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Avengers #239: Review

Jan 1984
Roger Stern, Al Milgrom

Story Name:

Late Night of the Super-Stars

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #239 Review by (January 27, 2023)
Comments: This was Assistant Editors' Month for Marvel with the second-in-commands taking the opportunity to put a different spin on the titles; Mike Carlin was the editor for AVENGERS. Hawkeye and Mockingbird were married at the end of his 1983 miniseries. Fabian Stankowicz previously appeared in issues #217 and 221 as the villain Mechano-Marauder; eventually he would become part of the Avengers support staff, making several appearances in CAPTAIN AMERICA—and his name would be spelled Stankiewicz by the Marvel Database. LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, the host/comic’s second talk show, ran on the NBC network from 1982-1993, after which Letterman decamped for the CBS network; the show would continue with Conan O’Brien and other hosts. The Green Room is the place where talk show guests wait for their turn to appear. And yes, Letterman advertised a giant doorknob in one episode. Oh and the cover has the infamous Go-Go Checks at the top, a feature of mid-1960s DC Comics with a variation on the DC seal while the box in the upper left corner has the Avengers—but the backs of their heads.

Review: It worked once with Spider-Man and it comes off even better with the Avengers. I’m speaking of MARVEL TEAM-UP #73, which teams Spidey with the Not Ready for Prime Time Players on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE as a villain invades the show and finds more resistance than he expected. The issue was a classic primarily for its timeliness: SNL was in its early days, terminally hip, with a snarky edge unseen on TV before. But Spidey’s tale has a pared down plot and the writer has a little trouble finding things for seven guest stars to do, even including a mediocre Emily Litella sketch for comic book Gilda Radner. The Avengers issue deals with David Letterman who wasn’t quite a hot new comedian but was at perhaps the height of his fame. Having only one guest star (one-and-a-half with Paul Shaffer) allows him to have a bit more of a spotlight, including taking down the bad guy, while the superhero guest stars are a bit overshadowed but we’ve seen a lot of them over the years. Besides, it’s unlikely Black Panther (too dignified) and Black Widow (benefitting from anonymity) would have participated so it’s good that they only take part in the action scenes. Fabian Stankowicz is an adorably comic bad guy (soon to be a good guy) which keeps the tone funnier than if a serious baddie was made to look like a fool (see Silver Samurai in MTU #73). And there is still space left over for a precis of Hawkeye’s solo miniseries and an introduction of Mockingbird for those that missed that 80s gem. A better, well-rounded issue for its time. And a minor classic even if it lacks the oddball factor of Spidey on SNL.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #239 Synopsis by T Vernon
After a long absence, Hawkeye enters Avengers Mansion, carrying his bride Mockingbird over the threshold. They are greeted (and surprised) by a giant holographic head of the Vision who, seeing that Hawkeye can’t hear him properly, invites them down to the medical labs. There, Vision explains what has happened to him (recapping the last issue) and Hawkeye fills Vision in on his recent adventures (summarizing his self-titled 1983 miniseries). Vision also mentions the rest of the Avengers are on a mission to the West Coast and they will call if they need Hawkeye….

Vision takes a call from Wonder Man who explains that, without his approval, his agent has booked him for an appearance on David Letterman’s show and they want him to bring other Avengers. Vision offers to take care of that for him and contacts Black Panther, Beast, and Black Widow, all of whom agree to take part….

Elsewhere, Fabian Stankowicz quarrels with his disapproving father and learns the Avengers will be on Letterman the next day….

The next day, the Avengers assemble in the Green Room—Wonder Man, Black Panther, Beast, Black Widow, and Hawkeye—unaware that Fabian Stankowicz, disguised as a repairman, has been installing deadly machines in the building. He then changes into a suit and becomes one of the studio audience. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is planning to take the lead on the show as the only active Avenger; he won’t wear a hearing aid as it won’t be safe if anyone learns that an Avenger is hard of hearing so he has arranged for Mockingbird to get him a list of Dave’s planned questions….

The taping begins, Letterman and his bandleader Paul Shaffer open the show in their usual fashion and Dave introduces the Avengers. As Dave introduces them, Beast reveals that he will be quitting the Avengers to form the new Defenders; Dave asks Hawkeye’s opinion but Clint, who couldn’t hear him, answers the first question on the list, which is a non sequitur—and continues to respond to the wrong questions. Fabian, disappointed that none of the major Avengers are there, triggers his deadly machines which attack the heroes. They (and Mockingbird backstage) battle the mechanical menaces while Paul Shaffer leads the band playing “Wipeout,” convincing the audience that this is a staged stunt. In the midst of the chaos, Fabian mounts the stage and sits next to Dave, introducing himself and claiming credit for the madness. Protected by a force field against the heroes’ attacks, he explains all of his deadly gizmos and shows Dave the master control. Dave bonks him over the head with a giant doorknob and shuts down the murderous machinery. Wonder Man and Beast make some jokes. Fabian tries to escape and runs into Mockingbird….

Later, everyone relaxes at the Mansion, Jarvis serving drinks while they recount the adventure for Vision. Beast turns in his membership card and Wonder Man turns on the TV to see the big show—only to have it preempted for a news bulletin about a burning barge on the East River. They head out to deal with the disaster, with Beast taking back his membership card for one last jaunt and reminding Simon that with the time difference, they may get to see the show in California….

“Michael Carlin’s Page O’ Avengers Stuff!”

Writer: Mike Carlin. Art: Mike Carlin.

Parody of the typical letters column.

Al Milgrom
Joe Sinnott
Christie Scheele
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jim Novak.
Editor: Michael Carlin. Editor-in-chief: Jim Shooter.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Black Panther
Black Panther

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)

(Clint Barton)

(Edwin Jarvis)

Plus: Fabian Stankowicz.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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