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Wednesday, November 15, 2023 

A list of 10 Avengers runs from past years puts the dreadful newer items on it

Yahoo Entertainment published a list, originally from Nerdist, about the 10 best Avengers runs, and predictably the writers added the awful items since the early 2000s, no matter how bad they are. One such bad modern example is Mark Waid's "All-New, All different" from 2016:
Mark Waid was already a comics legend by the time he came on board the Avengers franchise, thanks to series like Kingdom Come and The Flash. but the Avengers he got to write were not the all usual suspects. In 2016’s All-New, All-Different Avengers, Waid kept stalwart members like Tony Stark, but added Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Jane Foster’s Thor, and the teenage Nova, Sam Alexander, as a new generation of Avengers. And Sam Wilson was finally on the team as Captain America and not as the Falcon.

Waid excelled at writing this mix of heroic generations, giving the Avengers a multi-generational perspective it never had before. To make Waid’s run even better, he was joined by artists like Adam Kubert and Mahmud Asrar. Eventually, the younger generation would form their own team, the Champions, but Waid would continue with the older members in a new volume of Avengers. He’d close out his run in 2018 with the epic No Surrender arc, one of the best and most epic Avengers sagas of the 21st century. It was a brief run overall, but one that made a mark. No pun intended.
As this puff piece hints, the social justice-pandering creations were added to the mess. To the point one must ask why Sam Wilson can't be Falcon any longer, and can only exist as a PC take on Steve Rogers' role as the Star-Spangled Avenger. And this farce made a mark? Don't make us laugh. Who actually talks about this stuff today? There's also "Uncanny" from 2012, with its hilarious use of the X-Men adjective, as though that alone will signify anything worthwhile:
The Avengers and the X-Men, two teams who debuted on the same day in 1963, were enemies as often as they were friends. But they’d never really united to become one team before, until 2012’s Uncanny Avengers series. Written by Rick Remender, with incredible art by John Cassaday, Adam Kubert, and others, arrived in the fallout of the Avengers vs. X-Men. Captain America decided that he and other human heroes had not done enough for the mutant race. So he proposed a joint team of Avengers and X-Men, called the Avengers Unity Squad.

Several iconic Avengers like Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch were members, but so were important X-Men like Rogue and Havok. The stories were consistently great and explored the tension between human heroes and the mutant community, all while the Avengers faced epic villains like the Red Skull and his S-Men. Rick Remender’s run was relatively brief, only lasting two years in total. Later, other writers did their own run of the Avengers Unity Squad, to varying results. If it were longer, Remender’s Uncanny Avengers might have gone up a notch in the ranking, because this is some darn great superhero storytelling.
Yeah, tell us about it. That Remender's run was that short can speak volumes in this day and age. Seriously, Earth's Mightiest Heroes never did enough for mutants in any way? This was the team that recruited Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Nerdist also made sure to add Mark Millar's Ultimates, and look what they say here:
Forget what the title of this comic says; the Ultimates are the Avengers in all but name. When Marvel launched the streamlined and modern Ultimate Universe in 2000, it focused on Spider-Man and the X-Men. But when it came time to do the Avengers, Marvel editorial believed the name was too associated with a property that was no longer popular. So they dubbed this series The Ultimates. Even though the lineup featured Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp, and the Hulk. So, basically, the Avengers.

Mark Millar, who became a name at DC writing the fascistic hero team series The Authority, brought some of his trademark grit and satirical take on heroes to Marvel. He and artist Bryan Hitch made Ultimates feel like you were watching a blockbuster movie. So it’s no surprise that Marvel Studios’ Avengers borrowed heavily from this run. If there’s one thing that makes this book cringe today, it’s that Millar’s take on the heroes is that they’re all slightly sociopathic at worst, self-centered jerks at best. And the modern twists to Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver are icky. But the big screen scale and imagination on display in The Ultimates make up for those shortcomings.
So despite making the Ultimate edition's cast look sociopathic, and even, if memory serves, making Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver look incestuous(!), they actually believe this is some modern masterpiece, right down to the use of an approach that historian Sean Howe argued was a losing formula. Fascinating they allege the Avengers was no longer popular by then. If not, did it ever occur to them that's because Geoff Johns for starters, and Brian Bendis next, brought everything down artistically? What a bunch of ignoramuses. And then, they also made sure to shove in Bendis' writings from the mid-2000s, just to show how incapable they are of making any distinctions:
In the mid-2000s, Marvel realized the “main universe” Avengers needed a massive overhaul, and so Marvel’s editors pulled out the big guns. Not just on the creative team, with superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis, but also on the team roster. Bendis added two of Marvel’s most famous heroes, Spider-Man and Wolverine, who had never been Avengers before. After Bendis closed out the old Avengers era with Disassembled, which saw Scarlet Witch go mad and Hawkeye die, he launched New Avengers with artist David Finch, and later Leinil Francis Yu, Alex Maleev, Mike Deodato, John Romita Jr., and several others.

This run was an instant sales success, and New Avengers overtook X-Men in sales for the first time in over two decades. From the get-go, the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America was at the heart of this series. A conflict that would boil over into Mark Millar’s Civil War event. Bendis would continue his run for almost a decade, extending it to books like Mighty Avengers, Dark Avengers, and just plain Avengers. Although this run ties into way too many big events, like Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and others, the characterization was always top-notch under Bendis’ watch.
All that's told entirely without questioning whether it was in good taste to shove Wanda into such an obnoxious role, and years later, Marvel studios made it far worse by adapting this story premise to a TV program and a Dr. Strange movie. I'm not sure how high sales were at the time, but it was truly disgraceful how anybody just went along and bought this atrocity unquestioned, effectively tossing Wanda aside like she were tissue paper, and House of M only added insult to injury. That Spidey and Wolverine were shoehorned in was hilariously cheap, and only amounted to a desperation tactic. Besides, did it ever occur to them that, if Avengers was no longer popular, Spidey and Wolvie weren't either, because of plummeting quality? And about conflicts between Wing-head and Shell-head that resulted in the awful crossover of Civil War, let's be perfectly clear. A conflict that forced between 2 or more heroes is never helpful, and definitely not when it substitutes for fighting villains. There's also Jonathan Hickman's 2012 run:
Writer Jonathan Hickman has already made a name for himself thanks to his run on Fantastic Four and creator-owned titles like East of West. But on the heels of the Avengers film, he took over the franchise with a take on the team that used the MCU roster from the film, but also heroes from the previous New Avengers run like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Spider-Woman. Not to mention, there were several new characters, and even former X-Men Sunspot and Cannonball. Hickman worked with several artists at the top of their game during this run, including Jerome Opena, Stefano Caselli, Steve Epting, and many more.

Hickman’s run was a game changer due to the sheer breadth of its imagination, introducing concepts like Avengers World, and the threat of Multiversal incursions. All of which would culminate in Hickman’s Secret Wars event in 2015. Hickman found a role for each member of this superhero army to play, somehow balancing so many characters together in a way that just worked. No Avengers run has ever gone as big and outside the box in its scope as Hickman’s. Somehow, he found a way to push the very concept of what the Avengers were meant to be within the Marvel Universe. And readers everywhere had their minds blown.
At a time after Bendis for one ensured they'd no longer have meaning, that's saying quite a bit. Game changer? Sorry, but the chance for that was long lost. And it "just worked"? Keep droning on and on, please. When one considers how sales gradually plummeted over time, readers only had their intellects insulted, and that's certainly what I think after Bendis' mistreatment of Wanda Maximoff was adapted without any complaints to live action. That this run employed a setup resembling the movies says plenty too.

Anybody who's going to build a list of the best comics with awful stuff like this included is out of their minds.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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