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The crossover event of the early 70's, the Avengers vs. the Defenders was published by Marvel Comics between the two teams books in the summer of 1973.

Warning: The following write-up contains spoilers galore!

The on-going discussion of which hero would beat which hero if they were pitted against each other is a main stay of comics fans around the world. So the idea of pitting two of Marvel's greatest superhero teams against each other was the brain child of Steve Engleheart during the early 70's.

The two teams were pitted against each other over a quest for a mystical item called the Evil Eye, a device used by the Human Torch in an attempt to break through the barrier around the Inhumans capital, but later had been broken into six pieces. The device was thought to be the key to return the Black Knight to normal after he was changed to stone by the evil Enchantress. The Defenders sought the pieces for this reason, while the Avengers were duped by Loki into believing that the Defenders meant to use it for evil purposes. The two teams split up to find it making for a battle royal between the two teams.

The matches between the heros broke down like this:

  • The Silver Surfer vs. the Vision and the Scarlet Witch
    This fight seems like a no-brainer as that the Silver Surfer has access to the Power Cosmic and could fly circles around the other two, but it was tougher than that. The Scarlet Witch really doesn't even take part in the fight as she is injured when the quinjet the two Avengers are using is damaged by an erupting volcano (don't ask). The Vision believes that the Surfer is responsible for the eruption and is pretty close to cleaning his clock, when he has to go off and save Wanda from approaching lava. The Silver Surfer snatches the first part of the Eye and takes off.
  • Iron Man vs. Hawkeye
    Back in the days when Hawkeye was a villain, his primary foe was Iron Man so it was cool for the old schoolers to see these two matched up again. The fight took place in a town in Mexico and the fight was relatively one-sided but not the way you would think. Hawkeye ambushes Iron Man and though he gets in a few shots, Iron Man is eventually overcome by his sense of responsibility. Hawkeye uses one of his arrows to get Iron Man to shoot his repulsor rays into a nearby building, which begins to crumble. Iron Man goes to rescue the inhabitants and Hawkeye grabs the piece of the Eye and takes off.
  • Doctor Strange vs. Black Panther and Mantis
    Probably, my second favorite battle in the series but mainly because no one gets off as easy as they think they will. Doctor Strange tries to use magic to hide, but Mantis uses her heightened awareness to detect him. Both Black Panther and Mantis think they will be able to use their hand to hand combat skills to make short work of Strange, only to find out he is a pretty mean fighter himself. In the end, Doctor Strange wins.
  • Valkyrie vs. the Swordsman
    Sword against sword, these two battled in South America in some castle. The two are finally ambushed by the castle's owner, who is killed by the Swordsman. Valkyrie grabs the piece of the Eye and escapes.
  • The Submariner vs. Captain America
    These two old allies meet in Japan and battle over the fifth piece of the Eye. While they are fighting, Sunfire appears, grabs the Eye blasts the two heroes and flies off. Namor pursues as fast as his winged feet with carry him, with Captain America hanging on to him. During the pursuit, the two finally begin to talk and realize that it is possible they are being manipulated. They recover the Eye from Sunfire and decide to try and sort things out.
  • The Incredible Hulk vs. Thor
    In the battle royale, the two heroes that probably were the center of the most debate duke it out in New York! The fight ends with the two locked in a wrestling match for over a hour, before their teammates show up and break things up.
After talking things through, the two teams realize that they have been manipulated by Loki. Just then, the pieces of the Evil Eye (which these idiots have left lying around are snatched up by a mystical messenger and it is revealed that not only Loki, but the dread Dormammu is also behind the plot. Dormammu uses the now complete Evil Eye to turn the inhabitants of Earth into monsters.

The Avengers and Defenders go to the Dark Dimension home of Dormammu and attempt to stop him. The Defenders get their collective asses kicked early on as the end of the crossover appears in an Avengers comic and besides, the Defenders won nearly all of the earlier battles. The Avengers are seemingly about to be defeated when Loki attempts to grab the Evil Eye from Dormammu allowing the Scarlet Witch time to shoot a hex that causes the Evil Eye to go off, sucking up Dormammu in the process and leaving Loki mad as a hatter. The two groups then go their seperate ways.

The Avengers vs. the Defenders is the first in a long line of hero vs. hero comics. The Contest of Champions and the Marvel vs. DC comics are more recent versions of this type of comic which this first series paved the way for.

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