Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Classics - Avengers #2

   With the original run of The Avengers, I missed the start of the series by a slim three months.

   The first issue I picked up was issue #3, which remains to this day one of my all-time favorite comics (as I wrote about here). I've never owned a copy of #1.

   This issue - #2 - I got in a trade.

   When I was a kid, the guys in our neighborhood would gather regularly to trade comics. None of us cared much about collecting, we just wanted to read the issues we'd missed along the way - and even at this early stage of the Silver Age, Marvel Comics were in big demand.

   So we'd gather in someone's yard or garage. We'd bring some issues we wanted to trade, and then we'd wheel and deal for the comics we wanted.

   Sometimes you could get a good deal - and sometimes you had to pay dearly.

   I don't remember our terms, but whoever I traded for this issue probably got several comics in exchange. And I liked this issue so much that I've been hanging onto it for over 50 years.

   It's a completely over the top battle from start to finish, as a new alien character shows up on Earth and immediately targets The Avengers. The Space Phantom is a deceptively spindly creature, with the Skrull-like power to duplicate any character - the twist being, when he duplicates someone, that person is exiled to limbo until the Phantom changes form.

   It made for a free-wheeling battle royal as SP tricks the team members into fighting each other. As always, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby craft a high octane, fast and funny adventure as Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Giant-Man and the Wasp fight across town (Thor eventually joins in, too).

   It was typical of the kind of growth Marvel was going through - it was the first appearance of Giant-Man and the last appearance of Iron Man's original clunky gold armor (in this series, that is).

   The only strike against it is the method used to defeat the Space Phantom - but the issue is so much fun that you have to forgive any shortcuts.

   The ending manages to shock as the team membership changes - in the second issue!

   It was that element of the unexpected, of characters who were just as happy fighting each other as they were fighting the bad guys, with lots of action and humor, that made these issues so desirable to us when we were young readers.

   I always liked team books, and The Avengers was one of my first favorites!

Grade: A



Anonymous said...

The first 3 issues of The Avengers are wild and woolly, but they were still somehow missing something...which was remedied when Captain America appeared in the 4th issue. When Cap joined the team everything clicked and the team was all the better for the addition of a Super-Soldier. Even with the surprising events of the 16th issue, when the original members stepped down, and new members with criminal pasts joined The Avengers, it was Captain America who remained to stabilize and solidify the team. The hero out-of-time IS The Avengers, then and now.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

I agree, Sam - that's when the series really locked in. Every team needs that leader, and Cap fills the role perfectly.