Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Prisoners Of Love!

When I first came across issue #91 of The Avengers, I had only just started reading the comic with its next issue and was in the process of working my way back. I'm not sure why I decided to pass on the previous issue--I suppose the cover of #91 looked a little too "busy" for me to get my feet wet with this team, and, despite their costumes, it was a little difficult for me to pick out "the Avengers" from the mix of characters present. Look at what I had to sift through. One obviously evil guy; two giants with hostile intent; another guy held prisoner; and three characters with their backs turned (which seemed a bad idea for a cover). Issue #92 would acclimate me to most of these characters, as well as a little of what was involved with the evil guys (i.e., Ronan and the Sentry), which made reading #91 a little more fun for me by the time I was ready for it.

This issue wraps up bits and pieces of events from issue #90. Captain Marvel, helpless after a medical procedure, was captured by a Kree Sentry (#459--with its frequent use, you'd think #459 was the only Sentry in service); Goliath is in the Arctic investigating a call for help from the Wasp, after the disappearance of Yellowjacket; the Vision, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch (with Rick Jones in tow) have raced off to join him; and the Kree (in the form of Ronan the Accuser), alarmed at the speed which humans are progressing in development, have initiated Plan Atavus--raising a citadel in the Arctic and sending out rays which are de-evolving all life in an ever-increasing radius.

Complicating matters, Yellowjacket has already been affected by the "evo-rays" of the citadel and reduced to a hulking, near-mindless brute who's menacing the Wasp--and Goliath, captured by Ronan, has had his will sapped by the Sentry (Sentries can sap wills?) and is now fighting alongside him against the other Avengers. All of which gives a better idea of the players involved and makes this battle issue much easier to assimilate and follow. "Take One Giant Step--Backward!" serves to pave the way for the Kree-Skrull War, while containing some interesting developments of its own.

It looks like there's enough danger to go around--but since the Wasp seems to be in the more immediate danger, why don't we turn it over to Ronan, who's calling the shots and seems to be taking malicious delight in the plight of all involved:

I don't think Ronan needs to fill us in on what Yellowjacket's plans are for his newfound "mate," does he? Instead, he can bring us up to speed on where we are at this point in the story:

You have to give it up for the Kree with Plan Atavus--throwing a race into evolutionary reverse "conquers" their target world for them without the expenditure of military resources or personnel, and solves the problem regarding any race that advances sufficiently to present a danger to the Kree. Meanwhile, the Avengers, fragmented as they are, have their hands full. Mar-vell a prisoner; two Avengers out of action; and their giant-sized powerhouse is now fighting against them. On the positive side, it gives us a chance to see how the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver act as a team-within-a-team when the odds are stacked against them. The Sentry alone plowed right through the Avengers earlier, when it captured Mar-vell--and now he's joined by Goliath, whose teammates must take care not to seriously injure while they're battling for their lives. So to make headway, they sensibly sideline the Sentry first:

That leaves Goliath, whom the Vision is going to tackle with his tried-and-true method of solidifying himself partially within his target and thereby causing them debilitating pain (a tactic which would later come to be known as "disruption," though giving it a name seemed to make it more prone to fail in future stories). Here, as in prior use of this ability, we're given the impression that the Vision prefers to use this tactic only as a last resort, due to the danger it presents to the recipient:

Despite the Vision's reservations, it's difficult by this point for a reader to feel dread at seeing this kind of attack, since the Vision has used it often enough with no fatalities. In time, it will become old with more frequent use--but for now, its variations (particularly those depicted by artist Barry Smith) have been interesting enough to still give the illusion of a unique maneuver on the Vision's part.

Yet, if I'm not mistaken, the Sentry would be the first character to counter "disruption" with a defense that just about every foe of the Vision's is going to make sure they've got ready and waiting: feedback.

And, thanks to the Vision's discharge, this fight goes very quickly against the Avengers.

It goes without saying that the Sentry trembles not at all at a threat from Rick Jones; instead, he brings his captives back to the citadel, where Ronan is witness to a scene which for the first time unveils the new relationship between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision:

We should probably start calling this guy, "Ronan the Voyeur."

Which leaves us with only one Avenger at large--Quicksilver, who arrives at the Citadel with Rick and gains entry with an aspect to his powers that breaks new ground for the character:

At this point a few of you are probably wishing you'd hitched a ride with Pietro, because you've likely become annoyed at Rick's exclamation of "FAAAN-tastic!" that writer Roy Thomas has saddled him with for a few issues. But Rick has little else to do, so let's cut him some slack. As for Quicksilver, I don't think this little stunt was ever repeated--but perhaps only the Kree kept metal poles handy.

By now, though, let's hope that Vizh and Wanda have finished making out, because the tables are about to be turned on Ronan's mad scheme!

Jeez, Wanda--do Avengers usually tell each other to run away from a fight--especially when the fate of the world is at stake? Besides, he's doing a lot more than you are right now. Or maybe you just want some privacy. At any rate, Pietro's distraction gives Rick a chance to see to Mar-vell, who's already cooked up a plan to both win their freedom and bring down Plan Atavus:

The blast starts a reaction that rocks the Citadel and makes it clear to everyone that its demise is imminent. But before Ronan can retaliate, he receives news that the Skrulls have fired the first salvo in what would soon become formal war between the two galactic powers--and it serves to herald both Ronan's departure and the Sentry's end.

With the evo-rays no longer sweeping the area, the Avengers make their escape to find the rays' effects swiftly receding. But the Citadel's end also marks the conclusion of the careers of two Avengers:

It feels like a rushed end to Hank and Jan's association with the Avengers, given that Hank rejoined the team with full confidence in his abilities as Yellowjacket, and the Wasp having no reason to languish at Hank's lab when she could be out avenging. For whatever reason, Thomas felt the Pyms needed to sit out the events of the Kree-Skrull War (aside from a "house call" where Ant-Man gave us a tour of the inside of the Vision); in fact, given his equally-rushed exit for Goliath, Thomas apparently wanted no size-changing members in the Avengers lineup for the foreseeable future. But the "old guard" of Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America were waiting in the wings to return to active duty.

The Avengers #91

Script: Roy Thomas
Pencils and Inks: Sal Buscema
Letterer: Artie Simek


Anonymous said...

I said it over at the Bronze Age Babies so this is a rehash of my comment. I think it is absolutely hilarious that when the Kree were constructing this base, there was leftover materials that were left laying around! Gotta love government projects. I wonder if the star spanning Kree award to the lowest bidder also!?!

Okay, why wouldn't Pietro take the other bars with him? What if there were more Sentries? Or a closed door?

The Prowler (we don't plan to fail, we fail to plan).

david_b said...

I didn't like this ish for a few reasons, most of which are covered here.

1) Terrible handling of Hank and Janet.., just when stuff is ramping up.

2) Didn't like Ronan at all, sooooo changed from his original FF appearance.

3) Terrible cover, and frankly I didn't like most of how this entire saga played out, quite honestly. The saga's 'trying' to be majestic and all-important, but the scripting and ever-changing art somewhat struggling to do it justice. It's aspirations nevertheless did elevate the Avengers to nearly-flagship status at Marvel with the ripples of stories to come.

But for all it's greatness, it generated narry a comment nor mention in any of the solo Avengers titles or anywhere else. But again, neither did Galactus back in FF 48&49..

Comicsfan said...

Prowler, that's a good point about needing the other bars for what may lie ahead. But if there's anyone who's going to be in a hurry, it's Quicksilver--and he was probably only thinking of getting to Wanda and the others a.s.a.p. (Besides, assuming the bar he was carrying was undamaged, he could have just continued using that one--though I suspect its use was meant only as a one-shot by Thomas, since having Quicksilver getting used to carrying a weapon of any sort would have set a precedent for future battles which Thomas may not have cared for.)

David, yes, Ronan shrunk quite a bit under Buscema's pencils, didn't he? Half the time I wanted to call him "Igor." :)

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