06 Mar, 2014
by Tom Hairston – Midtown Comics Times Square
Okay, so a lot of you out there might be thinking “I want to start reading the Avengers, but there are so many titles out there, what’s the difference between them? Are they all really Avengers books? Do I have to read them all to know what’s happening?”
Well don’t worry, I’m here to help as I’ve written a breakdown of what each of the “Avengers” titles are currently about, what audience they are aimed at, and of course, answering whether or not it actually is about the Avengers.
What Is It?: In years past the Avengers have grown and shrunk in membership, but usually had a roster between 7 and 11 members. But one night Iron Man and Captain America got together and said “Listen, one of these days the threats are going to grow too large for us, we have to go bigger, we have to be prepared for everything.” So they put together a reserve team of Avengers who would activate when the time was right, and when a pair of aliens who claim they created life in the universe came knocking on Earth’s doorstep, that time was now. So this new giant team has come together to combat several threats of larger scales than ever.
Who Is On The Team?: Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man (recently quit), Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Smasher, Manifold, Cannonball, Sunspot, Captain Universe, Hyperion, Starbrand, Falcon, Shang-Chi, Abyss, Ex Nihilo, Nightmask (I told you it was a huge team)
So Who Is This Book For?: Jonathan Hickman, the writer of the series, loves stories with a weird scientific twist, and everyone who writes the Avengers basically tries to imagine the kind of threats they love but on huge scales, and that’s what we have here. This book focuses on big threats from outer space, threats like rogue planets flying towards ours or a race of beings who created the universe evolving cities on Earth by thousands of years. So if you love imaginative sci-fi and really big adventures then this is for you.
So Are They Really Avengers?: Yes, this is the primary Avengers team.
2. New Avengers
What Is It?: For years now Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, and several other heroes have had an Illuminati that came together to solve problems for the Marvel Universe in secret. This is the story of this team reuniting again to deal with the new threat of parallel universes shifting out of the cosmos and threatening to collide into our own as mysterious and powerful beings try to take advantage of the situation.
Who Is On The Team?: Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Black Bolt, Beast, Black Panther, Namor, and Dr Strange.
So Who Is This Book For?: Remember what I said about the primary Avengers book a moment ago? This is by the same writer so it’s full of the same wild imaginative threats, but adds in some grim themes about what it means to do what must be done, along with a dash of back stabbing and treachery. If you want not only crazy super science (and magic) along with questions about “How far would you go to save the Earth” then this is for you. This book also mainly focuses on the Black Panther, so if you wanted to see a book staring him then this is a great title for that.
So Are They Really Avengers?: No, although the idea of “the Illuminati” came about in Brian Michael Bendis’s New Avengers series back in the early 2000s and this book carries on that name in honor of it.
What Is It?: The newest of the Avengers books, think of this series as “Avengers Solo” in a way. Earlier I talked about how Hickman’s Avenger’s team features dozens of characters, many of whom are new to the team, and with that many characters we haven’t gotten a lot of time to meet all of them. Enter Avengers World, a book that focuses on the members of the team on solo missions and shows their backstories.
Who Is On The Team?: It’s the same lineup in the regular “Avengers” book, just now you’re only seeing one or a handful of them at a time.
So Who Is This Book For?: This is a book for people who really like character driven titles and don’t mind jumping from character to character after each mini-story is done. It’s also a great book for anyone who loves variety in their titles. For example the second issue was a space adventure with Smasher, and the third was a martial arts story with Shang-Chi.
So Are They Really Avengers?: Yep, it’s the same characters from the main Avengers team, just with more focus on them.
What Is It? : SHIELD has decided it’s time they recruit some Avengers of their own in order to battle the secret organization of super scientist, AIM. Over the years AIM, who many of you might remember as “the guys in the bee keeper suits,” had mainly focused on creating weapons for other super villains, but now they’ve stepped up their game and created their own island nation to extend their reach of power. So SHIELD gets Hawkeye and Black Widow to sign up with them and tells them that if they work for them, then they’ll get something secret that they both really want, but they don’t remember what that is, because they don’t remember any of this. As soon as they’re off their missions they are mind wiped so they don’t even remember any part of this.
Who Is On The Team?: Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, Iron Patriot, Taskmaster, Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Mockingbird, and Maria Hill. This lineup is about to change though as the book is about to be relaunched, with Hulk, Iron Patriot, and Taskmaster leaving the team and Spider-Woman and MODOK joining the ranks.
So Who Is This Book For?: This book is for anyone who wants a hard core spy book. It kind of reminds me of some of the noir spy science fiction books from decades past.
So Are They Really Avengers?: Nope. They may refer to this team as their “Avengers” program, but don’t let that fool you, this is a SHIELD book. So don’t worry true blue Avenger fans, Taskmaster and MODOK are not card carrying member of the Avengers.
What Is It? The Young Avengers were a team formed years back when a young Kang the Conqueror came back in time to gather together a team of young heroes to stop his older self. Now, years later, one of the former members, Wiccan tries to bring his boyfriend’s dead mother back to life, but instead brings forth an interdimensional parasite that causes all adults to be brainwashed under her control. So Wiccan and Hulkling gather together several other young allies who are immune to this brainwashing to try and save the day. This book has ended its run (it wasn’t canceled, the writer just said he finished the story) but it still remains one of the most popular Avengers books in recent history
Who is on the Team?: Wiccan, Hulkling, Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Marvel Boy, Loki, Miss America, Prodigy
So Who Is This Book For?: Young people, at least young people at heart. It’s a fun title with a great diverse cast and it has one of the best romances in books from last year. And the book did a great job of capturing the voice of a generation and as a result introduced a new age of readers to comics.
So Are They Really Avengers?: The original Young Avengers were made honorary Avengers after they split up in the Children’s Crusade miniseries. But this isn’t the original Young Avengers, I mean they are still a Young Avengers team but that doesn’t mean the new members have been inducted onto the team, so no, Loki is still not an Avenger.
What Is It?: In Avengers Arena, Arcade, a super villain who has specialized in building death traps the size of amusement parks, has created an island of horrors and brought sixteen young super heroes here and is forcing them to battle each other to the death (yes, just like Battle Royale and Hunger Games, in fact he even says he got the idea from “That book about the kids who fight to the death”). This series reached the finale and coming up in a month the sequel, Avengers Undercover, will come out about the survivors of this experience now going undercover in the ranks of the Masters of Evil.
Who Is On The Team?: It’s not exactly a team, but the characters featured are Nico and Chase from Runaways and Reptil, Mettle, Hazmat, X-23, and Juston Seyfert (the kid with the pet Sentinel) from Avengers Academy. Other pre-existing characters include Darkhawk, Cammi (Drax the Destroyer’s old partner) and Red Raven, but beyond that all the characters are new characters which include Anachronism, Apex, Bloodstone, Kid Briton, Nara, and Death Locket (daughter of the man who created Deathlok).
Who Is This Book For?: This is a book made for people who wouldn’t expect this to be a book for them. I know that sounds odd but let me explain. When this book was announced I know a lot of people who were angry about the idea of their favorite characters fighting to the death, including Dennis Hopeless, the writer of the series. He himself said he hated the idea of writing a story about teen heroes having to kill each other, he wanted to originally write a book about teenage characters that fully explored their lives, showing them interacting with each other and falling in love. And that’s exactly what he created. This is great drama series featuring very dynamic characters interacting, growing, and developing over the course of eighteen issues.
So Are They Really Avengers?: No, but some of the characters were originally created for the Avengers Academy series and in some ways this is the successor to that fan favorite comic.
7. Avengers AI
What Is It?: Hank Pym recently had to defeat the robotic villain Ultron by creating a new super computer virus. However that virus ended up mutating into something new and now it’s granting sentience to other machines and making them rise up against humans. In order to try and stop the virus and bridge a connection between humans and machines, SHIELD has gathered Hank Pym and his handpicked team of robots and cyborgs to stop this menace.
Who Is On The Team?: Hank Pym, Monica Chang, Vision, Victor Mancha, Doombot, and Alexis
Who Is This Book For?: This book is for people who want something quirky, something fun and full of character, but also for people who love new looks at science fiction in comic books. I’ve found the way this book covers the sentient world of robotic lifeforms to be pretty impressive so if that sounds like something you’re into, then sign up for it.
So Are They Really Avengers?: Sort of? You see this is a team created by and working under SHIELD, however as a founding member and former leader of the Avengers, Hank Pym certainly can induct people onto the team. So the way I see it they’re Avengers, but a side operation, like the West Coast Avengers back in the 80s.
What Is It?: Luke Cage helped to lead the Avengers during a time when they became more of a street level team during Bendis’s run a few years back. Well now that he has a kid he’s had to focus more on superheroing for a living, going back to his Hero for Hire days. But in the back of his mind he kept thinking he should be doing something bigger, something to make the world better. So when Thanos invaded the planet during the Infinity crossover, Cage and several other heroes gathered together to fight his soldiers off. And Cage looked at these heroes and realized what he had to do. So he turned the old movie theater he used to operate out of into a super hero volunteer center. Basically any hero who wants can sign up and be a part of this super hero team that will act as a twenty four hour help hotline (they actually do have a hotline) to work for the people.
Who Is On The Team?: Luke Cage, Spectrum, She Hulk, Falcon, Power Man (Victor Alvarez), White Tiger, Jessica Jones, Blue Marvel, Iron Fist, and Ronin (his identity is still a secret, but we’re all 99% positive he’s Blade). A lot of people think the Superior Spider-Man is a member, but he’s not, he was there when the team was formed, but he’s actually more of a villain to the team as he’s spent the entire time telling them to work for him or he’ll shut them down, even attempting to destroy their headquarters in issue five.
Who Is This Book For?: This book is for people who want a fun super hero book full of nostalgic super hero action and bonding. This book reminds me of the old school days of the Avengers, when a group of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would band together in a moment of crisis to fight a threat too big for any of them to fight alone and then would grow closer as a family. Heck, a recent issue was dedicated entirely to the heroes helping Luke Cage move, that’s the kind of super hero hijinks I miss from the old days.
So Are They Really Avengers?: Just like with Avengers AI, Luke Cage has the authority as a former leader of the Avengers to create his own team and induct anyone he wants onto the team. Although he treats this more as a charity organization using the name, so it’s less like an official team and more like a group of heroes carrying on the legacy of the Avengers.
What Is It?: After Avengers Vs X-Men, where Cyclops and his team battled the Avengers as the Phoenix approached the Earth, the Avengers realized they could do more to help the mutant population and they hadn’t recognized them enough in the past. So they created the Avengers Unity Squad, a team of Avengers who would focus more on issues and threats to mutant kind. The series shows a lot of classic Avengers villains working alongside some threats from the X-Men world, such as the Red Skull using stolen telepathic powers to spread hatred against mutants across the world, and the children of Apocalypse from the future being raised by Kang the Conqueror.
Who Is On The Team?: Havok, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Rogue, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Sunfire
Who Is This Book For?: This is a book for people who want their super hero teams to be big and to face even bigger threats. At the end of one of the issues a Celestial twice the size of the Earth is about to destroy the planet while every alternate future in Marvel’s history is being erased from reality. If any part of that sentence sounded interesting to you then you should pick up this book.
So Are They Really Avengers?: Yep, as I said this is an Avengers side team created with the specific goal of bridging the gap between humans and mutants.
And there you have it, the nine current Avengers series out there. More will come, some will leave us, but as you can see there will always be a great deal of variety to these titles, so no matter who you are, there is an Avengers Title that is made for you, and I hope this article helped you to choose one.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the views of Midtown Comics, its affiliates, or its employees.