Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Readers Reflect: the Open Forum - Team Books and Arch-Villains!

Karen: If you missed your chance with our previous readers' Open Forum, here is your second chance. Remember, the Open Forum is a place for more involved, broader discussions. For example, we've covered things like the transitions from the Silver Age to the Bronze age (and recently the Bronze to the modern age),  comic book collecting and selling, the nature of comic book creator legends, and so on. So grab your bubble pipe and strike a pose, and give us some meaty topic(s)!


The Prowler said...

Here's a topic I would youse guys feedback: During that time period from 1969 to, say, 1983, which company put out better TEAM books? I know we've discussed the JLA V the Avengers before, but what about Marvel's FF, the Avengers, X-Men, the Champions, the Defenders et al up against the tales of The Teen Titans, JLA, Doom Patrol, Freedom Fighters...et al. I know I may be leaving some out. What say you? Personal favorites. Better stories. Better runs.

(There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand).

The Prowler said...

Oh carp!!! I left out a word, "like". Insert where needed.

(When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail.")

J.A. Morris said...

Inspired by last week's "Ultron or Kang" discussion. Let's talk arch villains:

Who is truly Spider-Man's greatest foe?
Doctor Octopus or Green Goblin?

Leader or Abomination?

Add your hero/arch villain combo here.

William said...

You'd really have to give this one to Marvel, with The Byrne/Claremont X-Men, The FF, The Defenders, and of course the mighty Avengers, and etc.!

But then, DC did have some interesting team books during this time period as well. The most successful being the New Teen Titans. But they also had the Justice League, as well as Superboy and Legion of SH, and a few off the beaten path books like New Gods, and the Tomorrow People.

Another interesting title that I believe came along sometime around the early eighties was Batman and the Outsiders. I remember enjoying that title for a while. Especially the beautiful art by Jim Aparo.

J.A. Morris said...

Prowler posted while I was in progress, but that's okay.
I'm going with Marvel on team titles. I haven't read a ton of Legion stories, I know they're fondly remembered. But I don't think DC truly caught up until 1979-80, with creators like Wolfman, Conway and Perez working on JLA and New Teen Titans.

At Marvel, Avengers (Englehart, Thomas) and Defenders (Gerber, Englehart, Kraft) stories were always solid and often classic. I can read Celestial Madonna, Kang/Serpent Crown, Who Remembers Scorpio or the Headmen/Nebulon stories any day. The new X-men showed up in '75 and it was better than any DC team book for the next 5 years.

My favorite "team" book from DC during the Bronze Age? Secret Society of Super Villains!

I'll admit I was always more of a Marvel Zuvembe than a DC fanatic.

Edo Bosnar said...

Marvel zuvembie seems to be the default setting for pretty much everyone here, I think.
So, yeah, my answer to the team book question is Marvel: Avengers was full of win from 1969 until about issue #200; Defenders was similarly quite good until a little after the Gerber run, and was still pretty solid for a few years thereafter; FF had its ups and downs, but was more good than bad, and then the fabled Byrne run got started; and then there was the X-men...
Also, Marvel's short(er)-lived team books were pretty solid as well: Inhumans, Champions, Gaurdians of the Galaxy (in Marvel Presents), Invaders...

DC only had two team titles that came out continuously for that entire period, JLA and Superboy and the Legion, later just the Legion. It was really only when the '80s started, with the New Teen Titans, the Levitz/Giffen run on LoSH and the All Star Squadron, that DC really started putting out some strong team books.

As for the question about best arch-villain, I'll just say that I think Thor's arch-villain *should* have been Gullin, the giant, hammer-wielding warthog.
Go almost all the way down on this post for details. :P

Doug said...

I've spruced up the main post and added a bunch of labels. Good topics today (both of them).

Count me, as you know, among the Marvel Zuvembies. I read most of their team books -- Avengers, Defenders, X-Men, FF, Champions, Invaders... But I also read many of the DC teams (surprisingly not the JLA for some unknown reason) -- SSoSV, Legion, the JSA revival, and the Teen Titans revival. The advent of the New Teen Titans hit during my high school years when I was not buying comics, sad to say! I'm going to get the newly released trades the cover that material, however.

As to J.A.'s question, if I think of the many incarnations of the Goblin (including the Hobgoblin), then I have to say it's him. But what I know of current Marvel continuity (which isn't much) cheapens that history.

How about Daredevil? For decades, one would have the Gladiator and the Owl to pick between. I guess the Kingpin shifting books from Spidey to DD changed all that, hmmm?


david_b said...

Ahhh, Prowl.., that's my favorite bit from 'Peewee's Big Adventure', his "..I'm a Rebel.." speech.

I'd echo a few others here and go with whomever Steve Englehart worked for had the best team writing. Loved his Avengers stint, and now I'm into tracking down his Bronze JLA stint.

Spidey's greatest foe..? Depends on what's your favorite way to cause Spidey turmoil..?

Personal regret/worry/anquish..? Norman as the Goblin.

General whacked out surreal 'Am I going crazy' angst..? Mysterio.

General hood-action..? Kingpin.

Pulling punches 'Don't wanna hurt him' stuff..? Harry as Gobby and Lizard.

Hulky..? Definitely Leader. Love how just uber-intellectual he is, yet always underestimating Hulk's strength or resolve.

Doug said...

"General hood-action..? Kingpin."

Love it.


Humanbelly said...

Yeah, I think I can stand tall with the Zuvembiest amongst us-- during that period I was buying/acquiring Avengers, Defenders, FF, Champions, Inhumans & GotG. And Never. One. Single. DC team title. Nope. With one regrettably brief exception: Showcase did a DOOM PATROL reboot for a few issues that was darned good-- one of those "cover made me buy this book" books-- and then never followed through with an ongoing title.

I've recently been picking up/filling in a BATMAN & THE OUTSIDERS run, just because it's soooo readily, cheaply available-- and a casual glance suggests that it is indeed an engaging and kinda charming title with some interesting 2nd & 3rd tier DC characters (of that time). Haven't sat down for a real reading yet, though. The easy-on-the-eyes Aparo art is indeed a big plus. . . but to me the visual effect is hampered quite a bit by less-than-dyanmic coloring. There's generally a flattish, washed-out feeling in the issues of perused from the earlier part of the run.

Arch-foes: I'll just ring in on the Hulk, and go thoughtfully with the Leader as well (one of the few "big" megalomaniacs who never seemed to make appearances in other folks' titles, I've noticed). I like Bommie a lot, but he's suffered mightily over the years at the hands of writers who seemed to have no clue at all as to what his origin was, let alone what his own personal timeline had been in the MU. He's had more speech patterns than the Sandman, a couple of complete personality make-overs, and would have to be in the neighborhood of 300 years old or so (even in Marvel Time) to have packed in all of his supposed adventures and achievements. The Leader, on the other hand, has been quite consistently handled from the get-go. . . one of those characters that maybe writes himself, so to speak, 'cause so many different writers seem to be able to tune him right in. It's that utterly massive, powerful intellect and supreme self-belief coupled with, well, a surprisingly immature snottiness-- and it's coupled with his perpetual crushing astonishment every time he suffers a defeat. There's more than a little of Wallace Shawn from PRINCESS BRIDE in the Leader. ("Inconceivable!")


Edo Bosnar said...

Hey, HB, I had those issues of Showcase, too. I really enjoyed that Doom Patrol reboot (of course, I'm a big fan of Staton's art, and that was certainly a factor in my fondness for those stories).
And I liked Batman & the Outsiders as well - again, the Aparo art really helped. But I only followed it for about the first dozen or so issues, as by that time I was moving into my "serious" teens and so I slowly began cutting back on my comics buying/reading.

J.A. Morris said...

Gullin the warthog was great. And while Loki is, was and always shall be Thor's arch nemesis, my vote would go to Ulik the baddass troll.

Doug said...

Speaking of Ulik, is it strange to anyone but me how often Thor #s 154-157 (Mangog and Ulik) have been reprinted? It seems to be the go-to story of the awesome Lee/Kirby/Colletta years. It is great -- but c'mon... Every time there's a compendium of some sort for Kirby or Thor it seems to have that story in it.


david_b said...

Heavily agreeing with HB on Leader's persona and the DC Teams during the Bronze Age (with the exception of NTT and the Englehart-crafted JLA..).

The first Titans regrouping was dismal at best. Irv Novick (and Pablo Marcos initially) gave some nice art, but the stories were banal and once ol' Donnie Heck came in (around the same time as his stint on Batman Family..), it was goodbye to my DC title loyalties..

J.A. Morris said...

I'm a fan of Batman & the Outsiders too. As a reprints wonk, I'd love to see their early stories collected in color.

Redartz said...

HB- like you I was strictly a Marvel zuvembie when it came to team books. Never tried DC until the New Titans and Levitz Legion era ( which, granted, were both excellent). For most of the 70''s, it was Avengers, X-Men, Defenders and FF. At the time I never really felt inspired to read the DC offerings, as I was swimming through a wealth of great reading already ( and the allowance only went so far, anyway).

As for the villians, for Spidey I'd have to go with Ock. Just a personal favorite, as Gobby was right up top as well. Incidentally, last weekend I picked up the 4th Essential Spiderman volume, and just finished reading all those Kingpin stories within. He seemed to pop up quite frequently about '67 to '70. Perhaps the Powers that Be felt Kingpin was overexposed then; as he didn't face the wallcrawler again until ish 163. And even despite all his memorable stories in Daredevil, I still consider Fisk a Spidey villian...

Garett said...

Outsiders Annual #1 has some outstanding art by Kevin Nowlan, pencil and ink.

Teams, let's see:

JLA vs Avengers-- as much as I like Dillin's art, I have to give this one to Avengers.

New Teen Titans vs X-Men-- Perez's art is spectacular, and Wolfman's scripts are great. Not popular at this blog, but I say Titans win this one.

Invaders vs All Star Squadron-- Buckler's art over Robbins gives the win to All Star Squadron. Invaders would've been a knockout with Buckler doing art.

Defenders vs Outsiders--I'm not a big fan of either of these, so it's a tie.

FF vs Legion of Superheroes--I like Mike Grell's art, and I read a few of the later Giffen issues, but I think FF had more going for it.

JSA vs Champions-- JSA wins. Very nice art by Staton, and the stories in All-Star and Adventure were enjoyable. Loved the fight against Hitler in DC Special 29, and the intro of the Huntress in DC Super Stars 17. I liked the lineup of the Champions, but something didn't fully click with the series.

New Gods vs Inhumans-- New Gods for Kirby's huge vision.

Secret Society of Super Villains vs Guardians of the Galaxy-- Buckler's back again with some nice art for SSoSV, so I'll give it to the villains.

Doom Patrol and Freedom Fighters I didn't read, but Freedom Fighters had a memorable appearance in JLA 107-08. Omega Men had a good guest appearance in Teen Titans, but I don't remember much of their series. How about the Creature Commandos? I never read the book, but seemed like a fun idea.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Outsiders too; Barr's dialogue was a bit stiff at times, but overall those were some great stories.

As for the main topics, I'd have to say Marvel's team books were better overall, but DC had some good ones as well. I'd say Gobby is Spidey's biggest foe, just because of the whole Norman/Gwen thing. As for Hulk, it's a toss-up: Leader had that manipulative, intellectual-challenge thing going on, but Abomination could match Hulk in the power department and (when he had Emil Blonsky's mind) was no slouch as far as smarts go either. Plus, Abomination "killed" Betty, so that made it more personal.

Mike W.

J.A. Morris said...

I'd say Bullseye is DD's arch foe. Kingpin is a close 2nd.

In the pre-Miller era, I'd say Purple Man was his most dangerous enemy, since he knew Murdock and Daredevil were one and the same.

Humanbelly said...

I do think with Spidey the arch-foe mantle does have to be given to the Goblin, but I kinda wish it didn't, 'cause of what that character (in several iterations)eventually morphed and mutated into over the course of the years, as every writer tried to find some "darker" new twist to make all the more dangerous and edgy and painful for Peter to deal with. Ugh.
My heart will always be w/ ol' Doc Ock. . . except that even as a kid I recognized that he couldn't possibly be even 1/100th as formidable as he was made out to be. Scientific genius, extraordinarily powerful mechanical arms, blah-blah-blah. . . the guy has NEVER BEEN SUPER-POWERED! Spidey has landed punches on his jaw hundreds of times. One of those alone is all it should ever, ever reasonably have taken. Much as I never cared for the character/identity that much, I do think that Venom is likely the most appropriate heir to the arch-foe crown for the web-slinger.


Humanbelly said...

Boy, I'm lovin' that Avengers 30th Anniversary poster you've pasted up there. Just lovely. And. . . hard to wrap one's head around the fact that the 30th anniversary itself happened OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO!!! (yikes!)

The image below is having biiiiig troubles on my laptop. Is it the LoSH? It's comin' across like a bad-dream captcha. . . (I mean, I hate to sound like a big fussy complainer. . . )


Doug said...

HB --

Here's the URL to the Legion picture. See how this is -



Edo Bosnar said...

HB, I love the idea of that lower picture being a captcha image: "Prove you're not a robot, or just a person who has no business commenting on this blog, by identifying this super-team and not less than ten of its members."

R. Lloyd said...

As far as team books are concerned I liked the Byrne/ Clairmont X-Men...the book was never X-Men to me without John Byrne's art.

The Avengers: I always liked George Perez's artistic runs on the book. John Buscema in the early 70's. There's going to be a Busiek / Perez omnibus edition of the Avengers this year.

Humanbelly said...

@ Doug-
Thank ya, Doug, thank ya--
Man, I am still perpetually right on the verge of diving into the Legion. The astonishing loyalty of its followers over the years should certainly be an indicator the book (in its various incarnations) has enduring merit, yeah?


Doug said...

HB --

That Legion image that was so crystal-clear on my laptop a few days ago is now blurry as can be!

Captcha image, indeed!


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