I tell the whole damn plot of this one. Oops! But it’s worth it. Trust me.
Long time readers might remember that in the past few years, I’ve made a few interesting purchases in terms of comic collections. Included among these are the Amazing Spider-man DVD collection , the Incredible Hulk DVD collection, and the Essential Godzilla. Each has the complete series of each title (with a few exceptions here and there.)
With these three purchases I not only do I own more comics than I ever bought in my lifetime, I also own ever single comic I would have ever wanted as a kid. The thought staggers me to no end.
Saturday I decided to experiment a little. I picked up The Avengers DVD collection. Part of this was due to curiosity. Part because it had the first part of a Incredible Hulk story in it. I figured I couldn’t lose. I’ve been having fun so far.
Well let me tell you, folks, I have wasted my money. Oh, I’m sure the stories on the disc are fine, and that I’m going to enjoy reading them. But, frankly, I’ve hit the pinnacle of the series. Namely Avengers #11, in which the Mighty Avengers battle my hero, Spider-man… and get their butts handed to them.
As it should be.
There’s more to the story than that, but let’s start by introducing the heroes for those who are unfamiliar with them. At that time, there were six reoccurring cast members. The superheroes are (pictured to the right, starting from the bottom and moving counter clockwise):
Captain America: aka Steve Rogers. As far as I know, the so called Super Soldier has no real super powers to speak of. Just extensive training, determination, and an indestructible shield. But, as Cap proves again and again, what more does a man need?
Iron Man: aka Tony Stark. He fights evil in a super powered suit of armor. At this point in his history, Stark has to worry constantly about keeping his suit in tip-top condition, as it is the only thing keeping him alive. I never liked Iron Man as a kid, but these collections are turning me around on that, let me tell you.
Giant Man: aka Henry Pym. I’ve given my opinion of Pym in passing before, and not much has changed in the meantime. He can grow to 100 feet in height or shrink to the size of an ant. He can also talk to ants. One day, he hopes to be as cool as Aquaman. That day is a good century off.
Thor: aka Donald Blake. He’s mostly known for making an atrocious horror flick called Rock and Roll Nightmare in which he fought the Devil. I’ve never seen it, but… wait. Sorry about that. Wrong Thor. The one we want is the Norse God. He has one of the most unusual weaknesses in comics: his hammer. With it in his hand, he is a force to be reckoned with. But if he lose touch with it for a minute, he turns back into weakling Donald Blake.
The Wasp: aka Janet van Dyne. Partnered with Giant Man, the Wasp can shrink, fly, and shoot energy blasts from her wrists. She is slightly more interesting than her partner, mainly because everyone is slightly more interesting than he is.
The six cast member is Rick Jones, formerly the Hulk’s sidekick. Currently he’s Captain America’s “partner” and wanna be Avenger. His signature statement, no doubt produced in a whine, is “Now I’ll never be an Avenger.”
And you know what? He never is.1
Enough about the cast. Let’s talk plot.
Three issues previous to this one, Kang the Conquer traveled back in time from the year 4000 in order to conquer 20th Century Earth. The Avengers put paid to this scheme and he’s been brooding over the matter ever since. Probably kicking puppies while he did so.
On day, while peeping at the past (probably hoping to catch the Wasp in the shower, the cad) he discovers that the Avengers are down one member. Iron Man’s missing, presumed hunting down Tony Stark’s murderer. Which would be a neat trick, but they don’t know that.
Which, if you’ll look back at the picture above, makes the cover a misrepresentation of the facts. But that’s not the biggest misrepresentation. We’ll talk about that later.
Kang decides that now is the perfect time to dispose of the Avengers. And how does he do it? Does he port a bomb into their meeting room, primed to explode the moment it arrives? Does he pull them one by one into the future and destroy them? Does he summon up dinosaurs and warriors to take care of them? (That last one’s a cheat. Immortus tried last issue, and Kang would never try something Immortus tried. 2)
Of course not. As he claims to be a descendant of Doctor Doom (please, Kang, you’re not foolin’ anyone), he’s decides he needs to make a robot and use the robot to lure the Avengers into a trap. And the obvious choice is the Amazing Spider-man. Behold! The plot in action:
Once back in the Avengers’s time and place, the robot Spider-man, who I’m calling Mecha Spidey for no good reason, begins Kang’s diabolical scheme. He tells his prey that their dear comrade Iron Man has been captured by vile foes and brought to the Temple of Tirod in Mexico.
This is a vital plot point that we’ll get back to later.
Because Tony Stark is too cheap to give the Avengers their own means of transportation, each and every member has to find their own way there. Thus they’re forced to arrive in small groups. Thus Mecha Spidey, teleported by Kang to the temple ahead of them, has ample opportunity to pick them off one by one.
Which he does. Giant Man gets his hands webbed together around a pillar. The Wasp gets swatted by a webbing flyswatter (really). Thor is separated from his hammer and encased in webbing. Easy peasy.
By the time Captain America arrives, Mecha Spidey is tired of using his webbing. Instead, he throws the Super Soldier off the top of the temple. This is a hundred foot drop to a certain death. Not good.
Kang, however, is well pleased. As the temple has been rigged for time travel, he orders Mecha Spidey to bring the accused Avengers to him. All it would take is a push of the button. But, before the robot can do so, he’s yanked away from the controls by a very familiar looking item…:
What Kang and Mecha Spidey didn’t consider was that the real Spider-man might tumble to the plot and might not like it. So here he is, putting a spanner in the works. He’s already saved Captain America and is now ready to take out the robotic impostor.
Let’s pause a moment and think this through. They’re all in Mexico, right? Coming all the way from New York. Not a small distance.
How the hell did Spider-man get there?
In his own comic, it’s very clear that he’s as broke as broke can be. He couldn’t have paid for a ticket. Besides, how would he know where to go? He wasn’t present when Mecha Spidey was lying to the Avengers.
There is no way on Earth he should be there, damn it! We get Kang yakking up a storm, we get some mild Avenger hi-jinks, but this crucial bit of information… not a damn clue.
I mean, really.
Doesn’t matter. What we get next is pure Spider-man action. Things don’t look good for the wall crawler at first:
(How the hell did he follow a teleporting robot? That’s what I wanna know!)
However, in the end it’s Mecha Spidey who falls. Flush with victory, Spider-man leaves…
…without meeting a single Avenger in the entire comic.
Walloping websnappers. Talk about a misleading title.
While deeply, deeply flawed, I love this story. In it, a simple truism is proved. It’s not just the fact Spider-man hands the Avengers their butts. It’s more than that. It proves, without a doubt, that the only being who can save the Avengers from Spider-man… is Spider-man.
Forget what I said before. It’s worth buying the whole collection just for this issue.
1 In fairness to Rick, he does improve as the years march on. He even becomes a superhero of some worth. It’s just in the early years that he’s a bit of a waste. In fact, it’s probably safe to say the only thing he’s really good at is getting scientist bathed by gamma rays.
Oh yeah. I went there.
2 This is one of those jokes where only Cullen laughs. It might help if you knew Immortus was Kang’s future self. Then again, it might not.