Thursday, January 31, 2013

If I Was In Charge... Of The Avengers! Part One!

Every single person who watches movies, reads books, attends plays, or listens to music has at one time or another made the same statement: "I could do better than that!" It's a phrase I've never truly understood, as it seems to question the speaker's opinion of their own work. For instance, if I said I could direct a better movie than Uwe Boll (which I totally could), one has to wonder how my ego applies: do I think I could make a great movie, which would mean Uwe Boll's work is simply average, or is my opinion of my own work so bad that it makes Boll's work abominable? Or do I somehow believe that there's enough of a gap between my own ability and Uwe Boll's that my movie would be great while his is equivalent to the caked-on-the-floor layers of cat urine you see in any episode of Pet Hoarders?

For the record, his is the equivalent of cat urine.

Now, if my experience on the Internet has taught me nothing else, it's that I'm right, everyone else is wrong, so that takes care of the ego aspect of this argument.  To prove I am a benevolent ruler of this blog, I will graciously share what I consider to be the idea line-ups for the three core "Avengers" teams, both the "deals with big threats" squad, the "street level challenges, if you consider super villains based on constillations to be street level" team, and the "shhh, they don't exist cause they're secret" team.

Feel free to submit responses as to why I'm wrong and why the evidence clearly indicates (naturally) that I consumed a lot of lead paint growing up.

Now, the rules:

1)  Only twelve members per team.  More than that, and it's just completely unmanageable.  Unless you're writing the Legion of Superheroes, of course.

2)  Half the team has to be people who were members before.  Otherwise, I'm not making the Avengers.  I'm making, at best, The Champions or The Secret Defenders.

3) No inserting any characters whose secret origin is from one of the fanfics I tried writing during my foolish younger years.  So, apologies to Zephyr, Teshup, and Bloodknifestabber.  (Bonus game: Figure out which one I created during the 90s)

So, let's start with the BIG team.  These are the guys who show up to fight Ultron, Ego the Living Planet, and deal with interstellar wars that spill over to Earth.  They are the A-team (not the one with Mr. T or the remake), the guys who, when the chips are down, get the job done.

They're also the easiest to begin with, because you're going to see some popular names here.  Starting with the first three:

1, 2, and 3)  Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man.

It's really quite simple: without these three, you don't have the Avengers.  Sure, occasionally one goes on hiatus or needs to leave to deal with a personal matter, but this set is the embodiment of everything the Avengers can handle.  With Thor, you have magic, Iron Man is technology, and Cap is the human element.   You also have, in that assemblage, a warrior, a tactician, and an engineer, reinforcing the idea that the Avengers is, in of itself, a balanced force that is prepared to face any threat.

Now, I can't imagine the key Avengers team without Cap leading it.  I've tried, and each time I always find it lacking.  Not only do you have a seasoned military mind, but you have the man who, over most other people who have ever been on this team, will be the last one standing when evil is about to triumph.  He is the one person who, right when the bad guy has ultimate victory right in its grasp, will spit in its eye and swing for the fences every time.

Iron Man, of course, is just as essential.  If technology advances as fast as it does in our world, it only makes sense that you need the mind behind the most advanced technology (not including Reed Richards and his "making stuff up as he goes along" science) on the planet to back you up.  Tony Stark is the Mr. Spock to Cap's Captain Kirk.  ...actually, he's more the Riker to his Picard.  But anyway.

Thor, of course, is the big gun you call into any situation.  If it can stand up to the might of the God of Thunder, then it clearly is an Avengers-level threat.  More manageable than the Hulk, and more versatile than any other brawler the Avengers have seen, Thor will lead the way in any battle and, after Cap, be one of the last standing out of sheer determination.

Plus, there's the intimidation factor.  Whether it's "We would have words with thee," "I say thee nay," or"Base villain, now you face the might of the Avengers!" anything that emerges from the lips of Thor carries more weight than if, say, Starfox says it.  He provides that classic heraldry that seems to indicate just how noble the Avengers' spirit truly is.

4)  Hawkeye

I love this character so much.  Not originally, mind you, but after the Busiek/Perez run of Avengers I really understood what makes the character so great.  Hawkeye in unique amongst the Avengers (save for one or two others who have their own reasoning) in that he made being an Avenger his entire life.  There's a new series out right now showing what happens when he isn't in costume, but for a long time there was no other life outside of wearing purple and shooting arrows at bad guys.  Hawkeye put himself into being an Avenger 24/7, even if he was on other teams, in which case he did his best to raise that team to "Avengers-level standards."

There's always that sense that, if the call goes out for heroes, before the summoner can even say "Well, let's see who shows up," Hawkeye will slam the door open and ask what's going on.  He is the best example of redemption the Avengers have (remember, before he was a hero, he was an honest-to-god super villain, one able to stalemate Iron Man without ultra-fancy arrows), and is frequently underrated by both characters in his universe and the people who write him, often enough.

5)  Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff had it pretty rough the last few years.  She went insane, blew up the Avengers home base, rewrote reality, depowered most of the mutant population, then got caught up in a plot by Dr. Doom.  However, she's back in the good graces of most people these days, which is great because that whole lengthy storyline was capital "D" dumb.

The daughter of Magneto, Wanda is another example of redemption, having been one of the founding members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  She and her brother Quicksilver turned against their father and decided to fight for justice instead.  She's also ridiculously powerful, able to manipulate chance and probability on either a micro-level (a bad guy's gun happens to jam) to a ridiculously powerful level (see the above-mentioned story lines).  While it does make sense that you'd want to keep someone who can rewrite reality close by, I think they're done trying to play around with Wanda's sanity, and it comes in handy having a bona-fide mystic on the team to add some additional mystical impact (beyond that of Thor's hammer, at any rate).

6)  Spider-Man

Yeah, I know, there's some freaky storyline right now going on about Doctor Octopus in Peter's body and yadda-yadda, it won't be temporary.  Major changes never are.

So, once we get that silly storyline out of the way, we can get him back on a team he belongs with, having been, for years, the biggest team-up character the Marvel Universe has ever had.  Seriously, he's been on the Fantastic Four, he's palled around with the X-Men, he knows Power Pack on a first name basis, the guy's even visited Ka-Zar a few times down in the Savage Land.  Besides the Thing (who starred in Marvel Two-In-One), I can't think of any other character who's teamed up with more heroes than him and has fought everything from cosmic threats to street thugs.

Marvel was smart enough to get rid of the "oh, he works best solo" deal once, get him fixed up and back on the team already, people.  We ain't buying it. the figurative sense, I think book sales are actually pretty good right now, but- anyway, that's not my point.

Okay, here's where we start to drift from a classic Avengers line-up.

7)  Songbird

Another story of redemption, Songbird was once Screaming Mimi.  Screaming Mimi was, for all intents and purposes, lame.  Then the book Thunderbolts came along and took and idea that, anywhere else, would be a lame Green Lantern rip-off and made it into one of the best characters of the late 90s/early 00s.  Strong, powerful, and determined, she's lead the Thunderbolts at certain times (granted, during the strange Norman Osborn days), has a strong working knowledge of a lot of the criminal threats that the Avengers might face,

She's also the one person on the team who I think would keep them the most grounded.  If, at any time, the Avengers started to overstep their limits, she'd be the person able to recognize the fastest how close they'd be becoming something they often fought against.  After all, who better to state "hey, maybe we need to step back and rethink this" than someone who served under super villain and successful world conqueror Baron Zemo multiple times?

It's her time to be on the lead team, and I even think it might work for her to study under Cap as a "protege leader."  She's got the chops, she just needs to fine tune them.

8)  Rogue

So, one thing I like about the current Avengers books is that they have people taken from the X-Men and applied here.  One who definitely deserves a shot at being a "big leaguer" is Rogue, who can't get away from mutant drama and Gambit fast enough, in my opinion.

You're probably catching on that, in the Avengers history, there are a lot of people who started out bad.  Rogue's another example of that, having fought the X-Men, mind-wiping another hero (Carol Danvers, who I have no idea what she's going by any more code-name wise) and leaving her in a coma, and has dragged along that "Ah can't touch anybody" drama for waayyyyyy too long.  What she is, distilled down to her essence, is someone who lives to help other people, packing strength, flight, southern charm, and a neat "power-stealing" ability that also works for things like "hey, try really hard not to think of where the bombs are planted while I honk your nose."

9)  Banshee

Theresa Rourke, formerly "Siryn" is the daughter of deceased X-Men member Banshee who later decided to take on her father's name because banshees have always been women and his name never made much sense to begin with.  She shares his mutant gift of having a sonic scream that hits like a freight train and allows her to fly, as well as some subtle tricks she can pull with her voice to manipulate people.

Yes, this does make two sound people on a team if Songbird is around, but I also have several people with super-strength, and nobody is complaining about them.  Songbird and Siryn use similar power origins in completely different ways, allowing enough versatility that in this case I'd allow it.  She's also an established hero, having served on several X-teams, keeps her cool on the battlefield, and brings one more amazingly attractive accent to the party.  And there's always room for accents that great.

Okay, those were strange they get bizarre.

10)  Sasquatch


Walter Langowski, formerly (once I'm done with him) of the team Alpha Flight, is one of Canada's premiere superheroes.  Now, here's one thing I want in my version of the "premiere" Avengers, and that's a bit more international flavor.  You can't really be "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" if everyone on your team is either from America or Asgard (granted, you get the occasional Russian who speaks with a perfect American accent or a guy from a made up country in Africa, but it's still predominately "USA! USA! USA!").

With Wanda we get some of that Eastern European flavor, Theresa's decidedly Irish (and comes with her own haunted castle!  Someone needs to remind Marvel about that!), and Walt would fill in the hole for someone being from our neighbors to the north.  He's a keen scientific mind who also happens to turn into a giant, shaggy beast who punches holes in walls like they were made of paper.  He's also a neat tie to some long-ignored story lines, like the "Great Old Ones" that exist in the frozen north, and perhaps with some Avengers back-up they could finally shut down that ridiculous "Weapon X" program that keeps turning people into weapons.

11) Radioactive Man

Okay, now you guys must think I'm just messing with you.

Chen Lu was, up until a short time back, a major villain threat that the Avengers frequently faced.  He used to go mano-a-mano with Thor, was part of the original Masters of Evil, and fought everybody from Spider-Man to Iron Man...but here's the thing.  On his own, he's never really been evil.  He once joined a few Russian super villains in Vietnam, trying to be superheroes there (before a confused mix-up with the Avengers happened), and also served, quite well I might add, as part of the Thunderbolts, which is all about (here's that word again), redemption.

With China being so key in the world scene right now, I really don't think you can justify having 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes" not try to include someone from that country, and who better than a villain who seems to honestly be trying to make himself a better person in a changing world?  I mean, really, it's not like they're going to get any stranger than this, right?

12)  Ginny Mahoney (no codename)

Poor girl's suffering from a bad case of "90's Art"

Sit down!  I promise, this makes sense!

Ginny Mahoney was a throw-away character, introduced in an issue of X-Men Unlimited as a young woman turned into a prime sentinel (it involves nanotechs, don't worry about it, the storyline was very silly) trying to hunt down and capture/kill mutants.  However, upon realizing that she was more of a threat to civilians around her than the mutants she was hunting, she managed to override her own programming (something nobody else who was a prime sentinel ever managed to do up to that point) and fled the scene.  Now, to be fair, the last page of the comic indicates she was shot in the head by super villain Bastion and "was never found again."

But considering how often "forever" works in comics, I think we can just ignore that, don't you?

That "redemption" theme would come back into play again, as someone who is constantly fighting against a power inside of her that was designed solely to hunt and kill a specific group of people, and there's just added drama when it happens to be people you're on the same team with.  It would be a constant challenge, at first, to prove that she's more than what she was programmed to be, and that she deserves the second chance she's been given (something Rogue, Hawkeye, and Songbird would all sympathize with, I think).

Plus, won't it be nice the first time the Avengers have to fight an X-Men villain, they'll have someone on the team who can say "Oh, yeah, I was created to fight against people like you...non-lethal, of course..."

So that's my pick for the primary Avengers team.  Some of the old guard, some established heroes, and a few newbies to help round it out.  Before anybody cries out "how could you leave out X or Y or ZZZZZeeeeeeeeee," let me point out I'm not done yet.  I still have two more teams of Avengers to build, and believe me, they're going to get stranger from here!

(If you do wish to complain, of course, you can always send me an email telling me that my choices prove that I spent too much time drinking from that creek downstream from the chemical plant or leave a comment below!)

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