Jul 31, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 887: Avengers v.1 #189, November 1979

https://www.comics.org/issue/33843/

I'm going to attempt another long-form reading over the next little while. We'll see how it goes, I suppose. One of my favourite runs of comics, and one that got me into the Marvel U in a big way, was the end of Roger Stern's run on The Avengers. The siege of Avengers Mansion by the Masters of Evil still ranks as one of my favourite superhero stories, full of drama and epic battles, and told in such a way that there really did seem to be high stakes involved. The aftermath of that story still resonates in the Marvel U, or did for a long while. So I've decided, since I'm pretty sure I have all of Mr. Stern's Avengers material, to read through as much of it as I can before getting (inevitably) cranky.

And we start here, about 40 issues prior to his taking over as regular writer. The regular run starts with issue #227, but Stern is given co-plotting credit on today's comic and the two that follow it. I'd initially thought it was because he was in the process of setting up stories for his own run, but a three and a half year lead time seems like a lot. Plus, he's the editor on the title at this point. More likely is that the story over the next few issues was the result of a conversation or collaboration between Stern, writer Steven Grant, and, according to the little credits box, Marc Gruenwald and David Michelinie. I suppose in an office-style environment like what the Marvel Bullpen claimed to be like at the time, such collaborations were more than possible.

What we're getting is the aftermath of a large battle, from Avengers Annual #9, and a restructuring of the team. This is also at the point that there was tight governmental oversight on the Avengers, an aspect of the story that continues to plague the team for at least the next decade or so. At least contemporary versions of the team have had S.H.I.E.L.D. for oversight, no less bureaucratic, but at least a little more understanding of the minutiae of superhero life than Peter Henry Gyrich.

The big part of today's comic is that Hawkeye, now a reserve member of the team, gets a job as a security guard, and faces off against Deathbird, a Shi'ar warrior.

There's one other interesting bit: at one point Hank "Yellowjacket" Pym gets a phone call from the Wasp, who is stranded in Las Vegas, in the aftermath of the end of the Omega saga, which we looked at a few days back. If there's one thing I can really thank this era of The Avengers for, it's for introducing me to the shared Marvel U. While such titles as Secret Wars or West Coast Avengers might have demonstrated the breadth of the universe, it was Avengers that was always best, like X-Men, at demonstrating the interpersonal interactions that show that it's not just a shared physical space, but a shared social space that the heroes inhabit.

So we'll make our way for a few days through comics that Stern collaborated on, or that were one-off writing assignments, until we get to the beginning of his run proper near the end of the week. To be continued.

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