Avengers: “I Am An Avenger” Graphic Novel Review.

Collecting Avengers issues 1, 16, 137, 151, 181, 211, 221, 300, and 329.

From a ton of people! Here is the credits page.

If you’re new here, know that I love the Avengers. I started reading West Coast Avengers and then crossed over to the main book too. The rebuilding in 300. Acts of Vengeance, Nebula, Rage, and all sorts of crazy villains. Up to the jacket era.

There is so much I missed in the near 300 issues before I started reading the title. This collection gives a good look at different eras of Avengers. It’s also a good look at future back issue purchases for me.

When the Avengers started (in issue 1, reprinted in this book) Loki was trying to use the Hulk to take out Thor. Along the way Iron Man, Ant Man, and the Wasp joined this adventure. After defeating Loki these heroes decided to stay together to fight evil that is too great for one hero.

Hulk left soon after. Captain America returned in issue 4. Come issue 16 it was time to shake things up. The Avengers became not just a collection of the world’s mightiest heroes. It also became a way to train heroes to become mighty. Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver – all reformed villains – pledge to help humanity and live up to the Avengers name. This idea morphs into the “probationary” Avengers who aren’t official but are in training to become so. Jocasta, Hellcat, and even in the last issue the former Spider-Man villain – the Sandman.

Members coming and going is a staple of not only the Avengers, but all team books. However, sometimes there is this desire for an official big deal this is the new team issue. Clear starts and stops even though some members carry over. I have liked some of these. The previously mentioned issue 300 was one of my first comics and I feel like I remember exactly what store I bought it at off the spinner rack. Issue 329 was fun especially after seeing multiple members come and go for the last 2 years.

Then there’s issues like 181 where the United States government decides there’s too many Avengers and in order to maintain their security credentials they have to limit themselves to 7 members. Which is crazy, because half the “team” just got done teaming up for a previous adventure and are taking off anyways.

That’s where it starts getting interesting though. To see the different eras of the Avengers. The original Stan and Jack stories are great. I loved what I was reading as a kid. But I also see a desire for a more mature story while still being safe for kids. Moondragon as a goddess who is cocky, arrogant, follows her own desires and screw what the team wants is an annoying character. But how is that any different than Thor at the time? Even in the first Avengers story he takes off without explaining why to his teammates. Janet Van Dyne grows from the Ant-Man’s man crazy shrew partner into a leader in business and heroics.

Best of all though is a thing team books can do that solo titles can’t. Throw together people who would never cross paths otherwise. Hawkeye and She-Hulk have amazing chemistry. Thor and Spider-Man hanging out is a brilliant scene that really explores the diversity of the Marvel Universe. And I need a checklist to buy all issues where the Beast and Wonder Man hang out. I know they’re friends but by the time West Coast Avengers came along, Beast was in another book. These two are so funny and enjoyable together. A compliment and counter to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold over at the Distinguished Competition.

As great as these interactions are, the Marvel Universe was diverse but not yet diverse enough. Not a single one of these new teams, until the last issue, have a Black hero. Green, blue, but not Black. There’s even a in character reference asking why there aren’t more women. In the last issue of the collection Rage himself brings up this omission and wants to join in order to rectify that. The substitute team from issue 329 includes three Black heroes, but the main team still has zero.

This is a great collection not only of Avengers but also how comics have changed and evolved. Avengers 1 was in 1963 and issue 329 is from 1991. Which means next year we’re due for an all new 30 year Avengers retrospective. The second 30 years have seen more members, more changes, and more diversity than the first 30. Everyone is allowed and invited to Assemble.

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