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TGIF: Avengers Classics

The cream of Marvel's creative and editorial crop nail down the best stories of Earth's Mightiest Heroes

By Ben Morse What happens when you get Marvel's greatest to comment on Earth's Mightiest? With the final issue of AVENGERS CLASSIC on stands now and the Avengers playing a major role in "Secret Invasion," that's what we set out to discover as we polled creators and editors on their favorite stories from the annals of Marvel's A-Team. It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
ROGER STERN (former writer of AVENGERS): Picking just one issue of AVENGERS is pretty hard. For me it would be a toss-up between issues #7 and #4 [of AVENGERS v1]. But really, my favorite Avengers story is the one that began in [AVENGERS v1] #1, ran through issue #4, crossed over into FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #25-#26, and then wrapped up in AVENGERS #5-#8. That's really the first complete Avengers story, and it provides the foundation for the entire series.

AXEL ALONSO (Marvel Executive Editor): Hands down: [the] "Avengers vs Defenders War." I remember running to the five-and-dime after school [and] praying some other kid hadn't nabbed the last copy of the latest chapter. It took me months to finally locate the issue where Silver Surfer and the Vision throw down, and I had to trade away a stack of Tarzans to get it. Now that is a crossover. That panel where Hulk and Thor fight each other to an absolute standstill-does it get any better?" TODD NAUCK (artist of AMERICAN DREAM): One of my favorite Avengers stories was back in 1984 when Marvel did the first WEST COAST AVENGERS limited series. I had just gotten into reading comics in 8th grade with SECRET WARS-which was my first exposure to the Avengers. I thought Hawkeye was a cool character. And then to see a comic where he was putting together a new team? I was flipping out! Probably one of my first "fanboy" moments. That series was pretty much about the team coming together-with Mockingbird, Iron Man, Tigra and Wonder Man-but I was excited to see the regular series kick off soon after. And then when the Thing joined a few issues into the regular series that was a cool book to my 14 year old eyes.

MARC GUGGENHEIM (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN): AVENGERS ANNUAL #10. Surprising, emotional, and our heroes have the feet of clay that is a Marvel trademark. Plus, you've got the X-Men and amazing Michael Golden art. An instant classic. JEPH LOEB (writer of HULK, former writer of AVENGERS): AVENGERS v1 #93, "Journey to the Center of An Android." Roy Thomas. Neal Adams. Just perfect. Ant-Man goes inside the Vision to fix him. Beautifully drawn. Just Neal at his best. I actually have a page from it. Not a great page, but a page nonetheless. So freakin' cool. Arghh! I'm sorry you asked 'cause now I gotta go read it again and I have work to do! MIKE CAREY (writer of X-MEN: LEGACY): AVENGERS v1 #60, which had the wedding of Wasp and Yellowjacket. I mean, here's this guy who claims to have killed Goliath, and Goliath's fiancée is cozying up to him??? Okay, we all know the explanation now, but it was a very cool story and "Rascally" Roy Thomas really ramped up the tension. Plus, I think this may have been the first story where Henry Pym showed how mentally unstable he was, which was a really radical and interesting development.

WALT SIMONSON (former writer of AVENGERS and THOR): Heck, I've been around a long time. My favorite Avengers issue is probably AVENGERS v1 #4, the return of Captain America, just because the actual event was so cool. The comic had a brand new combination of characters, something everybody likes to see-crossovers of a sort before they even had a name-and it had a sense of history, resurrecting an important character from the past. And that had a genuine lasting impact on the Marvel Universe. My favorite of the issues I wrote is AVENGERS v1 #298-Jarvis the last Avenger. Maybe I should have called it "Jarvis Fights Alone!" I thought that was a fun story and unlike any Avengers story that had gone before. And I loved writing Jarvis and his Mom. BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel editor): The first appearance of the Vision, in AVENGERS v1 #57, was truly chilling. And the last page of that story is a great example of the evolution of modern storytelling. Also, while it might not be my favorite, the "Proctor Saga" by Bob Harras and Steve Epting was an unpredictable and underrated run. And if you're ever in the mood to hunker down with some AVENGERS back issues, you can't go wrong with the runs by John Byrne and George Perez-classic stuff!

CHRISTOS GAGE (co-writer of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE): "Under Siege!" Roger Stern! John Buscema! Tom Palmer! The Masters of Evil seize Avengers Mansion! Hercules beaten into a coma! Cap vs Zemo! It's gold, Jerry, gold! GREG HORN (cover artist of MS. MARVEL): It's tough to pick just one great Avengers story, man! The late '70s were awesome for The Earth's Mightiest Heroes! There was the "These who Lay Dying" issue-AVENGERS v1 #177-where Korvac kills all the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Then there was the whole Count Nefaria storyline where he steals the powers of Lethal Legion, and then the Vision defeats him by falling on him from five miles up! RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor) There've been so many great Avengers stories throughout the decades, it is really tough choosing a favorite. But if I was forced to... I'd pick the two-part story written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by John Buscema from AVENGERS v1 #49 and #50. It was about Hercules returning to Olympus to discover that it was deserted and the demigod Typhon had been able to set up some kind of mystical barrier to prevent the gods' return. I was just blown away by the pageantry of John's penciling-and inking. His version of the realm of the gods was

different than [Jack] Kirby's but no less mind-blowing. And Hercules' fight with Typhon to save the Olympians goes down as one of the greats in Marvel history. All that and some crazy doings with Magneto and you had the recipe for a classic. If there are two issues I'd want to read over and over more than any others, those are the two. DAVID MICHELINIE (former writer of AVENGERS): Don't know if I actually have a favorite Avengers story. But if I were to recommend one, it would be issue #4 of the original series. If nothing else, by virtue of resurrecting Steve Rogers/Captain America into contemporary continuity, it genuinely deserves the often overused label, "classic." BOB GALE (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN): What we have with The Avengers is an embarrassment of riches! I guess I'd have to single out AVENGERS v1#16, "The Old Order Changeth," due to both its historic significance and how it absolutely blew me away when I read it back in high school. Not only did Stan Lee put the most visible members of the Avengers-Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man, Wasp-on hiatus, he replaced them with reformed villains, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. I don't think anyone had ever seen anything like this done before. The idea that super villains could reform was one of those perfect character-based ideas that DC would never have had the guts to try.

PETER DAVID (writer of X-FACTOR): "Even an Android Can Cry." Roy Thomas at his best, and the story that established the Vision as a multifaceted character like none seen before. BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (writer of NEW AVENGERS and MIGHTY AVENGERS): AVENGERS ANNUAL #10. Michael Golden's greatest moment on paper. A fantastic story. TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor): The entirety of the Jim Shooter/George Perez/John Byrne run [on AVENGERS v1] is worthy of consideration, but especially... #161-#162-Ultron mentally regresses Hank Pym back to his Ant-Man persona, in which guise he beats the heck out of the Avengers while Ultron makes off with the Wasp, intending to download her mental patterns into his robotic bride-to-be, Jocasta. #164-#166-Count Nefaria siphons off the powers of Whirlwind, Living Laser and Power Man, becoming a sort of super-man in the process, and tears his way through the

Avengers line-up...until Thor appears! #167-#177-"The Korvac Saga," detailing the rise to power of Michael, the mysterious Enemy. This one ends kind of abruptly, and without any sort of decent follow-up in the next issue, but it's crackerjack storytelling up to that point! It always seems like bad form to nominate a story that you worked on, but AVENGERS v3 #19-#22, "Ultron Unlimited" by Kurt Busiek and George Perez was pretty tremendous, as was AVENGERS FOREVER by Kurt and Carlos Pacheco.
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Version 1 fanatics here.