Avengers (Vol. 1) #12

Credits:

Cover Date: January 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“This Hostage Earth!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

When Giant-Man tries to get the Avengers to act on a vague tip from his ant friends, the heroes refuse. However, the tip was legit; Mole Man and the Red Ghost are teaming up to destroy the surface world! Will the Avengers figure out the problem before it’s too late?

Details:

  • Giant-Man calls the team together because he got a non-specific warning from some ants. When Thor get annoyed about getting summoned for ant problems, Giant-Man gets upset, and Hank dismisses the rest of the Avengers in a huff.

  • The ants were actually on to something, though.  They were distressed because they were the first victims of an evil plot by the Mole Man to destroy all surface life on Earth!

  • Giant-Man went exploring in some anthills to investigate the problem. This led him to Mole Man’s underground kingdom, where he figured out what was going on. Before he could escape and notify the Avengers, Mole Man and his Moloids captured him.

  • Pretty soon, the surface world starts noticing buildings starting to tilt and bridges becoming unsteady. The Avengers realize that Giant-Man had brought them a serious problem before. But is it too late to fix it?

  • The Avengers quickly figure out that the Mole Man is behind their troubles, but before they can act on this knowledge, they are ambushed by the Moloids.

  • The Avengers defeat the Moloids, but the underlings vanished mysteriously at the end of the fight.
  • While the Avengers burrowed to the center of the Earth, the Mole Man is approached by the Red Ghost.  It was the Red Ghost that rescued the Moloids from capture!  Anyway, for no particularly good reason, the two villains agree to team up.

  • When the Avengers show up in the Mole Man’s kingdom, they make quick work of his Moloids again, but not fast enough. Mole Man and the Red Ghost are able to situate themselves in a safe spot while they ruin the surface world.

  • Little did they know that Giant-Man had shrunk down and was sabotaging the Mole Man’s machine.

  • The Avengers then collapsed the tunnels, presumably trapping the two villains underground indefinitely.

Was It Good?

This isn’t a particularly good issue.  There are certainly some unintentionally amusing parts — like the Avengers finally realizing how dumb it is that one of their members talks to ants — but the issue as a whole isn’t very entertaining.  I don’t like Mole Man as an Avengers villain, because any Avenger can wipe the floor with him.  Red Ghost is slightly better, but without his weird apes in tow, he doesn’t add much to the story; I still don’t understand the whys and wherefores of the Red Ghost seeking out Mole Man for an alliance.  They don’t share views, they want different things, and it seems bizarre for them to team up against anyone except the Fantastic Four.

I’m starting to tire of Don Heck and Dick Ayers on art chores in this title.  There’s nothing wrong with their work — their storytelling is fine, for example — but the pages just aren’t very exciting.

Continuity:

  • Mole Man last appeared (and was presumed dead in) Fantastic Four #31.
  • The Red Ghost last appeared in Fantastic Four #29. Apparently, he was able to survive falling into an endless abyss on the moon.
  • The Red Ghost can now make other creatures intangible, as well as himself.
  • The Red Ghost is no longer working with his super-apes because they were too unpredictable.
  • Iron Man was missing last issue, and Tony Stark was presumed dead.  No mention of either in this issue, so I’m guessing things get wrapped up in this month’s Tales of Suspense.
  • Iron Man breaks out his rocket skates again!

  • Mole Man’s underground kingdom has changed from bizarre caves with tech to super-futuristic.

  • Toby Stark’s (scientifically ridiculous) image projector makes another appearance! It was last seen in Avengers #3.  It still doesn’t make sense why a projected image would be able to convey images back to you, but whatever.

  • Rick Jones is still hoping to one day be an Avenger.

  • Avengers finances are not clear-cut yet, apparently.

  • Apparently, “Avengers Assemble” isn’t the default rally cry yet (it was used in Avengers #10, though).

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I’ve got a lot of questions here. What makes the alarm “cybernetic”? How can ants manipulate it? Is Janet incapable of handling a serious matter?

  • Wait…Stan is actually trying to make “Master of Many Sizes” Giant-Man’s nickname! This is hilarious! I hope he keeps it up as long as he’s on the title.

  • AND they’re sticking with “High Pockets”? I love Stan’s Silver Age nonsense nicknames.

  • Of course Thor can use his hammer as a divining rod.  It’s a magic hammer, so it makes sense that it can utilize pseudoscience to its benefit.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • It is the Wasp’s turn to be Avengers Chairman (they rotate every week), so of course we have condescension and irritation that the male Chairmen haven’t had to deal with.

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