Covering Comics #1 – Avengers Vol. 1 #54-60, King-Size Special #2

I’ve often said that I miss the comics covers of old. Those covers were designed, unlike many of the ones being produced today which are merely mini-posters spotlighting the titular character without giving any indication of the story contained inside, to draw readers in and make them anxious about actually reading the stories contained therein. Of course, this was also a time when comic books could be found all over the place, from newsstands to the local drug store, as opposed to only in specialty comic-book shops, and they were largely focused on catching the eye of someone just passing by the comics rack instead of depending pretty solely on regular readers who are willing to go every Wednesday to get their weekly fix, but that’s a discussion for another time, I suppose. Anyway, “Covering Comics” is going to be a probably irregular series of posts where I take a look at various covers from the past, highlighting some of my personal favorites, or other covers of note for one reason or another.

Today’s selection of covers is a result of watching the two latest Marvel movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. (BTW, while I did enjoy Ultron, I really liked Ant-Man, which I’m willing to argue – and probably will in an upcoming post- may turn out to be the best heist movie out this year.) Coming out of those movies it’s easy for a long-time comics reader like me to note just how far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has diverged from the comic stories hat form the basis of these two movies, a topic I suppose I could rant about, as I’m sure others have, but really, in this case it doesn’t matter because a) I’m simply not that much of a purist that I’m not willing to accept the two “universes” as their own separate entities, and most importantly b) as long as the movies continue to be entertaining and well-written enough, I’m willing to just let that go.

I do suppose, however, that I should go ahead and throw up a quick ***SPOILER WARNING*** for those who might not hve ever read these comics before, or who may not have yet seen these movies, because although i don’t intend to do a lot of commentary here, preferring to let the covers speak for themselves, I will be providing quick notes about why they are relevant to these two movies, and the way the stories played out in the comics as opposed to the movies. so consider yourselves forewarned.

(BTW, all of these covers are from the first series of The Avengers, and were originally published from late 1968 to early 1969.)

First up is Avengers #54 which sees the Avengers attacked by “The New Masters of Evil”, who are led by a mysterious figure known only as The Crimson Cowl.

av54

Next, in #55, it’s revealed the The Crimson Cowl is in reality a robot who calls himself Ultron 5.

av55

#56 takes us on a bit of a diversion, as Captain America and his fellow Avengers use Dr. Doom’s time machine to go back in time to seek out the truth behind his WWII sidekick Bucky’s death.

av56

Avengers King-Size Special #2 follows up from #56, in a story that finds the Avengers diverted in time (sort of) to fight an earlier version of the team (well, maybe… I’ll leave it to those of you interested enough to seek out the issue to see what the truth really is).

ava2

In #57 we’re finally back in the present, and Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp (who in the comics universe at this point is the girlfriend of Giant-Man – the original Ant-Man who has quit shrinking and instead now grows to gigantic proportions – Hank Pym) terrorized by a mysterious new character, The Vision. It is eventually revealed that The Vision has been sent by his creator – the returning Ultron 5 to fight the Avengers and lead them to his (Ultron’s) lair where he can destroy them.

av57

#58 continues this story as we learn the secrets behind the origin of the Vision.

av58

#59 sees the appearance of a new, extremely cocky hero (?) who calls himself Yellowjacket who, after capturing a few criminals to prove his worth, takes on the Avengers in their own mansion in order to prove that he should be allowed to join the team. The issue ends with a surprising revelation by Janet, who declares that she intends to marry Yellowjacket. (BTW, I should note that YJ also claims to have killed Hank Pym, making the Wasp’s declaration all that much more surprising.)

av59

Finally, issue 60 brings us the wedding of the Wasp and Yellowjacket (yes, they do go through with it) which, as was tradition in those days, could not take place without some kind of supervillain interruption. Eventually, of course, the villains are defeated, and evrything is explained, including the secret identity of the Yellowjacket, and the true story behind Hank Pym’s death. Oh, and yes, all of this does tie back into the creation of Ultron, too.

19059

So there you go. A series of iconic covers (the one for #57 especially has to be called out) and the stories they contain. So what do you think of their effectiveness? Do they make you want to read the story inside? And how do you think they compare to the current crop of covers seen in comics shops – especially those used by the”Big 2″ comics companies? Lemme know in the comments below.

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