Mark’s Remarks – Avengers #300 (February 1989)

AVENGERS #300 – – Three hundred issues of Earth’s mightiest team of heroes! In all of comics history, the only team to surpass this achievement is Marvel’s very own Fantastic Four, which came on the scene 26 months before the Avengers did. (And if there’s any justice in this world, the exploits of the Fantastic Four will be published as long as those of the Avengers are, thus maintaining its two year, two month record of longevity over the might Assemblers till the end.) Somewhat ironic that half the fabled FF have joined the Avengers for the duration of this issue, eh?

The Avengers have reached a crossroads on a number of fronts right now. First off, we have the brave new membership roster you see this issue – Cap! Thor! Mister Fantastic! Invisible Woman! and Gilgamesh! How long can this mighty amalgamation of heroes last as a fighting team? We hope you’ll be surprised.

Secondly, this issue marks the departure of Wild and Wooly Walt Simonson from the scripter’s helm of the team. After ten dramatic issues and an annual, Walt has decided to take his leave from the team he has shaken up so much in these past months, citing various personal reasons. Walt is well on his way to becoming a grand master of the comics field, and I am personally sorry to see him move on. (At least I can still catch his amazing artistry on X-FACTOR.) Pitching in script-wise for the next three issues is Reliable Ralph Macchio, who did a similar stint on this book a year ago just before Walt came on. And after that, make way for the debut of brand new AVENGERS scribe – – Genuine John Byrne! But you thought John had taken over the WEST COAST AVENGERS? Well, he has – – he’s going to write both teams of Assemblers, and draw the West Coasters to boot! If we don’t have tight coordination between the two Avengers franchises now, we’ll have to wonder if the two hemispheres of John’s brain are on speaking terms!

And finally, three short issues from now will be the last one I edit before turning this book (like WEST COAST AVENGERS and IRON MAN before it) over to Hardworking Howard Mackie. Leaving the AVENGERS has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make in my professional career. I started editing this book with issue #220, which will give me a run of 83 issues as editor before I pack it in. Not one to toot my own horn (says who?), but not only have I edited more issues of AVENGERS than anyone including the legendary Stan Lee (who scripted #1 through #34 and edited #35 through #104, giving him a 70-issue editing run), but…with the exception of Stan Lee editing his own scripts, I have edited more issues of the AVENGERS than any other Marvel editor has edited issues of any other Marvel title in Marvel’s 27 year modern history. Is that supposed to impress you? No, but I hope you can all appreciate how hard it is for me to walk away from a record run like that. In fact, when the time comes, I still may not be able to bring myself to hand over the book to good ol’ Howard!) With my name gone from these pages, you can also expect to see the disappearance of this column (a tradition since issue #268, incidentally). In fact, since my first Mark’s Remarks column for MARVEL AGE MAGAZINE is due out any time now, this is the last M’s Rems I will do for any book I edit (hold down the applause). My last three issues will be remarkless.

My oh my, this does feel like the end of an era, doesn’t it? But the Avengers – Marvel’s greatest super heroes banded together to battle menaces to the Earth that no single hero could handle alone – – will go on and on, through many eras, through many roster shuffles, through many changes in editorial and creative personnel, through many centennial issues. As long as there is a need for heroes, let the AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

–Mark Gruenwald