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 more, 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 Senator 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 should 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 whole 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-flashes 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 hearing. 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 up 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...