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 #29, "This Power Unleashed!" by Don Heck, Stan Lee and Frank Giacoia
Brian Cronin: I like to think of this one as the "All the chickens come home to roost" issue.
Brian Cronin: As Heck and Lee begin to pay off the various plots they've introduced over the past year.
Brian Cronin: Or at least tie them all together into one story.
Brian Cronin: Also, while I am sure Lee probably equates "script" with "writer," and it doesn't mean anything really, it is interesting that Lee is just credited with "script" for this issue.
Brian Cronin: It is almost as if he is noting that he didn't plot the issue.
Brian Cronin: I'm probably reaching there, though, and Lee was just looking for a different way of saying writer to mix things up.
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe he just really wanted to use the word "savage" while keeping the alliteration.
Eileen Gonzalez: But yeah, the "chickens coming home to roost" thing is a good way to look at this issue. There are so many plot threads converging here. I know it wasn't planned, but it's a nice way of tying things together.
Eileen Gonzalez: Especially since, if I remember right, we get some more roster changes next issue.
Brian Cronin: We're also coming close to the end of Lee's stint on the book.
Brian Cronin: Which is clearly the biggest change the book has seen since Kirby left.
Eileen Gonzalez: True. The book is going to feel a lot different without Lee at the helm.
Brian Cronin: Because while he still works Marvel Method, Roy Thomas' idea of the Marvel Method is a loooooooot different than Lee's.
Eileen Gonzalez: It'll be fun to see some fresh writer blood on the book, so to speak. I wonder if the dialogue will be as over-the-top.
Brian Cronin: Or will the references be as fresh as Ben Casey references?
Eileen Gonzalez: Well with all the remakes coming out lately, that reference may be fresh again soon!
Brian Cronin: Ben Casey, the TV show that had been off the air for a few months by the time this issue came out.
Brian Cronin: It's funny how Quicksilver also has to become the team doctor.
Brian Cronin: "Am I the only responsible one? I'm freakin' QUICKSILVER!"
Brian Cronin: "My whole deal is that i'm the tempestuous one, but with you morons, I'm stuck being the guy you rely on for stuff!"
Eileen Gonzalez: And then we find out Hawkeye is still hung up on Black Widow, despite his not mentioning her in ages. I wonder what made him bring her up again now? Besides plot convenience, I mean.
Eileen Gonzalez: Speaking of Quicksilver, I love how pedantic he is when the doctor shows up. "Um, excuse me Cap, but his name is GOLIATH now. Keep up."
Eileen Gonzalez: I think you have bigger concerns right now... in a manner of speaking.
Brian Cronin: Ah, old school exposition dialogue.
Brian Cronin: Gotta love it.
Brian Cronin: Just like the big-ass footnote to promote an issue of Thor's book.
Brian Cronin: As a quick aside, that Thor storyline (where Thor tries to get his dad to accept Jane Foster) reminds me of a recent article I did discussing the fact that 1966 was a big year for Marvel and secret identities
Brian Cronin: Thor revealed his identity to Jane Foster, Rick Jones told the world that (assumed dead) Bruce Banner was the Hulk and Hank and Jan revealed their identities here.
Brian Cronin: It's funny how things sort of work like a zeitgeist in many ways.
Eileen Gonzalez: That's pretty neat though! Especially considering the Marvel Method where this sort of thing probably wasn't planned out in advance.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, good point.
Brian Cronin: I think it is one of those things like publicity stunts
Brian Cronin: Where Lee just had something in his head and it just sort of subconsciously showed up in all of the books.
Brian Cronin: Notice how the same sort of shtick seems to pop up in all of the titles eventually.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of the Marvel Method, I have to believe that Heck just came up with the idea of them calling in another doctor, right?
Brian Cronin: Because the whole, "I remember a major from the Army twenty years ago, let's call him" idea is so out there that I find it hard to believe that Heck came up with that.
Brian Cronin: I think that's one of those "Stan's dialogue changes Heck's plot" deals.
Eileen Gonzalez: Either that or they remembered last minute that Thor's secret identity was a doctor and had to throw in a quick explanation for why the Avengers called in some random guy instead.
Brian Cronin: Oh, so you think Major Carlson could be a re-drawn Don Blake?
Brian Cronin: That's an interesting theory. That could be true.
Brian Cronin: I doubt Heck was exactly paying attention to the rest of Marvel's continuity.
Brian Cronin: I am now laughing to myself at someone asking Don Heck in 1966
Brian Cronin: "So, what is currently happening in each of Marvel's other eight features?"
Brian Cronin: And Heck would be like, "Man, I barely know what's going on in THIS feature."
Eileen Gonzalez: Ha! Yeah, nowadays you practically need an encyclopedia to keep track of everything. I don't think you'd get away with that attitude nowadays.
Eileen Gonzalez: Though to be fair, does ANYONE know what's going on in the Avengers, ever?
Brian Cronin: I think that that approach has cooled a bit recently.
Brian Cronin: There was a point in the 1990s, then yeah, there would be, like, 100 Marvel titles
Brian Cronin: and if you tied in anyone, you had to have extensive footnotes
Brian Cronin: as to where the issue took place in continuity.
Brian Cronin: Including my favorite, X-Men #25, which had a footnote to explain why Thing wasn't scarred (as the issue took place before the issue where Wolverine scarred Thing's face with his adamantium claws), but X-Men #25 saw Wolverine's adamantium claws removed, so it COULDN'T have taken place before that issue! The great Wolverine/Thing time paradox of 1993!
Eileen Gonzalez: Yikes! Every time I think comics can't get more complicated, they do.
Brian Cronin: But yes, now we get to the point you mentioned before, where Hawkeye suddenly remembers that he is hung up on Natasha.
Brian Cronin: "Oh right, didn't someone spirit her away a while back and that was my whole deal for joining the Avengers?"
Brian Cronin: "I was super invested in that...boy, I'm just a flaky douchebag, aren't I?"
Eileen Gonzalez: Man, Natasha sure is wearing an outfit, isn't she?
Eileen Gonzalez: It's like she's competing with Zatanna and Black Canary for most fishnets.
Brian Cronin: While Heck and Stan rely on the good ol' reliable Yellow Peril for the issue's villains
Brian Cronin: Quick aside, Major Carlson's medical advice just seems pulled out of thin air, doesn't it?
Brian Cronin: "It's my medical opinion that he can't withstand shrinking."
Brian Cronin: "Okay, gotcha, doc."
Brian Cronin: How in the world do you not question that? What could he possibly be basing that on?
Eileen Gonzalez: Well he is sweating a lot in that one panel. I think he doesn't know what he's doing but doesn't want to tell the Avengers.
Brian Cronin: Right?
Brian Cronin: This dude comes in, some Army Corps medic who Cap knew 20 years ago, starts sweating profusely while doing tests on a ten foot man
Brian Cronin: Then comes up with some diagnosis that seems completely pulled out of thin air
Brian Cronin: And they all act like he's obviously correct.
Brian Cronin: Wouldn't Hank, the bio-chemist genius who came UP with the shrinking/growing serums, have a better idea?
Brian Cronin: But no, some guy Cap knew as an a combat surgeon 20 years ago is the expert.
Brian Cronin: I mean, combat surgeons ARE badass
Brian Cronin: Especially since this guy was probably, like, 25 at the time.
Brian Cronin: But none of that translates to knowing whether a ten-foot man will be okay if he shrinks down to normal size. It's just bonkers.
Eileen Gonzalez: It'd be fun if the Avengers' next mission is pumping Tony Stark for the funds to sue this guy for medical malpractice.
Brian Cronin: Plot twist!
Brian Cronin: He's Tony's doctor, too.
Brian Cronin: "You mean, I DON'T need this chestplate?"
Eileen Gonzalez: Oh man, there's a great story in here somewhere.
Eileen Gonzalez: "You mean Bucky's not really dead?!"
Brian Cronin: "Uncle Ben was just GRAZED?"
Brian Cronin: This is also why Aunt May was sick for the entirety of the 1960s. This guy was her doctor.
Brian Cronin: "I can't read these charts," he thinks to himself as he sweats profusely, "I'll just tell her nephew that she needs some experimental chemical to live. That will kill some time until maybe she'll just get better on her own."
Brian Cronin: "What, he actually FOUND IT?!"
Eileen Gonzalez: I think we've got something here.
Brian Cronin: You could argue that this is the start of Hank's mental issues.
Brian Cronin: As he takes the whole "Stuck at 10-feet based on the advice of some underqualified doctor" news HARD.
Eileen Gonzalez: Don't be sad, Hank! You can go live in one of those oversized prop warehouses that Batman's always fighting in!
Eileen Gonzalez: But seriously, yeah, this is just the start of a long, hard road for Hank Pym.
Brian Cronin: And especially for Hank's relationship with Jan.
Brian Cronin: By the way, it's interesting that their relationship got super serious off-panel, right?
Brian Cronin: Now it's all, "My darling!"
Brian Cronin: When before it was, "Man, check out Thor's ass! Eh, high pockets?"
Brian Cronin: "Why don't you ever throw yourself in front of ray blasts for ME, like Ravonna and Kang?"
Eileen Gonzalez: Between them and Hawkeye suddenly remembering Black Widow, there's a lot of weird relationship stuff going on today.
Eileen Gonzalez: I know superheroes aren't always great at romance, but sheesh.
Brian Cronin: Right under our noses, we missed out on the most corrupt sector of the Marvel Universe.
Brian Cronin: Circuses.
Brian Cronin: Previously, the Circus of CRIME goes right back to work as a working circus when they get out of prison
Brian Cronin: And now, Swordsman is working as a circus employee UNDER HIS SUPER-VILLAIN NAME
Brian Cronin: On a COMPLETE TANGENT, that panel where she walks in on his tent, doesn't it remind you of the famous panel of Bucky walking in on Steve Rogers' tent and discovering he is Cap?
Eileen Gonzalez: I guess there's only so many ways to pull back a curtain and find a super-guy behind it
Brian Cronin: Okay, i'm WAY off base. Never mind me.
Brian Cronin: They're not even remotely similar. I'm a dummy.
Eileen Gonzalez: I am moderately concerned for the lady getting knives thrown at her. She's thinking the Swordsman is getting more skilled every day? I should hope he was skilled right from the start! What was he like before???
Brian Cronin: That IS a super-disturbing thought for her
Brian Cronin: It also brings up an interesting point.
Brian Cronin: Obviously, the better of a knife thrower you are
Brian Cronin: That means the knives get closer and closer to the target, right?
Brian Cronin: But if the knives get closer and closer to the target
Brian Cronin: How do you know it's because they've gotten better and not because they're getting shakier with their aim?
Eileen Gonzalez: I hope I'm never in a position to find out!
Brian Cronin: And just because I always think of this with knife throwing, here's the classic tomahawk flub from The Tonight Show
Brian Cronin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L5QC9ZJkM8
Brian Cronin: One of the few clips we have of the New York version of Carson's Tonight Show
Brian Cronin: As the tapes were wiped out years ago.
Brian Cronin: Oh right, I forgot that Hawkeye thinks Natasha is dead.
Brian Cronin: It was more that he was stupid for thinking that she was dead.
Brian Cronin: Because she was still alive when he last saw her!
Brian Cronin: So he's still a douchebag, but LESS of one.
Brian Cronin: For that specific reason, at least.
Eileen Gonzalez: And then he runs off like a chump so Cap has to get the Wasp of all people to make sure he stays out of trouble.
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm sure this will go well.
Brian Cronin: Also, there's no way that there was no time for Cap to explain to the Wasp why he wants her to follow him.
Brian Cronin: That was just flat out lazy, Cap.
Eileen Gonzalez: Honestly, it's not like Hawkeye is Quicksilver. He doesn't go THAT fast.
Brian Cronin: And she can fly very fast.
Brian Cronin: So...yeah
Brian Cronin: "It's very complicated, Wasp. I have no time to explain to you that Hawkeye is going to go look for his girlfriend, who has been brainwashed by the Commies."
Brian Cronin: "No time at all."
Eileen Gonzalez: What I want an explanation for is why Power Man is here. The last time we saw him, he surrendered himself because Enchantress dumped him and he was too sad to do crime. I guess he got over it?
Brian Cronin: I dunno, seems like he was set-up pretty well to become a goon for hire, no?
Brian Cronin: Once he was finished being sad and the cops left him go, what else was he going to do for money?
Brian Cronin: I was shocked that the Swordsman actually acknowledged that he and Hawkeye share a past.
Brian Cronin: It was so weird how the first time they introduced him, they made a big deal of his past with Hawkeye and then they didn't follow it up at all.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, their connection kinda comes and goes, doesn't it?
Brian Cronin: Would cutting a stun arrow in half keep it from stunning you?
Brian Cronin: That doesn't seem like a good idea for an arrow, then.
Brian Cronin: The whole idea is that it stuns when it makes contact, right?
Brian Cronin: So wouldn't it stun Swordsman as soon as he uses his sword on it?
Eileen Gonzalez: To be fair, Swordsman's sword did get an upgrade from the Mandarin. Also Hawkeye's not the smartest.
Brian Cronin: How dare you? We saw him in a LAB!
Brian Cronin: Hawkeye is somehow a brilliant arrow SCIENTIST!
Eileen Gonzalez: OF COURSE I forgot that scene. Shame on me.
Eileen Gonzalez: Can I at least say the Wasp isn't the smartest? I feel like that's justified.
Brian Cronin: She is an electronics genius, too!
Brian Cronin: After her boyfriend explained it to her, of course
Eileen Gonzalez: But that doesn't do any good if she doesn't bring her gadgets with her!
Brian Cronin: She's also smart enough to know her best bet is to get others to help
Eileen Gonzalez: Considering she just barely outwitted that sparrow, that was indeed a smart move.
Brian Cronin: And yes...one of the most embarrassing moments in Avenger history, when Wasp was taken out by a sparrow.
Brian Cronin: Oh Heck.
Brian Cronin: Some of his plots are just so...yeah.
Eileen Gonzalez: I'd like to enjoy the battle that comes after, but honestly that sparrow thing was so bad. I want to see the Wasp in a real fight, darn it!
Brian Cronin: And the other fight involves Swordsman just waltzing into their control room
Brian Cronin: How bad is their security?
Brian Cronin: You're just sitting in a room
Brian Cronin: And a supervillain just waltzes in and challenges you to a fight!
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, you'd think they'd have updated their security since his failed membership attempt.
Eileen Gonzalez: But no, Avengers Mansion is apparently public property.
Brian Cronin: The fight scene WAS well drawn, though.
Brian Cronin: The one thing that all of these regular Marvel artists had was that they all were great sequential storytellers
Brian Cronin: The story that they were telling was not always the most compelling
Brian Cronin: But they told it really well and Heck did some excellent fight scenes.
Eileen Gonzalez: Agreed! The fight scenes are always the highlight of these issues.
Eileen Gonzalez: I see Cap has acquired another communication device that will never be seen again.
Brian Cronin: Right? Communicrystal?
Brian Cronin: What?
Brian Cronin: Man, Wanda's waist in that panel where they get the call from Cap...yikes.
Eileen Gonzalez: I like to think all the one-off gadgets got piled up in a basement somewhere and are still there to this day.
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, that drawing is... not great.
Eileen Gonzalez: She may be a mutant but she still needs internal organs!
Brian Cronin: The return of the Wasp and Goliath has really put the damper on Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's page time.
Eileen Gonzalez: We only have room for one male/female duo in these here parts.
Brian Cronin: Wasp hasn't been a member in a year, but she comes in and she can use all of the equipment to contact Hank.
Brian Cronin: While Hawkeye can't remember "1313"
Brian Cronin: You have to love Scarlet Witch's ability to be surprised by her brother's speed.
Brian Cronin: "Where did you go? Did you vanish? It couldn't be that you used your super-speed, because I'm just that dumb!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, that was just weird.
Eileen Gonzalez: I see the Swordsman still has his crush on the Scarlet Witch
Eileen Gonzalez: I'm glad Black Widow isn't putting up with that.
Brian Cronin: Good call.
Brian Cronin: It seems hard to believe that any wall would be dropped too quickly for Quicksilver to run under it, no?
Eileen Gonzalez: It would have be an extremely well timed wall, plus a bit of luck.
Eileen Gonzalez: But there's a lot of weird timing going on when Quicksilver runs--somehow he's still able to have a whole conversation with someone before reaching his goal at super-speed!
Brian Cronin: Yeah, it's almost as if they don't take it too seriously
Brian Cronin: But how can that be? This is superhero comics! This is serious business!
Brian Cronin: For the first time since maybe the time the Avengers started slaughtering those aliens while looking for the doctor who could cure the Wasp back in #14, the Avengers seemed downright FORMIDABLE, right?
Brian Cronin: All of Cap's leadership doesn't really amount to much when you add a super-strong 10-foot guy into the mix
Brian Cronin: Things just work out for you.
Eileen Gonzalez:Yeah, it's been a long time since we've had that kind of raw power on the team. It's almost refreshing to just see someone be able to go on a rampage like that.
Brian Cronin: It's like the classic Mike Tyson quote, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
Brian Cronin: Black Widow and her cronies had a plan.
Brian Cronin: And then Goliath just burst in and started mopping the floor with them and the plan was sort of thrown out the window
Eileen Gonzalez:Even Wasp gets in on the action... a little. Not quite as impressive as what Hank's doing, but she does give Black Widow a nasty shock.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, when she remembers her weapons, she can at least slightly irritate her opponents!
Brian Cronin: But then she does what she does best - gets the other members of the team.
Brian Cronin: This time, though, it's her freeing them, so it's a really good panel.
Eileen Gonzalez:And then Cap shows up and cuts a desk in half with his shield. I... guess it can do that???
Brian Cronin: RIGHT?
Brian Cronin: I was thinking, "Is that the first time we've seen Cap's shield cut something in half like that?"
Brian Cronin: The best explanation I have heard over the years is that Cap is just SO talented at throwing and catching his shield that he is able to avoid using the razor-sharp aspects of the shield.
Brian Cronin: Because otherwise, yeah, it really doesn't make any sense how much that shield is able to cut through things.
Eileen Gonzalez:The desk was secretly made of construction paper?
Eileen Gonzalez:That's all I got.
Brian Cronin: And right after I was all, "Man, Heck tells the story so well"
Brian Cronin: He totally botches the final page.
Brian Cronin: I think he just ran out of room.
Brian Cronin: The perils of the Marvel Method.
Brian Cronin: So we needed a whole hunk of text to explain that Hawkeye was about to fire on them but hesitated when he saw Black Widow.
Brian Cronin: Ooph, that was embarrassing on Heck's part.
Eileen Gonzalez:There's practically more text than drawing in that panel.
Eileen Gonzalez:It's unfortunate, but as you said, that tends to happen with this style of comic creation.
Eileen Gonzalez: And then we end with everyone feeling sad.
Brian Cronin: First, the Hawkeye/Cap scene was great.
Brian Cronin: But then, yeah, that old school, "Okay, let's end the issue with some emo bullshit."
Brian Cronin: Wait until next year's From a Different Point of View
Brian Cronin: When the Vision joins.
Brian Cronin: And it's like, "Man, let's get some ice cream!" "Yeah!" "What must it be like to be an android who does not appreciate ice cream."
Brian Cronin: That's what, "Let's get a breather." "Yes, a breather, which means get back to normal, but I will never be normal because some old army doctor told me so!"
Brian Cronin: It's not even like Cap said, "Let's get back to normal now."
Brian Cronin: He had to take Cap's line, twist it and THEN add his reaction to it.
Brian Cronin: That's a whole lot of effort to just be mopey.
Eileen Gonzalez: The title of Designated Avengers Sad Sack does get passed around a lot, doesn't it?
Eileen Gonzalez: First it was Cap angsting about Bucky, now it's Goliath, later Vision...
Brian Cronin: And then the others just start adding in shit while he's right there!
Brian Cronin: "The most powerful Avenger...and the most tragic."
Brian Cronin: He's right THERE, Cap! Chill!
Eileen Gonzalez: The Avengers are such a supportive bunch!
Brian Cronin: The next issue blurb sure sounds like one of those that Stan wrote before he knew what the plot of the issue was, right?
Brian Cronin: "Another major development!"
Brian Cronin: "There will be something about superheroes in the issue!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, yeah. It's generic but trying to sound exciting.
Eileen Gonzalez: "Something awesome will happen, I promise!"
Eileen Gonzalez: We'll be the judge of that, sir.
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!