The Top 10 Avengers Stories

Avengers Assemble! No, really, it’s time to assemble… a list of the Top 10 Avengers Stories of all time.

With the Avengers movie in theaters in the United States this week, we know you want to go back to the source, and catch up on the best of the best, the stories that made the Avengers franchise what it is today. So without further ado, we begin our countdown of ten titanic tales of teamwork, starring the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.


#10 – The Serpent Crown

Steve Englehart crafted this off-beat tale of two worlds, featuring the Squadron Supreme, an evil artifact from the age of Conan, and the corporation everyone loves to hate, Roxxon. It’s not only a rollicking adventure story, it also serves as a parable about the corrupting nature of power, and the dangers in unquestioning obedience towards authority.


#9 – The Korvac Saga

Jim Shooter took a villain who was at best D-list, and with the help of the Power Cosmic, transformed him into a misunderstood godlike being who really just wanted to save us from ourselves. A high-stakes conflict in which ALL the heroes, The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy combined, are actually killed by their foe, only to be resurrected in final act of benevolence, makes for one of the most memorable stories in Avengers history.


#8 – Avengers Forever

Almost obsessive in its attention to detail, Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco’s Avengers Forever serves both as a loving tribute to decades of Avengers history, as well as a handy fixer-upper for various continuity glitches plaguing the Marvel Universe. The series is also notable for revamping the son of the original Captain Mar-Vell, who later went on to his own critically-acclaimed series.


#7 – Ultron Unlimited

A hard-hitting, brutal tale that shows just how dangerous an insane adamantium robot with the mind of a genius can be… dangerous enough to wipe out the population of an entire nation, and crazy enough to see members of The Avengers as his “family” whom he intends to convert to a robotic existence like his own. This tale is arguably the highlight of the Kurt Busiek/George Perez tenure on The Avengers, and given the quality of that whole run, that’s saying something.


#6 – The Celestial Madonna Saga

If an android marrying a mutant isn’t strange enough for you, how about we make it a double wedding with a martial artist destined to give birth to the savior of the universe tying the knot with a sentient plant who takes the form of her dead lover? But even apart from all the weirdness, the “Celestial Madonna Saga” is known for its engrossing story, with a top-notch villain in Kang the Conqueror, real human drama, the culmination of the Vision and Scarlet Witch’s love affair, and the fall of a notable Avenger… the tragically conflicted Swordsman. Another Englehart classic.

#5 – Even An Android Can Cry!

Sure, it’s a common theme in sci-fi by now, the artificial being with human emotions, but 1968’s The Avengers #58 by the legendary team of Roy Thomas and John Buscema presented a powerful tale of acceptance that holds up to this day. The Vision, initially a creation of the evil Ultron, and expecting to be an outcast for the rest of his existence, discovers that The Avengers are willing to look past his synthetic flesh to the soul inside, and welcome him into the team. He excuses himself and takes a moment away from the gathering, leaving the remaining Avengers to ponder whether “…even an android can cry.”


#4 – The Old Order Changeth!

The Avengers #16 was the issue that set the tone for what the series could and would become over the years. Stan Lee took this opportunity to show that The Avengers were not going to be locked into a predictable formula, and did so in radical fashion. Almost all of the headliners departed, and were replaced by characters who were until that point known as villains–establishing that unlike the Distinguished Competition, the line between hero and villain wasn’t so clear-cut. Captain America was charged with leading this Kooky Quartet, which provided for ample conflict with the loud-mouthed Hawkeye and the abrasive Quicksilver, with the Scarlet Witch typically stuck in the middle. It gave the series a wonderfully unpredictable feel, and underlined the message–anything can happen with this team.


#3 – Under Siege

There have been bigger menaces the Avengers have faced, but none that have hit so close to home–literally. The largest and deadliest assemblage of Masters of Evil yet, led by the second Baron Zemo, invade and destroy Avengers Mansion, torture the beloved butler Jarvis, and give Hercules, Prince of Power, the worst beating of his immortal life. But like the cover says– they’re not called The Avengers for nothing. And when they get to avenging, we get a smackdown that’s not just epic, but very personal.


#2 – The Kree/Skrull War

This story set the bar for all Marvel cosmic space opera to follow. A clash of civilizations between the Skrulls, the devious shapechangers who’d been targetting Earth since the Fantastic Four first got together, and the Kree, a militaristic race which regarded the hero Captain Marvel as a traitor to their kind, with The Avengers caught in the middle. Written by Roy Thomas  and featuring art by the incomparable Neal Adams, it’s the perfect example of how you can do a major earth-shaking event, all in one series.


#1 – Captain America Lives Again!

Okay, you got me. I picked this as #1 on last year’s Captain America list too. But I swear, I came to this conclusion honestly. It’s not just a great Cap story–it’s the first time The Avengers really became The Avengers. Iron Man? Too absorbed in his technology to connect the way a leader needs to. Thor? Too rash, too hot-headed. Hank Pym? Too much insecurity. The Wasp? Well, in that era she spent a lot of time shopping and mooning over Thor’s long blond hair. They needed Cap, and it’s telling how all the other Avengers are awed by this man they’ve discovered adrift in the sea, after decades on ice–he’s a living legend, and they know it. Cap completes The Avengers, and Stan Lee turns what could have been a throwaway explanation as to why we haven’t seen him in all this time, into a brilliant and moving story that provides Cap with a compelling yet distinctly different mindset from the rest of the team.


Questions or comments? E-mail Matt Adler.


  1. solid list, but i may have added Breakout (New Avengers vol. 1) just to bring it a little closer to the modern day

  2. What if you are someone who just isn’t into the old style of comics? I’m guessing The Ultimates would be my best bet for some more action packed fun like the movie.

    • read Geoff Johns’ Red Zone story. Fantastic use of charactes.

    • Johns stuff is very overrated. Red Zone was definitely the highlight of the run, but Bendis did much better not soon after.

    • Ultron Unlimited for example concluded in November 1999, practically 2000. That and another by Busiek on there, I wouldn’t call those old style comics. Plus the 80s/90s are considered the modern era, with plenty of variation to the style you’ll find in various books.

  3. No problems with this list.

  4. Is the movie not out in the states yet?

  5. This is why I havent really read any Avengers stories, I can find the old style classics, but I just cant get into the writing, and i’m not a huge fan of Bendis. I’m looking forward to a new writer come on, I’m glad everyone else enjoyed Bendis (those who did) but he’s been on it for a while and change can be a good thing. 🙂 But yeah, solid top ten list, i’ve read most of these and do appreciate the classics.

    • Finally somebody agrees with me about Bendis. I’m guessing/hoping that The Avengers will get a relaunch/ revamp after AVX and that’s wen I’ll check it out again. I read most of the first 25 issues of this latest series but just wasn’t feeling it. I’m not a big fan of seeing The Avengers in their “down-time” which Bendis focused on a lot. Maybe Secret Avengers is the one to go with actually, cause I do love Remender.

    • I haven’t read any of Bendis’ Avengers stuff but his Ultimate Spider-Man stuff is amazing. I would have imagined his Avengers “down-time” stuff would be pretty good just cause he’s so good at writing witty dialogue between characters with unique personalities.

    • @Trallis There is a ‘unique personality’ but sadly it’s shared between everyone..

  6. Great list! As far as classic Avengers comics go, those are some of the best. Sadly I can’t say I’ve read Serpent Crown or the Korvac Saga, but they’re on my to-read list. I absolutely love the other stories on this list though. If you need something more modern, Geoff Johns’s Red Zone was great, and Busiek’s Kang Dynasty is pretty epic.

  7. I would argue that the ones from the ’80s (eg; Stern’s Under Siege) and later, aren’t “old-style”. It’s certainly different from Bendis or Millar, but the dialogue is mostly stuff you could imagine real people saying. The stories are fast-paced and exciting, the characters have depth and real emotion, and most importantly, stuff that happens that matters AND makes sense in terms of the ongoing story and characterization. Many of today’s writers could learn from that.

  8. Great list! I’d add another vote for Busiek’s Kang epic. Avengers-Defenders War was one of the first great crossovers and would be a worthty addition as well.

  9. Excellent list. #10 Serpent Crown is the first arc I read as young comic book reader. Love and appreciate it for attracting me to comics.

  10. Y’know what would’ve made these stories even better? Phil Coulson.

  11. How was Chaos War? I know it features a lot of Avegers (living and dead), but I have not read it. Yay? Nay?

  12. That Under Seige storyline was SO good. I haven’t read it in years but I will definitely pull it out again soon. If anyone out there hasn’t read it yet, I definitely recommend giving it a look.

  13. That Under Siege storyline was great. Loved that one as a kid. Also, glad to see Ultron Unlimited make the cut. That was pretty much the last time I truly enjoyed the Avengers.

  14. #3 is the best, because Beardy Thor is on the cover.

  15. I read Under Siege and it’s definitely my favorite.
    A question for anyone: Are all these stories in collected volumes/editions? I’d love to have them on my self.

    • In fact, The Kree/Skrull War was just republished this week in HC. 🙂

      But, to answer, I think all have been traded. I don’t know if all are still in print.

    • Yep, they’re all in collected editions, and you’ll see I linked to the Amazon listings for everything except the single issues– Avengers #4, #16, and #58– which can be found in the Masterworks or Essentials volumes. By the way, I should note that The Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators is an invaluable resource, and it even has a listing of every collection that each issue appears in. Here’s the listing for the Avengers:

      One surprising thing I discovered when trying to narrow down all the great Avengers stories… I considered Roger Stern’s “Ultimate Vision” storyline (where the Vision takes over all the world’s computers), and though I ultimately decided it didn’t make the Top 10, I was shocked to discover it’s never been collected! It’s all the more surprising when you realize that John Byrne’s Vision Quest from Avengers West Coast (which is a follow-up to that story) HAS been collected. Hopefully this will be remedied by Marvel’s Collections Department soon.

    • @ctrosejr: Thank you, sir.

      @Matt Adler: Good lookin’ out!

  16. Avengers 273 was my first Avengers comic (I thought the Black Knight looked cool on the cover). Up to that point I had only read Amazing Spider-man and the ever so Uncanny X-men. Under Siege launched me into the Marvel Universe as a whole and I never looked back. Even on re-read, Wasp’s “Now it’s our turn!” at the end of 275 makes me smile.

  17. I might quibble about some of the placements but I absolutely cannot fault your choices – great list, Matt. Every single one of these deserves to be read.

  18. Ha! Nothing from Bendis’ putrid, boring run! I can not wait till he is off the book!!!

    • Just disregard the above. It’s the ranting of a disgruntled Avengers fame. I like Bendis. On USM. But I’ve found his Avengers run very lacking. Now back to the awesome classic stories. Under Siege holds a place in my heart of heart. I was a young whipper-snapper when that came out and it was shocked at the brutality.

    • agreed.. Im a Bendis fan.. on non team books. With avengers and bendis i tryed and i couldnt stomach it. Most of the other Bendis stuff…. pretty spectacular.

    • iroberts007: Exactly!

  19. That Kurt Busiek/George Perez run was amazing.. Highly recommended.. Ultron Unlimited.. sweet to say the least!

  20. Great list! I would like to add the Graviton story from 158-159, and the Count Nefaria story from 164-166, but I don’t know if those have been collected yet. Those are part of the Perez run and just great stories that still hold up after all these years. I don’t agree with an earlier suggestion of including Breakout simply because its more current, if it’s not Top Ten material then it shouldn’t make the list of all time stories.

  21. I must read them all.

  22. Geoff Johns’ Red Zone and Roger Stern’s Under Siege are two of my favourites.
    I’ll check out some of these older stories I missed.

    • Red Zone is criminally overlooked, probably because the rest of John’s run is so bland. Fantastic Coipel art and some amazing character moments for Falcon, Black Panther, Cap and Henry Gyrich, of all people!

    • Panther VS Red Skull was legendary.

      I also loved the Standoff crossover co-written by Johns. 3 part story where Thor invades Latveria and Doom essentially orders Iron Man to stop him. Thor dents Cap’s shield, Iron Man upgrades to Uru Man, all drawn by Alan Davis. Fucking tight and completely overlooked.

    • Panther taking his gloves off in that scene is right up there in my Top 5 Comic Moments.

      “I’m going to break your jaw.”

  23. Thanks, articles like this is what every fanboy enjoys reading–like me. 🙂

  24. CAN ANYONE HELP ME?! Good I have your attention. I’d love to read the “Even An Android Can Cry!” story. Does anyone know where I can find it collected AND in color? Thanks!

  25. Solid but I’d have to put Kang Dynasty in there over a cpl of those.

    • I wasn’t reading Avengers [ or many books in 2002 ] Just went down an internet rabbit hole just now. That story sounds epic. Too bad comixology didn’t have it; i would have picked it up. I love Kang & Avengers stories.

  26. I would say that this is a perfect list. Classics, all.

    Has anyone ever actually read Avengers #4? I hadn’t until a few weeks ago and, Cap’s resurrection aside, BOY is it a weird one! Namor blackmails a broccoli-headed alien into turning the Avengers into statues? Old school Lee/Kirby madness at it’s finest!

  27. Avengers Forever so low on the list? I think it was far and away the best of Busiek’s Avengers stuff.

    Glad to see so many of the early classics made it on here. I was afraid #1 was going to be Disassembled, just to give Bendis a spot or whatever. I don’t hate all of his Avengers stuff, but none of it is even close to top ten material.

    Great list overall!