7 August 2013

Loving the Avengers

I have been reading about Marvel Comic's superhero team the Avengers for the best part of fifty years now, starting with black and white reprints in Terrific in 1967.

The series went through its ups and downs but there were far more ups than downs and many of the story arcs are still fresh in my mind, stories like the Kree / Skrull War and the arrival of The Vision. In more recent years we have had Civil War and Secret Invasion.

The Avengers has also attracted most of the really big names in comics and those that left a large mark include Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Steve Engleheart, Barry Smith, John Byrne and Neal Adams.

As elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, what was once a single long-running title has fragmented in to several short-lived titles that keep being reformed to make new collectible first issues.

Volume 1 of the main title ran for just over 400 issues from 1963 - 1996. Since then Volume 2 lasted 13 issues, Volume 3 for 88, Volume 4 for 36 and the current Volume 5 is approaching 20 issues.

The frequent changes in titles and creators has also meant frequent changes in the character of the comic.

Jonathan Hickman is the current writer and I love what he is doing.

For many years the comic carried the strap-line "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" yet far too often they would use this might to fight minor costumed villains like the Taskmaster (who you have never heard of for a good reason).

Under Hickman the Avengers are again doing what only the Earth's Mightiest Heroes can do, and that includes going off-world to protect Earth from extra-terrestrial threats.

The detail of this page is not important, what matters is the scale, location and lack of action. This is not a simple fist-fight in Central Park.

The current storyline is pure SF with Earth being colonised as part of an experiment in evolution.

And this is developing in to something even more interstellar with the impending arrival of the Infinity cross-title event.

It is a real joy to have the Earth's Mightiest Heroes back on form again in a comic that rewards the mature reader.

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