The Avengers #169

Avengers_Vol_1_169

A little side mission brings us to the next issue of The Avengers. Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Panther are killing time at Avenger’s Mansion when a crazy guy in a green metal suit arrives looking to get The Avengers to kill him. Because he explicitly says this, The Avengers incapacitate him and knock him unconscious. Turns out that the man is Jason Beere. We learn that like Tony Stark, he is an industrialist. He’s learned two things. One, his family is leaving him. Two, that he only has a few months to live. So he does what any sane person would do and sets up four neutron bombs around the world that are connected to his heartbeat. When his heart stops, the world stops with it. So the three Avengers decide to travel the world in hopes of finding the bombs.

Captain America heads to South America. He quickly discovers the location of the bomb but is attacked by locals. During the battle one of them attempts to shoot a poison dart at Captain America but he forces the dart to hit the local instead. Captain America decides to say the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in comics when he says to himself that he is aware of these bird worshiping locals and he knows that they have a cure for whatever poison they tried to shoot him with. Now I wouldn’t have had a problem with this if there were a little foreshadowing in the story. If they had shown the three going over the files of the locations they were going and Captain America reading about the tribe. But that scene doesn’t happen for one and two, Captain America seems completely surprised that these people arrived out of nowhere. Yes, I can understand that Captain America is a soldier and understands tactics so I could see him studying up before going somewhere. The way it’s presented is horrible. One moment he has no idea who these people are, the next he is an expert and knows the types of weapons they use.

Next up, Black Panther finds himself in the Arctic Circle. A man dressed in leather…finds himself in the coldest place on Earth. Maybe Iron Man was hitting the sauce too hard when he sent people out on their missions. Anyway, Black Panther finds the bomb easy but is attacked by a polar bear. Not only a polar bear, but a big ass polar bear looking to kill him some Black Panther. Black Panther as presented in the comics is a reasonable fighter against wild animals. That I can believe. What I can’t believe is a man dressed in leather in the middle of the Arctic falling through the ice into freezing cold waters with a gigantic wild animal would not die instantly. Not only does he live, he escapes without even getting the sniffles.

Iron Man is last up. He finds himself in Russia where the Soviets think he is there to attack him. They spring a trap on him which he escapes but from there uses diplomacy to tell them what is going on and get their support. Nothing wrong with that mind you but tell me, do you think another country would take the word of a famous super soldier of their enemy that he’s simply there to pick up a bomb that could destroy their civilization? And for the sake of argument, if the Russians were as agreeable as they are presented this issue in regards to allowing Iron Man to do his thing and take away the neutron bomb, why couldn’t he just radio ahead and tell them what was going on? You can’t paint people as your enemy one minute and as totally agreeable nice guys the next. What would have been more appropriate would be an appearance from Black Widow. At this time she was a defector from the Soviet Union but she would still have connections with the right people there and could have given the Soviets a heads up as to what was going on. Granted, there would be no reason to include that because there is no conflict with that scenario but the conflict presented in this story ends up being for no reason anyway so you end up not caring.

They bring anything back only to discover that what they found was a tape recorder telling them that the bomb was in Jason Beere all along. So they freeze him with cryogenics…and do nothing else. Maybe I’m a heartless dick but my next step would have been putting him in a manless rocket and shooting him into the sun. The Avengers essentially freeze the guy, leave him in the freezer, and just wash their hands of the whole affair.

Now having a little break in the Korvac affair was not a bad idea but man, when you get to the end of this issue you just feel stupid. It’s not a bad premise mind you, they just execute it so poorly that any story elements that are actually entertaining lose their value the further you read. Not that they had to have forty pages of back story to send us on the mission but something as simple as a throw away line about each character doing some research on the locations they are going would have been nice. Yes, they mention Jason Beere left some notes but that doesn’t give them info on the locals they are going. It’s especially bad when Captain America, who is supposed to be a noted soldier, just haphazardly goes into battle without appearing to know where he’s at until giving a throwaway line at the end.

Bottom Line:

I don’t mind having a little breather from the Korvac saga but this was the equivalent of sprinting one hundred yards while holding your breath than immediately jumping into a lake. Again, the premise is fine. It is a basic premise that works well in action adventure stories. Take the movie Speed. The story is so simplistic that it almost doesn’t even qualify as a story but a mere premise. A madman plants a bomb on a bus and it’s up to the good guys to defuse the bomb and catch the guy. But the way they execute it in the movie is ingenious. Each challenge the protagonists faces is presented in as logical a way as that world presents it. This story just goes to sabotage itself from the start with silly mistakes that could have easily been fixed. I shake my head at this issue because the premise was good but it was just bad.

The artwork is common for work of this era and that’s not a bad thing. While it’s not classic work by any means, it does well to show the action on the page and showcase the emotions of the characters involved. But it doesn’t matter if you had the Picasso of comic book artists drawing this piece, when you have a story that is as bad as this one, any good the art gives to the story is flushed away. What a waste. This is not a part of the Korvac saga and should just be avoided.

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