Friday, September 30, 2016

An Exercise in Speculation on Our Favorite Stories, and What Could Have Been...

Redartz: Happy Friday, everyone! Just for fun, to start off the weekend, here's a little brain teaser. A game inspired by a recent comment from Martinex1, in which he speculated on the Avengers' "Celestial Madonna" arc, if it had been done by Steve Englehart and John Byrne/Terry Austin. The object of the game is deceptively simple: pick one of your favorite stories, and devise a creative team that might have made that story even more awesome. Blending eras is fine. For example: say, Jim Starlin inking Jack Kirby on the "Galactus Trilogy", or Steve Gerber handling Disney's Uncle Scrooge (now I would have read that...).

I will start off with a pick not too far removed from Martinex's posit: What if the Avengers/Defenders War had been brought to life by Englehart, Byrne, and Austin?  We know what a great co-plotter  John Byrne has been -- who knows where might that story have gone? And oh, the artistic possibilities... Byrne's skilled at drawing just about everyone; we saw him on Avengers -- he would have been loads of fun on the Defenders. Plus, with Terry Austin inking, we might have had Popeye make a background appearance in the domain of the dread Dormammu!

OK, now it's your turn. Can you think of a great story that might even have been greater? It's open season, and all's fair. Let's see what you've got!


Anonymous said...

I’m going to start with a couple of cheats: What if Neal Adams had been given time to finish the Kree/Skrull war, and George Perez rather than Dave Wenzel had finished Korvac. (I actually suspected at the time that Dave Wenzel, conveniently rhyming with pencil, was a pseudonym for someone disowning a rush job).

This doesn’t relate to specific storylines, but:

Gil Kane on Spidey. Kane being almost the anti-Byrne, Gerry Conway said that his partnership with Kane was disastrous until he started giving Kane page by page plot breakdowns. I’d love to have seen their run extended. There was some phenomenal stuff, including Morbius, the Goblin and Gwen’s death.

Actually, I’d like to see Kane given a decent run on almost anything, but I guess he was too valuable on the covers.

The Defenders. What a wasted opportunity. The first 3rd had some superb writing from Englehart and Gerber, the last two 3rds are almost a complete write off. I’d like to have seen the Defenders under Gerber-Miller-Janson. I think Gerber’s dark, witty writing and that gothic Miller/Janson style could have delivered some moody & interesting stuff.

Doc Strange – it always struck me as odd that the problem with Doc Strange was NOT the art. Ditko’s actual art wasn’t great, but his conceptualisation was jaw-dropping and set the tone. Colan/Palmer was a superb partnership and guest artists like Rudy Nebres really delivered as well. The wheels came off in the 80’s, but right through the 60’s and 70’s Doc was great. I always felt that the character lent himself to long, sustained storylines with huge themes, so I choose: Chris Claremont, Gene Colan and Dick Giordano. Oh yes.

Iron Man: I don’t think the writing has ever been better than Michelinie & Layton, but I always loved George Perez’s detailed, shiny drawings of Iron Man, so I’m going with Michelinie-Perez-Layton.

Either Doc Strange or the Surfer by Alex Ross. Something with a real dreamscape.

Lastly, a Doc Doom comic, by Starlin & Leiahola, but it has to be about the mystical, occult, mother-in-Hell side of Doom, not the scenery chewing pantomime villain.


Doug said...

Richard, I'd make the same "wish it was extended" claim about Englehart/Rogers/Austin on Batman in Detective Comics.

So speaking along those lines, I'd have loved to have seen George Perez paired with inkers other than those he was paired with in his early Avengers issues. Vinnie did him no service, and I've voiced my opinions before that I'm choosy about where I enjoy Pablo Marcos's inks (and it's not on Perez or Byrne). So Terry Austin, Sinnott would have been nice (love those FF issues), even a guy like Romeo Tanghal who inked the early New Teen Titans stories.

How about Starlin given complete creative control over the Celestial Madonna, or the Kree/Skrull War?


david_b said...

The idea that comes to me first off would be the Skrull-Kree War.., if done by Byrne would have been a sight to see. The advent of different artists in midstream didn't do the story justice.

Agreed with Richard on Defenders..., I always felt there was more potential early on than what we got, but that's how creative change-ups go.

Also agreed on early Perez and Vinnie. Probably some of the weakest Avengers art (besides Milgrom) I've seen in Bronze Age. But Perez really rocked by the time he got to DC, no doubt there.

Great topic idea today..!!

Eric said...

"Defenders under Gerber-Miller-Janson. I think Gerber’s dark, witty writing and that gothic Miller/Janson style could have delivered some moody & interesting stuf"

That sounds amazing. I would read that in a heart beat.

Why not go even further and suggest Levitz and Giffen on the Defenders. Giffen did do art on a few issues with Janson as inker. There could have been a Marvel version of The Great Darkness Saga but with the Defenders.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,

My immediate reaction on Starlin doing Kree Skrull was ‘Hell, yes’ but the more I think about it, the more I think ‘no’.

I mean, theoretically it would have been great to have unified style & plotting, but actually the glory of Kree /Skrull is its DISorder: Roy being told to get Mar-Vell into the Avengers somehow to protect the copyright because his own title had been cancelled and Stan was determined that Captain Marvel should belong to Marvel, Roy & Neal wrapping up the Inhumans loose ends from their Beast-inflicted demise in Am Adv’s, Neal watching Fantastic Voyage and deciding he was going to chuck it in somewhere, anywhere, Clint’s super hero identity crisis to set up the 100th issue, Vision/Wanda starting up, Joe McCarthy i.e. Warren Craddock, Ronan devolving humans to beasts to fight the Skrulls, the Skrulls from FF 2 rock up, Carol Danvers, oh but it's not Carol, it's the Super Skrull pretending to be Carol, Mandroids, giant space war, all the Golden Age superheroes pop in for a cameo punch up in the Supreme Intelligence’s broom cupboard and Rick Jones saves the universe. The end.

I mean, it is total chaos !!! If Jim Starlin had got his hands on it, it would have been great, but he would have turned into another slice of that space opera he’s always writing. It would have been wonderful, but would it have been better?


Doug said...

Richard, your synopsis of K/S makes me want to read it!

Of course, Rip did that to me a few weeks ago with Celestial Madonna, and I've yet to get back to that.

Time keeps on slipping...


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug - the last time I read the whole of the Avengers, I actually left out K/S as I didn't want to read it too many times.

But you're right about time. The days go slower, but the years fly by. How does that work?


Redartz said...

Richard- Gerber, Miller and Janson on Defenders? Absolutely. Great call. I did like Dave Kraft's stint on the book with Keith Giffen. Eric's suggestion of Paul Levitz sounds interesting...

Doug- Starlin and Celestial Madonna: sounds very promising. And I'm with you, Richard's description of K/S is irresistible!

Martinex1 said...

Redartz, thank you for sharing this topic. I appreciate that. Some really interesting and great suggestions so far. It's too bad that this would never happen; just imagining the combos suggested makes me happy.

Here are a few of my own:

I'm not an expert to know if it ever happened, but I would have liked to see a run with Joe Kubert on Marvel mags like Sgt Fury and the Howling Commandos and Ka-Zar. I would have liked his take on those war and jungle comics. And it made me think that I actually would have liked him to take over S.H.I.E.L.D after Steranko and given us a grittier and tougher take on the spy game.

I would also like to have seen Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein on the Avengers...perhaps in the post-200 issues when Stern was writing. I loved Golden's work on Avengers Annual 10 and would have liked him on the series. Likewise after Byrne left the X-Men, it might have been nice to see what Golden could have done with the art

I really may be in the minority here, but I've never been a big fan of the Barry Windsor Smith Avengers, and I would have loved to see the Buscema brothers on those issues. The early Ultron, Clint as Goliath, etc.

A strange one that I have always desired would be for Gene Colan and Tom Palmer to tackle the FF when they went to the Negative Zone. I think it would have been fun to see the FF in a darker and shadowy take in the Negative Zone with Annhilus. It may have been a good arc to try that out.

In reverse of my first suggestion, I would have liked to see Byrne and Austin on the Micronauts. When the book went direct sales, the art fell off drastically. Gil Kane is a hall of famer, but he didn't fit the title well. There was a great story when the heroes travelled to the tiny town from FF 236 and battled Doom and the Puppet Master. Byrne's art on that would have been fantastic. That story was really solid and entertaining, but the art hindered it. It could have been a classic.

Last but not least, I would have liked Kirby to do a run on Doom Patrol. Roll the FF and X-Men together into some DC lunacy.

I could go on forever. I like these discussions.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, this is an interesting topic. I'll probably think of twenty more as soon as I walk away from the computer, but off the top of my head, how about:

--Roger Stern on JLA (just to see if he could recreate his Avengers magic...maybe with Ron Frenz on art?)
--Gene Colan on Swamp Thing (his atmospheric art would be perfect for the tone of Swampy...and I'm not even a Swampy fan!)
--Mike Grell on Conan (writing and art; he did a great job on Warlord, so...)
--Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on...well, almost anything (I know he had trouble meeting deadlines, but I'd love to have seen him on Marvel stuff like Spidey, X-Men, or Avengers, or on DC's Infinity Inc, Legion, or All-Star Squadron)
--speaking of Infinity Inc, I would've loved an Alex Saviuk run on that title...I always liked his Web of Spider-Man stuff
--and last but not least, how about Fabian Nicieza as the writer on one (or more) of the Spidey titles? He did a couple of fill-in issues of Web, and he really seemed to get Spidey and the supporting cast; I think he'd have made a great regular writer for old Webhead

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

John Romita would have done a nice job on the Invaders and on the JSA revival in All-Star Comics. Nice clean style - would have been well-suited to the Golden Age teams.

So... why not Joe Staton and Terry Austin on the Invaders? Or on a Liberty Legion series?

I have such a difficult time wrapping my mind around John Buscema doing anything DC. Maybe he'd have been well-suited to Green Lantern/Green Arrow? Or Aquaman?


J.A. Morris said...

Here's something that always bugged me:
Marv Wolfman wrote the Skrulls/Xandar/Galactus epic that ran in FF #204-214, it featured great art from Keith Pollard, John Byrne and Joe Sinnott. For the first part, the Skrulls' attack on Xandar is front and center. Then it gets suddenly dropped and Galactus becomes the focal point...and the Xandr/Skrull war is forgotten. I got the chance to ask Wolfman at a con last year, he said he planned to get back to it. Of course, he left Marvel, went to DC and co-created the New Teen Titans, and the rest is history.

I wish Wolfman had finished that story, it wasn't mentioned again until Rom several years later.

Edo Bosnar said...

J.A., regardless, I still love that Wolfman-penned space opera in FF. I even have the hardcover collecting it!

Doug, love the idea of Romita or Staton on Invaders. Holy cow, either one would have been awesome!

On this topic, I have to say I'm actually more partial to the "wish it had lasted longer" angle. I heartily second the wish that the Englehart/Rogers/Austin run on Detective had lasted much, much longer. Here's some more wishful thinking:
- Neal Adams staying on as the main Avengers artist not only to complete the Kree-Skrull War, but also for the entirety of Englehart's run;
- Michael Golden continuing as the main artist on Micronauts for another 20-30 issues at least;
- Stern and Byrne (and Rubinstein) remaining as the creative team on Captain America.
- John Buscema coming on as artist as soon as Roger Stern took over the writing chores on Avengers;
- Trevor von Eeden sticking around longer as the artist on Power Man and Iron Fist;
- And finally, something that would redress one of the bitterest disappointments of my youth, Byrne and Austin staying on X-men...

Mike W., I like the idea of an extended run on JLA by Roger Stern; he did a brief story arc in a series called JLA Classified together with Byrne and Mark Farmer. It's really quite good (collected in a tpb called "That Was Now, This is Then").

On the topic of Roger Stern, I think it would have been cool if he had taken a shot on the Defenders sometime after issue #50, and paired with a steady artist, either Sal Buscema or Keith Pollard.

I think it would have been so cool if, instead of Carmine Infantino, Walt Simonson had been the main artist on Marvel's Star Wars, especially during that whole initial run when Arcie Goodwin was the writer.

And somewhere along the line, I also think it would have been cool to see Alan Davis and Mark Farmer as the art-team on Legion of Super-heroes. The writer? Paul Levitz, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug – you’re spot on, it’s weirdly difficult to imagine Big John at DC. Maybe JLA? He was always good at not making every physique look the same, and not bad at drawing women (as some of his contemporaries were).

Hi Martinex – when you say you disliked Barry Smith on Avengers, I get the impression it was during the Thou-Shalt-Draw-Like-Kirby phase, rather than when he used his own style?


Martinex1 said...

Yes Richard you are correct. - his early phase.

Redartz said...

So many excellent, enticing suggestions today! Thanks everyone, for each one .

Martinex- Kubert would have been amazing on Fury and Ka-Zar. I almost mentioned him in the post, as a possible Conan artist (other Conan illustrators in my ideal dreamland: Craig Russell, and Walt Simonson).
Also, Mike Golden's Avengers Annual was one of the very best. It does inspire thoughts of 'what if'...

Mike W. - Colan on Swamp Thing; great suggestion. And with Tom Palmer inking? Yes...

Doug- John Buscema on Hawkman, perhaps? Also, he actually did a Batman short story in Batman: Black and White, which was pretty nice. Big John knew how to draw thugs, perfect for the Darknight Detective to pursue.

Edo- Anything written by Roger Stern is well worth reading. Your Defenders mention would have been great: a definite must-buy.

Eric said...

Random question. Can anyone think of a Bronze Age writer artist team that could have saved The Champions? Mantlo wrote for a time. Byrne drew an issue. There were former Avengers and X-Men on the team, yet the title floundered.

Martinex1 said...

Eric I would have liked to have seen Marv Wolfman and George Perez on the Champions. Imagine them at their peak and instead of handling the Teen Titans, putting a similar spin on Natasha, Herc, and the gang. Hard to say if anything would have saved it, but Perez does a fantastic Black Widow. And I imagine them adding quite a bit of life and character dynamics to sometimes lifeless heroes like Iceman and Angel.

Edo Bosnar said...

Eric, Byrne actually drew five issues of the Champions (#s 11-15) and inked the last issue (17). Even that couldn't save the book, although at that point Byrne did not yet have his later star power to draw in more readers. It's actually too bad, because as I recall (and granted, it's been quite a long time since I read the Champions) Mantlo seemed to have finally found his feet with the team in those last few issues. I don't even think Martinex's suggestion about Wolfman and Perez taking over, which I like, would have saved the series from the chopping block (and, similarly, Perez also didn't have his later star power at that point; for a while he was the artist on the similarly short-lived Inhumans series, and nobody seemed to notice or care at the time).

Redartz, totally agreed on Stern. He's mostly remembered for his work on Avengers, Spider-man and, later, Superman, but pretty much any series he worked on for a stretch was reliably good: Captain America, Dr. Strange, his tenure on Hulk before the lengthy run by Mantlo...
I think it would have been great if, after Michelinie and Layton left Iron Man, he had taken over instead of O'Neil, and the then still relatively unknown M.D. Bright became the penciler.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to get more Steve Gerber-written Guardians of the Galaxy (I think Marvel Presents was the comic the series appeared in) and I would love to see a different artist tackle the material. My picks: Frank Brunner, Al Williamson, or Dave Cockrum. They could do space opera or "cosmic" better than Al Milgrom.

- Mike Loughlin

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