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Posts made in January 2nd, 2013

AVENGERS #131-132: The Legion of the Unliving

legion of the undead

The Legion of the Unliving was basically the first version of the Legion of Monsters…Way back in 1942, Marvel Mystery Comics featured the Legion of the Dead/Legion of the Undead, which was basically a team of gravediggers who used zombies to protect themselves/fight crime.

The Legion of Monsters came about in 1976, with an entirely different lineup than what we saw in Avengers #131.

I loved these guys.  But then, I also loved their most controversial iteration….

I’m one of the few comics bloggers who speak out in defense of Frankencastle every chance I can.  These are comic books.  If you can’t take risks with the genre, and blow shit up, you’re not doing it right.

Here’s what I said about it last year, on my other site:

I know that the idea of Punisher becoming a monster was ridiculous but Frankencastle is one of the unsung heroes of 2010 in my book.  The fantasy of the story was no more fanciful than the pseudorealistic over-the-top violence of Garth Ennis’ run on the character, which is widely regarded as the best Pun-run of all time.  It’s comic books people.  It’s supposed to be fantastic, fanciful, and unrealistic.  That’s what makes Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D. so cool.  You can’t tell me you can’t accept Frankenpunisher but you can accept a radioactive spider?  I hope superhero books stay super and take risks, like Rick Remender did with Frankencastle.  If anything, he might have stayed at the party too long (the story arc could have been abbreviated by a few issues, and the drawn out Dakken arc didn’t amount to much of anything) but that’s the execution, not the idea.  The idea—to revive the legion of monsters and to make Frank Castle do something other than take pot shots at drug dealers—was fanfrickintastic.  Same thing with Red Hulk, by the way.  The first 7-10 issues of that book were incredible, ridiculous, glorious violence.  It deteriorated as it went on, but again—that’s execution, not concept.  I want more of that.  More super stories, less attempts to make superheroes “real.”  If I want “real” I’ll stare at my dwindling bank account.

Now then, I still need a pic to represent Avengers #132.  It’s at right.

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AVENGERS #129-135: The Celestial Madonna Saga*

greatest horror movies of all time

Widely recognized as one of the top 10 Avengers storylines of all time, This is where Steve Englehart really gets to go nuts.  It begins with Swordsman helping the team fight Kang and ends in Giant Sized Avengers #4 with Vision and Scarlet Witch getting married.

Englehart arrived at Marvel after a stint with DC where, for the Justice League of America, he wrote about a green chick named “Willow” who was described as a human who went into out space to have a child.  So she was a “space mom,” or, put differently, a celestial madonna.

Then he kind of brings her over to The Avengers as “Mantis” and tells the same story.

Neat, huh?  And the Marvel editors had no idea what he was doing.

Overall, this sprawling epic (it also included Giant Sized Avengers #2 and 3) told the origins of Vision, Moondragon and Mantis, and had some of Sal Buscema’s best Avengers art. It spans several time periods, including the World War II Human Torch (who was the predecessor of Vision) and the future (Kang!), and is the kind of “big” story that The Avengers was intended to tell.

But it’s not a just a long history lesson…There’s good battles…

…against lots of cool villains.

Oh, and developments in the life of Scarlet Witch, who finally gets a tutor for the “magic” side of her powers….

That’s right, Agatha Harkness–Franklin Richards’ nanny–teaches Wanda to do what Xavier never could: Master her random hex powers.

You can buy the whole saga in a large trade paperback, and I suggest you do.  I’ll end on this:

*Issues 131-132 are posted on separately

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