This is "From a Different Point of View," a feature where I discuss a comic book series with another writer. In this case, it is CBR's own Eileen Gonzalez who will be going over the history of the Avengers with me, story by story!
We continue with Avengers #8 "Kang the Conqueror" by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers
Brian Cronin: Yet another inker change for the King!
Eileen Gonzalez: That's the last one, if I remember correctly. Don't we get a new artist starting next issue?
Brian Cronin: Yep. But Kirby returns briefly later. But yeah, we're about to get all Don Heck up in this business.
Eileen Gonzalez: I like Don Heck, but he ain't no Jack Kirby.
Brian Cronin: The story of Don Heck's comic career, sadly. "You ain't no Jack Kirby!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Well, now I just feel bad for making the comparison!
Brian Cronin: It's kind of hard not to, ya know? We've been speaking about the tragedy of the Hulk's life and how it really is pretty much unavoidable and, on a MUCH SMALLER SCALE, that was the same thing with Heck. How do you avoid being compared to the guy they keep having you follow on books?
Eileen Gonzalez: Very true.
Brian Cronin: Heck's an excellent artist, but, well, he ain't no Jack Kirby.
Eileen Gonzalez: Just his bad luck he kept getting put on books Kirby used to work on, I guess.
Brian Cronin: Exactly. If Kirby wasn't around, Heck would be much better remembered. As we'll see when we get to his issues.
Now, opening page, is that a sort of shot at Dick Ayers? Or perhaps a backhanded compliment? "Stan is like Victor Hugo, Kirby is like Rembrant, Ayers is like an automation."?
Eileen Gonzalez: I did think that was weird! Mostly I was giggling at Stan comparing himself to Victor Hugo. I haven't read any Hugo, but somehow that doesn't seem quite right. Wasn't Hugo known for the most depressing books imaginable? Just a weird classic author for him to pick.
Brian Cronin: I think he likely saw Hugo's figures as sort of the ideal that Marvel heroes strive for, in terms of inner strife and stuff like that.Jean Valjean, for instance, sort of has a Marvel-esque tragic origin.
Eileen Gonzalez: Hm, that's a good point! Here I was thinking he picked those names out of a hat, but he may very well have put real thought into it. Still not sure what the thought process was behind comparing Ayers to automation...
Brian Cronin: I THINK that he is saying that Ayers works so fast that he is like a machine. So it's meant as a compliment. But when you call yourself Victor Hugo and Kirby Rembrant, it sounds weird when you're then like, "Oh, and Ayers? He...does a lot of work. That's something!"
Eileen Gonzalez: Even Sam Rosen got compared to an actual person.
Brian Cronin: True, but a peer, which is also a bit of a dis, right?
Eileen Gonzalez: "Your coworker is busy today, come over here and cover for him."
Brian Cronin: Like a backhanded compliment, as it is really more praise for Simek than it is for Rosen.
Eileen Gonzalez: True.
Brian Cronin: I love that they just rotate leaders. It's such a dumb idea. "It's Democratic." Is "rotating leaders" actually even "Democratic"?
Eileen Gonzalez: You'd think Cap would have a better understanding of how democracy works. Electing a leader IS democratic, I thought, not just passing the gavel around!
Brian Cronin: Exactly!
Eileen Gonzalez: Also, check out Iron Man watching the Wasp give an autograph. He's jealous no one asked for his.
Brian Cronin: Really nice touch by Kirby. We're going to miss him on this book. There's another moment later with Kang that I don't think any other artist of the era could have pulled off.
Why do they have a two-seater on their conference table?
Eileen Gonzalez: For the love bugs of course!
Brian Cronin: Also, I dig that Rick Jones is privy to all this classified information. "Put the scrambler on! We don't want government secrets to get out! But we can trust this teenager who has a literal network of teenagers spreading information around the country!" That's sort of what Nick Spencer later did with Rick in his Hydra-Cap stuff, playing off of Rick's early stories to specifically have him be a whistleblower. I thought that that was clever of Spencer.
Eileen Gonzalez: You'd think they'd be more wary of Rick, given his known association with the Hulk.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, I was just about to add that point! "Oh, the kid who lied to us constantly to protect the Hulk? Tell him all of our secrets!"