I haven't been able to really enjoy the Avengers since Brian Michael Bendis "disassembled" them nearly two decades ago. But I am so enthusiastic about the upcoming series by Paul Levitz and Alan Davis that I thought I'd revisit some of the attempts others have made to reassemble the team in the years since, Starting with Avengers Classic. If you are unfamiliar with it, Avengers Classic was a reprint series supplemented with new, interstitial back-ups stories (along the lines of Classic X-Men / X-Men Classic). It lasted only twelve issues, but sported covers by Arthur Adams, second only to George Perez when it comes to designing group covers (I guess now he's "second to none").
I wasn't planning to reread the originals but, since I'm going to be looking at retellings of those "classics" and it has been a while since I last read them, I have spent the last week or so rereading the Lee/Kirby issues one or two at a time, just to refresh them in my head, and I read all new material this morning back-to-back. The "shared universe" continuity in the early issues was tight.
The back-up stories are another matter entirely. To be honest, I wasn't going to spend any time with this series at all, but reconsidered at the last moment. The new material is anachronistic, both in art as well as tone, which is pretty much what I remembered. These continuity inserts, some of them, attempt to account for such aberrant behavior later on as Henry Pym's insecurity and Tony Stark's alcoholism. Read together, they don't really work as standalone stories, so closely are they tied to the main ones. Yet, ironically, the difference in art styles is so jarring they don't really work that way, either.
The only one that's really worth reading is "The Real Origin of the Avengers!" a fourth wall-busting, tongue-in-cheek version of Stan Lee "negotiating" with the Avengers over their comic book, drawn by Kevin "Kevin" Maguire and written by Stan "The Man" Lee himself. That one story (and the covers) is what really sets this series apart from other reprinted version.