Publication history

See also: Bibliography of Avengers titles The titular team debuted in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963), using existing characters created primarily by writer-editor Stan Lee and penciler and co-plotter Jack Kirby. This initial series, published bi-monthly through issue #6 (July 1964) and monthly thereafter ran through issue #402 (Sept. 1996), with spinoffs including several annuals, miniseries and a giant-size quarterly sister series that ran briefly in the mid-1970s.[1] Other spinoff series include West Coast Avengers, initially published as a four-issue miniseries in 1984, followed by a 102-issue series (Oct. 1985 - Jan. 1994), retitled Avengers West Coast with #48;[2][3] and the 40-issue Solo Avengers (Dec. 1987 - Jan. 1991), retitled Avengers Spotlight with #21.[4][5] Between 1996 and 2004 Marvel relaunched the primary Avengers title three times. In 1996, the "Heroes Reborn" line, in which Marvel contracted outside companies to produce four titles, included a new volume of The Avengers. Taking place in an alternate universe with a revamped history unrelated to mainstream Marvel continuity, The Avengers vol. 2 was written by Rob Liefeld and penciled by Jim Valentino of Image Comics, and ran 13 issues (Nov. 1996 - Nov. 1997). The final issue, which featured a crossover with the other "Heroes Reborn" titles, returned the characters to the main Marvel Universe.[6] Relaunched with a new first issue, The Avengers vol. 3 ran 84 issues (Feb. 1998 - Aug. 2004). To coincide with what would have been the 500th issue of the original series, Marvel changed the numbering, and The Avengers #500-503 (Sept.-Dec. 2004)[7], followed by the one-shot Avengers Finale (Jan. 2005),[8] became the Avengers Disassembled storyline and final issues. In January 2005 a new version of the team appeared in the ongoing title New Avengers.[9] Following New Avengers came Young Avengers, beginning with #1 (Feb. 2005), featuring teenage heroes patterned after former members of the Avengers; and Mighty Avengers, also beginning with #1 (May 2007).[10] Fictional biography

See also: List of Avengers members 1960s "And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born — to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, but their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then — for now, the Avengers Assemble!" — Prologue from The Avengers The first adventure features the Asgardian trickster god Loki, who seeks revenge against his adopted brother Thor. Using an illusion, Loki tricks the Hulk into destroying a railroad track, after that he then diverts a radio call by Rick Jones for help to Thor, whom Loki hopes will battle the Hulk. Unknown to Loki, the radio call is also answered by Ant-Man, the Wasp and Iron Man. After an initial misunderstanding, the heroes unite and defeat Loki. Ant-Man states the five work well together and suggests they form a combined team — with the Wasp naming the group the Avengers. The original members are known as the "founding members," and courtesy of an Avengers Charter are responsible for the good name of the team. As a result, their wishes regarding the direction of the team are given additional weight and deference.

The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963). Cover art by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers. The roster changes almost immediately; by the beginning of the second issue, Ant-Man has become Giant-Man and, at the end of the issue, the Hulk leaves once he realizes how much the others fear his unstable personality. Feeling responsible, the Avengers try to locate and contain the Hulk (a recurring theme in the early years of the team), which subsequently leads them into combat with Namor the Sub-Mariner. This would result in the first major milestone in the Avengers' history - the revival and return of Captain America.[11] Captain America joins the team, eventually becoming field leader. Captain America is also given "founding member" status in the Hulk's place.[12] The Avengers go on to fight foes such as Captain America's wartime enemy Baron Zemo, who forms the Masters of Evil; the Lava Men; Kang the Conqueror; Wonder Man; Immortus; and Count Nefaria. The next milestone came when every member but Captain America resigned and were replaced by three former villains - Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver.[13] Although lacking the raw power of the original team, "Cap's Kooky Quartet" (as they were sometimes jokingly called), proved their worth by fighting and defeating the Swordsman; the original Power Man; Doctor Doom; and Kang. They are soon rejoined by Henry Pym (who changes his name to Goliath), the Wasp, Hercules, the Black Knight, and the Black Widow, although the last two do not obtain official membership status until years later. When writer Roy Thomas commenced, there was a greater focus on characterization. The Black Panther joins the team, followed by the Vision. Thomas also established that the Avengers are headquartered in a New York City building called Avengers Mansion, provided courtesy of Tony Stark (Iron Man's alter ego), who also funds the Avengers through the Maria Stark Foundation, a non-profit organization. The mansion is serviced by Edwin Jarvis, the Avengers' faithful butler, and also furnished with state-of-the-art technology, and defense systems, including the Avengers' primary mode of transport: the five-engine Quinjets. 1970s

The Avengers face Korvac on the cover of The Avengers #176 (Oct. 1978). Art by Dave Wenzel. The adventures increased in scope as the team cross into an alternate dimension to battle the Squadron Supreme and fight in the Kree-Skrull War, an epic battle between the alien Kree and Skrull races and guest-starring the Kree hero Captain Marvel. The Avengers also briefly disband when Skrulls impersonating Captain America, Thor and Iron Man use their authority as founders of the team to disband it. The true founding Avengers, minus the Wasp, later reform the team in response to complaints from Jarvis. The Vision and the Scarlet Witch fall in love, although the relationship is tinged with sadness as the Vision believes himself to be inhuman and unworthy of her. Writer Steve Englehart then introduces Mantis, who joins the team along with the reformed Swordsman. Englehart linked her origins to the very beginnings of the Kree-Skrull conflict in a time-spanning adventure involving Kang the Conqueror and the mysterious Immortus, who are revealed to be past and future versions of each other. Mantis is revealed to be the Celestial Madonna, who is destined to give birth to a being that will save the universe. This saga also reveals that the Vision's body had only been appropriated, and not created, by Ultron, and that it had originally belonged to the 1940s Human Torch. With his origins now clear to him, the Vision proposes to the Scarlet Witch. The Celestial Madonna saga ends with their wedding, presided over by Immortus. Englehart's tenure also coincided with the debut of George Pérez as artist. [14] After Englehart's departure (and a seven-issue stint by Gerry Conway) Jim Shooter began as writer, generating several classic adventures, including "Bride of Ultron", the "Nefaria Trilogy," and "The Korvac Saga," featuring nearly every Avenger in the canon. New members added during this time include the Beast, a resurrected Wonder Man, Captain America's former partner the Falcon, and Ms. Marvel. Shooter also introduced the character of Henry Peter Gyrich, the Avengers' liaison to the United States National Security Council. Gyrich is prejudiced against superhumans, and acts in a heavy-handed, obstructive manner, insisting that the Avengers follow government rules and regulations or else lose their priority status with the government. Among Gyrich's demands is that the active roster be trimmed down to only seven members, and that the Falcon, an African American, be admitted to the team to comply with affirmative action laws. This last act is resented by Hawkeye, who because of the seven-member limit loses his membership slot to the Falcon. The Falcon, in turn, is unhappy to be the beneficiary of what he perceives to be tokenism, and decides to resign from the team, after which Hawkeye rejoins. 1980s

The Avengers #200 (Oct. 1980). Cover art by George Pérez and Terry Austin. The first major development was the breakdown of Henry Pym, with his frequent changes of costume and name being symptomatic of an identity problem and an inferiority complex. After abusing his wife, failing to win back the confidence of the Avengers with a ruse and being duped by the villain Egghead, Pym is jailed. Writer Roger Stern later resolves this by having Pym outwit Egghead and defeat the latest incarnation of the Masters of Evil single-handedly, thereby proving his innocence. Pym reconciles with the Wasp, but they decide to remain apart. Pym also retires from superheroics, but returns some years later. Stern developed several major storylines, such as "Ultimate Vision" in which the Vision takes over the world's computer systems in a misguided attempt to create world peace; the formation of the West Coast Avengers; and "Avengers Under Siege" which involves the second Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil taking over the mansion and severely injuring Jarvis and Hercules, "War on Olympus" in which Hercules' father Zeus blames the Avengers for his son's injuries and brings them to Olympus for trial and "Heavy Metal" in which the Super Adaptoid organizes several other robotic villains for an assault on the team. New members during the 1980s included an African American Captain Marvel named Monica Rambeau (who became the team's new leader); She-Hulk; Tigra, Namor, Starfox and Hawkeye's wife, Mockingbird, while Henry Pym emerges from retirement to join the West Coast Avengers. Stern also created the villain Nebula, who claimed - falsely - to be the granddaughter of Thanos. The team also relocated for a period to a floating island off the coast of New York called Hydrobase. 1990s John Byrne eventually took over writing both titles and revamped the line-up of the main team to include more traditional members such as Thor, Iron Man and Vision alongside Captain America and new member Quasar. Byrne's stint would also see Spider-Man officially join the Avengers for the first time in yet another cosmic battle with Nebula. His contributions included a revamping of the Vision, and the discovery that the children of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision are actually illusions. The loss of the Scarlet Witch's children and the Vision (who is dissasembled by government agents in retaliation for the "Ultimate Vision" storyline) drives her insane, although she eventually recovers and rejoins the team. This story also revealed that the Scarlet Witch's powers include wide-range reality manipulation and she is what the time-traveling Immortus refers to as a "nexus being" setting the stage for 2004's eventual "Chaos" and "Avengers Dissassembled" Storylines. The Avengers titles are then embroiled in a major crossover event Acts of Vengeance wherein Loki assembles many of Marvel's arch-villains such as Doctor Doom, Magneto, and the Red Skull in a plot to destroy the team. Loki orchestrates a mass breakout of villains from prison facility the Vault, as part of his Acts of Vengeance scheme, but he ultimately fails in his goal to destroy the Avengers. This decade coincided with a speculators' boom, followed by an industry-wide slump and Marvel filing for bankruptcy in 1997. Bob Harras and Steve Epting took over the title, and introduced a stable lineup with ongoing storylines and character development focused on the Black Knight, Sersi, Crystal, Quicksilver, Hercules and the Vision. Their primary enemies in this run include the mysterious Proctor and the Shiar warrior Deathcry. During this period, the team finds themselves facing increasingly murderous enemies, and are forced to question their rule against killing. This culminated in "Operation: Galactic Storm", a 19-part storyline that ran through all Avengers-related titles and showcases a conflict between the Kree and the Shi'ar Empire. The team splits when Iron Man and several dissidents execute the Supreme Intelligence against the wishes of Captain America. After a vote disbanding the West Coast Avengers, Iron Man forms a proactive and aggressive team called Force Works. During the team's first mission Wonder Man is apparently killed again (his atoms are actually only temporarily scattered). Force Works later disbands after it is revealed that Iron Man has become a murderer via the manipulations of the villain Kang.[15] "Heroes Reborn"

Avengers vol. 2, #11 (Sept. 1997), showing the Heroes Reborn Avengers. Cover art by Michael Ryan and Sal Regla. Together with the Fantastic Four and others, many of the Avengers apparently die stopping the gestalt psychic entity Onslaught, although it is later revealed that Franklin Richards preserves these heroes in a pocket universe. Believing the main team gone, the Black Widow disbands the Avengers, with only butler Jarvis remaining to tend to the Mansion. Marvel contracted out The Avengers and three related titles - Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Iron Man - to former Marvel artists Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, two of the founding creators of Image Comics. The previous continuity of the Marvel Universe was set aside as the heroes were "reborn" in the pocket universe. While the Avengers was relaunched as a new series, the "Heroes Reborn" line ended after a year as planned and the license reverted to Marvel.[16] "Heroes Return" Writer Kurt Busiek and penciler George Pérez launched a new volume of the series with Avengers #1 (Feb. 1998). Busiek also concurrently wrote the limited series Avengers Forever, a time-travel story that explored the history of the Avengers and resolved many outstanding questions. New members during this run included Ms. Marvel; the revived Wonder Man; Justice; Firestar; Silverclaw; and Triathlon. Busiek's run included many of the Avengers traditional villains such as the Grim Reaper;[17] Ultron[18] and Kang.[19] "Avengers Disassembled" Successor writer Geoff Johns dealt with the aftermath of Busiek's Kang arc, as the Avengers are granted international authority by the United Nations. Members joining during this period included Jack of Hearts and the second Ant-Man. Chuck Austen followed as writer, and added a new Captain Britain to the team. Writer Brian Michael Bendis then rebooted the title with the "Avengers Disassembled" storyline. [20] Titled "Chaos", the story featured the deaths of some members and a loss of credibility for the team. The culprit is revealed to be the Scarlet Witch, who has gone insane after agonizing over the memory of her lost children and who subsequently loses control of her reality-altering powers.[21] With the team in disarray and Avengers Mansion ruined, the surviving members agree to disband. Avengers Reassembled New Avengers Main article: New Avengers

Variant cover art for New Avengers #1, by Joe Quesada and Richard Isanove. (Feb 2005) With the original Avengers organization disbanded, a mass-escape attempt at the supervillain prison the Raft led Captain America and Iron Man to form a new Avengers team. The previously solo heroes Luke Cage, Ronin, the Sentry, Spider-Man, and Spider-Woman, plus X-Men member Wolverine were recruited for the team. During the Marvel Civil War over the U.S. government's new mandate that all superhumans be federally registered, an underground splinter group led by Captain America forms and retains the title of New Avengers. Mighty Avengers Main article: Mighty Avengers In response to this Iron Man reforms the official team under the aegis of the government's Fifty State Initiative program, taking up residency in New York City with the roster of Ares, the Black Widow, Iron Man, the Sentry, the Wasp, Wonder Man, and leader Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers).[22] Dark Avengers Main article: Dark Avengers After the events of Secret Invasion, a new version of the team forms. Villain Norman Osborn also forms the Dark Avengers, a version of the super team with morally questionable members, featured in its own title. Other versions

Main article: Avengers in other media 1950s Avengers A short-lived team of superheroes in the 1950s called themselves the "Avengers". Consisting of Marvel Boy, Venus, the 3-D Man, Gorilla-Man, the Human Robot, Jimmy Woo, Namora and Jann of the Jungle,[23] the team exists in an alternate timeline that is erased by the time-manipulating Immortus.[24] A version of the group without the 3-D Man and Jann exists in mainstream continuity, and eventually reforms in the present day.[25] Avengers Next Main article: A-Next In the alternate future timeline known as MC2, the Avengers have disbanded and Avengers Mansion is now a museum. An emergency forces Edwin Jarvis to sound an alert, and a new generation of heroes form a new team of Avengers. Most of the new Avengers are children of established Marvel superheroes. The Ultimates Main article: Ultimates In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, the Avengers are named "The Ultimates", and were formed by Ultimate Nick Fury to protect America against superhuman threats.[26] Runaways In an alternate future depicted in Runaways, Gertrude Yorkes's future self traveled back in time. In this future, she is the leader of the Avengers under the name Heroine.[27] This lineup of the Avengers features an Iron Woman, a heroic Scorpion, the "Fantastic Fourteen", and multiple Captain Americas.[28] Armor joins as well. Marvel Adventures: The Avengers In 2006, Marvel Adventures (Marvel Comics' "All Ages" line) began a new Avengers series, featuring a line-up of Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man (supplanting Ant-Man), Wolverine, Storm, the Hulk and Giant-Wasp-Girl (Janet van Dyne, the Wasp in regular continuity). House of M: Avengers In the alternate reality created by the Scarlet Witch, Luke Cage forms a team of superpowered humans to fight for human rights.[29] Age of Apocalypse A humanized version of the Avengers band together during the Age of Apocalypse.[30] In other media

Main article: Avengers (comics) in other media