To take full advantage of the fact that Marvel Unlimited is only 99 cents for the first month if you sign up by March 14 — which, sadly, is now in the past — Nick is trying to see how much use of the service he can get for just under a dollar. Every day, he’ll share what he read. See the previous day here.
I consider myself a big Avengers fan, and I’ve caught up on many of the famous story arcs that took place before I was old enough to get into comics. Thanks to various collected editions, I’ve read some issues as far back as Avengers #1, the first Kree-Skrull War story by Roy Thomas, and much more.
That doesn’t mean I’ve experienced every Avengers story ever, and embarrassingly, one of the famous ones that had escaped me until now was “The Korvac Saga.” But hey, what is a month of Marvel Unlimited for under a dollar for if not to right wrongs like this one?
Once again, I found that leaving the Marvel Unlimited app open in the background for an extended period of time means you’ll have to close out and restart it in order for it to recognize you as a subscriber. Maybe the best bet would just be to close it out on every use, but sometimes it can’t be helped — for example, there have been several times this week I’ve drifted off to sleep while reading before bed.
Another thing I noticed is that incorrect covers occasionally load for no apparent reason. A Captain America cover randomly took the place of one Avengers cover while I was hunting for the Korvac issues today. And speaking of hunting, the search feature by character name could use some work. Korvac was one of the choices, but selecting it didn’t give me any of the Avengers issues I needed.
But I persevered, leading me to …
Avengers (vol. 1) # 159, 167-168, 170-177
(Note: on the advice of Wikipedia, I also tried to read Giant-Size Defenders #3, but it was not in the Marvel Unlimited library.)
Why I read it: As mentioned above, this was a glaring hole in my Avengers fandom. It also features a pretty cool lineup for the team, including my favorite Marvel hero Iron Man as chairman, Beast, a relatively green Wonder Man and Hank Pym in his Yellowjacket phase.
What I thought: Considering that this is a story about the Avengers facing off against an all-powerful foe, it starts off with a pretty slow burn. The only way issue 159 ties in at all is that Thor shows up to help the team fight Graviton, and even he seems surprised to be there considering he had taken a leave of absence to handle some things in Asgard.
That turns out to be important, as he’s actually been plucked out of the timestream by the Collector. There’s a clash with Ultron too, after he reactivates Jocasta. You know it’s serious business if Graviton, the Collector and Ultron aren’t even the main threats! The way Korvac casually destroys the Collector (he gets better) is also a little chilling.
The ranks of the team are swollen with old members before the final confrontation, including Moondragon (crucial to the story), Black Widow, Hercules, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye and Quicksilver. They all take part in the inevitable battle in Michael’s suburban home, but not until a whole bunch of bickering takes place during the hunt for Korvac. Iron Man’s leadership is tested in the process, not least by an unusually cranky Captain America. It’s strange seeing a Tony Stark that isn’t the picture of self-confidence, the way he’s most often portrayed in newer comics.
Directly or indirectly, Jim Starlin (one of Korvac’s creators, by the way) definitely took some inspiration for the battle with Thanos in The Infinity Gauntlet from the actual showdown with Michael/Korvac. The shockingly quick deaths of familiar characters, the way Captain America ends up as one of the last men standing despite being “just a man,” the threat of cosmic beings being forced to take action — all of these are things we end up seeing again, and I can only imagine they had an even bigger impact on people who read this back in the 70s.
Really, there were only two things I didn’t like: the original Guardians of the Galaxy are cool to see but end up being pretty useless, and the ending comes on a bit too abruptly. Moondragon also seems so assured they’ve done the wrong thing, that Korvac would have been a better caretaker for all that exists than Eternity, but are we really so sure? I guess it’s supposed to add a layer of tragedy to the whole affair, but it’s not entirely convincing.
Jim Shooter and David Michelinie do get some credit for juggling all of the subplots, including the Avengers losing their priority clearance with the government. That leads to one of the most bizarre moments they’re long and storied history as they head off to face an unimaginably powerful being by … commandeering a bus. That plus Michael’s booty shorts when Starhawk pays him a visit are things I won’t be able to forget, for better or worse.
It would have been nice if the whole Korvac Saga would have had a single artist at the helm, but it’s hard to complain about a committee that includes George Perez and Dave Cockrum, along with covers by Gil Kane and a young John Romita Jr.
Day 7 issues read: 11
Total issues read to date: 114