A few years ago I purchased the West Coast Avengers trade paperback “Lost in Space-Time” based on a high ranking from Newsarama.
Boy, was that a mistake.
“Lost in Space-Time” is written by legend Steve Englehart, so I figured buying it was a slam-dunk. Unfortunately, Steve lost a lot of his luster from a decade prior when he did up the classic “Celestial Madonna” yarn and Avengers-Squadron Supreme arc (the latter of which debuted George Pérez’s art talents).
The dialogue in “L.I.S.T.” is hokey and childish, especially between Iron Man and Wonder Man who are constantly measuring each other’s manhood, so to speak. Al Milgrom’s art is brutal; his characters and action sequences constantly look like mannequins being posed for effect.
About the only saving grace of “LIST” is Firebird/Espirita convincing Hank Pym — who is on the verge of suicide — that life is worth living. What the heck — a progressive Marvel writer invoking God in a positive way? Who’d have thought?
Keep in mind as you indulge the following that your guide is old school — I came of age in the 70’s and early 80’s when (in my humble opinion) comic books actually were good.
AVENGERS FOREVER. Despite writer Kurt Busiek being a complete a**hole on social media, the man knows his Marvel history and continuity. His love for such oozes into each and every panel of this 12-issue limited series. Rather than rehash my adoration of this epic, here’s a link to a seven-year-old post about it on my old blog.
SERPENT CROWN EPIC (Avengers #141-144, #147-149). Did I already mention Steve Englehart? Here he is in his heyday, along with newcomer George Pérez, and they take Earth’s Mightiest to Earth-S — home of the Justice League analogue Squadron Supreme. The original run was beset by deadline delays (two issues right smack-dab in the middle of the story, #145-146, were completely unrelated) but the wait was worth it as we get treated to a Vision tour-de-force where he takes down three Squadders — including Hyperion — all by his lonesome. And, although Englehart would probably deny it today, #148 features the Beast in disguise lecturing the Squadron on the ills of socialism.
AVENGERS VS. AVENGERS (Avengers Annual #2). Back in 1968, Kang offshoot Scarlet Centurion not only interfered with Captain America journeying back to the moment Bucky was killed (Avengers #56), he now diverts Earth’s Mightiest to an alternate timeline where the original team is still together. In this reality, the Centurion convinced the Avengers to wipe out all other super beings in order to bring about a golden age on Earth. One might scoff at Cap’s (then-current) team being able to best the original quintet; alas, don’t be so sure!
FIRST INVADERS APPEARANCE (Avengers #69-71). Kang uses the Avengers as his pawns as he deals with the powerful Grandmaster. This three-issue arc introduces us to the Squadron Sinister (end of #69) and the World War II heroes known as the Invaders (#71), both of whom the Assemblers must battle in hopes (for Kang, at least) of restoring the time lord’s lover Ravonna. You may know (and if you don’t, why not?) that the Invaders went on to further adventures in their own title in the 70s.
THE KORVAC SAGA (Avengers #167-168, #170-177). The evil time-traveling half-human, half-computer Korvac discovers Galactus’s abandoned space station and uses it to evolve himself to god-like levels. Becoming “Michael,” he hatches a scheme to turn Earth, and eventually all of reality, into a paradise. However, unaware of Korvac’s transformation, the (original) Guardians of the Galaxy are after him, and they eventually team up with the Avengers to figure out what he’s up to. While Dave Wenzel’s art is rather weak in early issues, he makes up for it in the finale (#177) which, along with Jim Shooter’s incredible script, offers up an unforgettable conclusion.
FIRST SQUADRON SUPREME APPEARANCE (Avengers #85-86). Traveling back from Arkon’s world, several Avengers (Hawkeye/Goliath, Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch) are whisked to Earth-S, home of the Squadron Supreme. Before completely materializing, they see Earth-S being burned to a crisp due to the sun going nova. They finally solidify two days prior, and have to convince the Squadron of the pending danger. Roy Thomas’s penchant for too-snappy dialogue, even for incredibly intelligent scientist types, is on display here via Tom Thumb, and American Eagle’s McCarthyite yammerings are way over the top. Nevertheless, this two-ish story is a terrific introduction to a great team.
LEGION OF THE UNLIVING (Avengers #131, 132, Giant-Size Avengers #3). In his latest scheme, Kang suckers his other-self Immortus into summoning dead villains from the past to battle Earth’s Mightiest. Thor takes on Frankenstein(!), Hawkeye battles Zemo, and aside from fighting Silver Surfer nemesis the Ghost, imagine what the Vision is going through as two of the other bad guys include Wonder Man and the Original Human Torch!
What are some of your favorite time-travel or dimension hopping stories. I’ve only covered Marvel stories, because I’m a Marvel guy, but I’d love to hear from some of our DC readers also!