In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Avengers, we’re doing a poll of the greatest Avengers stories of all-time! You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest Avengers Stories!
We’ll do 10 this first day and then go to five each day from here on out (until we get towards the end, when it’ll probably get down to 3 a day). Here is a master list of every story featured so far.
50. “The Sentinels Are Alive and Well” Avengers #102-104
Roy Thomas continues his Sentinels story from the pages of X-Men with the Sentinels (who had left for the Sun at the end of their last appearance in X-Men, since the radiation from the sun was viewed as the source of all mutations) returning to Earth to continue their crusade to rid the world of mutants. While the Avengers battle the Sentinels (who have captured Scarlet Witch), Scarlet Witch’s brother, Quicksilver, splits from the team to find Larry Trask to help stop the Sentinels on his own. They all end up in a battle in Australia. In the end, the revelation that the leader of the Sentinels has, himself, been mutated by the sun’s radiation, stops the Sentinel’s plans. The Avengers go home, not knowing that an injured Quicksilver was still there! This leads to Quicksilver’s animosity towards the Avengers, which lasted for years. Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott drew the story arc.
49. “Deliver Us From…The Masters of Evil!” Avengers #54-55
In this classic two-parter by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Georges Tuska and Klein (the latter two each inked one issue apiece), the Avengers are betrayed by their own butler, Edwin Jarvis! This story would be referenced many times over the years, as it was pretty much the introduction of Jarvis as he was betraying the team (yes, he had made earlier appearances, but never to this extent). This storyline, which introduced a new Masters of Evil, also saw the introduction of their secretive boss – the malevolent robot, Ultron!
48. “The Contest” West Coast Avengers Annual #2/Avengers Annual #16
Steve Englehart and Tom DeFalco (with a host of artists, primarily Al Milgrom, Bob Hall and Tom Palmer) came up with this delightful crossover story where both Avengers teams end up fighting against each other as part of a contest between the Grandmaster and Death itself. The West Coast team wins on behalf of the Grandmaster, which allows the Grandmaster to take control of Death. Now the Avengers have to combine to take on an army of the dead with the fate of the universe in the balance. In the end, only Hawkeye and Captain America survive. They soon learn that they are now going to have to fight all of the dead heroes AGAIN, but now also all of their just-deceased teammates! Hawkeye comes up with an alternate solution. He bets the fate of the universe on a simple game of chance with the Grandmaster. The Grandmaster agrees but Hawkeye wins! As it turns out, though, with the fate of the universe on the line, what more can you expect from a former carny but Hawkeye CHEATING to win!
47. “The Trial” Avengers #160
The Grim Reaper captures the Avengers and then insists that they hold a trial to see who is the REAL Simon Williams. The Vision or the newly resurrected Wonder Man? Black Panther serves as defense counsel in this compelling, character driven one-off story by Jim Shooter, George Perez and Pablo Marcos.
46. “The Last Avengers Story” The Last Avengers Story #1-2
In this dark prestige format two-parter by Peter David and Ariel Olivetti set decades in the future, Ultron decides he wants a final showdown against the Avengers. First he nukes the current team of Avengers, killing them all. This forces a retired Hank Pym to put together a team of veteran heroes plus some of the kids of former Avengers to make a final stand against Ultron, but Kang chooses this moment to also get HIS last licks in, as well! As noted earlier, it is a really dark story, but David does strong work with the characterizations of all the heroes involved, making the bleakness resonate without being too depressing.
John Byrne had been building to a long Scarlet Witch storyline, where the Avenger was manipulated by Immortus to becoming his weapon against the Time Lords (as Scarlet Witch’s reality-altering powers could mess with time itself), but Byrne left the book in a dispute with Marvel editorial after just two issues of the storyline (earlier issues had set up the mental fragility of Scarlet Witch, as she lost her husband and discovered that she had used her powers to create her children), as Scarlet Witch debuts a new look and a new evil personality. This all turns out to be just the effects of Immortus’ influence. Inker Paul Ryan took over pencils upon Byrne’s departure and Roy and Dann Thomas took over writing duties, finishing the story ROUGHLY the same way Byrne was intending to end it (well, the Immortus using Scarlet Witch as a pawn part, at least – everything else was different).
44. “Siege” Siege #1-4
This mini-series drew to a conclusion both specifically the Dark Reign over-arching storyline, where Norman Osborn took control of SHIELD and made true superheroes have to fear for their safety, as well as more generally bringing to a close a rough period in the Marvel Universe, with Civil War, Secret Invasion and the dearth of Captain America. In this series, Steve Rogers has returned and he reunites with Iron Man and Thor and the good Marvel heroes to defeat Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers once and for all, including Osborn’s secret weapon, Sentry, who has given himself over to his evil side, the Void. This was the launch of the Heroic Age. It was written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Olivier Coipel and Mark Morales.
43. “Red Zone” Avengers Vol. 3 #65-70
In this epic by Geoff Johns, Olivier Coipel and Andy Lanning, a mysterious red dust is killing people in the middle of America. The Avengers try to stop the deadly dust while discovering that the whole thing was orchestrated by the Red Skull, who has infiltrated the highest level of the U.S. government and is trying to topple the United States government in a sick attempt to make over the country in his image! Can the two Avengers the Skull hates the most, Black Panther and Falcon, stop him?
42. “Absolute Vision” Avengers #251-254
After Secret Wars, the Vision (who had been severely injured during a crossover with the Fantastic Four) recovered and asked to be made leader of the Avengers. He made some sweeping changes, including the installation of a SECOND Avengers team (meant to be the first of many) in California, leading to the West Coast Avengers. As it turned out, all of these moves were part of an overall plan to take over the world for its own protection. Naturally, the Avengers took issue with this and had to take on their own teammate (who, as it turned out, was not quite himself). Bob Hall, Joe Sinnott, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey and Joe Rubinstein drew this story and Roger Stern wrote it.
41. “His Name is Yellowjacket” Avengers #59-60
Roy Thomas, John Buscema, George Klein and Mike Esposito introduced us to Hank Pym’s newest superhero identity, Yellowjacket. They also introduced the concept of Hank Pym being a little mentally unstable, a concept that has been used frequently in the years since. Hank marries his longtime girlfriend, Janet Van Dyne, the Winsome Wasp, in this story.
That’s the first ten! Check back every day to see the rest of the list!