Monday, October 6, 2014

Inaugural Post - The Arc of Triumph? Avengers 158-159


Doug: If you're one of our regulars, you came here today seeking a review of a Chris Claremont-penned tale. After all, that's what we'd agreed to several weeks ago. I have to confess -- I just can't do those reviews any more, at least for the time being. I could make a list of excuses, and I'm sure they'd mirror the professional and private lives of most people here. If that is indeed the case, then you know where I'm coming from. But rather than go totally away from what Karen and I consider to be one of the hallmarks of this blog, we thought we could sort of backdoor a review by choosing a story arc and letting our readers reminisce on their impressions of the tale, the art, the events within, etc. So today we're going to dip our big toe into the water and see how this goes. We have a few other stories we're considering for the next couple of weeks -- consider this the test-marketing of an idea.

Doug: I may have said it before around here -- the first half of Avengers #158 is one of my favorite hero vs. hero battles in all of comicdom. Two powerhouses just thrashing each other -- can a room contain that much testosterone?? The rest of the story, and on into issue #159 is a bit more pedestrian in my opinion. But enough of me -- this is what this series should get away from. What did you think?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps an easier inaugural arc would have been the Hellfire Club-Dark Phoenix or something :) The second Avengers story is called "Siege By Stealth And Storm" which is a great title but that's all I remember about it - I'm just holding the fort till somebody comes along and says something interesting.

Doug said...

Well, Dark Phoenix is a storyline that someday, when life permits, Karen and I would like to review together.

I guess I figured that since the days when Karen and I do post reviews tend to be low-comment days that we'd throw this in our readers' court and see what happens.


Edo Bosnar said...

I actually liked this whole two-parter: the Vision vs. Wonder Man slugfest and the Graviton story that followed. This was when Jim Shooter was still writing Avengers stories that I liked.
The interesting thing about the story is that it ends with Graviton basically defeating himself, rather being overpowered out outmaneuvered by the Avengers. Shooter seemed to be exploring an idea that he would come to again in the Count Nefaria story and then even more so in the Korvac Saga, i.e., pitting the Avengers against an adversary who totally outmatches them, and they only win almost by accident.

Doug said...

Edo --

As I recall, there's a pretty cool entrance by the Black Panther that sort of "saves the day", although if memory serves it's a bit of a deus ex machina. Issue #159 ends with the Avengers heavyweights catching a huge ball that had been Graviton's base, right? Or am I thinking of some other Graviton story?


Edo Bosnar said...

Nope, that's the one. Graviton got all angry and his power got out of control, attracting all mass in the vicinity to him - sort of mimicking the effect of a black hole. All the strong guy Avengers caught the result (that ball you mentioned) and tossed it into the Hudson River, or the Atlantic, I forget which and I'm too lazy to pull out book I have the story in.
Interestingly enough, one of the best feats of heroics in the story happened "off camera": when the woman Graviton was trying to impress (who actually hated him) jumped off of the floating base, Jarvis saved her as he was passing by in one of the Avengers' flying vehicles - we only learn about this at the end of the story when the Avengers return to the mansion and find Jarvis serving the woman tea or something.

Anonymous said...

It's been a while since I read this one, but I remember liking it; I loved how they called in the reserves and were still outgunned...a nice change from the low-powered baddies they sometimes fought. Graviton made a good adversary in the West Coast Avengers mini-series too, which references this story.

Mike W.

david_b said...

I haven't mentioned this before, but my input here's been slowed due to how hard it is to get this site to load.. I just had my desktop memory upgraded from 2 to 4GB and it's still takes quite a bit to actually manuever around. I'm assuming it's entirely my set up here at my office, but it used to load a LOT faster.

Anywho, starting with ish 150-152 I had briefly dipped back into collecting Avengers (the only Marvel comic which seemed to still have the old 'mojo' going..), and enjoyed the writing pretty well. This was the first issues since my original stint ended with ish 129. I found the characters had great voicing, the Shooter plots moved well, and I generally liked the title. I ended up staying with the title until the mid 160s when the annoying distribution problem had creeped up again.

Excellent art.

Doug said...

David, your leaving Avengers on the cusp of the Celestial Madonna storyline mirrors my departure from collecting with X-Men #129 the last issue I bought -- on the doorstep of Dark Phoenix!

Glad we have reprints!


Anonymous said...

david_b I don't think its just you. I know there are times when my computer will lock up, especially if I scroll down far enough to get to the add. There have been a few really awesome Doug&Karen posts that I've not gotten to the end or read the comments. C'est dommage.

When I saw the subject of today's post, my first thought was "Marvel" and then "Avengers". I had started with issue 139 so this was right in my run of the title. I checked my lists and GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING (that's how we locals say Great Neptune's Trident) Box 3, one of the ones on top.

It really was great pulling out the originals and re-reading the stories. You had the aftermath of the Black Knight story, the flow into the fight between Vision and Wonder Man, which started with Vision's sucker punch, and then the call for help from Colorado.

I think the Vision/Wonder Man story was a great set up for future plotlines. The Vision had forced the stone Black Knight to face his "feelings" which led to his destruction. As we get into the fight, the Vision is both jealous and possessive of Wanda. Simon is tired of being everybody's punching bag. And Vision's hand through the chest doesn't work! We find out why much later.

Frank Graviton Hall was really your classic comic villain. Frustrated scientist toiling away in his lab, in a pique turns the power up to 11 and BAMM, now he's got powers. Takes over the town and makes the object of his affection his soon to be queen. When you look at the art work, the thugs have clothes, pants, shirts jackets (and a Tommy Gun?) the scientists have outfits. Matching pants and tops and for the ladies, they're all color coordinated. I will defer to the ladies but Judy goes for green eye shadow with a purple outfit? I guess it works for her. And Graviton gets a snazzy outfit.

Now for the classic Avengers entrance! There's the bad guy, hit 'em high, hit 'em low. Graviton survives the uncoordinated attack and takes the Avengers down in groups.
We leave our team battered, bruised and defeated.

Now for part 2, where Graviton prepares to take over the world and make Judy his queen. Oh, and gives the gold digging Raquel the old Heave Ho. Black Panther sneaks into Avengers Mansion, how many times is this, and gets an updated from a disheveled and surprised Jarvis. Before T'Challa leaves Thor shows up so off they go together. Thor tackles Graviton and the Panther frees everybody else. As the Avengers prepare to hit 'em high, hit 'em low again, Graviton discovers Judy's apparent death. He goes mad with grief, loses control of his powers and becomes a mini-black hole. As the Avengers land, they realize the solid ball of mass will hit with the power of an earthquake. Thor, Iron Man, Vision and Wonder Man catch the ball and throw it into the water. Why this doesn't cause massive tidal surges I don't know. Maybe because they didn't want it to?

Anyway, we find that Jarvis took one the Avengers one man sled that the Black Panther was going to use and catches Judy in mid fall. So all well that ends well, except Thor is upset that their chance of victory was stolen by the villain doing himself in.

Final total lines for the Wasp during this two issue adventure: 2. Uhh and Ohh. And I think Ohh came first.

The Prowler (career opportunities are the ones that never knock every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock career opportunity, the ones that never knock).

Anonymous said...

I used to have trouble with this site locking up too; I think it may have something to do with the Compatibility View settings (the torn page icon beside the browser window); When I used Windows XP, the Compatibility View seemed to work automatically, but in Windows 7, I had to add the website manually (under Tools in the menu bar). Since I added the website to Compatibility View, no more lock-ups (although it is still a bit slow sometimes).

Mike W.

Fred W. Hill said...

Ah, and I thought I was the only having difficulties over the past couple of months with the site locking up on me and forcing me to log off the internet. Hasn't been doing that lately, fortunately.
Anyhow, this was a nice two-issue tale with the expected showdown between Vizh & Simon, quasi-twins, Vizh an android with all too-human feelings faced with the long-presumed dead man whose brain patterns provided his personality; and Simon, back from presumed death after a decade, trying to make sense of the unusual situation (well, it was more unusal at the time at least as the only other hero who could relate was Captain America).
Graviton was interesting if not particularly memorable. Actually, he and the revamped Count Nefaria, with Superman-like powers, who showed up a few issues later looked too much alike and when I see images of Graviton I keep mistaking him for Nefaria. Jim Shooter wrote some very good stories on the Avengers but for some reason I never really warmed up to his writing, certainly not like I did to Englehart's during his run (or for that matter Gerber's in his classic Defenders run). Maybe it's because I never got the sense that he really cared about the characters or could get me to care about them the way Englehart & Gerber could.

Doug said...

Thanks for the comments today, and thanks to Prowler for pinch-hitting on that review! That was a good one!

Karen and I talked off-line about the issues with the site loading slowly. To be honest, I've not seen that. I use a Lenovo tablet (school issued) for my blogging needs. The blog always loads right up, whether I'm at home or at school. I generally use Firefox as my browser. On my Kindle, on the other hand, I could fix dinner while I'm waiting for the load.

We obviously have some bells and whistles on the blog, with the Feedjit, the Link Within posts, the very cool spinning globe about halfway down the sidebar, the translation feature, etc. Maybe we need to ditch some of that? Although in our defense (I'm not sure that's necessary), we haven't added anything new in this regard in quite some time.

So it's somewhat of a mystery to me. But thanks for bringing it to our attention.


Edo Bosnar said...

As to the loading issues, I haven't had any recent problems. I use an HP Notebook at home and standard desktops at work (both jobs).
Maybe it has to the do with the browser? I use Firefox at home and one of my jobs, and Google Chrome at the other. On that latter computer I do remember having some issues with this site (and others) loading about a year or so ago when I was using Internet Explorer.

William said...

I remember reading these when they first came out and I absolutely loved them. I never owned them, but I had a teacher in middle school that would bring in comics we could read when we had free class time. These issues were among the selection.

Last year I picked up a hard cover collection called "Avengers: Bride of Ultron", that reprinted issues 157-166. Which features 5 of my Top 10 all time favorite Avengers issues, which are #161-162, and #164-166. So, I highly recommend picking up this book.

There is also a soft cover book called "Avengers Epic Collection: The Final Threat", that reprints Avengers #150-166, Annual #6-7, Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, and Super-Villain Team-Up #9. So, that is actually a better deal, but I already have all the issues in that volume in other separate trade collections.

I always like it when the Avengers face an enemy that can go toe-to-toe with them. And this was definitely the era of the Avengers vs. the major powerhouse villain. There was #158-159 with the team fighting Graviton, 161-162 vs. Ultron, and 164-166, where Count Nefaria basically becomes Superman, and mops the floor with the entire team. (My favorite Avengers story ever, btw).

Stories like these, with art by the likes of Perez and Byrne, are what comics were all about, and still should be. So much fun to read and look at. I really can't believe that kids (and kids at heart) have changed so much that they prefer what is being done in comics today to what we had growing up. What? Do people not like fun anymore?

Anonymous said...

Two last points that came to me at work and then I'm off to the Spinner Rack.

During their first encounter, Graviton pulled up a strip of ground to deflect Iron Man's repulsor blast and Wanda's hex bolt. IIRC, Wanda's hex bolt makes anything that can happen, happen, not necessarily anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Shouldn't SOMETHING have happened when the hex bolt hit the strip, like, say, I don't know not block the repulsor blast?

Second point, Tony Stark, Henry Pym and Hank McCoy are three of the top minds in Marveldom. Couldn't they have out-thunked Graviton?

The Prowler (we can't keep dancing along pretending everything is just fine The consequences are devastating We must strike out and rescue this fine earth upon which we live).

Sean Budde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Fred, I'm with you on Graviton/Nefaria. I always get those 2 mixed up. They really do look too much alike.

Doug, I'm with you on Wonder Man vs. Vision. Love that brawl. Not as crazy about the Graviton (or was it Count Nefaria?) story. Besides, if he really did try to drop his city on NYC, all they would have to do is chain Manhattan to Hercules and he would drag it out of harm's way. ;-)


Horace said...

Avengers #158 has a similar story structure to other hero v. hero issues like Iron Fist #12 and Amazing Spider-Man #187. Act One: hero v. hero slugfest. Act Two: a calm middle section. Act Three: heroes join together to fight villain.

Having said all that, I've always enjoyed this issue. Great Kirby cover and one of my favorite books penciled by Sal Buscema.

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