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50 Greatest Avengers Stories: #35-31

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 #35-31!


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

Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung returned to the Young Avengers (joined by inker Mark Morales) for this epic story that took over a year to complete (it was a bi-monthly book) where Scarlet Witch’s children, Wiccan and Speed, decide to go find her. Heinberg spent the mini-series mostly trying to redeem Scarlet Witch and make her worthy of being a superhero again. Cheung’s art was amazing, as always.

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

Warren Ellis came on to the Secret Avengers for a six-issue arc with six different artists (some of the best in the business, like Alex Maleev, Stuart Immonen and David Aja). Each issue was essentially a stand-alone story, but there was a through line for the arc. Ellis really did some outstanding work on this short run, including one of the best Black Widow stories of all-time.

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

Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers officially establish that anyone who claims that “Person X is not a real Avenger” is a fool, as they pull off one of the most amazing shake-ups in comic book history, taking their star-studded collection of characters who were currently starring in their own titles and dramatically shook up the roster, instead having Captain America lead a new team of Avengers made up of Cap and three newly reformed super-villains (Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver). The first (and likely the best) of many more Avengers roster shake-ups to come.

32. “Let the Game Begin” Avengers Volume 1 #69-71

In this classic three-parter by Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger, we get the first of many Grandmaster games involving the Avengers. In this one, Grandmaster and Kang are playing a game against each other and each man needs a group to fight for them. Since if Grandmaster wins, he is going to destroy the Earth, the Avengers fight for Kang. The Grandmaster introduces the Squadron Sinister as his champions (the issue was a sort of tie-in with a concurrent Justice League of America issue, since the Squadron Sinister members are all stand-ins for Justice League members. You can read more about it in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed). Later, the Avengers also have the battle Captain America, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner in the past in what was the first appearance of the Invaders!

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

John Byrne took over West Coast Avengers with a flourish as he decided to address a problem that he had with the ending to Roger Stern’s Absolute Vision story (which appeared earlier on the countdown). He felt that the government would never have been okay with the Vision just walking around a free man after he took over the world (even if he was not in his right mind at the time). So Byrne began his run on the West Coast Avengers with Vision being kidnapped and dismantled. The Avengers were able to put him back together, but his personality was dramatically changed. Gone was the loving husband of the Scarlet Witch and in his place was a seemingly personality-free android. Scarlet Witch’s life would never be the same again!


Vision Quest, aka John Byrne Ruins The Vision and Scarlett Witch Forever Because if he Doesn’t Enjoy the Characters then No One Else Should Be Able to Either.

Agreed. Vision Quest ruined the Vision as a character for decades until Perez returned to the series. But the whole Vision/Wanda dynamic was never the same again. In addition, Byrne traded in Vish’s classic John Buscema design for something resembling a barefoot adult version of Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Wanda would only suck harder after Bendis turned her more apeshit than Byrne could ever dream of in this story.

The Squadron Sinister issue nearly made my list. IIRC, the next issue had the 3 remaining Avengers against Cap, Human Torch and Namor, in what was effectively the introduction of The Invaders. Roy Thomas’ Avengers run rivals the Lee/Kirby FF for introducing elements that would form the basis of major Marvel events for decades: The Vision, Yellowjacket, Ultron, the Kree-Skrull war, the Lady Liberators (ok, no one bats a thousand).

Oops, I forgot to mention the Invaders aspect. I edited it in there. Thanks, RG!

You know, I’ve never read Byrne’s West Coast run, but the number of things that were consequences to it that I have read make me want to never ever read it.

I’ll add that I don’t dislike Byrne’s WCA run. But there’s no denying that it was one of the most inexcusable examples of a writer trying to fix what wasn’t broke in the entire history of comics.

@Dr Traveler — It’s actually not bad if you can get past the bullshit. And this should go without saying, but stay away if you’re a fan of The Vision or Scarlett Witch.

I voted for Vision Quest as #2. So yeah you can lay some blame on me. That storyline sucked me into the Avengers as a kid.

The Crazed Spruce

June 25, 2013 at 7:35 am

Sadly, “Vision Quest” was the only one listed here that I actually read. And I never got around to putting my ballot together, so I can’t say for sure I would’ve voted for it, but it definitely would’ve been on my short list.

The Kang/Grandmaster story is my second one to make the list. A nice gem from the Roy Thomas era that introduces a whole whack of elements like the Grandmaster and the Squadron and the Invaders (and Growing Man!), plus, it’s a good showcase for the Black Knight, who joins at the end of this story.

Plus, it’s my favourite Kang story ’cause it’s a suitably wicked portrayal (Kang’s power of life vs. death choice at the end is a nice moment), but doesn’t go heavy on the alternate reality/identity stuff which, I confess, makes my head hurt.

Shuoldn’t #32 be volume 1?

Yeah, that was a funny typo. Fixed now, thanks!

I like to reread Byrne’s WCA (and A:WC), but I do not think I would consider them among the greatest Avengers stories. Except maybe the Torch revival and the issues where they fought that which survives/endures/dresses the Scarlet Witch in black.

The team was always in flux, was always being attacked (rather than out to stop a villain), and the stories never seemed to have clear cut endings.

Secret Avengers was good, but is another I do not know if I would include in a greatest list. I do hope Remender’s run makes the cut.

vision quest sad to say showed that if john byren hates what is done by another writer to a certain character he will just try and wreck the character more. and was wondering when the storyline where caps crazy quartet joined the team would pop up on the list.

“Let the Game Begin” is another one that just missed my Top 10. Those 3 back issues were some of the first comics I ever owned and were a large part of why I became such a big fan of the Avengers.

Surprised to see Secret Avengers on here. I thought those issues were good, but nothing extraordinary.


“Surprised to see Secret Avengers on here. I thought those issues were good, but nothing extraordinary.”

I read the hardcover and had the same reaction (as well as “that sure looks purty”), but I think the Black Widow time travel issue was extraordinary. Ellis indulged his penchant for explaining science and its rules but it enhanced rather than intruded upon the story. I’ve reread that story a couple times.

I also liked how Ellis used Moon Knight. He doesn’t usually work in a group setting, but Ellis integrated him into the cast nicely (even if the other characters made fun of him).

Conversely, Steve Rogers endorsing torture in issue 21 was a major downer. I hated that scene and wish someone had told him to find another way to tell the story.

I enjoyed Ellis on Secret Avengers and felt like he really got the concept for the what made this team special. Plus, the Widow issue is one of the best issues you can point to if you want to know exactly what Widow brings to a team.

I’ll second Mike Loughlin & Dr. Traveler and say that the Black Widow story in Secret Avengers 20 is one of the best Avengers stories I’ve ever read (although I sadly forgot about it while compiling my list). Great mash-up of espionage and sci-fi, and a time-travel story on par with good Doctor Who,

Could NEVER get into those Ellis Secret Avengers issues. I heard so much love for them, tried at couple (at $4 each) and thought “….That was O-KAY…”. I kept hearing praise for them and spent another $8 on two more. Same result. Then I re-read all four issues and STILL didn’t get it. I heard praise along the lines of “THIS is how super-hero comics should be! THIS is moving things forward!” But they seemed like dinky little stories to me. Fine one-and-dones but… that’s it. The Black Widow issue was definitely the best of the bunch, and I’d call that one “Good!”, but, still, it felt like… just another time-travel episode about a million techno-ideas that seem meaningless and interchangeable.

Glad to see Bryne’s WCA stuff get some love.

There’s some Ellis stuff that I love and others that feel like if you’ve read one you’ve read ‘em all, but his Secret Avengers didn’t do it for me, and I don’t think he gets Steve Rogers as a character at all. Actually, Bru’s run didn’t grab me either, and I usually like his stuff a lot. It’s a series that I want to like but just haven’t so far.

35. Good stuff, though it seemed disconnected from the rest of the MU and the Avengers universe. Which is probably for the best. I read some complaints that the characterization was off in this series compared to other Avengers ongoings at the time, but that ship apparently sailed with Disassembled.
34. Actually haven’t read this one. I gave up on the series after Brubaker left. Not because he left, but because the following issues just completely ignored everything that came before, including the story arc in progress. What the heck.
33. A bold, startling move and a classic issue. Set the tone for the entire series. not necessarily the most exciting story in retrospect, but certainly interesting and important.
32. An all-time great story. Should be much higher. Kang at his best, the Invaders (kind of), the Black Knight, Great, great, great.
31. Byrne’s ego permanently destroys two major characters. A terrible story as well. I’m not surprised it’s on the list, though, as it was hyped up at the time and Byrne was the hot creator, so a lot of Byrne fanatics and sycophants followed him to the series, sending sales way up. Which is exactly the same thing that happened with Bendis 15+ years later and why his junk is on this list too. It’s called being on the wrong side of history.

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