Friday, January 26, 2018

If You Lead, We Will Follow

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!)


Around the time of Ultron's long-awaited return to The Avengers in 1977, the team had hit a slump in both morale and teamwork, thrown into disarray not only by Wonder Man's reappearance but also the fact that Ultron nearly overwhelmed them all when they clashed, saved only by a last-ditch gambit by Iron Man that opened an uncomfortable door as to just how far they were willing to cross the line to prevail. There was also the uncertainty that resulted from Iron Man's appointment as Chairman--a post requiring a full-time commitment from a man whose time was already in demand as Tony Stark by the pressing needs of his company. In addition, the Vision had been critically injured by Ultron and was currently undergoing treatment in a restorative tank--while Wonder Man was known to freeze up in battle, with every mission as an Avenger representing for him the possibility of a return to death that he had so recently escaped from.

The Avengers lineup remained well-balanced, with several of their members among their most experienced--but despite the presence of Captain America in the field, they seemed uncoordinated and often acted rashly, and tempers were becoming frayed. They also fared poorly against remnants of the Lethal Legion (Whirlwind, Power Man, and the Living Laser--probably more accurately described as one part Masters of Evil/two parts Lethal Legion), surviving the encounter only because Count Nefaria used his three unsuspecting pawns to make himself a super-powerhouse, siphoning their powers for himself with a procedure that increased his might a hundredfold but, in turn, leaving his lackeys powerless.

Nefaria's attack easily deals with whatever resistance the Avengers are able to offer, burying them beneath a toppled building and leaving them for dead. Iron Man, whose absence during the attack couldn't help but stand out like a sore thumb to the other Avengers, arrives and digs through to them, fortunately finding no fatalities--but his next decision doesn't buy his way out of the dog house, not by a long shot.

Jeez! Look who's gunning for Chairwoman!

Wanda, one of the oldest Avengers and part of the team's very first lineup change, has gone back and forth between being one of the group's staunchest supporters to, at times, a member who's impatient and angry at toeing the line as an Avenger, and as a hero. Yet it's clear that she's every inch the Avenger here--and, like the others, she's not about to be sidelined.

But there's enough impatience to go around, when Nefaria returns and Iron Man forgets what "Avengers Assemble" is supposed to mean.

Actually, Panther, since Nefaria is going through your entire team's roster like a scythe through wheat, it should be pretty apparent that all hands are needed. Maybe the Beast is more of an Avenger right now than you are, your Highness.

Fortunately, neither the Beast nor any of the other Avengers can afford to just wait things out for long, since Iron Man fails to make any headway against Nefaria--and they rejoin the fray, for all the good it does them. Nefaria takes out five of his foes before returning his attention to Iron Man, who joins the others in defeat--as does Wonder Man.

With Nefaria having made a clean sweep of his opposition, he's then forced to turn his attention to the attack of Thor, who has arrived with a vengeance. Back at Avengers Mansion, however, the team is not only still on edge with each other--one is even making a life-or-death gamble with another under his care, for the sole reason of having another body to send against Nefaria. Assuming the patient survives Dr. Frankenstein's his doctor's desperate, just-thought-of-it solution.

With Henry Pym at the switch, we were all probably expecting another Ultron to crawl out of that tank instead of the Vision, but the procedure works--and before you can say "Welcome back!", the Vision is directed outside to where Thor is faring poorly against Nefaria.

In another part of the mansion, even Jarvis finds his usual gracious manner of little use on a day when obduracy is the mood of the day.

Meanwhile, the Vision has found his powers ineffectual against Nefaria, who has discovered that he's begun aging rapidly--and while he rages against the inevitable, the Vision feels it's the perfect time to trash "human foibles." On the positive side, at least he's not unloading on his fellow Avengers.

Though we can't say the same for Wanda and Thor, who may just square off with each other once they've settled Nefaria's hash.

It's the Vision, however, who delivers the coup de grĂ¢ce, increasing his density and mass to their ultimate and plummeting down on Nefaria like a meteor, finally putting an end to the threat. But many things are simmering beneath the thoughts and feelings of these battle-weary Avengers this day, none of which take the form of team pride or even simple congratulations.

It would seem the Avengers have a ways to go toward putting their house in order. (Hopefully they aren't expecting Jarvis to do it!)

A maneuver we can all probably agree was dead on arrival.


Anonymous said...

I guess I could see Cap and Beast whipping that shield at Nefaria just to distract him momentarily. Otherwise it doesn't make any sense! It's just gonna bounce off him.


George Chambers said...

It's worth remembering that Iron Man was only Chairman because Thor appointed him as such when he left the team circa issue 150; but only as interim chairman and only until an election could be held. Iron Man could have saved himself a lot of angst, simply by holding that election ASAP. Most Avengers would have agreed that Cap was the best choice, surely.

Tiboldt said...

The first question for any prospective Avengers' chair should be 'do you have your own comic?'

Missing meetings and adventures with excuses such as 'I was trapped on the moon/fighting Doctor Doom in the court of King Arthur/kidnapped by pirates' would seem to be commonplace. In fact, I'm surprised that they appear together so often.

Also, shouldn't the Scarlet Witch be their goto person for invulnerable enemies? Certainly Ultron recognised this.

Comicsfan said...

Well, Tiboldt, I suppose your "do you have your own comic?" condition would also preclude Cap from claiming the Chairmanship--and Thor and the Panther, as well. Of course, any of these individuals could decline the nomination if they thought their plate would be too full. (Good grief, the Panther has a kingdom to tend to.)

Jared said...

If you ever want to explain to someone what makes the Avengers different than the Justice League, this is the comic to show them. This is an example of the Marvel Universe feeling like real people who have super powers with all drama and infighting we would find in any real like situation.

This is my favorite era for Avengers. It is very rare that all the A list characters are together for long and handled so well.