The Avengers # 239
Published: January 1984
Written by: Roger Stern
Art by: Al Milgrom, Joe Sinnott and Christie Scheel
There are some covers you just never forgot about. Some covers are committed to memory when you first see them. So for me, as a kid growing up as a fan of both comics and David Letterman, that cover above stuck out like a sore thumb. For years that cover practically haunted me. “What the hell happens in that thing?” is what I thought for years.
Opportunity finally came on Free Comic Book Day. I found it in the back issue bin for sale. Avengers: Age of Ultron was still fresh in my head, and I was buying a few Avengers comics that day. I figured it was time to finally read how the Avengers meet David Letterman (sadly, this was not the Avengers VS David Letterman.)
First I have to tell you this issue was part of a silly (but fun tradition) Marvel Comics used to do in 1984 called “Editor’s Assistant Month” This joke was that all the editors were off at San Diego Comic Con which allowed the assistants do whatever they wanted. Apparently an Assistant was a big David Letterman fan and thought it was a good idea to have the Avengers be guests on his show.
Right off the bat, the first thing that came to mind with this issue was that it felt like reading an issue of Justice League International. It had a fun, loose story that kind of made it charming.
The story in the issue is that Wonder Man calls the Vision to help him out. No, Wonder Man isn’t fighting a villain and needs the Avengers help, he needs them to help is dying film career!
Wonder Man’s agent got him a spot on Late Night with David Letterman, but they agree to put him on the show if only he brought the Avengers with him. Since most of the team is away on a mission, and the Vision is currently in repairs after a brutal attack, the Vision calls out a favor to some reserve Avenger members (Black Widow, Black Panther, and Beast) and the only current active member of the team (and newly married to Bobbi Morse, AKA Mockingbird) Hawkeye.
I sorta love that this group (I’ll call them the Letterman Line Up) all seemed like they had 5 minutes to spare and were down help out Wonder Man. The only member who hesitated was Beast, who at the time was getting ready to lead a new roster of The Defenders. So when The Vision called, he was hesitant…until…
While the Letterman Line Up meets up for the taping, a villain plans to use this TV appearance to KILL THE AVENGERS! (Naturally.) This character is named Fabian Stankowicz and he is as pathetic as you think he is.
The show begins.
The Letterman likeness from artist Al Milgrom certainly does the job, but it is in that weird uncanny valley area because he’s trying his best to make sure Dave looks exactly like Dave, so his expressions seem a bit….samey. That being said, I kinda love what Paul Shaffer is wearing.
Truthfully, the Letterman segments are the ones that feel the most generic. Roger Stern is a very talented writer of superhero comics…but he’s not a talk show comedy writer. I almost sense Stern just trying to make these scenes go as fast as possible just so that the plot can go forward.
Now…back to our bad guy.
Fabian is in disguise, hiding out in the crowd after laying down some traps for the Avengers before the taping. But to his shock….
Yep! He’s annoyed that he’s got a B Team! But as the interview goes on, Fabian basically goes “Fuck it” and continues on to his plan.
And wouldn’t you know it EVIL robots are now attacking the stage! The Avengers are now fighting back in their obligated superhero fight. Fabian takes this moment to gloat and takes a seat right next to Letterman. He tells Dave his plans and why he’s keeping Letterman around. But our man Letterman is a clever one and uses this as an opportunity to distract Stankowicz.
Fabian monologues like a champ, giving the Avengers enough time to stop his machines. But as Hawkeye tries to shoot a stun arrow at Fabian, we find out that Stankowicz has a protective force field around him and Dave! But like I said, Letterman is a clever one and since HE’S inside the force field he knocks out Fabian using a giant door knob! Yep, Letterman saves the Avengers.
This issue was exactly what I kinda thought it was gonna be. Fun but mostly forgettable. It could have been funnier that’s for sure, but it’s all serviceable. I had a kick seeing the Avengers just had an easy day on the job.
Artist Al Milgrom, despite my criticism on his Letterman, does some great and exciting work here and while Roger Sterns writing feels mostly like a rush job, but he still puts enough wit into the cast that still felt like a fun read. I honestly wonder if Letterman ever called back to this comic since the movies started coming out. It would have been a kick if they did a version of this cover but with the movie cast in costume.
It’s also fun to realize that most of the cast in this issue will have been in the movies, or on their way to be in the movies. Ironically, Wonder Man (the character who was having the failing movie career in this issue) has not made his film debut yet….sorry Simon, as The Beast said at the end of the issue “We’ll, that’s show biz.”
Oh…right, this is UNvincible…I have to compare it to the Invincible comic….right….ummm……..no…Mark wasn’t on a talk show….real or fake……..right?
….uh….hmmmm…..I’ve got nothing.