1978 · The 70s

March 1978: Avengers 172- In which we learn Wonder Man’s views on women.

Avengers 172-00 Avengers 172-01

Synopsis: Avengers 172 was written by Jim Shooter with pencils by Sal Buscema and opens with Hawkeye returning to Avengers Mansion and leaving the door ajar as he searches for any of his team-mates to tell them about the disappearance of the Two Gun Kid. As he does this nobody’s favourite fed NSA Agent Henry Peter Gyrich walks through the open door determined to shut the Avengers down.

Avengers 172-02 Avengers 172-03

Miles north in a convent, the Avengers head back after a battle with Ultron and Captain America disappearing and fly back to the mansion to find Hawkeye making eggs and Gyrich bound and gagged in the study. Despite Gyrich’s security concern, he didn’t get far when he got in as Hawkeye caught him and was about to call the police. The team (at this point consisting of Wonder Man, the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Iron Man, the Beast, Wasp, Yellowjacket and a visiting Ms Marvel) free Gyrich who points out that enough is enough and their privileged status with the US government and it’s allies is gone.

Avengers 172-04 Avengers 172-05

While dealing with that bombshell, Jarvis runs in and points out that the Atlantean villain Tyrak is attacking the nearby harbour. Fearing a battle on several fronts with the feds, Tyrak and the disappearances, Iron Man decides to split the team up. Vision, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye,  Wonder Man and Ms Marvel are sent to stop Tyrak (ok, just noticed his name is Tie Rack, how did I not noticed that before) while Yellowjacket and the Wasp are to call any Avengers that they can find. Beast and Thor stay behind with Iron Man, who decides to look into the fact that several Avengers, past and present are vanishing without a trace.

Avengers 172-07 Avengers 172-13

At the Harbour Tyrak is engaged from a distance by Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch, while Wonder Man, Ms Marvel and the Vision get up close and start punching. This is not going well, even with a hex by the Scarlet Witch. Tyrak tries to take her on, only to be faced with Vision, who uses his solar beams to dehydrate the Atlantean.  Realising that they can’t do too much with him, Wonder Man throws him back into the ocean, rather than let him die without water. The team head back home, save for Ms Marvel who flies off, but promises to return to the team, if only to teach them about what a liberated woman is. As they do so, Vision disappears too.

Avengers 172-14 Avengers 172-15

Several phone calls later, many Avengers are notified and a meeting is set up. Wasp points out that Beast has stolen a Quinjet and taken off as has Thor, both to be followed up in issues of Marvel Team Up. As the Avengers try to work out what has happened to several of their team, we are shown that an old enemy of the Avengers has done it, Captain America, Two Gun Kid, Vision, Jocasta, Quicksilver and Moondragon are already in his possession and he wants the rest.

Avengers 172-16 Avengers 172-19

Relevance: This issue is part of the run that contains the Korvac saga, so the mystery of the missing Avengers relates to that, but beyond that this is a bit of a skippable issue in the grand scheme of things.

Notes: This issue has a lot going for it, Shooter has a great team together and the ongoing subplots add depth to the story. The missing Avengers angle is interesting and the teams battles with the government, personified by Henry Gyrich is an interesting look at how the team interacts with the larger world. That said the fill on art by Sal Buscema is not as good as usual either for the title, or the penciller. Klaus Janson has paired with some pencillers in a fantastic way, I have enjoyed his Frank Miller collaborations and several comics he’s done with Dan Jurgens, but his inking on Avengers sort of muddies the art. It makes the pencil lines a bit scratchy, rather than the clean lines you normally find with Sal both in his 70’s work and his long run on Spectacular Spider-Man, but his art isn’t served by ink or colour here and it’s a shame. The 70’s sexism/chauvinism is very apparent here and it’s Ms Marvel who suffers most along with Wonder Man (“She hauls off and belts people…. like a man would”)

That said, my favourite part of the issue was after his wife being threatened, the Vision having had enough of Tyrak’s s**t and boiling him on the pier, ending the fight. Seeing that anger come from such a calm and seemingly unfeeling man, gives you insight into his character.

 

Next Time: Up nose shots a’plenty as Gil Kane pencils the man without fear.

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