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A Year of Cool Comics – Day 129

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today, as a sort of response to yesterday’s Ultron story, we take a look at the Count Nefaria storyline from Avengers #164-166, by writer Jim Shooter and artist John Byrne.

Enjoy!

Stories like this one really make you appreciate what the Avengers had in Jim Shooter. Not only did he make a point to fill the title with a number of characters where he could develop their personalities with a pretty free rein (Beast and Wonder Man, in particular), but he also made sure to keep the books filled with not just action, but epic action that befitted a gathering of the world’s greatest superheroes!

And John Byrne’s artwork really shined with both of those categories – the smaller, character-driven moments and the big, bombastic fight scenes.

The story begins in Avengers #164, where the Lethal Legion are working for Count Nefaria. They attack the Avengers…

After some fighting, the Legion begins to lose their powers…

What an awesome cliffhanger!

The next issue, the Avengers are getting their asses handed to them by Nefaria…

and Nefaria thinks he might even take them all down…

Luckily, Iron Man shows up and they are rescued, but their relief is short (note the little bits of character work where the Avengers bemoan Iron Man’s absence from their ranks even though he was technically the leader of the team)…

this leads to a SECOND awesome cliffhanger…

Sooo cool. Byrne absolutely NAILED it.

The Thor/Nefaria battle is tremendous – here’s a snippet…

In a cool bit, the Vision is brought back to action to help…

The ending of the issue is really cool, but I won’t spoil it here. Go search for these issues! They’re great!

20 Comments

I love that panel of Thor popping in out of nowhere, his hammer already about to slam into Nefaria’s face. Great stuff.

1) This right here is THE AVENGERS. I hope the new heroic age will bring back the same feel, but I don’t have my hopes up.

2) Beast is my favorite character of all time and his Avengers persona is probably my favorite time for him, but I never realized how creepy it is for him to be a lothario. A hairy ape creature making out and possibly having sex with multiple human women, wow.

I just mentioned this in the Bride of Ultron thread but I’ll write it again here: I loved that Wonder Man costume!

Curse you, Nefaria!

I also really liked Shooter’s character work. I related with the insecure Wonder Man and I like that subplot with Iron Man shirking chairman duties in particular. What was nice is that it didn’t drag on too long (about six issues in all, I think) before Shellhead and Cap finally talked it over. But the tension was nice while it lasted.

Also, Shooter wrote a very cool and creepy Vision.

And speaking of creepy, I agree with Philip about the Beast. This is the version of the character I fell in love with but as a kid I didn’t quite clue in what a slutty little ape he was back then. It’s a little weird to read now. Not that I’m prejudiced against mutants or anything…

“Verily, thine hour of judgement hath come!”

That there is what I would call A+ level badassery.

In addition to being one of the best editors in comic book history, Jim Shooter was a pretty damn good storyteller. Byrne did a terrific job drawing this one; I LOVE his Thor here!

When this first came out, I was floored by the Byrne artwork, like the Pérez issues before that, and even the Sal Buscema-drawn Graviton story before that. It took some time before I realized that the common thread here was the Pablo Marcos inks. He added his own flavor to the series, without overpowering the pencils. He definitely deserves some of the credit.

Yeah, that’s what I was talking about! AWESOME story, even if it’s just a glorified superhero slugfest (the best ever, IMHO).

And John Byrne is and has always been a great costume designer. The Nefaria costume is quite impressive, perfect for a Superman-like egomaniacal villian!

Interestingly enough, having started buying comics during this run (a few issues later actually, but I was able to get some back issues including the one with this story), I’ve always thought of Iron Man as the Avengers team leader. The fact that Captain America is always considered the Avengers leader by default irks me!

(Hank Pym and Wasp were no slouches either…)

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

This was one of my early avengers purchases (as a very young kid) and its fabulousness inspired me 6 years later to save enough of my early teen dollars get a subscription mailed to my home… unfortunately by then it was in the dreadful 230s or so with hit and mostly miss success…

When I think of the Avengers I always think of this, the Korvac saga, Ultron and the like that seemed to me to be high adventure, high drama, high value issues.

Has this been collected in TPB?

You know he means business because he puts the first letter of his name right there on his belt buckle.

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This, together with the earlier “Bride of Ultron” are damn near perfect Avengers stories. In fact, pretty much all of my favorite Avengers stories are those, pre-issue 200, penned by Englehart, Shooter or Michelinie and drawn by Perez or Byrne – they’re always filled with bombastic spandex-clad action combined with great character work.

“Has this been collected in TPB?”

I don’t think this story has EVER been reprinted in the US. TPB or not.

Which is a damn shame, I tell you.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Should be in the next Essential Avengers (8) which can’t come soon enough !

And, if memory serves, Thor coming out of nowhere was a hint to the Collector storyline, which was a lead-in to the Michael Saga!

Great stuff!

Man, this is why I always say the Golden Age of Marvel was the ’60s and ’70s!
This is awesome!

[…] Comics Should be Good: A Year of Cool Comics – Day 129 […]

Do they have windows at the Avengers Mansion just so Jarvis has something to clean up after an enemy smashes through them?

Shooter, Byrne and Marcos are on the top of their game here…but so is Denise Wohl. She had a very distinct style that I enjoyed thoroughly.

Now, the last panel of #165 – did Dave Cockrum put some pencils in there? I know Byrne poses, and that last panel isn’t one of his.

I think that Jim Shooter has to be one of the best Avengers writers ever. So many of the stories that I remember as defining the Avengers were from his time and many of them have never been matched since. One other thing is the clarity of the stories. They were not bogged down by a million different subplots and outside crossovers. Instead, the stories had a few key subplots but stayed on target with awesome villains and battles.

And yes, Thor’s sudden appearance in this issue was part of his being plucked out of time by the Collector to aid the Avengers whenever it looked like they might be beaten.

Ronald Kearschner

October 18, 2010 at 2:27 am

I can’t believe anyone is offended by the Beast as an Avenger living like a rock star. A nice contrast to how “regular” mutants are treated. Besides, am I the only guy who had a crush on Tigra?

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