Who Wants to Be an Avenger?

This membership card was featured in the last issue of the original Marvel Universe encyclopedia series. Reagan was president then, but someone modified it on the Internets with Obama's signature. I never filled out either copy, never put my picture and code name on there. At one time, I might have. But today, would I?

The Avengers used to be a pretty select club. Oh there were dozens of Avengers by the time I picked up my first issue, but back in the 80s, there was a rule than an Avengers roster could only count 6 members. Even when they doubled the active Avengers by instituting a West Coast team (which I loved), each team could only have 6 members (Hawkeye did bend the rules for a while and had Hank Pym consulting as a 7th member). Back then, if a member left, another would have to be recruited, and that was exciting. Perhaps I knew I couldn't be one of the 6, so I never bothered with filling out the card.

But today, it's quite the opposite. The Avengers have a massive roster, with anyone and everyone being an Avenger, someone Steve Rogers and/or Tony Stark can call on in an emergency, and there's always an emergency. Even if that weren't true, the Avengers brand is so popular that multiple teams, some not even affiliated with the official ones, carry the Avengers name. There are secret Avengers, and new Avengers, and dark Avengers, and mighty Avengers, and young Avengers, and assembled Avengers, and an Avengers academy, and an Avengers arena, and pet Avengers, and 1959 Avengers, and uncanny Avengers, and undercover Avengers, and all-female Avengers, and a whole Avengers Universe! Avengers who should never have been Avengers, according to hallowed and unspoken rules, Avengers like Spider-Man and Wolverine, are, yes, Avengers!

So now that it's no real feat, now that a number of morts are part of the Avengers Initiative, morts who might even make the Great Lakes Avengers look silly, there just doesn't seem to be a point to filling out a membership card. If they need me, I'm sure they'll draft me, no card necessary. I can even go off and join another team; it doesn't matter.

I'll just sit here and remember the good old days when becoming an Avenger was difficult, and I probably couldn't have done it.


googum said...

So, the Avengers will take anyone, is what you're saying...

I like a lot of the deep-roster Avengers, though. Guys like Quasar or Triathlon, that might not be super-dramatic, but did their jobs: team players.

Siskoid said...

Yes, your avatar proves that ;-)

But I don't mind some of the B-players that were Avengers (I liked the Dr. Druid, Black Knight roster a lot), but these were still in exclusive teams. Dr. Druid was one of the six. So he counts. It's where there are more active superheroes in the Avengers than there are in the Legion of Super-Heroes that the team loses its luster for me.

Brendoon said...

Somehow I could never get fanatical with groups outside of the JLA. The Avengers comics didn't grab me quite the same, but I enjoyed 'em better than the X-Men and not as much as the fantastic four. Comics was comics as far as I was concerned and had to be read, but I think I may have secretly harboured a bent towards the DC supergroup... quite different world views between the Avengers and the JLA.

Siskoid said...

Do you have an unwritten rule about what the JLA SHOULD be, like I do the Avengers? Should it be the biggest and the best heroes as it was in the beginning? How does the Detroit team fare? International? JL Unlimited on the animated show?

American Hawkman said...

I have the one from WIZARD in my wallet now, and the stack that came with TSR's Avengers Archives downstairs.

Andrew said...

I'm of the opinion that an Avengers team works best when (a) most members aren't appearing in other books, and (b) at least one of Cap, Thor, and/or Iron Man are on the team.

Point a gives the creative team the freedom to pursue their own plots and character development without having to worry about coordinating with other creators who may have a stronger claim on a character.

Point b gives the team a presence from either one of the founders or the honorary founder (and best leader). Plus, the fact that each of them do generally have their own book can be used as a hook into the larger Marvel universe.

There is, meanwhile, at least some small bit of exclusivity regarding Avengers membership: Johnny Storm has still never been a card-carrying member.

CalvinPitt said...

I think I have two basic rules about Avengers. One, the team has to actually call themselves Avengers for it to count. Merely having the world on the cover don't mean jack spit. Like, I loved Avengers Arena, but most of those kids weren't Avengers. Maybe the ones form the Academy like Hazmat and Reptil, but some of the others like Cammi? No.

Two, once that's established, I will accept pretty much anyone as Avengers, as long as the creative team demonstrates what they bring to the table. Basically, just show them being helpful. The two exceptions were Wolverine and the Sentry, and the latter was mostly just because I hate the Sentry and never wanted to see him in any comics.

And for what it's worth, I'm actually intrigued by the idea of Deadpool as an Avenger, because I think it would mean a lot to him, and watching him try to live up to that in his own way could be interesting.

Siskoid said...

Andrew: I think those are pretty good rules for almost any team, yes. None of the core FF should probably ever have been Avengers, though I like the Thing in the mix because Two-in-One made him a natural teamer-upper. The Richards were in just about the worst Avengers combination ever.

Calvin: The only goof Sentry is the Silver Age Sentry. Age of the Sentry was very very fun. Everything else is terrible, of course.

Martin Gray said...

Exactly, great post - it used to be that 'who will be an Avenger?' was a thrilling question; now, they just reverse the question.


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