Monday, April 3, 2017

Crabs, Assemble, Part Thirty-Two- The Final Insult: The Avengers by John Byrne Omnibus

 And lo, there shall come an ending.....

...and none too soon.

 Don't get me wrong....I loved this massive AVENGERS binge-read (mostly...), but I'm ready to move on to other things. I've been at this for thirty-two volumes, some of them MASSIVE (Essential, omnibus, Epic, Masterworks, hardcovers, softcovers.....), and it's taken a little over seven months. The things I do for comics.....

 THE AVENGERS BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS collects WEST COAST AVENGERS #'s 42-46, AVENGERS WEST COAST #'s 47-62 and ANNUAL #4, AVENGERS #'s 305-318 and ANNUAL #18, and material from AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT #23, WHAT THE--?! #6, MARVEL AGE #'s 70, 74, 76, and 81, MARVEL 1989- THE YEAR IN REVIEW, and MARVEL 1990- THE YEAR IN REVIEW. I've covered a bunch of these issues in my reviews for AVENGERS WEST COAST: VISION QUEST, ATLANTIS ATTACKS OMNIBUS, 
ACTS OF VENGEANCE! OMNIBUS, and AVENGERS WEST COAST: DARKER THAN SCARLET..., so I won't rehash what I've already done.

 What's exclusive to this omnibus:

 A cute John Byrne/Kieron Dwyer short that features the newly-reconstituted Vision as a guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show (Alongside Charo and Pee Wee Herman!), which was a lot of fun.

 The start of Byrne's tenure on THE AVENGERS, which begins underwhelmingly, as the team is attacked by The Lava Men, which ends with Gilgamesh being literally stepped on and almost killed, causing the group to see out Gilgamesh's people, The Eternals, for help. Sersi joins the team when The Eternals are attacked by Blastaar, and sticks around to replace the sidelined Gilgamesh.

 We get the complete contents of the two Annuals, which is always a treat. Nothing earth-shattering, but part of the fun of those oversized issues were the back-up stories.

 We also get the two issues of AVENGERS WEST COAST (#'s 58-59) that were left out of the AVENGERS WEST COAST: DARKER THAN SCARLET... collection. Both are fairly inconsequential, but the completest in me was happy to see them included, even as the human being in me that likes to be entertained cried out in boredom.

 The collection wraps up with another aborted John Byrne storyline (His storming off of AVENGERS WEST COAST also included storming off of THE AVENGERS!), this one involving the team's outer-space battle against Nebula. Spider-Man guest-stars, and is even offered Avengers membership....I wonder if Byrne would have included Spidey on the team if he had stuck around? The story arc is finished by 1990's Marvel stalwart Fabian Nicieza, who rises to the task admirably, although I didn't care for how he turned Spider-Man into a quivering pile of jelly when faced with Nebula's power...I also hated how he had Captain America basically tell Spidey how he wasn't really ready for the big leagues and send him packing...still, Nicieza did the best that could be expected to do, since I'm assuming Byrne's departure didn't leave him a lot of time, or space, for him to craft his own ending.

 The book wraps up with a Byrne story ("Smacks of Vengeance") from What The--?! #6, which was very reminiscent of old-school MAD spoofs, a bunch of related articles, covers, and interviews from MARVEL AGE, and articles from MARVEL 1989- THE YEAR IN REVIEW and MARVEL 1990- THE YEAR IN REVIEW, some unused covers, house ads, and original art pages from Byrne.

 It's fitting that we end on a Byrne omnibus, since we started this marathon on one was back in August (MARVEL UNIVERSE BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS), even though it ended up being the third book reviewed in the marathon. This volume had some fun moments, and some great art, but it mainly served as a sad reminder that Byrne, while incredibly talented, is almost always hampered by his inability to actually finish what he starts, and has burned almost all of his bridges in the comic-book industry. His ego and temper have cost his fans some potentially epic stories.

 THE AVENGERS BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS earns a healthy eight out of ten crabby old Canadian egomaniacs:
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