Underdog Week Begins!

AVENGERS #174, Marvel Comics, August 1978
All week this week is Underdog Week. No, I don't mean the Terrytoon of that name. I mean to talk about those stories that feature characters that shouldn't have succeeded where more powerful ones fell, stories of triumph against overwhelming odds. They're some of my favorites.

Case in point: Avengers #174, a Mantloriffic favorite from my youth which I bought for cover price (35¢) from an unwary classmate when comics already cost 75¢ (Canadian). I don't have the preceding or following issues, but it doesn't matter. It's easy to catch up. What happened before is that the Eternal known as the Collector has collected all of the Avengers ever (dude even has Two-Gun Kid), except four... which have just arrived on his doorstep to free their teammates. It's like finishing your collection in one big eBay package.

Our four: Thor, Wasp, Iron Man and Hawkeye. Who's the underdog in the lot? Certainly not Thor, though Iron Man seems to think so.
I'm not sure I buy this noble sacrifice. Maybe Tony was AUI (Armored Under the Influence). I dunno. Anyway, the Collector uses Iron Man's special "I'll take the hit" power against him, and when he covers for the Wasp, the bullets turn out to be for him.
Cigarette butts... of RUST!!! Next is Thor, whose Uru hammer is embedded in negatively charged electric creatures. The Collector next fires a positron cannon that doesn't do Hawkeye any harm, but zaps the negatively charged Thor. He's out.
Next: The Wasp*.
So we're left with Hawkeye. The only one there without any powers. And the Collector is really only getting him because he's a completist.
Yeah, I kept buying Uncanny X-Men far too long because of that.

So you've guessed it. Hawkeye is the proverbial underdog. Every single Avenger has fallen and the situation is grim. There's no way that grasping arrow taking away the Collector's wand will keep the archer safe for long. But the quiver is full, ladies and gentlemen. Alien pterodactyl? Bola arrow.
Incendiary capsules? Grappling hook arrow.
A blade arrow cuts some wires free, Hawkeye swings off them and lands in front of the Collector... who immediately starts using his cosmic powers to crush Hawkeye into the metal deck.
Wait, what arrow is that? And does he have a clear shot?
Answers: An electric arrow and OF COURSE HE DOES! Remind me never to play pool with Clint. So the Collector is rendered unconscious and Hawkeye can merrily wake all the other Avengers. For some, this is rather...

You know, this made me a fan of Hawkeye's for life. And not really a fan of Thor at all.
*For when the Wasp was the underdog, click here.


Austin Gorton said...

Looking forward to the week, as I too love the underdog (but really, who doesn't?).

Good pick with which to start the week, the quintessential Avengers underdog.

Also, I definitely think Iron Man suffers from that story far more than Thor.


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