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50 Greatest Avengers Stories: #25-21

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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 #25-21!

Enjoy!

25. “Avengers Disassembled” Avengers #500-503

Picking up a plot from John Byrne’s run on Avengers West Coast (which showed up earlier on the countdown), Brian Michael Bendis had the Scarlet Witch essentially go nuts and take down the entirety of the Avengers, leading to the deaths of Ant-Man, Vision and Hawkeye. In the aftermath of the battle (which involved the Scarlet Witch using her reality-warping powers to bring forth most of the Avengers’ greatest villains), the team disbands, leading to Bendis relaunching the title as New Avengers with the art team of this storyline, David Finch and Danny Miki.

24. “Young Avengers” #1-12

Enough voters convinced me to count this as one large story, which I think is probably accurate. In any event, after the events of Avengers Disassembled, the Vision had a back-up plan for recruiting the next generation of Avengers in case the original Avengers ever, well, you know, disassembled. This original team added members as the series went on (and as one of the members, Iron Lad, who was a younger version of Kang, realized he had to take over as Kang) and they slowly proved themselves in the eyes of Captain America, who was in no mood to have to worry about a whole bunch of teen superheroes. Writer Allan Heinberg built his team on the legacy of the Avengers, including a great Kree-Skrull battle at the end of the series. The art was by Jimmy Cheung (and at least a gazillion inkers) and it was breathtaking. Andrea DiVito and Drew Hennessey filled in during the middle of the series. Heinberg’s new characters were compelling and well-developed. They are still popular to this day in the pages of Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers (where the romance between teammates Hulkling/Wiccan is still going strong) and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye (where the new, female Hawkeye is a major supporting cast member).

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

Roger Stern follows up on Jim Shooter’s fall of Yellowjacket by giving us the rise of Hank Pym as the imprisoned Pym defends himself against the frame job by Egghead by going undercover with Egghead and taking down the villain and his new Masters of Evil. At the end of the story, Hank is asked back to the Avengers but he decides to retire from superheroing. Al Milgrom, Sal Buscema, Brett Breeding and Joe Sinnott did the art on this story. Stern did a really nice job trying to redeem Hank.

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

Bob Harras, Mark Gruenwald and Fabian Nicieza did the heavy lifting on this epic crossover of not just both Avengers titles, but every title STARRING a then-current Avenger, namely Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Quasar and Wonder Man. The Avengers get caught up in an intergalactic conflict once again, this time between the Shi’ar and the Kree Empire. However, while they try to bring the war to a peaceful resolution, they are unprepared for the actions of the Kree leader, the Supreme Intelligence. The Avengers then must split on whether they are responsible for avenging the victims of intergalactic war crimes. The split of the team impacted many relationships between Avengers for years to come. While Harras, Gruenwald and Nicieza directed the storyline, all of the writers on the books at the time wrote their part of the story and all the regular art teams drew their tie-ins.

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

Jim Shooter, George Perez and Pablo Marcos delivered this classic storyline, which was oddly enough split apart by nearly a year. In the first part, spinning out of Ant-Man’s mental instability (something Shooter would return to later on) and his attack on the Avengers, Ultron kidnaps the Wasp and uses her brain waves to create a bride for Ultron. Dubbed Jocasta, she is left with the Avengers when Ultron escapes. He later returns for her in the second part of this story, and the Avengers have to defeat the evil robot while determine whether they can trust this new female robot who seems to want to be one of them. Shooter, Perez and Marcos were on quite a run during this period.

38 Comments

I’m shocked Disassembled was higher than Breakout. While I believe disassembled had some deep roots in Avengers lore, it’s still not a very coherent story. It’s largely a reset button to set up the stronger Breakout story arc. Just surprising.

I’ve been really surprised by how much of the new stuff is showing up. I shouldn’t be of course, for many people it IS the Avengers and probably very good too. I struggled valiantly (stupidly) through over 40 issues of the New Avengers before realising I was an adult and thus perfectly capable of dropping the book. So when I see this list about what used to be my favourite American title and team, for so long, it does remind me how much its moved on from what I loved.

Not a bad thing in and of itself, after all more people are reading the title now than when it was the book I loved, so many, many more… so it fact its a good thing. Still makes me a bit sad (which I know is silly) and even a bit resentful that it took making the book not the book I loved to make it a success. This list is therefore serving as a very hopeful reminder of just tricky it can be, being a ‘mature’ adult, family and all and still loving some of the things you grew up with and how hard it can be to let them go…

… god lord that sounded more naff than it was meant to!

I just don’t get how Disassembled gets voted on, except for maybe a lack of knowledge of other stories. It’s a weird compressed mess with no actual story progression. It’s just a bunch of things that happen. It’s a mess. there are 30 better bendis avengers stories alone, and probably 60 or 70 better Stern ones and probably that many Thomas ones. Can people who voted for it chime in on why they thought it was worth voting for? Was it just notoriety?

@Colin — I agree that it was weird seeing the classic comics replaced by the post-Bendis version of the title.

I have to question the validity of any “greatest” list that includes Bendis work.

I decided I wouldn’t worry too much about the new stuff I didn’t care for, or the new stuff I haven’t read. I didn’t care for Breakout, but I know others do and was expecting it. I’m shocked by Disassembled. I think it’s one of the three worst Avengers stories I’ve ever read, and am surprised to learn it has fans. Is the Crossing going to show up as well?

@Colin- I beat you. It only took 29 issues of New Avengers to realize I didn’t really need to own a complete Avengers run and gave up. I decided to peek in again once Bendis was off it. Then almost a decade passed.

Two more of mine show up!

Love the redemption of Hank in the trial (and also, it’s a pretty cool version of the Masters of Evil, with Radio-Active Man getting some good stuff to do). I’m not a huge fan of Milgrom’s art by itself, but I think Joe Sinnot makes him look great.

Bride of Ultron was just a classic action-fest with Perez and Marcos firing on all cylinders. Also enjoyed Ant-Man’s take-down of a whole bunch of Avengers (maybe a bit silly, but fun reading) almost immediately followed by Ultron’s major, major take-down of those same Avengers.

(I got the issue autographed by George Perez recently and he laughed at how, on #161’s cover, featuring zillions of ants, he got the leg-count wrong on every single one (gave ‘em eight legs!). I never would’ve noticed if George himself hadn’t pointed it out!)

Will also mention, Avengers #171 has one of my favourite covers.

I miss Wonder Man’s red safari jacket.

As a very young kid in the early 80s, I always associated Wonder Man with the anchorman Dan Rather (my mom watched the CBS Nightly News): The John Byrne corner-box head shot REALLY looked like Rather (I’ve always wondered if it was based on him) and Rather sometimes wore a safari jacket in the field (but not a red one, alas)

@Nytwyng – you can’t really conflate taste and “validity” in the results of a poll that was open to anyone… unless you’re saying you really doubt that enough people would have voted for Bendis stories for them to place, and that doesn’t seem likely..

I know that specific comment wasn’t meant to be taken literally, and I’m not a fan of Bendis Avengers either, I guess I’m just generally thinking that I hope a distaste for some entries wouldn’t actually compromise anyone’s enjoyment of the rest of the list, since not all the stories were voted on by the same people. I always really enjoy finding new stuff to read through these lists, and it’s pretty easy to tell which ones might be up my alley. (For example, the less “Important” or less frequently discussed ones, I tend to think must be pretty good for enough separate people to have remembered them on their ballots.) Plus the comments are generally enjoyable on this blog, and helpful for getting a sense of the comics being discussed.

>Bob Harras, Mark Gruenwald and Fabian Nicieza

Nicieza? Surely Roy Thomas (3 chapters), Gerard Jones (3 chapters), Len Kaminski (2 chapters) or Tom DeFalco (2 chapters)? There’s no Nicieza.

I’m not the biggest detractor of Bendis’ Avengers, but Disassembled is one of those black marks in the past decade of comics. It is truly awful.

Also, I found it almost impossible to read Heinberg’s Young Avengers when Runaways was just standing a little off to the side, showing how the game was played.

Galactic Storm made my list. I don’t think it’s as good as many of the better Avengers stories but it holds a dear place in my heart for taking the Avengers lore of the time and combining it in a grand way, a 90’s style way in the best sense of the word. To use all the characters and all of their individual titles and having the good taste to tell an epic story based on Roy Thomas’ masterpiece “The Kree/Skrull War”” is just too much goodness to conveniently forget. And the best part was that there was no “Image Style” artists, which were popular at the time, used to ruin the story! It was classic Avengers in the Marvel style!

Great to see classic Shooter/Perez on here! I put “the Michael Saga” as my #1 and even found room on my list for “The Bride of Ultron” down at #7. How can you exclude classic Perez on your “Best of Avengers” list?

I’m throwing my vote in with the rest of the people sorry to see “Disassembled” on here. It killed the Avengers for me and I haven’t picked up an issue since.

Likewise I found “The Trial of Hank Pym” a sad chapter in Avengers lore and wish to forget it. After “The Michael Saga” Yellowjacket” was one of my favorite Avengers. To see him treated so shabbily never sit well with me and it seemed to only get worse as time went on. I’d love to see Hank shed his nerdy origins and become a more confident adventurer, one even apart from the Avengers who never seemed to truly appreciate him.

This list would have taken on an interestingly different dynamic if we each got to vote for our least favorite Avengers story. maybe “Disassembled” might have gotten knocked off.

Nicieza? Surely Roy Thomas (3 chapters), Gerard Jones (3 chapters), Len Kaminski (2 chapters) or Tom DeFalco (2 chapters)? There’s no Nicieza.

Nicieza wrote the two Wonder Man issues. But moreover, as noted, Nicieza, Gruenwald and Harras were in charge of the over-arching plot of the series. They then would assign each of the other writers their given parts.

And the best part was that there was no “Image Style” artists, which were popular at the time, used to ruin the story! It was classic Avengers in the Marvel style!

Greg Capullo drew the Quasar issues.

I’m more into the older stuff on the list than the newer stuff, for sure, but actually half my list was newish stuff: Marvel Adventures and Pet Avengers. So, you know, to each his/her own.

Wow! There’s only one book here I would personally include in the list of best Avengers stories of all time, even though it wouldn’t be in my top 20 – the Jocasta story. The others may be significant, but I wouldn’t place them anywhere this high. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of the list plays out.

>Nicieza wrote the two Wonder Man issues.

No, he was the editor of Wonder Man – Gerard Jones was the author.

I do not think Capullo was a very ‘Image’ artist at that time. I know later on Spawn he was, but he had a much cleaner, less cartoony style on Quasar. That or he was ‘corrected’ more.

I did not vote at all, but I still want to side with the people who did not like Disassembled (the only story of these five I have read in full). The plot was a mess, the characters were out of character, and at on point one of the Avengers suggested they wait for SHIELD to come take over. That last bit was something I saw a lot of in Bendis at the time and hated.

I like a lot of what Bendis did later, but Disassembled was really bad.

They’re right, Brian: Gerard Jones wrote the “Wonder Man” issues (and really gave it his all, those were great issues) and Capullo didn’t have Marvel’s “fake Image” style whatsoever at the time.

Galactic Storm is yet another one that just missed making my list. (To be fair, there were about 12 stories competing for the last 3 spots on my list.) I just this winter read the entire run of Quasar for the first time, and re-read O:GS as part of that. I still enjoyed it thoroughly, although I admit a little bit of it is due to the nostalgia factor.

Colin’s thoughts echo my own pretty closely. I have almost 300 consecutive issues of the original Avengers series. I dropped the title when the Image guys took over, which resulted in my not paying attention to comics at all for a while, which in turn resulted in me being unaware of the Busiek/Perez run until it was almost over. After that I decided that Avengers was the one title I’d stick with no matter what. And then Disassembled happened. And then everything else Bendis wrote happened. I made it almost 20 issues into New Avengers before I finally wised up and dropped it. Since then I’ve liked some of the peripheral Avengers titles. Initiative and Secret were both pretty good. Academy and Mighty (post Bendis) were the two that felt the most like classic Avengers titles to me.

No, he was the editor of Wonder Man – Gerard Jones was the author.

Oops, yeah, that’s right. Doesn’t detract from the fact that Nicieza, Gruenwald and Harras plotted the storyline, but yes, Nicieza did not script the Wonder Man issues.

I’d think Breakout would beat Avengers Disassembled as well, although there’s not much difference in the final positioning.

Otherwise, not bad choices. Bride of Ultron was kinda goofy, but the art is good. OGS had a great last chapter. Trial of Hank Pym was a satisfying end to that plot line. And Young Avengers was enjoyable enough.

The problem with Galactic Storm is that it’s 19 parts long, and not even close to all 19 of those parts are very good. I was relatively new to comics when it came out and I retain a fondness for the final chapter as well, but I could never in good conscience hand somebody those 19 issues and recommend that they read them. At best, I’d hand them a few issues and summarize the rest.

Greg Capullo drew those Quasar issues as Greg Capullo. Those issues made me a fan of Greg Capullo. And then he went to Image, became a McFarlane wanna-be and stopped being an artist I enjoyed at all. So, the statement that no Image-style artist drew any of O:GS is completely accurate.

Dissassembled is quite possibly the worst storyline in Avengers ever. It’s worse than the Crossing. It’s worse than Ultimates. It’s worse than the freaking Chuck Austen run. I refuse to beleive anyone who voted on that has actually read Avengers.

On the other hand, I keep flipping O:GS and Kree/Skrull war as the final entry in my top 10, SPECIALLY if you include Captain America #401, which is one of my favorite issues ever.

@Alvaro — It’s worse than Ultimates.

Really now?

kree/skrull war is sooo overrated… storywise, I mean… one of the most boring “classic” I’ve ever read… the art is good

Mike Loughlin

June 27, 2013 at 6:16 am

Operation: Galactic Storm: I read it a few years ago and liked it enough. My favorite part might have been the first Wonder Man issue. It was genuinely funny. The story wasn’t amazing, but was good enough. I applaud the ambition even if 19 issues was too long.

I think O:GS & the Kang War from the Busiek years were long as they were because the Thomas, Adams, Buscema, & Buscema Kree-Skrull War was truncated. The ’90s Avengers office and Busiek & Co. were given enough space to do their big Avengers at War epics. I liked the Kang War despite its length. If the Kree-Shi’Ar War was composed by a single team and maybe confined to the main Avengers title it could have been better.

25. The other commenters already covered this, but it’s terrible hackwork at best. I understand what Bendis was trying to do. But he could have accomplished the same goals by writing something that didn’t suck, if in fact he had the ability to write things that don’t suck, which he does not seem to have. This is a complete mess in terms of plot and character work. One of the worst “Avengers” stories of all time and one of the worst Marvel stories of all time.
24. This seemed like a terrible idea, but it turned out to be really good. It felt like the real Avengers at a time when Bendis was rewriting the universe. I don’t think subsequent appearances by these characters (other than Kate in Hawkeye) have lived up to their potential, but the initial series is still good.
23. Really good stuff, only hampered slightly by Al Milgrom’s art. I think of all the Pym stuff from 211-230 as one big arc, and considered as part of that, this is an excellent ending.
22. Just okay for me. And barely that. At 19 issues, this was way too bloated with a bunch of forced crossovers that had little justification. It was a 10 issues story fluffed out for commercial reasons. It had some good moments, just not enough of them. The epilogue in Cap #401 is better than the actual story.
21. Avengers #161-162 is an all-time classic. Awesome Perez art, some chilling moments that really stick with you. The final panel in #161 when Jarvis comes in and finds the whole team dead is one of the great cliffhangers in comics. Wonder Man realizing Thor expects to die when they attack Ultron. Iron Man crossing moral boundaries by threatening to murder the innocent Jocasta. One of the best Avengers stories ever, one of the best Marvel stories ever and certainly should have been in the top ten at least. The follow-up story in #170-171 is very cool as well, but not up to the level of #161-162.

See the Kang War didn’t feel bloated. It felt like an epic and every issue is darn good (I really wanted to put it on my list; stupid only 10 votes rule). I agree the Kree/Skrull War is too short.

O:GS is bloated, because it’s longer than the story demands, and it would actually be a good story if they whittled it down to the actual good parts.

I agree the O:GS is overlong, but I didn’t find it as bloated as many others here. I think it helped that they had an Avengers team in both warring camps, plus one at home, plus Quasar watching the wormhole, plus Wonder Man and Vision eventually off on their own. So the focus was shifting to different areas of the conflict and helped give a more vast feel to the whole thing. But 19 issues was probably too long. I think 15 would have been good.

I’m surprised by how many people don’t seem to like Milgrom’s work. I admit, when I was younger I wasn’t a fan. But I really like his stuff now. I’m sure it’s at least a little but due to nostalgia. But I think it’s also because I just appreciate it now in a way I didn’t when I was younger. Hell, when I was younger I didn’t like Kirby or Ditko’s artwork either. Not that I’m saying Milgrom is on par with them.

Avengers Disassembled made the list? Oh. My. God. Did people think we were voting on the worst Avengers stories?

Hmm! Not one commenter stood up for “Disassembled.” But there it is.

I just read Avengers #160-1. It’s a cool idea, and the best parts story-wise are the cliffhanger, Simon’s realization that Thor’s ready to die (and is he?), and Iron Man’s blave, which is to bluff. I would like to have seen how they picked up on the ramifications of that move, as characterization is the hallmark of great writing. I think it sets the stage for the Tony Stark who leads the Avengers in killing the Supreme Intelligence, among other gritty pragmatist moves, so it’s a very seminal scene—the beginning of modern Iron Man.

Wish I had seen the rest of Young Avengers; what I borrowed was surprisingly good! I love unloved underdogs on the run.

I made my list in a very off-handed manner, and Trial of Hank Pym still resonated with me, twenty-three years after I first read it. The more you know of the issues before, the more you see Pym struggle with problems too big for a super hero to have and still be a super hero. He’s really the main character of those two years of Avengers, just as Janet finally becomes a star in her own right, next. I like Stern’s writing and really dug #230—you could just feel it was classic Avengers, from the cover on. I like that iteration of the Masters of Evil. Hawkeye accidentally gets revenge for his brother, too.

You know, I had stopped reading Avengers in the middle of the Crossing, skipped the Image year, and was fairly underwhelmed by Busiek. I don’t think i even lasted through to his last issue. Too much ignoring and retconning things that had been done since his fan era. It was Johns the Austen after, right? I read a friend’s copies and god, I hated them. Disassembled got me reading Avengers again and New Avengers (and Mighty before Bendis left and it was ruined, Dark, and Adjectiveless) got me excited by Avengers for the first time since Stern. I didn’t like a few of the tie in issues to events but I’d put Bendis’ overall run up with Englehart and Stern. Hickman’s losing me with his plot over heart style and how many story ending powerhouses he’s stacked the deck with but when I’m almost put to sleep by a an issue of this awful volume of New Avengers I can dig out teh previous two and just enjoy the craftmanship…

Operation galactic storm was in my runners-up..not quite top ten.
(Though the highlight was Cap’s attempt to give a speech about ethics afterwards…)
One thing that bothered me about the story was that the Avengers were gathered up and split into 3 teams (Earth, Kree and Shiar) but Quasar and the Black Widow were not in any of the teams.
Quasar had his special duty in space but WHAT WAS THE BLACK WIDOW DOING?
did I miss something? Did they forget about her?
Was she on monitor duty? or doing an undercover mission so secret they didn’t reveal it?

Disassembled got me back into the Avengers, for the first time since Roger Stern wrote it.

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