the Avengers, American comic strip superhero team whose frequently changing roster often included some of the most popular characters in the Marvel Comics universe. Billed as “Earth’s mightiest super-heroes,” the team was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, and it debuted in The Avengers no. 1 (September 1963).
Inspired by the success of DC Comics’ Justice League of America, which featured characters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Marvel sought to unite its biggest names in a single book. The Avengers, however, was anything but a carbon copy of Justice League. Marvel’s team was characterized by internal conflict, and it owed its existence largely to the machinations of a villain. Loki, the Norse god of mischief, maneuvers his half brother, the thunder god Thor, into a battle against the Hulk. This fracas also attracts the attention of Iron Man and the crime-fighting duo of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Although this quartet at first believes the Hulk to be the villain responsible for an act of railway sabotage, Loki quickly emerges as the real culprit and suffers a decisive defeat. Before the heroes disperse, Ant-Man suggests that they make their association a permanent one, and the Avengers (a name suggested by the Wasp) are born.