Captain America is a Jerk; Or Why Uncanny Avengers is the Most Marginalized Team in Comics

Marvel currently has an overabundance of Avengers. And why shouldn’t they? In a matter of weeks last Summer, The Avengers movie became the third highest grossing film of all time! It’s only common sense that they would want to pump up the number of Avengers comics they’re putting out. But in doing so they have created an overlap problem. There are too many Avengers.

And the series Uncanny Avengers – which was billed as the flagship series of the new Marvel NOW! campaign – has instead become the red-headed step-child of the Avengers line. And it’s all Captain America’s fault.

He knows what he did

Let me first say that this is not a knock against writer Rick Remender or artist John Cassady. They’re both great creators and they’re putting out a fine, solid comic book with Uncanny Avengers. The problem is that they’ve been completely screwed over by the larger Marvel machine, and Captain America in particular. The guy is a total asshole.

Allow me to explain after the jump.

There currently eight comics being published with the name ‘Avengers’ in the title: Avengers, Avengers Arena, Avengers Assemble, Dark Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Uncanny Avengers and Young Avengers. 

Right away, we can ignore five of those because they don’t have anything to do with the actual Avengers team, they’re just milking the brand name. And there’s nothing wrong with that. By all means, Marvel wants to make money.

This brings us down to three comics that are actually about the team: Avengers by Jonathan Hickman, Avengers Assemble by Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender.

Here are there lineups:

Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Spider Woman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Falcon, Hyperion, Smasher, Captain Universe, Cannonball, Sunspot, Manifold and Shang-Chi.

Avengers Assemble: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain Marvel and Spider Woman.

Uncanny Avengers: Havok, Captain America, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Sunfire, Wonder Man and Wasp.

As you can see, there is some overlap. And it should be noted that Avengers Assemble is a new series that primarily features the team lineup from the movie. It doesn’t have anything to do with the movie, it just stars the same characters. The title was started by writer Brian Michael Bendis, then DeConnick took over and added a few more characters from the comics.

So my question is, which of those lineups is the main Avengers team? Because from the comics I have been reading, it does not appear that Marvel has an actual answer.

Bendis is now writing the two main X-Men comics: All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. And the Avengers have made guest appearances in both of those comics. For those appearances, Bendis uses the lineup from Avengers Assemble.

However, the Avengers have also made guest appearances in both Cable and X-Force, by writer Dennis Hopeless, and Young Avengers, by writer Kieron Gillen. And in both of those comics, it was the Uncanny Avengers lineup that appeared.

And both lineups feature Captain America.

So which is it, Cap? When you’re stepping out on the town with the Avengers, which team do you consider the real team? And how do you decide which team to take with you?

Well to get the answer, and to understand why Captain America is a jerk, you’ve got to look at the stories.

Last year was the big event Avengers vs. X-Men, where the two famous teams came to blows. In the end, Captain America and the Avengers came out as the clear winners. However, Cap realized that he and the Avengers had never really done enough to help the X-Men or mutants in general. So in the wake of the big battle, Cap decided to form a new Avengers team composed of heroes from both the Avengers and the X-Men. And he reached out the X-Man Havok to be leader of this team. Havok was a little hesitant at first, especially since Cap was still going to be on the team, but Havok accepted  and the new Uncanny Avengers was born.

A real winners squad

If this were the only Avengers team, it would be perfect. Everybody learned a lesson, everybody is working together. It looks good.

However, even though he put Havok in charge of the Uncanny Avengers, Captain America clearly had no intention of stepping down as overall leader of the Avengers. No sooner did he set up Havok’s team than Cap put together his own team based on the movie lineup. Havok can have heroes like Rogue, Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch, Cap is going to have Iron Man, Black Widow and the Hulk on his team. That’s the team you see in Avengers Assemble.

But even that wasn’t enough for Captain America, which brings us to Avengers by Jonathan Hickman. The premise behind this series is that Captain America starts with his movie lineup, but he and Iron Man decide to go even bigger. So they recruit a bunch of other superheroes to join them, creating this huge Avengers lineup. The idea is that when a threat becomes too great for the core team to handle, they can call all of these other heroes in for backup. It’s a good plan.

But who’s missing from that Avengers lineup?

Havok and his people.

With the exception of Cap, Thor and Wolverine, no one from Havok’s Uncanny Avengers were invited to join Cap’s larger Avengers lineup.  Why is that? If the idea behind the lineup in Avengers is to have a big team to tackle big threats, why didn’t Cap include the team he put together for Havok? Why even create the Uncanny Avengers if he’s not going to use them as part of the Avengers?

Because Captain America views the Uncanny Avengers as just a quick solution to a PR problem.

Think about it. In the wake of Avengers vs. X-Men, Captain America came out on top, but mutants were a bigger problem than ever before. And they’re a racial problem. So to be magnanimous in his victory, Cap decided to create a new mutant-focused squad of Avengers, and he picked a nice, handsome X-Man to be the leader. Then he let Havok and his pals go off and do their thing while he and the real Avengers got back to proper Avenging.

Cap even goes so far as to call Havok’s team the ‘Unity Squad’, either because he’s terrible at coming up with names, or he wanted to give them the wussiest name imaginable.

“No, no, it’s cool Havok, we’re totally going to let you call yourselves ‘Avengers’, we’re just going to designate your people as the ‘Unity Squad’. It’s not like there are really any other squads. There’s just the Avengers, led by me, and we’ll handle problems both big and small. And then there’s you and the Unity Squad off doing whatever it is you mutants do. Thor and I will check up with you from time to time, but mostly we’re going to be busy with our own Avengers team. You understand.”

Captain America wanted to do something for the X-Men so that they didn’t feel like such losers. So he graciously let them have their own little Avengers squad off to the side, even letting them use the name ‘Avengers’, while he focuses on the real team.

And that is why Captain America is a patronizing jackass. But then if you read the same Avengers vs. X-Men that I did, you already knew this.

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on March 8, 2013, in Avengers, Comics, Marvel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. All of that sounds awesome. I want to throw out a couple points.

    1. Perhaps Uncanny Avengers is the main team, but Cap didn’t bring them along to fight Cyclops because good God that would have been a whole thing.

    2. We may have some shifted timelines here. Comics that come out in the same month can sometimes happen at different times. So Movie-Avengers may have existed before Uncanny Avengers. And Movie-Avengers is really just Cap hanging with his buddies. Which is why he made the Uncanny Avengers to take the spot light so he and his buddies could Avenge things without all the hassle. This is better than making the Movie-Avengers after making Uncanny Avengers because that would have been like hiring a guy for a job then hiring another guy to do the same job.

    3. From what I gather, the Big Hickman Avengers are only to be used as a last resort. They’re not the main Avengers because they’re not a team, they’re just cavalry.

    4. Cannonball and Sunspot are on the Hickman Avengers, which leads me to believe that he uses mutants for more than just PR. Cannonball is an indestructible rocket person. And I’m sure Sunspot is great. So Cap is using them for their powers just like the rest of the Hickman team. And the fact they’re mutants is an afterthought.

    5. Is Wasp alive?

    So what I’m saying is that I think Uncanny Avengers is still Marvel’s intended main Avengers team. Cap brought them to help non-Cyclops related other books. Cap has his old band kicking around. And he’s got a cavalry when things get too big. But Uncanny Avengers are doing the real Avenging. They’re front and center…at least for now. They’re obviously not status quo and in comics that usually means their time is limited.

    • 1. I was going to get into the idea that Marvel is saving the whole Havok vs. Cyclops thing for a different time and probably in the pages of Uncanny Avengers, which is probably why Bendis didn’t use them. But that only makes sense from a behind-the-scenes standpoint. In the world of the comics, the Avengers have no reason to delay that confrontation.

      2. Nope, the timelines fit. Cap formed the Uncanny Avengers while Cyclops was still in prison. And Cyclops is out of prison by the time the Avengers show in the two X-Men comics.

      3. The big team in Hickman’s Avengers is a last resort thing, but based on the splashy logo infographic, as well as the lineup in issue #1, the core of Hickman’s team is the movie lineup.

      4. I was also going to mention these two in my main article, but I’ve been trying to keep from rambling too much. Cap isn’t using all mutants for PR, just Havok’s team. He picked Cannonball and Sunspot for their powers and field capabilities, but he picked Havok because the guy is good-looking and has a clean record. He said so in Uncanny Avengers #1. Cap is not above putting mutants on his Avengers team, but these two are a perfect example of what I’m saying. Cap was willing to reach down deep into X-obscurity to put Cannonball and Sunspot on his big emergency team, yet he’s not willing to let Havok, Rogue or their people join in the big emergency team? Why have such a distinction when it comes to helping out in the big emergency team? Why not have all hands on deck?

      5. Yep, Wasp is alive. Bendis brought her back towards the end of his Avengers run. She was never really dead, she had simply been shrunk down super small and was some kind of freedom fighter in the Microverse, I think…something like that.

      So anyway, booyah! Take that, your attempts to logically curtail my rant!

  2. Yes, the UA squad is a PR team. Cap basically admitted as much in the first issue. He wants a team that shows mutants in a positive light. He wants a team focused on mutant issues. That’s probably also why they’re not part of the huge team – the big team is dealing with big, massive, incomprehensible threats. Bio-bombs launched from Mars? That’s the sort of thing the man on the street just can’t grasp. Cap wants the Unity Team handling problems that people can understand. He wants them to be the most visible Avengers team.

    I would argue that the bigger problem, in terms of mutant outreach, is the team’s actual composition. This is a team built on the premise of promoting tolerance for a minority that faces a lot of of discrimination. So, of course, you have: three blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan supermen; Rogue, a former mutant terrorist who was recently romantically involved with Magneto, THE mutant terrorist; Wolverine, a killer; and the Scarlet Witch, former mutant terrorist, daughter of Magneto, and the woman who nearly wiped out the mutant race in the first place when she went insane (and she also happens to be the only member of the team who belongs to an actual minority, being half-Jewish and half-Gypsy). And soon, they’ll be joined by Sunfire, a Japanese nationalist who’s engaged in terrorist acts; Wonder Man, who recently tried to beat up the Avengers; and Wasp, who’s cool.

    So. All the mutant members are former terrorists or killers, except for the one who’s only the brother of a mutant terrorist. Seriously, this is the best Cap could come up with? Really? Take out the Wasp, replace her with the Falcon. Get rid of Wolverine, and bring in Shadowcat. Instead of Rogue, use Karma. Replace Wonder Man with Sunspot. Basically, fill your PR team with people who aren’t already PR disasters, and fill your minority-supporting team with real minorities.

  3. I know this article is a couple of months old, but this is a really good analysis of the team. What reinforces your thesis is that in every other book they make a guest appearance, Havok’s team is portrayed as ineffectual doofuses: the superhero equivalent of the Keystone Cops. Seriously, they get “pwned” by EVERYONE.

    • That’s a very good point too! They got schooled by the All-New X-Men, by the Uncanny X-Men, and probably by Cable and X-Force too. They just get trotted out as the jobbers these days.

      Plus, as a little update, there’s no sign of them in Infinity. The Avengers go out into space and everyone suddenly thinks the Earth is unprotected? That they need to form the Mighty Avengers? More than half of the Uncanny Avengers are still on Earth…but again, nobody cares about them in the bigger picture. Cap didn’t even invite them to join him in space.

  4. I have to admit, I’ve been sorta meh on Cap for a while now due to the way he’s been written, so I absolutely love this article. That said, I can understand to a certain extent why the Avengers Unity Squad are set up the way they are – they’re unambiguously a PR centered team, rather than a true strike force. The more mutants are put in the thick of violence, the more people associate them with the collateral damage that ensues. It’s been a problem the X-Men have had since the beginning, they try their best to help out and defend humanity, but when things go wrong they get the finger pointed at them ultimately.

    For what it’s worth, I just subscribed to Uncanny Avengers to get a better insight, so I can’t speak with any major confidence as to their intentions. However, I have been a longtime X-Men fanatic, so I’m just saying that I do understand the concept of having a team that’s more focused on actually building human-mutant relations from a PR perspective, rather than a powerhouse team they can use in a pinch.

    • The PR aspect is definitely part of the Unity Squad, but that’s not the only reason they exist. If all of the various Avengers titles were in sync to the point that Unity was clearly the PR branch, that would actually be pretty cool. But Unity is dealing with their own end-of-the-world threat seemingly parallel to Infinity. So it seems like the Unity Squad is supposed to be as legit as any other Avengers group, Rick Remender just decided to throw in some PR subplots.

  5. I know this is old…but I did a video about the early end of this just pointing out that the Avengers have not only had mutants since the second team…most of those mutants have been X-men as well. Anyway…check out the vid…

  1. Pingback: 6 Other Comic Book Captains | Henchman-4-Hire

  2. Pingback: Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 3/30/13 | Henchman-4-Hire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: