Avengers 98 to 104
Greek legends invade.
Sentinels seek purity.
Farewell to Thomas.
Ant-Man; Henry “Hank” Pym
Black Knight; Dane Whitman
Black Panther; T’Challa
Captain America; Steve Rogers
Hawkeye; Clint Barton
Hulk; Bruce Banner
Iron Man; Tony Stark
Quicksilver; Pietro Maximoff
Scarlet Witch; Wanda Maximoff
Swordsman; Jacques Duquesne
Thor; Donald Blake
Wasp; Janet Van Dyne
Beast; Henry“Hank” McCoy
Beast; Henry“Hank” McCoy
Rick Jones (honorary Avenger)
Mister Fantastic; Reed Richards
Namor; Namor McKenzie
Doctor Strange; Stephen Strange
Mister Fantastic; Reed Richards
Namor; Namor McKenzie
Doctor Strange; Stephen Strange
Roy Thomas wraps up his run as writer with two mini-epics and another Harlan Ellison collaboration. The first three issues in this sequence deal with old Avengers’ foes Ares and Enchantress taking out the Olympians in one fell swoop and attempting to invade Asgard as well. It concluded in the milestone 100th issue of the series, but unlike the marketing events of today, the issue was barely expanded to fit in the guest stars—everyone who had ever been an Avenger. That would be far more daunting today, but that only included 14 members in over 100 issues. Issue number one of the new 2013 Avengers series has 18 members appearing in one issue, and that’s not even the whole team!
Thomas’ final story involves classic X-Men villains the Sentinels, giant robots that were created to eradicate Mutants. The Avengers have a couple of Mutants on their roster and get dragged into fighting a plot to sterilize all humanity with solar flares. The Sentinels have proven to be resilient foes and are involved in the X-Men feature film, X-Men: Days of Future Past. At this point in time, the X-Men’s revival had not yet occurred, and they didn’t even have their own series, so it was up to the Avengers to deal with the Sentinel problem.
Thomas was promoted to editor and began overseeing the Marvel line of comics after his term as writer here. Stan Lee had become far more involved in appearances and lecture tours around this time, so Thomas became the editorial head honcho and cut back on his writing duties.
Also included in this cycle is the out-of-sequence Avengers 136. Although it was not published until 1975, it is a reprint of a May, 1972 issue of Amazing Adventures(1970), so its tale takes place chronologically here among these earlier issues of Avengers.
The New Avengers: Illuminati (2006) 1; pages 1-10
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
Colored by Dave Stewart
Edited by Tom Brevoort, Andy Schmidt, Molly Lazer, and Aubrey Sitterson
Within the week after the Kree-Skrull War, Iron Man calls a meeting of some of the more well-known superhumans on Earth, including Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Professor X, Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Namor. Iron Man posits his concerns about how the heroes had not addressed the presence of the Kree and Skrull on Earth with a bit more seriousness, and he proposes that they join forces to create a more cohesive defensive unit in case of what he feels are certain future attacks from space. The others, especially Namor, voice their reservations about the idea, each with their own ideas of why it would not work. Mister Fantastic instead suggests that the individuals assembled here meet on occasion to share information, as this might have helped in the Kree-Skrull situation. Stipulating that no one else is to know about the meetings, most of them agree. Black Panther is the only one to dissent, thinking that secret meetings in which heroes presume to dictate the fate of Earth is not something he can support, and he fears what will happen when there is a disagreement about how to handle a situation. After he leaves the meeting, the rest do form a tentative alliance and agree to meet in the future.
Iron Man: “If the Earth is attacked again…when the Earth is attacked again…we’re the ones who will defend it. There is no one else. No army is ready.”
Namor: “You think you can put these people up as role models and delegates for the entire planet Earth? That is completely deluded.”
Black Panther: “What happens when you disagree? When one of these Earth-changing moments finds you all at odds with each other, here in a secret meeting? What happens then? Walk away now.”
· Brian Michael Bendis was the regular writer on the flagship Avengers title New Avengers when this was published in 2006. He was one of the main architects of the Avengers line from 2005 until 2013 and continued to write the Age of Ultron Avengers event. He or a series he wrote won several Eisner Awards between 1999 to 2003.
· Alex Maleev is a Bulgarian artist who frequently collaborates with Bendis. Their Daredevil work received an Eisner Award in 2003 for Best Continuing Series.
· Eliopoulos is credited as “VC’s Chris Eliopoulos.” This stands for Virtual Calligraphy, a lettering studio that Eliopoulos started.
· Dave Stewart has won the Best Colorist Eisner Award multiple times, winning seven of the nine annual awards presented between 2003 and 2011.
· Tom Brevoort started as Avengers editor with the 1998 Avengers series. He is currently Senior Vice President of publishing at Marvel, but he is still editor on the current 2013 Avengers series. He won the Eisner Award for best editor in 1997, before his Avengers tenure.
· Since this takes place in the days following the Kree-Skrull War, Iron Man took time out from searching for Hawkeye to set up this meeting.
· Teaming up more Mutants with non-Mutant heroes is brought up here, but rejected, as they feel all heroes would be grouped with Mutants and then not trusted in the public eye. Captain America recently formed a “Unity group” of Avengers in Uncanny Avengers that does combine Mutants visibly into an Avengers team, hoping for the opposite, that instead it would improve the image of Mutants by association with the Avengers.
· Despite his objections here, Black Panther will finally join the Illuminati group in the New Avengers 2013 series.
· Once this group has formed, Professor X’s first order of business is Krakoa, a South Pacific island that developed its own mind after nuclear testing took place there. It seems Professor X got no help from this group, as he ended up having to send three different teams of his X-men to the island to either investigate it or subsequently rescue captured X-Men from it.
Let Slip the Dogs of War!
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Barry Windsor-Smith and Sal Buscema
The team addresses the absence of Goliath, but they have no clue as to where he may be. Thor attempts to go to Asgard for mystical aid, and Iron Man goes to his lab to use his equipment. The other Avengers see a television broadcast of an angry group called the Warhawks rioting outside the hotel of a visiting Communist dignitary. Vision remains behind, and the rest of the team go to investigate. They try to repulse the mob, but a strange music causes the Avengers to suddenly agree with the Warhawks and join them. Thor regroups with Vision, and they discover that Iron Man has likewise joined with a group of Warhawks at his weapons lab. The two remaining Avengers split up. Vision fights against Iron Man, and during the fight, Vision is knocked into a hooded piper, killing him. When the piper’s music stops, Iron Man’s thoughts clear. Meanwhile, Thor discovers the Warhawks’ leader, “Mr. Tallon” is really Ares, the Greek God of War. When Iron Man arrives on the scene, the music playing there again makes him switch sides. Thor’s hammer is trapped in the Scarlet Witch’s hex sphere, but an arrow flashes from out of nowhere and frees it. Vision is unaffected by the music, and he knocks out the two remaining pipers, who are revealed as satyrs playing an enchanted song. With the Avengers’ and the mob’s minds clear, the battle ends. Hawkeye reveals himself in the crowd, and with him is Hercules, who is suffering from amnesia.
Captain America, thinking: “Can only hope that my costume—the sheer red, white, and blue of it—may rivet their attention—long enough to get them to hear what I have to say.”
Thor: “Thor slays no one, lest it be an equal—in pitched battle.”
· In this run of issues, Windsor-Smith still uses the name of Barry Smith. Rather than penciler and inker, Windsor-Smith and Buscema are credited as artists.
· Ares forms a group called the Warhawks. The original “War Hawks” were members of the 12th United States Congress and led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. They helped instigate the War of 1812. They caused so much trouble for President Andrew Jackson that he was quoted as saying, “After eight years as President, I have only two regrets: that I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun.”
· This group of Warhawks is inactive for many years, but a street gang with this name is featured in the Herc series in 2011.
· The symbol of the Warhawks is a hawk’s talon, to go along with Ares’ alias of Mr. Tallon.
· Thor is unable to return to Asgard because the way is mystically blocked. It’s finally explained in issue 100 that this is due to events in Olympus. A footnote here refers the reader to Thor (1966) 198 and says this issue takes place either before or after that story. Because Thor’s adventures in his own magazine were taking place primarily in Asgard, there was no good reference for even the editor of the book to decide where this adventure took place in relation to Thor's.
· Ares says, “If music be the food of war, play on.” He is bastardizing a quote from Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. It originally had “love” in the place of “war.”
· Narration again uses the John Milton quote “They also serve who merely stand and wait” to describe Vision on monitor duty. This quote is an Avengers favorite.
--They First Make Mad!
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Barry Windsor-Smith and Tom Sutton
Hawkeye reveals what happened to him on the Skrull ship. He managed to evade the Skrulls long enough to create a makeshift bow and arrow. His one shot disabled the computer and started a self-destruct sequence. He managed to get into an shuttle, but crash-landed in Yugoslavia. A circus came upon him, and he resumed his carnival persona while traveling with them. Before this, the circus had also found the amnesiac Hercules in the hills of Greece, and eventually Hawkeye secured transport for the both of them to New York. To help Hercules’ memory, the team consults Black Panther and Ant-Man, but they are unable to help. Ares’ minions Kratos and Bia attack the Mansion and manage to kidnap Hercules. Hercules wants to defend himself, but he finds himself unable to do so due to some mental block. Vision is also not very useful, as he leaves the fight to tend to a dazed Scarlet Witch. A jealous Hawkeye is furious with Vision’s behavior, and most of the team is likewise upset that he abandoned them in the battle. They vow to storm Olympus to rescue Hercules.
Hawkeye, thinking: “Mmmm…ol Wanda’s as fine as ever. I always kinda dug her…but that Speedy Gonzalez brother of hers has got a chaperone complex.”
· This was inker Tom Sutton’s only original issue of Avengers. He more typically penciled and inked the supernatural comics for Marvel, like Werewolf by Night (1972) or Doctor Strange (1974). He was concurrently penciling the Beast stories in Amazing Adventures(1970) with soon-to-be Avengers writer Steve Englehart.
· The issue title inside the book finishes off the quote from the cover, “It Has Been Written: Whom the Gods Would Destroy…” This is a translation of a quote from Euripides, the Greek dramatist.
· Hawkeye theorizes that the explosion of the large Skrull craft interfered with teleporting him to the Supreme Intelligence with the other Avengers in issue 98.
· Hawkeye is given transport to the United States after speaking to Stark International employee Kevin O’Brien. O’Brien is accidentally killed by Iron Man in this month’s issue of Iron Man.
· Hawkeye’s new outfit was left behind by another archer and taken by Hawkeye, and he continues to wear it for a short time.
· Scarlet Witch tells Quicksilver about her love for Vision, but he already suspected it. She is prompted to do so because Hawkeye hints that he loves her and may want to marry her. Hawkeye obviously learned nothing from his relationship with Black Widow.
· Jarvis encourages Vision to pursue his feelings with Scarlet Witch. Jarvis won’t get a girlfriend himself until issue 298.
· While Hercules has lost his memory, the circus give him the stage name of…Hercules.
Whatever Gods There Be!”
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Barry Windsor-Smith, Syd Shores, and Joe Sinnott
All the Avengers that ever were members assemble at Garrett Castle in England. The ghostly Sir Percy tells the heroes how the Ebony Blade appeared in Olympus and was taken by Ares and the Enchantress. Ares used the blade to destroy the Promethean Flame. Because of the magic of the Ebony Blade, all the Olympian Gods except for Ares were turned to crystal. Ares assembled an army of demigods and mythical creatures and banished Hercules from Olympus. Thor, Black Knight, Iron Man, Vision and Hulk travel to Olympus while the rest of the team remain behind for the expected invasion. The team in Olympus is attacked, and Iron Man falls quickly, while the Hulk wanders off. Thor and Vision find Hercules shackled and guarded. They fight Enchantress, Kratos, and Bia, and Vision is rendered unconscious by a spell. On Earth, the other team fights the mythical creatures that are pouring into London, and the regular citizens of Earth aid in the defense. Black Knight tracks down Ares and a Titan in Olympus and battles them alone until Thor joins in. Ares is vanquished by the two heroes and gives up the sword to Black Knight, which breaks the spell and revives the Olympians. Sensing defeat, the troops on Earth retreat through the portal, only to find the Hulk waiting for them. The Avengers regroup on Earth, and Hercules and Thor close the portal to Earth by striking their fists together at full force.
Ant-Man: “Y’know, Cap, maybe it’s because I’ve been on the inactive list so long…but I never did get used to all the power wrapped up in Thor’s hammer.”
Captain America: “You’ve got plenty of company, Hank.”
Black Knight: “Now, Olympian—the sword, if you please—the blade which is both your strength—and my curse.”
· This is inker Joe Sinnott’s first issue of Avengers, though he will ink many more, as well as many of the one-page Hostess snack cake advertisements that feature Marvel characters.
· This is letterer John Costanza’s first issue of Avengers, but he will appear regularly on dozens of issues through 1991. He was awarded the Shazam Award in 1974 as Best Letterer. He is also a penciler, though more commonly for cartoon-style series like Looney Tunes, Roger Rabbit, and The Simpsons.
· This issue was expanded slightly to 23 pages for the same 20 cents. That’s not much of an anniversary issue, but I guess it’s something.
· The cover features every person to serve as an Avenger to this point, a total of 14 characters. Swordsman’s image on the cover is barely noticeable, but he’s there. Rick Jones does not make the cover.
· Rick only appears in one panel inside the story sending a message on his radio equipment, although this does mirror how he helped form the team back in issue 1.
· Hulk only goes to the meeting of the team because he heard a voice in his head. Captain America said he somehow made that happen.
· Swordsman was not invited, but he intercepted the messages and tracked the team there to lend his aid.
· When the gods turn to crystal, Hercules shatters a god named Phoebus on accident. This is another name for Apollo, but that seems to be just a coincidence. Apollo continues to appear in the future.
· Instead of turning to crystal, the half-god Hercules loses half his strength as a result of the loss of the Promethean Flame.
· Kratos and Bia are able to function because they are not gods. Their mother was a nymph, and their father was a Titan.
· According to Ares, Hercules was thrown over the edge of the “floating” Olympus and fell for six days and six nights before he landed in Greece. This must be a poetic retelling.
· The portal between Olympus and Asgard had been buried in Journey Into Mystery Annual 1 back in 1965, which was the first appearance of Olympus and Hercules. This forces Ares to pass through Earth to get to Asgard. Ares’ plot as Mr. Tallon was to incite nuclear war. Apparently this would have weakened the barrier to Asgard and helped Ares’ war plans.
· Hulk claims he is helping the team because he’s tired of Earth. He does like the quiet of the abandoned Olympus.
· Ant-Man tries to come up with a pun for Wasp’s controlled wasps, and he calls them “Bee-59’s.” There was no aircraft produced by that name. Nice try, Hank.
· The Olympian creatures invade London at Kensington Church Street, which is very close to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
· Since Black Knight has lost his Ebony Blade, he fights with the power lance he and his uncle had used previously. He has the sword on the cover, though.
· Hercules and Thor first battled in Journey Into Mystery Annual 1, and the damage caused in that issue closed the portal between Asgard and Olympus. Here, they strike each other to close another dimensional portal to Olympus.
· The 50th issue took place in Olympus and came out in 1968. The 100th issue, also in Olympus, came out in 1972. There are normally four years between Olympic Games, and both of these years were years the Olympics were held.
· This month is the first appearance of future Avenger Luke Cage in Luke Cage,
Hero For Hire 1.
Iron Man: D.O.A.
Written by Steve Englehart
Art by Tom Sutton and Mike Ploog
The X-Man Beast has found himself stuck in a new, furred form. He raids a library and costume shop in the middle of the night to learn how to disguise himself and creates rubber face and hand appliances. He reports to work the next day and works on an antidote, but fails. Tony Stark shows up at the Brand Corporation to see if he is interested in its research. Stark’s empathic fiancée, Marianne Rodgers, feels that something is suspicious about Beast’s assistant Linda Donaldson. Iron Man comes to investigate later that night and encounters Beast lurking about. Despite Iron Man’s entreaties to talk, Beast attacks him. Iron Man is too well protected by his armor, and Beast is defeated. Brand’s security force arrives and shoots Beast, who quickly recovers and mercilessly pounds on Iron Man. Thinking that he has killed Iron Man when he can’t find a heartbeat, Beast flees into the woods. To Iron Man’s eyes, Beast only stood still in a trance and then fled. Sensing that there is more to the story, Iron Man decides not to pursue Beast.
Beast: “Like it or not—and it’s ‘not’—this is my body now. I don’t know how long I can force it out of shape that way.”
Iron Man: During that fight, I saw his face up close—and got a hint of what’s behind it. I saw a soul in torment—and I can’t play God with that—I will not hound the Beast. I hope—you can understand that.”
· Due to missing a deadline, this issue in 1975 reprinted Amazing Adventures 12 from May, 1972. Since Iron Man was busy with the Kree-Skrull War and Olympus, this is a likely place for the adventure to occur, although it also could have happened in the week that takes place between issues 97 and 98 or after issue 101.
· The cover was updated from the original Amazing Adventures cover shown here. Beast’s color was made the blue color that he was in 1975. The interior art keeps the gray color.
· The story in this reprint was only 18 pages. They omitted two pages that show Beast in contact with the X-Men and one page at the end of the story that revealed Mastermind and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants team nearby.
· Writer Steve Englehart would take over the Avengers series with issue 105 soon after he wrote this Amazing Adventures. Although he had contributed to other Marvel stories before this, this was his first full-length writing credit at Marvel. He also did the coloring for the original issue.
· This is the only issue of Avengers that features art by Mike Ploog. Ploog was the artist who developed the original design for Ghost Rider, as well as drawing the first Ghost Rider stories and Man-Thing (1974). He later did the art for the Ultraverse’s Sludge: Red X-Mas special with Man-Thing writer Steve Gerber. He had drawn several pages of art for another Sludge special by Gerber, but it was neither finished nor published. I vaguely remember Sludge fighting an alligator in the swamp.
· The narration refers to “purple rain” 12 years before the Prince film and album.
· This is the second story to feature the “furry” version of Beast. He had drank a formula in Amazing Adventures 11 that caused the mutation. He only did it to disguise himself, as he thought showing up in his X-Men hero costume would compromise his secret identity. He fully expected to come up with an antidote quickly and return to normal, but he failed and ended up stuck in his new form for many years.
· Beast is working for the Brand Corporation. This company is a subsidiary of the Roxxon Corporation, an oil and energy conglomerate. Brand will later be closed down, and Roxxon will disavow knowledge of its criminal activities.
· Beast refers to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and its black monolith when referring to his own evolution. Marvel Comics would publish an ongoing comic-book adaptation of that film in 1976 which featured the first appearance of another Avenger, Machine Man, making the events of that film part of an alternate Marvel Universe.
· At this time, Tony Stark was engaged to Marianne Rodgers, who had empathic powers. She later became mentally unstable and was sent to a mental hospital.
· Beast’s love interest Linda Donaldson was a spy for the Secret Empire, which is what triggered Rodger’s mental misgivings.
· Beast is riddled with bullets and quickly heals due to a healing factor. This type of rapid healing ability is somewhat downplayed in later stories.
· Beast only thought Iron Man was dead due to an illusion cast by evil mutant Mastermind. The page that showed Mastermind is missing in the reprint, but a narration box tries to explain it.
The New Avengers: Illuminati (2007) 1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed
Art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales
Lettered by Cory Petit
Colored by Justin Ponsor
Edited by Tom Brevoort, Molly Lazer, and Aubrey Sitterson
While the Skrull Emperor is berating his troops for allowing themselves to be defeated by Rick Jones, the newly formed Illuminati team appears on the royal flagship. They ask the Emperor to give up his plans for invading Earth and threaten to escalate their attacks on him if he refuses. When he is not impressed, Black Bolt lets loose a powerful sonic attack that destroys the flagship and part of the city below. The Illuminati try to escape the planet, but their craft is destroyed, and they are captured. Skrull scientists study the genetic codes and technology of the team. Skrulls masquerading as the main Avengers team show up to stage a rescue of Tony Stark, but Stark doesn’t buy the ruse for a moment. Even without his armor, he takes advantage of the opening of his cell, overpowers the Skrull imposters, and escapes. He frees his companions in turn, and they commandeer a Skrull craft and escape. Dorrek VII is shown to be pleased with the information that was gathered from the captives before they got away.
Namor: “Rejoice. That was perfectly executed.”
Mister Fantastic: “We did what we had to do…we don’t have to enjoy it.”
Namor: “Why not? They already tried to kill us and take our planet. And they were planning to try it again. We did not start this. Well, I’ll enjoy it enough for all of us, then.”
· Artist Jim Cheung contributed to several other Avengers series, including New Avengers (2005) and Young Avengers (2005).
· Mark Morales, Cheung, Petit, and Ponsor all worked on the Avengers: The Children’s Crusade series as well.
· Letterer Cory Petit is also the regular letterer for both the Avengers (2010) and Avengers (2013) series. He is credited as working in the Virtual Calligraphy studio.
· I chose this spot to put this story, because after the events of 101, the team goes into the Incredible Hulk series, and the subsequent Avengers issues follow in short order. They are free enough to go to a chess match at the beginning of 101, so I doubt they had much pressing Avengers business. The Illuminati could have rushed off in their starship immediately after their original meeting, but I think it’s more likely Iron Man would first stay to find Hawkeye rather than jet off to another galaxy.
· The Skrulls in the issue are speaking the Sfdsdgf dialect of Skrull. Rather than a reference to something previously established, it looks like four letters next to each other on the QWERTY keyboard were used to make this name, so it may have just been a place holder that was never filled in with a real term. (Credit to http://www.jakehateseverything.com/2006_12_01_archive.html for noticing that.)
· Emperor Dorrek VII mentions prophecies concerning the destruction of the Skrull Throneworld and Earth’s destiny as a new home for the Skrulls. The former will come true and had already happened for the readers in 1983 when Galactus destroyed Throneworld. The latter is the impetus for the Secret Invasion event where the Skrulls try to claim Earth completely, but it was still over a year in the future for the readers.
· Despite the huge amount of destruction caused to the flagship, Dorrek VII survives.
· The Skrulls mention a group of priests from the Vovco Islands that are en route to study Doctor Strange’s magical nature. Since they mention a geographic feature and not the name of a planet, this implies these islands are on the Throneworld.
· The Skrulls that impersonate the Avengers also impersonate Wasp, even though she was not an active member of the team at the time.
· Doctor Strange and Professor X team up to create a convincing illusion of Galactus that frightens the Skrull armada and allows the Illuminati to escape. They had no way of knowing the real Galactus would in future actually arrive and consume the same planet.
· The data gathering on Earths’ heroes shown here finally enables the Skrulls to create a large number of Super-Skrulls and improve their mimicry abilities.
Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow
Written by Harlan Ellison and Roy Thomas
Art by Rich Buckler and Dan Adkins
The Avengers are serving as honor guard to a chess match between a human chess champion and a computer. During the match, the champion collapses and is taken to the hospital. The team discovers that the pawn last touched had a rare contact poison on it. At the deserted chess venue, Leonard Tippit emerges from the large computer, which he had manipulated in order to have that pawn touched at the right moment. Vision had remained behind to investigate, but an attack on Tippit only causes Vision himself to be knocked out. Captain America arrives and takes out Tippit with one blow, but the strange, glowing man disappears. The rest of the team arrives, and all have a mental vision of why Tippit was there. He was approached by Uatu the Watcher two days before these events. Uatu told Tippit that a devastating nuclear holocaust will happen in the future unless five individuals around the world are killed. He also told Tippet that Tippet was a central figure in the universe and activated amazing mental powers within Tippet. At the end of this vision, the Avengers know who the other four targets are, and they split up into groups to protect them. Tippit appears at each target and defeats the Avengers, but he only manages to wound each victim. At the final battle, Tippit has been drained of most of his energy, and he is finally downed. Iron Man is inspired to create a “mentality regressor” device to drain Tippit of his energy. At this time, the Watcher appears and reveals that it was always Tippit himself who was the threat to the future. The rest of these events were a ruse to drain Tippit of his power, for even the Watcher feared him. Tippit decides that since he is the cause of the dire future, he will give up his life to prevent it, and the Watcher takes him away. We find out that all the victims will recover, and the Avengers theorize that it was Tippit himself who sent them the vision subconsciously so that they could stop him from harming anyone.
Vision: “Yes, archer, mankind will never know that they owe their future to a simple, inconspicuous drab of a man who gave his eternity that theirs would not end in flames.”
· Harlan Ellison had written the outline for this story in 1964 and proposed it to another publisher, but they thought it was too complex for comic book readers. He copyrighted it anyway. After his experience writing Avengers 88, he retooled it into an Avengers story.
· This is Rich Buckler’s first issue of Avengers. He will pencil several issues during this period and also later. George Pérez, who will become a far more prolific Avengers artist, was hired as Bucker’s assistant in 1973.
· This is inker Dan Adkins’ only issue where he is credited with inking the interior art.
· The page count goes back to the normal 21 pages.
· The captions again use the second-person style of narration, just like Ellison’s previous issue.
· The advanced chess computer in the issue is called Nimrod. In later years, an advanced Sentinel called Nimrod will be introduced, and coincidentally the Sentinel robots appear in the next issue.
· Tippit’s powers supposedly come from the Watcher releasing the 7/8 of the human brain we don’t use. Studies of the brain have shown people use nearly all of the brain all of the time, but fiction likes to use the “unused” portion of the brain as an explanation for someone gaining increased intelligence or abilities. As we find out at the end of the story, this was not even true. Tippit had the power himself all along.
· The Watcher claims that Tippit is a “focal element,” a person equally seen in all time branches. A similar theory that covers alternate realities is later introduced, but the term becomes Nexus Being. Scarlet Witch, who appears in this issue, is later shown to one of the few Nexus Beings.
· The letter column has a letter from Paul Kupperberg, who later goes on to be an editor at DC Comics and writer of hundreds of comic book stories. He recently contributed to a prose anthology, The Avenger Chronicles, but it is about a pulp hero called The Avenger, not the Marvel team.
· Immediately after the events of this issue, the Avengers team rushes to the trial of the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk (1962) 153. Daredevil, as Matt Murdock, is Hulk’s defense lawyer, and he calls Iron Man to the stand. Iron Man has to agree the Hulk is a public menace, but he thinks Bruce Banner should be spared since he is the world’s foremost nuclear physicist. The court doesn’t allow any further testimony from the Avengers, saying that Hulk’s service with the team does not mitigate his other crimes.
What to Do Till the Sentinels Come!
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott
Vision responds to an unsigned message and finds the Grim Reaper had sent it. The Grim Reaper proposes that Vision help him destroy the Avengers, and in return, Grim Reaper offers to transfer Vision’s brain to the body of Wonder Man and revive it back to life. He gives Vision time to think it over and gives Vision an amulet which can be used to contact the Grim Reaper, and Vision leaves to think about it. Meanwhile, Starcore One, a satellite which studies the sun, detects a fleet of Sentinels leaving the sun and calculates they will reach Earth in three days. A pensive Scarlet Witch goes out for a walk in the park. Vision sees a figure flying in the sky and assumes the worst. While Jarvis gathers the rest of the team, Vision and Quicksilver engage a lone Sentinel which has grabbed Scarlet Witch and has her in its hand . When the rest of the team attack, the Sentinel reveals that its mission is simply to retrieve one Mutant, so it flies through a teleportation field and flees with Scarlet Witch. Quicksilver is furious that the Avengers could not stop the Sentinel and vows to find her on his own.
Grim Reaper: “Who else should ask you to meet him alone in this God-forsaken place—but your beloved brother?”
Vision: “No man is my brother—least of all, you!”
Hawkeye, to Scarlet Witch: “You know I’ve always dug you, girl—and I think it’s time we let it all hang out!”
Narration, regarding Hawkeye: “…and, for once in his life, he does something right. For once in his life—he says nothing.”
· The credits for the issue also state that the story was from an idea by Chris Claremont. This is before he become a regular writer for Marvel Comics. He was a 23-year-old editorial assistant in the Marvel office around this time. Hey, I was also a 23-year-old editorial assistant in the Marvel organization!
· Starcore One is run by scientist Peter Corbeau. Corbeau was roommates with Bruce Banner in college and had once cured him of Hulk condition, if temporarily. Chris Claremont also assisted with the plot of the issue of Incredible Hulk in which Corbeau first appeared, and Corbeau would appear several times in X-Men during Claremont’s run.
· The Sentinels had been orbiting the sun after events in X-Men (1963) 59. The X-Man Cyclops convinced them that rather than targeting individual Mutants, they should destroy the source of mutation, the sun.
· When wondering how the news broadcaster has information on the objects coming from the sun, Hawkeye mentions Jack Anderson. Anderson was a syndicated newspaper columnist who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his reports on the Americans’ secret role in the Indo-Pakistani war.
· Quicksilver mentions the X-Men have been inactive lately. Their series had been only printing reprints since 1970 and would not return to printing original stories until 1975. Readers who wondered what was going on with them in the interim would find out in 1999 when the series X-Men: The Hidden Years printed 22 issues that took place in this time frame.
· While scanning Vision, Sentinel number 5 remarks that Vision’s body is of three decades’ vintage, a hint toward his creation in the forties as the Human Torch.
· A lonely Hawkeye makes advances toward the Scarlet Witch, kissing her. Vision sees this, but he leaves before he can overhear Scarlet Witch declaring her love for Vision to Hawkeye.
· The series Defenders (1972) debuts this month. Where the Avengers are an official team, the Defenders serve as a counterpoint, only assembling informally and when needed. Their history is often entwined with the Avengers, and they will have a major confrontation soon. They share many of the same members as well. Hulk, Doctor Strange, and Namor form the team at this time, and they are all former or future Avengers.
The Sentinels are Alive and Well!
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott
The Avengers assemble without Quicksilver or Scarlet Witch, but they have no clue how to track her down. Quicksilver goes by himself to the former Sentinel base, but finds no clues there. He decides to track down Larry Trask, the son of the Sentinels’ inventor, and he finds him in Long Island and abducts him. Dr. Corbeau calls the Avengers and warns them that solar flares are increasing in intensity and the next one, due in one hour, may cause severe damage to Earth’s creatures. A beam causing the flares is coming from the Australian desert, so the team heads there. Quicksilver gets the information from Trask that there is a second Sentinel base in Australia, so he takes Trask with him and commandeers a jet with his Avengers ID. The Avengers find the base first and begin to battle Sentinels. On the jet, Trask wonders how the Sentinels his father designed could teleport. Using his mental powers, he manages to intercept whatever beam they’re using and teleport the jet to Australia as well. This also activates his power to see the future, and he foretells that the Sentinel Number 2 will blast the Avengers within minutes and solar flares will cause the Earth to explode.
Captain America: “A word of caution—from you, Hawkeye? That really makes a warhorse like me feel old!”
· The cover graphics start to feature the text “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” above the title with this issue.
· This issue reveals that Roy Thomas has been promoted to editor, explaining why next issue is his last as writer. It also announces that former Avengers penciler and inker Frank Giacoia will become Assistant Art Director for Marvel.
· Although the story is still 20 pages long, the issue omits any visible page numbers on the art. Instead, the pages are numbered under the art and include the advertisements. This makes it seem like there 32 pages, but 12 of them are ads. Comics of this size were called 36 pages long, because they include the insides and outsides of both covers as well.
· Judge Chalmers, who is Larry Trask’s guardian, is said to live in Long Island, and the address is seen as “5 Rego Ave” on a mailbox. This address does really exist in a town in Long Island and belongs to a single-family home. Please don’t go there.
· Rick Jones shows up to go on the mission, but the team turns him away. He tries to point out that Hawkeye is normal guy without his bow, but the argument doesn’t work. Rick’s story continues in the Captain Marvel series that is relaunched in September, 1972.
· Larry Trask is a Mutant with the power of future sight. Because knowing the future is disturbing to him, he normally wears an amulet that blocks that power and affects his memory. He even wears it in the swimming pool. Elsewhere, Vision is wearing the amulet given to him by the Grim Reaper. (And when he passes through a wall, it passes with him.) Someone liked amulets this month.
· A Quinjet is said to be too slow to reach Australia in one hour. They only manage it because Thor hooks up his hammer Mjolnir to give it a power boost.
· The Quinjet appears to be destroyed in this issue, but at the end of issue 104, the team flies away in an aircraft directly from the Sentinels’ base. Sturdy! When a letter writer points that out in issue 108, the editor admits they goofed.
· The letter column features a letter from Wendy Fletcher, soon to be Wendy Pini, who will go on to create the Elfquest series with her husband Richard Pini. Though it begins as an independent series, Marvel does publish it in 1985.
· Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress who plays Pepper Potts in the Iron Man and Avengers films, was born this month.
· Starting this month with issue 5, Marvel Triple Action (1972) starts reprinting older Avengers tales, beginning with a reprint of Avengers 10.
· With this issue, this series becomes the longest American Avengers series. The later Avengers West Coast (aka West Coast Avengers) only lasted 102 issues. Foreign editions reprint tales from various series and are sometimes weekly, so many of them have lasted for more issues.
With a Bang—and a Whimper!
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott
The Avengers attempt to penetrate down to the second level of the Sentinel base. Quicksilver and Larry Trask arrive nearby, and Trask knows of a secondary access tunnel to the base, so they enter there. The Sentinel leader, Number 2, reveals his plan to the Scarlet Witch, who is serving as a battery to the Sentinels’ machinery. The next solar flare has been calculated to cause the mass sterilization of humanity and thus prevent any more Mutants from being born. While breaking in, Larry Trask has another vision of the Earth being destroyed, and this one ends in total blackness. Quicksilver manages to destroy a Sentinel, but in doing so, he injures himself and is pinned. Vision sneaks in and frees the Scarlet Witch. Number 2 shows the invading Avengers his plan, which contains models of the Earth and Sun. The explosion of the model Earth mimics Trask’s vision perfectly. Despite Number 2’s programming to not harm humans, he starts to attack the Avengers with beams from his hands, just like in Trask’s vision. Scarlet Witch hexes the Sentinel to stop his beams. Trask turns on a mutant detector, and we see that Number 2 is registering as a Mutant. We find out that close proximity to the Sun altered his programming, mutating him to develop the space-warp powers the Sentinels have been using. Seeing this, the other Sentinels attack and destroy him. With the leader destroyed, the others fall over deactivated, and one crushes Larry Trask. The blackness at the end of Trask’s vision was him foreseeing his own death.
Quicksilver: “I know you’ve been ill, Trask—and amnesiac, not even recalling you were a Mutant. Do not add the name of fool to your list of afflictions!”
Sentinel: “Resolution! You shall not pass!”
Iron Man: “He took out both of them—while we just stood here with our super-powers hanging out!”
· The story title completes the cover text, “This is the Way the World Ends!” It paraphrases the conclusion of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men.” It is also appropriate for the end of Roy Thomas’ run as writer. Including Specials, Thomas wrote 72 issues in a row of the series.
· Roy Thomas becomes the regular writer on Fantastic Four (1961), which he had actually started writing the month before this. He replaced Stan Lee as writer on that series, just as he did on Avengers.
· Number 2 calls Scarlet Witch “the most privileged of Mutants.” It is referring to the supposed honor of serving Number 2’s will, but she will indeed go on to become one of the most powerful Mutants alive. Also, she is being used here against her will in a scheme to end mutation, and in the future, she will try to do that of her own free will, depowering the Mutant population from its peak of millions of individuals to only 198 Mutants with her reality-altering power.
· The Sentinels hatch this plan because they are not allowed to harm humans. They realize that all humanity will die out of old age, but they plan to grow “pure” humans in labs to make up for this.
· Number 2 reveals he really wanted to use Marvel Girl of the X-Men to power his machine, but they chose Scarlet Witch because she was easier to find.
· Number 2 is the leader of the Sentinels. Who is Number 1? If you want that information, you won't get it.
· At one point, Thor calls his hammer “man-slaying Mjolnir.” That seems an odd reference when fighting robots.
· Iron Man enters a battle saying “Lafayette, we are here!” The Marquis of Lafayette was a Frenchman who fought as a general in the American Revolutionary War. When Americans entered World War I, an American officer said those words at the tomb of Lafayette in Paris, meaning we were there to pay back the French for their aid in our war. I don’t know who Iron Man considers Lafayette in this situation.
· Poor Larry Trask spends this issue and the last in the same skimpy one-piece bathing suit that Quicksilver kidnapped him in. He’s not the first to undergo such hardship. Wasp also spent issues 27, 28 and 29 going into battle in a swimsuit since that’s what she was kidnapped wearing.
· Larry Trask’s father, Bolivar Trask, designed the Sentinels in the first place to battle the Mutant menace. Bolivar Trask was also killed when a Sentinel fell on him, just like Larry.
· The way events transpire, the Avengers never know Quicksilver was even in Australia. Larry dies before he can fill them in. When they leave at the end of the issue, they leave Quicksilver trapped inside the base.
· The letters page features a letter from Mike W. Barr. He was a bit disappointed by issue 100 because it was wrapped up too quickly, and he thought Barry Smith’s art was “watered down” by too many panels on the pages.