In the vast history and multiverse laden in the pages of DC Comics, there is a whole myriad of heroes and teams to take on any range of evildoing occurring in the universe. While the Justice League of America are taking on threats that seem to jeopardize the entire universe, teams like Easy Command is perpetually keeping American shores safe from the Axis during World War II. Just about every team has some sort of niche or gimmick that makes them unique in the grand confines of the company, and every team on this list can stand to be featured more.
For clarifications sake, this list does not comprise of the most forgotten teams in DC Comics history, nor does it rank them on which team is the best of these 15 specific teams. In the current publication realm of DC Comics, these are the 15 teams that could stand to be utilized a lot more frequently to diversify the publication of DC Comic books.
15. SUPERMAN SQUAD
Emerging from the pages of “All Star Superman” #6 by Grant Morrison, the Superman Squad is a team of Multiversal, trans-time Supermen that take on the greatest obstacles of all of time and space. When crises arise that threaten reality itself, the Superman Squad emerges to take them all on. Based on the Superman Dynasty that Morrison had mentioned in “DC One Million,” these Supermen from across the multiverse and timestream are lead and organized by Superman Prime.
This is a very niche and specific team. The very concept is quintessential Grant Morrison in that its unique, large in scope and very original. The team shouldn’t be utilized frequently or in a monthly, but to add weight to a particular event, having the Superman Squad appear could certainly add to the stakes. They should be used sparingly, but could stand to be utilized more than in just a couple of Morrison titles.
14. BLACKHAWK SQUADRON
The Blackhawk Squadron are traditionally a team of World War II-era pilots who are typically comprised of allied countries or countries being occupied by the Axis from the Second World War. Created in 1941 by Chuck Cuidera with input from Bob Powell and Will Eisner, the Blackhawks first debuted in “Military Comics #1” (August 1941) Though the team has had different incarnations and members, they’ve generally consisted of seven core members. At the height of their popularity, they routinely outsold every other comic book except for Superman, and spawned a serial and a radio series.
While the Blackhawks are perhaps the most antiquated team on this list, there are still a lot of possibilities for stories to be told about this team in a modern setting. While it’s true that DC attempted a rebooted version at the launch of the new 52, it failed to gain much traction. The Blackhawks are unique in that they don’t have any particularly special powers; they are just ace pilots of different national and ethnic backgrounds trying to make the world a safer place. The team can represent globalism, diversity and humanity in a playground of super-powered gods.
13. SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY
Following the wake of popularity that was the Justice Society of America, Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin created the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a real C-list team of characters in “Leading Comics” #1 (1941). The team was comprised of seven anthology characters in The Vigilante, from “Action Comics,” the Crimson Avenger from “Detective Comics,” the Green Arrow and Speedy from “More Fun Comics,” the Shining Knight from “Adventure Comics” and the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey from “Star-Spangled Comics.” The original version of the team was as quintessential Golden Age of Comics as a title could get, and faded into obscurity in the 1940’s.
The Seven Soldiers of Victory are a fairly good example of what you can do with a team that is seemingly antiquated by modern standards. Grant Morrison famously revived the team in their eponymous meta-series that ran from 2005-2006. While this incarnation did not quite resemble the original incarnation, it illustrates that the right creative team can do wonders for a book. Obviously, no one else is Grant Morrison but Grant Morrison, but what he did with the series illustrates why these particular set of characters could stand a revival.
12. CREATURE COMMANDOS
The Creature Commandos were created in 1980 by J.M DeMatteis and Pat Broderick, and debuted in “Weird War Tales” #93. The Creature Commandos were a platoon of monsters that fought the good fight in World War II. Len Wein, editor for DC at the time along with DeMatteis thought the idea was so silly that it might work. The Commandos have been revived a few times, but not for extensive appearances.
The Commandos are perhaps the most unique team on this list, conceptually. They aren’t superheroes, really, and they sort of represent a niche market in a lot of modern comics in that they are horror characters. Having an active group of monsters in today’s publishing line would add a little more story diversity in an industry saturated by superheroes. The Creature Commandos haven’t really been utilized much the last 20 years, and could stand to have another proper revival.
11. ROCKET RED BRIGADE
The Rocket Red Brigade were created by Kilowag in “Green Lantern Corps” #208 in 1987, and more specifically by Steve Englehart and Joe Stanton. The most prominent member was Vladimir Mikoyan who was featured in the pages of “Justice League International.” The Rocket Red Brigade were created to defend the Soviet Union in the thralls of the Cold War. Since the Soviet Union collapsed, the team has not been utilized very often.
In today’s geopolitical climate, a revived Rocket Red Brigade could be very interesting in modern comics. Russia and Vladimir Putin are constantly in the news and having a modern version of the Rocket Red Brigade could create very dynamic stories. In a hypothetical scenario where the JLI were revived as well, having a modern Russian member of the Rocket Red Brigade on the JLI could be interesting, and in general, exploring geopolitical politics with the Rocket Red Brigade would be an interesting take.
10. CHALLENGERS OF THE UKNOWN
The Challengers of the Unknown debuted in “Showcase” #6 in 1957 and were created by Jack Kirby (with some dispute over whether or not Joe Simon and Dave Wood contributed in their creation). The Challengers in their original incarnation sort of represented the 1950’s Pulp style of science fiction; they were a quartet of explorers and adventurers that explored the realms of what science fiction and the paranormal could offer.
On the surface, the Challengers of the Unknown seem like nothing more than the precursors to the Fantastic 4. (Speaking of under-utilized teams…) However, there’s a lot that can be done here. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale revived the team in 1991 as middle-aged men who were “bringing the band back together” so to speak. There is a lot of potential for stories to be told, and based off the type of team they are, there is a lot that could be explored in the modern DC Multiverse.
9. METAL MEN
One of the quintessential teams from the Silver Age, the Metal Men came from the pages of “Showcase” #37 in 1962 and were created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru. The Metal Men consist of a team of artificially intelligent robots who were built by Dr. Will Magnus. The robots can do a myriad of things such as stretch, spin into filaments, and increase their strength and their durability, depending on the namesake of each robot. In some incarnations, they can combine as well.
The Metal Men have a pretty substantial cult following, as they sort of embody the camp aspect of the comic books. They’re very unique in the scope of comics history, and would definitely benefit from some sort of re-imagining. With how creative of a concept the Metal Men are, combined with their loyal following, the Metal Men would serve the current landscape of comics well if they were just utilized more.
8. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
The Justice League International were a collaborative creation between Keith Giffen and J.M Dematteis with art done by Kevin Maguire in 1987. This was the first incarnation of the Justice League to emerge from “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and is one of the seminal works in the history of DC comics. Extremely popular and very unique in its toe for its time, the team has been attempted to be utilized in several different ways over the years.
The JLI are important in several ways, and obviously have not had the presence that they should in recent years. The Justice League International provides an opportunity to properly spotlight lesser-known characters like Fire and Ice, diversify its cast with characters of differing backgrounds, and provide a tonally light book. Besides, the original JLI in a lot of ways feels like a 1980s time capsule, so a proper revival could feel like a 2010s time capsule.
7. THE OUTSIDERS
The Outsiders were created in “The Brave and the Bold” #200 in 1983 by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo. After Batman quit the Justice League, he formed the Outsiders with a collective of new characters and Justice League rejects. The net goal of the Outsiders is to solve the problems that are seen as too small for the collective Justice League to solve. In a later incarnation, where Nightwing leads the team, the team consists of Outsiders alumni and Titans/Young Justice graduates.
At this point, the Outsiders are a staple in DC Comic history and in Bat-family history. Characters like Geo-Force and Katana are well known to comics fans, and using Titans/Young Justice graduates seems like a good venue for legacy characters that are too old for the Titans and don’t perhaps fit in a League dynamic. Having the Outsiders attack gritty street-level stuff today would serve well in today’s DC landscape as well.
6. THE MARVEL FAMILY
The Marvel Family emerged from Fawcett Comics in 1942 and were created by Otto Binder, Ed Herron, C.C Beck, Mac Raboy and Marc Swayze. Comic books’ first family, far proceeding the Bat-family or the Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel/Shazam became the first superhero to have a team of sidekicks who share his powers and general appearance. The Marvel Family was immensely popular before Fawcett lost its lawsuit against DC.
The Marvel Family has a large cult following in comic book fans circles. Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel are very popular characters who seldom get a chance to shine. Having a book that circles around the classical whimsy of Shazam comics would fit the current landscape well. The magic and novelty of Shazam as a character has not worn off, and this team of superheroes could really stand a proper revival. While Geoff Johns and Gary Frank revived the team in the New 52, they haven’t made an appearance since their origin story and would really benefit to more usage now.
The WildC.A.T.S were created in 1992 by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi in the Wildstorm Universe published by Image. Since the acquisition of Wildstorm by DC, the imprint hasn’t been utilized terribly frequently. There was a Wildstorm line in the mid 2000’s, and some characters were used intermittently at the launch of the New 52 such as Grifter or Stormwatch, but the WildC.A.T.S themselves haven’t been used terribly much. The WildC.A.T.S helped redefine the superhero genre in the early ’90s and even had a Saturday morning cartoon.
Wildstorm has recently been relaunched as “The Wild Storm,” with Warren Ellis at the helm. With Ellis taking over creative control, the universe is in very capable hands. However, how the WildC.A.T.S are utilized in the scope of this remains to be seen, or even how long the revival will last. In 2006, Grant Morrison relaunched the team, but the book was put on permanent hiatus after one issue. Regardless, in the scope of the current landscape of comics, the WildC.A.T.S would be a welcome addition and are definitely under-utilized.
4. OMEGA MEN
The Omega Men were created by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton in 1981 and debuted in “Green Lantern” #141. Since their inception, they have had three series and have guest appeared in several titles such as “Adam Strange.” More prominently, the Omega Men rose to prominence in Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda’s recent run from “DC Rebirth.” The 12-issue series was one of the most critically acclaimed books of 2015.
In the wake of their recent critical success, DC should really utilize the Omega Men more. Their roles as interstellar terrorists/revolutionaries is fairly unique in the scope of modern comics, and it’s always important to strike when the iron is hot. Perhaps the Omega Men cannot sustain a monthly title, but they can perhaps be featured elsewhere more frequently than they have. Before their last run, they were seldom used at all. Giving the Omega Men more panel time would serve DC and its readers well.
3. YOUNG JUSTICE
The Young Justice team was formed in 1998 by Todd DeZago, Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker. Young Justice was the next iteration of the Teen Titans after the previous group had grown up and become the proper Titans. They were centred around Superboy, Tim Drake and Impulse. The team was extremely popular during the Peter David run and its popularity lead to an equally popular animated series on Cartoon Network with the same name.
With the popularity of the “Young Justice” cartoon and its revival in the form of a third season, now is a proper time to bring back Young Justice. They’d have to be differentiated from the current batch of Teen Titans and done in a unique way. However, DC has always thrived on legacy characters, and Young Justice has historically represented the youngest and most unique batch of DC heroes. Having someone of Peter David’s caliber would go a long way as well.
2. LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
The Legion of Super-heroes were created in 1958 by Otto Binder and Al Pastino. They debuted in “Adventure Comics” #247. The Legion were created originally to be a Superboy fan club from the 30th century, but eventually evolved into a full superhero team. They really flourished under Paul Levitz, but since his run, the Legion has often run into similar problems and criticisms as the Fantastic Four, and have not had much footing.
The Legion represent so much potential and imagination. Their stories take place so far into the future that there is practically an infinite amount of things that can be done with them. They have a colorful rogues gallery, and frankly no other team in comics resembles anything remotely like the Legion of Super-heroes. Like the Fantastic Four, the Legion of Super-heroes do not immediately grab a lot of readers, but also like the Fantastic Four, the Legion of Super-heroes represent a slew of potential, and with the right creative team can create meaningful stories.
1. JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
Emerging from the pages of “All-Star Comics” #3, the formation of the Justice Society of America signified the first significant time that a group of superheroes joined forces in comic books. Created by Sheldon Mayer and Gardner Fox, the JSA were the precursors to the Justice League of America, the Avengers and any other superhero team. The book was seminal for its time, as it featured a ton of popular characters in the pages of one book, which was a lot of bang for the reader’s buck. Famously, Geoff Johns, James Robinson, David S. Goyer and Paul Levitz had a very successful run with the team in the mid-2000’s.
The JSA represent Americana and nostalgia at its finest, and while they had an unique run on Earth 2 at the launch of the New 52, the JSA’s role in the main DC continuity has been missing. The JSA are the old guard, the torchbearers for the reoccurring of legacy heroes in DC Comics. They are a constant reminder of the vitality and history of the comic art form, and they, more than any other team, need to be utilized more going forward.
What do you think of the list? Think DC needs to start utilizing some more superhero teams? Sound off in the comments below!