In the first of a 6 part series and ahead of one the year’s biggest releases The Avengers Assemble, regular contributor and comic book aficionado Dan Cole takes us through the history of The Avengers from all the way back to the 1960s to the present day.
Last week saw the release of the latest trailer for Marvel Studio’s ambitious Avengers film: the culmination of all their cinematic adaptations, The Avengers Assemble will bring together The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. With a rich history, the Avengers has showcased Earth’s mightiest heroes for over 49 years before its adaptation to the silver screen. So we here at TQS decided to help out our readership with a condensed look at the history of the comic that first introduced the super-team.
There have been two constants since the team’s inception; the teams remit, “The Avengers were born to fight the foes no single superhero can withstand”, and the rotating cast, which has included aliens, gods, robots, X-Men and even members of the Fantastic Four. It is perhaps this constant shifting cast that has managed to make The Avengers seem fresh and exciting no matter the decade. So without further ado, let’s get rolling:
The 1960s: The Legend Begins!
In the beginning The Avengers was created by the legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and was conceived to capitalize on the popularity of their rivals (DC Comics) creation the Justice League of America. First hitting the stand in 1963 The Avengers original team consisted of three big names from the film (Thor, Iron Man and Hulk) and two heroes yet to break out of the comic book pages.
Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym both known as Wasp (who can shrink, fly with insect wings and shoot “stinging” energy blasts) and Ant-Man (who could also shrink and had a helmet which allowed him to communicate with ants), rounded out the team for the first three issues. It wasn’t until issue 4 that Captain America turned up. But before then The Avengers had their first adventure as they fought Thor’s evil brother Loki (much like in the new film).
Loki’s scheming brought the heroes together and after the battle changes to the team where made. At the end of issue 2 Ant-Man became the more imposing Giant-Man because he could now change his size so he could tower over his opponents. Hulk leaves and is then pursued by his teammates, which leads to the discovery of Captain America in a block of ice. After he’s revived he takes the Hulk’s place on the team and is considered a founding member of the team. The team would come to blows with a multitude of villains in the 60s, from the time travelling Kang The Conquer to the Masters of Evil (essentially an evil version of The Avengers).
As well as their formation, the 1960s had a few more significant moments in Avengers history. In Avengers #16 (1965) three new members joined when everyone but Captain America quit the team. Each of the new trio were former villains; Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch who are the children of the X-Men foe Magneto, and Hawkeye who was a reluctant villain who had a bad life. This team of four would prove themselves, but where soon rejoined by Wasp and Goliath (A renamed Giant-Man). The 60s saw a multitude of members join, but the most notable are: Black Panther, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda and The Vision, a “synthezoid” created by the killer robot Ultron (who in turn was created by Hank Pym).
There was also a change in writer as Roy Thomas took over the book in December of 66. As well as focusing on continuity and characterization he established the Avengers Mansion in the heart of New York City, introduced the teams faithful butler Jarvis and the Avengers signature mode of transport; The Quinjet.
So that’s it for part one, make sure to follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when our look at the The Avengers through the 1970s goes live.