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Avengers Fridays

Avengers Fridays: The Old Order Changeth #1

Learn all about Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Giant-Man, The Wasp and Captain America-Earth's original Mightiest Heroes

By Jim Beard

"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born-to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!"

As the Heroic Age dawns on the Marvel Universe and we prepare for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, each Friday Marvel.com will present a different column focusing on the one and only Avengers. From line-ups to costumes to villains to classic stories and beyond, we've got you covered on the history of Marvel's most prolific team of heroes!

So let the call go out: Avengers Assemble!


Once upon a time, the God of Mischief walked the Earth, sowing trouble and turmoil along his path. Little did the evil Loki know then that he'd be responsible for inaugurating a mighty gathering of heroes that exists to this day: the Avengers!

Championed through their first adventures by such Marvel luminaries as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Don Heck, the initial line-up from AVENGERS #1 more than earned their reputation as "Earth's Mightiest Super Heroes." Though a small membership by today's standards, these first Avengers set the style and tone for every roster to follow.

The most dashing and arguably most powerful among them had to be Thor, the God of Thunder. Wielding his magical Uru hammer, Thor brought both strength and a warrior's cunning to the team and, of course, a majesty unparalleled. His own brother, Loki's conniving machinations brought about the first formation of the Avengers, but Thor's godly presence helped to wipe that stain from their record.

Iron Man, with his gleaming armor and incredible inventions, provided the Avengers with much-needed technology and, ultimately, their first headquarters. Secretly industrialist Tony Stark-the first Avengers kept their true identities from each other-Iron Man lent a cool head and a keen eye to the assemblage. He also became the first to be suspended from the team, in AVENGERS #7, and also disappeared for a short span when Stark

seemed to perish from an enemy's attack.

More scientific know-how came to the Avengers by way of Doctor Hank Pym, better known first as the amazing Ant-Man and later Giant-Man. Along with his partner in peril The Wasp, Pym's diminutive and gigantic alter-egos provided the team with tactics for both stealth and frontal assaults. The first several Avengers adventures also kicked-off Janet Van Dyne's penchant for costume changes, with Hank finishing a close second in that area, sporting different Giant-Man motifs beginning in AVENGERS #2.

The first ranks of Avengers also boasted none other than the incredible Hulk himself. Surly and irritable, the green behemoth figured he'd rather be with the team than against them at the end of their first adventure, but by the close of the second decided he didn't care much for the idea of togetherness. The Hulk transformed from friend to foe in the space of a heartbeat and bedeviled the Avengers for many tales to come. It ain't easy being green.

No look at the Avenger's formative time would be complete without mention of the original Captain America, Steve Rogers. Fished from the sea in the famous AVENGERS #4, the star-spangled hero of World War II found new life and new purpose with the team in a world he barely recognized. So important to the Avengers would Cap's legend become that they'd eventually name him an honorary founding member. Though still

reeling from the loss of his teen sidekick, Bucky, Captain America marched into battle with the Avengers and swiftly re-established his reputation as one of the greatest super heroes of them all.

And what battles! Barely had these champions named themselves and set up shop than all manner of boisterous bad guys crawled out of the woodwork to challenge the Avengers. First came the Space Phantom, easily vanquished. Then, in AVENGERS #3, the destructive duo of The Sub-Mariner and The Hulk attacked. As soon as that menace faded the threat of the Lava Men and the first grouping of the Masters of Evil put our beleaguered heroes on guard. Then, the terrible trio of The Enchantress, The Executioner and Baron Zemo stirred up trouble, followed by Kang, Immortus, the Mole Man, The Red Ghost and the callous Count Nefaria. Much of the evil that would dog the Avenger's heels for years to come sprang up in those seminal days.

Sadly, such constant action and adventure can only lead to the inevitable: fatigue. Even Earth's Mightiest Heroes can grow tired and look forward to a respite from their joined labors. By AVENGERS #16, the team's energies ebbed and they parted on separate vacations to reclaim their respective lives. Though tears fell at their parting, the first Avengers knew they'd re-convene at a later date and once more face evil as one. Leaving

Captain America with a wish and a prayer, Thor, Giant-Man, The Wasp and Iron Man closed the door behind them.

But Cap had no desire to spin his wheels waiting for them. His own Avengers, formed in the wake of the first line-up, could only be described as a bit...kooky.


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