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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Let's see how many reboots they have in a few years.

The whole idea of holding Roy Thomas responsible for violating continuity that hadn't been established yet is absurd.

AVENGERS RE-ASSEMBLE!

An Editorial by ROY THOMAS, Who’s Written an Avengers Issue or Two in His Day

It’s nice to be back, if only for a little while.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child”—and read as a child.

“But when I became a man— ”

Nope, I just couldn’t do it—wouldn’t do it, rather.

As a man—a card-carrying member of the adult community, so called—I found I had no desire to put aside what are often called “Childish things,” usually by persons addicted to “Hollywood Squares” and re-runs of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Instead, I wanted to take some of the best of those things with me—to transform them into something a little newer, a little different.

Stan Lee had shown the way, in THE FANTASTIC FOUR and yes, in THE AVENGERS as well—where, working first in concert with Jack Kirby and later with Don Heck, he had shown what might really happen if a bunch of ultra-powered super-doers got together on a regular basis, to gang up against the forces of evil and anything else that got in their way.

Would they work in tandem for the good of mankind, for peace on earth?

Usually.

Would they quarrel among themselves, like an only-somewhat-nobler version of the PTA or the local Jaycees?

Probably.

Would they have the same torments, the same conflicts as other men in other groups have known thru all the ages?

You better believe it.

And so, when I took over THE AVENGERS ‘way back in issue #35, I enjoyed myself to the hilt on a comicbook strip for the first time. I altered the concept which Stan had created a bit, admittedly—in many ways, I probably concentrated on plot a little more, on in-group conflicts a little less—but I had a ball for 69 or 70 issues, and who’s counting, anyway?

I didn’t do it alone, of course. Besides the talented Don Heck, there were others: John Buscema, whom neither I nor most comics fans has heard of until he set the field on its ear by the way he combined action and illustration from the later 1960s on—Sal Buscema, who proved that kid brothers can have a lot on the ball, too—Rich Buckler, who blew in from Detroit and made a real name for himself during the brief time he worked on the series. Working with guys like these, naturally I had a ball.

I don’t know if all bad things must come to an end eventually, but it would seem at least that all good things do.

Finally, after the aforementioned 69 0r 70 issues (I forget which, also why), THE AVENGERS and I had to call it quits. I turned the scripting over to Steve Englehart, who has built upon what Stan and I left him and has made the book distinctly his own, working with John B., Bob Brown, Don Heck, and now the exquisite embellishment of Dave Cockrum.

Still, when it was definitely decided that there would be a GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS of one page-length or another, I simply had to jump back in, if only for one brief moment, and get a story off my chest. A story bridging the gap, perhaps, between THE AVENGERS, which had been my favorite superhero comic of all to write, and the heroes of my late-1940s youth, when Captain America (in one incarnation or another), the original Human Torch, and the ever-sensational Sub-Mariner were still stomping around in the pages of mags with titles like MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS.

I ASKED Rich Buckler if he’d like to try the “one more time”: bit with me, and he said sure. It was a simple as that.

Then, because the resulting story grew too long for re-presentation of an entire AVENGERS tale to round out the issue (and since we’ve been featuring those anyway in MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION), I tossed in a ‘40s story I recalled with considerable fondness and which I’d purchased for my own small collection of antique comic art. The story’s absurd in many ways, you’ll find—nobody now (and not everybody, even back in a simpler time( will believe that the Human Torch could fly to Jupiter at all, let alone in a few short hours. Still, it was a fun story—and one of the first team-ups I remember from Timely Comics, the group which grew up one day to become Mighty Marvel. (A quick aside on sun girl, who co-stars in “The Ray of Madness”: Don’t expect too much from her. She had no super powers, or any personality that I ever noticed. It’s the old friendship between cap and torch that counts here, and that alone.)

As for future issues of GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS? I dunno yet.

I do know that, with a barbarian named Conan going great guns in his own monthly mag—with a GIANT-SIZE CONAN hitting the stands a few short weeks from now, and with a new $1 mag called THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN due to debut right after that—with Dick Giordano ad myself busy adapting Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel into comics for DRACULA LIVES!—and with another project or two up my sleeve as well—I don’t have time to continue with the Avengers, even on a quarterly schedule.

Maybe it’s just as well. the strip is distinctly Steve’s now. He lives it, he breathes it—and he infuses that same wonderment, I think, into Sal and Dave when they sit down in the dark of night to draw what is doubtless one of the most difficult Marvel strips of them all.

I’ll keep looking in, though—both in the early plotting sessions, and even more enjoyably, in the final end product, the stories themselves.

I figure you’ll do the same.

Still, it’s nice to be back—for the rest of this issue, anyway.

Thanks Jeff.

So, he just forgot they ever published Annuals then?

At this point it had been about 5 or 6 years since Marvel had last published an Annual with entirely new content. I've never read an explanation as to why they stopped doing them.

Thanks for doing that Roy Thomas transcription, Jeff, and of course I always look forward to your write-ups, Richard.

This was when I came back into the monthly Avengers-reading fold. After suffering all sorts of non-British-distribution nonsense I'd finally found a local* comic shop so I was absolutely thrilled to pick up Giant Size Avengers 1.

And it was fabulous.

Thomas doing his (what would soon be) signature consolidating of Marvel history and continuity, and Rich Buckler getting his very best Kirby mojo on (those square fingertips! krackles!).

And I loved that cover. Yes, it was all sorts of busy, and a bit generic, but I was in a dedicated comic shop for the first time in my life and seeing all my favourite heroes come rushing out of a cover to meet me.... how could I now buy it?

I'd missed the previous half-dozen issues of the regular title, and this didn't help with catching up, but I was hooked from here on in and kept coming back again and again***. And so pleased I did, because there's some great comics coming up.

m

*not local at all, but no more than a long bus ride** away

**and yes i realise for you americans "a long bus ride" probably means traversing several states for days on end - i took 50 minutes crossing the thames and ended up with me buying my comics in soho, our capital's porn centre.

***porn and comics. how on earth could that not work? i was 13.

He said here Captain America and the Whizzer didn't know each other. Later he says they did. Can't establish continuity unless it's the same every time you mention it.

Do people still travel through several states by bus? I've only seen that in old sitcoms. Furthest I've gone was about a dozen miles, and I needed a transfer for that.
 
Jeff of Earth-J said:

The whole idea of holding Roy Thomas responsible for violating continuity that hadn't been established yet is absurd.

I live in London, Ron, and everything and everywhere is now accessible via public transport if you can negotiate it - from one end of town to the other it's no more than four hours.

But at the time we're talking about, I had to cross to the other side of the city, so if you were travelling as far (relatively) as I was to find distributed American comics, I'd have thought you'd have to travel across states.

And from reading this thread and others you all had didn't mind travelling far and wide in the day.

But of course the idea of getting on buses and crossing states was informed by my rather obsessive watching of Sixties/Seventies American television.

Apologies guys. 

m


Ron M. said:

Do people still travel through several states by bus? I've only seen that in old sitcoms. Furthest I've gone was about a dozen miles, and I needed a transfer for that. 

 

A few years ago I attempted to find a bus schedule to get to the next city, about 6-8 miles away. It required walking a mile, taking one bus, getting a transfer to another, then walking the last couple of miles. Plenty of buses in this city. Plenty in the next. None that come anywhere near to each other.

I just got back to Jax, FL, after a long weekend trip to Las Vegas for a little family get together.  My niece and I flew there and back; one brother and his fiancé flew from Houston and my other brother and his wife drove from Anaheim, CA.  No buses, magical or otherwise, on this trip, although we did see the pseudo-Beatles at Planet Hollywood.

AVENGERS #127 (09/74)

Writer - Steve Englehart

Penciller - Sal Buscema  Inker - Joe Staton

Cover Art - Gil Kane and Mike Esposito & John Romita

   "Bride and Doom!"

Love the cover - it's Gil Kane who can do no wrong. I believe Romita will have tinkered with it a little but it remains unmistakably Kane.

I applaud the use of only Thor and Vision on an Avengers cover while throwing in Black Bolt and three (or is it four?) of the FF.

This wonderfully sets the stage for this guest-filled issue.

According to the Index Englehart gets a credit for the colours of this ish - what's that about?

We open with Jarvis serving dinner to the assembled team, shocked at the arrival of Gorgon and Lockjaw of the In humans.

"So my friends...have as I arrived too early then? Why aren't you prepared to depart -- for the wedding?"

After revealing he refers to Quicksilver and fellow Inhuman Crystal we are reminded of Quicksilver's scorn at sister Scarlet Witch's relationship with android Vision (kind of Rocky recently) - Wanda did not expect an invite.

Gorgon explodes in temper, highlighting that all may not be rosey in Attilian, 

"That arrogant posturing fool'

Mantis calms Gorgon, "Your frustration may well be justified......yet you must not vent it upon our house!"

This leads to a wonderful kick-ads moment for Wanda, putting Mantis in her place,

"This is the Avengers' house, Mantis, you''re here merely as a courtesy to the Swordsman!

But let it pass.

Gorgon-- we'll go to the wedding anyway!"

As this is an Inhumans appearance the bad guy must be Maximus - so we meet him - only to see him zapped by the true mysterious villain!

As everyone meets and greets everyone, Quicksilver remains estranged from his sister, not even sitting with his bride to be at the great feast.

We learn the recent story of Omega, from FF # 131-132 harnessing the distrust over the servant race of the Inhumans - the Alpha Primitives.

"Today every Inhuman is an equal"   - we''ve all been reading comics for long enough to spot a sequel haven't we?

Several of our heroes get hypnotized to attack the Alpha Primitives before collapsing seeding a mystery.

In a downtime moment we get character pieces as we finally catch up with Quicksilver who refuses to reconcile with his sister, despite the pleas of Crystal.

Crystal and Johnny Storm have  watershed moment (curiously NOT in an FF issue) ending with an incredibly significant Crystal thought..."Yet -- am I happy Johnny?"


Rounding out the soap opera elements poor Swordsman begs Mantis to explain her feelings but she remains conflicted.

Crystal is grabbed, Fay Wray style by the returned huge Omega.

Our heroes assemble and Quicksilver rebound his old allies, 

"Come then Pietro! Once an Avenger Always an Avenger!"

Maximus, not the big bad, attacks Alphas and everyone gets angry with Mantis needing to put Quicksilver out of action. (Mantis again!)

Swordsman again feels worthy fir a second - before collapsing again!

As Omega attacks in a splash page and everyone freezes, only the Vision begins to suspect the truth, "All this seems familiar somehow"

we close out into a cliffhangeFF #150 as Omega removes his mask to reveal -- "Ultron-7!" 

It is actually an effective reveal as everything seemed to be leading to a mere re-hash of Omega's last appearance and Ulton was a genuine surprise.

I love this issue, I love this grouping and I love this 2-parter but the FF issue does everything better and with better art but this IS good despite being like the poor relation.

I guess it must be the influence if Joe Staton's inks here but there is a shining plastic look to all the figures here - quite different to Sal Buscema's work on the Avengers- Defenders Clash.

Also, Maximus is drawn like a cross between a troll and the Toad. I much preferred Neal Adams' depiction in the Kree-Skrull War.

I adored this period of the Fantastic Four and am hoping for an 'Epic Collection' book covering 'the Medusa years' soon!

In the FF issues where they fell for each other, Quicksilver is written as a very polite gentleman - nothing like the ads he is here! Does everyone scream at Crystal here not to marry him and begin to hope for a return to the Johnny-Crystal love-fest by the end of FF #150 - or just me?

I like the way Englehart, in the absence of Captain America, has everyone deferring to Thor for leadership. Recently everyone writes Thor as a brute / like Hercules used to be and it is a shame, regal and noble Thor is a joy.

So much to like here - and a overhanging crossover...

Come back...

Strangely in the present Johnny is dating a married Inhuman, but it's not Crystal.

What exactly happened to the real Omega? Has he ever appeared again, or was he erased when another artificially made being got his name a few years later?

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