Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Jarvis, Ascendant!

Recently having looked in on the Avengers' butler, Jarvis, during his recovery from the brutal attack on Avengers Mansion by the Masters of Evil, we saw that he had made the decision to return to his position, one he had held since its inception. With his injuries so extensive, the decision he had to make did not come easy; but in reaffirming his commitment to the Avengers, it was clear how much esteem he held them in, and how close he felt to them all. In the end, it was a matter of living up to the standards of perseverance and the overcoming of hardship that the Avengers strove to hold themselves to--and Jarvis would be there alongside them.

Looking back on the character, we really didn't get a handle on Jarvis until he was forced to accept a payoff from an earlier grouping of the Masters in exchange for the mansion's defense plans, in order to help his ill mother--an act of betrayal for which the Avengers forgave him. Until then, it took some time for Jarvis to appear in the book, mostly working behind the scenes to maintain the mansion and see to the Avengers' needs; but occasionally, an opportunity would appear in a story for Jarvis to make his presence known, if only briefly. Two such instances were covered by writer Bob Harris previously, as Jarvis looked back through his memories of getting to know the Avengers from the ground up--with Harris expanding on those scenes, since, originally, our poor butler was never allowed to utter a sound!

Our first glimpse of Jarvis already has him in a predicament--thanks to the arrival of Hawkeye, who arrives to apply for membership in the Avengers and decides to demonstrate his qualifications with the reluctant cooperation of an understandably nervous butler.

(No doubt a difficult memory for Jarvis to relive these days, considering that his recent hospital stay was also a result of being bound and used for a demonstration.)

Harras also brings up the solitary existence Steve Rogers led when he first took charge of his own team of Avengers, choosing to remain at the mansion whenever the others would go out. Harras showed Jarvis lending an ear whenever Steve felt like talking during those times, though in the original version we'll have to assume that Jarvis stayed in the room following the discharge of his regular duties.

To my knowledge, Jarvis is first mentioned by name when Cap begins appearing in Tales of Suspense in late 1964, in a scene which mirrors the above but occurs nearly a year earlier:

But in The Avengers title, there appears to be a gap of twenty issues before Jarvis is first mentioned by name, when the Black Widow is being considered for Avengers membership and the active members decided to take a dinner break before deliberation--all of them except Cap, that is, who remains on monitor duty. Jarvis probably only owes his name being dropped to the fact that Cap practically logs his every thought for posterity.

(We can only imagine what Cap would think if he knew that one day, Iron Man would cross the same line the Widow did, with his treatment of Jocasta while the team was in pitched battle with Ultron.)

Shortly afterward, it's Jarvis who summons the team back to the mansion when Cap ducks out on a mission (to confront the dual threat of the Swordsman and Power Man). Jarvis isn't really needed in this scene, but it looks like writer Roy Thomas wants to begin making him more of a fixture in the mansion.

A few months later, Jarvis makes a cameo appearance in the first Avengers annual, and inadvertently makes something of a faux pas with Iron Man. The issue also features a cutaway of Avengers Mansion, with Jarvis apparently the only one minding the store!

Good lord, does that man have a lot of upkeep to take care of in that place. Maybe he enlists Quicksilver's help in dusting and vacuuming.

Finally, we see Jarvis answering a distress call from the very same Quicksilver--and you'd better believe he wants to make sure to give that guy prompt service.

From that point, Jarvis begins to receive more exposure in The Avengers, and the rest is history. I for one am glad to see him on the road to recovery from his ordeal--it's hard to think of the mansion, or the Avengers, being the same without the old boy.


Unknown said...

Yeah I kinda resent the fact that he's a computer in the movies.

Comicsfan said...

Well, Kevin, I can understand the reasons why they might have thought a butler in the Avengers films wasn't feasible. For one thing, there was no Avengers Mansion, with the team instead meeting here and there when needed and not congregating on their own in the organizational sense that we see in the comic. Also, the formality of a butler may have been deemed unnecessary, since audiences probably aren't interested in a staff member who serves tea or announces visitors, and such scenes only take up valuable time that needs to be spent on the plot. At least they threw us a bone and gave Jarvis a nod when naming Stark's A.I., eh? :)

lalalei2001 said...

I figured they didn't put Jarvis the human in the movies because he'd be too similar to Alfred from Batman. XD;

Captain Blog said...

Should have known Hawkeye was the one pushin' burgers (Mickey D's,no doubt) on the Avengers. That's what got Ted Cord back in the day, don'cha know?

Big Murr said...

Jarvis or Alfred...I don't know which chap needs more sympathy in considering their workload. Way back when in 1980, DC put out a trilogy called "Untold Legend of Batman", giving a dandy look into the history and elements of the Caped Crusader. The pages devoted to Alfred joining the team featured a panel of him dusting the dinosaur trophy in the Batcave! I would hazard Avengers Mansion and Wayne Manor are comparable rich man shacks, but Alfred has to then go downstairs to spit and polish an entire cave!

But then, Alfred enjoys the protection of anonymity, being known only as Bruce Wayne's butler. Avengers Mansion has all sorts of secret tunnels to the river and whatnot. I wonder if Jarvis has "get to the market with minimal fuss from paparazzi" tunnel?

Comicsfan said...

On that note, Murray, I would think that Jarvis needs some manner of security detail, for the simple reason that he knows how to bypass the security of Avengers Mansion in order to gain entrance. A tunnel that connects to an access point blocks away and allows his comings and goings to take place free of surveillance would probably go a long way (heh, get it?) in solving the problem.