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!”
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!
Without their long-standing United States charter, the Avengers might’ve crashed and burned—but we’re talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes here, led by none other than Captain America himself. You think they’d just lie down and die? Quite the contrary; the team found a way to make it work and became a bit more worldly for it. The entire story played out in AVENGERS #329-342.
Cap made a few calls after the revoking of the team’s charter and the United Nations stepped in to offer the Avengers a new lease on life. By opening their membership up on a more international level, the UN would assign the Avengers as a special unit of their own peace-keeping force. The group accepted the prized position and sat down to vote on a new line-up.
When the dust cleared, what Captain America called the “primary team” boasted himself, Thor, Sersi, The Vision, Quasar, The Black Widow, and She-
The Sandman, a former villain who’d been pardoned by the President of the United States, stepped forward as a hero-in-training, as did a new figure on the crime-busting scene: Rage. A giant of a man, the street-wise brawler shunned the spotlight but accepted his new role in the hopes of changing the Avengers from within. He also harbored a secret that threatened his membership.
AVENGERS #330 saw the team separated and fighting to escape from the other-dimensional prison, while back on Earth, Rage’s grandmother became the prisoner of Ngh and some terrestrial toughs. The Avengers discovered the demon’s opposite number in the Dimension of Exile and re-merged him with the other being, making him whole once more. They also shut down the Tetrarchs’ reign of terror and booted them back from whence they came in AVENGERS #331.
The new Avengers then celebrated their victory, their new members and their new headquarters with a formal cocktail party in AVENGERS #332—unfortunately, an uninvited guest crashed the soiree: Doctor Doom. Seems Doom coveted the team’s ability to travel from one dimension to the next and desired the power for himself to rescue his long-lost mother. Rage took exception to the Latverian monarch in AVENGERS #333 and hit him in the face with a cupcake, but together the Avengers routed the villain and drove him and his “Doombots” off. Good thing, too; they stood on the brink of a coming invasion of cosmic proportions.
AVENGERS #334-339 told the tale of the Brethren, a galaxy-traveling race of super-beings bent on conquering and decimating worlds. Seemingly escaped from the Collector’s immense starship and led by Thane Ector, they laid waste to Earth. Almost the entire Avengers membership lent a hand during this crisis, and, like so many times before, found themselves separated into smaller groups for different missions.
Ector kidnapped Sersi to make her his lover, but eventually the truth of his race came out: the mysterious and almost-omnipotent Celestials created the Brethren eons ago from the germs and disease of the universe. A revived Collector revealed himself as the true manipulator behind the invasion, Thane Ector and his people merely pawns in his plan. The combined might of the Avengers halted his schemes by advancing their foes down a path to a higher plane.
Rage took center-stage once more in AVENGERS #341, as the bigoted Sons of the Serpent reared their ugly heads once more to sow dissension. Aided by the New Warriors, the Avengers found that a new and more powerful Hate Monger directed the Serpents and in the end Rage’s defiance and determination won the day. Sadly, in AVENGERS #342, the new hero also lost his membership among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Captain America discovered that a 14-year-old boy resided in the humongous frame of the street-level do-gooder and the Avengers’ charter strictly prohibited minors from membership.
The team lost their Rage, but picked up a few new heroes in yet another new era to come.