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Avengers #181: Review

Mar 1979
David Michelinie, John Byrne

Story Name:

On the matter of heroes

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #181 Review by (December 3, 2014)
Captain Marvel will have a cameo in FF An#14 before returning to the last issue (#4) of his run in Marvel Spotlight (1979). His next app after that will be another cameo in the aforementioned MTIO#69. Black Panther heads back to his own 1st series for the story of Windeagle in the last 2 issues #14-15 (against Klaw), which will be concluded in Marvel Premiere #51-53 (against the Klan). Black Widow and Hercules go their separate ways (after their Champions-based association). BW to Marvel Team-Up #82-85 (in a tale involving Nick Fury and Shang-Chi as well as Spider-Man). Herc to a story in Marvel Treasury Edition #24.

The Guardians will remain in the present day for a little while longer. Vance Astro isn't with the GotG here and in #177, he's up in their giant spaceship Drydock. While the others investigate the Collector's ship, Ms Marvel will join Vance against the Faceless One in Drydock in her #23. They'll still be preparing to leave when Starhawk joins Moondragon in the above-mentioned MTIO#61-63. They'll have completed repairing Drydock and be ready to leave when the whole team appear in MTIO#69 to try to stop Astro creating an alternate reality by telling his teen self about his future. They'll be back in the future for an Annuals crossover starting with Fantastic Four An#24. I don't know what to make of an intervening cameo in the present day far away in space in Sensational She-Hulk #6. The Vance Astro story in MsM#23 will be Carol Danvers' only app between here and her return to join the team in #183.

Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Yellowjacket and Jocasta will stay for next issue to help solve the Pietro/Wanda problem, while Dr Blake looks after the patients. Jocasta will continue to hang around, appearing in most issues up to #211. Moondragon leaves without fanfare, and won't return to these pages until that same issue. In the meantime she'll feature in Defenders #76-78, finishing off the cancelled Omega the Unknown series, and Marvel Two-In-One #61-63 with Starhawk against Her, a feminine version of Warlock. Several others of the this cast will also return for #211, another lineup change:- Black Panther, Black Widow, Hercules and Yellowjacket, plus Wonder Man who will already be on the team, and Hawkeye and Thor who will have been popping in and out.

Why is everyone from #177 at the meeting? They aren't all current or even prospective Avengers, especially eg the Guardians of the Galaxy. It can't just be to annoy Henry Gyrich. The best explanation would be that they were all just hanging around since #177, which would only work if this issue was supposed to follow on directly, and #178-180 were fill-ins that were supposed to fit elsewhere. Even so characters like Captain Marvel would likely have gone their own way. As it is we're supposed to believe they all turned up hoping to be Avengers. In the end Gyrich doesn't make much of a change to the lineup. Beast, Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wasp. Despite Hawkeye's protestations the proposed Falcon will really just replace Yellowjacket, not him, and so the team count will be the same as it was before the Collector/Korvac Saga started dragging extra people in. Wonder Man was always a guest, and the Official Index has considered Thor that way too in his apps since #151. I consider the OI inconsistent to rank Hawkeye as a rejoined member as of #172.

This issue starts a short run of stable creators. Roger Stern takes the editorship back. David Michelinie takes over scripting and John Byrne is on pencils. George Perez nips back to pencil a cover, and will continue as a semi-regular. This is the 1st appearance of Scott Lang. He will become the 2nd Ant-Man in Marvel Premiere #47-48, but will continue to also make appearances as a Stark employee. Tony Stark muses about problems he's been having with SHIELD, which will refer to Iron Man #117-119, the last issue published the previous month. But unfortunately the Official Index places this issue between IM#116 and #117, before that story where SHIELD try to make Stark return to weapons manufacture. Thor acts as if the Avengers don't know Dr Blake, but he's been called in for medical emergencies many times.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #181 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Beast and Wonder Man watch an old Errol Flynn movie. Beast likens the escapism of such films to the public's interest in superheroes. And in that spirit he gives a free acrobatic display on the way home. But Simon Williams is still wondering whether superheroing is the life for him.

But when they get to Avengers Mansion the house treats them as intruders and attacks them with metal tentacles. Wondie breaks some of them, and Beast ties others in knots. Fearing the worst Simon breaks the door down. Only to find Stark Industries employee Scott Lang installing a new security system. And Henry Peter Gyrich and Tony Stark none too happy about it being trashed.

Gyrich has called a full Avengers meeting, and Stark exits to 'fetch' Iron Man.

Meanwhile the old man we saw in #166 and #173 arrives at the Mansion by taxi.

The whole roster from #177 is in the meeting room, which Gyrich understandably says is too many. As part of the conditions for getting their Avengers Priority privileges back they must restrict their number to 7 members, chosen by the government (ie him). They can draft in temporary members for special purposes, but they'll need special clearance.

HPG says Iron Man will remain as chairman. Beast, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Wasp will also carry over from the existing team. And the 7th member will be Falcon.

Hawkeye is incensed that he's been passed over for someone who's never been an Avenger. Iron Man's not happy about having a newbie foisted on him either. Gyrich says it's to satisfy government policy on minority representation - and Black Panther didn't want the job.

Cap tries to calm a storm of protest by vouching for Falcon's qualities. Quicksilver is typically blustering, but his rant is cut short when he suddenly collapses. (We see a quick shot of the mysterious old man delving into his bag.)

Thor takes the body to the medlab, and says he knows a doctor who can help, which of course is his alter ego Don Blake. Gyrich complains that Blake hasn't been security vetted. The doctor won't commit himself to a diagnosis until he's got the results of some tests.

Meanwhile the Guardians of the Galaxy (Charlie-27, Martinex, Nikki, Starhawk and Yondu) prepare to leave. They intend to use the Collector's time machine to get them back to their future. Captain Marvel and Ms Marvel fly off too, and Black Widow and Hercules leave with Black Panther in his flying craft.

Inside the Mansion, Wonder Man says goodbye to his friend Beast and his 'brother' Vision. He intends to try his hand at acting. Yellowjacket wasn't as keen as his wife Wasp on returning to Avenging in #151, so now he can devote more time to his scientific research. Wanda tries to console Hawkeye. Gyrich gives these 3 24 hours to vacate the premises.

But then Wanda suddenly collapses like her brother Pietro. Dr Blake confirms that she is in the same mysterious state. He says their hearts have stopped beating and their whole metabolism has stopped functioning, but their bodies aren't deteriorating. Somehow they're neither alive nor dead.

The old man has returned to his rented room in the Bowery. In his bag he has 2 cages holding puppet images of Pietro and Wanda - puppets that are alive and that he calls his children.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

John Byrne
Gene Day
Francoise Mouly
George Perez (Cover Penciler)
Terry Austin (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Elaine Heinl.
Editor: Roger Stern.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Scott Lang)

(Hank McCoy)
Black Panther
Black Panther

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel


(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Jocasta Pym)
Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel

(Carol Danvers)

(Pietro Maximoff)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Django Maximoff.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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