Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Classic Comics - The Avengers #144

Here we wrap up our month-long look back at some classic issues that star the heroes from the biggest movie of the year.

By the 1970s, The Avengers comic book had been written entirely by two writers - Stan Lee and Roy Thomas.

A couple of issues after the 100th issue, Roy turned over the reins to a new and (mostly) unknown writer, Steve Englehart, who would go on to write the comic for about four years - and would become my favorite Avengers writer.

That's because he became a master of weaving existing continuity into something bigger and more cosmic than anything readers had seen before.

But some stories were smaller and more personal - but reflected that same awareness of the Marvel Universe.

This issue from 1976 is a particular favorite, even though it ventures into territory most superhero writers would never consider: Marvel's line of comics for girls.

In the '50s and '60s the company created a number of titles for female fans (though I'm sure some guys read them, too) - comics like Millie the Model and Patsy Walker featured humor and romance (sometimes leaning one way, sometimes the other).

Englehart had used Patsy in his short-lived run on The Beast's solo appearances, and when that comic was canceled, he moved the former member of the X-Men over to The Avengers - and soon, Patsy followed.

This issue recaps her back story and launches her into the most unexpected direction yet, as it let her make the leap from romance comics to superhero status (where she remains to this day)!

And that was just a small part of the story that was part of a crossover / battle with the Squadron Supreme (the JLA, anyone?), the Serpent Crown, the Roxxon Corporation and The Cat / Tigra!

(Oh, and you also get to enjoy the brief "Iron Man has a nose on his mask" period.)

The artwork was by a young George Perez, and I was (and am) a big fan of his work. His pencils here (inked by Mike Esposito) may not be quite as polished as his later work, but the signs of his genius were clearly in view. He brought a fresh energy to the title that meshed perfectly with the sparks Englehart was throwing off.

It was a great time to be an Avengers fan.

Sort of like right now!

Grade: A



Al Bigley said...

ONe of my first AVENGERS issues! LOVE this period!

Al Bigley

Chuck said...

Al, I agree completely! And readers, be sure to check out Al's "Big Glee" blog - the link is over there on the right of the page. I'm a regular customer!