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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AVENGERS  #126 (08/74)

Writer – Steve Englehart

Art – Bob Brown & Dave Cockrum

Cover Art – Ron Wilson & Mike Esposito  

 “All The Sounds and Sights of Death!”

That’s a good powerful cover, representing the story quite well although it only features Klaw and no Solarr with (again) no sign of Swordsman or even mantis on this occasion.

Coloured a bit dark though don't you think?

I do remember this issue as being quite a powerful and self-contained story with beautiful art…and I remember it right…

We open with a novel splash page of both the villains looming over the Avengers HQ and a quaint editorial caption…

“”Now maybe you’re saying ‘a-ha! This must be one of those symbolic splash pages! Klaw and Solarr couldn’t tower over Avengers mansion like this!’ – Well, that’s what the Mighty Avengers would say too – but both they and you would only be half right.”

One question before we go… why does Solarr have two ‘R’s?

The story proper opens with the Swordsman demonstrating his return to full fitness and showing off in practice before a fairly non-plussed Mantis who we are reminded has begun to turn her attention from Swordy to the Vision.

It’s a silent page for the heroes but speaks volumes in the silence.

The flip side is another silent page as we see the Scarlet Witch effectively mooning over the Vision and perhaps the likelihood of losing him to the lure of Mantis but determined to fight for him.

A really good two page ‘recap’ with no word balloons from our characters. Memorable.

Elsewhere in the mansion we are at full crisis point for Captain America – again where Avengers Forever picked his character out the timestream and before his momentous decision of Cap #176.

Thor and Iron man are trying to get Cap to snap out of his m0oping after his ‘Secret Empire’ debacle.

Also elsewhere and moping is the Black Panther who again, after the Man-Ape attack in his own adventures in Jungle Action and the Lion God in these pages, is weighing up whether to return to his African land or remain an Avenger.

I like the Panther but for so long no writers seemed to leave him in the team longer than a few issues without this question coming up.

He does remind himself and we the readers that when the team battled the ‘troglodytes’ of England in #115 he was the hero of the hour.

This is supposed to convince the reader he feels he is needed and so should stay…but considering the trogs were one of the lamest threats the Avengers have ever faced – I’m not convinced!

The Panther suddenly recognising a visitor in suit and hat at the mansion’s front door and in a link back to FF#119

(Go look it up- I’ll wait…) confronts the bigoted ambassador of the bigoted country of Rudyarda that once jailed the Black Panther for being, well…black.

(Now you remember – that was back when they wondered about calling him the ‘Leopard’ or some such nonsense)

The ambassador eventually explains he wants the Avengers to protect his embassy staff from threats ‘ of death by sound and fire’ after the gardener had been found ‘burned to a cinder”

As the Avengers exit the building…the plot kicks in and we are treated to a wonderful double page spread – which explains the editorial captions earlier.

We are faced with a giant-sized Klaw looming over normal sized Solarr in a force bubble above a bigger force bubble containing and entrapping Avengers Scarlet Witch, Vision, Swordsman Mantis and Black Panther along with the ambassador while Cap, Iron Man and Thor watch from outside.

(There is a bystander in the foreground – I presume that’s a representation of one of the creators is it? Dave Cockrum?)

There is a curious No-Prize offered for the reader who can explain the ‘unseen’ reason these two villains are teamed together. Anyone ever know the real reason they are paired here? Was there an issue unpublished somewhere?

We learn things fast despite the slow burning opening of this story. The bad guys want the Panther to renounce his throne and name Klaw his successor so that Klaw can attack Rudyarda in revenge for the harsh treatment he met in their jail after that FF#119 defeat and he will kill the captives – starting with the ambassador  until T’Challa agrees.

We also learn that Solarr…well, is a bit of a psycho really and has no real motive other than that.

Injured after the initial attack the Ambassador is revived by Wanda who seems surprised by her own abilities…”I think I’m finally gaining some control over my power!” – to which we all cheer!! About-time-too!

She is soon deflated again though when Mantis tells her she won’t get them out of their bubble and the Vision concurs, “That’s right! Stand up for Mantis!”

The Panther utilised his scientific genius and the ‘big three’ race off to find Klaw battling solid sound panthers along the way.

Wanda raves at the vision in probably the fiercest ‘woman-scorned’ scene ever but their argument is put to one side when the Panther reveals that the Ambassador was actually the real Klaw in disguise – revealed because he remained clinging to his briefcase even when unconscious.

Clever T’Challa eh?

The Panther destroys the briefcase and defeats Klaw which caused Solarr to fall also.

Gotta wonder what Solarr brought to this partnership haven’t you?

So the Avengers tidy up the mess and the plot strands…

I must request a leave of absence.” Says the panther – we knew it didn’t we.

I like the Black Panther in the Avengers and yet I cannot really explain why, he kind of won’t be missed but there’ll be something missing without him.

We close with the decision of Captain America to also quit the team…although he hangs around for the next issue – Giant-Sized #1 …and goes through all of this soul-searching yet again in Cap #176 before his final quitting decision…which as we all know - doesn’t last…

This story doesn’t bear much scrutiny but as I say is refreshingly done-in-one and brings the characters and the sub-plots regarding the team’s characters to the fore before some epic stuff to come.

The art combination of Bob brown and Dave Cockrum is a winning team – their Captain America is wonderful and their Scarlet Witch, without the headdress as here, is one of the most beautiful women in comics.

I really like this issue and feel it is probably a bit forgotten or under-appreciated. Well, no more.

Come back…

 

 

Very nice done-in-one, with another tie-in to come and another done-in-one before the Kang epic which would take up much of the remainder of Englehart's run, starts up.  I don't recall ever reading what the connection between Klaw and Solarr (two r's simply because he liked it that way!) was, but I wonder if there was something in what I believe was Klaw's then recent appearance in Ka-Zar.

Putting the Panther on the team only to have him constantly worry about Wakanda and leave the group after a few issues seemed to be a running gag back then. Made you wonder why he was a member if he could never stay very long. It also seemed like the guy he'd put in charge while he was away was an incompetent, since the bad guys never seemed to have the slightest trouble pushing him aside and taking over.

I have the vaguest memory that I once knew the connection between those two, but after four decades I have no idea what it was.

Richard Mantle said:

There is a curious No-Prize offered for the reader who can explain the ‘unseen’ reason these two villains are teamed together. Anyone ever know the real reason they are paired here? 

They both have names with gimmicky spellings?

(Now you remember – that was back when they wondered about calling him the ‘Leopard’ or some such nonsense)

African black panthers are leopards that are black all over. The Black Leopard name is arguably an equally valid translation of the Wakandan original term.

It should be noted that the epic "Panther's Rage" storyline was beginning in Jungle Action and that took place entirely in Wakanda.

It should also be noted that I can't believe that Marvel didn't rename Jungle Action. Can you imagine the outrage if they tried that in the last thirty years?

Why? It sounds dirty?

Luke Blanchard said:

African black panthers are leopards that are black all over. The Black Leopard name is arguably an equally valid translation of the Wakandan original term.

Black leopards actually have black spots that can be seen in certain lights. IIRC, the spots are a flat black color while the rest of the hair is shiny black.

Black panthers are, of course, simply leopards with black fur, although the name is also applied to jaguars with black fur.  The name "black panther", at least in English, is used far more often than "black leopard", and as such is just a much more memorable name -- and is far more appropriate superhero name for a character who happens to be a black African king than the original name Jack Kirby coined for the character, Coal Tiger, which to be blunt was absurdly ridiculous for several reasons, but primarily as wild tigers have never existed in Africa -- all the varieties of tigers, including the now extinct ones, were native to central and eastern Asia!  Lions are native to both continents, and many millennia ago also lived in Europe and even North America.  Also, while there are white tigers (with black stripes), to my knowledge there have never been any tigers with entirely black fur.  Kirby was having an off day when he came up with that particular name.

I've read the black panther is pretty rare and Bagheera's (Jungle Book) parents were probably spotted.

That's not the kind of mistake you'd think Kirby would make, making me wonder if Wakanda was originally going to be set in Asia.

Doesn't seem likely, but given the sort of character names he came up with on his own, it does sound like something he would have come up with, and the original costume was a bit odd as well.  Not sure if Kirby himself re-thought the name and concept or if that was Lee's decision, but if the latter, well that was a very good call!  Wouldn't have done to have the first black African superhero in U.S. comics have a ridiculous name and costume.

To my knowledge, btw, all black panthers are really spotted, it's just very difficult to tell when the rest of the fur is nearly as black as the spots and black panthers are generally born to and have litters mates that are normally spotted leopards.  Among domestic cats, one tortoise shell in my old neighborhood had a litter of 5 kittens of which one was orange with white markings, two were black with white markings, and two were entirely white. 

Only by looking very closely at my Siamese can the stripes of his tabby mother be seen.

Very well done issue.  The love quadrangle is moved along, and Cap and the Panther make their exits.  Cap would be back of course, but I think this was the end of the Panther being a regular member.  His appearances after this would be one offs if I'm not mistaken.

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