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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This is about when I started picking up the Avengers and I had no idea who Wonder Man was, but at the time I thought that Black Talon was kind of a weak foe for all of them.  I could see Dracula taking on Dr. Strange or even the Silver Surfer, that was magic against magic in a way and in the case of the Surfer he had all sorts of trouble with Mephisto.  But I had no trouble with horror characters moving over into the mainstream.  After all Dr. Doom used magic and science against the FF and if you have magic you have monsters.  

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

After all Dr. Doom used magic and science against the FF and if you have magic you have monsters.

When I read my first Marvel superhero book, FF #5, I thought it was a neat idea that a villain was going to use science and magic together. Then I don't think he ever tried this except when he destroyed his face.

When did Doom use magic?

Stan referenced Dr. Doom using magic in his origin story in FF Annual #2, and I think he used magic while trying to contact his dead mother in a Marvel Superheroes story circa 1969, and then much later in a graphic novel team-up with Dr. Strange, so it has been part of arsenal from early on but doled out very rarely.  Victor Von Doom was a master of scientific technology but only a dabbler in the mystic arts. 

I remember he found his mother's magic paraphernalia in FF Annual#2 and bragged her secrets were now his, but I never saw him use them. Did he try putting a spell on that machine that blew up and disfigured him?

David Michelinie did an Iron Man story in the early 80s that featured Doom using his mother's spells to try and free her from hell.  He was travelling back in time and receiving training from various sorcerers in order to hone his magic skills and finally free her.

Doom's solo story in Marvel Super-Heroes #20 pitted him against Diablo, and introduced Valeria. Not having read that tale I don't know if he used magic there, but I'd guess not as he otherwise hadn't to that point. First half by Larry Lieber, second half by Roy Thomas and Frank Giacoia.

Astonishing Tales #8, the last instalment of his Astonishing Tales series, introduced the idea that he annually fights demons, using magic, in an attempt to rescue the soul of his mother. Story by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan.

Interesting he uses magic on demons but not on the FF. It's been too many years since I read Marvel Super-Heroes#20 or Astonishing Tales to remember much about them, except he was building Noman like androids and stopped after one turned against him because of some weird alien that turned out to be a metallic spider creature.

Wally Wood drew the first four Astonishing Tales instalments, and they brought out the best in him. (Mild spoilers.) In the opening three-parter the rebel leader Prince Rudolfo tries to overthrow Doom. In #2 a guy called the Faceless One with a sphere head plots with him. He is revealed to be an alien in #3. Doom has created a powerful android called the Doomsman which he has trouble controlling. Rudofo and the Faceless One try to turn it against him. It initially wears mummy-like bandages but takes them off in #3. It does look like NoMan underneath; I never made that connection.

“…remember it was Kirby that drew his original appearance!”

Kirby drew the cover of Avengers #9; Don Heck drew the story.

“- why oh why was the costume drawn wrongly??”

Eh. I chalk it up to artistic license. I can excuse a bit of that on the cover. Not a big deal to me.

“Inside and what is impressive is the way the action takes over straight after the cliff-hanger of last issue - despite the sea-change in artist!”

Iron Man runs down recent events on page two and they do not include the #145/146 fill-in. OTOH, the reference I cited earlier placed the Isabella story after #149, not necessarily between #149 and #150 (because of the line-up, I suppose). Okay. I’m done talking about that turkey now.

I see the change in art is a visual signal that the team has entered a new era.

“Dan Rather/Sam Reuther gets short shrift from Jarvis”

Under Gerry Conway, Sam Reuther went from being Dan Rather to Rowland Hedley.

“…up to this point [zuvembie] had meant a female-zombie when first named in Robert E Howard's 'Pigeons from Hell' (1938)”

I was going to point out that factette but you beat me to it!

Reading this issue, I discovered I kind of miss the “family dynamic” that the Vision/Scarlet Witch relationship brought to the table (Wonder Man, Ultron, Pym, Jan, Jocasta, Grim Reaper on his side, Magneto and Quicksilver on hers). I really liked the bit, for example, in the Busiek/Perez run in which Simon Williams fell in love with Wanda, explaining that the Vision did because his mind was based on Wonder Man’s brain patterns.

Off topic, I can’t recommend the current Vision series highly enough. The first phase of the first arc is completed. Try the tpb of the first six issues or, just to give yourself a taste of all you’ve missed, buy just issue #6. It’s a Vision very different from the one here, but it represents the first interesting thing to be done with the character since John Byrne dismantled him. The Grim Reaper plays an important role, and Scarlet Witch returns next issue. End of digression.

“Ok. so...what would Englehart have done with Wonder Man then...?-- Jeff?”

Glad you asked, Richard!

STEVE ENGLEHART ON AVENGERS #152:

“When I plotted this, as #151, I had no idea I was about to depart the series, so I was reintroducing Wonder Man to begin my latest run. My take on him was very different from what he became past this point, and that’s fair because the new writers can do whatever they want with what they inherit. But my take on him was, he wad dead. D-E-A-D. For a long time, unconscious in darkness, dead. And then he came back.

“I was looking at a very dark character, living somewhere way inside his head. What I would have done with that, I do not know; he would have spoken t me. But it didn’t happen, and it joinsTwo-Gun Kid in the :Ideas that didn’t get done” club (motto: ‘Now we’ll never know’).

“But we do know it affects the vision, who has the same mental template as the dead man and has always worried about that.

“So all in all, I end my run unknowingly, but much as I began. It even has the Avengers fighting a horde of weirdos in a jungle, drawn by John Buscema—just like #105. It’s all very neat and symmetrical, as if, without my knowledge, my ride had come to its appointed stop. But of course Avengers continued, so you can see those stories and a whole lot more in Marvel Masterworks: the Avengers, vol. 16, coming soon.”

And that’s the last of the commentaries, at least for a while. The next volume of MMW Avengers has been solicited to ship on June 15. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to think of something of my own to say.

Marvel had used "zuvembie" in the Brother Voodoo stories, to get them past the early 70s Code. It was willing to allow vampires as they had more literary prestige. The zuvembie in Howard's tale isn't a zombie, but it's a creation of the same kind of magic (which I think we shouldn't call Voodoo; that's the religion, not what practitioners of black magic get up to).

Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart never let the readers forget Wonder Man with the introduction of the Grim Reaper wanting revenge for his brother's death, being included in the Vision's origin, having the Grim Reaper tow his body to bribe the Vision and being part of the Legion of the Unliving.

Speaking of the Legion of the Unliving story, Wonder Man certainly doesn't come off well, shown as arrogant, bigoted and nasty. Not the best candidate for a revival!

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