THE AVENGERS #59-71: The Roy Thomas Years Part Two

First appearance of Yellow Jacket, from Avengers #59 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema.

First appearance of Yellow Jacket, from Avengers #59 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema.

As part of an effort to create a comprehensive comic book “index,” I’m republishing my “panel from every issue” series in bundles.  Sadly, I lost my Avengers pictures from early issues…So there aren’t a lot here.  Makes me very sad.

Most of what I posted were classic pictures, which, again, are gone.  But here’s what I had to say about the first chunk of issues during the Roy Thomas/(mostly) John Buscema era.  Thomas would write the series #36-#104, with the great John Buscema illustrating the bulk of his scripts.  And Thomas was responsible for many classic plot threads that still matter today (and are often repeated, over and over).

THE AVENGERS #59-60.  Hank Pym continues to change identities…In this issue, he infiltrates the team under a new identity.  This was a pretty neat story.  Reading it now, knowing who he is, it’s not a shocker–but they don’t do a big reveal at first…I wonder if readers at the time could tell it was Hank underneath that gaudy yellow costume?  The fun continues in part two: The big wedding issue, in which Hank Pym loses his mind, takes on a new identity, Wasp doesn’t know it’s him, and she tricks him into marrying her.

It’s all extremely odd–and way too compressed to lead to marriage.  But then, we’ve seen before, repeatedly, how desperate Marvel women were in the old days.

AVENGERS #63: In which we meet Hawkeye’s brother, and Clint Barton becomes Goliath, in an issue illustrated by Gene Colan.

Lots of sibling and mommydaddy issues in the early Avengers stories. I wonder if Roy Thomas had some kind of problem with his own family? I mean, there’s Scarlet Witch/Quicksilver/Magneto; Hawkeye and his brother; Simon Williams and The Grim Reaper (and Vision)…

It never ends.

But it was the “soap opera” nature of the title that made it so crisp and distinct from other team books.

AVENGERS #67: The first time they blew up their base.

AVENGERS #69-71: The first appearance of the Squadron Supreme!

So many great characters were introduced in the first 100 issues of this book…And in this one, we got both The Grandmaster and Squadron Sinister!

Grandmaster, who would later do a very similar thing in Contest of Champions, and Kang pit Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against Marvel’s knock-off version of DC’s Justice League of America.

The Contest, in turn, was the logical progenitor of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, which is generally regarded as being the first “event” book in comic book history.

For the sake of completion, a panel from #71 is below–the fadeaway of GM as he heads for greener pastures.

It also exemplifies another characteristic of the Avengers–sympathy for the devils. Makes sense–half the team are ex-criminals anyway (Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver) and others manufacture criminals (Hank Pym).  Yes, Stan had a little bit of a limited range since he used this same theme in most of his other books.  It’s the essential conflict in The Hulk, and The X-Men constantly struggle against folks who assume that they’re bad, even though they were generally good.

But when was the last time Marvel or DC created a purely satirical team like Squadron Sinister/Supreme, and treated them seriously?  I can’t think of a recent time.  But back then, they did stuff like this.

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