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1975-11-01 00:03:10
Previous:
Marvel Chillers #4
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1975/Box 9/EiC Upheaval
Next:
Amazing Spider-Man #151-152

Avengers #141-144,147-149

Issue(s): Avengers #141, Avengers #142, Avengers #143, Avengers #144, Avengers #147, Avengers #148, Avengers #149
Published Date: Nov 75 - Jul 76
Title: "The phantom empire!" / "Go west, young gods!" / "Right between the eons!" / "Claws!" / "Crisis on Other-Earth" / "20,000 leagues under justice! / Cap'n Hawk, Tom Thumb and Amphibion vs. the Beast and Hellcat / Doctor Spectrum and the Whizzer vs. Captain America and Iron Man" / "The gods and the gang!"
Credits:
Steve Englehart - Writer
George Perez - Penciler
Vincent Colletta / Sam Grainger / Mike Esposito - Inker

Review/plot:
Who do i hate? That's right! The Squadron Supreme/Sinister/Whatever. In this book, it's "Supreme" but they're aware of their Sinister counterparts.

However, this time these guys are sinister, too, because in their universe, Captain America never exposed the corruption in the White House, so the country wound up getting taken over a by a group of corporations, who are under the control of that dimension's version of the Serpent Crown.

In our dimension, Roxxon, which has taken over the Brand corporation that the Beast used to work for, is working to achieve the same results. Since Cap has been bumping into Roxxon throughout the course of his own dealings with the Serpent Crown, he gets involved again and finds he's missed being with the Avengers (He says something about dealing with Roxxon being too close to home for the Falcon's new personality, so he left him behind. I'm not quite sure what that means.).

Also, over in Englehart's Beast stories in Amazing Adventures, he had brought in Patsy Walker and her husband Buzz Baxter. Patsy previously appeared in Marvel's Archie imitation comics (see also Millie the Model) that were presumably non-continuity and i guess Englehart just brought them in to be cute. Baxter worked for Brand. Patsy shows up here as well, demanding that the Beast make good on his promise to make her a super-hero in return for having kept his identity a secret. The Beast actually agrees to bring her along on the Avengers' mission to sneak into Brand and investigate their suspicious activities. I can't believe that the other Avenges go along with that. The Beast makes the point that Cap brought Rick along with him, but he (and Bucky) were at least trained.

Anyway, because she's tagging along, the Squadron Supreme gets the drop on the Avengers and they wind up getting captured.

While most of the Avengers went off to investigate Brand/Roxxon, Thor and Moondragon travel back in time to try and find Hawkeye, who used Doom's time machine to try and find the Black Knight after Hank Pym made an ass out of him in a passive-aggressive fit in Avengers #137. Pym and Wanda are currently in the hospital recovering from current injuries, and they are bickering constantly about whether or not to remain in the Avengers.

Instead of using Doom's machine, Moondragon contacts Immortus directly to get a guided escort through time.

Thor could have time-traveled himself, btw. Anyway, the three are ambushed in Limbo by Kang ('not Kang again! This is getting monotonous!' say even the characters in the story)...

...but they wind up in the period that Hawkeye was trapped in (again, by Kang) - 1873, in the wild, wild west. Kang has taken over the town of Tombstone, and Hawkeye has teamed up with Marvel's western heroes to stop him.

The cowboys are freaked out by Moondragon and Thor, but they welcome their help.

The most interesting aspect of the Thor/Moondragon plot is that Moondragon is constantly telling Thor that he's slumming it by hanging out with the Avengers, since he's a God and way more powerful than they are. She also thinks that she is a god, which i find funny. Kang is eventually defeated so thoroughly that he, and therefore Immortus, apparently cease to exist. This makes Moondragon sad.

Kid Colt, or maybe the Two-Gun Kid (who cares?) opts to return with Hawkeye, Thor, and Moondragon to the present. Hawkeye and the cowboy decide to hang out in the west for a while, but Thor and Moondragon return to the Avengers Mansion to find that the other half of the team hasn't returned home yet.

Back at Roxxon, the Avengers manage to escape their prison using an interesting combo of the Vision's powers and Cap's shield...

....and while they're sneaking around the building they find the Cat's old suit. Iron Man and Cap suggest that Patsy put it on, and then immediately regret it.

But she does, and takes the name Hellcat.

The suit provides her with a significant power upgrade, moreso than when the lady Donalbain originally intended to wear the suit received. Greer Nelson had to undergo quite a bit of training to be as powerful as Patsy is just by wearing the suit.

Realizing that the Avengers are free, the Roxxon execs send them to the Squadron Supreme's homeworld. There we see more of the JLA analogues - additional heroes, the satellite base, and even Lois Lane and Lana Lang.

They also make the point that, unlike what they've seen of the Avengers, the JLA always wins, and always wins neatly, without any questions or grey areas.

I assume this is a dig at DC's more straightforward style.

The president in the Squadron's world is Nelson Rockefeller, and he's got a Serpent Crown.

It's a twin of the one on our world. There are many throughout the various dimensions, and they are all connected.

The Avengers fare better in their rematches with the Squadron despite the fact that the odds are no longer in their favor.

    

They manage to get that world's Serpent Crown, although it nearly corrupts the Scarlet Witch.

And they convince the Squadron that they've been supporting a political system that is corrupt, setting things up for their eventual takeover of their world in Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme mini.

Returning to our world...

...the Avengers fight Roxxon's private army, but Roxxon still has one last trick up it's sleeve: Orka, the powerful Sub-Mariner villain. He has mighty blubber.

The Avengers are all taken out in one punch, but luckily Thor and Moondragon return.

Confirming everything that Moondragon has been saying (or perhaps he is subtly manipulated by her), Thor is unable to defeat Orka until he lets loose. There's a funny couple of lines from Thor, who is clearly getting sick of Moondragon's constant talk about Godhood, but then he seems to be convinced by her boobies.

Anyway, when he goes full power, he's pretty impressive.

He acknowledges that he's been subconsciously holding back, in part because at full strength he could accidentally kill a mortal and in part because he doesn't want to shame his companions (it might also be that he normally needs to hold back to prevent the Warrior Madness).

Very interesting character study, in my opinion.

This arc is George Perez' first on the Avengers (and a very work at Marvel over all). It's not quite in his distinctive style yet, but it's still very good.

He certainly improves the Scarlet Witch's look. She's been very poorly drawn lately, so this is a nice switch.

Despite the Squadron Supreme and the cowboys, i enjoyed this. Englehart is at his best when he's mixing in a little politics, as he does here with regard to the influence of corporate power. He gives the Beast a great, fun personality, something that has been missing even in earlier Englehard written Beast stories.

This is much better than the Celestial Madonna history lesson.

I thought it was interesting that in 1976 Marvel had an Avengers/JLA fight story with a title of "Crisis on Other-Earth".

Quality Rating: C+

Historical Significance Rating: 6 - Patsy Walker becomes Hellcat, Roxxon acquires Brand, part of the Serpent Crown saga

Chronological Placement Considerations: Avengers #145-146 were fill-in stories that take place after Avengers #149.

References:

Cross-over: N/A

Continuity Implant? N

Reprinted In: Avengers: Serpent Crown TPB

Inbound References (25): show

Characters Appearing: Amphibian (Squadron Supreme), Beast, Captain America, Captain Hawk, Doctor Spectrum, Golden Archer, Hawkeye, Hellcat, Henry Pym, Hugh Jones, Hyperion, Immortus, Iron Man, Jarvis, Kang, Kid Colt, Lady Lark, Mad Dog, Moondragon, Night Rider (Carter Slade), Orka, Rawhide Kid, Ringo Kid, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Tom Thumb, Two-Gun Kid, Vision, Wasp, Whizzer

Previous:
Marvel Chillers #4
Up:
Main
1975/Box 9/EiC Upheaval
Next:
Amazing Spider-Man #151-152

Comments

The Hugh Jones/Roxxon story was originally supposed to continue starting in Captain America #189, but Steve Englehart left the book and transplanted it here. It doesn't quite completely explain some mysterious scenes from #183-#186, but the reader can fill in the blanks.

The last panel of #149 originally showed a panel reading "Bullpen:Stick it in your ear--Steve", probably a response to the "Get on the stick" comment. Steve's caption was removed prior to publication.

The "Crisis" title is a reference to the Silver Age Justice League/Justice Society stories from DC.

Night Rider first showed up in his own book as Ghost Rider in 1967. A character with the same name and costume(actually first introduced as the Calico Kid) was published by Magazine Enterprises in the early-mid 1950s, but the copyright wasn't secured and Marvel, ah, appropriated it. When Englehart brought him back after 8 years, he was renamed Night Rider to avoid confusion with the motorcycle Ghost Rider--which was absurd due to the same story giving us different but identical-looking Hyperion, Dr. Spectrum, Golden Archer, etc. Considering that Englehart gave us the story with 2 Captain Americas, it's silly to think readers couldn't recognize 2 Ghost Riders that don't even look alike. Night Rider's name was later changed to Phantom Rider when Jim Shooter's reign learned that "Night Rider" was a term applied to the KKK. And when Bill Black of AC Comics(a former Marvel artist, briefly) reprinted the ME stories, he had to change the Ghost Rider's name to The Haunted Horseman.

Despite Iron Man and Captain America recognizing the costume, neither of them had first-hand knowledge of the Cat. As Iron Man stated, he heard the "rumor in financial circles" about the heroine's appearance in Chicago. Presumably Roxxon (and their newly-acquired subsidiary, the Brand Corporation) heard the same rumors and created their own version of the outfit. Note that it is missing the 'cat's claw" emblem on the chest that all the Cat uniforms possessed.

Hey Darci, thanks for the comments. I just want to make sure i understand: are you suggesting the "Roxxon/Brand created a duplicate Cat costume" as a 'fix' for the fact that Patsy's suit, unlike the original immediately gave her powers? Or are you saying that was the original intent?

Either way, it's an interesting idea (not sure if it's contradicted anywhere; i'll keep an eye out), although it raises the question of why they would have abandoned the suit for storage or why they would stick with the cat motif.

This article has a similar theory:
http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/manticog.htm

It seems the relevant portion of that article was written by Darci! ;-)

Patsy and Millie were always in 616-continuity; they were at Reed and Sue's wedding in FF Annual 3. Patsy makes reference to having had a crush on Reed Richards in this story, but I don't know if that was an actual feature in the 1960s romance comics.

Man, that's some weak-ass inking by Vinnie Coletta on #141. He redeems himself in #142, though.

It notable that right after this, Englehart goes to DC and writes the JLA. And gets letters that are like "wow! Character development! That's new!". So perhaps his critique did have some merit, after all.

Continuing the conversation from last Sept. (!!!), yes, I think Roxxon/Brand heard the rumors and created the Hellcat costume for their own agents. I've been told there is (but never seen) a page detailing the suit's internal circuitry in a black-and-white Hulk book. None of that was needed for Shirley or Greer, who received their powers from Dr. Tumolo's experiment.
Note that this is NOT what Marvel says. Someone (Peter Sanderson?) wrote in Tigra's article in the original OHotMU that Donalbain was an ex-employee of Brand, and they confiscated his stuff after he died. That was never in any other book, and doesn't explain why Patsy gained powers without going through Dr. T's treatments. Also, how to handle the fact that Donalbain had dozens of Cat uniforms at his HQ? Where did the cat's paw logo go? I'd love to read someone else's explanation.
Hope this helps!

Jo Duffy and Peter Gillis have letters in #144, and Jo Duffy appears again in #148.

I like Hellcat. I wish she had chosen to stay with the Avengers, but she joined the Defenders instead. In the letters pages in one of these issues, the Scarlet Witch is promised a new costume soon, but that fails to materialize. The battle in Avengers 149 between Thor and Orca was quite epic.

Patsy may have evolved but honestly I think when people wanted The Cat for the Avengers, they wanted Greer...but the fact she's now Tigra threw a bone into that idea (until 1981 anyway) and thus somehow they made it work by bringing in another legacy Marvel character (well legacy due to her romance books) who was brought into the uni thanks to the Beast stories and they had around somehow. It worked out ultimately...but it does make you wonder what would have happened if Giant Size Creatures didn't happen and Greer became an Avenger at this point as The Cat.

The reference to the Falcon's new personality could be a bad pun about how, when he was a pimp, he used to help people 'get their rocks on/off'? I hope so, more comics need Captain America making sexy talk jokes.

Maybe he meant it's too close too home for the Falcon because Jones was involved in the story where they found out the truth about the Falcon.

"We'll see more of Hawkeye and the Two-Gun Kid in a future Marvel Spotlight*, folks". "*Get on the stick with it, Steve - the Bullpen". It never happened. His next appearance is a back-up in the reprint title Marvel Tales #100, and then he'll show up in the Champions.

Hawkeye and Two-Gun Kid appear in The Champions #11.

Not crazy about Perez' art. Many of his poses look stiff. The faces sometimes fail badly, as in Wasp's crooked face in a panel above. Could be the shoddy inking too. Vision vs Hyperion, kinda blah poses there, were they dancing? I guess when you were growing up with the Buscema Brothers and John Romita who can compare? Bob Brown did an adequate job before Perez took over. With all this criticism I'll be fair and add a favorite panel, and that's the Hellcat's full page. Very nicely done, as well as some of her rooftop shots. My biggest art critique in comics is with female faces, and Perez is hit and miss. Hits with Hellcat, misses with Wasp.

In Comics Interview #50, Perez states that he didn't give Iron Man a nose in his first issue, but he was forced to anyway. He also claimed that the Iron Nose was forced on Marvel because some toy Iron Man figure had one, but I can't guess what he was referring to. Was there an Iron Man Mego?

The Mego Iron Man did have a noise, but Brian Cronin points out that the toy came out a year after the nose first appeared in the comics:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/05/27/comic-book-legends-revealed-262/#comment-786051

That said, i don't know how long it took behind the scenes to have the toy developed.

Figured out why the Western Ghost Rider got renamed Night Rider: In 1974 when Marvel was really expanding its reprints, apparently the reprint Outlaw Kid Atlas stories by Doug Wildey did really well. Marvel chose to capitalize by speeding up more Western reprints, including the 1967 Ghost Rider. Back then Marvel didn't want to utterly confuse buyers with two books under the same name(unlike now) so the reprint book got called "Night Rider" due to the Johnny Blaze book. Either Englehart didn't know this or just plain forgot it, as one panel in #142 is clearly relettered to say "...the original Night Rider."(Nobody bothered to realize that leaving "original" in that sentence didn't make sense, as the other Night/Phantom Riders didn't exist in 1975).


 
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