AVENGERS #112 (1973): 1st Mantis

It’s more than a little annoying that so many early Black Panther stories involve weird, mean African Gods.  But as far as these things go, this one is better than most.  Of course, it involves the whole team saving the day in the end.

Animal combat!

But at least they acknowledge that he’s a very busy king.

Black Widow is still hanging out with The Avengers during this issue because she’s conflicted about going back to San Francisco with Daredevil (after the two of them helped defeat Magneto last issue).  But in the end, she decides that team life is not for her and she returns to Matt Murdock.

But not until after Iron Man hits on her.  She’s been with Hawkeye and Daredevil, both sexist alpha males (and both kinda broke most of the time), but she says “no” to Tony Stark the millionaire.  Good for her!

She’s staying at Avengers Mansion because she’s homeless.  But by the end of the adventure…

She quits and goes back to DD.

And Mantis joins in her place.  This is also the first time we see Mantis, a character who Steve Englehart created, in his own words, to be a “hooker” who causes dissension between team members.  I’m sure he never would have guessed she’d be a movie star.

FANTASTIC FOUR #187-190 (1977)

We finally get a Molecule Man appearance that hints at the greatness of the character–although he really is powerful enough to not need a partner.  But he and Klaw kind of have an ongoing relationship from here on out, that culminates in the 1980s Secret Wars.

IMG_0648

To stop them: Reed Richards uses a gun! (Because he is still depowered.). And he invents it after being yelled at by Agatha.

But he can’t defeat them.  Reed touches the Molecule Wand and gets possessed by Molecule Man (so he gets powers again–just not the way he wanted to)

And then he ends up “short circuiting,” which is a lame ending.

No, it’s not a great story–but it’s good enough.  And with the art of George Perez, it’s worth reading.

And in the end, The Watcher shows up, but does not intervene, and Reed Richards disbands the team.  Again.

IMG_0652

And so begins a year’s worth of stories in which the F4 are no longer a team. 

And perhaps most dramatically, the two issues that immediately followed this one were reprints of old Lee/Kirby stories. Issues #189 and 190 are reprints.