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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Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf By Night were being published when Simon Williams came back and Wanda called him a zuvembie. I believe there was still a problem with zombies for awhile because vampires and werewolves had appeared in literary works while zombies hadn't. Also while Marvel reprinted pre-Code horror stories in 1973-1974, for some reason by the time Wonder Man came back in 1976 they had dropped them and were reprinting the Kirby and Ditko stories from about 1960-1961. By 1977 I think Tomb of Dracula was their only horror title and it didn't last too long after that.

Even stranger, although it appears CCA would not allow characters to be called zombies in the stories themselves, there apparently was no such ban on the advertisements for Tales of the Zombie which appeared across the board in Marvel Comics periodically during the period it was in publication.  Oh, and while I know Morbius preceded the first issue of Tomb of Dracula, by several months if not quite a year, I'm also pretty sure that the first Werewolf By Night story preceded John Jameson's transformation into the Man-Wolf.  Almost seems like the head honchos at Marvel expected horror characters to take over from traditional superheroes as they not only had mags starring Universal Studio's top two monsters and a doppleganger for the third, but also mags starring their sci-fi Spidey-foe wolf-man and vampire, as well as the Mummy (another from Universal), the Man-Thing, the Ghost Rider and Son of Satan and the Golem for some religious-themed horrors, making at least 9 horror-themed characters who had their own series (if not their own self-titled mags) at Marvel in the early to mid-70s.  Of course, we could also include the Hulk, Marvel's mightiest man-monster of them all!

And the Hulk got one of those black and white magazines as if they wanted to make it clear he was a monster. Rules on them also kept changing. Savage Sword of Conan allowed topless women for awhile then stopped. There was a one shot starring Thor that said Thor the Mighty would be a regular series taking place in the days of the Vikings while the color Mighty Thor series would stay in the present day, but that one issue was all they made.

They also had Manphibion, a Creature from the Black Lagoon (also Universal) monster, but I believe he only appeared in the one shot Legion of Monsters.

Possibly they felt horror had been huge before the Code so with many of the restrictions being lifted and superheroes going out they hoped horror would return. At least part of the reason it didn't last was they didn't treat it as something that needed to grow and develop. When Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness didn't immediately take off they started padding the issues with reprints, and not very good ones. And they kept losing the best talent for horror. Mike Ploog seemed to just disappear, Berni Wrightson hung around House of Mystery a couple of years then vanished, and too many humorous stories kept creeping in. And as superheroes became popular again they pushed the monsters out. But yes it's odd they'd make a pseudo-vampire just months before the real thing and a pseudo-werewolf when they had a real one. Werewolf by Night appeared in 1972, Man-Wolf in 1974, but then again that's about the time the pre-Code horror stopped appearing in titles like Vault of Evil and Uncanny Tales. As horror went out they started putting supervillains in Werewolf and Man-Thing and Dracula briefly turned Dr. Strange into a vampire then later fought the Silver Surfer. I've also seen him fight Thor and attack the entire X-Men team. I think they seriously overpowered Dracula. He should have been more in the Spider-Man/Iron Man level like Frankenstein (who seemed roughly as powerful as Dracula when they fought.)

Some chronology:

The Spider-Man anti-drug issues were Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (MAY-JUL 71). These were the first nail in the Code's coffin

The Green Lantern anti-drug issue was Green Lantern #85 (AUG-SEP 71)

Morbius the Living Vampire debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #101 (OCT71)

Werewolf by Night debuted in Marvel Spotlight #2 (FEB72)

Hank McCoy got fuzzy in Amazing Adventures #11 (MAR72)

Marvel's version of Dracula debuted in Tomb of Dracula #1 (APR72)

Ghost Rider debuted in Marvel Spotlight #5 (AUG72)

Man-Thing debuted in (Adventure into) Fear #10 (OCT72)

Marvel's version of the Frankenstein monster debuted in (Monster of) Frankenstein #1(JAN73)

Man-Wolf debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #124 (SEP73)

Son of Satan debuted in Marvel Spotlight #12 (OCT73)

You're right that John Jameson becoming Man-Wolf was well after the Marvel horror books had launched. In my mind I lumped him in with Morbius, who I never liked as a character. As for the execs at Marvel expecting horror comics to supplant superhero comics, it should be noted that at the same time they were publishing war, western, teen comedy and romance books. Newsstand comic sales were alive and well and you could sell all those genres then.

When Universal made the first Dracula movie they had to pay for the rights. The previous movie version, Nosferatu, had title and name changes because it was an unauthorized version. When Marvel did Dracula and Frankenstein they were both in the public domain. They couldn't be sued as long as they didn't make the characters look like the movie versions. They couldn't call their character Wolfman because Universal owned that.

According to Wikipedia, Mike Ploog had a disagreement with Jim Shooter and left comics. He has done a wide variety of illustration work, mainly for the movies. Berni Wrightson has continued to work on comics projects over the years and has also done movie work. When they left the Big Two it was difficult to impossible to launch creator-owned projects. I think they've made more money since then.

Gog, a King Kong like creature appeared in Amazing Spider-Man#103-104 (DEC71-JAN72)

N'Kantu the Living Mummy debuted in Supernatural Thrillers#5 (AUG73)

Brother Voodoo debuted in Strange Tales#168(SEP73)

The Golem debuted in Strange Tales#174 (JUNE74)

The Scarecrow debuted in Dead of Night#11 (AUG75)

During the few years they lasted there were more horror comics than war, western, teen comedy, or romance at the Big Two (as well as at Charlton, which loved putting the word Ghost in their titles.)

Berni Wrightson made a Frankenstein book where he made the Monster look like Mary Shelley's description of him.

I've read one of the reasons Nosferatu still exists (Stoker's widow ordered all copies destroyed because it was still obviously Dracula) was because it was Hitler's famous movie and Nazis saved their copies.

And Marvel gave their "Universal" horror comics titles that could be copyrighted, thus "Tomb of Dracula" not just Dracula, etc.  But then it strikes me that Marvel comics titles tended to be distinguished by adjectives to a much greater degree than I'm aware of DC or any other comics company using, other than maybe Harvey Comics.  Thus the Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Invincible Iron Man, the Mighty Thor.  Makes sense with certain names that are common words, like Hulk, or names of ancient deities like Thor.  Daredevil, more in the DC tradition, got a descriptive nick name, the Man without Fear, like Man of Steel or the Caped Crusader, rather than an adjective.  Guess in his case, Stan couldn't come up with one that was catchy enough. "the dextrous Daredevil? hmm, the dynamic Daredevil? ... uhh, not quite; that damned Daredevil ..."

I've read that was Martin Goodman's idea. He said he believed his comics were so successful because they were Amazing, Incredible, etc. Goodman rejected a title called The Mutants because he thought nobody would know what they were. Stan ended up suggesting X-Men.

This suggests Stan wanted to call the first one just The Four.

AVENGERS  #105 (11/72)

Writer – Steve Englehart

Art – John Buscema  Inker – Jim Mooney

Cover Art – John Buscema & Jim Mooney

“In The Beginning Was…The World Within!”

The cover battle scene is a joy, Avengers in action with their ‘guest’ Sif, an announcement that the Black Panther’s back and a black frame that works very well with the yellow logo and title.

I like this one. – Nowadays it would be a self-aware parody of the JLI #1 group shot or something.

We open with the Scarlet Witch ‘doing a Pietro’ i.e. yelling at the Avengers while searching for her missing sibling.

We are informed that having never realised he was also in the Australian outback/anthill with the rest of the team, Quicksilver’s whereabouts is a mystery to the Avengers and that Wanda’s a bit focused on finding him.

We get a continuity shout out to Thor’s own mag as we see a load of Asgardian houseguests in the mansion, the Black Panther  drops in, we’re told Cap’s off on ‘a personal matter’  and the Vision returns having battled the puppet master in MTU #5.

Wanda rallies the team to go to some kidnapped scientists – because that could be what happened to Pietro (?) and so the team is set…along with Thor’s girl Sif who’s at a loose end so tags along.

As our heroes discover ‘the hidden realm of Ka-Zar’ we learn that the Panther has indeed gone back to calling himself the Panther after his failed attempt to call himself the 'Leopard’ or some such due to the unfortunate racist connotations of his name at the time…whenever this came up I always shouted at the comics ‘rise above it!’ …but anything’s better than the ‘Coal Tiger’ he was originally going to be called eh?

Once in this mysterious jungle the Avengers are attacked by super-powered/mutant swamp men and we learn that they are actually called the ‘Beast Brood’ and they were past enemies of the X-Men (#62-#65) – another story hung over from their lost title.

Hearing that friend of the X-Men Ka-Zar, told his friend Daredevil who told his friend the Black Panther,  the story - was a laughable stretched link.

So, the Avengers find where Magneto fought the X-Men (and an old Angel costume) before finding the group left behind by Magneto and the teams fight each other.

New enemy Lorelei is set on the team, using her bewitching song to entrance the male members of the team leaving Scarlet Witch and Sif alone.

Suddenly however the android Vision resists the sexy tune and defeats the bad guys. Confirming in his eyes that he is not a human male and incapable of love with which to be entranced.

He wonders off in a sulk as the team return home.

Still none the wiser as to Quicksilver’s location, the team hear from Jarvis of a news story where people have been disappearing in an ordinary street and the team race off hopeful this may explain where Pietro is.(?)

The Vision stays and broods…contemplating the amulet he was given by the Grim Reaper to initiate contact if he wanted….a human body…

This is an interesting line-up for Steve Englehart’s first issue, clearly he wanted the Panther so got him.

Sif is only guesting , never gets even a mention of being offered membership although she acquits herself very well – was this a way of  proving the team needed another female or  an actual attempt to claim use of Sif?

I have often wondered, as she is a major player in this issue.

Englehart’s transition is not jarring at all, picking up on already running subplots and keeping the character’s voices much the same, except maybe for Wanda who really is kicking ass these days.

Artwise and  I actually think the quality took a dive here, this is not John Buscema’s finest work – I honestly thought it was a Don Heck issue before I reread it

Not the greatest issue, but solid enough, and about to launch into a favourite arc of mine…

 

Come back…

Strangely the GCD names all of the villains but does not list Sif either on the cover or inside.

Perhaps he wanted Sif in the team and when, for whatever reason, that idea fell through, he came up with Mantis. It's interesting she's complained that Thor spends too much time on Midgard and away from her, but doesn't hang out with him when he's here. Moondragon may have gotten the "gods shouldn't lower themselves to associate with mortals" speeches because he couldn't have her give them.

Never noticed before but Iron Man looks deformed here. Has anyone ever tried to explain how his metal mask can change its expression?

I also think Sif looked particularly beautiful here, very much in her 'summer' outfit rather than any cumbersome armour looking costume, a definate presence.

Didn't get this one until about a couple of decades after it came out while plugging holes in my collection.  Certainly nice debut by Englehart and I'm glad they dropped the silly "Leopard" thing with T'Challa.  Jeez, give the readers credit for enough intelligence to know that the Black Panther was named after a particular animal not an activist group!  As for Pietro, seems Roy wanted to pump up the mystery for a few months until he could make the big reveal in the FF, but just adds another level to the characters jerkiness that he didn't get the word out to Wanda as soon as he could that, "hey, I'm all right and I'm glad to hear the Avengers rescued you!"  Instead, it's like, "oh, let 'em all worry while I slowly recover, oh, and how 'bout another kis, Crystal."

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