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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Fred W. Hill said:

I think by this point in the Marvel Age, Yellow Claw had appeared in 4 storylines -- in SHIELD/Strange Tales in 1967, even if that version turned out to be Dr. Doom (which really made no sense at all; why did Steranko feel compelled to go with that surprise ending?)

I think that was something imposed on Steranko.

Possible, although I've never read an explanation, and if it was imposed on Steranko, that would have been either by Lee or Goodman, but that still leaves the question of "why?"  Perhaps it was something to do with whether co-creator Al Feldstein or even someone representing the estate of Joe Maneely, the other co-creator, may have taken legal action over ownership of the character, a perhaps that was moot by the time Englehart used him in CA&TF a few years later. 

I have read that the creator of the original Human Torch, Carl Burgos, was pretty upset when Lee & Kirby used that character in FF Annual #4 in 1966, as allegedly the rights to the character would have gone back to him if Marvel hadn't done so, although it seems questionable whether he could really have done anything significant with the rights even he had gotten them back.  Burgos did create another android character, called Captain Marvel, after rights to that name became available, but the series died after just a few issues and Marvel was quick to create their own version just a few months later in 1967 and hold onto rights to the name ever since.

In light of all that, seems plausible that that's why Lee or Goodman may have insisted that Steranko's Yellow Claw turn out to be a robot if they had any uncertainty as to who held the rights to the character.

From what I read, Carl Burgos was about to go to court to get the rights to the android Human Torch. I believe Goodman had Lee use the character prominently in the FF Annual. Burgos was so upset that he burned all of his original artwork.

“A word here about the art - I had always classed this issue as sub-par as the art seemed so disappointing after the Perez era but... it's Don Newton.!”

I was pretty much unfamiliar with Newton’s work… until he took over Infinity, Inc. from Jerry Ordway… then promptly died. I then found out he had previously done Batman, and I picked up some of those. Much more recently, I picked up the Tales of the Batman collection spotlighting his art, but you know what I think his best work is? The Phantom. That’s available in HC, too.

“I think by this point in the Marvel Age, Yellow Claw had appeared in 4 storylines”

The Yellow Claw’s sketchy “Marvel Age” played to Jeff Parker’s advantage in his Agents of Atlas series. The Yellow Claw’s few Silver/Bronze Age appearances are easy to ignore… especially in light of Parker’s EYKIW. Recommended!

“Burgos was so upset that he burned all of his original artwork.”

I hope that’s not true. It makes me sick just to think about it.

Avengers #205 (03/81)
Writer - David Michelinie Plot - Bob Budiansky
Penciller - Alan Kupperberg Inker - Dan Green
Editor - Jim Salicrup
Cover Art – Alan Kupperberg & Joe Rubinstein & Marie Severin
   Shadow of the Claw!"
"...And the Claw shall inherit the Earth!" is a bit of a jumbled mess as a cover, I think it's down to the over-use of the red but surely the two inkers over Kupperberg can't have helped - the composition is a bit flawed too, the guest-villain has his back to the reader and the hero is mostly obscured. Not very memorable.


After last issue's mediocre story, Michelinie gives the 'Vs Yellow Claw" another go, this time with a plot without Jim Shooter by Bob Budiansky - or, is this a second credit for his plot from last issue - rehashed?


We may have thought everything was finished neatly enough last issue but this one begins with the Vision still recovering from his treatment by the Claw and needing more energy than ever to recharge himself.


The rest of the team go over the adventure again - basically to recap the readers on last issue's events - as Cap doesn't trust the Claw's motives.


A new event thus sparking this issue's plot proper is announced by Jarvis - a visitor wishes to be seen - Dr William Liu - "That's the Claw's top assistant!" (Although I don't think we saw/heard him last issue.)
Liu explains he has limited time but has come to expose the Claw as a tyrant and the... "Oh, my Lord! H-He Exploded!"
Not quite dead he implores the Avengers to go to a location he gives co-ordinates for... and dies.


The team prepare to leave and the Vision declines with a note explaining he's not up to it. (No, of course we don't believe that.)
The co-ordinates lead to an outback location in Australia where the Avengers find a hidden rocket base.
As they travel there, the Vision travels back to the Claw's island where he explains that he had noticed radiation from the dead Liu was also being emitted by himself - allowing the Claw to monitor the Avengers. (Somehow.)


The Vision thinks he's going to (somehow) defeat the Claw alone but the bad guy reacts with a - "...How Stupid! Did you really think I would be ill-prepared for such a possibility?" and captures the Vision.


He then explains that when the Wasp broke in through the air-vent last issue he hatched a plan and sent Liu to eventually get the Avengers to his Australia base where he intends to kill them..!
No, there is no explanation why he didn't just kill them when they were on his island face-to-face last issue.(?)


Three Transformer/Gladiator types get set on the Avengers and try as they do, the team is overwhelmed.
The Claw offers the Vision Liu's place as his second in command... (anyone else expecting a Space Phantom agreement..?)
Surrounded by women the Claw explains that although he's growing old and nearer death he is impregnating all the women with a plan to have sons by them all who will then battle each other and the survivor will rule the Earth!
It didn't make much sense last issue and it still doesn't.


As a plan, it gets added to (or changed completely?) by a revelation that he has a storage bank of genetic material gleaned from humanities top candidates with which (somehow) his heir will use to create a New World Order.
This links into the Australian rocket/missile base as he intends to use them to trigger a spacecraft and send a vapour to cover the Earth and make everyone else -- sterile!
"So, artificial man, what do you say? Will you join me?"
"Perhaps, miscreant. Perhaps I will join you......In Hell!"


Teamwork of the Avengers begins to turn the tide of their battle and as a result, in desperation the three enemies explode! 
No, no explanation why they didn't just blow the Avengers up in the first place.
"-- The Avengers are Dead!"


The missiles are fired and it seems like the Claw's plan is working... until it is revealed that the Scarlet Witch had protected our heroes with a Hex Sphere.
As the missiles dock with the Claw's ship Wonder Man and Iron Man catch up with them and it appears the Claw and the Vision are actually inside the ship.


As the Claw rants, the Vision increases his density/mass and that makes the ship use fuel faster than planned to maintain orbit. Eventually they lose orbit and crash towards the ground. The Claw and the Vision fight each other and crash into the sea.


The Avengers search the wreckage but can detect "- no man-sized life forms" but the Vision floats down from the sky above where he phased away too and all is well.


The Vision reminds his wife, the team and we the readers that although the Yellow Claw maybe dead there will always be more like him...
"And as long as any of them remain unchallenged---- the danger will Never end."
It's a mission statement that closes the issue on an ominous note.


So, the whole issue feels a bit like a rehash of last issue but more on the Claw's Bond-Villain plan. The spotlight on the Vision was fine enough but feels like it's been done before and the art, while not being Don Newton of last issue does feel like an extension of that issue.
The Avengers working as a team is nice to see, no real dissent-in-the-ranks as we see so often and the eight of them provide a good line-up as per the cover Roll Call with the addition of Jocasta. Jocasta works well with the team and is ordered to fire her eye-beams a couple of time like a well-honed battle tactic asset... even if she still is not an 'official member' yet and....Does Not Even Get Given One Line This Issue!!


All in all this is a perfectly functional issue but it doesn't feel like it's written by Michelinie after his previous issues and the art is not bad but it's pretty basic after previous glories of Byrne/Perez et al.
The series is really stagnating here, it needs something new don't you think...?


Next Issue... um... there's no word on where we go from here in the book....


Come Back...

I don’t have anything to say about #205, other than that I’m finding it a real chore to read along with this particular run of issues. Nice paper might help, and MMW Avengers v20 (collecting #203-216, Annual #10 and Marvel Super Action #35-37*), but it won’t be released until April of next year.

*I’m not sure what’s in these three issues. Marvel Super Action was an Avengers reprint title at the time. Some new back-up feature? Anyone know?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I don’t have anything to say about #205, other than that I’m finding it a real chore to read along with this particular run of issues. Nice paper might help, and MMW Avengers v20 (collecting #203-216, Annual #10 and Marvel Super Action #35-37*), but it won’t be released until April of next year.

*I’m not sure what’s in these three issues. Marvel Super Action was an Avengers reprint title at the time. Some new back-up feature? Anyone know?

I looked it up. Marvel Super Action 35, 36 and 37 each have a two-pager (original story and art) giving background information on Thor, the Hulk and Iron Man, respectively. The rest of those books were reprints.

I did not know that. Thanks!

Avengers #206 (04/81)
Writer - Bill Mantlo
Penciller - Gene Colan Inker - Dan Green
Editor - Jim Salicrup
Cover Art – Gene Colan & Dan Green
   “Fire In The Streets!"
I am a fan of Gene Colan - honestly I am - but he just doesn't work here. Is he too late in his career or is it that Dan Green's inks do not serve him well?
Both on this cover and inside everything is muddy and vague and dull rather than moody and atmospheric which I know (and love) Colan can do.


What I do like is that not only is the cover a scene inside but the art team is the same outside and in as is even the title!


Unfortunately -- I don't like much else!
The story opens with a hired hand planting a bomb, unfortunately timed to go off immediately - catching him in the blast - at a chemical plant.


At Avengers Mansion the Beast's favourite programme is interrupted by news footage of that chemical plant, in flames, being tackled by guest-star the Human Torch.


The Beast notices a 'mocking face' in the flames and alerts the Avengers.
(We needed this stage direction as that face is hardly noticable - even when looking for it...)
As the Avengers watch the broadcast (and the Beast annoyingly speaks various languages) they form the opinion there may be a living entity behind it all.


The team travel to the site, meet with the Human Torch and argue amongst each other who may be best suited to brave the Inferno-like conditions to shut down the plant.
The Wasp is left behind.
In the centre the monster/bad guy reveals himself - called Pyron. (!!??)
Eventually the Wasp dons a protective suit and saves the day (weakest member makes good again!) leaving Wasp wondering how to explain a winter sun-tan!


It's really not very good is it?
This whole issue is very reminiscent of the very recent Pittsberg two-parter with that fire-monster being named Inferno.
The Human Torch was completely superfluous to this story, the reasons for the Wasp being held back and then coming through don't bear scrutiny and as I said, the art doesn't zing.


The title is really not in a good place is it? - Will it last...?


Next Issue- nothing again.


Come Back...

Avengers #207 (05/81)
Plot - Bob Budiansky - script- Danny Fingeroth
Penciller - Gene Colan Inker - Dan Green
Editor - Jim Salicrup
Cover Art – Gene Colan & Dan Green
   “Beyond A Shadow..."
Gene Colan turns in a dramatic cover here, "After countless centuries He Lives Again! The Shadow Lord Cometh!" - strangely there is no Beast on the cover other than this roll-call box.


Colan is on fire for the opening splash page too - sunrise over a translucent city/ship with mysterious occupant who gradually appears into our plane of existence and info-dumps his entire backstory.
We learn of the 'Shadow World' and that there is a conflict to come, that he hopes for a reunion with his girlfriend Ayshera as his appearance is noticed by US Aricraft carrier...


At this point I wondered if there was a series/mini-series I'd missed that contained this guy and his associates - (Shadow War - nope that was Hawkman of DC. Power Lords? No not them either) In fact this seems to be the first time we are introduced to this concept which as far as I'm aware has never been revisited.


Elsewhere there is an archeological dig going on at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius...


Else-elsewhere stuntman/actor Simon Williams is filming a western and going through cannonballs take by take.
Simon discusses his career with the visiting Beast and his girlfriend/agent Rachel Palmer who Simon puts in her place despite her possible feelings for him.
Wonder Man and the Beast answer an Avengers alarm and we see both sides of the heroic chat.

Nearer than the rest of the team Wondy and the Beast are sent to check on the arrival of the ship/city while the rest of the team tries to catch up.


That archeological dig (literally) digs up a 'perfectly preserved corpse--"...


Arriving by plane the two Avengers find the US aircraft carrier now lifted into the dry by an entire island that it had been swept onto by a tidal wave that the guy we met on the splash page summoned up.
They manouver through a hurricane surrounding the city/ship and confront the main man. He throws them back with wind power.
Rachel the girlfriend/agent arrives in her own boat, intent on getting publicity for Simon. The weather guy smashes the boat and plucks her out to drop her to him.
She looks just like his lost girlfriend Ayshera (surprise, surprise!)
The rest of the Avengers arrive.


Mr Big introduces himself as the Shadow Lord from the Shadow Realm (see, that sounds like it was a series doesn't it?) he came from a society from the past where they could control the elements and eventually came across a powerful enemy who they ended up plotting against and causing the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79ad to destroy. Pompeii was destroyed and they hid themselves away.
Vesuvious....hmmm.... sure I read that recently....?


Our man was tasked with keeping an eye from outside our dimension for 2.000 years... waiting for the enemy to return... "This is no mere man, my dear... This is the Berserker!"
That Berserker goes, well, berserk at the dig site as the Avengers attack the city.


Shadow Lord guy uses whirlwinds to battle the heroes as per the cover which is always good to see.


As the Avengers battle to save innocents the Shadow Lord begins to wonder if he's fighting the right guys and by the end of the battle the city cannot contain the power, so he cannot live off it so he fades away to death...
"What's he talking about? I thought he was our enemy!".
(To me) It is a little unclear if the Berserker is left motionless/depowered near Pompeii as a memorial to the Shadow Lords - or powered up ready to devestate the local population.
So that's it. It's all a bit complicated yet familiar and does feel a bit rushed to get it finished in one issue.


This team still doesn't feel very much like the Avengers we've been adventuring with and yet this is a classic combination - with Jocasta working alongside and accepted as one of the team (still not official yet though eh?)


Am I the only one feeling this whole issue felt more like a DC-JLA story than a Marvel-Avengers one? With very little tweaking this could have been a JLA tale with Lois Lane perhaps in the Rachel part...? Just me?


Maybe not as bad as I remembered but... not a favourite.


It's the 'Next - The Berserker!" that makes me believe this story is not actually finished...?


Come Back...

"Warriors of the Shadow Realm" was the title for the Weirdworld series from Marvel Super Special #11-13 in 1979.

This was a serious dip in quality as a mismatched Gene Colan couldn't play to his strengths here.

I had my one subscription to Avengers during this mediocre run.

Looking it up, I found it on the "Marvel Directory." The name Shadow Realm was also used in Marvel Spotlight #4 (1980) in a Captain Marvel story, apparently reprinted in Captain Marvel Masterwork Vol 6. Somebody with access to all of these would have to determine if they are really the same realm or not.

 

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