comic books that have changed my life #6

Returning to the long left idle series on some of my favorite comic books, I will focus on The Avengers #164. This is the second issue of The Avengers' title that I will examine. (The previous one was #171 which I reviewed way back in February 2006.) Issue #164 features guest penciler John Byrne. John Byrne is one of my all time favorite comic book artists. This issue was one of his early efforts for Marvel Comics, but he would soon make a huge splash in the comic world when he became the regular penciler for the X-Men (starting with issue #108 of that series).

I love Byrne's work. For quite some time he was the top artist at Marvel. George Perez was a close second, but Byrne's work just had something that impressed the hell out of me. He continued to produce great work for many years until he began writing titles as well as drawing them. Then he seemed to hurry his drawing.

Anyway, The Avengers #164 was early in his career at Marvel, but he was already showing those signs of greatness. His inker was Pablo Marcos for this three issue story that John would being drawing, giving George Perez, Avengers' regular artist, a break. And I am focusing on the first part of the three issue story, because as I've said previously, the set up issue seems to be more interesting then the conclusion issue of a storyline.

The synopsis of this issue tells of an old Avengers' villain, Count Nefaria, recruiting three other villains: Power Man, Whirlwind, and the Living Laser, to help him defeat the Avengers once and for all. Through the efforts of the team of scientists he employed, Count Nefaria enhances the powers of the three recruited bad guys. But only temporarily. This reunited and boosted Lethal Legion rob a bank, the Avengers try to stop them, but they get away and regroup and counterattack. In their counterattack, the Legion appear to have the upper hand and are about to become victorious when their powers begin to mysteriously disappear. Enter Count Nefaria, crackling with the super powers he'd just stolen from the Lethal Legion. That dastardly double crosser!

Ok, it ain't Tolstoy, but it's good comic book fun.

Now to look at the art...

The cover (see above) was draw by George Perez and it depicts the Lethal Legion putting the beat down on the Avengers. Power Man states that the Avengers are finished, but someone is shouting, "Not all of them!" But who is it? We do see a pair of gloved hands, but the story doesn't let us know who it is. Is it Yellow Jacket? The Wasp? The Scarlet Witch? I guess we aren't supposed to know. It was a common practice in comic books to have cover art that didn't exactly fit the story inside.

The first frame I'm including is the beginning of the second battle between the Avengers and the Lethal Legion. The three bad guys decide to use the old attention getter of throwing a car through the window of the second story conference room of the Avengers' mansion. How the Legion knew our heroes were gathered there I don't know. Still it is a dramatic shot with the great sound effect "KA-SMA-A-ASH!" Marvel always did pride themselves with their uncannily descriptive sound effect words.

Next is a two frame sequence in which we get to see just how much more powerful Power Man has become. At the expense of the Beast, unfortunately. Poor Beast, that looks like it hurt.

Then I have the last page of the issue. Here is where Count Nefaria makes his dramatic entrance. He tears up the street under the Avengers' feet, sending them all down to the ground, stunned. A shocked Capt. America recognizes the villain and can't believe Nefaria is capable of such a display of power.

And doesn't the Scarlet Witch have quite the nice behind?

I'm also including another two frame segment that always bugged me. It shows the Whizzer (yep, that's his name) speeding through his apartment. He's heading off to get into the action, but he really shouldn't because he's an older fellow and he's got heart trouble. Anyway, he's using his power of traveling at super speed when his daughter, the Scarlet Witch, (she wasn't really his daughter. It's complicated, so just take my word for it.) gets in his way.

He grabs a trellis rod and spins himself backward into the wall to keep from colliding with his daughter. I always thought the drawings were confusing. Why would he go backward? Looking at it now, I think I understand what happened. The Whizzer (Yes! That is his name!) must have reached to the left side of the frame to the "off camera" trellis rod and that's why he's flung backward into the wall. I guess Byrne had difficulty fitting the trellis into the frame.

Yes! He was called The Whizzer!

I'll do more writing on the comic books soon. I hope.


  1. Just as that Whizzer sequence confused you, the sequence with Power Man punching Beast confused me. Byrne has crossed the axis, so that it makes me queasy trying to figure out if Power Man is punching Beast with the same hand he grabbed him with.

  2. Think of it this way... There are two "cameras" for the sequence. One in front of Power Man (first frame), one in back (second frame). When you think of it that way you'll see that Power Man grabs the Beast with his right hand and punches with his left.

    Thanks for the comment!