Friday, February 8, 2019

Earth's Mightiest Feud

Dissension In The Ranks

When resentments and disagreements boil over,
even allies can turn against each other in fierce battle that can bring the house down.

(And often does!)


Iron Man and Wonder Man

Oh for the days when the phrase "Its Avenger vs. Avenger!" lit up a caption--when one Avenger lashed out at another after heated words were exchanged. Imagine if other groups acted like the Avengers, and actually resolved their disagreements or arguments with violence, as if they were starring in a western. How politicians avoid coming to blows is a genuine mystery. Baseball teams break out in fights en masse at the drop of a hat, and yet politicians are content to score biting verbal zingers with each other and leave it at that. Thank goodness for decorum.

It's hard to liken an Avenger to a politician--yet our two Avengers featured here didn't come to actual blows from their feud which took place across a span of 20+ issues of West Coast Avengers, despite having plenty of opportunity to do so. As far as we can tell, the trouble started when Wonder Man started making it big in Hollywood and began treating his Avengers stint and his status as a hero as indulgences that satisfied his ego rather than as a commitment. And Iron Man began to take notice.

The problem was that Iron Man, as a founding member of the team who had solid credentials in the hero business and a reputation which spoke for itself, also had an ego--and when Wonder Man began stepping on his toes, he began doing a little stepping of his own. Naturally, the dispute soon reached a point when one blamed the other for not only starting it, but escalating matters.

Iron Man is of course referring to the fact that back in the day, Simon Williams wasn't exactly the poster boy for business ethics:

As we're seeing, things really begin to heat up between them when the team finds itself trapped in the past after one of their foes sabotages Dr. Doom's time machine so that it only transports its user(s) backward in time. During one such jaunt, Mockingbird, Hawkeye's wife, is captured by the Phantom Rider just as the time platform carrying the others activates--after which, Wonder Man makes his boldest move yet to raise his profile on the team (and leap-frog over Iron Man in the process).

Yet when Hawkeye is injured, Iron Man pulls rank that nullifies Wonder Man's end run--but the altercation can't help but create more friction between them, to the point of the rest of the team taking notice of their ongoing quarrel.

Finally, Hawkeye's injury reaches the point where he has no choice but to temporarily step down as Chairman, and name a replacement. If the Avengers had continued rotating the position as they used to, there wouldn't have been an issue here--but there is, and Wonder Man is furious about how it's resolved.

Striking a bargain with the Egyptian god Khonshu (as only Hawkeye can), his injuries are mended and he recovers--but the situation between Wonder Man and Iron Man is spiralling out of control, with no end in sight.

Finally, the WCA return to their own time and confront the alien known as Dominus (which might ring a bell with X-Men readers), who was under the belief that he'd dealt with the team for good when he sent them on a one-way ticket to the past. This time, however, the Avengers triumph; yet when Dominus attempts escape, Iron Man, Espirita (a/k/a Firebird), and Wonder Man take off after him, hoping to overtake him before his vessel leaves Earth's atmosphere.

However, Wonder Man becomes a liability when he fails to consider his method of propulsion during his ascent--and while Iron Man makes the right call in turning back to save him, the antagonism between them erupts as a result.

But it's when they return to their compound that Wonder Man, already on the fence in regard to dedicating himself to his movie career vs. his desire to be an Avenger, is given food for thought by his agent--words that finally appear to sink in for him.

For all intents and purposes, this argument is set aside from this point on. Thanks to his solo battle with the Abomination in the following issue, Wonder Man gains new perspective on his status as an Avenger and reaffirms his commitment to the team, relegating his film career to the back burner whenever his Avengers duties take precedence. His dissension with Iron Man remained an issue; but whatever writer Steve Englehart had in mind for resolving the dispute between the two was never followed up on, as Tony Stark becomes obsessed with dealing with those who have taken advantage of his armor's stolen tech (the Armor Wars storyline) and is later forced to resign from the Avengers because of the lines he crosses with the law.

By the time he rejoined the team, he did so under false pretenses, with Stark presumed dead from his battle with Firepower and the team under the impression that another man was wearing the Iron Man armor--and with Englehart having departed by then, that seemed to be that as far as the two having any reason to continue their war of one-upmanship.


George Chambers said...

Uh, Tony... those things on Simon's back are clearly rockets, NOT jets. Jet engines have air intakes; Simon's gizmos don't. Besides, Simon's original gear was designed by Baron Helmut Zemo, who described himself as "one of Hitler's top rocket experts" in AVENGERS #8.

So why did Simon fall? Simplest answer is his rockets ran out of fuel.

Comicsfan said...

I don't know, George--even when Wondy debuted his new costume and relocated his jets/rockets/whatever, Stark still seemed pretty convinced that they were jets. And when the things were back on his waist, Wondy has even gone on record and referred to them as his "belt jets." That said, I tend to think you're correct (I'm almost sure I've called them rockets, myself), and perhaps Al Milgrom just ended up drawing rockets with Englehart never bringing it to his attention.

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