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More fun from the Mighty Marvel Archives!

May 16th, 2012
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A few weeks ago I wrote about the collected editions I’d ben reading of old, classic Marvel Comics story-lines.  Here are some more of the Mighty Marvel collections I’ve been reading lately!

West Coast Avengers: Sins of the Past — Picking up right where the previous West Coast Avengers Premiere Hardcover (which collected West Coast Avengers #1-9, and which I wrote about here), left off, comes this Premiere Hardcover collection of issues #10-16 and a two-part storyline from West Coast Avengers Annual #1 and Avengers Annual #15.  The stories in this collection feel like less of a complete story than those in the first volume, but having enjoyed the first collection I didn’t mind as I just enjoyed reading the next series of adventures.  (And I’m looking forward to the already-announced third volume which will collect the next batch of West Coast Avengers issues.)  I’m not sure why anyone at Marvel feels these issues are significant enough to warrant being collected in these snazzy Premiere Hardcover editions, but I’m enjoying them.  Mr. Englehart continues the blend of soap-opera and super-heroics that characterized the stories in the last collection.  We get some nice resolution to the Master Pandemonium story-line left hanging by the first collection, as well as to Tigra’s struggles with the two aspects of her personality which were introduced in the previous volume.  There’s a weird edge to Tigra’s characterization in these issues that is intriguing.  We see her behave as, well, a bit of a slut in these issues, throwing herself at various different men (even the villain, Graviton!).  It’s interesting to see this willingness to depict the sexual side of one of the characters — a prelude to some of what you see in many comics today, particularly in the Avengers issues written by Brian Michael Bendis — though I can’t help but feel that there’s something a little sexist in depicting this female character in such an unflattering way (especially when she briefly winds up as a chained love-slave to Graviton — I am not making that up).  It’s an interesting tension.

Avengers: The Korvac Saga — Boy I’ve been aware of this famous Avengers story-line for decades, but hadn’t ever read it until now.  It was fun to finally read this famous saga!  I was very pleased that this collection begins by reprinting Thor Annual #6, which features Thor’s time-traveling battle with Korvac the Machine-Man and also featured the 31st century super-hero group The Guardians of the Galaxy.  The story serves as an important prelude to the Korvac Saga that ran through Avengers #167-168 and #170-177, so I was really happy it was included.  Those Avengers issues from 1978 were written by Jim Shooter and David Michelenie (who took over scripting from Mr. Shooter about halfway through the story), pencilled by George Perez and then Dave Wenzel, and inked by Pablo Marcos.  I really like Mr. Marcos’ style, and his inks give the story a decent amount of visual consistency despite the switch in pencillers.  (Though some of these issues are pencilled and/or inked by different artists besides Perez, Wenzel, and Marcos, so there is a bit of a stylistic jumble in this collection.  But as I wrote, Mr. Marcos’ work on many of these issues smooths things over significantly.)  I really loved the first half of this story-line — it was big and cosmic and exciting, and there’s a murder that happened early on that really shocked me — but I felt things petered out towards the end, to the point where I had lost a lot of interest by the time we got to the sort-of-confusing final battle and last-minute switcheroo regarding how we’re intended to view the villain Michael Korvac.  (That ending was a neat idea, but not fleshed out enough to suit me.)  There were also some head-scratching narrative inconsistencies in the story.  The Guardians of the Galaxy are brought into the 20th century early on, but then they seem to be totally forgotten about until the very end.  It’s weird to me that they weren’t more incorporated into the rest of the story — and there were many moments where I found it crazy that the Avengers wouldn’t contact their fellow group of super-heroes to help them out with some of what was going on.  I’m really glad to have finally read this story-line, but I was a bit disappointed by the way it played out in the end.

Daredevil #274-282 — I had written before about my enjoyment of the two Daredevil collections, Typhoid Mary and Lone Stranger, that collected a goodly chunk of Ann Nocenti’s long run on DD.  I’d been hoping that Marvel would release a third volume that would collect Ms. Nocenti’s last year on the title (which wrapped up many of the story-lines left TOTALLY hanging at the end of Lone Stranger).  Sadly, that hasn’t happened  yet, so I decided to just go an buy those original issues on-line.  I had read one of these issues before: the Inferno crossover issue #276, that featured a magnificent John Romita Jr. cover featuring a shadowed Daredevil with Ultron’s head on a stick.  That weird, wonderful issue totally blew my mind as a kid, and I still found it a kicker to read today.  After the stand-along adventures featured in the Lone Stranger collection, I liked that these issues moved to resolve some of the threads left hanging at the end of the Typhoid Mary collection, specifically Daredevil’s conflict with Mephisto.  One of the hallmarks of Ms. Nocenti’s run was the delightful weirdness of seeing Daredevil interact with many non-street-level Marvel characters, and in these issues it is certainly gloriously bizarre to see Daredevil in adventures with the Inhumans, the Silver Surfer, the robotic villain Ultron, and of course visiting Hell and confronting Mephisto.  Some of this works better than others, but it’s all enhanced by JR JR’s glorious artwork.  I adore the style that Mr. Romita Jr. was using on these Daredevil issues, all scratchy lines and detailed noodlings, and it all works perfectly.  His design of Ultron is particularly terrific — it’s my favorite version of that much-used Avengers villain.  (By the way, I also think Ms. Nocenti’s characterization of Ultron as schizophrenic and love-sick is brilliant, and my favorite depiction of the character.)  I have only two complaints about the end of Ms. Nocenti’s run.  First of all, I felt that DD’s adventures in Hell got wrapped up WAY to quickly, with the Silver Surfer used as a deus ex machina. (Since that issue, #282, was Ms. Nocenti’s last issue on the title, I wonder if that quick resolution wasn’t entirely her choice.)  I was also sad that Typhoid Mary never returned to the story.  To this day I am confused by the abrupt way she drops out of the story (at the end of the issues in the Typhoid Mary collection), and I can’t believe there was never a resolution to her love/hate conflict with Daredevil.  Oh well.  Still, these issues represent the end of one of the great Daredevil runs, and they definitely deserve to be reprinted by Marvel in a nice collection one of these days.

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