Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Classics - The Avengers #7

   While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were creative forces of nature, sometimes they stumbled a bit.

   But even those issues can make an impression.

   This issue of Avengers from 1964 is a great example. After several killer issues in the series, this comic was loaded with improbable events.

   For example:

   - The Avengers suspend Iron Man's membership for a week because he failed to respond to a recent call from the team.

   - Odin punishes the Executioner and the Enchantress by exiling them to Earth (yep, they'll cause no problems there). Thanks, All-Father!

   - They join forces with Baron Zemo to form the second version of the Masters of Evil. The Executioner somehow disguises himself as a Baron Strucker lookalike, but somehow manages to hide his 7-foot-tall frame behind a mask.

   - Cap travels to the Amazon, fights Zemo's army, they flies back to New York while hanging on the outside of Zemo's aircraft. What a guy!

   - Thor falls for the oldest trick in the book, and the Enchantress casts a spell that turns him against his teammates.

   And that was the scene that made such an impact on 8-year-old me. Caught in the spell, Thor imagines Iron Man, Cap, Giant-Man and the Wasp as horrible, nightmarish villains. It was a scary image!

   What follows is a raw battle between Thor and his teammates - and young me wondered how they were going to stand against a fighting mad Asgardian!

   The wrap-up to the story is as silly and convenient as the rest of the issue - but I love this comic!

   Perhaps it was the fight between former allies (one of the first such fights I had seen), perhaps it was the great Kirby art (here inked by the excellent Chic Stone), perhaps it was the clever bits of business scattered throughout (Cap training with a group of professional wrestlers is a lot of fun), and perhaps it was Cap's amazing battle with an army in the Amazon.

   It's a bit slim on the story side, with the usual fantastic dialogue by Stan - but it's still a beloved issues of The Avengers (at least by me) because of the impact it had on my young mind.

   Just further proof that, while they can't all be winners, with the right craftsmanship, seasoned pros can move past the weaknesses of a story and keep your attention focused on the series, instead of an individual issue.

Grade: B




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