of a 2/3-penciled “page 2” by Rich on which the other Avengers join Thor and Captain America in the Avengers mansion. For some reason, Rich and/ot I decided that it would be better if onlu Hawkeye arrived late.

“If I had ‘Five Dooms’ to do over again, I’d make a real attempt to turn it into a two-part story. Ricj and I were able to (indeed, forced to) make a number of minor adjustments to Harlan’s synopsis in turning it into an Avengers vehicle, and each of those could have been expanded still further: the interplay between the heroes, the dramatic return of the nearly-phased-out Dr. Don Blake, the world-saving missions, Leonard Tippit’s backstory as related by the watcher (an ideal stand-in for the new and untried cosmic beings — “th e Castellans (guards) of Possible Worlds” — that Harlan had created for the original version). Still, even slightly cramped as #102’s 21 pages may be, methinks it got the job done. It was certainly well received by most readers…although I seem to recall that one or two did write in to say the story was a bit too complicated for their tastes. Well, that’s what risk-taking is all about, right?”

Hmmm. This thread actually takes up where my reading of the Avengers Essentials left off. I am a big fan of the Vision, especially in his relationship with Wanda, but I've never gotten around to reading issues 100-150. I understand they're quite good. I should see about following along somehow...

It looks to me like the Watcher gave him those powers, so it's like he's playing some bizarre game with people's lives, very strange for a guy that's supposed to just watch. I read this when it first came out and couldn't figure out the ending. Assuming I was too young at the time (I could barely read) to get the message I tried reading it again a few years ago, and still couldn't figure it out. It looks like the ending was tacked on at the last minute. Perhaps Stan or the Code rejected the original ending? Didn't the Watcher say something at the end about those five people not really being dead? Always wondered why the Falcon, who wasn't an Avenger, showed up in that one story. And then...the Avengers were tossed out and forgot all about the Hulk and Psyclop, leaving the question why even have them try to save the Hulk in the first place if the writer wants them to fail? They needed a fill in issue before the Kree-Skrull War started?

Didn't Rich Buckler almost get into a lot of trouble copying Jack Kirby so closely? I think Jack threatened to sue.

Thankyou Jeff - interesting passage from Roy Thomas there and especially as he seems to come to the same conclusions about the pacing and the shortcomings of the issue as I / we did.

I was curious to see this was originally a DC pitch but "Julie had felt the tale a bit too sophisticated for DC readers;" - that was one of the distinctions I always felt (probably unfairly) at the time - that DC stories were a bit 'basic' and Marvel had some depth to them.

I agree with you though Ron - I found the ending of this tale quite inpenetrable when I first read it and when I re-read it again for this thread I can't say I could get my head aroung the Watcher's motivations at all - which i hope I conveyed.

Oh and Mr Figserello sir - welcome along for the ride of these issues!
I was originally considering starting from #150 as things really get going from there on in ...but...the more I looked the more I wanted to cover #100 - #149 aswell - there are so many gems among them!.
This issue certainly seemed to serve as a good buffer between where the title had been before and where they go to from here on in...I love the next 100 or so issues (mostly!).

Thanks everyone...

AVENGERS  #102 (08/72)

Writer - Roy Thomas

Art – Rich Buckler  Inker - Joe Sinnott

(From an idea suggested by Chris Claremont)

Cover Art – Rich Buckler & Joe Sinnott

“What To do Till The Sentinels Come!” 

I love this cover, who can resist some ‘floating heads’ but the star is that lifeless body in the background.

Inspired character to use.

Oh and for the eagle-eyed among us – (I have waited decades to point this out to someone!!) – look at the swirls on the stomach design – I believe they are wrongly inked here to resemble kind of holes-in-a-metal-belt/girdle rather than the swirls they should be! - and yes that does matter!)

The cover may feature the Vision and the Grim Reaper’s debate over their personal links to the ‘dead’ Wonder Man, but the issue itself is clearly split into two separate plots. 

The opening, features the Vision at his moody/spooky best being offered use of the human body of the man his brainwaves were modeled on – wonder man buy the villainous Grim Reaper  which opened up quite a quandary for our android and an interesting ‘will he betray the team’ sub-plot for a few issues…

The second part of the tale – after the title page which waits until  the 10th and 11th pages to provide the credits  features the return, from out of orbit of the sun – Sentinels from an earlier Roy Thomas epic storyline in the (at this time defunct) X-Men title.

The perfect bridge between these tales are the Scarlet Witch and quicksilver who were actually involved in the X-men story and are now active in the Avengers.

Pietro recaps for us the readers while Wanda gets captured by the big robot guys.

The Avengers vow to find and free her while Quicksilver has a temper tantrum “They call you the Mighty Avengers! What a joke – perhaps the biggest joke of all!”…although the final frame shows him dejected, realising he can’t do much better on his own…

 

I think this signified the very last true Quicksilver-as-an –Avengers issue, he’s never really part of the team again and indeed even an enemy of theirs for a long time.

What do we think, fair readers? How has Pietro been treated through the years?

 

The title of this issue is a bit of a misnomer as they have already arrived and it has always annoyed me, as I like the title but it is not a precise indication of what happens in this issue- unless you count the first half and the title isn’t seen until after that chapter!

 There is a scene where the Scarlet Witch announces her love for the Vision to Hawkeye.

Hawkeye appears shocked – I never accepted his sudden interest in Wanda, it was clearly to add a tinge of jealousy to the Vision’s story but it seemed clumsy and unnecessary to me. 

There is an awful depiction of the new look furry Beast from Amazing Adventures, during the recaps  – they really haven’t yet sorted out what he’ll eventually look ,like have they? 

The sentinel famously refers to the Vision here as…– “Three decades vintage—later modification by addition of solar battery.”   being the first indications that will lead to the revelation that the Vision is the Original Human Torch remodeled…which of course was eventually proved wrong…and then right again…and then kind of wrong and then…

 

Wanda got a different look and hairstyle here, one of the very few times she ever did – I liked it.

It didn’t last. 

Still liking the art here, if anything Buckler seems to be relaxing and this is not quite so clearly Neal Adams homage.

 

We are back in continued storyline territory and so…

…Come back…

The only issue I have with Pietro is that he's had more heel turns/face turns than Triple H.  It really strains credulity each time he comes back and says "Okay, I'm good now. You can trust me again."

Of course, one could say that about pretty much every mutant in the Marvel universe, so....

It's like they started a storyline about the Grim Reaper, stopped halfway through to tell a Sentinels story, then finally got back to the Reaper in #106, as if Roy decided to stop midstory to tie up some loose threads from the cancelled X-Men series.

Richard Mantle said:

Hawkeye appears shocked – I never accepted his sudden interest in Wanda, it was clearly to add a tinge of jealousy to the Vision’s story but it seemed clumsy and unnecessary to me.

I think early on Hawkeye was portrayed as emotionally a 13-year-old, falling in love at the drop of a hat. That's what he did with Black Widow, after all, and he KNEW she was a Soviet spy. I would say his fixating on Wanda and building it up in his mind as a relationship were consistent with that.

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