Monday, January 6, 2014


I read AVENGERS 1959 yesterday. This Marvel Comics trade paperback reprints issues #1-5 of the AVENGERS 1959 mini-series. The script and art are both by the great Howard Chaykin, who is one of my all-time favorite comic book creators.

I love almost everything about this book. I love Chaykin's art. I love the concept. An Avengers team comprised of characters that were alive and well and operating in the Marvel Universe in 1959 are assembled. The team is made up of Nick Fury, the Blonde Phantom, Kraven the Hunter, Sabretooth, Dominic Fortune and Namora. Added to the mix is Powell McTeague, a British dandy with occult powers who is clearly modeled on the John Steed character played by Patrick Macnee on the classic British TV spy series THE AVENGERS.

The Avengers face off against various Nazi supermen and superwomen who survived WWII. The super Nazis are being manipulated by forces within the U.S. intelligence agency (at least, I think that's what's going on). The head manipulator, one Geoffrey Sydenham is apparently an acolyte of the dread Dormammu but that demonic entity is sadly, only name dropped here (pity, as I kept expecting him to eventually show up and I'd love to see Chaykin's take on him). Oh, and did I mention that such familiar Marvel Universe locales as Wakanda, Latveria and Madripoor serve as the settings for some of the action in the book? Plus, there's nifty cameos by former Howler Eric Koenig and 1950s Agent of A.T.L.A.S. Gorilla Man.

Yep, there's a lot to like here but there's also much to dislike. For starters, event though I love Chaykin's artwork, there's one two page sequence that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever (both visually and narratively) and I even read it twice trying to figure it out. The plot takes practically forever to be adequately explained and even then I'm still not quite sure just what all of this hugger mugger was really all about. The main villain, Sydenham, is not punished for his crimes (although his super Nazi henchmen and henchwomen are) and the book ends on a decidedly ambiguous note.

I'm really torn on this one. Thumbs up for the Chaykin art (or at least 99% of it). Thumbs up on the characters and the concept. Thumbs down on a plot and storyline that could have benefited greatly from a really good editor (of which, there seems to be none in today's comic book business).

Bottom line: I really wanted to like this one and I did, to some extent, just not as much as I was expecting to.

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