[Editor’s Note: Earlier today I mistakenly uploaded a non-corrected version of this review. I wholeheartedly apologize to all of those readers who believe comic book blogging should be taken as serious business and for any trauma I may have caused you. I hope that this somewhat corrected version of the review will be more to your liking. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to go perform seppuku to atone for the shame and dishonor I have brought upon the CCW Blog.]
Title: Avengers Annual #10
Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: Michael Golden
Inker: Armando Gil
Cost: 75 Cents! (in 1981)
The other day I read Jose’s review of New Avengers Annual #3 and thought I would put in my two cents about a quality Avengers Annual I had read a long, long time ago. It was Avengers Annual #10, published way back in 1981! I basically said it was the best thing since sliced bread and people that had not read it should go out and spend their time and money trying to get it. Well, much to my surprise, I received a message from Jose asking me to do a review of the book. Can Brian Bendis and Marvel learn a little something from this 28 year old Avengers book? I think the answer is a resounding “Yes!”.
Q: So why should we care about this old ass comic?
A: Well, because it was written by Claremont when he was on top of his game and the art by Michael Golden is excellent throughout. It also has the first appearance by Rogue, back when she was evil. Not to mention the X-Men, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are all in this story as well as some kick-ass battles and surprisingly touching moments at the end with Carol Danvers.
Q: You’re just doing this review to bash Bendis and Marvel right?
Q: Sigh! OK, what is the story about?
A: It starts with Spider-Woman saving a woman after she is thrown off the Golden Gate Bridge. Her investigation of the woman’s attempted murder leads her to contact the X-Men for help and eventually leads her to the Avengers. Meanwhile, a super villain named Rogue is kicking the shit out of Captain America, Thor and anyone else who gets in her way in a series of calculated attacks. Iron Man gets taken out of action in a sneak attack at his headquarters by Mystique even before he has a chance to help is fellow Avengers. In short order Rogue and Mystique have taken out the Avengers big three. Cap, Thor and Iron Man are out of action and the remaining Avengers are trying to figure out a motive for the attack. Spider-Woman shows up and the Avengers figure out what is about to go down. It a jailbreak baby! The rest of the Avengers (The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Jocasta) show up to rumble with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. A very satisfying knock down, drag out fight ensues, and the Avengers manage to pull out a close victory. At the end of the book what should have been a happy reunion between Carol Danvers and the Avengers gets very bitter and intense as Carol lashes out at the Avengers for not seeing she needed help against her supposed lover Marcus. Marcus was the son (maybe) of Immortus (Kang the Conqueror). He used his father’s hi-tech devices to kidnap and rape (no reason to dance around it) Carol Danvers and impregnate her with another version of himself. Carol makes it back to Earth after Marcus dies of old age in his pocket dimension but makes it a point to have nothing to do with the Avengers, who she feels did nothing to help her against Marcus. Carol and the Avengers work things out to a certain point and the book ends on a somewhat happy note.
Q: That sounds pretty cool, but does it have strong female characters?
A: Very much so. The attack on the Avengers are planned and carried out by Rogue and Mystique, the two of them take out Captain America, Thor and Iron Man quickly in a way that doesn’t seem contrived at all. Spider-Woman takes center stage for much of the comic, investigating what happened to Carol Danvers and also kicking ass in the battle on Rykers Island, helping to free Iron Man and turning the tide of battle in favor for the Avengers. Scarlet Witch is also instrumental in the battle, attacking effectively against the Brotherhood while many of the her male counterparts are getting clobbered. Chris Claremont really seems to respect his female characters and allows them to shine in his book. Chris even gives Carol Danvers a scene at the end of the book detailing the events of her time with Marcus that could have easily turned out to be cheap and exploitive in the hands of lesser writer.
Many readers had felt Ms. Marvel had been treated in a very sexist and demeaning way by Marvel, that Carol Danvers has been the victim of sexual assault and Marvel had treated it as a romantic love story. Chris Claremont was one of those people upset by the treatment of Ms. Marvel and made sure people who read this Avengers annual knew that what had happened to Danvers was in fact rape and not a romance in any sense. There is a excellent article written by Carol A. Strickland that details the events between Ms. Marvel and Marcus and her feeling on everything that happened to Carol and the treatment of female superheroes in comics:
Q: OK, but do the characters act in an intelligent manner?
A: Rogue and Mystique have a problem. They want to get their fellow Brotherhood members being held in Rykers Island out, but they know the moment they show up there the Avengers will show up to stop them. The two of them work out a plan they think will allow them to conduct their jailbreak with minimum interference, and it almost works. Spider-Woman has a mystery to solve and you get to see her investigate it and act on the results of her investigation. The Avengers have a big problem, but you get to see them work that problem out and take a decisive course of action. The great thing about this comic is watching the chess game between the Brotherhood and the Avengers play itself out and you are not quite sure all the way up until the end who is going to come out on top.
Q: Fine, we get it, you love the story, but how was the second feature?
A: No second feature.
Q: Reprinted filler material?
A: None, nadda.
Q: Humkay…so what other books will I have to buy to understand what’s happening in this one?
A: None, the story is completely stands on its own. Even the Carol Danvers stuff at the end is explained with enough back story to understand what is happening without having to read back issues of the Avengers.
Q: Sure the book itself is cool, but it is not attached to any event. How can it matter when there is no event evolved?
A: That’s the thing. Back in the day annuals like this were the “events”. They were the comic equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie, a chance for guys like Chris Claremont and Michael Golden to cut loose and really try to wow your socks off.
Q: So you would pay $5.00 for this comic?
A: Well, no.. but I would pay $4.00 for it easily.
Q: Would you pay $5.00 for the comic so Brian Bendis would read it and perhaps learn a few things?
A: Yes, yes I would.