Thursday, August 30, 2012

Avengers 1 (9/63)

Avengers 1

Avengers 1
The Coming of the Avengers
September, 1963
Written by Stan Lee
Art by Jack Kirby

Brothers have issues.
Mischief complicates matters.
Loki will regret it. 

                Loki’s previous schemes in Thor’s magazine have left him in exile, but he can monitor and affect the universe with his godly powers. To draw out Thor, Loki tricks the Hulk into destroying a railway trestle. Hulk saves the train, but news reports call him a menace anyway. The Hulk’s pal Rick Jones doesn’t believe it, so he puts out a shortwave radio call to the only hero group in the country that can prove Hulk’s innocence, the Fantastic Four. Loki intercepts the radio signal and redirects it to Thor’s location. Ant-Man and Wasp and Iron Man also overhear the redirected signal and all four heroes go to investigate.
                Loki is perturbed by the extra heroes, so he lures Thor away with a simulated image of the Hulk. Thor is all about Thor, so he leaves the group without saying a word. The other three heroes get a tip from an ant about the Hulk’s whereabouts and battle the real Hulk, but the Hulk gets away. Meanwhile Thor knows Loki’s tricks and suspects him, because of course, Thor thinks it’s all about Thor and his enemies. He visits Loki’s prison and captures him after an altercation.
                The earthling heroes track Hulk to an auto plant, and as they battle him again, Thor arrives with Loki in custody, reassuring everyone that no one needs to fight any longer. It was all about Thor—er, Loki. Loki spontaneously turns radioactive to keep the heroes back, but a series of wild coincidences allow Ant-Man to utilize ants in order to trap Loki in a lead-lined tank.
                While the five heroes bask in their victory, Ant-Man and Wasp suggest that the five of them form a team, and the Avengers are born.

Thor: “You were expecting me, Loki! That means you have committed some foul deed, knowing I would come to avenge it! And avenge it I shall!!”

Wasp: “We need a name! It should be something colorful and dramatic, like… the Avengers, or…”
Ant-Man: “’Or’ nothing! That’s it! The Avengers!!”

·         The Wasp doesn’t get any credit on the cover or her picture in the corner box. She was really Ant-Man’s sidekick at the time. She isn’t treated very well in the beginning, but she will go on to become a mainstay of the team, become far more powerful, and lead the team more than once.

·         Speaking of sidekicks, shortwave enthusiast Rick Jones will become associated with several superheroes in the future and become an honorary member of the Avengers. He gains superpowers temporarily a few times and was most recently the hero A-Bomb until those powers were neutralized.

·         The Fantastic Four appear in a cameo in this issue. Three of their members, Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, and the Thing will later become Avengers members as well.

·         The team will go on to have many reformed villains join. Many years later, in the middle of a confrontation, Ant-Man will spontaneously offer membership to Loki, hoping it will help Loki reform. Loki refuses, which is probably a good thing, since the other Avengers members present think Ant-Man was crazy to even ask.

·         This issue was sold for 12 cents. If adjusted for inflation, that would be 93 cents in 2014 dollars. Current comics sell for $2.99, $3,99 on up.

·         A copy of Avengers 1 sold for $250,000 in November of 2011.

·         The issue has been reprinted many times. I read it in Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, a soft-cover anthology by Stan Lee. Based on the 1975 publication date and the fact that I wasn’t selecting my own comics when I was 4 years old, it’s likely this was the first Avengers story I ever read from my father’s library. Recently it was voted by fans as the 12th best Marvel comic published in the first 75 years of Marvel's publication history.

·         I met Stan Lee once. I was introduced to him along with the Malibu Art Department. The one memory I have of that meeting was that Stan was looking at the poster art for our Mantra character and thought she was pretty hot. There’s a reason his nickname is “The Man.”

·         Michael Douglas, set to play Hank Pym in the upcoming Ant-Man film, was the only actor playing a comic book Avenger character in the cinematic Marvel Universe to be alive when the first issue came out. He was only 19 years old, but his first starring role, Hail, Hero would be released in October, one month after this comic book. William Hurt was 13 years old, but I doubt his Thunderbolt Ross character will become a member in the films.

·         As was Stan Lee’s style at the time, every statement ends with an exclamation point. For emphasis, he used two exclamation points. They even shout when they’re thinking.


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