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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That was just one of the drawbacks from Stan & company putting more emphasis on continuity and making the stories at least somewhat "realistic".  When every story is a done in one and so many dream or imaginary stories are used, it doesn't matter if, say, a young BatMan saves President Franklin D. Roosevelt in one story and 60 years later a still young BatMan saves President George W. Bush in another if there's no indication that any previous event has any real meaning for the character.  In the early Silver Age BatMan sci fi yarns, I'd be surprised if any of them made any reference to the very reason Bruce Wayne became BatMan, or to how Robin became his protege.  It was just one silly story after another.  Lee, Kirby & Ditko took a different approach, which included making their stories reflect the times they were told in, not realizing that the characters would still be around over 50 years later and some one would have to explain why Peter Parker doesn't look like he's in his late 60s and how it is that ancient Aunt May is even still alive!

Metal and glass can mutate in the Marvel Universe just like everything else presumably.
The previous heroic age (the Golden Age) had only lasted 13 years, after which almost every superhero had vanished and publishers had moved on to other ideas. There was no reason to presume the revival wouldn't end up the same way. What wasn't seen was that while the Silver Age did end, superheroes wouldn't go away again. Several years went by in Marvel time just while Stan was writing the titles. Spider-Man, the Torch, the X-Men, all graduated high school and went to college. Reed and Sue had a kid. I think Stan was expecting it to all end before he retired from writing.

Actually Richard, I like the idea of purple - the sentinel hands looming out of that frame would look great.

Richard Willis said:

 I was going to suggest purple but that conflicts with the Sentinel hands.

“This was a memorable event and I loved the way it was revealed, this idea of a shared universe was a wonderful example of what made Marvel so successful in this time.”

I agree. The way the story flows from X-Men to Avengers to Fantastic Four seemed (and seems) to me to be very organic and natural, not forced in any way. Here are some more quotes to supllement the discussion.

ROY THOMAS ON HIS DEPARTURE:

“I don’t recall having to think long or hard about my replacement. Steve Englehart had been doing great things with Captain America and other Marvel titles, and it seemed almost inevitable to have him helm Cap’s exploits in The Avengers, to boot. He never disappointed me or, more importantly, the readers.

“So I wrote a parting message to readers on the Avengers letters page, thanking the various talented artists I’d worked with over the past 70 issues (plus annuals) and welcoming Steve aboard—and I left The Avengers, though not without a few lingering regrets.

“As it happened, I would shortly return for the first issue of Giant-Size Avengers, and Steve would later ask me to dialogue a couple more issues he had plotted… but otherwise, The Avengers was now just part of my résumé, Though a major [art—of which I’ll admit I’m just a little bit proud.

“But The Avengers was Steve’s now to handle, initially with rich remaining as penciler to ease the transition. Despite the fact that as editor I’d be looking over his shoulder, I didn’t intend to play any more of a part in that mag than in any other in the Marvel lineup.

“But I’d never forget what was, to date, the longest uninterrupted run of issues of a single title I had ever written.”

STEVE ENGLEHART ON HIS ARRIVAL:

“When I went to the newsstand and bought Roy Thomas’s Avengers, I thought they were among the greatest comics out there. When I got my foot in the door at Marvel and saw them being created, I thought the same. And when Roy gave me the title and tasked me with continuing it, I still thought that. Hell, today I think that. But he was ending his run to take over as editor-in-chief, so somebody had to follow him and he chose me. So I set out to carry the banner onward.

“Looking back at it in later years, I see that my rookie mistake was the worst one in comics: trying to replicate, rather than create. I tried to do Roy things, even though I wasn’t Roy, and it wasn’t until I started doing my own thing that I got a complete handle on my own Avengers. That happened around issue #114, so what you’re seeing here is the work of a diligent apprentice. No there’s a sales pitch, huh? Marvel’s sure lucky they’ve got the master’s Avengers filling up half this Masterworks.

“But wait. Even apprentices have adventures. It’s how they get past apprentice-dom. So since we’re all here together, we can put these stories to use and see how a young writer worked his way along. You never know: you might be a young writer yourself someday.”

Hmm, with issue #114, Swordsman and Mantis joined the ranks - even if Mantis didn't become a full-fledged member she hung around enough that she might as well have been.  And with that Englehart had 8 regulars to play with for the next year, after which T'Challa and Cap dropped out, then Swordsman dropped dead and Mantis married a tree and went to the stars.  But in the midst of that Hawkeye comes back, then Hank & Jan, and Hank & Patsy, and Moondragon and a few cowboys before arriving at the 150th anniversary.  Having only started regularly reading the Avengers with Roy's very last regular issue, I enjoyed Englehart's tenure and was sad to see him go.  There were a few hiccups during that last 16 months, with too many fill-ins, but it was mostly a fun ride.

I believe Mantis was made a full-fledged member in the same issue she married the tree. Didn't think of it at the time, but it's pretty disgusting that the tree possessed the corpse of her dead boyfriend to get her to marry it.

I remember Englehart complaining about that two part assassin story getting shoved into the middle of his last storyline.

Definitely a fun ride, but it was clear after Mantis left that Englehart was running out of gas. Since the Cat had failed so completely she'd been turned into a monster, it was odd he decided to give Patsy Walker the same costume instead of coming up with something new for her. Then Moondragon talked her into leaving the team with her. They weren't really missed, but she also got Thor seriously wondering why he was hanging out with mortals. Did anyone miss Moondragon when she left?

Moondragon had too acerbic a personality, which was much at odds with her revealing swim suit with a cape costume.  I actually enjoyed Hellcat during her brief run with the Avengers, more than either her run with the Defenders or Tigra's run with the Avengers.  Mainly I liked her banter with the Beast.  Seems it was Englehart's idea to bring back Wonderman, although that didn't really happen until after he left. 

“Hmm, with issue #114, Swordsman and Mantis joined the ranks…

Mantis is Steve Englehart’s signature character. In the next MMW, Englehart says in his introduction that series editor Cory Sedlmeyer asked him to reveal something about that run of issues he’s never said before. Given that the Avengers/Defenders Clash has been reprinted multiple times, you might think he’d have difficulty thinking up some new to say, but no; he focused on the creation and development of Mantis. And after she married the tree, he took her to DC and later Eclipse (after a fashion). But again, we’re getting ahead of the discussion.

“Having only started regularly reading the Avengers with Roy's very last regular issue..

The first Avengers comic I ever bought off the stands was Giant-Size #1. (Not surprising, since I bought every “Giant-Size” or “100-Page Super-Spectacular” I could get my hands on in those days.)

“I remember Englehart complaining about that two part assassin story getting shoved into the middle of his last storyline.

I remember him complaining about it, too. I also remember him later admitting the book was facing the DDD at the time.

Considering how easy it seems nowadays for characters to come back from the dead, it's interesting at the time that it was decided to justify Wonder Man's return by making it clear he was no longer human. The way the Grim Reaper considered the Vision, and, later, the energy based Wonder Man to be mockeries of his brother, it was out of character for him to have Simon brought back as a "zuvembie." Vampires and werewolves were back but the Code still didn't like the word zombie. Actually zuvembie was apparently what female zombies were called.

I don't think so. The term is from a Robert E. Howard story, "Pigeons from Hell". (I think I first learned this from Wikipedia's page on the term, here.) In the story zuvembies are women transformed by Haitian magic, but not zombies.

The wikipedia entry on Pigeons from Hell calls female zombies zuvembies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeons_from_Hell

A lot of entries on the same subject at that site contradict each other. The list of characters Stan Lee created (or co-created), for instance, doesn't include the Enchanters, yet they have their own page which says they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

 

Ron M. said:

Vampires and werewolves were back but the Code still didn't like the word zombie.

My understanding has always been that Marvel used "zuvembie" at the time the same way the (IMO bad) Spider-Man characters Man-Wolf and Morbius were used in lieu of the real zombies, werewolves and vampires. I'm pretty sure that when the prohibition of werewolves and vampires was dropped it was also dropped for zombies.

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