Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Classic Comics - Avengers #1

   The legend about The Avengers is that the issue was thrown together on very short notice to fill a sudden void in the publishing schedule.

   As the story goes, the Silver Age of Marvel started when publisher Martin Goodman instructed Stan Lee to create a comic featuring a super-team like DC's newest success, the Justice League. 

    Rather than create a team with its greatest heroes (the '50s heroes Captain America, Namor and the Human Torch), Lee worked with Jack Kirby to create a new team - the Fantastic Four (though he hedged his bets and used a new version of the Torch).

   Two years later, when they needed an idea fast, they went back to the JLA idea - and this time, they had some "modern" heroes to throw together for the new team.

   So Lee and Kirby brought together Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Ant-Man and the Wasp into a team that didn't get its name until the issue's final panel.

    The team is brought together by accident, as Loki plans an attack on Thor (in fact, this issue could just as easily have been an issue of Thor (Journey Into Mystery), with the other characters serving as guest stars.

   It's a terrific, high-octane issue, with lots of amazing battle sequences as the heroes think the Hulk has lost control. It's fast, free-wheeling start to an incredibly successful series.

   I first read this story not in the comic published above, but in the pages of Marvel Tales #2.

   What a delight that issue was in those days (1965) when reprints were impossible to find!

   At the time, Marvel Tales was part of Marvel's summer annuals - a real treat that only appeared during the summer months!

   The issue included the first issue of X-Men, the origin of Dr. Strange, and an early adventure starring the Hulk! All for a quarter!

   (In case you're wondering, the first Marvel Tales Annual included the origins of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor and Iron Man.) Eventually the series would become a regular reprint series, appearing monthly - and provided a much-needed lifeline to those early issues that seemed so far out of reach!

Grade: A+


1 comment:

Kevin Findley said...

Those annuals (and their DC equivalents) were in a huge cardboard box at the local barbershop when I was a kid. I'd read them while my grandfather got his haircut and then waited around to talk to his friends. My favorites were the FF reprints.