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 always thought Daredevil wasn't powerful enough to be in the Avengers.  I was reading his own title at the time and he just didn't strike me as Avenger material.  I know that's a bit silly since Hawkeye was an Avenger, but I started reading the Avengers when Hawkeye was already established and never really questioned why he was there.

He would have worked back in the days of Cap's Quartet. I think we're used to him not being around because most of the time we had Thor on the team.

AVENGERS #191 (01/80)
Script - David Michelinie   Plot/Editor - Roger Stern
Penciller - John Byrne                   Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – George Perez & Sal Buscema 
   “Back to the Stone Age!"


As we enter the decade of the 1980s ...anyone else think "Felled By The Grey Gargoyle!"  on the cover is a better title than the one inside?
Interesting to compare and contrast Byrne and Perez tag-teaming on the previous cover and this one, both work very well, both appear to show the same fight and help rasise these stories in the 'classic' stakes.


The corner roll-call is the same as last issue and for once the Avengers depicted there appear in the book from the splash page on - at last!


So, the alien/stone being was revealed at the end of last issue to be the returned Grey Gargoyle and we launch straight into a physical battle and it's a pleasure to see the sadly-under-used villain treated so well.


The Vision seems a tad over-confident and the Scarlet Witch a little overly-wet as she is struck down running to her husband's side (although she's kind-of kept her distance from him since she went searching for her origin).


What is interesting is the Beast brings up a link that I can't help but feel between this battle and the recent one against Thor's under-used villain the Absorbing Man, "First the Absorbing Man trashes Ms Marvel (*Avengers #184) and now you deck the Scarlet Witch!"
Indeed the Grey one even defeats Ms Marvel before he.....leaves for 'pressing matters to attend to..."


The Falcon's 'sidekick' Redwing gets Jarvis to let him out of the mansion to maybe save the day..?         (No-one's pressing for a 'Redwing-was-an-Official Avenger are they?)


The defeated Avengers recover and rally round, (notice Ms Marvel refers to the Scarlet Witch as Wanda but Wanda still doesn't know Ms Marvel as Carol yet)
Wanda panics that the intangible Vision cannot be helped as he lies semi-phased through a wall and on his recovery the Vision points out she's acting oddly, "You have acted strangely ever since your return from Attilan, my wife. Something troubles you, we must talk." ( see, I said so.)


The following revelation that the Grey Gargoyle has turned the Iron Man SUIT only to stone and the man inside (still secretly Tony Stark) remains flesh and blood is a wonderful scene and a fascinating spin on the power - one I don't remember ever happening in Iron Man's own book when they clashed (?).


While he's in the scene - why oh why was Daredevil even in this two-parter? He has even less place in this issue than the last - being trapped as stone throughout the entire proceedings, far from suggesting a possibility of his joining up wouldn't this guest-shot put people off him?


Getting another and much better spotlight is the Falcon, he follows the bad-guy as he brakes into an apartment he used to rent, menacing the current female tenant as he does so.
We flashback to the origin of the Gargoyle and his subsequent history vs Thor up to last issue's return to earth as he explains he needs his "secret cache of chemicals behind this mirror" ...inconveniently adapted into a mini-bar! 
The Falcon steps up to protect the lady and as promised Redwing arrives to save the day...but becomes a paperweight.
Just as it appears the Falcon cannot hold out any more....the Calvary/Avengers arrive and with a reminder that he's supposed to be French, the Gargoyle is hexed powerless with a "Mon Dieu!"
It is a neat and satisfying conclusion to the fighting.


There is an important epilogue before the close of the issue however, everyone returns to the Government Commission hearing we were drawn away from and buoyed by a positive outcome in this latest adventure...the Avengers keep their valued Priority Status and privileges!
"Awriiight!"
Gyrich waits for Iron Man to gloat but gets information he probably didn't expect..."We probably would have cut our membership to about what it is anyway, if left to ourselves."
Nice twist.


The actual ending is more ominous, spotlighting the troubled relationship of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision and indeed it seems there will be no mystery as the next issue blurb mentions, amongst other bullet points -- "The Scarlet Witch Leaves!"

(I know, as you do don't you - that she's been kind of gone for a while anyway!)


So, a good solid story with some good characterisation, some well needed plot points and a not-so-necessary guest-star, all with beautiful artwork.

Oh and - who noticed? - Yes! We can have a good Avengers issue - without Hawkeye at all!! Who knew?


I have loved this two-parter. Classic and quality.
Are we on a roll..?


....um.....no.


Come Back...

It was a good issue and wrapped up the government control storyline nicely, for what I thought at the time was for good.  I wondered later if Nick Fury got around to apologizing for freezing the Avengers out on just Gyrich's say so.

The previous issue and this one illustrate precisely why the notion of governmental oversight of the premier super-team (the Avengers, for Marvel; the Justice League of America, for DC) is absurd.

The federal government has no leverage.  If the feds tell the Avengers or the JLA, "Do this, or you must disband!", we all know who's going to win that one.  If the Avengers or the JLA disband, it's only going to be untl the next alien invasion or the next rampage by a team of super-villains for the government to come crawling back.

And that's if it ever got that far.  Suppose some government official ordered the Justice League to shut down because it wouldn't adhere to some sort of membership quota; I can readily envision the response of the President---any President---as soon as he got the word:  "You did what?!  Are you out of your mind?  Contact the Justice League, apologise for being so damn stupid, and tell them that we are going to stay out of their hair!"

 It generated a bit of drama though.  Sadly unlike the Avengers the X-men were in a different place with Gyrich.  The government didn't care what he did to them and they didn't have the public face that the Avengers did.
 But at that point the super population was pretty small.  There were only the Avengers, Defenders, X-men and Fantastic Four and the Avengers membership was limited.  There was no place else for someone like Gyrich to go.  I can imagine the response he would have gotten out of the FF at that time.  


Commander Benson said:

The previous issue and this one illustrate precisely why the notion of governmental oversight of the premier super-team (the Avengers, for Marvel; the Justice League of America, for DC) is absurd.

The federal government has no leverage.  If the feds tell the Avengers or the JLA, "Do this, or you must disband!", we all know who's going to win that one.  If the Avengers or the JLA disband, it's only going to be untl the next alien invasion or the next rampage by a team of super-villains for the government to come crawling back.

And that's if it ever got that far.  Suppose some government official ordered the Justice League to shut down because it wouldn't adhere to some sort of membership quota; I can readily envision the response of the President---any President---as soon as he got the word:  "You did what?!  Are you out of your mind?  Contact the Justice League, apologise for being so damn stupid, and tell them that we are going to stay out of their hair!"

Luke Cage wouldn't have liked him much either.

I know we have plenty of Legion threads but no discussion of government intrusion into superteam membership would be complete without Wayland Bannan. He was the the head of Earth's Bureau of Revenue and Taxation. Because the Legion had grown to 26 active members "according to Earth's law, all private clubs with more than 25 active members must pay full taxes." Legion leader Karate Kid protested "But the Legion is no ordinary club! We're a law-enforcement group!" Bannan would have none of that, and gave the Legion 24 hours to drop a member or pay taxes on the "warp-transport" it had just received as a gift. After some back and forth Superboy ended up resigning. Good job, Wayland. (From Action Comics # 387, April 1970.)

I'll have to pull out the archives, as I don't remember that story at all. Karate Kid was leader?!?!?!

He was when the Legion was the back-up in Action Comics.

Dave Palmer said:

I know we have plenty of Legion threads but no discussion of government intrusion into superteam membership would be complete without Wayland Bannan. He was the the head of Earth's Bureau of Revenue and Taxation. Because the Legion had grown to 26 active members "according to Earth's law, all private clubs with more than 25 active members must pay full taxes." Legion leader Karate Kid protested "But the Legion is no ordinary club! We're a law-enforcement group!" Bannan would have none of that, and gave the Legion 24 hours to drop a member or pay taxes on the "warp-transport" it had just received as a gift. After some back and forth Superboy ended up resigning. Good job, Wayland. (From Action Comics # 387, April 1970.)

Even the all-powerful tax bureau would be rendered impotent if Karate Kid had just made one televisor call . . .

Good morning, President Boltax.  We just had a visit from your tax chief, Wayland Bannan.  Mr. Bannan informs us that the Legion has too many members to keep its tax-exempt status.  He says we either have to drop one member or pay taxes on the gifts the club has received from all over the universe.

Superboy has volunteered to leave the Legion, sir, but it doesn't make much sense to lose one of our mightiest members.  Besides, I don't think a story that the most legendary hero in the universe was forced out by the Earthgov will play too well on the six-o'clock ultra-news.  Do you, Mr. President?  And, as you know, the Legion is a non-profit organization.  We just don't have the funds to pay the kind of tax bill Mr. Bannan is talking about.

So the only thing left for us to do is disband.  I know the timing is awkward, the government just having paid for out new clubhouse and all, but there's no use crying over spilled kono juice.  The Legion can't go against the orders of your government.  I'll make sure the reporters understand that, sir.

We're breaking up and heading back to our home planets to-morrow morning, so you can send someone over to take control of the clubhouse and all the other stuff.  Oh, and good luck the next time the Dark Circle invades the Earth.  Maybe you could call the Legion of Substitute Heroes?  Yeah, that's the team with Stone Boy.   It has only six members---so no tax problems there.  Mr. Bannan will be glad to hear that.

Good-bye, Mr. President.  The Legion of Super-Heroes signing off.

I figure, after that conversation, it would take the Earth government less than a day to pass legislation exempting the Legion of Super-Heroes from taxation.  Heh.

David Warren said:

I'll have to pull out the archives, as I don't remember that story at all. Karate Kid was leader?!?!?!

It's understandable that you missed it.  Once the Legion was shunted over to the back-up spot in Action Comics, significant events didn't get as much play as when the super-hero club were headliners.

To begin with some background, in the Legion Outpost letter column in Adventure Comics # 364 (Jan., 1968), reader Tredgar Waller, of Rousemont, Minnesota, suggested that the next Legion leader be elected by the fans. Editor Mort Weisinger, who encouraged reader interaction with the Legion more than any other series, went for it, setting a deadline of one month for votes to be sent in.

In the Legion Outpost of Adventure Comics # 368 (May, 1968), Weisinger announced the top vote-getter: Ultra Boy, who would become the next Legion leader.  (The Legionnaire receiving the second-highest number of fan votes would become the deputy leader; in this case, Superboy.)  The first story to reflect U-Boy's new position was "The Colossal Failure", from Adventure Comics # 371 (Aug., 1968).

Thus started a tradition, and even though in the interim, the Legion had jumped over to the back seat of Action Comics, Mort invited Legion fans to, once again, vote for the next Legion leader.  In the letter column of Action Comics # 379 (Aug., 1969), Karate Kid was announced as receiving the most votes and was the Legion leader-elect. Getting the second highest number of votes, Mon-El got the nod as deputy leader, and in fact, was referred to as such in the Legion tale contained in that issue, "One of Us is an Impostor".

The first story to show Karate Kid as Legion leader was "Kill a Friend to Save a World", from Action Comics # 382 (Nov., 1969).

His term lasted until the last panel of "The Legionnaires Who Never Were", from Action Comics # 392 (Sep., 1970), when the winner of the third fans' election, Mon-El, took the oath of office as Legion leader.

Hope this helps.

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