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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If we can have several Thors and several Human Torches today, it shouldn't have been a problem to have two Ghost Riders back then. Years later we'd be told this particular Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider was a psycho whose death would break up Hawkeye and Mockingbird's marriage. They changed his name to Phantom Rider after hearing that Night Rider is slang for the Ku Klux Klan.

I like most of Englehart's work, but he has a thing about splitting his stories unequally, like he did with the origins of Vision and Mantis. When he tells one of his stories he seems to forget he has another one running.

I have never gotten the idea that Two Gun Kid decides to come to the present because, of all of them, he's the most like a modern day superhero because he has a masked identity. The Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider doesn't count because...there's another guy in the present with his name that he isn't even using any more? Having never seen these guys before I immediately wanted to know more about the glowing faceless guy, not the guy that was obviously playing Lone Ranger.

Why is Iron Man on the cover? Did they decide they needed another modern day hero to sell the book? Or was he originally supposed to go with Thor and the cover was made before it was decided to have him go with the rest of the team?

I meant to mention this Ronald - sorry - I'm going with someone thought the other Avengers needed representation but it makes for s false cover.

Ronald Morgan said
>Why is Iron Man on the cover? Did they decide they needed another modern day hero to sell the book? Or was he originally supposed to go with Thor and the cover was made before it was decided to have him go with the rest of the team?

This is the most bizarre example of that whole business of Marvel characters having some instinctive ability to change their names when someone else starts using their old one--Johnny Blaze starts calling himself "Ghost Rider", and suddenly, 100 years in the past, Carter/Lincoln/Whoever Slade feels the need to change his name to "Phantom Rider"!  That totally tops Richie Ryder going from the "Man Called Nova" to "Kid Nova" because Frankie Raye started using the "Nova" name on the far side of the galaxy!  Should we just accept that Mark Gruenwald's trans-time continuity agency has a heck of a trademark enforcement division?

Ronald Morgan said:

If we can have several Thors and several Human Torches today, it shouldn't have been a problem to have two Ghost Riders back then. Years later we'd be told this particular Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider was a psycho whose death would break up Hawkeye and Mockingbird's marriage. They changed his name to Phantom Rider after hearing that Night Rider is slang for the Ku Klux Klan.

I like most of Englehart's work, but he has a thing about splitting his stories unequally, like he did with the origins of Vision and Mantis. When he tells one of his stories he seems to forget he has another one running.

I have never gotten the idea that Two Gun Kid decides to come to the present because, of all of them, he's the most like a modern day superhero because he has a masked identity. The Ghost/Night/Phantom Rider doesn't count because...there's another guy in the present with his name that he isn't even using any more? Having never seen these guys before I immediately wanted to know more about the glowing faceless guy, not the guy that was obviously playing Lone Ranger.

Why is Iron Man on the cover? Did they decide they needed another modern day hero to sell the book? Or was he originally supposed to go with Thor and the cover was made before it was decided to have him go with the rest of the team?

Richard Mantle said:

Thor gets angry, the missing Hawkeye's name is mentioned and a truce called leading everyone to the town of Tomestone (honestly!) and secret identity of Two-Gun Kid - Matt Hawk's office where Hawkeye awaits.

I was going to visit Tombstone last year as part of a driving trip, but plans changed.

So yep, it's all thinly held together so that we can be treated to Marvel heroes in the Wild West and I guess it's okay for that. It's only the Two-Gun Kid who gets any real characterisation out of all the cowboy folk though which is kind of a shame.

Before Marvel started the Fantastic Four I was reading their monster books and westerns. Other than the wonderful artwork, the westerns weren't that great. The heroes were pretty interchangeable, if I recall correctly. Two-Gun Kid had his secret identity and, I think, a town and supporting cast. The others that I read (Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt) were wanderers without supporting casts. They reacted to things and didn't really have any characterization.

Also those stories were just too short to develop any characterization or much of a plot. Difficult but possible to do a good story at 13 pages. Imagine if Dr. Strange had been left at 5-8 pages.

I recall having read a few of Marvel's westerns when I was a kid and the only one that really stood out to me was the Two-Gun Kid, mainly because the stories tended to be better, IMO, but then also maybe because it was the most similar to the superhero comics I liked.  Otherwise, I was never a big fan of westerns -- I didn't dislike them, and certainly watched many episodes of Bonanza and Gunsmoke when they were still airing new episodes of those shows, oh, and of course, The Wild, Wild West was a favorite tv show of my youth.    I thought this issue was fun little romp.  And George Perez still learning the ropes of his craft at this point was still better than many other artists with far more experience behind them.  

They did a few superhero-like stories in the 60s, introducing characters like a Dr. Doom-like villain named Iron Mask, and a super fast draw called Hurricane. Ghost Rider also had a few of those, but his series only lasted 7 issues, then he got moved to an anthology series, Western Gunfighters. Despite getting most of the cover and lead story in each issue, he's killed in #6, replaced by his brother in #7, then immediately dumped for the Black Rider in #8, making you wonder they bothered with the change.

In mid-1960 Marvel had three Western heroes: Kid Colt, the original Two-Gun Kid, and a new character, Rawhide Kid. "Kid Colt" was drawn by Jack Keller, and had been for years. Two-Gun Kid was a gunslinger who wore dark blue/black. His stories were being drawn by John Severin. Rawhide Kid also dressed in black, but was young, scrappy, and a trickshooter. Jack Kirby drew his series.

Kirby took over Two-Gun Kid's stories near his title's end, but it was dropped at the start of 1961. The masked Two-Gun Kid debuted in 1962, two months after Thor, Ant-Man and Spider-Man. Kirby drew the character's first three issues (which continued the old title's numbering), and it was then passed to Dick Ayers. Unlike Kid Colt and Rawhide Kid the masked Two-Gun had regular supporting characters.

It's my guess Englehart meant the Hawkeye/Two-Gun Kid pairing to echo the Lone Ranger's partnership with Tonto. I posted a history of Marvel's Silver Age Westerns here.

A couple of quick observations about Avengers #141:

  • Somehow it would have made more sense to have Hawkeye stay in the past than bring the Two-Gun Kid to the future.
  • It's comforting to know that Kang will be confronted by heroes no matter what era he invades!
  • I'm sure that Thor and Moondragon were impressed by the Night Rider's pseudo-supernatural powers!
  • As a kid, I knew about Marvel's Big 3 Western Heroes and even the original Ghost Rider but my biggest question was "Who was the Ringo Kid? And how did get to hang with this crew?"

I wondered about that too. Next I heard Hawkeye was saying he'd sent Two-Gun back to his own time. Did a Two-Gun in the present story ever get published?

Did he manage to kill all of the heroes from his own time? Why weren't Thor or the 40th century version of the Ancient One there to stop him?

I was impressed, and that's why I always thought Hawkeye should have invited him to the present instead. He actually looked like a modern day superhero and had some gimmicks that Batman would have approved of.

He had a 30 issue series between 1970 and 1976. Don't remember seeing any of the Western comics back then and only remember one issue of Sgt. Fury, and that was when they'd gone to reprints. I think the cowboys failed because they weren't getting them to the public. If there were Westerns they were pushed in the back by the superheroes.

Philip Portelli said:

As a kid, I knew about Marvel's Big 3 Western Heroes and even the original Ghost Rider but my biggest question was "Who was the Ringo Kid? And how did get to hang with this crew?"

I was also unfamiliar with the character.

He headlined the title Ringo Kid Western for 21 issues for 1954 to 1957. In the 1970s he had a new title called Ringo Kid that ran for 30 issues. It was partially reprints and partially new material.

By 1970, the name "Ringo" invoked a very different image than a cowboy.

Gear. Fab.

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