Avengers #5 Splash

Credit for the inspiration for this one goes out not only to the King himself, Jack Kirby, who drew the original panel on which this piece is based, but also to my longtime pal, Gene “The GeneLantern” Cahill.

Back when I was a young college student at good ol’ Caldwell College (Now Caldwell University) in Caldwell, New Jersey, I used to work part-time for Gene at the comic shop he managed, Timewarp Comics & Games, in nearby Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Gene taught me a lot about comics in those days especially on that special era of comics which we both shared a passion for, the Silver Age. I was more of a DC guy but Gene was a huge Silver Age Marvel guy. His favorite characters were Iron Man and Captain America. It was Gene who introduced me to this panel for the very first time by way of a reprint in the Marvel Masterworks edition of The Avengers. It was one of his favorite panels and it quickly became one of mine too. It stuck with me all these years and this summer, when I started revisiting some of my favorite Silver Age Marvel covers and panels, I just knew I had to give this one a shot.

Here’s a look at the original panel as masterfully drawn by Jack Kirby himself and as it originally appeared in The Avengers #5:

As you can see, I took a few creative liberties from the original. Some of these edits were out of necessity. I wasn’t going to deal with all the copy and dress so my composition right off the bat was going to be more vertical and rectangular than the original which more or less worked in a largely square space.  To make more use of my vertical image area, I pushed Giant Man more to the back and I put Thor in the air. Moving Thor up gave me a little more room to play with Captain America. Cap, I felt, was too important be just be a head poking out of the back.

I’d considered dropping Rick Jones since I sort of wanted this to be a quintessential Silver Age Avengers piece focusing primarily on the team itself. I also didn’t want to be forever dogged by the question of “Who’s that kid in the front?” by uninformed fans.  In the end, though, I couldn’t bring myself to ditching Rick. This was going to be an homage to the splash from Avengers #5 and Rick was there, damn it!

I chose to push for a bit more of an upshot to make the entire shot a bit more dramatic and to make the Avengers themselves more commanding. Plus, that choice also made more use of the vertical space.

What do you think? Are there any other memorable comic book panels you’d like me to revisit?

Please let me know in the comments below!


Thanks, Everybody!



13 comments on “Avengers #5 Splash”

    • fernando

      All of the pieces like this one that I’ve drawn this summer, I’ve left as stand-alone pencil pieces. I haven’t inked or colored any of them yet. I might go ahead and get them to that stage but right now I’m having fun just drawing them.

  1. Dennis Roy

    I get the feeling that Kirby was just going for this quiet moment where there’s a brief lull in the action-filled lives of these characters, and they’re all just slowly walking forward with no real urgency, each lost their own private thoughts, thinking about events that just happened in the previous issue, or maybe even what was going on in their individual lives in Tales to Astonish, Tales of Suspense, and Journey Into Mystery (Rick has his hands buried in his pockets, looking almost “down in the dumps”, maybe worrying about the Hulk). Even though they’re bunched fairly close together, there’s this feeling that they’re all isolated as individuals. It’s nothing that would have made a good cover, or a pin-up page, and I think Kirby was aware of that. At least that’s what I got out of it. Your version is more dramatic.

      • Dennis Roy

        It’s definitely a transitional phase for the Avengers, here. They’re accepting the fact that they’ve lost any hope of bringing the Hulk back into the team (after the Space Phantom assumed his identity, and the Hulk’s realization of their distrust of him). In fact it’s worse, because now they’ve made him a bitter enemy. At this point Iron Man is the de facto leader of the team, with Cap having just returned from two decades on ice, somewhat disoriented by the changes that have taken place, and with the death of Bucky still fresh in his mind, and not yet having asserted his natural leadership skills. And yet this group of Avengers will only remain together for a mere dozen issues!

  2. fernando

    More and more, I’m coming to believe that unless otherwise specifically mentioned in an issue, all those early issues of the Marvel Universe took place within the span of a week!

    For the first two or three years of The Amazing Spider-Man, it seemed like Stan Lee was going for a “real world” passage of time until he realized he was soon going to be dealing with a middle aged Peter Parker and he put the brakes on the whole aging naturally thing.

  3. Dennis Roy

    I totally agree! “Real-time” lasted until Franklin Richards was born in 1968 – the first 7 years of FF. That also happens to coincide with when Goodman sold his company to Cadence Industries, and a new distribution deal was cut with Curtis, freeing Marvel from the onerous limit on titles imposed by Independent News (owned by DC).

    • fernando

      I never made the connection with the halting of “real time” and the selling of Marvel. That’s an interesting point. I’ve always felt “real time” came to a halt… or at least slowed considerably once Peter Parker went to college and yes, when Franklin was born. Children always seem to really throw a monkey wrench into any comic book’s timeline. Writers can’t seem to help themselves and resist from aging their child characters. Then when the complications and contradictions arise as a result, they seem to fall back on the ol’ “Don’t think about it too hard!” Look at Kitty Pryde and the pre-Crisis Dick Grayson! I’m not sure how old Franklin Richards got to be. I remember him from when John Byrne kept him at a perpetual 4 1/2 years old. I imagine if he’s still at that age, those 4 1/2 years are pretty dense by now.

  4. Dennis Roy

    Wow, this is really a pain. This site just won’t let me post anything. Maybe one try out of 30 gets through, the rest, nada.

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