Stan’s Soapbox – Marvel Age #122 (March 1993)

Hi, heroes!

Let’s go back to September ’63. (Of course, I realize that some of you can’t literally go back, because you weren’t even born at the time, but humor me anyway.)

The ninth month of the sixty-third year of the twentieth century is a date I’ll never forget, because that was the time I suggested to the gang in the bullpen that we gather some of our most colorful heroes (and one heroine) together and feature them as an ongoing super team.

The rationale was obvious. Judging by the mountain of mail we received each month, we knew that our rollickin’ readers loved it when one or more super heroes would appear in another hero’s mag. Nothing seemed to make the howlin’ hordes of Marveldom happier than reading a story which had more than one costumed cavorter recklessly romping through the pages.

Of course, in ’63 we already had FANTASTIC FOUR, which had been setting all sorts of sales records for the past couple of years, and we were also planning to launch the rather daring and unusual concept of the X-MEN in September, but those two books were still somewhat different. They consisted of heroes who belonged to their own team and to their own team only! They didn’t join up with any other do-gooders on a regular basis!

On the other hand, it seemed like it would be an interesting idea to take characters who were already established in their own monthly magazines and let them join forces, to fight as a team, in a separate magazine which would also be published monthly.

But there’s still another reason we created the THE AVENGERS, one which I’ve never revealed in print before! As you know, one feature on which Marvel has always prided itself is our attention to characterization. We’ve always tried to have heroes who are more than one-dimensional characters, heroes who are flesh and blood, with real personalities, fears and problems just like anyone else. So, just think of it. What better way to emphasize our heroes’ true nature, to give you a handle on how they really think and behave, than to have them interact with each other? Think of all the conflicts and rivalries, the jealousies and emotional traumas we’re able to reveal by putting a group of powerful, strong-willed, independent heroes together, heroes who had always been used to acting on their own, who had never before been asked to do things ‘for the good of the team!’ I instinctively sensed that this new group of Earth’s mightiest super heroes, which we called THE AVENGERS, would typify everything that the so-called “Marvel style” represented!

Selecting the members was the most. We couldn’t wait to see was would happen, storewise, when we put totally unique and unrelated characters like Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, Ant Man and The Wasp together!

Another great thing about The Avengers was (and still is) the fact that the team is open-ended. We can add new members at any time and we can send others packing whenever we feel the team is getting too crowded. One of our most memorable issues was #4, in which we brought back Captain America after he had been lamentably missing from comic books for more than a decade. Cap, a born leader, soon took over the chairmanship of the team, and the rest was history!

Today, as you know, we have our regular AVENGERS mag as well as AVENGERS WEST COAST. If their popularity continues to soar, don’t be surprised to see, sometime in the future, AVENGERS DEEP SOUTH, or AVENGERS FAR NORTH, or AVENGERS THIRD AVENUE BETWEEN OAK STREET AND ELM! Hey, nothing’s too far out for the genial geniuses of your batty bullpen!

But now, alas, we have to part. Much as I’d like to linger longer, I have to respond to the most dramatic cry of all which just rang through the hall. So, as I rush to join the world’s mightiest super heroes before the haunting echo of “AVENGERS ASSEMBLE” can die away, there’s just barely time to remind you that no matter happens, “Fata viam invenient!”