My Top 5 – The Avengers

I was reading Avengers before it was cool to read Avengers.

When everyone else was buying X-Men and hoping to get multiple copies of what was sure to be the next comic worth $100 plus, I was a devoted fanboy of not only Avengers but also West Coast Avengers (ok, I have some copies of X-Men #1 from that time as well). While everyone else was busy watching the X-Men cartoon, I was sticking it out with the lesser heroes; you know the guys and gals I’m talking about: Captain America and Iron Man and Black Widow and Hawkeye and…

I was holding the flag for a group of characters that the company itself didn’t know what to do with. It got so bad that when the opportunity arose to have some of the Image Comic guys come back and work on the characters, they wouldn’t dare give them Spiderman or the X-Men, so instead they got the characters not as many people cared about (apparently) – so the Avengers and Fantastic Four were shunted off into another universe where their stories could be told.

Given that the biggest movie in the world (or at least for the year) is opening at the end of the month, it is hard to rationalize those early and not so early days of reading the Avengers. Once Iron Man became a hit and the ball got rolling into the first Avengers movie, Marvel seized on the idea and suddenly where there might have been TWO Avengers titles, there were like 50 titles (and I’m only exaggerating a little bit on that number). For someone who has a copy of issue 9 and a complete run from around issue 140, it became a bit much to try to keep up with.

But two of the first comics I ever bought with my own money were Avengers and West Coast Avengers. Along with Spiderman, these were my windows into the world of comic books. They were the ones whose stories I looked forward to the most every month.

Firestar

Yes, because of the Spiderman and his Amazing Friends cartoon.

But also because when I saw another book on the stands: New Warriors, she was one of the original members. I’d never read her before, but I was struck by how she was someone trying to find her place in the world. Then later, during Busiek’s run on Avengers she got called up to the big leagues. Something about that idea really caught me. Another mutant that the Avengers somehow got a hold of, she (and Justice) sorta acted as the reader’s eyes while they fought alongside the Big Three (Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man).

Scarlet Witch

I think it is partially because when I started reading they (Scarlet Witch and Vision) weren’t a part of any Avengers team, so it felt like a big deal when they did join back up. Wanda has always been a cool character because she has feet in both the X-Men world (what with her father being Magneto) and in the Avengers world. Back in the 90s when it seemed like if the X-Men sunk their claws into you, then your character might never show up in any other book, the fact that she always remained on the Avengers side meant something to this reader.

Even before Bendis had her destroy the Avengers team in Disassembled, even before she wiped out the mutants at the end of House of M, she was this woman who was trying to balance having a family and saving the world and having powers that were probably too much for anyone to handle. She seemed to offer opportunities for storytelling in a way that so many other characters cannot.

Wonder Man

The oldest comic I own is Avengers 9 which features Wonder Man’s origin. He joins the team in that issue, but it turns out that he’s an infiltrator for Baron Zemo to take down the Avengers from the inside. Of course, at the last minute, he has second thoughts and turns on the villains only to perish…

And that might have been the end of it. But in comics, death is not something that lasts. And sure enough, nearly 140 issues later, he “wakes up”.

He’s one of those characters who is tied to so many cool plots and storylines. His brother is the Grim Reaper, an Avengers baddie. His brain patterns were used to bring the Vision to life, making them defacto brothers… which gives him a tie to Ultron. He was “created” by Baron Zemo.

Moon Knight

Yes, Marvel’s “Batman”. He’s one of those guys who is flat out insane.

No, really, he’s legit crazy pants. He has voices in his head talking to him. He develops alternate personalities under the guise of trying to infiltrate the criminal underground and ends up with a fractured psyche. He talks to an ancient Egyptian god: Khonshu, for whom he acts as his hand of vengeance.

I had hopes that he might be the next Marvel character used by Netflix for a new show, but with them pulling their properties back in house (I’m guessing), I’m wondering if that is now more or less likely to actually happen.

Hawkeye

Yes, the Bow and Arrow guy from the movies. When I started reading, Hawkeye was the leader of the West Coast Avengers, and in stark comparison to someone like Captain America or Mr. Fantastic, he led in a very off the cuff sort of way. He was definitely the type of person who leaps, doesn’t worry about where he might land, and somehow makes the best of the fall. And unlike the East Coast squad, he both understood that they might be the “B Team” but he wasn’t going to treat them as such.

Plus, I loved that he had been a villain to start out (one of Iron Man’s villains in fact) that realized he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing, then launched an attack on the Avengers in their mansion, all to prove to them that he deserved a chance on the team.

***

While I obviously dig the Captain Americas and Thors and Iron Mans of the Avengers, the above are the types of characters that, as a reader, you can “claim” as your character. There is something special about that.

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John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

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His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

About John McGuire

Writer of comics and novels. In 2006 his first short story "The God That Failed" was published by Terminus Media in their debut comic Evolution Book 1. Since that time he has had stories published in Terminus Media's Evolution Book 2 and Evolution Special, Kenzer and Company's The Knights of the Dinner Table, and Four J Publishing's The Burner #3. Currently he is eagerly awaiting the digital publishing of his first creator-owned comic The Gilded Age #1 to be published online as well as his first novel The Dark That Follows later this year.
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