It seems appropriate, though a fluke, to be talking about this issue of MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION on this weekend, when the AVENGERS: ENDGAME film is shattering box office records worldwide. Having edited AVENGERS for far longer than anyone else, it’s all pretty relevant to me–back in the day, when Stan Lee would facetiously talk about Marvel conquering the world, turns out he wasn’t kidding! In any event, having sampled AVENGERS #1 in the pages of SON OF ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS, my first Avengers purchase wasn’t a new issue at all, but this reprint. At the time, Marvel was fielding an entire line of reprint titles of most of the major series–a cheap way to bring in some revenue and occupy more shelf space. This also gave the impression that these older stories were still relevant, that the Marvel Universe was indeed one massive storytelling playground in which the events of one title could impact on another.
And this story is a good example of that, as it features as its primary villain Magneto, the master of magnetism more commonly associated with the X-Men. I actually knew who magneto was, having read X-MEN #1 in that same edition of SON OF ORIGINS, so I felt like I had a leg up going into this story. And it also reinforced that idea that everything was interconnected. Over at DC, you’d occasionally see a villain from one series fighting a different hero, but it was relatively rare. This was also the pre-concentration camp survivor Magneto–that bit of backstory hadn’t been introduced yet. So in these days, he was about as direct an out-and-out villain as it’s possible to be, just a rotten guy with a superiority complex and a toady literally named the Toad. And when we open up, he and his minion are stranded on a far-off planetoid.
Fortunately for Magento, scientist Dane Whitman and his assistant Norris are trying to communicate magnetically with the stars, and so have come into contact with Magneto. Whitman is the nephew of the villainous Black Knight, who perished in battle with Iron Man–we get a few panels of this, another way these early Marvel books reinforced their own importance, And then we segue over to Avengers mansion, where Captain America angrily announces that he’s quitting the team. It’s a bit of a weird moment, with Cap pretending he’s angry for no really good reason. It’s worth noting that, of the five Avengers I encountered in SON OF ORIGINS, the only one that’s still around here is the Wasp. (Hank Pym is here as Goliath, but I don’t know that I realized at first that he was the same person.) So I was having to paddle furiously to keep up with who everybody was.
This is aided somewhat by vignettes as the various Avengers go their separate ways. In a scene that would be puzzling to moviegoers, Hawkeye snaps at Natasha, the Black Widow, who’s written like a typical fawning Marvel female of the 1960s. Not much better is the Wasp, who tries to cheer up Goliath as the two of them head out to her private plane. And Hercules returns to Mount Olympus, where grim tidings are aborning. But back at Castle Whitman, Norris has had enough of Dane’s orders and clobbers him right before Magneto and the Toad are able to ride their transmission back to Earth. As Magneto bullies him, Norris realizes his mistake and tries to reverse it, but Magneto zaps him magnetically as well. The Toad then locks the two of them in a convenient cell in the castle.
Now that they’re back on Earth, Magneto wastes no time in his plans to reform his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and get back to the business of conquering humanity. he and the Toad reminisce, giving us an extended flashback to how Magneto once rescued an imperiled young Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and recruited them to his cause. (This was all before the latter day revelation that they were his children the whole time–small world!) Now he wants them back in the fold, despite the fact that they’ve gone on to reform and join the Avengers. And so Magneto sends them a coded message summoning them to the castle.
In a bit of Roy Thomas ridiculousness, having summoned Wanda and Pietro to recruit them once again, Magneto first unleashes an awesome robot against them so as to test their powers (and presumably provide some much-needed action to the story.) The two Avengers engage it in battle, and the Scarlet Witch is able to discombobulate the robot by causing a chandelier to fall down on top of it. And then, Magneto makes his entrance, emerging from the shadows.
But Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch aren’t interested in going back tot eh days when they were Magneto’s bootlickers, and so a disappointed Magneto sics a whole bunch of other robots on them, which they have to fight their way through. They do so, but then Magneto himself takes them both down with ridiculous ease. None of this will quite lead to them serving Magneto again, but I’m sure the Master of Magnetism has something up his sleeve. In any event, the issue ends on a delightful full-page splash where the Toad literally dances with joy over their triumph, and the story is To Be Continued. If I’m honest, I wasn’t really all that wowed by this issue–it was an inauspicious start to my association with the Avengers. But better things would come, eventually.
Man, look at how happy those two bombastic bad guys are! Art on this issue was provided by Marvel powerhouse John Buscema, and inked by veteran George Tuska. Tuska was a veteran artist in his own right, but I think his ink line was too heavy for Buscema–it made Big John’s forms become blobby and imprecise. It’s not the worst inking job I’ve ever seen over Buscema, but neither is it especially good.