Avengers #275 (January 1987)
"Even a God Can Die!"
Writer: Roger Stern
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Tom Palmer
Doug: I think this was my first exposure to the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man. Isn't that a classic costume? I just love it. The helmet is cool, and today's cover makes a bold statement. Not quite as bold as when Hank donned the duds on Avengers #161, but I get a little giddy nonetheless. Jan had to be a mess at this point, didn't she? When Hercules was taken to the trauma unit, I wonder what was going through the minds of the assembled medical staff? Even though they went through the protocol of filling out the medical information, they had to assume that Herc's physiology was out of their league. One doctor does acknowledge the impermeability of Hercules' skin -- but could they possibly have been equipped to really save him? I'll stand by my assessment of Hyde, made last week. What a total nutjob!
Karen: Back at the mansion, Zemo begins recording a message to be sent to the media, but Cap interrupts him, demanding that he free Jarvis and the Black Knight so that they can get medical attention. Cap says that this whole attack is really about Zemo wanting revenge on him anyway, so why not let the others go? All this does is infuriate Zemo more, and he smacks Jarvis around. He tells Cap he wants to cause him pain, as he's realized that the Avengers are Cap's surrogate family now. Cap tells Zemo that no matter what he does, the Wasp is still free and she'll never stop -she'll organize another team of Avengers and eventually bring him to justice. Zemo decides to make another move, and makes a call to Creel and his companion Titania, directing them to the hospital. Meanwhile, Captain Marvel struggles, unsuccessfully at this point, to free herself from the darkforce dimension that Blackout has trapped her in.
Doug: I understand that Zemo had all the cards, but doesn't the story at this point smack of the classical Silver Age baddie-motif of toying with one's enemies? Really, with the exception of heroes strapped to a conveyor heading toward a huge buzzsaw, this scenario has all the hallmarks. I felt really badly for Jarvis in this scene. Who's a better human being, a more giving soul than he? And Zemo let him have it -- tied up and all. Cap's resolve is something, isn't it? In the dictionary next to "hero". I liked the rendering of the dark dimension that encased Captain Marvel -- it was reminiscent of Kirby's drawing's of space, the Negative Zone, etc. I've always found the Absorbing Man to be a fun villain, yet one who you know is always going to last just an issue until he's tricked into absorbing the properties of toilet paper or whatnot.
Karen: Back at the hospital, the Wasp confides to Ant-Man that it's her fault that all of this has happened. Her security measures weren't good enough, she couldn't earn Hercules' respect -Jan is questioning herself as leader. Ant-Man tries to tell her that she's being too hard on herself but she won't hear it. A doctor comes out of the emergency room and informs them that Hercules has passed away. It hits Jan hard. She asks to have a few moments alone with him. As she ponders what she could have done differently, the heart monitor suddenly beeps -Hercules isn't dead! She calls the doctors back and they discover he is still alive, but his heart is beating very slowly. As the medical staff attempts to revive him, the whole building shakes -they're under attack from the Absorbing Man and Titania!
Doug: Having been out of comics during the entire Yellowjacket fiasco, my memories of Jan were of her designing sexy costumes to entice Hank, mega-shopping sprees, etc. So I missed any organic transition of her personality from ditzy socialite to strong-willed leader. I must say -- I like the change. As a founding member, it only made sense that eventually some writer would tap into that history and make her a major player in the upper echelons of the roster of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Roger Stern did a fantastic job of blending her soft side with her iron will in the hospital scene. She really runs the gamut of emotions, all believable and well-played. Creel's entrance, with the properties of the bullets he's been shot with, was colored well -- very cool panel. Love the ball and chain as a weapon as well -- great visual.
Karen: At the mansion, Zemo and Hyde begin their psychological torture of Cap. They watch the assault on the hospital but Cap has faith in Wasp, despite the overwhelming odds against her. Zemo takes a picture of Cap and Bucky and shreds it before his face, while Hyde grabs Cap's original shield and crumples it. Cap remains calm but says, "I'll remember this, Zemo." Unable to get a reaction out of him, Zemo decides to up the ante and has Hyde begin beating Jarvis. It all occurs off-panel, but seeing the expressions on both Cap's and the Knight's faces lets one's imagination fill in the blanks -and it's not pretty.
Doug: Stern writes a real psychological angle into this story in this scene. We expected all of the slam-bang stuff, but the tearing of the photo and crumpling of the shield really struck a cord with me. This was a just a very personal assault, I suppose not unlike the Goblin's kidnapping of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121 -- really hits where you live. Again, the beating of Jarvis really sickened me, and the sound effect "KRAK" didn't help me any.
Karen: Back at the hospital, the Wasp and Ant-Man manage to hold off Creel and Titania with a mix of strategy and pure luck. It really helps that these two villains have a combined IQ of about 80. They're able to force Creel into human form and knock him out, and Titania -well, Ant-Man shrinks her down to ant size, and Wasp zaps her! The fight, which they appeared to be hopelessly outmatched, turns out to be a confidence booster. That, and the news that the doctors believe Hercules is going to live, give Wasp the resolve she needs to go after the bad guys. "The Masters of Evil still have control of the mansion...they still have hostages. But I swear they have won their last round! Now it's our turn!"
Doug: Absolutely loved the fight scene at the hospital. It was a real underdog story, and if it was a film the audience would have been jumping and cheering. Really thought it was smart and a great visual when Lang hit Titania with the shrinking gas. However, I have a question about Jan's powers -- when was it that Hank retooled her growth powers to allow her to shrink to a height of only 4 feet and retain her flight wings? I am pretty certain it was way after this story -- jeez, it wasn't into the storyline when she actually became bug-like, was it? Any help from our readers would be welcomed by this dude with the declining memory banks!
Doug: We're just getting rolling with this one -- Jan, Ant-Man, and Cap are all alive and well. Have to find a way to spring Cap and the Knight -- think they will?