AVENGERS #215-216 (1982): Tigra quits

These two issues are two of my favorite comics from ’80s Avengers–but they are not without controversy.

Over the last several issues, Tigra has been (justifiably) feeling less and less confident alongside the world’s most famous heroes.

Out in the city, she finds herself the target of stares and jokes–so she gets some clothes to go undercover.

And she just happens to sit next to Silver Surfer on the train, who is well-hidden in … A trenchcoat! (See my trenchcoat disguises tag below.)


Molecule Man re-forms.

I love the very slow build here, and the juxtapositions of Tigra, Surfer, and Molecule Man all experiencing their own forms of alienation.

Surfer warns The Avengers that Molecule Man is back and about to go on the warpath, so the team goes after him.

They bust through. The panel above wonderfully typifies the late ’70s/early ’80s style, where they’d have panels where everyone got to say something about the same thing.  It was a quick way to establish major power sets or a general sense of the character.  And I thought the panel above was a real nice example of it.

Tigra forges forward alone, and gets her Purple Man moment when Molecule Man–who is now comfortable his incredible power–takes a liking to her. And “takes” is the word, as he makes her his pet.

Tigra had just barely arrived on the team before she got captured by this very creepy dude and implicitly held as a sex toy. This was a fairly profound moment for Tigra who, up to now, really had not ever been written as a mature character.  Her fate, as Owen’s plaything, is truly creepy and dark, and ends up having somewhat lasting implications for the character.

This is about as creepy-perverted as 1980s Marvel Comics got. Much later, in the pages of Alias (by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos), Jessica Jones would be captured by Purple Man and much more implicitly (and repeatedly) raped while under mind control. That was a MAX title. But it was just as disturbing here, even if they couldn’t treat it as deeply or deal with the ramifications as clearly.

Between this and the Hank Pym/Janet Van Dyne story, The Avengers may have been the most progressive–and regressive–comic of 1981.

Molecule Man puts the Avengers in a deathtrap.

He shatters Cap’s shield, dissolves Iron Man’s armor, takes Thor’s hammer and Surfer’s board…And Iron Man’s secret identity is blown again.

They win the day after Tigra turns on her captor.

He actually says he is sorry.

And then he recreates the Avengers’ weaponry…Kind of.

And Molecule Man goes to therapy.

OK. So Tigra is held as a sex slave, but only Owen gets therapy?!? That’s a little f-ed up, buys.

It’s not a wonder that Tigra quits.

BONUS: Editor and writer Ann Nocenti makes a guest appearance!

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