Saturday, May 24, 2008

Celestial Madonna - Avengers 133

Avengers 133 Steve Englehart
Avengers #133 (1974)
Avengers #133

Doug: I’m really unhappy with the use of Wanda by Englehart, dating back to when he was early in his tenure as series scribe. The whole witch-training deal with Agatha Harkness just creeps me out. Ol’ Agatha was always weird in the FF, but she is above and beyond the call to weird-duty here! I just think it’s a stretch to blend witchcraft or sorcery with probability-altering powers.

Karen: I always assumed that giving her true magical abilities was connected to the feminist movement, by empowering Wanda so she would no longer be seen as a weak member of the team. That didn’t bother me too much, as I’m always happy to see more powerful women characters. But she did come off as a bit of a bitch during this time.

Sharon: As I mentioned in an earlier segment, Wanda is not Marvel’s answer to Zatanna. Marvel already had characters who fit that bill, including Dr. Strange, the Enchantress and Agatha Harkness. Yet for some reason—perhaps the reason Karen puts forth--the powers that be felt compelled to jazz up Wanda’s powers and make her more magical and mystical. Big mistake in my opinion. She became just another semi-sorceress instead of a character with a unique power.

Karen: It’s unclear to me really why Englehart felt the need to have the Vision go on his journey alone. Surely the Avengers had more of a connection with him than Mantis!

Doug: Hawkeye’s line about grabbing the staff at the Playboy Club was priceless!

Sharon: The line was funny and in character, but did you catch Englehart’s caption (“The remainder of Hawkeye’s observation is lost—probably fortunately—for posterity—“)? Another example of Englehart’s picaresque approach to the narrative. This style made him stand out.

Doug: Immortus’ comment to himself on page 3, “Five lives have I known…” is causing me some math problems, in light of our discussion earlier as to whether or not Doom was a version of Kang and when that notion might have been dropped. Count: Kang, Rama-tut, Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, and ??? Doom? I guess that’s who it would have to be.

Karen: I think it would have to be Doom, particularly when you consider that the cover for GS Avengers 2 originally featured Kang, Rama Tut, AND Doom. The whole situation is entirely convoluted.

Sharon: I agree…it’s most likely a reference to Doom.

Doug: You two don’t like Mantis – I can tolerate her, but I just hate Moondragon!

Karen: Honestly, I don’t really like either of them! Particularly when Moondragon convinced Thor to quit the team.

Sharon: I felt Moondragon was shoehorned into this story; all of a sudden she shows up. Perhaps the two of you were familiar with her before this issue (she appeared in other comics around that time from what I gather), but she was a total stranger to me.

Doug: I liked the reference to the Vision’s battle with the Sentinels from Avengers #102. It made it seem like the writers/editors had really put some thought into the resolution of the Vision’s origin, and had been very patient about revealing it.
The biography of the Original Human Torch has never been told better than by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross in Marvels #0. Buscema and Staton do a nice job of drawing the Torch in more of a Golden Age-style in the flashbacks. He was not drawn this way in the previous issues where Buscema/Staton handled the art chores.
The origin of Mantis began with a nice backstory that to the best of my knowledge had not been told. I enjoyed the foundational information about two of Marvel’s best-known alien races, the Kree and the Skrulls.

Karen: The history of the Kree and Skrulls is worth putting up with more Mantis! I thought this was one of the best things Englehart added to the Marvel universe. Knowing the backstory of these eternal enemies makes their conflicts seem much more interesting. I like that the alien-looking Skrull were the more advanced of the races, and indeed, even gave the Kree the means to become their enemies. He also ties in the Watcher’s blue area on the moon. Rather nicely done.

Doug: The three-way conflict between the Skrulls, Kree, and the Cotati was interesting and made sense. I didn’t feel like there were any holes in the story nor were there any parts that seemed silly. Overall well-done, and evocative of some of DC’s science fiction tales of the Silver Age.

Sharon: I guess I am the odd person out here; I kept asking myself why all this exposition about the Kree, the Cotati, Moondragon, etc.

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