Last week Comics Bulletin’s writers brought you a list of the Ten Greatest Avengers. That list included some of the greatest characters in the history of Marvel Comics, including the great Captain America, Thor and Iron Man. But who are the worst Avengers of all time? Who are the lamest characters, or the characters who just never fit the Avengers well? Our all-star staff of experts give your our list of the Top 10 Lamest Avengers!
by Ray Tate
Triathlon of course was an update on the cult favorite 3-D Man, but writer Kurt Busiek believed that the 3-D Man’s name was passé and decided to name his new hero after a sports event, no doubt making the hearts of ESPN personalities beat faster but nobody else. Triathlon or Trixie as I like to refer to him could have represented the beginning of the end for cool super-hero names. It wouldn’t be too long before another writer, perhaps Busiek himself, would create a character called 300 Meter Dash or Shot Putter. On the bright side, if I waited long enough, somebody would band together a team of heroes called Women’s Beach Volleyball.
Happily, Busiek didn’t start a trend. We were still however stuck with Triathlon. If Busiek’s point was black people can be just as annoying as white people, congratulations are in order. Racial equality was achieved. Triathlon was the king of all jackasses. A smug, self-righteous sphincter, Trixie never said a single word that didn’t rankle. His dialogue was full of himself, and worst of all nobody in the Avengers called him on it. What’s more, Trixie really had nothing to be proud about. He had the power of three. He had the strength, speed and stamina of three men. Oooooooooo. I’m quivering. That’s not really impressive in a super-hero world inhabited by Thor, Iron Man, Captain America or even cosmos help us Quicksilver who until Triathlon appeared used to be the slowest super-speedster in comics. Triathlon struck me as a hyper, freshly-shaven poodle yipping among a pound of Great Danes and Alsatians. I hated Traithlon.
9. Invisible Woman
by Ray Tate
The Invisible Woman started out in the FF as “mostly harmless.” As her powers evolved, she began creating invisible force fields and became formidable. One of her force fields stopped the Hulk cold, and Susan Storm Richards is without a doubt a credible hero. Still, one had to scratch his head when she joined the Avengers.
Invisible Woman was not in my opinion the worst Avenger. She just wasn’t an Avenger at all. She was a slumming member of the FF, and she was fighting things that were ridiculously below her weight class.
Sue and Reed while fighting alongside of Cap, Thor and Gilgamesh (Who?) battled such dread villains as The Nanny, The Orphan-Maker, Super-Nova (A giant sized Nova dude from Xandar) and the dreaded Brain Parasites. She didn’t really have a go at anybody big, unless you count the Growing Man, and I sure don’t.
If Sue had faced some classic upper totem Avengers foes like Ultron, Kang, Loki, Attuma or the Masters of Evil, she might have agained some credibility. Instead, she was stuck with Nanny and the Orphan Maker. I’ll bet you thought I was going to say Nanny and the Professor. I resisted. In order to be an Avenger, an enemy must recognize you as an Avenger, and frankly the foes Sue fought wouldn’t recognize an Avenger if a whole group of them bit their asses.
by Zack Davisson
Wolverine should not be an Avenger. That’s all there is to it.
I love Wolverine as a character, and Len Wein was tapping into some serious mojo when he created our favorite furry little Canadian, but all the things that make Wolverine such a great character are the same things that make him a terrible Avenger. Wolverine is not a joiner, unless it is through the genetic bond he shares with his fellow mutants in the X-Men, or temporarily and through great necessity as has happened in the past. Wolverine does not “fight crime” so much as he takes care of the often nasty business that he finds himself in, protecting himself and those he cares for. Wolverine’s world is one of vendettas and underworld honor, of deep shadows lit only by neon signs and flashes of metal. Wolverine should not smile for his Avengers’ Priority ID card, ride around in a Quinjet piloted by Captain America, trade quips with Hawkeye, and complain loudly that “flamin’ Jarvis” isn’t stocking the fridge with enough Molson Golden. Wolverine should no more be a member of the Avengers than he should be a member of the Fantastic Four.
But wait! Wolverine was a member of the Fantastic Four! In issues #347-349 of the Fantastic Four the team briefly consisted of Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man and the Hulk. Those were four funny, tongue-in-cheek issues, drawn by the incomparable Art Adams, and were an admitted publicity stunt. Right on the cover they replaced the long-standing Fantastic Four banner “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” with “The World’s Most Commercial Comic Magazine”. And there is the rub.
Increasing sales is the only reason to put Wolverine in any team book besides the X-Men. Marvel has always had a bad habit of that particular little fix. When a book is in a slump, instead of focusing on raising the quality of the book, they jam Wolverine in for a quick sales boost. Agent of Shield. Marvel Apes.Skrull Kill Crew. Even Power Pack got a guest appearance. It didn’t matter if the story made sense, it didn’t matter if the integrity of the character was maintained; all that mattered was that Marvel heard a little “cha-ching” of the cash register with each Wolverine appearance. Unfortunately, that “cha-ching” is all short-term gain at the loss of the long-term nurturing of a character and a franchise. Each flash of the claws dilutes the character, until Wolverine appearances become nothing more than a running joke.
I suppose some argument could be made that when Wolverine joined the Avengers it was during extreme circumstances, and one could even say that he was never a member of the Avengers proper. He was a member of the New Avengers, of the Dark Avengers, but never truly a card-carrying Avenger. He didn’t have a room in the Mansion or a proper Avengers ID card (although he did fly around in a Quinjet piloted by Captain America). But now, with Marvel declaring the start of the Heroic Age, the back-to-basics approach where heroes can be heroes and the stories will be less angst and more fun, writer Brian Michael Bendis has announced his new line-up for a re-launch of the Avengers. And there, front and center, standing to the left of Captain American and underneath Iron Man, is Wolverine.
Wolverine should not be an Avenger.
7. Captain Britain
by Kelvin Green
The original Captain Britain, Brian Braddock, was given the choice between two sourc
es of superheroic power: the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might. Brian chose the former and began a lengthy career as a beloved, if not always independently successful, hero. So it stands to reason that someone might want to see what happens when a prospective Captain picks the Sword. Never mind that every time the Sword has come up in the Captain Britain mythos, it’s been staggeringly clear that it is the wrong choice, an artefact of death and destruction to be feared and avoided by all sensible folk. They eventually did this story in New Excalibur with the character of Albion, who turned out to be, as expected, a murderous lunatic. But before that, Chuck Austen had a go.
Kelsey Leigh was a single mother in the wrong place at the wrong time, killed while defending her children from minions of Morgan le Fay disguised as the Wrecking Crew, but death was not the end for her. Kelsey found herself in Avalon, where she was given the choice as Brian had been before her, picking the Sword and becoming the new Captain Britain. Kelsey assisted the Avengers in defeating Morgan and the not-Wrecking-Crew, and as a result was invited to join the team.
So far, so good, yes? No. Because this was Chuck Austen, a writer who makes Bendis look like William ruddy Shakespeare. As if Kelsey didn’t have enough to deal with, what with being dead and all, she got lumbered with an attempted rape in her backstory, because all of Austen’s women are mothers or sex objects, since that’s all female characters are good for, apparently. As part of the deal which gave Kelsey her powers, she also had to conceal her resurrection from her sort-of-orphaned children, hiding her identity behind a mask; why this should be and why Brian never had the same strings attached, it was never explained. The terms also did not specify that she couldn’t interact with the kids at all, and yet this is how things progressed. Because it’s more angsty that way, obviously.
It’s fine though, because Kelsey would be based in New York with the Avengers, and her kids would be back in Blighty, so it wouldn’t come up, right? No, because the Avengers decide that her kids would be better off living in the Mansion, even though Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had no idea whatsoever that the new Captain Britain and the kids were connected. Because it’s more angsty that way, obviously. There’s also the slight issue that since the Captain Britain powers were, before Paul Cornell came along, tied to proximity to the British Isles themselves, basing her in New York made Kelsey effectively powerless. This had nothing to do with angst; it was just rampant stupidity.
To top it all off, the new Captain Britain’s creation was entirely pointless and unnecessary. She received her powers from Brian because he needed to offload them before Morgan used them against him. Except, as it turned out, he retained his powers anyway, so there were two Captains Britain running about, there was no need or desire to use the new one in stories, and she was soon booted out of the team in the wake of Avengers Disassembled. So at the end of the day, this horribly broken character, a living corpse burdened by a metric funkton of angst, was created for nothing.
6. Teen Iron Man
by Jason Brice
Fans of the mid-’90s were witness to perhaps the creative nadir of Marvel Comics. Sloppy writing and sloppier art from the offices of tired, over-stretched editors were the norm, and Teen Tony Stark Iron Man is a prime example of how wrong an aphorism can be. “There’s no such thing as a bad idea”? Yeah, right.
Debuting in an over-priced flashy foil covered event one-shot, Avengers: Timeslide, Teen Tony was then Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras’ creation. In the interests of fairness we should apportion the blame somewhat evenly; Harras was assisted this crime against readers by co-writer Terry Kavanagh, plus no less than six pencillers and two inkers in a 48-page comic.
To save you the effort and the two bucks it would cost you to collect Teen Tony’s entire story arc (the aforementioned Avengers: Timeslide,Iron Man #326 – #332, Avengers #395 – #402, plus sundry other odds and ends), I’ll summarize the plot as best I can: Adult Tony is mind controlled by Kang / Immortus, kills the reformed villainous Yellowjacket Rita DeMara and Crystal’s nanny Marilla. The Avenger
s enlist the help of a teenaged Tony Stark from alternate timeline. Teen Tony steals a suit of amour, and in a final confrontation, Adult Tony sacrifices himself to defeat Immortus. Teen Tony is sucked into the Pocket Universe with the rest of the Avengers and the FF. When that story concludes, Franklin Richards restores the heroes back to the 616 Universe, an Adult Tony emerges that has all the memories of the original Adult Tony, the Teen Tony, and the Counter Earth Tony.
Read this sentence again: The Avengers enlist the help of a teenaged Tony Stark from alternate timeline. Why? It makes no sense. I’m not even going to try and rationalize it. Colossally bad writing, horrid art, does it get any worse than Teen Tony?
5. Mr. Fantastic
by Robert Tacopina
Having Reed Richards join the Avengers would seem like a brilliant idea, wouldn’t it? Arguably the smartest man in the Marvel Universe – and a proven leader – Mr. Fantastic would be an incredible asset to the team, who at the time was suffering from a tremendous amount of turmoil. Reed would conceivably be a structurally sound addition to a team in dire need of support on various fronts. But sometimes the best intentions can go astray as was the case with Reed as an Avenger. Let’s take a look at why the inclusion of Reed was a mistake and why he warrants the dubious label as being one of the Top Ten Worst Avengers.
Back in the late ’80s the Avengers went through a period where the squad had dissolved for a brief time. However there will always be a need for the Avengers and so a new team was recruited and activated in issue #300. When looking back at this roster it is no wonder why their tenure was so short-lived. On the surface you had Steve Rogers who was going by the Captain moniker as well as Thor; a solid foundation for any team and longtime stalwart Avengers. The problem was the inclusion of three of the worst inductions into the team in the Invisible Woman, Gilgamesh the Forgotten One, and Mr. Fantastic. What resulted was a team that excelled at dysfunction.
While the Richards’ had gone into semi-retirement from the Fantastic Four it was only a matter of time before they once again answered the calling of a hero’s life. Instead of going back to the Fantastic Four, who had since moved on, they joined up with the likes of Steve Rogers and Thor. The proverbial honeymoon did not last long as Reed’s penchant for leadership often put him in direct confrontation with the Captain. It also did not help to bolster the meshing of a team who was already lacking in chemistry. Between personal issues and the above mentioned butting of heads with Steve Rogers it came as no surprise that the culmination of these five heroes turned into one of the shortest lived and ill-conceived rosters in Avengers history. It also showed that Reed may be a great leader but was an inadequate follower and definitely one of the worst Avengers of all time.
by Kelvin Green
I’ve written about this useless lump of a character before, but the subject is worth revisiting. No one, not even his creator, has done a convincing job of writing the character since the end of his initial miniseries. He’s blundered through the Bendis era, ever moving further away from the good ideas in that first series and closer to self-parody, a lame joke of a concept that should have been killed off long before the creative summit where Siege was drunkenly scrawled on the back of a beermat. In crayon.
There is an ar
gument that all the confused and contradictory origin stories and the nigh-comedic uselessness of Marvel’s half-arsed Superman clone are the signs of some grand experiment in satire and irony. The idea is that the Sentry is some kind of mockery of the superhero concept, a self-deprecating wink at the reader, as if the writers are saying “hey, we know that all of this is silly.” Anything is possible in an infinite universe, but such claims seem to me to be exercises in Olympic-level, weapons-grade straw-clutching, and I can see no evidence to suggest that this garbled nonsense is anything other than what it appears to be. Sometimes an ill-judged dead-end concept is just an ill-judged dead-end concept.
It’s bad enough that such a lame and pointless character has taken up an inordinate amount of space in Avengers comics in recent years, even with umpteen titles being haemorrhaged onto the shelves every week. This fetid sinkhole of a character has taken up entire story arcs with his miasma of pointlessness, but even that’s not the greatest crime he has committed against Earth’s Mightiest. No, the Sentry’s biggest flaw is a direct result of short-sightedness on the part of whichever bright spark decided to bring him back in the first place, to bring Superman into the Marvel Universe; it’s difficult for that essential “formed to fight the foes no single hero could withstand” clause of the Avengers mission statement to make any sense at all when not only does that single hero in fact exist, but he’s on the team. His very presence undermines the entire property, in a way that even characters such as Thor never did, and that’s why the Sentry is one of the worst Avengers of all time.
3. Dr. Druid
by Zack Davisson
My first issue of Avengers was #221 (1982). I was still new to comics at the time, trying to figure out what I liked, and while I didn’t know too much about the Avengers that issue had two characters on the cover that I was a fan of (Wolverine and Rom: Spaceknight if you must know) so I figured I would give it a try. I dug it, and spent a hefty chunk of my paper-route money picking up back issues until I had had a decent collection and knowledge of the Avengers and was a certified fan.
My last issue of Avengers was #285 (1987). The reason: Dr. Druid.
It was a particularly sad conclusion to what had been a fantastic story. Starting with Avengers #270, the fourth incarnation of the Masters of Evil had gathered members, successfully laying siege to Avengers Mansion, almost killing Jarvis, and ending up with the death of Baron Zemo in #277 when he preferred to die rather than accept the helping hand of Captain America. That is some heavy drama for a young boy, and I was impressed. Maybe even a little misty-eyed.
But somehow in the midst of this coolness, a character I had never heard of, called Dr. Druid, stepped into the fray. He was attempting to help the mentally-confused Blackout break free from Zemo’s control, but actually ended up killing him with a brain hemorrhage. Even though this was a major fuck-up, Dr. Druid was somehow offered Avengers membership. And then it was over.
I loathed Dr. Druid. He looked like Frasier Crane stuffed into a red body stocking. His powers were ridiculous, some sort of yogi-based omni-power involving martial arts and hypnosis. I have tried to forget those particular issues, but if I recall correctly he actually had to “super hypnosis” his way onto the team, then tried to make sexy with some of the Avengers ladies (not an easy task when you look like Frasier Crane stuffed into a red body stocking. Which is probably why he took up the “super hypnosis” gig in the first place), and even made a bid to be Chairmen of the Avengers. I heard later that he was actually mind controlled himself by some lady version of Kang the Conqueror named Terminatrix, but I didn’t stick around to find out.
I don’t know how writer Roger Stern did it. He managed to instantly transition from one of the coolest Avengers stories I had ever read, to making me so disgusted with the series I stopped picking it up a few issues later. Why the hell did he think Dr. Druid would make for a good Avenger? I could see a case for him appearing on the Defenders, a team that was always a home for kooky B-list characters, but his presence on the Avengers tainted the whole series, and for me at least, it was never to recover.
by Samuel Salama Cohén
It’s always hard to wear heavy clothes or tight suits whenever fighting hordes of monsters or lava men…we all know that. And, hey, if you are an Eternal, with a molecular structure capable of reshaping itself at will, why bother with protecting your body with heavy iron suits and all that?
But people don’t see all of this when they see Gilgamesh, the forgotten Eternal and first killer of monsters in the history of men. Nay, all they see is a grown man fighting alongside the mighty Avengers almost naked, XL diapers being his whole uniform.
But I say thee nay! ‘Tis indeed time to let the truth about the forgotten one be told!
Gilgamesh was, along with other four great heroes of the Marvel Universe, such as Thor, Captain America, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, responsible for keeping the Avengers legacy alive, something that reknowned avengers such as She-Hulk, Black Knight or Dr. Druid had failed to do.
He went down to Earth from the Eternals’ city of Olympia just to help the world from a demonic invasion, without even having a name. This was under the Walt Simonson-John Buscema duo (both of them big fans of Thor and of the mythology which surrounds all deities).
After a few battles with the team, Gilgamesh remained, feeling that alongside warriors like Thor and Captain America he was at home.
However, like mutant avengers Quicksilver and Wanda’s powers are linked to their homeland on Wundagore Mountain, the avenger called Gilgamesh needed to be in his homeland, in Olympia, for his strength not to dissapear.
The Avengers only found about this when he was felled in battle against one of the team’s oldest foes, the Lava Men, not to wake up. Until he was back in Olympia, that is.
And, due to this turn of events, like it was before with Hercules, the eternal had to return home to heal his wounds, because on Earth his condition would have been that of a man in a coma. He only was with the team for a short span of 11 issues.
However, the infamous crossing brought him back to the Avengers’ doorstep, weak and dying, victim to a plot I won’t try to remember the details of…
Gilgamesh, killer of monsters…you are indeed a true Avenger born. When will they see past your diapers and into your true soul?
by Samuel Salama Cohén
On the Avengers’ roster there have been gods, syntezoids, Atlanteans, Inhumans…and yes, aliens. From the Kree Empire, their once greatest champion, Mar-Vell, has served in their ranks with honor and bravery. Could we say the same about Shi’ar Deathcry?
Follower of the fallen Deathbird, who tried to take over the Shi’ar empire on the Kree-Shi’ar war, Deathcry is a young and inexperienced that was sent to Earth (Sol-3 on Shi’arish) to help the Avengers against the renegade Kree Galen Kor and his army of soldiers.
Deathcry was introduced to the readers on Avengers #363, though her first encounter with the team wouldn’t come until next issue, #364. She appeared to be badass, constantly whining about the way humans handled things, but that was just her shell (or a bad character with a lot of inconsistencies, who knows). When she was introduced, we were knee-deep in the Bob Harras-Steve Epting run, and she looked like another of those strange twists Harras loved to make here and there…but she went and became a resident member of Earth’s Mightiest.
At first she seemed to flirt with the Vision, even kissing the android one night. After that, she would stay on the team, falling in love with Hercules, and her initial wrath had dissapeared as we saw a child-like Deathcry cry for being far from home (for God’s sake, she had a Nightcrawler toy!) and play in the swimming pool, right before…here we go…”The Crossing”!!!
After that horrendous storyline, there was an editorial mandate to revamp the whole Marvel Heroes line with what became Heroes Reborn. But even before that, Terry Kavanagh and Ben Raab, who were scripting the Avengers at the time, make the logic decision: Deathcry would leave. And to make sure she didn’t come back, they sent her back to her home, in Chandilar, escorted by none other than the lion of Olympus.
The thing is that she never brought anything to the table, and despite the writers’ intent, she wasn’t able to bond with those on the current roster (Crystal, Pietro, Hercules, Black Knight, Cap…).
She was just a lonely warrior that should have appeared for 3 issues, and making her an Avenger, someone that hadn’t proved anything, and someone that any of the avengers did know, proved to be the lowest point in the Avengers’ 30th anniversary.
Sure, there have been others that didn’t belong, but at least they had some characteristic that made them appealing to the readers. Deathcry? She was just shoe-horned because of a certain storyline, and overstayed her welcome.
Will she ever be back from Chandilar? I don’t know, but I certainly hope not.