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Stand thee back, stalwart fellows, whilst Thor smashes our problems with his mighty hammer! – The Avengers #12

July 19, 2010

If the whole “Ed Norton out of The Avengers” bombshell did nothing else, at least it served to remind me that I haven’t yet featured an issue from Marvel’s greatest all-star team. It’s an omission that I’m happy to remedy, and why not do it with the earliest issue that I currently own? And why not one which features my favorite incarnation of the group? Hey, two birds with one stone!

So here we go. 

“This Hostage Earth!” is scripted by Stan Lee with art from Don Heck and Dick Ayers. The story opens with Giant-Man/Ant-Man’s ant sentries warning him of something big going down underground, and he wastes no time calling in his partners:

Don’t think that things always go smoothly at the club meetings — this one breaks up pretty quickly:

Giant-Man goes off to investigate the trouble all by himself, but he’s soon captured by the Mole Man’s henchmen. That myopic villain is engaged in one of his usual schemes to destroy the surface world, and things soon start shaking and rattling across the globe.

The Wasp reassembles the team, and there’s plenty of regret to go around:

They figure out that Mole Man is behind all the ruckus, but before they can spring into action, his army attacks:

They fight them off with little effort, but all the attckers disappear in a mysterious mist. Hmmm.

The Avengers figure out a way to blast their way down into the Earth to get at the Mole Man and rescue their friend, but they need some parts to get this machine, an invention of Stark’s, to function. Cap and Rick Jones — who shows up out of nowhere — head off to retrieve them, but some thugs are trying to steal Stark’s stuff. Cap springs into action and goes all ape$#!+ when one of the goons tries to beat up Rick. Maybe it’s just me, but this panel is reminiscent of some of Steve Ditko’s concurrent work on The Amazing Spider-Man:

Soon the Avengers are back together under one roof, and Thor reveals a power of Mjolnir that I had never heard of before — if the whole hero-god thing doesn’t work out, he can always get work siting wells in the Midwest:

Meanwhile, in his underground lair, Mole Man discovers who dragged his minions out of their battle with the Avengers — *gasp*, it’s the Red Ghost:

The Avengers get their doohickey running and blast their way to the rescue:

You have to love how Thor refers to Wasp as “female” — at least he didn’t break out a “Hey, you’re lucky I let you tag along, toots!”

Now the big battle begins, and the not-so-fearsome tandem of Mole Man and Red Ghost proves to be no match for our heroes. The Avengers run roughshod over everything, rescue Giant-Man, and use a combat tactic that would make Scooby-Doo and Shaggy proud:

All is, once again, right in the Marvel Universe.

The character beats make this issue for me, especially those from my beloved Thor. His hotheaded exit from the first meeting and his remorseful resolve to rescue his friend fit right in with my conceptions of what this guy is all about. The team dynamics from this era make the entire issue a blast to read, though the Red Ghost appearing out of nowhere (like Rick Jones) added absolutely nothing to the plot.

Here’s hoping that the movie version isn’t a clossal cluster#&%*.

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