New Avengers

When I was collecting comics, almost everyone I knew liked the X-men. This was around the late '80s, during the Claremont/Silvestri run. My friends eventually got me into the team as well, and it helped that I was already a fan of X-factor, a team comprised of the original five X-men, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel. But the team I really liked, contrary to popular opinion, was the Avengers.

The first issue I had was number #275, which can be found at the following link: http://www.plexico.net/avengers/covers/a271.html. While the Avengers' roster has included some true powerhouses over the years, this particular issue was an underdog tale, pitting Wasp and Scott Lang, the second Ant-man, against the nigh invulnerable Absorbing Man and Titania. The desperation of the situation, and the strategies that were ultimately employed had me hooked. Spider-man often fought foes well out of his league, and really good writers found ways for him to prevail. I enjoyed that sort of storytelling in his books, and I liked it in the Avengers. Soon I was collecting, as well as rounding up as many back issues as I could.

DC Comics had their Justice League, which since the 1960s has had at one time or another all the core characters in their comic universe in its roster. But when Stan Lee first assembled the Avengers for Marvel, the line-up didn't include the likes of Spider-man, Daredevil, or other prominent solo heroes. It did gather Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Wasp and her husband Hank Pym, the original Ant-man. The Hulk didn't stick around for long but in the fourth issue, Captain America would join and become the core of the team over the years, as well as its most frequent chairperson.

The roster has changed a lot over the years. Usually there have been an average of seven active members at a time, and at one point there was a second team operating on the West Coast. It's been a while since I've collected comics, but I did enjoy the trade paperback of The Ultimates, a fresh alternate reality take on the original team. A few months ago a woman in my office was giving away some comics her husband had in storage, including the shocking Avengers #500. By the time I was done reading, Jack of Hearts had exploded and taken Scott Lang with him, and She-Hulk had gone berserk and ripped the The Vision in half. Iron Man, a recovered alcoholic, also found himself acting drunk this issue with no explanation. It seemed the stuff of an alternate reality, surely due to be undone by the end of the “Avengers Disassembled” storyline. But from what I've read online, it all culminated in The Scarlet Witch going mad and unleashing chaotic vengeance on her teammates, blaming them for the loss of her children years ago. More disturbing was the discovery of not only Thor's death, but that of the archer Hawkeye, one of my favorite characters.

What this all seems to be leading up to is a team of New Avengers. Included in the roster are Spider-man and Wolverine, no doubt Marvel's answer to the JLA's Superman and Batman. It's piqued my interest enough that I've been lurking on an Avengers message board and I'll be checking the Avengers Forever site as well as Marvels to keep up with what's happening. I have no intention of collecting comics again, but I might just have to look for the trade paperbacks of these stories when they come out....


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