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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We'll be seeing a lot more of those soon, including #200.

AVENGERS #181 (03/79)
Writer – David Michelinie
Penciller - John Byrne                                          Inker – Gene Day
Cover Art – George Perez & Terry Austin  
   “On The Matter of Heroes!"


Has there ever been a better group-book cover?
Iconic.

Beautiful.

Classic.
Every hero depicted is wonderfully rendered.
Perhaps the angle for Captain Mar-Vell could have been better and there might be a case for wishing the Guardians of the Galaxy did not rate a cover appearance here so we only have fully fledged Avengers but by that logic we should not include Ms.Marvel or even Wonder Man yet as neither have officially joined yet.
Note - this is not a 'symbolic cover' like we get in modern times - this actually does occur inside and is even kind of reproduced with the crowd moving about a little inside.
This must be one of my - and surely everyone's - favourite Avengers covers ever!
 I must admit to finding a review of this issue quite intimidating but here goes...


Inside and immediatly we realise this book is back in capable, expert hands, the artwork is crisp and detailed and although Gene Day seems to be adding a more chiselled edge to his pencills, John Byrne is in his element and probably his best artistic phase of his career?


The splash page is also one of my all-time favourites - Wonder Man and the Beast at the cinema watching a wonderfully reproduced scene from that fantastic (and also personal favourite!) 'Adventures of Robin Hood' (1938) film. I love it. What else exemplifies 'the matter of heroes' than Errol Flynn as Robin Hood?


This is (I think) the first real scene of Wonder Man and the Beast as the bromance coupling they work so well as since Beast went to find Wondy in the 'Interlude' of Avengers Annual #6. (remember?). They make a good double act/team.


They return to Avengers Mansion while discussing 'the matter of heroes' keeping the theme - and are mistakedly attacked by the Mansion's new Intruder protection devices that we learn, as Wondy smashes in -  have just been put in place by Scott Lang.(A supporting character from Iron Man - who we all know will soon become Ant Man II - I always like when bit-characters cross-over like this.)
"Sheesh! When you super-types knock on a door -- you  Knock On A Door!"


We learn at this point that Agent Gyrich is assembling everyone together to explain his conditions for reinstating Avengers Priority Clearance that he recently took away from the team.
At the same time a white-bearded old man arrives at the mansion...


We get Byrne's version of Perez's cover (Perez wins.) as Gyrich begins his proclaimation,
"--There are just too blasted many of you!" and reiterates what we saw his say on that cover -- "You'll be required to pare down your membership to a core group of seven."
Iron Man and Cap discuss how they don't like this interference but accept the Priority is worth it ... until Gyrich goes further...
"--Your seven core members will be..."
"--But you can't dictate our membership to us! Just who the hell do you think you are?"
"I'm the Government, mister. Any more questions?"
It's an inspired and iconic exchange made even more powerful by the storytelling technique the artist employs making this a turn-the-page point.


The following page with it's faces of the reacting including members is equally masterful...
"Remaining as Chairman -- Iron Man. Followed by the Vision -- Captain America -- The Scarlet Witch-- The Beast -- The Wasp, and lastly -- HawkeyeThe Falcon!"
"The...WHAT?!"
It's a skillful mistep for the reader and it is brilliantly done.


Famously, Hawkeye is not happy but Gyrich insists minorities must be represented despite Iron Man's protest - "Minorities?! Just what do you think Androids are? And Mutants? And for that matter -- Superheroes?"


Unusually, Quicksilver gets a spotlight (Of all of the team Quicksilver is the hero drawn so differently between Perez and Byrne - Byrne draws the pointed angry features a-la Magneto whereas Perez's cover still has the leading-actor look of his early appearances.) explaining even to Cap that the point here is not the Falcon as a hero but as a minority but he stops in mid-sentence and the other plotline of this issue kicks in...as Quicksilver collapses.
"--ick?!"


Thor changes to Dr. Don Blake as we are reminded of the strange old man and the Guardians of the Galaxy take that moment to leave both the Mansion and that time.
It does not get articulated but it is generally accepted that it was this point where the Guardians were given a kind of 'honourary' Avengers status for their help against the Enemy/Michael Korvac and it's one I don't argue with.
I kind of accept the Avengers giving the same 'honour' to Captain Marvel here too.


Others leave (perhaps saying much about Quicksilver's relationship with his teammates as no-one seems to feel the need to stay around and investigate his plight!) - Wonder Man -"Good luck Simon Williams . You will be missed."
- The Wasp - "Oh pooh, darling. You're not jealous are you?"
and Hawkeye - ""Friends?" Hey, is a bear catholic?"
along with silent farewells from the Black Panther, Black Widow, Hercules, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel and Moondragon..."Hmph. Moondragon didn't even say 'good-bye'"


It is a massive watershed moment, crowned by the new line-up (and Hawkeye and YellowJacket) left at the mansion door as the Scarlet Witch collapses like her brother did.
"--oh"
Don Blake announces the mystery is a strange one as ..."While Wanda and Pietro Frank aren't really dead, gentlemen-- neither are they precisely alive!"


The epilogue returns us to the old man we've been following and reveals he has apparently living toy versions of Wanda and Pietro - whom he refers to as..."...My CHILDREN!"
It is a powerful cliff-hanging mystery.


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


In it's day this was an important issue, cutting the Avengers and their hangers-on to a manageable level and imposing government policy on the team in a powerful, well drawn, well written and well paced issue. Possibly as important and iconic as issue #16 in the sweeping changes to the Old Order other than losing your favourite Avenger from the rosta there cannot be anything not to love here can there?


This begins the deepest investigation into Wanda and Pietro's parentage/history to this point and may well begin the best version ever...but certainly not the last.


Come Back...

Gyrich would always hold a grudge against Hawkeye.  Pushing the Falcon in as a token black didn't sit well with me then or now.  I didn't think about it at the time but the amazing thing here is a normal person telling a group of very powerful people that they had to do what he said.  I think at the time I thought he'd turn out to be another skrull or something like that.  I was still young enough to think that it was impossible for anyone who worked in the government to be that much of a jerk.  I miss being that young.

I remember being really mystified by what was going on here at the time.

Richard Mantle said:

Every hero depicted is wonderfully rendered.
Perhaps the angle for Captain Mar-Vell could have been better

I can’t even find him on the cover.

That's the back of his head right at the bottom.


Richard Willis said:

Richard Mantle said:

Every hero depicted is wonderfully rendered.
Perhaps the angle for Captain Mar-Vell could have been better

I can’t even find him on the cover.

Where?

A side-by-side from the digital version. (Click to enlarge.)

Mar-Vell is at the bottom between Jocasta and Starhawk in Perez's cover.

I like Byrne's better, especially his placement of Wanda, Pietro and Vision.

Yondu didn't make the cut in Byrne's version.

Both pieces serve their respective purpose, one as a cover, the other as a story page. I really like the side-by-side comparison. Perez is constrsained by having to leave room for the logo and masthead.

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.

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!

It's amazing how things have changed.  Tony and Carol have done things that Gyrich never dreamed of being able to do, they've become more Gyrich than Gyrich ever was.

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