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!
The Avengers have known few equals during their tenure as Earth's Mightiest Heroes, however on one occasion they found themselves sorely tested not by a band of ruthless villains but a fellow team of heroes. Once the dust from their skirmishes cleared, what became known as the Avengers-Defenders War made its mark in the history of the Marvel Universe as one of the first mega-crossover sagas ever.
It began in AVENGERS #115, wherein we learned of the unholy alliance between the dread Dormammu, lord of the Dark Dimension, and Thor's
The first battle of the War took place in AVENGERS #116, when Loki slyly set the Avengers against the Defenders for his own selfish purposes. On an otherwise peaceful South Seas island, The Silver Surfer clashed with The Vision and The Scarlet Witch over a live volcano and earned the first Evil Eye piece for the Defenders.
DEFENDERS #9 found the invincible Iron Man in a tussle with his old sparring partner Hawkeye on a university campus in Mexico. Hawkeye's cunning and clever trick-arrows provided him with the upper hand when the Avenger's attention focused on innocent students in danger, and again the Defenders seized a shard of the Evil Eye. Another Defender proclaimed victory in an Indiana corn field when Doctor Strange wove a spell to defeat The Black Panther and the mysterious Mantis. Their strength sapped by Strange's magic, the two Avengers watched as the magician made off with the prize.
A raucous sword fight broke out in an old Nazi castle in the jungles of Bolivia, as AVENGERS #117 unfolded. The respective weapons of Valkyrie and The Swordsman danced and dashed as their wielders strove to defeat each other in the crumbling ruin. Interference came from the castle's
But this time, Captain America sensed something very, very wrong. Together, he and Namor felt the clutching bonds of manipulation woven throughout their teams' "war" and agreed to look into it further.
Then, in DEFENDERS #10, an outdoor hotel fountain in Los Angeles, California witnessed the most brutal battle of the Avengers-Defenders War: The Hulk versus Thor. Almost evenly matched, the two titans clashed and the city felt each blow. Finally, they stood locked in a death-grip for 20 full minutes, neither one giving ground, until an arriving grouping of Avengers and Defenders declared the fight null and void.
The two teams attempted to sort through the haze of the situation, realizing they'd been puppet-mastered the entire time. But before Doctor Strange could assemble the pieces of the Evil Eye, the demonic device fell into the snatching claws of the dread Dormammu, who wielded it to bring about hell on Earth.
Ultimately, Loki betrayed the lord of the Dark Dimension and activated the Evil Eye, which absorbed every iota of Dormammu and directed his energies back at the
And what of the Black Knight, the centerpiece of the entire War? DEFENDERS #11 told of the team's subsequent struggle to cure him, which, after a trip to the past, they accomplished. After a stay in the past, the Knight eventually accepted Avengers membership, and the rest remains history.
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