Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Classics - The Avengers #3

With a certain blockbuster movie hitting theaters in a few weeks, it seems like a good time to use our "Classic" reviews to focus on some of my all-time favorite issues of The Avengers.

And what better issue to start with than the first issue I bought - from 1964, issue #3. Sadly, my copy is long gone (how could I have ever let it slip away?), so here's the cover from the Masterworks reprint.

It was one of those rare comics that just blows your mind. Here we see writer Stan Lee, penciler Jack Kirby and inker Paul Reinman having a blistering good time.

They packed an incredible amount of action into a single 25-page story!

It starts with the team (made up of Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and the Wasp) trying to track down the Hulk, who quit at the end of issue #2 (making his membership a short one). Iron Man sends a hologram of himself (via an Image Projector) to ask for help from other Marvel heroes, including the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the X-Men!

Team "mascot" Rick Jones helps them locate the big green lunk, who has become uncontrollable, and a huge battle ensues, loaded with all kinds of creative twists. At one point, the Hulk strips the needles off a cactus with such velocity that they strike like bullets.

The Hulk escapes, makes his way out to sea and encounters the Sub-Mariner - so they fight each other (of course), and then agree to team up, and the two of them fight the Avengers together in another amazing brawl!

The sequence that always stuck with me was a moment in the fight where Namor and the Hulk are trying to take away Thor's hammer - but even using both hands, the Hulk can't tear Mjolnir out of Thor's hand. It was such a pivotal scene that Stan and Jack used it as the basis for an entire issue of Thor (Journey Into Mystery), as it revealed the "untold story" of Thor's battle with the Hulk.

It's entirely possible that my copy of this comic is gone because it finally disintegrated from being read so many times. There's not a lot of deep thought in this issue, but it's one of the most action-packed and purely entertaining comics I can remember reading.

It set the bar high for the series, and made The Avengers an instant favorite!

Grade: A+


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