Bronze Age Beginnings

Saturday, 16 August 2014

From the Savage Land to an Alternative Earth: Steve Englehart’s Avengers from 1972 to 1976..#105

The Scarlet Witch rarely got a chance to shine during the Silver Age, constantly overshadowed by her overbearing twin brother, Quicksilver. From the moment they joined The Avengers, they remained inseparable, so Roy Thomas writing Pietro out of the Avengers was both a relief, and an opportunity for Wanda to develope away from her brother’s overprotective custody.*

So it was appropriate that Steve Englehart opened his first issue with a full page splash of Wanda in full tilt.



Unknown to The Avengers, and his sister Wanda, Qucksilver had travelled to Australia to rescue her from the Sentinels, but had been severely wounded in battle. Just as he was losing consciousness, a monstrous form appeared and whisked him away. So it was little wonder that Wanda was in a particularly fretful mood, and ready to take her frustrations out on the seemingly unsympathetic Iron Man and Hawkeye.


This was a plot that Roy Thomas was developing for another title, Fantastic Four, but Englehart turned it to his advantage, using the Avengers’ search for Quicksilver as an excuse to further examine the fraught relationship between the Scarlet Witch and The Vision,
 
Wanda learns that some scientists have been kidnapped in Chile, and by some suspect reasoning, believes this may be linked to Pietro’s disappearance. So with little ado, The Avengers, with the newly returned Black Leopard, sorry, Panther, and house guest Sif, jet off to Tierra del Fuego.

The appearance of The Black Panther, Sif and assorted Asgardians, The Vision’s return from battling the Puppet Master in Marvel Team-Up #5, and passing mention that Captain America has left on a personal matter, is a perfect example of Englehart’s willingness to fully embrace continuity, reinforcing the concept of the Marvel Universe as a cohesive whole.

Blasting through a sealed up cave entrance, The Avengers soon find themselves in the Savage Land, home of Ka-Zar, and Magneto’s Mutates, the Beast-Brood.

After an initial skirmish with the Beast-Brood, the enlightened Hawkeye checks in with Wanda:


Yeah, Clint’s still got some ways to go in relating to the opposite sex.

Coming across an abandoned, and destroyed, complex, The Avengers find an unfamiliar costume that they presume belonged to The Angel, and the remaining members of the Beast-Brood.


Just as The Avengers defeat the Mutates, Lorelei appears and enchants the male members of The Avengers with her siren song. All, that is, except The Vision who summarily dismisses the threat. Unfortunately, the fact that he was unaffected by the siren song of Lorelei leaves The Vision decidedly downbeat.


Succinctly, Englehart used the wild goose chase in search of Quicksilver to introduce Lorelei, and her power over human men, to cast some doubt in the (computer) mind of The Vision as to whether he was truly able to love a human. And if not, what would he do to make it possible?

We’d soon find out, with the reappearance of The Grim Reaper in the next issue.

As a first issue goes, not bad. It was a little rough around the edges in places, but Englehart’s enthusiasm, and obvious love for the material, overcomes any problems with the plotting. It is Englehart’s attention to characterisation - and detail - though, that really stands out, and will become a defining feature of Engelhart’s Avengers as he becomes progressively more comfortable with the team.

*I always found the twins a tad suspect, yet never had a problem with Wanda falling in love with - and eventually marrying - the Vision. I suspect this had a lot to do with my nascent sexuality, and a need to identify with people and relationships that did not exactly fit the mold. That, or I was just weird.

4 comments:

  1. Grea post. Have you been listening to Graeme and Jeff discussing these issues on the Wait! What? podcast of late? It complements your thoughts nicely.

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  2. Awesome subject, looking forward to more on Steve's Avengers stint. I started back in the day with ish 114, and whaaaat an issue that was. Loved Swordsman and Mantis.

    Thanks for the great review.

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  3. Glad you enjoyed it David. You and I share the same first issue (mine was the first US Avengers comic, as up to then I'd been reading the UK black and white reprints). I can still see that cover, with Mantis and The Swordsman, on the spinner in the local newsagent as if it was yesterday. Sadly, though the newsagent is still there 40 years later, it no longer stocks comics. Of any type.
    Hoping to get the next instalment/review up next weekend.

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  4. Woohoo!!! Loved the review and glad to have you back. Shouldn't there be more pink in the picture of Wanda? I always thought she wore a pink understocking but then again, no? Sorry, got lost in Elton John for a second there.

    Anyways, glad to have you posting again.


    The Prowler (that guy, he used to be over there and now he's over here).

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