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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Now looking back on it, I am shocked that neither Janet Pym nor Tony Stark tried to get Henry Pym some professional help. He's clearly unbalanced and suffering from severe mood swings.

And while the Wasp may not "hate" her soon-to-be ex-husband, she is definitely angry at him and seems to enjoy diminishing him. This from a woman who married Pym during a psychotic episode!

There is no forgiveness or understanding which leads to Pym's later problems.

Also, as I remember this issue, I thought that maybe the Angel might really join the Avengers but one new member was all they could handle, apparently.

Candy made many appearances since. She was along with Warren during the New Defenders run, and was even voted team leader at one point.

She survived the tragic end of that team, and made brief cameos in early X-Factor.

Her last few appearances were in X-Men books proper, where she became an early casualty of the first few appearances of the Phalanx.

Richard Mantle said:

In the car just happens to be Warren Worthington and partner Candy Southern (whatever happened to her?)

That struck me too upon reading it when it came out.  Looking back, seems to me that Shooter was so focused on telling a story of a long-time good guy going bad that he didn't really make much of an effort to make long time readers believe that Hank would go so out of whack and it seemed out of character that those teammates who had known him since the team was founded or shortly thereafter would make so little effort to help him.  I think Denny O'Neill handled that aspect better in his long tale of Tony Stark's relapse into alcoholism and losing nearly everything he had.  Hank Pym was the perfect choice for Shooter's tale, as Hank had shown signs of psychological instability often enough in the past, most famously when he donned yet another costume and then went about telling everyone, "hi, I'm Yellowjacket, and I just killed Hank Pym and I'm going to marry his girlfriend!"  Overall, Pym's descent into madness made for a good tale that took the Avengers out of the doldrums they had been in for too long, but it could have been much better told, and likely a better artist would have helped.

Philip Portelli said:

Now looking back on it, I am shocked that neither Janet Pym nor Tony Stark tried to get Henry Pym some professional help. He's clearly unbalanced and suffering from severe mood swings.

And while the Wasp may not "hate" her soon-to-be ex-husband, she is definitely angry at him and seems to enjoy diminishing him. This from a woman who married Pym during a psychotic episode!

There is no forgiveness or understanding which leads to Pym's later problems.

Also, as I remember this issue, I thought that maybe the Angel might really join the Avengers but one new member was all they could handle, apparently.

#212 had a sequel (of sorts) in What If…? #35, but don’t bother seeking it out if you haven’t read it; it’s just as lame as the story upon which it is based.

Avengers #215 (01/82)
Writer - Jim Shooter Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Alan Weis Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – Alan Weis
   “All the Ways of Power!"
So, the Avengers enter 1982 with a guest artist that is celebrated on the splash page (in probably too long a chatty banner) - Alan Weis - and while I love some of his (later?) work - I can't say I'm impressed here!

The composition of this cover seems very strange to me (the advert doesn't help!) Tigra and the Surfer feel cramped and the other heroes feel part of a different picture with Cap having a very strange left leg and the Molecule Man's floating head looks manic rather than menacing.
Honestly, the whole thing looks inked by a child or something. In contrasts the clear lines of the corner roll-call box looks classy. (Why is YJ still featured there though?)
I do like that the Silver Surfer gets his own logo but it is painfully angled and squashed in.

So, after that chatty editorial opening we begin with Tigra trying to cash her Avengers pay-check and attracting the wrong sort of attention. Early days for equality here - "C'mon lady! Look at the way you're Dressed! You're Asking for it!"
While she clearly doesn't agree, Tigra uses he new cash to clothes-shop and dressed to stun.
As if this scene was not enough to make the point Shooter's after, Tigra gets hit on again in a bar by a slimeball before she puts him in his place and catches her subway train home.

A wierd entertainer type plays percussion for the travellers but gets his drumsticks broken by a critic who gets thrown off the train by Tigra who gives most of her money away, abandons the clothes and seems to think she is better suited fighting crooks and lowlifes.
This is all very well but it's kind of three scene's to tell the plot of one - Tigra is trying to fit into her new role but still worried about how terrified she was fighting the Ghost Rider last issue.
Otherwise there's quite some padding going on here.

Segued in is a strange vagrant that Tigra sits next to on the train - who it turns out is the Silver Surfer - still confused by the ways of mankind.
"Though I have long studied it, this madness of men yet remains a mystery to the Silver Surfer!"
The Surfer rides the skies lamenting the ignorance of man etc (yawn) and hones in on a strange power source out of town - a wand.
He picks it up, examines it... and throws it away. He then watches as molecule by molecule a man is formed holding onto the wand... the Molecule Man!
"Good Evening!"
For newcommers the surfer recounts his Origin,
"What a story! Galactus! What a guy! Eats planets huh?"
For newcommers the Molecule Man explains his origin.
Curiously, the Surfer gets more pictures and backstory than the Molecule chap even though, presumably, the villain's story is much less known.

He decides to take a leaf out of Galactus's book and magics himself up a helmet (so looks more like the cover image) and decides he will absorb molecules to increase his power a la Galactus and the Surfer pledges to stop him.
They struggle against each other molecule-power vs power-cosmic until all looks lost for the silver guy.

Alone, the Surfer's board floats off to the HQ of previous allies the FF but can't get in.
Passing by, Tony Stark changes to Iron man to investigate and collects the riderless board.
Steve Rogers cuts out on a meeting as a budding artist (Secretary being Ann Nocenti! - That's nice.) to answer an Avengers alert as Cap.
Don Blake gets the same alert, changes to Thor and leaves a restaurant.
"Good grief! There was A God.. in the men's room!"

So, soon after the four Avengers (Cap, Tigra, Iron Man and Thor) ponder the board. Tigra jumps on the board and sense it home which suprisingly seems to work .
Suddenly we cut to after the Avengers have found the Surfer and he is freed.
This is a shock and a jar in the pacing of the issue - especially after the Tigra scenes felt padded.

The Surfer explains what had happened to him and (annoying Cap by speaking mainly to 'god' Thor) teams with the Avengers to find and fight the Molecule Man.
Tigra catches a ride with the Surfer on his board - somewhat daunted by him but showing an enquiring mind and deeper thought than she outwardly shows,

"And you, it seems, must hide your wisdom behind flippant words!"

The team find a newly created dome over New Jersey (not very well realised artistically IMHO) and try to pierce it.
The power houses make a small hole and Tigra slips through, happy to be able to prove her worth by reconoitouring the villain's lair alone.
The bad guy catches her and she starts to appeal to his better nature by telling him she wouldn't hate him as she needed to get to know him first etc... he starts to explain his sad life...(it and indeed the villain throughout is played/depicted as silly and childish.

The Avengers burst in but the M-Man is not phased. He takes away Cap's shield, Thor's hammer, Iron Man's armour and even the Surfer's board. (this must be before later writers made the board an extension of himself or some-such.)

Cap snatches the wand but... the wand is no longer the source of the power.

M-Man sets up to kill the men while helpless Tigra watches on....!
It's a set-up cliffhanger for the next issue but again feels rushed.

This feels like an Annual story placed into two normal issues, which may explain the artist - given a stand-alone project?)

The villain could have been a real palpable threat but - perhaps in fairness because his power-set is ridiculous - he is played for laughs and it falls flat.

There is no real characterisation for anyone lese other than Tigra who's growth is attempted but hamfisted.

I am very concerned here that the story resolution is going to be as per Bucky in the Invaders/Liberty Legion storyline and the Swordsman in the opening of the Celestial Madonna story - where the 'weakest member' is overlooked by the pompous villain only to make good in the end!

The art.....I'm sorry...the art does not work for me. Am I alone? Am I missing something?

Next Issue "Tigra -- The Last Avenger."

Come Back...

By the time Avengers #215 came out I had been reading new issues of the series for a couple of months. Silver was a long-time favorite of mine, and I had the entire run of “Tigra” (Marvel Chillers #3-7). I was PRIMED to read this story! I remember being really into the cliffhanger. I knew full well the Avengers weren’t going to be killed (as it appeared), but I’ll be darned if I could figure out how they would escape… if the writer was playing fair. I love movie serials, but I’m pretty sure I had yet to see my first (and I don’t even remember which that was) by the time I read #215. Often the next chapter would insert a scene not shown in the previous chapter’s cliffhanger. “Oh! I didn’t notice the hero had jumped from the cliff before it went over the cliff!”
Could Shooter convincingly pull it off?

Avengers #216 (02/82)
Writer - Jim Shooter Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Alan Weis Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – Alan Weis
   “...To Avenge the Avengers!"
I say again - I'm not very impressed with Alan Weis's art here - this cover is overwrought, over inked and just plain...ugly.

I know the background characters including the Silver Surfer are supposed to be ghost-like and Tigra is supposed to be a bit feral but any horror angle here is completely undermined by the grinning Molecule Man or at least the silly doll.

I can't stop thinking her right wrist looks broken!

It just doesn't work for me I'm sorry.

Oh and the corner roll-call still has Yellow-Jacket and Wasp.

The splash page is a perfect example of the contradictions that drag this issue down - foreground Tigra, defeated and dejected, background ridiculously proportioned Molecule man with silly hat - not intimidating or threatening at all.

We get a flashback page recapping last issue with very small figures and way too much lettering.
Tigra asks the triumphant Molecule Man what his intentions are for her, "Am I going to be you Mate or..." and he goes for...

"-- my pet! Here, Kitty, Kitty!"

Tigra asks for the bathroom only to be told, as the childlike villain doesn't understand plumbing...his base doesn't contain one.
This does highlight that his incredible powers are only limited by his imagination but it comes over as glib comedy cutting out any tension.

Outside the force-field dome he has created we watch as the military stand by and the Fantastic Four arrive.... they can't get in either.
Inside and we learn that our heroes were not actually killed last issue - you-don't-say!?

The Silver Surfer used his 'Power Cosmic' to disintegrate the molecules of the anvil/hammer/lid that closed over them...it's all a bit convieniently vague.

The next scene is probably the most interesting and surprising that it hadn't happened long ago...
Having had his armour zapped away...Tony Stark is revealed as the man in the Iron suit and Dr Don Blake revealed to be the human face of the depowered Thor.... this is the first time Captain America has had these revelations revealed!
Both assure Cap that even without their heroic personas they are still worthy of being Avengers!
This results in a grinning panel of Cap which is the oddest I can remember!

Alone and scared Tigra is inspired by Caps past advice and begins to get braver...
She approaches the sleeping, vulnerable Molecule Man deciding that her only next move...is to kill him!
"But... I just can't kill him! There must be another way!"
The bad guy was aware of her approach and is quite surprised she didn't press her advantage.

The not-dead heroes reveal themselves to Tigra and she breaks down in front of them ashamed of her behaviour.... they don't quite get her point.
"Good strategy, Tigra -- Preserving your life so you'd be able to carry on the battle!"
"It, um, wasn't exactly strategy, Cap! See T was terrified and..."

She is then let into the secret I.Ds of the team which she is chuffed to be trusted with.

Then the Molecule Man attacks preventing any plan they had, Tigra gets mad and calls him names and he is reminded of his oppressive mother.
Donald Blake gets a punch in! "Huh? The gimpy guy! I thought you ran away!"

The Molecule Man retreats to a throne room and the Surfer exhausts himself fighting through his defences.
Cap is the one to get through, with his usual speechmaking determination.
The bad guy is knocked out and a philisophical/practical discussion begins as to how to defeat/contain him....they debate the morallity of actually killing him!

For info - Tony goes with kill, Cap goes with not and Don Blake isn't sure!

As they debate and Tigra namecalls eventually the Molecule Man wakes and announces "I want to start seeing atherapist!"

So that's it - surrender.

It's like a scene is missing!?

Thor's hammer is restored, as is the Surfer's board and Cap's shield while Tony only gets a red-and-gold-leisure-suit as the electronic gadgets were to difficult to restore. (Although Thor's hammer was easy???)

Cap offers the Surfer membership, "You'd be a welcome addition to our ranks!"
He refuses of course, preferring to travel alone.
Would he have made a good Avenger? Should he have been signed up at this stage? Anyone championing him for the team?

We turn then to Tigra...
"I--- I guess it's farewell for me too gang!"
"I'm just not in the same league as you guys!"
"I think I'll quit while I'm ahead!"
...and with a kiss to Jarvis...she leaves! "Seeya, Gang!"

It falls to Jarvis to wonder what next for the Avengers..."My word! Only three remain! It would appear -- that a membership drive is in order!"

So, there ends an annoying two-parter, I say annoying because I really can't say what it was trying to be?
Horror - re the ghostly cover and the scared frightened Tigra we were all supposed to worry for?
Comedy - re the cry-baby villain in the silly hat?
Soap-Opera - re the secret IDs of pivitol members revealed to each other setting up a new atatus quo for our heroes?
None of these storylines really work do they? They are all overshadowed by the scrappy, scratchy, stick-figures with way too much writing in ridiculously small panels artwork!
Sorry, Alan Weis is a fan-favourite (and I love some of his cover work elsewhere!) but this really can't be anybody's idea of a polished product can it?

The 'have-we-the-right-to-kill-the-all-powerful-villain' is not a new debate and gets played out many times after this (notably the end of the Secret Wars II mini reminds me of this) and I don't think anyone's views were changed as a result of this issue.

Tigra was never up to being an Avenger, the 14year old me knew it then and it's blindingly obvious to me now - and equally obvious that that was Shooter's point all along.

I was intrigued at the time that she now knew the secret Identities while most long-standing Avengers didn't and I wondered if she would feature in a plotline where she inadvertently reveals he knowledge as she was such an air-head...but it doesn't happen.

Membership drive Jarvis? I hoped so and you would think so but we go back to kick more sand in Hany Pym's face first...
Next Issue "The Return of... Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Egghead!"

Come Back...

I really hated that Tigra was depicted as an airhead so often despite her pre-transformation self having been depicted as exceptionally intelligent and brave as the Cat.  A shame that a potentially very interesting character was so screwed up.

Tigra asks for the bathroom only to be told, as the childlike villain doesn't understand plumbing...his base doesn't contain one.

Maybe with his limitless power he doesn’t eat, drink, pee or poop!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Could Shooter convincingly pull it off?

“...it's all a bit convieniently vague.”

In other words, no, he could not.

“Would [the Silver Surfer] he have made a good Avenger?”

No. And neither would Spider-Man, or Wolverine, or Luke Cage, or...

Ha. I'm with you there Jeff...

           ....or Daredevil, or Storm, or wotsername -Echo-wasit, or......

Jeff of Earth J  said

“Would [the Silver Surfer] he have made a good Avenger?”

No. And neither would Spider-Man, or Wolverine, or Luke Cage, or...

Avengers #217 (03/82)
Writer - Jim Shooter Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Bob Hall Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – Bob Hall & Dan Green
This is actually a powerful cover which probably gets overlooked in any praise of the title - very well composed, highly dramatic, cinematic and even with the incredible hype of the captions.
"This Issue: The people of Marvel Comics proudly present perhaps the most moving story you'll read this year.
Featuring the return of the Wasp and Yellowjacket! "A Hero's Last Stand!"
Gotta love the corner roll-call box too for getting the team right here.
Admittedly the Wasp's face looks a bit odd but I think they were trying for 'stern' and yes, we are all thinking - haven't we already covered Yellowjacket's Last Stand/Fall from grace?

No-one's missing the banner adverts on the covers eh?

Under an unnecessary and not very funny 'humourous' credits banner the issue opens with a welcome return to 'clean' artwork after Alan Weis's recent two-parter. (I thought I might get some arguements from you readers out there about my downer on his artwork...!)

The opening introduction to the 'Mechano-Marauder is, of course, light-hearted, to ease us into the heartbreak presumably. Even the name is silly but it isn't annoying as the right side of farce is kept to.
"Good grief! Something of this sort Would have to arrise on the day of the Avengers weekly meeting!"
"There appears to be a ruffian out-side intent upon physical combat with an Avenger! Shall I call the Police, Sir?"
Iron Man suggests Jarvis puts on some tea and goes to sort the 'ruffian' out himself.
"You dare to mock me?"
"Hey, you made up that dumb name, fella!"

As they battle a limo arrives and Jan arrives.
Her ignoring him enrages the Marauder who throws her car at Iron Man.
Captain America arrives, on a motorcycle and using the car as a ramp, enters the courtyard followed by Thor, both not needing to help out Iron Man.
"I am the God of Thunder, Captain America... not subtlety!"

Hidden away in a squeezed panel on the page, Jan explains she has now completed her divorce from Hank - "No more Mrs Hank Pym-- I'm Janet Van Dyne again, free and single!"
It's quite a moment really.

Iron Man finishes off the Marauder and heads for the meeting... the armour occupant vows, "Do you hear me? I Fabian Stankowicz shall return!" and the neat opening set piece is over.
(Who expected/expects him to return...? Really?)

The telephone lines are out due to the fight and Iron man worries about lack of contact from (disgraced)Hank Pym...
We are reminded of how and how far Pym has fallen as he does try to get in touch - but gets short shrift from a temp-secretary before Mrs Arbrogast (always loved her!) returns and realises the gravity of the missed contact.

The Avengers meeting begins and Jan jumps right in requesting the election of a new Chairman...nominating herself!
This may not seem much of an event to us - but in 1982 it kind of was!
The other three members unanimously agree and the Wasp takes over!
"Thanks, boys! Now, let's get down to business!"
The obvious storyline here would presumably be that she was going to fail - be too emotional and meek to control the Alpha-males around her - an extention of the out-of-her-league Tigra plot....but.....maybe.....just maybe.....

Hank Pym walks, penniless, into a bar and is met by... his old enemy Egghead!
Egghead explains that he's after help from Pym and we are all reminded (but not given editorial references) of Egghead's neice Trish Starr who had when last met, lost her arm due to an explosion set by the villain.
(Without researching I think the loss of the arm happened in the Defenders and from the panel shown her introduction may have been in solo Ant-Man stuff?)

Egghead shows Pym an artificial arm he has made for Trish and claims he wants to give it to her to enhance her life - knowing she wouldn't trust him he wants Pym to present it to her and she might just accept it.
We don't trust crying villians do we?

Egghead sweetens the pill with money that Pym doesn't like to take...but does need.
Pym changes to Yellowjacket (not sure why? - "I think it may help!") and visits Trish.
YJ does explain the arm comes from Egghead but it's his vouching that sways her to accept it.
It's attached and seems fine until she realises she cannot control the arm and it hits YJ!
Through the arm Egghead explains he now controls Trish completely and has fooled Pym, "You ninny!"

YJ is forced to do Egghead's bidding and travels to a secret Omaha base.
Despite putting in a quick alarm call to the Avenger YJ he has to help the controlled Trish steal adamantium while Egghead rubs in his Court-Martial.

The Avengers arrive and he is forced to fight them or Egghead kills his neice.
the avenegrs fight their old teammate who naturally cannot explain why he appears to have turned bad.
Eventually, defeated, YJ explains the truth but when Trish is discovered, no outside control over her arm can be detected and ...they don't believe him!

Egghead cuts contact but leaves Trish with false memories which seem to further cement YJ as a villain and YJ has no option but to surrender.....

The issue closes as the dejected Avengers, back at the mansion, do not read the paper headlines that we see, above a photo of YellowJacket, announce...
"Ex-Avenger Jailed!"
Now that's a downbeat ending!

Admitedly it's all about set-up here and Egghead being able to create such gizmos that Pym or even Tony Stark cannot detect pushes credibility a bit.
The Avengers vs Yellowjacket is a good battle and it is neat that the Wasp uses his party-piece against him.
I also like that the cover is indeed a scene from the action of the interior.
Did we need further misery for Hank? Probably not - but it is actually well done although incredibly difficult to watch/read!
Anybody else feel his is actually much better than they remembered it being?

What now for the Avengers who still need a membership drive don't they?
Next Issue - "Born Again... and Again...and Again..."

Come Back...

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