In one week’s time, the world will end.
I kid you not.
As the rather sinister image attached to the top of this opinion shows, in just one week’s time, Kang The Conqueror will exact his terrible revenge on the people of Earth for their attack on his command centre. There is only one thing that stands between him and his terrible plan – The Avengers.
Don’t confuse these guys with the 60s TV show starring Patrick MacNee – this is a completely different outfit. Earth’s mightiest heroes have combined to form a team – the only team capable of stopping the greatest forces of evil.
Before you ask, I have not been swilling the Aftershock again. I refer, of course, to the magnificent Marvel Comics title. This is the second in my series of Marvel Comics reviews – if you enjoyed Spiderman then stick around. If not – what the hell are you doing here?
There is currently only one ongoing Avengers title. Limited series are a relatively common occurrence – the 3 part “Ultron Imperative” has just concluded, and more often than not there is at least one spin-off doing the rounds.
The Avengers comic is one of Marvel Comics most prolific titles, having run consecutively for over 38 years. The title is currently at issue number 49 in volume three. Volume one ran for just over 400 issues, and volume two ran to around twelve or thirteen issues As per the Spiderman comics, The Avengers can only be purchased from specialist dealers, and will cost you between £1.40 and £2.25 according to where you shop.
The Origin of The Avengers
The original Avengers were in fact united by chance when Loki, the Asgardian God of Mischief, attempted to discredit the green-skinned creature known as the Incredible Hulk. Loki planned to draw his heroic brother Thor, the Norse God of Thunder into battle. The Hulk's ally and friend Rick Jones dispatched a distress call to the Fantastic Four (the only super team in existence at the time). Loki subsequently intercepted the distress call and redirected it to Thor. Inadvertently, the summons also fell into the hands of three other heroes: Iron Man, Ant-Man and The Wasp. Together, they tracked down the Hulk and discovered Loki to be the true culprit. A spectacular battle ensued; in the end, the Loki was defeated – and the Avengers were formed.
Over the years, there have been an enormous amount of changes to the team structure of The Avengers – indeed a regular update of the team roster is now almost traditional at six monthly intervals. The most famous Avenger is Captain America – who has his own Marvel Comic and still acts as the leader of the team. At least forty different heroes have been members of the Avengers over the years – including Spiderman for a handful of titles. The Avengers are one of the few comic book super teams that is officially recognised – and indeed affiliated – with the US government, and the focus of this book is clearly on beating the bad guys, rather than trying to clear their name or assert authority. Even though this is a comic book, the title still deals with the politics associated with government operations, and the stormy relationship between the Avengers and the government has long been a plot thread. Indeed, the team was almost forced to disband when one of their members (The Vision) became corrupt and attempted to take over the world (as you do).
The Good Bits
As long as I have liked Spiderman I have been a committed fan of The Avengers. I like the uncomplicated, old-fashioned story telling that occupies the pages of this comic, unlike any other currently on sale. Whereas The X Men titles are all about prejudice, the Avengers stories are simply about kicking butt – normally on a cosmic, almost impossible level. Despite the longevity of the title, and the many varied story arcs that have taken place, the current story line is perhaps my favourite of all time. Written by the Avengers greatest writer (Kurt Busiek) the latest story portraying the Avengers' battle against an inter galactic conqueror is an epic with a capital E. I defy anyone to read each issue of this story and to not be literally clamouring for the next issue. Busiek’s knowledge of The Avengers history is legendary, and every page weaves a new twist in the tale, incorporating characters old and new. As well as these issues, I have also enjoyed the often see struggles of the team against their sinister counterparts – the Masters of Evil.
The Not So Good Bits
As with any ongoing series, there have been moments in The Avengers’ history that we would probably all prefer to forget. With dwindling sales in the mid to late nineties, the comic’s creative team decided in its infinite wisdom that it would kill off the entire Avengers team, only to re-create them in an alternate universe, and effectively re-write history. As if that weren’t bad enough, when they realised what a big mistake they had made, they cancelled the series again and decided to write the whole episode off as nothing more than a Bobby Ewing dream-like scenario. Oh dear.
One of this title’s strongest features is the quality of characterisation. Thirty years of comic book history have created a wealth of genuinely likeable characters, whose lives twist and turn in just about every way imaginable. Story lines in the Avengers have featured racism, bigotry, jealousy, romance, and just about every other emotional situation you can think of. There is also something inherently sexy about this title – everyone is beautiful; everyone has a beautiful body; everyone wears skin tight skimpy lycra. The characters fall in and out of love like schoolchildren – and this all adds to the ongoing appeal of these guys.
The Collector’s Lot
Like all comics, certain Avengers issues can fetch serious money. Issue one in good condition could cost you up to £30,000. The series has not retained the popularity of the Spiderman titles – most issues published post 1970 will fetch little more than £2, but values will increase the longer the run of issues that you have. The title is currently going through something of a renaissance, and demand for back issues is quite high. My advice to anyone with copies is to sell now whilst prices are quite high.
This is a comic for old school comics buyers. The story telling is very old fashioned and may not appeal to today’s younger generation, but it’s all very imaginative and harmless brain fodder. The scale and pace of storytelling is absolutely breathtaking. Be careful if you decide to read an issue – you may never be able to stop buying this comic again….