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Month of Avengers/X-Men Top Fives – Top Five Avengers Villains Affected by the “Team” Effect

All month-long we’ll be featuring top five lists about either the Avengers or the X-Men. Here is an archive of all the past top five lists!

In this installment, we take a look at the top five Avengers villains affected by the “team effect.” The “team effect” is how characters always end up getting de-powered (although not literally being de-powered) when they join a team.

Enjoy!

5. Grey Gargoyle

Garygoyle is a weird one because he DEBUTED as a solo villain, fighting Thor. Then he took on the entire Avengers team but since then, he’s strictly been a member of a team or a solo villain.

4. Swordsman

Another tricky one since Swordsman ultimately reformed and joined the Avengers. But first he took on the Avengers by himself but then joined the Lethal Legion and I don’t think anyone would ever consider him taking on the Avengers by himself again, ya know?

3. Grim Reaper

The Reaper took on the Avengers a number of times by himself but eventually he was relegated to just member of a team status.

2. Power Man

Can you believe that there was a time when Power Man (later Goliath) took on the entire Avengers? Granted, they were just four Avengers at the time and their power set wasn’t exactly stellar, but still, the idea that THIS guy was at one point a solo threat is pretty hilarious.

1. Living Laser

The Living Laser is perhaps the most notable example of this effect. When he showed up, he was totally capable of hanging with the entire Avengers team. Since then, he has become strictly a member of a team or a solo villain, even though his power set still makes him at least theoretically capable of taking them on as a team.

24 Comments

I am confused by the repetition of the phrase “since then, he has been either a solo villain or a team villain”. Well, in most instances, aren’t villains acting alone or as part of a time. It”s like you been saying, since fighting the Avengers, Joe X has been either in jail or out of jail.

Totally not where I thought this one was gonna go from the title, especially when I saw The Grey Gargoyle, with issue #191 at the top.

Since in #190, he pretty much trashes the team, then in #191, there is a great battle where the Avengers actually use all their teamwork, passing him from member to member, I thought this was going to be great examples of the Avengers working as a true combat team to take down a villain (which is, I think, Steve Rogers’ dream in life).

I am confused by the repetition of the phrase “since then, he has been either a solo villain or a team villain”. Well, in most instances, aren’t villains acting alone or as part of a time. It”s like you been saying, since fighting the Avengers, Joe X has been either in jail or out of jail.

Solo villain means he fights heroes one-on-one. Using Grey Gargoyle as an example, in Avengers #190-191, he took on the entire Avengers team, but since then, he only takes on individual heroes. In essence, once he became a member of a team, then it became unrealistic from a storytelling standpoint for him to ever then take on a full team by himself again.

Why is it so much weirder and more laughable for Power Man to have started off expected to be taken seriously as a team threat, but not Swordsman, who has no powers if I remember correctly? The latter seems like more of a stretch to me, even against a low-powered team like kooky quarter.

Why is it so much weirder and more laughable for Power Man to have started off expected to be taken seriously as a team threat, but not Swordsman, who has no powers if I remember correctly?

Their difference in ranking comes from Power Man fighting them so many more times. Plus, when the alternate universe Swordsman showed up, he ALSO took on the Avengers by himself (with some help from Magdalene), which “hurt” Swordsman’s rank.

At least when Power Man became Goliath he went back to being solo for a while.

I don’t mean the reason for the difference in ranking, which I totally get. I mean the difference in language for the entry.

With Swordsman it’s just reported casually and matter of factly, like, “hey this guy used to be a major threat, but never again.” While with Power Man it’s all like, “wow, can you believe it? THIS guy of all people?” There just seemed to be a lot more shock and disbelief with the Power Man description, and I was just curious about the rationale.

(I’ve read the Swordsman story but none of the Power Man ones.)

Power Man is goofier than Sworsdman. Swordsman is pretty cool. He even got to join the Avengers!

I had no idea Grey Gargoyle was such a threat for a while. I’ve only seen him as a solo-hero villain or as part of a team. Under which writer/s was that?

Oh okay, I see your logic now. Never read the Power Man issues so I didn’t know how goofy he was.

I had no idea Grey Gargoyle was such a threat for a while. I’ve only seen him as a solo-hero villain or as part of a team. Under which writer/s was that?

He fought the Avengers during Michelinie’s run on the book, but I believe it was a two-part fill-in by Steven Grant and not actually Michelinie when they fought the Gargoyle. Really sweet John Byrne art.

I could re-read those Byrne Avengers issues forever. Steven Grant’s two-part Grey Gargoyle story is awesome.

My highest recommendation for these classics.

The Grim Reaper became even deadlier after he was killed and resurrected as a supernatural being.

In his first appearance, Power Man was teamed with the Enchantress and, considering that the Avengers at that time was the Kooky Quartet, that’s not such a bad mismatch at all.

He wasn’t really teamed with her. She gave him his powers, but it’s not like she attacked the Avengers WITH him. He was all on his own.

Hey, where’s Absorbing Man?

When I saw Grey Gargoyle, who’s a great example (in a fight from one of my earliest issues of Avengers, no less!) I thought for sure we’d see Absorbing Man here. He also fought the Avengers in a two-issue battle during that very same run (Michelenie/Byrne) only to face them again with both the Secret Wars gang and then as one of Zemo’s Masters of Evil where he was taken out by Ant-Man and Wasp. Quite a downgrade from his initial threat-level in those early Avengers.

I think the best source for villains that couldn’t follow their initial hype is in early Thor stories: Absorbing Man, Grey Gargoyle, Radioactive Man all became lesser threats as Masters of Evil, while Mr. Hyde and Cobra got demoted to Daredevil villains!

Iron Man and Hulk have quite a few examples of downgraded villains as well (who can forget that classic Hulk foe, Boomerang?).

Hey, where’s Absorbing Man?

Absorbing Man still routinely takes on teams by himself, so he’s managed to avoid the affects of the team effect. He’s just someone who seems to rise and fall with his competition. He’s lost to Daredevil but he’s also taken on the combined forces of the Mighty Avengers and the Dark Avengers a couple of years ago.

In Avengers #21 and #22, Power Man doesn’t take on the whole team until the very end – when he loses.

It’s all a plot to make the Avengers look bad, and Power Man only fights them one or two at a time, and the Enchantress is in nearly every battle, behind the scenes, casting illusion spells to trick the Avengers into doing a lot of damage in public.

IMHO, I don’t think anybody was de-powered in this one to make Power Man a credible threat. (Maybe the Scarlet Witch a little. But nobody really knew what her powers were then anyway.)

(Sorry to be so contrarian, but this is my favorite era of the Avengers and I just read this one a few weeks or so ago.)

TV Tropes calls this phenomenon the ninja effect: where a single ninja is a huge threat to the hero/heroes, but the more ninjas that show up, the easier they are individually defeated.

Power Man is Atlas, right?

Yeah, I might be misremembering, but when he was introduced didn’t Power Man have the powers of Wonder Man AND Giant Man? Sounds pretty impressive to me. It’s more perplexing that he does so badly in future issues, really.

No, the Power Man powers are basically the wonder man powers.

They fade over time and he eventually obtains the Golliath powers in Iron Man Annual 7

Brian:”Power Man is goofier than Sworsdman. Swordsman is pretty cool. He even got to join the Avengers!”

What’s odd about Power Man is that a lot of his “team effect” power loss happened during his partnership with the Swordsman. Power Man went from being able to take on “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” to being trounced by Cap (fighting alone) as the Swordsman’s partner.

Yeah, the Living Laser always bugged me in particular. As you said, due to his powers, he should still be a MAJOR threat. Especially once he lost his human body later on.

I guess a big part of it is just story necessity. If a hero has an interesting, adaptable power (say, Metamorpho, the Element Man), the writer will find lots of cool, clever ways for them to use it to take down bad guys. If a villain does, the writer will find ways to take THEM down.

Didn’t Wonder Man take on the Avengers? Power Man who later basically became another ionic guy was supposed to be in his class. He may be lame because he kept losing his name but he wasn’t THAT bad.

For guys who should have made the list, how about Taskmaster? He took on the whole Avengers, and his only super power is he can copy other characters non-super abilities.

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