First Published: June 2000
Contents: Avengers #25 (February 1966) to #46 (November 1967), King-Size Avengers #1 (September 1967), and the Ant-Man story from Tales to Astonish #27 (January 1962)
Key Creator Credits: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Don Heck, and John Buscema
Key First Appearances: Goliath, Collector, Bill Foster, Sons of the Serpent, Living Laser, Red Guardian, Whirlwind
Story Continues From: Essential Avengers Vol. 1
Story Continues In: Essential Avengers Vol. 3
Overview: The Avengers legacy continues in this second Essential edition. The line-up of Cap’s Quirky Quartet (Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver) are the core line-up in this volume, but we see the return of the Wasp and Giant-Man, who soon adopts the new identity of Goliath. In addition, the Greek demi-god Hercules becomes a long-term guest of the Avengers before finally being named a member of the team in issue #45. Hawkeye petitions the team to admit his girlfriend Black Widow to the team, but she would not officially join the team for many years.
In this era, stories start being stretched out over multiple issues, becoming grander in scope. New villains are introduced, such as the Collector, Whirlwind and the Living Laser; existing villains such as Dr. Doom, Dragon Man and Attuma are imported from other titles; and familiar villains like Enchantress and the Executioner are still causing trouble.
What makes this Essential?: Quite honestly, these stories are very pedestrian. When fans make lists of their favorite Avengers stories, these issues do not make the cut. However, I think this volume is key because of two creators who begin their long residency at Avengers Mansion.
Roy Thomas was the first of many fans to join the comic industry in the 1960s. Thomas was hired as a staff writer, taking over many books that had been written by Stan Lee since issue #1. Thomas took over with Avengers #35, which began a seven-year run on the title. Thomas’ long career has given him the chance to work on nearly every character, but his Avengers run, particularly the Kree-Skrull war, remains one of his best.
John Buscema provided much of the art during the Thomas era on the Avengers, and then later returned to the title in the 1980s for a memorable five-year run with Roger Stern. In the 1960s, Buscema’s art-style was very similar in look and energy with Jack Kirby, and became the natural choice to take over the art duties on the Fantastic Four and Thor titles when Kirby left Marvel in 1970.
Footnotes: Beginning with issue #38, Tony Stark’s mansion is now referred to as Avengers Mansion for the first time.
The full review can be found at www.EssentialShowcase.com.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of these Avengers comics, check with your local comic book. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!