Thursday, November 01, 2012

One Night in Rutland: 1973

Well, maybe I should retitled this feature Two Nights in Rutland. As usual, I bit off more than I could chew last night. B. Kliban put it best when he said

and I might add to that, never promise to blog twenty-five times in a day. So let's spread out these Rutland Halloween Parade posts over the next few days, moving along to 1973's Avengers #119! It kicks off with the Avengers jetting off (past the Giant Moon Knight Weapon Butter Sculpture) to...where else but Rutland, Vermont, while at the same time faithful butler except for that time he sold out all the Avengers to Ultron Edwin Jarvis muses on the World's Mightiest propensity to eat junk food. Really, Jarvis, it's actually just that Thor loves the Happy Meal toys. (The girl toys, oddly enough.)

Panels from Avengers #119 (January 1974), script by Steve Englehart, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Don Heck, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Artie Simek

Of course, you can't have a Rutland Halloween Parade story without our old pal Tom Fagan welcoming the Avengers to Rutland, and you can't have a 1970s Marvel comic without a footnote referencing previous Marvel comics books, and, before Roy gets interrupted, almost referencing a DC comic book. That's a big no-no, Roy!

What's this? Tom Fagan, turned evil?!? (Well, his last name is reminiscent of the villain in Oliver Twist!) It's too bad Batman isn't here, because he would have spotted instantly that's not Tom, who does not refer to Rutlanders as "obnoxious townspeople." (Except maybe for that one guy who tried to shut down the Rutland Halloween Parade until he was visited on the night of October 30 by three ghosts.)

No, that's not Tom after all, but a supervillain in a rubber mask! Which isn't silly in and of itself, until we find out that the baddie is The Collector! Yes, folks...The Collector, the Cosmic Super-Hoarder who steals beings from all planets of the galaxy and places them carefully in Mylar™ snugs to preserve their value! Do you think, like a comic book fanboy, he likes to collect variant versions? "Over here I've got Steve Rogers Captain America, and on that wall James Barnes Captain America, and over there in that longbox I've got stored Bob Russo, John Walker, Earth-1610's Scott Summers...and I've got a coverless edition of 'Scar' Turpin."

Yep, that's right: one of the Elders of the Universe. The freakin' most powerful beings in the known galaxies. Guys like...well, you know 'em, let's name them off: The Collector, the Champion, the the Living Buda is one, I think...Giant Space Whoopi Goldberg...The Stranger...The Brother-in-Law...Sam the Butcher...we know them all, right?

Two-page splash page from Silver Surfer v.3 #9 (March 1988), credits as above
(Click picture to Galactusize)

Oh yeah, and that guy, too. Anyway, you're telling me that a being with complete cosmic awareness and galactic-sized power needs to wear a rubber mask? Next you'll be telling me that he hits his victims over the head and drags them into a bush!

Which makes the next scene, where the Collector takes over Tom Fagan's house and plans to kidnap the Avengers when they come to the party all the more awesome when he's foiled by Tom and his legion of costumed Vermonters! I do believe that in the last panel of this comic the Collector will growl that he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those meddling Vermonters! (This is a very good reason not to give maple syrup to the Collector as a Life Day present.)

How do you drive a Master of the Universe (no, not that one) mad Lock him in a room with comics fans! It's good the Collector escaped when he did, because next they were all going to play the Marvel Overpower Collectible Card game, and I don't care how many of those cards the Collector has, these guys have got more. Insert your own "Collector...we would have words with thee" speech balloon in the final panel.

So, all's well that ends...oh, wait! I forgot a dangling subplot from earlier in the issue: Thor has brought along to Rutland his villainous brother Loki! (Odin always is saying they don't do enough together.) Loki's brain has been erased after the events of the previous issue, and Thor's been trying to determine what the best and safest place to store this now-harmless Norse god. Thor would have put him in his storage space (with his motorcycle, his guitar, the cinder-block furniture from his first apartment, and his entire collection of Playgod magazines), but he defaulted on the monthly rental fees and the whole kit-and-kaboodle was auctioned off on A&E's Storage Wars. Heimdall was pretty peeved about that: he never got back the poster of Farrah Fawcett-Majors that he lent Thor.

In any case, Thor decides to leave Loki behind in the peaceful, idyllic community of Rutland, Vermont, where nothing wicked or evil ever happens except every single freakin' October 31st. Good going, Thunder God! I'm sure that decision will never come back to bite you in your well-toned, muscled ass!

Some of you may be wondering exactly what happened to Loki after that. Well, he fell in with a local woodsman and his brother, and he was so accepted by this friendly duo that they later adopted him as their own brother. Happy, happy days for Loki...probably the best time he had in his lifespan of the past several thousand years, and it was all up there in beautiful rural Vermont.

Next time: the world's most awkward wink! (No, this comic does not star Clark Kent.)


Blam said...

What's this? Tom Fagan, turned evil?!?
Ooh! I never knew you did a William Dozier impression, Bully.
Two-page splash page from Silver Surfer v.3 #9 (March 1988), pencils by Jack Kirby, credits as above
Oops... Here you go.

Bully said...

Whoops! The peril of a template. Thanks, Blam!