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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Fred W. Hill said:

I think by this point in the Marvel Age, Yellow Claw had appeared in 4 storylines -- in SHIELD/Strange Tales in 1967, even if that version turned out to be Dr. Doom (which really made no sense at all; why did Steranko feel compelled to go with that surprise ending?)

I think that was something imposed on Steranko.

Possible, although I've never read an explanation, and if it was imposed on Steranko, that would have been either by Lee or Goodman, but that still leaves the question of "why?"  Perhaps it was something to do with whether co-creator Al Feldstein or even someone representing the estate of Joe Maneely, the other co-creator, may have taken legal action over ownership of the character, a perhaps that was moot by the time Englehart used him in CA&TF a few years later. 

I have read that the creator of the original Human Torch, Carl Burgos, was pretty upset when Lee & Kirby used that character in FF Annual #4 in 1966, as allegedly the rights to the character would have gone back to him if Marvel hadn't done so, although it seems questionable whether he could really have done anything significant with the rights even he had gotten them back.  Burgos did create another android character, called Captain Marvel, after rights to that name became available, but the series died after just a few issues and Marvel was quick to create their own version just a few months later in 1967 and hold onto rights to the name ever since.

In light of all that, seems plausible that that's why Lee or Goodman may have insisted that Steranko's Yellow Claw turn out to be a robot if they had any uncertainty as to who held the rights to the character.

From what I read, Carl Burgos was about to go to court to get the rights to the android Human Torch. I believe Goodman had Lee use the character prominently in the FF Annual. Burgos was so upset that he burned all of his original artwork.

“A word here about the art - I had always classed this issue as sub-par as the art seemed so disappointing after the Perez era but... it's Don Newton.!”

I was pretty much unfamiliar with Newton’s work… until he took over Infinity, Inc. from Jerry Ordway… then promptly died. I then found out he had previously done Batman, and I picked up some of those. Much more recently, I picked up the Tales of the Batman collection spotlighting his art, but you know what I think his best work is? The Phantom. That’s available in HC, too.

“I think by this point in the Marvel Age, Yellow Claw had appeared in 4 storylines”

The Yellow Claw’s sketchy “Marvel Age” played to Jeff Parker’s advantage in his Agents of Atlas series. The Yellow Claw’s few Silver/Bronze Age appearances are easy to ignore… especially in light of Parker’s EYKIW. Recommended!

“Burgos was so upset that he burned all of his original artwork.”

I hope that’s not true. It makes me sick just to think about it.

Avengers #205 (03/81)
Writer - David Michelinie Plot - Bob Budiansky
Penciller - Alan Kupperberg Inker - Dan Green
Editor - Jim Salicrup
Cover Art – Alan Kupperberg & Joe Rubinstein & Marie Severin
   Shadow of the Claw!"
"...And the Claw shall inherit the Earth!" is a bit of a jumbled mess as a cover, I think it's down to the over-use of the red but surely the two inkers over Kupperberg can't have helped - the composition is a bit flawed too, the guest-villain has his back to the reader and the hero is mostly obscured. Not very memorable.

After last issue's mediocre story, Michelinie gives the 'Vs Yellow Claw" another go, this time with a plot without Jim Shooter by Bob Budiansky - or, is this a second credit for his plot from last issue - rehashed?

We may have thought everything was finished neatly enough last issue but this one begins with the Vision still recovering from his treatment by the Claw and needing more energy than ever to recharge himself.

The rest of the team go over the adventure again - basically to recap the readers on last issue's events - as Cap doesn't trust the Claw's motives.

A new event thus sparking this issue's plot proper is announced by Jarvis - a visitor wishes to be seen - Dr William Liu - "That's the Claw's top assistant!" (Although I don't think we saw/heard him last issue.)
Liu explains he has limited time but has come to expose the Claw as a tyrant and the... "Oh, my Lord! H-He Exploded!"
Not quite dead he implores the Avengers to go to a location he gives co-ordinates for... and dies.

The team prepare to leave and the Vision declines with a note explaining he's not up to it. (No, of course we don't believe that.)
The co-ordinates lead to an outback location in Australia where the Avengers find a hidden rocket base.
As they travel there, the Vision travels back to the Claw's island where he explains that he had noticed radiation from the dead Liu was also being emitted by himself - allowing the Claw to monitor the Avengers. (Somehow.)

The Vision thinks he's going to (somehow) defeat the Claw alone but the bad guy reacts with a - "...How Stupid! Did you really think I would be ill-prepared for such a possibility?" and captures the Vision.

He then explains that when the Wasp broke in through the air-vent last issue he hatched a plan and sent Liu to eventually get the Avengers to his Australia base where he intends to kill them..!
No, there is no explanation why he didn't just kill them when they were on his island face-to-face last issue.(?)

Three Transformer/Gladiator types get set on the Avengers and try as they do, the team is overwhelmed.
The Claw offers the Vision Liu's place as his second in command... (anyone else expecting a Space Phantom agreement..?)
Surrounded by women the Claw explains that although he's growing old and nearer death he is impregnating all the women with a plan to have sons by them all who will then battle each other and the survivor will rule the Earth!
It didn't make much sense last issue and it still doesn't.

As a plan, it gets added to (or changed completely?) by a revelation that he has a storage bank of genetic material gleaned from humanities top candidates with which (somehow) his heir will use to create a New World Order.
This links into the Australian rocket/missile base as he intends to use them to trigger a spacecraft and send a vapour to cover the Earth and make everyone else -- sterile!
"So, artificial man, what do you say? Will you join me?"
"Perhaps, miscreant. Perhaps I will join you......In Hell!"

Teamwork of the Avengers begins to turn the tide of their battle and as a result, in desperation the three enemies explode! 
No, no explanation why they didn't just blow the Avengers up in the first place.
"-- The Avengers are Dead!"

The missiles are fired and it seems like the Claw's plan is working... until it is revealed that the Scarlet Witch had protected our heroes with a Hex Sphere.
As the missiles dock with the Claw's ship Wonder Man and Iron Man catch up with them and it appears the Claw and the Vision are actually inside the ship.

As the Claw rants, the Vision increases his density/mass and that makes the ship use fuel faster than planned to maintain orbit. Eventually they lose orbit and crash towards the ground. The Claw and the Vision fight each other and crash into the sea.

The Avengers search the wreckage but can detect "- no man-sized life forms" but the Vision floats down from the sky above where he phased away too and all is well.

The Vision reminds his wife, the team and we the readers that although the Yellow Claw maybe dead there will always be more like him...
"And as long as any of them remain unchallenged---- the danger will Never end."
It's a mission statement that closes the issue on an ominous note.

So, the whole issue feels a bit like a rehash of last issue but more on the Claw's Bond-Villain plan. The spotlight on the Vision was fine enough but feels like it's been done before and the art, while not being Don Newton of last issue does feel like an extension of that issue.
The Avengers working as a team is nice to see, no real dissent-in-the-ranks as we see so often and the eight of them provide a good line-up as per the cover Roll Call with the addition of Jocasta. Jocasta works well with the team and is ordered to fire her eye-beams a couple of time like a well-honed battle tactic asset... even if she still is not an 'official member' yet and....Does Not Even Get Given One Line This Issue!!

All in all this is a perfectly functional issue but it doesn't feel like it's written by Michelinie after his previous issues and the art is not bad but it's pretty basic after previous glories of Byrne/Perez et al.
The series is really stagnating here, it needs something new don't you think...?

Next Issue... um... there's no word on where we go from here in the book....

Come Back...

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