As long as there have been superheroes, there have been superhero teams. And as long as there have been superhero teams, there have been really bad ideas for superhero teams. Like, say, for example…
The Darkstars came into existence for one reason, and one reason only: to be knock-off Green Lanterns. This being the ’90s, and everything has to be all shaken up, the Darkstars basically took over the role of intergalactic cops from the Green Lanterns once said corps of heroes was killed off, only instead of rings that could create anything the Lanterns could imagine through sheer force of will, they had costumes that fired energy bolts and made them really strong.
In other words, they were the lame replacements until DC brought the Green Lanterns back. Appropriately, once they came back, the Darkstars vanished and thankfully haven’t been seen since…oh, wait, no, no, apparently DC has decided to drop hints that they’ve become space priests. Great, because that’s what we need, Jehovah’s Witnesses with laser blasts.
Here’s the thing about the Champions; individually, you’ve got awesome here. There’s Hercules, Black Widow, Ghost Rider, Angel and Iceman. Well, OK, maybe the guy with pretty bird wings is a lame superpower to have in a team, but everything else, aces.
But as a group, it just didn’t work. First of all, Hercules is a Greek demi-god, whatever he can’t handle is generally something pretty heavy-duty. Secondly, Ghost Rider is a demon from hell, so if Hercules and Ghost Rider can’t handle it, we’re getting into crossover territory danger here. What are Iceman, Black Widow and Angel going to do? Freeze it, fly it up, and then hit it really hard?
Unsurprisingly, the Champions didn’t last that long, but the flame is kept alive. By the Great Lakes Avengers, who you might recall as a joke team.
If you’re a comics company, almost inevitably you wind up with a lot of extra characters, and equally almost inevitably, they’re one-off villains that never quite achieved the panache of a Joker, or a Lex Luthor, or a Firebug. So what do you do with all these losers you own the rights to? Kill ’em. Kill ’em all! And do it as creatively as possible!
This team existed for two reasons: the hilarious murder of D-list losers, and to explain how villains who didn’t seem smart enough to get out of jail or successful enough to hire a good lawyer got out to antagonize superheroes again; if they survived the mission they were on, they got a full parole. This pretty much meant that if you were below C-list, you were dead meat, and if you were above C-list, you were coming right back, because apparently being sent on missions with a team named the “Suicide Squad” was so incredibly fun that you just had to immediately waste your unconditional parole trying to use your stupid gimmick on some hero instead of getting a real job, and be sent right back to the jungles of Wherever-the-Heckistan. In other words, it was kind of like “The Dirty Dozen”, minus the suspense and interesting parts.
On the bright side, there’s really nothing like an annoying, badly conceived villain get shot in the face by his own teammates, or eaten by gorillas, or sucked into a trans-dimensional vortex, or any of a pretty long list of creative fates the writing team liked to hand out to these failures. If only they’d killed off Captain Boomerang, because, really, how useless was he?
The Defenders make this list despite not being a team. You might be confused, as this is a list of lame or but that was their entire gimmick, they weren’t a team.
Basically, instead of having a lair and interpersonal relationships and all that crap we read team books for, what would happen is somebody, usually Doctor Strange, would stumble on something he couldn’t fix alone. Instead of calling in, say, the Avengers, or the X-Men, or S.H.I.E.L.D., or any of the other large groups of heroes who exist pretty much to deal with this stuff, he would bug the Hulk, the Silver Surfer and Namor to team up with him to deal with it.
Yeah, Namor, the fish guy. You’d think that between the Hulk’s near-infinite strength and the Surfer having access to, oh, unlimited cosmic power that the ’40s leftover could stay at home, but apparently they needed his extra-strength jerk powers.
Anyway, they’d solve the problem, maybe mope a little bit about how they were all loners, and then split up…until the next issue. It was like taking the biggest powerhouses in the Marvel Universe and putting them into Degrassi, except nobody in Degrassi can destroy the universe last we checked.
Unlike anybody trying to get comedy from comics, we are not going to make fun of Alpha Flight for being Canadian, even if they seem like an attempt to be the single most stereotypical collection of Canadians ever. Canada has been home to entire legions of men who could pick their teeth with our delicate, lady-like femurs. This is a country that is largely woods, ice and oil, a real man’s man country. And they were created by a Canadian, John Bryne, who really wanted to properly represent his home country.
No, we’re making fun of Alpha Flight because they suck. Look at this line-up; Sasquatch, a hairier and smarter Hulk; Shaman, the team sorcerer and Native American stereotype; Northstar and Aurora, who are basically the Flash with a flash-bang grenade and one of the creepiest family histories in comics; Snowbird; who can turn into any Canadian animal (form of a beaver!); and Puck, who’s basically a tough midget. Marvel’s tried to turn this team into a success we don’t know how many times, lately falling back on making it “dark and gritty”. Oh, yeah, because THAT worked out so well.
6.Justice League Detroit
Before DC decided to turn the team into a joke in the ’80s, DC did it unintentionally. You see, there was this big arc where the Justice League all broke up because all the heroes were busy doing things like saving humanity on their own. So Aquaman threw a hissy fit, dissolved the team, and started it back up in Detroit.
The new team roster was Aquaman, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, the Elongated Man, Vixen, and three new teenage heroes that were so popular, this part of the book climaxed with them being murdered. Then Aquaman quit to try and save his marriage, probably realizing what a douche he’d been in the process by demanding the team all have no personal lives, and Zatanna quit because she loved her abusive scumbag boyfriend so much for carving her up to perform genetic experiments on her. Yes, that last part actually happened.
Anyway, the team eventually dissolved, like everything in Detroit, and became a joke, like everything in Detroit. But at least they gave us those noble fallen teen heroes, that we’ll remember always…um…geez…what were their names? You’d think DC would have rebooted them by now or something…