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 #150 (08/76)
Writer – Steve Englehart                 Penciller – George Perez
Inker – John Tartaglione & Duffy Vohland
(Reprint writer - Stan Lee           Reprint penciller - Jack Kirby
Reprint inker - Dick Ayers)
Cover Art – Ron Wilson & Frank Giacoia 
 

  

“Avengers Assemble!"
Sometimes the obvious title does actually work.


Quick word about the credits - who on earth is/was Duffy Vohland?


Also - again - who is surprised here by the cover artist?                                   I always knew it was not one of the Kirby covers of the era and so in my head this collection of Avengers was a George Perez combination -- but no! Checking the credits this is down to Ron Wilson who all too often aped the blocky style of Kirby in my book but here proportions his figures better than his later works and it is a great cover.


I have always wondered if this was a combination of figures taken from elsewhere however, or even drawn by other artists as Cap looks like a Sal Buscema and so on.....


What I do not like about this cover is the question mark of the background - it just looks out of proportion and wrong to me and I much prefer the illustration without it as per the front cover of the Marvel Premiere Hardback edition I am now reading along from.


One final remark about the cover - this shows the ten Avengers of the day but when you examine the issues, this 'team' is never actually assembled together!
When Hellcat debuts the Wasp and YellowJacket are hospital bound and by the time they do get together - the order changeth next issue!


I am spending so long discussing the cover as.....there's very little else here to talk about due to the 'Dreaded Deadline Doom' AGAIN!


Next issue in the letter column there is a massive heartfelt apology from Marvel for the poor quality of this Anniversary issue as regards contents especially in light of the recent fill-in issues also published and I will discuss it more in depth when we get to that issue but suffice to say for --

"A Spectacular 150th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL "--  this is pretty sad having only seven original pages and padded out by a reprint!


I am not sure how often this kind of splicing of old and new has been done but, in fairness, it is done quite well here IF you have both this and the next issue but at the time of publication this must have been SO frustrating and as a stand alone issue it just..well...does not stand alone.


What is new here is that we open with a crowd outside of Avengers Mansion with the Wasp and YellowJacket arriving.

The media are present awaiting an announcement from the Avengers of a new team roster.

(Sam Reuther was a real newsman I understand? Sorry British reader here.)
Jarvis settles the Pyms in and we are reminded that Hank really doesn't want to rejoin whereas Jan is all for it.
The rest of the team are in the meeting room and business begins.
Before that, a word about Perez's artwork, he is already dropping in all that background stuff that he becomes famous for, the Avengers rooms are festooned with machinery and I love the ridiculously impractical individual motifs on each hero's chairs (yes I know it's all very JLA but I like it!).


Credit also for the asside comedic quip from Wanda of all people..

."Have a seat Jan! I need some support on a motion to revive the Lady Liberators!"
"Very funny Wanda"


Continuity between books is also neatly addressed as we link into Iron Man having given himself a new facemask - without the nose!
It's a watershed moment. I liked the nose!


So begins the storytelling mechanism that makes this two-parter stand out, alongside our heroes deciding their line-up we get the history of the team and the individual members as reported by the media. It works really well as a summing-up of the series to this point and as a perfect jumping-on point for new readers.


I think this is why it works so well for me as a line in the sand where the Avengers begin their true Golden Age (up to #202 in my opinion!).


Thor announces, dramatically, "...I am forced to announce my leave of absence"
(actually 'to-to' - the typo exists in my copy)
This segues into 'viewers' being reminded of how the Avengers banded together originally and we are treated to Perez's version of Kirby (good Hulk - don't like the bullethead Iron Man!)
Thor agonises over his godhood and how he can fit into such a team - clearly influenced by all the nonsense Moondragon has been feeding him of late, explaining why he will not stay.
It makes no sense at all and I always thought this was a way fro the writers to remove Thor from the day to day team precisely because he is so powerful - it must be difficult to write how the Avengers fight the Masters of Evil or Zodiac or whoever - when Thor could beat them all up in seconds or transport them to another dimension with his hammer or...etc etc....


So the precedent is set for each prospective member to verbalise their decision-making process at some length before announcing if they will stay or go...
"Iron Man wilt thou remain?"
...here we go...ready for the long monologue..?
"Why-- yes. I never thought otherwise."
...oh, that's it?

Okay....moving on...


Hellcat gives her game away a little with a foreshadowing whisper to the Beast about her obvious desire to stay.....


"Anyway, next we turn to Captain America. What about you Cap? Are you staying with us?"
It is that question that pulls us back to the TV viewer's point of view as the history of the team reaches Captain America's resurrection, the debut and death of Wonder Man (oh yeah! Remember him? No subliminal reminder for a soon-to-be-obvious plot point there eh?) and the seminal exit of the founding Avengers giving way to the new team a la #16.....and the perfect (no, really, it IS perfect) place to drop in a reprint of that issue Avengers #16!


The 'Leaving only Cap-- " voiceover splitting perfectly where it picks back up on page 3 of the next issue. Honestly, considering the deadline doom prevented full issues being published correctly, the tinkering is expertly done here! (If they had time to sort it out so well, why oh why could they not just get it all done in time?)


The rest of the issue - #16 - IS a quality product and would not have been seen too often at this point of 1976 so it is infinitely preferable to the sort of dross we were subjected to in #145-146 but it still makes for a soft close to the 150th 'Sesquicentenniel' Celebration issue.


The whole piece kind of functions as a prologue to the actual celebration / New Line Up long-promised that actually appears next issue...


Come Back...
 

 

Richard Mantle said:
Quick word about the credits - who on earth is/was Duffy Vohland?

This is one of a handful of comics that Vohland inked, most of which seem to involve reprints. He was mostly a writer and editor of fan publications including Marvel's FOOM. Apparently he was just thirty when he died in 1982.

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Duffy_Vohland

(Sam Reuther was a real newsman I understand? Sorry British reader here.)

I personally haven’t heard of him. He could have been a local New York City TV newsman. They have previously introduced other local NYC personalities, which most U.S. readers never heard of. The only mention I could find of him is on the Marvel database. They refer to him as a CBS on-air reporter, but I can’t tell if he was real or fictional.

It makes no sense at all and I always thought this was a way fro the writers to remove Thor from the day to day team precisely because he is so powerful - it must be difficult to write how the Avengers fight the Masters of Evil or Zodiac or whoever - when Thor could beat them all up in seconds or transport them to another dimension with his hammer or...etc etc....

This is why the Justice League stories initially didn’t have Superman. If he isn’t absent you have to start out by disabling him in some way or you don’t have a story.

Thankyou Richard,

Vohland was a new one on me and I think I just presumed Sam Reuther was a real person as they were always name dropping Walter Cronkite (who I have heard of!) and there was the Letterman appearance many issues later etc...

Reuther could have been a real news reporter for a short time and just have no references on the Internet. It doesn't sound like the names Marvel tended to invent. Maybe one of our almost 600 Round Table members remembers him???

I'm guessing that CBS correspondent "Sam Reuther" was Marvel's analogue of real-life CBS newsman Dan Rather.

While Marvel writers often did insert real-world invidividuals, such as President Nixon and Henry Kissenger, in their stories, they also played the "same person-similar name" game quite often, such as with "Dino Manelli" (Dean Martin), "Jerry Larkin" (Jerry Lewis), and "Barbara Walker" (Barbara Walters).

In later issues much would be made of Thor popping up whenever some really powerful bad guy was mopping the floor with the team, but then from about issues 50 through 93 Thor & Iron Man and sometimes Cap only showed up when there was some extra dire foe to take on, aside from the issue where everyone gathered to decide on whether or not to make Vizh a member.  From 93 to this issue, Thor & Iron Man had been appearing pretty regularly, with Thor only out a few issues that I recall.  This issue's reprint filler does remind me of the strange contents of issue #17 (the first outing of Cap's Kookie Quartet, on a quest to locate the Hulk and convince him to rejoin) and which I've only read in the Marvel Triple Action reprint but apparently the original issue included several pages/panels from a then very recent issue of Tales of Astonish (same month?), with the Hulk battling the Leader but then concludes with the apparent death of Bruce Banner (and at that time only Rick Jones knew Banner was the Hulk).  Now having the Hulk as a member at that time would have made for a very weird mix.  The Hulk's involvement in a team like the Defenders sort of made sense as they were a team only in a very loose sense and no one was going to get all up in a huff if the Hulk was too busy knocking some teeth out of the Abomination to show up to fight Nebula, but ooooh, if Iron Man is busy saving Happy from the Mandarin when Cap calls and orders everyone to hop to because Count Nefaria is huffing and puffing at Avengers Mansion, ol' Shellhead will get read the riot act!  Now imagine Cap giving Hulk a hard time for missing a training session, Hawkeye sassing Hulk or Pietro getting peeved because he saw Hulk giving goo goo eyes to Wanda!  How long would all that last before Hulk reduced Avengers Mansion to a pile of rubble?

I'm going with the Sam Reuther/Dan Rather homage, too.

I liked how indignant the Wasp was when asked if she was a "New" Avenger! She and Hank are FOUNDERS! They're always Avengers!

With the friction that Moondragon caused between the two, perhaps Iron Man was a bit relieved that Thor was going!

I kinda recall being puzzled by the half-reprint but hopefully we can focus on the next issue as a book, not an in-depth explanation/criticism of Marvel's behind-the-scenes drama!

Googling the name I found a Walter Reuther who was a union leader in the 1950s. It's also today the name of an automobile dealer in Missouri.

The person asking the Wasp if she was a "New" Avenger must have watched the movies.

Putting the Hulk in the Avengers when Thor and Iron Man were gone would have been odd, since that was the time period when he briefly had Banner's intelligence but the Hulk's personality, and gradually turns into the big dummy we're mostly familiar with. They'd never know which Hulk they were getting. (And today they'd probably show him grey slowly turning green.)


Oh, the next issue has a lot for us to discuss in its own right doesn't it?

I can hardly wait...


Philip Portelli said:

 hopefully we can focus on the next issue as a book, not an in-depth explanation/criticism of Marvel's behind-the-scenes drama!

When reading #150-151, I usually skip the reprint and segue right into the “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” page of #151 (but then there’s the pesky opening of #151 which also segues seamlessly into that page. Here’s what Steven Englehart has to say about it.

STEVE ENGLEHART ON AVENGERS #150:

“#150 and #151 was plotted as #150 and sent to George. Stuff happened. Only the first half got scripted by the print date, so it appears with a reprint.”

Not much as it turns out.

AVENGERS #151 (09/76)
Writer – Steve Englehart-cowriters-Jim Shooter-Gerry Conway                 Penciller – George Perez
Inker – John Tartaglione
Cover Art – Jack Kirby & Dan Adkins 
  

 

   “At Last: The Decision!"
At Last: A cover actually drawn by Kirby - after so many recently that I (we all?) thought were drawn by Kirby!
It's not a bad cover but with no Moondragon or Hellcat included it almost gives away the new line-up and...it makes the Wasp look blonde!


What's with the,

'The Battle's about to begin!" wording? That's just lazy and bears no relation to the inside.
Wonderful use of the word ASSEMBLE! beneath the logo though.


As we've mentioned previously, there is a printed apology in the letter column regarding the reprint utilised last issue and it goes further, explaining the extra pages created for this issue, the bridging extra pieces written by incoming writer Gerry Conway and the last few pages fully dialogued - presumably over Englehart's original scripting - by Jim Shooter.
That's how the credits split between the three writers then and considering how piecemeal this issue is - it holds together remarkably well!


It's one of my favourite Avengers issues EVER!
So, we begin with a recap from that media guy Sam Reuther (neatly explained in our last issue's discussion as based, most likely on real reporter Dan Rather (thankyou guys!), his show being watched by cameo starring Ben Grimm.
I love the watching guest-stars of these issues, one it helps underline that a change in roll-call for the Avengers is indeed a big thing in Marvel circles and two it works as a state-of-the-universe timestamp fitting this issue in continuity for the other heroes.
For instance this showcases Ben wearing his Thing exo-skeleton (recently revamped for the FF series) which he had to wear as he lost his powers for a while in the FF series proper (around the time Luke Cage replaced him...you remember.)


We reconnect with the story as originally intended as Sam narrates Captain America..."to head up what was billed as the new Avengers..."
and after last issue's membership decisions were Thor out and Iron Man in - we get Captain America's decision..."I'll stay, Iron Man." and ..."In the year of the Bicentennial, this is where I should be.!"


Iron Man moves on to ask if the Vision and Scarlet Witch are staying only for Wanda to throw a curve question, "Is Hawkeye In or Out?"


A mysterious man in a dingy room - with strangely hidden face - reacts badly to the possibility of Wanda leaving "You can't leave, Wanda! Not now, when I've done so much and come so far! In Heaven's Name, It Isn't FAIR!" pointing to a future plotline.


Thor answers Wanda's question by pointing out that Hawkeye and his time-displaced mate the Two-Gun-Kid are remaining on 'detached service' in the west playing cowboys. (and not getting a spinoff series!)
This placates Wanda who allows her husband to answer the membership question, "You know, of course, that we shall remain."


With four slots taken either the Wasp can't wait to be asked or fears there will not be spaces enough for her and her hubby but she leaps on in - "Sorry, but I never have liked protocol--...the Winsome Wasp is back!"
this leads to the obvious assumption that husband Hank will join her..."I guess that goes for you, too, Hank--? Hank--?"


Before we get an answer we get another slipped in page foreshadowing a future plotline as a mysterious villain - who loved the Wasp (Whirlwind? No? Was there anyone else...?) discusses his frustration with a military type and changes into energy and flies away...(who could that be...?)


Hank's decision -- "No, Iron Man. I do not want to be an Avenger." - and in that statement begins all the controvertial characterisation of Hank Pym for decades!


The TV special reminds us of those that almost were Avengers and those that came and went as Avengers - giving us a perfectly placed page of interaction between the members of that short-lived but much loved team - the Champions! (Subject of recent thread themselves!) (occurring between Champions #6 and #7 my index says based presumably on the Angel's costume.)
This aside always made me think, because it ends with the Ghost Rider wondering about his place on that team -- that the Ghost Rider may be about to join the Avengers!! I always felt a bit cheated.


Next up to join or not to join - Moondragon...
"I also, shall refuse your offer, Iron Man." - Hellcat thinks what we all do "What a snob!" and I do wonder why Englehart ever brought her into the fold - she never fitted, never had much of a presence on the team and no-one mourned her leaving.


Finally then....the Beast, "-- who's in like Flynn, with a great big grin!" "Take me -- I'm yours!"
The Wasp reacts badly - worrying that there'll be no room left on the team for Yellowjacket if and when she can change his mind and Iron Man sums things up--"As Chairman, I'm not ready or willing to lead an ARMY! We'll have to draw the line somewhere-- but the Beast has proven himself! We'll take him!"


("not ready or willing to lead an ARMY!"- compare and contrast that to  recent years of Avengers teams eh?)


and finally-- "W-What about Hellcat?"
"I see no reason Patsy can't be our final member if she --"
"I Do! I Will! I Accept!"
...but Moondragon has other ideas! "YOU ...Must Not Join...yet!"
With hindsight it is interesting how Moondragon's dialogue and Patsy's is presented in the...broken....manner....as if...emphasising...her mental persuasion at play. (!)

I never really understood why Moondragon stopped Hellcat becoming an Avenger here, as she never shows any sign of having a grand design for Patsy - clearly it was just a mechanism for Englehart to keep control of the character he'd just created and take her over to the Defenders to keep that control.
"-- I guess I won't join now."


In a final twist, Yellowjacket returns to the table and throws in his hat - "I'm not ready to give up my laboratory work -- but I just can't get Avengering out of my blood."


And so...that's it....
"I get the feeling ...An era has just passed!"


After the hangers on have left we have presented to the public - the New Avengers line-up!
Vision, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Iron Man, Captain America, Wasp and Yellowjacket.!


You would think that would close out the issue but no-- we have an epilogue of sorts that begins the next era of Avengering...
...breaking out of a crate delivered to the mansion is...
"I -- don't believe--"
"I watched him DIE!! It Can't be--"
"WONDER MAN!"

And yes, it appears to be a lumbering/zombiefied version of the guy we first met back in Avengers #9 - his arrival is not enough of a shock - we learn that he has a grudge against the Vision --
"He...did it. He...is the one...The One Who Stole My Mind." -- and that sets the cliffhanger!


It is a fantastic conceit.

In an issue that covers the history of the Avengers we get a harkback to their early days which has threaded through their entire history with Wonder Man's death, his mindwaves forming the Vision's character and his body being offered to the Vision in the more recent past, almost forming a spine on which the Avengers adventures have hung throughout their series.


It is inspired.


(I always liked the Wonder Man original costume too)


I do feel Simon Williams has had a poor deal throughout his career and has remained a second class hero where he has always had more potential but at this point that potential has not been wasted and the possibilities are incredible!
Wonderfully unexpected ending to a classy issue!


The Perez artwork is among his best ever! - I 've always felt it a shame the Wasp is wearing one of her most dull and boring costumes ever in this issue as everything else Perez is drawing leaps off the page!
Perez's Hellcat cowl and Yellowjacket cowl and 'wings' are classically iconic here.


I have broken this issue down probably more than any other since we started this thread back on #101 but I am unashamedly fanatic about this issue, it's writing and it's artwork.


The greatest era of Avengers ever IMHO begins here!
Come back...

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