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Avengers Assemble! The Marvellous World of Marvel

MarvelMarvel Comics is without a doubt one of the most complex, fascinating organisations in entertainment. With a firm fan base already, Marvel easily shot putted itself into the general public's view with the hugely successful “The Avengers” movie released in 2012.

Yes, I realise that this movie was released two years ago. However, with our exciting new range of Comic Prints available in stores and online, featuring some of the Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk (one of which was purchased minutes after I put it online), I thought: “perhaps its time to blog about this!”

After numerous hours, coffees, and the odd (or perhaps not so odd) sugary treat, here is a breakdown of the characters I investigated while on my intrepid journey through the Marvel Universe. This is just a small portion of what Marvel has written – there was far too much to write it all here. I wish there was more time in the day to write wonderful things about Marvel and the Avengers. Ah well, my poor brain appreciates the need for boundaries; otherwise my waistline would suffer from the need for sugar power.

Marvel Comics was originally named Timely Comics, which was founded by Martin Goodman in 1939.  Funnies Inc. in fact produced Timely Comics’ first released comic’s contents. Not only that, but Timely Comics rebranded as Atlas in the 1950s before finally becoming Marvel in 1961. This complicated start to Marvel comics is the perfect metaphor for their compelling, interweaved story lines.

So, hold on to your seats, grab your snacks and let’s dive on in. Oh, quick fun fact: did you know that the original Avengers, as written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was made up of Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-man, and the Wasp? The Avengers movie used a slightly different storyline, but the reason for the creation of the Avengers remained the same, because of the trickster Loki.

Stay on track, Nicole; there are fun facts a-plenty in this exercise of research. But, while we are talking about the messy relations of the Avengers, might I mention that the comic Avengers are known for being an ever-changing group of superheroes – I mean the Avengers crew changed in the fourth edition comic, when they discovered Captain America frozen, thawed him, and made him a “founding member”.

The fourth edition! The team changed in the fourth edition! Oh Marvel, you trickster, will you make up your mind. Anyhow, “Avengers Assemble” and off we go below.

Iron ManIron Man is everyone’s favourite playboy, genius, billionaire, and philanthropist. I don’t think a single person will ever think of Iron Man without picturing Robert Downey Junior, that talented rascal, but Iron Man has a very dark beginning and storyline in the comics.

A naturally brilliant scientist, Tony Stark was thrust into an emotional roller coaster when his parents were killed in a car “accident”.  Stark Industries’ rival, Republic Oil, orchestrated this “accident”, to kill his parents and rid themselves of their rival in Stark Industries. However, being a brilliant scientist does not guarantee business acumen, so after his parents’ deaths, Tony appointed Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts to be his executive assistant.

Tony probably enjoys his playtime, well until he was captured when visiting one of his international plants, and incarcerated with a famous nuclear physicist, Professor Ho Yinsen. Tony convinces him to band together and use their skills to construct a battle suit while detained. Once built and charged, Tony uses his suit to defeat his captors and avenge the death of his fellow captive, who is killed while creating a diversion.

Quite unlike the Tony Stark that Robert Downey Junior depicts, the Tony Stark of the comics is an emotionally damaged man who frequently tries to find the solution to his issues in the bottom of a bottle.

Tony Stark actually drinks himself to his last dollar (well until his accounts were frozen), and loses his company in the comics, mostly due to psychological manipulation and being frequently messed with by his enemies. Also, its super embarrassing when people hijack your technology and manipulate you – like what happened when Tony Stark injected himself with a biochip to repair his body after he was shot and paralysed by an ex-girlfriend. Now that’s a vengeful ex. 

But, as with the Tony Stark of the movies, Iron Man defeats his enemies over and over again, and repairs his shattered world to become a key mover and shaker in the Marvel Universe.

Captain AmericaCaptain America is also a well-known loved character, Steve Rogers turned super soldier via serum and rays. Captain America is the most patriotic of the Avengers, aside from that one time when he became disgruntled with the government’s decision to force super-humans to identify themselves to the government, and help with government agendas.

One of the best things about the Captain America of the comics, is that he actually has a sidekick in his best friend, Bucky, otherwise known as James Buchanan Barnes. After meeting in the army, Bucky becomes Cap’s sidekick after accidently learning Steve Roger’s secret and agrees to keep Cap’s secret silent in exchange for being his sidekick.

Another fun yet exhausting storyline of the 'Cap' of the comics is his battle with Red Skull. Just like (well fairly like) the first Captain America movie, Red Skull and Captain America battle during the Nazi wars. However after their epic “final” battle, Captain America escapes, but Red Skull is seemingly buried by rubble. However, Red Skull is actually exposed to an experimental gas that keeps his alive until HYDRA, another enemy team, rescue him.  This leads to frequent and extended battles between Red Skull via many aliases and Captain America.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the giant green man, Hulk, otherwise known as the brilliant scientist, Bruce Banner, changed by radiation to become the Hulk when he is angry. Kind of. The Avengers movie, and the mostly horrific Hulk movies missed complete gold by not delving far enough into Hulk’s origin and many story lines.

HulkHulk in the beginning only turned into the Hulk at sunset, and intriguingly, this version of the Hulk was grey, not green. Eventually, the green Hulk we know and love developed, meaning that spikes in adrenaline caused Bruce Banner to change in the uncontrollable green Hulk. For a while, Banner actually treated his condition and could exercise control over the green Hulk he turned into, but this did not last long.

As well as all those crazy Hulk changes, when psychiatrist Leonard “Doc” Samson captures Hulk, he successfully separates Banner and the Hulk, but the Hulk becomes even more of a menace without Banner’s control. When this issue was addressed, the stress of re-integration between Hulk and Banner caused the creation of a street smart, thuggish, grey Hulk, which named itself Mr Fixit, and is reminiscent of Banner’s father.

Fair to say, Bruce Banner really hasn’t had a simple life, especially when you consider that Banner is theorised to have developed a split personality in order to deal with the rage of watching his mother be repeatedly beaten and eventually murdered by his father. Banner with the help of Doc Samson, later taps into his subconscious to bind his dominant personalities together to create a version of Hulk named the Professor that combines Hulk’s physical attributes as well as Banner’s mental ability.

Cute fun fact, Mark Ruffalo, the actor who depicted Hulk in the Avengers movie, had to leave the theatre during the premiere because his four year old daughter became terrified when her Dad transformed into Hulk on screen. Awww.

Spider-ManSpider-man, real name Peter Parker, originally appeared in Marvel comics in 1962 in the Amazing Fantasy #15. Peter Parker, much like a lot of the rest of the superheroes has a sad origin story. Orphaned as a small child when his parents were killed in a plane crash, Peter Parker was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben.

Peter Parker gained his powers after a genetically altered spider at a public science fair bit him.  After developing his own artificial web-shooters that attached to his wrists, Spiderman was ready to fight crime. Unfortunately, Peter Parker’s original decision to use his powers to only look after his family condemned his wise Uncle Ben to death. The choice by Peter to let a burglar to go loose, who then killed his Uncle Ben, reminded Spider-man of the responsibilities of a superhero.

Following that traumatic event which continually impacts on Peter, Spider-man was swept into a crime-fighting spree.  Spider-man is relentlessly attacked on all fronts by plenty of different villains, including his greatest enemy, the Green Goblin, father of his best friend Harry Osborn. Norman Osborn, otherwise known as Green Goblin, was perfecting a serum to make himself super strong, which causes Osborn to mutate into the Green Goblin.

After the long tangled battle with Norman Osborn, Spider-man is offered the job of being part of the Avengers. Spider-man turns this offer down, preferring to work alone, and faces a lot of trauma with his roller coaster love life, many attacks on his family and always fighting his enemy, the Green Goblin.

Interestingly the Green Goblin, though originally Norman Osborn, was passed as a persona to Norman’s son Harry Osborn, who ended up with a deep seated hate for his previous best friend, Peter Parker as Spider-man after his father’s death. The Green Goblin manipulates a situation in which Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacey dies when Spiderman fails to save her. The trauma of this as well as the danger to his family causes Peter Parker to give up being Spider-man for a while till he is drawn back in.

Spider-man does eventually become an Avenger, after a break out at a S.H.I.E.L.D prison.  Interestingly, Peter Parker, his girlfriend Mary Jane and Aunt May actually live with Tony Stark for a while when Parker’s home is destroyed. Tony Stark also builds Spider-man a suit after many costume and mutating disasters.

The Marvel universe, as I said earlier, is complicated.  For a good, concise breakdown of the entire Marvel universe history, take a little look here. Spoiler: the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the X-men are all tied together in a crazy fashion.  I love Marvel and its eccentricity; life is never boring with them.

Marvel have also dedicated a page that links the entire Marvel Universe together with hyperlinks that let you jump from character to character.  This very much helps to get your head around the characters’ storylines and how they link to each other, much like Spider-man’s and Iron Man’s friendship, which I found very random.

Don’t forgot that as well as all the fantastic merchandise that Marvel has released, you can find some marvellous framed Marvel Poster Prints in stores or online. Because it's definitely comforting going to sleep with the watchful Captain America looking over you.

Nicole Newton


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