The Marvel Universe has been around one hell of a long time. And through all that time, we've had a steady stream of awesome and insane superteams, not all of whom get the credit they deserve. Now this list is just a small selection of these super-cool groups, and one which purposely doesn't include teams I've already talked about in other lists. It's also not so much a ranked list as an "I like all of these groups a ton so let's talk about them." And trust me, this won't be the last list like this I do so if your favorite got left off, I'm sure it'll make a later edition.
Honorable Mention 1: The Great Lakes Avengers
For our two honorable mentions, I thought I'd throw in two reader-suggested teams that do in fact deserve placement here. First up, the wonderful GLA.
The Great Lakes Avengers are composed of the best heroes from the Great Lakes area. This includes Mr. Immortal, Doorman, Flatman, Big Bertha, and of course, Squirrel Girl. The only reason I didn't originally have them on this list is that I honestly never thought they were underrated because I always assumed everyone loved them. But apparently some people don't. Those people are wrong.
The team eventually got taken to task for using the name Avengers without permission and had to change. They have since been known as the Great Lakes X-Men, Great Lakes Initiative, and Great Lakes Champions. That last one they won in a poker game.
Although honestly, it feels more like that should have been the prize given to the loser.
Honorable Mention 2: The Defenders
Honorable mention number two!
The Defenders are indeed pretty great. This is one of those teams that seems thrown together but actually sticks quite well. We have The Hulk, Doctor Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer. When placed all together, they create a pretty rounded-out squad. For a founding member of the Avengers, The Hulk doesn't really work with most teams, but he fits right in with the other misfits and outcasts of this team.
Namor usually functions as a villain, but when he's feeling more heroic, he has a nice dynamic with the formerly villainous Silver Surfer and the troubled Doctor Strange. Together they form the team that shouldn't be a team. Plus, when later members like Hellcat and Beast eventually started springing up, the team expanded in new ways.
Oh, and the Nighthawk-led version from The Last Defenders was also pretty great and extremely underrated. Pick that series up if you get the chance.
15. The All-New Invaders
Y'know, I coulda put the classic Invaders on here, but I wanted to give some love to a title that got cancelled too soon.
James Robinson is one of my favorite writers ever, and his work on stuff like Starman and Airboy puts him firmly at the top of his tier. So when I heard he was getting an All-New Marvel Now book, I was pretty excited. And when I heard this book was gonna be about the Invaders, my excitement only grew.
Robinson writes golden age characters like no one else, and his take on Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, made a character that bored me into one I have a strong personal affinity for. Seeing the Winter Soldier tagging along with Cap, Torch, and Namor was pitch perfect. The reintroduction of Toro, the creation of Radiance and Iron Cross? All great! And the fact that The Invaders start their story by battling an alien invasion? Brilliance.
Near perfect book, awesome team.
14. The Order
Los Angeles represent!
In the aftermath of Civil War, the government began the Fifty-State Initiative program. The initiative was designed to give each US State its own superhero team. The Order was intended to be California's answer to that program. Originally intended to be called the Champions, until that plan fell through for copyright reasons, The Order was a team of sponsored superheroes. They could be fired at any time, and their powers were government-assigned.
The team was led by Henry Hellrung, a television actor famous for playing Tony Stark on television. Hellrung eventually wound up as the real Stark's Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, earning him Stark's trust and respect. The rest of the team members were hired and outfitted to be the best superteam possible, and they do their job pretty well.
They haven't been used much since their series ended, but I'd love to see some more appearances for this LA-centred superteam.
13. The Slingers
I've always had a love for weird forgotten Spider-Man stories and a big one of those was Identity Crisis. No, not the terrible DC story, but the pretty solid Spider-Man story.
In the story, Spider-Man was framed, so in order to get his superheroing done, he took up a slate of brand new identities. The acrobatic Ricochet, the shadowy Dusk, the high flying Hornet, and the brilliant Prodigy. But after he was done clearing his name, he tossed those identities to the curb. And four young people picked them up.
The Slingers took pre-existing reputations and made real heroic identities out of them, becoming real superheroes. The team had a short-running series before going their separate ways. Dusk disappeared into the night, Hornet was killed by a HYDRA-controlled Wolverine, Prodigy took a position with the Avengers Initiative, and Ricochet joined up with the Avengers Academy.
Although they're no longer a team, they deserve far more respect than they’re currently being given.
12. Agents of Atlas
Okay, look, any team that formed out of an issue of What If? has more than a special place in my heart.
In What If? #9, What if the Avengers formed in the 1950s?, Marvel grabbed a bunch of forgotten "˜50s comic book characters and threw them together as a team. We got Marvel Boy the alien, Namora the Atlantean, SHIELD Agent Jimmy Woo, M-11 the Human Robot, and Gorilla Man the"¦uh"¦gorilla man. Best superteam ever.
A robot AND a gorilla man? Are you kidding me?
Also, "Human Robot" is a bit of a misnomer. He's just a regular robot, not a human one. Not exactly sure what a human robot would even be, but good ol' M-11 ain't one of those. The team had a ton of fun adventures once they were eventually introduced into actual Marvel Universe continuity, but unfortunately, they never really took off. But, hey, great team, and you should totally check out their time in comics.
11. Heroes for Hire
Sometimes a two-man team matures into something greater.
Luke Cage, aka Power Man, was the original Hero for Hire, doing jobs for money. Then he partnered with Danny Rand and his Iron Fist, and the duo was formed. But when the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four disappeared following a battle with Onslaught, a power vacuum got left. And a buncha heroes stepped up to fill it as the new Heroes for Hire.
The Daughters of the Dragon formed their own incarnation during Civil War, but eventually disassembled after realizing that they had compromised their own ideals. Shadowland gave us another team which turned into the Villains for Hire. Infinity spawned team four, who became the Mighty Avengers.
And most recently, Deadpool tried to start his own incarnation, although they got sued into the name Mercs for Money instead. But whoever's on the team, the Heroes for Hire are an important part of the Marvel universe.
10. The Champions
We are starting off the top 10 at the height of ridiculousness, because why not.
The Champions were one of the first Los Angeles-centered superhero teams. And as an LA native myself, I couldn't be happier at this line up.
First, we have Iceman and Angel from the OG X-Men. This makes sense, as X-Men on a non-X-Men team is always fun. Also Black Widow because, well, she was up in San Francisco with Daredevil for a while and that's not THAT bad a flight (Hopefully she flies into Burbank and not LAX because LAX is a nightmare airport). Then we have Hercules because if not Thor, he's fine, I guess. And then Ghost Rider because"¦well honestly, I have actually no idea whatsoever.
I love this team because as a collective whole, they make legit no sense. It's crazy. Iceman and Ghost Rider working together? What? Why? Who knows, but who cares because this lineup is awesome.
9. The New Fantastic Four
I love that this happened. Heck, I'd love a New FF revival. Of course, Marvel'd have to be publishing a Fantastic Four comic for that to happen. A-HEM. Get on that.
But anyway, the New Fantastic Four! When the OG FF went missing, a distress call brought together The Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and"¦Ghost Rider? Again? God, "˜Rider, why do you keep popping up on these teams? Admittedly, this is a different Ghost Rider than the previous one, but still.
The New F4 were admittedly a pretty transparent attempt to stick all of Marvel's most popular (at the time) characters in one book, most likely to boost sales, but it resulted in an extremely memorable team.
I'm not sure if the New F4 story is still in print, but if you can track it down, it makes for a seriously fun read.
8. Avengers A.I.
After the massive world and time shattering conflict that was Age of Ultron, The Avengers put together a squad dedicated to solving Artificial Intelligence-related problems.
The squad was led by Hank Pym and included The Vision and Runaways team member Victor Mancha, as well as new character Alexis, among its membership. It also included Doombot, who might be one of my favorite characters of all time.
Sadly, the book didn't last as long as I wished it did, but the series and characters really deserved more exposure. But for a twelve issue series about a bunch of robots, this one knocks it out of the park. Plus, Doombot is so so great. Doombot does not apologize. And he will tell you that he does not apologize. As often as you would like to hear it. Also, writer Sam Humphries and Artist Andre Lima Araujo are both doing top of their game work. As much as I like all of Humphries's work, it's this little book about robots bein' robots that I love most.
7. Damage Control
When a superhero fight wrecks a city, who do you call to clean up afterwards? Well, you call Damage Control!
Damage Control is a for-profit company that takes out private contracts to do cleanup and repair work in the aftermath of serious superpowered incidents. Composed of ex-SHIELD and private contractors, the team is really more of a business, which is part of what makes them great.
I always campaigned for the MCU to do something with Damage Control, and now that it appears that they're getting a television series, I couldn't be happier.
Dwayne McDuffie did a lot of great work for Marvel Comics, but Damage Control remains his biggest legacy for the company. The team has popped up numerous times since their inception, featuring guest stars like Speedball, The Hulk, and The Kingpin. Plus, Eric O'Grady, the Irredeemable Ant-Man, was a member for a time under the name Slaying Mantis. Which is, you know, great.
6. The Captain Britain Corps
Imagine the Council of Ricks from Rick and Morty, but all superheroes. That is the essential concept of the Captain Britain Corps.
Versions of English superhero Captain Britain from all realities join together to stop threats to the space time continuum on the regular. I like Captain Britain, but the Captain Britain Corps makes me LOVE Captain Britain. The idea that it's this third rate character who has a dimensional league is so great.
It's like if we found out there was an Interdimensional League of alternate D-Mans, or Stingrays. The best member is clearly Spider-UK, who is a British Captain Britain Spider-Man hybrid. Although the horrible reality is that most all members of the CBC have been horribly murdered in their time as Corpsmen.
The Captain Britain Corps has a slightly lower survivability rating than the Wreckers. So basically, serving in the Corps is just a heck of a lot of time spent going to funerals for guys named Brian.
5. D.P. 7
Not a Marvel Universe team, but still a Marvel Comics one. This was actually part of the New Universe, a group of characters set in their own world away from other superheroes. D.P.7 was the nickname given to a group of "Displaced Paranormals" who all discovered they had strange and frightening new superpowers.
They responded to an ad for a support group for powered individuals, which unfortunately turned out to be a trap organized by The Clinic. The Clinic is"¦well, a creeptastic clinic seemingly designed to experiment on Paranormals. The seven patients, newly thrown together by their circumstances, go on the run trying to escape and find a normal life for themselves.
Team members included the sweet Viva, the intelligent Antibody, and the simply wonderful Scuzz. Scuzz's arc throughout D.P.7 is enough to justify reading the entire series on its own. It's a tale of tragedy and pain worthy of any of writer Mark Gruenwald's other works. Plus Squadron Supreme artist Paul Ryan is back to really knock this one out of the park.
A great, if overlooked comic with an awesome team.
4. Omega Flight
Omega Flight is an obscure team. A REALLY obscure team. So obscure that until I looked them up to fact check this article, I didn't realize that there had been FOUR different incarnations.
So let's go through them one by one. The first Omega Flight was a team of supervillains designed to take down Alpha Flight, composed of members of the recently disassembled Beta Flight and Gamma Flight. The second was"¦also a team of supervillains designed to take down Alpha Flight.
The third team is the team I put Omega Flight on this list for. Omega Flight was intended to be the Canadian arm of the post-Civil War Fifty State Avengers Initiative. Even though, y'know, Canada ain't a United State and is not subject to US laws. The team included Beta Ray Bill, U.S. Agent, and Spider-Woman 2. I love all three of these characters a ton, and would read any team book they were a part of.
Beta Ray Bill, for godsake.
3. The Redeemers
I love the Thunderbolts. I love the Thunderbolts a near infinite amount. They are my favorite superhero team of all time. But they are just slightly too well known to put on this list, so I'll put on this little-known Thunderbolts B-side from the original series.
Please welcome The Redeemers. The essential pitch was this: what if the U.S. Government assembled its own Thunderbolts team. Think Suicide Squad if the team members actually wanted to be better people. Using the same or similar names/identities to the original team, the goal of the Redeemer project was to "redeem" those identities using the template set by the Thunderbolts.
Sadly, The Redeemers did not last long, being decimated by Graviton when he returned looking for the Thunderbolts, but hey, good team nonetheless and worthy of your attention. Even got led by Captain America for a time.
The Redeemers: They may not have originated their identities, but they sure as hell lived up to them.
Let's look over at Marvel's last huge crossover event for our next entry.
During Secret Wars, a bunch of cool alternate reality books started popping up. One of those took one central idea and ran with it: What if the Thors were a police force? And we got Thors, a miniseries that functioned like a police procedural but all the cops were Thor.
If this was any harder up my alley, it would have set up a dive bar there. The case? Someone's been murdering one woman across all dimensional zones. That woman? Jane Foster. Thors start dying and it's up to our specific Thor, the Ultimate Thor, to solve the case and bring in the bad guy. Just another day for Thor PD.
Words cannot express how much I love this book. It's four issues of perfection and if you haven't already read it, that trade paperback should be on the top of your Christmas list. It's absolutely fantastic. Even if only for Groot-Thor.
1. The Twelve
Hey look, it's the best thing J. Michael Straczynski ever wrote. By leaps and bounds, too.
The Twelve is legitimately great. The story follows twelve WWII heroes, cryogenically frozen at the height of the war and rediscovered in 2009. The series follows them as they try to re-adjust to a world that has no place for them. As such, they deal with their own outdated political and social ideologies, past mistakes, and the horrors of a changing world. Plus, when strange things start happening and murders begin to occur, they must uncover who is behind it all. And could it be one of the twelve themselves?
I'm not gonna tell ya, you gotta read it for yourself. Blue Blade's attempts to regain relevancy, Mister E struggling with his Judaism, Dynamic Man's rampant racism and homophobia, it's all fascinating to read, and that's only a quarter of the team. I highly recommend this one.
And there you have it. My picks for some of the most underrated teams in the Marvel Universe. Have your own suggestion? Leave it in the comments and maybe I'll throw it on a follow-up list. There are a lotta teams in the MU, after all. And most don't get the recognition they deserve.