web stats

CSBG Archive

50 Greatest Avengers Stories: #3-1

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!

Here is a master list of every story featured so far. Here are the final three stories!


3. “Rate the Hunks” Avengers West Coast Annual #4

In this classic tale by Mark Gruenwald, Amanda Conner and Chris Ivy, the Wasp and She-Hulk rate the attractiveness of their fellow male Avengers. Yes, this happened. Read more about it here. Someone DID actually vote for this on their ballot. However, even if THEY intended it as a serious choice, it is not seriously the #3 story. The ACTUAL #3 is…

3. “Kree/Skrull War” Avengers #89-97

The most striking aspect of the Kree/Skrull War is just how many different ideas that writer Roy Thomas manages to fit into this one story. So many different things take place that there is never any time to relax, for as soon as you think Thomas is going one direction – he goes another.

The main gist of the story is that the people of Earth, primarily the Avengers, get caught up in a long-time feud between the Kree and the Skrulls.

This shows up on Earth with the shape-changing Skrulls causing trouble on Earth that is a commentary on McCarthyism (shape-changing does wonders for the whole “anyone could be a commie spy!” attitude of McCarthyism). A Senator (actually a Skrull in disguise) causes an “anti-alien” rally in the public, which is bad news for the superhero Captain Marvel, who happens to be a Kree himself! The whole “Communists among us” angle is even played up on a memorable cover during the storyline – “The only good alien is a dead alien!” – taken directly from anti-communism rhetoric.

This storyline is also a major one in the development of the Vision, particularly his relationship with the Scarlet Witch. Speaking of those “out of nowhere” ideas – early in the story, Thomas and artist Neal Adams do a stellar take-off on the Fantastic Voyage by having Ant-Man shrink down and revive a comatose Vision.

Later on, Vision gets to opine about the foolishness of McCarthyism, and it is at this time that he begins to draw closer to his teammate, the Scarlet Witch, who is both a gypsy AND a mutant, so she knows about prejudice!

Thomas has the story leap from location to location, and eventually throws in a number of far-flung space adventures – it’s really a thrill-a-minute.

The artwork by the Buscema brothers and Neal Adams is about as good as you could have possibly hoped for in an early 1970s Marvel comic! Especially Adams’ thrilling issues.

Really, the ideas that Thomas came up with for the Kree/Skrull War would be re-visited time and time again over the next few decades, all the way through to today, making it a truly landmark storyline!

(NOTE: A weird thing about the story, though, is that while there were some excellent covers during the story, none of them actually work as a symbol of the story as a whole – which is why I’m going with the cover to one of the trades collecting the tale)

2. “The Korvac Saga” Avengers #167-169, 170-171, 173-177

Michael Korvac was born in 2997 and was a computer technician on the moon when the alien invaders known as the Badoon conquered the Earth. Seening an opportunity present itself, Korvac collaborated with the Badoon, betraying the people of Earth. Later on, as punishment for falling asleep at work, the Badoon grafted Korvac’s upper body to a machine.

The cosmic being known as the Grandmaster captured Korvac and brought him to the present as a pawn in a game involving Doctor Strange and the Defenders. Korvac spends his time studying the Grandmaster’s power and uses the new abilities gained from his study when he returns to his own time. He then kills his Badoon masters and attempts to destroy the Earth’s Sun.

The heroes of that time, the Guardians of the Galaxy, manage to defeat Korvac (with the help of a time-traveling Thor), but Korvac escapes to his past (our present) and discovers the base of the world-eating Galactus. While there, Korvac gains great cosmic power, and recreates himself as a man named…Michael. The Guardians travel back through time to capture Korvac. In the meantime, the Collector (brother to the Grandmaster) realizes that Korvac is a threat, so the Collector transforms his daughter, Carina, into a being powerful enough to combat Korvac. However, his daughter instead falls in love with Korvac/Michael, and the two go to Earth and begin living a quiet live in Queens, New York.

Story continues below

The Collector then tries to capture the Avengers (and the Guardians) in an attempt to protect them from Korvac, but when Korvac finds out about his plot, he kills the Collector.

The Avengers travel to Queens where they discover Michael and Carina living quietly. After they confirm that he is, in fact, Korvac, the Avengers wage a tremendous battle that does not end as well as you might expect for a battle of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against one guy.

Jim Shooter (working with first Roger Stern and then David Michelinie) uses the whole universe at his hands here to create a sprawling epic with tons of guest stars.

The artwork by George Perez is quite good, although the fill-in work that closes out the story, by Sal Buscema and David Wenzel, is not half bad, either!

1. “Under Siege” Avengers #273-277

This story was a brilliant example of sub-plots simmering to the point of boiling over in an explosive succession of issues. For a number of issues, Baron Zemo was secretly putting together a team of super-villains specifically designed to defeat the Avengers. Studying and planning, Zemo eventually put together such a large and powerful team of villains that his Masters of Evil were able to basically just bumrush the Avengers Mansion and take it over (taking advantage of another simmering sub-plot, Hercules’ distaste for being led by the Winsome Wasp – he did not like the idea of warriors like himself, Captain America and Black Knight taking orders from a woman). After beating Hercules within an inch of his life, they spent the next few days torturing their captive Avengers, including destroying all of Captain America’s belongings in front of him (including the only picture he had of his mother) and then making Captain America and Black Knight watch as they brutalized Jarvis, the Avengers’ faithful butler. This being the Avengers, though, they were able to make a comeback, with Wasp, the only Avenger to evade capture, putting together a makeshift team of heroes to save the captive Avengers (who were doing their best to free themselves). This likely remembered as writer Roger Stern’s masterpiece. John Buscema and Tom Palmer drew the storyline.


as expected ..puts me up to 8/10 in the fifty
all 3 great epics worthy of their high place
(was the Korvac saga created as an excuse for the highly ambitious Perez to draw all those characters?)

leaving the Thomas/Smith Ultron story from 66-68 and the Avengers prime mini from Bendis/Davis outside the 50 (both from British artists)
(also no room for some of my runners up like Whatever gods there be 98-100 (also drawn by Smith) with a big Avengers reunion … or Futures Imperfect from 291-297…and I did consider a vote for Dead Avengers)

Zyzz, brother of b-list Avenger

June 30, 2013 at 4:54 am

Yes, I was being serious. And where the fuck is the What If? story? Mark Waid even called that the greatest Avengers story of all time!

I know I’m in the minority but the Kree/Skrull War is overrated to me. Maybe it didn’t help that I read a lukewarm review of it before I read it. Great art by Neal Adams though.

The Korvac Saga is a weird one, because most of it is a bit goofy. But then #177 is one of the greatest Avengers issues ever, and made that storyline twice as good in my opinion. The Avengers could never be looked at in quite the same way after that issue.

For me, Under Siege is the best Avengers story ever, by the best Avengers creative team ever, with the best single Avengers issue ever (#277), and probably the best Avengers moment ever (the two Captains at the end).

Thanks for the countdown!

And Rate The Hunks is heaps of fun! There have been plenty of worse Avengers tales. (Alright, probably plenty of better ones too…)

One thing that leaps out at me… what is with Iron Man’s sexy Marilyn Monroe pose on that Kree/Skrull cover??

One thing that made “Under Siege” (and Roger Stern) so great is that he never resorted to cheap dos-ex-machina to move the story along. The Masters of Evil overcome the Avengers in a very logical and real (believable) way. And the Avengers overcome the Masters of Evil in an equally logical way. It was very rare at this or any time for a superhero story involving beings of unimaginable power to be overcome with very believable means. And as a result of this “realism”, the story turns out to be one of the most brutal and grueling stories ever written and Avengers mansion ends up destroyed as we all imagined it should but never in a million years really expected it to. No other writer before brought the fight to Avengers mansion and made them pay very realistic consequences of having the mansion gutted. I can remember reading this and thinking, “OK here comes the dos-ex-machina to save the day”, and, surprisingly, it doesn’t happen. The bad guys joke about beating Jarvis… and THEY REALLY DO beat Jarvis to within an inch of his life, AND the team has to sit and watch this terrifying scene HELPLESSLY tied up and think all the terrible thoughts one would think in this kind of situation! No, Captain America DOES NOT get freed and beat the bad guys or help Jarvis escape! No, THEY SIT AND WATCH be killed (almost) right before their helpless eyes! Reading this stuff gave me chills up my spine as I thrilled to see what could possibly happen next. It truly is one of the greatest epics in comicbook history.

I was 10 years old when I traded a copy of the Hulk for Avengers #177. I remember looking at all these strange and wonderful beings dressed up in the coolest costumes and wondering who they were and what was this fight about. This was amazing stuff to a 10 year old who doesn’t know anything about the heroes in the comic, and to have ALL OF THE HEROES DIE (and be brought back at the last minute) AND one of the heroes weep at the death of the bad guy was not what a 10 year old expected to find in a comic of action heroes. I needed to find out more about these guys. Who is the guy in the all black costume? Why does the guy with glasses and red safari coat say he was dead before and doesn’t want to do it again? This was dynamic and fascinating stuff and it has made me a lover of the Avengers ever since. Many years later I pieced together the other issues in the story line and found out the full story and was even more impressed by what Shooter had done here. He told a story over a full year with fill in diversions along the way. Shooter wasn’t taking a direct route with this story, he was taking his time and building it slowly and letting it naturally grow and climax. And the ending was equally nuanced with no easy moral at the end but a complex story filled with complex people that were hard to deny the validity of each of their arguments. There were no “heroes” or “villains” here. There were combatants on either side of an conflict that were equally right. And thus a terribly sad ending. Shooter pushed the envelope of what happens in a team book. He didn’t just use 7 heroes. No and he didn’t just use all the Avengers that ever were. No he used old Avengers and new Avengers and even found some crazy way to bring heroes from the future into the mix. This story was wall to wall heroes all with their own crazy personalities and quirks. And Shooter didn’t have them looking their best. There is one memorable scene where a dozen Avengers are shanghaing a public transportation bus to use to transport the team to their destination. This is great stuff and Shooter lived up to the challenge and created one of the most memorable stories in the history of the Avengers and comicbookdom.
It’s interesting that both Stern and Shooter here used similar ways of building their stories and both took a more realistic and believable approach to telling their stories. I think this is what made them so good.
Thank you Brian Cronin for giving us the FULL story on Korvak. I still to this day haven’t been able to piece this much of the story together yet. It’s wonderful to see it presented here as you have done. And thank you for this wonderful romp through Avengers history. It was fun as hell!

I can’t remember if I put “Under Siege” as my #1 or #2 with “Avengers Forever”, but either way, I’m happy to see it in the top spot.

Also, any day that Roger Stern beats out Jim Shooter in a “Greatest Avengers Stories” list is a good day in my eyes.

Great end to a great list. I ended up with 9/10 picks represented, with my only absentee being the first East Coast/West Coast team-up in Avengers #250. Great action and some great character beats, too, especially between Captain Marvel and Starfox on the last page, where he admits she’s a credit to Mar-Vell’s title. Also, I may be in the minority, but I like Maelstrom and his goons.

Couple of thoughts: it’s cool that the top two picks each have climaxes that are exactly 100 issues apart, 177 and 277. Really, the whole scope of this list shows the Avengers have had great stories throughout their existence, not just dominated by one era or one particular creative team.

Having said that, I think the list is a good endorsement for Jim Shooter’s brief early run. Not only did it get four stories on this list, but they were four BACK TO BACK stories. Pretty much issues #160-177 are listed here in four installments (only broken up by a couple of fill-in issues).

And one of the things I loved about the Korvac story was that the seeds were actually planted at the start of the run in the form of Thor’s late arrivals to fight Ultron, Nefaria, and Graviton (in #s 158 and 159, one of the Shooter stories that didn’t make the cut), where even Thor had trouble understanding how he ended up arriving when he was needed. In ‘Korvac’ it’s revealed that the Collector was sending Thor to help save the day so his Avengers ‘collectibles’ wouldn’t be damaged, then removing his memory of having fought with them once he leaves.

That’s what I call a good run, one that is planned out and cohesive, but where the individual stories are enjoyed and fondly remembered on their own merits.

Thanks again for a fun, great list!

I would have put the Kree Skull war As #1. Under Siege was a good story but , as with many of those types of tales, The win at the end doesn’t make up for the devastating beginning. The Korvak saga was great but I didn’t like the lesser artist doing the last issue.( kind of justifies waiting months til the “good ” artist can finish the work like it’s done today.)

OH, awesome, my whole ballot’s on the countdown, I think :-D

Nice one on the Hunks story, destined to go down with “The Kid Who Collects Gilgamesh” as a sentimental Marvel favorite. Glad Brian got what just may have been a case of the “up-all-night sillies” about the top spots, too.

Honestly thought these Top 3 shook out just as they should. I think Kree-Skrull is one of those stories that appeals greatly to the youthful imagination, with its implied scope. Korvac’s interesting for many reasons, not the least is the Pyrrhic victory aspect (so stunning as to be corrected in a later tpb, which is unheard of), re-visited by Shooter at the end of his second run. I wonder if that (and what in life) inspired Moore’s Watchmen ending? Siege grew out of every natural progression of the series under Stern, which is just a magnificent cohesion. Mr. Stern didn’t anticipate this and “Olympus” as his swan song, but did he ever go out on top!

Yup I wish modern era had better stories. Between the art and the walls of text old comics just aren’t as good.

Great list! I might have reversed the order of #1 and #2, but still great list.

A couple of observations: in your summary of the Korvac Saga, you don’t mention that Michael really was plotting to take over the universe or, more accurately, planning to overthrow Eternity and free the universe from Its “capricious whims.” There is a whole philosophical debate here I won’t address, but it is a crucial part of the story. He and Corrina were not just living quietly. This was one of the aspects of the story that really appealed to me – particularly the scene where Michael is spying on the “great powers” of the MU – Odin, Zeus, Mephisto, the Watcher and Eternity itself. Of course, this was back in the days before the MU pantheon of great powers really expanded and left some powerful being less formidable than before. At the time, Galactus must have been out of commission (which also explains why Michael was able to get power from Galactus’ ship so easily)

I also thought the Korvac Saga conclusion was memorable for another, totally random reason – just how tough was Michael’s house? I always thought it was odd that a battle between unimaginably powerful beings (which resulted in most of them being killed) could take place entirely within the confines of a single suburban house. I’m assuming the fact that the battle was so contained was another manifestation of Michael’s power.

One thing about the “Under Siege” storyline: I really enjoyed this when it came out. I even enjoyed Hercules getting beaten to within an inch of his immortal life. In a way, it was fitting: he went in out of arrogance and a failure to appreciate the true power of his enemies who, in his eyes, were “mere mortals.” As I recall, it was Goliath who clobbered him and then left him to the others. The viciousness of the villains was also sickening, especially Mr. Hyde. One other observation: as I recall, Thor is not at full power when he comes back to help. At the time, Hela had rendered his bones brittle and easily broken. But he still took down Goliath in the end.

Lue Lyron – could you explain how the Korvac Saga was altered in the TPB? I did not know this. Was the finale of the story changed?

I enjoyed the hell out of this. Thanks Brian, thanks CSBG!

Yeah, I can’t really argue with that ranking. Those are some great stories.

Well, exactly half of my Top 10 list was on the final list, including the top two above. The ones that weren’t:

Ego the Loving Planet (Marvel Adventures The Avengers #12)
A Not-So-Beautiful Mind (Marvel Adventures The Avengers #9)
What If the Avengers Became Pawns of Korvac?
Paradigm Shift (Marvel Adventures The Avengers #26)
Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers

I recently bought the entire Stern/Buscema/Palmer run (again) and while it has lost just a tad bit of the charm it had when I first read it as a teen, it still was a blast re-reading the entire run again in one go. This creative team is THE one for me when talking about the Avengers, and I say that as one of Perez’ biggest fans. So I am glad to see 3 storylines of theirs being featured in this list and one of those even topping it.

@yupsolo — Between the art and the walls of text old comics just aren’t as good.

Not that it matters, but a “wall of text” is a long post on the internet with no paragraph breaks. ANYTHING else besides that is NOT a “wall of text”.

Iirc, the Korvac Saga was subtly altered to make it clear Korvac wasn’t as altruistic as he appeared. It’s a strange change as I personally was uncomfortable with the original ending but dislike altering the ending even more.

I think I was 7 for 10 with my list. What didn’t make from my list was:

Fear Itself: when read collected together this thing rocks.
The HAMMER War: I consider this one of the best of Bendis’ run.
New Avengers: The Illuminati Mini Series: this set up a lot of the Bendis era and filled in back history on some subtler points if that era.

Under Siege is definitely my favorite Avengers story, and one of my all time favorite comic book stories.

I think the “Emperor Doom” graphic novel should’ve been on the list though.

Where is Kang Dinasty ? ;-;

Kang Dynasty was number 8. I’m pretty sure it was my number 1 pick. I love that story.

I think the Korvac TPB had a four-page epilogue with a bunch of Avengers at Korvac’s grave, and Cap giving a speech that, if I recall correctly, amounted to “No matter his intentions, Korvac’s plan was evil and we were right to stop him.” Which kind of took the air out of the interesting ambiguity of the original ending, I thought anyway…

Sean Howe’s “Marvel: The Untold Story” gave an interesting take on it. It found parallel’s between Shooter’s ending and his more controlling qualities as editor-in-chief, with the idea being, “not all dictatorship is necessarily bad, and sometimes it’s good to trust in a higher power for the greater good” (I’m paraphrasing but again that was the gist of it, I think). Whether or not you think it’s a fair analogy, I thought it was a pretty interesting view…

Anyway, whatever the moral of the story, it was one of the coolest final battles ever, and for this little kid at the time, that equaled awesome comics!

The three stories here are defo in the right order in and of themselves. I have to say neither Korvac or Kree Skrull got into my top 10, Under Seige was my number one.

I think Kree Skrull is terribly over-rated to be honest. Though I did vote for a Skrull ‘Saga’ the issues in the Stern, Buscema, Palmer run which ran with the FF annual, bloody love that stuff. Korvac while pretty good doesn’t hang together as well as others.

Under Seige is one of those classics I just don’t think can be over-rated, the high point in a run that is often a little overlooked in the lists of great runs. Not only did Stern prove he’s a master plotter and constructor of a story, he showed a deft hand at keeping melodrama just on the tipping point, making sure it doesn’t quite dive into farce while, keeping a power and teenage thrill ride for all ages. Its quite brilliant.

I’ve loved this list, being a big fan of the Avengers and unlike so many, while the detail my raise questions by and large I’m surprised how relatively close to my view things are (but come please people will you re-read Lost in Time’ its nonsense of the worst kind!). Thanks for all the hard work on this one BUT, but BUT never ever dismiss an artist duo at the heights of their powers and producing some of the best ever work on a mainstream superhero book by simply saying “John Buscema and Tom Palmer drew the storyline.” Or I’ll track you down and ungratefully pout at you until you are really irritated!

The Kree Skrull war was awesome because it forced the big three into the fray.

@dhole- But don’t forget, the only person that claimed Korvac’s plan was benevolent was Moondragon. The ambiguity of Shooter’s ending was whether or not we should take Heather’s claims at face value or regard them as evidence of Heather’s growing corruption.

Rate the hunks. If memory serves, they gave Reed Richards a ‘4’ out ’10’. It was his favorite number.

The Kree Skrull war was awesome because it forced the big three into the fray.

As far as I can tell, the only one of these stories that has the big three in it is JLA/Avengers.

interesting kind of expected the kree skrull war to be number one on this list with under siege at least two. since the kree skull work proved what a master roy thomas is as a storyteller including involving a character like the vision to start having romantic feelings . and the kovac saga figure it would be one of the top stories. under siege showed how nasty and ruthless the masters of evil and zemo really are. espically what they do to jarvis and the mind games with cap.

thanks again for putting this together, Brian! Great fun!

Ego the Loving Planet almost made my Top 10 list. Yet another one of the 12 or so stories competing for my last couple of spots.

This brings my total up to 9 out of 10. My only entry that didn’t make it is issue #223 with Hawkeye and Scott Lang Ant-Man vs Taskmaster. It’s my favorite single issue of a comic, but purely for nostalgic reasons.

Korvac was #9 on my list, and Under Siege was #1. I really got into Avengers comics at about the best possible time. The first issue I bought on a monthly basis was part 1 of Time and Time again, and within a few months Under Siege happened, and then a few months later Assault on Olympus. Just an amazing string of comics to start with. With WCA I started collecting less than a year before Lost in Space/Time started. So it’s not really surprising that I became such a huge Avengers fan with all these amazing stories coming out within my first year or so collecting comics.

Thanks for putting the list together Brian. If you feel like counting down 51-100, I doubt you’d get many complaints. :)

I agree, a quick 51-100 list would be awesome.

Now on to the 50 Greatest Champions Stories of all time!

I didn’t care too much for “Under Siege” but will give it another chance down the line. I think it’s held back a bit because the team of that era (Captain Marvel II, Hercules, Black Knight) really sucks.

While Under Siege did have a lot of great moments it had too many lame ones. Dr. Druid joining. Ant-Man and Wasp beating Absorbing Man and Titiana. Herc getting drunk too the point he hits someone who at the time appeared to be a regular guy. And Herc wouldn’t have lost his temper over Jan beating leader. He respected Jan. Even when he was with the Champions Black Widow was team leader.

I am genuinely surprised Dark Avengers/Dark Reign didn’t place. I’m not a fan of Bendis’s Avengers, but I think that was definitely the best thing he did while on the titles.

@Black Manta- I don’t see what’s wrong with Ant-Man and Wasp beating Titania and Absorbing Man. Jan and Scott are a lot more capable than a lot of readers give them credit for. As for Jan, keep in mind that Herc was sleeping with Natasha when she was leading the Champions.

kree/skrull war is probably the most overrated marvel story ever. the other two are awesome, and well deserving of the two top spots.

i continue to enjoy this stuff – thanks brian!

also, this is what jim shooter had to say about the epilogue added to the Korvac TPB –

(ASIDE: In reprintings of the Korvac Saga, long after I was gone, editor Ralph Macchio had an idiotic “Epilogue” tacked on that destroyed the ending, which he obviously didn’t grok. The Epilogue retroactively eviscerated the payoff of the Moondragon long term tease in issues #219-220, “…By Divine Right,” and “War Against the Gods.”)

you will find this here –

3. Amazing art, incredible ambition and reach. This story doesn’t age as well as a lot of the others mainly because the concepts have been copied and referenced so much since that they have lost a lot of their power. The scope of this story must have been mind blowing to fans when it came out though. It’s hard to judge something this seminal due to all the copycats.

2. Back in the days before ebay, it took me a year of searching to track down #177 – a year after having read #167-176. I was on pins and needles, man. The day I found #177 was epic – my mind was completely blown by the ending, even a decade after the issue was published. So many great moments in this storyline.

1. I read this when it came out as a kid. When Hercules got beaten nearly to death in #274, the tease for the next issue said “Even a God Can Die!” I breathlessly called my friend up. “The beat Hercules to death! It says he might die in the next issue!!!” Yes, I was once that naive. Ah, youth. The story still holds up.

I have to say, while this countdown didn’t rank things the way I wuold have, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much love has been given the classic Avengers stories. If anybody was introduced to the rich history of Avengers comics by Bendis – and I think the first 25 years of Avengers stacks up against any superhero title ever – then at least I will have to give him his due for bringing new readers into the Avengers fold.

“As far as I can tell, the only one of these stories that has the big three in it is JLA/Avengers.”

Even though about half of them HAVE the big three on the cover? And other who don’t also feature them. What the…?

Didn’t vote, but woulda said:

1) The Ultimates first arc (vs. the Hulk) – The only time the Avengers ever made even comic book sense to me.
2) Ego the Loving Planet – Marvel Adventures is, pound for pound, my favorite Avengers comic.
3) Korvac Saga – Especially the part where the Avengers ride the bus to go save the world.
4) Avengers # 1. Hulk, dressed as a clown, pretending to be a robot and juggling elephants is the peak of the Avengers. Also human artistic endeavor. And civilization as a whole.
5) First Grim Reaper: Black Panther joins.
6) Englehart’s first Unliving Legion story. (He’s my favorite 616 Avengers writer, and would dominate 11-20.)
7) Absolute Vison
8) The original Masters of Evil storyline/death of Zemo/Enchantress’ exile on earth. Especally the first Wonder Man story, which I am shocked didn’t make it.
9) Marvel Two-In-One # 75. Almost ruined by crappy ’80s Marvel production values, but looks great in the Essential.
10) Bendis’ last Avengers story/redemtion of Wonder Man.

Even though about half of them HAVE the big three on the cover? And other who don’t also feature them. What the…?

Imagine that you were a fan of Lawrence Taylor, the New York Giants’ Hall of Fame defensive end. Would you be a bit irked when fans started giving LaDainian Tomlinson the nickname of “LT” decades later? That’s what he’s talking about here.

So who are the “real” Avengers’ Big 3 if not Cap, Iron Man and Thor? Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk? Is Gilgamesh involved? Crosby, Stills, and Nash are featured right here in the Kree/Skrull War. Is it the DC thing?

The last one.

DC themselves seem to prefer “the Trinity” when referring to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. That was the title of both the Matt Wagner and Kurt Busiek/Fabian Nicieza/Mark Bagley series starring that trio.

Mike Loughlin

July 1, 2013 at 7:15 am

Kree/ Skrull War was good, but the deus ex Machina ending never worked for me. Using Golden Age Marvel hero energy beIngs that come out of Rick Jones skull is not the best way to resolve an epic space battle. Great art, though.

I read the Korvac Saga in trade and liked it (great ending!) but wish George Perez had drawn it all. As Brian noted, the other artists did fine, but it could have looked even better.

Under Siege was my #1. Stern and Buscema got everything right, from the pacing to the characterization to the action. I like that every character got something to do, even Dr. Druid and Ant-Man. It was the crown jewel of Stern’s excellent run.

I’ve always found “Trinity” a little precious, and that seems like a pretty recent branding that DC adopted. I never saw them use it before that Wagner series, though they’ve been pushing it pretty hard ever since, and continue to do so now with the–sigh–Trinity War.

But yeah, I was talking about WW, Bats and Supes.

I’m not familiar with those…I’m gonna guess football players…that Brian mentioned, but I’m sure it’s an apt analogy.

I loved “under Siege”…but even though #273 was the start of the siege of avengers mansion, Zemo’s plotting started back in issue #269, there were even a couple of crossover issues…Captain America #324, and an issue of Amazing Spider-man (Spidey vs. Absorbing Man and Titania)

I will grow old and die and never understand the appeal of the Kree-Skrull War and the Korvac Saga.

Also, The Celestial Madonna.

Wow! I got into comics hardcore right at the start of the “Under Siege” storyline. It’s so easy for me to remember because it was the 25th anniversary coverfest and Black Knight was there on Avengers #273. I was intrigued because I did not know who that was, being only mildly into comics before, with the likes of Spider-man, X-men and Batman. And it’s funny that just a couple of months ago I reread the Avengers again starting with that storyline. It’s just so awesome.

Wish Marvel would give Roger Stern some kind of Avengers title, his run one and again has proved legendary. And after him, the Avengers went into years of unbelieveable decline until Busiek and Perez relaunched the title. Supposedly at the time, Stern was fired because Editorial didn’t want Monica Rambeau as team leader; also I think Stern has said he brought in Dr. Druid to the team because Marvel wouldn’t allow him to use Dr. Strange. And then Mark Gruenwald brought Walter Simonson to trash everything including the Monster Marrina story and Gilgamesh joining the team; after that the Harras-Epting period was sort of grim.
Stern brought Namor into the team, wrote the best Wasp ever and Monica Rambeau is still waiting for Marvel to do her justice (maybe in Mighty Avengers). And the Wasp and Ant Man versus Titania and Absorbing Man battle to save Hercules is one of the most epic battles I have seen in comics.

I’m looking forward to the 50 Greatest X-Men Stories list, but doubt it’ll be as interesting as this Avengers one, with the top ten probably being dominated by Claremont and Byrne.

Contrast that with this list, with the top ten entries representing 6 different writers and every decade from the 60s to the 2000s. A great testament to the broad appeal and consistency of the Avengers.

I didn’t vote, but I kind of like that the #1 is such an intimate story. I know many would call it “epic”, but what I mean is: look at how many stories on this list are about intergalactic wars, time travel, world domination, etc.

“Under Siege” is just about a bunch of guys coming to the Avengers’ house and beating the shit out of them. It’s a story about human cruelty, and the fact that it beat out all the others is kind of amazing and awesome.

Just a thought: if they gender flipped “rate the hunks” and did “rate the babes” with Iron Man and Hawkeye, how well would that go over?

The Silent One

July 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Loved this list, takes me back to all those stories, some I remembered, some I forgot about. You’ll get no arguments with me on almost all of the stories listed. Like someone mentioned earlier, I’m surprised there were not many votes (I didn’t vote at all, being late to read this) for Avengers #58, death be not proud. Incredible story in detail of Cap losing Bucky. When I first read it, I could not stop rereading it a few times. Guess it coming after the introduction of Vision dimmed its luster.

Makes me feel like going back and start with Avengers #1 and reread it all the way until I quit buying monthlies about 2 years ago. I’m too old for 5th or so relaunching. Good for young readers starting on comics, no question, but I’m too attached to the long running serials from FF#1 until the stupid takeover by Image guys.

I’m curious (I haven’t bought any of it) but is Hickman’s current run any good? Loved his FF and SHIELD work.

UNDER SEIGE used hardcover is 150.00$ at Amazon now.

I caught up after voting had closed, but after seeing them I think I’d rank them like this-

10. Taskmaster story – This was hard with things like Assault on Olympus not making the cut but I love the Taskmaster and how he believably goes up against the entire Avengers.
9. Time After Time – Kang. Hard to pick between this and “Dynasty” but this one just feels a little less bloated, though both are great.
8.WCA limited series. The WCA holds a place in my heart, even if the stories weren’t all great (though only a few were bad). I think the intro of the team was more solid than the time travel story.
7. Trial of Hank Pym. I think I like the redemption effort better than the Trial of Yellowjacket. But you can’t have one without the other.
6. Death of Wonderman/Masters of Evil. Really surprised this didn’t make the top 50. Original Zemo, the Masters of Evil (who are the only ones who come close to Ultron and Kang) and the “permanent” death of a man for being a hero. This story influenced so many other Avengers stories.
5.Ultron Unlimited. Busiek’s best, and probably the best Ultron story.
4.Thanos annuals. I confess I probably wouldn’t have thought to vote for this on my own. But this is what epic, battling super hero comics should be like, and all about.
3.Return of Cap. I know they actually kinda did it before this with the Sub-Mariner, but man, what a concept of bringing back long gone big name heroes without just revamping them. It’s what probably made the Avengers a viable title rather than something that disappeared into history. (Can you imagine the title surviving if it had been “Iron Man’s Kooky Quartet?”
2. Even an Android can Cry. Maybe the best Ultron story, except it’s really a Vision story. And probably the most heartfelt issues of the Avengers, ever.
1. Under Siege. Just perfect Avengers storytelling. It blows your mind without having to blow up the status quo as stories try and do now. And what it should have done is set up Zemo as not just a Cap bad guy, but one of the big three for the Avengers. With his father’s history, and his less-Cap centric nature with the Thunderbolts, he should be a big time threat to them all….along with his varying Masters.

Endnote, there is nothing wrong with the other two in the top 3. They’re all time classics to be sure. The reasons they don’t meet my favorite level is the ends leave the mind questioning and the heart cold, respectively. I actually have a bit bigger problem with the Kree/Skrull, because while it set the standard for epic, Rick Jones saves the day just seems to wrap things up too easily, and nicely. I’m not wild about stories where the heroes have nothing to do with the saving of the day. This could have worked better if anything really followed up on this “potential that lies in humanity thing” even tying it into mutants or something, but it was never really fleshed out.

Korvacs is a better story, and the end certainly is groundbreaking and thought provoking. But it just doesn’t have the emotional connection that some others do. The team wins by default, really. Whether they should have won or not is intriguing. How they do isn’t really. (Though loads better than the end of Secret Wars II).

It’s always been Under Seige for me, as No. 1. And yes, as someone else posted, it was a somewhat de-powered Thor entering the fray and not the usual where he is just so powerful that he can save the day. I love it when Thor does something he usually doesn’t and CRACKS Goliath’s head with Mjolnier big time in the fight (I think CRACK was the sound effect that was used). I also love Ant Man and Wasp against Absorbing Man and Titania story. That story line was one of the few where I felt that I didn’t know what was going to happen next, except that it didn’t look good for our heroes.

Kree/Skrull War was probably more impressive if you read it sometime near the time it was published. Adams was a god at the time, and he didn’t do much work for Marvel during that period and it was very special that he was doing the Avengers for the story line. As great as the immortal John Buscema was, it was disappointing that Adams didn’t do the final issue…always wondered what was up with that…maybe a good Comic Book Legends item there.

Great, great list! While not perfect….It spans a good cross-section of old and new creative teams. can’t argue with a whole lot. I would have really liked to have seen a few different arcs in there, of course. One of my first comics ever purchased was Avengers V1 #141, and didn’t miss an issue for decades.

In fact, I will always hail Kurt Busiek for his V3 run on Avengers, as it virtually paid tribute to V1 141-171 verbatim with stories including The Squadron Supreme, Count Nefaria, Graviton, Kang and Ultron. Busiek knew the formula for Avengers greatness…..classic Avengers villains. It didn’t hurt that George Perez was drawing for him, either.

A few I would have liked to have seen on the list is as follows….

V1 158-159 (1st Graviton Story): I really would have liked to see the first Graviton two-parter 158-159 make the list. In that issue, Wonder Man fights the Vision (who was being a total a-hole) and then Graviton gets introduced as a Magneto-level of power villain. Just an epic battle.

V1: 154-156, & Super-Villian Team Up Crossover (Attuma/Dr.Doom Battle): This great 3-partner included Attuma and big, blue, strong baddass in 1970s shades, chain and chest hair named Tyrak, the Sub-Mariner and Dr. Doom. Just a classic battle and one where Wonder Man knocks out Sub-Mariner savagely in 154. Classic super-team versus major-league bad guys and great action.

I just didn’t dig the Celestial Madonna stuff or the Wanda/Wundagore stuff (think it was Bova the talking cow-mom)…….and Avengers V1 #1, while critically important……just doesn’t belong on the list of greatest Avengers stories.

Good stuff, though…..great trip through Avengers history! THANK YOU!

Very interesting list. Of the top 3, I’ve only recently acquired the collected edition of “Under Siege” based on the write-ups and recommendations here. I remember buying bits of the “Kree-Skrull War” when it came out but missed half of the issues mostly in the middle (#’s 89, 92 & 94-96). I finally bought a hard cover version collected special edition and thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it and filling in the gaps.
“The Korvac Saga” was a favourite of mine particularly the beginning featuring the Guardians Of The Galaxy whom I’d never seen before this. Beast’s wise cracks were priceless, particularly his first encounter with Charlie 27 & Nikki. Again I missed a couple of issues in the middle and also the final chapter. I was left hanging with the sight of Korvac about to wreak havoc on the collected Avengers and Guardians in his house in Forest Hills Lawns of all places. I did find the trade paperback years later and go back to it on occasion.
I’ve been collecting a series of hardbacks called The Ultimate Marvel Graphic Novel Collection. Originally it was supposed to be just 60 volumes spanning key titles through the years 1980-2010, but it has been extended with another 40 covering the key runs of the 1960’s-70’s and another 20 covering the years to 2013. Having been out of touch with Marvel comics for a number of years I’ve been able to familiarise myself with a number of the included newer titles over the years. I’ve also taken on the “caretakership” of a jointly owned old Marvel comic book collection. I owned titles up to the mid 1980’s and my brother took them on. I’ve an ongoing project to bag and board each one and have about 400 more to do out of about 2000+. It’s been a nice journey of rediscovery.

Usage of the “Big Three” in an Avengers context goes back at least to 1974, with Swordsman using it on panel in Avengers #126. While in our world Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman had a special status as the only three heroes who always had a monthly book sinc the Golden Age, I don’t know that their special status was reflected in the comics stories themselves that far back by any special name. I would bet krone to cronuts that the “Trinity” tag isn’t that old.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives