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The Avengers are a fictional team of superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The team made its debut in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963), created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby, inspired by the success of DC Comics' Justice League of America.
Labeled Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers originally consisted of Hank Pym, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp. The original Captain Americawas discovered, trapped in ice (issue #4), and joined the group after they revived him. A rotating roster became a hallmark, although one theme remained consistent: the Avengers fight "the foes no single superhero can withstand." The team, famous for its battle cry of "Avengers Assemble!", has featured humans, mutants, inhumans, robots, aliens, supernatural beings, and even former villains.
The team has appeared in a wide variety of media outside of comic books including a number of different animated television series and direct-to-video films. The 2012 live-action feature film The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon, set numerous records during its box office run, including one of the biggest opening debuts in North America, with a weekend gross of $207.4 million. A second Avengers film titled Avengers: Age of Ultron was released on May 1, 2015.
The team debuted in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963). Much like the Justice League, the Avengers were an assemblage of pre-existing superhero characters created by Lee and 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.
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 #47;and the 40-issue Solo Avengers (Dec.1987–Jan. 1991), retitled Avengers Spotlight with #21.
Between 1996 and 2004, Marvel relaunched the primary Avengers title three times. In 1996, the "Heroes Reborn" line took place in an alternate universe, with a revamped history unrelated to mainstream Marvel continuity.
The Avengers vol. 3 relaunched and ran for 84 issues from February 1998 to August 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), the one-shot Avengers Finale (Jan. 2005) became the "Avengers Disassembled" storyline and final issues. In January 2005, a new version of the team appeared in the ongoing title The New Avengers, followed by The Mighty Avengers, Avengers: The Initiative, and Dark Avengers. Avengers vol. 4 debuted in July 2010 and ran until January 2013. Vol. 5 was launched in February 2013. After Secret Wars, a new Avengers team debuted, dubbed the All-New, All-Different Avengers, starting with a Free Comic Book Day preview.
When the Asgardian god Loki seeks revenge against his brother Thor, his machinations unwittingly lead teenager Rick Jones to collect Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man to help Thor and the Hulk, whom Loki used as a pawn. After the group vanquished Loki, Ant-Man stated that the five worked well together and suggested they form a team; the Wasp named the group Avengers.
The roster changed almost immediately; at the beginning of the second issue, Ant-Man became Giant-Man, and at the end of the issue, the Hulk left once he realized how much the others feared his unstable personality. Captain America soon joined the team in issue #4, and he was given "founding member" status in the Hulk's place. The Avengers went on to fight foes such as Baron Zemo, who formed the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Wonder Man, and Count Nefaria.
The next milestone came when every member but Captain America resigned; they were replaced by three former villains: Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. Giant-Man, now calling himself Goliath, and the Wasp rejoined. Hercules became part of the team, while the Black Knight, and the Black Widow, abetted the Avengers but did not become members until years later.Spider-Man was offered membership but did not join the group. The Black Panther joined after rescuing the team from the Grim Reaper and Klaw. The X-Men #45 (June 1968) featured a crossover with The Avengers #53 (June 1968). This was followed by the introduction of the android the Vision. Pym assumed the new identity of Yellowjacket in issue #59, and married the Wasp the following month.
The Avengers headquarters was in a New York City building called Avengers Mansion, courtesy of Tony Stark (Iron Man's real identity). The mansion was serviced by Edwin Jarvis, the Avengers' faithful butler, and furnished with state of the art technology and defense systems, and included the Avengers' primary mode of transport: the five-engine Quinjet.
The prequel comic Avengers #1 1/2 (Dec. 1999), by writer Roger Stern and artist Bruce Timm, told a retro-style story taking place between issues #1 and #2, detailing Ant-Man's decision to transform himself into Giant-Man.
The team encountered new characters such as Arkon in issue #75 (April 1970), and Red Wolf in #80 (Sept. 1970). The team's adventures increased in scope as the team crossed into an alternate dimension and battled the Squadron Supreme, and fought in the Kree-Skrull War, an epic battle between the alien Kree and Skrull races and guest-starred the Kree hero, Captain Marvel. The Avengers briefly disband when Skrulls impersonating Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man used their authority as founders of the team and disbanded it. The true founding Avengers, minus the Wasp, reformed the team in response after complaints from Jarvis.
Mantis joined the team along with the reformed Swordsman. "The Avengers-Defenders Clash" storyline crossed over between the two team titles. "The Celestial Madonna" arc linked Mantis' origins to the very beginnings of the Kree-Skrull conflict in a time-spanning adventure involving Kang the Conqueror, and Immortus, who were past and future versions of each other. Mantis was revealed to be the Celestial Madonna, who was destined to give birth to a being that would save the universe. It was revealed that the Vision's body had only been appropriated, and not created by Ultron, and that it originally belonged to the 1940s Human Torch. With his origins clear to him, the Vision proposed to the Scarlet Witch. The "Celestial Madonna" saga ended with their wedding, presided over by Immortus. The Beast and Moondragon joined the team soon after. A seven-part story featured the Squadron Supreme and the Serpent Crown.
Other classic storylines included "The Bride of Ultron", the "Nefaria Trilogy", and "The Korvac Saga", which featured nearly every Avenger who joined the team up to that point. Henry Peter Gyrich became the Avengers' liaison to the United States National Security Council. Gyrich was prejudiced against superhumans and acted in a heavy-handed, obstructive manner, and insisted that the Avengers followed government rules and regulations or else lose their priority status with the government. Among Gyrich's demands was 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 was resented by Hawkeye, who because of the seven-member limit lost his membership slot to the Falcon. The Falcon, in turn, was unhappy to be the beneficiary of what he perceived to be tokenism, and decided to resign from the team, after which Wonder Man rejoined.The true origins of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were revealed in a three-part story that ran in issues #185-187 (July-Sept. 1979). After this adventure, the Scarlet Witch took a leave of absence and Ms. Marvel officially joined the team as her replacement.
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 aninferiority complex. After he abused his wife, failed to win back the confidence of the Avengers with a ruse and was duped by the villain Egghead, Pym was jailed. Pym would later outwit Egghead and defeated the latest incarnation of the Masters of Evil single-handedly, and proved his innocence. Pym reconciled with the Wasp, but they decided to remain apart. Pym retired from super-heroics, but returned years later.
This was followed by several major storylines, such as "Ultimate Vision" in which the Vision took 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 involved the second Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil taking over the mansion and severely injuring Jarvis and Hercules. "Assault on Olympus" featured Hercules' father, Zeus, blaming the Avengers for his son's injuries and brought them to Olympus for trial, and the "Heavy Metal" arc saw the Super Adaptoid organized several robotic villains for an assault on the team. New members during the 1980s included Tigra; the She-Hulk; an African American Captain Marvel named Monica Rambeau; Starfox; Hawkeye's wife, Mockingbird; andNamor, while Henry Pym emerged from retirement to join the West Coast Avengers. Spider-Man was again offered membership, but failed to gain admission due to security concerns by the Avengers' government liaison.
The villain Nebula falsely claimed to be the granddaughter of Thanos. The team relocated for a period to a floating island off the coast of New York called Hydrobase. The Avengers moved their base of operations to Hydrobase after Avengers Mansion was severely damaged in the "Under Siege". Hydrobase was later sunk during theActs of Vengeance crossover.
The Avengers and West Coast Avengers changed to allow members to be active when available and reserved when not available and merged the two separate Avengers teams into one team with two bases. The Vision had his personally fundamentally altered, along with the discovery that the children of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision were actually illusions. The loss of the Scarlet Witch's children and the Vision, who was disassembled by government agents in retaliation for the Ultimate Vision storyline, drove her insane, although she eventually recovered and rejoined the team. This story revealed that the Scarlet Witch's powers included wide-range reality manipulation and she was what the time-traveling Immortus refers to as a "nexus being" setting the stage for 2004's eventual Chaos and Avengers Disassembled storylines. This played out in the Darker than Scarlet storyline which ran in Avengers West Coast from issues #51–62 (Nov. 1989–Sept. 1990). The Avengers titles in late 1989 were involved in the major crossover event "Acts of Vengeance" where Loki assembled many of Marvel's arch-villains, his inner circle consisted of Doctor Doom, Magneto,Kingpin, Mandarin, Wizard, and Red Skull, in a plot to destroy the team. Loki orchestrated a mass breakout of villains from prison facility, the Vault, as part of his "Acts of Vengeance" scheme, but he ultimately failed in his goal to destroy the Avengers.
The U.S. government revoked the Avengers' New York State charter in a treaty with the Soviet Union. The Avengers then received a charter from the United Nations and the Avengers split into two teams with a substitute reserve team backing up the main teams.
At this point ongoing story lines and character development focused on the Black Knight, Sersi, Crystal, Hercules, the Vision, and the Black Widow. Their primary antagonists in this run were the mysterious Proctor and his team of other-dimensional Avengers known as the Gatherers. During this period, the Avengers found themselves facing increasingly murderous enemies and were 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 showcased a conflict between the Kree and the Shi'ar Empire. The team split when Iron Man and several dissidents executed the Supreme Intelligence against the wishes of Captain America. After a vote disbanded theWest Coast Avengers, Iron Man formed a proactive and aggressive team called Force Works. During the team's first mission, Wonder Man was killed again, though his atoms were temporarily scattered. Force Works later disbanded after it was revealed that Iron Man became a murderer via the manipulations of the villain Kang, the same storyline seeing Iron Man sacrificing himself and being replaced by his teenage counterpart from a parallel timeline.
During the Heroes Reborn event, many of the Avengers together with the Fantastic Four and others, died trying to stop the psychic entity Onslaught, although it was revealed that Franklin Richards preserved those heroes in a pocket universe. Believing the main team to be gone, the Black Widow disbanded the Avengers, and only butler Edwin Jarvis remained to tend to the Mansion.
The previous continuity of the Marvel Universe was set aside as the heroes were "reborn" in the pocket universe created by Franklin Richards to save his parents and their friends, while The "Heroes Reborn" line ended and the heroes returned to the prime Marvel Universe. This restoration also undid recent changes to the team members such as the Wasp being mutated into an insectoid state, Hawkeye being rendered deaf, and Stark being replaced by his teenage self, attributed to Franklin's childish perception recreating the heroes in the manner he was more familiar with.
New members during this run included the revived Wonder Man, Justice, Firestar, Silverclaw, and Triathlon. The Avengers fought many of their traditional villains such as the Grim Reaper,Ultron, Count Nefaria, and Kang the Conqueror. The limited series Avengers Forever, starting during this period, was a time travel story that explored the history of the Avengers and resolved many outstanding questions about Kang and Immortus's past manipulations of the team, featuring various Avengers from the past, present and possible futures working alongside Kang the Conqueror and Rick Jones as part of Kang's attempt to escape his perceived 'destiny' as Immortus.
The Avengers were granted international authority by the United Nations. Members joining during that period included Jack of Hearts and the second Ant-Man. A newCaptain Britain was added to the team. The "Avengers Disassembled" storyline followed. 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 had gone insane after agonizing over the memory of her lost children and who subsequently lost control of her reality-altering powers. With the team in disarray and Avengers Mansion ruined, the surviving members agreed to disband.
A new Avengers team formed, in the series New Avengers after a group of heroes banded together to thwart a break-out at super-villain prison the Raft, composed of Iron Man, Captain America, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Ronin, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and the mysterious Sentry. This was soon followed by the House of M event.
In the company-wide "Civil War" story arc, Marvel superheroes were split over compliance with the U.S. government's new Superhuman Registration Act, which required all superpowered persons to register their true identities with the federal government and become agents of same. The New Avengers disbanded, with a rebel underground starring in a series retaining The New Avengers in its trademarked cover logo and New Avengers in its copyright indicia. Luke Cage led this team, consisting of himself,Echo, Ronin, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Iron Fist, and Doctor Strange. During the long-term Secret Invasion by the shape-shifting alien race the Skrulls, it was revealed that Spider-Woman had been abducted and replaced by the Skrull queen Veranke before she even joined the team. After the Skrulls' defeat, Spider-Woman was rescued along with other abducted and replaced heroes. During the company-wide story arc "Dark Reign", Echo and Iron Fist left the team and the Avengers gained Ms. Marvel, Bucky Barnes as a fill-in Captain America, and Mockingbird.
Iron Man, in the series The Mighty Avengers, formed a team under the aegis of the government's Fifty State Initiative program, and took up residency in New York City, joined by Ares, the Black Widow, the Sentry, the Wasp, Wonder Man, and leader Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel. After the events of the Secret Invasion story arc,Norman Osborn assumed control of the formerly S.H.I.E.L.D.-sponsored Avengers, now under the auspices of his own agency, H.A.M.M.E.R. All but Ares and the Sentry left this team — the Wasp appeared to have died — and the team migrated to the series Dark Avengers. Osborn recruited Marvel Boy to pose as Captain Marvel and Daken to pose as his father, Wolverine, bringing Moonstone, Bullseye, and Venom from his previous Thunderbolts team to impersonate Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, and Spider-Man respectively.
In The Mighty Avengers, Pym, assumed the Wasp identity in tribute to his fallen ex-wife, led a new team of Avengers, and claimed the name for his team as he was the only founding Avenger on any of the three active Avengers rosters (Wasp and Cap were dead, Thor was acting solo, and Iron Man was on the run from Osborn). His team operated under a multinational umbrella group, the Global Reaction Agency for Mysterious Paranormal Activity (GRAMPA). This team featured the roster of Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Stature, the Vision, Jocasta, U.S. Agent, Quicksilver, and Pym. Loki in disguise as theScarlet Witch was a recurring character. Iron Man and the Hulk were briefly with them.
After Osborn's Dark Avengers were exposed as criminals and their attack on Asgard was thwarted, the next iteration of the Avengers roster consisted of Thor, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Woman, Iron Man, and team leader Maria Hill. Steve Rogers, briefly eschewing his Captain America persona, responds to Luke Cage's concerns about the team reverting back to old methods by granting Cage's "New Avengers" recognition as an official team independent of Stark's more traditional Avengers. Bucky Barnes as Captain America joined the main Avengers, while Iron Fist, Power Woman, and the Thing joined Cage's team, Spider-Man and Wolverine maintaining dual membership in both teams. Rogers was an occasional presence and Victoria Hand was added as a government liaison for the New Avengers with Rogers's backing.
A second series, titled Secret Avengers, was released in May 2010, written by Ed Brubaker with Mike Deodato as the regular artist. The second volume of the New Avengersseries was relaunched in June 2010, written by Bendis and drawn by Stuart Immonen. A fourth title, Avengers Academy, was launched in June 2010, replacing Avengers: The Initiative. Christos Gage served as writer, with Mike McKone as artist.
Following a meeting between Rogers and MI-13, Captain Britain accepted a position with the Avengers. Noh-Varr later did as well. Bruce Banner made arrangements with Rogers for the Red Hulk to join.
The "Shattered Heroes" storyline led to several changes in the main Avengers lineup, with Quake and Storm being recruited, and the Vision rejoining the team. Wolverine and Spider-Man leave the main team and become more involved with the New Avengers. During the events of the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Storm quits to side with her fellow mutants as a member of the X-Men. The Avengers dismiss Noh-Varr after he attempted to betray the team, though ultimately he did not. The conflict ends with both teams united but defeated by an unrepentant Cyclops. A new series, Uncanny Avengers, debuted in the flagship title of the Marvel NOW! initiative. The title is written by Rick Remender with art by John Cassaday, and the team contains members of both the Avengers and the X-Men. As well, a biweekly Avengers title was launched, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by different artists for each story arc. Hickman also began writing New Avengers.
During the AXIS storyline, when a now-evil Scarlet Witch invades Latveria, Doctor Doom forms his own team of Avengers consisting of 3D Man, Elsa Bloodstone, Stingray, Valkyrie, and U.S. Agent.After various heroes and villains experience a moral inversion in the battle against the Red Skull empowered with Professor Charles Xavier's abilities, Rogers later assembles Magneto, Doctor Doom, the Absorbing Man, Carnage, Deadpool, the Enchantress, the Hobgoblin, the fifth Jack O'Lantern, Loki, Mystique, and Sabretooth, all temporarily 'inverted' to act as heroes, to assist he and Spider-Man in defeating the inverted Avengers and X-Men until the original spell can be undone. During the Time Runs Out storyline, Sunspot created a team of the Avengers, consisting of himself, Black Widow, Cannonball, Manifold, Pod, Shang-Chi, Smasher, Spider-Woman, Validator, and the Children of the Sun. The "Multiversal Avengers" division of this team consists of Abyss, the Ex Nihili (including Ex Nihilo), Hyperion, Nightmask, Odinson, and Star Brand