Friday, April 22, 2011

The Glory Days Of The Avengers: Nights of Wundagore

In the spring of 1979, I had just turned 12 and I was very happy.

I was living in Louisiana at the time, right outside of New Orleans, and while I was a fat kid, not many of the other kids in my 6th grade class picked on me. There were a few toughies in my Pearl River school but they were in the other classes.

I had been reading a lot of non-superhero comics (the Star Wars comic that Marvel was cranking out; Marvel's Godzilla title was just about over at that time; and Marvel's The Micronauts was surprisingly strong in its first year) and for some reason gravitated back to The Avengers.

I always liked team books and I was probably still reading The Defenders at this time.

The George Perez cover art to issue 181 of The Avengers caught my eye, as did the interior art from John Byrne -- especially that first page that used a photo of Errol Flynn from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) -- never mind that that film was in color and not in black-and-white like the photo!

The idea of The Beast and Wonder Man taking in an Errol Flynn matinee was an infectious one for a 12-year-old movie junkie like me.

Issue 181 started off a near-great six-month series in the title. After the government orders the team to thin the ranks in issue 181, there's a bit of standard action in the next few issues until we get to the mystery of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.

Ironically, I never read the final issue (187) in the storyline so issue 186 with that John Byrne version of a very busty Scarlet Witch on the cover was the last one I read for a few months. I remember I got that issue during the summer of 1979 when I was visiting the D.C. area to see my grandparents.

Around this time, in the next few years, John Byrne totally dominated Marvel's best titles, illustrating The Fantastic Four and The Uncanny X-Men. The guy kept working but his artwork seemed less exciting as the years wore on and, by 1982, even this novice comics junkie was getting sick of him.

As for George Perez, he went to rival publisher DC soon after this where he worked on The New Teen Titans, an X-Men clone but a good one. That ended up being the first DC title I would buy since I was a small child.

When I got back into comics in 2000, I was thrilled to see that Perez had been working on The Avengers again, his art at once more mature and still familiar.

You can read this 6 issue storyline in the Nights of Wundagore paperback.