1. If I were a super hero, I'd want to hang around with other super heroes. That's the appeal of a team book, seeing super heroes interact with their peers. Sure, it's interesting to see how civillians react to super heroes, but I like to know what goes on behind closed doors, what the real pecking order is among the superhuman elite, who gets along with whom and who thinks who's a blowhard. Of all the team books ever done, THE AVENGERS does this best.
2. The difference between groups and teams: a group is any collection of individuals with something in common, such as an ethnic group, a social group, etc. A team is a collection of individuals, united in purpose and action: such as a sports team, a debate team, a drill team. The Avengers is a team. Infinity Watch is a group.
I've heard a lot of artists say they hate drawing group books. I couldn't figure that out at first- after all, aren't all books group books? Doesn't every solo hero have a group of supporting characters? Then I realized that what these artists disliked was executing the choreography of multiple individuals in action together. That is, indeed, a lot harder than drawing a single hero against a single villain. Artists vary drastically in their ability to depict simultaneous multiple actions. The best AVENGERS artists- like John Buscema, John Byrne and Steve Epting- are the best action choreographers. They can draw multiple actions on multiple planes in the same panel, clearly showing the relationship of each hero to the others at any given moment.
3. I always had a problem with the world's mightiest super-team relying on one man, good 'ol Jarvis, to do everything from cooking to coordinating field assignments. It may have been fine in the early days when the Avengers were little more than a social club for super heroes, but now they're the preeminent super hero peace-keeping force! Under my editorial tenure, I instituted Jarvis' staff. It's not that we have to see them every issue; it's just comforting to know they're there.
I love knowing the rules and regulations by which organizations are supposed to act. When I was the AVENGERS editor, I reread all the back issues trying to come up with the team's standard operating procedures. Then I commissioned writer Roger Stern to write the Avengers charter. To me, it would be next to impossible to write or edit a single story of a team before I knew exactly how that team was supposed to function. It is also grist for a hundred stories that contrast the way a team's supposed to act with the way the members of a team actually do act.
4. My favorite all-time AVENGERS storylines: 1. Kree-Skrull War...2. The Korvac Saga...3. The Scarlet Witch/Wundagore/Chthon three-parter (which, immodestly enough, I co-plotted)...4. The Kang/Celestial Madonna Quest...
My least favorite AVENGERS storylines: 1. The Hank and Jan Pym break-up...2. Ms. Marvel gets pregnant by Marcus Immortus...3. Acts of Vengeance...
Funny thing about Ms. Marvel and Marcus Immortus: in the original scenario Marcus wasn't supposed to be the father of Carol Danvers' "child", the Supreme Intelligence was. The child in AVENGERS#200 was supposed to be a newborn cosmic baby with the S.I.'s spaghetti-head look. But a WHAT IF story about the Kree-Skrull War came out around the same time, with a plot featuring a Supreme Intelligence spawn, so the editor in chief ordered writer David Michelinie to find a different father. Thus the nonsensical finale of issue #200!
5. My favorite Avengers line-up to date: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Yellowjacket and the Wasp. It's got the big three, plus two very different couples. While Cap, Thor and Iron Man were always the heart of the Avengers, the Vision and Scarlet Witch were the soul. Watching thier ardrous relationship grow was one of the book's biggest pleasures in the 70's. When they got married, all the dramatic tension dissolved from their relationship, and there was nothing comparable to take its place! (Finally now, with the Crystal-Black Knight-Sersi triangle we have something romantically interesting going on!) I like the Vision's reversion to his original personality. It feels like I've gotten the true Vision back after all these years. (But do something about that milk-white suit you're wearing, Vizh!)
My least favorite Avengers line-up: Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Tigra, and Wasp. No romance.
Good characters who should never have become Avengers: Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, and Sandman.
Folks who seriously need to become Avengers: Thundra, Giant-Man, Will 'O the Wisp, and Iron Fist.
6. Sometime I regret having invented the West Coast Avengers. It came out of a discussion I had with then-AVENGERS writer Roger Stern. We were doing the "Ultimate Vision" storyline which culminated in #254, and I said, "We've got to make this a big deal, have this story change their status quo forever." We had the Vision plan an international Avengers organization with fanchises all over the place. He only got as far as a West Coast branch before his sinister programming was discovered. So why do I regret the AWC's existence? Well, to legitimatize the second team, we wanted one of the founding Avengers in the line-up. Iron Man was out west at the time, so we designated him as the old-time mainstay. I now realize that, in doing so, I permanently disconbobulated the Cap, Thor, Iron Man trinity that is at the Avengers' core. Mea Culpa.
7. Both Avengers teams need more good villains. The only good Avengers villains are those powerful enough to give the whole team a run for its money. I mean, once you go past Kang and Ultron, who is there? It's amazing that the team has lasted 30 years and still has so few recurring villains. Immortus? Too much like Kang, too ambiguous in his villainy. Grim Reaper? Not as yet powerful enough to take them all on. Nebula? She's in Silver Surfer terrain now. Who else is there? I must admit that the new guys Bob Harras has whipped up- Proctor and the Gatherers- are very intriguing. Time will tell if they become big-time.
8. When we wrote the MARVEL UNIVERSE Avengers Mansion entry, we decided to determine where the building was located. In all past stories, it was on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park, so I personally scouted Fifth Avenue from 59th street all the way uptown along the park. The block between 70th and 71st streets caught my eye. On it is the Frick Museum, a dead ringer for the original Avengers Mansion! Wonder if this was the inspiration way back when the mansion was first designed?
And once, when AVENGERS Editor Ralph Macchio and I visited Los Angeles, WEST COAST scribe Roy Thomas gave us directions to Palos Verde Drive. We drove right past where we calculated the West Coast compound to be.
9. Special notes to kids who play the Avengers in the backyard: The best Avengers to impersonate in order to maximize the action are: Cap, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Black Knight, Thor, Wonder Man, Mockingbird and She-Hulk.
A. Cap: A garbage can cover will make an adequate Cap's shield, but make sure it's a plastic one before you throw.
B. Hawkeye: Try that new Nerf crossbow, and don't expect a boxing-glove arrow to fly very far.
C. Quicksilver: When running at super-speed, make a distinctive verbal "speed whine". When everyone hears it, they have to shift to slow motion.
D. Black Knight: Plastic swords only. Wood hurts.
E. Thor: A croquet mallet hammer works fine, but remember- Thor nevers throws Mjolnir at mere mortals and neither should you. Just use it for deflecting projectiles, smashing cardboard walls or doors down, and summoning lightning.
F/G. Wonder Man & She-Hulk: Every "normal strength" opponent has to agree to pullpunches and collapse at your every touch. After all, you're super-strong.
H. Mockingbird: For battle-staves, I recommend empty wrapping paper tubes or plastic toy nunchakus, taken apart.
I. Avoid Yellowjacket, Goliath, Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel & Quasar. Their powers are next to impossible to simulate without having to constantly explain to your playmates what you've done to them.
-- Mark Gruenwald