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CSBG Archive

Nostalgia November Day 30 — Avengers #369

Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s Avengers #369.

The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.

avengers369Avengers #369 by Bob Harras, Steve Epting, and Jan Duursema is a shitty comic that I wished I hadn’t reread today. I feel no nostalgia for this comic. I didn’t even like it when I was a kid. The idea of the X-Men and Avengers teaming up appealed to me, the foil cover told me it was important, and the execution was utter fucking crap. The idea of discussing why this comic is so bad depresses me, honestly. I can find no redeeming qualities in it. The story centres on characters best left forgotten, the art is rushed, inconsistent, and ugly, and the writing is cliche-ridden, needlessly convoluted, needlessly wordy, and a chore to slog through.

People have remarked that I had a lot of bad comics in my childhood and it’s true. I’ve gone back and read a lot of comics I didn’t enjoy now (and didn’t necessarily enjoy then). I haven’t tallied it up, but it could be even half of the books I’ve read this month. But… so what? Wouldn’t it be weird if I liked all of these books? The point of the exercise was to randomly pick books that, for the most part, were randomly chosen when I was a kid. I bought my comics at convenience stores for the most part, picking up whatever looked interesting in the moment — same when I went to the comic shop. It was random selection determined sometimes by a predetermined idea of what I wanted, but not most of the time. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that I was open to new things, willing to try out a comic because I never had before, because it attracted me in some way… not only that, but it’s good that I read so many bad comics. How else can one develop critical faculties? You need to experience the good and the bad, to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s where my true nostalgia lies: that openness, that willingness to try new things, to be fearless in picking up a random comic with no pre-conceptions… I can’t do that now. I know too much, I’m too set in my ways, I have too many biases and conceptions of what constitutes a quality comic. And that’s fine, but it was nice to revisit those days of freedom and innocence. Maybe not the books from those days really, but what they represent. I would never buy an Avengers #369 today… but I did then and it could have turned out to be a good comic. I was willing to give it a chance to prove itself then. I don’t do that enough now. Few of us do, I think.

It’s been fun. Even today. Maybe we’ll do it again next year.

24 Comments

Since we’re in the gimmick cover state of mind…

I was flipping through some Direct Currents from ’94; can someone explain to me — a non-artist — what “fifth color ink, spot varnished” means?

Thanks

The Crazed Spruce

November 30, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Y’know, if I hadn’t lost my comic collection in a house fire seven years ago, I’d probably do the same thing. Not sure whether or not I’d blog about it, but you never know….

It’s been an entertaining series. Thanks for sharing the memories, Chad. :)

Oh man, I had this one, I never really read Avengers but because of that crappy Bloodties crossover bs I had this…and you’re right, it was terrible…and totally forgettable, except for that bizarre chrome cover.

For what it’s worth – I loved this Nostalgia November series you did Chad – I hope you do it again next year. I felt like your experiences were very similar to what mine would be if I were to pick randomly from my boxes (although I’d have way too many X-titles and people would be bitching about that).

It was an interesting experiment. One I really enjoyed reading about.

I was flipping through some Direct Currents from ’94; can someone explain to me — a non-artist — what “fifth color ink, spot varnished” means?

Thanks

Essentially, it’s better computer coloring. Back in the 90s, they would advertise when they had fancier coloring on books (as fancier coloring means fancier paper, which usually meant a higher cost for the issue, so they want to make it clear what you’re getting for the extra cost – or, if they did not raise the cost of the issue, what great stuff they were giving you for FREE!).

Or, here’s another definition from “International Paper Knowledge Center” (http://glossary.ippaper.com/default.asp?req=glossary/term/837)

“The use of another color in addtion to the four process colors (CMYK). The fifth color is a non-process or premixed ink color used to enchance an area of the page. It can be used to print a color that would be hard to achieve with the four process colors.”

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

December 1, 2009 at 12:07 am

Even at the time, Bloodties was pretty hated for being a lot of loud and messy nothing.

“The use of another color in addtion to the four process colors (CMYK). The fifth color is a non-process or premixed ink color used to enchance an area of the page. It can be used to print a color that would be hard to achieve with the four process colors.”

Yeah, it allowed them to use more and better colors.

In 1993, DC used five colors on their Superman titles, raising the books a quarter each to offset the increase in coloring quality (and the paper to go along witht he coloring).

I liked Bloodties for the concept….but its execution was very very messy…too bad no one learned from that everyone in your audience are not brain dead.* Come on, the Avengers at the time knew Professor X was a telepath. Hell Beast was a valued member, how is the U.S. Agent THAT dumb? I was a sucker for the Dane, Sersi, and Crystal love triangle…but to drone on about that as you are looking for Luna? Come on…

On the bright side, they had certain voices down cold. Quicksilver, War Machine and Cortez were home runs. And this did set up Exodus as a bada$$ and set up Fatal Attractions type repercussions well

*(see Maximum Carnage, Final Crisis, Invasion, Infinity Crusade et al for interesting crossover ideas just just didn’t mesh well)

Bernard the Poet

December 1, 2009 at 3:34 am

Thanks Chad, this has been a very good series.

You make a good point, about how as we get older, we allow our biases and preconceptions dictate and reading and viewing habits. When I was in my twenties, I lived in Italy and my local cinema showed films in English on a Monday night. Being starved of English, I always went without fail to this show. I never knew the genre of the film they were showing, who directed it, who was starring in it or whether it had been a critical or financial success (this was before the internet), and consequently, I saw a fair few stinkers. But I also saw some quite brilliant films, which I would never have dreamed of going to see normally.

So Chad, thanks again. I think I’m going to go to my local comic shop this afternoon and try to pick something up at random. You never know, I might get a pleasant surprise.

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 1, 2009 at 6:04 am

The only time I’ve read The Avengers back in the day, was the John Byrne run (short-lived, if I remember correctly).

Then the Avengers have been “Bendis”-ized since then.

I’m sad november is done. Mostly because that means exams start soon but also because Nostalgia November is finished (but it will be back, right?). I would definetly be back for more if this was a recuring thing, Chad. Maybe next year you can pick books from another time of your life? See how your choice of comics evolved and to see if the overall quality of the books you baught improved or not. Heck, you could pick from the nineties and not only will you be nostalgic, you might get depressed too, ha! (I kid, the nineties wheren’t ALL bad).

So how did Jan Durrsema’s art look in this issue? I’ve followed her work on Star Wars: Republic and Legacy for years now, and I think it’s excellent. OTOH, I remember seeing her work in some book from the 90s (Hulk, I think) and not really thinking much of it. It’s funny how artists progress over time.

“Spot-Varnish” refers to covers with areas shinier than others.

“fifth color”, as said, is an additional pre-mixed color. Neon colors, for example, like on the “Bloodlines” annuals, since the “regular” colors can’t be mixed together to make neons.

This series (Nostalgia November, not the Avengers) makes me think about all the comics in my collection that I read once and will never read again for any reason, and all the comics that I loved as a child and still do today that I wish I had more free time so I could enjoy them more often.

Thanks for any and all kind words.

Duursema’s art here isn’t good. But, I think it was last minute, help Steve Epting finish the book on time work, so it’s easy to forgive.

I agree with you that it’s hard to pick up stuff you know nothing about, and that’s part of the fun of anything, really (I used to go to record stores and buy tapes from bands I had never heard of, and found some pretty keen stuff as a result). The biggest reason I don’t do it anymore: Money. When comics were (relatively) cheap, even when they were a $1.50 or so, I could jump into something with more abandon. Now, I’m taking the chance on getting something for 3 or even 4 dollars and hating it. No thanks. It’s unfortunate.

LouReedRichards

December 1, 2009 at 9:21 am

Thanks for the nostalgia trip, it was a good ride, even if many of the comics were pure crap.
In a way you kids of the 90’s had it better. The crap comics in the 80’s were still crap, but really bland, mediocre crap. Those 90’s ones were zestfully, gleefully crappy! If you’re gonna suck, might as well pull out all the stops.

I know it can be somewhat depressing to go back and look at your collection and think “man, I read that?”.
But, like you said, it certainly is necessary in developing critical faculties.

You also nailed what it feels to be young and obsessed with comics. Each trip to the comics shop or grocery store was exciting. Who knew what you’d find?
Sadly, I hardly ever make it to the comics shops now, and mostly gripe to myself about how expensive everything is. I still enjoy my comics, but they’ll never have the limitless potential and time shrouded mystery that they once did.

“I still enjoy my comics, but they’ll never have the limitless potential and time shrouded mystery that they once did.”

This. This to the power of ten. Comics used to be this whole world to me. I once got in a crazy screaming fight with my father because he wouldn’t let me (at 16) drive myself to the comics shop in a massive snow storm to get my comics (some issue I was particularly excited about was coming out – probably some lame X-book). I honestly felt wholly crushed that he had taken away (or at least delayed) my dreams. Now, I certainly these days I don’t want to be so crazy that I act that way towards anyone, least of all my father, but my god, the passion I felt for comics. That was something that I really do wish I could get back.

I really enjoyed this series. I sadly have the whole Bloodlines as well since I was collecting X-Men at the time.

@Greg: pretty much. When I started to branch out from the X-Men comics there was a whole variety of comics and while not all of the ones I got were good (and the good ones might not seem as good anymore), the price was right to take some chances. Now I pretty much only get stuff after they’ve been in trades for a while and read reviews since I can’t really afford to just try out a series.

@LouReedRichards: True enough. I own the whole Cap Amercia sries from Heroes Reborn and while it wasn’t good (and insanly decompressed) it had such energy to it that just elevated the work at the time. There was a lot of expirimenting with ideas at the time that even an aweful book (and there were a good amount but not as much as people exagorate) had a neat idea here and there.

For example, Bloodlines here was rough but damn if Exodus wasn’t cool or the idea of dealing with Magneto and his human (flat-scan) grandaughter (I may have to crack open these issues sometime soon since last I read them was like 1997 or so).

Thanks for the ink explanations.

Great job, Chad…I love a good comic book nostalgia trip.

It’s not too late. You can continue doing this through December.

ugh, i had this comic as well, as i worked in a comics shop & got stuff discount. About 5 years ago, i went through all my comics and got rid of everything that i thought was just garbage & this stuff went. i kept my run of x-men from 95 to 215 abouts, and lots of other stuff that i either liked or thought was significant enough to keep [like Gambit’s 1st app]. If i thought it was crap, it was gone.
i still have 17 long boxes of stuff & still enjoying going to my LCS on wednesdays, but if i miss a week or two, i know that i’ll be okay.
As i just got married, i’m paring it down again & only keeping those things which i truly value & not all the Knightfall/Knightsquest/KnightsEnd type stuff. i enjoy it, but will never get back to reading it.
Thanks Chad for some great columns. Sorry that this issue was one of the most painful to re-read. Hope we do this again sometime.
DFTBA

When did this comic originally come out, and can we see a scan of its interior art? If it came out in the ’90s, the Steve Epting art should at least be good…

Steve’s art was good back then felicity, though at times, he was overpowered by Tom Palmer’s inking…his work a few years later on X-factor was pretty good, and once Howard Mackie starts writing, Epting’s art is probably the ONLY redeeming thing about those issues.

I still enjoy my comics, but they’ll never have the limitless potential and time shrouded mystery that they once did

I hear this. I have vivid, vivid memories of rushing home from the store with the first Age of Apocalypse issue (I was probably 14 or 15 at the time) and just devouring it, and loving every minute of it. Then I had to go to my neighbors house to babysit, and when I got back, I read it again. And loved it just as much.

I still read comics, and much better comics (and some worse ones…) but I certainly don’t read with them with the same fervor and excitement as I did back in the day.

In the same way Chad has nostalgia for his willingness to try anything back in the day, I have nostalgia for the way I just LOVED everything, and had no idea that it probably wasn’t very good and I shouldn’t enjoy it that much. When I re-read stuff from back then, even bad stuff, I can still enjoy it for recalling that wonder and ignorant enjoyment it triggered back in the day.

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