Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1981 - The Avengers

Avengers #203-214

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.


  1. I bought the complete Avengers DVD (every issue in PDF) a while back and was reading straight through during work. 1981 is actually the exact year that my attention started to waver and it's been a while since I read any issues. I'll get back to it at some point, but it's difficult to slog through more boring runs in anticipation of later, better ones (and by that I mean Stern). I miss Perez!

  2. The frustrating thing about the Pym goes crazy story is that it's more or less permanently tarnished Hank as "the wife-beating superhero", to the extent that later writers that tried to rehabilitate the character have even been accused by some readers of "going soft on domestic abusers" even though the story, when read in full, doesn't really play out like a true addressing of domestic abuse. More of a study of mental illness, really.

  3. I liked the downfal of Yellowjacket, it isn t a spectacular saga, but above average. And a defining one for the character. Let s face it Hank Pym was a stale character, nothing really important happened with him on the late sixties or seventies. Heck i liked Goliath, Black Goliath , and Scott Lang a lot better. And nothing really important was done with the character after this saga. It is Dr. Pym equivalent to the Ironman Alcohol Saga or DD Born Again.

  4. Hank Pym has always been a boring character. There's a reason Ant-Man had to become Giant-Man had to become Goliath had to become Yellowjacket...same reason he lost his slot in Tales to Astonish...NO ONE WANTED TO READ ABOUT THIS LOSER!

  5. Yeah, Pym was tarnished and FINALLY MADE INTERESTING after almost 20 years of being a dull second-stringer. The story was very good, too, and made perfect sense for this guy's effed-up history and obvious mental problems. And his redemption and retirement was a great resolution. They should have left him in retirement. Janet was a much more interesting character without him and especially when Roger Stern wrote her.



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