With the film “Marvel's The Avengers” making more than $200 million in its first weekend at the box office, there looks to be an appetite for adventures of Marvel Comics' super-team. The team was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby back in 1963, bringing together heroes who had appeared in solo stories in Marvel Comics: Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Thor and the Hulk. The team discovered World War II hero Captain America frozen in ice in issue No. 4, and he went on to join the team.
For new fans who want to find out where to read more about the Avengers, here are some highlights, assembled in the order in which you might want to read them as a new fan.
Fan-favorite creators Kurt Busiek and George Perez became the creative team of “The Avengers” in 1998, as the team returned from an alternate reality. In the first three issues, the re-formed team must face off against the enchantress Morgan Le Fay.
The second “Avengers Assemble” volume contains perhaps the highlight of the Busiek-Perez run, the “Ultron Unlimited” story, in which the team faces a near-indestructible robot originally created by one of their own members. The final Perez issues are collected in Volume 3. Volume 4 includes art by Alan Davis and John Romita Jr.; Volume 5 is primarily concerned with the “Kang War” storyline.
Five volumes containing writer Kurt Busiek's run were released in hardcover; three have made it to softcover release, with Volume 3 hitting comic bookstores in time for the movie. The fourth softcover volume is slated for July.
This hardcover collection contains “Avengers” Volume 1 89-97 and features art by Neal Adams, as the Avengers are caught between two intergalactic enemies, the Kree and the Skrulls. This storyline is probably the high point of the excellent run by Roy Thomas on “The Avengers.”
‘Avengers Under Siege'
A personal favorite, this features the art of John Buscema in a Roger Stern-written tale in which the Masters of Evil lay waste to Avengers Mansion.
Writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch re-created the Avengers with a modern sensibility in “The Ultimates.” Their 26 issues together are collected in four paperbacks or two larger collections, “The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection” and “Ultimates 2: Ultimate Collection.”
In 2002, “The Ultimates” updated Nick Fury as a suave, black superspy who resembled actor Samuel L. Jackson. Six years later, Jackson would step into the role on-screen in a cameo in 2008's “Iron Man.”
‘The Avengers Omnibus Vol. 1'
The original “Avengers” comics might come off a little dated in places, but the dynamic artwork of Jack Kirby and the original stories by Stan Lee show how the Avengers got started in this collection of the first 30 “Avengers” comics from the 1960s. See the first appearance of the team, the revival of Captain America, and the first appearance of Hawkeye as an Avenger in these comics, which feature villains including Loki, Kang the Conqueror, and others.
‘New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout'
After the destruction of the original “Avengers” team, popular Marvel mainstays Spider-Man and Wolverine join the “New Avengers” along with Captain America and Iron Man. Luke Cage and Spider-Woman round out the new team. Writer Brian Michael Bendis joins artist David Finch for this arc, which began the “New Avengers” series in 2005.
Another series by Busiek, this one drawn by Carlos Pacheco, features seven Avengers from different time periods who must protect the team's frequent ally, Rick Jones.
This just scratches the surface of Marvel's almost 50 years of “Avengers” tales, but reading these should help fill the “Avengers” void until the sequel comes along; or at the least until “Iron Man 3” makes it to theaters next May.