Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Some Avengers previews

As per the norm when completing a full set of Essential volumes for a particular series and/or character, here's a look at later issues collected elsewhere. Four further Avengers issues come up in other volumes.

Avengers Annual #10 written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Michael Golden, reprinted in Essential Ms. Marvel volume 1 and later editions of Essential X-Men volume 3

Ms. Marvel is found with her mind and memories gone after an attack by the mutant Rogue. The next targets are the Avengers as Rogue and Mystique set about trying to free the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from prison. Meanwhile a recovering Ms. Marvel has some strong words to say.

This annual is strongly remembered for two reasons. It's surprising to recall that such a prominent X-Men member as Rogue was originally introduced in the pages of Avengers and indeed there are times when this story feels more like a chapter of X-Men that just happens to feature other heroes, with Spider-Woman teaming up with the Avengers. Rogue's ability to absorb powers and memories makes for a foe who can discover the team's secrets, making her an especially hard challenge to overcome as she works her way through the team's most powerful members.

But it's the epilogue that's the more shocking as the Avengers meet Ms. Marvel for the first time since she departed for Limbo with Marcus. And she doesn't hold back in blasting them for their failure to help her. She bluntly tells them how she was used and raped by Marcus and how when she turned to her friends for help they failed to realise this and responded in a cack handed way. It's a very blunt response to the events of issue #200 and as Claremont had been the main writer on her solo title it's easy to see this as a direct counter to how other writers had misused the character.

Avengers #214 written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Bob Hall, reprinted in Essential Ghost Rider volume 3

This issue features a compare and contrast between Yellowjacket and the Ghost Rider, both of whom have suffered a fall in glory due to their actions. Hank Pym finds himself expelled from the Avengers, informed the Wasp is divorcing him and ends up in a slum hotel. Meanwhile Johnny Blaze is working in a petrol station in a small town in the west and his alter ego attacks the passing Angel. The Avengers journey to the town to find the Ghost Rider, leading to a battle until the Angel recovers and calms things down and they let Johnny go free.

This is a somewhat slight issue, combining a guest appearance with ongoing plotlines and a downtime moment for much of the team. As a result the issue starts with a focus on day to day events in New York and the continued fallout from Yellowjacket's disgrace before the reduced team head west and largely serve as a curiosity for the townsfolk during their search. Earlier Jarvis lectures Captain America on the importance of allowing people to ultimately make choices for themselves rather than impose direction upon them, a lesson that guides his response here.

Avengers Annual #11 written by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Al Milgrom, reprinted in Essential Defenders volume 6

The Defenders' old foe Nebulon is exiled to Earth and seeks help from the Avengers, claiming to have reformed, whilst another of his species, Supernalia, recruits the Defenders claiming that Nebulon is going to destroy the world. The two teams clash in the Himalayas, with a mystery as to which of the two aliens is telling the truth.

This story comes from a period when there was a tendency for annuals to sometimes forget just who the primary character(s) for a series are. It reads as a good Defenders story, wrapping up the saga of one of their long running foes with some strong characterisation, but it's very much an intruder into the Avengers' own title and doesn't really do a great deal with the team beyond throwing them into a fight. The annual also includes the Charter and By-Laws for the Avengers, which will excite all those who have ever had to write or read constitutions. Half the space of the by-laws are taken up with membership, going into such details as how many meetings a year a reserve member is required to attend, and rather less space is given to how the aims and objectives of the team shall be implemented.

Avengers #263 written by Roger Stern and drawn by John Buscema, reprinted in Essential X-Factor volume 1

An aeroplane containing the Enclave and some equipment crashes into the bay, causing a massive explosion and ongoing energy geezers. The Avengers investigate and discover a cocoon at the bottom that resists all attempts to approach it and seek to find out just who or what is inside. Meanwhile the Melter prepares an attack but the Scourge of the Underworld has other ideas.

This was the launch of a mini-crossover with Fantastic Four that aimed to prepare the ground for the new series X-Factor that would reunite the five original X-Men. With one of them having been killed off, this crossover set out to bring them back to life. Pretty much all the controversial material is in the Fantastic Four chapter, leaving this as primarily an extended investigation of the strange goings on in the bay with the potential that the Enclave have once more created a super-being. The Melter scene is almost entirely detached from the main story, being one of a number of such scenes across the Marvel line that saw lame supervillains being killed off. Overall in isolation this is a rather tame issue of the series.

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