Happy 50th Birthday, Avengers!
Back in 1963, on July 12, the first issue of Avengers hit the newsstands, making today the 50th anniversary of that issue. John F. Kennedy would be President of the United States for a few more months. People were just figuring out what these new "ZIP codes" were all about on their snail mail. The Great Escape with Steve McQueen was the number one film at the box office the previous weekend, making almost $3 million. The Beverly Hillbillies was the most popular show on television, and it wouldn't be in color for another two years. Little did Marvel Comics, an imprint less than two years old, know that it had hit upon its own mother lode in the Avengers franchise. (Okay, X-Men 1 also came out that month, and I guess that franchise did all right as well.)
Marvel only came out with 14 comics that month, many of them Westerns, romance comics, and one World War Two adventure. Half of that output was relegated in part to its superhero comics. If a reader was enthralled by the Avengers and wanted to rush out and purchase the adventures of all the members on the team, that would include three series, Journey Into Mystery, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish. What are those titles?! Well, the superheroes weren't trusted to headline their own series. In fact, their stories were usually about half the comic, and another science-fiction or suspense tale would fill out the second half. Those are the series featuring Thor, Iron Man, and the team of Ant-Man and Wasp. Sorry. There was no Hulk comic. It had been canceled a few months earlier. But for 48 cents, 12 cents an issue, a collector could go out and buy every Avengers comic on the market that month. Avengers itself wouldn't even be published every month. For the first year, it only come out every other month. Only Millie the Model had TWO whole series to her name back then.
Flash to today. Due in large part to a successful string of films starring Avengers characters, there's more new Avengers each month than ever. A new comic book series, Avengers A.I., just premiered this month. Including that and all the other various Avengers titles, (I'm NOT looking at you Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow's Avengers!) you would find 14 issues on the stands to purchase, or the same as the entire Marvel publication schedule in the month of Avengers 1 in 1963. This is in part due to the fact that some series will now ship two or even three times in one month! If you wanted to add on the series that feature current members of the team, that's another 16 series to collect. Since each issue costs either $3 or $4 apiece, if you take the average price of $3.50, that's only $105 to get 'em all, and you'd be able to get a new one every day if you so chose. And that's in a month WITHOUT any major Marvel events going on!
Even without comics, the brand is at an all-time high recognition. Every day brings news about the upcoming Marvel films and Avengers 2. Even yesterday, Vin Diesel may get a role as Hank Pym? Or maybe Vision? (Rearrange those letters to get I SO VIN!) Or maybe he'll play a tree! A new cartoon series, Avengers Assemble, premiered this month, featuring another version of the team that's quite close to the film. The new television season will have the live-action Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiering as a spin-off of the Marvel films, and even if no Avengers show up for a brief appearance, I'm sure Marvel wants to think they might. In the 50 years of publication, thousands of comics have come out, as well enough toys, games, video games, and other collectibles to fill Avengers Mansion from top to bottom. Yeah, I guess they have an Avengers Tower now, not a mansion, but I'm still blogging about issues from 1975, so that's what I thought of first. But until I get back to that, I couldn't let such a momentous day pass by without comment. So happy birthday, Avengers! Here's to 50 more!
You're still not getting $105 a month out of me, though.
If you want more information about Avengers 1 or how the series came about, I have blog entries on that from August of 2012 at the beginning of the blog timeline.
The banner at the top is the "50th Anniversary" alternate covers of Avengers (2013) issues 3, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 copied and pasted together into one image. Since the year isn't over, I'm sure there will be more added. It's so tiny because I don't want you to have to scroll side to side. Larger copies are below in better detail. Enjoy. (No, I don't think Luke Cage's baby Danielle is officially a member yet, but she's still the cutest.)