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Word Balloons: 'Avengers' celebrates 50th anniversary in 2013

‘Avengers' superhero team has included Thor, Iron Man, Captain America.
by Matthew Price Published: September 20, 2013

Before Thor, Iron Man and Captain America thrilled cinemagoers in 2012's “Marvel's The Avengers,” they were part of a comic-book series that's gone on for 50 years.

In “Avengers” No. 1, cover-dated Sept. 1963, the team of Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man, the Wasp and the Hulk formed “The Avengers.” Mainstay Captain America joined in issue No. 4.

Last week's “Avengers” No. 19 featured a variety of variant covers paying homage to the decades of adventures by the heroes. The variants were drawn by former Oklahoman John Cassaday, who most recently drew the series “Uncanny Avengers” for Marvel Comics.

The 1960s

“‘The Avengers' is a book that has undergone a lot of evolution over the years,” said local comics writer and critic Rob Vollmar. “Originally, it served as a place for Marvel's characters (who were not Spider-Man or already in a group ala Fantastic Four or the X-Men) to be able to get some extra face time.”

The 1970s

In the next decade, “The Avengers” brought in more original characters.

“In the 1970s, it seemed to attract more characters who couldn't carry a book under their own banner. I'm thinking particularly of Vision, Wonder Man, Captain Marvel etc. Obviously, Neal Adams' work on the title during that period would be considered a high point.”

Neal Adams was the artist for much of the “Kree-Skrull War,” which brought interstellar action to the pages of “The Avengers” in a well-remembered storyline.

The 1980s

Roger Stern and John Buscema teamed up for another storyline that's considered a high point of “The Avengers,” the storyline “Under Siege.” In that storyline, the Masters of Evil wreck Avengers Mansion.

“It shows how far they can be beaten and still come back from it,” said Brian “Buck” Berlin, of Oklahoma City's New World Comics. “It shows their resolve. And it has one of the coolest Captain America moments ever.”

The storyline ran from “Avengers” Vol. 1 Nos. 270-277 in 1986 and 1987.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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