By Tony Bedard, Jeff Parker, Louise Simonson, Shannon Gallant, CAFU, Rodney Buchemi, Jon Buran & various (Marvel)
Since its earliest days the company we know as Marvel always courted the youngest comicbook consumers. Whether animated tie-ins such as Terrytoons Comics, Mighty Mouse, Super Rabbit Comics, Duckula, assorted Hanna-Barbera and Disney licenses and a myriad of others, or original creations such as Millie the Model, Homer the Happy Ghost, Li’l Kids and Calvin, or in the 1980s Star Comics – an entire imprint for originated or licensed comics targeting peewee punters – the House of Ideas has always understood the necessity of cultivating the next generation of readers.
These days, however, general kids’ interest titles are all but dead and, with Marvel’s proprietary characters all over screens large and small, the company usually prefers to create child-friendly versions of its own proprietary pantheon, making that eventual hoped-for transition to more mature comics as painless as possible.
In 2003 the company instituted the Marvel Age line which updated and retold classic original tales by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko, mixing it in with the remnants of the manga-based Tsunami imprint, all intended for a younger readership.
The experiment was tweaked in 2005, becoming Marvel Adventures with the core titles transformed into Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man and reconstituted classics supplanting original stories. The tone was very much that of the company’s burgeoning TV cartoon franchises, in delivery if not name.
Additional Marvel Adventures series included Super Heroes, The Avengers and Hulk. These iterations ran until 2010 when they were cancelled and replaced by new volumes of Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man.
This digest-sized collection re-presents some the yarns associated with – if not starring – the ever-popular Prince of Asgard, culled from Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes (volume 1) #7 & 11 and Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #5 & 15 – gathered to accommodate the Thunderer’s transition to the live-action silver screen in 2011.
If you’re of a slavish disposition continuity-wise, these epic illustrated Eddas all occur on Marvel’s Earth-20051 and begin with ‘The Trickster and the Wrecker’ – by Tony Bedard, Shannon Gallant & John Stanisci from Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #5 (November 2006) – with the Thunder God notably absent as a new team of Earth’s Mightiest tackle the insidious threat of someone who claims to be Norse god Loki for the very first time.
Although Captain America, Storm, Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, Giant-Girl and Wolverine initially drive off the magical mischief-maker, they are subsequently unable to stop the trickster investing a crowbar-wielding petty thug with the blockbusting might of an unstoppable juggernaut…
Next up are Jeff Parker, CAFU & Terry Pallot who introduce us to Thor in ‘Bringers of the Storm’ (Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #15, October 2006) wherein the team follow mystic ravens Hugin and Munin to Asgard to battle Malekith the Dark Elf and an army of Frost Giants to save the ensorcelled gods from petrification and slavery…
As written by Louise Simonson, the final brace of tales are both starring vehicles for the Storm Lord emphasising humour as much as action.
‘Lip Service’ (Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #7, March 2009 and illustrated by Rodney Buchemi) sees Thor in his mortal identity of Dr. Don Blake taking his beloved nurse Jane Foster and precocious kid to a herpetology show at the zoo. As if a clash with the cunning Cobra was not peril enough, the doughty hero is unaware that crafty Loki has hexed Jane’s lips in anticipation of the thunder god stealing a kiss that will change his life – and appearance – forever…
The mythical madness then bombastically ends in ‘Fire and Ice’ (Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #11, July 2009, with art from Jon Buran & Jeremy Freeman) as the trickster inveigles a young Frost giant to attack Thor on Earth before further stacking the deck with a crazed fire demon. The mischief-maker foolishly assumed that Giants are creatures without honour or morals and is foiled when the little colossus proves that even bad guys have lines they won’t cross…
Never the success the company hoped, the Marvel Adventures project was superseded in 2012 by specific comics tied to those Disney XD television shows designated as “Marvel Universe cartoons”, but these collected stories are still an intriguing, amazingly entertaining and more culturally accessible means of introducing characters and concepts to kids born sometimes three generations or more away from the originating events.
Fast-paced, enthralling and impressive, these riotous super stories are extremely enjoyable yarns, although parents should note that some of the themes and certainly the violence might not be what everybody considers “All-Ages Super Hero Action” and might perhaps better suit older kids…
© 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.