Sure, I’m excited about The Wasp finally making it to the Marvel movie tapestry, but Janet Van Dyne isn’t the ONLY future film star in this issue… Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Avengers #83 awaits!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colorist: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Herb Cooper
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 15 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $120.00
Previously in Avengers: And there came a day like none other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes were forced to come together to defeat an unbeatable foe… Thus, The Avengers were born! One of those founding Avengers, Janet Van Dyne AKA The Wasp, was sometimes downplayed as a hero, thanks to being “a girl”, but in the ensuing half-decade, several other women joined the team’s ranks. Even so, Jan found herself surprised the month that I was born (or, to be honest, roughly 3-4 months ahead of the month I was born, thanks to newsstand cover-dating practices of the time) when she entered Avengers Mansion to find a council of all-female heroes in session…
Hearing her fellow Avenger, The Scarlet Witch, announce that the Avengers are no more and that the mansion now belonged to The Liberators, takes Jan by surprise, but she is calmed immediately by the words of the new hero in town, The Valkyrie! (In fact, she’s a little bit too calm, now that you mention it…)
Discovering her new strength, The Valkyrie (as seen in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, albeit with some changes made to fit the modern MCU) set out to right wrongs, fight evil, but most of all to balance the scales of gender inequality once and for all. Madame Medusa questions the need to specifically define the rest of the Avengers as The Liberators’ primary enemies, but Valkyrie reminds her that even in an age of women’s liberation, interactions among the heroes still feels pretty sexist…
By the time Valkyrie finishes her screed, Janet, Wanda, Natasha and Medusa are fully convinced of the truth of her words (even if they feel vaguely like they shouldn’t be.) With the help of her carriage and flying horses, which she plays off as technologically advanced but are CLEARLY magic in nature, they set off for…
…Rutland, Vermont’s annual Halloween parade?
We’ve talked about the Rutland Halloween stories before, including the infamous crossover sequence where Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway and Len Wein crafted an inter-company crossover long before Superman Vs. Spider-Man hit the stands. This sequence s full of neat little bits like Tom Fagan dressed as Nighthawk, Marvel’s ersatz Batman, since he wore a Batman costume in the real world, and Roy writing himself and his wife into the tale (something Roy became notorious for; his second wife Danette became the basis for the All-Star-Squadron’s Firebrand.) Fagan convinces the heroes to ride a float in the parade, only to discover that they’re not the only genuine articles present for the trick-or-treating…
For those keeping score, there’s another upcoming MCU character right there in Ulysses Klaw, whose Masters Of Evil have come to find a noted professor at the nearby Miskatonic University (a reference for Stephen!) to capture his work on parallel timelines, hoping to escape and plunder other worlds. The Avengers engage the Masters, but are stunned when Valkyrie and The Liberators sweep in and make short work of the villains!
Unfortunately, they also make short work of the other heroes, taking down even the might of Goliath and the synthezoid Vision in seconds with their battle cry, “UP AGAINST THE WALL, MALE CHAUVINIST PIGS!” With the male Avengers on the pavement and the female Avengers under her thumb, Valkyrie reveals her true plan: She, too, is after the professors time/space experiments, the better to get her back to Asgard, her home… where she can rule once again as… THE ENCHANTRESS!
Enchantress regales the mind-controlled and/or magically-manacled heroes with the story of how her long-time partner, The Executioner (yes, THIS Executioner) left her for another magical woman, after which Odin banished her to Earth at half her normal power. With the Professor’s device, though, she can return to Asgard, regain her mystical might and avenger herself on Odin, The Executioner and all those rotten men. But first, she has to murder The Avengers, while the Liberators watch, enthralled by her power.
Or, at least, that’s the plan...
It seems that The Scarlet Witch recognized Enchantress’ tone from their previous encounters, and was merely waiting for her moment to strike. The issue ends with a sorta cute/sorta-disturbing-in-hindsight argument between Clint “Goliath” Barton and Wanda Maximoff, leaving us with the possibility of more Liberators in the future. That, sadly, never happened, but there WAS more Valkyrie to be had, as later stories revealed that Enchantress stole the form and image of an actual Asgardian named Brunhilde, whom she had imprisoned. That Valkryie made her way to Earth and was a long-term member of The Defenders, with her last high-profile appearance being a couple of years ago as the co-leader of The Fearless Defenders alongside Misty Knight. I expect that, with the character making her way to the movies soon, we’ll get more Valkyrie soon enough, but as her first appearance, Avengers #83 makes a very Bronze Age impression, with a little meta, some cute Roy Thomas dialogue and lovely art from Buscema and Palmer, giving a few of Marvel’s female heroes some time in the spotlight, earning a fun, lively 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. As with many books circa 1970, it feels a bit rushed near the end, and features the Wall Of Text feature that old-school Marvel excels at, but it’s an interesting, important issue nonetheless.