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 #31, "Never Bug a Giant!" by Don Heck, Stan Lee and Frank Giacoia
Eileen Gonzalez: Nice punny start there.
Brian Cronin: I still love the idea that Giant-Man and Ant-Man are roughly the same name.
Brian Cronin: With a GI added to it.
Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, you're right! Someone put a lot of effort into that.
Brian Cronin: I never even noticed it until Robert Kirkman introduced a G.I. Ant-Man during his Irredeemable Ant-Man run.
Eileen Gonzalez: It's subtle enough that I wonder if they did it on purpose or if it was a happy accident.
Brian Cronin: I actually lean towards the latter.
Brian Cronin: But it's a cool happy accident!
Brian Cronin: I just thought about it with the "Bug a Giant" pun
Eileen Gonzalez: Whatever name he goes by, we left Hank in trouble last time, and he's still in trouble today.
Brian Cronin: How much of a jerk is Wasp to Hawkeye at the start of the issue?
Brian Cronin: Me-ow, Jan!
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, for once he didn't even do anything to deserve it!
Brian Cronin: The guy asked if he could go after Black Widow on his own, they said yes, and he successfully takes out Widow, Power Man and Swordsman and she takes that to mean that Hawkeye doesn't give a shit about being an Avenger?
Brian Cronin: "Let's go rescue Hank, unless you don't want to, Hawkeye, you dick!"
Brian Cronin: And Hawkeye's just, "What the what?"
Brian Cronin: "I was just sitting here!"
Brian Cronin: Although, I am SHOCKED that Hawkeye's response was basically, "Ah, don't worry about it, I say ALL sorts of shit. How can I complain?"
Brian Cronin: Gotta give it up to Hawkeye. He's actually...maturing?!
Eileen Gonzalez: He's also pretty calm later when Jan tries to give advice about how hard it was learning to share power. Did she forget that Cap is the leader now and that there hasn't been any power sharing going on like before? We know that's a sore spot for Hawkeye, so I'm kinda surprise he just responds "yeah, I guess so."
Eileen Gonzalez: He must really sympathize with her worry for Hank A LOT to put up with all this.
Brian Cronin: Right? How is "the Avengers share command" a response to a guy complaining about the PERMANENT leader?
Eileen Gonzalez: Then again, when she's worrying in the jet, he just comes out and says "knock it off." Delayed payback?
Brian Cronin: Ha!
Brian Cronin: Yeah, that "knock it off" really didn't make ANY sense.
Brian Cronin: "I'm worried about my boyfriend." "Aw, knock it off!"
Brian Cronin: Huh?
Eileen Gonzalez: And Cap's just like "Makes sense to me!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Thanks, Cap.
Brian Cronin: I love the whole, "We could ask Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch for help, but eh, me, a dude with arrows and a lady who can shrinks, we should be able to take down anything that comes our way."
Brian Cronin: I guess Cap HAS kicked so much ass by himself that it is easy for him to be confident.
Eileen Gonzalez: Wanda and Pietro are too busy angsting in Europe anyway.
Brian Cronin: I like the "in case we forgot them" after, you know, missing ONE ISSUE!
Brian Cronin: Quicksilver's outfit is...interesting
Brian Cronin: Notice how they cut her off at the torso in the panel, so we don't get to see how ridiculous Heck and Giacoia almost assuredly drew her waist.
Brian Cronin: Like the Wasp's on the first page!
Eileen Gonzalez: I'd guess that was Heck's romance comic experience peeking through, but he didn't start doing that until recently, so I don't know.
Eileen Gonzalez: And how dare you mock the traditional garb of whatever vaguely defined country they are staying in.
Eileen Gonzalez: The purple pants with the stripe have great significance, I am sure.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of Heck's romance comic history
Brian Cronin: That panel with Wanda and Pietro clasping hands?
Brian Cronin: Yeesh
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, that was definitely Not Great.
Eileen Gonzalez: There are times when the romance influence is good but that is not one of them.
Brian Cronin: And then we cut to the underground nonsense
Brian Cronin: I love when the exposition just makes it sound so terribly stupid.
Eileen Gonzalez: Someone wrote that description and still thought it was a good idea to keep going with it.
Eileen Gonzalez: I like how Hank is so intent on rescuing Dr. Anton that he shows no curiosity about this society of underground dwellers whatsoever.
Eileen Gonzalez: I think I'd be wondering at least a little!
Brian Cronin: I'd be more worried about time-fused destucto-bombs!
Brian Cronin: Destructo-bombs, Stan?
Brian Cronin: For serious?
Eileen Gonzalez: What does "time fused" even mean?
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm imagining it has a nice timey scent, like when you infuse things with lavender. But maybe they just mean they're on a timer.
Brian Cronin: Oh yeah, it's definitely the latter.
Brian Cronin: But DESTRUCTO-BOMBS?!
Eileen Gonzalez: It's... descriptive?
Brian Cronin: What bombs DON'T destruct stuff?
Brian Cronin: "Oh, so these are the DESTRUCTIVE sort of bombs."
Eileen Gonzalez: But they're no match for that hunk of rock!
Brian Cronin: How stunned are you that Stan didn't make a reference to a then-topical baseball player/team?
Eileen Gonzalez: Nah, that's Hawkeye's job to drop the pop culture references.
Brian Cronin: Wok! Thop! are two of the best sound effects they've had in some time.
Brian Cronin: That's totally what it WOULD sound like if a piece of stalagmite hit a destructo-bomb, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: Also "bar-room." Maybe rethink the hyphen there, unless you're offering drinks in that segment of the cave.
Brian Cronin: Maybe that's where Giacoia felt he had to go to finish inking this nonsense.
Brian Cronin: It's fascinating, by the way, in a weird bit of history sense
Brian Cronin: That the word "holocaust" was not used to refer to the Jewish genocide in World War II at the time.
Brian Cronin: It wouldn't be used to describe that for another decade or so and then it caught on fast.
Brian Cronin: So you get these now weird uses of the term.
Brian Cronin: Can you imagine a modern writer saying "We must say they perished in the holocaust!"?
Eileen Gonzalez: I can imagine it, and I can also imagine the reader response!
Eileen Gonzalez: It's interesting how word meaning and usage changes over time like that.
Brian Cronin: And it's only 53 years ago!
Brian Cronin: I'm shocked, sometimes, by the things that are common enough words for my dad and my aunts and uncles that are almost nonsense words to me now.
Brian Cronin: Like palaver.
Brian Cronin: Ha! I just accidentally made a really good pun there. Go me.
Eileen Gonzalez: Speaking of outdated terminology, check out Hank's dialogue on the next page. "Groovy?" "Batty little bonfire?" Really, Hank?
Brian Cronin: It was 1966. You were required to include one bat reference in every comic book.
Eileen Gonzalez: Holy sponging off the success of others, Batman!
Eileen Gonzalez: So what do we think of the back story behind the Keeper and Prince Rey and all that? It just made me more confused.
Brian Cronin: Not only more confused but it was also vaguely racist, no?
Brian Cronin: Because they're all white
Brian Cronin: And yet they were descended from the Incas
Brian Cronin: Who were, you know, not white.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yes! That bugs me so much. Even more than the fact that they all speak English somehow. Don't know how you do that after spending centuries in a South American cavern, but okay.
Brian Cronin: Someone probably just dropped a bunch of unsold reading books down a hole one time and that became their introduction to English.
Brian Cronin: Where's my No-Prize, Stan?!
Brian Cronin: What I can't understand is how could the Prince ALSO be a bad guy?
Brian Cronin: He doesn't have a mustache!
Brian Cronin: And his hair is wavy!
Eileen Gonzalez: He's blond and blue-eyed, by all rights he should be a good guy.
Brian Cronin: I'm also unsure, exactly, of how Dr. Anton's research brought him here.
Brian Cronin: He was doing research on artificial growth in body cells
Brian Cronin: And that brought him to...their mysterious power source?
Brian Cronin: Why?
Brian Cronin: What's the connection?
Eileen Gonzalez: Good question. Did his instruments accidentally pick something up? What is he DOING exactly? Why does he even need to be in South America? We never learn anything about his research.
Brian Cronin: "Well, I'm studying body cells, so I built a machine to detect power sourced underground."
Brian Cronin: "Uhmm...we think we might have to turn down your next grant proposal. You clearly are not using your funds properly."
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe he actually was spying on them after all.
Brian Cronin: That would actually be a better twist, that he is a spy working for the government
Brian Cronin: Because otherwise, it's just nonsense
Brian Cronin: Then again, this whole plot HAS been nonsense, so I guess it tracks
Brian Cronin: I never thought I'd be so happy to see Hawkeye in a comic book than I am now.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, watching Hawkeye almost shoot the police makes more sense than anything we've seen so far.
Eileen Gonzalez: Lucky the police captain there is a fanboy.
Brian Cronin: Also, wasn't that arrowhead an explosive one?
Brian Cronin: What was he planning to do, blow up whoever they came across?
Brian Cronin: And even more unsettling is that it's obviously something that he and Cap have discussed, since Cap only had to say, "You know what to do" and he's whipping out his explosive arrows
Brian Cronin: We know what Hawkeye would have done if he had been a subordinate at My Lai.
Brian Cronin: Okay, that was probably a bit too extreme, Hawkeye, I apologize.
Eileen Gonzalez: So where is that mystery cloud even coming from? The Keeper can do that?
Brian Cronin: They have laser guns and are building a Cobalt Bomb. I think there's not much they CAN'T do, except star in an entertaining comic book story.
Brian Cronin: I know when Hank gets bigger, he gets stronger, but since when was growing to ten feet enough for him to be able to break through walls and stuff?
Brian Cronin: Like, when he's a GIANT, I get it
Brian Cronin: But ten feet isn't even all THAT crazy, is it? That's shorter than two Wolverines stacked on top of each other!
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm also concerned about the structural integrity of this cave, given all the smashing he's doing. He's going to defeat himself by bringing the roof down on everybody!
Eileen Gonzalez: At this point the Keeper is justified in defeating him just to save everyone's necks.
Brian Cronin: It's kind of a sad statement that if Hank didn't go looking for the doctor
Brian Cronin: Than the Keeper would have just destroyed the Earth without anyone even knowing who he was.
Eileen Gonzalez: Oh man, good point. This guy's on the cusp of destroying the world and he's only stopped by coincidence.
Brian Cronin: "Oh man, Reed, I can't believe the Earth is destroyed. Freakin' Doom!" "No, Ben, this wasn't even Doctor Doom. It was...checks notes...the Keeper of the Flame? Huh?"
Brian Cronin: Man, Heck's action scenes are often awesome.
Brian Cronin: I guess I shouldn't knock the power of this squad, as this threesome is kicking some underground butt.
Brian Cronin: And Hawkeye even had a Cap insult that wasn't really an insult!
Brian Cronin: He's GROWING as a person, Eileen! Right in front of our eyes!
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm so proud!
Brian Cronin: And then they were taken out by a net, so maybe I spoke too soon about their effectiveness.
Brian Cronin: Man, the Avengers let themselves get taken prisoner way too often.
Brian Cronin: You would have to think that letting yourself be put at the mercy of VILLAINS would not work out as well as it has for them.
Brian Cronin: Even if twice out of every ten times, they just shoot you, that's still too many times!
Brian Cronin: There's actually a classic G.I. Joe issue that sort of played off of that trope, when a bunch of Joes are captured by Cobra and an overzealous Saw-Viper figures, "Why not just kill them?" and mows down about eight of them before he is stopped.
Brian Cronin: And everyone, Cobra included, is like, "DUDE! That's not how we play!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Supervillains had HONOR back then. Even the silly ones like the Keeper.
Eileen Gonzalez: On the flip side, Wasp not only evades capture but actually does something???
Eileen Gonzalez: Even if it's just opening a door.
Eileen Gonzalez: All while the others are busy, uh, playing with tentacles.
Brian Cronin: That's been her go-to move for some time now.
Brian Cronin: Freeing the other, more capable people
Eileen Gonzalez: The fact that "more capable people" means Rey in this case is also sad.
Brian Cronin: The Wasp is basically the little girl in the "Shake and Bake" commercials.
Brian Cronin: "And I helped!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Though she also stings the Keeper while Hank stands there, so that's something.
Brian Cronin: Oh man, the Keeper has destructo-rays AS WELL as destructo-bombs?
Brian Cronin: How can you stop a guy like that?
Eileen Gonzalez: With an exploding arrow and some falling stonework, apparently.
Brian Cronin: Hawkeye must have heard my complaint about the lack of a topical reference earlier
Brian Cronin: So he dropped a freakin' Al Hirt reference!
Brian Cronin: Ah yes, the dude who trumpeted the Green Hornet theme.
Brian Cronin: Always my go-to for "sweet music"
Eileen Gonzalez: That's adjacent to a Batman reference, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: It counts, sorta?
Brian Cronin: I will count it!
Brian Cronin: And you're right, the Wasp DOES sting the Keeper at an important point. so that's something
Brian Cronin: How weird is the scene where Wasp whispers an idea to Cap?
Brian Cronin: But she's right there!
Brian Cronin: Why not just have HER tell Hawkeye?
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe she's still mad about the "knock it off" remark?
Brian Cronin: OH!
Brian Cronin: Maybe she is showing the importance of command structure!
Brian Cronin: She tells Cap and then he tells the others.
Brian Cronin: She's a good little soldier!
Brian Cronin: In all seriousness, I get that it is because they're keeping us in suspense as to WHY she wants Hawkeye to shoot his arrow at the giant idol.
Brian Cronin: So my apologies, Don and Stan, I know you had your reasons
Brian Cronin: It's so weird, though, that with the flame extinguished, they just let this super-sophisticated underground race to just go on
Brian Cronin: "See ya!"
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm sure they'll be fine and won't find anything else to kill everyone over.
Eileen Gonzalez: That ending is like something out of the Twilight Zone.
Brian Cronin: How would the doctor know offhand, by the way?
Brian Cronin: That it couldn't be reversed?
Brian Cronin: Also, "Hank Pym? Who cares about his expertise, I heard from an old army doctor friend of Cap's that I can't be cured, so that's enough for me."
Eileen Gonzalez: Are there ANY doctors good at their jobs in this comic?
Brian Cronin: Apparently Cap's old army doctor knows all, so him, I guess?
Brian Cronin: Also, now that I think about it, if bio-chemist later builds a super robot
Brian Cronin: I guess I shouldn't be surprised that body cell researcher Dr. Anton is building energy-measurement machines
Brian Cronin: No one can ever concentrate on one field!
Eileen Gonzalez: That's just science!
Brian Cronin: But yeah, I almost expected to hear a sad trombone at the end of the issue.
Brian Cronin: Instead of giving us the Avengers theme song that Stan did earlier, it should just be "woh wohhhh"
Eileen Gonzalez: Way to kill the mood, GOLIATH.
Eileen Gonzalez: Then again, it's not like this was some great victory for the Avengers. They put out a fire and thus ruined a whole civilization's way of life, and then they left. The end.
Brian Cronin: Well, putting out that fire DID save the world, so I gotta give it to them.
Brian Cronin: It's not like they were tricked to go to the Mole Man's base, lose a fight and then get thrown out by him.
Brian Cronin: So this is a big step up for them.
Eileen Gonzalez: That's pretty sad, actually.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of sad (sort of).
Brian Cronin: Next issue starts Stan's last full story arc as the book's scripter.
Brian Cronin: Just three issues left period for Stan (Thomas joins mid-story)!
Brian Cronin: Let's hope that he ends on a relatively high note!