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 1970s: The Classic Era.
Roy Thomas was on the book until 1972, but before he left he created one of the all time great storylines. The Kree-Skrull War, which basically involved two alien races (The Kree and The Skrull) going to war with Earth (and the Avengers) stuck in the middle, is considered the quintessential storyline of this era. The storyline increased the scope of the book as The Avengers traversed the Galaxy and was also responsible for sowing the seeds for one of the most bizarre romances in comic history: Scarlet Witch and The Vision.
In 1972 writer Steve Englehart started his run on the book, which would last until 1976. He had The Avengers fight another super team called The Defenders (whose members include The Hulk, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange) and deal with The Serpent Crown. But he is perhaps best known for his Celestial Madonna Saga, in which he introduces Mantis to the team.
Mantis is destined to give birth to a being that will save the universe and so naturally The Avengers get involved. The saga also changes The Vision’s origins, his body stolen by Ultron from the 1940s Human Torch android, and has him propose to The Scarlet Witch.
Jim Shooter joined the book after Englehart left. He continued to create big stories and penned classic arcs like The Nefaria Trilogy and The Korvac Saga. Shooter introduced Henry Gyrich as the team’s liaison to US Government. Gyrich didn’t get on with super humans and often obstructed The Avengers. Gyrich also demanded that The Falcon, an African American with wings, join the team, which actually leads to tension due to The Falcon feeling like he is the token minority and he eventually leaves the team.
Throughout the 70s the constant shifting of The Avengers roster continued. The Ex Russian super spy, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson’s character) joined the team in 1972. Other notable additions where founding X-Man Beast, Ms Marvel (Marvel’s version of Wonder Woman) and Wonder Man (another reluctant villain turned hero).