Marvel Adventures Avengers #37

Background

Once again, Marvel is using this book to raise the profile of some of its properties that some of the kids might be less familiar with. Two months ago it was Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos. This month, it's the All-Winners Squad.

Is there any relationship between all this and Marvel's recent marketing push of its Golden Age properties? We report, you decide.

Story 'Doll Winners Squad'

  Marvel Adventures Avengers #37
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Editor: Nathan Cosby
Writer: Paul Tobin
Pencils: Dario Brizuela
Inker: Leandro Corral

In a standard move for this title – which, come to think of it, used to be a standard move for comics back in the day – we open with a splash page, showing the Avengers and the All-Winners Squad locked in battle. Having two teams of heroes battle each other rather than a villain is a standard move for Marvel comics past and present.

The real story begins in 1954, when Golden Girl and Miss America make girl talk over tea and scones. They're concerned about the rest of the Invaders (so-called), who have recently gone missing. Cap and Bucky took off recently to track down Baron Zemo, and we long-time readers know what that means: Bucky is dead and Cap is frozen in ice, not to be revived until the present day. Except that happened in 1945, I thought. Huh. Anyway, Cap and Bucky's absence is not surprising, but what about Namor the Sub-Mariner, or the Human Torch, or Toro? Golden Girl and Miss America hope that the Whizzer, who just arrived, can help shed some light on this mystery.

Indeed he can. Immediately after his arrival, he disappears without warning into a strange green portal. The women, being heroes, hesitate only a moment before plunging through after him, into the present day. There, they find the Whizzer, enthralled by the Puppet Master! P.M. wants to enthrall the women too, but he hasn't finished their dolls yet. So he orders the Whizzer to subdue them until their dolls are ready. Unfortunately, he says that out loud, tipping off Golden Girl and Miss America that the dolls are the key to all this business. Once again, monologuing is the supervillain's Achilles' heel.

"One block away," as the caption has it, Captain America and Wolverine are getting pizza and shooting the breeze. Hearing the commotion, they rush to the scene, where Cap is stunned to encounter his former colleagues from the Invaders. They haven't seen him in a few weeks, but he hasn't seen them in years, and never expected to see them again.

While Cap reminisces with his former colleagues, the Whizzer slaps Wolverine around. Wolverine's claws and healing factor aren't much good against someone who can move at super-speed. Cap takes time out from his reunion to toss his shield at Puppet Master's dolls, which briefly disrupts the supervillain's control. He decides to split the scene until his dolls are finalized, taking with him the Whizzer and, courtesy of Whizzer's super-speed, a lock of Cap's hair. This is serious, of course, as the P.M. (if I may) requires some of his victim's genetic material to craft his mind-controlling dolls.

So the clock is ticking! Cap and Wolverine take Golden Girl and Miss America to Avengers Tower so that Iron Man and Giant-Girl can make a brief cameo: they do appear on the cover, you know. Having kept the editor of the book happy, the Avengers/Invaders squad breaks into teams to comb the city. They talk to stool pigeons and lowlifes in bars, but the winning data comes from "the Amazing Mr. Internets," an information broker who uses the Internet (natch) to dig up actionable intelligence while wearing a Doctor-Doom-style cape.

Yes, really.

It turns out that the Puppet Master used his powers to mind-control an alien judge to get another alien, who wears a Don-Johnson-style white suit and tie combo, exonerated for a series of crimes, and received in return a small supply of "time-bending dark matter," to steal the Invaders from the past, to take control of their minds, so that he can send them back to the past, to conquer the world!

Yes, really.

Really.

Anyhow, cut to a battle between the Avengers and their allies against P.M. and his mind-controlled minions: the Whizzer, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch and Toro. Punching, fireballs, and webbing ensues. Gradually, the Avengers secure the Puppet Master's dolls, and as they break them, one-by-one, the Invaders are returned back to the past. The issue reaches its climax with the question of whether Cap should take advantage of the opportunity his doll offers him to return to the past with the rest of the Invaders. He ponders the matter, but Wolverine resolves the question by smashing the doll. In this case, that doesn't return Cap to the past, but keeps him in the present, or something. End scene.

General Comments

I honestly don't know what to make of this. Did Paul Tobin get a writing assignment that he just didn't know how to handle, and this is the result? Did he decide to pull out all the stops, and this is the result? Did he just want to use the Invaders and the Puppet Master and not know how to pull it all together, and this is the result?

I dunno.

I mean, "the Amazing Mr. Internets" in his cape, trawling the Web for information about alien judges and time-warping, mind-controlling dolls.

I just dunno.

And believe me, Dario Brizuela's sub-cartoonish art doesn't help matters.

Overall Rating

Half a web.

Paul Tobin, whatever the writing process was that produced this...

...it's the wrong one.

Footnote

Er, didn't Cap disappear near the end of the Second World War? So what's all this about him going after Baron Zemo in the mid-1950s?

I know 616 continuity has an explanation for this, but it involves a second Captain America who isn't the same guy that got frozen in a block of ice for decades.

I'm sure there's an explanation, but after "The Amazing Mr. Internets" I find I'm no longer interested in it.