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50 Greatest Avengers Stories Master List

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Avengers, we’re doing a poll of the greatest Avengers stories of all-time! You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest Avengers Stories!

Click on any story for a write-up on that story.

50. “The Sentinels Are Alive and Well” Avengers #102-104

49. “Deliver Us From…The Masters of Evil!” Avengers #54-55

48. “The Contest” West Coast Avengers Annual #2/Avengers Annual #16

47. “The Trial” Avengers #160

46. “The Last Avengers Story” The Last Avengers Story #1-2

45. “Darker Than Scarlet” Avengers West Coast #56-57, 60-62

44. “Siege” Siege #1-4

43. “Red Zone” Avengers Vol. 3 #65-70

42. “Absolute Vision” Avengers #251-254

41. “His Name is Yellowjacket” Avengers #59-60

40. “The Terrible Toll of the Taskmaster” Avengers #194-196

39. “Time — And Time Again” Avengers #267-269

38. “The Coming of the Avengers” Avengers Vol. 1 #1

37. “The Court Martial of Yellowjacket” Avengers #212-213, 217

36. “Secret Invasion” Secret Invasion #1-8

35. “Search for the Scarlet Witch” Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1-9

34. “Run the Mission, Don’t Get Seen, Save the World” Secret Avengers #16-21

33. “The Old Order Changeth” Avengers Volume 1 #16

32. “Let the Game Begin” Avengers Volume 3 #69-71

31. “Vision Quest” West Coast Avengers #42-45

30. “The Morgan Conquest” Avengers Volume 3 #1-3

29. “The Gatherers Saga” Avengers #343-344,348-349,355-363,372-375

28. “Betrayal by a Friend” Avengers Annual #10

27. “Homeland Security” Ultimates #7-13

26. “Breakout!” New Avengers #1-6

25. “Avengers Disassembled” Avengers #500-503

24. “Young Avengers” #1-12

23. “The Trial of Hank Pym” Avengers #227-230

22. “Operation: Galactic Storm” Captain America #398-400, Avengers West Coast #80-82, Quasar #32-35, Wonder Man #7-9, Avengers #345-347, Iron Man #278-279, Thor #445-446

21. “The Bride of Ultron” Avengers #161-162, #170-171

20. “The Final Threat” Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2

19. “The Avengers/Defenders War” Avengers #115-118 and Defenders #8-11

18. “The Nights of Wundagore” Avengers #185-187

17. “The Serpent Crown” Avengers #141-144, 146-149

16. “Civil War” Civil War #1-7

15. Ultimates 2 #1-13

14. “Lost in Space-Time” West Coast Avengers #17-24

13. “Super-Human” Ultimates #1-6

12. “Assault on Olympus” Avengers #281-285

11. “JLA/Avengers” JLA/Avengers #1-4

10. “Captain America Joins… The Avengers!” Avengers Volume 1 #4

9. “Nefaria Supreme!” Avengers #164-166

8. “Kang Dynasty” Avengers Volume 3 #41-55 and Avengers Annual 2001

7. “Celestial Madonna Saga” Avengers #129-135 and Giant Size Avengers #2-4

6. “Behold, the Vision!”/”Even an Android Can Cry” Avengers Volume 1 #57-58″

5. “Avengers Forever” Avengers Forever #1-12

4. Ultron Unlimited” Avengers Volume 3 #19-22

3. “Kree/Skrull War” Avengers #89-97

2. “The Korvac Saga” Avengers #167-169, 170-171, 173-177

1. “Under Siege” Avengers #273-277

14 Comments

I want to re-do my vote. I put in too many “important” stories and left off stories I really love. (THE TRIAL, BRIDE OF ULTRON, WINGS AND ARROWS, THE MARTYR PERPLEX, YESTERDAY QUEST.)

You probably did it wrong then, Ron. I callously tossed many great and classic stories off my list in favor of the stories that had inspired me as a child and have no regrets.

I did the same as Chris. Kree/Skrull War didn’t make my list. It rightly should be in the Top 10, probably the Top 5, but it’s not one of my favorites. Same with Avengers #14 and #1. At this point I’m still expecting to see 8 of my picks total on this list, though. Although that does mean I need 6 to show up in the top 15, which might not happen.

Oops, meant Avengers #16 up there. I always make that mistake for some reason.

Description of a process, for any who care.

In truth, I had difficulty making a list. I was torn between my version of what a top 10 Avengers list “should” look like. Something along the lines of

1. Captain America joins the Avengers
2. Kree/Skrull War
3. Behold the Vision
4. Celestial Madonna Saga
5. The Old Order changeth
6. Under Siege
7. Korvac Saga
8. Ultron Unlimited
9. Final Threat
10. The first battle with the Masters of Evil or Nights of Wundagore of JLA/Avengers or Serpent Crown Saga or the Morgan Conquest or that war of the gods story in Avengers #98-100 or…

But that seemed to boring to me. And my first comic ever which led to a 25-year obsession with superheroes was an Avengers comic, and couldn’t not be on this list. But between the many stories I love and think are great and the ones that had the greatest impact of my coming to love Avengers, I was at 20 something stories and just not breaking it down. Stories by Thomas or Busiek tended to be rising to the top and could have dominated my list. But as I looked at my 25 nominees, I counted exactly 10 writers. And I said hey, why not just pick one work per writer. And now we were getting somewhere. Sometimes it was hard. When in doubt, I leaned toward the story I thought may need more love.

My list:

1. Behold… the Vision!, Avengers #57-58, by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and George Klein

This was almost in question. Vision is my favorite Avengers. Buscema is my favorite artist. Ultron is their greatest villain. Unfortunately, my one per writer rule meant killing a lot of great Thomas stories, including the Kree-Skrull War (which did fine for itself, but should have beaten the other two) and Avengers #100. Also, I had decided one per writer, but also wanted to represent all my favorite artists. And Buscema would be represented in my Stern pick. So I did briefly consider going with Kree/Skrull War to represent Adams. But decided against it. Buscema is worth two picks and there is no Avengers story I love more than this one.

2. The final threat, Avengers annual 7, by Jim Starlin and Joe Rubinstein

Avengers is one of my favorite superhero concepts. One of the few I like better is Thanos. This almost feels like cheating. It is high among my favorite comics ever, but really because I see it as a Thanos comic. But it has Avengers in the title, so it counts. And it really is the height of comics for me. I only included the one issue because it stands alone well enough. The Marvel Two-in-One issue is more of an epilogue.

3. Captain America joins the Avengers, Avengers #4, by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and George Roussos

As you can see from my fake list above, I think this should be considered the greatest Avengers story ever. And in general, Stan Lee should have had a lot more love on the list than he did. That said, I don’t love Stan Lee’s Avengers. I love Thomas and Buscema. But I appreciate Stan Lee’s Avengers. And this is the best of them, and it’s hard to argue anything is actually better than this (even though I managed to call it #3).

4. Gatherers saga, runs through Avengers #343-344,348-349,355-363,372-375, by Bob Harras,Steve Epting and Tom Palmer

Now we reach my childhood. Bob Harras and Steve Epting. I was enthralled by this saga. After Infinity Gauntlet and X-Men #1-3, this was my favorite childhood story. Nobody older or younger than me likes these comics, and people tend to make fun of the jackets. But I think it holds up to adult scrutiny. Solid melodrama and soap opera carry it through. Harras has a fun habit of ending every issue with a really dramatic tagline. “Not even the mighty Avengers can defy the gods!”

5. Celestial Madonna saga, Avengers #128-129, Giant-Size Avengers #2, by Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Joe Staton, et al

This is a classic and the obvious Englehart choice to my mind. From the history of the universe through the death of Swordsman, this wild adventure across time and space remains excellent.

6. In search of Olympia, Avengers #308-310, by John Byrne, Paul Ryan, and Tom Palmer

Alluded to above, Avengers #309 was my first comic ever. I was fascinated by all these colorful heroes, some I recognized and some I did not. Olympia has vanished into the Negative Zone, and the Avengers must find the missing Eternals to save the life of Gilgamesh and run afoul of Blastaar! Count the number of mind-blowing concepts 8-year old me got exposed to. Note I was 8 and had not yet read the Epic of Gilgamesh, so only had a vague sense of who he was.

7. Siege by stealth and storm, Avengers #158-159, by Jim Shooter,Sal Buscema, and Pablo Marcos

This is the famous battle with Graviton. I think all the people who voted for the Nefaria story like it for reasons similar to why I like this. Like many of the best stories, this is earth’s mightiest heroes up against a foe mightier than them all. The Korvac saga also falls into this category, but this holds a special place in my heart, and once I’d decided on one-per-writer, I threw out Korvac saga. And honestly, I think I like this story better anyway.

8. Once an Avenger… Avengers (1998) #1-3, by Kurt Busiek, George Perez, and Al Vey

After Thomas, picking only one Busiek story was the next most painful part. I almost went with Kang War or Avengers Forever. Then realized I didn’t have any George Perez stories yet. And what an omission that would be! Forget Neal Adams. George Perez is the second greatest Avengers artist ever (nobody beats Big John). There were three obvious contenders. Ultron Unlimited, JLA/Avengers and this. Ultron Unlimited is a great story, but I like it less than everybody else does, which somehow makes me like it less than I do (if that makes sense). JLA/Avengers is the ultimate in nerd porn. Everything you wanted to see in a story with those two teams by exactly the right creative team. But Once an Avenger (or the Morgan Conquest as Brian called it, despite the issues being explicitly labeled Once an Avenger parts 1-3 and Once an Avenger being a much better name) cut straight to the heart of what it meant to be an Avenger. Plus offered a lot of the same “show me everything” that JLA/Avengers did. I remember reading this in 1998.

As I noted above, I had loved Avengers 309 and then the Gatherers Saga (I’d also like Byrne’s Nebula story, Hama’s Tetrarchs of Entropy story, and the Collection Obsession). But then Avengers got a bit rough. I kept reading because I didn’t know better. I had trouble making sense out of the Crossing or the issues after it (that’s because they don’t make any sense, but in my youth I blamed myself rather than the material when I didn’t appreciate a story). And then Avengers #400 was pretty bad (and Bendis used the same story in Avengers #500, but made it worse). And then Heroes Reborn was unimpressive.

And then Avengers #1. And it was right. I had by that time only read so many old Avengers. But I knew that this was right. And that the last 4 years had been wrong.

9. Avengers vs. Nebula, runs through Avengers #255-260, by Roger Stern John Buscema, and Tom Palmer

This is a great era for Avengers. My favorite part is Captain Marvel. And Tom Palmer over John Buscema. Which makes the work look more like Palmer than Buscema, but that’s okay.

Under Siege was the obvious choice. There were plenty of other options. But this stood out. I like cosmic stories. I like Thanos. So Nebula worked. And this was Captain Marvel really proving herself solo, trapped in deep space. But Under Siege. I had a hard time. I decided to choose the road less voted for, and that made all the difference.

10. Sidekicks, Young Avengers #1-6, by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

In the absence of the one-per-writer rule, this would not have cracked the top 20. But I like the story. And voting for it made me feel less like the cranky old man in my ’30s I sometimes feel like, complaining about all the kids’ choices. “See, I do like new Avengers comics”, I tell myself. These are good comics. A good writer, a good artist, and they understood something about the concept of Avengers. Something I wasn’t seeing in New Avengers.

At the time, Brian had told us to break up the arcs, so I did as I was told. But I accept the decision to make it all one big story and would happily have voted for the entire original series.

However, even by narrowing to ten writers, I shamefully left Michelinie off the list. Nights of Wundagore would have been the choice. So I stared at Nights of Wundagore. And I stared at Young Avengers. And the deadline was approaching. And…

I also like Walt Simonson, Larry Hama, and Chris Claremont but didn’t agonize over the omissions.

So there you have it, ten Avengers stories by the ten best Avengers writers: Thomas, Busiek, Lee, Englehart, Stern, Michelinie, Shooter, Harras, Byrne, Starlin, Heinberg.

Somebody tell Bendis to get off my lawn and stick to crime noir comics and Ultimate Spider-Man.

Ironic, Bendis has written more Avengers issues than any writer and yet, he’s only got what 3 stories on this whole top 50 list (and I’m not even sure Civil War, and Secrete Invasion count as Avengers stories since it was more of a whole Marvel Universe story, than an actual Avengers story).

Why are Civil War and Secret Invasion considered Avengers stories? Since when has the word “Avengers” replaced “Super-Hero”? They were line-wide events that involved everyone. Hell, they were probably the only two books Marvel published that did not have a “The Avengers” prefix in the title.

Shawn-Because Bendis isn’t that great of an Avengers writer. In fact if he hadn’t been able to use Spidey and Wolverine on the team I don’t think his Avengers makes it a year. He just got lucky that the editors gave him the OK to use them.

So, are we going to get 100-51? Pretty please?

Yea! Eight of my ten made it, and I was pretty close on a couple. I laugh because most of my Top Ten are stories I read when I was growing up, 9 & 10 are newer and a couple stories that didn’t make my top ten, but were in the running, were Civil War & Breakout, after reading the list I did forget a couple of great ones. Here were my Top Ten, second number denotes place on master list. Have A Great Fourth!
1. Korvac Saga – 2
2. Under Siege – 1
3. Kree Skrull war – 3
4. Avgrs-Defenders war -19
5. The Great Betrayal – no
6. Bride of Ultron – 21
7. Nefaria supreme – 9
8. Squadron Supreme – no
9. Avengers Forever – 5
10.Kang Dynasty -8

Not a bad list or ordering. Aside from pushing the Bendis stories down a 1000 or so slots, my only major complaint would be seeing Under Siege take #1. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good Avengers story, but I enjoyed stories like The Sentinels Are Alive and Well (#50), Run the Mission, Don’t Get Seen, Save the World (#34), and Bride of Ultron (#21) much more. I also had The Final Threat (#20) ranked #1 on my list.

[…] Anyway, here’s Ultron’s finest hour from the end of Roy Thomas and John Buscema’s Avengers #57 way back in 1968. Entitled “Behold… The Vision!”, the tale was recently voted sixth on Comic Book Resources’ 50 Greatest Avengers Stories Ever Told list. […]

You left out Avengers #56 (“Death Be Not Proud”) that explained what happened to Bucky…

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