Five Times the Avengers Lost in the Comics

The good guys always win, right? Well, not always...sometimes even the Avengers have bad days.

Marvel Comics Avengers

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This article contains potential Avengers: Endgame spoilers.

Everyone knows that in superhero stories, the heroes always win. But sometimes those victories come at a price, whether that’s the destruction of your base, the loss of a powerful artifact, or the death (or deaths) of a major hero.

Sometimes, even when the heroes win it feels like they lost – and if (if!) you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame, you’ll know what we mean. While this might be rare in the movies, the Avengers have seen far more ups and downs in the comics. Here are five times the Avengers lost…

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Avengers: Under Siege

Captain America in Avengers: Under Siege

In the comics, the Avengers originally lived in Tony Stark’s family home, the Stark Mansion, which was located on New York City’s Upper East Side. This was the case for a good 20 years until 1987, when the Masters of Evil – led by Baron Helmut Zemo – banded together and stormed the mansion, driving the heroes out.

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Although the Avengers were able to re-enter the mansion and defeat their foes, the building was destroyed in the process. Stark’s faithful butler Edwin Jarvis and Avengers like Tigra and the Black Knight were severely injured, while Hercules was beaten so badly it put the demi-god into a coma and left him with brain damage.

And if you need proof that the Masters of Evil were actually masters of evil, while the villains occupied Avengers Mansion they destroyed many of Steve Rogers’ most prized personal possessions in an act of needless cruelty. If you want to see Captain America crying after discovering that the only photo he had of his mother has been torn up, this is the comic for you.

Onslaught

Avengers in Onslaught

A threat so huge that it took the combined forces of virtually every Marvel hero to stop him, Onslaught was a being born out of the merging of Professor X and Magneto’s minds. Initially convinced of mutant superiority and with the reality-warping powers to wipe out all humans, he later decreed that no-one on Earth would survive his attack. When he assumed his final form – a being of pure psionic energy – it became clear that Onslaught could be hurt if his essence was absorbed into host bodies. The one snag? Since he was a mutant, it only worked if non-mutants did it.

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So it was that the world watched as the X-Men apparently killed off almost all of the Avengers and Fantastic Four right in front of their eyes, even though it was a willing sacrifice. Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Falcon, Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, and many more were all seemingly obliterated along with Onslaught himself.

Luckily, Franklin Richards – the ultra-powerful mutant son of Reed and Sue – managed to use his powers to send the heroes to a pocket universe where they’d be safe, albeit with no memory of their former lives. The resulting comics (given the name “Heroes Reborn”) retold the characters’ stories with modern sensibilities and after 12 issues, the heroes escaped their false reality and returned to the real Marvel Universe Earth.

Ultron Unlimited

Ultron Unlimited Comics

Serving as the inspiration for Avengers: Age Of Ultron, this story sees the classic Avengers foe Ultron return in his most deadly form yet: all of them. In this case, the team doesn’t take that much damage, but their failure lies in the inability to protect an entire nation from a foe they were directly responsible for. In this form, Ultron annexes the eastern European nation of Slorenia and kills everyone there. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he ends up using the bodies of Slorenia’s population as a semi-automated military force protecting the country’s borders.

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As if that wasn’t bad enough, even after the Avengers defeated Ultron, Slorenia was then invaded by the Bloodwraith who became super-powerful after absorbing the souls of Ultron’s victims. Luckily he was eventually sealed inside Slorenia’s borders by a spell, meaning he wasn’t able to attack anyone else – but Slorenia itself became a no-go area. This is not exactly a mission that ended with pats on the back for all involved.

Avengers Disassembled

Avengers Disassembled Comics

The Avengers have managed to beat pretty much any villain that came for them, but this was something far less simple to deal with. In this story, the Scarlet Witch – driven mad by her own reality-warping powers – turns on the Avengers, blaming them for the disappearance of her children many years before. As the Avengers are attacked by a seemingly random assortment of villains and befallen by a series of inexplicable misfortunes, Hawkeye, Jack of Hearts, Ant-Man and the Vision are all killed. When Tony Stark appears drunk before the UN (despite not touching a drop of alcohol), he loses his job as Defense Secretary and the Avengers’ UN charter is revoked.

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The carnage is only stopped by the intervention of Doctor Strange, who identifies the Scarlet Witch as the source of the attacks and places her in a coma. Hearing of the attacks, Magneto arrives to retrieve his daughter. The Avengers, too broken and exhausted, are forced to allow him to take her away. In the aftermath, the team broke up and didn’t reform in any recognisable way for some time after.

Secret Invasion / Dark Reign

Iron Man in Dark Reign

The story begins when Elektra – who at the time was the leader of the Hand – is killed and promptly turns back into a Skrull, an alien race whose shape-shifting powers reverse upon death. This revelation makes it clear that Skrulls have been replacing heroes on Earth and setting the scene for a full-scale invasion of the planet, which they believe to be theirs.

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Despite the paranoia and confusion the Avengers – not to mention the rest of Earth’s heroes – are able to repel the invasion but chaos ensues. SHIELD is shut down due to its unreliability, leaving Norman Osborn to deliver the killing blow to the Skrull Queen and end the invasion. This act of apparent heroism (and his position in the government-sponsored Thunderbolts team) leads to him being placed in charge of SHIELD’s replacement, HAMMER. He immediately installs a team of villains as the new Avengers team, rebrands one of Tony’s Iron Man armors into the Iron Patriot for himself, and declares the real good guys outlaws. There’s really no upside to this one.