Monday, February 4, 2013

Under Siege: Avengers 274

Avengers #274 (December 1986)
"Divided... We Fall!"
Roger Stern-John Buscema/Tom Palmer

Doug:  We've been promising you a review of this story arc for several months now, and it's finally here!  Again, we really appreciate the participation you all showed during our January time off.  That was much needed for us to recharge and to also get ahead.  We're hoping you'll see a return to the quality we left off with late in 2012.  But before we get rolling on this 4-issue slugfest that will take us through the month of Cupid (how's that for irony?), we need to recap the wholly-necessary Avengers #273, which was a prequel of sorts to the carnage to come.  

Doug:  The issue begins with Hercules in a NYC tavern impressing the locals with his might.  He's been bet by another patron that he cannot hold a table (with a dozen or so patrons on top) aloft for five minutes.  As the clock's about to expire the table breaks and everyone comes tumbling down.  Herc heads over to the bar and chats with his benefactor, who asks some probing questions about the Avengers.  Herc, filling himself with ale, is all-too-forthcoming with information.  The guy begins to goad the Olympian on what it's like taking orders from the Wasp; this ticks Herc off to the point that he tosses the guy clean through the bar's plate glass window out into the path of an approaching semi.  Leaping to his rescue, Herc is then forced to tell the bar's owner that he'll have the Avengers pay for the window, the table, and even the driver's truck.  We then find that the patron was actually the Wrecker, who goes into a truck outside the bar to confer with Yellowjacket (the female villain version).  Switching scenes to an undisclosed location, we find Baron Helmut Zemo conversing with Moonstone (again, the female version).  They are discussing a pending plan of Zemo's, and it's apparent that they are getting all of their ducks in a row.  There's some obvious mistrust between the two, and we later find that Moonstone's project is to control the villain Blackout.  Zemo is very concerned with neutralizing the powers of Captain Marvel (the female version -- sheesh!  I thought this was a double-aughts trend; forgot it was rolling 15 years earlier!), and Blackout's creation of dark fields that dampen energy would seem to be the trick.  Along the way we meet other conspirators:  Mr. Hyde, the rest of the Wrecking Crew, Goliath (formerly Power Man -- the Caucasian version!), Tiger Shark, the Fixer, the Absorbing Man, and Titania.  After an attempt by Moonstone to elicit a coup, Zemo shows that he is indeed in charge and has Blackout envelope Moonstone in the dark stuff.  Once she's in her place, the team commences their plan -- the invasion of Avengers Mansion.  They wage a full-frontal assault on the building and take it in less than seven minutes.  Zemo gloats over his control as he convenes his new Masters of Evil in the Assembly Room, a trussed-up Jarvis at the center of the group.

Doug:  So all of that brings us to today's fare. We lead off with Zemo and the Fixer inside the Mansion, watching the Black Knight march right up the front walk.  Dane's not all together, as he's smarting from a bout with jealousy in the previous issue.  He and Jan had attended a social function together, only to have the hunky mercenary Paladin show up and flirt with the Wasp.  Of course Janet flirted back and Dane fell into all sorts of depression.  So as he approached the Mansion on this day, he wasn't exactly expecting any surprises.  Rather than make any sort of scene in public, the all-new Masters of Evil allow the hero to enter the building; it doesn't take long for him to figure that something is amiss.  Yellowjacket buzzes him, and he gives chase -- right into an ambush by Mr. Hyde.  Hyde is portrayed as brutally merciless in this arc, and he has to be talked down from killing the Knight.  Beaten into submission, Hyde hoists the Avenger over his shoulder and plods off to find Zemo.

Karen: I recall that when the Wasp was initially made leader I was not at all happy about it. I felt she was too flighty, too superficial. But over time, they did a good job having her grow into the role. The Black Knight also got a fair amount of face time and became a much more fully developed character during this time period. Mr. Hyde's sheer brutality is really quite disturbing -even his fellow villain, Yellowjacket, seems uncomfortable with him.

Doug:  I'd been back into the Avengers (and comics in general) for a couple of years at this point.  Roger Stern's Avengers had a different feel to them than the team of Jim Shooter I'd left when I entered high school.  I guess for me, with a sense of newness still about my return, the Wasp's ascension was OK.  Stern seemed to handle it well.

Doug:  In the Assembly room, the Knight, his helmet, and his enchanted sword are presented to Zemo.  A cadre of muscle encircles the meeting table -- Hyde, Goliath, the Wrecking Crew, and Tiger Shark.  Blackout and Moonstone are also in the room.  It's interesting, in light of previous appearances of the various incarnations of the Masters (and other grouped-up do-badders, as in King-Size Avengers #1), to see the raw power of this group.  I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a roster of past Avengers (from this era backward) to match these goons.  Having been worried most about Captain Marvel, Zemo next attacks her.  Using the Wasp's voice, a false summons is sent to Monica.  She of course answers in the speed of a thought, only to be immediately confronted by Blackout.  As Moonstone and Zemo had surmised, the black extra-dimensional power that Blackout wields indeed incapacitates the Captain.  The Avengers are beginning to fall.  Zemo gloats to the tied-up Jarvis, gleefully explaining how they used a voice modulator to mimic the Wasp's voice.  He wonders aloud how easy it will be to lure Captain America and Hercules to their doom.

Karen: I know some people disliked this Captain Marvel, some because of the name, others because they felt she was Stern's pet character being foisted on the readers (shades of Englehart and Mantis), but I always liked her and thought she had a cool powerset that could have made her one of the most powerful Avengers of all. She had a nice run on the book that ended prematurely.  I was never too keen on her costume though. Speaking of costumes, Blackout has to have one of the worst ever. It looks like something Electro would have rejected, and that's saying something.

Doug:  I warmed to Captain Marvel well enough.  It's hard for me to recall if I'd read her first appearance in the Spider-Man annual; I'm thinking that I encountered her in the Avengers first.  Like many ultra-powerful characters, her abilities seemed a bit nebulous to me at first.  But her potential was certainly off the charts. Blackout's threads come courtesy of Carmine Infantino, who was the penciller in Blackout's debut appearance in Nova #19.  Fully agreed on your assessment!

Doug:  We see more tension between our nasties, as the Fixer starts talking trash to Yellowjacket about his design prowess.  She pretty much ends it with a hard wrenching of the Fixer's thumb.  Zemo enters to check on the plans; the Fixer assures him that the Fantastic Four are out of the country, and that the West Coast Avengers have been sent on a false mission.  Zemo gloats (he does a lot of that), but as he does we cut to the domicile of the Winsome Wasp, sunning herself poolside.  Suddenly a shadow comes over her and we see Captain America leap from a military helicopter, only to land on the diving board and execute a dismount only he could pull off.  Cap tells of a recent mission where he battled the Trapster and Whirlwind.  Whirlwind had long been a thorn in the Pyms' sides, so Cap had called the Mansion to report that those two were in custody.  Knowing Jan would especially want to know, Cap was surprised to hear that she... wasn't interested at all.  Feeling that something had gone terribly wrong, Cap hightailed to Jan's private residence to get to the bottom of it.

Karen: I love that multi-figure depiction of Cap doing one of his acrobatic jumps. I recall reading a review of the Avengers film and someone complaining that Cap was a  super-acrobat, like that was something terrible. I for one have always been impressed with heroes making incredible athletic moves. Anyway, it was well-done. 

Doug:  Artists on Daredevil always seemed to employ similar strategies in depicting the Man Without Fear in motion.  At the mansion, the heavies have been told they can loot whatever they want.  Needless to say, they begin to dismantle the personal quarters.  Moonstone is surprised by Thunderball -- we don't know what she'd stumbled upon -- but we do know who was spying on her.  The Wasp had infiltrated the Mansion through its air system and was on patrol.  Flying into the Assembly Room, she found Jarvis.  Untying his mouth, she was told of Zemo and his plan to take out Hercules.  Not having time to rescue Jarvis, she assured him that Hercules would be kept out of the trap.  As if on cue, we switch scenes to the street, where a limousine has dropped off the Lion of Olympus.  Inside the car, as it pulls away, we see a very glamorous escort, talking to someone on the phone about getting paid her fee.  She assures Baron Zemo that Hercules has had enough drugged booze to fell an elephant.  As he staggers around the sidewalk, singing to himself and anyone else who will listen, the Wasp buzzes him to get his attention.  A man calling himself "Stevie" comes along and leads Herc across the street to a van.  Once inside, we find that it was Captain America.  The Avengers tell their fellow of the goings-on inside the Mansion.  Hercules is of course ready to brawl.  When the Wasp tells him that they need a plan, the very-drunk demigod blasts through the side of the van -- recall that last issue the Wrecker had goaded Hercules for taking orders from a female.

Karen: Moonstone, being brighter than most of the villains, seems to be actually searching through drawers and such, while the rest just seem to be smashing everything in sight. Zemo really does have a crew full of muscle-heads. If he'd had Crusher Creel  and Sandman, he would have had a full house. Jarvis is so Jarvis, telling the Wasp to save Hercules rather than himself. Of course Herc is both smashed and too egotistical to listen to Jan. Stern had done a nice job over many months showing Hercules' resentment at taking orders from the Wasp. It's probably harder to grasp now but put in the timeframe of 1986 it's an all-too familiar scenario, as more and more women were attaining positions of authority in the workforce, and many men were uncomfortable with that.

Doug:  Hercules heads straight into the Mansion, leaving Cap and the Wasp no choice but to follow.  Inside, Tiger Shark is the first Master to greet Herc.  Saying that he'd hoped to square off against the Sub-Mariner, Tiger Shark engages Herc nonetheless.  It's a foundation-shaking battle, as the walls give way and the two heavyweights crash even through the floor.  In the monitor room, the Fixer spies Cap and Jan, and alerts Zemo.  Having rigged new defense mechanisms, the Fixer is able to take out Cap and the Wasp before they even get close.  Once down, an mechanical arm comes out of the building and brings Cap inside; the Wasp, on the other hand, is placed out on the sidewalk.  Coming to, she's astonished to see the Mansion encased in a black cube -- the work of Blackout!  Inside the dark shield, Moonstone is astonished at Blackout's power.

Karen: I f Hercules is sober, I don't see Tiger Shark lasting more than a minute. I mean, really. Hercules would punch him into the ozone layer. The blackout power looked neat, but the mansion appeared a bit on the small side.

Doug:  I felt the same way about the battle -- Herc had to be a couple of steps slow.  Back inside the building, Hercules continues to show his mettle.  Fighting Tiger Shark to a standstill, he's piled on by Hyde and the Wrecking Crew.  Encased in a cocoon of machinery and metals, the Son of Zeus nevertheless bursts the bonds, triumphant in the face of his persecutors.  However, Goliath (nee Power Man) enters the fray, and picking Hercules up by one of his ankles proceeds to slam his head and shoulders from side-to-side into the walls.  It's a brutal assault, and Herc is finally dropped into the middle of the rest of the assembled Masters.  They pounce, and pummel.  And pummel.  And pummel.  Outside, Jan tries to breach the black barrier, to no avail.  Inside, Zemo confronts the now-bound Captain America.  In typical Cap fashion, the Star-Spangled Avengers says, "It... doesn't matter... what you do to me!  You haven't beaten the Avengers... not so long as one of us lives!"  Zemo disregards Cap's speech, telling him that he is the only Avenger of consequence left.  The Wasp is free, but was instrumental in capturing the Black Knight and in bringing Hercules into the clutches of his assailants.  And then Cap is told that the Olympian has... expired.  Outside, we see the black encasement bend, and then Hercules is spit out of it onto the sidewalk.  The Wasp rushes to his side and finds... no pulse.

Karen: This was an exciting issue; the stakes really felt high, and built anticipation for next issue. What Avengers would take up the call and come to the aid of their fallen comrades?


david_b said...

Yes, Doug, we know you've been eager to start this series for a while now. Great to see it finally arrive.

As much as I enjoy this story arc, I have mixed feelings seeing these panels again.

1) Did we really HAVE to see the panel where all the villains are whompin' on Herc..? Seriously..? A bit too much wonton violence depicted. Yes, yes, yes, I know it's suppose to convey the savageness of the proceedings, but the previous 'let 'em have it boys' panel would have done just nicely. Leaving more to the imagination would have been preferred, such as in the glory days of Hitchcock and other great story-tellers. Just an example, although it was good to be spared actual blood and gore.

2) It's also great to see Big John at the helm again after SO MANY dismal issues with terrible art leading up to this grand tenure. My only snipe was I wish they would have had a Joe Sinnott or any inker who could have been stronger. John's art is superb, but a bit over-powering at times.

3) Finally, Zemo has arrived..!! Folks here'll probably know better, but I don't recall a better representation of Zemo's vile cunning and evilness. The scripting here wonderfully conveyed Zemo as he should be done. As for the others, not really sure what Moonstone or this female Yellowjacket brought to the table, nor in her initial appearance a few issues earlier. Just an overall dumb idea.

I remember buyin' this off the rack in college at the time, starting around '85 with the Skrulls story. Ah, it was indeed a killer combination of great writing and artistry. It got a bit depressing with all the 'whompin' as mentioned above, but it was generally saved by the ending with Cap (more when you get to the climax..). Love the cheesecake with Jan and Tanya in the limo, another halmark of our beloved Mr. Buscema.

Also LOVED the masthead design, probably the best since first seeing the Byrne heads, which was used for years leading up to this team lineup.

Doug said...

Interestingly, David, this is during the era where Buscema largely did breakdowns and Tom Palmer did the finishes. I'd certainly be curious, and I have my own ideas, to know how much of what we see is Palmer and how much is Buscema. Having seen many Big John pencil rough samples for sale on eBay over the years, my assumption is that we're getting probably 60% Palmer (at least).


Edo Bosnar said...

I'm actually a bit surprised that you started with this issue and not the preceding one - just the fact that you need such a lengthy summary of #273 indicates that it's the natural starting point for the story.
Otherwise, great write-up. "Under Siege" is indeed a great story, and each individual chapter is wonderfully written - the pacing, build-up and characterization are perfect. Over the past few weeks, I've read the entire last part of Stern's run on Avengers, from issues #267 to #285, and it just cements my view of Roger Stern as one of the best super-hero comics writers ever.
As for the art, I really like it. It's hardly typical of John Buscema, in that it's easy to see he was just doing the layouts while Tom Palmer's finishes are often overpowering. However, it creates a distinct look that seems perfectly suited to these stories.

Doug said...

Edo, Karen and I discussed the length of the review and decided quite arbitrarily that since February has four Mondays we'd just do the last four issues of the storyline. The tpb indeed has five issues in it -- not sure of the recently-released Marvel Premiere Hardcover.

So apologies for not including art or our typical tandem comments on #273. Hopefully by the time we're into #275 next week it won't even be noticeable.


Bruce said...

This is absolutely my favorite Avengers story arc ever. The villains seem so dangerous and the odds so overwhelming. The characterization of the heroes and villains is just perfect. This isn't a mindless smash-'em-up, but a complex drama in which all the pieces fit perfectly.

One of my favorite aspects of this storyline is that Zemo actually has a plan. And not some half-baked conquer-the-world scheme, but an honest-to-goodness plan to defeat the Avengers. And it works.

Totally agree with Edo's assessment of Roger Stern as one of the all-time greats of the genre.

Anonymous said...

I agree this is substantially more Palmer than Buscema – there’s a softness and a flow, particularly to the faces, which is pure Palmer. That diving board panel looks like his work to me. Doug, where you reference artists on Daredevil....I suspect that Palmer is largely responsible for that too, bearing in mind that pre-Miller, the signature art of DD was Colan/Palmer. Are we seriously complaining that this is too much Palmer at the expense of Buscema? Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

I disagree about the violence meted out against Herc, purely on the grounds that the following story has Zeus, no less, personally punishing the Avengers because his son took such a battering. Therefore, there really has to be such a battering. It can’t happen off camera. At the end of this issue, we’re supposed to believe that the Masters may have killed a demi-god, so I for one would have needed more than a couple of slaps round the face.

I like the fact that (with a couple of exceptions) these are all old school mostly silver age baddies who would genuinely have serious grudges against various Avengers. I like the fact that Zemo is proper Zemo, with a lot of gloating, but not too much mwa-ha-ha-ha pantomime villainy (you know what I mean by a pantomime over there, right?).

Regarding Captain Marvel, the problem with cosmically powered up heroes is that you keep having to come up with new kinds of Kryptonite. I thought Blackout was a good and credible way of neutralising her without ridiculous contrivance.

To really appreciate the greatness of these issues, you need to read the first 300 issues of Avengers in one go (which I did a couple of years ago). There is almost no drop in quality for the first 200 issues, then almost no recognisable quality for the next 54. It falls off a cliff into the sea. When this Stern –Buscema – Palmer run starts, you practically get the bends coming back up so fast. It’s not just a return to quality and form, but a conscious & deliberate return to the art, characterisation and plotting that made the Avengers so good for the first 17 years.


Anonymous said...

Also – somewhere around here, isn’t there a rather moving bit where Cap falls on his knees in the destroyed mansion mourning the loss of his baseball cards because they are one of the last things he brought back from the past with him?

Did anyone else think Whedon was referencing that with Clark Gregg in the movie?


Inkstained Wretch said...

Doug & Karen,

I realize you guys must have put a lot of work into this -- Thanks! -- but I think #273 would have been a better starting point.

The lead-in to this story goes even further back. It think it started with #270, certainly #271, which starts the Wasp/Paladin/Black Knight plot thread. There was also a cross-over in Amazing Spider-Man #283. This was one epic tale. I can understand your desire to keep it to a reasonable length though.

This was the last great run of the Avengers and as far as I am concerned the last hurrah of the Bronze Age. So thanks again for doing it.

This is not my favorite Avengers line-up though. I was never much of a fan of the Black Knight. He was too bland. He just lacked ... something.

Nor did I much care for this Captain Marvel. The name was wrong - they should have come up with something that better, uhh, reflected her light powers, which were far too vaguely defined anyway. She lacked personality too. I did like her costume though.

Hercules was great fun during this run though. I'm sorry that the Sub-Mariner had such a short run as an Avenger too. They made a nice pair. Maybe they decided to drop Namor because he was too similar to Hercules. (Another super-strong outsider with the arrogant and entitled attitude of royalty). Still, I would have loved to see him take on the Masters ...

Regarding Blackout, I think he was a great character and his wacky costume was part of what I liked about him. You definitely remembered that guy. It was a lot less silly than Electro's costume, I think.

Regarding Hercules' beatdown, yeah, it was rough, but I think it was justified in that it showed how evil the baddies were, how far they were willing to go and just how much danger the Avengers were in. I remember thinking at the time that what was so scary about Zemo's plan was how simple it was: assemble enough super-powered thugs to take down the Avengers, then pick them off, one-by-one. It was surprising it hadn't been done before.

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, the hardcover, which I now have, contains issues 270-277. I think that earlier paperback edition leaves out issue #272.

david_b said...

All, regarding Palmer's inks.

Absolutely right, my goof (totally) ~ It really is Palmer you see. I would have preferred Sinnott over Palmer's inks, but that's just personal choice. Initially the Buscema/Palmer team was a true-blue GODSEND (frankly any improvement was welcomed..), later it seemed more and more Palmer, which also got tiring.

I never was a fan of Monica at all, but under Stern, she became tolerable, actually acquiring a personality.

Dane as Knight bland..? To me, he just seemed like the Avenger's Nighthawk. He provided a stable entity to the group for Jan along side Cap and Monica, balancing Namor and Herc. Yes, I agree Namor was a bright spot WAY too brief.

Karen said...

We did debate where to start this review, and while I don't recall the specifics, I know that I personally did not want to do a 7 or 8 issue long review. It would spread out over two months and to be honest, it's difficult to sustain one's enthusiasm that long, or at least my enthusiasm that long. We've mentioned before that doing reviews typically take us several hours of time, as we usually read each issue more than once, do a draft review, then play off each others comments, rewrite,etc. So we can only handle one -occasionally two -in a week. So I'm more than willing to take any blame for not wanting to do more than four issues and for starting this review with 274. But like Doug said, I think by the time we get to 275, it won't matter.


Doug said...

As I'm about to hit "publish your comment", I see that my partner beat me to it. I'll publish it anyway.

Perhaps Karen and I should choose shorter, much more definitely bound, stories in the future. I was personally not interested in spending eight weeks on this particular arc, good as it is; Karen and I each have all of the issues involved and did have conversation about where to begin. It was my suggestion to start on #274. It was my hope with the lengthy summary of #273 that anyone who'd not previously read the story could be "up to speed" for the main issues of the arc.

In March we have four #1 issues scheduled for review. After that, we'll need to reconsider some of the other ideas we've had. I guess continuity does that to people. No wonder Marvel from time to time mandated done-in-ones.


Doug said...

Richard --

The panel with Cap that you are looking for is at the end of #277, and it's a great scene.


Doug said...

Just to further the "behind the scenes" nature of Karen's and my comments just above, we've in the past discussed reviewing story arcs like The Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Avengers Forever. As you all know, those are great/interesting/important stories. They are also all monsters in size! So unfortunately we won't be doing much more than talking about them on the BAB.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing the 16 weeks of the Side-by-Side posts, but I'd lie if I didn't say I wasn't looking forward to the eventual end of it all.

I'd mentioned earlier that when our "vacation" ended we had almost 45 posts in the queue, some of the dates stretching to late March. That was the point of taking the time off -- to recharge creatively. I don't know how you all felt about being in charge of the discussion-based posts over those 20 days, but it can be a challenge. Karen was teasing me as I began to craft posts in that genre for the days after our return - "what are you going to do if someone takes your topic in January?" Well, luckily it didn't happen, so I didn't waste my time.

Rest assured that we have your best interests at heart, and that this is still a labor of love. We'd just like to keep the focus on "love" and not "labor", if you know what we mean.

Thanks for reading and participating each day. The comments section is sort of like our own "letters page".


dicecipher said...

John Byrne used the multi-figure a lot when he was drawing Iron Fist.

david_b said...

Doug, Karen, no worries on shorter multi-chapter posts.

Brevity is always preferred anyways. Let our dedicated posters add what they want (but didn't see covered) in comments and you both can respond, ho big whoop.

As you both know from previous columns, "We NEVER EVER get sidetracked.."

Doc Savage said...

One of the all-time best stories for the Avengers!

This is my Captain Marvel (by marvel comics)--I always liked Monica Rambeau, never cared for Mar-Vell. It's a shame they got rid of her and made her give up the name.

Re: Blackout's costume, remember he is cuckoo so he probably thinks it looks good. Looks like a reject from Dial H for Hero.

mr. oyola said...

This is from back in the days when I still relied on newsstands and drugstores for the majority of my comics - as such another important source was trading with friends.

This was one of those story-arcs that I never got my hands on, but was often discussed and we tried to get out hands on all the issues, but they were closely-guarded and difficult to trade for (who had the money to go buy back issues?)

Ten or twelve years later when I'd get back into comics, meeting other comics enthusiasts from other parts of the country, this was still one of the arcs talked about fondly.

Thanks for spending time with it.

Doug said...

dicecipher and mr. oyola --


In the Brave and the Bold post that ran Saturday, Neal Adams also used that multi-exposure effect on the Flash a few times. I generally really like it, no matter the artist. It's like getting more bang for my buck in a given panel.

mr. oyola -- glad you liked today's fare. Having re-read the succeeding three issues just recently for these reviews, I hope you'll stick around for what we all know is a great story.


Doc Savage said...

Hi Doug,
You could always do longer storylines by covering more than one issue at a time. like today you basically summed up 2 issues for us. Then you wouldn't have to worry about going on for months at a time!

I was pleasantly surprised to see this story covered by you at all, so I'll take what I can get. I thought this blog leaned mostly towards the early Bronze Age. Anyway, I enjoy all of the posts whether i care for a particular story/artist/title or not.

Doc Savage said...

gee, I personally think "Unlimited Vision" was pretty good. Heck, the issues with Spidey trying to join were fun, too.

Doug said...

Matt --

Thanks for the suggestion about combining the posts as essentially 2-for-1's. I'm not sure that's exactly the solution for Karen and I -- time is mainly the culprit, I'm afraid. For example, and please -- don't anyone read this like I'm whining or complaining. Again, we do this because we want to do it, but we also want to present a quality product for those who read the blog. Anyway, specifically in regard to my summary paragraph for Avengers #273, that single paragraph took me over an hour to write. I read the comic, looked through it again for essential information, and then the looking/writing/looking/revising/etc. takes time. With that sort of investment for just a summary, I can't see doing that very often, knowing that a more detailed look at a second comic would be in the same post.

I think we've evolved quite a bit since those early BAB posts we reran in January. At least Karen and I feel like we're putting out a solid product when we do reviews. Again, you're getting more than a capsule review and better than some of the "scan sites" give you for your time.

So there are no hard feelings today, not at all -- everyone is entitled to their own opinion of what we do and what you expect from us. Those two things aren't always going to match up, and that's fine. Shoot, if everyone just agreed all the time it would be pretty boring. But we want you to know where we're coming from -- we did have a discussion and looked at a few options, the calendar, what else we want to do, etc. Believe me, our readers were definitely considered throughout that dialogue.

As to the parameters of the blog, yes, the focus is on the Bronze Age. But I think it's safe to say that we all like comics that fall outside of that era, so why stay away from them? And couldn't "Under Siege" have been published during the Thomas/Buscema/Palmer years of the late Silver Age? I think it would have fit in that period quite well. Over the years we've covered comics from the early Silver Age to almost the turn of the century. Just earlier this evening I slotted a John Buscema-illustrated Hulk short story to run at the beginning of April -- from 1998. You never know what you'll get from us, and that's OK.

More Marvel Comics: The Untold Story coming your way tomorrow, and it will be a doozy. As I write in the body of the post, the back half of the book was so dense we are basically just going to break it out as a bunch of Open Forum-type topics. We may still be writing comments on tomorrow's post this time next month!

Be well,


humanbelly said...

I'll chime in to agree w/ DavidB back up there somewhere-- for the most part, I daresay you should certainly be able to rely on your well-versed community here to go ahead and do the expandin' if we think an initial post needs some fleshing out. There's a pretty big body of knowledge and (well-informed) opinion out here-!

Blackout's costume: I kid you not, my first thought upon seeing the scanned pages here was, "Geeze, I'll bet drawing that absurd, outdated design was just DELIGHTFUL for the usually-jaded Mr. Buscema-!" In fact, I wonder if the layout even included the costume details, or if he just left that up to Mr Palmer to take care of entirely?

Capt. Monica Marvel: Naw, I have to disagree heartily w/ my esteemed coleague InkyWretch. I always liked her and never stopped rooting for her. I found her uncomplicated intelligence and competence and integrity to be a huge breath of fresh air. There is such a thing as too much angst (*cough* X-MEN *cough*), and if anything, her optimistic, grounded nature seemed much more real to me, in a way, than many other perpetually troubled cast-members.

Oh golly, and now I'm-a startin' to fade-- have to reluctantly call it a night. . .


Anonymous said...

Man, Blackout is definitely a candidate for 'worst super villain costume'!

Yeah, it was a shock to see the Lion of Olympus suffer such a beatdown from the Masters of Evil here. I can't recall the Prince of Power ever suffering such a brutal beating whether in the Bronze or Silver Age, going all the way back to his debut in Journey into Mystery. I think Roger Stern purposely had the Son of Zeus beaten badly like this to show that even the most powerful member could fall to this new more deadly incarnation of the Masters of Evil. (I think I've used up all of Herc's nicknames here - any others I missed out?)

Looking forward to the review of issue #275!

- Mike 'have at thee!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

dbutler16 said...

First, I'm glad you two had a chance to recharge your batteries in January, and I think the BAB Classics worked very well, since there was a good amount of converstation generated by your reruns.
Now, I loved this series when I reread it a few years ago, and it's one of my favorite Avengers stories, but I do find the violence shocking for the time (though we had started to enver the "grim & gritty" era of comics by then).

Sure, the Prince of Power's beatdown was shocking, but I imagine Stern wanted to build up the Masters of Evil as being a major threat, plus they had to get the most powerful Avenger (well except for Captain Marvel) out of the way. Plus, it gave a future story, where Odin seeks revenge against the Avengers for Herc's condition.

Comicsfan said...

My hands-down favorite line of this issue: "Thanks for the lift, son!" Followed by Cap casually leaping out of an airborne helicopter and executing a maneuver to land on his feet that even the guys on Jackass might balk at.

Then again, Rodney Dangerfield had a similar maneuver on some diving boards that might make even Cap strike a salute.

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