With Marvel rejiggering its Avengers lines after Siege, readers have been introduced to a number of same ol', same ol' new recruits. If we had our druthers, how would we arrange the Avengers roster?
Marvel is launching four new Avengers titles in the wake of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign: Secret Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Academy, and plain ol' vanilla Avengers. And even though the purported line-ups contains a solid mix of heroes, the picks seem a twinge desultory. Thing on the New Avengers? The Big Three back on the scene for celluloid reasons? Is Wolverine still Avengers material? Snikt snikt doesn't really jibe with the new Heroic Age, bub.
Here's the conundrum with drafting a modern Avengers team - writers are hamstrung by two prevailing motifs of what the team should look like. One one hand you have the "Marvel Justice League" motif as perfected by Brian Michael Bendis - this demands that the Avengers consist of Marvel's most iconic (and bankable) heroes.
Of course, Bendis included certain old-school outliers like Luke Cage and Spider-Woman, but prior to New Avengers, the last time readers saw Wolverine, Spiderman, and Cap palling around with any sort of consistency was during Secret Wars.
The second motif is the "Legacy Avengers." This requires the writer to build the team using heroes that lack the cachet for a solo title or aren't on non-Avengers superteams. Many of these heroes are fan favorites: think Hawkeye, Vision, and Wonder Man. If they're not popping up in an Avengers title, chances are you aren't reading about them.
In case you haven't noticed, almost every hero in the Marvel Universe falls into one of these camps. Trying to mediate these two countervailing motifs - as the new squads are trying to do - is problematic. What does it mean to be an Avenger if everyone's an Avenger? More importantly, what exactly is everyone avenging?
On a rudimentary level, I guess Avengers avenge misdeeds, but don't all superheroes? No, the Avengers must be that gold standard superteam with a real mad-on for evil. They need to be psychotically competent, devoid of self-doubting pantywaistry, and dismissive of anti-heroic 1990 types. The synergy's got to be there, too. Here are 10 candidates for the revamped Avengers squad. Evil's done all of them a bad turn, and they'll avenge like it's their job.
A founding member of the Masters of Evil and Silver Age Thor baddie, Skurge the Executioner redeemed himself when he died saving Asgard from the forces of Hel...with dual M-16s blazing. Even though he's been dead for the last 25 or so years, Norman Osborn's siege on Asgard would give him plenty of reasons to waltz out of Valhalla. The Avengers need mythic muscle - with Ares dead (and Thor a terrific dullard), Skurge would be a saucy enforcer.
9.) Stephen Strange, MD
Avenging: His own reputation.
Dr. Strange consorted with the dark arts during World War Hulk and lost his title as Sorcerer Supreme. Even though his powers aren't what they used to be, the man's on a first-name basis with Elder Gods. Avengers status would be an opportunity for the good doctor to rebuild his reputation, and his mystic Rolodex is invaluable.
8 & 7.) Abigail Brand & Beast
Avenging: Earth's extraterrestrial and mutant communities, respectively.
The Zoe and Wash of the Marvel Universe, Abby and Hank represent groups that have been persecuted by Norman Osborn. What do they bring to the table? Espionage know-how and ex-Avengers credentials, scathing hands and scathing wit.
6.) American Eagle
A superpowered everyman with little patience for capes-and-tights bullshit, Jason Strongbow was assailed by Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts after trying to defuse a superhuman conflict in Phoenix, AZ. His tired, unglamorous take on superheroics is refreshing, and he's broken Bullseye's neck, which counts for something.
5.) Jessica Jones
Avenging: Her husband, her reputation as an interesting character.
Since Alias, Jessica Jones has gone from superpowered, F-bomb-dropping gumshoe to Luke Cage's wife. During Dark Reign, Norman Osborn's put Luke through the ringer and Jessica's stepped up her superhero game. It's great to see her back in the limelight (and she is slated for membership on Bendis' New Avengers squad), but the fact that she's back in tights doesn't mean she need be verveless.
Avenging: Being Norman Osborn's pawn.
A classic Avengers team should have an anti-authoritarian streak. Remember Cap's Kooky Quartet, when the venerable Cap recruited three former supervillains? Noh-Varr is the new Captain Marvel, but he did once burn the words "FUCK YOU" into a couple dozen New York City blocks using advanced alien weaponry (he felt like sending some SHIELD satellites a friendly message). The poor guy has been waiting for his hero moment for over a decade, let him have his hero moment!
3 & 2.) T'Challa & Storm
Avenging: The fact that they've been overlooked Avengers status for the last several years.
He's the unemployed Black Panther, Marvel's Batman, and has a killer theme song. She's ostensibly Marvel's most famous female character, ridiculously powerful, and looks great with a mohawk. This is a no brainer.
1.) Steve Rogers
Avenging: The fact that the world's gone to pot since he left, duh.
What do you call an Avengers team without Cap? Force Works.