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:

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.

Fred W. Hill said:

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.

This is just as absurd as Hercules towing Manhattan or Character X lifting Manhattan and putting it back.

At the north end of my city are the San Gabriel Mountains. On the other side of the mountains (not the other side of California) is the San Andreas Fault, which in some places can be seen with the naked eye. I live on the Pacific Plate, not the North American Plate. If/when there is a significant earthquake on the San Andreas Fault (there are a LOT of faults, not just one) some older buildings will be greatly damaged.

Like in Japan, newer buildings are constructed with earth movement in mind. Freeways are constructed with earth movement in mind. When some did in fact have major damage in the 1989 San Francisco and the 1994 Los Angeles earthquakes standards were raised and structures were retrofitted. The latest concern seems to be the effect on the water supply and power transmission. "Falling into the sea" is ridiculous.

There was also that line from the Steely Dan song, "My Old School" about "California tumbles into the sea, that'll be the day I go back to L.A.", really a joke taken in context.  During my California years, I lived in Long Beach (experiencing the 1971 quake), San Francisco and San Jose (when the 1989 quake struck).  Fortunately, the quakes never caused me any great calamity.  In '89, the power was out in my neighborhood for a couple of days; had a similar experience in my current abode in Jacksonville, FL, in 2004 after a powerful storm, but not quite hurricane force, hit the region. 

I suppose Englehart must have been hard up to think of what nasty thing the Champion could have planned and dumping CA into the sea seemed as reasonable as any other ridiculous nastiness comicbook villains have devised and he apparently never bothered to think exactly where the San Andreas Fault was in California or notice that California is not just a narrow strip of land hanging precariously onto the rest of the country.  I suppose Chanpion's next plans were to chisel Maine apart from New Hampshire and create a massive windstorm to knock Florida into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. 

The GCD ascribes the #109 cover to John Buscema and Sal Buscema or John Verpoorten. I'm not a particularly good judge, but for what it's worth my first thought was that the penciller might be Rich Buckler, and the Panther figure reminds me of George Tuska. I can't see Heck's hand in it at all. It strikes me as a cover that would not have been out of place on a Marvel comic in the Shooter era. The handing of Hawkeye's shoulders is odd and might be a tell for the penciller or inker.

The #43 Red Guardian cover was in turn a variation on the Wonder Man cover of Avengers #9, probably consciously so. The reuse of the layout on #109 might be due to editor Roy Thomas.

You are quite right, Luke. I missed a line of credits I'm afraid! (I generally use the 'Official Marvel Indexes' as reference and literally missed a line! ! Sorry!)

That explains the discrepancies.

I will be more dedicated.

Luke Blanchard said:

The GCD ascribes the #109 cover to John Buscema and Sal Buscema or John Verpoorten.

To me, Wanda's face on that cover, looks exactly how John Buscema drew her, as does the Panther's pose.  If I had to guess, I'd say it was drawn by Big John B.

AVENGERS  #110 (04/73)

Writer – Steve Englehart

Art – Don Heck & Frank Giacoia + Mike Esposito

Cover Art – Gil Kane & Frank Giacoia

“…And Now Magneto!”

I won’t hear a word against Gil Kane – so this is a beautiful classic cover.

It’s so good that surely everyone will forgive that Gil drew the X-Men in their old fashioned costumes rather than their graduation ones that they appear inside wearing.

It wasn’t even his fault, the last time he drew the team (MTU #4?) they were seen in these throwback uniforms before trying a ‘realistic-costumeless-look’ so he’s forgiven Okay.

That aside, it’s a great cover, even though Magneto is crowing over destroying the remaining three X-Men only – as there’s no Angel or Beast on the cover.

I still maintain Kane drew the best Iceman ever.

I also love the little things, like the colouring of the masthead Vision the same lighter colouring of the Vision in the cover action – although it does  make you wonder if there’s two Visions this issue and the colouring of the logo the same as Magneto foreshadows Magneto’s mastery over our title team doesn’t it?

And so to the action…

At Avengers mansion the avengers are sparring with each other when Thor bursts in and calls all the team to the communications room where finally the team learn what happened to Quicksilver after the Sentinel’s battle of #104 – which we loyal readers of the FF already knew.

Pietro announces his intention to marry Crystal of the Inhumans and happy Wanda announces her newfound love for the Vision right back at him.

In the space of one panel Quicksilver becomes the most universally disliked Avenger ever (discuss?) as he condemns his sister’s ‘travesty’ – “No sister of mine may become involved with a – a—a robot!”

Wanda is devastated and is comforted by the Vision.

There is a lovely panel during Quicksilver’s rant where Iron Man, Thor and Black Panther look on uncomfortably – very human panel, love it.

Cap sums up the general thinking though…”Pietro lived under the same roof with the Vision. How will the outside world hurt them…?”

There is a hasty discussion about dwindling membership and we (again?!) learn of the Black Panther’s considering returning home to his kingdom. Dull.

In a ‘lets-not-ask-why’ scene we get on the communicator screen a tour of destruction left at the X-Men’s mansion and see apparently injured Professor X shouting defiance at the camera.

The Avengers stumble over recongising him until they race off to help him from whatever had happened and the plot really begins…

The Avengers arrive at the X-Men residence and find unconscious mutants, fight the mansion’s defenses (a la their own home) and rescue the good guys from an upward landslide.

It’s naturally the Scarlet Witch who names Magneto as being the obvious suspect for their current enemy and  suddenly they’re attacked by…dinosaurs.

The monsters are controlled by a Piper but the teams are prevented from reaching him by another rockslide.

We then learn that Magneto was disguised as casualty the Angel and ‘rescued’ by the Avengers (in one of Iron Man’s more ridiculous actions! - he’d met the Angel several times before!)

Another rockslide and Magneto escapes, having captured the X-Men and some of the Avengers.

He announces he has a ‘new secret power’ and he cannot fail! 

The remaining free Avengers, Thor, Black Panther and the Vision vow to beat him…

That ending is ridiculously rushed, the last few panels containing all the explanation of Magneto’s new status. 

The entire fight against the dinosaurs could have been cut from the issue and the pacing would have been much better.

I’ve never fully got my head around Magneto wearing the Angel’s costume or where the Angel is supposed to be at this particular point in continuity (he was seen in MTU #4 wasn’t he?).

I am aware that the Beast was off getting furry but maybe that should have been explained for the uninitiated. 

We get a sub-plot page of Hawkeye dropping in to see the Black Widow only to hear from injured Ivan that she’s off with Daredevil so…he sits in a tree to wait for her!

What this does show is that he may be finished with the team but clearly Englehart’s not finished yet with Hawkeye’s association with the Avengers and it’s a pleasure. 

It’s also the reason why we’ll next be covering…Daredevil #99…

Come back.

Missed this issue and the next when they first came out although I did get DD #99.  Last time I'd seen Magneto was in the FF, including Jack Kirby's very last issue and John Romita's first.  Anyone know if Englehart already had the Secret Empire's schemes involving mutants already in mind when he wrote this, which would explain the absent Angel or was it an oversight Englehart was able to incorporate into a subplot he came up with later?  If the former, Englehart was doing some longrange planning early on.

Kane had also drawn the X-Men in their original costumes recently on covers he did for reprint issues of The X-Men (most recently #79 and #80).

DAREDEVIL  #99 (05/73)

Writer – Steve Gerber

Art – Sam Kweskin & Syd Shores

Cover Art – John Romita

The Mark of Hawkeye!”

There’s quite a bit to say about this cover. Firstly – it’s drawn by John Romita and therefore is beautiful (and so much better than the interior artwork!).

I am grateful to see original costume Hawkeye looking so classic (it’s along time away from the ridiculous lengths his skirt gets to!) and no-one but no-one draws a better Black Widow.

In this case I like the boxed cover picture as the double masthead with equal billing for co-star the Widow  and the two illustrations makes for a powerful cover identity.

It is also notable that Hawkeye is a big enough draw to be the ‘guest star’ selling point for the issue – with no mention of the Avengers appearances inside.

What is a surprise, still, is that this all occurs in Daredevil’s 99th issue – not a ‘special double-sized’ Avengers fest but just a non-celebration any-old-issue storyline.

S, I love the cover…it’s a shame it’s by far the best thing about this issue.

I include this issue as part of the ongoing Avengers storyline for the reasons it is included in both the Masterworks series and the essentials series – it does progress the Avengers story which would lack a beat if not included. (My prized ‘The Sentinels Strike’ Avengers colour trade paperback from 2008 does not include this issue and it is a glaring mistake.)

I was not and never really have been a follower of Daredevil as a title although I’ve picked up enough choice issues through the years to keep up with main events, I confess however to not really knowing what’s happening at the opening of this issue where we see a battered Daredevil and his current partner the Black Widow, returning to his home.

We have a hanger-on by the name of Paul Carson – who I have no knowledge of whatsoever.

Apparently they’ve just battled (and presumably beaten) ‘the Dark Messiah’ and want a rest  only to be confronted by an angry Hawkeye, flanked by a weakened previously injured Ivan who I do recognise as Natasha’s friend and confidant but don’t know the nature of his injuries. This does neatly follow from Hawkeye’s scene in Avengers #110 and even mentions he’s been hanging about tin that tree between issues.

That’s continuity I respect.  No honestly I do…we even learn it was a pear tree…I’m not sure if it’s appeared again….

Everyone seems very fraught and basically Daredevil and Hawkeye begin to fight each other over the right to call the Black Widow their girl.

There is a use of a bright light arrow that means DD has to pretend to be blinded because well, he’s already blind…you get that don’t you? Does he really do that every issue – he always seems to when I read him...

We also get a loud-noise-arrow which really hurts DD because of his heightened senses…you get that don’t you? Does he really do that every issue…?

I’m glossing over this as it’s basically one painfully long drawn out skirmish between heroes that eventually ends in an agreed draw and a deal made… “’Tasha decides.”

During this pointless battle we actually geta  very telling and important one panel of the Avengers, which at this point only consist of Thor, Vision and the Black Panther. They follow up on their need to recruit Avengers to the active roster to battle Magneto.

We get an interesting run down of the current state of all heroes Avenger – Scarlet Witch Iron Man and Captain America – out of action captured by Maggie,.

Falcon, Spider-Man and Luke Cage cannot be located. – that’s a shame, but interesting that they were sought out even at this stage.

 Not even a consideration of asking the Black Widow herself or, curiously of Hank and Jan Pym (or are they still believed to be dead?)

It’s the Black Panther that decided to go seek out Daredevil…

That one panel is probably the most important panel of this entire issue.

After the deal made by out dueling heroes we find out that those Avengers have arrived to recruit Daredevil. but they ask Hawkeye to rejoin while he’s there. Hawkeye manages to annoy everyone by making it all about him rather than consider the Avengers predicament and he storms off.

The Black Panther calls in a favour DD owes him and DD is kind of drafted into the team “As sort of a free home trial?” and Thor actually announces the Widow’s membership without actually asking her. “Thor—Panther—Vision – Daredevil----and Black widow as well ---- Avengers All!”

And that new grouping fly off to the next avengers issue which seems a really strange set up for DD’s next #100 th issue – especially as that does NOT contain this plotline.

Artwise and this issue is pretty awful. I don’t know who  Sam kweskin is or if he’s ever drawn anything else but he has real trouble with Hawkeye’s mask while his Daredevil is better every good panel looks like a Gene Colan swipe.

This is really not a good issue, it’s a drawn out senseless agreement that could have been covered in a couple of pages of the main Avengers title but it is a curiosity worthy of a look for surely this is the first non-Avengers issue where an Avenger is appointed as a member…?

Should Daredevil really have been offered membership?

Thankfully we’ll be back in proper Avengers continuity next chapter…

Come back…

Steve Englehart was Marvel’s unofficial custodian of X-Men at this point. There are two remarkable volumes of Marvel Masterworks which present all of the various mutants’ appearances between issue #66 and G.S. #1 in chronological order, and Englehart discusses his involvement in the introductions to those. I’m a bit pressed for time this week, so I’ll just post his comments on the comics presently under discussion.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON #110:

“Okay, now we can get to tying up the loose end of Pietro’s disappearance, which Roy Thomas was explaining over in his Fantastic Four since he’d initiated it. Pietro’s a special case in the story of my internal Roy-Steve blindness, in that I, like everyone, had no problem with the idea that he would marry Crystal, and it never occurred to me to question it—but in later years, I kept finding that the key to him lay in that wildly inappropriate anger of his. No matter how nice he was, he could go off at any time, and over time I began to see him less as a hero with Anger-management problems and more as a villain who never saw himself as a villain, so that others failed to see it as well. He functioned as a good Avenger from time to time, but he always went off in the end. He just couldn’t be a team player, so he spent most of his time alone, and the idea of his getting married was more what everybody expected of him than anything he really wanted. In the end, that led to Crystal looking for love elsewhere, in Vision & The Scarlet Witch, and his flipping out over it in West Coast Avengers. I was pursuing that in the last stories I did as a full-time Marvel writer, so it’s eerie to see the signposts for it here, when I absolutely didn’t recognize them then. All I needed from him was that anger, which was right there to be had because he couldn’t cut his sister any slack.

“Then we got some insights into the individual Avengers, which was always fun, as we made our way toward the other member of Wanda’s immediate family, her father, Magneto. One way or another, the saga of Wanda and Vizh was the linchpin of this book, but beyond that, I was the de facto X-Man guru at this point, since I had been writing the Beast. I say ‘de facto’ because no one was in charge of the merry mutants after they were reduced to guest stars in the Marvel Universe, but I was the guy who’d used them last, and continued to guest-star them pretty often through those years.

“One final thing: the credits say ‘Don Heck drew it,’ but that’s John Buscema starting on page 13. Don must have gotten sick; he was always on time otherwise.”

STEVE ENGLEHART ON DD #99:

“I told Steve Gerber what I wanted him to do with the Avengers, and then he put that into his story. I had nothing else to do with it, and I wish I could say more about it, since he’s most unfortunately not here to do it himself, but I can’t. If you needed something done in a fellow writer’s book, you mentioned it over a bowl of pasta and that’s all there was to it. The flip side was, you trusted him to do it and didn’t worry about how he’d do it, so you didn’t come away knowing how he did it.”

As always, thankyou Jeff,
fascinating view of Quicksilver worthy of a thread of his own.

This is an interesting variation of a Marvel superheroes fight because this clash between DD & Clint was absolutely not due to a "misunderstanding" -- it was entirely due to two guys acting like jerks over  woman, which is all too common in the real world.  Of course, Clint was the bigger jerk and a complete idiot thinking he could win Natasha back by beating up on DD, despite the fact that she effectively broke up with Clint long before she had even met DD.  Basically, Clint was romantically frustrated, thinking with his little head, and aching for a fight.  He sort of longed for Wanda because although she never showed any interest in him, she seemed available, at least until it became clear she was keen on Vizh.  Well, Clint was smart enough to know he couldn't fight against that, but he and Natasha had once been an item and the little head told him, hey, knock out her current boyfriend and she'll be yours again! 

Not a classic by any means, but still a fun read IMO, and while Kweskin's art seemed a bit off to me even as a kid, I didn't think it was all that horrible -- at least not in the way I thought Frank Robbins art was horrible the first time I saw it in Captain America!  Per Wiki, he had done some art for Atlas in the '50s, but mostly worked in adverstising, returning to comics briefly in 1973, mostly working on Sub-Mariner, working with Everett on some of his last work before Everett died.

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