Tag Archives: Frank Giacoia

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Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: An Avengers Retrospective Part 2: Four Against…(Issues #17-35)

The Avengers #17

Guest contributor Eugene Selassie is back with the second part of his retrospective of Marvel‘s The Avengers. He started at the beginning covering the first sixteen issues. He’s back discussing issues #17 to #35!


We continue my biweekly recap of my deep dive, reading every single issue of The Avengers from the beginning. In the second half of the Stan Lee era of the book, we see more of a focus on the personalities and the private concerns of each Avenger. We also notice a shift in the power levels of the villains they face to complement the more grounded roster. The political thriller vibe of some of the arcs, predating The Ultimates by about 35 years, was welcome…but the racial caricatures were not. Several allies and Avengers mainstays debuted around this time. Finally, these issues really hit home how much a different inker can completely change an art style.

The first few issues of the “kooky quartet” era established the dynamics of the team rather quickly:

  • Captain America was now unquestionably the one in charge. Steve Rogers exuded even more confidence in action than in previous Avengers stories, if that’s even possible. Complex team strategy and tactics are now on full display with this roster, which was a treat. On the contrary, Cap’s constant brooding while alone at the mansion sometimes felt a bit off-putting. So did the fact that he took on a mission that could’ve caused an international incident, just to look good for SHIELD recruitment (issue 18). When Steve quit the team at the end of issue 22, it could have led to the end of the Avengers, if not for Kang’s subsequent attack, which brought the team back together. Cap was a bit of a dick at times. It felt justified when he was dishing it back out to Hawkeye. Conversely, demanding that Hank Pym prove he’s the real Giant-Man, even though Hank explained that there have been health concerns and the strain of changing size could kill him, went a bit overboard. Equally perplexing was insulting Hank to snap him out of his funk, but from what I’m discovering, that was a common storytelling device at Marvel during the Silver age.
  • Hawkeye was the wild card of the bunch. The action man archer trying to repent from Tales of Suspense #57 up through Avengers #16 is gone and the cocky Clint Barton that we all know and love is present. I laughed heartily because Clint’s luggage wasn’t even unpacked yet before he started mouthing off to Cap. Around issue 25 is where we start to see Clint at least being self-aware that he’s a jerk and gives Cap too much crap…yet he does nothing to actually correct this. He and Cap bickered like an old married couple.
  • While the Scarlet Witch was written not as ineffectively as Jan was in these early issues, Wanda Maximoff is still treated the way all women were written in that era. She pined for Steve 50% of the time. Also, her being a brunette back then really threw me for a loop. Her powers were not as dangerously unpredictable as they would later be written as.
  • Quicksilver’s personality is the furthest from modern renditions. Pietro Maximoff is not quite a pompous ass yet. The one trait that does carry over to modern times is him being overprotective of his sister, Wanda. His personality, for the most part, is just him shouting “don’t talk to my sister that way!”. One minor facet that I never knew existed was both Maximoffs having a fondness for show business. Pietro, especially, took a liking to daredevils and high wire acts in the circus. In battle, he was quite effective, although he used the “tie people up in cloaks/curtains/blankets shtick as his offense…a lot.

While the team still took on “foes that no single hero could withstand” in several of these stories, there was a noticeable pulling back of the power levels of foes to coincide with the lesser powered roster.

  • The Swordsman appears in issues 19-20. This is where we get our first glimpses into Hawkeye’s past as Swordsman’s protégé and Clint getting pulled into a life of crime due to his mentor’s actions
  • Power Man (Erik Josten) in issues 21-22 makes three times (along with Wonder Man and Swordsman) in less than two years that the “villain pretending to be a hero” shtick was used against the Avengers.
  • The Keeper of the Flame (issue #31) was a change of pace in that we hadn’t seen any sort of cult leader in the book as of yet. Their eternal flame was powered by cobalt. Cobalt is treated like plutonium in this issue in that they treated it like it could destroy the entire planet. The Avengers figured both sides of this ancient conflict over ownership of the flame pose equal danger to the globe, so they snuffed out the flame. This felt like the “ending of Rocky IV” level of tone-deaf in the slightest and “violating the Prime Directive” at the worst.
  • In issue 32, the hate group, known as the Sons of the Serpent, shows up and viciously attacks a random Latinx bystander. One would think that the concept would feel dated…the last few years have proven that, sadly, they’re still relevant.
The Swordsman The Avengers #19

This period also is the starting point for several familiar faces in the annals of Avengers history, to make their appearance. It was good to see Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne again (issues 26-28). Hank now refers to himself as Goliath. A fun fact I never knew is that Wanda designed and created his blue and yellow Goliath costume. Jan seemed much less flighty, but within the span of six issues she was captured and imprisoned three times, then is knocked out cold after falling out of a tree, ugggh. Hank’s size-changing has caused health concerns and at one point, he gets stuck at ten feet tall, with no way to shrink or grow without fatal results. To assist him in research towards a cure, Tony Stark refers him to one of the most brilliant bio-chemists on the planet, Bill Foster, who would one day become Goliath. Foster was attacked just down the block from Pym’s house by the Serpents in issue 32. Pym went into a full-on rage and canceled all experiments so he could make sure the Avengers made the Serpents a top priority. Not saying there’s anything wrong with Pym, more so than any of the other Avengers, taking umbrage with racially motivated hate crimes and wanting to plant his foot up the asses of those responsible, but I was surprised how “woke” he was. To get more intel on the Serpents, Steve reached out to Nick Fury. Having not read anything with the O.G. Fury in almost a decade I realized how much I missed him. This also marked his first appearance in an Avengers comic. Of course a barber shop is a front for a SHIELD base. This felt oddly on point for a 60s spy organization. Unbeknownst to the Serpents, one of their recruitment meetings has been infiltrated by the Black Widow. It would seem that her road to redemption began here. What also began here was an unsavory pattern.

Issue 18 saw the team go toe-to-toe with the mammoth cyborg dictator known as the Commissar…a bad East Asian stereotype. Issues 32 and 33 revealed that the mastermind behind the Sons of the Serpent was actually a Communist General…who was a bad East Asian stereotype. Issues 34 and 35 revealed that Living Laser had hired himself out to those looking to stage a coup in the fake Latin American country of Costa Verde. Guess what, they were bad Mexican stereotypes. I had to facepalm at a lot of this. I’m hoping that there’s not too much more casual racism masked as patriotism in these early years because that will severely hamper my reading experience.

One thing that stood out more than anything was the different inkers that worked with artist Don Heck. In all of my years of reading comics, I’ve never seen an art style change so drastically with the changing of an inker on a book, until now. The legendary Wally Wood brought a level of intricate detail to the layouts yet unseen during Heck’s run. Shifting to John Romita inks was fun as he was a master of highlighting the character’s acting and emotion. Frankie Ray’s inks were not as detailed as Wally Wood’s but still got the point of Heck’s pencils across, which were probably in their purest form here. The style then drastically shifted when Frank Giacoia did the inks, giving the book an almost “romance comic” vibe. All of these craftsmen were highly talented. I just never knew an inker alone could change the look of a comic to this degree.

I’m very excited to get to the next leg of this journey, the Roy Thomas era of the book. It’s here where new members of the team begin coming in fast and furiously. Hope you’ll return for the coming of Hercules, Black Panther and several others. Until next time, AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

ComiXology Delivers 7 New Digital Comics for You Today from Marvel and Harlequin

ComiXology has a mix of new and classic comics for you today in their digital store. Get digital comics from Marvel and Harlequin. Check them all out here or the individual issues below.

Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Vol. 1

Written by Ernie Hart, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber
Art by Dick Ayers, Don Heck, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber
Cover by Richard Isanove, Jack Kirby
Purchase

Collects material from Tales To Astonish (1959) #27 and #35-52.

Burned under the magnifying glass of overwhelming demand, Mighty Marvel has given in to bring you our smallest hero in his first big Masterwork! Scientist Hank Pym invented an amazing growth serum and a cybernetic helmet, making him the Astonishing Ant-Man! Teamed with the winsome Wasp, the tiny twosome battle a sensational array of mini- and maxi-sized menaces from the Scarlet Beetle to the Black Knight! And if that’s not enough to occupy a man of science, he’s also defending the good ol’ U.S. of A.’s secrets from the Commie hordes! But we’ve got more than just miniature mayhem for you, True Believer — you can also look forward to the birth of the biggest Avenger there ever was: Giant-Man!

Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Vol. 1

Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Vol. 2

Written by Al Hartley, Leon Lazarus, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber
Art by Dick Ayers, Carl Burgos, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Bob Powell
Cover by Jack Kirby
Purchase

Collects material from Tales To Astonish #53-69.

Hank Pym and his ladylove, Janet Van Dyne, make their highly requested return to the Marvel Masterworks in the concluding volume of Ant-Man/Giant-Man’s Silver Age adventures! Penned by no less than “The Man” himself, Stan Lee, and illustrated by an unmatched cadre of Bullpen embellishers from “Dazzling” Dick Ayers and “Sturdy” Steve Ditko to Golden Age greats Carl Burgos and Bob Powell, you’ll need high pockets to hold onto the action and adventure that’s in store for you. Giant-Man and the winsome Wasp have the decks stacked against them as they go up against an array of antagonists from the wild and weird Human Top, Porcupine, Colossus and the Wrecker to the Incredible Hulk, Attuma and Spider-Man! Also presenting the debut of the world’s tallest Avenger’s new look and the Wasp’s own solo feature!

Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Vol. 2

Avengers Epic Collection: This Beachhead Earth

Written by Harlan Ellison, Roy Thomas
Art by Neal Adams, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Frank Giacoia, Sam Grainger, Herb Trimpe
Cover by John Buscema
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Collects Avengers (1963) #77-97; Incredible Hulk (1968) #140.

Roy Thomas’ epic run continues with the origin of the Black Panther, the debut of the Lady Liberators, the return of the Squadron Sinister and the all-time classic Kree/Skrull War! Caught in a cosmic crossfire, Earth has become the staging ground for a conflict of star-spanning proportions! Two eternal intergalactic enemies — the merciless Kree and the shape-shifting Skrulls — have gone to war, and our planet is situated on the front lines! Can Earth’s Mightiest Heroes bring about an end to the fighting before humanity becomes a casualty of war? And what good are even a dozen super-powered champions against the vast military machines of two of the greatest empires in the cosmos?

Avengers Epic Collection: This Beachhead Earth

Britannia All At Sea

Written by Betty Neels
Art by Kuremi Hazama
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Head nurse Britannia finds herself strangely attracted to the stone-faced and stoic visiting professor Jake Luitingh van Thien.

Getting a glimpse into his softer side, Britannia takes him up on his offer to visit his hometown in Holland to find love…

Britannia All At Sea

Marvel Adventures Iron Man Vol. 3: Hero By Design

Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Scott Koblish, Graham Nolan
Cover by Francis Tsai
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Collects Marvel Adventures Iron Man #9-12.

The Armored Avenger blasts through the third arc of his solo title in the critically acclaimed, best-selling Marvel Adventures line! Featuring an army of gray Iron Man armor automatons; the Chameleon; the spectacular Spider-Woman; the Living Laser; Canada’s greatest super heroes, Alpha Flight; Kiber the Cruel; and the return of Tony Stark’s missing father!

Marvel Adventures Iron Man Vol. 3: Hero By Design

Marvel Fanfare: Strange Tales

Written by Mike W. Barr, Charlie Boatner, Chris Claremont, Steven Grant, David Anthony Kraft, Bill Mantlo, Roger McKenzie, David Michelinie, Sandy Plunkett, Roger Stern, David Winn
Art by Joe Barney, Dave Cockrum, George Freeman, Michael Golden, Luke McDonnell, Sandy Plunkett, Marshall Rogers, P. Craig Russell, Paul Smith, Charles Vess, Trevor Von Eeden
Cover by Michael Golden
Purchase

Collects Marvel Fanfare #1-7.

One of Marvel’s most unique anthology titles had a strong start with a classic Spider-Man/X-Men team-up saga in the Savage Land, presented here in its entirety, with more than a half-dozen additional tales! Mister Fantastic, alone against Annihilus! Captain America faces a forgotten wartime legacy! The Hulk vs. the circus! Christmas with Daredevil! Deathlok, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Ian McNee of MYSTIC ARCANA fame and more!

Marvel Fanfare: Strange Tales

Marvel Illustrated: The Last Of The Mohicans

Written by Roy Thomas
Art by Steve Kurth, Denis Medri
Cover by John Watson
Purchase

Collects Marvel Illustrated: Last Of The Mohicans #1-6.

The first great hero in American fiction—in the first true American epic! Across the Eastern Wilderness rages the French and Indian War—with only a handful of English and Colonial troops standing in the path of the relentless army of General Montcalm and his fierce Iroquois allies. But arrayed against the invaders are Hawkeye, the fabled frontier scout, and his noble friends Chingachgook and Uncas, the only two survivors of the Mohican tribe. THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is a tale of bravery and barbarism — of heroism amid the horrors of the final great war fought between the British and the French — and their Indian allies — for a land destined one day to seize its freedom in its own hands. James Fenimore Cooper’s famous novel has been adapted with all its legendary excitement intact by award-winning writer Roy Thomas, and artists Steven Kurth and Denis Medri.

Marvel Illustrated: The Last Of The Mohicans

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Review: The Incredible Hulk Epic Collection Vol. 3 The Leader Lives

Hulk Smash… through the late 1960s. The Incredible Hulk Epic Collection Vol. 3 The Leader Lives, takes us through 1967 to 1969 and collects Tales of Astonish #97-101, Incredible Hulk #102-117 and Annual #1, and Not Brand Echh #9.

The comics include the talent of Stan Lee, Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, Bill Everett, Archie Goodwin, Marie Severin, Herb Trimpe, Frank Giacoia, Dan Adkins, George Tuska, Syd Shores, John Severin, John Tartaglione, Tom Sutton, Art Simek, Sam Rosen, Gaspar Saladino, and Irving Watanabe.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores November 13. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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