|Growing up on a council estate, we had no sense of hardship - quite the |
opposite. It was a community. We lived in the top left flat, 30b.
|The local kids would turn bombed-out house into dens, |
where we'd hang out with our mates and read and swap comics.
(Hue and Cry, © 1947, Ealing Studios)
I had already decided that Captain America was my favourite character and set about tracking down as many books starring my hero as I could. The next item I was able to find was the second part of the story I began reading in my first Avengers comic, with good old CA right there, almost as large as life, on the cover.
|Avengers 16 (May 1965) would have been on sale in the UK during the summer of 1965, just as I was turning 11 years old. I wasn't sure why there were so many supervillains on the cover, but I'd find out soon enough ...|
So Captain America returned from his fateful battle with his arch-enemy, Zemo, to find that not only were there three new Avengers on the team, but also that he was in charge of them. And it doesn't take him long to discover that he doesn't especially enjoy his new management position. Then Iron Man and Giant-Man (prodded by The Wasp) take off and leave Cap to it. Thanks, guys ...
|Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver remark on how different|
the atmosphere here is compared to their last team gig.
With Captain America, it was less complicated. The Tales of Suspense stories had Cap in a WWII setting while he led the Avengers in the present. I still wasn't sure how Cap could be in his twenties in 1944 and the same age in 1964 - but that conundrum would be answered in due course. Issue 65 of Suspense came out the same month as Avengers 16. And there was Captain America taking the lead slot on the cover battling The Red Skull and his nasty Nazi henchpersons. And it's a great story - what's not to love about The Red Skull?
|The split-cover design of these former mystery tales |
anthologies must have been murder for the artists.
|A classic split-cover drawn by Jack Kirby|
and inked by Frank Giacoia.
The Captain America story reveals to us the origin of the Red Skull. It's the story of how a nobody - we never see his real face - is chosen at random by Der Fuehrer to be the living symbol of Naziism, an Axis counterpart to our red-white-and-blue hero. The tale ends with the evil Skull brainwashing Cap to be ... a Nazi. Too horrible to contemplate.
|As Ben Grimm would say, Wotta revolting development |
this is. Cap under the control of The Red Skull.
|Now what was this all about? Did Stan think that|
leaving the colour out might save a few bucks?
More likely, it was a deadline issue ...
|The first real mission for the new Avengers lineup was to track |
down the Hulk and persuade him to return to the team ...
|The first "classic" Marvel Comic I ever owned,|
traded from a local kid for several DC comics.
|So it was true ... The Hulk was an Avenger.|
|Though he speaks about himself in the third person, something later |
versions would also do, this Hulk seems more like Fantastic Four's Thing ...
|Stan took some stick for mis-naming Bruce Banner "Bob" |
in two panels this issue. He explained it away later by claiming
that Banner's name was really Robert Bruce, but he was fooling no one.
By the end of the story, the Avengers are down a member, have a new enemy in Prince Namor and a savage Hulk is still at large. A great day's work for your average Marvel super-team. Within a few issues the page-length would drop, until by Avengers 10, the team had the standard 20 pages to work with, and while these stories were fun too, they didn't have the big budget feel of Avengers 3.