Marvel NOW! is the latest flashpoint for Marvel fans. Everything’s changing and it’s the perfect time to jump on (or off) of various books. Almost all of the main titles are getting new creative teams. And, as has been the time honoured tradition of new creative blood, the super hero teams are getting new rosters. This is always a very exciting time for fan boys and girls alike. Who will the new members be? Will my favorite be one of them? How many teams can Wolverine BE on?
The Avengers books have always been particularly good at exploiting these moments. The covers usually announce that THIS is the issue where the new team is picked. There’s usually a smattering of cards, or faces, and a big question like, “WHO WILL BE THE AVENGERS?”
The team usually stays fairly consistent for a few years. Sure, some people may come and go, but there’s usually a fairly stable core. For example, I only really started reading Avengers during Brian Michael Bendis’ run so, for me, the core team is Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and eventually Thor. But, for more old school readers, it’s not the Avengers if it doesn’t have The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Beast.
At this point, it seems like the number of characters who have been Avengers is growing so large that every Marvel hero from Captain America to Squirrel Girl will have been an Avenger. I mean, I think the announced roster for Hickman’s run is a little big – 24 members! That’s more characters than pages in an average single issue. But, I trust in Mr. Hickman’s abilities. And, frankly, the Avengers should be a huge book where huge things happen.
Prior to my Avengers interest, the X-Men were my team of choice. When I was a kid, we would spend recesses arguing over which characters were cooler, and building our dream rosters. That’s the thing with the X-Men – I think if you took a group of 10 people and sat them down with a list of the all the mutants in the Marvel Universe to choose from and forced them to pick an X-Team with ten characters on it, you’d get ten completely different teams.
To give you an example, here are three teams put together in the last decade or so. Bendis will be taking over the main X-Men book shortly, and he’s taking the team back to the original five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and Beast). When Joss Whedon did his run the team was made up of Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, The White Queen, Armor, Colossus, and Shadowcat. Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men run consisted of Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Chamber.
(I think next week I’ll try to cobble together my ideal X-Men team.)
Anyway, Marvel doesn’t have a monopoly on this by any stretch of the imagination. The first time I had read any JLA stuff had been during the Death Of Superman when the team consisted of Ice, Fire, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardiner, Bloodwynd, and Maxima. (Just to show how many times I’ve read that collection, I actually pulled that list straight from memory.) When Grant Morrison took over, the team reverted to the classic roster of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. And while that is an infinitely cooler team, I still look back kind of fondly on the days when the team was made up of second stringers.
As much as we’d like to think that the creative teams are the reason most people buy or stick with a book, I think the characters on the team play as big, if not a bigger, role. So, if any of you get the singular honor of writing one of these team books some day in the future, make sure you take great care in picking the roster. You could end up defining a generation’s idea of who that team is.
Graham Becksted is the only member of The Secret Graham Coast Avengers. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.