When I was in the seventh grade I once used $35 of my paper route money to buy fifty issues of The Avengers between #9 and #104. In retrospect, it turned out to be one of the best comic book purchases of my life. Although the lot included all of the Neal Adams chapters (#93-96) as well as the John Buscema conclusion (#97), I was missing some of the issues leading up to the war itself. A couple of years later, Marvel reprinted the war in two “Baxter” issues, but alas, they merely summarized the events of #89-92. Also, issue #97 ends the war, but it doesn’t end the arc; it merely opens a mystery which would lead to the landmark 100th issue. Barry Smith was the artist of those three issues, and #100 features every character ever to have been an Avenger up until that time.

I eventually filled the gaps in my collection, but in this “Golden Age of Reprints” younger collectors can acquire the entire #89-100 arc in one swell foop! Issue #89 picks up shortly after the events of Captain Marvel #21, when the Kree Captain’s title had been cancelled for a second time. If you don’t believe me, you may read for yourself how seamlessly Captain Marvel Masterworks Vol. 2 continues into Avengers Masterworks Vol. 10! But not only does this arc continue that story thread, it also draws threads from across the Marvel Universe such as Ronan the Accuser and Sentry #457 (not to mention the Skrulls!) from Fantastic Four, and the Inhumans from their own series in Amazing Adventures, but it also continues to develop subplots from Avengers itself, such as the budding romance between the Vision and the Scarlett Witch.

A few years ago Marvel released a Kree/Skrull War tpb with Neal Adams’ proposed titled for #93 (“Three Cows Shot Me Down!”) gracing the cover as well as an essay explaining the story behind it. Both the cover and the essay are included in this volume, as well as the covers and introductory pages of the 1983 Baxter reprint series. Roy Thomas’ introductions are always interesting and informative, but he outdid himself this time writing a full eight pages! I read a lot of Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives. A couple of years ago I started a discussion of which volumes stood head and shoulders above the rest. Marvel Masterworks Avengers Vol. 10 hadn’t yet been published at that time, but if it were it may well have topped the list!

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Did Roy Thomas mention that Avengers 93 had been one month late? That undoubtedly added to the pressure Thomas felt from Verpooten and others no doubt. Issue 92 was cover dated Sept '71 and there was no issue for Oct '71. Adams really put Thomas and Verpooten in a bind there, and I hate to say it, as a big fan of his work, but Adams was pretty unprofessional re: issue 97. He already blown the deadline, and turned in only partial work afterwords. If he wanted to be angry at someone, he should have looked in the mirror.
The Baron said:
I liked the stuff with Hank Pym inside the Vision. It made me think of a later scene in Crisis On Infinite Earths where Ray Palmer was inside the Red Tornado. I wonder if Wolfman and/or Perez were thinking of the earlier scene.

I don't remember the COIE scene well, but you could bet they were. The sequence had previously been homaged in Iron Man, with the Scott Lang Ant-Man.

I have a theory it was inspired by the episode of Lost in Space where the robot is enlarged to giant size and some of the characters go inside him ("Trip Through the Robot").
I agre it was probably a homage. I've ony read the Red Tornado in that Meltzer Justice League book and he seemed like a second rate Vision anyway. I see that they were created within months of each other, like the X-men/Doom Patrol and Swamp-Thing/Man-Thing.
The Baron said:
24)Did Ditko design Mar-Vell's costume? It sort of looks like one of the early Captain Atom outifts, only with a different color scheme.

According to Thomas, writing in Alter Ego, he designed the version of the new costume after Spark Publications's Atoman, and Gil Kane refined it. The final costume isn't as far from Captain Marvel's original costume as you'd think, as you'll see if you compare them; especially since the upper chest area section of the latter was extended over his shoulders in the course of the series.

I could believe they had Captain Atom's original costume in view too, but I haven't seen an admission to that effect. It could be Captain Atom's original costume was also partly inspired by Atoman's.
Alvin York was an American war hero from WWI. A 1941 movie about him was titled Sergeant York and starred Gary Cooper.

Iron Man had used the skates at least once before, when he fought Titanium Man for the second time in Tales of Suspense.

The puffball people briefly appeared in Fantastic Four #37, but they don't do any duplicating there.
Thanks for that write-up Jeff. Obviously I was being a bit facetious (as is my wont) in suggesting that they could use some of DiDio's wily stunts back in 1969.

I still think its a pity they couldn't find some way of getting more than that dozen or so issues out of Adams. We're all the losers there.
Did Roy Thomas mention that Avengers 93 had been one month late?

I don’t recall (and I don’t have it with me today), but he did mention something about it being the first of the short-lived “25 centers”.

I liked the stuff with Hank Pym inside the Vision. It made me think of a later scene in Crisis On Infinite Earths where Ray Palmer was inside the Red Tornado. I wonder if Wolfman and/or Perez were thinking of the earlier scene.

Considering the camera strapped to the Atom’s head was referred to as a “Vision-Scan” I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

"I've seen a lot more than fire and rain in my time---" Iron Man's a James Taylor fan?

And Henry Pym’s ants are named Crosby, Stills and Nash!

They complain about people staring at them - well, maybe if you weren't driving around upstate New York in costume!

Good point.

Maybe leaving those Skrulls as cows wasn't one of Reed's brightest ideas.

Consider, too, what drinking milk from those cows did to the local townspeople in FF Annual #17!

Did Ditko design Mar-Vell's costume?

Luke already pegged this one; Roy Thomas cited Atom Man in Captain Marvel Masterworks as well as in Alter Ego.

"The finger on the button: In the end, will it matter if that hand was alien -- or green -- or Protestant?" WHAT?

Ah, social commentary, that.

I don't recall ever seeing Stark on skates before.

The very first appearance of the skates was while Stark was still sporting the gold armor (Tales of Suspense #45 I think). Luke mentioned another instance, and I can think of a fourth (from the Mantlo run, I think, included in a schematic drawing).

What was Black Bolt doing in Frisco?

He had lost his memory somehow and befriended a young boy in the Amazing Adventures series (some of which also had Neal Adams artwork, BTW). As a matter of opinion, I think Amazing Adventures makes as good a lead-in to Avengers #93 as #89-92 does.

I always wonder how they prevent Black Bolt from talking in his sleep.

Extreme mental discipline! Even amnesiac, Black Bolt instinctively didn’t speak.

Wait, the Kree homeworld is Hala? Then, what is Kree-Lar?

Hala is the homeworld, Kree-Lar is the capital.

So, the Kree and Skrull are both evolutionary dead ends?

They were then. The Supreme Intelligence (or “Intelligence Supreme” as Roy Thomas prefers), jump-started their evolution during the “Maximum Security” crossover event back in the ‘90s.
The missed month might instead have been due to an adjustment of the on sale month/cover date gap. According to the "Time Platform" section at Mike's Amazing World of Marvel Comics, the title didn't skip a month in "on sale" terms.
As a matter of opinion, I think Amazing Adventures makes as good a lead-in to Avengers #93 as #89-92 does.

Or both do. Roy Thomas liked these elegant dovetails where two or more stories come together. The lead in to Defenders #1 is my favourite example. In a way, its a structuring tactic more suited to when the comics were on a newstand and then gone forever than collected editions. To do the longform storytelling justice in a collection, you'd have to show everything from the Avengers issues, then jump to everything from the Inhumans issues, then jump to the Captain Marvel issues, THEN move forward to the Kree-Skrull War.

"I've seen a lot more than fire and rain in my time---" Iron Man's a James Taylor fan?

And Henry Pym’s ants are named Crosby, Stills and Nash!


Brilliant! No doubt 'Young' was a late arrival who kept going off on his own to do experimental work. References like this might date the comics today, but I wish 21st century comics had more of this sense of time and place about them. The late 60s was just when superhero comics started to slip into a timeless zone where "a few years ago" might be 1965, or 1995. I suspect this contributes to the lower engagement with the public that comics have nowadays. It's worth noting that Marvel's two breakout blockbusting bestsellers of the past few years was the seemingly politically relevant Civil War, and the Obama issue of Amazing Spider-man.

Worth thinking about.
To do the longform storytelling justice in a collection, you'd have to show everything from the Avengers issues, then jump to everything from the Inhumans issues, then jump to the Captain Marvel issues, THEN move forward to the Kree-Skrull War.

Oh, I definitely agree (although I read the Kree-Skrull War in Avengers long before I tracked down the Amazing Adventures (Inhumans) and Captain Marvel lead-ins. These days, all of these complimentary stories are available in convenient Marvel Masterworks collections.

Roy Thomas liked these elegant dovetails where two or more stories come together. The lead in to Defenders #1 is my favourite example. In a way, it’s a structuring tactic more suited to when the comics were on a newstand and then gone forever than collected editions.

Apropos that, this is a good example of “lead-ins” being collected in Marvel Masterworks format (what I refer to as the “pre-Defenders” stories). When Doctor Stange’s eponymous title was cancelled with #183, he had just begun the search for the “Undying Ones,” a quest which continued into Sub-Mariner #22 and concluded in Hulk #126. After that Doctor Strange dropped off the radar for a while until a back-up story in Marvel Feature #1told the story of “The Return.” All of those chapters have been collected under two covers of Doctor Strange Masterworks before continuing on to Doc’s new solo series in Marvel Premiere.

“Titans Three,” a two-parter from Sub-MarinerMarvel Feature #1! The Surfer was folded in as an occasional member, and all of these stories have been collected in Defenders Masterworks.

Today’s collectors need buy only two volumes to enjoy all of these “dovetailing” stories spread across multiple titles!
Actually, I think most of them are in the first Essential Defenders.

As follows:

Doctor Strange #183, Sub-Mariner #22, 34-35,
The Incredible Hulk #126, Marvel Feature #1-3,
The Defenders #1-14, The Avengers #115-118


What's more, the Essentials cheap B&W format means that we don't begrudge having the same issues reprinted here, as elsewhere. With Masterworks being the price they are, having 40-60 pages of something that you've already paid for elsewhere might be irksome.

As ever I have to give a shout-out to whoever puts the Essentials together. It's really great that they were able to put all those disparate strands together, in order, between two covers. A lot of material in the Essentials might not be A-grade Marvel*, but presenting them cheaply like this with all the tie-ins together is really playing to the strengths of the line-wide plotting of this era. I'm sure Thomas did imagine them being collected one day like this - but only in his wildest dreams!

*The various strands leading up to Defenders #1 were all pretty good though.

Looking it up, as far as I can tell Hawkeye stopped wearing that costume the same month Barry Smith left Marvel.

Shows how things changed over the years. Within a few years the Kree/Skrull War would have ran to #100. Actually, why couldn't  Adams' final issue, if it took place in the future, have been published in #98 as an epilogue to the War?

The Essential Defenders only reprinted the last three pages of Avengers#115, the prologue for the Avengers/Defenders War.

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