Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bad Team-Mates

Karen: lately we've done some reviews involving teams where there's one guy who just can't seem to help causing trouble among his team-mates. There was Hulk in the Avengers, with all his surliness; and Wolverine in X-Men, who in the early days was liable to flip out over any perceived insult.

Karen: It seems like the "loose cannon" is a good way for writers to bring some tension into a group. Stan Lee did it from the start with Fantastic Four. Initially, the Thing was an angry and unpredictable guy, until he evolved into the loveable mug we all know. But Johnny Storm could occasionally fall into this category, particularly when he was always running off to find Crystal. After the Hulk left the Avengers -as well as almost everyone else -Hawkeye showed up to make Cap's life miserable, but he eventually came around, although he never lost his big mouth.

Karen: The original X-Men were all pretty well-behaved, but the Mimic shook things up when he briefly joined the team. Actually, the all-new, all-different X-Men started with not one, not two, but three 'difficult' members. Besides Wolverine, there was also the hard-headed Thunderbird and the downright obnoxious Sunfire.

Karen: The original Defenders had both the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner in their ranks. Although Hulk was still a problem, Dr. Str
ange seemed to keep him in line. But Namor -well, he's always like a volcano ready to explode at any moment!

Karen: Seems like most of the DC heroes were much better behaved, although Green Arrow ruffled a lo
t of feathers once he became socially aware. And of course depending on who's writing him, Batman can be a real pain too. But that seems more of a modern depiction.

Karen: What other bad actors can you think of? Who did you enjoy, and who actually irritated you? (As you can tell, I'm not fond of Sunfire).


William said...

Guy Gardner in the Justice League International was a prime example of this type of character on a team. Batman's "one punch" solution to his obnoxious behavior is still a classic.

Quicksilver was always a loose cannon in whatever team he was on as well. Be it the Avengers or later in X-Factor. And in a way they turned Hank Pym into something of an unpredictable factor in later issue of the Avengers also.

david_b said...

The 'in-fighting' was a wonderful innovation into story telling. Grafted from the war movies of the 50s/60s, when a platoon had to venture into uncharted danger, bickering and challenging leadership's decisions as they went along, they ofter filled the gap for banter, and generated much tension when the baddies were still waiting for them to arrive or to strike.

Once again, I give Marvel the prize for introducing this. Much like the advent of "thought balloons" to virtually eliminate the need for sidekicks, this was an effective story-telling device as well, helping to explain to Hawkeye, for instance, why Cap is so despondent about Bucky, peeling away the onion by snappy insults, etc..

William, before I forget, YES, that 'one punch' panel in JLI was phenominal..!!! Just a very sweet way to shut down Guy and also suggest, like.., "Who needs dialog??"

Anywho, back to the bad team-mate idea.. I always scratched my head about newcomers like Doctor Druid as an Avenger.. (?). Not one of the strongest ideas for team-mates, I never saw anything to like about him, same with D-Man and a few other ones from the late 80s/90s.

I guess a nice sly 'bad team-mate' was Mantis. Ah, yes, the one who nearly broke up Vish and Wanda, caused consternation and bitterness from 'her man' Swordsman, and could have brought a bit more diversion inmidst the group if she didn't move on to other things in Vietnam. The loud instigators are easy to track; it's those quiet lurkers wishing to stir the pot that need your most attention. I love what Hawkeye later said about her being a 'diva'.. Perfect, ascending her to almost 'Yoko' levels of controversy.

(Don't get me wrong, I'm a Yoko fan as well as a Beatles fan..).

Moondragon and StarFox are other later entries that.., well, didn't make much sense as an Avenger, but I look at Moondragon as being yet another instigator of trouble, like convincing Thor of his god-status, not needing to be in the Avengers.

Great Topic..!

Anonymous said...

Speedy's occasional guest appearances in the Teen Titans in the '60's were notable for two unusual things in DC silver age books:

1. He had a personality, and...

2. His personality charmed Wonder Girl while it irritated everybody else. And yet, they never changed the locks on the cave. Go figure.

I've been in bands all my life, and it seems that this position is filled by the bass-player quite often (not exclusively, though). My theory is that with only 4 strings to concentrate on, their minds wander too much, which only leads to trouble. 'Course, I'm a guitar player, so what do I know?

James Chatterton

Dougie said...

Mantis-as-Yoko is scurrilous and very funny.

Thunderbird seems to have had a death wish so I think he's a slightly different case. Wolverine has had mental health issues, as implied in X-Men 96, which goes some way to explaining his "issues".

Meanwhile at DC, Ollie had gone from being a guilty liberal to the League's most vocal and obnoxious member but we've forgotten Wildfire who fulfilled a similar role in the LSH. Of course, he was probably pissed off at having lost his body and becoming, basically, one of the most dangerous beings on the planet.
In the late Bronze Age, we then have Cyborg who is also, understandably, pissed off about his lot in life. But with his angst comes a gift-wrapped hi-tech clubhouse. The Bad Team-Mate in the New Titans is obviously Raven who uses her sexuality to manipulate Wally West and her aura of spookiness to beguile the other Titans.

Fred W. Hill said...

Regarding James' comments re bass players, I wouldn't know how typical that is from experience, but I'm not aware of any of the more famous bands where the bassist was the "trouble-maker" and more often it was the drummer!
As far as superhero teams go, Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen just popped into my head, with Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man being the bad seeds, although Mr. Hyde permanently took care of the latter miscreant.
Certainly, Lee & Kirby started a trend with the line-ups of the FF & the Avengers, and in the first couple of issues of the X-Men it seemed they intended to have the Beast play a similar role as the Thing & Hulk did in their teams but apparently realized they were being overly redundant and significantly changed Hank McCoy's personality, making him by far the most inlectual member of the team but then leaving the X-Men without any real tension, save for the love triangle with Scott, Jean & Warren that lasted until Warren was hooked up with Candy. And once the Hulk was out of the Avengers, there wasn't any real tension for the next year until Cap was stuck leading the Kooky Quartet. Seems to me Lee must have realized that with the team consisting of Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Giant Man & the Wasp, all fairly staid, mature heroes, things were getting pretty boring. Mufacturing tension, as when Iron Man missed a meeting because he was busy with "personal business" was pretty ridiculous, especially as they apparently didn't differentiate between missing a meeting due to negligence and due to being in a dire situation. The Avengers were becoming a little too much like the Justice Leage of America or the Legion of Super-Heroes! Exchanging the remaining original members with 3 young, inexperienced former villains, including two who very much had chips on their shoulders, definitely shook things up. Probably one of the most genuinely unexpected and ballsy twists Stan made in that era.

Fred W. Hill said...

Oops, spelling goof -- make that "Manufacturing tension" up there!

david_b said...

Good, Fred, I'm not the only one embarrassed when my mistakes slip by..

I've done a lot of guitar gigs, but not much for on-going tours and such.., but funny enough, I've heard the same about bassists and drummers. So when I put set-lists together, I try to pick songs where neither of 'em get bored..

Doug said...

I'm having a hard time picturing John Entwistle or Bill Wyman causing any trouble...

I thought there have been some great suggestions for bad teammates today. Wildfire was real good, and the long list of just plain square peg/round hole Avengers was good as well.


Hoosier X said...

You know who was a really bad teammate?

Captain Comet!

That Judas started teaming up with all the members of the JLA to persecute and aggravate his old teammates in the SSOSV!

(Whatever happened to Captain Comet? I hope Grodd or Shadow Thief fitted him with some cement shoes! Serve him right!)

Dougie said...

With his super-evolved- mutant psionic powers,I don't understand why Captain Comet wasn't in the League by 1979! He's in the wedding party in JLA 157 (Aug 78, pg. 32) rocking the Medallion Man polo-neck look. I bet the Phantom Stranger was furious.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I actually collected the "Justice League Detroit" issues back in the day. It was a fascinating trainwreck of a series, so wrongheaded in so many ways. About half the members fit the "bad teammate" description.

Aquaman in particular. That team came together because he dissolved the original group in what came across as a fit of pique because J'onn Jonz had to save the JLA from a Martian invasion. (But J'onn was a founding member, so ... oh, never mind.)

He then appointed himself leader of the new team and resticted it to people whole could participate full-time, ejecting a lot of long-time members. He was an arrogant jerk to untrained (and unimpressive) new recruits. He then cuts out of the team after less than a year to spend more time with his wife -- So much for full-time commitments!

I don't know what the author of the series, Gerry Conway, was striving for, but he couldn't have made Aquaman more unappealing if he tried.

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