Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Marvel's Avengers: Expansion Period / Ultimate Vision, Roger Stern

2. Expansion: (242-254) 1984
* Spotlight on: Third great Stern Avenger. Captain America (always knows the right thing to say, studies dynamics of team)
Vision and Scarlet Witch (Expansion Period) West Coast Avenger cameos
Enter: Hercules (Epic battles during Vision’s chairperson period; gradually explores character)
Also features: Captain Marvel, Starfox

Major spoilers in next blog!!!!

The Vision is the central character of this year’s stories; his paralysis is resolved with the help of Starfox. He links the android to ISAAC, the self-aware computer that runs the day-to-day maintenance of his homeworld, the Saturnian moon Titan. Their conversations, however, convince the Vision to use a forbidden strategy—and it’s still not too late to read about it yourself and enjoy the surprise, saved for the end of the column in due course.

First, he surprises everyone by using Avengers Mansion computers to create projections of himself in the middle of an awkward party! He uses his new ability to help fight crime, as well, until his body resumes mobility. Yet, this very possibility, and its suggestion of a life outside his artificial body, affects him deeply. He plays everything so close to the vest that even Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, has no clue…only an awareness that he now displays humor and a glib, relaxed humanity…almost as though he’s trying TOO hard now to schmooze.

In the midst of this, the team vanishes from the face of the Earth---a story told in the massive sales success of the year, MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS. Fortunately, the team’s only gone a month, whereupon we pick up at the other end of the circumstances created during their other-worldly sojourn across the universe.

Meanwhile, the Vision presents himself, rashly, as the face of the Avengers, in an effort to gain the public’s trust and put them at ease that there are still active Avengers on guard. His synthezoid nature, however, continues to unsettle some, even with his new-found warmth, and he realizes he may have over-played this hand. He parlays his role during the vacuum of authority into a new chairmanship for himself, replacing the Wasp. He takes the unusual step of meeting with the President of the United States, now irritating Wanda with his secrecy. Unfortunately, their home in New Jersey is burned to the ground by anti-mutant bigots, dissolving the attempt at normalcy they’d established before, and Vision continues getting wrapped in his plans.

One of those plans will involve the chartering of a second Avengers team in Los Angeles, to utilize the many potential members available and strategically prepare for surprises. Iron Man (really James Rhodes), Tigra, Wonder Man, and new Hawkeye spouse, ex-S.H.I.E.L.D . agent Barbara Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird, all join Hawkeye’s new team. WEST COAST AVENGERS limited series chronicles their adventures, leading into Steve Engelhart's ongoing series.

Fans of ROM, SPACEKNIGHT from the 80’s would recognize the alien invader enemies of AVENGERS #244-5, the shape-changing Dire Wraiths. The Vision attempts to corner the market, as it were, to make the Avengers the central front on Earth’s war with its hidden foes, but S.H.I.E.L.D., instead, is given the job. The hi-tech counter espionage team was infiltrated previously, as depicted in early issues of ROM; this never became very central to Mantlo’s story arcs.

It's during one of the excellent downtime scenes, in #246, Monica reveals her identity to her parents.

Their interaction remains wonderfully grounded and believable throughout Mr. Stern's run.

One last NYC adventure takes place, centered around off-duty Avengers attending a party thrown by Sersi of the long-lived, god-like Eternals, who is a socialite, not a super-hero.

From hi-tech to high society, Sersi’s party brought together the Wasp (a dedicated socialite and fashionista), her companion for the evening, Eros/Starfox (on the prowl for more lively Earth culture), and She-Hulk, now serving most of the time with the Fantastic Four as Ben Grimm’s fill-in after SECRET WARS (whose events were still playing out month to month, even while we re-joined the heroes and villains on the other side of their universe-spanning trip).

Sersi herself is at least a couple of thousand years old---Jack Kirby hinted that she was the sorceress who hosted Ulysses’ ship-wrecked band in The Odyssey . Her hidden race, the Eternals, demands her reluctant presence on Olympus, where they gather to make a pivotal decision about their life on Earth. This leads to her kidnapping, with Starfox and the Wasp also transported. Here, in addition to seeing the Eternals unite into the collective consciousness known as the Uni-Mind, we discover along with Starfox that his people on Titan are the descendents of Eternals of Earth!

After a heavily expository issue, the battle is joined with rouge half-breed Inhuman Maelstrom, who wishes to steal from their collective energy and thoughts for his own plans, which endangers all Eternals present. He has a bizarre relationship with the nebulous Death-Urge, who destroys Maelstrom’s bodies as an escape measure; we discover his continued plans rely on pre-grown clones.

That’s where we’ll pick up tomorrow.

He reviews the Wackos here: http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/west_coast_avengers_1.shtml
Myebook - D'n'A Comics #1 As promised: the
online version of DNA #1!!!Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook

2. Expansion: (242-254)

Assistant Editors Month! Secret Wars! The Casket of Ancient Winters Saga! This is sort of the pinnacle year of Jim Shooter's reign as EiC. Great quality stories, major "events", and some pretty tightly coordinated continuity (although us geeks can still find some mistakes). Lots of great runs continue this year, including Claremont/Romita's X-Men, Stern's Avengers, Byrne's Fantastic Four, Simonson's Thor... giants walk the Earth during this Mavel rennaisance. Also some lesser known but still great runs by Denny O'Neil on Iron Man and Daredevil (including David Mazzucchelli on art), the beginning of Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest's Power Man & Iron Fist run, and the hidden gem: Peter Gillis' Defenders with great art by the Perlin/DeMulder team. And Louise Simonson starts up a new series about pre-teen children called Power Pack, with great art by newcomer June Brigman

Beyond the mega-events listed above, we also have the first appearance of Spider-Man's symbiote costume, She-Hulk joining the Fantastic Four while the Thing adventures on the Secret Wars Battleplanet, the marriage of Black Bolt and Medusa, Storm losing her powers, and the beginning of a big Wraith War storyline in ROM.

There's an abundence of mini-series, oddly not always by top creators, like Bill Mantlo's Jack of Hearts. But in the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini by Claremont, Kitty Pryde becomes Shadowcat. And Roger Stern introduces the West Coast Avengers. And in a poorly written Prince Namor mini, the Sub-Mariner is removed from the throne of Atlantis.
***************find more at SuperMegaMonkey's review site!

* Spotlight on: Third great Stern Avenger. Captain America (always knows the right thing to say, studies dynamics of team)
Vision and Scarlet Witch (Expansion Period) West Coast Avenger cameos
Hercules (Epic battles during Vision’s chairperson period; gradually explores character)

3. Savage Land / Skrulls, Space / Secret Wars II Period) 1985
Fourth great Stern Avenger, Starfox (NY period, expansion, space; Eternals, Nebula)
Great Captain Marvel story

1 comment:

  1. Hey, i just wanted to say thanks for leaving me some comments and i see you've put some links back to my site on your blog here as well. I've been enjoying going through your posts; it's a nice combination of reviews of cool stuff and original writing and music. Best of luck.