Yo! How's it hanging? With the nation reeling from the news that the world's oldest, whitest, poshest, least likeliest gangsta DJ in history - and direct inspiration for Ali G - Tim Westwood has finally been dumped by the BBC, it's time to remind ourselves he's not the only one who's spent a lifetime having to endure a string of bum raps. In The Avengers #1, the Hulk's encountering one too as he finds himself blamed for a near-train wreck he was in fact trying to prevent. Check it out.
Framed by Loki for that event, the green grappler takes refuge in a circus by pretending to be an elephant-juggling robot clown. Something Tim Westwood will no doubt not be considering as a future career option.
Unfortunately for Hulkie, Rick Jones has tried to call in the Fantastic Four to sort it all out but, thanks to yet more incompetent Loki machinations, he's succeeded instead in calling in Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Having met for the first time, the four heroes resist the usual Marvel super-hero urge to bash each others' brains out and set off instead to bash the Hulk's brains out.
Fortunately, the Hulk doesn't have any brains to bash out and, anyway, barely has Thor arrived than the thunder god sets off to Asgard to bash up Loki instead.
Needless to say, Thor defeats his evil step-brother and returns him to Earth to explain the plot to his new colleagues.
The Hulk suitably cleared, the quarrelsome quintet decide to gang together and become a team. For no noticeable reason, they decide to call themselves the Avengers, and a legend is born.
I first read this tale in the Mighty World of Marvel where it was printed before the group got their own UK mag, and it's always been one of my favourite Marvel origin tales.
Basically it's an amiable romp, with the heroes getting on way better than you'd expect and a pivotal role being given to Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade. You do get the feeling Stan Lee saw the mag primarily as a promotional tool for introducing new readers to as much of the Marvel universe in one go as he possibly could. Perhaps because of that, there's little of the traditional Marvel angst and even the Hulk is noticeably less aggro than he'd previously been in his own strip.
My favourite part of the tale's always been Thor's diversion to Asgard and his fight with a troll. The Earthbound stuff's fine but Asgard's always grabbed me and, with its silence and spindliness, the troll does seem a genuinely weird and alien thing - more so than Kirby's later depictions of members of that species.
It is remarkably convenient though that the car factory our heroes find themselves in at the tale's climax just happens to have a radiation-proof chamber in its cellar.
Steve Does Comics - keeping it real.
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