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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I think Englehart wrote more from a sense of "emotional resonance" than "logical consistency"(as this thread tends to bear out), and so the Toad's feelings for Wanda was paramount to him, and everything that followed kinda made sense until you stop and think about it too long (which is totally what we do here).  It's not like there were a lot of figures from Wanda's past that could have popped up to ruin her honeymoon (and fewer if any from the Vision's): at that point in time, Magneto thought of her as merely a tool, and never a very reliable one at that, Mastermind had only seemed to have a passing interest in her, but he would have certainly fit the story better, since "thought forms" are his bread & butter, but that would have been too obvious, and his use here might have been enough to derail his similar usage in the Phoenix Saga.  None of the X-Men or any of their other villains seemed to have ever really noticed her (odd, considering that, when she was introduced, she represented 50% of the female mutants on Earth!).

For myself, I was willing to buy that the Toad, long neglected, abused, and under-estimated by his allies and his enemies, was able to attain a certain amount of technical know-how from Magneto's mad science stuff (wasn't there a ret-con that Mags had acquired his super-science by finding a cache of notes and stuff left by one of the Inhumans or Eternals?  For all we know, the ever-simpering Toad could have been underfoot the whole time, taking notes just in case he needed to know that stuff), plus all the stuff he was exposed to when the Stranger abducted him.  If I was Mark Gruenwald, I'd explain how Toad learned that the Stranger had equipment stashed in various locations on Earth (and no doubt many other planets), and it took him a while to track them down once he returned to Earth.  Likewise, I'd specify that his "thought images", were actually a kind of "solid hologram", like those so popular in Star Trek.  As for the Toad's intelligence level, in that pre-gaming stats era, there wasn't really any way to tell--whenever he'd said something like "Golly, Master, your new device is so brilliant, my simple brain can barely grasp it's purpose!", he was just kissing up to the boss, and not necessarily making a true statement.  After all, technological prowess doesn't mean one makes clear-headed life choices--in fact, in super-villainy, it's pretty much mandatory that they don't!  But I can certainly see why anyone else would disagree with my self-provided backstory--after all, I was the first one to gripe about this particular tale a page or two ago!

I wonder if Englehart was trying to make a point that we were judging the Toad by his appearance and outward behavior, and that he was a lot smarter than he looked and seemed.

He pretty much had to be smarter than he looked and acted. The way he kissed up to Magneto in the old stories was kind of embarrassing.

Am I the only one who always heard Peter Lorre's voice in my head (in his best Joel Cairo) whenever I read the Toad's word balloons?

“Why is the Stranger bent over so fully?”

Because he’s so tall, I’m guessing.

“Why in his first cover as a member is the Beast’s backside so prominently featured…?”

Because he was depicted coming at the reader on last issue’s cover, I’m guessing.

“The Beast instantly (how’d he do that then?) changes into his Edward G Robinson disguise (used last issue – surely this is not going to be a regular thing is it?)”

No, but the use if the image inducer is consistent with Nightcrawler’s use of it (which didn’t last long either) in his early X-Men days.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON AVENGERS #138:

“So Yellowjacket is super-sensitive to the wasp. It’s the relationship they’ve always had, and the relationship which sums up why he never became a hero like the other originals… including the Wasp. He’s a beta in an alpha world. (If you were to believe in this reality—which, I remend you, was only thirteen years long at this time, and unbroken—you might attribute that to his original desire to become the size of an ant, rather than a giant.) However you get there, his constant attempts to be more than he felt comfortable being are not doing him any good.”

At this point in time, the Beast wasn't using an image inducer, but rather Mission: Impossible style rubber masks (plus gloves to hide his hairy hands), and some kind of harness & straps deal to adjust his posture to be more human than ape-like.  It would have been difficult for him to hide any or all that equipment in his costume (such as it is).  Maybe he borrowed some Pym Particles to shrink his disguises down to a more convenient pocket size?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

“Why is the Stranger bent over so fully?”

Because he’s so tall, I’m guessing.

“Why in his first cover as a member is the Beast’s backside so prominently featured…?”

Because he was depicted coming at the reader on last issue’s cover, I’m guessing.

“The Beast instantly (how’d he do that then?) changes into his Edward G Robinson disguise (used last issue – surely this is not going to be a regular thing is it?)”

No, but the use if the image inducer is consistent with Nightcrawler’s use of it (which didn’t last long either) in his early X-Men days.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON AVENGERS #138:

“So Yellowjacket is super-sensitive to the wasp. It’s the relationship they’ve always had, and the relationship which sums up why he never became a hero like the other originals… including the Wasp. He’s a beta in an alpha world. (If you were to believe in this reality—which, I remend you, was only thirteen years long at this time, and unbroken—you might attribute that to his original desire to become the size of an ant, rather than a giant.) However you get there, his constant attempts to be more than he felt comfortable being are not doing him any good.”

AVENGERS #139 (09/75)

Writer Steve Englehart

Penciller George Tuska Inker Vince Colletta

Cover Art Gil Kane & Frank Giacoia

Prescription: Violence!"

I keep declaring myself a Gil Kane fanatic - but then he keeps producing mediocre stuff like this cover!

It's not great - I've never been much of a fan of the 'floating-heads' reminding readers this is a team book and the fight between Whirlwind and YJ is a bit of a mess here isn't it?

It is indicative of the whole series at this time - rushed, directionless and poor.

One slightly interesting point is how the promise of the cover blurb -

'Prescription: DEATH!" becomes diluted by the inside as only 'Prescription: Violence!"

Inside and YellowJacket is still shouting the odds at everyone, this time threatening the Toad, defeated in the last issue, in an attempt to raise his wife the Wasp from her coma. The Toad is dispatched after admitting he knows nothing of the weapon that injured her.

The watching Avengers are again forced to restrain the raving YJ and old enemy the Whirlwind attacks.

Everyone tries but fails to hold the Whirlwind until Moondragon hits him with a 'mind-burst' and forces him tyo run away.

None of this bears much scrutiny. Why does Whirlwind attack? What was his purpose? It seems just to let Hank cry "And so now there's a new menace after Jan! It's just one long series of disasters! This is Insane! INSANE!"

The art is pretty poor too, whatever your views on the abilities of George Tuska - his glory days appear to be behind him here and Whilrwind is mostly shown as a blur and Moondragon, despit her power turning the tide is hardly shown as being in the room!

YJ shouts out in clear pain and we are reminded of the dangers facing him if he changes size.

Iron man and Thor argue over who is the chairman and who gets to accompany Moondragon - which fails completly to convince. What is Englehart trying to say here?

Iron man goes in search of Hawkeye - missing since he went in search of Doc Doom's time machine so he could search for the Black Knight--got that?

Yellowjacket berates ex-employee chaufer for apparently reinstating himself in the position but seems oblivious to the fact that that chaufer is actually the Wirlwind in disguise. (Surely that link had been made before this issue hadn't it? It all seems ridiculously familiar to me?)

A mysterious female reads of Beast joining the Avengers and announces "You won't escape me again!" sowing the seeds of Englehart's next successful addition to the team (or is that debatable?)...

After some false starts, Yellowjacket finally confronts chaufeur Charles, reveals him - at last - to be the Whirlwind and ...grows to giant-size to fight him. (That's dangerous remember?)

It takes changing down to ant-size and stinging him with Yellowjacket's stingers to defeat the bad-guy though.

I guess this highlights how Yellowjacket is the amalgamation of the best parts of Pym's past identities or something but this is all too messy to try to work too much into.

The Beast arrives and helps YJ take the Whirlwind away and they return to the hospital...with Hank P not telling Hank McM of his pain attacks...

So, an entire issue to yet again show how annoyed YJ can get, how possibly unhinged he is...and little else. Whirlwind's motivation is slim. The Wasp remains comatosed and out of action, as she has since she rejoined the team.

Moondragon gets very little screen time considering she's a new member and the art is.....not very good.

It's been a while since we could really praise an Avengers issue hasn't it...will things get better when the Vision and Scarlet Witch return next issue....?

Come Back...

Believe it or not, this issue is the one where the good guys finally realised that Charles was actually the Whirlwind.

Despite the fact that, as the Human Top, he had battled Giant-Man and the Wasp several times in their Tales to Astonish series, Davy Cannon was seen to have adopted the name "Charles Matthews" and obtained the job of Janet van Dyne's chauffeur in The Avengers # 46 (Nov., 1967).  

That Cannon got hired for such an intimate position can be explained.  Jan had come into her inheritence only three issues earlier and she was probably still giddy over having so much money. She was in her "buy stuff!" mode.  (And let's face it---the Wasp was never shown to be the most grounded of thinkers.)  The part that's hard to get by, though, is that neither Jan, nor Hank, recognised Cannon---after having undoubtedly seen his face after defeating him a couple of times back in their Tales to Astonish days.

Nevertheless, Cannon/Matthews was able to pull the wool over the Pyms' eyes for years---even when he was part of the main sub-plot during Hank and Jan's brief run as the headliners in Marvel Feature. Between Marvel Feature # 5 (Sep., 1972) and # 9 (May, 1973), Cannon, while still holding his job as Charles, the chauffeur, tries to rob the Pyms, makes a move on Jan after Hank is believed to be dead, and finally gets caught embezzling some of Jan's fortune.  That's what gets him fired, but neither Hank, nor Jan, make the connexion between the crooked Charles and their old foe, Davy Cannon.

Perhaps it was the goggles Hank wore as Goliath and Yellowjacket; hard to see things clearly through them, maybe?

Thankyou Commander - no wonder I did not think it made sense ... It really doesn't!!

Lots seem to happen in the Marverl Feature Series's but I don't believe I 'be ever seen them reprinted/collected and cannot remember/never saw the originals!?

Commander Benson said:

Believe it or not, this issue is the one where the good guys finally realised that Charles was actually the Whirlwind.

“What is Englehart trying to say here?”

The only plot point he mentions at all concerning #139 in MMW is “Some mysterious woman is interested in the new Avengers. I wonder how many readers knew who she was in real time.” Jumping ahead (just a bit) to his comments on #140, he added, “She has red hair. You don’t suppose it’s Mary Jane Watson, do you?”

At the time, the only redhead I could think of that knew Hank McCoy was Jean Grey!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

“What is Englehart trying to say here?”

The only plot point he mentions at all concerning #139 in MMW is “Some mysterious woman is interested in the new Avengers. I wonder how many readers knew who she was in real time.” Jumping ahead (just a bit) to his comments on #140, he added, “She has red hair. You don’t suppose it’s Mary Jane Watson, do you?”

AVENGERS #140 (10/75)

Writer Steve Englehart

Penciller George Tuska Inker Vince Colletta

Cover Art Gil Kane & Mike Esposito

  "Journey to the Centre of the Ant!"

The cover declares

"Invasion of the 50-foot Hero!" which makes for a good title but has no actual significance in this issue at all! At no point does 50-foot tall YellowJacket menace anyone for anything like an aggressive action let alone an 'Invasion'...but then..."50-foot Hero kind of just lies there" is not much of a cover blurb is it?

It's a very simplistic cover which probably did not take Gil Kane long to come up with, the Beast still looks wrong facially but his body shape and style is settling down.

I think this cover looks slightly odd due to the lack of any shimmering power effect around where the Vision is phasing into YJ like we normally see.

The inside title is much more on the money as to what's going on plot-wise and yes everyone must see tis as a flip-side / thematic sequal to the Ant-Man's journey to the centre of the Android Vision in #93 which is obviously the inspiration for this issue.

Sadly it seems to be a sudden thought on writer Englehart's part and everything else is skewed into the plot in order to justify the title.

It all seems very forced and arn't we already fed up of hospitalised Wasp and not-quite-up-to-it-YellowJacket?

I'm getting ahead of myself though and we open as we closed last issue - despite that feeling like it was quite well finished.

Returning to the hospital YellowJacket collapses silent to the ground and the Beast notices that he is...growing!

We are reminded that Pym has been struggling against effects of a microbe that had stranded him at ant-size in his recent Marvel Feature...um...feature.

That seems to have changed effects now into making him grow gradually but uncontrolably.

The Beast reports to Thor, who reminds us how ill the Wasp is and how she needs peace and quiet.

Once they return to YJ - he's over 20 feet tall and still growing.

The Beast suddenly remembers his solo-series and his previous job as a scientist and returns to his old office...

We then get a couple of pages of the Beast in the Brand Corporation evading and fighting security but managing to steal/recover a vial of some formula he had handilly invented/forgotten about since his Amazing Adventures days.

Now, I wonder, dear reader, if these few pages are some sort of drawn-but-unpublished pages originally intended for the Beast's solo series asa there seems quite a change of pace between them and the main issue - which seems a bit cobbled together anyway. I think the Beast figures look like they've been refined a little and surely Tuska did do some of the art for the Beast book anyway - didn't he?

We also see the mysterious woman who was looking for the Beast last issue, this time calling at Avengers mansion and being turned away...she's a redhead but we do not see her face. She takes up a position waiting outside for the Beast to return so she, literrally, is not going away anytime soon!

" The Beast owes me-- and I plan to collect!"

At that point, honeymooning couple Vision and Scarlet Witch return to town and happen across the now-giant-size collapsed YellowJacket so pitch in.

Wanda calls the Vision a pet-name of 'dark-eyes' ...thankfully it doesn't take.

The Scarlet Witch brashly announces that her magic can solve YJ's problem...it helps a bit but fails.

It finally falls to Thor, changed to Dr Don Blake, to bridge the medical team looking after the Wasp and the Beasts unknown/untested scientific ability until - finally - a cure is created!

"It'll work! I'm sure it'll work! I've SAVED the poor guy--!"

By this point YJ is 150feet tall and it takes the Vision to phase into his body to release the serum to save him.

A-la Avengers #93 then, the Vision fights through muscle, veins and microbes to deliver the serum actually into the oversized heart....the result being..?

"He DID it! YJ's gonna be ALL RIGHT!"

The finale is mercifully brief - YJ shrinks and recovers and races to the bedside of the Wasp in time to discover that she too has fully recovered.

I am so glad they didn't make this an extra-sized issue like #93 - it plainly and painfully doesn't warrant it!

The issue ends on a kiss.

- What on earth is that last panel appearence of Thor about? I presume it is supposed to be a celebratory pose - but he looks angry/thwarted and it definatly ruins the Pyms moment!

I know what you're thinking -- (you're not are you?) -- why no appearence of Iron Man and Moondragon?

There are three whole panels wherin those two Avengers locate Dr Doom's time machine but do not find their missing teamate Hawkeye.

When blood appears on the machine they both smell a mystery...and a trap.

Really? 'New' member Moondragon only gets three panels while the Beast gets a virtual continuation of his own series?

(Oh, and why does Iron Man - with the nose on the faceplate admittedly - look like he is drawn so badly ? This is Tuska art - he's an Iron Man expert isn't he? So why so wrong?)

So, in my view this is not a great issue, cobbled together and disjointed with poor artwork and it just feels like evrything has been treading water for months.

Thankfully (yay!) - things take a marvelous upturn from next issue..!

Come back...

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