Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: An Avengers Retrospective

Avengers #189

Guest contributor Gene Selassie kicks off a new feature as he re-reads the entire run of The Avengers from the beginning! Welcome to “An Avengers Retrospective“.

“The First of a Star-Studded Series of Book-Length Super-Epics featuring some of Earth’s Greatest Super Heroes” was splashed on the opening page of Avengers issue number one, which was released in September of 1963. A friend’s father owned the book and I was enamored by it when he showed us. Ten-year-old Gene was awestruck. At the time, I had only been reading Iron Man regularly. Due to the numerous Avengers guest appearances throughout the years, the door was cracked open for me to explore that team book. My first Avengers issue was purchased at the Big Top Flea Market in Tampa. The oldest issue that the vendor had for sale was issue #189, which was written by Steven Grant and Roger Stern and drawn by John Byrne. This was the issue that alluded to Falcon getting a spot on the Avengers due to Affirmative Action. Hawkeye being the one to lose his spot to Sam Wilson, well, to say that it didn’t sit well with him would be an understatement. Forthwith, Clint Barton started out on my shit list. However, staying with the book and subsequent spinoffs, I gained respect for Barton, who went on to become tied with Iron Man as my favorite Avenger.

In due time, after scouring back issue bins at comic book stores, several other Avengers became personal favorites: the star-spangled Avenger, Steve Rogers aka Captain America; the energy wielding former Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau aka Photon; scientist supreme, Hank Pym aka Ant-Man; protector of the universe, Wendell Vaughn aka Quasar; one of the first Avengers to have to balance super-heroing with being a single mother, Julia Carpenter aka Spider Woman II; another hero having to balance avenging and attending college, Miguel Santos aka Living Lightning. I could keep going all day long.

Many of my comic reading friends consider me to be the biggest Avengers fan of all time. While I’d be enamored to claim that title, I have many gaps or lapses in my run. Therefore, I decided to rectify this by doing a deep dive. Setting out to read every single issue of The Avengers may be easier in the age of Marvel Unlimited, comiXology, and Marvel Masterworks, but that doesn’t guarantee the availability of every single issue. The fun will be in tracking them down.

I will be doing a biweekly column, highlighting my progress and my findings. It is my hope that, through this journey, I can explore the peaks and valleys of the franchise and relay my unrequited love for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.