Monday, August 27, 2018

Retro Review: The Avengers #1 (1963) - "The Coming of the Avengers"

Loki Here

Written by: Stan Lee
Art by: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, and Sam Rosen
Cover Price: 12¢
Release Date: September 1963

I have to admit something...I am not a "team guy".  I do like teamups and books with the hero/sidekick dynamic are my favorites.  Most of the times, though, team books just end up not giving me enough of all the heroes and often times, I don't even like all the heroes included.  That's pretty much the reason why I never got into the Avengers.  However, I am working to change that starting now!  Yes, my hope is that by going back to the beginning, I will fall in love with the Avengers and that will continue on and on and on.  So, is my plan working?  Let's find out...

The Avengers owe everything to Loki and one of his classic temper tantrums.  The issue opens with him pissed off that Thor has sent him to the Isle of Silence, but the only one who should be pissed is the person in charge of keeping things, you know, silent!  Loki is fit to be tied and wants revenge.

So, what is a Trickster God to do?  Sends his astral self to Earth to try to take care of Thor, of course.  Things don't start off well as Thor is actually not the God of Thunder at the moment, but the good Dr. Blake and that just won't do.  So, Loki goes to Plan B...make everyone think the Hulk is on a rampage through trickery.

It does get Thor's attention, but he's not alone.  Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Wasp also get the call sent out by Rick Jones and the Teen-Brigade (diverted by Loki from reaching the Fantastic Four) and the loose team gather to figure out a plan.

Loki, freaking out at his ill luck, makes Thor see an image of the Hulk that tricks him until his hammer goes right through the big guy.  Instead of talking to the others, Thor heads off to Asgard to confront Loki, leaving the rest to deal with the Hulk.

Now, where is a framed and on the run Hulk to go?  To the circus of course!  He disguises himself as "Mechano, the most powerful, life-like robot on Earth".  Really?  I guess the jokes on me because everybody is fooled...except Ant-Man and Wasp.  Acting on some ant intel, they show up with Iron Man and try to subdue the Hulk.  Spoiler alert...they don't succeed.

We then head off to Asgard to see what's what with Thor.  After asking Odin for permission, he heads off to visit his brother and after fighting through a bunch of traps, he finally reaches Loki.  Of course, Loki is ready and has a friend to help out...a troll that attacks Thor until he breaks free and defeats him.  The battle ends with Thor making his hammer magnetic and catching Loki with it as he attempts to jump off a cliff.  Normal brother stuff there!

Back on Earth, Iron Man ends up fighting the Hulk in a Detroit auto factory until Thor arrives with Loki.  Thor wants to show Hulk who's responsible for all his problems, but before Hulk can really do anything, Loki becomes radioactive.  I am really questioning Thor's plan here.

Thankfully, Loki stands on a bit of a trap door that Ant-Man and his ants activate which causes Loki to fall into a lead chamber and he gets sealed away with the other radioactive waste.  That is some shade being thrown Loki's way, but also the craziest bit of forced storytelling to stop the bad guy.  It is fun, though, and I do love fun.  The issue ends with Ant-Man and Wasp demanding they make a team...a team called the Avengers!

As far as origins, this was a bit rough.  It's a bunch of characters forced together to make a team because...well because Marvel wanted a team.  Stan Lee gets the credit for picking a crazy bunch to form this "powerful" and "unpredictable" group of characters, but to me, it's Jack Kirby's awesome art that is the real hero here.

Bits and Pieces:

Stan Lee grabs a bunch of his characters and forces them to come together as a team...whether it makes complete sense or not.  It's got the fun factor, but it also has great Jack Kirby art that makes it worth checking out all by itself.  This may not be the greatest origin issue ever written, but there is no denying that there is the "it factor" that made it a hit.


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