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:

Interestingly, still not quite a full view of Hawkeye in ‘that costume’.

It's probably the best look ever on a cover of his worst costume.

The tide of battle is turned when the Space Phantom threatens to kill the Reaper. Naturally the Avengers submit, but the Scarlet Witch has escaped.

A sign of the times in comics. Today if a villain threatened the life of another villain it would be "Yeah? So what?"

But No! It doesn’t work! Because of Rick’s body-sharing status with Captain Marvel the Phantom gets shunted into limbo himself (much like he did when he tried to swap with Thor before…you think he’d be more careful!).

If I were the Space Phantom I wouldn't expect so many people horning in on limbo.

Steve Englehart quote:

I had been a Don Heck fan from Marvel’s earliest days, and I never could understand why he wasn’t a universal favorite. His art had its quirks just like everybody’s, but he knew how to handle heroes and action, his men were clean-cut and handsome, his women were beautiful…

I echo his comments. Comparing him to Kirby, Steranko or Colan is unfair. He always did a great job as far as I'm concerned.

What remains of that unpublished Starhawk story (originally slated for Marvel Super Heroes) did see print in MMW Rarities. Roy Thomas had quite a bit to say about it. (That’s where I got the “Three R” thing.) there was another story that is well and truly lost (I don’t recall id it was another Starhawk or another Phantom Eagle), but it was scripted (for reasons I forget) with extremely campy dialogue, not intended for publication.

Don Heck did a good spooky job on The Beast that Walks Like a Man in Tales to Astonish#14. It was reprinted in the last issue of Chamber of Darkness, but didn't come out looking so good compared to Berni Wrightson's cover version of the same story. The same thing happened in the last issue of Tower of Shadows. Tom Sutton did a good job drawing Lovecraft's Pickman's Model, but again the cover image by Wrightson made Sutton's version seem a bit disappointing. Wrightson is a horribly tough act to follow. Again, though, I'm wondering why Heck wasn't all over House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Witching Hour, Expected, etc., where he could have done what he excelled at. Kirby did the same story as The Beast that Walks Like a Man (I think Ditko did that story as well) but Heck made his version atmospheric and spooky. Given a chance to work to his strengths Heck did some great work. As someone else mentioned on this site he had no business being on Avengers. But I think he woul have done a good job on something like Gerber's Headman storyline in Defenders.

I know Marvelmania published six pages of Starhawk and said they'd continue the story but didn't because the magazine was cancelled just then. (They never did find that guy, did they?) How many pages still exist?

A story I find surprisingly campy was the Brother Voodoo story that Fred Hembeck drew seriously. Didn't make sense for him to just once draw in a non-goofy style, only for the dialogue to make corny jokes. I think Hembeck did a pretty good job and was surprised he didn't do more work in a realistic style.

I think the lost story was Phantom Eagle but can't remember where I read that.

AVENGERS  #109 (03/73)

Writer – Steve Englehart

Art – Don Heck & Frank McLaughlin

Cover Art – Don Heck & Frank McLaughlin

The Measure of a Man!”

Can’t help but wonder what that cover would have looked at without the blue framing behind the logo.

Looks familiar?

Of course it does – very reminiscent (but not quite a homage?) to the debuts of Wonder man (#9) and the Red Guardian (#43)

Mostly importantly this spotlights fan-favourite Hawkeye and sees the oh-so-welcome return of his original costume!

Curiously the detail is not as good on this cover as it is inside – the ornate gilt texturing to Hawkeye’s cowl is beautifully depicted inside and yet omitted on this cover and yet the same artists are responsible.

It remains a powerful and memorable cover – especially with its "Hawkeye’s Cuttin’ Out!” blurb.

That’s kind of the story in a nutshell too – Hawkeye quits the team.

We open with a frantic splash of Hawkeye working off his frustration with, ironically, possibly the best page depicting the Grecian costume – from three angles no less.

It falls to Thor, watching on to theorise that it may be the changing personal relationships that defeats the Avengers rather than any direct enemy…

We meet our antagonist – a hitherto never seen millionaire eight-feet tall and hugely powerful who physically prevents his own plane from leaving without him. (Couldn’t he have just called the pilot? He owns the airline!?)

Continuing the navel-gazing for the Avengers it falls to Iron Man to address the Vision and Scarlet Witch’s newfound love for each other and we learn the android will not be taking the name ‘Simon’ but will remain with ‘Vision’ to emphasise he is not actually Simon Williams regardless of where his brainwaves came from.

I never – really, never – considered Vision anything like Simon Williams and it threw me for a curve many years later when John Byrne brought up the Wanda loves Simon’ issues but I cannot deny it should have been an obvious plot point/question all along.

Is it just me or is this encounter with Iron Man written as Iron Man almost but not quite saying…’Are you mad woman? He’s a robot?”

We are reminded that we the readers know where Quicksilver has been since he disappeared in these pages – but Wanda doesn’t know yet. This in itself seems a little strange – almost as if the timings were wrong because we get the reunion scene next issue – this footnote feels like Marvel couldn’t keep the secret any more!

I really feel that the pacing of the overall arc would have benefited from the reunion scene fitting in within this issue.

Thankfully the Vision explains that he now understands that the reason Lorelei’s voice  (in #105)didn’t work on him was not because he is inhuman but because he’s got plastic ears…we knew that all along didn’t we!

The meat of this story kicks in as Hawkeye can take everyone else’s happiness no-longer and – in a sadly non-dramatic small panel – changes to his original costume, “I’m goin’ back to basics, to where I belong, as—Hawkeye the Marksman!”

That freaky guy Champion chooses that moment to appear and offer Hawkeye “One million dollars to your favourite charity if you’ll teach me archery.”

They fly off to the billionaires haunt where Hawkeye does indeed teach his craft.

Champion sends a forged letter to the Avengers explaining Hawkeye’s absence

Once Champion is a …well, champion archer, he announces his true plans to a flabbergasted Hawkeye.

You see this man who has everything wants a sunken vessel containing a nerve gas, but the vessel is not in international waters and so he wants to trigger the San Andreas Fault, cause earthquakes that will submerge California into the sea which will then mean the boat will be available to him and he’ll go get it.

Honestly.

I read it again. That’s it.

Why he wants the gas we don’t know, what’s stopping him from getting it we don’t know.

I guess we’re supposed to believe the guy is completely mad but that’s a way out plan for any comic isn’t it?

Of course Hawkeye won’t stand for this and a fight ensues.

The Scarlet Witch suddenly doesn’t believe the ‘goodbye’ letter from their teammate as he didn’t sign it ‘Clint’ and so the Avengers race off to find and rescue him.

“I agree with Wanda”

"That figures”

Hawkeye is tied to one of many bombs and Champion lines up to fire an arrow to set off the reaction.

Even he acknowledges he could have just set up a button to fire but where’s the drama in that!?

Just in time the Avengers arrive and defeat Champion’s minions but it falls to our spotlit hero Hawkeye to complete a unique archery feat to shoot out Champion’s bow string just as he fires his own bow.

Champion is defeated, California is safe and Hawkeye is back with his Avenger teammates…

…well, no…Hawk takes this as an opportunity to leave the team, strike out as a solo hero and leaves the team.

I still can’t read that ending without shouting “Nooo!” – Hawkeye finally gets some respect from the Avengers writers, gets a spotlight he has long deserved, gets RID of that costume and being at the top of his game…leaves.

It turns out that he kind of stays around Marvel for some time – in fact he becomes a guest star all over the place before settling in on ‘the other side’ for the upcoming Avengers –Defenders War. Was this phase Hawkeye being checked out to see if he could generate enough sales for his own title at this point?

So, the story and motivation of Champion leaves much to be desired here, the fact that Champion is freakishly 8 feet tall is kind of superfluous and his ridiculous ‘evil-costume’ helps explain why no-one thought to bring him back before Kurt Busiek .

Why did Champion’s henchmen wear those weird costumes with bandage-like masks anyway?

Artwise and Rick Buckler or Jim Starlin are sorely missed here. Or at least Dave Cockrum’s inking. I know Don Heck has his fans but I’ve never been one of them, he’s functional at best and here he is incredibly stiff and while I love the fact that he kept to Hawkeye’s original look – with such detail – I don’t like much else.

So, Hawkeye’s gone?

Running low on heroes?

Enter guest stars the X-Men!

Come back...

All these years and I never did notice the similarity between the covers of #9 and #109 (or #9 and #43 for that matter). Hawkeye crossed over first into Hulk #166 before landing in Defenders #8, but I read Avengers #109 last. I didn’t start collecting Avengers regularly until the ‘80s. I read all of these issues somewhat after-the-fact as back issues. Neither Englehart nor anyone else had much use for Champion it seems. Kurt Busiek dug him out of the mothballs during his tenure, but as far as I know I think that’s it. Here is what Englehart had to say about this issue.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON #109:

“Goodness! I had to climb outside the box once more. But this time I had a hand in the plan. My good friend Steve Gerber was writing Daredevil, and over dinner one night, I told him I was thinking of having Hawkeye leave the group, since (character-wise) he was Wanda’s ‘rejected suitor’—and he reminded me that Hawkeye was also (character-wise) a rejected suitor of the Black Widow, who co-starred in his book. So between mouthfuls, we did what Marvel writers did, and linked the two series on the spot. Hawkeye would go to Natasha’s world, then she and Daredevil would come over to mine. The archer was leaving my book for some unspecified time, because as Wanda’s rejected suitor, he’d complicate the situation unnecessarily, but I liked contributing to the Marvel Universe in the process.

“Plotwise, man cannot live by recycled villains alone, so I created Mister Champion. I needed someone to move Hawkeye out of the group, and Champion fit the bill after I decided to have him need an archery teacher—pretty much the definition of a plot-driven decision, which works for others but not necessarily for me. Champion’s impressive to look at, and I rather like the character I built into him with his backstory, but what could he actually do besides loom? Which is why I never used him again in any of my series.”


thanks as ever Jeff,
Jeff of Earth-J said:                                                                                                                                                                     All these years and I never did notice the similarity between the covers of #9 and #109 (or #9 and #43 for that matter).

If you check out #43 you even get similar poses re Cap/Iron man /Hercules...look...

Hawkeye crossed over first into Hulk #166 before landing in Defenders #8,

I loved the early Defenders stuff and Haweye fits the team very well - as we will see when we get to the crossover issues. I also adored Hulk #166 and I desperatly wanted an excuse to critique that issue in this thread, but I can't really justify it as an Avengers event issue ...but I do count DD #99...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEVE ENGLEHART ON #109: --but I liked contributing to the Marvel Universe in the process.

That's what is so great about this phase, the Marvel Universe really begins to gell as a single continuity.

 

"...but I do count DD #99."

I was wondering if you were going to include DD #99. (Englehart did.)

There is a linear time-line that does actually work...

Reply by Jeff of Earth-J 51 minutes ago
"...but I do count DD #99."
I was wondering if you were going to include DD #99. (Englehart did.)
Oh...I forgot to mention a little piece of trivia...
Captain America features on the cover but does NOT appear inside at all.
Even though this was teh same creative team.

My memory's a little fuzzy now, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I saw Clint in his original costume.  And although neither the story nor the art are all that great, this issue strikes me as when Englehart starts to really come into his own, making the changes that he sees are necessary to the membership for the stories he wants to tell.  Note that when this issue came out, Clint had been continuously an active Avenger since issue #16, far longer than anyone else, appearing in 94 issues in a row (albeit, not always in the same costume), unless you count maybe the one or two issues when he went missing during the Kree-Skrull War.  And I think Englehart handled Clint's emotional turmoil fairly well.  Sure, Clint was being immature, but believe me, I've known actual people even in their 60s or older act just as immaturely and for very similar reasons.  As for Champion, uh, ok he was meant to be a ridiculous throw-away villain and the idea of manufacturing an earthquake that would cause California to fall into the sea struck me as absurd even when my 11 year old self read this all those decades ago.  Eventually, within the next several million years, plate techtonics may cause a big chunk of California to split off from North America, and quite a bit of coastline will be submerged, but otherwise part of California would become an island (just as Madagascar split off from Africa 185 million years ago, and then from India 88 million years ago)  and the other part would still be part of North America.  But then, IIRC, the theatrical version of Lex Luthor a few years later had the same absurd idea. 

Funny, even with Thor, Iron Man, Wanda, Vizh and the Black Panther remaining as regulars, and with Cap only on temporary leave, a far more powerful team than the Kooky Quartet, this era of Avengers felt they were short-handed and needed to do some recruiting.  Well, it did make a handy reason for them to show up in Daredevil later on.  Unfortunately, I missed the next two issues and next thing I knew, Natasha was briefly a member and they were duking it out with a Lion God.

Richard Mantle said:

Can’t help but wonder what that cover would have looked at without the blue framing behind the logo.

Maybe red or purple would have looked better.

The Scarlet Witch suddenly doesn’t believe the ‘goodbye’ letter from their teammate as he didn’t sign it ‘Clint’ and so the Avengers race off to find and rescue him.

But could he have signed his name under the Comics Code?

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