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Avengers #141: Review

Nov 1975
Steve Englehart, George Perez

Story Name:

The phantom empire

Review & Comments

Rating:
4.5 stars

Avengers #141 Review by (March 25, 2014)
Moondragon describes herself as a god like Thor, which is stretching things a bit. Thor and Moondragon shouldn't have needed Immortus to take them through time. Thor can use Mjolnir to time-travel, as seen in Journey into Mystery #86, and Moondragon shows she can sense where to find Hawkeye. In fact in Thor #281-282 Immortus will concoct and elaborate ruse to remove the time-travel power from the hammer. Wasp and Yellowjacket will next appear in hospital in Black Goliath #1. They've recovered in #148 and Jan wants to rejoin the team but Hank is reluctant. They will appear briefly in the out-of-sequence #146, but they won't actually return to action until #150.

These 5 Squadron Supreme members were previously seen in #85-86, along with some others from their alternate reality. As in this issue the cover of #85 wrongly called them Squadron Sinister, a group of 4 bad guys created by Grandmaster for #69-71. (Supposedly he modelled them on 4 of the Squadron Supreme. The only 1 of the 4 Supreme's to match a Sinister who is missing here is Nighthawk. He will also be absent when the team guest in Thor#280. This may be to avoid confusion because the Sinister Nighthawk has since become a hero in Defenders. But it is also true that the Squadron's Nighthawk's next app, also in Defenders, will reveal that he retires and becomes President. Perhaps he has already entered politics, the only 1 of the Squad to be unhappy with the way their US is run (behind the scenes by the Serpent Crown). Golden Archer will continue with that name. Considering that the Squadron are supposed to be analogues of DC's JLA, the initials GA bring him 1 step closer to Green Arrow. Golden Archer is supposed to be Australian. He has a weird accent which makes him drop the H's off the beginning of words (except his name Hawkeye in #85) and add H's at the start of words that begin with a vowel

Patsy Walker began as a backup strip in Miss America in 1944 but soon graduated to her own title and others. She was 1 of the few Timely/Marvel characters to survive continuously through the 50's and into the 60's. (A distinction shared with Millie the Model and Kid Colt, 1 of whom will be in next issue.) Such a long comics lifetime doesn't square with the age Patsy seems now. The problem will be solved in Defenders #89 where we will learn that the old Patsy Walker stuff was just comics (gosh!). Her mother Dorothy wrote them, and based the characters (including their names - not wise) on Patsy and her friends. This explains why the comics' teen Patsy had a boyfriend named Buzz Baxter and the real Patsy married him. (But it still doesn't explain comics going back to the 40's. Really it just explains why 'real' Patsy is so different from the comics version.) In AA Patsy was married to Buzz who was an Air Force Captain sent to Brand to investigate the Beast sightings, because Brand had important military contracts. Now they're divorced and Baxter has become a Colonel, but is working as Brand Security Chief (curious?). In AA#15 Patsy discovered Beast's identity and covered for him. But the series finished before the relationship could be explored. Now Steve Englehart's brought that subplot with him to Avengers, and Patsy's come to blackmail Beast into letting her accompany him on a case, and more as we will learn in #144. Englehart used the motif of a mystery woman stalking Beast for several issues before being revealed back in AA too. That time it was his former girlfriend Vera Gantor.

This issue officially starts the Serpent Crown storyline which will last until #149, with a break for out-of-sequence #145&146. George Perez takes over as penciller from this issue through to #171, with a few brief interruptions. I believe this is the 1st time he worked with Marv Wolfman, who won't last as long as editor. But of course they will go on to create the New Teen Titans. The Official Index only places 1 issue of Captain America (#192) between the events of #137 and this issue. Here Cap decides not to involve his partner Falcon in the current investigation because of his personality change caused by Red Skull in CA#186. That subplot was over in CA#191 published this month, but Cap was still unsure of the partnership in CA#192. However they will be back together in CA#193. This issue mentions that Hugh Jones fell under the spell of the Serpent Crown in CA#180-181. A Crown from Squadron Supreme's reality will show up in the issues following this . And the 2 will get merged some time later in Marvel Two-In-One #66. CA#180-181 were the 1st mention of Roxxon Oil, although as usual it has been given a pre-history in later comics. Brand Corporation débuted in Beast's Amazing Adventures and then cropped up in Cap's Secret Empire storyline. #144 will say that Roxxon purchased Brand after that. (All these were Steve Englehart stories.)



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #141 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Beast is bouncing along merrily when he's attacked by a troop of costumed soldiers intent on killing him. But Captain America wades in to help him and soon they have the gang on the run.

Cap explains how he got involved. As Nomad in CA#181 he saved Hugh Jones, President of Roxxon Oil from an alliance of Warlord Krang and the Serpent Squad. In repayment in CA#185 Jones told Cap where to find Red Skull. Then in CA#186 troops like those that just attacked Beast also attacked Skull's men. Cap suspected a Roxxon connection so he staked their HQ out. Sure enough he saw some of the troops and followed them here.

At Avengers Mansion the mystery redhead is still waiting outside for Beast to return with the Avengers. Jarvis tells her they're at Mercy General Hospital with the ill Wasp and Yellowjacket.

Hank and Jan Pym are now in adjacent hospital beds while they recover from the last few issues. Scarlet Witch, Thor and Vision are there when Cap and Beast burst in. The mobile Avengers leave to figure out what to do about this new private army. And the mystery woman just misses them. Jan thinks she's familiar, and Hank says they met her at Reed and Sue Richards' wedding in Fantastic Four Annual #3.

Before Cap and the Avengers can pursue their quest they see a quinjet heading for Avengers Mansion. They too head there expecting to find Iron Man and Moondragon and hopefully Hawkeye returned from his time trip. But the returning duo think the archer is trapped in time, and that it's a trap laid by Kang the Conqueror. Moondragon suggests that she and the Thunder God go seek Hawkeye, while the rest handle Cap's case.

Just then the redhead catches up with them, and Beast recognises her as Patsy Baxter (from his series in Amazing Adventures). But she hotly declares she's back to being Patsy Walker again. Hank McCoy takes her to a private room so they can talk, while Moondragon and Thor head off.

After a heated argument Hank and Patsy rejoin the others, and Patsy announces that Beast is really Hank McCoy. But she is dismayed to find out that the team already know. Beast says his ID isn't a secret anymore, and so she can't blackmail him with it. But he admits he did make her a promise, and to keep it he asks Cap if she can tag along as an observer. Cap's not sure about this until Hank reminds him that he once took Rick Jones under his wing.

Thor is on the roof with Moondragon when he tells her he prefers not to mention his godhood in front of his teammates. But she dismisses his democratic tendency as she mentally calls out to Immortus. Who appears and agrees to transport them through time. Moondragon senses where and when to go to find Hawkeye.

But they are intercepted en route by Kang, whose force field this time is Mjolnir-proof. Immortus asks Kang if Giant-Size Av #2-4 weren't enough to prove that he's destined to fail against the Avengers. Kang refuses to accept the prophesy that he will grow to become the peace-loving Rama Tut. He's here for revenge over his failure to mate with the Celestial Madonna Mantis and become father to the Celestial Messiah.

But Thor manages to hold off Kang's assault and rebound his ray upon him. And the villain disappears back into the timestream. The trio continue on their quest.

Meanwhile the other Avengers are stealthily approaching Brand Corporation where Beast used to work as Hank McCoy. Cap had detected a connection between Roxxon and Brand, which the troop's attack on Beast (after he broke into the site last issue) seemed to confirm. Now they enter the complex fully expecting to be noticed. And Patsy refuses to stay outside.

In fact they are detected by Hugh Jones (another confirmation of a link with Roxxon) and head of security Col Buzz Baxter, Patsy's ex-husband. But instead of the costumed troopers, the Avengers find themselves confronted by 5 super-characters who pop out of nowhere. It's some members of the Squadron Supreme, superhero group from an alternate reality previously seen in #85-86.

4 of them are recognisable as Dr Spectrum, Hyperion, Lady Lark and Whizzer. The 5th looks like Golden Archer, an alias of Hawkeye from CA#179. This guy was called Hawkeye when we 1st met him in his home world, but wants to avoid confusion with this reality's Avenger. So confusingly he uses the costume and name of Hawkeye's temporary persona.

Golden Archer attacks Cap. Whizzer takes on Iron Man. Beast has to dodge Hyperion, while Dr Spectrum can't seem to affect Vision. Scarlet Witch squares off against Lady Lark and scores an early hit. But Patsy Walker leaps on the downed Lark preventing Wanda from following up. And giving Lady Lark time to emit a sound which takes the 2 other women down.

Vision is distracted by what's happened to his wife, and Dr Spectrum fells him. Whizzer succeeds against Iron Man, and Hyperion finally catches Beast ending that unequal match. Cap is holding his own against the Archer's arrows when Lady Lark's song takes him out too.

Hugh Jones congratulates Col Baxter on his security measures. And the Squadron take the unconscious Avengers to an escape-proof cell.

Meanwhile Immortus, Moondragon and Thor find themselves in the Wild West in 1873 facing someone we don't get to see this issue.


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George Perez
Vince Colletta
Janice Cohen
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski.
Editor: Marv Wolfman.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Beast
Beast

(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hawkeye
Hawkeye

(Clint Barton)
Hellcat
Hellcat

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Kang
Kang

(Kang the Conqueror)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Buzz Baxter, Dr. Spectrum (Squadron Supreme), Golden Archer, Hugh Jones, Hyperion (Squadron Supreme), Immortus, Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis), Lady Lark, Moondragon, Whizzer (Squadron Supreme).