The Avengers Omnibus - Volume 1 Hardcover – Feb 29 2012
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But fortunately the letters pages of these issues are also reproduced. Here Lee shines as he builds a community of readers and talent that eventually carried Marvel to the top of the comics world. The answers to reader's letters, next issue blurbs, M.M.M.S. membership coupons, and occasional Mighty Marvel Checklist are pure nostalgia.
The issues are classic Marvel as well. The early issues with the big three (Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America) and drawn by Kirby are the best but the later line up with Don Heck penciling also have their moments. The Avengers started out as a team book featuring first stringers but then started acquiring members without their own features, B and C listers like Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch to avoid overexposure (a concern you never hear of these days). I personally prefer the first approach.
Extras are generous. There are 29 pages of house ads, reprint and collection covers (four to a page), and original art.
The size is just about perfect at around 750 pages so manhandling isn't a chore like it is with some longer omnibuses. There are no guttering issues and the volume will lay flat at almost any point. All in all a very well produced and attractive product.
Highly recommended. If you have later editions of the first three Avengers masterworks you can take or leave this volume as you wish but everyone else will be pleased.
The new Avengers film could be this summer's biggest blockbuster, but, yes, the 'Avengers' *was* one of Marvel's 'lesser' titles when it started. 'Spider-Man' and even 'Daredevil' had their own comics but none of the first Avengers, bar Thor, had books to themselves, just shared features in other titles.
Actually, this bunch of stories holds up quite well. (Still not quite a Lee-Kirby F.F. or a Lee-Ditko Spider-Man, but what is?) Some may find both the stories and the art "crude" or "unsophisticated". I find them bursting with raw energy, myths in the making before they were set in stone. (Mjolnir does not always return to Thor's hand! Captain America's indestructible shield is, so he fears, destructible!)
But enough of the historical perspective, here is a rundown of the thirty comics in this tome. (Warning: Some spoilers ahead.)
'Avengers' 1: 'The Coming of the Avengers!' -- Loki tries to trap Thor, but only succeeds in drawing together the Hulk, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp too. (The gist of the new film, perhaps?)
'Avengers' 2: 'The Space Phantom' -- A shapeshifting alien comes to Earth on a reconnaissance mission. He succeeds in creating just enough of a rift in the ranks for one of the founding members to resign. (And Thor offers fashion tips to the Hulk!)
'Avengers' 3: 'Sub-Mariner!' -- Prince Namor recruits the Hulk in his battle against the surface world.
'Avengers' 4: 'Captain America joins the Avengers' -- Continuing where the last issue left off, the Sub-Mariner succeeds in accidentally releasing the long-lost hero of World War II, and the pursuing Avengers then revive him. Rick Jones is invited to become Captain America's partner.
'Avengers' 5: 'The Invasion of the Lava Men!' -- Picking up from 'Fantastic Four' 26, the Avengers, with the Hulk's unwitting aid, take on Thor's old foe, the Lava Man, now accompanied by all his brothers. (Bonus: The letter columns begin, all reprinted in this Omnibus.)
'Avengers' 6: 'Masters of Evil' -- Baron Zemo emerges from the jungles of South America, and recruits the Radioactive Man, the Melter and the Black Knight to take on the Avengers. (And Thor gives readers a lesson in property rights!)
'Avengers' 7: 'Their Darkest Hour' -- The Avengers suspend Iron Man just as two exiled Asgardians, the Enchantress and the Executioner, join forces with Baron Zemo.
'Avengers' 8: 'Kang the Conqueror' -- The Avengers take a break from battling 20th century Nazis to take on the 40th century variety.
'Avengers' 9: 'The coming of the Wonder Man' -- Don Heck takes over from Jack Kirby as the penciller. The Masters of Evil empower a normal human, giving him superpowers to take on the Avengers.
'Avengers' 10: 'The Avengers break up!' -- Immortus comes out of Limbo to the assistance of the Masters of Evil.
'Avengers' 11: 'Spider-Man!' -- Kang returns in a story apparently designed to prove that only Ditko could draw Spider-Man...
'Avengers' 12: 'This Hostage Earth!' -- The Fantastic Four's first foe, the master of yet another subterranean race, emerges from the depths! The Fantastic Four's Communist foe joins him halfway through this issue! The Fantastic Four are *not* in this comic!
'Avengers' 13: 'The Castle of Count Nefaria!' -- The Maggia boss comes over from Europe, and tricks the U.S. into fighting the Avengers. (The Fantastic Four make a brief cameo.)
'Avengers' 14: 'Even Avengers can die!' -- Her fellow members race to rescue the Wasp, injured in the previous issue's battle, and end up meeting yet another mysterious alien race.
'Avengers' 15: 'Now, by my hand shall die a villain!' -- Captain America and Rick Jones confront Baron Zemo in the jungle, while his fellow Avengers take on the rest of the Masters of Evil back home.
'Avengers' 16: 'The old order changeth!' -- Jack Kirby returns to pencils for a single issue, as Marvel decides to change everything. The founding members leave, and are replaced by a trio of former villains.
'Avengers' 17: 'Four against the Minotaur!' -- Cap's Kooky Quartet try to find the Hulk, to add some raw power to a severely underpowered team, but succeed only in a second battle with the Mole Man.
'Avengers' 18: 'When the Commissar commands!' -- One of the more intriguing tales actually, as the Commissar sets out to prove "that the Reds are superior to Freedom's Champions".
'Avengers' 19: 'The coming of... the Swordsman!' -- Hawkeye's origin is revealed. Captain America jumps off a roof after S.H.I.E.L.D. does not recruit him... (Or something like that...)
'Avengers' 20: 'Vengeance is Ours!' -- The art improves by leaps and bounds as the great Wally Wood takes up the brushes! (Stan Lee was so excited he put it on the cover!) After failures by foes of the Fantastic Four and Thor, an old Iron Man signs up to take on the Avengers by using the Swordsman.
'Avengers' 21: 'The Bitter Taste of Defeat!' -- Erik Josten gets a new name, new clothes, and new powers courtesy of the Enchantress. They do a much better job than the old Masters of Evil...
'Avengers' 22: 'The Road Back!' -- The Avengers put Power Man and the Enchantress in their place, and still have enough panels to beat the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime! Captain America leaves the team! And Stan Lee gives reader David Mackidd a lesson on why comics should join the crusade against Communism...
'Avengers' 23 and 24: 'Once an Avenger...' and 'From the Ashes of Defeat' -- Kang draws the Avengers into his own time, to impress Princess Rowena. Then they all join hands as Kang's generals turn on him...
'Avengers' 25: 'Enter... Dr. Doom!' -- The Avengers apparently needed sales so badly that a blurb on the cover pleaded with fans not to miss a guest appearance by the Fantastic Four. Captain America forgets just who rules Latveria!
'Avengers' 26: 'The Voice of the Wasp!' -- Two of the original Avengers return, and the Wasp flies off towards New York to warn the city about an impending attack by the Sub-Mariner. All she can do, however, is to be captured by Attuma, then escape just long enough to warn the Avengers...
'Avengers' 27: 'Four against the Flood Tide' -- The Avengers wrap up the battle with Attuma, but where is the Wasp?
'Avengers' 28: 'Among us walks... a Goliath!' -- Another founding member returns to his costumed form, as the Avengers battle the Collector.
'Avengers' 29: 'This Power Unleashed!' -- Power Man, the Swordsman, and a brainwashed Black Widow join together to take on the Avengers at the bidding of the Communists.
'Avengers' 30: 'Frenzy in a Far-off Land!' -- The Avengers' mutant siblings take time off to recharge their waning powers, Goliath goes to South America to find a way to shrink, and the others snap the Black Widow out of her brainwashing... All this and the classic line, "You're not wearing a moustache... and you've got wavy hair... so you must be a *good* guy!"
All kidding aside, this is a marvelous (no pun intended!) collection. Rather to my own surprise, both story and art take a leap for the better following the grand shakeup in issue 16. The interplay between Captain America and Hawkeye, in particular, is beautifully sketched out across issues.
You can't buy the original comics -- issue 1 and issue 4 in particular -- without shelling out serious cash, individual issues going for far more than this one book. I have twelve of the thirty issues collected in this giant tome, and don't regret buying it one bit.
There is none of the horrible color registration that was the plague of Silver Age printing, and the Omnibus size is just a bit bigger than the original comics. You also get all the letter columns, plus a few extras (nice but not necessary to me.)
The one thing I do not like is the cover. John Romita Jr. is a fantastic artist but he has slipped up this once; Thor's face is so twisted that he actually looks more evil than Loki. But, eh, you do find all the covers inside the book.
One final point: Marvel follows a print-and-run policy with Omnibus volumes. Check out the prices for Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1: Granov Variant (v. 1) or Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Variant Version) (v. 1), then buy this one before it too goes out of print.
Throughly recommended to all fans of Marvel Comics, and to all students of comic book history, and, above all, to anyone who just wants a good read!
N.B.: In classic Marvel fashion, this Omnibus ends on a cliffhanger. Bring on Volume 2. And an Omnibus for the Sub-Mariner. And one for Doctor Strange. And for Ant Man and the Wasp. And...
Along with the Amazing Spider-Man written by Stan Lee, his other creation The Avengers reads surprisingly well with plenty of stories that holds up today. While diving back into Marvel's past I have to admit that some of their titles have left me disappointed due to being so tough to read. Titles like The Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-Men, and Journey Into Mystery have a rather repetitive feel and an annoying campiness to them. The Avengers gives off that feel as well at times, but the colorful character roster and rogue's gallery keeps the interest fairly high, and another thing, I just love the colorful costumes which has Stan Lee's boring looking X-Men uniforms so beat. This omnibus collects The Avengers issues 1 - 30 dating across 1963 - 1966.
I will admit right away that this book takes awhile to get going with some portions kind of being a struggle to get through; one of the issues I had with Journey Into Mystery starring Thor was that Stan Lee was searching for some type of identity, and this held the stories back quite a bit. The same problem occurs here but quickly fades away since Lee has a lot to work with. Stan Lee wisely brought together Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor; and as a result he was able to use their stories as a pool source by bringing some of their villains over. This eventually leads to their villains gathering and forming the Masters of Evil. There was plenty of potential for good stories once Lee began setting the groundwork. Fortunately, it comes together rather quickly and we're treated to some very good storytelling at times.
This collection also debuts classic villains such as Kang the Conqueror whom would go on to plague the team constantly, and the first incarnation of the Masters of Evil. The action would also become intense with a few forgotten clashes such as Captain America vs. The Swordsman, Captain America vs. the original Powerman, and a new team of Avengers featuring Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch battling both of those villains. The character interactions have some fine moments, and the development becomes quite better when the new team is introduced.
Jack Kirby and Don Heck share artwork duties, and I have to lean in favor of Heck having the better imagination to deliver some really cool battles. Although Powerman would later go on to become Goliath and a D-list villain, he was very well handled with the action. The character designs look good for their time, and the panels are real easy to follow.
The book is done well enough with limited gutter space once the reader makes it to the middle of the book. Plus the recoloring is vivid and quite nice. There's nothing for me to complain about here.
Despite being an overall good read the old style campiness will more than likely bother some modern comic fans, and it does start out slow a bit due to some repetition. In any case, I think Avengers is among the better books under the Marvel Masterworks banner, and I recommend it to serious collectors.
Pros: Nice action filled artwork and solid storytelling when it gets there
Cons: Begins pretty slow
I had the GIT DVD with the Avengers run on it, but these were just scans of the comics. In this Omnibus, we get reconstructed art very true to the original art, in many cases reshot from the original art, and restored colors without taking "modern coloring" liberties. With so many characters depicted and a density of panels in most episodes, Avengers benefits the most from over-sized reproduction. The stories seem much more interesting to me at this increased size than they did viewing them on a 27" computer screen.
So many stories to enjoy here: Loki vs the Avengers of course sets the stage. Namor makes his rounds as an adversary and teams up with the Hulk. The epic discovery of Captain America frozen in ice. The Masters of Evil! The first battle with Kang the Conqueror. The legendary tale of Wonder Man. The Avengers break up. Spider-man guest-stars. The introduction of Count Nefaria. The first changing of the order and the impact at the time of who they selected. True they had a spate of forgettable villains after the new team was assembled, but during this time, Wally Wood inked Don Heck, greatly improving the artwork quality. The Enchantress and Power Man, Kang, Dr Doom, Attuma, the Super-Adaptoid and the Collector, and the Black Widow. These last few stories pack so much more punch reading them in over-size.
This massive book is a very nice oversized omnibus title with a dustjacket that features either the original Kirby cover for issue 1 or a John Romita Jr. version of the cover. I got the Romita cover but it really pales in comparison to the original art. Speaking of art, Jack Kirby pencils the early issues and does a fantastic job (as always) at showcasing the Avengers team with his beautifully detailed art. Don heck and Dick Ayers fill in the rest of the issues and, while not quite up to Kirby's art, it still holds its own and looks really nice. Stan Lee wrote all the issues and you really have to go into this book with the understanding that it's going to be wordy and take about 15 minutes per issue to get through due to the countless speech bubbles. The time period also gives way to some corny or over-explained dialogue but otherwise, it fits right into other silver-age books and even dives into some darker scenarios like Cap's nightmares from Bucky's death and Giant-Man's plight of being a ten-foot-tall freak forever! The team from the get-go, however, is pretty inconsistent as within the first four issues, the team loses a member and gains another and halfway through the book, the team changes so much that none of the original members are present!
Some aspects of previous books are carried over like Giant-Man's verbal abuse toward Jane (which, due to the time period, is treated like normal banter) and the overall childish bickering between team members gets old (especially Hawkeye's constant berating of Captain America's age). Even the Hulk is treated very poorly all through the series and, at times, treated like a villain even when unprovoked! However, you do get to see Rick's seemingly worthless ham-radio-inspired Teen Brigade go into action during many sequences and actually help the team despite being a bunch of kids.
Being an older title, you do see quite a few mistakes in the art and lettering and, since the original letter pages are included here, the fans nitpick them all constantly. Things like Iron Man and Giant-Man's constant unmentioned costume changes (that happen in their own titles and carry over into the Avengers title) happen and at one point, Iron Man was presumed dead but suddenly returns in the next issue with no mention of how he went from DOA to right back into the team! It's a fun, long read that I clocked in taking me about 7 and a half hours to complete from start to finish and you get the original covers and letter pages as well as a neat cover gallery for the reprints, Masterworks covers, Essentials covers, and some art in the back in a nice oversized format for $99.99 and chances are you'll find it for less anyway! It's definitely something to have just for the historical value to the classic team but also something to read up on to get an idea of where this marvelous team all started to assemble!