Solo Avengers #14-16
Issue(s): Solo Avengers #14, Solo Avengers #15, Solo Avengers #16
Gregory Wright - Managing Editor
...and scripting that violates every rule of sequential storytelling, like having the characters exclaiming exactly what is happening in the artwork.
That joke isn't funny either. Check your warranty? Did the device come with a guarantee against arrows?
For extra fun, try reading the script aloud, and be sure to emphasize the bolded words.
The plot here is that Hawkeye gets a call for help from the Black Widow right when he's about to go out to dinner with Mockingbird to reconcile their problems.
And of course he can't wait the two minutes it would have taken for Mockingbird to show up to explain things (and bring her along).
And so when Mockingbird arrives, she explodes in incoherent rage. Because Mockingbird's primary attributes are stupidity and jealousy.
Black Widow has been captured by AIM while investigating their latest scheme. Hawkeye rescues her and then discovers that they have been shipping brains...
...before getting attacked by an Awesome Attackoid.
As Walter notes in the Comments, the Attackoid's design harkens back to the creatures AIM (then Them) used in Tales of Suspense #78-79. There's even a panel homaging a scene from that arc.
Some big promises for the second part of this story in #15. Information on the Inner Council of AIM! And an unexpected shock ending.
I can't say we really learn much about an Inner Council. This is virtually all we see about them.
But the ending is legitimately a shocker if you're not prepared for it.
It quickly turns out to be a feint, though.
I love when Hawkeye's hearing problem turns out to be a super-power, by the way.
The real Pym does turn out to be here, though. He's not sure what's going on. The last he remembers is trying to help his first wife, Maria.
But she turns out to have always been a creature of AIM, and is calling herself SODAM. For some reason she's not teamed up with Gamora.
SODAM stands for Specialized Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers. The similarities to MODOK wouldn't be lost on any long term comic fan, but for this story she remains a regular sized lady with a giant brain. She also won't say one way or another if she really used to be Maria Pym.
In addition to this, Mockingbird pursues Hawkeye without revealing herself. She's still convinced that Hawkeye and Black Widow are on a "date".
Here's Al Milgrom doing his best Kirby impersonation. It's not Ron Frenz on Thor, but it's not too bad. But it does show how pervasive Tom DeFalco's push for Silver Age nostalgia was.
While she fights behind-the-scenes, the other Avengers fight against SODAM and the Pym robot...
...and eventually the AIM Inner Council sees that things are going badly and orders a self-destruct.
Everybody escapes ok and a number of AIM grunts get captured. Hawkeye sees a similarity between Hank and Maria's situation and his own separation from Mockingbird, but we don't see him trying to reach out to her again at the end here (and there's no follow-up next issue).
The treatment of Hawkeye and Mockingbird here trivializes the schism that was created between them in Steve Englehart's West Coast Avengers run, but i would have accepted that if it led to a reconciliation or some other sort of resolution.
After the Hawkeye story, it's a very pleasant surprise to find some decent stuff in the back-up features. The first is a comedic She-Hulk story by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis. The fact that it's comedic might irk more serious comics fans in two ways. The first is that She-Hulk is arguing against the Mutant Registration Act, and that's a topic that hasn't gotten a lot of attention since it's been introduced, so it might have been nice to see a true resolution to the She-Hulk's hearing. But her arguments keep getting interrupted by attacks from Titania...
...and that brings us to the second "problem", which is that Titania is treated like a joke, definitely not an equal of She-Hulk.
There's also a little bit of self-aware not-quite cheesecake, i guess kind of a precursor to John Byrne's She-Hulk run.
The issue ends with a Mentos commercial.
Despite its flaws, it's one of the better uses of 11 pages for these one-off solo avengers stories.
The next one isn't too bad either, though. It's a Fabian Nicieza story pitting the Wasp against (a partial) Red Ronin. It takes place at a tech expo, where Janet Van Dyne is actually taking a personal role in her company. She also begins a flirty relationship with an employee of Stane Industries, Karaguchi Inoyawa, who is working on rebuilding Red Ronin.
The other guy in the panel above, Joe Kilman, is a former Stane Employee who is now getting vengeance for being fired by reactivating Red Ronin. The giant robot's legs are still missing, so it's a funny kind of rampage.
Inoyawa directs the Wasp in the dismantling.
Passive-aggressive flirting probably is the right way into the Wasp's heart, but i don't think we see Inoyawa again. Kilman is knocked out after activating Red Ronin, but we don't see him getting arrested or anything. It's just a cute little story with no real consequences.
As with the She-Hulk story, there's a little bit of cheesecake here. Since nothing like this happens in Hawkeye's stories, i feel a desire to link to the Hawkeye Initiative. Although i should say that nothing going on in these issues is anything like the stuff that website normally mocks.
Also a gratuitous New Universe joke.
The final back-up feature in these issues is the first of a three part Moondragon story. The stories aren't exactly direct continuations and they don't appear in sequential issues of Solo Avengers, so we'll be taking them one at a time and just looking at the first one here. All three stories are by Peter Gillis and pick up on his Defenders run (luckily Moondragon was also an Avenger so the story can appear here). This part is especially nice because New Defenders artist Don Perlin is also involved.
The story is that Moondragon's cousin, Pamela Douglas, is having mental problems, with someone "free-associating inside my head", and getting signs that she's pregnant, like crashing in front of an anti-abortion billboard.
Her boyfriend Tom is supportive but doesn't know what's going on.
Eventually they're attacked by a giant claw.
And it's at that point that she's contacted by Moondragon, who has been living in her head since her "death" in the Defenders.
The Eternals of Titan have a new clone body growing for Moondragon...
...and Moondragon wants Pamela to take a ride in her spaceship.
But the claw wasn't her doing. That turns out to be the work of Gargoyle, who has possessed a soldier that was around to clean-up after the end of New Defenders.
I was a big fan of Gillis' Defenders run, but i never knew what the point of that gem was that Gargoyle picked up. It's cool to see that thread tied up here.
Moondragon, through Pamela, reconciles with Gargoyle...
...and takes the gem up to the spaceship.
Gillis captures the weirdness of the situation pretty well in that above scene.
Like any sane person, i didn't read Solo Avengers regularly in realtime, so for me this Moondragon feature is like a discovery of a few extra pages of Gillis' Defenders run, and i'm pretty happy about that.
In the lettercol for issue #15, it's announced that in an effort to "boister this mag's sagging sales", they're holding a vote to replace Hawkeye as the recurring character for this series. Nothing will come of that. Hawkeye wins the vote. Which is really no surprise. After all, it's a poll of the people that are still reading the book (and they realize that after the vote is tallied and therefore say they'll run the poll again in the West Coast Avengers lettercol). But it does indicate that there was a problem with this series, and you can see some other experiments with formatting even with these issues, including the three part Hawkeye story that is actually a Team-Up with Black Widow and also features Mockingbird and Henry Pym. The story is also at least dancing around some actual character development by showing Hawkeye and Mockingbird at least attempting reconciliation. And then there's the Moondragon feature, which is the first of a three part story, something that we haven't seen yet for the secondary stories. Probably the most tangible change to come out of this is the renaming of the book to Avengers Spotlight with issue #21, at the same time the West Coast Avengers are renamed Avengers West Coast. These are also the last Hawkeye stories to be written by Tom DeFalco, but i don't know if that was related to sales issue or just because he was busy being Editor-in-Chief.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP has these issues (and #17-18) between West Coast Avengers #40-42 (Hawkeye doesn't appear in #41) and before his appearance in Avengers #302-303. The next Moondragon story starts after Pamella Douglas is settled in on Titan, so we'll leave that for a separate entry. The other Avengers characters are uncommitted at this point.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Though amazingly its not too long after this we get the Sensational Shulkie book...so at least she gets some usage beyond this one. (and again: Claremont to Byrne...then again I'm surprised that it took this long for Claremont to write Jen since he did do some work before with Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman during their initial runs)
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 14, 2014 1:46 PM
The Hawkeye story was done because Byrne wanted Jan and Hank together in Solo Avengers. This is another example of Solo Avengers being used to clear up dangling plots that the main books didn't want to deal with. The weird thing is, if this was done to pave the way for Hank and Jan, you'd think they'd be more definitive that SODAM wasn't Maria. Because if SODAM is a mind-controlled Maria, then Hank looks like Havok sleeping with any bad girl he can get his hands on while Lorna is possessed by Malice.
Posted by: Michael | September 14, 2014 2:12 PM
The Attackoid(what was the 2nd choice? "Punchoid"?) looks too much like a modified AIM Dreadnought.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 14, 2014 4:05 PM
I loved this She-Hulk story at the time, and in retrospect I think it helped solidify Jen as one of my favorite characters and Alan Davis as one of my favorite artists. I had no idea that Chris Claremont wrote it until just now, though.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 14, 2014 8:19 PM
Visiting "the Hawkeye Initiative" is always entertaining, but its worth noting that although these particular issues didn't provide any Hawkeye beefcake, the SOLO AVENGERS series in general has gotten Clint out of his clothes on several occasions. In the first arc he spent one whole issue topless while running from Silver Sable's men, and the next issue he was in his underwear for the entire story. So Clint's already doing his part to try and balance out the cheesecake with beefcake. ;)
Posted by: Dermie | September 14, 2014 8:53 PM
The Attackoid is based on the AIM androids in Tales of Suspense 78, http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/tales_of_suspense_78_cap_85_ir.shtml . More of DeFalco's nostalgia, but I approve.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 14, 2014 10:00 PM
I told you that gem in Defenders #147 was important! Check the comments. ;)
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 15, 2014 2:49 AM
Dermie, after i reviewed these, when i got to Solo Avengers #18, which opens with a shirtless Hawkeye, i almost pointed it out as a counter-balance. But i didn't want to perpetuate the zombie argument (and i don't think this is what you're doing either) that comics "idealize" male and female super-characters equally (for those not familiar with this, it's laid out very nicely here, especially in the first point. And actually the Hawkeye Initiative makes the point as well by showing that it's the poses as much as anything). In the end i decided not to get into any of that because the "cheesecake" in these issues is comparatively harmless and done for comedy. I still like to point it out to show the "development" of it especially as we head into the 90s.
Walter, thanks for pointing that out. I've added a scan here that is a direct homage of one of the panels there.
Jay, i re-noticed your comment when i was linking to that entry. Thanks for not spoiling it for me (although that would have been ok too)!
Posted by: fnord12 | September 15, 2014 8:16 AM
Those pages could have been better used to promote lesser known characters. Still, it's interesting to see the way She-Hulk's story is written as a comedy of sorts. I wonder if Byrne noticed it and thought he'd use it for his run.
Posted by: JSfan | September 15, 2014 10:10 AM
I didn't mind the retro feel of the Hawk-eye story. I do wonder how SODAM got past the editors. And Mockingbird kicks a lot of butt this issue. Without her behind the scenes, the heroes wouldn't have made it.
I HATE the she-hulk story with a passion. Secret Wars clearly establishes that Titania was way too powerful for she-hulk. this is the main reason I wish Titania had NEVER appeared outside of secret wars.
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 15, 2014 3:28 PM
Anyone who homages the phone booth change should realize that back in the 1940's, phone booths had mostly wooden sides, so that they resembled outhouses.
Posted by: PB210 | September 16, 2014 8:13 PM
Man, She-Hulk reminds me of Psylocke from UXM #213.
Posted by: JSfan | March 16, 2015 8:14 AM
Ah, one of the places where fnord and I most disagree. I collected these issues in real time because I was a big Hawkeye fan. I quite liked the She-Hulk and Wasp backups precisely because of the humor (they worked as a nice counter-balance since the Hawkeye stories didn't have much humor, which wasn't usually the case). But my reaction to the backup of #16 was "NOOOOOOO!!!!! She's dead! I saw her die in Defenders #152! Why bring back one of the most annoying characters in Marvel history?" And then there would be two more of those backups that I was stuck with later on.
I was irritated that Titania, who had been such a formidable foe, had been reduced to a punchline. But I went along with it because it worked so well for the story.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 23, 2015 1:50 PM
Images of the physical issue #16 that I see online show the cover touting Hawk and Widow discovering “The Sinister Secret of SODAM.” But check out what the version of the cover in the Marvel app says...
I wonder if there were physical misprints that were caught and destroyed or whether some kind of OCR autocorrect oversealously changed that “A” to an “O”...
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 22, 2018 12:47 AM
Here it is on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/comics/issue/51131/solo_avengers_1987_16
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 22, 2018 12:50 AM
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