Before WCA I'd seen him in the strength line up in the 1982(?) UK Spider Man special and could not wok out who he was. I first saw him in a comic in Marvel Team Up 136, then again in Avengers 253, and then in the Marvel Superheroes issues that reprint 187 & 188. All that was before I read his arsey issues WCA, which are mainly the ones collected in Epic2.
Got through fair bit of Trial of Yellowjacket last night while I was having difficulty sleeping. 212-220 are rough, gonna want to go into that a bit more in a bit more detail at some point. Things pick up with 221 and I've got to the end of 226. Switching to Absolute Vision 1 for Annual 11 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual 16, which are pre 227, before coming back for 227-230, where Stern makes his debut.
The original Human Torch gets resurrected in Avengers West Coast 50. Shortly afterwards, in either Atlantis Attacks or Afts of Vengeance, he's seen fighting alongside Captain America. Fans made a fuss that their reunion wasn't shown and a back up strip was done showing it.
Can anyone remember where that backup strip was published?
Made my way to the end of my Avengers trades, and you can see the wheels coming off post Under Siege. Assault on Olympus and Heavy Metal are passable, but you can tell something isn't quite right during Assault. When Stern jumps ship it really starts to feel wrong. I don't remember thinking that Dr Druid was this much of an egotistical arse the last time I passed this way.
Simonson isn't quite working as a writer. I'm wondering if he's just a poor fit or he too is having trouble with the Grunwald plan that made Stern quit. The story he is managing to tell works much better on it's transfer to FF.
Pushing on towards 300, and that means a temporary switch to actual comics for four issues, which I'm dreading, and an annual, which I recall being REALLY good before Inferno Crossovers brings me back to the iPad. I already have some opinions on what's about to happen, it'll be interesting to see if a reread changes them!
So finished my Avengers reread. Made it all the way from 150 to 200 and only had to read the issues for 203-211 and 294-297 & Annual 17. I don't think Grand Moff Martin or The Doctor have read all the issues involved here, tempted to pass them to Martin whn I see him next for his opinion.
I want to talk about the last 16 issues of that and the annual that goes with them as it's the second time the title hits the rocks in that period - half way through something on the first which is 203-220 something! Really I'm not sure the book ever quite recovers from what happens here and doesn't really fit as it moves into the 90s.
Most of this 16 issue run is traded, either in Heavy Metal or Inferno crossover but as I indicate above there's a small but crucial section in the middle that hasn't. In theory these 16 issues plus 1 annual should be Avengers Epic 19.
The idea here isn't too bad, the Avengers robot villains team up. The problem is that during it The Avengers long term writer Roger Stern bails out: 285 is the last Stern written issue. 286 & 287 are plotted by him with Ralph Macchio scripting, 288-290 Macchio writes. The reasons are well stated: he couldn't do what editor Mark Gruenwald had planned while doing justice to the characters - and by characters we have to assume he principly means Captain Marvel - Monica Rambeau a Stern creation and favourite who gets undermined over the course of the issues and eventually injured and replaced as Avengers leader by Doctor Druid.
There's a sudden reveal towards the end of 287 of who's behind the plot, I'm wondering if that was in Stern's original plan?
291-293 are in the Heavy Metal trade though not strictly part of that story. They focus on Marina, the Sub Marinner's wife, suddenly mutating into a monsterous beast. All well and good, and perfectly reasonable given what had been done before but Marina had been mucked with and turned int a monster three times in Alpha Flight so doing it again feels a bit overkill, especially when she's slain at the end, using the Black Knight's sword which starts a sub plot of him eing taken over by the sword's blood curse. During this Doctor Druid's arrogant arsetry and coveting of the Avengers leadrship increases, seemingly influenced by visions he's having.... which are the start of Nebula/Kang/Ultimate Weapon sub plot dreamed up by new writer Walt Simonson onboard as of 291.
294-297 Captain Marvel is missing at the end of 293 and when found injured is manipulated into stepping down and letting Druid lead, taking the remaing team of controlled Avengers into the future to try to penetrate the Time Bubble. These read a little better than I was expecting them too but nobody is their right self during it. The Kangs stuff is good and Simonson obviously liked the Time Bubble Ultimate Weapon plot because he resurrected it as soon as he got to the FF and you can see that in FF Epics 20 & 21. By the end of 297 Druid is lost and the team breaks up
Annual 17 is the concluding chapter of the Evoloutionary War and involves a temporary team led by Steve Rogers, nearing the end of his time as The Captain. Like this team, it feels Avengery: The Beast, The Falcon, The Hulk, a recovered Hercules, a resurrected Jocosta and the criminal Yellowjacket summoned by the stolen helmet she uses. I very much got the feeling that the Yellowjacket character had a "redeemed villain" potential that didn't get explored again until she was killed off mid 90s! I find bits of this book VERY frustrating though: Hercules has spenmt ages recovering from his Under Siege wounds and as soon as he comes back he gets killed off again! Jocasta has been dead for years, gets resurrected - she's a robot, fine - gets killed off straight away.
298 Is a Jarvis led issue with brief appearance by The Captain, as they confront the effects of the start of the Inferno Crossover which draws in 298-300. This is not a good decision.
299 The Captain goes to Reed and Sue Richards for help and Franklin gets kidnapped by Nanny & Orphan Maker. No idea who's idea it was to make Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman Avengers but that was obviously not going to last as their own title would want them back - they manage ill the end of 3003 and there's a big status quo reset then again in 305. The Forgotten One is introduced this issue as the hero Gilgamesh, a kind of Thor/Hercules KO. In a bigger team of Avengers it might of worked but....
300 .... Thor himself returns, with the imobilsed Black Knight, and teams up with Cap, Gilgamesh and the Richards as they fight Nanny & Orphan Maker, to retrieve Franklin, the demons in New York and a disguised Growing Man. 300 features hardly any recognisable Avengers - just Thor and The Captain - just a brief appearance by a regular Avengers foe - one of the time lost Kangs activating the Growing Man - and makes the mistake of tying what should be a celebratory story for the title into another title's crossover, Inferno. A major Avengers issues becomes a minor part of an X-Men event with two Avengers, two of the FF and a minor Eternal. Thor and Gilgamesh together forms a bad comparison between the two and it's obvious Thor is going to come out on top.
300 is Simonson's last issue. He had plans, as the Marvel Age interview reprinted in Heavy Metal makes clear but it seems the story idea went with him to FF. Have the circumstaces of his departure been gone into? Of the team he forms it proves temporary with Mr Fantastic & Invisible Woman lasting 3 more issues and Gilgamesh 4. John Buscema bails at the same point so you get the feeling that all was not well behind these scenes. Bar some fill in issues Tom Palmer stays, and stays until the titles folds just after 400. His inking/finishes during that period make everything looks the same as t has done for the last few years as comic art is starting to evolve and IMO doesn't help the title.
Up to 300 is what I expect Avengers Epic 19 to be.
Avengers Epic 20 will probably consist of
301-303 Supernova Plotted by editor Mark Gruenwald and scripted by Ralph Macchio
304 U Foes Danny Fingeroth writes
305-310 can't remember much about these issues except that with 305 The Byrne/Paul Ryan run starts.
Annual 18 - part of Atlantis Attacks - ditto, the memory is weak.
311-313 are Acts of Vengeance You might get Avengers West Coast 55 in here to close the story.
314-318 are a story with Spiderman. Byrne writes till 316, plots 317 with scripting by Fabian Nicieza, who writes 318. Byrne's departure here is connected to his leaving West Coast Avengers, same editor, when his Immortus/Scarlett Witch story got the heave ho. Byrne's got a few people's, and editor's, back up over the years but this is the third Avengers writing team to go in relatively quick time. Mark Gruenwald gets promoted around here and it's Howard Mackie's name on the editor's chair but there's a feeling Gruenwald is still pulling the strings.
Avengers Epic 21
319-324 The Crossing Line written by Fabian Nicieza and mostly drawn, rather badly, by Richard Levins. Guesting The Soviet Super Soldiers and Alpha Flight. DIRE! I think I bailed during it.
Annual 19 is part Five of the Terminus Factor, the Avengers annuals crossover that year. It was also in Captain America Annual #9, Iron Man Annual #11, Thor Annual #15 & Avengers West Coast Annual #5. The first three of those are reprinted in full in their respective title but there's space here so I expect to see the whole tale in Epic 21.
325 is a Mark Gruenwald/Richard Levins issue that might have been in the drawer for a bit or was done to match an existing Byrne cover they hadn't used.
326-333 are the Larry Hama/Paul Ryan issues. No memory of these but it's a short run
334 is the first issues in Avengers Epic 22 and the start of the Harras/Andy Kubert/Tom Palmer. There till 366 is collected in Epics and is scary 90s stuff I'm not sure I want to read.
I can't help thinking how different things might have been with a few more years of Stern, who's run - thankfully fully traded - gets better every time I read it and getting shot of Palmer at a point where art styles were changing and he wasn't.
The other really rough patch comes in the wake of issue 200.
David Michelinie had had a stonking run, first with John Byrne and then George Perez. However the plans for 200 had gone to pieces when someone else effectively did the same story and they had to change theirs which ended up doing damage to Ms Marvel which would haunt her and her creator for sometime. Whether this had any influenc on them jumping ship soon after who knows....
201 is a 17 page Michelinie/Perez story padded out with a 8 page back up. From hereon in Avengers is 22 pages.
202 last Michelinie/Perez, features Ultron
203 Michelinie/Carmine Infantino draws Beast & Wonder Man. Has the look of a stock issues.
From here the merry go round starts. It's also, oddly, the issues printed in Spider Man UK!
206 Mantlo/Colan Interestingly in the letters Mantlo says he's writing from 211! Obviously that doesn't happen, presumably because rank was pulled? Andy Turnbull can you remember if this was covered in The Mantlo tribute? SMUK 602/603, so you can see their publication order jumped about a bit. But with a rotating writers chair nobody is making drastic line up changes and it's a good solid line up that has effectively been together since 151!
207 Budiansky & Fingeroth/Colan The Shadow Lord SMUK 614/615
208 Budiansky & Fingeroth/Colan The Beserker SMUK 616/617
209 DeMattis/Kupperberg Resurrection Stone
210 Mantlo/Colan The Weathermen SMUK 618/619
Avengers Annual 10 fits in here, with Claremont attempting to fix the Ms Marvel story. He's evidentally VERY cross about what happens.
211 Shooter/Colan Editor Jim Salicrup SMUK 620/621/622 The BIG change the team issue. Really this is where it goes wrong dumping The Beats, Wonder Man, The Vision & Scarlett Witch and Jocasta, brinhing back Yellowjacket and introducing Tigra to join the remaig Wasp, Thor, Iron Man & Cap. Cap announced the change at the end of the previous issue, and I wonde how much was his decision and how muc is the influence of Moondragon?
212 Shooter/Kupperberg From here on is in the Trial of Yellowjacket trade, except where noted. The Yellowjacket attacks female villain issue, which gets him court martialled in...
213 Shooter/Hall... this issue where he famously slaps the Wasp and attacks the Avengers with a robot. Mixed thoughts, he obviously not in his right mind here, but the damage this does to the character. He's off the team as of this issue.
214 Shooter/Hall Ghost Rider
215 Shooter/Alan Lee Weiss Sivler Surfer/Molecule Man
216 Shooter/Alan Lee Weiss Silver Surfer/Molecule Man Tigra leaves, down to four Avengers.
217 Shooter/Hall Yellowjacket/EggHead
218 Shooter & DeMattis/Perlin Wasp elected leader
219 Shooter/Hall Moondragon/Drax Cap learns Thor & Iron Man's identities
220 Shooter/Hall Moondragon/Drax
Avengers Annual 11 occurs somewhere between 218 and 221 - JM DeMatteis/Al Milgrom - which is at the start of the first Absolute Vision Trade, features the 4 man team with Wasp leading
221 Shooter & Michelinie/Hall Hawkeye rejoins and She Hulk joins the team. Two very very good choices. It's from here things start picking up.
222 Shooter & Steven D. Grant/LaRocque Masters of Evil 1st Mark Gruenwald as editor
223 Michelinie/LaRocque Hawkeye/Ant Man
224 Shooter & Zelenetz/Bright Yellowjacket/Wasp/Tony Stark love triangle, Wasp learns Iron Man's secret identity
225 Grant/LaRocque Black Knight
226 Grant/LaRocque Black Knight
Amazing Spider-Man Annual 16, by Roger Stern and both John Romitas, fits in here. Introduces Monica Rambeau, Captain Marvel and lets her meet the Avengers. Also at the start of the first Absolute Vision Trade.
227 Stern/Sal Buscema The rotating writer merrygoround finally stops as Stern comes aboard. Things feel a it better again from here ...
228 Stern/Milgrom ... and the next issue he finds his regular penciller. I will moan about Milgrom's Inks, but his Pencils seen here and later on West Coast Avengers are just fine.
230 Stern/Milgrom completing Trial of Yellowjacket.
My guesses are - and they're rough ones as this is right in the middle of the gap between Epics 9 The Final Threat (to Avengers 166) and Epic 16 Under Siege (from 264) that this is the end of Epic 11, all of 12 and start of 13.
I refer you to this which I wrote a few years back as to what happens after: