Issue(s): Avengers #137, Avengers #138
Thor is actually the leader of the group at the moment.
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 Robinson 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 Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): 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.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 20, 2011 10:28 PM
The title to #138 is another reference to Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 18, 2011 12:27 AM
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?
Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2012 3:49 AM
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.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 6, 2012 10:26 AM
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.
Posted by: Michael | February 6, 2012 7:40 PM
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.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 6, 2012 9:48 PM
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.)
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 3, 2013 6:34 AM
Is Wanda's love of the Vision based on the fact that he is red, the color she loves most?
Posted by: Steven Printz | August 4, 2013 11:08 PM
Again, with two major characters romantically interested in Moondragon. Granted, I have the benefit of knowing where the character will go, but still. What the hell is wrong with these people?
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 10, 2015 11:50 AM
Fnord, just before the Toad-reveal-panel, you refer to Beast's Edward G. Robinson disguise as Edward R Murrow.
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 3, 2015 5:37 AM
Heh, thanks Thanos6.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 3, 2015 11:54 AM
The connection between Toad and the Stranger goes back to the Stranger's very first appearance, in X-Men 11, so the revelation isn't really that far fetched.
Posted by: Andrew | January 12, 2016 10:26 PM
I'm the Frog, see?
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | September 18, 2016 6:14 PM
Jumping on what Erik said, is it supposed to be insinuated that Moondragon was mentally manipulating the team? If that's the case, you'd wonder why they'd even let her through the door.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 15, 2016 12:45 AM
Absolutely not. That's the standard go to excuse for people who hate Moondragon. There's a very good reason a lot of characters have fallen for Moondragon almost immediately. This is not necessarily because they fancy her but because they find her so alien and enticing. Someone like Daredevil had only romanced Karen Page and Black Widow, both two fairly down-to-earth women, so when he is faced with the otherworldly beautiful and confident “Goddess” she represents something so entirely interesting and so very different to him, it becomes an intense obsessive attraction. It’s an irresistible lust for the unknown and new.
Plus, why WOULDN'T you immediately be attracted to someone who is attractive? There's no reason not to be attracted to Moondragon until you discover her personality. Moondragon was about as reserved as Moondragon can be in these issues. Why WOULDN'T famous ladies man Iron Man be drawn to her? Why WOULDN'T Thor the God see a potential kindred spirit in a proclaimed “Goddess”?
I don't want to get into the idea that people are of the same mindset of someone like Jim Shooter who was scared of Moondragon as she inadvertently represents an actual strong female character (rather than a man's idea of one), but other than her confidence and her lack of hair, how is what's seen in these issues ANY different from a few issues ago when everyone was thought bubbling about how amazing Mantis was?
Posted by: AF | December 15, 2016 7:35 AM
She wasn't supposed to be manipulating the team in issue 138, On the other hand, AF, she DID seem to be manipulating Hellcat in issue 151 ("I...I must".)
Posted by: Michael | December 15, 2016 8:02 AM
That hasn't been confirmed but I'll agree from the character's history is more than likely the case.
Although at that point it's worth noting Moondragon wasn't abusing her powers. She did manage to "manipulate" Thor purely through debate rather than just outright using her powers (though there is a casual reference from Iron Man in #151 about "putting an idea" in Thor's head that could be, and no doubt will be, inferred as "evidence" of mind control).
I don't think it was until Korvac Saga/Jim Shooter that she began being unrepentant, selfish and evil with her powers with that scene with Quicksilver (it's a shame that it didn't start happening until AFTER Korvac, because then there'd at least be a sort of reason for it)
As for Hellcat, there doesn't seem to be any enmity between them until Moondragon reclaims the mental powers from her in Defenders #77 (and even that enmity doesn't last beyond that issue). I think it could just as equally be argued that Moondragon's offer appealed to the Hellcat because Patsy wanted to be a hero and Moondragon's insistence and demanding tone made it hard for Patsy to say no to the offer of journey into space for training. (Spoken like someone who only very recently analysed and wrote up a whole essay about Hellcat/Moondragon).
As Moonie fangirl, I like to read into Heather as genuinely caring for Patsy and am happy that no-one has came along and retconned it into more "evil Moondragon" stuff.
Posted by: AF | December 15, 2016 9:02 AM
Actually, let me dig out my Classic Marvel Figurine Collection magazine for Moondragon, there's an interview with Englehart about Moondragon on the Avengers...
"I'd gotten rid of Mantis... I forget all the changes I was making but basically I'd brought in two lightweight characters. I mean the Beast was not particularly strong - at least not when compared to the Hulk, say - but he's sort of funny, loose guy (at least the way I wrote him), Patsy Walker was also obviously a lightweight - the Hellcat costume wasn't gonna give her big-time powers. I thought that in order to balance that out, in order to have some sort of range and dynamic tension and all that sort of thing... Moondragon because she's supercilious would be a good person to throw into the mix now that I'd thrown in these two happy-go-lucky lighter characters.
Her whole thing - because she was so supercilious, I mean - her thing was basically sort of anti-Avengers. She joined the group because it was a sign of status. But at the same time she always felt she was sort of above all these people and the only person she really thought was sort of on her level was Thor because he was a god. The rest of them, the bottom of the totem pole would be the Beast and Patsy Walker but even Captain America and Iron Man and people like that she figured were below her. So I thought: 'That's an interesting dynamic. Nobody's done that!' Again, that was the watchword all the way through: Nobody's done that so let's do it!"
Posted by: AF | December 15, 2016 9:19 AM
"I like Super Heroes and so my teams... unless it was one that wasn't supposed to work... my Defenders, they were prickly but they sort of hung together; the Avengers were always very team-oriented and very supportive of each other, long before I got there that had been established. So having someone in the group who was the complete antithesis to that, again, had never been done.
She'd be raised to be a goddess and she was just above everybody. It was like: 'I'm extremely powerful, I'm extremely wonderful and you're not! And we don't even have to argue about it... I know that to be true and I know how cool I am and so now... let's be a team!' except she wouldn't actually say that. She's like 'If you're not doing it my way, you're not doing it right!'
The great thing about her, really, was that she was the normal American girl who was yanked off the Earth and turned into this alien. She did not share the common humanity of most people. And yet she was human to start with and - had I stayed on that book and explored her for a while - I don't really know how much I would have opened up her humanity. I don't think I would ever have had her really come down off her high horse. She might have been able to understand the frailties and foibles of other people a little better after a while. But, again, I didn't get to stick with her."
Those magazines are great for the b-list and c-list characters as they often have creators talking in-depth about ones they don't usually.
Posted by: AF | December 15, 2016 9:25 AM
The Beast probably dresses like Edward G. Robinson because Robinson starred in a film called "The Stranger".
At one point the Beast calls the Stranger "Cesar Romero", most likely due to the similar mustaches.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 1, 2017 10:55 AM
Regarding the panel with Thor and the Black Panther: That had to be a shot at McG's "verbose" take on T'Challa and company in Jungle Action. Not exactly like reading Ernest Hemingway, is it? My God, and people think Chris Claremont is wordy! The Panther's two speech balloons alone are packed with more melodrama than a Douglas Sirk film festival.Speaking of which, a confession: I've had a "magnificent obsession" of working a Sirk reference into a post on Claremont's writing. However, after seeing this panel, it must have been "written in the wind" that I use it here instead. All right, I know, I've milked this point for "all that heaven allows", so I'd best get back to my "imitation of life".:)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | July 10, 2017 10:24 PM
According to Brian Cronin, Avengers #137 is the first time Beast says "Oh, my stars and garters". (It apparently is a joke on the more understandable "Oh my stars", refering not to stars in the sky but awards on a uniform: "The earliest written reference of the phrase was in Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” in 1712: “While Peers, and Dukes, and all their sweeping train, And Garters, Stars and Coronets appear.”)
Posted by: Andrew | October 11, 2017 5:56 AM
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