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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And in the Kookie Quartet days, Wanda had google-eyes for Cap, who showed no interest in her.  Seems odd that even when Hawkeye thought Natasha was dead or otherwise forever lost to him, he wasn't depicted as having any serious interest in Wanda.  
 
Ron M. said:

It's not surprising Hawkeye would assume Wanda was available. It seemed like he didn't have any competition for her until it was too late to compete. The Black Panther and the Black Knight showed no interest in her that way, Hercules did, but he acted that way with all women (like Jane Foster) and wasn't around that long anyway. Quicksilver was her brother. And the Vision was some kind of robot. Who would have thought she'd fall for the robot?

Seems odd that when he thought Natasha was dead his first thought was to join the Avengers and prove he wasn't a crook. Like she'd put a spell on him and he came out of it as soon as she died. And did he just walk off and leave her lying where he found her? How do you hold someone in your arms, decide they're dead, and walk off leaving them still alive?

I've read it's been established in recent years that Natasha is about as old as Nick Fury to keep her backstory of being a former KBG agent. When did that happen? Even in the 60s, wouldn't she have been quite a bit older than Clint?

I'm pretty sure Natasha's origin as a survivor of the Battle of Stalingrad, or some other WWII battle, wasn't established until much later, so in the Silver Age she might've been a few years older than Clint, maybe 25 to his 20 circa 1965.  And, yeah, that flashback scene from Avengers 16 is odd -- you'd think that he would've gone to the hospital with her.  Guess it'll have to be chalked up to Clint's insecurities and immaturity that he assumed the worst and didnt' seek to find out what really happened to her-- and Lee, Kirby & Heck being rather slapdash about such plot points at the time. 

 

Of course, it gets even more complicated now that since Tony Stark now didn't become Iron Man until after the end of the Cold War 25 years ago, Clint & Natasha couldn't have met while taking on Iron Man as part of a KGB plot because the KGB wouldn't have existed by then.  Not to mention that now Iron Man never fought the Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo!  At some point Marvel's just gonna have to give up and tell everyone that all the popular characters in their universe get immortality pills which not only keeps them perpetually young or at least healthily middle-aged but also causes them to forget how old they really are, so that now Reed & Ben have no memory of having been World War II veterans and simply stop mentioning it.
 
Ron M. said:

Seems odd that when he thought Natasha was dead his first thought was to join the Avengers and prove he wasn't a crook. Like she'd put a spell on him and he came out of it as soon as she died. And did he just walk off and leave her lying where he found her? How do you hold someone in your arms, decide they're dead, and walk off leaving them still alive?

I've read it's been established in recent years that Natasha is about as old as Nick Fury to keep her backstory of being a former KBG agent. When did that happen? Even in the 60s, wouldn't she have been quite a bit older than Clint?

AVENGERS #104 (10/72)
Writer - Roy Thomas
Art – Rich Buckler Inker - Joe Sinnott
Cover Art – Rich Buckler & Joe Sinnott
“With A Bang—And a Whimper!”
The cover spotlighting the Scarlet Witch who by being captured by the Sentinels put her at the heart of this three-part tale is very apt. Her figure is a bit too small for centre-stage though and the blue colouring in her hex-spheres depicted, pushes the cover into ‘too-blue’ which distracts slightly. I like the little spotlight behind the logo-Vision though.
Oh and where’s the rest of Thor’s cape?
Picky –well yes but…but – for instance I do love the melted hole in Iron Man’s arm armour (look closer!) see little details matter!
We open with Quicksilver racing through an Australian airport to the outback with Larry Trask in tow (and still in swim trunks). We get a neat recap of Wanda’s being kidnapped b y a Sentinel against the backdrop of the solar flares and the other Sentinels.
Quicksilver soon realises that they are witnessing the Avengers battling the Sentinels at the ‘anthill’ top from afar.
The idea that Quicksilver’s adventure runs alongside the rest of the team’s but they don’t actually meet up or have the reunion we all expect is a creditably good one that I like and it does work quite realistically.
Anyway, all our heroes get into the secret Sentinel base by one means or another and the idea of using the mutant power of the Scarlet Witch to power a machine to destroy the world leaving it free from mutants…and any other life. (Isn’t that the plot of the first X-Men film?)
“For technical reasons, the disruptor’s purpose was best served by a female mutant. You’re precise whereabouts as an Avenger are far better known than those of the one called Marvel girl.” – either sounds like pushing a point or is actually a clever way of Roy Thomas explaining why this is an Avengers tale and not an X-Men one.
Trask has more ‘future visions’ where he watches ‘number Two’ blast the Avengers to atoms and everything goes black as the universe ends…
Pietro races a Sentinel in a powerful battle, deliberately injuring himself so that the Sentinel crashes into a wall unable to react fast enough and is destroyed.
This actually is a very powerful scene and a great moment for Quicksilver, leaving him broken and vulnerable. He sends Trask on to fulfill their mission only to be confronted by an unseen enemy in a surprise plot twist.
“Something –appearing in front of me – something huge – horrible—“
Everyone now knows what this was and where Quicksilver went next …
SPOILER
See Fantastic Four #131
SPOIKLER
This was a memorable event and I loved the way it was revealed, this idea of a shared universe was a wonderful example of what made Marvel so successful in this time.
As for the characterisations behind the move out of Avengers family into another r title’s family I leave that for others a t this point but we will revisit Quicksilver…
Trask races pasta reconstruction TV presentation of the end of the world which explains his previous ‘future-vision’ seeing the earth cracking up (which always felt like a bit of a cheat – he saw the future and it was a film he was watching later…? Not the greatest fit Roy.
We do get to see the actual battle between Number Two and the Avengers where it appears the Sentinel is blasting them to atoms so that ‘future vision’ is a much more acceptable plot point.
The Scarlet Witch steps in to save her teammates as Trask reveals that not only is he a mutant (well d’uh we all knew that’) but…so is Number Two!!
Yes, the closeness to the Sun from the end of the X-men adventure had somehow mutated the head Sentinel into a mutant-Sentinel and made him the actual enemy he was trying to eradicate!
This is SOO James T Kirk.
Rather than in a Star Trek vein of getting Number Two to destroy himself Roy Thomas gets the remaining sentinels to destroy their mutant leader and then without his leadership…turn themselves off.
Unfortunately the disabled Sentinels fall to the ground and crush poor Larry Trask to death.
For Trask everything went black…so you see his ‘future vision’ was right, for him anyway…the end of everything!

That is actually still a powerful death and there is a palpable sense of loss as the Avengers (not realising they may be leaving Quicksilver behind) abandon the Sentinel base and return home…

So ends a wonderful three-part adventure that has so much to raise it above other stories.
The art is beautiful and actually much better than you tend to remember it as.
I enjoyed this story, powerful and dramatic but full of angst and original twists, Roy Thomas has his critics but I liked his work on the Avengers, which formally ends here and this was a classy tale to end on with some nice Thomas continuity nods.
As for the Avengers a s a title and a team, with active Avengers Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, Thomas hands over to Steve Englehart for his own long tenure, with a ‘Search for Quicksilver’ sub-plot reminiscent of the ‘Search for the Hulk’ task for Cap’s Kooky Quartet’ after the changes of #16.
Where Englehart takes the title will surprise everyone…
Come back…
sorry - my link seems to be only part functioning again today - can't upload the cover into it's position today!

I've noticed they pretty much avoid giving you a good look at Hawkeye's new costume on the covers. And I believe it disappears about the same month Barry Smith leaves Marvel. Maybe Roy just accepted it to make him happy and felt once he'd left Conan he could get rid of it. Clint had lousy taste in costumes. Like the chest strap for Goliath II. Or maybe bad costumes coming in was a sign the Silver Age was over.

Thank you John.

See - way too blue 

And you're right Ron, they're trying quite hard to hide Hawkeye's costume!

Despite coming in during the last 3rd of the story, I quite enjoyed this issue which I first read as a 10 year old in 1972, and although I missed the next two issues, with 107 I started getting the title regularly, at least whenever I could find the latest issue and enough money on me.  Buckler does a beautiful imitation of Neal Adams -- I prefer it a bit over his Kirby-style used in the FF & Thor.  Among the things that might have been off-putting to newcomers to Marvel was all the references to previous stories, including those from other titles, as well as ongoing subplots that aren't resolved by the last page.  In my case, tho', it made me want more -- I just really dug the growing Marvel mythos.  And since I had already been collecting the FF, I'd at least see the resolution of the new "threat" Pietro faced -- a beautiful girl and her really big dog! 

I got this issue in the 90s and still haven't been able to get the two before it or the one after it. Getting comics here was difficult back then since I had to hope the two liquor stores near my home would carry the comics I wanted. Too often I'd find nothing left but comics I already had, Charlton, or Harvey. As far as I can remember few DCs turned up there besides Flash and sometimes Justice League. I then managed to pick up #106-109 and then the next issue I saw was the one where Swordsman and Mantis joined. Picked up #111, #117, and #120-123 in the 90s. Luckily the only chapter of the Avengers/Defenders War I somehow missed back then was #117, so I knew the Swordsman had been shot but not why or by whom. From #124 to the issue where Wonder Man came back I managed to get them all. After #152 I started missing issues again for some reason. Possibly because after Englehart they couldn't keep a writer on the title very long. In 1978 I dropped out and didn't come back until the Six Fingered Hand story in Defenders, which shocked me because suddenly the Ghost Rider was evil. I thought Tony Isabella was told to get rid of Satan so GR could be a traditionaly superhero title. Now I see he turned evil soon after that and it gradually became a horror series again. If they weren't going to stick to it why didn't they just leave him as he was, sparing Tony (and us) the messed up ending of the "Friend" storyline?

Ron M. said:

I've read it's been established in recent years that Natasha is about as old as Nick Fury to keep her backstory of being a former KBG agent. When did that happen? Even in the 60s, wouldn't she have been quite a bit older than Clint?

Fred W. Hill said:

Of course, it gets even more complicated now that since Tony Stark now didn't become Iron Man until after the end of the Cold War 25 years ago, Clint & Natasha couldn't have met while taking on Iron Man as part of a KGB plot because the KGB wouldn't have existed by then.

If someone were to read the original James Bond books, they would note that the state security agency back then was the NKVD, with its (fictional or not) subdivision SMERSH. The KGB replaced the NKVD when (I think) Stalin died. When the USSR broke up the KGB was replaced by the FSB in the Russian Federation. Natasha should probably have a backstory with the FSB today. SSDD

Tying comics characters into real wars, real presidents, and other real events always seems cool at the time and later becomes a pain.

Richard Mantle said:

Yes, the closeness to the Sun from the end of the X-men adventure had somehow mutated the head Sentinel into a mutant-Sentinel and made him the actual enemy he was trying to eradicate!

Did Roy happen to mention why a non-organic robot would mutate and not just melt? Did they establish that the Sentinels had some organic components?

See - way too blue

I think with all the blue a black frame would have worked better. I was going to suggest purple but that conflicts with the Sentinel hands.

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