Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Celestial Madonna - Avengers 135

Avengers 135 Mantis Moondragon
Avengers #135 (1974)
Gotta love the floating heads, they look very concerned 

Doug: This issue’s cover was a nice bounce-back from my complaints of the previous few issues. However, Tuska’s interiors were a major step down from the fine pencils we’d been treated to in the first eight installments of this tale. Tuska got better as the book went on, but it was still such a departure.

Sharon: See, for me, I had no quibble with Tuska’s work here—and I am not a major fan of his. He’s always seemed serviceable to me, an able storyteller but not a superstar like Adams or Buscema (John). For me Tuska’s art is on a par with the Cockrum work; and I like Tuska’s faces here more than I liked Cockrum’s.

A couple of panels really stand out for me; one is with the young Moondragon (three quarter facial close-up); she looks very childlike and open, not an easy task for a comic book artist (even Neal Adams drew kids with mini-adult faces!). The other panel I really liked is a page later, when the Vision is observing Ultron standing over the Torch’s body. The Vision’s expression, the set of his head, his stance…I really got a sense of the emotions that the Vision must have been experiencing in his role of "captive audience."

I also thought Tuska’s art was effective in the sequence when the newly created Vision still has his Torch memories…very good job.

Karen: The thing that immediately jumped out at me was the “floating Romita heads” on the right hand side of the cover! It seemed like every other book out in the mid 70s had some sort of Romita ‘correction’, whether on the cover or inside. Jim Starlin, who appears to have drawn this cover, was a frequent victim.

Sharon: I liked the beautifully angled sharpness of Mantis’ face and the athletic rendering of Vision’s body.

Doug: Retcon, or merely filling in the gaps? Steve Englehart, in my opinion, does a very good job filling between the panels (so to speak) of many Silver Age stories. While I’ve never been too keen on the whole Ultron Oedipus complex deal with Hank Pym, and then the wanting a son aspect of his relationship to the Vision, I did feel like Englehart handled Ultron well through all of his machinations (no pun intended) with the Thinker, Horton, and the Vision. Of note was the scene when the Vision first sprung to life still possessing the Torch’s personality and memories. That was very cool, and for me enhanced the origin that Roy Thomas had begun several years earlier. If I have a beef with the conclusion to the Vision’s origin, it was when Ultron obtained the device that would make the Vision as he wanted – a recording device that was labeled “Wonder Man’s Brain Patterns”. If that wasn’t a flashback to the 1966 Batman TV show!!

Karen: I don’t consider this a retcon at all. We never actually saw how Ultron created the Vision, so this story does indeed fill in the gaps. I’ve actually always liked Ultron’s Oedipal complex; it gave him more flavor, and made every fight with the team so much more personal.

Sharon: The scene you mention, Doug, about the Vision retaining the Torch’s memories—was very affecting. It was terrifying a minute later when Ultron simply wiped those memories away.

Englehart is at it again, when he comments that the Vision is a Virgo—Yeah, we get it, Steve…nudge nudge, wink wink.

(Actually, Englehart did his homework here; the Virgo astrological sign spans mid August-mid September, so the “birthday” reference is in synch with the fact that the Vision made his debut in Avengers #57, cover dated October 1968 but on sale a couple of months earlier.)

Doug: Moondragon’s origin, while I cared less simply because I don’t like her, was also well-done.

Karen: The one thing I do like about Moondragon is her origin! I enjoy seeing Englehart weave more ‘cosmic’ threads into this tale. At this point, at least, she doesn’t seem quite so annoying as she would later be.

Sharon: I had no exposure to Moondragon before this storyline. Again, I wondered—why is this person here? What is her connection to the Avengers? I felt like Englehart was tossing in everything but the proverbial kitchen sink.

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