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Avengers #137: Review

Jul 1975
Steve Englehart, George Tuska

Story Name:

We do seek out new Avengers

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers #137 Review by (March 23, 2014)
The human-looking mutant Beast became a scientist in Amazing Adventures #11-17 but mutated to a grey-furred form in AA#11. He didn't change to dark blue fur until AA#15, so Iron Man shouldn't have recognised him so easily from AA#12, and also shouldn't necessarily have known he was an X-Man. Since then he cropped up in Hulk #161, and was captured along with other mutants by the Secret Empire in CA#174-175, with a cameo later in CA#183 during Cap's Nomad period where he's back at the X-School. (In the CA issues he's mistakenly shown back with grey fur.) Hank McCoy's new attitude to his furry state also includes a change in his speech patterns. The big words and convoluted sentences of old are replaced by equally-convoluted humour. Beast recognises Stranger from X-Men #11 and #18, where he took Magneto away as a specimen both times. Thor met him on his laboratory world in Th#178. But we'll see next issue that this isn't really the Stranger, but Toad in disguise. Having ended the Celestial Madonna storyline, Steve Englehart is setting things up for his next major sequence. Mantis may have gone, but Kang and Immortus will be back. And at the same time the Avengers will be menaced by the Serpent Crown and the Squadron Supreme.

Ant-Man and Wasp also haven't been in this comic since #100. Since then they've appeared in Hulk #154, and were stuck at ant-size in their own strip in Marvel Feature #4-10. Then they helped Captain Marvel against the Lunatic Legion in CM#35&37. More recently Henry Pym returned to his alternate super-hero ID Yellowjacket as a temporary member of the Defenders in Giant-Size Def#4 and Def#23-25, relying more on his weapons and less on size-changing because of the after-effects of MFeat#4-10. With the return of Ant-Man (sort of) and Wasp and the exit (again) of Hawkeye, Englehart has recreated the old Avengers team from #3 (between Hulk leaving and Cap joining). (I can discount Beast and Moondragon because the Index lists them for many issues as Supporting Cast - they're considered trainees, not full members.) However this team won't last beyond this issue. Hawkeye will get access to Doom's time machine but won't make it back to the 12th century. We'll find out why in #142.

Black Widow was briefly an official Avengers in #111-112, mainly to take a break from her troubled relationship with Daredevil in the title she was currently sharing with him. She has continued to chafe at the role of junior partner. The Index puts her cameo here just after DD#123 (which is also correct publication-date-wise) where they were involved with her old outfit SHIELD. Despite saying here that she wants to stay with DD, BW will have a solo guest app in MTIO#10 and then leave him in DD#124 before going on to form the Champions. I have the same problem here that I had in #111:- Iron Man asks Natasha about her love life with Daredevil, but it is Matt Murdoch she's supposed to be in love with and the Avengers don't know he's Daredevil. Black Panther is of course still working his way through Panther's Rage in Jungle Action. He will return to the Avengers in #159-165, but only as a guest star. Quicksilver will remain officially outside the Avengers for a long time, but he'll get caught up in the Korvac/Michael saga. Hercules has been a long term supporting character in Thor comic since we last saw him here in #100. But he too will soon leave Thor's mag to join the Champions.

Since he dropped in as Nomad in #131 Steve Rogers tidied up some Serpent Squad loose ends in CA#182, and did indeed immediately get involved with Red Skull in #183-186. But that affair continued in #187-191 as Cap had to deal with Falcon whom RS had left brainwashed. Iron Man makes a cameo as Avengers' spokesman in CA#191, which the Index and MCP place here between the team advertising for recruits and the meeting with the Beast. They also place the call to Cap within that same issue, which makes sense given the period Falcon would have spent awaiting trial in that issue. (In publication terms Cap here would have been referring to the Red Skull story which had just ended the previous month, and didn't mention the Falcon coda which would be starting *this* month.) Cap *will* rejoin the team in #141, after Falcon's trial is over.

In Captain Marvel #39 (also by Steve Englehart) Uatu the Watcher is put on trial by his fellow Watchers for interfering (many times) in the affairs of Earth. It mentions that 1 of his acts was to create the 'star' that announced the coming of the Celestial Madonna. CM#39 was published the same month as this issue, but the caption doesn't claim that it is happening at the same time. Agatha Harkness leaves Avengers Mansion here and will eventually return to being a regular supporting character in Fantastic Four from FF#181. If the Avengers really were contacting old members in the reverse order of when they left, then Captain America should have been 1st (leaving after Giant-Size Av#1. The sequence after that should have been Black Panther (#126), Black Widow (#112), Quicksilver (#104), Wasp and Yellowjacket (#75), and Hercules (#52).

The Official Index says that there is a gap between the return to the Mansion and the rest of the issue starting with the meeting Thor calls. A gap in which to fit lots of adventures of Iron Man and Thor along with some of the other Avengers. 1st there is an opening scene in IM#74 in which Shellhead leaves Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Vision at the Avengers Mansion after they return for GSAv#4. For this reason the Index says that SW&V don't leave for honeymoon direct from Vietnam as suggested by the fact they're not seen in the opening scenes of this issue. Instead it assumes they are off-panel. The Index then has nested issues, as it places further IM appearances within IM#74. (The Marvel Chronology Project includes IM's workout in his version of the X-Men's Danger Room and the arrest of the Titanic Three in Vietnam [after their appearance in GSAv#4] as parts of IM#74 that happen early.) Within IM#74 the Golden Avenger features in Marvel Team-Up #29, and then joins Thor for some of the issues in Thor #229-234. Hawkeye and Vision are also in 1 of those issues, which means he's still not on honeymoon. Then Thor and IM split to have separate adventures, without guesting from any other Avengers. Thor is in Marvel Two-In-One #9 and then #235-236 of his own mag. Meanwhile IM does his own #78-79 (out of sequence) and then the rest of #74 leading to #75, (#76 is a reprint), #77, #80-81 and the initial part of #82, followed by Iron Fist #1. (These examples of splitting issues into 2 parts are required to combine titles into a single chronology, because most issues claim to follow on directly from the previous 1.) Anyway, all this activity means that the meeting can't happen the morning after the return from Vietnam, as a caption claims. But Moondragon is still hanging around.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #137 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Avengers return from Viet Nam in their quinjet and Moondragon's spaceship, after the marriages of Mantis & the elder Cotati and Scarlet Witch & Vision in Giant-Size #4. They find that the mini-star heralding the Celestial Madonna (Mantis) is still hovering over Avengers Mansion, and they figure they'll never know how it got there. (But a footnote directs the reader to "The trial of the Watcher" in Captain Marvel #39.)

Jarvis greets them, still worried about the disappearance of Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkness in #135. The sight of Miss Harkness makes him relieved that Wanda must be OK too. Agatha says that Wanda has learned all of witchcraft she can teach. She won't be a great witch but she will be very good.

Later Thor calls a meeting. With Swordsman dead, Mantis gone off into space, and Vision and Wanda off on honeymoon, that just leaves himself, Iron Man and Hawkeye as the Avengers. He recommends that they seek new members. Iron Man proposes Moondragon, who returned with them from the last stages of the Celestial Madonna saga. She accepts, but warns them that she is nothing like Mantis despite their similar upbringing.

Thor then suggests that, rather look for more new people, they ask previous members if they'd like a return engagement. On the last out, 1st in basis Iron Man contacts Black Panther who declines because his kingdom Wakanda needs him. Quicksilver also says "No", preferring to stay in Attilan with his Inhuman wife Crystal than to come back to the Avengers and watch his sister Wanda cavorting with the android Vision. Especially now he's just been told they've got married.

Hawkeye isn't happy with the idea of recruiting new members. (Always insecure about his relatively weak powers, he probably thinks he'll have more chance to shine in a smaller team.) But if they have to get bigger he leaps to call Captain America. Back in #131 Cap (as Nomad) had promised to return when he'd dealt with the Serpent Squad. But Steve Rogers (now back as Cap) says that the Red Skull had attacked straight after that, so he has to delay the reunion.

Continuing their trek back through old Avengers, Iron Man talks to Black Widow asking if she's still with her partner and lover Daredevil. Widow says their relationship is even more confused than it was, but she's not ready to call it a day yet. Thor also gets turned down by his pal Hercules.

Then Thor turns to the last duo on their list, and Janet Pym (née Van Dyne) answers. She says that hubby Hank recently spent time with the Defenders. And now Wasp has a hankering for adventuring again, so they'll both rejoin their old team.

We take a little break now with the honeymooning Scarlet Witch and Vision, where we get to see the red-skinned Vision in swimming trunks, and a distant glimpse of Wanda in a bikini. They are on Rurutu where the islanders have granted them exclusive use of a beach, to make up for trying to sacrifice the Witch to their volcano in #116.

Back at the Mansion they can't think of any more old guard to try (except Hulk, who nobody wants to risk). Wasp and Yellowjacket arrive. They explain that Henry Pym doesn't want to risk size-changing too much these days, since he discovered (after playing Ant-Man in Captain Marvel #35&37) that he was still suffering from the microbe that trapped him at ant-size in Marvel Feature #4-10.

Hawkeye has been bad-mouthing the Defenders, who he temporarily joined in the Avengers/Defenders War. (He's probably over-compensating again after rejoining the Avengers.)  He and the also-temporary-Defender YJ get into a heated argument over it, and Hank uses the opportunity to demonstrate his new Cellular Disruptor Gun - the kind of thing he'll be using instead of his size power.

YJ says he'd rather be home doing research, but Jan wanted to rejoin the team so he's along for the ride. He suggests they advertise for new members. This annoys Hawkeye some more, and he storms off saying there's 1 former Avenger they've forgotten about. He's going to use Dr Doom's time machine (as they did in Annual #2) to go fetch Black Knight from the 12th Century (left there in Def#11).

The Avengers put out a television appeal for new members, which we saw on page 1.

The scene now shifts to the deserted Yankee Stadium where the team intend to hold auditions. Only 1 applicant turns up - the blue-furred Beast disguised as Edward G Robinson. Iron Man recognises him from Amazing Adventures #12 (reprinted last issue), and wonders why he wants to swap the X-Men for the Avengers.

Beast explains how he left the X-Men after their original series finished to pursue a career in science. But in Amazing Adventures #11 he evolved himself into a furry form as a disguise to fight some villains, but then found he couldn't change back. He's since become reconciled to his new look - he's openly Hank McCoy the Beast.

Just then a mystery voice challenges the Avengers, and reveals that they are surrounded by previously-invisible hovering mines, densely filling the stadium to a height of 50 yards - 1 in 5 of them is armed with 'unearthly power'. They have 6 minutes to reach a disarmament lever before all the live mines detonate. Beast and Thor both recognise the voice as that of the Stranger.

Thor tries to batter his way through the mines by hurling himself in a straight line through the air with his hammer Mjolnir. But the live mines prove dangerous even to an immortal god, and the 2nd such lays him low.

Iron Man tries to fly a dodging path. But Thor has set the mines drifting and eventually he gets downed by 1 too.

Wasp tries next, hoping her small size will enable her to dodge them better. She tells Yellowjacket he can't do it because he mustn't shrink. But she's out of practice flying, and she hits a live mine too. YJ starts to rush in full-size to rescue his wife, but Moondragon stops him with her mind.

Beast has been watching these attempts, and thinks he can succeed where the Avengers failed. He uses his enhanced speed, agility and eyesight to leap, dodge and dive his way through the minefield. And reaches the off-switch in time.

The mines now fly away, and Iron Man and Thor recover. But Henry Pym finds Jan deeply unconscious with a very weak pulse. The Stranger reveals himself, and Moondragon engages him in a duel of minds. Iron Man expects her to lose, but suddenly Stranger flees threatening to return.


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> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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George Tuska
Vince Colletta
Phil Rachelson
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Charlotte Jetter.
Editor: Len Wein.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Beast
Beast

(Hank McCoy)
Black Panther
Black Panther

(T'Challa)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Daredevil
Daredevil

(Matt Murdock)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Defenders, Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis), Libra, Moondragon, Toad.