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What we can learn and questions that are raised by early 1970s-comic books!

Greg Hatcher isn't the only Greg around these parts who can wax poetic about olde-tyme comics!  Let us return to that innocent age of yesteryear, when a nascent Greg Burgas was just about to be released onto the world, and Roy Thomas was writing comic books in the Might Marvel Manner!

 

Yes, it's the Kree-Skrull War, now available in trade paperback wherever finer comic books are sold!  This book contains Avengers #89-97 and features the decent artwork of Sal and John Buscema, with the groundbreaking art of Neal Adams sandwiched in between.  Those who don't get the cover need to turn in their Marvel Zombie cards at the door!

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So, what can we learn from comics written 35 years ago?  And what questions are raised by those very comics?  Strap yourself in, because we have many mind-blowing panels to examine and contemplate!  But don't worry - it's good for you!  Your mother would be proud that you're spending so much time ruminating on such momentous topics!

What do we have?

When athletes refer to themselves in the third person, it's annoying.  When comic book villains do it, it's awesome.

The Vision is the ... Master of Hyperbole!  "Destroy all the world"?  Really, Vision?

Why Earthlings always defeat alien races: we have people like Ivan the Terrible, Charles the Great, Catherine the Great, Charles the Bold, Alfred the Great ... the Kree have Ronan the Accuser.  "The Accuser"?  WTF?  Ooooh, that's scary!

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(This is another good example of a bad guy referring to himself in the third person.)

Even the Kree Sentry #459 is a male chauvenist pig!

Is this the first appearance of Carol Danvers?  Greg Hatcher, Lord of the 1970s Comics, we need your assistance!

Does Clint even know what a "toreador" is?

 

Of course, he wears that to Alaska, so it's obvious he's not too bright.

Oh, sure, Jan - like the government would care about sending someone out to study the effects!  They would just drill and wildlife be damned!

(Oh, and where the hell are her tear ducts?)

Jesus, how many times has Hank smacked Jan?  And she keeps coming back for more!

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Clint Barton is a sensitive guy, I'll tell you that much!

Green Bay Packers, 1970: 6 wins, 8 losses.  1971: 4 wins, 8 losses, 2 ties.  Rick needs to pick a different team.  Dallas.  Miami.  Oakland.  Baltimore. All very good teams in 1970-71.  Come on, Rick!

Does Wanda even know Jarvis?  Does he strike anyone as someone who would care about baseball scores?  Anyone?  Oh, and who defeated the Mets?  These things are important!

Someone should count the times Marvel and DC have used this plot device.  Superheroes are bad!  We must limit them somehow!  This time we will accuse them of harboring aliens!

Rick Jones: all about the topical references!  But was Joe Cocker that big a star back then?  He's kind of weird person to pick.  By the way, my daughter's occupational therapist, who is 25, has no idea who Joe Cocker is.  Should I feel old, or just smarter than she?

Nick Fury: politically correct before it was cool!

So it's Roy Thomas' fault, not Bendis'!  And note eerie juxtaposition of the sign and Wanda.  Spooky ...

Ben Grimm = total dick.

Original Avengers = total dicks.

Is Neal Adams the first great modern comic book artist?  Look at Sal Buscema's art in the panel above this one (and all the preceding ones).  It's fine, but nothing great.  The figures look like they could be from the 1960s, 1950s, or even the 1940s.  In issue #93, Adams comes on board, and look at the difference in style.  There's a fluidity to the figures that makes them look much more human and dynamic, and they look like they're actually in motion.  It's astonishing how different it is.  He did the same thing on X-Men.  And although I haven't seen the issue prior to his first on Batman, I bet it's the same thing.  Adams is a great artist anyway, but I wonder if he's far more influential than Kirby in today's comic book universe.

(By the way, in the previous panel, those weren't the real Avengers, but Skrull imposters!  These guys are the real deal.)

Iron Man doesn't seem like a James Taylor kind of guy, does he?  He seems more like a Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin kind of guy.  Taylor is way too much of a pinko for him.

I like when Marvel (and, to a lesser extent, DC) does this - treats its rival as a fictional entity.  They still do it occasionally, but not as often as they used to.  These little touches are why mainstream comics aren't as fun as they used to be.  It's not that there aren't any funny books, but this is The Avengers, a big-time superhero book.  And usually, today big-time superhero books don't have time for fun like this.

Stupid Roy Thomas, dropping tiny hints like this and never following up on it!  When does this get resolved, Avengers-philes?  Not before issue #97, I'll tell you that much!  Claremont did this a lot.  Some he resolved, and others he just let dangle for years ... and years ... and years ...

Ah, the famous scene.  The Vision gets shot down by three cows.  Lesson: never fly over a field with cows in it - they might be Skrulls!

Now, I'm a bit confused.  The first panel is the Vision crashing through the doors of Avengers mansion and, on the next page (not shown), falling down insensate.  Yet when he explains what happened to him, we see him floating into the mansion.  So what happened?  Did anyone get a No-Prize explaining this one? 

 

Hey look!  A footnote!  And it explains something that happened a long time before but that Marvel readers in 1971-72 might not know.  Isn't that handy?  Why don't they have those anymore?

This might be the funniest thing in the whole book.  His ship can fly through the cosmos and withstand the deepest vacuum of space, but freakin' Clint Barton can smash the hull.  Yeah, okay.

And did everyone notice the mouth-spanning drool on the Super-Skrull?  And everyone thought that the Image guys invented that in the early 1990s!

More people need to talk like Thor.  Nobody swears by the girth of Volstagg anymore.

What the hell?  Why does Roy Thomas hate Protestants so much?  That's just weird.  If it was Busiek and it was "Dutch," I could believe it, but that's such a bizarre statement.  He should have said "... or green ... or four-fingered ...?"  How about "... or green ... or vegetarian ...?"

Now that's some purple prose: "Snows melt, which ne'er did thaw in memory of mankind ..."  Hey, Roy - have you ever heard the expression "A picture is worth a thousand words"?

Not only do the Skrull speak perfect English, they are well-versed in archaic insults, as well!

Another good oath.  Exactly what are the Sargassos of Sirius, anyway?

Why are the Skrull men fugly while the Skrull women are, frankly, kind of hot?  What's the deal with that?

Clint Barton: whiner.  Sheesh, shut up already, Clint!

I think we wish everyone, including you, had forgotten that, Tony.

Raise your hand if you knew Iron Man had - sigh - roller skates built into his armor.

Is that an actual Marvel (or other, I suppose) hero?  If Cap just made it up, it's kind of lame.  What the hell does it mean, anyway?  Is he talking about the Captain from Nextwave?

Another dumb panel: the Avengers have seen "titans and living robots -- nether dimensions and sidereal worlds -- and alien races locked in battle for stakes beyond reckoning," and they're impressed by a space station and a space ship?  I doubt it.

Jon brought this panel up in the comments to this post. The Skrull not only know English, they know other Earth languages too, and incorporate them into their schemes!  I just like to imagine Iron Man saying that really stupidly, like Cletus on The Simpsons, with his jaw (such as it is) hanging agape.  Couldn't Thomas have made up some weird Skrull word?

When did Rick Jones become such a girly-man?  Throughout this whole story he's kind of the linchpin of the group, but when confronted by Annihilus he becomes a whimpering baby.  Grow a pair, Rick!

This is the cool panel (drawn by John Buscema) where Rick releases all the "comic book heroes" he read about in his youth.  This is another thing Marvel and DC don't do often enough - treat their own heroes as comic book characters.  Slott is using it to good effect in She-Hulk, but I don't know if anyone else is doing it right now.  The Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League had a thing like this, and the Fantastic Four have been featured in a comic book in the Marvel U. forever.  That's Kevin's favorite character, the Fin, behind the original Human Torch and the Angel (killed by Bendis not so long ago!).  The Fin.  I mean, come on!

I guess that's why Cap never became a writer - check out that metaphor!  I suppose we should all be thankful he didn't say, "This one's limp as Truman Capote's wrist."  That would have been a problem!

This is a cool idea that hasn't really been explored too much since Thomas brought it up here.  In the excellently awesome Uncanny X-Men Annual #11, Claremont brings it up, and I suppose Morrison's run on the title hinted at it, but nobody has really run with it.  I think it would be a really neat idea to introduce back into the Marvel U. and allow it to simmer for years and years until someone had a big storyline about it.  But that's just me.

And so we reach the end of the Kree-Skrull War, with our merry band of Avengers back on Earth, H. Warren Craddock exposed as the fourth Skrull that the FF fought, lo those many years ago, and all's well that ends well.  Except ... well, whiny Goliath is nowhere to be found!  He probably went off to sulk somewhere.  Even at the end of an epic storyline, Thomas had to leave something dangling!  Write for the trade?  Bah!

This is a fun book.  It doesn't really change my mind about not liking the Avengers, but it's entertaining and crazy.  If you're looking for good old-fashioned superhero action, you could do a whole lot worse. 

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