Underrated by the silly geese who think this book's strength lies in its premise and not in its perfect conclusion. It's Universal Monsters by way ofUnderrated by the silly geese who think this book's strength lies in its premise and not in its perfect conclusion. It's Universal Monsters by way of Raymond Carver.
In an attempt to recreate the success that Fantastic Four had Marvel thought it wise to start another "team comic," this time cthese fucking guys, man
In an attempt to recreate the success that Fantastic Four had Marvel thought it wise to start another "team comic," this time consisting of the pre-established heroes Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant/Giant-Man, Wasp, and, eventually, straight from the golden age, Captain America. Equally uninspired are the villains in these early issues. Most of the time the Avengers are just chasing around the Hulk, who is more a villain than an actual member. Plots play out similarly, with a Tolstoyan amount of writing despite the issues being 90% action.
The main problem with these crucial but lackluster formative issues is that unlike in the Fantastic Four comics or in the concurrent X-Men, the Avengers as a team lacked chemistry between its members and lacked an interesting dynamic that holds them together. FF was a family, with interesting family drama. The X-Men were young, outcast teenagers, with an interesting heroes-in-training element. Each team relied on each of its members abilities, individuals combining into a greater whole. The Avengers are a group of the strongest heroes there are, but they lack personality and none of these issues match the quality of each hero's respective solo adventures. The Avengers rarely use teamwork, instead preferring each member to work more or less alone. It seemed like there was interest in the idea that this could be a team that doesn't get along and are so strong individually that they fail to understand the concept of teamwork (evidenced mostly by the mistrust of the Hulk) but it never really explores that. There isn't enough time to spend with each individual character so it instead feels like you're not really seeing the potential of any character at all (the useless Wasp perhaps has the most personality but even then it's poor, amounting to little more than an obsession with Thor unmatched by even that little girl from Adventures in Babysitting). It's just a big blur of red, yellow, green, and blue figures attacking some equally colorful baddie with no interesting drama, characterization, or story in-between. If Fantastic Four's premise was "superhero family," and X-Men's "superhero teenagers," then Avengers's is "superhero superheroes."
The Avengers of course went on to get better (the Masters of Evil were perhaps the first sign of this), its roster constantly changing and proving to be one of the most significant teams in comics history. These early works are interesting to look back on, and Kirby's art here is solid as always, but nothing ever seems to quite come together, as is often the case with premieres that carry such a large and ever-growing legacy on their floppy, four-color processed shoulders.
Favorite issue(s): Captain America Joins... The Avengers! (#4) Best Cover Art: The Coming of the Avengers! (#1)