It took a little over two years after the introduction of the first comic book superhero, Superman, before someone came up with the idea of having a team of superheroes, but once that idea was out there, many other comic book companies followed suit. In fact, you can tell that the idea was already percolating, since the Seven Soldiers of Victory debuted right after the Justice Society of America did (both were in the winter of 1940). Of course, for every one memorable super team, there are two that are forgotten.
That doesn’t mean these teams were bad, just that they never quite caught on with the reading public. In fact, some of them were never intended to become popular, and were always meant to be obscure. One rule that we used in picking these teams is that none had their own title; we figured that if you were memorable enough to get your own comic book series, then you really don’t qualify for this list. In addition, we also intentionally omitted any of the 50-State Initiative superhero teams from Marvel, as there were just too many. Otherwise, enjoy these obscure superhero teams and see how many you remember! They’re in chronological order.
15. Heroes of Lallor
In the future world of the Legion of Super-Heroes, it feels like every possible superhero is a member of the Legion, since the team is so large. However, there were a handful of other superheroes other than the Legion, one of which was the Heroes of Lallor. They were introduced in 1964’s “Adventure Comics” #324 by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte. Due to a nuclear accident, five infants on Lallor were given impressive superpowers. When they came of age, the tyrannical ruler of Lallor had them exiled because he feared that they might lead an uprising against him.
The Heroes were then tricked into thinking that the Legion of Super-Heroes were evil and the two teams battled. The Heroes’ impressive lineup included Beast Boy, who could turn into any animal; Evolvo Lad, whose brain was so highly developed that he was super-intelligent; Life Lass, who could animate any inanimate object; Gas Girl, who could turn into any gas; and finally, their most powerful member, Duplicate Boy, who could duplicate anyone’s superpower. These five heroes were able to take on the entire Legion until the misunderstanding (caused by the brother of an old Legion foe) was uncovered and the Legion brought them back to Lallor, where the people overthrew their tyrant leader and the Heroes of Lallor became a beloved institution. They would help out the Legion whenever they needed it over the years.
14. Freedom Brigade
Once the “Batman” TV series debuted to smash ratings, “Batmania” swept over the nation. One of its effects was an attempt by other comic book companies (and other TV networks, of course) to cash in on the campy comedy behind “Batman.” DC Comics was no exception, and in the Spring of 1966 (“Batman” debuted in January), they introduced a comedic superhero team called the “Inferior Five” in the pages of “Showcase” #62 (in a story written by E. Nelson Bridwell and drawn by Joe Orlando).
The set-up for the Inferior Five was that they were the sons and daughters of a long-standing superhero team known as the Freedom Brigade. Now that they were older and set for retirement, they wanted their children to take over, even if they were not prepared to do so. The patriotic heroes, The Patriot and Lady Liberty, gave birth to Merryman, the bumbling leader of the Inferior Five. Captain Swift, the Flash analogue, was the father of the Blimp. Princess Power, the Wonder Woman stand-in, was the mother of Dumb Bunny. The Bowman, a Green Arrow pastiche, was the father of White Feather. Finally, Mr. Might and Mermaid (Superman and Aquaman lookalikes, although Mermaid was a woman) were the parents of Awkwardman.
The Freedom Brigade only made two appearances; once to inspire the creation of the Inferior Five and then three issues later, they were shown as instructors at a school for superheroes (modeled after Professor X’s school for gifted youngsters).
13. Champions of Angor
The Champions of Angor have a particularly odd history. They were introduced in 1971’s “Justice League of America” #87 by Mike Friedrich and Dick Dillin as part of a pseudo-crossover between Friedrich’s “Justice League” and Roy Thomas’ “The Avengers.” While the Avengers were fighting the Squadron Sinister (analogues for the Justice League, specifically Hyperion for Superman, Nighthawk for Batman, Doctor Spectrum for Green Lantern and Whizzer for the Flash), the Justice League encountered the Champions of Angor, made up of analogues for the Avengers.
The Champions were Wandjina (Australian weather god, analogue for Thor), Silver Sorceress (Scarlet Witch), Blue Jay (Yellowjacket) and Jack B. Quick (Quicksilver). However, when we said odd history, we meant more than just the cool pseudo-crossover! See, Friedrich also decided to use the same story to make a point about the dangers of war, as the Champions and Justice League fought each other on a world ravaged by nuclear conflict thanks to a war caused by an evil corporation called, Cam-Nam-Lao, which was a not-so-subtle reference to the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos that were caught up in the Vietnam War at the time.
Post-Crisis, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis brought the Champions back, only now it was their world that had been hit by nukes. Eventually, after their friends and family were all dead, Silver Sorceress and Blue Jay joined Justice League Europe.
12. Young Gods
It’s pretty common in comics when a writer invents a character or group of characters and is really the only one interested in said character(s). That’s not meant as an insult of any particular writer, it’s just something that happens. In the case of the Young Gods, who were created by Gerry Conway and John Buscema in 1972’s “Thor” #203, it was Conwaywho tried to make the team stick.
The Young Gods were 12 humans from Earth who were chosen by Gaea and other Earth goddesses as the best and the brightest that Earth had to offer. They were then elevated to godhood and kept in suspended animation for the Celestials to arrive. Gaea knew that the Celestials would eventually come to Earth to judge the planet and they wanted to present the Young Gods to prove Earth’s worth. In “Thor” #300 (the only major early Young Gods story not written by Conway), that’s exactly what happened and the Celestials accepted the Young Gods as tributes.
A few years later, Gerry Conway returned to writing for Marvel Comics and he dusted off the Young Gods, prominently featuring them in his “Spectacular Spider-Man” run and seemingly setting them up for their own series. It never happened, so a few years later Conway resolved the plots he introduced in “Spectacular Spider-Man” in a “Young Gods” feature in “Marvel Comics Presents.”
11. Forgotten Heroes
The very notion of comic book characters becoming forgotten was the basis for the appropriately-named superhero team known as The Forgotten Heroes, who debuted in 1983’s “Action Comics” #545 by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane. The team was made up of various DC solo superhero characters that had failed to catch on during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. As it turned out, each of the individual characters had encountered golden pyramids, which brought them all into contact with Immortal Man, who told them that the pyramids were the work of his similarly immortal enemy, Vandal Savage. The heroes then banded together with Superman to stop Vandal Savage and save the Earth.
The original cast of the Forgotten Heroes was Animal Man, Cave Carson, Congorilla, Dolphin, Dane Dorrance (of the adventurer team, the Sea Devils), Rick Flag (of the original Suicide Squad), Rip Hunter and the Immortal Man, himself. Obviously, one of the most amusing aspects of the team is that Animal Man went on to have an acclaimed ongoing series years after he was “forgotten” and Rick Flag was just a major character in a blockbuster motion picture. What was forgotten doesn’t always stay forgotten, though the actual team, the Forgotten Heroes, pretty much has.
10. Force of July
The Force of July were perfect examples of what happens when patriotism tips over into fanaticism. None of the members of the Force of July were bad people, they were just easily manipulated in their zest to serve their country. The team was formed by the American Security Agency and were introduced as foils of the Outsiders in 1984’s “Batman and the Outsiders Annual” #1 by Mike W. Barr and a bunch of artists. Its members included team leader Major Liberty, who wore a suit that gave him super strength and energy blasts; Lady Liberty, who carried a torch that she used to channel her energy powers; Silent Majority, a shy young man who could make duplicates of himself; Sparkler, a young boy with firework powers; and Mayflower, who could control vegetation.
The Force were good guys, but they were good guys who kept getting tricked by bad people into fighting other good guys, like the Outsiders and Infinity Inc. After an ill-fated battle against the Suicide Squad left Mayflower and Sparkler dead, the remaining members joined up with the Squad and soon only Major Liberty was left standing. He died a few years later on another suicide mission in the pages of “Eclipso.” An updated version of the Force of July showed up in the “Battle for Bludhaven” following “Infinite Crisis.” The team members all ended up getting killed once again.
9. Earth Force
Like the Force of July, Earth Force was initially created to be foils for other heroes. They were introduced in 1988’s “Thor” #395 by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. The Eyptian god of death, Seth, who was a recurring foil for both Thor and then later Thunderstrike under DeFalco and Frenz’s tenure, found three people in a hospital and gave them superpowers. Earth Lord was a cop who had been shot in the line of duty. He was given the ability to draw strength and mass from the Earth itself. Skyhawk was an overworked businessman who was in the hospital due to exhaustion. He gained the ability to fly. Finally, Wind Warrior was a housewife who tried to kill herself after her baby died and her husband left her. She gained the ability to control mighty winds.
Seth tricked the newly formed Earth Force into fighting Hogun (of the Warriors Three) and then Thor. Once they realized the truth, they became allies of Thor and Hogun in their battle against Seth. They later became heroes in New York City, banding together whenever they could. They haven’t been seen since DeFalco and Frenz left “Thor” (outside of a Skrull impersonating Skylark during “Secret Invasion”).
8. The Outlaws
The Outlaws are an interesting team, because while they never quite worked out, they did serve as the precursor to a concept that ultimately did (well, kind of, at least). Introduced in 1989’s “Web of Spider-Man” #50 by Gerry Conway, Alex Saviuk and Keith Williams, the Outlaws were five former enemies of Spider-Man who were dismayed when it appeared that he had become a thief. They banded together to stop Spidey, but soon learned he was actually working for Silver Sable. The theft was just an attempt to force the man Spider-Man “stole” from to panic and flee the country and expose his connection to the criminal organization known as the Maggia.
Sable suggested that the villains-turned-heroes, which included Puma, Rocket Racer, Will-O’-The-Wisp, Prowler and Sandman, could work for her on some freelance gigs. They did just that a couple of times, once running afoul of Excalibur. For the most part, though, the team idea fizzled (another instance where once Conway stepped away, other writers didn’t pick up on his idea). However, the basic concept of superheroes working for Silver Sable was continued in her ongoing series, “Silver Sable and the Wild Pack,” as Sandman was a member of her team in that book (as was Battlestar, former partner to Captain America when Steve Rogers had given up the Cap identity).
Marvel Comics had an interesting set-up with their “Transformers” comic, where any character that they introduced would be considered a property of Hasbro, the owners of the Transformers. So conveniently, when “Transformers” writer Bob Budiansky came up with an interesting new cybernetic character called Circuit-Breaker (a young woman left paralyzed during a Decepticon attack who built a cybernetic suit to allow her to walk again and vowed vengeance against all robots), they had her first appear in a Marvel Comic so that they could own her rights.
Circuit-Breaker ended up calming down as time went by (or at least was easier to manage) and later joined up with the Neo-Knights, which was a government-approved team designed to give a human element in the Autobot/Decepticon war. The other team members were Dynamo, Thunderpunch and Rapture. They made their debut in 1990’s “Transformers” #68 and played a pretty central role in the rest of the series, but obviously have not shown up since.
6. The Conglomerate
After a number of years in the Justice League, Booster Gold eventually grew sick of the fact that it seemed like he was viewed as a joke by his teammates and, more importantly, the rest of the world. So, he split from the team (and his best friend, Blue Beetle), and in the 1990 debut issue of “Justice League Quarterly,” by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Chris Sprouse and Bruce Patterson, we found out where he went. As it turned out, Booster Gold was the founding member and leader of the Conglomerate, a corporate-sponsored superhero team that was created by Maxwell Lord’s former wife, Claire Montgomery. Also on the team was former Justice League member Gypsy and Reverb, the younger brother of former Leaguer, Vibe.
The Conglomerate and the League clashed over what the League saw as severe conflicts of interest, and what the Conglomerate saw as sour grapes over the public liking their new team more. Eventually, it turned out that the Conglomerate were being exploited, but Claire was able to gain independence for them. The team was dramatically revamped when Booster Gold left, among others. This new version was the first superhero team that had Jessie Quick on it. The new Conglomerate only had a single appearance, though, and it hasn’t been mentioned since.
5. Justice Experience
In the DC Universe, there was an interesting period of time between the disbanding of the Justice Society of America and the debut of Superman and the new generation of superheroes that formed the Justice League of America. As time went by and the gap got bigger, there were now essentially decades where apparently there were no superheroes on Earth.
The series “Chase,” though, explained what happened a bit in that period. In 1998’s “Chase” #6 (by D. Curtis Johnson, J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray), we learned of the existence of the Justice Experience. They were a team of New York superheroes who stepped into the void created by the lack of a Justice Society. The problem was that they soon found themselves as the marks of the dangerous serial killer known as Doctor Trap. He methodically murdered them all through various death traps. A few Justice Society members came out of retirement to take Doctor Trap down, but the subsequent publicity over his murder trial dissuaded other people from being superheroes for years, until Superman’s debut changed everything. One of the murdered heroes, Acro-Bat, had a daughter, Cameron Chase, who grew up to become a key member of the Department of Extranormal Operations.
4. First Line
Soon after DC was addressing their time gap, John Byrne and Roger Stern decided to do the same in their maxi-series, “Marvel: The Lost Generation,” which explained what happened in the Marvel Universe between the end of World War II and the debut of the Fantastic Four (which, due to Byrne and Stern’s take on the sliding time scale, must have occurred in 1990). So, they had nearly 50 years’ worth of stories to fill!
One of the ways they did this was by introducing a superhero team that existed in a few different incarnations during that half century. Called the First Line, the team consisted of The Yankee Clipper, Oxbow, Effigy, Nightingale, Pixie, Major Mercury, Captain Hip, Sunshine, Kid Justice and the Black Fox. As time went by, heroes came and went and also grew up (like how Kid Justice became Mr. Justice by the end of the series). In the end, First Line successfully stopped a Skrull invasion but most of them lost their lives. The government decided to cover it all up, which is why no one remembers the First Line.
3. Cadre K
Cadre K was an intriguing concept that really never quite bore fruit. In a storyline in the pages of “X-Men,” the team fought against the Skrulls and in the process, came across some mutants of their race, who had superpowers of their own on top of their shapeshifting abilities. They were persecuted back on their planet and were highly undisciplined. Professor X decided to leave the X-Men and go into outer space to help train these young Skrulls, who he dubbed Cadre K (basically a riff on X-Men).
The team members were Fiz (who could grow and shrink), Nuro (who could stretch his body), R’tee (who could make spikes), Spunje (who could absorb energy), Z’Cann (who was telepathic) and Goroth… no one was quite sure what his power was. They got caught up in the “Maximum Security” storyline where Earth was almost turned into an intergalactic prison. They split up with Professor X some time before the Skrull invasion of Earth in “Secret Invasion” (they didn’t participate in it).
2. League of Losers
In 2006’s “Marvel Team-Up” #15 by Robert Kirkman, Paco Median and Juan Vlasco, a villain named Chronok shows up from the future and conquers the world. He is able to do this using his vast knowledge of present-day heroes, which he acquired from carefully studying history books. In so doing, he takes out 99% of the superheroes in one fell swoop, with attacks geared around their specific powers and using information about their secret identities to hunt them down. However, as it turned out, there were a few heroes so obscure that they never quite made it into the history books, and thus these heroes were the only ones left to stop Chronok.
So Speedball, Darkhawk, Gravity, Arana, Dagger, Sleepwalker, X-23 and Terror (from “Terror, Inc.”) find a way to head to the future and stop Chronok before he ever goes back in time. This League of Losers somehow finds a way to stop the villain, but they’re trapped in the future of 2992, but they embrace their new status as well-respected heroes and enjoy their time in the future. Plus, due to stopping Chronok, they are sort of split off from the past anyway, with their past selves continuing to live as if nothing had ever changed.
1. Crazy Sues
“All-Winners Squad: Band of Heroes” by Paul Jenkins and Carmine Di Giandomenico was unfortunately canceled before the series was even given a chance to finish. This was particularly annoying because it was a well-told series about an old, former superhero from the Golden Age, finally revealing his past to his granddaughter and, in doing so, telling her stories from the past of how the Crazy Sues were born. There is a great bit where it is revealed that some of the awful Golden Age comic stories starring these characters were put out there intentionally by the government to obscure the truth of what was going on.
The Crazy Sues was the name of a military group called Specialized Unit, Enhanced Soldiers (or S.U.E.S., then nicknamed “Crazy Sues), where the various non heavy hitter superheroes of the 1940s (basically not Human Torch or Namor) were put together into a unit led by Captain America. The main members were Blue Diamond, Captain Strong, Father Time, Fighting Yank, Flash Foster, Invisible Man, Captain Flame, Moon Man, Secret Stamp, Slow-Motion Jones and Young Avenger (who is the guy telling the stories to his granddaughter).
Sadly, due to the series not doing well in sales, it is unlikely that we’ll see more Crazy Sues stories.
What is your favorite obscure superhero team? Let us know in the comments section!
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