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Comic Book / The Avengers (Lee & Kirby)

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Captain America: "Wait a moment, team. I think that the Mole Man is in the other direction!"

The Avengers is a 1963 comic book series from Marvel Comics, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Although there were changes from the very beginning, the first team is usually considered the one from Avengers 1 to Avengers 16. Several classic villains were introduced in this run.

It begins with Loki, Thor's brother and archenemy, who has been imprisoned on the Isle of Silence for his crimes. Searching for a pawn to get rid of Thor for him, he finds the Hulk. Creating an illusion of dynamite on a train track, Loki tricked the Hulk into destroying the track, prompting a manhunt for him. Figuring that the Hulk needs help, Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade send a distress call to the Fantastic Four, but it's redirected by Loki to the radio of Dr. Donald Blake, Thor's alter ego. The call was also inadvertently heard by Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp. They all defeated Loki, and organized as a team.

The Hulk would leave the following issue after realizing how much the others distrusted him, but the Avengers soon find a new member: Captain America, who was frozen in the arctic since WWII. Captain America's enemy, Baron Zemo, would create the Masters of Evil as the recurring rogues gallery of the Avengers.


  • Actually a Doombot: The team has to fight a Spider-Man robot, built by Kang. It defeats all the Avengers, only to be defeated by the real Spider-Man, who doesn't like copyright violations.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Ultimates, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the film all took some bits from these early issues. The animated series is the closest one. Same original line-up, organized by circumstances, and the name is the Wasp's initiative. The villain makes them fight against Hulk, who leaves the team in disgust. Captain America, who was frozen in the Artic after WWII, is freed and found by the Avengers, who make him their new member.
  • Ancient Astronauts: In his return, Captain America captures an alien with a weapon that turns people into stone, who crashed on Earth centuries ago and couldn't repair his ship. Cap reasons that this alien caused the myth of the medusa.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Baron Zemo, a Nazi war criminal, hiding in a jungle somewhere in South America.
  • Back for the Finale: After the Masters of Evils' first defeat, only Zemo remained, with new allies Enchantress and Executioner. Black Knight and Melter return to the team for the final battle, which was also the last adventure of the first Avengers team.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The main idea of the comic book.
  • Blood Knight: The Executioner
  • Breaking the Fellowship: When Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp take on new members, and temporarily resigned.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Loki, God of Evil!
    • And, of course, the Masters of Evil. Maybe they figured since they were being led by a genuine Nazi, subtlety was a lost cause.
  • Characterisation Click Moment: Hulk's still in his development here, but issue 3 has him start to use a certain five letter word he'll become greatly associated with to describe what he'll do to his foes.
  • Commonality Connection: Hulk, on the outs with the Avengers, strikes up a sort-of friendship with Namor, because they both hate humanity.
  • Conqueror from the Future: Kang the Conqueror
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 15: "Now, by my hand, shall perish a villain". Don't raise your hopes: Baron Zemo kills himself by accident when fighting Captain America.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Count Nefaria, one of the wealthiest men in the world, is angry because the Avengers foiled his henchmen from stealing some furs, so he arranges a complex plan to defeat them... which included moving his whole castle, stone by stone, from Europe to the US. Couldn't he simply buy those furs in the first place?
  • Dead Sidekick: Bucky, whose death haunted Captain America for quite some time.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Stan Lee accidentally forgets that through the previous six issues of Incredible Hulk, Dr. Banner's first name had been quite clearly Bruce, and starts calling him "Bob" here. After noticing, it was justified with Bruce actually being his middle name, which he prefers.
    • Can you imagine Hulk costumed as a clown, with costume and make-up, making tricks to entertain the circus audience? (and no, he was not being mind-controlled). Not a "what if...?", not a dream, not an imaginary tale, not an alternate universe, not a parody by Sergio Aragones... Avengers #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. 'nuff said!
    • When Immortus summons historical people to fight against the Avengers, he summons Hercules against Thor. Some time afterwards, Hercules was created as a steady Marvel character, and bared little resemblance with this early appearance. Kurt Busiek would retcon it as a Space Phantom disguised as Hercules in Avengers Forever.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: The Space Phantom. Why send a single alien, and not a whole army? Or, if it's too expensive, why not simply 5 Space Phantoms, and have each one replace each Avenger on a single stroke? Yes, Thor would resist, but then it would be him against "phantomed" Hulk, Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp. Well, ok, Hulk, Iron Man and Giant Man, and without the Wasp's interference...
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Loki tricks the Hulk into destroying a bridge, figuring this'll tank his reputation. He's therefore surprised when the Hulk then tries to save the oncoming train anyway (which, given this is the early Hulk, who's typically a misanthropic jerk on his best days, is actually surprising).
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: The power of the Space Phantom
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Hulk's only on the team for one issue, and he manages to be this anyway. His constant surly attitude means pretty much none of the other Avengers like him. Iron Man thinks it was a mistake letting him be a member at all, Thor's itching for a fight with him, and the Wasp is (understandably) flat-out terrified of him. Only Giant Man is willing to give him a chance.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid:
    • How everything starts. Rick Jones tries summoning the Fantastic Four to help contain the Hulk. Loki futzes with the signal so it goes to Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man instead.
    • In issue 5, Iron Man tries reaching out to the other major Marvel heroes for help hunting the Hulk. No luck. Spidey, ever one to hold the Jerkass Ball when dealing with other heroes at this point in his career, tells him to buzz off. The Thing refuses because he's got a date. The Invisible Woman refuses because she's got a fashion show to get to, and the X-Men are busy (and also tell him to buzz off).
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Hulk. Hero, villain, fugitive, sidekicker, wants to be left alone, wants to crush the Avengers, cunning, axe crazy... Lee and Kirby still hadn't decided yet what kind of character they wanted Hulk to be, besides "dangerous".
  • He Knows Too Much: The Space Phantom, having swapped places with the Hulk, stumbles upon the random stranger he'd replaced earlier trying to tell people what just happened, but none of them believe him. The Space Phantom figures there's no chance risking anyone believing him anyway, and tries to kill him.
  • He's Back!: Captain America, the old character from Timely Comics.
  • Human Popsicle: Captain America, As You Know.
  • Jumped at the Call: Strange as it may seem, but it's actually the Hulk who's first to agree to joining the Avengers.
  • Killed Off for Real: Baron Heinrich Zemo. He never came back to life (except as a living mook or similar stuff). Have in mind that the modern Baron Zemo is Helmut Zemo, his son, not him, just a Legacy Character.
  • Legion of Doom: The Masters of Evil.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • Loki's entire scheme was to get Thor to fight the Hulk. Didn't quite go how he wanted... they do fight, but once it turns out Loki's responsible, they gang up on him.
    • Issue 2. The Space Phantom imitates the Hulk by switching places with him, then attacks people, then switches place with someone else. Still, by the time the team works out what's happened, the damage is done.
  • Man of Kryptonite: The Melter was this to Iron Man, seeing as his beams could melt metal.
  • Missed the Call: Everything began with it. If the Fantastic Four got the distress call in time, the Avengers would not have existed.
  • The Mole: Deconstructed by Wonder Man. Befriending genuinely good people who treat you better than your supposed real friends leads to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Nice job, Loki. If not for you, the Avengers would have not existed.
  • Put on a Bus: The founding Avengers, to make way for Cap's Kooky Quartet, with Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, and the Wasp continuing their adventures in their own books.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Wonder Man, but you should already know the end of that story
  • Refused by the Call: Rick Jones, a mere teenager with no powers, thought that he could be in the same team as an Asgardian God, a science genius with a battle armor, another science genius and his assistant who can change their size, and a World War II living legend. Good luck! He couldn't even become Captain America's sidekick.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Although he's set up as one of Captain America's enemies from the war, Zemo was first introduced in the pages of the Avengers.
  • Saying Too Much: When Don Blake makes a joke about Jane Foster loving him, she immediately blurts out "who said I love you?!" Don's a bit too distracted by his newspaper to notice this, or the fact Jane's blushing bright enough to be a tomato.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Hulk is a founding member of the team, but after the Space Phantom's manipulations in issue 2, he leaves in a mood, thinking the Avengers don't trust him. He wouldn't officially rejoin the Avengers, angrily rejecting any attempt to reconnect, up until Avengers Vs. X-Men in 2012.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Captain America, the old character of Timely Comics, has returned, and the Avengers are fighting against Namor, another character from Timely, who returned some time ago in the Fantastic Four comic book. Captain America heads to him, to the battle between both classic characters... and Namor simply tosses him aside, in a single panel. This was lampshaded some years later in the Avengers-Defenders crossover.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: When Hulk leaves the team, Namor was spying on him.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Hulk and Namor's team-up... isn't. Their interior monologues make it clear they can't stand one another, and are totally prepared to betray one another when the time comes.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: Iron Man vs. Merlin. 'Nuff said!
  • Villain Team-Up: Namor and Hulk, and the Mole Man and the Red Ghost.
  • Wedding Episode: Issue 60 was centered around the wedding of the Wasp and Yellowjacket. The Circus of Crime ended up crashing the ceremony, ostensibly to challenge Thor (who wasn't even there); naturally, they got their butts kicked.
  • Worthy Opponent: Namor escapes in issue 3 because Thor figures after the fight he's just given the Avengers he deserves to go free.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: When he woke up, Captain America outmatches all the Avengers... and refuses to fight against the Wasp.