So this last week, my copy of Marvel Masterworks #186 shows  up.  This reprints the Avengers #112-119 and the appropriate Defenders issues to complete "the Avengers/Defenders War".

SPOILERS:      SPOILERS GALORE BELOW:

Now, I've been looking forward to this, because back in the day, I had abandoned the Avengers about a year before this tale started...and so, I have not been familiar with the story...except in passing as I've heard about it, and seen an occasional issue or two in the back issue box.

So, it was with great interest that i was reading the introductory pages by Steve Englehart, as he explains his approach to this milestone in the late silver age.(Please don't quibble, but go with it for now).

He indicates that he has already made comments about this epic in various places, including in the Defenders volume of the Marvel Masterworks series. (As I never was into the Defenders in the first place, I have skipped that volume, and have no desire to pick it up.) But, I'd be very interested to see a scan or read a photocopy to see what other statement or info he shared elsewhere. And I know that the epic has been reprinted in several formats now, in TPB, and in at least two Masterworks volumes, as well as in Essential collections.

But could somebody please tell me what is so damn good about this tale?  

As I read it, it's something that came about because he COULD do it, writing both titles, and recognizing that they were both team books.  In concept, it seems similar to the Grandmaster's game in Avengers #69-71....and also the Contest of Champions mini series... as each pair of  heroes is questing after a fraction of the goal, device, or trophy to be assembled at the end.

Now in this case, I shudder to see both Preston John and the Evil Eye come back from silver age limbo where they had rested in peace ever since Jack Kirby used them successfully in a one-shot story back in FF# 54.  I saw no need at all to resurrect them, especial to imply that there were now six identical smaller eyes (or should I call them horns of plenty) running about.

As for the concept that a pair of heroes would square off in each new issue...well, that's all well and good, but I found both the swordsman and Mantis to be far too new to care about.  And a combination partnership between Dormammu and Loki...well, that's just nuts to begin with.

I do know of and recall the Halloween Tom Egan/Rutland parade tradition of superhero costume adventures over the years...ever since the Lady Liberators made their first and only appearance in Rutland.  But I'm not sure that I care about the fact that they help to resolve this adventure either.


No, Englehart says this new volume of mine is more the story of Mantis, how she came, evolved and developed into something more than he had intended: a home-wrecker   And frankly, though i know where she's headed, I don't see the tremendous build-up or significance in these first issues to make me care about her.

Mr. Englehart says she was his attempt to inject sex into a group of male superheroes, and maybe she is and did create dissension .. but he also says he sent up a  trial balloon in the Beast half dozen solo adventures over in Amazing Adventures when Patsy Walker was pictured in a baby doll nightgown. And the comics code didn't object.  So, since I detest THAT story arc as well, could anyone help a bro out and post a scan of what he's talking about in the art department near the end of that run for the Beast? (I know the Beast will eventually be folded into the Avengers, but for now, he's just a Jeckle and Hyde/werewolf rip-off who's adventures I still don't care about.)  But I'd love to see the artwork or panel or two that was designed to push the Code's buttons.

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Regarding the Avengers/Defenders question, I've only read one issue from the storyline, namely Defenders #10 (two if you count #11, which resolved the Black Knight storyline). I like the handling of the fight between Thor and the Hulk.

But could somebody please tell me what is so damn good about this tale? 

Uh, yeah, I wish I could, Kirk, but I can't. I read it a couple of years ago, and I didn't get it at all. Maybe because at the time it was new and different, so it gets a pass now. It definitely doesn't hold up these days.

I mentioned the motivation behind the War here.

I read one interview where Steve Englehart couldn't believe Marvel's reluctance to have a crossover event between two books for four months. Given the amount of "Dreaded Deadline Doom" reprints, Marvel's concerns were justifiable. Nowadays if a book is late, it's late.

I don't know that it was such a great, classic story, but it was the first elaborate crossover to involve so many heroes, with individual battles between iconic heroes. It gets attention for being such a long crossover at a time when that didn't happen.

Today, it's probably not that big of a deal, and the plot is fairly perfunctory. I don't know that you see many people *today* calling it a great story, but people probably have fond memories of it, because it was rare for the time.

I doubt there was too much worry about deadlines, considering one writer was doing both books and the artists weren't known for slowing things down. It was probably as safe as it could be--but at the time, it was probably considered a high-wire balancing act.

Now in this case, I shudder to see both Preston John and the Evil Eye come back from silver age limbo where they had rested in peace

It was a McGuffin, so reviving it doesn't seem that horrifying. It's more interesting that Englehart would remember it and use it, when he could have used anything or made something up. But that's par for the course with Silver Age stuff--nothing is ever left alone.

I think the only SA character who's never been revived is Tula the Aqua-Girl, and I probably just missed it. I used to say Prince Ra-Man, too, but apparently he's come back. Granted, a lot of that has to do with creators not wishing to give away their billion-dollar character idea, so they reuse what they can't trademark themselves. 

So we should probably be glad the evil eye returned for something like that, as it would've returned by now in some form.

-- MSA

Bob Brown and Sal Buscema were the artists involved because of their reliability.

Do you think Englehart could "slip one past the Comics Code" back in Amazing Adventures #16 or so with Patsy Walker's nightgown because nobody was reading the book?  Or were the code people more concerned with more overt violence or sex?

I doubt the Code (or most readers) recognized that she was wearing a babydoll nightgown. It was about the same length and consistency (ie, not see-through) as other dresses, and she wasn't especially falling out of it.

I imagine their thought was that Patsy doesn't answer her front door in a babydoll nightgown, so that's not what it was. It was about a subtle of a revolutionary move to inject sex as I've seen.

-- MSA

Man, compared to the good girl art (or bad girl pin-up art) that we got in the 90s, this stuff is incredibly tame.

As a kid, I was much more disturbed by the Gene Colan artwork of showing Natasha in the shower that Roy Thomas slipped into Amazing Adventures. It seemed to serve no purpose, except to show us that 1) she was sweaty and concerned with hygene and appearance, and 2) that she was a flesh and blood woman behind all that steam....

it didn't advance the plot at all.

...I think we came to the conclusion a while back that Tito Murray , Red's brother in later issues of CHALLANGERS OF THE UNKNOWN , a rock star with a quite short , " dandy-like " Britishy look , has never reappeared , MSA .

  FTM , I thought , when DC announced the New 52 , of submitting something involving " Refnew and Super-Hip " , supporting characters from JERRY LEWIS and BOB HOPE respectively , now grown up , with a " forever young " Super-Hip playing the Indian casino circut and driving his manager Refnew to distraction...

Mr. Silver Age said:

I don't know that it was such a great, classic story, but it was the first elaborate crossover to involve so many heroes, with individual battles between iconic heroes. It gets attention for being such a long crossover at a time when that didn't happen.

Today, it's probably not that big of a deal, and the plot is fairly perfunctory. I don't know that you see many people *today* calling it a great story, but people probably have fond memories of it, because it was rare for the time.

I doubt there was too much worry about deadlines, considering one writer was doing both books and the artists weren't known for slowing things down. It was probably as safe as it could be--but at the time, it was probably considered a high-wire balancing act.

Now in this case, I shudder to see both Preston John and the Evil Eye come back from silver age limbo where they had rested in peace

It was a McGuffin, so reviving it doesn't seem that horrifying. It's more interesting that Englehart would remember it and use it, when he could have used anything or made something up. But that's par for the course with Silver Age stuff--nothing is ever left alone.

I think the only SA character who's never been revived is Tula the Aqua-Girl, and I probably just missed it. I used to say Prince Ra-Man, too, but apparently he's come back. Granted, a lot of that has to do with creators not wishing to give away their billion-dollar character idea, so they reuse what they can't trademark themselves. 

So we should probably be glad the evil eye returned for something like that, as it would've returned by now in some form.

-- MSA

That's pretty deep if we're considering if a guy who made a couple appearances with a non-super team has been revived. I guess at that level, there could be as many as five SA characters still waiting to be turned into goth killers.

I think DC missed a bet by not doing something with Super-Hip and Renfrew & Witch Kraft, as Arnold Drake intended. But then, I was apparently one of the few fans of both. It probably wasn't their time to become bigger, and I'm not sure it's come since.

I've read the Avengers-Defenders war a couple different times, in various collections, most recently just a couple months ago. There's really not much "there" there, and if nothing else, it continued the Kree-Skrull war tradition of throwing a bunch of ideas up in the air, hoping at least one or two of them would stick as an actual plot device. The Avengers seem to have done that a lot in the late Silver / early Bronze Age years, when talking about something replaced the idea of actually showing it happen to the readers.

But as long as we're talking post-Silver Age Avengers, here's what I'm wondering: What was the deal with Moondragon? I've given up on trying to figure out what Englehart was intending with Mantis (even his explanations need explaining), but there had to have been more of a purpose to introducing Moondragon besides dragging Patsy Walker out of the storyline just when it looked like she might actually have something to contribute (Patsy that is, not Moondragon). Was ever a character supposedly meant to be thought of as a hero ever portrayed in a less flattering light than Moondragon?

We've had lots of quasi-heroes (or to use Stan's term  "Anti-heroes") overnight years.. including Namor, Hulk, Dr. Doom...

But I have to agree, the Avengers just seemed to throw open their doors to anyone for a while there. Whatever happened to the idea that you had to be sponsored...probation...testing...and proving yourself worthy?

I thought the whole Mantis and Swordsman walk in and are accepted, then turn around an seemingly betray the Avengers just to provoke the Lion-God and prove their worth to be totally screwed up and bogus.

Now, the idea of getting a little vamp in there to stir things up is interesting, but not exactly heroic..and I didn't care to see Tony and Steve, Thor and others set against each other over a tramp.  And the fact that she was/is VietNamese really set my teeth grinding.

Let me clarify that: The fact that Englehart would make her VietNamese seemed like a publicity stunt. Though it made for an interesting character, I think it was too soon after the Viet Nam war and while there may have been some familiarity and interest there, it offended me.

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