Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Roll With the Changes: The Avengers

Doug: So, awhile ago I said that reader Andrew Wahl (of the Comics Bronze Age blog) had given me an idea concerning our ongoing look at Marvel's corner boxes, as well as the cover logos of books from both Marvel and DC. He stated that he liked the logos, as opposed to entire covers, as framing what sort of marketing techniques were being used by either company at the time. The thought that came to me was this -- what if we take a book and look at its cover evolution from the beginning through the Bronze Age? Today's fare is everyone's favorite book (well, at least those of us who hold the reins of power here at the BAB), The Avengers!

Here's the deal: the logos and corner boxes may not necessarily be from the first issue on which the change occurred. I took the liberty of going as close to the first as possible, but sometimes the next issue just had a better color scheme. So, without further ado, let's begin with Avengers #2!

Of course, we have here the original logo that would stay on the book for the first 94 issues. Right from the start, Stan began the tradition of posting the team's roll call in the corner box at the top left of the cover. Note that Jan is not pictured here.

Next, we'll see the changes in the corner boxes from #2 through #15 -- the issue right before the Kooky Quartet was chosen to replace the founding members of the team.

The logo on the left is from #4, the re-introduction of Captain America. Cap shows up in the box by issue #6, and gets a headshot by #7. The last box is a fave of mine, because it features Giant-Man in that daggone ugly helmet he was sportin' at the time.

Once the founders left, it was just Cap, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. These four would remain the core of the team for the next three years. But with issue #28 (Doug's personal fave issue), Giant-Man returned to the fold in the guise of Goliath. By issue #30 he'd found a spot in the corner box, and by #33 the Wasp had joined him. After several appearances in the book by Hercules, ol' Herc won himself a spot in the corner. By issue#52, Hank had changed the color scheme of his outfit from blue and yellow to red and yellow; notice also the modification in his antennae. See, too, the different style of Wanda's headpiece (I'm sure there's a fashion-type term for that thing...). And, by #53, the team had shrunk to only four members, with T'Challa joining.

The big changes on the first two corners areT'Challa's mask (now fully covering his face), and the Vision joining what would become his corner box in about two years -- and he'd keep it for almost 100 issues. And look what we got with issue #64 -- a new logo. What do you think of the change, which is really quite a departure from what we'd seen on the first 63 issues? I guess it's OK, but I'm not sure it's an improvement. More modern, yes. But not an improvement to me. Oh, and don't miss Hawkeye's big change to his Goliath costume, as well as the headshot of Yellowjacket!

In this batch, we see that Clint has switched from the blue mask to the red one, and YJ's "wings" are gone. Wanda and Pietro return, and you might notice that the art by Sal Buscema on our first sample switches to art by his brother John on the second example. And then with issue #93 we see perhaps the most familiar corner logo in all of Marveldom -- the Vision looking pensive yet powerful. Only three issues later, "my" Avengers logo appeared for the first time. To me, this is the Avengers logo -- it's dynamic, powerful, and I love the way the "A" dominates not only the logo but cradles the Vision's image. Great, imaginative logo -- one for the ages.

The new Vision image in the corner box on #155 actually first appeared on issue #153. I really like it -- for me this was an upgrade over the previous Vision logo, but only from the standpoint that after almost 100 issues it was perhaps time for a change. And, this image showcases the Vision's powers, whereas the former showcased his personality. Next, we see a return to the roll calls that the magazine began with -- all with John Byrne art.

Logo changes again. The first is somewhat subtle, with the word "The" moving out of the "A" and to the top. Personally, I can't imagine why that's an improvement. And the logo that began on issue #236 -- you can have it. I just don't care for it. Oh, and Spider-Man again? Nope -- not an Avenger. Not ever.

New logo again, although it appears all that really happened was the word "Mighty" was added and the font was elongated. Hey, and check out that line-up! Girl power!!

Lastly, because this one's from around 1985 -- which is pushing the limits of the Bronze Age -- comes this final logo change. This one I like -- it's clean, dynamic, and I like the way the "A" and the "S" tie together. Really good logo. Probably my second favorite of our options to this point.

So there you have it -- corner boxes, logos, superstar artists (Kirby, Heck, Buscema, Buscema, Byrne...), and a fun jaunt through memory lane. And to think, it only took you around two minutes to read, but it took me over two hours to create! But my pain is your gain, effendi -- hope you enjoyed it!

Fantastic Four, anyone?


Rip Jagger said...

I was very much the corner box watcher, with the Avengers and other characters. That kind of corporate identity was appealing to me even a kid.

The FF boxes are even more fun as they did that rolling featured figure. It was mostly Thing and Torch but a lot of Reed and even Sue sometimes.

Rip Off

Andrew Wahl said...


Great feature! I couldn't agree more as to which Avengers logo was the best; it's a classic design. As a kid, I loved the roll-call corner boxes, especially when John Byrne was doing the art. X-Men was my favorite title, and the corner box was usually the first thing I looked at when a new issue hit the spinner rack.

Bring on the FF. And the X-Men, too!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic topic. One of the many things i miss about comics. You guys are the best, i'd love to see defenders and x-men corner box articles.


Simon B said...

Good to see the 1960's Marvel corner boxes getting some love! The Kooky Quartet one has to be my favourite here. I also love the "rotating" FF design and the "full-length" Spidey image from ASM #48 onwards. Looking forward to more boxes and logos!

Doug said...

Wow -- whole lotta love for this sort of thing!!

Rest assured, faithful ones: FF and X-Men are already in the queue and waiting to be unleashed on an anxiously awaiting world!

Stay tuned --


La Belle Esplanade said...

Nice write up. I don't know which logo I prefer. The last one is nice but the "classic" is classic if not exactly eye candy. Maybe that's what I like about it. Workmanlike with just a smidge of professional design.

While the cross-armed Vision is commanding, it doesn't reflect the roll call theme that makes that era of the Avengers so good.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking, (uh-oh)...

a website/app where you could pick 7-8 Avengers (from existing corner boxes/the Byrne headshots, whatever) and CREATE YOUR OWN AVENGERS CORNER BOX! That would be fun.

I would love to see Cap, Beast, Tigra, Hercules (bearded), Stingray, She-Hulk, and Vision in my dream corner box. (all Byrne headshots, thank you)


Britt Reid said...

The logo first changed with Avengers #62 (The Panther vs Man-Ape cover), not #64, and reverted to the original design as of #70 (The Squadron Sinister)
It always irritated me that the corner box was a month or two late in reflecting the actual lineup. (for example, even though Yellowjacket and the Wasp were replaced by Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in #75, the corner box wasn't updated until #78!)

Doug said...

Thanks, Britt -- not sure how I screwed that up, particularly in light of the awesome Man-Ape cover on #62!


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