Issue(s): Avengers #80, Avengers #81
But we have here the Red Wolf on the trail of a criminal. Unfortunately the Vision, in his weird rubber body secret ID, is in the area...
...and he gets the wrong idea and interferes with the Wolf's mission. Despite it being his first appearance, the Wolf is no match for the Vision and is easily knocked out.
Vision has recently quit the team, but the encounter with Red Wolf causes him to decide to return to the Mansion.
It's not exactly clear that Red Wolf has any actual super-powers. Will Talltrees became the Red Wolf after a great wolf spirit told him that he should do so...
...but that could have been his own grief-stricken imagination (his parents were just killed) and we don't really see any transformation or demonstration of new abilities. Then he got attacked by a wolf mother, killed it, and adopted its pup, naming it Lobo...
...but whether that was the intention of the wolf spirit or just a coincidence is probably open for interpretation. His costume and axe were his own. So he's a guy in a costume with a pet wolf. Pretty similar to the Falcon, actually.
Meanwhile, the other Avengers are getting ready to take down the Zodiac...
...but the Black Panther, still having doubts about the merits of super-heroing, starts up a debate about what the Avengers' next mission should be.
Even the Black Panther's alternative suggestion shows the limitation of addressing social issues in a super-hero comic. The real world argument is that the likes of Iron Man and Black Panther could do more for the world with their wealth and technological genius than fighting bad guys, whether those guys wear costumes or not. And in the 70s, the radical argument was that all these super-heroes ought to be fighting the corrupt establishment power structure. Obviously you can't do the latter in a mainstream super-hero comic without really changing the nature of your shared universe. As to fighting organized crime, a couple of points. First, with Spider-Man and Daredevil and even the actions of the Avengers in their solo books, you'd think that non-super crime would already be under control (think back to the early Ant-Man stories where eventually Hank and Janet had run out of crime to fight). Second, as real world critics of super-hero comics, you could make the argument that fighting super-villains is a way to ignore real world issues. But in story, the Zodiac is a very real threat of the sort that only the Avengers can really handle. So Black Panther's argument doesn't seem like it's structured properly. I suppose it makes sense for him to be the voice of this argument (although you could argue that the king of a technologically advanced foreign nation doesn't necessarily have to feel a kinship with poor black Americans; honestly, i'd rather see this argument coming from Captain America). But the argument should have been designed better to take into account the realities of the fictional world it was taking place in. Telling Captain America that the world-threatening menace of the Zodiac isn't worth his time doesn't really make sense.
Anyway, it's during this debate that the Vision shows up with Red Wolf. The Wolf explains that he's on the trail of Cornelius Van Lunt, who killed his parents and is attempting to steal his people's land. So now the debate is between helping Red Wolf go after Van Lunt (especially since they've got their own score to settle with him) or go after the Zodiac. This will turn out to be a "stop, you're both right" situation since we'll soon learn that Van Lunt is backing the Zodiac (and much later we'll learn he's actually a member of the Zodiac, Taurus).
Issue #80 ends relatively amicably, with the Avengers agreeing to split up their ranks and deal with the two separate issues (while the Black Panther goes off on his own).
But #81 starts with Cap, Thor, and Iron Man talking like the team angrily broke into splinter groups.
Anyway, the rest of this story focuses on the Red Wolf/Van Lunt team. They head out west in a Quinjet, but it gets blown up from space by some robots controlled by Van Lunt.
The Scarlet Witch quickly and disappointingly becomes a captive victim of Van Lunt's men, and the Vision is compelled to act as Van Lunt's bodyguard to ensure her safety.
This may be the first hint of a future Vision/Scarlet Witch romance.
Meanwhile, Hawkeye-Goliath and Red Wolf encounter the Wolf's people and Red Wolf tries to rally them to help attack Van Lunt's compound. One of the men wants to help, but has his doubts. While he's having his internal debate, he calls himself an Uncle Tomahawk.
But the men agree to help after Van Lunt sends people to attack them all.
This of course sets up a confrontation between Goliath and the Vision...
...and the Vision makes absolutely no effort to explain why he's switched sides.
I can't imagine why not. So we get pointless fisticuffs. It's a maddening plot especially since having the Scarlet Witch getting captured and held hostage in the first place is so frustratingly old fashioned for 1970.
And to top it all off, this is the Red Wolf's introductory story but he doesn't really get to do much except be outraged as his people are killed.
The lines about avenging might indicate he was getting set up to be an Avenger but maybe that was nixed based on lack of reader response. Maybe if he had some actual powers and a more active role in this story...
The story does end with Red Wolf and Van Lunt battling under a collapsing dam, but we don't get to see much of the fight and the next thing we know Will Talltrees is showing up in his civilian clothes although everyone involved is aware that he's the Red Wolf.
Some kudos for the creation of a Native American super-hero, although i do wish he didn't have "Indian powers" since that's what nearly all Native American heroes get for powers. It's like if all your Irish heroes were called things like Banshee and Shamrock. Oh wait... Anyway, i noted the Red Wolf's similarities to the Falcon above, and one might ask why all of the early non-white heroes basically don't have super-powers. Why not a cosmically powered Wyatt Wingfoot, if you wanted to make a Native American super-hero? I'm not necessarily saying that's a great idea since i like Wyatt as a non-powered friend to Johnny Storm, but it would have been pretty easy to give him powers unrelated to his ethnicity. Or just create a new super-hero who happens to be Native American but doesn't run around with a tomahawk and no shirt.
Roy Thomas' out-of-character expository dialogue alert: Red Wolf, after being rescued by Clint after the attack on the Quinjet, tells him "There are those who say you did not earn your growing powers, Goliath... because another man created the formula! Yet, this day, I know they are wholly wrong!".
Red Wolf wasn't depicted as being completely isolated on a reservation (he worked in construction in New York and before that did a stint in Vietnam) but i don't see him keeping up with the minute details of the Avengers. He didn't even recognize the Vision at the start of the story; would he really be aware that this Goliath is not the original?
Tangentially related to Wanda's treatment in this issue, a letter in #81 complains about the sexism in this series. The writer's focus is Hawkeye-Goliath's and Arkon's dialogue, and the response is that the dialogue is in character, which i buy. But then the response goes on to say:
However, if you think we're a bunch of "male chauvinist pigs", to use a phrase from a current PLAYBOY article on the subject, we hasten to add that we'll be featuring a bevy of our lady super-doers very, very prominently in a couple of issues, when Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, the winsome Wasp, and (surprise) Medusa are united under the leadership of our newest femme fatale, the vengeful Valkyrie!
Yeah. I'm sure that issue made everyone feel better.
Anyway, whatever else is going on here, it's John Buscema/Tom Palmer art, so it can't be that bad.
There is fortunately no scene like the one depicted on the cover of issue #80, where Thor stares dumbly ahead while Captain America stands paralyzed with terror at the sight of a leaping wolf.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The story for the other half of the Avengers is covered in Avengers #82, but Black Panther first appears in Daredevil #69. Cap appears here between Captain America #132-133. Thor between Thor #174-175. I've broken with the Index/MCP on Iron Man's placement. See my note in Iron Man #21 for that; i think any reasonable break in Iron Man's stories will do and i've got him here between IM #25-26.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Marvelmania #2 actually did announce that Red Wolf was joining the Avengers.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 10, 2013 9:33 PM
it just honest like you have a personal thing against the scripts of roy Thomas. he didn't get to where he is because he sucked. did he write ANY story that gets your approval??
Posted by: RG Granito | June 12, 2014 11:19 AM
Hi RG, sorry you don't like my reviews. I actually love Roy Thomas. I think without him there may have not been a long-term Marvel universe, since he was so instrumental in expanding on the continuity aspects introduced by Stan Lee, and he devoted a lot of stories to fixes that made things more consistent. He's a very important part of the Marvel legacy and that's reflected by the Historical Significance Ratings in my reviews. I certainly don't have a vendetta against Thomas, as you wrote on the entry for Thor #174 (which, by the way, was a Lee/Kirby book).
That said, i personally don't find Thomas' actual writing to be very good. I find him to be overly verbose, to the point where it detracts from the art. I think he's overly nostalgic for the Golden Age and DC characters, to the point where it derails (for me) the ending of the Kree-Skrull War and where he's introducing and re-using the Squadron Supreme/Sinister characters beyond what was necessary. I find his writing of female characters to be problematic and sometimes explicitly anti-feminist. And i find his plotting to be ambling, with many long "epics" that lose focus and go down weird tangential rabbit holes before petering out.
You can make allowances for all of the above considering the time period and personal preference but my Quality Rating score takes all of that into account. And it makes it difficult for me to recommend his stuff to a modern reader based on the writing quality alone. Again, the fact that his stuff is likely to get high Historical ratings counterbalances that, basically recommending that people check the stuff out but with the warning that the writing is going to be a hurdle. Please see the explanation for the Quality Rating on the sidebar if you haven't already.
I'd love for you to counterbalance my reviews with your own opinions. Explain why you like the writing instead of just complaining that i don't. But if you can't do that, there are plenty of other websites out there that will treat this stuff with pure reverence.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 12, 2014 12:57 PM
There's something about Roy Thomas that is really dry when he just doesn't quite click with the material. But he did help create the Vision didn't he and that's quite a mark there.
Posted by: david banes | June 12, 2014 2:25 PM
I think that for many of us, our love of Roy the Boy owes its origin to the fact we encountered his writing when we ourselves were children, our critical faculties undeveloped. I have to admit, it has been fnord and this site that has gotten me to reassess my love of Roy's writing... and when you put a lot of his scripts to the test as an adult reader with more sophisticated and demanding sensibilities, they simply don't hold up. The Kree-Skrull War would be my Exhibit A.
Posted by: Zeilstern | June 12, 2014 5:28 PM
I've never really been in love with Roy's classic work at Marvel. The ideas were great and he contributed a lot to making the company successful but reading the actual issues is somewhat of a chore for me due to his very dry writing style. It's not that I can't stand pre-80s style writers, either. I like Englehart and Conway, for example. I even like the corny scripting of Lee and also Kirby on his solo work. But something about Roy's writing just makes me drowsy. The work of his that I actually liked the most wasn't even Marvel. It was All-Star Squadron over at DC.
Posted by: Robert | June 12, 2014 5:55 PM
I have to wonder if "Will Talltrees" wasn't taken from Willo Talltree in Magnus, Robot Fighter #19(1967)
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 15, 2014 5:09 PM
I think Zeilstern hit the nail on the head. Many of us first read these stories when we very young and less discriminating. If it had cool villains, fighting, and great Buscema art, that was enough. In Roy's defense, coming up with engaging stories month after month (for several titles) is not easy. He had a lot of creative ides, he just sometimes fell short in the execution. If nothing else, Roy will always have my gratitude for bringing Conan the Barbarian to comics, and for his inspired run with Barry-Windsor Smith on that book.
Posted by: Fish | August 3, 2014 7:33 AM
I also liked Thomas' more mature work on All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. for DC, very much. His best work for me however was all the fan-oriented prose and industry history stuff he wrote for Alter-Ego and other fan mags. In the 90s I wrote him a long-hand letter, asking for all sorts of crazy details about the early Legion of Super-Heroes, which was hardly his specialty, but he had written about them in Alter-Ego or some other fan mag, and he graciously replied to my letter, and answered all my questions to the best of his ability, without so much as a dime in it for him.
Posted by: James Holt | October 31, 2016 1:03 AM
Although here it was most likely due to sexism, I kinda like the idea of the Scarlet witch having trouble fighting normal thugs. Her powers are so high level that it makes sense. She can defeat a super-duper threat like Ultron, but a thug with fisticuffs gives her trouble. Kind of like trying to use a bazooka to defeat a guy in a steetfight. A shank would better serve.
Posted by: kveto | February 6, 2018 6:20 AM
The debate the Panther instigates regarding the team's approach to organized crime reminds me a bit of what Denny O'Neil was doing with the Justice League around the same time, eschewing the bland, stilted Silver Age dialogue and differentiating between the cosmic, big picture, universal crisis faction (Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc.) and the more grounded, "real world", concern-for-the-little-guy faction (Batman, Green Arrow, Atom).
Posted by: Brian Coffey | April 10, 2018 9:33 PM
@Brian Coffey: I know, right? The premise and the dialogue in Avg. #80 has always reminded me specifically of 1968's Justice League of America #66, O'Neil's first JLA story.
Posted by: Shar | April 10, 2018 11:08 PM
Maybe Red Wolf isn't exactly Avengers material, although who knows? Maybe he would have caught on. His look was decent enough. I'm surprised how few appearances he actually has on the list. Nobody could use the guy for something? Not the Defenders? Not the Champions? Heroes for Hire?
Posted by: Shaun Raygun | May 20, 2018 8:23 PM
I like the name Red Wolf, and the wolf head gear is evocative. The character's main problem is his powers. Does he have any? Marvel already has multiple heroes with peak normal human abilties or low grade physical powers. But Cap has his shield, Black Panther has vibranium, Falcon can fly (although not yet when this was published), and Daredevil has his radar sense. Red Wolf having Lobo just doesn't cut it. If he had been more like a Wolverine/Sabretooth/Puma type character combined with the ability to change into a wolf himself, he'd have something distinctive to offer the Avengers (or any other team).
It would take more work to make him a successful solo title, and this is something Marvel has struggled with for any characters not created by Kirby and Ditko. Their work established enough toys in the toybox for subsequent creators to keep going, but almost every character since then has failed to hold a solo title despite some very good concepts. They just don't create an interesting enough mythos with good supporting casts, an intriguing rogues gallery, and clear distinctive voice. So I don't think even a superpowered Red Wolf series would have proved longer lasting than Power Man, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, Spider-Woman, or Captain Marvel.
Posted by: Chris | May 20, 2018 11:32 PM
I’m still writhing in pain from when Thunderbird died in X-Men #95! The Native American heroes like Red Wolf and Thunderbird are inspiring. But Chris above is right Red Wolf needs some power upgrades, maybe even heightened levels of inter dimensional senses that allow him increased intuition and moments he can slow down time....perhaps access at the soul level of those he’s engaging or enchanting, like a super medicine man?
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | May 23, 2018 12:09 AM
Perhaps Lobo is actually a robot designed by Boston Dynamics...just sayin
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | June 13, 2018 2:13 AM
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