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VINE VOICEon March 16, 2008
I've been a long time fan of the Avengers comic book, but I have never fully understood the name. The Fantastic Four were a quartet, the Defenders defended the Earth against evil and the X-Men owed their name to Professor Xavier. The Avengers, however, weren't truly avenging anything. It's just one of those random thoughts that ran through my head as I read Essential Avengers Volume 6.

This volume covers issues 120-140 of the Avengers comic, along with Giant Size Avengers 1-4, Captain Marvel #33 and Fantastic Four #150. Although the exact lineup would change over this time span, the central members would be the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Mantis, Iron Man and Thor. Among others also participating are Black Panther, Hawkeye, Captain America, Beast, Yellowjacket, Wasp and Swordsman. And since this is the team of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the villains are pretty tough too, including Ultron, Thanos, the Zodiac, Dormammu and Klaw.

The main villain, however, during this set of issues is clearly Kang the Conqueror, who, among other things, has his eyes set on marrying the Mantis who apparently is also something called the Celestial Madonna. Of course, as always, he will fail, but there are a number of marriages in this issue, most notably between the Vision and Scarlet Witch and between Quicksilver and Crystal. This volume will also provide the full origins of both the Mantis and Vision.

As always, the Avengers remain entertaining, and these issues are helped by the presence of many core members - Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Vision and Scarlet Witch - although the other superheroes typically associated with the team - Captain America, Yellowjacket and Wasp - only appear a limited amount. If you are a fan of either the Avengers or mid-70's Marvel, this volume should be read.
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on October 12, 2008
This volume collects issues #120-140 of Marvel Comics' monthly Avengers series and the quarterly Giant Size Avengers #1-4. It also includes Captain Marvel #33 (which follows #125) and Fantastic Four #150 (that fits between #127 and #128). The original comic books were all originally published between March 1974 and October 1975. Steve Englehart is the writer for all Avengers issues besides #138 and GS #1. These same issues feature six different pencilers, with Bob Brown (#120-123, 126), Sal Buscema (#127-134) and George Tuska (#135, 137, 139-140) logging the most panels.
The Avengers active roster at the start of this collection is: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Panther, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Swordsman and Mantis. #120-124 feature the team battling the Zodiac cartel, twelve criminals that each resembles a respective astrological sign (admittedly not one of Marvel's memorable creations). The series improves with Thanos in #125 and the wedding of Quicksilver and Crystal and the return of an archnemesis in #127. Kang the Conqueror returns in a story arc that starts in #129. In GS #2 one Avenger dies and Hawkeye returns. The most interesting segment of this run is the flashback origin of the Kree and Skrull civilizations in #133-134. The origin of the Vision also appears here though it was later retconned by Marvel. With its ranks slimming, the team adds new members Moondragon and former X-Man Beast in #137, and Yellowjacket and the Wasp return soon thereafter. GS #4 centers on the wedding of the Vision and Scarlet Witch and thankfully concludes the Swordsman/Mantis subplot.
This is recommended for fans interested in the entire Avengers series but new readers should start with an earlier "Essentials" volume. Even better is the "40 Years of The Avengers" DVD-ROM collection of PDFs of the entire monthly run (though unfortunately not the Giant Size issues). The Marvel Essentials series offers convenient, inexpensive access to these 30-year old Avengers comics without needing a computer. At over 550 pages, this is a tremendous value and offers hours of reading.
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on August 21, 2015
What really stands out in this book is how much Steve Englehart's writing stands as a halfway point between the early days of Marvel and it's present. Taken together, the stories in this book have real scope, covering several real time years with a number of cosmic concepts. All the same, it's a scope that involves thinly written characters and often goofy concepts. The Celestial Madonna saga particularly illustrates both the pluses and minuses of the work. When it first came out, it must have seemed stunningly deep compared to contemporary mainstream comics. Still, I find it hard to believe that Mantis was ever considered an interesting character- the only times I didn't find her dull, she was annoying. And seeing the popularity of the anti-hero in comics today, it's almost depressing to see the tons of potential that is the Swordsman be wasted, with him starting this run as an unlucky loser and finishing it as a pseudo mystical New Age spirit.
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on September 13, 2014
Keeps getting better. Marvel excelled in creating mature storylines. Tragically, I do miss more and more the colors! I can only imagine the fun of seeing in full color the Vision in a swimming trunk, ha!
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on May 25, 2008
The Avengers have seen their share of ups and downs as a comic. Despite a stellar assembly of stars (or not) - in reality, the title often struggled to live up to what it proclaimed to be: The World's Mightiest Heroes. By the last collection of Essential Avengers (# 5), the swinging sixties by Stan and gang were over, and a new cohort of writers took over.

Steve Englehart mans this period of the Avengers with pretty good plotting, but the same problem that plagued the previous collection remains: a lack of strong villains. I have never considered Cornelius Lunt and the Zodiac group (groan) a legit threat to the Avengers - a bunch of guys in animal suits just do not make threatening villains! And Kang the conquerer appears again, and again...

Kang has always been a 2nd rate Dr Doom to me. However, we do get Thanos and Ultron 5 in this - serious baddies. With a dearth of bad guys, Engleheart does a novel turn and even summons up the undead - Frankenstein, Baron Zemo, The Ghost, The Human Torch and Wonder Man - in a strange but colorful yarn.

Much of the book focuses on Mantis (who?). This Asian heroine and the dear Swordsman - feel strained and out of place in the Marvel pantheon. Looking back now, they were hardly the stuff of Marvel legend - but they occupy a sizable part of the narrative here. Although I care little about Mantis, the storyline that Engleheart weaves is compelling enough to follow, Zodiac warts and all. I'm still confused about what a Celestial Madonna is and anyone reading the book, pls. let me know.

Most importantly, we get the Vision's origin story extensively told. And a nice origin of the Kree-Skrull war which I never knew about. This is the highlight of the book. But why Marvel had to employ so many artists and inkers - from Don Heck to George Tuska to John Buscema to Dan Adkins to Rich Buckler to Don Heck and Johnny Craig, etc - it's amazing how many artists took the reigns issue after issue. Although this affects the style and consistency - it's interesting to see how the different styles (many dated now) pan out. No artist took ownership of the Avengers during this period, which reflects badly on Marvel.

Overall, the Avengers were destined for greater things. Engleheart's sometimes convoluted storylines (remember his work on Dr Strange) may not be for everyone. But this is a readable book overall. Not the classic Avengers Assemble we've all come to love, but more like the Avengers Roll Along!
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on August 13, 2008
Essential Avengers Volume 6 is a good addition to the other volumes - it contains some of the core stories that inform things to come. It doesn't have as much of the beautiful art of John Buscema or George Perez (but wait for volume 7, Perez's run is in there most likely).

Some of the George Tuska art inside this volume is very classy - it's old dschool but he really knows how to draw people and their emotions. The character development of the Swordsman in this one is pretty cool, and there is a romantic triangle between Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Mantis.

Also, you get the first appearance of the Legion of the Unliving (although I like the one that happened in the 80's Avengers Annual #16, where the Legion of the Unliving was stacked with undead powerhouses! check that one out if you have not already - great story with art by a lot of different artists - in that one, undead Bucky swats the Wasp and undead Korvac fights Silver Surfer).

The plotlines of the issues in this one are particularly good from start to finish, and it includes a decent origin of the Vision that was retconned out later.
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on March 16, 2010
This book is very similar to previous Essential Avengers books: teamwork, lot of interesting characters, some early works of today's great comic illustrators but for me, earlier volumes made much better impression.

I must add that I tried all kind of Marvel Essential trades and that I follow and will this series along with Essential Wolverine.
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on April 7, 2008
how's that for a pretentious title? this and vol. 5 of the Avengers have contained most of my favorite stories so far. in this one, we finally get to the origin of the Vision, my favorite Avenger. we learn how and from when he came (i won't ruin it for you if you don't know, but i'd be surprised if anyone reading this doesn't) and his purpose in life.
we also get a double wedding ceremony, magic, racism and all sorts of guest stars.
the reprinting in this is OK. it was designed as a color book, so sometimes the shading is missing, but overall you can tell what is supposed to be going on. besides, for the price, you can't beat it!
now, when's v. 7 coming out?
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on April 20, 2008
An excellent collection of The Avengers and their ongoing adventures! How could you not like the introduction of Thanos and the recruitment of Beast?!
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on April 14, 2016
I Loved this run on the Avengers, fighting the Kodiak, the mystery of many is and the vision. There is not a weak story in the run
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