Avengers (Vol. 1) #16

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“The Old Order Changeth!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Layouts: Jack Kirby

Finished Pencils: Dick Ayers, Carl Hubbell

Inker: Dick Ayers, Carl Hubbell

What’s Going On?

The Avengers decide to recruit new members so the tenured members can quit the team. Who will answer the call?

Details:

  • Picking up from last issue, the Avengers (Giant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp) are ready to fight the Masters of Evil (the Black Knight, Enchantress, Executioner, and Melter) in New York City. But, worried about the safety of innocent bystanders, the Avengers decide to warp to another dimension to battle.

  • The Enchantress and Executioner were able to avoid being taken with, but they opt to escape, rather than cause havoc in the city.

  • In the alternate dimension, the Black Knight and Melter are unable to attack the Avengers without hurting themselves; something about the dimension causes this. The Avengers capture the bad guys and return home.

  • But not all the Avengers are done! Captain America and Rick Jones are in South America, burying Baron Zemo, after his death last issue. They planned to use Zemo’s last plane to fly back to America, but some of the villains mercenaries fight them for it.

  • The plane explodes in the fight, so Cap and Rick have to walk and hitchhike their way back to New York.
  • Meanwhile, back in New York, the rest of the Avengers (minus Thor, who had personal things to deal with) decide that they should take a break from Avenging.

  • As luck would have it, their discussion is interrupted by the villain Hawkeye —- he broke into Avengers mansion to apply for Avengers membership…and they accept his application!
  • The Avengers fell the press that they are accepting new members, and this attracts the attention of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the two no-so-evil members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

  • The pair audition for the team and are accepted. As the outgoing Avengers met with the new recruits, Captain America finally returns home and is shocked to learn that his teammates are quitting.

  • Cap accepts the change surprisingly well. Even as Giant-Man, Iron Man, and the Wasp sneak out the back door, Captain America and his new teammates meet the press and make their new Avengers team official.

Is It Good?

As a story, this issue is just okay. The fight scenes feel tacked on and unnecessary, as it is pretty obvious that Stan and Jack are more interested in the changing of the guard. This isn’t helped by the fact that Kirby only does panel layouts in this issue; Dick Ayers is okay, but there are some odd panels here and there. Look at this splash page:

It’s weird that the page focuses on the Avengers and the fleeing civilians, but doesn’t show the threat, right? So, maybe when we turn the page, we’ll see the imposing foes. Nope!

The bad guys don’t show up until the fourth panel in the comic, despite being a major point of focus for the heroes. It just strikes me as odd, like there must have been a disconnect between the artists (there were three people contributing pencils) and the writer.

On the other hand, I really like the higher concept in play with this story. Changing the Avengers from Marvel’s greatest heroes to a more fluid team roster is an inspired choice. It will provide new challenges and personalities, and I expect this title to improve with their new, less powerful team.

Continuity:

  • Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp quit the Avengers, with an understanding that they are all welcome back.
  • Thor is assumed to be off the team; the roster changes were made after he went to Asgard for the Trial of the Gods. This doesn’t fit the established continuity very well; Thor asked Odin for time to fight the Absorbing Man and rescue Jane Foster in Journey Into Mystery #115, and then he headed directly to Asgard for the Trial of the Gods. Maybe this Avengers adventure took place earlier?

  • Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch join the Avengers.
  • Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch have all been super-villains prior to joining the Avengers. Apparently, the “federal security agency” vets potential Avengers.

  • Namor is offered membership in the Avengers, but turns them down. He last appeared in Daredevil #7.

  • Black Widow appears in a flashback. She and Hawkeye last appeared in Tales of Suspense #64. Apparently, her Soviet handlers tried to kill her after her last appearance; as far as we know, she is recovering from severe injuries in a hospital.

  • Edwin Jarvis last appeared in Tales of Suspense #59. He still hasn’t been named yet.
  • Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch last appeared in X-Men #11, where they quit the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
  • This vow has never been mentioned before. It also doesn’t match their last two appearances, where they considered quitting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Strange Tales #128) and when they actually left the team (X-Men #11).

  • In case you were wondering why Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch didn’t join the X-Men, it is because they are tired of mutant issues. This is a significant change from their appearance in Strange Tales #128, which ended with the pair believing they could never fit in with normal humans, and that they would only be safe or understood by mutants. It does, however fit with their desire to leave behind mutant issues in X-Men #11.

  • Magneto, Toad, and Mastermind show up in a flashback. They last appeared in X-Men #11; Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch appear unaware that Magneto and Toad have been kidnapped by the Stranger, and that Mastermind has been transformed to stone.
  • The X-Men (well, Angel, Beast, and Iceman) also appear in a flashback.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • The real-life Federal Security Agency was abolished in 1953 and became the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

  • I like that no one took the time to explain to Rick that he was t going to become an official member here. He had to listen to Iron Man’s speech to find out!

  • The Enchantress and Executioner talk a big game, but they really don’t put much effort into their villainy.  When they are not part of a larger attack group, they seem to just hang out in New York City and blend in.  It’s like they are super-villains of leisure.

  • So…the Avengers found a dimension that would specifically inhibit the attacking abilities of the Black Knight and Melter? I’m going to go ahead and undersell how ridiculous that idea is by simply saying: that’s unlikely.

  • Why don’t they just call the Avengers when they reach the city? They still have a long journey ahead of them, but they must have used commercial travel arrangements because the Avengers were surprised when they finally returned.

  • Why shouldn’t you disband? Well, you never captured the Enchantress or the Executioner. Namor is planning to conquer the surface world at some point. The Hulk is causing a lot of problems for the military, and is currently fighting Communists. Maybe the Avengers could team up to fight the Mandarin, since Iron Man hasn’t ever defeated the villain in his own. I mean, that’s what I came up with, off the top of my head.

  • There are very few work environments where shooting arrows at the butler you tied and gagged leads to being hired. Poor Jarvis.

Behind the Scenes:

  • According to Nick Caputo, the art in this issue is kind of odd. Jack Kirby is credited with layouts —- which, in his case, usually meant only bare-bones pencils —- and Dick Ayers provided the detailed pencils and inked the issue. However, there are some figures throughout the issue that appear to have been redrawn and are off the normal Kirby model.  Caputo believes this issue was touched up by an uncredited Carl Hubbell. Caputo points out several panels where the faces and bodies of specific characters — usually Giant-Man — look to be drawn in a different style than the rest of the page.  Caputo suspects that this was due to Kirby and Ayers making mistakes regarding character costumes, which makes sense because Giant-Man only recently changed his look.

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