Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Who's the Best... Second Wave of Recruits?

Doug:  Today we'd like you to discuss super-teams (as we often do around these parts) and their rosters.  We're interested in that character or characters who came right after the founders of the given team.  To help you out, here are some nominees:

Fantastic Four:  Crystal
Avengers:  Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch
X-Men: Havok and Polaris
Defenders:  Valkyrie and Nighthawk

And over at the Distinguished Competition --

Teen Titans:  Wonder Girl and Speedy
Legion of Super-Heroes:  Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl
Justice League of America:  Green Arrow and the Atom

Doug:  Feel free to nominate other teams from other companies, or from Marvel and DC who I have not mentioned.


J.A. Morris said...

Hawkeye. He's "Mr. Avenger". Unlike "The Big Three", he's more famous as an Avenger than as a solo star. Wanda is a close 2nd to Hawkeye.

Edo Bosnar said...

I know Cap was given founder's status, but he was not in fact one of the original Avengers. Just the fact that he was made an honorary founder perhaps makes him the best subsequent addition to a team ever.
My personal favorites, though, are Valkyrie and Nighthawk - they became so thoroughly identified with the Defenders, more so, I think, than even the founding members. They're part of what I consider the absolutely essential, core Defenders, together with Dr. Strange and Hulk.

Edo Bosnar said...

By the way, it just occurred to me that besides Cap in the Avengers, couldn't Mimic (in the X-men) and Silver Surfer (in Defenders) be considered the immediate second-wave members of their respective teams, rather than the ones you mentioned?

Inkstained Wretch said...

I have to agree with Edo here: Valkyrie and Nighthawk were more essential to the Defenders than some of the founders. They became the cornerstones of the classic version of the team. It is really hard for me to think of the Defenders without them.

As a runner-up, I'd suggest Marina and Puck from Alpha Flight. Both were interesting characters who made an already really diverse team even better.

Doug said...

I did not name Cap in the list for the very reason Edo suggests -- the retroactive status as a founder of the team.

I did not name the Mimic because his "membership" was a gimmick and was quite finite. He's not been a factor on the team since, whereas Alex and Lorna have had some real staying power through the years.

The Surfer is perhaps an oversight, but I wanted the focus to be more (and justifiably so) on Val and Kyle.

Again, my apologies. I seem to be doing this a lot lately.


humanbelly said...

I'd formed the same opinion as both Edo & IW before I even opened the comments link-- so I daresay we're onto something here. It's moe like voting for MVP in a sports league-- and for the Defenders, Val & Nighthawk (as a single wave) could very much be considered as foundations (or pillars?) for their team from that point on. Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and especially Hawkeye/Goliath (Clint) would be a very close second, except that the first two really tended to be absent for such extended lengths of time. And while the Avengers carried on just fine when members of that wave left, the Defenders just folded all the more quickly when Val & Nighthawk were abruptly (and rather unsentimentally) killed off.

And good shout-out for Marina & Puck, IW. Puck in particular became pretty much the face of Alpha Flight-- until someone decided to make the condition of his dwarfism a mystical curse bi-product, rather than a congenital one. Good grief.


dbutler16 said...

It seems like a slam dunk for the Avengers. Cap's Kooky Quartet was rather successful, and Hawkeye in particular is one of my favorite characters.

JLA - I do like Green Arrow (Atom is OK) but the addition of Ollie wouldn't really pay off for a few years, until he developed into the only JLAer with a distinct personality.

I also like Phantom Gil (Triplicate Girl always seemed fairly useless) but with the haphazard was in which the early years of the Legion was handled, it's hard for me to even think of them as the first ones that came along after the founders. In fact, I think it was a while before it was even established who the next members were after the founding of the group. One good thing about the Legion was a strong female presence, almost from day one.

david_b said...

Agreeing with both Ink and Edo, Valkyrie and Nighthawk were essential to the D-Team more so in making it a 'team', removed from it's original conception as 'three titans' teamed up. Perhaps it's just me, but I still wish Hank as Yellowjacket would have stayed on, his scientific genius would have meshed well with Stephen's mysticism and Hulk's bombastic nature, more so than Nighthawk, although I agree that Nighty was more important in establishing the group's identity apart from a place for part-time Avengers to come-and-go-from.

Now Speedy's an interesting discussion. Some revisionism mentioned he was at the 'initial meeting' but chose not to join. As much as I liked him hanging around the '80s NTT (him hitting on Starfire was always a hoot...), I didn't like him as much under Cardy's tenure. Granted he was more essential than Aqualad in terms of power and expertise, but I equate Speedy to the change in direction for the early Titans by Adams, Wolfman and Wein away from the 'kooky, kitschy, hip quartet'. When Aqualad left, the group lost it's early innocence and charm. I'm not sure whether it was solely the topical writing or the personality change-up, but the goofy spark was sorely missed.

As for Cap's kooky quartet, the direction changed for the better. Rather than heroes teaming up, you had the opportunity for inter-team bickering and drama along the lines of Lee/Kirby's FF. Hawkeye's temperament certainly paved the way for generations of cocky bowmen (GA joined JLA exactly 4 years earlier in May of '61, but was pretty square and 2-dimensional until '69). Unlike the FF (until Crystal joined), the Avengers identity became a 'team-concept' in ish 16, more so than identity based on it's core members.

Anonymous said...

I guess if I want to be a smart arse, I could argue that the most interesting second wave character to join a super hero team would be Phoenix joining the All New All Different Xmen.

Yes, I know, that was possibly the most annoying thing anyone has ever written on here!

If the Champions had continued, I would love to have seen how Darkstar panned out.

Edo’s point about Cap was a good one because the other Avengers all had solo comics going when they joined the Avengers. Avengers #4 predates TOS #58, so Cap was actually the only Avenger who was ONLY an Avenger at that point. Stan later busted up the team because his Continuity Mania made him want to avoid conflict with the solo adventures.

Always had a soft spot for Alex & Lorna. I loved the way Adams drew Lorna. There’s a great panel of her & Jean being evil, and another great splash page of her trying to get her mojo back right before the Sentinels grab her. Another great one is Cockrum’s shot of her face when Storm is lighting her up in GS#1. And, of course, Steranko.....OK, it’s Lorna.


Matt Celis said...

I think you mean first wave of recruits, as the founding members weren't recruited. Either way, first wave: Captain America, who fits so well we often forget he didn't become an Avenger until issue 4. Second wave: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. No team
ever lost ALL its founding members at once and replaced them reformed criminals! All of whom went on to illustrious careers as super heroes. Plus they all had personality in spades.

Karen said...

I have to agree with my partner's rationale for his picks. Cap was integrated fairly quickly into the original Avengers and was according founding status retroactively, and the three "kids" were all brought on as a group to replace Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man, and the Wasp, hence the term "wave."

Over with the 'non-team,' I always thought of the Surfer as actually being a part of the first team, the Big Four if you will, due to his role in the proto-Defenders featured in those couple of issues of Sub-Mariner. To me, Val and Nighthawk were the next gen of Defenders.

The Mimic? Was in and out like that. Havok and Lorna had staying power.

My own personal pick would be the three villains turned heroes in the Kooky Quartet. They had some big shoes to fill, but did a fine job.

Doug said...

Matt, you're right on my choice of semantics. Of course, if you want to use the strict meaning of "recruit", Hawkeye, Wanda, and Pietro weren't recruited at all. Nor was Cap for that matter.

The All-New, All-Different X-Men -- those were recruits in the true meaning of the word.

But just play along, huh? Make a middle-aged guy feel good about his work.


Edo Bosnar said...

Geez, Doug, if we're getting under your skin, how do you deal with a classroom full of unruly high-school students? ... ;)

Thought of another great second-wave recruit: Terra in the New Teen Titans! - Just kidding...
Seriously, although I still stand by my original assessment of Val and Nighthawk, another set of stellar (excuse the pun) second-wavers were Starhawk and Nikki in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen said...

Edo, two words: Corporal punishment.

david_b said...

Yep, 'Beatings continue until morale improves...'.

Always did wonders for this old soldier.

Edo Bosnar said...

So, Doug teaches at a Catholic school?

david_b said...

With how little sway the Catholic church had in Germany during WWII..? Doubtful.

I kid, I kid.

("Whaaat, too soon..??")

Ok, ok I'll sit in the penalty box during lunchbreak.

J.A. Morris said...

I've got Doug's back on the Cap issue. He was called an "original Avenger" as far back as the Kree-Skrull War(40+ years ago), so that's good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone about Valkyrie and Nighthawk...they ended up being much more important to the Defenders than some of the founders were...certainly more consistent.

I also liked Cap's Kooky Quartet and I think Puck ended up being a stable influence in Alpha Flight (maybe because of his age) when the rest of the team was falling apart. I'd say Wonder Girl was the same in the Titans...she ended up being so important to the team that I always forget that she WASN'T a founder. Too bad they kept screwing around with her origin.

Mike W.

Garett said...

Puck from Alpha Flight--what a fun character. We get hints of his past through the first 3 TPBs. Funny scene where they call him up to the team from Beta Flight. They're thinking up new names for the team, but Puck insists they keep Alpha Flight: "New name? Hey, I busted my buns to be in Alpha Flight." (grabs leader's shirt with his fist) "I wanna be in Alpha Flight!!"

Wonder Girl is a good character too--certainly more interesting than Wonder Woman.

Karen said...

I only read Alpha Flight for a couple of years, but I never could buy Puck. I just couldn't believe that he would be capable of all those acrobatic stunts.

Actually Alpha Flight as a team never really gelled for me, any more than the Champions did, but at least the Champions had some interesting characters. But I guess that's material for another post.

Doug said...

I suppose as a Bronze Age retcon, the joining-up of Power Girl and the Star-Spangled Kid to the Justice Society should rank pretty high. They were the focus of that series.

Some would argue that the Huntress was the best character of the lot, however.


Rip Jagger said...

Let me add The Invaders to this discussion.

After the advent of the originals (Cap, Torch, Subby, Bucky, and Toro) we get brand new characters Union Jack and his sister Spitfire. The duo proved to give the Invaders a sounder rationale for their name at the very least and I've long though Union Jack was one of the best looking superheroes ever.

Rip Off

Garett said...

Hey Karen, I didn't really like Puck back in the day, but this time around thought he was delightful--like Wolverine's hoser cousin! : ) Same with the whole Alpha Flight series. I dropped it after about 6 issues when it first came out, but this time couldn't get enough, at least of Byrne's run.

Fred W. Hill said...

I concur with the consensus that the second wave members of the Avengers & Defenders made both titles much more interesting. Certainly, Cap shined that much brighter when he was essentially forced into a much greater leadership role than he'd previously had in the Avengers. After all, his previously teammates included a very powerful god, a giant-sized genius and and one of the wealthiest and brilliant inventors in the world (even if his teammates didn't know it then). They may have all respected Cap for his abilities, but they were all seasoned, successful leaders before Cap came along. With Hawkeye, Wanda & Pietro, however, Cap was unquestionably the experienced leader and he was the perfect mentor for them. Interesting that Cap only found out about the big change when he got back from his South American adventure, having avenged the death of his former partner and now really in the position to become "Mr. Avenger".
As for the Defenders, Valkyrie was the first genuine bonding agent for the group, with Nighthawk becoming a catalyst for an even stronger bond. It wasn't Doc having to convince the headstrong and occasionally disagreeable Titans Three of Hulk, Subby and the Surfer to help him out every few months, but now Val & Kyle and even the Hulk hanging around with Doc because they enjoyed each other's company and wanted to help one another.

Matt Celis said...

There are "little people" acrobats... or was it puck's age the made you disbelieve?

Matt Celis said...

Whereas I likes Puck immediately and he's still my favorite Alpha Flighter. He's like what if Captain America had a personality and was a Canadian dwarf?

Matt Celis said...

Always my favorite era of the Defenders! Only discovered it in the Essentials a few years back as I never bought it when it was current with that lineup. Love those Essentials making it inexpensive to discover old comics.

Fred W. Hill said...

Oh, and regarding Crystal as the first fill-in member of the FF, interesting how that worked out. I wonder if many readers at the time thought she would really become a permanent member -- was Sue going to permanently quit after having the baby or would she re-join and the team become the Fantastic Five? Also, it was never mentioned that I recall but it does seem that once Crystal became a regular, after Black Bolt freed the Inhumans from the barrier that trapped them in the Hidden Refuge, Johnny apparently dropped out of college -- at least no mention was made of his being a college student until the team was invited to his old dormmate Wyatt Wingfoot's graduation. As it was, what turned out to be Crystal's brief membership set the pattern for the next 40+ years at least -- Sue, Ben, Johnny or even Reed may leave and be replaced for a while but eventually the original 4 will get back together. They are family, after all.

Comicsfan said...

Fred, you may enjoy checking out the letters pages of those FF issues--"Fantastic Five" speculation was running rampant through them! :)

Matt Celis said...

I love how the omnibus editions include the old letters pages just for this kind of stuff!

my verification code was "ffsaves." Fitting.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll have to go with the flow and say that Valkyrie and Nighthawk would be my picks for best recruits - certainly they are the 'essential' Defenders along with Hulk and Dr Strange.

- Mike 'will someone please get Wolverine out of the Avengers' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Comicsfan said...

My thoughts on Crystal are already pretty much on record, so I'll just skip to a few of the others. The Valkyrie had the potential for being a fascinating character, being sprung into being as she was by the Enchantress but then having to stick around for the duration, sort of directionless and not sure that she even had an identity of her own. It's probably the reason she latched onto the Defenders for stability and to provide that direction--but as a result, she began trying to move the group into being a formal team, which I wasn't really crazy about. Nighthawk, who I was never a fan of, virtually picked up that ball and ran with it; but as a viable member, he seemed like a hanger-on. His main "power" was only available at night, and he was given a silly jet pack to compensate--so basically, he did a lot of dive-bombing in a costume with artificial, decorative wings.

Cap's group took awhile to grow on me, maybe partly because many of the first dozen or so issues had a "work in progress" feel to them since almost all of them involved Cap whipping the group into shape. I was really interested in reading the Avengers, rather than a trio of bickering cadets who were learning on the job to BE Avengers. On the other hand, it was probably an effective way to have readers bond with the new group--hoping they'd be able to make the cut.

Havok and Polaris--well, that's the problem right there. Like furniture, there's no breaking up the set. They're the X-Men's Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. But the big problem I have with Havok is that he's another character whose incredible power was dialed back--in his case, to firing bolts that looked great on paper but often accomplished practically nothing. Once you've seen Havok in the War of Kings series, you have to wonder why he didn't have a higher profile in either X-Men or X-Factor.

Fred W. Hill said...

Ah, very interesting about Crystal, Comicsfan. Johnny & Crystal's romance was doomed apparently because a lot of fans didn't like the dramatic change to Marvel's First Family, a powerful woman who could upstage not only Sue, but the rest of the group as well. And they wanted their familiar quartet to stay a foursome rather than become a quintet.
Amusing to remember that Spider-Man was the first to try to become the FF's fifth wheel!

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