Monday, June 29, 2020

Marvel Immersion Project: The Avengers #92-97 and The Amazing Spider-Man #90

The Avengers definitely is not the series for me.  As discussed last week, there are simply too many characters and, not coincidentally, too many narrative threads running simultaneously.  Frankly, by the time I got to the end of The Kree/Skrull War series, the story had gotten so complicated and been spread so wide that I barely cared how it ended.  Good guys won.  That's all that matters, I guess.  I get the importance for future stories.  I get the solid topical efforts regarding war, nuclear weapons and the demonization of ethnic groups during times of crisis.  None of that was enough to save it for me.  I won't be returning to The Avengers anytime soon.

On the other hand...

I now return to The Amazing Spider-Man for two short but profoundly relevant stories, not just for Spidey and Marvel but for the entire American comic book industry.  Yes, I've been hinting about this one for a while and we're finally here.

Getting back to Spidey feels like I have come home.  While I would say both Silver Surfer and Black Bolt are more inherently interesting characters, Spider-Man's world is the most satisfying of Marvel's Silver Age and therefore generates the most consistently satisfying narratives.  I've been away for 52 issues and was keenly aware of how much I'd missed and how eagerly I want to go back and fill in my own gaps.  I will at some point.

Before we move on, a quick acknowledgement for the main writer of The Kree/Skrull War series.  I don't think he's the one to blame for the broader mess that is the Avengers.  Or maybe he is.  Regardless, he put in the hours and I shall give credit where it is due.

Roy Thomas - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia

Roy Thomas was born November 22, 1940 in Jackson, Missouri.  He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1961.  Probably his most important contribution to the industry was the introduction of Conan the Barbarian, previously a pulp magazine hero, to comic books.  He is the co-creator of many characters, including Wolverine, Luke Cage, Ultron and Red Sonja.  He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 201l.

My Recent Reads

The Avengers #92
Originally Published September 10, 1971
Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sal Buscema
  • A guilty by suspicion story as H.W. Craddock accuses the Avengers, and particularly Captain Marvel, of befriending the invading Kree.
  • Col. Fury draws a parallel with the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II.
  • Jarvis, the Avengers' butler, is featured.
Edwin Jarvis - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
  • Joe Cocker reference!

  • The Big Three (Iron Man, Captain America and Thor), disgraced by the accusations, disband the Avengers on the final page.

The Avengers #93
November 10, 1971
Artist: Neal Adams
  • Hank Pym, now appearing as Ant-Man, journeys through Vision's android body to find what ails him.
Henry Pym (Earth-20051) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
  • Crosby, Stills and Nash are the names of Pym's ants in this adventure.

  • The Big Three who dropped the bomb at the end of the last issue were actually shapeshifting Skrulls in disguise.  The same Skrulls, lead by the Super Skrull, kidnap Captain Marvel, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksliver.
  • "Fire and Rain" reference: the James Taylor song was released in February 1970.

  • David and Goliath reference.

The Avengers #94
December 10, 1971
Artists: Neal Adams (parts 1 & 3) and John Buscema (part 2)
  • The Inhumans are featured, and fortunately they survive a WMD attack by Super Skrull.
  • The Super Skrull brings his three captives to the Skrull king.  The king tortures the twins in an effort to extort Kree tech secrets from Captain Marvel.
  • Triton appears in the last frame.

The Avengers #95
January 10, 1972
  • An Inhumans story!  The Avengers save Black Bolt in San Francisco, then take him back to the Great Refuge where he, once again, wrests power away from Maximus.  
  • Maximus, wouldn't you know it, has aligned himself with the Kree.  There are implications, in fact, that all of the Inhumans are descended from the Kree.  In the years since, that interconnected history has evolved into something a bit more complicated.
Supreme Intelligence - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
  • Featured: Supreme Intelligence

The Avengers #96
February 10, 1972
  • The Avengers head to the Skrull world to help their kidnapped friends.
  • Mar-vell wasn't really helping after all.  He hoodwinked the Skrulls!
  • However, a nuclear warhead is heading toward Earth.
  • Rick Jones is kidnapped by the Kree.
  • Supreme Intelligence sends him into the Negative Zone.

The Avengers #97
March 10, 1972
Lee/Thomas/J. Buscema
  • You know what this story needs?  More characters.
  • It turns out Rick Jones has a superpower, or at least one the Supreme Intelligence has granted him temporarily.  He is able to summon Marvel superheroes from the 1940s.  Included are the old Human Torch and a different Vision, one with a similar costume but a different color scheme (seriously?).  Other blasts from the past:
    • The Patriot
Jeffrey Mace - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
    • Blazing Skull
Blazing Skull | Superhero Wiki | Fandom
via Superhero Wiki
    • The Fin
Peter Noble (Earth-616) | Marvel Database | Fandom
via Marvel Database
    • Angel
Angel (Thomas Halloway) - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
  • Through means I don't entirely understand, the powers of both sides are diffused.  
  • Craddock is unmasked as a Skrull.
  • All is well. 

The Amazing Spider-Man #90
November 1, 1970
Lee/Gil Kane
  • Villain: Doctor Octopus
  • Featured: George Stacy, father of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's current girlfriend.
George Stacy - Wikipedia
via Wikipedia
  • George Stacy dies in this issue and Spidey/Peter blames himself.  This is a big deal.  The readership is put on notice: recurring characters within the Marvel Universe can die, permanently.
  • The death would be shocking enough in itself but add to it George's final revelation to Spider-Man while dying in the web slinger's arms: he knew Spidey was Peter.
  • I have been away from this series for 52 issues.  This was my own introduction to George Stacy - I barely met him before having to let him go.  Yet, the emotional impact for me is far beyond anything I've experienced in my time exploring other Marvel series. 


  1. Yep, Spidey is the best.

    Avenges does have some good stories, not that I can re-call any of the ones I have liked off the top of my head.
    Way better than the JL, though. Way.

    1. I loved the Super-Friends growing up but I haven't explored the comics much at all. However, from what I've seen, same problem: way too many characters. The GL Corps is even worse. Even though I love the basic concept of the Corps, putting everyone in the same costume is decidedly unhelpful.

    2. TAS: Green Lantern, as a comic, went to Hell when they moved the focus to the Corps.

    3. Which is really too bad. GL is probably my favorite DC hero. I love the chosen one story. I love the idea of the Corps, the Guardians, Red/Orange/Yellow/etc. Lanterns. I love the extremely hokey origins of the character concept. However, I would agree that the concept got spread too thin. It's a strong argument for the superiority of a simple premise... Spider-Man, for instance.

    4. It's just bad writing and bad oversight.
      DC has never figured out how to reign in their writers and hold them to a cohesive universe. Which is just baffling.
      I mean, the same creators work for Marvel, so it -should- be easy for DC to keep things on track and, yet, they don't.