Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Giant-Size Avengers #2. The Celestial Madonna Saga: Part 5.

Giant-Size Avengers #2, Kang, Rama Tut, Mantis and the Celestial Madonna
Sometimes you can't help wondering how Kang the Conqueror keeps track of who he is at any one time.

Tipped off that the Avengers have been abducted by Kang, Hawkeye rushes to the Avengers Mansion, to be met by the Swordsman and Rama-Tut.

It seems Rama-Tut's a later version of Kang who, tired of endless conflict, returned to Ancient Egypt to reclaim his throne before deciding to prevent his former self from acquiring the Celestial Madonna. For that end, he had himself sealed in his tomb, in a state of suspended animation, until the time was right for him to awaken.

The trio set off to stop Kang's attempts to start World War Three but first have to defeat Kang's Macrobots, each of which contains and is powered by a paralysed Avenger.

Mantis is the Celestial Madonna, Avengers Giant-Size #2
Once that's finally achieved, Rama-Tut tackles Kang who refuses to listen to sense. The physical clash between the pair causes the walls of Time to break down, allowing Kang to see it's Mantis who's destined to be the Celestial Madonna.

The villain decides that if he can't have her, no one can and tries to kill her but the Swordsman flings himself at the shot and, as Rama-Tut and Kang vanish, fighting, the Avengers are left to ruminate on the death of their fallen colleague.

Hooray! Hawkeye's back! He may be the second-least powerful member the Avengers have ever had - and not always have the best of attitudes - but, like Hank Pym, he's always felt like one of the things that makes the Avengers the Avengers. Although I suppose the fact that he returns in an issue whose cover promises us the death of an Avenger tips us off as to who that Avenger'll be. Let's face it, they're not going to bring Hawkeye back as the natural replacement for Thor, Iron Man or the Vision.

That means it can only be the Swordsman who cops it and, at last, the poor sucker gets to be the hero he's dreamed of being. And finally, after spending chunks of the issue insulting him, Mantis comes to appreciate him.

Kang vs Rama-Tut, Avengers Giant-Size #2
It's interesting that on the page where Kang and Rama-Tut's fight breaks down the fabric of Time, not only do we get to see all of Iron Man's previous incarnations and Hank Pym's but we also get to see Dr Doom, leaving us in no doubt that Kang, Rama-Tut, The Scarlet Centurion and Doom are all supposed to be the same character. Apparently Doom was also going to be on the cover, alongside the other two but the idea was dropped. If we take it that Doom is indeed the same character as them, it does raise all sorts of questions of just where he fits in their various time-lines.

The Death of the Swordsman, Avengers Giant-Size #2
Also wanting to know where they fit in are Mantis and the Scarlet Witch. Held prisoner in large glass tubes, still not sure which of them's the Celestial Madonna, the fate of the world hung in the balance, it's good to see the pair of them showing their sense of perspective by bickering over which of them's the Vision's girlfriend. They really do come across as stunningly up their own backsides in these exchanges. Still, at least Wanda compensates to some degree by finally stopping being useless and flattening Thor with a meteor.

PS. Does anyone know if Neal Adams had a hand in the inking? Dave Cockrum gets sole art credit in the issue but there're certain panels where the inks have a noticeably Neal Adams vibe to them, not least in the last three panels and also the full-page splash where the Avengers combine to attack the Thor-powered Macrobot.


Dougie said...

I thought there was something odd about those panels when I read Essential Avengers 6 during the summer. That's it, exactly: a Neal Adams influence.This is also one of my all-time favourite Avengers issues.

B Smith said...

Perhaps more Crusty Bunkers than just Adams...?

Boston Bill said...

This was one of the first Avengers comics I read as a kid. It was also the first Avengers that I liked, as Roy Thomas' story-lines always made me feel that I'd come into the middle of something.
I'd never heard of the swordsman, so it was odd to have him the single most featured Avenger. By the end of the tale, I really liked him. Then Roy goes and aces him (well, it wasn't going to be Iron Man, was it?)!
Oh, and check out Iron Man's nose! That faceplate didn't last long...

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