In analyzing Volumes 4 and 5 of the Essential Avengers, one critic wrote, “in the big category, you get to watch the creators—particularly [Steve] Englehart—work out how modern comics were to be written, both the way that events took place in subplots that built to the next major crisis with one or two stories in between them…” (“CR Review: Essential Avengers, Vols. 4-5,” www.comicsreporter.com, June 4, 2012). We’ve mentioned our admiration for Englehart’s work in the past. We feel his stories are always progressing and not mired in profound psychological reflection or existential doubt.
In October 2010, Jeffery Kleahn (jeffreyklaehn.blogspot.com) interviewed Steve Englehart, who said: “If you’re trying to write thrillers like I do, you need a coherent plot, at least as a framework. But then you have to let the characters be who they are.” We feel that such respect for the character is essential. Otherwise, characters become mere mouthpieces for the authors, at the expense of psychological unity.
In October 2010, Jeffery Kleahn (jeffreyklaehn.blogspot.com) interviewed Steve Englehart, who said: “I was writing Captain America and America was transfixed by Watergate, and I couldn’t see how Captain America could NOT react to that – so I started commenting on real-world events. I found that even though I was writing fantasy, the more firmly it grounded in reality, the better it was.” In our opinion, this connection with reality allows readers to have something in common with the fictional character.
Some comic-book writers are iconic, but there are also other more low-profile writers who were also influential. Steve Englehart, who worked at Marvel during the 70s, is one of the latter. While everyone raves about the work of Alan Moore, I think we shouldn’t overlook writers like Englehart who incorporated very contemporary issues into his stories. Take for example the Watergate subtext in the “Secret Empire” saga (for instance, in issue 175 of “Captain America”) and corruption in the business world, which is shown through Roxxon Oil (“Avengers” issues 141 to 149). Englehart also had a gift for creating coherent worlds that were well adapted to the titles he worked on. He served the storylines without twisting them around to fit his own style. Because of that, some claim he lacked personality, but we feel this demonstrated great skill and respect for the reader.