Writers: Jim Shooter, David Micheliene, Bill Mantlo
Artists: George Pérez, Sal Buscema, David Wenzel, Pablo Marcos, Klaus Janson, Ricardo Villamonte
Original issues: 167, 168, 170-177
This is one of the old, classic Avengers stories which I really enjoy. It was nine issues long so it took almost a year to publish it originally.
For starters, there’s the classic line-up which changes quite a bit during the long story with older Avengers coming back, and allies showing up, too. The story starts with Iron Man as the leader and at odds with Captain America who doesn’t like Iron Man’s leadership style and thinks that Iron Man doesn’t devote enough time to the Avengers. At this point, nobody knew that Tony Stark is Iron Man so Cap thinks that Iron Man is just a mercenary.
Then there’s Vision and the Scarlet Witch as a married couple. The Beast is also on the team as well as Wonder Man who is very insecure about himself. Thor is the resident powerhouse. Yellowjacket and the Wasp also return as active members in the third issue. Later, Hercules, the Black Widow, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye return, too. That’s quite a lot of Avengers and yet, the story didn’t feel crowded for me, at least. Of course, various Avengers disappear for a while during the story.
Another classic element is the inclusion of allies. Right at the start, the Guardians of the Galaxy appear and the plot starts with their quest to protect the past of one of their own, young Vance Astrovik. At the same time, they are also protecting the future history by preventing the past from changing. Most of the time, they’re in the background, though.
A couple of other allies appear too: Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior, and Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers. Mar-Vell actually doesn’t get much screen time; he appears when the mysterious, cosmic villain does something. On the other hand, Ms. Marvel is right in the thick of battle and she challenges some of the sexist notions some of the Avengers have. She also talks about how she’s her own woman in a way that feels a bit dated now. Wonder Man is quite taken with her and he marvels (heh) at the way that Ms. Marvel goes into a fist fight. Of course, her powers demand that. Wonder Man’s attitude seems quite dated, too, because surely super powers themselves should be non-gendered.
The plot centers on a mysterious and very powerful enemy, who calls himself Michael, who works behind the scenes and actively prevents the Avengers from detecting him. Most of the time, the Avengers deal with either their own problems or with fall-out from Michael’s plotting. In the first issue the main team investigates a giant space ship which has appeared on Earth’s orbit while Janet, Hank, and Nighthawk deal with attackers during Janet’s fashion show. Later they deal with such dire villains as Henry Peter Gyrich, Jocasta, Ultron himself, and Tyrak. However, just so the readers don’t forget about the main threat we get a scene with the big baddie almost every issue.
Another classic element is Avengers’ squabble with the US government. The government, in the person of Gyrich, decides that the Avengers aren’t guarding their secrets well enough and revoke their security clearance so that the super heroes can’t use anymore their Quinjets, communicators, or their contacts with the SHIELD which makes their work a lot harder. It also leads to hilarious scenes of the heroes running around streets and ordinary people wanting to either offer them a job or just gawking at them. At one point Iron Man even commandeers a bus!
The Avengers have a few mysteries to solve before they can finally confront the big baddie. However, the ending is ambiguous and shows that the heroes might have not known everything they should have about the situation.
This is a very enjoyable old fashioned Avengers action. Pretty much my only complaint is that it’s sexist and it appears that the almost omnipotent Michael chose his “mate” purely for looks because in later issues, after choosing his mate and making her powerful too, he get to really know her personality. That seemed a bit strange. And the fact that the main baddies are in shorts and t-shirts.