I Have Issues (3)

Loki Vs. The Avengers Part 1
The Avengers movie comes out this week and the main villain as
everyone probably knows is Loki. Just like in the movie, Loki is responsible for
the Avengers banding together in the comics. I apologize in advance as this has
been a hectic couple of weeks for me but I desperately wanted to get this out
before the Avengers make it on screen. I did not have as much time to go over
this as I personally would have liked.  

Avengers # 1 (1963) (W) Stan Lee (P) Jack Kirby
As the issue begins we find Loki in his exile, the Isle of
Silence. Sent to this realm of isolation he can still use his magic to cause
havoc with his half-brother Thor. Unfortunately he gets more then he bargains for
as he unwittingly creates the most formidable fighting force in the Marvel
universe. Loki intends to draw a conflict between the Hulk and Thor. Using an
illusion of a bomb to trick the feeble minded Hulk into causing more
destruction he then diverts a call for help meant for the Fantastic Four to
Thor instead. Thor hears the call but so do other heroes (oops!) Thor, Iron
Man, Ant-Man and Wasp all show up and Thor realizes that the illusions that had
been cast were done by Loki and he heads to Asgard to confront his brother. The
remaining heroes decide to look into the Hulk situation; they find the Hulk
undercover in a circus and start the fight with him. With Odin’s permission
Thor travels to the Isle of Silence and is met with many obstacles to thwart him.
Unfortunately for Loki nothing stops Thor and the villain has to create a wall
of ice to stop a hammer toss at his head. Thor takes the battle to Loki,
shattering the icy barrier but the residents of the exiled island, “The Silent
Ones” emerge from the ground. (Kirby creates a cool panel where a large yellow
hand rises from the ground and grips Thor’s foot!) Thor makes short work of the
Islands denizens and then fighting through Loki’s illusions finally brings his
brother down and vows to bring him back to Earth for punishment. Meanwhile the
rest of the Avengers are still in pitched battle with the Hulk until Thor
brings Loki to Earth and reveals that he is indeed the one responsible for the
conflict. They realize that this team up of the best heroes on Earth thing
could be something great. The Wasp names them the Avengers and thus the
greatest Marvel supergoup of all time is born! Hulk would of course leave soon
as he doesn’t play well with others and soon after this Captain America is
thawed out of ice and the core team is set.
Loki has minor appearances here and there mostly in
connection to Thor but would not mount a major offensive until ten years later
to kicksart the awesome Avengers/Defenders War!
Avengers/Defenders War (Avengers 115-118 Defenders 8-11),
(1973)
(W) Steve Englehart, (P) Sal Buscema, Bob Brown
Roll Call
Avengers: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther,
Vision, Scarlet Witch, Swordsman. Mantis
Defenders: Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Hulk,
Valkyrie, Hawkeye
Loki having been blinded in a battle with Thor is transported
to the alternate realm of the evil Dormammu. Dormammu has a plan to defeat earth’s
heroes and more specifically the foil for all of his evil plans, Dr. Strange.
Dormammu convinces Loki to join him into tricking the Defenders into rebuilding
his superweapon known as the Evil Eye TM.
While the Avengers were a team that would gather together and work together for
the betterment of the world, the Defenders were more or less a team of
convenience. The Defenders were all working together for reasons of their own
that just happened to coincide with each other’s agenda’s. (How else would you
get two colossal jerks like the Hulk and Namor to work together?) As the
Defenders run off on their fool’s errand Loki realizes that if Dormammu creates
his weapon then he will surely conquer Asgard as well as Earth. Loki is the
only one who should possess his home realm, in his own mind anyway and he
decides to warn the Avengers about Dormammu’s plan. Loki manages to convince
the Avengers that even with their former teammate (Hawkeye) on the roster that
the Defenders are villains. This may seem hard to believe with the caliber of
heroes on the Defenders roster, but remember that Namor has been known to
invade the land dwellers, Hulk is always a loose cannon and Surfer used to be
Galactus’s herald. If the Defenders were
bad guys they would be the one group that the Avengers would have to be scared
of. I mean Hulk and Surfer alone have power levels that could potentially take
on the entire roster. The Avengers split up to head off the Defenders before
they can reach their respective destinations, thus setting up some classic
battles.
Surfer is inside a Volcano firing cosmic blasts to clear the
lava and find his piece of the Evil Eye TM
when he causes an eruption that destroys the Quinjet that Scarlet Witch is
piloting. Vision saves Wanda and in a great three panel reaction loses his shit
and attacks Surfer. The two have a remarkable battle in the middle of the
volcano, knocking loose the piece of the super weapon that looks like an
oversized purple floodlight. Vision notices that Wanda is about to be consumed
by rolling lava and has to cede the battle to Surfer. Surfer gets back to Dr.
Strange telling him of the Visions unprovoked attack and Vision tells the
Avengers that Surfer is going around erupting volcanoes and such so this
confirms that these two teams must battle each other! (I would make a joke
about how they could just call one another instead of jumping to conclusions,
but this is just the kind of flimsy excuse that the best shit comes from.)
Iron Man is in Mexico to visit a University where the second
piece of the Evil Eye TM  Is being studied. A Professor is going to hand
it over to Iron Man when Hawkeye strikes with a trick arrow and steals it. The
former teammates do battle until an errant repulsor ray from Iron Man hits a
building and threatens to crush an innocent with the structural damage. While
Iron Man saves the day, Hawkeye opts to take his piece and go home. (Probably a
good idea, Hawkeye was lucky to last as long as he did against Iron Man.)
Next we have Black Panther and Mantis in Iowa looking for the
next piece of the weapon because well… something has to happen in Iowa right?
Doctor Strange is in disguise looking for the next component as well but
Mantis’s mantis sense lets her know that the good doctor is in. Note on Mantis,
she confuses the hell out of me. You want me to explain Psylocke? No problem.
Mantis I just can tell you that she has immense martial arts skills and some
type of empathic abilities.( I would say she marvel’s Karate Kid with psychic
abilities, but Karate Kid is a pretty obscure character on his own so never
mind.) As the battle escalates they run across a farmer’s property who comes
out shotgun blazing. Mantis uses the superkarate psychic thing she has going on
to stop all three of them from being blown away and Strange uses a spell to
stun the Avengers and takes the third component with him.
Loki is pleading with Dormammu to restore his vision as he
promised he would, but the evil alternate universe demon says he’s “too busy”,
he also wonders how the Avengers got word about what the Defenders are doing.
The Swordsman is traveling to Bolivia and comes across what
appears to be a German castle in the middle of the jungle. As he nears the
castle, Valkyrie comes out of nowhere on her flying horse, Aragorn and slices
into the jet with her sword. The Swordsman lands but the Valkyrie is gone as he
exits the jet to fend off the attack. Investigating the castle he hears a
commotion in one of the towers and finds Valkyrie lurking about and they draw
swords against each other. Considering I’m not a fan of either character I
still found this battle to be cool as hell. This scene is a testament to the
creative team of Steve Englehart and Bob Brown, who put together an amazing
sword fight. During the course of the battle the Castles owner attacks the Swordsman,
shooting him with a blaster but the Swordsman stabs the man as he himself goes
down. Valkyrie tends to the Avenger but just as her teammates before her, she
takes this opportunity to snatch the next piece of the weapon. (Defenders 4,
Avengers 0)
Now, Captain America is in Japan and is being treated like a
member of the Sea Shepherds (obscure Whale Wars joke for anyone scratching
their head.) The Japanese are telling Cap to go back to America, I had no idea
Japan hated us still in the 70’s, this is a far cry from the country that
currently loves everything about America. As Cap is trying to quell the angry
mob he is confronted by Namor. Namor is called the Sub-Mariner because
apparently he pitches underhanded. (Obscure baseball joke for anyone scratching
their head.) Namor already has the next component and because it’s Namor the
Marvel character with the biggest chip on his shoulder besides Quicksilver,
this fight doesn’t even need a set up! Cap smacks Namor with his shield, but
Namor barely feels it and knocks Cap for a loop. (Now Captain America is by far
my favorite Avenger but even so, Namor is not to be fucked with.) Cap drops a
large sign on the Prince again to little effect and Namor responds by throwing
the sign and leveling the Captain. Namor up and flies away with his portion of
the weapon thinking the Captain is out cold. Captain America sees that Namor is
about to dive into the water and tosses his shield underneath the Prince. This
takes place in a funny panel that looks as if Namor is riding a saucer on the
surface of the ocean. Cap dives into the waves and the two combatants fight some
more. All of a sudden Sunfire flies in and grabs the piece from them both.
Anyone who read “I Have Issues (1)” knows what I think of Sunfire. He continues
to put forth a good case for winning the lifetime achievement award for
douchebaggery as he takes the part just because they are in Japan. Namor
attempts to fly after Sunfire but Captain America grabs onto his leg and is all
like, “I’m not through kicking your ass yet!” Actually he punches him in the
face and says “The Defenders will not succeed while one Avenger still lives!”
Namor is pissed and is about to crush Cap as he says, that he will not kill his
fellow warrior from WWII but that he doesn’t understand why the Avengers are
trying to stop them from trying to do good. Namor also mentions how Loki is
tricking the Avengers into stopping the Defenders for his own gain. Captain
America starts to have second thoughts as he is dropped into the ocean. Namor,
back in pursuit of the Evil Eye, easily dodges Sunfires blasts and gives him a
good whallop forcing him to drop it into the waiting hand of the Captain. As
Cap reaches land, he finds Namor waiting for him. Cap decides to do the one
thing that none of the other Avengers have done so far and that’s trust a
Defender. Handing over the Evil Eye to Namor they decide to team up so they can
get to the bottom of this strange set of circumstances.
Next Week: The conclusion of the Avengers/Defenders War and
Acts of Vengeance as Loki tries yet again to spoil the plans of those meddling
Avengers.