01.19.2010

I’m a Misfit Avengers Fan

Avengers Assemble by Steve Epting and Tom Palmer, signed also by Stan Lee

Apparently my love of the Avengers is broken.  I’ve been reading the Marvel comic Avengers faithfully since 1993, however, my favorite eras of the team are those reviled by long-time Avengers fans.

When I started reading the book, the classic line-up with Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor didn’t exist.  Sure I read the occasional issue of the Avengers growing up with the classic team, and of course there was Secret Wars.  But I truly fell in love with the team when the Avengers was composed of: Black Knight, Crystal, Sersi, Black Widow, Captain America, Hercules, and Vision.  Yup, that’s right.  I became a fan of the Avengers during the “Brown Jacket” era.  Bob Harras, The Gatherers, Force Works, Steve Epting, The Crossing, Bug Jan, Tom Palmer, Kang-controlled Tony Stark, followed by teenage Tony Stark, Warren Ellis’ Thor, Mike Deodato, Moonraker, and Timeslide.  Loved it.  All of it. Not many people look back on this era fondly, but I don’t agree with that sentiment.  At the time, Marvel was making some big changes to the Avengers team.  They were keeping the stories fresh, unpredictable, and preventing stagnation.  Whether you liked the changes or not, you should at least acknowledge that Marvel was trying to push the characters forward.

My other favorite era of Avengers is right now!  I’ve enjoyed the entire run of New Avengers, but around Civil War is when it really became “top of the stack” reading for me.  Sure the decompressed storytelling can be annoying at times, but overall the stories and characterization have been great.  Civil War, The Initiative, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign… love all of it!  And I’m looking forward to Siege. Some folks just can’t stand Brian Michael Bendis’ take on the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  Me, I love it.  As far as I’m concerned, Spider-Man and Luke Cage fall in the category of true Avengers nowadays.  I read just about all the Avengers-related titles and can’t get enough: New Avengers, Dark Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Avengers The Initiative, Ms Marvel, and Young Avengers.  Obviously I’m not in the minority about this era.  Clearly Marvel is selling enough copies to support four month Avengers titles and several mini-series.  I don’t think that has ever been the case before.

Also, I hate Thor.  Can’t stand him.  That’s another thing that makes me an unusual Avengers fan.  I realize he’s a “classic” Avenger.  I realize he’s uber-powerful.  I just don’t care.  When he shows up in an Avengers issue, I simply start to yawn.  The Thor/Asgard content is the only thing that’s got me concerned about Siege.  I’m worried after Siege, the Avengers roster will include Thor.  Ugh.

So you can see, I’m a misfit Avengers fan.  Wait a minute… don’t read that wrong.  I’m not a fan of misfit Avengers.  I wouldn’t want to see a team made up of Triathlon, Deathcry, Rage, Silverclaw, Marrina, and D-Man.  No.. No… No… I’m a misfit myself amongst Avengers fan.

Other random thoughts…

  • The picture above is an Avengers Lithograph created to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the team.  It was drawn by Steve Epting and Tom Palmer in 1997.  The artists signed it, as well as Stan Lee.  I picked this up back in 2000 and have proudly displayed it ever since.
  • I’m looking forward to issue #97 of New Avengers, due in January 2013.  I gotta imagine they’ll return to the original numbering with that issue (Avengers #600) and drop the word “New”.
  • If you’re an Avengers fan, be sure to check out AvengersAssemble.net.  Van Plexico (a super-nice guy) runs that outstanding Avengers site.  Definitely worth checking out if you’re an Avengers fan.
  • Oh yeah, before I forget.  This post will drive my friend Terry nuts.  :)
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11 Responses to “I’m a Misfit Avengers Fan”

  1. Chocotaco Says:

    As an aside, I tried to purge myself of emotion before typing this comment. I don’t think I did a very good job, though. ;)

    I actually enjoyed the brown jacket era. It wasn’t the greatest run of the Avengers, but I don’t think it was all that bad. I could have probably done without the Sersi-Crystal-Black Knight-Quicksilver love parallelogram, but whatevs.

    The current era is utter sh*t, though. The only reason you’re able to stomach it is that you have already established yourself as not giving a crap about the Avengers. Plus, I think you want to be on the cutting edge of Marvel’s content right now, and since Brian Michael Bendis currently runs the Marvel Universe, Avengers is the place to be, even if it is f*cking terrible.

    I honestly think the reason that Avengers is even in the Top 10 is that Spider-Man and Wolverine are on the team. At least, that’s what I tell myself, because I can’t bring myself to believe that people would willingly buy super-decompressed stories with terrible dialogue on purpose.

    I think that Thor is awesome, but I completely understand why you wouldn’t like him on Avengers – he’s almost too powerful to be on a team. You tend to not like cosmic stuff anyway; so, Thor’s definitely not for you. I get that. :)

  2. Poddington Says:

    Hi Shag,

    after seige the Avengers titles (New, Dark, Mighty and Int) are ending. no word yet on if or when they are coming back but i assume they will launch a “Avengers” title soon after. and then when they get enough out they will renumber to 600 like you suggested

  3. Luke Says:

    I also started reading Avengers in this period, but a bit later than you did — right after The Crossing to be exact. So I was only reading for a few months before issue #400 and then the Heroes Reborn relaunch. I stayed with the title pretty much on through the buildup to Civil War (or as I call it, Plan B). The way Bendis handled Iron Man just finally got to me and I dropped New Avengers, although I have recently started reading Mighty. But from that beginning I became an Avengers fan, and have caught up on lots of the history through back issue bin diving and Essential volumes.

    Recently I have picked up a few issues from this era, including #360, and frankly its not nearly as bad as it’s reputation. It’s certainly a lot better than the X-men stuff from the same period!

  4. Van Plexico Says:

    Shag, it really is all in *when* someone started reading it. We’ve had this debate for 15 years now among the visitors to my Avengers site. Most people love the team the way it was when they first started reading. My favorite era is the Jim Shooter/George Perez era because I started reading in 1977. It’s not always the case with everyone, but most of the time it’s true.

    I don’t understand why anyone would enjoy Bendis’s take on the Avengers, though. It is absolutely beyond me how anyone could find it enjoyable– and I’m not talking about the membership or the villains or what have you. I’m talking about his appalling dialogue, terrible sense of pace to a story, his big ideas that just fizzle out, and so on. He is a good writer of single characters (such as Ultimate Spidey) with a limited cast. But with “big events” and big casts, he’s awful. He just isn’t cut out for that. It’s like getting Woody Allen to write a STAR WARS movie– lots of angst and people having awkward conversations, but not much in the way of compelling action and adventure.

  5. Shag Says:

    Van – Thanks for the comments and thanks for your thoughts. I enjoy the Avengers right now. Every issue goes to the top of my pile. I actually enjoy some of Bendis’ dialogue, his plot twists, and the unexpected. I’ve heard enough people complain about his work to understand what they don’t like. For whatever reasons, I don’t have those same feelings after reading his books.

    Oh well, I guess different strokes…

  6. Van Plexico Says:

    I meant to thank you for mentioning the Avengers site, Shag! Much appreciated. As the movie(s) get closer, we’ll be updating with new features and so forth. And ASSEMBLED! 3 should be out in a few months, I’m hoping.

  7. Kal Says:

    I have been there for all of it too. My favorite time period was anytime they go into space and get between warring armies like the Kree and the Skrull.

    I personally loved when Bendis rebooted the team and FINALLY someone gave the invite to Spidey and Luke Cage. How long did that kid have to wait for some respect by the big guns who he worked with, for, how many years?

    I do think Bendis has gotten stale and Secret Invasion was the biggest letdown in a long long time. We need some fresh blood. He has too much of a stamp on everything even remotely touching the Avengers right now.

    I would like to see the team that was writing the first issues of ‘Gaurdians of the Galaxy’ (recent) get a shot at these characters. They seem to get the ‘BIG IDEA’ concept that the Avengers need with such a large group of characters. Bendis thinks to small and everyone basically agrees with each other about every issue. Even ‘Civil War’ ended with a wimper.

  8. Van Plexico Says:

    Let’s be fair– Spidey could have been an Avenger a lot sooner… IF… he had accepted any of the previous offers they made to him. But he always turned them down. “I’m a loner!”

    I would love to see Abnett and Lanning writing the Avengers. They have written every issue of Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova and are knocking them out of the park. A far cry from their horrible “Force Works” issues back in the Nineties.

  9. Frank Lee Delano Says:

    Shag– I dug this era as well. I think it was my longest run following the title. Early on, the Gatherers stuff was really intriguing, but I bailed before the end. I don’t regret missing The Crossing, either. But yeah, put me down for a nod toward Bob Harass, Steve Epting, brown bomber jackets, Dane Whitman as Sersi’s love slave, and the Vision’s best ever costume.

  10. quiddie Says:

    I first learned of Van Plexico’s website back in 2000 (or 1999?) and fell in love instantly! I went along for the ride despite the server (and URL) changes through the years. The lists (roster changes, corner box headshots, leadership info) were accurate and fun to read!

    While my favorite era was around 235 (which was when I started reading), like you, I also loved the Avengers during their 30th anniversary. I stopped reading when Rage joined the team (I hated him with a passion and only appreciated him in the New Warriors). Thanks to the mysterious covers of 343 and 344 (Swordman’s “return”), I came back. The addition of Crystal and Thunderstrike made me even more excited, and the mystery of Sersi’s madness had me hooked! Natasha’s short but heartfelt speech in 359 (before Astra’s murder) was touching, and 348 (The Vision and Alexander Lipton’s widow) made me cry. I still long for an omnibus/hardcover of 334 -375. I also enjoyed Force Works at that time.

    I liked the new costumes brought about by “The Crossing” and wished that Yellowjacket had the chance to rejoin before she was murdered. Marilla’s death was heartbreaking and 402 was a sad but fitting end to a run I greatly enjoyed.

  11. Van Plexico Says:

    Glad you like the site, quiddie! I apologize for how long it’s been since it’s been updated. I’ve been really busy writing superhero novels (Sentinels) and editing the ASSEMBLED! books. Hope to get it updated and revamped very soon.

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