...a blind guy with a jungle cat?
...we'll get there. First, we need to review the rules!
1) No more than twelve members. Any more than that, and we're no longer the Avengers, we're the Shi'Ar Imperial Guard, just localized to one planet which would be the worst Shi'Ar Imperial Guard storyline of all time.
3) Only real Marvel Universe characters can be added. This means that, despite how badly I want to, I cannot add Combo Man.
So, let's start out with our leader.
1) Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. The Wasp
Janet ("Miss Van Dyne," if you're nasty) is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated characters Marvel has had, one that they never knew what to do with, and one whose potential is just languishing while she remains dead (oh yeah, she's dead, but that's always easy to fix). Let's break down what she has:
1) Size control and flight. Perfect for infiltration, anyone who can reduce themselves down to the size of an iPhone and slip into a building should always be on an espionage team.
2) She's a rich socialite who travels the world. If Tony Stark can get away with showing up around the world, Janet should be just as able. Fancy parties in Paris or showing up to some hidden event in Hong Kong, Janet's money (or heck, even her on again, off again career as a fashion designer) should be able to get her and a team anywhere they need to be.
3) Besides Cap, I think the Wasp has been one of the longest running and most effective leaders of the Avengers they've had. She'd lead them through invasions from outer space, Kang trying to take over the world, and even lead the Avengers Forever team for the fate of humanity's existence.
This character should be the Marvel Universe female version of James Bond, not even bothering to go around under a pseudonym, just showing up at a fancy hotel, hob-nobbing, and then busting out the superheroics.
Call me, Marvel, I'll write that book for you. I work cheap.
We have our leader, now we need our scientist!
2) Walter Newell, a.k.a. Stingray
I'm just going to say this, I love Stingray's costume. Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's discuss why he's our resident scientist.
The man was smart enough to design a costume that a) allowed him to function underwater for extended periods of time, b) deliver strong electrical blasts, c) give him enhanced strength, d) limited flight abilities out of water, and e) take a punch from Namor. Not too shabby, really. He also has, at various times, a large underwater complex that he does research from, which to me screams "base of operations." Another seriously underused character, I'd love to see this guy get brought up to the front lines (even if it is on the secret team and not the primary team) and get a chance to remind everyone how smart he is.
Now, for some brute force.
3) Jennifer Walters, a.k.a. She-Hulk
She-Hulk not only brings muscle to the party, she also brings one of the sharper legal minds the Marvel Universe has along with it. Also, depending on when you're reading her book, she's also able to transform at-will to her smaller, more demure "normal Jennifer" self, which would seem to me like a great addition to a team that's all about subterfuge and staying hidden until it's time to "She-Hulk smash!"
Plus, having someone there to say "uh, actually, we can't arrest them yet until we have actual evidence" would require them to actually work through a mission, not just smash open a wall, grab a guy, and throw him in prison like in 80s cartoons.
4) Invisible Woman
Do I really need to explain why a woman who turns invisible is great for a covert superhero team? Seriously? I didn't think so.
The ability to hide herself and her teammates from enemies as well as provide the strongest force field comics has seen someone who can't punch planets wield, Sue has the experience, is level-headed, and determination that would make her a strong player on any team, but would certainly help be a great mixture of "infiltrator/field leader" when needed.
I'm bringing in Marvel's sorcerer supreme in as a bit of a ringer on this squad. They need someone who can provide information on anything mystical they fight, and his "astral form" is pretty handy for infiltration and spying, but I don't want him on as a full-time member. Doc Strange is one of those characters where, if you write him to his fullest abilities, then you don't need a team. When he isn't being written to his fullest abilities, then why are you using Doctor Strange?
I had to have someone on the team who knew magic, and as much as I love Jennifer Kale, she's a) dead (easy enough to fix), and b) not quite to this level. Yet.
All right, my "past Avengers (plus one cheat)" are in, so let's see how far out there I can go on the rest of the team.
7) Sybil Dvorak, a.k.a. Skein
|That's, um, quite an outfit.|
...no, not that power set. I mean her actual superpowers.
Sybil is a telekinetic, but each object she manipulates has a different "texture" to her brain. Trying to manipulate a concrete block, for instance, causes her much more discomfort than, say, silk. She focuses her powers primarily on manipulating fabrics and organic material, and before you snicker and say "oh no, she'll attack you with a scarf," I'll point out that she can manipulate up to 120 pounds of material at once. Look at what you're wearing right now. Look around to see how many things made of some kind of fabric are around you. Drapes, carpets, couch fibers, sheets, towels, other peoples clothes are all her weapons against her enemies, and if, for instance, a super-scientist in the Marvel Universe was to make her a costume with extra fabric on it made from something as strong as spider silk? You'd have somebody who could potentially restrain She-Hulk.
C'mon, Marvel, seriously. Five dollars, that's all I'm asking to write this book.
Another "well, duh, of course he belongs on this team" person, Nightcrawler is to covert what Hulk is to smashing. Now, of course, he's also currently dead, but as I keep saying, Marvel has established that being dead is only slightly harder to come back from than "retired and moved to Jersey." I think we can work something out.
10) Abe Jenkins, M.A.C.H. 1-5
Abner (hee) was once the super villain known as the "The Beetle," and he was probably one of the biggest jokes the Marvel Universe had. However, along with Songbird and Atlas, he figured out that being a superhero is much preferable to getting your face punched in by Spider-Man on a regular basis, and has since taken what was once a laughable mechanical flight suit and turned it into something that's not quite on par with Iron Man's costume but, then, he doesn't have Tony Stark's budget, either.
Get him a decent lab along with some Avengers technology, and you'll have stealth armors, high-speed armors, underwater armors...what I'm trying to say is that he'd be quite adaptable to whatever kind of mission the team was sent on.
Okay, folks, I promised there would be some weirder additions to the team before I finished, and here they are.
David Lowell has only appeared twice in Marvel continuity, and is a character that hasn't been seen since 1997. I intend to fix this complete and total injustice by putting him onto a team that would be a perfect fit for him, only because I ran out of room on the primary Avengers squad.
...still don't know who he is? Here's the rundown.
David Lowell worked for Norman Osborn way back before anybody know what a "Green Goblin" was, developing new formulas based on photosynthesis and other plant traits. When Osborn shut him down, he wound up having some of his formula splashed on him before he stumbled into some lamps (isn't that always the way?) The result gave David what we call "ridiculous" levels of super power, with the stipulation that he absorbs light from around him (in his first appearance, he pretty much turned New York City during midday into late evening levels of light). As for power levels...well, here.
That's him shrugging off attacks from the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, and the Avengers (including having Thor's hammer bounce off him), all at once. To be fair, he was rather upset at the time and had been provoked by Spider-Man into his rampage, but after he accidentally hurt someone dear to him, he promptly surrendered and turned himself in.
Fun fact, he's one of the only characters I know who served an entire prison term in comics history, out of sheer guilt from what he did.
Once out, he again met with Spider-Man to take care of a mob boss threatening him, and decided to simply "fade out" of everybody's view to try to have a normal life.
I say "hogwash" to that. Get someone with ridiculous powers, with a keen sense of how dangerous power can be in the wrong hands and how easily people could get hurt, and nobody remembers him and have him be your "big gun" on the team? What better way to keep your Avengers team "secret" than to have the person punching out super villains be somebody they won't even recognize if it weren't for the fact that he just robbed the entire area of any natural light.
A dollar, Marvel. I'll write this book for a dollar.
Well, surely that can't get stranger than tha- oh, here we go.
12) Tagak, The Leopard Lord
Where to begin? Tagak (introduced way back in 1970) was an other dimensional hunter/officer, chasing criminals from his home "mirror dimension." He was essentially blind, by our standards, but could see through the eyes of his leopard familiar a-
No, wait, come back! Seriously, just listen, it'll all make sense in a minute.
So anyway, his primary means of transportation is to teleport from mirror to mirror an-
I SAID COME BACK, DAMMIT. NOW SIT.
Ahem. Anyway, Tagak is one of those "zen" type characters. loathe to spill blood and hates to engage in violence when it's not necessary. However, he's an unstoppable, implacable hunter of criminals and he has a strong sense of justice and what it means to do the "right thing."
Wacky powers and a moral sense that would make Captain America proud? How could I not include him on a team? Plus, he has a giant pet leopard. Only in comics, people!
So there it is, my set-up for the team of Avengers so covert and under the table, even they wouldn't recognize themselves!
In case you feel I've been spending way too much time eating those mushrooms I found in my back yard, be sure to let me know in the comments section below, along with the clearly obvious reasons why your favorite character should've been included in one of these teams.
I promise to read them and then either commit seppuku over my clearly flawed planning (not likely) or simply shrug it off as "well, that's your opinion" (more likely).