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 re-read #151 a day or two ago in anticipation of this post and I must say I really enjoy the pacing of this issue: how the “meeting” scenes are juxtaposed with the “TV” scenes, each leading into the other, back and forth. This issue really sets the bar for all “Old Order Changeth” issues to come. The line-up had changed quite a few times since #16, but mostly it was an internal thing. This is the story that makes it an “event” withing the Marvel Universe.

It was nice seeing the Champions so soon after having recently re-read their series. I had forgotten about that page.

Regarding Moondragon, I think her actions make sense in light of later revelations (or rather later revelations explain this scenario). I think Moondragon had an unrequited crush on Hellcat, but was still in the closet at this point.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON AVENGERS #151:

“With #151, new writer/editor Gerry conway got his feet wet by taking the last half of my #150 story and interspersing his own story to fill out the issue with new material. You can read his story all by itself, and mine all by itself. I think my side’s intact.

“Each Avenger gets his time on the stage to make his decision and work it through with his teammates. Each one’s a very rich character and deserves a summing-up at issue #150.”

NEXT TIME: Englehart reveals where he would have taken the Wonder Man plot.

Aside from the plot this was also a good recap of some of the characters history.  The commentator was a nice way to bring people up to date, I was still new to comics and I found it very helpful.

Was that Englehart's plan at the time or with hindsight as I thought I had read that he knew he was leaving and threw Gerry Conway a curveball as a parting gift?
 
Jeff of Earth-J said:

NEXT TIME: Englehart reveals where he would have taken the Wonder Man plot.


Probably you are thinking in Englehart leaving Captain America with the "Falcon is Snap Wilson" plot unresolved for his substitute, John Warner, to play with.

He left Avengers abruptly and in bad terms with Conway, so no "parting gifts" there.


Richard Mantle said:

Was that Englehart's plan at the time or with hindsight as I thought I had read that he knew he was leaving and threw Gerry Conway a curveball as a parting gift?
 
Jeff of Earth-J said:

NEXT TIME: Englehart reveals where he would have taken the Wonder Man plot.

I hadn't been able to catch up on the last twenty or so issues until now (though I have been following the posts so thanks for keeping them coming Richard), but now I'm fully read up I hope I'll be able to chime in regularly.

Despite the spotty distribution here in the UK I remember really liking the Englehart run and it still stands up on re-reading, but now I'm considerably older (though not much wiser) I can more appreciate the flaws you and other commenters have pointed out, my main objection being the favoured characters (I didn't mind Mantis so much, but when he brings the Beast in I quickly got tired of him saving the day, with the final punch on Whirlwind, pulling the cure for Yellowjacket out of his backside and beating the Toad/Stranger with his mastery of the art of disguise!). Yeah, the plotting and pacing could be off at times but the dialogue makes them easily readable all these years later.

And as penance for being away I forced myself to read 145/146 for the first time since they were published: not quite as terrible as I remember but still pretty bad. Like everyone else who was there at the time my loathing for these issues was mostly based on them being slapped into the middle of the ongoing storyline.

But enough babbling on about stuff you've already covered, on the 150/151. As you've noted, if it were a single issue (150) it would've been near perfect – pacing, scripting, art, character spotlights, Avengers history, it's all there. Including a genuine Kirby cover on 151. What's not to love.

As for the line-up, well now it seems Moondragon was brought in specifically to facilitate the removal of Thor (who may or may not have been replaced with the revived Wonder Man – looking forward to Jeff's posting next time for where that would've gone), and Hellcat solely created so Englehart could tie up his Patsy Walker plot-thread from Amazing Adventures, so they may never have been serious contenders. To be honest I was more surprised when Yellowjacket came back in at the end of the issue. He doesn't bring much to the table that isn't already covered by one or more of the others, but I probably wouldn't make that his defining character trait. Ahem.

At the time I was disappointed to see Englehart go but checking out the conflicting claims recently as to why he left it was probably for the best. And I agree, Richard, there are some great issues to come.

m



Richard Mantle said:

I am unashamedly fanatic about this issue, it's writing and it's artwork.


The greatest era of Avengers ever IMHO begins here!

“Was that Englehart's plan at the time or with hindsight as I thought I had read that he knew he was leaving and threw Gerry Conway a curveball as a parting gift?”

According to Englehart, “When I plotted this, as #151, I had no idea I was about to depart the series, so I was re-introducing Wonder Man to begin my latest run.”

I read #152 over the weekend and I’m ready to spill more whenever you are ready to move forward.

Soon...soon...

AVENGERS #152 (10/76)
Writer – Gerry Conway   plotter- Steve Englehart
Penciller – John Buscema                 Inker – Joe Sinnott
Cover Art – Jack Kirby & Dan Adkins 
 

 

“Nightmare in New Orleans!"


Well, it's a pretty busy and powerful Jack Kirby cover - he draws a mean skeleton/zombie/skull but a pretty poor Parrot Man/Black Talon.


I have to comment on Kirby's depiction of Wonder Man - remember it was Kirby that drew his original appearance!
The mask/cowl shows a bare neck that Wonder Man should not have.
The stomach pattern 'wave-swirls' is drawn here as a strange scales kind of pattern and there are some shiny metallic rings around the neck - that just do not exist!
What's that all about?

This was to be the great re-emergence of the old-continuity-rich Wonder Man - why oh why was the costume drawn wrongly??
(Yes - it does matter! - Doesn't it?)


Oh and it's a much smaller point but -- what's with the Wasp's wings? - very small and stubby!
...and I haven't even needed to bring up the lack of drama in the comedy Parrot Man/Black Talon !!


Inside and what is impressive is the way the action takes over straight after the cliff-hanger of last issue - despite the sea-change in artist!
Wonder Man collapses after accusing the Vision of stealing his mind...
"He...did it. He...is the one...the One Who Stole My Mind!"
Iron Man recaps recent events and our scientist-Avengers examine Wondy...
"He's ALIVE, Beast."


Dan Rather/Sam Reuther gets short shjrift from Jarvis (but seems to become gingerhaired?!)
We learn Wonder Man appears to have lost his mind/memories but begins moaning ..."The Silver Shadow...the Reaching Hand...Reaching...REACHING!"


We are supposed to know, now anyway, that this 'silver shadow' refers to the influence of Ultron behind the scenes...but it is not clear here, indeed the mystery is the thing but the revelation waits.


The Vision gets a pang of guilt, "I can no longer contain my guilt..." over his using of Wonder Man's memories/brain waves.


The Scarlet Witch manages to cut through all this mystery though by reminding everyone that...

"Wonder Man was sent here and whoever sent him is responsible for his condition-- not us and especially not The Vision!"
Wanda does a heebeegeebee spell on dirt from the crate that housed Wondy and determines it's origin is the Voodoo homeland of New Orleans and throws in the term - "A Zuvembie!" -which is basically, Marvel's replacement word for 'zombie' which the Comics Code apparently would not allow - even though up to this point it had meant a female-zombie when first named in Robert E Howard's 'Pigeons from Hell' (1938) (- admit it - you're impressed there eh? See -- I do do my homework!)


As the Avengers head off to New Orleans to follow this lead we get a quick scene with YellowJacket forcing a smile and beginning to embrace the life of a super-hero again...apparently.

.
I love the fact that Captain America brings up he once fought a Vampire in WWII (Baron Blood in Invaders #6) and Iron Man that he battled a Werewolf (by Night) recently too!...and they cut to our blue furry Avenger - the Beast!


Once in New Orleans the Avengers...walk down the street. (Again? !) - they find a source of information who the Scarlet Witch subjects to sorcery/hexes to get a location out of - 'Le Mort Bayou!" or "The Dead Swamp" and so they go a wading through the swamp with the unconcious Wonder Man.


We get more spooky talk "What are you afraid of -- Boogey Men?" before Wonder Man appears to wake up and starts walking towards his master...


What follows is Wonder Man joins a group of rotting zombies presenting themselves before a brightly costumed Parrot Man / Black Talon. (linking back to Strange Tales #173) who is surprised to see him as he believed him to be conducting his 'mission' in New York.


The Avengers attack and the Black Talon appeals to his own 'master' ' the Serpent God Himself -- DAM-BALLA!" (Who/what?)
In a confusing climax (IMHO) the Scarlet Witch defeats the Black Talon by relying on her mutant power over reality rather than magic to defeat the so-called Dark-God.


After knocking the Talon out with a lump of wood (honestly!) the Witch declares..." Black Talon knows nothing! Wonder Man was brought to him by his servants, already 'alive' - with a message from someone Talon knows only as 'the one whose will we serve""


Somehow this is supposed to point us to Ultron behind the scenes and it is just way too complicated to get that at this stage.


Rather than finish this issue with a declaration that the Avengers will search down the truth to the return of Wonder man as you would expect-- we get a declaration of independence by the Scarlet Witch.

She quits the team and wants to be alone.


It won't last.


So, the art is good inside (and the costumes are all correct!) although it does feel a tad old-fashioned after the recent George Perez work but this story is a mess, it really does not explain Wonder Man's return, the ramping up of the threat from the Black Talon to this Dam-Balla is unecessary  and tying Wonder Man's return to such a fifth-stringer as this Black Talon is almost unforgiveable!


It's almost a shame this issue exists ....better that Wonder Man just gradually comes to his senses as he does in the next few issues and we get the full explanation in the excellent (boy I can't wait until we get to that one!!) #160!


Still love the fact that Wonder Man is back, the Avengers history is important and this is an engaging group of Avengers.


(Ok. so...what would Englehart have done with Wonder Man then...?-- Jeff?)


Come back...

If you're BROTHER VOODOO, it's bad when your arch-nemesis is a guy in a chicken suit.

It's worse, however, when said arch-nemesis in a chicken suit encounters the Avengers DECADES before you do!

And there were guys longing to wear the chicken suit!

Like with the Ringmaster, the Black Talon got his name from a Simon and Kirby Golden Age Captain America story, although in this case there seems to be no similarity besides the name.

GCD Synopsis: Cap and Bucky have a devilish time in cornering an insane murderer who, forced by fate to paint horrendous portraits, decides to paint these type of paintings of the men he intends to murder!

This is so frustrating for me! You're so close to when I first started reading this book.

Iron Man seems to have forgotten he also ran into the Frankenstein Monster while in Limbo. Not quite a year after this he'll be fighting them teaming up with Frankie against Dreadknight. With the horror comics failing the monsters are trying to break into superhero comics, a place they really don't belong. In a realistic world somebody that can toss cars around is pretty impressive, but in the same world as guys like Thor and the Hulk, they have to get huge power boosts just to stay in the game, thus we saw things like Dracula going one on one with Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer, and taking on the whole X-Men team.

How does Wanda know Black Talon had nothing to do with Wonder Man's return?

After this I stopped getting the title regularly and started missing a lot of issues, such as when Wonder Man came to his senses, or the whole Korvac saga.

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