Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Classics - Avengers #66

   I was watching the ABC-TV special Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe the other night (well worth tracking down, if just for the teases for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and Captain America 2 movies) and it got me thinking about this issue of The Avengers.

   It features the first appearance of something that would have an impact on Marvel's comics for years to come. It's not a character or a concept - it's a piece of metal. Namely, Adamantium.

   This story is written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Barry Smith, going through his Steranko / Kirby phase (the issue is cover dated July 1969). It begins with the members of the team trying to make a mark on a cylinder made of an alloy invented by Dr. Maclain - and even Thor's hammer fails to damage it.

   Who could have predicted what an impact that invention would have on the Marvel universe? It's now a common Macguffin, used to explain everything from Wolverine's claws (and unbreakable skeleton) to Captain America's shield (which also uses the other key material in the Marvel universe - Vibranium).

   The rest of the issue is devoted to a mystery, as the Vision finds his will taken over by an outside force - and he is made to steal the Adamantium. The secret villain isn't revealed until the final page, but let's just say that being made of unbreakable metal made him particularly difficult to defeat (the story continued over the next two issues).

   This was part of a particularly strong run for the series, but I never would have thought that the events here would continue to echo more than 40 years after its publication. You have to admit - Adamantium (and the Avengers) had staying power!

Grade: A


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