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 #24, "From the Ashes of Defeat" by Don Heck, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers.
Brian Cronin: Back to Ayers for Heck's inker.
Brian Cronin: It's a shame, because Heck/Ayers seriously IS a good art team, but the drop off from Wood and Romita to Ayers is still a noticeable drop.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, you can tell the difference even before looking at the credits.
Eileen Gonzalez: I like the art, but like you said, the drop is noticeable.
Brian Cronin: This was quite an exposition-heavy splash page!
Brian Cronin: Stan's dialogue continues to be a bit overwrought with some of their affectations. "But-we are so few! The cause is hopeless!"
Brian Cronin: What kind of dialect is that?
Eileen Gonzalez: And then Ravonna starts in on it, talking about "meeting their fate with valor" and whatnot.
Eileen Gonzalez: I guess that could be the way they talk in the future, but I don't know what Wanda's excuse is.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, he keeps rocking this sort of faux Shakespearean dialogue.
Brian Cronin: It's kind of funny.
Brian Cronin: How weird is the set-up of the guy leading the invading force being there during the invasion?
Brian Cronin: That doesn't seem to be a good military tactic
Brian Cronin: Being at the place your army is attacking.
Eileen Gonzalez: I guess he figures no bullet would DARE strike Kang.
Eileen Gonzalez: Or he could just use his magic costume to transport him to safety at a moment's notice.
Brian Cronin: It's kind of funny that Ravonna's people seem kind of like jerks, right?
Brian Cronin: I mean, they're the underdogs so we have to root for them.
Brian Cronin: But they are kind of hard to root for.
Eileen Gonzalez: They do seem pretty ungrateful, given all the Avengers have done so far. Then again, that one guy has a point about the idea of Hawkeye saving them from an entire army being ridiculous.
Brian Cronin: True. I can't argue with Hawkeye being a savage.
Eileen Gonzalez: Even if this wasn't the far future, if some guy with a bow and arrow offered to save me from tanks and guns, I'd probably react like that too.
Eileen Gonzalez: I do like Hawkeye's thought balloon there, with him thinking how much he likes Steve now that he's "drunk with power."
Eileen Gonzalez: Weird, but okay.
Brian Cronin: I like that the comic continues to tell us how great of a leader Cap is
Brian Cronin: When he seems to lead them into disaster every other issue
Brian Cronin: But now the future people are even, "Wow, this guy is obviously the best!"
Brian Cronin: Think about this, though, isn't the whole notion of Captain America being a great leader totally pulled out of nowhere?
Brian Cronin: The Invaders were LATER a thing, but they weren't a thing at this point.
Brian Cronin: The only guy Cap really "led" during his history to this point was Bucky
Brian Cronin: And that didn't exactly work out great, either, right?
Brian Cronin: So where is this "Cap is a wonderful leader" stuff coming from? It's a constant thing ever since this point, but it was really just invented whole cloth by Lee, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: That's a good point. If I remember correctly, even as a soldier, he was just a private, so he wouldn't have been leading anyone either as Steve or as Cap.
Brian Cronin: I guess it is sort of like Zemo, how Stan retroactively introduced him as this big villain.
Brian Cronin: Similarly, Cap has retroactively been established as this amazing leader.
Eileen Gonzalez: Possibly they were trying to compensate for his lack of powers? Like, everyone else has speed or magic or, uh, arrows, so what can Cap do? He can lead.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, that's most likely the angle, but it's so funny how we don't actually see it in the comics.
Brian Cronin: Just a lot of bitching about his leadership.
Brian Cronin: And then some after the fact, "But no, he's such a great leader."
Eileen Gonzalez: I love that panel with the delta-ray launcher. Stan Lee didn't even try to explain it, he just threw up his hands and went "screw it, I don't know how it works either."
Brian Cronin: Makes you wonder why they don't just open with the delta-ray launcher, right?
Brian Cronin: Maybe it's expensive?
Eileen Gonzalez: It's certainly effective enough to be--Quicksilver goes down fast.
Eileen Gonzalez: Meanwhile, that beacon ray barely gets mentioned before it's blasted to pieces.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, there was a whole lot of set-up for a device that gets destroyed right away.
Brian Cronin: That panel of the invaders flying in?
Brian Cronin: Holy shit, that's a good panel.
Brian Cronin: Heck really does a good job selling the imposing nature of the invasion.
Eileen Gonzalez: On the one hand, I agree. On the other, something about it reminds of me of Amigara Fault and I Don't Like It.
Brian Cronin: Computer guided missiles? Stan was ahead of the game!
Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, yeah. Amazing how much stuff showed up in these comics and old TV shows and stuff decades before they were invented in real life!
Brian Cronin: Ha! There really are some similarities.
Brian Cronin: "Naught now remains but to eliminate the enemy!"
Brian Cronin: What kind of dialogue is that?
Brian Cronin: Stan seems to love "naught/aught" doesn't he?
Eileen Gonzalez: To say nothing of Cap's speech about nothing being hopeless. And he manages to monologue while punching guys in the face too!
Brian Cronin: It reminds me of the times that he would give long monologues while falling
Eileen Gonzalez: Those are the best! Also the ones where someone gives a whole speech while an arrow or a bullet travels conveniently slowly to give them time to finish.
Brian Cronin: That IS a cool Cap drawing, by the way.
Brian Cronin: Kind of silly, but a cool drawing.
Brian Cronin: I also like that they seem to totally down play the fact that Scarlet Witch could probably handle all of these people.
Eileen Gonzalez: Ugh, yeah, that's annoying. And the bit where she allows herself to get captured to save power for later? I totally thought she was going to break them all free in another page or two, but no. She doesn't use her power again until way later.
Brian Cronin: No one knows how her powers work.
Brian Cronin: It's still so hilarious.
Brian Cronin: I think when Roy Thomas takes over, he tries to get it to make more sense as I bet it drove him nuts back then.
Brian Cronin: "WHAT ARE YOUR POWERS?!?"
Eileen Gonzalez: And where is Quicksilver while his teammates are in jeopardy? Napping. Tsk, tsk.
Brian Cronin: He was a stranger to her...a fellow human being that he had never met...and yet he risked his life for hers!
Brian Cronin: By the way, screw you, future people, with your "Age of Unreason" shot!
Brian Cronin: It's accurate, but still
Brian Cronin: Uncool!
Eileen Gonzalez: "Primitives," "Age of Unreason"... you future people have no manners.
Eileen Gonzalez: Gotta love that guy Baltag just crushing all of Kang's dreams by being nitpicky about the rules.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, the strict "Conquering" rules of Kang and his guys.
Brian Cronin: Meanwhile, I dig how dedicated Quicksilver is to the "Avengers Assemble" slogan.
Brian Cronin: That dude really did study up on his Avengers history, didn't he?
Brian Cronin: And more "Awesome things Captain America did, but not in the actual comics" stuff from Quicksilver with that inspirational Captain America quote.
Eileen Gonzalez: I bet Quicksilver keeps a scrapbook of Avengers-related news clippings.
Brian Cronin: He probably kept it next to his circus scrap books.
Brian Cronin: It is crazy how quickly Kang's commanders turned on him.
Eileen Gonzalez: Well they do say that even a single act of mercy is a bad sign. Presumably if they went easy on Kang, that would be mercy, and they would have to destroy themselves.
Brian Cronin: Ooooh...good point.
Brian Cronin: It is pretty awesome how they don't mess around at ALL, right?
Brian Cronin: It's just "We disagree with you, Kang."
Brian Cronin: And then ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT!
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, they do move quick, don't they?
Brian Cronin: It is kind of cool to see Kang fighting against worse guys
Brian Cronin: Because we can actually see him be competent for a change.
Eileen Gonzalez: I did a double-take when Kang described Doctor Doom as the "greatest arch-villain of all time." That seems remarkably modest, even given their implied connection.
Brian Cronin: I love the characterization of Cap.
Brian Cronin: These last few issues have been good for reminding us of the Cap who first came out of the ice back in Avengers #4.
Brian Cronin: The guy who woke up out of suspended animation and basically said, "Come at me."
Brian Cronin: Last issue, with the bit where he challenges Kang.
Brian Cronin: And here, where he's like, "whatever, dude, you only want our help because you're in trouble, so cut the BS."
Brian Cronin: Shockingly (not shockingly), the best arc of the run so far for this group was the one that spotlights the team's competence.
Eileen Gonzalez: It's about time, honestly.
Eileen Gonzalez: And we're finally seeing some real evidence that Cap is a great leader rather than just watching characters pay lip service to it.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, agreed.
Brian Cronin: I also like the "Doctor Doom" joke because they literally JUST added a guy to the team who first threatened to kill Captain America if they didn't make him their leader.
Brian Cronin: So I don't know if Hawkeye should be so proud of their membership standards.
Eileen Gonzalez: Considering how Hawkeye joined the team, he has zero right to complain about membership, ever.
Brian Cronin: Right?
Brian Cronin: Seeing Cap being Kang's wing man with Ravonna is weird, no?
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, this whole Kang/Ravonna thing is getting weird. Kang literally referred to her as his "prize" a few pages ago, and now Cap is acting like Kang coming to rescue her is some great thing?
Eileen Gonzalez: Raise your standards, lady!
Brian Cronin: She obviously has some weird issues
Brian Cronin: Remember how she was like, "If Kang had come to me like a noble, then it would have been different" last issue?
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, I don't know how they raise princesses in the future, but they didn't do a great job here.
Eileen Gonzalez: I mean, she's badass, but as you said. Issues.
Brian Cronin: Ravonna's people are way too obsessed with them all dying, right?
Brian Cronin: Every time they devote themselves to a cause of action, it's "To the death!"
Brian Cronin: "I WILL ACTIVELY KILL MYSELF TO HELP YOU, RAVONNA!"
Brian Cronin: "EVEN IF YOU DON'T NEED IT, I WILL STILL DO IT!"
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm kind of curious what kind of cultural changes made these people how they are.
Eileen Gonzalez: I do like that Kang has this weird sense of honor. He's horrible, of course, but he does keep his promise when the Avengers keep theirs.
Brian Cronin: Great question. I'm also not sure - I don't get how it is supposed to be Earth.
Brian Cronin: So, kingdoms formed on Earth
Brian Cronin: But Kang also conquered the Earth, no?
Brian Cronin: But I guess not?
Brian Cronin: Maybe there's lots of little ones and he's conquered most of them?
Brian Cronin: I really don't know the particulars of how Ravonna's kingdom works.
Eileen Gonzalez: What's weird about Ravonna's kingdom is that she's apparently in charge, but she's still called a princess and her father is alive? Shouldn't he be king, then?
Eileen Gonzalez: The future is a strange and wondrous place.
Brian Cronin: I like the guy who passive aggressively complains about Baltag's leadership
Brian Cronin: And it just makes no sense.
Brian Cronin: "Kang conceived plans, while Baltag shouts threats."
Brian Cronin: Kang seems to shout threats all of the time!
Brian Cronin: He's also way too obsessed with a team of heroes from centuries earlier instead of leading his forces here
Brian Cronin: But no, Baltag yells too much, so they made a bad call.
Brian Cronin: I mean, Baltag is obviously a jerk
Brian Cronin: But they're villains, that shouldn't be a deal breaker.
Eileen Gonzalez: You'd think shouting threats would be an advantage to a team of villains.
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe Kang is just more charismatic about it. He seems real confident everyone will return to his side now that they've defeated Baltag.
Brian Cronin: I guess you sort of have to have confidence if your name is Kang the Conqueror
Brian Cronin: Oh, so Scarlet Witch's hex power is re-charged now?
Brian Cronin: HOW DO HER POWERS WORK?!
Eileen Gonzalez: They only work when it's convenient for the plot.
Brian Cronin: Also, I like when Kang sends them back in time, they ask Cap, "What if it's a trap?" and Cap is all, "We'll just face it."
Brian Cronin: Ummm...if it's a trap, maybe AVOID the trap?
Eileen Gonzalez: Being an Avenger means walking into traps.
Eileen Gonzalez: Though I guess he has a point--how else are they going to get home? They didn't bring a time machine with them.
Brian Cronin: It's not the future of Marvel, where everyone has a copy of Doctor Doom's time machine handy.
Brian Cronin: And then the twist ending. The ending is so powerful, I wonder if Stan worked it out with Heck or if that was all Heck.
Brian Cronin: Because it's quite clever
Brian Cronin: Although, of course, as we saw, not really based on any logical progression
Eileen Gonzalez: It is a good twist, and I did enjoy it, but I still kind of want to shake my head at Ravonna.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, agreed.
Brian Cronin: Would it have been that hard to just have Ravonna be interested in Kang from the get go?
Brian Cronin: Or make him less of a dick to her?
Brian Cronin: Because to have her do a complete 180 is weird.
Brian Cronin: She FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM!
Brian Cronin: Huh?!
Eileen Gonzalez: Their whole relationship bugs me.
Eileen Gonzalez: Just because he said one nice thing to you once doesn't make up for the other stuff!
Brian Cronin: Right?
Brian Cronin: And then when she SACRIFICES HER LIFE for him
Brian Cronin: She then, like, APOLOGIZES TO HIM AS SHE DIES!
Brian Cronin: Kang was the true hero after all
Eileen Gonzalez: If this is the future's idea of romance, they can have it.
Brian Cronin: I guess future society is somehow more disturbing than modern society in terms of relationships.
Brian Cronin: But besides the messed up relationship angle.
Brian Cronin: It's a strong twist otherwise.
Eileen Gonzalez: It definitely is! It just could have been done SO much better.
Brian Cronin: And likely shows a big step forward for Heck's plotting.
Brian Cronin: I dig how the Avengers are stuck in a place of uncertainty with the ending, as well
Brian Cronin: That's quite clever.
Brian Cronin: They transport through time AS they see Ravonna about to be shot.
Brian Cronin: So they really don't know what happened
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, that's part of what makes the twist so great--our heroes are triumphant and they have just defeated an army, yet their are powerless to stop Ravonna from getting shot.
Brian Cronin: Do you think that this was the best story yet by Heck/Lee?
Brian Cronin: Or do you like one of their earlier ones better?
Brian Cronin: Wonder Man's debut WAS pretty darn good, too.
Eileen Gonzalez: Wonder Man's was good, but I think I partially like that one so much because of what a big impact it had later on. This one is fantastic (bizarre romantic choices notwithstanding) all on its own. And it's much more epic, too, what with the higher stakes.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, I think that's fair.
Brian Cronin: And what's funny is that as good as it is
Brian Cronin: It is still very much "of the era" in the way that it opens with resolutions of a previous plot
Eileen Gonzalez: It's definitely a '60s-era story at its best.
Brian Cronin: Like, you'd like to be able to say, "Check out this two-parter"
Brian Cronin: But if you did that
Brian Cronin: Then you'd be, like, "What's up with this Cap trying to box some guy plot?"
Brian Cronin: But yeah, I, too, think this was their best story so far.
Eileen Gonzalez: The next one isn't going to be able to live up to this, is it?
Brian Cronin: We shall find out!
Brian Cronin: (No, not it will not)
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!