This page by John Byrne is from an Avengers West Coast comic that came out when I was ten years old and at the peak of my superhero fandom.
I was very confused by this when I was ten. The dialogue makes it sound like the Scarlet Witch is going to do something sexual to Wonder Man, which would mean he’s protesting because it’s horrible that the woman he’s loved for years is going to do this while she’s unbalanced and evil. But the giant word balloons make it seem more like he’s in intense physical pain. Also, this was a comic aimed at kids in 1990, and I knew even then that they weren’t likely to imply even normal fellatio, let alone sadistic mindfuck fellatio. I also didn’t know much about what kinds of sex acts even existed, which meant there were a potentially infinite number of unknowable, perverted things she might have been doing.
But the scratches along his chest make it seem like maybe she’s going to keep scratching down— maybe she’s just scratching and hurting his dick? And that’s why he’s in pain? But that also seemed more risque than I would’ve expected. And it didn’t fit the dialogue.
Or did this somehow have nothing to do with Wonder Man’s dick? Is she taunting him with sexually suggestive words and then hurting his stomach and they’re weirdly keeping it off-panel? That seemed implausible. But so did the idea that Marvel was implying S&M handjobs.
I looked this up today, and even now that I know fancy terms like “fellatio” and “S&M”, it’s still confusing. Fortunately, the internet. So I found this explanation from the assistant editor about what happened.
First of all, it’s an interesting behind-the-scenes look at Marvel’s editorial process, if you’re into that sort of thing. More importantly: the page as published was altered from the original version John Byrne sent in! The link has a recreation of what the original page looked like, and an explanation of the changes that were made, and why. The original looked something like this:
No scratches on his chest, no bubbly superpower-effects coming out of her fingers, and most importantly, no top of her head in those bottom two panels. It’s still ambiguous, but the implication is much clearer: the newly-evil Scarlet Witch is giving Wonder Man a torture blowjob.
By the way: Wonder Man was my favorite character. I hero-worshipped him, I got a haircut like him, I pretended that I was him and that his adventures with the Avengers were my adventures, and when he confessed his longtime secret love for the Scarlet Witch a few months earlier, I rooted for her to love him back the way my secret childhood crushes never had.
Superhero comics have an older audience nowadays; this comic was aimed at 10-year-olds like me. I spent years wondering what could possibly be happening on this page. John Byrne scarred a generation. (But the scars were added on later. Zing?)
I do remember thinking it was creepy that, whatever happened, the rest of the Avengers all saw it.
my life became 600% better when i started acting like a self obsessed piece of shit like 10/10 would recommend
even if u don’t actually genuinely love yourself its fuckin fun to act like you think you’re the human embodiment of perfection go on try it life’s too short to not fall in love with yourself
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Elder Futhark vs Asgardian Alphabet
So because I’m a giant nerd I made my own translation guides for Elder Futhark and the Asgardian alphabet—at least the version used in the recent runs of Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers. Not sure if it’s consistent throughout the Marvel universe, but I highly doubt it.
On the left is the real Elder-Futhark-to-English translation, give or take. Some parts are debatable. On the right is the “gibberish” version used in JIM and YA for spells and such.
I tracked the original cypher back to here (lbr I never would’ve figured it out on my own even though it’s glaringly obvious once you see it), but created my own version because (1) I noticed a couple errors in the original and (2) I’m massively anal retentive when it comes to formatting.
Anyway, thought I’d share just in case anyone’s interested. Here’s an example translation from YA #3: