AVENGERS #141-149: The Serpent Crown Saga (and George Perez!) (1976)


First of all,  I love this 6-panel sequence:

beast moondragon vision thor

It represents so much of what made the Steve Englehart Avengers so great.  It starts out with a big, bold announcement of the villain du jour, with Vision saying “again?  This is getting monotonous!”  A moment uncharacteristically meta for its time.  In these days of Deadpool breaking the fourth wall every issue, it’s no big deal, but it didn’t happen that much back then.  It also is an example of the book starting to show its age.  141 issues in, the book was in fact starting to repeat storylines (we already discussed how this was happening with stories about The Collector).  I also love this sequence because Moondragon and Thor go off on their own ’cause they’re Gods and you’re not, and we see the introduction of a new role/characterization of The Beast as a ladies’ man.  His comic relief was a much needed injection to the book.

Also, Nelson Rockefeller appears!

And then, of course, there’s the art.

Steve Englehart continued to write the book, but #141 introduced the new regular artist “avengin’ ace George Perez.”  This was the book that made him famous, to the point where he’s now one of the best known, most loved, and most influential artists in comic book history.  Known for clean lines and intense detail–as well as skill with crowd scenes–all skills that would serve him well on a team book like The Avengers.  He stayed on through #202 (with some missingissues here and there), and this period represents–at least artistically–my favorite Avengers period.

Now, about this issue itself.  The title claims that it contains “The Squadron Sinister…”

Despite the fact that the alternate universe JLA team is, in fact, properly called the Squadron Supreme within the book itself.

Ah….That delicious George Perez art! And as the tale continues…

Kang sent Hawkeye back in time where he teamed up with Marvel’s Western heroes, and was later joined by Moondragon and Thor.

Great stuff. Oh, and if you’re confused…Yes, the dude in white was also known as Phantom Rider but is best known as the original Ghost Rider.

While he was there, Hawkeye had a bromance with Two Gun Kid, and gave a bit of foreshadowing…

When this saga is over, he’ll be quittin’.

And then Thor did this fist thing:

Q: What’s the difference between a saloon and an elephant’s fart?
A: One is a bar room, and one is a BAROOM!

Yes, Kang is in this story.  It’s  time travel story.  Of course there’s Kang!

Beast’s ex-GF becomes Hellcat.

Issues #145-146 tell a filler storyline by Tony Isabella and Don Heck, Cap gets a beatdown from a badguy called “The Assassin” (who looked like a cross between Cobra Commander and a KKK member) and ends up in the hospital. In the splash to #146, above, I like how Don Blake isn’t just a surgeon, he’s like the best surgeon in the world. But most of all, I like that Cap still has his mask on in the OR.

Then, in #147-149 we get the conclusion.
machine sex

The Squadron Supreme issues are always gold.

There’s also some homoerotic bromance stuff between Steve and Tony.

And through it all, Moondragon is a pain in Thor’s ass.

Creators: Steve Englehart and George Perez
Grade: A

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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