For more than 50 years The Avengers have been saving the world from those who wish to harm it. This has lead to some really great stories throughout the decades, with top-tier artists and writers doing some of their best work with the team. Below are 9 Avengers stories that you should read, all of which are held in high regards and are fan favourites. I’ve tried to include a mixture of newer and older stories to get a taste of the Avengers in different periods of the team’s history.
Enjoy the list! If it makes you want to go out and read any of these stories let me know in the comments below.
The Coming of the Avengers!
Written by Stan Lee. Art by Jack Kirby.
If you want to see how the Avengers originally formed then this is the story you should read. Seeing the popularity of comics such as the Justice League and the Fantastic Four, Marvel decided to team up a group of their most popular heroes of to take on a threat no one hero could handle on their own. In their first outing together they must stop Loki, who has tricked the Hulk in an elaborate plot to get revenge on his brother Thor. If this sounds familiar in anyway it’s because this story was partial inspiration for the first Avengers film.
The Coming of the Avengers! can be read in Avengers (volume 1) #1. If you want to read it in print I’d highly suggest reading it in one of the various collections that it features in as a copy of the original would be too pricey for a casual read. It can be found in Marvel Masterworks: Avengers vol 1 or Avengers Epic Collection: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as well as digitally.
Written by Kurt Busiek. Art by George Perez.
Considered to be one of the best, Ultron Unlimited is the story to read if you’re looking for a great Ultron story. Ultron is one of those villains that has continuously evolved with every defeat, getting more dangerous each time. In this 4-part story sees Ultron at his most dangerous, with him destroying an entire European nation just to get the Avengers attention. Out of the ruins of the destruction, Ultron builds an army of drones and the Avengers will have to risk everything to stop Ultron and his army. Busiek and Perez’s run is overall pretty great, and I’ll feature another story from it later in the list, but this is one of the absolute highlights.
Ultron Unlimited ran through Avengers (volume 3) #19-22 is available in print in the Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez Omnibus. If you don’t want to invest in the big omnibus you can also find it collected digitally as well in single issues.
The Kree/Skrull War
Written by Roy Thomas. Art by Sal Buscema, Neal Adams and John Buscema.
The Kree and the Skrulls, two alien races in the Marvel Universe with expansive empires, have been at war with each other for as long as anyone can remember. The war comes to Earth and the Avengers are thrown into the middle of it. This story is well remembered for its high stakes, cosmic scope and large cast of characters.
The Kree/Skrull War ran through Avengers (volume 1) #89-97 and is available trade paperback and digitally.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by David Finch.
When Brian Michael Bendis started writing Avengers he began by ripping the team apart. This 5 part story sees the death of team members as well as sows seeds for House of M – an event which had lasting impact on the X-Men. By the end of this story the Avengers will be no more. This started what would be a 8 year run on the title for Bendis as he takes the team from being an average selling title to a consistent best seller.
Avengers: Disassembled ran through Avengers #500-503 and Avengers: Finale and is available in trade paperback and digitally.
New Avengers: Breakout
Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by David Finch.
After ripping the team apart in their Avengers: Disassembled, Bendis and Finch show Captain America reluctantly reform the Avengers – featuring many new members. New to the team are some fan favourites including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Luke Cage. But what could make Cap reform the team after it’s tragic end? How about a mass breakout of supervillains from a super maximum-security prison? The team must track down and return 40-something supervillains that have escaped before they wreak havoc on the world.
New Avengers: Breakout ran through New Avengers #1-6 and is collected in trade paperback and digitally.
The Korvac Saga
Written by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie and Bill Mantlo. Art by George Perez, Sal Buscema and David Wenzel.
Michael Korvac, a villain the from the 30th century, travels back in time in order to escape being captured from the Guardians of the Galaxy of that time period. When he gets to the past (our present) he comes across Galactus and is able to absorb the Power Cosmic, which essentially turns him into a god-like being. Noticing how much of a threat he would be, The Collector (a character who was recently featured in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie) turns his daughter into a god-like being with the intention that she would be powerful enough to stop him. Instead of stopping him, the pair fall in love and disappear to Earth to live a quiet life together. Meanwhile, the future Guardians of the Galaxy, with help from the Avengers, have come back in time in order to apprehend Korvac and return him to his time. Of course, not everything goes to plan and the two teams must battle this god-like being to save the world. The Korvac Saga is a huge story and my explanation probably doesn’t give it justice, but if you are looking for an Avengers story that’s told on a grand scale then this is the story for you.
The Korvac Saga ran through Avengers (volume 1) #167-169, 170-171 and 173-177 and is collected in trade paperback and digitally.
Written by Mark Millar. Art by Bryan Hitch.
When the Ultimate Universe, a more new reader friendly universe, was created in the early 2000s The Ultimates was one of it’s early hits. It was so popular that it spawned multiple sequels and even formed a lot of the basis for the first Avengers movie. Unlike the regular Marvel Universe, The Ultimate Universe was an exploration of what the real world would be like if there were superheroes in it. With this in mind Millar and Hitch crafted a series which see’s the team struggle with public opinion and politics. Throw in Hitch’s cinematic styling and The Ultimates reads like a big Hollywood production.
The Ultimates was a 13 issue series which has been collected in trade paperback and digitally.
Written by Kurt Busiek. Art by Alan Davis, Kieron Dwyer, Ivan Reis and Manuel Garcia.
The Avengers have faced many villains over the years, but there are few that really stand out. One that definitely does, and has given the team great stories over the years, is Kang the Conqueror. For those unfamiliar with Kang, he’s a time travelling ruler of the future who likes to alter time in his favour. The Avengers have had plenty of run-ins with him over the years but Kang Dynasty is probably the best story featuring the time-travelling villain. Essentially, Kang travels back in time and actually succeeds in taking over Earth. While the Avengers eventually stop him, Washington D.C pays the ultimate price by being almost completely destroyed in the process. Along the way there are also a handful of subplots, which might sound messy but are all handled quite well due to over arching story being 16 parts.
Kang Dynasty ran through Avengers #41 – 55 (volume 3) and Avengers Annual 2001 and can be read digitally. This story is currently out of print, but will be featured in the Avengers By Kurt Busiek & George Perez Omnibus vol. 2 which is meant to be out in November 2015.
Written by Roger Stern. Art by John Buscema.
Over a long period of time, Baron Zemo has managed to get band together with a large team of fellow villains in order to take on the Avengers. They do this by raiding the Avengers Mansion, catching all our heroes by surprise. Captured Zemo’s team begin destroying the Avengers possessions and torturing them. Luckily The Wasp was able to elude capture and is able to band together a makeshift team of heroes in order to rescue her captured friends.
Under Siege ran through Avengers #273-277 (volume 1) and is available digitally. This is currently not in print, but with Marvel’s regular collecting of older content should be available again in the coming years. If you can’t wait that long digital is the way to go.