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!
Trust: it’s what every team needs to work together and succeed. It’s something the Avengers fell a bit short of in NEW AVENGERS #32-37 and struggled mightily to get back. Go easy on them, though, it didn’t clock in as the best of times for the heroes.
After the Civil War and leading into the Secret Invasion, “The Trust” represented a key pivot point for the team, made even more eventful by an attack by The Hood. Parker Robbins, that dastardly criminal who sported a mysterious cloak stolen from a demon, came on like gangbusters and with his horde of horrors gave the Avengers a run for their money. In fact, he’s at it again currently, in the pages of AVENGERS and AVENGERS ACADEMY.
As NEW AVENGERS #32 opened, a ponderous weight rested upon the heroes’ shoulders: the discovery of a Skrull in their midst. Elektra, once lover to Daredevil, turned out to be one of the shape-changing aliens and before they knew it, the New Avengers realized they may be on the verge of a Skrull invasion. And worse yet, any one of them could be a Skrull. But who?
Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Doctor Strange, Spider-Woman, Ronin and Iron Fist all looked at each other and pondered the possibilities. Before the hardest accusations could fly, the plane they used to transport Elektra-Skrull’s body crashed violently and Spider-Woman, seemingly one of their own, spirited away the corpse.
The Hood then reared his ugly head in NEW AVENGERS #33, as trust flew out the window and the Avengers eyed each other with growing suspicion—and in the case of Luke Cage and Spider-Man, a violent outburst. Robbins asserted his role as criminal leader when he reminded The Owl that trying to sell weaponry, like, say, the Deathlok cyborg, amounted to a big no-no as far
as he’s concerned. The Hood taught a lesson to the other criminals that day but for his pains found that a disgruntled and mistrusting Wolverine on the run from the Avengers mess made for a vicious opponent. Alas, the demonic criminal made good his escape, and with the Deathlok.
Sadly, the question of trust not only hung over the New Avengers, it nearly crushed them. NEW AVENGERS #34 presented the sorry scene of a gathering of champions with one question on their minds: Who’s a Skrull? Doctor Strange offered a solution to their dilemma in the form of a spell that would reveal their true, inner selves for all to see. Once cast, the incantation provided the heroes with a measure of calm, and yes, trust, as it proved that all present hid no alien spy beneath their forms. Even a returned Wolverine seemed satisfied.
Now, the New Avengers could spring into action to stop The Hood’s proposed attack on their Mighty counterparts. But, once at Avengers Tower, the team uncovered no Hood or Deathlok, but a sinister swarm of symbiotes…
NEW AVENGERS #35 painted a putrid picture of The Hood’s idea of trust. Robbins convened a convention of criminals and told them of his ideas: the heroes beat on the crooks and the crooks lose, so why not organize under him and reap the benefits of such an assemblage? To prove himself to the villains, The Hood chose the scarred Jigsaw as an example. The Punisher’s nemesis had recently run afoul of Tigra and so Robbins sought out the hairy heroine and savagely attacked her—with Jigsaw filming the event, of course. Impressed, the bad guys agreed that they loved what they saw of The Hood’s methods. And to sweeten the deal, he also sent Deathlok out to knock over a fattened bank and steal its millions of dollars for his mob.
After routing the symbiotes, the heroes took their grievances straight to The Hood in NEW AVENGERS #36 and #37. Once Wolverine confronted Spider-Woman about her betrayal, he tracked the bank job to Parker Robbins’ door and gathered his team to invade the newly-formed villain-apalooza. The Avengers, along with just about every other of Earth’s heroes, hit The Hood and hit him hard, but a clever crook figured something didn’t smell quite right and doped out Doctor Strange’s illusion. Didn’t matter, though, because a small band of New Avengers in the hand can be worth several other teams of Avengers in the bush; The Hood’s mob found their butts beat and Robbins disappeared.
The final battle came about in NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #2, and the matter of trust settled—for the moment. Eager for his revenge, The Hood broke his boys and girls out of incarceration and discovered the location of the Avengers’ headquarters at Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. The criminals swarmed the old house and a knock-down drag-out battle royale ensued. The New Avengers fought without the aid of Strange, whose weaknesses forced him to retire to his private quarters. But just as the tide turned against the heroes and for the villains, the Master of the Mystical Arts appeared and sent everyone present tumbling with a nasty spell. The magical attack proved the key to win the battle for good but, alas, The Hood once again made his escape, and this time with all the information he believed he needed to ultimately win.
But what of trust? Jessica Jones, mother of Luke Cage’s child, arrived at Avengers Tower and asked to be admitted. Seems she wanted to register officially and put her life of hiding and mistrust aside…