Monday, June 05, 2017

Fringe Marvel Teams of the 90's: Part 1

What's up people?

So today I figured I'd talk briefly about some of the fringe Marvel teams of the 90's. When I say fringe, I mean teams that were outside the already established mainstream teams like the Avengers or X-Men, either as an off-shoot of one of these franchise teams mean to cash in on the already established name, or that they were teams uniquely created for that specific time period in the hopes of becoming a new and profitable franchise for the company.

I thought of at least 10 teams to make up a top 10 list, and here's what I've come up with......

1). The Secret Defenders:

Debuting in 1993, in The Secret Defenders was a team much in the same vein as it's popular predecessor, the Defenders, formed  and for a time, led by Dr. Strange. The in-continuity MU reason for the Secret Defenders being created was that Dr. Strange needed a team of certain superheroes to help him out on certain missions that would come up. Using tarot cards, he'd pick each operative that was beneficial to fighting that week's evil menace.

Basically it was the concept of the non-team taken literally, turning the Defenders into the Mission; Impossible of the MU, meaning the "team" was composed of a regularly rotating cast of characters for that particular story arc. Once the villain or villains were defeated and the mission over, everybody went back home, and Dr. Strange would start all over again.

For the time as a young kid, I loved it, especially due to initial cast of Wolverine, Nomad, Spider-Woman, and Darkhawk.  That and the fact that really anybody could be on the team. I mean shit, Strange recruited Captain America and the Scarlet Witch on the very next case after the first team.

The real reason this book even existed in the first place was because then editor-in-chief of Marvel, Tom DeFalco, wanted a team book composed of all the popular stars at the time, like Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Punisher, etc. Despite initial rejection at the idea by some, he got his wish and the book became a reality doing exactly what he wanted; publishing a team book composed of popular Marvel characters. In that respect, DeFalco basically used the same approach and line of thinking that Brian Bendis would later use himself with the Avengers in 2003, when he created the New Avengers. DeFalco just did it 10 years earlier.

Dr. Strange didn't stay on the book long as the main leader, handing off the reigns to former Avenger Dr. Druid. The book chugged along for another year or so, abandoning the whole "rotating cast" gimmick for a more stable line-up of Z-list "heroes" before being cancelled with #25 in March of 1995.

Personally, I feel with the decent amount of 90's nostalgia still permeating through Marvel these days, that the Secret Defenders concept is due for a comeback, be it brief or more long term. I mean shit, they had the Secret Avengers, and used that whole gimmick for awhile, why not bring it back  the Secret Defenders again?

2). Force Works:

Speaking of fringe teams, here's another one that started off as a spin-off of a popular team book, Avengers West Coast, in Force Works.

Created by Iron Man and debuting in July of 1994 shortly after he disbanded the West Coast branch of the Avengers, Force Works was meant to represent a new sort of team that would be more proactive in attempting to shutdown disasters alien invasions and attacks by MU super-villains.
They did this by using a Chaos computer with a hex mainframe that would work in conjunction with the Scarlet Witch's hex powers, to predict and pinpoint exactly where the team should show up and head off that particular disaster, rather then just wait and respond.

Joining him in this new venture, were mostly fellow former West Coast Avengers like the Scarlet Witch, U.S. Agent, Spider-Woman and Wonder Man...who promptly "died" at the end of the very first issue.

Force Works, despite it's initial promise, wasn't really allowed to be all that new and different in its approach to comic book teams, especially since they were joined at the hip to Iron Man, which in some ways was a goods thing, like when they appeared in the 1994 Iron Man animated series.

Shit, this meant some of them even got their own action figures in the IM animated toy line.

 But that association also proved to be a giant albatross later on when Tony went heel during the 1995-1996's "The Crossing" story arc that ran through Avengers, Iron Man and Force Works.
Once their Tony was killed off at the conclusion to the Crossing storyline, and replaced with a younger version, the writing was on the wall that the end was coming soon, and cancellation occurred a little less than two years after the book first started in April of 1996.

Hey, they had potential, and the awesome and very proven team( well maybe not so much back in '94) of the writing and art team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, better known as DnA, but it just wasn't enough. That and with Tony gone, the team was left without direction and purpose even though I think Wanda would've been a very capable leader in his absence. They just needed more easily recognized team members and more support from Marvel overall.

That's another team that would be cool to see come back even though right now the way things are now currently at Marvel, it just wouldn't be feasible. Shame.

Oh and quick shout out to longtime contributor and friend of this blog, Dan. He's talked about Force Works before on his blog, and likewise wanted to see them return at some point.

3). Thor Corps:

Yes there really has been two main incarnations of the Thor Corps.

The first incarnation debuted back in Thor #440 in late 1991 during the 4-part Thor War storyline, where old Thor villain, Zarko the Tomorrow Man was messing with the time steam and fucking with the then current Thor Eric Masterson.

At one point Zarko assembles a team of Thor villains from various points in time to battle the three Thors; Masterson, Beta Ray Bill, and Dargo Ktor, the future Thor of the 26th century.

After winning the "Thor War", the Thor Corps idea wouldn't be revisited until two later with a Thor Corps mini-series in 1993. Writer Tom DeFalco brought the team back one more time when Dargo the future Thor is forced to help the main villain and fellow 26th century citizen Demon-staff find his wife, which causes all sorts of shenanigans.

After that the Thor Corps resided in comic book limbo once more until it was re-imagined in 2015's Secret Wars as an interdimensional police force for Lord Doom.

Now do I want to see the Thor Corps again? Well the 90's version at least even though Thunderstrike (Eric Masterson) is still dead.

4). The Infinity Watch:

Spinning directly out of the aftermath of the famous Infinity Gauntlet story back in 1991, the following year in February of 1992, Marvel published a new monthly series called Warlock and the Infinity Watch. The team was created because the Living Tribunal didn't think it was the best thing in the world for someone like Adam Warlock to posses the infinity stones, especially with them being used altogether. So he ordered that Warlock find 5 other beings to help posses the infinity gems in order to safeguard them against beings who would seek to use and abuse them like Thanos had just done.

Reluctantly, Warlock did just that, and recruited friends and allies of his in Pip the troll, Moondragon, Gamora and Drax the Destroyer.

And oh yeah, even Thanos was a member for a time.

They later added another team member, Maxam, then came to an agreement with the Mole Man to set up their base on Monster Isle.

They dealt with the Infinity War and Infinity Crusade respectively before the book floundered and was ultimately cancelled in July of 1995.

For a brief time this team definitely captured my imagination, as I'd hold my own fantasy draft of heroes who should have a gem to safeguard. For me, they usually wound up being a mix of Avengers and X-Men characters, like shit, Cable for example I think held the time gem, 'cause why wouldn't he right?

They should bring this team back, albeit with new members, or just let the GoTG do it considering the current and cinematically-inspired incarnation of the team owes a lot to their predecessors in the Infinity Watch, especially when you realize that with the exception of Maxam and Thanos, most of the guys on the Infinity Watch would later join the Guardians.

5). Skrull Kill Krew:

Ok, so this team REALLY fits the criteria and definition of a fringe team from the 90's.
It's the Skrull Kill Krew, created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar (Yes, the same Grant Morrison and Mark Millar you know and love/loathe) back in 1995 and came about as an answer to a question that was bothering a lot of fans at the time.

Namely this;

Remember back in FF#4 when Mr. Fantastic forced three defeated Skrulls into morphing into cows, where they were supposed to live out the rest of their lives?

Yeah well for a smart guy, Reed really didn't think that solution out too well, because what happens to cows? They kill slaughtered and turned into Hamburgers and steaks. And that's just exactly what happened to those "cows." The people that ate said infected Skrull-cow meat would gain the same abilities as the Skrulls had, to varying degrees.

Enter the Skrull Kill Krew; Ryder, Riot, Catwalk, Dice, and Moonstomp.

They're main goal was hunting down any and all Skrulls they found and kill them in retribution for being infected.

Despite being an very original concept, and a very topical issue with the Mad Cow epidemic in full-swing, the series morphed from its intended plan to be a monthly, into a 5-issue mini-series instead.

The team did make a return in 2008 during the Skrull Secret Invasion.

This time they'd add the new 3-D Man into their ranks as he was able to detect hidden Skrulls with his 3-D vision.

After that, they rode back into the sunset, hunting Skrulls, and haven't been seen since.
Surely this concept hasn't seen its last days has it?

And before I's my SWAG that showed up early yesterday:

I ordered the new Marvel Select Destroyer figure, and damn am I glad I did!

He stands at just about over 7 inches tall, is pretty big, but is pretty fairly articulated for a figure of his size. As you can clearly see, he comes with an Odin head and the All-Father's trusty Odin sword, which fits in either hand.
Plus he was only around 21$ with tax, so I'd say I got a good deal on him.

As a bonus, if you want, and thanks to a suggestion by famed professional action figure reviewer Shartimus Prime, you can place the Odin head on the bottom hilt of the sword, to give the impression that Odin's head was impaled on the sword like a pike.

Then there's these guys:

Tombstone and the Beetle in his classic armored look from the new Marvel Legends Spider-Man Homecoming Wave.

I just love Tombstone's evil shit-eating grin/expression on his face, and he's a pretty accurate figure with the proper bulky body buck.

I've waited a long time for Hasbro to make his classic look, and I know I'm not the only one, so thank you Hasbro for finally pulling the trigger on that. The wings come from the Wasp (just like with the Superior Spider-Man female Beetle) and there's even a separate pair that acts like his famous shell bag-pack thingy he has on his back. Very cool.

And now all I need is a classic Hydro Man figure and I'll be able to finally re-unite the Sinister Syndicate:

I also ordered the new Adam Warlock figure from the Marvel Legends GoTG Mantis BAF wave, and it should be here by next week. 

Might have to buy two since Adam comes with a separate Magus head you can swap out. Either that or just do what my buddy Googum suggested and use that extra Dr. Strange body from the recent Marvel Legends Dr. Strange movie wave. That'd work.

Might have to buy two since Adam comes with a separate Magus head you can swap out. Either that or just do what my buddy Googum suggested and use that extra Dr. Strange body from the recent Marvel Legends Dr. Strange movie wave. That'd work.

Tomorrow, I finish off my top ten list of fringe Marvel teams from the 90's.
Tune in and find out who made the cut.....


Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

that Thor 440 issue has a sweet cover. I recognize the 3rd Thor in the background toward the top. can't remember the name of the guy but i remember him from this issue penciled by Ron Frenz (fucken awesome fight scenes) that takes place in some dystopian future in which the world is run by corporations. that was one of the most bad ass looking Thor costumes ever.
i also used to have those Amazing Spiderman issues they were pretty good with Spidey and Silver Sable taking on the whole Sinister Syndicate with a late assist by Sandman who i guess was trying to reform himself (his life not his body). have you scene the Ragnorock trailers? i don't know man they didn't do much for me it's looking like i'll pass on that one. Spiderman Homecoming looks more promising however.

Dale Bagwell said...

Dargo Dthor was his name. Yeah I gotta' admit, I like his future Thor look too, and he seemed like a good guy all around. I'm surprised he hasn't shown up in Thor lately, although I'd worry now if he did, because Jason Arrons would probably just kill him off.

But yeah those covers really sweet. man could Frenz go!

See I'm the opposite, now too impressed by the new Spider-man movie, even though I know Tom Holland will do an excellent job. I'll probably wait and rent it. Now the new Thor movie's got my interest piqued. I usually don't care for the Thor movies because they bore me, but this, this looks really good, like they're finally going balls out on this one....and it has Hulk so there's that. Can't go wrong with using the WWH storyline really.

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

i dunno, Ragnarak has a bit of a Thor The Darkworld vibe to me. as for Spiderman, you got Michael Keaton in it plus i'm looking forward to seeing the relationship between Parker and Stark develop i wanna see how much it mirrors Civil War in the comics. but you never know about these things until you actually see the movie. but i'll probably go see Spiderman on opening weekend unless i hear a lot of bad stuff about it prior. on the other hand i'm gonna have to hear some really great things about Ragnarak before i'd consider spending money on it. it really just comes off as little more then a cgi slug fest to me plus i got a glimpse of Jeff Goldblum in it and he looked really silly as whoever he's supposed to be. but i have to admit Kate Blanchet (sexy woman!)looks awesome so Ragnarak certainly has that going for it. sci-fi/comic book movies i passed on this year in theaters were Ghost In The Shell, Alien Covenant and the GOTG sequel. the ones i've seen on opening weekend this year so far have been Logan and Wonder Woman and they were well worth the price of admission.

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