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!
Special Agent Peter Henry Gyrich of the National Security Council stepped in and smacked the team upside the head with a new, mandatory membership and Earth's Mightiest Heroes marched to a different tune. This sordid saga and its aftermath played out in the pages of AVENGERS #181-210.
The team learned of their new status quo in AVENGERS #181 after having met the irritable Mr. Gyrich some issues previous. Seems he'd become concerned over "security issues" and with the power to revoke the Avengers government clearances, ol' carrot-crew top mandated the team's line-up at seven members and seven members only. When the dust cleared the Avengers stood at Iron Man, Captain America, The Vision, The Scarlet Witch, The Beast, The Wasp and...The Falcon?
Eyebrows shot up at the announcement of the Falcon's inclusion, being a non-Avenger at the time. Hawkeye raised his hackles the most, and once shown the door and his pink slip slunk away grumbling. For his part, Falcon never truly found comfort in his membership and took every opportunity to remind Gyrich that he felt he filled the role of the Avenger's "token" black hero. The avian avenger filled out his forms in AVENGERS #184, but 10 issues later he'd had enough and resigned.
Perhaps no single hero in this line-up suffered more during the era than The Scarlet Witch. Another man claiming to be her and Quicksilver's father arrived in AVENGERS #182, kicking off a long struggle to comprehend her origins, as well as a trip to Wundagore Mountain and demonic possession
For his part, Wanda's android husband The Vision suffered alongside her, unsure of his emotions and plagued by self-doubt. Throughout this time he found often himself in conversation, even a kind of mentorship, with the robotic Jocasta, who in AVENGERS #197 won the team's approval and a nomination for membership.
Gyrich, belly-aching all the way, attempted to curtail what he saw as the Avengers' complete disregard for rules and even put his foot down when the team packed up to leave for Europe to rescue The Scarlet Witch. The ever-resourceful Captain America played an ace up his sleeve and called the one man who Gyrich fell powerless before: the President of the United States. Needless to say, the Avengers won that day.
The government agent did manage to make a few changes that stuck, most importantly the appointment of Wonder Man and Ms. Marvel as first temporary members and then full-fledged Avengers. Ms. Marvel took immediately to the team and its unique camaraderie but in AVENGERS #
What came next stands as one of the Avengers' strangest cases. Within days, Ms. Marvel's pregnancy ran the entire nine-month cycle, and in AVENGERS #200 she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy-who within days
Gyrich had pulled out most of his hair by AVENGERS #189 and instituted a disbanding of the team and Senate hearing to judge the Avengers' future as sanctioned heroes. In the middle of a tempestuous tussle between our heroes and The Grey Gargoyle, the senators ruled in favor of the team and Gyrich's influence slowly ebbed out of their lives.
Villains lined up for their crack at these Avengers: The Absorbing Man and his self-transmutative powers, the fiery Inferno, The Yellow Claw, Pyron the Thermal Man, The Shadow Lord and the ever-looming threat of Ultron; all deadly but in the end all defeated by the Avengers. Other cases failed to fit in neat file folders, such as the team's confrontation with the madman who controlled the giant robot called Red Ronin in AVENGERS #197-199, Jarvis the Butler's battle against The Bruiser in AVENGERS #201 and the mystery of the underground Crawlers in AVENGERS #203.
Without a doubt the most stunning and most challenging example of villainy came in the form of The Taskmaster, who made his debut in AVENGERS #195-196. The wily criminal's training academy for goons and thugs presented the Avengers with a mighty set of problems, but the
By AVENGERS #210, the team still stood as Earth's champions but the stalwart Captain America, veteran of countless Avengers line-ups, declared his right as current Chairman to invoke a certain point in their rulebook. Then, things got really interesting.
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