The Avengers went through a major line-up change back in Avengers #16 (May 1965). Iron Man, Thor, Wasp and Giant Man left leaving Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch as the new Avengers.
Giant Man (as Goliath) and Wasp returned within a year and a half though and this line up lasted to the time of Avengers Special #1’s publication. This period between #16 and #46 represents what for me is the weakest period of the Avengers team both in mass appeal and in back issue demand.
Avengers Special #1 should be viewed as a pivotal issue for the Avengers, one that signaled the changes for the better that were to come fast and furious over the next year.
Let’s talk a bit about the book itself.
This is an epic 49 page story that features the Mandarin as the main villain; a great selling point these days considering the Mandarin’s star is rising.
The cover is a classic by John Buscema (with John Romita’s help). Roy Thomas pens the mammoth 49 page “The Monstrous Plan of the Mandarin” ,while Don Heck draws. To my knowledge this is the longest Avengers story ever published (at least in the Silver/Bronze Age).
The issue is wedged in continuity between Avengers #44 and #45 (#45 starts with a victory parade for the Avengers in celebration of their defeating the Mandarin in this issue). The story features the meeting of the Old Avengers including Iron Man and Thor with the new Avengers and with a few newbies like Hercules thrown in.
It’s a great old time comic book read that sees the new mega Avengers team thwart the Mandarin’s world domination plans.
By the end of this story Hercules was on the team and Ant-Man returned one issue later. Within another year the Avengers welcomed the Black Panther and the Vision as new team members.
I feel that this issue helped the Avengers emerge from a stagnant two and a half years, the issue ushered in an era that saw cool new characters introduced and old favorites like Thor reinstated.
As the team returned home after defeating the Mandarin in space Goliath points out this is the first time the Avengers, new and old, have all fought together and that he liked the results. Thor agreed while Iron Man votes this should officially become the Avengers team. The decision is unanimous and we’re all the better off for it.
The vibrant red cover to this book makes higher grade copies tough to come by. Only 41 of the 199 CGC graded copies are at grades 9.2 or higher.
Currently CGC 9.2 copies are getting about guide while 9.4 copies are fetching about guide and a half. I think a nice tight CGC 9.2 with a high page quality is more than enough for this book. It will make a great addition to any collection and a solid long term investment.
The 42nd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $77/$154/$230 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.
Strengths that make this comic book a good long-term investment are:
- Way too cheap in the Overstreet Price Guide
- 49 page epic featuring the Mandarin as the main villain
- John Buscema/John Romita cover
- An issue that was the catalyst for change for what was then a dormant team.