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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I had this comic when I was a kid, and it's one of the few things by Starlin that I've enjoyed over the years. What I particularly remember is Spider-Man's doubts about what he can do, but he does just fine. It was actually pretty doggoned cool when he freed the other heroes.

It brings to mind the reasoning behind Spidey's  original reticence to join the Avengers - some heros play a different game.

 Randy Jackson said:

I had this comic when I was a kid, and it's one of the few things by Starlin that I've enjoyed over the years. What I particularly remember is Spider-Man's doubts about what he can do, but he does just fine. It was actually pretty doggoned cool when he freed the other heroes.

Pete seems to have forgotten that it was him that saved the Avengers from the Spider-Man robot. Or did they decide to mopey away Avengers#11?

Having cosmic beings have something to do with the creation of Spider-Man would be reused (and then dropped) decades later with the spider god storyline.

AVENGERS ANNUAL #8 (1978)
Writer – Roger Slifer         Penciller - George Perez
Inker –Pablo Marcos & Ricardo Villamonte
Cover Art – George Perez & Terry Austin 
 

  “Spectrums of Deceit!"


A wonderful, beautiful Perez action cover with the villain over the defeated heroes - as he does so well - not so great are the Doctor Strange and Thundra bubbles to represent their being guest-stars here, especially as Ms Marvel manages to be part of the main cover action. (Yes- she's still a 'guest-star' - no - she has not formally joined the team yet. Yes it matters)


New female Doctor Spectrum? Is it obvious by the cover what's going on? - well, kind of - what we're not aware of is the involvement of the Wasp in this new status quo ...and it is a shame YellowJacket did not get on the cover too.


First things first - who on earth if Roger Silfer the writer? Is that a psudomym for someone else? What else did he ever write? For someone I'm not aware of he seems to have quite a good grip on the Avengers characters and the wider Marvel Universe (there's alot of continuity links here) I've not 'google'd' him...anyone?


Continuity-wise then , I'm happy with where the Avengers Index places this issue - between  the end of the Korvac Saga and before #178, but it could be anywhere really before #181 as I think we must accept that through this phase there was a lot of Avengers, friends and hangers-on around the mansion, in various degrees of recovery from the Korvac battle and aimless waiting before Gyrich sorts them out in #181.

So this Annual could argueably be placed anywhere around or alongside #178 and the two-part #179-180 before the gamechanger.


The splash page is a Perez-fest , reminicent of the Scarlet Witch cover of Avengers #171, YellowJacket surrounded by facets of a diamond-like gem he's cutting as a birthday present for the Wasp.
"Jan deserves the best for her birthday"


We then get the set-up for this story...and possibly one of the most (and there's been a few!) stupid actions of Hank Pym...."I recovered it's fragments after the Defenders and I defeated the Squadron Sinister. In the hands of Doctor Spectrum. It was one of the most powerful weapons in the world. It's harmless now, though."
Maybe Silfer hasn't got that good a handle on these characters as he's writing their worst qualities - Jan is shown to be incredibly vain and materialistic searching for whatever Hank is hiding, even if you allow her her, "It's the biggest, most beautiful-- I just have to touch it!" as being the influence of the gem over her and not her own avarice.


Quick shout-out for Perez showing how YellowJacket's wings come off his costume - I love things like that.


An explosion results as Jan is overwhelmed and Quicksilver and Wonder Man are nearby to react to it.
Pietro falls (nice to see him just guesting naturally in an Avengers tale and not being the angry madman...albeit for not very long) and Simon realises it is Jan beneath the energy display - announcing her as a new Doctor Spectrum!


It should be noted this is a new emphasis on the power-prism being the actual power behind the character - influencing the user of the prism to be the new Doctor Spectrum, as if the user is secondary to the intelligence of the prism - this is a deeper mix of Power-ring and Green Lantern influences than we had seen before.


A further layer to this power is shown as Spectrum decides to keep hold of Jan's body rather than effectively swap it in for Quicksilver or Wonder Man's (really? Not Wonder-Man's?) and race off in search of Thor to defeat and someone else to battle first... Iron Man.
(It's not the greatest plan is it ?- go find the people that beat me before!)


Disguised as Jan, Spectrum attacks and defeats Iron Man, placing him in a cage with the other Avengers hidden away for later.
I think it may be deliberate but Perez seems to draw Jan holding herself differently here as if to highlight the influence over her. It's clever.


Hank discovers his mistake with the gem and Jan's predicament and sets his ants on her (Shame not in costume.) and the calvary arrive! The Beast, Captain America, Black Panther and Ms Marvel join the fray!
(I think I make this Ms Marvel's first appearance in that beautiful second costume of hers in the pages of an Avengers product!?)


Ms Marvel aquits herself well and Hawkeye, Vision and the Scarlet Witch join in too - making this a tremendous Avengers line-up.
It is ultraviolet light that the Vision uses to defeat Spectrum as she/it bemoans the fact that only Iron Man should have known that particular weakness - which Viz points out-  he shared.


Shades of Hank's future (and probably past) problems become clear as he is frantic with worry, ""Is-- is she all right? You didn't hurt her did you?"
"Get a grip on yourself fella!"
The rest of the team may not have known this was Jan but this does not show a very calm analytical Hank does it?
Thor/Dr Don Blake is summoned to help Jan's medical condition - the gem/prism has merged with her nervous system!


Remembering the Defenders were the last to defeat Spectrum when he was with the Squadron - our heroes enlist the aid of Doctor Strange.
Strange explains he set the Squadron up in memoryless identities after that battle -- and rates a cover mention guest appearance for a total of one page only.


This Avengers Annual then becomes very Justice League of America - like as smaller groups go off for short tasks/chapters.
"Part Two: To Tame A Tortured Titan"
At a health club, guest star Thundra (really? Did we need another?) meets amnesiac Hyperion (Mr Kant? Geddit?) who reacts to the arrival of the Avengers "Why does the sight of them fill me with pain?" but not Thundra and a misunderstanding/battle breaks out.


We learn that Hyperion is the same foe who first appeared in Avengers #70 (but presumably NOT the Hyperion who meets Thundra in the Project Pegasus issues of MTIO (?) (My head hurts!)


Refreshingly the Vision and Hyperion actually talk to each other to stop the fighting - which disgusts Thundra as an anti-climax.
Could Thundra have become a vital member of the Avengers here? With the Black Widow leaving straight away and Moondragon and Hellcat not working out - another female Avenger is a must-have and as we've mentioned Ms Marvel hasn't quite signed on the dotted line yet. There is quite a distinction between the two made here also, any banter between them both could have rivalled a Wonder Man/Beast relationship.
Otherwise...why was Thundra here?


"Part Three: Speedster Sinister!" sees Captain America Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch locating and revealing the Whizzer (leter to become the Speed Demon) - making an odd dynamic for this chapter as basically it's Kap's Kooky Kwartet with Quicksilver's role being a villainous one! Oddly enough, our heroes win. No guest stars fleshing out this chapter - or the next where the Beast fights alone!


"Part Four: Where There's A Will..." as the Beast, alone, locates evangalist Billy Roberts (!) who was Doctor Spectrum before he avoided the power of the gem and it ended up in the hands of the Wasp.
The Beast returns to Hank and Jan, at the same time as everyone else, with the ex-Spectrum with him..."We send the Beast out after a Super-Villain and he comes back with a Preacher!"


The plot twists as this preacher is actually using the Avengers to reclaim his hold on the prism, "He was never corrupted by the gem! He is as Evil as the gem itself!" - and the original nasty Doctor Spectrum is back. The gem is released from Jan's nervous system without explanation.


In a moment of confusion, "What-- what happened?" - see?, confusion....The prism lodges itself actually in Thor's hammer and appears to take over the mind of the Thunder God! but for a moment the good preacher was in control and the energy caging the other Avengers vanished allowing them to re-enter the fray...if Wonder Man didn't have to help near-drowned Pietro.


So Avenger battle a controlled Thor until Iron Man, who the Prism had tried to keep out of the game all along, arrives and with that ultraviolet light secret again he wears Thor down until he drops his hammer for over sixty seconds -- and it reverts to Dr Don Blake's powerless cane.


The gem is gone! Blake thanks Odin's foresight - which may be overstating things a tad and our heroes end the issue with a birthday party for Jan!


It's a rushed ending to a slimly plotted piece with too many small chapters/scenes - wanting to be more JLA than Avengers with choppy pacing but respectable art.


For some reason, perhaps it's the convoluted, strained plot, or the pointless guest-stars but this Annual never gains fan-favourite status like the last one but it still marks the best Avengers issue for months...


However I measure the Avengers continuity - I just can't avoid chronicling the next three ...incredibly dull.......awful even?...regular issues... before we return to glory in #181.


Think the Beast was alone for no reason here -- see next issue...


Come Back...


 

 
 
 
 

 
 

Richard Mantle said:

First things first - who on earth if Roger Silfer the writer? Is that a psudomym for someone else? What else did he ever write? For someone I'm not aware of he seems to have quite a good grip on the Avengers characters and the wider Marvel Universe (there's alot of continuity links here) I've not 'google'd' him...anyone?

Roger Slifer wrote a fairly small number of comics. He moved from Marvel to DC and co-created the (love him or hate him) character Lobo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Slifer

The plot twists as this preacher is actually using the Avengers to reclaim his hold on the prism, "He was never corrupted by the gem! He is as Evil as the gem itself!" - and the original nasty Doctor Spectrum is back. The gem is released from Jan's nervous system without explanation.

I haven’t read the issue, but it sounds like the sentient gem decided it liked the evil Billy Roberts better than Jan and was able to entirely remove itself from her body. This is not unlike the Venom symbiote switching hosts.

Roger Slifer also seems to love having monsters named after him. Back during the "Friend" storyline in Ghost Rider Satan's main demon was named Slifer. Decades later he worked on the dub of the anime Yu-Gi-Oh and they renamed one of the most powerful monsters in the card game Slifer the Sky Dragon.

This is mentioned in the Wiki article I cited in relation to his serious injury and resulting (eventual) death.

Ronald Morgan said:

Roger Slifer also seems to love having monsters named after him. Back during the "Friend" storyline in Ghost Rider Satan's main demon was named Slifer. Decades later he worked on the dub of the anime Yu-Gi-Oh and they renamed one of the most powerful monsters in the card game Slifer the Sky Dragon.

It doesn't mention how important Slifer the demon was back then. He wasn't just a random demon Satan gave an assignment to so Roger Slifer could see his name in print once. He was pretty much a costar for a few issues. I'm guessing he didn't appear again because Tony Isabella left the series.

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