Chapter One The Avengers Disassembled
The idea for this series of blog posts originated in a dream. Inside my dream I was re-reading Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers and writing a book about the series a book similar in vein to Robert Shearman’s Wanting To Believe: a critical guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen. Obviously instead of following my dream and writing a book I’ve resorted to writing a series of blog posts, long blog posts, perhaps barely readable blog posts, posts that seem to me completely pointless, so why write them?
Because I can. It’s the reason why any of us do anything.
The Avengers Disassembled was written by Brian Michael Bendis and mostly illustrated by David Finch but with the odd few pages here and there pencilled by artists Olivier Coipel, Alex Maleev, Steve Epting, Lee Weeks, Michael Gaydos, Eric Powell, Darick Robertson, Mike Mayhew, David Mack, Gary Frank, Michael Avon Oeming, Jim Cheung, Steven McNiven and George Perez. Also included are a few pages by Stan Lee and my favourite comic book creator Jack Kirby. Some comic book fans, myself included, think of Marvel Comics as The House That Jack Built.
Avengers Disassembled begins at Avengers Mansion Antony Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis serves The Avengers members in residence The Wasp, Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Captain Britain. The Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, is a founding member of The Avengers. Hawkeye is Clint Barton usually portrayed as a loud mouth volatile type with a chip on his shoulder. Ant-Man is Scott Lang the same Ant-Man from the recent Paul Rudd starring Marvel Studios movie. Captain Britain, Kelsey Leigh Kirkland, inherited the title after sacrificing her life.
Bendis’ Avengers, and the DC Comics event series 52, drew me back into tales of superheroes after several years of finding myself disillusioned with such seemingly pointless stories and continuous series. Here in The Avengers Bendis introduced realistic characters having realistic conversations it’s like reading an American TV show, think NYPD Blue and Homicide, some American TV shows overflow with great characters, fantastic dialogue, engaging plot lines and story arcs that when binge watched via DVD and Blu-ray box sets is better than crack. Or so I believe, to be honest I’m not quite sure what crack is.
I want my comic book entertainment to be marvellously written to be as akin to a television series on a par with The Sopranos and The Wire, Lost and Battlestar Galactica, for far too long comics have been regarded as just for kids, superhero comic book stories have especially seemed like childish affairs and then along came The Avengers Disassembled and Hawkeye having a conversation with Ant-Man about sexy females he’d like to shag having settled on Viper, Madame Hydra, Hawkeye is met with comments from She-Hulk and The Wasp as he, Hawkeye, being a pig. She-Hulk is Jennifer Walters cousin of Doctor Bruce ‘The Hulk’ Banner. The conversation being had here is of a nature never, or very rarely, used in The Avengers comic books before and it’s fun to note that superheroes sound just like me, and you.
This unusual dialogue for an Avengers story is rudely interrupted by the arrival of Jack of Hearts previously thought deceased while saving the life of Cassandra Lang daughter of Scott. Ant-Man rushes from the mansion to greet, and if necessary aid, Jack of Hearts who bears a striking resemblance to a Marvel zombie and whispers ‘I’m sorry’ before he explodes killing Scott Lang and destroying the mansion.
Before taking in completely the shocking events of these first few pages there’s a scene shift Tony Stark at the United Nations building addresses an audience of esteemed U.N. delegates and with his address going well to begin with something sinister happens and Stark becomes a raving lunatic singling out the representative from Doctor Doom’s Latveria who is defended by the Wakandan delegate T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, on stage Stark is joined by his longtime friends Yellowjacket (Doctor Henry Pym) and the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff). Pym is the original Ant-Man and a founding member of The Avengers. Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, is the mutant daughter of Magneto though recently that seems to have been changed, due to the movies perhaps? She, and her brother, are now experiments of the High Evolutionary.
Tony Stark’s lunatic ranting is believed to be due to his falling off the wagon, Antony Stark having been an alcoholic since 1979, in 1979 Stark resembled a man in his early thirties in 2004, year of Disassembled’s publication, Stark still resembled a man in his early thirties, but how? In a recent comic book, Worst X-Man Ever, a female mutant revealed she had the power to keep saving the world, saving it by revising it and characters like Iron Man have been at a set age for a good sixty years thanks to her and no one has noticed. She also confessed to finding superheroes cool and the world needed them so they never grow old or die.
This character, Miranda, is kind of like Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Susan Richards of Fantastic Four fame it’s claimed by some comic book fans that Franklin Richards controls the Marvel Universe his mutant powers manifesting at an early age and that he, Franklin, has managed to keep himself at a child level rather than grow into an adult along the way he’s manipulated the rest of the Marvel Universe to remain at a young(ish) level and when a superhero dies it’s Franklin that brings them back to life again. There’s a website that deals with this idea in greater depth Google Franklin Richards controls the Marvel universe and click the link and read for yourself and remember in Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars Franklin Richards re-created the Marvel Universe and all present and future stories take place in a reality created by Franklin.
These characters, Franklin and Miranda, aren’t the only ones capable of bending, manipulating and breaking reality in Disassembled the character attacking The Avengers possesses such abilities, scarily so, and their attack is almost relentless leaving The Avengers incapable of mourning their dead.
With Avengers Mansion destroyed, Scott Lang dead, the Avengers reeling and in disarray Captain America and emergency services arrive at the scene in time to watch an Avengers flying machine, known as a Quinjet, fall from the sky piloted by the android Avenger The Vision. Out of control The Vision climbs from the wreckage to confront his team mates and apologises in advance at his shame before his jaw opens impossibly large and deposits smooth metallic spheres that evolve into Ultron drones.
The Vision was created by Ultron and the psychotic robot intelligence was in its turn created by Doctor Henry Pym. The Avengers defend themselves admirably against their deadliest foe but as the fight wears on artist David Finch expertly crafts the emotions of She-Hulk as she slowly succumbs to her savage side culminating with her tearing The Vision in half and rampaging violently across New York City, a rampage that’s brought to a halt far to quickly by the armoured fist of Iron Man.
This fight against She-Hulk leaves The Wasp and Captain Britain injured, in critical condition, while mystery enemies discuss their next move. In the opinion of Hawkeye the Avengers have just experienced the single worst day in their long history and with the arrival of many a former Avenger at the Avengers Mansion that’s now a crime scene things are going to get far worst. Especially for Hawkeye,
In this tale Captain America takes Tony Stark to his word, believes in him, considers him a dear friend, oh how things are going to change when the pair come to blows in Marvel’s Civil War but that’s in the future in their present, 2004, the Avengers witness an alien invasion the Kree have come to Earth. In a battle The Avengers and their allies should lose instead they win but at a cost Hawkeye in a ‘NOT LIKE THIS!’ moment flies himself and a Kree soldier to a fiery death.
With The Avengers in mourning and the Kree threat defeated, well vanished, Doctor Strange appears in astral form to reveal to the stunned Avengers that the villainous villain behind their bad day is one of their own, SHOCK! HORROR!!, the Scarlet Witch has lost the plot and turned on those she once loved.
This sudden hate of The Avengers originates with The Wasp, during an innocent conversation she accidentally let slip the fact that Wanda once had two children, twin sons, children who were actually aspects of the demon lord Mephisto. In another flashback Scarlet Witch confronted the powerful witch Agatha Harkness the person responsible for Scarlet Witch’s memory loss. Meantime, The Avengers refuse to accept Doctor Strange’s revelations, Carol Danvers, now Captain Marvel, particularly vocal insists, ‘no she’s… she’s a good person. She’s… she’s our friend!’ But once The Avengers confront Scarlet Witch Carol’s protests of her innocence turn to rage at her friend and The Avengers find themselves fighting people they fear and/or hate Carol Danvers attacked by the X-Man Rogue (Rogue a longtime ago stole Carol’s powers and memories), Captain America faces Red Skull, Spider-Man attacked by versions of himself, and The Avengers in general by The Hulk and Ultron.
The Avengers bad day ends with Doctor Strange defeating Scarlet Witch and the arrival of Magneto, thought at the time to be her father, to carry her off to safety.
It’s a thrilling read Disassembled a riotous overly dramatic narrative that brings a logical end to The Avengers and I for one have been happy re-reading the book and revelling in such superhero action packed dramatics.
The Avengers, some members in civilian clothes, gather at the ruined mansion, their home for so long, they lick their wounds and count their losses. Janet Van Dyne and Captain Britain have survived their injuries and both announce their leaving of The Avengers. Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, is so ashamed of her actions she’s refused to make an appearance as her gamma irradiated alter-ego.
Iron Man reveals he’s no longer capable of bank rolling The Avengers he’s no longer in possession of such funds. Tony Stark lurches from billionaire to pauper on a semi-regular basis currently in the brand spanking new Franklin Richards created Marvel Universe he’s going through a pauper stage.
With the end of The Avengers in sight Carol Danvers asks, ‘ so this is it, right? We’re done.’ Which eventually leads Doctor Henry Pym to ask Tony Stark, ‘Tony what was our best moment?’ and Tony replies, ‘the best thing we ever did was getting together in the first place. I was so new to the armor and to the adventure, and when the team got together… Hulk included… I said to myself THIS IS WORTH DOING. THIS IS IMPORTANT. A super group. Don’t tell anyone I ever said this out loud, because I know it sounds arrogant beyond comprehension, but I always thought of us as The Beatles of superheroes. I will never be more proud of anything in my whole life. That’s why I picked up the check in the first place. It was the best money I spent.’
And then The Wasp picks her best moment, ‘… finding Captain America. We needed him. The country needed him. Look at him… we STILL need him. From the very second he joined The Avengers… the entire team was energized. I think of that day and I still get chills. Wow, when I saw that shield… I couldn’t believe it. Captain America is here. Thank God.’
There are other best moments remembered by Hank Pym, Wonder Man, The Beast, Carol Danvers and Jarvis, great moments, The Kree/Skrull War, the wedding of The Vision and Scarlet Witch, the Korvac Saga, the defeat of Thanos, the Masters of Evil invading and taking over Avengers Mansion. And then…
… then there’s Captain America’s toast to those who have fallen, Clint Barton, Scott Lang, and his colleagues join in, The Vision, Captain Mar-Vell, Jack of Hearts, Swordsman, Mockingbird, Doctor Druid, Whizzer, Two Gun Kid, Gilgamesh, Marrina, Thunderstrike and finally Carol Danvers ends with, ‘how about to all of us. Wanda, too.’
The Avengers, to me, aren’t just fictional characters they’re like family I’ve known them longer than every one I know, except for my mother, they’ve been a constant in my life for almost forty years my history and their history intricately intertwined so much so that I can shed tears, of joy and sadness, with their greatest moments and their one bad day.