Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More Misc. Avengers Graded

[Continued from October]
Avengers #179 (Jan. 1979). “Slowly Slays the Stinger.” Grade: C+. When your best feature is a stunning cover (by Keith Pollard, who never did enough work in comics), you know you’re in trouble. Fill-in writer (and then-newbie) Tom DeFalco thinks the best way to deal with a large roster of heroes with disparate power levels is to split them up on simultaneous challenges. And maybe he’s right. But the Stinger is so generic a villain he’ll put you to sleep before you even get to the mildly original Bloodhawk for the tougher Avengers.
Avengers #183 (May 1979). “The Redoubtable Return of Crusher Creel!” Grade: A. The start of a trend that the writer, artist, and editor of this issue would continue into the ‘80s, of repackaging old villains with nostalgia value as sympathetic characters.
Avengers #184 (June 1979). “Death on the Hudson !” Grade: A. The art is surprisingly unhurt by multiple inkers. Only four Avengers have a chance to shine and the others just stand around and watch, but the treatment of the Absorbing Man is so…absorbing, that much can be forgiven.
Avengers #185 (July 1979). “The Yesterday Quest!” Grade: A+. Byrne and Green’s artwork is fantastic, but even better is this stellar epic, tight despite sprawling over three issues, that ties up nearly every loose end in Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s origin.
Avengers #186 (Aug. 1979). “Nights of Wundergore!” Grade: A+. Cap going over Gyrich’s head to the President is a classic, but the star is Wanda, who should not have had to wait four years for a series outside the Avengers after this.
Avengers #187 (Sept. 1979). “The Call of the Mountain Thing!” Grade: A+. A great wrap-up to a near-perfect three-part epic, marred solely by the lame title.
Avengers #188 (Oct. 1979). “Elementary, Dear Avengers.” Grade: A++. Another Bill Mantlo one-shot masterpiece. The debate between Avengers about helping the Soviets is perfect, the living elements are an original, creative threat, and we even get a peek at the Inhumans. Has a pregnancy (Crystal’s) ever been revealed by a fill-in writer before?
Avengers #189 (Nov. 1979). “Wings and Arrows!” Grade: A+. Maybe the best solo Hawkeye fight to this point. And it still took years before he got his own series? Everything works perfectly, all the characters are so believable, the continuity with other titles is tight, and the Beast gets such great lines!
Avengers #190 (Dec. 1979). “Heart of Stone.” Grade: A+. The greatness did not want to end! Gyrich vs. the Avengers in court! Surprise villain! Another cliffhanger ending!
Avengers #191 (Jan. 1980). “Back to the Stone Age!” Grade: A+. The Avengers acting like a team, the Falcon finally getting his chance to shine, and, sadly, my last issue of Byrne and Green working together on art. What a team that was! This is the two-parter bringing back a classic Thor foe that the Absorbing Man two-parter tried to be.
Avengers #194 (Apr. 1980). “Interlude.” Grade: A+. I missed a few issues, but David Michelinie still delivers. Moments like Capt. America waxing his shield and Ms. Marvel opening the jar of Turtle Wax for him are moments that mark a great writer. George Perez, along with the tightest inker ever, Joe Rubenstein, is not too bad after the magic of Byrne and Green, though Perez had designed one of the worst Wasp costumes ever for this issue.
Avengers #195 (May 1980). “Assault on a Mind Cage!” Grade: A+. The inking is so good, Perez has never looked better. Yellowjacket, Wasp, and even the second Ant-Man all shine while the other heroes have to wait. Taskmaster and the Solomon Institute (where the henchmen were trained the heroes have been fighting all these years) is a brilliant innovation that adds much to the Marvel universe. The biggest disappointment – weapons called “janglers”?

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