With Age of Ultron among us, what better time than now to check out some of the original Avenger comics? It is always interesting to see this Avengers roster as it is a little under powered compared to the average team. This means that the Avengers will have to rely on their wit if they are going to save the planet. There are no particularly great comics here as the team is mainly up against lightweights, but the issues have the typical Marvel charm that we have come to expect.
The Avengers consist of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver when the story starts. Hercules is helping them out for a little while because he is in the mood. Captain America is dealing with his own issues and Ant Man/Wasp are pursuing their own objectives. The roster is quickly buffed after the first pair of issues, but the starting line up may have been the weakest Avengers team in history.
No worries though, they only had to deal with Diablo and the tricky Dragon Man. It is neat to look back at Dragon Man and see how he has changed. This is one character who certainly got a lot of development even if it wasn’t all good. I miss the days when he was more of a fighter who would just mow down anyone who tried to get in his way. Landing hits on Hercules is fairly impressive as well. Diablo is definitely not interesting though. I have never been a fan of the guy and I am not starting now. His chemical abilities are not very good so his personality was Diablo’s only chance and it wasn’t quite enough.
After that, we had a few more adventures, but the threats weren’t very serious for the most part. The team banded together with the original three Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America) to take on the Mandarin, Living Laser, Executioner, Enchantress, and a few more villains in a fun annual. The heroes were more than capable of taking out the villains there, but it was fun to see the true Avengers once more. I gotta say that Ultimo was given a little too much hype this time though. There’s no way that one blast would be enough to vaporize Thor. It didn’t, but Thor implied that he may not survive such an attack. The Mandarin also chops hard enough to make Cap worried about his shield surviving the blows. It is cool to see how much more respect these villains got back in the day compared to nowadays where they wouldn’t be considered as serious threats.
Another fun pair of comics was when the Avengers set out to rescue the Black Widow and had to tangle with the Red Guardian. He’s essentially a Russian version of Captain America. He looked surprisingly good in the fight as he was actually able to match up against the Avenger in an even fight. Granted that Cap was already weakened from beating up a lot of minions. The Red Guardian saw the light in the end and exited the comic as a decent villain. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him again.
Magneto also showed up to recruit Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but his plot hasn’t really ended yet. The Avengers are hot on his trail, but they had to quickly stop to help Hercules stop a titan who had taken down all of the gods on Mount Olympus. It sounds like a great feat, but it just makes the gods look bad. Apparently, they have no guards by the legendary fire, which keeps them all alive. (An extreme deadly weakness if you ask me) It’s a good thing that Hercules had the Avengers to aid him as the fight may not have ended well otherwise.
Captain America’s portrayal is decent, but his fans won’t be very pleased. He struggles with a lot of doubts on whether the team really needs him or not and he even opts to burn down his bridges as he leaves. It reminds me of the time where he insulted the Avengers before running off. Is it just me or did Captain America quit the team a lot back in the day? Ah well, he still looks really good when in combat as one of the original Avengers would be expected to be. Thor and Iron Man get smaller roles as they only appear as guest stars in one issue, but they both look great. It must have been sad for readers to see them go back in the day since the Avengers really aren’t the same without them.
Hawkeye still gets his burns in and he is a fun Avenger. He really talks tough even though he typically cannot back it up. Hawkeye has always been an enjoyable Avenger. Hercules is around a lot, but he isn’t quite as likable. He is just a watered down version of Thor. I don’t think that he has developed into his own character yet and he makes the opposite choice when faced with the same situation as Thor. Hercules chooses his planet over Earth and I don’t think that this was a good call.
As for the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver…they’re all right. This was before the Scarlet Witch became a heavy hitter so she doesn’t look very tough, but she tries to keep the heroes alert and ready for anything. Quicksilver is still really mad at all humans and he doesn’t hesitate to remind us of this whenever possible. Towards the end, he makes the wrong call and it reminds us why you cannot always trust a villain who has allegedly switched sides. It is too bad though since he did have his moments. At times, he acts like Hawkeye and we always need another hot head. His speed is also a useful asset even though the Whirlwind showed him up.
Ant Man looks good as well. This was during the end of his Goliath days and I much prefer that form to his more popular one. It is fun to see Giant Man be considered as a very powerful force since he never looks impressive in the current comics. The Wasp doesn’t look too good though as she is constantly flirting and making remarks about the guys. I really don’t know what the writers were thinking here, but their plans did not work out. She became a much better character in the modern era comics, but until then…she was simply not written well.
The art is solid as you would expect. Once in a while, a face may look a little off, but these pages were drawn the hard way so you have to allow for such things. On the whole, the comics still look great and I’ll always love this retro style. Viewing the characters in their original states is a lot of fun and things were certainly very different back then. It will be cool to see how Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver act when compared to these issues. The writing in the issues is also very good, but we would expect nothing less from Merry Marvel. I actually do miss the nicknames and fun letter boxes throughout the comics. I know that some comics like Squirrel Girl still do this, but it’s more of a homage than anything else. (This is why Homages can be so great!)
Overall, This was a good volume in the Avengers series. It was not quite as exciting as the usual collection since I was not a huge fan of the roster. Hercules is the power hitter of the group and he isn’t even on the team officially. Because of this, the team mostly faces a lot of light weights like the Whirlwind. Magneto is tough, but we haven’t had the big fight with him just yet. So, the collection may not be incredibly exciting, but we can’t have world breaking threats every issue right? Perhaps a break for low level crimes is just what we needed to lower the stakes before sending them right back up. This is still a must read for all Avenger fans as it is a well written comic that is a fun read from start to finish. At around 270 pages, the collection is also of sizable length so you won’t be finishing it in one go. More value for your purchase right? I shall likely be reading another Avengers collection soon, but until then…be prepared for a rather large collection in the near future!