Friday, April 10, 2009

Retro-View: The Avengers #143 (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Comics The Avengers #143 (January 1976) was written by Steve Englehart, illustrated by George Perez & Sam Grainger and edited by Marv Wolfman. "Right Between The Eons!" depicts a battle between time-lost Avengers members Hawkeye, Moondragon & Thor versus Kang the Conqueror in Tombstone, Arizona in 1873. Of course, this is a follow up to the previous issue when several of the company's western-themed heroes guest starred, and this time around, the Two-Gun Kid is still part of the mix.

After finagling the password out of one of Kang's henchmen, the team rides into Tombstone in disguise in order to launch an assault on his artificially constructed headquarters. However, before we are treated to that tension fraught skirmish, we briefly pop back to the future (our present) to check in on the rest of the Avengers who find themselves trapped within the walls of the Brand Corporation, thanks to the Squadron Supreme (last issue). Captain America hatches a nifty scheme which allows the Vision to free them from their energy-prison, alongside Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, the Beast and Patsy Walker (who will adopt her own superhero identity next issue).

The action then returns to Tombstone, where Kang has used 41st century science to unleash a monstrous, genetically modified coyote on Hawkeye, Moondragon and the Two-Gun Kid, who pretty much get the stuffing kicked out of them. Unbeknownst to the Conqueror, the remaining disguised member of the team, has quietly flanked him, and with the aid of his trusty hammer Mjolnir, the Thunder God called Thor knocks Kang completely through the walls of his own fortress and out into the streets of 1873 Tombstone.

Inside the citadel, Moondragon recovers long enough to mindblast the horrific beast before he can crush Two-Gun (who is obviously rattled by this experience) and then we see Thor lay some serious smackdown on poor Kang, whose only option is to release greater and greater amounts of energy, but whoops, he overdoes it and inadvertently destroys himself in the process.

The issue closes out with a quick manifestation of Immortus who tells the assembled heroes that the cycle has been broken and now, none of the visages of Kang will ever have existed. For those of you who don't know, that also includes Kangs latter identities of Rama-Tut and Immortus. At the end, Moondragon sheds a tear over the loss of another "god", since she suffers delusions of grandeur herself (having recently missed out on becoming the Celestial Madonna).

It's worth mentioning that the otherwise superb Gil Kane cover strangely depicts the Avengers contingent from the "present" battling against the genetically-modified coyote that the 1873 team encounters inside this issue. Weird! The early Perez art still holds lots of charm all these years later and Sam Grainger was a terrific inker over Gentleman George's pencils. The script by Englehart is really well done and exciting, and even with this issue being the middle portion of an extended story arc (not a term used back in those days), it was easy to follow along. Although I used to have issues in and around this one, I hadn't ever read this one until recently. Don't you just love old comics? And yes, I do remember that it is supposed to be "Gal" Friday today, but that post will be added a bit later in the day.

Relax! It will be worth the wait.


Wayne Skiver said...

Excellent era of the Avengers! Looks like you got some good stuff at your last Con!

Chuck Wells said...

I sure did, Wayne and I still have almost complete run of Kull the Conqueror/Kull the Destroyer to get through.

Those were given to me by my brother, along with the full, three original issues of Ka-Zar and several Kid Colt, Outlaws.

Good reading all around!