What hath The Baron wrought?

With his "Baron Re-Reads the JSA" thread, he has inspired us all. Currently John Dunbar is writing a "Dunbar Re-Reads Thor" thread, which calls out for an accompanying "Avengers" thread, at least while Thor is part of that team. So here goes:

AVENGERS #1 (Sep 63)

"The Coming of The Avengers!"

Written by Stan Lee

Drawn by Jack Kirby

Inked by Dick Ayers

Lettered by Sam Rosen

What They're Up To: Ant-Man and The Wasp fight Trago, "The Man with the Magic Trumpet!", in Tales to Astonish #47. Iron Man stars in "The Icy Fingers of Jack Frost!" in Tales of Suspense #45. Thor battles the guy who will become Maha Yogi in "Mad Merlin!" in Journey into Mystery #96.

Synopsis: The story opens on the Isle of Silence in Asgard, where an exiled Loki plots revenge on Thor for his recent defeats at The Thunderer's hand (see Dunbar Re-Reads Thor). By means of "thought projection" Loki peeks in on Thor's civilian identity, Don Blake, doing good on Earth. But defeating Blake would be a "hollow victory" and only defeating Thor will make Loki happy. So he scours the Earth for a threat to force the Thunder God to respond -- and discovers the Hulk. "A huge human figure ... flying through the air! How is that possible?"

Determining that the figure is the Hulk -- apparently Loki keeps up with current events, and recognizes ol' Greenskin -- the Asgardian projects an illusion of TNT on a railroad track, so that the Hulk will accidentally destroy the track and be blamed for a train wreck. This "diabolical scheme" -- yes, Loki calls it that -- works, because even though the Hulk manages to save the train, word goes out that the Hulk is on a rampage.

Rick Jones, Hulk sidekick and leader of The Teen Brigade (formed in Incredible Hulk #6, May 63), decides that "if the Hulk is innocent, he needs help, fast! And if he's guilty, it'll take more than an army to stop 'im!" The solution: Call the Fantastic Four! But Loki diverts the call -- so that it comes out of Don Blake's radio! "Strange," muses Blake. "Sounds like a call for Thor!"

Of course it is! All radio messages that begin "Calling the Fantastic Four" are a call for Thor!

But others have received the message, too, probably because Loki is the God of Evil, not the God of Paying Attention to Detail. Ant-Man and the Wasp have somehow heard it, and Tony "Iron Man" Stark happened to be on the right frequency. The Fantastic Four actually got the message, too -- they're busy, but Reed says his "calculations" say the Teen Brigade will have company soon.

Mighty smart guy, that Reed Richards, because Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and Wasp show up at Teen Brigade HQ. "It would seem the gang's all here, eh, lads?" quips that the ever-urbane Tony Stark. But while everybody's doing "Wassup!" Loki projects another illusion in Thor's field of vision, of the Hulk bounding by. Thor gives chase, and when he determines it's an illusion, sees his half-brother's yellow-gauntleted hand in the matter. He hies himself off to Asgard, to give Loki such a noogie.

Undeterred by Thor's disappearance, Iron Man says they'll carry on, and Ant-Man's ants report an incredibly strong guy at a nearby circus. It's the Hulk, dressed as a clown! (Let me repeat that: It's the Hulk, dressed as a clown!) The circus owners think he's an incredibly powerful robot that they just happened to stumble across, because ... well, we can only assume they are as dumb as a bag of hammers.

Ant-Man attacks! He has ants dig a hole that the Hulk falls into! Oh, the indignity! He has ants drop a barrel on the Hulk! Oh,the irritation! Then The Wasp attacks, by flying around Hulk in an annoying fashion! Oh, the humanity! But Hulk prevails, by smashing, except for The Wasp, whom he defeats with a fireplace bellows, which happens to be lying there at the circus. (Well, he can't just smash a girl, can he? It's 1963!)

And in defense of The Wasp's battle tactics, she was actually trying to draw Hulk under a net, that Ant-Man's ants have set up. And it works, in that the Hulk gets under the net, and runs into it while trying to leap away. Of course, it barely slows him down, but hey, it's Ant-Man! What do you want, repulsor rays?

Speaking which, now it's Iron Man's turn! So the Hulk hits him in the chest! And then ... OK, then Iron Man falls down. "Can't go after him until I repair my battery," thinks Iron Man. But as the Hulk flees, Iron Man pleads with him, "Hulk ... wait! I want to help you! You can't remain a fugitive forever! Come back!!"

This is called foreshadowing.

Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Thor pleads with Odin to let him have a little chinwag with Loki. Odin approves but says he cannot interfere, as he loves both his sons equally. (Honestly, he may be the All-Father, but he'll never win Parent of the Year.) Anyway, so be it!

Thor takes a dragon-prowed skiff -- he IS a Viking, after all -- to the Isle of Silence. Loki attacks with animated trees, which Thor buzzes through by spinning his hammer like a buzzsaw. Loki attacks with "volcanic gas globules," which Thor avoids by diving underwater. He whips up a waterspout to carry  him to Loki, and he throws his hammer, which Loki deflects by freezing the air. But then Loki springs his REAL trap: Trolls! The "Silent Ones" for whom the island is named! One grabs Thor, and Loki crows that nothing can break the grip of a troll -- it the troll that gave rise to the "Old Man of the Sea" legend of Sinbad fame!

But as Thor is dragged underground, he pounds the handle of his hammer on the ground, summoning lightning, which blinds the underground-living troll. Loki uses multiple images to fool the Thunder God, who blows them all away by spinning his hammer. Then he uses his hammer to soak up "the magnetic currents that give life to the trolls below!' Which somehow magnetizes Loki to his hammer, and off they go to Earth, because Loki "has much to atone for!"

Meanwhile, Iron Man has chased Hulk to an auto factory -- I had no idea Detroit had a suburb in the Southwest, but whatever -- and throws tires at the Hulk. The Hulk fashions a metal bow and arrow, but Iron Man catches the arrow and turns it into a big grapple, and pins the Hulk! But the Hulk pushes through the wall! "I never expected that!" exclaims Iron Man, who evidently has not been paying attention.

But just as the Invincible One and the Incredible One are squaring off for another round -- Stark has decided the Hulk is too dangerous to run around loose -- Thor arrives with Loki, and rats his half-brother out. "Let me at 'im!" roars the Hulk, but Loki has one more ace up his sleeve -- he turns radioactive! (Which shouldn't bother the Hulk, but it does!)

Fortunately, Ant-Man orders some ants to open a convenient trap door under Loki, who slides down a convenient tunnel into a convenient lead-lined tank! Thor helpfully explains "This is where the trucks that carry radioactive wastes from atomic tests dump their loads for eventual disposal in the ocean!"

There are only four panels left, but you know what happens next. Ant-Man and Wasp suggest they team up in a regular fashion, and everybody decides that's a swell idea, even the Hulk, who is "sick of bein' hunted and hounded!" Hey, maybe Iron Man's speech did some good! Oh, and The Wasp suggests the name Avengers, even though it doesn't make much sense (who are they avenging?), but nobody argues with the cute chick, and a legend is born.


My ranking: 9/10.

OK, I admit that synopsis probably took longer to read than the comic book did. But I wanted to mention every salient element in this book, surely among the most important in the series, if not Marvel history.

There's a story going around that Avengers came to be because Bill Everett was really late on Daredevil #1, which was supposed to come out on Sep 63 instead. That apparently is true! It seems to arise from this Spring.Me post by Marvel uber-editor Tom Brevoort:

"Martin Goodman, Marvel's publisher at the time, was famous for flooding the market with anything that worked. So in early 1963, after the first bunch of Marvel super hero releases started to hit, he told Stan, 'Give me another Spider-Man and another Fantastic Four.' In other words, new characters who were very much like those characters, and would appeal to the same audience. So two books were started: X-Men, which was the Fantastic Four-style book (and even says so on the first two covers) with a team of heroes in identical blue costumes fighting a guy who resembles Doctor Doom on the cover; and Daredevil, which was the Spider-Man book (and says so on the first cover as well), the quippy urban adventurer. Now, Stan was smart enough to do more with these characters and concepts that simply knocking off his earlier characters, but that's where they started. But Bill Everett, with whom Stan co-created Daredevil, had both a day job and a drinking problem. And so production on DAREDEVIL #1 fell way behind. In those days, you booked print time way ahead of time -- and if your book wasn't ready, you paid for the printing time anyway. So it was vital to get something to press on time. But Bill Everett was a favorite of Martin Goodman, stemming back to the '40s when he created the Sub-Mariner. Regardless, there was suddenly a hole in the schedule, with no book where a book should be. In trying to solve this problem, Stan hit on the notion of doing a strip that brought all of the heroes together JLA style -- that would be a book that wouldn't require any ramp-up time, because the characters (and even the villain) all existed already. So he and Jack Kirby brainstormed the first issue, Kirby drew it up hastily, Dick Ayers inked it in what looks like no time flat, and it came out the same month as X-MEN #1. (DAREDEVIL #1 followed around six months later -- with Steve Ditko pitching in to help finish it up, and with a different artist on it beginning with #2.)"

How about that? I've been reading Avengers for 51 years, and didn't know that until this month.

But even though it appears Avengers was thrown together at the last minute, I have to give it high marks for being a blisteringly paced action story that nevertheless worked in tons of exposition about the nascent Marvel Universe and a lot of personality bits.

On personality:

* We see Rick Jones' loyalty to the Hulk.

* We see Wasp making flighty comments about everyone, from "dreamy" Thor  to "hideous" Iron Man.

* We see Ant-Man being a tightass.

* We see Reed Richards being really smart.

* We see Thing be cranky, and Sue scold him.

* Loki could kill Blake any time, but wants to fight -- and beat -- Thor at full power.

Great fun! As to powers:

* Thor makes sure we know he can't fly, but instead follows Hulk " ... by hurling my mighty hammer and holding onto its unbreakable thong!"

* Thor using Mjolnir to gather magnetic currents is the New Hammer Power for this issue.

* We see Tony Stark lounging in his chestplate .. because he can't take it off. We also see that Iron Man can't battle if his "battery" is damaged. (Say, maybe this guy isn't really invincible!)

* We see Ant-Man's mode of travel, and a myriad use of ants. We did NOT see him at full size, which is odd, but I guess we'll more than make up for that next issue!

Other observations:

* No matter how hard Lee works at it, Ant-Man is fundamentally superfluous in this issue. His attacks are weak, and his strategies usually require tremendous coincidence to function, although they fail anyway. I'm guessing it was Lee struggling through this issue that made him re-think this whole Ant-Man business, resulting in Giant-Man (with the next issue).

* Iron Man may be strong, but he's really vulnerable. I mean, punch him in the chest and he goes down.

* In fact, none of them are a match for the Hulk, individually or together. That, like Ant-Man's uselessness, becomes apparent pretty early on, as all they're doing is slowing the Hulk down as he tries to run away. God help them if he turns to fight.

* It's conventional wisdom that Stan Lee thought the perfect number for a team was four, and this grouping of Avengers is pretty much four. Yes, there's The Wasp, but she's written as a flighty ornament -- at best, a distraction for the bad guy while the menfolk figure out a plan. This is really a four-man -- and I emphasize "man" -- team. This is before women's lib, after all, and is written by a guy who grew up in the '40s.

* We have never seen trolls like the ones here, or powers like the ones they exhibit here, and we never will again.

Now for some speculation.

Why these four guys? Well, for one thing, they were pretty much the bulk of the Marvel Universe in September, 1963. The X-Men came out the same month, so none of them were available, even if Stan was inclined to use one (which I doubt). Dr. Strange had debuted the month before, but in a throwaway five-pager in the back of Strange Tales -- not a world-beater yet. The presumed break-out star of the Fantastic Four already had a solo series, so the Human Torch (and the rest of his team) were out. Stan Lee has consistently said for 50 years that he was afraid to put Spider-Man in the Avengers, for fear it would ruin his cool "outsider" status -- and I believe him.

Outside of those characters, the only headliners left were Thor, Iron Man and Ant-Man.

So why the Hulk? Lee says in various books that it was to cause friction in the group, to put in a testy guy as a story launcher. That may be true. But I also think it was to give Hulk a regular spotlight after losing his book, because Lee had faith in him ... and because *I think* Lee was peeved that Martin Goodman had canceled Incredible Hulk to make room for a Two-Gun Kid revival. That last part is pure speculation on my part, but if I were Lee I'd have been peeved, and determined to make the Hulk a success. Your mileage may vary.

In summary, I give this book high marks because it is a great example of what was so cool about Marvel in the early '60s. Lots of action. Lots of personality. The story racing along so breathlessly that you don't have time to stop and notice the flaws. Plus, everybody not getting along. I mean, the bulk of the book is Hulk vs. the rest of the team! Can you imagine, for example, the Justice League forming because everyone ganged up on Martian Manhunter, while Superman fought solo with Lex Luthor on another planet? That sort of thing just wasn't done at Silver Age DC, but Lee & Kirby plowed through a dozen comic-book writer's "thou shalt nots" with this one issue, and it was great fun.

Then and now, Avengers #1 is a hoot!

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Yea, it would be a while before Iron Man became 'the second most powerful Avenger', but I think on a whole there was less power and wholesale destruction in the early days of the comic.  Past few years destroying cities and worlds have happened so often I've become numb to it all.

I really don't know what Lee was thinking, but my thinking is that Hulk was redundant on the team. Thor's just as strong, and has a myriad of other visual, non-punchy powers as well. And then Giant-Man came along, who was equally redundant in the strength department (actually superfluous), but had other options as well. Hulk was just Hulk, and his one trick was redundant.

Also, I wish they'd have expanded on the Wasp being "sensitive to certain stimuli" thing, instead of it being a throwaway plot device in one panel. One way to have had Ant-Man and Wasp be useful would have been if they could detected things beyond human senses. They're not powerhouses, so maybe they could have been the ones telling the powerhouses who to hit. That's pretty useful sometimes.

I find it interesting that more wasn't made of Ant-Man's ability to communicate with ants.  If for no other reason than it would give you a great spy network, it would be useful--even moreso than having them dig holes under foes.

Of course, you had the same issue with Hawkman in Justice League Of America, so I guess the ability to communicate with common animals isn't very widely regarded in comics.

I seem to recall that Ant-Man did use his ants as a spy network in some of the early TTA stories.  But then he became Giant-Man and the ants were rarely heard from again.  I wonder if their feelings were hurt.

Maybe he didn't think of this consciously, but in having the Hulk leave and become a sort of enemy he was placing the Avengers outside of the Fantastic Four family style series. No one can really leave the FF, but with the Hulk leaving the Avengers become a different type of tittle. The mu at that time only had the two teams and maybe Stan just wanted some distance between the two of them.

Captain Comics said:

I really don't know what Lee was thinking, but my thinking is that Hulk was redundant on the team. Thor's just as strong, and has a myriad of other visual, non-punchy powers as well. And then Giant-Man came along, who was equally redundant in the strength department (actually superfluous), but had other options as well. Hulk was just Hulk, and his one trick was redundant.

Also, I wish they'd have expanded on the Wasp being "sensitive to certain stimuli" thing, instead of it being a throwaway plot device in one panel. One way to have had Ant-Man and Wasp be useful would have been if they could detected things beyond human senses. They're not powerhouses, so maybe they could have been the ones telling the powerhouses who to hit. That's pretty useful sometimes.

Ant-Man used the ants to find the Hulk in the first issue -- they're the ones who reported the really strong guy at the circus in clown makeup. But we'll soon see if that continues.

Likely Lee only used the Hulk as an original member because not only was he available, but this did give the Hulk more exposure and could be used for some instant drama in the team ala the way the Thing was used in the early issues of the FF.  Over in the X-Men, Lee originally characterized the Beast much like the Thing too but thought better of it soon on, transforming Hank McCoy into the most verbose & literate member of the merry mutants.
Captain Comics said:

I really don't know what Lee was thinking, but my thinking is that Hulk was redundant on the team. Thor's just as strong, and has a myriad of other visual, non-punchy powers as well. And then Giant-Man came along, who was equally redundant in the strength department (actually superfluous), but had other options as well. Hulk was just Hulk, and his one trick was redundant.

Also, I wish they'd have expanded on the Wasp being "sensitive to certain stimuli" thing, instead of it being a throwaway plot device in one panel. One way to have had Ant-Man and Wasp be useful would have been if they could detected things beyond human senses. They're not powerhouses, so maybe they could have been the ones telling the powerhouses who to hit. That's pretty useful sometimes.

AVENGERS #3 (Jan 64)

"The Avengers Meet ... Sub-Mariner!"

Written by Stan Lee

Drawn by Jack Kirby

Inked by Paul Reinman

Lettered by Sam Rosen

What They're Up To: Thor battles "The Master Plan of Mr. Hyde!" in Journey into Mystery #100. "The New Iron Man Meets the Angel!" in Tales of Suspense #49. Giant-Man and Wasp have a "Showdown with the Human Top!" in Tales to Astonish #51.

Synopsis: The remaining Avengers agree they must track down the Hulk. Iron Man uses an "image projector," where he sends an image of himself to other places, and interacts with people there. (It looks a lot like Dr. Strange's ectoplasmic form.) Iron Man visits the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the X-Men. (He says he takes the liberty of barging in on the X-Men because Angel essentially said he could, when they met in this month's Tales of Suspense.) However, all of the other heroes are busy with their own affairs. That's when Thor suggests they get in touch with Rick Jones.

Rick goes to the Hulk's "stomping grounds," finds him, and talks him into going back to his hideout cave. Rick uses the gamma machine to transform Hulk into Banner, who immediately goes to sleep. Rick is concerned that the Hulk is getting harder and harder to control. But within a page, the Hulk returns and bursts through the cave wall, ignoring Rick's calls. "He doesn't even hear me!" Rick says. "He's completely out of control!" Rick calls the Avengers, telling them Hulk's on a rampage in "Sector B" of New Mexico.

After a panel where Tony Stark reminds the readers himself that the Avengers don't know each other's identities, he heads for New Mexico by boot jet. Hank and Jan fly (on flying ant and wing-power, respectively) to the nearest airport. Thor hammers his way there. Iron Man arrives first ("Having been the first to leave," the omniscient narrator intones, "Iron Man is the first to arrive ... ) He and the Hulk mix it up, with Iron Man trying to talk Hulk down. Meanwhile, Ant-Man and Wasp arrive and they order ants to block up an underground stream, which explodes in the Hulk's face. Iron Man spins the Hulk with his magnetic repulsors, while Thor arrives.

"Hear me Hulk!" he says. "I am not as merciful as Iron Man! I order you to return to the Avengers, or suffer my wrath!"

Evidently, diplomacy isn't big in Asgard. The Hulk refuses, and jumps off. Thor and Iron Man take off after him, but Hulk reverses and goes back down while they go up! (It's oddly funny.) Hulk ducks through an old mining tunnel, plowing up through the ground as a train whistles by, which he jumps on. The Avengers pursue, and, in a literally running battle, Hulk throws all kinds of things at them -- boxcars, a crane, a steel cable and enough flour to blind them all so that he can get away. The Avengers are left frustrated, complaining that they are pulling their punches while "Hulk tries every savage trick in the book!"

Hulk makes his way to the Pacific Ocean, where he floats around until, utterly exhausted, he is picked up by a passing ship, which radios Washington. But the Sub-Mariner intercepts the message, and is waiting when the Hulk eventually jumps off the ship. He offers an alliance, but they fight instead (of course). Subby drags Hulk into the sea, where he defeats him. "You are the strongest of land creatures! While I am completely invincible ... in the sea!!" Subby repeats his offer, and Hulk agrees. Sub-Mariner decides their first act will be to destroy the Avengers, and he picks Gibraltar as the battleground. He radios the Avengers a challenge. (Meanwhile, both Hulk and Sub-Mariner plot to double-cross the other.)

The Avengers arrive and they battle for several pages, making use of the World War II tunnels and equipment left lying around, conveniently still operational. (Iron Man is taken out briefly by a little gun the Sub-Mariner fires that fills his armor with emory dust -- which must be something the Atlantean brought.) The Wasp is knocked out by the concussion of Hulk hitting a wall, and is nearly trampled. Iron Man gets one of those punches in the chest from Sub-Mariner that seem to take him out handily. Subbie and Hulk double-team Thor, where Hulk learns that he can't move Thor's hammer. But Giant-Man intervenes, and as Hulk falls back, he unexpectedly turns back to Bruce Banner! He flees, while Iron Man returns to the fight. Sub-Mariner is almost captured, but comes in contact with a trickle of water that restores his strength, and he breaks free and flees. Thor refuses to throw his hammer at him, because Namor fought with valor.


My rating: 7/10

It's another rip-snorting all-battle issue that moves through three different battlegrounds, yet also finds the space to show off the growing Marvel Universe. I'd give it a higher rating, except that this is the third issue in a row where the Avengers fought the Hulk! Having Namor on board shakes things up, and keeps the fight from being too one-sided (or repetitive), but it's time to do something else.

Also, why does Namor decide their first fight will be with the Avengers? He hasn't even met them! Why wouldn't he attack the Fantastic Four?

And despite this being the third time the Avengers have fought the Hulk, we've yet to see Hulk and Thor duke it out one on one for even a single panel. Surely the Marvel fans of early 1964 were dying to know who was stronger! But we don't get to see them really go toe to toe until a year later in Journey into Mystery #112 (Jan 65). which expands on the events of this issue. In "The Mighty Thor Battles the Incredible Hulk!", Thor recounts a solo battle with the Hulk that went unreported in Avengers #3. I'll leave that tale to John's "Dunbar Re-Reads Thor" thread, noting only that there's not really an obvious place in Avengers #3 where the events of JiM #112 could be shoe-horned in. The likeliest place is between the second panel of page 22 and the first panel of page 23. In page 22, panel 2, the Hulk watches as Sub-Mariner battles Giant-Man and thinks, "I won't interfere! I wanna see how good that skinny fish-man is without me!" For the next five panels, we see neither Hulk nor Thor, while Giant-Man and Iron Man battle the Sub-Mariner. There doesn't seem to be enough time in those five panels for all of the events of Journey into Mystery #112 to take place, but Thor and Subby are shown fighting at the top of page 23 and either Thor or Hulk are always on panel until Hulk leaves the battle (as Banner). 

Big points to Stan Lee for working in so much information in this issue -- it's practically a how-to for today's writers to learn their craft. Yes, the Avengers should have contacted Rick Jones right away, given the events of the first issue, but the "image projector" allowed us to learn all sort of things about the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and X-Men, in case we're not reading those books. We also learn a lot about the Avengers, primarily through dialogue, thought balloons and captions -- not just about their powers and status quo in their respective books, but weaknesses as well (See: Iron Man, Wasp, Hulk, Namor).

One last note: This is the first issue of Avengers where Iron Man wears his sleek red-and-gold armor, which he donned the previous month in Tales of Suspense #48. Nobody remarks on this, so some time must have passed since the end of last issue. It has been two months in real time since Stark wore the bulky gold armor, so perhaps Stan figured it was old news.

Also, I still don't care for Reinman's inking over Kirby.

Lee is still refining his writing style here and this is one of several issues in the early M. U. wherein readers are given glimpses to nearly every other Marvel superhero, which still didn't take up too much space in 1964.  And although this is the third issue in a row in which the Hulk battles it out with his now former teammates, this time there's no misunderstanding, Hulk is just thoroughly ticked off and the other's attempts to get him to re-join the team are, uh, rather ridiculous, as if they purposely wanted to make the Hulk even madder.  I got this story, btw, in a paperback collection of early Hulk stories released circa 1979, cashing in on the success of the tv show.  It is a bit odd that Lee & Kirby didn't use this as an opportunity to showcase a battle royal between the Hulk and Thor, but maybe they decided since they were going to have the Hulk clashing with the Thing in the next FF they'd hold off on the match with Thor.  Also I'm sure Lee didn't want the mag to become Thor and His Mostly Useless Mortal Pals.  Yeah, it made no sense that Namor would decide he & Hulk should take on the Avengers -- at this point how had he even heard of the Avengers yet?  So far, the Avengers had been tricked into fighting the Hulk by Loki (albeit before they officially became the Avengers), and then were tricked into fighting each other by the Space Phantom, but mostly fought the Hulk again.  And in each case the actual villains were defeated without the public even knowing they had posed any threat at all.  Maybe Subby's ulterior motive was first to help Hulk beat up his brief teammates, then he and the Hulk would take on the FF, and then they'd conquer the world, bwaa ha ha!!  As it was, the Hulk wound up taking on both the FF & the Avengers without Subby's help.  A lot of typical early Marvel goofiness but still a classic, IMO, even if not quite as classic as that next ish, wherein while chasing Subby now (the Avengers just can't make up their minds who they want to chase) they wind up fishing some other Golden Age geezer out of the sea.

This was the subject of a What-if issue. I remember the Watcher saying at the time that though the battle was inconclusive it helped solidify the base of the team.

I haven't read this, but it does sound like Stan was trying to pack as much information and action as he could into the issue.

 Also I'm sure Lee didn't want the mag to become Thor and His Mostly Useless Mortal Pals.

The Adventures of Thor and the M.U.M.P.s

I like it.

Back then though Thor reverted to Don Blake if he lost the hammer for more than 60 seconds didn't he? That could have been worked into a few battles.

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