This is “From a Different Point of View,” a feature where I discuss a comic book series with another writer. In this case, it is Eileen Gonzalez who will be going over the history of the Avengers with me, story by story!
When last we checked in with our heroes in Avengers #77, “Heroes For Hire!” by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Tom Palmer, the Avengers were forced to go work for an unscrupulous businessman named Cornelius Van Lunt after Van Lunt started a stock battle against Tony Stark. Stark needed to clear up his debts, so he forced the Avengers to pay the back rent on Avengers Mansion.
The Avengers were then caught up in a battle with these cartoonish villains known as the Split-Second Squad and it turned out that their leader was actually Van Lunt’s assistant and the whole thing was a scam to frame Van Lunt for the murder of the Avengers. Once the bad guys were captured, the Avengers quit working for Van Lunt (as Tony has now successfully fought off the stock battle). We now move to Avengers #78, “The Man-Ape Always Strikes Twice” by Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema and Tom Palmer
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Brian Cronin: I don’t know if there’s a less appealing title for a comic book than “The Man-Ape Always Strikes Twice!”
Brian Cronin: As we’ll get to at the end of this story, I almost get the feeling that Thomas mid-way through this story realized, “Wow, the Man-Ape really can’t be the only villain they fight, right?”
Eileen Gonzalez: It’s a weird reference for a weird story. But of course, anything involving Man-Ape is going to be distasteful no matter what.
Brian Cronin: Think about how bad the Avengers’ security is
Brian Cronin: That now villains are using the Mansion as their staging ground for ambushes…of Avengers!!
Brian Cronin: As we soon see, the rest of the Avengers ARE HOME, and yet they don’t get a quick enough alert that the Man-Ape is there, let alone that the Man-Ape is almost killing Captain America!
Eileen Gonzalez: I swear there’s an issue where the Avengers land on their own roof and set off the alarms by accident, forcing them to fight their own security. And yet Man-Ape was just hanging out there for who knows how long without a single alarm going off!
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe Tony Stark’s money problems from last time forced him to remove the roof security.
Brian Cronin: While we obviously both agree than the Man-Ape sucks.
Brian Cronin: I’ll at least concede that this is a clever enough way to establish his bonafides.
Brian Cronin: It makes him look tough (that he can almost kill Cap) and it gives Cap the out that he was attacked out of nowhere.
Brian Cronin: And Man-Ape IS super strong, of course.
Brian Cronin: But yeah, dude was even using parts of the Mansion to attack Cap!
Brian Cronin: How is no security system going off?
Brian Cronin: Maybe Tony was, like, “Until I get ALL the back rent, no security!”
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, it’s a good scene in the sense that it quickly establishes how clever and strong Man-Ape is to manipulate Cap into a trap and then almost kill him.
Eileen Gonzalez: And to have a back-up escape plan.
Eileen Gonzalez: How sad is the reason why Scarlet Witch doesn’t get involved in this fight and defeat Man-Ape instantly?
Eileen Gonzalez: “You’re in the way, Clint!!”
Eileen Gonzalez: Even though it doesn’t look like he’s in the way?
Brian Cronin: I think the idea is that even she cannot totally control her hex spheres.
Brian Cronin: As, again, no one (even Scarlet Witch) knows how her powers work.
Eileen Gonzalez: Fair.
Eileen Gonzalez: Though in that case, one would hope Clint would get out of the splash zone and let her work.
Brian Cronin: True, but in this case, I think Clint was pretty confident that he could knock the guy out with a cheap shot.
Brian Cronin: And remember, between the two, Clint’s the only one who actually fought Man-Ape.
Brian Cronin: So I think it’s fair enough that he knew that he could probably beat him with the cheap shot.
Brian Cronin: And Scarlet Witch doesn’t know exactly WHAT her hex sphere will do.
Eileen Gonzalez: In any case, it led to that panel of Clint getting smacked in the head with the metal handle thing from the escape helicopter. That was fun.
Brian Cronin: Before that, there was another weird Vision scene.
Brian Cronin: Where he somehow gets to the ground faster than Quicksilver?
Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, that’s weird. Especially since he apparently couldn’t do that trick in reverse and get back to the roof in time to stop Man-Ape’s escape.
Eileen Gonzalez: Also, I hope Pietro slowed them down a whole lot, or less landing in the Vision’s solid arms is not going to be any more comfortable than smacking into the pavement.
Brian Cronin: Right?
Brian Cronin: How does him making himself super solid help at all?
Brian Cronin: And then he’s a weird dick about it.
Eileen Gonzalez: That’s just standard Vision behavior at this point.
Brian Cronin: “The Vision! He saved us!” “Your words are wasted!”
Brian Cronin: “My android brain hates ‘thank yous’!”
Eileen Gonzalez: Come to think of it, if Pietro slowed down enough to not die after hitting Vision’s arms, he probably could have survived without Vision’s interference at all. So all Vision did here was break the sidewalk and then be a jerk about it.
Eileen Gonzalez: And leave his teammates to get beat up by Man-Ape.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, that’s what really confuses me.
Eileen Gonzalez: Physics! Who needs ’em?
Brian Cronin: Isn’t it weird/sad how N’Gamo is now flat out a henchman?
Eileen Gonzalez: I’m getting a real Toad vibe out of him.
Brian Cronin: Right?
Brian Cronin: I mean, looking back at his first appearance, he was definitely a lackey
Brian Cronin: But there was still a bit less of a Toad vibe.
Brian Cronin: He was more of a co-conspirator in #62, while here he’s all toady.
Eileen Gonzalez: At least he got in one good hit?
Brian Cronin: True.
Brian Cronin: And yes, it is always funny seeing Clint getting hit, in a Three Stooges sort of way.
Brian Cronin: As we see here, I’m likely off base about Thomas ever planning on Man-Ape being the main villain.
Brian Cronin: But boy, as a villain strategy, picking off Cap by himself AT AVENGERS MANSION while the rest of the Avengers were there, sure sounds like a terrible strategy, no?
Eileen Gonzalez: It SOUNDS bad, but he almost succeeded, so I mean…
Brian Cronin: Yeah, true.
Brian Cronin: That would be quite the obituary.
Brian Cronin: “Captain America, Legendary World War II Hero, died on Monday after being thrown off the roof of Avengers Mansion by the super sketchy, racial-wise, super-villain, Man-Ape. No word yet on why the Avengers’ security didn’t do anything.”
Eileen Gonzalez: I love how Cap was almost lured to his doom by a super vague, handwritten note. Have the Avengers EVER communicated with handwritten notes? Shouldn’t that have tipped him off?
Brian Cronin: And a vague, handwritten note sent through SHIELD.
Brian Cronin: That’s kind of impressive on its own end by Man-Ape.
Brian Cronin: That he was able to get a vague handwritten note to Cap through SHIELD
Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe SHIELD thought it was a love letter and didn’t want to pry.
Eileen Gonzalez: “Send it on through. It’ll be fine.”
Brian Cronin: Then again, we saw a story a while back where bad guys were able to just get a letter from Cap through an open window.
Brian Cronin: So I guess I might be over-estimating SHIELD’s abilities.
Eileen Gonzalez: I think we’re overestimating EVERYONE’s abilities in this comic.
Eileen Gonzalez: Or seriously underestimating the bad guys.
Brian Cronin: I imagine Man-Ape silently crying to himself.
Brian Cronin: “They never give me credit for my plans.”
Brian Cronin: “Why didn’t anyone think that maybe I just brilliantly neutralized the Avengers’ security system?”
Next time, see how Man-Ape’s attack was really part of a bigger plan!
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