By Ryan Penagos
#1 by Arthur
Every generation has its own heroes, standout series and memorable comics. But to fully appreciate the big events of today, it's important to truly understand that which has come before.
Take the Avengers, for example. Between MIGHTY AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS, Brian Michael Bendis is creating some of the finest work of his career. But without the foundations laid over the past 40-plus years, Earth's Mightiest Heroes may never have existed. In order to bring these original stories back into the spotlight, Marvel's rolling out AVENGERS CLASSIC, a very special June-launching series that's much more than a book of reprints.
"AVENGERS CLASSIC came about because of a conversation that I was having with [collections editor] Mark Beazley and a few other people," says series co-editor Andy Schmidt. "I tossed out this notion that with Avengers being as big as it is right now with Brian Bendis, David Finch, Frank Cho and all these awesome guys doing it and it's selling like gang busters, we should do AVENGERS CLASSIC like the old X-MEN CLASSIC.
"I didn't think that much of it that night, but then Mark Beazley got the project approved and all of a sudden we found out we were co-editing this book. We're reprinting from Stan and Jack's first issue. They are being recolored, the color is being punched up, it's very modified. It should be the best presentation those comics have had since they were originally published."
#2 cover pencils
But don't worry purists, the recoloring won't be a drastic change. "It's old style coloring," assures Schmidt. "The last time they were printed, in Marvel Masterworks, they tried to upgrade the coloring, but it didn't quite work with how the pages were drawn, so now we're going back to make that look right. Mark and I really just looked at that X-MEN CLASSIC as a template."
Part of that template means bringing in current writers and artists to create new covers and back-up stories to go along with the classic tales. And for AVENGERS CLASSIC, they shot for the moon. "We got Arthur Adams to contribute covers," boasts Schmidt. "We threw all the Avengers we could on the first cover and Art's stuff just looks amazing. We're also doing back-up stories, 8 or 10 pages in each issue."
You know series launches are special at Marvel, so AVENGERS CLASSIC #1 has something extra to get the fans excited. "There's actually two back-up stories because it wouldn't be Avengers #1 without a new Stan Lee story," says Schmidt. "So Stan Lee contributes one of the back-up stories that's being penciled by Kevin Maguire, which is very cool. The second one is written by Dwayne McDuffie, who's doing Fantastic Four right now amongst other things. It's being painted by Mike Oeming. He's never done any painting for publication before, which is really, really neat. It's clearly Mike's work, so if you like his work, [you can see that] it's Mike's work, but it's really fresh. It feels right for a book like this with the stories that [are] sort of old school, but [this] has a sort of modern flair to it. Dwayne and Mike are going to be doing the back-up stories each month--for the first few issues, anyway."
Never picked up an original Stan and Jack Avengers issue? Now's the perfect time. "[We're] just trying to bring people up to speed on what the Avengers were like back in the day and hopefully keep these books in print for a long time." Check out the first issue this June.
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