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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Exactly.

Philip Portelli said:

This was a serious dip in quality as a mismatched Gene Colan couldn't play to his strengths here.

I am still with you, Richard, still reading along, but, as I mentioned in my comments for #205, I am finding this run to be a real slog. I read issue #206 over the weekend; I hope to read #207 before you post about #208. Under normal circumstances (these days, anyway) I would welcome a fill-in by Gene Colan. but I wasn't yet a fan of Colan when this came out and, to tell the truth, wasn't real thrilled with his artwork here, either. Perhaps it will look better when it's reprinted in Marvel Masterworks.

I came to be a Gene Colan fan in a roundabout way, indirewctly through the Killraven "graphic novel" (a format maore akin to a "graphic short story" AFAIAC). the Killraven graphic novel led me to collecting the Killraven series in Amazing Adventures as backissues. That, in turn, led me to other series written by Don McGregor, such as black Panther in Jungle Action. It wasn't until I saw comics produced from Colan's uninked pencils (Ragamuffins and Nathanial Dusk) that I fell in love with his work and started collecting backissues of his work (starting with Daredevil inked by Tom Palmer).

Tom Palmer was Colan's best inker. Tomb of Dracula was, I think, 100 percent Colan/Palmer.

Richard Willis said:

Tom Palmer was Colan's best inker. Tomb of Dracula was, I think, 100 percent Colan/Palmer.

Not quite. Gene Colan inked his own pencils for the first issue and Vince Colletta inked the second, Tom Palmer came aboard with issue #3 and inked the next four, then Ernie Chan did issue #8, Colletta did issue #9, Jack Abel did #10 and #11, and Palmer did the rest of the run. So Tomb of Dracula was 91 percent Colan/Palmer.

(By the way, on the writing side, five guys -- Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, Archie Goodwin, Gardner Fox -- had their fingerprints on the stories before Marv Wolfman took over with issue #7.)

Avengers #208 (06/81)
Plot - Bob Budiansky - script- Danny Fingeroth
Penciller - Gene Colan Inker - Dan Green
EditEveor - Jim Salicrup
Cover Art – Gene Colan & Bob Wiacek
  “Eve of Destruction!"
Gene Colan again on this cover - "The Berserker Lives Again!" - metal horses from historic times?

The Avengers squashed into a blob at the back of the cover and Jocasta and the Beast not featured again.


Inside and this sequel that no-one asked for, continuing last issue's lackluster performance opens with an incredibly amateur looking splash page! Honestly it just looks awful! I don't know who to blame except maybe the editor for allowing it.


So, the Berserker from last issue has now manifested completly in suit of armour and is laying waste to modern-day troops with the aid of his energy blasting sword.


The Avengers and Wonder Man's girlfriend/agent Rachel lament the dying of the 'Shadow Lord' and with his last breath he leaves the task of defeating the Berserker to the Avengers.


After a flashback covering the last issue Rachel calls for a funeral and the team create a memorial to the Shadow Lord (rather than go fight the bad guy.)
Rachel takes the team to the 'pool of memories' where they all experience the info-dump flashback that follows.
The Berserker's been around and evil since the beginning of mankind when he located a strange cave, gained an 'unquenchable fury' and began his violence.
Over the centuries he worked for many an empire and even plucked away to alien empires for his services. He returned to Earth to join the Roman Legions where it took the erruption of Mt Vesuvius to be orchestrated to trap him away from where he could do any harm.


I still can't tell if the 'Shadow Lord' character was taken from his own series and tagged onto this one or if this whole tale was a pitch that went nowhere or what. It's way too complicated to just be the background and motivation for a mindlessly violent adversary.


A trailing sub-plot gets its own scene as we witness Jarvis reading a telegram to Wonder Man informing him as he left his acting job without explanation he's been sacked. That could have been just a footnote in a later issue couldn't it?


Anyway, after all this padding, the Avengers finally confront the Berserker and indeed the cover scene does play out - metal horses and all!
The Berserker captured Rachel (of course he does) and makes her dress up in his favourite outfit (of course he does).
He takes jewelry she got from the Shadow Lord to wear himself and another fight begins.


Wonder Man drops his keys in the battle and that makes him wonder if there may be a 'key' to unlock defeat of the bad guy.
No honestly.
It's very clunky.


Eventually as he is having his energy drained, Wonder man uses the jewelry to "unlock the dimensional doorway into the Shadow World." - the Berserker is pulled away and the doorway can never be opened again (handy that) - I have no idea why not!.


The issue closes praising Simon's acting ability and all is well with the world.

Do we ever see this Rachel again?


Let me say again - I love Gene Colan's artwork...usually.
This is just an awful comicbook I'm afraid, no real coherent story, loads of elements just thrown together, no characterisation and pacing is ridiculously jumbled.
I can't imagine it but would anyone like to argue the contrary here?
How a mighty title has fallen.
Can things get much worse than this...?


Come Back...

Colan produced some great work on standard superhero fare,as with his runs on Iron Man & Sub-Mariner and Daredevil, but IMO his best work was on Dr. Strange, Tomb of Dracula and Howard the Duck, more offbeat fare which I loved.  Alas, I have to agree with the general consensus that his run on the Avengers didn't bring out the best in his artistry.  His previous run on the Avengers, from over a decade previous to the this, was fairly good, IMO, but I think having to work with so many characters didn't really suit his particular style or interests.

now i know i bought these issues, and i'm certain i would have read them, but even following your reviews, richard, they're coming up as a complete blank.

i vaguely remember the covers but absolutely nothing about the stories.

from what you've written these seem like an extended run of fill-in issues - instantly forgettable villain of the month(s) and zero character advancement.

at least there's a memorable run just round the corner, for better or worse.

Avengers #209 (07/81)
Writer - J.M.DeMatteis Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Alan Kupperberg Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – Al Milgrom
   “The Resurrection Stone"
Al Milgrom puts in a good solid cover here with a nice cover appearance of Wonder Man and a rare centre-stage role for the Beast.


This issue, written by J.M.DeMatteis who deserves probably more credit than he gets and drawn by Alan Kupperberg who, similarly doesn't seem to top many polls buy always produces a solid respectable job begins with a crashed alien ship and a beam-out of it's occupant in the Nevada desert.


At Avengers Mansion Wonder Man, Vision and the Scarlet Witch are having tea with and meeting the girlfriend of the Beast, Vera Cantor who seems to have taken over the Beast's heart and mind recently.

Vera's been around since the very early days of the original X-Men but very sparse appearances over the decades with a little more character being shown after the Beast's solo stories in Amazing Adventures which stretched through some appearances in the Incredible Hulk. Beast has never been quite as smitten with her as he is at the opening of this story though - so much so I suspected an outside influence!


Vera is suddenly cut down via poisoned tea and butler Jarvis is revealed as a Skrull agent who settles down to explain the Vera is not dead and he will save her - if the Avengers collect for him... "...The Stone"
He relays the history of a planet where a scientist-wizard had created the Resurrection Stone which could -"bring life to the dead!"


The stone was lost to massive wars across many planets. The Skrull was a trader who became aware of the Stone and watched as another searched for and located it. That chap however came to believe the stone was too powerful, split it in two and sent it to the past on Earth. The Skrull decided he needed heroes to act on his orders to find the gem halves.
(Shades of the Evil Eye in the Avengers/Defenders?)
Beast's verdict..? - "I-I'll do anything to get her back."


So, our four Avengers use Dr Doom's time machine with Mr Fantastic manning the controls (off-panel) and travel to Medieval England where they soon locate a child is using magic to toy with the dead. After fighting his zombie-minions the Beast grabs the stone and our heroes fade away...


They reappear in 1945 Germany - Dachau to be precise, where a prisoner has animated his dead family thanks to the stone he found.
The Beast appeals to the man who comes to accept the bodies are not his family reincarnated and the Beast gets the stone. Our heroes leave.


Both these two chapters feel painfully rushed, highly-emotional events are being played out here but the narrative dips quickly in and out of the stories without enough time to empathise.
This feels like an Annual-length story edited painfully down to a standard-length issue. It's a shame. It feels hollow.


The Beast at the climax (predictably?) decides that the power of the reunited two halves of te stone is too much to be wielded by any one being and so, even though this may doom girlfriend Vera ... he destroys the stones!
(This feels exactly like Doctor Who's 'Key-To-Time' series don't you think??)


The issue fades on an epilogue where Mr Fantastic explains to the Avengers (and we-the-readers) that Vera is not quite dead but will remain inert until some antidote may be found... in the future.
"There's hope--!"
It's a downbeat ending.


Okay, the over-the-top romance between Vera and our Beast is made way too much of just to get us to this bittersweet ending and as covered above the pacing is way off in this book but it still manages to act as abetter Avengers tale than the recent few we've struggled through.
If you're not aware, this issue gets a sequel in Defenders #105 which has a bigger role for Mr Fantastic and I wonder if writer DeMatteis was aware at this point that he was going to have the Beast to play with in that title when he wrote this one..?


We've probably now debated this issue more than it's been talked about since publication so maybe I should get to information that I'm going to follow the publishing/continuity order of the Official Marvel Index and that means....


Next Issue... Avengers Annual #10!!


Come Back...

This was part of a maturation process for the Beast in order to justify him leaving the Avengers and taking a leadership role in the Defenders. This more morose persona would eventually lead to Marvel Team Up #124 (D'82) by DeMatteis which included Vera but states that Hank McCoy hadn't seen his parents since becoming furry despite being a world-famous Avenger!

This version of the Beast would be hijacked into 1984's ill-fated Beauty & the Beast mini where Hank is over Vera and falls for Dazzler who was once involved with the Angel! Ick!

Richard Mantle said:

Avengers #209 (07/81)
Writer - J.M.DeMatteis Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Alan Kupperberg Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – Al Milgrom

I became a big fan of J.M.DeMatteis because of his multipart stories in the Spider-man books in the mid-90s, particularly the ones involving the Chameleon and Vermin.

Unfortunately, artist Alan Kupperberg passed away in 2015. (Not to be confused with his brother writer Paul Kupperberg, who is very much alive.

I’ve read #207-208. With nothing of my own to say, I relied on the posts to this thread to inpire me to say something. Nothing… except this:

“Somebody with access to all of these would have to determine if they are really the same realm or not.”

Not.

Avengers #209 is the first of three (not consecutive) issues written by J.M. DeMatteis that strike me as more “Defenders” than “Avengers” (actually, they’re more “DeMatteis” than anything). It was Captain America #268 which led me to collect DeMatteis’ Defenders. He was my favorite writer for a time.

“Vera's been around since the very early days…” Before DeMatteis is through with her, he’ll turn her punk.

“(Shades of the Evil Eye in the Avengers/Defenders?)
(This feels exactly like Doctor Who's 'Key-To-Time' series…)”


Reminds me more of Thanos’ Reality Gem.

“I wonder if writer DeMatteis was aware at this point that he was going to have the Beast to play with in [Defenders] when he wrote this one..?”

I imagine so (or Team-Up); he obviously was setting up a conclusion.

“This version of the Beast would be hijacked into 1984's ill-fated Beauty & the Beast…”

Don’t foget the last five issues of Dazzler by Paul Chadwick (yes, that Paul Chadwick), the best five issues of the series (the only good five issues of the series AFAIAC).

I have already read #210 (and I read Annual #10 recently for my own Ms. Marvel discussion), so I’ll be ready to move on whenever you are.

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