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Essential Avengers, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) Paperback – February 25, 2009
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- Publisher : Marvel; New edition (February 25, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 536 pages
- ISBN-10 : 078513929X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0785139294
- Grade level : Preschool and up
- Item Weight : 1.34 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 1.5 x 10 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #893,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The Avengers were Marvel’s 2nd super group after the Fantastic Four debuted in 1961. Essential Avengers 1 contains issues #1-24. The first 8 issues feature the dynamic duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kirby would return for two more issues in this volume but Don Heck took over after him. Heck was a step down from Kirby with his art going up and down, but he eventually improved by the last few comics in this collection.
In the first 24 issues the Avengers would go through some major transformations. Issue one had Thor, Iron Man, Anti-Man, Wasp and the Hulk battling Loki. In #2 Ant-Man went through his first transformation into Giant-Man and the Hulk left the group although he would be a few more comics. #4 had Captain America being found in the ice and joining the group. Then in Issue #16 the Avengers’ line-up transformed again with Iron Man the Wasp, Giant-Man and Thor leaving while Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joined Captain America. That brought instant tensions as none of the new male characters believed in Cap. That led to constant bickering for example with Hawkeye. Cap himself wanted to leave the Avengers as well and join SHIELD. That was Stan Lee’s attempt to add some tension to the group and change the dynamic. By #22 the team is about done due to these internal disputes.
In terms of villains there are some classic ones. Loki is in issue #1. Namor in #3-4. Baron Zemo in #6-7, #9 and #15-16. The Enchantress and Executioner in #7, #9, #15-16 and #21-22, Kang the Conqueror in #8, #11 and #23-24, Wonder Man in #9, Immortus in #10, the Mole Man in #12 and #17, Count Nafaria in #13, the Swordsman in #19-20, the Mandarin in #20, Power Man in #21-22, and the Circus of Crime in #22. Many of these were making their first appearances in the Marvel universe in these comics and would become mainstays. It was these characters that would keep the Avengers going and interesting each issue.
Stan Lee improved as a writer from the start of the series up to issue 24. There were multi-issue storylines, and the dialogue was better. The one major negative is the Wasp character. There are so many female stereotypes and horrible dialogue she was given such as talking about having to put on her make-up, and talking about how “dreamy” other male characters were. The comics were a reflection of their time, so while there was a female super hero, she was still restrained by stereotypes.
I know some complain about this series being black and white instead of color, but it’s a great collection of the origins of the Avengers and at a much cheaper price than the colored versions.
Unfortunately, they are all black and white newsprint. With cheap Minecraft fan fiction graphic novels being publishing on thick glossy color pages, I thought that Marvel would have a more professional product.
Overall, I'm not a fan of Heck's art, but the storytelling was genuinely entertaining under his lead. In fact, I think the book improved significantly. I was laughing out loud during the later issues, owing to the constant friction between Hawkeye and Captain America. It strikes me as crazy that the three departing Avengers (Iron Man, Giant Man and Wasp) would place themselves in charge of hiring their replacements (Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) without any input from the one remaining member (Captain America) left behind to lead them. The result is a very different group with a distinctly chaotic, uneasy dynamic. It makes for great reading, better than the average comic. The team becomes the ongoing focus, rather than the villains, and the danger becomes more pointed that way.
Bonus observation: Heck tends to follow his own muse when it comes to panel layouts. He breaks away from the typical Kirby grid (based on 4, 6, or 9 panels per page) in favor of more organic, slightly irregular structures.
Top reviews from other countries
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's cleverly used Loki to accidentally gather together Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man and the Wasp as well as, very briefly, the Hulk. The stories are first class and the artwork by Kirby and later Don Heck is stunning.
The first team's only outing together was against the shape-changing Space Phantom which led to the Hulk's departure which was on the cards from the word go