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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Rating the Avenger “Hunks”

In this feature I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of past installments of this feature.

Today we take a look at one of the dorkiest, but ultimately pretty endearing, back-up stories you’ll see – “Rate the Hunks!” by Mark Gruenwald, Amanda Conner and Christopher Ivy from 1989’s Avengers West Coast Annual #4, where the Wasp and She-Hulk go through the male membership of the Avengers and assigns them number grades from 1 to 10.

Yes, this story actually existed.

The very fact that this is, well, a THING is bizarre. That said, the artwork is nice, Gruenwald captures the voices of Jan and Jen well and their answers make sense in character. So while it is a really weird story, I think in the end it is a fairly charming tale.

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77 Comments

You seem to have posted the same page four times in a row…

Thanks, Tuomas! Fixed it.

I’m not really bothered by it, and the idea is kind of cute, but it seems to me to be in comically poor taste to give your supposedly dead former teammate a 7 after calling him a pretty boy with a lousy personality.

Well, if you recall, before Hercules died all he would do was give Wasp shit because he didn’t like following a woman as his leader, so that likely colors Jan’s perspective (and presumably readers of this comic still had that portrayal fresh in their minds, as well).

It’s interesting to note how Amanda’s distinctive style had yet to develop here. But talk about your word balloon overload.

I wasn’t pleased with this when I first read it at all. Poor Druid always got the shaft, even more so than Herc.

Wonder Man is not only rocking the mullet, but She-Hulk says he has one of the best haircuts of the team.

I think they did another one of these rating the women Avengers in another annual that summer. Ahhhhh summer annual crossovers; you seem so quaint by today’s standards.

is that She-Hulk giving Eros a 6? Didn’t the two of them get down in Slott’s second run on that book?

Just because you “get down” with someone doesn’t mean you give them a 10. Or higher than a 6 at times.

randypan the goatboy

August 11, 2011 at 6:43 am

I remember that all the marvel annuals had stuff like this in them. It was pure filler and they were all craptacular. Does anyone remember what the main storyline of the annuals was that year. Im thinking it was Atlantis Attacks but its been a long time and My marvel geekiness has been all but burned away by the 90’s. There was so much bad in the 90’s that i’m having a hard time remembering the good. Peter david’s run on the Hulk stands out, but all I really remember from the 90’s was the collector covers and zero issues…I just took a huge detour from my original point but im sure that you will forgive my audacity.! thing I can honestly say about this particular story[ not much homophobia in the marvel bullpen ] What kind of place do you go to in your head to write a story about hunky dudes…when you are a dude yourself? he isnt exactly talking about kissing the tip of Thor’s hammer but uhhh really? maybe they can redo this story in the x annuals in the future and have Shatter star and rictor doing the reviews…ahhh diversity

Matthew Johnson

August 11, 2011 at 7:48 am

The line about Doctor Druid seems a bit gratuitous. It really is just a hair away from “Y’know, I’m glad he’s dead!”

Matthew – To be fair, Druid deserved it. He basically was responsible for the fall of the Avengers in the mid-’80s!

On the other hand, I have to agree with someone else above in thinking it’s in pretty poor taste to be talking so flippantly about the recently KILLED Hercules (yes, Jen was right, he of course came back, but still…).

Also, love that they thought Wonder Man had the best hair. HE HAD A MULLET.

The bashing of Doctor Druid is not gratuituous. You must remember that he had recently betrayed the team and used mind control abilities to manipulate the Avengers in various ways. Would you be kind to a creepo that mind raped and betrayed you?

Randypan, that is why they’re writers. They’re supposed to be able to write from viewpoints other than their own. Yeah, I know many writers, good and bad ones, from Frank Miller to Franz Kafka, are able to write only the same type of stories…

i was going to say they left off hank and the hulk rating wise till i saw the last page explaining why . and can not beleive star fox got a high rating thought the writers would have had she hulk and jan rate him the same as druid.

Wonder Man is not only rocking the mullet, but She-Hulk says he has one of the best haircuts of the team.

I love Gruenwald’s writing, but I do distinctly remember him having some horrible hair of his own so that may explain it. Scroll down this link to his name to see his hair in 1990:

http://www.oshkosh.k12.wi.us/schools/hof.cfm

As much as we like to mock 1950s and 1960s weirdness in comics — not to mention some of the juvenilia of the 1940s — the long and not particularly distinguished history of 1990s Annual backup strips provides a lot of very strange or ill-conceived material.

Of course, this isn’t as bad as those bizarre Marvel Swimsuit Specials. Back at the time of their publication, couldn’t understand who they were meant for. Later, the Internet came along and things became terribly, horribly clear to all of us.

One thing I do miss was the old, incredibly in-jokey Marvel End-Of-Year recap magazine. It was usually produced as a mockup of a real-world news or gossip magazine, and not only had fake “interviews” and “articles” about major characters and storylines, but lots of easter egg gags like ads for Roxxon Oil or classified ads that were clearly vampires seeking victims and so forth. DC did a few mock interviews in its Secret Files, but the gimmick seems to have faded away, probably because it’s so “inside” and not very visual.

If they made a version of this rating the female Avengers, I’d REALLY like to see it. Pretty please?

-What do we want?
-Equal-Opportunity Sexual Objectification!
-WHEN DO WE WANT IT?
-NOW!

“If they made a version of this rating the female Avengers, I’d REALLY like to see it. Pretty please? ”

Hosted by Starfox and Wonder Man?

Of course, this isn’t as bad as those bizarre Marvel Swimsuit Specials. Back at the time of their publication, couldn’t understand who they were meant for. Later, the Internet came along and things became terribly, horribly clear to all of us.

Oh man is this paragraph subtly brilliant. I’m already thinking of ways to appropriate that last sentence for other topics.

I’m afraid that the counterpart to this story was nothing salacious – it was just Captain America doing evaluations of the Avengers. Which is not nearly as odd (although it IS odd). Would you folks like to see me feature that, as well?

Boy, Gruenwald really didn’t like Dr. Druid.

I think he really didn’t like that version of Doctor Druid. When he was editing Avengers Spotlight, he had Roy and Dann Thomas do a makeover on Druid and then Gruenwald used him a decent amount in Captain America, even leading to Druid taking over Secret Defenders from Doctor Strange.

In time, Gruenwald really seemed determined to repair a lot of things about the post-Stern Avengers revamp. He edited the 1989 one-shot written by Dwayne McDuffie that halfway rehabilitated Stern’s Captain Marvel and did an infinitely better job of giving her scaled-back but workable powers after he’d had her lose all her powers in the earlier storyline.

A little over a year later, he also edited McDuffie’s work on Avengers Spotlight (as Brian notes), during which Monica made a brief return and gained powers even closer to her old ones as part of a “women Avengers vs. the Awesome Android” story. Gruenwald also worked her into his “Starblast” crossover, and there her original powers were fully restored as a plot point.

randypan the goatboy

August 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

Dr druid taking over the secret Defenders from Dr Strange or Dr Strange seeing an opportunity to get out from under a lame concept? That is why he is the sorcerer supreme and Dr Druid looks like the guy sitting in a porn theatre.Oh my god was secret defenders bad. how is it that DC and marvel championed similar books that both sucked out loud before and after they changed the format from a mission impossible type book to a straight up team book. Dontcha miss the 90’s?

lso, love that they thought Wonder Man had the best hair. HE HAD A MULLET.

Looking at Jan’s hair there, I’m not surprised.

AverageJoeEveryman

August 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

To answer randypan the goatboy’s question this was indeed Atlantis Attacks. I remember because that was the first year I really began buying (having my parents buy) comics. I loved that crossover when I was a kid even all the stupid backup stories.

I had no idea Amanda Conner was around back then.

I really like this. I wish they’d do fun back-ups like this nowadays.

Now that I think about it, isn’t it weird that they left off Hank McCoy?

I guess they aren’t furries.

Early Amanda Conner was great stuff. (And of course, she’s only gotten better with time.) I had a couple art classes with her and was always impressed by her work. I think the first regular/semi-regular assignments she got after this were Barbie and Gargoyles – very different from her work today!

Some of the back up shorts were pretty lame, but this one has a nice charm to it. I hadn’t seen it before (I didn’t buy the Atlantis Attacks! annuals – I was so tired of Marvel’s summer events taking over other story lines… and that was a whole legally-drinking person [i.e., 21 years] ago!)

That reminds me of some random issue from my youth where Tony Stark was walking down the street and you see a random female admirer thinking “He’s got to be 9.5…. maybe even 10!” It didn’t strike me until much later that it was probably a double entendre.

Re: The Beast, I read this at the time it came out and it only had people who were either current Avengers or were Avengers very recently. The Beast had spent some years as a New Defender and was a member of X-Factor for years already by the time of this story, so he wasn’t as associated with the Avengers world at the time.

The counterpart of this story was Cap rating Avengers? I would LOVE to see “Cap rates the babes” (or whatever the female version of “Hunks” was at the time – I know this story predated “hotties”).

“Mantis showed a little too much ankle for my taste, but at least she wore a skirt.”

People seem to be forgetting (or are too young to realize) that mullets weren’t always the punchline of haircuts (in fact, I’m not sure whether the term “mullet” had even entered the common consciousness at the time – see my previous shortcomings in recalling the vernacular timeline). Hell, Superman had a mullet for a while in the 90s. Of course nowadays people in their 30s will insist they never thought mullets were cool just like people in their 50s will pretend they never liked disco.

ZZZ, I think the problem here is that comics were a bit behind the times in fashion, as often seems to happen. Mullets were the height of cool in the 1980s, and by the 1990s their popularity was fading. That was just whet everybody from Superman to Wonder Man to Nightwing to Changeling started using them in comics.

I’m just very thankful that Taurean Blacque was referenced in a Marvel comic.

I remember this too from the Atlantis Attacks era of storylines that year. I was a kid then and I would be so excited to buy the summer annuals for the stories. I didn’t even have a comic book store near me at that time so I bought them at the grocery store. I think when Scarlet Witch resurrects the Serpent Set was one of the coolest moments ever! I can’t believe I have been following the Scarlet Witch storyline for over twenty years now and she is still a compelling character. I remember when Magneto had her house floating in space, when her kids turned out to be fragments of Master Pandemonium’s soul and all those other cool Byrne storylines. The art was amazing too. Now she just needs to bring back all the freaking mutants! Maybe she can transport them to a time when they were actually interesting too and not living in San Francisco. ugh. I miss the X-mansion and Xavier and Cerebro and the good old days where the X-men were actually like a family. Then Spider-man can actually go back to being married, the Red Hulk never existed and the Fantastic Four still had Human Torch.

I almost mentioned the line about Dr. Druid and his pot belly in comments on one of the recent postings about that era of Avengers, but I couldn’t remember where I had read it. Thanks for posting this! I think it was very funny, especially the Dr. Druid stuff. He was such an unappealing character! Was he in the book so 50 year old music teachers could identify with him or something? And he was scheming against them from the get-go anyway, trying to throw off Monica’s leadership when she was just starting out and all.

If they included Quicksilver from the Cap’s Kooky Quartet days they shouldn’t have left off Hank McCoy (though I guess the Avengers would only have known him from the blue fur days and never have seen him looking more human, X-Factor being more or less a secret), but Mar-Vell was off the list too, which sort of makes sense with him being long dead by that time. Still it might have been interesting to see how he rated.

Did they forget anyone else? Guardians of the Galaxy were Avengers for about 35 seconds in 1976 or so, so I’m willing to overlook them.

Wow this was sexist AND poorly drawn (what’s up with Wasp’s head??) but it’s also hilarious. I wish comics still had the sense of humor they did back in those days.

“Of course, this isn’t as bad as those bizarre Marvel Swimsuit Specials. Back at the time of their publication, couldn’t understand who they were meant for. Later, the Internet came along and things became terribly, horribly clear to all of us.”

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

If they included Quicksilver from the Cap’s Kooky Quartet days they shouldn’t have left off Hank McCoy (though I guess the Avengers would only have known him from the blue fur days and never have seen him looking more human, X-Factor being more or less a secret), but Mar-Vell was off the list too, which sort of makes sense with him being long dead by that time. Still it might have been interesting to see how he rated.

Did they forget anyone else? Guardians of the Galaxy were Avengers for about 35 seconds in 1976 or so, so I’m willing to overlook them.

Well, as honorary members like Mar-Vell and the Guardians go, there’s Two-Gun Kid. And they didn’t get into the West Coast Avengers like Rhodey, Moon Knight and the original Human Torch (which is a little weird since this appeared in an Avengers West Coast Annual). But yeah, if they even mentioned Swordsman, it’s downright bizarre that they forgot about Hank–who appeared elsewhere in the same comic!

Don’t they still do silly things like this on message boards?

This was oddly sexual.

Seems like a good, harmless bit of fun to me. Nothing to get worked up over. Although I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would have been to a parallel piece of Hawkeye and Iron Man rating the female Avengers.

yes this was loads of fun. Marvel Divas really should have featured Jan , Jen and maybe Tigra!
loved Atlantis Attacks when it came out too – especially the Byrne drawn parts

That’s Amanda Connor? Really?

Also, no one buys it when you say you think Clint is a six, Jen. We all know you want Hawkeye bad.

Sidenote: even as a straight guy I feel a lot of those ratings are pretty low. I guess superhero comics really do have unreasonable standards for attractiveness if US Agent is average to below average and Ms Marvel is “fat”.

Ms Marvel is fat?

“Of course, this isn’t as bad as those bizarre Marvel Swimsuit Specials. Back at the time of their publication, couldn’t understand who they were meant for. Later, the Internet came along and things became terribly, horribly clear to all of us.”

I CANNOT LIKE THIS QUOTE ENOUGH.

zorba_of_the_morningstar

August 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I’m shocked GRU gave Hawkeye a 7 with the hard on he had for the character. You can’t read that mini series that he wrote/drew without feeling the homo-eroticism

….what’s up with “Quasar by Motorola”?

It was a brand of television at the time.

Kind of creepy, in an odd sort of way. And I can’t imagine they thought male readers would be interested in these ratings…maybe there was some sort of push to make the books more female friendly? Or, at least, what some people thought would be interesting to female readers?

Aww…. they cut the story off before Jennifer and Jan are joined by Carol and Natasha for a lingerie pillowfight….

See? Comic-reading nerds can be sexist too!

I wonder why they left out Spider-Man? I know he had teamed up with the Avengers a lot, so I’m pretty sure at some point he got at least honorary membership before his actual membership in the 90’s, and then again from 2005 to now. Is he just too mysterious, since the Avengers didn’t know who he was back then?

Wasp worked along side Vision for years, and she still calls him a “toaster”? Damn – you’re a cold bitch, Janet.

Right?

I do like that Jen was still enamored with Herc. It was a running joke throughout “Sensational She-Hulk” that she would fantasize about him. They eventually got together not too long ago.

@matthew I think this annual came out the summer before Spider-Man first formally joined the team during the Nebula storyline. Before that he’d tried a couple of times but never quite made it.

Pixie_Solanas

June 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

and I give She Hulk’s booties a 2.

IIRC, Janet thought of Beast as basically a goofy kid (I base this on the Micheline/Shooter run), so I can see her not treating him as a hunk object.

LOL!! Oh, imagine the outrage and cries of sexism if it was male superhero characters sitting around ranking female supeheroes on their hotness. Oh, hello there, double standard.

I totally got the Druid hate from these two but pot belly? Uh, I distinctly remember Buscema drawing him in an issue with speedo-type swim trunks and that hairy daddy was not only built but damn hot in those trunks. Just sayin’.

This is racist! Or sexist. Or something -ist. (I couldn’t resist)

Really though, switch this with the female Avengers being judged by their looks and we never would have heard the end of it! It would still be brought up today to complain about. Why do people get so worked up over fictional characters and their looks?

Oh, and as a reader of the Avengers going way back, the Wasps opinions on Hercules here are spot on from how their (working) relationship was.

On at lease one level, in this situation, a backup like this for an annual like this, a filler like this makes all kinds of sense.

It’s 1989, and you’re a kid who really likes Spider-Man or the X-Men. Last year’s Evolutionary War story seemed pretty cool in the brief bits you saw (at the very least Speedball seems like he’ll be a fun character to read about), but you missed out on big chunks of the story because you didn’t care about the Avengers, or the Fantastic Four, or ALF. You’re not going to make that mistake again.

And inside that first issue of something else you picked up is a brief introduction to a large part of the book’s regular cast in a manner slightly more entertaining than a bunch of reprinted Handbook pages. That’s kind of cool, even if it was less problematic in the Captain America story.

Besides, it beats the three or four years worth of annual backups it took to get Owen Reese out of the Beyonder cosmic cube and bring back his Molecule Man powers.

The swimsuit issues were awesome. ;)

This really wasn’t much of a “story”. I don’t think it qualifies as “I love ya but you’re strange”.

Omar:
“A little over a year later, he also edited McDuffie’s work on Avengers Spotlight (as Brian notes), during which Monica made a brief return and gained powers even closer to her old ones as part of a “women Avengers vs. the Awesome Android” story. Gruenwald also worked her into his “Starblast” crossover, and there her original powers were fully restored as a plot point.”

Monica’s treatment post Stern… Oh boy. Don’t get me started. When she lost her original power set during Walter Simonson’s run on Avengers (circa Avengers v1 #293), she was powerless until the one-shot you spoke of. I remember that she appeared in a panel in one of the Avengers issues during Acts of Vengeance where it was said that she fought Klaw. I was ticked off though bc there was never a comic published (AFAIK) that showed this battle. If there were one, I’d have bought it!

Let’s see, what else. Oh, yeah, when Rage was brought on the team, and they were discussing black members of the Avengers, they mentioned T’Challa and the Falcon, but no one thought to mention Monica Rambeau, who was leader of the Avengers for a short time! That was annoying.

There was her appearance in Quasar #17 (?). The issue where the Runner assembled a bunch of heroes to run to the moon. For some reason Monica appeared, even though she doesn’t have superhuman running speed. The Runner sent her home because she wasn’t touching the “ground” enough to constitute running. You’d think an Elder of the Universe-one who devoted his life to running (which I always found incredibly lame)- would have checked to ensure his contestants were actually runners!

There was the second Captain Marvel one-shot that tweaked her powers out of the blue and seemed to be a mashup of both her power sets. She was generating energy blasts, but still had her protective force field and super strength. There was *no* explanation.

The next time she showed up was in the pages of Quasar, which was written by Gruenwald. She appeared during the time that Quasar was thought dead (in the wake of the Infinity War), and Marvel Boy briefly took his place. That guy was unhinged. Monica’s powers were back to just the second set. No mashup of her first and second set of powers and no explanation offered either.

I believe the next appearance she had was in the Starblast crossover, which was marred by some HORRIBLE art at various points, along with Gruenwald’s incredibly stilted and overly expository dialogue. She got her powers “fixed” by the Stranger, which is about the only good thing that came out of the story…oh wait, I forgot the Stranger also restored Carol Danvers’ emotional connection to her memories. So there’s two things. We also got the Earth of the New Universe brought to the Marvel Universe, but promptly and permanently sealed off by the Living Tribunal. I wonder if that will somehow play a role in Secret Wars.

Oh, then there was a really forgettable story from Avengers Unplugged where Monica gave the name Captain Marvel to Genis-Vell who had been going by the name Legacy. The only thing I can recall about that story was my surprise at seeing Monica shift into energy form and still carry objects. Aside from one panel during the Leviathan story in Simonson’s intro arc of Avengers, she was always portrayed as being unable to grasp any physical object in her various energy forms. That was another power change that just came out of nowhere.

She later appeared in Kurt Busiek’s run, where he treated her respectfully, and used her character in IMO appropriate ways. She was there during the intro arc of the book, then during Ordway’s three issue run, then she was *almost* back when the team lineup changed around issue 27. Then she got to come back for the twin battles the Avengers were waging between Bloodwraith in Slovenia and the Pagan/Lord Templar mock battle.

Following that, she *finally* got put back in the hands of Roger Stern for the four issue mini series Avengers: Infinity (I think that was the name).

Pretty much from that time on, she’s been treated respectfully, and her powers have been portrayed consistently.

Oh, wait. Nope. I forgot about Warren Ellis’ Nextwave, where it was mentioned that she had her powers as a child, which was flat out NOT true.

Her later appearances in Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) by Kelly Sue DeConnick were amazing. I thought DeConnick gave her more depth than any writer save Roger Stern, and in some ways, I think she did an even better job than him. Her banter with Carol was superb and I liked that she had developed a fear of water, though that came out of the blue (it was the first time it had ever been mentioned since the battle with Leviathan back during Simonson’s run).

Sadly, after that I fell into a multi-year period of having little to no expendable income, so I was unable to buy any of Al Ewing’s Mighty Avengers stories, which I’d have scooped up in a heartbeat since Monica was a member. What little I’ve read looked promising, not just for Monica, but for several other characters as well.

BTW, I recall that Avengers Spotlight issue, but I remember it differently than you do. I don’t remember her powers changing at all. IIRC, they were still just her second power set. My memory could be off though. With Monica though, I doubt it.

There was her appearance in Quasar #17 (?). The issue where the Runner assembled a bunch of heroes to run to the moon. For some reason Monica appeared, even though she doesn’t have superhuman running speed. The Runner sent her home because she wasn’t touching the “ground” enough to constitute running. You’d think an Elder of the Universe-one who devoted his life to running (which I always found incredibly lame)- would have checked to ensure his contestants were actually runners!

It’s most likely Gruenwald just following the previous Elders story from the Marvel Two-in-One Annual where the Champion picks a bunch of heroes to box but then has to eliminate a good chunk of them due to things he should have known when he picked them (like Thor needing his hammer).

@FuryofFirestorm

It’s obvious that the letter sealed the placement of Jan and Jen’s word balloons.
Look at the hands holding up fingers.
So really it was she-HULK calling Vision a toaster.

ALSO hilarious is where she said “falcon is no captain America”

Oh… And on a similar note to this story, I’ve long been trying to remember where I read an issue of SOME comic or other where two female characters are discussing Doctor Strange and one of them says he’s attractive to her because he’s older and she likes “father figures”or something like that, to which the other woman is a but taken aback by that admission.

I keep thinking it was two Avengers or two New Mutant characters who were visiting Doc for help, but I can’t remember where.

Anyone have an idea?

If I can find it that would be a big plus to a blog post (where I’ve listed every “love” out interest of Doctor Strange) I’ve been hoping to amend.
(Proper”thank you”credit and a link to you -if you’d like it- would be the payment)

For anyone interested, here’s that old post;

http://sanctumsanctorumcomix.blogspot.com/2009/02/st-valentines-day-special-edition-02009.html?m=1

Thanks!
Thanks.

@Tony–I’d def argue that Al Ewing has written Monica better than anyone outside of Stern and maybe McDuffie. May he rest in peace but I never forgave Gruenwald for firing Stern off the book and essentially allowing Monica to fall, for the most part, into limbo(and don’t even get me started on the travesty that was Nextwave).

objectify me, baby!

“is that She-Hulk giving Eros a 6? Didn’t the two of them get down in Slott’s second run on that book?”

Maybe that’s why he rated a 6…real guys try harder ;)

It’s pretty disturbing to hear them rate their dead team mates. Also, to diss the Vision, a member of the Avengers for over a decade at that point – one of their own members caused him to get dismantled, mind wiped, his marriage to the Scarlet Witch screwed up, etc. – and they are going on about him being creepy. Way to honor what’s left of one of your longest serving members, girls!

“It’s most likely Gruenwald just following the previous Elders story from the Marvel Two-in-One Annual where the Champion picks a bunch of heroes to box but then has to eliminate a good chunk of them due to things he should have known when he picked them (like Thor needing his hammer).”

The Contest of Champions was similar – they kidnap ALL the superheroes before they eliminate some for being the wrong type (aliens or robots or whatever).

What I wonder is, where were Northstar and Aurora during that running story? Sure, they fly, but they can both also run fast.

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