The Groovy Agent's Pad

Like classic/retro comics, music, tv, movies, sci-fi, fantasy, etc., etc., and etc.? Then hang out with The Groovy Agent as he makes the universe safe for all the cool stuff that has come before...and even makes a little room for cool stuff yet to come!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What Made Comics Groovy! Part 1: Steve Englehart

Why start with Steve Englehart? No real reason, except he's one of the creators who consistently wowed the Groovy Agent throughout most of the 1970s. His work first came to my attention on the Beast (yep, the same furry character played so well by Kelsey Grammar in X3) series that ran in Amazing Adventures. About the same time, he took over my two favorite comics of all time: Avengers and Captain America. Before long, he was everywhere, including co-creating two of my all-time favorite characters, Shang Chi--Master of Kung Fu and Star-Lord (in Marvel Preview), plus a run on my favorite cosmic hero, Captain Marvel (or Mar-vell, so as not to be confused with the original, SHAZAM- shouting version over at DC). Oh, and he actually got me into reading Dr. Strange, had a great run on the Defenders...helped adapt Doc Savage (which introduced me to the paperbacks reprinting the pulps which I love and will no doubt write a future column on)...etc., etc., and etc. What I'm trying to say is...he did a lot of great comics for Marvel in the early to mid-70s.

Now, it wasn't just the fact that Mr. Englehart wrote comics that I already loved (Avengers, Cap, Defenders, etc.) or that he had a knack for making me love new (or at least, new to me) characters (Shang Chi, Doc Savage). No, Steve E. had a magic touch. He took what Stan Lee and Roy Thomas hammered and honed and perfected into what we call the "Marvel Age" of comics and took it to another level.

For example, today, it seems the soap opera aspect is the main draw in superhero comics. Englehart did the same thing. In fact, he made the soap opera aspect more important than just about anyone who came before him, but he did it in the midst of all the slam-bang Marvel-style action you could hope for. Yeah, the talking heads of today might be more realistic than Cap and Iron Man discussing Scarlet Witch and Vision's love-life while battling dinosaurs, but it sure was a lot more fun!

Y'know, Ol' Groove will have to devote a several future columns to Steve Englehart and his exceptional work, because there's just so doggone much of it! (I mean, I haven't even mentioned his work at DC on Batman in Detective Comics! Or on the Justice League, or on Mr. Miracle, or...) So let it be known: Groovy Agent will devote at least four more columns to the work of Steve Englehart! He will definitely clue you in on Mr. E's runs on Avengers, Captain America, Shang Chi, and Batman. Stay tuned!

--Agent Out!

Addendum: I failed to mention that Mr. E. has teamed up with his "Dark Knight" partner, penciler Marshall Rogers for a new western one-shot coming out this month from Marvel: Strange Westerns (starring the Black Rider). You can read more about it at Newsarama by clicking here. Sounds pretty cool!

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