Saturday, February 8, 2014

True or False: Roy Thomas Will Be Best Remembered for His Writing on the Avengers



36 comments:

Paul said...

I think I have to say FALSE on this one. While Roy's work on Avengers was excellent, and he created some of the most memorable stories for the team, I think his legacy will be his love and use of golden age characters. Even now, when I think of Roy, that's the first thing that pops in my head.
This is not to say that his work in Invaders and All Star Squadron is better than his Avengers work. I just mean that he is, to me at least, the custodian of comics history, incorporating it so well in much of his work.

Another argument against him being remembered for his Avengers work, is his unprecedented run in Marvel's Conan the Barbarian.

In fact, looking up Roy's Wikipedia entry, (which I just did to try and see how long his Conan run actually was), which could be argued is the most populist version, the first items that are mentioned are Roy's Conan and his use of Golden Age characters.

Ray Tomczak said...

I'd say that its probably already true that Thomas is best known to modern fans for his work at Marvel in general and on Avengers in particular, and deservedly so. It was in his initial seventy issue run on that title that he did, in my opinion, his finest writing and made his greatest contributions to the then still young Marvel Universe. These include the creation of Ultron, the Vision, and the Grim Reaper, expanding the Avengers roster with Vision, Black Panther, and Hercules,and we cannot forget the Kree/Skrull War, which is rightly recognized as one of the great Marvel story lines of all time.

Humanbelly said...

The only reason I wouldn't go with his stint on Conan first is because, for all of the Cimmerian's HUGE popularity in the 70's and early 80's, our favorite Barbarian has fallen right off the MU map (figuratively and literally), and really seems to have faded from memory almost completely. Thus, Roy's loooooong run may get its proper due from us older fans and stalwarts, there's no continuing presence of the character to keep that memory alive. So, yep, I'd go with his great Avengers run as an answer to the question.

HOWEVER. . . Roy's run on the Incredible Hulk (issues #120-143), taking over from Stan, is a completely overlooked gem of a run all its own, and I would have to say it remains my favorite work of his. He clearly had a lot of freedom to tell whatever the heck kind of stories he wanted: a lot of bittersweet morality tales; a Moby Dick adaptation; introduction of Jim Wilson; a fantasy-based world (Jarella's K'ai); as well as some first-rate comic-book fare fighting Hydra, the Army, a Central European dictator, and the usual host of bad guys. It's the "other" book Roy was doing for awhile in the midst of that great Avengers run.

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

I'd say false; I agree with Paul above that Roy will probably be best remembered for his Golden Age revivalism, both in the Invaders and All Star Squadron. However, I'd say he will be *equally* best remembered for his long tenure on Conan (which had two phases: the first in the 1970s, and the second from the late '80s to the late '90s). In that sense I don't agree with HB, and I also don't understand his reasoning. Dark Horse is still publishing new Conan stories, and has been regularly reprinting all of the classic Marvel material, both from the 4-color comic and Savage Sword. So I think the memory of Roy's immense opus of Conan stories is being kept alive among successive generations of Conan fans.

Matt Celis said...

False, at least for me. When I think of Roy Thomas, here's what comes to mind in the order I thought of them...

All-Star Squadron
Infinity Inc
Conan
Alter Ego magazine
Captain Carrot
Invaders
Marvel Editor-in-Chief
then maybe Avengers

Humanbelly said...

I guess I'm thinking more from the sense of the broader public eye, Edo. I'm delighted that Dark Horse is keeping Conan alive and keeping his older material active and accessible (I have no idea how all of that came about, BTW. How did Marvel let those rights lapse? That's so unlike them.), but it still strikes me as a rather low-profile enterprise in an industry that's already suffering from . . . an attrition of institutional memory, maybe? Is that a way to put it? I guess, "Who's doing the remembering?" might be the qualifier for the question. 'Course, that's getting to a rather geeky level of hair-splitting. For us folks that do carry the weight of that memory? Yep, you do make a good case. And I daresay Conan might get the nod from Roy himself-- I wonder if he's ever spoken about that?

HB

HB

Rip Jagger said...

When I think of Roy, I think of the Avengers first. But that's because he was writing them when I started to read the book way back in the late Silver Age. His work defined superhero comics for me to a very great degree.

After that comes Conan, though I think in terms of legacy his popularization of sword and sorcery and his ten year plus tenure on the character are among the great achievements in the field. He and Buscema produced such good comics for such a long time that they are underrated because there was little other stuff to compare to them. After Roy leaves Conan, it drops a bit and after Big John leaves it becomes often terrible.

After Conan I have to say the Invaders and later the All-Star Squadron are the thing. But these books for all their glory also point up Roy's weaknesses, a fanboy fascination with such small details that it becomes distracting and weakens the product. Throw into this love of comic lore his now decades long work on Alter Ego and you have a legacy few in the field can enjoy.

Rip Off

Fred W. Hill said...

I think that Roy's career has been varied enough that he won't be "best remembered" for any one run but for the fullness of his career, initially being the pre-eminent fan to go pro as the heir apparent to Stan as Marvel's top writer and then editor. Roy also played a key role in expanding Marvel's roster to include adaptations of other properties, most famously Conan and Star Wars. Even tho' Thomas didn't remain editor for long, he still remained so identified with Marvel for so long that it was a bit shocking when he went over to DC, where he expanded his legacy, but really cemented his fame for bringing Golden Age heroes, famous and obscure back to life. I think it's a bit of a toss up as to of his works whether Roy will be best remembered for his runs on The Avengers or on Conan the Barbarian -- I think as far as the Bronze Age goes, Roy is more associated with Conan than with any of his other works of the 1970s (and among comics fans, the Roy may be more associated with Conan than Robert L. Howard himself, and only Barry Smith and John Buscema share in that association, which brings up the question as to whether Buscema will be best remembered for his work on Conan or the Avengers?). Not quite like the case with Stan Lee, who I think is more remembered for his 100+ issue run on Spider-Man than for his even longer run on the FF, but that's mainly due to Spidey being that much more famous than the FF or any of the other characters he wrote.

Karen said...

I can't say it any better than Fred. He came up with pretty much what I had been thinking of as I sat here thinking of my answer. Roy has too many facets to his career to pin him down to just one book. If we had to point to just one title though, I'd say it would be Conan.

Greg said...

For me his work on Conan is the first thing I think of with Roy Thomas, and also my favorite work of his. You can certainly make a case for the Avengers though, I agree with Ray Tomczak's comments on that and am tempted to say true, but for me it's Conan first.

J.A. Morris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.A. Morris said...

True.

When Thomas dies, his obituary will talk about how he took over for Stan Lee on several books,then it'll mention the Avengers, the Kree/Skrull war & Ultron.

Anonymous said...

I'd say "false" as well; I think he'll be more remembered for his Conan and "modern-golden age" stuff (Infinity Inc, All-Star Squadron) and Alter Ego.

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

'My name is Ozymandias,
King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty - Mr Bendis, Mr Remender, etc.- and despair.'
Avengers #57,the moment comics grew up.
That is what Roy should be remembered for.

Stephen said...

I think the answer to this depends on when you started regularly reading comic books. For me it was in the mid-to-late 70s, when Roy Thomas' name became familiar to me as the guy listed in the masthead, and referred to the Bullpen Bulletins as Marvel's Editor-In-Chief and his tenure as writer on the Avengers and many other comics was mostly past.

As others have said, I do mostly associate Roy Thomas as writer on DC's ALL-STAR SQUADRON, a title I was bought from the 16-page preview in JLA #193 and I ate up his editorial text pages and lettercol responses where he displayed his encyclopedic knowledge of Golden Age DC and other publishers.

Gary said...

False. As others have said its Conan and the golden age characters.

Matt Celis said...

Comics grew up because Roy Thomas quoted Shelley? Strange premise. There were certainly more sophisticated comics stories well before this.

Anonymous said...

False.

There is nothing I could add to what others have said much better than I.

Wait, just thought of something...

Karen's right!

Kudos and Praise to HB. I love the "HOWEVER". One of my favorite words in any debate.


The Prowler (wondering what happened to Steve Does Comics).

Doug said...

Thanks for the conversation today, everyone!

Personally, I think Roy will be either remembered through his association with the various Conan strips or as an advocate for all things Golden Age (at both Marvel and DC).

As others have said, he has quite a resume': Stan's right-hand man, then his successor, Marvel EiC, creator of the Vision and Ultron et al., responsible for the Invaders, All-Star Squadron, and so on and so on. It really is difficult to single out one big thing from a lifetime of "big things". The man's contributions to our love of comics is immense.

Doug

Doug said...

Prowler --

What do you mean, what happened to Steve? He's by here every so often, on Twitter every day, but mostly publishing regularly on his own blog. He's good...

Doug

Anonymous said...

I went to check in on his blog and it's got the big CLOSED sign and some spurious claim as to internet blog violations!!! 1984 indeed.

The Prowler (really bored with the Olympics so far).

Colin Jones said...

Steve's blog has been like that since last night.

Doug said...

My apologies. Hadn't been to Steve's blog in the last few days.

Ominous...

Doug

Karen said...

I just looked at the cached version of his blog, last post from Thursday, and mostly it was posts of comic covers. Certainly nothing wrong with those posts, as far as I could see. I have no idea what might have been posted yesterday. Hope things get straightened out for Steve.

cerebus660 said...

Steve's blog is still locked down. Very worrying. I hope the Blogger overlords haven't sicced the copyright police on him. A friend of mine recently had to fight a lawsuit over publishing a copyrighted photo on his blog ( for which he had given full credit and posted a link ) which turned out to be a very costly process.

BTW as far as Roy Thomas is concerned, for me it's Conan all the way. I can appreciate his other great work on FF, Avengers etc. but, without Roy, there would be no Marvel Conan, no "Song Of Red Sonja", no adaptation of "Red Nails" in Savage Tales, no Savage Tales kicking off the Marvel B&W line for that matter...

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, false.

While some people might point out his Avengers work in creating the Vision and the epic Kree/Skrull war, for me it has to be his long and legendary run on a certain sullen black maned barbarian's series. As Cerebus660 above said, without Rascally Roy's input we would not have Red Sonja and all the other adaptations and extensions to Robert E. Howard's most famous creation.

I've always wondered too why Marvel gave up the rights to such a lucrative property; I'm guessing it had more to do with financial/legal wrangling rather than creative difficulties.


- Mike 'Roy Thomas for mayor' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Doug said...

Hi, friends -

I went back through some of Steve's recent tweets. Apparently one of the Werewolf By Night covers he recently posted set off some of the bells at Google's site map generator. I'm not certain what that means, but it sounds less ominous than men in trenchcoats and dark glasses carting our friend off and into the night.

Doug

Humanbelly said...

Surely. . . SURELY. . . it cannot be something related to a copywrite infringement on anything related to WEREWOLF BY NIGHT?? That would be like going to prison for tearing the "Do Not Remove This Tag" tag off of your mattress. . .

Yeesh-- I can't imagine WWBN is generating a penny of royalty/rights income anywhere right now. . .

(Fingers crossed for Steve)

HB

Matt Celis said...

Posting a cover wouldn't violate any copyrights; it would fall under "fair use" if one is reviewing or discussing the subject comic book. Must be something else.

Steve Does Comics said...

Hello. Thanks to those who've expressed concern about the fate of my blog.

The problem's nothing to do with copyright infringement. It's been caused by the HTML of an automated site map generator I've had on the blog for years. Basically it reads the site's feed and then converts it into an index page. For some reason, on the 25th of January, it set off Google's malware detector and Google blocked the blog as a precaution.

Why the HTML had this affect, I'm not sure, as it's been on my site for years and Google have never had a problem with it before.

It's also been on all my other sites and Google have detected nothing wrong with it on any of those.

I've checked the HTML in question. It's just a three line block of code and there's nothing sinister in it that I can see. Therefore, it's all a bit of a mystery.

Anyway, I've removed the code in question and informed Google, so hopefully they should get things sorted out in the not too distant future.

Matt Celis said...

good to hear

abraxas9971 said...

I'll have to say False. For me the first thing that comes to mind is his usage of golden age characters and alter ego. I didn't read Conan frequently so can't comment on that. Now that's not to say I didn't love his writing on Avengers it's just not the first thing I think of when someones says Roy Thomas.

david_b said...

Another point to Roy's legacy, more behind-the-scenes than the most-commented stuff, but I'd say his mutant-hating story ideas..

Just rereading Avengers 103 and Pietro's rants against humanity, which Wanda fueled in their hate of her relationship with Vish.

This thread effectively gave groundswell and tense substance to the new X-Men, adding sympathetic readership and sufficient paranoia giving rise to dozens and dozens of '80s 'mutie go home' storylines. There was some mention during the Silver Age, but he helped focus the hatred into nice long-running subplots.

Matt Celis said...

So we have Roy to blame for all the "Mutie!" nonsense in X-Men by Claremont & co.?

Nathan Irwin said...

Like others have said, Roy's contribution to the comics industry has been too broad to be reduced to just his tenure on The Avengers.

Others have correctly pointed to his work on Conan and the Golden age heroes. But I think Roy will also be remembered for being one of the co-founders of comics fandom with the first run of "Alter Ego," and for documenting the history behind Golden Age comics with the current "Alter Ego" magazine.

Not that those overshadow his actual work as a creator and editor -- but they are certainly a part of his legacy.

Karen said...

All these comments remind me that we did post an "In Appreciation of" Roy Thomas a few years back, focusing chiefly on Roy's contributions as editor in chief at Marvel: http://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/2011/03/in-appreciation-of-roy-thomas.html

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