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.