Friday, 23 September 2011

Avengers #128. The Celestial Madonna Saga: Part 3.

Avengers #128, the Scarlet Witch vs Necrodamus
If you should always know which witch is which witch, you should always know never to let anyone mystically seal you off in a room until cock crows.

Sadly, the Scarlet Witch fails to heed this advice as, after returning from the wedding of her brother to Crystal of the Inhumans, she agrees to let the Fantastic Four's nanny Agatha Harkness tutor her in the real ways of witchcraft.

Needless to say, trouble soon follows. Within moments of Harkness magically isolating the pair of them in the Avengers Mansion, they're attacked by a demon called Necrodamus who's after their souls.

With Harkness and her familiar knocked out, the Scarlet Witch is forced to defeat the demon on her own, using her hex power for an unprecedented fourth time in one fight, at which point it becomes clear the whole battle was set up by Harkness as part of the Witch's first lesson.

Meanwhile, on the nookie front, Mantis finally gets round to telling her supposed beloved The Swordsman to sling his hook, and then wastes no time coming on to the Vision.

The course of true lust rarely runs smooth though and, before she can make a serious stab at getting her leg over, a mysterious star appears from nowhere above the Avengers' Mansion, flooding the place with light.

When the Avengers rush outside, they're confronted by Kang who declares he's going to conquer the 20th Century. And there's nothing anyone can do to can stop him! Nothing!

Avengers #128, the Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkness
With this tale, the emphasis suddenly shifts from Mantis and onto her love-rival the Scarlet Witch. It's not before time. She's been in the strip for years by this point and for the most part's been next to useless, spending most of their fights stood around trying to conserve a power that rarely achieves anything beyond annoying a foe. Clearly writer Steve Englehart's decided it's time to beef up her powers so she'll actually be more use in a life or death struggle than I would. She still comes across as fairly useless in the fight with Necrodamus but at least she comes out on top in the end, even if it's more by luck than judgement.

On the art front, the combination of Sal Buscema and Charlton Comics' stalwart Joe Staton's an odd one. Buscema always had a somewhat flat and simple style, with Staton having a more quirky, cluttered look and plenty of contrast between light and shade. At times his inks threaten to overwhelm Buscema's pencils while adding visual depth to them. It's not an off-putting combination but it's likewise not a natural one either.

The Avengers #128, Mantis and the Vision
Mantis really is coming across as a first class biyatch by now, callously dismissing the Swordsman's desperate declarations of love, while on her way to take advantage of Wanda's absence by coming on to the Vision.

But you have to hand it to Kang. How many times over the years has he turned up declaring he's about to conquer the 20th Century and that nothing can stop him, only for him to be sent packing five minutes later, with his tail between his legs? And still he never gives up hope.

One can only hope the Scarlet Witch can show equal sticking power in her romantic struggles with her love-rival.

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