Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Classics - Avengers #21

   When you think of Marvel's earliest days, you tend to think of two artists - Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

   Both enormously talented, they are justly hailed as key founders of the Marvel Universe.

   But there are other artists who also deserve credit, because they also helped build Marvel's reputation by turning in terrific professional work that was often just as good as the more famous members of the bullpen.

   Two of those giants worked on this issue of The Avengers, which was published in 1965.

   One is Don Heck, who penciled this issue. He had a wonderful illustrative style, depicting handsome men and beautiful women (he was the first "good girl" artist in Marvel's Silver Age), with strong, creative layouts and powerful action sequences.

   The only thing he usually lacked was the right inker. That wasn't a problem with this issue, as he worked with one of the best in the business - the legendary Wally Wood, an artist who had a terrific impact on Marvel's early years, despite only working for the company for a relatively short time.

   Wood tended to overpower his pencilers so the result looked like pure Wood - but that doesn't happen here, as Heck's smooth linework and character designs shine through.

   The issue is a good one, as the Enchantress duplicated the process Baron Zemo invented to create  Wonder Man and cooked up her own super-strong sidekick - Power Man.

   The villains frame the Avengers (which consisted of Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch) and threaten to end the team forever.

   It's a fun and effective story by Stan Lee, as the heroes face a mysterious foe and find the city turning against them as they try to survive an attack by a much more powerful opponent.

   It's true that Lee and Kirby got the Avengers off to a terrific start, but it was Heck who worked with Lee (and Roy Thomas) to continue the series, taking it to even greater heights.

   So when you're putting Marvel's artists on pedestals, save some room for Heck and Wood. They earned their spot and they deserve the respect of the fans. If anyone says otherwise - show them this issue.

Grade: A




Anonymous said...

Heck and Wood teamed up for only a short time, but those were indeed stunning collaborations, epitomizing the very best of the Marvel Age of Comics at that time. Thanks, Chuck, for shining a spotlight on their work.

Sam Kujava

Anonymous said...

Don Heck was a wonderful artist/craftsman and friend. I'm stoked to see that so much of his incredible work is collected in volumes of Marvel trade paperbacks and hardcovers. I'm happy to see scenes from his Iron Man work on the silver screen. I'm only sad that Don isn't around to see and prosper from it. Thanks for the Don Heck write-up, Chuck.

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch