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Avengers Fridays

Avengers Fridays: The Old Order Changeth #5

A beast, a beauty and a baldy all vie for spots among Earth's 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!


Say it ain't so! An X-Man passionately sought membership in the Avengers? Long before Wolverine flashed his claws in service to the famous team, the bouncing Beast joined up for a wild ride through Avengers history with a pair of fetching female newbies at his side!

AVENGERS #137-150 serves as a fascinating example of the often erratic yet energetic lineups of the team. After founding members Thor and Iron Man reassembled to lead the Avengers once more, they sought out new heroes to bolster their ranks and got a bit more than they'd bargained for in return.

It all began in AVENGERS #137, as TV screens quaked to the announcement that the Avengers were holding a recruiting drive in the wake of The Scarlet Witch and Vision's honeymoon and departures of The Black Panther, Mantis, Quicksilver, Captain America and The Black Widow. Fortunately for the team, The Wasp and hubbie Hank Pym-then adventuring as Yellowjacket-decided to return to active duty. In an all-too-common snit, Hawkeye sauntered off to the past via Doctor Doom's time machine to seek out the Black Knight in the 12th Century.

And then the Beast bounced into the Avengers' colorfully costumed lives. Oh, he'd met the team before, but on a break from the X-Men he missed super heroing alongside a group, and so he haunted the Avengers' doorstep. His trial by fire flared up immediately: fighting alongside fellow probationary Avenger Moondragon, Beast bounded into battle against The

Stranger, and despite that cosmic being's true identity being revealed as the cretinous Toad, the furry X-Man won his spurs with grace and humor.

The aforementioned Moondragon came to the team an enigma; cold, almost cruel, she and her bald pate did not suffer fools lightly-especially an amorous Iron Man in AVENGERS #139-but her powerful telekinetic abilities earned her respect among the team and by the end of this lineups' tenure she'd gained full membership.

This Avengers membership saw action through four main struggles. First came the aforementioned Toad's attack, which spun off into a whirling dervish of a skirmish between Yellowjacket and his longtime foe, Whirlwind. As they clashed, Janet Van Dyne, the winsome Wasp, lay in a hospital bed from injuries taken during the Toad/Stranger debacle. This in turn led to Hank Pym's growing out of control in AVENGERS #140 and his own subsequent brush with death.

Meanwhile, Captain America returned to the fold and with him came one of the Avengers' most thrilling challenges: the Squadron Supreme. Mighty heroes from another Earth, their rivalry with the Avengers spread over several issues and involved both the Brand and Roxxon Corporations. When the team infiltrated the Brand headquarters, former model Patsy

Walker, a stowaway on the adventure, became the furious feline heroine known as Hellcat in AVENGERS #144. While unsure of herself at first, Patsy proved her mettle and finally took her place as an Avenger, claws and all.

While the battle raged at the Brand building, Hawkeye's sojourn into centuries past turned up the Avengers' own proverbial bad penny himself: Kang the Conqueror. That's right, the villain who'd fought almost every incarnation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes entered into conflict with his enemies once again, but this time with the Wild West's classic gunslingin' heroes to also oppose him. By the end of AVENGERS #143, Kang wound up destroyed and the present-day gained a new-old hero in The Two-Gun Kid.

AVENGERS #145-146 brought a brief interlude in the form of The Assassin; hired to kill the team, the mercenary turned out to be a woman and was accidentally dispatched by her own employers. Good thing, too, because her trouble-making interfered with Doctor Don Blake's attempt to save the life of Captain America.

The Brand-Roxxon case led to the Avengers' contact with the evil, subversive Serpent Crown in AVENGERS #147 and its subjugation of the Squadron Supreme and Brand Corporation. One of the most unfortunate outcomes of this adventure came in the form of Thor's resignation from the team at a suggestion from Moondragon that he was "slumming" by rubbing elbows with mere mortal heroes. This coupled with Hawkeye's own latest bout of quitting meant that by the time the team mulled over their history in the landmark AVENGERS #150, it became more than obvious that a new team must be forged for the good of all.


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