Bronze Age Beginnings

Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Avengers #98

Cover date: April 1972

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artist: Barry Smith

Inker: Sal Buscema

Following the events of the Kree-Skull War, it’s time for the Avengers to take stock and ask some important questions... like, where is Clint (Goliath) Barton?

Last seen upon an exploding space craft, the gathered heroes are uncertain whether their missing teammate survived; so Thor announces he will return to Asgard (to peer into some mystic mirrors looking for answers), Iron Man reckons Tony Stark (wink wink) has some other resources that’ll help in their search, and Captain America puts on the discover that a pro-war rally – led by a Mr. Tallon – is taking place in the city.

As acting Chairman, the Vision sends Cap, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (with Rick Jones tagging along) to investigate Mr. Tallon and his Warhawks, but all are soon swayed to the pro-war sentiment by the mysterious music played by Mr. Tallon’s two robed associates.

Meanwhile, Thor has returned to Avengers Mansion, unable to enter Asgard (this tale apparently takes place before, or perhaps after, the ‘legendary’ events of Thor #198). The Vision tries to contact Iron Man, but he too has fallen under the spell of Mr. Tallon; so it is left to the android and the god (both immune to the other-worldly music) to make things right.

The Vision sends Thor to the rally, while he goes to confront Iron Man. After a titanic tussle, Iron Man is freed from the spell when another of the pan pipers is killed in the clash. The two then join Thor, who recognises Mr. Tallon as Ares, the Greek god of war.

As Thor’s mighty hammer is caught in one of the Scarlet Witch’s hex spheres, an explosive arrow flies towards it, disabling the hex and allowing the hammer to return to Thor. The Vision makes quick work of the two remaining pipers, revealing them to be Satyrs, and the crowd (and the other Avengers) are returned to normal. The mysterious archer then makes himself known. It’s Clint Barton, in a hideous new outfit, and again calling himself Hawkeye. Putting off any questions to how he survived being stranded in space, Hawkeye announces he has a companion – an amnesiac Hercules!
This was a strong return to form for Roy Thomas after the mangled climax to the Kree-Skrull War, and he is ably abetted by an ever improving Barry Smith. Smith still has some problems with faces (the eyes are invariably too close together), but his storytelling is effective, clear, and dynamic.

Shame about that new outfit for Hawkeye though; what an eyesore!

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