Friday, June 20, 2014

Blue Ribbon Digest - the Avengers

Doug: Pictured at right is a copy of one of those prized magazines from many a Bronze Ager's youth -- the Blue Ribbon Digest, as published by DC Comics. If you look closely at the text above the book's title logo, you can see that the book ran 148 pages. Given the general length of comics at DC, we're talking approximately 7-8 comics contained between these covers. We're going to use this concept to launch a new series of posts here at the BAB.

So your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to pick seven or eight issues of the Avengers from within the general parameters of the Bronze Age (1970-85). To assist you, if you click here you'll be taken to issues of the Avengers indexed on the Comic Book Database. Scroll down until you get to the period we're using and you can see the issue number, title of the story within, and the cover date. If you click on a particular issue, of course the creative teams, guest-stars, and villains du jour will be listed.

You don't necessarily have to worry about including complete stories. For example, an issue I know I'd include would be Avengers #161, which is the first part of the four-chapter "Bride of Ultron" storyline. It could be considered a done-in-one, though, as it does have a pretty definitive ending (if you call a big hole in the floor, with the unconscious bodies of superheroes laying about an ending). While the rest of the arc is great throughout, I'm not sure I'd include those in my Blue Ribbon Digest given that I can only pick a maximum of eight books. Remember -- sometimes these compilations gave the reader a broad sampling of a particular book. And hey -- if you decide you want to spotlight a particular artist or spectrum of artists, or villains in the same manner, give us a head's up. The denser readers among us may appreciate the method in your madness!

So let's see your list -- which Avengers stories or single issues will make the cut? Here's another that I'd include:

Doug: By the way, I am 48 years old today, and I could not think of a better way to spend my birthday than talking with friends about the Avengers (my favorite comic since I was six years old). If I receive any comic-related love from my family, I will be sure to let you all know.


Murray said...

Joyeux anniversaire, mon ami!

The "Kree-Skrull War" is too easy. I'm going with the first issues eligible and, by staggering coincidence, just when I discovered Marvel and the Avengers.

Issue #78 thru #86. A period of done-in-one (or two) efforts with the sumptuous art of Big John (or his bro Sal) and Tom Palmer. Some folk poo-poo the done-in-one style. As I've aged, I also prefer longer story lines. BUT, this is exactly when I "graduated" from Silver Age DC, where a story that filled the entire comic was an "epic".

These tales of Lady Liberators and Squadron Supremes suited me just fine.

William said...

First of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DOUG! Hope it's a great one.

If I could do one book with my 7 (or 8) favorite Avengers stories, I'd go with Avengers #161-162, (The Bride of Ultron) #164-166 (Super Count Nefaria), and #183-184 (Avengers vs. the Absorbing Man). Those are definitely my 7 favorite issues of the Avengers.

Fortunately I already have all those issues (and then some) collected in various trades and hardcovers.

Edo Bosnar said...

Happy birthday, Doug! And also, excellent idea for a post!

I always thought Marvel should have gotten into the digests, like DC and Archie. There were just too few of those otherwise wonderful pocketbook reprints (and none dedicated to the Avengers). I guess whoever made these decisions at Marvel figured their various monthly reprint titles, e.g. Marvel's Greatest, Tales, Triple/Super Action, etc., and then those later Special Editions, were enough.

Anyway, I put some thought into this. When DC published one of those digests, it often covered a sampling of stories from several periods, i.e., 1950s, 1960s, 1970s (esp. the Superman books), or one multi-part story with some done-in-ones or back-up stories to fill in the rest. I don't ever remember any of them having a cliff-hanger issue without the conclusion.

So I think would a good Avengers digest, with a focus on the art of George Perez, would have included issue #s 160, Annual 8, 169 (the only one not drawn by Perez), 194-196 (the Taskmaster story), and the Jarvis back-up story from 201. I think that about fits the right page count, with a nice variety of stories from the 1977-1980 period.

david_b said...

I'd... probably go more Silver if I was pickin' them. Besides picking the Avengers-Defenders clash, I'd go with the first 7-8 with Vish appearing like ish 57-58, maybe skip the Hank-Jan wedding, ish 61&63, and go with 66-68 with that awesome Barry Smith art.

Mega-Birthday Greetings, Doug..!!

Doug said...

Something I'd love to include in such a digest is the Vision/Wonder Man tussle in the first half of #158. Great Kirby cover, and awesome battle inside. The second half of the story that introduces Graviton and finishes in #159 you can have, but I just loved that fight that opened that issue.


J.A. Morris said...

I always liked Avengers #130. It's set in Saigon, opens with Swordsman's funeral and features Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo and Radioactive Man as the villains!

The Assistant Editors Month issue featuring Letterman is great 80s fun.

Annuals 9 & 10 were great one-and-dones.

189 was good Hawkeye story, featuring Deathbird as the villain. I'll have to think about a few more to fill out the "digest".

Rick J. said...

Some have posted Avengers stories before issue #100 but I think technically those would be Silver Age issues.
Some of my favorites were #148 (wrapping up the Squadron Supreme saga), #152 (the return of Wonder Man), #156 (teaming up with Dr. Doom to beat Attuma) 161 & 162 (still consider this the best Ultron story and Perez's art was fantastic)and #166 (the final chapter of the Nefaria saga).
So many good stories back then it's hard to choose from so many.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Doug!

- Mike 'where's the Geritol?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Doug said...

You know it, Mike! Every time I stand up, it's just creaking and popping!

Thanks to everyone else who has wished me well. Love this group!


Dr. Oyola said...

Doug, wait right there and I'll catch up to you soon. . . (I'm one month away from 43). . in the meantime enjoy the day!

As for my choice of comics for an Avengers digest, I am sure my pick will be controversial, but I am going with the story that first sucked ME into the Avengers, which is the fall of Hank Pym. I know many people hate that storyline, but to me at age 10 it felt to "adult" and permanent. Ah well.

So the issues I'd pick are

Avengers 212, 213, 214, 217, 224, 228, 229 & 230

They include Hank's court martial and his trial. #214 may not seem that important, since it is mostly about Ghost Rider, but it does include Janet asking Hank for a divorce and Cap making a comparison between GR and HP. it could always be switched out with #227, but that is mostly a flashback type issue with Hank looking back at all he did wrong.

Doug said...

Rick --

Actually, given cover dates, and since we're using 1970 as our starting point -- you could go all the way back to issue #72. I know that doesn't feel very Bronze Age, so in most cases I agree with you in your reservations about those pre-#100 issues. But for me, the Kree/Skrull War from #89-96 is definitely Bronze Age.


Doug said...

Osvaldo --

Ah, to be 43 again...

Young pup.


Doug said...

Speaking of Ultron, is his appearance at the wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver one of the worst Ultron stories of all time (I'd put the Ultron story early in the WCA run as my personal least-fave)?

I think the Avengers is funny in that it is difficult to think of those stories that fall in between the major storylines, because our thinking of the team is so dominated by the major adventures.

That being said, no one has mentioned the Avengers/Defenders War, but I am guessing that is because the Avengers chapters would not stand alone very well.


Anonymous said...

Doug! DOUG!!! Wake up dude, have a Happy Birthday!!!!

There's so many good runs for the Avengers and, as has been mentioned, some are already collected in TPB. I would put forth 141-142. Hawkeye goes back in time. The Squadron Supreme/Sinister story arc. The Bride of Ultron has to be included. The issue where Gyrich names the new team and picks Falcon over Hawkeye. Hawk's expression when Gyrich says "and the Falcon" is just awesome.

I'm asking for help on this last one, which would probably need its on digest, but the story arc when the Avengers were fighting some Cosmic Menace and assembled EVERYBODY, including Spider-man. He was running around outer space with a fishbowl on his head and every issue ended with a panel of Spider-man saying: "Oh my...."

And then the next issue would pick up with "...Stars and Garters!"

The Prowler (was going to type something here but forgot why he walked into this room).

david_b said...

Doug, you ARE showing your age, kid..?

I'm 51 and I just mentioned the A/D Clash in my single post thus far.

"Ah, those brain cells...."

Doug said...

David --

"Besides picking the Avengers-Defenders clash"

Plain as the big nose on my face! Talk about selective reading, because I could have told you the other issues you selected, but went right over that part of your comment!

Oy... Geritol indeed!


david_b said...

And per your comment regarding only the Avenger ish's in the Clash, it was so seamlessly done (THANK YOU Steve and Sal, and Bob Brown), having the Defender chapters included would be effortless.

I'd probably agree about the 130's issues on the Vish origin would be awesome, but if you're going for 'new readers', it's quite alotta history to digest for a Blue Ribbon edition.

Buscema/Stern's 'Siege on Avengers Mansion' anyone..? Actually if they still did those huge Treasury Editions by that phase of our Bronze Age, whaaaatta story that would have made all blown up in huge panels.

J.A. Morris said...

Okay,later in the Bronze Age, but I'll add the OTHER Defenders/Avengers clash. The teams fought again in Avengers Annual #11. Nebulon manipulates the Avengers into helping him, until the Defenders show up.

Happy Birthday to Doug, hope you're taking advantage of it landing on a weekend.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Doug!

Now...what was the subject of this post again?

Tom (who doesn't even remember Blue Ribbon Digests)

MikeS said...

I'm 53 and I still have a bunch of those digests, but when I try to read them now I feel like I need a magnifying glass!

Edo Bosnar said...

MikeS, I just turned 46, I have a few of those digests, and I know what you mean. I can still read them, but it takes my eyes a bit to adjust to them.

The thing about the DC digests is that they were basically samplers for a given character/group/title. But pretty much everyone's choices here highlight the problem with Marvel, and the Avengers in particular, in what we call the Bronze Age, i.e., you can't really sample an issue without it falling in the middle of some big, multi-issue ongoing story.

Anyway, Osvaldo, I really like your 'fall and sort of redemption of HP' digest. I would've bought that one - I didn't really like the first part, but I liked the way Stern wrapped the story up.

Dr. Oyola said...

Reading comics was part of the reason I broke down and got prescription reading glasses (well, that and grad school) . . . Wertham warned us back in the 50s, but did we listen?!!!! ;)

Martinex1 said...

Happy birthday Doug.

I would go with:

72. First Zodiac and great Buscema art. I know those guys had crazy bull and lion heads but I loved them as a kid and I liked the Captain Marvel guest appearance. (Too bad 71 was December of 69 or I would have had that for Kang and the Invaders).

86. For the weird one off with Brainchild and Squadron Supreme.

160. Grim Reaper, Viz, and Wonderman.

164. 1st part of Nefaria epic I with Living Laser, Power Man and Whirlwind . Classic Byrne with Perez cover
With great Avengers interaction and Beast at his finest.

195 and 196. Taskmaster stories with great first part with Wasp, Ant Man and Yellowjacket.

And wrap it up with Annual #10.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday!

It's hard to pick just 8 and my tastes seem to change all the time, but I think these would make a good digest:

#97-Kree/Skrull War finale; #100-all the Avengers appear and go to Olympus; #137-when Beast joined (and Moondragon, briefly); #159-I guess we disagree on that one Doug, I loved seeing all the Avengers take on Graviton; #177-end of the Korvac Saga; #191-DD makes a guest appearance and they take on Grey Gargoyle; and #s 236 & 237-Spidey guest stars and they have a great brawl at Project Pegasus with some escapees.

Mike W.

Doug said...

My lovely wife bought me the two volumes of Thor in the Epic line. Some nice Keith Pollard and Ron Frenz art from the late Bronze Age!


Redartz said...

Happy birthday, Doug! Hope it has been a good one; I too will tally another year older in ten days...

A 'novel' topic today! I enjoyed those digests; especially the humor ones (Sheldon Mayer had some new Sugar and Spike stories in a few of them). As for the Avengers choices:
#181, with Henry Gyrich; classic all aroound.
#129-130 and Giant Size Avengers 2; a multi-part but great story and great art.
#161, with Ant Man.
Avengers Annual 10.
# 233 (Had to get one in there with She-Hulk, and this was Stern and Byrne!)
#100 (yes, not the complete story; but a showcase for the art).

Doug said...

Hey, everyone --

We will have a post tomorrow, Saturday. It will be all movies, all the time, so "let's all go to the lobby" and all that!


Doug said...

Mike W. -

I did really like the Panther's entrance to save the day in Avengers #159. It was also sort of cool to see the Avengers heavyweights catch the hunk of Earth that Graviton had formed.

OK, I guess I like that story better than I thought I did.



Humanbelly said...

Boy, my rassafratchin' job kept me out of the conversation yesterday. . . and caused me to miss the celebratory atmosphere of Doug's natal day, as well. . . Hulk hates stupid 'sponsibilities!

GOOD JOB ON YOUR WIFE for getting you a cool comic-related present, Doug. There does come a point where the spouses just throw in the towel 'cause they love you anyway, and come around to embracing the "make a guy happy" gift over the "here's something he needs" gift (*cough* HBWife *cough*).

I think Mike W's listing is very close to what I would have chosen, with an eye toward seeing representative stories over a broader span of time, rather than just going with straight favorites. It's still tough, though, 'cause I also wanted to include Redartz' suggestion of 129/130/GS#2.

Hmm-- and I'm not seeing anything from the Milgrom era, am I? Not a favorite of mine, personally, but surely if one is going for historical samples. . .

(Happy Continued Weekend Birthday Extravaganza Celebration, Doug!)


Edo Bosnar said...

HB, re: Milgrom. Actually, the last few issues in Osvaldo's suggestion, i.e., #s 228-230, were all drawn by Milgrom. That's actually the start of his run as the title's main artist.

Humanbelly said...

Oh of course-- that's right, edo. I'd forgotten. And that's definitely the right Milgrom story to go with, still plenty entertaining.


Anonymous said...

That Year's Best Digest was one of my first "comics". Somehow it disappeared from my collection, a rare occurrence, even back then...

What a flashback...Thanks, guys!

Looking at that great cover, it makes a lot of sense of what I loved and still love about comics.


Vintage Bob said...

Happy Birthday Doug!

Wow, this is a challenge. My picks would end up being:

Avengers #129/GS2 - Kang/Celestial Madonna Saga - One of my favorite stories featuring one of my favorite Avengers villains. Lots of nostalgia for this one. I remember how much I enjoyed reading the story the very first time.

Avengers #161-162 - Best Ultron story ever! Awesome art, awesome storytelling, best portrayal of the best Avengers villain ever!

Avengers # 164-166 - Count Nefaria Saga - I loved everything about this one! From Byrne's awesome art to the perfect portrayal of Thor, it was great on so many levels.

Avengers # 171 - Final Ultron Battle - The last great Ultron battle, sort of a continuation of #161-162. Just can't leave that out!

And that's it. Eight stories. Had to sacrifice some of my favorites - #112 with the Lion God, #158/159 with Graviton (one of my 3 favorite Avengers villains). But I stuck with my picks because as a digest they're closer together in time, mainly the Ultron material, and they just "fit" together well.

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