This is "From a Different Point of View," a feature where I discuss a comic book series with another writer. In this case, it is CBR's own Eileen Gonzalez who will be going over the history of the Avengers with me, story by story!
We continue with Avengers #25 "Enter...Dr. Doom!" by Don Heck, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers
Brian Cronin: The big two-five!
Brian Cronin: It's funny, Stan Lee was really at the forefront of the expansion of the concept of "anniversary issues"
Brian Cronin: As it wasn't until Marvel that the 50th issue became something that people cared about.
Brian Cronin: And even there, it wasn't until Marvel's solo titles reached those numbers, as opposed to their anthologies.
Eileen Gonzalez: I don't think I realized that before! Lee really did change the game in a lot of ways.
Brian Cronin: I just quickly went to check
Brian Cronin: And sure enough, years later, Marvel was also the first company to celebrate a 25th issue.
Brian Cronin: (Marvel was also the first company to celebrate a 150th issue as something that mattered and they were also the first company to somehow suggest that 175th issue anniversaries are a thing)
Brian Cronin: However, that was a bridge too far at this point in time, so the 25th issue of the Avengers was not a "special" issue.
Brian Cronin: Except, of course, that it included Doctor freakin' Doom!
Eileen Gonzalez: My inner Marvel Universe Civilian is thinking that was all a marketing ploy, but regardless of how it started, I still love anniversary issues! I like seeing extra-epic stories and celebrating how far a series has come.
Eileen Gonzalez: And I do love how Doom is only here to try to get Reed Richards' attention.
Brian Cronin: It's interesting to see Doom finally appear, as he has been brought up a LOT already in this series, right?
Brian Cronin: Like every other issue, someone makes a reference to him.
Brian Cronin: Just last issue, there was a whole "Doom is such a scary villain!" bit between the Avengers and Kang.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, everyone's always bringing up Doom for some reason, and then Kang talks about how great he is. And now we have Doom talking about how great Kang is.
Eileen Gonzalez: The Kang reference doesn't even have anything to do with the story, except maybe to tie it back to the last issue.
Eileen Gonzalez: It's weird how Doom is sitting there whining about how bored and brilliant he is. Like... if you're so bored, go cure cancer or something. Do something useful that doesn't involve comparing yourself to Richards!
Brian Cronin: Ha! Yeah, he's so lame.
Brian Cronin: I love the opening page of the issue.
Brian Cronin: As it really just involves the Avengers all silently staring out the window together.
Brian Cronin: That's weird, right?
Brian Cronin: It's like out of some generic romantic comedy, I expect "When you get caught between the moon and New York City" to start playing.
Eileen Gonzalez: Oh yeah, wow, they don't even start talking until the third panel on the page. Before that it's just thought bubbles as they look at each other!
Eileen Gonzalez: And in Hawkeye's case, think creepy thoughts about Wanda.
Brian Cronin: Doom, by the way, sounds like someone who just got high for the first time.
Brian Cronin: "Is Kang MY descendant? Or am I HIS? Am I Kang?!?"
Eileen Gonzalez: Ha! The whole Kang/Doom connection is pretty trippy.
Brian Cronin: I don't think anyone ever really quite cared as much as Lee seemed to early on.
Brian Cronin: Pretty much everyone moved on from it and said, "Yeah, this is not useful"
Brian Cronin: But those early stories brought it up a lot.
Brian Cronin: And yes, Hawkeye's whole deal with Scarlet Witch is unnnnnhealthy.
Brian Cronin: It makes sense that he was trained by Swordsman, as his logic here is fairly similar to Swordsman's "Make me the leader" logic, right?
Brian Cronin: And that ain't a good look, Hawkeye!
Eileen Gonzalez: Definitely not! Though to his credit, he at least seems to be realizing his constant smart-aleck remarks are not helping anybody.
Brian Cronin: True.
Brian Cronin: I don't even GET the "My son, the soldier" reference.
Brian Cronin: It's got to be a reference to something from popular culture, right?
Brian Cronin: I can't think of anything and a quick Google search didn't bring anything up.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, my internet search turned up barren as well. Hawkeye does make a lot of pop culture references in this issue, so I'm guessing it was something topical.
Brian Cronin: Well, I'm sure our readers will tweet us if they know the reference!
Eileen Gonzalez: We get a glimpse this issue into why Cap continues to stick around despite the others (read: Hawkeye) treating him so badly--he promised the original Avengers he'd lead, and Captain America doesn't break his promises.
Brian Cronin: No, he just whines about them all the time.
Brian Cronin: What the heck is up with Cap's face in that one panel?
Brian Cronin: Where he mentions being a relic
Brian Cronin: There are lines where there should not be lines, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: I guessed it was an odd attempt to show the fire light flickering on his face
Eileen Gonzalez: It's also weird that he talks about having no life outside of Captain America. Was there something stopping him from getting one?
Eileen Gonzalez: Although I guess his attempt to be a boxing trainer didn't pan out.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, it's like he is far too busy being a full-time leader...of a team that rarely seems like it has a leader!
Brian Cronin: It is crazy how much of the plot of the last 10 issues has been driven by letters
Brian Cronin: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joined via letter
Brian Cronin: Cap's letter to Nick Fury was a plot point for a few issues
Brian Cronin: And then Swordsman using it against Cap was a plot point.
Brian Cronin: And now the Avengers are lured by Doom via letter.
Eileen Gonzalez: I'd say that's just because it was the '60s, but we've seen the Avengers using all these futuristic communication gadgets, so I'm not sure why they seem to like letters so much. Maybe Iron Man took all the fun tech with him when he left.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, by now, letter correspondence definitely should have been replaced by holograms that beam into people's houses!
Brian Cronin: Or, in the case of Mandarin's similar technology, into their bedrooms when the other person is in their underwear!
Eileen Gonzalez: Side note: I want Wanda and Pietro's room. That is some nice digs.
Brian Cronin: Right?
Brian Cronin: Well, I mean, they DO live in a mansion
Brian Cronin: I like that Lee and Heck have remembered Quicksilver's weird circus obsession
Brian Cronin: Scarlet Witch's powers continue to make no sense. Now she can work as a TV remote?
Brian Cronin: Or is the idea being that she used her hex to, in effect, break her brother's TV?
Brian Cronin: Instead of just turning it off with her hand?
Eileen Gonzalez: That "pffft" sound isn't exactly promising, is it?
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm pretty sure they had remote controls back then, Wanda!
Eileen Gonzalez: And what IS with Pietro's obsession with being an acrobat, anyway?
Brian Cronin: I guess circuses were big deals back where they came from
Brian Cronin: I think the Marvel Universe believes that Eastern Europe is all just traveling circuses
Brian Cronin: Nightcrawler was in a circus
Eileen Gonzalez: That would explain some future Avengers issues.
Brian Cronin: In about 70 issues, Hawkeye and Hercules both end up in a traveling circus in Eastern Europe.
Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking of.
Brian Cronin: So maybe, like how there are more countries in Eastern Europe in the Marvel Universe (Latveria, Slorenia and more) than in the real world, there are also more circuses in the Marvel Universe!
Eileen Gonzalez: I accept that!
Brian Cronin: I'm loving Wanda's casual outfit, by the way.
Brian Cronin: Very Mary Tyler Moore
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, I like seeing the Avengers dress in casual clothes. It's still such a rarity at this point.
Brian Cronin: I'm not quite getting the situation with Hawkeye's training
Brian Cronin: He's training for pinpoint accuracy
Brian Cronin: So he's meant to hit a tiny button, right?
Brian Cronin: But if he misses, the whole thing explodes?
Brian Cronin: That doesn't make any sense, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, it's really not smart, is it? Why would you put the scoreboard so close to where you're shooting???
Eileen Gonzalez: And then he blames the Maximoffs for his own bad choices.
Brian Cronin: But look at the giant hole his tiny arrow made!
Brian Cronin: Was he testing pinpoint accuracy with, like, a blast arrow?
Brian Cronin: "Let's see how close I can shoot an arrow that then explodes on impact"
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe the equipment was falling apart anyway with Tony around to fix things? I have no idea.
Eileen Gonzalez: And yet they still invite Hawkeye to come to Latveria with them for some reason? Not sure I would.
Brian Cronin: I love that this weirdo is seriously PLOTTING TO TAKE OVER as Avengers leader
Brian Cronin: You are such a tool, Hawkeye
Brian Cronin: There are four people on the team!
Brian Cronin: Machiavellian machinations really seem out of line when there are just four people on the team.
Eileen Gonzalez: He keeps going on and on about how tactless he is, too. He knows he's not leader material but he's still pushing for it. It's hilarious and also sad.
Brian Cronin: Doom sort of mirrors Hawkeye's behavior on the same page.
Brian Cronin: "Okay, I'm finished monitoring them, I guess I'll DESTROY MY MONITORING MACHINE"
Brian Cronin: All throughout Doom's home, there are just exploded telephones, as Doom just blasts every phone as soon as he's done with his telephone calls.
Brian Cronin: "Okay, see you later." ZZIT!
Brian Cronin: Also, dude, how the heck do you call your own country a "comic opera kingdom"?!?!
Eileen Gonzalez: Doom knows when to be honest with himself. I guess. Honestly, I just keep staring at that close-up of him on the next page because his mask looks like a duck.
Brian Cronin: Ha! It does, doesn't it?
Brian Cronin: He sort of has Donald Duck's temper, as well.
Eileen Gonzalez: I want that crossover now! Donald Duck as Doctor Doom.
Brian Cronin: I guess so long as the Latverian economy is doing okay, the Latverian people will put up with having an evil leader.
Brian Cronin: Huh...that sounds familiar for some reason.
Eileen Gonzalez: Checkered Scarf Man knows what's up, though.
Eileen Gonzalez: He was probably disappeared right after this issue.
Brian Cronin: I simply ADORE the fact that the Avengers all traveled to Latveria together to meet Wanda and Pietro's aunt
Brian Cronin: And it isn't until they are in jail.
Brian Cronin: That they're like, "Hey, isn't Doctor Doom the head of this country?"
Eileen Gonzalez: Given how often they reference Doom, you'd think they'd have noticed before now.
Eileen Gonzalez: Fortunately they brought their costumes for some reason!
Brian Cronin: And Cap delivers it like he just figured out some giant riddle
Brian Cronin: "I've got it! This is Doctor Doom's country!"
Eileen Gonzalez: And then we get to see where Latveria's entire defense budget went: a giant plastic dome. Great use of money, I'm sure.
Eileen Gonzalez: Though I guess the real defense is the citizens' willingness to go after superheroes with sticks.
Brian Cronin: Well, they are all armed with alternative facts about the Avengers being the real bad guys.
Eileen Gonzalez: Those are the best kind of facts!
Brian Cronin: I dig how out of nowhere Hawkeye's pop culture references are on the next page.
Brian Cronin: The Munsters reference makes some sense
Brian Cronin: But the 77 Sunset Strip one does not.
Brian Cronin: Even Doom is like, "Is that your idea of jokes?"
Eileen Gonzalez: Doom is ready to murder the Avengers on account of Hawkeye's jokes, and honestly, I can understand that.
Eileen Gonzalez: I do like that overhead shot, though.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, Heck and Ayers are solid as always.
Brian Cronin: His plan really is so dumb. Capture the Avengers just to get the Fantastic Four to come to Latveria?
Brian Cronin: There must be millions of ways to get the FF to come to Latveria
Brian Cronin: And his weapons are so vague - "A light that saps your energy for...reasons"
Eileen Gonzalez: It's especially ridiculous because he keeps saying that defeating the Avengers will be so impressive, but then later when they give him trouble he's like "You weren't supposed to be this hard to defeat!" ?????
Brian Cronin: Quicksilver's only move is wrap people up in capes or other fabric, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: Looks that way. Doom defeats Quicksilver with his cape and then defeats Cap with Quicksilver.
Brian Cronin: And yeah, Doom's cape trick is utterly bizarre.
Brian Cronin: "No matter how fast you wrap it up, I can unwrap it faster!"
Brian Cronin: Uh....why?
Brian Cronin: How is that even a thing?
Brian Cronin: Doctor Doom and his super fast unwrapping cape
Brian Cronin: "Oh, everyone knows about Doom and his super fast unwrapping cape!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Oh, but apparently Doom knows how Wanda's powers work, if he's figured out how to negate them!
Brian Cronin: How is her power "childish," by the way?
Eileen Gonzalez: Weirdly, Hawkeye is the only one who shows brains here: he's got an arrow for just this occasion. And it actually makes sense, given his history fighting Iron Man.
Brian Cronin: How amazing is Doom's reaction?
Brian Cronin: "What can your arrow do to my imper...HOLY CRAP!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, I love that bit.
Brian Cronin: It's great that his plan is to go make his armor stronger.
Brian Cronin: Why wasn't it stronger to BEGIN with?
Eileen Gonzalez: Then Doom takes 30 minutes to change armor! During which time the Avengers sit around waiting, apparently!
Brian Cronin: The Fantastic Four's cameo is hilarious, because they manage to work in both Thing and Human Torch's catch phrases into a single panel
Brian Cronin: Heck and Ayers do a fine Fantastic Four, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: They are looking pretty great here.
Brian Cronin: This is the second time that the government has kept them from coming to the Avengers' aid, right?
Brian Cronin: Way back when the Avengers were on the run due to Nefaria's doppelgangers of them, the FF was also barred from helping them
Eileen Gonzalez: I remember that!
Brian Cronin: It's fascinating that the turning point of the issue is the shitty healthcare in Latveria
Eileen Gonzalez: That plot point always struck me as weird. Like, weren't the Avengers already motivated to defeat Doom? Why do they need this random subplot to make them get off their butts and do something?
Brian Cronin: I guess the theory is that if they didn't see that their presence was hurting the citizens of Latveria
Brian Cronin: Then they would have been more willing to do guerrilla attacks on Doom
Brian Cronin: But now, with time being more of a factor due to Doom's treatment of his people, they had to go to a direct assault.
Eileen Gonzalez: True enough
Eileen Gonzalez: Also lol at Doom calling Cap a peasant.
Eileen Gonzalez: It's such a Doom thing to say.
Brian Cronin: Totally.
Brian Cronin: Once again, Scarlet Witch's powers could have resolved everything pages ago.
Brian Cronin: "My powers can't destroy the shield around Latveria!"
Brian Cronin: "Oh, wait, my powers can easily destroy the machine that CREATED the shield around Latveria. Okay, we're done here."
Brian Cronin: Decent callback by Lee to Scarlet Witch avenging herself over Doom making fun of her power.
Brian Cronin: Only "decent" because the insult didn't make sense to begin with
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm really facepalming at the end of the issue. The nefarious Doctor Doom, defeated by sneeze powder.
Brian Cronin: Hey, don't be disrespectful like Doom was of Scarlet Witch's power!
Brian Cronin: It's a sneeze-SMOG arrow!
Brian Cronin: That makes all the difference!
Eileen Gonzalez: OH of course, my bad
Brian Cronin: I like the thought of Hawkeye in his lab, creating these bizarre arrows.
Eileen Gonzalez: Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch were really the only ones who did anything this issue, weren't they? Cap and Quicksilver may as well have stayed home.
Brian Cronin: Quicksilver, at least, has the self-awareness to basically say as much at the end
Brian Cronin: He must have been reading recent issues of Avengers to note "another fruitless quest, another disappointment."
Brian Cronin: Granted, I'm sure he was talking about the aunt lead not panning out, but still
Eileen Gonzalez: I like it better your way
Brian Cronin: With this issue, we come to the end of Cap's Kooky Quartet, as the original Avengers begin to return next issue to mix in with this not-so-fantastic four.
Eileen Gonzalez: Speaking of fruitlessness and disappointment, the Wasp!
Brian Cronin: Ha!
Brian Cronin: Do you think the book has gotten better with the Quartet or was it better with the original team?
Eileen Gonzalez: Honestly? Hard to tell. Both teams bicker so much that it gets grating after a while, and I personally prefer the characters featured in the original line-up. Then again, the introduction of new characters with different (some may say "lesser") powers probably forced the creative team to get more inventive with fight scenes and solutions.
Eileen Gonzalez: So I'm gonna cop out and say both have their pros and cons
Brian Cronin: Ha!
Brian Cronin: Honestly, I can't disagree!
Brian Cronin: The Kirby art is better in the early issues
Brian Cronin: But the current stories seem to have a bit more heft to them.
Brian Cronin: Except for Avengers #4, of course
Brian Cronin: That's still the best issue of the whole series so far, I think.
Brian Cronin: Hmmm...Cap's revenge on Zemo was also well done.
Brian Cronin: Kang/Ravonna was also well done.
Eileen Gonzalez: Agreed on the Kirby art being better, though Wood and Romita were pretty great too.
Brian Cronin: Yeah
Brian Cronin: Hmmmm....I think I will lean towards the original roster so far.
Eileen Gonzalez: Fair
Eileen Gonzalez: And at least one of them is on their way back for next time!
Brian Cronin: But now we move on to the mixed roster and the home stretch (nine more issues) of Lee's direct involvement in the series!
Brian Cronin: I wonder if it will involve the Wasp getting captured....
Eileen Gonzalez: Place your bets now!
Okay, folks, feel free to write in if you have stuff you'd like to see us discuss in future Avengers issues (or questions about the stories)! You send your questions, requests and/or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!