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Comic Theme Time Month – Best Ragtag Bunch of Misfits

All December long, I will be doing daily installments of Comic Theme Time. Comic Theme Time is a twist on the idea of a “Top Five” list. Instead of me stating a topic and then listing my top five choices in that topic, I’m giving you the topic and letting you go wild with examples that you think fit the theme.

Today’s topic is “what was the best ragtag bunch of misfits in comics?”

Ragtag groups are a popular device used for the formation of groups. To be a ragtag group, it has to be a disparate group of characters with no real formal relation to each other and no formal structure in the formation of their group. Some groups that don’t count, then, would be the Doom Patrol, as while they were certainly misfits, they were brought together in a quite calculated fashion by Niles Caulder (the same could be said for Professor X and his X-Men). Now when Jean Grey had to put together a team of X-Men during Eve of Destruction, THAT was a ragtag bunch of misfits.

What’s your pick?

34 Comments

The original Avengers were pretty ragtag. They all found themselves looking for the Hulk at the same time and decided to stick together.

The Champions…Hercules, Black Widow, Iceman, Angel and Ghost Rider…I mean come on this is a ragtag group that come from different areas and different teams and have different ideals, but they worked together very well!

This might not quite qualify, but the unifying of Spider-Man, Human Torch, Iceman, and Shadowcat into a teenage super-hero pseudo-team during the last part of Bendis’s USM run was, I thought, fantastic. It was the first time I really thought Bendis went totally into his own thing instead of just writing reworked versions of classic Spider-Man stories. Having Aunt May be the matriarch of the Ultimate Teen Titans was a really inspired and fun idea, and I wish it lasted for longer than it did. The characters played off each other so well and so naturally, and the mix of 2 infamous mutants, 1 famous super-hero, 1 super-hero with a secret identity to keep, and 2 non-powered humans trying to keep everyone sane (Gwen and MJ) was perfect. I don’t know if Bendis chose to abandon this status quo for the Death storyline, or if that was more of an editorial decision, but either way, I felt like the potential of the “Aunt May home for wayward heroes” era hadn’t even been close to fully realized.

I’m not sure how you’d measure a team’s randomness. But haven’t several teams consisted of seemingly random heroes thrown together? At Marvel, the Exiles. The original Champions. Classic iterations of X-Factor and the Defenders. The Great Lakes Avengers. Fallen Angels.

And at DC, the Suicide Squad. The Secret Six. The New Guardians. The Omega Men. Primal Force. The Power Company.

You also could argue for groups like the Thunderbolts and the Outsiders. Even if Zemo and Batman created them, you could say they intentionally chose a ragtag bunch of characters. There’s little difference between these “selected” teams and randomly assembled teams.

Outsiders I would say definitely counts, but the original Thunderbolts were made up almost entirely of characters that were already teammates in the Masters of Evil.

I don’t know about the original Defenders, but in their mini-series a couple of years ago Giffen and DeMatteis (alongside Kevin Maguire on art, of course) had a comical take on the original line-up of Strange, Namor, Hulk and Silver Surfer, showing them as a bunch of arrogant a-holes who can’t get along and hate every nano-second of spending time with each other. Yet, they still join forces and engage in a snarky banter.

I count Christos Gage’s Union Jack mini-series, where he joins forces with other agents from other nationalities to save London, but what makes the team unlikely is the presence of Israeli Mossad super-agent Sabra and the Arabian Knight, who obviously fought over political issues before putting their differences aside and working together as fellow warriors.

Every Thunderbolts line-up since “Civil War.”

The team Dwayne McDuffie created in Beyond!: Hank Pym, Wasp, Venom, Firebird, Kraven, Gravity, The Hood, Medusa and Spider-Man.

The pre-Generation X group of Banshee, Emma Frost, Jubilee and Sabretooth, united to save the X-Men in “Phalanx Covenant.”

Suicide Squadron, despite being created by the US Army, mostly consisted of problematic soldiers.

Secret Six. Legion of Substitute heroes. Legion of Super Villains. Young All-Stars.

I would say classic X-Factor isn’t ragtag, all the original X-Men together. One of my favorite ones would have to be the lineup of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Captain America.

The Runaways are my hands down favourite.

Not necessarily best, but among the weirdest: wasn’t there a miniseries starring Franklin Richards, Man-Thing and Howard the Duck (and a few others) at one point? Can’t remember the title tough.

I’d agree with you Dave, but I think under the rules, they wouldn’t count: They had a clear relation, at least at the start, children of the same supervillain group, and childhood friends. Though they’ve added a few ragtag members since, I don’t think it qualifies as a ragtag group since the core is still made of many of those same characters.

I think the Obsidian Age Justice League lineup should count. While they were organized by guiding hand (Batman), he wasn’t around to shepherd them, and the only thing that brought them together was a recording saying “It’s your turn”.

Or the Spider-Man, Wolverine, Grey Hulk, and Ghost Rider FF. The only thing that brought them together was variant covers.

By that token the “Misfits” cast themselves wouldn’t be classed as misfits because they’re all on the same community service scheme.

So far this all seems to be lists from the Big Two. There were lots of independents who had rag-tag teams.

One favorite example of mine is the Southern Knights (originally The Crusaders until Marvel objected). You had an inventor who gave himself electrical powers, a gal who just happened to be super strong and tough, a master swordswoman, a magician, and a guy who was really an ancient dragon who learned to shapeshift.

Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Knights

Then there was E-Man, Nova Kane and Michale (“Don’t call me Mickey!”) Mauser.

I love alternate comics and have a large collection of books like this. :-)

Oops; Archie Comics. Knew that was wrong when I typed it, but was busy with three other things this morning.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Defenders, especially the four who were together through Gerber’s run (Dr. Strange, Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hulk). They had nothing in common except each other.

SECRET SIX.
DUH.

The Defenders. Obviously.

New (Uncanny) X-men? I have just read Giant Sized X-men #1 – Uncanny X-Men #150 and they’ve barely solidified into the X-team I grew-up with. (#158 being my first issue) Wolverine’s healing factor isn’t even his primary mutant ability yet. They defined the being of a Rag-Tag outfit, hence the qualifier of Uncanny…

Secret Six. Definitely Secret Six.

The Wolverine/Spiderman/Ghost Rider/Hulk FF team was the first one I thought of that fits the definition given. Obviously the New Avengers(Captain America, Spiderman, Spider woman, Wolverine, Sentry, Cage and Iron man) also fit, although it would have been even better if Daredevil had joined up.

Marvel’s Fallen Angels; Marvel UK Transformers’ Survivors.

What about the Inferior Five, whose unifying factor was that they were all useless? Or if they don’t count because they’re a joke, what about Section Eight, who were all both useless and insane, and were also a joke, but are part of mainstream DC continuity – didn’t they at one point team up with Catwoman?

Also, the Doom Patrol went through a phase of recruiting anybody who was both superpowered and at the very least seriously troubled, if not downright crazy, some of whom posed a greater danger to their team-mates than they ever did to the baddies. Plus their boss was secretly evil all along. Mind you, when your worst enemy is a brain in a jar whose ultimate ambition is to have a gay relationship with a gun-toting French gorilla, I suppose you need to think outside the box.

By the way, the very first incarnation of the JSA was brought together by mistake by Johnny Thunder, who was an idiot, and might have included the original Red tornado, who was just a very butch housewife with a saucepan on her head, if she hadn’t split her pants during the audition. Since the main requirement for membership was that you didn’t have your own comic (unless you were Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, because they were in everything), they ended up with some incredibly lame and obscure characters, such as the original Atom, whose superpower was being surprisingly good at boxing for a very short guy (who, incidentally, is unique among superheroes in being less impressive than the real guy he was based on, a very short Jewish circus performer called the Mighty Atom, who once won a fist-fight with 30 Nazis – is there any chance of him getting his own steampunk badass midget comic?), Doctor Midnite, who had smoke-bombs and night-vision goggles before they were invented by anybody else except Batman, so basically he had two items from Batman’s infinite arsenal and nothing else, Wildcat (no comment), and various other one-gimmick no-hopers, who had to pretend to be useful on the same team as Superman, who is basically God, and the Specter, who is literally God (sort of). Also, since the rules stated that you had to leave if you got your own comic, the members presumably knew that they were fictional characters, and B-list fictional characters at that!

And of course that later incarnation of the JLA which lasted less than one issue, and included Ambush Bug, the female version of Bulleteer, and a new incarnation of the ludicrous Super-Chief, who managed to debut and die in the same comic.

Hey, and what about the Legion of Super-Pets? A dog, a cat, a horse, and a monkey. Thrown together or what? And not forgetting the Great Lakes Avengers – we’ve got to have something with Squirrel Girl in it! Actually there are quite a lot, aren’t there? And of course the Mystery Men. And did anybody else see a movie called “The Specials”?

Peter, Runaways fit my definition of ragtag because they had nothing in common, they didn’t even like each other, until the moment their goal was forced upon them, but I see where you’re coming from.

Regardless of context, can we agree Runaways need more attention?

I’m going to say The Champions, just because it was such a weird lineup. The group in The War That Time Forgot was pretty great in that respect, though.

I miss the Secret Six!!!!!!

I had to look up the title of the one Sijo mentioned, because it was buggin’ me: Daydreamers. (from ’97)

Plus, I’m likin’ the love for Southern Knights and Liberty Project.

Uh, does the A-Team count? Oh, wait…

The Great Lakes Avengers, of course!

Yes, Dave, we can definitely agree on that much! In fact, the main reason I was nitpicky about whether they qualified was to give me an excuse to talk about them! =)

I liked the Avengers team that came together at the end of the Evolutionary War. The main team was disbanded, so the computer called in a few reserves. Grey Hulk, Hercules, Beast, and Female Yellowjacket (who only came because she’d stolen the costume from Pym, and couldn’t figure out how to switch off the alarm! Genius!). There may be a member or two I’m forgetting.

Another good one was in the What If issue covering Atlantis Attacks, where the team was whoever hadn’t been turned into a Snake. Grey Hulk, Thor, Wolverine, Sabretooth, Cloak, Phoenix, Aquarian, Thor and Doctor Doom. Perhaps the best thing was that despite being way overpowered for an ongoing team, they actually LOST! Doctor Doom’s death scene was a fantastic moment for the character, I feel.

Goin’ Bronze Age, how ’bout the Losers? All the DC War comics characters who couldn’t quite</i? support their own title.

Or the Golden Age Seven Soldiers of Victory?

The Six definately.

PAD’s X-factor run would seem to count. Since at one point you had one maybe mutant (Jamie) one ex-Mutant (Rictor) two aliens (Pip and Shattershot) and a trio of mutants (Strong Guy, Syrn and Monet) Oh and whatever the frak Layla is.

Foot Soldiers

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