Saturday, February 11, 2017

Avengerous Tales 2.43 - Avengers #152-#153

To read Avengerous Tales 2.42, go here!

New creative team today!  Steve Englehart is “plotting,” Gerry Conway is writing and John Buscema and Joe Sinnott are our artists.  It’s a regular Throwback Thursday in here.

In the few minutes since Wonder Man punched his way out of that crate, he hasn’t had much to say—he just keeps pointing at Vision and accusing him of stealing his brain.  Which isn’t technically accurate.  A quick recap in case you haven’t been following these reviews for long: after Wonder Man died in Issue Nine, the Avengers preserved his brain waves on tape, which were then stolen by Ultron and used as the basis for Vision’s own mind.

Wonder Man finally passes out and the Avengers take him inside.

He might be a little less sick if you supported his head better...

So Yellowjacket does a medical examination and determines that, yes, this is actually Wonder Man and, yes, he is actually alive, but his brain has been wiped completely clean except for that one sentence he kept repeating… and one more sentence too.

The Vision feels guilty since he does technically have Wonder Man’s mind, even if he never asked for it.  The Scarlet Witch, not wanting her husband to be sad anymore, rushes outside to examine the crate he arrived in, thinking there might be a clue as to the sender’s whereabouts.  Sure enough, she finds dirt on the inside of the crate and, through her spiffy magic earth powers, determines that the dirt is from New Orleans and that Wonder Man’s been turned into a zuvembie, a.k.a. the word Marvel switched to after “zombie” was banned by the Comics Code Authority.

On the flight to New Orleans, Wasp says—and I quote—“I’m sorry if I forced [Hank] to rejoin the Avengers,” but that she only did it because he’s been looking “grim” lately.  And I’m sure being pushed into something he didn’t want will make him a lot less miserable.  Sure, Jan.

“Talking about feelings and insecurities is for losers.”

Almost the moment they arrive in New Orleans, the Scarlet Witch senses that one of the men involved in the zuvembie ritual is nearby.  That sounds more like something Mantis would do rather than the Scarlet Witch, but what do I know?

The guy runs off, but Yellowjacket (at ant-size… or is that yellowjacket-size now?) literally ties his shoelaces together to bring him down.  Very creative, it must be said!  And it works, allowing the Avengers to interrogate him until he tells them to go to the appropriately named Le Mort Bayou.  Not long after they arrive, Wonder Man—who Beast was carrying over his shoulder—starts to move and walk on his own.  The Avengers follow and end up accidentally stumbling into the Thriller music video.

The man in charge of all this weirdness, the chicken man from the cover, is shocked to see Wonder Man since he’s supposed to be out murdering Avengers right now.  Said Avengers come charging out of the swamp as soon as chicken man (a.k.a. Black Talon… but let’s face it, he’s a chicken man) threatens to destroy Wonder Man for his failure.

Black Talon realizes it’ll take more than some zuvembiefied lackeys to stop our heroes and calls upon an evil god named Damballa to help him crush his enemies, even though a two-second trip to Wikipedia shows that Damballa really, really is not evil so, um, congratulations on stomping all over a religion you know nothing about, I guess?

With Not!Damballa’s help, Black Talon accomplishes absolutely nothing—Scarlet Witch defeats the “god” with fire and Black Talon with logs thrown at his head.  All of Black Talon’s zuvembies flee in what has got to be the most bizarrely (probably unintentionally?) racist panel I’ve ever seen.  For context, here’s a panel from earlier in the issue, when the zuvembies were still raring to fight the Avengers:

Now see what happens the instant they start to run away in terror.


So anyway, the bad guys are defeated, but it turns out Black Talon was himself a lackey for someone else and doesn’t know how Wonder Man was resurrected either.  The Avengers prepare to find this mystery boss—except for the Scarlet Witch, who’s upset about how close she came to defeat at Black Talon’s talons (even though she did 50% better than anyone else) and decides to go solo for a while to wallow in her failure.

So Black Talon is probably one of the most ineffectual bad guys we’ve had in a while, but what do you expect when he’s dressed like that?

The next issue begins with Wanda’s epic quest of epicness, which takes her to the ruins of Brand Corp.  Turns out she’s there to retrieve the Serpent Crown, which the Avengers just kind of left there a few issues ago.  Because that’s what respectable superheroes do, right?  Completely lose track of an insanely powerful ancient artifact that takes control of its wearer and connects said wearer to everyone else who has worn the crown in multiple universes?!  And why would Wanda even think it was a good idea to retrieve the crown on her own after it nearly took over her mind the last time they encountered this thing?

Now to be fair, Wanda does say later in the issue that the Serpent Crown has lost its power, but I don’t remember that happening in the issues themselves and I didn’t mention it at all in my review of that storyline, so this could be a copout.  Then again, I’ve been on hiatus for a while, so maybe I’m just misremembering.

Anyway, big surprise, Scarlet Witch is not the only one who wants the crown.

And yes, this is the mystery guy from Issue 151 who was swearing vengeance against the Wasp.  If you remember his first appearance in The Avengers, you probably aren’t all that surprised.  The villains never do learn their lesson, after all.

Despite Brand Corp’s security army bursting in, the Living Laser escapes with the crown, and the comic decides to flash back an hour to fill us in on what’s been happening around the city in the meantime.  Back at Avengers Mansion, our heroes have just returned from New Orleans with Wonder Man in tow.  Vision notes that Wondy’s heartbeat has been slowly strengthening over the past few hours, but no one can figure out what that means.  Before they can try to find out, they receive a visit from the other mystery figure from Issue 151.

Frank asks about Wanda, but right in the middle of his perfectly civil conversation with the Vision, he flips out, attacks everyone’s favorite android and zips off, trying to find an escape from the mansion.  He runs into Captain America, Iron Man and Beast first, who have no choice but to fight.  During the brawl, the Whizzer refers to them as “Isbisa.”

I can’t even tell if he just broke the fourth wall or not.

Believing he is saving the world, the Whizzer makes short work of the Avengers—to say nothing of their house—at which point he starts to go a little fuzzy.  He seems to be realizing that the Avengers are not his enemies after all and that “Isbisa” hasn’t been a threat in decades, but then a terrible pain in his head makes him fall unconscious.

Well, at least they’re better at it than Jean Loring.  Otherwise this would have been a WHOLE other story.

The Avengers try to bring Whizzer to the lab to examine him, only to find the lab in a shambles and Wonder Man missing.  Just where has our Christmas-colored ex-Avenger gone to?  Apparently he just wandered off at some point while Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were distracted and is now walking down the street.  Maybe he just needed to stretch his legs?  Can't imagine being dead is great for your fitness levels.

Some civilians recognize Wonder Man and, like any group of crazed fanboys, descend on him in the hopes of getting a souvenir.  Wonder Man, still not in his right mind, attacks them before running away down an alley.  As he wanders, he discovers a bright light shining from the mouth of an alleyway.  He walks towards it, not realizing that it’s actually the Living Laser in the Serpent Crown, or that LL can apparently mind control people now (hence the Whizzer’s odd behavior).  I guess lasers can be used for hypnosis???

While this is going on, the Scarlet Witch has made short work of most of the Brand Corp army, except for one dude who manages to shoot her in the arm.  The Scarlet Witch retreats, determined to get to Avengers Mansion and warn her teammates about the theft of the crown before she passes out from blood loss.

And as for the Living Laser…

“The power to make me a sandwich!”

Of course not.  The issue ends with the Living Laser making Wonder Man vow to destroy the Avengers.  Personally, I think a comic about a supervillain innocently trying to get some decent street food while constantly being interrupted by superheroes who think he’s up to mischief would be more original, but I guess that’s why no one lets me write comics.

To read Avengerous Tales 2.44, go here!

Images from Avengers #152 and Avengers #153

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