Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stay -- Just a Little Bit Longer

Doug: It feels good to be back with the Claremont/Byrne X-Men, doesn't it? It was certainly a golden age of sorts for that title, and many of us have proclaimed throughout our time together here on the BAB that their run was one of the best things about comics in the 1970's. Who could argue? As much as I dislike what the X-Men became in the 1990's and beyond, this was the rocket that launched all that.

Doug: Today we'd like to hear you discuss your answers or feelings on the following query: If you could have any creative team from a favorite run (any title, any company, and really -- any period) continue at the height of their collaborative powers, who would it be? Who were those two or three (above, I certainly should have tossed in Terry Austin's name) creators you wished would never stop? Again, we're not looking for a "reunion show" decades later, but a continuation of a run or even a spin-off into a new book. And just to show that yes we are losing our minds around the BAB office, we did a variation on this topic over a year ago -- you can read it and check out the comments that were made way back when.

Doug: Personally, I'd have liked to have seen an extension of the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams/Tom Palmer run on the original X-Men. They'd already done stories with the Sentinels, Sauron, the Savage Land, and Magneto. Certainly the Juggernaut, the Blob, and the revival of the Mimic could have provided some fun storylines. But unfortunately we all know that the ax fell on a great run, and on the title as we'd known it.

Doug: So how about you? Stan and Jack on the FF, maybe an extension of when they were really hot (the #40's-#70's)? Lee and Romita on Spidey? How about later stuff, like the Stern-Buscema Avengers? What sayest thou?


dbutler16 said...

Certainly, I'd be thrilled if Claremont/Byrne/Austin could have continued their wonderful run. It was my favorite comic at the time. Also, while the Avengers might be my all time favorite comic, I'm not sure one creative team stands out to me as head and shoulders above the rest, though Roy Thomas and John Buscema comes close. Overall, I think I'll go with the Levitz & Giffen Legion of Super-Heroes. I loved that run, and the way they've messed up Legion continuity since then makes me long for the good old days even more.

david_b said...

In no particular order..:

- Englehart/Buscema on CA&F, such a beautiful arc near the end with Secret Empire and Nomad making this one of the top titles in 1973/1974
- Same team on Avengers and the Celestial Madonna arc, at times a bit TOO woven but makes for good revisiting.. (special mention of Englehart for the earlier Avengers/Defenders War, multiple artists..)
- Kirby/Sinnott on FF, without further comment needed..
- Thomas/Buscema/Sinnott on FF, adding Medusa was outstanding, both visually and story-wise. As for guilty pleasures, 'Rumble on Planet 3' is still one of my favorite stories ever.
- Haney/Cardy on original Titans, for wonderfully corny, yet wide-eyed energy from our original four/five sidekicks (if you include Speedy)
- Wolfman/Perez for double-handedly resurrecting them, finally giving Marvel a well-timed kick in their creative complacency.
-Buscema/Stern on '80s Avengers, the Subby/Herc fight one of my favs ever.

david_b said...

As for returning teams, I'm still suspect of how they'd fare today. Even back in '76, having Kirby return to Cap wasn't a good move. It seemed, thanks for Englehart's maturing of Cap and Falc, most fans had simply moved on.

Edo Bosnar said...

At the time, and for many years later, my immediate answer would have been Claremont/Byrne/Austin on X-men (like so many, I was completely devastated when Byrne/Austin left the title). The Thomas/Adams/Palmer suggestion for the 'old' X-men is a good suggestion as well.
Another obvious one is the Stern/Byrne/Rubenstein dream-team on Captain America.
A few others I really would have liked, which ended due to the editorial axe and/or low sales:
Don McGregor continuing on Black Panther, either in Jungle Action or in a new solo series (with any of the artists that worked with him up to then: Buckler, Graham and/or Pollard). I really would have liked to have seen him complete the Klan story himself. (Also, just to add to david_b's point about Kirby returning to Capt. America, I also didn't like the way he was given a Black Panther series and just completely ignored everything McGregor had done with the character.)
Steve Gerber and Michael Golden continuing on Mister Miracle; Gerber was really taking that series in an interesting direction in those few issues he managed to complete, and it would have been cool to see what he would have done with the character.

Anonymous said...

First, can we just take it that C/B/A on Xmen, T/A/P on Xmen and Miller & Janson on DD are a given? Otherwise, I predict a lot of repetition. Also, a lot of repetition.

Secondly, I guess we have to accept that if we’d married our first partner, we’d never have the person we’re with now, right? So we have to ignore the fact that maybe something great had to stop in order for something greater to come along. Having said that...

Avengers....well, this topic doesn’t work for the Avengers, does it? Thomas/J. Buscema forever, right? But then we wouldn’t have had Thomas, Adams & Palmer. And if they’d carried on we wouldn’t have had Thomas & Barry Smith , and then Englehart and Sal Buscema, Englehart/Perez, Shooter/Perez, Michelinie/Byrne....I mean the Avengers just kept coming at you for the whole of the first 16 years.

Same goes a bit for Doc Strange. Ditko was a visionary, but his departure opened the door for Thomas / Colan / Palmer, and then Englehart / Brunner and then Englehart / Colan / Palmer, which is probably my favourite.

Same goes for Iron Fist. I would have loved more Thomas / Kane, but I had to make do with Claremont & Byrne. >Sigh<

OK, so enough being a smartarse, what do I wish had carried on?

Either Englehart or Gerber with Sal on the Defenders, preferably with Janson inking.

Gutted that Gerber never got to finish Omega the Unknown and it was wrapped up appallingly by Steven Grant in the Defenders.

Michelinie/JRJR/Layton on Iron Man...surely, everyone ?

Moench/Gulacy on MOKF

More of a never happened, but Gil Kane was robbed of Conan. Having said that...Thomas & Barry Smith on Conan. Wow. Shame they did such a short run on the Avengers. Also Claremont/Smith/Austin (was it Austin?) on a few issues of Xmen, was a superb team. I remember Storm languishing in Forge’s silk sheets. Mmmmmm. Sorry...drifted off there...

As I said before, Cockrum’s contribution to the Xmen was completely overshadowed by Byrne/Austin and by CC finding his feet, but they were still great issues.

On the subject of overshadowing, let’s hear it for Thomas / Colan / Palmer on Daredevil. Not often work of that calibre is second best.

Thomas / Adams on the Inhumans. Killed off too soon.

The original Thomas / Kane run of Warlock. Seemed to me Roy had a lot more in mind.

Deathlok – Buckler & Janson all the way.

Thor – as Doug has amply demonstrated, the Thomas / Buscema issues were great, but I really have a lot of love for the Lee / Kirby / Colletta years. That art would not have been so great on another strip, but it was perfect for Thor.

Starlin on Captain Marvel, well, let’s say on Thanos, shall we? I loved the way he weaved that story through Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Avengers, Marvel Presents and anywhere else they left the draughts lying around.

Let me throw this onto the floor: the T/A/P run on Xmen was superb, but too late to save it. What if there had been a Thomas / Steranko run from the 40’s onwards? Might have been in time??

Imagine if the Champions had carried on with Byrne art.

And you know I’m going to say W/C/P on Drac, right? Of course.


Doug said...

Richard --

It's funny about those classic runs, isn't it? You cite the "golden age" of many different books, and for some titles there were certainly multiple high-water marks.

Interesting posit at the beginning of your rant :) about one run by necessity ending so that another one could begin. I suppose, as you've done so well over the past week, you've created yet another topic for my brain -- name a fabulous run that ended but was replaced by something thoroughly disgusting (ie Al Milgrom's art following anyone...). Maybe we'll touch on that subject in a week or so.


david_b said...

Richard: Jim Starlin wove SO MUCH into those stories.. Picking up supremely where Thomas left off with the earlier Kree-Skrull epic, Starlin really brought all these threads together, and the results were far more than the sum of parts.

Thanks for the shout-out on Smith on Avengers. As I've said numerous times, he majestically combined Kirby and Steranko styles to make every panel memorable. Avengers 68 was the only time I was actually disappointed to see Sal Buscema take over.

William said...

I love the idea of an extended Byrne/Claremont/Austin run on Uncanny. That pretty much goes without saying for just about everybody I think.

But also for me, Byrne and Claremont could have kept on doing Marvel Team-Up for as long as they wanted as well, and I would have not minded that at all. As the issues of MTU they collaborated on were (and are) some of my all-time favorite comics.

Speaking of Spider-Man, I would have had no problem with Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. extending their run on Amazing Spider-Man indefinitely. Even though there have been a lot of good creative teams on ASM, such as Lee/Ditko, Lee/Romita, DeFalco/Frenz, etc. I consider the Stern/Romita Jr. era to be the best time in the history of the book.

Finally, one other series that could have gone on forever as far as I'm concerned was Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen's original Daredevil run. (As long as they had kept it going in the same style and along the same path as it was headed). Because, I did not care at all for Miller's later DD work "Born Again" that he did with David Mazzucchelli. That was around the time that Miller began taking himself way too seriously and eventually ended up creating things like "All Star Batman and Robin" and "Holy Terror". Meehhh.

Honorable mention goes to Stern and Byrne's Captain America run as well. That one was also way too short, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,
I hate to tell you, but my gf actually does call me Rantos (how surprised are you?)

Yup, I think that thread of yours should be called ‘Fell off a cliff’. Defenders did that IMO, but Xmen didn’t, for me, anyway.

I think it could also include comics where the cover was superb and the interior was dire because it's the same sense of disappointment. The entire run of Invaders springs to mind.


Anonymous said...

Hi David – I’ve always thought of Smith as templating off Kirby (because we know he absolutely, intentionally aped Kirby down to the last brush stroke in those first comics, esp Avengers), but I never thought of him as being the love child of Kirby & Steranko. I can kind of see it now that you say it... the figure work, the anatomy (exaggerated, but still real), the cinematic style of storytelling, the ‘camera angles’ and the well-placed use of very detailed backdrops and scenery is actually all very Steranko. Also, you associate Steranko far more with bringing graphic design into comic art, but of course, Kirby pioneered all that photo-montage stuff and big splash pages that Steranko became famous for. So maybe Kirby and Steranko are not so far apart either.

Never saw that till you said it.

Also, I agree with your good points on Starlin. Can you feel Karen rubbing against your legs?


david_b said...

Richard, also to add, all those 'floating heads' and disjointed panel work, even the stark ommission of backgrounds that Steranko capitalized on, but I'm sure many others have seen that as well. It's like Kirby's intensity woven into Steranko's cinematic style. I've seen it in Smith's Daredevil work (ish 50-52), but it more apparent in Avengers, with it's more dramatic battle scenes with Ultron.

Geez, if Karen rubbed against my legs, I'll hit her with my purse.

"I am NOT that kind of lady."

david_b said...

Doug, LOVED your mention of poor Mr. Milgrom. I agree that would be a nice column suggestion.

It's a lot like that first album after your favorite lead singer leaves (Van Halen, Journey, Wilburys without Roy, etc).

Milgrom, Kirby, Bob Hall, Brown, Heck, Tuska, Robbins, Romita on FF, the list is forming....

To avoid being hit by books and tomatoes, it's not necessarily the quality of artist him/herself, but it's WHO they follow that makes it nearly unbearable.

Doug said...

Richard and David --

I crafted a post at lunch, set to run on the 16th, where we will surely drag some poor souls over the coals.

Al Milgrom, indeed!


Anonymous said...

David - funny you mention albums. Never thought of that. I thought of it more like a sitcom or series where they replace your favourite character or God forbid, keep the same character with a different actor.

Sometimes it’s OK: The 2 Darrens were interchangeable, Kirstie Allie didn’t have too hard an act to follow in Shelley Long, BJ for Trapper was OK, Charles Winchester was a lot better than Frank Burns would have been after another 5 seasons, Colonel Potter was good too. Sarah Chalke was a better Becky.

But when it falls off a cliff, well...Scrubs? Just Shoot Me? Ally McBeal? Need I say more?


dbutler16 said...

I probably should have mentioned Wolfman/Perez on the New Teen Titans, and besides the Thomas/Buscema Avenger runs, there are some other Avengers runs worth mentioning, but most of the time the artists changed too often to much of a run, but Englehart/Buscema, Englehart/Perez, Shooter/Perez, Shooter/Byrne, Michelenie/Perez, and Stern/Buscema were some great creative teams.

david_b said...

Actually in terms of television, I think more of creative staff behind the cameras, examples coming to mind are..:

1) Last year of Gilmore Girls without Amy Sherman-Palladino. STUNK.
2) Last year of Trek-Original Series without Rodenberry and Gene Coon. STUNK
3) Last year of Space:1999 without Sylvia Anderson. STUNK
4) Last few years of Seinfeld without Larry David. Eh.., pretty close to stinking.

Too many to name..

William said...

Richard, did I misread, or did you actually say that BJ was a good replacement for Trapper John, Winchester was better than Frank Burns and Colonel Potter was good too??? You are joking right? The problem with all of those actors is that they replaced "funny" people with total "pills". My wife hates everyone of those new characters (especially BJ) for just that reason.

Doug said...

If I could step in and moderate for a minute...

I love the tangential discussion on actors/producers/writers etc. as it's focused on television. We just happen to have a television post in the queue set to run in the next two days (no, seriously -- I wrote it several days ago!). If you will be so kind as to save some of this enthusiasm until then, we'll all be able to jump in and even expand on this conversation.



Inkstained Wretch said...

Getting back to comic books for a bit ...

Let me second Edo on the "Stern/Byrne/Rubenstein dream-team on Captain America." It was just nine issues but they are stellar. Purportedly they were working on a Red Skull arc at the time the curtain was dropped. What could have been ...

Also, I would have loved the Stan Lee/Jim Steranko run on Captain American to go on too. It was just three issues but people still talk about them today. If they could only have squeezed a year out ...

The first year of Infinity, Inc. was great, then Roy Thomas lost Jerry Ordway and the title never really recovered. (Yes, he got Todd McFarlane for a while, but his style was wrong for that book.)

That's all I can think of for now ...

Inkstained Wretch said...

One general point on these runs: I deliberately avoided the ones that stretched over an extended period of time, like Lee/Kirby on Thor or Claremont/ByrneAustin on X-Men or Levitz/Giffen on Legion.

While I like those runs (a lot), the fact is that in those cases the creators had a definite shot to explore the possibilities of the particular series. By the time they finished, they were probably ready to move on to something else. Indeed, the fact that they left when they did may be part of the reason why we remember those runs so fondly. They left us wanting more.

I was more interested in the very brief runs that gave us a tantalizing glimpse of "what might have been."

Redartz said...

A good point there, Inkstained; in show biz always leave them wanting more!
I must also agree with the many memorable teams named above. The strength of runs such as Claremont/Byrne/Austin , Wolfman/Perez, and Englehart/Buscema is evident from the frequency of their mention. May I add a couple others?
Gerber/ Ploog on Man-Thing- a great pairing tailor-made for this offbeat title.
Lee/Kane/Romita on Amazing Spiderman- love Kane's energy embellished by J.R.'s polished inks.
Stern/Rogers/Austin on Dr. Strange- a very nice run but all too short.

Garett said...

More Marshall Rogers on Mister Miracle. Not sure about the team/writing, but he's who I think about for that character.

Mike Grell and himself on Starslayer--I'm bending the team rules even more here, but looking for other than what's been mentioned. Starslayer was a quick stop between Warlord and John Sable, and while his outfit was questionable, the futuristic world was cool. Sort of the best of Grell--Warlord meets Legion of Superheroes.

Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil on anything. What if they'd worked together for the past 30 years? What if Neal Adams had stayed with the big 2 since then? Imagine all the great art that we'd have. What has he done since Superman vs Ali that's outstanding?

Rip Jagger said...

My favorite team is Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton and thankfully they still work together from time to time. I hope we'll see at least one more E-Man revival before it's all said and done.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, I mentioned a continuation of the Gerber/Golden team on Mr. Miracle, but barring that, a continuation of Englehart and Rogers would also have been cool, as those issues they did together (#19-22) were quite good as well. In fact, despite their odd incomplete character, I'd love a reprint edition of those post-Kirby Mr. Miracle issues (19-25).
As for great things done by Adams since Supes v. Ali, c'mon there's tons of stuff: Skateman, Ms. Mystic, all that fantastic continuity stuff like Megalith and ... okay, I'll shut my smart mouth up now...

Anonymous said...

Hi William – per Doug’s memo, I’ll attempt to defend my position on MASH on the upcoming TV thread.

Hi David – I never realised the Palladinos left GG at the penultimate series. Certainly explains that bloody awful ending. If it was even intended to be an ending.

Hi Inkstained – good call on the Steranko Caps. They might be the definitive examples.


Matthew Bradley said...

Second (or whatever) the motion on the Thomas/Adams X-MEN. Why those brilliant issues didn't save that book from cancellation is beyond me; guess it's like the Old Masters who weren't appreciated until they were dead. While taking nothing away from the awesome Claremont/Byrne tenure on the book, I'd have been glad to see some more of the initial Claremont/Cockrum issues, too.

At the risk of repetition, would add the Thomas/John Buscema and Englehart/Sal B.-or-Perez AVENGERS; the Englehart-or-Gerber/Sal DEFENDERS; the Lee/Romita SPIDER-MAN; and the Lee/Ditko DR. STRANGE. I presume the Starlin CAPTAIN MARVEL and WARLOCK and Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. are a given. They are for me.

Garett said...

Haha! Edo I just picked up Skateman a few days ago for 50 cents, but I haven't had the fortitude to read it yet.

I do want to see the Golden issues of Mister Miracle--the art I've seen looks very good.

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