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Ten Goofiest Moments in the First Ten Issues of the Avengers

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at the first ten issues of the Avengers, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby (pencils #1-8), Don Heck (pencils #9-10), Dick Ayers (inks #1, 8-10), Paul Reinman (inks #2-3, 5), George Roussos (inks #4) and Chic Stone (inks #6-7)

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Oh ye of little faith…

In #1, I love how quickly Rick Jones begins to doubt his pal, the Hulk…

She’s no Lincoln’s mother, but she has some good qualities…

In #2, we learn that Wasp has, essentially, ESP…

As you might expect, this is not brought up again.

Well, blow me down!

I might be off base and bellows are commonly found on circus grounds. I find that hard to believe, which makes the randomness of this scene from #1 amusing to me…

This likely would come in handy frequently…

At least Stan Lee was equal opportunity when it came to inventing powers out of nowhere. In #10, Enchantress “gets away” by traveling through time!!

You would think that she would make usage of this skill more often, no?

10. The Daily Record-Ledger, your #1 source for exposition!

In #5, I love how the headline on the newspaper is designed to give as much exposition as possible…

9. Let’s do the space warp again!

Speaking of handy powers, you’d think Thor would use the ability to send people into space warps more often, as he does in this scene from #7…

8. Slightly off-balanced Cap…

One of the goofiest recurring bits in early issues of the Avengers was how much Cap would obsess over Bucky (and Rick Jones’ similarity to Bucky). Here’s a particularly goofy example of this trend…

7. Is that a new power for the Hulk?

In #3, the Hulk decides to break the laws of physics by stopping his upward momentum and turning it downward…

6. “It hurts whenever I do this.” “Solution – don’t do that.”

I thought of that old joke when I saw the bit in #6 where Baron Zemo, distraught over spending decades with his mask glued to his head, first had it occur to him that maybe he could try to come up with something that would dissolve the Adhesive X!

You have to love how novel that idea is to him.

5. Stan sure loved coming up with ways for people to communicate with each other…

In #3, Stan and Jack came up with yet another strange communication device – this one allowing Iron Man to basically astral project himself wherever he chose.

Again, something you would think would come in handy past this one usage, and yet…

4. Magnets…so dumb…

In #6, we get the goofy idea of replacing Captain America THROWING his shield and catching the richochet with…magnets.

Yeuch.

I also love that his indestructible shield appears to be easily opened up to put circuitry in it .

3. “Why do I have to sit on the kiddie table?”

In #10, we get this absurd proclamation regarding the Wasp…

Besides the absurdity of Wasp somehow being on a different level than the rest of the team, as seen in moment #5, she sat in meetings with them just a few issues earlier!! So it was a dumb idea AND it was inconsistent with his own past plots!

2. Not a good time in Cap’s history…

Cap freaking out about Bucky was bad enough, but as seen in #9, the dude was so freaked out that he started having hallucinations!!!

I love how that is never addressed again, or seen as any sort of real concern. “Eh, people hallucinate sometimes.”

1. We sure were lucky this robot showed up…

In #1, the Hulk decides to go undercover…

What’s funny is that it would make some sense if the circus owners knew that the Hulk was, well, the Hulk, but they helped him come up with the disguise so that he could hide out and they could make some money off of him. That would make some sense. So, of course, Lee specifically rules that out…

I’d love to hear the thinking behind, “Wow, we sure are lucky this robot showed up out of nowhere to join us.”

I also dig how, later in the issue, Hulk’s elaborate disguise was wiped away and everyone realized that he was the Hulk…

So, the clown lips was all you needed to think he was not the Hulk? I guess that makes more sense than a pair of glasses and parting your hair slightly different convinces people you’re someone else…

48 Comments

I guess some of this is fun, but it is shooting fish in a barrel as the older books were written for a different audience and done in about five minutes. I think it would be interesting to do the same thing with the latest issues of a book.

I agree. These stories are approaching five decades of existence. Their are numerous scientific discoveries that have changed the way we view the world. Do goofy on Powers, Detective, Amazing Spider-man. Let’s not forget, these are the stories that kept comics alive and even spawned this website. Can we find something better to read on CBR?

Mark J. Hayman

May 15, 2011 at 10:33 am

Hey, when I was ten I thought those magnets were the coolest thing I ever saw! Though Giant-Man popping the shield like a pocket watch never did sit right. Of course you have to wait until #35 and Roy Thomas’ first (credited) issue to discover that Cap’s shield is not only not indestructible but that he apparently has spares laying about as he’s sporting a new one a couple of pages later with no mention of where it came from.

Wow, those hack writers were sure lucky there was no internet at the time to tear them apart! ;)

@Jim and Exxor 1

”As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).”

Also, I need to say how much I love the ”transistors-powered gizmos”. Transistors-powered Iron Man, transistors-powered shield, transistors-powered projector, transistors-powered Stan Lee…

The Wasp has Wasp Sense. If it works for spiders, why not?

Also, Wasp’s weird secondary status was established in the cover of the very first issue, which listed all the male members with exclamation marks at the top, and depicted them in the corner, while basically ignoring that she was there too. Wotta revoltin’ development.

Actually, a Circus porbably would have a bellows laying around. They probably had their own black smith to handle the shoeing of the various performing horses in the show, especially, by the sixties, one couldn’t count on a blacksmith being in every town, so having one on staff makes sense for a circus. Also there is the possibility that it was a Bellows used for comical effect by the clown troupe in the circus, so there’s petty much no reason to assume that pretty much random prop isn’t at the circus.

Also, with the Hulk changing direction, I assume that is caused by gravity, and him only faking taking a larger leap, remembering that part of the Hulk is actually a highly skilled physicist, so it’s entirely possible he timed his lead to have him fall back as soon as the others started going…..of course why they couldn’t just stop flying up and let gravity bring them down as well….that’s a little goofey.

So where’s my Noprize?

Regarding moment 8: Intellectually, I know that Cap was sparring with those guys in the first panel, and that his talk about never having a “partner” again refers to an adventuring partner, but the Internet has made me unable not to weave an entirely different subtext to that scene.

Rollo Tomassi

May 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

These are golden! Even though you’re mocking these books tongue firmly in cheek, I still sense the admiration you have for the creators.

These ‘Goofiest Moments’ you’ve been doing are priceless.

Hugo Sleestak

May 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I usually find these columns refreshing. It reminds me of a time when everyone wasn’t so terribly serious about comics. They were cheap fun, 12 cents a shot, rolled up and put in your back pocket, and usually read by 12 or 13 year olds at the time. My memories don’t go back as far as these stories, but I do recall times like them. We can talk about how the printing has improved so that we’re dealing with glossy magazines that sell for $3.99, and we can also talk about how the writing has improved too. However, I miss the cheap thrills and the improbable plot twists. I miss this stuff. A lot.

When I first read the “Rick Jones dresses as Bucky” scene in the Avengers and again several years later when Steranko did it in Cap’s book I wondered why there was a Bucky uniform anywhere! He “died” 20 some odd years before and in his military uniform to boot! (At least in most of the flashbacks I recall they were in OD uniforms and when the Avengers fish the frozen Rogers out of the drink he has a tattered olive drab military uniform on over the Cap suit.)

Also, with the Hulk changing direction, I assume that is caused by gravity, and him only faking taking a larger leap, remembering that part of the Hulk is actually a highly skilled physicist, so it’s entirely possible he timed his lead to have him fall back as soon as the others started going…..of course why they couldn’t just stop flying up and let gravity bring them down as well….that’s a little goofey.

Yeah, that’s my thing – if it is the former, why wouldn’t they be able to stop? So either way it would end up goofy. Plus, I suppose Hulk could be lying, but he notes that he is pushing (or, as he puts it “crashing”) himself downward, right?

Sorry, Brian; I know that it’s just nitpicking, but twice you used the word “usage” incorrectly. It really should have simply “use”. I blame the political obfuscation for the spread of the useless suffix in this case. In other news, I’m loving these articles; and yeah, I always thought the magnets in the shield thing was goofy. I guess that’s why, not long after, Stan made a point of having Cap remove them!

I’m not entirely sure Cap’s shield had been established as indestructible as early as Avengers v1 #6. Later on, Stan and Roy Thomas had the Living Laser disintegrate it, something later writers had to explain away as a substitute shield (which was also one explanation given for the fob-watch shield seen above).

Also, the Lee-Kirby Asgardians could travel through time pretty routinely, it seems. Thor’s villain the Tomorrow Man exists for that reason, and in one story where Jane Foster is mortally wounded, Thor actually freezes time around an entire house to keep her alive until he can get a magic cure for her. There’s an old Tales to Astonish story where the Hulk is zapped into a war-torn future by Bruce Banner’s “Time Gun” — a goofy moment ll its own — and *just happens* to end up fighting Thor’s enemy the Executioner, who seems to be vacationing there or something.

Iron Man’s image projector itself never came back, but the Mandarin faked using the same technology when he sent a fake image of IM to Avengers Mansion in issue #20.

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the earlier AVENGERS. I love Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but it always felt like a big team-up book. The whole was never bigger than the sum of its parts. And Stan Lee didn’t manage to make the characters’ voices as different from each other as he did in the FF and the X-Men.

It got a little better with Cap’s Kooky Quartet, but even that was really a Fantastic Four knock-off (it was roughly Cap = Reed, Wanda = Sue, Pietro = Johnny, Hawkeye = Thing).

Roy Thomas was the guy that made the Avengers great.

Nah, Rene, I’d say Avengers #7 and #15-16 are pretty great comics, as is #9. Together, I think they establish the general story beats of Thomas’s run, though Thomas was more polished than Lee with his anti-villains, his team vs. team epics, and his intra-Avenger drama.

My take on Cap’s shield magnets was that it was an early attempt to boost Cap up with a super-gimmick to get him more on a level with the more modern and amped-up Avengers. Short of giving him super-powers.

I loved those old stories and still do. They hands-down beat today’s comics in every single way (except the coloring MAYBE).

“I love Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but it always felt like a big team-up book.”

That is essentially what the title was though (and arguably still is). It’s like criticizing Marvel Team-Up or Brave and the Bold because Spider-Man or Batman would team-up with somebody.

Such fun to read these.

IIRC, the first Avengers comic I ever read was the one just before the switch to Cap’s Kooky Quartet. Boy, was I mad. But then I fell in love with Hawkeye. I never cared for Don Heck’s art. It wasn’t until the Thomas/Buscema era that the Avengers really hit its stride.

i’m so glad u included the Bucky/Cap stuff, i almost wrote last week to bring that specific page to your attention. i especially love the one where Cap yells…”Take it off! I never told you to wear it!”. there’s another one, i’m pretty sure it’s Avengers, maybe the one where Cap is left alone to guard the mansion, where there’s a sad scene of Cap sitting on a couch, pining over Bucky.

i don’t know if goofy is the right word, but what’s amazing to read this now is to think that it must never have occurred to them that Cap’s feelings and the way he expressed him would come off homosexual at all. think about that. anyone reading that now is gonna be laughing and we’re all thinking the same thing…

what a different world, in certain ways. it comes across as so naive and ridiculous to us on the surface. but especially looking at the now blatant racist and sexist content that you’ve pointed out in previous days, it’s a cop out to chuckle and thank god we don’t think like that anymore. cuz we do, it’s expressed in different ways…

and people will be laughing at us in 30 years too. that’s the main thing i’m gettin out of this series you are doing besides hilarious laughter. keep it up, i look forward to it every morning.

Well, Jase, at least in my oppinion, there is something in a supergroup book that is very different from a team-up book. Team-up books have more of an impromptu, accidental feel. Heroes meet, deal with the bad guys, go their separate ways without any deep interactions, etc. They’re not really a franchise on their own, just the sum of several separate franchises. Now, supergroups have an identity of their own, distinctive interactions, a history that is the groups’s own, not just the individual members’.

I think the Avengers started as a team-up, and started transitioned to a real group with Captain America in #4, a little more with Wanda, Pietro, and Hawkeye in #16, but only under Roy Thomas it became the real deal.

But I still like these comics, I do. Just not as much as FF, Spidey, Thor, Doctor Strange, and other classic runs from that time.

Stan’s writing at this time overall strikes me as just lazy- “I need to get X thing done, so I’ll just have a character use a power or device he never has before, and then forget about it. It isn’t like the fans will remember later.”

OTOH, Thor has used his hammer’s Space Warp power numerous times, as well as its ability to travel across dimensions (in fact it maybe the same power, given that hyperspace exists in the Marvel Universe.) It also had Time Travel powers but those were specifically removed in a story during the 70s (around the time of the Celestials Saga- he sacrificed it to send the Space Ghost’s home planet out of Limbo) someone must have realized that giving a hero free access to time travel meant he could have just go back in time and fix *anything* or to see the future by going to it. (This is something that always bothered me about The Flash.)

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

That “No one can save you now” panel with Hulk picking up Wasp is really cool though.

Those moments of coming up with powers never seen before or since are a bit odd. I can accept when, say, Gyro Gearloose invents a great thingamajig which is not seen after that one appearance but in those cases there is still some buildup on that, and not just some odd end thrown to move the story forward.
And “solution to ahesive X, why hasn’t I thought of that before” is indeed really goofy :)

Other than the headline exposition, one of the great things about #10 is that Pym is clearly reading a different page to the one the story is on. That used to happen all the time, because they could never figure out how to show the characters reading it, and show the story at the same time.

I wish there was a Clown Hulk costume in MvC3! :D

Other than the headline exposition, one of the great things about #10 is that Pym is clearly reading a different page to the one the story is on. That used to happen all the time, because they could never figure out how to show the characters reading it, and show the story at the same time.

That could easily be explained away, though, because it’s not uncommon for front-page stories to “jump” to the back page or an interior page after a few paragraphs. That’s actually Dr. Don Blake reading the paper, and he’s probably already read the first part and is reading the end of the article on the back page.

@Beadle – stories on the front page are almost always continued on another. He was meerly finishing the second half of the story on page A8, or whatever. Pic up any paper now, and you’ll see the same.

After reading the first couple Iron Man Essentials and these old Avenger scenes, I wish I had a dollar for every time the word “transistors” were used regarding shellhead. Geez.

Readers of Avengers #6 would’ve done well to heed Stan’s advice and take good care of the book. How much is that worth now?

In inviting the Wasp to join them at the big table, I think the assumption is she’s not a full-fledged member, but seen as Giant Man’s sidekick. Same as Rick Jones is Cap’s sidekick. Or had been the Hulk’s sidekick.

So it MIGHT be a compliment, saying they should elevate her status from sidekick to full member.

Clayton Emery

And yet still nothing as goofy as One More Day.

Mark J. Hayman

May 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Surely there are goofy bits to at least rival One More Day? The Other, perhaps, hmm? ;-)

Avengers-wise, however, while as rife with goofiness as any silver age book, it’s the more recent dog-awful disassembling of the assemblers that has most stuck in my craw. And I have a pretty big craw.

Intersesting to see how bad comics were back then, not only in terms of plot but art and dialogue as well. In number 5, where is that meeting table supposed to be located? The loading bay from The Matrix maybe? Bwa-ha! “SPIN MY MIGHTY MALLET SPIN!!”

There’s a random bit in the early avengers comics where the wasp disappears for an entire fight and shows up at the end saying she was just powdering her nose. I reckon jack forgot to draw her in, but that comment sticks with me as the stupidest line i have ever read in the early avengers comics.

Man that entire sequence in example 8 starting from Cap with the exhausted half dressed fighters ( I guess wrestlers) to blowing up a Rick has to be the most homosexual I’ve seen him.

JC LEBOURDAIS

May 17, 2011 at 2:58 am

Remember this was done Marvel Method, so all these goofy bits are probably just Kirby plotting the story as he goes, and then later Stan doing whatever he can to have it make sense, sometimes in a very tongue-in-cheek tone, which is why Marvel books were largely more popular than DC’s, they didn’t take themselves seriously :)

“And “solution to ahesive X, why hasn’t I thought of that before” is indeed really goofy”

Funnier even was that later the Avengers got Paste-Pot Pete out of jail for him to find a solvant to Adhesive X – and he did it in about five minutes.

PASTE-POT PETE!!!!!

The original Zemo must have been the dumbest villian ever…

“PASTE-POT PETE!!!!!”

That’s “The Trapster” to you, mister. :D

And yeah, that was ridiculous.

The image projector did get a second use in issue #12. Hank had been getting warnings from ants all over the world of imminent danger. He summons the Avengers, and gets belittled by Thor and Iron Man for doing so. He tells them all to get stuffed and that he is going to check things out solo. When disaster strikes and Hank can’t be found, the Wasp uses the image projector to search for Hank. Still, only two uses; you’d think they would have gotten more mileage out of it.

Also, interesting to note that the Wasp is “this week’s acting chairman” of the team in this issue. Usually it was of the guys, and they got to be chairman for the month. She was considered a junior member of the team, I guess – “Why don’t we make his (Rick Jones) membership in the Avengers official, as the Wasp’s is”. And they also muse about making Tony Stark an Avenger too, and remember in those days no one on the team knew Stark was Iron Man.

“That’s “The Trapster” to you, mister.” :D

As if anyone called him that.

Well, the Wizard does. That explains why Petruski is such a faithful accomplice of his, I guess.

Oh, and I just checked the story and he was indeed still called Paste-Pot Pete on that story (Avengers #6… Check it out, true believer!).

As to Stan Lee’s invention of on-the-fly superpowers, I think it’s important to remember (and I’ll bet most people on this website know this) that one of the things that Lee, Kirby, Ditko and their colleagues unintentionally created was …. well, us. There wasn’t much in the way of organized fandom, as near as I can tell before Marvel.
Early Marvel predates me but I’ve been involved in the hobby for many years and I seem to recall that there were a few pioneers who were fans of Golden Age stuff – Roy Thomas, Jerry Bails, etc. – but fandom really came together over Stan Lee’s Marvel which appealed to a slightly older audience who had the means to put together clubs and cons, exchange letters, etc.
Point being, that Lee would probably throw whatever he needed into the story because A) he really didn’t think anyone was paying attention (Golden Age comics have basically *no* continuity in terms of stories that were intended to read as a cohesive chronicle of a character over time instead of just self-contained adventure following self-contained adventure following self-contained adventure….) and B) he was just figuring out the “Marvel” formula as it was being created.
It’s something I think of all the time when I’m sitting in a movie theater watching a movie about Thor or Spider-Man: What would these creators have done differently if they could have had any idea that 50 years later, their stories would be the blueprint for this epic piece of pop culture?

There was a story at some point where Thor’s hammer had its power over time removed; it’s referred to in Avengers Forever.
Also:
Thinking that looking at these goofy moments is somehow being “mean” or unfair or whatever to work from another era is just silly; it’s clearly done with affection.
Thinking that it shows how “bad” they were (like that “Urizen” douche earlier in the thread) is just as silly, but it makes you a bit more of a dick.

That said, the refusal to include dates in retrospective articles like this is still a major flaw of this place.

GREAT column! I love the idea and all the wackiness is good fun!

Regarding that first panel…is it just me, or were all characters back then willing to doubt their friends or turn on them at the drop of a hat?

Ah poor Wasp. Not a real member, just the female sidekick to one the real (male) members. At least she ended up being one of their more kick-ass members, right? Until Bendis had her explode.

“That whirling shield of yours is like an all-purpose detergent, Cap!” “Uh, thanks I guess, Wasp. That, uh, jumper thing of yours is rather like a…three-speed blender or somesuch.” “Cap’s shield looks like a shiny watch fob!” “Okay, I’m gonna have to ask you to can it with the similes, Jan. They don’t make any goddamn sense and I don’t think you actually know what some of these words mean.” “Boo hoo! Cap’s disapproval is like a triangular breeze from a litigious mountain!” “Asgardian, kindly spacewarp the insect girl.”

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