Continuing on with the Thunderbolts blogs, this is more of a public service for the people out there who love reading about the Thunderbolts but are predictably disgusted by Marvel NOW's completely unrelated and pandering-to-idiots all-star unrelated sub-X-Force team helmed by an incompetent creative duo. Don't fret, there are other books out there for you! Some old, some new. But all better than Punisher shooting things.
5. Heroes for Hire
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Heroes for Hire was average at best. As the title reached the end of it's lifespan it found it's footing a bit more with a more consistent team roster which was marred by Fear Itself and Spider-Island tie-ins. It's all irrelevant however since it was too late for the title since the painful early issues with Ghost Rider, Punisher and Spider-Man hogging the spotlight had killed any chance the book had. The final story saw the book be renamed Villains for Hire before going away forever. As I said, it was average on a good day, but I'm highlighting this as the final story struck some real Thunderbolts-esque tones with a cast of entirely villains, anti-heroes and mercenaries. It even starred several former Thunderbolts such as Shocker, Speed Demon and Paladin (who was a main character throughout the entire book). Other cast members include Avalanche, Bombshell, Crossfire, Nightshade, Purple Man, Scourge, Tiger Shark and a dozen or so more. As I said, it's not a great book but many of the characters featured in Villains for Hire just came across as better Thunderbolts than the current squad ever will. Average however trumps awful.
4. Super-Villain Team-Up
Super-Villain Team-Up, or MODOK's 11, was a miniseries by Fred Van Lente which had several low-tier villains gather to pull off a heist for M.O.D.O.K.. It's harmless fun and a bunch of the characters featured are the standard redemptive down-on-their-luck former villains like Armadillo, Puma and Rocket Racer. It's plain to see where the Thunderbolts comparisons come in. As with most of Van Lente's work, there's some good humor mixed in and it's just generally a cute and enjoyable story. Other characters featured include Living Laser, Mentallo, Nightshade, Spot, and M.O.D.O.K. obviously. There's even a cameo from founding Thunderbolt Fixer. Short as it is, if you're dying for a Thunderbolts fix, Super-Villain Team-Up is a decent temporary hit for your veins.
3. Suicide Squad
DC's Analogue to Thunderbolts. Or the team Marvel ripped off for Thunderbolts. It depends which of the two you follow. Suicide Squad is more Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts than Hawkeye's Thunderbolts but it obviously hits on many of the same themes and the general tone. There's been a whole bunch of members, the most consistent of which is probably the mainstay Deadshot, but the Squad has also featured some big-name DC villains among them The Penguin, Poison Ivy, and currently Harley Quinn. Apparently Batman was once a member. I've not read much Suicide Squad, but since Marvel seem to hate Thunderbolts fans it might be more fruitful to switch allegiances. There's plenty of back issues to check out but the current New 52Suicide Squad isn't great. Although it started out a lot stronger than most of the New 52, it's still prone to all the same unadvertised crossovers with unrelated books, featuring too much irrelevant sex and plenty of embarrassing attempts to shock you with gratuitous and disgusting violence. But, hey, at least it's not drawn by Steve Dillon.
2. Dark Avengers
Dark Avengers is the book that's Thunderbolts in all but name. Continuing the numbering from Thunderbolts, as well as the creative team and the character Moonstone, Dark Avengers seems another obvious one for upset Thunderbolts fans to look at instead. The problem is that the cast is almost utterly unappealing. While Moonstone, U.S.Agent and even Skaar have plenty of history and character to them - the others do not. Most of them barely have 10 appearances. Some of them don't even have origins. It's not to say we won't eventually get them, it's more the case that so far these characters have done nothing and it's utterly hard to feel anything for characters who are akin to mannequins wearing familiar costumes that have long since outlived their purpose. With all the ties to the previous Thunderbolts book however it's definitely worth keeping an eye on, and even with zero personality Trickshot will always be a far more fitting to the Thunderbolt legacy than Punisher.
1. The Initiative
The Initiative was a book that kinda combined New Warriors and Thunderbolts into one. While we had the New Warriors running around doing their thing and a bunch of kids being trained to be superheroes, there were also several former villains who were also being trained to then pursue a career as a registered superhero. Chief among the villains featured prominently were Taskmaster, Constrictor, Diamondback, Ant-Man and Typhoid Mary. Although there were many more, particularly during Dark Reign where several villains reoutfitted themselves in new guises to pretend to be heroes to the public in a possible nod to the classic Thunderbolts. Also of note is that several Thunderbolts characters made notable appearances such as Boomerang, Norman Osborn, Nighthawk, Ragnarok, Skein and quite importantly to a Thunderbolts fan Penance's story was continued from Thunderbolts #127 in the Initiative. Really hitting up the Thunderbolts feel a lot of the time, The Initiative is a great book and an easy substitute for Thunderbolts blues. But then when you reach the end, you're back to square one.
Blah blah blah. Continuing Thunderbolts-themed blogs. Here's 5 characters who are better choices for any Thunderbolts team than those big name losers that worthless writer Daniel Way thinks people want to read about and idiots do read about because the misleading covers look "badass".
5. Tiger Shark
I can't profess to know all that much about Tiger Shark. All I've really read of him has cast him in interchangeable generic villain roles but I've always seen him as having enormous potential as a Thunderbolt. As a former Master of Evil, a badass tank with huge teeth and apparently once in an Aquatic-based superhero team, Tiger Shark is a character who I just think would work on the Thunderbolts the same way characters like Radioactive Man, Boomerang or Atlas have worked. In fact, he's worked alongside almost every one of those characters.
Once upon a time there was a comic book called The Initiative. It was really good. It starred an enormous ensemble cast of C-listers as they became superheroes, or in some cases didn't, and one of the runaway stars was without a doubt Constrictor. He had registered and was pursuing a more honest career as a hero at the behest of Nighthawk, driven initially by a desire for glory and then a need to impress his girlfriend but along the way he seemed happy in the role. It just really worked. The Initiative was cancelled and now Constrictor is back to being a background villain rarely even given lines. I can think of something better for him to do...
Marvel wanted us to love Daken. They give Wolverine's mopey son an enormous push and then when they found out he couldn't hold his own book, they decided to kill him. And then let Rick Remender bring him back again to kill him again because Rick Remender likes to think he can do everything better than everyone else. This is how Marvel treats characters they don't know what to do with. Better solution? Thunderbolts. As his solo book showed time and time again, Daken is a loathsome guy but he can and will do some good when he deems it necessary. He'd likely be the guy who hates his team-mates and is likewise hated by them, but would in a rare 5% of the time moment show some good. I'm sure working with them would be more appealing to him than being drowned in a puddle anyway.
I'm fed up of mentioning Sandman in blogs. Sandman was one of the "first Thunderbolts". He was maybe even the first major Marvel villain to truly reform 100%. We all know he became an Avenger for a while but then John Byrne and Howard Mackie were given the reins to Spider-Man books and set everything back to the status quo. Sandman was brain-washed into being a villain again and revealed as Norman Osborn's cousin because they had the same hair. Both those are true facts. The character is now without character and just a dumb brute with constantly understated powers. God knows why someone hasn't come along and said "This is ridiculous, this character's motivation is he's brain-washed", undone it and then put him on the premier team of reform.
If you like Sharon Carter over Diamondback, you are a broken person. Diamondback is a character unlike Sharon Carter because she has character. She's another character who fits the criteria of being a Thunderbolt-before-it-was-a-thing. She's stayed on the straight and narrow but has a tough time staying relevant since one of Marvel's top editors dislikes the character and the hack of a former Captain America "visionary" says he hates anything from Gruenwald's run because he didn't want people to notice all he did was rip it off and personally called me stupid for liking characters with "lame names". Diamondback was, in fact, planned to be on New Thunderbolts until a certain idiot abused his power as editor to stop it from ever happening and presumably the role fell to Joystick instead which obviously evolved into a very different direction. But, yes, Diamondback should be a Thunderbolt, be best friends with Songbird and they should share hair dye and not only appear in comics so hack writers can put her in a coma to please their incompetent fat editors.
I was wanting to do a series of Thunderbolts-based blogs to celebratecommiserate the debut of the new team but was unfortunately banned for saying that if a certain someone likes a certain something they must've certainly had a certain thing from a certain someone to make them like that certain something for certain. It was certainly wrong and I will never do it again for certain.
Kicking off with a generic Top 5 Thunderbolts Teams list. And remember, since I am saying this stuff, it is fact.
5. The Initiative's Thunderbolts
You know something? Warren Ellis' Thunderbolts is weak. 12 issues which are mostly spent with the team getting their asses kicked by old Mark Gruenwald characters, the 4 pre-existing Thunderbolts in the title being characterised hideously and pretty much nothing but a love letter of insanity to Norman "Dullard" Osborn. It is, however, an appealing team to read about and for the first time established a proper function and place for the Thunderbolts in the Marvel Universe. And there are fun and badass moments along the way it's just that Ellis' run has absolutely zero character work. For character work, look no further than various one-shots by Christos Gage and Paul Jenkins which were released because Ellis was so slow at writing. They feature the team and various of it's members in solo situations and there's roughly a one-shot spotlighting each character. Altogether, they make a far more enjoyable package with less moments with slutty Moonstone or Swordsman crying for his "mommy" and even more old Mark Gruenwald characters showing up. The team certainly had bags full of potential and looks awesome, but for a run so highly regarded which apparently redefined Thunderbolts for a new generation, it's just not that good.
4. The Raft's Thunderbolts
Luke Cage is taking over the Thunderbolts? For god's sake. There's Avengers everywhere. Marvel only care about Avengers. I'm done. Surprisingly, Jeff Parker wound up writing the best Luke Cage since John Ostrander in Heroes for Hire. Doing away with all of Bendis' stereotypical "uncool black dad" tropes, almost never having Jessica Jones appear and just having Cage be a badass mutha made it all the better. But Cage wasn't the only star of the show, Parker integrated several characters, new and old, into the Thunderbolts family who gelled incredibly well. Juggernaut, Boomerang, Man-Thing and John Walker fastly became as fun to read about in Thunderbolts as the old guard of Songbird, MACH-V, Moonstone or Fixer. With that said, it wasn't all peaches. Mr. Hyde and Centurius remained consistently uninteresting throughout and the run became marred with it's heavily criticised over-long time-travel story arc. There were however plenty of fun times to be had with The Raft's Thunderbolts team and there was a re-established true sense of fun in the book that had been abandoned since Warren Ellis made everything dark and murderous.
3. Baron Zemo's Thunderbolts
The originals. Although Kurt Busiek's concurrent work on Avengers was mostly overrated and profoundly dull stinkers of stories, he hit the goldmine with Thunderbolts. Unlike all those writers in current Marvel who don't understand Thunderbolts at all, the reason the team were great wasn't because of that "shocking" reveal at the end of Thunderbolts #1... the reason the book continued past the first issue was because the slow evolutions of Songbird, MACH-I, Meteorite and Techno. Taking them away from c-list villains and into b-list heroes was something that truly worked and proved interesting and warming to read. It made otherwise uncharacterized or template villains into real people. It's hard not to appreciate the original Thunderbolts even if just for the fact they were the thing that started it all. With that said, it's not without flaw... did someone say Jolt?
2. H.A.M.M.E.R.'s Thunderbolts
Following Warren Ellis' largely unimpressive run came Andy Diggle who dropped the book as quickly as he could to write Daredevil instead which then fell into the hands of Jeff Parker. The very basis of the team sounds atrocious and as far-removed from the Thunderbolts dynamic as the current Red Hulk team. The reason this worked? The same reason the original Thunderbolts worked. Watching a bunch of previously rarely characterized mercenaries slowly move away from being a vessel for wetwork and onto the side of Angels. Characters were given great moments and became almost likeable in their own ways. We had Ant-Man and Paladin developing one of the greatest underrated bromances of the last decade, a character with a sole appearance prior fleshed out to the point where he has one of the most understatedly brilliant deaths of modern comics, and Thunderbolts readers were introduced to the redesigned Ghost. The other thing that made this team so great to read was the dynamic that there was a majorly differing levels of morality among the members which made it incredibly tense between them and made some of them almost de-facto headlining villains. It was just a fantastically glorious run that climaxed with the only good part of Siege and a true moment of rejoice when the two sides of the same coin finally faced each other. But with that said, the things keeping it off the top spot may be few but are prominent. We have the hideous Rick Remender fill-in issue or the monstrous multiplied by 3 bait-and-switch Black Widow reveals which ultimately were dropped. But as it stands, this is incredibly similar to the current Thunderbolts team but at the same time everything the current Thunderbolts team will never be.
1. New Thunderbolts
I was perplexed to see New Thunderbolts actually getting some flack by Thunderbolts fans. The book was relaunched following the universally-panned revamp of Thunderbolts some years earlier which made it into basically Fight Club with never-before-seen-characters-and-another-old-Mark-Gruenwald-character. New Thunderbolts was kind of a back-to-basics approach with Fabian Nicieza returning to write a book about Songbird and MACH-IV reforming the Thunderbolts. We had old favorites like Atlas and eventually Zemo as part of the team too but a lot of new characters who went on to differing levels of success as a Thunderbolt. While Nighthawk and Smuggler didn't contribute much and Speed Demon and Joystick barely even subscribed to the team's motive; characters like Blizzard, Radioactive Man and Swordsman were perfect additions who could not have worked any better. Even the odd member of Captain Marvel fit with the team having a former connection to Songbird and a run where he became a mentally unstable omniscient being. In Nicieza's 28 issues, we had a lot of character growth, two incredibly epic stories of Cosmic-proportions and the return of many old Thunderbolts characters towards the end (including the debut of the costume that is now pretty much considered Moonstone's default). It's funny to see the Thunderbolts as the ones out there saving the entire universe from the Grandmaster and Squadron Sinister when the Avengers of the time were instead off fighting ninjas and themselves. Did the properties get mixed up somewhere?
5. AVENGERS WEST COAST #69, "Grudge Match" by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas & Paul Ryan, 1991
An issue that's entirely a long fight between two characters is a pretty daunting task for any writer to get right. An issue that's entirely a fight between two characters with entire subplots and character arcs fleshed out is a whole other thing. But that's where Avengers West Coast #69 just takes the cake for elegant story-telling. Centered around Hawkeye and US Agent having a violent fight regarding the new line-up of their Avengers team, Roy and Dann Thomas manage to characterise the two Avengers perfectly. Hawkeye may be getting his ass well and truly kicked but he still displays everything that makes Hawkeye Hawkeye and US Agent is his typical loudmouth jerk self but is shown as being not entirely reprehensible throughout. The whole issue is just a fantastic read. The fact Roy and Dann manage to interject subplots with Scarlet Witch, Hank Pym and Wasp, and the entire restructuring of the team underneath a 22 page blow-out between two characters is something that modern writers should aspire to be able to do. Paul Ryan pencils one of the best drawn-out and simple fights without it ever seeming overlong and he even manages to make Hawkeye's god-ugly 90s armor look half-decent. The issue is just a fantastic display of how decompression should be done.
4. DAREDEVIL #181, "Last Hand" by Frank Miller, 1982
This is pretty much everyone's favorite Daredevil issue and there's a reason: it is genuinely fantastic. It does something very few comics can do successful: it reads as the fantastic apex of several month's of storytelling and it also reads perfectly as a stand-alone story. It's a story entirely told from the perspective of Bullseye that feels both monumentally epic and puzzlingly sympathetic. It's not until you've finished reading it that you think back and realise these things. Daredevil hardly features until the final few pages, Miller cleverly chose to make this issue is all about Bullseye. And of course, we have the beautifully understated death of Elektra mid-way into the story. It's just a truly great issue that manages to feel like an issue that features a complete epic story arc in it's 30-something pages. If you only ever read one issue of Daredevil, I think anyone who recommends any other issue is just mentally damaged. This is perfect, flawless comics.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA #345, "Surrender", by Mark Gruenwald & Kieron Dwyer, 1988
This is another example of a talented writer being able to fit about 20 sub-plots into one issue and having it come out majestically. This issue features almost every member of Captain America's then-cast reaching some sort of significant turning point in their own stories as well as subsequently furthering the overall story too. As the cover makes no effort to hide the fact, the issue juxtaposes the struggles of Steve Rogers with that of John Walker as the two face plights that are pretty different but due to fantastic writing seem as perfect mirrors. The thing is, it's tough to really nail down what makes this issue great, and the thing is it's got everything. Plot advancement, fantastic art, superb action, meaningful character deaths, relationship progression and a clearly defined purpose. In an issue that is a pivotal point in the direction of John Walker's life, it also proves to be just as pivotal in the direction of the lives of Nomad, D-Man, Diamondback and Falcon. It feels more like a neatly woven tapestry than a comic book, I could really babble on about how the scene between Captain America and Nomad or the scene with D-Man are just great examples of character work, but the thing is these are barely pages of the story. What's even more staggering is the following 3 issues manage to consistently uphold this standard of quality.
2. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400, "A Death in the Family", by J.M. DeMatteis & Mark Bagley, 1995
The Clone Saga is easily regarded as an overly long nonsensical low-point in Spider-Man's history that most people would sooner forget than seriously dig for highlights within. The real tragedy is crowbarred in the middle of it all is possibly one of the finest issues of Spider-Man ever written. Aunt May returns from the hospital after a stroke and the issue documents the following week as Peter, Mary Jane and, yes, Ben Reilly respond to Aunt May's sudden improvement as they also face the constant threat of May's mortality. Among countless lovely moments, the highlight is a scene between Peter and May where May reveals she's always known Peter is Spider-Man and she passes away shortly afterwards. Yes, Aunt May died in the 90s. It was the most beautiful moment of a cesspool of bad Spider-Man stories and of them all it was the only one that they decided needed retconning. The thing is, I'm sure many Spider-Man fans want Aunt May to just die already and the thing this issue does is it manages to make the welcome and very expected death pretty gut-wrenching. Whether it's the scene between Peter and May regarding Spider-Man, Ben Reilly having being unable to see Aunt May one last time and having no one to comfort him or May dying in Peter's arms... it's an emotional and brilliant issue with some fantastic Spider-Man art from Mark Bagley which puts his lauded Ultimate Spider-Man work to shame.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA #401, "After the Storm", by Mark Gruenwald & Rik Levins, 1992
Steve Rogers has a problem. That problem is he's a pretty dull character. He's too goody-goody. It's really hard to feel for a character who's already perfect. This issue, however, does a superb job at finally making Steve Rogers "problems" sympathetic and saddening. On one hand I was going to say "This is more of an Avengers issue, really" but then I am forced to take into account that for an Avengers issue this would've been the Steve Rogers show. Premise is Steve is depressed. Another tough thing to get across well in an issue without it seeming annoying. Gruenwald manages to, once again, prove that he really is the master of Captain America when he makes Steve's constant disappointment and disillusionment with the Avengers and his own leadership skills so incredibly touching. Simple things like saying goodbye to Quasar or calling US Agent his "pal" feel incredibly emotional. And that's because all these moments have a lot of emotional-baggage and character development to them. For a 22-page issue, we really get Cap's relationship with his fellow Avengers handled so perfectly. It's not just the best issue of Captain America, it's also the best issue of the Avengers.
I rile on Dark Reign a lot and not because it's terribly bad but because it's goddamn stupid. Like most Marvel products these days it's like a half-hatched idea groomed by a committee of inattentive idiots. The concept of Dark Avengers was an decent idea and the actual line-up itself was pretty intense and interesting but the idea that Norman Osborn chose these people to help his agenda is unbelievably stupid. Why would a guy who is so intently deranged at the sight of Spider-Man recruit a guy to pretend to be Spider-Man? Why did his team only have people impersonating two heroes the public would even recognise as classic Avengers? Why the hell bother getting similarly underpowered and psychopathically unloyal pawns like Daken, Bullseye and Venom for your team when you have access to so much more?
Okay, well, if I was Norman Osborn... here's basically 10 ideas that would've been far more sensible for Norman Osborn's agenda.
10. Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady)
You want an amoral asshole to dress up as an Avenger, Norman? You do realise you have a guy who dresses up as a founding member of the Avengers on your payroll who you shuffled off to your black-ops group? Although, Ant-Man did switch allegiances in the end, he would've been a far more powerful tool to Norman on his Avengers team if just to continue his Avengers team's deceitful public image.
Let's see... which former Avenger does Norman Osborn know who has returned to a life of crime? Oh, that's right, the guy who didn't appear at all during Dark Reign. In general, Sandman would've been a perfect candidate for anything in Dark Reign. You have a guy who does have some aspirations to be more than just a criminal and he'd jump at the chance to get paid to be a hero. He didn't even join the Initiative, for pete's sake.
8. Swordsman (Andreas Von Strucker)
Just before Norman's rise to power, he worked with a guy who dressed up as a former Avenger. Norman's first action of Dark Reign? Kill the guy. Yeah, Andreas and Norman were quite antagonistic towards each other (but then so were Norman and Bullseye and Norman and Moonstone and Norman and everyone). Stupidly, their final confrontation came almost entirely because Norman didn't bother to make a place for Andreas in his Dark Reign. So, Norman's genius idea is to aggravate a guy you could use and then kill him because he aggravated you.
7. Black Widow (Yelena Belova)
I'm not gonna touch on the tedious retcon/undercover stuff because the end result is that Norman still had access to Yelena Belova. So, you've got the second Black Widow, Norman. Why don't you put her on an Avengers team for an easy transition since the last team before you also had a Black Widow? Nahhh, you'll just keep her locked up in a tube somewhere and do nothing with her. Good plan, Goblin.
6. Captain Marvel (Khn'nr)
This one isn't entirely Norman's fault since the guy died during Secret Invasion. And, heck, Norman already began manipulating him during Secret Invasion so if he survived he could've easily been sold on Norman's team. He was slightly mentally damaged and would've been a damn powerful Avenger for Norman to have at his disposal. And, unlike the Captain Marvel his team went for, this one actually wore the Captain Marvel uniform.
5. Dark Beast
Norman recruited a guy who already called himself the Dark version of an Avengers Member and didn't put him on his Avengers team? Norman recruited Dark Beast for his X-Men team which did make sense but was kinda a dumb move in retrospect since Osborn never bothered using his X-Men team. Beast again is seen by the public as a "Classic Avenger" and for the sake of media image would make far more sense than a Dark Wolverine.
As one of Osborn's only loyal soldiers to the end, the idea Nuke got shoved off onto Osborn's Thunderbolts was a silly move. Nuke is a deranged patriot who would do whatever the "government" - in this case Osborn - asked of him. He would've easily made a Dark Captain America or more appropriately a Dark US Agent, but instead Osborn decided the people who obey him would be best not implemented in his plans.
3. Hulk (Thaddeus Ross)
There's another American patriot floating around acting as a villainous counterpart to another founding Avenger. Jeez, Norman, you're really the king of oversight, aren't you? I'm not entirely sure how red Hulk chronology stacks up with Dark Reign, but again, recruiting the red Hulk for his team made too much sense so Norman ignored it.
2. Thor (Ragnarok)
YOU HAVE A ROBOT CLONE OF THOR IN A BASEMENT SOMEWHERE AND YOU DON'T EVEN THINK TO PUT IT ON YOUR AVENGERS TEAM? Norman is a grade-A idiot in this regard. Thor is one of the most recognisable Avengers so why the hell doesn't Osborn think it's a smart idea to have a robot version of Thor on his team? Sure, he's only a third as powerful as the real Thor but that's still powerful and he's an evil Thor, for god's sake.
1. Captain America (William Burnside)
The Captain America of the 1950s is an insane guy who believes anyone "different" is communists but more importantly has had plastic surgery to look EXACTLY like Steve Rogers. He was wandering around in limbo and had no direction in his life when Norman rose to power. Norman even later wished to recruit the Red Skull in Steve's body to be his team's Captain America. Norman, you buffoon, there's a guy perfect to be your Captain America who is easy to manipulate and looks identical to Steve Rogers.
Over the course of their 50 year existence, the Avengers have gone through many many line-up changes - some lasting a single issue and others lasting over 30 issues! While most people remember the fairly traditional line-ups, there have been some incredibly odd line-ups over the years. And here are, in my opinion, the 5 weirdest line-ups to the Avengers!
5. Captain America's Evolutionary War Team
During the Evolutionary War crossover, there was no East Coast Avengers team. They had broken up following the manipulations of Princess Ravonna who had infiltrated their ranks posing as Nebula and driven Doctor Druid to madness. So, when the High Evolutionary threatened the world it wound up that Captain America (then as the Captain), the Falcon, Hercules, Beast, Jocasta, the Hulk (then as Joe Fixit) and the sadly not-pictured second Yellowjacket assembled to go into action. It was a very interesting assortment of characters and seeing the Hulk back with the Avengers temporarily was fun. In fact, this Avengers team is probably a highlight of the entire Evolutionary War story. Maybe if they'd stuck around past one issue they would've easily managed to shrug the "weird" label, but after beating the High Evolutionary, the team went their separate ways which led Steve Rogers to form a new group.
This team fought against the High Evolutionary in Avengers Annual (1967) #17.
4. Captain America's Inferno Team
Immediately after the Evolutionary War, Inferno broke out. It was a pretty inconvenient timing since there was still no East Coast Avengers team. Cap (still as The Captain) decided to form a new Avengers team. First up he recruited his close friend Demolition Man (or D-Man) for the team and set out to recruit others. While he managed to convince Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four, Thor and the Eternal known as Gilgamesh to join he unfortunately also lost D-Man who was killed in action (later retconned). This new team is pretty much the most famous of the quirky Avengers line-ups over the years and it's honestly no surprise they didn't last long. Celebrating the 300th Avengers issue with the debut of this team is a bit of a laugh considering by #302, it had reshuffled and dropped the Fantastic Two replacing them with more classic Avengers.
The original Human Torch led a rather weird team of Avengers for one issue after Operation Galactic Storm. The Torch had recently been depowered and threatened by his old enemy the Hyena. As an Avenger, he hoped the team would help him out but discovered most the members were in space involved in the Kree/Shi'ar war. So, he was left with a team of Hank Pym, Wasp, Quicksilver, Tigra, Mockingbird and Machine Man. This team of b-listers didn't really do much except follow the Torch around who eventually foiled Hyena's plan to manipulate him. It's not necessarily a bad team of Avengers, in fact there's a certain classic feel to it, but it's just the case that there's no real heavy hitter to the team and the Torch was always an odd choice to lead the team especially when Pym and Wasp are there.
There was a story called Avengers Disassembled in the 80s. It didn't have Scarlet Witch going insane or horrible retcons and ignored continuity, it was in fact based around the dissolution of Hawkeye and Mockingbird's marriage. Mockingbird had recently being drugged and raped by the Phantom Rider and in anger allowed him to fall to his death from a cliffside. Her husband Hawkeye was furious...not that his wife had been raped...but because she kept it a secret and he was firm that Avengers don't kill in any circumstance. This led to the team breaking up and Mockingbird, Tigra and Khonshu (who was posing as Moon Knight) left and formed their own group of Avengers who were more loose on the whole killing thing. They were later joined by Black Goliath for a while but the team broke up following a battle with Phantom Rider's spirit and Khonshu's possession of Moon Knight revealed. It was another odd line-up particularly since it's such a small line-up, again they were incredibly underpowered and none of them were big name characters. Despite that, the team existed longer than all of these other teams listed. Tigra eventually rejoined the main team, Mockingbird betrayed them and then shortly after started to patch things up with Hawkeye and Moon Knight left having never wanted to join the Avengers in the first place.
Okay, this one was just flat-out weird. Not necessarily a bad team just an odd line-up. It's not that their underpowered - Captain Marvel, Moondragon and Firebird are quite powerful in that respect - and their all quite varied in terms of speciality... it's just that they're so ridiculously second tier. Even the villain they fought exemplifies how kinda lame the team is. During Acts of Vengeance, the Avengers were a target for a highly organized and unrelenting attack of various super-villains and amidst all this Black Widow found herself leading a team consisting of herself, Captain Marvel, Stingray, Firebird, Moondragon and Hellcat who were trying to salvage the now destroyed and sunken Hydrobase. They wound up fighting the Awesome Android. The other Avengers team were fighting Loki, Freedom Force and U-Foes at this time and these guys get stuck with "Awesome Andy". One of the other things that make the team stick out as particularly weird is how there's only one guy among 5 women. While it's often the case that the Avengers line-ups are sausagefests, it does just look more bizarre when it's practically an all-girl squad. And it's really not surprising that the team only appeared in one issue, but it certainly can go down as an interesting assembly.
This is moderately interesting to Avengers/Marvel fans...........in 1989 Marvel conducted a poll where readers voted for their favorite candidates for Avengers membership. A crappy quality scan of the results pulled from a letters page can be seen here (just incase you thought i was making this up).
The results for the Favorite candidates for Avengers Membership in 1989 were:
1. Spider-Man (375 votes)
Spider-Man was the top vote with nearly triple the amount of votes of the runner-up! He had been teased and offered membership before and he seems like the obvious choice for a member. In fact he became an Avenger within the next year in The Avengers (1963) #314.
2. Daredevil (136 votes)
Daredevil came in second place in the poll. Daredevil is another character who had been an ally to the team and offered membership in the past but never accepted. Despite being the runner-up in the poll, Daredevil still didn't become an Avenger until two decades time in New Avengers (2010) #16.
3. Ant-Man (78 votes)
Of course referring to Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man, he was an interesting case that he wasn't an Avenger at this point despite having hung around the Avengers and Iron Man almost religiously under David Michelinie's pen. Despite being a consistent ally to the team, it wasn't until over a decade later in Avengers (1998) #52 that he was finally recognised as an official member.
4. Doctor Strange (53 votes)
In 4th place was Doctor Strange, who like most these guys was an on-again-off-again ally and after the dissolution of the Defenders a year or two earlier, he probably could've migrated to the Avengers quite easily. Yet Doctor Strange didn't join with the Avengers until much later in New Avengers (2005) #27 almost 20 years after this poll.
5. Wolverine (51 votes)
Oh lord, you knew this was coming. Wolverine was hot off his first series by Frank Miller and his ongoing had just made it's debut. The character was immensely popular but despite that he only scored fifth place. Not really having much interaction with the Avengers or much point in him being a member he didn't join forces with the team until fifteen years later in New Avengers (2005) #6.
6. Spider-Woman (50 votes)
Spider-Woman, in this case Julia Carpenter, was introduced only 3 years before the poll but in that short time she found herself part of Secret Wars, Freedom Force and appearing as guest star in several big books. Despite ranking below a cast of other candidates, she did become an Avenger shortly after this poll in Avengers West Coast (1989) #74.
7. Silver Surfer (46 votes)
Silver Surfer, much like Doctor Strange, could've easily taken up a place with the Avengers after the Defenders disbanded during Secret Wars II. In fact, with regards to the finale of Secret Wars II, it may have even been testing the waters to see if he gelled with the team since the Surfer was a big player in the (excellent) Molecule Man epilogue featured in an issue of Avengers. Nevertheless, to this day, he still hasn't joined the Avengers despite still being a rather obvious big-name candidate.
8. Battlestar (44 votes)
A lot of you might ask "who the heck is Battlestar"? Well, this poll was conducted a few months after the epic long-running story on Captain America and one of the loose ends was a character called Battlestar. Former partner to John Walker as Captain America, Battlestar had no place to go and dropped off the face of the Earth shortly after only having a brief revival in Silver Sable and the Wild Pack. The altruistic and less abrasive Battlestar would've been a better choice for an Avengers team than Walker who had just become an Avenger himself. Battlestar was optioned for membership and befriended the Falcon, but his relationship with the team - much like the character himself - was dropped.
9. Speedball (34 votes)
Speedball was 1988's "hot character". Created by legendary artist Steve Ditko, he launched out of Amazing Spider-Man Annual and then quickly got his own ongoing which ended after ten issues. All of this in the space of a year. With regards to the time, it's not exactly surprising that one of that year's big characters managed to crack the top ten. Speedball hasn't joined the Avengers yet but he has ties to the team with regards to his early involvement with the Avengers Academy.
10. Doc Samson (29 votes)
Rounding out the top ten is another some what odd choice. Samson's involvement with the Avengers had been minimal but it's pretty easy to see the logic behind including him in the Avengers. With Samson you get a Hulk-type superhero without the problems that come with the real Hulk. Despite it making sense, Doc Samson never did join the Avengers and with him being dead and another 5 Hulks to choose from nowadays, it's not looking likely he ever will.
11. Sandman (28 votes)
Former Spider-Man villain Sandman ranked at 11th. Sandman was another character who had recently underwent some major changes - namely his reform that had been chronicled across various Fantastic Four and Spider-Man comics and led to alliances with Silver Sable, Hawkeye and the Avengers. The new direction for the character was working well and a miniseries starring the former villain was even planned around this time which sadly never got off the ground. Despite not making the top ten, Sandman found his way on to the Avengers within a year in The Avengers (1963) #329.
12. Shroud / Punisher (27 votes)
Avengers ally Shroud and another hot character of the time The Punisher tied at 12th place. While the latter hasn't joined the Avengers and hopefully never will, it's understandable that he would end up with a few votes in a poll among readers - particularly during the character's heyday. The former however has a bit of a complicated history. A long-time ally, Shroud was offered a spot as a founding member on the West Coast team but declined. He was later revealed only a year earlier to have been discreetly assisting the team from the shadows all the while. Subsequent creators believed him to be an Avenger whereas nowadays it's been swept under the rug and he's not considered one. As it stands, neither characters have much chance to be an Avenger, with the former rarely appearing and the latter completely unsuitable for the team.
13. Firelord (23 votes)
Much like Shroud, Battlestar and Spider-Woman; Firelord was another character who had recently made a big splash in the Avengers family of books. He surfaced amidst Secret Wars II and after the infamous fight with Spider-Man, Firelord allied with the Avengers for several issues to battle such space threats as Nebula, Skrulls and the Beyonder. It seemed incredibly likely that he was going to join with the team but instead the former herald of Galactus left alongside Starfox to investigate Nebula's claims about Starfox's heritage. Other than during the Infinity Gauntlet, Firelord hasn't really mixed it up with Avengers since.
14. Stingray (19 votes)
Stingray, like Ant-Man, had been hanging around the Avengers for so long it was easy to mistake him for an Avenger. Owner of Avengers Island/Hydrobase - their then-current headquarters - Stingray usually found himself thrown into adventures with the team. Even though he ranked at 14 on this poll, he still became a full-fledged Avenger within the next year in The Avengers (1963) #319.
15. Giant-Man / Jack of Hearts (16 votes)
The second tie saw Giant-Man (or as he's better known Black Goliath) and Jack of Hearts with 16 votes each. Giant-Man had been another Avengers ally around this time and had helped the Avengers get their west coast team off the ground and even more recently had joined with Mockingbird's faction of the West Coast team during the Evolutionary War.
Jack of Hearts on the other hand had limited interaction with the Avengers although he had been Iron Man's sidekick 10 years earlier and the character had just received his own miniseries, but like a lot of these characters he had no where to go. Sadly, that was the character's downfall, he didn't really appear anywhere for a long time although he later became an Avenger over a decade later in Avengers (1998) #38.
16. Colossus (15 votes)
With 15 votes, the X-Men'sColossus might seem a bit of an odd choice but it's worth noting that he had only recently rejoined the cast of X-Men following him being incapacitated by injuries during Mutant Massacre. And even with his return, it wasn't clear he was going to become a full-fledged member again. Ultimately he did following the team's alleged death at the end of Fall of the Mutants, but if he didn't show up to "die" with them then the Avengers would've been a good alternative for him to offer his strength. Colossus never did join the Avengers and following current events it's not looking likely he ever will.
17. Cyclops / Nomad (14 votes)
Tying with 14 votes each is X-Factor's Cyclops and Captain America's pal Nomad. The former has always been one of Marvel's most iconic and popular characters and he always could've easily slotted in with Earth's Mightiest Heroes if not for his leadership duties with the X-Men or as it was then X-Factor.
Nomad on the other hand was another character who was at an awkward crossroads during this period. He had only recently stormed out on Captain America calling him as much as a pussy and hadn't been seen for a while. He eventually resurfaced spinning off into his own ongoing series but he made little interaction with Avengers afterwards sans Captain America, Falcon, US Agent and D-Man.
Current continuity, much like in the case of Colossus, makes it unlikely that either will be optioned as candidates. For starters one of them is dead.
18. Firestar / Beta Ray Bill / Black Cat (13 votes)
Firestar, like her future New Warrior teammate Speedball, was another hot new character of the 80s. Actually, she was probably better known as one of Spider-Man's Amazing Friends and her appearances in the comics were pretty scarce. But like Speedball, she was a character who Marvel had gave a slight push to and she had her own miniseries not long before. She did eventually become an Avenger ten years later in Avengers (1998) #4 alongside another New Warrior and her then-boyfriend Justice.
Beta Ray Bill was also a fairly recently introduced character over in the pages of Thor. With Thor coming and going regularly due to the exploits in his own book, perhaps Beta Ray Bill couldn't been a better Thor for the Avengers? We've still never really seen Bill mix it up with the Avengers.
As for Black Cat, she was offered membership during Secret Wars but following her break-up with Peter she didn't really mingle with the superheroes much. She would've been a good addition around this period as she was also infrequently in Spider-Man's book due to the aforementioned break-up.
19. Human Torch / Rogue / Frog-Man / Nick Fury (11 votes)
A 4-way tie at 19. There's not a lot to say about most these guys and their connection to the Avengers. Human Torch is still the only member of the Fantastic Four who hasn't been an Avenger - although worth noting shortly after this poll the Original Human Torch became an Avenger although that was purely coincidental.
Rogue, like most X-Men characters, was hot property in the late 80s and had made her first appearance in an Avengers comic which gave her a bit more stake to the Avengers claim than some other X-Characters. Nevertheless, it's not surprisingly that it took them nearly 25 years to get around to adding Rogue to an Avengers roster.
The goofy Frog-Man had been guest-starring in various books since 1982, managing to get by on his own luck rather than skill. He was a great comic relief character and in fact recently he did ally with the Avengers during Spider-Island.
Despite media adaptations Nick Fury has never had much to do with the Avengers as a team, although he did and will again play a part as an ally to the Defenders. With that team's recent demise in 1986, Fury like Surfer and Strange could've been transplanted over to the Avengers. But, it's understandable why most these guys never really became Avengers.
20. Puma / Red Wolf (10 votes)
And in last place with 10 votes each are two oddly similar characters. Puma was another character who had recently been introduced as an adversary and sometimes ally to Spider-Man. After a convulted and ridiculous inclusion as a part of Secret Wars II, it seemed Puma was destined for more than just chasing Spider-Man around. Seems no-one other than 10 people thought so and Puma stayed in the Spider-books mostly from then on out.
Red Wolf on the other hand first appeared way back in the 70s and became an ally to the Avengers before spinning off into his own-short lived book. He disappeared for a while after that before joining up with the Rangers. Although, he wasn't very relevant at the time of this poll, he had always seemed like a loose end. He always seemed like someone who was intended to join the Avengers but due to writer change-overs never did.
Both characters could've made interesting Avengers but I doubt they'd be at the top of anyone's wish lists.
Continuing on with my week of Avengers-themed blogs, this time I'll be listing my Top 5 new recruits to the Avengers following the controversial Disassembled storyline. And, no, Storm won't be on this list so don't bother complaining about it, fanboys.
Since Disassembled the Avengers have recruited over 25 new members, have awarded 6 honorary memberships and have branched out into multiple teams! What follows are my 5 favorite additions to the Avengers in that time...
Stature was a Young Avenger who was drafted into the Avengers during Dark Reign. Unlike her fellow Young Avengers, Stature was the only character who existed prior to the first Young Avengers series and had links to the team through her father, the second Ant-Man. Stature joining the Avengers added something the Avengers had been lacking since the debut of New Avengers; youth and innocence. Stature was pretty much just a sweet, goofy girl among heroes. However, the Avengers had been going through some thematic dark, moody and depressing stuff so Stature was a breath of fresh air interjecting a cute voice into the mix whether it was gasping at her peers' swearing or calling "Jinx" when both "uncle Hank" and Norman Osborn yelled "Avengers Assemble!".
The new Hulk is a pretty hard character for a lot of folks to accept. Almost entirely down to the silly introductory stories by Jeph Loeb which had the character pretty much beat every damn character up regardless of their power. The character has been pretty sharply improved under the talented pen of Jeff Parker over in Hulk and around that time he was also added to the Heroic AgeAvengers relaunch. It's pretty jarring that a guy who was once a terrorist who attacked the White House is now rubbing shoulders with Captain America and Thor but the thing is the new Hulk is actually turning out to be a pretty good Avenger. In fact, one of the better moments so far in Avengers vs. X-Men featured the new Hulk motivating and leading the Avengers into the battle on Utopia. Although I don't think anyone was too thrilled with his addition to the roster, it's beginning to feel like he's got potential as an Avenger.
The Avengers have had a habit of recruiting former villains with the likes of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Swordsman, and even a clone of Madame Masque at one point, so slotting another villain among the ranks doesn't cause too much of a double take from the readers. Ares was by no means a great Avenger or even a great character, but one thing he sure was was fun. Whether it was arrogantly fighting Doctor Doom, single-handedly demolishing an army of Iron Man armors or, in his best moment, knocking out Wonder Man so he could attempt to destroy Hercules instead of arrest him. Ares tenure with the Avengers felt a bit too short thanks to decompression and random event tie-ins taking up half the issues when he was a member. It's a shame because it feels we didn't get enough of Ares as an Avenger.
Maybe Bendis' finest moment was the Spider-Woman sub-plot in New Avengers. Bendis had polished off a character who had fallen into disuse and made her a super-sexy spy with unclear allegiances. So it was utterly devastating when his best contribution to the franchise was then revealed to actually have been an alien this whole time robbing us of one of the few well developed characters he's written. Alien Spider-Woman was soon killed off and replaced with the real Spider-Woman who has stuck around for almost 4 years now and in that time has failed to do anything half as interesting as her shapeshifting alien counterpart. All she's done since her return is engage in one of the worst inter-Avenger relationships in a long time with Hawkeye.
Valkyrie was another character who had been M.I.A. for a while before she was added to the Avengers. Although adding her to the Secret Avengers instead of the regular team seems odd (maybe the Avengers mixed up Spider-Woman and Valkyrie's I.D. cards and couldn't be bothered to rectify the mistake), but since she joined with the team she's been given some pretty cool moments. Although, most notably and recently she's become something of a breakout star particularly with regards to Fear Itself. The former Defender Valkyrie seems to be earning her place among Earth's Mightiest Heroes and if we continue to see her being as prominent as she was in a series like The Fearless, then I can't see many people disagreeing with her place at #1.
With the Avengers film lighting up the cinemas, I'm going to do be doing a few Avengers-themed blogs to commemorate the release and share some of my Top 5s correlating to the Avengers franchise.
We start off with a list of my 5 favorite Avengers who weren't members of the team for very long. Obviously, I had to make a cut off for what was deemed a "brief tenure" since some could say Starfox or Quasar had brief tenures. If a character appeared in more than 6 issues as an active Avenger, they're not eligible for the list.
5. Demolition Man
Probably the biggest example of a short stint as an Avenger, Demolition Man (or more commonly D-Man) was recruited by Steve Rogers for the Avengers after they disassembled (back in the 80s, before it was "cool"). The Avengers needed to reform to battle the threats of Inferno and the Evolutionary War, and at the time, D-Man was one of Steve's closest friends and therefore one of his the first choices for the team. D-Man was an Avenger for all of an issue. And not even an issue of Avengers but instead an issue of Captain America. His sole mission saw The Avengers duo went to the Antarctic to rescue John Walker from Flag-Smasher and ULTIMATUM. Despite his silly Daredevil-meets-Wolverine costume, D-Man was inherently a nice guy and actually earned his place as an Avenger as evidenced by him sacrificing himself to save the life of a terrorist resulting in him being blown up over the Arctic sea (in a scene obviously mirroring what happened to Bucky). Robbing him of the noble death, D-Man was brought back a few years later and since helming the Marvel Universe Brian Bendis has seemingly made it his prerogative to make D-Man into even more of a laughing stock as a mentally-ill homeless villain.
Darkhawk had a solo series that lasted 50 issues, he was a member of the New Warriors and the Avengers and he has recently played prominent parts in events like War of Kings. Despite all that, he still struggles to find a proper place in both the Marvel Universe and in ours. Darkhawk joined the Avengers in a story that ran across annuals in 1992 called "Assault on Armor City". In fact, it was a really good story. In a typical comic book manner, after they fought for a while, Darkhawk teamed up with the Avengers and helped them battle the real bad guy: Professor Power. Darkhawk then appeared with the Avengers in their own book for 3 issues as they battled Doctor Demonicus and the Pacific Overlords. And that was it for Darkhawk's tenure as an active Avenger. He opted to resign to being a "reserve" member which didn't work out well for him since the Avengers abandoned that entire system a couple of months afterwards.
It's impossible to do this list without listing the most famous and memorable Avenger who wasn't with the team for long. Hulk was a founding member who quit in the second ever issue of Avengers. Hulk is a loner and a liability, so it only makes sense that he wouldn't stick around with the team for long. Although Hulk has been optioned to rejoin the team a few teams, most notably during his "Professor Hulk" days during his frequent team-ups with the Avengers during the Infinity Gauntlet, War and Crusade, he doesn't have any desire the re-enter their ranks. Simply put, Hulk and the Avengers aren't a match. In fact, he's appeared more often as an adversary to the Avengers than as an ally. Although, with the Hulk an Avenger in the movies and Marvel's pandering to the movie market, I wouldn't expect it to be long before Hulk rejoins the team fully for some banal reason.
In the early 80s, the rather odd decision was made regarding the traditional and fairly common Spider-Man and Fantastic Four enemy Sandman. After one defeat too many, Sandman decided to move towards reforming. Working mostly as an ally to Silver Sable and Spider-Man, at the height of his heroic phase he was chosen by Captain America to join the Avengers following receiving a pardon for his former crimes. Sandman wasn't an Avenger for long, in fact if you were just reading the Avengers book you wouldn't have gotten much of an explanation for his sudden disappearance! A few months after joining, over in Amazing Spider-Man, the Avengers guest starred (don't forget Spider-Man was an Avenger back then too) and Sandman left the team at the end of the issue after a misunderstanding with Captain America. In a stupid moment of 90s nonsense, Howard Mackie and John Byrne decided to have Sandman become a villain again and ignore all the interesting work done with his reform.
With Siege over and done with, the Avengers recruited some new members for their ranks. Among them was fan favorite and Cosmic darling Nova on the Secret Avengers team. Although putting him on the black-ops group did seem a bit of a bizarre choice, Nova is a character who legitimately fits the Avengers. The fact that it took them so long to get around to making him an Avenger is more of a surprise than anything else. Sadly, Nova's tenure with the team was undeservedly cut short when he perished over in Thanos Imperative. Of all the brief tenures, Nova was probably the most upsetting since he so obviously deserved more of a run with the team.
In their 140 or so issue existence, the reality-hopping Exiles came up against some pretty formidable foes. In a bid to try and get a friend to read the original Exiles series, I decided to attempt to whet their appetite by teasing some of the awesome enemies the team fight with a "Top 5 Exiles Villains" list. Before I even start, it's worth noting I pretty quickly felt overwhelmed after I ticked off the first few obvious choices when I began to realise the Exiles actually had a fairly cool rogues gallery. I'll mention some of the ones I didn't include first: Tanaraq, Proteus, the All-New Exiles, Maestro, the Wolverines, Holocaust and Chris Claremont. Now, what follows is who I consider to be the most interesting, entertaining and deadliest bunch of bastards the Exiles ever came up against!
After having just riled on Chris Claremont for his devastating killing blow to the Exiles title, it seems hypocritical to start off the list with one of his contributions. But the matter of fact is, after all the annoying Psylocke fanwankery, one of Claremont's first stories did debut a pretty cool villain. The Exiles, or as they were practically then known "Psylocke and the Exiles", wound up going to a universe were HYDRA was super-prominent and run by Susan Storm; the Invisible Woman! Sue made an awesomely seductive and menacingly evil Madame Hydra with Wolverine as her lover/lapdog. She even succeeded in converting half of the Exiles to HYDRA's ranks. A real cool and sexy villainess and an interesting take on a classic character, Claremont even kept bringing her back again and again later on in his run but that was by the time that nobody cared about the Exiles anymore.
4. Avengers Forever
A short stand-alone two-parter somewhere around the middle of the Exiles book saw the Exiles go to a world where the Avengers were all vampires. This was before everyone was sick of vampires and it was still pretty darn cool to see an alternate world where the Avengers were villains. Also, Polaris was an Avenger which sure was an interesting tweak to the otherwise classic Avenger line-up presented. As well as being blood-thirsty monsters, they also wore hideous costumes poking fun at the 90s. What more could you want from an Avengers team? They were sufficiently scary and a decent "villain-of-the-week" threat to the Exiles.
Calling Magik a villain is pushing it a lot in my opinion, however she was my favorite Exiles character so I felt her inclusion was necessary if just for that. Magik joined the Exiles not long after the above vampire story and her attitude was radically different from her fellow team-mates. She was pretty quick to kill if it would accomplish the team's mission and locked horns with Mimic and the other Exiles regularly. Despite this, she was shown to have motivation and feelings driving these actions and the times she wasn't back-stabbing the team to accomplish a mission we got to see another softer side to her, particularly the moments she shared with Morph.
2. Weapon X
Part of me feels that they belong at the #1 spot, Weapon X were the "evil Exiles" in as few words as possible. They were a consistent enemy to the Exiles from the start of the series and had some really awesome moments - including about 10 issues that they actually headlined! The roster changed a few times but a few of the cooler characters stuck around for the long run. There was the Spider (a sadistic Carnage-bonded Spider-Man), eventual Exile Sabretooth, a creepy version of the Vision, every girl's fantasy in a Gambit, a half-robot Deadpool and an awesome slutty Ms. Marvel (who I almost wanted to give a whole separate spot to!). Not all the characters in Weapon X were "evil", the team were simply a more looser-on-the-morals version of the Exiles. Of course, the team only became more of a threat when they were joined by...
1. King Hyperion
A purely loathsome and evil character, King Hyperion started off a member of Weapon X and soon transcended the team and after various cases of him commiting mass murder he wound up an Exiles enemy in his own right. A ridiculously powerful foe, every time the Exiles fought him it seemed as if they simply couldn't beat him. Not only that, but the body count the character racked up across his time in the title is second to none. He killed the population of whole planets, not to mention several Exiles and even Weapon X members. Hyperion was a genuinely terrifying threat to the Exiles and the entire multi-verse. Marvel seem to have noticed that he was a pretty good villain and painstakingly tried to introduce him to the main universe recently and have, in my opinion, completely failed. Reading the Exiles, to think this guy would ever end up as a brief member of the Thunderbolts is insane.