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8 Heroes for the Perfect Super Team

Your guide to gathering the good guys

By Chad Derdowski     February 17, 2010
Source: Mania

There’s a lot of restructuring going on in the Big Two. The absence of the Trinity in the DCU, combined with personal differences, have cause the Justice League to go kablooey and Marvel is already teasing us with images of Avengers both secret and known. The two biggest teams in the world of superheroics are going to look quite different over the next few months but as anyone who has read comic books for the majority of their life knows, the more things change the more they stay the same.

We’ve already made our suggestions for some characters we’d like to see get an Avengers membership card to put in their wallet but this week we thought it best to offer a reminder to both companies that certain criteria must be met when assembling a superhero organization. There are guidelines that every team has to follow and in the interest of world peace, we’ll go over a few of them. You see, a team can’t be a team if it doesn’t have the following…

 

The Leader

It goes without saying that a leader has to be brave and stoic: someone the rest of the team looks up to. If we had the slightest inkling of how football works, we’d probably compare the team leader to a quarterback. As it is, we spend most of our time locked in a hermetically sealed vault drooling over our mint-in-box Secret Wars action figures, so you won’t see any sports comparisons here. Bottom line: a hero has to lead.

But more important than his or her leadership abilities is the leader’s self-doubt and feelings of not belonging. Perfect examples of this are Cyclops (constant sadness over the deaths of various teammates from Thunderbird to Phoenix), Captain America (constant sadness over the death of Bucky and his inability to adapt to the modern world) and Superman (neither human nor truly Kryptonian). In the heat of battle, a leader should be confident and stable, but once the fight is over: he’s a total wreck. A modern example is, quite naturally, the new Captain America (constantly distraught over his time spent as a Soviet assassin).

If such a hero cannot be found, a suitable replacement is the female who no one thought was capable but ends up setting a shining example with her awesomeness – examples include the Wasp and Storm.

 

The Big Guy With a Heart of Gold

Because no one expects the big, huge muscley guy to be a lover rather than a fighter, right? While it’s true that a character like Superman fills the role of the bruiser and he does have a heart of gold, he doesn’t quite fit the mold we’re looking for here.

A perfect example of the “loving bruiser” is Colossus of the X-Men. Big scary Russian bear made of organic steel on the outside with the heart of an artist lurking underneath. Thor also works. Even though he has a love of battle, he also comes equipped with a strong moral code and sense of honor. In a pinch, we’ll even accept the Beast, as long as he’s blue and furry.

Other examples of the big muscley bruiser with a heart of gold include Volstagg of the Warriors Three and Bane from Secret Six (yes, we know they’re villains, but even villains are subject to these guidelines).

 

The Hideously Deformed Guy Who Just Might Turn On You

Sometimes a big, tough guy isn’t enough; you need to up the ante by adding a big, tough guy who can’t walk down the street without wearing a trenchcoat, hat and sunglasses. Because of this hideous curse, one never knows if they can fully trust him or if (perhaps when) he will turn on everyone and go the villain route.

Benjamin J. Grimm cornered the market on this category long ago but in recent years has been joined by the likes of Cyborg of the Teen Titans, Damage of the Justice Society and the New Mutants’ Wolfsbane. The Doom Patrol’s Robotman fits as well, though he’s probably more likely to just kill himself in a fit of self-loathing rather than turn evil. Be careful not to include Hank McCoy, Nightcrawler, Strong Guy or Beast Boy in this group though. Not every hideously misshapen mockery of man harbors resentment toward humanity; some embrace their oddity and become lovable big brother characters. Others become comedians as a way to cope, but you never have to worry about them turning on you.

 

The Guy That Everybody Hates

An early example of this archetype would be Green Arrow, who’s never been particularly popular with anyone outside of Green Lantern and Black Canary. Wolverine was the classic 1970’s guy that everybody hated who quickly turned into the guy that everybody loved and was followed by Gambit and Cable as “the dude that no one trusts” quickly became an X-staple. On occasion, reformed villains will be added to the mix, such as Magneto or Sabretooth. Once upon a time, the Avengers actually had an entire roster comprised of reformed villains.

But the title of King Asshole has got to go to Guy Gardner during his stint as the Justice League’s resident Green Lantern. From his lewd comments to his all-around dickish demeanor, nobody got on their teammates’ nerves like Guy did. The new Dr. Light may hope to follow in his footsteps, but being bitchy just isn’t enough. Guy did it all with style and panache – his teammates may have hated him, but readers couldn’t get enough.

 

The Crouching Mean Guy

Lest your villains stop taking you seriously, every team needs a guy who is willing to crouch into a fighting position in every group shot. That’s how you know they mean business and that maybe, possibly, they might even kill somebody.

Spider-Man’s a croucher. So is the Beast. But neither of these gentlemen are mean or even remotely scary (even when Spidey’s in his black suit). They probably fall into the subcategory of “fun loving bouncy guy”, a category that had to be cut due to space constrictions. No, the type of crouching tough guy that we’re talking about has got to put the fear of God into evildoers. The JLA has Batman and the X-Men, Dark X-Men, Avengers and X-Force have got Wolverine (or his son). In the absence of Wolverine, several other characters have done their best to fill out the ranks, including X-23 and Feral.

The croucher is a modern-day staple of every team. To go without one means certain death on the battlefield.

 

The Boobs

If you can’t beat ‘em, distract ‘em. These days more than ever, eye candy plays an important role in the foundation of any team of superheroes.

Marvel Girl, Sue Storm and Wonder Woman have all worn short skirts (or much, much less) during their tenure on their respective teams, but they may as well be wearing snowpants and parkas when you compare them to Spider-Woman’s painted-on bodysuit and Power Girl’s boob window. The boob window was an important addition to Power Girl’s costume, as her previously low-cut shirt wasn’t nearly distracting enough. The boob window ensured that no villain could escape her clutches or her assets while simultaneously making sure that every female comic book fan felt insulted and objectified. Double whammy! Mort Weisinger would be proud.

The late Dave Cockrum was a genius when it came to the addition of The Boobs on a superhero team. The man made a career of designing costumes for superheroines that resembled nothing more than skimpy bathing suits. Fanboys, heroes and villains alike owe this man a great debt.

 

The Others

We’ve run out of room here but special attention must be given to The Brainiac (Reed Richards, Hank Pym) and The Squabbling Couple (Reed/Sue Richards, Scott Summers/Jean Grey, Scott Summers/Emma Frost, Hank Pym/Janet Van Dyne). Sometimes we see a mixing of the archetypes as well, such as Hank McCoy (deformed/crouching/brainiac) and Puck (deformed/bouncing/crouching/funnyman) and even Wolverine (crouching/tough guy/bruiser with heart of gold).

A simple piece of advice to DC and Marvel in this time of team reconstruction: follow our easy guidelines and your universes will remain safe and sound until the next big crossover results in half of your team dying, being reborn and/or splitting off to form a tougher, modern version of said team that don’t take no crap from nobody (see: X-Force, JSA All-Stars, Outsiders, Justice League: Cry for Justice).

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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egoist 2/17/2010 2:04:29 AM

You forgot the smartass type. You gotta have the one liners. Then maybe a dark supernatural type too.

karas1 2/17/2010 2:40:31 AM

It's not so much Power Girl's boob window (though she does badly need some breast reduction surgery.  She looks like she's going to fall over at any moment) but how high up the hip her crotch part is cut.  She must shave down there or pubic hair would be sticking out all over the place.  Nasty.

I just generally want to throw a robe on the girl whenever I see her.

Kara S

egoist 2/17/2010 3:58:06 AM

Breast and reduction should never be used in the same sentence.

Darkknight2280 2/17/2010 4:31:27 AM

EGOIST..i couldnt have said it better. B00bs should never be reduced. It sounds just a dumb as a guy saying he needs penis reduction surgery. Its a slap to the face of GOD!

KillerTomato 2/17/2010 5:05:42 AM

Okay people, this is the 21st Century here, there is one vital role that is necessary on any super-hero team.  You have to have the token minority character...

Wiseguy 2/17/2010 5:11:47 AM

Let Clint Barton lead the Avengers as Ronin or reclaiming his old mantle as Hawkeye. He has all the ingredients necessary

And how about Dick Grayson leading the JL, he's led the juniors before let's give him a shot at leading the big boys
 

fft5305 2/17/2010 6:43:08 AM

Well, I may have to turn in my guy card after this, but I agree with Kara.  Power Girl is a bit top-heavy.  Even as a red-blooded American male who enjoys a good pair of boobies just as much as the next guy, there can be too much of a good thing.  Rob Liefield art was another good example of this problem.  All his women were tiny stick figures with ginormous breasts.  Proportion is more important than simply size.  (Btw, Kara, I hear a rumor that Power Girl got laser hair removal.  Just a rumor....)

littlemikey979 2/17/2010 6:59:09 AM

You forgot to add the geeky tech guy who never gets to really see any action but is always there to get the team out of tight spots with some fast typing on his all powerful computer and the dude who loves big guns guy who always carries...big guns.

heath0920 2/17/2010 7:08:17 AM

What about the "reformed villain" character? The X-men titles have made that a staple - Rogue, Sabretooth, Mystique, Gambit, heck even Banshee started as a villain. The Avengers had Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye. JLA has included Plastic Man, Major Disaster. Heck, the Punisher is nothing BUT a villain!

t seems there's a push for those irredeemable guys to become redeemable in the right circumstances. Besides, it lets you market those scalliwags everybody loves to hate who make all the other "heroes" look like wimps since they don't mind getting their hands dirty.

silversurfer 2/17/2010 7:46:55 AM

The Leader: Dick Grayson/Nightwing. This guy has been through it all, and still has issues about becoming Batman. He's in his shadow no matter what's going on, but he would be a good leader.  (Honorable mention: Catman from Secret Six

The Big Guy With a Heart of Gold: Colossus. I don't know of a bigger one that we all root for.

Hideous Deformed Guy: Swamp Thing. In fact he could even be the heart-of-gold guy, but the deformities are there....

The Guy Everybody Hates: Guy Gardner. That dude is a complete and total A-Hole, but he's funny!

Crouching Mean Guy: The Punisher. Talk about someone that's ready for a fight..

The Boobs: Vampirella.

The Others: Reed Richards (the brain), Wanda and Pietro Maximoff as The Couple.

 

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