Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Was This the Avengers' Golden Age (Within the Bronze Age)?

Doug:  Many of you know that Marvel has been releasing a series of trade paperbacks reprinting latter Bronze Age material and calling this line the Epic Collection.  While I don't know about "epic", I did get to marveling (pun intended) at the stories included in this volume.  And it made me wonder -- is this a sort of "golden age" for Earth's Mightiest Heroes, within the parameters of the Bronze Age?

Doug:  Seriously -- scribes Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, and Jim Shooter at the reigns, with pretty pictures by George Perez, John Byrne, John Buscema, and Jim Starlin?  Once we got into the era of shorter tenures for creators on a given title, that group is going to be tough to beat.

Doug:  Here's what you get in this tome, as copied from the profile on amazon.com:  AVENGERS (1963) 150-166, ANNUAL (1967) 6-7, SUPER-VILLIAN TEAM-UP (1975) 9 & MARVEL TWO-IN-ON E ANNUAL (1976) 2

Doug:  So that got me to further thinking, and I know we've previously discussed the Best Runs of the Bronze Age.  Pick a title, any publisher, and see if you can zero in on a "golden age" for that title between 1970 and the early 1980s.  If nothing else, we're updating that former conversation today.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Image courtesy http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?SeriesID=24813995

26 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

My answer to your question is a qualified yes, in that I think the Avengers' Bronze Age Golden Age is everything from the Englehart run to about issue #202, and as a diehard Bronze Age baby, I'd call this THE Golden Age for the Avengers - and within that, my personal Golden Age is that Michelinie-Byrne-Perez-and-a-few-others run from #181 to #202 (and yes, I'm including the otherwise creepy and objectionable issue #200 just for the sake of completeness). Hope all that makes sense.
As for this Epic book - wow, it's like a color Essentials volume (I'm assuming it is in color). Too bad this didn't come out a few years ago, because now I have about half of these stories in other books. Otherwise, it would be at or near the top of my want-list.

William said...

This was definitely the Avenger's Golden Age, (for me anyway). The Avengers has never been better, before or since. Like Edo, I would also include the issues up to 200 or so. After that, the Avenges pretty much lost a lot of it's magic for me, and unfortunately has never really gotten it back.

Also, like Edo, this book would be way way at the top of my "must have" list, except for the fact that I already own many of these issues in other various collected volumes.

I hope this series is very successful, as I would love to see what else Marvel reprints in this format. I can think of several runs that I would be happy to buy in one book. Such as "Amazing Spider-Man: The DeFalco/Frenz years" for example.

Matt Celis said...

Personally I think it got much better with Roger Stern. That's my favorite Avengers era aside from the early to mid-'60s.

david_b said...

This short era was definitely one of the highlights of the Avengers title. I personally enjoyed the Buscema and Brown days of 1973-74 more (Avengers/Defenders Clash and post-, kinda 114-130s), but that's just the new-found excitement of comics for me talking, I suppose..

I recall at the time that Perez did a competent job of drawing the team, nothing more. 'Course anything was better than the Heck issues.., frankly. But I grouped him with folks like Tuska as another artist coming to the plate. I liked when Sal drew, but I didn't like the inking as much. I do recall picking up ish 151 and collecting the next dozen or so at the time, so it did hold my interest. I like them much more now, looking back.

Greg said...

This is my Avengers era. I came in around ish 156 and also consider the Michelinie run quite good- like William said, after 200 the title really suffered, I thought. I liked some of Stern's stuff later on...

This was a powerhouse lineup for my money. Thor, Iron Man, Vision and I liked it when Ms. Marvel joined. Hawkeye coming and going.

I'll be picking this one up, looks like a nice collection.

Doug said...

Not only are the stories included in this volume really strong, but the covers are very exciting. With the exception of a solid offering from Gil Kane, the remainder between issues 150-166 are by Kirby or Perez. My favorite in the lot is #161 with Ant-Man.

Like many of you, I have these issues in multiple formats. Of the Epic Collection series, the only one I'd buy (because I don't own the stories) is the Thor volume. Marvel has done an excellent job in the past several years of getting the Bronze Age adventures of the God of Thunder out to the masses.

Doug

Doug said...

Hey, hey!!

First time I tried embedding a link in a comment, and it worked! Watch out, Edo!

Smug Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

No argument from me about the Stern era - he's one of my favorite comics writers in general, and his tenure on Avengers is top-notch.

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, re: embedded links. Splendid, my young padawan!

Doug said...

"Snatch the stone, Grasshopper."

I feel like I've arrived to the technology age!

Doug

Matt Celis said...

I am still puzzled when folks say they like Ms. Marvel...why?

Nice costume by Cockrum, but otherwise she seems wholly forgettable with her "generic super hero" powers and no real personality to hook onto like Hawkeye, for instance, has as a way to make him special.

david_b said...

Actually Matt, that's bugged me alot as well, regarding Ms. Marvel.

She has barely an interesting backstory, never really establish any relationships within the group and really wasn't anything but eye-candy as a member.

Soooo, Shooter decides to use her ('use her'....) as a baby-mama in Avengers 200..?

Really..? She got a worse, more demeaning character-turn than Hank Pym.

Barely.

Karen said...

To me, the Golden Age of the Avengers during the Bronze Age (Gold in Bronze? What?) was during the Englehart run, from the Avengers-Defenders clash up to the Serpent Crown Affair. New characters were introduced, the Vision's true origin was revealed, the history of the animosity between the Kree and the Skrulls was explained, Kang returned, The Beast joined the team, and on and on. Just a great time to be reading the book.

Matt Celis said...

She's not one who ever makes my list when I put together my ideal Avengers team, whether it's 6 members, 8, 10, 12, she doesn't make the grade. Nothing she does someone else doesn't do better or more interestingly.

William said...

I forgot about the Roger Stern run. I had quit reading the book by then and didn't pick it up while Stern was on it. I've only read those issues in the last few years, and they were very good. But don't I own printed versions of any of those books. I've only read them on the computer in the Avengers the DVD collection.

Matt Celis said...

When they kickes Stern off, I was gone shortly after. There was a sudden tonal shift and I agreed with Stern that it was awful to waste all the work he had done on Monica Rambeau only to undermine her. That character never recovered. Not sure the Avengers as a comic book did either. I guess two black women leading flagship teams was too many?

Anonymous said...

I grew up kinda associating the Avengers with Sal Buscema, Perez, or finally Byrne, and after that I kind of stopped caring.
While I admired the effort of introducing female characters like Ms. Marvel or the female Captain Marvel, I got the sense they were kind of shoe-horned in there with out much backstory or development. And they seemed almost like token female characters, tough and smart without much personality. Written by guys that probably weren't sure how to write female characters.
Claremont comes to mind.

Greg said...

I always liked Ms. Marvel, thought she brought a tough feminine sensibility to the team, she could get in there and go hand to hand with whoever whereas Witchy or Jan were more fight from a distance types. Wonder Man's instinct to protect her was kind of amusing, the writers were (clumsily?) addressing women's lib at the time if I remember right. She made it clear she could take care of herself. I also liked her dynamic with Captain America, I was recently reading the Heart of Stone TPB and Stark sees Cap and Carol walking and thinks about them getting along well. I always wondered if Michelinie was laying groundwork for a romantic interest there, or if it was just a one-off.

I thought she had plenty of backstory, the whole NASA thing and her involvement with Captain Marvel. #200 was weird, no getting around that, but that doesn't ruin her tenure on the team for me. And I'm sure the eye candy element didn't hurt either when I was a young un.

I enjoyed her later appearances, and when she became Binary I liked her elevated power set and the idea of her running around the galaxy with the Starjammers.

I like it when the team has A- listers on it, and she's an A- lister to me.

Greg said...

Doug, I bought the Thor Epic and while it's not my favorite run on Thor by any means, it's not bad. Well, some of it might be (Quicksand anyone? Mongoose)but it has its moments. It feels a little lightweight after Simonson though, no doubt about it.

Should be interesting to see what gets the Epic treatment next.

Edo Bosnar said...

Greg, I'm interested in seeing more of these Epic books as well. It seems like they're being produced to fill in the gaps not covered by Masterworks, omnibuses (omnibi?), and various HCs and trades for some of the main Marvel titles. Most of the ones that are in print right now, however, don't interest me very much. I'd like to see this line cover Spectacular Spider-man, but that's unlikely since chunks of it have been reprinted elsewhere.
As for the Avengers, I'd love it if Marvel published an Epic volume that covered everything from issue #s 188-202, but I know there's zero chance of this happening because they just published that Heart of Stone book, which stops at issue #196.

As for Ms. Marvel, I agree with Greg: I think Carol Danvers had quite a bit of back-story, and I think she was a perfect fit with the Avengers. And that's another reason for despising that execrable story in Avengers #200: it basically ruined a perfectly good character.

Matt Celis said...

I was actually glad to see Ms. Marvel removed from the scene: one good point about the otherwise awful Avengers #200.

Greg said...

Edo, I too would love to see the Epic treatment of 188-202, but yeah having just bought Heart of Stone, it's probably not happening anytime soon. Bummer. Heart of Stone doesn't include the Red Ronin storyline, which I would have liked to reread.

I'm getting the Avengers Epic because I need to fill a hole there, but otherwise yeah the others currently out aren't anything I need. I got the Thor one just to see what the epic line was like, physically, and it's fine. They haven't announced any volumes beyond springtime that I know of yet, but there is a Cap one coming that covers the stern/ Byrne run, and I'll be getting that since I don't have War and Remembrance. Would also like to see an early #100's edition for Iron Man with the Madame Masque stories, but with the omnibus out there that's probably not happening either. I don't usually spring for the ominibuses... I also would like to see them expand beyond the main titles. Hopefully...

As for Ms. Marvel, Claremont must have had a thing for the character, since he took her and ran after Avengers annual 10 with the whole Rogue thing, and then Binary later, and then Busiek/ Perez brought her back to the Avengers in their run. So while Ave 200 was awful to her, I was glad she was more or less restored in later years.

For an interesting discussion about Ms. Marvel and Avengers 200/ Annual 10, check out this board.
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/03/03/meta-messages-chris-claremont-sticks-up-for-ms-marvel/
One of the commenters noted that the only Avengers present when Carol went off w/ Marcus were Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye- everyone else was elsewhere. I had forgotten that, since I haven't read this comic in probably over 20 years. Iron Man and Hawkeye did protest, though not nearly enough. Yet the whole team gets the treatment in annual 10 for dropping the ball on Carol. And probably rightly so- that story IS bad. Anyway check out the thread if you're interested in more discussion on this topic- there are a lot of comments and some good points.

Edo Bosnar said...

Greg, thanks for the link, but I already follow the Comics Should be Good blog pretty regularly and I remember that thread. I actually remember participating in a similar discussion at that blog a few years earlier. Anyway, much as I like that story and Claremont's sharp critique of the story in #200 by Michelinie, Shooter, et al., I didn't like the fact that he had Ms. Marvel depowered - at that point, it seemed like another nail in the coffin.

By the way, I'm totally with you in hoping that the Epic line will expand to non-'central' titles. It would be so cool to see, for example, a Luke Cage (and also Power Man & Iron Fist) collected in this way. Or Gerber's run on Defenders. Of course, since all of those have been reprinted in Essentials if nothing else, I guess that's another vain hope...

Greg said...

Yeah, Carol's been through the ringer, no doubt.

I would love to see the Gerber Defenders get the Epic treatment, or even the Kraft stuff. That would be a must- buy, but you're probably right, not happening anytime soon...

david_b said...

Agreeing with Edo and Greg, Gerber's Defenders were a great run.

To me, anything Bronze with ol' Gerb is a favorite. Having mentioned the Shanna brief series, he moved the storyline to my fav DD/BW tenure, which I liked his quirkiness to the title, although most fanbase had mixed feelings.

Gerber on most of Howard's run was great surreal fun, as I've mentioned being a big fan of..

As for other classic runs, nothing beats CA&F with Englehart and Buscema. While the FF certainly had some tumultuous episodes and a few all-time favorite issues of mine under Conway, I didn't see much sustained greatness so I cannot recommend any 'golden periods' in the '70s as you saw in the '60s.., other than the fight with Doom's son covered in 'Fantastic Four: The Overthrow of Doom' tpb (ish 197-200).

Vintage Bob said...

I'd say that for me the Golden Age of Avengers starts with the Avengers/Defenders crossover (my all time favorite comic story) all the way to #200. All the best art, best stories, best teams, best villains.

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