Sunday, 5 December 2010

Avengers #116. The Vision vs the Silver Surfer.

Avengers #116, The Evil Eye Saga, the Silver Surfer vs the Vision and Scarlet Witch
In The Avengers Annual #2, it was posited that, in a world without super-villains to stand in their way, the Avengers would quickly become arrogant and a menace to humanity. Judging by The Avengers #116, they're perfectly capable of achieving that even in a world with super-villains.

Looking for the Black Knight, they turn up at Dr Strange's house. As Dr Strange was at the wedding of the Wasp and Yellowjacket, and helped them defeat Surtur and Ymir, you'd expect it to be a friendly visit. But no. For no good reason, they're all geared up for a fight with someone they act like they've never heard of before. Upon being denied entry, they do what any of us would. They smash his front door down and beat up his servant. Upon being evicted from his house by a spell, they then stand in the street and rant at the house about how they're going to come back to give Dr Strange the chinning he so richly deserves. Are these people sure they're the good guys?

Frankly, in these opening pages, the Avengers come across like nothing more than thugs and idiots. Their stupidity's perfectly summed up by Iron Man making it clear he doesn't believe in magic and that, therefore, Strange must be a conman. As Iron Man's stood next to the Norse God of Thunder at the time, this lack of belief in magic reflects badly on both his powers of observation and his intelligence.

Regardless, while the Defenders set off individually to retrieve the various scattered sections of the Evil Eye needed to cure the Black Knight, the Avengers return to their HQ where they're contacted by Loki. Again they show their vast wisdom, this time by believing everything the man known as The God Of Lies tells them. He tells them the Defenders are up to no good in their quest for the Eye and so, each choosing a different route, each Avenger sets off to battle a Defender. This moment is the series' master-stroke as none of the Avengers know who they're going to face when they get there. The potential randomness of the subsequent encounters makes it all the more fun.

The first Avengers to encounter a Defender are the Vision and the Scarlet Witch who come up against the Silver Surfer on a South Sea island. Happily, the Surfer's triumphant, grabbing the first section of the Evil Eye while the Vision mithers over the injured Witch who, with her customary usefulness in a crisis, manages to be unconscious throughout the entire fight.

You can't get away from it, this is supposed to be the Avengers mag but, from start to finish, every single one of that team comes across as someone you'd like to slap repeatedly in the mouth. Despite being guests, the Defenders come across as a million times more mature and self-possessed than their would-be opponents and, by the end of the tale, you're glad to see the first round go to them. Granted, the Surfer's actions in repeatedly blasting the interior of a volcano with his cosmic bolts, in an attempt to find the Eye, doesn't suggest the most responsible of individuals but at least he can put it down to ignorance. I'm not sure what the Avengers excuse is.

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