Collects Avengers vol.1 issues 181-187
Publisher: Marvel
Publication date: 2009

I have the Finnish edition issues (published in 1991) instead of this trade.

This collection has the issues where Wanda and Pietro’s origins first started to be really weird. However, it wasn’t directly said that their father is Magneto.

“On the matter of heroes!” starts with the Beast and Wonder Man watching Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood movie in the theater. They philosophize about humanity’s need for heroes for a while and then return to the Mansion where they are assaulted… by the Mansion’s new security system. The team’s government liaison, Gyrich, has many demands and he isn’t shy about them. One of them is the security system. Secondly, the Avengers have too many members, especially with the visiting Guardians of the Galaxy present, which raises a lot of security issues. The Security Council has decided the core team members which are: Iron Man, Cap, Vision, the Scarlet Witch, the Beast, the Wasp… and the Falcon, who isn’t even a member yet! The Council has also decided that the Avengers have to have one Black member. Hawkeye is furious, of course, but there’s nothing he can do. In the middle of the enraged shouting match, Quicksilver falls down unconscious. Gyrich forces the other Avengers to leave. Then the Scarlet Witch falls down unconscious as well, and doctor Blake says that the siblings are not properly alive anymore. The epilogue reveals an old man who has wooden dolls carved to look like Pietro and Wanda. The dolls are in cages.

This is a major shake up of the membership, when the Council gets rid of powerhouses like Captain Marvel and Thor (idiotically). Of course, the core group tends to change rapidly, anyway, despite the council’s efforts. It’s also easy to see that this issue served as an inspiration to Kurt Busiek’s reboot with a whole issue devoted to membership voting and also the whole racism accusation originated here. It was also interesting to see how differently the general public reacted to the Beast. When he’s in the X-Men, people tend to scream and run away from his blue self but now that he’s an Avengers, random women call him cute.

The next issue, “Honor thy Father!”, shows more about Wanda and Pietro’s past. It starts with the Avengers researching the twin’s condition. Wasp and the Beast accuse Gyrich of sending the cosmic Avengers away so that they can’t help. Jocasta steps forward and says that she can see an energy residue from the twins to deeper Manhattan. The Avengers run to track it, leaving Wonder Man to hold up the fort. Meanwhile, Django Maximoff is feeding the miniature puppets of Wanda and Pietro, and insiting that he is their father. The old man tells them about his, and theirs, past. When he notices the Avengers’ coming, he sends large puppets against them. The team finished them off pretty easily but then they are attacked by old foes, and even a friend. They realize that the old man can make illusions and manage to rescue the twins.

Maximoff essentially kidnapped the twins instead of, say, coming in to talk with them. Apparently, this is a-okay since the twins end up liking him so much that they even change their last names… One example of the really strange families and familial relationships in the MU.

The core team changes already in the next issue, “The redoubtable return of Crusher Creel!”. Wanda and Pietro have decided to take time off with old Maximoff and together they travel to Transia by ship. Ms. Marvel takes Wanda’s place in the team and Cap goes out to recruit the Falcon who isn’t happy about being the token black guy but agrees to join. Meanwhile, Clint runs to the Absorbing Man in his civilian clothes and calls for the Avengers. Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, and the Beast arrive but Creed pretty much wipes the floor with them.

“Death on the Hudson!” continues with the fight.

Creed takes a young woman with her (he says “Even I get lonely.”) and puts her into considerable danger. But in the end he just lets her go saying that he doesn’t want her to get hurt. So, I guess this means that he’s just a kidnapper and wanna-be-rapist, not a murderer, and therefore a decent man? I thought this was pretty strange. Ms. Marvel shows herself to be impulsive woman who trusts her strength to win. She’s quite different from the more timid Wanda and Janet, and of course has the powers for a fist fight.

Gyrich is shown to be an antagonist to the team, if not an outright villain. He’s very suspicious and paranoid, even towards our heroes, and even considers Jocasta a potential security threat. He’s also very loud and aggressive about it; just waving his credentials around instead of explaining anything. This makes him a great source of conflict. Busiek’s security liaison, Freeman, seems to be a deliberate counterpoint.

With “the Yesterday Quest!” the focus returns on Wanda and Pietro. They and old Maximoff have reached Transia which seems oddly familiar to the twins. Quicksilver broods over his childhood memories which are somewhat close to what old Maximoff told them earlier, but he can’t remember the faces of his foster parents. At the same time, a sorcerer called Mordred wakes up the Scarlet Witch. He seems very powerful and insists that only Wanda follow him to Mount Wundagore. Once there, Mordred attacks Wanda and is going to use her as a sacrifice. In the morning Pietro searches for her but is injured and cared by Bova, a cow turned into a human.

Meanwhile back in New York, Hawkeye leaves bitterly and the Vision is calling himself, and inadvertently Jocasta, just a machine.

In “Nights of Wundagore!” Bova tells Pietro how a woman called Magda is really their mother and the Maximoffs were their foster parents. Meanwhile, Mordred is making Wanda a sacrifice for his master, Ch’thon. Wanda fights back but in the end, she’s defeated. Pietro calls the Avengers for help. Gyrich almost manages to stop the Avengers for going abroad but Cap calls to the president who authorizes the voyage. However, Gyrich insists that the Vision will stay and mind the phone, which the android does, very reluctantly.

In “The Call of the Mountain Thing!” Mordred and the possessed Wanda fight the Avengers (Cap, the Beast, Wonder Man, Wasp and Ms. Marvel) and Quicksilver. Ch’thon also monologues about his/her history. Ch’thon says that when Wanda was born she had great science based powers and Ch’thon gave her the magic powers. I found this very interesting because it should mean that Wanda could have another power, science based one. All writers seem to focus on her probability altering hex powers and magic.

Great stuff! The collection has a great Avengers feel: small character moments between fights and plots the span several issues. Of course, the fights are the main focus in every issue except the first one. Despite Gyrich’s attempt to keep just to the seven core members (and why does it have to be seven?), there are old members coming and going. Unfortunately, we didn’t really see the Falcon do much even though he’s a new member. I’m not really familiar with him and these issues didn’t introduce him at all beyond the small chat with Cap.

Gyrich is, of course, a great source of conflict but even he’s just a messenger boy for the Security Council which could be a lot of trouble if they wanted to. However, in the newer issues the Avengers can select their own members so I guess they’ve managed to snap the the Council’s leash.

This is a great collection if you’re interested in Wanda and Pietro’s origins. Byrne’s art is great, of course.

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