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10/20 – Curious Cat Asks…

Which writer has had the best run on the Avengers?

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84 Comments

I have to say Bendis. I’m not a big Marvel fan but I read the trades for time to time and I have to say Bendis’s New Avengers was pretty good and came close to converting me and having me emotionaly invest. It was a well blacned team book and Bendis made it easy for a relative Marvel novice to jump right in and start to relate to the characters (even obscure–for me anyway–ones like Spiderwoman).

Then Civil War kind mucked it up for me but that’s neither here nor there.

I haven’t read ‘em all, but Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek would fight it out Star Trek style for my top spot.

At the bottom? Why, hello, Mr. Bendis! Please get off of Bob Harras so we can get a good look at him!

I’d say Roy Thomas. His fifty issue run gave us The Vision, the Squadren Sinister and the Kree/Skrull War.

Steve Englehart.

I’ve actually read the full run of Avengers from the 60s on, and one thing can be said – the Avengers have had some GREAT runs by writers. It’s tough to pick a favorite between Busiek, Stern, and Englehart; all three had excellent runs. I’m also a big fan of the Thomas and first Shooter run (the Korvac Saga was fantastic). I even have a fondness for Bob Harras’ run and the work he did on characters like Sersi and Black Knight.

Bottom of the pile for me? Bendis, Liefeld, Simonson

I’d have to go with Roger Stern. He wrote the book when I started reading comics, and his Marvel Universe-spanning stories created my interest in comics that thrives to this day.

Son of a Vision

October 20, 2007 at 1:15 pm

I like that Bendis said “I can’t write these characters!” and got rid of them all and brought in his favorites. Like…Spider-Woman? Wait, no, that sucks. I’ll give it to Englehart, but Bendis can still get some props for making them relevant.

I’m gonna go with Busiek. His first two-dozen issues or so are amazing. Epic stories, great character moments (Justice and Firestar are interesting there!), and just generally terrific writing. Once it got bogged down in the Triune conspiracy and people protesting from both sides and all that nonsense, it went downhill fast and never really recovered. But those first 4 TPBs? Amazing.

Roger Stern was great, of course. And I think David Michelinie’s run is underrated.

Nostalgically, I go with Jim Shooter’s first run (back-to-back Ultron, Nefaria and Korvac? What’s not to love). But as far as overall length, impact and quality, I’d go with Roger Stern. Kurt Busiek’s relaunch was a great breath of fresh air as well (although it felt a tad TOO retro at times, which drops its ranking a bit, for me anyway).

I also have fond memories of Englehart, Thomas and Michelenie’s run with Taskmaster and Red Ronin.

Roger Stern, followed by Bob Harras for me.

Roger Stern. Masters of Evil? Olympus? He was consistently great throughout his run.

Busiek was very good, and got me interested in Avengers again. Bendis got me to drop them again, though I have started picking up Mighty Avengers and like it quite a bit.

I like Shooter’s work too (especially the trial of Yellowjacket), but he wasn’t as strong as Stern or Busiek, IMHO.

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 20, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Avenger/JLA x-over by Busiek and Perez did it for me.

Of course, so did the Perez/Busiek Avengers run.

Roger Stern, easily.

Englehart, hands down.

Either Thomas, Stern, or Busiek, but I’ll admit to having a gap in my knowledge from the point where the Essentials end to about the 1980s. So, for example, I haven’t read Shooter’s run.

Englehart FTW. Thomas laid some serious groundwork. Stern had some great character moments. I have enjoyed a goodly portion of Bendis’ New Avengers. Never could get all that into Busiek’s run for some reason.

Busiek’s run felt too much like he was rehasing his favorite runs of Avengers verses creating something new and interesting. There were some cool moments but it felt like “Avengers Greatest Hits.” But I’m guessing that’s why people prefer his stuff over Bendis run which does make a decent effort of doing something new with the team (which doesn’t always work but can be a whole lot more fun when it does). I did enjoy Avenger Forever though.

Englehart at the top, definitely. Busiek slightly suffers from being a revival of past glories, but is one of the best such revivals, and definitely had a pleasant taste of “this is how this book should be handled” after what had come just before.
I’ll definitely second whoever said Michelinie was underappreciated.
I’m not sure who’s at the bottom end of the scale for me, as I usually think of eras where I’d take a glance through the book, go “bleh” at what was going on, and put it back on the rack. Who was responsible for Gilgamesh? Or the Crossing? Or turning the Wasp into a freaky insect creature? (Was that at the same time?) Them/him, then.
Bendis is a mixed bag. I liked New Avengers once it got going, but disassembled and the first few issues of New were such a fricking drag. I thing this is because Bendis-style decompression and big action are a terrible, terrible mix. I actually still enjoy aspects of Bendis that I’m apparently expected to hate by this point, like the quirky dialog stuff and the slightly wanky character bits (as long as he’s not writing someone he doesn’t have a weirded-out hate-on for). As long as people are talking, I don’t have too much of a problem with his type of decompression, but once he turns things over to the visuals (with the possible exception of Powers) it’s deadly, and not in a good way. It wasn’t as much who got killed/ruined in Disassembled that bothered me (though I was hardly delighted) as it was the sheer wastage of time and page space. The thing just took up at least twice as much comic book than it needed to. The same with the first three (?) or so issues of New Avengers; I remember finally picking it up after I saw that the stupidly overlong prison fight was finally over (seriously, that should have taken two thirds of the first issue at the most).

While I like Busiek’s writing most of the time, I thought his Avengers was horrible due to trying to hard to recapture the dialogue and feel of old-time tales and looking ridiculous in the process. I think it’s a perfect example of what Brian called “90s Good,” where in comparison to Harras, Loeb and Liefeld, it came off as a masterpiece just for not being a piece of crap.

Thomasternenglehartbendisbusiek

Blast! Double negative! Damn lack of an edit feature!

It’s a pretty close call among Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Jim Shooter, Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek… but I’ll give the edge to Jim Shooter, who was pretty good and pretty daring for those days. The Korvac saga was very innovative; Nefaria became a fearful opponent and the fight against Thor was masterfully crafted; and it even had the best Cap-Iron Man confrontations ever.

Also, it wasn’t particularly predictable; lots of character moments were good and surprising. Byrne’s art didn’t hurt either (ironic, considering how badmouthed he became against Shooter).

Second place goes to Roger Stern. He had lots of tender loving care for Captain Marvel and fine character development skills. The plotting wasn’t half bad either, despite a fair amount of editorial interference with Secret Wars and the change of his WCA plans.

Englehart and Busiek are pretty good too, but didn’t have as good art as they could.

It’s a three way tie for me between Thomas, Stern and Busiek for me. And isn’t it sad that nobody’s mentioned Stan Lee?

Stan Lee’s Avengers run is underrated. He was actually quite creative there, IMNSHO more so than in Fantastic Four.

The Busiek & Perez run was the first extended run of Avengers comics I bought. It may have been “Avengers Greatest Hits,” but most of the Englehart, Stern, & Shooter runs were not readily available in reprint. I can not say that Busiek’s run was “the best” due to not reading too many other Avengers comics, but I bought and enjoyed nearly every issue.

My favorite Avengers story, however, is “Under Siege.” If the rest of the Stern run was that good, he could get the prize.

Englehart and Busiek are pretty good too, but didn’t have as good art as they could.

Huh?

Stan Lee’s Avengers run is underrated. He was actually quite creative there, IMNSHO more so than in Fantastic Four.

Double huh?

Actually, I would love it if you’d elaborate on that second one a bit, I’ve never actually heard anyone claim that before, and my curiosity’s piqued.

Well, obviously Bendis ain’t gonna win this race. YAY!

You know a year or two ago, if someone told me I’d be the only guy who said a remotely good thing about Bendis in a room full of Marvel fans I’d have thought they were insane. I feel like I’m in some parallel world. (I wonder if I’m on Ultimate Earth?)

Definitely Englehart. It’s such a pity about what happened with him leaving the series because of editorial rewrites – he probably would have been on the book for years longer if that hadn’t happened.

It’s between Roger Stern and Roy Thomas. I’d have to give it to Stern simply because Thomas’s run was so WEIRD– it was almost more like the Defenders, in that it was a misfit batch of second stringers with barely any of the “big guns” in sight. Still two great runs, both illustrated, at their peak, by Buscema and Palmer.

BENDIS!!!!!!!!!

Seriously?

Well I vote for anyonebutBendis on the grounds that his Avengers aren’t techniquely Avengers but Secret Defenders running around calling themselves Avengers.

Busiek. The genius of Busiek’s run is that his deft use of Avengers history made those past stories seem a lot better than they actually were. It may have seemed to be re-creating past glories, but in fact the recreation was a lot more glorious. [hedge] In most cases [/hedge].

Everything you love about superteam books flows from Thomas’ run on Avengers.

Before Thomas, superteam books were about costumes fighting costumes.

Thomas wrote a superteam comic about people.

Well, Harras is the sentimental favorite for me (say what you will, but I loved the 90s fad of sticking everyone in uniformed leather jackets over their costumes).

But in terms of shear quality, it’s a close race between Busiek and Stern. Let’s give this one to Stern.

A fair bit of Englehart’s (first) run had passable art at best. For instance, Don Heck penciled most of the stories featuring Mantis and Swordsman, including the Avengers half of the first “Avengers vs Defenders” storyline. His WCA pencilers were a fair bit better, however, and fit well besides the Al Milgrom / Joe Sinnot art of the East Cost title of the time.

(What a contrast to current Avengers books, especially New Avengers! In those days plot was intense, revelations abounded, but penciling was not the best it could be. Nowadays the opposite applies.)

Kurt Busiek’s run had George Perez, but he is overrated. For all the love Perez had, I actually liked his successors (specially Alan Davis) best – more polished penciling, better storytelling, not so many botched costume designs. Too bad the Kang storyline was so overextended.

As for Stan Lee on Avengers, I always felt that it was the most creative of his 1960s runs. He stayed the most on Spider-Man and had his most acclaim for Fantastic Four, but in Avengers he had a far more daring plot dynamic – the roster was basically in flux all the time, even basically redefining itself in an instant in #16 (what a constrast to the formation of the New Avengers, or even the most recent JLA), existing Thor villains were employed to good effect, Cap was reinvented and well-used (Cap actually is more of a team character than a solo one). Wasn’t Baron Zemo more of an Avengers villain than a Cap one, even?
It even had better internal conflict than most any other team book of the time, what with Hulk being a founder and shortly after turning against the team by siding with Namor. For all their praise, the Stan Lee FF, X-Men and Spider-Man issues of the time just didn’t excite me as much – it seems that they had a better hand for creating good concepts (mainly character ones) than for actually implementing them.

Roy Thomas and Roger Stern were the first two names to pop into my head. Both of them had very memorable, well-written runs on Avengers that set the standards for everyone who came afterwards.

Stern.

Is this a serious question?

I’ll go as far as this:

BEST:

1. Englehart
2. Thomas
3. Busiek
4. Michelinie
5. Stern

WORST:

Bendis and Byrne in a dead heat, so much so they might as well be the same person.

Busiek narrowly edges Michelinie on account of my own personal sense of fanboy gratification upon reading Avengers Forever, but also because of his Thunderbolts, a great Avengers story that makes old characters freshly available to the new blood.

Also, the list is five deep because regardless of my preferential rankings Stern is due a colossal respect, and no list of great Avengers writers could possibly be complete without him. I think of him as the Len Wein of his day — like Englehart said of Hawkeye, he doesn’t get the press the others do, because he does many things well.

Luis: thanks for expanding on that! I’ll still disagree with you on the art: I’ll never say a word against Don Heck just on principle (and also because when he’s on, he’s really on), but aside from that, and less obscurely, I can think of a couple other ways in which you and I apparently differ.

One, I’m a HUGE fan of Sal Buscema, especially in this era when he’s trying new things all the time.

Two, I think Englehart himself might be one of the most underrated colorists Marvel’s ever had.

Three, I think George Tuska is probably one of the most underrated pencillers Marvel ever had.

Four: I like the adventurousness of the young Perez’s pencils.

Five: I like the mood Vince Colletta brings, though I know a lot of people don’t — outside of him, though, I thought the inks provided during Englehart’s run were really good stuff.

But, tastes differ, obviously.

However, on Stan’s Avengers: you know, maybe you’re right, maybe he is underrated. You get me with the Zemo thing, and also I recall the first Hulk/Thor fight with tremendous fondness. Damn good points! I’ve gotta think about that now…

Don Heck is about my least favorite artist to ever draw a comic. Even in my most fanboy period, his art was enough to make me drop a book. Take a character in a boring pose and stick him on a boring background like a Colorform and you’ve got Don Heck art.

BTW… wasn’t it Bob Brown who drew the Avengers end of the Avengers/Defenders War?

Plok, I love Sal Buscema’s work as well. In fact, _he_ penciled the early Defenders issues that participated of the first Avengers/Defenders conflict. Fine work, that – clear, dynamic. I just couldn’t bring myself to like Don Heck’s Avengers issues that told the story between them to the same degree.

Yeah that was Bob Brown doing the Avengers side while Sal Buscema I think was doing the Defenders. Was that the first serious cross-over in comics?
The Englehart run was just starting when I first bought Marvel Comics, and at the same time Marvel Triple Action was reprinting the Stan Lee/Don Heck “new team” of Cap, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I remember thinking that the two creative teams were similar, having great writers juggling interesting characters and soap opera, and both having rather weak (but effective) artists (Heck and Brown).

And I quickly realized that a lot of key issues had occurred between the two runs and began haunting the back shelves of my neighborhood used book store (no comic shops then)hunting for battered old Roy Thomas issues.
I think those three runs pretty much defined the Avengers, and it seemed that Thomas had the best artists. I especially love Avengers 98-100, the three-part Thomas/Barry Smith spectacular where first Ares mind-controls the Avengers and makes them fight each other, and then every existing Avenger (at that point) got together to go to Olympus and save Hercules or something. Those are probably my all-time favorite Avengers issues.

I also really liked the Jim Shooter runs. To me, the Trial of Yellowjacket was the last great Avengers storyline. I loved the super-villain team that Egghead assembled.

So, I guess for me it’s 1)Thomas, 2)Englehart (especially those issues with Perez), 3)Lee and Shooter (tied).

TERRY KAVANAGH!

Nah, just kidding. Stern´s was the best run, and I loved the ones from Harras, Busiek, Englehart, Michelinie, Simonson and most of Thomas.

I’m totally gonna respond at length to that, Fourthworlder, as soon as (as Becky Cloonan says) I rise from my grave…

But in the meantime…Don Heck, he got savaged quite a long time ago, by Harlan Ellison in TCJ, and nobody stood up for him. I still feel guilty about that. In truth, superheroes were not his forte. But, a good artist. We rarely saw him work to a script that showcased his talents…but, let me just say, wow, Giant-Size Defenders #4, entitled “Too Cold A Night For Dying”…superheroically it may not be much, but several visual passages there are just stunning. He knew how to make drama on a page, no question.

On a weird, weird, weird related note: I mean you’re going to think I’m crazy, but that comic was inked by Vince Colletta, too…and it was so effective

I can’t believe you’re calling Bob Brown merely “effective”, though! Gee whiz!

Luis, glad to meet another fan of Our Pal. And, Shooter-lovers, I’ll give you this: he went into Avengers intending to give the characters a bit more “consistency”, and that’s exactly what he did. We wouldn’t have had the Tony Stark of the last twenty years or so without Shooter.

I’m so posting on Shooter’s Avengers any day now. Shooter and Byrne, say what you will, made a wicked team.

“(Cap actually is more of a team character than a solo one).”

I have to take exception to this statement. In every battle Captain America is in under Stan Lee’s watch on the Avengers, you get his team mates AND the villians in complete awe of his fighting skills, and commenting on it. “I’ve never seen a man with no superpowers move so quick!” He may be part of the team, but everything revolves around him, his leadership and his quest to fit into modern society.

As for the question at hand, I’m going to say Roger Stern for sentimental reasons (he was on the book when I started reading comics) and Roy Thomas because of all the good stories. When I first started reading the responses on this thread, I thought Thomas was kind of over-rated (especially the Kree-Skrull War), and that his run was most memorable for the John Buscema/Tom Palmer and Neal Adams art, but then I remembered the Vision stories, the Black Panther stories and Sentinel story he ended his run on (that final story, I’d say, was his masterpiece on the run, and is really overlooked). I also liked what I’ve read of Englehart’s run shortly after Thomas, but haven’t read enough of it to comment on.

Roy also wrote the greatest Quicksilver story of all time, in the Larry Trask/Sentinels arc of Avengers. I wrote a whole thing on it: Pietro is The Man in that issue. And, sadly, he’s never been as awesome since.

Le vrai superhero scripting in that one. As good as it gets, Englehart not excepted.

I have to take exception to this statement. In every battle Captain America is in under Stan Lee’s watch on the Avengers, you get his team mates AND the villians in complete awe of his fighting skills, and commenting on it. “I’ve never seen a man with no superpowers move so quick!” He may be part of the team, but everything revolves around him, his leadership and his quest to fit into modern society.

Well, that’s Stan Lee for us; he does have a taste for the dramatic, don’t you agree?

You’ll notice however that Stan, unlike most other writers, does “allow” Cap to be defeated fairly often. That, of course, is more likely to occur in a team book than in a solo story.

Also, I feel that you reinforced my point. The awe of the Avengers may happen because he is a member and therefore interacts with them. Stan Lee obviously liked to portray Cap as an awesome character, even using him in the book when he was technically not an active member, but I don’t see how that means that Cap is more of a solo character than a team member.

Having read the essentials my list is very old/new.

Thomas, Lee, Busiek I haven’t read a whole lot more than that period, but thats how I like the stories for me. The high-action adventure nature of Busiek worked great for me, but that fact that ever new character he introduced was terrible was a real negative in my book. That, and the never-ending Kang war put him down the list.
I love the constant evolution of the Stan Lee years, which really changed the formula of a super-team more-so than the Fantastic Four. This was a team of super-heroes, not a family, that didn’t get along, the team changed because of personal obligations, etc. Great stuff.
And Thomas… he had a slow start but a lot of it was just plain fun. He took Stan’s formula to the next level. The Kooky Quartet was cool, but the issues where the whole team was just Goliath, Wasp and Hercules were really cool too.

I LOVE Bendis’ stuff, but its the NEW Avengers, not the Avengers. Different concept, different book. Great stuff, but not really the Avengers. Not the ‘Secret Defenders’ either (eye roll) but not the Avengers.

Roy Thomas is the best. While Stan Lee did a fantastic job of creating the concept and then as equally impressive task of almost immediately redefining the book, Roy Thomas’ Avengers pulled together many disparate threads to create a greater tapestry of the Marvel Universe during his run. While Steve Englehart, Jim Shooter the first time around, Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek all had fine runs on the title, all of them were following the template set by Roy Thomas. Each of them built on his foundation of the Unified Marvel Universe.

You can’t go wrong with volume 1 #1-191 & 227-285 and volume 3 #1-56!

Man, there’s not enough love for David Michelinie’s run in this thread. He’s the writer that made me fall in love with the concept and execution of the World’s Mightiest.

assuming the ultimates doesn’t count – lee/kirby. lazy but tru.

I don’t get all the Busiek love. Triathalon? Justice? Was it the best run in ten years? Yes. Was it among the all-time great runs? Eh.

Depending on where in each writer’s run I was looking, at any given moment I could pick Thomas or Englehart. Lee and Shooter could duke it out for third.

Up until Bendis’s current run, have the Avengers *ever* been Marvel’s top-selling ongoing? My gut tells me “no,” but if someone has some facts that say otherwise, then I would humbly withdraw my statement.

Granted, no other Avengers writer has gotten to use both Spider-Man and Wolverine on the team, who are arguably Marvel’s 2 most popular characters — or at least nos. 1 & 7 according to the CBR poll :). Though, I would guess that even if Spidey and Wolverine left the team tomorrow, Bendis’s book would still sell very well.

KURT BUSIEK (Busiek & Perez are still the high mark for me, and Avengers Forever is self-explanatory)

ROGER STERN (Stern’s extended run was pure gold)

ROY THOMAS (Established what would be the core of the group)

STEVE ENGLEHART (Established the key plotlines that would provide story fodder for decades)

DAVID MICHILINIE (On sheer characterization)

STAN LEE (is Stan Lee)

JIM SHOOTER (For his inventive approach to old characters such as Nefaria, Ultron, Korvac and even Ant-Man. Would be higher on the list except for what he did to Hank & Jan)

BOB HARRAS(I recall the Gatherers story with much fondness– haven’t tried to re-read it in a decade though)

I just noticed something: I guess that the “Heroes Reborn” version is so much worse than “worst” that it doesn’t even show up on anyone’s scale. Heh.

After seeing all the praise for Stern, I started to get this creeping feeling that I didn’t feel the same way about his run. Sure enough, I looked up which issue ranges his run includes and checked one of the online cover galleries, and this is not a period that I have particularly fond memories of. He’s done a lot of great stuff, and he’s even done a lot of great stuff with the Avengers, but his actual “regular” run on the book (late 220s to late 280s) doesn’t even approach top 5 territory for me. That’s when Dr. Druid joined, ferchrissakes! And the second (?) tenure of the Black Knight, which convinced me he’d been more interesting as a statue.

What a good post. I need to dive into some back issue boxes now for sure. Oh yeah, and while we’re at it, Stern’s Monica Rambeau is pretty much my favorite Avenger ever. Wish more writers used her as well as he did.

Those first Lee/Kirby Avengers had a wonderful energy. You can sort of tell that they were having a lot of fun bringing that incompatible bunch of characters together and letting the sparks fly, especially when they had the Hulk and Sub-Mariner facing the remaining few Avengers, and when Rick Jones ended up torn between Cap and the Hulk.

And Plok, when I described Bob Brown as just “effective,” I think that was filtered through my thirteen/fourteen-year-old perceptions at the time.
I actually wrote a fan letter after Avengers #118, gushing praise for his art in that climactic finale.

But compared to the power of Kirby, the ultra-modern-seeming realism of Adams, and the graceful line of John Buscema, Brown seemed… well, effective. Still does, if only in comparison.

I vote for Thomas. It doesn’t hurt that Avengers Annual #2 might be the best single Avengers story ever, but he just wrote so much great stuff during his run, no one else really compares: The X-Men crossover, the Super-Adaptoid fight in Central Park, the first Vision stories, the first Ultron stories, the Squadron Sinister and Invaders story, the first Arkon story, the Yellowjacket/Wasp wedding, the Kree-Skrull War… and geez, look how many stories I drilled through before I even got to the Kree-Skrull War!

I’d pick Busiek second because his run was a masterpiece mixing plot and characterization, with plenty of doses of humor and development while staying true to the longtime spirit of the series. That’s just about impossible for anyone to pull off with any team book in this post-Image world. It helps that I think the first three years of his run are also the best work George Pérez has ever done (and that’s saying a lot, since he’s probably my favorite comics artist ever!).

It’s a little hard to believe I’m saying this, but I’d pick Jim Shooter as having the third-best run, mainly for his first run (the Graviton/Korvac run) rather than his second (the Yellowjacket/Moondragon run), much like Paul Levitz’ first run on Legion of Super-Heroes was much better than his second run on the book.

As for some of the other contenders mentioned above:

Steve Englehart, well, I first read his run in the 1980s, and while the Avengers/Defenders war is fun, and the Squadron Supreme/Serpent Crown saga is also pretty nifty, for the most part his run holds up remarkably poorly. All the Celestial Madonna and Vision/Scarlet Witch stuff reads like a very dated, very silly soap opera, and the Zodiac story is borderline-unreadable. And his West Coast Avengers run was pretty bad, with some atrocious dialogue.

Although I love most of Roger Stern’s writing (his Doctor Strange run was one of the best series of the 1980s), I think his Avengers work was the nadir of his career. It was all perfectly reasonable and had a few high points (the Terminus story, for instance, and the West Coast Avengers mini-series), but I just never seemed to gel. I suspect his plans were frequently upset by editorial directives, but I have no evidence for this.

Brian Michael Bendis’ stuff on New Avengers isn’t even on my radar screen. I have yet to read anything written by Bendis other than Powers that I’ve enjoyed, and he seems especially poorly matched with The Avengers.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 21, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Harras gets the nostalgic vote for me, it was the Avengers of my youth, but Busiek is the only other person to get me interested in them, so I’ll give it to him (though I do enjoy Jeff Parkers take).

While other writers have done some pretty good things with the book, the run of Roy Thomas was the definitive one. He set the template that everyone else has followed.

David Michelinie.

Nuff said.

Ha! I’m reading the Avengers right now! Or I would be if my stupid college didn’t take three weeks to interlibrary loan the wrong Essentials Volume.

But I PLAN on getting through all the Essentials, all the issues I own, and everything from (volume 1) in trade.

I also did a couple thousand word bit on the Lee/Kirby Avengers stories, but I dunno if I’m gonna edit and post it or not.

Basically they were hampered by weak villains, often letf-overs from Thor, interchangable characterization – Seriously, there’s no difference between Iron Man and Giant Man in attitude, dialog patterns, or how they respond to events – and Kirby drawing 73 other books. Some good stuff, almost never great.

Best writers: 4 way tie. Thomas, Engelhart, Stern, Shooter. Lee was OK. I haven’t read much of Micheline’s (But the few issues I did were Godawful,) almost nothing between # 300 and the end of the first series, and haven’t cared for anything after the first series ended. Ooh! Except that one Perez Ultron story! That was great!

I remain a fan of Bendis in general, but the second (I think? Alpha Flight died) volume of New Avengers is among the worst superhero comics I’ve read, like, ever.

Hands down Its BENDIS,
I don’t care that others diss him
His Avengers the best and gets my $3 every time

Now it’s perfect.

Roger Stern…easily.

Also, Shooter, Bendis, Thomas.

Most dissapointing was Simonson. I knew he could do better but his stay was brief and…odd. (His Avengers line-up: The Captain, Thor, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Gilgamesh)

Every time Jim Shooter’s name comes up, I unfortunately think about two of the biggest misfires in Avengers history… well, okay, two of the biggest prior to “The Crossing” and “Heroes Reborn.”

Anyway, it was under Shooter that we got Avengers #200, which had the Avengers obliviously seeing off a mind controlled Carol Danvers as she left with Immortus, a guy who pretty much raped her. And then we got the infamous Hank Pym slapping Janet Van Dyne scene, wich I really think has ruined the character for all time, because one writer after another keeps dredging it back up, again and again.

Those two black marks unfortunately tarnish the rest of Shooter’s run for me.

First, I’d like to thank you for posting this on a Saturday. I wasn’t able to contribute until the post and bee run into the ground. My ID is avengers63 for pete’s sake!!! I LIVE for Avengers discussions.

Dang it!

Anyway, here’s the way it all ran down. Basically, a few folks in the beginning of the thread named individual writers, then everyone else began listing 2-4 of the previously named group. Two people names 6 or 7 writers. (Thanks for being so specific.) It was a little hard to nail down who we agree was the best. What I did was tally everyone who got a positive mention. Here’s the totals:

Roger Stern – 21
Roy Thomas – 19
Kurt Busiek – 17
Steve Englehart – 15
Jim Shooter – 11
Brian Bendis – 8
Stan Lee – 8
David Micheline – 6
Bob Harras – 6

FWIW: I voted for Thomas (#1), Busiek, Shooter, and Bendis. I won’t comment on any of them as it’s all been said already.

What I WILL commnet on, however, are three of the artists mentioned, and one that deserves a mention.

SAL BUSCEMA: I have NEVER liked his art. He’s a workhorse, consistent, and reliable. I won’t take any of that away from him. I just don’t like his art.

GEORGE PEREZ: He’s one of my all time favorite artists. He had two great runs on the book: late 70′s & mid to late 90′s. He’s one of the few artists who understand proportions and height. His detail and linework are amazing. I don’t understand how anyone can NOT love his work. Then again, I don’t care for Out Pal Sal, so I’ll let that one go.

JOHN BYRNE: I love his art, and he’s a great writer. He just wasn’t a good fit for the Avengers. His work on WCA just wansn’t that good.

TOM PALMER: Tom Palmer inked the title for (I think) 200 issues or so. Can someone check that? His inking style helped define the look of the book got nearly 20 years. Lots of folks go on about the length of Kirby’s run on the FF and Bagley passing his number on Ultimate SM, but Palmer’s lengthy run on The Avengers goes un-noticed. The only artist who might be able to surpass him is Kurt Swan on Superman. Everyone… stand up and remove your hat in respect to Tom Palmer.

Tom Palmer inked the title for (I think) 200 issues or so.

Oh, yeah, we cannot forget Tom Palmer! And keep in mind that during the 200s, when John Buscema was pencilling, he was really doing loose breakdowns. Which meant that Palmer actually did the finish pencils and the inks, i.e. the lion’s share of the artwork. Palmer is definitely one of the best artists in the biz.

Thomas is number one, followed by Engelhart, Stern and Busiek. If Shooter had never done his second run, he’d be up here, too.

Byrne gets worst (yes even worse than Heroes Reborn) because he went out of his way to destroy established characters and relationships. His art was nice, though.

Busiek, if only because of The Ultron Imperative and the great moments that came from it. Let’s not forget that Busiek’s run also include Avengers Forever and the crossovers with the Thunderbolts, which also had a great beginning by Busiek.

won’t come as a surprise to anybody who has already posted here, but my favorites are Stern, Thomas and Busiek. pretty much everything I love about the Avengers was reflected in their runs.

also, as has benn commented, I don’t count Bendis’ New Avengers as an “avengers book” at all, so I don’t have to say anything good or bad about that. now, dissasembled was totally hideous.

even so, the worst? Chuck Austen

by far

Guys guys guys, this topic should have been 7 words long:

“Ultron…We would have words with thee…”

Agh! I can’t believe I forgot Jeff Parker! Are we allowed to mention ‘Marvel Adventures: Avengers’? Because if we are, he really does jump in very high on the list. Admittedly, there’s no real progression like there is in the best runs of the regular Avengers series, but that’s an editorial mandate he has to follow, and he does a great job of overcoming it with sharp dialogue, great premises, and a really good sense of character.

Ben Herman (post #69): I thought it was David Micheline, not Jim Shooter, who wrote Avengers #200.

Avengers #200 was a group effort (three writers plus Shooter), so I think the presumption from people is that, since it was a group effort, it was most likely editorial driven.

I do not know the definitive facts either way.

Kurt Busiek is so ahead of everyone else that is not even funny. He wrote Avengers Forever, Kang Dinasty and Ultron Unlimited, the three greatest Avengers stories ever.

Was about to say Busiek but remembered that of course his
run would look good–following “Heroes Reborn” and “The Crossing.”

Lee, Thomas, Shooter, Stern and Busiek all bring back fond
memories, Englehart less so; if I recall he muddied up the
Vision, trying to make him out to be the original Human Torch, and he had way more interest in Mantis than any reader did…or has.

I guess I’d grudgingly have to say…Bendis. New Avengers
1-18 or so is compelling, fun reading, and yes, there was an unequalled team dynamic there with big guns Spidey, Wolverine, Cap and Iron Man, and despite the naysayers, it worked! But like one other poster said–Civil War blew it all up, unfortunately.

I hope for the day when something, a major menace or something, reunites New and Mighty into what The Avengers should be–a single team composed of the best of the best, and yes, Spidey and Logan–and Steve Rogers–should
be among them.

Note–I’ve read Avengers since issue 1 without a break; lowest point ever for the title, about ’93-’97, from just after Galactic Storm up to #402.

Oh yeah, and while it’s fashionable to knock Bendis’ run,
he is the man whose Avengers pushed aside X-Men to become
the main Marvel franchise. Internet posters insist they dislike Bendis, but Avengers sells strongly and consistently. Somebody likes it, and I think it’s the comics answer to “the silent majority.”

Those would be the people who like Spider-Man and Wolverine, I take it? You may be attributing things to Bendis’ writing which properly belong somewhere else, I think…

Although I’ll admit, he does write some damn fine Spidey dialogue.

Oh yeah, and while it’s fashionable to knock Bendis’ run, he is the man whose Avengers pushed aside X-Men to become the main Marvel franchise. Internet posters insist they dislike Bendis, but Avengers sells strongly and consistently. Somebody likes it, and I think it’s the comics answer to “the silent majority.”

I beg to disagree. Overextension of the X-Men franchise and Marvel’s editorial policy played a fair share of the recent degree of visibility of the New Avengers (which, in all fairness, are quite different from the Avengers proper both in concept and in implementation).

House of M, which directed the Marvel books for quite a while soon after the creation of Bendis’ team, was a X-Men event more than a New Avengers one, but it happened at a time when even diehard fans had a hard time even understanding how many X-books they “should” buy.

Civil War, on the other hand, was very much New Avengers-centric. As soon as Civil War started, either you were well aware of New Avengers and very emphatically invited to read it or you were not much of a Marvel reader. And before that, New Avengers was a _very_ decompressed title with lots of commercial gimmicks, including embarassing soft porn undercurrents and an overdose of mysteries with little payoff. Bendis knows how to take advantage of the gimmicks that have been working as of late, but he does so at the expense of both plot and concept.

Had Marvel’s editorial chosen to launch yet another X-event instead of Civil War (which, for all its flaws, _had consequences galore_) we would certainly be seeing a lot less talk of the New Avengers, to say nothing of Mighty Avengers. But the current level of interest is somewhat ilusory; for one thing the stories are still decompressed to a halt (six months fighting Ultron in the skies? That makes Busiek’s Kang War seem short by comparison) and sales are nowhere near what they were at, say, the days of the WCA and Stern’s Avengers. These days you almost have to buy a six-issue trade paperback to get a full story. That leads to encouraging short-term sales but it also hurts the industry. Comics are expensive these days, and the decompression makes all but the most devoted uninsterested in following the stories.

I really liked the New Avengers line-ups; finally, a team that’s not just Cap/Thor/Iron Man & co. that seems interesting! (the only other examples I can think of, the Gilgamesh & FF team and the Black Knight-led squad, didn’t interest me) I think that Bendis has written good scenes and character exchanges, but has had major problems with plotting.

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