Fifty years ago, one didn’t necessarily expect fresh linguistic coinages to turn up in comic books right away. If anything, comics were notorious for incorporating slang words and expressions (especially those presumably favored by America’s youth) years past their peak of popularity– if, indeed, they’d ever been popular at all.
But in its incorporation of the phrase “male chauvinist pigs” on its cover, Marvel Comics’ Avengers #83 seems to have been right on the money.
Of course, the term “chauvinist” (which originally referred to excessive patriotism, and had nothing at all to do with sexual politics) has been around for over a hundred years, and “pig” has been a popular pejorative for a lot longer than that. “Male chauvinist”, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have taken off until the very late Sixties, concurrent with the rapid upsurge of the Women’s Liberation Movement. And based on what I’ve read, the full three-word construction of “male chauvinist pig” (at least in print) may not go back any further than 1970 — which is, of course, the very year that Avengers #83 was released.
One reason that “male chauvinist pig” took off as quickly as it did — and fell out of everyday use almost as quickly, especially among feminists — may be that many people didn’t take it all that seriously. As political science scholars Jane Mansbridge and Katherine Flaster wrote in their article, “Male Chauvinist, Feminist, Sexist, And Sexual Harassment: Different Trajectories In Feminist Linguistic Innovation”, American Speech 80.3 (2005):
The addition of pig to male chauvinist may have given the phrase greater popular appeal, first by helping someone who did not know what chauvinist meant guess at the meaning of the phrase and second by allowing the phrase to pass as a joke. Male chauvinist pig had just the right tone of improbability to lighten the criticism as a teasing term, expressed in fun, in a way that the more serious male chauvinist could not.
In other words, having a female character decry “male chauvinist pigs” on the cover of Avengers #83 could have been a way of signaling to the audience that the story within probably shouldn’t be taken as a serious exploration of the issue of women’s rights — which seems to be pretty much in line with the intentions of the issue’s writer, Roy Thomas. As Thomas put it in his 2009 introduction to Marvel Masterworks – The Avengers, Vol. 9:
“Come On In… The Revolution’s Fine!” was my own admittedly “lite” take on women’s liberation. I had no serious point in mind, and one or two of my feminist friends — particularly Trina Robbins, whom I’ve known and admired since the late ’60s — took me to task for it. I didn’t consider the story as making a statement, really, either for or against “women’s lib”…
I would hazard a guess that Robbins (a pioneer of underground comix, and one of the most famously feminist of comics creators), as well as Thomas’ other “feminist friends”, didn’t think that women’s struggle for equal rights was really a topic one could write about responsibly without taking a position for or against. And from the perspective of a half century later, Thomas’ “lite” approach seems even less well-considered than it did (to some readers, at least) in 1970.
But back then, your humble blogger was but a callow youth of thirteen years; and while I’d probably at least heard of “women’s lib”, I might not have known what a “male chauvinist pig” was even supposed to be. Thus, when I picked up this comic book, it’s likely that my primary interest was to see what kind of changes might have come to Avengers Mansion since the last time I’d checked in, a whole year ago:
One thing that had definitely changed since my last visit to the Mansion — and one that had nothing to do with the sudden takeover of the place “in-story” by the self-proclaimed “Liberators” — was the return of John Buscema to pencilling duties. “Big John” had been the artist on Avengers when I started buying the book regularly, back in 1968, and as much as I’d enjoyed the efforts of those who’d followed him on the title (including John’s younger brother, Sal), he was still the Avengers artist, as far as I was concerned.
I would also have been familiar with the name of Buscema’s inker on this issue, Tom Palmer, even though he hadn’t worked on any of the Avengers comics I’d read (he’d come on board during my hiatus, with #74). Rather, I knew Palmer’s stuff by way of Doctor Strange (where he’d inked Gene Colan) and X-Men (where he’d inked Neal Adams) — although I probably didn’t yet appreciate the importance of his contribution to the terrific artwork in both of those titles.
As the editorial footnote by “Stan” (likely penned by Thomas, rather than by the book’s ostensible editor, Stan Lee) indicates, both the Wasp and her husband, Yellowjacket, had been absent from Avengers since #75 — although, since they’d still been active members of the team when I’d taken my break from the title in October, 1969, I’d never missed them, and so the explanation was pretty well wasted on me.
Sorry to say, my younger self probably wasn’t fazed by Jan’s “powderpuff protest meeting” crack, as cringeworthy as I find it now. (It should be acknowledged, however, that the line was consistent with the “flighty” characterization Janet Van Dyne Pym had been saddled with ever since her introduction back in Tales to Astonish #44 [Jun., 1963].)
The inclusion of Medusa among the Liberators is rather curious, considering that, at this point in Marvel Universe history, the queen of the Inhumans had no connection with anyone else on the team, and hardly ever left her home in the Himalayas-hidden Great Refuge, besides. It seems that the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Girl would have been a more logical choice to join this all-women squad; on the other hand, Thomas (or Lee) may have felt that Sue Richards’ culturally-hallowed status as a Young Mother made her appearance in this context (i.e., a “‘lite’ take on women’s liberation”) unfeasible.
Still, Medusa seems an odd fit here. Even her sister, Crystal — who, until very recently, had herself been living in New York as a member of the FF — would make more sense. Or what about Marvel Girl, of the recently cancelled X-Men? Perhaps Marvel just wanted to give a boost to the new Medusa-featuring “Inhumans” strip then running in Amazing Adventures. But you do have to wonder if at least part of the problem was that, in 1970, Marvel had such a shallow bench when it came to superheroines that the choices for filling out the Liberators’ lineup were severely limited.
The mysterious Valkyrie’s arguments are, by and large, pretty weak sauce — at least as specific, direct charges against the Avengers. The one real exception is the Black Widow’s having been rejected for official team membership for no good reason. But although Valkyrie refers to Yellowjacket “grabbing all the glory for himself“, we’re not really shown that. As for the Maximoff siblings — well, it’s not at all clear how Pietro is responsible for the newspaper headlines other men write about him and Wanda. (Incidentally, the return to the Avengers of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver — who’d both been fugitives the last time I’d seen them in these pages, back in issue #53 — was news to my prodigal younger self. They had rejoined the team in issue #75, the same issue in which the Pyms took their sabbatical.) And the case against Medusa’s husband, Black Bolt, makes the least sense of all (just how does his silence, self-enforced to spare others from the destructive power of his voice, render her a slave?). Not to mention that he’s, y’know, not actually an Avenger.
But, as the astute reader will glean from the panels that immediately follow, strong and coherent arguments are really beside the point, here:
Medusa’s sudden acquiescence, followed by the Wasp’s, make it pretty clear that these women are under someone’s (probably the Valkyrie’s) malign influence. Unfortunately, this fact, in conjunction with the weak-sauce arguments, has the effect (unintentional, I believe) of minimizing the actual, real-world problems that those arguments are derived from: men’s usurpation of women’s rightful credit, sexism in the news media, emotionally domineering or abusive husbands, and so forth. Since these issues aren’t enough in and of themselves to bring the heroines over to Valkyrie’s side, they must not be all that important to begin with, right?
We come now to the part of this story that’s remembered at least as well as the women’s liberation material — and that’s aged quite a bit better, frankly — the first appearance in comics of the Rutland Halloween Parade, as well as of its organizer, Tom Fagan.
In one sense, both Fagan and the Rutland, VT event with which he became synonymous had appeared in comics well before Avengers #83, as the longtime fan had had a letter promoting the parade published as far back as 1964’s Detective Comics #327 (which, coincidentally, was also the first comic book featuring editor Julius Schwartz’s “New Look” for Batman). The inclusion of Batman* and related characters in the annual parade soon led to other comic book heroes (and villains) showing up as well, and this ultimately attracted comics fans to the event — including at least one fan-recently-turned-pro, Roy Thomas, who began attending the parade (and the associated parties) in 1965.
Thomas had actually given a shout-out to Fagan over a year prior to Avengers #83, in an issue of Daredevil which found that hero’s beloved, Karen Page, returning to her hometown in Vermont — a little place called “Fagan Corners”. But in 1970, he decided to go all-in, bringing both Fagan and his parade to full four-color life.
Of course, the Rutland Halloween Parade portrayed in “Come On In… The Revolution’s Fine!” isn’t a dead ringer for the real thing, circa 1970 — and not just because “real” heroes and villains show up in the comic. Another big difference is that one has to look very hard to find any sign of Batman — or of any other DC Comics character, for that matter.
In later years, when both Marvel and DC would publish stories set in Rutland at Halloween, they’d be rather more liberal in allowing the other company’s intellectual properties to appear in the context of the parade. But for this first outing, the Caped Crusader and his cohorts were mostly personae non gratae — though whether the reason was not wanting to give DC free publicity, or legal concerns over copyright and/or trademark infringement, or some mix of both, is hard to say for sure.
And so, Thomas had Fagan suit up instead as Nighthawk, the villainous Batman analogue he’d invented as a member of the Squadron Sinister the previous year, in Avengers #70. (Fagan would later pay tribute to Thomas’ story by cosplaying as Nighthawk for real.)
And having decided to write one real-life personage into his fictional Rutland Halloween story, Thomas appears to have then decided to go for broke, and work both himself and his then-wife, Jeanie, into the tale as well:
Jeanie Thomas’ “Mrs. Peel” line is pretty funny (although I didn’t get the joke in 1970, if memory serves), but does make her come off as a little ditzy. That, in turn, nudges Roy Thomas’ follow-up — probably meant to be read as affectionate teasing — into condescension territory, at least for this reader. This effect may have been unintentional; but, considering the theme of the story, it’s unfortunate, nevertheless.
The Masters of Evil were entirely new to me when I first read this story, I believe. I hadn’t started reading Marvel comics (or any comics, actually) early enough to have encountered the original, Baron Zemo-led group that debuted in Avengers #6 (July, 1964), and then turned up again every few issues for about a year. And while I had read a couple of Avengers issues by the time the “new”, Ultron-assembled Masters turned up in issue #54 (July, 1968), I wasn’t yet picking the title up even semi-regularly, so I missed both that issue and its follow-up, #55, which was the last time these bad guys had appeared. Nor had I yet read any of their solo outings, even in reprint editions — so Klaw, Whirlwind, the Melter, and the Radioactive Man were all unknown quantities, so far as I was concerned.
Yes, potential kidnap villain Dr. Erwin is very publicly riding on a float in the parade — along with his super-scientific, ultra-powerful, one-of-a-kind doohickey! Well, they’ve always been a little strange over there at Miskatonic University, as any H.P. Lovecraft reader could tell you. Or maybe he’s just a big EC Comics fan, since I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be the Old Witch in the bottom right-hand corner of the first panel, above. (Apparently Marvel wasn’t worried about getting a cease-and-desist order from the copyright owners of the “GhoulLunatics” — who, as it happens, were the very same corporate overlords who also owned DC Comics.)
The Vision and the Black Panther are pretty much down for the count at this point, while the Whirlwind goes on to give Quicksilver a good run (whirl?) for his money, and the Radioactive Man binds Goliath with a couple of blasts from his cement gun (jeez, I hope that stuff’s not radioactive). Also at around this point, the Rutland Halloween Parade fades from the story as an active plot element; basically, from the moment that Goliath shouts “Clear the streets, everybody!” on page 10, we could be in Anytown, USA.
And just about when you start to wonder if they’ll ever show up again, the Lady Liberators finally return to our tale — on page 14 of a 20 page story:
Valkyrie’s “war cry to remember” is certainly striking, isn’t it? Interestingly, save for changing the singular form of “pig” to the plural, it also happens to be a word-for-word quote of the title of an article about the women’s liberation movement by Morton Hunt (apparently a very unsympathetic one) that appeared in the May, 1970 issue of Playboy magazine.
I guess that Roy Thomas could have come across the slogan somewhere else, and had never seen or heard of this article at all; but, well… let’s just say I wouldn’t take that bet.
Gasp! It’s the Enchantress! That otherwise-nameless (in 1970, anyway) Asgardian sorceress who, along with her boyfriend — the equally moniker-challenged Executioner — was introduced as a nemesis for the mighty Thor way back in Journey into Mystery #103 (Apr., 1964), and who (again with the Executioner) joined the original Masters of Evil in Avengers #7 (Aug., 1964).
Unlike the four members of the “new” Masters introduced earlier in the story, these characters weren’t completely new to me in October, 1970, as by this time I’d picked up Avengers Annual #1 (Sept., 1967), in which they’d both appeared, as a back issue.
Uh-oh. You can see where this is going, right? The Valkyrie’s supposed militant feminism is about to be reduced to being nothing more meaningful than the Enchantress’ rage at having been abandoned by her lover:
Of course, the Enchantress isn’t dead. (In fact, she’ll be back in the very next issue! Check back here next month to learn more.) Nevertheless, she has been thoroughly defeated — and considering all of the elaborate scheming and subterfuge she’s employed to get to this point (not to mention all the ancillary fighting), her being taken out so quickly and cleanly by a single hex sphere from the Scarlet Witch seems a little… abrupt. But, hey, this is page 20, so…
Thomas earns a point or two for allowing the two female Avengers the final word in the “debate” that closes his story.** But then he kind of spoils things by couching the whole business in terms of the so-called “battle of the sexes” — with the clear implication that the debate is intractable, eternal, hard-wired, so whaddaya gonna do? — rather than it involving a struggle for basic equality: an understandable, and hopefully achievable goal. Such a stance, unfortunately, can’t help but devalue that struggle; so, while Thomas may not have wanted to make a political statement with his little “offbeat Halloween saga”, in the end his attempt not to do so makes a statement in and of itself.
As noted at the beginning of this post, “male chauvinist pig” was something of a vogue term, which was very popular for a relatively short time. According to Mansbridge and Flaster’s research, usage of both that phrase and the slightly less colorful “male chauvinist” peaked in 1972 (at least as measured by their appearances in The New York Times), eventually being superseded by more straightforward terms such as “sexist”.
The phrase still had plenty of life in it in 1971, however, so it’s no surprise that it graced the cover of the comic featuring Valkyrie’s second appearance, just as it had for her first outing. (As with her debut, this tale was scripted by Roy Thomas.) This time, the Valkyrie wasn’t a disguised Enchantress, but rather a young woman named Samantha Parrington who had the Valkyrie’s persona (and powers) sorcerously imposed upon her by the original model in Incredible Hulk #142 (Aug., 1971). Like the original version of the character, this incarnation didn’t last beyond a single issue, with Ms. Parrington being restored to her ordinary mortal self by the end .
The third time proved to be the charm, however, as writer Steve Englehart brought the Valkyrie into the formerly all-male Defenders in the fourth issue of that “non-team”‘s ongoing title (Feb., 1973). Once again, the Enchantress transformed a young mortal woman into the Valkyrie; but since the host, Barbara Norris, had been driven insane prior to her investiture, this time Marvel could get away with not having her transformed back to “normal” (at least, not right away). Eventually, of course, the Valkyrie “persona” would be revealed to be the living essence of an actual Asgardian person, Brunnhilde — and thus not just a Valkyrie, but, per German composer Richard Wagner, the Valkyrie.
While her Defenders #4 cover dialogue eschewed any specific references to “male chauvinist pigs”, the new Valkyrie did decry “puny males” thereon. Nevertheless, Englehart quickly dialed down the new Defender’s “man-hating” rhetoric in his stories, while keeping the warrior woman’s feminism intact. This change in approach may have reflected the growing normalization of feminist ideas in American culture, but it was likely also prompted by the need to have Valkyrie, who’d previously been used as a villain, get along well enough with her male teammates for her to function as a hero. Whatever the impetus for the change, however, the ultimate result was that Valkyrie became a character, rather than just a caricature; that, in turn, helped her have a long, active career in the Marvel Universe as a dependable utility player — even if she never quite rose to the ranks of the “A”-list — all the way up to her untimely end in Marvel’s 2019 War of the Realms event.
I mentioned earlier that Avengers #83 was my first new issue of the title after a whole year away. As regular readers of this blog will recall, for a period of time extending from the fall of 1969 well into the spring of 1970, I largely lost interest in comic books. A half century and more later, I don’t remember exactly why — but I’m pretty certain that Marvel Comics’ institution of a new “no continued stories” policy, as announced by Stan Lee in the publisher’s comics released in July, 1969, played a significant role. Without its complex, ongoing, interlacing storylines, the Marvel Universe was, for me, simply a less engaging place.
Lee actually started backpedaling a bit as early as October, 1969 — ironically, the same month that the last issue of Avengers I bought for a year, #71, came out — with a “Stan’s Soapbox” column that tried to reassure Marveldom Assembled that, of course, Marvel wasn’t going to eliminate their “swingin’ sub-plots”, so everyone should just calm down, OK? That wasn’t enough for my younger self, however, and apparently it wasn’t enough for many other fans, as well — because in his “Soapbox” column for Marvel comics published in October, 1970, Lee finally, and officially, threw in the towel:
Of course, if you take Stan the Man’s words at face value, Marvel had actually resumed running continued stories as the company norm months ago, and many fans hadn’t even noticed. Unfortunately, that assertion is somewhat belied by the fact that, as of October, ’70, the publisher was still putting out plenty of done-in-ones as well — including the very issue of Avengers we’ve been discussing in this post, where the “Stan’s Soapbox” column shown above was published.
It’s somewhat ironic that Roy Thomas was still turning out single-issue stories for Avengers this late in the game, since Avengers had been one of the last Marvel series to move away from serial storytelling in the first place. (#71 had featured the final chapter of a trilogy.) Maybe the guy just liked to work really far ahead? And, in fact, Thomas — with Buscema and Palmer — had one more done-in-one coming up the very next month, in issue #84.
And it was a pretty good one, too. Come back next month, and I’ll tell you all about it.
*Fagan’s ‘Tec #327 letter indicates that “a law enforcement officer” originally portrayed Batman in the parade, although in all the articles I’ve read on the topic, Fagan himself is the only person mentioned as assaying the role in its formative years. (Fagan, who died in 2008 — just a few days before Halloween — was a newspaperman by profession.)
**The suggestion that the Lady Liberators might return some day would eventually bear fruit, though it would take nearly four decades, and ultimately involved a mostly different roster of superheroic women. Out of the original lineup from Avengers #83, only Valkyrie and Black Widow made the cut for the new group featured in Hulk (2008 series) #9 (Jan., 2009). Still, the fact that Marvel could by then easily field a team of nine female stalwarts without needing to draw heavily on the original squad signified just how much deeper the bench had gotten in 38 years — a net gain, I’d say.
i was hoping that you would cover this one Alan. As usual, very well researched with a lot of historical context. I have two non-researched comments to add. First, the use of the word “pig”, might have been a jump from the use of the word in this era to disparage policemen breaking up anti-war protests. Second, while the usage of the phrase “male chauvinist pig” may have peaked by 1972, it had a big last gasp resurgence in 1973 when 55 year old self-styled chauvinist huckster Bobby Riggs challenged top women professional tennis players to matches. He beat Margaret Court before famously losing to Billie Jean King. Riggs sold merchandise to his supporters showing that they were members of “Riggs’ Pigs”.
I’m sorry to say that as a nine-year son of the patriarchy in 1970, I took a dim view of women’s lib and the women’s actions in this issue. Looking back on it now (I reread this issue a couple of weeks ago on Marvel Unlimited), it’s pretty obvious how I could look at this issue smugly and condescendingly. As you noted, the whole idea is weak. How did these women come to be “assembled” in Avengers’ Mansion anyway? What are Medusa and the Black Widow doing there (other than to plug “Amazing Adventures” I guess)? The reasoning put forth by the Valkyrie, as you point out, either is weak, irrelevant or makes no sense (although the Valkyrie might have tried to convince the Wasp by reminding her that she is the one that takes minutes at Avengers’ meetings as if she was required to be the secretary because she is a woman–that visual happened in some issue in 1968 or 1969, I forget which issue). I did not pick up on the mind control then, nor did I think by the end of the issue that the mind control excused their behavior. I saw nothing contradictory about the Enchantress’ self-centered rationale for her scheme. I thought that the other women were well punished for their foolishness and that, as Rascally Roy put it at the end, women will be complaining to men until the end of time. Fortunately, as I got older and left my small town, I evolved.
Of course, the plot as a whole is ridiculous. As you pointed out, having a scientist in a parade carrying an invention that would be most coveted by evildoers is beyond credibility. The Enchantress’ scheme for the device also seems very odd for an Asgardian sorceress. I don’t want to steal your thunder from next month’s entry, but I was reading the follow-up issue yesterday and not only was I shocked to see the Enchantress return so quickly from her apparent end, but that neither she nor the Avengers’ make a reference to the previous issue other than someone saying “so that’s where you went to!” or something like that.
On the other hand, I fondly remember this issue for the Rutland Halloween parade cross-over. When I hopped onto Marvel Unlimited, I re-read all of the Rutland stories and now that I am with D.C. Universe, I (hopefully) can re-read the D.C. stories. I was also completely clueless about the Mrs. Peel (btw RIP) comment in 1970. While it is funny, I agree with you that in the context of the story, it looks like Roy making his wife look ditzy and Roy verbally getting her back in line (although the line could have been meant by fictional Jeannie as an intentional joke). Perhaps this was the beginning of the downfall of their marriage.
One thing I’ve always wondered about is how Marvel could get away with its legal boilerplate on the front page of each issue that no person living or dead was intentionally portrayed in the issue. I actually used to look to see if the disclaimer was there in issues like this one and was puzzled to see that it was (yes, I did this in 1970 when I was nine). I’ve been re-reading comments as an escape from the world and am thwarted whenever Marvel puts Trump in one of its issues from the 1980s and 1990s.
By the way, since this was the first Avengers’ issue you picked up after your hiatus, I don’t know if you are aware now that the issues immediately prior to this one was a multi-part story about the Zodiac.
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Thanks as always for the detailed and thoughtful commentary, Stu! I’m glad that we both managed to evolve past our patriarchal mindset circa 1970.
Re: the Zodiac — I did indeed miss their early Avengers appearances (including their intro in #72), so when they turned up again in Iron Man and Daredevil in December, I had a pretty steep learning curve. Which you can read all about in just a couple of months. 🙂
This issue has gotten a lot of attention in my sphere lately! The “Titan Up the Defense” podcast recently devoted an excellent episode to it, and now I get to read Alan’s Inestimable Appraisal over here in the Attack Arena! Sometimes, a decades old comic book written about a social issue can surprise you: even though it (very likely) hasn’t aged well, you can see a kernel of sincere effort in there, and end up respecting the work for at least that much. This comic book, however, is not one of those works. It’s more timely than most, as you mentioned, but the content consistently points to a condescending attitude about the matter more than it does to any serious consideration of it. It feels, if anything, more like a cheap attention-grabbing stunt than anything else: “Hey, you’ve heard about that kooky Women’s Lib stuff, right? Well, we’ve got them some of that in this here crazy comic book!” Of course, the female heroes involved could only be convinced to collaborate with such a conspiracy by sinister and sorcerous seduction! Having the “issue” split its page count with a Halloween Parade story that the author obviously cares more about is pretty disappointing, too. Well, even great creators are sometimes simply products of their time; you can’t be ahead of the curve on every front at once, eh?
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Yeah, it might have been a better comic if Thomas had gone all in on the Rutland stuff and skipped the Lady Liberators entirely. On the other hand, the Valkyrie turned out to be a decent character (via Englehart), and she had to start somewhere, so…
I doubt anybody would declare Avengers #83 to be Roy Thomas’ greatest achievement as a writer. But hey, it’s a comic book so they can get away with anything…
IMHO, Valkyrie looked to be one of the more promising new characters to be introduced into the Marvel Universe back in 1970, misandrous attitudes included. In fact her misandry is probably the most appealing and interesting thing about her. Just reading your account of Avengers #83, I immediately saw her as having great possibilities as a recurring character in the Asgardian stories of the mighty Thor. After all, the Valkyrie are something out of Norse mythology. I could see her tagging along with the Warriors Three on some misadventure or giving Balder the Brave pure hell. Asgard definitely could have used a few more females back in 1970 especially a real woman warrior or two (Sif, Thor’s girl friend back in the Lee/Kirby era looked to me to be more of Playboy Playmate than an Asgardian Warrior-woman.) Too bad Roy chickened out on Valkyrie at the end of the story. But that was 50 years ago. and I didn’t keep up on things in the Marvel Universe after Jack Kirby left for DC, so I really don’t know how things went.
Regarding the Enchantress’ rage at having been abandoned by her lover, the Executioner. I would think the Enchantress would be fed up with being stuck with some big time loser and more than happy to be rid of him. There appear to be plenty of warriors in Asgard and very few if any females, so the Enchantress could have picked and chosen whoever she desired. Karnilla, the Norn Queen, for one, used to pick off Asgardian Warriors like a sniper back in the day. The Enchantress was probably the hottest item in the place. If word had gotten around Asgard that the Executioner had broken up with the Enchantress…
One last comment. John Buscema was an absolute workhorse of a comic book artist for sheer volume of output. In November, 1970, he was the artist for Avengers, Mighty Thor and Fantastic Four. What would Stan Lee have done, who would he have turned to after Jack Kirby left if John Buscema wasn’t there?
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Joshua, you’re right about Buscema. It’s hard to imagine what Lee would have done without him (and to a lesser extent, Romita) to pick up the “house style” torch following Kirby’s departure.
And I appreciate your assessment of Valkyrie from the perspective of a reader who more or less stopped following Marvel after the Silver Age. You probably picked up a bit of this from the post, but the character (a later version of her, anyway)was indeed eventually established as being a bona fide Asgardian — although, with a couple of exceptions, she never figured into the storylines in Thor at all — which is sort of odd when you think about it. A couple of years after this story, however, Gerry Conway and John Buscema introduced a new woman warrior of Asgard, Hildegarde, who fulfilled the story functions you describe to some extent. Keep reading, and the blog will get to her eventually. 🙂
@Stu: I well remember that cringey Wasp image of her taking meeting minutes, it’s from Avengers #72, drawn by Sal Buscema. (I rationalize it that they rotated minutes-takers, and it just happened to be Jan’s turn to take minutes–but you know that’s probably not the case.) Even back then that cliched depiction gave me pause. I know it was “the times”, but lots of artists drew women in stereotypical roles back then, including Kirby–he had Sue and Crystal in aprons in issues; Crystal doing housework, etc.–and Neal Adams–had Lorna Dane taking charge of dishes after a meal in X-Men #60. And yes, for Marvel I’m looking at the artists here, as it’s well-known the pencilers had carte blanche back then (rarely worked from scripts).
As for Avengers #83, it used the same old device that was used in the Legion stories about the female heroes taking over, in Adventure #326 (1964) and #368 (1968) –mind control. IMO the only saving grace about this issue (apart form the art) was that Wanda, a favorite of mine, was prominently featured and was the one who saved the day.
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Sharon, thanks for your comments! Someone else shared the covers to those two Legion stories on Facebook yesterday, as a response to the blog post. Prior to that I had no idea DC had done one such story, let alone two — but, of course, it’s exactly the kind of gimmicky story Weisinger loved.
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As I observed on Facebook, the design for Valkyrie (by John Buscema?) is definitely great and distinctive, so it is not surprising that, rather than just using it as a one-off disguise for the Enchantress, it was very soon brought back, first by Roy Thomas, and then by Steve Englehart, with Val becoming an actual, long-lasting character.
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I wonder if the decision to not include Sue in the Lady Liberators was influenced by Jean’s use of the Invisible Girl costume?
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Ah! Could be!
Another great post, Alan– but I’m sure that Batman IS in at the Halloween event– isn’t that him just below the upraised arm of the kid in white being carried by a pipe-smoking dad?
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Ha! You’re right! I guess Thomas and Buscema figured they could get away with that much of a cameo by a DC character.
This remains one of my favorite comics from this era. Although at the time I eagerly welcomed Marvel’s no continued story policy, I saw its limitations pretty quickly. I wonder if sales went down after it was instituted? Anyway this story works perfectly as a stand alone. Not a huge fan of Buscema, his artwork sparkled under Tom Palmer’s inks (like Neal Adams, Gene Colan and pretty much any one else he inked). The storyline was light and breezy. Loved the surprise ending with the reveal of Valkyrie’s identity and motivations. So like # 77, another Thomas/Buscema/Palmer stand-alone masterpiece, this comic hit on every level: story line, artwork, characterization and introduction of new characters that would become a major part of the Marvel Universe.
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Anyone else think the panel of Amora on pg 19 looks like her face is Romita’s work?
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Hmmm… could be!