The Avengers #172

Avengers_Vol_1_172

First off, to fail to address a major terrorist incident in the world today and just plow on without comment would be silly and wrong. Helplessness floods through you like pouring ink into a glass of water when you see images of violence on this scale. Who knows at this point what caused some nut jobs in Paris, France to pull off a killing spree like they did today but the survivors sure do have my sympathy. The perfect response on my part is to give the review. I think back to 9/13/2001, two days after the worst images I have ever seen. Every channel had the news. You couldn’t escape the sadness. Then UPN, the precursor to the CW, decided they were going to continue with the latest episode of WWE’s Smackdown television show. That was the first night I smiled since 9/11. I was able to momentarily forget what I just witnessed and was able to have a little fun. I am under no illusions that anyone in France is thinking about checking out my blog tonight. I do this more for myself than anything really. But life goes on, even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. While we’re here, it’s best to make the most of it.

So we start off with Hawkeye arriving at the Avenger’s Mansion like he was just coming home from a hard day’s work at the local factory. It’s a real ‘Honey, I’m home!’ moment that seems so out of place in a superhero comic. Right after he arrives, the NSA adviser who had previously warned The Avengers to focus more on security shows up and notices the front door to the mansion open because apparently while Hawkeye is a great shot with a bow and arrow, he can’t close a fucking door. The adviser gets rightfully pissed at seeing a building that has so much classified material and equipment in it just left open for anyone to stroll into and retrieve that he goes inside to have a word with the team.

Next up we head back to the final scene from the last issue where Beast tells everyone that Jocasta and Captain America have disappeared. From there, a nun appears and tells them to leave and they will clean up the mess. They do. They were fools to do so. Like any comic book villain, Ultron has found many creative ways over the years to come back to haunt The Avengers. Yet at the urging of a nun, they decide leaving the metallic remains of a machine that was hell bent on destroying the world was a ok. It’s scenes like this which make me agree more and more with the NSA adviser that The Avengers should not have any sort of official backing from the government. They’re making mistakes left and right that, if something similar happened in real life with a real military or spy organization, the country would be up in arms over. I’m all for characters doing something out of left field only if the author in question has a reason for them to do so. That is not happening in this story.

Once they leave they head back to the mansion where they meet up with Hawkeye. After greeting them, Hawkeye casually mentions that he had captured an intruder. After describing him, the team realizes who it is and rushes to free him. Once freed, Gyrich informs them that they no longer have government backing and lose access to all the fun toys and secret files they previously had access to. The writer at this point wants us to have sympathy for the team but frankly they deserved it. They deserved to be put in prison for being so haphazard with important material and just plain being bad at their jobs at this point. Maybe it’s the 39 year old in me coming out. The comics had a different audience at this time but that is still no excuse for bad writing.

Once Gyrich leaves, two things happen. One, Quicksilver’s girlfriend contacts The Avengers to let them know he disappeared and two, Jarvis appears suddenly to tell them that Tyrak is loose and wrecking havoc on New York. Despite the restrictions placed upon them by Gyrich, the writer promptly ignores that and sends the team out, apart from Iron Man, to fight Tyrak. Iron Man stays behind to continue a search for their missing comrades. Why put restrictions on the team if they’re immediately going to ignore them? It reminds me of a dog I used to own that would constantly get out of the yard. We would do everything we could to get him to stay in the damn yard because the last thing we wanted was him crapping in the house but the moment we opened the door, he bolted outside, slid under the fence, and ran off to get some tail. There is no point in placing restrictions on a character if those restrictions are promptly ignored. A good writer, not a great one but a good one, would be a little creative and find a way to get the heroes to solve the problem without relying on their usual powers that why do that when you think your readers have the attention span of a fish?

From there the team fights Tyrak for many, many, MANY pages. The Vision is able to stop him by applying heat to Tyrak’s body. Tyrak is a deep ocean creature so I can accept that he would not be able to handle extreme heat. Once defeated, The Avengers realize that those restrictions they ignored somehow magically came back which prevents them from getting Tyrak into custody before he dies. Their solution? Wonder Man throws him back into the water. Yes, a villain that just tried to kill them and others is treated like a fish that is too small to keep when you’re on a fishing trip. When three of the heroes on hand have the ability of flight yet they decide it’s best to just let the bad guy who tried to kill them go, you realize that the Mighty Marvel Bullpen didn’t take too long when it came to editing the story properly. At the end of the scene though, The Vision promptly disappears and Wanda, The Scarlet Witch, freaks out. Interesting development.

From there you get a short interlude with The Wasp calling Black Panther on the phone enlisting his support. Then you have Yellow Jacket and The Wasp commiserate with Iron Man about not being able to find their missing friends. They talk about The Beast and Thor being off on their own adventures which editor notes point out are detailed in other comics. From there we get a frame FINALLY bringing us back into The Korvac Saga officially. We see our missing heroes encased in glass tubes while a figure, who’s hand is the only part we can see, spies on Iron Man, Yellow Jacket, and The Wasp. He tells himself that Iron Man should already know who did all this and that they will eventually meet. Nice hook to end the story.

Bottom Line:

The writing is becoming intolerable. As a writer myself, I do find it helpful to read stuff like this because you get a firm reminder of why it’s important to keep track of all the little details in a story. Characters have to act in a logical fashion, whether they’re protagonist or antagonist. They also have to have obstacles they have to overcome. If they just do whatever the hell they want or if they simply ignore the obstacles placed in front of them, there is no tension in the story. The concept for this story is not bad at all. They’re just executing it horribly.

One bright mark once again has been the artwork which has been getting better each issue. It’s timelessness is quite refreshing to see especially since this was the start of an era in comics where they did everything they could to visually tag the stories in the era the story was written which can make an otherwise enjoyable story not so exciting to read thirty years later. They also did a great job this issue with addressing the elephant in the room when it comes to how women are treated in comics. Wonder Man tries to be the valiant knight in shining armor for Ms. Marvel but she proceeds to save his ass while kicking her fair share. It was great to see an actual woman in the story, not a caricature of one.

Overall, this is an easily forgettable issue. For every good thing this comic accomplishes, it has ten errors which make reading the story quite unbearable.

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