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Snark Free Corner for 4/21

Welcome to the latest installment of your breath of snark free air!



Roger Stern or Steve Englehart?

Whose Avengers do you like better?

Steve Englehart burst on to the Avengers scene following Roy Thomas, and he produced a great deal of the most memorable Avengers comics of the time, doing one of the best runs of the 1970s period.

Roger Stern followed Jim Shooter on the Avengers in the 1980s, and also put in a tremendous run on the title, with some notable storylines, as well.

Englehart used more of a traditional lineup, while Stern used more of a unique team.

Both had their pet characters (Mantis for Englehart, Captain Marvel for Stern).

But at the end of the day, which run do you think was better?

Let me know!!


As always, here is the game. I show three covers. They all have something in common, whether it be a character, a trait all three characters share, locale, creator, SOMEthing. And it isn’t something obvious like “They all have prices!” “They all have logos!” “They all feature a man!” etc.

In addition, please note that you must have some familiarity with comic book history to correctly guess these comics. You cannot guess the connective theme just by looking at the covers solely, you must have some knowledge beyond just the covers.

A cool point to the first person to figure it out!

Good luck!

NOTE: While obscure, the connective theme for this week really amuses me, probably more so than it should, but since it is so amusing to me, I am going to give TWO cool points to the first person to figure it out!!





Make up your ideal six-member Suicide Squad team, with the rule that four of the six have to be supervillains and Deadshot has to be on the team.


This week’s game is as follows…

Find me a cover (other than a Green Lantern title) featuring Arisia on it.

Here is an example (which you can’t use!)…

Remember, only one cover per commenter!


Remember, tell me who it is and what number clue gave it away!

1. This character has been the head of a major corporation.
2. This character is related to a famous villain.
3. This character has been the head of a group of bad guys.
4. This character has had a child with a superhero.
5. This character particularly digs Batman.

Who is it?

Well, that’s it for this installment of Snark Free Corner.

Hope you had fun!


This was a difficult choice. Englehart was doing the Avengers when I first started collecting comics, the Avengers was my very first comic (although Tony Isabella was filling in for a two parter at that time)…so Englehart’s run is always held in high regard to me.

But in all fairness I think Stern’s run was better. Especially the stuff he did towards the end of his run with John Buscema and Tom Palmer. The Masters of Evil, showdown with Zemo, war with Zeus….and introducing Namor as an Avenger…loved that stuff.

Stern…..in a close one.

Who Is It: It took me until #5, but it’s Talia, daughter of Ras Al Ghul

Cover challenge: Justice League International #10 http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=44123&zoom=4

Pedro Bouça

April 22, 2008 at 5:36 am

For the cover theme game, is it mind control? i think all stories had characters being mind controlled (not sure about Birds of Prey, though).

And I think Stern is WAY better than Englehart. And Captain Marvel is a much less annoying character then Mantis Sue.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Englehart is the Avengers writer for me, at least as far as the main Avengers title is concerned. Never warmed to West Coast Avengers. For me Roger Stern did his best work on titles with 1 protagonist (Spider-man and Doc Strange notably) rather than on the Avengers title.

I like Englehart’s run, but Stern is the guy.

The Indestructible Man

April 22, 2008 at 6:06 am

Stern’s run on Avengers is one of the things I learned to read off of as a child (alongside Simonson’s Thor and CS Lewis — explains my tastes in literature as an adult), so I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

I liked getting to talk to Stern and thank him for that very fact a few months back on Geoff Johns’ message board.

Stern’s Avengers I could reread forever on a desert island.

I think I’d get sick of Englehart’s after a few dozen reads.

I went back and forth on the Stern/Englehart debate when voting for the 100 runs poll. I enjoy a lot of Englehart’s go-to themes (the next step of human evolution) and his use of Kang and all the fun time travel stuff that I love, including that insane West Coast Avengers storyline where Hawkeye and Co. traveled in and out of the Old West, ancient Egypt, and old FF and Dr. Strange stories.

But Stern did some awesome stuff: the redemption of Hank Pym, Vision taking over the world, a Kang story of his own (that fun little three parter), Under Siege and the Greek gods story that followed it. Plus, I’ve always liked the more eclectic Avengers line-ups more than the traditional ones, and Stern made Namor an Avenger.

Finally, in the battle of pet characters, Teebore will always choose Captain Marvel over that one.

So Stern gets my vote.

Suicide Squad:

Deadshot: Well, he has to be on the team, right?
The Icicle: I really liked his appearances in JSA, and I think there were a few moments there where he steels himself as a villain that make him really interesting.
Giganta: I think the squad needs a little power, and Giganta is kind of amazing.
Killer Croc: If you don’t have a psychopath on the team, then who’s gonna mess up all the planning?
The Red Hood: Butting heads with Deadshot all the time, but stuck in a bad position and doesn’t like it at all.
Raven: She really has to step up and lead this team, unlike her days in the Titans where she could sit back and let Nightwing do all the talking. Leads for an interesting dynamic between her and Jason Todd.

Both are terrific writers, but Stern gets the nod. There was a much broader variety of stories. The only memorable thing to come out of Eng.’s run is Mantis & the Avengers/Defenders crossover. Stern had many more memorable moments for me.

Talia, got it on the first clue.

Ooo, clever Avengers question, because of course it’s the Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter runs that really stick with me. I’ll have to give it to Stern, because that was a fun run if kind of lightweight. It’s hard for me to look back at Englehart’s Avengers without his silly West Coast Avengers getting in the way, and that ain’t good.

i don’t know if its perfect, but i wrote up the first couple issues of a suicide squad book for my own enjoyment a few years ago. It started out with Deadshot breaking into Arkham and freeing the Mad Hatter, Max Zeus and a random thuggish villain. If they can make it to a specific address within 2 hours, they’ll be picked up for a special assignment. of course, its all bs. he’s actually there to recruit the penguin at gunpoint with the others just there as a distraction. the rest are captured at the end of issue 1 while deadshot and penguin getting out by chopper.

issue two is selecting the team and ends with penguin dumped back in gotham to be captured by the cops. his entire purpose was to help select the team. the person running the team is keeping his identity secret, but implied to be Amanda Waller. team consists of:
Deadshot (working for the money)
??? new female character (very similar to scandal but with the ability to communicate with computers who acts as team leader, she can download information (such as skills) from computers as well.)
Riot (a superman villain with powers similar to marvel’s madrox who serves for access to a lab to seek a cure for his condition)
Blackrock (Sam Benjamin, Superman villain with reduced powers, basically a strong brick type, seeks revenge against aliens)
One Man Meltdown (Batman villain with radioactive powers, been imprisoned a long time, just wants to get out for a while since he’s got a terminal cancer)
Katana (superhero, former member of Outsiders)
(Black rock was going to be replaced with Girder (Flash Rogue) and Poison Ivy would also make an appearance.)

My plan was to have them face off against drug runners with meta-powered drugs (where Blackrock dies), the Jihad and acting to prevent a nuclear meltdown near the border with Mexico (where One Man Meltdown dies). This leads to a battle against a group of other heroes intending to stop them (including Bronze Tiger and Captain Boomerang). Side plot shows that Waller didn’t know anything about this Squad and will help take it down. Eventually, the person running the Squad would be revealed to be William Heller. The meta-powered drugs were actually stolen from one of his facilities where he’s acting to create white-supremacist metas. The encounters with the Jihad and the meltdown were both designed to make the Squad look like villains. The death of the Jihad and irradiating the border with Mexico also fits in with their white-supremacist theme. The finale would be the Suicide Squad versus the white-supremacists, in order to make the WS look like heroes and cover their tracks, but it all comes apart when the Squad wins (with heavy losses). I’d planned on Deadshot and Katanna surviving. As you can probably tell, I was a huge fan of Ostrander’s Squad, hence the harkening back to a lot of the elements from it (meta-drugs, Jihad, nuclear explosion, certain characters, and Heller).

Who is it? Talia with #4, confirmed with #5.

My favorite Avengers run is still Roy Thomas’, especially issues 89-100.
Between Englehart and Stern I’d have to say Englehart, but then I am over forty and read it when it came out. I think if you posed the question differently, saying “for those who are older and read the two runs in sequencial order, which one do you prefer?” I’d bet that the vote would be for Englehart. But for those who grew up reading Stern first he’ll seem best.
I never quite understood the appeal of Monica Rambeau. For a black girl from New Orleans she always seemed so … white bread.
And Avengers63, I’m surprised by your comment. To me, the most memorable Englehart moments came in his last ten issues, after Mantis married the tree (do you know that Indian actress/miss world Ashwariya Rai also married a tree, seriously, in real life, a few years back? Seriously, truly! How unoriginal! Obviously the girl would vote for Englehart!)
He introduced the Beast to the Avengers and then George Perez came on board and Patsy Walker put on the Cat suit. That whole Serpent crown/old west/Squadron Supreme/Orca run was his best stuff, and was better than anything Stern did, to me.

I hardly hate ANY character, but I always hated Mantis. Until Starlord and Annhiliation that is.

Oh, and I never get those character thingees but this time I got Talia on #2

Talia on #2.

Don’t think I’ve read either of Stern or Englehart’s versions of the Avengers. The extent of my reading of older Avengers stories was this old black and white paperback that my uncle had that had the Origin of the Vision story in it. Can’t remember who wrote it though.

Its Talia Al Ghul, related to Ra’ Al Ghul, head of the League of Assasins, had a child with Batman, and indeed, she particularly digs Batman. I think she may’ve been head of LexCorp at one point, but I really have no idea.

As for the cover, it looks like at least on character on each cover are in a situation where keeping one’s balance is difficult. It’s probably not it! They all have thier protagonists in a situation where it seems they are not fully in control of thier short term destiny. But that’s just par for course.

Cover theme game: The three story titles form a haiku.

Cover game: Action Comics #589 (Superman & Green Lantern Corps)

Talia in 4.

Stern vs. Englehart: I thought both runs had great plotlines and character development, with the edge there going to Englehart (Serpent Crown, Celestial Madonna, and huge points for introducing Beast to the group). But I do think Stern’s run holds up better from a writing point of view. Englehart’s dialogue gets pretty clunky and corny, which has a certain nostalgic charm at first, but gets a bit unintentionally comedic at times (in my opinion it only got worse with the West Coast Avengers, but there the plotting suffered as well; West Coast Avengers Annual #2 is one of the most hilarious comics I’ve ever read, for all the wrong reasons…).

Stern’s writing holds up well, and he used two great Masters of Evil teams, and brought Captain Marvel, Starfox, Hercules and Black Knight into the fold, so I’m going to go with him for the overall better run.

I love Englehart. I voted for him twice on my extended runs list. But Avengers? That run just stunk. Mantis is ultimate Mary Sue. Added bonus: Heck and Buckler on the art. Ugh.

Stern, however? That’s great stuff.

I never get the who is its but I got Talia on one.

Suicide Squad Team: Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Doctor Virus (one-page villain from Busiek’s Action run…the team needs a redshirt), Killer Frost, the Shadow Thief, and Captain Boomerang (II)

While I love Stern’s work on almost any thing (particularly 80s Marvel books), Steve Englehart was like a rock star to me back in the 1970s. He took the ball that Roy Thomas threw in the air in the Avengers titles and ran with it. The Vision became my favorite Avenger during this run. Englehart used continuity and long-form storytelling to a great advantage. When a continued story featuring Kang the Conqueror concluded in Giant-Size Avengers #2, with fantastic art by Dave Cockrum, I was blown away. When the Avengers-Defenders war erupted one summer and crossed over both titles, I thought my heart would burst.

Stern is great as well…I will never forget that Masters of Evil storyline where they invade Avengers Mansion and torture poor Jarvis.

This one did not particularly care for the Englehart run and just read it for the first time last week. This one liked it at first but got very, very bored when at a point it was intertwining between the not particularly well told origins of four different characters at once. (Seriously! It was like Kang, Mantis, the Vision and then the Beast all in a row.)

Stern on the other hand did the Under Siege story. And I guess I like Captain Marvel far far more than Mantis who I groan everytime I see her.

Also: Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang II, Poison Ivy, Icicle II, and in the random one-shot Firestorm (or the like) villain slot, lets say…. Booster Gold villain Blackguard.

Tali on 5. My first thought was Iron Man, number 2 threw me, number 3 made me think Lex Luthor, number four threw me, then I remembered Talia for number 5. Didn’t know she was head of a corporation.
For the cover theme game I’m going to go off on a limb and say that all three stories feature characters with other characters’ powers.

“Cover theme game: The three story titles form a haiku.”

dhole deserves a win for this one.

Talia on #1!!!!
Whoo hoo!!! First time I ever got a #1

OK, I don’t like using covers like thism, but the non-GL title rule makes it hard not to. Arisia’s right behind Batman here: http://en.dcdatabaseproject.com/Image:Millennium_1.jpg

OK, since Deadshot certainly fills one of the supervillain slots right off the bat and you have to have some cannon fodder in there somewhere, here’s my Suicide Squad.

1. Dumb Bunny – It’s always useful to have a “brick” on the team, and she has both the power & I.Q. of one.
2. White Feather – Because every team needs an archer! I’m not sure why, exactly. I’m pretty sure it’s an affirmative action initiative or something.
3. Starro the Conqueror — OK, this one’s a tough sell, but I’d love to see Starro in some kind of teamwork situation. He could coordinate like J’onn’s telepathic link in the JLA, only substantially more problematic.
4. Angle Man — Honestly, just because I’m amazed he’s still around.
5. Zoom – To give Starro something to work with, because otherwise this team might get picked off pretty quick.
6. Deadshot – He’s a must. No, really.


Because he who controls cool points controls the world.

Tough for me to judge Englehart vs. Stern fairly, as I read a LOT more of Stern’s run, and have only been exposed to Englehart’s Avengers through back issues. I’d be perfectly happy to call it a draw & just say they both had great runs on the book.

Ooooh, my ideal 6-member Suicide Squad team. This is going to be fun.

OK, first of all, Amanda Waller is in charge of the team, but I would not count her as a member, since she doesn’t go on field missions.

1) DEADSHOT – Duh. It just ain’t the Suicide Squad without him. Great costume, and his amorality & death wish make him wonderfully fascinating.
2) BRONZE TIGER – Cool martial artist, conflicted history & excellent right-hand man.
3) CHESHIRE – One of the best femme fatales in the DCU.
4) COUNT VERTIGO – Cool powers, GREAT costume and I just love the idea of a manic-depressive supervillain.
5) KATANA – The team needs another woman, and how she hasn’t made into the Squad before now is beyond me. Katana is one of those great characters who blurs the line between hero & villain. Is Halo still in a coma? There’s your justification for Katana joining up right there – finding a way to revive her.
6) DOCTOR DESTINY – The team needs a potential powerhouse, and who better than a guy who can invade dreams and has faced down the entire Justice League?

I’m extremely tempted to put Nemesis in there, since I LOVE Nemesis, and he’s hardly ever done well (His original back up in Brave & The Bold & Ostrander’s Suicide Squad is about it, really). Ooh, and the Mark Shaw Manhunter would be great to have as a bounty hunter/liason. And of course, you need some periodic cannon fodder as well.

I am going with Steve Englehart’s “Avengers”. Stern did some great stuff, like introducing Namor. However, team books are not his greatest strength. His best stories are New York stories and the Avengers are a poor venue for those. On the other hand, Englehart does cosmic themes and those are perfect for the Avengers. Add to that his solid work on “West Coast Avengers” with a pretty inappropriate art team and it takes him over the top.

On the “Suicide Squad”, I’d start with Rick Flag and Bronze Tiger. Their dynamic both with Waller and each other was always interesting. Ben Turner was the best second-in-command in comics and Flag was most fun when he had the freedom to be a bit unstable. Add Deadshot, who has to be one of the coldest blooded characters in comic history. You need a second-tier, Silver Age-y villain who gets no respect. Captain Boomerang (either version) always fills that role nicely.

That leaves two roster spots. To sound out the classic super-team skills, you need at least one character who flies, one who is super-strong and one with some kind of psychic (or super-sensory) abilities. From a group dynamic perspective, you need someone really dangerous and someone with a grudge. Finally, you need at least one ‘redshirt’. Lashina (or Duchess) was fun. She fills strength and grudge slots. She is also semi-disposable. I loved the treatment of the Thinker, but he is dead. The Enchantress is too easy, since she was an original member.

Hmmm … I’m stumped.

Other possible Squad candidates (because I’m having way too much fun):

1) MIRROR MASTER – The Grant Morrsion Scottish mercenary version.
2) DEATHSTROKE THE TERMINATOR – Why? ‘Cause he’s stone cold awesome.
3) DOCTOR POLARIS – I’ve loved him ever since I’ve seen him in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
4) DOCTOR LIGHT – Extremely powerful, and it’d be fun to see him back on the Squad now that he’s a badass instead of a joke.
5) SCARECROW – Why? As Unca Cheeks put it so well:
“Anyone talks…
“… anyone bolts…
“… anyone turns traitor…
“… yours to… play with, Professor Crane.”
6) CLAYFACE III – Another great Marshall Rogers character design, plus, he disintegrates people!

Stern’s a better storyteller, a better writer. Englehart was more interesting and exciting conceptually. If I have to choose between the two I’ll pick Englehart because his run had more of an impact on me, but they were both great runs. I wonder what they’d have been like if Englehart had plotted, and Stern mapped the details of the story and scripted it!

Englehart’s stories had a scope and scale to them that suited The Avengers,, especially given how powerful his line-ups usually were. Loved the Mantis/Swordman angle, though the ending was a little weak. Great Kang stuff. Adding the Beast was brilliant. Some bad art, at times. Don Heck shouldn’t be allowed near superheroes.

Stern gave me Hercules and Namor, plus Buscema and Palmer together again. Never cared for Captain Marvel. Her strange powers confuse me. Needed more Hawwkeye.

My vote goes to Steve Englehart. I thought David Michelinie’s run was awesome as well.

Suicide Squad:
Poison Ivy
Harly Quinn

Got it as Talia with #2 – corporate heads are pretty rare to begin with (Lex, Talia, Tony, whatever), and then related to a villain pretty much lopped everyone else off.

Admittedly, wasn’t SURE until #4, but I was thinking one of the various LexCorp or Stark CEOs from question #1.

FOURTHWORLDER: When I started buying The Avengers, the first issue was the one introducing Captain Marvel. I’ve bought them faithfully every month since then. Stern’s run is more memorable for me than Eng’s mainly for that reason. The stories were more magical for me reading them as they came out than piecing them together as I bought the back issues. I never really “got” the Mantis storyline. Maybe it’s time to get out Eng’s run and read it as a whole.

Talia on #2.

Stern’s Avengers gets the nod from me, partially because the art was better. But Stern also had the classic “Under Siege” arc, and did some good character stuff with Namor, Captain Marvel and Black Knight. It’s still one of my favorite “Avengers” runs.

“Cover theme game: The three story titles form a haiku.”

Even if this isn’t it, I think dhole just won the whole column.

Stern by a landslide, to be honest. Englehart’s Avengers run is a lot better as backstory than it is to read.

My Suicide Squad:

The Calculator, who has been captured and is under constant observation in a top-security facility, personally watched by the Wall, acts as tactician, information gatherer, and communications specialist for:

Bane. Acts as field leader, has been promised US backing of an invasion of Santa Prisca as well as a pardon.

Killer Croc: Attempting to reform, is having trouble controlling his natural instinct to rip out people’s jugulars.

Metallo: Would kill everyone on the team in a heartbeat, except that the Calculator has him filled with viruses, trojan horses, and stealth programs to make him behave. (For now.)

Deadshot: Because I gotta. :)

Batgirl: Nobody trusts Cassie Cain anymore, not even her. She’s gone someplace where she knows she’ll be watched unrelentingly, to make sure that if she goes bad again, she’ll be surrounded by people who can take her down.

That’s neatly ironic, Av63, because the first Avengers I ever bought was 112, which first introduced Mantis. Pretty clear where we’re both coming from.

And I have to distance myself waaay far away from Englehart’s later West Coast run. Hard to find a clearer example of how you can’t go home again.

Daniel O' Dreams

April 23, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Uh so what is the answer to the cover theme game?
My best guess is literary refrences. I know Panic In The Sky and Alice In Wonderland are books. Is Meeting Of The Minds?

Like a lot of the posters here I grew up reading Sterns Avengers, so I’m REALLY biased toward his run. I heven’t read as much of Englehart’s but nothing I read of his hit me like that Masters of Evil storyline. Hyde torturing Jarvis in front of Cap and Hercules beaten into a coma. Over two decades later that feeling of shock sticks with me.

The haiku one is funny, and I’ll give it a cool point, but the “true” one, which I find way too amusing, has yet to be guessed, and I don’t reveal answers until they’re guessed!

Stern’s stuff is always really solid. He has fewer off-days than pretty much anyone in mainstream comics, and Avengers is no exception.

But Engelhart wins, handily, in heart, brains – And in terms of pushing the limits of what you can do with superhero comics.

In any case, (any case ever) I’ll generally go with the smarter, braver, more flawed piece of work over the more workmanlike. So Engelhart over Stern, here.

OK, OK, here’s the cover theme. Bruce Banner, Black Alice and the Fixer all hail from from Dayton, Ohio.


Isn’t that awesomely hilarious? :)

Hey, so were the Wright Brothers! And Kim Deal, and Jonathan Winters, and half the cast of The West Wing: Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe and Allison Janney. Coincidence? Well, probably.

Rats. I was sure the haiku would give me my first right guess ever.

Thanks for the point, though.

Englehart wins because it had Mantis.

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