I was going to continue on the the mid-80s frenzy that I was in, visiting the dawn of the West Coast Avengers, but in looking at the series, I wanted to hit where the series had its greatest impact. The mini-series was not that point, and in the series itself, the high points seemed to coincide with John Byrne's run on the title. Those also tended to run with multi-issue stories, with a couple notable exceptions, and one of those is the introduction of some of the silliest heroes of the 1980s, the Great Lakes Avengers. They keep coming back and at one point in their evolution boasted among their members, Squirrel Girl. This is before everyone's favorite nut-eating, butt-kicking hero was invented, and features some heroes that if not silly, definitely were interesting, to say the least. So with the intro now long enough to wrap past the Reviews of Old Comics logo, let's get started.
It's a TWO-FER! For my first Review of Old Comics for the year, I'm going with two comics my wife gave me this last Christmas. To be honest, I got the comics about a month ago in a special sale at Heroes Aren't To Find, a shop that we've talked about here before. She forbade me from even ripping the tape on the bag and board, and instead wrapped them up and put them under the tree. I read them today, and was reminded of the time John Byrne used a Marvel comic to parody another creator for a wacky set of beliefs. More on that later.
It's Wolverine Month here at Needless Essentials Online, so I'm looking at one of the pivotal books for Wolverine, Uncanny X-Men #133. This issue spotlighted Wolverine in a way that featured him as quite possibly the only X-Man that could have rescued his teammates from a Hellfire Club that had corrupted and turned their most powerful member against them.
With Luke Cage now available on Netflix, I thought it would be nice to look at some of the character's comic book past. Instead of going with one of the issues that everyone refers to in looking at the character's past, such as his first appearance or the time that he to collect payment from Doctor Doom, I went with the first issue that Power Man officially shared with his long time partner, Iron Fist. For two issues, Iron Fist was a guest star, but this was the first time the cover logo changed to reflect a partnership. Legally, the title wouldn't officially change for a few issues thanks to way these things would happen in the 1970s, but this is the issue where the logo changed, making this the first issue of Power Man and Iron Fist.
So with Captain America: Civil War in theaters, I wanted to tie an Avengers review into it. Combine that with the guilt of running four consecutive DC Reviews, and it's time to review an issue of something by Marvel. Fans of the Indy titles should stick around for next time, because I haven't tackled one of those in months. If you have a suggestion, just contact me and I'll see what I can work in.
FANTASTIC FOUR #258 September 1983 With his prominence in Secret Wars, and the endless speculation about how he could be done better in film, Doctor Doom has been on my mind a lot lately. However, for all of my recent disappointment with John Byrne, he was the first writer, for me, that made Doctor Doom a real character instead of a stereotypical comic book villain. It first started in Fantastic Four 247 where he enlisted the Fantastic Four to aid him in overthrowing the ruler of Latveria that they had helped put in place, a ruler that had gone mad and paranoid with power. We saw then that Doctor Doom had room in his heart for the people of his homeland, and only ruled them because he truly wanted what was best for them.
John Byrne is a legend in the comic book industry and has maintained a large fan base, although the limit of his artwork in recent years has been private commissions, with his last published work being a Star Trek photomosaic story for IDW. He has maintained an Internet presence solely on his own forums, Byrne Robotics, where this controversy started. Notice that I haven't included a link there. There's a reason for that at the end of this article.
Over on our Facebook Page, We've been sharing the covers of the original What If? comic series, and among those was What If? #27, which is What If Phoenix had not died? within the comics, we get one story, but another unfolded in Phoenix: The Untold Story. The reason for the change is the role that Dark Phoenix played as a genocidal villain. In feeding her hunger, she consumed the star for the D'Bari causing it to go nova and destroy the planet. Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter recounts that when he saw that scene he asked to see the ending and demanded that it change. Chris Claremont and John Byrne then changed the ending to the one that was published with Jean Grey committing suicide rather than kill billions again.
Being that it’s Batman month here at Needless Essentials, it’s only appropriate that as Comics editor, I have a list of my favorite 5 Batman stories. In the interest of full disclosure, I really don’t like Batman as a character. He’s been spoiled for too long by writers who forget that he’s supposed to be
Sensational She-Hulk #5 September 1989 Sitting on my computer desktop are two pages from an early issue of Sensational She-Hulk #5. I I briefly touched on them in my review for the issue where she joined the Fantastic Four. SYNOPSIS: She-Hulk is relaxing at home on a Saturday morning after a jog around Central Park. She turns on cartoons to find them changing into realistic displays on traditional cartoon violence and interactions. One click actually transports her into a prehistoric jungle where she rescues a young boy from a Tyrannosaur. The little boy relates that his situation is similar to hers and they deduce that they are in a realistic depiction of the prehistoric cartoon "The Stonesteins." She-Hulk still has her remote control so she presses the button to change the channel and the pair find themselves in a sci-fi setting. Observed by a duck-like assistant to the villainous Doctor Bong who is using a device called an "Educational Recalibration Field." Doctor Bong is determined to locate the source of the disruption and begins scanning for She-Hulk.
Fantastic Four #265 April 1984 Sitting on my computer desktop are two pages from an early issue of Sensational She-Hulk. I won't saw which issue they're from, since I plan on making that a review very soon. In the set-up for that review, I figured I should go to the moment that I realized her potential, when she joined the Fantastic Four. SYNOPSIS: The Trapster parachutes onto the roof of the Baxter Building, in an attempt to prove himself by taking out the Fantastic Four on his own. From his point of view we see the Baxter Building layout as he descends through the levels of the Fantastic Four's headquarters, oblivious to the fact that the building's computer defenses are tracking him keeping him from sensitive areas and jamming his paste gun. As he enters the residential level, he realizes that the Fantastic Four aren't home and he's being beaten by an empty building. Spooked by Franklin's caretaker robot, he trips on one of Franklin's toys, barely making his way to the elevator to the lobby, where he's defeated by their android receptionist Roberta, who calls the police to come pick him up.
NAMOR THE SUB MARINER #8 February 1990 Right after High School, I was big into John Byrne. It was a good time to be into John Byrne, too. He had produced Omac for the DC, West Coast Avengers, Sensational She-Hulk, Next Men and of course, Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Of course he didn't do them in that order, but those are the comics that he worked on in the late 1980s and early 1990s that just seemed to be Byrne flexing his artistic muscles. I got rid of a lot of my mainstream comics a long time ago, but just cruising bargain boxes has gotten me replacement copies of a few that I really remember fondly. This particular comics was stashed away in an office paper box, since it's not really among my prized possessions, comic-wise. I have to admit that nostalgia is the main reason that I own this, so a lot of this review will hinge on that perspective. SYNOPSIS: In 1961, German agents, including a scientist stash away a project before the Russians seal them into the city of East Berlin. While escaping the scientist is shot, and the two agents violently get him past the US checkpoint in an effort to get him help.