Friday, December 7, 2012

A Franchise Falls Flat

Wisconsin puts itself on the super-hero map in a new

Marvel Trivia Question

Well before "the Initiative," what super-team in middle America was this guy a member of?

Maybe this image and its familiar battle cry will help you place this "great" team:

Yes, the Great Lakes Avengers, hailing from Milwaukee and following in the footsteps of--who else?--the Avengers, in order to stake out their own claim in the midwest and continue the Avengers tradition. Unfortunately, they've done so without guidance or authorization, and the use of their adopted name attracts the attention of former Avengers West Coast members Hawkeye and Mockingbird.

The GLA never did take off in their limited guest appearances, having appeared sporadically in Marvel stories. Over time, they've often changed both their name and their members, their writers perhaps looking for that magic combination that would catch fire with readers. At the time Hawkeye locates them, their membership consists of:

Their leader, Mr. Immortal, who always comes back to life after being killed:

Flatman, deputy leader, whose ability is elongation:

It's hard to believe anyone named "Flatman" would be proud enough of the name to wear its initial on their chest. "Hey, look, it's Flatman! Flatman'll show those crooks!" Probably not likely that the crooks will drop their weapons. And how about that resemblance to a certain scientist based in New York?

Dinah Soar, a play on words which reflects both her appearance and her ability:

Big Bertha, a female version of the Blob:

Though, unlike the Blob, Bertha can shift to the form of former model Ashley Crawford:

(Maybe in this form she calls herself "Super-Model." Heh.)

And there's Doorman, whose phasing power is part of the Darkforce:

Hawkeye sees their potential, as well as their commitment to continue using the Avengers name--and since he's recently quit the west coast team out of protest due to the government forcing on them the membership of USAgent, he decides that the GLA could use the direction and mentoring of both himself and Mockingbird:

Yet the GLA never did amount to much more than a novelty, one that readers gave little more than a shrug to--though they were somewhat of a welcome distraction from the current state of the West Coast Avengers. USAgent was a by-the-book leader who ended up creating essentially a strike team, which diluted the uniqueness of the Avengers that Captain America once elaborated on so well. Tigra spent her time chasing and consuming mice. The Scarlet Witch was losing her grip on sanity. The Vision had been disassembled and reassembled to become an emotionless wraith. And there was now the absence of Hawkeye, who had fit in so well in the team's leadership role. Byrne was writing the book as well as illustrating, and the group was unravelling before our eyes. The inexplicable creation of a new team, suddenly thrust into this mismash of plots, was absurd--but at least it took our minds off what a dismal read the book had become.


Rusty said...

Cool post! I remember hearing about the GLA, but didn't really know much about them. I checked out their article on Wikipedia and was fascinated by all the names they ended up using after being sent a cease-and-desist order: the Lightning Rods, The Great Lakes X-Men, The Great Lakes Champions and finally The Great Lakes Initiative (which you hinted at in your post.)

You can read the article here:

Anyway, I think it is both fun and interesting to learn more about these less well known Marvel characters and teams - so thanks!

Comicsfan said...

My pleasure! Yes, the GLA had their share of growing pains, didn't they? Yet they always came across to me as an informal grouping of colleagues rather than as Avengers--which I think is an important distinction to make, considering how the latter group thrived.

Super-Duper ToyBox said...

Great post- knew nothing of this. Far out, Man!

Comicsfan said...

Thanks--I guess the GLA could also be known as the "under-the-radar" Avengers, eh? :)