Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
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.
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.
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