New Reviews of Old Comics
The Avengers have always been an odd conflict for me. There are times I really, really like them. Out of all the comic titles I’ve read and collected over the years The Avengers are probably the title I have the most issues and the longest continuous run of (I’m pretty sure I have late 100’s through mid 300s straight through) with plenty of other ones interspersed between 1 and 400. Either 35 or 36 is the earliest I have, and I was more than a little excited when I picked that up for about five bucks in 1990. Then there are the times I find the Avengers to be a bit boring; maybe it’s the writer, maybe it’s the roster of heroes, I don’t know. Still, I’m like a crack addict and if I see an issue of The Avengers I can’t turn it away. Unless I’m absolutely positive I already have it.
I found this one along with two other Avengers issues and bought them all (you can count on two other reviews in the near future). If my collection weren’t such a disorganized mess I would go through them and see if one of these is a double, but I’m pretty sure they’re new to me. This issue declares, in true 70’s Marvel fashion “The most unexpected confrontation ever!” with six Avengers bursting through a wall toward a man sitting in a chair with his back to us for dramatic effect. Ooooo, who could it be? So the story opens with the team returning to Earth and the Quinjet getting no response from Jarvis (long serving Avenger’s butler for the uneducated). Clearly something is wrong so the team springs into full action mode searching (and destroying) the mansion. Subtlety is an art lost on most super heroes, especially in the 70s. Turns out special agent to the National Security Council, Henry Peter Gyrich is the one who broke in and dismantled the defenses to display how any clown could get in. Breaking in is part of his justification to tell the Avengers their special Security Clearance is under review and might be revoked. This sets off a minor fight scene, complete with name calling, between Cap and Iron Man that the Scarlet Witch breaks up. Despite what the covers says, the main plot of this issue is a different fight scene between one of the Guardians of the Galaxy and some mysterious but powerful dude I’m not familiar with (yet). Starhawk of the Guardians is literally turned to dust by the mysterious but powerful dude, and ultimately brought back to life to keep his secret; a secret known only to people who read Avengers #169. I’m not one of them (yet). “First Blood” was written by Jim Shooter with pencils by George Perez. This must be some of Perez’s earliest work because while it’s good, it’s far from his work in the mid to late 80s when he was doing some great pencil work with Crisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman. You think the producers of the first Rambo movie stole the title from this comic?
Best Ads: “Super Sea Monkeys!” C’mon, you can admit it if you bought, sent away or begged for sea monkeys at some point in your life. There is no shame in it. So you got your sea monkeys and they were kind of disappointing; looked like crud floating in water. Another comic book ad rip-off, right? Well, these are Super Sea Monkeys so they’re even better. They eventually grow to a ½ inch long and can live up to a year or more. At one point the ad refers to Super Sea Monkeys as “freaks of nature”; if they were being sold today the copy writer would need to find a more politically correct term like “unusual but valuable contributors to society.” I found two surprising points in this ad. 1) Super Sea Monkeys only cost $1.50 including shipping and handling. Maybe that was a lot in 1977 dollars, but I still find it hard to believe anyone is making enough money to stay in business at a $1.50 per order. How many orders had to be filled just to pay for this ad? 2) Super Sea Monkeys are registered with the US Patent Office (#3,673,986). I didn’t know you could patent a living creature. Can you imagine being the guy who patented puppies? You’d be richer than Bill Gates or Warren Buffet combined! Think either of those guy ever wanted Sea Monkeys?