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The Avengers, in its second week of release, earned another 103.2 million – a drop of only fifty percent from its opening weekend – and passed the one billion dollar mark worldwide. The success of The Avengers film is nearly as staggering as the losses John Carter endured.
Three years before Robert Downey, Jr. suited up as Tony Stark and Iron Man, Marvel released the first of an eight issue mini-series, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Written by Joe Casey, with art by Scott Kolins and color by Morry Hollowell, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was the backstory on how conflicting personalities like Ant-Man and The Wasp, The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor founded a long-lasting team called The Avengers.
It opens with Pepper Potts delivering a copy of the team’s Official Charter to Tony Stark. He reviews it while recharging the power cell of his armor. By plugging into an outlet.
While the media try to put some sort of spin on the team’s formation, Clint Barton cleans up as a pool hustler in a bar.
Later, at Stark Mansion, Tony Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis hands out The Avenger’s official charter to each member at the team’s first meeting. It all looks very official to Hank and Jan; but, more as nonsense to Thor and incomprehensible to The Hulk. Still, each individual pledges allegiance to the team. A very simple meeting to steer the course of the group dissolves into a misunderstanding involving The Hulk, who storms off, the others following on their own seperate ways, leaving Iron Man standing alone in the chaos left behind.
As repairs are made to the mansion from The Hulk’s rampage, at their Creskill home, Hank shares his misgivings with Jan.
Two weeks later, Iron Man squares off with NSC Special Agent Murch over The Avengers’ coveted priority status. Which is at risk over The Hulk. After another conflict with The Hulk, the other four Avengers squabble amongst themselves onboard their submarine, until they discover the frozen form of the first Avenger in the water.
If you, like Thor, are looking for the glory of battle and action, this isn’t it. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes goes out of its way to not feature a main villain. There’s no Loki, Space Phantom or Namor, the Sub-Mariner here. This is the drama – melo-drama, actually – the beats in-between the classic issues of The Avengers. This is what happens in the down-time between the first four issues of The Avengers. Iron Man switches from the bulky gold suit to the more sleek and aerodynamic red and gold suit. Hank feels insecure compared to Thor, The Hulk and Iron Man, so he switches from an Ant-Man to a Giant Man. The Hulk proves too volatile a personality and team member, so he goes his own way. There is only one, two-page spread of The Avengers in action, and it shows them fighting one another. The focus of this first issue is that, with nothing in common to draw them together, The Avengers are their own worst enemies. Worse than any foe like Loki or the Space Phantom. To work as a team – nay, to even stand in the same room together – each individual member must overcome his or her own personality. The larger battle is public relations. Does the public perceive all this power together as a benefit or a threat?
This issue is part of a larger picture, but even so, it deserves to have a villain other than The Avengers themselves. Maybe a cameo from Loki, or the Space Phantom. As fun as it is to watch people signing documents, it is much more fun to watch them put aside their own differences and join together for a smackdown.