• magisterrex Retro Games

    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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Obsolete Comic Reviews: The X-Men vs. The Avengers 1987

Back in 2012, wrote a series of Obsolete Comic Reviews for a website that has since itself become obsolete. The good news is that nothing is truly ever lost on the Al Gore Superhighway. Below is the recovered review; hope it pleases!

When I first heard about the upcoming Avengers Vs. X-Men twelve issue miniseries from Marvel Comics, my first thoughts were something along the line of, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”  Marvel being Marvel, the ad copy reads that this series “brings together the most powerful forces in comics for a super hero war like you’ve never seen before and will never see again“…but perhaps my memory is a bit sharper than those Marvel advertising hacks, as I can recall a miniseries that brought the X-Men and The Avengers into conflict, the 1987 four-issue limited series, The X-Men vs. The Avengers.


The X-Men vs. The Avengers #1

The limited series’ story revolved around Magneto and his past, and opened with the remains of his former space fortress, Asteroid M, falling down to Earth.  While out on a leisure time excursion with the X-Men, Magento hears a radio report of The Avengers in action as they attempt to dispose of those pieces that threatened populated areas.  So begins a four issue arc of Magneto’s pondering self-doubt of who he is: the villain of his past or the hero of his present.  Will he suffer a Dantesque fall from grace to match Asteroid M’s fate?  Or will he face his past and accept the judgment and consequences for his actions?

The X-Men vs. The Avengers #2

The X-Men vs. The Avengers #2

Interspersed between panels of his brooding are the reactions to the Master of Magnetism by the various heroes he encounters.  The Avengers seek to capture Magneto to bring him before the World Court to stand trial for crimes against humanity.  The X-Men consider a human court predisposed to judge against such a well-known mutant, and so protect their former foe (and current ally) from the Avengers.  And the Soviet Super Soldiers are a wild card that seek to capture Magneto and return him to the U.S.S.R. to stand trial for his crimes against the state (for destroying the city of Varykino and sinking a Soviet nuclear submarine).  As Magneto is a polarizing figure, everyone involved has an opinion of who and what he is and stands for, and it all played out during The X-Men vs. The Avengers.

The X-Men vs. The Avengers #3

The X-Men vs. The Avengers #3

The first three issues of the miniseries were written by Roger Stern, with art provided by Marc Silvestri.  However, the Marvel editorial board did not agree with the direction Stern wished to go in the final issue (which was to show Magneto as an unabashed villain), and changed the plot against his wishes.  Rather than staying on, Stern stepped aside and the final issue was written by Tom DeFalco.  Stern stated that DeFalco had nothing to do with the editorial decision, but did not name the editors involved.  Perhaps it’s not that difficult to generate a hypothesis on who was responsible, as the editors of the book were Mark Gruenwald and Ann Nocenti.  By this point Gruenwald was an Executive Editor and the man in charge of Marvel Continuity (the “Continuity Cop”).   It seems improbable that the “Continuity Cop” would permit such a departure from the accepted Marvel Canon for Magneto, and because of the respect his fellow editors had for Gruenwald, I doubt if anyone would have championed Stern’s story.  (It’s also interesting to note that Stern was fired by Gruenwald from writing the ongoing Avengers series shortly thereafter…but I digress.)  Regardless, Stern did not finish the series.

The X-Men vs. The Avengers #4

The X-Men vs. The Avengers #4

Stern’s absence was not the only one from the final issue: the talented Marc Silvestri, who would later go on to success as one of the seven founders of Image Comics in 1992 with the Top Cow imprint, only managed to pencil the first three issues.  Between the third and fourth issue, Silvestri was tapped to draw the Uncanny X-Men, and since that series was the engine that kept the Marvel money machine chugging along, Keith Pollard picked up the pencils for The X-Men vs. The Avengers.  It’s a bit of an odd situation when both the writer and the penciler of such a small limited miniseries move on before its completion!

There is a lot to recommend in The X-Men vs. The Avengers.  A good story, lots of action with believable conflict and motivations for those involved, and with only four issues, it does not feel artificially extended.   As part of the trilogy of VS. miniseries Marvel released at the time (Mephisto vs… and The Fantastic Four versus The X-Men were the other two), this is a recommended journey into late 1980s comic book storytelling.  Thumbs up!

Advertising From Yesteryear…Star Wars: Jedi Arena

Comic books in the 1980s and 1990s provided game publishers to market their wares to a  receptive audience, using the power of crisp comic book art to sell games, distracting potential buyers from the small windows of real screens. Sometimes the realms of comic books, video games, and Hollywood intertwined, such as in 1983, when Parker Brothers advertised their Atari 2600 game, Star Wars: Jedi Arena on the back page of Marvel Comics’ The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones. What a combination: the movie magic of Steven Spielberg’s & George Lucas’ Indiana Jones brought to a comic book format, the Star Wars universe, and the Atari 2600 gaming system, all intertwined simultaneously! How could the game be anything less than awesome?!?

Well, it turned out that Star Wars: Jedi Arena was a dog of a game, and proof that just because Parker Brothers had a movie license and made great board games, didn’t mean that they could make great video games.

As always, click on the image below to see an enlarged version, and enjoy the trip into yesteryear!

Ad for Star Wars: Jedi Arena

Advertising From Yesteryear…Captain America and the Avengers (SNES)

What’s better than a comic book with a full-page spread advertising a hot new video game title? How about TWO full-pages, one in glossy paper stock!   Fresh from the arcade and straight into the Super Nintendo system came Captain America and The Avengers, a 1993 action-packed game from Mindscape, Inc.  “Fresh” is relative, considering the Sega Genesis release date for the same game was in 1992…but advertising is rarely about complete honesty.  (The game also wasn’t that good, but it did feature the Marvel Comics superhero group The Avengers, a topical group, even all those years ago.) Still, back in the day I wouldn’t have turned down the arcade game offered as the grand prize, even if it meant cutting out the entry form from the comic book cover.

As always, click on the images to see enlarged versions, and enjoy the trip into yesteryear!

New Obsolete Comic Review – Marvel Holiday Special

A new Obsolete Comic Review is up at oldgamereviewer.com, this time focusing on the 1991 schlock-o-rama, Marvel Holiday Special #1.  Discover a One-Eyed Santa, a festive Spirit of Vengeance, and what I really think about Scott Lobdell’s writing.  All this and more can be found in this week’s installment, found HERE, YES HERE

New Obsolete Comic Review at OGR Featuring The X-Men vs. The Avengers

A new Obsolete Comic Review is up at oldgamereviewer.com, this time focusing on the 1987 Marvel Comics four-issue miniseries, The X-Men vs. The Avengers.  Learn about the disappearing acts of Roger Stern and Marc Silvestri, the temptation of Magneto, and more at: CLICK ON THIS LINK RIGHT HERE – YES, THIS ONE!

New Obsolete Comic Review at OGR Featuring Captain America

A new Obsolete Comic Review is up at oldgamereviewer.com, this time focusing on the 1991 Marvel Comics four-issue miniseries, The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty.  Learn my take on Kevin Maguire’s art, the need for better etymology in historical period comic book writing, and what it takes to make a good Captain America comic work.  All this and more at: CLICK ON THIS LINK RIGHT HERE – YES, THIS ONE!

New Obsolete Comic Reviews: Darkseid vs Galactus The Hunger

Another Obsolete Comic Review is up at oldgamereviewer.com, this time focusing on the a comic from the era of Marvel and DC Comics crossovers, Darkseid vs Galactus: The Hunger.  Learn my thoughts on John Byrne, his art, and Galactus in a skirt.  All this and I actually discuss the actual comic, too!  The link is HERE  Enjoy!