Ahead of the release of The Avengers Assemble, contributor Dan Cole is taking us through the comic book history of The Avengers. You can read the first installment here but here we’re going through the 1980s: Domestic Violence and The First Spin Off.
The Avengers in the 80s were defined by three things: Hank Pym’s breakdown, writer Roger Stern joining the book and the creation of The West Coast Avengers.
Hank Pym’s breakdown was a mixture of an inferiority complex and identity problems (he changed his codename and costume a lot). This lead to him abusing his wife Wasp (image above), failing the Avengers on a few missions, ending up in jail and finally leaving the team (he would return years later). Although Roger Stern would later try and redeem the character, the domestic abuse remains Hank Pym’s defining moment until this day.
Stern would create some classic storylines in the 80s, notably Avengers Under Siege that involved the Masters of Evil attacking Avengers Mansion. After this storyline the Avengers would move onto a floating island known as Hydrobase, which would be sunk just before the decade finished. Stern would infuse the team with new characters She-Hulk (A sexier version of the Hulk), Prince Namor (Fantastic Four villain and Ruler of Atlantis) and Tigra (A feisty cat woman). But the biggest addition would be Monica Rambeau, who was created by Stern. This African American would take up the name Captain Marvel and actually lead the team in this period.
Stern would also create (with artist Bob Hall) The West Coast Avengers (1984). Hawkeye creates the team after The Vision suggests expanding The Avengers influence. He recruits Tigra, Wonder Man, Iron Man (who is actually Tony Stark’s friend James Rhodes under the armour) and Mockingbird (Hawkeye’s love interest). The team would go on many missions and gain new members (Even The Thing from The Fantastic Four), but the book finished in January 1994 after the team disbanded, some of its members would later form the team Force Works.