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Friday, 19 August 2016

Avengers or Justice League of America -is it really right that I MUST like one or the other?

 That may strike you as an odd title.  You don't get many of those on CBO, right?  But after I posted this item a while back I heard from two people, not on CBO but on my Yahoo group.

I had to ask just what they meant because, I was a little confused.  However, I discovered that what confused my two group members was that I had enjoyed The Avengers, but everyone knows I was a Marvelite from the age of 6 or 7.  But I also liked the  JLA?

I loved the Mike Sekowsky art on the early JLAs. In fact, never even realised until he did work for Atlas (Seaboard) Comics in the 1970s, particularly on The Brute, just how much I enjoyed his work. But I recall in the 1980s people getting in my face asking "How the **** can you like his work?" Uh, because I did -and do.

Now, some of these discussions resulted in comments such as "Wait: you love John Byrne's artwork but you also like Sekowsky's??"  Yes. Also, I have always been (see if you can find the old posts) a big Don Heck fan -an artist Roy Thomas treated badly and now says he regrets doing so. Pfft.

I like the art of Salvador Dali and that gets me criticism.

You like what you like and if they brighten up a few hours that's excellent. Yes, I think that the writing on JLA was inferior to the Avengers but I still enjoyed them just like I enjoyed and cherish Archie Comics Mighty Crusaders #4 -"Too Many Super Heroes".

The point is if it's a fun story and great art I really didn't really care if it was Marvel or DC.

And you know, I got Kurt Busiek (writing) and George Perez (art)  JLA/Avengers I almost crapped a biscuit....not literally, though...well.....

So, yes, I can read the stories from both series and see why Marvel was beating DC hands down, but when it comes down to it I am a sad comicker and I love what I love.

Before we get back to the main post here is a video I posted before.  It's cosplay fans paying a tribute to George Perez.

Marvel Essential Avengers and DC Showcase Presents The JLA -which is best?

I think the cover might give it away. Any guesses?

It was 1969. I had walked into a newsagents in Ashley Road, Stokes Croft (Bristol obviously) where I used to spend my meagre pocket money on a packet of Plasticine and/or a comic(s). I was about 11 years old and I saw the cover and that title The Avengers" and in those days, apart from weekly UK reprints in black and white (and only a few pages of each story every issue), getting anything like a regular run of any American comic was near impossible.
I remember rushing home and then sitting there and in a wondrous but confused state. Issue 61 had art by John Buscema and inks by George Klein and story by...Roy Thomas. And what a title: "Some Say The World Will End In Fire...Some Say In Ice!"  Cracking. So WHY was I confused?

For a start the characters on the cover -who was the flying man in blue? Who the heck was the red faced man in green and yellow?? Who was that in the all covering blue outfit? And...wasn't that Hawkeye...and the Black Knight?? But they were villains!!  Well, imagine when I read the comic and found that the flying man in blue was Dr Strange wearing a face mask. Hawkeye and the Black Knight (not the original Black Knight who attacked the Avengers) were heroes now. Okay. The Black Panther...! And, boy, the Vision!!

I doubt that I will ever be able to capture that excitement and sense of wonder with a comic again (I'm too old and jaded now).

And volume 3 of this Essentials title contains that issue and the equally classic first appearance of the Man-Ape.  In fact, this book reproduces issues 47-68 and Annual 2 -"And Time The Rushing River" another classic story. Ignore the negative reviewers on Amazon (who are basically there because they have an audience for their griping views: the first part of this collection is not boring!

This was a dark period for the team. Its core members were Goliath and the wasp, often absent, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and Captain America -another absentee a good deal of the time. The new guys were left to it with in-fighting and much more. As a kid I used to hope the in-fighting would not break up the team (it was good writing and I was young!).

But look at what happened in these issues:the new Black Knight and his origin were presented. Magneto threatens the UN Assembly General while Hercules faces off against Typhon.  Then Thor and Iron Man battle it out and the Avengers face The Collector...and Goliath is able to once more change size (long story).  

Then the Grim Reaper 'kills' the Avengers and Panther is falsely accused..then its the Avengers taking on the X-Men (not the first time but one of the best as even the X-Men were going through a rough patch).  And then...the NEW Masters of Evil attack and capture the Avengers after being betrayed by Jarvis the butler!!!! And Ultron 5 plans on...

Then Captain America persuades the Avengers to use Dr Dooms time machine to go back to World War 2 and the point where Zemo kills Bucky....which leads into the annual and its "Avengers Alternative" time line where they have taken out all other super heroes for the Scarlet Centurion.

And then...Behold The Vision! Yes, Ultron 5s synthezoid assassin attacks the Avengers but then turns against Ultron and we discover....well, a lot. And there is that classic final page that still gets me today: "even an android can cry!"

Next issue and we see the introduction of Yellowjacket!  Followed by Yellowjacket marrying the Wasp!

Can anyone forget when Hawkeye used Goliaths growth formula to rescue the Black Widow? Even more wonderful art from Gene Colan and George Klein.   Then we are introduced to Hawkeye (Clint Barton) crook brother as they face Egg Head.  Then the Swordsman and his part in Hawkeyes origin is revealed!

"The Great Betrayal" sees the Vision controlled by Ultron as part of his masterplan -this three parter saw parts 1 and 2 drawn by Barry Smith and the final part by Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger. This was a three part epic that had me gripped and though I am very "so-so" with Barry Windsor Smiths artwork back then it looked sparkling!

Oh, and then there is the humorous "Avenjerks Assemble!" in which Rascally Roy Thomas travels around to catch up with various, er, "eccentric" Marvel artists.  I loved this back then and I still do.

This is THE period of Avengers history and though I have read through the Essentials series from volume 1-9 so many times this is the volume I keep returning to.

It is a collection I recommend to anyone. It's the classic period.

I expanded a little on the whole Avengers-JLA Essentials/DC Showcase and it's worth going into that again.

I know that it must seem to some people who read this blog -the UKs Number 1 comic blog- that I hate Marvel and DC Comics with a vengeance.

Well, that just goes to show that; a) you are not reading my posts properly, or; b) you have never spoken or talked to me about comics.  And why would you?  I mean, CBO was on Yahoo 360, WordPress and is now on blogger and has been around 14 years?? Jeez, I really need to get out, meet a woman.

And every time the Bristol Comic Expo was publicised I kept saying "If you see me come up and say 'hello' -I don't bite!" And in all of those years how many people did?  Zero. I used to get "Hey -I saw you at the Expo!"  which is like saying "If they had never built Fukishima there would never have been that 'minor' accident!"  Irony and sarcasm...not blending very well together today.

But if you've ever read the interview I did -what?? You have never read it?! But it's an interview with me and I am one of the -the- greatest British comic creators ever (there's a little short-arse reading this now that will start writing to mates "You see? He really has a Christ complex!" A "Christ complex", honestly. Why go for #2 when you could be #1 -a GOD!!!!).  Any how, the interview is here:

You'll see that I never hated Marvel Comics nor DC for that matter, though I was a died-in -the-wool Marvelite from day one and, boy, the arguments with my older brother, Peter, over which company was best -he was, I really am ashamed to say this, a...a..DC fan.

 oh I feel sick. But now that we have things like the DC Showcase Presents (published after realising, as Marvel did YEARS before, that there was money in the idea) and Marvel Essentials weknow which was the best.
During a bout of ill health I read through volumes 1-9 of the Essential Avengers and volumes 1-6 of The Showcase JLA.  Both covering roughly the same periods except DC Comics screwed everyone because they jumped off the black and white collections for the extra cash in three issue, colour hard backs ('thanks you money grabbing morons). 

Now I have been a major fan of the JLA-Justice Society of America cross-overs since I was about 9 years old. I have the various collected colour reprints in paperback and re-read them now-and-again. But the one thing you notice is that DC comics were still treating its fans as semi-dullards.  The stories could be quite simplistic and, oh please forgive me, but the not awe-inspiring writing of Denny O'Neill (insert rasberry blowing sound). 

Seriously, it was preachy -as was a lot of DC writing by the then "young guns" of comics.  Some good stories but when you get to the JLA its got bad.  Pollution is bad -bad-. War is BAD.  Drugs are BAD (yeah, right, and what were a lot of those creators doing at the time at DC and Marvel? I guess that sermon is "Hypocrisy is GOOOOOD, man. Blow.").

At the same time Marvel were doing cosmos spanning stories, anti-heroes, supernatural characters, sci fi and they were not "preaching at the kids" or talking down to them.  And in many ways Marvel had some of the best creators -some pulled over from DC.

So the mystery is why was Marvel kicking DC  Comic ass in sales?  I have no idea (insert sarcastic look here).  OH, EMOTICONS WHEREFORE ART THOU??!!!
Anyway, I still like the old JLA books for all their faults and, after all, those characters in the books were the'real' characters.  Not the heavily bastardised versions of today.  Heroes who put everything on the line and where the risk of death was real -old time comic fans will know which characters I mean.  Sadly, afterCrisis on infinite Earths DC, as well as Marvel Comics, realised there was a lot of money in killing off characters/universes and then re-booting them until the next kill-off.

And a reader will notice how, by the late 1980s, comics at both companies were getting worse.  Don't get me wrong -there were still good books and stories but the boost needed from recruiting British comic creators -and for those of you who do not like this it is still a fact- to revive US comics which were hitting the skids was dying off.

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