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Avengers Classic #1

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Avengers Classic #1

Credits

  • Words: Stan Lee & Dwayne McDuffie
  • Art: Jack Kirby, Michael Avon Oeming, & Kevin Maguire
  • Inks: Dick Ayers
  • Colors: Michael Avon Oeming & Kevin Maguire
  • Story Title: “The Coming of the Avengers!”, “Some Assembly Required” and “The Real Origin of the Aveng
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jun 13, 2007

Move over Marvel Masterworks and Marvel Essentials, there is a new game in town for Avengers reprints. Classic Avengers stories, all in color for.... $3.99

Marvel is testing the waters again, with another series of classic reprints. Years ago, in the 1980’s, getting back copies of the X-Men could be a difficult and expensive task. No Marvel Essentials then, no E-Bay, no message boards, heck – no Internet at all! To fill that niche then, Marvel created X-Men Classics – a title that reprinted important X-Men stories and threw in a few bonuses along with it. Now, Marvel is trying the formula again with their famous superhero team The Avengers.

Avengers Classic #1 opens with style and panache by reprinting, what else, The Avengers #1, the story that started it all. Thor’s vicious half-brother, Loki, has a scheme to get revenge on Thor and he plans to use the Incredible Hulk to do it. When Rick Jones’ call for help goes astray to Doctor Donald Blake (Thor) it is also picked up by Tony (Iron Man) Stark, Henry (Ant-Man) Pym, and Janet (Wasp) Van Dyne. Pretty soon this cadre of heroes meet to face the Incredible Hulk while Thor goes to face off against Loki. Will any of them be a match for their opponents?..... What do you think? Avengers Classic contains a couple of bonuses to sweeten the pot as well – two back-up stories. Dwayne McDuffie writes the first while "Mr. Marvel" himself, Stan Lee, writes the second.

The original story, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby has been cleaned up and the color retouched where needed, exactly how it would be for the more expensive Marvels Masterworks. Printed on modern, slick, comic book paper the story could not look better; the classic Jack Kirby artwork probably coming closest to looking the way it did on Kirby’s drawing table. As for the story.... Either you like Silver Age stories or you do not. There are many who find Silver Age dialogue to be hokey, corny, and/or stilted; they find the plots to be full of happy coincidences and the comic book psuedo-science to be absolutely unbelievable. There are others who see a more innocent time, more innocent stories, and a creative rush and freedom with the era. New ground was being broken, there were few rules and there was a kind of "anything goes" attitude. All of that can be said of this story. It is heavy on plot and heavy on dialogue (some of it overly expository by modern standards) but it was breaking new ground and there is still an air of amazing adventure about it.

Even if you do not like the Silver Age, there are still the two back-up stories. Ever wonder what the first meeting of the Avengers would have been like with all of those egos in the same room? McDuffie’s story has its tongue firmly planted in cheek as he answers that question with a cheeky little tale. Michael Avon Oeming’s art is always a treat but this time he watercolor paints over his pencils for a nice, artistic look. Stan Lee’s story goes for the same humor vein; weaving a tale out of whole cloth in which Lee acts like a Hollywood huckster to convince the hero team to stay together and become comic book stars. I am not necessarily the biggest fan of Kevin Maguire’s art. I tend to find he overdoes the facial expressions, making the characters look like they are mugging for the camera and he is certainly guilty of that here. The nice thing is that, with this over-the-top tale, that style is a perfect fit.

If you enjoy the Silver Age, if you like comic book history, then Avengers Classic will give you exactly what you crave. Even if you are not such a fan of the past each issue will contain newer stories crafted to fit in with these past tales and take a deeper look at the characters and events. An additional bonus is that the back page of the comic will be used to reprint the original letters pages from the issues featured. Not even the Marvel Masterworks prints the old letter pages and completists and letter hack fans should be happy. Although the price on these issues is a dollar more than your average comic book it is still very much a bargain considering what you get. Fans of comic book history now have another choice and a whole new generation can be introduced to the classic Marvel superteam. Avengers Assemble! (Come on, you know I had to do it.)

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