This is "From a Different Point of View," a feature where I discuss a comic book series with another writer. In this case, it is CBR's own Eileen Gonzalez who will be going over the history of the Avengers with me, story by story!

We continue with Avengers #22, "The Road Back," by Don Heck, Stan Lee and Wallace Wood

Brian Cronin: Man, since Wood has gotten here, they seem to do SO MANY spotlights on Scarlet Witch's face, right?

Brian Cronin: They're really well drawn.

Brian Cronin: But it's also kind of odd.

Eileen Gonzalez: Her hair probably looks the best in close-up out of the three. Best not to think too hard about whatever Pietro has on his head.

Brian Cronin: It's so funny how Magneto became the father of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch purely based on Neal Adams giving him Quicksilver's haircut when we first see Magneto without his helmet

Brian Cronin: Which wasn't until he had been around for SIX YEARS!

Eileen Gonzalez: Oh, how I look forward into diving down into the rabbit hole that is the Maximoff family tree!

Brian Cronin: We get to watch Magneto use his powers to make his daughter dance seductively for him.

Brian Cronin: With only Don Heck's apparent lack of knowing how to draw a woman dancing seductively keeping it from being INSANE.

Eileen Gonzalez: Fun, fun and more fun with the Mighty Avengers

Eileen Gonzalez: Speaking of Scarlet Witch, it's weird that she wants to part "as friends" here. When were they ever friends?

Brian Cronin: I guess "Let us all part as lingering assholes to each other" doesn't quite roll off the tongue the same wasy

Brian Cronin: You know things are doomed when Wanda takes off her headdress!

Brian Cronin: Man, the scenes with Cap pouting - Wood adds such emotiveness to those panels.

Brian Cronin: Quicksilver's dialogue is...odd. "Then, you have the gall to insult one who was your most loyal follower." No one talks like that, right?

Brian Cronin: It's like Mantis is here already.

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, Cap really is so expressive in this issue.

Eileen Gonzalez: And Quicksilver has always talked a little weird. Maybe because English isn't his first language.

Eileen Gonzalez: Or he inherited the need to be dramatic from his dad.

Brian Cronin: I think Lee's dialogue is just particularly overwrought this issue.

Brian Cronin: "Captain America is no punching bag for any fledgling fighter who can't curb his temper!" I mean, what the what?

Eileen Gonzalez: At least Cap and Hawkeye almost have a nice moment there as the team disbands.

Brian Cronin: It's crazy, though, how rude they are to each other.

Brian Cronin: Cap, in particular, stands out as being a bit of an oaf in all of this.

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, he's definitely ruder than usual here. Even Wanda, who is normally super polite, gets in on the action.

Brian Cronin: Tensions are obviously high, but yeah, ooph, it's tough to watch.

Brian Cronin: Cap, at least, does try to reconcile a bit at the end. That's something. More than the others, at least.

Eileen Gonzalez: And that leads to half a page of Cap being sad that the team is kaput, with a side order of some Bucky angst. Must be extra hard for him, since he was made the leader after the original team left.

Brian Cronin: Yeah, that was really effective. This guy really HAS seen some shit, hasn't he?

Brian Cronin: One thing that it is hard to reconcile, that few writers have even really APPROACHED is that Cap is barely older than Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, right?

Brian Cronin: He was obviously roughly a college student when the US entered World War II, so at MOST, he was 25 when he went into suspended animation.

Brian Cronin: Yet he gets treated like, well, Methuselah.

Brian Cronin: Even by the writers!

Eileen Gonzalez: Agreed. Sure, if you take it literally, he's twenty years old than they are, but I don't think the decades spent frozen in ice count! And yet even Cap admonishes himself for being "too old." Probably all the bad stuff he's gone through makes him feel more mature than the others. But still.

Brian Cronin: It's just this weird approach that all the writers latched on to over the years, that Cap was just this elder statesman. It's interesting how things like that just get fastened into place.

Brian Cronin: Etched into the collective consciousness.

Eileen Gonzalez: Someone has probably already done this, but I'd like to see a writer tackle the psychological toll that must have had on him.

Brian Cronin: Some writers have touched on it, but yeah, not many.

Brian Cronin: The best was probably Mark Waid's miniseries Man Out of Time.

Brian Cronin: It's hilarious that the Avengers have no job skills.

Brian Cronin: Then again, it says something about themselves that the only other jobs that they can think of for themselves are as entertainers.

Brian Cronin: That might speak to how seriously they took their superhero duties.

Eileen Gonzalez: It's weird to me that they go out looking for jobs AS superheroes, even though they know everyone hates them. Hawkeye could just take off his mask and get a job as Clint Barton, but no, it's Hawkeye or bust for him.

Eileen Gonzalez: On the other hand, it's nice that these three are sticking together.

Brian Cronin: Well, only because they couldn't get solo.

Brian Cronin: Where are Pietro and Wanda living?

Brian Cronin: Do they have money?

Brian Cronin: Are they still at Avengers Mansion?

Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, good question. I thought the whole team mooched off Tony Stark.

Eileen Gonzalez: Wouldn't it be funny if, after that whole big scene of the team storming out, they had to slink back in to go to their rooms because they had no place else to stay?

Brian Cronin: Yeah, that are quite an impulsive bunch, so it wouldn't shock me

Brian Cronin: It strains credulity way too much to me, by the way, that the Avengers didn't realize that they were working for the Circus of Crime.

Brian Cronin: Not to mention, how is there still an audience at all for the CIRCUS OF CRIME?!?

Brian Cronin: "Hey, Billy, want to go head down to the Murder Arcade? It just re-opened after the owner got released from prison following his prison sentence for murdering people who played games at the Murder Arcade!" "Sure!"

Eileen Gonzalez: Honestly, I can see people going for that.

Eileen Gonzalez: But the Avengers really should keep up to date on new supervillains!

Brian Cronin: Not just new supervillains

Brian Cronin: But ones who SERVED PRISON SENTENCES!

Eileen Gonzalez: Plus the fact that they are just blatantly evil.

Brian Cronin: True.

Eileen Gonzalez: I wouldn't trust that ringmaster for the time of day

Brian Cronin: I like the panel that implies that they're all just sleeping together in the big tent.

Brian Cronin: The Ringmaster is such a moron.

Brian Cronin: "Well, I could hypnotize you before you even knew what was going on, or I could tell you my criminal plan first and then try to hypnotize you depending on how you react to my criminal enterprise."

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, that's hilarious.

Brian Cronin: You can tell why Joe Casey loves the Clown. He's just such a bizarre character.

Brian Cronin: He's just, you know, a CLOWN.

Brian Cronin: That's it. That's his superpower. He's a clown.

Brian Cronin: And when Scarlet Witch uses her powers on him, he's all shocked, "But how could this happen? I'm a top clown!"

Eileen Gonzalez: I do have a soft spot for the Circus of Crime, just because they're so bad at their jobs. Princess Python just jumps into the fray WITHOUT calling her python to help!

Brian Cronin: And she somehow knows that Scarlet Witch is the most powerful superhero in the world that you can stop by simply putting your hand over her eyes.

Brian Cronin: The bit with Scarlet Witch knowing fighting moves from being trained by Cap was a nice touch.

Brian Cronin: That seems to be the only thing Cap taught anyone during his time as leader so far.

Eileen Gonzalez: Yeah, it's the first indication we've had that they ever worked together as a team.

Eileen Gonzalez: Even if it was just behind the scenes.

Brian Cronin: I imagine that's supposed to be, like, all of their bonding and success.

Brian Cronin: It all happened off panel.

Brian Cronin: "Oh yeah, trust us, they've been doing really well. Just not when we see them on panel."

Eileen Gonzalez: Heck, we actually got to see Cap training the Teen Brigade, but not the actual Avengers.

Brian Cronin: It is like the opposite of Perry Mason. Someone once noted to Raymond Burr that it was weird how Mason won all of his cases and he remarked that we were only seeing the cases that occurred on Saturday night.

Eileen Gonzalez: Ha!

Eileen Gonzalez: Gotta love how the Ringmaster ends this debacle by just calling the cops.

Brian Cronin: "Who would believe that the Circus of Crime are the actual bad guys?"

Brian Cronin: "No one!"

Eileen Gonzalez: Hey, at least they served their time. Not like those lousy troublemaking Avengers

Brian Cronin: I love Hawkeye's insightful "If I had speed powers, I wouldn't need so many arrows."

Brian Cronin: How profound, Hawkeye. How profound.

Eileen Gonzalez: And he follows it up with "Well things can't get worse, can they?!" Oh, Hawkeye, you innocent.

Brian Cronin: I think we need to take a moment here to warn our readers.

Brian Cronin: They're about to see a level of profanity that you just don't expect to see in a mid-1960s Marvel comic book.

Brian Cronin: Okay, if everyone is ready, we will continue.

Brian Cronin: But again, be forewarned!

Brian Cronin: With the Avengers now on he run, young friendships are torn apart as some kids defend their heroes and others brand them villains. One child, so sure that the Avengers are villains, gets so frustrated with his friend's insistence on the Avengers' innocence that he unleashes the disgusting slur, "Your uncle eats pickles."

Brian Cronin: I'm sorry, I know that CBR is not a place where you should see such a language, but, again, we DID warn you.

Eileen Gonzalez: I personally have been haunted by that line for years.

Eileen Gonzalez: WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

Brian Cronin: The only thing I can even VAGUELY guess is that it's sort of a gay slur, maybe? Pickles being phallic and all.

Eileen Gonzalez: I also had a weird idea that it was a holdover from World War II (because Germans... like pickles? I don't know where I was going with this.)

Eileen Gonzalez: Meanwhile, I think we're putting more effort into sussing out that line than the writers put into Giant-Man's whereabouts.

Eileen Gonzalez: "Where'd he go? Your guess is as good as ours!"

Eileen Gonzalez: "The Wasp? Who's that?"

Brian Cronin: It's really outstanding.

Brian Cronin: "Seriously, people, if we don't have a comic book to sell you, we just don't care."

Brian Cronin: I love Enchantress being sort of intrigued by Power Man.

Brian Cronin: "Eh, maybe i could do worse."

Brian Cronin: And now we get to one of the most insane plans in Avengers history.

Brian Cronin: It's like something you'd see in a Three Stooges short.

Eileen Gonzalez: And yet it works. That doesn't reflect too highly on Power Man, does it?

Brian Cronin: Well, what can you do with the renowned acting and disguise-making skills of Captain America?

Brian Cronin: And in a year or so, he will fashion a perfect face mask out of mud he finds on an island (?!?).

Eileen Gonzalez: He did get away with dressing in drag once, so this is easy.

Brian Cronin: That's a very good point.

Brian Cronin: It's kind of funny how Cap basically suggests Dark Avengers here, 50 years ahead of time.

Brian Cronin: It's good to know Enchantress' powers alerted her to the recording AFTER it was recorded.

Brian Cronin: I also like Cap's attempts to get them to not open up the case. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

Eileen Gonzalez: If nothing else, everyone's goofs lead to a nice little fight scene.

Eileen Gonzalez: It's good that Cap had the chance to get a little revenge after the Enchantress interfered in their last match-up.

Brian Cronin: True. Also, Cap's shield picking up the tape makes NO sense, right?

Brian Cronin: It's like how Heck doesn't get how objects work

Eileen Gonzalez: That part made me laugh

Brian Cronin: Swords boomeranging, shields flying over, scooping things up and returning to Cap's arm.

Brian Cronin: It's madness!

Brian Cronin: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

Brian Cronin: I can't believe Cap JUST NOW put two and two together and figured out that Power Man has Wonder Man's powers.

Brian Cronin: Also, neat little bit by Stan to hang a lantern on why Enchantress just doesn't use her magic on Cap again. Nice writing there.

Brian Cronin: But yeah, great, great Cap/Power Man fight.

Brian Cronin: Heck and Wood at their best.

Eileen Gonzalez: I just love how the Enchantress is only now realizing that, hey, maybe giving this random bozo powers wasn't a great idea.

Brian Cronin: This is right around the time that Wood drew one of the greatest fights in Marvel history.

Brian Cronin: The Namor/Daredevil melee in Daredevil #7

Brian Cronin: So he's a huge help to Heck here.

Brian Cronin: It's adorable that Cap thinks Hawkeye's powers are better than his.

Eileen Gonzalez: Poor Cap, his self-esteem really is in the toilet.

Eileen Gonzalez: Also, gotta love Power Man calling Quicksilver a "weak-kneed weakling." Bet he stayed up all night thinking of that one.

Brian Cronin: It's also interesting how the Avengers are bragging about how they're fighting a TEAM now

Brian Cronin: And yet their coordination is still pretty much non-existent.

Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe they're trying to scare their opponent by making themselves sound better.

Eileen Gonzalez: Not that it works.

Brian Cronin: Nope, 'tis beauty that felled this beast.

Brian Cronin: Poor Power Man, as the bard once wrote, "He did it all for the nookie."

Brian Cronin: And now that Enchantress is gone, he just doesn't care.

Brian Cronin: Later writers would do some great work with just how messed up Erik Josten's self-esteem was.

Brian Cronin: It's really kind of fascinating how Lee and Heck doing, like, BARE BONES character development on these characters

Brian Cronin: Would lead to later writers doing really in-depth stuff. That, I guess, was the real advantage Marvel had over DC.

Brian Cronin: Stan Lee wasn't giving in-depth characterizations to these characters, but he was doing SOMEthing. Which was more than DC could say for most of their titles.

Eileen Gonzalez: I was going to comment on how Power Man's crush on Enchantress seemed to come out of nowhere, but it is interesting how later writers were able to draw from that and spin it out into real character development later on.

Brian Cronin: You can tell that Heck was proud of his way of getting the other team members there, even though it wasn't particularly clever.

Brian Cronin: Also, when the heck did Cap have time to mail off the tape?

Eileen Gonzalez: Maybe one of the Teen Brigade was standing outside waiting to play messenger boy

Brian Cronin: I adore the fact that city government realizes they screwed up and go to apologize, but also quickly pivot to "Man, we could make some real money off of this Avengers Day deal!"

Brian Cronin: I liked when Kurt Busiek brought Avengers Day back during his run with George Perez.

Brian Cronin: But it really captures Lee's cynicism with government well.

Eileen Gonzalez: Ha, yeah, that's a great bit.

Brian Cronin: Edward G. Robinson took over for Cap for the last couple of panels, where he "kisses off" the Avengers.

Brian Cronin: It's pretty funny how this particular plot point really goes nowhere, but hey, it's a cool cliffhanger!

Eileen Gonzalez: I do like the ending in the sense that everything doesn't just magically fix itself. Like, the Avengers have been genuinely terrible to Cap (and vice versa), and it's nice to see some consequences of that, even if they only last for about one issue, if I remember right.

Eileen Gonzalez: Though I'm wondering why the Avengers didn't bring any charges against Power Man. They're trying to be nice, I guess?

Brian Cronin: I guess since no one trusts the Avengers, then framing them can never really be a crime.

Brian Cronin: Okay, next time, we resolve Cap's plot quickly and then get into what I personally think is the highlight of the Lee/Heck run!

Eileen Gonzalez: Can't wait!

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