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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 149

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 an acclaimed “done in one” issue of the Avengers, spotlighting their butler, Jarvis, by Bob Harras, Bob Hall and Kyle Baker!


Avengers #280 followed the events of “Under Siege,” where the Masters of Evil took over Avengers Mansion and then brutalized Jarvis in front of Captain America in an attempt to get a rise out of Cap.

Now that Jarvis is recovering, he has to debate whether he even WANTS to stick around…

Harras has a very nice bit between Jarvis and the Wasp, as we peel back the facade Wasp had about herself back then (well, that’s the ret-con version of “Stan Lee just didn’t give her much thought back then”)…

Seeing Jarvis think back to “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” was very cool….

Plus you can feel the pain from the time when Jarvis himself was viewed as a traitor!!

Finally, after examining a few more rough spots in Avengers history (as well as some good ones), Jarvis finally makes his decision…

Very strong one-shot issue. Harras showed the character work that would later be a major part of his own Avengers run five years later and Kyle Baker showed even here, just working on finishes, that he was a great and unique talent (Bob Halls’ breakdowns were fine, as well).

Avengers fans have long seen this issue as sort of a “hidden secret” among Avengers fans, but now you folks know about it, too!


Gosh, you just can’t keep a good Butler down.

A great choice, Brian. As you observed, this truly is a hidden gem, a very moving riff on the old “They also serve who only stand and wait” (Milton, Sonnet XIX–no one ever seems to cite poor Milton when they quote this).

This is a great story.

Once again we’re reminded here of how much Bucky’s death affected Steve. He used to question himself so much, always worrying that a decision he made might result in the death of somebody else. Captain America may appear incredibly self-assured at first glance, but those doubts were always bubbling beneath the surface, and that resulted in him always thinking through his plans, even when he had to improvise on the spot. (Unlike Iron Man, say, who tends to more impulsive and thinks less of consequences until it’s too late, and who then tends to overreact as he tries to deal with his mistakes.) Bucky was Cap’s Gwen, and his death was a major factor in making Steve the leader he is now.
I still can’t understand why anyone would want to undo such a crucial part of his history.

But yeah, I know. This is a story about Jarvis. Sorry about going off subject.

So why would the producers think it’s a good idea to replace a great character like this with a silly computer programme?

I still can’t understand why anyone would want to undo such a crucial part of his history.

Bucky turning out to be alive doesn’t undo anything about Cap’s development. Cap only discovered Bucky was alive years after the fact, so all the character development based on him thinking that Bucky was dead still happens. What does Bucky being dead add to Cap NOW? Bucky’s death hasn’t been a major factor in Cap’s life in decades (and decades).

issue #????

You could be right. I still haven’t forced myself to read any Brubaker Captain America yet. I have seen Bucky Cap in the Avengers, and he hasn’t had any personality there at all, which makes his resurrection seem pretty pointless. But yeah, I do realise he might be a great character in the Captain America series.
(You said Bucky’s death hadn’t been a major factor in Cap’s life in decades. I wasn’t aware of that. The only time I read Captain America with any regularity was in the ’80s. It seemed to be mentioned quite a bit in the Avengers, but I went over a decade without reading that, as well.)
I’m sorry. I didn’t want to start any fights here.

Third Man– The issue shown here is Avengers #280.

Mary Warner, I strongly recommend that you read Brubaker’s run on CAPTAIN AMERICA.His take on Steve Rogers and Bucky is vastly superior to Bendis’ take.

I’ll say that everybody’s right, almost.
1.Bucky being alive doesn’t undo what Cap went through (although it’s inaccurate to say his death wasn’t a major factor in the character’s life in “decades and decades.” Writers always went to that well. And Cap even met Bucky’s ghost.).
2. Brubaker’s Captain America is vastly superior to Bendis’, and it makes for some pretty good comics.
3. I still wish he hadn’t been resurrected, and that those pretty good comics didn’t exist.

Writers always went to that well.

Replace “always” with “rarely” and I’d agree.

These days, this issue probably would be a four-part mini-series (perhaps DARK REIGN: JARVIS’S DECISION) with lots of double-page spreads of Avengers leaping into action. Total cost would be $12, maybe $16.

In other words, this issue shows why decompressed comics suck and compressed comics rule.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

May 31, 2010 at 7:02 am

I strngyl suspect Jarvs was swapped for an AI because a) the AI was the only thing regularly appearing in the comics at the time and b) they wanted to avoid the inevitable comparisons to the most famous butler/valet in superhero fiction from comics-illiterate critics. (I recall the New Yorker’s critic complaining about Batman Begins: “Since when does Batman know martial arts?”)

Omar Karindu:

I think that you are spot on regarding the cinematic use of the AI Jarvis, especially in terms of reason B (comics illiterate critics making inevitable Alfred comparisons). I well recall the producers of the FANTASTIC FOUR film worrying that the film would be perceived as an INCREDIBLES ripoff. For that matter, I am fairly certain that film’s treatment of Doom was meant to head off similar allegations regarding Darth Vader (Despite the fact that Doom’s influence on Vader is more or less openly acknowleged).

This story starred the Skrull Jarvis pretending to be loyal and sentimental so no one would suspect him. The real Jarvis would’ve said, “Take this job and shove it!”

Yay for one-shots!

Of course, pre-Crisis, Alfred’s father was Thomas Wayne’s butler, and his name was “Jarvis” :)

An excellent choice. An excellent story.

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