The Avengers’ profile has never been bigger than it is during their astonishing Marvel Cinematic Universe world takeover. For those looking to dive deep into Avengers’ comic book history, the team goes all the way back to the Silver Age in 1963.
Indeed, from ’63 to 1996 the Avengers ran for over 400 issues, not including annuals, spinoffs, and various connected stories. Rosters have included the vast majority of the Marvel Universe over this time, from the second wave of Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch through less well known additions like Rage, Doctor Druid, and Photon.
Below you’ll find a guide to these classic Avengers stories, as well as the trade paperback and collected editions available to readers today. Many of these classic touch points like the Kree/Skrull war and Korvac Saga are still frequently referenced.
Modern Avengers (1998 to present)
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Classic Avengers Collected Edition Reading Order!
Avengers Comics In The 1960’s
Collects: Avengers (1963) 1-30
For the Omnibus collector, there are currently three classic Avengers editions (and undoubtedly more on the way). These will take you through Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s creation of the team, as well as the Roy Thomas era up until the Kree vs. Skrull war.
All of the Avengers issues collected in these omnibus editions are collected in more accessible trade paperbacks below (and are, of course, included in Marvel Unlimited).
Collects: Avengers (1963) 31-58, Annual (1967)1-2, X-Men (1963) 45, Not Brand Echh (1967) 5, 8
Collects: Avengers (1963) 59-88, Incredible Hulk (1968) 140, Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) 17, Material From Not Brand Echh 12
Avengers Epic Collection: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Collects: Avengers (1963) 1-20
Despite their popularity, the Avengers don’t come out of the gates as strong as other Marvel creations such as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, or Thor. Nonetheless, the groundwork is laid in these issues for an original roster of Ant-Man (Hank Pym), Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), Iron Man (Tony Stark), and Thor (Donald Blake). Technically the Hulk is there for the foundation (calling him a founding Avenger always feels off to me), and by Avengers #4, Captain America is on the team as well.
Avengers Epic Collection: Once an Avenger
Collects: Avengers (1963) 21-40
One of the Avengers’ defining traits was established relatively early, with an ever-changing roster shuffling new heroes in and out of membership. The first turnover brings Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch onto the team, also establishing a precedent for second chances toward previous “villains.”
Avengers Epic Collection: Masters of Evil
Collects: Avengers (1963) 41-56, Annual (1967) 1-2; X-Men (1963) 45; Material From Not Brand Echh (1967) 5, 8
Avengers Epic Collection: Behold the Vision
Collects: Avengers (1963) 57-76, Marvel Super -Heroe S (1967) 17
The Ultron, Pym, and Vision saga unfolds in all its still hugely relevant glory here.
Avengers Comics In The 1970’s
Collects: Avengers 89-97
The “Kree/Skrull War” is one of the more iconic early events in Marvel history, and has planted the seeds for a number of modern day stories such as Secret Invasion. The story told by Roy Thomas and (initially) Neal Adams integrates the Avengers with the Marvel cosmic landscape, and even ropes the Inhumans into the scrum.
Avengers Epic Collection: The Avengers/Defenders War
Collects: Avengers (1963) 115-128, Giant-Size (1974) 1, Defenders (1972) 8-11, Captain Marvel (1968) 33, Fantastic Four (1961) 150
Avengers: The Complete Celestial Madonna Saga
Collects: Avengers (1963) 124-125, 129-135; Captain Marvel (1968) 33; Giant-Size Avengers 2-4; Avengers: Celestial Quest 1-8
Steve Englehardt’s time writing the Avengers in the 70’s is a headtrip tied up in warped space and time travel. Kang the Conqueror has some of his more memorable moments throughout the Celestial Madonna Saga, as Avengers history is explored in great detail.
Note for readers of the collection that “Celestial Quest,” wasn’t published until decades later, and despite its narrative ties, doesn’t fit particularly well with this era of Avengers.
Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume 14
Collects: Avengers (1963) 129-135, Giant-Size Avengers (1974) 2-4; Foom (1973) 12
Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume 15
Collects: Avengers (1963) 136-149; Marvel Treasury Edition (1974) 7
Avengers Epic Collection: The Final Threat
Collects: Avengers (1963) 150-166, Annual (1967) 6-7, Super-Villian Team-Up (1975) 9 & Marvel Two-In-On E Annual (1976) 2
Collects: Avengers (1963) #167-168 And #170-177, And Thor Annual #6
The classic “Korvac Saga” brings the Avengers together in battle with the original Guardians of the Galaxy versus a cosmic presence they truly cannot beat.
Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Vol. 17
Collects: Avengers (1963) #164-177, Annual (1967) #7, Marvel Two-In-One Annual (1976) #2
Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Vol. 18
Collects: Avengers (1963) 178-188, Annual (1967) 8-9; Material From Marvel Tales (1966) 100
Avengers Comics In The 1980’s
Collects: Avengers #181 To #187
Collects: Avengers (1963) 188-196, Annual 9
Avengers: Absolute Vision Book 1
Collects: Avengers (1963) #231-241, Avengers Annual #11-12, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Fantastic Four (1961) #256, And Doctor Strange (1974) #60
Avengers: Absolute Vision Book 2
Collects: Avengers (1963) #242-254, Avengers Annual #13
Avengers: The Legacy of Thanos
Collects: Avengers (1963) #255-261, Avengers Annual #14, And Fantastic Four Annual #19
Nebula’s time to shine as a Marvel Universe villain begins here.
Avengers: West Coast Avengers Omnibus
Collects: West Coast Avengers (1984) 1-4; Iron Man Annual 7; Avengers (1963) 250; West Coast Avengers (1985) 1-16; Vision And The Scarlet Witch (1985) 1-2; Avengers Annual (1967) 15; West Coast Avengers Annual 1; Material From Avengers (1963) 239, 243-244, 246; Material From Avengers West Coast 10
While the idea of heroes on the West Coast of America is often teased before 1984, West Coast Avengers finally makes a protective squad outside of New York City a reality in the Marvel Universe.
Avengers: The Once and Future Kang
Collects: Avengers (1963) #262-269, Avengers Annual (1967) #15, And West Coast Avengers Annual #1
Highly underrated Avengers story, written and drawn by the incredible Walt Simonson!
Avengers: West Coast Avengers Omnibus Volume 2
Collects: West Coast Avengers (1985) #17-41, West Coast Avengers Annual #2-3 And Avengers Annual (1967) #16
Avengers Epic Collection: Under Siege
Collects: Avengers (1963) #264-277, Alpha Flight (1983) #39, Avengers Annual #15, And West Coast Avengers Annual #1
One of the more engaging Avengers epics, written by Roger Stern. This is one of the more brutal battles the Avengers have ever had, as the Masters of Evil storm the mansion… and win.
The Avengers Epic Collection: Judgment Day
Collects: Avengers (1963) #278-285 And Avengers Annual #16; Plus: Marvel Graphic Novel #27: Emperor Doom; X-Men Vs. Avengers #1-4; And West Coast Avengers Annual #2
Collects: Avengers (1963) 286-293
Avengers by John Byrne Omnibus
Collects: West Coast Avengers (1985) 42-46; Avengers West Coast 47-62, Annual 4; Avengers (1963) 305-318, Annual 18
The events of the John Byrne era of West Coast Avengers – particularly between Vision and Scarlet Witch – shape much of modern Avengers continuity in the 2000’s.
Avengers Comics In The 1990’s
Avengers Epic Collection: The Collection Obsession
Collects: Avengers (1963) 334-344, Annual 20; Avengers: Deathtrap – The Vault; Material From Incredible Hulk Annual 17, Namor The Sub-Mariner Annual 1, Iron Man Annual 12, Avengers West Coast Annual 6
Avengers – West Coast Avengers: Along Came A Spider-Woman
Collects: Avengers West Coast 58-59, 63-75
Avengers Epic Collection: Operation Galactic Storm
Collects: Avengers (1963) 345-347, Avengers West Coast 80-82, Quasar 32-36, Wonder Man (1991) 7-9, Iron Man (1968) 278-279, Thor (1966) 445-446, Material From Captain America (1968) 398-400
Collects: Avengers West Coast 89-91, Annual 8; Vision (1994) 1-4
Avengers: The Death of Mockingbird
Collects: Avengers West Coast 92-100, 102; Spider-Woman (1993) 1-4; Material From Marvel Comics Presents (1988) 143-144
Avengers/Iron Man: Force Works
Collects: Force Works 1-11, 12, 13-15, Ashcan Edition; Century: Distant Sons 1
Collects: Avengers 390-395, The Crossing , Timeslide; Iron Man (1968) 319-325; Force Works 16-22; War Machine 20-25; Age Of Innocence: The Rebirth Of Iron Man
Only Avengers diehards need apply! Witness the coming of teenage Tony Stark!
Collects: Captain America (1968) 449, Thor (1966) 496, Iron Man (1968) 326-331, Avengers (1963) 396-400
X-Men/Avengers: Onslaught Omnibus
Collects: Cable (1993) 32-36; Uncanny X-Men (1963) 333-337; X-Force (1991) 55, 57-58; X-Man 15-19; X-Men (1991) 53-57, Annual ’96; X-Men Unlimited (1993) 11; Onslaught: X-Men, Marvel Universe, Epilogue; Avengers (1963) 401-402; Fantastic Four (1961) 415; Incredible Hulk (1968) 444-445; Wolverine (1988) 104-105; X-Factor (1986) 125-126; Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 415; Green Goblin 12; Spider-Man (1990) 72; Iron Man (1968) 332; Punisher (1995) 11; Thor (1966) 502; X-Men: Road To Onslaugh T 1; Material From Ex Calibur (1988) 100, Fantastic Four (1961) 416
For my money, it’s enough to know that Onslaught – the evil merger of Professor Xavier and Magneto – was a giant crossover event that quite literally led to the end of the Avengers (well, at least their first “volume” of a comic book series started in 1963).
Collects: Avengers (Vol. 2) #1-12
Collects: Heroes Reborn: The Return #1-4
The Avengers and the rest of the post-Onslaught casualties return to Earth-616 proper, just in time for the acclaimed relaunch of Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez.
Want to keep reading Avengers comics? Check out the Modern Marvel Avengers reading order!
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