Avengers Spotlight #26
Issue(s): Avengers Spotlight #26
Acts of Vengeance is an interesting crossover. It's the first official line-wide crossover taking place in regular issues (as opposed to annuals) since Secret Wars II to not focus mostly on X-characters. The premise has two parts. First, that a cabal of high powered arch-villains are gathered together by a secret agent (Loki in disguise) to conspire against the various heroes of the Marvel universe that they've had trouble defeating on their own. And second, as a component of that, lower level villains are encouraged to give up on their usual grudge matches and attack heroes that they've never (or rarely) fought before.
There are some difficulties inherent in the premise. In the first part, we have to accept that the likes of Dr. Doom and the Kingpin, master schemers with big egos, will even acknowledge that they've faced defeats, and also will accept each other as equals to conspire with. This is helped along in part by Loki, who is able to manipulate the villains such that some of them think that the whole thing is really their idea and/or that they are secretly playing a deeper game, manipulating the other arch-villains. Assume that Loki is also helping things along with magic and i'm really ok with this, generally, and there are some good moments for the arch-villains such as when we find out why Holocaust survivor Magneto would really agree to work alongside the Nazi Red Skull.
The second part is a little more troubling to me. It's easier to accept that the villains are being manipulated by Loki with magic to go fight random heroes, and sometimes that's explicit. But it does wind up diluting the motivations of these villains down to just a desire to rack up wins. Marvel villains ought to be as deeply motivated as heroes; they should all be motivated by revenge and certainly not just by a desire to defeat random super-heroes. Again, you can chalk it up to magic. But one great thing about the Marvel universe is that it's always a place where a random villain might run into a random hero. We had rogues gallery crossovers beginning very early in the Silver Age. We shouldn't need a special line-wide event to get the Juggernaut to fight Thor. That should happen as naturally as when he's fought Dr. Strange or the Hulk or Spider-Man in the past. Some participants in this event will get around all this by more or less ignoring the actual premise and just going with the basic remit of having heroes fight unusual villains (examples: the Mandarin's appearance in X-Men is entirely unrelated to Acts of Vengeance, and Moon Knight and Punisher's encounter with Flag-Smasher is almost as incidental). But then it feels like they're not really participating in the event, which is also weird. Still, i do very much like the idea of breaking out of the usual rogues galleries and grudge matches, so if this is what it takes, i'll go with it.
The other problem with this series is one that has reared its head in all the past crossovers, but the problem seems to be getting worse instead of better. And that problem is a lack of coordination. It actually seems like this should be an easy one. A few core books should show the workings of the inner cabal, and the other books should just have heroes fighting random villains. But perhaps just due to the sheer number of books involved, it's not that easy, as we'll see.
This issue in part is designed to facilitate continuity concerns to a degree by at least making sure plenty of villains are available. So the story involves a successful breakout at the Vault, the still relatively new prison facility designed to hold super-villains.
The problem is that this is now at least the fourth time that there have been breakouts at the supposedly impregnable facility (the first being the Avengers' breakout in the Vault's debut in Avengers annual #15, the second thanks to Iron Man's invasion during Armor Wars in Iron Man #228 and Captain America #340, and the third being Venom's breakout in Amazing Spider-Man #315). As with the previous three, there are extenuating circumstances that you could use to say that the concept of the Vault itself is not flawed, but the net result is a facility that has every bit as much of a revolving door as Project Pegasus or a regular prison.
For the short term, though, this is a fun, well written story with unfortunately some messy art. The issue begins with the Frightful Four being transported in after their most recent defeat.
It's an embarrassing experience for the Wizard. The guards haven't even heard of him (i guess they never watched his popular science television shows before he went villain), and in truth he doesn't have any powers and doesn't really need to be here (he's here as a favor to the administrators of Riker's Island, which has had "limited success" in holding him in the past).
On his way in we get to see some of the other prisoners. Not sure who the
But the Wizard has reason to cheer up. He's actually going to be part of the inner cabal during this event, putting him up there with the likes of Dr. Doom and the Mandarin. I like the Wizard but i'd normally put him a tier lower than that. Obviously Loki disagrees.
I'm not surprised that Loki (in disguise) can get into his cell, but i am surprised that the Wizard's cell has multiple bunks. You'd figure they'd keep the prisoners isolated for maximum security.
Loki gives Wizard his armor back...
...and Wizard initiates the breakout.
I'm a little surprised to see Armadillo participating in the breakout. He's generally been portrayed as a decent guy with rage issues, and the last time he was in a breakout at the Vault (Captain America #340) he later turned himself back in. So has he just changed his mind again or should we blame Loki?
The Vault Guardsmen, especially in their Stane issued knock-off suits, are no match for a full scale breakout. The Vault administrators try to call in the Avengers, but an auto-dial mishap causes the call to go to Damage Control instead.
One of the Guardsmen does manage to contact Avengers communication chief Peggy Carter, though.
Iron Man is the first Avenger to arrive.
If Orka is looking a little small, it's said that the Vault managed to find a way to shrink him down to human size before putting him in his cell. But he's still supposed to be as strong as always.
The second Avenger to arrive is Hawkeye, although it seems like he might have skipped a chiropractor's appointment to get here in time.
The problem is that, as mentioned above, Iron Man was behind a previous Vault breakout, so Hawkeye assumes the worst about him this time.
I like the idea that Hawkeye thinks Stark's recent bout with paralysis was just a ruse to protect his secret identity.
In fact, i like the writing here in general. Dwayne McDuffie's She-Hulk: Ceremony was dire, and his Damage Control series is a goofy kind of fun but not really my type of thing. But between this and his Captain Marvel one-shot from around this time, his work on serious Marvel universe stuff is getting good. There's still an element of humor to it, but that's mixed in with real character work, and i really do like seeing another Avenger taking Iron Man to task for his actions during Armor Wars.
Iron Man does manage to convince Hawkeye that he's not responsible for the breakout, and they work together (here's the golden guy Kveto mentions in the comments)...
...although Hawkeye does keep riding Iron Man (maybe not fairly when it comes to his decision regarding the Guardsmen armor).
Another good scene:
They may have shrunk Orka, but they apparently didn't do the same with Yetrigar.
When they do manage to get out with the injured Guardsman, Iron Man seals the Vault closed to trap the few prisoners that didn't manage to get out, but he says that anyone in there could unseal it from the inside. So Hawkeye fires off an EMP arrow that disables all electronics in the area, including his own hearing aid and Iron Man's armor.
A fun interaction between Iron Man and Hawkeye, and a nice high stakes start to Acts of Vengeance. I do wish Dwayne Turner's art was less rough.
In past lettercols, the editorial team for this book ran a poll to see who, if anyone, should replace Hawkeye as the recurring feature. The first time they ran the poll, Hawkeye was the winner, but they then acknowledged that since it was just a poll of people already reading the book, it was sort of a self-selecting sample, and they were more interested in increasing the book's sales. So then they ran the poll again, this time also putting the request for votes in the Avengers and West Coast Avengers lettercols. This issue (and this month's Avengers and West Coast books) have the results of the second poll, but again unfortunately the data is kind of muddled. They tried to organize the voting into three categories: favorite Avenger who already has a book, favorite Avenger not currently starring in a book, and favorite candidate for Avengers membership. But people were unsure who belonged in which category. Some people knew that Quasar was getting his own book at the time the poll was being run, some didn't. Some weren't sure if Hawkeye's Avengers Spotlight feature should be considered him having his own book. Some people thought Scott Lang Ant-Man was an Avenger. And if Hawkeye is in the "has his own book" category, then he was competing against the much more popular Captain America and Iron Man, and he got less votes than Wonder Man and Black Knight from the "no book" category. Confusing! So Hawkeye retains the Spotlight position for now thanks to the stalemate.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Acts of Vengeance is not a Part X of Y type of crossover, but this is the formal starting point.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (13): show
Do they explain in the book how the villains get their costumes back? In one panel we see Hyde wearing prison garb then suddenly he's in his regular get-up. More magic?
Posted by: Robert | March 23, 2015 2:48 PM
I think it's fair to say that the Wizard got into the equipment room along with the control panel that opens the cells, but it's not explicitly stated.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 23, 2015 2:52 PM
I think part of the reason the Wizard gets a pass from Loki is more or less longevity. He really is the second "major" human (not counting Skrulls) villain to emerge in the Silver Age aside from Doom himself and actually in comics emerged a month after Loki's first incursion on Asgard since Thor's reawakening. My guess is that lasting this long with the F4 as opponents (though mostly he fought Johnny until the Frightful Four emerged) gives him cred in a community so diluted with anything and anyone becoming a villain at this point.
Posted by: Ataru320 | March 23, 2015 3:05 PM
The unidentified villain in the cell below Griffin--could that be Mad Thinker? I don't think he actually has a mustache (that's just the shadow of cell bars passing across his face), and the hair colour and length are right for it to be him.
Posted by: Dermie | March 23, 2015 3:18 PM
Tsk, you're right, that's not mustache. I am very disappointed. I thought it was a big long black tendril of a mustache, which would have been awesome.
The Mad Thinker is a good guess. He'll appear in Avengers Spotlight #28 in a story by this same creative team, so it's a good bet that it was meant to be him. I'll add him to the Charactesr Appearing. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 23, 2015 3:26 PM
I took it to be (an uncostumed) Hyde, even before I saw him in the group shot later on. The spotty art doesn't make guessing any easier.
Posted by: cullen | March 23, 2015 3:54 PM
I guess it could be Hyde, and that's probably what the MCP assumed. He looks so scrawny compared to his other uncostumed appearance, and based on where the Guardsman drives the Wizard after that scene it doesn't seem to be right across from that guy, while after the Wizard gets his costume he seems to be directly across from Hyde's cell. That could all be problems with the art, though.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 23, 2015 4:31 PM
I realize I'm overthinking it but it's funny to me that these guys were (presumably) arrested and tried before being sent to the Vault, and yet they have their supervillain costumes just waiting for them so when they're released they get to resume their supervillain careers.
Posted by: Robert | March 23, 2015 4:46 PM
At least they're not in prison in their costumes, which is something we've also seen sometimes. I can maybe offer that they don't force the villains out of their costumes until they get to the Vault in case they are booby trapped or something, but that still wouldn't explain why they keep them around. We'll just have to go with Because It's Comics! :-)
Posted by: fnord12 | March 23, 2015 5:06 PM
As far as I know, this cliffhanger never gets resolved. Kind of a bummer.
The very nature of comics is that the vault has to be easy to break out of. Otherwise we get no repeat villains.
I suspect the line about shrinking Orka was to cover up the idea that the artist didnt know he was supposed to be giant. I think that happens often in these big villain scenes. The artists probably have to thumb through the handbooks to find a picture of the villain without reading the stats.
Never understood why they let the villains keep their costumes. Magic, i guess.
Acts of vengence was a bad idea from the villains perspective. they should have got big gangs of villains and ambushed heroes (masters of evil style).
The final results will show how ineffective the plot was. 0 heroes killed.
There was a nice clue about Loki in Avengers 300 as he ranted about being the catalyst for their formation.
27 votes for the punisher as an avenger? what were they smoking?
Posted by: kveto | March 23, 2015 5:08 PM
by the way, who's the golden guy IM shoots saving Hawk-eye?
Posted by: kveto | March 24, 2015 5:43 PM
Good question. I've added the scan. A weirdly colored Hydroman, maybe?
Posted by: fnord12 | March 24, 2015 5:56 PM
Maybe Molten Man? But he shows up shortly after Acts of Vengeance wanting to reform, so if it was him, he changed his mind very quickly.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2015 7:49 PM
I guessed Molten man as well, but he seems to have a beard which I doubt Molty could grow.
Posted by: kveto | March 25, 2015 2:36 AM
"I like the idea that Hawkeye things Stark's recent bout with paralysis was just a ruse to protect his secret identity."
If I were Tony, I would be upset too. He certainly spent enough money on the cure. After buying a whole company just to heal himself, the last thing he needs is to be accused falsely.
Posted by: clyde | July 19, 2015 9:49 PM
In regards to the Molten Man appearance, the Marvel Wikia lists him as appearing in this issue.
Although I don't know if that's considered a credible source.
Posted by: clyde | July 19, 2015 9:53 PM
The Marvel wiki is fan edited, so it's as credible as my site. In which case i might as well be in sync with them and add him.
Regarding the fact that he reforms soon after this, i guess he could have just been walking out of his cell saying, "Hey, what's going on?" when Iron Man shot him.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2015 7:51 AM
It's worth noting that Mark Gruenwald -- in his "Mark's Remarks" editorial in Marvel Age #122 -- mentioned that he thought that "Acts of Vengeance" was one of his least favorite storylines. I thought --despite its rough execution in some issues -- that it was the most logical of all the Marvel crossovers, given that the Avengers series should be the natural intersection for most Marvel events, as the Avengers team members should represent the different corners of the Marvel Universe. They should always be front and center of any company-wide crossover, otherwise they lose some of their importance.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 26, 2015 11:36 PM
I love that even Dr Druid (stuck in time) and Jocasta (dead - again) got more votes than Mantis. See, Englehart? Everyone hates your pet character except you and Ben Herman!
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 15, 2015 12:22 PM
LOL! Well, Erik Berk, I guess it really is true what they say, every character is someone's favorite!
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 17, 2015 12:22 AM
The other reason the Wizard might make sense here is that he's arguably one of the better networkers among super-villains. He's worked with a lot of people via the various Frightful Fours and he's teamed up with Mysterio, the Mad Thinker, the Puppet Master, Plantman, and others. If you need to pull in a bunch of grunt villains, he's probably your go-to person; heck, he'd be better for that role than the Mandarin or Doom.
As to the Molten Man...well, he did wear a beard as a *disguise* back in Amazing Spider-Man #35. Maybe that all the Wizard found for him in the evidence lockers?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 8:24 AM
Oh, man, I love the idea that the Molten man was coming to ask for help and got blasted by Iron man.
Posted by: kveto | February 17, 2016 4:32 PM
I also like the idea of Molten Man trying to help and getting shot. It's even in character for Tony of the time, a reckless sort of decisive.
That said, the guy looks like he's meant to be about 10 feet tall? No idea who that would be, though.
Posted by: Jonathan | February 17, 2016 9:28 PM
Frog-Man got one more membership vote than Red Wolf, aha ha ha..!
Posted by: Oliver_C | March 26, 2016 7:46 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|