RETRO REVIEW: Avengers # 181 & 182

Hey there fans, friends and family, welcome back for a new RETRO REVIEW.  This week it’s time to once again visit the Marvel Comics annex of the hidden underground comic book vault.  And I have emerged with two (2) comics in hand; Avengers # 181 & 182.  They are cover dated March 1978 and April 1978.

Issue # 181 has a cover pencilled by George Perez and inked by Terry Austin and it shows U. S. Government agent, Henry Peter Gyrich, addressing the gathered Avengers, telling them that only seven (7) can remain as Avengers, and the rest are O U T, out!  Take a look, George Perez has done what he does best, included a huge host of Avenger characters all squeezed into this cover.

Avengers # 181 March 1978

The story is entitled; “On The Matter Of Heroes!” and it is written by David Michelinie.  The breakdown pencils are provided by John Byrne and the finishes and inks are supplied by Gene Day.  And as you can maybe determine by the cover, the story entails the government limiting the Avengers to only seven members, so that they can regain their U. S. security clearances.

The story open with the Beast and Wonder Man at the movies watching the old 1930s The Adventures of Robin Hood featuring, Errol Flynn.  An actual still from the movie is used in the splash page to good advantage.  As they leave the theater you can clearly see Errol Flynn’s name on the marquee, but eagle-eyed readers will notice that Errol’s co-star is listed as Kurt Wagner (a little tip of the hat to Byrne’s X-Men comic!).

Once the Beast and Wonderz Man arrive back at Avengers mansion they are attacked by the mansion’s defensive mechanisms.  They quickly make short work of them and upon entering the mansion they are met by Tony Stark and a brand new character, introduced as Scott Lang, the future new Ant-Man!  Yes indeed people, this is the very first appearance of Scott Lang, so if you don’t own this comic you just might want to search it out, now that he’s a hero in the Marvel cinematic universe, with his own movie and everything!

Then all the Avengers, plus the Guardians of the Universe, as well as, other hangers-on, like Captain Marvel and Moondragon gather in the Avenger’s meeting room, where Gyrich tells them, as he did on the cover that to regain their priority security clearance, they must reduce their members to only seven.  But he takes it once step further and names the seven Avengers that shall remain Avengers on the current roster.

He names/appoints; Iron Man, the Vision, Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, the Beast, the Wasp and … the Falcon!  Hawkeye takes exception, saying that the Falcon is not even an Avenger.  Of course, Gyrich explains that the Black Panther would have been the seventh Avenger, to meet the need for equal opportunities for minorities, but as the Panther was currently unavailable to fill the slot, that his place would be taken by the Falcon.

It is at this point that Quicksilver complains and before he finishes, collapses.  Thor rushes him to the medlab, where he switches to his identity as Doctor Donald Blake.  Oh yeah, back on page six (6), the reader is shown a mysterious figure exiting a cab in front of Avengers Mansion.  a few pages later, the Scarlet Witch also collapses and Dr. Blake determines that the two heroes are not dead, but not alive either!

The rest of the issue shows the departing heroes and finally on the last two (2) pages, the reader once again is shown the mysterious stranger, who seems to have small puppets of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch trapped in small silver cages and as he looms over them is calls them … his children!

Thus ends issue # 181.  Here is the cover to the next continued issue, number 182:

Avengers # 182 April 1978

This issue’s cover is pencilled by Al Milgrom and inked by Bob Layton.  The story within is entitled; “Honor Thy Father” and it is written , as was the previous issue, by David Michelinie.  This issue the breakdown pencils were again provided by John Byrne, but the finishes and inks were supplied by Klaus Janson.

The story picks up immediately after issue # 181, with Dr. Blake trying to figure out what is wrong with the Avenger’s two mutants; Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.  It is at this time that Jocasta enters and tells the Avengers that she has traced an energy source.  Seven Avengers rush to follow the trail; Iron Man, the Vision, Captain America, the Beast, the Wasp, plus Hawkeye and Jocasta.

It’s at this point that Michelinie gives us a three (3) page flashback sequence, explaining why Pedro and Wanda have the last name of Maximoff.  They were raised by the gypsies, and this old man is Django Maximoff, who helped raise the two twins.  Something bad had happened and his wife was killed and he lost his memory until just a short time ago and he has finally tracked the twins down and wants to return to Europe with them.

So for those keeping score, this is the third possible set of parents for Pedro and Wanda.  First up, is Magneto, the second is the golden age heroes Whizzer and Miss America and now the gypsies, Django and an unnamed mother.  Then of course, you can toss in their connection to Wundagore Mountain and the High Evolutionary, just for fun.  I don’t think there are any heroes and any company who has had so many possible sets of parents and origins as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch!

Anyway, the Avengers arrive and Django Maximoff has to use the power of the Nivashi Stone (though I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this stone and it’s powers prior to this, or even after this) to animate other mannequins and then to create illusions for the Avengers to battle.

Eventually, the Avengers see through the illusions and destroy the Nivashi Stone, thus saving Pedro and Wanda. The story ends with Wanda taking a leave of absence from the Avengers and she and Pedro leave with Django to travel back to Europe for a while.

So it turns out that Django Maximoff wasn’t much of a villain, and the Avengers easily overcome him and then one of the hand-picked seven Avengers takes a leave of absence at the end of the story.  So the reader will have to come back next issue to see who will replace the Scarlet Witch as one of the sanctioned seven Avengers!

Okay, that wraps things up here for this RETRO REVIEW, but please come back next Friday for a new Fabulous Find.  Til then enjoy the spring weather, even if it’s a little rainy.  Be seeing you …

About Greg Turner

Greg Turner (@gregturner16) is Back to the Past’s archivist and an auctioneer. He writes the columns “Fabulous Finds” and “Retro Reviews” on alternating weeks for the website and spins classic 45′s each week for Vinyl Tuesdays.


  1. Jim Wyatt says:

    I do believe I was once possessed of these issues (before college homelessness prompted me into a short-sighted decision to gift the vast majority of my collection to a cousin). I will have to delve into my Avengers CD-ROM collection to relive this adventure. Nice write-up, as always.

  2. Greg Turner says:

    Thanks you for the kind comment. These posts are a labor of love, but still, I really do appreciate when people take the time to leave a comment, even if it’s a negative comment, or if they disagree with me!

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