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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Always thought Thor should have had a little talk with Quicksilver about how he was treating Wanda. He knows all about family squabbles!

My older brother never read comic books. He collected Mad magazine, yes (which I finally got fourth hand), but not comic books. Which is why, when he came home from college one time with two comic books in his hand, I gratefully accepted the gift, no questions asked. [I’m going to see my brother in two weeks; I think I’ll finally ask him!] Yes, one of the two was Avengers #127. [For the record, the other one was Amazing Spider-Man #137, which we’ll get to one of these days in your “Once More with…” Spider-Man discussion.] So #127 became my first new Avengers comic after GSA #1.

I don’t recall if #127 came out before or after E-Man #1, but they were probably right around the same time. In any case, the Charlton run of E-Man remains a favorite to this day, but my artistic eye at the time was not sophisticated enough to identify the penciler of one with the inker of another. Joe Staton is a favorite of mine, but I think he’s unfairly criticized as being too “cartoony.” I suppose that’s true to an extent, but he is an excellent draftsman and his layouts are dynamic and easy to follow from panel-to-panel. He can depict action and non-action sequences with equal aplomb. I wish he’d be given more straight-up super-hero work. His runs on Green Lantern and JSA (i.e., All-Star) are favorites of mine as well. I still remember the uproar when he took America Flagg! over from Howard Chaykin. I applauded the choice at the time, a style clearly different from Chaykin’s, but not everyone felt that way. The vocal faction complained until they brought in a team of artists who could duplicate Chaykin’s distinctive look. I wish some publisher would release Staton’s Dick Tracy strips on paper.

“I adored this period of the Fantastic Four and am hoping for an 'Epic Collection' book covering 'the Medusa years' soon!”

I wouldn’t hold my breath. As I understand it, the point of the “Epic” collections is to concentrate on runs that have not been reprinted before, and “the Medusa years” are available in MMW format.

“Does everyone scream at Crystal here not to marry him and begin to hope for a return to the Johnny-Crystal love-fest by the end of FF #150 - or just me?”

It’s not just you.

“We close out into a cliffhanger FF #150 as Omega removes his mask to reveal – ‘Ultron-7!’”

You will be covering that next, yes?

“According to the Index Englehart gets a credit for the colours of this ish - what's that about?”

I’m glad you asked! Let’s let Steve Englehart address that himself, shall we?

STEVE ENGLEHART ON AVENGERS #127:

“In the current storyline, the quadrangle continues apace. But the first thing to note here is the credits. In the continuing kaleidoscope of Avengers artists, we have, for the moment, my two favorite artists, working together. I’ve given zillions of interviews in which I’ve named Sal Buscema my favorite Marvel artist, and Joe Staton my favorite DC artist, and here’s Joe earning an extra buck working across town. (To be fair, I wouldn’t know how good Joe was till we did Green Lantern a few years later.) Still, I was so inspired by everybody’s clean, clear storytelling that I finally decided to color the book myself. When I’d first gotten my toe into the world of professional comics, I made a few extra bucks by coloring books—trained by Neal Adams, no less—and I liked it, and why not?

“(The answer would come in three months—and the next Masterworks—when I got Giant-Size Avengers added to my plate, and had to reluctantly back away from coloring the book.)

“Okay. Wanda finds out her crazy brother is getting married without telling her, and that’s about as much humiliation as she’s willing to take. But the team goes to the Great Refuge to hang with the Fantastic four and the Inhumans, and Wanda gets a second helping directly from the lunatic. Mantis blows the Swordsman off. And I get to do a bit with Johnny and Crystal, as an extra. Whatever else is going on, I;m damn sure going to make these people people.”

Thankyou Jeff,  I knew you'd know how Englehart got to do colours.

Oh and...

You will be covering that next, yes?

Oh yes. Of course.

Next.

Fantastic Four #150 (09/74)

Writer - Gerry Conway

Pencilled - Rick Buckled.  Inker - Joe Sinnott

Cover Art - Gil Kane

  "ULTRON-7: He'll Rule The World"

'Possibly the Greatest One-Hundred-Fiftieth Anniversary Issue Ever!' - difficult to argue with that then...or since?

I hate to criticise any Gil Kane cover - but this looks very rushed. Ultron's head looks wrongly shaped, his fist is poor, Crystal looks like an inflatable doll, the Scarlet Witch in the background is awful and who is responsible for colouring Quicksilver incorrectly?

The art inside is so much better, beautiful, accomplished, well designed and composed showing much more prestige than the current Avengers offerings.

We kind of get a recap of Avengers #127 courtesy of Ulton's need to explain his plan and his history between Avengers #68 and here, taking in the Omega link to Maximus in the FF 131-132. There are even continuity references to the In humans' involvement in the Kree-Skrull War- I love all that stuff!

It all quickly culminates in Ultron melting everyone' brains ( no really!) before young Franklin Richards wakes from his long-term coma to zap Ulton, save the day and expend his extra-power that wad the root of the equally long-term split in his parent's marriage!

I loved that that all came together in this Anniversary Issue for the FF.

(We really need an FF reading thread....)

It all happens ridiculously quickly ( not even an extra-sized issue) in order for the second half to concern itself just with the Wedding.

We never actually learn where Crystal was do we?

Reed and Sue, remembering their Wedding is contrasted really well with Iron Man and Thor lamenting the lack of their own nuptials.

It is very clear, regardless of Englehart claiming co-operation between writers ( thank you Jeff) that Gerry Conway never got the memo about how important Mantis was as she only appears in a few panels and for once, does not speak a line.

The lack of introspection of the relationships between Mantis and Swordsman and Vision and Scarlet Witch is a refreshing joy.

Also notable is no sign of doubts regarding the actual Wedding which is completed in peace and even gets a seal of approval from Johnny Storm, "...look at me...I'm smiling!"

Not the battle royal set up in Avengers #127 but an eventful Anniversary Issue nonetheless.

I have always been a fan of the In humans (I know not everyone is) and having Pietro among them opened up some possibilities - sadly not realised in there 12 ish series to come. Now that everything X is now I (mutant- Inhuman) they are well in the spotlight but they always made for stout and faithful guest-stars.

Credit for the panel of the recovering Whizzer (from Avengers Giant-Size #1) watching via monitor. 

Very much an F2F chapter this remains one of my all-time favourite Avengers adventures!

Come Back...

Although I got a copy of Avengers #127 when it was new (as well as Fantastic Four #149, incidentally), it wasn’t until I was filling back-issues in college that I would acquire Fantastic Four #150. Other than that, I don’t have much to say about it (and neither does Steve Englehart).

STEVE ENGLEHART ON FANTASTIC FOUR #150:

“All of this was worked out with Gerry conway, so he could finish it up in FF #150. And finish it he did, with the nice “second story” focusing on the big event the wedding of Quicksilver and Crystal really was. There are no Avengers plot advancements, but hey, this is Q & C’s day.”

Interesting that the big giant sized specials for hundred and 150 issues so common in the 80s and 90s didn't exist at this time. 

There's really no reason for Thor not to be married except they want him single. (For that matter, there's no reason for Crystal to marry Quicksilver except they want a single Torch. At least they married her to someone else instead of killing her off like they did with Gwen.)

I really liked the way Crystal was later wed to Ronan the Accuser by DNA as a political union - that was dealt with quite well.

Never accepted her affair that ruined her marriage to Pietro or that she'd had a similar affair with the Sentry - who I just hated. Shame that Crystal wasn't' proven to be a Skrull or something.

Never liked her as an Avenger decades later than this period.

Ron M. said:

Interesting that the big giant sized specials for hundred and 150 issues so common in the 80s and 90s didn't exist at this time. 

There's really no reason for Thor not to be married except they want him single. (For that matter, there's no reason for Crystal to marry Quicksilver except they want a single Torch. At least they married her to someone else instead of killing her off like they did with Gwen.)

I think the highpoint of her career was her filling in for Sue in the 60s. She never really "clicked" after that.

My understanding was Sentry was supposed to be Marvel's Superman, and, despite them using him for several years trying to make him popular, he proved that they didn't need a Superman.

Who's DNA?

Sorry, Dan Abnett and Andy Manning who together wrote the revitalisation of the Marvel Cosmic Corner - before Bendis took over - they were collectively known as - DNA.

Ron M. said

Who's DNA?

Ron M. said:

My understanding was Sentry was supposed to be Marvel's Superman, and, despite them using him for several years trying to make him popular, he proved that they didn't need a Superman.

My only experience with the Sentry was the series that introduced the character (I assume the same character) as a self-sacrificing hero forgotten by the world, which I thought was excellent. I was surprised later to learn that the character was reused and since then his stylized "S" symbol has migrated to the Captain Marvel/Ms Marvel characters.

Sentry came along long after I'd quit collecting any Marvel comics although from what I've read about him his purpose, other than being a Marvel analog to Superman, was to have been a '60s superhero  in an era when it was no longer plausible for the nearly any of the Silver Age Marvel superheroes to have been active in the '60s without even the youngest of them being in their late 40s in the 1990s.  Tonight I saw the latest FF film and this time the whole gang are in their late teens and Victor Von Doom isn't much older.  As depicted by Kirby & Lee, Reed, Ben & Victor, all shown as young adults even before World War II, would all be well into their 90s now, like Stan Lee himself. 

There was a series that was supposed to be about the "lost generation" of superheroes between the 40s Timely heroes and the modern day heroes, explaining they'd never been mentioned before because there was a cover up and the public didn't know about them. Another had Ulysses Bloodstone hunting 1960s monsters. Didn't really make sense why they had to be secret, or how they kept people from knowing about them. Trying to make the public forget the Avengers and X-Men if they died wouldn't have been possible. Why would an entire generation of heroes have kept people from knowing they existed?

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