The Avengers #175

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The Avengers stare at the ash that was The Collector wondering about the powerful being that would be able to do something of this nature to another powerful being. For a moment some of the team thinks they are in danger but Iron Man points out that with a being that powerful, if that being wanted them dead they’d be dead. Iron Man decides they need to check out the ship to find some clue to to who they may be facing. Any computer system that had information on it is promptly destroyed. At this point Iron Man decides they need to find a way to leave, ignoring the fact that Vance Astro is still on the Guardians of the Galaxy ship and could easily transport them home. Don’t you love it when a writer forgets what happened previously in a story?

They look around for something that could get them home. Iron Man discovers the time travel device that The Collector used in order to gather the specimens for his collection. From there, he discovers the little mystery that the writer was kind of, sort of hinting at when it came to Thor. It seems that Thor had been taken in and out of time with the help from The Collector to help battle the little brush fires to help keep The Avengers safe since he wanted the team intact. With that explanation everyone breaths a sigh of relief and moves on. I have a problem with this. To me, it seems like a big deal that a member of the team was taken so easily. The fact that there was doubts that he could be who he is should have been something that caused them to quarantine Thor from the rest of the group just to make sure he is no threat. As I mentioned before, the Marvel Universe has already established Life Model Decoys as a thing so to not act on suspicions that Thor is not who he says he is as well as take the explanation from the security tapes of a ship that was owned by a villain that kidnapped them was just plain frightening. I would do a lot more than absolutely nothing to make sure that Thor was on the up and up.

From there, a character who’d been in a total of maybe five panels decides he wants to use the time machine to go back to his own time. Bye bye Two Gun Kid. I get that in the Marvel Universe, he had a lot more adventures than what is presented in this issue. My problem with this development has to do with the fact that in regards to this particular story, the Two Gun Kid had no point being there. If they really wanted to retire the character or something by sending him back to his own time they should have done that in a comic where he had more involvement in the story. Doing it here was pointless because in this scene we’re supposed to be sad that a member of the team is saying his final goodbye when in reality I could have cared less because he was barely in the story.

Next up, The Vision finds a teleportation machine they can use to get back to Earth. Why have the Guardians of the Galaxy in the story, a team that has the ability to teleport them wherever they want to go, if you’re not going to use them? They’re presented as almost an after thought when at the beginning of the story their mission was of the highest importance. Logically I can see where a writer would hesitate having that many people actively involved in a story because when you’re dealing with the limited real estate that comics give you, you have to use each page wisely. At that point though, you should be asking yourself as a writer whether those characters are really going to be needed if you don’t plan on using them. Not every character is going to be needed for every page, every scene but you have to have a plan for them.

So from there The Vision transports the team back to Earth. Seems his aim is off because Wonder Man ends up in traffic, the Scarlet Witch appears in the sky and plunges to the ground, and Hawkeye ends up on a flagpole. Captain Marvel ends up saving the day, rescuing the members of the team that need his help. Another pointless scene if you ask me. What really bothers me is that there is no mention of any sort of communication disturbance to Vance Astro. If they simply had one line about the lines of contact to the Guardians ship were cut off, I could buy this scene. They would have to rely on a technology they had no clue how to use in order to get home. As it stands, this scene is presented as a bad attempt at comedy. We’re talking Jar Jar Binks level of bad here.

From there, we head to the home of Michael and Carina where we finally discover that Michael is Korvac, the being we met all the way in Thor Annual #6. Seems after Thor defeated him he escaped in time to our present day where he came across an empty ship that used to be owned by Galactus. From there, he used his computer circuitry to learn everything he could, in the process becoming a god! Seems the level of knowledge Galactus had on his ship was infinite so Korvac ended up with more power than he ever contemplated having. From there he turned himself human again and decided on a new mission, ending injustice throughout the world. Apparently on his terms which makes him the bad guy.

I’ve found that the best bad guys are ones that at least in their head think they’re the good guys. What they’re doing has to make sense to them. The flaw of course in bad guys for stories like this has to do with the means they use to achieve their goals. Regardless of their intentions, they’re going to run through anyone and everyone who gets in their way. The Daredevil television show illustrated this brilliantly with Wilson Fisk. Wilson was very much a bad guy in this story but his goals, if you sat back and thought about it were actually to make Hell’s Kitchen a good place to live. It’s literally not until the last twenty minutes of the last episode where he says fuck it and becomes a bad guy. Villains that are there to just cause destruction and chaos are not as interesting over the long term. There may be some enjoyment seeing them wreck havoc but once they’re stopped you promptly ignore them. The best villains have that little shade of gray which allows you on some level to relate to them. For Korvac, his effort to make the galaxy a better place is certainly a goal I would hope most of us shares. The fact that he’ll straight up murder the faces of anyone who gets in his way is the trait that makes him the villain.

Back to the story. The Avengers make it back to the mansion where they discuss tactics. We have an interesting bit where Quicksilver questions whether they should have Jocasta help and whether she can even be considered alive being that she’s an android. From there, The Vision gets in his face like they’re about to throw down. You almost expect Jerry Springer to pop out of somewhere while Quicksilver and The Vision fight while the Scarlet Witch takes off her top and pole dances for the reader. From there you see Wonder Man attempt to impress Ms. Marvel with a show of strength that back fires. Because we’re all ten year old boys and we all know that the way to impress the ladies is by lifting things in the air, not trying to treat them like human beings and getting to know them as people. Iron Man attempts to use some of The Avengers equipment to look for the force that is behind what happened to The Collector only to find out that Gyrich from the NSA took the machines. From there, Jarvis casually mentions the Guardians in a conversation where he’s bitching about having to help so many people and it’s at this point that Iron Man thinks to have them help with their cause. They may already be looking for an incredibly powerful creature that is looking to kill a member of the Guardians but there is no way at all that those two events could somehow be related. There’s no reason to even consider that question because you know, science.

Iron Man contacts the Guardians in the home he bought for them for their mission and gets Starhawk’s assistance to help look for the being behind their problem. All the while, Michael Korvac sees what is happening and smiles, knowing that after his earlier battle with Starhawk, Starhawk will not know where to look for him.

Bottom Line:

We’re nearing the finished line. This particular issue was not as bad as others but it still left a lot to be desired in terms of quality. It’s not that this is a bad story. I think it’s a great idea for a story, it’s just horribly written. There are way too many lapses in logic that make you question the editing standards at Marvel during this time. It’s like it is written by a fifth grader. They want to throw everything into the mix and then promptly get distracted at the slightest whim. They’ve also had elements introduced in one comic and promptly forgotten in the next. Writing a long form story is tough, believe me. Writing my novel Time to Play the Game was by far the toughest bit of writing I have ever done. It’s like a big puzzle that you have to put together while blindfolded. I think I did pretty good in my case but I am also sure that if I went back to that novel now I would find some pieces that are missing which detract from the story much like I’ve seen in every issue in this story. That does not excuse it from happening. I get the idea that while Marvel wanted a story that was told over many issues they did not properly plan it out. They winged it which would explain all of the lapses in logic you encounter in this story. If you’re going to tackle a story of this size, there has to be SOME planning. If you fail to do that, the story, and your reader, suffers.

The Avengers #173

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The issue starts with Iron Man explaining the severity of the The Avengers current situation to an assembled team that The Wasp brought together. It’s one panel that quickly sums up the main problem the team is currently facing. While I wish there would have been more than one panel to have a recap, it’s better than nothing. I simply think of readers that may have started the story with this issue. You have a very generalized idea of what is going on so you’re not lost in the story.

From there we get Hercules and Black Widow arriving in New York on a plane. Black Widow wants to get off the plane and to the mansion as soon as possible to deal with the situation they were called in for but Hercules is more concerned with impressing the ladies. There’s a way to show a hero when he’s faced with a situation that could put the world at peril. Have him more concerned about scoring with a handful of ladies. While the comics of this era were horrible when it comes to how women were treated for the most part, men were in their own way held to their own stereotypical standards. Now compared to how women were treated this is not THAT big of a deal mind you but treating characters as stereotypes severely limits what you can do with them.

Now Hercules is told by Black Widow that they have to get to the helipad on the other side of the terminal. He thinks it’s a perfectly good idea to rip a hole in the side of the airplane and hop through it towards their destination. The late 70’s may have been quite lax at airports before 9/11, I get that. But I don’t see how someone ripping a hole in the side of an airplane, no matter who they were, would be accepted by the authorities. Now maybe you could argue that if Hercules owned the plane it wouldn’t matter because the money was coming from his pocket. But later they say that they had to rely on Tony Stark to pay off the airline in order to leave. This was just pointless when these two heroes were needed at the Avengers Mansion in order to save the world. It is even another example why Gyrich the government official was very much in the right to deny The Avengers government support for their actions. Hell, after Hercules and Black Widow appear on the helipad and are refused service on the helicopter, Hercules decides it’s a ok to throw the helicopter across the tarmac destroying it. Again, while it may go a long way to showcase the physical strength of Hercules, it shows that in the smarts department he is quite lacking to say the least. His actions should have put him in prison, not delayed him twenty minutes.

Soon Hercules and Black Widow arrive at Avengers Mansion where Iron Man fills them in on what is going on. He tries in vain to contact folks on Tony Stark’s secret communication channels but has people that have helped him before like Nick Fury cut off communications. The Nick Fury panel confused me because that character has always been portrayed as someone who would always fight for the common good no matter what got in his way. I just didn’t buy his response that SHIELD would not assist The Avengers if the world were truly in danger. Maybe his assistance wouldn’t be overt but he’d find a way to lend a hand.

Anyway, we next head back to see what Korvac is up to after many, many issues of him being gone…in the story line that is about him. So, we see that he is very much aware of what is going on with The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. We’re told that he is doing what he can to make sure that anyone and everyone who could put a stop to his plans is being attended to. Then we see a bizarre scene where the woman who is his wife (it’s not explained if she is really his wife or taking on that mantle after meeting up with him at the fashion show) cries, shimmers with cosmic energy, and then goes back to normal. We see so little of her character up to this point that you have no basis to understand what is going on with her and why this scene is important. Things may end up coming together at the end of the story where as the reader you’ll realize the importance of her role in the story but with no character history to go on, as the reader you’re left confused which is not good. Not that you need a thirty two volume history of her life to understand her importance or anything but you can’t just treat her as a background ornament one minute and suddenly important the next. The readers have to have a reason to care.

We get a bit of an idea as to Korvac’s intentions. He wants to go after a being called Eternity. Eternity is the highest of high, most omnipotent being in the universe and if Korvac could destroy him, or her, he would have ultimate power. Before we can get further details Korvac senses the power coming from his wife. He investigates with what looks like every intention of snuffing out that power like a candle but senses her love and hugs her. Corny. Just corny, soap opera nonsense that has no place. The writer was trying to go for something deep here with this scene but again, with no real clue as to who anyone is apart from Korvac we have no reason to care about them. They’re bad. The wife may have some powers. We have no reason to care about their importance to the story because they’ve hardly been around.

Next we see the emergency meeting at the mansion has finally ended and the heroes all break up to do their own investigating, some alone and some in pairs. Iron Man in the previous issue made a big point of everyone pairing off but apparently didn’t think it was important for that to continue. Even a throw away line like him acknowledging that the pairing off last issue was pointless would have satisfied me but that didn’t happen. Anyway, we next see The Scarlet Witch crying about her brother and her husband both having disappeared. Hawkeye attempts to cheer her up but understandably fails. Then we see a character on a boat who is carving a Scarlet Witch figurine. It’s promised that he would cause problems for her in the future. I actually liked this tease. I have no clue where it is going. It was only two panels long but it does a lot to interest me in future issues.

Next up we see Thor enter the mansion kitchen where Jarvis is making Wonder Man lunch. Thor has no clue as to who Wonder Man is even though Wonder Man points out that they had fought in battles before. Thor tells him he is wrong. We’re again left to question whether the man we are seeing is Thor or not. Nice enough tease and all but it is apparently not important enough for these people to act upon. You would think that with the work they do they would take a moment to ask a few questions or do a little investigating. At least at this time in the comics life model decoys were very much a reality. Why would they not investigate whether Thor was real or not when he could potentially be a life model decoy sent by an enemy? Yet another reason why I agree with the government that The Avengers, at least presented in these pages, should not have anything to do with saving the world because they positively, absolutely suck at their jobs.

We cut to Iron Man talking to Black Panther. Black Panther suggests that they contact Vance Astro on the Guardians of the Galaxy ship for his assistance in location where the missing Avengers are. Vance has been alone on his ship all this time and could have helped them from the moment of the first disappearance but NOW they decide it’s a good idea to contact him. How convenient. I would have even accepted this development if someone, anyone, responded with a ‘Duh, I should have thought of that’ type of response. We don’t get this. We’re supposed to just accept that someone with the technology to help them, that could have helped them many issues ago in locating the first disappearances, was not thought of by anyone in order to help. Maybe it’s just me but I would think that if your job is to protect the world you’d take advantage of every tool at your disposal. But what do I know?

Suddenly Black Panther and Yellow Jacket disappear. They contact Vance who quickly locates where the missing Avengers are which again lets you as the reader question the competency of The Avengers for not contacting him sooner. Vance teleports them to this mysterious person’s ship. It turns out to be The Collector, who crows at the fact that he doesn’t have to capture the rest of them because they are now all there.

Bottom Line:

Yet another uneven story in The Korvac Saga. I find it bizarre that we are seven issues into this story and Korvac’s involvement so far would probably fill a half a comic if that. There are some good ideas that are tossed out there but some of the silliness like Hercules throwing a helicopter just cause makes any enjoyment of the story invalidated. If the writer cannot take the time to have the story make sense, why should the reader invest their time in the story when scene after scene occurs showing just how imbecilic The Avengers are. Especially in this day and age, when you have to sit back and agree with the government that the team that is supposed to be the heroes in the story should not have the power to do what they do, you have to admit the writer has done a horrible job in creating the story. It’s a shame too that such beautiful artwork for the time is being wasted on such a horribly written story. This is classic era homage on the pages and beautiful to look at. If the writer had just allowed the work to go through a proper editing stage at least once the story would be so much better. I cannot recommend this issue at all.

The Avengers #167

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The next issue in the Korvac saga brings us to Avengers Mansion where The Beast, Captain America, and the Scarlet Witch are reacting to an alarm. Turns out it is Nick Fury on the SHIELD space station, where he appears to be drunk. Maybe this is why David Hasselhoff decided to play him in that horrible television movie? Anyway, the call is made for the Avengers to Assemble. But Iron Man is late. Turns out Tony Stark is on the space station with Nick Fury. He excuses himself to head back to Earth…in order to get into his Iron Man gear and head BACK to the space station to handle the crisis with the team.

Why? There was no reason to do this but to kill a few panels of space in the comic. This is what blows my mind about Iron Man in the comics. There is absolutely no reason for him to keep his identity secret. None. For any friend or family member that would be in danger, he is soaking in so much money that he could pay for security for the people he loves ten fold. The fact that his identity was kept secret during this era when the Fantastic Four, another group that had tons of money but had their identities out there for all to know, just tells me that the folks at Marvel weren’t thinking correctly. The movies had it right. Someone as rich as Tony Stark would have an ego. He would LOVE to have the world know he is Iron Man. Hell, let’s say he doesn’t tell the world. Why would he not tell The Avengers his secret? It would make the situations that Tony faces as the leader at this time a little easier to go through when Captain America gets pissed at him. It just created unnecessary conflict. Problems for the sake of problems.

Turns out a big space station has appeared out of nowhere that SHIELD wants The Avengers to investigate. They board the ship only to find the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians inform the Avengers that Korvac has come back in time in an effort to kill the Guardians leader, Vance Astro (not the best name you can give a hero. Sounds like the name of a porn star.) There’s reminiscing and then we switch scenes and see Janet Van Dyne Pym, The Wasp, as she shows off her fall collection.

Yes, The Wasp, when she’s not a super hero, is a fashion designer. Now granted, this is part of her character from day one but it is still annoying as hell. But hey, I’m not going to like every character. Hank Pym is in the audience along with Nighthawk and a strange man who stares intently at one model and says nothing throughout.

Out of nowhere the fashion show is disrupted when a group of criminals with their leader barge in demanding everyone’s money. The leader? His name is The Porcupine. This comic came out in 1977 and they’re naming bad guys with names that would have been made fun of in the 40’s. What, does the guy have the proportional strength of a porcupine? Was he stung by a radioactive porcupine and now is pissed off at the world?

Characters like this are why people made fun of comics for years. While the character is never shown as much of a threat in this issue, it is annoying to see such a pathetic character being presented as anything resembling a threat. It was like watching the WWE in the 1990’s when they had characters like Mantaur, Doink the Clown, the Repo Man, or Irwin R. Shyster. These were characters that, while the wrestlers playing them were fine wrestlers, were never, ever going to be considered as any sort of real threat towards the champion or would ever be taken seriously as athletes. Why couldn’t they come up with something novel like having criminals that were just, you know, criminals? I know that’s a wild idea and all that but at least at this point in time it was still so insane an idea to use that they had to come up with a character called The Porcupine and try and make him appear as if he were a real threat.

The end of the issue was intriguing. An unknown character who earlier had been ogling a model, sets eyes on the model when all hell had broken loose. She’s entranced by him and they meet, embrace, and end up disappearing. This was a nice little way for the issue to end because while this issue ended up resolving, thankfully, it gave you enough intrigue to see what happens in the next issue. While I may end up disappointed, it was a nice way to end the issue.

The artwork was top notch apart from the clothing. I don’t know, I think that too often I have seen DC and Marvel during the ages try and present their characters in ways to make them appealing to people of that time. By the time the issue comes out, whatever fad the creators wished to bank on was probably over and close to forty years later now the characters just look plain stupid when they’re dressed like people of that time. Why they could not dress the characters in neutral clothing is beyond me. I mean, these comics are supposed to be timeless stories, why could they not be drawn as such?

Bottom Line:

This is not a good second issue. Despite my criticism I’m not going to go so far as to say the issue was bad but it simply doesn’t stand the test of time. One annoying part I forgot to mention was the stupid flashback at the beginning of the issue. Show, don’t tell is a common adage they give writers. The writers of this issue forgot that by having the Guardians tell the readers what happened when Thor teamed with them. Yeah, it could be argued that there are some readers who have not read other issues with characters they may not like so having a refresher on what happened is not a bad idea. While I agree with that, I do think there could have been a much better way of retelling the story. Even something as having The Avengers scan security tape of Thor’s adventure would have been better than just people talking.

So yeah, it’s not horrible but I cannot recommend reading this issue. It’s a part of the Krovac saga so if you want to read that story from start to finish you have no choice. This is just not the type of story that you read just for the hell of it. It’s like the Star Wars prequels. You watch them just to say you did and you move on.