Who is to say what the best Avengers stories of all time are? Me, because I'm writing the article. Ok, not really This was a fan built list by the life-long comic book readers here at the Outhouse. See what they had to say!
The Avengers DVD came out yesterday, and, in honor the event, we've had a mini-Avengers week going on here at the Outhouse. Monday, we started off with some fun facts in the Avengers: Did You Know? column. Tuesday, release day, we offered up some of The Best Avengers Covers of All Time, something quick and easy to absorb before running out to buy the DVD. Today we dive a bit deeper, looking at the the ten best Avengers stories. The list and order are always debatable, but chances are you can't go wrong trying out the trades based on these stories when you head out to the comic book store today. If you want more of the amazing action and story from the Avengers movie, look no further than its origins in comic books:
#10 - AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED
It was the beginning of a new direction for The Avengers as a comic. This was seen as a dividing line by many fans, a new era, for better or for worse. Many fans of classic Avengers stories will say the latter, but, for Marvel, it brought new Avengers fans into a long running series that had seen little recent recent growth. Bendis tore apart the team in 'Avengers Disassembled' and relaunched the franchise at the end of this arc, creating an Avengers team built out of fan favorites like Spider-man and Wolverine, in addition to some of the more familiar members.
If you find yourself a fan of Bendis' storytelling and the direction of the Avengers here, then you may know which side of the era to further explore. Many of the recommendations here will fall prior to the 'modern era' of Avengers books, however.
#9 - THE NEFARIA PROTOCOLS
The Avengers face off against Count Nefaria and some of their own teammates whom he has taken control of in this story. Nefaria proves more than a match for the Avengers one-on-one, and they must team up with the Thunderbolts to bring him down.
#8 - THE ULTIMATES
It's hard to make a list of all-time great Avengers stories without offering some recognition to the alternate universe take on Avengers that created new fans, started the momentum that caused Marvel to inject new blood into the regular universe Avengers books, and ultimately brought us an Avengers movie. It's also the world where you'll find the familiar 'Sam Jackson' Nick Fury.
The Ultimates happened when Marvel handed the reigns to Mark Millar to create an Avengers style team in marvel's new 'Ultimate' univserse, one with less heroes running around and a harder edged, more "realistic" approach to heroes, politics and battle. Though different in a lot of ways, you'll see some very similar concepts to the Avengers movie in story and characters here. With Bryan Hitch's amazing art, the cinematic feel offers some amazing moments you can easily picture in a Hollywood blockbuster. If you decide to try this tale out and enjoy it, Ultimates 2 is a great follow up by the same team.
#7 - THE SERPENT CROWN
"Power corrupts" is the theme of this epic story as the Squadron Supreme, an evil artifact and hated corporation, converge in this adventure. Time travel, Kang, Immortus and more mix it up in this off-beat tale.
#6 - THE KANG DYNASTY
The Kang Dynasty is the epic conclusion to Kurt Busiek's unmatched run on Avengers and finally lets readers find out what happens when the villain wins in his attempt to conquer the world. Kang the Conqueror definitely lives up to his name in this saga. Some fans have warned that the story drags in places, but reads better in one sitting vs. waiting issue to issue. When the action kicks in, however, it moves like no other.
#5 - AVENGERS FOREVER
Although this story may be a bit more continuity heavy than most on this list, it's still highly recommended by Avengers fans. Perhaps it's worth putting off until you've read several Avengers stories and have a better understanding of the Avengers' history throughout their long comic run. The story was conceived as a way to clean up continuity with the team and touches on several periods of the Avengers through time as they do battle with Immortus. What started as an ambitious clean-up project turned into a loving tribute by the end. If you decide to dive into this book regardless, just make sure to have the internet handy to look up character details that don't fit with what you already know.
#4 - ULTRON UNLIMITED
This was one of the highlights of comic legends Kurt Busiek's and George Perez's run on Avengers, not to mention it features a major villain bound to appear sooner rather than later in upcoming Avenger movies. Ultron kidnaps the Avengers, viewing them as family, with hopes to use their brain patterns to create Ultron bretheren. Entire cities are leveled as the Avengers attempt to take down this Adamantium-plated, genius robot.
#3 - KORVAC SAGA
Korvac, a cyborg from the future, travels back in time with the hope of restoring order to the universe. He winds up with the 20th century and hides himself as an ordinary, everyday person. The Guardians of the Galaxy, a name you may have heard dropped as one of the next Marvel movie projects being worked on, pursue him and join the Avengers before confronting him and engaging in an epic battle where many of the Avengers see utter defeat. Action packed, but also philisophical, the Korvac Saga was a huge project to tackle and well worth the read.
#2 - KREE/SKRULL WAR
When Earth is caught in the crossfire between the intergallactic war between the Kree and the Skrulls, the Avengers have to get involved. You know how lots of gimmicks got their start with something cool, and then someone said 'let's do that again,' but can never really duplicate the magic of the original? This is that original, multi-part, epic event. Written by Roy Thomas with art from Sal Buscema, John Buscema, and Neal Adams, you can't go wrong with this one.
#1 - UNDER SIEGE
It's hard to decide what order to put lists like this in sometimes, but when a story seems to be on every reader's list as a favorite story, it's hard to deny it the number one spot. Under Siege was that comic, listed on nearly every reader's list as a favorite Avengers story. It's status as number one on an indivual's list is debatable, but its must-read status is not. The comic featured the deadliest assemblage of the Masters of Evil yet, led by Baron Zemo (#2). They invaded and destroyed Avengers Mansion, tortured the beloved butler Jarvis, and gave Hercules the worst beating of his immortal life. But, like Stark says in the movie, they may not stop every evil deed, but you can be damn sure they'll avenge them, and when the avenging starts, we get a smackdown that’s not just epic, but personal.
There were several great Avengers stories that didn't quite make the list: Avengers vs. JLA, Dark Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes II, Secret Invasion, Operation Galactic Storm and more. If you want to see all the discussion prior to the article, you can take a look at the original ideas tossed about by posters in the Outhouse Forums.