December 1978: Avengers 181- In which we learn that there is chair shortage in the mansion

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Synopsis: David Michelinie, John Byrne and Gene Day produced this issue which began with Wonder Man and the Beast watching what looks like the Adventures of Robin Hood at the Regency cinema. They had back afterwards Avengers Mansion with Wonder Man thinking that the Avengers life isn’t really for him, when they are attacked at the door by metal tentacles, which only really annoy and slow down these two. Wonder Man breaks down the door and finds Tony (Iron Man) Stark, Scott (Ant Man) Lang  and Henry Gyrich (their NSA liason) checking the Mansion’s defenses, before Gryich warns that there are more changes to come. We get a quick aside where an old man with an accent gets out of a cab and heads for the mansion.

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Back inside Gyrich holds his authority over the Avengers and dictates that there are too many of them and that the line-up should be limited to 7 members.

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We get some reaction about that before the members are named as Iron Man, Captain America, the Vision, Wasp, Beast, Scarlet Witch and … the Falcon.

Yup that’s right, the never shown up in the Avengers before Falcon. Affirmative action has hit the Avengers.

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Quicksilver objects to the bureaucracy and does his usual top blowing, before collapsing to the floor, leaving no trace of life or death as confirmed by Thor’s alter ego Dr Don Blake.  Bit by bit, the no-longer Avengers leave. Wonder Man decides to be an actor, Hawkeye decides to be an ass and the Guardians of the Galaxy decide to return to their own time and may other’s fly off to parts beyond. After this Gyrich agrees to reinstate the Avengers’ priority clearance.

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While tending to her brother Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch also collapses and in a nearby hotel room, the old man is talking to the contents of his bag, which he refers to as his children. He pulls out of his bag, glowing marionette puppets of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who are actually moving.

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Notes: An issue of one of my favourite eras of Avengers, drawn my favourite artist of this era, yes please. John Byrne defines bronze age Marvel imagery in the same way Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (praise by his name) defines the same for DC. When it comes to Marvel’s style, I always see it as Kirby did action, Starlin did cosmic and Byrne did iconic. There are artists who did certain things better, but for me this is the purest version of these characters and for that reason, I loved this issue.

The government butting in, the Avengers’ lack of conventional diversity and membership changes are not unique ideas and are well used tropes, but they keep coming up, because you can tell interesting stories with them. Considering the use of the Falcon, the idea that someone who Captain America sees as an equal has never been appointed as an Avenger, until he ticked a box on a equal opportunity requirement is an interesting one.  Especially when you consider, he wasn’t there when this was announced. I liked that they went there, especially with the Falcon, but to be honest, late 70’s Marvel didn’t have a lot of minority characters to choose from, so there’s that.

One of the highlights of this issue was the team splash page where everyone connected to the Avengers during the recent Korvac saga stand/sit there and listen to Gyrich tell them there’s too many of them has a lovely sense of justice to it, since at that point there are too many of them. Nowhere near enough chairs in there. But you can clearly see Captain Marvel (the Mar-Vell version), Wonder Man, Ms Marvel, Hawkeye, Charlie-27 and Martinex of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, Hercules, Starhawk of the Guardians, Moondragon, Beast, Yellowjacket, Black Widow, Nikki of the Guardians, Wasp, Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain America and in the corner Joscasta. Now if you consider the fact that Cap has always considered Edwin Jarvis an Avenger too, that’s what, 23 Avengers. Maybe that is too many.

An overall fun issue, while light on action has  drama and intrigue to spare and is great to look at.

Next Time: A moment in history of the Man without fear.

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