I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.
When I look back at the issues of The Avengers that were released across my first few years as a superhero comic book reader, it’s clear to me that I was a fairly fickle consumer of the adventures of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Maybe more than with any other series I read with any regularity back then, my attention was dependent on a cover that, for whatever weird reason, caught my eye. The Avengers battling some sort of evil disco ball that summoned zombies from the earth? Yes, please! A weirdly ugly rendering of Tigra howling over Molecule Man curled up with what appears to be a stuffed animal version of himself? Ummmm, maybe I’ll use my sixty cents to try out Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man this month. With that being the case, there was no cover better designed to get me to part with my precious pocket change than the one that adorned Avengers #221:
I was a complete sucker for comics that suggested they might be momentous, making the promise of the Avengers experiencing a The-Old-Order-Changeth shift especially enticing. And just look at the possibilities promised on the ballot-like cover. Wolverine! Daredevil! ROM! Freakin’ ROM! How could I not snatch this one up?
As co-plotted by Jim Shooter and David Michelinie (the latter has sole credit for the actual script), the story is remarkably straightforward about the roster maneuvering that needs to take place, with the Avengers flat out deciding that they need to add some new heroes to their ranks. Of course, everyone has an opinion about what qualities are required in the new recruits.
MORE GIRLS! The winsome Wasp has a point. There’s a whole lot of testosterone around that table. (Tony Stark, the man in the iron mask there, agrees with Wasp’s assessment, but it’s sort of gross when he does it.) The various active Avengers go about searching for candidates that suit their preferred criteria, with Janet Van Dyne, then officially the leader of the team, hosts a costumed girls’ get-together in her lavish home.
Bob Hall handles the art on the issue. Providing pencils on The Avengers means drawing several different denizens of the Marvel Universe, but this particular issue takes that to a whole other level. As always, I especially appreciate it when Marvel superheroes get together for casual chats in full costume. Only the ever fashionable Janet Van Dyne thought to use the occasion to show off something else from her bursting closet.
I may mock that general sartorial choice, but there’s good cause for it. In the tumultuous realm of Marvel superheroes, most gatherings of such compatriots are promptly interrupted by some nasty cur trying to make their name in the cutthroat field of extreme villainy. In this instance, the intrusion came from a twerp named Fabian who was really invested in hassling Avengers.
Naturally, he was dispensed in fairly short order. In the process, it became clear that the sensational She-Hulk was proper Avengers material. (Her own title ended that same month, but surely that was simply fortuitous coincidence.) At around the same time, other Avengers were seeking out and securing the services of Hawkeye, the archer who had a long history with the team. Just like that, in a mere twenty-two pages, the Avengers identified holes in their lineup and efficiently filled them in.
Much as I liked this issue at the time, I’m certain I didn’t buy the next one. Must have been the cover.
Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Contest of Champions by Bill Mantlo and John Romita, Jr.
Daredevil by Frank Miller
Marvel Fanfare by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Paul Smith
Marvel Two-in-One by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Fantaco’s “Chronicles” series
Fantastic Four #200 by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard
The Incredible Hulk #142 by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe
Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum
Godzilla by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe
Giant-Size Avengers #3 by Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas and Dave Cockrum
Alpha Flight by John Byrne
Hawkeye by Mark Gruenwald
Avengers by David Michelinie and George Perez
Justice League by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire
The Thing by Dan Slott and Andrea DiVito
Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude
Marvel Premiere by David Kraft and George Perez
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck
Micronauts by Bill Mantlo and Butch Guice
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
What If? by Mike W. Barr, Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito
Thor by Walt Simonson
Eightball by Dan Clowes
Cerebus: Jaka’s Story by Dave Sim and Gerhard
Iron Man #150 by by David Michelinie, John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton
Bone by Jeff Smith
The Man of Steel by John Byrne
Fantastic Four by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz
“Allien and How to Watch It” by John Severin
Fantastic Four Roast by Fred Hembeck and friends
The Amazing Spider-Man #25 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Marvel Two-in-One #7 by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema
The New Mutants by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod
Dark Horse Presents
Bizarre Adventures #27
Marvel Team-Up #48 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema
Metal Men #20 by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru
The Avengers by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
Fantastic Four by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
American Flagg by Howard Chaykin
Marvel and DC Present by Chris Claremont and Walter Simonson
Batman by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #5 by Alan Kupperberg and Pablo Marcos
Web of Spider-Man by Louise Simonson and Greg LaRocque
Super-Villain Team-Up #12 by Bill Mantlo and Bob Hall
What If? #31 by Rich Margopoulos and Bob Budiansky
Fantastic Four by Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis
Magik by Chris Claremont and John Buscema, Sal Buscema, and Ron Frenz
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell
Avengers #202 by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie and George Pérez
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko
Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers by Jack Kirby
What If? #6 by Roy Thomas, Jim Craig, and Rick Hoberg
Iron Man #39 by Gerry Conway and Herb Trimpe
Stig’s Inferno by Ty Templeton