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!
1989 stood as a pretty good year for Hawkeye: he led his own team of heroes in the pages of AVENGERS WEST COAST, enjoyed a series of adventures on his own in SOLO AVENGERS and found time to guest-star in the main AVENGERS book to boot—not too shabby for a former criminal with no super powers!
These days, the amazing archer’s starring in the HAWKEYE: BLIND SPOT limited series and still wowing them around the Marvel Universe, but for an incredibly strange moment in 1989 he found himself facing down a gigantic cosmic being almost completely by himself. They called it the Super-Nova Saga…
As AVENGERS #301 opened, the team lined up with what went down in the annals of Avengers history as one of their strangest memberships ever: Captain America, Thor, Mister Fantastic, The Invisible Woman and Gilgamesh, also known as the Forgotten One. So, what happened when a leader the caliber of Cap ended up with a big-brain like Reed Richards, who’d led the Fantastic Four for years, on the same team? Well, ruffled feathers, to put it mildly. Not only did the Avengers still fight world-threatening menaces, they also struggled with king-sized egos.
While towing the massive Hydrobase—officially rechristened Avengers Island—into New York Harbor, the team witnessed their old chum Starfox fall to Earth. The Titan told of a new threat facing the planet, that of Super-Nova, the last survivor of the planet Xandar, and an incredibly powerful being who thirsted for vengeance against the woman who destroyed his world: Nebula. Now, that wily female space-brigand wouldn’t easily be found, seeing as how at that time she’d become lost in the time-stream, but could you tell Super-Nova that? That would be a big “no.” To top it all off, he’d even defeated Firelord, former herald of the world-devouring Galactus.
Heading into space to intercept the entity who possessed the combined power of the entire Nova Corps, the Avengers fell prey to an attack by hideous brain leeches in Super-Nova’s space vessel. Somehow, they managed to get through that one and rescue the space-spanning Firelord, but the team then finally met Super-Nova face-to-face and the big guy blew up his ship with the Avengers still inside. Good thing, too, because Captain America had reached just about his limit with Reed’s taking charge of everything.
So, how did Hawkeye come into the picture, you ask? Well, he and the rest of West Coast Avengers rushed to Chicago in AVENGERS #302 to confront Super-Nova, who’d landed on Earth after destroying the other Avengers in space. But, newbie hero Quasar had first crack at the towering titan and, unfortunately, had his quantum-charged butt handed to him. Time for the West Coast team to step up to the plate. First up to bat: Wonder Man. Well, that didn’t go so well…
Hawkeye, ever the headstrong hero, got himself picked up—literally—by Super-Nova and tried to bluff his way out of being crushed like a bug. The archer barely knew anything about Nebula and had no idea where she lurked, but Super-Nova would have none of it and prepared himself to slice and dice the Earth to claim his revenge for Xandar. Oh, and the Avengers also survived the destruction of the space vessel and rocketed back to Earth to, hopefully, save both Hawkeye’s dignity and the entire planet.
AVENGERS #303 popped the popular question, “How many characters can you cram into one issue?” Answer: tons of them! The wrap-up to the Super-Nova Saga featured not only two whole teams of Avengers, but also Firelord, Quasar and the Fantastic Four. Alas, their combined might proved ineffectual against the fury of Super-Nova and the world teetered on the brink of utter destruction unless the erstwhile Nebula showed her wicked-yet-beautiful face and took her lumps. While the heroes valiantly kept the Last Son of Xandar busy, Mr. Fantastic scooted back to FF headquarters for a device that he hoped would solve everything: Doctor Doom’s time machine.
Presenting Super-Nova with the amazing apparatus, Reed explained where Nebula could possibly be found and sent the giant on his way through the time-stream. Problem solved, Earth saved, score one for the Avengers.On the sidelines, Captain America, unhappy with not being let in on the plan, fumed. And life continued for the Avengers…