I’ve really been in the mood to read some new Avengers comics recently. Unfortunately, new Avengers comics don’t appeal to me and haven’t for some time. When John Buscema took over from Al Milgrom drawing Roger Stern’s Avengers back in the ‘80s, I was disappointed that Milgrom was moved over to the new West Coast Avengers title, and despite the fact that it was written by Stainless Steve Englehart and inked by Joe Sinnott, , I dropped it a few issues in and didn’t begin reading it regularly until John Byrne took over. Luckily (for me), Marvel has been reprinting the Englehart/Milgrom/Sinnott run in a series of “Premiere Classics” hardcovers: volume #64 reprints issue #1-9, #80 reprints issues #10-16, #86 reprints #17-24, and #96 (which shipped just yesterday) reprints #25-30.

Reading these comics (many for the first time) makes me wonder what my problem was.

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...Just your " Doctor " comment , Jeff , remind me of this:

  Who is that pseudo-Tom Baker Fourth Doctor who is a MU character ???????

  He appeared in 616 stories in the 70s , IIRC , and as recently at least as the Nineties , though perhaps during the part of the Nineties that makes people diss the Nineties , if you know what I mean !!!!!!!!!

  I mean this " pseudo- " version of the Tom baker Doctor who has appeared in marvel Universde stories ( IIRC , at least in the 90s-ish Marvel UK titles , the real , BBC-property , Doctor did meet the FF , anyway , but anyway...) .

I think the character you're after is Professor Gamble.

...Thank you , Luke .

Luke Blanchard said:

I think the character you're after is Professor Gamble.

Not to nitpick but actually Englehart had Oliver and Katar go out drinking to make up because they had been at each other for several years previously. I think it was JLA #146 or 147. It was the issue that Red Tornado returned in the last panel.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ENGLEHART/MILGROM: Englehart occasionally paints with broad stokes in terms of characterization. In the JLA, he set Hawkman and Green Arrow up as antagonists; in WCA, it’s Iron Man and Wonderman. Come to think of it, the Englehart/Milgrom WCA reminds me of the Fox/Sekowsky JLA in many ways. Structurally, both Fox and Englehart wrote strong stories, but not very deep. Artwise, but Sekowsky and Milgrom have blocky, somewhat chunky styles, but both can tell a story with multiple characters and make the action flow.

That's #145, the Count Crystal issue, with the Phantom Stranger. They've gotten drunk together, and Black Canary explains to Shiera that they used to feud until she told them to bury the hatchet, with the result that they've become bosom buddies. Hawkgirl took part in the adventure and joined the JLA in the next issue, when the Red Tornado was also readmitted. (He had been killed, spoiler warning, in a surprisingly off-hand manner in #129.)

I'm glad you knew the answer to Emerkieth's question, Luke, because I didn't have a clue!

And thanks, John, for setting the record straight about Hawkman and Green Arrow's relationship. I had misremembered it, but you've refreshed my memory now.

The Power Man and Iron Fist issue is a lot of fun. It was by Mary Jo Duffy and Kerry Gammill, whose work on the title I have a high regard for.

And Hawkeye plays a key role. I almost wrote what he did but I don't know the spoiler policy!

John Moret said:

The other was the two teams being used as players for games between The Grandmaster and Death. The second half of the story had the heroes going against dead heroes & villains with each chapter having art with a different art team.

Chris Fluit said:

Is this the Quicksilver crossover?  I remember enjoying that one.  But I don't remember the other. 

And Hawkeye plays a key role. I almost wrote what he did but I don't know the spoiler policy!

The rough rule is that if a story has been out for a year on tpb (or video), then it's no longer a spoiler.  You can still throw a spoiler warning in there for the slackers but at that point, people who want to know what happened have had a more than fair chance to read (or watch) the story for themselves.  I know that a few people would like a more stringent policy (I remember a few complaints about spoilers for Citizen Kane and The Usual Suspects) but at a certain point, we have to let people talk. 

I agree with Chris that we have to draw the line somewhere, but seein's I'm reading most of these comics for the first time and I started this discussion, I appriciate your discression, Rich. In any case, I request that you to hold off until the beginning of next week, then feel free to spoil away!

I shall do so, but when you get there, I'll be excited to hear your thoughts on that issue. Maybe my favorite Hawkeye moment of all time.

“ZODIAC ATTACK” (#25-30, Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #16):

Sorry it’s taken me so long to post this reaction. For those of you following this discussion, I hope you find it worth the wait. Let’s start with Steve Englehart’s own assessment of the issues under discussion: “Mockingbird had killed the Phantom Rider, and I totally supported that decision. But her husband, Hawkeye, was an Avenger, and Avengers don't kill. In the end it not only put their marriage on the rocks, it put their team on the rocks. Unique stuff for the Avengers... at a time when Marvel was consciously cutting back on ‘unique,’ a move that would drive out their big-name creators, lead the company to bankruptcy, and drag down the entire industry.” Reading Englehart’s website, I find it interesting to learn which plots, sub-plots and plot elements were his own ideas and which were editorially driven.

EAKO/WHACKO X/O: To be perfectly honest, I have read this two-parter before, but to be equally honest I remember so little of it it was as if I were reading it for the first time this past weekend. The plot (which arises from the Contest of Champions limited series) is fairly straightforward: the east coast and west coast teams are pitted against each other as pawns of the Elders of the Universe the Collector and the Grandmaster. This story is very DC-like in its structure and comprises both what I like most and least about contests of this nature.

First, what I like least: Like Contest of Champions, no member of either team question which side he’s on or which goal he’s fighting for. When the two teams are brought together, they don’t even stop to compare notes but rather immediately start fighting.

What I like best: Each contest has a clear winner and loser (with the Whackos winning overall). Here’s how it breaks down…

Iron Man defeats Captain Marvel
Captain America defeats Mockingbird
Henry Pym defeats the Wasp
Thor defeats Wonder Man
Dr. Druid defeats Tigra
Moon Knight defeats the Black Knight
Hawkeye defeats She-Hulk

For the second half of the crossover, the two Eakos and Whackos team up to fight various deceased characters in the afterlife. Oddly, Bucky Barnes (who would have been operating as the Winter Soldier at this time) and the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn having faked his own death) are included among the dead. These issues debuted new costumes for Hank Pym and Wonder Man. Wonder Man really needed one and his was a vast improvement, but Pym’s pocketed jumpsuit, while functional, was pretty gay. (I apologize; I couldn’t think of a more appropriate description.) The WC annual was by Englehart and Milgrom and read much like an issue of the regular series, but the EC one was a bit of a mish-mash, written by Tom DeFalco but each chapter drawn by a different penciller/inker team. I’m going to let Rich describe his own “favorite Hawkeye moment of all time.”

ABOMINATION: I just recently completed reading every appearance of the Abomination I own in chronological order, but I skipped this one because it’s not “really” the Abomination (i.e., Emil Blonsky); it’s Tyrannus trapped in the Abomination’s body. Still, nice to read this “missing chapter” in my recent reading project. This version was soundly defeated by Wonder Man.

ZODIAC: I don’t have much to say about the main story of this collection, which established the android group as the preeminent version of the criminal cartel.

COMPOSITE AVENGER: The collection ends with a fill-in issue both written as well as drawn by Al Milgrom, a sort of fable, also very DC-like in nature.

This wraps up my overview of the West Coast Avengers currently collected in “Premiere Classics” hardcover format. I do own the rest of Englehart’s run and could finish it out [of these, I’ve read only issues #37 and 39 (the ones featuring Mantis and the Swordsman) before], but I’m keen to read them in HC format. [I’m a little uneasy, however, because Marvel hasn’t solicited any new additions to their “Premiere Classics” line in the last two Previews catalogs.] Besides, I’m eager to move on to something different. Is anyone up for a discussion of the “Heroes for the ‘90s,” the New Warriors?

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