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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The title is based on the Zane Gray western novel Riders of the Purple Sage. It was filmed five times and is considered very important to the development of western literature.

AVENGERS #176 (10/78)
Writer – Jim Shooter (plot) & David Michelinie (script)
Penciller - Dave Wenzel                     Inker – Pablo Marcos
Cover Art – John Romita Jr & Terry Austin 
 

   “The Destiny Hunt!"


Thematically similar to last issue's cover - I much prefer the last one - there is a drama and menace from the bad-guy figure there that is almost cartoon/childish in the this one.ext one.

JR Jr chanelling Perez - Wonder Man getting a cover appearance is always welcome - as is Ms Marvel here - but Wondy's left hand is huge and distracting.


The story picks straight up from last issue - Starhawk answering Iron Man's summons and the Avenger explaining the dire situation/story so far.


Elswehere in the Mansion and Moondragon stirs from her meditation, overhears Quicksilver raving to Hawkeye his bigotry over his sister and an android and she intervenes...

"Stay out of this woman!"
"No! Not when such filth can be so easily...clensed!"
It's a seminal moment and should have signalled a turning point for the unpopular Quicksiler - and maybe even equally-unpopular Moondragon herself -- but later writers seemed to make him even more of a bigot and her even more manipulative. A real shame this plot point was ignored...

"It was more like...insight!"


Moondragon tries to explain information she has picked up but the Avengers teammates are in disarrary, fighting and arguing and suffering from there being too many and no action.
Chairperson Iron man eventually calls them all to order and together to compare notes on their searching for 'the Enemy'.


Remarkably - Starhawk's superior abilities have produced no leads at all.
We are reminded, via a flashback/update scene with Michael & Carina that Starhawk was destroyed and then remade with an inability to sense Michael/the Enemy but otherwise unchanged.


Eventually and with some sense of irony the Avengers identify the location of their foe...in..."Forest Hills Gardens?!"
Armed with that info and racing towards a final confrontation ...the Avengers.....fill their Quinjets and speed off  um...catch a bus.
It's a fantastic pace pausing humourous scene that ranks amongst one of my favourite moments in comics. The biggest shame is that a more dynamic artist did not draw this scene - can you imagine Perez or Byrne or even John Buscema or Gil Kane drawing that?


The ridiculous juxtaposition continues as the amassed heroes....knock on the suburban door of their mortal enemy.
"Uh, may we come in?"


Seemingly a normal resident, Michael allows the Avengers to search and find nothing unusual...until the Starhawk ploy comes back to haunt him....Starhawk is beside himself - unable to sense Michael at all - he is enraged that, to him, the Avengers have been dealing politely with someone he cannot tell exists!
"There's No-Body There!"


Quickly, the Avengers realise the only person who could hide from Starhawk in such a way must be their quarry ...and the fight is on.
"This...Mortal is our Ultimate Adversary?"
"I've a feeling, Thor, that he passed "Mortal" some time ago!"


Our heroes are somewhat stumped as to what to do but Michael powers himself up and annoyed that they have exposed his hiding place he threatens the team -- "You Shall PAY!".......
...We're promised an 'Ending' next issue..!


So a set up really for the big battle next issue and while not a bad issue it is definatly a mid-epic-chapter rather than much of a stand alone issue.
The Starhawk twist is a good one, original and well set up at that point - I was and still am impressed.

As a continued storyline though, we need this ending soon.


Ciome back...

“As a continued storyline though, we need this ending soon.”


You’re not wrong.


I read #174 and #175 at the same time back in December when you posted about #174. By the time you posted #175 I had forgotten whatever it was I wanted to say about it (and I’m not reading it again!). I said at the beginning this isn’t one of my favorite stories. Reading it in a single sitting is one thing, but it just cannot maintain my interest over several weeks.

Richard Mantle said:

JR Jr chanelling Perez - Wonder Man getting a cover appearance is always welcome - as is Ms Marvel here - but Wondy's left hand is huge and distracting.


Iron Man’s hand and Thor’s hammer are also fairly large. I think he was trying for a 3-D effect.

Looks like it. Wasn't this around the time a new 3D action movie came out that didn't do too well?

AVENGERS #177 (11/78)
Writer – Jim Shooter
Penciller - Dave Wenzel                     Inker – Pablo Marcos & Ricardo Villamonte
Cover Art – Dave Cockrum Jr & Terry Austin 
 

   “The Hope... and the Slaughter!"

A different style of cover here, the Avengers lie injured or dying and that's Dr Blake striving desperatly to save..."...These who lay Dying!" - it's quite powerful and credit to Dave Cockrum, there's some good figure work here. Ms Marvel again gets a cover appearance even though not yet a full member and it's always nice, if unusual, to see Yellowjacket on the cover.


Inside and the splash page tries it's utmost to be powerful and iconic - strange 'story-so-far' lettering as if reading some Asgardian edict doesn't quite fit with the sci-fi themes of the cosmic Michael vs the all-too-human Avengers.
What I do love about this splash is that all the players are there and the suburban setting (sofas etc) is clearly part of the story.


The angry Michael explains to our heroes how although he had masked his presence from the more cosmically-aware of Marvel's universe-minding characters, the Avengers' discovery of him has opened him up to notice from the Watcher, Heimdall, Eternity and so on.


Michael explains that now he is revealed, everyone will band against him and he predicts chaos - so will destroy the Avengers to delay that happening.
(Dangerous thing predicting the future....can anyone say Civil War II?)


Mindful of the need for as much help as they can get ('mindful' - see what I did there..?) Moondragon summons the Guardians of the Galaxy.
As an example of his power - Michael destroys the Guardian's space base 'Drydock' and Vance Astro dies on board!
(Never really understood how this links/crosses over with MsMarvel #20 (I think) where she meets Vance on the ship - presumably it's after this story - but as it's before the destruction I can't see how it can be - and she wears her new costume in that so it cannot predate this Avengers issue can it?? - that's all from memory as I can't access my MsM books - so I may have something wrong. Anyone?)


The fight gets dramatic and violent - more violent than any actual-continuity Marvel book has before. (?) (I know What-If's end up in multiple deaths but this is 'real')
Guardian Nikki is appalled at the death of Vance, "No! Not My Vance! No-o-o!" - which kind of implied a romance I don't think actually was voiced in the Guardians book itself.

She attacks Michael ....and he kills her!
Quicksilver dies next. (honestly - yes! Dies!)
As powerful Avengers attack Iron Man realised the observer Carina may be the weak link and orders an attack on her, "Panther! Get the GIRL!"
Bless him, he hesitates, "The girl? But I ... But... it would not be honourable!"


Yellowjacket takes over as even Michael realises that Carina's heart is not in the fight. Michael kills Yellowjacket and then kills our heroes off one by one.


He seems to use up some of his power and Captain America takes advantage of his more human state, "Hear that, Mike? This is no god hitting you... No Super-Man! Just A MAN!" - gotta love Cap eh?

Despite his courage Cap is killed leaving Wonder Man to Avenge the Avengers and he tries valiantly - bouyed by a belief this may have been the purpose behind his resurrection, "This is IT! This is My Moment! The whole damn Universe is depending on me-- and I'm not gonna Blow it!" (By now, he seemed to say this every battle - which kind of diminishes the effect of this declaration from Wondy.)
However, Wonder Man is killed.


Those heroes left, Thor, Iron Man Starhawk and the Vision, combine their assault, while they have limited effect - Carina turns her own cosmic power against her 'love' and although conflicted...                            "...in that moment ENDS the life of her beloved."
"He abandoned life... as if he suddenly had lost his reason to live!"
Carina has a hissy-fit and seemingly kills everyone else - except Thor and Moondragon. Thor strikes back and Carina herself dies beside her lover, again, effectivly willing herself to death.


Moondragon tries to explain to Thor that Michael was kind of a victim of circumstance and was to be pitied but Thor (rightly?) points out..."Did he not slay us callously?"


It is then as we get a full page shot of all the defeated/dead heroes that we learn with his dying breath Michael saved the good guys!
"Even those who had passed Beyond what mortals believe to be Death!"
"Then ... the Avengers LIVE!?"
"Some just barely! A Doctor is needed!"
And so we fade out the issue with Thor changed to Dr Blake as per the cover - and beginning to treat the injured - but alive - Avengers as Moondragon removes his -- and everyone else's memories of the slaughter - as perhaps killing Michael was not the best/right thing to do...
"You and the others will believe that the Avengers have again earned a great triumph-- but I will remember... Forever!"
This is a tender, literally tearful moment for Moondragon seldom seen for her.


It's a soft fadeout of the issue -- and the entire Epic.
As a battle this is a powerful issue - but so many deaths on top of deaths feels surreal and so some of the drama does not come across, the run-of-the-mill, uninspired art doesn't help this issue rise above the mediocre either.


The biggest surprise of the book is probably the 'Next Issue' blurb announcing the 'return' of the Beast - as we suddenly realise he has been 'missing' since Avengers #172! (Who noticed?)
(He was actually off with his X-Men buddies circa X-Men #111-114 etc and I do think it's cool that he was not allowed to be in two places/books at the same time.)


1991 Korvac Saga Epilogue.
Writer – Mark Gruenwald   Art - Tom Morgan 
 This four page extra for the above collection fits into continuity here and so here goes details...
We get a titleless splash page with the Assembled Avengers and Guardians collected around graves of Michael and Carina Korvac.
Several of our heroes are bandaged and Ms Marvel and the Wasp are in the same costumes as #177...Moondragon is absent.


The team discuss what had occurred and how right or honourable - or not - Michael may have been.
It's wrapped up by Cap, "Yet, all life is precious and we're each diminished by the loss. I want a moment of silence for our departed foe ... perhaps the most powerful -- and complex we've ever faced"


The heroes walk away ...and Moondragon approaches the graves, "The Avengers cannot believe your way was right. But I do. And I will live with the tragedy of what might have been -- of what should have been...forever."
The last page is a representation of Michael and Carina meeting Death and Lords Chaos and Order. It's all very symbolic.
Does this epilogue add anything? - Not really.


What it does do is show how beautiful the last few episodes of this epic could have been if drawn by...almost anyone else!  - Tom Morgan's Avengers are good.


So, The Korvac Saga is over - maybe not quite the classic it's remembered as, perhaps a little too long and choppy in it's pacing but massively important to the Avengers series itself.


Some smaller scale stuff may be needed now....


Come Back...

 
 

I remember this issue blowing my tiny little mind when I read it at the time.  This was the first "Heroes get mown down like chickens" story I had seen by that point.

Michael clearly doesn't know what to do with his power. What exactly was his goal? Since guys like Eternity and the Watcher have noticed him, how will killing the Avengers help him? If he has the power to fight those guys then why waste it fighting mortals instead of saving his power for bigger battles to come? And if he doesn't have that kind of power, then killing Thor would be stupid because then Odin would be after him.

I'd say after this Moondragon should be watched carefully, but we already knew she wasn't a nice person.

Perhaps Shooter also felt it wasn't the classic some said it was, since he'll later try to improve on it with the Beyonder.

They did a What-if follow up on this issue that showed Micheal wasn't the good guy Moondragon thought he was.

Richard Mantle said:

A different style of cover here, the Avengers lie injured or dying and that's Dr Blake striving desperatly to save..."...These who lay Dying!" - it's quite powerful and credit to Dave Cockrum, there's some good figure work here. Ms Marvel again gets a cover appearance even though not yet a full member and it's always nice, if unusual, to see Yellowjacket on the cover.

Is it me or does the frail, lame Dr. Blake look too muscular here?

Never bought the whole "Avengers-Were-Wrong" premise versus Michael. He was ruthless and merciless. He had no true compassion and Carina was more of a possession than a partner. If he felt that she wasn't with him 100%, he would have eliminated her as well.

I think that Moondragon wanted to believe Korvac's "good" intentions as a mortal man ascending into godhood much as she believed herself to be. Unless she was affected by Korvac's power.

But as Michael manipulated Carina and the Avengers, so did Moondragon manipulated them. To "protect" these lesser beings as was her right as a "goddess". She began her path to corruption by picking up Korvac's banner of "Might is Right"!

 I totally agree Philip - Moondragon saw a lot of her own motivations in Michale and I think that goes a long way to how she tries to justify his position.

And - I'm with you Richard - Don Blake is way to muscular - I had been looking at the cover and nearly added a comment about Don Blake, Steve Rogers, Hank Pym and Clint Barton being depicted as the same looking but you're quite right - the main reason this figure made me think of the others was that Blake really, generally is NOT shown quite so buffed as the other three or as he is here. It is clearly why this cover just doesn't feel 'right' even though I like it.

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