In December, Marvel is releasing the hardcover "Avengers: The Coming of the Beast" which reprints #137-140 and #145-146 (Jl-O'75) and (Ma-Ap'76). Those issues are vivid ones from my childhood so I will walk through them again with some comments. Of course, these are my feelings only and SPOILER ALERTS are up!

 

#137- I remember this cover demanding my 9 year old self to buy it! The dynamic image of the Beast about to leap off into me gave me no choice. It was the first of only a few times that I directly asked my father for money (a WHOLE quarter!!) to buy a comic. Strangely enough, I wasn't reading the current Avengers, only the reprints in "Marvel Triple Action". Well, any book you haven't read is a new book!

 

The Englehart/Tuska/Colletta team worked well and I lucked out because as Thor put it, "We do Seek out New Avengers!" With the departure of the Swordsman and Mantis and the honeymoon of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, the others are feeling lonely so they ask former members to rejoin with limited success. Only Yellowjacket and the Wasp say yes. Iron Man nominates Moondragon (on a purely hormonal level, it seems) and Hawkeye storms off to travel to the 12th century to ask the Black Knight if he wants to re-up. Well, if he wants to stay in the past, I'd say no.

 

So the Avengers use the under-reconstruction Yankee Stadium as a test site for new applicants, after filming a TV spot to advertise the opening. Apparently heroes don't watch much TV because only one shows up: our blue-furred ex-X-Man, the Beast, disguised as Edgar G. Robinson! His make-up skills were a product of his "Amazing Adventures" days!

 

Unfortunately, the Avengers are soon attacked by the Stranger who, it seems, does watch TV. Thor and Iron Man are quickly taken out by deadly hover-mines. The Wasp is seriously injured, forcing Moondragon to knock out a frenzied YJ. So the Beast, with leaps and bounds and animal instincts, reaches the off switch and saves the day though the Stranger escapes.

 

My thoughts: Not only was this my first encounter with the Beast, but with Yellowjacket (my favorite Hank Pym identity) as well. I learned that the Hulk was a founding Avenger and that there was another team called the X-Men. Also Hawkeye hadn't mellowed from the "Marvel Triple Action" stories.

 

We got to see the Scarlet Witch in a bikini and the Vision in a bathing suit, which may have been the first time he wore anything else but his costume! Still why do you need more members if Vis and Wanda are only on their honeymoon? Indeed, they're back by #140.

 

The Stranger was an impressive villain though we soon find out things aren't always what they seem!

 

More to follow! 

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We got to see the Scarlet Witch in a bikini and the Vision in a bathing suit, which may have been the first time he wore anything else but his costume! Still why do you need more members if Vis and Wanda are only on their honeymoon? Indeed, they're back by #140.

Why indeed? Why ask why?
We got to see the Scarlet Witch in a bikini and the Vision in a bathing suit, which may have been the first time he wore anything else but his costume! Still why do you need more members if Vis and Wanda are only on their honeymoon? Indeed, they're back by #140.

Maybe by this point the other Avengers were aware enough to realize it was entirely possible that they would be captured by one of their enemies, or go off on an adventure of their own that would delay them.
But they knew that Vis and Wanda were coming back! They could have just asked Hank and Jan to fill-in but they were adamant about having a membership drive!

Also, the Beast made such an impact on me that I HAD to buy Marvel Team-Up#38 which came out soon after!
Avengers was one of the first three Marvel series I completed (the other two being Hulk and Captain America), and although I didn’t buy these particular issues new, I did acquire them as backissues when I was still very young. Although I still own the original issues, I did pre-order this particular volume and will likely have more to say about it after I’ve re-read the stories themselves.

I really like Marvel’s “Premiere Hardcover” format… for the most part, anyway. (I do have a few quibbles.) It’s funny: I could re-read any comic book in my collection at any time I wanted, but for the most part, for some reason I just plain don’t. I’ll often duplicate runs in one upscale format or another and re-read them then. I just like the collections.

I plan to post about Volume 54 (Thor: “If Asgard Should Perish” which reprints #242-253) when it’s released in November. Will you be buying that one?
I'm not sure, November and December are months I can't really splurge on for comics! And I too have the originals....somewhere! I think those Thor issues are from the same period as the Avengers ones!
I loved the Beast back in the day, and didn't realise that they had made a big deal of his joining up. My Essentials collection ends with the Kree-Skrull War #97, and my back-issues start at around #150, so maybe I should just get the three missing Essentials and 'complete the circle'.

I've recently read the storyline where the Beast become Blue and Furry, which I'd been curious about for ages, in Essential Classic X-Men #3, so this 'Coming of the Beast' sounds like a sequel to that.

What did the Vision look like in his swimmers? All red, I suppose? I've always thought his skin was his costume, like a plastic toy.

Hopefully he didn't have to do any heavy lifting on the beach if he'd removed his orthopaedic corset...
Looks like a red Martian Manhunter! Too bad Ultron shaved off the Original Torch's blond locks! At least he doesn't need sunscreen!

I don't have Essential Classic X-Men #3, did it reprint the Beast's entire Amazing Adventures run or just the first one? I do have Essential Avengers #6 which includes #136, an encore of Am Adv #12 where the Beast battles his transformation, two nosy women and Iron Man. It was to familiarize Avengers readers to the Beast though the story was only three years old!
Figserello said:
...maybe I should just get the three missing Essentials and 'complete the circle'.

You definitely should! You've never read the "Celestial Madonna" story? it features Kang, Immortus, time travel, the death of an Avenger, explains the Blue Area of the Moon and leads up to the Scarlet Witch marrying the Vision and Mantis marrying a tree!
Personally, I feel that Avengers #112-200, plus the Annuals and Giant-Size issues, are a high water mark in the title's 47 year history. It had conflict and drama without the bitterness of Avengers Dissembled or Civil War. Some say that it's not possible to create profitable comics without shocking plot twists, mindless violence and needless deaths but I strongly disagree!
On to #138, again with SPOILER ALERT up!!

The Avengers leave the hospital with the Wasp in very serious condition. The crowd outside murmurs about the weirdness of Moondragon and the Beast. Yellowjacket wants revenge against the Stranger. They head back to the mansion in a taxi!!

As they realize that Hawkeye hasn't returned from the past, they are probed by a mind-blast from the Stranger who is seeking out the Scarlet Witch, whose still on her apparently secret honeymoon with Speedo convert-hubby, the Vision. They decide to set a trap by pretending to fly off and warn Scarlet. Thor picks Moondragon to go with him, much to Iron Man's annoyance. It seems Shell-Head has a thing for Miss Bald-Head. Worse is Yellowjacket who is frantic, distraught and heading for (yet another) nervous breakdown.

The Stranger attacks Thor and Moondragon in the Florida Keys, only to be revealed as an illusion. However, IM, YJ and the Beast are able to track the energy signals to an orbiting spacecraft where they confront the Stranger who targets the Beast first while pinning down the others with laser beams striking at the four foot level.

The Beast eludes him and uses the classic "pretend to be Edward G. Robinson" ploy (made famous by Ike during the War) to startle the Stranger so badly that he is revealed to be ......the Toad! Give Englehart credit, he read a lot of back issues to come up with the Toad's plot, means and motivation. Long story short, he's mad Wanda married the Vision before he could propose to her. Yeah, if only he showed up earlier....

Yellowjacket, enraged, wants the Toad's blood but is stymied by the four foot high lasers. So he shrinks to under four feet tall, which he should NOT do (Please remember that for later) and pummels the Warty Whiner. So ends the Toad's romantic revenge.

Some thoughts: Yellowjacket is characterized much like Hawkman in the Bronze Age. When seperated from their wives, the big lugs fall apart, quickly and easily. YJ also shrinks which causes him much pain.

The banter between Thor and Iron Man over Moondragon may seem innocent but could she be manipulating them subtlely?

And the Beast wonders if there is truly a place for him in the Avengers. He sees them argue and rant and he hasn't even encountered Hawkeye yet!

So ends this new team of Avengers' first mission. Bigger things are to follow!
Frankly, I was a little surprised to see these issues (Avengers #137-140, 145-146) solicited last July as a collection in Marvel’s Premiere Hardcover format. Sandwiched as they are between the “Celestial Madonna” saga and the story of the Squadron Supreme (featuring the Avengers debut of penciller George Perez), these transition issues, perhaps unfairly, tend to get lost in the shuffle. They feature two stories, the first written by then-regular scribe Steve Englehart and drawn by George Tuska, and the second a fill-in tale by Tony Isabella and Don Heck.

I don’t usually think of #137 as a “The Old Order Changeth” issue, but I guess it is, even though the Beast is the only new new Avenger to respond to the try-outs at Yankee Stadium. (Moondragon also joins at this time, but she’s a failed Celestial Madonna candidate left over from the previous story.) The four issues culminate in a reversal of issue #93 as, this time, the Vision must journey inside Hank Pym (rather than vice versa) in order to save his life.

Issues #145-146 present the unremarkable tale of “The Assassin,” a last minute substitution slotted two chapters in to the Squadron Supreme story when the Dreaded Deadline Doom struck, most memorable to me because I knew the dealer who owned the original page of art for the splash page of chapter three, which featured Iron Man and Thor in a hospital emergency room awaiting word on the condition of the injured Captain America. He had it priced cheap, and I made the mistake of thinking I could buy it whenever I wanted. The store owner leased a corner of his shop to a guy who dealt in baseball cards and sports memorabilia, though, and he bought it.

Drat! I still regret not buying that page (for 20 bucks!) when I had the chance.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
Figserello said:
...maybe I should just get the three missing Essentials and 'complete the circle'.

You definitely should! You've never read the "Celestial Madonna" story? it features Kang, Immortus, time travel, the death of an Avenger, explains the Blue Area of the Moon and leads up to the Scarlet Witch marrying the Vision and Mantis marrying a tree!

I know. It's a shameful gap in my reading, considering how highly I rate myself as an Avengers fan. I have read the Celestial Madonna when it was collected, but it was too much like watching a few sequential episodes of a long-running soap to get the most out of it.

There are two impulses at work which has prevented me from getting them so quickly.

One is that I know there are only a finite amount of great 70's stories featuring the heroes of my childhood and I'm sorta 'saving them up' for some fine day. I'll be a little sad when I've read them all!

The other is that you get a real impression reading the Essentials that the stories in them are best enjoyed as part of a vast tapestry of interlinking, continually developing stories. Often as standalone stories individual issues aren't much cop, but to see characters like the Inhumans, or the Knights of Wundagore, or Iron Man's 3rd rate rogues gallery grow and develop and be affected by events in different books under a host of writers, is something that you can't get elsewhere. Arguably not even in modern comics as we've lost that long ago.

To that end, I'm trying to read the Essentials in chronological order, because I hate seeing references in them to stories that I havn't read yet. They are like spoilers to me!

For now I have to read the last 60's adventures of Iron Man and Daredevil before starting systematically on the 70's Essentials.

I know both of these have luscious Gene Colan art, but I suspect the writing on them is a little dodgey, so I'm at a little roadblock for the moment. I also have to read the final Jack Kirby Fantastic Fours, and I definitely will be sad when I've read all of those...


Philip Portelli said:
I don't have Essential Classic X-Men #3, did it reprint the Beast's entire Amazing Adventures run or just the first one? I do have Essential Avengers #6 which includes #136, an encore of Am Adv #12 where the Beast battles his transformation, two nosy women and Iron Man. It was to familiarize Avengers readers to the Beast though the story was only three years old!


Whoever is in charge of the Marvel Essentials is doing a wonderful job, I'd have to say. To take just one example, the stonkingly large Essential Classic X-Men volume 3 apparently has every* appearance of the original X-Men in other comics between the final Adams/O'Neill issue and Giant-Size X-Men #1, including Hank McCoy's entire run on amazing adventures, and their team-up appearance.

 

This was a real treat as one of the very first Marvel UK anthologies I ever bought had human-ish Hank with the original X-Men fighting Sauron in one story, and as a blue beastie fighting Nefaria with the Avengers in another, and it was looking like the key story where he changed was always going to be too minor to be reprinted.

*subject to corrrection by sharp-eyed, long-memoried fanmen...

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