The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1
Pros: Nice action filled artwork and solid storytelling when it gets there
Cons: Begins pretty slow
Loki, the God of Mischief has grown frustrated by the constant defeats to his brother Thor. Once again he plots revenge by attempting to manipulate the Hulk into a battle with him. Instead, Loki’s plan leads to the formation of the superhero group soon to be called the Avengers. -summary
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.