E199 - The newest Avengers are... a trio of supervillains? How does this make any sense?!? (Avengers #16 Part 1) -- May 1965
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Next week is our 200th episode! It was fortunate timing that it ended up landing right on our episodes about Avengers #16, which was one of the most important issues of the era. If you are enjoying What If Marvel was Real?, now would be a great time to spread the word! Thanks for your help in getting our little show out there, and for all the listeners who have been here from the beginning.
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss the surprise announcement that Hawkeye, the supervillain, will be joining the Avengers as a new member. The Federal Security Agency has given Hawkeye a thumbs up, but how is that possible? What do they know that we do not? Do we need to talk conspiracies again? The rumors are that Captain America and Thor are out of the organization. If true, we will only be left with heroes with technological powers - have the people behind the technology (and masks) been replaced? Is this the end of an era?
Behind the issue:
This is one of the key issues of the mid-60s. The Avengers were originally Marvel’s answer to the Justice League, whereby the publisher put all the heroes from different titles into one book to get the readers excited and turning over their hard-earned cash for tales of camaraderie and adventure. But the individual hero titles continued, and Stan had to keep his developing Marvel universe consistent. He had to juggle the storylines in, say, the individual title Tales of Suspense with what was happening in the team title Avengers. If Thor had been called away to Asgard, then how would be be around for an Avengers adventure that same month? Making it all make sense every month was challenging for Stan, and he wanted a solution.
The answer was to take most of the heroes with their own titles off the team. He kept Captain America, and maybe rationalized it by knowing that the Captain America stand-alone stories could be set back in World War II whenever he wanted them to be. Then he filled in the rest of the team with supporting characters from other titles - characters who did not have their own books (and would not get their own books for many years, i.e. Hawkeye did not get his first solo title until 1983; Scarlet Witch, with Vision, until 1982; and Quicksilver until 1997).
In this issue:
The issue opens with the Avengers once again emerging victorious over the Masters of Evil in New York, with Captain America defeating Baron Zemo in South America. It continues with Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp in New York having a team meeting and deciding to take a break from being on the team. At the same time they are having the meeting, Hawkeye breaks into their headquarters and asks to join the Avengers. His beloved Black Widow has been murdered by her employers behind the iron curtain, and he has had a change of heart on his line of work. The team decide to take him up on the offer, and on top of that, seek out new potential teammates, with the papers reporting this initiative. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver decide to apply to join the team, and they are admitted to the ranks as well. By the time Captain America returns, the team has been completed reconstituted, with Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp out, and Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch in as their replacements.
Assumed before the next episode:
People are excited, and a little nervous, that the Avengers roster has been changed so completely.
This episode takes place:
After the announcement that Hawkeye will be on the team, but before Captain America returns from South America.
Edward: Mike, I told you that Hawkeye was a superhero. I told you. I told you. You were like, oh no, he's not that good. He can't even fight anybody just as Arrows. Oh, go back to the 14th century. But no. Now Hawkeye is an Avenger. Mike. He's an avenger.
Michael: Yeah. I guess the Avengers, they already had a man who's basically a one man rocket and can shoot energy from his fists as an Iron man. They needed to get somebody who could. Arrows on the team.
Edward: Hey. The last time Hawkeye faced Iron Man, first of all, last time he faced Iron Man, he was a villain. We should talk about that. But when he did, yes, he defeated Iron Man, right? He blasted him with his energy discharge arrow and took him out. So, hey, this guy is versatile. We've had this debate. We don't need to debate it again. I think you are against Team Hawkeye. I am on Team Hawkeye. I think that it's absolutely fine from a power perspective that he's on the team. I'm not sure from a, ethics perspective, he's the red venture.
Michael: Well, okay, let's break into, those two points then. So from a powerless perspective there must be something to him that he brings into the team, right? I can't imagine that it's solely just really good aim. There must be some other, maybe he's got some other ability that like he's, um, some kind of like
Edward: oh, maybe his really, maybe his really good eyesight. Hawkeye
Michael: In the name, I mean alone, but he's got, there's some kind of, maybe, I'm just thinking maybe this is a signal that the Avengers are going from less, overt action to be more in the shadows.
Edward: And nothing says sneaky like a purple costume carrying a bow and arrow.
Michael: It's a dark purple ed. It's a dark, dark purple. No, but there must be something to it. Like he did take on Iron Man. He did seem to defeat him. So in a skills-based contest and maybe he's. Like you notice that Captain America wasn't at the press conference when they announced Hawkeye, so maybe he's a replacement for Captain America's, who's also similarly strategic and stealth based in a lot ways.
Edward: There you go. There you go. Cause the rumors are right now that Captain America and Thor are being replaced and Hawkeye is the first edition to the team, but there will be,
Michael: and your second point was the ethics. It does strike me as being a little odd that there's a guy who's worked with a known terrorist. The Black Widow. Correct. A Russian agent and he's fought Iron Man a few times. And, I would imagine in the course, Committed some crimes may, maybe he did, maybe technically he didn't commit any crime.
Edward: He did. No, I just did. I think they were doing something robbed. They were robbing Stark Corp or something. Yeah. They kidnapping somebody he was doing bad stuff.
Michael: They kidnapped, they kidnap people. Yeah. Yeah. That seems a bit much to sweep under the rug.
Edward: That's right. Where I come from, kidnapping is a crime, Mike. It's a crime. But come from planet, but not according to the federal security Agency. The federal security agency has approved Hawkeye as a member of the Avengers, says that his record is clean, that he is totally allowed to be on the team.
Michael: Well, I know when I became a lawyer there is a requirement of good character to become a lawyer and. I think that there's a lot of lawyers, so
Edward: I think the bar should be higher for the Avengers. Shouldn't the bar be higher than the lawyers?
Michael: I think it should be. I think it should be. It should be higher than the bar for lawyers. The bar for superhero should be much higher and it turns out that it isn't. And let's be honest, the Avengers are the super team that people are in, are interested in, and it that are called in as the heavy hitters. So this seems like. Quite a promotion for somebody who, as you say, committed the crime of kidnapping
Edward: That's interesting. Let's go back and talk about your issue with, Hey, lawyers have a high bar. I think part of the reason why we can hold lawyers to a high bar is that the supply of lawyers is really high. We're graduating more lawyers every year, and if there's an unethical lawyer, we can say, no thank you. We don't need you. We can replace you with an ethical lawyer. I wonder if the problem is, People who are powerful enough, superheroes who are powerful, super people who are powerful enough to be Avengers. There's not an excess supply. There's a handful of these people. Mm-hmm. There's like a few dozen maybe on the planet. And so if you're looking to augment that team and your bar is high from a power perspective, maybe you have to bend a little bit on the ethics perspective.
Michael: Or maybe, if you believe in rehabilitation, which I do, maybe there's a steep rehabilitation curve? Because as you say, demand exceeds supply. And so if we need to have, Superpowered or super skilled people either we're willing to turn a blind eye or we're willing to go through the process that hopefully allows him to achieve rehabilitation. So behind the scenes there's been this sped up process. Yeah. Because we need to have this person. I know what you're saying. It does seem a little fu but
Edward: it does. I'm stretching a little bit, trying to make sense of the fact that we have a known super villain on the team. And not just on the team, but specifically signed off by the federal government, the federal security agency has come on and said, Hey, this guy is clean. He's totally, totally legit. Now, and maybe the other possibilities that maybe the whole villain thing that Hawkeye was doing before was a misunderstanding, like the, the Avengers declared martial law on America. Turns out it was a mistake. Right? It wasn't actually them maybe and we're okay with that because Avengers do good, Avengers do. We'd say, oh, the bad was a mistake. We're all good. And Hawkeye just didn't do the good part at the beginning. He was just doing much of bad, but then like, oh, nope, we are okay with it. It was a, it was kind of a mistake. It was a misunderstanding. He's actually a good guy and maybe we just have to accept that.
Michael: I guess, and the fact that it's Iron Man who he's fought, who's come forward and vouched for him, must mean there's something to the idea there
Edward: that's assuming Iron. Man is Iron Man.
Michael: I know it's the Iron Man with whomever that person is has come forward and voast for him? For, for Hawkeye, and
Edward: well, no, no. Let's say a Iron Man has come forward and Vos for Hawkeye. Yeah. But that's a whole other point. We've talked about this conspiracy. Do we know that the Iron Man inside the Iron Man suit is the same as the Iron Man who was in the Iron Man suit fighting Hawkeye. Maybe the Iron Man inside the suit. The individual inside the suit has been replaced and now he's like, I was an enemy with the old guy in the suit. Let's bring on some more of the people who are also his enemy onto the main team.
Michael: So a hostile takeover, Eddie, like you got. This Iron Man. That's not real. Who's recruiting a villain and who's left on the team? Who are the other people on the team? Ed?
Edward: Well, we know that I think giant man in the WASP are still people on the team, and so, hey, we, know that giant man in the wasps, their powers come from technology, right?
We know this now too, right? There's some sort of helmet or pills or something they take and they wear masks. We don't know who they are. Maybe they've been replaced at the same.
Michael: It's Wild Day, so the three members of the team of the Avengers, who are technology based, Iron Man, giant men in the Wasp are still on there and they could be swapped in. And interchangeable. For all we know. Thor isn't exactly interchangeable.
Edward: That's right too. So the two people that are not, that looks like they're being replaced are Captain American Thor and Thor is, that's right. Clear. Like whatever. Thor is magical, powered, mutant. We don't know exactly what he is. We know that he is not an armored suit. He's not taking a pill. And turning to Thor and Captain America we know is some experiment from like the 1940s during World War ii, who is Un aging and like super strong. And he's a super powerful individual. He's physically fit and he's not replaceable either. He's not like, you can just put someone else, put the,
Michael: there's footage of him going back to the forties as well, so maybe hard to just replace him. Whereas you have the, you're right, you have the only three members of the Avengers left are one second, easily be swapped out, and now they're. Pac a villain, or at least a criminal.
Edward: I think somebody should be taking photos of the lower half of Giant Man's face and matching that up to previous photos. I guess you could still replace him with someone who's lower Jaw looks the same, but maybe they didn't go to that much trouble. I think someone should at least investigate.
Michael: Or get his dental records, or photos to get a sense of his teeth and then compare them to old photos and say, aha, aha, I can see that that front tooth is shifted over quite a bit. That's not the same giant man.
Edward: He's like, but I was punched in the face. I'm an avenger. I can punch in the face a lot.
Michael: Uh, maybe wouldn't be the best one. But the nose, even like noses are pretty distinctive. Or even ears that they pot. Well, I don't think ears pot though, but
Edward: his ears are covered. We don't, we don't know what his ears look like,
Michael: but this all goes through our fundamental problem is that we, as a public and as the fifth, the state, have a hard time, Getting a sense of who these people are or possibly being fooled because they wear masks. And I guess, if we see that the Avengers as basically a very public facing, paramilitary organization that's to some degree manage or governed by the government say the Federal security agency in this case, then I guess there must be some safeguards. I good, good guess, but it's hard to say.
Edward: And even if there are, it feels like, it's not the first time that you can imagine some corruption within the government, right? Maybe it's not even, a giant corrupt thing that we're talking about, but maybe that giant man in the wasp, our agents of the government, Iron Man is an agent of the government and somebody in charge. Whoever we don't know who that is. Someone in charge decides to bring on Hawkeye, and let's say all five members of the team are. Forget it. We don't want this guy on the team and the government guy's like, no, no, no, no, no. We've done the checkup. He's totally fine. He's totally legit. But they're like, no, we, we all quit. And so Captain American Thor are gone. You can't replace them, but you're like, oh, well hey, you three, you can't quit. You can quit if you want, but whatever. Tom Jones and Bob Smith can quit, but a giant man and the Iron Man in the was, they don't quit. They just get replace.
Michael: Yeah, this deserves investigation. This deserves further inquiry. There's too many moving parts of the story to just let it sit. It's easy to be distracted by a new member of the adventures for the public, it's the first new member that they've added since they formed,
Edward: no, no, no. That's not true. That's not Captain America came on. They, and he joined the team. Wonderman came on and he joined the team. Now, Wonderman died almost before we knew he was on the team. But he was an official Avenger for Okay. Some period of time. So this is the third new member of the team.
Michael: Okay. It's still relatively unique though, let's just say that it's a big deal. Like Captain America is a new Yeah, it's a big deal. So it's, but it's distractingly. Interesting. And so other people, other journalists, and if I don't think we would consider ourselves journalists, but maybe we should, in this instance, should be asking these tough questions. And then I would think if they are truly a paramilitary organization, there is an interest, a public interest in perhaps knowing their identities in the same way that you would of any kind of, Government agents, unless they're spies, which the adventures aren't.
Edward: Okay. Can we talk a little bit about speculation? We've done this conspiracy stuff, but now we have so it's true the Captain American Thor are off the team. I think your argument is that Hawkeye kind of replaces Captain America and I can buy that, right? Like they're both extremely talented individuals in some way, shape, or form. Both of them have projectiles that they incorporate one arrow and one a shield. I would argue arrows. More effective than shields start in terms of projectiles. But so that leads Thor. How do you replace an as guardian thunder God?
Michael: Maybe with a Hulk. I don't know. Like, I mean, like what?
Edward: Yeah, that went well last time.
Michael: Maybe. The Thing, maybe.
Edward: Oh, maybe The. Thing. Oh my gosh. That's a great call. Great call. Maybe it's time to shift things up.
Michael: Yeah, I mean like maybe he's tired of being I wouldn't say that the fantastic four second tier, cause they aren't, but they do serve a different niche right, than the Avengers. And maybe that's true. Maybe Ben Grimm who was in the military. His interest might align better with a paramilitary organization rather than a more adventuring kind of organization. Fantastic.
Edward: That's a great idea. Now, here's another theory is that Hawkeye was a villain that they got over to the hero side. Why don't we look at the list of villains out there? Radioactive man. Radioactive man from China. They decide to he's gonna defect and join America and join the Avengers. Because I would argue radioactive then wasn't evil. He was just serving the wrong master. And people have defected from China to America all the time.
Michael: I mean, it'd be hard to get notice to him over in China, but Sure. He does have a skillset. He is extremely powerful. Similar to, I don't think he's the same strength level as Thor, but
Edward: hasn't he battled Thor? Isn't Thor and radioactive man, aren't they arch.
Michael: It's hard to tell. How many battles do you have to be an Archie enemy?
I think you need a few, but,
Edward: Just a regular enemy.
Michael: Yeah, he's an enemy. Well, how about, okay, there's two. I'd say if you wanna go straight on, as guardian to as guardian, it would be the executioner. Executioner, yeah. Or Loki. Are the, oh Loki. If you could rehabilitate in the way that they rehabilitated, Hawkeye presumably, but I'd imagine rehabilitating an ancient immortal being that it might be a little tough. Tougher it. A little tougher to serve the interests of America or the world.
Edward: No. You've been focus, we've been focused on like strength though too. Mr. Hyde is another strength strong guy. Yeah. Right. Maybe Mr. Hyde. But I wonder Thor is more than just a strong guy. He's more than. Pure muscle, the guy can fly. Remember we talked about how fast he can fly across the ocean?
Yep. So do we need a guy who can fly? Like how about the wizard? Can we bring the wizard back?
Michael: Yeah. But it's not like he's made a couple mistakes. Like you suggested maybe hot guy. He's a career criminal now. He just broke bad. How about, how about that guy with the, the wings from the x.
Edward: Oh, angel Fly. Angel could fly Fly Angel. Yeah. Angel. Angel could fly. Yeah. You know, I think the point is it's gonna be hard to replace Thor cuz there's people who are strong that we could find. There are people who can fly. We could find, but trying to find somebody who can do both, that's a pretty unique spot. I think maybe there, there were, they made a mistake to let Thor go.
Michael: Like I say, it's a developing story and I'm still distracted by the idea for lack of a better term, a super villain. Hawkeye is now in the Avengers, seems kind of funny. For a couple reasons. And then longstanding Avengers are just, I just disappeared. The only ones that remain are ones who are basically, are suits, where power suits seems kind of strange. Yeah. Yeah. And I wonder what's happening. You know, we gotta get into this.
Edward: There's also the point that we, this is all speculation too, because they did not say the Captain American Thor off the team. There was questions asked, and it was all just no comment. No comment, no comment. We're not gonna talk about it. What did he, he said something about the lives of Avengers are private citizens. We can't comment on them. Like, it was a definitely a very sketchy statement of we're not gonna go there.
And so, hey, I guess stay tuned is the answer. More to come. More to come.