The team debuted in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963). Much like the Justice League, the Avengers were an assemblage of pre-existing superhero characters created by Lee and Jack Kirby. This initial series, published bi-monthly through issue #6 (July 1964) and monthly thereafter ran through issue #402 (Sept. 1996), with spinoffs including several annuals, miniseries and a giant-size quarterly sister series that ran briefly in the mid-1970s.
Other spinoff series include West Coast Avengers, initially published as a four-issue miniseries in 1984, followed by a 102-issue series (Oct. 1985–Jan. 1994), retitled Avengers West Coast with #47; and the 40-issue Solo Avengers (Dec.1987–Jan. 1991), retitled Avengers Spotlight with #21.
Between 1996 and 2004, Marvel relaunched the primary Avengers title three times. In 1996, the “Heroes Reborn” line took place in an alternate universe, with a revamped history unrelated to mainstream Marvel continuity.
The Avengers vol. 3 relaunched and ran for 84 issues from February 1998 to August 2004. To coincide with what would have been the 500th issue of the original series, Marvel changed the numbering, and The Avengers #500-503 (Sept.– Dec. 2004), the one-shot Avengers Finale (Jan. 2005) became the “Avengers Disassembled” storyline and final issues. In January 2005, a new version of the team appeared in the ongoing title The New Avengers, followed by The Mighty Avengers, Avengers: The Initiative, and Dark Avengers. Avengers vol. 4 debuted in July 2010 and ran until January 2013. Vol. 5 was launched in February 2013. After Secret Wars, a new Avengers team debuted, dubbed the All-New, All-Different Avengers, starting with a Free Comic Book Day preview.
When the Asgardian god Loki seeks revenge against his brother Thor, his machinations unwittingly lead teenager Rick Jones to collect Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man to help Thor and the Hulk, whom Loki used as a pawn. After the group vanquished Loki, Ant-Man stated that the five worked well together and suggested they form a team; the Wasp named the group Avengers.
The roster changed almost immediately; at the beginning of the second issue, Ant-Man became Giant-Man, and at the end of the issue, the Hulk left once he realized how much the others feared his unstable personality. Captain America soon joined the team in issue #4, and he was given “founding member” status in the Hulk’s place. The Avengers went on to fight foes such as Baron Zemo, who formed the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Wonder Man, and Count Nefaria.
The next milestone came when every member but Captain America resigned; they were replaced by three former villains: Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. Giant-Man, now calling himself Goliath, and the Wasp rejoined. Hercules became part of the team, while the Black Knight, and the Black Widow, abetted the Avengers but did not become members until years later. Spider-Man was offered membership but did not join the group. The Black Panther joined after rescuing the team from the Grim Reaper and Klaw. The X-Men #45 (June 1968) featured a crossover with The Avengers #53 (June 1968). This was followed by the introduction of the android the Vision. Pym assumed the new identity of Yellowjacket in issue #59, and married the Wasp the following month.
The Avengers headquarters was in a New York City building called Avengers Mansion, courtesy of Tony Stark (Iron Man’s real identity). The mansion was serviced by Edwin Jarvis, the Avengers’ faithful butler, and furnished with state of the art technology and defense systems, and included the Avengers’ primary mode of transport: the five-engine Quinjet.
The prequel comic Avengers #1 1/2 (Dec. 1999), by writer Roger Stern and artist Bruce Timm, told a retro-style story taking place between issues #1 and #2, detailing Ant-Man’s decision to transform himself into Giant-Man.