AVENGERS #326-328 (1990): 1st Rage; Larry Hama run begins


These three issues mark the beginning of Larry Hama’s run, and the first thing he does is introduce a new black character named “Rage.”  It makes for some faintly interesting, albeit heavy-handed, race discussions between the Harlem hero and Captain America.


I’m not sure if comics are a medium that can really engage well in a complex social issue like race–at least not monthly comics.  The X-Men did, in a way, but it took years of development and even then there were times when the books seemed preachy and didactic.

Anyway, Rage’s arguments are well made–even if his dialect is slanted.

Most of these issues are about Rage–developing his character and fighting drug dealers in Harlem. But there’s also a nuclear-based threat that brings the team to another dimension, and the government revokes The Avengers’ license-to-be-superheroes. The two storylines together are kind of telling: Larry Hama is a street-story writer, and now he’s on a cosmic team. The cosmic nature of The Avengers is at odds with the overall direction of Marvel, which is towards gritty, violent books. Is there a place for The Avengers in the early ’90s?

And Diamondback and Sersi fight over the right to flirt with Captain America, who seems to be over his relationship with Diamondback.

Marvel had high hopes for this run–and launched it in conjunction with a new team on Avengers West Coast. The issues got a full cover feature in Marvel Age #93.

Hama is dressed like GI Joe, which is what he was then famous for, and Thomas is in a Dr. Strange cloak, because that was his other monthly series at the time.

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