Posted by  Pete Albano - February 23 to 29, 2012 | Updated : March 1 & 2, 2012 | June 20, 2012

various issues of the original Avengers series

The Avengers

15 : Now, By My Hand, Shall Die A Villain
35 : The Light That Failed
59 : The Name Is Yellowjacket
83 : Come On In, The Revolution's Fine
97 : Godhood's End
301 : Super Nova Unbound
312 : Has The Whole World Gone Mad?
319 : The Waterwind Interdiction

The Avengers 15 : Now, By My Hand, Shall Die A Villain

Classic Marvel team vs. team battles never get old, specially when they're done this well

avengers 15 cover

This issue begins very quietly then slowly builds up momentum until we have all-out team vs. team action and then a resolution of sorts in the end.

The resolution at the end involves one of this issues storylines. It's a golden age tale dating back to Cap's adventures in World War II and the death of Bucky Barnes. The Zemo storyline plays on the fact that a lot of the members of the Third Reich fled to sanctuary in South America. Zemo is the second weirdest Nazi of all time, the first being the Red Skull. This guy basically permanently - and accidentally - pasted his cowl on top of his head. What kind of world is it when Zemo gets this much respect and everybody makes fun of Paste Pot Pete? I think the Trapster has better glue for heavens sakes.

The team action is not to be missed. Let's see : On one side we have Thor, Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp. On the other is the Enchantress, the Executioner, the Melter and the Black Knight. The battleground is the rooftops of New York City. And, cherry on top of the ice cream, Giant Man grows to his hundred foot height - always great visuals when he does that. Good sequencing on the battle; very fun to watch.


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The Avengers 35 : The Light That Failed

Hank should have kept this Goliath costume - or at least the goggles

avengers 35 cover

Hmmm, you're the Living Laser and you want two things : Janet van Dyne the Wasp and your own personal country? What would you go for first? Why both, of course. That's just what the Living Laser does in this issue of the Avengers. Hard on his heels are Captain America, Hawkeye and Goliath.

I love how this issue opens. Hawkeye and Cap are trapped in a "laser" cage, the white hot energy is slowly constricting around them. There seems to be no obvious way of escape; Hawkeye is telling Cap what an honor it is to have served with him. I'm looking at this and I have no idea what's going to happen next. Delightful! Next thing you know, Cap attempts to throw his shield on the control panel. No go. The "laser" bars constrict even more. I'm thinking : How do you write something like that? How do you get them out? It's just good comics.

Great cover too don't you think? Goliath very prominent, as he is on the inside. I love the effects he's sporting with those goggles. Hank is suppose to be a ten-footer here but Don Heck draws him larger I think. Beautiful drawing style by the late Don Heck, in this issue he inks himself too. If you notice he's style its a bit rough but still comes out clean; the roughness just adds to the dynamism.

Pacing is fast, never a dull moment, I've seen Roy Thomas' moniker on so many Silver and Bronze Age comics I half believe he wrote nearly all of them.

Beautiful Avengers issue.

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The Avengers 59 : The Name Is Yellowjacket

The man who killed Giant Man

avengers 59 cover

This issue features the first appearance of Yellowjacket.

After reading this issue I realized this is the issue that I needed to read for some time now. When reading Avengers Forever and Marvel Team-Up I was baffled by Yellowjacket's inability to fly or grow small; in 'Forever' I didn't know why he talked so roughly. I was encountering a Hank Pym I'd never seen. This is the Yellowjacket presented in the pages of Avengers 59. He's very abrasive, thank God Hawkeye is around.

Because this is a Silver Age book I half expected it to be a tad sluggish, but nothing could be farther from the truth. What a page turner! And Roy Thomas throws so many tantalizing questions, all unanswered this issue, making the cliffhanger all the more impactful. Thomas' script is crisp, clear and a joy to read.

The art is by a young Buscema. It's not the polished art of the Bronze Age; being still a bit derivative of Don Heck. Buscema deals in big figures and I'm very impressed with some of the layouts.

This is a wonderfully paced, cleanly rendered issue of the Avengers that goes by like a bullet because it is such a strong read.

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The Avengers 83 : Come On In, The Revolution's Fine

Roy Thomas deserves to be in an Avengers comic

avengers 83 cover

Lots to like about this issue. First of all, the focus on the women. Come one, it's the Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, the Wasp, Medusa and the Black Widow, with none of the guys around for the first few pages. These women are drawn by Buscema, as in the Conan the Barbarian artist who regularly dishes out drool-worthy girls in the Hyborian realms. Excellent stuff.

Add to this, the action. Not just one villain mind you, the Masters of Evil. It's panel after panel of glorious action right after sitting down with the girls in the Mansion. Then. Then. The girls join in the fray. It just gets better and better.

For those of you who want everything resolved in one issue, you're in luck, as the surprise ending happens right before the close; no cliffhangers today.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, there is a panel in this issue that features writer Roy Thomas - great dialogue on that one too.

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The Avengers 97 : Godhood's End

The Golden Age of Marvel Returns!

avengers 97 cover

This book emanates an aura or at least it should. And that's because this is a part of the famous Kree-Skrull War saga of the Avengers. The Kree-Skrull war looms large in Avenger lore. It was an Event-level event even before event comics became a marketing ploy.

It's not so much that I have high expectations when picking up the book, it's that I was intimidated by it, by its reputation. This is not light reading. This is the Kree-Skrull War. It's big. It's huge. This is heavy stuff. Or is it?

Yes, absolutely. There is a confidence about the plotting of this issue. I've never read Roy Thomas so sure of where he wants a story to go and so masterful in directing it to that place. And since this is the legendary Roy Thomas, that is saying something. I get a sense that every sequence change, every line of dialogue, every move the characters make are exactly the right move, the right words, and the right circumstance. This storyline unfolds with unmistakable authority. I am sitting down reading a classic deserving of its stature among comics.

Buscema's art. You know how good John Buscema is. How seductive his women; how mighty his men. This is the guy who taught how to draw in the 'Merry Marvel Manner' in the pages of 'How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way'. He literally wrote the book on Marvel's 'House' style.

From beginning to end, this book is packed and everything is good. I particularly liked seeing Captain Marvel, the original Captain Marvel, alive and in full-blooded action. The Kree Supreme Intelligence is just as he should be : Intelligent, aware of eons of history, and strategic in his moves. My absolute favorite is Rick Jone's use of the Destiny Force - the latent human power that allows Jones' to make his imaginings reality.

See Jones bring back the great heroes of golden age Marvel. The Big Three of Captain America, Namor, and the original Human Torch. Then some lesser known but fascinating characters like the Angel, the Vision, the Blazing Skull and the Patriot. I consider this the highlight of the book.

The Kree-Skrull war is not only celebrated; but years later, the Destiny Force will be revisited by Busiek and Pacheco in the pages of Avengers Forever. That's a great work but this one shines on untarnished. If you're an Avengers fan you can't miss this issue, and all the other issues of the Kree-Skrull War.

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The Avengers 301 : Super Nova Unbound

Tons of fanboy goodness!

avengers 301 cover

I looked at the cover of Avengers 301 and realized that it was probably never going to make the Comics Recommended list. Sue looks hideous; and what are those? Brains with tentacles? And the caption "Into the Lair of the Brain Leeches". I'm probably not even going to finish reading this comic.

Yet here it is and let me tell you why.

I'm reading this long after its publication date so I was very surprised that Reed and Sue Richards served stints as Avengers. Imagine that, the heart of the Fantastic Four - Avengers. I thought they were going to be out of place but no, they fit right in. There are now two natural leaders among the Avengers - Captain America and Mr. Fantastic. They tend to step on each other's toes but both men are inherently nice so it works out. Plus the Invisible Woman, the most powerful member of the FF now one of Earth's mightiest heroes. It fits.

Then as I go deeper into the issue there is another strange Avenger called Gilgamesh whom Thor refers to as the Forgotten One. The Forgotten One! I know him. He's part of my commentaries on the Eternals saga right here in Comics Recommended. Read that and you'll know that I'm a big fan of the Forgotten One. A real powerhouse this guy. He's dressed in a silly costume here but this guy comes with serious strength levels. In spite of the art, I'm really starting to warm up to the Avengers. Let's see who they got : Cap, always the heart of the Avengers. Sue - seriously powerful. Reed - can fill Tony's genius shoes and then some; then two of Marvel's strongest : Thor and Gilgamesh. It's a small group but just look at the power concentrated in this team! These guys can handle anything. Only the original Defenders are more powerful (Dr. Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and the Silver Surfer).

Now, one of my favorite Marvel heroes from the Bronze Age of comics is Nova. My one complaint about him is that he lacks power. I remember a Marvel Two-In-One where Nova and the Thing go up against a giant and both were disappointing - specially Nova who could do little but fly around. Well, in this issue the Avengers head off to space to confront - yes, the brain leeches - and - and - Super-Nova!

Avengers : super-nova

Look at him; he's gigantic. I don't even care that he's a villain. This is the powered up Nova I've been looking for.

Well what can I say, this issue has appealed to the fanboy part of me.

The Avengers 312 : Has The Whole World Gone Mad?

Good old-fashioned superhero fisticuffs

avengers 312 cover

Because the Avengers roster changes so much its always fun to see who the members are and how their powers stack up as a team.

Let's check out the Avengers of issue 312 : We have the Wasp and her trusty sting; then Dr. Hank Pym formerly Ant Man, Giant Man, Goliath and Yellowjacket (he has used the shrinking power of the Pym particles to miniaturize weapons and equipment he stores in his suit, ready to be brought back to full size and used in an instant); then we have the Falcon, one of the best aerial fighters - some say the best - in the Marvel Universe; Scarlet Witch is here with her hexes; lastly, and most powerfully, the Vision, with his android strength and toughness, heat vision and most of all his ability to alter his density - I've always considered him the third most powerful Avenger of all time after Thor and Iron Man.

So the Vision is pretty much the heavy hitter of this group. Scarlet Witch is the distant second in the power department with the others on the low end of the power scale. That said, this is a very weak Avengers team; the X-Men and FF definitely rival them at this point, but they're not going up against their fellow heroes here, they're up against Freedom Force, otherwise known as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

The battle goes on as expected with the Avengers barely able to cope, although coming up on top in the end. They may be less powerful than the combined might of Pyro, the Blob and Avalanche (yes, they're not even fighting the entire Brotherhood; with Destiny and Mystique non-participants in this rumble), but what saves the Avengers is their coordinated teamwork. I'm most worried about the Blob. He got shrunk by Pym and his awesome mass caused him to sink into the ground.

Byrne writes while Palmer and Ryan do the art here. Considering Ryan's later work on Iron Man, the art here is a bit sketchy, although I must say, Jan's outfit this time around is very sexy - specially from behind.

This is a good solid superhero fight-fest issue with an interesting group of Avengers.

The Avengers 319 : The Waterwind Interdiction

CGoing up against the 'Soviet Avengers'

avengers 319 cover

This one begins like a Tom Clancy novel - it reminds me of "The Hunt for Red October". A British sub carrying a nuclear arsenal is hijacked, the British decide that superhuman help is the most efficient route; they run down there list of British superhumans and come out empty. An emergency call to the United States sends the Avengers on an underwater adventure.

And who are the Avengers for this issue? Let's do a roll call. Captain America, heart of the Avengers; Sersi of the Eternals, super-strong, super-tough, energy projecting and shape shifting party girl; Quasar, galactic class powerhouse; and the Vision, third most powerful Avenger of all time. All in all this is a small but very potent team here. Along for the ride is Stingray; normally a research scientist, the Avengers bring him along since they're going deep into the Ocean - Stingray's area of expertise. By the way he's treated, I don't think he's an Avenger yet, but he will be - I saw him in that giant Avengers gathering when Kurt Busiek began his stint as Avengers scribe some years back.

So far so good. Things quickly get better as the Avengers encounter the little known but fascinating Supreme Soviets - a reminder that this tale was written during the days when there was still a Soviet Union. There's Vostok, manipulator of all things mechanical, bad news for the Vision; Perun, the Soviet Thor, most powerful of the Supreme Soviets; Crimson Dynamo, the Soviet Iron Man; and Guardian, the Soviet Captian America. There is also Fantasma, a mysterious young woman with psychic capabilities - reminds me of Destiny of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

After twenty-two pages of story there is another tale in this comic called "The Avengers Crew". A quick look at the panels shows that this is about Jarvis. I did not read it at all. I can vouch for the main story though. There is a cliffhanger ending which leads to the next issue.

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