Friday, April 29, 2005

It Came From the Longbox! The Mighty Avengers #241, March 1994


[Photo stolen from this awesome site]

I have way too many neglected comic longboxes secreted throughout my place, unopened for years or even decades. Let's reach inside one, and...

The Avengers was always my favorite comic, at least in the main. It generally featured my favorite Superhero, Captain America, but more than that the group was the analog of DC’s Justice League of America, and featured “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes.”

The traditional core of the group was Cap, Thor, Iron Man and initially the Hulk. Lesser but long-standing members included Ant-Man/Giant-Man (or one of Henry Pym’s zillion other super-hero identities), the Wasp, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, etc. However, almost every hero in the Marvel Universe was an Avenger at some point or other.

However, for much of its run, the Avengers has actually featured a constantly-shifting roster of much more obscure members, presumably character that were marginally popular but not at that time carrying their own book. Sometimes, when I dig out an old issue, I scratch my head at the lame line-ups the group ‘boasted.’ And I was a big Wonder Man fan (at least in his safari jacket days), so I’m not that much of a snob.

For instance, let’s look at random at issue #241, from 1994. The team roster included such immortal luminaries as the second Captain Marvel (aka Photon, who was a black woman with a big afro but otherwise pretty forgettable), the alien Starfox, She-Hulk, and ‘topliners’ the Wasp and Scarlet Witch. Not exactly the stuff of legends there. The issue also guest starred Tigra, who became an inexplicably long-running member of the team (probably because you can't go wrong selling teenaged boys comics featuring a furry catwoman in a bikini), the first Spider-Woman, Dr. Strange, as well as a guy called the Shroud, who frankly I don’t even remember.

As if the line-up wasn’t lame enough, the villain for this issue was Morgan Le Fey. That’s right, that Morgan Le Fey, the sorceress. I never had much affection for mixing magic and superheroes, and this issue doesn’t change my mind much.

Frankly, I found the events so uninvolving I couldn’t actually bring myself to read the comic, which seemed dense in more ways than one. Basically Spider-Woman is in a coma, and Morgan Le Fey is attempting to do something malign to/with her, and Dr. Strange sends the Avengers et al to a poorly realized version of one of Steve Ditko’s wonky magic dimensions. The Avengers fight against incredible odds until blah blah blah.

I can’t really judge the script by Roger Stern, since I didn't want to actually read the book, although that probably says something right there. Moreover, the stiff, old-fashioned artwork by Al Milgrom, Joe Sinnott and Andy Mushinsky is just ugly, extremely clunky and more than a little awkward, especially with the huge cast of characters jamming the pages.

Sorry, I’ll try to find a better comic next time. Assuming anyone wants to read about stuff like that.


At 1:14 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I think it'd be fun to read about stuff like that. Here's hoping the next grab will be more appealing....

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Well, considering my two favorite superheroes were Ghost Rider and Luke Cage...probably not.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

Well, I meant appealing as in, you'd be moved to read the comic, not as in "universally appealing" or like that.

Oh, and if you do talk about Luke Cage, find the "Mr. Fish" issue.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

"No one laughs at Mr. Fish!"

How very wrong he was. Although you have to admire someone who had the gall to set a mean dwarf on a bullet-proof guy who could life a mini-van over his head.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Cullen M. M. Waters said...

As I remember it (and bear in mind this is based on a half remembered Marvel Team Up), the Shroud was sort of like the Green Hornet, in that everyone thought he was a bad guy but in truth he fought on the sides of the angels. Or something. I don't remember much, except the Shroud startled Peter Parker by addressing him as Spider-man, only to reveal that he was blind and couldn't identify Parker.

(This was back in the good ole days, before every third person knew who Spider-man was.)

As for more "It Came From the Longbox!" type essays, I'm all for it.

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to read more comic reviews -- there aren't enough good sites out there.

Personally, though, if I were writing the Avengers, I'd have Captain America reason out the lineup this way.

You've got six slots. One's for Cap, one for a super-powerhouse who can pretty much break anything that he hits, one for someone who can fly, and one for someone with kick-butt ranged attack skills. If you can combine these roles, swell.

But I'd hold one or two slots open for people who are willing, but who have marginal or weaker powers.

That way, you use the Avengers to train them, you get to know them better, you establish relationships.

I mean, you never know when Galactacat will appear, and suddenly Tigra's ability to communicate with felines just might save the know universe.

-- John Nowak

At 12:37 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I hate to use the term "ugly-ass" but that is one ugly-ass comic book cover.

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