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- Published on Amazon.com
A good collection of stories from the classic era, which includes a lot of characters with a chip on their shoulder, could sum it up for this volume.
In Avengers Vol 8 we get a heavy dose of villains, baddies driven by the usual, hate, power, prejudice and revenge but coming in an assortment of ways. Vol 8 is a bit light on action in the grand scope style but offers a wide range of rivals for our heroes and we get different perspectives, many from the bad guy's side.
Ranging from Kang the Conqueror, the Grandmaster, Grim Reaper, Man-Ape and some bad-guy groups like the Squadron Sinister and Lethal Legion. We start with Kang the Conqueror - who, of course the Avengers have ran up against on numerous occasions - here he recruits (a nice word for kidnaps in this particular case) them to be his fighting champions in a game against the Grandmaster. The alien wizard offers Kang a wager for his own pleasure but the stakes are high, which the Avengers cannot ignore and they are forced to intervene (of course) I particularly enjoyed the finale of the Kang/Grandmaster story - the writing of Roy Thomas and the twist he gives it at the end is brilliant.
This volume offers the introduction of the character Arkon the Magnificent - this story is well done, and as mentioned earlier, we see the bad-guy's perspective, which gave this character and chapter some depth - Arkon is drawn by the great John Buscema, perhaps a precursor to Conan the Barbarian.
In another chapter, which undoubtedly stands out, touches on the social issue of race and prejudice - this story involves the Avenger - Black Panther and gives a pretty good tale of a hate group called the Sons of the Serpent who attempt to capture the Wakanda monarch/Avenger and frame him to spark a race war - the conclusion of this story is also cleverly done by Thomas. Some readers would probably complain that it doesn't delve deep enough on the social issue but hey, this is a comic book not a Oliver Stone or Spike Lee film.
The weak spots in this volume, in this reader's opinion, are the stories involving the not so impressive groups known as the Squadron Sinister (known also as Squadron Supreme in other stories) and the Zodiac. With the Squadron Sinister we have a cheap version of DC's JLA characters but representing the opposition to "Earth's Mightiest" - these characters don't have much to offer and their costumes and powers are really boring and some down right ridiculous - ie...the character called Hyperion wears short boots, bare legs and what resembles a large diaper - pathetic. Marvel's design people really fell short in coming up with that one. Another group known as Zodiac, is average at best.
But the heavy-hitters Grandmaster, Grim Reaper, Man-Ape and headlined by Kang - and a good intro of Arkon are the highlights of this book and definitely make it worth a read.
So in a nutshell - this volume spotlights the villains more than the heroes and overall the stories are good and the art is excellent with the brothers Buscema (John and Sal) tag team, doing the honors - and 1 chapter by Frank Giacoia.
A definite addition to a classic Avengers collector's shelf.