This is it, my good friends. The first issue of “The Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” (well, actually SUPER-heroes, so they wouldn’t get confused by kids with real life heroes like policemen, firemen, etc.). This issue was released in september 1963 by Marvel’s writer-editor Stan “The Immortal” Lee and super-penciller slash co-writer Jack “The One-Above-All” Kirby (R.I.P. good sir), who wanted to unite some of Marvel’s greatest superheroes to face a threat that none of them could have faced alone (well, actually Thor could have, but that’s not the point). This was pretty much a response to the first superhero super-team created by Marvel, the Fantastic Four, but unlike them (who were friends way before they got their cosmic rays shower with Vic von Doom) this new team would require a lot of traction to get things going mainly because every one of these superheroes was known, until this point, to be a solo-act.
Sooo, they got Loki Lauffeyson, Asgard’s god of mischief (which, by the way, debuted long before that in 1949’s Venus Comics) and pitted him (again) against his step-brother Thor, the god of thunder and lightning and, maaaaybe, badassery. Back then, Loki was imprisoned by Odin (I think) on the Isle of Silence (which, as the name implies, works pretty much as a mute choir performing to a deaf audience in a vacuum chamber), so he used his mind projection to create an illusion, namely a set of dynamite on a railroad track next to which the Incredible Hulk was just leaping happily (or perhaps angrily). When our favourite green monster tried to be a hero once more, he crash-landed on the railroad, destroyed the bridge it was on and, yeah, endangered the lives of the passengers inside a train that was closing in. And, because The Hulk is “strongest there is” for a reason, he saved the day by holding the railroad tracks on his back (Atlas-like), while the train passed safely by. But nooo! Could it have been so simple? Could those people see that The Hulk was actually the hero? Neah. They went and published it in the papers, prompting that The Hulk is on a rampage once more. Fortunately, Rick Jones (Hulk’s teenage sidekick a.k.a the guy whom Bruce Banner tried to save from the Gamma bomb explosion a.k.a the reason he’s turning into The Hulk in the first place) was one of the first to read the paper and, with the help of his teenage buddies, The Teen Brigade, (picture them as Santa’s elves, with Santa being the Fantastic Four; or as very young male receptionists) they sent a signal to the FF’s Baxter Building. But, because the FF already had plans of their own, Reed Richards redirected the message to other superheroes that, luckily, would be available at that point. And they were.
First, it was Dr. Donald Blake, Thor’s human host/disguise, who answered the call by striking his cane on the floor and transforming into the God of Thunder. Then, another doctor (a different kind, this time), Henry “Hank” Pym, and his slutty on-and-off girlfriend, Janet van Dyne, took on their superhero guises as Ant-Man and the Wasp and literally flew to the rescue. Finally Tony Stark, the genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist put on his Iron Man armor (Mark II, the golden one, the one with the Iron Skirt) and left for the Teen Brigade’s HQ.
Next we got the chase for The Hulk and the eventual battle with him, which, as it turns out, had some hilarious moments. One that comes to mind is when Hulk ran away and disguised himself as a circus juggler, Mechano, until Ant-Man talked to some ants to create a cave-in and sink the poor guy who just wanted to be left alone (and juggle animals for some reason). Then Iron Skirt…Man (sorry) tried to catch him with a nylon net, but who can stop The Hulk? Meanwhile, Thor, while hurrling his mighty hammer Mjolnir at a Hulk ilussion in some desert, realized that The Hulk may be innocent and that Loki might be the big baddie all along. Politely, he went to his father Odin to ask permission to enter The Isle of Silence, take Loki’s ass and throw it down to Midgard so that he could answer for his crimes (not actually crimes, but you get the point).
While the rest of the team were occupied in throwing metal thingies at Hulk back on Earth, Thor got into a very interesting wrestling match with a troll, created a magnetic field with Mjolnir, grabbed Loki’s hide and flew back to his newfound allies. By confessing what Loki has done, the five heroes banded together as The Avengers to defeat Loki once and for all. And how did they do it, you ask? By making him moonwalk backwards into a trapdoor that made the poor asgardian fall into an impregnable junk tank full of radioactive wastes. In your face, Loki! And you figured out the rest, I think. They group hugged, chest bumped, Wasp hit on everyone except Hulk (!) and Daft Punk wrote a song in their honor “We’re up all night to get Loki”. Actually that last one didn’t happed. But “what if…”?
All in all, this first issue had it’s moments but most definetly had it’s flaws . Well first of all, Iron Man’s armor was hillarious. And yeah, back then he was really weak compared to pretty much every future incarnation of this character. He had to recharge every hour or so, just to fly or throw a punch. And the skirt…don’t even get me started on that. Thor had the Don Blake “virus” back then, which means that everytime he lost his grip on Mjolnir for more than 60 seconds he would revert back to the poor crippled doctor with a cane. Sad indeed. Hulk was pretty cool, I mean he could speak in full sentences, use big words (well, bigger that SMASH anyway) and leap higher and longer. But he didn’t have that rage which could be expressed by just one man on this planet, Fred Tatasciore. Wasp was plain useless… as tits on a boar. The only remarkable thing about her is that she would stop during a fight just to powder her nose or face, or to put on make-up. And, yeah, for hitting on every male of every species on a 20 mile radius (maybe even more). Ant-Man was the only one who had the balls and the brains to do what’s right. Minus the way he shrunk down, via special pills (no, he wasn’t a drug addict you guys). Shame that this character has fallen from an initial Avenger (and co-founder of the team) to a 2nd and 3rd tier character, until the AMAZING 2010 animated series “The Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” flushed him out of the anonymity and, luckily, put him back where he belongs, among the greatest Avengers of all time, with Edgar Wright’s 2015 movie. We’ll just have to wait and see.
So, that was all for today, true believers. Stay tuned for tomorrow when we’ll get to see The Hulk fight his way out of this team when we’ll review The Avengers #2. Stay true to comics and remember: “Once an Avenger, always an Avenger!”