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This week’s sermon - “Winnah, Winnah, Chicken Diner”

October 9, 2006

In last month’s column, I challenged you loyal PftL readers (as well as those opportunistic whores that just like to win free stuff) to come up with a superhero team based on Marvel Universe characters-only. Listed below are the ones (in no particular order) that, for one reason or another, did not make the grade along with the usual insipid comments about each team from yours truly.

###

Gary from Minnesota goes for a self-described “second stringers” draft with the team living out of the Windy City, using Lila Cheney’s rock star money for backing and calling themselves “ShaodwFlight”:

Kitty Pride (Shadowcat) – The hardest person to come up with was a team leader. Most people who would make a good team leader are probably going to get snatched up right away (Captain America, Iron Man, Cyclops, Storm, Reed Richards, even Wasp). So I went with someone, who’s a little young, but has demonstrated leadership ability. She’s been trained by the best, she’s incredibly smart, proved her mettle, and did I mention she’s cute as a button? She helped form “Excalibur”, and she kept the team together despite some lackadaisical stories. But give her, her old blue costume with the mask. That was cool.

Emma Frost – You have a character who’s been around the block. She has incredible psi-powers, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. Very good addition

Talisman (Daughter of Michael TwoYoungmen) – Elisabeth brings that sorcery vibe that every team needs. But don’t get her when she doesn’t have any emotions. Get her later on in the series. She’s a little more powerful, and she isn’t confined to Canada. Plus, that costume was hot.

Strong Guy – Hey the name implies everything. He’s uber strong, and he brings a much needed sense of levity to the group. Plus, the shades are hip. Trying my darndest to stay away from mutants for the last two team members.

Puck – Yeah, he’s short, and he can do cartwheels at people. But imagine if Strong Guy used him for a fastball special. Plus, he’s going to be the grounded guy. The guy that holds this team together. Not only that, but he doesn’t take up a lot of room when they’re traveling. Good for those people who need the leg room.

Tigra – You always need that one character who’s walking a little close to the edge. Greer Nelson fits that bill. Tigra is my sixth member. She can work in a team environment, and she’s got her teams back(so she might lose it at any moment). Having a supportive team leader (Shadowcat), and a really strong mentor (Puck), she’d be able to make it. Plus, she can smell your fear, and she looks darn great in that outfit.

PftL’s Take: Well, Gary, I liked the name of the team and for using Kitty as a team leader (a role that she held when leading Warren Ellis-produced X-Men). But it just seemed more like an offshoot of the X-Men universe. It not a bad team; just not all that different than what is out there now.

###

Here’s a team drafted by John in Florida with the moniker of “The Replacements” (sounds familiar):

Longshot (Leader) - Everybody’s favorite 3 fingered, lucky, X-Men wannabe would the leader for my team. He definitely has leadership skills, considering the rebellions against Mojo that he’s led several times, but he’s flawed too…mindwipes can do that to you. Plus, if Longshot is involved, Mojo works either as an enemy or an awkward Ally (Longshot leading his own super-team? RATINGS!)

Beast - No, this isn’t an X-Men thing. The fact of the matter is though is that Beast is simply brilliant. He’s one of the most gifted minds in the Marvel Universe, and with his wide areas of expertise, specifically with science and technology, he’d be a valuable asset to any team. Plus he’s a veteran of the superteam structure, (Being a member of various X-teams AND the Avengers). So I’m snatchin him up while the snatchin is good. He’s definitely 2nd in command and all-around Jack of All Trades material. Specifically, I’d prefer the Avengers era Beast with Blue fur but still mostly ape-like in appearance…I’m not diggin’ the cat thing.

Toxin (Patrick Mulligan) - The fact that he’s the offspring of Carnage will contribute to the overall bada$$ factor of the team. Toxin also has that wet-behind the ears protoge thing going on too as well as that deep angsty feeling of moral ambiguity and trying to control the inner beast that is the symbiote. Wolverine eat your heart out.

Nico Minoru (of the Runaways) - She’s young, she’s cynical, she’s magic. What’s not to like? Magic: when it’s on your side is never a bad thing and the “Staff of One’ is a neat little artifact. There might be some tension here, since she doesn’t really fit the classic “hero” archtype and is annoyed by people who do (check out Young Avengers and Runaways #2 if you need proof). But I think she could be persuaded by Longshot’s charm.

Echo - With photographic reflexes, Echo has the adaptation feature on her side. Plus as has been demonstrated in New Avengers, Echo has serious infiltration skills that could be put to use. Just supply her with lots and lots of file footage and she’s good to go.

Rom The Spaceknight - We have the token alien and backup tech head here. His nifty little tools and ability to stow things in a pocket dimension help, not to mention his super strength, invulnerability and big friggin’ lazer would make Rom a serious heavy hitter and clean up man.

PftL’s Take: John, I dug your inclusion of ROM (who never seems to get his proper respect for his Sci-Fi contributions to comics in the 80s/90s) and the attempt to turn Toxin into a force for good on this team. However, with the one-trick player that is Nico, the team does drop a little. And that drop is just enough to make a difference.

###

Dewey from the Quaker State gives his draft picks then explains his team’s name (This team is about stealth, with many different specialties here. I know the “undercover ops” superhero concept is getting a little stale, but this team is well-equipped to handle just about anything: espionage, supernatural threats, and scientific curiosities, in addition to any supervillain shenanigans. Note the motif for the majority of the team, and take another look at the team name. Where are the Wild Things? Right here baby.):

Black Widow (Natasha Romanov): The original Black Widow is our team leader. She has been a soldier, a spy, a superhero. Bonus points for being the hottest redhead in comics, and Trinity before there was anything called a “matrix.” (Just ask Bryan Hitch.) She has been on many teams, and is apparently worthy of being a “Mighty” Avenger when this whole Civil War shakes out. Natasha has been a valued compatriot of both Daredevil and Captain America. For her costume, there is no other choice but the full black spandex with gold gauntlets. Did I mention she is my favorite comic book character of all time?

The Falcon: Every team needs a quality flier, and with his newly updated wing system he is modern, and kick-ass. (Though I have a soft spot for the 70’s costume–heck, I had the action figure!) You’ve got surveillance, you’ve got air power, you’ve got a real “bird of prey.” There’s a reason why Captain America trusts him with his life. There can be no higher recommendation.

Diamondback: Let’s fulfill our “villain as a hero” quotient right here. And hey, look at that, she has ties to Captain America! Her story has gotten incredibly convoluted, but take the classic Gruenwald era character, and do a Geoff Johns-style reboot on her, and she is ready to take her place on this team.

The Lizard: OK, another “villain as a hero.” Curt Conners is a scientist, so he would lend knowledge to this team (every team needs that geek who can go all “CSI” for them. Or, if you want a little more old-school–Giles.) And when the chips are down, he can become the savage Lizard. Might be due for a little Peter David rewrite where Conners finds some way to merge his intellect with the Lizard–but not all the way. (Yeah, I had this action figure, too.)

Paladin: Sure, he’s got a goofy costume (or is it so out-there, it is actually cool?) But he’s a crack shot, and every team that does not have an archer should have a gunslinger. This one’s my guy.

Jennifer Kale: It is good to have a mystic on your team, and if you are a Steve Gerber fan, you can’t go wrong with Kale. Besides, the team is nicely balanced, and I dare you to find a hotter bunch than this one!

Team Mascot: Howard the Duck. No, I am not cheating by putting in a mascot. No, he is not a seventh member. Sigh. Whatever. He has been a survivor, battled all kinds of menaces martial and supernatural, and his origin is tied into the Nexus of All Realities. If you considered this a pitch, you might see where some of this is going for stories…

PftL’s Take: I liked the pick of Wendy the Good Little Witch (Jennifer Kale). And you’re right on Paladin’s costume. But this team lacks some brute strength and physical toughness. Gotta have someone who will just roll up their sleeves, barge in and mix it up with anyone. Outside of that, this team is a good one.

###

New Jersey’s own Adam J. offers his team named “The Pliskin Six”:

The Thing - One of Marvel’s iconic characters is sure to go in the first two rounds. I figure my team needs a tank, but one that is a little more dependable than the Hulk, or of better record than someone like Rhino. Also, this is a public team, so I can’t think of a better person to earn the public’s trust (BTW- I’m with Iron Man). The ever-loving blue eyed Thing will never leave a fallen comrade, is about as brave as anyone in the Marvel U, and is stronger than just about anyone. His years of experience working in a team atmosphere also make him a solid first rounder. Also has a catchphrase.

Iceman - Probably drafted a tad too high, but his popularity will more than likely have rushed him, and he’s someone I just need to have on my team. Ice sliding makes him the equivalent of a speedster. He also can covertly disable security systems with his sub zero temperatures should a mission call for it. His ability to see heat signatures also helps in stealth missions. Like Grimm, has mucho team experience. Most importantly though, he’s an Omega level mutant, which means almost unlimited power.

Exodus - A forgotten product of the 1990’s, Exodus is a solid sleeper pick at the third round. He’s near invulnerable, can fly, produce various psionic energies, and can even bring the dead back to life. He has shown himself capable of simultaneously:

1) Amplifying Genoshan mutates’ hatred of humans;
2) Crushing Genosha via a massive force field;
3) Immobilising (sic) Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Crystal and Jean Grey in another force field;
4) Protecting himself from attacks; and,
5) Dealing out massive amounts of damage to both the X-Men and the Avengers. Bad Ass.

Multiple Man - One man army. Any and all physical contact creates a duplicate, so he really can’t be stopped. Near unlimited intelligence due to the fact that he frequently (sic) sends duplicates into the world to learn various skills he can reassimilate. Has worked for the government before, so he will be a welcome addition in the new, post Civil War Marvel.

Black Widow (Natasha Romanov)(Team Captain) - The woman’s a pro. I figure she’d fall this low to her lack of “powers” but there are few tactitians (sic), combat fighters, stealth, and beautiful characters in all of comics. She’s been a member of S.H.I.E.L.D for God knows how long, and was the right hand lady of Nick Fury for most of her tenure. Also, has ties with Iceman from their Champions Days together, has worked with a Jaime Madrox dupe in S.H.I.E.L.D., and worked with Grimm after the Secret War debacle. It’s her time to lead. Anytime you can get a team captain at #5 means that it’s a good pick. She also has Avengers ties to the last member of the team…

Mr. Immortal - So he’s a Great Lakes Avenger (or Great Lakes X-Man, or Great Lakes Champion, or whatever it is their called now). The dude can’t die. Ever. And he’s a homo-superior. What more could you want?

Exodus is the one wild card of this team. I’m unsure how well he would work not being the team letter. That’s part of the reason I stacked this team with so many mutants. Some similar genes may ease him into the team. Widow isn’t so headstrong and self absorbed where she’d be a “my way or the highway” type leader. She would assess everyone’s attributes and come up with the most rational plan available.

PftL’s Take: Adam, good pick with the Thing – not many people go for Ben Grimm when picking a team. However, Mr. Immortal is very similar to Nico of the Runaways as far as having one power and not a very solid one. And I would think that the eventual downfall of the team would be at the hands of Exodus. Here’s a choice selection from Marvel Universe’s bio on the guy:

“…Exodus has displayed a fragile psyche, as well as a fundamental disregard for the lives of regular humans… Presumed to be one of the most powerful mutants on Earth, Exodus’ mental instability and lack of morals make him an unpredictable, extremely dangerous individual.”

Yikes, he has too much Mike Tyson in his character for my tastes.

###

Here’s J.A. from Connecticut with his team and subsequent justification (My concept is for a group of individuals who can work well together, but have versatile power sets that allow each member to play multiple roles as needed.):

Team Leader – The Multiple Man: Jamie Madrox – Why the leader? He’s cutting his teeth as a leader in the new X-Factor books, and seems to be doing well despite some personal insecurity. Why him in general? His powers are versatile, often under-estimated, and always used creatively. Jamie tends to fill a support role to other team mates in a fight, but his powers come in very handy when information gathering in the field.

Psylocke: Betsy Braddock (The British, Pre Ninja, armored X-men version) – Betsy has experience as the temporary leader of Excaliber. As such, she makes an excellent second in command. Her telepathy can provide vital information to teammates quickly, and while armored she is a capable support fighter.

The Invisible Woman: Sue Richards – Long established as a team player, I’d imagine Sue would get along even better when not taking orders from her husband while in the field. Her powers are an excellent blend of offensive and defensive, and she can fill either role in a pinch.

Speedball: Robert Baldwin – He’s personable and also a well established team player from his time with the New Warriors. Like Sue, his powers are both defensive and offensive, but more importantly they are unexpected by most super-villains.

Box: Richard Bochs – He’s intelligent enough to construct a robot, which would make him the brains of the team. While controlling his robot, he becomes the strong man of the group, and gains the supplemental powers of flight and various sensory equipment. I’ll take brains and brawn in one package any day.

Warlock: (New Mutants Era) – Warlock’s metamorphic powers by nature can adapt to numerous situations. I like the New Mutants version because he’s much more of an innocent (which will offset some of Madrox’s brooding) and (in my humble opinion) displays greater loyalty to his teammates.

PftL’s Take: The Roger Bochs pick was a deft one. But with the number of X-Men/Alpha Flight members on the team, the team suffers from a lack of an identity.

###

Corey T. from sunny FLA submits his team:

Mr. Fantastic (Team Leader): Going for consistency using the same first pick I did last year. It seems to me that, the arguably smartest man in the Marvel Universe should be the team leader. Not only is he a master strategist, but his ability to train other heroes in the use of their powers is unparalleled.

Doctor Strange: OK, it might be claim this is too powerful of a character or too big of name to be claiming for a second pick. But if anyone read one issue of any Defenders comics, it should be obvious that this man should never lead a team. But Strange isn’t just here for power, but more to give the team the necessary knowledge and resources to deal with magical threats. The one of the only weak spots in Reed Richards abilities.

Iceman: We got a glimpse of the true extent of Iceman’s powers when Emma Frost took over his body, but lately he’s been showing us even more.

Winter Soldier (Bucky): So, I can’t take Captain America. Alright, I’ll take the man’s backup. Sure, he might be a wild card due to mental issues, but there’s no denying his abilities.

Cloak: It was between a teleporter or a speedster and Marvel seems to have more of the former than the latter. As cool as Nightcrawler is, for the 5th pick it had to be Cloak. This is fine by me, though. He is a great mass teleporter, despite the discomfort of his passengers.

Victor Mancha: OK, so he just got shredded in the Young Avengers/Runaways Civil War Special, but that’s why a teenager is not a team leader. He got shredded due to arrogance. It’s already been shown how super hero obsessed he is. Amongst this crowd, I don’t think arrogance is going to be an issue. Not to mention, he has Reed Richards to point out that Shield has dealt with both Magneto and Polaris so they probably have weapons for super folks with magnetic control. Besides from trying to justify this pick despite the character recent injuries, he is also a creation of Ultron with the power one would expect Ultron to provide. On top of this, the potential of his magnetic powers, as well as his secondary abilities, have just begun to be tapped.

PftL’s Take: Ya know, I almost picked Cloak for my team so, of course, I dig that pick. The same goes for the doctor. As for the others, ehh. I’m just not feeling it, dog. Again, half of the team is X-Men derived. Two is okay but three is a bit too much.

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Kasey from Utah goes for the classic old-school style with his team, aptly named “The Dudes In Red Tights”:

Leader – Daredevil. Despite the theme I thought it would be best to have at least one legitimate hero. Daredevil is the only member of the team who I actually know something about.

Red Guardian – Since I was looking for red tights, I found this guy first and was immediately intrigued and impressed. A communist Captain America for the Soviets. A close ally of Stalin. I figure now that the dream of communism has withered to a mere whisper in the Cuban coastal winds, this guy would be looking for work (something he wouldn’t have to do if communism were still popular). Bitter, disillusioned and desperate, Red Guardian could be the obligatory cynical naysayer of the Dudes In Red Tights team.

Hellion – The team needed mind powers and this guy fit the bill with his telekinesis. He also seems like a good candidate to go off on his own and get into trouble, something every team needs.

Crimson Crusader – CC is actually pretty damn powerful. Control gravity? Hells yeah! Unfortunately, he is powerless without his sister Pandora around. Too bad she doesn’t have red tights stretched over a manly package or she could’ve been on the team too. Alas, without her, he supplies the ‘Aquaman’ role on the team.

Rocket Racer – This is by far my favorite member of the team. A skateboard riding brother from the seventies. He doesn’t have super strength, or psychic ability or any of that crap, he shoots motherf***in’ rockets! Out of his wrists. And he rides a skateboard thing too. That is freakin’ badass. I envision Rocket Racer as the reliable backbone of the team who doesn’t need to upstage anybody else.

PftL’s Take: Kasey, there’s some good stuff here. But, as you mention in your write-up, Crimson Crusader is, essentially, useless unless his sis is backing him up; eerily similar to the Wonder Twins. And since there’s only five members, The Dudes in Red Tights are a little light in those tights.

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Aaron from across the pond in Ireland sends in his my ideal team-up since I was about 12 (albeit with a few minor changes) with the team name of “The New York Knights”:

1) Daredevil (Matthew Murdock) - Not only has this character been consistently at the top of the “great reads” list for the last couple of years but he has also stayed very clear of super hero groups. A trait which while character driven, annoyed the hell out of me. I’ve always thought he would make a fantastic reluctant leader and with his strict vision for justice and morality has the back-bone to be a believable one. And also, less we forget his very cool outfit…

2) Luke Cage - Long time close friend of Daredevil and long time bad-ass also. It would be more than easy to believe Luke would follow DD into the gates of hell, if not just for loyalty but for the love of handing out some ass-whoopin. One of the only (to my mind) legitimately “street” characters in the Marvel Universe and finally getting his due on the Avengers run. His personality works great in a team environment as he’s just that little bit different from every other “hero”.

3) Iceman (Bobby Drake) - I’ll be honest, I have loved this boy from the day I was born. Remember the “Spiderman and Friends” TV series from the early 80s? My favourite show as a child. I’ve stayed loyal to him despite him being pretty much over-looked in x-men history. This is one of the originals folks! Fuck Cable, where’s Bobby Drake? He’s well adverse to team-environments (so much so that you can play 5 degrees of separation with him and his other team members far too easily), already New York based and with powers growing by the issue along with a new frosty demeanor (god I love puns) to go with it.

4) Archangel (Warren Worthington III) - A character who, when you look into his history, had been tormented from the word go. Never had an easy break as far as personal (and physical) life goes but was blessed with inheriting a fortune. He’s also an original x-man with Iceman who in recent years has been slightly forgotten The possible ‘cash’ behind the group or the teams ‘iron-man’, depending on how you want to look at it. Easy competition for leader of the group. Either way, an obviously solid addition to the team but also gives the advantage of having the wonderful payoff of having both an Angel and a Devil in the team :)

5) Hawkeye (Clint Barton) - Recently deceased, but when has that stopped a comic-book character before? I love the idea of having a non-super powered hero in a team. It always leaves room for jealousy and over-compensation. But it also adds an element of weaponry, something that is always forgotten about when it’s usually a big bruising punch-up. What kid doesn’t love cool gadgets? Hawkeye had the lot A huge amount of experience with the Avengers, but can he handle life without Cap and Stark? The token outsider to the group. That pointy mask has got to go though…

6) Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) - The “hot-piece-of-ass” in the group but don’t let looks deceive you, this girl can hold her own. She is often placed as the fun loving, reformed bad-girl in the Marvel Universe, but don’t forget folks, her decent into the costume world started because she was date-raped in college. Heavy stuff. A worthy counter-balance to Spiderman (and also her anchor to the group through his friendship to DD) she would be integral element to the team dynamic With her ability to “affect probability fields” aswell, she would add a nice bit of comic-book cheese if the writer saw fit. (Such a stupid power, but fantastically absurd at the same time)

PftL’s Take: Double A, this one was solid. However, the balance just seems off. I would actually expect to see this lineup in a Defenders-style comic. Not that it’s a bad thing but it’s somewhat bland.

###

Michael from our friends in the Great White North offers two groups. The first one is called “Hell Hath Nick Fury”:
1. Thor (Simonson era) - Thor provides both power and passion. I don’t believe there’s anyone in the MU that can realistically go toe-to-toe with him (with the exception of Odin, but let’s not go there). I also don’t believe there’s anyone in comicdom that can go toe-to-toe with him (Superman be damned).

2. Nick Fury (mid-90s) - The leader. He brings smarts, tactics, and gadgets. What more do you need?

3. Doctor Strange - Mystic and psychic power — a lot of mystic and psychic power. Welcome aboard, Doc.

4. Invisible Woman - Stealth and hotness. Both vital.

5. Blade - Sheer brutality on a day-to-day basis. Also, what if the team happens to run into vampires?

6. Speedball - Speed, balls, and comic relief.

PftL’s Take: Hey, it’s a shout-out pick for Blade, which is surprising since the movies did so well. Outside of that pick, the rest are decent; just too blah, I guess. And who would’ve thought that that irrepressible Speedball would get selected more than once? Not me, that’s for sure.

###

Michael also submitted the first all-villain group named “Doom and Gloom”:
1. Doctor Doom — Not the stupid movie version. He’s the leader. The kickass ruler of Latveria. One of the few villains that could get a team together and keep them together through brains, cash, and force of personality.

2. Juggernaut — The muscle. Nuff said.

3. Mystique — Shapeshifting is both cool and useful. She’s also got a wicked mean streak.

4. Scarlet Witch (Brotherhood) — Brings the psychic pain.

5. Deadpool — Because assassins are cool.

6. Quicksilver (Brotherhood) — Fills the need for speed. Also, it’s nice to keep siblings together.

PftL’s Take: Honestly, this team, outside of Deadpool, is the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, plain and simple. It could’ve been better, really.

###

Jesse from The West Coast also sent two teams in for the contest. The first one is called “The All-New and Improved West Coast Defenders”:

#1 Captain America (leader) (setting: current) – My first pick, and leader, is Captain America. Captain America has led not only the Avengers, but often takes a leadership role when the MU is gathered against an overwhelming force (Secret Wars, the Infinity Gauntlet saga, and Operation Galactic Storm all come to mind). Guys like Thor and Hercules respect and follow his command. He takes the time to train and improve the members of his team, both as individuals and as a unit. Having Cap lead a team may be a clichéd, but it is so for a reason.

#2 Beta-Ray Bill (setting: current) – A warrior’s heart, a hammer with the powers of Mjolnir, and now stranded on Earth, Beta Ray Bill is my second pick for this team. Loyal and brave Bill is a hero that serves to strengthen any team. In the larger team dynamic Bill, fills the role of both the heavy hitter, and a defense against both mystic and cosmic foes.

#3 Clea Strange (setting: 70s/80s) – Heroes join together in order to face those threats that no single hero can withstand. In the MU, there are often strange visitors from distant dimensions who come to conqueror reality. Every team needs a mystic to face such opponents. With my third pick I have chosen Clea Strange. Every bit the accomplished mystic as her husband, but sadly often ignored and even unknown by current fans, Clea is both a warrior and a nurturer who will compliment and support this team both on and off the field.

#4 Beast (setting: early 90s) – My fourth pick is the one and only Hank McCoy. Blue, furry, and non-cat like, Hank McCoy. Granted everyone has a preference as to what Beast should look like. But I chose this era of his career not only for the way he looked, but the way he acted as well. I chose the version of Beast who would just as soon make a joke and cause trouble as bust out a 37 word sentence to answer if he wanted take-out for dinner that night. Every team needs a comedian to keep things light during tense situations. Hank has a brilliant mind, is a proven fighter, and as already mentioned will serve to keep the spirits of the team high.

#5 Franklin Richards (setting: early 90s) – Most readers know Franklin from his series of Calvin and Hobbes knock offs. However, there was a time when the first born of Marvel’s First Family, had power to spare. Any kid that can create entire dimensions (all be it a dimension where everyone has misshapen feet), would be a welcomed addition to any team. Obviously, his age and inexperience in the field serve as detractors to his inclusion on the team; however I believe that the tutelage and care of Clea would provide the guidance needed for Franklin to come in to his own as a hero. The watchful and nurturing eye of Clea would also help to elevate the doubts and concern that Sue would have in placing her child in such a dangerous situation.

#6 Mockingbird (setting 80s) (I am assuming since we are allowed to choose the era of our characters, we can choose an era from before they died (heck, if Bucky can make it back from the dead…) ) – Mrs. Barbara “Bobbi” Morse Barton aka Mockingbird is the last pick for my team. Since she is technically dead, I felt that she was safe to save for the last pick; however she is far from the weakest member of the team. Bobbi has been trained as a spy and in the art of hand to hand combatant. Both of these skills will be helpful to the All-New Defenders. She has served on teams in the past, and knows what it takes to work alongside others.

PftL’s Take: This team is solid from top to bottom, except for little Richards. I remember that he has some sort of god-level powers (just try to forget “Heroes Reborn”. I dare you). But for me, he nicks this team ever so slightly to knock from the top spot.

###

Comprised of mainly supporting characters is the genesis for the name of Jesse’s second team – “The 8 Page Back-Ups”:

This team consists of misfits, and heroes who are for one reason or another out of sync with the world in which they live. I found that looking for heroes that fit the “person out of time” mold, many came from the world of Captain America. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise. Choosing mostly supporting characters, lead to the creation of the team’s name. Each of these heroes have served in supporting roles in various places around the MU. Now is there time to shine as individuals and as a team.

#1 Nick Fury (leader) (setting: 70s and 80s) – The Nick Fury I have chosen to lead this team is the gruff yet lovable, Nick Fury of days gone by. With his ever present cigar, and his habit of calling those under him “Goldbricks”, Nick is a season veteran of both domestic and foreign wars. He knows when to push his team, and when to give them their space. He is comfortable staying behind to monitor and lead missions, but is willing and able to enter the fray and mix it up with the bad guys. Nick lives as a man who is way past his prime and should have long been forced into retirement due to failing health. However, thanks to regular doses of the Infinity Formula, he continues to fight the good fight. As a man out of time in his own right, he will be able to relate to the others on his team.

#2 Winter Solider (Bucky Barnes) (setting: current) – The Winter Solider is a highly trained spy, combatant, and sniper. Bucky has worked solo and in team settings. He fought in WWII, and is now only the physical age of a twenty-something. He is currently working with Fury, so we know that the two of them can work together. He is a perfect fit for this team.

#3 Spitfire (setting: current) – Jacqueline is trained at combat, has worked in team settings, and also can serve as the team’s speedster. Once again, she is a WWII alum who is currently in the body of a twenty-something. She has worked with both Bucky and Fury in the past. Both of these elements make her yet another perfect fit for the 8 Page Back-Ups.

#4 Lockjaw (setting: 80s) – There is not a bigger misfit in the MU. Part of a team deemed as “inhuman” with a base relegated to Earth’s moon, Lockjaw would fit nicely into a team of outcasts. Ok, so the above is stretching it a bit, and the current status quo is that Lockjaw is nothing but a big old dog, so why would I want him on the team? I choose to think of the characterization of Lockjaw that was given to us by the infamous John Bryne, the Lockjaw who could speak, but seldom chose to. I know there were objections to Lockjaw being that intelligent compared to the way he was treated by the Inhumans, but I never saw that as a problem. Sure they didn’t speak to him much, but he isn’t exactly a conversationalist. And if his dinner was served in a bowl away from the family, that doesn’t meant they were disrespecting Lockjaw. Rather they were giving him his dignity. His anatomy doesn’t allow him to sit at a table with the rest of the royal family, and no doubt having (again due to his physical make-up) to eat from a bowl is not a pleasant or dignified experience. Allowing him to do so away from everyone else actually bestows dignity on him. Lockjaw knows what it means to be an outcast that is why he has befriended Ben Grimm. I say we return him to that characterization of intelligent, noble, and yet silent. So now that he belongs on the team, can he aid in the field? I would think his strength coupled with his power of teleportation would come in handy, and more than fill this need.

#5 Doughboy (setting: late 80s/early 90s) – The Doughboy I have chosen for this team is the one that is rid of the Primis persona. He is simply a pliable creature ready to serve his current master. His loyalty and his shape shifting abilities would know doubt help the team in combat and on missions. Not to mention is there not a bigger outcast than someone who is basically a giant blob of barley sentiment play-dough.

#6 Valeria Richards (setting: 2027 - Again I am pushing “the choose the era” rule here) What I mean by 2027 (is that given the MU that is currently published and set in 2006) in 2027 Valeria will be roughly 22 years old. Plus we all know that at some point there will be another future story, or a way to age Valeria to adulthood, cause FF and time travel are like Pirates and Bluebeard.) – Valeria Richards (the current toddler and second child of Reed and Sue for those of you keeping track at home) all grown-up (prematurely matured and/or brought to the present from the past) is the final member of this team. Granted, she hasn’t shown any powers yet, but she no doubt possesses them. Just look at her parents. Speaking of possession, Valeria also has whatever latent powers that were put in her as she is the familiar spirit of Doctor Doom. In fact the betrayer in our midst (and controlled by Dr. Doom) is a great twist for any happy little family and team. Valeria much older than she should be and/or out of time, betrays the team, then its found out to be Doom all along, and the team works to have her feel accepted, and keep her on in the team. That is my sixth, and needlessly complicated final pick for my team the 8 Page Back-Ups.

PftL’s Take: I commend the Lockjaw pick since that creature is probably the coolest dog in all of comics – even ahead of Krypto. But, yeah, the Valeria pick is a leap since there has not been any documented (read scripted) history on her character as an adult. Plus, if you’re going to commit to a theme team of back page heroes, you really can’t justify someone who had his own title.

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Well, who did win? Well, while the entry pool was considerably less than it was last year, this year was still hard to decide who the winner would be. After tossing and turning over it for a couple of days and making cases for all of the submissions, there was just one that caught my eye just a smidge more than the others.

So, congrats to JR from Parts Unknown and his winning entry:

Photon (Leader) – That’s right. Monica Rambeau. Why, you ask? Well, there’s plenty of reason. She used to lead the Avengers. She currently leads Nextwave, or whatever that weird Ellis team is called. (I wouldn’t know, I’m not reading that book.) She’s got a military background. She’s got a pretty cool looking costume. But most importantly: She’s probably one of the fastest characters in the Marvel Universe. At top speed, she’s moving at the speed of light. That’s to the sun and back in sixteen minutes. She can be pretty much anywhere on the planet before you can even think about calling her. Add in her leading experience and you’ve got an extremely valuable player.

Doc Sampson – Every team needs a strong guy, and Sampson’s traded blows with the Hulk. That’s a good recommendation. Also, he’s a doctor. I’m not sure in what anymore, but he is a doctor, and any kind of booksmarts comes in handy. Just give him his suit with the lightning bolt and something to keep his hair in place so he can grow it longer and we’ve got our tanker!

Karnak – This Inhuman’s underrated, in my opinion. If you use him right, he’s tactical perfection. The ability to find the weakest point in something and how to break it is painfully useful. Pair him up with Doc Sampson and have him tell the Doctor where to hit. It’s a match made in heaven! Plus, his connections with the Inhumans Royal Family don’t hurt.

Equinox, the Thermodynamic Man – I’d have trouble trying to think of a more obscure character. He popped up two or three times in Marvel Team-Up, if you’re interested. Basically, he’s got control over both fire and ice. It’s like having the Human Torch and Iceman in one crazy-go-nuts shell with horns for some reason! But for serious, he’s about as strong as Spider-Man (not awe-inspiring in the Marvel U, but it’s something) and has some elemental control. Sure, he’s a villain, but you can throw one of those Suicide Squad collars on him, or whatever the Marvel version is. He’s powerless now, but we’re allowed to futz with the time period, so let’s have him at the peak of his powers, in that issue of MTU with Yellowjacket.

Unus the Untouchable – Every team needs a mutant. Why not Unus? He’s an ex-con with nothing to lose, and force fields to project. The entire team runs into the battle, light beams flying, fire and ice going every which way, but they need a few seconds to observe the situation. Keep Unus close, within a tight enough proximity that he can cover everyone with a shield, and move as quickly as possible to where they need to be. He’s a powerful support member who can also assist in combat, via force field-shoving. Oh, and as for the time period I want for him: the not-dead one, and also the not-crazy one. Here’s hoping there’s some overlap.

Longshot – All right, we’ve got a leader who can turn into light. We’ve got two strong guys, one who can control half the elements. We’ve got a tactical genius. We’ve got shielding. Now, all we need is a little bit of luck. That’s where Longshot comes in. He can use his lucky powers to shove the forces of fate into the team’s hands. Plus, he’s a pretty good fighter and acrobat, so he can assist in combat without a problem.

PftL’s Take: As I looked over all of the picks, this one kept coming back to me. It’s a very solid and tough team. There are some questions – the capability of being team players by both of the villains being the obvious one. But having Photon as the leader was great and seeing guys like Doc Sampson (very underrated) and Karnak picked really filled out the team. If Ellis or Benids wrote a one-shot of this one, I would be the first in line.

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Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit a team this year. It was really appreciated.

Well, I’m off the Longbox this week. Come back next week for the final edition of Preachin’ from the Longbox. Until then, don’t forget to keep you bags and boards together and your continuity straight.

-britt

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