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Promotional art for Avengers #503.
Art by David Finch.
|Publication date||August 2004 – January 2005|
|Avengers Disassembled HC||ISBN 0-7851-2294-X|
|Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man, Thor & Captain America||ISBN 0785138846|
"Avengers Disassembled", referred to in some participating series as "Disassembled", is a crossover event between several Marvel Comics series. The general idea is that the major heroes (the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four) are assaulted, not just physically, but emotionally. Author Brian Michael Bendis said in an article in Newsarama that the one thing that separates this crossover from others is that "not everyone is coming back from this one." The "Disassembled" tag is a reference to the Avengers' rallying cry, "Avengers Assemble!".
The series centers on the Avengers, and this stems into the individual crises affecting Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. The "Disassembled" stories of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four do not tie in and are stand-alone storylines that only share the "Disassembled" title. The "Disassembled" trade paperbacks display the Avengers "A" symbol on the spines, completed when all of the "Avengers Disassembled" books are displayed in order: Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man.
The active members of the Avengers team during the events of "Chaos" (the Avengers portion of "Avengers Disassembled") were Ant-Man, Captain America, Captain Britain (Kelsey Leigh), Falcon, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, Vision, Wasp, and Yellowjacket.
Plot summary 
The story begins when the Avengers Mansion sensors warn the residing Avengers of an intruder, quickly identified as Jack of Hearts, who appears to be a zombie because he had died saving the life of Ant-Man's daughter Cassie Lang. Jack apologises, then inexplicably detonates, killing Ant-Man (Scott Lang), who had gone to greet him, in a blast that destroys half of the mansion. The Vision crashes a Quinjet onto the site, only to attack the survivors of the explosion, releasing capsules that become a small army of Ultron robots which attack the survivors. During this attack, She-Hulk goes into a frenzy, resulting in her tearing Vision apart. Meanwhile Tony Stark starts acting drunk, and threatens to kill the Latverian ambassador, even though he cannot remember having anything to drink. In the aftermath of this first wave of attacks, most of the previous Avengers (even reserve members) and other heroes such as Daredevil arrive at the mansion. An enormous battlefleet of alien warships appear in the skies and begin wreaking havoc. Finally, a wounded Hawkeye sacrifices his life to save his friends by destroying an invading Kree warship.
In the end, it is revealed by Doctor Strange that the Scarlet Witch was behind these seemingly random attacks (Although how Jack of Hearts was resurrected by her is still a mystery, and the Avengers continue to debate whether the Vision's actions were the Witch's fault or the result of a contingency program inserted by Ultron that would activate when a situation like this took place). She had been driven insane by the loss of her children years earlier; the children who actually had been magical constructs the Witch had subconsciously created from the essence of the demon Mephisto, and two soul fragments from Master Pandemonium, which had been reabsorbed by him. Due to the use of her powers causing subtle 'reality warps' whenever she uses them to any great extent, continued use of her powers has driven her increasingly closer to insanity, until, finally, she has gone insane, believing that the Avengers 'took' her children away from her, and seek to do so again. Captain America meets her and tries to explain what has happened. In a final confrontation, the Avengers – aided by Doctor Strange – manage to stop Wanda, and she is placed in a trance by the Eye of Agamotto. She is subsequently taken away by her father Magneto, who acknowledges the mistakes he made in raising her.
Assembling at the remains of the mansion a month later, the Avengers learn from Tony that his drunken tirade and the subsequent disaster at Avengers Mansion have done so much damage to his financial standing that he simply lacks the money to sustain both the Avengers and his company, and so has been forced to withdraw his financial support for the Avengers, leaving the team with no choice but to disband after the last few members exchange stories about their favorite moments on the team. Outside the remains of the mansion, thousands of citizens have gathered to pay their respects to the heroes who defended them for years.
In the wake of "Avengers Disassembled", two new Avengers series were created. The New Avengers title replaced the Avengers title (with a new No. 1 in December 2004) which ended with issue No. 503 and Avengers Finale (November 2004). This new title continued with the creative team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch. The other title, premiering February 2005, was Young Avengers, which featured teenage heroes, each of whom (excepting Hawkeye) related in some way to the legacy of the Avengers. This series was written by Allan Heinberg, a writer for The OC, with art by Jim Cheung. The group was revived by its creators in July 2010 with the bimonthly series Avengers: The Children's Crusade which is a follow-up to Disassembled and House of M.
The Scarlet Witch's storyline continued in the pages of Excalibur, where Magneto and Professor X tried helping her, to no avail. This in turn led into the House of M mini-series and crossover, also written by Bendis.
The event is now considered by Marvel editors as the first part of a long series of events, which includes House of M, Decimation, Planet Hulk, Civil War, The Initiative, Endangered Species, World War Hulk, Messiah Complex, Divided We Stand, Secret Invasion, Manifest Destiny, Dark Reign, Messiah War, Utopia, Nation X and Necrosha . All these grim events lead up to Siege written by Brian Michael Bendis in 2010, which ushers in a new Heroic Age for Marvel, and X-Men: Second Coming by Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle, which sees the slow rebirth of Earth's Mutant population.
As for the Avengers killed during Disassembled saga, they have all returned to life in separate events. Ant Man was rescued by the time-traveling Young Avengers during The Children's Crusade, as Stature brings him away from the range of Jack of Hearts' explosion. Ant-Man is thus brought to the present along with the Young Avengers. The Vision is successfully rebuilt by Tony Stark after Fear Itself, and Jack of Hearts is restored by a team of scientists of Project Pegasus: during an assault of a pack of zombiefied clones of Squadron Supreme, a source of zero-point energy aggregates taking the corporeal form of Jack Hart.
List of crossover issues 
- Avengers #500–503 (main story)
- Avengers Finale (epilogue)
- Captain America #29–32 (aftermath)
- Captain America and the Falcon #5–7 (prologue)
- Fantastic Four #517–519 (aftermath)
- Iron Man #84–85 (prologue) and #86–89 (aftermath)
- Spectacular Spider-Man #15–20 (prologue)
- Excalibur No. 8 (parallel story)
- Thor #80–81 (prologue) and #82–85 (parallel story)
- She-Hulk No. 11 (aftermath)
Although not bannered as a part of the crossover, the events of Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill are a direct sequel to the story in Thor.
Later references to the storyline 
New Avengers Disassembled 
Although not directly connected with the previous storyline, Bendis's 5th arc on New Avengers is titled "New Avengers: Disassembled", a reference to "Avengers: Disassembled". It deals with the events of the Civil War (in which superheroes were forced to register with the government or be arrested) on the Avengers, and how the team's varying opinions have caused them to break apart. The first three issues featured Captain America's, Jessica Drew's and Luke Cage's opinions on the matter, all who have heavily weighed against the registration. The next two featured the Sentry and Iron Man, both of whom were for registration.
Avengers: The Initiative Disassembled 
Like the 5th arc of Bendis's New Avengers, the storyline of Avengers: The Initiative also references Avengers: Disassembled, complete with a banner reminiscent of the original. Issue No. 21, the first in the Dark Reign event, centers on the aftermath of the failed Skrull invasion, and the revelation that the shape-shifting aliens had infiltrated and corrupted the Fifty-State Initiative and Camp Hammond, where the registered heroes were trained. Most disturbingly, Camp Hammond and the Initiative were largely under the supervision of the legendary Avenger Henry Pym, but Pym had in fact been replaced by a Skrull years earlier. This is an opportunity for "top cop" Norman Osborn, the newly-appointed director of H.A.M.M.E.R. (formerly S.H.I.E.L.D.) to radically redefine how the Initiative will fit into the new order—to his own advantage. Thus, the whole structure (and much of the cast) of Avengers: The Initiative is disassembled.
Other versions 
What If?? 
On November 1, 2006, Marvel released a "What If?" special showing a different outcome to the storyline. In this alternate reality, the Beast, sensing something wrong, investigates afterward. He and Warbird go to see Dr. Strange who claims to have no knowledge of what occurred. Strange uses his abilities to see the event, claiming that is not really him ("Of course there's chaos magic...I would never use the Eye that way."). They deduce that Wanda used her magics to make everyone believe Strange had defeated her and Magneto then took her away. The Beast eventually figures out that Captain America, his mind suffering long-term damage from his years in ice, had pushed Wanda to do this, using the deaths to power her. They remake Genosha into a mutant paradise and Magneto fights to defend his daughter from the Avengers and the X-Men, who all end up dead as the Scarlet Witch's spell is interrupted by Rogue. In the end, Wanda and Cap allow themselves to be taken to oblivion to stop any more harm being done. Only Rogue, Ms. Marvel, Beast, Falcon, Cyclops, Iron Man and Doctor Strange are left – they were the ones who were directly confronting Cap and Wanda – and a guilt-ridden Beast, learning from Uatu that Cap would have recovered from his illness and abandoned his manipulative relationship with the Witch as he became leader of a new team of Avengers if Beast had done nothing, realizes that he should have left everything alone.
In an alternate world, the Avengers were never disassembled, but were subsequently captured by an alien race called the Trellions when the Vision detected the arrival of their agent Titannus, a brainwashed Skrull super-soldier, accompanying him on a mission to rescue his dying lover only to learn that he had been brainwashed with a fake story to lure the Avengers into a trap. The Wasp was quickly killed, Hank Pym - apparently another Hulk in this reality - was announced missing in action, and Captain America was executed to break their spirit, the reserve Avengers taking five years to rescue them and another five to beat back the Trellions sufficiently to stop them trying to re-conquer Earth. At some point, Reed Richards apparently attempted to conquer the world, Iron Man taking on a Doctor-Doom-like apparel to oppose him, killing the Human Torch before Richards sent him to Earth-616 prior to Titannus's arrival on that Earth. This Iron Man has since become the villain Iron Maniac, being kept in stasis in a Helicarrier, while the Titannus of Earth-616 was defeated by a team assembled by Doctor Strange when he detected Titannus's arrival only after Titannus had destroyed most of Tokyo in a rampage, his violent approach leaving the heroes less inclined to trust him than they had been in this world.
Great Lakes Avengers: Misassembled 
The GLA miniseries, GLA: Misassembled (2005), written by Dan Slott and pencilled by Paul Pelletier, provided a tongue-in-cheek reference to Avengers Disassembled. In a move which satirized the comic book deaths in that book, it was announced that a character would die in each GLA issue. Surely enough, Dinah Soar, the newcomer Grasshopper, the squirrel Monkey Joe, and Doorman are all killed, and Mr. Immortal commits suicide. However, Doorman was resurrected almost immediately acquiring the powers of Deathurge, Monkey Joe was replaced with an identical squirrel called Tippy Toe and Mr. Immortal stayed dead for only a few seconds. Three other Grasshoppers appeared in later issues of GLA, and were all killed in the space of few pages, continuing the parody.
Bongo Comics Free-For-All 
Cable & Deadpool #12 
- Deadpool (to Agent X): "Dude, anyone wearing a harness rig has a failsafe release to prevent it from catching on fire and forcing you to fly into Kree spaceships and blow up. I mean, duh, who doesn't know that?"
Collected editions 
The stories have been collected into a number of volumes:
- Avengers Disassembled (collects Avengers #500–503 and "Avengers Finale", 176 pages, hardcover, January 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2294-X, softcover, February 2005, ISBN 0-7851-1482-3)
- Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man, Thor & Captain America (collects Thor #80–85, Iron Man #84–89, Captain America & The Falcon #5–7, and Captain America #29–32, 448 pages, hardcover, April 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3884-6) collected separately as softcovers:
- Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man (collects Iron Man #84–89, softcover 144 pages, Jan 2007, ISBN 0-7851-1653-2)
- Avengers Disassembled: Captain America (collects Captain America #29–32 and Captain America And The Falcon #5–7, 168 pages, December 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1648-6)
- The Mighty Thor Disassembled (collects Thor 80–85, 152 pages, December 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1599-4)