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Avengers #101: Review

Jul 1972
Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler

Story Name:

Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #101 Review by (February 14, 2012)
Cap and Hawkeye say they've never met Don Blake. I was surprised at that, but I figure they may be right. Thor on the other hand claims to know the Watcher, but I don't think they've ever met, so maybe he just means he knows *of* him. The Watcher debuted in Fantastic Four #13 where he was discovered living in the Blue Area of the Moon. He is a member of a race of Watchers dedicated to observing the universe, but never interfering (a vow he obviously breaks here, not for the 1st time). His name Uatu won't be revealed until Captain Marvel #39. Watcher's description of alternative timelines here is somewhat different from the standard version Marvel seems to use. Not only does reality branch into the future producing alternate universes, but the current moment can also have multiple alternate pasts. In my Comments on Avengers Forever #3 I mentioned this idea, but only in the context of history being resilient, resistant to small changes. Ie a small group of "nearby" timelines can converge on a single present. I think the idea used here is from Ellison, and represents something bigger than that.

Harlan Ellison gets a plotter credit here because this issue is based on a plot he devised some years before but never used. Harlan previously wrote the Avengers/Hulk crossover in #88 and Hulk#140. Rich Buckler now starts a short run as penciller. This is his first regular gig for Marvel, after 1 story in Where Monsters Dwell #15. He has been pencilling for DC and others for just over a year (with a few scattered entries before that). His 5 issues #101-104,106 will match the length of his earlier run on Rose & Thorn in Lois Lane #117-121, but here he gets to do the whole issue and covers too. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor rejoined the Avengers for the Kree/Skrull War, and stayed to help find Hawkeye (ex-Goliath), which led into the conflict with Ares in #98-100, climaxing in the 100th issue that featured every living Avenger (ie not including Wonder Man who's supposedly dead). Now they're continuing to stay on as active members, without making a big deal about it. This comic came out a long time before computers played serious games against chess masters. It mentions Bobby Fischer not being able to take part. Fischer didn't play against a computer until 1977. The Deep Thought & Deep Blue matches against Garry Kasparov didn't happen until 1989-97.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #101 Synopsis by Rob Johnson

The Avengers are supervising a chess match, financed by Tony Stark, between grandmaster Sporadnik and computer Nimrod. Sporadnik collapses during the match due to a rare Amazonian poison on one of his pawns, and is taken to hospital. Thor follows, changing to Dr Don Blake to treat the patient. But even knowing the cause he can't bring Sporadnik out of a coma. He suggests only the man responsible may be able to solve the problem. Meanwhile Sporadnik's condition is causing an international incident.

That night Leonard Tippit emerges from a hiding place within the computer, to be met by Vision hiding wraith-like within other machinery. Vision had suspected Nimrod had been tampered with when it invited the pawn move with a suspect move of its own. Tippit starts to glow and they fight. Vision tries his trick of partially solidifying his arm within Tippit's chest, but it is Vision who collapses unconscious.

Tippit hadn't wanted to hurt the Vision, who had sensed no evil in him. He now holds back when faced with his boyhood hero Captain America, giving him time to simply knock Tippit out. Then the rest of the Avengers turn up, having also suspected the computer was involved. But the unconscious Tippit fades through the floor. And the Avengers are hurled outside of time and space.

Tippit is actually asleep in his bed. But in his sleep he remembers how the Watcher came to him 2 nights before to tell him that only he could prevent a nuclear war that would happen in all possible futures. But to do so he must kill 5 innocent people who would otherwise indirectly cause the war. To this end Watcher gives Tippit the power to become a being of pure mental energy.

The Avengers have also seen this exchange in a vision, and now return to normal spacetime. They also know the identities of Tippit's intended victims and decide to save them, because the death of innocents is too high a price to pay even to save the world.

There follows a typical split into teams. Thor goes to protect a young boy in Naples. Captain America and Hawkeye head for a Masai woman. Vision takes a young Japanese composer. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch try to help an old woman growing roses. They all fail to stop Tippit zapping his victims. But it has all taken its toll on his power, and Wanda manages to make him revert to his powerless state.

They take his unconscious body back to where Iron Man has built a Mentality Retrogressor. This stops Tippit from rebuilding his power. Then the Watcher appears and tells them that Tippit himself was the unwitting danger to Earth's futures. The 5 innocents were just a ruse to get Tippit to expand his energy, and to get the Avengers involved to capture him. Now that he is depowered the Watcher can take him away without risking causing the threatened catastrophe. The 5 innocents will recover.

The Avengers now say that Tippit himself is an innocent, because he wasn't going to cause the future war deliberately. They can't let Watcher take him. But Tippit asks them to let him go, for the sake of the Earth. They promise to remember him as the man who saved the Earth.


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Rich Buckler
Dan Adkins
?
Rich Buckler (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Plot: .

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Watcher
Watcher

(Uatu)