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Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes #1: Review

Jan 2005
Joe Casey, Scott Kolins

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes #1 Review by (August 22, 2011)
Review: I went into this expecting a simple retelling of the early issues of THE AVENGERS, since Marvel can’t seem to stop having new creative teams come in and rehash old stories (especially origins). I was surprised: the focus is on what happened behind the scenes of the formation of the great hero team, the part Stan and Jack glossed over back in the 1960s: how they had trouble gaining acceptance (untold because the original came before the Watergate scandal made everyone cynical and suspicious of anyone in power—an attitude that continues to this day). We also see the heroes dealing with the new situation, something which came off effortlessly in the original but here makes clear they were treading a new path and uncertain how to proceed. So how did the creators do? Scott Kolins art is good, though a little cartoonish for a project that emphasizes the heroes’ dignity in the end. Joe Casey writes well but his plotting, especially in the early issues, looks like a bunch of deleted scenes strung together; he gets the hang of it as the series progresses, though, and it all comes together in the end to remind us why the Avengers are heroes.

Comments: Story takes place after the events of AVENGERS (Vol. 1) #1, behind the scenes of #2-3, and ends at the opening of issue #4. Captain America’s appearance is a last-page cameo.


Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes #1 Review by (October 9, 2011)
Hulk and Sub-Mariner both escape. Namor goes on in Av#4 to find Captain America's frozen body in the Arctic, and send it drifting south. The various chronology sources say that there is a large gap between the opening of Av#4 and Avengers finding Cap's floating body, wherein they appear in other stories. Unfortunately this issue suggests very strongly that they pick him up on the way back from Gibraltar. But I will follow the chronologies. There are 2 interesting and related bits placed here because they contain references back to Av#3. In Avengers Classic #3's additional tale Giant-Man tells Iron Man he has worked out that he is Tony Stark, but IM of course denies it. In a flashback in Mighty Avengers #21 an ant-size GM finds proof when he accidentally sees IM unmask. The only solo adventure in this period that is of immediate relevance to Avengers is the introduction of Black Knight in TtA#52. This villain will be another member of Av#6's Masters of Evil. The origin of the Mandarin in ToS#50 is of much more import than the fact that he will be the mastermind behind the plot in Avengers Annual #1. Then at last we get to the final section of this issue, and the part of Av#4 where the Avengers find Cap.

In between Av#1 and #2 the group members have various solo adventures. The ones relevant to Avengers history are Thor meeting Lava Man whose people will be the menace in Av#5, and Iron Man facing Melter who will be one of the Masters of Evil in Av#6. The Avengers Classic #2 new story shows Hulk bounding away from Avengers, and helping a woman give birth en route (still as Hulk not Banner!). (It looks like they were already running out of significant material to put in the added stories.) Iron Man gets his new slimline armour in ToS#48. In Untold Tales of Spider-Man #3 Iron Man, Giant-Man and Wasp are seen hunting for Sandman, the chronologically first recorded Avengers (partial) group action outside their group's titles. ToS#49 includes cameos of each Avenger (including Bruce Banner), the first published sign of the Avengers outside their own title. Then the 2nd section of the current issue leads in to Av#3. Hulk is now a public enemy again, after his rampage in Manhattan in Av#2 (actually the Space Phantom). Agent Murch says Avengers Priority Status depends on them catching Hulk, so Iron Man convenes a meeting in Av#3 and the search begins, culminating in the battle with Hulk and Sub-Mariner on Gibraltar. The fight between Hulk and Thor is expanded upon in JiM#112.

This issue says that the mansion was built in 1932 by Howard Stark. But this is Tony's grandfather Howard Stark Snr, and Tony's father was Howard Stark Jnr, whose death in a car accident catapulted young Tony into control of Stark Industries. This is another example of distancing the modern Marvel age from the WWII era. (But just to confuse things the current Shield series set in the 1950's has Howard Stark faking the car accident then. And previously Tony's grandfather was claimed to be Isaac Stark.) This issue also has Clint Barton watching the Avengers on the news. It predates his introduction as Hawkeye in ToS#57, and his name Clint Barton is not actually revealed until Av#64. Before this there is a cameo in Iron Man: The Iron Age #1, and lots of flashbacks to his youth in comics too numerous to mention. A short time later in TtA#49 Ant-Man transforms himself into Giant-Man. The interpolated stories, including a flashback in Av#227, have shown him feeling inferior to the other male Avengers, and determined to do something about it. They also usually show another motive as Wasp flirts with the others to make Pym jealous. This fits with the scenario in TtA where Hank repeatedly ignores Jan's infatuation with him. But this EMH issue has the pair in a modern full relationship. Pym brings his Giant-Man identity to the Avengers in Av#1½, where they publicly announce that the group is up and running with their finalised charter. And then they have to fight Dr Doom. And then in Av#2 the Space Phantom exposes the distrust the others have of the Hulk. And he really quits this time.

Jarvis wasn't actually introduced until Tales of Suspense #59 (the Captain America story rather than the Iron Man one). But Stark's butler has been retconned into appearances even earlier than this one. The idea of the Avengers is made public in Iron Man: The Iron Age #2. The heroes aren't very well-known at this point. Iron Man is the most prominent even though his career is the shortest in ToS#39-44. Thor's been around the longest in Journey into Mystery #83-96 but the common Joe doesn't necessarily believe he really exists. Ant-Man probably hasn't been noticed in Tales to Astonish #35-46 (Wasp has only been around from #44). And Hulk is notorious for his rampages in his 6-issue original run, but he was pardoned in #6 for his defeat of the alien Metal-Master. The group hold their 2nd monthly meeting in the backup story in Avengers Classic #1. The males all fight over who should be chairman. Wasp cuts the Gordian knot by taking the job herself. The first section of the current issue presents the final government-approved charter. He introduces the team to Jarvis, although they've already met. (Well, a busy industrialist can't be expected to remember all the little details.) Volatile Hulk storms out, but presumably Rick Jones charms him back again in time for Av#1½.

The first few issues of the Avengers comprise the most expanded-upon period of their career, with this series, the additional stories in Avengers Classic, the Avengers: The Origin limited series, Avengers #1½, and sidelines such as Iron Man: The Iron Age. There are disagreements between the various Indexes and also the Marvel Chronology Project as to what order the appearances of the Avengers and its constituent members should follow. But I think I can sequence the bits that are actually important for the Avengers. Avengers: The Origin is a 5-issue retelling of Av#1, where Loki inadvertantly brings together all the current Marvel heroes except Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. #5 adds a coda wherein it says the team didn't form immediately when Wasp suggested it at the end of Av#1. Instead Iron Man holds a meeting 3 days later in Stark HQ, without Hulk. It is here that they agree to form the group, and name it the Avengers. Tony Stark donates the use of his NY family mansion and promises to fund the group. Iron Man also says that they'll have to get government blessing. The Hulk crashes the party and demands to be a member. The others agree so they can keep an eye on him. In a flashback in Av#280 the Avengers hold a meeting in the mansion to formulate their charter and by-laws. Most of the mansion's staff resign rather than face super-heroes, especially Hulk. Jarvis is left to cater the meeting by himself. Iron Man plans to circulate a (draft?) charter next week. Presumably he underestimates how difficult getting government agreement will be.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

The media is abuzz with reports that five super-powered beings are forming a team to be known as the Avengers. As reporters camp out in front of the Howard Stark Mansion in New York, Clint Barton watches with interest on a barroom TV. As the group, consisting of Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, and the newly pardoned Hulk, assemble at the Mansion, Barton expresses mild skepticism that their plan to fight evil as a team will be successful. At the meeting, Iron Man talks about the need to earn the trust of a suspicious public and introduces Edwin Jarvis, who is the senior member of the mansion staff. He passes out a proposed charter and by-laws. As the heroes read, they are concerned at the revelation that the group is to be monitored by the National Security Council, which Shellhead claims is necessary to be granted the security clearance needed to do their jobs. Ant-Man and Wasp gladly sign, though she seems more taken with the celebrity aspects than the heroic ones. Thor is also convinced to agree by IM’s impassioned speech but the Hulk refuses; he says no one will ever trust them and the whole thing is nonsense. When the others, including his pal Rick Jones, try to persuade him, the Green Giant erupts in a rage and leaps away, leaving a gaping hole in the masonry. The others take their leave, with a despondent Iron Man standing in dust and rubble. Jarvis tries to encourage him by admiring the ideals set forth in the charter, but it doesn’t help much.

Two weeks later, Agent Murch of the NSC tells Iron Man that their plan is a fiasco, and Avengers Priority Status depends on their bringing in the rampaging Hulk. The mission goes very badly and as the damaged heroes head home in their sub, Hank Pym, now Giant-Man, lashes out in anger at Wasp, leading Thor to intervene. Iron Man explains how their security clearance depended on this mission’s success and Thor begins to have second thought about their project. The atmosphere gets very tense as the heroes argue among themselves but they are interrupted by an alarm from the ship. The Avengers look out the portholes and see a man, dressed in red, white, and blue, frozen in ice….


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> Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Book info and issue index

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Scott Kolins
Scott Kolins
Morry Hollowell
Scott Kolins (Cover Penciler)
Scott Kolins (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Ant-Man
Ant-Man

(Hank Pym)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Wasp
Wasp

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Clint Barton, Giant-Man (Scott Lang), Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis).