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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True, but it serves double meaning in that he's also the "taskmaster" of the men he trains.

Avengers #197 (07/80)
Writer - David Michelinie Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Carmine Infantino

Inker - 'Jack's little helpers' (Jack Abel was ill) Bob Breeding, Al Milgrom & Vince Colletta
Cover Art – George Perez & Bob McLeod
  Prelude of the War Devil"
I love some things about this cover - The Roll Call of course and also the Jarvis figure on the masthead - reminiscent of the Vision that stood guard for so long - but the rest of the cover is too jumbled for me and so makes this the most unmemorable cover for some time.
"The Untold Story!" "What really goes on at Avengers Mansion!" "Avengers After Hours!" "The Elevator Incident! "Ms Marvel's Shocking Surprise!" "It's All Just Part of the Prelude of the War Devil!"
Sounds very much like an 'Interlude"-type issue bookending doesn't it? Let's see...


We open with a panoramic view of Avengers Mansion on the splash page, which looks great but not necessarily accurate to the Mansion we've been seeing recently. We are reminded that although the Taskmaster escaped last issue our heroes did defeat him and so calm has settled over the Mansion.
However, the team, along with allies Ant-Man and Yellowjacket from last issue who haven't left yet...are stuck in a faulty lift - except for Ms Marvel who we are told has left for some business of her own.
To make some room in the confined space, the Vision phases out which still has an effect on the Beast "-- it still gives me the creeps!". - sorry, but this is sledgehammer writing, in order to remind us that the Vision is 'not-human' and the Beast would be the last person to be weirded out by anyone wouldn't he? This MAY have worked if it was a comment from Ant-Man who has not known the Vision for as long but as is it jars me out of the story.


The Wasp, YJ and Ant-Man shrink down to make space but Wonder Man has a much better idea , "couldn't we just smash our way out?" - he does add that "Spending all those years in a coffin makes me kind of edgy about enclosed spaces."
I am not sure that this is supposed to be taken too seriously, we've never had any suggestion that Simon was conscious of his surroundings while in his death-like-state have we?


Iron Man sorts the lift issue and Jarvis greets the team with medication and messages, someone wants an interview with Cap and someone else is setting up a date with Wonder Man via the Beast. It's all very suburban and sedate even for Jarvis who worries that the coffee percolator is broken,

"Will they ever forgive me?"
This is so like the first half of #194. Is this a new writing formula? Half an issue of routine behind-the-scenes then a build up to a two issue story?


We cut to the Detroit branch of Stark International (no sign of Dale Gunn !) where we meet a restored massive robot (Transformer? Sentinel? Lego?) from a storyline in the at-the-time licenced to Marvel 'Godzilla'- Red Ronin! One of the men viewing the huge robot, knocks the other one out...


Back at Avengers Mansion Iron Man and Jocasta interrupt Captain America's workout for, after her performance with the team last issue, a momentous event in Jocasta's life, "I was wondering in light of the help that 'Casta has given us lately, what you might think of assigning her to full Avenger status."
"Me? A... An Avenger?"
"I think it's an excellent idea, Iron Man. In fact I'll bring it up at the next regular business meeting."
Jocasta is overjoyed at this news, and Cap is reminded of her abilities as she easily lifts the machinery he'd been struggling with for his workout.
So, Jocasta is promised a membership in the Avengers! Well actually, good for her, she still needs some characterisation and storylines but has been hanging around with the team long enough to be taken seriously and now that the six-member limit has been relaxed she deserves the upgrade.


So... how long to "the next regular business meeting" and how come....

** SPOILER ALERT**

-- we never get there??


Jocasta tells Jarvis and the Vision her news and Jarvis prepares to call her 'Mistress' while the Vision congratulates her but still wistfully gazes out the window mooning over his missing wife...


With Wanda in mind, we cut to see her in civvies at a beachside property where we learn she is no longer as alone as she wanted to be - Ms Marvel arrives.
She references her 'seventh sense powers' - whatever happened to them? and she explains that she is there as, "I believe I understand what you're going through-- and I thought you might want some advice from a sister Avenger."
This is already a weird exchange, we are supposed to accept that she set off for this meeting straight from the Solomon Institute last issue, to give some advice to Wanda? And what advice is she so much of an expert on that she can give it..? - to talk Wanda OUT of having children..??
"You're a vital person Wanda, one that half the women in the world would probably kill to be. Surely you find that more 'fulfilling' than any silly stereotype of having a baby?"
Ms Mavel has been getting a few characterisation scenes recently and they've been great but this hard-nosed attitude seems out-of-left-field and feels set up purely because of her coming plotline...


Wanda expresses her position and decision clearly, stating that, for now, children are not her priority, (no explanation why she couldn't discuss the choices with her husband however)

"In fact, I was just about to return to New York when you arrived."
"That's terrific Wanda." (Although it does probably mean we'll have to change the cover-corner Roll-Call next issue!)
With that point made clear we are launched into Ms Marvel's plotline proper...she suddenly feels strangely sick, dizzy and faints!
What can possibly be happening..?


Back at the Mansion Iron Man and Cap talk before the meeting (that's the 'debriefing' meeting - not the 'regular business meeting' -okay?)
Iron Man announces "I've decided that it might be best if I stepped down as Chairman of the Avengers permanently." which surprises Cap - although hasn't he been functioning as Chairman since Gyrich left?
Cap agrees to "schedule an election meeting as soon as possible. Blast it"
(that's an 'election' meeting - not the 'regular business meeting', or a 'debriefing meeting' -okay?)


So, an hour later and the 'debriefing' meeting is in full swing - this explains why Ant-Man and Yellowjacket are still present as it's all about their recent adventure.
Afterwards The Beast and Wonder Man plan a blind date and Ant-Man leaves while the Wasp convinces Yellowjacket not to rush back to his lab...


At their date later that evening Wonder Man finds his date has a child who recognises 'Mr Muscles' none of which is his idea of a perfect match.
Iron Man informs the Vision that Wanda is coming back - but has been diverted to hospital as Ms Marvel is ill - the Vision is...unmoved.


Back at the Detroit robot base, the visiting Dr. Cowan has taken control of Red Ronin and from the inside/cockpit/control centre he blasts the huge robot into the sky, apparently intent on "--World War III!"


The last page is an epilogue at the hospital where Wanda receives an update on Ms Marvel's "condition...?"
Ms Marvel is... "-- Three Months Pregnant!"
It's a bombshell!


Micheline continues to balance the team-members and their characters well while turning Ms Marvel and the Scarlet Witch around oddly here - why did Wanda leave to just mope around a while on her own and why did Ms Marvel go find her here so urgently when she didn't have anything that earth-shattering to say?
This pregnancy is a development that we all now know will be talked about for decades but we'll take it slow and I'll try to keep it contained as we progress...(?!)


What is interesting is that no-one really know's Ms. Marvel's secret identity yet and she spends the whole issue despite being in civvies AND indeed being in a hospital bed - with her mask on!!
Please, can anyone explain how her 'seventh sense powers' never warned her of the pregnancy..?


Carmine Infantino is a legend in artwork and he deserves incredible praise for most of his career but... sorry... this is obviously a tad late in that career, there's nothing bad here, and he may only have done layouts for all I know and especially with a long line-up of inkers he was maybe never going to produce his best work here but... it does feel a let down after the last few Perez issues.
That said - the debriefing meeting panel is great and the final shot of Ms Marvel is a beauty.


Nice point in offering to upgrade Jocasta into a full Avenger but why no love for the Scott Lang Ant-Man , no-one suggested nominating him did they?


Next Issue "Better Red Than Ronin"


Come Back...

Avengers #198 (08/80)
Writer - David Michelinie Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - George Perez Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – George Perez & Terry Austin
  “Better Red than Ronin!"
First let's address that cover blurb -

"Red RONAN On The Rampage!"
How on earth did that spelling mistake get past any proof-reader/editor?? Annoying that it is the first (and sometimes only) thing that gets said about this cover. Not here though...


Again I love the colouring decisions, the reds and blues of Ronin highlighted with those of the blue for the logo and even the red of the 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes!' and the use of different blues for Jocasta's shine and the furry Beast. The very-light almost-pink for Wonder Man does kind of say 'woops' if he was coloured correctly no-one would notice he was there!


Corner Roll Call is this time backed in the orange colour used for the rear buildings, well done.
That Roll Call is again not completely indicative of the 'active in this issue' rosta, as Ms Marvel barely cameos and YellowJacket who does function as a full member active this issue does not feature. Still no love for Jocasta on that Roll Call but then she still hasn't achieved full-member status yet has she...
Inside and we open with that by-now-familiar trope, (hilariously) drunken-buddies Simon Williams and the Beast at the end of their night out. To prove how (hilariously) drunken they are, they await the rising of the sun... on the West-side (!).

"Uh... Ooo......Shucks."
Simon (hilariously) lists the things they can see from their location which includes..

."A giant red robot-- A Giant Red Robot?!?"
"That's not the booze talking, Wondy! Whatever that thing is, it's for Real!"


Perez gets credit for his art from most quarters, especially for his detail and I would just like to mention here, how he changes his scale to show the perspective of the Red Ronin robot. Throughout this issue, the difference in size is really illustrated well, the Avengers sometimes look smaller in panels than they usually do and once it struck me why - so that we could understand that size difference and still follow the action - I had even more respect for the guy.


As our buddies decide to report their sight to their team they are abducted collected by an Avengers Quinjet and we learn that Jocasta has traced them via the Beast's 'mutant energy' and they were already on Red Ronin's trail.
Note - Jocasta's abilities again helping the team, not Iron Man or the Quinjet systems or anything else that could have been cited here but - Jocasta, kind of deserves being a member dontyoythink?


Inside and the Avengers for this issue are assembled, Iron Man, Wonder Man, (Jocasta) Vision, Beast, Wasp (still in her blue-piping open-leg costume you thought she only wore for the Taskmaster trilogy didn't you?) Yellowjacket and Captain America.


Perfect opportunity as Simon dresses for action to have changed his costume away from that painful safari jacket...alas.... opportunity missed.


So, for new readers who missed the intro last issue, we are reminded that Red Ronin is a huge robot created by SHIELD to battle Godzilla, (Back when Marvel had his license.) that it has been stolen and "under unfriendly control!"
We then return to the man inside the robot, (viewed via the eyes) - Dr Earl Cowan (didn't he create some Milestone comics?) as the Avengers attack.

Failing in their initial efforts, even the Vision's density-changing disruption tactic doesn't work due to a protective proton field.


At 'foot-level' Wonder Man, Beast and Jocasta find an entrance door and Wondy smashes it open... only for a booby trap to knock him out. Beast and Jocasta journey on as Ronin walks off, inside the foot, leaving unconscious Wondy behind thanks - again - to Jocasta disarming that booby trap.


SHIELD's anti-Godzilla aircraft 'Behemoth' arrives and joins the battle.
-Did anyone read the Marvel Godzilla series? I was only slightly aware of it in it's day and for obvious reasons I don't think it's ever been collected/reprinted so I guess we're lucky we can still see modern versions of this story unlike many verbotten Rom cross-overs in similar circumstances.


Nick Fury is commanding Behemoth and he informs the Avengers of the "lunatic named Cowan"
Cap sends in the little-people YellowJacket (functioning more as a full-regular Avenger here than he did in the Taskmaster trilogy) and Wasp with order, "-- Stop Red Ronin!"


Inside and they get Cowan's backstory/rationale explained... he is trying to stop... "the great fear that rules the World!"
If I understand his thinking he believes fear is an almost palpable thing that filtered through history making mankind anxious and violent for different motivations throughout previous decades. Anyway it's all unhinged stuff and he believes if he uses Red Ronin to attack Russia then World War III will occur and mankind will band together, realise the error of their ways and all will be sweetness and unicorns afterwards.
"Replace fear... with Slaughter? Cowan, you need help!"
Cowan 'reverses-the-polarity-of-the-neutron-flow' turns the fans on and blows YJ and Wasp out of his cabin.


As that battle continues we cut to a hospital where we last left Scarlet Witch and Ms. Marvel...
"But I can't be pregnant, I tell you! I just can't be!"
Perhaps even stranger than that, the timing seems somewhat askew... "They showed me to be three month's pregnant last night... and six months pregnant this morning!"
Most importantly of all... "Blast it, Wanda, there isn't a Father!"


At last Ms Marvel decides to reveal her secret identity and remove her mask, "Don't call me Ms. Marvel, call me Carol...... Carol Danvers, it's my name."
Wanda explains that "Avengers charter specifically guarantees anonymity to it's members..." which seems ridiculously formal and somehow these two being bosom-buddies just never quite gels does it?
Carol explains, that, as Carol...she is scared.
Carol thanks Wanda - after a strange piece of foreshadowing when she is promised... "with very special friends, friends who'll stand by you -- -- no matter what."

(When we get to #200, that's a definite point of debate methinks!)


Suburban America is threatened by the lumbering robot - "You know there's no such thing as ---- the ......Boogyman?". we learn Cowan is trying to get to a less populated area so he can firs up Ronin's propulsion boots and take off for Russia - see? He's just a misguided madman not a villain.(?)


Iron Man tries again but gets laser-bladed away and Fury's Behemoth lets rip but with little effect. The Avengers board Behemoth and Cap announces, "Nick, I have a plan --"
Later, the plan begins with a ringing endorsement from Fury... "Cap was right. His plan is suicidal!"
Enraged, Cowan goes so far as to push a button marked 'Destroy" - no really!


Behemoth's electrical power is channelled through Iron Man's armour and sent into Red Ronin kind of short-circuiting everything! It's dramatic if confusing.
(This tactic always reminds me of the first time I remember such an idea - Hawkeye vs Zzzaxx in Incredible Hulk #166 - a classic!)


Ronin falls but then gets back up again... and heads back to town. We soon learn though that Cowan is no longer in control, the last order is being obeyed automatically... remember that 'Destroy' button?


As if that wasn't cliff-hanger enough, the issue doesn't actually end until after an Epilogue... at Cross Tech HQ we catch up with our old mate Hawkeye in his (dull) security job.

An alarm makes him check the building and he suddenly finds himself looking up at... Red Ronin!
"Holeee--"
So, next issue Hawkeye's back..? Will he stay or it going to be just another guest-spot like Ant-Man or Yellow Jacket ? We'll see...


So, great issue again, fantastic art and some more forward movement on characters and team-membership. There does appear to be a fluid changeover going on, it feels like Michelinie has a plan for either constantly changing or soon to be different membership - I don't think he get's to complete this plan though?
Carol's plotline is due for it's explosive climax shortly and there has been much talk and debate regarding it over the years but at this point the mystery is compelling and her reactions very human.
Jocasta again proved her worth (as does Yellowjacket) so we are reminded that she was promised a membership vote as soon as time allows....


Next Issue... "Hawkeye's Comment to be continued Next Issue, in a Titanic Tale entitled ... Last Stand on Long Island!"


Come Back...

Richard Mantle said

First let's address that cover blurb -
"Red RONAN On The Rampage!"
How on earth did that spelling mistake get past any proof-reader/editor?? Annoying that it is the first (and sometimes only) thing that gets said about this cover.

My guess is that the cover’s letterer subconsciously used the spelling of the Kree character Ronan the Accuser. As for editing, this may have been when the writers were their own editors, which didn't work well.

….Jocasta has traced them via the Beast's 'mutant energy' ….

Was ‘mutant energy’ a thing before or after this?

Richard Willis asked:

Was "mutant energy" a thing before or after this?"

Jocasta really tracked down the Beast by his hair tonic. He used a LOT of that stuff!

Seriously though, Jocasta was acting like Cerebro here as she could identify a multitude of different energy signatures. Mutants apparently "read" one way and humans another. Presumably she could do the same with Thor, Vision and Wonder Man. 

And yes, she should have been an legit Avenger but they needed to clearly state what she could do and maybe add some color to her design. 

And she looked too much like the Metal Men's Platinum!

A non-married pregnant super-heroine who says that she hasn't had sex in months? How could that cause a controversy? 

I read some issues of Godzilla but never once thought it was the Toho version. This "King of the Monsters" smashed its way through the MU encountering SHIELD, the Champions, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers which included getting shrunk by Pym Particles! Strangely enough, he avoided both Spider-Man (No Marvel Team Up for you!) and the Hulk!

Did they mention Godzilla by name? When the mutated Marvel Godzilla was shown in Iron Man, he wasn't referenced as Godzilla, only as the creature who Doctor Demonicus fought.

I read issues #197-199 over the weekend. 10 or 12 years ago, I had the idea for a discussion topic I would have titled “The Avengers’ Red-Headed Step-Children,” but I never got around to posting it. It would have dealt with those stories which just simply are read and/or discussed all that often, at least not by me. We’ve already passed some of them (#169, 178-180), but I was too busy at the time to participate, so I still haven’t read them in many, many years. Issues #197-199 also fall into that category, and we’ll get to several more before too long.

“(No sign of Dale Gunn!)”

Hey, I thought the same thing!

“Jocasta tells Jarvis and the Vision her news and Jarvis prepares to call her 'Mistress'”

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but that whole “master”/“mistress” thing is a pet peeve of mine. The correct way for a butler or maid to address his or her employer is, of course, “mister” or “missus” (or “miss” or “ms.”). “Master” and “Mistress” are reserved to address the juvenile children of one’s employers. Afred Pennyworth gets a pass because (in most versions) he has reared Bruce Wayne from boyhood and uses the term as a personal affectation. Unfortunately, most comic book writers take their cue from Alfred that that’s the proper way to address one’s employers. It is not. When Jarvis refers to “Master Cap” or “Master Thor” that’s just plain weird (not to mention disrespectful).

“Please, can anyone explain how her 'seventh sense powers' never warned her of the pregnancy..?

1) Because it happened so suddenly.
2) Because it happened in Limbo.

Take your pick.

“So, for new readers who missed the intro last issue, we are reminded that Red Ronin is a huge robot created by SHIELD to battle Godzilla…”

That must be me. For years I thought “Red Ronin” was a licensed property (like “Rom”), so I never paid him much mind.

“Did anyone read the Marvel Godzilla series?”

Bob has.

“I don't think it's ever been collected/reprinted…”

Yes, there is a black & white “Essential” edition. I bought it and started to read it several times, but never finished it. One of these days…

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but that whole “master”/“mistress” thing is a pet peeve of mine. The correct way for a butler or maid to address his or her employer is, of course, “mister” or “missus” (or “miss” or “ms.”). “Master” and “Mistress” are reserved to address the juvenile children of one’s employers.

I love this kind of attention to detail.  The only thing I would add is, due to the connotation that the word "mistress" has acquired over the past sixty years or so, the use of mistress for juvenile children in the household has been supplanted by miss, but technically, you're spot on, Jeff.

Television---at least, American television---gets it wrong about as much as comic books do.  The only one to get it right which leaps to mind was Family Affair (1966-71, CBS), in which the butler, Mr. French addressed his employer, Bill Davis, as "Mr. Davis", and the children as "Miss Cissy", "Miss Buffy", and "Master Jody".

Avengers #199 (09/80)
Writer - David Michelinie Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - George Perez Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – George Perez & Terry Austin
“Last Stand On Long Island"
Isn't it just sacrilligeous to cover any part of a glorious George Perez cover with a competition banner/advert? It was the trend of the day but it is such a shame.
"The Madness within Red Ronin!" is a nice enough cover by Perez & Austin anyway, with the insiders view of the battle being an interesting angle. (Ronin spelt right this time!)
Notable again for a cover appearance by Jocasta and that cover roll call again showing Ms Marvel where she is not exactly an active Avenger inside is she?


The splash page picks right up from last issue as Hawkeye battles Red Ronin but Hawkeye's speech does NOT begin with "..." which would have been a literal continuation of his comment from the last cliff-hanger which is a shame.


Perez draws a wonderful Hawkeye (I SO miss the costume!) and again shows the difference in scale between hero and robot expertly.


We are reminded that Ronin is working on auto-orders as Cowan inside has lost control. An Avengers Quinjet arrives and sole-occupant Wonder Man aims it at the big guy before bailing out - only for Ronin to lazer cut it to shreds and walk off into the water...
Hawkeye and Wondy compare notes, realising the Avengers as a team are missing until Behemoth arrives and after a concerned exclamation "I, um, think you're going to need bigger arrows, Hawkeye." everyone is reunited.
"...and Hawkeye, I know you're not an active Avenger now, but if you'd care to help out...?"
"Hey, does Jimmy Carter like peanuts?"


The panel of the heroes and Nick Fury meeting up as SHIELD agents work in the hanger below them is a perfect example of Perez's eye for detail and drama.
Hawkeye's arrival doesn't go without comment, "Should we check his I.D. Yellowjacket?"
"No need, I recognise his ego."


We then get a recap of events and Cowan's motivations from Nick Fury and a plan to destroy Ronin is hatched - with Wonder Man worrying that the Beast and Jocasta are still on board, Iron Man explains they will have to be collateral damage, "I'm sorry, but I'm sure Jocasta and the Beast would agree......they knew what they were getting into."
"Sheesh! What the heck have we gotten into?"
I must say I have been really enjoying Michelinie's little comic asides, often such pieces can seen strained and silly but the tone seems to work for these characters really well. Not an easy balancing act.


Jocasta frees the Beast from a tangle of cables (heroic take-charge Jocasta again!) as in the control cockpit Cowan begins to realise Ronin had been left on 'Destroy' setting and the robot is attacked by gunboats.
Elsewhere, on land, a restaurant is having kids entertained by a clown at it's opening and as he blows up a balloon the clown spots Ronin... and runs.


The Avengers catch up and another battle begins. As planned, the team get Ronin to throw his shield allowing Iron man to sneak inside it...
As the Avengers attempt distraction Iron man activates the shield's lazer against Ronin as the robot reaches for it and with Vision and Wonder Man holding and directing the shield the lazer is used to literally cut Ronin's legs out from under him.


Galactus Red Ronin falls.


In the cockpit Jocasta and Cowan race to find a way to regain control as the Beast... thinks.
The remaining torso of Ronin begins to reach for the road bridge threatening hundreds... "

At which point:"
"plik"
"Hey! The robot's stopping! He's gone Dead!"
The Beast.... unplugged Ronin.
"Any applause will be accepted with due humility."
It is a wonderful change of pace and probably the Beast's last-best moment as an Avenger?


Later, Behemoth carts away the pieces of Ronin and we are told Cowan will get mental help. Cap asks Hawkeye if he's mind returning to Avengers mansion to help with debrief,

"'Mind'? Just drop me by CTE to check out for the day. Or maybe for the week!"
- Does this signal Hawkeye's return to the team? Since the exit of Gyrich Michelinie has allowed the team to be somewhat vague with it's active rosta so we'll see, of course we're getting the #200th issue next so we kind of expected a few extra characters around didn't we?


So, we enter our epilogue/prologue to #200 as the team returns to the Mansion
"Hey, just a minute! Who's that?"
"-- one very pregnant woman! Mind telling us who you are miss?"
Really?

They don't recognise her without her little domino mask..? That's a big Clark Kent / Superman suspension of disbelief isn't it??


Thankfully Wanda explains who Carol is and explains she called in Dr Donald Blake (building those guest stars) as... "Carol has a slight problem. She's approximately seven months pregnant."
The fact that this seven-month gestation has taken only a few days is discussed - justifying Blake's presence- but...
Now, I'm very aware of the controversy to come but I'm going to present this thread as I always have, as if we are reading this for the first time not-knowing where we're being taken...let's see how that works...
...no-one worries much over the impossibilities or dangers of this statement - rather everyone goes goo-goo... "Gosh, A real baby!"
"Hey, if the kid needs a teddy bear, I'm available."

Indeed, no-one expresses much concern and to be honest I'm already looking for a Moondragon/Purple Man type influence from the shadows to explain this... with no result.


The Vision attempts to reconnect with his wife who, you will remember, went off on her own to 'discover herself' again recently, she doesn't exactly put his fears to rest though, as her "We'll talk later, darling." strikes me as still somewhat cold and distant.


The Wasp reports later that she thinks the Vision and Scarlet Witch will be fine from here on and then as night draws in expresses the first real concerns for Carol, "Not only is Carol's condition unnatural and unnerving, but she insists that there's No Father!"
Suddenly Dr Blake bursts in in a panic! "Ms Marvel's gone into labour-- and it's not like any kind of labour I've ever seen! I don't know if I can handle it! Frankly-- -- I don't know if anything Human can!"
It's a powerful cliff-hanger leaving us all gasping for the next issue...!


Next "A Special Double-Sized 200th Anniversary Issue! Featuring the Senses-Shatterin' Conclusion!"
(Sorry Jeff - they said 'Anniversary'!)


So, a well rounded issue, nice action, great teamwork, character interactions with light humour and expert pacing. Perez artwork at it's best, there is so much to love about this issue that 'the-one-before-#200' doesn't cover.
So good to see Hawkeye back functioning with the team, also, this has been a good period for Yellowjacket with the group and of course we're all expecting great thing coming for Jocasta...


So, next one is the big one... has it all been said before by now? Do we all expect a train-wreck...is it worthy of the label...?


Come Back...

"Now, I'm very aware of the controversy to come but I'm going to present this thread as I always have, as if we are reading this for the first time not-knowing where we're being taken...let's see how that works..."

Fine with me. I have nothing to add concerning the resolution of the Red Ronin story that I haven't already said.

I much enjoyed MIchelinie's run on Iron Man, but for the most part his writing on the Avengers seemed seriously off to me.  Admittedly, I can't really remember my thoughts on this mag from when I read it about 39 years ago when I about to turn 18 and graduate from high school, but I do recall that even with the great George Perez art, the Avengers was becoming ever less a "must read" for me the way it had been a few years earlier under Englehart and most of Shooter's initial run.  On the other hand, X-Men and Daredevil from this period were much more stellar fare, so it wasn't just a matter of me outgrowing the material although I was gradually becoming ever more critical in my evaluation of the stories I was purchasing for my "Still" only two quarters per issue. Also, in revisiting this issue after all this time, it's hard to shake the dread of knowing the dreadfully terrible mis-characterizations coming up in the not-quite-so grand 200th issue.

Richard Mantle said:

Avengers #197 (07/80)
Writer - David Michelinie Editor - Jim Salicrup
Penciller - Carmine Infantino

Inker - 'Jack's little helpers' (Jack Abel was ill) Bob Breeding, Al Milgrom & Vince Colletta
Cover Art – George Perez & Bob McLeod
  “Prelude of the War Devil"
I love some things about this cover - The Roll Call of course and also the Jarvis figure on the masthead - reminiscent of the Vision that stood guard for so long - but the rest of the cover is too jumbled for me and so makes this the most unmemorable cover for some time.
"The Untold Story!" "What really goes on at Avengers Mansion!" "Avengers After Hours!" "The Elevator Incident! "Ms Marvel's Shocking Surprise!" "It's All Just Part of the Prelude of the War Devil!"
Sounds very much like an 'Interlude"-type issue bookending doesn't it? Let's see...


We open with a panoramic view of Avengers Mansion on the splash page, which looks great but not necessarily accurate to the Mansion we've been seeing recently. We are reminded that although the Taskmaster escaped last issue our heroes did defeat him and so calm has settled over the Mansion.
However, the team, along with allies Ant-Man and Yellowjacket from last issue who haven't left yet...are stuck in a faulty lift - except for Ms Marvel who we are told has left for some business of her own.
To make some room in the confined space, the Vision phases out which still has an effect on the Beast "-- it still gives me the creeps!". - sorry, but this is sledgehammer writing, in order to remind us that the Vision is 'not-human' and the Beast would be the last person to be weirded out by anyone wouldn't he? This MAY have worked if it was a comment from Ant-Man who has not known the Vision for as long but as is it jars me out of the story.


The Wasp, YJ and Ant-Man shrink down to make space but Wonder Man has a much better idea , "couldn't we just smash our way out?" - he does add that "Spending all those years in a coffin makes me kind of edgy about enclosed spaces."
I am not sure that this is supposed to be taken too seriously, we've never had any suggestion that Simon was conscious of his surroundings while in his death-like-state have we?


Iron Man sorts the lift issue and Jarvis greets the team with medication and messages, someone wants an interview with Cap and someone else is setting up a date with Wonder Man via the Beast. It's all very suburban and sedate even for Jarvis who worries that the coffee percolator is broken,

"Will they ever forgive me?"
This is so like the first half of #194. Is this a new writing formula? Half an issue of routine behind-the-scenes then a build up to a two issue story?


We cut to the Detroit branch of Stark International (no sign of Dale Gunn !) where we meet a restored massive robot (Transformer? Sentinel? Lego?) from a storyline in the at-the-time licenced to Marvel 'Godzilla'- Red Ronin! One of the men viewing the huge robot, knocks the other one out...


Back at Avengers Mansion Iron Man and Jocasta interrupt Captain America's workout for, after her performance with the team last issue, a momentous event in Jocasta's life, "I was wondering in light of the help that 'Casta has given us lately, what you might think of assigning her to full Avenger status."
"Me? A... An Avenger?"
"I think it's an excellent idea, Iron Man. In fact I'll bring it up at the next regular business meeting."
Jocasta is overjoyed at this news, and Cap is reminded of her abilities as she easily lifts the machinery he'd been struggling with for his workout.
So, Jocasta is promised a membership in the Avengers! Well actually, good for her, she still needs some characterisation and storylines but has been hanging around with the team long enough to be taken seriously and now that the six-member limit has been relaxed she deserves the upgrade.


So... how long to "the next regular business meeting" and how come....

** SPOILER ALERT**

-- we never get there??


Jocasta tells Jarvis and the Vision her news and Jarvis prepares to call her 'Mistress' while the Vision congratulates her but still wistfully gazes out the window mooning over his missing wife...


With Wanda in mind, we cut to see her in civvies at a beachside property where we learn she is no longer as alone as she wanted to be - Ms Marvel arrives.
She references her 'seventh sense powers' - whatever happened to them? and she explains that she is there as, "I believe I understand what you're going through-- and I thought you might want some advice from a sister Avenger."
This is already a weird exchange, we are supposed to accept that she set off for this meeting straight from the Solomon Institute last issue, to give some advice to Wanda? And what advice is she so much of an expert on that she can give it..? - to talk Wanda OUT of having children..??
"You're a vital person Wanda, one that half the women in the world would probably kill to be. Surely you find that more 'fulfilling' than any silly stereotype of having a baby?"
Ms Mavel has been getting a few characterisation scenes recently and they've been great but this hard-nosed attitude seems out-of-left-field and feels set up purely because of her coming plotline...


Wanda expresses her position and decision clearly, stating that, for now, children are not her priority, (no explanation why she couldn't discuss the choices with her husband however)

"In fact, I was just about to return to New York when you arrived."
"That's terrific Wanda." (Although it does probably mean we'll have to change the cover-corner Roll-Call next issue!)
With that point made clear we are launched into Ms Marvel's plotline proper...she suddenly feels strangely sick, dizzy and faints!
What can possibly be happening..?


Back at the Mansion Iron Man and Cap talk before the meeting (that's the 'debriefing' meeting - not the 'regular business meeting' -okay?)
Iron Man announces "I've decided that it might be best if I stepped down as Chairman of the Avengers permanently." which surprises Cap - although hasn't he been functioning as Chairman since Gyrich left?
Cap agrees to "schedule an election meeting as soon as possible. Blast it"
(that's an 'election' meeting - not the 'regular business meeting', or a 'debriefing meeting' -okay?)


So, an hour later and the 'debriefing' meeting is in full swing - this explains why Ant-Man and Yellowjacket are still present as it's all about their recent adventure.
Afterwards The Beast and Wonder Man plan a blind date and Ant-Man leaves while the Wasp convinces Yellowjacket not to rush back to his lab...


At their date later that evening Wonder Man finds his date has a child who recognises 'Mr Muscles' none of which is his idea of a perfect match.
Iron Man informs the Vision that Wanda is coming back - but has been diverted to hospital as Ms Marvel is ill - the Vision is...unmoved.


Back at the Detroit robot base, the visiting Dr. Cowan has taken control of Red Ronin and from the inside/cockpit/control centre he blasts the huge robot into the sky, apparently intent on "--World War III!"


The last page is an epilogue at the hospital where Wanda receives an update on Ms Marvel's "condition...?"
Ms Marvel is... "-- Three Months Pregnant!"
It's a bombshell!


Micheline continues to balance the team-members and their characters well while turning Ms Marvel and the Scarlet Witch around oddly here - why did Wanda leave to just mope around a while on her own and why did Ms Marvel go find her here so urgently when she didn't have anything that earth-shattering to say?
This pregnancy is a development that we all now know will be talked about for decades but we'll take it slow and I'll try to keep it contained as we progress...(?!)


What is interesting is that no-one really know's Ms. Marvel's secret identity yet and she spends the whole issue despite being in civvies AND indeed being in a hospital bed - with her mask on!!
Please, can anyone explain how her 'seventh sense powers' never warned her of the pregnancy..?


Carmine Infantino is a legend in artwork and he deserves incredible praise for most of his career but... sorry... this is obviously a tad late in that career, there's nothing bad here, and he may only have done layouts for all I know and especially with a long line-up of inkers he was maybe never going to produce his best work here but... it does feel a let down after the last few Perez issues.
That said - the debriefing meeting panel is great and the final shot of Ms Marvel is a beauty.


Nice point in offering to upgrade Jocasta into a full Avenger but why no love for the Scott Lang Ant-Man , no-one suggested nominating him did they?


Next Issue "Better Red Than Ronin"


Come Back...

Avengers #200 (010/80)
Writer - David Michelinie - Plot - Jim Shooter & Bob Layton & George Perez
Editor - Jim Salicrup
Breakdowns - George Perez Finishes -&-Inker - Dan Green
Cover Art – George Perez & Terry Austin
   “The Child is Father To...?"
Again - such a shame that an Avengers cover gets infringed by a competition banner. If only Marvel had done their own version of DC's 'Anniversary' masthead.


The cover is George Perez and some wonderful character shots of the team but it does feel like a collage/pastishe as the individual heroes do not lo0ok like they're next to each other and while the '200' is fine, this feels like a poster not a cover.
Wonderful to see Hawkeye back and another cover appearance for Jocasta.


The Cover Roll Call is again the same as the last few with Ms Marvel notably present and Scarlet Witch noticeably not.


The splash page is a better composition including plot, with Jocasta and Dr Blake in a medical room backstage we see Wonder Man and Beast pacing in opposite directions as Cap, Iron Man and Hawkeye wait on for news of the labour we were warned of last issue.


Scarlet Witch and Vision join and everyone is reminded that we are waiting for the product of a three-day long pregnancy for Ms. Marvel and that "...Carol insists not only that she doesn't know who the father is but that there couldn't even be a father!"
Inside the labour room Carol is feeling no pain, "Hurry, I-I just want this to be over."


Back outside and with the arrival of Wasp (in a new costume), Yellowjacket and Jarvis - the gang's all here.
Carol doesn't push but the baby arrives - it's all very graphic for a comic book in 1980-

"...It's A Boy!"
"Awriight!"
"How wonderful!"
They're not getting it are they?

This is a disturbing event not a necessarily joyous one... the happy-clappy reactions feel ... off.

I again check myself looking for 'mental suggestion' clues..?
As most of the Avengers go goo-goo at the baby, Captain America (at least) sounds caution, "I want you to check him out thoroughly. Obviously, there's something about that child that just isn't ... natural."
The Scarlet Witch waxes lyrical over the joy of childbirth - presumably this is the event that convinces her to strive for children of her own..?
Wasp races off to congratulate Carol who Wonder Man is returning to her room and at last Carol starts to voice the situation, "I've been used! That isn't my baby! I don't even know who the father is! So if you want to help me, please... ,,, just leave me alone."
This line is extremely important IMHO regarding the controversial 'rape' debate.


Carol seems to certainly be distancing herself from the child, bemoaning that her body has been used as a womb/incubator without her consent - which is clearly a devestating violation but - the 'act of rape' that particular violation is not something she appears to be complaining about or claiming occurred.
I'm not sure if that is a distinct enough distinction - but I think I believe it is - Carol's body has been used without consent but has she been spared the experience of a physical rape to set up that use?

(Wasn't there a STTNG Episode where something similar occurred with Deana Troi?)

We will come back to this.
Scarlet Witch and Vision wander the Mansion's gardens and seem to rule out having children.(?) Jocasta watches and Wasp discussed the mysteries of human emotions.
Hawkeye and Beast play pool, Hawkeye is skillful but Beast uses science to match him, "Well, I'll be! I've been sharked!"
All of these little scenes are nice but they feel a little stretched, - as if we're getting an extra-length-special with little extra plot..?
Next event is that... "In the last hour, the infant has grown to the size and maturity of a child two years old!" (faster growth than Franklin Richards then...) ... and as we first see the dark-curly-haired child... he speaks, "Ch... change."


The scene changes to Underground station where a mr.average, like we've been seeing for comedy-relief scenes in recent issues, walks out into... an out-of-time Wall Street! A mystery?


Wonder Man calls on Ms. Marvel and to his surprise finds her, up and even in costume!!
The scene is so reminiscent of her first scene in that costume as drawn by Dave Cockrum in her own book.
Wonder Man offers to accompany Carol to visit her son which she refuses to have anything to do with... but Simon encourages her to face events.


The Beast tries to entertain the child who has grown notably again and is speaking with incredible intellectual ability.
We learn the boy is requesting certain materials...and..."by the way, my name isn't 'boy' - it's Marcus."
Strangest conversation for a while belongs to Captain America and Marcus,
"For starters, where did you come from?"
"My mother."
"Yes, we know that, but... that is, how were you concieved?"
"Uhhhm... by my father?"
"Well, of course, blast it! but who is your father?"
"I am."


Another scene change to Ms.Average who suddenly spies at her suburban home...dinosaurs!
Back at the Mansion Wonder Man discusses the mystery of women with Yellowjacket who says he doesn't have any answers.
"I love Jan, and I accept her for what she is," - that'll come back to bite him eh?


As Marcus continues to grow, the Avengers begin to worry, "No Hawkeye, I don't think it would be prudent to put Marcus in a cage. at least, not yet."
"Okay Cap, but don't say I didn't warn you."
Calls begin to filter into the Mansion of wierd events outside, initially labelled as 'prank calls'
Jocasta helps the Vision investigate Marcus until Scarlet Witch arrives and neither seem to notice Jocasta leaving... (A turning point/ending for Jocasta?)


Ms Marvel actually apologises to the Wasp for snapping at her earlier and they enter to visit Marcus, who is now an adult and inexplicably... Carol is attracted to him!

"Hello... Mother."
Marcus promises to explain everything after he has finished the unknown machine he is building... and explosions rock the Mansion.


We get a full page shot of a dinosaur attacking the Mansion with various ships attacking the dinosaur. ( I get the feeling Perez wanted to draw this kind of scene and while it's good, he's done much better full-page spreads and Gil Kane drew dinosaurs much better didn't he?
As some Avengers race outside to help, the Scarlet Witch battles a Knight in armour on horseback expecting a joust and lots of other time-tossed adversaries storm the building. Doctor Don Blake is hidden in a cupboard allowing his transformation into Thor and finally the cover membership is complete.
Thor whips up a twister to take away the big beasts outside as Jarvis battles a Muskateer inside - gets a great punch in too - Yay Jarv!


As the other Avengers take on their adversaries Ms Marvel confronts Marcus - it's his machine that's causing the time anomolies as a side effect of it's purpose. I can't explain what it's purpose was...?


Hawkeye plays hero and destroys the machine when Marcus overpowers Carol.
Marcus explains he knew his machine may have been dangerous to humans and was intending on taking Ms Marvel away somewhere safe. (why not just go anyway?)
Thor and Iron Man arrive and Thor finally makes the connection between Marcus and …"...Immortus!"


We then get launched into a long backstory of Marcus. Immortus ruled Limbo, got bored, went looking for a lady-friend and found one that should have died in a ship-sinking on Earth (the Titanic?)
Immortus took her to Limbo where, "through a combination of gratitude and the subtle manipulations of (my father's) ingenious machines, the woman fell in love with him."
In a pocket of real-time in limbo - Marcus was conceived/born.
Immortus raised Marcus and the woman eventually was pulled back to her true space-time/death. Late, Immortus himself disappeared (as a result of Avengers #143) leaving Marcus a lonely orphan.
Marcus, we are told, could

not visit Earth as a product of Limbo he'd cause chaos so he pulled Ms Marvel to him, out of the Quinjet in Avengers #197.
Not wanting to use 'devices' he set about woo-ing her with help from experts in the art from many times but... and this is THE CRUX - "and admittedly, with a subtle boost from Immortus' machines" they had sex with Carol's pregnancy being the result.
Is this 'rape'? It certainly is not 'informed consent' - what I don't understand is if the writers (that's a long list - who was responsible for which I don't know) intention was to make this an act of 'love' albeit at a whirlwind pace then why oh why add this 'subtle boost' line but also - if the idea was to impress this actually was an abuse of the worst kind - in a comicbook without naming the offence for fear of the comics code why not make it more obvious that Carol is not consentual here or in the pages that follows


Was this an attempt at 'Simpsons' writing - on one level, younger readers are seeing a love-story, on another, more adults are seeing a morally ambigeous tale?


Carol was returned instantly to the Quinjet and events led to where we are now. Marcus explains his machine was intended to stabalise the effect of being on the Earth but it's destruction has ruined the chance. Again the time-quake results seem very much window-dressing only.


Marcus decides to leave alone only for Carol to explain, although she is unsure what she felt in limbo or for her child... "I think that just might be a relationship worth giving a chance." - and wants to leave with him.


In fairness she is asked is she is making an informed decision she is happy with here, Iron Man asks, "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" and she answers, "Not entirely, Iron Man" but she insists she will go.


I have difficulty accepting Carol's later anger at the Avengers after this discussion - was she rrally let down by the team here?
Thor transports Marcus and Ms Marvel away to Limbo.
The Avengers opponents all disappear as normal space-time is resumed.
Hawkeye laments destroying Marcus's machine and Iron Man closes the issue with his suggestion... "We've just got to believe that everything worked out for the best." leaving Hawkeye and we the readers looking at Ms Marvel's discarded mask..."Yeah, I guess you're right. That's all we can do. Believe...... and hope that Ms Marvel lives happily ever after."


This honestly seems to be intended as an uplifting ending.
As an 'end' for Ms Marvel who had already lost her own book this was a painfully short epilogue for her and I was just getting used to her in the Avengers - she could have been one of the greats - she never really got to excell as her time was too short.


So, impressive art as always with Perez but there is no real awesome or particularly memorable pages or panels is there?
The story feels padded but the Marcus info-dump feels drastically complicated and foreshortened - the pacing is awful.


I know there has been much debate about this issue since the publication of Avengers Annual #10 ( which we will obviously discuss later) but maybe this book gets a worse press than it deserves...? YMMV.


Next Issue "The clean-up... and the return of an old and adament villain. Don't miss chapter one of... This Evil Undying!"

Do I need to invite comment..?


Come back...

The initial career of Ms. Marvel lasted a mere four years from 1977 to 1980 and it always seemed odd that Marvel just wrote her out of the series and the entire line! Was she that threatening a figure to male writers? Had they no idea what to do with her? Did they rather just use the Wasp and Scarlet Witch? Why couldn't she stay in the Avengers?

And yes, some of the Avengers got swept away in "Baby-Mania" whether this was Marcus' plan or just thought of as a "woman thing" with the Beast as comic relief is still unknown,

But Cap, Iron Man and Hawkeye knew something was wrong. They said so to Ms. Marvel but she decided to go with Marcus anyway. Wonder Man should have punched the creepy bastard in the face and tossed him back to Limbo alone!

But seriously, the Avengers were stuck between a rock and a hard place: Do they stop Ms. Marvel from going thus insinuating that she doesn't know what she's doing and that they (the men) know what's best for her or let her go by her own choice despite possibly being under Marcus' control? 

If any Avenger is to blame, it's Thor! He knows how "gods" treat mortal women and he never trusted Immortus in the first place! He should have told Carol to wait if she still felt the same later and sent Marcus to Limbo alone. He could have always brought Carol there later.

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