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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Richard Mantle said:

Did they somehow collaborate really closely?

They look like everyone was the same scale and Gyrich is the same height compared to the table and so on.

Incredible.


Yeah, it's an iconic image. According to Byrne (on his forum) he drew his page first and then Jim Shooter had Perez copy it for the cover.

Just for fun some more versions by Sal Buscema/Brett Breeding, Fred Hembeck, Essentials retouch and a Deviant art mashup:

At first I thought that was John Belushi.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

At first I thought that was John Belushi.

I thought the same thing.

I wonder if the cover might have been better if it was one of the wrap around covers, both front and back?

I'm sure he would have been the first to leave. And probably make Gyrich hate superheroes even more as he trashed the place while leaving. There was a drawing somewhere of everyone that had ever been an Avenger that crowded the drawing. At one end of the picture the Hulk proclaimed "Bah! Hulk quit again!" Some people don't like crowds.

Did Captain Marvel still have a series at that time? Why didn't he ever join the team?
 
Philip Portelli said:

It's a bit of a cheat as no one thought that the Guardians, Captain Marvel, Hercules, Moondragon, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel and Quicksilver were going to stay.

And Thor, Black Panther and Jocasta were iffy at best!

Good thing that the Hulk wasn't invited!

Then again, poor Hulk!

“Vicarious self-actualization transferal.” I got a lot of mileage out of that phrase over the years.

#181 is, in fact, the first appearance of Scott Lang.

My favorite scene of this issue is the roll call. (“…and lastly—the Falcon!” “The… WHAT?!”) A few issues from now, someone will protest the removal of Hawkeye from the roster. Michelinie (or whoever was handling the letter col that month) then pointed out that Hawkeye has remained a character and had, in fact, been in every issue since.

“Was this four-part run writer David Michelinie's finest hour?”

On Avengers, perhaps, but I think he achieved his finest on Iron Man. (On which specific issues is a matter up for debate.)

On the bright side if Clint hadn't been thrown out by Gyrich he never would have gotten the job of head of security at Cross (I think that was the name) and he sort of grew with that responsibility.

Out of all the "Old Order Changeth" stories, Avengers #181 is my second favorite, with the original in #16 being the best of the bunch for being so ground-breaking.  The first time, smack dab in the prime of the Silver Age, you just didn't do what Stan and Jack did.  All the original team was gone and the new recruits they left Cap with weren't even heroes yet!  Here in the midst of the Bronze Age, they play it a lot safer; as pointed out in a previous post, this is the same as the new line-up unveiled in #151, except we (will) have the Falcon in place of Yellowjacket.  But this is a watershed issue because the Avengers will now always have the government lingering over their shoulders, a new status quo that really wasn't there before.  It won't always be the abrasive Gyrich, but to use a well-worn cliche, things would never be the same again.
The strength of the story is the characterization bits - Hank and Simon bonding, and even little things like Jarvis preparing a snack for the Guardians.  It's aided so well by John Byrne's artwork - I agree with Richard, Byrne is in his prime here.

AVENGERS #182 (04/79)
Writer – David Michelinie
Penciller - John Byrne                                          Inker – Klaus Janson
Cover Art – Al Milgrom & Bob Layton 
   “Honor Thy Father"


I'm learning load os things I never realised as I re-read these issues - for instance, I've never really liked this cover but never really knew why it just doesn't seem to work or to fit in with those around it - now I know why....Al Milgrom is a passable artist - but he's not up to the stellar quality of Perez and Byrne that we're being treated to these days. (Although #184 is much better- so I'm going to blame this cover's dullness on inker Bob Layton(?))
The composition is not up to much either but the sort of scratchy inking is probably the reason I'm unhappy - and the lack of a central threat.


What is wonderful is the art inside, Klaus Janson inking John Byrne is more moody than Gene Day was last issue and there is a cinematic feel from the splash page which depicts Dr Don Blake explaining to the team that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch who lie prone before us are comatose ..."almost as though ...someone had stolen their souls"
Hawkeye remarks on , "Geez, what a cold fish!" the Vision is, as the android carries on without emotion. (no great surprise to Hawkeye surely but presumably thrown in for the new(er) reader.)


The Wasp also fills in some blanks explaining that the mystery remains a mystery because most of the guys that could have solved it quickly - have left without helping out. "It's too bad Captain Marvel and the rest of the Cosmic clan had to leave. Maybe they could have sensed something." (Call them back! They are NOT busy!)


Jocasta offers to use her abilities to help out leading to one of her best (very few) moments as she faces Gyrich's bigotry and puts him down in a sassy classic exchange,
"Hey! I thought this tin woman was just a tropgy or something! If she's intelligent, she has to have Security Clearance!"
"Really, Mr Gyrich, has the government become so paranoid that it requires security passes for mere machines?"
This seemed to signpost some likely character evolvement for Jocasta but it never really happened did it?


So, despite the team announced last issue, it's a different combination of Avengers that leave the mansion and leave Wonder Man on monitor duty.
There is a school of thinking that for official monitor duty Wondy had to be an Avenger and so this signifies his first official membership of the team...I don't agree, he's filling in as a friend/ally unofficially here - his signing up for membership comes in a later issue. (Honest)


We catch back up with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch as their 'souls' seem to be inhabiting small toy/marionettes caged and watched over by the mysterious old man we've been tracking recently.
Wanda reminds everyone that despite this guy's claims, they are the children of the Whizzer and Miss America but this man, Django Maximoff, relates his tale of gypsies and family - specifically his son Mateo (speedster) and daughter Ana (magic adept). After battles with locals they lost touch with each other and Django grew old alone as a toymaker.


Via a sideways continuity link to Spider-Woman #12 and through Avengers #16 we race to the present day where - utilising a strange talisman he has kept with him - he has reunited with those he believes to be his children.
Yes, it's convoluted and no I cannot explain why writer Michelinie felt their origins needed re-examination but Wanda tries to assure us all it's a misunderstanding...

"It's all coincidence, don't you see--?" 


The Avengers arrive and Django sets animated mannequins on them . Don't think about it too much - it's all magic okay.
The Avengers dispatch these fairly easily, realising they are not real - a nice moment for the Wasp too and it is beginning to seem like our heroes vastly outpower our 'villain'....until Iron Man opens the door on the..."-- unexpected...?"


At that point the threat level gets ramped up and the team are into Doctor Strange territory, (wonderful door to chaos panel.) as a young Django conjures up his own magical versions of the Toad, Princess Python and....Nighthawk.
"Huh? Nighthawk! B-but he's one of the good guys!"
I don't see any explanation for why these three characters are used here or why they are skewed versions of themselves either and it does feel strange - why would Django have any knowledge at all of someone like Nightnawk?


With his guest shot in the Korvac build-up and his kind-of appearance here, I really was wondering if the writers were building towards Nighthawk joing the Avengers


(Was this use of the Toad - with the only (first) depiction of 'that tongue'  the influence for the Toad's appearance in the first X-Men film?)


The Vision suffers at the mystical hands of Princess Python who acts more like the Enchantress than Python and famously (?) there are two versions of his 'reaction' panel.
In one he has tendrills bursting out of his eyes and mouth and in the other he has no such blemishes - the hallucination is for the reader to realise in his mind only. I can't see why it was deemed worthy of censoring personally.
(I have both versions - and I probably prefer the mind-only one)


Iron Man literally throwing the kitchen sink at the enemies and the Beast hearing the neighbours shouting draws the Avengers out of the illusions and old man Maximoff tries to escape with his toy 'children'.
The Vision intervenes, (contrasting his andoid emotionless being with Jocasta's sense of fun earlier) " What...have...you...done to...My WIFE?" and with Wanda blaming the talisman he destroys the stone -- which reverts everyone to normal
This stone thingy is never mentioned again in all the rejigging of the origin tales.


The epilogue shows Wanda and Pietro back in their bodies and intent on smoothing Django's delusions by accompanying him to their home country.
Curiously there is no sign here that the siblings actually believe Maximoff's claims of parenthood, rather they are going along with him to be nice and compasionate.


Wanda's 'leave of absence' means that the team roster announced by Gyrich last issue - still is not going to be the imminent line-up...and we haven't even seen the Falcon in these pages yet.


We close with the Beast announcing, "Looks like we can enjoy a little peace, quiet and ree-lak-sa-tion for a change, right, gang?
Uh...
...nah, I don't believe it either! sigh. "
(God I miss this Beast don't you?)


So a wrap up to the order-change watershed event with some nice moments and some action scenes to keep the pace rolling alongside some wonderful artwork.
(Oh, and a fan-letter inside the original by one Kurt Busiek for you completists!)
Glory days.


Come Back...

 
 

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