Sunday, February 8, 2015

Avengerous Tales 1.8 - Avengers #15-#16

To read Avengerous Tales 1.7, go here!

Today is not just a review of some old Avengers comics.  Today is an AWESOME review of some old Avengers comics… and a major change in the line-up of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

We start at the end—of an Avengers meeting, that is.  And for some reason, the comic feels the need to show us what every single Avenger does once they split up: Hank and Jan go out for dinner, Thor changes back into Don Blake and assures us that staring at women on the street is totally acceptable and not creepy at all…

…Captain America and Replacement Bucky go home, and Iron Man remains behind because it’s his house.  Well, that was a page and a half of nothing.  Isn’t there something more interesting this comic could be showing us?  Like maybe more than just four panels of Baron Zemo back in his ill-gotten South American empire planning a mysterious vengeance against our heroes?  But I guess that would be silly.

Meanwhile, Captain America, now Steve Rogers, mails a letter to secret agent Nick Fury in hopes of getting a job so he can stop mooching off Tony.  As he drops the letter in the box, he sees the Enchantress and the Executioner in a passing car—wow, what luck.  And what eyesight!—and decides to follow.  He’s thwarted when the Enchantress spots him and snaps the lamppost cable he was swinging from.  This should have sent him plunging into traffic and probably run over at least once, but the comic skips over that little detail and takes us straight to wherever it is our favorite Asgardian baddies have been hiding out until now.

So Cap calls an emergency Avengers meeting to report the villain sighting, but the meeting is interrupted by the kidnapping of Replacement Bucky, who is magically pulled into the sky towards an airplane piloted by Zemo’s men.  The kidnappers throw a concussion bomb at the Avengers, preventing them from giving chase.

“Well gee, sorry for being too busy almost dying to save your pseudo-sidekick, CAP.”

Also, Giant-Man changed his costume and he should not have.

The Avengers are so busy scrambling a jet that they completely fail to notice Wasp is missing (she snuck aboard the jet that took Replacement Bucky).  Stellar job of observation, guys.  Meanwhile, Enchantress has broken our old pals the Melter and the Black Knight out of prison so they can help stop the Avengers from going after Replacement Bucky.

It does not go well.

Cue the Benny Hill music!

As the battle against the Masters of Evil (minus Radioactive Man—I guess he was too busy getting his head waxed) rages, Cap flies off to South America to confront Zemo on his own.  He swoops in, guns a-blazin’, and very nearly shoots Replacement Bucky in the process.  Don’t worry, he’s fine, and now we get the confrontation between Cap and Zemo. 

This is it, folks.  The big showdown.  The moment when Cap finally gets revenge against the man who murdered his sidekick and friend.  How does Captain America finally defeat Zemo?

By blinding him with his shield, thus causing Zemo to accidentally cause a rockslide and inadvertently kill himself.

Well, I’m feeling pretty underwhelmed right now.

Look, I get it.  It’s 1965.  No way in Hades were they going to let a hero murder a villain, even though he’s a Nazi and would totally deserve to get pushed off a pier with a rock tied around his ankles.  But couldn’t they have some sort of Twilight Zone twist or something?  Like, Zemo killed Bucky with a plane, so shouldn’t Zemo’s death have been plane-related also, just for poetic justice?  This is dumb.  Cap didn’t even do anything except throw his shield ONCE and tilt his shield to the sun ONCE.  Not a very exciting climax.

Anyway, Issue Sixteen, and this one’s a doozy.  Hold on to your capes, folks.

We return to the bulk of the Avengers, who still have to deal with the Masters of Evil.  Luckily, Thor just spins his hammer, whisking them all away to another dimension where physics follows the law of “why you hittin’ yourself?”

Enchantress and Executioner escape, so we’ll probably be seeing them again soon.

Back in South America, Cap and Replacement Bucky are just about to fly back home when Zemo’s surviving henchmen attack them, and the plane is blown up in the ensuing fight.  In the meantime, the other Avengers—minus Thor, who was busy in his own comic cheating his way through an obstacle course alongside Loki—make a life-altering decision. 

Seems kind of rude, deciding that with two members missing, but whatever.  Literal seconds later, the mansion comes under attack by a fellow with a bow and arrow.  I’d try to build suspense, but you already know exactly who it is, if not exactly what is going on.

Behold, the first appearance of Jarvis the butler!  And also the first appearance of Hawkeye in an Avengers comic!  The avenging archer’s official debut, however, took place way back in Iron Man’s book Tales of Suspense #57, a.k.a. eight months previous (in real time, not comic book time).

As Hawkeye now explains to the soon-to-be-former Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, he initially donned a costume with the intention of becoming a hero, but when he was mistaken for a crook, he figured that was good enough and went with it.  Along the way, he teamed up with communist spy Black Widow (yes, that one), but when she was injured, Hawkeye realized how wrong it was to pursue a life of crime.  Now, he not only wants to turn over a new leaf and become a hero as he originally intended, but he also wants to join the Avengers.

Yes, for some reason he thought breaking into Avengers Mansion and tying up Jarvis was better than sending in an audition tape.  No word on what Jarvis thinks of all this, but the Avengers accept him with open arms.  I expect Jarvis is too professional to spit in Hawkeye’s tea, but something’s telling me that someone will be on the receiving end of cold scones and ‘accidentally’ having the duster shaken in his face.

Accepting Hawkeye apparently puts the Avengers in a recruiting mood and they send out invitations to other potential members: Namor, who declines with surprising politeness, and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who decide to accept the invitation… but not without some doubts.

Fun fact: These two also have the mutant power of gravity-defying hairdos.

Wanda and Pietro give us a quick rundown of their history, as originally told in X-Men #4-#7: the villain Magneto saved their lives and, feeling indebted to him, the twins agreed to serve as members of his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  But even that reluctant gratitude isn’t enough to keep them around for long, and after Pietro is nearly killed in battle in X-Men #11, they escape to Europe to figure themselves out.  Joining the Avengers, they think, might be their chance to fit in somewhere, so they write a query letter.

Soon enough, the pair arrives in New York, performs a few tricks for the locals, and finally gets to Stark Mansion, where Tony tells them to wait for Iron Man and then dashes off to change to his alternate identity.  I’m pretty sure I saw that gag on Gilligan’s Island once.

But let’s not forget about Captain America—he’s still stuck in South America.  Well it turns out he and Replacement Bucky are basically walking their way back to, uh… how would you like to put it, Rick?

…because in order to be a part of a civilization you have to speak English, I guess???  The dude they rescued drives them to a place where they can catch a boat home, so they should be rejoining the Avengers soon and boy are they in for a surprise.

Captain America and Replacement Bucky hop a U.S. military flight back to “civilization” (what happened to the boat?) and they are naturally concerned about the giant crowd that has gathered outside of the mansion.

Iron Man only has eyes for Captain America.  In other news, rain is wet.

(Oh come on, this is my last chance to make a Stony joke for a while, gimme a break.)

Iron Man goes outside to announce the change in roster, specifically citing Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver as the new members with Captain America as their new leader.  Replacement Bucky whines about not making the list, even though he IS NOT A SUPERHERO.  He’s not even a proper sidekick—you can’t run around in normal clothes and call yourself by your real name and still expect to be a superhero, especially not in the 1960s.  This is getting ridiculous—kid, either jump all the way in or get your foot out of the pool. 

Anyway, the new Avengers go out to introduce themselves to the crowd, the last of the original Avengers takes their leave, and a whole new era of Avengers history is set to begin.  I’m honestly not sure how to feel about that—this issue was basically introductions and padding, which I guess is fair enough since we’re essentially introducing a whole new team here.  Of course we need time to get to know them a little first to avoid the problem I had with Avengers #1, i.e. plenty of action with bland, underdeveloped heroes.  With Avengers #16, the opposite occurs: each character’s motivation and personality is put on full display but there’s no action at all, except if you count Cap and Replacement Bucky saving that guy from a wild animal, which lasted all of two panels.

On the other hand, I’ve read quite a ways ahead in Avengers, Thor and Iron Man and I know what the original group’s characters become like down the line.  For the most part, I like those characters.  By contrast, I have little emotional attachment to Hawkeye, or Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (or any of the X-Men, really), so this new line-up doesn’t really appeal to me.  Still, I will try to look at the upcoming issues through the eyes of someone without the benefit of hindsight.

To read Avengerous Tales 1.9, go here!

Images from Avengers #15 and Avengers #16

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