Thursday, August 22, 2013


Alter Ego #118 [TwoMorrows; $8.95] celebrates the 50th anniversary
of the Avengers.  From my first issue of the title, which had the
Hulk and Sub-Mariner teaming up against Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man
and the Wasp, through the first decade of issues, Avengers was
either my favorite Marvel comic or darn close to it.  The writing
of Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart was as good as it got.
The art and other contributions of Jack Kirby, Don Heck, and other
greats sealed the deal.  Back in the day, I even wrote a series of
articles on the Avengers for Marvelmania Magazine.

Thomas remains my favorite Avengers writer of them all, so I find
it very cool that an issue of his “ever-assembling comics fanzine”
is honoring the team.  Kurt Mitchell’s long look at the inaugural
decade and Will Murray’s exploration of how production problems on
the first issue of Daredevil may have led to its being replaced on
the schedule by Avengers are made all the better by dozens of
amazing artifacts and illustrations.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Alter Ego if there weren’t a whole bunch
of other cool features in the issue.  Ken Quattro writes about E.C.
Stoner, one of the first African-American comic-book artists.  The
always fun Michael T. Gilbert looks at evil twins in western comic
books with guest appearances by Casper the Friendly Ghost.  Bernie
Bubnis, who launched the first comics convention, reminisces about
the 1964 event. A tribute to Fawcett artist and writer Marc Swayze
includes the last comics story Swayze drew.

Least appealing to me was Arlen Schumer’s “art-essay” on the Black
Panther.  Schumer is a Kirby devotee who consistently denies that
anyone other than Kirby ever had anything of import to do with the
creation of the Marvel Universe characters.  His speculations don’t
often have any basis other than his devotion to Kirby and obvious
dislike of Stan Lee.

The whole Lee/Kirby argument strikes me as divisive and useless as
most political arguments.  As much as some commentators may think
they know the whole story, the simple fact of the matter is...they
don’t.  They weren’t in the rooms where characters and stories were
discussed.  They weren’t part of the Lee/Kirby conversations about
the characters and stories.  Editor Thomas rightly casts reasonable
doubt on Schumer’s speculations.

My position? We are all the heroes of our own stories.  Accepting
everything said by either Lee or Kirby as gospel is foolish denial
of human nature.  The truth lies in between.

I have never felt it necessary to denigrate either Lee or Kirby to
praise the other.  Both men enriched my life immeasurably.  Neither
is or was a perfect human being.  I still love them both and always
will.  More than any other two comics creators, they are the reason
I’ve worked in the comics industry for four decades.

Alter Ego remains the best darn magazine about comics in the known
universe.  It is indispensable reading for the serious comics fan.


This week’s edition of “Tony’s Tips” at Tales of Wonder features my
review of writer Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers #1-12.  I’ve recently
read some other Avengers titles as well.

Avengers Assemble is a good example of why I treat each and every
Marvel title as if it takes place in its own universe.  I have no
idea where it fits in with the other Avengers titles.  Its line-up
changes every issue, but includes Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain
Marvel, Captain America, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, the Black Widow and

Issues #11-13 were written by Kelly Sue DeConnick.  The issues are
all quite readable, but the high point has to be the naked walk of
shame which two Avengers must take after losing a bet.  It’s silly,
but it made me smile.

Issues #14 and #15 are Age of Ultron tie-ins, but better than most
of those sad things.  The Black Widow is the star of #14.  Captain
Marvel and Captain Britain are the leads of #15.  Writer Al Ewing
did a decent job here.

Written by Christos Gage, Avengers Assemble Annual #1 represents a
spotlight turn and turning point for the Vision.  It’s yet another
good-but-not-great issue of the title.

Avengers: The Enemy Within #1 seems to be a one-shot, but it has a
“Part One of Five” cover blurb and a closing page blurb directing
readers to the continuation of the story in Avengers Assemble #16.
Crossovers and weird numbering make my head hurt.

The story is written by DeConnick.  Captain Marvel has some sort of
“lesion” growing in her brain which limits her use of her powers.
Since that wasn’t in the other issues of Avengers Assemble I read,
I figure it happened in some other title.  Would it hurt writers to
give readers a leg-up when it comes to vital back story?

I like the concept of a super-hero dealing with what appears to be
a down-to-earth medical issue.  I’m looking forward to seeing what
happens going forward from this development.


Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes seems to be based on the Avengers
animated series that preceded the series that debuted this summer.
Aimed at but not down to younger readers, each of the two issues I read
this week had multiple features.

Issue #11 featured a fun Thor/Hercules reunion by Frank Tieri with
art by Tim Levins and Tom Palmer.  It also had a “Fury Files” on
Hawkeye, a Captain America solo story by Joe Keatinge with art by
Khom Pham and Chris Sotomayor, and a single-page “Mini-Hulks” strip
by Audrey Loeb with art by Dario Brizuela.

Issue #12's lead had the Avengers going up against the Mad Thinker
in a Christos Gage story drawn by Chris Jones and Victor Olazaba.
The “Fury Files” focused on the White Tiger.  Nick Fury appeared in
a solo outing by Cullen Bunn with art by Pham.  Loeb and Brizuela
were back with another “Mini-Hulks” page.

In this title, Marvel makes use of its vast inventory of characters by
utilizing obscure villains and heroes like the Locust and Sleepwalker. 
These were fun comics. 

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. All comments to this bloggy thing of mine must be approved by me before they appear.

    No comments on the Lee/Kirby matter will be approved for the very reasons mentioned in today's bloggy thing.

    I'm not the least bit sorry about that.

  2. Yep, the Lee/Kirby thing is a can o' worms out there in the Blogosphere. I love both — but you're right, Tony, about Roy Thomas' work with The Avengers, particularly (for me) #52, #53, #55, and #56-61 — aided and abetted by John Buscema.

  3. Captain Marvel's health problems are detailed in her eponymous series.