Avengers Fridays

Avengers Fridays: The Old Order Changeth #6

Mad gods, golden age speedsters and a one-time foe back from the dead all spell trouble for Earth's Mightiest Heroes!

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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!

 

Heads still clearing from the conflagration surrounding the sinister Serpent Crown and the demonic designs of the Brand Corporation, the Avengers once again sequestered themselves for a time-honored tradition: choosing a new team!

AVENGERS (1963) #151
AVENGERS #151-180 represents the last line-up of Earth's Mightiest Heroes to enjoy the freedom of adventure sans outside interference and scrutiny. This era brought them their fair share of danger and disaster, sure, but once the dust cleared, the Avengers would never truly be the same fun-loving, autonomous group ever again.

The new team-Captain America, Iron Man, the Beast, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, the Wasp and Yellowjacket-first faced front in AVENGERS #151, but without a certain God of Thunder amongst their ranks. With much to ponder thanks to Moondragon's nagging, Thor flew off and left his fellow heroes to fend for themselves-until his return in AVENGERS #159, of course.

In the Thunder God's absence, these heroes played host to an eclectic collection of honorary and reserve members, the likes of which had never graced the pages of AVENGERS before. Among them one could witness the wondrous Whizzer, hero of World War II; the fully-loaded Two-Gun Kid, time-lost western star; and the Guardians of the Galaxy, adventurers from the far future. And, yes, Wonder Man.

The Avengers' first case with their new membership came in the form of the once-dead, now-zombified Wonder Man. The evil Black Talon, voodoo master supreme, controlled Simon Williams and commanded him to attack the team, but they rallied their might and won Wonder Man his freedom. His road to recovery seemed paved with rocks thereafter but

AVENGERS (1963) #160
eventually he grew into his new role as a hero and, eventually, an Avenger.

Family ties also played a role in this era, with The Whizzer claiming to be The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's father, making the radioactive Nuklo from GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #1 something of a brother. Wonder Man's own brother, The Grim Reaper, also dropped in for a visit. In fact, AVENGERS #160 told the strange tale of how Simon Williams' brain patterns allegedly found a home in the Vision's noggin, perhaps making truer "brothers" out of Wonder Man and the sensational synthezoid.

Other challenges for the Avengers reads like a who's-who of villainy: Doctor Doom, the Atlantean barbarian Attuma, Graviton, the Lethal Legion, Count Nefaria, Bloodhawk and The Manipulator. Whew! On top of all that, perennial Avengers baddie Ultron also gave the group another go-round but thankfully, and for once, bad penny Kang failed to show his ugly visage around the mansion.

One of the most incredible scenes of sorrow could be found in AVENGERS #157, wherein our heroes met an amazing being: the animated stone corpse of The Black Knight. Furious for being left behind after the Avengers-Defenders War, the rocky knight railed at the Avengers' seeming indifference to its plight and ended its weird existence by breaking itself to bits against the dense form of the Vision.

AVENGERS (1963) #177
But it practically goes without saying that the greatest threat these particular Avengers faced went by the name of Korvac. Once a cold cyborg, Michael Korvac entered the heroes' lives as a god, and a mad one at that. Possessed of the Power Cosmic, Korvac battled the Avengers to the brink of death in AVENGERS #177 and then over it. He committed a kind of suicide following his heinous actions and with his dying breath brought Earth's champions back to precious life.

Lest you think that the Avengers' eyes fell not upon the faces of any friends, hear now of guest-stars like The Black Panther, The Black Widow and her Champions, future-Avenger Ms. Marvel and the incredible female android Jocasta. No, as trying a time as this membership experienced, it did not play out as tragedy alone. The story of the Avengers always stood as one of success and victory, meeting danger and mystery head on and overcome obstacles and annoyances...

...until they met National Security Council special agent Henry Peter Gyrich. Then, they had something to really worry about.

 

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