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‘The Avengers: Heroes, Icons, Assembled’ (review)

Written by Rich Johnson
Introduction by Mark Waid
Published by Rizzoli Universe

 

Here we go again. At hand we have Avengers: Heroes, Icons, Assembled, the latest awkwardly titled and overpriced Marvel catalog from Rich Johnson and Rizzoli.

The brief Introduction this time out is from the estimable Mark Waid, although it isn’t actually by-lined so unless you’re the type to linger on the Title Page, you might miss that.

Despite its increasingly convoluted history, The Avengers has long-since supplanted The Fantastic Four and X-Men as the flagship Marvel team title so naturally, there’s been a lot of great stories and storylines over the 60 years since it’s been around.

Like the previous volumes in this series, this book manages to actually miss so many of the earliest ones.

Oh, there are some tiny cover and page reprints from the first half-dozen issues by Stan and Jack but then we jump straight into the 2004-2005 “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” miniseries storyline. We then backslide for six pages covering the 1980s title, West Coast Avengers, then straight back to the 2000s with Young Avengers.

Granted, a book such as this could never cover everything worth covering but how the heck can one essentially leave out Roy Thomas when chronicling The Avengers for more than 200 pages?

As much as I enjoyed Cap’s “new team,” it can’t be denied that The Avengers was kind of floundering by 1966 with lackluster villains such as The Keeper of the Flame. Roy took over and quickly brought us Hercules, The Red Guardian, the new Black Knight, and the return of The Sub-Mariner!

Best of all, Roy was joined on a regular basis by John Buscema on the art front!

Goliath not only was cured of being stuck at ten feet but he got his Ant-Man powers back, too. We got the Black Panther, the Vision, the permanent return of Iron Man and Thor, a multi-issue, multi-title X-Men crossover, Ultron, Yellowjacket, the new Goliath, Hank and Jan’s wedding, the Squadron Supreme, The Invaders (even if they didn’t yet know they were The Invaders), Captain Marvel, and some early Barry Windsor-Smith

Most Silver Age fans would likely pick at least an issue or two of that long run as among the best comic books of the 1960s. “Even An Android Can Cry,” “And Time the Rushing River,” “Death Be Not Proud,” maybe?

None of that is even mentioned in the book, mind you, but we do get six pages of images and covers from the influential Kree-Skrull War storyline by Roy and Neal Adams from 1971. Roy’s name even appears on a page of original art. It appears only twice more, in the end of book credits.

The text throughout the volume is fine, but there’s no actual critiquing. It’s all great stuff, we’re told!

There’s quite a bit of lovely George Perez art, though, and, to be honest, some impressive if very, very (and sometimes VERY, very, very!) crowded art from the 1990s to today but the bottom line on this seems the same as before—to promote the more recent Avengers storylines so you, the reader, will want to run to your Local Comic Shop and pick up the trade paperback collections of same.

If that’s your thing, fine.

Just know that Avengers: Heroes, Icons, Assembled is not really a history book, or an art book…it’s another $45 catalog.

 

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