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Panel Gallery: Avengers Assemble!

Longbox Graveyard #45

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NEXT WEDNESDAY: #46 Avengers — Kree/Skrull War!

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Posted on April 25, 2012, in Panel Gallery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Nice ones there. Have I said how much John Buscema’s cover to Avengers #58 rules?

    • I started grabbing these panels during my great Avengers re-read, which has gotten up through issue #58 or so, which marks the arbitrary end of this gallery. I’ll probably keep it up-to-date on Pinterest. This isn’t every incidence of “Avengers Assemble” in the first sixty-odd issues of Avengers, but it’s close. I also have some Neal Adams stuff here because I jumped ahead to read the Kree/Skrull War issues for next week’s review.

      Mostly what we have here is Don Heck, whom I don’t much like, but his Avengers work has a kind of nostalgic charm. Bet let me tell you, Horace, coming to John Buscema’s Avengers after thirty-something issues of Don Heck makes the man seem even more of a giant. I am deep into the Buscema run now and enjoying every panel.

      • Paul,

        I listened to an interview with Joe Sinnott today. He said that Jack Kirby was the greatest storyteller and that John Buscema was the greatest draftsman.

        • Kirby was relentless, a creative blowtorch. The stuff he created just to live and die for a panel or two amazes me (and I spotlighted a lot of those creations in my Nick Fury panel gallery). When Jack was engaged — like the first half-dozen or so issues of the Eternals — he completely blows my mind.

          Sadly, I think Kirby’s work on Avengers is of the less engaged variety. Kirby’s Avengers are serviceable but not especially inspired (but still better than poor old Don Heck on his best day!). When Buscema comes aboard, the book finally comes into its own. Buscema could be unengaged, too — he recycles a lot of poses, but they’re good poses. And even when he’s obviously in a rush there is energy to his work, a kind of snarling rage in his villains and even his heroes that wakes you up and demands your attention as a reader.

          Curious that Sinnott characterized John Buscema as a “draftsman” — did he mean that in terms of Buscema’s figure drawing? Seems to me that Big John rarely spent a lot of time on backgrounds. In his Conan work, at least, one of the reasons Buscema was paired with Ernie Chan on inks was that Chan would actually draw backgrounds. John Buscema didn’t seem to much like what inkers did to his pencils (aside from maybe his brother, Sal, who broke in as an inker, and preferred doing inks to pencils), but despite an issue here and there where Buscema does his own inks, he almost always handed off that work, probably because the crazy page quotas Marvel required back in the day made it impossible to do things any other way.

  2. Love the last panel. Hawkeye needs to explain that it’s a “Pop Up Toaster” so as not to confuse Jan with some other kind of toaster she might be thinking of. Also, you could probably make a column packed with images of Hawkeye’s bitchy complaints. There must be something about “Arrow Powers” that turns both Hawkeye and Green Arrow into complainers.

    • Dunno, Tom, maybe Hawkeye should have drawn her a diagram, too, just to be clear — Stan Lee wrote Jan as the world’s biggest bubblehead, and she’s only a little bit better under Roy Thomas (I’m up to the Vision storyline in my Avengers re-read right now). The first few issues of the book, when all Jan does is swoon how “dreamy” everyone is and scheme to make Hank Pym jealous are especially painful to read.

      Hawkeye IS prickly. In another discussion thread here on Longbox Graveyard, I took Hawkeye off my list of Marvel characters you’d like to share a beer with — not because I dislike him, but because he’d surely start a fight in any bar.

      One thing I noticed in reading the old books is that Avengers just kind of lays there until Hawkeye comes aboard. Prior to that point, the book is a pale reflection of Justice League (and every bit as boring) — a lot of remote, glamorous heroes flexing their muscles (Hulk smash notwithstanding). When Hawkeye joins the team he immediately starts needling Captain America and the book’s most important dynamic takes form — conflict within the team. Truth is that we really don’t care much about fighting Baron Zemo or the Masters of Evil, because we know how it’s going to go … but when Hawkeye and Goliath and Cap start slapping each other around, anything can happen, and the consequences seem more lasting.

      It was an old playbook for Marvel, of course (I’m thinking Fantastic Four, seems like they were always at each others’ throats), and I’m surprised it took them so long to come around and apply the formula to Avengers. Along with villains becoming heroes and endless wrangling over membership and bylaws, snarky heroes cutting each other down to size is what the Avengers is all about. Will be curious to see how much of that DNA makes it into the movie.

  3. I think that’s the takeaway with Hawkeye. The other superheroes are so earnest, hard-working, gung-ho crimefighters that the group dynamic was basically The Getalong Gang and the only disagreement might be over whose battle plan to follow and who got to punch Baron Zemo first. Lots of time was spend voting on new leadership. Hawkeye was one of the first characters to come aboard a super-team and just start calling everyone on their crap.

    For all of his whining, he was a breath of fresh air. And then once the writers (Roy? Englehart? Wolfman?) figured out that if they made the female superheroes actual characters instead of moony, gotta-get-a-boyfriend stereotypes from Stan’s romance comics and got them fighting crime too and entangled in romantic triangles and disagreements, you could tell different and better stories.

    Also, I think given Marvel’s 1960s mantra of “lovin’ the college kids,” it seems like a brilliant idea in hindsight to introduce a character who “protests” against authority and needles the one character who’s literally wrapped in the flag.

    • Excellent insights, Tom. I didn’t connect the dots back to Stan’s romance comics but that casts some of those earlier Marvel scripts into a new light (and also shows the degree to which his Spider-Man stories leveraged that experience but also advanced the state-of-the-art, unless we’re going to attribute the more well-rounded characterization of Spidey’s supporting cast to Ditko).

      Through issue sixty or so of Avengers, and the women are doing better under Roy Thomas than they did under Stan, but only just so. Jan has a bit of independence, owing to the subplot about her inheriting a fortune, but she spends her money on clothes and chauffeurs, and is still obsessed with winning Hank’s affections. The Black Widow has been introduced, and her relationship with Hawkeye is kind of the B-story, but despite the fact that she is a super-capable, bi-lingual, S.H.I.E.L.D. master spy she still defines herself entirely by whether or not Hawkeye has called her yet. Tough sledding.

      I think it is under Englehart that the women start to come into their own. At least I recall it was Englehart who introduced Mantis — she was a pain in the ass, but she was also a confident, fully-sexualized woman who reversed power relationships by going directly after the men she wanted (even when those men were Synthezoids). Having her on the team provides additional tension and gives a presence for the other women to react to and thus develop their own personalities. The Vision/Scarlet Witch story begins on Thomas’ watch but doesn’t really come to fruition until Englehart as I recall.

      • Paul wrote: “I think it is under Englehart that the women start to come into their own. At least I recall it was Englehart who introduced Mantis — she was a pain in the ass, but she was also a confident, fully-sexualized woman who reversed power relationships by going directly after the men she wanted (even when those men were Synthezoids).”

        Englehart also did some interesting things with Hellcat.

        In Avengers #149, for example, it’s Hellcat who takes on Buzz Baxter, her ex-husand who has captured most of the Avengers. She escapes capture by herself, overpowers him and saves most of the team from being destroyed.

        • Mentioning Hellcat, it occurs to me that Marvel has a pretty deep bench when it comes to female characters. The top of the lineup doesn’t compare to DC (which can roll out Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl), but the middle and back half of the lineup compares fairly well. Marvel hasn’t had a lot of luck sustaining books with female leads, though.

  4. The Avengers movie opened a few days ago here. I really enjoyed it. There is plenty of conflict between Avengers… and, completely unexpectedly for me, Hulk absolutely steals the show. I always thought “Avengers Assemble” was a terrible battle cry. The movie would suggest that Joss Whedon shares that opinion. I would babble more in nerd rapture, but it’s not fair to drop spoilers… :)) So make sure you go and see it.

    • Several friends and I are doing the Ultimate Marathon next week — five Marvel movies in one sitting, followed by a midnight show of Avengers … So yep, I’ll be there about as early as us west coast USA guys are allowed. Glad you liked the picture! And now we have another reason to envy New Zealand!

  5. In addition to Mantis, Englehart also brought in Moondragon for a run in the Avengers in the 1970s. So they had both Mantis and Moondragon, and still Jan, and Steve’s group dynamics on the book are similar to, and pre-date, Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men which didn’t begin until 1975. (In fact, I always thought Moondragon was a precursor to Storm.) Now, on to see The Avengers movie.

    • I forgot about Moondragon — she and Mantis always ran together for me, though I recall Jim Starlin giving Moondragon some more play in series to come (Captain Marvel?)

      I do recall being — ahem — heavily influenced by Moondragon in the creation of an original character (Gabriella Fish) in my New Humans days. By the time she got to the page I think they had a hairstyle in common but it’s the roots that count.

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