Wednesday, January 8, 2014
BAB Classic: Three Cows Shot Me Down! Avengers #90
NOTE: This post was originally published on 10 October 2011.
Avengers #90 (July 1971)
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sal Buscema
Karen: Welcome to part two of our overview of the legendary Kree-Skrull War. Last time, the Avengers had barely managed to save the life of an irradiated Captain Marvel, when a towering robot, a Kree Sentry, came bursting in. And that's right where this issue picks up. The Sentry tells the Avengers to just walk away, but of course they don't. Both Wanda and Pietro are quickly put down, and once again it's the Vision that winds up taking on their enemy. As they grapple, the Sentry comments on how, as androids, they are both far above humankind. But a second later they go crashing through the floor, as the Vision increases his mass. Unfortunately, the Sentry recovers first and disappears with Mar-Vell, making a cryptic statement about something called Plan Atavus.
Doug: Even though the Sentry moves through the team relatively easily, I guess I didn't get any feeling that this was a hopeless situation. Now, mind you, I didn't really have any suggestions for our Avenging friends. This is a pretty de-powered version of the team. I enjoyed the scene with the Vision taking the Sentry one-on-one. As you stated last week, this seemed to be a period when the Vision was the superstar of the team, and often found himself in the spotlight.
Karen: The Avengers naturally want to pursue, but are stopped by Cape Security Chief Carol Danvers -that's right, Ms. Marvel, but way before her own super-hero career began. She debriefs them and lets them go. Not knowing where they might find the Sentry and Mar-Vell, they ask Rick Jones for any information he has on the Kree. There's a nice two page flashback sequence, which goes all the way back to the Inhumans back-up stories from Thor, showing how the Kree caused the Inhumans to advance as a race. Then we see the Sentry's first encounter with the FF, as well as Captain Marvel's early missions, and his progression from Kree warrior to rebel.
Doug: This was all well and good, and I mean that sincerely. What Roy gave us, and Steve Englehart later, was a slow, logical reveal of Marvel backstory. Think about it -- at this point the Marvel Universe was only a decade old, and by the time Englehart added a layer or two to the Kree history in his "Celestial Madonna" epic it wasn't much older. This was a great example of peeling that onion -- not retconning. There weren't any zany changes, but details that fleshed out the past of these imperialists. By the way, I'd forgotten the guest appearance from Carol Danvers -- that was a nice surprise!
Karen: The three Avengers and Rick return to the mansion, only to find a message from Goliath (Clint Barton, not Hank Pym) awaiting them.It seems that he got an SOS from Janet Pym, aka the Wasp, and is on his way to Alaska to help her. With that tiny tidbit of info, our heroes turn right back around -knocking down poor Jarvis! - and jump back on the quinjet.
Doug: Jarvis is like Alfred -- even just a little is always a treat! And hey -- there are two characters who are generally written spot-on. Most writers don't take any liberties with those two.
Karen: We move on to see Goliath landing next to an icebreaker in the frigid north. Jan is distraught. She tells Clint that Hank has disappeared. She and her hubby were investigating a government outpost that had suddenly gone into radio silence. They found a bizarre circle of jungle in the middle of the ice. In the center was a strange tower, with rays projecting out of it. A dragonfly appeared -a foot-long dragonfly! Using Hank's mastery over insects, they rode the critter towards the tower. Suddenly Hank had some sort of epiphany about what the tower was doing -and strapped Jan on the dragonfly and sent her back! After hearing this, Clint takes off, on his own, to find Hank. Our misogynistic Avenger says, "I can't work with women around -not since Natasha and me broke up." Oh brother! As he says this there's an image of Natasha floating above him. Next panel, she's replaced with Wanda- and Clint looks at the image and says, "Now the Widow's face has faded- and it's Wanda I'm seein'!" Now this just struck me as really odd! Typically these floating heads are recognized as representing thoughts, but here we have a character acting as if he can actually see them! Such an odd choice for Roy Thomas to make.
Doug: Do you know what leapt out at me in this series of panels? When you say that Hank strapped Jan to the dragonfly and sent her away, did you notice that he popped her one right before tying her down?!? I couldn't believe it! It's been several years since I've read this story, but I would have thought that given my recent series of posts on my Hank Pym essay that I would have recalled this scene. Nope -- didn't. But there it is, right on the bottom of page 13. To the best of my knowledge, that panel has never been referenced in relation to its much-better known counterpart from over a decade later. And I'd agree with you about Clint's "seeing" the objects of his consternation -- yeah, it's a literary device I suppose, but you'd think that Roy as a former English teacher would have amended the page when it first came back to him.
Karen: Wow, I didn't catch that! You're right, Hank gives Jan a mean back-hand! Different times, I guess. Clint lands and enters the jungle, where he's immediately attacked by some vicious creature. As he punches it out, a ray of light strikes him from behind and he falls. We see that the Sentry and Ronan, the Kree Accuser, are responsible. The Sentry detects the approach of the other Avengers and the two take off to prepare for the coming confrontation.
Karen: When the Avengers, plus Rick and Jan, arrive, they are met by the Sentry -and Goliath! who has been mentally controlled. A fight ensues, while in the tower beyond, Ronan holds Mar-Vell prisoner. Ronan states that his goal is the destruction of mankind; he is going to devolve all life on the planet (that's Plan Atavus). His reason for this is that mankind is too dangerous; humans have a tremendous potential, which could threaten the Kree Empire.
Doug: Wonder when we'll get around to seeing that potential that the human race has? We've sure done a great job of messing things around here by 2011!
Karen: As the heroes battle, the Wasp is knocked out. We see a bestial figure looming in the shadows nearby. Suddenly he is revealed as an ogrish Henry Pym!
Doug: "Ogre" is a great way to put it. Hank's one ugly brute, he is...
Karen: This issue was solid, but still felt very much like what it was: a set-up for what's to come. Still, an entertaining read.
Doug: That we are two issues into something that just feels bigger has built up a ton of suspense. As I said above, this certainly isn't the most powerful Avengers team, and to be honest it lacks for leadership with no Cap, Iron Man, or even T'Challa. While the Vision somewhat fills that role, the dynamic of having Pietro also on the team leaves a bit of tension always bubbling beneath the surface. Here's to looking forward to the next issue!