This volume of the Marvel Masterworks series continues the run of Earth's Mightiest Heroes during the era that I remember most - a time when Marvel Comics was turning out some of its most memorable story lines from the talents of writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema - it is these stories and images that I will always associate with the Avengers.
Now, as they were back then, John Buscema's panels are irresistable, as he can make even the most casual and subtle scenes eye-catching - and his action scenes are as enthralling today as they were to an impressionable ten year old back in the 70's. Roy Thomas' stories seem to have no limit to where they will take the heroes - some really far-fetched and bordering on the ridiculous but inevitably they always end up with a clever twist that make it all worth while. Of the many titles he wrote for Marvel, he had a definite gift for the Avengers. *It is noted that the latter chapters are written by Harlan Ellison and drawn by Sal Buscema, Herb Trimpe and Frank Giacoia.
In Vol 9 - we have series that center on a roster that seem to be hitting their stride - I will elude to the great Kree/Skrull War that immediately followed this series, as a landmark point, which this reader considers the team's greatest adventure - though this book compares little to that stellar adventure, in leading up to that epic, it succeeds in continuing to delve into the personalities of the heroes, which would give the characters good depth. An example is - in this book we get a look into the goings-on inside Avengers Mansion - at what happens when the heroes have that rare downtime - in one chapter, we see the origins of the Black Panther - and we get a sort of sitting around the campfire feel, as the other members prompt T'Challa to tell his story.
Of course this series may best be noted for its centerpiece story the introduction of Red Wolf - a Native American hero, who has an interesting story himself, which involves a crooked businessman named Van Lunt and the crime group called Zodiac - this starts the book off on a good note - or even perhaps the book is known for the unconventional tale of the Lady Liberators - in which the female Avengers get involved in a sort of renegade mission that is underscored by a social issue that was headlines at the time - Battle of the Sexes. - this story stands out for its message but is rather light on the excitement.
Another story involves the Squadron Supreme (Squadron Sinister) in other stories - which in this reader's opinion was getting way too much attention among the panels during this and preceding volumes - this team of heroes or villains in some cases, continues to fail to impress me, they offer nothing but very cliche personalities and I just kept hoping they would get the boot - this is the primary flaw in this book. With that said I did however enjoy seeing the villain Arkon the Magnificent return - as he was, in my opinion, a much more interesting and charismatic character.
The last chapter involves the Hulk and a villain called Psyklop - this story is quite different than what you might expect from the pages of the Hulk in that it touches on a delicate theme where Hulk is actually welcomed and loved by a race of aliens with grin skin led by its lovely monarch Jarella - this chapter is actually quite good but too brief - I would have rather seen this book devote more pages to this story than the ridiculous Squadron "chumps"
Overall its a good entry in the Thomas/Buscema run and is recommended for collectors of classic Avengers.