Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s Avengers #369.
The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.
Avengers #369 by Bob Harras, Steve Epting, and Jan Duursema is a shitty comic that I wished I hadn’t reread today. I feel no nostalgia for this comic. I didn’t even like it when I was a kid. The idea of the X-Men and Avengers teaming up appealed to me, the foil cover told me it was important, and the execution was utter fucking crap. The idea of discussing why this comic is so bad depresses me, honestly. I can find no redeeming qualities in it. The story centres on characters best left forgotten, the art is rushed, inconsistent, and ugly, and the writing is cliche-ridden, needlessly convoluted, needlessly wordy, and a chore to slog through.
People have remarked that I had a lot of bad comics in my childhood and it’s true. I’ve gone back and read a lot of comics I didn’t enjoy now (and didn’t necessarily enjoy then). I haven’t tallied it up, but it could be even half of the books I’ve read this month. But… so what? Wouldn’t it be weird if I liked all of these books? The point of the exercise was to randomly pick books that, for the most part, were randomly chosen when I was a kid. I bought my comics at convenience stores for the most part, picking up whatever looked interesting in the moment — same when I went to the comic shop. It was random selection determined sometimes by a predetermined idea of what I wanted, but not most of the time. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that I was open to new things, willing to try out a comic because I never had before, because it attracted me in some way… not only that, but it’s good that I read so many bad comics. How else can one develop critical faculties? You need to experience the good and the bad, to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s where my true nostalgia lies: that openness, that willingness to try new things, to be fearless in picking up a random comic with no pre-conceptions… I can’t do that now. I know too much, I’m too set in my ways, I have too many biases and conceptions of what constitutes a quality comic. And that’s fine, but it was nice to revisit those days of freedom and innocence. Maybe not the books from those days really, but what they represent. I would never buy an Avengers #369 today… but I did then and it could have turned out to be a good comic. I was willing to give it a chance to prove itself then. I don’t do that enough now. Few of us do, I think.
It’s been fun. Even today. Maybe we’ll do it again next year.