First Published: June 2000
Contents: Avengers #25 (February 1966) to #46 (November 1967), King-Size Avengers #1 (September 1967), and the Ant-Man story from Tales to Astonish #27 (January 1962)
Key Creator Credits: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Don Heck, and John Buscema
Key First Appearances: Goliath, Collector, Bill Foster, Sons of the Serpent, Living Laser, Red Guardian, Whirlwind
Story Continues From: Essential Avengers Vol. 1
Story Continues In: Essential Avengers Vol. 3
Overview: The Avengers legacy continues in this second Essential edition. The line-up of Cap’s Quirky Quartet (Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver) are the core line-up in this volume, but we see the return of the Wasp and Giant-Man, who soon adopts the new identity of Goliath. In addition, the Greek demi-god Hercules becomes a long-term guest of the Avengers before finally being named a member of the team in issue #45. Hawkeye petitions the team to admit his girlfriend Black Widow to the team, but she would not officially join the team for many years.
In this era, stories start being stretched out over multiple issues, becoming grander in scope. New villains are introduced, such as the Collector, Whirlwind and the Living Laser; existing villains such as Dr. Doom, Dragon Man and Attuma are imported from other titles; and familiar villains like Enchantress and the Executioner are still causing trouble.
What makes this Essential?: Quite honestly, these stories are very pedestrian. When fans make lists of their favorite Avengers stories, these issues do not make the cut. However, I think this volume is key because of two creators who begin their long residency at Avengers Mansion.
Roy Thomas was the first of many fans to join the comic industry in the 1960s. Thomas was hired as a staff writer, taking over many books that had been written by Stan Lee since issue #1. Thomas took over with Avengers #35, which began a seven-year run on the title. Thomas’ long career has given him the chance to work on nearly every character, but his Avengers run, particularly the Kree-Skrull war, remains one of his best.
John Buscema provided much of the art during the Thomas era on the Avengers, and then later returned to the title in the 1980s for a memorable five-year run with Roger Stern. In the 1960s, Buscema’s art-style was very similar in look and energy with Jack Kirby, and became the natural choice to take over the art duties on the Fantastic Four and Thor titles when Kirby left Marvel in 1970.
Footnotes: Beginning with issue #38, Tony Stark’s mansion is now referred to as Avengers Mansion for the first time.
If you like this volume, try: the Avengers: Mythos hardcover collection from 2012. Back in 2006, Marvel started releasing one-shots titled Mythos: <Character Name> written by Paul Jenkins. Characters featured included Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-Men. Jump to early 2012, when Marvel started gearing up for the Avengers movie by putting out all kinds of comic books. One such line of books were five Avengers Origins comics, focusing on various members of the team (Ant Man and Wasp; Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver; Thor; Vision; and Luke Cage). The hardcover released late in 2012 collects the five Avengers Origins comics, as well as the Captain America and Hulk Mythos issues. So outside of Iron Man and Hawkeye, this gives the reader a modern retelling of the early days of mid-1960s Avengers.