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CSBG Archive

Almost Hidden – Lost in Space-Time!

Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So every day this month I will spotlight a different cool comic book that is only available as a back issue. Here is an archive of the comic books featured so far.

I want you folks to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com with your suggestions for comics that I should feature this month. I’d like to see what you all would like to see get more attention.

Today, reader Jack suggested the time-travel storyline from Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott’s West Coast Avengers #17-24, typically referred to as “Lost in Space-Time.”

Lost in Space-Time is one of the most complex time travel story you’ll see (at least in a superhero comic book).

One of the gutsiest aspects of the story is that Englehart decides to do this complex time travel storyline while also doing a “Hank Pym hits rock bottom and then finds himself” storyline!!!

In the first part of the story, Hank decides to kill himself while the Avengers are on a mission. He writes letters to all the people in his life, but his ex-wife, the Wasp, deserves special treatment…

Meanwhile, just as Hank is about to kill himself, the Avengers find themselves thrown through time!

Quite a way to kick off a multi-part crossover, huh? In addition, in a clever twist, they never tell you in the comic that this is part one of a storyline – it just pops up out of nowhere at the end! Classic.

So the Avengers end up in the Wild West, where Englehart ties in with one of his old Avengers stories, as Hawkeye is pals with a few of these fellows…

So the Avengers get caught up in a caper in the past. Check out Englehart showing us the rich history of Marvel’s Western heroes by making a Masters of Evil (of sorts) of Western villains!

Gotta love that checklist of titles at the end.

Wonder Man comes up with an idea – if they can only go backwards in time, why not go back in time to a point where they know someone ELSE was using a time machine!

Of course, Phantom Rider by this point had become obsessed with Mockingbird, so he doesn’t like this idea…

In part 4 of the tale, we see how Phantom Rider has brainwashed her into thinking they’re an item (creeeepy)…

Meanwhile, Hank Pym has a new lease on life and decides to take on a NEW identity…his OWN!

Very clever idea by Englehart.

In one of the craziest parts of the comic, check out this part where the Avengers meet up with a time-traveling Doctor Strange, who had previously ALSO traveled back in time to the same point that the Fantastic Four had gone into Egypt! So THREE different groups of heroes were all time-traveling to the same spot!!!

Awesome.

Meanwhile, Joe Sinnott does a marvelous job finishing Milgrom’s layouts – the book looks quite good.

I won’t spoil the ending (or how Mockingbird gets out of her predicament, and what she does to him when she does) but there’s a lot more complex adventures ahead! Marvel appears to be dedicated to reprinting West Coast Avengers, as they have a second volume due out later this year that takes you all the way up to the issue before this storyline, so there is a decent chance that 2012 or 2013 will see this storyline collected. Until then, though, you’ll have to settle for back issue bins!

25 Comments

On a related note, for some years now I’ve been on the trail of the handful of older Kang the Conqueror stories which haven’t been collected or reprinted. Quite a lot of these have, but there were a couple of gaps that seemed noteworthy:

1. A several-chapter story in which the Avengers confront the time-traveling baddie in the old west, and Englehart basically wraps up his long and highly influential Kang/Immortus story. This was touched on in Avengers Forever. Possibly this one has been reprinted somewhere and I don’t know about it; if not it seems like quite an oversight.

2. Can’t say quite the same thing for the “Tomorrow War” from Marvel Team-Up 9 – 11. Any time there’s a flashback history of Kang involving more than four or five panels, one of them will refer to a battle between Kang and his C-list rival, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man. And technically, these issues were reprinted once, in Marvel Treasury Edition 27, but that’s about as difficult to find as the original issues. That said, however, some months back I did manage to snag one of those original issues and… it’s bad. Baaaaad. I mean P-U. It may be crediting Marvel too much to suggest a sense of shame has kept this story exiled among the back-issue bins, but if that is a reason I can’t blame them.

That Avengers story was reprinted, Wraith. And I imagine “The Tomorrow War” is in Essential Marvel Team-Up, at least.

I hate to say but this wasn’t exactly Englehart’s best storyline. At least from my POV as a reader: it meandered, it was confusing, and God was it pretentious! I can’t believe what they did to Firebird, turning her into a religious nut for no reason- and “Dr. Pym” was just a rip off of Dr. Who. And worst of was the deal with Mockingbird (I won’t mention it since Cronin didn’t, but suffice it so say that Engleheart didn’t seem to be writing her- or any of the characters here for that matter- as they had been shown to be before. The meh-level kind of artwork didn’t help either. :(

Don’t forget, he might not have been time-traveling, but Apocalypse was skulking around during those Egyptian scenes as well.

“meh-level kind of artwork.” Nice.

I love this storyline, but at least a little bit of that is for nostalgic purposes. I had just started collecting monthly comics less than a year before this story started, and this was my first big multi-part, epic story I read as it came out. Although when I re-read it just a year or two ago I still thought it was really good. And I know Milgrom’s art isn’t everyone’s favorite (at the time these came out, I didn’t care for it) but I’m a big fan now.

Firebird was interesting — she was clearly Engelhart’s attempt to write a sincere and heroic Christian character, though he did sometimes seem to make her less a Catholic than a born-again Christian. There’s a very odd and never-resolved subplot about her being able to survive a poison that kills all the other Avengers, suggesting that she’s got some kind of holy spirit or divine gifts. Kurt Busiek picked that idea up in his run, but also never really explained what was supposed to be going on with her.

An yeah, the Tomorrow War story from MTU really does stink out loud.

I actually liked this ‘identity’ for Hank best. Using all his talents in one persona.

Yeah, Sijo, one reader’s complex storytelling is another reader’s complete mess. I actually felt that way about the entire run of West Coast Avengers, though.

surprise given how hot avengers are now that marvel has not reprinted this story though hopefully soon they will finaly get around to it plus always wondered what issue started the phantom rider getting obsessed with monking bird.

This was the run of WCA that made me drop the book. Looking back, there are some great parts & great ideas [love Hank Pym!], but it just never made me care about the characters. i actually don’t like the dialogue much at all.

I’m stunned to hear this was never reprinted. I thought it was one of the all-time major Avengers stories. And the story is still having important repercussions, as the recent Hawkeye And Mockingbird series showed.

Sijo– Firebird was religious in her first appearance, and then Englehart really played it up when he began writing her in West Coast Avengers, which was her second appearance. If she seems out of character to you, then you must be basing your opinion on later portrayals, in which case it’s those later stories that are out of character.

I was really disappointed, though, that when Bonita next appeared after Englehart left she was back to being Firebird, with no explanation given. I still think of la Espirita as being the standard version of the character, as that’s when she was most developed.

If this was only Firebird’s second appearance, I think she had already rated a full page entry in the first Handbook of the Marvel U, so I’m thinking she might have appeared elsewhere. Wasn’t she in the Texas Rangers in the Hulk comic, or maybe 70’s Ghost Rider?

I thought it was interesting to see Englehart even bringing up the idea of Christianity in comics, when so many other religions are used (mostly as a source of mythological characters), though I did think it rather heavy-handed and not much fun, or a good match for Firerbird. I had seen Englehart dabbling with Christianity before once or twice — he mentions the “religious impulse” in mankind early in his Silver Surfer run, but the Firebird bit seems more like leftover ideas from the Las Vegas revivalist preacher character from the wonderful but mostly-forgotten Coyote series for Epic Comics. That series was sort of half-ass reprinted a couple of years ago, or I’d strongly recommend a look at Coyote for this series of columns.

Yeah, I have a soft spot for this one as well. Had just begun buying comics on a monthly basis. Avengers was my title, and getting a second Avengers book was pretty cool.
I really loved having Moon Knight on the team, and also loved Pym’s new persona.
This was looooooong before I knew or cared someone named “Steve Englehart” was the writer.
I know from reading the blogs that Englehart’s 80s Marvel work gets a bad rap from some. But I still think his ideas and his character work are above average.
I’ve just been flipping through his Fantastic Four run recently. And while there are certainly some parts that drag, I’m going to just come out and say I think She-Thing was brilliant and totally ahead of its time. C’mon. The guy took an attractive female character and turned her into a real monster. Not a sexy She Hulk but a real monster that, frankly, still makes me uncomfortable to look at and read about. And then he had her get involved with The Thing.
It all makes sense since Englehart was the guy who wrote the marriage of The Vision (an android) and the human Scarlett Witch.
Anyway, just want to give him some props.

To clarify, I didn’t mean this story was Firebird’s second appearance– I meant that her earlier appearance in West Coast Avengers (in #4, I think) was her second appearance. The first appearance was the Rangers story in the Hulk.
She also appeared as one of the background characters in Contest Of Champions, but I didn’t count that.

Never really liked Al Milgrom’s art.

This was the first storyline that I had to go to more than one series to research storyline threads. Is the story confusing and disjointed? Yep…but it fostered a love of doing comic storyline research within me. For that, I will always love this adventure….

I loved this storyline, and I actually liked Milgrom’s art on this story arc. I guess its an acquired taste.

Ronald Jay Kearschner

August 6, 2011 at 4:33 am

I just got in on the end of Englehart’s AVENGERS run with George Perez with the Kang in the Old West/Squadron Supreme on Counter-Earth. So I was pleased to be able to read WCA. I thought it was a good run of superhero team stories. I too liked Dr. Pym. It was a creative use of his various powers and identities. He also had relationships with Firebird and Tigra, a big bump up from the Wasp.

I DID enjoy his Coyote book with Lizette (The revivalist Christian character mentioned above).

J.A.P.

I loved these issues as a kid. I prompted me to find as much West Coast Avengers as I possible could, and boy was I ever glad I did. I especially loved the callback to this storyline many issues later with the cowboy Ghost Rider rearing his albino head again.

I must have stopped reading the WCA (as part of a break from comics altogether) just before this story came out, because I have no memory of reading it, even though I followed the early WCA series. Sounds interesting. Englehart had a knack for layered stories. And I loved the Milgrom/Sinnott art combo from when they teamed up on the original Avengers book with Roger Stern.

I haven’t read this but it sounds really good. Always have liked Englehart’s work solidly entertaining, and Milgrom’s work is kind of an acquired taste, but the older I get the more I like it. Sinnott’s inks work well here too.

That issue with the Wackos stuck in Egypt was my first bonafide Marvel comic when I was 7. (And only 3rd overall, after Detective 566 and DC Presents 93. How sad that I even remember?!)
In the UK at the time, I never saw real American comic books. I had glanced at an older friend’s Secret Wars comics and regularly watched Spider-man’s Amazing Friends, so knew some of the characters. The rest were all new to me. So much going on it that issue, it blew my mind. I was hooked there and then. It wasnt until I was 11 I even knew comic shops existed. When I saw one for the first time and it had West Coast Avengers Number One. That was that. Nothing could stop me from buying that book. My Dad gave me extra pocket money so i could get the rest of that miniseries. And I’ve been an avid reader, collector and enthusiast ever since. Even if i gave up on Marvel entirely once Bendis took over *everything*, and I drop DC with their Nu52 fustercluck, I still have very fond memories of those books. In some small way, made me the man I am today.
Any issue of any comic, could be somebodys first. The mythology, the continuity, this one little issue being part of a much wider universe. That’s what reeled me in. So you can deride this book, the art, the writing, whatever. To me its perfection. I will always be in debt to Englehart, Sinnott and Milgrom. Thank you chaps.

Awesome sauce!! loved this!

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