Tag Archives: steve englehart

Search for Hu banner ad

Marvel, AAM-Markosia, Yen Press, and Harlequin all deliver New Releases on comiXology

There’s 13 new releaes on comiXology right now from Marvel, AAM-Markosia, Yen Press, and Harlequin. You can get shopping now or check out the individual releases below.

Marvel Weddings

Written by John Byrne, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, Stan Lee, David Michelinie, Fabian Nicieza, Jim Shooter, Roy Thomas
Art by Rich Buckler, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, John Byrne, Jack Kirby, Andy Kubert, Paul Ryan, Joe Staton
Cover by John Romita Sr.
Purchase

Collects Fantastic Four (1961) #150 And Annual #3, Incredible Hulk (1964) #319, Avengers (1963) #59-60, 127, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, X-Men (1991) #30. Reed and Sue, heart and soul of Marvel’s First Family of Super Heroes. Peter and Mary Jane, the spider and the supermodel. Scott and Jean, childhood sweethearts sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. Bruce and Betty, the beauty and the beast. Break out the tissues, True Believer: The House of Ideas cordially invites you to celebrate the history-making nuptials of its greatest couples in this keepsake edition! From the Fantastic Four to Spider-Man to the X-Men, with a few surprises in between, this commemorative volume proves the power of love can overcome all odds

Marvel Weddings

New Invaders: To End All Wars

Written by Allan Jacobsen
Art by Jorge Lucas, C.P. Smith
Cover by Scott Kolins
Purchase

Collects New Invaders (2004) #1-9. Soldiers, super heroes, sentinels of liberty since the Second World War – they’re the Invaders, and they’re back! In 1941, the greatest heroes of the day united to battle the Axis powers. Today, the Invaders have reunited to combat the Axis Mundi, a global terrorist network born from the ashes of the Third Reich. Beyond borders, beneath the seas and behind enemy lines, they hunt the hidden terrors that threaten civilization!

New Invaders: To End All Wars

Rogue: Forget-Me-Not

Written by Tony Bedard
Art by Derec Donovan, Karl Moline
Cover by Scot Eaton
Purchase

Collects Rogue (2004) #7-12. A bold new direction for the Southern Belle! Rogue may be a hero now, but once upon a time she wasn’t so sweet…and that criminal past may just come back to haunt her! A traumatic encounter will leave her drastically changed…permanently!

Rogue: Forget-Me-Not

Sabretooth: Open Season

Written by Daniel Way
Art by Mark Pennington, Bart Sears
Cover by Paolo Rivera
Purchase

Collects Sabretooth (2004) #1-4. The most brutal villain in the Marvel Universe returns! But has he gone too far this time? Did Sabretooth destroy an entire island of innocent humans? And what will happen when the U.S. Military tries to bring him down? Will they succeed – or pay the ultimate price?

Sabretooth: Open Season

So I’m a Spider, So What? #52.2

Written by Okina Baba
Art by Asahiro Kakashi
Purchase

Read the next chapter of So I’m a Spider, So What? on all digital platforms!

So I'm a Spider, So What? #52.2

The Last Magician #3

Written by Sean Meighen
Art by Thien Uncage
Purchase

Still grappling with his newfound destiny as the legendary Last Magician, Christian soon faces his first challenge when he is abducted by the demonic Shadow People. Will Christian be able to defeat the dark entities and escape with his life, or will his first adventure as Rookwood’s sworn protector also be his last?

The Last Magician #3

The Last Mundane #2

Written by Jorge Perez Bucheli
Art by Jorge Perez Bucheli
Purchase

Alliances are put to the test during Adam and his friends’ long journey to Nuke City, only to discover that there is no single safe place on their way to their final destination. Meanwhile, a lurid menace begins to take shape, led by dark forces and threatening to establish a new world order!

The Last Mundane #2

Monument #4

Written by Richard Perry
Art by RH Stewart
Purchase

As Nicole and DCI Venn seek out to solve the string of murders in East London, they both find different clues that lead them to who is responsible. Nicole seeks advise from her mentors whilst Venn visits an old enemy that he believes holds the key to all the answers.

Monument #4

Possession #5

Written by Michael Norwitz, Mary Ann Vaupel
Art by Enrico Carnevale
Purchase

“All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.” This issue turns away from the usual Possession cast for a tale of times past, in which the 1940’s heroes Shaman & Flame share a turbulent romance and confront the two-faced Head of Janus in a tragedy on the border of reality!

Possession #5

A Scandalous Proposal #2

Written by Julia Justiss
Art by Misao Hoshiai
Purchase

Emily finally realizes her love for Evan, which has liberated her. But he has to marry the sister of his best friend. A big hurdle is now standing between the two, and because she loves him, Emily decides to leave Evan…and return to the high society that she abandoned years ago?

A Scandalous Proposal #2

Another Time

Written by Susan Napier
Art by Jun Togashi
Purchase

Helen is being fitted for her wedding dress when her fiancé’s brother, Alexander Knight, suddenly appears. He stares at Helen with his ardent black eyes and asks her, “Have you forgotten that night in Hong Kong five years ago?” What is he talking about? She’s never met him before! But there are blank spots in Helen’s memory due to a past illness… Is there a secret between the two of them hidden in her lost memories?

Another Time

Claiming My Bride Of Convenience

Written by Kate Hewitt
Art by Imeri Tsubakino
Purchase

Daisy, a poor waitress, decided to marry multimillionaire Matteo after they met by chance. Matteo needed a wife in order to take over his grandfather’s company and he assured her the marriage would be for two years only. However, three years have gone by now and Daisy is still married! Exasperated, she asks Matteo for a divorce. But she’s shocked when he proposes that they make their relationship real. He’s never so much as looked at her in the past three years, and now he wants a real marriage?

Claiming My Bride Of Convenience

Conveniently Engaged To The Boss

Written by Ellie Darkins
Art by Tomoko Takakura
Purchase

Eva is the secretary for the president of a high-end department store. One day, the son of the president asks her to pretend to be his fiancée to comfort his father, who’s suffering from cancer. She agrees to do it, since she’s fond of his father. In order to keep up appearances, they stay at a hotel together and even choose an engagement ring. Immersed in their new pretend life, the lines start to blur between what’s fake and what’s real…

Conveniently Engaged To The Boss

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: An Avengers Retrospective Part 8 – In the Beginning Was…The World Within

Guest contributor Gene Selassie is back with his latest retrospective of Marvel‘s The Avengers. Steve Englehart takes the helm of the series as issues #105 to #114 are covered here!


First things first, I wanted to give a shout out to the audience. As we reconvene for the next leg of this journey, reading every issue of The Avengers from the beginning, I wanted to say thank you for coming along on this zany ride. During these issues, we see how a new writer at the helm fares. We also bear witness to the return of several villains that have close ties to members of the team. Moreover, we see affairs of the heart push a few Avengers to the limit. Finally, the icons on the roster have to juggle their responsibilities to the team with the goings-on of their own books, more than ever before. Hop aboard the Quinjet as we take flight.

Avengers #105

Iconic scribe Steve Englehart takes the helm of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes with issue #105. The transition in writing duties from Roy Thomas to Steve Englehart appeared seamless. I’m used to the modern era, where every new writer has to put their “stamp” on the franchise. These issues featured Englehart continuing plot threads from prior issues, such as Scarlet Witch’s relentless search for her missing brother, Quicksilver. Unfortunately, the demeaning writing of women continues. In issue #105, while battling Beast-Brood of the Savage Land, Lady Sif (one of several Asgardians staying at the mansion due to events in Thor’s comic) became overwhelmed and needed rescuing. FFS, CAN WE HAVE ONE DAMN ADVENTURE WITHOUT THE OVERUSED CLICHÉS WHEN IT COMES TO WOMEN??? SHE’S A DAMN ASGARDIAN! Issue #113 opens with the aftermath of an adventure from Astonishing Tales #18, where the Statue of Liberty was severely damaged. We now see the Avengers repairing said damage. Wanda is almost crushed by falling debris, but Vision saves her. I am completely over Wanda “Damsel in Distress” Maximoff. Though he tended to use more bombastic narration and had the characters use more slang then they ever have previously, Englehart was the perfect person to carry the torch after Roy Thomas.

Villains that have personal scores to settle popped up quite a bit during this series of issues.

  • Issues #106-108 feature the return of the Grim Reaper, who has aligned himself with the Space Phantom (not seen since issue 2). While the Phantom wishes to kill the Avengers, Reaper reveals the truth in that Wonder Man’s body isn’t able to be revived. Eric’s real plan was to offer him Captain America’s body for Vision’s mind to be transferred to. With the Space Phantom obviously having no intention of honoring their deal, Reaper sides with the Avengers to help take him down.
  • Issues #110-111 feature the team heading to the long-hidden X-mansion to assist the X-Men, who were besieged by an unknown assailant. Wanda quickly deduces that the attacker is Magneto. The Master of Magnetism arrives and takes mental control over the X-Men AND Avengers due to his learning to control the iron content in blood flow to the brain. I loved the X-Men costumes of this era, especially Cyclops’, Marvel Girl’s and Angel’s. Magneto’s plan was to attack a conference for the Atomic Energy Commission and force them to increase atomic output to springboard a rise in mutations. Thor, Black Panther, and Vision are forced to call in backup…backup in the form of Black Widow and Daredevil.
  • In the issues leading up to #114, we saw Mantis and a silhouetted associate planning on meeting and joining the Avengers. In this issue, it’s revealed that her paramour is the Swordsman, who has turned over a new leaf and wished to join the team to make amends. It was so annoying how Mantis only referred to Swordsman as “my man”. Can ONE WOMAN in this series not be defined by her significant other?

Though some of these villains are favorites of mine, I am thrilled that they only appear every once in a blue moon. Modern over use of these characters have made me care less and less about them with each passing year.

Avengers #107

Wanda and Vision FINALLY made their feelings known to each other at the end of issue #108, though some were not happy about this.

  • The opening page to issue #110 shows Thor interrupting a sparring session. He gathers the team in the communications room as they’ve finally received contact from Quicksilver. He explained what happened after the attack on the Sentinel base in issue 104. Lockjaw of the Inhumans teleported himself and Crystal of the royal family to Pietro, completely by accident. They took him to the Great Refuge and nursed him back to health. Along the way, they fell in love. Pietro announces that he and Crystal are getting married. Wow, that was fast, even for Quicksilver. Yet when Scarlet Witch tells him that she and Vision have declared their love for each other, Pietro flips out, telling her it is wrong to be involved with a robot. Man, for someone who constantly snaps at their teammates for not understanding the struggles of being a mutant, Quicksilver sure comes across like a hypocrite during this era.
  • Hawkeye, who unsuccessfully made several passes at Wanda in prior issues, handled the news like an angry teenager and decided to leave the team. He heads out to San Francisco to see the Black Widow…even though she’s currently dating Daredevil. With her not being home, Clint decides to hang out in one of the trees out front until she gets there. Good grief, Clint wouldn’t take no for an answer back in the day. At the end of issue #111, Cap offers membership to both Daredevil and Black Widow. DD declines on behalf of both of them, which ticks off Natasha. Though she was right to be upset at Matt Murdock making that decision for her, she then got mad when Matt peacefully departed. Both she and Clint have issues they need to work out before they get into any more relationships.
  • In issue #113, Wanda and Vision’s relationship goes public. A group of hate mongers are sickened by the thought of a mutant and an android together and try to kill Vision, via suicide bombing, to prevent “androids taking over”.

This was quite the rough opening weeks for one of the defining couples of this franchise. Yet, their love would endure for quite some time.

Many of the resident Avengers have a multitude of duties. The ones that have their own books (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Rick Jones/Captain Marvel, and Black Panther) are beyond swamped during this run, nearly to the point of neglecting their duties elsewhere, or even neglecting their secret identities.

Avengers #110
  • In issue #110, Black Panther has been urged to return to Wakanda to take the throne once again with no more extended leaves of absence. Before he can make a decision on his future with the team, a bunch of Black protestors show up at the mansion and demand that T’Challa return to Africa. These protestors break down the front doors of the mansion and try to take Panther by force. They are led by a reporter, who we thought was slain a few pages earlier. Panther falls under his mental thrall, apparently like the protestors were. When the other Avengers step in to confront him, the reporter transforms into the Lion God, the centuries-old rival of the Panther God. He sought to siphon off all of T’Challa’s knowledge about the Panther God, but the Avengers, primarily Thor, were able to subdue the deity long enough to free the Panther. T’Challa decides that it’s not just Wakanda that needs him, so he decides to stay with the Avengers.
  •  During the Space Phantom/Grim Reaper ordeal, Captain America was flooded with memories that he had no recollection of. These memories were of him and Rick Jones storming a HYDRA base in Cap’s own book. The memories were wiped from Cap’s and Rick’s minds as this was part of the Space Phantom’s overarching plan. During this era, it seemed like Captain America was in five places at once, given all of his adventures outside of the Avengers book.
  • In issue #113, after Vision is critically wounded by one of the suicide bombers, T’Challa, Tony Stark and Doctor Don Blake have to work to repair him. Tony has to excuse himself so he can “go find Iron Man”. The armored Avenger gives Steve and Wanda an assist. Another of the terrorists attempt to detonate. Iron Man flies him high into the skies right before the explosion. Suddenly, Stark returns to assist the scientists, letting us know he’s alright. He tells Doctor Blake to “go roust out Thor” and pretty much hints that he knows Blake is Thor. Thor was pretty good about keeping his alter ego hidden, so if Tony knew, who knows how many other heroes knew at this point?

One of the reasons that I’ve always gravitated to the Avengers is that, for the longest time, it was the central hub of the Marvel Universe goings on. Be that as it may, despite enjoying seeing the big guns on the team, it seemed that many really needed to take a leave of absence to handle their other responsibilities.

When next we meet, we will recount the second event story and first official “crossover” in Avengers lore, The Avengers/Defenders War. With heavy-hitters like Doctor Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and the Silver Surfer filling the Defenders ranks, how will Earth’s mightiest heroes stand up to such power? Until next time, Avengers Assemble!

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: An Avengers Retrospective Part 7: With a Bang and a Whimper

Guest contributor Gene Selassie is back with his latest retrospective of Marvel‘s The Avengers. The Kree-Skrull War is over and creator Roy Thomas departs the series after six years worth of tales.


Avengers #98

Fellow followers of those who fight the foes that no single hero could withstand, it’s that time once again. As I continue my review of every single issue of the Avengers from the beginning, the next leg of this journey deals with the fallout from the Kree-Skrull War. We see some characters coming to terms with their feelings for each other, others reverting back to their old ways and some finding themselves either completely preoccupied or in one case, obsolete. The coolness factor of seeing an adventure so grand that it requires every character who had ever been an Avenger increased exponentially as the very first instance of this occurred here. We also take a look at the more experimental storytelling by the creators during this stretch. Finally, we bid farewell to the steward of the last six years worth of Avengers tales and see what condition Roy Thomas left the toys in the toy box.

Avengers #98 opens up with Thor trying to pierce realms to return to Asgard, in the hopes that magicks there would be able to reveal the whereabouts of the missing Hawkeye. However, some unseen force prevents him from leaving Earth. Cap, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch confront an angry mob named the War Hawks. They seek to attack a visiting Asian dignitary. The Vietnam War seems to play quite a role in stories during the Silver AND Bronze ages of Avengers comics. A mohawked figure has his henchman play music that whips the crowd into a frenzy. Before long, it affects the Avengers on the scene. Thor and Vision investigate separately, with Vision being attacked by Iron Man, now under the same thrall that the other War Hawks were. Iron Man blasted Vision into the “Piper”, who somehow died upon impact. Thor uncovered the culprit behind the plot, Ares, the Greek god of war. Before the Thunder God could strike, Ares had the mind-controlled Scarlet Witch neutralize Thor’s hammer. The hammer is freed, from a blast arrow. Yet, no one saw which direction it came from. Hawkeye returns at the end of the issue…wearing a costume that garnered much derision back then. He doesn’t give an explanation for how he returned to Earth. However, he’s accompanied by a returning Hercules, who has no memory of who he is.

Avengers #99

Avengers #99 begins with Thor, using the power of his enchanted hammer (along with a device invented by Tony Stark) to jog Hercules’ memory. The device doesn’t work. Hawkeye recounts his encounter on the Skrull craft at the end of the Kree-Skrull War. Surrounded by shock troopers and no Pym Particles left in his system, Clint had to create a makeshift bow and arrows, to become Hawkeye once again. One of his errant arrows hit a main control circuit and caused an explosion. He got out in an escape pod before the entire ship blew up. Clint’s ship crash-landed in the former Yugoslavia. A traveling circus passed by and Clint hitched a ride with them until a torrential storm took Clint’s wagon nearly off the edge of a ravine. A strongman with the circus named “Hercules”, with blonde hair and clothing like a sideshow attraction, pulled the wagon out of harm’s way with his bare hands. Turns out, the blonde hair was a wig and the man was the real deal Prince of Power himself. They contact Tony Stark’s office to get a flight booked back stateside. Both Black Panther and Ant-Man, away on other matters, have been spending time working on a way to help Hercules, but to no avail. From out of nowhere, Clint makes a pass at Wanda, which ticks off Vision. At this point, Clint still is oblivious to the feelings Vision and Wanda has for one another. One who doesn’t let the obvious fly right over his head is Quicksilver. He asks Wanda for the truth and she admits her feelings about Vision to her brother. Vision also departs to the kitchen, where Jarvis offers his ear, as he’s done for so many throughout the years. He also can tell that there’s tension between Vizh and Wanda. Vision doesn’t know if she feels the same. Before any of the drama can play out, two Olympian warriors, Kratos and Bia, show up at Avengers mansion to retrieve the amnesiac Hercules. The Avengers put up one hell of a fight though. During the altercation, Wanda is injured (yes, again) and Vision attends to her a bit too long instead of helping during the fight, which Clint rudely points out. During the distraction, the Olympians, with Hercules in tow, vanish. Clint accuses Vision of blatantly ignoring the rest of the team in the middle of the fight. Wanda, angry at Vision for putting her above the rest of the team, just walks out. The rest of the team knows what they have to do to rescue the abducted Hercules, plan an assault on Olympus itself.

Avengers #100

Avengers #100 is a celebration featuring what has now become a classic and welcome trope of gathering every single person who had ever been an Avenger up to that point. Seeing Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Black Panther and the Black Knight all gathered (illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith and inked by the legendary Joe Sinnott no less) alluded to a tremendous adventure ahead. Black Knight summoned the entire team to Garrett Castle in England to discuss the vision he saw via the spirit of his ancestor, the original Black Knight. The Ebony Blade, which Dane tried to have destroyed on Polemachus, somehow made its way to the outskirts of Olympus, where Ares laid claim to it. The Enchantress, following the sword there, forged an alliance with the Greek god of war, promising to conquer Olympus, Asgard, and Earth. Ares used the sword to kill the Titan guarding the Prometheum flame. He then destroyed the flame and every Olympian turned to crystal, except for the half-blood Prince of Power. While in a sparring session, Hercules accidentally kills Phoebus, who was just turned to crystal. Ares makes his presence known and his minions toss Hercules off of Olympus. As he slowly falls through space down towards Earth, his memories begin to fade. The War Hawks debacle, Thor being unable to return to Asgard, the attack by Bia and Kratos, all a complex plot by Ares. Another former Avenger happens to make their presence known, the Swordsman. He stole one of the Avengers’ craft and used their surveillance equipment to ascertain what the meeting was about. He stated that he was an Avenger as well, even for a short time, and wishes to help. I had to laugh when they hinted at Swordsman having escaped prison, but no one bats an eye. Thor, Iron Man, Vision, Black Knight, and the Hulk head to Olympus to gather intel and mount a rescue of Hercules. Of course, it is a trap. The Enchantress lets them know that their assault on Asgard is next and their true target, the Odinsword, a weapon which could bring about Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse. Meanwhile, Captain America, Hawkeye, Swordsman, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Quicksilver fight off Ares’ forces in London. One would think that the Hulk would have smashed to his heart’s content. However, he was lulled, by the music of Satyrs, away from the battlefield. He just sat, chilled, and enjoyed the music like he was at Woodstock…until the forces that attacked Earth came back through the portal and rained on Hulk’s happy day. With Black Knight and Thor dispatching Ares, Hercules rescued and the Olympians returning to normal, the Avengers went through the portal back to Earth. Somehow, the portal was sealed by Thor and Hercules, whose fists collided at the same time.

Avengers #101

Avengers #101 is the famous Five Dooms to Save Tomorrow story that Thomas adapted from a Harlan Ellison story (one that was originally written for a Hawkman script but was rejected by DC). Rich Buckler filled in on art, doing a serviceable job on pencils. We open to a story where the Avengers are special guests at Stark Industries for a tournament between a world-renowned chess master (an arrogant Russian dignitary), and a supercomputer…a supercomputer called NIMROD. WHAT? I’m hoping this is just one of those wacky coincidences that happened in comics back in the old days. Just into the opening moves of the match, the dignitary crashes to the floor, with the Avengers thinking he’s having a heart attack. Once they get to the hospital, Thor buggers off, only to change to his alter ego of Doctor Don Blake. It’s apparent that Thor and Iron Man are still keeping their alter egos secret from their teammates. Cap had a hunch and kept the last chess piece that the dignitary touched before his malady. Iron Man scanned the residue, but even his computers couldn’t identify all of the elements. Doctor Blake was able to determine it was a poison from a remote section of Brazil. He lets them know that reverse engineering an antidote won’t be possible unless they find the person who poisoned him. If they don’t the dignitary will die and an international incident of the highest order would further stain America’s reputation. While the Stark Industries auditorium is empty, one man named Leonard Tippit was laying in wait until it was abandoned. Vision appears and startles the man. He knew that when the NIMROD made a certain move that was banned in Curacao in 1962 that it would force the Russian dignitary to make a specific move with a specific chess piece. Vision tries to stop him, but without warning, Tippit emits unusual energy, incapacitating even an intangible Vision. Yet Captain America appears and is able to knock out Tippit with just one punch. Tippit disappears, but as soon as the Avengers arrive, they all fall unconscious. Just after this, Tippit flashes back to two nights ago, when he woke up in his bed, thinking he had a dream. He is promptly contacted by no other than The Watcher. Uatu reveals to Tippit that he is a solid nexus point in all timelines and that a nuclear disaster will affect several timelines and only Tippit can prevent it. Uatu unlocks latent mental powers in Tippit. Uatu then tells him that he has to kill five key people…innocent people…who will give birth to key individuals that cause this holocaust. The Avengers share the vision as well and know of the plot that’s unfolding. They debate whether or not to intervene. The team finally splits up to intercept the other targets. However, Tippit seems to be able to be in all places, nearly simultaneously. He had only enough power to place the targets into a comatose state, not kill them, as the teleporting and battling the Avengers drained him. It was finally Pietro and Wanda who took him down and brought him into custody. The Watcher once again intervened. This time, it was to reveal that it wasn’t the five targets that would be responsible for the coming apocalypse, but Tippit himself. His power level was enough to possibly even kill Uatu. The Watcher sought to take Tippit outside of space and time, to be removed from the timeline forever. Uatu used the Avengers to defeat him. While they objected at first, Tippit himself saw how much of a threat he could become and willingly went with the Watcher in the end.

Avengers #102

Avengers #102 features the Vision being summoned to a closed frozen food locker to meet with the Grim Reaper. Eric still refers to Vision as his brother in a deranged manner. He remains hell-bent on killing the Avengers as payback for what happened to his real brother, Wonder Man. Eric reveals he has Wonder Man’s preserved body and wants Vision to not interfere with a future attack on the rest of the team, promising to put Vision’s brain in the body, making him human. Reaper also stated he booby-trapped the containment unit holding Simon. Vision is, of course, conflicted. Later, in the most clichéd TV soap opera moment ever, Wanda (on monitor duty at the mansion) is about to tell Clint she has feelings for Vision. But Clint forces himself on her and kisses her right when the Vision arrives. The Starcore deep space monitoring station picks up unusual blips flying out of the sun and heading towards Earth…it is a fleet of Sentinels. Quicksilver thinks back to their last encounter with the mutant-hunting robots in X-Men #57-59. He thought the robots were gone forever. Wanda gets dressed up and goes for an evening stroll. Pietro beckons Vision to go after her, finally understanding that both need to stop playing games and tell each other how they feel. Vision declines, only until he sees in the distance, something flying in Wanda’s direction. He jets out after it, with the other Avengers following. Wanda is attacked and captured by the Sentinel. I didn’t know these early models could adapt to mutant abilities, I thought that wasn’t until the NIMROD class. The one Sentinel holds off the entire team (Thor later stated he and Iron Man were holding back to ensure Wanda wasn’t hurt), then teleports away with Wanda. Pietro blows a gasket because the “so-called Mighty Avengers” couldn’t take one lone Sentinel. He vows to find his sister, alone.

Avengers #103

To start off Avengers #103, the team exchanges intel with SHIELD to locate the Sentinels, while Pietro explores an old Sentinel bunker he was once held prisoner in with the X-men and the Brotherhood.  He chases a lead to Judge Chalmers, someone who took in Larry Trask, the now orphaned son of Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels. Larry has amnesia and Chalmers was trying to keep it that way. Be that as it may, Pietro did abscond from the residence with Trask. While the team conferences with Nick Fury about the situation, Vision contemplates using the amulet that Grim Reaper gave Vision to contact him. Peter Corbeau, from Starcore, contacts the team to let them know something is causing massive solar flares in the sun that may soon reach Earth. The flare-inducing beam is tracked to the Australian Outback. Just as the team is about to take off, Rick Jones appears, intent on joining them on this mission. Cap, however, states that the mission is too dangerous and wants Rick to sit out this one. Rick is pissed, due to the fact that he saved the universe a few months earlier (Kree-Skrull War). The team flew off in an experimental jet that hit supersonic speeds, with an engine designed by Tony Stark and powered by lightning from Thor’s hammer, which was pretty damn awesome. Trask had an amulet around his neck that suppressed his memories (man, amulets were pretty popular this arc). Quicksilver ripped it off and Trask’s memories flooded back. Pietro felt guilty for exploiting a mental illness, but he felt justified because of trying to find his kidnapped sister. Trask revealed the location of the Australian Sentinel base. Pietro stated if they don’t make it in time, Trask will pay with his life. The team attacks the Sentinel base. I appreciate Thor discussing a battle plan. Sometime in the 90s-2000s, Thor went from strategist on par with Captain America to giant brute that gets trounced by the new villain du jour, just to prove how badass said villain is. Vision jumped the gun and they were all attacked by Sentinels. In a passenger jet en route to the battle, Trask discussed that Sentinels never had the ability to teleport. Suddenly, Trask concentrated enough and he teleported the plane. He remembered now that his father wanted to hide a dark secret. Larry is a mutant. In addition to teleporting, he can see into the future. He predicted not only the death of Pietro’s teammates but everyone on Earth due to a massive solar flare.

Avengers #104

Avengers #104 is the end of an era, marking the final issue of Roy Thomas’ six-year run on The Avengers. While the Avengers continued to do their best against the Sentinels (with Vision only feigning injury in the last issue to sucker punch a couple of their attackers) Pietro and Trask found an alternate entrance into the base. A captive Wanda discovers her captors’ horrific plan. They seek to use Wanda to boost the power of their flare generator to create enough radiation to make all organic life on Earth sterile, a loophole around the Sentinels’ primary programming; to not bring harm to any non-mutant humans. Once the human race eventually dies off, the Sentinels will genetically engineer humans, removing the possibility of mutation. It was The Matrix, by way of Josef Mengele, quite unsettling. Quicksilver outwits a Sentinel that can move nearly at his speed. He intentionally face plants into a wall, knowing the Sentinel was too large to change direction in time and the Sentinel smashes into a control panel, killing two birds with one stone. Yet, Pietro is injured, forcing Trask to push on alone to stop the plan of the murderous robots. Trask gets another vision. This time, he sees the complete annihilation of Earth and then…nothingness. The leader of this pack of Sentinels, Number Two, took command after the Master Mold, the gargantuan unit that manufactures the Sentinels, was destroyed in X-Men #16. Though it looks half-melted, it is the biggest threat, namely because it doesn’t have the “non-lethal against humans” protocol that the other Sentinels do. Before it can dispatch Cap, Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye, they’re saved by Vision and a now freed Scarlet Witch. A crude Cerebro-like device is noticed by both Scarlet Witch and by Larry Trask. They both notice it’s turned off. On a hunch, Trask activates it. Suddenly, all sensors home in on Wanda, Pietro, Trask…and Sentinel Number Two. When they flew close to the sun, some of the components and organics in the Sentinel mutated, making him essentially a non-organic mutant. This also gave Number Two the ability to teleport. The other Sentinels promptly turned and engaged Number Two in battle. Once he is destroyed, the Sentinels deactivate, one of them collapsing on and killing Trask. That is why his last vision was total darkness. He willingly helped the Avengers stop the murder machines built by his father.

It was around this time that Barry Windsor-Smith started experimenting more with his art, to amazing results. I loved the thin line work and more odd “camera angles” and expressions that really made his work stand out from the pack at the time. Speaking of amazing, I have to give credit where credit is due. Despite Stan Lee’s first three years with of issues, pushing the team as Marvel’s all stars, it was Thomas who really did explore the meaty dramatic elements with the secondary characters like Vision, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Black Knight. He really gave Vision his voice and had the foresight to plant seeds leading to the first “event story” in Avengers lore (The Kree-Skrull War). On the one hand, reading tales penned by him will be missed. On the other hand, I cannot wait to dive into the upcoming writer’s run once again.

When next we meet, we celebrate the debut of Steve Englehart as the writer of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The Grim Reaper’s scheme unfolds, with guest appearances galore gracing the pages of the book. We also build up towards the next event story, The Avengers/Defenders War. Until next time, my friends…AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!!

Valiant Classic Collections X-O Manowar: Retribution is Out Now

Experience the epic adventure that started it all for Valiant Entertainment’s flagship character in Valiant Classic Collections X-O Manowar: Retribution.

Witness the epic origin story of Aric of Dacia, aka X-O Manowar, originally published back in the ’90s in this digital mega-sized collection featuring 284 action-packed pages from the earliest days of the Valiant Universe. X-O Manowar: Retribution is out now and available to purchase on ComiXologyAmazon Kindle, and Google Play.

THE MOST PRIMITIVE MAN, THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON

Abducted from his own time by the predatory Spider Aliens and displaced to the present day, Aric of Dacia will make war on his one-time captors and any who stand with them. Armed with a sentient suit of battle armor and savagery born in an age of war, he will become the hero this new age demands. Tyrants from beyond time and space, superpowered corporate raiders, and corrupt government power brokers… all will quake in fear where X-O Manowar dares to tread.

Featuring groundbreaking work from comic-book legends Jim Shooter (Secret Wars), Bob Layton (Iron Man), Barry Windsor-Smith (Weapon X), Joe Quesada (Daredevil), Steve Englehart (Detective Comics) and many more, the complete adventures of Valiant’s original armored hero begin here in the first Valiant Classic Collection of the series Graphic Policy calls “a must read“!

Collecting X-O MANOWAR (1992) #0–9, and X-O DATABASE #1.

X-O MANOWAR: RETRIBUTION

Marvel and Harlequin Deliver 6 New Digital Comics For You on comiXology

There’s six new digital comics available now on comiXology from Marvel and Harlequin. Revisit some classic stories or enjoy some romance manga now. Check them out now or the individual issues below.

Avengers: Above And Beyond

Written by Kurt Busiek, Steve Englehart, Roger Stern, Roy Thomas
Art by Ian Churchill, Alan Davis, Steve Epting, Tom Grummett, Klaus Janson, John Paul Leon, Jorge Lucas, John McCrea, Pat Olliffe, Ivan Reis, Paul Smith, Jim Starlin
Cover by Alan Davis
Purchase

Collects Avengers (1998) #36-40, #56 and Annual 2001; and Avengers: The Ultron Imperative.

The Avengers learn what too much of a bad thing can be when they face a city of robots and a village of Hulks! And in other international news, Blood Wraith has a BIG problem with Ultron’s extermination of Slorenia! Meanwhile, Silverclaw shines and Triathlon triumphs in Kurt Busiek’s penultimate Avengers saga! Featuring the villainy of Ultron, Diablo and Kang the Conqueror.

Avengers: Above And Beyond

Captain Universe: Universal Heroes

Written by Jay Faerber, Craig Kyle, Jeff Parker, Christopher Yost
Art by Carlos Magno, Francis Portela, James Raiz, Paulo Siqueira
Cover by Daniel Acuna
Purchase

Collects Captain Universe: Daredevil, Increcible Hulk, Invisible Woman, Silver Surfer, X-23 and material from Amazing Fantasy (2005) #13-14.

Captain Universe is known as the name for the recipient of the mysterious Uni-Power, a special kind of energy that endows an individual with superhuman powers during a time of crisis. How it has determined its hosts in the past remains a mystery. Now, the unraveling of one of the greatest enigmas in the universe begins as the Uni-Power must possess a handful of Marvel heroes-Hulk, Daredevil, X-23, Invisible Woman and Silver Surfer-to save itself form an enemy hell bent on its destruction!

Captain Universe: Universal Heroes

Last Hero Standing

Written by Tom DeFalco
Art by Pat Olliffe
Cover by Mark Bagley
Purchase

Collects Last Hero Standing #1-5.

The great heroes of the Marvel Universe are vanishing without a trace! What has happened to Spider-Man, the Thing, the Scarlet Witch, Captain America and the rest of the MU’s heavy hitters? Spider-Girl, the Fantastic Five and A-Next must join forces with today’s superstars to uncover the answer – and the trail leads to a major Avengers villain! Does the presence of the Watcher signify the end of this age of heroes?

Last Hero Standing

Last Planet Standing

Written by Tom DeFalco
Art by Pat Olliffe
Cover by Pat Olliffe
Purchase

Collects Last Planet Standing #1-5.

At last! The long awaited sequel to last year’s surprise hit, the sold-out Last Hero Standing, which Ray Tate of Silver Bullet Comics called “a comic book mini-series that’s worth buying!” For centuries beyond reckoning, Galactus has consumed entire worlds to satiate his never-ending quest for sustenance, but now he has a new plan – one that may threaten the very existence of the entire Universe! Featuring Thor, the Warriors Three, the Avengers, Spider-Girl, the Fantastic Five and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard!

Last Planet Standing

Mega Morphs

Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Lou Kang
Cover by Lou Kang
Purchase

Collects Mega Morphs #1-4.

Some dangers are too big for even the Marvel Super Heroes; that’s when they activate Tony Stark’s newest inventions: the Mega Morphs! Super-powerful, high-tech transforming robots piloted by the unlikely team of NEW AVENGERS’ Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine — along with Ghost Rider and the Hulk?! Join fan-favorite writer Sean McKeever and superstar-on-the-rise Lou Kang for furious fighting featuring Marvel’s heaviest heroes in giant-robot action!

Mega Morphs

The Tycoon’s Marriage Bid/The Fifth Day of Christmas

Written by Betty Neels, Patricia Thayer
Art by Kuremi Hazama
Purchase

When Ellie’s delivery truck crashes, she is surprised that a handsome businessman offers to help her out. Normally, she is happy to reject any man’s advances, choosing to focus on developing her family’s wine brand instead. But something about this man enchants her. After he helps her, she expects to never see him again. That is, until he shows up later on her property, offering to buy out her family’s precious vineyard!

The Tycoon's Marriage Bid/The Fifth Day of Christmas

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Valiant Reveals their Classic Collections

Experience the epic stories that started it all. Valiant Entertainment is releasing Valiant Classic Collections, a brand-new line of digital mega-sized collections that feature the earliest tales from the Valiant Universe and its iconic characters. 

Up first are two action-packed stories from 1992: Archer & Armstrong: Revival and X-O Manowar: Retribution. In addition to collecting the complete storylines that spanned a year of publishing, these collections also feature bonus content like process artwork and in-depth looks into the creation of these fan-favorite characters. See below for more details.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG: REVIVAL

SQUARE PEGS IN A ROUND WORLD

Archer is the world’s greatest hand-to-hand fighter, an expert marksman, and a seeker of truth and righteousness. Armstrong is an immortal warrior who has reluctantly brawled his way from pre-history to modern times only to realize that the best way to face life’s many challenges is to grab a drink. But Armstrong counts as his worst day the one when Archer turned up and decided that they were partners – a team chosen by fate to save the world!

From the minds of legendary creators Barry Windsor-Smith (Weapon X), Jim Shooter (Secret Wars), Bob Layton (Iron Man), and more comes the first Valiant Classic Collection of the groundbreaking series!

Collecting ARCHER & ARMSTRONG (1992) #0–12

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG: REVIVAL is on sale now at ComiXologyDriveThru ComicsAmazon Kindle, and Google Play

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG: REVIVAL

X-O MANOWAR: RETRIBUTION

THE MOST PRIMITIVE MAN, THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON

Abducted from his own time by the predatory Spider Aliens and displaced to the present day, Aric of Dacia will make war on his one-time captors and any who stand with them. Armed with a sentient suit of battle armor and savagery born in an age of war, he will become the hero this new age demands. Tyrants from beyond time and space, superpowered corporate raiders, and corrupt government power brokers… all will quake in fear where X-O Manowar dares to tread.

Featuring groundbreaking work from comic-book legends Jim Shooter (Secret Wars), Bob Layton (Iron Man), Barry Windsor-Smith (Weapon X), Joe Quesada (Daredevil), Steve Englehart (Detective Comics) and many more, the complete adventures of Valiant’s original armored hero begin here in the first Valiant Classic Collection of the series Graphic Policy calls “a must read“!

Collecting X-O MANOWAR (1992) #0–9, and X-O DATABASE #1

X-O MANOWAR: RETRIBUTION will release on December 9th, 2020, and is currently available to pre-order on ComiXologyAmazon Kindle, and Google Play.

X-O MANOWAR: RETRIBUTION

People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 18: The Social Worker and the COP

When we last left our heroes, Captain America and the Falcon had returned to New York City after liberating a Caribbean island from Nazis and once again foiling the Red Skull’s Cosmic Cube machinations. Upon their return in #120, the question became what the status quo would be for the new partnership in their new environment.

(Pictured: two bros just broing around, casually shirtless.
It’s not like they do this all the time or anything.)

The new status quo would take a few issues to show up, but starting with #139, for almost two years – two years which saw Captain America and the Falcon handed off from Stan Lee[1] to Steve Englehart (by way of Gary Friedrich and Gerry Conway)[2] – Cap writers went back to one of the oldest scenarios in comics.

By night, Captain America and the Falcon would patrol New York City as vigilante superheroes. By day, they would adopt civilian identities that spoke to their ideas of civic engagement: Sam Wilson returned to his job as a social worker, Steve Rogers took up a new job as a cop. Both worked the Harlem beat.[3]

These are their stories.  

A People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 13: Cap/Nixon

In a weird way, I feel like I’d almost written this essay before I’d even started. Throughout previous discussions about why Captain America would rebel against unjust authority, or how he’d react to modern culture, or what his political orientation would be, one thing kept coming up: in Marvel continuity, Captain America brought down Richard Nixon.

To people who haven’t read classic Captain America from the 1970s, that factoid might seem outlandish on its own. But the details of how the saga actually unfolded are so baroque that they demand an in-depth exploration.

Rather that starting with an action sequence (as one might expect from a superhero story) or intrigue in the halls of power (as one might expect from a 70s paranoid thriller), Captain America’s struggle with Richard Nixon begins with a slice of life interlude in Captain America and the Falcon #166[1]:

In the midst of everyday class struggle, Steve Rogers notices a full page advertisement – on the back page of the Daily Bugle, no less! – attacking Captain America as a lawless vigilante, seeking to raise doubts in the minds of the Daily Bugle’s urban working-class audience (given the Bugle’s status as a stand-in for the New York Post and the New York Daily News) as to whether Cap defends them. Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema hint at the ads’ ultimate author through the Daily Bugle’s front-page headline on a presidential address from Nixon, positioning him as Cap’s opposite number both in the media and in morality.

Starting the story off this way is an interesting choice for a genre generally dependent on punching to advance the plot, as Cap can’t really hit back at a foe which is incorporeal, insidious, and above all immaterial. What’s at threat isn’t Cap’s person but his reputation, and more broadly Cap’s vital connection to the American public. We see this much clearer in Captain America and the Falcon #169, where Englehart and Buscema give us a full-page example of the propaganda campaign being waged against our hero:

This television commercial makes the political allegory clear: here, the Committee to Regain America’s Principles (CRAP) is an obvious stand-in for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (which everyone in 1974 knew better as CREEP). More than just Nixon’s re-election campaign, CREEP was the crucial financial link between the Watergate burglars and the White House through which Nixon not only paid the legal fees for the men arrested in the break-in but used campaign funds to attempt to bribe them into not testifying about the White House’s involvement.

The style of this attack ad – which positions Captain America as a dangerous vigilante acting against “recognized legal agencies” like SHIELD, subtly suggests that Captain America’s Nazi punching (note that the “private citizen” shown being attacked by Cap is actually HYDRA psychologist Doctor Faust) should be condemned, raises ominous questions about whether the super soldier serum has driven Captain America mad (shades of faux-populist attacks on “elitist” experts, from anti-vax to Brexit there), and once again raises the question of whether Cap fights for the “law and order” America of the “silent majority” or the America of the student movement and the counter-culture – would also have been familiar to readers in 1974. Only two years earlier, many of them had seen on their television a deluge of attack ads created or funded by CREEP against George McGovern’s campaign[2], as a part of a deliberate strategy of “positive polarization”:

(in case that embed doesn’t work, see
http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/flash/player.swf?id=4039)

While this liberal critique of political advertising might seem like an odd choice for an antagonist in a superhero story, this isn’t the first time that Captain America has run afoul of the advertising industry. In issue #157, Cap had already clashed with the ad executive turned snake-branded supervillain Viper and his Serpent Squad (later re-branded as the Serpent Society and later as Serpent Solutions), who’ll get name-checked later in this storyline.

Moreover, this focus on the media, advertising, and public relations was a common preoccupation of Marvel creators in the 70s and 80s, whether we’re talking about Steve Gerber’s run on Howard the Duck, Jim Shooter and Ann Nocenti’s take on Hollywood phonies in Dazzler, Ann Nocenti’s Longshot miniseries, or Louise Simonson’s run on X-Factor. This common thread wasn’t because Marvel creators were huge fans of the Frankfurt School, but rather because comics writers and artists were working in the broader media industry (Marvel Comics was located on Madison Avenue, after all) and were writing from their personal experience.

The media angle is particularly appropriate for this storyline, because there were deep connections between the advertising industry and the Watergate scandal. We see this more clearly when Cap goes to confront the bryl-creamed man behind CRAP’s ad campaign:

Quentin Harderman would have been instantly recognized by a 1974 audience as a stand-in for H.R Haldeman, “the President’s son-of-a-bitch.” An ad man at J. Walter Thompson for 20 years, Haldeman had managed Nixon’s failed gubernatorial campaign in 1962 and became Nixon’s Chief of Staff in 1969. Known to history more as the man who Nixon turned to threaten the CIA into pressuring the FBI to drop the Watergate break-in and the other man in the missing 18 ½ minutes of Nixon’s Oval Office tapes, Haldeman had previously been known for bringing Madison Avenue techniques to the White House, organizing tightly scripted public events, establishing the Office of Communications to coordinate messaging, and installing his fellow J. Walter Thompson alumni Ronald Ziegler as Nixon’s Press Secretary.

Not exactly Jon Hamm, is he?

After this tense confrontation, Harderman and CRAP set the next phase of their conspiracy into motion by luring Captain America into participating in a charity boxing match where his opponent turns out to be the Tumbler, a petty supervillain whose robberies Cap had foiled. When Cap pursues the Tumbler, an assassin hiding in the rafters (shades of the second shooter on the grassy knoll) makes it look like Cap has murdered the Tumbler:

While the Watergate scandal never quite made it to the level of assassinations, both CREEP and Nixon’s “plumbers” were known for using false-flag operations as part of a broader campaign of “ratfucking.” Originating in the fraternity politics of USC where Donald Segretti (future mentor of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove) and the future “mad men” Ronald Ziegler and H.R Haldeman got their start. “Ratfucking” started as a combination of opposition research, ballot-stuffing, and “dirty tricks” aimed at discrediting opponents. As was gradually revealed during the Watergate investigations, CREEP and the U.S Attorney General John Mitchell spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a campaign to disrupt the 1972 presidential campaign – this included “false flag” operations where Republican operatives like then-20-year-old Roger Stone would steal stationary from the campaigns of Senator Edmund Muskie, Senator Hubert Humphrey, and others in order to create forged letters attacking other Democrats or people of French-Canadian descent.

Similar to his real-world counterpart, Harderman’s objective isn’t to use the legal system against Cap – after all, an autopsy would raise unwelcome questions about the real cause of death – but to discredit him in the court of public opinion. In a truly baroque complication to an already complicated master plan, Hardeman organizes a “false flag” jailbreak and deliberately avoids killing Cap when he gets the chance (something else he shares with other supervillains).

As the bottom two panels emphasize, the point of all of this is to produce images – both of Captain America as a fugitive criminal and Moonstone as the hero bringing him to justice – that can shift public opinion in CRAP’s favor. (We also see Englehart elaborating on his media critique by pointing to both the prurient-yet-prudish audience and the passive news media who let themselves get worked by the Nixon Administration.) It’s also a good opportunity for some costumed fisticuffs in a storyline that is heavy on the talking and light on the usual super-heroic fare:

As antagonists go, Moonstone is almost painfully generic – the costume lacks any visual distinction, the light blue/purple/yellow color scheme doesn’t exactly pop, and the helmet takes away any distinctive facial features without adding anything to compensate – but deliberately so. It’s visual evidence (along with the fact that the reader has already seen Moonstone shoot the Tumbler on behalf of Harderman) that the man who intends to “replace” Captain America is a fraud, an uninspired phony cooked up by Madison Avenue hacks who lacks the deeper ideological commitments that Cap clings to even in his lowest moment.

The purpose behind Harderman’s build-up of Moonstone in the public eye becomes clearer when the pseudo-hero makes an appearance on television (which I’m almost certain is meant to be NBC’s Today Show, then hosted by Frank McGee, although it could well be a pastiche):

This is where Englehart moves from mere allegory to direct political commentary, directly commenting on the Watergate scandal.[3] What this page suggests is that, in Earth-616, Nixon tried to distract the country from the unfolding Watergate scandal through engineering the downfall of Captain America, in the hopes that political whataboutism would tar his opponents or at the very least that Captain America would be unable to speak out about the crisis at the heart of government. In this broader conspiracy, Harderman engineered Moonstone as “the stranger in the midst” who would replace Cap in the imagination of a public desperation to find something to believe in – and at this pivotal moment get “regular Americans” to focus on the conservative goal of “keep[ing] the ship of state afloat,” rather than getting to the bottom of political corruption.

Here we see Englehart and Buscema’s media critique at its sharpest, seeing the media as a passive, spin-regurgitating machine easily manipulated by political operative like Hardeman, and the audience as eagerly “lapping” up vapid celebrity gossip and mild titillation rather than paying attention to the real issues facing America.

Now that the Watergate issue has been brought to the fore, we get to the part of all of the best Captain America stories where Steve Rogers learns to connect his own struggles to broader issues of systemic injustice. And this being the Marvel Universe, the minority group bearing the brunt of repression from Nixon’s campaign and Administration is everyone’s favorite metaphorical minority:

A year before Chris Claremont’s run on the X-Men begins, we see an interesting extension of the mutant metaphor – not just “hated and feared,” mutants are being hunted like animals, not merely by prejudiced mobs but by a corrupt establishment. Indeed, the very language used by Professor X has some interesting connotations within the broader Nixon allegory: the term “open season” was used to describe a series of police shootings of Black Panther Party members which culminated in the shooting of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in December of 1969.

Beyond a mere cameo, Professor X’s intervention is crucial for getting Captain America to see that “the group that hunts you is the same group that hunts us” – the foundational element of solidarity. Moreover, Professor X’s more direct experience with persecution means that he can provide critical context linking Harderman and CRAP to the real enemy, the vast conspiracy at the heart of everything:  

While hardly a perfect person – Cap is understandably preoccupied by the being-framed-for-murder thing – this does demonstrate why Steve Rogers is a good ally. Not because he’s perfectly informed or fully enlightened (after all, he does start from a position of asking “how are your problems connected with mine”) but because when he’s confronted with new information or new perspectives, he doesn’t react defensively but rather instantly takes it on board and then acts in solidarity: 

As someone who hasn’t exactly been thrilled by how Captain America’s been characterized in crossovers with the X-books from Avengers vs. X-Men up through last month’s Uncanny X-Men #11, I’d like to point out this scene specifically to Marvel’s writers and editors who might think that Cap’s position would be the reflexive defense of the status quo. We already know which side Steve Rogers will come down on in a conflict between mutants and the state, even if it comes down to blows with Nick Fury and SHIELD, because he made that decision forty years ago. Nor is Steve the type to sleep on pressing issues of social injustice – if anything, his instincts are to act in a decidedly militant fashion. (Not that he’d always make the right decision, but rather that his “sins” would be of the “warm-hearted” rather than “cold-blooded” variety, to borrow a phrase from FDR.)

After coming to blows with SHIELD, Cap and the X-Men succeed into breaking into the Secret Empire’s base and learn that this “silent, subtle, and sinister war” against mutants has been launched for the purposes of literally weaponizing prejudice:

Operating on the (sadly, probably accurate) assumption that no one will miss mutants, the Secret Empire has been abducting heroes and villains alike to power their doomsday devices, treating mutant bodies as nothing more than living batteries for their engines of war.

All of which brings us to the question: what is the Secret Empire, and what do they want? As Cap learns shortly before he goes undercover to infiltrate the Secret Empire, he learns that they “like AIM, were originally an arm of HYDRA” who “broke away from the big boys, to try to conquer the world on their own.” This is a particularly significant association, because contrary to what Nick Spencer might argue, HYDRA is an inherently Nazi organization.

Add on to that already foreboding backstory the particular iconography and rhetoric of the Secret Empire, a group of white dudes who like to dress up in purple hoods and robes, stand in orderly ranks and throw one arm up into the air in the direction of their leader, and plot the overthrow of the United States:

The symbolism might mix and match a bit between Nazism and the Klan – with just a soupçon from the Prisoner in the way that they all go around with numbers on the front of their hoods which they use in place of names when addressing one another – but the overall political direction fairly straightforward. Englehart puts even more of a point on things when he has the leader of the Secret Empire refer to his organization as the “invisible government,” paralleling the Klan’s self-appointed title of the “invisible empire.” As allegory goes, this is hardly subtle, but I don’t think Englehart and Buscema are trying for subtlety; rather, they’re grabbing up the most charged imagery of the worst enemies of America from without and within and hurling it in Richard Nixon’s face.

Beyond being totalitarian anti-mutant bigots who want to take over the world, the Secret Empire have a broader plan which ties into what we know about the Harderman/CRAP conspiracy already:

As it turns out, the Secret Empire’s plan turns out to hinge on that peculiar neuralgia of the 1970s which Jimmy Carter so fatefully termed “malaise.” In part reacting to an unforeseen revelation of a real crisis – the Watergate break-in – and in part manufacturing a false crisis – the framing of Captain America – the Secret Empire is deliberately attacking America’s ideals and its faith in its of own institutions. In such a state of division and despair, the Secret Empire seeks to use the public’s “desire for a new, untarnished hero” to legitimize a fascist coup.

Because this is still a superhero comic, however, said coup takes the form not of a military junta but rather a mutant-powered flying saucer:

Fortunately for the survival of American democracy and unfortunately for the Secret Empire, Cap’s infiltration of their secret base allows him to first thwart their doomsday device and then pummel Moonstone into turning state’s evidence against CRAP and the Secret Empire both:

The result is a kind of liberal fantasy of how the Watergate scandal should have ended:

Like something out of Aaron Sorkin’s fantasies, the news media does its job and beams the unvarnished truth straight into America’s living room. And unlike the deeply conflicted outcome of the actual Watergate scandal, which saw relatively light sentences and the political rehabilitation of many of the Watergate conspirators, here the whole of the Secret Empire – notably including the “sanitation squad bombers,” a pretty clear reference to the White House “plumbers” – are brought to justice. This time, the long hand of the law reaches all the way into the Oval Office:

While Buscema never shows us Number One’s face – possibly for libel reasons? – Englehart’s portrayal of Nixon’s character is worth commenting on. In some ways, I think Englehart has a surprisingly canny angle (given the comic book nonsense he surrounds it with), describing Nixon as a man who could never be satisfied (after all, Nixon did his level best to steal an election he was always going to win handily), as a man who refused to accept the constraints of legality (hence the creation of the enemy’s list as a way to use the government against his domestic critics, hence the creation of the “plumbers” to pull “dirty tricks” that the CIA and FBI wouldn’t). And while it never came anywhere close to a coup in real life, there was a moment when Nixon was ordered to hand over the tapes where it could have come down to a conflict between the U.S Marshals Service executing a warrant and the U.S Secret Service obeying the orders of the president to block what he considered to be a violation of executive privilege. Finally, Englehart’s use of a poker metaphor as Nixon chooses to commit suicide rather than stand trial (speaking of something that would change America forever) even evokes Nixon’s skill at the game which made him enough money as a Navy ensign in WWII to finance his first red-baiting campaign for Congress.

Despite this complete triumph over the forces of reaction, though, Englehart realizes that Steve Rogers’ idealism has been strained to the breaking point. Thus, rather than exhilarating in his restored reputation or basking in the adulation of the American people, like many of the American people in the 1970s, Steve Rogers has to take his motorcycle and go in search of the American people once again as Nomad…but that’s a subject for a future edition of A People’s History of the Marvel Universe.



[1] An issue that otherwise focuses on a rather problematic Yellow Peril villain bringing mummies to life in the Museum of Natural History, but I digress.

[2] Incidentally, Roger Ailes of Fox News infamy got his start putting together Nixon campaign ads in 1968…

[3] Which at the time that Captain America and the Falcon #174 went to print in June of 1974 was in a highly delicate state, with the House Judiciary Committee beginning impeachment prosecutions against Nixon but before the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to hand over the tapes which would already bring him down. As late as June of 1974, Nixon’s approval and disapproval ratings remained tied, and support for removing Nixon remained below a majority and had actually slightly declined over the spring.

Review: The Death of Captain Marvel

The classic story, The Death of Captain Marvel, is back in an all-new printing! This trade collects Marvel Super-heroes (1967) #12-13, Captain Marvel (1968) #1 and #34, Marvel Spotlight (1979) #1-2, and Marvel Graphic Novel #1: The Death of Captain Marvel by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart, Doug Moench, Gene Colan, and Pat Broderick.

Get your copy in comic shops now and in book stores January 15th! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Titan to Publish Lost Jack Kirby and Gil Kane Prisoner Comic

Titan Comics has announced two new projects based on The Prisoner, licensed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the surreal 1960’s cult TV classic in 2018: an oversized artist edition of a lost comic book classic by comic book legends Jack Kirby and Gil Kane; as well as a brand-new comic series set in the world of The Prisoner by celebrated writer Peter Milligan and artist Colin Lorimer.

First shown on Canadian and UK TV screens in 1967, The Prisoner was co-created, written, directed and starred Patrick McGoohan. Titan’s new unmissable comic collections and comic series are set to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the first US transmission in 1968.

In July, Titan Comics will publish an art-sized, hardcover collection of Jack Kirby, Gil Kane and Steve Englehart’s long-lost, previously unpublished The Prisoner comic strips based on the cult classic.

This special oversized collectors edition will contain the entire 17 page Jack Kirby strip, the first six pages of which were inked and lettered by Mike Royer, as well as 18 pages of pencils drawn by legendary comic artist Gil Kane.

In addition to reprinting these rare pages, this collection also features unmissable bonus archive material including facsimiles of the original script as written by Steve Englehart.

The Prisoner: Jack Kirby And Gil Kane Art Edition (ISBN: 97817858662878) is just one part of Titan Comics’ exciting plans for The Prisoner’s 50th Anniversary year –alongside a brand-new comic series based on the cult favorite TV series, written by Peter Milligan with art by Colin Lorimer.

Titan Comics’ new series transports readers back to the mysterious village where everyone is a number, and features six amazing covers, including Mike and Laura AllredJack Kirby, a Patrick McGoohan photo cover and more to be revealed.

Almost American
« Older Entries