Monday, January 11, 2016

BAB Classic: Nice Job, Hank! Bride of Ultron Part 3

This post was originally published on 13 August 2010.

Avengers #170 (April 1978)
"...Though Hell Should Bar the Way!"
George Perez/Jim Shooter-Perez/Pablo Marcos

Doug: Greetings, Armadillos, and welcome back to the last two installments in our very-fun look at the Bride of Ultron storyline. You'll notice that George Perez gets a co-plotter credit for this story, and I think that shows actually in the artwork. I'm not privy to whether or not young George actually did any of the scripting, but I think it's obvious that Pablo Marcos had a greater hand in the art chores than he'd had back in the first two parts, Avengers 161 and 162.

Karen: I've read some interviews where Perez said that Shooter was not as familiar with the Marvel characters and that he (Perez) often helped by filling in background that Shooter was missing. Did you also notice that Shooter was the colorist on this issue?

Doug: I did not notice that! But there it is... Hey, I also saw that Terry Austin was the inker on the very nice cover art! Well, I can sum up this issue with one word: characterization. If Perez is the right man for the art, then Shooter is the master of the group dynamic. From the Legion to the Avengers, each character has their own mannerisms, voice, and he advances what becomes their backstory. This one starts off with a great deal of tension, as Shooter writes a very sullen, verbally aggressive Captain America. In the opening scene, as Cap works through some personal frustrations, we see the Beast in full character, and a side of Iron Man that's a bit softer than usual. Perez's lay-outs are top notch, as even though the entire scene is conversation there remain the elements of emotion and action. Perfect -- these guys got done in 3-4 pages what today's writers/artists do in an entire book!

Karen: Shooter was nothing if not efficient. He gets across his ideas easily and quickly. At this point in Avengers he was doing some things we hadn't really seen before, like having an insecure Cap.

Doug: No, you're right -- you'd have to go back to the Kooky Quartet to see a Steve Rogers brooding like he is here.

Karen: Yet it all worked. I especially liked the exchange between Cap and Iron Man, as these two friends had been really starting to go after one another. They resolve their issues here and Iron Man almost tells Cap that he's Stark, but Cap stops him before he can. But heck, I kind of figured he already knew.

Doug: There's also quite a bit of foreshadowing in this issue. You know, it's funny: This little four-parter has gone down in Avengers history as one of the must-reads, yet the next two scenes set-up what will become an epic on par with the Celestial Madonna or the Kree/Skrull War. Wanda gets a phone call (my, how times have changed technologically!) from Hawkeye, who is in Colorado. He tells her that the Two-Gun Kid has vanished, teleported away. Hawk's scoured the area, to no avail. When Wanda offers to come out to assist, Clint informs her that he will instead come to NY to take advantage of Tony Stark's technology. Right after, we're taken to the Hidden Refuge to drop in on Quicksilver. As he broods ('cause that's just what he does) and Crystal comes out to speak to him, he too disappears. Curiouser and curiouser... Oh, and let's not forget young Vance Astro, being guarded by his future-fellows, the Guardians of the Galaxy!

Karen: I know a lot of people love the Korvac Saga, but honestly, I thought it was fairly weak compared to the previous Avengers sagas. It did bring every Avenger imaginable -and then some -all in one place though.

Doug: I enjoyed "Korvac" because of the slow build-up, and as you said the vast array of characters involved. Meanwhile, back at the mansion a couple of delivery guys, working on the request and order of Hank Pym, bring the body of Ultron's bride to the laboratory. Even this scene has some nice, believable dialogue as the crate is hauled through the halls and into Hank's lab. However, when one of the men makes a crack about the robot, she seemingly responds by awakening! Right away, she remarks that it's Ultron who has awakened her, and she must go to him.

Doug: It's really eerie, because as the robot speaks the Avengers recognize that it's with Jan's voice that she communicates! While everyone had assumed that the life-transfer had been totally reversed back in issue #162, apparently it had not. Different Avengers attempt to subdue the robot, first and foremost the Vision. He is, in no uncertain terms, rebuffed. I found this to be an interesting scene, as it's apparent that Ultron took specific care to thwart an attack by this one Avenger. The robot throws off all attacks, and as she walks the Avengers plot another attempt at a takedown.

Karen: Both Jan and Hank are startled when the robot speaks, but the Vision ain't buying it. I love how he immediately attacks, saying that Ultron is playing a trick on them. The scene where Vizh is blasted away is fantastic. Ultron and his son still have a lot of issues to work out!

Karen: As the Avengers engage our metallic maiden, she displays a variety of powers, and is quite formidable. Although Hank and Jan are having a hard time engaging her, purely from a psychological standpoint.

Doug: Thor arrives, and it's interesting here that the team finds it quite odd that Thor speaks like he's been gone for quite some time, when in reality he had not. I almost had a Sentry-moment -- thought the dude was playing some sort of weird Bendis-game on me! Anyway, Thor slings Mjolnir at the robot, only to have it parried by Cap's shield. He and Iron Man arrive just in time to inform the team that no one is to impede the robot's progress, as she will most certainly lead them to a final showdown against... Ultron!


Fred W. Hill said...

This issue did display some very good characterization and that conversation between Iron Man and Cap was the highlight. Based on dialogue from previous issues, however, it seems Cap still doesn't realize that Iron Man is Tony Stark, which does make him seem a bit dense -- after all, Tony & Don Blake admitted, with a couple of winks, that they knew each other's secret way back in ish #113. Since Hank Pym told the group he was Giant Man circa ish. 28, Iron Man & Thor were the only ones who kept their civilian identities secret from the rest of the Avengers, albeit I don't think Hawkeye told anyone his real name until a couple of years later during Thomas' run. Seemed more a matter of Stan never bringing it up rather than of intending Hawkeye to be maintaining a secret identity.

Edo Bosnar said...

I liked this conclusion to the Bride of Ultron story; it's also kind of interesting that it's contained inside a much larger story-arc, i.e., the Korvac saga.
Anyway, your review from over 5 years ago sums it up pretty well, and I have little to add. This was indeed a great build-up issue, with lots of nice character moments.

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, by the way, off topic, but still: RIP David Bowie...

Doug said...

Here, here, Edo - I plan to honor Bowie with a playlist in his honor once I hit my planning hours this morning.

And thanks for the comment regarding our review today.


PS - I miss Fred Hill's comments. He was a long-time regular who has sadly faded into the sunset. That happens around here, but we're worse off for it.

Redartz said...

Another great issue reviewed there, Doug! Just read that very issue a couple weeks ago, and noted Shooter's credit as colorist. And you were spot on, Shooter is a master at group characterization. When this book came out, I actually held "Avengers" in higher regard than the then-new X-Men. I really anticipate the chance to meet him in April.

Edo- yes, it was a shock opening up the news this morning. The musical world is, again, a little poorer. "Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do"...

Karen said...

Hi guys. We'll be doing something for Bowie later this week. A huge loss.

pfgavigan said...


Amazing what could be done with only seventeen pages to work with. With both the art and writing at this level the lack of room doesn't really matter as much here as in other titles where the talent struggled to accommodate the limitations.

Read somewhere, perhaps on his blog, that Shooter intended a much swifter conclusion to the Korvac story-line but was delayed by the multiple change overs in artists, some of whom were simply less capable than Perez.

Just saw the Star Wars film last night. I'm afraid I wasn't too terribly impressed by it. The lack of a strong villain was a definite weakness, but my main problem was the set up. Beyond the multiple issues regarding Han and Leia, the simple idea of Luke abandoning everyone due to his failure with Emo Darth was the crack in the bell that I just couldn't ignore. Not a bad movie, but one that is fading already from my memory.



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