Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Avengers: Whereabouts Unknown!


They say there's no rest for the weary--and that expression definitely applied to the Avengers following their climactic battle with the deadly Ultron, finally confronting the mechanized monster after he returned for his robot "bride," Jocasta, a construct that he earlier infused with part of the Wasp's essence before he was driven off. Even as the dust settles from that battle's denouement, another danger demands the team's attention as they discover that their members are suddenly, mysteriously, vanishing without a trace.



The mystery will eventually lead to a threat which would nearly wipe out the entire assemblage of this team (and other heroes, as well); but for now, writer Jim Shooter takes us through a follow-up issue which will find the team returning to deal with not one but two immediate crises. And to make matters worse, they find their effectiveness hampered by the bureaucratic meddling of the one and only Henry Peter Gyrich, as he butts heads with the Avengers for the first time.

But, on a positive note--Hawkeye returns to the fold!




Hawkeye has come back to seek the Avengers' help in tracking down the Two-Gun Kid, his companion-in-adventure who has vanished in the same way as Cap and Jocasta. But Hawkeye is remiss in securing the entryway after deactivating the mansion's alarms and entering the premises--and the timing of his oversight couldn't be more unfortunate.



This issue, which has artist Sal Buscema pitching in after a string of issues that have featured work by himself, George Perez, George Tuska and John Byrne, slides right into continuity thanks to Shooter, who doesn't seem to miss a beat despite inserting a fill-in story here and there. The status of Gyrich, of course, takes precedence with the team, since they have had to toe the line in light of his inclination to suspend the Avengers' government-granted priority privileges following a previous visit that allowed him to make a first-hand review of their lapses in security--and it's only after they welcome back Hawkeye into their midst that they realize the archer has all but sealed their fate with the government's watchdog.




(You have to crack a smile at the sight of the entire roster of Avengers dropping everything and charging at top speed to make sure that Gyrich is placated.)

Regrettably, the Avengers' good intentions don't count for squat with Gyrich, for whom this latest breach in security is (as he's already declared) the last straw.



Once Gyrich departs, the roof caves in--not literally, but for the Avengers it just as well might have, as their operation is effectively crippled. No more use of their communications equipment (aside from what Ma Bell provides); no more use of their quinjets; no further use of their monitoring equipment; and of course no more priority status. And when it rains, it pours. Almost immediately, they discover that Quicksilver has also vanished--while Tyrak, their deadly, nearly invincible undersea foe who attacked them in the service of Attuma, has reappeared and has been reported to be on the rampage at New York harbor. The Avengers are ready to deploy to stop him, when Iron Man decides to instead split them in order to address all the fronts that need their attention: (a) Tyrak's threat, (b) tracking down the cause of the vanishing Avengers, (c) contacting reserve Avengers, and (d) having a two-man team stand by in case of another emergency.

Ms. Marvel, who aided the team against Ultron, again offers her assistance and is assigned to the group that's heading for the harbor, which is where the remainder of this issue's attention is focused. And you talk about all hell breaking loose...






It's interesting how Ms. Marvel's assertiveness has affected both Hawkeye and Wonder Man, each in different ways--Simon, simply because he's been in virtual hibernation for a number of years and therefore missed the evolution of women in society, and Hawkeye, who has yet to find a balance with his future wife, Mockingbird, a former SHIELD agent who likely educated him quite a bit on his feelings of superiority toward women. (Something that apparently fellow Avengers Wanda and Jan--or the Black Widow, for that matter--couldn't accomplish.)

As for the other male member of the group, he's taken out of the fight fairly quickly by underestimating this foe's power, as Tyrak turns the Vision's ability to increase his mass and density against him.





Yet when Ms. Marvel re-enters the fight, it serves to spur Wonder Man to action--which you'd think would swing the battle the Avengers' way, considering Wonder Man's level of strength in tandem with Ms. Marvel's. But Simon's misplaced gallantry allows Tyrak to gain the upper hand (er, hands)--that is, until the Scarlet Witch raises hers.






Unfortunately, the Avengers' victory is practically pointless, considering that they no longer have the authority to summon special assistance to have Tyrak incarcerated--and, as Wonder Man points out, "he won't fit in a cab." So in order to preserve his life, they're forced to hurl him back into the sea (presumably some distance away, thanks to Wonder Man)--and with no sign that he's recovered and intends to resume hostilities, they consider their job done.



But Ms. Marvel is only partially correct. One crisis has passed, though another remains--the disappearances of several Avengers, a tally to which the Vision can now be added, as he vanishes in front of the eyes of his strike group. As Iron Man assesses the status of the other members, it's clear that he considers this threat a top priority--and in a different way, so does someone else.



Our mystery abductor happens to be none other than the Collector, who has been sequestering Avengers in order to preserve them from the imminent threat of Korvac, which would be Shooter's concluding work on the book.  (And it probably goes without saying that the Avengers wish he'd taken Gyrich along with him!)

The Avengers #172

Script: Jim Shooter
Breakdowns: Sal Buscema
Finisher: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Denise Wohl

2 comments:

George Chambers said...

I always wondered why the Collector took the Avengers in the order he did. Fair enough, Cap should be first choice, or near it, and the Vision could be considered the heart of the team at this point, but - Moondragon? Quicksilver? Before Iron Man or Thor? Jocasta and Two-Gun weren't even Avengers!

Comicsfan said...

Those are good points, George. Mar-vell wasn't an Avenger, either, yet he was acquired as well--while oddly enough, the Hulk was apparently overlooked. As for the order, perhaps it had something to do with Korvac, whose detection the Collector was trying to avoid while he was snatching Avengers; Thor and Iron Man going among the missing along with Cap and the Vision might have had "Michael" raising an eyebrow.

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