Monday 18 April 2011

Avengers #83. Come on in...

Avengers #83, the Valkyrie. Come on in, the revolution's fine!

Marvel Treasury Editions, they were a grandiose form of madness. Like Goliath, too big to be practical but too big to be ignored. Unlike Goliath, offering us the chance to see the work of our favourite artists reproduced full size.

Marvel Treasury Edition #7, the Avengers, Jack Kirby cover
I only ever had four Treasury Editions, and one of them was #7, The Avengers, which in retrospect had a theme of debuts, featuring as it did, the Avengers debuts of the Panther, the Vision and Yellowjacket.

It featured one other debut.

The first ever appearance of the Valkyrie. But not the Valkyrie we all came to know and love. For this Valkyrie was a villainess with nothing on her mind but treachery.

Not that we know this when we first meet her. Summoned to the Avengers' Mansion by a mystery telegram; the Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Medusa meet their summoner, a rampant feminist egomaniac powerhouse who after stoking up their resentment against the male Avengers, leads them on a mission to defeat said group in order to show them that anything they can do, their female counterparts can do better.

The male Avengers are in Vermont for a Halloween parade which includes a Dr T W Erwin and his Parallel Time device.

They're not the only ones, because the Masters of Evil have turned up and are after that device.

Engaging the villains in battle, the Avengers soon find themselves in trouble but are saved when the newly labelled Lady Liberators show up and, despite their relatively puny powers (hair, a wasp's sting, looking good in a leather) easily flatten the Masters of Evil.

Avengers #83, the Valkyrie. Up against the wall, male chauvinist pigs!
That's when the Valkyrie makes her move, knocks out the Avengers and reveals she is in fact the Enchantress out to steal the Dr's device so she can use it to return to Asgard and gain her revenge on such vexing men as Thor, Odin and the Executioner. Happily her magic's no match for the Scarlet Witch's hex power and she's blasted to atoms, leaving Goliath to declare that he hopes it's taught those pesky women the foolishness of that Women's Lib nonsense.

This was always my favourite tale in that Treasury edition. Partly that was because it all looked rather lovely, drawn by John Buscema and inked by Tom Palmer. These days I'm not that keen on Tom Palmer's inking over Buscema, feeling its heavy use of ink smothers Buscema's pencil work a little too much but there's no denying Palmer 's a great inker, so it was always going to look good. I also liked the Halloween parade setting, the return of the Masters of Evil and the cameo appearance by Roy and Jean Thomas as guests at a Halloween party.

Avengers #83, the Valkyrie, John Buscema coverBut however much we might all love to meet Roy and Jean, and re-meet the Masters of Evil, not to mention seeing the Masters of Evil and the Avengers both get whupped by a bunch of girls, the focus is all on one character - the Valkyrie. Even in this one appearance and as a bad guy you can't escape the fact that the Valkyrie's a more interesting character than the Enchantress, meaning it's actually a let-down when the big reveal's made. They've just replaced a cool new villainess with a not so cool old one.

In the end, this is the one real flaw of the tale, that the Valkyrie's potential as a baddie's totally wasted. The woman can throw cars around with her bare hands and has flying horses but our glimpse of her in action is limited to just two panels and then, the next page, she's completely discarded as a character.

Still, as Medusa could tell you, you can't keep a good hairstyle down and it wasn't long before the Valkyrie was back and giving the Hulk lectures in women's rights, while throwing him off the Empire State Building. Sadly, such talk was as wasted on him as it was on Goliath.


Martin Gray said...

Great review of one of my favourite ever Avengers tales- just look at that opening! And it only gets better from there. I read it in a UK Christmas hardback annual, really nice paper, it had.

Blaze Morgan said...

My first official Marvel title purchase with my own allowance money was "Thor" 183. The reason there is obvious. A combination of superheroes and Norse Mythology? Sign me up!

Giddy with excitement, the second title I picked that day was your review, "Avengers" 83. And I cannot recall why. As your review relates, it was an excellent choice. Being totally green to Marvel, there was no character on the cover that I recognized. Having a fondness for giant-sized characters, maybe it was just the cheeky way Valkyrie has her foot on the fallen Goliath's head that caught my eye...

I do agree with your assessment. The Valkyrie would have been a better villain in the Marvel Universe. Her subsequent hero incarnations have never inspired me much. The big reveal (over more pages) at the end should have been that Val was the Enchantress' badass, butch sister, out to rescue her sibling.

SallyP said...

It's always so nice to see some John Buscema artwork.