Writer: David Michelinie
Pencils: George Pérez
Inks: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Ben Sean
Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: 40 cents
My local comic shop holds the occasional back-issue sale, and lately, it’s been bumping up the discount week by week. I reaped a Bronze Age bonanza at 70 per cent off, and this 1980 Avengers comic was among the treasures I snapped up. This is the first chapter in the storyline that introduced Taskmaster to the Marvel Universe, but he’s not seen here. As the title suggests, not much happens in this issue, but it’s a great spotlight of what sets the Avengers apart from other super-hero teams in the Marvel Universe and how important the interpersonal character dynamics were to the appeal of the property then and even today. It’s a well-balanced issue from a characterization perspective. But hey, it features vintage George Pérez art as his career was just beginning to ramp up — that’s all the reason I need to shell out less than a buck for a fun back issue.
In the wake of the readmission of one member of the team as another one departs, the Avengers enjoy some well-deserved down time, and many spend it in reflection. When a seemingly deranged and desperate man arrives on their doorstep, only the Wasp seems receptive to his pleas for help.
This is right around the time Pérez really hit his stride as a penciller, and it’s what earned him his reputation as the king of the super-hero team books. His linework is much more polished here than it was in his Fantastic Four work, and this issue features several examples of his trademark depictions of rubble and tech. What’s unfortunate about this early work, from almost four decades ago, was that printing processes clearly couldn’t accommodate Pérez’s level of detail (embellished nicely by inker Joe Rubinstein). The black lines are thicker than what they should be here, and there’s some bleeding, apparent not only in the artwork but the lettering as well.
Michelinie brings humor and introspection to this character-driven issue. The Vision’s scene brings explosive, if benign, action to the visuals. His sense of isolation and self-delusion about his lack of humanity is far from subtle, but it’s effective, and I love that it’s another artificial lifeform — Jocasta — who sees her teammate’s turmoil and realizes what he’s going through is all too human.
Perhaps the most striking exchange in the book is Captain America’s brief discussion with Ms. Marvel (now known as Captain Marvel). Michelinie examines what it is that defines the Avengers, how they’re different from other teams such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. It’s a succinct recap of what makes the Avengers tick, and Michelinie dresses it up with a playful tone, as Cap foils the mischief of a couple of kids who watch the heroes from beyond a fence. 7/10