Tuesday, November 30, 2010
1981 - The Avengers
1981 was a rather forgettable year for the Mighty Avengers as the title struggled to find any direction amid the shuffling of creative teams.
David Michelinie, who had served as writer for almost two years, and fan-favorite George Perez left the title as of #203 and #202 respectively. For the remainder of the year, six writers and five artists would work on the title, with none of them really getting an opportunity for any lengthy runs, except for Gene Colan. Issues #204 and #205 featured the Avengers taking on the Golden Age villain, Yellow Claw.
Issues #207-208 were disappointing fill-ins that pitted the Avengers against a cliche villain, the Shadow Lord, and featured Bob Budiansky and Danny Fingeroth as writers. Issue #209 marks a changing point in the Beast's life that would see him leave the Avengers and eventually join the Defenders (this issue was written by Defenders writer J.M. DeMatteis). Issue #210 had the Avengers battle The Weathermen. There aren’t enough sighs to sum up that story.
However, the silver lining in this brooding cloud is Colan’s art which really shines despite the title’s inconsistency.
Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter decided to personally step in and assume the permanent writing chores for issue #211. Issue #211 stands out as the best of the year and features a line-up change, which limits the team to six members. Yellowjacket is reintroduced and Tigra is added back to the line-up. The new roster is Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Tigra, Yellowjacket, and Wasp.
During his first mission upon returning to the lineup in issue #212, Yellowjacket maliciously harms the antagonist who had already surrendered. The following issue had Yellowjacket court marshaled, but he then conceives of a ludicrous plan to restore his standing as an Avenger. The plan, of course, backfires and Pym is booted off the team. Issue #213 featured Hank Pym at the height of his depression and madness and he vents his anger on the Wasp, striking her.
I never liked this storyline and always felt that Hank Pym was one of those heroes that writers always picked on. It really wasn’t until Englehart and Byrne in the West Coast Avengers, where Hank Pym really began to rise to his potential.
Issue #214 finished up the year (thankfully) and has the Avengers go after the Ghost Rider. It’s a pretty silly battle that has most of the Avengers heavyweights (Cap, Thor, Iron Man) needed to take him down.