Sunday, September 1, 2013
Some Assembly Required!
I Am An Avenger is an interesting collection which focuses on stories which saw the team assembled and then reassembled over the decades. Part of the Avengers mystique has been the relatively regular reshuffling of members. There were nigh countless variations possible within the ranks, and some teams really caught the imagination.
Doubtless the first issue is significant as it brings together the then-current Marvel stars into a group for the very first time. Even the anti-social Hulk tags along beside Thor, Iron Man, and the Ant-Man/Wasp team. It's a memorable beginning for a superteam which has lasted a very long time now.
Arguably the most significant issue in Avengers history, the sixteenth established the notion that the team could be shaken up, and shaken up dramatically. The shift from the super-potent originals to the seriously small-powered "Kooky Quartet" marks that which makes the Avengers an important comic, the idea of constant change.
When the Beast joined up a decade later, he was a nice dash of spice to a team which had become quite familiar. His brash personality replicated that of Hawkeye, but seemed warmer and more congenial. His eventual pairing with Wonder Man became the best Bronze Age buddy team in comics, elevating both characters.
After many deadline-missing delays, a "new line-up" finally gets announced as Steve Englehart leaves the team he'd built a reputation on. He soon enough was writing the Justice League for the "Distinguished Competition". Gerry Conway would carry on with the Assemblers.
The shake-up after the "Korvac War" might be among the most notorious as Peter Gyrich brings to bear the government's point of view and builds a team which complies with norms of the time. This is perhaps the first politically-correct line-up ever. It was doomed from the start.
This shake-up was intriguing as it anticipates the memorable trial of Yellowjacket, which transformed that longtime member, and changed the stalwarts of the team in many memorable ways.
Another great addition to the team was She-Hulk, though alas she soon moved on to become a staple of the Fantastic Four. Having a distaff version of a founding member back in the fold was quite nice while it lasted.
To celebrate the three hundredth issue Walt Simonson did a bang-up job of bringing in some unusual heroes. Half Fab 4, the team has an altered Cap and a steady Thunder God. This time though the newbie is a real change up, a relatively minor hero from Jack Kirby's 70's Eternals epic called "The Forgotten One". Sadly his name proved all too prophetic. I liked him though.
The final issue in the collection offers up the late 80's introduction of the hero "Rage", a hero who had some real possibilities and I thought worked well in the team until it was revealed he was a minor. Yikes!
This Avengers collection though put me in mind of DC's 2006 offering which also focused on membership changes. The JLofA though were always adding, rarely shaking up the total membership quite like the Assemblers. It was left to Marvel's mainstream supergroup to constantly challenge the status quo and time after time beat the odds with some really impressive and fascinating choices.