Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Where Soars The Aven-Jet!


There probably aren't many of you who are unfamiliar with the word "quinjet," the aircraft that the Avengers use to get to where they're going. But it's probably fair to say we're all more familiar with the name itself than the look or design of the actual aircraft--which is a little unusual, given the treatment that the SR-71 "Blackbird" has been given in X-Men, as well as the crafts of the Fantastic Four, whose book has made more of an effort to show off designs such as the Fantasti-Car, the Pogo Plane, and their NASA missile. Apparently no one ever felt the need to give the Avengers something equally special--and perhaps there was no real need, since the Avengers don't seem to be in flight as often. There's also the fact that Tony Stark bankrolled and designed the aircraft, and all the Avengers did was board it whenever a mission beckoned--so if the team itself took no real interest in their transportation, there was little if any reason for readers to do so.

When the "quinjet" came along--finally, a consistent reference to the Avengers' aircraft--it at least raised an eyebrow. "Quinjet" just adds a little distinction to the basic "jet," but it does the job. It was definitely a step up from an "aero-car," which premiered in Avengers #34 and had a rather undetailed design by artist Don Heck:




No one is really going to care if an "aero-car" bites the dust, as this one is about to do. A "car" makes you think of a shuttle rather than a jet; you get the feeling that Stark can have another built in no time, in case the Avengers need a spare (or, in this case, a replacement). Not really very impressive transportation for the Avengers--I mean, when was the last time you heard a New Yorker yell, "Look! Isn't that the aero-car of the Avengers??" And with a name like "Fantasti-Car" out there, writers might have been reluctant to create a name like "Aven-Jet."

We didn't see things improve much when the "aero-car" became the "aerocraft," this time designed by John Buscema:



But, just around the corner, Buscema had something else in mind--the quinjet, created by the Black Panther and built to buzz frost giants, no less:



In these early drawings, the quinjet seems to be a two-seater, though when seen at different angles it obviously provides a little more room for additional Avengers in the cockpit.  As for its name, the quinjet has five exhaust engines--and a good thing, too, since otherwise it probably couldn't keep up with an astral form:



Equally interesting about the craft is that it has V.T.O.L. capability, which is an ideal feature for landing on rooftops, and real handy for landing in cemeteries:




Of course, a quinjet sometimes lasts about as long as an aero-car:



When artist Sal Buscema came aboard the book, it appeared the consistency of the quinjet was here to stay.




"An Avenger crate"--let's hope that doesn't catch on.  Obviously it wouldn't hurt for the team to have the services of a good publicist.

Still, John Buscema switched to a new design for awhile when he returned to the book, perhaps thinking that the original quinjet was too futuristic-looking. So the craft became more sleek and contemporary.  Introducing the Avengers yacht:



If I'm not mistaken, it was artist John Byrne who premiered the quinjet design that lasted the longest, appearing first in 1979:




This design has a closer resemblance to a jet, while also featuring a large viewport that lets us see team members--and of course there's that distinctive logo on both the nose and the rudder.

The design is still in use in 1982:



As well as 1988, though slightly modified in appearance:



But in 2005, Tony Stark unveiled a brand new design for his "New Avengers" team, which removes the bulk from Byrne's craft and gives the quinjet a more sleek and state-of-the-art appearance:





Assuming there are still five engines to this craft, they look to be deployed along the sides of the ship as well as the rear.

I haven't kept up with the Avengers, so the quinjet may well have been retired by now. When it's time to assemble, is Jarvis calling them taxis?

2 comments:

George Chambers said...

I always figured that Stark felt slighted about the Quinjet being T'Challa's design, not his. Then, during the short-lived Force Works comic that replaced Avengers West Coast, his team flew around in... a Hexjet. I could just see Stark saying, "SIX engines! Bite it, T'Challa!"

Comicsfan said...

George, I wouldn't put it past the man!

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