Friday, May 11, 2012

Comic School Review: The Avengers #1 (1963) is Batshit Insane!

We all have issues. And thanks to Comixology, I now have The Avengers #1 from 1963. It's drawn by Jack Kirby and written by Stan Lee and let me tell you, it is crazier than a bag full of cats and rattlesnakes! Welcome to Comic School!

If you loved the film, then you owe it to yourself to go back to the original source and find out just how closely it all matches up. Loki is indeed the villain here, so it's pretty close - providing you ignore the fact that it excludes Captain America (who won't show up for another few issues), includes Hulk in clown make-up, and a cast of one hundred thousand plot-hole solving ants.

Next time some asshole scoffs and says, "You know, the comics were better!" you punch him in the greasy maw and bellow, "Oh yeah, fella? I heard all about Avengers #1 and I don't appreciate your tone!"

To hear all about Avengers #1... join me after the jump!

Okay, so this was the sixties so even though Jack Kirby was King and Stan was the Man you'd probably best be setting your expectations a little low.

A little lower.



So as I said, Loki is the villain here except forget the God of Mischief - Loki is referred to here as the God of Evil. Mischief is placing a bucket of water above a doorway. Evil is locking the door and drowning a baby in the bucket. 

Loki has been exiled to the dreaded Isle of Silence (where your iPod doesn't work and you're forced to watch The Artist) and he has a total mad on for getting revenge for his goldilocked brother, Thor. But the problem is that Thor is on earth so Loki needs to lure him to Asgard where he can battle him, even though Loki is banished from Asgard so god knows how that works. Luckily for Loki, though, he can appear as a "thought projection" on earth and begin his mischief... I mean, evil.

Now, in the original comics Thor has an alter ego, the human doctor Don Blake:

So let me get this straight. Thor could spend his whole time as a massive Viking rock god, drinking mead and banging Valkyries but instead he chooses to pose as a lame doctor, forced to rehabilitate even lamer kids. Plus he's a total homophobe to boot! Look at him tell that kid to hit some hom- oh... that's a baseball reference, right? Yeah I don't understand baseball.

But the weirdest thing is that he uses his cane to transform into Thor and then it becomes his hammer. But weirder than that is that it's a filthy old branch. If you went to see the doctor and he had a filthy old tree branch tucked wildly under his arm would you feel comfortable enough to take off your pants? Look at those panels again. The kid's mother can't stop staring at that damn branch. She can't get her kid out of there quick enough. 

So Loki is on earth in spirit but he needs a body to cause some chaos. So he decides to trick the conveniently passing by incredible Hulk to cause a ruckus:

He makes some magic fake hologram dynamite appear on the bridge and Hulk is such a stupid clumsy moron that when he tries to pick it up he smashes the bridge to pieces. Even though he still manages to save the train the engineers are spooked, so the rampaging Hulk makes front page news.

Hey, let's enjoy Loki's costume for a moment:

Tom Hiddleston saw this and said, "That guy. I want to be that guy. I don't care what it takes. Don't even pay me. I'll do it for a bag of peanuts. In fact forget that, I'll just get them on the plane."

Okay, so you're probably wondering, "Then who gets the Avengers together? It's Nick Fury, right? Where's Nick Fury? In 1963 Samuel L. Jackson was 15, so it's Teen Nick Fury, right?" No, you stupid idiot. But you're kind of on the right track.

Meet Rick Jones and discover what teenagers did before the Internet:

Jesus, Willie! Get a move on! Those innocent jokers are going to get hurt!

Who would have thought that the Teen Brigade was responsible for getting the Avengers together all along! Why weren't they in the movie? I think Justin Bieber would have made a great Rick Jones and could have easily got the fellas together and hammed on the radio.

Except they actually send the radio signal to the Fantastic Four, but Loki is of course gunning for Thor, so he diverts the radio waves so that they reach Dr Blake, but also nestle in the willing ears of a lot of other heroes as well. Like do you recognise this guy?

Holy crap, Tony! Purple socks and red leggings? What a faux pas! And how long do you think it takes him to get into that suit. He has one arm on, one leg on, and the rest is scattered all over the frigging floor. Is he drunk? Wouldn't you put your helmet on last? The guy has zero peripheral vision. How is he going to even bend down to put on those iron socks.

I would have loved to have seen this scene in the movie. "Looks like this is a job for Iron Man... Now where did I put my... shit... arrgh... where is that sock... Jarvis? Gnnggh... damn thing... just a minute... Jarvis! I don't think I have both my gloves. I - shit... Can't see a thing in this damn helm - BRRRRP - Jesus! Jarvis! Jarvis! I burped in my helmet!"

So we have seen Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, but there's still two more. Yes, I'm talking about the astonishing Ant-Man and his gal pal the Wasp. And just look at how he talks to her:

Good gravy! Not only will that annoying, blabbermouth Jan not shut up for two seconds, but missions appear to also give her a case of the explosive shits! I wish SHE would take a trip to the Isle of Silence! Am I rite, guys?!?? LULZ.

So the first time these heroes all meet up should be pretty epic, right? It should take place somewhere really important like the White House or the moon. Instead it takes place in Rick Jones' depressingly empty bedroom:

You're a parent. Imagine how you feel when drunk Tony Stark leans in real close to your teenage son and calls him a "lad". The kid is covering his mouth like he can't stand the smell.

So the gang has no other recourse than to find the Hulk and beat the holy living shit out of him. But finding the big green guy isn't as easy as they thought. Did you know that the Hulk is also a master of disguise and is hiding at a circus?:

And that's how clever the Hulk is - he's duped everyone into thinking he is a mechanical robot clown, just by smearing a bit of white greasepaint on his lips and putting crosses on his eyes. I wish we'd seen the scene where he first approached the ringmaster. In faux robot voice: "Hello. I am a mechanical man. I have come to your circus. To perform." Ringmaster: "Well gee whiz, I won't look a gift mechanical man in the mouth! Come on in, partner! Show's just gettin' started!"

Of course the idiot sixties audience are lapping it up:

How indeed! And guess how the heroes find him. An ant tells them. No I'm not kidding you. An ant is at the circus and he's the only one that figures out that something isn't right here. This single ant is smarter than that entire human audience.

So the astutely suspicious ant sends a telepathic call back to Ant Man and they race to the scene:

Wasp! WTF! She thinks Iron Man is hideous? Lady, the only reason he's trapped in that iron suit is so he doesn't get you pregnant. Give me a break. So the three of them start having an epic beat down on the Hulk. Ant Man actually tells the ants to burrow under Hulk and trap him in a crevice but it's a stupid plan and doesn't trap him for long.

But where is that dreamy Thor? Well, he knows that Loki must be behind this bullshit so he flys up to Asgard and asks Odin for permission to go to the Isle of Silence. He's playing right into Loki's hands, right? And what is Loki's plan? Loki is going to rape Thor with a troll:

It's a lot of work to go through for a troll rape, that's for sure!

But Loki seems to conveniently forget that Thor is the God of Thunder and has a magic hammer. So Thor hits the troll in the dick with some lightning and then he spins his hammer real fast until Loki falls over and forces him down to earth.

On earth he breaks up the Hulk/Iron Man/Ant Man/Wasp battle and tells them that it's all been a dumb prank. But then suddenly Loki makes himself radioactive and that apparently could prove to be a problem even though the Hulk is already radioactive. But it doesn't matter because a bunch of ants flick a hidden switch and:

Luckily there happened to be a trapdoor right where Loki was standing in this weird place where they just happened to be and lucky there was a nearby switch that some ants could operate. It seems unlikely and yet it happens every day.

So victory! Mainly thanks to the ants, but I guess Iron Man did go to all that trouble to put his suit on, so good for him too! Now this newly assembled team needs a name! Let's not rush into this. Let's all put our heads together and think of a really good one. I'd hate to just go with the first thing that popped into someone's head:

I love Iron Man's final line here because it's not dissimilar to what happens in the film. "Woo! Now we're together! But we also might choose to fight by ourselves! In our own solo sequels! Because we already signed the contracts!" I wish Thor was saying, "We'll never be beaten! Because of those ants!"

And now you know just about everything worth knowing about The Avengers! If you enjoyed this, let me know, and then I will do the issue where Captain America first appears!


  1. This has made me curious about the movies. Thor's alter ego isn't Don Blake?

  2. Nah, he 's all Thor all the time in the films. There's some jokey references to Donald Blake being Natalie Portman's ex and Thor wears one of his shirts.

  3. Gee, I hope there's a convenient trapdoor in the next Avengers. That'd be swell.

  4. "Bow before Thanoooooooooohhhhshiiiiiiiit!!!"

  5. Yeah, the first year of Avengers is pretty dire, even with Jack Kirby on pencils. The book doesn't really get its footing until issue #16, when the headlining heroes are jettisoned and some internal conflict starts brewing between Cap, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch. But you still have to endure Don Heck for another couple years before the book really starts to sing under Roy Thomas and John Buscema with issue #41, kicking off a couple years of the best superhero comics ever published. But it's a bumpy road getting there, and looking back at this first Avengers issue really shows how much the book transformed itself in the span of a few short years.

  6. I just bought #4 when Captain America joins the Avengers from Comixology and will review that within the next couple of days.

    I do own (and have read) the Essential Avengers book 1 so I've read 1 - 25. I might have to take a look at #16. I remember Hawkweye was great because he acted like a dick all the time and called Captain America "Glamor pants"