Tuesday, January 19, 2016

George Perez Joins The Avengers!

My first exposure to the artwork of George Perez was when he helped to launch the Inhumans in their first solo title in October of 1975, a book which he only pencilled for about a third of its short (albeit bimonthly) run and which, by its end, could certainly have used his influence. But the Inhumans' loss turned out to be another team's gain--because in November of that year, Perez would begin his association with a long-standing title where his work would resonate with a larger reading audience.

His first Avengers issue offers a glimpse of Perez's work when it was just beginning to pick up steam, and the world of the Avengers offered more exciting and familiar adventures for him to delineate than could be found in the bizarre, isolated world of the Inhumans. At this point in time, two new Avengers (in the form of Moondragon and the Beast) have applied for membership, which would open the door to simultaneous conflicts with the Squadron Supreme and Kang the Conqueror that would give Perez plenty of room to stretch his legs.

Many of Perez's trademark style touches are present even in these early days. Up to eleven (!) panels per page, which give the reader the impression of a tightly-plotted story packed with action; the jagged, "circuit board" background in a character shot which helps to emphasize shock and/or anger; kaleidoscope panel layouts that nevertheless look well-balanced when placing two full pages side-by-side; and, speaking of backgrounds, those densely-threaded backdrops which make it seem as if the characters within the panel are trapped within a ball of yarn, an unusual choice which I have yet to figure out. Perez's layout style in this Avengers issue is much less conventionally structured than his Inhumans work, which seems like a conscious choice on his part rather than anything the tone of the story might dictate.

The story begins to take shape when Captain America rejoins the group in order to investigate a lead which ties Roxxon Oil with targeting the Beast--while the Avengers are about to conduct a search for Hawkeye, who's trapped in the past.

(Yep--after stalking the Beast at the mansion, Patsy Walker, the soon-to-be Hellcat, makes her first full appearance in the mag.)

Perez gives both Avengers missions their due--first, with Immortus conducting Thor and Moondragon to their destination in the past, though not without incident.

As for the other group, they head with the Beast to the Brand Corporation, his old stomping grounds as one of their researchers. But their raid is interrupted when met by a reception committee, on retainer from another dimension.

It's not the most dynamic display of the Avengers in action, though in all fairness the goal is to take the Avengers out of action as quickly as possible in order for things to get cranked up in the following issue. As a result, the battle is a disappointing one, though Perez does well with what he has to work with. Lady Lark quickly takes out both the Scarlet Witch and Captain America (as well as Patsy); Dr. Spectrum captures the Vision, while Hyperion handles the Beast; and the Whizzer?

No, I don't know how this lame maneuver takes out the likes of Iron Man. It just does.

Perez would go on to make very big strides with the Avengers--on an off, that is, with other artists stepping in for either short (Buscema, Tuska) or extended (Byrne) stints and even inventory stories being used to avoid missed deadlines during his time on the book, before his departure in 1981. Yet it speaks well of his work that, whenever he would choose to return, the welcome mat was always there to greet him.


From August, 1974, Perez's reportedly first published work for the company--a two-page satire in Astonishing Tales which featured scripter Doug Moench and artist Rich Buckler hitting a wall on their new creation, Deathlok.


Anonymous said...

Great post. True, Perez hadn't hit his peak quite yet, but there is a lot of energy here and it's a really fun read. I think putting the Beast in the Avengers was a brilliant move, because the team sure needed a little comic relief. Particularly with the Vision around. That may be why Patsy ended up in the Defenders (which I loved her in); two jokesters on one team might be a little much.
Not shown here was the Beast's immediate regret at going after Hyperion. Not exactly evenly matched, those two! Whoops!

david_b said...

Bit of a wonky opening volley by Perez, inking could have been better but some of those wacky panels are definitely hard on the eyes. I didn't like Perez at Marvel much, although he did get much, MUCH more polished by issue 161. Loved him at DC though.

I didn't like the Beast's addition for many years, but it's alright now. His membership just didn't 'fit' with the more stoic view I had of the Avengers since my childhood, so he was a reason I didn't restart collecting Avengers until years later.

Comicsfan said...

I've always had mixed feelings about the Beast's membership in the Avengers, myself, david--partly for the reason you allude to (that his constant clowning was all he seemed to bring to the group). Even the Beast often made it a point to mention that he was falling short as to his contribution to the team--something that, granted, other members have done from time to time, but a claim which the Beast often proved to have merit. The subject is certainly ripe to hash out in a post sometime.

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