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The Avengers Add Three Supervillains To The Team! We Vote for Melter!

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 #16, "The Old Order Changeth," by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers.

Eileen Gonzalez: How dramatic!

Eileen Gonzalez: But before we get to the new order, we have to wrap up the last plot points from last time, i.e. the Masters of Evil.

Eileen Gonzalez: That shouldn't take long.

Brian Cronin: How hilarious is that?

Brian Cronin: This major issue and yet they're like, "Ah man, we just ran out of pages last issue, didn't we?"

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Brian Cronin: That's one of the perils of the Marvel Method, as well, as sometimes when you're plotting out a story, you can go long.

Brian Cronin: Here, Kirby's other #15 pages were so good that they clearly just decided to extend it to this issue rather than do some ridiculous editing.

Eileen Gonzalez: That's probably for the best.

Brian Cronin: How amazing is the fact that the Avengers have a specific plan for "teleport us to another dimension where we can fight the bad guys without fear of hurting innocents"?

Brian Cronin: It does make you wonder why Thor just didn't send the BAD GUYS to the other dimension and just be done with it, like he did back in one of the earlier Masters of Evil stories, but why quibble?

Eileen Gonzalez: It also makes me wonder why he doesn't do this all the time! Fights would be much quicker and cleaner this way.

Eileen Gonzalez: And you gotta love Enchantress and Executioner skedaddling as soon as everyone else disappears. Like, the city is at your disposal, and you just leave. Okay then.

Brian Cronin: They have their chauffeur from last issue

Brian Cronin: So the world is their oyster!

Brian Cronin: Isn't it weird how bloodthirsty Black Knight and the Melter are this issue?

Brian Cronin: They're acting like sociopaths.

Brian Cronin: I think Kirby and Lee accidentally triggered a lot of bloodthirst in the last issue.

Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, yeah. No wonder three-fifths of the team decides they need a break.

Brian Cronin: "This dimension cancels out...melting beams. That makes sense, right?"

Eileen Gonzalez: This really is a convenient dimension.

Eileen Gonzalez: But Thor's hammer sure works okay!

Brian Cronin: Lee even hangs a lantern on Wasp's uselessness!

Brian Cronin: That was an interesting meta moment.

Eileen Gonzalez: But she does a great job of leading us into the next scene, at least.

Brian Cronin: Ha! True. "Oh hey, that's right, didn't Cap go on some sort of suicide mission last issue? I wonder how that turned out?"

Brian Cronin: Cap's such a nice guy. He even gives that jerk, Zemo, a nice burial.

Brian Cronin: Rick, by the way, is back to looking like a teenager.

Brian Cronin: What a strange bit last issue with Rick suddenly aging 20 years in his appearance.

Eileen Gonzalez: I'm confused as to why Cap and Rick are dodging those bullets. Don't they have justice and courage on their side? Isn't that enough?

Eileen Gonzalez: And then Cap proves he's totally not mad by leaping at the shooters. Perfect!

Brian Cronin: It's a great Kirby panel, though!

Brian Cronin: And so Cap and Rick start on their Planes, Trains and Automobiles-style adventure.

Brian Cronin: Just to keep them out of New York while the Avengers blow up the very IDEA of the Avengers.

Eileen Gonzalez: I know they say later that there were enough Avengers in New York to make this decision without consulting the others, but it still seems super rude.

Brian Cronin: It's a total dick move.

Brian Cronin: There was no reason this couldn't have waited a couple of days until Cap got back.

Brian Cronin: But wow, what a big move by Lee and Kirby. How many other companies would be willing to blow up the status quo on a popular title like this so early into the run?

Brian Cronin: It's just SUCH a bold idea.

Brian Cronin: This, though, also shows the upside of the Marvel Method, as Lee was scripting X-Men and Tales of Suspense, so he was familiar with Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Hawkeye.

Brian Cronin: Otherwise, who knows if this ever happens.

Eileen Gonzalez: True! I do wonder at their motives. Did they think Thor and Iron Man were big enough names that they didn't need the publicity the Avengers offered, and instead wanted to give those spots to some lesser-known heroes in the hopes of boosting their popularity?

Brian Cronin: That's it precisely. While leaving Cap behind to anchor the book.

Brian Cronin: Soon, though, Lee would insist that Cap be removed, as well, for the same reason.

Eileen Gonzalez: Hm, it seems like they'd want to at least leave one big name in there to attract new readers.

Brian Cronin: I think the idea is that by the time that he insisted that Cap be removed, the other characters were already popular.

Brian Cronin: It's also important to note that when this happened

Brian Cronin: Cap's solo feature in Tales of Suspense was set in the past.

Brian Cronin: So this would be the only place to see modern adventures for Captain America.

Eileen Gonzalez: Did Giant-Man and the Wasp have their own comic at this point? I seem to remember you mentioning that it had been cancelled.

Brian Cronin: They still had it, but since they only had two more issues after this, they likely knew they were writing them off as they wrote this issue.

Eileen Gonzalez: I guess those two were serious about needing a vacation!

Brian Cronin: I love the line about Thor's trial of the gods.

Brian Cronin: Lee does a great job capturing the blase nature of this stuff to these heroes now.

Brian Cronin: "Something about a trial of the gods? Who knows? Who cares?"

Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, yeah. They have better things to do! Like dissolve the team! That's way more interesting.

Brian Cronin: It's amazing that Wasp just suggests that they ALL go on vacation.

Brian Cronin: It's one thing to say, "I think I need a break," but no, it's "We should ALL take vacations."

Brian Cronin: It's super curious that they don't use, "Remember how I almost died two issues ago? I think I need to recover more from that" as an excuse.

Brian Cronin: That seems like it would be a built-in explanation, no?

Eileen Gonzalez: She didn't want to seem like the weak link, I guess. But Hank's dialogue right after sure blows that.

Brian Cronin: He's so lame.

Eileen Gonzalez: I mean, they've ALL almost died at various points. Suck it up, Jan!

Brian Cronin: "Superheroing is so hard for you, Jan."

Brian Cronin: Again, he can't say, "I didn't realize how hard this must be for you to come back to work after being shot in the chest."

Brian Cronin: Instead, he just makes it sound like superheroing itself is too much for her.

Eileen Gonzalez: Even though, if memory serves, becoming the Wasp was her idea in the first place.

Brian Cronin: She's a woman, though.

Brian Cronin: She doesn't know any better.

Eileen Gonzalez: Ah yes, of course. I forgot she was basically the team mascot here. Being a mascot is super hard.

Brian Cronin: I still can't get over Hawkeye's idea to attack the Avengers to prove that he belongs on the team.

Brian Cronin: I mean, it WORKED, so I guess he was correct

Brian Cronin: But yeesh.

Eileen Gonzalez: You mean you don't go into job interviews by wrangling the interviewer and then rattling off your backstory?

Eileen Gonzalez: I've been doing interviews wrong, then.

Eileen Gonzalez: Also, Hawkeye, the fact that the lady spy was hot is not an excuse for becoming a criminal!

Brian Cronin: The late great comedian Mitch Hedberg had a hilarious bit that reminds me of this Hawkeye line...

When you go to a restaurant on the weekends and it's busy they start a waiting list. They start calling out names, they say "Dufresne, party of two. Dufresne, party of two." And if no one answers they'll say their name again. "Dufresne, party of two, Dufresne, party of two." But then if no one answers they'll just go right on to the next name. "Bush, party of three." Yeah, what happened to the Dufresnes? No one seems to care. Who can eat at a time like this? People are missing! You people are selfish. The Dufresnes are in someone's trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths. And they're hungry. That's a double whammy. Bush, search party of three, you can eat when you find the Dufresnes

Brian Cronin: I thought of this with Hawkeye's "I didn't try to learn what happened after that."

Brian Cronin: Da heck?

Brian Cronin: Why NOT, dude?

Brian Cronin: "I will avenge your death by becoming an Avenger!"

Brian Cronin: "I'm not actually dead."

Brian Cronin: "Shhh...shhh...just go with it."

Eileen Gonzalez: Ha! That bit is great. Hawkeye, not so much.

Eileen Gonzalez: The Wasp still finds him attractive for some reason.

Eileen Gonzalez: I guess she's really hoping the Black Widow is dead.

Brian Cronin: Wasp couldn't help but swoon over one last new member before leaving the team.

Eileen Gonzalez: It's her trademark. We'd have been disappointed if she didn't.

Eileen Gonzalez: (No, we wouldn't.)

Brian Cronin: This was the first appearance of Jarvis in the pages of Avengers, which is a nice piece of history right there.

Brian Cronin: Of course, Wasp can't be expected to learn the butler's name.

Brian Cronin: He is below her caste.

Eileen Gonzalez: Not a great start for Jarvis... and not a great end for Jan.

Brian Cronin: It's hilarious how one supervillain reforming suddenly leads to the Avengers offering membership to Namor.

Brian Cronin: For...reasons?

Brian Cronin: They suddenly decided to ONLY add villains? Huh?

Eileen Gonzalez: It is REALLY weird that they offer Namor membership. He's tried to kill them! He says he wants to rule them right now! And yet Iron Man still praises him for being princely.

Eileen Gonzalez: I know you'll never find another Avenger as great as Captain America or Thor, but raise your standards, man!

Brian Cronin: It's just so out of nowhere.

Brian Cronin: "Hey, think Doctor Doom would be interested?"

Brian Cronin: You know your logic is suspect when you have to make a guy promise to stop conquering the Earth before he can join your superhero team.

Eileen Gonzalez: If Kang showed up right now, they'd probably give him a membership card.

Brian Cronin: That's why they gave him that pin-up a few issues back!

Eileen Gonzalez: Kang didn't even need to create that Spider-bot to infiltrate the team--he could have joined himself.

Brian Cronin: "Oh no, how could we have predicted that Kang would betray us from within?"

Brian Cronin: I've always wondered this, "How are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch paying for this Swiss chalet?"

Eileen Gonzalez: Good question. Professor X? Magneto pretending to be some kind of rich superhero-loving benefactor?

Brian Cronin: Murder for hire?

Brian Cronin: "You'll have to stop doing murder for hire, though, if you want to join the Avengers."

Eileen Gonzalez: I wonder: if Wanda and Pietro found out about the Avengers' membership drive all the way in Europe, how many crackpots with powers do you think showed up at the Avengers' door demanding a tryout?

Brian Cronin: And how many of them were secretly bad guys planning to infiltrate the team?

Brian Cronin: I must say, this was obviously not planned at all.

Brian Cronin: But the way that Kirby and Lee managed to have Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch leave the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants

Brian Cronin: Really did set them up perfectly for a redemption arc.

Brian Cronin: And Hawkeye was introduced as a hero before the Black Widow seduced him, so that was an easy redemption set-up, as well.

Brian Cronin: It was almost assuredly not planned, but even without planning, they set this all up very well.

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, despite all the kidding we just gave them, it is nice that the Avengers are so willing to give these folks a second chance.

Eileen Gonzalez: They just need to plan these things a little better next time.

Brian Cronin: It also perfectly exemplified the power of the Marvel shared universe

Brian Cronin: For fans of the time, this was huge.

Brian Cronin: All of their series "mattered," as they were all leading to this.

Eileen Gonzalez: And they didn't go the obvious route, either. You'd think that if the Maximoffs were going to get a redemption arc, it'd be with the X-Men, but nope! They're Avengers now.

Brian Cronin: I love that we continue the tradition (begun last issue) of superheroes just writing letters to apply for gigs.

Brian Cronin: How in the world did some dude name Bill get named in the press conference panel?

Brian Cronin: The Teen Brigade never got names

Brian Cronin: But some whiny dude at a press conference gets named? Huh?

Eileen Gonzalez: My favorite reporter is the one who doesn't even have a question, he just praises Hawkeye for being a great archer. Ten buck says Hawkeye paid the guy to be there and talk him up.

Brian Cronin: Yeah, "I read about his prowess with a bow. He'll be a great Avenger." Um, dude, you get that you almost certainly read that in an article about how he was using his great prowess with a bow to try to kill Iron Man, right?

Eileen Gonzalez: Details, details.

Brian Cronin: Unless...maybe he read it in Pravda!

Brian Cronin: IT'S A COMMIE, AVENGERS! GET HIM!

Eileen Gonzalez: I would read that story!

Brian Cronin: I adore them checking the mail to see if they have any new members there.

Brian Cronin: Again, it WORKED, so they're right, I guess

Brian Cronin: But it's such a bad idea.

Eileen Gonzalez: And Iron Man using his transistor beams to bring the mail to him because he's too lazy to move.

Eileen Gonzalez: But yeah, sure, this is for "practice."

Brian Cronin: Cap and Rick's journey home is amazing.

Brian Cronin: That should have been the majority of the issue.

Eileen Gonzalez: Yes! We could have been watching them wrestle alligators all this time. Instead we get the Avengers opening the mail.

Brian Cronin: The jaguar panel was epic!

Brian Cronin: So how long did it take for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to travel to New York from Switzerland on an ocean liner?

Brian Cronin: That can't be quick, can it?

Brian Cronin: Boy, Rick and Cap must have been REALLY stuck down there.

Brian Cronin: It's interesting that no one doubts whether Cap is even still alive.

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, you'd think they'd be worried about him. Either they are extremely confident in Cap's abilities or they just don't care at all.

Eileen Gonzalez: To say nothing of Rick! Do they even know he's missing?

Brian Cronin: "i assumed he died on our mission to the Arctic."

Eileen Gonzalez: "It's fine, there's plenty of Teen Brigadiers left."

Brian Cronin: Isn't it odd that the Scarlet Witch never had to demonstrate her powers in this issue?

Brian Cronin: Shouldn't that have been, like, a no-brainer to show the readers what her powers are?

Brian Cronin: Unless Kirby and Lee weren't even sure themselves

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, I kept waiting for that to happen, but they spent all their time showing off Quicksilver's far less interesting powers.

Eileen Gonzalez: I mean it's cool he can run fast, but a hex power is way cooler to look at.

Eileen Gonzalez: Quicksilver just promises that her power is super interesting, really, but we never see it.

Brian Cronin: Cap's reunion with the Avengers is ay-DOR-able.

Eileen Gonzalez: It is! Giant-Man throwing him in the air is so great.

Eileen Gonzalez: Of course, then the mood is ruined two minutes later when Cap gets the news.

Brian Cronin: The talking heads segment with their villains is brilliant.

Brian Cronin: "I live in the future, but I am following these developments in the past very closely for...reasons."

Eileen Gonzalez: Kang, you can find out how this ends right now if you want! Try harder!

Eileen Gonzalez: The same with Immortus, I'm pretty sure.

Brian Cronin: One of the things that amuses me is Iron Man's bit while he walks away about how he'll never forget those words, "Avengers Assemble." Dude, the phrase debuted just six issues ago!

Brian Cronin: Kirby and Lee, though, do an amazing job at showing how much of a big deal that this is in the Marvel Universe. The public hates mutants and Spider-Man, but they love them their Avengers and that's all because of stuff like this.

Eileen Gonzalez: It's also a little odd that Iron Man is talking about the old giving way to the new when the Avengers aren't even that old yet.

Eileen Gonzalez: I do like his little spotlight of sadness, though. Very dramatic.

Brian Cronin: It's kind of funny how we never really get to see Thor's reaction to this, do we?

Brian Cronin: "Oh, I'm off the team?"

Brian Cronin: Shrugs

Brian Cronin: "Okay."

Brian Cronin: That last panel is wonderful, with Cap introducing the team and saying the apparently already iconic battle cry of the Avengers.

Brian Cronin: "Okay, just for you reporters, 'Fight Avengers! To the death!"

Eileen Gonzalez: With just a touch of gravitas from Hawkeye of all people, even though Quicksilver is sticking his elbow in his face.

Brian Cronin: The other brilliant thing Kirby and Lee did is that they set up next issue

Brian Cronin: So that there is a reason for fans to stick around

Brian Cronin: Even if they were wary about this new team.

Brian Cronin: "The hunt for the Hulk."

Brian Cronin: It's such a clever idea.

Brian Cronin: "Okay, I guess I can't miss them fighting the Hulk again."

Brian Cronin: And, for one last time, it all comes back to the Hulk!

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, they've been hinting at the Hulk's return all issue. It's a great way of grabbing attention.

Brian Cronin: What a historic issue.

Brian Cronin: They're really on a nice roll here after the nonsense of #14.

Brian Cronin: Of course, Kirby leaves after this issue, but still, it very much righted the ship at a time they needed it.

Eileen Gonzalez: I guess next time we'll see if the newbies can keep the momentum going!

Brian Cronin: What could go wrong?

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