Issue(s): Avengers #137, Avengers #138
Moondragon gets nominated right away. Then they go about contacting old Avengers. They start with Black Panther, and for those of you who have read Don McGregor's awesome but verbose Jungle Action series, the following panel will be hilarious:
Quicksilver gives an "Are you @#*$^ kidding me??!!?", Cap is busy dealing with the Red Skull, the Black Widow is still hanging around hoping that Daredevil will fall in love with her, and Hercules is just having too much of a damn good time on his own.
The Wasp and Yellowjacket, however, are bored (probably sitting home snapping at each other) and jump at the chance to come back (according to the Wasp, anyway).
Meanwhile, Vision is hanging around on the beach in a speedo with Wanda on their honeymoon.
They're apparently staying at the place where Wanda nearly got killed by natives during the Avengers/Defenders war, but Wanda is cool with that.
Back at the Mansion the Avengers aren't having any more luck in their recruitment efforts. Hawkeye blames the proliferation of super-hero groups. Yellowjacket shows up and gasses Hawkeye after Hawkeye gives him some lip. He's a nasty, nasty man. He says he would've liked to stay home and do his research, but Jan wanted to be an Avenger again. Thor politely suggests that he could've let Jan re-join the team without him, but Pym goes into some passive-aggressive mumbo jumbo. Hawkeye storms off, saying that he's gonna use Dr. Doom's time machine to find the Black Knight.
Failing to re-recruit any more old members, the Avengers arrange to have tryouts for new members at a sports stadium at night. Only the Beast shows up, wearing an Edward G. Robinson disguise.
Then the Stranger attacks, and then runs off just as suddenly once the two new Avengers manage to prove themselves. The Wasp, however, was badly injured during the attack. Back at Avengers' Mansion, the group fights off a mind-probe by the Stranger. They realize that for whatever reason, he's looking for the Scarlet Witch.
They decide to set some bait for the Stranger by pretending to go to where Wanda and the Vision are honeymooning. Thor and Iron Man fight over who gets to hang out with Moondragon.
When the Stranger materializes, Thor and Moondragon fight him off...
...while the other Avengers trace his origin point.
Much later, in Peter Gillis' run on the Defenders, it's said that Moondragon chose her name herself and it was a shock to the Priest of Pama because the Dragon of the Moon was a deadly fiend. In the scan above, Moondragon claims that her instructors gave her the name. We can write that off as Moondragon being glib here.
The Avengers get to the Stranger's base and fight their way through his traps. The Beast whips out his Murrow disguise again, but he's the one who winds up being surprised, because it turns out the Avengers aren't really fighting the Stranger; they're fighting the Toad.
It's literally a Scooby-Doo ending, with the Toad's disguise coming off and the Toad saying he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for that rotten X-Man.
Poor Toad was really just looking for the Scarlet Witch because she's the only woman who ever showed him any kindness, and he's got a crush on her. But considering the Wasp's injuries, the Avengers don't take pity on him.
On their way home, Yellowjacket, concerned about the Wasp, is seemingly on the verge of another nervous breakdown.
Right from the beginning, the Beast is a bit concerned about his power level relative to the other Avengers. He thinks to himself:
Wow, these guys play a lot grander game than the X-Men ever did! They've got so much power -- and they've been in high gear since I met them. I hope there's room amongst the super-stars... for a Beast.
It's also worth noting that he's got blue fur here. His fur was colored blue in Amazing Adventures #15, but the dialogue referred to it as black. Then in the Beast's Captain America appearances, it was colored kinda grey again. But in these issues, it's definitely blue.
Issue #137 was, for the most part, a nice down time issue. It was a welcome break after the Celestial Madonna insanity. Even in issue #138, Englehart is pretty good about writing interactions between the characters that feel realistic. I do suspect that the Stranger/Toad revelation was only done to justify the "Stranger in a Strange Man" title pun, though.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A footnote says this story takes place after Yellowjacket's appearance in Defenders #25
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
There's another reference to Carlos Castaneda in the book(courtesy of Englehart), but how it applies to the Beast isn't really clear.
The title to #138 is another reference to Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land".
In Giant-Size Avengers # 4, which preceded these issues, Ultron-5 said that only Vision's FACE would be red. Here, on the beach with Wanda, we see his whole body is red. Any thoughts?
I can think of three possibilities, listed in order of my preference:
1) Ultron never considered that the Vision would take off his outer layers. The Vision's costume was like a laptop skin. That the Vision might develop emotions and take off his "clothes" might never have occurred to Ultron. You could add to that the idea that when Ultron got the body of the Human Torch (who always wore a red jumpsuit, btw; maybe that was actually his skin color) from the Mad Thinker, he didn't make a lot of modifications to the visual design and just covered up the body with a new outfit he designed, which he intended to permanently leave on.
2) In anticipation of his honeymoon, the Vision has been making some improvements to his body, maybe with the help of Hank Pym and/or Donald Blake (who built his own synthetic man in Journey Into Mystery #95).
3) The Scarlet Witch sub-consciously fixed her hubby up with her reality-warping powers, which are a lot more powerful than she realizes at this time.
I think that the entire point of that "Life Force" retcon in Children's Crusade is that Wanda didn't have reality-warping powers before she went to Doom.
I'm with you on that interpretation of Children's Crusade, although i hope the final issue spells it out more clearly.
But that's retconning away her recent world-altering level powers; i think it's fair to say that even her basic hexes alter reality to some degree, and she's been experimenting with actual magic at this point as well.
Anyway, i agree with you and prefer Wanda's powers to not be so open ended, which is why i listed that option third. Since we're really just covering for a throwaway line in GSA #4, i'd stick with my option #1.
We saw that Vizh has a completely red body before; in Giant-Size Avengers #2, he takes off his glove to explode it in the Iron Man-bot, leaving his hand unclad.
I always just assumed that Ultron made the whole body red and the word "face" was merely a reference to the visible part, as well as Vizh's public persona. (The "face" he shows the world, in other words.)
Is Wanda's love of the Vision based on the fact that he is red, the color she loves most?
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