New Reviews of Old Comics
Yet another overly dramatic Avengers cover lures you into this exciting issue. There are about two dozen super do-gooders surrounding one government liaison, Gyrich, who declares “Seven of you will REMAIN as Avengers – the rest of you are OUT!” Hercules is making a fist, Iron Man is being held back by Captain America and Beast is in deep thought, to name a few. Gyrich is wearing a light green sweater vest with dark green checked pants; he looks like a bad used car salesman and “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” are cow-towing to him. None of these people should ever be afraid of any man wearing a sweater vest. Thor, Hercules and Wonder Man alone should cause governments of the world to tremble, but no one ever writes from that perspective.
David Michelinie wrote “On the Matter of Heroes!” while John Byrne and Gene Day provided the visuals. It opens with Beast and Wonder Man taking in a movie. I only point this out because it contains a bit of “fumetti” where the artist took a still photo from a Robin Hood movie and made it part of the comic page. Normally I’m not a huge fan of fumetti, but it worked here giving a “movie screen” affect to the page. When our heroes return to Avenger’s Mansion they are promptly attacked by the defense systems leading to a mindless fight scene against Doctor Octopus like tentacles. After more destruction to the mansion we meet Scott Lang a Stark Industry technician who is working on security updates. Good thing Scott becomes Ant-Man later on because he apparently blows as a tech guy. Avengers Mansion must be the ultimate “money-pit” of a home for Tony Stark. He probably spends more cash fixing the joint up after his teammates’ actions than he does after super-baddies.
Ultimately the Avengers meet up with Gyrich who follows through with the cover’s promise and announces the seven government sanctioned Avengers. Iron Man, Vision (damn), Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Wasp and Falcon. Hawkeye goes nuts because Falcon isn’t even an Avenger, but Gyrich points out the government requires a minority for affirmative action policies and apparently the Beast being blue doesn’t meet those standards. All of this is too much excitement for Quicksilver, who passes out. Thankfully there IS a doctor in the house as Thor changes back to “lame” Doctor Blake, who doesn’t know what’s wrong, making him about as knowledgeable as my doctor. Before the story ends, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver’s sister, also passes out. Turns out some hobo looking guy is their dad and has come back home to turn them into caged marionette puppets (or something) and that’s how the story ends. Pretty typical Avengers issue, which is what super hero comics are all about for me.
Aside #1: I started collecting comics right around John Byrne’s zenith as a comic creator and for me page 14 panel five is the prototypical John Byrne drawing of a person; character talking out the side of his/her mouth. It was like a running joke among me and my comic collecting buddies back in the day. If you hadn’t noticed it before, you will from now on when you read John’s work. Beyond that I’m a huge Byrne fan; loved his run on Fantastic Four.
Aside #2: In the Bullpen Bulletins Stan Lee writes about once publishing a MAD like magazine called SNAFU which struck me as odd. Was SNAFU approved by the Comics Code Authority? Because the name alone should be enough to keep it from getting the stamp of goodness from that august body.
Best Ad: Opposite the Bullpen Bulletin is “The Incredible Hulk Changes His Mind!” where he is being used to hawk Hostess Cupcakes. Hulk walk through forest and smash things, complain about humans and knock boy from tree. Boy throw Hostess Cupcakes at humans from behind bush, make humans think Hulk good. Now Hulk like humans, but may change mind tomorrow. I’ve never been a big Hostess Cupcakes fan; the chocolate frosting is way too sweet for me. This ad stands out because the Hulk looks more like the Grinch in most panels; I’ve never understood why they have the Hulk talk like an idiot? Also the boy doesn’t share any of his cupcakes with the Hulk, only the humans chasing the Hulk. What kind of lesson is this teaching the impressionable young readers; to reward the bad guys and ignore the hero? That just doesn’t seem right.