By Kevin McVicker
Earth’s Worst Defenders: Ten Awful Avengers’ Line-Ups
Whether due to poor writing, art, concept, or just pathetic characters, The Avengers have been a team with a sordid past of line-ups. Some have been great, some lazy but not awful, and then others have been downright boring. As the internet gears up to raise pitchforks and torches against the latest post-Secret Wars Avengers (well, half Avengers and half New Warriors) line-up, maybe it’s time to look at other poor choices in the past. Here are some examples of everything but the greats:
The Mighty Avengers by Bendis
While you may first look at this line up and think “I don’t like Sentry or Captain Marvel,” in truth that’s not the reason I’m going to call this a horrible team. The logic of these individuals is what makes this an awful Avengers line-up. First, we have Sentry, Captain Marvel, and Ares who are all extremely powerful and strong characters on their own. They create a powerful team that could bash and blast almost any villain into oblivion. Next we have Tony Stark as Iron Man. He’s smart and has cool gadgets, so while maybe he isn’t the most helpful when you have three of the strongest beings on the planet fighting side-by-side, its okay. Then we get to the real problems with the team: Wasp and Black Widow. A person who can shrink and is a fashionista along with a person who is basically a really strong dancer; why do we need them on this team? While Black Widow plans a covert attack on Hydra, Sentry can bust into their main headquarters and kill everyone within a few seconds. While Wasp tries to shrink down and throw off Absorbing Man’s equilibrium, Captain Marvel can just throw him into the sun. Sorry, Nat & Jan, but maybe you can help Jarvis make dinner for the hungry heroes while they do the heavy lifting.
The Fantastic Forgotten Avengers
Years ago someone thought it was a great idea to put Reed & Sue Richards, Thor, and the Forgotten One on an Avenger’s team led by US Agent. That person no longer works at Marvel, but their legacy lives on in a cover that legitimately could’ve appeared in the pages of “What The?”. While the team itself may not sound horrendous, any Avengers line-up featuring the Forgotten One (Gilgamesh if you remember) is a joke. No one likes US Agent. He’s so unpopular he joined Canada’s Omega Flight. That’s right, US Agent couldn’t find work in America and so he went to Canada. Beta Ray Bill almost killed him. That part was kind of cool. **Editor’s Note: Please forgive the forgetfulness of Steve Rogers standing in as US Agent. Memory fades the older we get! Thanks!**
Uncanny Avengers 2.0
What happens when you fill an Avengers team with a bunch of second tier rip-offs of much better characters along with the most moody and annoying mutants? You get the latest reincarnation of the Uncanny Avengers featuring poor-man’s Doctor Strange, Wolverine, and Captain America (sorry Falcon, I had your back at first, but I’m bored already with this storyline). Also you have Rogue, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver who may be the most annoying villains-turned-heroes in all of the Marvel Universe.
Secret Avengers – The Freshmen Nonteam
This sounds like a cool idea… Moon Knight (awesome), Valkyrie (cool), Nova (awesome), Beast (cool), War Machine (awesome), and they are led by a non-Captain America version of Steve Rogers. That sounds great, right. It gets better because it is also written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Mike Deodato. What could possible go wrong? Unfortunately this turns out to be a mess of story where the two coolest characters (Moon Knight and Nova, but you knew that) were basically not really part of the team (especially Nova) and after the first few issues they didn’t show up again until Warren Ellis showed everyone what the series should be. I’m not saying this is the worst line-up because it should have been one of the best. However, given the level of great characters on display this was one of the poorest executions of an Avengers team to date.
They were not technically part of the Avenger’s main continuity but that may change with Secret Wars. What they were though was a horrible vision of what the 90’s had to offer for the future of the Avengers. This title was part of the MC2 universe made popular with Spider-Girl, but she didn’t appear on the team. Instead it consisted of J2, Stinger, Jubilee, Thunderstrike, Speedball, and Mainframe. All that you really need to know is that if you hate the latest female version of Thor, you never had the chance to endure Thunderstrike. A future version of the Avengers featuring him and the most worthless non-Morrison created X-Men character Jubilee was one of the worst versions of the team ever.
Avengers with Matching Jackets
There was a time when everyone wanted leather jackets because Tom Cruise looked so cool wearing one in Top Gun. Roughly ten years later the Avengers caught up with that horrible trend in what could not only be considered a worthless but also horribly dressed team. With all but the rebels Vision and Hercules wise enough not to join in (but really considering what Hercules wore, a leather jacket might have been a better choice) Black Knight, Crystal, Sersi, and Black Widow all wore nearly matching leather jackets which made them look cool, but scared to fight Hydroman. Also, given that line-up let’s be glad no major interstellar incidents happened on their watch because other than Vision and Black Knight’s Radioshack Light Saber this team was worthless in a fight.
The Bi-Coastal Avengers
Namor, Iron Man, Hercules, and Wonderman actually are a pretty solid line-up of Avengers; that is until they decided to give this team the name of the Bi-Coastal Avengers. Why weren’t they just the Avengers at that point? I get there was the West Coast Avengers, but the other team wasn’t the East Coast Avengers, so at the most you have Mono-Coastal Avengers. That’s bugged me for more than twenty years and I’m glad I could finally get it off my chest.
While technically not the Avengers, they are really the second iteration of the West Coast Avengers. This team featured US Agent in his strangest costume of all time, Scarlet Witch dressed for dancing with the stars, Spider-Woman covering everything but her hair which somehow stayed perfect even when her costume was torn, Iron Man with nothing really that wrong with his look, Century, and several other just as forgettable characters. While this featured the writer team-up of Abnett and Lanning who would later go on to completely apologize for this series years later by recreating the Guardians of the Galaxy, this series was a disaster. Force Works was forced upon us fans in print and in Saturday morning cartoons, and proved that virtually any horrible idea could get almost a fifty issue run in the 90’s.
Avengers with Rage
Rage was a relatively short lived Avenger from the early 90;s who was basically an urban, non-magical Shazam (and also far too similar to the character Prime from the Marvel owned Malibu Comics). Rage was a kid who had an adult male’s body and hairy chest and he was really strong; that was about it. For those who scream “get the forced diversity out of my comics” you weren’t reading comics at this time obviously because at least the latest Ms Marvel, Nova, and Ultimate Spider-Man have really strong personalities and don’t have hero aliases that brand their biggest flaw.
Heroes Reborn Avengers
A team featuring all the popular Avengers characters (and the Swordsman) fighting all of their most popular and classic villains sounds great, right? Whelp, not when drawn by Rob Liefeld. We got pouches, ridiculously over-chiseled cheek bones, medically disturbing veiny arms, and women with hips like horses and legs twice as long. For those who like Captain America’s muscles to look like they are swollen unnaturally by anaphylactic shock, sure, this was a time of magical wish fulfillment, but for those of us who didn’t like our mothers’ pointing out how unnatural and unrealistic the female body images were, this was the worst time in Avenger’s history.