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Post By
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To
Nitz the Bloody

Subj: Re: Heroes who look like idiots on Super-Teams?
Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 11:39:09 pm EDT (Viewed 221 times)
Reply Subj: Heroes who look like idiots on Super-Teams?
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:16:04 pm EDT (Viewed 419 times)

Previous Post

When reading a recent issue of New Avengers, with Spider-Man whining about the Quinjet Carol Danvers confiscated from Norman Osborn because Stealing Is Wrong, and Clint Barton sternly reminding him of the stakes, it further cemented the status of Peter Parker as a naive, idiotic man-child in the presence of other heroes. This has been shown pretty much every time Peter has appeared in New Avengers, even before Mephisto retroactively put him back in emotional puberty; he can't offer the skills and intellect that the other Avengers have. On his own, Spider-Man's effective if relatively unrefined in his crimefighting, but he's just an amateur by contrast with the pros in the Avengers. So his effectiveness is limited and all he offers is lame witty banter.

This made me also remember the difference between the Beast in the X-Men and the Beast in the Avengers. In the X-Men, Beast is not only one of the originals with more experience than most X-Characters, but the #1 science guy, a talented melee fighter, and a source of moral support. In the Avengers, they have access to many more science guys ( Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Reed Richards by telecommunication, T'Challa, etc. ), so he just cracks lame jokes and buddies up with Wonder Man in the most homo-erotic way possible. Similar effect; he can't compete in skill, so he plays the nice guy/class clown.

And, of course, there are cases like Cannonball's first X-Men tenure and Justice's attempt to join the Avengers, where they're so captivated and starry-eyed to be part of the big leagues that they become self-conscious and screw up constantly. Can anyone think of other cases where a hero who's effective on their own or on a lesser team is portrayed, intentionally or not, as an idiot when in the big leagues?

-- It's funny you should mention T'Challa, who suffered for decades thanks to being placed in the Avengers, where the scientific aptitude and casual ruthlessness of his first appearance were almost instantly replaced by "nobility" to the point of stupidity and quite possibly the least impressive performance for an alleged badass normal around. This is probably why he seems to be kept within solo titles anymore after Priest rescued the character's competence.

-- Doctor Strange; he suffers from the unfortunate perception that he needs watering down to work on a team, when surely the solution is either to impose some of the original internal logic of his abilities...or just to keep him off of regular superteams.

-- The Black Widow is a brilliant, dangerous spy who debuted matching wits with Iron Man, tested her heroing gear by taking on Spider-Man (who, in fairness, had a bad cold that day), met Daredevil by evading even his hypersenses and then saving his life from the Owl, and generally acts as the go-to person when Nick Fury has an especially tough job. As leader of the Avengers and the Champions, however, she apparently suffered either the world's worst case of "fish out of water" syndrome or curiously context-specific brain damage, failing even in situations seemingly tailored to her individual talents.

-- Iceman, though generally on a team, seems to do better when it's him alone than any other time. In a sol spotlight early in the X-Men's run -- Uncanny #18, in fact -- he singly held off Magneto for nearly an entire issue. In his own miniseries, he actually thwarted Oblivion, a fundamental force of the universe. And as an X-Man...he's the mound of wasted potential and whining ineffectuality we think of when we think "Iceman."

-- Havok was introduced as a mutant so powerful Neal Adams designed his costume to portray a man who had devastating energy building up in him constantly with an "angry young man" personality and a tendency to wreck the joint. Once he became a regular character, he turned into a wishy-washy mess who spent most of his time bein coldcocked or brainwashed into villainy.

-- Magneto. See "Strange" above; whether a villain or a hero, his power level and/or rationality seem to drop immensely when he's got people with powers working with him.

-- Longshot is an "Informed Attribute" example of this: as an X-Man, he's the naive goodhearted fellow who sometimes provides the critical bit of luck thanks to his powers. Put him on his own and off-camera, and he's an inspiring figure who inspires massive and sometimes successful rebellions, rebellions which seem to fail only when Longshot gets exiled.

-- Iron Man, in terms of physical power, sometimes does get this. Not so often as his more vocal fans would claim, but in a number of instances. Particular nadirs include a WCA appearance that has him nearly losing to Shockwave, a guy who spends his time being beaten up by Shang-Chi, and often being the first Avenger outwitted or physically punked by the likes of Mystique, Eros, Ultron, the original Legion of the Unliving, and doubtless many others I can't recall off the top of my head. (He also seems to lose much of the moral compass he displays as a solo hero when placed in a group setting, though this may be justified by his general characterization as a self-acknowledged control freak.)

-- Non-Marvel example: Superman and Wonder Woman in most post-1985 incarnations of the Justice League, generally the result of writers wanting to justify Batman's presence on the team; to show off the more outre superpower applications of the Flash. GL, and Aquaman; and to endlessly distance the Martian Manhunter from his origins as a Superman knockoff.

-- Non-Marvel example: Nightwing and Kid Flash in the 1980s Teen Titans, with Wally going through a prolonged power loss storyline and a crisis in wanting to be a superhero, and Dick Grayson beign given mountains of angst that he never seems to display outside the book. See also, Nightwng in Judd Winick's Outsiders stories.

There's also the inverse example, characters who somehow acquire hypercompetence in team settings but are hopeless or ineffectual on their own. You've made the Wasp the poster child for this effect, but there are others.

-- The Man-Child Called Nova: in his own series, both in the 1970s and after, he's an often incompetent boob who rarely even beats his own villains -- seriously, most of them either defeated each other or self-destructed with zero interference from him, especially in his original series -- and as a person. In the New Warriors, he gets to be one of the team's flying bricks and can do things like outwit his archfoe the Sphinx...which he never managed to do in his own book.

-- Jim Rhodes. In Iron Man, he was the less-effective replacement for Tony Stark, drifting through paid missions and relying his fists despite wearing an incredibly versatile technological wonder. Put him among the West Coast Avengers and he can single-handedly save the team from Josten-as-Goliath, match team-killer Graviton blow-for-blow for a little while, and beat anyone and their brother down in his War Machine rig.

-- Luke Cage, who has gone from having a recurring archenemy whose power was "having a mace for a hand and being middle-aged" to helming the Avengers and beating down the Wrecker with his own crowbar. This arguably started in the 1990s Heroes for Hire book, where Cage got some sizable power boosts.

-- Non-Marvel example: Batman is meant to be ridiculously hypercomepetent, but in his own book he has absurd amounts of trouble with villains like Black Mask and Maxie Zeus, while in JLA he takes out White Martians and Injustice Gangers, and even fellow Leaguers with consummate ease. Surely the man who can forge a plan to take out Green Lantern can outwit and outprep Roman Sionis, whose talents include being ugly, owning a gun, and running cosmetics companies into the ground. Any Green Arrow-related character seems to get this effect as well.

-- Mockingbird was an undistinguished SHIELD agent who played the role of "damsel in distress" in the 1970s Ka-Zar stories and then went undercover to root out SHIELD corruption, culminating in her accidentally being shot up while masterfully exposing a corrupt agent whose hobbies included dressing in HYDRA outfits and wielding Baron Strucker's Satan Claw. In the early days of the West Coast Avengers, though, she was capable of taking on all manner of major villains and deducing or concealing things that flew right by the likes of Iron Man, her hubby Hawkeye, and experienced detective Moon Knight.





- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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