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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Richard Mantle said:

Still none the wiser as to Quicksilver’s location, the team hear from Jarvis of a news story where people have been disappearing in an ordinary street and the team race off hopeful this may explain where Pietro is.(?)

Maybe they thought Pietro was kidnapping people at superspeed?

Englehart’s transition is not jarring at all, picking up on already running subplots and keeping the character’s voices much the same, except maybe for Wanda who really is kicking ass these days.

Wanda always was such a shrinking violet. This could only be an improvement.

Even tho' this was still early in Englehart's comics career, I think within a few issues he was writing better dialogue than Thomas typically did, without overusing cliches or references to pop culture as Thomas had a tendency to do in many of his comics.

Englehart had Agatha Harkness start to teach Wanda magic, then dropped the idea after one issue for his Celestial Madonna storyline. We've a couple of years to go, but in #128 Wanda states she can only cast four hexes a day. This was the first I'd heard of that rule. I remember her using a lot more than three hexes in earlier stories. I believe she lost her powers at some point during the Silver Age. Did they come back a lot weaker, or did Englehart depower her?

Her powers were restored by her passage between Arkon's dimension and Earth. She first used them again in The Incredible Hulk #128. She now had to gesture with both hands instead of just one, and her exercise of her power formed glowing hex spheres.

I'd not heard about the four hexes thing. I can't say if it was ever referenced again, but don't believe it ever played a role in a story I've read. I think it was indicated somewhere that Wanda's magical training improved her ability to control her hexes. I interpret this as a powering-up.

Looking up the issue, she said she could cast three hexes a day, but somehow managed to cast a fourth to stop Necrodemus. At the end she realized the whole thing had been a test. Agatha denies it but she's very unconvincing. The Hulk story was just two issues after Roy got rid of Dr. Strange. Did he feel magical characters were overpowered? In Defenders#4 Englehart establishes the Enchantress is vastly more powerful than Strange. Don't know how much Odin had depowered her in the 60s, or when that was lifted, but she had trouble with Wanda and even the Wasp in the Avengers.

Maybe the Enchantress got her full powers back when Odin ordered all Asgardians home after the original Enchanters story; just idle speculation.  Loki is also far more powerful than Dr. Strange, as shown in his appearance in a Strange Tales story (and one of the very few featuring Thor that Steve Ditko drew -- I think it's a pretty good bet that Stan never considered having Ditko & Kirby swap art duties on Dr. Strange and Thor!).  Funny, tho', after Defenders #4, to my admittedly imperfect memory, the Enchantress showed up again only about a couple of more times prior to becoming a more regular part of Thor's cast in Simonson's classic run in the '80s.

Ditko's Thor was very bad. Almost as bad as Al Hartley's. Of course Doc got a lot stronger since then, but it did seem like he had more trouble fighting Loki than he did with Dormammu. I'm thinking those two would have been about equal during the Avengers/Defenders War if Loki hadn't been blind.

The loosening of the CCA you guys discussed over the weekend is what I cite as the beginning of the Bronze Age. (I don’t hang it on a particular issue, though, as people are wont to do.)

“Englehart’s transition is not jarring at all, picking up on already running subplots and keeping the character’s voices much the same, except maybe for Wanda who really is kicking ass these days.”

Interesting you should say that, in light of what Steve Englehart himself had to say about his Avengers debut.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON #105:

“Roy had wrapped his storylines up, and I would have to start a new one (trying, as I’ve said, to maintain his momentum). Now, he told me once that he liked to work out the plot and then figure in the character bits., but I was the exact opposite, preferring to see where the characters might go and then putting that into the plot. I had also been told by someone along the way that the Scarlet Witch was supposed to be a weaker character than the other Avengers—that she should do her hex and then drop back, exhausted. But as I looked at this group I so admired, I thought, ‘How can you be an Avenger and not pull your weight?’ So my very first thought was to put Wanda front and center, to add to the team’s already impressive power.

“It was a change—but I didn’t want readers to sense a change from the new writer—because I was a reader and I didn’t want to sense a change from the new writer. If that sounds convoluted, or even impossible, it was, but that’s how it went. So I got right up in your face, to distract you from what was actually going on. And thus it was that I began my run with Wanda telling you to ‘Get out!’ It showed her character, all right, and if Roy hadn’t left such a reservoir of good will, I might have signed my death warrant right there.

“As it turned out, the bulk of my time on Avengers was driven by Wanda and her main squeeze, the Vision. There are logical reasons; primarily, these two didn’t have their own books so I gave them more freedom of movement. But there are also the vagaries of chance: Wanda’s story is what I chose to start with, and many things just followed from that. I did that a lot, over my time in comics: start, and let the story tell me what happened next. I had no idea where I was going with her, but I knew there was somewhere to go.

“So that was the character stuff. Plotwise, I wanted to start an epic, but after the epics which preceded me, I decided to go with very non-cosmic, down-to-earth villains—and what was more down-to-earth than Ka-Zar’s hidden land at the bottom of the earth? The bad guys down there hardly matched the Sentinels, or even the Avengers, really, but they offered a lot of action and a chance to work the character of Wanda’s squeeze at the end.”

Well, Jeff, it does appear I'm on the right wavelength - I didn't think the stars changed other than maybe Wanda and that's what Englehart was after.

I think he did kind of 'start an epic' if you look at his tenure as a whole.

Roy didn't wrap up all of his plotlines. He'd left Englehart with the Grim Reaper story. That probably contributed to him deciding to concentrate on Wanda and Vision, since his first multiparter was getting Vision free of his "brother." I'm pretty sure he said in an interview that it was Stan (or possibly Roy quoting Stan) that said Wanda should throw her hex and fall down. It's interesting that he apparently requested the Black Panther but then didn't really do much with him. And the only changes he made to Hawkeye were getting rid of that weird costume and tossing him from Avengers to Defenders. I'm wondering if after the Avengers/Defenders War he decided that writing one team was enough, since he'd been with Defenders since #1 but immediately leaves the team with #11, the wrap up of the A/D War. It's also odd how after building an epic around trying to  bring back the Black Knight he just leaves him in the past. Since he admitted he didn't plan his storylines out, I guess once he got to the point of actually bringing Dane back he decided he didn't want to use him after all.

“I think he did kind of 'start an epic' if you look at his tenure as a whole.”

I think he counts his first “epic” from the introduction of Mantis through the end of the “Cosmic Madanna” storyline.

“Roy didn't wrap up all of his plotlines. He'd left Englehart with the Grim Reaper story.”

That is true. Stay tuned for more commentary. :)

“I'm pretty sure he said in an interview that it was Stan (or possibly Roy quoting Stan) that said Wanda should throw her hex and fall down.”

I thought Englehart was being coy in the quoted passage above when he said, “I had also been told by someone [emphasis mine] along the way that the Scarlet Witch was supposed to be a weaker character…” I suspect he knows exactly who said it but didn’t want to say.

Must not have been popular since she'd go back to wearing armor after a few months.

 

 

Or maybe it was decided since she was spoken for to save the more revealing outfits for someone that was single.

 

 

 

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