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50 Greatest Avengers Stories: #15-11

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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 #15-11!

Enjoy!

15. Ultimates 2 #1-13

Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary and Mark Millar tell the tale of how the Ultimates became SO effective as a tool of the United States government that other nations begin to formulate a counter to them, and when their plan springs into action, the Ultimates cannot even trust each other as the whole operation collapses around them and as the United States of America is stolen right out from underneath their noses! And is Loki involved or is he not? And which member of the Ultimates is a traitor? All these questions answered and more in this 13-part saga that culminated with a stunning series of dramatic battles in the final few issues!

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

In this epic tale by writer Steve Englehart and artists Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott, Englehart created one of the most complex and elaborate time-travel storylines that comics had ever seen at the time. The Avengers are thrust back into time but are separated during the journey. Mockingbird is essentially raped by a Western “hero.” When she figures it out, she gets her revenge in a fashion that ultimately destroys her marriage with Hawkeye. Meanwhile, the rest of the Avengers are traveling through time, trying to find a way back home. Englehart brilliantly weaves through Marvel’s history of time travel, including a stunning sequence where the Avengers show up at a point in time where both the Fantastic Four AND Doctor Strange had previously traveled! Meanwhile, back in the present, Hank Pym contemplates suicide and ends up being inspired to become a whole different kind of hero. This story had it all – adventure, drama, character-driven stories, action-driven stories. A classic Avengers epic.

13. “Super-Human” Ultimates #1-6

This initial six-part story introduced the world to writer Mark Millar and artists Bryan Hitch and Andrew Currie’s envisioning of the 21st Century superhero. Their take on superheroics proved to be highly influential on the “real” Marvel Universe, particularly Hitch’s realistic art style and the widescreen heroics (that predated Ultimates, of course, as Hitch himself had already done it for Authority AND JLA, but he further popularized it here). This series also more or less formed the basis for the massively successful Avengers live action film (especially Hitch’s designs) – they specifically got credited at the end of the film.

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

After the events of the Under Siege storyline, Hercules is in bad shape. His father, Zeus, blames the Avengers for what happened to Hercules so he brings them to Olympus to face their punishment. Zeus made a major mistake, though – he underestimated the Avengers. Roger Stern wrote and John Buscema and Tom Plamer drew this epic storyline that showed definitively to the Greek gods that these were, indeed, Earth’s mightiest heroes. This was also the storyline that was essentially the capper to Stern’s Avengers run (yes, he started another story, but this was the last one he actually finished).

11. “JLA/Avengers” JLA/Avengers #1-4

The team-up of the century, as Busiek and George Perez tell this epic tale of the Avengers and the Justice League first being pitted against each other by Krona and the Grandmaster, before they then team up to take Krona down, who wants to merge the universes of the JLA and the Avengers, which would destroy them both.

32 Comments

I wish you had gone with #284 for the cover of Assault on Olympus. I remember that series so fondly and I used that cover in a tracing pad to practice drawing.

That series has one of my all-time favorite scenes – where Black Knight, after wandering around with his sword and Cap’s shield, goads Zeus into attacking him and then manages to absorb the energy with his sword and reflect it back at him. One of the all-time great moments in Marvel history of the little guy taking on the big guy.

I’m surprised that so few single issue stories have shown up, it seems people have been more inclined to vote for the “epic” storylines.

I wish I could make a guess as to what the top ten will actually be, but I don’t know what Bendis fans will have been likely to vote for.

Avengers Forever is going to be up there

and I’m thinking Kree/Skrull War is a good bet for number 1

I dunno, Under Seige has gotta be in with a shout there surely? Between those two I reckon?

While I could see Kree/Skrull War at #1, I think Under Siege has as good a shot as any.

Re: ASD – I can see what you mean about the single issue stories, but I think that’s why the Avengers always works the best for me. The single issue stories weren’t our only chance for characterization. Usually, the best Avengers stories had character advancements colliding with all of the action.

Look at Under Siege. The trade would show you the plot developments that led to the formation of the Masters of Evil, but a regular reader knew that the character interactions had built on each other since Buscema had come back to the title with the new lineup (and in some cases, even earlier). So things like the Black Knight’s crush and/or Hercules’ anger made all of the action and plot possible.

(BTW, Under Siege was not my #1, but it is an excellent example of why Stern’s long run may be my favorite run in comics ever. I was a kid for all of it, but by the time I left, I felt like I knew every character he wrote. Great stuff.)

Under Siege was in my top five.

But surely the Korvac Saga is gotta be number 1?

There’s still some great story lines that run over only a few issues that haven’t shown up, like the Crusher Creel story #183-184, which really humanised The Absorbing Man. Or the Henry Gyrich issues, which started around #181. There’s some great one-offs, like #57 Behold the Vision or #196 with the Taskmaster that have yet to show.

But it just depends if people are only voting on the longer runs…

The description for “Lost in Space-Time” West Coast Avengers #17-24 – sounds pretty full on! Might try and check it out.

I only enjoyed issues 1-2 of JLA/Avengers. Did anyone else think issues 3-4 just wasn’t of the same quality? I might have to re-read them. Speaking of JLA, I would love a countdown of their greatest stories too.

If any of Korvac Sage, Under Siege or Kree/Skrull War are #1, I will be happy.

If any of these are outside of the top 3… maybe less so.

You must, Lost in Space/Time is great. Wonderful visual opening to each chapter with the page split into the same number of panels as chapter numbers/Time Zones are involved

Under Siege for #1!

Some form of Dark Reign/Dark Avengers will be up there, I’d guess. I’m curious as to whether Engelhart’s first Kang War will show up there. Busiek’s Ultron storyline will place highly as well.

Part of why we’re not seeing single-issue stories is that the Avengers don’t have many of those in the first place. Even in the 1960s, the Avengers favored two-parters pretty often.

Yeah, “Assault on Olympus” made the list! That was the Stern story I was afraid wouldn’t make it. It gets overshadowed by “Under Siege” but is almost as good a story in its own right. I had it at #4 on my list. Also had “Lost in Space/Time” and “JLA/Avengers.” So now I’m pretty confident all but one of my picks will make the list.

FanboyStranger

June 28, 2013 at 7:58 am

You have to figure that the “Celestial Madonna” saga, “Kree-Skrull War”, “Under Siege”, and “Korvac Saga” are still in play. I’d imagine there’s also space for “Avengers Forever”, “Ultron Unlimited”, and possibly “The Kang Dynasty”.

FanboyStranger

June 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

So, all of my picks have made the list: “Lost in Space-Time”, the Annuals featuring Warlock and Thanos, and the Annuals featuring Grandmaster and Death, and “Assault on Olympus”. My others were “Celestial Madonna”, “Under Siege”, “Korvac Saga”, “Avengers Forever”, “Kree-Skrull War”, and “The Kang Dynasty”, so I think I’m going to get all of them.

i remember how monkybird got revenge in lost in space time and how hawkeye came off as a real jerk for her doing what she did. and was wondering when jla vs avengers would appear on this list though thought it would be in the top ten or even five. espically given that fans had to wait twenty years for the team up of ages.

Funny it didn’t cross my mind to consider JLA/Avengers, I guess ’cause I was thinking of in-continuity stuff. But I did love the story (although I agree it began better than it ended, specifically the last issue being a bit of mindless slugfest action as opposed to the entertaining contrasts and encounters from the prior issues).

Guess that takes care of all the Ultimates, glad they’re out of the top ten. Cool that the Olympus story made it this high, too. I’ve never read that WCA arc, but it seems much loved, so maybe I’ll get to read it someday.

I’ve still got six left to go on my list, but sadly I don’t think one of them is gonna make it. Although of the final ten I can confidently guess six or seven (definitely think I’ve got the top five pegged) but there are a couple of blanks I can’t fill off-hand, so maybe my certain double-sized Stern issue might show up after all? We’ll know soon enough, I guess…

There’s one surefire storyline that I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned yet. It’s my number one pick, although I doubt it’ll score top five. But it’s gotta be in the next batch, at least…classic stuff, and a great ‘gateway’ to the Avengers.

Captain Haddock

June 28, 2013 at 8:58 am

I really really really hope the Crossing is #1

I think the art team of Buscema/Palmer is one of the greatest teams to ever work on comics. They may not be the most dynamic but they have to be some of the most consistently great artists that ever worked in the medium. And I like them more as a team than individually. Palmer does something with Buscema’s pencils that no one else can do. They are just an amazing combination! So to have them working on Roger Stern’s Avengers one of the most consistently great writers of that time was just an amazing experience. I’m sure Grunwald meant well when he pressured Stern to leave the title but I can’t help feeling sad about it. Interestingly, what followed was some of the worst Avengers issues ever made. Who can forget how cringe-worthy Gilgamesh the Unknown was? If there was a poll to find out what the worst Avengers issue was, #300 would have to be my pick. There may be worse issues but those guys that produced it were seasoned professionals that should have known better.
So far we got “Time – and Time again” and “Assault on Olympus” by the team of Stern/Buscema/Palmer and I’m sure “Under Siege” will be up at the top of the list but “Heavy Metal Hoard” and “Assault On Sanctuary!” also deserve honorable mentions as being great story lines. They were just the best team ever to work on the Avengers. Thomas/Buscema or Shooter/Perez could have been if they were more consistent but Stern/Buscema/Palmer did an amazing job month after month. And if they weren’t required to do all those Secret Wars II fill in issues they would have done better.

How could I forget the Korvac Saga –
One of my all time favourite stories right up there with Dark Phoenix, Days of Future Past and The Great Darkness Saga
But still my own personal favourite is already placed, The Knights of Wundagore

In fact the quality of stories coming our way in the late seventies and early eighties was immense.

The Spider-man titles were in my opinion at their best ever and Miller breaking through on Daredevil and Byrne on FF.

It’s Grandmaster, not Gamesmaster.

So, my personal number 4, 9 and 5 picks show up, alongside the travesty that is Ultimates. Twice. Now I REALLY wish I had voted so that Lost in Space-Time had leap-frogged “Lost in one-dimensional characterization.”

And, with O:GS, the Trial of Hank Pym, and the Ultron/MoE story all already having shown up, and my top three (Mansion Siege, Ultron Unlimited and Avengers Forever, in that order) a mortal lock to be in the top 10, now I just worry about Emperor Doom.

Assault on Olympus is where Stern really started bring Monica Rambeau into her own and it was awesome. Gruenwald’s interference that drove Stern from the book and started the trashing of Monica Rambeau was a huge mistake from an otherwise excellent editor. (and sadly seemed somewhat driven by Gruenwald’s own position as the writer of Captain America). All of the team got great spotlights and you really could see that Stern had every single one of them nailed. Buscema & Palmer were really clicking too and gave the story an epic, awesome scope. It’s great work and following on something like Under Seige, which is a series highpoint…that’s impressive.

Can’t say I’m thrilled to see The Ultimates & Ultimates 2 this high on the list. They’re not terrible, but there are too many cheap “hey it’s the modern world now so we can do the adult stuff they never could!” bits that seem gratuitous to me.

Avengers forever, Kang Dynasty, Ultron Unlimited, Kree Skrull War, Under Siege, Celestial Madonna, and the Korvac Saga are all still in play. I’d bet they make up 7 of the top 10 easily. I’m guessing at this point my picks of Fear Itself, New Avengers: Illuminati, and the Hammer War are all out of luck and I’m ok with that. I like them fine but I’d have been surprised if they’d made it.

I suspect strongly there won’t be anymore from Bendis in the final 10, and no Hickman.

Yes those will be 7 of the 10. I can’t figure out the others though, maybe some single issue stories like Cap joining and Vision crying?

Oh wait, the Nefaria story by Shooter/Byrne will rate highly.

Lost in Space-Time was pretty dire. I read it a couple of weeks ago. Dull as dishwater. The bit with Mockingbird letting the Phantom Rider fall to his doom was the most interesting idea but not that well executed. And the “time has split” montages were routinely dishonest. Englehart was the most naval-gazing, self-indulgent writer the Avengers ever had, little wonder he got kicked off the book twice. Too bad he was brought on to disrupt Stern’s Avengers run (although that actually turned out the better for it).

dhole- JLA/Avengers is in continuity, at least as far as DC was concerned. It was referenced in later issues of JLA. I don’t know if any Marvel books refered to it, but there’s no reason they couldn’t. Of course, Marvel vs. DC/All Access was suposed to be in continuity too, but they controdict each other… I’m gonna lie down now.

I’m guessing either The Korvac Saga (I really hate that they call it that), or The Kree-Skrull War will be at #1, though I’ve got an awfully soft spot for the Celestial Madonna storyline.

I’ve only skimmed the Ultimates, so I can’t comment on those.

For the others:

14. Good to see this story get some love. it’s a real feat of structure and clever use of continuity. It also has a lot of really interesting, mature content. Englehart was really writing a series for adults – it would be interesting to see what he might do with this kind of story in today’s market, at today’s Marvel.

12. Great story. it left me a little flat when I read it at the time, but it has gotten better with age. Some truly epic stuff in here.

11. A favorite of mine. Fun stuff. Great art. Also some nice nods to not just every bit of Avengers and JLA continuity, but specifically to the Avengers/Defenders War.

In Assault on Olympus, when Monica blasts Zeus with all that she has, and he withstands it, and Thor tells Monica that she did better than what she thinks she did…that is one of my favorite Avenger moments of all time.

Heavy Metal Horde was another of the Stern/Buscema/Palmer collaborations that had me on the edge of my seat. Man, it was a struggle. I need to read that one again. Stern used some of the most formidable groups of Avengers during his run but he came up with stories that put them up against opponents that matched them. Namor and She Hulk, I hope those two are together again some day.

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