15 Defining Avengers Moments (Mania.com)
By:Kurt Anthony Krug
Date: Friday, January 22, 2010
The Avengers are “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Their membership has consisted of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man (considered the “Big 3” Avengers who are reuniting in The Siege mega-event of 2010), among many others.
While epic battles like The Kree-Skrull War have defined them, it’s the smaller moments found in between the battles that also give these heroes plenty of depth. Listed below are the Top 15 Moments of The Avengers.
15. Spider-Man Joins The Avengers (Finally)
Marvel’s flagship character Spider-Man has flirted with joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes many times, including Avengers #221, 236, 237, and 316. Realizing he’s a more street-level hero in Avengers #318, he and Captain America agree it’s best he leave the team. However, in Avengers #329, he joins (rejoins?) the Avengers as a reserve member. He really didn’t participate in many Avengers missions afterwards and eventually resigns.
When a breakout at the super-human prison called the Raft occurs, Spider-Man is on the front lines, alongside Cap and several other heroes in New Avengers #1. Cap later approaches him about officially joining a new incarnation of the Avengers. Spidey agrees to do it for Cap and has been a staunch member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes ever since. In fact, Mary Jane and Aunt May even moved into Avengers Tower before the controversial One More Day storyline occurred. This might not seem like a momentous occasion in Avengers history, but considering how many times Spidey came close to joining the team–especially since many fans like it–it certainly is. Kudos to Brian Michael Bendis for making this happen.
14. The Scarlet Witch Takes Command
The Scarlet Witch really received plenty of richly-deserved character development during the Kurt Busiek/George Pérez run. This renowned creative team made her the definitive female Avenger. Wanda became deputy leader in Avengers Vol. 3 #13, leading the Avengers (including Thor and Vision) and the New Warriors against Pagan. She wasn’t shy about telling Captain America (in a constructive way) that his leadership was lacking in #15. She definitely came a long way. Too bad she went insane in the controversial Avengers Disassembled storyline.
13. The Wedding of Vision and Scarlet Witch & Mantis and Swordsman
Immortus officiates the wedding of “two men who are more than men to two women who are more than women” in Giant-Size Avengers #4. Revealed to be the Celestial Madonna–a woman who will one day give birth to a being of immense power–Mantis marries the Cotati who takes the form of the Swordsman, whom Mantis revealed she loved as he died in her arms. At the same time, the Vision marries the Scarlet Witch. Sadly, these unions weren’t meant to last.
12. The Wedding of Yellowjacket and Wasp
The nuptials of these two heroes in Avengers #60 were pretty tripped out… even for the 1960s. Having suffered a mental breakdown and undergoing a personality crisis, Hank Pym became the arrogant, cocky Yellowjacket who claimed to have murdered Pym. The Wasp agreed to marry him in this state, much to the chagrin of the other Avengers. It was later revealed in the between-the-numbers story Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes II that the Avengers knew YJ was Pym (Hawkeye’s idea of therapy was beating some sense into him) and the Wasp believed that going through with marrying Pym as YJ was the best course of action for Pym’s overall well-being as the team and Nick Fury reluctantly back her play. Where’s Doc Samson when you need him?
Now the ruler of Asgard, Thor’s ties to both his fellow Avengers and fellow Asgardians become a conflict of interests upon intervening on the behalf of worshippers in Slokovia praying to him for deliverance from their country’s evil dictator. Thor and the Asgardians save them, which doesn’t sit well with many countries. Iron Man battles Thor as Dr. Doom manipulates things in the background in Avengers Vol. 3 #63. In the end, the Asgardians think Thor caved too quickly. Thor tells Balder the Brave, Sif, Enchantress, and the Warriors Three–his longtime friends and allies–that the Avengers are a force to be reckoned with. As they leave, Thor looks at a photo of himself, Captain America, and Iron Man. He tosses it to the side and cries, the bond between the “Big 3” Avengers damaged perhaps irreparably.
10. The Redemption of Henry Pym
Pym, who suffered from a history of mental instability and an inferiority complex, really fell from grace when he struck the Wasp (a storyline that many creators in recent years have rehashed), vowing to leave super-heroics behind him. Not long after, he planned on taking his own life in West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 #17, but Firebird stops him. In the next few issues, he becomes Dr. Pym, scientific adventurer–not Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, or Yellowjacket. This time around, he shrinks and grows objects, not himself–in one of his best incarnations. Redeeming himself, he rejoins the Avengers–much to the delight of Hawkeye and Iron Man. Eventually, he became the de facto leader of the West Coast Avengers and currently is the official leader (and scientist supreme) of the Mighty Avengers.
9. The Discovery of Captain America
In Avengers #4, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes discover Captain America has been frozen in ice since World War II. Not long after, Cap becomes synonymous with the Avengers and has been considered the glue that has held the team together, serving as leader numerous times. Other Avengers even claim that the team would’ve disbanded if they hadn’t found Cap, considered to be the definitive Avenger.
8. The Aftermath of Battle
The Masters of Evil devastate Avengers Mansion, brutally beat Hercules, Black Knight, and Jarvis. To add insult to injury, Baron Zemo destroys Captain America’s personal items in order to get a rise out of him. He didn’t. After the Avengers beat the villains–and Cap soundly kicks Zemo’s ass–in Avengers #277, Cap is seen crying, something that does not happen very often. Roger Stern’s writing and John Buscema’s artwork really characterize how human Steve Rogers is, tugging on the reader’s heartstrings in the process.
7. In Full Force
Doc Samson tells Iron Man, Wonder Man, Namor, and Hercules that he should be the one who goes after the mindless, savage Hulk in Incredible Hulk #316. Iron Man reluctantly agrees, but warns him that if he doesn’t take down the Hulk soon, the Avengers would be back–in full force. The way writer/artist John Byrne draws this sequence with close-ups on Iron Man in each panel really sells this scene. Iron Man keeps that promise as two teams of Avengers take care of business, defeating the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #321-322.
6. Captain America’s Heart-to-Heart With Superman
After snapping at each other throughout the JLA/Avengers mini-series, Captain America and Superman–the alpha males and leaders of their respective teams–make their peace in the 4th issue. Cap confesses that he believes that the Avengers don’t do enough for humanity, whereas Supes confesses that he believes the JLA does too much for humanity. Their respect for each other evident, Superman (and Batman, for that matter) believes Cap is the man to lead both the Avengers and JLA in the coming battle to decide the fate of two universes. In turn, Cap gives Superman his shield, which Big Blue is honored to carry.
5. Having Words With Ultron
Ultron goes too far this time, brutally murdering the people of Slorenia and capturing Vision, Hank Pym, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and the Grim Reaper in Avengers Vol. 3 #22. He unleashes an army of robotic doppelgangers on Thor, Captain America, Firestar, and Black Panther. With his captives on the ropes, the wall explodes, revealing a disheveled, bloodied, and pissed off unit of Avengers. Thor clearly speaks for them all when he says, “Ultron… We would have words with thee.” This scene was even voted the “Best Moment of 1999” by Wizard Magazine. For an encore, by the end of the issue, Pym defeats Ultron, feeling like he regained his soul and his self-confidence.
4. Journey to the Center of the Android
In Avengers #93–the 5th part of the classic Kree-Skrull War–Hank Pym as Ant-Man shrinks and enters the android body of the Vision in order to repair him after the latter was shot down by three cows (really). However, the Vision’s immune system doesn’t make it easy for Pym. What makes this issue such a high point is the amazing artistry of Neal Adams.
3. A Voice That Commands a God
One of the Avengers’ greatest moments happens in Daredevil #233 of all places. Daredevil has defeated Nuke but not before the psychopath shoots up Hell’s Kitchen. Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man arrive on the scene, tending to the wounded and putting out fires. This scene is told from the perspective of reporter Ben Urich (vis-à-vis definitive Daredevil artist/writer Frank Miller): “A soldier with a voice that could command a god–and does.” Miller delivers in those two panels what the Avengers are.
2. Even an Android Can Cry
The Vision–a villain created by Ultron–is sent to assassinate the Avengers. However, the Vision turns on his creator. In the end, the Avengers offer the allegedly soulless and emotionless android membership in their ranks. He accepts and excuses himself, where he’s seen crying in what is considered one of the medium’s most iconic panels of all time in Avengers #57.
1. Captain America Vs. Thanos
Wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, nihilistic Thanos easily defeats Iron Man, Vision, Thor II (Eric Masterson), Starfox, Namor, Quasar, She-Hulk, Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Drax the Destroyer, Firelord, Nova, Cloak, Cyclops, and Dr. Doom in The Infinity Gauntlet #4. The only one left is Captain America, whom Thanos thinks is nothing more than a joke, given that Cap has no super-powers per se. If Cap is scared, he shows no fear as he strides over to challenge Thanos. He tells Thanos that as long as one man stands against him, Thanos’ll never achieve his victory. As Thanos delivers the killing blow, Cap stares him down, never once cowering, nor wavering, nor blinking. This is the epitome of heroism. This is why Cap is considered the definitive Avenger and who this is the #1 moment.
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