Avengers (Vol. 1) #14

Credits:

Cover Date: March 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“Even Avengers Can Die!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripters: Larry Lieber, Paul Laiken

Pencillers: Jack Kirby (layouts), Don Heck

Inker: Chic Stone

What’s Going On?

The Avengers race to save the Wasp’s life, and somehow get involved with aliens in the process.

Details:

  • The Avengers rush the Wasp to the nearest hospital to get her treatment for a gunshot wound.

  • The doctor gives the Wasp no more than 48 hours to live. The only chance she has of survival is if she was treated by a Norwegian specialist, Doctor Svenson. Thor agrees to track the doctor down and bring him to the hospital.

  • Thor finds the doctor in Norway and brings him (against his will) to America to treat the Wasp.

  • When the doctor refuses to even examine the Wasp, Giant-Man grabs him and…pulls off a mask?!? The doctor was actually an alien! And the alien died almost immediately upon being discovered.

  • With time running out to save the Wasp, the Avengers decide to each try their own way of hunting down the real Doctor Svenson. He could be anywhere in the world, and time is a factor.

  • Giant-Man has his ants look for any aliens on the planet; they find none. Captain America and the Teen Brigade determine that there are no strange radio signals being broadcast in the “civilized world.” Iron Man scans all populated regions on the planet for alien radioactivity, but finds none. Thor asked around in Asgard and (shockingly) learned nothing. But! If you consider all the places that have no trace of aliens, that leaves just the North and South poles. We have a clue!

  • After Thor uses his hammer to determine that the aliens are at the North Pole, the heroes travel there, only to fall into a trap.

  • The heroes fight well, but are eventually hit with a paralysis ray and captured.

  • The paralysis ray doesn’t work on Thor, though, so he takes a hostage and demands to see Doctor Svenson.

  • The two sides fight for a bit…

  • …until Doctor Svenson intervenes. He hasn’t been a prisoner of the aliens; he has been trying to help the aliens (known as the Kallu) hide on Earth from another race of aliens.

  • Due to some fortuitous timing, the bad aliens finally picked up the trail of the Kallu. Advanced screening devices noticed this and set off an alarm. The Kallu agreed to leave Earth immediately, so the planet does not become an intergalactic battleground.
  • That means Doctor Svenson is free to help the Wasp! And he does!

Is It Good?

Well…no. No, it is not. What could have been a race against time story, or a moment for the characters to reflect, or a story where being a superhero isn’t always the answer. Instead, it becomes a ridiculous needle-in-a-haystack hunt that somehow transforms into a space opera. The story choices here are absolutely bizarre.

It’s interesting that so many people worked on this issue. We’ve never seen two scripters before (and neither of them are Stan Lee!), so that makes me wonder if part of the story was written and revised in chunks. This is also the first time I’ve seen Jack Kirby credited for layouts; they are most apparent in the scenes where the Avengers fight the Kallusians. Late revisions would also explain why Kirby would have been involved, because Don Heck was capable of pencilling and inking multiple comics a month.

Continuity:

  • The Wasp was shot at the end of last issue.
  • This is the first appearance of the Kallusian alien race. They were staying in Earth to hide from another alien race. They cannot breathe in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • This is the first appearance of the Yirbek alien race. They are the aliens hunting the Kallusians.
  • Thor “almost” revealed his secret identity! Well, that’s what he thinks to himself. I don’t see it in his dialogue, but whatever.

  • Thor’s hammer is acting like a divining rod again.

  • Giant-Man definitely killed the Kallusian that was disguised as Doctor Svenson. It was an accident, but he did it.
  • In the pages of Tales of Suspense, Tony Stark cannot remove his Iron Man armor without dying. I guess he found a solution to that before these events?

  • The Watcher makes an appearance, which is an Avengers first. The last comic I’ve reviewed where the Watcher makes an appearance is Fantastic Four #29, but I should note that he appeared in a back-up feature in Tales to Astonish #49-58. His feature (which isn’t currently on Marvel Unlimited) was discontinued when Captain America joined the title.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Donald Blake had enough skill to help a gunshot victim in Journey Into Mystery #89, without the benefit of a hospital surgery room and assistants. But okay, I guess he’s not skilled enough to even attempt to save the Wasp here. He is absolutely being reasonable and not a dick.

  • “Has he perfected his experiments to work in mortals?” Thor, who or what do you think Doctor Svenson has been experimenting on, if not mortals?

  • Now that I’ve got you totally helpless —- by the way, you’re going to be my prisoners indefinitely —- its time to monologue at you!

  • Great question, Iron Man!

  • Also, why would a paralysis ray gun differentiate between mortal and immortal molecules?

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