'The Avengers' Countdown: It's a Mighty Marvel Monster Mash

'The Avengers' Countdown: It's a Mighty Marvel Monster Mash

Oct 31, 2011

John Gholson is a life-long Avengers fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. He’ll also buy any comic with Hawkeye on the cover. You can read his Avengers Countdown here at Movies.com every other Monday.


The Avengers FrankensteinThe Hulk isn’t the only monster to tussle with The Avengers. They’ve faced down Frankenstein’s creation, looked Dracula dead in the eye, and even had one of their own submit to the curse of lycanthropy. That’s one of the great things about Marvel’s characters -- their flexibility. One minute, they can be fighting crime in a New York alley; the next minute, they’re deep in space, stopping an alien invasion. What’s to stop them from taking on some of the classic monsters?

Marvel took advantage of a renewed public interest in movie monsters in the early 1970’s (thanks to late night syndicated TV), publishing Werewolf By Night, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Tomb of Dracula, and other, less memorable titles (like Supernatural Thrillers, starring The Living Mummy). The characters were less horrific than heroic, suffering from the kind of operatic inner turmoil that Marvel had made famous with their superhero tales. It was only a matter of time before the monsters marched out of their dark corner of the Marvel U to mix it up with some of the costumed crusaders.

Avengers #132 finds the evil time-traveler Kang the Conqueror plucking Frankenstein’s monster from the past and plopping him right into the middle of a battle with Thor, Iron Man, and the rest of the Avengers’ roster. Turns out the monster made a lousy recruit in the fight against the team. Since he’s mostly mindless, Kang couldn’t control him and the brute ended up wandering away, instead of bringing the pain.

Dracula ran across an abbreviated form of The Avengers in his quest for a book that could destroy all vampires, housed in the Avengers’ mansion. The story plays out in Dr. Strange #60, with Avengers Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) assisting Dr. Strange in protecting the sacred text from Dracula and his minions. Dr. Strange eventually uses the text to eradicate the vampires, but it didn’t stick (no deaths ever do in the Marvel Universe). Dracula is currently back in action fighting the Hulk in Fear Itself: Hulk Vs. Dracula.

One of the most infamous Marvel monster mashes occurred in Captain America #402-408 -- the “Man and Wolf” story arc that most fans refer to as the “Capwolf.” The First Avengers finds himself injected with a serum that transforms him into a werewolf and fights to restore himself to normal alongside the Avenger Dr. Druid. Wolverine, Cable, and Werewolf By Night all make appearance in the arc, which was largely dismissed by comic fans in the 90s, based on the premise alone. In retrospect, it’s an exciting little ride that’s no dopier than a cheesy monster movie.

Marvel’s not through with their monsters. Ads for upcoming issues of X-Men feature the return of Frankenstein’s monster and there’s a whole team of familiar-looking ghoulies, lead by the vampire Morbius, in the current Legion of Monsters mini. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Avengers cross paths with them again.

-- Aside from Loki and alien invaders, is there another monstrous threat facing The Avengers? ComicBookMovie.com claims they have the scoop from an Avengers call sheet, and speculate that an unlikely Iron Man foe may be making an appearance in the film.

-- Some fans have put together a “sweded” Avengers trailer that matches the original shot-for-shot, but for just a fraction of the budget.

-- And here’s the bizarro NSFW Taiwanese animated trailer for Avengers, which also ties in the story of ScarJo’s nude phone leaks.

 

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Episode Guide

Season 1, Episode 14: “Masters of Evil”

In This Episode: Baron Zemo has assembled his own team (Enchantress, Executioner, Crimson Dynamo, Abomination, and Wonder Man) to tackle the Avengers.

Here we finally get the payoff to the various background scheming of the villains, with a newly assembled Masters of Evil taking on the Avengers directly. We also get the worst “tough guy” line of the series to date, from Captain America, “I want my shield back -- it needs to be cleaned!” Groan.

There’s this thing that superhero cartoons sometimes do to make their weaker members appear stronger. In the first arc of Cartoon Network’s Justice League, for example, the entire team, including Superman and Green Lantern, are incapacitated, and Hawkgirl saves the day. I’m not against Hawkgirl saving everyone, but I am against hack writing in which the strongest characters are made to look weak for no good reason other than to let the lowest-tiered character saves the day and show how valuable they are.

Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Ant Man are the Avengers that turn the tide of battle against the Masters of Evil, but it feels like a blatant attempt to show them as valuable when placed shoulder-to-shoulder with Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, etc. Strangely, Black Panther has been treated as an almost unstoppably powerful member of the team since his introduction, overcompensating for his B-list character status.

I’m still not a fan of the way the show treats Wonder Man (the long-time Avenger sides with evil, hoping for a cure from his ionic energy form), but I assume the long-term goal is to set him up for his eventual redemption.

Marvel Universe Watch: This is the first episode that I can remember without any major Marvel Easter Eggs.

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