Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BAB Classic: Three Cows Shot Me Down! Avengers #92

NOTE:  This post was originally published on 24 October 2011.

Avengers #92 (September 1971)
"All Things Must End!"
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sal Buscema
Inker: George Roussos

Karen: We've had some complaints about the covers of the previous issues in this multi-part review. But I think I can safely say, this is a fantastic cover. The sense of shame and rejection in the departing Avengers, the haughtiness of the old guard, and the use of color to show the setting sun, all add up to a very memorable cover. This was the first issue of Avengers I ever had, and it is burned into my mind.

Doug: I couldn't agree m
ore, on all points. I am looking forward to further conversation in the coming weeks on the merits (or demerits) of Neal Adams' pencils. But I'll stand by all of your comments above, and add the word "majesty" to your description of the Founders.

Karen: Our tale opens with the Avengering trio of the Vision, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch all hanging out in the mansion in civilian attire. It's really odd to see the Vision wearing a turtleneck sweater and slacks apparently over his costume! Jarvis comes bursting through the door, alarmed, nearly knocking Wanda over. He shows the team a newspaper article. The technicians whom the team had rescued have gone public about the Kree plot the Avengers foiled. Pietro is furious -they had sworn the men to secrecy, fearing that news of an alien invasion might cause a panic. Goliath shows up and they turn on the TV to see Senato
r H. Warren Craddock, who has been appointed the head of the new Alien Activities Commission. He states that he has a list of 153 "model citizens" who are actually alien spies...uh oh.

Doug: I'm wondering if Roy and Sal got together
on the "when" of this story. Not only is the Vision wearing a turtleneck, but Pietro has long sleeves on as well. Guess Manhattan in July can be chilly? I thought the banter in this scene was strange -- we just don't see the Avengers in this situation very often. I thought it seemed more appropriate for the X-Men or the Fantastic Four. And why is Clint super-sized throughout this issue? While I've criticized the couture of our heroes, seeing a giant always big is a pet peeve of mine akin to seeing heroes always in costume (which we thankfully don't in this story). By the way, did you think seeing Vizh with regular clothes on (how about that he still had his gauntlets on??) was any weirder than seeing him strutting his stuff in only a Speedo when he and Wanda were on their honeymoon (#140 maybe?)?

Karen: I guess that was the first time
I realized he was red all over!

Doug: This whole Craddock thing already smacks of the McCarthy era here in the States. I'm certain that's what Roy was going for.

Karen: Oh, without a doubt. As the Avengers steam over Craddock's comments, Rick Jones and Captain Marvel enter the room. The good Captain suggests that he s
hould give himself up and not sully the team's good name. But Wanda and Pietro are having none of that, even remarking that Mar-Vell helped save the Earth. But then good old Clint jumps in. He figures maybe Mar-Vell should turn himself in, thinking it would calm down the populace and then the team could root out the real spies. The Vision quickly shows him the folly of his thinking, saying that if Mar-Vell can be held for no reason other than the fact that he's an alien, what's to prevent that from happening to anyone? It's not surprising that a team of misfits would side to protect the innocent Captain.

Doug: I've thought that Roy has changed Clint's "voice" from his former Hawkeye-brashness. This Clint Barton is a bit more mature. It hasn't set well with me, as the clothes should not make the man.

Karen: Although safe within the mansion -which apparently is outside the reach of the law, federal or local - Marvel chafes at being there, when he should be either freeing his people from Ronan's oppression or battling the Skrulls with
them. Suddenly a crowd of protestors appear outside the mansion, demanding that the Captain be handed over. A helicopter attempts a landing on the mansion roof but is coming in too fast. Mar-Vell leaps out to try to prevent it from crashing, but he's unable to do it. The Vision becomes intangible and flies right out of his clothes and through the roof, using his own body to stop the copter from crashing through. The pilot turns out to be Carol Danvers, the Air Force officer the team met the previous issue. She's fine, but Wanda is upset -where's the Vision? He soon pops up, none the worse for wear. But the mutant girl frets over the Vision, who tells her she is "far too emotional about...certain things." Here we get our first glimpse of Pietro's temper towards the Vision, as he nearly starts a fight with the android over his response to his sister. However this is interrupted by SHIELD planes buzzing over head.

Doug: Yeah, what was the deal with that whole jurisdiction stuff? Do you think that was ammunition for the whol
e Gyrich storyline a few years later? I thought it was typical Pietro that he was joking with the Vision at the beginning of the tale, but turned on him in a flat second when he felt Wanda was threatened. Vizh's defense mechanisms betrayed the fact that on the inside he really did feel as a human feels. By the way, had you ever seen that SHIELD insignia before?

Karen: That was a weird insignia -I don't think it was seen before or after this issue! But did you notice that Fury was without his trademark eyepatch in the inset circle?

Doug: This is as good a time as any for our artwork interlude. Is it just me, or was Sal at times channeling his inner Don Heck? I just saw some Heck-like figurework (and even facial expressions). I didn't think George Roussos served Sal as well as Sal had served himself, or even as well as Sam Grainger. Admittedly, I have been reading from the trade
paperback and the coloring, etc., may add to my opinion.

Karen: I'm using the TPB too, but I didn't get any real Heck-fl
ashes from Sal here. The planes climb up and out of sight. Carol Danvers says she has a farm upstate where Marvel could stay until things settle down. The Avengers agree that this is a good idea and provide them with a quinjet. The two fly off and easily escape from Nick Fury and his SHIELD jets. Fury gets a reprimand from Craddock on his 'vizeo' screen. Dum Dum Dugan questions Fury as to why they flew in such a loose formation. Fury responds that he saw Japanese-American relocation camps during the war, and how they affected the people on both sides of the fences. "I didn't do that for Marvel, ya old walrus. I did it for America!"

Doug: God bless Nick Fury.

Karen: In the meantime the Avengers are served a summons and show up at the city courthouse, which is surrounded by anti-Avengers protestors. The Alien Activities Commission has called for a special h
earing. Craddock states that the commission is concerned that the nation has been infiltrated by aliens, and that certain humans -"and others"- may be aiding them. The three Alaskan technicians testify first. They tell about the Kree plans to devolve humanity, and also question why the Avengers made them promise to keep quiet. Next up, are Mr. Fantastic and the Thing, the first Earth men to encounter the Kree. Richards backs the Avengers up, saying he trusts their judgment. However the Thing is uncharacteristically harsh, saying these aren't the Avengers he knows, and that even if Captain Marvel is innocent they still should have made him show up at court. "Super-heroes like them four, we don't need!" This comment sets off Goliath and he has to be restrained. It just amuses the Thing, who casually says, "Let the big man go. I ain't punched out a giant in a spell."

Doug: How about a summons that makes you testify on the same day? That's a speedy trial if I've ever heard of one! I can understand why the scientists would have been upset; not sure why they wouldn't have trusted the Avengers' judgement. But hey, being turned into a caveman would be traumatic, no? Something amiss with the FF? Ben was gruff, but I always felt he'd be somewhat of a "superhero fraternity" sort of guy.

Karen: Next the Vision takes the stand, but Craddock questions the
value of his testimony, as he is a robot who could be told what to say. Thomas does a nice job here as the Vision makes an impassioned plea for Craddock to "call off this witch hunt" before it does "irreparable harm!" He seems to be reaching the crowd, but Craddock calls the room to order. In the midst of all this, Rick recalls a dream he had the night before, where Mar-Vell was attacked by something at Carol's farm. he suddenly feels that it was no dream, that Mar-Vell is in real danger. He bolts out of the court room, and Craddock demands his return, and adjourns the court.
Doug: There's some real growth taking place in the Vision in this storyline. We saw some comments on our last review about the change from standard word balloons, to the polygon-shaped word balloons with the heavy borders. This is good stuff. Craddock's a flipping idiot.

Karen: The Avengers return to the mansion to find broken windows and a huge mess, both on the outside and the inside. Jarvis apologizes for what has happened, saying he turned off the security systems so none of the protestors would be harmed. The Avengers tell him he did the right thing. Suddenly a voice booms and says, "But you four did not!" Startled, they turn to see the Big Three -Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America, who tells the team that they have disgraced them, and therefore they are disbanding the team -"For all time." The shell-shocked quartet staggers out of their former home. Can things get any worse?

Doug: Hey, in regard to the smash-up of the mansion -- wow, did this story really happen all in the space of one day? I know we live in the era of decompressed storytelling (not that I care any more), but this baby was on fast-forward the whole way. I thought the entrance of the Founders was a surprise, and the finish was so abrupt that it felt to me like Roy just ran out of pages. Now, I'll give you that it is certainly shockingly impactful executed in this manner. But it did feel like the book crashed to a halt.

Karen: The story is really picking u
p steam now. The Craddock plot dominated this issue and really made you feel for this oddball Avengers team. These heroes were definitely the anti-establishment team; it was genius to have the original 'old guard' show up and tear them down. In some ways, this feels almost like an X-Men story, with the heroes being hated by the public they serve.

Doug: And we've seen this series of events in some FF books we've reviewed as well. I'm looking forward to Neal Adams coming on board next issue. If you believe his take on his role in the Kree/Skrull War, he served as co-plotter. I guess if they did it with the Marvel Method, then maybe Adams was even more than that. We shall see...


david_b said...

This was undoubtibly one of the most important Avengers issues ever. The cover was good this time (Iron Man actually looked like he had a nose, which is ironic..), and yes, with the comments on 'speedy story-telling', all the compressed chain of events serves to rachet up the tension, as if everything's happening at once.

I'd explain Ben's rashness as a by-product of his emotional turmoil from the FF storyline at this time, where Ben's metamorphing back and forth had terrible repercussions. The 'big three' coming back certainly added a huge weight to this otherwise fast-paced chapter, adding the 'gridning halt' at just the right time.

Also, Mar-Vell was drawn alright, but Starlin would go on to do a much better job shortly.

I was never a big fan of Adams Avengers art; spectacular in a way, but didn't feel quite fitting, Marvel-style, especially after all the Sal art leading up to this.

Imagine yourself being one of the top quarterbacks of a winning team at their most important game, then being switched out in the last quarter by some other well-admired quarterback from another team. I don't quite know how to explain it anyother way.

All in all, this issue ranks higher than ish 93 for me, primarily for the cover and Sal's excellent art.

The Groovy Agent said...

Is it just me, or does it look like Sal modeled Mar-Vell after Jimmy Stewart?

dbutler16 said...

I remember the Vision lounging on the beach in his trunks during their honeymoon, and like Karen, that was the first time I realized that he’d red all over. I can only think that Clint was giant sized the whole time because it’s more visually arresting that way, but I agree that that, along with these characters always being in costume, is a bit silly.

This is typical Marvel, though, with the public turning against superheroes who’ve saved the world countless times, at the drop of a hat. It did seem a bit harsh for the founding Avengers to disband the team without even giving the newbies a chance to tell their side of the tale. Whatever happened to a fair trial? This is probably part of what Doug mean when he said the ending seemed rushed.

Edo Bosnar said...

I have to agree with your assessment of Roussos' inks on Sal's pencils - the art looked a little off in this issue compared to the previous ones.
Otherwise, this issue is just so packed: not only the fast-moving story itself, but Roy's political commentary as well. Craddock is reminiscent of McCarthy, but also reflects that general paranoid trend that emerges during any time of crisis. That's why I think Nick Fury's comment on the internment camps for Japanese Americans is almost mind-blowing. How many other pop culture venues ever bothered mentioning this issue in the early 1970s? Heady stuff.

Fred W. Hill said...

I'd actually read issue #93, circa 1983, years before I got this and the other earlier parts of the Kree-Skrull War so I didn't have that big shock of thinking the Big Three had ordered the team disbanded. Anyhow, Roy (with or without Adams' input) had so many big ideas going on for this story that the entire saga could have been several issues longer. Just about a year or so before, Stan (or was it Martin Goodman?) had started a policy of limiting stories to only one mag, and nearly all of those I've read from that period were pretty dreadful; at least to me, they didn't read like genuine Marvel Comics of the late Silver/early Bronze ages. Here, though, Roy has really been unleashed with much better results than his Factor Three storyline in X-Men from a few years before.

B Smith said...

The Vision appeared in civilian clothing so seldom that the beach scene in #137 came as a surprise. I'd always assumed, from the few panels in this issue, that he didn't really have anything under the costume; that it was, in fact, his "skin." That is isn't/wasn't, kind of makes the whole turtleneck thing a bit odd in retrospect.

Correspondence a few issues down the track pointed out that the chessboard set-up on page 1 was wonky (can't recall the details), and that Captain America (in one of the panels you've shown) has only three fingers on his left hand!

Also, as someone who'd been reading comics at this time for only a little while, this issue really showed what a difference an inker can make to a penciller's work - I recall at the time feeling slightly disappointed...but Sal B still had touches that made it seem like something different - the occasional panel at an oblique angle, or that sequence you've shown with the crashing helicopter showing Capt Marvel's head in repeated sequence...things like this really to me showed how comics could do things that couldn't be done in other media (I think my actual 11 year old response was "Wow!")

Looking forward to your comments on #93!

Steven R. Stahl said...

The insistence (by some editors) on depicting Avengers in their costumes, even when being in their costumes was inappropriate for the situation, was irritating. That's a major reason why I tend to discount the artwork and concentrate on what the writer is doing with the people.

In the case of, e.g., the VISION & SCARLET WITCH maxiseries, which had the Vision in costume most of the time, I'd guess that Jim Shooter was responsible for that, reasoning that children and new readers might not be able to identify him on sight unless he was costumed.


Anonymous said...

I must be in a small minority but I absolutely hate the Kree-Skrull War.

I also seem to be among the few who think the Avengers-Defenders War sucked.

Murray said...

Sigh. I know I'm a year and a half late, but the Kree-Skrull War is such a milestone that I'll bust if I don't comment.

I discovered the Avengers with #83. I had just enough of a warm-up introduction before this saga began. I had also "graduated" to Marvel with "Thor #183". The revelation that he was also an Avenger really wound my clock!

On this particular issue, my youthful self was actually quite flabbergasted that the Kree-Skrull War would be still be in the spotlight. The previous issue ended all nice and tidy and pompous. What two alien races got up to in different galaxies seemed of no relevance to Earth or the Avengers. But, I took it in stride and plunged onwards.

Possibly there is a behind-the-scenes account somewhere that explains the sloppy artwork in this issue. In the "Project Atavuus" trilogy, I concur with the tone that Sal did sterling work. In this issue, I'm wondering if Adams was supposed to start the saga and dropped the deadline ball. To my adult eyes, the art is desperately rushed and full of glaring misatkes. 1) The pieces on Vision's chess game are not possible with legal moves. That's trivial. 2) the bigger blunder is that Nick Fury has no eyepatch! 3) The greatest blunder is that Captain America has only three fingers on his hand! I've heard apologists claim the last is due to the Skrull muffing up his human impersonation, but that seems far-fetched.

I'm sure somewhere in the K-S War saga, Clint makes a remark on being a giant "because changing sizes wears on a guy". A callback to Pym's old problems with growth changes. But I always felt amused-sorry for Jarvis and his five gallon tea cups.

On with the rest of this magnificent review!

Matthew Bradley said...

Murray, thanks so much for your closing comment regarding Goliath and his seeming reluctance to return to normal size. I'd always been bothered by that until Roy inserted an almost throwaway line of exactly the kind you mention. It's actually in #88, one issue before the start of the K-S War.

david_b said...

Agreed on the cover, as was my first comment over 2yrs ago.

Again, as mentioned recently, my only quip about this issue was the lack of this ground-swelling scope even being mentioned in either Mar-Vell's or the FF book.

Granted, a simple cameo by Ben Grimm shouldn't necessitate a mention in their own book, but wouldn't it have been cool if it did..? It certainly wouldn't have hurt the story or any ripples in the MU one iota.

Doug said...

David, I get what you're saying, but let me say this -- the mega-crossovers of the '80s and '90s just wore me out. So that this is "epic" yet self-contained is actually somewhat refreshing to me.

But I do seriously get what you're after, as it's a thought I had many a'time back in my youth.


Doc Savage said...

Great cover. The three on the right I have seen repurposed, probably illegally, several times. Most recently for a local comic book convention. I think Thor was pointing to some palm trees to indicate the location.

I think Vision's "costume" WAS simply his skin/body until someone decided otherwise later. Why would anyone make an android that needs a costume, especially Ultron? Not like he wears clothes. Of course, why would he make him red? Especially if he's supposedly the Human Torch (which I never thought made any sense) who wasn't red? Yeah...a whole lotta goofy inconsistencies crop up when stuff evolves over years and via differen creative teams.

Not a fan of Giant-Hawkeye. The costume is awful. At least they provided a halfway decent rationale for why Hawkeye changed for a while. Still a terrible idea.

I kinda dig this line-up of second-tier Avengers. Nobody I dislike too much!

William said...

Is there anything cooler than The Vision in a turtleneck? It's crazy on so many levels. First of all he obviously still has his costume on underneath, and second - Why would Vision need to wear a sweater in the first place? He's an android who doesn't really get hot or cold.

I really and truly miss the days when comics were a little whacky like this.

Doug said...

Knowing what we know now, how weird is it that Vizh and Pietro are just chilling together like old college chums?! Man, if Quicksilver knew about that aborted liplock in the previous issue...


Edo Bosnar said...

Why shouldn't Vision where a turtleneck sweater over his costume? After, most human superheroes wore their costumes under their civilian clothes...

david_b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david_b said...

Yeeeeeah..., heroes typically wear their uniform under clothes for stealth in protecting their identity.

The red face, droning electronic voice and solar-ray collecting jewel on his forehead kinda.. becomes a clue.

Karen said...

I assumed Vision was just trying to fit in by wearing civilian clothes, although he could have been a little more smooth about it.

david_b said...

Typically, when Vision tries to 'fit in'.., it comes off creepy.

Alas, I reference his beach look on his honeymoon ('BOY was that one-killer sunburn, Vish..'), later newfound 'humor' and smiles as he was taking over the world.

I'll take the lone brooding Vish with electronic voice anyday.

Humanbelly said...

So much discussion and debate about civies-on-top-of-costume Vision! The fact that it doesn't exactly make sense is actually kind of why it works for me. Yes, he's dressed that way, and yes, it looks doofy. The poor guy is trying to be HUMAN, friends! And brother, he just doesn't have a comfortable handle on it yet. This is a guy who DOES NOT EVER show any of his skin besides his face-- he is always completely clothed, and has been for every moment of his conscious memory. Although he couldn't recognize the emotions in himself, he is embarrassed or shy or perhaps even somewhat ashamed of his striking crimson hue. . . maybe even subconsciously recognizing it as something that sets him even further apart from everyone else. But. . . he still wants to try on what it feels like to be attired like a "regular guy". Even if it was an unintensional creative choice, finding a rationale for it does miles of legwork in adding some depth and sympathy to the character.

Also, in a completely unrelated discipline, LOTS of dancers I've known tend to toss their street clothes on over their tights & leos & assorted spandexes (pretty much the same as superhero outfits)and stay dressed that way for hours.


Anonymous said...

Most important thing first. HB would you happen to have pictures/links to these dancer friends of yours?

Second, in the story, as the Avengers are leaving the mansion to attend the hearing, the box mentions that it's early the next morning. So we know that at least day two. We don't know how many adjournments there were to prepare testimony etc etc etc, since our heroes wear their costumes every day, it could have been a week. But then again, Rick was in the same clothes.

Other second, the Vision in street clothes. Where was his cape during all this? And his boots? Where did he get the clothes? I could imagine Tony has wardrobes on top of wardrobes in that mansion but? Would the Vision use them without asking? Could you see him walking into Dean's Fine Men's Wear or JCPenneys? What would be a hoot!

Other other second. Was there no police presence with a crowd gathering? Was this still during Capt Stacy's tenure? His replacement? I think someone needs to hold a press conference.

Final second. How do the Skrulls know that the charter members can disband the group at any time? Is this common knowledge? Did they ask around?

Final aside - don't you think the man known as HAWKEYE would be able to see through a ruse like that? What size is that towel he had? Are they left over from Pym's tenure?

The Prowler (from the old Spider-Man Crawlspace).

Doc Savage said...

Do these dancers look anything like Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis?

Humanbelly said...

You guys. . . you GUYS! Sheesh! I was in COLLEGE. . . in the early '80's, for corn's sake! I was one of the few guys in the dance company. . . heck, I MYSELF was wearing my jeans and shirt overtop of my tights and danskin practice tanks-! (Which is probably why I sort of "got" Vizh's look, come to think of it-)


Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, so back in the '80s Humanbelly was actually a superhero, using his membership in a college dance company as a convenient excuse to wear his tights under his civvies. Very clever...

Anonymous said...

So that would be a "No" on the pictures/links?

The Prowler (ibid).

Anonymous said...

....fosse fosse fosse shuffle ball change hit aaaaand JAZZ HANDS.

The Prowler (still ibid).

Humanbelly said...

Agh! No-- NO! No pictures or links! Ohhhhhhhh, the base cro-magnitude of it all---!

(I will confess, though, that I was in flippin' AWESOME shape for those two seasons. The director wanted her guys to be able to do dynamic lifts with the ladies, so she had us enrolled in a mandatory weight-training program at the athletic center, using the athl.dept. sports trainers and everything.)

(And-- oh golly-- the girls were all surpassingly lovely, and were great friends and partners and every one a delight to be in the company with. As an editorial aside, I suppose, I'm bound to mention that our comic book hobby/pastime, here, has pretty much always been hopelessly guilty of objectifying women. I can testify that nothing mitigates that mindset more than being in the company of beautiful (even desirable) women, and setting all of that aside in order to work with them as people and artistic partners and teammates. You make a choice, "I could think about Irma in that rather base fashion-- but I absolutely won't, because she's my pal and is trusting me to haul her body around in an artistic fashion, and can't even ONCE be worried about where my mind might be going." It's a way of touching on that little bit of inner superhero that really does exist in all of us.)

(end of editorial)


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