6 Marvel Superhero Teams Based in California
I was off last week on a trip to California for a cousin’s wedding. It was a fun trip, book-ended by some pretty horrendous flying experiences. I’m trying to think positively, though, so I’ve decided to do a List of Six based on superheroes in California! There aren’t as many as you think.
Famously, almost all of Marvel Comics superhero antics take place in New York City. It’s where the Marvel Comics offices were based, so they wrote and drew about what they knew. But they also had to acknowledge that other superheroes existed in the rest of the world. And, occasionally, Marvel has paid a visit to the West Coast to check out some superhero antics on the other side of this great country. Let’s explore their weird history, shall we?
Join me after the jump for some pretty unique and eclectic superhero teams that Marvel placed in California.
Honorable Mention: West Coast Avengers
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way with an honorable mention, right? The West Coast Avengers were a joint decision by the Vision and Hawkeye to try and expand the influence of the main Avengers team. So Hawkeye grabbed Mockingbird, Wonder Man, Tigra and Iron Man (who was Jim Rhodes at the time) and moved out west to start up a whole second Avengers team. It was a pretty big deal in the 1980s. The team had a nice life for a couple of years, getting up to all sorts of typical superhero adventures. Then they broke up because we can’t have nice things. The West Coast Avengers did enjoy a little revival a couple of years ago, headed by Kate Bishop, but that didn’t last long either.
6. Force Works
When the 1980s gave way to the 1990s, apparently it was decided that the West Coast Avengers weren’t cool enough and we got Force Works. That’s a much cooler name, right? Apparently Tony Stark was back to being Iron Man by then, and he split up the WCA and grabbed Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman, Wonder Man and U.S. Agent to form the much cooler Force Works to do the same job. The greatest thing about Force Works was that they were adapted into the Iron Man cartoon from the 1990s, and I loved that cartoon. We got a Force Works cartoon years before even the first proper Avengers cartoon series. Madness.
You might not have heard of this team because they have only ever been part of the recent Runaways comic by writer Rainbow Rowell. We’ll get to the Runaways in a bit, but the basic idea is that they are all children of the super-criminals The Pride, who ran Los Angeles with an iron fist and kept all superheroes out of the City of Angels. The only heroes to take on the Pride were the J-Team, a group of colorful, unpowered vigilantes led by Doc Justice. Rowell created an entire decades-worth history for the J-Team, mimicking real world comic book trends (Doc Justice became Dark Justice in the 90s, leading the team Justice For All). Unfortunately, the J-Team was known for frequent hero deaths, which turned out to be orchestrated by Doc Justice in order to garner more fame and attention to his vigilante efforts. He almost killed the Runaways in similar fashion when he got them to revive the crew, but those teen heroes turned the tables on this madman.
4. The Order
Speaking of brief superhero teams is The Order, otherwise known as a failed attempt to revive the name “Champions” at Marvel in the mid-2000s. The Order was created after the Civil War, designed as California’s official team in the 50-State Initiative. The idea was to give 11 civilians a special powers payload that they would hold for one year before they were de-powered and replaced by a whole new team using the same powers payloads. They were created by writer Matt Fraction, who wanted to put a modern spin on how a new superhero team would be created and run. It was a neat idea and I really enjoyed the little series. They were put together by Tony Stark, and were led by newly created Stark pal Henry Hellrung as the heroic Anthem. There’s a whole bunch of characters in the Order, and they were all neat. But, sadly, like all good ideas, the series came to a swift end.
3. The Champions
The Order were originally going to be called “The Champions”, but Marvel was disputing the rights to that name with some other company at the time. The Champions calls back to Marvel’s first West Coast-based team, a fun little group of heroes comprised of Iceman, Angel, Hercules, Ghost Rider and Black Widow from the 1970s. The Champions of Los Angeles were an attempt to create another Avengers-level superhero team, with this kooky crew getting up to all sorts of superhero shenanigans, as one does. The team didn’t last for long, and in subsequent years, the members have mostly poked fun at the whole endeavor. I don’t think it’s such a bad idea.
A topic that I think should be explore more is the relationship between superhero and celebrity. Celebrities are such a huge part of our world, from many walks of life. What would superhero celebrities be like? Few other comics and teams have tackled the idea with as much aplomb and satire as X-Statix, the team of mutant superheroes who exist mostly to court public favor be Los Angeles royalty. They’re famous for being sent on deadly missions and getting killed, and then also a bunch of inter-personal drama. But there was definitely a heart at the center of X-Statix that made it a very entertaining comic.
1. The Runaways
The Runaways may be one of Marvel’s biggest from-scratch hits since the 1960s. A team of young teenagers who find out that they’re the children of LA’s biggest super-villains! And then they themselves get some powers and abilities and fight back, going on all sorts of adventures and forming their own little found family. There have been some great Runaways comics over the years, and a fairly good live action TV show, so good for them! They’re currently in a bit of a lull after that Rainbow Rowell run that introduced the J-Team, and that’s a damn shame. Her comic was phenomenal! They’re a fun team of characters who have a lot of heart and a lot of potential. Hopefully they won’t stay down for long.