In just a few days, the world at large will tremble at the unleashed might of The Avengers. This Friday, May 4th, 2012 we will all see the unconquerable Joss Whedon bring this long time geek dream to life.
But first a caveat, I was born and raised to live and breathe DC Comics. Superman, Legion, Titans, and Justice League of America were my go to fix for four colour glories when I was a wee one. Of my multiple comic boxes nestled downstairs, only one is filled with Marvel Comics. Most of which consists of Peter David’s Hulk run, Mark Gruenwald‘s Captain America and Quasar, along with assorted bits and pieces of X-Men and Avengers. Except for the occasional trade from the library, my readings of Marvel stories have been spotty for years.
So with my DC fanboy lust still filling my veins, I have no problem throwing myself wholeheartedly at The Avengers movie. Years of planning and world building have gone into this enterprise, allowing fans to finally see our cherished long time dreams come true. Even after the misfires of both Hulk films, Marvel rallied back and firmly took control of their own destiny. The one project they thought would be the hardest to translate was Captain America, but the Simon and Kirby creation quickly became my absolute favourite.
For those who came in late, The Avengers movie is about the formation of all these various and disparate heroes into a fighting force of justice to be reckoned with. Technical marvel Iron Man. Patriotic do gooder Captain America. Viking god Thor. Rampaging monstrosity the Hulk. We all know them from their individual endeavours. Joining them after small ventures in other Marvel movies is Hawkeye, the energetic archer, and Black Widow, a lethal enforcer. The common thread bringing all to the fore is superspy mastermind Nick Fury.
The basic concept from the comic is the same. They are heroes saving the world, this time from the evil trickster god Loki. He was also the impetus behind the first Avengers story way back in 1963. That original tale does not fare well when read with modern sensibilities, but is still worth a look for the historical value alone.
The comics themselves are a treasure trove of stories and characters throughout the decades. Early on in the Avengers series, everyone quits but Captain America, causing him to rebuild the team with assorted misfits and reformed criminals. Those early sixties stories can be very disjointed, leaving the impression writer Stan Lee had no long term plans with the title. Reading the Essentials volume filled with these comics is still worth it in my mind. Despite my advanced age, I was not around for these ones. I came in some time later.
My experience with the Avengers starts with the still classic Korvac Saga. It is long, it is filled with what feels like hundreds of characters, and it is beautiful. This sprawling epic could well become the next Avengers movie, if the studio overlords do what is right and natural. I stuck with the comic right up to the wonderful issue 200, a non-sensical story made a classic by the amazing art of the now legendary George Perez. After that, it floundered without direction again until writer Roger Stern took over for several years. His adventure featuring the siege of Avengers mansion was the apex of this run. Most issues after that, especially the ones in the 1990’s, were miserable unreadable failures. Marvel then plucked writer Brian Michael Bendis to reboot and rethink the franchise. Avengers Disassembled was his brainchild and started off extremely well, with character interactions being a forte of the stories. Unfortunately after awhile everything felt like the staleness was setting in again. This aspect has been a recurring problem for time immemorial with the Avengers. But like any good heroes, they shall rise up again.
With the release this friday of The Avengers, expect to see a resurgence by Marvel in this title. Maybe if they are lucky Joss Whedon can write the comic for awhile. I am late to the altar of Whedon, but after immersing myself into Dr. Horrible with full glee and love, my admiration of his talents is massive. At the very least Marvel should survey everything that Joss adds to the mix and legends, find the sparkling gems that cause the geeks pulse to pound, and integrate them seamlessly into the mythology. Movies have fed the comics before.
Thankfully Marvel has also pulled millions of ideas and concepts from the pages of their almost 50 years of Avengers comics into this movie. It is extremely evident from the trailers and clips released, all filled with respect for the source material. It is what every fan has always asked for, wished for, and yearned for.
Captain America. Iron Man. Thor. Hulk. Black Widow. Hawkeye. Nick Fury. They are The Avengers. And I can’t wait for them to Assemble.
P.S. The Avengers and all related characters are copyright 2012 to Marvel Comics.
P.P.S. To get your fix of Avengers and other Marvel Comics, check out my local shop, Excalibur Comics. Click here for my post about them.