Top Four: Teams

 

Avengers X MenThe Top Four series looks at certain aspects of the comic book world from two perspectives: Rob’s, as a relative newcomer to mainstream comics, and Kristine’s, as an older hand in the world.  Each installment evaluates the top four choices from both Rob and Kristine and why they chose their picks.



By Robert J. Baden and Kristine Chester

 

 

 

Teams have been a part of comics since the beginning, although, not everyone considers a group that isn’t a superhero team to be one; however, just because you can’t leap a building in a single jump, or call Asgard your home realm, doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer a group with a like-minded purpose.  Teams exist to bind people together, to offer a cohesive organization with a shared purpose. Teams are filled with individuals, be they superheroes, mutants, villains, or just plain soldiers.

Throughout our experiences with comics, we’ve identified several teams, both good and bad, and feel that we have picked the top four that best describe what we believe a team should be.  These groups come from a wide variety of sources, and we think you may be surprised by some of our choices. At one point we actually ended up picking the same team, but for completely different reasons and rankings.


Rob’s Picks

#4: The X-Men

Background:

Since their creation, the X-Men have been a team of unwelcome superheroes—unwelcome by conventional government and the public at large, that is.  A group of mutants bound together to help protect the world against threats to humanity and mutant kind, the X-Men have come face to face with numerous personages.  Distrusted because of their mutant abilities and appearances, the X-Men have skirted around legal sanctions and outright mob mentality.

Pros:

The most appealing aspect of the X-Men is that they fight for their rights.  There are the occasional bad apples in the bunch—the ones who would prefer to take matters into their own hands rather than fight through channels—but they are few and far between.  This team will stand up and take the fight to the enemy, but will not stoop to their level, for they believe in their cause.  They’ve even gained some support with the world’s governing bodies, but still have a long way to go before mutant kind is seen as equal to humanity.

Cons:

The major problem the X-Men face is that they’re too willing to let other mutants become a part of the team.  Former villains, who claimed they’ve reformed, have ended up leading strike teams into combat—and into traps.  Some X-Men, like Wolverine, are suspicious by nature and don’t really trust anyone, but too many are willing to let any mutant—including Namor and Magneto—become part of the team.


#3: The Autobots

Background:

The good guys in the unending struggle against their dark-sided Cybertronian brothers, the Autobots are the only defense against the Decepticons and their machinations.  Sentient robots that can transform into vehicles or structures as a way of blending in with society (theirs and ours), these champions of the cosmos seem to be doomed to an eternal war.  The only thing that can seem to save them is the unique and unpredictable nature of humanity—even though it ends up costing them severely.

Pros:

The Autbots just don’t give up, regardless of the situation.  They’re fighting a war that has been going on for millions of years without an end in sight, and yet they still continue to forge onward.  While their numbers may be few compared to the Decepticons, their tenacity and personal strength allow them to endure great hardships.  Many a time, the Autobots have been on the verge of defeat, only to find a way to rally their small numbers to overcome the plans of the Decepticons.

Cons:

Despite a personal oath not to harm innocent beings, the Autobots—through accident or purpose, depending upon the incarnation—bring their war to Earth and end up involving humanity.  While humanity has shown it can overcome nearly improbable odds, the fact remains that they are physically weak compared to the gargantuan bodies of the Cybertronians, yet, they always seem to end up in the middle of the conflict.  As a result, the Autobots have to spend as much time, if not more, protecting humans than they do fighting the Decepticons.  Sure, humanity may have been able to help give the lovable-yet-tough robots sanctuary and ingenuity, but they’re way outclassed and only end up causing more problems than they solve.


#2: G.I. Joe

Background:

Perhaps one of the most famous strictly-military organizations, G.I. Joe is composed of the best-of-the-best within the United States armed forces (and sometimes international allies).  Their ultimate purpose is to safeguard the US, and the “free world,” from terrorist organizations; because of this, they become the primary foes for Cobra.  The two forces fight a covert war for years, all without the public or even the regular military knowing the full existence or capabilities of the US’ top team.

Pros:

Because of the specialization as a top-dog military group, the Joes don’t have to go through so much red tape just to get things done.  They have access to special weapons and technology that even the rest of the armed forces do not, and their multi-branch personnel bring a wide variety of expertise to its command and operational functions.  Also, because of their relatively small size compared to other combat units, they can easily move about without attracting as much attention as a battalion.

Cons:

Even though they’re not within the normal command structure of the military, they still have to abide by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and other operational procedures.  This can hinder their activities because they have to get authorization, even if it’s only tacit, from a higher authority.  They’re not as independent as a superhero team would be and, thus, are answerable to their own government and chain-of-command.  Also, their smaller numbers don’t allow them to effectively wipe out their enemy in a single operation.


#1: The Avengers

Background:

Originally created to fight battles that no single superhero could do on their own, the Avengers have expanded to the point of having several teams with a decently-sized roster.  Several of the large-scale Marvel events included the Avengers in some fashion, and the teams’ rosters have included the strongest and most popular of Marvel’s characters.  At times at odds with the United States and S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers fight for the well being of the world.

Pros:

The Avengers have had a great diversity of superheroes within their ranks, ranging from teenagers to heavy hitters and everything in-between.  There are now three separate teams as well as a training academy for younger superheroes, allowing for the Avengers to be in multiple trouble spots when they arise—and they often arise in droves.  Their best effective measure is that they work as one cohesive group despite their separate entities.

Cons:

The one major problem with having a team like the Avengers is their diversity; not that there’s anything wrong with being diverse, but it allows for several different personalities to come into contact with one another.  Like any organization, there are internal conflicts which arise to the point of divisiveness and have split the team apart at times.  One incident involved the near total destruction of the team, including at least three members being killed, all because one superhero lost her mind.  The situation just went on to prove that even the mightiest heroes have horrific character judgment.



Kristine’s Picks

#4: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Background:

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally just that, ordinary turtles who were mutated by radioactive sludge and then taught martial arts by an anthropomorphic rat.  The original concept was intended to be a parody of modern superhero comics, but, over time, the Turtles were taken, well, not more seriously, but were used as the vehicle for deeper stories documenting their ongoing battle with the likes of the Foot Clan and other mutants.

Pros:

The Turtles are brothers first, a team second.  Their close ties combined with their training in ninjutsu make the Turtles masters of close-quarters combat and an effective fighting force.  While initially their goal was to take revenge on Shredder for the death of Splinter's master, the Turtles moved on to protecting the general populace from other ninjas and mutants as they popped up in the area.

Cons:

The Turtles are hated and feared by the general population and have to both live and travel through the sewers as a result and have few allies to call on.  The team may be close, but their different personalities tend to grate on one another with Leonardo and Raphael being the most likely to butt heads, and these incidents have led to Raphael setting off on his own on more than one occasion and splintering the team.


#3: Secret Six

Background:

The original Secret Six were a team of supervillains but was later reformed as a group of superpowered mercenaries that went up against the likes of King Shark, Batman, and practically every single supervillain in existence at one point.  Neither truly good nor evil, each member of the team had a more complex set of morals than can be described in the scope of this article.  The Six undertook dangerous missions primarily for money or personal vendettas but always (well, some of the time) worked together as a team.

Pros:

Perhaps the biggest truth of the Secret Six is that they understand the world isn't black and white.  Their point of view was that it was better to kill a murderer then give him another chance to kill, for instance.  The Six have a certain professional pride, or just a love of money, that kept them focused on a job.  While the team is sometimes at each other's throats and makes a good show of not caring about one another, they have historically aided each another and have shown genuine concern in some cases, such as Bane's unusual paternal attitude towards Scandal or Deadshot and Catman's violence-driven friendship.

Cons:

While the Six's loose morals can be an asset, it can also be a hindrance.  The team has attempted to leave members behind on more than one occasion, and sometimes succeeded.  They're also prone to making the wrong decision on how to go about a good deed, like Deadshot betraying and shooting several of his team members as a means to save their lives when he could have just made a stealthy exit.  There is also the basic fact that each member of the team were once villains and murderers in their own right.  It's made quite clear in the first story arc that no one on the team things of himself or herself as a good person and many would take back some of the choices they've made.


#2: Runaways

Background:

The Runaways were the children of a group of supervillains known as the Pride.  Upon discovering their parents' alternate identifies, Alex, Nico, Chase, Gertrude, Karolina, and Molly escaped together and started to make up for their parents crimes using the inherited or stolen abilities and equipment from the parents, eventually using these very abilities to stop the Pride.  The Runaways had a hard time adapting to their new lives after the Pride and escaped, this time from foster care.  Now on the run from old allies of the Pride and the Avengers, the Runaways only have each other to rely on.

Pros:

The Runaways are a family, which keeps them working together better than any other motivation.  They've taken in other runaways for safety and have readily adopted them into their quirky family.  It cannot be doubted that the Runaways have given up a lot in the name of good.  The Pride's evil machinations were literally for the benefit of their children.  Upon discovering this, the bulk of the team still took their parents down rather than be swayed by the offer of immortality.

Cons:

Despite their ingenuity, the Runaways are still relatively young and inexperienced.  They've made mistakes and have paid for it.  As a family, the members bicker and fight with one another frequently.  Being on the run, the Runaways have no income and much of their time in later books was spent just trying to deal with threats that found them or trying to earn enough money to stay alive rather than trying to make a difference in Los Angeles.


#1: The X-Men

Background:

Charles Xavier's X-Men were a group of mutants, beings possessing superhuman abilities based off the x-gene, who banded together to act as a shield between humanity and the mutants who sought to destroy them.  The X-Men were also responsible for trying to convince humanity that mutants deserved the same treatment and rights as their own kind.

Pros:

Probably the most valuable contribution the X-Men made was providing a safe place where mutants could escape from those who feared them.  At Xavier's mansion, mutants could be with others who understood what they were going through.  With the X-Men, mutants were taught how to control their powers, which drastically reduced the chances of them being a danger to themselves or others, and then, when they were ready, were able to put the gifts that once made them dangerous to good use protecting others.

Cons:

With a group as diverse as the X-Men, they were bound to have conflicting points of view within their organization.  Several members of the team had rather flexible morals, and some of those who once acted against the X-Men had a hard time removing the stigma of having once been a member of the Brotherhood or another organization.  The existence of the group the Brotherhood of (evil) Mutants made it difficult for humanity to distinguish between the two groups, and both organizations were often targeted by humanity's attempts to rid the world of the mutant “threat.”

 

There are certainly other groups within the comic book world—both new and old—but these are the ones that we felt were what we identified with best, with what we believe really were the embodiment of a team.  Each has their own flaws and strengths, but the one thing they each have in common is their ability to work together, giving rise to the old adage: “You’re as good as the sum of your parts.”

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 23:14

Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo
Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream

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