Despite the fact that the Avengers are easily one of the greatest superhero teams of all time, their chosen name doesn’t exactly live up to their mission statement. However, one alternate universe team of Avengers rightfully earned their name because it actually spoke to exactly what they do.
For a group that came together “to fight the foes no single hero could withstand,” the term ‘avenging’ implies punishing the villains after their damage has been inflicted, rather than stopping them before their evil plans are achieved. Still, there’s no denying that the Avengers is, quite simply, a cool name for a band of superpowered combatants to call themselves. After they came together to defeat Loki, the fist-ever issue of the Avengers ends with the Wasp casually throwing out ‘the Avengers’ as a potential team name, which the rest of the heroes accept immediately. If anything, the hilariously mundane manner in which the team lands on the title only further accentuates their offbeat nature.
In the House of M universe, however, the Avengers are anything but an offbeat group. House of M: Avengers by Christos N. Cage and Mike Perkins begins by tracking Luke Cage’s rise to power in the rough streets of New York City’s Sapien Town. In this world, mutants are the ruling class and humans are the oppressed minority. As Sapien Town becomes Cage’s own protected territory for all humans, he begins recruiting a group of sapiens with special skills to help defend it. This hard-boiled team of survivors consists of Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Tigra and Misty Knight.
Like all versions of the Avengers, Cage’s team quickly turns into a tight-knit family, and their mission ultimately becomes even greater than themselves. It’s the locals of Sapien Town that dub Cage’s group ‘the Avengers,’ as they continually avenge injustices against sapiens in a world where no one else is willing to stand and fight for them. Cage originally formed these Avengers to help him keep his tight rule of Sapien Town, but ironically enough, he couldn’t escape the greater example they were setting by protecting this marginalized neighborhood of humans from hateful mutants. Before Cage knew it, his Avengers were a signal to a larger uprising of sapiens inspired to avenge the years of atrocities inflicted upon their people.
In the House of M world, the Avengers’ name packs a lot of meaning behind it. After years of humans accepting their place in society as a dying species, Cage’s Avengers represented retribution against the established order, an initiative to avenge after years of being treated as less than by mutants with natural born powers. That’s a far cry from the colorful group of eccentric characters who may as well have drawn their – admittedly awesome – team name out of a hat.