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History

History

The Norse God Loki was trapped by his father, Odin, after suffering defeat at the hands of his brother, Thor. However, even captivity could not quell Loki’s lust for vengeance, and he remotely used his powers to frame the Hulk for nearly destroying a passenger train. While Loki hoped to engineer a battle between Thor and the Hulk, Hulk’s ally Rick Jones and his friends sent out a distress signal that was answered by Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp, as well as Thor himself.

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Hulk battled the heroes to a standstill, but Thor quickly sensed his brother’s hands in these events. Thor left the fight to confront Loki, and he returned to Earth with his brother to proclaim the Hulk’s innocence. Loki’s attempt to break free was thwarted by the assembled heroes. Before they parted ways, Ant-Man suggested that they remain together as a powerful force of good. Iron Man, Thor, and even Hulk readily agreed, while the Wasp named the team “the Avengers.”

 

Some Assembly Required

 

Unlike many Super Hero teams, the Avengers have largely embraced a highly structured dynamic, with a leader/chairperson who charts their collective path in battle and in peace. Almost all of the founding members have taken their turn as the team’s leader, with Captain America, Iron Man, and the Wasp emerging as arguably the Avengers’ most gifted commanders. When necessary, the Avengers have also held court-martials to discipline members who stepped out of line. Not even the founding members were immune, as Hank Pym/Ant-Man faced expulsion from the team he helped create.

 

For most of their existence, the Avengers have also operated with government oversight as the officially sanctioned heroes of the United States of America, as well as a broader mandate under S.H.I.E.L.D. and the United Nations. The primary Avengers team has largely continued to maintain those ties, while the splinter groups have tended to operate under their own authority. 

 

Bring on the Bad Guys

 

The Avengers’ strength has always invited challenge by the forces of evil. During one of the team’s earliest adventures, Kang the Conqueror traveled from the far future to personally defeat the Avengers. A short time later, Kang’s future self, Immortus, arrived and presented his own challenge to the team. Both Kang and Immortus have gone on to become two of the Avengers’ most powerful foes, although the two have also waged war upon each other in their never-ending bid for dominance.

 

One of the Avengers’ greatest threats is Ultron, who was actually created by an Avenger. Originally a benign experimental robot built by Hank Pym, Ultron rejected his creator and rebuilt himself with a nearly indestructible android body. Ultron tries to wipe out humanity several times; and he has even massacred the entire country of Slorenia. Since Ultron was merged with Pym, he has gone on to become an even more dangerous threat.

 

The first Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil were another early threat to the Avengers. The second Baron Zemo keeps the family tradition alive with his own team of Masters. While the younger Baron’s plans fail, he is able to transform his Masters into the Thunderbolts, a team of villains pretending to be heroes. Even though the Thunderbolts usurp Zemo’s control, they are briefly able to supplant the Avengers’ role with the government following the Onslaught incident. 

 

Thanos, Ronan the Accuser, the Supreme Intelligence, Korvac, and the Skrulls alll test the Avengers on a cosmic scale, but there are no shortage of villains for the team on Earth. Count Nefaria, Klaw, Grim Reaper, the Hood, and countless others have crossed paths with the Avengers. Even Doctor Doom, arguably the world’s deadliest villain, has known defeat at the Avengers’ hands.

 

Friends and Family

 

No one has been more resolute in their support of the Avengers than Edwin Jarvis. Jarvis is the Stark family butler, who served Tony Stark when he was a boy. When Stark donates his family’s mansion to house the Avengers, Jarvis remains in his role and applies his many skills to aid the Avengers in any way possible. Jarvis has even been a confidant and father-figure to the younger members. No less than Captain America has said that Jarvis should be considered an Avenger in his own right.

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Among the larger Super Hero community, the Fantastic Four have been the Avengers’ most loyal allies. In fact, all of the founding Fantastic Four members have subsequently joined the Avengers at different points in time. The Avengers have a more complex relationship with the X-Men. In their earliest days, the Avengers and X-Men struggled to find common ground. While the teams were eventually able to come together, they were also locked in a destructive conflict when the Phoenix Force returned to Earth. Since then, the Avengers Unity Squad has invited members of the X-Men to join and bridge the gap between them.

 

Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. have also been fairly reliable friends and allies to the Avengers, although that has drastically changed over the years. The original Nick Fury is out of the picture, and his son, Nick Fury, Jr., doesn’t quite have the same connection to the team. However, the younger Fury has served alongside a team of Secret Avengers for covert missions. 

 

The History of the Avengers

 

According to some legends, the Avengers legacy dates back to 1,000,000 BC, when Odin, Agamotto, and Phoenix, along with early incarnations of Black Panther, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, and Star Brand, united to save the world from the renegade Celestial known as the Fallen. During the ‘50s, Nick Fury assembled his own team of Avengers to take down the last of the Third Reich. However, the true origin of the Avengers as the world would know them came at the dawn of the modern heroic age. Shortly after Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, and the Wasp made their public debuts as Super Heroes, they answered a distress call from Rick Jones to help locate the Hulk.

 

After realizing that Thor’s evil brother, Loki, was responsible for framing Hulk, the assembled heroes pooled their efforts and emerged victorious. At Ant-Man’s suggestion, the five heroes agreed to form a team, and Wasp quickly named them “the Avengers.” During one of their earliest adventures, the team fought Doctor Doom and Hank Pym abandoned his Ant-Man persona to become Giant-Man.

 

The team’s unity was short-lived, as the Space Phantom’s assault revealed the deep distrust the heroes had for the Hulk. Namor and the Hulk even teamed up to attack the Avengers, which inadvertently led to the discovery of Captain America’s frozen body. The Avengers revived Cap and invited him to join their ranks, which he accepted, going on to become one of their core members. Together, the Avengers took on even more dangerous threats like the Lava Men, Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, and Immortus. Zemo also turned disgraced industrialist Simon Williams into Wonder Man in a bid to destroy the Avengers. However, Williams sided with the Avengers and seemingly died a hero.

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For various personal reasons, the founding Avengers left the team in the hands of Captain America and three reformed villains: Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. The dubious press dubbed the team “Cap's Kooky Quartet,” but they eventually overcame their inner turmoil while keeping the Avengers’ spirit alive. Hawkeye’s former mentor, the Swordsman, was briefly planted on the team as a spy by the Mandarin. Although Swordsman betrayed his teammates, he prevented Mandarin from killing the Avengers before leaving their ranks. Over time, Pym returned to the team as Goliath alongside the Wasp and new members Hercules and Black Panther.

 

During a lab experiment, Pym’s artificially intelligent robot, Ultron, turned on its creator and erased the memory of his creation. This exacerbated Pym’s fragile mental state, and he eventually had a full breakdown. Ultron’s emergence also led to the creation of Vision, an android made with the body of the original Human Torch and the recorded brainwaves of Simon Williams. Although Vision initially sided with his creator against the Avengers, he ultimately choose a heroic path as a member of the team.

 

The mentally unbalanced Pym took on yet another masked identity, Yellowjacket, while acting as though he were a completely different person and demanding a place on the Avengers after claiming to have murdered Pym. The Wasp saw through this deception and Pym’s mental collapse and, to the surprise of her teammates, married Yellowjacket in an impromptu ceremony. Following an attack by the Circus of Crime, Pym regained his senses and his new union with the Wasp was upheld.  

 

Alongside the renegade Kree known as Mar-Vell, the Avengers were drawn into an intergalactic war between the Kree and the Skrull empires. The Kree-Skrull War was far more complex than any previous crisis faced by the team, and the shapeshifting Skrulls even managed to disband the Avengers from within. Against the backdrop of this drama, the Scarlet Witch and Vision found themselves drawn into an unlikely romance. This conflict came to an end when the Kree Supreme Intelligence unlocked hidden powers within Rick Jones which exposed the Skrull infiltration on Earth.

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Secretly, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Namor, and Professor Charles Xavier formed a group known as the Illuminati and confronted the Skrull Emperor shortly after the Kree-Skrull War concluded. What was intended as a show of power spectacularly backfired, as the heroes were captured and subjected to experiments. Despite their escape, the Skrull used the intelligence they gained from the heroes to hatch an invasion plan they would secretly undertake for several years. 

 

Back on Earth, the Avengers’ roster continued to expand with the likes of Black Widow, Mantis, Beast, Moondragon, and Hellcat, and even an honorary membership for the time-traveling cowboy hero known as the Two-Gun Kid. Kang the Conqueror took a particular interest in Mantis, as she was destined to become the Celestial Madonna and give birth to the savior of the universe. The Swordsman reformed and rejoined the team during this period and soon fell hard for Mantis, but he lost his life defending her from Kang’s plans. An alien Cotati reanimated the Swordsman’s body, allowing him to wed Mantis in a double marriage ceremony with Scarlet Witch and Vision. Afterwards, Mantis and the Swordsman departed the planet.

 

Years after his death, Wonder Man was successfully revived and offered a place among the Avengers. Around the same time, Ultron kidnapped the Wasp and brainwashed Pym in a bid to transfer her mind into an android body. While the Avengers saved the Pyms, the female android known as Jocasta gained a life of her own. Like the Vision before her, Jocasta turned on Ultron and joined the Avengers.

 

As the Avengers roster grew to include Ms. Marvel, the team encountered the Guardians of the Galaxy from the far future and were drawn into their quest to stop the all-powerful Michael Korvac. But, even the combined might of the two teams couldn’t withstand Korvac’s assault. Luckily, a momentary sense of doubt from Korvac’s lover, Carina, led Korvac to give up his life and his powers. Soon after, Ms. Marvel was mysteriously pregnant with a child she called Marcus. As he rapidly grew to adulthood, Marcus claimed to be Ms. Marvel’s lover from Limbo. Despite Marcus’ admission that he essentially brainwashed Ms. Marvel, the Avengers allowed them to leave for Limbo together, an act they would later come to terribly regret.

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Hank Pym’s mental state rapidly declined in the weeks that followed. After an unprovoked attack on Linnea the Elfqueen while Captain America was attempting to reason with her, Pym was court-martialed by his fellow Avengers. Pym compounded the situation by building an invincible robot only he could stop to interrupt his trial, believing it would make him look like a hero. When the Wasp discovered Pym’s plans, he struck her and forced her to go along with his ruse. In the end, Wasp exposed Pym’s actions and he left the team in disgrace. Pym’s nemesis, Egghead, used the opportunity to frame Pym for theft as well. The Avengers eventually cleared Pym’s name of that crime, but he retired from all of his various heroic personas.

 

She-Hulk, Starfox, and the second Captain Marvel helped fill the void left by Pym’s departure, as Wasp began to take more of a leadership role. But when most of the Avengers were abducted to Battleworld for the Beyonder’s Secret Wars, Vision took control of the remaining members on Earth. Vision also made a connection with the supercomputer ISAAC on Titan— one of Saturn’s moons and home to Starfox’s branch of the Eternals. Even after the Avengers returned, Vision’s corrupted programming led him to take over every computer on Earth. Scarlet Witch and the rest of the team eventually convinced Vision to back down, and he left the Avengers to start a family with his wife.

 

One of Vision’s most lasting legacies as team leader was the creation of the West Coast Avengers. Hawkeye was given his own Avengers team to run out of Los Angeles, and he recruited his new wife, Mockingbird, along with Wonder Man, Tigra, and the second Iron Man (James Rhodes) to round out the team’s initial membership. Scarlet Witch and Vision also accompanied the West Coast Avengers in their early days, before the couple was blessed by the unlikely birth of two children: William and Thomas.

 

On the east coast, the second Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil laid out a carefully constructed plan to destroy the original Avengers team by taking over the mansion. Ignoring the warnings of Wasp and Captain America, Hercules charged into a trap and was nearly beaten to death. As the only member uncaptured, Wasp received a timely assist from the second Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Doctor Druid, and Thor. Once the Masters were defeated, both Wasp and Ant-Man departed, while Hercules was abducted from his hospital room by Hermes.

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Hercules’ father, Zeus, blamed the Avengers, and the Wasp in particular, for his son’s condition. Following a war in Olympus, the team was able to partially restore Hercules and convince Zeus of their innocence. In the aftermath, Captain Marvel assumed control of the team while Druid subtly undermined her efforts and had himself named leader in her place. Druid was under the mental influence of Ravonna/Terminatrix, and his short tenure nearly led to the team’s doom. Once Druid was exposed and seemingly lost in Limbo, the east coast Avengers dissolved completely. 

 

Shortly thereafter, during a demonic invasion of New York, Steve Rogers (during his time as the red, white and black-clad “The Captain”), Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Thor, and Gilgamesh the Forgotten One became an offbeat new team of Avengers to save Franklin Richards and close the portal to Limbo. A short time later, the West Coast Avengers dealt with the Vision’s abduction and deconstruction by an international alliance who feared another takeover attempt. Pym was able to rebuild Vision’s body, but he couldn’t restore the emotions Vision once felt. Williams also refused to share his brainwave patterns again, because he had romantic feelings for Scarlet Witch.

 

In response to losing her husband and the bond they once shared, Scarlet Witch slowly suffered until she had a severe mental breakdown, which was made worse when her sons were revealed to be aspects of the demon lord Mephisto. To save the Avengers, the memories of Thomas and William were wiped from Scarlet Witch’s mind. Magneto took advantage of Scarlet Witch’s state of mind to bring her into a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but the true architect of her downfall was Immortus. For years, Immortus manipulated Scarlet Witch to use her reality warping power, but he was ultimately thwarted by the Avengers. In time, her powers returned and Scarlet Witch resumed her place on the team.

 

Operation: Galactic Storm brought together both Avengers teams to deal with the Kree-Shi'ar War. To the heroes’ horror, the Supreme Intelligence successfully allowed a Nega-Bomb to detonate in the hope it would force the Kree to evolve beyond their genetic dead end. Billions of Kree perished in the explosion, leaving the Avengers divided about how to punish the Supreme Intelligence for its actions. Iron Man and a few dissenting Avengers openly disobeyed Cap’s orders by attempting to execute the Supreme Intelligence. The resulting rift left the team divided as they returned to Earth.

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A few months after the Kree-Shi'ar War, the Avengers’ west coast branch was drawn into a war between Mephisto and Satannish which appeared to claim the life and soul of Mockingbird. Distraught by the loss of his wife, Hawkeye left the team. Shortly thereafter, the divisions from Operation: Galactic Storm resurfaced when the original Avengers voted to disband the west coast team entirely. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, U.S. Agent, Wonder Man, and the second Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) left the Avengers to form Force Works. However, Force Works quickly imploded, with most of its members rejoining the Avengers soon after. 

 

Sometime later, Iron Man killed the second Yellowjacket (Rita DeMara) and turned on his teammates, apparently under the control of Kang and Mantis. To counter their former friend, the Avengers recruited a teenage Tony Stark from an alternate timeline. The original Tony Stark eventually broke free from his programming and sacrificed his life to defeat Kang. Years later, it was revealed that the entire incident was an elaborate ruse constructed by Immortus, including the Space Phantoms who posed as Mantis and Kang.

 

In the aftermath, the Avengers were drawn into conflict with Onslaught, an immensely powerful psionic being created by the consciousness of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Each attempt to stop Onslaught only seemed to make him even deadlier. When the Hulk destroyed Onslaught’s physical armor, he was briefly vulnerable in his energy form. Almost all of the non-mutant heroes among the Avengers and Fantastic Four sacrificed themselves to disrupt and seemingly destroy Onslaught. However, Franklin Richards subconsciously saved the assembled heroes and placed them in an alternate universe.

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As one of the few remaining Avengers left behind, Black Widow proved to be unable to hold the team together. In the other universe, the heroes lived through events similar to their true past before they were freed and allowed to resume their lives on the real Earth. Franklin Richards also restored Tony Stark to his true self by combining the adult version he’d created in the other universe with his teenage counterpart. The reunited Avengers invited Justice and Firestar into their ranks, as well as later additions including Triathlon and Silverclaw. Former Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, also returned to the team as Warbird.

 

Although Wasp and Hank Pym had remained involved with the team as reserve members, they soon took on a much more prominent role as the Avengers became a global strike force. Pym was even able to reconcile his different personas and resume his Yellowjacket identity. However, Kang arrived from the future with an ultimatum. When the nations of Earth refused his offer to “save” them, Kang successfully conquered the world and imprisoned most of the Super Hero population. The remaining heroes organized a resistance, while Captain America and a small team of Avengers took the battle directly to Kang. In the end, Kang was utterly defeated and temporarily imprisoned.

 

The Avengers’ triumph over Kang led them to be recognized as their own sovereign power under the United Nations. However, this era came to an abrupt end when Scarlet Witch learned about her long-forgotten children and went insane. With her powers spiraling out of control, Scarlet Witch created magical versions of previous threats faced by the team which seemingly killed Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Hawkeye, and Vision. After her defeat, Magneto spirited Scarlet Witch away to Genosha so she could be treated by Charles Xavier.

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With their dead buried and their mandate gone, the Avengers once again disbanded. But months later, a new Avengers team was born during a mass escape attempt at the Super Villain prison known as the Raft. Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, and the Sentry successfully put down the breakout and riot that followed. Later, they were joined by Wolverine as an unconventional team designed to face modern threats. After their official debut, the new Avengers met with the X-Men to determine the fate of the Scarlet Witch. Fearful that the heroes would murder his sister, Quicksilver convinced Scarlet Witch to remake the world into a paradise for mutants.

 

This new world couldn’t stand under the weight of the lies and illusions used to bend reality. But in the process, Hawkeye was returned to life after Scarlet Witch allowed the real world to return. Soon after, the new Avengers were torn apart by the Superhuman Registration Act, with Iron Man leading the pro-registration heroes while Cap mounted a resistance movement. The Super Hero Civil War proved to be destructive for both sides, and Cap ultimately surrendered to Iron Man before he was seemingly murdered on the way to his trial.

 

Once again, the Avengers were splintered into two groups. Luke Cage led one unsanctioned team, while adding Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, and Echo to his team. In turn, Iron Man formed a new official team of Avengers, with Ms. Marvel (once again using her original codename) as the leader, alongside Black Widow, Wonder Man, Ares, and the Wasp. Spider-Woman switched teams when the group led by Cage uncovered evidence of a Skrull invasion. It was later revealed that she was the Skrull Queen who had impersonated the real Spider-Woman for months.

 

Heroes and villains united to stop the Skrull’s long-planned secret invasion, but the Wasp’s life was seemingly claimed by a Skrull bioweapon. Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, took advantage of the chaos that followed and he was named the leader of H.A.M.M.E.R., an organization that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. as the nation’s counterterrorism agency. During his Dark Reign, Osborn formed his own team of Avengers, including Venom, Moonstone, Daken, and Bullseye, as well as Ares and Sentry. Meanwhile, Ms. Marvel joined Cage’s Avengers and the other surviving heroes went further underground.

 

 

 

To honor his fallen ex-wife, Pym adopted her powers and her Wasp codename as his own while leading his own Avengers team into battle, while Cap’s former partner, Bucky Barnes, assumed the role Captain America with the blessing of both Falcon and Iron Man. Months later, Steve Rogers was revealed to still be alive and both Caps were present when Osborn lost full control of his sanity and declared war on Asgard, which was located on Earth outside of Broxton, Oklahoma at the time.

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During the siege that followed, Sentry lost control of his dark half, the Void, and murdered Ares before bringing Asgard crashing to the ground. Exposed as a madman, Osborn’s power was broken and he was arrested. Although earlier events had broken the bond between Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, the three former teammates shared an otherworldly adventure that restored their friendship and allowed them to move past their enmity.

 

This relative peace which followed was fairly short. The Avengers discovered the Phoenix Force was returning to Earth to claim Hope Summers, the teenage mutant messiah, as its new host. The X-Men’s Cyclops violently disagreed with the Avengers’ tactics, which led to a war between the two teams. It was Cyclops himself who became the new Phoenix host, alongside four of his teammates. The Phoenix Five easily overpowered most of the Avengers and began remaking the world in their image. When the X-Men and the Avengers resisted, the possessed Cyclops murdered his mentor, Charles Xavier. A restored Scarlet Witch and Hope were instrumental in taking the Phoenix from Cyclops and restoring the potential for more mutants to emerge in the world. Soon after, the Wasp was revealed to be alive in the Microverse and she returned to Earth.

 

Eager to bridge the divide between humanity and mutants, Captain America formed the Avengers Unity Squad with Havok, Thor, Rogue, Wolverine, and Scarlet Witch. Meanwhile, the main Avengers team expanded in scope beyond planet Earth, while the Illuminati reformed to face the imminent destruction of the multiverse. Iron Man and the rest of the Illuminati even stripped Cap of his memories about the threat, because they knew he would oppose their willingness to let other worlds die for the sake of their own.

 

The Watcher’s death allowed Cap to regain his stolen memories, which led to an all-out war between the Avengers and the Illuminati. While cooler heads prevailed before the end of everything, the assembled heroes were unable to stop the universal destruction as an alternate world invaded their own. Using near infinite power, Doctor Doom merged existence into a single Battleworld, with remnants of the original multiverse. The Avengers and many other heroes came together in the last battle to reclaim their lives, but it was Mr. Fantastic who bested Doom and restored the multiverse.

 

After the universe was reformed, a long missing copy of Ultron returned to Earth. As Ultron attempted to convert humanity into androids under his control, he was accidentally merged with his creator, Hank Pym, before fleeing into space. Following Pym’s funeral, the Avengers reformed with a new team of next generation heroes, including Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), and Nova (Sam Alexander), as well as Thor (Jane Foster), Iron Man, and the latest Captain America, Sam Wilson. 

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The Unity Squad came under the leadership of Rogue as its mandate grew to include improving Inhuman relations with both humans and mutants. Meanwhile, Sunspot (Roberto da Costa) used his vast wealth to buy Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) and transform them into Avengers Idea Mechanics. Sunspot’s team was initially at odds with the American government, before eventually agreeing to bring them under the U.S. military’s purview as the American Intelligence Mechanics.

 

A second superhuman Civil War broke out over the Inhuman known as Ulysses, who had a remarkably accurate ability to predict the future. Iron Man and Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) led two opposing sides against each other, while Steve Rogers subtly played both of them. Months earlier, Rogers was altered by Kobik (a sentient Cosmic Cube), who transformed him into Hydra’s ultimate sleeper agent. When Iron Man was gravely injured in the conflict, “Hydra Cap” used the opportunity to take over S.H.I.E.L.D. and set the stage for his own Secret Empire.

 

Disillusioned with their older counterparts, the young heroes left the Avengers and formed their own team: the Champions. Meanwhile, Hydra Cap successfully pulled off a coup which left him in control of most of the world, with the heroes helpless to stop him. A small piece of Captain America’s original self survived in a psychic realm, and he was given physical form by Kobik to defeat his Hydra counterpart in the final battle.

 

A cosmic game between the Grandmaster and the Challenger pit the Black Order and the new Lethal Legion against each other, with all three Avengers teams attempting to save their world and restore the Earth to its proper place in the heavens. Following their victory, the Avengers were redefined as a single team once more with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Doctor Strange, and Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes).

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