Today I’m excited to bring you a complete from-the-ground-up re-build and major update of one of the most-important guides to reading Marvel Comics from 2010 to present… Avengers flagship titles (2010 – present) – The Definitive Collecting Guide!
This massive update was made possible by Patrons of Crushing Krisis. It covers hundreds of issues across over 20 volumes of comics that have been collected in more than 250 different print editions, spanning four major eras of Avengers. Whether you want to buy collected editions, build a digital collection, or read as a Marvel Unlimited subscriber, this guide has you completely covered.
This guide begins in the wake of the 2010 Siege event, which ended a dire, villain-focused period of storytelling called “Dark Reign.” It also ended the era of Brian Bendis penning his New Avengers team as a street-level group of insurgents not anchored by the traditional trinity of Steve Rogers as Captain America, Tony Stark as Iron Man, and Thor the Odinson.
Marvel emerged from that period into the so-called “Heroic Age” just as their cinematic universe was beginning to take hold. For maximum brand synergy, the Heroic Age focused on having recognizable heroes engaged in massive action – often against classic villains.
Brian Bendis delivered that across a trio of flagship Avengers titles – Avengers (2010), New Avengers (2010), and Avengers Assemble (2012) – plus a special mini-series about the Avengers Trinity, Avengers Prime (2010).
Avengers vs. X-Men (2012) marked the end of this Heroic Age, pitting Marvel’s marquee teams against each other and passing the baton of being Marvel’s most-famous franchise from the mutants to the Avengers just in time for Marvel’s first Avengers film.
That kicked off Marvel Now, which saw Jonathan Hickman take the helm of Avengers (2012) and New Avengers (2013), steering them through his Infinity event in 2013 (and past Original Sin and AXIS) to the massive climax of Secret Wars (2015). Secret Wars not only ended Hickman’s run, but the entire Marvel Now era – and, seemingly, the entire Marvel Universe.
It was no mistake that the subsequent relaunch of Avengers by Mark Waid was called “All-New, All-Different Avengers” as the anchor of All-New All-Different Marvel. Much like Bendis originally did in 2004, Waid completely shook up the Avengers line-up to focus on so-called “Legacy” heroes – new characters picking up established heroic mantles. That included Sam Wilson as Captain America, Jane Foster as Thor, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, Sam Alexander as Nova, and Miles Morales as Spider-Man – to which Waid added Tony Stark and Vision as a pair of anchors.
At the same time, Al Ewing launched a side-team of New Avengers that included a middle generation left out of that Avengers squad, including former New Mutants Cannonball and Sunspot, Wiccan and Hulkling from Young Avengers, and other heroes like Squirrel Girl – all coached by Hawkeye and his former Thunderbolts teammate Songbird.
This new status quo didn’t last long, with Civil War II in 2016 and Secret Empire in 2017 breaking the allegiances of Waid’s intergenerational team as well as shaking Hawkeye free from the New Avengers. The All-New team split into a traditional Avengers squad and The Champions, while Ewing’s team continued as the patriotic U.S.Avengers while Hawkeye spun off into a semi-solo title, Occupy Avengers, by David Walker.
In late 2017, Marvel repeated the back-to-basics approach from their Heroic Age with “Marvel Legacy” – an era meant to recapture the attention of readers who had drifted away due to (ironically) two years focused on Legacy Heroes and major status quo changes. It was also meant to simplify following the major flagship Marvel titles, with Marvel renumbering all of its longstanding books to include issues from the Silver Age to present.
That meant Avengers was now in the late 600s of numbering. Starting with #675, Marvel collapsed the casts and creators all three of Avengers, U.S.Avengers, and Occupy Avengers (along with Uncanny Avengers) into a single weekly run called “No Surrender.”
After the re-centering of their Legacy period, Marvel slowly relaunched books into well-coordinated blockbuster runs as part of a “Marvel Fresh Start.” Avengers was one of the first titles in this relaunch, as Jason Aaron took the helm of a book that often shipped multiple times a month.
Aaron’s cast was deliberately kept familiar to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans – anchored by Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel, with a rotating cast of additional members including Doctor Strange, She-Hulk, Ghost Rider, Blade, Namor, and more. Every arc in this title is a huge, toyetic action beat as Aaron steers his cast through tie-ins to War of the Realms, past Empyre, and into his own alternate reality event, Heroes Rebron!
That brings us to the present day! Aaron continues to steer his run through this year’s major event, Avengers / X-Men / Eternals – A.X.E.: Judgment Day, which is helmed by the writer of the latter two franchises, Kieron Gillen.
Whether you want to gear up for A.X.E., or just read 12 years worth of Avengers flagship comics, my rebuilt, updated, and expanded guide to Avengers Flagships from 2010 to present is the place to start.