March 16, 2012

Best Avengers lineups

As The Avengers movie gets closer and closer, Newsarama helps celebrate its release with their "10 Greatest Avengers Lineups of All Time." But, as you might expect, some of their choices are questionable to yours truly, and some are misplaced. Let's begin with the notable omissions:

  • The late Steve Englehart era. Beginning with Avengers #141, an artist named George Pérez came on the scene in what was one of the most memorable Earth' Mightiest runs ever. (Issue #141's cover also made immortality as it was featured on Marvel notebooks and folders in the mid-70s, and reprised in volume 3 #6.) Captain America came back into the fold, and new member (and former X-Man) Beast (in his new blue hairy mode) joined up ... alongside Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and The Vision. These five, along with Patsy Walker -- who would soon become Hellcat -- took on the Squadron Supreme, while soon-to-exit Thor and Moondragon went back in time to find Hawkeye and battle perpetual nemesis Kang. This is arguably Englehart's pinnacle, and after a weak debut, Pérez really hits his stride with simply gorgeous art by issue #147 (one of my fave single issues of Avengers ever).

  • The early Steve Englehart era. Steve took over the title beginning in 1972, and, though it wasn't as memorable (IMO) as his later work, it did include the Avengers-Defenders War, and the debut of Mantis aka the "Celestial Madonna." The lineup was a powerful one, including Thor, Iron Man, Cap, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. Ever think Mantis could knock out Thor? Englehart made it happen -- and made you believe it.

What shouldn't be on Newsarama's list:

  • The West Coast Avengers (#10 on the list). The idea was a good one; however, Marvel never really committed to the title, especially in the art realm as the lame Al Milgrom had early pencil duties. Things got a lot more interesting (in a good way) when John Byrne took over in the late 80s with stories like "Vision Quest" where the Android Avenger was captured by the government and disassembled, and the [re]introduction of the Original Human Torch in issue #50. But the book only lasted barely over 50 issues more.

  • Young Avengers and the New Avengers. Sorry, but the cheesily-conceived former effort to "fill the void" after the original team was busted up earlier last decade just doesn't cut it -- never mind being placed at number 6. Give me a royal break. As for the latter which comes in at #4, Newsarama even admits it: that the inclusion of very popular characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine was basically a money-making scheme. Pure and simple.

Best call by Newsarama: Heroes Return Avengers (volume 3) at #1. After all the initial hype, but then quick disillusionment, of "Heroes Reborn" (volume 2) featuring the talent of Jim Lee and the hype (notice I didn't say "talent") of Rob Liefeld, Marvel had its marquee characters return to its universe proper. Kurt Busiek and George Pérez took over the title and quickly established it as their own ... and one of the best ever. The team was insanely powerful (Thor, Iron Man, Warbird/Ms. Marvel, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and the return of Wonder Man), but more importantly the stories were killer! Busiek immediately morphed the team into medieval versions of themselves, had them battle the Squadron Supreme (in a clear homage to the late Englehart era), and scripted one of the all-time best Ultron yarns ever. Kurt's love and respect for Earth's Mightiest oozed through in each and every issue.

Posted by Hube at March 16, 2012 10:34 AM | TrackBack

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I stopped reading the New Avengers around the time Civil War came out... I think it was the issue where Bendis had Cap make that out-of-character "corporate shills" comment where I stopped reading that... but overall, adding Spidey and Wolverine just a money-making scheme. Busiek's run on the title, IMO, was the last really good run. He definitely was the last writer who actually CARED about the team.

Posted by: Carl at April 22, 2012 05:48 PM