About the Author
Stan Lee was the former head writer, editorial and art director, publisher, and chairman of Marvel Comics, where he created or co-created enduring characters including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and many others. As the defining editorial voice for Marvel he introduced a generation to a new, more humanized approach to superheroes.
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In 1961 Stan Lee was directed by his boss to create a superhero team to compete with DC's Justice League of America. While the JLA were simply a bunch of solo heroes thrown together into an all-star format, Lee took a less obvious route and created the slightly disfunctional and all too human Fantastic Four.Two years down the track and it seemed Lee still had a JLA bug in his system and he created Marvel's answer the JLA: The Avengers.As an all-star lineup, The Avengers were hard to beat. Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk (whose own mag had crashed and burned a few months earlier after only 6 issues), Ant Man and The Wasp. Therein lay the problem.With Lee's insistence that the Marvel Universe be consistent across all titles, that continuity be maintained and that the non-hero aspects of the characters lives be depicted, The Avengers presented Lee with challenges. Their personal lives were already being developed in their own adventures and since The Avengers didn't reveal their true identities to each other the relationships between the members never rose above business-like formality. And how could Lee explain, for example, Thor's presence in an Avengers tale when at the same time in his own mag he was off having a different adventure in Asgard? Ultimately these problems would be solved with the dissolution of the all-star lineup a bit later.For now what we have are pretty standard JLA type adventures. Jack Kirby's art is never less than superb and Lee's witty writing is typical for the era but as originally conceived The Avengers were a concept without much future.But important groundwork is laid. The Hulk, the very epitome of "not a team player" cuts out at the end of the second issue, teaming up with Marvel's other great anti-hero The Sub-Mariner in issue 3 to fight his former partners. The Avengers' quest to seek out The Hulk and help him reintegrate with humanity would be a vital plotline in The Hulk's development and would cross over into other Marvel titles such as The Fantastic Four and even Spider-Man.Needing another star to replace The Hulk, issue 4 sees the return of legendary comic hero Captain America. This would be Marvel's greatest ever revival story and Cap would return to his own series only a few months later in addition to remaining a longtime Avenger (causing more continuity grief for Lee).On top of all that Ant Man becomes Giant Man in issue 2 and these first 10 issues show Iron Man in 3 different suits.Finally, in issue 10 Don Heck takes over the art duties from Jack Kirby, the first toward the big changes that would come the following year.