Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ain't Nothin' Like Halloween in Rutland, Vermont! Part 2012

Amazing Adventures #16 (January 1973)
"And the Juggernaut Will Get You... If You Don't Watch Out!"
Steve Englehart-Bob Brown/Marie Severin/Frank McLaughlin

Doug:  Hey, we're back to New England for our 4th annual visit to the Halloween parade that was featured in several Marvel and DC comics in the Bronze Age.  Today we're dropping in on the Bouncing Blue Beast, who Karen and I will tell you never looked better than when rendered by George Perez.  Unfortunately, Sir George isn't the penciller on this ish -- he doesn't do the honors for a couple of years and in the pages of the Avengers.  In Amazing Adventures you were dealt the usual hand of Tom Sutton; today we get a fill-in from Bob Brown.  Now I generally find Brown to be serviceable.  I have liked his work in Daredevil, the Avengers, and the Batman books.  But here...

Karen: I don't know what's going on here; I found Bob Brown acceptable if unexciting on Avengers but this is not his best work, particularly his version of Juggernaut. 

Doug:  If I was driving in some heavily wooded area and a huge blue ape-looking fellow lumbered out into the road, I'd assume I'd just had a sasquatch sighting.  Not so in this case, as it's our hairy hero Hank McCoy who jumps across the pavement in front of a Mustang being driven by none other than our scribe Steve Englehart!  Along for the ride are Len and Glynis Wein and Gerry Conway.  You might notice Marie Severin credited as one of this book's artists -- on the splash page credits, she is listed as the "caricaturist".  Our creative crew leaps from their ride to see the Beast leap off into the brush beside the road.  Marvel's stalwarts are on their way to Rutland, Vermont to meet Tom Fagan and participate in the All Hallow's Eve goings-on.  As for the Beast?  He bounds to a spot where his civvies have been stored -- complete with his mask (OK, don't get us going on that again...).  His lady friend Vera has been left by the side of the road, waiting for her man to return (Hank, there are bears in Vermont).  He does, and tells her that there's a car just up the road in which they can hitch a ride.

Karen: OK, what the heck are Hank and Vera doing just sitting by the side of the road? There's no real explanation as to how they got there. And don't get me started on the super-life-like masks again! I'm reading this out of the Marvel Masterworks edition and Steve Englehart mentions in the foreword that this story was part of a three-way cross-over between this title, Thor, and believe it or not, Justice League (unofficially of course)! I do have Thor #207, which is the second part of this tale. But I've never seen the JLA that finishes it all off.

Doug:  Hank and Vera run up to our friends from New York, and curiously Englehart tells them that the muffler fell off the car and the heater doesn't work -- yet he's wearing a tank top!  They allow Hank and Vera to get in, and away they go.  But what's that big red circle opening in the sky in their wake?  Why it's the Juggernaut's means of dropping back to terra firma.  We get a recap of Juggy's whereabouts -- seems he's been trapped in oblivion, cast there by Eternity after having been confined in Nightmare's realm (sheesh -- Juggy's been on the wrong side of some heavy hitters!).  Now the premise for the remainder of the plot is pretty thin:  the Juggernaut's holder will drop our big baddie on Rutland, VT -- a place where Dr. Strange was a year ago and where the Beast is this day.  The Juggernaut will be able to follow the Beast's emanations and basically do to our hero what he will -- hatred and revenge are front and center.  Nice guy.

Karen: OK, you brought it up in our little editorial post last weekend: Juggy is a big fat blob! I don't know what Brown was going for here, but I'm not feeling powerful and unstoppable here. More like, where's the couch and the Fritos. He looks like a friggin' blimp, for Pete's Sake. The drawing above is actually one of the better ones. 

Doug:  Once the car arrives in Rutland, everyone piles out.  Englehart tells Hank and Vera that they are heading to Fagan's, but that it's invite-only.  Hank says no sweat and asks Vera if she wants to check out the parade.  She replies that they have to get to Canada, and cryptically tells Hank that she needs the very best scientist experienced in mutations.  We then get one of the treats found in these sorts of stories, and that's seeing all of the Marvel and DC character costumes.  By the way, if you want a little retrospective on the real goings-on at Rutland back in the Bronze Age, we'd encourage you to purchase yourself a copy of the current Back Issue.  As the parade kicks off, the Bullpen meets back up with Hank and Vera and tells them that they can go to Fagan's party after all.  But as more smalltalk commences there's a commotion just over Hank's left shoulder -- it's the Juggernaut!

Karen: I'm glad you mentioned that Back Issue article. After reading the comics about the Rutland parades for so many years, it was great to see actual photographs from the parades and parties over the years.

Doug:  The Juggernaut destroys a float while he moves toward Hank -- and the Beast's emanations.  Again, hate and revenge are the agenda of Juggernaut's day, but as he gets close the red circle in the sky opens again and abruptly removes him from the scene.  Somehow in the melee, though, Glynis Wein went missing.  As the Marvel boys fan out to search for her, Hank orders Vera to go check into the motel.  This frees him to go full-on Beast mode and search for the Juggernaut.  He doesn't have to search long, as that mysterious red circle drops Juggy right in front of ol' Hank.  Hank tries to attack by chucking a bunch of rocks, but you know how effective that is.  What follows is a 7-page slugfest where lots of trees, a few boulders, and -almost- a dam are shredded.  But Hank fortuitously falls off the dam and gets himself a breather.

Karen: Yeah, Hank knows he can't beat the Juggernaut, so he leads him away from the town, and tries to figure out what to do. That makes sense.

Doug:   Then Hank does something unexplainable.  He gets back into his civvies and heads up to Tom Fagan's party -- I don't know, drawing the Juggernaut right into the midst of a bunch of innocent bystanders??  We see that Roy and Jeannie Thomas have joined the crowd, but before Hank can find out anything about Glynis the Juggernaut bursts through the wall.  Hank runs, knowing that somehow Juggy can sense his whereabouts.  Heading up the staircase and into the attic, Hank decides to cower on the floor.  But as the Juggernaut draws closer, Hank whirls, whipping his mask off (ah, the mask again) -- and scares the bejeezus out of the Juggernaut!  This creates an opportunity for Hank to launch himself at his foe and rip the Juggernaut's helmet off.  And you know what that means -- a quick and definite decline in mystical power.

Karen: Yeah, it made absolutely no sense that Hank lead Juggernaut back to a house full of people! That was just nuts. Almost as if there had been a miscommunication between writer and artist.Also, perhaps I misunderstood the reason Juggernaut needed the helmet. I thought it protected him from a mental attack by Professor X. I didn't think he lost his might when it was removed.

Doug:  Now it's the Juggernaut who makes tracks.  He runs right out of the house and hops into Englehart's Mustang!  Needless to say it gets destroyed and Hank pours on the attack.  The Juggernaut's no match and succumbs quickly, aging rapidly and getting visibly smaller and weaker.  As the Beast finally lays a hand on him the red circle in the sky appears and whisks the Juggernaut away -- to die, he says!  Back with the Bullpen, Glynis has been discovered and when asked where she was tells that she was in a place she doesn't remember, but had a pretty good time.  Huh?  What are we to make of that?  Anyway, the Beast saunters away, to the forest where he stands in front of a full moon -- until the dawn of the next day.  Vera?

Karen: Obviously the Juggernaut recovered. I think maybe Glynis might have gone over to the DC universe in that JLA issue, but I'm not 100% sure about it. Anybody know for sure? I thought this was a pretty weak story, that was not helped at all by the art.

Doug:  "Mixed bag" would be putting it mildly on this one.  The art ended up being serviceable on all characters except the Juggernaut who just looked fat.  I didn't care for the coloring in the Masterworks, as the Beast was way too dark a shade of blue.  But Bob Brown brought to the table what I'd generally expect.  As to Englehart's script... the inclusion of himself and the Bullpen, while not unusual in these stories, seemed a distraction and a useless plot vehicle.  And Glynis Wein's disappearance?  Your guess remains as good as mine.


MOCK! said...

One of my "things" has been to get all the Rutland issues (I grew up there, met Tom a few times, attended the parade...), this was one of the most difficult for me to get...and I felt the same stuff you did....sort of a mish-mash...

Anonymous said...

I so desperately wanted these AA Beast issues when I was little that I feel a perverse loyalty to them no matter the quality.

I agree about Perez on Hank, but I also loved the way Byrne drew him. You really felt the fuzziness of his fur in Byrne’s art, whereas here it’s just basically blue skin with hairy edges.

Karen – I agree about the helmet. Prof X got the Torch in to ‘dazzle’ (or something) Juggie long enough to get his hat off and then Charlie brain-blasted him. I don’t believe his powers were linked to it. Given that this is only Juggie’s 4th outing, it’s a bit early for continuity mistakes. I remember being utterly spellbound by that first Xmen story in #12-13, when the Prof makes them dig defences all round the mansion and the Juggernaut is just glimpsed as a hulk rumbling inexorably towards them. We’re not quite in that league here. It is nice to see Englehart’s post-modern writing techniques in their infancy, mixing (perhaps uncomfortably) with his need to sum up everything that has gone before. You can see even here, he has to tie in all of Juggie’s previous appearances before he can move on with the story. Who would have guessed that a couple of years later, he’d be tying up everything all the way back to Marvel Comics #1 from 1939.

One note though: I just completed my Amazing Adventures collection and am battling my way though them starting from #1. I have to say, considering that the art is Kirby on the Inhumans and Big John on the Widow, you would have high hopes, but the quality of the writing (Kirby’s dialogue and Gary Freidrich’s plotting and dialogue) is so poor I am struggling. Compared to the first few issues (yes, I know it gets better), Englehart looks like genius here.


William Preston said...

Judging by her costume, I'm guessing Glynis turns up in the Justice League crossover.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I gotta say, I've never been much of a fan of the blue, furry Beast. I always thought the human version was much more interesting of a character because it made the tension between his human and bestial sides more apparent.

The furry version usually became comic relief. The Amazing adventure stories don't seem to work much either if this example is at all representative.

Anonymous said...

Hi Inkstained – not sure if our peers will agree, but the strong point of those AA Beast stories for me was the not the super-hero aspect (which failed almost completely), but Hank re-mutating himself, his double-life, and a lot of subplots around the sinister Brand corporation, the head of security Buzz Baxter determined to track down the Beast, his wife, Patsy Walker, blackmailing Hank (these last two characters having a long back-story dating back to the 1940’s and Patsy being one of the few continuously running characters who went right through Timely & Atlas and into the Marvel era) and on top of all that a mystery woman stalking Hank, who turns out to be Vera, his old gf from the Xmen days, but even she turns out to have a secret agenda involving former X baddie/goodie/we’re not sure, the Mimic.

Left to develop, I think we’d have seen proto-Englehart develop some long range stories as he did in the Avengers and the super-heroics would have improved alongside.


Doug said...

But the rubber mask...


humanbelly said...

Ooh-- I now get to do my best Paul Harvey impersonation, saying- "And That's the Rest of the Story!" I tried this a little earlier in the morning, and my whole darned post vanished (Gnargh!).

This was effectively the Beast's final feature appearance in Amazing Adventures, because the following issue (#17) jumped right out of the storyline to give us a Re-telling the Origin (largely reprint) issue. This did have some new framing sequence material, which ended (I'm pretty sure) with Hank delivering a surprisingly melancholy soliloquy as he lumbered upstage into the sunset.
The whole road-trip to Canada with Vera plotline was returned to a couple of months later in (of all places) Incredible Hulk #161. Vera had indeed enlisted Hank to come to the aid of poor old Calvin Rankin (The Mimic), whose powers had developed beyond his control. He had opted to isolate himself in a remote part of Canada, and Vera was determined to help him. Unfortunately, this coincided w/ ol'Greenskin's extended Canadian jaunt at the time. . . and a rather confusing tussle ensued. I. . . don't remember whether or not Calvin died (again) as a result.

As a side note-- this was an early example of a surprising tendency to use the Hulk's mag as a vehue to wrap up other failed series. The most prominent instance would have been a bit later in issues #176-178, which were use to wrap up the original Adam Warlock/Counter Earth series-- which was touted as being a classic that would be heralded for generations to come, and has naturally been COMPLETELY (and not inappropriately) forgotten. It does NOT hold up well with later readings, I'm afraid. . .


humanbelly said...

. . . and yeah, the rubber mask. Even upon first reading those issues, it's COMPLETELY impossible to suspend one's disbelief. You have to wonder if any of these writers or editors have actually SEEN a rubber mask??

I mean, effectively, even a good one would be no more malleable or expressive than the William Shatner mask used in HALLOWEEN. . .


Anonymous said...

Yeah, well, the rubber mask, what can I say? The levels of ridiculousness are more astounding even than normal i.e. Hank worked for a super secret corporation, where the Head of Security was constantly in his face, apparently without noticing it was made of latex at any point.

Likewise, Vera actually kissed him without realising his chops were props. And that was after years of going out with him previously. You’d have thought she would have said ‘Hank, I don’t remember getting skid marks when I used to kiss you’. And, you would have thought that running around Vermont, where everyone else had a rubber face, she would have thought ‘hey wait a minute’ but nope. Maybe she previously dated Jim Carrey.


Karen said...

What HB, you didn't like "Adam Warlock, Super-Star" guest-starring the Hulk as Judas? With such great lines as, "High Evolutionary, why have you forsaken me?" Yeah, it was a bit much. Of course, as a kid, most of it went over my head, but in retrospect, it's a bit appalling.

david_b said...

I didn't like Hank too much in early Avengers stories, but he does tend to grow on you.

I agree with MOCK!, would like to grab all the Rutland issues.

Thanks for the heads up on Thor 207.., will have to pick that one up.

Humanbelly said...

I'll tell you, Karen, I've been thinking for a while about suggesting that particular Hulk 3-parter for you guys' review treatment. Not because it was actually "good", per se, but because it was such an oddball, ambitious over-reach. . . and definitely a quirky Bronze Age artifact. It's also coupled with the blatant use of several well-known Watergate conspirators as supporting bad-guys (complete w/ Ani-Men caricature visages).

The Ray Bradbury quote at the end, though, has legitimately stayed with me all my life: "Are there mangers on other worlds?"-- and has had a hand in shaping my own personal religious outlook. (Credit Mr. Bradbury, mind you--).

Aaaand I apologize for this shameless threadjack (ooooh, but Karen, you pulled me right in, you wiley devil!)


Doug said...

Hey HB (and Inkstained, too) --

You guys make it through the hurricane unscathed, relatively speaking?


Fred W. Hill said...

I got this one, along with the Thor issue, which became one of the leads into the Avengers/ Defenders clash the next summer.
As a 10 year old kid when I got this, the art didn't bother me at all -- it wasn't until after I got my first glimpse of some stellar Starlin art a few months later in Captain Marvel #27 that I really began to take note of so-so comics art vs. really great comics art. Speaking of which, bad as that Adam Warlock as Counter-Earth Christ conclusion was in Hulk, Starlin used that basic premise to tell one of the greatest tales of the Bronze Age!
Hank McCoy's amazing adventure in Rutland doesn't reach such heights but I found it fun enough 40 years ago even if now consider it rather bleh. Silver & Bronze age Marvel had a thing for those silly masks (including that issue of Captain America & the Falcon wherein the Golden Archer's mask is removed to reveal -- ta da, Clint Barton with his Hawkeye mask on! Of course, back in those days most Marvel artists hadn't come up with a way to make Clint, Hank Pym, Steve Rogers and Donald Blake distinguishable when not in their heroic guises.
I missed the follow-up story in the Hulk, but I did get the Beast's final appearance in A.A., and if I recall correctly, Starlin did the brief framing bits, with a melancholy Hank lit only by candles. The reprinted origin story in-between was a bit lame, but the frame was very nice.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was good at picking artist's styles, but.....who did that cover?

B Smith

Doug said...

That cover is credited to Jim Starlin and Frank Giacoia -- both of whom had a much better handle on the Juggernaut than did Bob Brown!


humanbelly said...

Oh gosh, thanks for asking, Doug.
Our immediate region (Baltimore/Washington) took a bit of a hit- sadly, with 4 lives lost, I believe- but it was nowhere near as devestating as that blasted derecho storm this past summer. Our much-maligned (deservedly) electric utility- PEPCO- truly had its act together this time around, and this is the first major weather event ever where we didn't lose power at our house. Between that previous freak storm clearing the most vulnerable foliage, and PEPCO's aggressive trimming program afterward, it all held up.

Now, the cold shift in temperature is a bit unfortunate, 'cause the HB household has been w/out a working furnace for about 3 weeks (contractor's coming tomorrow finally), so the temp. in the kitchen stands at about 56 degrees right now. . .

(Plus my Mom's been visiting and is convinced that every development of any type is absolutely sounding our knell of doom. Her flight out today is not cancelled, so it all works out. . . )


Inkstained Wretch said...

Arlington, VA, where I live, wasn't hit nearly as hard as NJ or NY. Basically, we had the equivalent of a big thunderstorm. A few downed trees, the occasional power outage, but nothing major.

MikeS said...

The Weins, Gerry Conway and Steve Engelhart pop up in Rutland in Justice League # 103, where they are all magically powered and controlled by Felix Faust.

Related Posts with Thumbnails