Friday, January 30, 2015

Paneled Goods: The 80's Avengers

Starting on my stack of comics from this past weekend's CalComicCon, first up were some early 80's adventures with Marvel's The Avengers.  These bad boys hailed from 1982, '83 and an annual from '84.  Boy howdy did they not disappoint.  #224's from October of '82's cover proclaimed it to be "The most offbeat Avengers tale - Ever!" and hoo boy were they not lying.  If there's anything I enjoy, it's a super hero comic book issue focused on some romantic sub-plot.  Remember when Captain America aka Steve Rogers went on a date with Diamondback aka Rachel Leighton? Here, Dr. Hank Pym aka Ant-Man, Yellow Jacket and Goliath has been imprisoned, set up by the maniacal Egg Head to steal Adamantium from the government.  Former wife and current leader of The Avengers Janet Van Dyne aka The Wasp is now one of society's most popular bachelorettes hitting the social scene trying to forget about her bi-polar, abusive husband.  Apparently Avengers walk around in full costume all the time so Janet has no idea Iron Man is actually playboy billionaire inventor Tony Stark underneath and the two begin dating.  Stark doesn't know how to tell Janet that he's actually Iron Man and ya know, friend and partner to her incarcerated husband!  But the two hit the gala scene, play games at the fair, fly to Jamaica (Tony Stark is yoked!) and are all lovey dovey until Captain America tells Stark to stop messing with their bro's wife and if there's nothing wrong with moving on, why hasn't he told Janet his true identity?

Meanwhile, new Ant-Man Scott Lang tries to convince Pym to bust out with him but the good doctor won't have it and make things worse.  Back at Avengers HQ, Thor tells Stark it's OK to be cruel to Pym if he's bringing happiness to Janet.  But when Tony reveals his true identity, The Wasp wants nothing to do with him anymore.  Phew!  Brought to you by Jim Shooter, Alan Zelenetz, Mark Bright, Brett Breeding, janice Chiang, Christie Schelle and Mark Gruenwald.  February of '83's #228 sees Hank Pym on trial with Egghead further complicating things by enlisting villains Tiger Shark, Beetle, Moonstone, The Shocker and Radioactive Man to attack the courthouse and making it look like Pym is one of them.  I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see Tiger Shark hurl a racial slur at the Asian Radioactive Man but I guess we still weren't out of the "Slap a Jap" era that Superman lived in...30 years prior.  Of course the writers are smart enough to ensure that such a remark doesn't go unnoticed and Tiger Shark quickly backs down when Radioactive Man shows off his powers that would f@ck Tiger Shark's racist @$$ up!  Avengers She-Hulk, Hawkeye, Thor, Wasp and Captain America mix it up with the super powered foes but not before they abscond with Pym.  I'm always on the lookout for ads featuring Marvel Heroes like those great Hostess ones where Spider-Man and Cap outsmart crooks by tempting them with Twinkies and other fine treats.  This issue we get Spider-Man foiling some diamond thieves with the Magic Snake Puzzle, a green contraption that unfolds and has 23 trillion possible configurations!  Eh...not as cool as Fruit Pies or a branded backpack from a cheese company. Roger Stern, Al Milgrom, Brett Breeding, Jim Novak, Christie Scheele, Mark Gruenwald and Jim Shooter on the case here.

Lastly was Avengers Annual # 13 from '84 featuring Marvel maestros Steve Ditko & John Bryne on art!  After Captain America stops The Fixer from breaking into a government installation, The Avengers are put on guard patrol as the joint houses many a project Dr. Bruce Banner aka The Incredible Hulk was working on before he went bye-bye in Hulk #300.  Scientific minds Douglas Arthur Cartland, Henry "Hank" Pym, Hank McCoy aka The Beast and Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic are invited down to check out Banner's work.  But the world's foremost genetic engineer, Arnim Zola (and dude with a robot body and giant face on his chest), has other plans as he uses some pink gunk to turn a sample of the Hulk's purple pants into mindless but strong clones that descend on the complex!  While Cap, Thor, Beast, She-Hulk and Wasp battle the army of Hulks, Richards and Pym have been ensnared in Zola's organic blanket of "bio-construct".  The two minds figure a major systemic shock would loosen up the blob so Captain Marvel lays hands on Zola and delivers a bolt of pure electrical force to set them free.  What a crazy issue, just action and weird sh!t all day with plenty of cameos thus making the plus sized Annual worth the $1.00 cover price.  Stern still scripts with Joe Rosen lettering and K. Feduniewicz coloring.

Now on to some Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos!  Awwwooo!

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