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Comics 411: Favorite Marvel Superhero Teams

December 29, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
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Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed our Favorite Comic Book Families Here’s what some of you had to say:

redraptor: “The F4 are my favorites first and foremost, but I’ll toss out the Ghost Rider family for a little recognition. The dysfunctional Brothers Ketch/Blaze have been pretty amusing over the years and Blazes own constantly dying family was always a source of drama. Seriously those kids were dead or kidnapped most of the time.”

Annnnnnnnd….that was it. I guess you all don’t care about comic book families. Good for you. Thanks for the input anyway and keep it coming!

This week we discuss our…

Favorite Marvel Superhero Team
I had originally planned a “DC vs Marvel: Who Has the Best Superhero Team”…but that would have been a massive column that would take you a  week to read. Instead I pulled it back and we’ll do a two-parter that focuses on each publisher’s teams. This week brings us to Marvel! I’ll be covering some of the bigger names out there and let you fill in the ones I missed.

I’ll leave it up to you if we should include Ultraverse’s Ultraforce. Or New Universe’s DP 7, Kickers, Inc., Psi-Force, or Spitfire and the Troubleshooters. Or even Epic’s Strikeforce: Morituri. I just reread this one and I’m amazed no one has optioned this out for a movie or a television series. I mean…c’mon!

Let’s start with the Fantastic Four! This team has been around since 1961. To most of us, the Fantastic Four, who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space, are: Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes; the Invisible Woman (Susan “Sue” Storm), who eventually married Reed, who can render herself invisible and later project powerful force fields; the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue’s younger brother, who can generate flames, surround himself with them and fly; and the monstrous Thing (Ben Grimm), their grumpy but benevolent friend, a former college football star and Reed’s college roommate as well as a good pilot, who possesses superhuman strength and endurance due to the nature of his stone-like flesh. They’ve mainly been portrayed as a somewhat dysfunctional, yet loving, family.

Of course we have Avengers, aka Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! The Avengers originally consisted of Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Thor, and the Hulk. Captain America was discovered, trapped in ice (issue #4), and joined the group after they revived him. A rotating roster became a hallmark, although one theme remained consistent: the Avengers fight “the foes no single superhero can withstand.” The team, famous for its battle cry of “Avengers Assemble!”, has featured humans, mutants, robots, aliens, supernatural beings, and even former villains. I’m pretty sure I’ve done a column looking at different team lineups but suffice to say just about anyone worth mentioning has walked the halls.

If I had to pick my favorite, I’d go with the original West Coast Avengers with the Ultimate Avengers coming in second.

Coming up next is the X-Men. The basic concept of the X-Men is that under a cloud of increasing anti-mutant sentiment, Professor Xavier created a haven at his Westchester mansion to train young mutants to use their powers for the benefit of humanity, and to prove mutants can be heroes. Xavier recruited Cyclops, Iceman,Angel, Beast, and Marvel Girl, calling them “X-Men” because they possess special powers due to their possession of the “X-gene,” a gene which normal humans lack and which gives mutants their abilities. To go through this team’s history would take a whole other column but ask Jeremy Thomas any X-related question and 99% of the time he’ll have the answer. Seriously. 

For my money, the Exiles was a damn great book. As was X-Factor…by Peter David. And the early Excalibur. And…sheesh. I could have a Top 10 X-team books column easily. Make a note and hold me to it!

Another team that has garnered questions over the years is Guardians of the Galaxy. This one is tough with the new fans who just know of the movie and the old school comic fans. The short story: The Guardians of the Galaxy is a group of heroes who opposed the Phalanx conquest of the Kree system (and many who had opposed Annihilus’ incursion into their universe), and banded together in an attempt to prevent any further catastrophes from ever occurring. While they’ve achieved success on the big screen, the comic side of things has been a little uneven.

One of my personal favorites is The Defenders. I’m not talking about the Netflix team though. This “non-team” of individualistic “outsiders,” followed their own agendas. The team usually battled mystic and supernatural threats and its original incarnation was led by Doctor Strange and included the Hulk, Namor, and, eventually, the Silver Surfer.

Speaking of favorites, I have to put New Warriors into consideration. These young adults made a big splash in 1989! Consisting of the young superheroes Firestar, Marvel Boy, Namorita, Nova and Speedball, all of whom were once featured in solo series or were supporting characters, they added Night Thrasher, an original character to serve as the team’s founder and leader, to the mix. Something about the early stories just worked and I still read my collected editions pretty regularly.

What about the 1975 lineup of the Champions? The Invaders? Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos?

Oh. Can’t forget about Alpha Flight. The group from Canada. Wait. What about Squadron Supreme?

Your turn. Go ahead and list some other teams that warm your heart!

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!