Issue(s): Avengers #34, Avengers #35, Avengers #36, Avengers #37
The Living Laser, a scientist who has developed the ability to shoot a laser beam...
...making him the deadliest menace that Henry Pym can imagine...
...has transferred his unhealthy obsession with some young socialite to the Wasp...
...and decides he needs to defeat Goliath in order to prove that she should be with him. Goliath, working in his lab with Bill Foster...
...trounces the poor guy...
...but then Cap and Hawkeye screw everything up when they try to take him into custody.
The Laser escapes and goes on a rampage, causing mass destruction around the city. Although, if you really look at what he's destroying, he's either not sure if he really wants to be a super villain or he's not very imaginative. He destroys a building that was scheduled to be demolished, some obsolete planes, and a drone ship that was going to be used by the Navy as target practice. Finally he aims for a bridge but doesn't seem to be able to actually pull the trigger. I see it as a cry for help.
Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Wasp go after him, but he catches Cap and Hawkeye in a contracting laser prison and he catches the Wasp in a little jar (Janet is easily caught because she's busy trying to figure out how to turn off the laser prison. She thinks to herself, "If only I understood these things... like a man!").
Cap tries to get out of the prison using his shield but... it disintegrates! Ummmm, nice work Roy Thomas!
I guess this must have been one of the the magnetically controlled shields that Iron Man gave Cap in Avengers #6. Goliath rescues Cap and Hawkeye and smacks them around a little for letting the Laser capture the Wasp. Meanwhile the Laser is making deals with some shady Latin American revolutionaries.
He helps them overthrow their dictatorship so that they can become the new dictators. Of course, they plan to kill him when he's done, and he plans to kill them, etc., etc..
Goliath disappears for a while and then when he returns he won't answer any questions, but the Avengers head to Costa Verde. In the course of the battle against the country's army and the Laser, Goliath reveals that he can now shrink again and he uses his 'new' powers to rescue the Wasp.
The Costa Verdeians Army decide to get rid of all their dictators and claim the government "in the name of a democratic republic and free elections". At least, that's what they tell Captain America.
In the wrap up, Hawkeye heads over to Natasha's apartment and finds that she's mad at him for going to Costa Verde without her.
Meanwhile, Cap broods about not having a life outside the Avengers when suddenly a suspicious figure turns up...
But it's really only the Scarlet Witch (or it seems to be)...
...and she's got some crazy story about how her brother and all the people in the town she was in have been captured by aliens. After squabbling (especially about if the Black Widow can come along - and by squabbling i mean someone nearly gets a beatdown)...
...the Avengers let the Witch lead them to the UFO in Wanda and Pietro's home "village" of Transia (As Brian Cronin notes: "Even here, Transia is the name given to the VILLAGE, not the country. That is the name given to the country, though, whenever people refer to it in the future (it IS a tiny country).").
They find that the village has been captured by a giant super computer called Ixar...
...and it has created androids - er, ultroids...
...to help it win a battle against another super computer. It wants to give the androids super powers, so it captured the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, and lured the other Avengers here as well. The "Scarlet Witch" that led the Avengers here was actually an android. Cap reveals that he knew it all along, but it's not like he did anything special to counter the trap.
I'm skipping over Ixar's origin...
...and a long battle with a lot of back and forth battling.
All of the Avengers are captured except the Black Widow and Cap. I was sure that the Black Widow would be the one to rescue everyone to offset Pym's earlier resistance to bringing her along but the plot is not so thoughtful. In the end they actually win when the Black Widow demonstrates that she is willing to take the life of Ixar whereas the other Avengers, bound by their "Avengers code", will not. I think that is pretty cool.
What powers did Ixar hope to get from Captain America and Hawkeye?
Overall, these are some really mundane and generic plots. The art is very sketchy as well, but that could be a factor of the reprint. Nah, you know what? I'm tired of blaming the quality of the reprint. These issues are just bad. Roy Thomas taking over the writing duties does not help. This is a low point in the Avengers series.
Here's one of the better action shots from issue #37:
While character development is generally very weak, it was nice seeing this panel of Cap and Hawkeye acting as partners.
Generally, though, the infighting (and i do mean fighting) is nearly intolerable.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Captain America references the Sons of the Serpent as their last major case, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have invited Spider-Man to join their team in the meantime. Also, in the Spider-Man annual, Cap was the acting chairman but in this issue it is Goliath's turn. We could have just been at the end of the previous month in the ASM annual and are now at the beginning of a new month.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Triple Action #26, Marvel Triple Action #27, Marvel Triple Action #28, Marvel Triple Action #29
Inbound References (4): showBill Foster, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Living Laser, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wasp
I don't think Roy Thomas ever explained Cap's shield coming back in one piece. I think he just realized what a complete boner he pulled and chose to forget it ever happened.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 12:20 AM
In the fanzine Forbush Gazette #1(12/66) Stan Lee stated that Ka-Zar and Goliath were possibilities for solo features.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 22, 2012 5:53 PM
Dave Cockrum has a letter in #35.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 12, 2013 7:31 PM
For some reason I'd remembered that Colossus reference as Hawkeye saying something like "I was going toe to toe with Iron Man while you were fighting some creep named Colossus," but up above it's Goliath making his version of that line. Am I thinking of another issue or did I just imagine the whole thing?
Posted by: Time Traveling Bunny | February 18, 2013 11:47 PM
It would be pretty difficult to verify this, but i imagine that if Hawkeye wanted to mock Goliath's rogue gallery, he could do better than the Vegan Colossus.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 19, 2013 11:16 AM
I guess Wanda had extra time during her hiatus to design a new headpiece for herself.
Posted by: Shar | June 6, 2013 4:49 PM
Not being a smartass but has "sketchy" just become your synonym for "bad"? it seems to be used a lot when you're describing art you don't like, but said art doesn't always look like what I expect when I hear that word. I guess I hear "sketchy" and I think "scratchy".
Posted by: Anonymous | June 8, 2013 5:09 AM
Again the complaining about the ratings. Stop it, please, everyone.
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | June 8, 2013 5:36 AM
Where did someone complain about the rating?
Posted by: Anonymous | June 8, 2013 12:07 PM
I think it's a reaction to you being anonymous and other comments we've had here recently. But this is a legit question and I will respond when I am back from travel.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 8, 2013 12:36 PM
Didn't even realize I was anonymous. I'm using a new phone to post and wasn't automatically signed in.
Posted by: Anonymous | June 8, 2013 1:12 PM
OK, I have now viewed the above scans gonna screen bigger than my phone. Yeah, "sketchy" works. Carry on.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | June 10, 2013 5:03 PM
Let me just say that "art critic" is pretty low on my list of competencies and i'm more than happy to be taken to task for the way i describe artwork. "Sketchy" may ultimately not be the right word to use here since there's obviously a lot of detail in these panels. I try to reserve "sketchy" for when the figures are rough and lacking in detail and panels don't have backgrounds. Maybe my problem here is too much detail - lots of stray lines, especially on many of the faces, and panels where the figures get lots in the backgrounds. Maybe if Heck weren't inking himself on these issues... The other problem is the general production values - blurriness and bleeding colors. That's not Heck's fault but it adds to the impression (and it's even worse in the Triple Action reprints; my scans here are from the GIT PDFs of the originals).
Posted by: fnord12 | June 15, 2013 2:28 PM
There was no "taking to task" intended. Asking what you meant by "sketchy" was an honest question. If it was just a synonym for "bad" or "I satisfying" then so be it. If it is meant to describe a specific quality about the art then that's OK too. I was just trying to get on the same page so as to better enjoy the reviews. That said, Don Heck's art often qualifies as what I would personally classify as "sketchy" (loose, rough lines, awkward poses) to me and upon viewing the above scans on a better monitor this I find this issue to be no exception. Some people call this "scratchy". This is what happens when when a hundred art critics not only have a hundred different opinions but a hundred different ways of expressing them. But hey, that's why it's comic book art and not comic book science.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | June 15, 2013 7:26 PM
Hey Jay, i understood your initial question to be a legit one and not an attack; didn't mean to imply otherwise. But in light of the back and forth on this i also just wanted to signal to everyone that it's totally fine to challenge my criticisms and get me to be clearer.
I do make a nebulous nuanced distinction between "sketchy" and "scratchy" (which i use when the lines are loose and even shaky) but there's lots of overlap.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 15, 2013 7:47 PM
Don Heck's rejected original cover to #37 appeared in Alter Ego #118. Gil Kane's replacement cover may have been his first Marvel work.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 10, 2013 1:29 PM
Overall, I think issues 30-40 of the series were pretty weak. Stan Lee ran out of ideas and Roy Thomas doesn't get good until John Buscema is drawing.
Posted by: Steven Printz | November 3, 2013 4:16 PM
A place called Costa Verde appeared in Matt Helm novels starting prior to this Avenger issue.
Posted by: PB210 | November 29, 2013 8:13 AM
According to Roy Thomas, in his introduction for the Marvel Masterworks volume which included these issues, Stan plotted #35 and then handed him the pencilled pages to script. Roy asked who Cap should be reacting to in the final panel of #35, but neither Stan nor Don Heck knew, so Roy had it turn out to be (pseudo-)Wanda as he felt that Stan intended to bring her and her brother back (their faces remained in the avatar box despite them leaving in #30) and Stan forbade Thor and Iron Man returning.
Posted by: Mike Teague | December 14, 2013 5:16 AM
So Roy finishes Stan's final "Avengers" story. A few years later, the same thing will happen when Gerry Conway finishes Stan's final Spider-Man. Always wondered why Stan left these for others to finish.
Posted by: Jeff | June 5, 2015 11:44 PM
Stan did the same thing with Cap, leaving in the middle of the 4 part grey gargoyle storyline. I imagine it was actually to help the new writers out. He probably gave them an outline of where he wanted the story to go and let them ease their way into the title, rather than having to start fresh with a new storyline right off the bat.
Posted by: kveto | June 6, 2015 6:17 AM
One of the odder aspects of the Silver Age is when somebody would invent a death ray or a suit of armor or an antigravity device or a new source of energy and, rather than doing the sensible thing and selling it to the government or Con Ed or somebody for a ton of money, decides to embark upon a career as a super-villain. The Living Laser is a nice subversion of this because it's established right of the bat that while Arthur Parks is a genius, he's also completely off his rocker. As Stan Lee's narration from issue #34 announces, "If you feel that the Living Laser is hardly the most well-adjusted of humans, we'd be inclined to agree with you!"
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 15, 2016 9:28 PM
Hahah, Ben! TVTropes calls that "Cut Lex Luthor a Check"
Posted by: cullen | August 16, 2016 10:01 AM
Poor Lucy Barton (Barton? A distant, uptown relative of Clint/Barney? Probably not.), getting ditched INSTANTLY when Arthur Parks catches sight of the Wasp. That's gotta hurt.
Not that she knows it, and it's not as if Arthur's really that much of a catch, but from the reader's perspective, I give Lucy an "ouch!", just on general principles.
Posted by: Dan Spector | September 2, 2016 11:16 PM
I kind of like Heck's take on the Laser, since it makes him look like a lunatic trying to create a supervillain identity. He's basically a guy with some obsessive and paranoid traits who takes getting dumped really badly and then starts stalking the next conventionally attractive woman he sees.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 3, 2016 8:26 AM
Okay I like Roy's writing, Is this his best? no but it's not terrible. The Living Laser is an interesting villain who gets more evil over the years. Costa Verde is, I think, the same Latin American country we've seen under different names in the X-Man, the FF, Thor and Giant-Man. The Ultroids were kind of weak, I admit, but I like that the Black Widow saved the day. As far Transia, originally it was a village near Wundagore in the Transylvania region of Romania. I've never liked that they later added yet another Balkan vest pocket kingdomette to the map. I would have preferred it stay part of Transylvania.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 8, 2016 10:30 PM
Personally the infighting of the early Avengers was always a high point for me. I loved it then, and I love it now. Great dialog.
Posted by: Urban Commando | April 29, 2017 6:48 AM
The Light That Failed is a novel by Kipling.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 12, 2018 8:57 PM
Comments are now closed.
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