50 Greatest Avengers Stories: #40-36
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!
Each day will have five more stories on the countdown (eventually I think it’ll get to three stories a day). Here is a master list of every story featured so far. Here are #40-36!
40. “The Terrible Toll of the Taskmaster” Avengers #194-196
David Michelinie, George Perez and a different inker every issue (Joe Rubinstein, Dan Green and Jack Abel) gave us this fun three-parter that introduced one of the coolest characters of the 1970s, the Taskmaster, the villain who has both one of the coolest power sets (he can automatically do anything he sees someone else do, so if he sees Hawkeye shoot an arrow, he can instantly shoot an arrow like Hawkeye) and one of the coolest set-ups for a villain (Taskmaster runs a series of henchmen training schools). Now, you might ask, would a guy who can do everything instantly just because of his superpower really be the guy you would go to to teach skills to other people? No, probably not, but come on, a henchmen training school? That’s awesome! And the Taskmaster has one of George Perez’s coolest costume designs of all-time.
39. “Time — And Time Again” Avengers #267-269
The popular Avengers mini-series Avengers Forever (which Stern co-wrote the last 10 issues of) took a great deal of inspiration from this three-part storyline that involved alternate timelines, an entire Council of Kangs and an epic battle between Kang and Immortus – with the Avengers stuck in the middle! John Buscema and Tom Palmer did the art.
38. “The Coming of the Avengers” Avengers Vol. 1 #1
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers came up with one of the more outlandish origins for a superhero team that you’ll likely ever see, well, at least when it comes to a superhero team that is still being published today and has inspired a billion dollar movie. And yet, this tale of Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man and the Wasp being manipulated against the Hulk by Loki has just enough spark in the interactions between the various characters that it really does work. It gave no hint as to what this title would eventually become, but it ends up being a delightful yarn in and of itself (and any comic that involves the Hulk pretending to be a robot clown has got to be a classic, right?).
37. “The Court Martial of Yellowjacket” Avengers #212-213, 217
Jim Shooter, Alan Kupperberg, Bob Hall and Dan Green produced this memorable moment in Hank Pym’s life. Hank had recently decided to rejoin the Avengers when he felt that his wife, the Wasp, was growing tired of him. He figured becoming an Avenger again would excite her. Well, during one battle, Hank was so determined to impress her that he blasted a bad guy right when Captain America was busy trying to talk her down. The Avengers decide to court martial Hank. In #213, Hank basically snaps. He comes up with this asinine idea to create a killer robot that will attack the Avengers during the court martial and he’ll save the day and redeem himself in the eyes of his teammates. When his wife tries to stop him from this plan, he strikes her. By the end of the issue, he is no longer an Avenger and no longer married. Nearly every Hank Pym story from this point on referenced this event in Hank’s life.
36. “Secret Invasion” Secret Invasion #1-8
Ever since Civil War split the Avengers into two factions (one, led by Iron Man, registered with the government and another, led by Luke Cage, went on the run to avoid registration), mistrust was everywhere in the Marvel Universe. It only makes sense, then, to learn that the Skrulls had been using this time of uncertainty to secretly invade Earth! The heroes of Earth are dealt a pretty major blow early in the series (especially when the Avengers learn that their teammate, Spider-Woman, is really the Queen of the Skrulls) but eventually, the heroes fight back, especially when the new Captain America and a resurrected Thor show up to give us our first meeting of Marvel’s “Big Three” in quite awhile (Siege would be the first time the “Big Three” would get together with everyone in their “proper” identity, namely Cap being Steve Rogers again). Sadly, the events of Secret Invasion paved the way for Norman Osborn to take over SHIELD and begin a Dark Reign where NO true superhero would be safe! Leinil Francis Yu and Mark Morales did the artwork for this series, which also crossed over into the pages of New Avengers and Mighty Avengers.