Avengers: Season One #1: Review

Mar 2013
Peter David, Andrea Di Vito

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Avengers: Season One #1 Review by (May 1, 2013)
Loki's imprisonment on the Isle of Silence is not so much a problem for dating as a continuity problem in itself. He was there in Av#1, free to rove around as here. But the Isle never figured in Thor's own comic. For several issues there before Av#1 he had been chained up somewhere in Asgard. But in between Av#1 and now his only showing was in JiM#97 where he was freely roaming Asgard. The punishment by snake venom has a mythological basis. It also happens for Marvel real in Thor #277, including the mythologically correct bit about Loki's wife Sigyn catching most of the venom in a bowl, but each time she has to empty the bowl Loki is left to get hit by some venom. The punishment must only have been short term here, because Loki's back free in JiM#101. Continuing the mythological vein, I think the Sun being chased by an invisible wolf is correct too.

Hulk has travelled from New York to Nevada here. In Av#5 he will be in South-West US, so we're in the right area. Both Enchantress and Ulik aren't actually seen by the heroes as themselves. So there's no problem with Enchantress being recognised before she debuts in JiM#103. And even more so for Ulik who won't put in an appearance until Thor #137. Iron Man's armour is no real help in dating this story, because the version shown doesn't *exactly* correspond with any of the armours at that time. My choice of placement would have it definitely after Black Widow's debut in ToS#52, and definitely before the Mandarin tale starting in ToS#54. It could be either side of ToS#53. Either way IM's faceplate should have points above the eyes. From ToS#54 it would swap them for rivets.

Where does this story fit within the Avengers run? Obviously it's after Captain America's revival in Av#4, and before the split-up in Av#16. This means that some other things mentioned in this issue are no help because they refer to before Av#4 anyway:- Zarrko's 1st appearance in Journey into Mystery #86 fits this description, as does Iron Man being known as Stark's bodyguard, announced in IM: The Iron Age #2. Although the Stone Men from Saturn and Mr Hyde aren't real here, IM is allowed to recognise them from JiM#83 and JiM#99-100 respectively. There are a couple of things that can be used to narrow the range down, although that may *not* have been the intent of the writer:- The fact that Zarrko has suffered only *one* previous defeat by Thor places this before JiM#101. Jan talks about she and Hank going on vacation at the end of Tales to Astonish #54. Giant-Man and Wasp being on a cruise could be after that. The detailed timeline presented in the original Official Avengers Index has JiM#101 occurring soon after Av#6, and TtA#54 between the initial bit of Av#5 (following on from the Avengers/Fantastic Four/Hulk clash in New York in FF#25-26) and the bulk of that issue (leading directly into the whole of Av#6). So this story is on one side or other of the Av#5&6 pair. But JiM#101 occurs soon after Av#6. And there is a particularly large time gap between the parts of Av#5, with TtA#54 occurring near the beginning of it. So this book likely between TtA#54 and the bulk of Av#5.

Cap says the Mayor reminds him of someone, without saying who. At this stage he would be remembering Peggy Carter (or maybe Betty Ross) from WWII. He hasn't met Sharon Carter yet (Tales of Suspense #75). Also, as Cap's dialogue indicates, he hasn't met the real revived Red Skull yet, because that revival won't happen until ToS#79. As this story reminds us, in those days the Hulk was fairly intelligent with a good vocabulary and sentence structure, as compared with the 'Hulk smash' of much of his later longest-running series. But the versions dragged out of time by Zarrko are still a bit stupid compared to the current one that fights the Big 3. This Hulk reminds the Big 3 of Avengers #1. But actually this situation seems more like what the Space Phantom did in Avengers #2 to set the team against each other. But that idea wouldn't suit the plot. Despite their vow of trust, Thor still won't let Cap and Iron Man touch Mjolnir. But in Thor #390 Cap is one of the few (worthy enough) to wield the hammer, which coincidentally in that issue renews Thor's trust in Cap.

Earlier Season One volumes retold (bringing it up-to-date) an origin and possibly some early stories of a Marvel character or team. Sometimes adding extra details or a new plot to run behind the stories, sometimes tying together already established additions. This book takes a different tack, adding a totally new story into the early continuity of the Avengers. Maybe Marvel felt it couldn't justify another origin recap after doing the Avengers: The Origin only 3 years ago. And Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Captain America: Man Out Of Time covered the other early issues. The book is split between 4 different art teams, mostly a single person doing both pencils and inks. Andrea Di Vito does the initial Loki stuff and the initial separate adventures of the Big 3. Jon Buran does the start of the joint mission and Cap's solo part. Nigel Raynor takes over for Iron Man's solo. Mike Bowden pencils and Walden Wong inks Thor's solo mission and Loki's explanation. Then Andrea Di Vito comes back for the joint fight with the Hulk and what follows. The book also includes an original plot outline by Peter David, and part of Avengers Assemble #1 (at this time probably to advertise the Avengers Assemble HC, because the original comic issue is long gone).



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers: Season One #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Loki is on the Isle of Silence beating himself up about the events of Avengers #1. Not only did his scheme fail, but he accidentally caused the formation of the Avengers, who went on to revive Captain America. This is not good for a God of Evil! But now he conceives a new plan.

On Earth Tony Stark is running simulations to see what modifications to his armour would allow him to stand up to the Hulk. But nothing seems to work. Seeing a TV news item on Thor reminds him that as a scientist he doesn't really believe Thor is a god. But this leads him to wonder what Thor really is. Inviting Hulk on the team turned out to be a big mistake. Could Thor be an even bigger one?

The TV news showed Thor tackling a tornado. Thor muses that humans refer to a twister as an Act of God. But then humans have often believed things that were wrong, such as that the Sun is pulled by Apollo's chariot (when everyone knows the Sun is actually being chased by an invisible wolf). Anyway, Thor stops the tornado and creates rain to end a drought.

An old man asks Thor if he used his god-powers to bring Captain America back, because it seemed like a miracle. But that brings to Thor's attention just how big a coincidence it was that the Avengers submarine ran across Cap's floating body, and just in time to find him thawed but not yet drowned. He also considers that Steve Rogers doesn't seem like the WWII super-soldier he's heard about. He spends all his free time mourning for his dead ally Bucky. Surely the more appropriate response for a warrior is to drink a toast to a comrade fallen in glorious battle, who is now doubtless in Valhalla. Could Cap be an imposter foisted on the Avengers for a sinister purpose?

Meanwhile Captain America tries to talk 2 youth gangs out of fighting. But all they do is team up against him. Not that it does them any good. His man-out-of-time angst is fed because they've never heard of him (or Hitler).

Next we see the Big 3 on an Avengers mission (Giant-Man and Wasp are on a cruise). Gen'l Thunderbolt Ross has been ordered, against his better judgement, to give the Avengers another chance to bring in the Hulk. He's been seen in several places in Nevada, but now he seems to have disappeared.

Iron Man thinks he may be hiding underground. Cap suggests he may have a human identity. Shellhead scoffs at this, but Thor (understandably) gives it more credence. They split up to search (Cap on his motorbike).

Captain America finds himself in a small town Somerville where he is stung by a mosquito and crashes his bike. He is greeted by the lady Mayor, and they a parade is thrown in his honour. She shows him around the town, and asks if he'd consider settling down there. He gradually seems to forget about his mission, until a random word association brings it back to him. Realising that something has been done to him he tries to get the Mayor to tell him what's really happening, until Sheriffs arrest him.

We then see that the woman is actually a doctor, and Cap is lying in a lab, because the 'mosquito' was a drugged dart. What's more she's working for the Red Skull. And he's working for a mystery billionaire.

But Cap is awake and has been listening. Now he breaks free of his restraints. He doesn't know if the Skull is an imposter, or whether he's survived since the War just like himself. But whatever the truth Steve Rogers will oppose him.

But just for now Steve ducks into an adjoining room to avoid Red Skull's machine gun. And finds a couple of Darth Vader lookalikes examining his shield. He retrieves the shield, and the Vaders go up in an explosion that reveals them to be robots.

Returning to the other room he finds the Skull gone, and the woman dying from random bullet hits. She tells him that the billionaire backer is Tony Stark. And that he'd better get out before the Skull blows up his base behind him. The town does go up in flames, but Cap bursts free of the rubble.

Heading back on his bike, Steve ponders the possibilities. Stark is a big weapons supplier for the military, so maybe he was behind the orders that sent the Avengers here. And Stark's bodyguard Iron Man landed them right near this town. Cap's going to demand some answers from his comrade.

Meanwhile Iron Man has gone to Reno, where he finds Mr Hyde on a rampage instead of Hulk. The Golden Avenger pounds the villain until he turns into his human identity Calvin Zabo. Zabo claims that Hyde was hired to finish IM off after Hulk lured him here. It was all done to protect Thor from Iron Man. And then the hirers turn up - the Stone Men from Saturn.

The battle with the Stone Men (and a large robot) takes place in a casino that Tony Stark happens to own. But eventually the enemy retreat into a spaceship and fly away. Tony taps into something like the Internet and finds that the Stone Men were seen when Thor 1st appeared. No-one knows exactly what happened then, but it had been assumed Thor fought off an invasion. But Stark now wonders if the Stone Men dropped Thor off? He too heads back to the Avengers quinjet for answers.

The 3rd of our trio Thor has been attacked by a missile. Landing in a deserted town he is faced with an old enemy Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, who sicks the original grey Hulk on him. Followed by a green Hulk. But after a while the 2 Hulks wind up fighting each other, after trading insults. And then Thor convinces them that powerful guys like them shouldn't be working for someone like Zarrko, so they turn on their master. Who sends them back to the times he got them from.

Meanwhile Thor has entered Zarrko's time craft. He sees lots of monitors showing various Hulks. But also one shows Captain America. Zarrko then flees back into time, leaving Thor behind. But Thor now thinks Zarrko may be behind 'Captain America'. And he too heads back to the quinjet.

Of course all this is the doing of Loki. What Captain America and Iron Man experienced was mainly illusion, with Enchantress playing the Mayor/doctor (and the Red Skull illusory), and Iron Man's foes were actually Ulik and other Trolls. He didn't risk such direct magic with Thor. Instead he prompted Zarrko to return from the future with the use of real Hulks, and only directly intervened to place a false image of Cap on the monitor screen. I don't think he placed the initial suspicions in the minds of Iron Man and Thor, but he did cloud their thoughts so they didn't question what they saw as much as they would normally.

Back at the quinjet the 3 Avengers are shouting at each other, with no-one listening to what the others are saying. No-one but the Hulk who chooses this moment to make an appearance and berate them for distrusting each other like they used to distrust him. They attack him individually, to no avail except that he scorns their lack of teamwork. This does prompt Iron Man and Thor to try a joint attack. Until Cap urges them all to try talking instead of fighting.

But this just gives the Avengers the chance to actually come out with their respective accusations. To be met with respective confused denials. It is Hulk who spots the pattern, and reminds them how Loki used disinformation in Avengers #1. Loki sees Cap and IM hesitate, and sees another plan coming to ruin. So he takes a direct hand and causes the Golden Avengers' gauntlets to fire repulsor blasts at Hulk. Thor follows up with a hammer blow that sends Hulk hurtling through the air.

Unfortunately he smashes into a dam (probably the Hoover Dam). Iron Man knows he didn't fire his repulsors himself. And he manages to calm Thor down. And they realise that they have been tricked by Loki. But they have a more immediate problem as the dam starts to give way, and there's a town in the direct path.

First Hulk partially blocks the gap in the dam with boulders. Then he leaps into town to warn the townsfolk. But even though they've seen the dam break, they're more worried that he's here.

Meanwhile the Avengers split up. Cap takes the quinjet to town to tell the people the situation's under control, as Hulk slips away as Bruce Banner. Thor whirls his hammer to hold the floodwaters back. And Iron Man appropriates some large chunks of metal from a building site, and fuses them into a plug for the hole in the dam.

When the crisis is over Thor tells his comrades that Odin has confirmed that Loki was the architect of their problem, and he will be dealt with. Cap points out that Loki couldn't have driven wedges between then if they hadn't already distrusted each other. They pledge to never let it happen again. (The other 2 put their hands on Thor's hammer to make the pledge. Until he gruffly tells them that no-one touches Mjolnir.)

Odin had appeared on the Isle of Silence and interrupted Loki as the heroes mended the dam. He told Loki that he had only been exiled to the Isle because Thor interceded and saved him from worse punishment. Now Loki gets that worse punishment - he is chained beneath a giant snake which constantly drips acid venom on his face!


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> Avengers: Season One: Book info and issue index

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Andrea Di Vito
Andrea Di Vito
Wil Quintana
Julian Totino Tedesco (Cover Penciler)
Julian Totino Tedesco (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles.
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Loki
Loki

(Loki Laufeyson)
Thor
Thor

(Odinson)
Thunderbolt Ross
Thunderbolt Ross

(Thaddeus Ross)

Plus: Apollo, Ulik, Zarrko (Tomorrow Man).