Sunday, 22 April 2012

Avengers Assembled

If you had to pick six Avengers to be on the team who would you pick?  The Avengers Assemble movie has gone with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye.  Mostly obvious choices for the movie audience, Hawkeye being the exception.  Hardcore comics fans will always have a favourite line-up but I am betting most would not favour this six.  Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's Ultimates updated and re-booted the Avengers in an alternate ultimate Marvel universe in 2002 and the movie takes its tone from their re-imagining.  Samuel L. Jackson may be fanboy heaven as Nick Fury but for this Silver and Bronze Age fan this is not really the Avengers.

The Avengers Pencil Art by Jack Kirby, Inks: George Roussos
Avengers #4 (March 1964)

Growing up The Avengers was my favourite book and remained so until Brian Michael Bendis killed off most of my heroes in 2004 (Avengers #500 - #503).  I swore then I would not buy another Avengers comic and I have stayed true to my word.  This event also led me to dropping all of the Marvel series I was reading in the aftermath of this crime and I have not been tempted back.  Wolverine an Avenger?  Spider-man an Avenger? Bucky alive?  At least they are not in the movie.

I can still enjoy my Avengers, the real Avengers, from the Silver and Bronze Ages, as imagined by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, John Busema, Neal Adams, Steve Englehart, Jim Shooter, John Byrne, Roger Stern and George Perez.  To name a few of the talented creators who worked on the series.

Anyway, who would you pick to be in your Avengers?  You are allowed six heroes on your team and because it is my blog all nominations for Wolverine and Spider-man will simply not be counted.  My team would be:

Captain America
Captain America by John Buscema

Discovered frozen in suspended animation since the death of Bucky at the end of World War Two by the Avengers in the truly classic #4 (March 1964, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), Cap became the leader but more importantly the heart of the team very quickly.  Brave, inspirational, wise and tactically astute he embodies what it is to be an Avenger.

Thor by John Buscema
Founder member Thor (Avengers #1, September 1963, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) is the powerhouse of the team who learns to respect and revere his team mates.  The other Avengers are awestruck at the presence of a legendary god in their company, they certainly appreciate that he is on their side.  Thor provides the team with the ability to span space and time, giving them the opportunity to adventure anywhere in the universe in any era.

Iron Man
Iron Man by John Buscema
Another founding member, Iron Man provides the funds to run and house the team in Avengers Mansion.  Often elected Chairman, but usually deferring to Captain America in the heat of battle, Iron Man provides the technology to aid the team in its quest to protect Earth from threats no one hero could withstand.  Iron Man also provides Jarvis, the Avengers' butler and confidante.  Jarvis should never be depicted as a computer.  Edwin Jarvis was in the Royal Air Force in World War Two before becoming the Stark family butler.

Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch Pencil Art by John Buscema, inks: John Costanza
Avengers # 105 (November 1972) script by Steve Englehart
Joining the team as a member of "Cap's kooky quartet" in Avengers #16 (May 1965), along with her brother Quicksilver and Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch became a mainstay of the team.  Her mixture of magical and mutant abilities made her extremely powerful, arguably the most powerful Avenger of them all.  Her romance with Vision provided huge scope for sub-plots that ran for years.  Bendis used Scarlet Witch to destroy the team in 2004, unforgivable.

Hawkeye by George Perez

Clint Barton also made his debut as a team member in Avengers #16 as Hawkeye.  He also served in the Avengers as Goliath when he took Hank Pym's growth serum (Avengers #63, April 1969, Roy Thomas and Gene Colan).  In his early career on the team he constantly clashed with Captain America, due to his difficulties dealing with authority, and Quicksilver, due to his interest in Pietro's sister Scarlet Witch.  He experienced feelings of inadequacy due to his lack of  super powers, hence his switch to the Goliath persona.  Hawkeye demonstrated his worth to the team many times, memorably when he singlehandedly saves the entire team from the Collector (Avengers #174, August 1978, Jim Shooter, Bill Mantlo and Dave Wenzel).  Hawkeye eventually becomes an authority figure himself and he establishes the West Coast Avengers.  Hawkeye is the bravest of all Avengers as he has no super powers or protective technology to aid him in his battles.

Vision, pencil art by John Buscema, inks: George Klein
Avengers #58 (November 1968) script by Roy Thomas
My sixth and final spot on the team is filled by the Vision.  Vision is my favourite Avenger and he symbolises the team for me.  When I was buying the Avengers in the seventies the Vision's picture was always in the top left corner of the book.  The Vision was synonymous with the Avengers in my mind and he still is to this day.  I greatly enjoy tales before the Vision appeared (Avengers #57, October 1968, Roy Thomas and John Buscema) and subsequent Silver and Bronze Age adventures when he was not featured in the book but to my mind it was always somehow better when he was there.  His ability, as a synthetic being, to be wraith like and phase through solids or become denser than diamond when required are unique.  His developing emotions and personality as he comes to terms with his artificial origins and his love for Scarlet Witch provided writers with a depth of storytelling rarely matched in comics.  The destruction of the character by Bendis in 2004 still leaves me angry, as you will have gathered by now Bendis is not on my Christmas card list!

Others who could have made the cut:

Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne almost make my six and would certainly be first reserves. 

Hank Pym and his alter-egos - Ant-man, Giant-man, Goliath, Yellowjacket
Art by Bob Hall
Janet Van Dyne pencil art by John Buscema, inks: George Klein
Avengers #59 (December 1968) script by Roy Thomas

If the Hulk should be on a team it should be the Defenders, Wonder Man and Beast made a great pair in the seventies and I enjoyed the contributions of Hercules, Black Panther, Quicksilver and Black Knight but you have to draw the line somewhere.

That is my list, what is yours?  


  1. Let's see.

    I think the Vision has to be in there, as does Hawkeye.

    Although she was never an official member back then, she was in the strip often enough for me to go with the Black Widow instead of the Scarlet Witch because Wanda's powers always drove me up the wall with their unreliability. The Widow might not have had much in terms of powers but at least what she had always worked.

    I'm choosing the Black Panther ahead of Cap simply because he was never seen as the leader of the group, and I like the idea of the Avengers as a team of spiritual equals.

    I'm also going for Hank Pym's Goliath.

    For the sixth slot, I'm going with the wondrous Wasp because you can't have Hank Pym in it without his better half.

  2. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

  3. Ever since the late 70s, I've been convinced seven is the magic number. I agree with the Big Three - Avengers since day one. However, I'd keep them in reserve, as Thomas did in the 60s. My core team is Cap with Captain Marvel ( Carol Danvers) as his 2IC. She brings intel officer skills plus the Kree connection.
    The emotional core central to my team is Luke Cage and Iron Fist, the everyman and the Kung Fu billionaire. My final choice is Ultimate Wasp: her ethnicity is important in what is essentially an (ahem) WASP-y group.

    The Vision was undoubtedly the quintessential Avenger in the 70s but his story ( "what if Mr. Spock fell in love?") isn't a cultural trope any more.Technology is less Ultron and more "I haz cheezeburger". Much as I like him, I think the only way to utilise him is as a replacement for the JARVIS artificial intelligence.

  4. Cap,Iron Man,Thor,Goliath and the Wasp and Hawkeye.

  5. I'm in complete agreement with the original post. First of all John and Sal Buscema were the best artists and it is a shame no one today even comes close. I feel the same way about Bendis! ..couldn't even provide decent artwork for the issues. Cap/Black Panther, Black Knight/Hawkeye, Vision or Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver/Beast, Thor/Hank Pym's Goliath, and Iron Man/Wasp. wait is that cheating? Oh, crap. I forgot Mantis..hmm. I rue the day comics went from uniforms to sports jackets and sunglasses WTF

    1. Thanks for the comment. Bendis is right up there with Kang and Graviton, that is to say evil!

  6. If the characters existed IRL, and if I were trying to assemble an efficient team: Captain America, for leadership and experience; Thor, for sheer power; and Iron Man, for power and for Tony Stark's financial and technological resources. With those three, any other three members would be almost superfluous.

    If I were writing the stories, then the Kooky Quartet (Cap, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver) offer more possibilities for drama, as they did not always get along well. Also, they were less powerful than the original members, and would have to rely on ingenuity and teamwork to accomplish their missions.