Monday, October 20, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Breakdowns: Al Milgrom | Finisher: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Janice Chiang | Colorist: Carl Gafford | Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man breaks into Avengers Mansion to demonstrate his skill as a potential Avenger. But the group has little interest in his grandstanding and sends him packing as a priority alarm sounds. Outside the mansion, Spider-Man hitches a ride on the Avengers' departing quinjet and reveals himself when the heroes arrive at Project: Pegasus in upstate New York. Spider-Man helps Captain America, She-Hulk, and Starfox battle a group of rampaging Lava Men. Ultimately the fight ends when the Wasp and the Scarlet Witch arrive with Captain Marvel, who the Lava Men believe is their goddess. The Lava Men explain that their underground realm was pierced by Pegasus's magma tap, and the Avengers apologize.

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel's energy emissions have allowed the villainous Blackout to free himself from imprisonment within a device under study by the Pegasus scientists. Blackout teams up with fellow Pegasus inmate Moonstone, and together the duo springs Electro and the Rhino as well, and Moonstone prepares the villains to seize control of the Project's nuclear research dome.

The Sub-Plots: The Vision is comatose in the Avengers' infirmary, recovering from recently sustained injuries. Meanwhile, She-Hulk is searching for an apartment away from Avengers Mansion. Spider-Man thinks that becoming an Avenger will help him to pay the Black Cat's medical bills, and that the Avengers' salary will be more than anything he could make by getting a job as Peter Parker.
Later, Captain Marvel is seen taking out a small business loan in her hometown of New Orleans, in her civilian identity of Monica Rambeau.

Continuity Notes: Spider-Man reminds the Avengers that Thor invited him to join the team in issue 221 of their series. Later, he recalls quitting graduate school in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #243.
En route to Project: Pegasus, Captain America explains that the facility is an energy research station which doubles as a prison for energy-based supervillains. He notes that he helped put their security detail together in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #42, and also informs Starfox that AIM recently tried to take the place over in CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #7.
Later Spider-Man convinces Cap to allow him to tag along as the Avengers enter Project: Pegasus by revealing that he's been there before, teaming up with the station's former security chief, Wendell Vaughan -- a.k.a. Quasar -- in MARVEL TEAM-UP ANNUAL #5. The Project's new security chief is Michael O'Brien, in his guise as the Guardsman, last seen in IRON MAN #109.
Humorously, when O'Brien describes the threat to Project: Pegasus, Cap immediately pegs them as Lava Men. Spider-Man declares that he doesn't believe in Lava Men, prompting Cap to assure the wall-crawler, having faced them before in AVENGERS #5, that the creatures are no laughing matter.

Blackout recalls that he was "trapped in the light spectrum" in NOVA #19.

Uncle Rog Speaks: "Al [Milgrom] was always a great idea man, but he was often drawing another book, as well as pulling down a day job as an editor. Because of time constraints, we never got to really collaborate as much as I would have liked." -- THE ROGER STERN INTERVIEW: THE TRIUMPHS AND TRIALS OF THE WRITER, 2006

My Thoughts: In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #245, as he struggled to dig up information on Lefty Donovan, Spider-Man considered that if he were an Avenger, "I could just punch up Lefty Donovan's statistics on their computer. Or better, yet, I could have the butler do it, while I lolled around the mansion and counted the zeros on my paycheck!" And while our hero's main concern here is making money to pay the Black Cat's hospital bills, one can't help imagining that tracking down his new mystery villain is very close to the web-slinger's thoughts as he seeks out gainful employment among Earth's mightiest heroes.

Stern spends some time here in part one of his story showing us exactly why Spider-Man should not join the Avengers. Quite simply, he's just not a team player. Sure, he teams up with a different hero every month over in MARVEL TEAM-UP, but those are informal gatherings. Spider-Man is used to doing things on his own; he's spent his entire career as a lone wolf. So he waltzes into Avengers Mansion and believes he can join this government sanctioned team on the spot, with no red tape to wade through. Later, he tags along, uninvited, and seems surprised when Captain America tells him he's trespassing in a Federal facility. And during the fight with the Lava Men, Cap gives the wall-crawler a direct order, but Spider-Man tries to one-up his instructions and receives a stern lecture from the star-spangled sentinel after screwing up in the process.
But at the same time, Spider-Man proves useful to the Avengers, mainly by virtue of his spider-sense, as he alerts them to danger while they seek out the Lava Men. It may not be enough to get Captain America to take him seriously, but it certainly seems to open the Avengers' eyes to some potentially useful applications of the web-slinger's powers. The question is, is this enough for the Avengers to give this known loose cannon a chance in their highly structured and organized group? Common sense would say that no, a lifelong loner like Spider-Man would never join the Avengers. He may think he wants it, but we readers all know that to place Spider-Man in a team on a permanent basis would undermine a lot of what makes him special. If he can call on the Avengers for backup, he loses much of the appeal which makes him an effective "everyman" superhero.

Why, you'd have to be certifiably insane, or at least a completely creatively bankrupt writer and/or editor, to have Spider-Man join the Avengers for real...!

Next Issue: One more chapter from the AVENGERS: ABSOLUTE VISION, BOOK ONE collection, as Spidey's dalliance with the Avengers continues:


  1. Why, you'd have to be certifiably insane, or at least a completely creatively bankrupt writer and/or editor, to have Spider-Man join the Avengers for real...!

    Yeah, luckily it would stop at the practicalities anyway, as Spidey would need to be pretty much unmasking himself in front of lots of people and telling them "I'm Petey Parker. I sell pics of myself to J. Jonah. Oh, and, sorry 'bout the Stacys.". There's just no plausible way to take that one back so no editor would ever allow it.

    Which is just as well because I love how believably Spidey becomes a bumbling incompetent in team surroundings.

    1. I totally agree on the first count, but I have issues with the latter. Here it makes sense; he's probably nervous as he tries to prove himself to the Avengers. But Bendis and others continually depict Spider-Man as the team's class clown, not meant to be taken seriously by anyone. Yes, he makes jokes to lighten up the situation, but he's not stupid. The idea that Spider-Man -- who capably and routinely teamed up with other characters on about 150 different occasions between 1972 and 1985 -- becomes an insecure, yammering dolt when working with the Avengers on a regular basis is pure character assassination.

    2. I should have stressed I spoke mainly in this story arc's context and of this age's Spider-Man. The (post-)married Spider-Man is/will be an adult and a different man with much more experience, while here he has not yet totally grown out of the original Spider-Man setting of being essentially an insecure teen boy dressing up and calling himself Spider-MAN who's witty and easy-going.

      And it's exactly that Spider-Man who ends up here being at the wrong place at every moment because of that very attitude and by that token prevents the Avengers team working effectively as a team. He's pretty much being to his supposed team mates the very thing he's to any set of street gangsters he's fighting against.

      It's fun irony that his responsibility motivation seems only to amp up his insufferable Spiderics up to eleven that in the end it's Peter Parker the science nerd side of his that ends up being successful.

    3. Okay, in that case I'm with you. Since you'd mentioned the CIVIL WAR era developments, I assumed the rest of your post was about the more recent era as well.