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Solo Avengers #19: Review

Jun 1989
Howard Mackie, Ron Wilson

Story Name:

Desert Doom

Review & Comments

4 stars

Solo Avengers #19 Review by (June 14, 2022)

Review: Hawkeye versus the Orb is a highly entertaining story, with the characters’ banter being the high point. And the mystery dome leads up to one of the unlikeliest moments in Marvel history: the entrance of Plantman being impressive.

The Black Panther story is an experience in itself: the haunting atmosphere, almost like poetry, permeates the tale from start to finish; incorporating a poem into the action contributes to this mood. And the art has a retro/Hal Foster (Prince Valliant) vibe which makes it look like an historical epic; this tale would repay a better printing. The story itself is a character study that just happens to feature a superhero fighting a monster as the catalyst for a human decision, followed by bitter irony. So what do we make of Philip Whitehead? Hero or fool? That is the question.

Comments: First story: Part one of three parts. The Orb was introduced in MARVEL TEAM-UP #15 then became primarily an enemy of Ghost Rider. Plantman started in STRANGE TALES #113 as a foe of the Human Torch in his early solo series and has bounced around quite a bit. Hawkeye has a lot to say about Ronald Reagan and WIZARD OF OZ. Second story: Wakanda is said to be next to the real-life nation of Zambia. T’Challa is said to have a passion for the poetry of (Rainer Maria) Rilke, (W.H.) Auden, and (Robert) Bly. The letters column has one by future comics creator Rol Hirst; there is also one by Darrell Pugh who has the same name as the father of Zachary (SHAZAM) Levi but it may not be the same person.  


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Solo Avengers #19 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Hawkeye on his sky-cycle is pursuing motorcycling bank robber the Orb across the California desert. Clint finally fires a suction-cup arrow which sticks to Orb’s helmet and jerks him off of his cycle. Orb fires his eye blasts, shooting down the sky-cycle but flying stone cracks open Orb’s big eye helmet, exposing his disfigured face. Both the motorcycle and sky-cycle are destroyed so Hawkeye fashions a stretcher to haul the unconscious villain to safety. It’s a long trek, without water or shade, until they come to a valley containing a giant glass dome. Entering through a nearby door, they discover a forest with a stream. They drink and Orb sits by a tree which enwraps him in vines; Hawkeye frees him with an acid-tipped arrow and then they are confronted by Plantman, ruler of this realm and angry that they harmed a tree. So he sics a giant carnivorous plant on them….

“The Vanities of Philip Whitehead” 4.5/5
Writer: Sandy Plunkett. Pencils: Sandy Plunkett. Inks: Scott Hampton. Colors: Sandy Plunkett. Letters: Gaspar Saladino.

Synopsis: King T’Challa hosts a weekend party on a small island for the dignitaries who are meeting to discuss the financial problems of the nation of Zambia, a neighbor of Wakanda. Among the guests is Philip Whitehead, a college friend of T’Challa’s who feels his life has been insignificant compared to T’Challa’s. On the way back to Wakanda, the plane crashes near a small island. Everyone makes it safely to shore and T’Challa is concerned about the cause of the crash. T’Challa finds Philip and begins cooking a pot of herbs as he tells his friend a tale. A Wakandan shaman treats people’s pain and grief by draining it into an ancient drum—but every ten years, a venomous beast is incarnated from the gathered sorrow and it is the duty of the King of Wakanda to defeat it. But T’Challa failed to note the date and so did not undergo the necessary preparation for the contest; the potion is their only hope. He drinks it, dons his Black Panther outfit, and goes off to confront the creature, leaving Philip alone to agonize over whether to help him. The huge goblin-like creature is more than a match for the Panther as it has venomous claws and can change to a mist form. Panther is raked by the monster’s claws injecting venom; Philip, who has drunk the rest of the potion, leaps into the battle and distracts the monster so Black Panther can spear it through the back. As the monster dissolves, T’Challa reveals he has been infected by the monster’s venom and is sure to die. Philip offers to suck the poison out of him to save his life….

Later, we see T’Challa relating the story of Philip’s death to his wife Rene. He says Philip, who died from absorbing the poison into his mouth, was a brave and noble man; Rene disagrees, calling Philip a little boy who wanted to be a superhero. She dismisses her visitor and mourns in solitude….

Ron Wilson
Don Heck
Paul Becton
Sandy Plunkett (Cover Penciler)
Alan Weiss (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jack Morelli.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther


(Clint Barton)

Plus: Plantman (Samuel Smithers), The Orb.

> Solo Avengers: Book info and issue index

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