The 6 Characters on My Avengers Team
San Diego Comic-Con is this weekend, and to celebrate, I’ve put together a List of Six that may be one of the purest forms of comic book geekery: what is my ideal Avengers lineup? What is my dream team? We’ve played this game several times before with the Sinister Six and X-Force, well now I’m setting my sights on the big guys. The game is simple, and as a comic book geek, I think it’s fantastically fun: if I were hired to write an Avengers comic, and had free reign over what characters to put on the team, who would I pick? Who would you pick?
The Avengers are very different from the Justice League over at DC Comics. I could never do one of these lists for the Justice League, because my ideal lineup for that team is the same as everybody else: use the top 7 classic Justice Leaguers: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. That’s the perfect Justice League, hands down. No need to debate. But the Avengers are very different. The Avengers are not just made up of the top superheroes over at Marvel. The Avengers are their own little family of superheroes, known more for being Avengers than for being solo heroes. And if I were to make a team of Avengers, I definitely wouldn’t put popular characters like Spider-Man or Wolverine on the team just because they sell.
I have my own ideas. And I’m sure you have yours. Join me after the jump for the characters I would put on my Avengers team. And please share your own ideal lineup in the comments!
6. U.S.Agent, War Machine and Beta Ray Bill
Who are they: Any proper Avengers team should have Captain America, Iron Man and Thor in their lineup. Those three are the Avengers. Simple as that. But there’s something kind of funny about those three: each one has an off-brand, knock-off version running around the Marvel Universe. And if I were making my own team of Avengers for a new comic, I would try something completely different and put U.S. Agent, War Machine and Beta Ray Bill on the team, acting as stand-ins for the three main Avengers for whatever reason. Considering how well Cap, Iron Man and Thor get along, I think it would be neat to see their knock-off versions trying (and probably failing) to get along in the same way.
U.S.Agent is John Walker, a military man who was picked by the government to replace Captain America when Steve Rogers stepped down. Walker is a gruff asshole who takes his job very seriously, but is nonetheless a hero. When Steve Rogers returned as Captain America, Walker was given his own black costume and renamed U.S.Agent. War Machine is Jim Rhodes, an Air Force pilot and Tony Stark’s best friend. I’m sure you all remember him from the two Iron Man sequels. Tony made Rhody his own suit of metallic armor, and War Machine has been a hero ever since. Beta Ray Bill is one of Thor’s best friends, and is one of the only other beings in the entire universe capable of lifting Mjolnir. Remember in the movies how only someone who is ‘worthy’ can lift Thor’s magic hammer, and how that’s pretty much only Thor? Well that’s how it was in the comics as well, until the noble alien Beta Ray Bill came along and proved himself worthy to life the enchanted mallet. Rather than deprive Thor of his signature weapon,Odin made Bill a magic hammer of his own, and Bill has since been one of Thor’s closest and most powerful allies.
Why pick them: Like I said before, I mostly just think it would be neat to get the three of them together, considering their relationships to the main three Avengers. But from a storytelling point of view, I just think they would add a cool dynamic to the team. Right now, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor are the best of pals. They get along with one another and they work well together. So what happens when those friendships aren’t automatically in place? Walker, Rhody and Bill would have to learn how to get along too if they’re going to be an effective team. They’d have to cross cultural and personal borders in order to understand one another and lead the Avengers. The trio could have a really cool story arc over the course of whatever Avengers tale I want to tell.
Who is she: Speaking of off-brand, knock-off versions of popular Avengers, what about She-Hulk? She’s Jennifer Walters, hot shot attorney and cousin to Bruce Banner. When old Brucey Boy helped her out with a blood transfusion, Jennifer became She-Hulk, except she doesn’t have any anger issues. She’s all of the Hulk, but none of the rage, meaning she can completely control her big, green, muscular side. And even though the male version starred in last year’s The Avengers movie, She-Hulk is actually the one with more time on the team under her belt . Personally, I’ve never felt that Hulk really works on the Avengers. He’s too much of a loose cannon.
Why pick her: She-Hulk, on the other hand, is perfect. She’s smart, funny, sexy and strong, making her the perfect addition to any Avengers lineup. Plus, it continues the theme of using the alternate versions of the popular Avengers, which I think is a neat theme to keep following. If those earlier three characters are always butting heads, She-Hulk could be the voice of reason, which, I think, is a great role for a Hulk to have in any story.
Who is he: Another character you may know from the movies, the Beast is a big, furry, blue super genius who usually hangs out with the X-Men. He’s Hank McCoy, resident genius of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, and also an accomplished mutant acrobat. But what you may not know about Beast is that he spent several long years as a member of the Avengers, mostly in the 70s and 80s. He was the first X-Man to make the leap over to the Avengers.
Why pick him: I love the idea of Beast returning to the Avengers. He did it recently in Secret Avengers, but the role was too small and the series barely lasted a dozen issues or so. Beast has been with the X-Men for decades now in the same role as always, doing the same thing. He could use a change of scenery and some new characters to bounce off of, bouncing being his thing. Beast would also provide both the comic relief and the super science, a potent combination.
Who is she: Tigra really lives up to her name. Greer Nelson is a weretiger babe in a bikini. Simple as that. She’s got some sort of complicated origin involving cat-people, but that’s not important. She’s a ferocious tiger-woman warrior babe. What more do you need to know?
Why pick her: Tigra is a great visual. She’s a strong female character and a total ass-kicker, both of which are needed in any Avengers comic. But she’s also one of the most unique-looking female characters in comic. Weretigers are just plain cool. What more do you need to know?
2. Ant-Man (Eric O’Grady)
Who is he: Eric O’Grady is the Irredeemable Ant-Man, created by Robert Kirkman, the writer of The Walking Dead. Eric is a selfish, skeevy asshole who stole the Ant-Man costume and then immediately used its shrinking powers to spy on women in the shower. That’s the kind of superhero he is. And that’s why he’s perfect for my Avengers lineup.
Why pick him: Eric O’Grady was an Avengers for maybe five minutes when writer Ed Brubaker wrote the series Secret Avengers. Eric had been a douchebag for most of his superhero career — starting with stealing his costume — but he revealed himself as a pretty heroic guy during the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn. Captain America recognized the heroism in Eric, and invited him to join a secret black ops squad of Avengers, and I thought that was fantastic. Based on interviews with Brubaker at the time, the writer saw a lot of potential in O’Grady. He was a lout, sure, but a lot of heroes started out rather loutish and then grew into better heroes. Brubaker had that in mind for Ant-Man…but then Brubaker left the title after only six uses, and the replacement writer, Rick Remender, promptly killed Ant-Man and created an evil clone.
Total waste, in my opinion. Eric O’Grady has a ton of potential as a rookie superhero learning how to be a better person, while simultaneously still being such a perv that he’ll hit on his female teammates and maybe do a little ogling and spying. He’s the perfect addition to any team as the rough-around-the-edges greenhorn who has a lot to learn about being a superhero, while simultaneously just looking cool in his fancy Ant-Man duds.
Who is she: Why Songbird is not already an Avenger, I will never know. She has been groomed for the role for years now, and it’s far past time for her to rise up and stand as one of the greatest, most complex heroines of the generation. Here I am heaping all of this praise onto Songbird, and a lot of you probably don’t even know who she is, so it’s a good thing I’m here. Songbird is Melissa Gold, and she debuted in the late 70s as a super-villain named Screaming Mimi. She had screaming powers, obviously, and even teamed up with a guy called Angar the Screamer. Don’t judge, it was the 80s. Melissa would have stayed in obscurity forever if subsequent writers hadn’t picked her to first join the Masters of Evil, and then the first incarnation of the Thunderbolts.
The Thunderbolts are a genius bit of storytelling. When they debuted, Marvel started running ads about this new superhero team, the Thunderbolts, composed of all new, original characters. That’s always fun. But then on the last page of the first issue, the writers surprised everyone by revealing that the Thunderbolts were not original characters, they were the Masters of Evil disguised as new superheroes. It was all part of their new, ingenious plan to take over the world! But the evil scheme didn’t exactly go as planned, because Songbird and the other villains found out that they liked being heroes. In fact, they liked it so much that they ditched their evil leader and decided to turn the Thunderbolts into a real hero team!
Since then, Songbird has stuck with the Thunderbolts and her new friends through most of their incarnations. She likes being a her, and she’s pretty darn good at it, even when the odds are against her. But sadly, she hasn’t risen very far beyond the Thunderbolts.
Why pick her: And that’s exactly why I would pick her to become an Avenger. If we allow ourselves to believe that being an Avenger is something to strive towards, then Songbird has definitely earned it. She is a former super-villain who has successfully turned over a new leaf, and she has since proven herself to be one of the toughest superheroines in the Marvel Universe. She’s got a great personality, a fantastic back story, a lot of pink and loads of potential to stand among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It’s time for Songbird to stop sitting on the bench and sing her heroic tune.
Those are my Avengers, who are yours? If you were handed the reigns of your own Avengers comic, which characters would you pick for the lineup? Would you stick with a classic Captain America-led team? Or maybe you prefer Luke Cage and his New Avengers? Or maybe you’d try something completely different! Share your dream lineup with us in the comments!