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The Avengers in the Late 1960s: A Marvel Comics Review!

Updated on August 23, 2017

MARVEL ESSENTIAL: AVENGERS VOLUME 3: The Vision Debuts as the Comic Book Series Matures!

Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3 contains issues 47 to 68 of the comic's original series, as well as Avengers Annual No. 2. For the most part this collection is a great run of comic books as writer Roy Thomas matures as the series goes along. The Marvel Essential series of books, each topping several hundred pages, contain the original stories in black & white rather than color.

As Strong a Collection of Late 1960s Comics That You'll Ever Find!

X-Men, Bucky, Dr. Strange, Ultron and More!

Roy Thomas is the writer for the entire run in this collection but he really only hits his stride with issue No. 52 when he adds the Black Panther to the team and ties the issue's bad guy, the Grim Reaper, to Wonder Man from issue No. 9. From that issue to No. 68 is as strong a run of comics that you're going to find from that time period: A crossover with the X-Men; Bucky's death revisited; the introduction of the Vision and Yellowjacket; the marriage of the Pyms; Hawkeye becoming Goliath; and several battles with Ultron.

Throw in guest appearances of the Black Knight and Dr. Strange as well as a fight with the original Avengers. Wow!

Also, except for some issues by Don Heck and George Tuska, the collection for the most part has excellent art. John Buscema does the bulk of the work, with a handful of issues done by Gene Colan, Barry Smith and Sal Buscema.

Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3 - Available on Amazon Now!

You may notice that on Amazon the book has a slightly different cover. Don't worry, it has the same content. For no reason that I can figure out Marvel Comics published different editions of its Marvel Essential books with different covers. I'm trying to find out why and if I do I will update this lens to explain it!

John Buscema, THE Avengers artist!

Fantastic Four, Conan the Barbarian and More!

Jack Kirby drew the first issues of the Avengers, but it was John Buscema's long run on the series that really gave the Avengers its style and look. Buscema, who died in 2002, drew 30 of 44 issues starting with No. 41, which gave the series a consistent, clean look.

I can't say he was underrated, because he was always very respected. But he never got the accolades that Neal Adams or Jim Steranko received in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I think that's because Adams, Steranko, even Kirby, had styles that almost overwhelmed the storytelling. Buscema's art was much more complementary to the story being told, which I really appreciated.

Buscema later went on to become Marvel Comics' main artist for Conan the Barbarian, as well as the Fantastic Four. I have read that he eventually did an issue of almost every series in the 1960s and 1970s but I don't have any way of checking that. All I do know is that his art was always enjoyable.

Gene Colan, Fill-In Artist Extraordinaire!

Hawkeye Becomes Goliath!

Gene Colan filled in as artist for Avengers No. 63 to 65, three issues in this volume that focused on one of my favorite characters, Hawkeye! Unfortunately, Roy Thomas decided to have Hawkeye succeed Henry Pym to become the new Goliath, a change that I wasn't very fond of and one that lasted until Avengers No. 97.

In issue no. 63 he changes to Goliath to rescue the Black Widow, and then in issues No. 64 and 65 we find out his history. Amazingly, Hawkeye had been in comics for five years without ever being given a secret identity or even a real name! But in this two-parter we find out he is Clint Barton, brother of a criminal, and we learn more about his past connection with the Swordsman.

Colan does a great job ranging from the grittiness of small-time hoods and back alleys to outer space.

Gene Colan: An Appreciation

My Tribute to a Great Comic Book Artist!

Gene Colan died on June 23, 2011, after more than six decades of drawing comic books. He was probably best known for his runs on Daredevil and the Tomb of Dracula. But he also known as an artist with a unique style that no one ever tried to copy, and I really enjoyed it. I respected the art so much I wrote about his work in a separate tribute. I hope you visit it and learn more about what a wonderful contribution this man made to comic books.

Early Barry Windsor-Smith Art!

Before he was acclaimed for Conan the Barbarian!

This collection contains two early works by Barry Windsor-Smith, who would later become famous for his work on Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian series. Known at the time simply as Barry Smith, he drew issues No. 66 and 67. Those are the first two parts of a great three-part story in which the Vision betrays the Avengers and rebuilds Ultron. Smith's work had a drama all its own, with varied angles and panel layouts that were different from what other artists were doing at the time.

This is one case where I prefer reading the original comics in color, because I think the colors aid Smith's work. But he uses such strong lines that in this black-and-white collection his talent still comes through.

Barry Smith and the Notorious X-Men No. 53

Drawn on a Park Bench in New York City!

As nice as Smith's art was on Avengers No. 66 and 67, his debut as a fill-in artist for X-Men No. 53 was just awful. The X-Men book had come out in February 1969, and for years was considered some of the worst artwork of the Marvel Age of comics. It was a legendary rush job, and Smith ended up working on a park bench in New York City. The Avengers books appeared in July and August of the same year, so a comparison shows just how much of a rush job the X-Men art must have been.

For more on the X-Men work, see our review here:

The Original X-Men in the 1960s: Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Vol. 2
Marvel Essential Classic X-Men Volume 2 includes issues No. 25-53, along with Avengers No. 53 in which the X-Men guest star. The highlights of this collecti...

The Marvel Essential Series

Spider-Man, X-Men and much more!

The Marvel Essential series reprints many of Marvel Comics' stories from the 1960s on in large volumes that usually top several hundred 500 pages. The series began in 1997 with the publication of the Essential X-Men No. 1 and The Essential Spider-Man No. 1. Many of the volumes have been printed more than once, with different covers on some of them, so don't let that throw you off when buying. Carefully check to make sure which volume number you are considering. The huge advantage to these volumes is cost: a reader can get 30 or more stories for about what a half dozen new comic books cost, and the old stories have more pages of action per issue. The Essential books are much more cost-effective than buying all the original comics as well.

Are Marvel Essentials Worthwhile?

Some say the Essential series is a great way for fans to read all their favorite series without having to scout down the old comics and spend a great deal of money. Others say the books just aren't worthwhile because the reprints are in black & white and losing the original colors of the art makes everything look drab. I agree the colors are a major part of enjoying a comic, but I do think the Essentials books are a great deal. I no longer have to go through my collection and pull the original comic out of its protective bag to enjoy an old story. Now, they can sit in a handy volume on my bookcase for me to dip into whenever I want!

Is the Marvel Essentials series worth collecting?

Which Character is Your Favorite? - The Vision? Yellowjacket? Ultron? You Decide!

Essential Avengers Vision vs. Ultron
Essential Avengers Vision vs. Ultron

Roy Thomas introduced a number of characters in this run of the Avengers that have become mainstays of the Marvel Universe. It is amazing that stories more than 40 years old are still influencing comic books today, but that's also what makes the comic books so much fun. I'd like to hear which of the characters introduced in this volume is your favorite. The image here of the Vision fighting Ultron is from the back cover of the Marvel Essential book. Both characters debut in this collection. I think the Vision is probably the one that is the most popular and most important, but I always liked Yellowjacket as he appeared here and in the Defenders. Now it's your turn to speak up!

Which of These Characters do You Like the Most?

See results

Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man: A Review of the 1970s Marvel Comics Series!
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man first appeared at the end of 1976, and was a comic book aimed at cashing in on the growing popularity of Spider-Man....

Essential Iron Fist: A Marvel Comic Book Review!
Essential Iron Fist Volume 1 collects the first four years' worth of Marvel comics starring the character, who debuted in 1974 during a martial arts craze. T...

The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review
The Marvel Essential series contains four volumes devoted to the Ghost Rider superhero, who first appeared in 1972 in a comic book called Marvel Spotlight. H...

Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Comic Book Review: Dr. Doom and Daredevil Guest Star as the Legend Grows!
The Fantastic Four rocked the comic-book world when it debuted in 1961, with writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introducing more characterization and real...

Hulk in the 1970s! The Rampaging Hulk Marvel Essential Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential: The Rampaging Hulk 1 is a collection of Hulk stories from his short-lived late 1970s magazine. This volume includes the tales from issues 1...

Spider-Man in the 1970s! A Marvel Comics Book Review
The Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8 contains issues No. 161-185 of the Amazing Spider-Man series, plus Nova issue No. 12 and the Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 11...

Marvel Essential Fantastic Four: Galactus, Silver Surfer and the Black Panther Debut!
Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 3 contains perhaps the most-sustained run of great comic book stories of the 1960s. This collection of Fantastic Four No...

Captain America in the 1960s: A Marvel Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1 reprints Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 59-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-...

The X-Men in the Early 1970s: Neal Adams' Dynamic Art
Marvel Essential Classic X-Men volume 3 is a real hodge-podge of stories that shows just how far below the radar screen the original X-Men had fallen in the ...

Marvel Essential X-Men Comic Book Review: Wolverine, Storm and a Return to Greatness!
Marvel Essential X-Men collects Giant-Size X-Men 1 and X-Men 94-119. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 introduced the new team of superheroes, reviving the X-Men comic....

Spider-Man's Earliest Adventures: A Review of Marvel Comics' Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1
Marvel Essential Spider-Man Volume 1 contains the debut story of Marvel Comics' most-popular character, who first appeared 50 years ago in the summer of 1962...

Joe Kubert and Steve Ditko

Articles on Other Comic Book Artists

In addition to the appreciation of Gene Colan mentioned above, we have written articles on two other comic book artists that are true legends. Check them out here:

Joe Kubert, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation
Comic book artist Joe Kubert died on Aug. 12, 2012, after more than seven decades of drawing and creating comic books. Over those many years he worked on a w...

Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko: Strange and Stranger Book Review
Strange and Stranger: the World of Steve Ditko was published in 2008 by Fantagraphics Books. Author Blake Bell traces the life story of this legendary and re...

X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga: A Marvel Comic Book Review
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga collects issues No. 129-137 of the original X-Men comic-book series, a series of tales that ends with the final battle over Jean...

The Amazing Spider-Man Debuts! A Marvel Masterworks Comic Book Review
Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987 with The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, among others. Since then the company has come out wi...

The Mighty Thor Debuts: Highlights of His First Marvel Masterworks Collection
Thor, one of Marvel Comics' mightiest heroes, debuted 50 years ago in a comic book called Journey into Mystery. One of the Marvel Universe's earliest charact...

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of The Complete Elektra Saga!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 collects issues 168-182 of the original Daredevil series. Issue 168 was the first comic of the series that Miller ...

The Avengers Debut! A Comic Book Review of the Marvel Masterworks Collection!
The Avengers Volume 1 was one of the first four collections when Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987. Since then the company...

Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
This volume reprints Uncanny X-Men No. 101-110 in full color, a collection of 10 comics during a run that really established the new X-Men as a major franchi...

X-Men Reborn in the 1970s: Storm and Nightcrawler Debut, plus Wolverine!
Marvel Masterworks: The Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 highlights the rebirth of the team in 1975-1976, reprinting Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 and X-Men No. 94-100. Promote...

Captain America's 1960s Adventures in Color: A Marvel Comics Review
Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 reprints the superhero's adventures in Tales of Suspense No. 59-81 in full color. This was Captain America's fir...

Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier Comic Book Review
DC: The New Frontier was a series of six comic book issues in 2004 that focused on the 1950s, when many of the major superheroes that populate the modern DC ...

What do you think of this Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3, The Avengers, the artists or just this lens? This is your chance to comment!

What Do You Think of the Avengers? - Here's Your Turn to Speak up!

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I remember reading a lot of the early Avengers. Always a great comic book. Super lens!

    • adragast24 profile image


      8 years ago

      Quite nice, I like the diversity of them. Not a big fan of Captain America though.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I did read Avengers back in the 60's and remember them being very popular among the guys especially and they certainly have stood the test of time and will be around for a long while more...thanks to the geniuses at Marvel ! :)

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 

      8 years ago from Redcar

      Wonderful - thank you for sharing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I used to like avengers in the 80-90. we discovered some great secondary heroes who'll never be popular enough to get their own book. The Vision, Black knight Hercules, the Wasp,

      today it's more like an all-star team.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I don't really read these comics but I do love the artwork!

    • profile image

      profit confiden 

      8 years ago

      I have read the lens and was a great experience. I made a like to your lens. Enjoy squidding..

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like the depth of coverage that you have provided!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      They are fun to watch. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      They are fun to watch. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm a huge fan of Thor, Captain America and Iron Man. I have to say I like Buscema's work better. Bright, bold - just like our heroes.

    • Sabre1000 profile image


      9 years ago

      I really liked Colan, but I liked him better on Dr.Strange, Daredevil and Dracula. He just had this really good atmospheric style


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