So, I started going through my Avengers issues. The earliest issue I have that has surrounding issues and makes sense to start with is #235. Its kind of a random place to start, but its also what I have to work with. I have #234, but I’ve already gone over that issue in a elsewhere – specifically focusing on the Scarlet Witch.
#235 was written by Roger Stern with art by Bud Budiansky for September 1983.
The issue begins with repairmen working at Avengers Mansion. (Apparently, this is the result of something that occurred in Fantastic Four #257). Wasp is flitting around nagging and bossing the workmen. Captain America is there as well, and he seems to be in a sour mood. We soon learn why he’s so sour: he is worried about the Avengers. Thor has left the team temporarily to attend to a personal mission in space (Cp. Thor #334). Iron Man has recently given up the suit because he has fallen into his alcoholism. The reservist Avengers, Scarlet Witch and Vision, are both in the medical lab – the Vision is in a medical bed in some sort of “coma” while the Witch hovers over him. Vision had been injured in a battle with Annihilus, which occurred in Avengers #233. Basically, Wasp is chairwoman of the Avengers, and the Avengers now consist of Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Captain Marvel, Starfox, and She-Hulk.
She-Hulk has been called in from the West Coast and she is jogging through NYC where she meets up and banters with Spider-Man. She relates to him that as an Avenger, she gets paid $1,000 a week. Of course Spider-Man is awed and regrets having passed up the chance to be an Avenger himself – back in issue #221.
The National Security Council contacts the Avengers and requests their help. The Wizard has escaped from the Vermont Federal Penitentiary and the NSC asks the Avengers to help relocate the criminal mastermind. Wasp gathers her team and divides them into two groups. Captain America will lead the Witch and She-Hulk to check out The Wizard’s home.
Of course The Wizard is at his home and has been devising defensive measures. And, actually, that’s the biggest reason I like this issue. I really like traps and puzzles for heroes to contend with. She-Hulk is “trapped” in a room with two doors, when she goes through one door, the room “spins” and so she just, basically, walks back across the room to the first door. And then she repeats. Finally, she gets wise and makes marks on the wall to help her ascertain what is happening. Naturally, when she finds out, she just starts knocking walls down.
The trap for Captain America seems pretty intense, honestly. He enters a room wherein zero-gravity has been established. As soon as he enters, he floats into the air. This isn’t so terrible, however there are also a lot of high-intensity lasers installed on the walls which shoot beams at Captain America. So he has to time his movements in zero-gravity to avoid these beams. In order to escape, he uses his shield to knock out a few lasers, and then he finds a working laser and shoots the rest. There is a frame depicting this where there are 15 lasers shooting at him. This is rich! Good old 1980s comics!!!! Woot!!!
The Scarlet Witch enters a room which, I think, is the most creative and interesting. Her trap is a room that a field effect that generates a pocket of non-causality. We are told that all actions have an equal chance of occurrence inside the room – nullifying Witch’s powers. I won’t give any more away, but suffice it to say, the Avengers capture The Wizard. They also realize that Wasp is quite a cunning Chairwoman for teaming them up as she did. The mission made the Witch feel better about Vision, made Captain America focus on more than woes, and made She-Hulk feel participatory in the team.
Originally this comic issue cost .60¢. I think that was a steal. Even though I didn’t have any of the background story (e.g. what happened with Annihilus? why is the Mansion a wreck?), I was able to read along and enjoy the story. We saw Captain America worried and intent on training and missions. We saw Wasp, as the oldest Avenger on the team, making wise decisions as their leader. Finally, we had a cameo by Spider-Man. The villain was stubborn, smart-until-dumb, and the challenges he presented were interesting. My world as a kid was very DC and not very Marvel. So its kind of fun to return to these older issues and read a good story that I didn’t have to get lost in backstory with. And even though this team is not the original, traditional Avengers, there is plenty of character dynamism involved to make the team engaging.