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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Ah, so it was Stan's idea all along.  Not surprised, really, as he was still the editor and even if it had been Roy's idea it wouldn't have gone through without Stan's approval.  But afterwards it was mostly ignored, aside from Roy avoiding using either name and just referring to B. P. as T'Challa during the few month remaining of his tenure in the Avengers.

GIANT SIZE AVENGERS #1 (08/74)
Writer – Roy Thomas
Art – Rick Buckler
Cover Art – John Romita & Mike Esposito
"Nuklo-- the Invader that time forgot!”
“The child is father to the fiend!”
“ What Hell hath joined together!"

It’s so busy with announcements and blurbs that this is a bit of a mess as a cover in my opinion.
It is also quite misleading.
The All-Winner’s Squad is listed as being present in this ish but are only in a reprint portion or flashback and not the main action although the billing does not make this clear.
The Nuklo blurb refers to him as ‘the monster that time forgot’ which is overplaying the time aspect quite a bit.
The actual artwork is incredibly generic and dare-I-say-it, looks old fashioned even by this period. Buckler’s work can be oh-so-much better.
Let’s cover the story and I’ll come back to the issue as a whole product later...

The action opens right in the middle of a battle between the Avengers and a mysteriously shadowed male in a trenchcoat and hat, who has already knocked out innocent Jarvis and stands between our team and a strange machine introduced as a ‘Chrono-Module’.
Captain America is particularly upset by the shoddy treatment of their butler, “You two-bit second-story man!” (What does that even mean?)
Not believing he’s fighting the ‘real’ Cap the mystery man is revealed to be the Whizzer – hero of World War II who fought alongside Cap’s secret successor in the All-Winner’s Squad. (It’s convoluted. Check out my Invaders thread for details!)
Iron man explains this is not the Whizzer the team last battled which just confuses matters even more to be honest.
As we learn about the Whizzer’s heroic past we get flashbacks to the All-Winner’s Squad battling a/the Future man (in one of those ‘not-yet-shown’ tales. Actually there’s quite a bit to it so the chances are there was some actual artwork produced for such a story – but again it complicates the main drive of this story as it is actually a superfluous set of events.)
We also find out what happened after the War – Whizzer marries Miss America and after they become caught in a nuclear incident they have a son ...doomed to be a radioactive monster.
Unable to ‘cure’ that son named, Nuklo, they seal him up in a ‘time capsule’ hoping they can sort him out in about 25 years...which just happens to be (Marvel time ok – yes, we know it doesn’t work anymore,,,) when the Avengers found the Time Capsule and become curious as to who’s inside. Enter the Whizzer and we’re where we started as suddenly the whizzer suffers from every marvel hero’s medical condition when they are declared ‘old’ – he has a heart attack.
Nuklo, resembling Leonard Tippett from Avengers #101 but on steroids, bursts out of the capsule.
After a short battle Nuklo escapes and is tracked to 3 separate locations so the Avengers split into 3 groups to go find him (Shades of the JLA again Roy!)
Threaded through this action we learn that the Whizzer and Miss America travelled to Wundagore and with the assistance of Bova as midwife and the High Evolutionary they had twins, believed now to be Pietro and Wanda!!.
“You’re my father” announces Wanda in one of the smallest frames of the issue which relegate this massive revelation into abit of minor news.
Miss America dies ‘a few days later’ – not in childbirth. The Whizzer couldn’t face single-parenthood and abandons his children...who we now connect must have grown up to be Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
The three versions of Nuklo fight the Avengers in pretty pointless battles before mysteriously merging back together and it is only on the intervention of the Scarlet Witch “ flesh of his flesh—blood of his blood. And I’m not very proud of it.” That he can be depowered long enough to get him back in a capsule and locked away for another 25 years.
How do they explain that only Wanda could do it now we know there’s no genetic link? Ah Chaos magic.
Locking Nuklo back up and giving up on curing him is not much of a creditable success for our team is it?
Re-reading this ‘Origin’ for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – it actually works quite well, why it was felt it needed changing I do not really know, much as I liked the Magneto link as it was revealed decades later (and denied again recently) there is precious little reason for it after this tale.

Back to the main product as a whole then...

The explanation of this creation of the ‘Giant-Size’ series is apparently included in a text page from Roy Thomas which I don’t have sight of or access to.....perhaps Jeff can enlighten us...?
Why Giant-Size and not Annuals?

It is notable that the Avengers membership shown does not include Mantis who does feature inside, but not prominently and...I have a theory...I believe mantis was shoe-horned into this artwork as a re-drawn Scarlet Witch in the panels she is in so as to make this - an inventory story – contemporary.
At no point do the Scarlet Witch and Mantis appear together in what looks like a complete or original image, I maintain one or the other is another heroes redrawn or has been drawn in later.
.
Or, could the Mantis figure have been the lady Sif from when she was hanging around with Thor at the Avengers Mansion circa #105 – which is also when Roy was writing the team title AND Buckler was the artist?
The double page spread/expanded panel where Thor is holding Mantis would lend itself to having been a Thor holding Sif.
Or maybe the Grecian costumed Hawkeye from Thomas and Buckler...or...
This would explain no Mantis on the cover and the creation of this tale could well, have been way out of publication order. Especially as it is actually written by...Roy Thomas – and the Buckler artwork contains loads of Kirby swipes and does not have his later style – as if this was a very early effort of his kept in a bottom drawer at marvel until they decided to publish it – after a tweak or two.

I am further convinced this was a positioned Inventory story as Captain America features here without voicing any of his deep concerns as to his future in the stars and stripes after his own series trials, especially after his seeming decision in Avengers 126 and his soon to be decisive decision in his own title’s 176...

As mentioned before, the point of exactly where this issue does fit in continuity is difficult to answer for these reasons. The Official Handbook series and the Essential series places it here but I am aware that the Marvel Masterworks differs. (I believe that placement is more about even numbers of pages per hardback however.)

If this was an Inventory story, it would be the upcoming Wedding of Quicksilver and Crystal that may have reminded editor Thomas that writer Thomas had addressed the family history of Pietro and Wanda in this previously unpublished tale – which really needed to be shown before that wedding – otherwise there’d be no-one on the Groom’s side of the proceedings would there.

Which returns us to our regular Avengers title...
Come Back

forgive the lack of cover above and the flat presentation - borrowed link not giving me all the options today. You all know this cover though don't you?

I used my Moderator powers to add in the cover, Richard, hope you like it.

Richard Mantle said:

forgive the lack of cover above and the flat presentation - borrowed link not giving me all the options today. You all know this cover though don't you?

The All Winners Squad debuted in All Winners Comics #19 (Fall'46) with a second and final adventure in #21 (Winter'46). Apparently there was no #20. Obviously patterned after the Justice Society, both stories were written by BILL FINGER!

Both issues were reprinted in the Silver Age: #19 in Fantasy Masterpiece #10 (Au'67), a book I searched for early in my collecting hobby, and #21 split between Marvel Super-Heroes #17 (N'68) and #18 (Ja'69).

Idea thankyou sir.


John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

I used my Moderator powers to add in the cover, Richard, hope you like it.

Richard Mantle said:

forgive the lack of cover above and the flat presentation - borrowed link not giving me all the options today. You all know this cover though don't you?

Roy Thomas made a What If? issue that was supposed to be #20. That was the Adam II story.

If they're denying the Magneto parentage then why not go back to this origin?

Whizzer would be in his 50s here. Is Thomas suggesting running a lot for many years will damage your heart? Or was he saying once you're over the hill it doesn't matter how far?

Wait! You haven't told us about the Torch's trip to Jupiter yet!

What's funny is that Roy was working with people who were the Whizzer's real life contemporaries in World War II, mainly Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and written stories featuring WWII vets NIck Fury, Gabe Jones, Dumm Dumm Dugan, not to mention a couple of obscure characters named Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, back when they were still touted as combat veterans of the war.  Guess Roy had the mindset that as the Whizzer was very much a B or C grade hero who hadn't been prominent in comics for roughly 30 years by 1975, it made more sense for him to bring back the character as an elderly wreck, rather than a healthy man of about 55 years.  Of course, now the Whizzer would be about 95 years old!

That became the rule: if characters had been appearing since FF#1 they were still young. If they hadn't been seen since the Golden Age, they were (at least) their real age.

He's also killed off Miss America while following the Sue Richards idea that women with super powers shouldn't have kids.

We also saw Toro and Red Raven come back crazy and get killed, and will soon see the same thing happen to Marvel Boy. If you're a Timely character, you either die from a heart attack or you get yourself killed attacking modern heroes that replaced you.

Very few Marvel Comics characters have two living parents.  When Nova was introduced in 1976, one of the novel aspects of the series was that he was living with his mother and father, as well as his younger brother.  The brother turned out to be a scientific genius (well, couldn't have the family be too ordinary) but at least he wasn't evil, as with Loki or Maximus or the Plunderer, etc.).

Giant-Size Avengers #1 was the first Avengers comic I ever bought new off the stands.

I know I’ve said this before, but when I was young I bought every #1 issue I could find (not because “they might be worth something someday,” but because I wanted to get in on the ground floor of something new), every Marvel “Giant-Size” and every DC “100-Page Super-Spectacular” I could get my hands on. I also traded for back issues as often as I could.

By the time Giant-Size Avengers #1 was released, I had already had the opportunity to buy 35-40 Avengers comics between #9-100 for $50. (A couple of years after that, I had the opportunity to buy virtually all issues spanning #101-200 for 50 cents apiece, although that’s not really relevant here because that was also a couple of years after the release of GSA #1). Also by the time of GSA #1, I had acquired a good number of back issues of Fantasy Masterpieces, Marvel Super-Heroes, Collector’s Item Classics and Marvel Tales. My point is, by the time I bought GSA #1, I was already well-versed in much of the back-story concerning Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the Whizzer, the All-Winners Squad.

[ASIDE: At the same I bought most issues of Avengers #101-200 I also bought most issues of Captain America spanning #100-200, so it would be awhile before I learned of the “Captain America of the 1950s” firsthand.]

Now it was time to start pulling all that back-story together. GSA #1 was probably the first example of the kind of comic that places the story within the continuity of a firmly established universe that I ever read. I hadn’t read any Avengers beyond #100 at this point, so Mantis was a complete enigma to me, but other than that, I was good to go. More often than not, I familiarized myself with back issues long before I ever bought a new issue off the stands. I initially reacted to the X-Men’s Kitty Pryde and the Defender’s Gargoyle the same way I reacted to Mantis.

[ASIDE: The first “X-men” I bought new was Marvel Team-Up #4, the second was Giant-Size X-Men #1, and the third was Avengers Annual #10 (that’s where I first encountered Kitty Pryde), but even by the time of MTU #4 I had already acquired several Thomas/Adams issues of X-Men.]

As many times as I have read this comic over the years I never really thought of the cover as being “a mess,” but I guess it is a little “busy” now that you mention it. “Misleading”? It does say “reappearance” rather than “appearance.” What could be more “re” than a flashback?

“You two-bit second-story man!” (What does that even mean?)

Common burglar.

Not believing he’s fighting the ‘real’ Cap the mystery man is revealed to be the Iron man explains this is not the Whizzer the team last battled which just confuses matters even more to be honest.

Well, there was a footnote. This issue has some great footnotes all-around.

The explanation of this creation of the ‘Giant-Size’ series is apparently included in a text page from Roy Thomas which I don’t have sight of or access to.....perhaps Jeff can enlighten us...?

Sure, I can do that. Gimme a day or two to transcribe. (Might even do some footnotes, while I’m at it.)

Regarding the art, I think it’s just Buckler doing Kirby.

Regarding All-Winners #20, no real mystery there. The number was given over to a one-shot teen humor comic. (I used to know which one off the top of my head, but I can look that up, too, if I don’t forget.) What became “The Untold Case of the All-Winners Squad” (What If…? #4, as mentioned above), was much more interesting than the “real life” explanation.

Regarding the placement of GSA #1, I think it works best before Avengers #126, because #126 leads more-or-less directly into Captain America #176. I disagree with your assessment of it being an inventory story, though, as I think Steve Englehart’s comments make clear.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #1:

“Next, we got the first issue of GSA. And Roy decided he’d like to write it. Whereas a year earlier, I’d have accepted that without demurral, since he was the Avengers star and I was still struggling, I felt I’d finally proven myself the Avengers writer, and didn’t like getting pre-empted. What can I tell you? But he was an Avengers star, and he was my boss, so it wasn’t unthinkable; it was inevitable. Roy did his thing, and it was a good thing, as usual, and life went on.

“He had Mantis outfight Iron Man, so he’d come around on her power, and that was pretty cool. Plus, he tied his story into the ‘40s, and he’s the master of that. He tied it into the X-Men and the Evil Mutants, which is always fun. And he didn’t tie it into the current Avengers storyline, so he made it as easy on me as he could.”

A second story man is a burglar who enters people's homes through a window on the second floor (or story.) So he's saying "You cheap crook!"

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