AVENGERS #178 (1978): 1st Manipulator

This issue is a real gem.  I’d completely forgotten it until I started pulling out the polybags to do this blog. 

It was a done-in-one solo story titled “Night of the Beast” written by one of my favorite Marvel writers of the 1970s: Steve Gerber.  The art was by hall-of-famer Carmine Infantino, whose shadowy sketchy lines were perfect for a noirish mystery with lots of darkness and rain.

Much like the great musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Beast faces a villain who can make him sing and dance.  The story has lots of quirky Steve Gerber deliciousness, and explores all aspects of The Beast: He does science!  He romances the girls!  He beats up a guy who hates dancing!

He stands up for what’s right!

He expresses insecurity!  He bounces and bounds!

And, of course, he references the X-Men.  And the Beatles.  Has anyone else ever referenced both those supergroups in the same panel?  I don’t think so.

It’s a character piece courtesy of a new villain, the literally two-faced Manipulator, who can pull angst out of others.

Awards: 8th Best Steve Gerber Comic of All Time. One of the best single-issue stories of all time, according to this objectively accurate list.

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