Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Avengers #7: The curious case of The Swordsman's helmet

There was a time Page Publications' The Avengers #7 was a bit special. For some reason, this digest edition presented an alternate cover to the US edition of The Avengers #19.

The interesting difference is not so much the colouring as the line work, evident in the Swordsman's helmet. The original has a sharp fin, whereas the alternate has a broader, flatter top. See below for image courtesy GCD:

As I understand it, the sharper fin was a modification by Don Heck over Jack Kirby's original, but I'm happy to be corrected on this.

All well and good. Until I discovered, some months ago, courtesy of an overseas collector, that the original version had been published many years before the Australian edition in the UK edition of Terrific! #28:

The colouring may be even poorer on this edition, but the linework is clearer for the purposes of comparison.

Again, all well and good. Until I happened to be browsing through my copy of Marvel Masterworks #19, and realised that the original version is the one which has been included in this volume too:

So it would appear that as far as Marvel is concerned, this is the image which is part of the official Avengers canon. Probably not intentionally, but effectively, this is the image most readers will be familiar with.

Well. sort of... because, on further digging, courtesy of GCD, I've found more instances in which the original image was used, before the Masterworks edition was published. For example:

No doubt there will be more International editions with the original cover image. And I expect there are other Marvel editions with the correct image, the Masterworks edition notwithstanding.

But it does mean the little Australian edition is not quite as exclusive as it once appeared.

Update 16/6/2019: As it turns out, it's not even an exclusive Australian variant - the flat top version was published before the Yaffa edition by Newton Comics on the cover of The Avengers #15:

I really should have noticed this earlier but I didn't get my copy of the Newton edition until recently. 

Note the colouring of The Swordsman's costume is close to the Terrific version.

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