AVENGERS: ABSOLUTE VISION BOOK 1 (Marvel, First Printing, 2013; Softcover)
Collects Avengers #231-241, Avengers Annual #11, 12, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Fantastic Four #256, and Doctor Strange #60 (cover dates Annual 1982- March, 1984)
Writers: Roger Stern, John Byrne, J.M. DeMatteis, Bill Mantlo, and Ann Nocenti
Artists: Al Milgrom, Bob Budiansky, John Byrne, Dan Green, Butch Guice, and John Romita, Jr. with inking by John Romita, Sr., Joe Sinnott, Jack Abel, Brett Breeding, Kim DeMulder, and Rick Magyar
Roger Stern's run on The Avengers picks up steam as it goes along. The book starts out with a non-Stern tale, Avengers Annual #11, which I had as a quarter box find in 1983 or 1984. This issue should have been collected during The Trial Of Yellowjacket trade, as it was published during the timeframe of those issues. Marvel is really good at picking up spares with their unofficial “no issue remains uncollected” policy. I am sure that whenever they get around to rereleasing this material in the Masterworks or Epic line that the issue will be inserted in it's proper place. Another stray that belonged in that book was Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, which introduced the new Captain Marvel. Better to have them here than not have them collected at all though, right?
I had quite a few of these comics as cheapo quarter box comics shortly after they were originally published. I had Avengers Annual #11, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, and #235, and 236 back in the '80s as a lad.
I really enjoyed the crossover of issues 233 and 234 with the Fantastic Four issues. Annihilus has arrived on Earth and is set to destroy both our universe and the Negative Zone. It is during this arc where the Vision enters the Null-Field surrounding the Baxter Building where Annihilus was running his campaign, shorting the Vision out and putting his synthetic android body into a coma of sorts. Avengers trainee Starfox contacts his home, the moon of Titan, and has the moon's computer brain, ISAAC, beam it's consciousness to Earth so that the Vision can obtain the knowledge necessary to repair his android body. Things change for the Vision in ways that are not yet fully revealed.
Roger Stern is among the holy trinity of Avengers writers, right next to Roy Thomas and Kurt Busiek. Steve Englehart is a close fourth, while Brian Michael Bendis doesn't even enter the conversation when talking about great Avengers writers. Al Milgrom does the bulk of the artwork in this book, and his work is best described as serviceable. I liked his art quite a bit during the '80s but it honestly doesn't hold up very well today. Only when he is paired with a strong inker like Joe Sinnott do things look good. Modern fans weaned on Photoshop assisted art and coloring will likely balk at the dated nature of the artwork in this book.
If you are able to get past that then what you have are some fine stories. Roger Stern comes into his own on the title, continually refining his craft. The issues collected in the next book are where things really get cooking. Stern is basically setting the table here...and what a table it is.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I am a sucker for trades that clock in over 400 pages and use this paper stock. I will buy almost anything old collected in this format.
Linework and Color restoration: Everything looks good except for the Fantastic Four issues. The restoration on those was done over a decade ago and the best source material was not used. This is the same restoration on those issues found in the old Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne line of trades as well as the Fantastic Four By John Byrne Omnibus books. I am certain that the Masterworks will eventually improve them when that line gets there around the turn of the next decade.
Paper stock: Matte coated stock of sufficient thickness and weight. This is the same stock found in the softcover Marvel Masterworks and Epic line books.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock.