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.

Avengers #207-208 (1981)

The team fights against an encroachment from an ancient magician.  It’s a terrible story.  But a great sound effect.

And a pretty funny panel with them looking in a hole.

Avengers #222 (1982): New Masters of Evil

Hawkeye really likes potato chips.

This issue involves Egghead forming a new Masters of Evil, featuring Tiger Shark, Whirlwind, Scorpion, and Moonstone, and they get defeated in about a page and half.  Seems about right.

Egghead has a robot maid girlfriend now.

What’s cool about this Jim Shooter-led (and sometimes scripted) period for The Avengers is the focus on She-Hulk.  And her never-realized flirtation with Hawkeye.

By now, her solo book has been cancelled, and it was never all that great.  But we see her developing into a full-fledged fan favorite during her stint with The A-Team, and then later when she joins the Fantastic Four she becomes an A-list character.

In this issue, she gets annoyed at her broken down pink caddie, and then gets a new outfit from Janet Van Dyne.  When Hawkeye sees it, he ridicules her…

But then she kisses him full on the mouth.

I know, I know.  If a guy did that, it would be rape.  But when a girl does it, it’s funny.

In fact, in the same issue, Whirlwind starts to sexually assault the Wasp (she shrinks and stings the crap out of him).  Lots of sex in these issues, which is kinda cool and appropriate.  And sex is used playfully, and for evil by villains—I don’t think there’s sexual range in a lot of modern books.

It’s also worth noting how Wasp and Hawkeye, in addition to She-Hulk, get so much screentime in this issue (and others from this period).  The other main characters, Cap, Iron Man and Thor, had their own solo books, but this was the only place you could read about these other heroes.  It was special—another thing missing from today’s books, where there’s an event every six weeks so you see all the Marvel characters assembling all the time.

I know, I sound like an old fart.

Jim Shooter plotted this one.