The main Avengers title is lost. Does it need to be found?

Once upon a time, the Avengers in its varying incarnations were the backbone of Marvel’s larger story, the skeleton upon which the rest of the universe built from. The length that stretch actually was likely depends on a) how long you believe writer Brian Michael Bendis’ run fulfilled that argument 9 and b) whether you consider Jonathan Hickman’s run on the twin books of Avengers and New Avengers as the core of the broader Marvel universe during his time there, 10 but the point is this: for a decent chunk of this century, the Avengers were the heart of the Marvel universe both in film and in comic form.

Undeniably, though, the peak of that was that first five year stretch from Bendis, when New Avengers was the fulcrum from which a new era of Marvel events pivoted, including House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion and Siege. It did what Xavier Files’ Zach Jenkins recently said on Twitter: it “set the direction for the Marvel Universe.” That’s a potent presence, and something that just makes sense. After all, what are the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes if not the flagship of the Marvel line?

That’s a question worth asking today, because in the current state of Avengers – the primary title featuring these characters from writer Jason Aaron and artists like Ed McGuinness and Javier Garron – it’s anything but the flagship, typically operating in its own world altogether, for all intents and purposes, whether that means its lack of connection with larger events 11 or within its own narrative thread. Story beats rise, fall and disappear altogether at times, with little in-title explanation as to what happened there, and its link to surrounding titles often is tenuous at best and absent at worst. It feels like it’s its own island, which is a strange place for it to be.

That’s not to say Avengers is without merit, of course, especially considering I for one abhor continuity. Jason Aaron and friends getting weird with Blade, vampires, Omega level Moon Knight, and all kinds of other nonsense is sort of my thing. If its biggest crime is doing its own thing and wilding out in the process, then feel free to lock me up alongside it, because that’s my kind of superhero comic.

But I’m not everyone, and The Avengers isn’t a small title on the periphery. It’s the center of the Marvel line, and the star around which everything else orbits. If it’s wayward, what happens to everything else? And if it loses that identity, what kind of Avengers title does that make it, even?


An uneven one, to be succinct.

To be far less so, Jason Aaron and friends have made an Avengers title that in many ways fit the eras before Bendis, when just because you’re the major league team doesn’t mean you can’t operate within your own sandbox and get a little weird while you’re at it. We’ll get to the downside of that here in a bit, but plenty of upside comes along with as well.

The Avengers #19 cover by Ed McGuinness

This series has been a rollercoaster ride, with it largely being a blockbuster read that should come with a coupon for a free bag of popcorn upon purchase since its eternal, somnambulant initial seven issue arc concluded. 12 Once it set the table, it became a heck of a lot of fun, touring the totality of the Marvel universe from deep space to the deepest seas, making anyone from vampires to Phil Coulson antagonists for the squad. Even better, it expanded the bench of the Avengers, keeping a core team of your A-listers but integrating forgotten faves like Blade into the active roster and using Black Panther’s Agents of Wakanda to work in grade A oddballs like Doctor Nemesis and Broo.

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  1. I’d say Bendis’ run fit that bill from January 2005’s New Avengers #1 to the conclusion of Siege in 2010, but if you tried to argue that extended all the way through his departure, I could see it.

  2. I would.

  3. Or at least ones not written by Aaron himself.

  4. It’s a miracle that I kept reading this series after that storyline somehow made the Celestials – my big, beautiful, gloriously “not a robot” boys – boring.

  5. I’d say Bendis’ run fit that bill from January 2005’s New Avengers #1 to the conclusion of Siege in 2010, but if you tried to argue that extended all the way through his departure, I could see it.

  6. I would.

  7. Or at least ones not written by Aaron himself.

  8. It’s a miracle that I kept reading this series after that storyline somehow made the Celestials – my big, beautiful, gloriously “not a robot” boys – boring.

  9. I’d say Bendis’ run fit that bill from January 2005’s New Avengers #1 to the conclusion of Siege in 2010, but if you tried to argue that extended all the way through his departure, I could see it.

  10. I would.

  11. Or at least ones not written by Aaron himself.

  12. It’s a miracle that I kept reading this series after that storyline somehow made the Celestials – my big, beautiful, gloriously “not a robot” boys – boring.