Avengers 181 – Reviews Of Old Comics

So with Captain America: Civil War in theaters, I wanted to tie an Avengers review into it. Combine that with the guilt of running four consecutive DC Reviews, and it’s time to review an issue of something by Marvel. Fans of the Indy titles should stick around for next time, because I haven’t tackled one of those in months. If you have a suggestion, just contact me and I’ll see what I can work in.

Avengers_Vol_1_181_BAvengers 181

March 1979

Writer: David Michelinie
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Gene Day
Colorist: Francoise Mouly

Synopsis:

Wonder Man and the Beast are taking in a matinee of The Adventures of Robin Hood. On their way back to Avengers Mansion they talk about the role super-heroes play in society, with Wonder Man saying he might not be cut out for the life of a super-hero. When they arrive at Avengers Mansion the new security system attacks them with mechanical coils, but the duo make short work of them, to the chagrin of Scott Lang, Tony Stark and Henry Peter Gyrich. Gyrich is satisfied that the system will keep out normal intruders. However, Iron Man is due for an important Avengers meeting, and Tony Stark goes to contact him (wink, nudge, nudge). Outside a strange old man gets out of a cab.

Gyrich calls the meeting to order. There are simply too many Avengers for the government to keep track of, so the team will have to be set at seven so the Avengers can keep their security clearance. Iron Man is hesitant at the government taking this heavy a hand in Avengers matters, but Captain America calms him down. Gyrich then proceeds to tell who has made the cut, which causes an outburst from Iron Man that Gyrich simply stands his ground on.

The members are Iron Man as chairman, the Vision, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, the Beast, the Wasp and the Falcon. Hawkeye erupts at the inclusion of someone not even an Avenger on the team. Gyrich explains that the Avengers have to adhere to all government regulations, including equal opportunities for minorities, and since Black Panther cannot serve on the team, the Falcon is the next choice for the Security Council. Quicksilver argues as well, just before suddenly falling unconscious, and apparently the old man that arrived outside the mansion has something to do with it. Thor changes to his secret identity of Dr. Don Blake to treat Quicksilver and shoos the Avengers out of the medical lab until his diagnosis is in.

Iron Man sees off the Guardians of the Galaxy, returning to their own century with the help of the Collector’s machinery. Beast and Vision wish Wonder Man well as he packs to leave Avengers Mansion. Wasp sees off her husband Yellowjacket, who is happy to return to his lab full-time. Hawkeye is frustrated that he has to leave. The others to leave almost right away are Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, Black Widow and Hercules, and Moondragon, albeit off panel, without saying any good-byes. Scarlet Witch then drops unconscious just as her brother did, and Don Blake explains the results of Quicksilver’s diagnosis. Everything in their bodies has stopped, but no deterioration normally associated with death has started. While the twin Avengers aren’t technically dead, he cannot say that they are alive either.

In a run-down boarding house the old man that arrived in the cab goes into his room and unpacks his bag, talking to his “little ones,” expressing that he will not allow them to run away again, for they are his children, and he removes two birdcages with living wooden dolls that are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch!

03Review:

The story is straight-forward with only one real sub-plot working through this story. While it is simple, it works to the detriment and the benefit of the story. It is easy to follow, but it doesn’t allow for some more nuanced issues to be addressed. It is not explained until nearly 2/3 of the way through why all of these heroes are gathered together in Avengers Mansion to start with, and then it is only referred to that the Guardians of the Galaxy helped against “the Enemy.” It is assumed that everyone reading has read the few issues leading up to this. There are also several heroes that have much better things to be doing than being an Avenger.

The reasoning for the limiting of the Avengers roster is quite logical, and Gyrich is written as the perfect foil for government regulation. However, the handling of it is from a very conservative direction, when viewing through modern eyes. I do not claim to know David Michelinie’s political affiliation. My analysis is based on a few observations.

  1. The government bureaucracy is the villain in this story, and it cannot be reasoned with.
  2. Whenever the government is there, it is in charge.
  3. Affirmative Action is forced upon the team as if it is a bad thing.
  4. The heroes in the majority argue that they are the minority.

Again, I could be reading too much into this, but from a modern perspective, that is how it is perceived.

Now the art by John Byrne is some of his best from the era, and every detail is there in both interiors and exteriors. The characters all seem unique with individual personalities. His Quicksilver remains one of my favorite versions of the character. The group shot inside almost perfectly mirrors the cover, but is entirely unique, and possibly a better drawing. I like the look of this period of the Avengers and it’s amazing that at this same time, Byrne was also doing Uncanny X-Men.

Avengers 181

Artistically, my biggest problem with the artwork is the color. The reds, greens and blues are almost identical, and in shots where Iron Man, Wonder-Man, Vision, and/or Scarlet Witch are together, it gets a bit monotonous. There is a shot of the Wasp that is very well colored, despite the limitations of printing technology at the time.

Overall, it’s a good issue with minor flaws. However, it does come across as very dated and rooted in the 1970s.

FINAL RATING: 8.0 (out of a possible 10)