Monday, November 21, 2011

Roger Stern's Avengers: the New York period




(Part 2 continued from yesterday)

Outworlder Starfox, whose racial secrets constitute an upcoming story, is, like rookie Monica a.k.a. Captain Marvel, another such p.o.v. reference, as he has much to learn about Earth! His curiosity about Earth, and a craving for adventure, defines his storytelling engine. He joins Thor and Captain Marvel, with his flight and strength abilities, in a battle at sea with the invasion of Plantman.



I'd be remiss not to address Iron Man leaving the team. Denny O'Neil's writing a Tony Stark who's fallen off the wagon, and Afro-American James Rhodes, his best friend, takes reluctant custody of the role. It's the inspiration for the middle scenes of IRON MAN II, where the public met War Machine.

From AVENGERS #238:


During a cross-over with Byrne’s Fantastic Four, reservist the Vision becomes incapacitated, and his long recovery sets up the major storyline of the next year. That battle, as with many of the period, happens in New York City, centered on FF headquarters, the Baxter Building. His wife, the Scarlet Witch, rejoins the team for a while now, as well. She settles into a role of staying by his side during his comatose state, but she’s jarred out of her habit by a smart leadership decision by the Wasp.



Janet’s been written as flighty, more interested in designing her new look and flirting with members like Thor, and then, put through an emotional wringer over her husband’s insanity and incarceration. Here, in AVENGERS #235, I believe, she makes a choice when selecting mission assignments: Frightful Four leader the Wizard is on the loose, and the team begins making their own choices, which seem logical. But she wants to teach Starfox about routine investigative work that goes with tracking down elusive foes, and Wanda, to challenge herself with something about which her skills and powers can make a difference. So, she abandons the team’s plan to send speedy Captain Marvel on reconnaissance, choosing her instead to guard over the Vision and watch his progress and the monitors. Captain America heads up the squad with She-Hulk and Scarlet, investigating Wizard’s home; as Janet reasons, “if I broke out of jail and was on the run, the first place I’d want to see is HOME!” Sure enough, it’s laden with traps---clever, but not enough to out-smart the Avengers. The Wasp grows as a leader in everyone’s eyes, for comprehending the people in her command as well as the situation.




One notable exception to the Big Apple-centrism involves the city’s most famous super-hero, the ever-controversial Spider-Man, and his decision to try out as an Avenger, having walked away from an invitation earlier (for reasons found in ASM Annual #3, 1966!). He joins them when Project Pegasus, a lock-down for super criminals located in Colorado, is over-run by Lava Men. He both helps and hinders the cause, with quick thinking, dense thinking, and an over-all lack of trained team work. Nonetheless, he’s handy when the subject’s averting a core shutdown---and he’s a good hand against the escapees Moonstone, the Rhino, Electro and Blackout in AVENGERS #237.


The other exception ends the period reviewed here: the mystery of Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman. Ex-member Tigra calls the team out to the West Coast to her hospital bed, and the Wasp makes another mature decision when she brings in ex-hubbie Hank to consult---opening the door to a cordial relationship based now on the friends they could’ve been…


Still, you can’t get more New York City than Late Night With David Letterman, and during a wild event dubbed Assistant Editor’s Month, a gaggle of Avengers, including showbiz expatriate Wonder Man and his jovial friend the Beast make an appearance on the show…and a talk show comedian is all that stands between the fallen Avengers and the wrath of …Fabian Stankowitz.
(Yeah, it could've been funnier, but at least it happened!)
See you next time!
(continues after the break)

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From SuperMegaMonkey's excellent blog:

The Jim Shooter era continues to bloom, with the overall quality of the line remaining high as well the beginning of a number of well regarded runs, including Roger Stern's Avengers, John Byrne's Alpha Flight, and Walt Simonson's Thor. Kurt Busiek also begins a run on Power Man & Iron Fist. I believe it's his first work at Marvel. Alan Moore's only work at Marvel is published this year as well from the Marvel UK office.

Unfortunately, Bruce Jones' excellent Ka-Zar the Savage run comes to a conclusion this year.

This year also introduces the mini-series format at Marvel. Contest of Champions, Wolverine, Cloak & Dagger, Hawkeye, and Magik are all released this year, as well as the alternate-future Hercules series. (Due to the timing required in putting out the mini-series format, these issues don't necessarily occur in my 1983 category: Contest of Champions took place in 1982 and Magik won't take place until 1984).

The lettercol in the February issue of the Avengers announces the Al Milgrom will be giving up all of his editorial duties except for Marvel Fanfare to devote time to penciling.

Lots of changes to the editorial staff. The full list is printed in the July Bullpen (prior to Milgrom's leaving).

The August Bullpen Bulletin announces that a new incentive plan has been introduced for their creators, resulting in a pay increase. It also actively solicits submissions for people wanting to break into the business and get jobs at Marvel, which is quite a difference from today, where Marvel no longer accepts submissions at all.

Marvel begins publishing the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, which is a 12 issue (and will be extended to 15 issue) reference series that seeks to quantify the powers, abilities, and other stats of every member of the Marvel Universe. Very impressive, and very geeky. It very much feeds into the fanboy impulse, both taking advantage of it and encouraging it.

Notable happenings:

Johnny Blaze is freed of the curse of the Ghost Rider.
Thor's Donald Blake identity is removed.
Tony Starks succumbs to alcoholism again, and James Rhodes becomes Iron Man.
Introduction of the Morlocks
The founding members of the Defenders are all forced off the team.
Dr. Strange destroys all vampires on Earth.
The Fantastic Four have an extended romp in the Negative Zone, come back with new costumes, engage in a still-rare crossover with the Avengers, and then participate in the Trial of Galactus.
Storm undergoes a personality change complete with new wardrobe and hairstyle.
Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor are married, as are Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil.
In ROM, we're introduced to the female Dire Wraiths, who have a much better visual design than the males.
Mostly supporting characters introduced this year: William Stryker, Madelyne Pryor, Callisto, Sunder, Masque, Psylocke, Meggan, U.S. Archer, Selene, Magma, Beta Ray Bill, Valerie Cooper, Raymond Sikorsky, Hobgoblin


Stern AVENGERS: NY period (227-241)


Expansion (242- 254)

Savage Land/ Space/ Secret Wars II (255-261; 265, 266)

Buscema/ Palmer Art: Superhero/ Siege (Kang, Masters of Evil, Olympus)


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