For a team that’s maintained a presence in the Marvel Universe for almost 30 years, the Great Lakes Avengers seldom get the spotlight. This team — comprised of some of the weirdest heroes around — has changed with the times since their debut in 1989, but their comedic tone has always remained intact. This fall, a new “Great Lakes Avengers” series — the first in over a decade — will introduce a whole new generation to the offbeat adventures of Marvel’s kookiest quartet. But before you dive into the deep end with the new series from writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robson, let this guide to the GLA’s history be your flotation device.
The Great Lakes Avengers originally burst onto the scene in a most unexpected manner: fully formed with codenames and costumes, much to the surprise of the real Avengers franchise team. Writer/artist John Byrne introduced the team in 1989’s “West Coast Avengers” #46, wherein Hawkeye and Mockinbird discovered that there was a team of “Avengers” operating in a non-coastal city. And while this quintet of heroes definitely didn’t have anyone’s blessing to use the Avengers name, they were more than just superhero enthusiasts; these guys actually had powers. The original GLA lineup, which has remained remarkably consistent over the past 27 years, consisted of:
Mr. Immortal, their leader, who has a healing factor and automatically resurrects himself following death.
- Flatman, who is not Mr. Fantastic, although he possesses a remarkably similar stretching power; the major difference between the two heroes is that Flatman is, well, flat.
Big Bertha, a supermodel who bankrolled the GLA and also used her ability to increase her mass and strength to fight alongside the team.
Dinah Soar, a pterodactyl-esque hero of an unknown species, who used her sonic voice as a weapon and only communicated with Mr. Immortal.
- Doorman, the cynical teleporter of the crew who manipulates the mysterious Darkforce Dimension.
Hawkeye and Mockingbird allowed the team to continue to use the name and even helped whip the oddball grouping into shape. The team put their superhero lessons to work when they were called to Texas to assist the Avengers in their mission to save Scarlet Witch and the Vision. After seeing what the team was capable of, Captain America gave the team his stamp of approval; the Great Lakes Avengers were unofficially official, as far as they were concerned. They continued to be trained by Hawkeye and Mockingbird and assisted the Avengers in battles against Terminus and the (decidedly less menacing sounding) Stevie.
After their initial stretch of appearances in 1989 and 1990, the GLA fell off the radar for much of the ’90s — that is, until a similarly weird character got his own book and the team found a new home. That character? Deadpool, of course.
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