The Avengers are known as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and considering that the Justice League don’t exist in Marvel, I must agree. The Avengers have always been a team of powerhouses who could tackle any threat. That being said, this volume occurs when the team is actually not looking too powerful so they must use their quips and wit to outsmart the foes who stand in their way. It is an interesting concept, but the volume isn’t quite up to taking on the average Avenger collection thanks to its high standards. Still makes for a fun read of course.
There were around 10 issues in this collection, which is a reasonable amount. The first few issues deal with the Sons of Serpent organization. While they may appear to be extremely weak on the surface, they are powerful when in great numbers. They manage to capture Captain America so the rest of the Avengers are pressured into supporting the political views of the enemies. It’s always intriguing to see politics addressed in comics, but they made sure to not get too involved with those issues. I’m sure that the Avengers won’t underestimate the group again after this!
The next two issues featured The Living Laser! This guy was typically an Iron Man villain, but this time he decided to take on the Avengers because of his feelings for the Wasp. Little did he know that Heart, not feelings, wins battles. He was outmatched from the start even though he nearly finished off the Avengers for good. After that was a two part adventure featuring the Ultroids. They weren’t exactly Ultron, but these androids were still decently powerful and they could copy the abilities of the foes that they defeated through their technology. They managed to cream the Avengers for a while, but they overestimated themselves, which doomed the villains.
Finally, a three part epic involving the famous Hercules arrived. He was tricked by the Enchantress into attacking the Avengers and then he helped them out against Namor. That was a decently fun trilogy although it is always sad to see the heroes mind controlled so easily. Their strength of will should suffice to keep them safe from danger and harm. Ah well, at least Hercules realized what was up with some help and then stuck around to help the team when they were in a jam. I still consider him to be a watered down Thor who is not quite as impressive physically or mentally, but Hercules is still stronger than the rest of the cast at the moment so that’s always a plus.
We start to see why Hank Pym isn’t one of the greatest heroes in this collection. While he has some good moments like talking back to Hawkeye and taking charge, he’s definitely not very nice to the Wasp. When she’s in danger he gets riled up of course, but he basically tells her to leave when she was trying to help him with an experiment. He certainly doesn’t have a whole lot of tact and I can see why they drifted apart. The Wasp is a decent character here, but she’s still not close to how she was in later years as she can still be a bit of a flirt.
The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are good heroes here and they are finally confident in the fact that they are Avengers. They had some iffy moments down the line, but they now know their place on the team. With two of the stronger team members back with the Avengers, they helped to give the heroes some much needed muscle. Hawkeye does a lot of trash talking for the team and he’s always got an arrow at the ready. It’s scary to think that he’s actually one of the tougher members on board, but that’s simply what the Avengers had been reduced too in this era. He’s always a fun character to have around.
Captain America is the best Avenger so I was sad to see him go. I know that he eventually comes back, but it must have been tough for fans of the team to see the final member of the big three leave. With only the B list heroes on board, The Avengers really needed him to stick around. As far as the villains go, The Living Laser was one of the only ones that I recognized. He looked pretty bad here as he was just attacking people to get the Wasp to like him. He had some good dialogue, but such a petty reason for being a villain definitely ensures that I wouldn’t care for him as a villain. That’s just very shallow.
Namor was a neat guest star and he looked fairly impressive as he held his own against Hercules. Hercules is certainly stronger of course, but Namor found the Cosmic Cube and that helped him out a lot. I didn’t expect to see such a powerful cosmic item come into play either so the final issue really raised the stakes on the adventure. Namor’s still antagonistic here, but you can’t blame him for being fed up with the humans since they constantly attack his home. So long as Atlantis is under the sea, humans will never leave it alone so it is an endless fight.
The Black Widow has a subplot where she tries to join the Avengers once more, but Giant Man doesn’t trust her and she doesn’t give the heroes much reason too. She ultimately takes on a mission from S.H.I.E.L.D. which puts a damper on her plans and I guess that her plot will likely continue more in future issues. I don’t remember her really appearing in volume 5, but she may have been around briefly. This old version of her was certainly very different from her modern incarnation.
If I had one critique for the collection, it would just be that the stakes are typically very low. It’s hard to get very excited about some of the issues and some more well known characters would have been nice to have. The plot in X-Men was more interesting for me and the characters may have actually been slightly better although the writing here beats that of the X-Men’s. It’s still a fun comic that you will be able to coast through, but you won’t be as invested as you typically would be in one of these classic Marvel issues.
As always, the art is quite good for the Avengers collection. The classic designs for the characters are always fun to look at and the fight scenes are engaging. Quicksilver’s speed here looks more impressive than it did in other instants and we are finally starting to get to the point where his speed is at in the modern days. He’ll never be quite as fast as someone like the Flash, but this is still a nice start. The writing is also quite good as the heroes trade good one liners with the villains. We really don’t see dialogue like this anymore, which is too bad. It’s one of the reasons why comics were so awesome in the first place after all. The burns were certainly real.
Overall, This was a good collection of the Avengers, but it just wasn’t as exciting as it could have been with Captain America missing some issues and Iron Man/Thor not being around. I always miss the big three when they’re not together as they are The Avengers for me. I recently reviewed volume 5 so I’m already okay on that front. I’ve still got another Marvel Masterworks coming up, but after that one, it could be gone for a while. The series has been a fun way to read up on the old series though so I won’t be forgetting about it anytime soon. If you’re a fan of the classic Marvel stories, this is definitely the comic for you. It’s still a solid action title that makes for a good read.