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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 137

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 we take a look at Avengers #273-277, the acclaimed “Under Siege” storyline by Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer!


In Avengers #273, we see what the basic plan of Under Siege is – Baron Zemo forms an extra large team of villains as the Masters of Evil…

They attack the Avengers Mansion…

Next issue, after capturing an unsuspecting Black Knight and trapping Captain Marvel in another dimension, Captain America and the Wasp fall victim to the Avengers’ own defenses!

Hercules barrels in without thinking and pays the price…

Captain America and Black Knight suffer psychological torture…

but then, at the bedside of the hospitalized Hercules, Wasp decides to turn the tables on the villains…

which leads to this cover…

This storyline had it all – character-driven drama, action, suspense, fighting plus artwork by two comic book art legends, John Buscema and Tom Palmer!

Well worth a read – luckily it’s been collected into trade paperback!


Love Cap’s reaction to them breaking his original shield

Collected in a trade, and also coming later this year in Marvel’s Premiere Hardcover format. I’ve already got it on order, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I had #273 when I was a kid, and it boggled my mind that the Masters of Evil could just walk into Avengers Mansion and take over.

You’ve got an iconic Wasp moment there.

Good thing Hercules wasn’t really dead.

Yep, a great storyline overall.

I love this storyline. The scene at the end where Cap finally breaks down over the destruction of his personal items always gets me. The Olympus story that follows almost imediately after this one is almost as good, too.

probably my favorite Avengers story ever. great drama and tremendous art.

One of my two favourite arcs of the entire Roger Stern run… Ironically, the other one (the Trial of Hank Pym) ALSO featured a different Masters of Evil group put together by Egghead. But to me, this cemented what was easily the best Masters of Evil roster ever.

I loved Cap’s very human reaction at the end of the storyline. Stern was the only serious competition for Englehart as best Cap writer ever.

Now this … is a SIEGE! I miss the days when there was that fine balance between dialogue, thought ballloons and text boxes. Great work by Roger Stern and it';s good to see that Marvel finally decided to give him some work again. I could never figure out why it took Joe Q so long.

There’s a great build up to this story over several months before as reflected in the iasue selection for the new trade. It’s the pinacle of Stern’s Avengers work. For me my fave part is the issue where the Wasp and (the at the time much underused) Scott Lang Ant Man take on two of the stronger Masters attacking Hercules. I was always grieved that Scott didn’t become and Avenger after this.

But there is more to Stern’s run than this and it’s awful so little has been collected. There’s the Kang story that preceeds it,and some in the SWII hc. I want the Vision stuff traded as well as the terminus/firelord/nebula stories that follow !

“I’ll remember this, Zemo.” That’s some badassery.

Stern had my favorite run of any writer on the Avengers. His writing actually took advantage of the serialized format – subplots were carefully planted months in advance, and while this was a multi-issue storyline with clear continuity from issue to issue, each individual issue told its own story. Sadly it seems like that sort of writing is out of fashion these days.

This and the Busiel/Perez Ultron story are my two favorite Avengers stories. This story blew me away as a kid, and it still holds up today. Someone on the internet pointed out recently, in response to one of the many cheap deaths every comic event has thinking it adds drama and impact to a story, that Zemo ripping up Cap’s only picture of his mom had way more emotional impact than any of the “shocking” deaths in recent comics.

The follow-up story to this, where the Greek gods basically declare war on the Avengers because of what happened to Hercules is a great story as well, that always gets overshadowed by this one. I don’t think it’s been collected, but it’s worth tracking down the original issues.

Roger Stern, one of the unsung heroes of Comic Books.A few random thoughts:

Strength in numbers: I might be wrong, but Stern seems to have been the first writer to grasp the concept that bad guys do not fight fair. Every previous incarnation of the Masters of Evil had been roughly equal in numbers and power to the Avengers. Stern’s Zemo, however, wants the heroes to have no chance, and he assembles an army of villians that is top-heavy with powerhouses (Mister Hyde, Absorbing Man, the Wrecking Crew, Tiger Shark, etc.), not to mention the clever drugging of Hercules.A very simple idea, but Stern was the first writer on the AVENGERS to use it.

Buscema/Palmer: A great combination. Check out the beautifully rendered face on the Wasp when she declares revenge on the Masters.

Last year, I managed to track down the BIG Avengers stories, having never read, say, Kree-Skrull War, or the Korvac Saga, or even most of Busiek’s run, and I have to say, this was easily the best of them. Except, when you boil it all down, isn’t the Masters of Evil’s plan, “Wait till most of the powerful heroes are out of the house, then break in (and, time permitting, beat up their butler)”? And, in a similar fashion, isn’t the story resolved by “OH CRAP, THOR’S HOME!”

More like “Masters of Not Really Thinking Things Through.”

This is one of the greatest stories ever. I like how even with everything that’s going on, Stern still spent a lot of time on showing the personalities of many of the characters, particularly Zemo and Moonstone (who became one of my favourite villains solely because of this story).
As far as I’m aware, this was the first time the Absorbing Man and Titania appeared after Secret Wars. I’m so glad Stern kept their romance going. They’re both far more entertaining together than apart. It’s not unusual for two heroes to fall in love and then continue their romance for years, but you don’t see it with bad guys very often. Their relationships are usually very temporary, or present from their first appearance.
Sorry to give this away (everyone can stop reading if they don’t want to know what happens), but I really like the death of Blackout in this story. He may be the biggest victim in all this, being too psychotic to even clearly understand what was going on, and then used by Zemo and Moonstone until it kills him. More recently, I spotted him as one of the people breaking out of the Raft in New Avengers. I really hope it was a new Blackout and not the original. A character shouldn’t come back after a great death like that.

Yeah, it seemed like half the villains in that Raft storyline shouldn’t have been there due to continuity problems. I’m sure Tom Brevoort is a great guy and he seems to have a vast knowledge of Marvel Comics, but I wish he’d reign in Bendis and the other writers who just throw out random characters for the sake of it. Around the time of Under Siege, it was easy to follow say, Mr. Hyde’s story from one comic to the next. Now when someone appears there’s almost a 50% chance of it contradicting someone’s prior work. I know there are more books out now, but the writers and editors should really work harder on making sure stuff like that doesn’t happen.

A number of the villains who “shouldn’t have been there” in the Raft storyline were intentional, as they were meant to be early hints towards the Skrull infiltration disguised as continuity mistakes.

Oh alright. That’s actually pretty neat. My general point still stand however. Also, was that the Raft connected to the Skrull Invasion in the comics itself or just after the fact in creator interviews. Like did the Graviton skrull appear during the Secret Invasion series itself?

At the time they said there was a reason for at least one of the “should have been dead” characters to be there, so they likely had the basic idea of the Skrull Invasion in place, just not the specific game plan (as obviously Civil War changed the game plan dramatically).

I think it basically was “the person in shadows planning the prison break was a Skrull and there will be a big Skrull invasion in the future and some of the people on the Raft were Skrulls” and that was about it for the planning, letting everything else come naturally as the series progressed.

I don’t recall if Bendis has ever said if Spider-Woman was always going to be revealed as a Skrull. I bet no, but I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Love this storyline. The Avengers at their most awesome, especially with the cover to #276. (even if they let Dr. Druid in for a while–sigh!) It’s a nifty idea, taking out the team at the place where they’re at their most relaxed and using overwhelming force to do it and executed perfectly. The Stern/Buscema/Palmer team was one of the best in the book’s history and they did many memorable moments, from longer storylines to one-offs. Stern wrote the best Wasp, too.

Ok thanks Brian. I love that everything was planned, and I did enjoy some of the stories, but it ended up too messily plotted for me in the end.

Stern’s Wasp: Marvel’s best female character ?

Mary Warner: As far as I’m aware, this was the first time the Absorbing Man and Titania appeared after Secret Wars.

I think they cropped up in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ beforehand in a one-shot story, with Spidey wearing the black costume.

Actually, the Spider-Man story occured during Under Siege. Zemo sent them to pick up another member of his team at the airport, but Spidey prevented them from meeting him.

loved this story, but i have never liked John Buscema’s art in anything. My boss at the store i worked at shared my opinion. He game me the reason behind my dislike that i could never articulate.
He said ‘Buscema draws everyone so somber that when i’m done reading, i feel somber.’ i literally feel worse after seeing his artwork. He’s has some great storytelling skills, but i didn’t get the collected edition due to his art.

See, I loved John Buscema’s “classic” Avengers run (the earlier one, which I think was mostly written by Roy Thomas, maybe a little Stan early on) but this just makes me sad, with the crappy 80s printing, and the colour palette Shooter instituted to accommodate it…

Danjack, you are the first person that I have ever read who simply does not like John Buscema’s art. Indeed, prior to this, I would have thought that it was impossible for anyone to actually dislike Buscema’s classic style, as it is usually the more “eccentric” stylists (Ditko, Kirby, Infantino, Sienkiewicz,
frank Miller, etc.) who receive polorizing (I.e., people either love it or hate it) responses.

@ Trajan23:

Never liked his art on anything. Avengers, Silver Surfer, Conan. Everyone’s face looks the same with the downturned mouth & dour look. Sort of like everyone bit into a lemon or is trying their best Solomon Kane impression.

i think that he had talent in his storytelling, pacing, etc, but i would prefer if he did breakdowns and let someone else do the actual penciling.

Different strokes and all that….


“but i would prefer if he did breaddowns and let someone else do the actual penciling”: My understanding is that he was not doing full pencils on his 80s AVENGERS run.

Different Strokes: There is a lot of truth to that. Neal Adams has said that he was initially repulsed by Jack Kirby’s ugly style. Of course, he got over it (Neal Adams also once said to Stan Lee that John Buscema was MARVEL’S best artist…).I well recall thinking that Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL work was hideous when I first saw it. In particular, I remember simply hating how he would draw lips and noses. As was the case with Adams and Kirby, I eventually learned to appreciate Miller’s style as time went on.

Legendarily good story from one of the best Avengers runs. You have to expect it to place well on the Greatest Roger Stern Stories Ever Told poll.

[…] A Year of Cool Comics – Day 137 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

“You have to expect it to place well on the Greatest Roger Stern Stories Ever Told poll.”

#1 qualifies I guess ;)

I agree with all of you who say this is probably the greatest Avengers story ever. If not THE best, then one of the best two or three. I also agree that the following Olympus storyline was right up there, as well! The characterization is these stories is off the charts! NOBODY does characterization like this anymore. Sad.

I refuse to believe ANYONE didn’t like Big John B’s art! It’s like sacrilege!

The first Avengers storyline I ever read, Under Siege blew me away, the brutality and genuine pathos. It’s still my favorite Avengers storyline.

I have to hand it to Marvel marketing at the time. I grew up in a small town without even a bookstore, much less a comic shop. There were a few magazine racks that had comics.

However, in a small local department store, there were 3-packs of Marvel comics for sale, all from the months around the 25th anniversary of Marvel. They were a few months behind current comics on stands. In those packs I would discover the Mutant Massacre, Under Siege, etc. and was completely hooked. These weren’t juvenile rags; they were intense action and intrigue.

I doubt I develop a lifelong love of the characters and medium if it weren’t for those 3-packs.

randypan the goat boy

May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

In my opinion a perfect example of a great 80’s comic. Its kind of funny to think that if this story had come out in 2006 instead of 1986 we would have had a very different comic story. This was at the point when villains were more interested in taking their enemys captive. In todays comic world there would have been a body count similar to Infinite Crisis. and i do believe jarvis would have recieved a similar [ahem] beating by mr hyde as did another “invisible’ member of a superteam that a mr hyde was involved with. ” HEY JARVIS…YOU SHURE DO GOT A PURTY MOUTH BOY”

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