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Flashback: Review of Avengers 51 (April 1968) July 7, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Once again we dip into some Silver Age Marvel, but luckily this one is one of the better selections from that period. Sure, it wasn’t the best comic ever published, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the last look into the Silver Age. This particular issue features the roster of Thor, Iron Man, Goliath (Pym), Wasp, and Hawkeye and begins as Pym is attempting to regain his powers. His first test fails (quite painfully), and the story soon progresses as we are introduced to the mysterious Collector. If my memory serves me right, The Collector belongs to a fraternity of beings called The Elders. I don’t remember what they do as a group, but I do know that they once tried to destroy Galactus and the universe, so that they could be the new “Galacti” of a reborn universe, and Silver Surfer had to stop them (or something like that). Anyway, that story didn’t come about until way after this, and I’m not even sure if The Elders had made an appearance yet. In this issue all we learn is that The Collector is an ancient alien being that likes to, well, collect stuff. (Why didn’t they just name him Pack-Rat-Man? 😉 ) And, having come to Earth, he decides to collect the Avengers one by one.

The first Avenger he “collects” is Thor, though this isn’t revealed until later, and he has tricked him into drinking an “obedience potion” made with Asgardian herbs (yes, I know, one of those quirky Silver Age gimmicks, but at least it makes sense in the context of the story). He then uses Thor to help him capture Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye, and later restores Goliath’s failing powers because he does not want a “defective” Avenger (bad idea buddy). As The Collector sends Thor out to retrieve Iron Man (which results in a pretty cool battle sequence), Wasp, Goliath, and Hawkeye are able to escape. This results in yet another battle, and, much to the Collector’s dismay, the destruction of many of his artifacts. When the battle causes one of his collected machines to go haywire, he is forced to use a temporal dislocator to teleport to another time (why simple teleportation wouldn’t have worked better is beyond me). With these three Avengers in a hovering ship being fast consumed by flames, all looks lost. Luckily, The Collector’s disappearance nulls the effect of the obedience potion on Thor, who has knocked Iron Man unconscious and left his armor barely functioning. Thor returns to the ship to rescue his fellow teammates, and we are left with what looks to be a happy ending.

Of course, the reader always needs to get pulled back, so we still have the vanished Collector drifting around, who we already know will pop back up. Likewise, the very end of the issue introduces a new hero called The Panther (I’m assuming this is T’Challa, the Black Panther), who will join the roster next time. So all-in-all, a fun read, but nothing you have to go hunting through back issues for. If you ever come across it, you may as well take a look at it, otherwise, nothing major missed.

Next week: Uncanny X-Men 40

-LOTRKing

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