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Five Goofiest Moments in the First Five Issues of Avengers Unplugged

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at Avengers Unplugged #1-5, the first five issues of a mid-90s Avengers spin-off that was part of a short-lived line of 99 cent comics designed to tie-in to Marvel’s top superhero books. This is where we got the greatness that was Untold Tales of Spider-Man, but it is also where we got Avengers Unplugged. #1-2, 4-5 were written by Glenn Herdling and #3 was written by Mike Lackey. They were drawn by M.C. Wyman/Sandu Florea (#1-3, 5) and John Statema/Scott Koblish (#4).

Before I begin, let me note that I did a bit a few years back on Avengers Unplugged #2 and Dave Campbell did a bit a few years back on Avengers Unplugged #3, so stuff from both of those bits will be repeated here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Where’s Todd Klein when you need him?

I actually don’t know if this would be the job of the letterer, but whoever’s job it was to make the letters on this sign in #3 not look bizarre dropped the ball…

Is that you, Plastic Man?

In #5, Monica Rambeau is forced to attack Genis-Vell. During the fight, for some reason, his face changes appearance…

There’s no in-story reason for it. I think it was just bad artwork.

You have such a way with words, Hank!

In #2, while fighting Graviton, Giant-Man tried to come up with a quip worthy of Spider-Man, instead he came up with…

Johnny? Is that really you?

In #3, Johnny Storm makes a cameo and…well…M.C. Wyman is very kind to Johnny (or perhaps the steroids are kicking in – this WAS the 1990s, after all).

At least Johnny looked good…

In #2, like Johnny above, Hercules also looked different from normal. Unlike Johnny, for Hercules it was not for the better…

Yikes. You also have to love the perspective in that panel. Hercules looks like he is a giant and Deathcry is a little person.

I don’t think that’s how “control of the elements” works.

In #3, Crystal uses her “control of the elements” to somehow change their evening outfits into their costumes.

Also, you, of course, have to love Black Widow uttering the phrase, “you go girl.”

5. Perhaps they didn’t want credit?

Besides the goofiness of Graviton’s new costume at the beginning of #2…

note that somehow both the writer AND the inker had their names misspelled.

That’s a pretty impressive feat!

4. Giant-Stilt-Man?

In #4, either Stilt-Man has suddenly developed the power to grow in size, or John Statema had some issues with perspective…

Either way, goofy stuff.

3. Levers are magical things…

In #3, Black Widow somehow uses a lever to launch a CAR at a bad guy!

2. Who’s who?

In #2, Graviton’s powers have gone nuts, so a bunch of innocent civilians have been sucked into the sky by his gravitational powers. Deathcry is flying around in the Quinjet trying to get all of the innocents on to the Quinjet (so if Graviton’s powers go away, they won’t all fall to their deaths).

With that in mind, check out how the right half of this page makes absolutely zero sense….

1. Is that you, Fluffy?

The number one moment has to be this one, which is one of my favorite moments of all-time. Deathcry is asked by a little boy to rescue his cat named Fluffy. The next panel (which is on the SAME PAGE as the previous panel) she delivers a little girl her teddy bear named Fluffy!

How awesome is that?!?

57 Comments

Man, ’90s goofy is way different from Silver Age goofy.

Avengers: Unplugged is not so much goofy as just terrible, terrible comics. If you had to compile a list of why they are bad, you’d be there for years. One of the few series where I can’t think of a single positive thing to say.

I’d classify these examples as not goofy, but excellent examples of comics at their worst. The “imaging” of so many comics back in the 90′s makes it hard to revisit many mainstream titles of that time.

And M C Wyman should never have been hired let alone been given a comic to draw.

And yet somehow, despite all that, Avengers Unplugged was still better than Fantastic Four Unplugged.

That “using elemental control to change clothes” bit will come up again if you do a goofiest moments of the All-New, All-Different X-Men.

I have to agree. I’ve been enjoying the “Goofy” series but this, this is just fish in a barrel. More sad than amusing.
(It also makes me feel bad for Kurt Busiek and Patrick Oliffe. They *did* do excellent work on the Spider-Man series but how did it stand a chance after it got lumped in with dreck like this or the terrible “secret origins” or FF series?)

Seems the writer was confusing the “elements” (ie; the periodic table of elements) with the “elements” (i.e; fire, water, earth, air).

Silly 1990′s writers.

Otherwise, a lot of these mistakes could be attributed to bad letterers.

They should do a follow-up “Quest for Fluffy!” storyline, with the original writer and artist trying to figure out where that damn cat went.

I have to agree. I’ve been enjoying the “Goofy” series but this, this is just fish in a barrel. More sad than amusing.
(It also makes me feel bad for Kurt Busiek and Patrick Oliffe. They *did* do excellent work on the Spider-Man series but how did it stand a chance after it got lumped in with dreck like this or the terrible “secret origins” or FF series?)

I don’t think you’re giving readers enough credit. I think the average reader was savvy enough to know the difference between the quality of Avengers and FF Unplugged, and Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which was much better (although definitely overrated, and a book I was not fan of overall despite having some decent moments). I felt Dan Slott’s Spider-Man/Human Torch mini did a better job of what Untold Tales was going for.

Obviously, Deathcry didn’t know what a kitty was and figured the teddy bear was close enough. The young brunette boy in the red shirt, having just been transformed into a blonde girl in a purple shirt by the power of the elements, was unwilling to correct her.

Sean, I think that the instance in the All New, All Different X-Men when Phoenix used her TK to change costumes is more forgivable. It was demonstrating that Phoenix was way uber powerful that her TK could move molecules around.

theno

It seems Herdling was using the full-script method of doing all the writing, including the dialogue, before any of the art was done. That seems to be the only thing I can think of to explain some of those wonky mistakes up there. Like he wrote about a cat, put that dialogue in, and the artist drew something else, maybe because he was too lazy to photoreference a cat? Full script also probably accounts for that Deathcry dialogue that makes no sense. I’m guessing Wyman drew something that didn’t match the dialogue and the letterer wasn’t sure where to put the word balloons as a result.

Pete Woodhouse

May 10, 2011 at 7:12 am

Black Widow’s (I assume it’s her) speech: “Our ever-adapting man-child is running loose in a super-powered temper tantrum.”
Comics blogging in a nutshell!

I see no problem with the elemental control of costume changes. If there’s one thing I learned from the movies, it’s that the fifth element is “supermodel.”

Rollo Tomassi

May 10, 2011 at 7:52 am

You, sir, are a brave brave man for slogging through those issues again.

I don’t know whether to salute you or pity you.

Avengers Unplugged – the gift that keeps on giving comedy gold. :)

My god, has there ever been a time in the history of comics that had worse artwork than was published in the 1990′s???!!!!!!

Mike Loughlin

May 10, 2011 at 8:24 am

The last moment isn’t goofy. That’s just how MC Wyman draws a cat.

No, the last moment is black humor. What the previous panel (not reprinted here) revealed is that the little girl is blind.

Although, come to think of it, Mike Loughlin might be correct. See how Wyman’s male figures look vaguely man-like only what a man would look like if he was an over-inflated balloon? See how that exact same description applies to the female characters’ breasts?
That really *could* be Wyman’s version of a cat….

Giant Man was so close, too: two more “downs” and he’d have had a perfectly good Schoolhouse Rock reference going…

Wow tryuly terrible stuff not goofy just pathetic.

By the way, if you take a look at the Fluffy sequence again, you’ll also see that in the second panel, the little boy has somehow transformed into what appears to be an entirely different little girl — blond hair instead of brown and a completely different shirt as well — collared instead of a hooded sweatshirt.

Oh, if only my copies of these issues weren’t in storage…

Now in the artists defense the car Black Widow is launching is a toy car. It can’t be more than 6 or 7 feet long.and the wheels are barely larger than her head.

But in number 3…does the bad guy have a foot at the end of his left arm?

Richard John Marcej: “My god, has there ever been a time in the history of comics that had worse artwork than was published in the 1990?s???!!!!!!”

In my lifetime, no. And I’m an old git. You’d have to go back to the so-called Golden Age to see worse artwork. (And I’d argue that the page rate was so poor and the factory conditions that they had create under in the ’30s and ’40s made the production of a decent comic largely impossible.)

The 1990s was a disaster of titanic proportions until the Heroes Return series started.

Wow, these comics were SO sloppy (in everything from the plot to the art to the dialogue) that you wonder how they were even approved for publication. Lazy editors?

Comments:

There IS an in-story explanation for Genis’ facial contortions (though honestly it was more likely just bad art) his force field has shrinking on him, so he’d look like someone wearing a plastic bag tightened over his head, I guess. My problem is with the “antimatter particles” thing. Once again comics writers cannot be bothered to research even basic antimatter facts. One word: Kaboom.

-Btw was this the story where Monica allowed Genis to take over the Captain Marvel name (which she never had a right for to start with?)

What’s so goofy about Giant Man’s quip? Did he *specifically* claim he would sound as funny as Spider-Man? If not, it’s just generic superhero talk.

Btw, Crystal’s powers are based *on chemistry* not magic (eg. she controls fire by manipulating oxygen, etc.) True, she doesn’t have Sersi’s transmutation powers, but considering most heroes in the Marvel Universe have “unstable molecules” costumes (courtesy of Reed Richards) their clothes changing form when their powers activate is hardly a plot hole.

(Btw, you have to love Natasha’s gravity-defying skirt that prevents pantie shots no matter how she flips around. Approved By The Comics Code @ Authority! :D )

Also, how the hell does a normal-human strength (and weight) woman flip a car into the air just by landing on a lever?

Umm, whas the kid that asked for the kitten the same one who got the teddy bear (he/she’s blonde now) Maybe they were BOTH named Fluffy!

Travis Pelkie

May 10, 2011 at 9:31 am

Oh god, I have the first 3 issues of this. And yes, they are terrible.

How did the “male superhero strip club” from issue 3 not make the cut? That was one goofy ass comic run, apparently.

The worst part, even beyond getting lumped in with this crap, was that Untold Tales of SpiderMan sold poorly. Even though it was one of the best books around, and was only 99 cents!!! Argh!!!

Sorry to pile on here, but these are extraordinarily bad comics. I bought a lot of crap in the 90′s, but I’m glad to say I didn’t waste any money on these books. Really, how did these get out the door?

None of this is goofy. Looks like your digging real hard, but definitely not goofy!!

“My god, has there ever been a time in the history of comics that had worse artwork than was published in the 1990?s???!!!!!!”

I’d say that Marvel isn’t out of the doghouse even yet! Anyone see the cover for the Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man? That’s got to be one of the ugliest images of Spidey ever! Is he supposed to be dancing there or what? What a bizarre foot, and oh that posture! It would be okay if it was a Bob Burden (Flaming Carrot) parody, but on the cover of a Marvel comic? Sucktastic. Spidey should sue.
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/198/smfcbd01.jpg/sr=1

“Black Widow’s (I assume it’s her) speech: “Our ever-adapting man-child is running loose in a super-powered temper tantrum.”
Comics blogging in a nutshell!”
Oh Pete, this made me so happy.

We can either look at these comics in deep, unrelenting shame or we could get a good laugh out of them. I opt for the latter, but the former is still applicable.

I got a kick out of these. Thankfully, I barely read any comics during the 90s due to my young age. So, I haven’t had to deal with much of the trials and tribulations of the comic industry.

Oooh, Avengers Unplugged. The only thing worse than “The Crossing.”

It takes a rare thing to make an Avengers comic so diabolically misguided that Rob Liefeld taking over was actually a step up (which should never happen in a universe governed by any kind of rational notion) but, well there it is.

That said, I can’t believe the AU issue where they fight Nefarious didn’t make the list. Reading that thing was like being punched in the face by a mad Norse god.

Sean, I think that the instance in the All New, All Different X-Men when Phoenix used her TK to change costumes is more forgivable. It was demonstrating that Phoenix was way uber powerful that her TK could move molecules around.

He’s referring to how Storm used her powers to change clothing.

He’s referring to how Storm used her powers to change clothing.

Well, that makes sense. All it takes is turning “sweater weather” into “bikini weather.”

Wow, I was lucky. I don’t think I read any M.C. Wyman stuff in the 90s. Deathcry. I think she came along around the time of that Teen Ironman stuff. Tony Stark murdering the second yellowjacket and that guy whose name I can’t remember. That makes about as much sense as Ironman locking people up in prison for barely a reason. Oh wait.:)

capt usa(jim)

May 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Normally I don’t pile on bad artwork that is considered the accepted style of the time, but man was that artwork painful to look at. I mean I didn’t think I did drugs in the 90′s but apparently I must have to have bought some of this stuff.

On that splash page for #5, I seriously thought Graviton was Quasimodo.

Are you sure MC Wyman wasn’t a Rob Liefeld pen name? I forgot how many artists aped that style since the early 90s was when I left for college and couldn’t follow comics as closely. I may have been better off missing most of that decade.

Johnny Storm must have dropped by in the middle of some never-before-told FF story in which he and Ben exchanged powers (but without his skin changing).

Archimedes said that if he had a lever long enough, and a place to put it, he could move the Earth. But that lever isn’t long enough.

I stopped buying comic books in 1995, so I missed the debuts of these Unplugged series. I saw some for sale really cheap a few years ago, but I had no idea what they might be. I’m glad I didn’t buy any.

Annoyed Grunt

May 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Is it even worth bringing up that the colorist in the first panel completely missed the golden arches?

I honestly cringed at Black Widow’s “You go girl!” moment.

At least Johnny looked good…

Wow, you think the physique he gave Johnny was a GOOD one?

I can’t stop revisiting this entry. It’s just so crazy, especially the banter. I’m actually getting inspired to track down this series. MC Wyman really seems to have trouble with perspective and size.

T, resist the urge! You’ll regret it. Actually reading these comics is like some sort of torture. They don’t even qualify as a so-bad-they’re-good guilty pleasure. They’re just irredeemably sh*t. If you buy them, I can promise you won’t be able to read all of them. Go find something else more enjoyable to do, like amputating your leg with an ice cream scoop. Or, better yet, go read some good comics. (It will be child’s play for you to find better comics – anything you can imagine is better than these comics.)

Just noticed that Giant Stilt-Man lets out a cry of pain that must have been meant to be Giant-Man’s. It COULD be a grunt of effort, but it seems rather pronounced to be that. And he doesn’t grunt when he hits anyone else. God, what an appalling mess…

Boabie – thanks for the advice. Also, good catch about the cry of pain by Stilt-Man. It seems there was no one competent in the making of this book, even the letterer! It’s almost impressive to see how consistently bad it was across the board. To staff a big league book at such a uniformly incompetent level is almost as impressive as staffing a book with no weak links.

“Boabie – thanks for the advice. Also, good catch about the cry of pain by Stilt-Man. It seems there was no one competent in the making of this book, even the letterer! It’s almost impressive to see how consistently bad it was across the board. To staff a big league book at such a uniformly incompetent level is almost as impressive as staffing a book with no weak links.”

To be fair, the Avengers main title was at an all-time low at the time too with its “matching jackets, C-list roster, weak-carbon-copy of the worst excesses of the X-Men” run of stories and this is coming from someone who’s followed the Avengers for 40 years.

“It’s almost impressive to see how consistently bad it was across the board. To staff a big league book at such a uniformly incompetent level is almost as impressive as staffing a book with no weak links.”

That’s some reverse logic you’ve got going there, Mr. A!

Seriously, don’t ever attempt to read these comicbooks. I did and I won’t ever get that time back. I can understand why you’d want to. As a kid, I remember watching an episode of “The Young Ones” because the kids at school were all chattering about it. And it was exactly what I thought it would be: dreadful. This just proves that curiosity is not always a positive urge. Remember what happened to the proverbial cat! Use your cash to buy other comics or donate it charity. Don’t waste it on those comicbooks.

Pack, I am not quite at 40 years yet – five to go! – but I agree the Avengers then was an embarrassment and a low point. At the time, I hated the Heroes Reborn stuff more but having recently reread most of my Avengers collection, I don’t know why. Maybe the pre-HR stuff at least stuck to Marvel 616. I don’t know. It was all bad beyond words. When they came along, the Busiek-Perez issues looked like the work of God (on a particularly good day).

Oops, last Anonymous was me.

I never read the Bob Harras era Avengers or the Crossing or Avengers Unplugged, I quit around the end of Roger Stern’s run. But I did jump into Avengers for the Heroes Return stuff by Busiek and Perez, and with Stern being my last exposure to the Avengers I found it horribly done except for the art. Yet the reaction to it was ridiculously positive and it was treated like the second coming. Now that I’ve seen all these Avengers Unplugged pieces here and other places and read comments about other Avengers titles from this era, I totally understand why the Busiek run made such a positive splash so out of proportion to the actual quality of the work. Because by comparison it was astounding!

As a kid, I remember watching an episode of “The Young Ones” because the kids at school were all chattering about it. And it was exactly what I thought it would be: dreadful.

Wow, really? I LOVE the Young Ones! Do you remember the episode?

Watch the one where they throw the house party at least. That’s the best one IMO.

T, I think the Busiek-Perez stuff is good in its own right but after years and years and years of dreadful Avengers comics, it did seem even better than it was. Basically, everything between Stern – one of my favourite writers – and Busiek is little better than okay and often awful. It’s an incredibly long run of mediocrity on a flagship title. Little coming out then from marvel was good, though, and the style of art was just hideous. Women with spine deformity and jutting asses, breasts that were not only way too big but way too high and way too balloon-like, etc. are just a few issues withthe art. The stories were just as bad.

As for “The Young Ones”, no, don’t remember the episode. I watched a few years later and was still unmoved. I don’t know what that says about me. I don’t watch much tv. The only comedy programmes I watch now are old episodes of the Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory. With very occasional episodes of the Old Batman series and Bilko thrown in.

Aw, I liked the Busiek/Perez run.

Black Widow and Crystal visit a male strip club…dressed like hookers. Ah, mid-90s Marvel…

apparently, when Marvel told their artists to mimic Liefeld, they also specified that they copy his habit of hiding people’s feet in fields of strategically-placed debris.

the only thing worse than this is when Marvel made their long-time vets draw in this style. I was flipping through Herb Trimpe’s original art at his convention booth last year, and it was really sad when you got to the 90s and saw the garbage they forced him to draw.

the only thing worse than this is when Marvel made their long-time vets draw in this style. I was flipping through Herb Trimpe’s original art at his convention booth last year, and it was really sad when you got to the 90s and saw the garbage they forced him to draw.

It seems this same legend has to be constantly debunked. Marvel never forced Trimpe to draw in that style. He chose to do it because he thought jumping on that bandwagon would make him more marketable in the 90s.

Check here:
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/02/19/comic-book-legends-revealed-195/

MC Wyman did a run on Thor I thought was really good at the time, but after Image started publishing everyone was trying to ape their styles. And anyone who could hold a pencil were getting jobs because of all the comics being published (besides Marvel, DC, and Image) You had the Malibu/Ultraverse titles, Dark Horses’ superhero line, Valiant, etc. There were artists working in the 90′s who Marvel and DC would never hire now.

and the thing with Deathcry and fluffy? Colorist error seems to be the mistake there. Other than it being a stuffed animal and not a actual cat.

Aside from the Fluffy mixup, what I find equally interesting on that same page is Deathcry saying the boy is now safe as chunks and flaming debris fall from the sky all around them.

#3 man, widow has really put on some weight,

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