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!
When Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man and the Wasp all tired of group heroics in AVENGERS #16, they left the stalwart Captain America to hold down the fort. Little did they realize he'd hand over the keys to the kingdom to three known super criminals. That's right: enter the battling Hawkeye, the fleet Quicksilver and the seductive Scarlet Witch!
Hawkeye, bowman extraordinaire, once confronted Iron Man as a foe, yet in his heart yearned to aid society rather than oppose it. After his lover, The Black Widow, seemingly perished he devoted his life to good and sought Avengers membership to prove his mettle. He'd go onto become a popular fixture of the team.
Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, brother and sister mutants, fell into the orbit of the heinous Magneto and joined his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in a naïve effort to fight for their kind. They'd hoped the Avengers might look past their failings and see them as the heroes they truly believed
Though startled at first by the untimely departure of his comrades, Cap swore to hold the Avengers together and introduced an excited-yet somewhat dubious-world to his new partners. The famous cry then sprang from his lips: "Avengers Assemble!"
And oh, what assembling the new Avengers did against all manner of opponents. From cretins to communists, aliens to gods, Cap's Kooky Quartet earned their spurs in combat. First came The Mole Man, then The Swordsman, The Mandarin, the original Power Man and the return of The Enchantress and Executioner. Then, in AVENGERS #23, one of the team's most challenging foes tested their strength once again as Kang the Conqueror reared his purple cowl! For four heroes with little to no earth-shattering powers, they held their own.
Through battle after battle, skirmish after skirmish, the new Avengers fought on. But their greatest battle occurred internally. The inaugural Avengers acknowledged their differences from time to time, but Cap's Kooky Quartet argued and browbeat each other perhaps like no team of Avengers before or since.
The team survived, somehow, and went on to further glory as among the strangest teams of Avengers ever. Their ranks swelled to include the demi-god Hercules in AVENGERS #45 but in the end, Cap's Kooky Quartet finished their tenure and paved the way for the triumphant return of the first Avengers.
The new Avengers that arrived next most definitely rank as some of the most interesting characters to grace the series. Panthers and androids and Knights, oh my...
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