Issue(s): Avengers #215, Avengers #216
Ever since Marvel Two-In-One #1, I've been concerned because the Molecule Man seemingly died in that issue, passing his wand onto his son. But it turns out here that the original Molecule Man has basically been living in his wand and possessing whoever picks it up, including his "son", and that's why the original Molecule Man is still around. And the power is really in him, not the wand. I think if we went back and read the dialogue to Two-In-One #1 we would find some inconsistencies, but it's as close an explanation as i'm going to get, so let's live with it.
The Surfer and Molecule Man trade origins, and Molecule Man is intrigued by the concept of Galactus the planet-eater. The Molecule Man decides that he's going to go ahead and eat the Earth.
But first he traps the Silver Surfer in an encasement of solid molecules that drain his power. The Surfer sends his board to the Baxter Building, but the FF is out of town. Iron Man notices it and summons the Avengers.
The Wasp is still taking time off.
Only Tigra remains standing after the Surfer and the Avengers' attack on the Molecule Man. He spares her because she begs not to be killed and because she tells him that she might be able to like him.
This is really her arc, letting her come to grips with being on a team where she's out of her league. It actually starts with a decent sequence dealing with her cashing her Avengers' check and dealing with getting hit on by people who think she is kinky.
And while she thinks her allies are dead (but they've actually been kept alive by the Surfer), it deals with her inner turmoil. She passes on the opportunity to kill the Molecule Man when she thinks he is sleeping. And in the end she's able to get through to the Molecule Man, convince him to abandon his goal of destroying the world, and to see a therapist.
Despite this victory, Tigra decides that she doesn't have what it takes to be an Avenger and she quits the team.
There's some interesting things done with Tigra here, but it's also a shame that she quits the team. As the Cat, she was introduced as part of a deliberate effort to create some strong female characters. And she had a strong, capable personality. But after changing her into Tigra and moving her into the mainstream Marvel Universe in her Fantastic Four and now Avengers appearances, her personality evolved into the current sexy and flippant mode. Having her join the Avengers could have been an opportunity to bring her back to her core personality, and also try to balance out the male-heavy line-up. Granted, her power level isn't at all Avengers material, but the same could be said of Captain America, Black Widow, Black Panther, the Beast, and the Falcon.
Anyway, not the direction i would have wanted to go in (Tigra's ability to talk the Molecule Man isn't set up very well and doesn't rely on any special characteristic of hers), but Shooter did some interesting, if heavy handed, things with Tigra in her short tenure with the team.
This is also a good arc for the Molecule Man, converting him from a generic villain to a god with the mind of a put-upon nerd. It makes for a much more interesting character that Shooter will explore further in Secret Wars. The arc also put some limits on his powers... he's not able to affect living molecules (although the wand did re-create his own body, so clearly he does have that power and just doesn't realize it) and he's not able to create complex things that he doesn't really have an understanding of, such as plumbing.
This arc is also important for another reason; it's where Captain America (and Tigra) learn the secret identities of Thor and Iron Man. The Molecule Man destroys Cap's shield, Thor's hammer, Iron Man's armor, and the Silver Surfer's surfboard. Of course, once Iron Man's armor is gone, everyone can see his identity, and when 60 seconds expire, Thor transforms into Donald Blake.
At the end of the arc, after Tigra talks him into reforming, he restores the artifacts, but is unable to re-create Iron Man's armor. The reason is that it is too complex. Sometimes the Molecule Man's limitation is that he can't affect organic material, but in this arc, he can't create anything he doesn't understand. So he has trouble creating food, for example.
Cap, Thor, and the Surfer are lucky that he is able to grok their weapons the way he needs to.
Cameo by the FF, who show up to try and engage the Molecule Man but are unable to pierce the forcefield he's erected around New Jersey.
The dialogue is still awkward, but the writing in these issues is better than the earlier issues in Shooter's second run. I have a mixed reaction to the art. Like the writing, it's also a little unsubtle in terms of people's facial expressions and body language, and sometimes it doesn't look that great (especially people's faces) but sometimes it's pretty good. It's definitely intentionally on the farcical/comedic side, as you can see with the "Molecule Man as Galactus" and Cap riding Iron Man into battle above.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Thing is in his modern, rocky - not original lumpy - form, placing this before Fantastic Four #238. The Fantastic Four are also not available to respond to the Silver Surfer's surfboard at the beginning of this arc; still returning home from their fight with Dr. Doom in Fantastic For #236? I'm putting this essentially concurrent with Fantastic Four #237-238. It takes place before the back-up story in #238 where the Thing's transformation occurs. Also, Tigra refers to the events of Avengers #214 as having happened "yesterday". Tigra appears as a member of the Avengers in Uncanny X-Men #154-156, so this has to take place after that arc, since she quits the team here.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Jim Shooter is still criticized to this day for turning Tigra into a "cowardly slut" while in the Avengers(that description gets tossed around a lot in fan publications).
To be fair, although Tigra was more flirtatious in this arc than her previous appearances, Englehart was the one whose portrayal cemented the image of Tigra as a "slut".
There were spots open on the team. The Silver Surfer should have been offered membership.
What's the first thing Silver Surfer says after he sees Molecule Man assemble himself a body out of dirt, grass and weeds? "Good evening!" Hilarious! Only in Marvel!
Tigra's "cowardice" here is later explained away as lingering after-effects of her encounter with Ghost Rider and his penance stare. That's why she is able to rejoin the Avengers later (West Coast branch) without the self-doubt and fear that plagues her here.
As for Tigra the "slut"--its true that Englehart's run is largely responsible for that reputation, but the people who insist on throwing that label around seem to forget that her behaviour there was the result of the storyline. Englehart was NOT portraying that as Tigra's normal behaviour. She was being affected by the influence of her cat soul, and once that situation was resolved, Tigra was involved with only one man (Moon Knight), in a steady relationship, for the remainder of Englehart's run on the book.
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