Friday, June 21, 2013

Avengers 136 and other updates

Avengers 136 (including other updates)

     I had already included Avengers 136 where it belongs chronologically, so it can be found between Avengers 100 and 101, but I'll include it again here after the list of other updates so the numerical series continues unbroken. 
     I had been trying to read the series in order and not read ahead too much, but with the Immortus/Kang/Rama-Tut story being important to the last bunch of issues, I broke down and decided to reread the Avengers Forever mini-series from 1999. That mini-series retroactively changed some of the context for a few past issues I've already covered on this blog, so I had a few updates to add to those entries.
For Avengers 2
  • Space Phantom's claims of an alien race invading are later revealed as lies. His true mission was to break up the team. At least he got Hulk to leave, so partial win!
  • I updated the entry on the hunt for Sandman seen in Untold Tales of Spider-Man 3 to mention that Sandman will someday be a member of the Avengers.

For Avengers 10
  • Merlin, Goliath, and Hercules are later revealed to be Space Phantoms taking on those roles for Immortus. We have to assume Attila the Hun and Paul Bunyan are also fakes.
  • I also altered some other factoids about Hercules and Goliath that became moot with the historical figures being fakes.
For Avengers 106
  • I updated a factoid about Space Phantom to show he appeared in issue 10 in disguise.
For Avengers 108
  • This plot to give Vision a human body was part of Immortus' long-term plans. He expected that Vision would turn down Captain America's body, but then realize that his own body was human enough to pursue romance with the Scarlet Witch. This matchmaking with an artificial man was to a scheme prevent Scarlet Witch from ever giving birth. Her children were destined to be troublesome, so Immortus hoped this would prevent them from being born.
For Avengers 124
  • I updated to reflect that the Priests of Pama defeated the Star-Stalker by bring magma to the surface to weaken him.
  • This Star-Stalker's name is later revealed to be Varanus. He has a son, Biawak, who will also take on the Star-Stalker name. They are supposedly mutants of the Vorm race of extraterrestials.
  • Varanus will not appear again until Avengers 353 as part of a Legion of the Unliving, a group of dead foes.

Avengers Vol 1 136

Avengers 136
Iron Man: D.O.A.
June, 1975
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-Thingwriter 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 only 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 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.

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