Since their creation, the Avengers have always been called ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’, and for a long time, they lived up to that name. However, at some point, Marvel’s flagship team began to take somewhat of a backseat in the world of Marvel. Sure, they were still involved in some of the biggest storylines in Marvel history, always would be, but it had been a long time since they were considered the top team for Marvel, often being outshined by either the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and several others. That was, until Bendis was put on the Avengers titles, and Marvel, as well as the rest of the comic book world, was never the same again.
Brian’s first story with the Avengers was the now famous Avengers Disassembled, where the Avengers roster was shaken to its core, Scarlet Witch going mad and destroying the Avengers Mansion, killing Hawkeye and Scott Lang in the process. This event, which also saw Tony Stark get into some serious hot water and She-Hulk destroy Vision, disbanded the Avengers, making way for a new book and a new team, entitled, New Avengers, a book where Brian would stay and write for the next eight years, along with sister book The Mighty Avengers which only further expand the team.
I asked Marvel Editor Tom Breevort about how Brian ended up writing the Avengers, and he told me, “The idea for doing what became New Avengers happened at one of our creative retreats. At a certain point, Mark Millar advocated that Avengers should feature all of Marvel’s biggest characters, including guys like Spider-Man and Wolverine. By the next day, Brian had thought about this and come in with his pitch for the series.”
Under Brian’s loving hand, the Avengers’ roster was expanded massively, including the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Thing, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman and literally dozens more. He helmed such projects as House of M, whose events lead to the depopulation of the mutant race, drastically changing the Marvel Universe as he went. As the years passed, more epic stories were written, including Secret Invasion, which lead to the Dark Reign era of Marvel, renaming the book Dark Avengers and letting Norman Osborn take centre stage as the team’s leader. Finally, he penned the crossover event Siege, which saw Osborn’s downfall and the Avengers’ return to glory.
From there, Brian would pen another Avengers title simply named Avengers, using the book to further the storylines he had already established. It all came to a head in 2012, where nearly a decade of work on the Avengers lead to Avengers vs X-Men, where Brian would write (alongside fellow comic greats Ed Brubaker, Jonathon Hickman, Matt Fraction, and Jason Aaron) to single biggest event in Marvel history up to that point. Depicting a massive conflict between the Avengers and the X-Men, the return/destruction of the Phoenix, the undoing of Scarlet Witch’s “No More Mutants” spell, and the death of Charles Xavier, AVX was a masterpiece, Brian helping craft one of the most important storylines in company history, changing the shape of the Marvel Universe once again.
I asked Tom Breevort about how important Brian was for that decade in Marvel, and he stated, “...Brian’s time on New Avengers was hugely important–it brought the spotlight back to the main Marvel U from the Ultimate U, and primed fan excitement such that doing films on Iron Man or Thor or Avengers seemed viable. He made Avengers the top franchise again.”
Brian’s last work on the Avengers was for the first eight issues of Avengers Assemble, bringing back Thanos, the Zodiac, and finally the Guardians of the Galaxy, whom he would be taking over writing duties for by the following year. While that particular book was given to them mega-talented Kelly Sue Deconnick, Brian handed the custodianship of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ main books over the capable hands of Jonathon Hickman, who had quite a run himself if I may say so myself. However, his contributions on the book will be forever felt and appreciate by all comic book fans. The stories that Brian crafted are considered some of the greatest in company history, a feat nearly unmatched by any other writer to have passed through that company since its inception. Simply put, Brian’s run on Avengers reshaped the Marvel Universe as we know, and helped bring Marvel back to the forefront of the comic book world, and may indeed be his greatest accomplishment.