Marvel's Avengers franchise to end in the wake of <i>Siege</i>

April will see both the conclusion of Marvel's Siege four-issue miniseries and the apparent end -- certainly only temporarily -- of the Avengers franchise.

That's right, the publisher's solicitations preview lists the series finales of The New Avengers, Dark Avengers, The Mighty Avengers and Avengers: The Initiative. It also solves the mystery of what comic writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Bryan Hitch have been collaborating on: It's a 64-page one-shot called New Avengers: Finale.

"Siege ends the Avengers ... and this is how I find out?" Bendis joked late this afternoon on Twitter.

References to "the Age of Heroes" and "the Heroic Age" are sprinkled throughout the solicitation text, making it a safe bet that at least some of those titles will quickly return as part of a new status quo teased back in November: "Witness the Marvel Universe triumph over its greatest challenges ever as the Heroic Age ignites! Still lurking in the shadows are forces of evil and cosmic-level threats, but a new spirit of hope, courage, and the selflessness at the heart of heroism will rise up. The most extraordinary tales ever will be told in this Heroic Age of the Marvel Universe. The Age of Heroes is upon us!"

The New Avengers debuted in late 2004 in the aftermath of the "Avengers Disassembled," followed in 2007 by The Mighty Avengers and Avengers: The Initiative, and in early 2009 by Dark Avengers.

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