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Essential Avengers, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials) Paperback – June 1, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
Book 2 of 7 in the Essential Avengers Series

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Marvel Comics & Graphic Novels
Star Wars
Marvel Single Issue Comics

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel; Revised edition edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078510741X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785107415
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. Nevertheless: Having begun his career with wartime Timely Comics and staying the course throughout the Atlas era, Stan the Man made comic-book history with Fantastic Four #1, harbinger of a bold new perspective in story writing that endures to this day. With some of the industry's greatest artists, he introduced hero after hero in Incredible Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and more -- forming a shared universe for rival publishers to measure themselves against. After an almost literal lifetime of writing and editing, Lee entered new entertainment fields and earned Marvel one opportunity after another. He remains one of Marvel's best-known public representatives.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The second volume reprinting this comic series is a bit of a mixed bag - the stories are of a fairly variable quality, some great, some quite poor, and the overall impression is of something moving along with no real plan.
I guess what we have here is fundamental proof that Stan Lee, at the height of his powers, had his limits - while turning out great stories in Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, this title suffered. Stan even appeared to realise that as, part of the way through this volume, a new writer was brought in: Roy Thomas.
Roy has shown himself to be a great writer of this form, but his first few stories don't really show him at his best. I believe that this was amongst his first published work.
On the plus side, however, the characterisation improves vastly, with some of the cast becoming easily distinguishable by their dialogue alone, a vast improvement from the period where all the characters spoke the same.
Not a showcase of the greatest Avengers issues, but of a period of transition. Things were better before this, and also improve after.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reprinting Avengers 25-46 and King Size Special #1, "Essential Avengers vol. 2" is something of a mixed bag. Stan Lee hands over the reins to Roy Thomas at approximately the midway point in the collection, which is a slight improvement as Thomas injects some fresh blood into a project which clearly held Lee's interest only flaggingly at the end. Don Heck's art looks uniformly execrable throughout, so John Buscema coming on board for the last third or so is a very welcome change indeed.
The scripts themselves are uneven. While the initial bickering amongst the team is fairly interesting (if only to hear Captain America, a product of the 40s, exchanging barbs with Hawkeye in perfect 60s tough-guy patois), the team soon begins to emit affirmations of hero-worship to each other like a couple of natural-born bootlickers at a Promise Keepers rally ("You're the man!" "No, you're the man!" <hug>)
The initial promise of Goliath's being trapped at the freakish height of 10 feet tall is squandered within a few issues, Hercules joins the team in an apparent attempt to bring Stan Lee's lofty dialogue back, the Wasp is her usual irrelevant self, and Captain America, the born leader, fails miserably to control the team and needs Goliath to straighten it out.
The issues do build some momentum, and classic battles with the Super-Adaptoid and the Whizzer rekindle the old magic of the Avengers.
Even with all the aforementioned flaws, this collection of the Avengers still beats most of the stuff on the newsstand and in the comics shops today.
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Volume 2 of "The Essential Avengers" marks the point where the pendulum started to center for the series and Roy Thomas and John Buscema took over from Stan Lee and Don Heck. The Avengers started out as a group of super strong super heroes including the Mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man. This proved to be rather problematic with coming up with super villains who could plausibly give this group a stand up fight. So then the group went in the completely opposite direction and came up with a skill quartet of Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. That lasted until issue #28 when Giant Man came back (now called Goliath), bringing along the Wasp. This not only gave the new Avengers some muscle, but with Henry Pym back in the fold the group had its requisite scientist for those times when brains can help brawn and the ability to throw a shield, shoot an arrow, run really fast, or cast hexes. Then for brawn without the brains, Hercules joins the group.

Collected in Volume 2 are "The Avengers" #25-46 and Annual #1, which brings together the "original" Avengers with the Avengers of "today," against the Mandarin, Power Man, the Living Laser, the Swordsman, the Enchantress, and the Executioner. Thomas took over as writer with issue #35 and Buscema takes over as the primary artist with issue #41. The artistic improvement is obvious, especially for someone such as myself who was never enamored of Don Heck's artwork, but the more significant changes are coming from the writing. It was Thomas who brought Hercules into the mix, which upped the ante on the bickering in the group.
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The Essential Avengers, Volume 2 is an apt but not quite equal followup to the first volume. If fractions could be allowed, I would give Volume 2 three-and-a-half stars.

There are some great issues in the mix, especially those where just as Hawkeye is trying to get his Russian girlfriend, the Black Widow, to be voted in as an official member of the superhero fighting team, she is working for Shield where a primary mission is to act as a double agent and give the impression that she is on the Communist side of the Cold War, thus pitting her at odds specifically with The Avengers and, in general, with the free world.

Among the best stories are indeed the ones that strongly center around the Black Widow. The rest of the volume, by and large, has recurring themes of trying to regain or maintain lost superpowers. For instance, for a few issues, Hank Pym is doomed to remain ten feet tall as a result of a freak accident in one of his encounters and thus cannot alternate between his Ant Man and Giant Man states without endangering his health. Also prevalent and quite problematic are the issues focusing upon Quicksilver, with his declining speed, and The Scarlet Witch, with her weakened spell-casting abilities; in these storylines, nothing substantial explains why they were losing their powers from the start or how, after retreating back to their homeland, they were able to fully recover them.

To their credit, the writers did try to pose challenges that would make the Avengers seem more human, that is, where they have to use more ingenuity to remain a team, especially with Thor and Iron Man having already exited the picture for personal reasons.
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