Sep 24

This is the real legacy of Marvel Comics, and honestly, it’s why that “DON’T TASE ME BRO” bro got his ass tased.

Okay, it isn’t either, but it’s what I’m contemplating as I finally finish up Essential Defenders Vol. 1.

Marvel in the 1970s is an endlessly fascinating place to me; I find I respect the stories of Marvel’s Silver Age far more than I actually ENJOY reading them, which is a common problem I encounter when reaching back into comicdom’s moldy past.

But by the 1970s, the storytelling had reached some strange hybrid bridge era between the histrionic, occasionally formulaic work of the 1960s and the “soap opera with tights” ethos of the 1980s and beyond. In other words, Chris Claremont didn’t reinvent the wheel, ladies and gentleman. He just grabbed the wheel and steered the car full steam in a single direction.

So, the Avengers-Defenders War. I’ve read it lauded in many corners as a high watermark of seventies Marvel, and it is pretty good and pretty fun, but I’m shocked by anyone legitimately believing that it “stands up” in any respectable way. It’s an interesting document of an interesting era, when Steve Englehart was trying to find this middle ground between adolescent superheroics and adolescent melodrama, but it’s not in any way MODERN.

Maybe I’m the only person on the planet who was expecting it to BE modern in the first place. At any rate, it amounts to that classic Marvel staple, outlined in brief in this post’s title, a bunch of superheroes misunderstanding each other and using that as an excuse to fight, fight, fight.

It’s all worth it just to get that one classic pin-up page of the Hulk and Thor locked in combat, a pose they maintain for like an hour in the story (!!!), but I’m not sure this story deserves its own classic hardcover reprint. And I’m ready for Steve Gerber now, please.

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