By Archeologist X
A look at classic, obscure and weird and quirky comic book runs.
“The Bomber Jacket Era Begins” Avengers 329-333
Today we shall take a peek at a hidden gem among the Chromium covered, holographic rabble from a much maligned era in comic book history. I’m referring to the 90s when the speculator boom created a collector craze that saw every book get a thousand different variant covers and gimmick comics. Some of these gimmicks saw comics printed in rare metal ink while others were printed in the blood of their creators. (That is a totally true occurrence and it will be discussed in another article.)
Trashing the 90s is a relatively easy thing to do among comic book fans, but it is also pretty dishonest to say that in the entire decade there were not any comics of value. Actually, many of the most celebrated comic book stories either started or ended in this decade whether it be Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (which ran from 1989-1996) or Kingdom Come (May-August 1996).
What would later be referred to as the “Bomber Jacket Era” of the Avengers actually began before many of the team members started wearing the leather jackets, back in Avengers Volume 1 issue #329. Written by Larry Hama with Pencils by Paul Ryan and Inks by Tom Palmer, the issue relies on a tried and true Avengers tactic…Assemble a new team! Cap is screaming the damn phrase on the cover of this very issue.
The new team in question consists of Thor, Sersi (of the Eternals…yeah, I didn’t know who she was either), Vision, Quasar, Black Widow and She-Hulk. (Why does she have to be called She-Hulk? Why not Madame Hulk or Hulk Woman? You don’t hear Bruce Banner calling himself He-Hulk, do you?) Although, what the hyped up copy doesn’t tell you is this issue also sees the amazing debut of the…uh…reserve substitute Avengers…Yay? The reserve substitute roster consists of Spider-Man, Black Knight, Falcon, and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Sand Man (Yeah, the Spidey bad guy) and Rage (Super 90s extreme hero guy with a tiger striped mask, leather jacket and no shirt as his costume…EXTREME!)
As you can see, Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls and a bunch of cosmic fuckity fucks called the Tetrarchs of Entropy appear and banish the core Avengers to a limbo realm leaving the subs to save the day. The three part tale runs from Avengers 329-331 and is a good introduction to the new, underdog team.
The next arc (also by Hama, Ryan and Palmer) is pretty short but very fun. Doctor Doom shows up at a shindig at Avengers Mansion and threatens to pull a suicide bomber routine unless the team hands over their secrets to inter-dimensional travel. His mother is stuck in hell and Doomy baby wants mommy back. Of course, this being a Doctor Doom story, things are not as they seem and we get to see an oddball pairing of Sand Man and the Vision taking on Doom.
Larry Hama and Paul Ryan’s very short run only lasts for a whopping five issues but it does a good job adding depth to some very obscure characters. One thing I really like about Hama’s Avengers stories is that he highlights the massive support staff that a team like that would require to function. We’re talking about the equivalent of a super powered police force, it would stand to reason that they would need a team running everyday operations. Plus, these guys sort of serve as the Avengers’ version of Star Trek’s “red shirts”, those guys that are cannon fodder when the big bad needs to kill some people off.
Our look at the origins and the legacy of the “Bomber Jacket Era” continues as we delve into Bob Harras’ run, an inter-dimensional love triangle, a dead Avenger returns…plus “Operation: Galactic Storm”!