Time Marvel Heroes Fought Teams Made Up of Dead Heroes and Villains!

In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I'll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is "missing" if it is not listed. It's just one of the five examples that I chose.

Today, inspired by my recent article about Nighthawk's return from the land of the dead, I figured I would look at five distinct groups of dead superheroes and supervillains that Marvel heroes have had to face over the years (not counting stuff like that crossover, Necrosha, where Selene resurrected a whole pile of superheroes and villains at once).

The whole concept began in Avengers #131 (by Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema and Joe Staton), which was right in the middle of the epic storyline now known as the Celestial Madonna Saga. Kang needed someone to fight the Avengers, so he put together a team of dead heroes and villains that he would pluck from the time stream RIGHT before they died and make them into a team to fight the Avengers. Englehart was one of the earliest examples of comic book writers who would base a lot of their work on the past continuity of comics (Roy Thomas obviously was one of the most prominent examples, but I think people forget how much Englehart would do that with his early comic book work) and it is funny to see how few options there were for dead characters just a little more than a decade into the Marvel Universe...

Do note that the concept is that these characters aren't actually dead, but rather that they were just taken from time BEFORE they died.

The next time this concept was brought back, in 1987's Avengers Annual #16 (by Tom DeFalco, Bob Hall and Tom Palmer), it was when the Grandmaster had successfully taken over the power of Death herself. He is prepared to destroy the entire universe and start fresh, but the Avengers (who had entered the realm of Death as part of a plan to stop Grandmaster and save their friends, who had been killed earlier in the story) try to stop him. So he created a new Legion of Unliving, now using actual dead characters (of course, the joke is always that these characters are never actually dead due to future retcons)...

After a bunch of battles (involving different artists), the Avengers save the universe, but all but Hawkeye and Captain America are killed. Then they learn that the Grandmaster plans on them fighting the Legion again, only now the dead Avengers are members, as well, and it is just Cap and Hawkeye to fight them all!

Hawkeye cleverly foils the plan by coming up with a trick that the Grandmaster can't possibly refuse...

That last part was really neither here nor there, I just couldn't pass up a chance to highlight that moment. DeFalco really nailed Hawkeye's characterization there.

Immortus then made his own Legion of the Unliving in Avengers West Coast, but because he just did the same thing that Kang did, I'll skip that one.

A different take on the concept occurred in Sensational She-Hulk #34 (by John Byrne and Keith Williams), where the villainous Black Talon resurrected a number of obscure X-Men villains as the X-Humed!

1 2
Star Wars: C-3PO Died a Long Time Before The Rise of Skywalker

More in CBR Exclusives