Forgotten Characters: Excavator
Whatever happened to the fifth member of The Wrecking Crew, the teenage, shovel-wielding Excavator?
Fans of my blog know that I am a huge fan of obscure superheroes. I just can’t help it. Sure, guys like Batman and Spider-Man are awesome, but I’ve been reading comics long enough to develop a list of favorites who aren’t quite headliners. Some of the best comic book characters of all time only made a few appearances, then somehow got lost to comic book limbo, rarely to be seen again. I think my blog is a good place to highlight those guys, with a new feature I’m going to call ‘Forgotten Characters’.
First up is Excavator, who only made one appearance in Runaways #1 (Volume 2).
Who is he?
Excavator, real name Ricky Calusky, is the illegitimate son of Piledriver, a member of the Wrecking Crew from Marvel Comics. The Wrecking Crew is a group of four super-powered criminals with a construction theme: The Wrecker, Piledriver, Thunderball and Bulldozer. They debuted in 1974, when the evil God Loki granted the Wrecker a magically-powered crowbar. Think Thor and his hammer, but with a crowbar. The Wrecker then gave his buddies a bit of that Loki-magic, and the Wrecking Crew were born.
The Wrecking Crew are the very definition of working schlub super-villains. They never really go away, no matter how many times they are arrested or beat up by the superheroes. They’re always trotted out when some hero needs an easy fight against some sort-of dangerous bad guys. Which is pretty much exactly what happened in Runaways #1 by Brian K. Vaughn. The Runaways were a team of teen heroes who weren’t exactly superheroes, just kids with powers who were trying to do good.
And as such, they needed a teenager-themed storyline. So Vaughn decided to add a fifth member to the Wrecking Crew: Excavator. The story was that he ran away from his grandparents when his estranged dad was back in town, and the Wrecking Crew gave him a magical shovel.
Yeah, he’s kind of a douche.
Why should you care?
Because not all superheroes need to be altruistic heroes. Sometimes you need jackasses to make a full story. Just look at Harry Potter. It wouldn’t be the same without Draco Malfoy around. Here’s a kid with a bad past, a bad attitude and a pretty silly power. Heck, his magic shovel didn’t even survive the fight with the Runaways.
That shovel i’s magic, it can be repaired.
I get that Excavator was probably just intended to be a one-off joke. He succeeds in that regard. But comic book characters shouldn’t stay gone forever. He’s perfect as the bully/douche role in a group setting. Take him away from the Wrecking Crew, but let him keep his magic shovel and uniform. There’s a story just waiting to be told. Why have I gotten so interested in this kid? It’s because of what Molly the Runaway said after Excavator broke his shovel on her head:
She’s totally right! At that point, there was only one guy in the Runaways. They were a team that gained and dropped members a lot. Adding a guy like Excavator to the team would have been fun, I think. Horrible, wanting to smack him kind of fun, but fun nonetheless. He had so much potential as a bad kid trying to be good.
But all hope is not lost. There’s a perfect place for him right now in comics: Avengers Academy. That book, about a superhero school for teenage Marvel Comics heroes, just added a ton of random new student characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe. Any teen hero who wasn’t doing anything else got lumped into Avengers Academy. And that’s awesome!
I just think they could have used a douche or two.