Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Old Order Changeth, Part 2--1982-1991

OR: "Rage Meets His Match" (and then some)


This week, the PPC has taken a look at the progression of Avengers lineup changes as seen through the eyes of not only news reporters but also the average Joe on the street, as the announcement of new Avengers steadily grew into a media event that was highly anticipated by anxious viewers and crowds (to say nothing of villains who still had the Avengers in their sights). We also learned that not every lineup change resulted in a public announcement and/or media coverage, as, in many cases, a number of shifts in membership took place behind closed doors, skipping the media frenzy entirely.

Having covered these new lineup debuts during the period of Avengers history from 1963-1981, we now pick things up nearly a year later, as the team attempts to pull itself together following some disturbing episodes that involved two of their own. First, Henry Pym, aka Yellowjacket, has badly damaged both his professional and personal standing with the Avengers by taking rash action toward an aggressor during a heated battle, prompting a court-martial during which he completely disgraced himself--compounded by the revelation that he struck his wife, Janet van Dyne, while preparing for the proceedings. With Pym subsequently expelled from the Avengers, the team turned its attention to the errant Moondragon, who used her mental powers to take over an alien world and, later, kill her own father.

Pym's troubles were certainly fair game for the media, particularly when he later went on trial over a charge of treason for committing a federal crime. Moondragon proved to be another matter, however, as Thor saw to her punishment by having her answer for her behavior to the lord of Asgard, Odin, rather than any authorities on Earth. Yet now, the team resolves to put their house in order and move on--which fortunately means sweeping the book's readers into what will hopefully be a pivot toward better days ahead.

As with some of the other lineup changes we've seen which involved new members coming aboard, this, too, would be a case of the Avengers handling things without choosing to let the press in on the process; after all, despite what the cover implies with a virtual fist full of applicants, only one new member would be joining, and no existing members are departing, so there is no shake-up of the Avengers which will lead to a substantially new lineup for either the news or the public to take note of. Specifically, two Avengers would head over to Hawkeye at his "day job" to tempt him into returning to the ranks--while the Wasp would hold a luncheon in an effort to draw in new female members. Only one of the ladies, however, would be free to do so--and so the only loose end to tie up is handled quietly behind the scenes.

Within the year, two more Avengers would join the fold as part of the team's new trainee classification--Captain Marvel, who has already had exposure to the Avengers when she gained her powers, and Eros of Titan, who receives a code name which the Avengers' female contingent are all in agreement on.

As we've seen, the induction of Eros comes at a welcome time for the Wasp, who has been doubting her status as a capable leader since the abrupt resignation of Iron Man--and perhaps not so welcome where Hawkeye is concerned, sidelined with a recent injury.

Four months later, look who else drops by for a membership card. And perhaps it's just as well that the press didn't get wind of it--especially the cantankerous publisher of the Daily Bugle.

An urgent mission at Project Pegasus, however, takes precedence, and so the Avengers table the issue until later. But Spider-Man, wishing to lend a hand, has other ideas, as the team discovers upon landing.

Soon enough, Spider-Man finds himself hip deep in the threat which has assailed the complex, brought on by drilling toward the Earth's core which certain denizens of the lower depths perceived as an invasion. As to their identity, Spider-Man was somewhat cynical of their existence up until this point--but seeing is believing.

Having gotten an earful from his potential teammates, Spider-Man has received quite an education on the way the Avengers operate. Yet despite his doubts, he's inclined to give things a chance--that is, until the N.S.C. puts its collective foot down on the subject.

As for our absent friends in the media, they return to the book three years later as crowds once again descend on Avengers Mansion, only this time "not to praise [the Avengers] but to bury [them]"* as they strongly weigh in on the team's newest choice for membership.

*Paraphrasing Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2.

Contrast that issue with a startling change in membership which takes place in early 1989, a shake-up which should have drawn crowds and reporters alike to the gate at Avengers Mansion like flies to honey. Yet was there any reaction, from anyone?

Not a peep.

To be fair, the entire city was recovering from the events of the Inferno crossover event, so chances are the average man on the street chose to stay off the streets until getting word that no demons were out there looking for a meal.

Two years later, things are back to normal for the citizens of New York, and for the Avengers. That is, if you've grown used to the team having abandoned their Fifth Avenue headquarters for an island base, only to abandon that base and set up shop in a ritzy new plaza-headquarters on the upper east side--and if you're fine with their new team(s) structure, coinciding with their break from government oversight in favor of shifting their profile to that of a special peace-keeping force of the United Nations. Needless to say, the press is having a field day, while the public isn't necessarily cordial in chiming in on this dizzying array of new inductees.

In the better-late-than-never department, the new HQ also has its own security/support crew. As for the team, it's easy to recall when Iron Man, in his own time as Chairman and when things looked to be getting a little crowded in the membership proceedings, once mentioned that he wasn't ready or willing to lead an army--but what exactly do we have here, if not that? And is this entire pack of Avengers always going to be on stand-by, or do they have their own lives to lead?

At any rate, changes to this new setup are forthcoming.  Once Operation Galactic Storm is concluded, the team membership is pared down to a more manageable head count; in addition, "Avengers Headquarters" is destroyed, and a Watcher from another reality brings back Avengers Mansion. (Welcome to Marvel Comics in the 1990s, folks.) It's anyone's guess where the press is hiding, and apparently the fans have better things to do, as neither development draws any interest on their part--and as the book ran its course to the end of its first volume, it seemed to leave behind the fanfare which heralded special issues that allowed each of us to take part in a new lineup announcement, where even the crowds took part in shouting the words "Avengers Assemble!".


With their attention focused on the Avengers, even our friends in the Fourth Estate missed a golden opportunity for a feature story with a human interest angle within the team's ranks. Case in point: Elvin (Rage) Haliday, who gets dressed down by his Granny Staples following a battle that left her yard in need of tending.


Colin Jones said...

So ex-villains are allowed to join the Avengers and even that dangerous loose cannon the Hulk was allowed to join but Spider-Man gets barred because he's a security risk???

Comicsfan said...

When you put it that way, that does seem kind of jaw-dropping, Colin. For what it's worth, both Sandman and Spider-Man benefit from the Avengers no longer being obligated to run their lineup changes by the Feds at this point.

Anonymous said...

The Hulk was only in there for a few issues, way back before the Avengers had any standing with the government. And even then it seemed like the main reason he was there was so they could keep an eye on him.
That didn't work out too good.
I remember being rather disappointed with Ero--ah, "Starfox." (sigh)
I know Starlin originally wrote him as being something of an unserious, cosmic playboy, but you'd think the brother of Thanos would have a little more gravitas. Especially after what Thanos put him and Titan through.
Now THERE'S a guy I would be suspicious of. No matter how goofy he acts, which is like somebody who got bit by a radioactive Hugh Hefner.


Comicsfan said...

M.P., you might want to check out the Earth's Mightiest Heroes series from 2005 for a more behind-the-scenes look at the Hulk's time with the Avengers as well as the N.S.C.'s position on the subject (in the form of Special Agent Murch). Let's just say Greenskin's brief period as part of the team didn't sit well with the agency--nor did it reflect well on the Avengers, who vouched for him.

Anonymous said...

I forgot the Avengers got paid a $1000 a week back then - thats got to be a lot more these days, right?
Presumably they also have health and dental plans (which I hear makes a big difference in freedom-loving countries that don't have communistic public healthcare systems) and don't pay rent if they live in the Avengers' mansion.

No wonder seemingly everyone's joined at some point!


Comicsfan said...

Members might not have a formal health/dental "plan" per se, sean--more than likely either a Stark office or the Maria Stark Foundation just foots the bill for any visits to the doctor. (Which as we know covers Jarvis, as well!)

Anonymous said...

$1000 in 1982 is about $2900 now. Inflation is terrible.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

So ~$150k pa in today's terms then. Sounds reasonable buts everyone really on the same salary? I could see IronMan wanting more and I could see the government being prepared to offer more for big hitters like Thor, Wonder Man, Hercules,…

I also wonder about Rick Jones. It's one thing to be arguing back around Avengers #1-20 whether he's a member but things get serious when we're talking about paying someone a salary like that just to hang around on the edges.

And the way they talk about the Wasp in the early days as if she were an afterthought. Could Giant Man and Wasp have been only drawing the one salary?

Comicsfan said...

dangermash, I think it's safe to say that only in a "reality" created by the Shaper of Worlds would Rick Jones ever have been made an Avenger.

I think the highest designation he might have attained within their ranks may have been "mascot." (Though that meeting may have taken place behind closed doors.)

Anonymous said...

dangermash, I think the payment to the Avengers is less a salary or wage given for their work, and more like a stipend. More powerful Avengers don't get paid more than less powerful ones. And not every solution relies on sheer power so how do you determine how much to pay the genius characters or power sets that seem less spectacular, but which might be absolutely essential in solving a specific problem.

And Iron Man, more than any other character, wouldn't need to be paid since Tony Stark has more wealth than any other Avenger except perhaps the Black Panther. And in setting, it'd be assumed that as Stark's bodyguard he is already being paid a large salary by Stark.

The government stipend likely only came into play once Gyrich (and his replacement Security liaisons) came into play. Prior to that, I think they got paid nothing except perhaps for "petty cash" provided by the Maria Stark Foundation to offset off site expenses for those living in the mansion. That's how it is in my imagination.