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Avengers

CURRENT MEMBERS: Luke Cage, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine
FORMER MEMBERS: Ant-Man (II), Beast, Black Knight (III), Black Panther, Black Widow (I), Captain Britain (Kelsey Leigh), Crystal, Darkhawk (Chris Powell), Demolition Man, Doctor Druid, Falcon (Sam Wilson), Firebird, Firestar, Gilgamesh (a.k.a. Forgotten One), Hawkeye, Hellcat, Hercules, Hulk, Human Torch (I), Invisible Woman, Jack of Hearts, Justice, Living Lightning (Miguel Santos), Machine Man, Mantis, Mister Fantastic, Mockingbird (Bobbi Batton), Moon Knight (Marc Spector), Moondragon (Heather Douglas), Photon (Morica Rambeau), Quasar (Wendell Vaughn), Quicksilver, Rage (Elvin Haliday), Sandman (William Baker), Scarlet Witch, Sersi, She-Hulk, Silverclaw (Lupe Santiago), Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Starfox (Eros of Titan), Stingray (Walt Newell), Sub-Mariner, Swordsman, Thing, Thor, Thunderstrike (Eric Masterson), Tigra (Greer Nelson), Triathlon (Delroy Garrett, Jr.), Two-Gun Kid, U.S.Agent, Vision, War Machine (I), Warbird, Wasp, Wonder Man, Hank Pym
HONORARY MEMBERS: Aleta (Aleta Ogord), Moira Brandon, Captain Marvel, Charlie-27, Deathcry, Iron Man (alternate-timeline teenage Tony Stark), Jocasta, Rick Jones, Magdalene, Marrina (Marrina Smallwood), Martinex (Martinex T'Naga), Masque (Whitney Frost bio-duplicate), Nikki (Nicholette Gold), Starhawk (Stakar Ogord), Swordsman (Phillip Jarvert), Vance Astro (alternate future Vance Astrovik), Whizzer (Bob Frank), Yellowjacket (Rita DeMara), Yondu (Yondu Udonta)
BASE OF OPERATIONS: Stark Tower, midtown Manhattan; formerly Avengers Mansion (a.k.a. Avengers Embassy), 890 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York; a deep space monitoring station in the asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter; Avengers Headquarters, Manhattan; Avengers Compound, Palos Verdes, California; Avengers Island (a.k.a. Hydrobase); Avengers Park, Manhattan; Avengers Emergency Headquarters, somewhere outside New York City.
FIRST APPEARANCE: Avengers #1 (1963)

HISTORY: They are Earth's mightiest heroes, formed to fight the foes no single hero could withstand. The Avengers are the most prestigious and powerful super-hero team in the world, an evershifting assemblage of super-beings, adventurers and crimefighters devoted to protecting the planet from menaces beyond the scope of conventional authorities. The group began with the random teaming of Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man (Hank Pym), Wasp and Hulk, who joined forces to thwart the Asgardian menace Loki in response to a call for help from Hulk's teen sidekick, Rick Jones. Pym suggested the heroes remain together as a team, and his partner Wasp suggested they call themselves "something colorful and dramatic, like ...the Avengers." The name stuck, and a legend was born.

Iron Man provided the group with financing and high-tech equipment in his dual identity as rich industrialist Tony Stark, donating his Manhattan residence to serve as their headquarters, Avengers Mansion. Stark's butler, Edwin Jarvis, stayed on as the mansion's principal servant and chief of staff, becoming a valued friend, confidant and advisor to the group. Stark also drew up a charter and by-laws to guide the team, and sought A-1 security clearance from the federal government; but he encountered resistance from the team's first National Security Council liaison, Special Agent Murch, and the general public regarded the new team somewhat uneasily. Much of this early skepticism focused on the monstrous Hulk, who soon quit the team in a fit of rage; but the group's image improved dramatically after they recruited long-lost war hero Captain America, who became the inspirational cornerstone of the Avengers. Thanks largely to his presence, the team won its A-1 security status and rapidly became the most respected super-hero team of its generation. This newfound prestige was sorely tested when the remaining founders retired from active duty for various personal reasons, leaving "Cap" alone to lead a roster of unlikely new recruits, all former criminals: the outlaw archer Hawkeye, and mutant terrorist twin siblings Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. The public was baffled, but Iron Man hoped that rehabilitating them might make up for the team's early failure with the Hulk. The new roster proved him right, and "Cap's Kooky Quartet" did the founders proud. All four of them went on to long service records with the Avengers. Hawkeye in particular became a valued mainstay of the team second only to his mentor, Cap.

Avengers membership proved very fluid over the years. Thor, Iron Man, Pym and Wasp would all return for further tours of duty, though the unstable Pym did so in a series of alternate identities as Giant-Man, Goliath (an identity also used temporarily by Hawkeye), Yellowjacket and Doctor Pym. The four returning founders would all serve stints as team leader, too, and the group produced a series of impressive leaders over the years, notably Captain America, Wasp, Hawkeye and Iron Man. New recruits during the team's early years included the Swordsman (exposed as a double agent and expelled), Hercules, the Black Panther, the android Vision, and the Black Knight. Alien hero Captain Mar-Vell became one of the team's staunchest allies during the cosmic Kree-Skrull War. The Black Widow joined the team after years as an unofficial ally. A reformed Swordsman rejoined alongside his enigmatic lover Mantis, though he died protecting her from Kang and she soon left Earth to fulfill her prophesied destiny as the Celestial Madonna. Moondragon, Beast, Hellcat and Two-Gun Kid became members, though all but Beast opted for reserve status; and the group attracted associates such as the aging speedster Whizzer, Wonder Man, the robotic Jocasta, the time-spanning 31st century Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ms. Marvel (later Warbird), all of whom helped the team oppose the mad man-god Korvac.

As the official ties between the Avengers and the United States government grew to the extent that Avengers computer system had direct access to contain U.S. governmental and military information networks, the National Security Council began to take a more active interest in the Avengers' internal affairs. In recent years, N.S.C. agent Henry Peter Gyrich was appointed to be the government's liaison with the Avengers. Gyrich instituted certain policies in the name of security, which restricted active membership in the group and tightened admission requirements. Prior to this point, the Avengers screened candidates for membership themselves, and were flexible enough in their membership requirements to allow non-citizens, gods, mutants, and even synthetic humans to join. Gyrich initiated a strict screening procedure for new members and even dictated Avengers membership according to government standards of equal opportunity employment. During this time Falcon and Ms. Marvel joinedthe team. Happily for the Avengers, Gyrich was eventually reassigned to Project: Wideawake. Gyrich was replaced by the more moderate Raymond Sikorsky, another N.S.C. agent, who would later betray the Avengers by aiding a government conspiracy against the Vision, and lifelong Avengers fan Duane Freeman, who was killed by Kang. Captain America instituted a six-member ceiling on membership during his stint as chairman. A humbled Gyrich would later redeem himself by serving admirably as the Avengers liaison to the United Nations. Meanwhile, the team continued to add new members such as Wonder Man, Tigra, She-Hulk, a new Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), and Starfox. Rambeau in particular proved to be one of the team's most formidable and respected members, later known as Photon.

When Vision was the chairman of the Avengers he petitioned the U.S. government to approve the establishment of a second team of active Avengers to be based on the West Coast. Getting official clearance, the Vision appointed Hawkeye to be the new team's chairman and sent him to Los Angeles, California, to set up a base of operations. The Avengers opened the second headquarters at Avengers Compound, manned by both Avengers veterans and new recruits like Hawkeye's wife Mockingbird, War Machine (who also served as an alternate Iron Man), Thing, Moon Knight, U.S.Agent, Firebird, Human Torch, Living Lightning, Spider-Woman (Carpenter), Machine Man, and Darkhawk. The western roster was led first and longest by Hawkeye, but the expansion team gradually deteriorated under later leaders and was shut down after major losses of resources and personnel. Regardless, the original eastern roster continued to grow, adding recruits such as Sub-Mariner, Doctor Druid, The Captain (actually a temporarily re-costumed Captain America), Demolition Man, Gilgamesh, Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Quasar, Sersi, Spider-Man, Stingray, Rage, Sandman, Crystal, Thunderstrike (who also served as an alternate Thor), Justice, Firestar, Triathlon, Silverclaw, Jack of Hearts, the new Ant-Man (Lang) and Captain Britain. Some of these served long stints, others only briefly, but all made some sort of mark with the team, as did more informal associates such as Marrina, a new Yellowjacket (DeMara), a new Swordsman (Jarvert), Magdalene, Deathcry, Masque and an alternate-timeline teenage Iron Man.

When it was learned that Vision planned to take benevolent control of the worlds governments, certain punitive measures were taken by the United States, despite the fact that Vision aborted his plan before it truly endangered anyone. The government has since limited the Avengers' access to security-related information, and has revoked various special sanctions, including the privilege of launching the supersonic Quinjets from their headquarters in Manhattan. The Avengers have joined with the Fantastic Four, whose Manhattan launch privileges were also rescinded, to establish a joint airbase in the Atlantic Ocean just outside of U.S. territorial limits. The operations of the West Coast Avengers have been curtailed in regard to government sanctions but not airspace rights.

The group suffered setbacks, going through many changes of leadership and several changes of headquarters, losing various members and even disbanding more than once (most notably following disastrous conflicts with Terminatrix and Onslaught), but the team always regrouped in some form or another, continuing to evolve and grow. Few heroes refused offers of Avengers membership, though allies who did decline the honor included Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Spider-Woman (Drew), Silver Surfer, Archangel, Iceman, Dazzler, Black Cat, Doc Samson, Shroud and Songbird.

The original Avengers were destroyed by a threat from within, when an insane Scarlet Witch turned against the team. Hawkeye, Vision, Jack of Hearts and Ant-Man (Lang) were all apparently slain, Avengers Mansion was destroyed, Tony Stark's fortune was too depleted to rebuild, and the remaining members disbanded; however, this was not the end. Months later, after teaming with Iron Man, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman (Drew), Daredevil and Sentry to contain a mass breakout at the super-criminal prison known as the Raft, Captain America invited his six allies to join him in rebuilding the Avengers. Most of them accepted, though Daredevil declined and the unstable Sentry had gone into seclusion. Leading intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. was reluctant to sanction a new Avengers team, but Captain America reminded them that his "full champion license" status with the government gives him the authority to assemble any team he requires for any given mission, so he required no approval from the authorities to reassemble the Avengers. Iron Man offered the top floors of his new Stark Tower skyscraper to serve as the team's high-tech headquarters (staffed by ever-faithful Jarvis), and the group resolved to capture the forty-odd Raft escapees - starting with Sauron, the prisoner whose liberation by Electro had touched off the jailbreak. Capturing Electro and tracking Sauron to the Savage Land, the new Avengers have teamed with Wolverine to oppose a conspiracy involving Sauron's Savage Land Mutates and an apparently rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. faction.

SIGNIFICANT ISSUES:
Origin (Avengers #1, 1963/Earth's Mightiest Heroes #1-8, 2005)
fought Doctor Doom (Avengers #1 1/2, 1999)
recruited Captain America (Avengers #4, 1964)
Cap's Kooky Quartet (Avengers #16, 1965)
recruited Vision (Avengers #57-58, 1968)
wedding of Pym and Wasp (Avengers #60, 1968)
Avengers-Defenders War (Avengers #115-118 & Defenders #7-11, 1973)
Swordsman killed (Giant-Size Avengers #2, 1974)
Kang/Serpent Crown conflicts, roster overhaul (Avengers #141-144 & 147-151, 1975-1976)
Korvac Saga (Avengers #167-168 & 170-177, 1978)
fall of Hank Pym (Avengers #212-213 & 217,1981-1982)
Monica Rambeau recruited, Pym redeemed (Avengers #227-230, 1983)
western roster established (West Coast Avengers #1-4, 1984)
siege by Helmut Zemo's Masters (Avengers #270-271 & 273-277, 1986-1987)
Lost in Space-Time saga (West Coast Avengers #17-24, 1987)
western roster disbanded (Avengers West Coast #102, 1994)
Destiny War (Avengers Forever #1-12, 1998-2000)
team wrecked by Scarlet Witch (Avengers #500-503, 2004)
new team formed, Wolverine recruited (New Avengers #1-6, 2005)

NOTE: Updated using information from The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe: Teams 2005

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