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Take 10

Take 10: Avengers Leaders

It takes quite a hero to lead Earth's Mightiest, and this week the Secret Cabal picks the Avengers leaders who left a mark

Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas.

The Heroic Age has begun and Earth's Mightiest Heroes have been reborn in the pages of AVENGERS and SECRET AVENGERS, with NEW AVENGERS still to come. But while the rosters of each team have quickly filled out, the leadership remains fairly fluid, as Steve Rogers evaluates who best possesses the skills to head up the Avengers.

Whoever assumes the chair at the head of the Avengers table will have quite the legacy to live up to, with former leaders comprising some of Marvel's finest heroes-and some of the most unlikely as well.

This week, the Secret Cabal looks at 10 Avengers leaders who stood out for a variety of reasons.

For each character you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!


First Appearance: AMAZING ADVENTURES #1 (1961)
First Led the Avengers: AVENGERS #295 (1988)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Doctor Druid was hardly the greatest Avengers leader of all-time; rather, a pretty good case could be made that he was the worst ever. Manipulated by the villainous Nebula, the vain and power-hungry Druid used his own powers of mental manipulation to influence his fellow Avengers into electing him chairman, then led them straight into a trap where they dumped him upon coming to their senses. So yeah, as a team leader-and really as an Avenger-Doc Druid was more or less a wash, but a pretty glorious disaster to behold.
Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #277-Doctor Druid joins the Avengers!

First Appearance: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #13 (1967)
First Led the Avengers: MIGHTY AVENGERS #1 (2007)
Learn More About Her...here
Why She Makes the List: Carol Danvers had a tall task as leader of the Mighty Avengers, not only heading up the premiere team of the post-Civil War Marvel Universe landscape, but also trying to do so with Iron Man playing armchair quarterback all the while. Ms. Marvel did not shrink in the face of her tenured teammate, though, spearheading the team's successful campaigns against Ultron and Doctor Doom. Secret Invasion cut Carol's time at the top short, but we have a feeling she'll get another shot sooner than later.
Spotlight Comic: MIGHTY AVENGERS #1-Ms. Marvel assembles the Mighty Avengers!

8. CAPTAIN MARVEL (Monica Rambeau)
First Appearance: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16 (1982)
First Led the Avengers: AVENGERS #279 (1987)
Learn More About Her...here
Why She Makes the List: Talk about big shoes to fill: Monica Rambeau took on no less name than Captain Marvel upon becoming a super hero and then ended up being elected leader of the Avengers despite being a relative newcomer to the team! The second Captain's purity of motivation and dedication to the good fight not to mention her skill and power led Avengers veterans like Captain America, Thor and The Wasp to concur she had what it took to be first among Earth's Mightiest Heroes. While Monica Rambeau did not remain Avengers chair for all that long, she proved that the right attitude can take you a long way.
Spotlight Comic: NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E. #1-Monica Rambeau leads a different kind of team!

First Appearance: AVENGERS #57 (1968)
First Led the Avengers: AVENGERS #242 (1984)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: One of the most steadfast Avengers, it's a shame that once The Vision finally got his shot at leading the team so central to his existence, he did so while under the influence of a malevolent super-computer and attempted to undermine Earth's Mightiest Heroes rather than bring them prosperity. Still, Vizh's stint as chair wasn't all bad, as he did give Hawkeye the go-ahead to found the West Coast Avengers and helped thwart a Dire Wraith invasion of Earth-imagine what he could do if he was actually running the show!
Spotlight Comic: WEST COAST AVENGERS #45-A whole new Vision!

First Appearance: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14 (1964)
First Led the Avengers: DARK AVENGERS #1 (2009)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Homicidal? Yes. Psychotic? Without question. A great leader? Yeah, actually. All three of those statements are totally applicable to Norman Osborn, who turned in his Green Goblin mask for Iron Patriot armor in order to head up his own Dark Avengers. Norman had a complex role to play, acting as virtuous hero in public while remaining megalomaniacal Cabal head behind closed doors, but for a surprisingly lengthy period of time, he pulled it off. Yes, when Osborn fell, he fell hard, but for a little while he had America loving his Avengers and managed to keep their kill count pretty low, all things being relative of course.
Spotlight Comic: DARK AVENGERS #2-It's the first mission for Norman Osborn's Avengers, as he directs them into battle against Morgan le Fay!

First Appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 (1963)
First Led the Avengers: AVENGERS #2 (1963)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Tony Stark may be one of the most successful businessmen of his generation and head of his own corporation-usually-but leadership skills in the boardroom don't always translate over to other fields of endeavor. As Iron Man, Stark has proven a capable leader of the Avengers, particularly rising to the challenge of steering the team through it's earliest days, but his ego and need to micro-manage can often prove his greatest stumbling block. No question the other Avengers respect Shellhead and trust him to have their back both when facing down evil or the press, but that doesn't necessarily mean they want him wielding the chairman's gavel too often-ironically though, that's part of what makes it so fun to read about him as head honcho.
Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES #3-Iron Man attempts to halt the government from shutting down the Avengers before they can even truly get going!

First Appearance: TALES TO ASTONISH #44 (1963)
First Led the Avengers: AVENGERS #217 (1982)
Learn More About Her...here
Why She Makes the List: Janet Van Dyne was present for the founding of the Avengers, but as a spoiled rich girl barely out of her teens and more concerned with flirting than building a real reputation as a hero. Yet whether against Kang, Ultron or Baron Zemo, The Wasp held her ground, and became one of Earth's Mightiest whether she intended to or not. However, nobody could have guessed the trials that awaited Janet-most of all her tumultuous and doomed marriage to Hank Pym-would lead her to prove her worth and become one of the Avengers' boldest and most capable leaders. The Wasp never backed down from an alpha male like Hercules or Namor and held her ground as the team she led faced intergalactic menaces as well as devastation from the Masters of Evil, cementing her place as a lady to be reckoned with.
Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #221-The Wasp leads a recruiting drive!

First Appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #57 (1964)
First Led the Avengers: WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 (1984)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: When he first joined the Avengers, surely nobody ever thought Clint Barton could ever lead the team-except for him of course. The brash, cocky archer was constantly challenging Captain America's right to lead, but never demonstrated the temper or maturity needed to do it himself. A few years and some solid mentoring from the guy he used to bag on-not to mention a shotgun marriage-proved all the difference, as Hawkeye would found the Avengers' west coast branch and serve with distinction as their chairman for several years. The Avenging Archer also brought his unique brand of leadership to the Thunderbolts later on and would succeed not in spite of his spunk, but due in large part to it.
Spotlight Comic: WEST COAST AVENGERS #46-Hawkeye brings his leadership skills to the Great Lakes Avengers!

First Appearance: HERO FOR HIRE #1 (1972)
First Led the Avengers: NEW AVENGERS #27 (2007)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: If you check the Avengers record books, you likely won't find Luke Cage filed as an "official" team leader given that the tenure most would consider his took place largely at a time when his group was underground as outlaws and functioned more as a gang of friends on the run than any kind of super hero unit. However, in the dark days following Civil War when it was more challenging to be a "good guy" in the Marvel Universe than at just about any other time, the Avengers silently anointed the former Power Man as the heart of their team and followed his lead without question. It's quite an accomplishment that a man once known as the "Hero for Hire" could acquire the maturity and poise to keep guys like Spider-Man and Wolverine on the right path, but that's Luke Cage for you.
Spotlight Comic: NEW AVENGERS #28-Luke Cage and his Avengers take to the streets of Japan!

1. CAPTAIN AMERICA (Steve Rogers)
First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 (1941)
First Led the Avengers: AVENGERS #16 (1965)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Though not technically a founding member of the Avengers, Steve Rogers took what had been in the brief period before his joining a barely-functioning group of loosely-aligned hotheads and forged them into the greatest super hero team in the Marvel Universe. Chief among Cap's many impressive heroic assets are his discipline, his courage and his nearly unmatched ability to inspire, all necessary ingredients when it comes to being a stalwart leader. Any team of Avengers that counts Steve Rogers among their ranks, whether he's officially the chairman or not, benefits from his presence, experience and drive to make Earth's Mightiest Heroes live up to that moniker.
Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #17 (1965)-Cap leads his new Avengers team on a hunt for The Hulk!


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duh captain america is on the list.


I completely agree with Captain America being the best leader, but I cannot believe you have Dr. Druid on the list and there is no Thor???? Thor has led the Avengers a couple of times and done a great job, Dr. Druid wasn't even a good CHARACTER let alone an Avenger or an Avenger's Leader... No respect for Thor...


Natasha had the Avengers disbanded under her watch as leader, but I guess that didn't have a major impact on the team.