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Longbox Junk Retro Review Avengers #58 (1968)

  • atom | Male | Utah

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I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

June 2021

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!

 
Every now and then here at Longbox Junk, I like to delve a bit into the corners of my collection that aren't so. . .well. . .Longbox Junk-y.  Those comics I own that are a little older and "worth" a little more to collectors than most of the bargain bin finds that are the meat and potatoes of this blog.
 
Case in point:  Avengers #58 from 1968.  It's regarded as a minor "Key" comic because it's the second appearance (and origin) of The Vision.  According to various sources it's "worth" a bit north or south of $200 in the condition mine is in (which is really good, considering where I got it from).  So it's not the most "valuable" comic in my collection, but it ain't nothing, either.
 
I paid five whole bucks for my copy at an antique shop, where it was hiding unbagged and forgotten among a stack of old Archie and Richie Rich comics, so how 'bout dat?  
 
The Longbox Junk price I paid for this comic just goes to show that there ARE still great old comics to be found out in the wild, and not just at the click of a mouse on the internet.  Finding this one was a very nice surprise, and really made my day.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Every now and then I delve into those corners of my collection that hold the older and more "valuable" comics, and this is one of those times!  Step this way to the Longbox Junk paper time machine, if you please. These goggles are for your safety.  Make sure to fasten your seat belts securely.
 
*Lowers ridiculous steampunk goggles and takes hold of gigantic lever with both hands*
 
Everyone ready?  Let's do this!
 
*Pulls giant lever. . .the number "1968" flashes on a screen above*
 
WEEEEEEEEEEE-OOOOOOOOOO-WEEEEEEEEEEEE-OOOOOOOOOO!!
 
And here we are! 1968. . .right in the middle of the "Mighty Marvel" era of comics!  Please remove your goggles and watch your step as you exit the Longbox Junk paper time machine.  To our left is Avengers Headquarters, where the call has gone out for Earth's mightiest heroes to assemble and ponder the possibility of adding a mysterious new member to their ranks.  
 
Follow me, please, and let's listen in. . .

THE AVENGERS #58

MARVEL COMICS (1968)

 

EVEN AN ANDROID CAN CRY
 
SCRIPT: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: John Buscema
INKS: George Klein
COVER: John Buscema
 
THE COVER:
 
By the beard of Odin! Are there any among us who will deny the greatness of this John Buscema masterpiece? I SAY THEE NAY! The stark white (well, sorta cream-colored on my copy) background perfectly frames the colorful assemblage of Avengers!  It's an almost perfect example of what makes up a classic "Team Shot" comic book cover.  When it comes to old-school superhero comic covers, it doesn't get much better than something like this, in my humble opinion.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale with a fantastic splash/title page featuring Black Panther answering an "Avengers Assemble" summons and making his way to Avengers Headquarters.  There's several great splash pages in this issue and you can bet I'm going to feature them all in this review!  This one reminds me of Eisner's Spirit title pages. . .
 

Panther is sort of new to the Avengers (he hasn't even met Iron Man or Thor yet) so he's surprised to find a room packed full of Earth's Mightiest Heroes (and we get a great half-page mini-splash group shot).  He's even more surprised to find The Vision among them, because the last Panther heard, Vision was fighting AGAINST the Avengers.
 

Vision informs Black Panther that he's there because he wants to join the Avengers.  Henry Pym (AKA Goliath) gathered the Avengers together to consider the strange request.  Panther is on board with Vision joining up, but Iron Man and Thor are hesitant.  Membership in the Avengers is a privilege not to be taken lightly and they know little about Vision's powers and nothing about his origin.  Captain America decides to put Vision to the test by attacking the mysterious android. . .
 

As several of the Avengers attack Vision, he easily defeats them without harming anyone by using his fantastic strength and power to alter his body structure from insubstantial to super-dense.  The battle ends before it gets out of hand by Goliath telling everyone that Cap had attacked in order to give a demonstration of Vision's powers.  The Avengers all agree that Vision is definitely a heavy hitter, but are still reluctant to let him join without learning more about his background.
 
 
Thor calls the meeting to order for a formal vote by reading the Avenger's scroll of membership and briefly describing the honor and distinction becoming a member of the Avengers brings to an individual. . .and in doing so, we get yet another fantastic group shot splash page!  Yeah, I know.  This review is a little more picture-heavy than usual, but just LOOK at that Buscema art!
 
 
Realizing that the Avengers need more information about his origin, Vision struggles to remember, and then with a mighty push of willpower, he manages to break through a mental block and he clearly remembers the moment of his awakening by his "Master", Ultron 5!
 
Ultron teaches Vision about his powers and that he has been created for one purpose. . .to destroy the Avengers!  Vision struggles against Ultron's commands, but his newly-created will is no match for that of the malevolent machine that has created him.
 
 
Even though Vision has remembered more of his origin, there is still some mystery surrounding him.  Henry Pym (AKA Goliath) remembers working on a similar sort of android, but is frustrated because he can't remember.  Thinking maybe he has the same kind of mental block that was preventing Vision from remembering his past, the Avengers decide to investigate Pym's abandoned laboratory and try to learn more.
 
At Pym's lab, he finds a memory recording machine and using it, he remembers that it was HE who created Ultron!  At first, Ultron was merely a crude robot, but it quickly learned and transformed into an intelligent mechanical terror!
 

Ultron attacked its creator, taking Pym by surprise and easily defeating him.  The evil robot then erased Pym's memory of the incident by using his own memory recorder on him.
 
 
As the Avengers further investigate Pym's abandoned lab, he realizes that there is a missing memory tape of Wonder Man (AKA Simon Williams).  We then get a recounting of the Avenger's earlier run-in with Wonder Man, who was secretly working with Baron Zemo when he enlisted the help of the Avengers to help him find a cure for the deadly disease he was dying of.  
 
Turning on his new allies, Wonder Man was able to defeat the Avengers before learning that Zemo planned on murdering them.  He then turned against Zemo and freed the Avengers, helping them to defeat Zemo's team of villains.

 
Unfortunately, his turning against Zemo sealed his fate.  Zemo had the only cure to Wonder Man's disease.  Knowing he was dying, the Avengers rushed him to Henry Pym's lab and made a recording of his brain patterns before he died.
 
Vision is shocked by the realization that his brain is actually the stolen pattern of Wonder Man!  The mystery of Vision's origin now mostly solved, the Avengers return to their headquarters to finally determine if Vision is worthy to join them.
 

After a short meeting, Goliath delivers the good news to Vision. . .he has been found worthy to join Earth's Mightiest Heroes!  As the other Avengers welcome the android onto the team, he remains stoic before asking for a moment to himself.
 
 
And as Vision cries with happiness out of the sight of his new comrades, the reader learns that the artificial being has more humanity in him than he is letting on, and there are still mysteries surrounding The Vision.
 
 
The End. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Part of the fun of doing these "Retro Reviews" is learning a bit about the comic at hand and increasing my general knowledge of the wonderful world of comic books.  So bear with me a bit.
 
A little research tells me that there was an editorial edict at the time preventing Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor from being regular characters in The Avengers, due to them headlining their own titles. Because of this, the appearance of the three heroes together in this issue was a bit of a special event.
 
Because the three heaviest hitters in the Avengers couldn't really be IN the Avengers on a regular basis, The Vision was the first character created specifically to be a member of the Avengers instead of appearing elsewhere and then joining up.  So there's a pretty interesting story behind the story to be found here, if you feel like looking into  it.
 
But enough of that.
 
Look, I'm gonna be honest here and admit that, comics or movies, Vision is my LEAST favorite Avenger.  I guess he just seems like a bit too much of a stretch for my comic book suspension of disbelief. Once I realized that this issue was going to be centered around the origin of The Vision, I almost didn't even want to read it.  But then there was that great John Buscema artwork waving me in and asking me to give this a fair chance. . .if only for some great pictures.
 
And guess what?  I found myself liking this story a LOT more than I thought I would.  
 
Okay, I'll admit that Vision's origin IS pretty convoluted (and it gets worse going forward through the years), especially the part about Wonder Man.  That just sort of came in out of nowhere, and reads almost like something that was thrown in at the last minute. . .but even that was sort of interesting in how they tied in a minor character from years before into the introduction of Marvel's new heavy hitter Avenger.
 
But convoluted origin aside, I found this story to be well-written and engaging.  It's told in an unusual manner, with no "villain of the month" to be found except in flashback, and delivering (what must have been pretty shocking at the time) several surprise revelations.  
 
A story like this would take twelve or more issues to tell these days, but the compressed storytelling of Roy Thomas gives the reader basically FOUR short stories in ONE issue!  Thomas doesn't waste a single word from cover to cover on this one.  It's amazing to me that so much story can be packed into so few pages.
 
And then there's the art.
 
That fantastic John Buscema cover drew me in, and his wonderful superhero art kept me in to the last page.  Every panel on every page of this comic is simply a joy to look at to begin with, and THEN Buscema threw in several awesome splash pages that you just want to keep turning back to!  Simply put, the art in this issue is classic.  It's colorful, it's expressive, it's everything I could have ever asked for in a superhero comic.
 

CONCLUSION

 
It's sad to say, but a lot of older comics seem to not have much effort put into them.  It's pretty clear to see that they were written for kids and meant to be disposable.  This is not the case with Avengers #58.
 
From the amazing cover to the final splash page of Vision hiding his emotions from his new teammates, you can see that Roy Thomas and John Buscema were creating something that they KNEW would stand the test of time. . .something that could still bring joy to a comic reader in the far off future year of 2021.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Back to the bargain bins!
 
May is Star Wars month, so how something from that galaxy far, far away?
 
Be there or be square!
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