Sunday, March 15, 2015

CBR The Great Lakes Avengers

The heroes you always deserved, but not the ones you'd think you needed right now.

The West Coast Avengers Great Lakes Avengers?!

Comic title: West Coast Avengers #46 (1989)
Written & penciled by John Byrne

Published by Marvel Comics 
From 1989
Lineup GLA series
Format: Collected in the trade paperback GLA: Missassembled.

Today's review is a little special.

See, I wanted to review the 2005 Great Lakes Avengers mini-series by Dan Slott.

But I thought I should begin with the original introduction of the Great Lake Avengers first! Good thing Marvel had this pricey hard-to-fin issue collected in the GLA: Misassembled trade paperback!

The Great Lakes Avengers - or GLA for short - were first introduced in issue #46 of The West Coast Avengers (vol. 2) dated from July 1989.

The characters were created by famed comic book legend John Byrne as a nice filler issue in-between current story arcs on the West Coast Avengers book.

They were such oddballs. A team composed of a crazy unique bunch of unlikely heroes. Despite their share of quirkiness, they did possess a pretty wide array of an impressive set of super powers. The team leader is called Mr. Immortal. Along the mysterious Dinah Soar, the curvy Big Bertha, the "2D Avenger" Flatman and Doorman, they are the Great Lakes Avengers!

Our story starts right in the middle of the action! A bunch of robbers are thwarted by the Avengers! But wait just a minute... these aren't your traditional Avengers! The leader is shot down in the first minute. Suddenly these weirdos start coming out from everywhere. A pink-ysh dinosaur-lady attacks the criminals. Some kind of elastic guy frees the hostages. And before the proverbial fat lady sings, pun intended, they bad guys are in custody and the news try to interview our new heroes.

Meanwhile, Clinton Barton - aka Hawkeye - catches the news on TV from his motel room.

Clint has been having some issues of his own. Currently, Hawkeye ditched the West Coast Avengers once the government put US Agent in charge of the team (who is seen having some trouble with a pretty feral Tigra eating mouses over the mansion!).

The name "Avengers" is not just open to grab by anyone. He is joined by his ex-girlfriend Mockingbird, and they decide to go to Milwaukee to check on these so-called "Great Lakes Avengers".

They put a false APB to get the GLA on the premise. They duke it out. At first Hawkeye wasn't taking these guys much seriously. But after fighting it out and learning just how great their abilities are, he finally lets them off easily. These guys have some real heart. And, hey, "with the proper management…my management…this could be a heckuva team!"

Since he noticed there was a serious lack of superhero action in the Midwest region, Mr. I decided to form this team just in case people needed some help.

Craig Hollis, Mr. Immortal, is their leader and apparently can't die. The winged Dinah Soar is the only that can calm him after a painful resurrection. Big Bertha just has the best secret identity ever, she's in reality the worldwide-famous fashion model Ashley Crawford. Flatman, also called doc, is Dr. Val Ventura, a sort of parody of Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four. And finally there's DeMarr Davis, aka Doorman, a guy that can "spawn" doors anywhere he pleases.

They operate from Big Bertha's modeling home.

The Avengers' Hawkeye and Mockingbird didn't like some wannabe heroes using the Avengers name without their permission... But after witnessing their crazy leader Mr. Immortal jumping off the building just to get them by surprise, they would act as mentors for the team.

In a strange role reversal, Hawkeye decides to impose himself on the team. After being quick to judge the others, he proclaimed himself team leader... So, just like US Agent just did, which annoyed Clint in the first place.

The Great Lakes would help the West Coast Avengers on some occasions.

Byrne was simply having so much fan on this book at the time.

There's an hilariously cheesy sequence with the faux-Captain America US Agent enjoying some home-cooked meal.

The GLA were already quite defined from their first appearance, John Byrne clearly had an exact idea how these oddball heroes were from the start.

All in all, it's a fun first appearance of a quirky team of new heroes. A really enjoyable read.

The characters would get a few sporadic appearances far and between. Their storyline would be used through the following issues #48–49 and #64, and also a later appearance in the Annual special issue #6. 

Overall, this is a really fun first appearance of the Great Lakes Avengers.

The issue itself is pretty fun and Well Worth a Read!

Since this is a really difficult older issue to get one's hands on, it has been reprinted a couple of times. Either in the GLA TPB or in the West Coast Avengers collections "Avengers West Coast Visionaries: John Byrne #1" and "Avengers West Coast (1989) - Vision Quest".

These underdog characters proved such fun, they quickly became fan favorites. Even if they stayed pretty obscure since comics were at the time considered "pretty serious business" and all turned gritty during the late 1980s.

But it wouldn't be the last we would see of these underrated heroes, they would get a few more appearances over the years, here and there. They would get a few memorable appearance in the pages of the Thunderbolts series and the first classic Deadpool series. In fact that wouldn't be the last time they would cross path with Deadpool, with whom these characters have great chemistry with.

Finally, the GLA would be resurrected in grand and due form a few decades later...In 2005, the GLA were featured in a four-issue revival mini-series titled GLA: Misassembled (written by Dan Slott), which revamped these heroes and would grant them a few more noticeable appearances since then. A few cameo appearance following their return to the Marvel Universe, including some guest starring in a couple of Cable and Deadpool issues.

I give it:
2 / 3 Howards!

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