The Avengers are Marvel’s premiere superhero team. With heavy hitters like Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Wasp, and Giant-Man forming the original core of the team and more recent add-ins like Spider-Man and Wolverine, the Avengers has always been the Who’s Who of the Marvel Universe (this side of the X-Men).
I grew up loving the Avengers and the Avengers (as a kid) were much more accessible than the X-Men which in the ’80s was much edgier. Despite loving the Avengers, I never really like the main Avengers (and I must admit that I’ve always been a supporting character guy…love the underdog characters).
Many consider Captain America the premiere Avenger that embodies all the spirit of the team…who cares about Captain America however when you have such a rich team of supporting characters that often house more firepower. Some of these characters I lump together as either a team or an attitude.
Here are my top 10 Avengers:
1) Jack of Hearts
Jack of Hearts first appeared in Marvel’s magazine Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #22 (March 1976). He joined the Avengers in Busiek’s Avengers. Jack was always a character that never was understood. He was trained by Iron Man in the use of his powers (in Iron Man’s comic) and sparred with the Hulk, Rom, and Spider-Man. Jack even had his own limited series in the ’80s which revealed he was half alien. Busiek tried to give Jack dimension and honed his powers a bit, but in the end, Jack was just too powerful and ended up blowing up most of the Avengers in Avengers Disassembled.
Jocasta first appeared in Avengers (1) #162 (August 1997). She was created by Ultron and had the mind of Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp). She appeared off and on in the Avengers but wasn’t considered a “real” Avenger and it was commonly the arc of her character before being destroyed by Ultron’s programming. The character later resurfaced and rejoined the Avengers as an official member, but like Jack, she’s never been fully explored.
The flip side to Jocasta is Vision who was fully fleshed out. Vision first appeared in Avengers (1) #57 (October 1968) as a creation of Ultron as well. The android possessed feelings of love and strong emotions. He fell in love with Scarlet Witch (whose treatment by writers has kicked her out of the top ten list). Vision’s storyline involving his takeover of the world’s computers was one of my first Avengers books and creates a soft spot for the character which recently has been underused.
Based on classic mythology Marvel’s version of Hercules first appeared in Journey into Mystery Annual #1 in 1965. He joined the Avengers for long stints but also had solo adventures. Hercules was a combination of Hulk and Thor. Not quite bright and often sexist, Hercules loved life and was just fun. I’d always pick him for my “strong man” if you had to fill the obligatory team role.
Mantis first appeared in Avengers (1) #112 (June 1973) with one of the most confusing origins (rivaling Spider-Woman’s). The character’s short run in the Avengers led her discover that she was Celestial Madonna and went off into space. Her creator Steve Englehart slyly slipped her into DC, Eclipse, and Image comics under different names before returning to Marvel and joining the Guardians of the Galaxy for a short period of time. I’d love Mantis to really get “reinserted” into the Marvel Universe since she was essentially ninja Psylocke before Psylocke.
I put the Eternal Sersi and the Eternal raised Moondragon in the same category. Sersi first appeared in Eternals (1) #3 (September 1976) as the “party Eternal”. She liked to have fun but she was always calm and almost downright cold. Her Eternal powers were rather undefined and her stint on the Avengers was during a low point in the series. Sersi however is downright cheery when compared to Moondragon who I primarily think of as a Defender, Infinity Watch member, or Guardian of the Galaxy. Moondragon first appeared as Madame MacEvil in Iron Man (1) #54 (January 1973). Despite barely being an Avenger I liked how no one on the team really liked the ego-driven character. Moondragon was a fun character to be proven wrong, and she was…a lot (plus her power must have been immense to keep that costume on).
7) Ms. Marvel (aka Captain Marvel)
Ms. Marvel had a really troubling history. I actually prefer the old ’70s Carol Danvers to the emotional wreck that was formed through her second stint as an Avenger. Ms. Marvel first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968) with Captain Mar-vell and later gained her own powers in Ms. Marvel. She lost her powers, regained her powers as Binary (my favorite incarnation), became Warbird, before returning to Ms. Marvel, and finally Captain Marvel. The worst thing ever done to Carol is essentially having her raped, give birth to a child who grows up to be her rapist, and then leaves to live with him in the future. The Avengers are all ok with it. This is often cited as one of the worst storyline for women in comics…thankfully Rogue showed up and revised this history.
8) Wonder Man & Beast
This is the perfect duo to me. Wonder Man first appeared in Avengers (1) #9 (October 1964) and promptly died. Revised in the ’70s and donning some of the worst costumes ever, the sunglass wearing Wonder Man found himself often teamed with former X-Man Beast. I love Beast, who first appeared in X-Men (1) #1 (September 1963), as an Avengers and I always like how he toed the line for years with his associations between the teams. Marvel even put out a mini-series called The Avengers Two which featured a reteaming of Beast and Wonder Man…I’d love to see a lighter, fun Beast reteam with Wonder Man who could use a revamping as well.
9) Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)
The “other” Captain Marvel is my CaptainMarvel. Captain Marvel was also part of my “first Avengers team”. Often plagued with doubt about her abilities, Captain Marvel was probably a bit out of date when she first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 (1982) when she first appeared, but I loved her original look and felt she was one of the better and more complex Avengers in a really weird team line-up. With the return of Carol Danvers and multiple Captain Marvels, Monica got sidelined and was forced to change her name multiple times…not allowing her to really establish a solid character in the Marvel Universe.
10) Black Knight
Black Knight is a title. There have been multiple Black Knights in the Marvel Universe but the hero Black Knight is Dane Whitman who first appeared in Avengers (1) #47 (December 1967). This Black Knight wields the Ebony Blade and flies on the winged horse Aragorn. Dane has done quite a bit of time travelling and even hooked up with Sersi for a time. I always felt that Black Knight would make a good solo series by combining the modern Marvel Universe with trips into the medieval Marvel Universe.
Honorable mentions include: Spider-Woman and Jewel (who I preferred when they were solo), Machine Man (who is also more of a solo act), Firestar & Justice (who I like as New Warriors rather than Avengers, She-Hulk who I like as a member of the Fantastic Four, the Forgotten One (I mean come on his name is perfect for a favorite Avenger), Dr. Druid (another unlikable Avenger), U.S.Agent (the down and dirty Captain America), Two-Gun Kid (my favorite Western hero), and the man who’s been with them through it all…Jarvis.