Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This quasi-week: Chris Claremont. Today’s page is from Avengers Annual #10, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated 1981. Enjoy!
Oh, Chris Claremont. Claremont tied with Mr. Warren Ellis for second-most votes in my readers’ poll, and when I saw the results, I immediately started agonizing about which tack I would take with him. I thought about doing all Uncanny X-Men issues from different eras. That would have been keen. I thought about doing absolutely NO Uncanny X-Men issues, because that would have been fun too. In the end, I only used one Uncanny X-Men issue, and if you guess which one it is, I will pay you one shiny dollar.* I couldn’t stay completely away from Claremont’s mutant comics – the dude has written a SHITLOAD of mutant comics, yo – but I tried to do some of his different work, too. This page, for instance, appears to come from a comic about the Avengers, but it’s Claremont, so it’s really about … mutants! Damn, sir!
* Note: You won’t get a dollar.
So let’s check out this page. Is San Francisco really “the premier metropolis of the West Coast”? Who cares – it’s Claremontian hyperbole! Claremont goes on to explain what the Golden Gate Bridge is and how it attracts suicides, which helps him point out that “occasionally … someone gets pushed.” This takes us right to the beginning of the story proper, as Spider-Woman rescues a woman just before she hits the water after falling off the bridge. Was she pushed? Claremont certainly implies that, and on the next page, Spider-Woman (with seemingly no evidence) confirms it. Claremont might be a bit wordy, but he leads us into the story nicely. I assume he came up with the title of the story, too, which also points to something sinister.
Michael Golden uses the tried-and-true “zoom in” technique, beginning with an establishing shot of San Francisco and then the bridge, with the woman (it’s Carol Danvers, by the way) tiny against its mass. Golden gives us a sense of how far Carol falls before he gives us the action shot in Panel 3, with Spider-Woman snagging Carol just before she hits the water. It’s a nice drawing – Golden is fine artist – as we see the strain in Jessica Drew’s hands as she tries to hold onto Carol, her right knee wedged against Carol’s hip, and Carol’s doll-like form limp in Jessica’s arms. Golden even shows that Carol has lost a shoe on the way down. Of course, Spider-Woman’s arc of ascent points the way toward the second page. As we’ve seen so often this year, Spider-Woman’s yellow in her costume contrasts nicely with the deep blue of the water, implying a golden savior from darkness. Coloring can be the most subtle part of a comic, and while Golden didn’t invent Spider-Woman’s costume, he makes sure we see as much of its yellow as he can get away with.
This issue introduced Rogue to the comics world, of course, which might be why Claremont was tasked to write it, but Carol was also an Avenger, which is why this is an Avengers comic. Next time, we’ll see more mutants in a comic that’s not Uncanny X-Men. But it’s another awesome comic by Claremont. When that dude was on, he could write a comic book, couldn’t he? He shows up occasionally in the archives, so if you want to see some of his stuff and don’t want to wait for the entire week, give them a look!