Tuesday, March 1, 2016



Views and Reviews of Comic Books from the Past



Written by: Stan Lee
Drawn by: Jack Kirby
Inks by: Dick Ayers, Paul Reinman, George Roussos and Chic Stone

The mighty Avengers. Marvel Comics' greatest group of superheroes that banded together to protect mankind from the forces of evil. It sounds perfect and everything comic fans would want from reading comic-books back in 1963. But this new super-group that lived in this relatively young comic universe was unlike any that previously came before it. The characters were far more complex - full of personality and extremely volatile. So volatile in fact that one member quit the team at the end of the second issue - the second issue! Didn't heroes always get along? If that wasn't radical enough, this volatile member would come back to fight his former teammates again and again and cause a wave of destruction across the landscape (and throughout other comic titles) so devastating that the Avengers had to go looking for him and stop him - at all costs. Sound interesting? Well it was. And we can thank the masters Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for such a revolutionary concept in the world of superhero comic-books.

But despite this genius approach to storytelling: Did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have this all planned out at the very beginning? That is the question that must be asked when talking about Marvel's very first and greatest multi-title crossover. Did they have the Hulk in the Avengers with the intention of having him quit to provide a recurring, unifying theme to the book? And did they have it in mind to bring Captain America in the story? If so, the comics involved seem too close to allow any other interpretation. Whatever the reasons might be, after Avengers #1 hit the newsstands in September of 1963 it brought forth Marvel's first long-ranged, in-house, crossover event that would become a staple for comics in later years and lay down the foundation of the entire Marvel Universe.

Looking closely at each classic issue and how the story flows, everything that made the Marvel characters distinguish themselves from the DC characters is prevalent. How they interacted and behaved with each other was light years ahead of anything any comic publisher ever thought of doing at the time. The Marvel characters had many layers to them. They were flawed, temperamental and all part of the same inherent universe. Regardless if this crossover was done by accident or not, Lee and Kirby took heroic storytelling to an entirely different level that set a precedence for all things to come and turned themselves into the greatest creative duo the medium had ever produced.

So after all this rambling, why is the origin of the Avengers the greatest crossover in Marvel history? Well, besides having Lee and Kirby at the helm at their creative peak, it had a great cast of characters involved. While just about every hero on Marvel earth at the time made an appearance, the stars of the story are as follows:

The Heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man/Ant-Man, Wasp, Thing, Invisible Girl, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch

The Outcasts: The Hulk and the Sub-Mariner

The Villains: Loki, the Space Phantom, D'Bari Alien and the Lava Men

The Sidekicks: Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade

Second, some of Marvel's most iconic moments are included; the origin and formation of the Avengers team, the Hulk quickly quits said team, the first time the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner meet up and form a hostile partnership that wages war against humanity, the remarkable return of Marvel's greatest hero - Captain America and the first meeting and team-up between the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

Lastly, the "scope" of the story itself was just massive - especially for the time. The Hulk rampages through eight total issues and three different titles; The Avengers, The Fantastic Four and Journey into Mystery. The events that unfolded during the brute's path of destruction are unprecedented and still vibrate through the Marvel Universe to this day. This had a lot to do with the legendary storytelling ability and unparalleled dynamism of Jack Kirby. Simply put, nobody could draw it better - nobody! Kirby's bold pencils perfectly depicted the Hulk's raw power against his opposition that set the standard in epic superhero confrontations. While there have been big superhero encounters before, never did they capture the imagination of readers like "Hulk vs Thing" in Fantastic Four #25 and "Hulk vs Thor" in Journey into Mystery #112. These slugfests have become so legendary that both are still talked about today.

The coming of the Avengers is an immortal tale within the history of comics that has paved the way for all the other big multi-issue crossovers that have come after it. It remains an historic event that helped lay down the foundation of the entire Marvel Universe and defined its cast of characters forever. Today, you can clearly see its influence on all the comics and blockbuster movies that rule pop culture. Whether this was a long ranged plan by Stan Lee or not, it still made magic on a level few stories or events ever did. And nobody can argue the fact that after this story finished, readers were forever chanting "Make Mine Marvel!!!" The rest is history...

THE AVENGERS #1 (1963)

"The Coming of the Avengers!"

Loki, having been previously captured by Thor, is being held prisoner at the Isle of Silence in Asgard. His physical form may be confined there, but by means of thought projection his disembodied self travels to Earth in search of revenge. He spots Thor in his human identity of Dr. Don Blake, but resists defeating him as it would be a hollow victory compared to defeating him as Thor. After hours of searching, Loki comes across the Hulk and devises a wicked plan to entice Blake to transform into Thor. He projects a mental image of dynamite on the tracks of a nearby railway bridge. The Hulk spots the dynamite and attempts to snuff it out, accidentally destroying the bridge. Suddenly, a train appears on the tracks traveling towards the wreckage. Valiantly, the Hulk manages to hold the tracks up long enough for the train to pass safely before allowing it to collapse. Unfortunately the damage has already been done and Loki's plan was successful. 

Hours later, newspapers print articles about the Hulk being on the rampage again and a manhunt begins. The Hulk's friend, Rick Jones, reads the article with disbelief and meets with members of the Teen Brigade in order to find help to track Hulk down to find the truth. They attempt to contact the Fantastic Four but Loki interferes with the radio signal, diverting it to Don Blake. He decides to transform into Thor to help the Teen Brigade. Unknown to Loki, the radio signal is also picked up by Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man, who also travel to assist. 

Later, the Teen Brigade are disappointed that the Fantastic Four hadn't responded to their message when they finally get a reply. They inform the Teen Brigade that they are too busy with another case but have a hunch that other heroes may have received their distress call. Suddenly Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp arrive. Loki realizes that the other heroes will only interfere with his plans and lures Thor away by creating a mental image of the Hulk. Upon catching up with this illusion of the Hulk, Thor attacks and realizes it isn't real, and immediately suspects Loki. He then returns to Asgard to face his brother. 

Meanwhile, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp track down the Hulk with the help of Ant-Man's ants. He is working at a circus pretending to be a robot called Mechano. They attempt to capture him but the Hulk escapes the circus by leaping away. Iron Man gives chase but the Hulk smashes his battery pack in his chest and escapes, while Iron Man repairs it.

Back in Asgard, Thor asks permission from Odin to meet Loki on the Isle of Silence to question him. Odin accepts but warns that he cannot interfere between the two brother's quarrel. As Thor sets out across the Sea of Mist he is attacked by Loki's traps. First, he narrowly escapes tangle roots that threaten to drag him down into the depths. Next, a volcano erupts releasing volcanic gas globules capable of sapping the strength of any god. Thor manages to evade these by diving into the sea. On the island, Loki spots Thor's empty boat and wonders with disbelief if Thor has already been defeated. Suddenly, a giant water spout appears in front of him as Thor emerges from the sea to face him. He throws his hammer at Loki, only to have it deflected by a hastily-made ice shield. Loki calls upon a Rock Troll, which begins to drag Thor beneath the ground. At the last moment, Thor uses his hammer to summon lightning which dazzles the troll, causing it to relinquish his hold. Thor angrily swings his hammer at Loki, who has created multiple mental images of himself to confuse him. Thor counters this by spinning his hammer fast enough to blow all the figures away, revealing the true Loki. Soaking up the magnetic flow from the earth with his hammer, he captures Loki via magnetic attraction and takes him back to Earth to clear the Hulk's name.

On Earth, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp continue to pursue the Hulk to an auto factory in Detroit. After battling back and forth Thor appears with Loki to clear Hulk's name. Suddenly Loki makes himself radioactive forcing the heroes to retreat. Luckily, Loki stands over a trapdoor and Ant-Man's ants trigger a switch, dropping him into a lead-lined tank. Upon celebrating their victory, Ant-Man and the Wasp point out how well they could work as a team, and that they should work together in future. The Wasp decides they should call themselves the Avengers, and everybody agrees.

And thus is born one of the greatest super hero teams of all time! Powerful! Unpredictable! Brought together by a strange quirk of fate, the Avengers are on the march, and a new dimension of is added to the Marvel Galaxy Of Stars!

THE AVENGERS #2 (1963)

"The Avengers Battle... the Space Phantom"

Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk are awaiting Ant-Man and the Wasp in Tony Stark's library so they can begin their meeting. There is already tension among the ranks of this new super-team as Thor and Hulk bicker. Before anything can come of it, Ant-Man and the Wasp make a sudden entrance, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. Ant-Man, (now using the name Giant-Man) explains by showing the team his new size-changing capsules.

Elsewhere, the Space Phantom arrives on Earth, under the guise of a fragment of meteorite. He plans to destroy the Avengers so that his race can invade the planet. He takes the appearance of a passerby, sending him to Limbo. 

Later, the Space Phantom (under the guise of the passerby) approaches the Avengers Mansion. He is spotted by the team and the Hulk goes to investigate. The man takes the Hulk off-guard and assumes his form, sending him to Limbo in place of the man. The Phantom (this time under the guise of the Hulk) returns to the team and taunts Iron Man and Thor, causing a small ruckus and heightening the tensions in the team before leaving. Outside, he spots the man he replaced earlier trying to warn everybody and decides to cause more havoc as the Hulk. The Space Phantom/Hulk is approached by his friend Rick Jones, who convinces him to escape before the police arrive. Rick realizes something is wrong with the way the Hulk is acting and the Phantom reveals himself. The Space Phantom/Hulk arrives at one of Tony Stark's operations plants and destroys a new experimental anti-missile defense weapon. Iron Man is told the news and faces off against the Hulk. Iron Man proves to be too much for him however and the Phantom flees by taking the form of a passing wasp, leaving a confused and dazed Hulk to appear. However, Iron Man and the Hulk continue to battle.

Meanwhile, Rick Jones communicates with Giant-Man and explains the situation to him and the Wasp. They catch up with Iron Man and Hulk and break up the fight. The Space Phantom, still in the form of a wasp, attacks the Wasp and flees to a nearby factory. After aiding the Wasp, Giant-Man is taken by surprise by the Space Phantom and sent to Limbo. This time the Wasp and the Hulk saw it happen and know this "Giant-Man" is fake. They battle and Iron Man eventually catches up only to be replaced and sent to Limbo. But the Hulk catches the Space Phantom in the act yet again and the newly-returned Giant-Man teams up with the Hulk to fight the fake "Iron Man."

Across town, it is revealed that the Wasp left to search for Thor. She finds him with the help of Dr. Donald Blake and the duo race back to the factory to assist the rest of the team. The Wasp shrinks down and damages the mechanism of the Iron Man suit and Thor creates a thunderstorm, causing the armor to rust. In a final desperate attempt to succeed, the Space Phantom decides to take Thor's form. Unfortunately for the Phantom his power only works on mortal beings and it backfires, sending him to Limbo instead. After the battle, the Hulk expresses his sadness at his recent treatment in the team and decides to quit.

THE AVENGERS #3 (1964)

"The Avengers meet the Sub-Mariner"

At their next meeting, the Avengers decide they need to find the Hulk before he causes more trouble. Iron Man uses his image projector device to communicate with the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men to ask if they have spotted him, but he has no luck. Thor comes up with the idea of asking Rick Jones to help find the Hulk. They contact him and Rick sets out into the desert to an area where he could be.

A short while later, Rick discovers the Hulk and coerces him to a cave they had used in the past as a refuge. There, Rick operates a machine that transforms the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. While asleep, stressful thoughts cause Banner to revert to his Hulk-state and escape. Rick Jones contacts the Avengers, alerting them to the situation and they travel to the desert to stop him. After a brief battle, the Hulk escapes onto a passing train. After laying low, he reaches the sea and is eventually taken onto a ship on the brink of exhaustion. 

Under the sea, Namor, the Sub-Mariner watches the scene. After the Hulk leaves the ship the Sub-Mariner meets him on a small island. After a short fight where the Hulk dominates on land and Namor in the sea, Namor suggests they team up and fight the humans together, as they each bear a grudge against humanity. They form an uneasy alliance and issue a challenge to the Avengers to battle at the Rock of Gibraltar!

The Hulk and Namor use old World War II weaponry to attack the Avengers, but Iron Man deflects the shells with his repulsor rays. Namor disables Iron Man by firing an emery dust pellet at him, clogging up the joints in his armor. Thor holds the savage duo at bay with Mjolnir while the Wasp finds a tank of oxygen, which is used to blow the dust away and bring Iron Man back into the fight. The Avengers chase their enemies through the tunnels. Namor plans to use an old air raid siren he has converted into a weapon, but is caught by Giant-Man and thrown at Iron Man. Namor will then smash Iron Man's battery pack and attack Thor. The Hulk joins the Sub-Mariner in his struggles with the Thunder God as he attempts to lift Thor's hammer but is unable to do so. At that moment, the stress causes the Hulk to change back into Bruce Banner when Namor needs his help the most, and is forced to flee. Namor, without help from the Hulk, is quickly outmatched and narrowly escapes into the ocean.



"The Mighty Thor Battles the Incredible Hulk!"

This issue is actually a retroactive chapter in this crossover event, appearing nearly a year after the conclusion to the story. This slugfest is widely considered an absolute masterpiece and easily one of the greatest in the history of the medium.

While flying through the city, Thor happens upon two groups of teenagers arguing over the who is the stronger between Thor and the Hulk. Interested in the debate, Thor lands to see what all the commotion is about, and they ask him if he knows who is the stronger of the two. Thor recounts for them his last encounter with the Hulk that had taken place in Avengers #3. He goes into a part of the story that was not previously recorded.

In Thor's recounting of the events, he and the Hulk are separated from the Avengers and the Sub-Mariner during their battle. Realizing the Hulk's great strength, Thor asks Odin to lift the enchantment that forces Thor to change to Donald Blake after being kept from his hammer for sixty seconds so he can pit his strength against the green-skinned brute. Odin grants Thor's wish, giving him five minutes free of the enchantment that binds his power to his hammer. However, it makes Thor's hammer vulnerable to damage and able to be picked up by anybody, which causes the Hulk to attempt to destroy it, keeping Thor on the defensive during the battle.

During their savage slugfest the integrity of the cavern the two Super-Heavyweights are fighting in caves in, covering the Hulk with tons of rock. About that time the five minutes Odin granted Thor are up. Thor smashes through the rubble to continue his fight but discovers that the Hulk had already escaped. Thor attempts to follow the brute but cannot find a trace of him. The test to see who is the strongest is inconclusive. Thor rejoins his comrades and battles Namor until the Hulk arrives again to resume their fight (and the story continues into the final moments of Avengers #3).

Thor stops his story there explaining that there is nothing more to tell, and explains that he has no proof that he is stronger than the Hulk and therefore won't make such a claim and flies off. Meanwhile elsewhere the Hulk turns his thoughts to Thor as well wondering when next they'll meet again.

THE AVENGERS #4 (1964)

"Captain America Joins... The Avengers!"

After escaping his battle with the Avengers in Avengers #3, Namor angrily continues his search for his missing people. He eventually finds his way to the North Sea, where he discovers a tribe of Eskimo people worshiping a dead man frozen in a block of ice. Still angry at humanity Namor approaches the Eskimos, causing them to flee as he throws the ice block into the water. It drifts away, slowly beginning to thaw.

By chance, the Avengers are in the area in their undersea craft. They spot the figure in the water and Giant-Man pulls him in on board. Upon inspection they notice that he wears the clothing of long-lost World War II hero Captain America. Suddenly, he awakens and in a fit of panic and confusion charges at the Avengers before realizing his surroundings and calming down. Iron Man asks the mystery man who he is and the Avengers are skeptical when they are told that the man is indeed Captain America. After a brief demonstration of his ability they quickly change their minds. 

Captain America explains his last memories: He speeds towards an experimental plane on a motorcycle with his sidekick Bucky. Unknown to the duo, the plane had been sabotaged by the Nazi agent Baron Zemo. Bucky manages to get on board while Cap slips and falls from the plane. The last thing he remembers is the plane exploding with Bucky on it as he falls through the sky into the frozen waters off Newfoundland. 

Back in the present day, the Avengers have docked in New York City and are greeted by a crowd of journalists looking for interviews about their recent battle with Sub-Mariner and the Hulk. Suddenly, a camera flash goes off and turns the team into stone. The journalists think it is a publicity stunt and leave. Aboard the sea craft Captain America awakens and exits onto the dock. He also spots the statues but dismisses them as statues made to honor the heroes. Cap finds the modern world very unusual and alien but manages to find his way to a hotel

Later, Cap is awoken by a vision of Bucky but it is revealed to be Rick Jones. He has been following Cap's trail across town looking for clues as to the Avenger's whereabouts. They team up to solve the mystery and begin by examining photos taken at the dock. Cap discovers one of the photographers carrying what looks more like a weapon than a camera, and Rick sends his Teen Brigade to search around the city to find the mystery man. Eventually Captain America finds the man in question and approaches him. His gang overhears his entrance and a fight breaks out. Cap easily defeats them despite being heavily outnumbered, and exposes the leader as an alien. The alien, a member of the race called the D'Bari alien species, explains that his spaceship crashed into the ocean and the Sub-Mariner promised to help him return to his planet if he turned the Avengers to stone. Captain America offers to help the D'Bari if they reverse the stone effect on the Avengers and he complies, freeing the Avengers once again. 

In his castle, the Sub-Mariner angrily observes the scene and plans another tactic to defeat the Avengers. As if by luck, a troop of his Atlantean Elite Guard pass nearby and Namor rallies them to his side.

Back on land, the D'Bari leads the Avengers to the area where his ship is stuck on the seabed below. After Giant-Man and Iron Man attach a camera to the ship's hull, Thor manipulates his hammer causing a torrent of magnetic waves that wrench the ship free.

Soon Giant-Man and Captain America are suddenly attacked by Namor and his elite guard, sending them into the water. Namor duels with Iron Man, slowly gaining the upper hand. The Wasp flies in to distract Namor, giving Iron Man time to recover. Namor's elite guard plead for aid against the mighty Thor, who is making short work of them. Thor deflects the Atlantean's weapons back at themselves, scattering the soldiers. Namor now battles one-on-one against Thor.

Meanwhile, under the water, Giant-Man is enslaved by a massive net. However, he manages to escape by taking a shrinking capsule before he suffocates. He emerges near to Iron Man, and they take care of the remaining Atlantean elite guard. Namor again attempts to take Thor's hammer from him, to no avail, and soon has to deal with Giant-Man and Iron Man as well. Captain America watches on, trying to get a feel of what sort of team the Avengers are. The fight is brought to a standstill when some of the Atlanteans reveal a hostage - Rick Jones! With his uncanny reflexes, Cap leaps in and frees Rick and the fight begins anew. Suddenly an earthquake strikes the island and the Sub-Mariner leaves, believing the Avengers to be consumed by it. Little does he know, the tremors were actually caused by the launching of the D'Bari spacecraft. The Avengers watch the D'Bari leave and then decide to officially offer Captain America a place on the team, and he readily accepts. Nearby, Rick looks out on the ocean deep in thought, torn between his loyalty to the Avengers, and his fear of knowing that the Hulk will be out for revenge since they replaced him. 


"The Hulk Vs. the Thing"

This adventure now crossovers into another comic where the Hulk is now on the hunt for Rick Jones and his revenge against the Avengers. In this issue, Stan Lee billed the Hulk fighting the Thing as the battle of the century and he was right. This slugfest changed the face of comic-book battles forever and has become the standard of which all the others are measured by.

Reed Richards has once again created a formula he believes will cure the Thing. However this time Ben is uninterested in a cure because his girlfriend Alicia Masters loves him the way he is. When Reed presses the issue, the Thing destroys the beaker containing the cure, much to Reed's frustration. When Alicia later arrives she informs the group of the latest news about the Avengers manhunt for the Hulk. 

Meanwhile, in the New Mexico, the Hulk flees from the authorities. With a cordon surrounding the area the Hulk forces some truck drivers to stow him in the back of their truck. As he sleeps the Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner and when the truck is later stopped at a check point Banner flees into the desert. Banner seeks shelter in a nearby cave, hoping that he can find Rick Jones and get some help. Unfortunately the stress causes him to transform into the Hulk once again who then seeks shelter in his cave. Elsewhere the Avengers and Rick Jones search nearby wreckage for clues to the Hulk's whereabouts. As their search turns up nothing, the Hulk learns that the Avengers have replaced him with Captain America and decides to get revenge against them; the Hulk then leaps off to New York City to face them.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed suddenly collapses while working on an experiment and Johnny Storm is sent out in the Fantasticar to fetch a doctor. Along the way he spots the Hulk trashing the streets and flames on to face the Green Goliath. The Torch is no match for the Hulk, and is quickly defeated and his flame smothered. As the news of the Hulk reaches the Baxter Building, Reed tells Ben and Sue to deal with the Hulk instead of him, leaving them to worry that his sudden illness is grim and their leader might die. When they arrive at the scene Johnny is still fighting a losing battle against the Hulk. Sue protects her brother with her invisible force field, but soon passes out from the strain. That's when the Thing steps in for a rematch against the Hulk (they first locked horns in Fantastic Four #12). As the Thing and the Hulk battle it out throughout the city, Reed tries to leave his bed to help the team, but finds that his malady has made him too weak to do anything. Ben and the Hulk's battle take them out into the Hudson River and onto the George Washington Bridge. The ongoing battle exhausting him, Ben tries to get a reprieve by trying to bind the Hulk in one of the bridge's tension cables. 

Meanwhile, Sue returns to the Baxter Building with a doctor and the prognosis is grim: Reed has been afflicted by an unknown virus, likely from his own experiments and all the doctor can recommend is bed rest. Meanwhile, the Hulk breaks free from the cables and unmercifully pounds the Thing thus defeating him and moves on, seeking to get his revenge against the Avengers. Left behind, the Thing picks himself up and follows after the Hulk, intent on stopping him even if it kills him. 



"The Avengers Take Over!"

Following his defeat while battling the Hulk, the Thing manages to pull himself back up and start the fight anew as an army of soldiers and reporters watch on. Watching this on television is Mr. Fantastic who tries to go into action but is still too weak from his illness to do anything. Out of concern Sue calls for an ambulance and hands over the formulas that Reed had been working on so the doctors can try to cure him. Also at the hospital is the Human Torch who has been patched up following his failed battle with the Hulk. Realizing that the Hulk is still out on a rampage, Johnny flames on and heads back out into battle despite the fact that his is injured.

He catches up to the Thing and the Hulk who are still brawling and tries to lend Ben a hand. When the Hulk swats the two away, the soldiers step in by firing a mortar shell at the Hulk, but he easily deflects the shot. Johnny is winded after the conflict and Ben tells him to stay put while he continues on after the Hulk. As he plods along, Ben shrugs off an attempt by reports to interview him. Meanwhile, the Hulk has retreated into the subway where he hijacks a subway train to ride it toward Avengers Mansion. When he arrives there, he finds that the Avengers are already home waiting for him and a battle breaks out. The Hulk steamrolls into the heroes and grabs Rick Jones and then flees the scene, unaware that the Wasp is following him.

Back at the hospital, the doctors have succeeded in formulating an antidote that instantly cures Reed. The Fantastic Four then regroup and head out to try and stop the Hulk once and for all. They spot the brute on the street as he is stunned by the Wasp who is using her Wasp's sting inside his ear. Distracted, the Hulk is ambushed by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four at the same time. However the two groups are uncoordinated and get into each others way. During the confusion, the Hulk manages to leap onto a nearby construction site. After a brief squabble about who is best suited for stopping the Hulk, both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four agree to work together. This time the two teams attack the Hulk and a battle royal for the ages breaks out. In the ensuing chaos, Rick manages to toss a gamma-ray treated capsule into the Hulk's mouth. This triggers a transformation back into his alter-ego as he falls into the Hudson River trying to get rid of the clusters of ants all over his body. It's Bruce Banner who surfaces from the water and is swept away by the current. 

In the aftermath of the battle Rick is commended for his bravery and the Avengers and Fantastic Four part ways as newfound allies. A happy ending, not quite...

THE AVENGERS #5 (1964)

"The Invasion of the Lava Men!"

The Avengers return to Tony Stark's home and assess the damage that the Hulk caused to it and reminisce about their previous battle with the brute. Soon each Avenger parts ways and goes back to their daily life. After a few days mysterious shock waves begin causing accidents all across the city. The Avengers gather together and discover the shock waves are coming from the Southwestern part of the country and they go to check it out.

It is discovered that the Lava Men are trying to push a giant 'living rock' to the surface of the earth, where it will explode and destroy all human life, leaving it free for the Lava Men to inhabit. General Ross and the U.S. Army are on the scene and try and decide what to do about it. Bruce Banner will show up still dazed at the previous events that have recently transpired when he was rampaging as the Hulk. Ross orders Banner to inspect the mountain and he discovers that it's radioactive. Just before Ross decides to ring it with missiles the Avengers intervene and handle the situation. As they crack into the mountain and travel underground, the Lava Men start to fight back. 

Back on the surface Bruce Banner begins to unexpectedly change back into the Hulk. While the brute surveys the area he can hear the Avengers - his sworn enemies. This causes him to go into the mountain and once the Avengers see him a fight breaks out. At this time Thor goes after the Lava Men and attacks them and eventually convinces them to go back into the center of the earth.

Knowing that the mountain will detonate at any second, the rest of the Avengers lure the Hulk to the only part of the rock that is safe to hit without it destroying everything. They trick the Hulk into hitting this portion of the rock and with his extreme power the rock is destroyed by an implosion which causes only minor damage to the surface of the earth. After the debris clears, Thor returns to the other Avengers as the Hulk is once again missing. Bruce Banner is seen nearly unconscious a short distance away being helped by Betty Ross and scurried away. The issue concludes when the Avengers receive a condition-red signal from the Teen Brigade - this adventure ends while another begins - such is the life of the Avengers.

Story: 5
Art: 5
Action: 5
Flow: 5
Reread Factor: 5
Overall Grade: 5
(Grading numbers 1 thru 5, with 5 being the highest)

Agree, disagree? Let's hear it fanboys!

AVENGERS #164, 165, 166 (1977)

John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETRO FAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing, runs the Roy Thomas Appreciation Board on Facebook and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John likes to think he's the real Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.