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!
|AVENGERS #82 cover by Jim Cheung|
Over the course of their long history as a heroic team, the Avengers have found themselves at odds with many other groups avowing themselves on the side of the angels. After a dark moment for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, they learned of a new conglomeration of costumed characters who laid claim to the legendary name of the Invaders, World War II’s greatest champions, in AVENGERS #82-84 and NEW INVADERS #0. Suffice to say, Captain America, a founding member of the original Invaders, didn’t seem too thrilled about the idea.
It began in AVENGERS #82 with a funeral. Captain America, Giant-Man, Hawkeye, Iron Man, The Wasp and She-Hulk bowed their heads in honor of the fallen civilian women who they’d recently awarded the status of Honorary Avenger, but the new female Captain Britain had curt words for what she saw as the heroes’ hypocrisy. To make matters worse, the wounded Hawkeye centered his aim on The Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, and made his play for her affections, all behind the back of her ex-husband, Hank Pym, aka Giant-Man.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Middle East, John Walker, the former USAgent, searched for and found a true “mystery man” of the Golden Age: The Blazing Skull. Taking him away from the desert bandits who held him for years, Walker introduced the seemingly ageless Skull to his new companion, Union Jack, and announced not only that he’d appropriated the name of “Captain America,” but also formed a new Invaders.
|AVENGERS #83 cover by Scott Kolins|
AVENGERS #83 escalated not only the physical relationship between Hawkeye and The Wasp, but the first mission of the 21st century Invaders. Walker, along with The Blazing Skull, Union Jack, Spitfire and a Lady Torch, arrived at a lonely spot on the ocean where an oil tanker found itself under attack by an Atlantean assault force. As it turned out, Namor the Sub-Mariner needed help routing the navy of the Middle Eastern country of Mazikhandar and the Invaders pitched in. Later, Walker asked Namor to join with the Invaders in overthrowing the tyrannical government of the country; Namor would stop Mazikhander from sinking oil tankers in Atlantean waters and the U.S. would get the oil.
Back at Avengers Mansion, government liaison to the Avengers Henry Peter Gyrich discovered that the new Invaders formed at the direction of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Dell Rusk—aka The Red Skull. So, a showdown between the two teams became unavoidable and the Avengers steeled themselves for the coming clash.
Captain America placed aside his anger at Hawkeye and the Wasp’s tryst to prepare the team for battle in AVENGERS #84. He knew that Namor’s involvement made the entire situation that much more dangerous, despite the two men fighting side-by-side in the wartime Invaders. Once in Mazikhander, the Avengers found the small country already in the middle of an invasion by Walker and his new partners and hurriedly inserted themselves into the tense scene. A pitched battle broke out between Avengers and Invaders as Cap headed straight for the out-of-control Walker while Iron Man, Wasp and the others faced off against the new female Torch and The Blazing Skull. While the fight progressed, Namor approached the Mazikhandarian capitol building and placed his hand-picked successor on the throne in place of the dictator who’d been spreading terror across the ocean.
|AVENGERS #84 cover by Scott Kolins|
Outside, Cap slapped Walker in the face with the news that he’d been set up by none other than The Red Skull himself, but the die had already been cast and Namor’s new monarch surprised all by whipping out a pistol and shooting the former ruler dead.
The story concluded in NEW INVADERS #0, as Captain America confronted his old partner and friend Namor over the bad situation. Into the picture came another World War II hero, in the form of The Thin Man. It seemed he’d been directing Walker the entire time and once in Mazikhandar attempted to incapacitate Cap and the other Avengers to force them into retreat. Angry that the new ruler would presume to murder the former, Thin Man hoped to straighten everything out and pave the way for the ongoing mission of the new Invaders. What he got amounted to a beat-down from Iron Man and a stern warning from Captain America.
At tale’s end, the little country of Mazikhandar became an Atlantean protectorate, with Namor’s advisor to watch over them, and the world received a new force for justice: the new Invaders.