Two guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

X-amining Avengers Annual #10

"By Friends -- Betrayed!"
1981

In a Nutshell 
The first appearance of Rogue.

Writer/Co-Editor: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Michael Golden
Inker: Armando Gil
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: M. Golden
Co-Editor: David Anthony Kraft
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In San Fransisco, Spider-Woman rescues an unconscious woman falling from the Golden Gate bridge. Taking her to the hospital, she is identified as Carol Danvers, the former Avenger known as Ms. Marvel, but her mind has been wiped clean, essentially functioning at the level of a newborn. The doctors are mystified, but Spider-Woman puts in a call to Professor X. Arriving in San Fransisco, he confirms that Carol's mind was completely and forcibly erased, though he manages to pull a name and image of her assailant from her subconscious: a woman named Rogue.


Spider-Woman goes to New York to question the Avengers about Carol, but arrives just as Rogue attacks the team, stealing Captain America and Thor's powers and adding them to the ones she permanently stole from Ms. Marvel, before flying off. At the same time, at Stark International headquarters, Iron Man is attacked by Mystique, who uses a device to immobilize his armor. At Avengers Mansion, Spider-Woman tells the surprised Avengers about Carol's condition; when last they saw Carol, they believed she had left to live happily in Limbo with a former Avengers foe, Marcus Immortus, whom she professed to love. That night, Mystique and Rogue free the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from Rikers Island prison by dropping the paralyzed Iron Man on a power generator, cutting power to the building.


The Avengers, who have been tracking Rogue's energy signature, respond, and a battle breaks out between the two groups. The Brotherhood holds their own until the power Rogue absorbed from Captain America and Thor begins to fade and Iron Man recovers, at which point Mystique and Rogue flee, leaving the rest of the Brotherhood to be recaptured by the Avengers. A few weeks later, the Avengers arrive at the X-Mansion where Carol has been staying while Professor X helps her recover her memories, though she tells the Avengers she still has a ways to go. She explains that Marcus Immortus used mind control to make her love him, and that once she escaped and returned to Earth, she stayed away from the Avengers, feeling betrayed. Carol admonishes them for standing by as Immortus controlled her, and they apologize, vowing to do better.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue is the first appearance of Rogue. Though she debuts here as a villainous member of Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and will continue in that role for a few years, she will eventually join and become a mainstay of the X-Men, and thanks to her continual role in the various cross-media X-Men projects, like the cartoons and movies, is one of the better known X-Men characters amongst the general public.


Though later stories will consistently portray Rogue as being a late teens/early twenties-something Southern belle (even before she becomes an out-and-out sexpot under Jim Lee), here she skews quite a bit older (though the pseudo-phonetic Southern accent is there, including her propensity for calling people "sugar"), and her connection to Mystique is more or less non-existent (Mystique simply refers to Rogue as her protege).

Ms. Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, is rendered powerless in this issue, as a result of an unseen attack by Rogue just prior to the opening of the issue, in which Rogue permanently absorbed Ms. Marvel's flight, super strength and invulnerability, as well as her memories. Though Professor X is eventually able to restore Ms. Marvel's memories, he is unable to restore her emotional connections to those memories, a condition which exists to this day. This confrontation will come to define both of these characters for some time to come, and the depowered Carol Danvers will, following this issue, become a supporting character in X-Men for a time.

Though the fight between the women goes unseen, it was originally planned to occur in the final two issue of Ms. Marvel's solo series, scripted by Claremont. But the title was canceled before the issues saw print, and Carol ended up joining the Avengers for a time. Once she was written out of that book, Claremont used this annual as a means to regain control over the character, picking up Carol's story from where he left it (despite those issues never being published) and allowing him to bring her over to X-Men. Eventually, the unpublished Ms. Marvel issues were printed in Marvel Super-Heroes #10-11 in 1992, and they are included in the Essential Ms. Marvel collection.

Michael Golden provides the art for this issue. Best known for his runs on Micronauts and The 'Nam, Golden never quite made a huge name for himself, working on lots of small projects but never establishing himself with a lengthy, definitive run on a title, though his detailed and more realistic style would be an influence on later artists such as Art Adams. 

The new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants make their second appearance, with the members captured at the end of "Days of Future Past" freed from prison by Rogue and Mystique before getting recaptured. 

The impetus for this issue, as discussed below, is largely Chris Claremont's reaction to an earlier story in Avengers #197-200, during which Ms. Marvel mysteriously becomes pregnant, gives birth in record time to a rapidly-growing child who eventually is revealed to be a form of sometimes Avengers foe/ally and lord of the extra-dimensional Limbo, Marcus Immortus, who kidnapped Carol to Limbo and seduced her in order to be born into the Avengers reality. Eventually forced back into Limbo, Ms. Marvel chooses to accompany Immortus, and the Avengers happily wish them well. Claremont believes that Carol was essentially raped by Immortus in that story (he used his devices to subtly influence her into loving him) and that the Avengers were cads for standing by and not questioning why Carol was so in love with Immortus, and uses this issue to give Carol an opportunity to tell the Avengers as much.  


In the beginning of this issue, there is a small girl at the hospital who is named Maddie Pryor. As Claremont will later appropriate that name for a character meant initially to be a coincidental Jean Grey lookalike and later a clone of Jean-turned super-villain, there's has been much speculation through the years that this Maddie Pryor is somehow related to the later Maddie Pryor. However, as detailed here, Claremont simply re-used the name, as it is the name of the lead singer of one of his favorite bands, Steeleye Span (a later appearance of this child as a manifestation of the adult Maddie's inner child in X-Men #238 was meant by Claremont to be an in-joke, referencing the fan speculation regarding these two characters) .  


For what it's worth, this annual occurs between issues #209 and #210 of Avengers, just before a big membership shake-up which occurs in issue #211, and Spider-Woman appears between issues #40 and #41 of her book.  

A Work in Progress
When Spider-Woman contacts Professor X, the X-Men are, you guessed it, repairing the Danger Room due to the damage caused by the N'Garai attack in issue #143.


Kitty and Nightcrawler work together to repair a power relay in the Danger Room, a further indication of Kitty's technical prowess.


Lt. Sabrina Morrell, a supporting character from Spider-Woman's book, is investigating the attack on Carol Danvers. 

One of the skulls on Mystique's belt is a radio. 


Upon seeing Mystique's true form, Spider-Woman wonders if there's a connection between her and Nightcrawler.


Iron Man mentions that the plane Mystique is using, and that she somehow has access to sophisticated weaponry, a hint at Mystique's secret identity of Raven Darkholme, who works for the Department of Defense.


I Love the 80s
That's quite the resume for a 29-year-old.


Try to contain your surprise there Hawkeye...


With a dry cool wit like that, Scarlet Witch could be an action hero.


Claremontisms
Expressing his affinity for aircraft, a narrative caption specifies that the X-Men's jet is a hyper-sonic, modified SR-71 Blackbird. 

Artistic Achievements
Great cover on this one. One of those classic "look what happens inside!" covers you don't see very often anymore.

Golden turns in a fantastic splash page depicting Scarlet Witch transforming Pyro's fire creations to stone. 


Young Love
Mystique refers to Destiny as her "beloved friend". 


Chris Claremont on writing strong women
"The women in my family tend to be very strong, or self-reliant. Capable. My mother was a sergeant in the Women's Royal Air Force during the war, was strafed a number of times, was continually being busted back from sergeant to private for fraternizing with Americans, and getting promoted back to sergeant because she was good at her job. You could probably trace my head back a number of years and find a point from which this all comes. And in terms of my writing there was a moment I think when I made a conscious decision by looking around seeing how few people were portraying heroic rational sensible women in books and comics. I thought, "I'll fill that vacuum - since no one else is doing it, I'll give it a try." Because in a sense I wondered in the ultimate kind of fiction, science fiction, could I put myself in the head of this being who was totally unlike me?"

"Women tend to get very short shrift in comics. They are either portrayed as wallflowers or as super-macho insensitive men with different body forms, who almost invariably feel guilty about their lack of femininity. And it's always seemed to me that, why does this have to be exclusive? Can you not have a woman who is ruthless and capable and courageous and articulate and intelligent and all the other buzzwords - heroic when the need arises, and yet feminine and gentle and compassionate, at others? That was what I tried to do with Ms. Marvel. I tried to create a character who had all the attributes that made her a top secret agent yet at the same time was a compassionate, warm, humorous, witty, intelligent, attractive woman."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion II. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p23-24

Claremont's reaction to the Ms. Marvel story in Avengers #197-200
"Avengers #199, where Carol Danvers is introduced to the Avengers, and they're told that in two days she has become eight months pregnant by an unknown father, or by force of persons unknown, and the reaction of the entire crowd, men and women both, is to the effect of "Can I babysit?" "Can we knit booties?" "Can I make cookies for the baby?" "Oh, you must be so happy?" and my reaction was, "What an insensitive crowd of boors." Actually, my reaction was a lot stronger than that. But how callous! How cruel! How unfeeling! Considering that these people must have seen Ms. Marvel only a couple days before, or even a couple months before. She wasn't pregnant then. How could she be eight months pregnant now? Now, if that had been the point David [Michelinie, the writer of the story] was trying to make, that these other Avengers are callous boors, okay then, I may disagree with the point, but if he followed through on it, it would have made sense. But it seemed to me, looking at the story, looking at the following story, that he was going for: "This is how you respond to a pregnancy."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion II. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p23

Teebore's Take
Though it ostensibly stars the Avengers and the X-Men make only brief appearances, this is a quintessential Claremont comic (so much so that he chose to include in Marvel's Marvel Visionaries: Chris Claremont hardcover collection). A decidedly feminist story, it is written both in defense of one of the characters Claremont has always felt protective of, Ms. Marvel, and to take to task the creators who crafted a story in which the Avengers stand by and applaud while she is essentially raped. The closing pages, in which Ms. Marvel berates her fellow Avengers, is Claremont more or less speaking directly to his colleagues involved in the execution of Avengers #197-200. In addition to expressing his dissatisfaction with that story, this issue also features, alongside Ms. Marvel and the X-Men, Spider-Woman, making it the trifecta of Claremont's late 70s/early 80s characters.

But even putting aside the personal, feminist perspective that could have only come from Claremont at the time, this issue is also a Claremontian classic because it is a rollicking good superhero story. At its center is a fantastic fight sequence, brilliantly rendered by Michael Golden, in which the Avengers go toe-to-toe with the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and their newest member, Rogue (Mystique using an incapacitated Iron Man as a bomb to free the rest of the Brotherhood is pretty brilliant, and one of my favorite moments of the issue). Though she will linger on the sidelines as a villain for a bit, in Rogue Claremont will eventually give to comics another strong, powerful, independent woman, one who continues to this day to be a integral part of the X-Men franchise. That alone is probably enough to make Claremont proud. That her debut issue is so enjoyable is all the better.   

Next Issue: Uncanny X-Men #150
Magneto returns for the X-Men's sesquicentennial issue!

14 comments:

Sarah Ahiers said...

Jesus to all the Avengers. I mean, even none of the women thought to ask "WTF is up with you suddenly beign pregnant?"

Anyway, logistics question. How is it that Rogue can absorb Thor's powers? It seems weird to me that she can take powers from him that are bestowed by magic and godliness as opposed to a mutant ability which is in their DNA. But than maybe his godliness is encoded in his DNA? I don't know, but i'd like to hear your opinions on it. I'm surprised i've never questioned this before

Teebore said...

@Sarah: I mean, even none of the women thought to ask "WTF is up with you suddenly beign pregnant?"

To be fair, they did ask, and they did figure it out (Immortus impregnated her with himself, and he grew fast because there is no time in Limbo but there is time on Earth or some hoohah like that).

But everyone was just like, "aw, a baby, that's awesome!" instead of being, "it's kinda weird that some dude knocked you up with himself and you're just cool with it, especially when that dude isn't the most trustworthy of people, so maybe we should investigate this and not just accept it at face value when you say you love him and are running away to Limbo with him".

How is it that Rogue can absorb Thor's powers?

As far as I've always understood it, Rogue can absorb anyone's powers (and to a certain extent, their abilities), regardless of the origin of those powers. So she could take Mr. Fantastic's stretching powers (cosmic rays) and Spider-Man's wall-crawling (radioactive spider bite) or Hulk's strength (gamma rays), just like she would a mutant's powers.

She's taken Juggernaut's power, which is mystical in nature, so it's not surprising that she can take Thor's power as well. That said, I think, technically speaking, Thor's godliness is part of his DNA. His hammer gives him specific abilities other Asgardians don't have (and Rogue wouldn't be able to access those abilities even if she absorbed his power, because she wouldn't be worthy to lift his hammer), but the general "god powers" he shares with all Asgardians, like strength and durability and whatnot, she can take. Basically, in the MU, the various mythological pantheons of gods are considered their own race, like mutants.

Also, FYI, in this particular issue, it's a plot point that there are three characters in her fight with the Avengers whose powers she can't absorb: Spider-Woman, because her costume covers all her skin, Vision, because he's a synthezoid and thus not organic (she needs skin-to-skin contact), and Wonder Man, because he's made of ionic energy and that messes with her power.

Matt said...

I think I've only read this issue in its entirety once. Whenever I re-read this run, I tend to skip it because the X-Men aren't prominently featured, and to be honest, the first time I read it, it didn't impress me. Maybe I should give it another try. I do love Golden's artwork.

But anyway, for perhaps the first time ever, I really have nothing to say! I haven't read the Marcus storyline in Avengers either, so I'm just generally pretty uninformed about the whole deal. Though I've always found it funny (in a distubring way) that Carol moved to Limbo to marry her son...

Anyway, I know Jim Shooter publicly apologized for Avengers #200 on his blog recently. Of course he did in a way that tried to absolve him of any guilt in the story (even though he's credited as a co-plotter).

Teebore -- "...she can't absorb: Spider-Woman, because her costume covers all her skin..."

She kisses men all the time to steal their powers, and Spider-Woman's mouth is uncovered.

I'm just sayin'...

Teebore said...

@Matt: Maybe I should give it another try.

I definitely recommend giving it another try. It's not 100% relevant to this run of X-Men, but it is a really solid, fun story in its own right, and Claremont does a nice job of recapping the Marcus story for those who haven't read it.

Though I've always found it funny (in a distubring way) that Carol moved to Limbo to marry her son...

Yeah, even if mind control wasn't involved, that's kind of eyebrow raising.

Of course he did in a way that tried to absolve him of any guilt in the story (even though he's credited as a co-plotter)

Of course he did. :)

I'm just sayin'...

I had the same thought. Apparently Claremont wasn't quite ready to push that envelope yet. ;)

Ugus said...

I just noticed Michael Golden coloured this issue himself. Maybe that's why some pages, like the Scarlet Witch splash-page, are given such special attention. That's definitely more detailed colouring than what was common for the time.

Teebore said...

@Ugus: That's definitely more detailed colouring than what was common for the time.

Yeah, I probably should have mentioned the coloring. It's definitely different than what was common at the time. There's even speech bubbles/thought balloons that get colored, depending on who is talking or what they're saying/thinking.

Matt said...

Speaking of the Scarlet Witch page, I recall reading a while back that it was ghost-inked by someone other than Armando Gil. I feel like maybe a handful of other pages were ghosted in this issue too, but I can't recall where I read all this.

Teebore -- "Apparently Claremont wasn't quite ready to push that envelope yet. ;)"

Or more likely Jim Shooter and Marvel weren't, because if I know Claremont, he was ready for it from day one.

Though the audience (or more likely the audience's uptight parents) probably wasn't ready yet either...

Teebore said...

@Matt: Or more likely Jim Shooter and Marvel weren't, because if I know Claremont, he was ready for it from day one.

Yeah, what I should have said was, "Claremont wasn't ready to fight that fight with Shooter yet." :)

Blam said...


I was surprised to see Claremont listed as an editor. He's in the GCD as an editor on exactly two things ever, reprints aside — on this (with DAK) and (with Ann Nocenti) on the Heroes for Hope one-shot. Is there text material in the issue, or something you've read elsewhere, that explains his editor credit?

My first exposure to Rogue was in X-Men #158, so reading this story years later gave it a weird "prequel" feel in terms of finally seeing the actual depiction of all the plot points I'd only heard about in retrospect. I suspect that the proper reading order would've changed my impression of Rogue as matronly — wanton kissing aside (I mean: Rom!?!?!) — but not by all that much, perhaps down from 50-something to 30-something, which is still pretty up there to a 10-year-old.

One of the skulls on Mystique's belt is a radio. 

I dearly love this sentence.

Upon seeing Mystique's true form, Spider-Woman wonders if there's a connection between her and Nightcrawler.

Rumors in the fan press notwithstanding, I never understood this speculation. They're both mutants. I'm pretty sure that there's supposed to be some overall genetic dominance in mutants, in the sense that one if not two mutant parents are more likely to produce a mutant child than two "normal" folks, but I never got the impression that specific mutant traits were passed down. Or is it just that, mutation aside, blue skin is blue skin like red hair is red hair? In which case the connection makes sense the same way that Quicksilver had premature if not lifelong white hair just like Magneto did — before we ever saw Magneto young in the movies, anyway; I do remember him having white hair even when de-aged... both times. Although now I'm thinking of how Polaris was sold as Magneto's daughter (which she really wasn't, except I think you mentioned that the confounding Chuck Austen revealed that she really was) and that Rachel Summers is a telepath/telekinetic like her mom, so maybe never mind, except neither Rachel nor Nathan (in any form, I think) have uncontrollable optic blasts, so...

Great cover on this one. One of those classic "look what happens inside!" covers you don't see very often anymore.

To give credit where it's due, Al Milgrom penciled and inked the cover.

I agree with you in concept a bit more than in execution, as Iron Man laid out flat like that looks kind-of doofy and the bottom face-off panel has a weird false drama to it; I know that it's purely representational, but it's funny to see the teams all squared off like that, Sharks vs. Jets, somewhat coiled for action but also just sort-of standing there. I suppose that we should be thankful, though, that here and inside Kitty's wearing her Danskins rather than the costume from X-Men #149-150 (since, for a continuity explanation anyway, the cameo at the mansion takes place later).

Expressing his affinity for aircraft, a narrative caption specifies that the X-Men's jet is a hyper-sonic, modified SR-71 Blackbird. 

Is this the first mention of a/the Blackbird?

Claremont: "My mother was ... continually being busted back from sergeant to private for fraternizing with Americans

Ha!

Blam said...


Sarah: Jesus to all the Avengers.

... Wundarr's here?

Sarah: How is it that Rogue can absorb Thor's powers?

Yeah, I find that questionable too. I hear what you're saying, Teebore, but as an Asgardian Thor's powers (hammer-granted aside) are kind-of innate. I suppose that since they're able to be removed, at least to an extent, by Odin, there's a sense in which they are powers as opposed to inherent biological abilities like Aquaman's "power" to breathe underwater and the concomitant physical durability that goes with living in the ocean depths.

Matt: Speaking of the Scarlet Witch page, I recall reading a while back that it was ghost-inked by someone other than Armando Gil. I feel like maybe a handful of other pages were ghosted in this issue too, but I can't recall where I read all this.

The GCD Issue Record has the whole thing inked by the credited Armando Gil except for Pg. 27 (I think of the story, not the issue) inked by Joe Rubenstein and Pg. 29, that interior splash of Wanda turning the fire to stone, inked by Dave Simons. It's sourced to a 2008 post at Daniel Best's informative blog 20th-Century Danny Boy (which got a welcome makeover since my last visit).

I don't know if this is worth mentioning, but Golden's pencils and even more so the heavy blacks in Gil's inking made a tremendous impression on Brian Michael Bendis and made the issue seminal in his love of Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman.

Teebore said...

@Blam: Is there text material in the issue, or something you've read elsewhere, that explains his editor credit?

I actually have no idea. There's no text material, and I haven't seen anything that explains the credit. Even the GCD lacks an explanation.

which is still pretty up there to a 10-year-old.

And still pretty up there for as young as the character soon gets portrayed.

Rumors in the fan press notwithstanding, I never understood this speculation.

Yeah, it's always seemed like a leap to me. I mean, yes, they have blue skin, but Mystique isn't furry, lacks a tail, has regular digits, etc. They have one shared, albeit one very standout-ish, attribute and a lot of things not in common.

But yeah, I think the idea is supposed to be that blue skin is blue skin like red hair is red hair. And the whole issue of mutant children inheriting their powers is a total crapshoot. For every Rachel/Nathan who share their mother's powers, there is Quicksilver, the super fast son of the Master of Magnetism.

To give credit where it's due, Al Milgrom penciled and inked the cover.

Thanks. I'm admittedly terribly about crediting cover artists, which is something I should especially do when I'm singling out the cover.

I suppose that we should be thankful, though, that here and inside Kitty's wearing her Danskins rather than the costume from X-Men #149-150

We should indeed.

Is this the first mention of a/the Blackbird?

I'm honestly not sure. It caught my eye reading it, making me think it was. But I wasn't certain, and didn't have time to hunt down the answer. So I simply noted the reference and left it at that.

...as opposed to inherent biological abilities like Aquaman's "power" to breathe underwater and the concomitant physical durability that goes with living in the ocean depths.

Although my understanding of Rogue's power is that, should she touch Aquaman, she would gain, for a time, those inherent biological abilities as well; her lungs would change such that she could breathe underwater, etc (note that when Rogue touches Nightcrawler, she becomes blue, furry and gains a tale). Hence, even if Thor's powers were biological, she would take on those attributes.

But again, that's just been my understanding. I could be wrong.

I don't know if this is worth mentioning, but Golden's pencils and even more so the heavy blacks in Gil's inking made a tremendous impression on Brian Michael Bendis and made the issue seminal in his love of Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman.

I did not know that. Bendis' love of Spider-Woman, of course, I'm well aware of, but I had no idea it was traced, in part, back to this issue.

Blam said...


I did not know that. Bendis' love of Spider-Woman, of course, I'm well aware of, but I had no idea it was traced, in part, back to this issue.

From my and Stefan Blitz's interview with him in Comicology Vol. II #4 (2001): "And the reason why I liked [Jessica Drew] so much was the way Michael Golden drew her in Avengers Annual #10. That was, like, my favorite comic. ... It had an Al Milgrom cover, and you open it up and it's Armando Gil and all kinds of crazy inking and coloring. I was like, 'What the f--- is this?" It blew my mind, 'cause I was a George PĂ©rez kid. ... The art was just freaking me out. The blacks were freaking me out, which is a funny thing considering [my art style now]. ... I analyzed it like the Zapruder film."

Teebore said...

@Blam: Very cool. Thanks for sharing that. I often forget that Bendis started out as an artist...

Blam said...


I often forget that Bendis started out as an artist...

Yeah. A writer/artist, to be sure, although he apparently did some graphic design and cartooning outside of comics to make ends meet early on — but I definitely noticed certain chops that almost surely came from his doing the whole package reflected in his Image and Marvel work from a decade ago, which is really the last Bendis stuff I read. That's not a commentary on what I think of his work, either, it's just a function of having to quit buying comics 10 years ago, then making the financial choice to jump back into DC and some favorite indie stuff rather than Marvel when I started up again.