13 Stories That Influenced My AVENGERS Debut, by PAUL LEVITZ

The former DC chief waxes rhapsodic about Marvel!

Two issues have been released so far. This is the newly unveiled cover to May’s Issue #5.

If you’re not reading The Avengers: War Across Time, Paul Levitz’s Marvel debut, you’re doing it wrong. Not only is the 5-part miniseries wildly entertaining, with wonderful Alan Davis art, it’s note perfect, especially for a guy who’s been Mr. DC for most of his waking life. So I asked Paul to list the 13 comics that influenced the story, which is a tour de force by two veteran creators, as well as a Marvel-ous tribute to the Silver Age (and Bronze Age, too). He agreed — and naturally, he starts his list with… DC! Dig it. — Dan


Action Comics #300 (May 1963, DC). A gift from my babysitter, starting me down a lifetime rabbit hole of comics. I’d be a Superman and DC fan for the next few years, partially because my mother limited me to no more than three comics each week… and there were always interesting looking DCs to pick up.

Adventure Comics #310 (July 1963, DC). I fell in love with time travel and large teams of super heroes with a coverless copy of this in a Barryville, New York, barber shop when I was 6. I’d go on to write a legion of Legion of Super-Heroes stories, but also to love the other big super groups.

Justice League of America #21 (August 1963, DC). This one cemented it — the first comic I remember buying off the stands, on the main street of Monticello, New York. The beginning of the DC Multiverse, for me anyway.

The Avengers #28 (May 1966, Marvel). This dramatic Kirby cover practically leaped out of the box of comics one of the older kids on the block let me read through. Might have been my first taste of the Avengers, a couple of years before I’d hold a copy of my own.

The Avengers #54 (July 1968, Marvel). This is where I came into the Avengers. My dad had taken the week off for my elementary school graduation (he was the president of the school’s PTA), and he didn’t enforce mom’s three-comics-a-week rule, so I tried a Marvel (look how many colorful characters on the cover!).

Tales of Asgard #1 (1968, Marvel). A reprint one-shot that was probably my first exposure to Thor, picked up because of my general interest in mythology. Didn’t realize until writing this piece that it included Sindri, the King of the Dwarfs, who I’d use in my Avengers story.

The Avengers #57 (October 1968, Marvel). “Behold The Vision!” I’d come in just in time for this moment, possibly Roy Thomas’ single best superhero story.

The Avengers #1 (September 1963, Marvel). Got my copy for $5 from Dave Solomon’s tiny used bookstore at Church Avenue and Argyle Road in Brooklyn. Nowhere near mint, but magic.

The Avengers #16 (May 1965, Marvel). There was an outrageous courage in taking the big names out of the group and replacing them with three hopefully reformed villains, leaving Cap as the only “star” (and he hadn’t headlined his own comic for over a decade)!

Amazing Adventures #1 (August 1970, Marvel). Something about this sudden expansion of the Marvel Universe captured my imagination enough that I’d start sending letters in to Marvel, and get two published in subsequent issues… and win my Marvel No-Prize, which sits in a block of Lucite on my shelf today.

The Avengers #93 (November 1971, Marvel). What a month! Suddenly both Marvel and DC expand to 48-pagers, and that means this is the longest heroic adventure Neal Adams had drawn (or would draw until Superman vs. Muhammad Ali). Sadly the longer lengths wouldn’t last, but to be looking at the stands just then was a thrill.

The Avengers Annual #1 (1967, Marvel). I’ve already admitted my weakness for quantities of costumed characters (shocking, I know, for the old Legion fan and writer). As I started collecting back on the series, this was a real treat, with no less than 15 heroes and villains gracing the cover.

The Avengers #8 (September 1964, Marvel). When I got the chance to do a retro Avengers story, I reread the early run and decided Kang was their most interesting original villain. The Marvel Cinematic Universe filmmakers might have been making the same choice about the same time, but neither of us knew about the other.


— PAUL LEVITZ Joins MARVEL for a Special AVENGERS Miniseries. Click here.

— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite PAUL LEVITZ Bronze Age Stories. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I am looking forward to reading the new Avengers story “War Across Time”. However, with comic prices today, I’m waiting for the trade.

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  2. Great recollections. It really is amazing how much we remember just based on certain comic book covers.

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  3. Great article – nice to read Paul’s own thoughts. I’d really like to know, however, whether he wrote “Avengers – War Across Time” as a full script or “Marvel style” (i.e. plot, then dialoguing the pencils). In the first two issues, the pacing of the dialogue doesn’t seem to match the visuals. I’m sticking with it, though, because I want to see where Paul takes it.

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    • Plot for Alan, then dialogue on the pencils. My plots are fairly detailed, offering possibilities for panels, but leaving room for the artist to improvise and improve the visual pacing, which Alan did in some instances, particularly in #5 where he tossed in ideas that cahnged the ending sequence.

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  4. I’m enjoying Paul, Alan and Rochelle’s Avengers enormously, and this feature was fun. Action Comics #300 haunts me to this day as the epitome of melancholy Superman tales.

    That Amazing Adventures cover blurb is marvellous, to think loads of Marvelites demanded a comic featuring both the Black Widow and the Inhumans. Obvious really!

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