Issue(s): Avengers #83
The Valkyrie gives an origin for herself but i'm not going into it because it's false. She points out the (very real) sexism in the Marvel Universe and then leads them on a mission to Rutland, Vermont.
Rutland is having a Halloween parade, which means everyone is dressed like a super-hero. This was an event that appeared for a few years in the 70s, and has a real-life analogue. The male Avengers themselves have been invited to appear in the parade, and Roy Thomas wrote himself and his wife into the story as well.
The Masters of Evil are at the parade as well. They are after a device created by a local professor that has something to do with parallel time. The professor is so attached to the device that he even brings it to the Halloween parade.
In the ensuing fight with the Avengers, the Radioactive Man seems to forget that he is radioactive, has super-strength, an impenetrable forcefield, and the ability to hypnotize. Instead he relies on a "cement gun". When the Liberators show up to help, the Scarlet Witch knocks him out with a tree. The rest of the Liberators help the male Avengers take out their opponents.
After the Masters are defeated (waaaaay too easily), the Liberators turn on the Avengers. After acquiring the parallel time device, the Valkyrie reveals herself to actually be the Enchantress. She is very bitter because the Executioner has broken up with her. The Scarlet Witch attacks her, seemingly destroying her.
The issue ends with a bizarre sit-com style fight between Hawkeye, who trash talks "that women's lib bull" and the Scarlet Witch, who calls him a male chauvinist pig.
This issue is an embarrassment. It takes the very serious problem of Marvel's male writers' treatment of female characters and makes a complete joke out of it. The fact that Thomas had the Enchantress/Valkyrie mention what are (to me) serious concerns about female characters, and then have the character raising those points turn out to be a villain who is only raising those points because a) she is evil and b) she was spurned by a male, says to me that he doesn't take those concerns seriously. This will be borne out by the rest of his issues on Avengers (and in fact all his titles, or anything published under his reign as editor in chief), which do nothing to address Marvel's legacy.
This issue is also part of the muddled origin of the Valkyrie. It doesn't make much sense that the Enchantress would impersonate a real Asgardian entity that none of the Liberators had ever seen before, but here she is.
Also, you can mark this issue down as where Klaw and the Radioactive Man (along with the Melter and Whirlwind) ceased to be anything more than throwaway villains. They are basically a distraction here, defeated in a few panels in a sequence that barely has anything to do with this issue's plot.
Throw all of that in with the fact that the basic setting for this issue is an in-joke between Roy Thomas and some of his friends, and you have a real clunker. I'm sure it was meant to be a fun offbeat episode but it wound up being offensive.
It looks good, though.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
Roy Thomas stated that the Valkyrie was based on his then-wife Jeannie.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 3, 2013 6:07 PM
That is particularly weird ("Honey, i wrote this caricature of a feminist based on you!") and reminds me of the fact that Roy Thomas wrote Avengers #60 on his honeymoon.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 3, 2013 11:03 PM
I'm sorry you hated the issue. I love it!
Posted by: Steven Printz | August 4, 2013 3:44 PM
I also loved this issue and took no offense to the treatment of female characters. Then again I was 14 at the time! But this was a time where they were not as many heroines compared to today, where it seems to be almost even with the super genders. This was also a time where a couple of our favorite male sluggers got slugged back by single female adversaries - speaking of the Harpy and Thundra. (I talked about them in those issue's web pages). So I looked at it all as the women trying to establish themselves as formidable heroes/villains in the Marvel universe. Joke or not, I took this issue seriously, with a little humor on the side, like I did with a lot of Marvel's stories.
Posted by: Mike | July 28, 2014 12:31 AM
Even the "Roy" in the story is a sexist pig ("Cool it, kid"). I suppose it's some sort of milestone that the issues were even raised, though. Visibility is the first step towards progress and all that.
The Avengers may not have actually met Brunnhilde herself, but they were obviously familiar with her depiction in popular culture throughout the years. So it's a nice way to explain "I have Asgard-level powers" without the "I'm the Enchantress, duh!" revelation being too obvious, I thought.
And yeah, Roy is so done with the Masters, having created the Zodiac and the Lethal Legion within the past year. Still, I'll always love Rutland for inspiring the first-even inter-company crossover (Amazing Adventures 15/Thor 207/Justice League of America 103). Plus a recurring setting outside of NYC is always good.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 5:16 AM
PS-Hey, Dave "Whirlwind" Cannon! Maybe you shouldn't be calling Quicksilver "mutant" so derisively? You're one as well, you know. (One of Marvel's first, actually.) Just saying.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 5:18 AM
To me there are two ways of approaching this issue, both of them completely valid.
First is fnord's view. Thomas does indeed take any notion of women's liberation and mock it and throw it out the window. The female Avengers are duped and lead around by a villain.
The second is the pure entertainment aspect. It actually brings in some more female heroes, it brings us the first Rutland parade (Dennis O'Neill and Neal Adams will bring it into the DC universe a year later) and is just plan goofy.
This is actually one of the issues I still have, the final one in my Treasury Edition.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 1, 2015 12:51 PM
Interesting how the story notes Whirlwind escaped at the end of Avengers 55, but since then, and including this issue, Roy seems to have dropped the whole "Janet's chauffeur is Whirlwind in disguise" plot. It isn't until Marvel Feature that it's picked back up.
Posted by: mikrolik | July 15, 2016 11:44 AM
I agree that the Valkyrie's eventual origin was *very* muddled indeed. But I suppose that Roy Thomas must have decided that John Buscema's design for the character was so striking & effective (which it is) that it would have been a waste to just have it as a one-off disguise for the Enchantress, and so brought back Valkyrie as a separate character less than a year later in Incredible Hulk #142. And that, of course, led to Steve Engleheart introducing yet another incarnation of the character in Defenders. Convoluted backstory aside, Val is a good character.
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 15, 2016 9:11 PM
But it wasn't really the early issues that muddled Valkyrie's origin- the problem was when Defenders 66-68 revealed she was a real Valkyrie and not just one of the Enchantress's conjurings.
Posted by: Michael | August 15, 2016 11:39 PM
I can see how if they are written correctly, Klaw and the Radioactive Man could be threats to the Avengers by themselves. I think a good Masters of Evil team should have villains who probably couldn't handle a whole team of Avengers by themselves, but as a team they could be more formidable. One example of a good silver-age team I'd have would be the Melter, the Black Knight (Garrett), and Whirlwind, plus maybe someone like Swordsman and Power Man (Josten). Good mix of powers/skills, and no one completely overshadows their teammates.
Posted by: mikrolik | February 3, 2017 9:07 PM
I've noticed that sometimes villains tend to be rather underpowered when in certain groups or just not used to the best of their potential until a good smart writer gets hold of them. Heck, it takes until "Egghead's MoE" in the Stern era before Radioactive Man is proven to take on a gamma being, when he briefly de-powers She-Hulk. (and let's not forget: his first appearance had him fighting Thor!)
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 4, 2017 8:17 PM
T.W. Erwin, the scientist seen here as the inventor of a time and dimension warping device, later turns up as part of Roxxon's Nth Command as shown in Marvel Two-In-One #67.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 17, 2017 1:55 PM
Thanks Omar. I've listed Erwin.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 17, 2017 4:02 PM
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