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Avengers Fridays

Avengers Fridays: The Old Order Changeth #4

Two wars loom over the Avengers as powerful members depart and strange newcomers join up

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 Kree-Skrull War took its toll on Earth's Mightiest Heroes but when things seemed bleakest, fresh troops arrived in the form of the Avengers' heaviest hitters: the Invincible Iron Man, the Mighty Thor and Captain America. A new era of glory dawned in AVENGERS #93, with a membership that stood the test of time until AVENGERS #136.

The "Big Three" of the Avengers made appearances before the events of the raging, cosmic conflict, but once the clarion call sounded, the heroes knew that a more permanent presence made sense. With them during this time stood the android Vision, the hex-throwing Scarlet Witch, the agile Black Panther, the sharp-tongued Hawkeye and a handfold of new members who branded this exciting era with their own distinct mark.

This membership also saw action in some of the team's biggest and wildest cases to date. If the Kree-Skrull War didn't qualify as adventure to beat the band, then the sprawling Avengers-Defenders War, the sinister siege of Zodiac and the far-flung mystery of the Celestial Madonna gave the team much to worry about-and almost die for. Add to this a singular struggle against the mad god Thanos and you've got quite a collection of calamities for our heroes.

But not all of the Avengers tales during this era registered as globe-busters; sometimes the in-comparison-quieter affairs of the heart took precedent in their lives. Perhaps hardest hit by this particular affliction: The Vision and Scarlet Witch. While the heroes wrangled The Space Phantom and Grim Reaper into submission, in AVENGERS #108, a burgeoning bundle of romance began to grow between the android and lady mutant, one that the world may not have been quite ready for. AVENGERS #113 brought public anger against the couple and the Living Bombs terrorist group made sure the Vision felt their ire. Though the

android survived their attack, his confusion over his dual interest in both The Scarlet Witch and new member Mantis caused much consternation throughout his synthozoid circuits.

On top of his new-found feelings of love, The Vision fought with his emotions over the lure of a human body in which to inhabit, courtesy of his "brother," The Grim Reaper, as seen in AVENGERS #102-104. Ultimately, he resisted this temptation and continued to fight valiantly at the side of the Avengers, even being mortally injured in AVENGERS #132, and won the hand of The Scarlet Witch in marriage by the time of GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #4. The android even uncovered his origins thanks in part to Immortus, though as the years unfolded he challenged those beginnings and found them wanting.

Another wedding took place in that landmark issue, that of Mantis and the Swordsman. Well-in a way, that is.

Making her debut in AVENGERS #112, the enigmatic and beautiful Vietnamese girl possessed an inner calm that seemingly ran against her incredible martial arts prowess in battle. The Avengers finally learned of

her origins from an uncanny source: that of Libra, the leader of the villainous Zodiac and self-professed father of Mantis. The exotic Avenger entered into a romance with the criminal-turned-hero Swordsman, who re-joined the team in AVENGERS #114, but her dashing beau lost his life in service to the group. Perhaps no one could have predicted that an intelligent, plant-based alien called the Cotati would have taken possession of the Swordsman thereafter and married Mantis, or that she would be discovered to be the "Celestial Madonna" of space lore and legend.

Another heroine served briefly with the Avengers during this time: The Black Widow. After aiding the team in their conflict with Magneto in AVENGERS #111, she accepted the invitation of membership in some ways to run from her rocky romance with the hero Daredevil. Alas, the Widow soon realized the Avengers didn't really need her and left two issues later to patch things up with the Man Without Fear.

This Avengers also played host to such Marvel luminaries as Moondragon, Agatha Harkness, the Inhumans, and Immortus. And lets not forget the villains who threatened Earth's Mightiest Heroes throughout this period, among them the Sentinels, The Lion God, The Collector, The Star Stalker,

Klaw, Maximus and his Alpha Primates and of course, the Avengers adversary who turns up like the proverbial bad penny, Ultron.

Locales for action and adventure also became more exotic and engaging during this period. From AVENGERS #93 to AVENGERS #136, the team traveled to Olympus, the Savage Land, Africa, England, Vietnam, Egypt, Limbo, the Hidden Land and into the cold clutches of outer space on more than one occasion.

All good things come to an end, but fortunately with the Avengers an even better thing awaits with each new beginning. What would come next arrived with a bouncing blue furball as its hirsute herald...


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