I’ve been saying it here literally for years, the MCU is missing the boat on one of their most outrageously hilarious superhero teams: The Great Lakes Avengers! Since the Avengers are still all the rage and essentially dismantled at the moment, it’d be the perfect time for the comedic gold of Wisconsin’s very own superhero team to get a series of their own on Disney Plus. The team was created way back in 1989 by none other than comic icon writer and artist John Byrne and their introduction back then meant a lot to me at the time being a Wisconsinite myself. Essentially a band of misfit z-grade superheroes who decide to start an Avengers team of their own to rep the Midwest, only problem is their crime fighting skills aren’t exactly “Avenger’s level”. Nope the team’s got A LOT of work to do-but none of that’s gonna stop em’ from tryin’ dammit!
Even at one point Hawkeye and Mockingbird attempt to train them, which of course proves to be quite challenging in itself. The team went on to later appear alongside Deadpool and also had a great 4-issue miniseries by Dan Slott that’s a must read. They more recently tried to give them their own monthly book, but it really lost the dark comedy angle and edge of their previous appearances and was cancelled. This great cover by John Byrne shows once again how effective simplicity can be as we got our very first look at the mighty Great Lakes Avengers!~
Here’s the second installment of the all time greatest one shot comics, featuring small self contained stories that begin & end all within the span of one single issue! Today we’ve got an excellent story from 2001 in The Incredible Hulk #26 (vol. 2) written by Sean Mckeever and drawn by one of my personal favorites, the amazing Kyle Hotz. I immediately had a soft spot for this issue as it takes place in Wausau, Wisconsin (and even features ‘Eagle River’ on a highway sign, a place where my family’s had a cottage for ages) a state that we don’t normally see superhero adventures taking place. I had a feeling that Mckeever must’ve been a Wisconsin native to include such random small towns in this story and I was right as his Wiki page states he’s from Appleton (I used to live there!).
Anyway the story features The Hulk as he wanders aimlessly through the night on a lonely highway being drawn to a nearby city’s lights in the distance. The Hulk appears to be at peace in the quiet night, but hey we all know for the jade giant tranquility never lasts long. The cool thing about this particular issue is that Hulk kinda takes a back seat as the story really follows the exploits of b-lister down on his luck supervillain ‘The Killer Shrike’ and his wife Nadine who’re traveling the country aimlessly in his beat up van. I love what this one brings to the table as we’re able to see Simon Maddicks (The Killer Shrike) life as a real person. We witness the struggle of a woman who’s stuck by her mate as he’s chosen a life as a superhuman criminal constantly on the run from the law. She’s tired and ready to live a normal boring life. Shrike’s promising her soon he’ll be ready and willing to give up the life of crime and pulls into Wausau claiming that it could be the city for both of them to settle down in.
It doesn’t take long for her to realize Simon’s lying through his teeth as he eyes up a convenience store and tells her he’s got a new plan. Rather than looking for the big score like he has for years he’s gonna hit small towns hard where there’s no superhuman resistance. We get a real glimpse in to what life might really be like for a supervillain who at his core is just a regular small time crook. There haven’t been too many comics that have covered this topic so intimately and really given us a look at the starving supervillain’s daily life. It’s too bad The Killer Shrike doesn’t realize this small city’s also harboring the most powerful brute force on the planet-The Hulk. We get a compelling introspective into just what makes The Hulk tick and where his thoughts wander to when he’s in a state of peace with his surroundings. There’s a lot of great dialogue packed into this little story and Hotz’s unique artwork really brings this tale to life
The Killer Shrike suits up in his van and hit’s the convenience store with an easy small time score, or so he thinks. On his way out with the cash he nearly runs head on into you guessed it…good ol’ green jeans himself. The Shrike in sheer panic attacks The Hulk, who really just wants to be left alone. He’s doesn’t let up either as he’s convinced he can take down The Hulk himself, he keeps on striking until he levels an entire building upon the jade giant. The Killer Shrike however quickly realizes that very building also crushed his getaway van with his lover, Nadine inside. As things often go wrong when puny humans decide to pester the Hulk, this issue delivers a heartfelt punch to the gut as we witness one fateful night in the life of Simon Maddicks. I wish Marvel could capture this type of depth in their characters and villains more often as The Incredible Hulk #26 would be great issue to present to Marvel executives today as they ponder upon why their comic book sales have declined so much recently. Check this issue out next time you’re at the comic shop roaming through the back issue boxes, it’s a damn fine little slice of storytelling! P.S. here’s an old Marvel Universe profile for the Killer Shrike!
I’ve been super pumped for the new Great Lakes Avengers ongoing series for quite a while now and this weekend I picked up a stack of new comics and this was one of them. I’ve been a big fan of the team from way back when they were introduced in 1989 for a few reasons. First they were created by the legendary John Byrne, who’s been my favorite comic book artist since I was a kid, second The Great Lakes Avengers are from my home state of Wisconsin (a place where superhero stories rarely take place) and finally I love the pure oddity of these misfit, underdog, d-list characters. I always thought they could be a hit if they were given the proper chance and I STILL think Marvel could make an amazing movie/tv series with this team. So anyway was this debut issue worth the wait for a die hard fan like myself?
I’ve gotta be honest here, I was a bit underwhelmed with issue #1. One reason being perhaps that I recently decided to reread the Dan Slott GLA mini series from 2005, which I think was fantastic. Here we have in 2016 a bit of a more of a lighter playful take on the team rather than the dark comedy that Slott brought us. This new series is obviously trying reeeeaaallly hard to funny and personally I don’t think many of the jokes really land. It can be hard to make pure comedic gold in comic book form and I’ll say I think Slott & Byrne accomplished this more much more solidly. Continue reading
Ok after all of my recent Marvel Comics bashing I had to take a minute here to mention that I’m actually pretty pumped about the upcoming Great Lakes Avengers ongoing series! Since 1989 when John Byrne (one of my top comic book idols) introduced the underdog team to the Marvel Universe in West Coast Avengers #46, I’ve been a big fan. In fact I listed them as one of the obscure Marvel teams I thought would make a great movie or better yet a comedic Netflix series after the success of the D-listers The Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course I have my bias as well, growing up in Wisconsin, that’s where this team is from. If you ask me the Midwest just doesn’t get enough love in the comic books. So the fact that these guys are still representin’ means a great deal to me.
I highly suggest checking out some of their earlier appearances, the classic Byrne West Coast Avengers is a great place to start but back in 2005 Dan Slott gave us an excellent 4 issue series as well. Most notable from the series today was the inclusion of Squirrel Girl to the team in that series, who we all know now is one of Marvel’s hottest titles.
That’s a great place to start and you get a chance to see in ‘Misassembled’ the origins of the team as they take on some serious Marvel Villains who arrive in their neck of the woods to raise some hell. The team finds themselves in serious trouble as they face a real threat for the first time. It’s cool little story with some great humor.
This new series finds the original core group back together in smaller numbers this time as Squirrel Girl has left the team and original member Dinah Soar died in battle over a decade ago. The team consists of Mr. Immortal, a mutant with a superhuman healing factor and the ability to survive the most gruesome deaths, Big Bertha who’s the most popular fashion icon in Milwaukee WI & has the ability to bulk up like the Blob, Doorman a mutant who can create doorways using alternate universes to pass through solid objects and finally Flatman, the openly gay two dimensional version of Reed Richards.
In the new series the team have been anointed official Avengers and are stationed in Detroit to keep the region safe. The team on the cover of the first issue appear to be milking the fact that Squirrel Girl was part of the team and are seen carrying around a cardboard cutout of her. I’m hoping that they can convince Squirrel Girl to join the ranks again, it’d be a selling point for the book but more so she was a perfect addition to the team.
It’s clear we’ll be getting quite a humorous depiction of the team once again and I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief they get into. The new series comes out this fall by Matt Gorman & Will Robson.
The Badger has definitely returned to form in the latest second issue from Devil’s Due / 1First Comics! It’s always nice to read a solid debut these days but it means a lot when the second issue in many cases is better than the first and this is the case in the latest reboot of the legendary Badger series from creator Mike Baron. You can read my review of issue #1 right here.
Anyway the second issue brings back a more familiar feel to the cult 80’s indie icon. We’re really seeing more of a modern retelling of the origin story of Norbert Sykes, which is thus far packed with the perfect amount of that familiar Baron style of quirky comedy and a degree of realism that make this comic thus far one of my favorite recent monthly titles. I actually think the current writers of Deadpool could learn a thing or two from Baron’s tasty recipe on this title.
So what do we get this issue? Well Norbert and his buddy Ham are mysteriously released from the mental ward, partly due to Ham’s “magical” abilities as an ancient druid. Ham also purchases an old castle on the outskirts of Madison Wisconsin where the two of them plan to live. Ham however reveals he’s got a a serious problem with a powerful wizard rival none other than Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Or could Ham just be batshit cray?!
Well things get worse when a Russian enforcer breaks into the castle ready to kill, good thing Norbert Sykes has got multiple personalities, one of which is the Kung Fu ass kicker The Badger! Lastly we get a glimpse of Putin himself as he and his crew of scientists are thawing out a prehistoric mammoth in a glacier. Yeah it’s crazy shit and also a ton of fun.
I’m really happy this character is being given a chance in 2016, so far the series has great potential, I’m not a huge fan of the artwork in issue two, I personally think Badger deserves better. It looked a bit rushed, I wish they could land someone like Paul Pope or old schooler Mike Zeck as a regular on the series. Aside from that I totally dig it as a whole and will definitely be back for issue #2. Ask your local shop to carry Badger as I don’t think this series is getting enough attention!
So I was wondering which superheroes were from my hometown state: Wisconsin. Believe me it’s not all farms, cheese and beer there. There is CRIME there and they do need superheroes too! There were a few i knew of and then a couple more that i discovered today. Here’s what i gathered from just a a couple minutes online and looking at my official Handbooks of the Marvel Universe. This will be part one because i know there just HAS to be more heroes and villains from America’s Dairyland. Also if anyone else has some of their own Hometown Superheroes please post them here! Anyway check these bad ass, spandex wearin’, beer drinkin’, Green Bay Packer lovin’, “Cheese Heads” out:
I have always LOVED the Badger!! He’s from Madison Wisconsin, completey mentally derranged, loves to drink beer, calls everyone “Larry” no matter what their real name is, has martial arts skills that’d make Bruce Lee envious and lives in a castle with his Wizard buddy named “Ham”. This guys is one of Wisconsin’s finest go hunt down his books now! Continue reading