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50 Greatest Avengers Stories: #20-16

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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 #20-16!

Enjoy!

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

Written by Jim Starlin, drawn by Starlin and Joe Rubinstein

After leaving Warlock and Marvel, Starlin was wooed back for the opportunity to wrap up all of his Warlock plots on his own terms. He chose to do so in this epic tale involving the Avengers, Thing and Spider-Man. Essentially it is the Avengers, Thing, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel and Warlock versus Thanos and his collection of infinity gems. Starlin resolves the fates of pretty much every character from his run on Warlock (and in each instance, his resolution is to essentially kill them all so other writers couldn’t mess with them).

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

Loki and Dormammu teamed-up to manipulate the Avengers and the Defenders into fighting each other in what was really the first extensive inter-title crossover (there had been many inter-title crossovers before, but never THIS many issues). Steve Englehart wrote it and Bob Brown and Mike Esposito did the art for the Avengers’ side of the conflict while Sal Buscema and Frank Bolle did the art for the Defenders’ side.

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

In this classic three-parter drawn by John Byrne and Dan Green and written by the triumvirate of Mark Gruenwald, David Michelinie and Steven Grant, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s true parentage is revealed (although it would not be for a few more years before the fact that Magneto was their father was made ABSOLUTELY explicit). The Scarlet Witch was possessed by the demon Chton in this story, making it the first “Dark Scarlet Witch” storyline, an idea that has been used often since (including at least two stories on this countdown).

17. “The Serpent Crown” Avengers #141-144, 147-149

Steve Englehart juggled two fascinating adventures at once in this acclaimed epic. Half of the Avengers are in the past fighting against Kang while the rest of the team find themselves in battle with the Squadron Supreme. This was the first time that the Squadron Supreme fond themselves brainwashed into fighting against the Avengers (Something that would happen often since) through the use of the Serpent Crown. Englehart also used this storyline to introduce Patsy Walker as Hellcat. George Perez drew this series, with inks by a few different guys, including Sam Grainger and Vince Colletta. There was a fill-in story in the middle of the arc (which is why #145-146 are not included).

16. “Civil War” Civil War #1-7

Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines reshaped the Marvel Universe for years with this storyline that pitted Captain America against Iron Man over the idea of whether superheroes should be forced to register with the government (and thereby trusting the government with their secret identities). Captain America leads a group of heroes who want nothing to do with registration while Iron Man leads the heroes who are willing to comply with the government’s request. Eventually, Iron Man and his Avengers end up having to hunt down Captain America and his Secret Avengers and, well, things do not go very well. This series massively shaked up the Marvel Universe as a whole but especially the Avengers, who ended up splintered into two teams, an officially sanctioned one and a rogue one.

32 Comments

Aaugh! Had I remembered it Annual #7 would have been near the top of my list! It took me nearly a year to find the poorly distributed Two-in-One Annual follow up.

And the Serpent Crown story, which I’d followed since it was introduced in Sub-Mariner #1-12! There’s that just perfect scene where President Nelson Rockefeller runs into the Oval Office wearing the crown, and we hear an off-panel voice saying “Well, hello there. We’ve been waiting for you.” He turns to see the assembled Avengers and Squadron, and the Beast finishes his quote “It’s time to play truth or consequences.”

I guess you need to be close to 50 or over to get the reference, but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t continue reading.

The Final Threat was great – nothing outstanding plot wise, but I love its art and atmosphere. Civil War had it haters, but I thought it was better than the majority of company-wide crossovers. Though of course it will never beat this: http://mightygodking.com/i-dont-need-your-civil-war/

God, Civil War was terrible. I think every single character in it was written out of character. And the story itself was as ham-fisted as they come. I will never understand why people think either Millar or Bendis are good writers, at least on existing properties. They seem to totally ignore whatever people already liked about whatever character they are writing. If you’re going to do that, just write a new character.

The other 4 are all top notch stories. Nothing that made my list. I’m sure a good portion of my list will be showing up in the top 15, but there’s one story from Stern’s run that I hoped would make the list that I’m pretty sure won’t be showing up at this point. Maybe I’ll be surprised.

I am three for 10 at this point

Morgan Conquest
Defenders War
Nights of Wundagore

>There was a fill-in issue in the middle of the story (which is why #145 is not included).

#146 was also a fill-in – together #145-146 were originally produced to appear as an extra-long Giant-Size story.

What a fun batch this is! Serpent Crown was on my list, the fifth to show up. Like Jazzbo, I have a Roger Stern favourite that I am skeptical will make it at this point, but still hoping…

Was wondering if the Jim Starlin one would make it, I’m glad it did (just for that cover alone, got it signed by Starlin recently, it’s great!).

Glad the Michelenie/Byrne and Englehart runs are showing up now…(also glad Civil War is out of the way)…

If I’d have remembered to vote I’d have had Final Threat & Wundagore in my top ten with Wundagore probably as number one.

I love A#187 – I got it as a kid from in the b&w UK Marvel Superheroes. That fabulous opening splash page, superb Byrne art right the way and what is for me one of the best Avengers line ups. superb

#146 was also a fill-in – together #145-146 were originally produced to appear as an extra-long Giant-Size story.

Thanks, I forgot that it was a two-parter. Fixed!

The “Avengers/Defenders War” is a lot of fun, but I’ve never been terribly excited by the Bob Brown art, so I’ve always felt like the story loses a little something as a result.

There’s other bits from the Englehart run I enjoy more, but “The Serpent Crown” is definitely a good one.

And the only thing I don’t like about Byrne’s Avengers work is that we didn’t get to see more of it.

20. Classic stuff. I’m not a big fan of Starlin or his cosmic nonsense, so I don’t hold these in as high esteem as most Avengers fans, but there’s no denying this is a really good story. Just not a personal favorite.
19. A good story. Innovative at a time when crossovers like this never happened – the first real big multi-issue crossover event in comics. The plot structure is very Gardner Fox, and has been copied several times since, with the most obvious example being JLA/Avengers, which I suspect we’ll be seeing later on. Very fun stuff for the time period, though a little long winded in retrospect.
18. Good stuff. Byrne just doing art, instead of crapping on humanity by writing the book as well, elevates things. Would not have made my list though.
17. A classic Englehart story. Some great stuff here, though the story is marred somewhat by being interrupted by a random two-issue fill-in. That doesn’t affect our reading of it now, though. It’s also kind of two different stories, with most of #141-143 dealing with kang in the 19th century and the rest about the Squadron Supreme. Set the stage for a lot of great follow-up stories, which usually means it was good, because it’s the good stories that inspire other writers to return to the subject.

“The Serpent Crown” wasn’t on my list but it’s got a few things going for it. Firstly it’s got Perez! This was one of his first jobs in Marvel and even at that young age his work was amazing to look at. Second, it’s got the Squadron Supreme. Every one of their appearances in the Avengers was such a treat. Later Gruenwald would write a great maxi series about them but till then us fans had to tide ourselves over with these few appearances, and what great appearances they were! Third “the Serpent Crown” has an all star cast of old and new Avengers from new recruits Beast and Moondragon, to brand new heroin Patsy Walker the Hellcat, and even the Two Gun Kid who had a memorable bromance with Hawkeye. There’s a lot to love about this run.

I’m not a huge fan of John Byrne but when Perez wasn’t drawing the Avengers, Byrne was the next best thing and the few achs he did at this time were quite memorable like “The Nights of Wundagore”. This one had the added bonus of rewriting the origins of Scarlet Which and the Silver Surfer and would be refereed to often whenever the origins of them came up.

About Civil War I think jazzbo summed it up well. It had a plot that was all over the place, incredulous things like Cap riding a jet bareback to the ground, and totally anticlimactic ending, not to mention what Jazzbo said, totally out-of-character people. this wasn’t the Reed Richards that I knew. In my mind Richards would never take a side. He would much rather play devils advocate and try to work for resolutions. Maybe it was better if you bought all of the tie-ins, which means you needed big bucks to even decide if you liked this even. I actually enjoyed Front Line much more with it’s man-on-the-street point of view.

You know what should be on this list instead of Civil War? Chad Nevett’s parody, “I Don’t Need Your Civil War” – it’s incredibly funny and the characters actually talk like their characters.

I forgot to mention Civil War on my reaction countdown, but it’s just as well. It was terrible and pretty much permanently ended my interest in the Marvel Universe, which is saying something considering I had been a faithful Marvel Zombie for 23 years at that point. So, yeah. It just was bad for all the reasons jazzbo and Thomas Morrison mentioned.

I really enjoyed Civil War. The series was very well drawn and kept me on the edge of my seat. They are all friends again now, so Civil War looks a lot more fun in retrospect.

I’m not a huge fan of the seven issue Civil War mini-series, but I think the event led to some good stories in the Marvel U, like Bucky picking up the shield after Cap’s death, and the Avengers splitting into two teams.

kind of thought the defenders avengers war would not even make the cut even though it is the first time marvel had two teams fighting ever. plus did not expect to see any civil war on this list.

I love the first four of these, even if I didn’t quite have room on my list for them.

The only part of Civil War I liked was the Mini-Marvels parody. Mini-Marvels could make anything better.

(and in each instance, his resolution is to essentially kill them all so other writers couldn’t mess with them).

Yeah, sure, because we all know once a super hero comic character dies, they stay dead.

As many above have said, I loved all of these stories except Civil War. I’m kind of amazed it made it this high on the list.

Civil War?!?!? Yeeugh!!!! :p

On the other hand, coincidentally I just finished re-reading “The Avengers/Defenders War” in Essential Avengers Volume 5. This is one of those stories that, when I first read it several years ago, I was kind of underwhelmed, probably because the whole “crossover featuring villains manipulating heroes into fighting each other” thing had been done so many times since then. But I guess Steve Englehart did it pretty much first. With subsequent readings my enjoyment of it has grown.

And I see Englehart’s “Serpent Crown” storyline also made the list. Here’s hoping that his epic “Celestial Madonna” arc will have also been voted a place on this list.

The amazing thing is that all the characters Starlin killed off stayed dead for more than a decade, until Starlin himself brought them all back.

SERPENT CROWN was my first Avengers story and the first time I saw George Perez art, so it was my number one. Steve Englehart wrote four of my top ten, so props to him too.

Ron, That’s funny, one of my very first comics was Avengers #177, the last part of the Michael Saga and has remained my #1 since. I guess you never forget your first love.

Ok, starting to worry about some of my choices now. I did pick Civil War. I know a lot of folks hate it but Civil War brought me back in to comics. I loved a lot of it. I think though a lot of the issues folks have with it stem from the fact that Casualties of War one shot should have been an actual part of the series. It does a lot of the really heavy lifting when it came to getting characters into position in Civil War. In addition, all of the Confessions one shot should have been in the final issue. It also laid most of the seeds for what was to come by heavily foreshadowing Secret Invasion and the Dark Reign.

Plus, it gets bonus points for launching the arguably stronger post Civil War Bendis run on Mighty and New Avengers and the and the awesome Bucky Barnes Cap run. And the initiative!

Second story I absolutely hate to appear. It’s only not on my list of worst Avengers stories because I hadn’t thought of it as an Avengers story. I’ll add it to the bottom 10.

In 2007, I was buying almost every Marvel comic the week it came out. Halfway through Civil War, I said screw it. Dropped every title. Stopped reading Marvel for a little while, then slowly came back to following carefully selected series in trade.

Wow. One Busiek volume 3 story, so far..? I’m really disappointed to see more people aren’t fanatics like I am for his run, a nearly five year long stint that redeemed the book after Liefeld/Extreme/Wildstorm’s mangling of it. To me, that’s not only Busiek’s definitive run as a writer (and George Perez which is really saying something) but for the Avengers as a whole.

Well, RyaB, there are still 15 picks to go. I can think of at least one other story from that run that I’m 99% sure will show up. And while I’m with you in how good I think that run was (I’d place it next to Stern’s in the best Avengers runs of all time) I only voted for one storyline from the actual run. I think as a whole it was great, but wasn’t really broken up into easily defined arcs. However, I did vote for two other Busiek written Avengers stories that weren’t part of the main title, and I’d be surprised if those didn’t show up, too.

RyaB, I’m sure we’ll see more Busiek later on. I voted for his Kang saga because it was the longest and most nuanced of his run on the Avengers. His Ultron run was spectacular as well. I also included Avengers Forever. That was really an amazing series that I’m sure we’ll see later on. Busiek’s love of the Avengers is awesome and shows in all the little details he includes in his books like Goliath’s giant coffee cup in issue #1.

Yeah, I personally voted for Ultron Unlimited, Avengers Forever, and The Kang Dynasty (my number 1). I’ll be surprised if Busiek doesn’t dominate the top ten.

Honestly, I’d rather see Englehart and Stern take that honor.

Serpent crown is the second of my ten picks to make the list (the gorgeousness of Perez’s art on this story mixed in with time travel and alternate worlds made this a must)
..at this point I realize that not all of my 10 are going to make it

Nights of Wundagore and Avengers/defenders were among my runners up. and the fuinal threat was another great story

How does Civil War even count as an “Avenger” story since it was pretty much the whole Marvel Universe?

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