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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It hasn’t been just too long since I last read Avengers #200 as part of my own Ms. Marvel reading project, but I read it again for this discussion because I have often found that I can appreciate a given story from a different perspective if read from a different POV. It’s difficult to see Avengers #200 as anything other than non-consensual sex at best.

“…presumably this is the event that convinces [the Scarlet Witch] to strive for children of her own..?”

“Scarlet Witch and Vision wander the Mansion's gardens and seem to rule out having children.(?)”

Vision and Scarlet Witch didn’t think they were able to have children until the circumstances under which the twins were conceived, in the first issue of the (12-issue) Vision and Scarlet Witch limited series. If you’ve never read it, it is unique (or at least unusual) in that it occurs in “real time”… i.e., one month “Marvel time” passes between each issue. But I digress.

“(Wasn't there a STTNG Episode where something similar occurred with Deana Troi?)

Yes, the season two opener, “The Child.”

“…(faster growth than Franklin Richards then...)”

Ha! Yes, Franklin Richards is the world’s youngest 53 year old. His sister Val has done a remarkable job of cathing up, however.

“…and this is THE CRUX – ‘and admittedly, with a subtle boost from Immortus' machines’

I have always felt so as well.

“…what I don't understand is if the writers… intention was to make this an act of 'love' albeit at a whirlwind pace then why oh why add this 'subtle boost' line…?”

I have given this question a lot over the years. The only thing I can think of is that they threw that line in to pre-empt potential reader objections that she was acting against character (but obviously didn’t think it through).

“Was this an attempt at 'Simpsons' writing - on one level, younger readers are seeing a love-story, on another, more adults are seeing a morally ambiguous tale?”

No, it was just an ill-considered plot. Are you reading this run of stories in the recently-released volume of Marvel Masterworks Avengers? In his introduction, David Michelinie discusses the circumstances under which the plot came to be written. In a nut-shell, a story very similar to the one intended for Avengers #200 had recently appreared in What If #20, “What if the Avengers fought the Kree/Skrull War without Rick Jones?” As editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter decided not to go with the original plot because of the similarity. In his introduction, Michelinie points out that his original plot had been openly discussed in the bullpen and raises the possibility that someone overheard and “appropriated” it. I’ve never read What If #20. Does anyone know who the writer and editor were?

Thanks for commenting Philip

Philip Portelli said: The initial career of Ms. Marvel lasted a mere four years from 1977 to 1980 and it always seemed odd that Marvel just wrote her out of the series and the entire line! Was she that threatening a figure to male writers? Had they no idea what to do with her? Did they rather just use the Wasp and Scarlet Witch? Why couldn't she stay in the Avengers?

- Totally Agree -the Avengers were so male-heavy for so long she was a breath of fresh air.

But Cap, Iron Man and Hawkeye knew something was wrong. They said so to Ms. Marvel but she decided to go with Marcus anyway. Wonder Man should have punched the creepy bastard in the face and tossed him back to Limbo alone!

Well said. 

But seriously, the Avengers were stuck between a rock and a hard place: Do they stop Ms. Marvel from going thus insinuating that she doesn't know what she's doing and that they (the men) know what's best for her or let her go by her own choice despite possibly being under Marcus' control? 

If any Avenger is to blame, it's Thor! He knows how "gods" treat mortal women and he never trusted Immortus in the first place! He should have told Carol to wait if she still felt the same later and sent Marcus to Limbo alone. He could have always brought Carol there later.

I just remember the Annual #10 post-mortem jury as very judgemental against the team - I agree with you - rock and a hard place. They did their best with good intentions

Thanks for the comments Jeff, as usual we're pretty much agreeing I think.

Jeff of Earth-J said:   Are you reading this run of stories in the recently-released volume of Marvel Masterworks Avengers? In his introduction, David Michelinie discusses the circumstances under which the plot came to be written. In a nut-shell, a story very similar to the one intended for Avengers #200 had recently appreared in What If #20, “What if the Avengers fought the Kree/Skrull War without Rick Jones?” As editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter decided not to go with the original plot because of the similarity. In his introduction, Michelinie points out that his original plot had been openly discussed in the bullpen and raises the possibility that someone overheard and “appropriated” it. I’ve never read What If #20. Does anyone know who the writer and editor were?

Actually although I own these issues I've been reading them from digital Comixcology individual issues so wasn't aware of the Michelinie claims.

It does make sense but having heard of Jim Shooter's edicts I wondered if he had a hand also?

It clearly had an effect on some - hence the venom on display in Avengers Annual #10  



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I’ve never read What If #20. Does anyone know who the writer and editor were?

It was scripted by Tom Defalco with editors listed as O'neil & Gruenwald.

When I read this at age 9, I didn’t really catch on to the various implications. Looking back at it maybe 10 years later, it seemed disturbing at best. Now in the era of "me too" it seems just utterly disgusting.

It speaks to the tone-deafness to the female experience that was prevalent in the comics industry at the time.

I’ve read Jim Shooter’s comments on the issue. He says he didn’t write it and doesn’t remember being involved but accepts responsibility because it happened on his watch. A little hard to believe considering his micro management of the Dark Phoenix story around the same time.

I recently listened to a podcast interview with David Michelinie where he reiterated the explanation from Marvel Masterworks. He stated that the story was so bad because they had to scramble in a big hurry to put it together.  Again, not sure if I buy that.  I think he just did a poor job.

Thankyou Detective.

Detective 445 said:.  I think he just did a poor job.

Whatever your viewpoint - that is difficult to argue with.

Speaking of “the tone-deafness to the female experience that was prevalent in the comics industry at the time,” you should read Gerry Conway’s introduction to Ms. Marvel Masterworks volume one, or rather his reaction to his own editorial (reprinted within) from the first issue of the comic book. In it, in response to the self-posed question why isn’t a woman writing the series, he opined that none were qualified. His present self was appropriately remorseful.

For the record, here is David Michelinie’s version of the events leading up to Avengers #200 from his introduction to the latest Marvel Masterworks.

DAVID MICHELINIE:

The Avengers #200 wasn’t what it was intended to be. We wanted to do something special for that 200th-issue milestone, and I had a definite plot in mind. It specifically involved Ms. Marvel, for a reason unique to her origin. I’d gotten the general storyline approved and had been setting it up for several issues, paving the way for a killer conflict and resolution. As the deadline for issue 3200 approached, seemingly at the speed of light, I worked out and turned in the final detailed plot. And then everything fell apart. In that week’s published Marvel comics was a story that was pretty much exactly the same as my concluding chapter featuring Ms. Marvel. No verifiable explanation was ever found. I know my storyline had been known around Marvel for some time, and there’s the possibility that the writer or editor of the published story had read it, or heard it, then forgot. Later, when looking for an idea, he or she may have remembered my storyline, but not that it had already been suggested by someone else. An innocent error of memory. I hope that’s the case.

“But the bottom line is that we could no longer use the conclusion I’d planned; essentially, it had now already been done. So Jim Shooter, George Perez, Bob Layton and I put our heads together and, literally overnight, cobbled together a story that at least would fit the sub-plots I had established in previous issues. After publication, some readers felt that we were unfair to Ms. Marvel, that we didn’t respect her, that we didn’t have her react as a real woman would. And, for the most part, they had a good point. If I had it to do over again, would I handle the situation differently? Yes, I would. But we were caught between a rock and a hard place, trapped with an impossible deadline and a story we’d been setting up for months that we could no longer use. We did the best we could under the circumstances. But my name is on the credits, so blame me if you will. But I won’t describe the story here; read it and decide for yourself.”

I also recommend Googling Carol Strickland’s essay and reading it online if you haven’t already.

An interesting item is when Marvel had their "True Believers" dollar comics focus on Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel, they did not reprint Avengers #200 but did include Avengers Annual #10 now subtitled "Ms. Marvel Betrayed!". I can see why they wouldn't but it did render the controversy rather one-sided as the Avengers got blasted without their viewpoint. It was included however in the second volume of the Ms. Marvel Epic Collection.

Avengers #201 (11/80)
Writer - David Michelinie Penciller - George Perez
Editor - Jim Salicrup Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – George Perez & Terry Austin
  “The Evil Reborn"
A classic cover and possibly Jarvis's greatest moment!
"Stand back, Avengers -- This is where Jarvis Takes Over!"
It is a beautiful cover with smiling Cap setting the tone for vacuum cleaner toting hero Jarvis. A shame Wasp and Wonder Man are not featured from the Roll Call.
Also - thankfully the advert/competition banners have gone.


We begin with the clean up of the Mansion after the devastation of last issue's battle and our heroes discuss Ms. Marvel's fate for those that never caught the Anniversary issue.


Not on the cover or the roll-call, Hawkeye and Jocasta help out also, "Well, Jocasta, it looks like things are getting back to normal."
"Yes, Hawkeye, it does."
"A purple Robin Hood -- an' a metal woman? '"normal"?!"


Wonder Man races away first, late for filming... - loved the Iron Man has a digital clock in his faceplate - decades before the overlay readings of the Iron Man films.
Yellowjacket thanks the team for his guesting and he and Jan also leave, with sandwiches from Jocasta as their relationships continue to grow and Jocasta continues to develop.


Thor and Iron Man leave together, sharing each other's secret identities gave these two a close bond for a while which was a nice detail.


Beast accompanies Wonder Man ...leaving the front door of the Mansion open which Cap groans at and Hawkeye closes for him - in flamboyant manner.
Before Hawkeye returns to his day job Cap suggests a work out / training session, "What a brilliant idea! What an original, innovative and surprising concept!" - Hawkeye agrees.
"I thought you'd never ask."
"I know."
It's a great scene. Michelinie has really got a handle on all these characters.


Iron Man arrives at Stark HQ (love the flip-top faceplate) and changes to Tony stark.
Mrs Arbogast cameos! I always liked her. In my world she could have got it on with Jarvis....
News regarding chemical research panics Stark...


At the filming of the Uncle Elmer Show where Wonder Man as Mr Muscles is centre-stage a young child grabs Elmer's hat instead of a hoop and pulls off his (secret) toupee!!
"Stop the tape!"
Elmer blames Simon for his humiliation and sacks him. Beast advises rising above it until Elmer calls him a... "Baboon?!"
"Hey, Baldie! I hope your brain gets sunburned!"
It's another 'day-in-the-life-of/comedy' scene which Michelie is having great fun with but we need a bit of plot don't we?

The next scene provides it, Jan wakes up at her marital home to noises in Hank's lab...having seen Hank away to the airport earlier. To investigate she changes into yet-another new costume (much more conservative this one rather than the one-legged suit she wore for the Taskmaster trilogy.) At the lab she finds a whole smashed in the wall and is attacked by a mysterious robot holding two containers, marked "AD Resin X" and "AD Resin Y"...which rings bells...??


She fights valiantly but appears to be blasted to nothingness by the robot...!
(I'm guessing she shrank out the way as well but credit for an attempt at a cliff-hanging plot-point eh?)


Back to Stark who informs that the news he had been given earlier was that certain chemicals (Resins?) had been stolen from his plant... chemicals (Resins?) that when combined..."-- could very easily spell Death for everything human on this planet!"
He adds to this revelation that a small gizmo he's created is likely to..."-exact a price: My life --At the hands of a Friend!"
What could he mean??
That's the hook to bring you back next month...


So, the Avengers are settling down after Ms Marvel's leaving, Hawkeye does not appear to be re-joining the team formally and Jocasta still hasn't been put up for membership as the promised meeting still hasn't come around...


Oh, yes, only 15 pages of story here, basically an epilogue to #200 and a prologue to next issue. The rest of this issue is devoted to an amazing experiment...


"The Impeccable JARVIS"
Writer - David Michelinie Penciller - George Perez
Editor - Jim Salicrup Inker - Gene Day
Historian - Roger Stern
Bully!"
We are not told precisely when this tale fits into continuity but Captain America Beast and Wonder Man see Jarvis off on his day-off. (The Official Index places this circa Avengers Annual #8 and I don't disagree.)


Jarvis catches a taxi to visit his 70-year old mother who, we are told, has just recovered from surgery. She's cooking Yorkshire pudding - he loves it - so do I!!


When he arrives his mother tearfully hugs him and he discovers while she was shopping she was mugged, most upset she broke her eggs.
"Hang the eggs, mother! Are you alright?"
Jarvis sets out to confront the culprit.
Once he finds them, Jarvis requests recompense, "I'm afraid we require renumeration for a dozen grade-A eggs."
The mugger, 'Bruiser' pushes fruit in his face, knocks Jarvis over and walks off.


Jarvis discovers all the locals are afraid of the bully. They ask for help from the Avengers, Jarvis reminds them they should stand up for themselves. (Magnificent Seven anyone?) and requests they assist him...they chicken out.
"I see. So be it, then."


Jarvis catches Bruiser up, Queens rules are refused in favour of the Bronx battle wherein Jarvis shows his prowess as a boxing champion (in the 2nd World War) and even uses moves taught by Captain America.
Losing the fight and losing face, Bruise pulls out a knife,

"I am shocked, sir! What a base and cowardly tack!"


Finally, rallying around their ordinary-man-hero Jarvis the locals all attack Bruiser together, chasing him away and reclaiming their streets!


Jarvis invites everyone to join him in a Yorkshire Pudding-fest and all is well with the world!
It's a fine feel-good short-story showing Jarvis at his best and best-of-British.


I'm not really sure what the purpose of this tale was or why it published here but it is a fun and beautifully drawn breath of fresh air.
Good show, Jarvis!


I would have liked to see more.


Next Issue "Whatever you do don't Dare miss... This Evil Undying!"


Come Back...

I had forgotten that they had discussed Ms. Marvel in #201 but they were still doubtful about her decision and theirs. It screamed for a sequel/rescue but obviously no one connected to the book wanted her back.

Jarvis solo stories and featured roles are always fun. He is the Heroes' Servant but they are at his beck and call. Had Jarvis called the Avengers after his mother's mugging, they surely would have responded.

I haven’t read #201 yet and, as I mentioned on the Spider-Man discussion, I’ll be offline all next week. But, while I was transcribing David Michelinie’s comments regarding issue #200, I went ahead and did #201 and #202 as well. Here’s what he had to say about…

“Issue #201 is a rare case where the cover (one of my faves) is for a backup story (also a fave) instead of the lead. It’s the first-ever solo tale featuring the Avengers’ butler, the Impeccable Jarvis. In this short eight-pager we meet Edwin’s mom, and show that the unflappable butler has learned a few things in his years with the Avengers—about both fisticuffs and responsibility.

“The lead story this issue was unique for my time writing the series, as it was the only script adapted from an outside source. Jim Shooter had written a prose Avengers story, “This Evil Undying,” for a paperback anthology. Part of the same run that included my Avengers novel. I read it, liked it, and suggested we do a comic book version. Jim gave his okay, and I turned it into a two-parter that started with this issue. There’s some action (hey, it is an Avengers story, after all!), but we also see some quality time between Mr. & Mrs. Pym, male bonding between Captain America and HGawkeye, plus Wonder Man and the Beast in a showdown at the Uncle Elmer Show! That should be enough for any story, but there’s still—

“—part two in issue #202 [next time].”

I heard about the Jim Shooter prose story but never read it. I did hear that he used very...vivid descriptions for the Scarlet Witch and the Wasp!

Yeah, the Comics Buyer's Guide once reprinted a saucy section or two. A couple of years ago I aquired a copy from our own Tim Cousar in one of our several trades, but I haven't read it yet. (Hey, that would make good beach reading.)

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