Because of high popular demand by one readers we continue with the Top Ten AVENGERS covers from the run by Roger Stern and John Buscema.
I know that it says Top Five in the title but that´s mainly because I wanted this to have a different title than my first post and it feels kind of weird calling this the top ten when we only have five covers left to do.
Now as I said on my last post abut this I didn´t do a ranking because it´s difficult enough to bring this down to a top ten as it is. So keep that in mind as we go along. But before we come to that there are a few things - from the last post and otherwise - I want to address. First off there is good news on the reprint front because Marvel has announced that THE ENTIRE series of SHANG CHI : MASTER OF KUNG FU will be republished in four omnibus hardcovers. The first one is scheduled for June 2016 it will be 696 pages thick and will contain SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION issues 15 to 16, MASTER OF KUNG FU 17 to 37, GIANT SIZE
MASTER OF KUNG FU 1 to 4, GIANT SIZE SPIDER - MAN 2 and material from IRON MAN
Which is a weird coincidence because I was planning on commenting that while we all thought this series could not be reprinted due to copyrights to Sax Rohmer characters issue 29 of MARVEL TWO - IN - ONE was included in volume two of the ESSENTIAL series and that has Shang Chi guest starring and his father Fu Manchu IS even mentioned in the story.
Now that the reprint is announced that is a moot point. I guess I see the news with a crying and a laughing eye - as the germans say - because the most I had hoped for was a few ESSENTIALS or Epic Collections since they included POWER MAN AND IRON FIRST in that line. And while my fanboy heart is jumping for joy because one of the best Marvel series ever finally gets the royal treatment it deserves this is not good news for my purse since this will mean four books which will cost 125 bucks at least. The way prices are at amazon these days it will probably be higher. Which means I might have to buy these from a comic book store at the regular price. Of course this also has a tiny silver lining because if my usual online comic store has it this will mean I can get 12 free comic books with that order. So you see, everything has a negative aspect and a positive aspect.
Another fly in the soup is that because the omnibus books reprint the comics in chronological order it will take until the end of volume two to get to the issues by Mike Zeck which is the part I´m most excited about. Especially since I can´t find any more back issues from that period. But that also means that volumes 3 and 4 will be the best omnibuses ever.
And if you´ve never heard of this series and want to know what this old geezer is so excited about this time read this excellent post from Peter Marinari´s CRUSHING KRISIS that tells you all you need to know about this cult comic or check out the ESSENTIAL MASTER OF KUNG FU tumblr .
Now I really hate to praise Marvel at one moment and to scold them in the next ( okay, I don´t but it sounds good, doesn´t it ? ) but they fumbled the methaphorical ball once again with the FANTASTIC FOUR - INTO THE TIMESTREAM Epic Collection. In my last post about John Buscema´s AVENGERS covers I mentioned that writer Walt Simonson pulled of a difficult thing when he managed to put the prologue of a story in his upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR run into his last issues on the AVENGERS title.
Well guess what ? Into the Timestream IS that story and once again the AVENGERS issues are not included in this trade. I mean I get it that they try to keep the series apart in those Epic Collections and maybe they didn´t want to confuse the readers ( he said with a nervous quiver in his voice more trying to convince himself than anybody else ) but if they can cram four issues of FANTASTIC FOUR VS X - MEN into my FANTASTIC FOUR - ALL IN THE FAMILY trade which don´t have that big an impact on the following issues they can also put a few AVENGERS issues that are a prologue into a trade. So while I may buy more Epic Collections in the future ( no pun intended ) INTO THE TIMESTREAM is very low on my list.
Speaking about older posts you may have noticed that the last celebrity birthday post about mexican telenovela cult siren Aylin " La Culona " Mújica kept appearing and disappearing over the last few days.
That´s because originally it was supposed to be part of my John Buscema Top Ten Avengers covers post but it became so large I decided to give it its own post. But while I did finish the John Buscema post it was much too late and I was way too tired to finish the post with Aylin Mujica. So after I had published it I set the post back to the draft version. The following day I tried again to finish it but because I wanted to include some animated GIFs and because I couldn´t find any on the internet I had to make them myself so I had to put it back into the draft version again. You see, I still have most of the episodes of MARINA on my laptop - one of the few perks of being lazy. But this meant I had to go through all 140 episodes and don´t you know, of course the most important scene I was looking for was in episode 122. This time I managed to make all the necessary GIFs and even put them in the post but I could not finish the video section of the post. But because I was already tired of posting this and setting it back to the draft folder I put it on the blog as is was and finished that part Today.
So if you have been on the blog or if you usually visit my site from Terry Hooper´s COMIC BITS ONLINE blog you may have seen Aylin Mújica´s post disappearing and reappearing but if you have just visited Today you will not have noticed anything special. Man, the last few posts have all been two posts on the same day which is a bit taxing but I think we can agree that where MILF massitas Jamie Lee Curtis and Aylin Mújica ( in her case the M in MILF stands for Mexican ) are concerned all the work is worth it.
I thought that in my last post about this I went too much on a tangent at some point but it seems that my readers want to hear more about the particular issues. And while there is some stuff I want to keep for my upcoming longer posts on John Buscema´s second run on AVENGERS - like the fact that the first american issue I got from this run did NOT have a John Buscema cover at all - I will once again add a few pages and panels from the comics in question as well as some links where you can read on.
So because I have probably lost fifteen percent of my audience already with all this boring administrative stuff let´s start with our first cover.
And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest
heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On
that day, the Avengers were born - to fight the foes no single super
hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered,
changing many times, their glory has never been denied! Heed the call,
then - for now, the Avengers Assemble !
The Avengers have always been about change and like their roster the leader has changed in every new permutation of the team. Those issues are always the best and this cover does a good job of presenting all the possible candidates if you look at it in detail. Up front you have Captain America who has filled that role a few times and who would assume the role again without any question. Since he is also the most confident and self assured members of this team he assumes the leading position.
Right behind him on the right side - from the reader´s point of view - is the trusty Black Knight his sword drawn, showing that he´s ready to take the mantle of leader. He would probably not be the first to nominate himself for that position but if push comes to shove he would also not shirk his responsibility. On the other side we have Monica Rambeau who went by Captain Marvel back then ( probably mainly to keep the copyright for the name back then ) and who went through a whole laundry list of names since then that´s just too long to list here. She was the newest member on the team - well, the newest OFFICIAL member on the team since Doctor Druid was still not an official member at that time - and it looks like she´s hiding with a bit of trepidation behind Cap. Which is reinforced by the box with the bar code in front of her. This may be one of the first times I have seen the bar code box used as a design element on a cover. Nevertheless if you look at Captain Marvel´s face you can see that she doesn´t look in the slightest unsure of herself or intimidated.
She was one of my favorite members of the team and it´s not spoiling too much to say that this issue is a big spotlight on her character and her decision to become one of the most successful leaders of the Avengers.
Now right behind them we have Thor, one of the mightiest Avengers who has been the leader before even if not as often as Captain America. Being the warrior - which is accentuated by him holding his hammer - he is prepared to lead the Avengers into many glorious battles still to come.
Of course the next person on the cover - the sensational She Hulk - might have one or two things to say about that. Jennifer Walters is always a fun character - see her sly smirk on the cover - who is not going to stand for anybody bossing her around not even the mighty god of thunder himself.
Which brings us to the final person on the cover, Doctor Druid. Now some people have said that they don´t understand his purpose on the team.
" So this Doctor Druid dude he´s kind of this bald guy in a robe with mental powers but not the really good ones like Doctor Strange. "
Yeah, that about sums it up nicely. Bald guy in a robe ( sometimes even a fat bald guy as some artists have drawn him with a kind of pot belly ) that works as a psychatrist and goes on talk shows and is basically a second rate Doctor Strange. Which is only natural since he was Stan Lee´s first tryout for that very character. In his first appearance he wasn´t even called Doctor Druid but Doctor Droom but because that sounded too much like the preferred sparring partner of Marvel´s first family his name was changed to Doctor Druid. He first appeared as a monster hunter of all things in AMAZING ADVENTURES 1 in June 1961, drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko. Which makes him older than the Fantastic Four.
Now the first time I saw Doctor Druid I didn´t know any of this. Which was in the pages of THE INCREDIBLE HULK 210 by Len Wein, Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan who became the new regular inker with that very issue.
They went on to do one of my favorite runs on the title which I absolutely love and which would make one hell of an omnibus book. Just think about it : you got Jack of Hearts, you got Bi Beast and the Constrictor, you got April Sommers ( who looks strikingly like german actress Elke Sommer - a coincidence ? ) Jim Wilson and the great magician Kropotkin ( not to be confused with the Tropopkins, the monsters in STEPMONSTER, a movie with Amy Dolenz about which I wrote in this post . By the way, I´m still looking for info on who did the art for that comic and any good scans of it ), you have a band of misfits going up against the Circus of Crime and even Robinson Crusoe ( kind of ), pirates and a whole bunch of monkeys.
If that is not the greatest run on HULK then I don´t know. But that is the topic for my Hulk posts to which I will return now that I have finally bought ESSENTIAL HULK volume 6 which is the best volume ever because you get all these great issues and a few more in one fantastic trade. If you only buy one ESSENTIAL HULK trade, by God, let it be this one. By the way, I still have my french editions of these issues COLOSSES EN FURIE and thanks to the ESSENTIAL book I can now tell you exactly which pages are missing there. Because as usual the french left out some pages. As did the germans. I don´t want to make it seem like only the french cut some pages from their editions of american comics. It also happened in german comics from Hit Comics to Williams even all the way to Condor.
But let´s get back to Doctor Druid with the splash page from HULK 210.
He made his debut in AMAZING ADVENTURES 1 and you can see that he was a tryout character for Doctor Strange because his origin was weird.
While he is a psychiatrist when he returned to the AVENGERS title with issue 276 ( his return ? yes, we´ll talk about his later ) he must be a regular doctor when the story I AM THE FANTASTIC DR. DROOM ! opens because he is there with his colleagues in the City Medical Club where he overhears a conversation about a tibetian lama who requested the aid of a medical doctor from the United States but all the other doctors thinks it´s absurd to travel halfway around the world just to treat one patient or are too busy. So our good doctor decides to go in their stead which has me assuming that at that time he was a regular doctor. Because it makes no sense for Doctor Droom to fly to Tibet if he can only give him some psychiatric help. " Okay, I know you´re dying but how do you feel ? "
Oh, but it gets better. Doctor Droom also flies to Tibet because he has always been fascinated by the ancient powers of the ancestral druids. But wait, weren´t the druids celtic ? Like in Ireland and stuff ? That´s right. But they kept no written records so Doctor Droom began studying the tibetan monks since they DID at least keep oral records and maybe they had passed on the same secrets that the celtic druids had possessed.
Am I the only one who finds this strange ? Oh, I want to know more about the druids but because they did not keep any records why not just study the tibetan monks ? I mean, they are both kind of mystic and foreigners and maybe I can learn a bit of this kung fu stuff while I´m at it. This is like a diehard Marvel guy suddenly reading VALIANT´s X - O MANOWAR instead of IRON MAN because they both have armor. Not that I would be against Marvel readers trying out new books from another company.
So I have to question how dedicated Doctor Droom really is about this whole druid thing when he´s ready to switch to studying tibetan monks.
Which he does at the drop of a hat. He´s all like " they didn´t keep any records anyway so I might as well do something else " and then he just ASSUMES that the tibetan monks had the same knowledge as the celtic druids as all those mystic types are part of the same club anyway. Which is an incredible longshot on his part. And kind of racist but they also up the ante in that regard later on. When our Doctor Droom arrives at the remote temple where the lama lives he is welcomed by the lama´s chief aide who tells him up front that he is not getting paid as the lama has no money. Of course the good doctor is disappointed but since he cannot refuse to treat a sick man he agrees to give him a freebie. Then the aide tells him that he must leave his instruments behind. Oh, and take his shoes off while he´s at it. At this point a simple doctor´s visit turns into something out of a The Shaolin´s Thousand Chambers of Death movie.
To reach his patient he now has to walk barefeet across burning coals and fight a gorlion which is a gorilla / lion hybrid ( I kid you not ) and finally climb onto a balcony using one of these indian ropes you see in movies that is suspended in the air. So when he finally reaches his patient he finds out that it was all a con, that his patient was not dying but merely really old and tired. The lama reveals that he is earth´s protector against evil mystic forces and that everything Doctor Droom did was a test to see if he was a suitable successor. Instead of giving him a piece of his mind about how he bs - ed him Doctor Droom accepts the offer and the lama gives him mystical powers by transforming him - into an asian guy. WTF ?
Even the guys at Marvel must have realized how racist that was because when they reprinted that story in 1976´s WEIRD WONDER TALES the art was changed to give him the look we all have grown accustomed to. And the lama didn´t turn him into an asian but awakened his mystic powers.
And they also changed his name from Doctor Droom to Doctor Druid. As you can see his origin story was very similar to Doctor Strange although they changed enough in Doctor Strange´s origin so that it actually makes sense. Doctor Druid had a few stories in the first six issues of AMAZING ADVENTURES but after the changed reprint in WEIRD WONDER TALES he disappeared into obscurity until he resurfaced in INCREDIBLE HULK 210.
And some people say it would have been better for everyone involved if he had stayed in comic limbo because nothing good came from his return.
We will probably talk about the infamous end to his short career with the Avengers further down the line but let me tell you he´s really been put through the wringer. But right now there´s another mystery to unravel. When he appears in the pages of AVENGERS 276 he goes to help the Avengers because " there is an old debt to be repaid. " Now for the longest time I didn´t know what he was referring to but - once again thanks to the guys from SUPER MEGA MONKEY`S MARVEL CHRONOLOGY - I found out that it goes back to AVENGERS issues 225 and 226 in which the Avengers helped Doctor Druid on a timey wimey adventure that ended up returning the Black Knight from the middle ages to the present day.
Okay, back to AVENGERS 279 which is where this long rant started. Roger Stern brought in Doctor Druid onto the Avengers roster as an all kind of purpose guy who could do whatever the story needed. As a doctor and psychiatrist he could help them out in a medical crisis or treat problems of the mind and his powers were vague enough that he could levitate, hypnotize people or speak with them telepatically. And unlike Doctor Strange he wasn´t so powerful that he could solve every problem with just a spell. Which is one of the reasons why Doctor Strange hasn´t had a long ongoing career like other superheroes. He is most often used as a deux ex machina character who comes in at the last moment and saves the story by doing impossible things like declaring that there is no such things as chaos magic when he just spend a few months mastering it. Writers find it hard to come up with something that makes him work up a sweat.
Back to Doctor Druid, in AVENGERS 279 he plays the role of Doctor Who´s companions which means he is there to give the reader some exposition dialogue and he also provides the comic relief with a practical joke.
Now I was never quite sure if there wasn´t some kind of implied sexual tension between Doctor Druid and She Hulk since this was never pursued.
It certainly looked like that with the way Doctor Druid was often teasing her and vice versa but aside from the obvious hints the story went into other directions. While this scene serves to show readers that Doctor Druid will not be the stuffed shirt character on the team many feared him to become - going with the usual trope of brainy but boring types - and also give John Buscema the chance to draw the, I must say sensational She Hulk in a bikini ( my god, he drew some howt women ! ) you can see a mischievous streak in Doctor Druid that may just hint of his upcoming abuse of power. The Black Knight knows that this is not a good idea.
Now while Doctor Druid is not eligible as a candidate for leadership of the Avengers we already catch him thinking what he could do with such a team. So his thirst for power and his vanity are established early on.
On the cover he is the one who stands all the way in the back because you know he´s not going to become the new team leader unless all the other members are wiped out. You could also say that the sinister look on his face and the way he stands behind the others is a hint about his upcoming evil machinations but I think that´s reading too much into this cover.
Wow, with all this stuff about Doctor Druid we only did one cover. In my first post I managed to do ten John Buscema covers, in my second post I only did five and in my third post I´m down to one. I feel like the guy who is hired to paint the centre strip on the highway and gets called into the boss´ office because on the first day he managed to paint sixteen miles, on his second day he only painted seven miles and on the third day only one mile. When his boss asks him why that is he tells him that every day he got the paint tin farther away. So you may forgive me for ending this topic for Today but there are still four more AVENGERS issues to cover.
As always I have to give props to the many websites that helped me make this post, firstly Doctor Druid´s wikipedia entry , his Marvel wikia page and COMIC BOOK LEGENDS REVEALED 260 which helped straighten out his complicated origin and provided much needed art ( you can see more pages from his first origin and the retold version at the link above ). There are also some posts about Doctor Druid I came along while doing this post which are not very positive. Nobody really likes so it´s no wonder that ARMAGIDEON TIME has him under Nobody´s Favorites : Failed Prototype , KNIGGIT.NET calls him Marvel´s First Failure and the A. V. CLUB goes even so far as to include him in their list of 18+ Avengers you won´t see in a movie . Although I have to say that it is an injustice that they included Thunderstrike, the Black Knight, Stingray and the Great Lakes Avengers in that list. And I´m sure that Terry Hooper will be appalled to see his favorite Avenger Gilgamesh among those rejects.
Since I mentioned Shang Chi in Today´s post and it is Bruce Lee´s birthday here is Carl Douglas with the original KUNG FU FIGHTING.
I thought I had already posted all John Buscema videos but then I came across this one about making the CONAN comics which John Buscema drew for decades. His comics were some of the first US comics I ever read - or flipped through since back then I could not read them - and they will always be the gold standard for me. I´m still looking for a good reprint version of my favorite issues. Dark Horse started publishing a recolored version but while the first issues were mindblowing by volume six or seven the printing was dirty, the colors were mudded and flat.
Speaking about John Buscema´s CONAN our pal Old Groove has posted WHAT IF 13 - What If Conan the Barbarian Walked the Earth Today ? Unlike most comics from that series it is done by the regular art team.
Not much to add to this one but I guess everybody has seen the movie.
One of the movies I´m most excited about for 2016 that is not comic related. CREED already played in most countries but in Germany the release date is January 2016. Just when you thought Sylvester Stallone was all done with Rocky movies. I guess the big success of the last one made them do another one although this is not really a Rocky movie.
Since I was just recently reminded that I´m an old man here´s a video to show you just HOW old I am. This is an episode of AM LAUFENDEM BAND hosted by one of Germany´s biggest Showmeister, Rudi Carell. I watched this as a kid and it was on one of three tv channels which was all we got.
There was DAS ERSTE, the first tv channel that had to adhere to the official educational mandate for the public, DAS ZWEITE DEUTSCHE FERNSEHEN, the second tv channel which was created to outbalance the first tv channel where political news are concerned and lastly DAS DRITTE which was more local tv shows. I picked this episode because they have Heinz Rühmann, Pierre Richard and Sexbombe Ingrid Steeger as guests.
New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best
Pym has his uses, Shadowman but I wouldn´t trust him with anything ..... important !