Avengers #99 (May, 1972)

Like its immediate predecessor, the second installment of writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith’s three-part follow-up to the Kree-Skrull War leads off with a cover inked by Windsor-Smith, but pencilled by John Buscema.  If you happen to have read our post about part one, aka Avengers #98, then you may recall that your humble blogger was obliged to confess therein that he’d gone close to five decades not realizing that Buscema had anything to do with that book’s cover, never having recognized any hand at work on it save for that of Windsor-Smith.  Something similar holds true for the cover of our present subject, Avengers #99 — only this time, it’s Buscema whose style I’ve always recognized, and Windsor-Smith whose contribution failed to register with your humble blogger until quite recently, when I checked the Grand Comics Database as part of my research for this post.  (This fact probably has no significance beyond highlighting what a poor eye I have for picking out artists’ styles, but it’s still kind of amusing, at least to me.)

Behind the cover, on the other hand, Windsor-Smith’s work was unmistakable — and would have been even had the opening splash page carried no credits at all… 

For this middle chapter of what we’re going to call “the Olympus trilogy”, Windsor-Smith’s pencils were embellished by Tom Sutton — an inker with a somewhat heavier, lusher approach than that of his predecessor, Sal Buscema, but one whose style was equally as complementary to Windsor-Smith’s, in my view.

At last, we’re going to learn what happened to Clint Barton after Thomas and artist/co-plotter Neal Adams left him in a cliffhanger situation back in issue #96 — a mystery that, up to now, has been the only remaining plot thread left hanging following the conclusion of the Kree-Skrull War saga in #97:

The timeline here seems a little questionable, at least to this reader.  If the Skrull warship exploded at the same time that the Supreme Intelligence was teleporting all the Avengers save Goliath to the Kree’s headquarters planet, then shouldn’t the Skrulls on that warship have been affected by the mind-whammy, unleashed by Rick Jones several pages earlier in Avengers #97, that froze all the other warring Skrulls and Kree in place?  But, whatever.

As Clint continues his story, we learn that his escape craft was almost immediately caught in a nearby planet’s gravity — and, luckily for Clint, that planet was Earth.  Of course, the craft did have to make a crash landing, but at least it was the good kind — i.e., the kind you walk away from.  Hardly had Clint begun to emerge from his ruined spaceship, however, than he was discovered by the friendly members of a traveling carnival, who soon informed him that the country where he’d ended up was…

The carny chief was duly impressed with Clint’s archery skills, and told him he could pay his way to the next major city, Belgrade, with public exhibitions of same.  And so…

After reaching Belgrade, Clint tried phoning the Avengers, but nobody was home, so he put in a call to Stark Industries instead.  S.I. came through with a plane ride home to New York for both Hawkeye and Hercules — allowing them to arrive right at the tail end of the Avengers’ battle with the Greek God of War, Ares (Herc’s half-brother) and his Warhawks in issue #98.

So now we (and the Avengers) know how Goliath/Clint/Hawkeye made it out of the Kree-Skrull War alive, as well as how he came to be hanging out with an amnesiac Hercules, and even how he ended up in his new, 100% pants-free costume.  Unfortunately, none of that helps solve the riddle that Hercules has brought with him (though really, why would it?).  So, for lack of a better idea, Captain America suggests that they try quizzing Herc one more time, to which Hawkeye replies…

Panel from Avengers #25 (Feb., 1966). Text by Stan Lee; art by Don Heck and Dick Ayers.

Hawkeye’s interest in Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, extends back to the early days of their association with the Avengers, which both of them (along with Wanda’s brother Pietro, aka Quicksilver) had joined back in the classic issue #16 (May, 1965).  In that era of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet”, Wanda had nursed an unrequited crush on Captain America, while Hawkeye’s attraction towards his sole female teammate seemed to add fuel to his own burning resentment of the Living Legend of World War II.  But, soon enough, the Black Widow had come back into the bowman’s life (she’d previously been instrumental in luring him into his short-lived career as an Iron Man villain), and the two of them would remain romantically linked for the next four years, their relationship lasting until Natasha Romanoff broke up with Clint in Avengers #76 (May, 1970).

Panels from Avengers #90 (Jul., 1971). Text by Roy Thomas; art by Sal Buscema.

Since then, readers had seen Clint briefly daydreaming about Wanda in Avengers #90 (Jul., 1971), but that was about it.  However, a more serious interest on Hawkeye’s part would obviously add some dramatic tension to the romance that Roy Thomas had been slowly developing between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision over the past year or so — and thus, after a brief interlude in which we see the Vision contacting the Black Panther and Ant-Man to consult with them about the present situation…

The scene above is the first time we’ve seen Wanda verbally acknowledge the depths of her feelings for the Vision.  Just wanted to make note of that significant character beat before all the fighting starts…

Kratos and Bia may not exactly be household names, but they’re both legit figures of classical mythology (though I should note that every source I’ve checked identifies Bia as being female) — and have even appeared in Avengers before, back in issue #50.  They announce they’ve come to fetch Hercules back to Ares; Herc doesn’t want to go, but when Thor calls on him to defend himself, he either can’t, or won’t.  And so, it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to thwart the two demi-gods by the force of their arms…

Thor’s blow staggers Kratos, but he’s left himself vulnerable to an attack from Bia — whose blow sends him flying across the room, narrowly missing Hawkeye as the archer steps through the door to join the fray.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Mansion…

As the Vision makes his ascent through several levels of the Mansion, things are looking bad for his teammates.  Quicksilver, Cap, Iron Man and Thor are all still down, leaving only Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Rick Jones to stand in the way of the Olympians…

And so, Part 2 of the Olympus trilogy ends on a highly dramatic note, marked not only by the interpersonal conflict spurred by the Vision’s allegedly “unseemly conduct”, but with the God of Thunder preparing to lead the Avengers on a full-out assault on Olympus, right now.  Quite the hook — or hooks — for the story’s concluding chapter — or, as Marvel put it in the “Next” blurb, “the most mind-bending 100th issue in Mighty Marvel history!”  (OK, so there’d only been, like, maybe two centennial issues published by Marvel at this point in time that had been treated as being the least bit special — i.e., Fantastic Four #100 and Amazing Spider-Man #100.  We still got the idea.)

Oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly, given the vagaries of the “Marvel method” of comic-book creation), neither of those set-ups would play out in Avengers #100 quite as you’d expect — and even the provisional title of the next issue’s story, “Three Worlds at War!”, would turn out to be something of an unfulfilled tease.  Nevertheless, my younger self would not be the least bit disappointed with that comic when it showed up a month later, and I rather doubt many other readers were, either.  But come back around about this same time in March, and you can see for yourself what I mean.

12 comments

  1. frednotfaith2 · February 9

    Another nice write-up, Alan! Although a few scenes looked a bit awkward to my eyes, Smith’s art was very fine. Same for Thomas’ writing, although Clint’s tale of narrowly escaping Skrullian clutches involved a few too many lucky breaks to take entirely seriously, but grin & bear it! Moving on from all that and the mystery of Herc, the heavy drama in this issue is the bubbling up of the romance of Vizh & Wanda and the reactions of other cast members. In my case, I read this issue long after the couple were actually married, but it was still fascinating to see how Thomas built up all these threads — including Clint’s resentment, Pietro’s bigotry, and even Jarvis’ supportive acceptance all displayed in this issue. Even if Wanda hadn’t been smitten with Vizh, Clint’s behavior comes off as excessively churlish, even asinine. A bad case of letting his small brain overwhelm his big brain. All the all-too human drama is as much fun to read as the super-duper derrings do of our costumed cut-ups!
    Actually, IMO, it makes the whole story more interesting to read as it makes the characters much more relatable, more than just costumes and powers and indistinct personalities. Thomas shows he has learned a lot from the best writing of his mentor, Lee, and as newer up-and-coming scribes at Marvel would explore even further in the years ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · February 9

    So Hercules, who didn’t know he was Hercules, was pretending to be a guy named Hercules! Jeez, that’s a mouthful. And did you notice when he took off his blond “Hercules” wig, he still had his Olympian earmuffs on underneath? Comics, amirite? Still, it makes more sense than all of the reality-bending coincidences it took to get Clint off of the Skrull ship and into a carnival wagon. And don’t get me started on the Clint/Wanda/Vision love triangle…oops. too late.

    Roy Thomas is a good writer, but he’s not a subtle one. I suppose this makes sense given that, despite the rapidly rising age of the average audience of a Marvel comic, they were still, at the time, being written as if the target audience was about ten years old. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the soap opera elements Stan introduced to comics, the Peter/Gwen/Maryjane of it all, if you will, but Hawkeye’s line that he’d recently realized he might be in love with Wanda and therefore, as if she had no say in the matter whatsoever, there were now wedding bells in her future, was not only misanthropic and clumsy, it was BAD. Bad writing, bad plotting and bad behavior, guaranteed only to make a character who is otherwise heroic in every way, seem like a dick. I probably didn’t mind it in ’72 when I was fourteen, but today it’s so jarring as to be almost laughable. I know Clint always had some rough edges to him back in the day, but this is on the bell curve that leads to statements like, “hey, she was askin’ for it,” and “I know she said no, but sometimes no means yes!” As character development goes, it leaves a lot to be desired. In regard to Vision’s complete inability to ignore his teammates to care for Wanda, even when she wasn’t really hurt all that badly, that doesn’t play well either. At this point, Wanda’s too good for both of these jerks and should leave them both behind her in the dust.

    As for the artwork, Smith is rapidly approaching the top of his game, comic-book-wise, in these pages, but with all due respect, Alan, I don’t care for Sutton’s heavy unsubtle (there’s that word again) inks. Truthfully, the only inker I’ve ever really loved on BWS’s work is Smith himself.

    All in all, it’s not a terrible middle installment of a three part story, despite how much I might have made it sound like I thought it was. It’s comics, after all, not War and Peace. On to Issue #100!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. frednotfaith2 · February 10

    Alas, there are men in the real world, some even highly successful in their fields, who have behaved much worse than Clint in this issue. Clint was definitely behaving like a jerk, yet he also was shown to have heroic qualities as well in the very same issue. Roy was writing him as a good person with personal failings, much the same as Stan wrote the Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny as basically good people with failings in that very first issue of the FF. Reed’s ego and failure to accept legitimate criticism led to the failure of their flight mission, although it also led to the crew obtaining their powers. Sue goads Ben with accusations of cowardice. Ben’s goes off the deep in with resentment and jealousy and threatens to kill Reed. Johnny impulsively destroys a vehicle he and his friends had just been working on.
    I’ve also got to admit, from what I’ve been told about my parent’s meeting and early relationship, I owe my very existence to my father having been a persistent rogue — he was on leave, just back from Japan, riding on a Greyhound to visit his family near Paris, TX, when he happened to see my mother, who was still in high school and travelling to visit a friend.in some other small Texas town. He came on to her big time. She initially didn’t want anything to do with him and didn’t even tell him her actual first name, instead telling him her name was Liz (from her middle name, Elizabeth), although at that time she was Mary to anyone who knew her. She was even engaged to someone else at the time — a guy who went on to become a rocket scientist. Dad beat him up one time in a fight over my mother. Eventually, she gave in they wound up marrying and I was born 11 months later, the first of their three sons. But dad kept playing the field even while they were married, which partly explains why they finally split up after 21 years, and dad’s now on his 4th marriage (his 2nd wife died in a car accident after 7 years, his 3rd wife left him for someone else, (who then left her), but he & my current stepmother have now been married nearly 12 years and seem very happy together, although she is nearly 40 years younger than he is, and at nearly 82 now he isn’t nearly as roguish as he used to be! Me, I’m now nearly 60 and never married, mainly due to social anxiety. My dad & I share first & last names (but different middle names) as well as genes, but I haven’t taken after him at all in the romance department. I do love and get along with my dad, but I also know he occasionally behaved rather deplorably. My mother and stepfather, btw, had a very good relationship over the nearly 30 years they were married, until her death 8 years ago this month at age 70; he died just a few months ago, at age 95.
    I’ve also had some close friends who behaved much like Clint with women, but it wasn’t something I ever found admirable. And, as things played out, Clint’s come ons didn’t work with Wanda at all, and eventually he takes a rather leave of absence from the Avengers, in part, although he doesn’t say it out loud but from Thomas’ and later Englehart’s writing is clearly largely due to his romantic frustrations. And about the first thing he does after leaving is go to San Francisco to beat up on Daredevil for getting cozy with Natasha! And, naturally, he strikes out again, utterly failing to impress Natasha. Then he comes back to the fold just in time to see his old mentor and nemesis, the Swordsman, slightly deranged from his own romantic frustrations, become steely dedicated to saving his fellow Avengers and winds up getting killed while protecting the woman who had scorned him. He also calmly accepts Wanda marrying the Vision.
    Seems by that time, Clint’s hormones had calmed down a bit and had much matured. I think it was an interesting journey. And even if he was sometimes written as being a churlish idiot, at least he wasn’t shown going completely off the rails as Shooter did with Henry Pym, although he was also eventually written as getting better, even if his infamously beating Jan will haunt him for the remainder of his fictional life.
    Forgive me if I’ve rambled too much. Just things that came to my mind after reading Don’s thoughts on Thomas’ depiction of Hawkeye’s jerkish come on to Wanda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · February 11

      No apologies necessary, fred! Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · February 11

      Hey, Fred, didn’t mean to imply that there weren’t real folks who act they way Clint did. My own dad, god love him, was apparently guilty of much the same “rogueish” behavior as yours, though he somehow managed to stay married to my mom for over 60 years in spite of himself. And as my own three failed marriages attest, my own romantic history is extremely checkered as well. I just meant that for all Clint’s mysoginistic and churlish behavior, it would have seemed more believable to me it if hadn’t all been so “in your face” and obvious, but maybe I’m reacting to my own stuff and not giving Thomas (or Clint) enough credit. Comics! What can I tell you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • frednotfaith2 · February 12

        Perfectly understand, Don! My first encounter with Hawkeye came a few months later, when I got issue 104, Thomas’ finale as regular scribe. First scene that really stuck in my mind regarding him was the concluding scenes of 108, after they’d beaten Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper & Hydra, and Clint takes a seat, commenting something to the effect that all’s well and time to relax and Wanda hexes his chair apart, upset about Pietro’s mysterious absence (since the end of 104), and then Vision comes along to comfort her. Next ish, Clint, rather peeved, decides to get back to basics, putting on his old costume, getting into some trouble with a new and (AFAIK) never seen again baddie, Champion, and winds up quitting the team. Wasn’t some time ’til I realized that up to that point, he’d been in more issues of the Avengers than any other member and not too much later I got the MTA reprint of Avengers 16, wherein he first joins and I discovered he’d previously been an Iron Man foe, although largely that was due to both envy and falling hard for Natasha when she was still a Soviet spy. In reading those reprints of the Kooky Quartet era, Hawkeye came off as very brash, almost unlikeable in how he related to Captain America. But still, I liked the stories as much for the interpersonal drama of the heroes as much as for their battles with the bad guys. By issue 99, Clint, as either Hawkeye or Goliath II, had long been a mainstay of the group and was much more likeable, still brash and impulsive, but clearly one of the good guys. But he’d also endure the drama of reconnecting with Natasha and then ultimately losing her again. Thomas rarely showed Clint engaging in much deep thought or introspection, but certainly there were hints he was very much hurt by Natasha leaving him. Then, here, Clint focuses on his long-time teammate who had started with him so long ago, but had come and gone a few times, but was now back again and seemingly “available”. Despite his “hawk-eyeish” sight, he was too blind to see that she has strong feelings for the Vision, who to Clint shouldn’t count as a romantic rival because “he’s only a robot!” Fortunately, Clint wasn’t nearly as thuggish as the Comedian in Moore’s Watchmen, but he still really comes off as a cad in his come-on to Wanda. I think it might have been in a letter published in 104, a reader speculated about the Avengers splitting in factions over the Wanda & Vision relationship, particularly as Pietro was decidedly against it, albeit for different reasons than Clint, and neither gave much thought to Wanda’s right to decide for herself. I don’t know if Thomas had any specific ideas on what he would have done if he’d kept writing the Avengers for much longer, but Englehart took over, kept Pietro off the team even after the mystery of his disappearance was finally resolved, and kicked Clint out for the next 20 issues (aside from his part in the Avengers/Defenders clash) and shifted the drama by adding Swordsman and Mantis to the team and having Mantis fall for Vizh and make a strong come-on to him in issue 128! I don’t know if Englehart meant that to echo Clint’s behavior in issue 99, but in retrospect, to my mind it certainly seems to.
        I’ll admit, all these soap-opera like elements in many Marvel Comics hooked me into the stories as much as, or maybe even more-so, than the slugfests. Even when they did things I didn’t like, as long as they seemed reasonably within character, they made Marvel’s heroes more relatable as characters than if they always behaved prim and proper and utterly rational, upstanding role-models. Even Vision sometimes proved as humanly irrational as any other Marvel superhero, as Thomas had already made clear just a few issues earlier by having him nearly beat a Skrull to death while worried about the then unknown fate of Wanda.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Joe Gill · February 11

    Absolutely LOVE Barry Smith on the Avengers. Just wish he’d made it a regular feature of his, probably dreaming though as his detailed style doesn’t lend itself to doing too many titles a month. On another subject on page 12 romantically inclined Clint makes one of the biggest faux pas in the history of lover’s lane, calling Wanda “Brown eyes” when they are clearly blue. Or perhaps it’s some coloring error? Anyway, Mr. Blogger are you entrusted by the powers that be to hand out “no prizes?” If so I want one!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Avengers #100 (June, 1972) | Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books
  6. Pingback: Avengers #100 (June, 1972) – ColorMag
  7. Stu Fischer · March 18

    Due to a Marvel variety time paradox, I’ve already made almost all of my comments on this issue in your blog post on Avengers #100 (OK, the real reason isn’t nearly as interesting), however I promised that I would save one comment in response to your Avengers #99 blog post.

    To wit (not that there is any wit about this), Hawkeye’s behavior to Wanda on page 12. Granted the two of them know each other and Wanda can take care of herself (and it wouldn’t be too much longer before, for example under Englehart, where she wouldn’t have hex sphered Clint into a wall), but Hawkeye’s behavior makes Green Arrow during this time period look like a feminist (and what was it with comic book archers in the early 1970s? Parents should have warned their daughters to stay far away from them).

    We have Hawkeye leaning in on Wanda looking belligerent and informing her that he realizes he’s in love with her so that she’s going to marry him. OK, that’s showing a commitment more than “you are going to have sex with me right now whether you want to or not” although perhaps holding her hostage for life could be considered worse. No concern for what Wanda wants. No attempt to get her to want to be romantically interested in him. His thinking is just as bad as Arkon, who a few years earlier kidnapped Wanda and took her to his planet to become his bride.

    During this time, heroes were supposed to role models to kids. At the very least, if a hero did something wrong, he got his comeuppance for it and there were consequences. However, even Wanda takes Clint’s behavior as just an annoyance. OK, Clint really wasn’t going to kidnap Wanda and force her into a marriage, but the behavior in itself, not presented as a lighthearted joke, would be chilling, frightening and potentially dangerous in a real-life setting (imagine if a long-time co-worker of a woman suddenly did that at work).

    As I mentioned in my comments to Avengers #100, I never read Avengers #99 until the 50th anniversary of its release so I can’t say that I had a reaction about all of this in 1972, but sadly, my guess is that back in those days I would have thought that this was acceptable behavior for a man (even if I would never have done it myself). At least Hawkeye didn’t force herself on Wanda and make her pregnant for issue No. 100 with all of the Avengers congratulating her (that type of plot wouldn’t be used until Avengers #200).

    Liked by 2 people

    • frednotfaith2 · March 18

      A couple of weekends ago, I watched the series of short films nominated for an Oscar this year, one of which is “Alu Kachuu — Take and Run”, about a young, independent-minded woman, trying to further her education and working in a bakery in the capital of Kyrgyzstan and who is kidnapped by some local young men, strangers to her, with the intent of having her marry one of them and in the meantime holding her in captivity at his parents’ home. Her family is notified and to her horror, they are perfectly ok with it as they find her independent streak embarrassing and would rather she be married even to someone she doesn’t know or love. By the end of the film she has managed to escape but a notice at the end of the film informs us that this sort of thing happens in reality very often in central Asian nations and most of the women are not able to escape.
      Of course, Clint’s behavior wasn’t so extreme, but was probably not so uncommon even in our modern industrialized nation of 50 years ago and from tales I’ve heard about my parents as related above, my dad essentially imposed himself on my mother to initiate their relationship back in 1961 and his behavior was not based on anything he read in any comic. Fortunately, Clint was not shown getting his way with Wanda and he wound up quitting the team of his own choice within the next year of issues. In most work places of today in the US, his behavior likely could get him fired, but in 1972? A woman like Wanda being harassed by a lust-struck lothario would likely have been forced to endure it, go along with it, or quit the job, and the lothario wouldn’t have gotten in any trouble at all, unless, say, the boss also had his eye out for the woman and wasn’t keen on competition.

      Liked by 2 people

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