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There came a day, unlike any other, when Earth's Mightiest Heroes found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born -- to fight the foes no single hero could withstand. The team's roster has prospered through the years, changing many times, but the Avengers' glory is ever undeniable. Heed the call, then -- for now, the Avengers Assemble!

Base of operations: Avengers Mansion, New York City
First appearance: Avengers (Vol. 1) #1 (1963)

History: A handful of Earth's foremost superhuman adventurers were united by chance when Loki, Asgardian God of Mischief, attempted to discredit the green-skinned behemoth known as the Incredible Hulk. Odin's second son hoped to draw his heroic foster brother -- Thor, Norse God of Thunder -- into battle. Hulk's ally, teenager Rick Jones, dispatched a help message to the fabled Fantastic Four, Earth's first family of super heroes. But Loki intercepted the distress call and redirected it to Thor. Inadvertently, the summons also fell into the hands of three other heroes: the armored Iron Man, and the diminutive Ant-Man and Wasp. Together, they tracked down the Hulk and discovered Loki to be the true culprit. A spectacular battle ensued; in the end, the Asgardian trickster was apprehended.

Before the heroes went their separate ways, Ant-Man suggested they continue their partnership; the five readily agreed. The newly formed team assembled a short time later at the midtown-Manhattan mansion of industrialist Anthony Stark -- a.k.a. Iron Man, although this fact was unknown to his teammates at the time. Stark soon donated the mansion for the Avengers' exclusive use and established a foundation to cover all operational expenses incurred by the non-profit team.

The Hulk's instability and questionable reputation brought his tenure with the Avengers to an abrupt end. Although the heroes never have considered him an enemy, they feel that it is their responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the gamma-irradiated ex-Avenger.

In the wake of the Hulk's departure, World War II-era Super-Soldier Captain America became the first full-time resident of Avengers Mansion, as well as the team's initial recruit. During the waning days of the war, a bomb-loaded drone plane launched by Nazi technician Baron Zemo had exploded with Cap and his sidekick, Bucky, aboard -- killing the youngster, but hurling his mentor unhurt into the icy Arctic. The Super-Soldier Serum prevented the crystallization of Cap's bodily fluids, allowing him to enter a state of suspended animation. Decades later, he was discovered and rescued by the Avengers.

When the team's founding members took a leave of absence, they were replaced by three reformed criminals: the expert archer Hawkeye, and the brother and sister duo of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Captain America became the team's first permanent chairman -- a post he held for years, through constant roster changes.

The official ties between the Avengers and the U.S. government grew to the extent that the team was granted direct computer access to certain classified information networks. But with those ties came unwanted interference, as the National Security Council began to take a more active interest in the team's internal affairs. For a time, agent Henry Peter Gyrich was appointed as the Avengers' government liaison. Gyrich instituted procedures that restricted active membership, and he initiated a strict screening procedure for new recruits. The new policies went so far as to dictate membership according to government standards of equal-opportunity employment. Gyrich eventually was reassigned, and the powers-that-be limited the Avengers' access to security-related information following an incident in which the ethereal android known as the Vision attempted to seize benevolent control of the world.

Though they stand alone as the world's most celebrated champions of justice, the Avengers relationship with the government and the public has been something of a roller-coaster ride. Often, members' actions have been questioned, and the team's administration has come under fire. At the height of a media frenzy that saw critics attack the Avengers' inclusion of mutant heroes and lack of minority members, the team was asked to restructure its roster according to the preferences of the American public. This resulted in the appointment of Triathlon, super-athlete and member of the elusive Triune Understanding cult.

While the team has faced difficulties internally and externally, the Avengers always have risen to the challenge -- meeting and defeating any and all threats to the planet.

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